Monday, April 22, 2013

Just get rid of stress

We are spending the next few posts discussing weight loss/management. Hopefully the last post on fats gave you hope that you can still enjoy butter without the guilt and even better yet coconut oil and feel proud of your wise health choice. I find that we as a society have some real misconceptions about weight. We think if we just put enough mileage on our Brooks, eat less fat, and think skinny thoughts we will eventually get back into those really cute jeans that have most likely already gone out of style and back in again. But like I said before, this health thing is complicated.

I have the very best customers at my shop. They are informed. They take a proactive approach to their health. They desire more from their bodies than just feeling okay. But I have noticed these same customers get so defeated and flabbergasted when it comes to losing weight. They are doing all the "right" things but can't seem to drop the weight. So I go down the list...
  • What is your diet like? Usually people think they have a healthy diet. I was one of those people. I thought my pantry filled with whole grains was good for us. I thought canola oil was the healthy oil. I thought eating less meat was keeping us lean. I was wrong. But those that are totally eating all the right things may still find that they are struggling with weight.
  • Are you getting exercise? Are you active daily? Most people say yes. Especially those that are trying to lose some LBs. Running is usually the response. Everyone is training for a 5K. But for some reason they cannot lose the fat around around their belly.
And then I ask the question that ALWAYS gets the same answer...
  • Are you stressed? YES! It ranges from dealing with work issues, caring for an elderly parent, being a mom of toddlers, making the paycheck stretch, etc.
Let's face it, we don't live on the beach selling seashell necklaces. This life is full of schedules, traffic, taxes, kids that say "mommy" 9,562 times before lunch, deadlines, expectations, bills, clothes dryers breaking, irritating people, and Walmart. We are constantly in a state of stress. I know I am. I opened up one my littles clothes drawers yesterday and found a completely full pullup from the night before just hanging out with all the other clean clothes. (I would say at this moment in my life laundry is one of my top 5 stresses.) Even writing this blog sometimes feels stressful because even though I love the outlet it gives me I feel a very strong sense of responsibility to write truth in an understandable way...which is sometimes difficult. And all these stresses affect my body in a very physical way.

God made us in such a way that when the zombies come chasing after us our bodies will respond in a way that we can run to the nearest telephone pole and scale it (because zombies can't climb...depending on who is writing the story). Stress is kind of like a superpower activator. All of a sudden we can do things we never could before. That is why a lot of us find that we can focus better when there is a closing in deadline. It is the way our body responds to stress. So let's break it down...

You are walking down the road with your backpack full of apocalyptic gear (this includes water you have stolen, cans of disgusting food like soggy asparagus and spinach that was picked over at the beginning of the apocalypse but hey it's still paleo, a bat that you have driven nails through as your weapon, and apparently some makeup because everyone always has mascara on in these types of situations). You look to your right and there is a whole crowd of hungry zombies. First your hypothalamus clicks into gear which triggers that flight or fight response which comes from your adrenal-cortical system and your nervous system floods your body with adrenaline and noradrenaline which makes you super focused on the issue (zombies) before you. At the same time your pituitary gland secretes a hormone called ACTH that travels through your bloodstream to your adrenal cortex where they will then send out up to 30 different hormones to help you respond to the stressful situation. One of these many hormones in cortisol. This hormone is responsible for rapidly releasing glycogen stores for extra energy.

Here is the problem and why stress leads to weight gain...We aren't being chased by zombies (yet) but we are under CONSTANT stress ALL THE TIME and we rarely allow our bodies to recover and reset. So guess what happens when our body is constantly being flooded with cortisol? It causes all kinds of issues including brain fogginess, immune system shutting down, low thyroid function, blood sugar irregularities, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, and INCREASED BELLY FAT.

So what is the answer? Well obviously it is just to get rid of stress. Duh. That's easy. UHHHH NO. Not easy or maybe not even possible. I wouldn't know. I am so lousy at this. But I do what I can when I can and I guess that is what you should do too. Everyone de-stresses differently. My favorite way to de-stress is running but according to a lot of the paleo world running causes the same effect on your body as stress. Eh...don't know what to tell you here. Running and coffee are just two vices I'm not willing to give up. So yeah, I pretty much suck at this stress thing. I do limit myself to only 2 miles so I don't have a prolonged stress response. (Please forgive me Robb Wolf.)

 I would say that probably the best thing I ever did for stress was two years ago Levi and I had a whole year of just saying no. We do this thing at the start of the year where we have a goal or a theme (This is a serious thing for us...not a cutesy Pinterest idea). This year's theme is GROW. It is hard and is really painful. But two years ago our theme was KEEP IT SIMPLE. And during that whole year we didn't sign up for things or tackle any house projects and we limited our kid's extra-curricular activities. It was AWESOME! We saved a ton of money and really learned how to enjoy what is real again. This was an extreme case of taking a break but I think it is a good idea to at least highlight a week on your calender and just say, "This week we are saying no. We are going to be home for dinner. We are going to take a nap. We are going to watch cartoons. We are going to just be." Make it official and gather the family around as you discuss what you think are necessary activies and what you can eliminate for the week. There is something special about putting it in writing. We use a chalkboard. But when it is writing it is a reminder that you are doing this not because you are lazy but because you planned this break because your body requires it for you to stay healthy, for your family to stay whole.

Taking a B-Complex supplement is another good idea. B-12 is especially important for stress. I also really like an amino acid called GABA. I have taken GABA when all I can think about is having a glass of wine but it is 10am and it probably would be the saddest thing ever for my kids to find me drinking alone in my closet. Just kidding...kind of. You try talking to a sales rep or customer while three tiny people are all begging for the most ridiculous things and they are all demanding they have it this very minute while the dog is barking at the stupid squirrels and the dryer buzzer just went off for the fifth time because you keep having to dewrinkle this load. Life is crazy. GABA can sometimes help take the edge off. But ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS talk to your doctor before self-prescribing. (You can't take GABA while on MAOIs). 

Sleep is also pretty stinkin important to this stress thing. It is all about the recovery. If you have a difficult time relaxing enough to just fall asleep then try some magnesium. My absolute favorite is called CALM. But make sleep a priority. I would even say, and so would Robb Wolf, that sleep is more important than working out. I had a friend tell me the other day that she was getting up and working out super early every morning just to be able to fit it into her very crazy schedule but she just wasn't seeing any results. But after reading Robb's book she traded the workout for sleep and soon saw it making a difference on her weight and her well-being. Something to think about.

I love my recipe for today because it is super stress free and looks like something you would have at a spa while you are relaxing after your massage.

Fish Tacos with Pineapple Mango Salsa


Frozen Tilapia fillets (I buy them in a big bag in the freezer section. These are great because they thaw quickly in a bowl of water, and I have yet to be able to overcook them...even after leaving them under the broiler for 10 minutes.)
Olive oil
Old Bay Seasoning
Salt Pepper
Butter Lettuce or any lettuce you can use as a taco shell
Sweet bell peppers
Red Onion

Thaw the tilapia fillets. Pat dry and then rub with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with Old Bay, salt and pepper. I go heavy on the Old Bay but it gives it a kick so watch out.

Broil fillets in oven until they look done. (Seriously, you can't overdo this part...I've tried.) I like mine to be browning on the edges. Kind of chop it up into bite size pieces.

Chop all of your salsa ingredients. I have no measurements. Sorry. I just chop until the mixture looks pretty. Squeeze in some lemon and add a bit of salt.

On a plate fill lettuce with some fish and top with salsa. Ta-da!

THEN...that's right people! We have leftovers! YAY!

Take your leftover fish and salsa and throw it in a gallon sized baggie. Toss in a few handfuls of salad mix and add your fav dressing. See my balsamic vinaigrette below.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper

Add ingredients to a jar and shake. EASY PEASY.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The fat fight

So it is about to be bikini weather people!!! Or maybe one-piece with built-in spanks and opaque cover-up weather. I'm not going to lie...this time of year is goooooood for business at my little health food store. People start coming in droves looking for that magic pill that will drop 10-130 LBs before school is out. Seriously people?!? Really? If I had that pill I would be living it up on my very own private island watching my husband and kids swim in our indoor pool filled with cash because I would be the richest person in the world. I understand that weight loss is not easy and sometimes you do need something to take away the cravings or curb your appetite and to be honest I do have some pretty awesome weight-loss/management supplements that totally aid in your weight management goals but let's be reasonable here, there is work to be done on your part aside from tilting the glass of water up to swallow the pill. And by work I do not mean just working out.

Yes, you should be active and I highly encourage some sort of workout added to your day. But there is sooooo much more to weight management than exercise. And more than diet. (Gasp!) What? There is more to weight management than the magic pill, diet and exercise? Yep. Sleep and stress are HUGE factors too. Our bodies are made complex and intricate. Health is never going to be simple because our bodies are not simple. It takes work to be healthy. Part of that work is educating yourself. So I thought we would work through some weight loss misunderstandings and highlight areas of focus for the next few posts starting today with Fat Facts.

I have found what people have the most confusion over is fat. We try to be educated about fat.
Fat =bad...right? But we really are all backwards and upside down on this issue. It is complicated and a bit confusing. We hear saturated fats cause heart attacks but coconut oil which is mostly saturated fat have shown to prevent atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease in studies. Well that is confusing. And we are told low fat is best. It is healthy. It is the wise choice. Yet fat is one of the best energy sources we have for 90% of our daily activity and certain fats are pretty critical to our brain function. So let's try to break this fat fiction down.


I know what you are thinking, "Well, I know trans fats are evil and should be avoided at all costs. I read. I'm informed. I do not need another person telling me to stay away from trans fats. I got it. Let's move on." But ohhhh, you are wrong my sweet little well-read friend. And I was wrong too. But to give us a little credit we were kind of right too. (See, I told you this was all confusing.)

Man-made trans fat or hydrogenated oils are the stinkin evil we thought it was. Trans fat are found in a lot of processed foods. You know, the kinds found in those middle aisles of the grocery store that you should never even try to walk down because you will lose the battle. Especially if you take your FOUR kids. And even if it doesn't say trans fats on the label that doesn't mean it is free and clear. The lovely FDA came up with this even more lovely (please sense the sarcasm) rule that states that as long as the foods have less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving then it doesn't have to be on the label. WHAT!?!?! Why even have that rule? What is the point? I could get all conspiracy theory on you here but I bet you could too. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2 grams of trans fats a day. So if you have four servings of a product with .5 grams of trans fats (but you don't know this because it isn't labeled) then you are already at your daily limit. And let's be honest, when you open up a box of girl scout cookies you are probably going to eat the whole stinkin box, not just one serving. That's right...girl scout cookies are one of those sneaky less than .5 grams guys. (I love Thin Mints and Samoas so I'm not hating...just telling you how it is.)

So why does the American Heart Association tell us to limit this man-made fat?  It raises your LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and lowers your HDL (the "good" cholesterol). It increases inflammation (which we know leads to all other health issues) and can even cause you to gain more weight than the high fat fats, especially around your belly where it affects your health the most. So stay away at all costs. But wait...there is another side to this coin.

Tran fats are also found naturally occurring in meats and in higher amounts in the very expensive but well-worth the cost grass-fed meats. So don't start screaming at me yet for encouraging and selling these wonderful healthy meats. This kind of trans fat is called CLA. Ever heard of it? Montel Williams and Dr. Oz love the stuff. CLA stands for conjegated linolic acid. CLA is not bad for you, it is not even just neutral, it is actually really good for you. It actually reduces the risk of heart disease and has shown to prevent and improve the management of type II diabetes. And here is why Montel and Oz love it so burns fat. That's right! It is a type of fat that helps you stay skinny! Super cool!


Next up are monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs. These fats are good, plain and simple. MUFAs improve blood pressure and cholesterol and research has also shown that they also benefit blood sugar levels. And they also reduce inflammation. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are avocado, avocado oil, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olive oil, and olives. Unsaturated fats are generally best for cold uses such as dressings because the healthy antioxidants are reduced when cooking.

Now for more confusion: Saturated fats from REAL food are not bad. No, that can't be right. We have always known saturated fat is pretty much why America's leading cause of death is heart disease. It's from eating all that red meat and butter, right? Wrong. Saturated fats are totally the misunderstood middle child. Epidemiological studies have linked heart disease to saturated fats but it seems like with further digging we find that the link isn't exactly what we have previously thought. Palmitic acid is the type of saturated fat most correlated with insulin resistance and inflammation which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. This is kind of confusing so stay with me here. PA (palmitic acid) is found in foods like meat and eggs and therefore those foods have had a bad rap in the past because long-chain saturated fats such as PA increase risk for heart disease. But there are other fats in these foods such as oleic acid that prevents the PA from inducing insulin resistance. But there is a food that can actually cause our liver to convert glucose into palmitic acid when the liver and muscle glycogen stores are full...CARBS. When you eat too much carbohydrate it is converted into PA by the liver which would lead to having a lot of PA in your system because there are none of the protective fats to go with it. There is your reason for cholesterol and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. This whole time we have blamed the meat in the hamburger when all along it was the whole wheat bun.

Some healthy saturated fats are grass-fed butter, duck fat, lard (pig fat), tallow (beef fat), eggs, meat, palm and coconut. And I would go as far as to say the very healthiest is coconut. Coconut contains a large amount of medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. MCTs are very healthy and because they are shorter-chain fats they are metabolized quicker than the long-chain triglycerides, therefore they are more likely to be used for energy rather than stored as fat. Awesome! Bikini here we come! Coconut is also beneficial to your brain health, immune system, and it makes a great moisturizer when applied topically. I personally use coconut oil as often as possible. I cook practically every food in it and although initially I was concerned with all my food having a coconuty taste I have found that I don't even notice it.


And lastly we have polyunsaturated fats, PUFAs. These are generally bad when coming from seed oils such as canola, chia, corn, cottonseed, flax, grapeseed, hemp, palm kernel, peanut, rice bran, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower. PUFAs are high in omega-6 which we know from previous posts, can cause systemic inflammation. PUFAs are also found in nuts ranging from 2% in macadamia nuts to 72% in walnuts. These are also sources of omega-3 which is awesome and wonderfully healthy except this omega-3 is in a form called ALA which the body has to convert into the beneficial DHA and EPA and conversion doesn't always work perfectly due to lifestyle and other diet factors. So eat sparingly but enjoy.

I hope that all made sense. The fat thing really is least for me. The main thing is to not fear fat. Be knowledgeable about what fats you are consuming and make the best choice according to what you know about how these fats work inside your body. And enjoy some bacon and butter for crying out loud!

Just to get you kick-started on you road back to eating fats, here is a yummy treat:

Bacon wrapped Macadamia Dates

Dates, seeds removed (I buy mine at Costco)
Uncooked sugar-free bacon, cut in half shortways (available at the Sunshine Shoppe)
Macadamia nuts (I also get these from Costco)

Stuff each date with a macadamia nut and wrap with bacon. Place on a roasting pan (the kind that has little slits in in the top flat pan that sits in the deeper dish.) Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Enjoy but don't go overboard. Dates are fullllllll of sugar.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the works

I haven't been keeping up with posting lately because I've been busy doing laundry. Literally. Just And so far I have never gotten to the end. I thought today would be the day but the kids just had baths while the last load was washing which means I now have another full load to do. Boo. You know those people that post on facebook all the things they accomplished that day. It goes something like this..."All laundry completed...check! Dinners for the next five days prepared and freezer ready...check! Ran nine miles...check! Climbed Mt. Everest....check! Taught my kid a second language...check!  Grew my own nonGMO corn...check! Solved world hunger...check!  Now it is time to make lunch!" As much as I want to be that person I kind of loath that person too. My facebook post would read like this..."Still alive." But honestly I've got more going on than just laundry. I may not be teaching my kids a foreign language and the only mountain I'm climbing is the dirty clothes pile but I do have a few projects in the works at the moment and even though nothing is final on any of them I wanted to share what is running through this grey matter of mine. I can pretty much write a huge long list of projects I would like to accomplish ranging from redoing my girl’s bathroom, finally putting in landscaping after almost 9 years of living in our home, painting my toenails etc. I’ll be honest, I think about those things a lot but they have not quite made it to the top of my list. I need to do some list rearranging soon because it is time for open toe shoes and unmanicured toenails are just not attractive.

Very high on my list of priorities is something I feel very passionately about…my son’s school which also happens to be the same school I attended all the way through graduation. I am very fond of this school and I am overjoyed that I can send my kids to an environment where they are loved, valued, and the biblical values taught in our home are reinforced and interwoven throughout all school lessons and activities. The issue that I’m about to discuss really is not related to just our school. In no way do I want to point fingers at one particular establishment. It just happens that this is just where God has put this overly health conscience momma.
I don’t know about you but I feel like I am ALWAYS having to fight for my children’s health. There is always a bake sale with sugar-filled treats, food coloring covered bags of Cheetos, fast food hot lunches, and fundraisers selling soft drinks and deserts. More often than not I have to be the bad guy and tell my little dude that he cannot participate in the bake sale or that he can only take part in one of the four days of hot lunches. Of course he tells me that EVERYONE ALWAYS gets to participate in EVERYTHING except for him. I know this isn’t true but I also know that it probably feels that way to him because I am always saying no. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is important lesson for my son to learn. He needs to not only know that sometimes we miss out on things because they are not good for us but also that he doesn’t always get everything he wants. But I think there is room for improvement on the school’s part too. I don’t think bake sales and hot lunches need to go but I have some ideas of how things could be tweaked so that the kids who have nutrition conscience parents can still participate by being given healthier options.

I have spent a lot of time creating lists, spreadsheets, calling health minded businesses, researching fundraising options, creating cost effective alternatives and praying that this passion I have is not my insanity but has been put there by God for a reason. I have gone to the sports administrator and the headmaster and was given the green light to get a group of parents together who would be willing to jump on this little health bandwagon of mine and start making some small changes such as a day of hot lunch that consists of REAL food with REAL ingredients and switching out chips for baby carrots or apples. But here is my delimma...I am starting to wonder if I am all alone in this mission. Am I just a crazy health nut who is trying to push my ideals on everyone else? Does anyone else care? I am a little nervous to find out. My biggest fear in all of this is that I am the only one that cares enough to make an effort and therefore I am going to be killing myself trying to do a healthy hot lunch by myself when I could just stick to making my kids healthy homemade meals instead of worrying about everyone else's children. But I honestly believe that teaching children to care for their bodies is biblical. Our bodies are the greatest resources we have to do God's work and we are to be good stewards of the resources He has provided. So I'm pushing forward. I'm going to make my team and maybe someday I'll have those kids eating kale and Brussels sprouts. I'll be happy with green beans and carrots though too!
Another passion of mine is my health food store. It is growing like crazy which is awesome but we are busting at the seams in our little location. But God hasn’t given us a definite direction or push to move quite yet so we are just going to make our tiny 600 square feet work for now. I have wanted to bring in organic produce for a while now but could not make it work with the space we have available and meet the minimum required to order. But a new opportunity has presented itself that I am so ready to jump on. At the end of April, Sunshine Shoppe will be offering 10 lb. and 20 lb. boxes of organic fruits and/or veggies. I will be able to advertise what produce will be in the boxes a week in advance so there are no surprises. Customers can then order whatever size box they want by Saturday and pick up their organic produce on Wednesday any time during working hours. How cool is that! The planner in me just loves this because I will be able to plan my meals according to the veggies I know are coming in my box. Plus you can choose all fruit, all veggies, or 50/50. Another cool thing is that each farm that contributed to the box is listed and my supplier buys locally as much as possible.

The last big project I’ve been bouncing around is hosting my very first paleo workshop. Typing this paragraph is my first step into moving forward with this. I have lots and lots of people tell me they are interested in paleo but they just don’t know how to get started and they don’t want to read a book about it. I’ve created a paleo quick start packet for customers to pick up and read but I have found that people, myself included, do better when they can put their hands on the paleo products and see what a paleo meal looks and taste like. So this is what I’m thinking…I’ve got 5 spots available for my first workshop. We will make several paleo recipes together in my kitchen while I introduce paleo concepts, products, and helpful tips. I don’t have a date scheduled because I wanted to see if I had any feedback or preferences from those that are interested. I can even provide child care from our background checked, CPR certified nanny. If you have been considering paleo but don’t know where to start, or maybe you aren’t ready to actually do paleo but want some healthy meal options, or you know a friend or family member that would be interested, or you just want to hang out with me then contact me either through leaving a comment, facebook, or email (which you can find at  ). I know I am still learning about paleo and probably always will but I know that God has provided me the resources and the passion to pass on what little bit I have figured out to others.
I made my first recipe-type meal since the arrival of our new littles. It was a HUGE hit despite the fact that it turned out nothing like the picture. We are starting to look at beach houses for our summer vacation and it put me in the mood for something tropical and Melissa Joulwan’s Bora Bora Fireballs definitely hit the target. I left out the jalapeno and cayenne pepper to make it more kid and husband friendly but you can make it as spicy as you like.

Bora Bora Fireballs


1 ½ cups shredded coconut

½ tsp. plus ½ tsp. salt

1 can crushed pineapple, packed in own juice (I used fresh pineapple chopped very fine)

2 TBSP coconut aminos

1 ½ tsp. dried ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ scallions, white and green, very thinly sliced (1/4 cup) (I used 1 shallot because that is what I had)

½ fresh jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely minced (I didn’t use)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 pounds ground pork


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the coconut. Toast, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. (It took mine longer…about 8 to 10) Remove from the heat and sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper. Set aside to cool. (Do not taste unless you plan make extra because you will want to keep eating it while you are cooking. Love toasted coconut!)

Drain the can of pineapple in a sieve placed over a bowl to catch the juice. Save your juice for later. Press the pineapple pulp against the sieve with a wooden spoon to extract the excess moisture. Place 1 cup of the drained pineapple in a large mixing bowl.

To the pineapple, add ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cayenne, coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, scallions, jalapeno, and eggs. Beat with a wooden spoon until combined. With your hands, crumble the pork into the bowl and knead until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Arrange the bowls of pineapple juice, spiced coconut, and season pork for easy access. Measure a level tablespoon of pork to make a meatball. Lightly douse it in the pineapple juice, then roll it in the coconut, pressing the coconut shreds into the meat by lightly rolling the ball between your palms. This is a rare case in which more isn’t better so don’t go cuckoo with the coconut (Melissa’s words, not mine). Line up the meatballs on the baking sheet, about ½ inch apart.

Slide the meatballs into the oven and back for 25-30 minutes, until sizzling and golden brown.


(NOTES: Our Bora Bora balls turned out more like Bora Bora patties but they still tasted lovely. Next time I will probably make the balls ahead and stick in the fridge for a bit and see if that helps them hold their shape. I would love for them to turn out all ball shaped and perfect because they would be great for packed lunches. )

Serve with Sunshine Sauce. We also had with our meatballs with sweet potato chips and guacamole.

Sunshine Sauce


2 TBSP lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 TBSP coconut aminos

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp rice vinegar

¼ cup Sunbutter

Dash ground cayenne pepper (I leave this out)

¼ cup coconut milk

Place all the ingredients except for the coconut milk in a food processor and whirl until well blended. Scrape down the sides of bowl and then add coconut milk. Process until well blended.

Enjoying this meal will have you dreaming of salty air, ocean waves, and sandy beaches. Man, I really need to get my toenails painted!