Friday, June 28, 2013

Paleo on vacation

Levi and I celebrated our ten year anniversary last month and we treated ourselves to a vacation for not only surviving things such as building a house while in college, our three-week old undergoing surgery, graduate school, lots and lots of business travel, two large house construction projects, running a business and taking on the task of raising four beautiful children but also for falling more deeply in love and become stronger and more solid in our desire to serve each other and our family.

We stayed at the El Dorado Royale in Playa Del Carmen. It was GORGEOUS!!! We picked this resort for two reasons...
1. Comfortable beds
2. Seven AMAZING restaurants!!!!

This vacation was all about sleeping and eating. We would wake up from an amazing nights sleep, eat, go chill on the beach on our fancy beach canopy bed, nap, eat lunch, lay on the beach some more, eat dinner, lay on a hammock under the stars, order room service around midnight and then back to more of that amazing sleep. It was MAGICAL! 

I have read a bunch of blog posts about how to travel and still stick to the paleo guidelines. It usually requires an entire suitcase full of jerky, precooked sweet potatoes, nuts, paleo bars, dried fruit and carrot sticks. This was just way to much work for me. I threw some bathing suits in a suitcase, grabbed a few tiny dresses and called it DONE. I still wanted to stay paleo but my "plan" was just to wing it...because that always works, right?

We started out good. I knew the flight wouldn't have paleo snacks to offer so we stopped by Blue Mesa in terminal D and filled up on some sweet potato chips, guacamole and salsa. We love Blue Mesa and eat often at the one across from North Park. It is a great place eat pretty clean without having to give your waiter a list of items to remove from your dish.

Once arriving at our very humid paradise (my hair doubled in size) and after surviving the gauntlet at the airport we were getting hungry again. We chose the Korean restaurant at the resort as our first meal mainly because it was the closest to our casita. We made a slight allowance and had sushi with rice but made sure our main course consisted of mostly protein. That is when we learned our first lesson about the El Dorado Royale... Yes the food is amazing and all inclusive but the portions are TINY. Like maybe four bites of actual protein tiny. This girl eats a lot and I was a little concerned I was going to starve on this trip. But we figured out the game quickly and started ordering two or three entrees a piece.

And yes I ate it all and yes, I still looked good in my bathing suit. I was actually kind of amazed because usually on vacation I feel all bloaty and gross after eating lunch because I eat whatever sounds yummy at the time because it's vacation...right? But this time by sticking to mostly protein in my meals I never felt that overly full, yucky feeling even though I ate as much as I wanted.

Breakfast was super easy to get the protein in. It consisted mostly of black coffee, lots of eggs, and lots of bacon. Lunch was a bit more difficult because we didn't want sandwiches or pasta salads. We made it work though. Then there was that awkward time between 4 and 6 when there weren't restaurants open and all you could get was a sandwich, wrap, or smoothie from the "Health Bar." I would almost feel panicked during this time. All that was in our minibar was alcohol, sodas, candy and cookies so that wasn't an option. I managed to survive but every day wished I would have brought some jerky.

We made some paleo exceptions in order to enjoy some of the local flavors such as tamales, empanadas and a few of the deserts. But we were really able to stick to paleo pretty good for every meal except for that midnight room service snack. We splurged and ordered nachos and cookies and I don't even regret it. They were THE best nachos I have ever had in my life. I miss chips...a lot and I felt good about making the choice to enjoy something that may not be the best option for me but was not going to hurt me as a special treat.

But then on the last day we kind of let the whole "treat" concept get away from us. It was like we knew all the special was about to be gone so we were going to eat as much of it as possible. We had coconut almond pancakes (which sounds healthy but had wheat), cream cheese filled French toast, along with our eggs and bacon. Then on the plane ride back I became blissfully aware of the grilled cheese smell wafting through the recycled air. I got ridiculously excited about having no other options than choosing between the melty carby cheesy sandwich or obviously starvation. But then that wicked flight attendant ruined my perfectly good excuse for diving into that grilled cheese by offering me a luke-warmish beef salad. Blah. But I was strong and stuffed that barely edible meat down my gullet and chased it with my teeny tiny glass of wine. Yay me! I make good health choices...

Well...that was pretty much my last good nutrition choice for the next few days. For dinner we went to our favorite little stone-fired pizza place and although we could have ordered quail or salmon we chose creamy crab dip with thick bread to dip into it, and super cheesy pizza. Not paleo in any way.

Okay, but that was still technically vacation because we hadn't made it home yet. I would do better tomorrow. Tomorrow was a new day. Except I continued to succumb to my cravings instead of choosing foods that were nourishing to my body. I didn't go crazy. I still ate mostly paleo but I gave in to lots of "treats." If I grabbed a coffee from Starbucks with cream then I would  have this mindset that the whole day was ruined so I might as well take advantage and eat as much corn chips, tortillas, ice cream, and cheese as I wanted throughout the rest of the day. I continued on this way for about three days and then I started to feel it.

I just felt yuck. Kind of draggy. My workouts sucked. My mood was not pretty. My skin was definitely not glowy. My tummy was not happy. I didn't poop for three days!!!

So I cleaned up my act once again. It is incredible to me that I could actually forget how bad I used to feel before paleo. But it was a good reminder of why I spend more money on our grass-fed, organic, clean foods, and why I constantly make the choice for nutrition over quick gratification.

But now that we are back on the paleo track again we have missed Mexico. We actually found a Pandora station that plays Mexican music and bought the ingredients for our favorite beach side drink and made the following recipe in order to recreate a tiny part of our amazing stay at the Eldorado. This meal is great served with kale chips (organic kale found at the Sunshine Shoppe) and a simple cherry tomato and avocado salad.

Mexican Stuffed Mushroom Caps

2 lbs. ground beef
1 lb. ground chorizo
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 tsp. garlic
2 TBSP coconut oil
Taco seasoning (See Below)
1 egg
Portobello mushroom caps (these are in this week's produce box at the Sunshine Shoppe)

Saute the onion, pepper, and celery in 1 TBSP oil until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add all the ground meat and cook until browned.

Add 1 TBSP of taco seasoning and egg to meat and veggie mixture.

Put mixture into food processor in small batches and pulse four or five times.

Rub remaining coconut oil onto the mushroom caps. Fill mushroom cap and pile high. Place on a cookie sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


1 TBSP chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion
1/4 crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Mix all of these spices together and store in an airtight container. I like to make a huge batch of this to use when needed.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pretty much my three favorite, butter, and nerds.

We are almost halfway through the year of eating paleo. I am amazed at how simple it now seems. In January I thought I was going to pull my hair out and now it just seems like second nature to choose meat over grains. And if you have been keeping up with my posts you know that I am now crossfitty so I also am pretty physically active. But what now? I'm not sure if I'm looking for a challenge or just want to get my health to an even greater level but I'm trying something new. Have you heard of INTERMITTENT FASTING? If you are in the nutrition world you probably have. I hear about it all the time in paleo podcasts and have read several articles on it. It sounds pretty stinkin awesome...sometimes.

Intermittent fasting seems to promise decreased fat stores, increased metabolic rate, increased longevity, decreased risk for cancer and increased muscle building. Sounds really cool to me. But what is it?

Well, there are lots of different ways to do an intermittent fast. Some are every day, some are once a week, and some are inbetween. But the idea is to go an extended period of time without food, drinking only water and sometimes allowing for black coffee. (THANK GOODNESS!) Some even suggest the day before you fast you should go crazy and eat all kinds of carbs, including grains. That one came from an article in Men's Health Magazine and I will go ahead and say that some of those articles are just baloney. It's not like you guys read that for the articles anyways. Some of the fasts last 24 hours other 18 or even less.

But here are the problems...

#1. Women don't seem to do so great on these fasts. Sure, they get all those wonderful benefits listed above but along with those often comes acne, hormone imbalance, sleep issues and irritability. Our feminine bodies were made to make babies but when we restrict calories for a long period our bodies think, "Holy crap! This must be a famine! Obviously there isn't enough food available for everyone to eat so we sure as heck better not make any more little mouths to feed." And therefore your body gets all weird hormonally. Some women stop having a period completely. And as lovely as that sounds it is not good or healthy.

#2. Some of us are real stinkers when we don't eat. You might be the next Mother Teresa but if you skip a meal you turn into the next freaky Jason with those scary long fingernails and creepy smile. And if you don't become the next serial killer you may be like me and your brain literally stops working and it takes you 20 minutes to put on your kid's shoes because you put them on the wrong feet 3 times in a does that even happen? So basically you have nothing to fear from me on a fast because I may have the intention of cutting your throat but I will get confused just trying to find the knife.

#3. Food is good. Who doesn't want food? I want food. Food is pretty high on my list of things I find important. It smells good. It tastes good. It makes my belly stop sounding like I swallowed an angry bear. I enjoy people more when food is around. It is a social buffer and also a social instigator. What exactly do you do at a dinner party if you can't eat? Drink some water I guess...that sound fun.

But don't give up on this intermittent fasting concept quite yet. I have recently discovered the most amazing concept...Bulletproof Fasting. Dave Aspry is this Silicone Valley genius who uses technology to literally hack his health. I really fall hard for the nerds so I pretty much love Dave's website, Bulletproof Exec and his podcasts. He created Bulletproof Coffee which in my opinion is  the greatest discovery known to man ever. He completely debunks all the coffee=evil myths and explains that coffee is actually GOOD FOR YOU! Let me say it again, COFFEE IS GOOD FOR YOU. I'm not quite sure if I believe this or if I'm just going with it because it makes me feel good about the fact that I am utterly and totally addicted to coffee and I don't even feel bad about it. Dave explains that coffee increases our memory recall, is high in antioxidants, increases fat loss, and increases our workout performances. I am so glad to hear all that but quite honestly I'm going to drink coffee so that all of my kiddos survive past breakfast.

But Dave takes coffee to a whole new "upgraded" level. This amazing genius of a man puts grass-fed butter in his steaming hot cup of joe. WHAT?!?!? That's right, butter. Now this just sounds amazing to me because I am the type of person that would eat butter all by its lonesome. I know that I'm weird. I've made peace with it, you should too. So why the butter in the coffee though? Well grass-fed butter provides CLA which helps your body metabolize fats but even more importantly it keeps your body from going into starvation mode because it now thinks, " must be good right now. This chick is drinking butter, getting good fats, and therefore we can actually increase our metabolic rate and function at a higher level." And our brain loves it too! And as an added boost Dave recommends adding MCT oil to promote ketogenesis.

So what does the Bulletproof fast look like? In the morning I wake up, stumble into the kitchen as quietly as I possibly can in hopes that I will not wake any of the tiny beggars that live in my house. I make a cup of coffee using Dave's Upgraded coffee beans, add a tablespoon of KerryGold grass-fed unsalted butter and MCT oil. Pour it into my magic bullet cup and pulse until all blended and frothy. SOOOOOO good. I drink this cup of coffee like it is my last meal. I relish every second I spend with this cup. It smells amazing. It tastes incredible and as long as I don't make very loud oooohhhh and aaahhh noises I can manage to drink the entire cup in peace. By the time it is all gone I feel pretty darn good. I am ready for the begging/demanding to begin. I feel confident that everyone is going to live to see the end of the day.

Then I don't eat until 2pm. I know that sounds just awful but really it hasn't been difficult at all. If I feel hungry I just have another cup of bulletproof coffee. The butter in the coffee really does help suppress your appetite.

Now one thing I want to point out...I do not want to lose weight. I am not trying to reduce my calories. My biggest reason for trying this Bulletproof fast is to get my brain back. I am a world-famous (at least I should be) plate spinner. I've got kids 1, 2, 3, & 4 spinning around up there. Then add a husband, a business, grocery shopping, laundry (counts as three plates, sort, wash, put away), church responsibilities, school stuff, cleaning potties (which seriously rarely happens but I think about it a lot), cooking, extended family and friends, and of course facebook and you have an amazing circus act. Well recently my plates have started spinning out of control. Last week I didn't even realize we were in the last week of school until that Wednesday when I ran into another mom and when I asked her why she had her kids with her she said, "Well, they got out at 11:30 today because this is the last week of school." This was at 2pm! My poor baby was forgotten! Sometimes I can't believe the state of Texas would ever deem us responsible enough to care for our two littles. I could probably make a pretty sizable list of all my failings lately but I don't think I can handle the criticism. But my point is that I am willing to try this fast if it is going to give me an edge in the plate spinning arena.

Okay, back to the fast. After fasting for 18 hours, at 2pm I break my fast and eat a little bit. I like almond butter and some apple slices or celery and a wheat grass protein drink. Then I go to Crossfit. Get a new bruise. Feel awesome about it. Then I come home and eat a paleo dinner. I eat until I am full. Then around 7:30ish I eat another small meal. I try to make sure it is high in calories and protein because I am trying to get in the entire day's calories into 6 hours. Then after 8pm I don't eat again until 2pm the next day while drinking the Bulletproof coffee. It really is pretty simple. To be honest, it works really well with my schedule and I feel like I'm getting more done because I'm not constantly peaking in my fridge as if somehow it will magically produce something different from what was in there just 30 minutes before.

So that is what I'm doing right now. Four days a week I'm doing the Bulletproof fast and I guess we will see how well it works for my plate spinning skills. This is something cool to look into if you are ready for the next thing. Intermittent fasting is not really something for the paleo beginner. It is really important to be fat adapted before taking this on. At the very least this makes for an awesome way to have your paleo coffee in the morning.