Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Affair to Remember...I hope

I always try to reveal honest truths about nutrition and food and even my own experience with juggling life and trying to still be healthy and fit all at the same time. But I have shied away from blogging over the last few months because to be perfectly honest I didn't want to be, well....perfectly honest. I want everyone to see me as this super mom who has her crap together. Who can juggle four kids with grace and poise and still cook three incredibly healthy paleo meals a day, run a successful business, and manage to grow some amazing muscles all at the same time. Well, that dream lasted for about 2 seconds after the arrival of our two little foster kiddos. Actually I managed to put on a good act for awhile. But to be completely honest I was struggling like I have never ever ever struggled every single area of my life.

 I felt my world crashing around me and this little control freak was not handling it well. I cried. I cried a lot. (Good news is I have found a great waterproof mascara.) One time at the end of a crossfit WOD I remembered it was Crazy Tie day at my kid's school and I had forgotten to send them with ties on. I immediately started crying and hauled it to the bathroom where I bawled as if I just found out my house had burned down. I'm sharing this now because I think it is important for me to be real because let's face it...nothing is as easy as it looks and I'm pretty sure you are struggling too. It may not be with foster kids that constantly scream and cry or feeling guilty for not being able to focus enough attention on each child in your world or totally screwing up at work over and over again because your desk is just covered in piles of papers that you have yet to find the bottom of because you are too busy cleaning up spills, wiping tiny tushies, and tackling mountains of laundry. For me, I lost myself completely because I hated that imaginary ideal girl that I so desperately wanted to be because there was no stinkin way I was ever going to be as perfect as she is.

And then big decisions had to be made and I was in absolutely no condition to make them. After lots of back and forth, tears, nausea, more tears Levi and I decided we were not the best home for our littles. We had been informed their mom was working hard to get them back but she lived 6 hours away which meant the kids were not having any contact with her and definitely losing any bond they had with her. They needed to be closer to their mom and we needed to regroup and recover our family. So last week we packed up six totes full of toys, clothes, and shoes, pictures, letters, school work,  two bikes, a bed frame and mattress, the two CPS issued bags of clothes and diapers, and two little backpacks full of car entertainment, favorite stuffed animals, blankies, snacks, and drinks. Then with tears filling our eyes and pretend smiles on our faces we told those babies how much we loved them, will ALWAYS love them and that God was going with them even though we couldn't. We buckled them up, kissed them a hundred more times and then they left our home and our protection and I am still struggling with not knowing how they are doing every day. But each day gets less sad and all I keep thinking is how absolutely amazing it is that God used us to be a tiny part of the plans He has for those beautiful children who will always remain in our hearts.

I said all that to get to this part of the story...goodness gracious I am wordy. So in an attempt to grieve and heal as a family of four once again, we loaded up the four wheelers, filled the cooler with yummy meats, veggies, and evil non paleo foods, packed up some mud boots and warm clothes and headed to a cabin in Oklahoma. It was exactly what we needed to reconnect. We spent our days with our arms wrapped around each other on the four wheelers, fishing, wading in knee deep freezing river water, taking naps in the sunshine, and cuddling up all together in one very small queen sized bed despite there being two more beds to choose from. It was perfect! Kind of...

I learned a few important glamping (glamorous camping...thanks Jenny) lessons in those three short days.

1.) Some water really stinks. All the water in our fancy cabin smelled like rotten eggs. Levi acted like this was normal and I loved the way my hair felt from it but I seriously couldn't stand to drink it. The nearest grocery store was over an hour away so I just sucked it up and decided dehydration isn't THAT bad...right? Lesson learned...always take water.

2.) Mud boots are completely ineffective when the water level is higher than the top of the boot.

3.) No matter how much I pack there will never be enough socks.

4.) TV commercials are the devil! We don't have cable or satellite at home so we just watch shows on Netflix or Amazon. But at the cabin we had every channel known to man and the kids were completely sucked into it from the time they woke up to the time we were dragging them outside to enjoy some fresh air. But those commercials were killer. We'd be making breakfast and could just hear Jack and Addie constantly saying, "I want that. I want that. I want that." BLAHHHH! It was awful.

5.) (Here is the part of the post that is paleo...sorry it took so long to get here...writing is therapy.) CHEATING SUCKS. Like really really sucks. Before paleo, we used to always have real biscuits and gravy when we would go glamping. So we made the conscious decision to make real non paleo biscuits and gravy for breakfast. I was soooo excited! I was so disappointed. It just didn't taste as good as it used to. I felt like it left a film in my mouth. Gross. And then worse than gross mouth film it made me all bloaty and yucky feeling. My tummy pooched out for days! Even my fingers and ankles were swollen. Seriously, not pretty. And then to make matters worse we stopped at a cute pizza/bbq/baked potato restaurant and because I already felt like crap and vacation was about to be over I ordered the Loaded Baked Potato that was covered in a thick layer of cheesy awesomeness. I'm not going to was good. But while I was eating it I thought "I bet this is going to make my skin look bad this week." For some reason when I eat dairy my right shoulder breaks out into a rash. Weird. But sure enough 20 minutes later rash appeared...and stayed for days. So I have been kicking myself all week for these cheats that really were not worth it at all.

I have also noticed this week my body hurts differently during workouts. Not the muscly, this hurts good kind of hurt. My joints hurt...bad. I couldn't do overhead squats because my wrists were killing me so badly I had to stop...which really ticked me off. And I have had slight headaches all week. I can't say for sure that all of this is from increased inflammation due to bad food choices but I'm inclined to think that it plays a pretty huge part. And the craziest thing is I know all of this. I freakin preach this to anyone willing to listen all the stinkin time!  Why can't I just grow a brain and remember to not cheat because it sucks?!?! I have no answers. And hopefully my experience at paleo and life struggles and disappointments will help you feel better about your own. We are going to always struggle in this life...even in the small things. There is no need to pretend perfection. Let's be real. Let's eat real food. And let's give each other and ourselves some grace.

You don't have to be perfect to make this super simple yet fancy meal. Maybe it isn't fancy but I always think anything wrapped is special...kind of like a present. ( birthday is just a couple months away...I like shiny things, just so you know.)

Pork Belly Wrapped Pork Chops with Roasted Cauliflower and Fall Medley

For the pork wrapped pork:
Pork belly
Pork chops
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 coconut aminos
3 TBSP fresh chopped rosemary...If you need some you are more than welcome to the overgrowth of rosemary in my garden.
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP vinegar of choice...I used white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Place pork chops in gallon sized baggie. Pour all ingredients except for the pork belly (I wasn't sure if I needed to say that or not but just to be clarify...). Stick in fridge until one hour before you want to eat dinner. Then pull out of fridge, wrap each pork chop with the pork belly. Place in casserole dish and pour remaining marinade over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.

For the Roasted Cauliflower.
One head of Cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 TBSP Thyme
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
3 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large bowl or gallon sized baggie add all ingredients and toss. Pour onto foil lined baking sheet and roast in oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

For the Fall Medley
Butternut squash, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, diced
2 Apples, diced
2 Pears, diced
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans or both
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 TBSP coconut oil

In a large bowl or gallon sized baggie add all ingredients and toss. Pour onto foil lined baking sheet and roast in oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

I prepared everything in advance the night before and just left the side dishes in baggies until it was time to throw them in the oven.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

According to this paleo freak

There is this weird phenomenon that happens when you go want everyone else to go paleo too. Sometimes I wonder if everyone thinks I'm so pro-paleo because I own a health food store and therefore it is making me rich. But I actually want to be very clear and absolutely honest about that...I actually have lost money since bringing in paleo staples, grass fed meats and organic produce into the shop. Augh!!! Not too bad though. I'm certainly not giving up on it. There is just quite the learning curve when it comes to selling product that has a short shelf life. Plus I've had to buy and extra freezer for all of our meat in order to meet demand and it is surprising how much electricity those things pull. So I'm telling you all this for the sake of explaining that I am a paleo freak not because it is bringing in the Benjamins baby but because I'm just a paleo freak, plain and simple. And this is why:

1. Paleo is cool. That's right. All the cool kids are doing it. Obviously...I'm doing it. It really is the trendy thing to do right now. I personally feel like one of the most important things in life is to stay trendy. And that is why I wear skinny jeans. Skinny jeans are still trendy, right? Crap. I'm not sure anymore because all I ever wear is workout clothes. Would someone please send me a message if skinny jeans are no longer cool? Okay, so maybe this isn't the best reason but we still have nine more to go.

2. Paleo is a lifestyle diet not a weight loss diet. This is not something you do to meet a goal and then go back to what you were doing. Paleo isn't a program that you sign up for. This is something you do because you want to feel this amazing forever and because there is no reason to stop. Yes, if you have weight to lose you most likely will lose the weight. But because we are eating the way our bodies were intended to eat then we will have the physique we were intended for as well.

3. Cooking is fun. At least for me. I know not everyone enjoys cooking and that is okay too. You still have to eat. I don't enjoy cleaning but I do it. Actually Levi is so OCD that he follows me around the kitchen cleaning up all my super huge messes. Sometimes I don't know why he puts up with me and then I remember that I am absolutely adorable and then it all makes sense again. But really learning how to cook with all these new cool paleo ingredients like arrowroot powder, palm shortening, and coconut aminos is kinda like being a scientist in your kitchen. Unfortunately some experiments fail and end up exploding all over your white cabinets...oops. :)

4. Real food taste SOOOOOO good! It is really weird how processed food no longer appeals to me at all! In fact, I actually have found that I would rather be hungry than to eat something that not only taste funky but is going to make me feel funky too. The flavors of real food far surpass the sauce drenched foods full of toxic yuck. Just the difference in the taste of a grass fed steak compared to a grain/corn fed steak is unbelievable. I always used steak sauce before switching to grass fed meats and now I just put a bit of salt and pepper and that steak is full of flavor.

5. We get to eat until we are full. Oh this is just so important to me! I hate being hungry like I hate being cold. The worst is going to bed hungry! So glad I don't do that anymore. I remember making sure my meals were lean and had low caloric value. My tiny little portions were hardly enough to sustain me but I was within the allotted amount of calories suggested by all the health gurus for my weight and height so I had to be healthy, right? I am just so glad that is not my life anymore. I love eating. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! Food no longer is the enemy that is trying to make me fat. It is my brain fuel. It gives me strength. It provides my energy. Food is my friend...awe, how sweet. (Told you I was adorable.)

6. Paleo can be tweaked. It isn't this strict set of rules that keep your life so limited that nothing can be enjoyed anymore. For instance, dairy isn't considered perfect paleo except that a lot of people do really great on raw dairy. Therefore those people should enjoy the snot out of some raw cheese. (Quick plug....the Sunshine Shoppe carries raw cheese now...check it out!) One of my favorite things about guiding others down the path to paleo righteousness is when that person cheats and accidentally drinks a beer or has a bite of a cookie and then feels this incredibly strong need to confess their paleo sins to me. I certainly don't mind anyone needing the reassurance that they will not burn in paleo hell and I really love the power I apparently have to forgive these sins.

7. Coffee, Bacon, and Butter. Do I need to say more?

8. It is considerate of animals. Okay so some of you that know me well know that I am not the biggest animal lover. I don't know why? God just didn't make me one of those people that likes to dress their pet in designer outfits with matching bows and act like it is one of their kids. But I certainly don't believe in cruelty to animals and if any of you have watched Food, Inc then you know that our country's meat industry is nothing short of unnecessary torture of God's creatures for the sake of making buck. You don't have to be a crazy Vegan (sorry Jacqui...I love you) to honor the authority given to us by God over all creation.

9. The paleo lifestyle not only prevents disease but can also reverse it. I don't know about you but this whole health care thing is getting a bit crazy. And unfortunately we don't have a lot of control over the situation. But we can take control of our health and limit our need for health care services by eating foods that are going to reduce inflammation in the body, normalize insulin levels and heal our digestive system. The paleo diet is centered around those goals...low inflammation, balanced blood sugar and a healthy gut. So many of our county's leading causes of death...cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, cancer are directly related to our fact they are considered "westerner diseases" because other countries with different lifestyles and diets do not suffer from these diseases.

10. It just make so much sense. Really it is pretty basic. We were created by an amazing God and He gave us everything we need to sustain life and live according to the purpose we were created for. Now if you don't believe in the Creator then I'm pretty sure not much of anything makes sense in your life so you might want to give that some thought. Just saying.

So is everyone ready now to drink the Paleo Kool-Aid? Just kidding we don't drink Kool-Aid...way too much processed sugar and food coloring.

Have you guys paid any attention to how beautiful everything is lately? I feel like I'm in some weird Tim Burton movie because everything is so colorful and gorgeous! I just fell in love with these acorn squash (maybe I'm sick) because of their flowery shape and beautiful color. And this recipe is oh so yummy!

Acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
Palm sugar
Grass fed butter

1. Place squash face down on foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350.
2. Remove from oven and turn over.
3. Spread generous amount of butter over the inside of squash.
4. Sprinkle with palm sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and just a pinch of salt.
5. Return to over and cook for additional 30-45 minutes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

This one is kind of sexy.

I'm not exactly sure where this post is going but I do know that I will be discussing sex hormones and I also know that a few of my readers are youngish (which I am very proud of you for taking an interest in your health at a young age) but if your mom and dad still buy and pay for your well EVERYTHING then I would appreciate it if you would stop reading right here and go get one of them to read this first to be sure the content is appropriate for your sweet little innocent mind...not that this is going to get raunchy or anything but it is not my place to teach anyone else's kiddo about the birds and the bees. Watching Doogie Howser was my introduction into sex education and I fully believe that everyone should have the same experience. :)

Because I grew up in the weird environment of drinking cod liver oil, liquid garlic, and chlorophyll it was not at all strange to eat tofu. In fact, I always considered tofu really healthy because it was gross and a funky texture so it obviously was some fantastic metabolic healer. Plus the Chinese eat soy and they are so stinkin thin so Ta And really I didn't start to question my stupid logic until I had my son.

Jack had to have emergency surgery when he was not quite 3 weeks old and therefore we had to supplement some with formula because he needed more than my exhausted, stressed out body could give him through breast milk alone. So we just used what the pediatrician gave us in the hospital which was a soy formula. But after a bit we noticed our little trooper was still having some pooping issues and lo and behold after taking my child's health into my own hands and researching the snot out of every book and website I could find I was shocked by what the studies were linking to soy.
  • reproductive problems including infertility and decreased testosterone
  • hypothyroidism
  • weakened immune system
  • decline in cognitive skills
  • malnutrition
  • digestive issues
  • heart disease
  • cancer
Now let's be honest...the conclusions drawn from studies are often biased and don't actually prove causation. But as always I think it is important to draw my own conclusions based on my experiences and observations as well as research. I have experienced my son having major digestive issues when taking soy formula and I have witnessed a growth in testosterone increasing supplements being sold over the last 10 years.

So why would either of these things point to soy? Well let me just tell you. The soybean contains antinutrients, two of which are phytates and phytoestrogens.

Phytates or phytic acid disrupts the enzymes pepsin and amylase used for breaking down protein and starches in the stomach and trypsin that is needed to digest protein in the small intestine. Phytates also bond to minerals our bodies need and therefore decreases absorption. So no good news there...but it get worse.

Phytoestrogens are a plant compound that resembles estrogen. Estrogen is good. We need estrogen...both men and women, BUT God made us in such a way that our bodies already take care of that. We don't need to be ingesting more estrogen. All that does is confuse that very sensitive hormone balance in our bodies. Think of hormones as a seesaw. When one hormone goes up the other goes down. Now of course it is a bit more complicated than that but this is a cutesy health blog that is fun and breezy so I'm totally not going to bore you with the specifics. But here is the problem...estrogen is up there on the top of that seesaw having a grand ole time but testosterone is just chilling down way at the bottom. And let me tell you we want testosterone because that hormone is fun and makes us skinny and have muscle. It is what gives us our sex drive and well I personally think that is pretty stinkin important for us married people. And for those of you that aren't married just CALM DOWN. Yes abstinence sucks, I don't know what else to tell you...go eat some tofu.

I used to have men in their 60s and 70s come into the shop asking for a natural testosterone supplement. Today men in their 20s are telling me they have low testosterone and no sex drive! This is not natural or normal but it is happening more and more. I always ask about diet and what are they supplementing with. I kid you not, most of the young guys are supplementing with a soy based protein formula! And for those of you who just let out a sigh of relief because your protein powder is whey, double check your protein powder's ingredients. A lot of time the front of the label will scream WHEY PROTEIN but it will actually be a blend of whey and soy.

But the scariest part is that even if you are not pounding back 120 grams of soy protein you are most likely getting it in small doses all day long. Really start paying attention to the ingredients in your foods, especially those "healthy" snack bars. These companies are crazy smart and they know we look at nutrition labels. They know we want to see that little number next to PROTEIN to be more than 10 grams so that we feel like we are eating good. Got my protein...check! But if you check the ingredients I can pretty much guarantee that it will most likely be from soy. And the reason for that is because soy is cheap and we have so much of it. And usually it is from Soy Protein Isolate which is fancy for soy oil waste. And on top of that 90% of all soybeans grown in the US are those GMO boogers!!! We are a freakin science experiment when we put those scientist created foods into our bodies. But just not our adult bodies but also those sweet little monsters God has entrusted to us.

A Swiss study showed that two cups of soy milk or 1 cup of cooked soybeans provided the estrogenic equivalent of one contraceptive pill!! Yikes! And we give this stuff to kids! No wonder we have little girls starting their periods in grade school. And we also give this to our teeny little babies. It is believed by some that babies on soy formula get the equivalent of 4 or 5 birth control pills a day! Geez Louise.

So I'm pretty sure any male that reads this is going to be reading those labels from now because we all know how you feel about testosterone. But women need testosterone too! Obviously not as much but still some. Because my influence reaches all of about 6 people I have had the experience of hearing several testimonies of how going paleo has increased sex drive a ton. I truly believe it comes from taking the soy out of the equation and letting our bodies balance our hormones naturally...the way God intended. Happy sex life ya'll! :)