What We Ate Wednesday: October 3 – 9

In case you missed it, I posted the first of these bad boys last Wednesday and it was AWESOME. This week’s is not so exciting as I was gone for dinner several nights, which is not the norm. When I have been home though I’m getting back into the groove of cooking which I really really love. I also planned out meals for the whole month for the first time in my life and it’s been SO great! At the end of the month I’ll share the whole list.

Whatever Wednesday: 

Last week I went to Charleston with my friend Jonelle for a Beautycounter workshop (and other general fun having shenanigans) and I’m not sure what exactly Marshall and the kids had for dinner on Wednesday but I think it was Five Guys. Lincoln gets a little cheeseburger from there with just cheese and a side of pickles. When I go, Em and I share the burger in the form of a bowl. She loves the ground beef, tomato and mushrooms. Also: FRIES.

We had the most amazing grits in Charleston… twice. I had the pork belly grit bowl from Hominy Grill and then later that night I had pimento cheese grits from Fleet Landing. 

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Three Piece Thursday: 

I really hate how lame the name of this is, but basically the goal is to just cook a meat and two sides. We had shredded chicken from the instant pot, broccoli and rice I think. I did not take a picture. It was not super interesting, but it did sustain us long enough to live another day. So, a win.

Fun Friday:

I got called into a birth! I was lucky enough to meet up with one of my best friends in Winston Salem and her daughter at PDQ before baby was born. I have no idea what my family ate for dinner. I had 5 grilled tenders, fries and honey mustard because they have the best honey mustard in the world.

Pizza Saturday:

Normal gluten free cheese pizza for the kiddos, 4 Meat Aldi pizza for the husband and I tried a GF cauliflower crust from Trader Joes and it was pretty awesome. I’ve never had cauliflower crust before and I loved it. I added some basil pesto sauce from Aldi, grass fed cheddar from Aldi, and pineapple (from, you guessed it…) and it was SO good. Would eat again. Many times. Over and over.

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Snacky Dinner Sunday: 

I missed this too! I normally don’t plan anything for Sunday evenings but I had the opportunity to do a brand shoot for a friend and I ended up having a bowl of Multigrain Cheerios with almond milk for dinner. It was not very exciting but I just wanted to go to bed and I can’t fall asleep if my belly is hungry.

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Salad and Smoothie Monday:

Asian salad night! Normally we add the salad mix to a bed of greens but the greens had gone bad and I didn’t know until I opened the box! Salads were a little slim but we compensated with our green smoothies (check out The Lazy Genius’ guide to smoothie making– changed everything for me). Shredded pork was a pork butt in the instant pot. Part of my flow is to cook several pounds of meat on Monday that is not seasoned to reuse throughout the week for many meals. If it is shredded chicken or pork, I’ll use my kitchen aid mixer to shred and add whatever seasoning after the fact. This pork got doused with some yummy ginger salad dressing (from Aldi… do you sense a pattern here?) and salt. I added some chopped apples and I would give it an A+. IMG_8938

Taco Tuesday Pot Roast Tuesday: 

I rescheduled tacos for Thursday to accommodate some friends that are coming over for dinner, and cooked my favorite Instant Pot meal ever. Wellness Mama’s Pot Roast is my JAM. We started out following the recipe to a T, but now we do the really lazy delicious version:  cube the meat, over season with Italian seasoning,  sauté for a few minutes until brown, add 1 cup of broth to the pot and push the meat/poultry button. I think it cooked for 45 minutes + pressurizing times. I roasted baby carrots in avocado oil in the oven at 425 the whole time the roast cooked and made  cauliflower mash (faux mashed potatoes) and my favorite shortcut baked apples in the microwave. I actually made the mash differently than I ever had and it turned out really good! I am trying to stop using the steam-in bag veggies in the microwave (suddenly I’m freaked about chemicals in those… long story) so I cooked two bags of frozen cauliflower in a stock pot on the stove. I added avocado oil and probably 1 cup of bone broth (Trader Joe’s version!) to the pot of cauliflower with a lid and let it steam them, I added salt, garlic salt and two tablespoons of Kerrygold butter once they were cooked and broke them apart with a wooden spoon. I got out the immersion blender and blended them until they were the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Seriously, pot roast + mashed potatoes + carrots is my ultimate favorite meal of all life. Can’t wait for leftovers.

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Up next: 
Sweet Potato Hash
Taco Bar Thursday
Tilapia Nachos
Breakfast for Dinner Saturday
Dinner at my in laws on Sunday

What We Ate Wednesday: The First One!

 

It’s possible I hyped up this blog post a little too much, my pictures aren’t quite as exciting as I remember them being when I took them BUT. What we ate Wednesdays. It’s a thing. It’s happening! This is the first one and the bar is set low my friends, so come back in one week.

I’m not a full week in yet because we’ve spent the last week or so traveling (and a hurricane before that) but next week. It’s on! Eating Paleoish at home! It really is possible.

A little food background for me and why we eat like we do: I don’t have any diagnosed food allergies. I’ve done the testing and I’m not allergic to anything food wise. I have not done a food sensitivity blood panel though, but based on my elimination dieting in the past few years I have a good idea of what is good for me and what isn’t. 

I’ve always had eczema but it got really awful (Topical Steroid Withdrawal style) in 2014 so in 2015 I went paleo and did autoimmune paleo and figured out what foods work well for me and what don’t. Outside of the paleo framework I haven’t done an extensive reintroduction with different grains, but in general I tolerate most gluten free grains, goat’s milk products, and occasional conventional cow dairy. For the past year I’ve been living ON THE EDGE out of pure exhaustion and laziness but I’m slowly coming out of it. Meal prepping healthy meals just wasn’t realistic for me in the season of new motherhood of two and now that I’m totally done breastfeeding (and not as hungry ha!) and am in a little bit more control over my schedule/sleep I’m getting back into it! And honestly feeling so great. I literally feel well, and I feel GOOD about eating better and serving healthier meals to my family. A win win!

Both my kids have sensitive skin and eczema (but are clear right now and have been for most of their lives!) so we avoid gluten totally for Emmeline (we’ve trial and errored and it gives her belly pain and unhappy poops) and most dairy. Lincoln tolerates a little gluten here and there but he has a patch of eczema on his face that pops up when he’s crossed the threshold of too much. End background, resume blog post. 

Our current meal rhythm is helping me so much. I hate being locked into a plan but I also NEED a plan or we throw it all away at Chick Fil A or Chipotle. Every time.

The rhythm right now is kind of boring, but we are loving the parameters. It is really fun deciding what kind of tacos to eat on a Tuesday instead of WHAT OF ALL THE MEALS WE’VE EVER EATEN SHOULD WE EAT ON TUESDAY? Ya feel me?

Mondays: salads + smoothies
Tuesdays: tacos
Wednesdays: whatever
Thursdays: three piece
Fridays: nachos or soup
Saturdays: pizza or brinner
Sundays: snacky dinner

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Pizza Saturday: Frozen pizzas, my friends! Usually with carrot sticks and/or cucumbers but this weekend we had apple slices because… we had apples slices. We’ve tried like all the different gluten free pizzas around, but the cheese pizza from Aldi is our jam. I buy two cheese pizzas for me and the kids and we usually have a few little pieces leftover, and the kids love it. Marshall likes the regular people four meat pizza that’s like a $1.99 at Aldi and ta-da! Saturday night. I love made up holidays and little family rituals and Saturday pizza nights feel SO weekend to me and give us a break from cooking. Also, once I get all the way back paleo it will be easy to swap out my cheese pizza for a paleo crust sans cheese, etc.

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Snacky Dinner Sunday: This is our favorite! We’ve done this for years, and it’s become so much fun now that both kids are eating real food. We usually buy some fun meats and cheeses from Aldi and then just throw out all the fruit, crackers and any other snacky things we have laying around. I was inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven and Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family to light candles a few weeks ago and we had our own little special Sabbath. Again, I’m a sucker for family rituals and I love this Sunday one. We’ve usually been serving at church all day, and had weird naps and dinner on the living room floor is a great regrouping before heading upstairs for bath and bedtime. I think I like most that it will grow as the kids grow and turn into a family meeting. We try to talk about our week ahead but Lincoln and Emmeline just get louder when we try to talk to each other.

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Salad + Smoothie Monday: This week was the southwest salad mix + mixed greens and plain chicken meat from a whole chicken I cooked in the Instant Pot. Back in my best paleo days I made a weekly whole chicken for broth and used the meat for soup, nachos, lunches, etc. so I’m trying to get back into the habit of cooking a whole chicken on the reg. The kids don’t like salad so much so we throw their greens into the blender for green smoothies and we just started making ones for ourselves too. The salad comes with tortilla strips, cheese and buffalo ranch. I passed on the cheese and ranch and used our vegan ranch and added a little Sriracha on top! It was excellent. A little spicy but the smoothie (greens trio + mango + pineapple + coconut water + almond milk) was an excellent compliment.

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Taco Tuesday: Every Tuesday is taco Tuesday. And so it shall be forever! Last night we had ground beef tacos, which we almost NEVER do and I was ready to use a GF wrap from Aldi but then I ended up just eating the insides and it was amazing. I added avocado and goat cheese, diced tomatoes and greens and it was so filling and so flavorful, I could not stop talking about what a great job I did cooking. And by cooking, I mean remembering to thaw out the meat in an appropriate time and cooking it in the frying pan for like 10 minutes and throwing some spices on it. I ended up filling up my bowl twice and couldn’t quite get a photo of it full either time. Marshall ate his with cheddar cheese and regular flour tortillas, and we made the kids quesadillas with the ground beef and goat cheese. Lincoln requested a little cheddar be added to his and Emmeline ate all of hers without any complaint (she never really complains) and ate an entire avocado and a half because she is the best ever. Sidenote: my go to “taco seasoning” is some of the following: paprika, garlic salt, salt, oregano, onion powder.

Coming up!

Wednesday: I’m out of town, Lincoln picks! Most likely will be Five Guys.
Three Ingredient Thursday: Egg Roll in A Bowl
Fun Friday: Nachos
Saturday: Brinner

 

2017 GOALS | part one

I’m still working on the action steps, but I have my “whats” and “whys”. Realistically, I know a good chunk of this year is going to be about surviving. A new baby means sleep will be lacking, as will time to myself and my ability to have clear coherent thoughts most of the time. My goals this year are really “big picture”, I’ve have had some ‘action steps’ written down and just haven’t really gotten them rolling yet. I have a lot of little things to do to get ready for baby (including quite a bit of work to prepare considering I’ll have a newborn the last month or so of my spring and yearlong courses and no maternity leave).  The idea of coming up with strict goals for this year with strict action steps I would likely not follow through with was really stressful and overwhelming so instead, I’m just focusing on the big picture.

Our pastor encourages us to come up with a word for the year of what we want to define or describe what God will do in our life. Nothing really came to mind for me so I asked Marshall what his was. He chose abide from one of our new songs we sing at church Hallelujah, Here Below. It’s one of my favorites. I love the message and perspective. So much.

We are an altar of broken stones
But you delight in the offering
You have the heavens to call your home
But you abide in the song we sing
Ten thousand angels surround your throne
To bring you praise that will never cease
But hallelujah from here below
Is still your favorite melody
And should the fire that once burned bright
Become an ember my eyes can’t see
I will remember your sacrifice
I will abide in your love for me

Jesus Christ our king enthroned
all the praise is yours forevermore
Hallelujah, Here below
All the praise is yours, forevermore

Let this be me this year! In the hours of pain, labor and delivery, where time stands still.  In the fog and cloudiness of early postpartum days. In the  eternal, seemingly never ending weeks and months of sleep deprivation and healing in my body. In the moments of toddler tantrums and crying babies. In the heaps of laundry, piles of dishes, accumulating dirt and dog hair. In the unanswered emails, text messages and assignments ungraded. In the reality of something always left neglected, unfinished, incomplete and undone. Let me abide in your love for me, survive on your word, rely on your truths and believe the promises for my future. This is my big picture for 2017. 


2017: Abide 
2016: Thrive
2015: Simplify
2014: Goals
So here’s my big picture. I wasn’t sure how to categorize them this year. It’s a combo of what worked, what didn’t work, what I want to make time for and actions I guess for abiding.

Maintain. 
  • Diet. 
  • Routines.
  • Personal photo taking and organization. Digital workflow with Lightroom and uploading to personal Smugmug. 
Improve.
  • Time management at home. 
  • Adhere to chore/housework rotation to do a little bit daily, so I don’t feel overwhelmed when it all starts to pile up. 
  • Finish work during the day. / Improve workflow to be more efficient. 
  • Online storage of RAW files.
  • iPhone photos. Take less, delete more, keep fewer. 
Enjoy.
  • Family time! 2+ a week, finish work before Marshall gets home so we can unwind, cook dinner, and play with Lincoln before bedtime and have QT after bedtime (aka play Monopoly Deal) 
  • Baby books! Yes, plural. I still haven’t finished Lincoln’s. Finish Lincoln’s, prepare baby girl’s so once she’s here all I have to do is write stuff down and print photos. 
  • Print pictures for our photo wall from 2016 and 2017. 
  • Order/finish my 2016 Chatbook (I currently have a ticket open with them, I have three stubborn photos that won’t go into my book….).  
  • Read for fun (post forthcoming with books for the year!) 
  • Take care of myself. 6k step goal daily, water daily, vegetables + vitamins daily. Smoothies 2x a week, broth 2x a week. relaxing baths 2x a week. 
  • Enjoy newborn days. No visitors first two weeks (sorry, but also not sorry!). Sleep, recover, nurse and savor! 
  • Make seasonal goals/bucket lists for quality family time. 
Abide. 
  • Read and study the Bible frequently. 
  • Listen to uplifting, encouraging podcasts.
  • Pray frequently.
Happy New Year! 

Recipe: For Real Healthy Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies (AIP, paleo, grain free, dairy free)

One of my favorite recipes from Danielle Walker is her breakfast cookies. I’ve shared before how I’ve remixed her recipe, and I’ve now come up with a great variation that we love! 

These are a favorite of all three of us. Lincoln loves to eat them, and we love how easy it is to hand him a cookie– and we SUPER love that they are dairy, grain and refined sugar free. The sweetness comes from ripened bananas and a few dates and they are a perfect breakfast on the go, snack stand alone or companion to an afternoon cup of tea while the baby is sleeping. I like to batch cook these guys and freeze them in sandwich baggies of 4-5 cookies. They don’t stick together as much and I can just grab a little baggie and stick them in the fridge over night or grab one if we’re headed out on some errands or an adventure for the day.

This fall I plan to experiment with spices to come up with a solid pumpkin spice cookie. I shall report back! Also, if you happen to pick up a tub of the Coconut Spread at Aldi, you can spread some of that on these bad boys and try not to eat 12 in one sitting. AIP pumpkin cream cheese roll. Not kidding. Also, just a disclaimer, these are not crispy or crunchy like you may be thinking a cookie should be. They definitely are more of a soft and crumbly cookie, which make them an excellent early food for babes and toddlers.

Ingredients (makes about 30 cookies):

  • 4 super ripe bananas (mashed ~2 cups)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (~1.5 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons palm shortening
  • 6 pitted dates 
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • juice from half a lemon 
  • 1 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • you’ll need parchment paper or foil with coconut oil for greasing. 
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Put bananas, pumpkin puree, shortening, dates in food processor (we have/love this one) and puree until smooth (30 seconds to a minute or so– may take a minute to get the dates chopped if you don’t soak or pre-chop ahead of time)
  3. Add coconut flour, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda and lemon juice. Pulse to combine. 
  4. Add coconut and dried cranberries. Pulse to combine. 
  5. Scoop golf ball sized balls of dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil greased with coconut oil to keep from sticking. Flatten balls and shape into the size cookie you want, they will not expand in the oven. 
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cookies are brown all over and slightly firm to the touch. Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container in the fridge or freezer. 
  7. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. 

Recipe: Comfy Chicken Casserole (AIP/Paleo, grain free, dairy free)

Four score and a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon this recipe in the depths of Google. We made it pretty much per the directions and it turned out a little watery, but overall we were happy with the taste (so good) and decided we’d add it into our rotation of paleo dinners. It’s pretty simple, basically just steamed broccoli and mushrooms chicken and bacon with a garlicky cauliflower puree and some herbs, baked all together.

A couple of days ago we revisited it, and this time left out some stuff, and changed it up a bit and it was AMAZING. All three of us cleaned our plates (even the 18 month old!) and Marshall went back for seconds and cleaned his plate again. This is definitely a recipe we will be doubling in the future and making when friends come to visit!

It has the taste and texture of comfort food, but made completely grain and dairy free and therefore nutrient dense and delicious for you and your people.

Some quick facts about my kitchen and how we cook:
1) I rarely have fresh spices/herbs. I currently have basil and rosemary growing in my garden (aka I haven’t killed them yet) but I am forever using dried spices/herbs. So do that if you don’t have fresh.
2) We don’t really measure stuff.
3) We prefer steam in bag veggies to fresh, because EASY.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil or fat of choice (we usually use coconut or olive oil, or bacon fat) 
  • 2-3 pounds of chicken, cubed/shredded and cooked 
  • 1 bag of steam in bag frozen broccoli 
  • 1 bag of steam in bag frozen cauliflower 
  • 1 cup baby bella sliced/chopped mushrooms 
  • 3 pieces of bacon cooked and crumbled into pieces 
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (or just coconut cream) 
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic 
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or a couple of leaves fresh if you have them)
  • 1 tbsp dried/fresh parsley 
  • some sea salt 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Cook the chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, bacon! Heat oil/fat in a large size skillet/pan on the stove over medium heat. If you haven’t cooked your chicken yet, add it to the pan first with the 1 tbsp fat and salt. Once it’s cooked thoroughly drain and set aside. Microwave your bacon, broccoli and cauliflower while chicken cooks.
  3. Cook the mushrooms and combine everything in baking dish. In the skillet, add the last tbsp of fat and sauté the mushrooms. Once softened add the already steamed broccoli to the pan, careful not to add excess water. Add the chicken back to the pan, as well as the bacon pieces and thyme and basil. Sauté and combine for several minutes then add to a baking dish (8x11ish) careful not to add any liquid from the pan. 
  4. Make the creamy cauliflower sauce! In a food processor (we splurged on this one for ourselves for Valentine’s Day) add the cooked bag of steamed cauliflower (and any liquid that’s in it) and the minced garlic. Puree until smooth (it will look kinda like mashed potatoes). Start with the cream from the canned coconut milk and add to the food processor. Add coconut milk as desired to make the sauce creamy. Creamy is good, but watery is not. Add up to an entire can of coconut milk, but we’ve had best results with half a can. Save the other half for a latte!
  5. Add the sauce to the baking dish, garnish and bake! Spoon the cauliflower sauce over the broccoli, mushrooms + chicken. Sprinkle the top with parsley and bake at 375º for 30 minutes. 
  6. Eat it up! Serve larger portions solo, or stretch it a little with a salad and a sweet potato. 

More Veggies in March Challenge + Giveaway!


Since going paleo last August, I’ve been learning a ton about my body and what foods work the best for me to set me up for success. I’m coming out of 5 strict weeks of AIP (I’ve had coffee and chocolate since entering week 6…sigh, another story, another day) and have really come to realize that my health is truly less about what I cut out, and more about what I add in. 

That being said, I’m not ready to dive back in to a Standard American Diet, but I honestly haven’t been eating copious amounts of vegetables. I have at least one veggie per meal usually (not always at breakfast though), but I am a far cry from the USDA’s recommendation of 2-3 servings a day and even farther from the widely accepted paleo frame work of 5-9 servings a day. Eeep. I truly wonder what my health would be like today had I been eating 9 servings of veggies a day this whole time! 
It’s strange though, once you make your own health journey “public”, people in similar situations start coming out of the woodwork. I have had countless conversations both in real life and via social media lately with friends with their own health struggles as of late. Struggles ranging from suspected food sensitivities, GI troubles, thyroid issues, extreme fatigue, eczema or dry itchy skin… It’s just kinda crazy how all the women I seem to come into contact with in my general age group are all dealing with these things in one way or another and have either under the guide of a doctor or dietician or their own research (thanks, Internet) decided that cutting out various food groups may be the answer they are looking for. 
So I’m neither a doctor, or a dietician but here’s what I’ve gleaned from my own experience: 
1) Sugar ruins us. 
2) Vegetables save us. 
I don’t think there’s a doctor or a dietician that would argue for sugar or against vegetables (except obviously in allergy situations, but– obviously). 
All that to say, in March I am challenging myself (as part of my monthly goals) to eat more vegetables and I want you to do it with me! Don’t give up anything, so if you eat a donut for breakfast every morning keep doing your Krispy Kreme thing but pair it a sweet potato or a green smoothie or something. (Side note: Juicing is kind of a gray area because the fiber is part of what makes vegetables awesome so I recommend eating the actual vegetables and not just drinking them, but again– Not a dietician or doctor, so do you. )
So here’s the challenge: 
  • Plan your 2-3 (or more!, I’m personally shooting for 5) servings of vegetables a day, raw, cooked, however you like them.
  • Eat them all up!
  • But, before you eat them– take a picture of them and post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the tag #moreveggiesinmarch so we can be inspired for meal planning by each other! 
  • Follow me (@weareblog) and my friend Lauren (@almostcasual) on Instagram to be entered into an awesome veggie giveaway (you don’t have to eat a single green thing to be eligible, just follow us):
    • Super cute custom veggie watercolor print by Lauren at Almost Casual 
    • Reusable veggie cooler tote
    • $20 giftcard to Whole Foods 
Periodically throughout the month I’ll be posing on IG and here on my blog to “check in” and see how you’re feeling. Is eating veggies breaking the bank? Do you feel any different? Is your family on board? 
And as always, I would love to hear from you on Instagram or in the comments here. 
Happy Veggie Eating! 

The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Going Paleo: Less Sugar, More Vegetables

It has been a gradual process, but we have been eating what the internet refers to as paleo for almost six months now. I haven’t been super open about my health struggles on Instagram or Facebook (let’s be real, those are the highlight reels, and there was nothing about eczema on my earlobes that I wanted to remember) but I have been posting a lot about food we make, which has prompted many questions from friends and followers. So here’s a few non-reasons we went paleo:
  1. because I wanted to lose the baby weight 
  2. because it is trendy and I like to post pictures of my food with #hashtags 
  3. because we have so much money we wanted to eat steak 3x a day
I’ve shared some about my eczema explosion postpartum but diet was one of the ways we did an overhaul on our life, mainly for my benefit. I was covered in raw, weeping eczema sores from my knees to my earlobes and conventional medicine couldn’t offer me anything but oral or topical steroids that nearly guaranteed a rebound effect. So I went to the depths of the internet and came back with Paleo.
Most healthcare professionals will tell you that unless you test positive for a food allergy, eczema is not related to or caused by certain foods that you eat. This is somewhat true. Some people have true food allergies and have a reaction when they consume foods, this reaction being eczema. We see this all the time in infants. Breastfeeding moms cut out eggs, dairy, soy, etc. from their diets and some babies see almost immediate improvement within days. I do not have any food allergies. I’ve been tested several times throughout my life and I have none. I did go “gluten free” for a spell in college and “felt great” and did a Whole 30 during my first few years post-grad and had “tiger blood”, but nothing diagnosed ever from a healthcare professional that says I should avoid any foods. So, eventually I was back on the Standard American Diet as I was for most of my life.
I can report, however, that for most of my life I have felt bloated, had a bellyache, been tired, been sick, had eczema patches, been grumpy and not slept well. So I diagnosed myself: unhealthy. How do you get healthy? You eat less sugar, more vegetables.
So we began eating these things: meat, fruit, veggies, fish, nuts, seeds, and natural sugars only. I am definitely an ‘all or nothing’ personality and struggle with “in moderation” so it is a lot better for me to just say: I do not eat ________. I eat before I go to parties, we don’t really go out to eat without researching and planning ahead of time (which has saved us a ton of money), and we have invested in a total of three cookbooks that rock.
So at almost 6 months (with a little splurging around the holidays) paleo I am almost totally clear from eczema, and at least 80% healed compared to where I was this summer. The insides of my arms, hands, right wrist and the backs of my legs still have spots that just will not go away, but I know that eventually they will. I am not bloated, or have a belly ache, or am hungry in between or after meals, or grumpy for no good reason (I actually got my husband to admit this). The most striking of them all is that I’ve gotten over two colds in like 3 days or less which is really uncharacteristic for me. Especially in the winter, I usually get sick and stay sick for the entirety of the season, needing no less than 3 z-packs. I literally have woken up with a stuffy nose and two days later been totally normal. 
 I don’t believe that Paleo is the answer to all the things (and I really hate ‘labels’, so I cringe every time I say ‘I’m paleo’) for all the people, but I do think that our world would be a lot different if everybody ate a little less sugar and a lot more vegetables. I honestly think people would be a lot nicer to each other, and would probably feel a little better. So, back to my non-reasons:
  1. I did totally lose the baby weight (and quite a bit more) and bought a pair of pants a few weeks ago in a size that I haven’t seen since middle school and it totally freaked me out. The weight loss was a nice distraction from my eczema this summer, I will admit since I gained 70 (yep, that’s SEVENTY) pounds while I ate baked brie for nine months growing baby Lincoln.  I have stopped losing and have maintained the same weight for two months now so I’m feeling good about that, definitely think this is ‘my size’. I am most definitely not depriving myself of anything as I am eating super nutrient dense foods and lots of them. So if you are wanting to lose weight, I defer back to the “less sugar, more vegetables” statement above. Also, I still don’t really exercise intentionally, but I do chase a toddler around and carry him all over every day. 
  2. #whole30 is so trendy and you know #vegan and #organic and #pastured and #freerange and #paleo and #dairyfree and #sugarfree #holistic and all  the other foodie health buzz words that actually really drive me crazy. My account on both hashtag relevant social media sites is private, so I don’t do a lot of tagging because no one can see my pictures if they are looking for #paleo anything. Occasionally I’ll post a picture of say, a chocolate chip cookie, and I’ll #paleo it, but really it’s just to avoid the “is this paleo?” question that will inevitably follow. If it’s #notpaleo I’ll hashtag that as well, just you know, so nobody thinks I’ve got some magical recipe for #paleotequila. And sometimes I just make up dumb unrelated hashtags for funsies. But yes, you’re totally right, it is a health food trend that can be misunderstood and used inappropriately, but I really believe at the heart of the paleo movement are really good things: less sugar, more vegetables. 
  3.  We do 90% of our grocery shopping at Aldi (there are not enough words for how much I love that store) and on Wednesdays they do “special meat buys” where you can get like 5 pounds of chicken for like 7 dollars. It’s unbelievable. Steaks are discounted 50 cent a pound and I actually bought two boxes of organic spring mix (I realize, not meat) for 50 cents each and I have no idea why. The dates were great on it, I think it was just overstocked, but seriously. I will bring a quarter and my own bags all day every day to spend ~$100 a week on groceries to feed us real food. And we used to do steaks once a week, but that was expensive so now we do it once a month and it’s great. It is amazing how inexpensive it is to eat less sugar, more vegetables. 

Friday Favorites: Paleo Cookbooks

I’ve been paleo (no grains, dairy, or refined sugar) since August and am about 3 weeks into autoimmune paleo (paleo + no seeds, nuts, eggs or nightshades). Since our big family diet overhaul / Operation Beat Eczema,  I’ve discovered a few things about myself in the kitchen: 
  1. I really love cookbooks. The more pictures the better! It makes meal planning a blast and let’s you know how close you were to being successful when it is done. In another life I’d like to be a cookbook photographer. I lose lots of time looking at the pictures in my cookbooks. 
  2. I hate reading recipes from my phone or the computer. I will actually print them out and write all over them and put them in a binder for later. 
  3. I don’t actually enjoy cooking. I LOVE to eat, and to make something that is simple, or that I have made 100 times before so I don’t have to think about it… but trying new recipes and being all detail oriented is not my favorite (and this is why my husband is amazing). I meal plan, grocery shop and lay all the ingredients out and he cooks.  It’s a win-win. 
The following books have been super helpful in our food journey so far. They not only have recipes, but many of them have lots of “science” information that explain different foods, why you should/should not eat them, ways to substitute items, and personal stories of those that authored them. All around, great reads, great recipes! 


I’ve been interested in the concept of paleo for several years since reading It Starts With Food in 2012. Link to purchase on Amazon here. This book goes through the iconic “whole 30” and each food group included and not included and breaks down the science behind each. It was a fascinating read. It really made me question lots of things and a few months later I decided to do a Whole 30 challenge, and made it like 25 days. I lasted until my students did a food project in Spanish III and brought in cakes and cookies and brownies and I almost literally, “fell face first into a dessert buffet” (as Stacy Toth would say).  After the fact I realized I wasn’t actually paleo (I ate a ton of legumes inadvertently) but I all in all slept a lot better and lost a ton of weight, which was really all I was after at the time. This was an excellent foundation for my postpartum days when I needed to cut out inflammatory foods, I knew exactly what to do! All in all, it’s a great “challenge” but I don’t recommend doing it if all you’re after is weight loss. If you go back to your old eating habits afterward you will feel worse and your world will be turned upside down. Ignorance is bliss, my friends.
The back of this book has meal plans and recipes, although I never used any of them. They also have a ton of great grocery shopping, meal planning and go-to guides on their website for free. Definitely a must-read before you start paleo-ing blind! 
Against All Grain is amazing, and Danielle’s story is amazing. She has changed her life and is fighting ulcerative colitis, a GI autoimmune disorder with her mostly paleo diet. Personally, she has done extensive elimination dieting so she knows exactly what foods are triggers and healing for her, and her diet isn’t the cookie cutter paleo/whole 30 (nobody’s should be exactly the same — more on that later!) but her recipes are all grain, dairy and refined sugar free. Her heart is in this book! So much of our culture and childhood memories are about food, whether we like it or not. Baking cookies as a family, spaghetti night, chicken noodle soup when you’re sick… you name it, she has an AMAZING recipe for it. Her recipes are simple, fool proof and consistently good. I recommend getting this one first, as it has a lot of the “basics” in it (mayo, broth, nut cheese, etc.) and the most amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe. Link to purchase on Amazon here.
This sequel to Against All Grain, these are all grain and dairy recipes that are focused on batch cooking and simple, quick meals. Some of our absolute FAVORITES come from this book. There is also an allergen free chocolate chip cookie recipe for those that cannot have eggs. It comes with weekly grocery lists and plans, but I prefer to pick individual recipes. Just like her first cookbook, there is a consistency in excellence to all of her recipes. We’ve never had a flop! 
Danielle has a huge social media following and has a ton of her recipes posted on her blog for free. Find her on Instagram @againstallgrain. Rumor has it that she has a cooking show in the works! Find  Meals Made Simple on Amazon to purchase here.
This is the newest to our collection of cookbooks and all of the recipes are autoimmune protocol compliant, a great cookbook for those with nut or egg allergies! This book has more “out of the box” recipes, not a lot of recreations of classics, but we already have a few favorites (hello pesto chicken pizza, clam chowder, “cheesy” broccoli soup, oven fried chicken and turkey jerky). Our only complaint for this one is that it seems to make smaller portions which doesn’t leave a lot of leftovers, especially if you’re feeding one husband and one tiny toddler that eats like a teenage boy. There is talk of doubling recipes in the future. Many of these recipes are budget conscious and many are designed to be 5 ingredients or less or 30 minutes or less. Great for on-the-go busy people, and has some wonderful breakfast recipes (carrot + raisin n’oatmeal is the bomb!). Both authors have very active blogs and a social media presence, and I really love Sarah’s podcast The Paleo View.  Click here to find The Healing Kitchen on Amazon. 
There you have it, my favorite paleo cookbooks! Happy Friday! 

Breakfast Cookie Remix | autoimmune protocol + paleo

Hi there, it’s me. I’m still alive. It’s been a busy season here for me, and blogging has taken it’s natural place on the back-burner. Le sigh. I think of a good blog entry at least once a day and make a note of it, and of those it would seem actually .05% make it all the way to this point. So, you know it must be good if I am actually planning, writing, editing, including pictures AND posting it. Huzzah!

And, it is good. Get excited! So, first, some backstory: I’ve been paleo for about 3 months now and have seen some improvement in my skin, but I am still “flared” in areas and am having occasional new flares so the internet told me to take the plunge into the autoimmune protocol. I researched this months ago and we felt like it would probably be the best choice based on my symptoms, but honestly going from eating a standard American diet to AIP was quite unrealistic for me and had “crash diet failure” written all over it. Paleo lifestyle and then a casual descent into AIP seemed more my pace, and after a trial run a few weeks ago I am 80/20 paleo for the rest of the year (like I cheated and had some dairy on Thanksgiving and it was tasty, but I’ve pretty much had a bellyache since then) and then the week after Lincoln’s birthday party I plan to do 8 weeks AIP and then some reintroduction of common allergens. This is mostly because while I was a complete and total zombie during my AIP week (no coffee is brutal), my skin was almost totally clear by the end of the week, not itchy, inflamed, red or uncomfortable. It was unreal and amazing! But, I was such a zombie without coffee and having total withdrawals I know there is no way I can make it through the holidays without my Nespresso, so… January it is. Clearly, I’m an addict, but that’s another post for another day…

So here’s the meat! The excitement! The breakfast cookies that rock my world! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have noticed that just a few weeks ago Lincoln decided that he liked solids. Like, a lot. So I went on a quest to feed him and myself in a way that introduced him to a variety of food groups (minimal dairy, no refined sugar and avoiding gluten as much as possible) without having to prepare two separate meals/snacks 5 times a day. Enter Danielle Walker’s Allergy Friendly Breakfast Cookie. The first time I made these I stuck close to the recipe but found that I was NOT a fan of dried apricots nor did I know what a currant is (and I still haven’t looked it up..). But they were good! And I was mid-AIP week and withdrawing from coffee/delicious things and anything shaped like a cookie was good to me. Then, I let Lincoln have some and he LOVED IT. So, I made another batch, this time adding 2 oz. of pumpkin puree and some cinnamon and nutmeg and the rest is history. I made a double batch the other weekend and froze some so we’d have some extra should I run out in a pinch. They are a super easy texture for Lincoln to eat and although they are crumbly, you can squish the pieces together like play-dough to put it back together. Each time I follow the recipe less and less closely, like if I have an extra banana, I’ll throw it in. The palm shortening does a good job of holding things together so its okay if you’re not super exact. These are the perfect addition to a morning cup of coffe, an after-nap snack for your little one, a healthy pickmeup with an afternoon cup of tea, a late night “sugary” indulgence or most recently for us, a road trip snack. Enjoy!

AIP Breakfast Cookie (Remixed from Danielle Walker at AgainstAllGrain.com)

Ingredients:
½ pound ripe bananas (about 1 cup mashed, 2 small bananas)
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons palm shortening (or ghee)
2 oz pitted dates (about 3 or 4– if you want to puree them into the cookie soak for 5min first)
3 oz pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coconut flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp lemon juice
½ cup finely shredded dried coconut
2 tablespoons raisins

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the bananas, dates, pumpkin, applesauce, and shortening until it has the consistency of baby food, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the coconut flour, cinnamon, vanilla, baking soda, lemon juice and pulse until combined.
  • Add the dried fruit and shredded coconut and pulse twice. Don’t run it long enough to puree the dried fruit, just enough to incorporate it.
  • Spoon golf-ball sized balls of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Flatten the cookies and make them the shape and size you want prior to baking, they will not expand while baking. 
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze for later!

Three Months Paleo + Some Practical Paleo Tips

Paleooooo. I’m honestly a little tired of saying it, but dairy/grain/gluten/refined sugar/legume/white potato/alcohol free is a bit cumbersome. But I am probably 90% paleo these days with a few exceptions (namely French fries, some funnel cake from the fair, and one rogue glass of wine that got me really drunk and itchy). 
So, breaking my ties to sugar has been the best decision I’ve made as an adult, easily. I started in hopes of a breakthrough with eczema but it has really become what will probably be a permanent lifestyle for us. Marshall eats paleo when we are together and still does his own thing for lunches or if we eat out. Lincoln currently drinks a very dairy based formula (which makes me cringe every time I give him a bottle) but I plan to offer some milk alternatives once we are weaning from formula. He will have some cheese and grain-free puffs and eats what we eat. He’s just now learning how to feed himself small pieces of food and seems to really like veggies, he loved the paleo lasagna and our weekly paleo waffles. Other than a small patch of eczema on his face that comes and goes, he seems to do ok with dairy which makes me happy. So glad he is half-Marshall. 
So here’s the skinny on me and paleo:
I have honestly never felt better, in my entire life. 
I have so much energy. I sleep so well at night (although sometimes it is interrupted by a small child who has peed everywhere). I feel like I have reached some sort of nirvana that I’ve only read about in blogs and seen on infomercials. But it’s really real! In real life! And in real life I don’t tolerate sugar well. Especially in excess which is how I like to consume it (there are several documentaries on Netflix that will corroborate this). And much to my joy, eczema has improved tremendously. Healing is happening, albeit at times slowly, but it is happening. I still itch from time to time (and scratch in my sleep, starting the healing process over at times… so frustrating), but in general my skin is in much better shape. 
So, I guess this is my 3 month paleo update. I miss cheese and pizza and stuff, but I really like living life like this. It’s pretty wonderful. I don’t feel like I’m in a fog all the time! I love coffee black (SO MANY FLAVORS SO YUM) and I actually enjoy the taste of kale. I’m still not a celery fan, and that’s a major ‘eczema friendly’ food, so I’m still working on it. A week or so after Lincoln’s 1st birthday party I plan to commence 6 weeks of the autoimmune protocol to see what my skin/body is like without eggs, nuts and some other things. Planning way ahead and planning when I’ll reintroduce some things. So grateful for this time of learning about food and my body and self-discipline. It’s truly been a spiritual awakening of sorts. Although, given the choice between some kale and a paleo chocolate chip cookie, I’ll most definitely choose the cookie. 

Here are some practical paleo tips if you’re interested in taking the plunge. Even if you don’t suspect that any foods are causing you trouble, you may be surprised to find what  ife is like off of sugar!
  • Clean all the things out of your pantry that you can’t eat during the time you plan to paleo for. Donate to a friend or stick non-perishables on a top shelf where you won’t see them.
  • Plan ahead! Be realistic, the holiday season may not be the best time to give up the good stuff.
  • Budget your food like you budget your money. Meal plan and stick to it, don’t buy anything without knowing exactly when you’re going to eat it.
  • Produce will go bad, learn how to store it. What ripens on the counter? What goes straight to the drawers in the fridge? How do you kill fruit flies (because they will find you!)? 
  • Eat a lot! I see a lot of “clean eating” posts where people are eating 3 pieces of deli meat rolled up and some almonds. Not cool. I literally ate 16 (!) pieces of turkey the other night before bed because I was hungry. Eat until you are not hungry because you’re eating things from the planet that are good for you! 
  • Don’t focus on what you can’t have, focus on what you CAN have!  I found that trying new vegetables and fruits and recipes was so exciting! 
  • Don’t spend a lot of time trying to recreate your favorite non-paleo meals.  We tried to make paleo banana pudding for our anniversary and for what it was, it was pretty good, but compared to the real thing it was not. 
  • Know that preparing all your meals will take a lot of time. This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but in my previous life of working outside the home, sun up to sun down I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. (Actually, I only lasted 25 days the first time I went paleo then I threw it all away on some brownies because I was starving). Setting time aside/planning time for cooking is essential. Be realistic about time, say no to some things, set aside a “prep” day, etc. 
  • Have a back-up plan. Have something fast that you can cook if your day doesn’t go according to plan and meal prep time gets cut short. Eggs, bacon and fruit are an easy meal. Applegate makes some great hot dogs and deli meat for the freezer. Or, visit your friends at Chick-Fil-A for 12 grilled nuggets and a fruit cup (and plan to be hungry later). 
  • Steam-in-bag veggies are your friend. Certainly there are reasons why those are not safe, but they are fast. 
  • Cashews are super versatile, it will blow your mind the things you can make with them! Our favorite “fancy” paleo recipes use cashews… from waffles to nut-cheese in lasagna, you can make it all!
  • Enjoy it! 
Happy paleoing!