Friday, January 31, 2014

The Moment of Truth

It's the moment we've all been waiting for!

Ya'll get to see me half naked in yoga shorts and a sports bra!

Just kidding.

Let me just say - if I wasn't so thrilled with my results, these pictures would not be up here for all to see.  I am not the type that bares it all.  I have never worn a bikini in my ENTIRE LIFE.  I always hide when I need to get dressed or undressed in front of others (even my husband).  I am not the type of person to come on my blog that people I know read, people I used to work with, people I used to work for, people I used to be friends with, people I AM friends with, relatives both distant and close... who knows who's reading this thing... but I'm not the type to post pictures like this for all to see.  I wouldn't post them unless they would be worth it!

So without much further ado, please see below (before on the left, after on the right):


You know what's stunning about all this?

I didn't even think I looked all that bad before.  Probably because I thought it was damn near impossible to get much smaller.

You know what else is stunning about all this?

I improved THAT MUCH without even being 100% Paleo.  You'll recall, I cheated quite a bit.  But I changed my diet mostly by cutting grains out, and secondarily, dairy.

I wonder what I will look like in another month?

Now, for the final numbers:

Weight:  185 >> 10 total pounds lost
Ribs:  34.75 >> 2.25 inches lost
Waist:  33.5 >> 2.5 inches lost
Hips:  40.5 >> 4.5 inches lost (WHAT!)
Neck:  14.5 >> 0.5 inches lost
Thighs:  25 >> 1 inch lost
Arms:  12 >> 1 inch lost

HOLY COW!  11.75 inches lost in ONE MONTH.  One month of changing my diet - not even 100%!!

I don't think it's possible that I could be happier with these results.  I am ecstatic.  And I'm super motivated to keep on with the better food choices I've been making, with some cheating in moderation.

I want to do another "after" set of pictures and measurements at the end of February.  Stay tuned!!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


It's Sunday night and you know what I'm doing?

Laying on the couch, feeling sick to my stomach, because I consumed too much grains and sugar this weekend. 

Dairy doesn't bother me at all. But grains and sugar? The way I feel now is enough to keep me Paleo/Primal for the rest of my life. 

Lesson learned, my friends. I changed my diet and lifestyle and trying to go back to how I was before just isn't worth it. My system can't handle it. 

I must consider my cheats more carefully.

And let me just compare, for a moment here.

A couple weeks ago we went out to dinner with friends.  I ate a ton of food.  I left the restaurant feeling stuffed.  I ate: some goat cheese; a salad with bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese, and blue cheese dressing; a steak with a red wine sauce and some boursin-mashed potatoes; and half of a slice of a flourless chocolate torte.  No grains, but a minimal amount of sugar, were consumed.

Did I feel sick to my stomach after all that food?  No.  Did I wake up the next morning not wanting to eat?  No.

Yesterday, I ate: a cheeseburger and some ice cream.  I was full for THE REST of the day.  I didn't want dinner.

Today, I ate: a buffalo chicken wrap and some caramel cake.  I'm stuffed.  And I'm sick.  I don't even want to think about food, except that I'm craving something green and fresh.  Like I want a plate full of broccoli and a salad and a huge glass of water right now.

What's the difference between the first meal and the second and third meal?  Grains.

I'm really starting to get it now... 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Ok so here's the thing.

You know how like a month ago I was all I can't wait to be in my kitchen all the time cooking!  I can't wait to try new recipes and blah blah blah!  Yeah, clearly I had some rose-colored glasses on.  Grmph!

Paleo is wearing me out.  Whatever energy I'm gaining by not ingesting things that are taxing my digestive system, I am using in the kitchen, all the time.  On Monday, I ran the dishwasher three times.  THREE.  TIMES.  I don't have enough cutting boards or dishwashers for the Paleo Plan I set forth weeks ago.

Let me share with you some more lessons learned.

What I did:  Found a ton of new recipes to try, thinking it would make Paleo more exciting.
What I should have done:  I should have gone through my own recipe collection to find recipes that I'm used to making that were already Paleo-friendly.  This, I'm sure, would have drastically cut down on cost, time, and effort.

What I did:  Not allow myself any wiggle room.
What I should have done:  Allowed myself wiggle room.  I had some backup recipes on hand, but there were just times they didn't work out.  Or we went out to dinner and I didn't want to eat rabbit food with oil and vinegar.  Instead of going into this thinking I AM GOING TO BE 100% PALEO FOR 30 DAYS, I should have lowered the bar just a teensy bit and said, I am going to do the best I can for 30 days in the situations I'm in.  With the exception of two occasions, I do feel as though I've done the best I can in the situations I was in.  Twice I purposely cheated.  And I enjoyed it.... and I paid for it later, trust me.  Cheating has definitely showed me what food groups I tolerate fine when added back to my diet, and what food groups I don't tolerate at all.

What I did:  Stopped working out.
What I should have done:  Just friggin' gone to the gym even though I haven't felt like it.  Honestly, I've been losing weight, and good amounts of it, just from changing my diet, so I've been thinking I don't need to go to the gym.  If I can continue at this rate, I really don't need to go, but I WANT to.  The struggle now is getting back there.  I've let it go too long.  And the longer I wait, the harder that first day back is going to be.  Ugh I should just go tomorrow.  In fact -- I will.  Tomorrow is the perfect day to go back.  So I will.

What I did:  Planned for a whole month in advance.
What I should have done:  Planned for two weeks in advance, at max.  Why?  Because after about a week and a half, two weeks in, I started to realize what recipes I liked and what recipes I didn't, and I ended up having to re-plan the rest of the month anyway.


Ok, /rant.  My bad.  I'm just frustrated.  I'm very close to the end.  I wasn't expecting to struggle as much as I have - and if Paleo wasn't working for me, I would have abandoned it totally weeks ago.  But I am just about a week away from being done.  I can finish this.

Moving forward, beyond January 31st, my plan is to stay on the Paleo train as much as possible.  I have made some changes that I like -- I have eliminated grains almost entirely from my diet (the ONLY time I've consumed grains of any kind this month were on my two cheats), and I really like this change.  I really think this change has been the most beneficial to me.  I have also practically eliminated dairy from my life, except for the random pats of butter here and there used when cooking, or salad dressings.  This whole month, I've had tacos without sour cream and cheese (or shells!), chili without sour cream and cheese (or tortilla chips!), pancakes and waffles without flour, and smoothies without traditional yogurt.  I don't even *really* miss any of those things.  But like I've mentioned before, there is one occasion when I know I will not be able to exclude dairy, and that's with salads.  If I have a salad, there will be dairy salad dressing on it.

As for sugar, well I haven't really had much of that either.  I had a couple cookies with Maraea the other night, but other than that, not one cup of hot chocolate, not one bite of candy or chocolate, no artificially-sweetened anything.  I have a whole bag of chocolates from Christmas waiting to be devoured, and a whole box too.  I haven't touched them, and I haven't even been tempted.  Clearly, sugar is no longer an issue for me anymore.  (I haven't even cheated with sugar - how remarkable is that??  Well except for those cookies.  But that's it.)

So.  With these changes I've made, I think that I can probably move forward with being about 80% Paleo.  That's pretty darn awesome.  In fact, I did already start planning for next month, but I'm taking a much simpler approach.  Every week we will have chicken + vegetable, pork chops + vegetable, steak + vegetable, and a couple more involved recipes that are still protein + vegetable focused.  I'm going to continue to limit grains, dairy, and sugar.  But, when we go out to eat, I am not going to limit myself.  I'm going to eat what I want, but be reasonable about it.  I think that I should be allowed to do that if I'm being "good" the rest of the time.

Haha.  With all that said, I still want to do a Whole 30.  Might take me a little bit to get there though.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Did you know I do things other than eat?

Sometimes I forget, too.

I have a kickass camera that I don't use nearly enough.  A few weeks ago it snowed pretty good and I took Maraea out to play in it.  Dusted off my camera and took some pictures.  They aren't remarkable.  Not all pictures have to be.  But my snowbunny is cute, isn't she?

More snow is falling today.  I'd really like to go out where the snow is untouched and the trees are bare and the branches are traced in white.  Maybe I'll take a little hike down to the park today.

If we don't ACTUALLY get the 9-14" they are predicting.  GRMPH.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What to eat?

I've put together some more pictures and recipe reviews of things I've made recently.  See below:

1.  Fried Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash
Sweet potato hash is probably one of my new favorite things to make.  This recipe had sausage in it, which I wasn't a fan of; I think it was just the kind of sausage I bought though.  You know, Whole Foods has all that fancy sausage, and all I really wanted was one of those skinny little breakfast sausages like my mom used to make.  But I do like the rest of the hash.  Sweet potatoes are something I've just recently started to like, so I'm using them more recently, but sparingly.  I poached my eggs though because it's healthier and also I can't fry an egg to save my life.  (Strange, isn't it usually the other way around?)

2.  Oven-Braised Mexican Beef
This was the dinner Aaron and I liked the most so far.  It's SO tasty.  It's very simple, but mouth-wateringly good.  We are having it again tonight.  Aaron said the leftovers were good too.  I highly recommend this recipe even if you aren't going Paleo!  Also, wrapping things in lettuce leaves is probably one of my favorite changes I've made in this process.  I will probably do that to replace wraps and taco shells from now on.  We are having this for dinner tonight, and I'm so excited, because I'm making some of our favorite taco sauces from Truly Mexican to top it all off.

3.  Chicken Salad
I used Well Fed's recipe for Deli Tuna Salad and just used shredded chicken instead of tuna.  This recipe was SO GOOD.  My favorite chicken salad ever is at Hymie's in Bala Cynwyd, and this chicken salad gives Hymie's a run for its money.  As long as I can make this at home, I won't crave Hymie's!

4.  Cilantro Ginger Chicken Stir Fry
This recipe was pretty good.  We'll definitely make it again.  Normally when you see "stir fry" you expect that salty, meaty flavor from soy sauce, but this, instead, was very fresh-tasting.  Fresh and light and crisp.  One thing I would suggest is, if you make this, skip the "one bag of mini peppers" ingredient and just get yourself a couple of bell peppers.  The mini peppers are a pain in the ass to cut.

5.  Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy
This was a good recipe but there's a few things I'd change.  The vegetables don't need to be sauteed before adding to the crockpot.  And, it needs more vegetables.  Parsnips, a potato, something starchy.  Other than that, this stew has good flavor.

6.  Menemen
This was that breakfast dish I spit back out.  Wasn't a fan.  I didn't like the turmeric and I don't like cooked egg yolks.  However, maybe you like both of those things and this dish might be right up your alley.  If so, give it a go!

7.  Almond Flour Coconut Waffles
Yo.  Yum.  These were good.  Make them.

8.  Buffalo Chicken Salad
Just like my other chicken salad, only with more veggies and some buffalo sauce.  I used a bit too much mayonnaise in this recipe, the salad was a little too wet for me.  But the flavor was good, and I will make it again with less mayo and more hot sauce.

9.  Steak and Eggs Hash
I have been looking forward to this recipe since the planning stages.  Steak, potatoes, and runny eggs!  YUM!  I cut this recipe in half and it still made plenty for me and Aaron to share - I even only used one steak.  This recipe was good but the eggs cooked wrong for me.  Next time I think we need to turn the heat down lower, so the whites cook but the yolks don't.  We are trying this again this week, and we are changing the bell pepper to a poblano pepper, because poblano peppers are the best peppers in the universe.

10.  Turkey Crockpot Chili
Ahhh, this chili was so good!  Aaron was in love with this chili.  Chili, soups, and stews aren't always my favorite things to eat, but this had excellent flavor and tons of veggies.  We are making this one again this week too.

11.  Oven-Braised Shredded Pork
Very good, but next time we'll make our own pork rub.  Also, this made our house smell like onions and deliciousness.  This is an all-day endeavor; the recipe says to cook it overnight but we cooked it all day instead.  The sauce that you make at the end was also really delicious.

12.  Grain-Free Banana Muffins
In an effort to have something portable, snacky, and sweet around, I made these, and they were delicious.  You would never have known they were grain-free OR sugar-free.  They are fairly low-cal; I ate three for breakfast one day, and I don't think it topped 400 calories, and I was full till lunch.  This recipe is a keeper.

13.  Chocolate Chip Muffins
Hmmm.  Can we say dense?  I liked these, but they were very dense.  I am not sure if I did something wrong or not but as you can kind of see, they didn't change shape when cooking.  I scooped them out and plopped them into the muffin tin and they didn't sort of even out like a muffin.  The batter was very thick.  The flavor wasn't too bad, and they were highly filling, but they were not a light and fluffy muffin.

14.  Chipotle Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Okay, these were really good - but REALLY spicy.  I would make some changes next time - more lime juice, and a different pepper, like a poblano, because like I said, they are the best peppers in the universe.  I will definitely make this recipe again.

15.  Apple Pie Party In My Mouth
Ok this isn't really a recipe.  It's something I made up that turned out to be freaking delicious.  I read about Cracked Nut Butters and saw that they had a cinnamon roll flavor that I HAD TO HAVE.  So I got myself a jar on Amazon and as soon as it arrived, I ate a spoonful.  And I was in heaven.  And the first thing I wanted to do was spread it on an apple.  Which I did not have.  So I bought apples at the store, came home, spread this on them, and voila, Apple Pie Party In My Mouth was born.  There are other flavors too that I can't wait to try.  I am not above eating spoonfuls of nut butters to satisfy any of my sweet cravings.  You know, it's better than a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup... right?

16.  Chicken Chili
Oooo, this was a tasty chili too.  This recipe makes A LOT so I will have plenty for leftovers for myself and for Aaron.  I just used shredded chicken that I already had (every couple of weeks I will poach 4 chicken breasts in my slow cooker - cover with water or stock and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours - and shred, then freeze in portions) instead of buying a rotisserie chicken and shredding the whole thing.  There's zucchini in this.  And I ate it.  And I liked it.

17.  Olive Oil Mayonnaise
I just have to give a shout out to this mayonnaise.  This is Well Fed's recipe, and I've made it about 4 times now, and every single time, it turns out perfect.  This is the most consistent homemade mayo recipe I've come across.  Plus, it's delicious!  It is key to use extra light-tasting olive oil, as called for in the recipe.  Also, I don't bother with the blender - I make it with my stick blender, and the results are the same.

That's all for now folks.  Stay tuned.  I'm planning Paleo February at the moment, which will include easy weeknight meals that will hopefully be easier on my bank account.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Coming Clean

Let the rain fall down and wake my dreams
Let it wash away my sanity
Cuz I wanna feel the thunder, I wanna scream
Let the rain fall down, I'm coming clean....

Remember that show The Hills?  That old Hillary Duff song was the theme song.  I miss that show.  I was pretty obsessed with it.  Now you're gonna have that song stuck in your head all day.  You're welcome.

Ugh, it is way too early for me to be awake on a Saturday morning.  Like it's still dark outside.  WTF body clock.  Not only am I awake but I'm already downstairs with my 'puter booted up and on my lap and ready to write a blog post.

So the theme for today is Coming Clean because.... well I cheated this week.  There's good and bad to that though.  Actually, no, there's really only good to that.  Let me explain.

This week's cheating was good for me for three reasons.  One - I got it out of my system and got right back on the Paleo train.  Two - I friggin' enjoyed it.  And three - I have learned now what kind of effect grains, specifically, have on my body.  And it really is enough to deter me - well, deter me enough that it will make me think about whether or not I want to put it into my mouth.

Grains make me bloated.  After I eat grains, there's like this pressure inside of my mid-section.  It's like there's something inside there trying to push outward in all directions (no it's not gas).  Kind of like being pregnant.  My first week on Paleo, I remember feeling a sort of hollowness in my midsection that was not hunger.  And now I know, it was the absence of grains.  When you eat grains every day, you probably don't even notice how they make you feel, you're just so accustomed to it.  If you were to sit down and eat a whole hoagie, you'd probably be stuffed at the end of it.  That "stuffed" feeling is the grains wreaking havoc on your digestive system.  

How do I know it's grains and not dairy?  Case in point:  Last night we went out to dinner.  I had a salad that had blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles, bacon, and tomatoes on it.  And I had a small steak with some mashed potatoes.  And I had a flourless chocolate torte for dessert (Maraea actually couldn't stop eating it so I really only had half).  (PS I know I'm not supposed to have sugar, but we were celebrating our friends' joyous news, so it was an occasion.)  My only real cheat in that meal was the dairy.  And while I was very full from all that food, I did not have that pressure in my midsection.

Going into Paleo, I never would have said that I have a dietary issue with either grains or dairy.  But now I am starting to think, grains have been keeping me (and who knows how many millions of others) fat or plump or pudgy for my whole life.  All of this is actually enough to make me want to steer clear of grains whenever possible.  With that said though - sometimes a girl is gonna want a cheeseburger, and this girl will have a cheeseburger.  But it's helpful to know going into it that it will cause X and then it's right back on the health train.

I really like eating Paleo.  I like lots of the recipes we've made, and I could put them into our regular rotation.  But I really don't want to be so restricted when we go out to eat.  Which honestly, is actually not very often.  So I definitely think that I can maintain a Paleo lifestyle after January is over, keeping some of the simple changes I've made to take this extra step.  The question is: Can my bank account handle it?

Yo.  Paleo is expensive.  And I'm not even buying 100% grass-fed grass-finished organic protein either.  For one thing, I can't find grass-finished around here, even at Whole Foods.  But I'm buying the best quality possible, which to me - means buying protein at Whole Foods, organic or not.  Which is expensive.  I paid $10 for a pound of free range ground turkey yesterday.  TEN DOLLARS.  I could have bought regular ground turkey for like $4 a pound at Giant.  Organic produce adds up.  I thought maybe my grocery bills wouldn't be so expensive because I was pretty much buying tons of produce and some stuff from the meat counter.  Wrong.  My grocery bills have darn near doubled.  I love Whole Foods, but I may need to break up with them if I'm going to maintain this lifestyle.  I can get organic produce and protein at Giant, and it is probably cheaper.  Maybe next week I'll just shop at Giant and see if there's a price difference.  The good news of all of this?  There has been very little waste - we have literally been consuming everything we buy every week.  So that makes me happy.

On another note:  I lost an additional 1.6 pounds from last week.  I'm down about 7 pounds now total from the beginning of January.  And I'm 3 pounds away from having lost 20 pounds since I started Weight Watchers.  Which means I get another fancy ribbon I think.  :)

Sigh.  I talk too much.

So let's see.  What's on tap for this week?  Well I've got the cheating out of my system and I honestly, literally, can't wait to get back on track.  This week I'm only making a couple of things I haven't made before.  Here's the menu:

Breakfast:  Dawnita's Pancakes (I like her recipe better.  2 mashed bananas, 1 egg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tablespoon coconut flour.  So yummy and they flip easily.)
Lunch:  Not sure yet, but I will be home this afternoon and cooking so I will probably snack on whatever I've got around.
Dinner:  Paleo Chicken Chili

Breakfast:  Eggs and Sweet Potato Hash
Lunch:  Devilled Eggs & fruit
Dinner:  Oven Braised Mexican Beef (YES!  So excited, we loved this dish.  I'm making some sauce toppings for it too.)

Breakfast:  Eggs and leftover Sweet Potato Hash
Lunch:  Leftover Mexican beef
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy (new and improved - the last one I made didn't have enough veggies, so this time I'm pumping it up)

Lunch:  Chicken Salad

Breakfast:  Dawnita's Pancakes
Lunch:  Devilled Eggs & fruit
Dinner:  Paleo Turkey Crockpot Chili

Lunch:  Leftover chili
Dinner:  Steak and Eggs Hash

Breakfast:  Dawnita's Pancakes
Lunch:  Devilled Eggs & fruit

Yo, on what other "diet" can you eat pancakes and waffles for breakfast multiple times a week and still lose weight?  THIS MEANS SOMETHING PEOPLE.  GRAINS ARE MAKING YOU FAT.  Just don't cover them with syrup and butter.  A little of each is fine if you want but let's not go overboard here.  You know what I did?  I liked having blueberries in my pancakes so much that I dumped a carton of them into a saucepan and cooked them over medium heat till they started to break apart and formed a jam.  Now I can slather that on top of my pancakes instead of syrup.  HEALTHY.

I love Dawnita's pancakes so much because of the mashed bananas.  I don't like eating bananas like most normal people do, but I will eat bananas if they are IN something (like bread, or cake, or pancakes or waffles, obv).  I feel like this is a good way for me to get some good fruit in.  

I think next month, I'm going to menu-plan for the entire month again.  But I'm going to make the dinners easier and cheaper.  Less involved, less ingredients.  Another thing I don't like about Paleo:  THE DISHES.  I feel like there is always a stack of dishes in my kitchen waiting to go through the dishwasher.  I need two dishwashers (and one more refrigerator, one deep freezer, and two more incomes) to sustain this lifestyle.  We have like 5 cutting boards and the other day I needed one and they were all either already dirty or in the dishwasher getting cleaned.  We can't keep up.  I'm going to figure out how to simplify all of this and make it more sustainable for next month.

Oh look, the sun is up.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I'm two weeks in to my Paleo January.  And I've been meaning to write this post for days, but damn, I've been busy.

Yo, Paleo is not easy.  It's not quick, it's not cheap.  It's time-consuming.  It's a lot of effort.  At least, right now it is.  I'm sure this is the kind of thing that gets easier and cheaper as time goes on, but right now it's not either of those things.

Remember how I said I was so excited to spend all my time in my kitchen?  PFFFFFFTTTTT.

I my time in my kitchen.  And I haven't worked out, because I've been so concerned about the other things I need to get done in my kitchen so that I can eat.

I think primarily what's hogging so much of my time is a) making sure I have lunch for the days ahead, and b) prepping for the next night's meal.  With that said, I did pick some pretty ingredient-heavy and semi-complicated recipes for this month.  I need to fall back more on my old stand-bys, like a protein with a vegetable side dish.

Ok well enough of that.  I swear I didn't come on here to complain.  I was actually coming on here to talk about good things.  :)

I have noticed some serious changes since starting Paleo!  Many of these changes, I noticed within the first week.

1.  Within days I felt happier.  Lighter, less stressed, and more easy-going.  I felt very positive.  (This was before I weighed myself and was so jazzed about my weight loss.)  This carried over into other aspects of my life, too -- work didn't seem so bad.  Aaron's car got hit by a Septa bus - former Cristin would be spazzing and worrying - Paleo Cristin is just like "Eh, what are ya gonna do?"

2.  Some physical things I noticed:
a. My skin cleared up.  Remember I said I had broken out real bad?  It cleared up pretty quickly.
b. For my entire life, I have dealt with having chapped lips.  Some times of the year it's worse than others.  But at any given time, I have 3-4 tubes of Vaseline in various locations of my life to keep my lips moisturized.  This is supposedly a sign of dehydration, but that can't be it for me - if it is, I've been dehydrated my entire life.  (Maraea even has them, so maybe there's something genetic to it.)  It has never mattered how much water I've had to drink, my chapped lips have never gone away.  But now, I think they might actually be starting to clear up.  They are still there to some degree, but not badly; and, they just feel different.  I don't know how to describe it.  But something is happening there.
c. One of the symptoms that drove me to my doctor's office two summers ago was that my skin used to become itchy, it seemed, when my stress level rose.  I had read that this was a sign of a thyroid condition.  When I started my thyroid medication, this symptom went away.  In fact, if I forgot to take my thyroid medication, about 12-18 hours after my missed dose, my skin would start to get itchy.  Now: I haven't taken my thyroid medication in about a month now.  My skin still gets itchy sometimes, but not nearly as frequently.  So now, I'm only taking an allergy medication to keep it at bay if I feel it start to flare up.  That hasn't even been as often as every other day.  It's been less often than that.  So there is definite improvement there.

Two weeks in and all of those things?  Two weeks.  This is no coincidence.  And if it's a placebo effect, then it's a darn good one.  At the end of the month, I'm planning on making an appt with my doctor so I can get some more bloodwork done.  I'm not going to tell him I've been off the thyroid meds; I'm just going to ask that my levels get checked.  What if I'm fine?

What if I cured hypothyroidism right out of my body?

If that's the case, then in the last year I will have successfully weaned myself off of three major prescription drugs.

It's kind of amazing to think that food has the potential to heal you.  I read a quote that said something along the lines of "Food can be either the slowest form of poison or the most powerful form of medicine".  Think about that.  If you put nothing but unprocessed, whole, natural foods into your body, how could that be bad?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hump Day Ramblings

Do I post too much?  Lately I think I've been posting too much.  I don't really care what anyone thinks, because I have a lot to talk about anyway.  I don't even think a whole lot of people read this blog in the first place.  I know of at least ONE person out there who wishes I would post more.  And I love her for it.  :)  xo

Today I really do have a lot to talk about.  Let's see.

First and foremost - I am SO EXCITED that I've inspired others to follow in my path!  This is so cool!  Several people have contacted me and asked for advice or recipes.  If you're on the fence, let me just say this here for all to see - for anyone who is interested, I will send you the plan I put together for myself for this month, including recipes.  At no charge, because I'm just that awesome and nice and lovey.  If you're looking for sites for recipes, please visit these three as they are my favorites:

Nom Nom Paleo  (is that the greatest blog name or what?  Why didn't I think to name my blog "nom nom" something??)
PaleOMG  (another awesome blog name)
The Clothes Make The Girl (author of the Well Fed books)

So, if you're considering going Paleo, or just interested in what it means to be Paleo, or trying to eat healthier in general, get in touch with me and let's talk it out.  Food and health has been my favorite topic of discussion for months now.  I'll gladly talk your ear off.

Second.... I have a confession to make.  Today I cheated, but only a little bit.  I found myself in a bind and didn't have much of a choice so I made the best choice possible but there was a small cheat involved.

Let me explain.

So this morning I was supposed to make this menemen recipe for breakfast today.  It sounded good.  And it sounded like looser-scrambled eggs.  Well I made it and took one bite and spit it right back out.  First off - I guess I don't like turmeric.  Some spice in there just did not play nicely with my taste buds.  Second, I really really REALLY don't like cooked egg yolks.  And I'm glad I know this, now I can stop wasting my time thinking I'll eat cooked egg yolks.  I just don't like the texture.  There was so much weirdness going on on my tongue.  So I tossed it.  :(

I was starving, and short on time, so I needed to think fast.  I had just bought almond milk for a different recipe and decided to make a smoothie out of frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and almond milk.  It didn't come together very nicely, but what could be bad about pureed fruit, so I poured it into a cup and off I went to work.

I should have tasted it before I left, because it didn't taste good at all.  It ended up separating.  There wasn't hardly any flavor to it.  It was probably the worst smoothie I've ever had.  BUMMER.  I think I only drank like half of it, and only because I needed to get something in my stomach.

By 10am I was starving.  I had a few meetings, and all I could think about was food.  By noon I was desperate.  I knew the small portion of leftovers I'd brought weren't going to do it, so I went to the deli in the ground floor of my building and got a salad.  With blue cheese dressing.

I KNOW RIGHT.  Sorry kitty.

But, I did put tomatoes and a hard boiled egg and carrots in the salad too.

And then.  Double fail....

I just finished dinner and found out that the seasoning I normally use for pork chops has sugar in it.

I KNOW!  I know little squirrel, I know.  I messed up so bad today.  UGH.  But.  I'm not quitting.  Back on track tomorrow.  I swear I feel bloated today just because of that small amount of dairy and sugar I ingested.  Maybe I'm crazy buuuuuuuuut maybe I'm not.

Tomorrow is the first day of Weight Watchers at work.  I'm so excited to weigh in and probably be the only one who's lost weight over the holidays!  YIPPEE!

On a side-but-not-so-off-to-the-side note, I have discovered online grocery shopping and I think this is probably the greatest thing ever in the world.  Besides cheese.  Specifically, milky brie from Wegman's.  So yeah, I did all my grocery shopping online this week.  I ordered a ton of food for Moko for the next 6 weeks from Fresh Direct for like $75.  And then I ordered all my normal groceries from PeaPod by Giant.  All I have to do is go to Whole Foods on Saturday morning for my meats for the week.  I could get used to this level of laziness.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Update - End of Week 1!

I wasn't really intending on posting tonight....

But then....

I stepped on my scale...

And saw....


FIVE POUNDS, people.  FIVE.  FIVE!  And I have not been starving hungry, sick, OR working out.

Seven days, eating delicious food, not working out, and I've lost five whole darn pounds.

I'm a believer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Paleo Day 5 Update

Today is day 5 of my Paleo "lifestyle" (I am refraining from calling it a diet, because I believe it is anything but) and so far, so good.  I haven't cheated, for one thing.  Not that I haven't been tempted, but the important thing is that I haven't done it.

What am I struggling with?  Let's see.  First and foremost - I certainly miss carbs and sugar and dairy.  I'm not craving anything - yet.  I've been "craving", in general, something sweet.  To combat it, I eat a spoonful of almond butter.  It helps!  But I'm not "craving" anything specific.  In all fairness, I have already cut so much of these things out of my diet that I really didn't think going Paleo would be a huge leap for me - and even though I just wrapped up a December Of Gluttony, I don't think that either of these three food groups are serious trigger-type foods for me, enough so that I'm dying for them right now.  Because I'm not.

Another thing:  I was supposed to go out to lunch with my mom and my daughter today at the King of Prussia mall, which has a plethora of restaurants and eating establishments to choose from.  (The ice storm ruined our plans.)  Yesterday while trying to determine what time to meet and where, I was checking out menus of restaurants there, and man, is it HARD to find a Paleo-friendly meal in a restaurant.  I mean sure, you could go in and order something and modify it like crazy to make it Paleo, but very few dishes are Paleo-friendly as-is.  Oddly enough, the safest options appear to be steakhouses - you can't go wrong with a steak and a baked potato (without any of the good stuff).  Eating a salad would be easy enough, if I could learn to love oil and vinegar on my salad, or an italian type of dressing, but I just can't.  I've never liked oil-based dressings.  They are often too tangy for me - they make the insides of my cheeks tingle - eating salad with those types of dressings is never enjoyable for me.  I've always been a dairy-dressing girl - specifically, blue cheese dressing.  And many of my hang-ups would be solved if I could bring my own condiments.  I know people who do that, and I personally don't have any issue with it - it's not like I would be embarrassed with someone at a restaurant if they did that - I think I just feel like, I don't NEED to do that.  I don't have a dietary NEED to make my own dressings or condiments and bring them with me.  In other words, the reason I'm Paleo right now is to further my health, to push myself into other realms of cooking, to learn to like new foods and healthy foods and to continue on my healthy habit journey.  I'm not Paleo because I have issues with dairy, or soy, or grains, or nightshades, or any of the many reasons people cite the Paleo lifestyle helps to improve.  I'm just doing it because I want to.  Therefore, my feeling is, if I want to go out and have a salad with blue cheese dressing, knowing that the dairy won't send my system into some kind of shock, then I should just do it.

Is that considered cheating?  I'm not sure.  A step down from Paleo is a lifestyle called Primal, which allows dairy in moderation.  But I suppose as far as the standards I've set forth for myself - no dairy, no grains, no added sugar, no legumes - it would be considered cheating.  It's a personal wrestling match.  Plus, I've been on here spouting about how I'm going "100% Paleo!" in January, and if I fail, then oh gosh, I would just have to admit it now wouldn't I?

Perhaps a blessing in disguise, today's ice storm ruined our plans, so no blue cheese dressing on my salad today.  But next weekend will present the same dilemma - I have TWO lunches planned, so I need to do some thinking, and fast.

But I've got days for that.  At present, I'd like to share with you what I'm making this week!  I know of at least one person who's waiting for this post, so here goes.  Keep scrolling for some pictures and reviews of what I've made this week.

Breakfast:  Fried Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash
Lunch:  Skipped.  Oops.  Seriously though, we haven't even gotten off the couch today.  No calories needed.
Dinner:  Oven-Braised Mexican Beef

Breakfast:  Leftover sweet potato hash with poached eggs
Lunch:  Chicken Salad  (I got this recipe from my Well Fed 2 cookbook; I made her mayo this week, and I just adapted the recipe to use chicken instead of tuna)
Dinner:  Cilantro Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

Breakfast:  Almond Flour Pancakes (I can't find the recipe I'm using, but I'll post it later this week)
Lunch:  Leftover chicken stir fry
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy

Breakfast:  Menemen
Lunch:  Leftover beef burgundy
Dinner:  Pork chops and green beans

Breakfast:  Banana Almond Pancakes
Lunch:  Buffalo Chicken Salad
Dinner:  Steak and Eggs Hash

Breakfast:  I'm not sure, I'm gonna have to figure something out because I wasn't a huge fan of the omelet muffins I made last week.  (More below.)  Maybe leftover steak & eggs hash.
Lunch:  Buffalo Chicken Salad
Dinner:  Crock Pot Turkey Chili

Breakfast:  Another meal I'll have to figure out.
Lunch:  Out to lunch with mom & Maraea.
Dinner:  Roasted Potatoes, Chicken Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Weekly Reviews
Now, for my reviews of the recipes I've made already.

1.  Avocado Bacon Omelet
I wasn't sure how to feel about hot guacamole wrapped up in an omelet, but it actually wasn't that bad.  Omelets were never really my favorite things - I like runny yolks, not cooked yolks - but I tried something new.  This was certainly filling.

2.  Chicken Tostadas
The chicken was marinated in a citrus juice / cilantro / garlic marinade, and was very tasty.  The tostadas were made out of plantains; which smelled good, but I burned them.  They need less time in the oven next time.  The ranchero sauce was good and packed a good heat to it.  I'm making this one again, but I'm going to try and not burn the tostadas, obv.

3.  Banana Almond Pancakes
Yo.  These are NOMZY.  I really loved these.  I would have eaten two more except I wasted them on my daughter who told me, "You didn't make the pancakes good this time."  (Because it wasn't the normal mix.  In time, she will be converted.)  Only problem is that the batter wasn't as cohesive as a normal pancake batter and it was hard to tell when to flip them, and they were hard to flip.  They turned out better than my other pancakes though.  (Keep reading.)

4.  Egg Salad
This was okay.  I don't have a go-to recipe for egg salad, so I was just trying one I found that I thought looked good.  This one had green peppers and celery and scallions and parsley in it.  Next time, I will probably leave the green peppers out.  I love green peppers, but they didn't really have a place in the salad.  Otherwise it was pretty tasty.  I put it on top of lettuce and mixed it all up to make what I called an Egg Salad Salad, but I would have preferred to wrap them in lettuce leaves.  My store didn't have any that week.

5.  Omelet Muffins
Ehhh.  I wasn't a fan.  I was so hoping to love these.  But again, I don't like cooked yolks in eggs.  I like runny yolks.  When these first came out of the oven they smelled real good, but I popped them into the fridge for consumption the next day.  Cold omelet muffins?  Ick.  I nuked them, and they were just okay.  They were not good enough for me to want to blow almost an entire dozen of eggs on another recipe.  I'd rather just poach two eggs and eat them plain than make these again.  They sure looked pretty though.

6.  Chicken with Shallots and Sweet Potatoes
This dish wasn't half bad.  The shallots and rosemary are sauteed in coconut oil and then I just poured them on top of a grilled chicken breast.  Plain mashed sweet potatoes - I added some ghee while mashing to give some flavor, though it wasn't called for in the recipe.  I'd make this again, but I need to figure out what to put into mashed sweet potatoes that makes them a little tastier.

7.  Almond Flour Pancakes
These were tasty - but a little gritty.  While I was just looking for the link to post above, I came across another almond flour pancake recipe that used many of the same ingredients, that instructed you to use a hand blender to fully combine all the ingredients.  I think I will do that with this recipe next time.  As you can see, I suck at flipping pancakes.  And I also suck at determining the proper temperature to cook them on at the right speed.  I'm getting there though.  However, I'm tempted to find a Paleo waffle recipe because the work is all done for me in a waffle maker.  Mental note!

Right now, I've got oven-braised Mexican beef filling my house with a hearty, mouth-watering smell.  I can't WAIT for dinner tonight.  Which oops, reminds me, I gotta go whip up a batch of guac to slather on top.  Yum!

A couple more pictures....

Here's my bounty secured from Whole Foods yesterday.  Talk about "shopping the perimeter".  By the time I got through the meat department, my cart was nearly full, and I only needed to grab some spices and some cans of tomatoes to round out this week's meal plan.  It wasn't easy on my bank account, but I did have to stock up on a lot of meat (my freezer stash was down to almost nothing).

This is what my dog is eating this week.  I add protein to her meal, but I made a fruit-and-veggie salad to scoop from every time I feed her.  In addition to this, she sometimes gets some spoonfuls of pumpkin; leftovers of ours (roast chicken, sweet potatoes, etc); coconut oil; apple cider vinegar; and a selection of supplements that are supposed to help with her allergies.

And last, I am somewhat of a stalker, and am always interested in peoples' kitchens.  When I read food blogs, I try to imagine what their kitchens are like.  What is their setup?  So in case you might be wondering, here is where all the Paleo magic is happening in my household:

It's not usually this clean.  I'm proud of this kitchen though.  I designed the remodel from top to bottom, with the help of a kitchen designer of course, but I love this kitchen.  Love love love it.

That's all I've got for today folks.  More to come this week.  This week I go back to Weight Watchers.  I'm eager to see what my weigh-in number is on Thursday.

Have a great week!!  xoxo

Friday, January 3, 2014

Favorite Instagram Pictures of 2013

Much as I love talking about food on here, I really do have a life outside of it.  I promise.

Photography is another passion of mine.  A huge passion.  I wish I could spend more time with it.

(What the heck am I doing that's keeping me from doing that?  I need to figure this out.)

We got a pretty big snowstorm here in the NE overnight and I'm actually planning on going outside with my kiddo later today and maybe get her down to the park and take some wintry pics of her.

But in the meantime.  I really love Instagram.  I love it way more than Facebook.  I think I might use it more than Facebook.  If more of my friends were on it, I'd be happy to ditch Facebook altogether in favor of Instagram.

(Wanna follow me?  Here's my profile.)

So I was scrolling through my pictures the other day, as I often do, to look back on things that have happened recently and not so recently.  There are a handful of pictures I always linger on, so I decided to post them here as my favorite pictures of 2013 from my Instagram feed.  Enjoy!

Snuggling with daddy.

Distrito with our favorite foodie friends.

Watching KU play at Xfinity Live before going to the playoffs

Created by my bestie Cara - still can't stop laughing at this.


Morgan Lewis night at the zoo

So much cute in one picture, I can't stand it.

Making fajitas with Danielle.

Finally arriving at the "big hotel" after a verrrry long drive!

Family vacation!

Ahhh.  The beach.

A girl and her pop-pop.

Me and the dozing flower girl.

The McGowan Women!  I have a new sister!

Burning stuff in Indiana.

Cousin love.

Hawaiian sunrises.

Not blowing it on vacation!

So cute.

Maraea by the window light.

More cute.


Here's to 2014...