Many and Varied Colorful Cursewords

This post is the most frustrating one I’ve ever had to write.
That may sound melodramatic, but it’s honestly where I am in this moment. There’s been a sea change in my life, my heart is crushed, and I am genuinely grieving right now.

I’ve been diagnosed with Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). For those unfamiliar with it, OAS occurs when someone who has severe pollen allergies also starts to have symptoms when they eat certain foods — primarily raw fruit and nuts. In my case, the reactions have been on the milder side: it’s been mostly itching in my nose, mouth and throat. One symptom I’ve experienced that I haven’t seen reported anywhere, though, is an oddly heavy sensation in my head. It’s hard to explain — it’s sort of like the fuzzy feeling you get when you take one of the older antihistamines like Benadryl (which I’ve had a fair amount of experience with this week, thanks to new reactions popping up that have never occurred before).

If you’ve read this blog much at all, you know how I love food. Especially summer food. I adore stone fruits and berries and have only just developed an affection for melon, .
I’m not exaggerating when I say about half of what I eat from June to September is fruit and/or nut-based, and mostly raw at that. So for those foods to suddenly be taken away from me — the sadness is indescribable. I have cried more in the last week than I have in the previous six months.

I’m told (and have seen in one instance) that I may be able to have the cooked versions of most fruits, but I have not experimented with that very much as of yet. I’m still trying to get my system to calm down. Thus far that means regular doses of one of the newer antihistamines, coupled with a short course of oral steroids and Benadryl if I’m feeling a reaction. My new allergist also prescribed a longer term nasal steroid as well. I’m having blood tests done, and may also do skin testing once this allergy season is over.

In addition to my doctors’ recommendations, I’m also trying to boost my immune system. As always when I’m studying, I’ve been less strict than I want to be with my diet, but that’s got to change. I’m going to be focusing on doing the right thing. That means no more junky food, for a start.
It also means I’m going to help myself feel better via reducing inflammation by taking omega-3, improving gut health with fermented foods and probiotics; increasing my intake of healing foods like gelatin and bone broth; and taking vitamin C to help make up for what I’m missing by not eating fruits as usual. I’m not going to say that I will make my OAS go away, necessarily, but I am definitely going to commit to this regimen, because even if it doesn’t ‘fix’ my allergies, it can only do me good.

Taking Stock (but not making it)

My word, it’s been sooo long. At the moment, I’m knee deep in my studies and it seems I’ve barely got time to breathe, let alone blog. I feel like I’ve been exactly zero fun to be around, too. I guess that’s what happens when you separate me from my kitchen.

The worst part is that it’s not entirely my studies that have kept me from any serious cooking. Right around the winter holidays, the ancient cast iron pipe our (wonderful, beloved, if decrepit) old house gave up the ghost. As you can imagine, it costs a pretty penny to repair such a thing, and my inner cheapskate is deeply unhappy about it. Still, we will get it done.
In the meantime, however, it means our kitchen sink and washing machine are not as usable as we need them to be. With a family of six, that’s extremely challenging. We have gotten by with regular trips to the local laundromat (holy WOW, they are much better than I remember!), but the sink is another matter. Fortunately, the pipe isn’t completely gone — we are getting just enough drainage to do dishes — but the dishwasher I was planning to gift myself for Christmas will have to wait.

The broken pipe also means that there was some significant flooding in our basement as well, so we will be dealing with that for some time. I know I’d said I wanted to clear out the junk down there: perhaps it was fate offering a helping hand.
I’d expected that a remodel was in our near-future (we want to move one of the teens to a new bedroom in the basement), but first we want to see how the mess shakes out. I just keep telling myself that I’m learning lessons in delayed gratification, whether I wanted to or not!

At any rate, things around here will be sparse for the next couple of weeks, while I prepare to take my licensing exam and get the work done that needs to get done around the house. As always, it’s an adventure.
You know that old saying “may you live in interesting times?” It may be apocryphal, but it seems to be my lot at the moment. I’m looking forward to a lot less interest once this is done!



Happy Holidays!

Paleo + Life | Holiday Card

My youngest girl made this for me, with help from the oldest. I love it.

Oh, my – is it truly Christmas Eve? This month has been busier than I thought. In my mind I’ve written this blog post about 900 times already.

At at any rate, this being December, I have been busily running thither and yon. Celebrating my youngest girl’s birthday with a mega-sleepover (holy moly, little girls are nuts!), dealing with major flooding in our basement and getting ready for Christmas (grabby toddler equals no tree, at least this year). I have also been reading a ton of books and thinking about what I want to accomplish in the New Year.

First is a renewed focus on health. At the moment, I have a fierce sinus infection. At first, I thought it was a cold, but after a few days of painful swallowing I had to give in and see the doctor.
I’m quite glad that I did: it gives me the chance to combat this nasty sickness with both allopathic medicine (antibiotics and Sudafed) and some more natural means (lots of cranberry-ginger tea, probiotics to replenish the good gut bacteria, and supplemental NAC to loosen up all the gunk in my sinuses). I’m also trying to severely limit sugar, alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine. These are, of course, some of my favorite things about Christmas, which will make for an interesting holiday dinner.
(I expect I will compromise and have something with fruit and honey, on the theory that honey offers many health benefits as well as sweetness.)

I’m also looking at branching out a little from paleo. While the focus on the blog will not change — I like eating this way too much to give it up — I am intrigued and want to experiment a bit with some “paleo-adjacent” dietary philosophies. Specifically, I’ve just read The Adrenal Reset Diet and am intrigued enough (and like beans enough) to give it a shot. I will report back on that soon.

The other thing on my mind is a creative project of some sort. While I’ve passed the time in my life where I want to be famous — do all kids go through that stage? All of mine seem to — I do want to try some kind of creative project next year. The problem, as always, is more ideas than time. One thing on the list, though, is trying a video or two for the blog. Back when I watched TV on the regular, I adored watching TV cooks, and at one point aspired to be one. So video may be on the agenda for 2016. No promises, but I will keep y’all posted.

Finally, I want to reduce the clutter in my life. I know there are things in my basement that haven’t seen the light of day since we moved in to our house. It’s long past time for them to go! They say (whomever “they” are) that getting rid of things you no longer need or want makes room in your life for the things that you do. I sincerely hope that’s true. Even if it isn’t, I believe that the very act of making room will feel quite freeing.

Hmm. I started at Christmas, but have gone straight on to the New Year. While, as I’ve said I don’t do resolutions, I do like having goals. I look forward to striving toward these goals in 2016.

If you’ve got a goal you’d like to share, drop a note in the comments. In the meantime, happy holidays to you, whichever ones you celebrate, and best wishes for a smashing new year!

Happy Thanksgiving To You!

Paleo + Life | Bacon-Wrapped Turkey
This pretty beastie is my all-time favorite. All other turkeys pale in comparison to the joy of the bacon wrap!

How is it already Thanksgiving time? I was just discussing with a friend how it always seems like “Oh, it’s two weeks away, I don’t need to worry about that yet!” and suddenly it’s HERE. Whoops.

But no need to fret: one of the reasons I adore Thanksgiving is that it’s really the simplest holiday to manage. Not like Halloween, with costumes and candy and trying to plan treats that won’t make one feel bad afterward; or all of the hoopla surrounding Christmas (and which, I might add, has been going on since darned near August!). Turkey Day is the best because it’s just three parts: Buy food. Cook it. Eat it.
Depending on your family, there may also be football (we are sports-averse, so this is not us), or a trip to the movies (sadly, the tot is not quite old enough for this yet), but the heart of this holiday is the meal. It’s a food blogger’s dream come true.

Every year, I try to make the meal just a little bit different. Sure, there’s always turkey, and there’s gotta be dressing (NOT stuffing and yes, there is a BIG difference), but the sides and desserts are where I like to have my fun. This year, I’m thinking:

It’s simple, totally Paleo, and easy as the proverbial pie. I’m so looking forward to a relaxing day of cooking up some goodies for the family.

What are you thinking of making for this foodiest of holidays? Drop a line in the comments if you’re so inclined.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad

Strawberry Cucumber Salad | Paleo + Life

As I write this, great sheets of rain are pouring down outside, our fireplace is going full blast, and I’m making an immense mug of tea. It seems an odd time to be thinking of light, fruit-based dishes like this one. Strawberries, in particular, seem to be the heart of summer.

However, it happened that when I went to the grocery store, I was thinking about salad. Well, about roast chicken and salad. Specifically, about how boring this salad would be, because I always do roast chicken with a big salad. I was also thinking how very, very tired I am of the same old tomato salad, and what on earth could I do instead?

While I was standing there in the produce department, I noticed a stack of strawberries. The combination of the crisp, meaty smell of roasted chicken in my basket and the sweet perfume from the berries reminded me of a lovely meal I’d had at a restaurant ages ago. The salad was fantastic, with strawberries, blackened chicken, corn, black beans — I don’t remember anything else about that evening, but that salad was perfection.

Thus inspired, I picked up the berries, some balsamic vinegar, and dashed home to try to make something like it. In the end, this salad was more like a cousin than a twin, but it added a twist to the routine, the kids happily gobbled it up, and it was lovely having a little bit of summer in the middle of my autumn.

Strawberry Cucumber Salad


  • 1 head romaine lettuce, cut in a chiffonade
  • 10-15 sorrel leaves, cut in a chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons mild fresh herbs, such as salad burnet or parsley
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half rounds
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine romaine, sorrel, herbs, berries and cucumber slices. Toss gently with salad tongs.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine olive oil and vinegar, stirring vigorously. Drizzle the mixture over the salad.
  3. Grind salt and black pepper over the salad to taste. Toss salad again; serve immediately.


Our kitchen

Our kitchen, when we bought the house.


That is how I feel with no fridge. Yes, we have the mini fridge, and no, no one is starving, but I am longing to have my proper fridge back. I miss having the ability to store a bigger quantity of food, and plan meals over a longer period of time, and the convenience of being able to just do a leftover night on the spur of the moment.

I suppose, in some ways, this is what it might be like to undergo a remodel — which I have contemplated almost from the moment we bought the house. I love our neighborhood and our sunny, south-facing lot, and I am of course grateful that we have a roof over our heads (no easy feat with six of us to house), in terms of style, our house is, well, meh. It basically does the job of keeping us warm and dry, and we have made a few minor updates since this picture was taken, but I know it could be so much more.

It feels a little weird to discuss this here on the blog — remodeling doesn’t seem like a particularly “Paleo” topic. But I think it fits in, even if it’s a stretch. Paleo is about making yourself healthier, which to my mind includes setting up your home to facilitate healthy choices. My goals for the kitchen, I think, will do that.

I want to add a full-sized freezer, so that we can buy a side of beef from a local farm and have room to store it. I’d also like to add pantry space so that I have room for fermentation projects like homemade sauerkraut and kombucha. I would like more counter space so that I have more room for cooking with the sous vide. Finally, I really want a prettier space to work in. That would feed my soul, which at times feels almost as important as making the practical kitchen functions go more smoothly.

I’m sure there are other things that I’m overlooking. If you’re so inclined, please do leave a comment with your favorite thing about your kitchen. I would love to know what works for you.

Kaput, or Get Well Soon Tea

I had planned to post a recipe this week, but I suddenly found myself in food blogger hell.
My fridge died. It requires some part, probably from the deepest pits of Mt. Doom, and untold dollars to set it to rights. So my recipe progress will be a bit stalled until that happens.

Oddly, the freezer is still working fine. Because of this, and because we purchased a tiny dorm-style fridge to tide us over, we have been, if not exactly comfortable, at least able to continue feeding ourselves. It requires regular trips to the store (not exactly daily, but close), which makes me feel very fancy and European. Ooh la la indeed.

This death of the fridge has coincided with my youngest girl being under the weather. She doesn’t want to eat much, but she does love sweet things. Since I had blueberries in the freezer, honey in the cupboard, and a tiny little squeezer of lime juice in the mini-fridge, I made this tea for her.
The frozen blueberries, aside from being chock full of vitamins, quickly bring the tea down to a reasonable temperature (cool enough for my little, but warm enough to still be soothing).


Get Well Soon Tea


  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin (I use Great Lakes, in the green can -- it dissolves perfectly)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/8-1/4 cup frozen blueberries (do not thaw)


  1. Combine lime juice, honey and gelatin in a heatproof mug. Pour in boiling water; stir thoroughly.
  2. Add frozen blueberries. Serve immediately.




I have been reluctant to write this post, which I’m fairly certain means that I need to do it. So here goes. This is a little bit more intimate than usual for the blog, so if you just come for the food (which is totally okay with me — sometimes you just want some food!), feel free to sit this one out.

As you may have noticed, I took a break from the blog for a bit, because I wanted to concentrate on studying for my professional licensing exam. And study I did. Every day, for hours at a time, my world was condensed down to a coffee shop and a set of purple workbooks I grew to hate.
If it wasn’t a workbook, and it didn’t scream or bark, I didn’t pay it any attention.

Despite the months of effort, I did not pass my exam. Again.

This was pretty devastating, as you can imagine. All that time and effort. All the hours I missed playing with my kids and enjoying the summer, not eating right, not exercising — and all of it for naught. Just to find out, once again, that I was thisclose to passing, but once again fell short.

I’ve been rather down on myself as a result. Going back to school as a married woman with  three kids was hard. Having a baby in the middle of that was harder still. But I did it. I managed to get through it and looked forward to having a somewhat simpler life.
Yet this exam is the last hurdle before I can do what I’ve trained to do for years and I just. could. not. get it. What is wrong with me? I thought. How am I such a failure?

I think y’all can see where my problem is. Somehow, I decided my worth as a person was directly related to what I achieved in the world. That my value as a human being was only important as far as what I did, what I was able to do, how impressive I was able to be. How ridiculous is that?

I know better. It took me a really long time to learn that lesson, but I know it. Still, I am an academic achiever from way back, and I have a strong sense of myself as “smart”.
Smart is a big part of my identity and who I have always been.
So when faced with a professional/academic disappointment, I turned on myself. I forgot to show myself compassion, and gentleness, and support. I forgot to treat myself the way I would treat a friend.

Now, I’m going to tell you a little story:
Lately I’ve been trying to clean up my language. I am generally an unapologetic potty mouth, but our paleo baby is squarelly into toddlerhood now. Even better, he’s at that wonderful stage where as often as not, he parrots whatever I say. Since I prefer not to get kicked out of mommy & me activities because of my little foul-mouthed sailor, I started substituting the phrase “Cussword!” for what I really mean to say. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is nearly as satisfying as the real thing. (And highly amused when the boy runs through the house yelling “Cussword! Cussword!”)

So I’ve said a few (okay, more than a few) cusswords about this entire situation. I’ve careened between frustration and rage, and gone from despair to fury and back again. I’ll probably feel this way for a while longer. And that’s okay: I accept that I will occasionally be down about disappointments like this.
But I am trying to remember to treat myself as if I matter. To remember that what I do does not define who I am. That I am more than the numbers on a scoresheet, and that I am worthy of respect, from others, and from myself, simply because I exist. That I need balance in my life, and health, and that sacrificing those things, no matter how worthy the goal, is not how I want to live.

It’s a work in progress. But isn’t it always?

Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots

Roasted Carrots

Paleo + Life|Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots

Oh, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Suddenly, it is the first day of fall. Looking back, summer flew by, though I can clearly recall individual days that seemed to last forever.

While I feel like I still need time to really settle in to the rhythm of fall, the thing I am most glad of is the cooler weather and the ability to cook in my kitchen again. I have missed it terribly, but so much of the summer was just too hot to live. Fall, now, this is my time. There’s just so much good food to be had.

Like these carrots, for example. I am a complete sucker for rainbow carrots. They cost a bunch more than regular carrots, but I don’t even care. Colors! Yellow ones, purple ones, even the usual orange ones are pretty spiffy when arranged prettily on a plate.

You may be surprised to learn which variety is your favorite — I love the orange varieties of carrots, but the yellow ones are my favorite, as they are milder and sweeter. The purple are a bit intense: they seem almost beet-like in their musky overtones.

A couple of notes: Go easy on the pepper (and a little heavier on the honey) if you are making this for little ones, unless yours are like my oldest, who loves spicy things about as much as she loves us. Sensitive palates may balk. Also, if your honey is a really thick variety, try zapping it in the microwave to get the right consistency for drizzling. You don’t want to use immense gobs of honey; the idea is to gently enhance the natural sweetness of the carrots, not overwhelm it.


Honey & Pepper Roasted Carrots


  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots
  • 3 tablespoons oil (melted coconut oil is my favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (if yours is quite thick, warm it up in the microwave)
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash, gently scrub and pat dry the carrots. Lay them flat on a cookie sheet.
  3. Drizzle the carrots with the oil, rotating them to ensure that all sides are coated. Repeat with the honey.
  4. Sprinkle the carrots with pepper and salt. Place them in the oven, roasting until they are carmelized and "give" when poked with a fork (approximately 25 minutes).
  5. Remove from the oven and serve.

On The Go: Paleo Snacks

Paleo Snacks | Paleo + Life

Portable snacks are a lifesaver around here. Between the kids’ schedules and ours, we are on the go a fair amount. While there are a few paleo staples I have all the time, like hardboiled eggs and beef jerky, I thought I’d share a few, lesser known paleo snacks with you as well.
We rely on these sorts of things to stay as paleo as we can when we’re out.

Exo bars: These bars, made with cricket flour, are amazing. I was mostly amazed that they didn’t taste like the bottom of a dirty shoe (because, honestly, the idea of eating crickets sounded pretty darned gross). But it’s not just that they aren’t bad, the taste is actually good: the flavors are true, fruity and intense. The toddler has gotten more particular about his snacks as he heads into the terrible twos — even old reliable snacks like bananas and applesauce are rejected about half the time — but the blueberry vanilla Exo bar is the one he snatched out of the pile and demanded to eat RIGHT NOW. In my book

EPIC bars: I dig these because they are more savory than most. The vast majority of snack bars are fruity and/or sweet, which can be cloying after a while. Epic bars, though, taste as if a bratwurst has been flattened and turned into a portable snack. Beef Habanero Cherry is my favorite, though I have not yet tried the lamb and mint version.

Larabars: A Paleo classic (is there such a thing, really?), Larabars are a reliable treat that satisfies my sweet tooth pretty readily. Most of them are even clean enough for a Whole30: the ingredients are generally dates, nuts, and fruits (make sure you read the label carefully, as most, but not all, are paleo).

I really like the variety of flavors available, too, though I almost always choose Cashew Cookie for its simple deliciousness. Of the latest flavors, Pineapple Upside Down Cake is my new favorite, though Chocolate Covered Almond is a close second.

Vermont Smoke & Cure: These RealSticks are a nice alternative to beef jerky, which is my usual snack. They are not inexpensive, but they are delicious. I like the BBQ and Cracked Black Pepper flavors best — the pepper is sharp and feisty, while the BBQ has a classic southern-style tang.






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