Tag Archives: community

Opening of the Market

Last week, I had one of my favorite days of the year: the season opener of my local farmers market. I have gone every year since we bought our house, and know what to expect, but there’s an effervescent joy I succumb to every time the season begins.

Opening days are frequently the same wet and rainy drizzle that makes up an Oregon winter, with just a few hardy souls willing to brave the damp. But not this day. On this day, the sun splashes across the cool blue sky, lending a sparkle to the afternoon, if not warmth. It is definitely sweater weather. Still, the memory of winter is fresh, and these rays feel luxurious in contrast. It is glorious, and I am again, so thrilled to call this place my home.

Market Sign

Flower Basket

Humongous hanging baskets from one of our favorite vendors.

Market Crowd

This was a surprisingly good crowd for opening day — thank goodness for the nice weather!

Sample Salad

Radish and green salad in a freshly made vinaigrette. It was delicious — I’ve been using the spice mixture in a variety of dishes since then.

 

Cacao Bean

Can you believe this is a cacao bean? I had never seen one in person before. It’s quite striking.

Sampling the goods

The tot, of course, prefers sampling to learning how chocolate is made. Clever boy.

Taking on a Challenge

Happy Monday! Is that an oxymoron for people? I know the start of the week can be rough (my youngest girl went off to school with a melodramatic frown and a pair of sunglasses that practically covered her entire face).

I’m a wee bit giddy today because, even though I am knee-deep in studying, I decided that I would make time for a dietary refresh. While keeping the blog helps me hew to the paleo path pretty closely, I still sometimes take a detour (can I just make the weirdest confession here? Of all the non-paleo food out there, the one that gets me is crunchy tacos from you-know-where. Seriously. No, I have no idea what that’s about).

While I don’t think feeling guilty about straying from a strict paleo template makes sense, I do want to be my best, healthiest self for the next few weeks — and with the intensive work I’m doing, it is all too easy to justify a treat here, an indulgence there, until your 80/20 is more like 60/40. Now, 60% real food is still a darned sight better than none, but I have a two-day mental marathon and I need to be sharp.

What I love about the challenge is that at its base, it is simple: Eat good food, make time to move, and get good rest. Check out the lovely infographic below.

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge
Doesn’t that sound good? You can do anything for just three weeks, right? I’m sure I can.

Drop a note in the comments if you’re trying the 21-day challenge, or doing something else. I would love to know what you’re up to this month!

Making That Change

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Shredded pork, sauteed greens and baked potato. A fairly typical — and easy — Primal dinner. (Trade the sour cream for ghee if you’re on a Whole30.)

I am continuing with the theme of resolutions today. I realized that in my previous post about resolutions, where shared my paleo intro story, I was so focused on encouraging paleo newbies to give it a try right now that I forgot a most important part: my resolutions for the new year, as a more experienced paleo eater. Now that the first blush of romance with paleo is over, what do I do to keep this a sustainable lifestyle?

Here, in no particular order, are my paleo resolutions:

Eat more superfoods.

While I love love love beef tongue and heart (recipe coming soon!), I have been rather irregular about incorporating these and other paleo superfoods like sauerkraut, seafood, and bone broth into my diet. My resolution is to have these foods at least once a week.

Up my vegetable quotient.

Dr. Terry Wahls, author of The Wahls Protocol and recovered MS patient, recommends that we all — yes, even those who do not have autoimmune disorders — eat at least nine cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
Nine! Can you imagine? Some days I’m lucky to get one. (I lean heavily toward protein, since I happen to like meat more than I do veggies.) When I am really on top of my game and paying attention to my food, I average about six servings a day.

My resolution: at least once a week, get nine servings in a day.

Learn to make a really good Paleo bread.

This resolution is more about the family more than me, but there’s certainly some self-interest behind this goal. While I generally prefer not to indulge, and while it may not be super strict paleo, I do think there is a place in a paleo lifestyle for the occasional loaf of bread, crackers, muffins, etc.

My resolution: create the best darn bread I can devise.
(I suspect this resolution will require the assistance of my very talented mama.)

Cook my way through an entire paleo cookbook.

I’ve always admired folks like Carol Blymire, who cooked her way through two foodie masterworks: The French Laundry Cookbook and the Alinea cookbook. While my ambitions are on a somewhat smaller scale, and I’m not certain when I will start, I think it will be lots of fun to make my way through a book and a challenge to expand my horizons a bit more. (Oysters, anyone? Shudder.)

My resolution: Cook every recipe in The Zenbelly Cookbook.

Dial in the paleo lifestyle.

That’s such an odd phrase, isn’t it? To “dial in?” I have a love/hate relationship with it. It sounds jargon-y, and more than a little pretentious, to my ear. On the other hand, it adds a tactile dimension that is often missing from our day-to-day lives, when so much of what we do takes place in “cyberspace.”

I want more tactile experiences in life. It’s part of why I enjoy cooking. The experience of preparing food centers me, helps ground me and makes me feel connected to my body. And in order to have these experiences, I need to take the best care of myself that I can, so I will be in good enough shape to enjoy them!

My resolution: Get more sleep, lower my stress levels, and strengthen my core.
(These are somewhat general, and I know specific and measurable goals are important here. I will need to define this piece more clearly before I undertake it.)


That’s it for me. I think that’s quite enough! I’d love to know what your resolutions are this year, paleo and otherwise. Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Intro to Paleo

Nerd Christmas | Paleo + Life

My sweetie got me the best gift: a TARDIS tea infuser. So. Awesome.

Did you have a good Christmas (assuming you celebrate it)? Ours was surprisingly sweet.
My wonderful mother-in-law had created a most epic advent for the kids, based around the Nutcracker. Each day, we read a short excerpt from the story, and then opened a gift which related to that excerpt — culminating in the gift of a DVD of the ballet as performed at Covent Garden in London. On Christmas Day, we opened presents, had a lovely dinner, and watched the video. As a final nod to the theme, we even had Nutcracker-themed Christmas crackers!
I am extraordinarily lucky to have J. as my mother-in-law; her thoughtfulness inspires me. I look forward to (someday, a long, long time from now) being as good a grandmother as she.

Speaking of looking forward: As I mentioned the other day, I am hoping that the new year brings more folks into the paleo fold. While I assume most people visiting this blog are already interested, I wanted to share with you a quick post I wrote for a friend that encapsulates what I think are the most important points to remember about this way of eating and living. Please feel free to share it with your non-paleo friends.

Intro to Paleo

Paleo isn’t a diet in the usual sense. This is not meant to be a quick fix when your pants feel too tight or you binged on one too many burritos. Instead, paleo living is meant to be something you do for the rest of your life.

So what exactly is it? I’ve written a somewhat longer intro here, but my 30 second “elevator pitch” is that paleo living means three things:

  1. don’t eat food that causes inflammation;
  2. do eat the most nutritious food you can find;
  3. take care of yourself: body, mind and spirit.

Let’s talk about these in a little more detail:

  1. Don’t eat food that causes inflammation: Paleo folks avoid wheat, sugar, dairy, corn, beans (legumes), most seed and vegetable oils, and grains. There’s a lot of scientific explanations for why this is a good idea, but the short version is that these foods irritate your gut and cause inflammation in your body. While inflammation is great, for example, when you get a cut and your body protects you by causing swelling around it, long-term inflammation is a disaster for your body. It’s especially so when you are struggling with arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease or many other conditions.
    So, when you start paleo, avoid all of that stuff for at least 30 days.
    (After the elimination period, try adding back dairy, legumes or white rice; see how you tolerate them. If you feel good after you try them, add them back into your diet occasionally for variety. The other stuff is out for good.)
  2. Eat the most nutritious food: Instead, focus on foods that have the most vitamins and nutrition. Green veggies, fish, meat, and good fats will be the bulk of your meals.
    Increasing nutrients may mean simple changes, like substituting Boston lettuce for iceberg, or cooking with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, or making squash puree instead of white potatoes.
    It can also mean learning to love less popular cuts of meat, like tongue, heart and liver, as well as considering how your meat animals were raised (they should eat the food they eat naturally, not grains that make them fatten up more quickly).
    However you do it, the point is to squeeze in as many vitamins and minerals as possible in your meals.
    This does not mean your food will be boring! Going paleo is not about counting calories.
    Eat real, healthy foods made with real, healthy fats. You can still have burgers — just wrap them in lettuce instead of bread. You can have normal side dishes like peppers and onions or broccoli: just switch out the starch in your meals (corn, rice, beans, fries) for more vegetables. Ironically,  many people think paleo is a meat-heavy diet: I’ve never eaten more veggies in my life.
  3. Take care of yourself: it’s also important to make time to care for your body. Get enough sleep — this is one of the biggest sources of inflammation and stress (and makes it super hard to lose weight). Find some sort of exercise you enjoy and do it. Learn to meditate, pray or do something else that helps you calm your mind and de-stress.

Now I know, many folks will think “I could never give up bread” or “you’ll pry my milk out of my cold, dead hands”, and to them I say: just try it for 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days, right? I’m sure you’ve done something harder in your life. If you went to school, or learned to drive — heck, if you learned to read — you can definitely do this.

If you feel better after those 30 days, then you know something you were eating was hurting you, and you can figure out what. If you don’t feel any different? No harm, no foul. You’ve just spent 30 days eating the most nutritious food you can. There is no downside to that. But chances are, you’ll feel so good, you’ll want to keep it up.


Below is a link to the Family Resolution Revolution ebook bundle, which is on sale starting today. There are so many good books and product discounts in this sale. Whether you are new to paleo or an experienced paleo-ista, I highly recommend you check it out. A collection like this is a great way to get someone started on the paleo path quickly and inexpensively. I’ll be buying it myself as a gift for someone I love.

Family-Resolution-Revolution-E-Bundle-740x320

Happy Christmas

To those about to celebrate, I wish you an happy Christmas.
May you enjoy abundance in the company of those you love.
To those not celebrating, I hope you have a beautiful day filled with the same.

Looking Ahead to 2015
For better or worse, I am extremely future oriented. This makes me a pretty good planner, despite my tendency toward procrastination. (Is that an odd combination or what?)

Because of this tendency, I have been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions for the last few weeks. It seems everyone is ready for a fresh start at this time of year, trying out new things and seeing how they fit into their lives. Personally, I dearly hope that more people will give paleo a try. Even though you can start paleo anytime, there is just something about the collective energy of millions of people around the world making a change at this time that is really compelling.

I had thought about creating a program or meal plans myself, but I don’t have the time to develop anything and do it justice right now. So when I was invited to be an affiliate for the Paleo Parents Family Resolution Revolution, I was completely excited.

Family-Resolution-Revolution-E-Bundle-740x320

I don’t participate in a lot of online programs, but this one caught my interest because it’s a screaming good deal. There are some seriously good eBooks in this bundle — Well-Fed 2 and Easy Paleo Gelatin Treats are ones I use and love — and some excellent discounts from vendors like Honeyville, whose almond flour is divine, and Pure Indian Foods, who make fabulous ghee. I’ll be able to share more details when the sale goes live, but I encourage you to click the link above and check it out.

(Semi-)Paleo Husbands

The Photographer @ Work | Paleo + LifeSomehow, in my discussions of going paleo with the family, I have not yet tackled the most challenging convert: Mr. Paleo + Life. (No, I don’t actually call him that. I generally call him B., because I am lazy and remembering the names of all the people in our house is sometimes beyond me.)

Convincing B. to go paleo was surprisingly easy: I basically begged him to do the Whole30 with me, because I needed a buddy to help me through the process. As is his wont, unless he thinks I have suggested something completely insane, he agreed. Because he is diabetic, he figured paleo wasn’t too far off from how he should be eating anyway, and would give him a chance to clean up his diet. So we started down that bumpy road and 30 days later, managed to complete it. We high-fived ourselves and eagerly looked forward to re-introducing some old favorites.

As we worked our way through the re-introduction period, we made some interesting discoveries. The most striking of these was the first time B. tried something with gluten: he got incredibly sick and had to come home to recover.  In my opinion, this was proof that he was gluten-sensitive (something I’d suspected for a while; B. has a close relative with celiac disease) and we needed to go absolutely gluten-free.

My darling spouse, on the other hand, strongly disagreed. He did not want to hear it. I didn’t understand at all. The more I read, the more I was afraid that continuing to eat gluten would do serious damage to his health. Furthermore, all of the breads, muffins, etc. were so high on the glycemic index anyway, why not replace that stuff with food that actually offered nutrition?
He felt that as his diet was restricted already (due to the diabetes) taking away another thing was absolutely too much, and that getting sick was probably just as much about the quality what he ate (a burger from the Scottish restaurant) as it was about the contents of the meal.

At some point, we came to a resolution. I reminded myself that I am not the boss of him, as the kiddies say — he has to be paleo by his own choice or it won’t be sustainable. B., meanwhile, acknowledges my strong feelings on the subject, recognizes that he generally does feel better eating paleo, and since I make most of the meals at our house, they will be paleo ones. I am attempting more paleo baking, which helps to make this lifestyle sustainable for us. It seems like a reasonable compromise.

So what about you? If you have a reluctant partner to convince, how did you go about it? Please share in the comments.

In The Caterer’s Kitchen

Collards & Cabbage | Paleo + Life

Collards & Cabbage

The silver lining of this trip, which was for such a sad purpose, was being able to see my mother and stepfather again. They came out to visit us in late May for my graduation, and I didn’t expect another visit before 2015.

My mom is a nurturer — as I’ve mentioned, she has been a nurse for decades — and she is also one of those folks who shows her affection with food. If she takes the time to make a nice meal when you visit, you know you matter.

Mom's Ribs | Paleo + Life

Mom’s Ribs

It’s always a joy to be in my mama’s kitchen. Mostly because I don’t have to do anything; I can just hang out and know that there is a delicious meal coming. Although I adore cooking and getting creative in the kitchen, sometimes it is nice not to be in charge of that.

While I was there, I was also taking notes and getting ideas for future blog posts — the collards and cabbage, for example, is a great side dish that is perfectly Paleo. I will have to snag that recipe from her soon. As for the ribs, well — those may remain a family secret for a while longer, though I suppose I can get some tips for those of you looking to up your skills in that area.
But I’m so grateful I got a chance to catch my mom in action again. She’s a professional, and it is a pleasure to watch her do her thing.

Taking Care

Normally I would have something zippy planned today, but my heart is heavy and my zip is rather zapped. A family member has been sick for a very long time, and is now in his last illness. We have known for some time that the end would come sooner than later, so it is not a surprise, but it is still a huge hurt. I dearly wish I could make it better.

Since I can’t actually improve things, instead, today I want to focus on taking care of yourself.
I know that, as a wife, mom and daughter, it is very easy for me to put myself last. Everyone else needs so much! But if you keep putting yourself last and not filling your own cup, eventually you have no more left to give. I keep having to learn this lesson over and over and over again,  especially when grieving. I like to think I am getting better at remembering this, but in the moment, a refresher always feels good.

Here’s my quick list of the best advice I found on taking care of yourself:

If you’ve found any other great self-care tips, please share in the comments. The more, the better, I say.

The Paleo View Book Tour

Oy vey – it is late in the day and we are all exhausted, but I have to share a quick post about tonight. I dragged my kids to the mall (tough life, I know) to see Sarah, The Paleo Mom, and Stacy of Paleo Parents on their “The Paleo View” book tour.

The Authors | Paleo + Life

Stacy Toth and Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo View. Bonus author featured: that’s Mickey Trescott, author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook*, standing by the wall!

Sadly, this is the best I could do for a photo between chasing the toddler and answering the grade schooler’s questions about why we were there doing “boring adult stuff.” I didn’t even get a chance to have my picture taken with the ladies, since I had to bribe placate the little girl with waaay more screen time than she normally gets so that I could listen. The teens were content to wander around the mall, in the time-honored tradition of teenagers staring at the other teenagers who were also wandering aimlessly around the mall.

On the other hand, I did manage to secure this bit of awesomeness:

Exo Bar| Paleo + Life

…which I literally caught in one hand while squatting and holding my nursing toddler with the other. Whatever athletic feats may  be accomplished in the future will pale in significance next to this one. The mic has been dropped.

But I digress. Back to the book signing.

Both Stacy and Sarah talked about their paleo journeys, and how they have both lost tremendous amounts of weight, and how — more importantly — they have also gained health along the way. I was particularly inspired by Sarah’s comment about finally figuring out that “thin” and “healthy” are two separate things. That really resonated with me; I used to conflate those two things as well.

There was a good long Q&A, during which both ladies really emphasized the importance of sleep and stress reduction in our quest for better health as well as weight loss. They also talked about going paleo with kids — a big part of why Stacy and her husband Matt chose to write Real Life Paleo* (you can see my review here), and how the 80/20 rule works for them.

Finally, I bought myself a copy of The Paleo Approach*. It was full price, which was a bit of an ouch — but I wanted to support the store hosting the event, and get my book signed. (I have read the book already; my review of it is here.). I even got to skip ahead in line, since I had the tot with me — so kind of them, considering we were out quite a bit past the little one’s bed time. I even got a hug from Sarah, which made my night complete.

In short, it was a lovely evening and I’m so glad I was able to attend. I highly recommend taking the time if they are ever in your neck of the woods. Both Stacy and Sarah were so warm and genuine, it was a real pleasure to see them in person.

* = affiliate link.

Paleo Check In: October 2014

Welcome! Check ins are a monthly series of posts meant to document my progress towards better health, a stronger body, and general awesome paleo rockstar status. Find the first one here.

Food

Oh gosh. Halloween. I chose to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, and therefore didn’t buy any candy, but my kids came home with bucketfuls. So, so much candy. I never want to see a peanut butter cup again. I’m really glad I was otherwise pretty good about sticking to a nutrient-dense diet this month.

This month’s recipes:
Herb Infused Oils
Stewed Apples and Cabbage, from the Kitchen Ecosystem
Lime & Rosemary Roasted Broccoli
Cauliflower Leek Soup
Figgy Pudding, American Style
Paleo Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Super Simple Paleo Salmon Salad (guest post for Haute Mealz)
Delicata Squash Za’atar
Lengua En Mojo Criollo (Beef Tongue in Creole Marinade)

Body

I have largely met my goals for exercise this month, so am feeling very positive about that. While I don’t think I’ll ever love it, I do realize the necessity to “move it or lose it.” It’s a bonus that our walks have been really beautiful: watching the trees change color has been wonderful. I have always thought that Oregon is the prettiest place in the world, and watching our foggy, misty, verdant hills burst into glorious yellows, oranges and reds, like so many firecrackers, confirms it.

One big problem of late has been carrying my (very heavy) little one. When we pick up his sister, we take public transit for the trip and carrying him in the Ergo for two hours has been murder on my back. I’m really grateful that he is learning to walk and therefore needs less time in the carrier.

I mentioned last time that I was thinking of getting back into making water kefir to boost my probiotic consumption (and save some cash; buying those drinks adds up). I have purchased the supplies, I have not activated them yet. That’ll be a project for this month.

Mind

I have been really, really stubborn about the sleep piece lately. It was as if I set myself this goal, and immediately began to sabotage it, regularly staying up much later than I had otherwise. What in the world is that about?

I’m guessing its about feeling stressed. As the baby becomes a toddler, his sleep becomes far more restless, and he is often cranky and clingier than ever. It feels like I have less time to myself, so I push my bedtime back in order to have some time of the day where I am not responsible to someone else. I am not sure how exactly to balance that, but I will work on it.

Goals

I’m going to repeat my goals from last month — the push ups have gotten a little easier, so I am going to try for some variety by adding whole body push ups in there. Not going to pick a number, just going to see how I do.

1. Stick with the walking as I can, and with the half push ups; aim for 8 reps twice a week.
2. Meditation: 10 minutes, twice a week.
3. Make sleep a priority — get to bed before midnight every night this month.

What are your goals for the next month? Do share in the comments.

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