Day 2 – 21 day challenge

Today was a great “day 2” of the 21 day challenge I decided to give a go yesterday. I really wanted my sugar free hazelnut coffee creamer this morning but knew it wasn’t worth putting those artificial sweeteners into my body today. I had great breakfast, snacks, lunch and here is my pretty dinner.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I leave straight from work and head up to the church to co-lead Zumba. A lot of times my husband and daughter use this time as special “daddy-daughter time together” and often will go out to eat. I realized when I heard about the oreo cheesecake that my daughter had at dinner tonight that I would need to go foraging since all the meat we bought still needs to be grilled.

I considered firing up the grill but decided I didn’t want to fight the skeeters. I decided I’d make myself some slides with assorted different seasonings. These will be good grab and go lunches too. When they were just about done I realized I might want something with them, I could make some frozen organic veggies from the freezer but honestly that sounded like more effort than I really wanted to make, so I foraged some more and found the bag of clementines and decided since they were so tiny I would just pretty up my dinner plate by putting them around it.

I’m feeling pretty great about my day today. Thinking I might just go to bed early in hopes of feeling inspired to jump out of bed and hit the gym in the morning before work again. I don’t know how I’ll feel about that come morning since I haven’t laid out my kiddos clothes, pre-packed her lunch, or put away all her homework in her backpack… maybe I’ll get inspired before bed and risk leaving her to manage all that on her own in the am.

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21 day Challenge… sure, why not

Goodness gracious it is beyond time to get my butt back in gear and get my life back in order. Time to stop making excuses and stop putting things off. All signs point to paleo or at least primal and it is time to start making steps in that direction. I’ve got to divorces myself from this all or nothing mentality and remember that the experts themselves allow for an 80/20 type lifestyle.

Today I got an email at work but I guess the site was to busy and it wouldn’t load, I almost let life get to busy to come back and check it out but luckily there was another post about it on my FB tonight. Mark’s Daily Apple is starting a 21 day challenge beginning today. (for some reason my link isn’t working so you may have to copy and paste )

While today wasn’t 100% anything day, it was a good day in that I didn’t make any terrible decisions, the worst things I did today were eating a blueberry special K bar, having about 5 Ritz crackers and eating the corn that was in the delicious stew my mother in law fed us tonight.

So instead of waiting for the perfect beginning, for the great thoughts for an “I’m back” kind of post… I’m just going for it… I’m counting today as day 1, imperfections and all.

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Things that make momma proud…

So yesterday morning while my husband and I were getting ready for work, our 8 year old daughter was in the kitchen making her lunch. Now this act always makes me proud, something she would do last year some mornings…. but since it’s been summer she hasn’t really been the one packing her lunch for day time care… but yesterday she knocked my socks off and put a big ole smile on my face when she announced to us she had packed her lunch. She had carrots, grapes, an apple muffin, a lunch meat roll up and some mandarin oranges all packed up and ready to go. It was really the first time I felt like she is owning our food choices….

She’s been on a modified food plan for about a year now, gluten free, dairy free, etc so she’s probably eating pretty close to paleo for a longer time than we have. Except since school ended last year we’d been letting her try gluten and peanut butter again… so she did have some re-adjustment to go through.

Everything I read in preparation for making these changes said to get everything that wasn’t paleo approved out of the house, that way your children can make their own selections because every choice they have is an approved one. Yesterday was an awesome example of exactly that. She owned her new lifestyle and probably never even realized it, but it still made momma proud.

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Hunting and Gathering

I went grocery shopping a week ago Saturday night and I just had to giggle as I looked down into my basket. I should have taken a picture or something. There was nothing but produce bags in my basket. I loaded up on so much whole, healthy, organic fruits and veggies. I think my trip was about 90% organic, only because there we a couple of things they didn’t have in organic variety… I’m realizing that the higher cost is off set by the health of myself and my family. My items included things like kale, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, celery, apples, peaches, plums, bananas. There was such a beautiful rainbow of colors coming from my basket.

During my weight loss journey over the last year and a half, I tend to have a million comparison pictures the comparison shot that kept coming to mind was one of me before… before I woke up and realized what I was doing to my health, my body, my family before. I would buy processed boxed and freezer foods. I would go for convenience items over whole natural items. Compare that basket of old to this one of new… I felt very good about the money I spent this weekend making those whole healthy choices.

Instead of spending my weekend in bed, napping my life away… I washed and prepped veggies. I soaked walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds and then dried those nuts. I plan to make my own trail mix with the nut varieties and some raisins and dried dates.

We invested in a food dehydrator that weekend so we would be able to make our own apple chips, banana chips, zucchini chips, even beef jerky. Since we are now so much more aware of what goes in to our food supply, we have determined that it is just a better choice to make these things ourselves than trying to buy them at the store.

I hope to someday learn more about canning and maybe make some home-made pickles and salsa.

We also picked up a juicer that my mom had but wasn’t using. Last monday I started my day with a kale, spinach, celery, carrot and apple juice… my husband had a celery, carrot and apple juice…. and I was able to make home made apple juice for my 8 year old daughter. It was pretty funny when she said “That doesn’t look like REAL apple juice” I realize what a blessing it is to teach her NOW what real food really does look like, since what we purchase the stores now days, doesn’t resemble REAL food very much.

I have to say that I am finally, fully embracing a healthy lifestyle. Not only am I living a healthy lifestyle but my whole family is and we all benefit from that.

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Awesome beginning to week 3

Yesterday our little one was sick so I stayed home with her. She woke up throwing up and as she was resting on the couch I kept going through the items of the B.R.A.T diet… Banana’s we had, so after a few hours I let her try a banana. When that stayed down, Rice, Toast, nope… not in our household. Applesauce, hummm… My husband had the great idea “why not try to make some” So away I went to the kitchen with an organic apple and food processor. I cut up the apple and removed the seeds and most of the core. Dropped those into the food processor, scraped down the sides, food processed some more. Hummm. It looked like chopped up apple, not quite apple sauce. Then I remembered we had some organic Apple juice in the fridge that we had purchased for our daughter prior to getting our juicer. So I added a little apple juice to the mixture and what do you know… it actually looked like apple sauce. I dished it out into a bowl and delivered it to my ailing wee-one. She gave it thumbs up, since she was deep in some cartoon at the time. (It was the only way to keep her down all day long, fill her with kid’s movies and cartoons) I was feeling super-momish as I served it up to her and she actually liked it. Pretty cool when you’re able to feed your kid a whole food item that you know exactly where it came from.

Since I was home from work yesterday I had a little more dinner prep time. I knew I was making Pork Chops but I really had no idea how I was going to make them. I have a tendency to overcook pork, leaving it tough, dry and not very tasty. I got out my Everday Paleo book and jumped to the section with Pork in it. Hooray! There was a pork chop recipe. I didn’t have all the ingredients listed but I had most of them so I figured I’d wing it with what I had. You start buy cooking apple in coconut oil until tender (Your also suppose to cook shallots but I don’t honestly know what that is exactly and I didn’t have any) Once the apples are tender but not quite cooked all the way you remove them from the pan, add another tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. You take your pork chop and rub cinnamon into both sides of the pork chop along with some sea salt. Once that’s done you sear each side of the pork chop for 2 minutes. Once that’s done you’re suppose to add ¼ cup of white wine to the pan, but if I had wine in the house I’d drink it… haha. I knew I had some red wine vinegar so I thought well… might as well give that a shot. In case it gave it to much of a vinegar taste I used a little less than ¼ cup. You add that to the pan and then put the apples back in, cover and cook 8-9 minutes (maybe longer depending on how thick your chops are).

I decided I was going to make sweet potato fries with the coconut oil left over after cooking the pork chops so I moved the pork chops to a cookie sheet and put them into the oven to stay warm while I made the rest of the meal. I cut up a sweet potato into little fries and dusted them with cinnamon and sea salt since the pork chops had the cinnamon and apples I thought it would help tie the meal together. I fried up the sweet potatoes and served the pork chops and sweat potatoes with a lovely little green salad, spinach leaves, and pickles.

Well earlier in the day I had considered making this fruit cobbler I’d seen in my Everyday Paleo book, I had mentioned it to our daughter as something we might try and do later in the afternoon, but then dinner came upon us and I just got busy and forgot about it. Well my wonderful husband said we could still make it so I ran to the store to pick up some more honey (We were out) They started cutting strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, combining almond meal, coconut oil, cinnamon, etc. I arrive home and drizzle honey over the fruit and then we all crumble the almond meal mixture over the fruit and put it in the oven for a while. When it was done we served our daughters with some coconut milk ice cream and ours with some So delicious coconut creamer. It was warm and delicious, a little like warm cereal, a little like granola, a little like cobbler. We thought about adding walnuts to it, other kinds of fruit, seems like the possibilities are endless and it was a super yummy comfort food type treat for us.

Tonight we had an awesome combination of left overs.  This weekend I had made some really delicious meat balls using grass fed beef, pork sausage, grated carrots and grated orange bell peppers.  We also had 3 small left over pork chops which I reheated in the oven with some fresh cut pineapple to keep it from drying out.  We decided to make a salad using green leaf lettuce, spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges and walnuts.  So it was a very refreshing, almost tropical meal.  Oh so yummy and a super use of left overs.  YAY!

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Our second week of Paleo eating

So a few days back I gave the Everyday Paleo book to our daughter and asked her to mark some pages of dishes she would like to try.  My husband did the same.  We’ve  been working our way through everyone’s selections.

We made one of my husband’s picks  “Rockin Moroccan chicken” last week.  It was a combination of broccoli, carrots, olives, raisins, chicken, spices.  It was the most interesting, colorful beautiful blend of flavors.  We all tried it and enjoyed it.  I honestly never would have thought to mix and combine the ingredients but it really was good.

We also tried one of my daughter’s choices for Shrimp tacos. She loves shrimp and we decided for these first attempts at the recipes we would try them as written.  We are all trying to venture out and try new veggies.  This one had onion, bell pepper, garlic, shrimp, salsa verde and chili powder.  You serve the cooked mixture in lettuce leaves with radish and lime juice.  Needless to say I had to really convince our daughter to try her choice, if we left out all the things we wouldn’t normally eat we would have had garlic chili shrimp tacos, which would be rather plain.  Once I got her to try it without looking to see what she was biting into at the time she liked it.  The whole family enjoyed this blend of flavors and finished off the whole meal since we weren’t sure how it would re-warm for left overs.

Another pick of our daughters was Apple muffins.  This was our first paleo baking attempt.  I was pretty excited about it since I had soaked and dried a lot of almonds earlier in the week, I was excited to try making my own almond meal.  She and I worked to grind up almonds and she sifted them through a sifter until we had enough almond flour to make apple muffins. She had to go to bed about the time these went into the oven, but her daddy and I tried them hot out of the oven and were pretty pleased.  She had one for breakfast the next morning and loved them too.

I think I might make them with the apple grated next time.  I’m not sure about the apple chunks but the flavor of the muffin is really good. I also thought this would be a good basis for a carrot cake type muffin, banana nut muffin, zucchini bread type muffin.  Seems like the possibilities are endless here and I look forward to trying others in the future.  We are still making our way through the 18 muffins this mixture made.  They are  definitely great grab and go, packable snacks.  These will probably be our friends come school time.

Another exciting creation for me was the almond that was left over after making almond flour, it was a little course and wasn’t able to be sifted so I took all that was left and put in back in the food processor.    I turned it on high and watched as it went around and around. I worried my poor little walmart food processor was going to burn up before the almond meal was made, now I was really worried about it, but figured might as well give it a shot.  To my surprise it actually started to look like Almond butter.  I had some olive oil so I added a little bit of that and some sea salt to the mixture and blended it more until it was a nice smooth consistency.

I have been in the habit of saving our old jars to re-use and I just happened to have one from a previous almond butter purchase. I was so excited about my creation that I relabeled it to Dawn’s Home made Raw Almond Butter.  My husband tried it and likes it.  My daughter tried it and loves it.  She has decided that I should make it and then she and her daddy can sell it.  She is sure we would be rich from my home-made almond butter.

I just feel like a wonder woman when I get to make these things myself, making the almond flour and making the almond butter.  I mean what can be better than giving your family whole natural foods that YOU made?  I have no doubt about what is in them, no weird ingredients I cannot pronounce.  No need to go google search a word to find out if its some form of MSG and going to make me sick.  I know without a doubt what I’m putting in my mouth and the mouth of my family.  I feel like the best mom ever when I can hand my daughter a snack and know that it is truly healthy for her.

I am so excited by these changes.  I know that it takes more time, it takes more planning.  I know that there are times I just want to grab some quick and easy no brainer, junk.  But when we make these amazing creations, I am just so proud of what our family is doing together to better our lives!

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Social pressures…

So there is a very real part of this process that I think everyone needs to prepare themselves for… I thought I was ready but last night proved I was not. Last night was a wonderful celebration for our family, we went to dinner with pride in our hearts and happiness on our faces. We invited the whole extended family (9 of us) and headed off to Outback steakhouse. I had consulted my dear sweet friend and the online menu (who knew they had a gluten free menu?? too cool) and felt prepared as I stepped into the restaurant. I knew I was going to be very specific about my order, I knew some of the other people at the table might comment, but I was armed, I was ready, I was determined to have a dining out experience without blowing day 3 of our 30 day challenge.

Now our daughter hasn’t really had any problem with this lifestyle change (that I knew of), we send her with a lunch kit FULL of options so that she can never claim that she’s going without. Our usual lunch this week has been lunch meat wraps, we found alot of nitrate free, uncured, etc type options and have enjoyed the portable options of layering them up with some lettuce in the middle… we have enjoyed them so much that come day 3 we were out of several of our meat options (See previous post about still trying to learn how much to buy… 1/4 lbs is not enough for 3 people.. lol) so yesterday I had to make her a salad, she loves spinach leaves so I put some in a tupperware with some of the boars head natural smoked turkey crumbled on top, I was afraid that wouldn’t be enough so we also had some Carving board rotisserie chicken so I crumbled some of that in too (even though this isn’t something we would buy again, too many additives) … So she was set and we were off… Never heard anything else about it. Apparently she didn’t like it and filled their ears full of complaints.

Her favorite thing at outback is their garlic mashed taters. Since I’m still new to this lifestyle and so far everything I’ve read says no white taters (conflicting info on sweet taters, still eating this occasionally) I told her no she couldn’t have the garlic mashed taters, besides I’m sure they put milk in them too. She love broccoli and I told her she could have that which of course lead to a head down on the table, pout fit. Since we were there to celebrate and I wasn’t going to have her pout up the evening, I took her out front and had a talk with her. It was one of those mom moments which you have to exercise patience… by the end of it I had her repeating “It’s silly to cry over mashed potatoes!” We had recovered and headed back to dinner with the family. Now something must have happened while we were outside, I still haven’t really heard the whole story yet, but the bottom line is that feeding our daughter whole, healthy foods, apparently means to outsiders that we are starving her, she is suffering, it’s not fair, etc.

We stopped by the grocery store to buy a few more items and I stayed up in the kitchen until 10pm making dozens of wraps, some more muffin meat loaves, pre-cooking some chicken tenderloins, washing and ziplocking grapes, cutting up pineapple (our daughters favorite fruit), etc. I was determined that no one was ever going to think she was doing without again! As I stood at the sink washing dishes from the evenings events… I began to cry, the voice of doubt crept into my head, I felt like it was my fault that my family was dealing with social pressures, I had researched this lifestyle, if it wasn’t for me then they could go on eating things that seemed somewhat normal, we ate pretty healthy before. I had an over the top thought of sending her with twinkies and ding dongs… I mean apparently crap food is normal food so why not just let her have her fill, there were lot so really negative thoughts running around in my head. And this is why I want to share this part of the process… so that others can be more prepared for what pressures they might feel.

Fortunately I have faith, so I prayed. I know that I am doing the right thing for my family. I know that I did not pressure them into this lifestyle. I know that we will all be happier and healthier because of these lifestyle changes. I know that we can get through this.

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