Healthy Eating: Cooking Ahead Experiment – Primal Style

After reading many blogs with recipes for casseroles/meals for planning and freezing them ahead, I decided to try and plan meals that would be a little bit more primal (meat/vegetable) friendly.  This was just an attempt, and I’ll add my notes on which ones worked and not really worked!

Overall, we had about 8 “meals” ready to freeze.  Keep in mind, it is for 2 adults, and we will eat leftovers for lunch and dinner (so these meals will stretch, for us).  Also, we used some of the crockpot chicken right away (for salads and lunch).

Nom Nom Paleo Broccoli & Bacon

(This looks delicious – we’ll use it as a side and for lunches)

Twice Baked Cauliflower

(Yum! We’ve already eaten this for dinner and lunch.  Even our 11 mo. old gobbled it down.  A keeper of a recipe! Freezing note: Would def. be better fresh, not sure I would exactly recommend freezing it – ours got a bit watery)

“Green” Enchiladas

(Pictured below from Sweet Cheeks blog.  We used to cabbage to wrap it, and it was, well, too cabbagey.  The inner “enchiladas” was delicious and would def. make it again.  The “green” wraps? I’d probably brainstorm some other ways to wrap w/out corn tortillas)

 

Primal Palate’s Crockpot Chicken

(Pictured above.  SO Easy and SO delicious.  7 Hours in the crockpot.  No fuss.  We shredded it and had tons of yummy chicken.  Will be doing this on a bi-weekly basis, for sure. )

Primal Palate’s Egg Muffins

(On this list to make for rushed mornings.  Sometimes boiled eggs can get old!)

Shredded pork

(I roasted one massive 5lb pork loin and used half for pork chops (below).  The rest of it, I chopped, added BBQ sauce, and froze it.  We actually liked it warmed over salad w/avocado).

Pork Chops & Roasted Butternut squash

(Froze these together and will add cranberries and maybe gravy when serving them)

Pepperoni “Chicken”

(This was a complied recipe from others.  I layered turkey cutlets with tomato sauce, pepperonis and cheese.  Looks like it will be the most freezer friendly meal!)

There you have it! Thus far, it really helped our tired evening meals become healthier instead of reaching for delivery pizza or fast food.

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Merry Christmas

Wishing you warm thoughts from Florida for a safe, healthy Merry Christmas!

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Red Velvet

Red Velvet cake is a Southern classic.  Although, in researching its origins, the red velvet cake seems to have its first appearance from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.   A brief history here on Leite’s Culinaria. The red coloring comes from a process of vinegar and cocoa powder.  Steel Magnolias, a Southern cult classic film, also made red velvet cake famous during the “armadillo cake scene.”

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Christmas: Holidays, Expectations, Reality

(Also titled: Why I Now Drink Venti Sized  or Emerging from a Fog)

So, we now refer to this holiday season as BF 2011 (Bodily Fluid 2011).  Sweet, right? The past few weeks in our house have been plague ridden with respiratory infections, stomach flu, anti-biotic, and just general ick.  I had planned several posts about this fall.  Then, somehow Halloween turned into Thanksgiving which is now Christmas.  Time is sliding by us.  I refuse to say good riddance to 2011 because that is the year we had our baby boy.  However.  This year has tested us, humbled us, and blessed us.

I used to look down upon those who ordered Venti at Starbucks.  How could someone seriously need all that caffeine? I thought, self-righteously. But now I am one of those with the extra large cup – no decaf – full caf for daily fuel.  Many days this fall just felt like foggy day hours when I could only think to get to my next coffee break.  On pure “function” mode was how we operated for a few months there.  Getting hit with colds and ear infections ruined E man’s sleep, so he often was up in the middle of the night or we were all crashed in bed attempting to get him back to sleep.   We had many great days, but many long nights and even longer days, as a result.

Work. Teaching all day as well as an hour commute each way had its effect on my health.  I’m not proud to admit that I had more than my share of fast food for dinner and lunch, usually on the run.  Workouts fell by the wayside as we attempting to keep our house functioning and rested.  It also had an effect, emotionally.  The perpetual working mom guilt made for some unhappy mornings and serious contemplation of life choices.  (Note: separate post coming on the whole working mom thing.  Luckily – ever so gratefully – I was able to have a full time job with a TON of time flexibility and only had to be gone from my little man 3 full days a week.  Still, it wasn’t easy.) So, as I was operating on Zomombie mode (ha!), my immune system was down.  One bout of food poisoning, one round o pharyngitis, several trips to Urgent Care, one stomach flu, and one trip to the ER led us down a very exhausting path. It’s hard to see your baby sick, and even harder to be sick yourself and try to take care of your baby, too.

Where is this all going? As we emerged on the other side, I kept a diligent eye on ChristmasbreakChristmasbreakalmostalmost.  I had great plans of decorating a sparkling clean home.  Enjoying time to myself and making homemade hot chocolate.  Instead, we careened into break, barely able to eat Saltines and get gross laundry in the washer.

Plans: Why I make them still and subconsciously think I can still be in control?  A question for the ages.  I do this every year with Christmas.  I want it to be just perfect.  I had imagined our family visiting Santa, watching Christmas movies, enjoying the fresh smell of a Christmas tree while eating yummy treats.  Some of that may happen; some of it may not happen. I’m fine with that.

Other family members change plans.  We live too far away for some family to visit.  Florida is warm, not cold and cozy.   Slowly (and I mean molasses slow), I’m learning that it is just about our family time and appreciating our simple, yet essential blessings.  To be healthy (and I mean truly healthy – sure, a cold here or there is healthy), with friends and family is all you can be hopeful for.  I will attempt to set aside the plans, the expectations, and surely, the disappointments to enjoy the time. Reality is no tree, but a happy crawling baby.  Reality is frozen dinners, crawling into bed, used cars, and a full, happy life.  Cue the sappy Christmas music song, here.

Plus, who can’t be happy looking at this little munchkin face?!

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Heck Week

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you feel like everything is being tested and pushed to the limits? Like heck week for athletes, we had one of those weeks.  Our little man has been teething, and we discovered an ear infection last week, along with chest congestion.  I just kept looking at our pediatrician and waiting for him to be amazed by how many sicknesses were hitting our little guy.  First child rookie move – teething, congestion, whining is all normal.  NORMAL.

So, these packaged (yes, probably overpriced) wipes are on every coffee table:
Then, because of the anti-biotics E-man is taking, he got a staph infection from a reaction to them.  As if he didn’t have enough, now he has a rash/infection behind his ear – yes, the infected ear! (Teething = lots of drool = lots of congestion in the lungs = bad cough + ear infection = staph infection = more med = Poor baby!)

Luckily, we got the little guy medicated and thought we were in the clear.  NOTE: To any parents, don’t ever think you’re in the CLEAR about anything.  Once it’s smooth sailing, something will disrupt.

Mama possible ingests old guacamole and/or ground beef and gets food poisoning.  Suffice it to say, that is 24 hours I would never, ever wish on my worst enemy.  Not as bad as child labor, but, um, it is up there on horrible pain list.

Thankfully, we had a lot of this hanging out and I’ve been consuming a lot of it.  Also, thankfully, we have a dad/husband who can swing around CVS, ped office, and shuttle me to the doctor during the day.

House? Dirty.  Laundry? Being cleaned.  Being on the mend? Hoping so! Here’s looking towards a week of not being sick, not canceling classes, and a happier baby.

Life defined by children; it is always changing. Symbolic of this is my “Day in the Life” post I’ve been attempting to write since E was 4 months old.  Life is moving, rushing, changing, and pacing so fast.  I want to write it down and by the time I do, it has changed.  I’m an impatient person, by huge default.  I don’t like to be sick – I want to know when I’ll be better.  Can’t stand for my child to be sick – when will these antibiotics work?? I’ve probably put my face in the sand more than I should’ve the past few months of our baby’s life.  Sleepless nights, crying, an exhausted family of three, work/jobs, and time to workout (hahahah, joke  – never!)? It’s no wonder that my impatience lets me put blinders on to the “next week”, “next phase” that will surely be easier. Surely!

However, sick days at home are good reminder of the body saying, “Slow down.”  Snuggle on the couch.  Life probably won’t get easier, but it does get sweeter.  So, amidst this Heck Week in our house,  I’m looking around and thanking our blessings.

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Weekend Miscellaneous

A sick weekend means that our house spent more time indoors, than out! However, we did do some deep cleaning as well as napping and soup eating.  Thus, a general lack of exciting plans leads me to some link love this weekend!

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Health and Lifestyle: Eating a Paleo Diet

Paleo, Primal, Ancestoral, Caveman: A way of eating and thinking about food

Is this a trend? Perhaps. For me, it will and already is a lifestyle change.  It is very hard, but yet, very easy after seeing and feeling how great I feel.

Disclaimer: I am not, and will probably, never be PERFECT.  However, I believe the science and arguments behind what I’ve read.  For the most part, Paleo “experts” will tell you to follow the 80/20 rule (80 percent on track, 20 percent “off”).  While I do believe in this way of eating and living, do understand that I am still a work in progress. This is my journey to feeling healthy and getting into great shape!

My history with eating Paleo (in our house we call it “cavemen”):  Spring of 2010, my husband ran across The Primal Blueprint via Mark’s Daily Apple (the original blog place for swapping ideas and recipes) after getting into Crossfit work out regime (most people who do Crossfit recommend this type of eating style).

He researched and proposed we try it out.  My first reaction, “I am not giving up (FILL IN THE BLANK)!”  What’s a life without pasta, french bread, dessert, milkshakes, you name it – I was not going to give it up.  Until I did.  (Now, did I eat 100% perfect all the time.  No, we still had pizza on the weekends, random sandwiches here and there, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

Slowly we migrated to a more Caveman diet, rather than Conventional Wisdom (Conventional Wisdom = Traditional low-fat, high fiber and grain diets. Think food pyramid).

We cut out processed carbohydrates (cereal, bagels, oatmeal) from our breakfast and moved to eggs, bacon, and fruit w/yogurt (rookie mistake, more on this later).  Lunch moved from sandwiches to salads with whatever protein we had (leftovers, tuna salad, etc.)  Dinner was more of the same; although, many times, we made stir fry type dinners with veggies and meat.

I’ll call this our phase one: we really worked hard to cut out that processed carbs from our Everyday diet.  We still relied heavily on organic yogurt, fruit, nuts, and nut butters.  Also, I still drank red wine, had chunks of dark chocolate, and ate “out” on weekends.  This phase was hard though.  Why? Because I love cereal – LOVE IT.  My go to snack and breakfast.  My husband loves sandwiches.  Also, learning how to prep fresh food was challenging. However, we made a huge amount of progress this phase (I’d say it was probably over 6 months).

But it worked! It really worked.  We als0 integrated vitamins and fish oil supplements in our diet, as many primal experts recommend.  Energy went through the roof! (At this time, we were also working out about 5 days a week, Crossfitting).  Granted, at that time, we also lived in an adorable house, loved where we lived, and worked quasi part time (husband was job hunting, I had odd hours and wasn’t full time).  Life was stressful, financially, but we were in a great place physically and mentally.

Main areas to avoid:

Dairy

Wheat/Grains

Sugar/Fructose

Legumes

Summer of 2010: We uprooted to Florida, both got new jobs, and I got pregnant.  As you can imagine, the healthy regime we had worked so hard to create got pushed aside.  Generally, we kept with our protein, veggie, fruit, and low processed carb diets.  Time for working out got pushed out.  My first tri-mester nausea and exhaustion meant I slept a lot and ate lots of saltines! Then, we had our sweet boy and learned the meaning of parenthood.  Parenthood = Survival on no sleep, no food in fridge, and whatever we could do to get through the week.

Image via Mark's Daily Apple

By the way, I think all primal experts and enthusiasts should remember that Cavemen had lots of time to catch up on sleep when they added new little ones! Ha. Seriously though, it took us about a 5 months to get back to a schedule where we were actually getting sleep and could think coherently.   As we attempt to focus more on our food choices and working out, it has become even more important because we have this little person for whom we want to give the most healthy life.

Our eating style now? We are in a new phase.  Taking what we know, with a much more jam packed schedule (less time to workout and eat healthy).  It is Challenging.   If I were to be totally honest, I would say we are about 60/40.  Many late nights and early mornings inhibit the choices we could and should be making.  However, living in Florida makes produce choices easy and great (straight from farmers).  We aren’t in the budget world to afford grass fed beef every week, but we stick with reasonable, organic meat choice.

As we get better about our eating choices, I will post regularly about what and how we do.  This is our journey and I hope that in documenting it, it will help us become better! My favorite quote I’ve heard lately and is now my mantra:

PAY THE FARMER, NOT THE DOCTOR

Fabulous recipes websites, with articles thrown in:

Robb Wolf

The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate

Nom Nom Paleo

Everyday Paleo

Excellent article links (These links answer a few, but not all, questions about Primal/Paleo):

http://www.health-bent.com/blog/scarlet-letter/comment-page-1#comment-11179

http://www.health-bent.com/blog/treat-yourself-right

http://everydaypaleo.com/2011/07/27/why-isnt-this-working/#more-2723

http://everydaypaleo.com/2011/06/22/attention-scale-addicts-part-2/comment-page-2/#comment-12663

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