Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paleo Challenge - Day 30 - Report and Celebrate

Today is Day 30 of my Paleo diet challenge! How am I looking, feeling and performing?

Officially, I've lost 4 lbs as of last Tuesday (though I expect that number to have gone up since yesterday). I'm going to man up and make my husband take bikini pictures of me tonight, so I have something to compare to how I looked a month ago. I have had a few people comment that I'm looking healthier, or that something looks different about me, so I'm hoping to see good things in the pictures. I haven't really seen a marked difference in the mirror from day to day.

Verdict is still out on how I'm feeling. Some days are good, some are not so good. Not worse than usual, but I was expecting to have my GI issues clear up a bit more. However, I have been eating more red meat, bacon, butter and kale, all of which I have wondered about in the past. Now may be the time to start experimenting with which of those may be triggering my discomfort.

I have definitely been performing better. Yestereday was a testament to that! We did our annual trek up Mt Timpanogos. It was a blast! Finished in 12 hours exactly (w/ a lot of breaks in there). Pics and food log coming soon!

The best part of the day was that I felt like I owned that hike! We've done this hike several years in a row now, and every time, it's kicked my trash! This year, it was still hard, but at the end of the day, I wasn't dead. Which is insane, because last year, I had been working out and hiking quite frequently to prepare myself for this hike. And I did BETTER this year. The only thing I can think of to attribute it to is MY DIET! Paleo living helped me perform better than I ever have!

I also didn't eat as much as I was expecting to on the hike. I consumed about 1500 calories before and during the hike. I couldn't even finish my BLTA sandwich at the top of the mountain!

Then we got home, and after freshening up, headed to dinner. I didn't *feel* overly hungry, considering I'd just burned about 4000 calories! I did end up eating about another 1000 calories, but my deficiency was huge!

Overall this past month, I've been hitting about 1500 calories daily, and have been averaging around 20% carbs, 25% protein, and 55% fat. I'm feeling really good about it. The past 30 days have been quite an adventure, but so awesome!

So ready to jump into month number two!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Paleo update and this week's favorite links

No recipe post tonight, just saying hi, and spreading the blogworld love. I will, however, share what I ate for dinner, because it rocked!

Scrumptious Slow Cooker Chicken...and indeed it was! I followed the recipe as posted by Sarah, only I subbed 2 large chicken breasts for the thighs. Oh, and olive oil for the coconut. It was amazing! And my husband liked it too! I picked the onions out of his, of course ;) Next time, I am adding TWICE as many carrots and parsnips though. I seriously felt like I was cheating and eating real potatoes. An awesome dinner to come home to after a long day at work. Ate it w/ some salad fixin's fresh from my garden. Yum!

If you want to know details on what I've been up to over the past week as far as my 30 day paleo challenge goes, head over to Wellness Mama's forum, where I've started a wellness journal. I'm posting my food log, thoughts, plans, workouts, etc. I'm having loads of fun exploring her site, and am excited about some great giveaways too!

You can't fix a body you hate: This is the post I wish I could send to my past self (anytime 2-6 years ago), and to all my beautiful friends who don't feel comfortable in their own skin. Thanks Sarah and Jason for sharing it! It makes me appreciate who I am today even more, flaws and all! Thanks also to my amazing, supportive husband who has always praised my body, even when I felt I was at my worst. Jason has some great points to make. I'm excited to read more from him on his blog, plus he's already super cool in my book, being a fellow Oregonian (can I still count myself as one, even though the last third of my life has been lived in Utah?). Anyway, read the post!

Need more motivation to go paleo/grain-free/eat bacon? Primal Toad's got you covered with his 11 tips to living an awesome life. It really is an awesome way to live your life. I agree wholeheartedly with this post, but my favorite tips would have to be #2 and #9 ;)

Speaking of the good life, the hubby and I are taking the day off tomorrow for some R&R. He's taking the GMAT on Saturday, and we're using tomorrow to charge the batteries. I'm so excited! Massages, movies, lunch, and hopefully some time in the sun. I'm even more excited to have the whole thing behind us, and finally see my husband again (I feel like it's been months!!). Maybe we'll even get to go on a hike together before the summer is over!

Me and Grok on top of the world.

It's taken me almost a year, but I'm finally living this paleo/primal life...
and I LOVE IT!

Week three has been a tough one, in ways other than the diet mostly, but I have had some discouraging days where I'm unprepared to eat. I've found that I'm eating more at the beginning of the day, and not as hungry in the evenings, which helps. I've made some incredible food, which I'm so excited to share (at a later date). Well, it's almost 9:00...which means bedtime (for two more nights)!


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Banana "Ice Cream" Variations

Remember this post? I don't know whether to thank or curse my friend for turning me onto 1-ingredient ice cream! It has been a serendipitous, healthy treat to have on hand as I've transitioned onto the paleo diet.

I have been playing with this dessert over the past couple of weeks, and have come up with some great variations.

This one has been my favorite so far.

Chocolate Cherry Banana "Ice Cream"
(Cherries Garcia, anyone?)

1 1/2 frozen banana pieces
1 tbsp cocoa powder
A handful of cherries, halved and pits removed
1-2 squares dark chocolate, grated/chopped

Put the banana pieces in blender or food processor. Blend until the banana becomes thick, like ice cream. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add cocoa powder, and continue blending.
Add cherries and chocolate, and pulse a few times to blend, and chop the cherries.
Scoop into a bowl. Either enjoy right away, or put in the freezer to firm up for a bit.

One of these days, I will take the time to use my food processor to make this recipe, which I think will make this look more ice-creamy.

Avocado Goodness "Recipe"

I mentioned this fantastic recipe in this post, and figured I'd share my favorite way to enjoy it. It's so easy, it really doesn't even need a recipe!

Sarah at Everyday Paleo created this little delight and I love her for it! It makes a great post workout snack or a fantastic side to most dishes where you want to add some delicious fat.

Avocado Goodness
Recipe adapted from Sarah at Everyday Paleo

1 avocado, halved, w/ pit removed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch each garlic powder and salt
A sprinkle black pepper

Arrange your avocado halves on a plate. Either whisk together the remaining ingredients and drizzle over the avocado, or just pour on top of the avocado, and enjoy.

Paleo Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado "Sandwich" - 2 ways

Ok, it's recipe time!

I have always been a fan of the BLTA/turkey club sandwich combo, so I had to try both of the paleo recipes I came across. I couldn't decide which variation of my paleo club sandwich I liked better, so I will share both with you!

First up, we have the Portobello Sandwich. This sandwich was inspired by Sarah @ Everyday Paleo's Chicken Sandwich (doesn't that look delicious?!).

Paleo Turkey BLTA Sandwich #1

2 portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
A few slices quality turkey lunch meat
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
A handful spinach or lettuce
Half a tomato, thinly sliced
2-3 pieces bacon, cooked
1 tbsp mayo (I know there are some paleo recipes out there, but I haven't delved that deeply into the lifestyle yet. Still using up the ol' Best Foods)

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet, and add mushrooms, cap side up. Cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook 5 minutes more. The tops will turn a golden brownish color. Remove from pan.
My mushrooms decided to sweat, and so I put them on a plate w/ paper towels to soak up the excess liquid for a couple minutes.
Spread the mayo on underside of the mushrooms. Pile the remaining ingredients on top of one of the mushrooms, then top w/ the other.
Enjoy, and try not to freak out!

The next variation of my sandwich comes from Mark Sisson's cookbook, Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals. This was the first recipe I bookmarked when flipping through the book. Great foresight!

Paleo Chicken BLTA Sandwich #2

1 chicken breast (1/4-1/3 of the top cut off)
1 tbsp mayo
2 slices bacon, cooked
A handful of arugula or spinach
Half a tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Butterfly the chicken breast (cut lengthwise through it so it can be opened up like a book).
Heat a little butter in a pan, and cook the chicken, opened up, for 4-6 minutes, or until browned. Flip chicken over and cook, covered, for an additional 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness). Don't overcook the chicken, or it will be dry!
Remove from pan, and spread the mayo on the inside. Add the rest of the ingredients, and "close" the chicken breast. Dig in, and revel!

Notes: The original recipe called for a whole chicken breast, but I had a larger-sized piece of meat, so I decided to trim it a bit. I probably cut of about 1/4 of the breast, and may even take off more next time. Keep an eye on your cooking times if reducing the meat.
This one was pretty messy, and the hinge broke, so everything slid out a few times. No biggie. It was good and messy fun!
The cookbook suggests eating either warm or cold. I have only had this warm, but I bet it would make an amazing lunch and plan on trying it cold soon!
This sandwich was much more filling, thanks to the massive amounts of protein, I'm sure. I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the day (5-6 hours).


I ended up with less than half of an avocado leftover w/ both of these recipes, not really enough to save. So I made some Avocado Goodness to go along with each sandwich. I would highly suggest you do the same. You won't regret it!!


Also, if for some reason you need any encouragement to enjoy either of these sandwiches, head over to Primal Toad's blog for 5 Reasons Why Loving Bacon May Be The Healthiest Thing In The World ;) Then you can enjoy your bacon without feeling guilty!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Paleo Diet Update

Today is lucky #13 (days paleo)! The past two weeks have been rather interesting. I've had a few slip-ups here and there. I've had a couple of unprepared meals of whatever I could scrounge up last minute. I've had a slew of other things occupying my time and energy (family drama, health/medical drama, work stress, husband-about-to-take-a-very-important-test-next-week drama). But overall, I feel like I've done really well!

My withdrawals seem to have been pretty minimal, probably due to my already low-sugar, gluten-free diet (and my toying w/ grain-free eating over the last few months). I had a couple days of irritability/headaches, a couple of days where I could not get enough food in my body (!!), and a couple of days with constant sugar cravings.

A few people have asked me about what I'm eating, so I thought I'd share links to some of the recipes that I've relied on. When I have a little more time to breathe, I will post a recipe or two of my own as well!

Sweet potato chowder from Chrissy at Growing Up Paleo - The only changes I made were subbing almond milk for the coconut milk (I also added a couple drops of coconut extract, since I can't tolerate the real thing but wanted the flavor), 1 tbsp onion powder instead of an onion, and after the first couple bowls eaten, I opted to puree the soup completely (kept getting jalapeno chunks! Love the flavor of the pepper, but not a big ol' mouthful!). This soup was great for my lunches, very tasty and filling. Will definitely make again!

Avocado goodness. The name describes it all. Literally, when I tried my first bite of this recipe, the words that came out of my mouth were "Oh my goodness!" I'm HOOKED! Thankfully my local HFS had a sale on avocados 2 weeks ago (I bought 15), so I've been enjoying my avocados to the fullest (almost out already!). This is a great snack, side dish, or even just a way to use up a leftover avocado half. Praises to Sarah over at Everyday Paleo for this delight (and many other great dishes)!

Smoked Paprika Chicken - Check out Bill and Hayley's awesome blog, which has so many fantastic recipes that I am excited to try! Made this one for dinner the other night, and I loved the way this spiced up my ordinary chicken dinner! I used breast meat, and threw it in my foreman grill, rather than baking. Also, this cute couple has a cookbook coming out soon! I can't wait to get my hands on it!!

I totally dig this salmon, lemon, cucumber and avocado salad. I'm a huge fan of smoked salmon, and this dish hit the spot! Thanks Jessi!

Of course, my first favorite "primal" recipe, Grok-Amole has been added to the rotation, as have numerous recipes from Mark's cookbook Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals.

I've been enjoying simple foods as best I can. Kale salads, fresh veggies from my garden (TONS of zucchini!), and lots of easy snacks: carrots, celery dipped in almond butter, berries, banana "ice cream" (need to post my variations on this sweet treat stat!), and a square of dark chocolate here and there. I have tried to limit my fruit to 1-2 servings a day, to try and reprogram my insulin sensitivity, but I haven't been over-stressing it either.

More to come, I'm sure. This experience has been eye-opening, as I've become more aware of what I'm feeding my body, and appreciating it. I'm hoping to start seeing changes soon, and may even post my before/after pictures someday if I'm brave enough ;)

P.S. If you need some UPlifting thoughts, head back over to Sarah's website for this great motivating post. It's always nice to have a reminder to appreciate this awesome life to the fullest.

Speaking of living life, you made it to the bottom of this wordy post, so the least I can do is throw in a picture of me doing so ;)

I know, it's not exactly food-related (other than the paleo-fueled girl on the left)...

This is me, my husband, and my BFF at the top of Provo Peak on Saturday. The BFF told me last week that she is going to start trying to eat a more paleo lifestyle too! Yay! It's spreading :D