The Comfort of Home

Well, I’m back.  I can’t say, “and better than ever.”  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, or actually a crazy month, here in the Longoria household.  We returned from a monster road trip to AZ on January 2nd, finally got all settled in and reacclimated, only to head back out to AZ on January 11th.  We got a call on the 9th that Tim’s mom passed away unexpectedly, so we went down for a week to be with Tim’s brothers and their families and to help with all the arrangements.  We flew back home on the 17th.  We spent the weekend unpacking, cleaning up, spending time with my parents, and getting prepared for really going back to work.

The first week back to “normal” was anything but relaxing.  I caught up on the 3 programming classes I missed whilst in AZ, only to discover that I was in WAY over my head.  The first homework assignment almost had me in tears.  I’m not usually super emotional, but a week away from home handling stressful business had worn away my protective layer.  So I ended up dropping the class, which was hard on my ego and pocketbook, but relieving to my shoulders and mental state.  I also discovered I completed my benefits form incorrectly, so I have to spend $1500 on vision and dental in 2014.  I think I’m going to get all 4 front teeth capped with gold.  Or maybe I’ll get lasik.  Who knows??  Anyway, it was a stressful week.

But today starts a new week, and I have faith it’s going to be a good week.  It culminates in my birthday, so how could it be bad??  I’m trying to figure out what to do for my birthday.  I get a day off for it, and I’m trying to decide if I want to spend it with people or spend it just doing whatever the heck I want to do for a whole day.  The latter would probably mean watching Pride & Prejudice for the 33rd time, eating a pan of paleo cupcakes, and trying to resist the urge to get my nails shellaced and my hair dyed red.  I’m *trying* to be more fiscally responsible.  I guess I have 4 days to figure it all out.

In the vein of getting back to normal, we did a lot of grocery shopping this weekend, so we are fully stocked with healthy food.  The past month has been hell on my digestion (and energy), so I’m looking forward to getting back on track.

I tried a new recipe yesterday – Beef Stew.  I tried this recipe.  Wow.  That really says it all.  This turned out SO fantastic.  I followed the recipe except for I subbed a large sweet potato for the turnips, I used dried thyme instead of fresh, and I used button mushrooms instead of cremini.  Nom Nom wasn’t lying when she said this recipe is a lot of work. I swear I was chopping and sauteeing for 2 hours yesterday!  But the result was fabulous.  The sweet potatoes disappeared into the sauce, making it sweet, and the meat was ever so tender.  This recipe is  definitely a keeper.

It being winter, and me missing the AZ sun and all, led me to crave pancakes today. I have yet to find a paleo pancake recipe that I love, so I searched around and found this one.  The flavor was excellent!  Like all paleo pancakes, I struggled with getting the inside cooked while not burning the outside.  I powered through though, and we ended up with edible, tasty cakes.  I might experiment with baking them next time.  I just get so pissed when they won’t flip.  Dammit.

I tried a couple of new recipes last week too but didn’t get around to writing about them.

Crispy Coconut Kale:  I absolutely love coconut milk.  I love to put it in my coffee, but often I will open a can to use in coffee and not use most of it before it congeals and goes bad. This time I was smart and found a couple of recipes that use coconut milk before I cracked the can open.  This recipe turned out amazingly delicious.  I will definitely make this again.  I used the rest of the coconut milk in these cupcakes, which Tim and I ate up in 2 days.  That’s why I REALLY want a paleo bakery in Dport.  I want to spend $3.00 to get ONE cupcake instead of spending $3.00 to make 12 paleo cupcakes and then eating them all.  I can’t be the only one.  If no one else is going to do this, I’m going to have to quit my job and launch HloDeCello’s Paleo Bakery!  So help me!

Silky-Smooth Chicken Liver Pate:  Hmm.  I do like the taste of liver.  I do.  But pates just go so much better with something crunchy.  I tried to eat this with carrots, and it just wasn’t that fantastic.  I made almost 2 pounds of it, so I need to figure out a good way to eat it.  Tim had the brilliant idea of making hardboiled eggs and mixing the pate with the yolks for the centers.  I may just try that.  This pate had a whole stick of grassfed butter in it, so I  HAVE to use it.  Plus it created a ton of disgusting dishes that Tim bravely washed for me.  Oxidized chicken liver is pretty hideous.

This week I kind of lazed out and didn’t plan any meals.  I did make a list of all the food in the fridge and freezer, however, so at least we can quickly plan a meal with a quick glance. I see lots of sauteed veggies and scrambles in our future.  But that’s alright.  I’m just so glad to be home and eating our own food again.  I’m sick of eating out.  At least for awhile.

I hope your 2014 is off to a better start than ours!  Take care, and I’ll write again soon.

Primal Challenge – Day 4

Here are the detes for Day 4.

  • Did 10 pushups, 3 pullups, did the stairs at work 3 times, and JOINED THE GYM!  If I wasn’t such a pussy I would go to the pool tomorrow morning and start swimming.  BUT the pool has a freaking glass wall so that everyone in the lobby can see you.  Also, I’ve never been there before, so what if I do something embarrassing because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and everyone sees me?  Mortification!  Tim and I will go on Saturday and scope it out together.  Plus it’s supposed to be icy tonight.  I’m sure the roads will be too bad to go to the gym in the morning.  Ya, that’s right.  That’s the ticket.
  • Breakfast
    • 2 cups of coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil.
    • Homemade chorizo and a whole avocado.
  • Lunch
    • I met friends for lunch today, so I am better socialized but poorer by $13.  I had an unbreaded pork tenderloin and a side salad with oil and vinegar.  I find when I eat out that it’s hard for me to get full, and my budget suffers immensely.  However, meeting friends, keeping up relationships, etc. is supposed to be really good for your happiness and health.  Quandary.
  • Supper
    • Since we signed up at the Y tonight, we didn’t really have time to cook at home. Instead we picked up Chipotle.  I got a salad with barbacoa, veggies, mild and medium salsa, and guacamole.  It’s all good ingredients, but for some reason it always bloats my stomach.  I wonder why.  Do they cook their meat in rancid canola oil or something?
  • Snacks
    • I was hungry again today!  I ate a bunch of walnuts, mixed nuts (no peanuts), dark chocolate, and some coconut butter.  It seems as if I ate a lot today, but according to MFP, I only ate 1500 calories.  I’m not sure how much stock I put in these measurements.
  • Drinks – all day long lots of herbal tea.
  • Tim and I both have stiff backs today, but my mood was great!
  • Verdict for the day:  Success!

Primal Challenge – Day 3

Here are the detes for Day 3.

  • Did pushups, pullups, squats, planks, lunges, and bear crawls – which burned all of 16 calories according to MyFitnessPal. Shenanigans, I say.
  • Breakfast
    • 2 cups of coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil.
    • Hard boiled egg, 1/2 an avocado, homemade chorizo
  • Lunch
    • I had lunch with my old boss today at Exotic Thai.  I had the Kang Dang Curry, which is delicious as always.  I ate maybe 1/4 cup of white rice with it because sometimes straight coconut milk will upset my stomach.
  • Supper
    • I tried a new recipe tonight:  Hamburgers with Mushrooms Provencale Style.  I undercooked the burgers.  For some reason I have a hard time cooking non-ground meat on the stove. Tim usually grills it for us, but it’s damn winter here.  Overall, this recipe was tasty, but it is not one of my favorites.   It will not get put it into the rotation.
  • Snacks
    • Apple, 2 hardboiled eggs, 1/2 avocado, celery, Kombucha.  I was pretty snacky today!  I think it was because I ate liquids for lunch.  Coconut milk is pretty high fat, so it should have kept me full, but it never does!  Liquids NEVER fill me up.  Besides beer.  Beer fills me up something fierce.
  • Drinks – all day long lots of herbal tea.
  • Still have a little joint pain, but my stomach is getting back to normal, and my mood was better.
  • Verdict for the day:  Success!  Still resisting sweets and alcohol.

We still haven’t joined a gym, and Tim and I are really getting antsy.  The weather is warming up, but I think it’s supposed to be icy now.  Bah!!

Primal Challenge – Day 2

Here’s the detes for the day.  I started tracking my food on MyFitnessPal, per the recommendation of a friend.  I know it’s not 100% accurate (partially because I estimate the amount of food and partially because you can’t always find exact matches), but it will at least give me an idea of where I am getting most of my calories.  Today I’m at 67% fat, 23% protein, and 10% carbs (it was a heavy bacon day).  I’m at 1719 calories for the day, which I think would be low for me in the summer but is probably pretty accurate for me in the winter time.  I’ll keep using this for a few days and see how it works.

  • Did 30 minutes of yoga.
  • Breakfast
    • 2 cups of coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil.
    • Sauteed broccoli, red bell pepper, and kale in bacon fat, 2 pieces of bacon
  • Lunch
    • Salad with mushrooms, sardines, cucumbers, walnuts, red bell pepper, and olive oil and ACV
  • Supper
    • Grilled eggs with chorizo with 1/2 an avocado
    • I think the Fitness tracker probably WAY overestimated the fat & salt in the chorizo, because I used homemade chorizo.
  • Snacks
    • 2 slices of bacon, 2 carrots, handful of walnuts
  • Drinks – all day long lots of herbal tea.
  • No improvement yet in allergies/joint pain.
  • Verdict for the day:  Success!  I resisted 20th anniversary cupcakes, a veiled insinuation that I should go out for drinks after work, and a counter-top full of toffee and peanut butter cups.  So far I haven’t been seriously tempted, but that’s probably more hormonal than anything.  You girls know what I mean.  🙂

Our gym membership lapsed in December.  We really only need a gym Feb – May, so we can train for the triathlon (pool).  We were going to save some cash and sign up next month, but we are already going stir crazy.  I know the primal community is not big on running, but Tim and I miss it.  We can run when it’s 30 outside, but not when it’s 30 below.  We’re going to have to join up somewhere so we can get our bodies moving again.

Life is ramping up to be busy again.  I start a new class at Iowa State on Monday. It’s a programming class, and I have NO programming experience.  I just read the syllabus, and we have a GROUP project.  Bah!!  That’s going to be no fun.  Hopefully I’ll get lucky and group up with a brilliant programmer.

So between projects at work, school, meal planning and cooking, ramping up training for the tri, and crocheting a scarf (which is turning out super cute, btw), I’m going to be one busy Hlo.  But happiness is growth right??  Hlo in June is going to be happy that Hlo in January was miserable.  You are welcome, future self.

Primal Challenge – Day 1

I have a new recipe to tell you about.  I made this tried and true garlic pulled pork recipe on Sunday.  Since we were going to be home almost all day, I cooked it in the oven instead of the crockpot like I normally do.  It turned it sooooo much better – very tender and butter-soft.  To get an even healthier dose of the super food that is garlic, I paired it with Couve a Mineira and a side of avocado.  It was delicious!!  And cheap!  Collard Greens are only 59 cents.  Bonkers.

Anyway, here’s the super exciting food/exercise details of Day 1.

  • Meditated 5 minutes using Mindfulness app.
  • Breakfast
    • 2 cups of coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil.
    • 2 eggs with red peppers & kale sauteed in bacon fat, and squash seasoned with s&p and turmeric. Ate 1/2 at home and 1/2 about an hour later at work.
  • Lunch
    • Salad with organic lettuce, albacore tuna, red peppers, walnuts, mushrooms, green onions, and cucumbers, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
    • 2 slices of bacon.
  • Snack
    • Organic apple, 1 piece of celery, 1 carrot.
  • After-work snack.
    • Two pieces of celery with almond butter.
  • Supper
    • Leftover garlic pulled pork.
    • Salad with red peppers, green onions, and cucumbers.
  • Drinks – all day long lots of herbal tea.
  • Exercise – Did 10 pushups, 3 pullups, did 10 flights of stairs at work.
  • No improvement yet in allergies/joint pain.

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to keep a food log.  I have the Evernote Food app, where you can take pics of your food and then make comments on it, but I’m not liking it so far.  It’s too complicated for what I need.  I also don’t like typing my food into my phone and then retyping it here.  I might just resort to a little old school notebook.  We’ll see.  Logging food is pretty tedious, but lots of folks say it really opens your eyes as to what you really eat in a day.  We’ll see!

21 Day Challenge Reboot

It’s January 2014, and you know what that means – resolutions!!  I won’t share all the nitty gritty details, but like most folks, my resolutions revolve around living a healthier, more fulfilling, happier life.  To start the year off on the right foot, I’m doing another 21 Day Challenge.  Why would I do this after being paleo for almost 2 years?  Well, the whole 80/20 thing is a slippery slope, for one thing.  It’s very difficult to be specific about what 80/20 means.  In theory it means eating a cookie maybe once a week, or having a beer here and there.  In practice, however, for me at least it means eating too many sweets, too much gluten, and drinking too many drinks, all under the guise of “20%.”

So I’m doing the 21 Day Challenge again for several reasons.  I want to reboot my system to reduce sugar cravings.  I want to eat clean for 21 days and see if my allergies (which still bother me a little) and skin improve.  Also, in winter I tend to eat just as much as I do in the summer, but my activity level is much, much less (due to days with only 11 hours of daylight and sub-zero temps).  Over the past couple of months I’ve seen the effects of this, not in any weight gain, but in body composition.

With those goals in mind, I’m starting the 21 Day Challenge tomorrow.  To help keep me on track, I will post my food diary and exercise log here on this blog.  To most people I know this will be boring, but for those wondering what a primal lifestyle looks like, it might be helpful.  Plus, selfishly, posting this information publicly will help keep me on the straight and narrow.

With that said, I better sign off, so I can get my solid 8 hours of sleep tonight!

Vacation Woes

Teem and I just returned from a monster road trip to Phoenix.  All of Tim’s family lives down there, and it was time for us to visit them again.  We looked at plane tickets, and when we added the cost of the tickets to the cost of renting a car, we were looking at an outlay of $1100.  We knew we could drive it for about $400 + 2 hotel rooms, halving the cost of the journey.  Plus, if we drove we could take our ancient chihuahua, Lucent, and our bicycles with us.  So drive we did.  Over the course of 8 days we drove 48 hours.  We drove for a full-time work week.

We drove down on Christmas day.   By the time we arrived at our stopover town of Amarillo, the only restuarants that were open were Denny’s and IHOP.  We strolled into Denny’s at 9PM, expecting to be able to sit down, relax, and recover from our road weariness.  Instead, we walked into a packed entry way, no hostess in site, and all the tables filled with patrons waiting for food.  WHY was everyone in Amarillo eating out at Denny’s at 9PM on Christmas??  We said, to quote my mom, “Nuts to that noise,” and drove over to IHOP.  The situation was only slightly better there.  The hostess was in effect, at least, but she informed us that there would be a 45 minute wait.  We turned around and headed back to the hotel.  In an attempt to not go wholly off the rails whilst on vacation, I had packed road trip snacks – nuts, dark chocolate chips, figs, grapefruit, hard boiled eggs, and oranges.  We had already plowed through a lot of the food, but we made a bastard supper of grapefruit, eggs, and free cookies from the front desk.  By this time of the evening, we were both tired, hungry, irritable, and full of a weird mish mash of food.  Fortunately, our moods were better in the morning, and we made short work of the remaining trip from Amarillo to Tempe.

Once we arrived, we welcomed the sun, the warmth, and the family.  We had a good time over the course of the next few days – biking, running, hiking, playing games, and shopping at all the stores we don’t have here (Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc.).  We also ate A TON of food.  Since we were on vacation and since I’ve been more lax in my diet lately in general, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted.  The day after we arrived, I had low-gluten pancakes for breakfast and then for supper indulged in bites of fries, bites of home-made pop-tarts, 1/2 a cookie, 1.5 slices of pizza, a sweet digestif, wine, a manhattan, a paleo cookie, etc.  By the time we got on the light-rail train to head home, my stomach was feeling pretty off.  I was also feeling pretty hot.  I have a history of passing out, and I quickly recognized I was in danger.  I moved over to an empty seat, took off my coat and sweater and fought furiously to maintain consciousness.  Tim saw the sweat start to soak through my shirt and watched the blood leave my face and came over to fan me.  Eventually the tunnel vision cleared, and I was able to focus and hear again.  Ugh.  This is what happens when I don’t treat my body correctly.

I ate much better over the course of the next few days.  I still didn’t feel awesome just because when you are with a varied group of people, you want things to be easy as possible, so you make compromises.  Also, it’s hard to poop at other peoples’ houses.  Especially when you don’t get your coffee & coconut oil when you wake up.  🙂

But now we are home.  We are still in leftover vacation mode, but starting on Monday we are doing a clean up.  I’m looking forward to it!!  Our gym membership expired in December.  It’s super expensive to renew it, so we are going gym-less for January, and then we’ll sign up for Feb – May, so that we can train at the pool for the triathlon in June.  So we’ll really need to eat better since we won’t be able to work out like we want.

Today is going to be the nicest day for the next 4-5 days (30 degrees), so we are going to run today.  And then we are going to hibernate until at least next Tuesday.  Over the next few days it’s supposed to get to something like 40 below with the windchill.  UGH.  The only thing keeping me sane is my faux sun-light and the knowledge that every day, even if it’s insanely cold, is going to get longer and longer.  Eventually I will feel sun on my arms and legs again!