On the Importance of Movement

Where have I been, you may be wondering??  Well, let me tell you. It’s a story that begins at the latest last summer and at the earliest back in high school, with a few milestones in between.

I’ll start at the most recent beginning, which is last summer.

For the past several years, especially since discovering the primal diet (thank you Mark Sisson!), I have felt very compelled to share with others the fascinating things I was learning, namely – we have the power to heal ourselves without the use of prescription drugs and surgeries.  As I started to eat better and move my body more regularly, I noticed a huge improvement in my level of anxiety, my body composition, and my energy levels.  It was nothing short of amazing. I wanted EVERYONE to know this.

But I struggled with the best way to share this message. I was not content with sharing this information with only the interested friend or family member (or the uninterested family member 😛 ).  I wanted a more Official communication forum.

Consequently I ventured down the yoga teacher training path.  Teaching yoga fed my deep curiosity about the body, philosophy, and spirituality. It also gave me an avenue to share what I was learning with others.  I LOVE teaching, especially those classes where the students and I are on the same wave length, and everything just…gels.  Amazing. Total Flow state.

Yet, I still yearned for more. I was/am working full-time at a fairly stressful job, fitting in classes and workshops where I could.  I clung to the job because I have a HUGE need for security, safety, and a financial safety net.  Yet, I wanted to do more with the health and wellness sphere.  But I was running out of hours in the day and energy to do both well.

I was super discontented and unsettled and stressed, and I felt as if my life was being used incorrectly by me.  So I started meeting with a psychologist who is also a yoga therapist – a woman who marries west and east and blends science with spirituality. During the first session I explained my plight. She had me write down my intention. I wrote “My intention is to find my purpose and follow it fearlessly.”

A day or two later on the Yoga Tune Up Teachers Page, I learned about a pain treatment modality, neurosomatic therapy, that focuses on posture to analyze the root of issues in the tissues.  It is a form of manual therapy, but it also adds in the component of corrective exercise (so patients don’t just revert back to old patterns of behavior).

I was intrigued!  I called the school and ended up speaking to a man just a year younger than me who just quit his job in real estate to go back to the school.  He was SO HAPPY. Over the next few days we talked for a few hours, as he answered all my detailed questions about the program.  This system of treatment gelled SO WELL with what I had been learning in YTU, and it also made intuitive sense to me.  It was a natural fit for the style of yoga/movement that drew me as well.

For the next year, I would torture myself with deciding whether or not to take the plunge and do this program. I would talk to students from the program, hear their remarkable impressions of the program, how much they loved it, how they wished they could do it again, how great it was to help people that no one else could help.

Yet I waffled. How could I leave Iowa? How could I ask Tim to completely change our life?  How could I leave my parents????  How could we leave our adorable house that we spent 14 years making perfect?  What would I do for money?  I had grown very accustomed to the lifestyle that my stressful corporate job provided, to be honest.

I was confident that I would love the training program. I was sure that this career path would provide more fulfillment, joy and flow than being a business analyst at a bank.  I knew that this career would give me opportunities to learn and grow in a field that is fascinating to me.

So, what to do?  On the one hand – security, family, safety, knowing what tomorrow will bring.  On the other hand – lots of potential, room for growth, greater understanding of this vessel in which I live, but also insecurity, lack of predictability, increased expenses, and a move 18 hours across the USA.

I finally decided to take the plunge.  Tim is joining me on this crazy adventure. We are breaking out of several years of comfy habits and routines which is absolutely terrifying but also exciting.  As we are fixing up the house, cleaning out 14 years of accumulation, I realized that our comfy life was also kind of stagnant.  We had swung too far off center, and we needed a massive shake-up to reach equilibrium again.  Much like the body needs constant movement for optimum performance, life needs movement and change as well!

I hope to continue writing as we progress through this experience together, but I will have to see what this new life looks like.  I will be working part time and going to school part time, but hopefully I can still find time to write!

So this is already a super long blog post, so I better sign off.  Thanks for reading!

 

Primal Reboot – Week 1

I am doing another Primal Challenge with a few friends.  Summer, counter-intuitively, always means weight gain for me.  Why?  Because even though we are outside more and get more exercise in, we are also biking to the brewery or to lunches consisting of famous Iowa tenderloins and hand-cut fries.  Even a 2-hour bike ride stands no chance against a couple of drinks and nachos.

We started the Challenge on Monday.  My main goals for the challenge are:  1) No alcohol for 21 days, 2) Meditate for at least 10 mins daily, and 3) Walk outside for at least 30 mins daily.  You may think  that these are not exactly “stretch” goals for someone who is pretty healthy.  But, trust me, they are!  Between working full-time, teaching yoga part-time, prepping for the classes, sleeping, eating, continuing my movement education, etc., my days get really full.  I have not been doing a good job of prioritizing the behaviors that I preach in my yoga classes.  Also, I’ve fallen into the habit of having 1-2 drinks each night.  So that is what I’m mainly tackling this go-around.

I have been doing really well so far!  No drinks for 7 days means my stomach is flatter (less bloated), and my sleep quality has VASTLY improved.  While I do not drink copious of alcohol and rarely ever get drunk, I know that alcohol really affects hormone levels (it’s pro-estrogenic), thus negatively affecting your risk of breast cancer.  It also saps my evening productivity something fierce!  I listened to a podcast with James Swanwick, and his experience going alcohol-free really made me question the innocuousness of my habit.  For some additional information on the effects of alcohol, check out this post written by James.

Prioritizing walking and meditation has also made me re-vamp my morning routine.  While I would love to read articles online for an hour each morning while drinking my coffee, instead, I drink one coffee, hop in the shower, go for a walk, and then meditate, and then eat breakfast and then go to work.  If I don’t take care of these two goals in the morning, the day escapes me.

Walking in the morning as the sun comes up is a beautiful way to start the day.  I love hearing the wind in the trees and watching the light slowly illuminate the neighborhood.  It’s also a good test of my proprioceptive skills, and I have to be cautious of ancient sidewalks dipping and rising unexpectedly.

And meditation.  Wow.  Lately I have been feeling more calm, less reactive, and more joyful.  Is it the meditation?  Is it because work is not really stressful right now? Is it because I am teaching more (which I love)?  Is it because I am sleeping better?  That’s the problem with changing multiple behaviors at the same time. I don’t have a control group. 🙂  I think it’s the meditation though – it trains me to take that second breath before reacting which gives me time to observe my instinctual response and reflect on whether it’s really necessary.  What story am I telling myself that is causing me to get fired up?  Is there another reasonable story that will help me maintain my equanimity?  Oh, I still get fired up, but at least now I am more aware of it, and it’s a *slightly* more conscious reaction.

There you have it, Primal Reboot Week 1.  If you are interested in learning more about the Primal Challenge, check out this link, or hit me up in the comments with questions.

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday and can get out and enjoy the crisp sunshine and crackling leaves.

Take care,

-Hlo

Adventures in Kefir

If you read any articles or blogs about the paleo or primal lifestyle, you no doubt have read about the benefits of fermented foods.  They are the bees knees for the gut and therefore for the brain.  In an effort to get more of these beneficial probiotics into my system, over the past year I have experimented with jun, water kefir and milk kefir.

I received a jun scoby from a YTT friend of mine.  It looked very alien – an amorphous, white blob with floating tendrils.  I made some green tea, added some honey, and the blob went to work. It produced a lightly sweet, mostly tangy, slightly fizzy concoction.  The flavor of it was good, especially initially. However, the scoby grew faster than the size of my container.  Pretty soon the scoby was fermenting the jun so quickly that by the time I got around to drinking it, it was VERY tart and tasted more like apple cider vinegar than green tea with honey.

However, I kept drinking it, convinced by everything that I’ve read that I was doing my body good.  Then I started to notice that I was getting rough, dry patches on my upper lips.  At first I thought it was just dry skin, but then I noticed it was EXACTLY in the place where a glass meets my lips. I tossed my ancient Sigg bottle, assuming that the lining had failed and was aggravating my lips.  Nothing changed.  I bought some Abreva, thinking maybe I was getting cold sores.  Nothing changed.  Finally I stopped drinking the jun.  Problem solved!

In my unscientific experiment of n = 1, here is what I think happened.  The jun was SO vinegary that it was burning my lips!  I can only imagine what it was doing to my stomach. I ended up giving my monster jun scoby away and moved on to something more familiar  – water kefir.

A couple of years ago, I had experimented with water kefir grains from Cultures for Health.  I guess I should back up.  To make water kefir, you take filtered water, add sugar, add water kefir grains, and a day or two later, you have a fermented water beverage.  You can then add some juice to that fermentation (after you filter out the grains) to make an even fizzier second fermentation.

My first experiment with water kefir was frustrating and did not consistently produce tasty water kefir.  However, after my jun experience, I decided to try again.  This time I bought grains from Amazon, a reseller for poseymom.com.

These grains were amazing!  In the beginning I followed the instructions on poseymom’s website and added A LOT of black strap molasses to the water. The grains loved the minerals and doubled in size with every batch. However, even though the grains were healthy, neither Tim nor I were huge fans of the molasses flavor in the kefir.  So I cut down the molasses to about 1/2.  The grains still did well, but the taste was much more mild.  I started to produce super fizzy, very delicious water kefir.

After several months of creating water kefir, I ran out of my Brer Rabbit Blackstrap Molasses and could not find any bottles anywhere, so I bought a different brand.  I *think* that is what caused my issue, but I’m not sure. The grains started to fall apart and change color.  They were not fermenting like they used to. I didn’t like the smell, so I tossed them, intending to buy a fresh batch.

However, I soon noticed that within a few days of not drinking water kefir, I lost about 3 stubborn pounds.  Despite eating the same way I have for the past 3.5 years, I had put on a few pounds. I had attributed it to getting older and maybe allowing more non-paleo cheats.  But once that weight came off, my second very unscientific conclusion is that the water kefir must have still had quite a bit of sugar/carbs in it, and that’s what was pushing my weight up.  I did some research on the internet, and it sounds as if water kefir can drive up yeast in the body.  So not all people react well to it.  Some women even reported getting more yeast infections when they drank water kefir.

So I decided to move on to milk kefir.  I had also tried making that several years ago with powdered grains from Greatest Grains.  It did not turn out AT ALL.  So I went back to poseymom.com, since I had such good results from her grains.

When I got the little pouch (6.99 from Amazon), I was a little disappointed in the tiny amount of grains in the package.  But I followed the instructions on the website and added them to about 2 cups of cheap milk.  After 12 hours, I poured the milk out and put the grains in a fresh batch.  I did this maybe one or 2 more times before putting the grains in some whole fat organic milk. I set the jar on a seeding mat to speed up the fermentation process.

Every 12 hours now I have a batch of tangy, slightly fizzy, thick milk kefir.  It is super delicious and filling.  Our only complaint is, is it so thick that you waste a lot of product on the inside of the jar and glass.

The process is incredibly easy.  Every 12 hours, I get out a clean glass jar and add 2 cups of whole milk. I then get the fermented milk off the seeding mat and give it a good stir with a plastic chop stick (you can’t use metal with milk kefir).  The kefir needs to be stirred because it starts to separate into curds and whey when it ferments.

Then I get out a plastic strainer and strain the milk kefir into a clean, empty jar.  The kefir is quite thick, so I use the chop stick to stir the milk in the strainer, being careful to not break up the kefir grains.  I then dump the grains into the fresh milk.  I have a pretty small strainer, so I have to repeat this process 3 or 4 times to process all the kefir.

I then use a rubber band to attach a coffee filter to the top of the jar with the new milk and grains in it, and set it on the seeding mat.  I give the kefir in the other jar a good stir, cap it with a plastic lid, and put it in the fridge.

We’ve been drinking the kefir for 2 or 3 weeks now, and so far I have not noticed any weight, skin, or stomach issues.  Tim and I both really love the taste and consistency.  We will see how long these grains last before I end up accidentally killing them.  Oh!  And one more thing I should mention.  If you need to go out-of-town, or if you are just producing more kefir than you can handle, you can put the grains in milk in the fridge, and the grains will basically hibernate.  When you return home, give the milk a stir, set the jar on the seeding mat, and 12 hours later you will be back in business.

I may get adventurous and make a little video showing the process because I know that would have been helpful to me.

Hope you have a fabulous Monday!! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. 🙂

On Death of Dogs and Friends

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I legitimately have a good excuse this time, however.  It’s literally been an insane month.  On 9/8 we had to put our pet chihuahua, Lucent, to sleep.  He was 18 years old, so he had a good, long life.  But that doesn’t make it any easier to let him go.  It was the Thursday or Friday before Labor Day weekend that we noticed that he wasn’t feeling good. He threw up some eggs I gave him, and then after that he basically stopped eating.  We couldn’t get him to even eat bacon, which was one of his favorite things EVER (next to Tim).  His back legs started collapsing, so Tim had to hold up his back end so he could use the bathroom.

But Lucent has had rough spells before, and after a few days, he would start to pull through.  But this was different.  He just kept getting weaker and weaker.  He slept with us Sunday night, and each time that I rolled over, I felt him to make sure he was still breathing.  On Monday we cuddled him all day and made a cozy nest for him on Monday night in our living room.  We covered his bed with my childhood blanket that he loved, and surrounded his bed with pee pads just in case.

We woke up Tuesday morning, and he was still with us, but we knew that meant we had to make a decision. I emailed my coworkers and told them that I was staying home that day.   I spent the morning crying with Lucent laying on my chest. Tim’s work is super short-staffed, so he did his short morning shift, and then we took Lucent to the vet.

They told us what we already knew.  Lucent was ready to move on.  It was time.

I’ve lost all my grandparents and some close friends, but I have never been as sad as I was that day, in that room.  I was surprised because I thought I was ready. I thought I was ready to move on. Lucent and I had had a long, long relationship. I thought I had come to terms with him moving on to puppy heaven.  But I hadn’t.  He was a third of our family for 18+ years, and it was a lot harder to let go than I thought.

And it was even harder for Tim. He and Lucent were soul mates – almost literally attached for the past several years.  Lucent was just happiest tucked into Tim’s arm, or on Tim’s lap, or under Tim’s shirt.  They were inseparable.  Seeing Tim in so much pain was almost as hard as losing Lucent.

We had several good, long years with Lucent, and I am very grateful for them.  As with any death though, after it happens, you are riddled with guilt. I wish I would have pet him more, held him more, been more patient with him being under my feet EVERY time I was cooking, gave him more bacon, let him HAVE my child hood blanket (I stole it back a few times).  I wish I would have done so much more to make his final months and years super happy and pleasant and loving.  I know he had a really good life and was a very happy, content puppy until the very end, but I still wish I would have done more and been less selfish.  I was looking forward to being dog-free and to the freedom and flexibility that would offer, but it ended up being a bitter reward in the end.

If you know anyone who has lost a pet, please don’t underestimate the pain that person is experiencing. I know I ALWAYS have up until this point. Now I understand.  Every card and call and hug means so much at a time like that.

So that happened.  And then 3 days after that a friend & coworker attempted suicide. And then a week after that, he attempted again and succeeded.  I didn’t cry for him like I did for Lucent. I think I was/am still a little numb and spent.  We went to his funeral today, and now I am tired and feel like shopping. I think my brain is craving the endorphin rush from buying things.

So that’s been my month. I am SO craving getting back to normality.  We are also starting another primal challenge, and I’m looking forward to getting my nutrition/exercise/sleep back in line.  Because of the craziness we haven’t been eating or drinking right, and my anxiety is starting to pop back up again. I need a re-set.

Hope your month has been happier than mine, and here is to fresh starts and happier times!

 

An experiment with Sprinting

Everywhere I turn, I see an article about the benefits of interval training.  Off and on I will do some sprint intervals, but I haven’t gotten very focused with it.  I’ll do maybe one interval session per month.  Well, my monthly interval session came due on Wednesday, so Tim and I and a friend headed out to the bike bath.

We walked about 10 minutes before our first sprint.  For the first sprint we ran all-out for 15 seconds.  We walked until we got our breath back and then repeated the 15 second sprints 5 more times.  I think we were back home within 30-40 minutes.

I did not warm up as I should, and with my first sprint, I felt a knot in the top of my quad.  But I powered through, which could have been really stupid. By the time I got home, it felt like a rock was lodged in my leg. I spent the rest of the evening rolling it out with the foam roller.

The next day I felt pretty good.  The day after that was PAINFUL.  My quads!  Oh my God, my quads!  So sore.  But day 3 hit, which was Saturday.  I was on fire!  Just look at all this stuff I did: 1 hr 15 minute vinyasa yoga class, made home-made beef bone broth, rendered 2 quarts of tallow, baked Chunky Monkey muffins, roasted root veggies, walked 3.5 miles while listening to the The One you Feed podcast, cleaned up all the leaves from the front yard, cut all the stalks from last year’s prairie grasses, cleaned out the herb bed, took a shower, tried to go shopping for clothes (the stores were annoyingly busy), stocked up on staples from Target, and then went out with Tim for supper at Brix (they have a pretty good gluten-free pizza crust).  Let me see….yep. I think that’s about everything.

So maybe it’s because it’s Spring, and it’s actually warm and sunny. Or maybe it’s because I was full of human growth hormone from the sprints on Wednesday! I need to monitor my energy levels on Day 3 next time we do sprints and see if the pattern repeats.

And there you have my sprint story. Riveting, eh??

Moving on to a little recipe review – I tried two new ones this week:

Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Meatballs –  These were pretty good, but we used Habanero Louisiana Hot Sauce.  As a result, they were literally insanely spicy.  They gave me a stomach ache the first night I ate them, and they gave Tim a stomach ache when he ate them for leftovers.  I want to try them again though, but use a much milder hot sauce.

Pork Chops with Apples – I have always loved pork chops and applesauce, so I had to try this recipe. I would say it turned out good, but it’s not as good as my favorite pork chop recipe.  Plus, this dish is just not that pretty!  It’s very beige. I won’t make this again.

The roasted root veggie recipe I linked to above is a definite keeper though. This makes a huge pan of roasted veggies which is great for easy leftovers. We sautéed some of the leftovers for breakfast yesterday and topped them with crispy over-easy eggs, then we had more leftovers for supper last night. I bloomed some spices (marjoram, coconut sugar, salt, sage, red pepper flakes, cloves) in olive oil and then added ground pork. Once the pork was browned, we mixed it with the leftovers. So tasty yet easy.  I’m going to have some of that for breakfast this morning. 🙂

Hope you had a good, healthy weekend and were able to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather. Tim and I made up for our insanely productive Saturday by having a very relaxing Sunday.  We did a little 12 mile bike ride, had a couple of drinks, and then sat outside by a fire for a few hours.  It was perfect.

Red Food, Magic Tea, and Rendering

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, which is why I again have been so lax in posting!  It’s ridiculous, I know.  And I apologize.  Now that that is out of the way, let’s get started.

1. I made a super tasty recipe yesterday:  Roasted Root Vegetable with Sausage.  This turned out amazingly tasty!  I used the tallow that I rendered (more to come on that later) to roast the veggies.  We ate it for supper yesterday, breakfast/lunch today, and for supper tonight. For tonight I cooked two over-easy eggs and put that on top.  Awesome.  This recipe is super easy, makes a ton, and has loads of stuff that is good for you in it.  And it’s red.  The beets make everything red.  Including your poop.

2.  One of the girls in my YTT program gave me a Jun scoby.  Jun is a fermented beverage, made with green tea and honey.  It’s called the “champagne” of kombuchas. It’s very easy to make, as long as you have the scoby.  You bring water to 165 degrees, brew 2 teaspoons of green tea in it for 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup of honey, and let the mixture come to room temp.  Then you add the scoby (which looks like an alien life form).  Three days later, you have Jun!  You can also do a second ferment, which makes the Jun less sweet and more fizzy. It’s a very delicate flavor.  From what I’ve read, Jun is very mystical/magical.  Some people who brew it meditate with their Jun and also play music for it.  I don’t go that far, but I do tell people not to say anything bad about the Jun within the Jun’s hearing.

3. Tallow!  We received several pounds of beef fat from the 1/8 of a cow we bought, so I tried my hand at rendering it, using this recipe.  It turned out fantastic!  It smells slightly beefy, but not overpowering at all.  When in liquid form, it’s a very bright yellow color, but it cools to a milky cream color.  I’ve given 2 jars of it away already and am already 1/2 way through my remaining 3rd jar, so I’m going to have to go on a rendering spree this weekend.

4.  Porridge!  Sometimes a hot, oatmeally type breakfast just sounds super tasty. So I decided to try this recipe.  It turned out very delicious, but I’m not planning on making it again.  It’s pretty carb heavy, for one thing (it has a banana, apple, and raisins in it). Also, with all the nuts, it’s a pretty expensive breakfast.  It made a ton, but due to how carb-heavy it is, it’s not something I would want to eat for breakfast several days in a row.  I keep reading articles that emphasize that you should eat carbs at night for better hormone balance, better sleep, and better body comp.  If I did make this again, I would make it for supper, not breakfast.

5.  And lastly, a quick update on my yoga-ing.  I’ve been going to a hot yoga class at 5:30 AM, and much to my surprise, I LOVE it!  It gives me a ton of energy for the day, and it’s so nice to know that I don’t have to worry about working out when I get off work. My hard work is already done for the day!  It’s also much easier for me to control my schedule at 5:30 AM than it is later in the day, so I’ve actually been able to make it to a yoga class 3 times a week!  I can’t believe what a big difference that makes in my abilities.  I felt so much stronger and more focused in my class on Saturday, after going to class Wednesday and Friday.  The only down side is, once my free classes run out (we get a year’s worth of free classes as part of the YTT program), I’m going to have to sign up for the $100 monthly plan at my studio, so I can keep up with practicing!!

And that’s my update!  That’s a lot to throw out there, but I’m behind on writing for 2015.  I gotta catch up!

Hope you are having a fabulous February so far. 🙂

 

A Moroccan New Year’s Eve – Get it???

Did you get my joke there?  Instead of a “Rockin'” NYE, I said a “Moroccan” NYE!  Tim has already declared 2015 the year of the bad joke after I made some comment this morning about, “If this kitchen’s Moroccan, don’t come a knockin.”

So, yes, I made a Moroccan dish last night – Moroccan-Style Lamb Meatballs, to be precise.  They turned out pretty tasty (the sauce especially) but my favorite lamb meatball recipe is still this one.  These meatballs weren’t a lot of work, per say, but they did take a sh!tload of spices – thirteen to be exact.  And when it was all said and done, you couldn’t really taste them in the end product.  The meatballs might be more flavorful today though.

That’s how we celebrated our New Year’s Eve. I found a NYE Dance Party mix on iTunes radio, and Tim and I cleaned the kitchen, cooked, cleaned the kitchen again, made a drink, watched Gilmore Girls while crocheting a scarf, made another drink, watched The Labyrinth, and then went to bed at like 11PM.  It was actually a really enjoyable night (from the perspective of two complete homebodies).  And as a bonus, I feel great today!

I tried another new recipe this week:  Oven Baked Chowder.  Although this recipe is expensive (1.5 lbs of tilapia was about $15), this one is a definite keeper.  The chowder turned out super flavorful and delicious.  Next time I make it, however, I will cook it in our dutch oven.  We ran out of room in the 8 X 11 pan.  Also, I would add a whole cup of coconut milk to make the sauce even more creamy.

How was your New Year’s Eve?  Any big plans or goals for 2015?  Tim and I discussed last night that we are going to try to reign in our eating out to only 2 times per week. It will help us save money and calories.  That’s about it for us!

Hope you are having a great January 1, 2015.  The future is now, Man!!

PORKIN!

Ha – gotchya! This post isn’t about what you thought it was about. You pervert.

One of the benefits and drawbacks of buying a whole hog is that you have tons of pork to eat.  I love pork, but we probably eat too much of it.  We need to widen our horizons as far as meat is concerned, but it’s hard to do when you have 100 pounds of pork chilling in the freezer.

I used a few pounds of it this week in a couple of new recipes:

1.  Beyond the Bite Hawaiian Pork Roast.  This recipe was very easy to make, and the flavor of the roast was delicious!  However, the cabbage got a little overcooked, so its texture and color were a little unappetizing; although, the actual taste of it was good.  Even though the recipe only calls for 3 T of ginger, the whole roast had a really nice ginger tone to it.

2. Easy Glazed Pork Chops.  This introduced me to a new way of cooking pork chops. We usually either grill them or fry them on the stove.  With this recipe, however, you cook them on the stove for 4 minutes on each side and then bake them for 6 minutes.   They end up cooked perfectly!  I would definitely make pork chops this way again, but I would not make the glaze.  Tim HATES vinegar, and this sauce was super vinegary and made the whole house smell like vinegar. I personally liked the flavor, but I won’t subject Tim to the vinegar scent again.

And today is Christmas.  Tim and I are going to head out for a run shortly, and then we’re going to play some cribbage, eat some homemade stew, draw, bake cookies, watch some Lord of the Rings, and crochet some slippers.  Sounds like a perfect Thursday in my opinion!

Oh!  And one more thing to note.  Some friends of mine and I decided to do another Primal Challenge in January. It’s kind of become a tradition at this point. I originally started the primal diet 3 years ago in January, and for the past 2 years, I have re-done the challenge to help myself get back on track and to help introduce some friends to the diet.  This year we are making it a little more official. I set up a Facebook Group here for us to communicate and encourage each other.  We are doing it 1/11 to 1/31.  If you are interested in joining up, hit me up on Facebook. I’m excited to see how it goes (and I’m excited to have a strong excuse to turn down delicious (but super unhealthy) treats at work!).

I hope you are enjoying your day off and can get outside and revel in the cold sunshine.  Thanks for reading!!

 

Swedish meatballs, yoga pants, and crocheted slippers.

Chris Kresser links to the best recipes!  I found this recipe for Paleo Swedish Meatballs last weekend in one of his posts.  Holy cow.  These turned out sooooo delicious!  They were a lot of work for a weeknight meal, as you need to cook the meatballs in batches on the stove top until they are all done.  But they are so worth the effort.  Here are a couple of notes – I used a 2 inch scoop for the first batch of meatballs, and I had a really hard time turning them without them falling apart. I scaled down to a 1.5″ scoop after that, and those meatballs were much easier to handle, and they cooked much more evenly.  Also, I was 85% sure that the “gravy” would not turn into gravy.  It was super runny all the way up until I added the 3rd tablespoon of tapioca starch. Then, magically, it started to firm up to gravy consistency.  So rich and tasty.

For a side dish I made roasted brussel sprouts because I found some local ones at The Food Hub for 2.99/lb.  I used this recipe as a guide; however, instead of making the glaze, we poured the gravy over the cooked sprouts.  I have to say, we were not super happy with how these turned out.  They were very dry (maybe I didn’t add enough oil?).  So, when we stored the leftovers, we mixed the sprouts and the meatballs and gravy together. The sprouts marinated in that rich gravy overnight and were super moist and tasty when re-heated.

I also tried this recipe last week: Crockpot Ropa Viega with Cuban Style Rice.  This turned out OK.  Tim and I both thought the dish was a little over-spiced, and the meat didn’t turn out as tender as I hoped.  Tim ate the leftovers with white rice, however, which cut down the spice level a bit, and he said that was really good. However, this recipe did provide us with supper and enough leftovers for two more meals.

So on to my next piece of news.  For our anniversary Tim got me an amazing pair of yoga capri leggings from Onzie.  I wore them to an hour and 15 minute yoga class, and they kept me very cool (the fabric is really thin). I also wore them running, and they were very comfortable.  He got me the Prizm print.  It a cacophony of patterns, and it gives you something really interesting to look at while in downward dog. I don’t know if yoga pants are the proper dristi for yoga, but looking at them made me happy, so I think Yoga would approve.

I start my yoga teacher training class on 1/9, and I feel as if I really need at least one more pair of yoga pants for the class. Unfortunately the prints I really love at Onzie are all sold out of my size.  I’m going to keep my eye on it though.

And finally, the last topic of my post.  Ever since we were little, my mom has made us awesome crocheted slippers (the slippers are courtesy of Mom – the hair is courtesy of Lucent):

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Mom has shown me a couple of times how to make them, but once she is not next to me, I forget how.  So I found this YouTube video on granny squares (the slippers are basically 3 small granny squares stitched into one big granny square).  With his help and a few texts back and forth to Mom, I was able to successfully make all the pieces for a pair of slippers:

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And this is currently where I am stuck. Over the phone, Mom walked me through how to stitch the pieces together, but my first attempt ended very poorly. I was distracted by David Bowie’s hair and other things in The Labyrinth and didn’t have the pieces lined up well enough, so they didn’t connect where they should connect.  I’m going to try it one more time, and if that doesn’t work, make Mammacita sew them together for me. 🙂

So that’s my week in a nutshell.  Hope you are having a great Sunday and can get out and enjoy this 40 degree day.  Take some Vitamin D and eat some salmon, and you won’t even miss the sun!

 

How to get fat on the Paleo Diet

I’ve been paleo/primal for 3 years now. I initially lost 18 lbs when I started the paleo diet, and I’ve kept it off for the past 3 years.  I’ll gain a pound or two when I start to loosen up the diet too much, but as soon as I tighten it up, my weight goes back down to my “equilibrium” weight, which is right around 131 pounds.

What are the culprits of the subtle pound creepage?  For me, it’s beer (1 beer = 1 lb), cheese, paleo snacks (Nut Thin crackers and sweet potato chips) and too many paleo baked goods.  The beer and cheese obviously will cause issues, but I think the paleo snacks and baked goods are more insidious. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that since they are “paleo-ish” they are OK to eat.  Well, and I honestly think they are OK in moderation.  It’s just that for me, I have problems with self control.  If I buy a bag of Terra sweet potato chips. I will eat them all over a couple of days – not happy until they are gone.  Same thing with paleo baked goods – when you make a batch of them, you have at least 12 treats hanging around.  12/2 = 6 treats for Tim and 6 treats for me that just HAVE to be eaten over  the course of 2-3 days.  DANGEROUS.

But we had company yesterday, so I used that as an excuse to make these Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins.  They are kind of a lot of work – the recipe prints out on 3 pages!  However, they are definitely worth it.  They taste like delicious pumpkin pie.  Two notes, however – I had to cook mine 10 minutes longer than the recipe said. I had so much batter that I had to fill the muffin cups 100% instead of 3/4, so I’m sure that’s why they took longer to cook.  Also, I could not find Five Spice Powder anywhere here in Davenport.  So I used a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice and added some turmeric and cayenne pepper. I didn’t even taste the turmeric (but we got all those anitoxidants), but you can taste the cayenne at the back of your throat as the bite goes down the gullet. It adds some interesting dimension to the muffins.

I made another Nomnompaleo recipe yesterday:  Oven-Braised Beef Stew with Carrot, Parsnip, and Lacinato Kale.  This recipe is a tremendous amount of work – you have to cut tons of veggies and then you have to sauté everything separately before adding it to the dutch oven for roasting.  The stew turned out super delicious, however, so it’s totally worth it.

And lastly, to the detriment of my waistline, I tried out this Paleo Pancakes recipe this morning.  I’ve never had great success with paleo pancakes. They are always too thick to cook properly.  Making them is an exercise is frustration.  But sometimes you just want a pancake with lots of butter and maple syrup.  So you keep trying and hoping.  Well, Chris Kresser linked to this recipe a few weeks ago, and I’m so glad he did.  These are by far the best paleo pancakes I’ve ever had. Tim even said you can’t tell they are paleo!  They are just good pancakes – not just good “paleo” pancakes.  This was my first attempt at using plantains, and based on these pancakes, I look forward to adding more of this safe starch to my diet.

I’m excited to have found some new recipes to add to my repertoire, but now I have a fridge full of honey-sweetened muffins and delicious pancakes.  It’s dangerous.  I better do some heavy aerobic exercise to burn off all these carbs today.

Hope you are having a great weekend!