21 Day Challenge Update with Recipe Reviews

So, hmm, The Challenge. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was derailed by a rough day at work earlier last week.  It was the kind of day that could only be fixed by happy hour drinks with the hubby.  Unfortunately, that drink pretty much broke the seal.  I didn’t fall completely off the strict primal wagon, but I may have had Cheetos and Idaho nachos and maybe another drink or two.  *Sigh*  But, today is a new day, and I’m a newly resolved Heather. I only have 5 days left, and I know I can do that.

Looking on the bright side, eating junk after eating very clean for 10 days helped me identify a few things.  1.  Alcohol, even just 1 or 2 drinks, often gives me a headache and makes me sleepy and  2.  White potatoes, while delicious, puff me up something fierce.  I was down 3 lbs, but now I’m back up 3 lbs.  Damn you, white potatoes!!! 3.  I have a problem with self-control. I can’t give in even a little or I’m a goner.

Over the past week I’ve tried a few new recipes.

Zucchini Fritters:  I subbed nutritional yeast for the parmesan.  These were tasty (even heated up the next day in the broiler), but I don’t think they were good enough for the amount of work.

Spicy Nacho Kale Chips:  We’ve been eating kale chips almost every other night, and this recipe is partially why.  These are super good, yet so easy.

Cauliflower Rice:  This is another recipe that is super good, yet super easy. Unlike this cauliflower recipe: Spicy Ginger-Lime Cauliflower Rice.  This recipe involves a lot of chopping, a lot of sauteeing in stages, and lots and lots of dirty dishes. You should see my kitchen right now.  I made it with Asian Pork Meatballs, and it was a perfect pairing.  The flavor is unusual and good, but not worth the effort, in my opinion.

And now you’re up-to-date on my food week.  As far as exercise goes, I did a sprint workout on Saturday, with 6 all-out 15 second sprints.  On Sunday I did 30 minutes of yoga, and then Tim and I tried stand-up paddle boarding for the first time.  We were on the river for an hour.  It looks so easy, but my quads are SO sore today!!

And that’s it for now!  Hope you are having a great day!





Day 5 of 21 Day Challenge Reboot

As I mentioned, two of my coworkers and I are doing the 21 Day Challenge together.  My friend want to lose some weight and get healthier, and I want to reboot myself.  My 80/20 has been slip, slip, slipping, and I’ve added about 3 lbs as a result.  I want to get back to my fighting weight so my clothes fit better.

So far the challenge is going pretty well!  My friends have lost 8 lbs and 5 lbs, respectively. I’ve lost ZERO pounds.  I’m super happy for my friends – they say they have been sleeping better, and they enjoy not being miserable and bloated after every meal.  I think that feeling so much better after just a few days of eating differently has really opened their eyes.  They are full of questions and good meal ideas and helpful websites!

One of the sites they found is Paleotrack.  It’s kind of like MyFitnessPal, but it’s tailored more for the paleo client.  For example, it doesn’t encourage you to eat more carbs and less fat. It also doesn’t tell me I will weigh 2 more pounds in a week if I continue to eat this way. 😛  The site also provides the vitamin/mineral/macro nutrient ratios for your foods. It’s very helpful information.  My friends especially like the way the site rates how closely your eating habits fall within the primal/paleo spectrum.  If you do well, you get “Strict Primal!” written in green on your journal page.  It also tells you if you are sugar free/grain free/legume free.  The colors are incentivizing.  And yes, I do believe that’s a word.  We all want to be GREEN!

The site is so cool that I emailed the site creator, who quickly responded with a thanks for using his site and some encouragement for our primal quest.  We also briefly discussed how quickly the 80/20 rule can get you into trouble.  Hearing that from another primal enthusiast has really made me consider how I will eat, once this challenge is over.  I think I’ll need to restrict my “cheats” to just one evening a week; otherwise, I just start to fall of the cliff.

I still feel a little off the cliff, actually, even though I’ve been eating pretty clean since Sunday.  I’ve avoided grains and cheese overall, but it’s been an odd week in that I’ve done some work traveling, and we’ve had company, two things that mean I’ve eaten out every day this week for at least one meal.  While I try to get quality food (salads, burger w/ no bun, etc.), you never know what chemicals are put into/onto the food, or what fillers are added.  I’m wondering if that’s why I haven’t lost any poundage yet.  Or, as Tim says, since I have such a small percentage to use, and I already ate PRETTY well, the weight won’t come off that fast for me.

I’ll keep at it for a few more weeks, until the challenge is over.  I’ll see how I feel, not just how much weight I lose, and move forward with a game plan at that point.

That’s my update so far.  Wish us all luck!  I’m doing the Bix 7 (a local 7 mile hilly run) on Saturday, and I don’t get any beer afterwards.  WAAAAAAHHHHH!  Oh, and after this run, I’m going to focus more on walking/weights/sprints and see if not doing long runs at a high heart rates helps get me back in my old shape.

Good luck with your ventures this week!

Lots of New Recipes!

School was officially over on May 10th, so I’ve finally had time to start trying some new recipes.

Primal Beef Enchiladas:  I killed a pot in the process of making this (I was boiling the ancho chiles in 2 cups of bone broth and kind of forget about them :/), but the recipe was still worth it.  My meat didn’t get defrosted in time to make this during the weekend in the oven (for 4 hours), so I made in the Nesco roaster.  I made the sauce and seared the meat the night before.  The next morning, I tossed the works into the roaster on the lowest setting and let it cook from about 7:30 to 5:30.  When the meat first came out, it seemed a little dry (as grass-fed beef is wont to be), but once I shredded it and doused it with the sauce, it was delicious.  We ate it with avocado slices the first night.  The second night Tim made some white rice and added some broccoli to the meat & sauce as it simmered.  Again – delicious.  This recipe is a definite keeper.

Crockpot Pork Stuffed Peppers:  I used the Nesco roaster for these bad boys too.  However, I think I overcooked them. It’s hard not to do when you leave at 7:30 and don’t get home until 5:30.  By the time we removed the peppers from the roaster, the peppers were total mush.  The insides though – very tasty, especially with lots of delicious salt.  🙂  I would definitely make this again.  It’s a super easy way to cook your meat and veggies all together.  I love our food processor so much.  Mom gave us an old Vitamix, and that is rocking our world too.  Tim’s been making some mean veggie smoothies with it, and I’ve been using it to make the most delicious coffee drink ever – bulletproof coffee.  The stuff tastes amazing, but I’m not totally sold on all of its supposed health benefits.  The first morning it only kept me full for about 2.5 hours.  I also seem to feel the effects of caffeine more with this coffee; I feel more anxious.  But one thing is for sure.  It’s some tasty sh!t.

Beef Liver & Onions:  I picked up a couple of pounds of grass-fed beef liver from the farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago.  I really enjoyed the Fried Beef Liver and Onions I made with the first batch, but it was kind of a lot of work.  And it was messy.  So I tried this new recipe.  I was being kind of lazy, so I tossed some liver in the food processor along with some shallots (the recipe called for onion, but mine was bad), some garlic, and some dill and oregano from our herb garden. Once all that was thoroughly mixed, I kneaded it together with some locally raised ground beef.  I used an ice cream scoop to form it into meatballs, put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cooked them up.  They turned out really tasty!  They do have that kind of… thick… taste of liver, but it’s a little lighter since it’s mixed with the ground beef.  It’s a great, easy way to get an inexpensive, nutrient-rich dose of grass-fed meat into your diet.

And….then I made this:  Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever.  This was COMPLETELY not paleo, but it was oh so deeeelicious.  I used whole milk, dark chocolate cocoa powder, and omitted the pecans (due to some nut allergies at work), and it turned out fantastic.  It was probably one of the most popular cakes I’ve ever made.  And it should be.  It’s rather a lot of work!

I JUST finished making these:  Greek-Style Lamb Meatballs.  I originally bought the lamb to make a recipe that I subsequently lost.  So I had to find a new recipe, and find one I did!  Tim and I are eating these right now.  My house smells like Hungry Boy Deli, and I really, really want some tzatziki sauce.    This would taste amazing with an onion, cucumber, tomato, vinegar, and olive oil salad.  Next time!!

Besides cooking and eating, Tim and I have been busy training for the triathlon that is LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY.  This weekend we were going to do a brick – a swim/bike brick or a bike/run brick.  However, Tim tweaked his back yesterday morning and is still recovering, so he was out of commission.  Tim bought me some new pedals for my bike – clip-ins!  He installed them today, and I gave them a go.  Getting the shoes to clip-in took some work, but once they were in – wow – I just flew!  At least until I came to a stop.  I was smart enough to get my right foot out but didn’t anticipate myself leaning to the left, the side on which my foot was still adhesed to my bike.  Down I went!  Right on my butt, knee, and elbow.  I banged my knee up pretty good, twisted my bike seat and shifter, and tore my brand new handle-bar tape.  I will survive, but this knee is going to need some rest before I can run on it again.  Oh well!  It was a good learning experience – take out BOTH feet when  you come to a complete stop on the bike.

And…that’s been the past couple of weeks.  This week will be the last full week of training. Next week my big bro and his girlfriend are coming for a visit and to support us during the Tri, so next week is going to be most excellent.

Hope you have a great week!

The binge before the purge


I’ve decided to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox.  I’m doing Level 3 since I’ve been eating paleo since January.  What does this mean?  Well, I will tell you.  It means Yes to lots of meat, fish, veggies, nuts, seeds, fats, oils, and water.  It means no to fruits, grains, legumes, refined carbs, dairy, all alcohol, and limited high carb veggies (like sweet potatoes).  Why would I do this to myself, you may ask?  I will tell you.

When I first started eating primally, I noticed almost immediately that my allergies were way better.  I used to wake up in the middle of night sneezing, with tons of disgusting snot just running out of my nose.  Within two weeks, this green fountain abated, only to return when I cheated by drinking wine at our company holiday party.  A light bulb went off – alcohol seemed to trigger/exacerbate my allergies.

Well, my allergies are back in full force.  I can only feel normal by taking Allegra every day.  I hate having to do that.  So, Reason #1 – I want to see if this detox will get my allergies under control.

Reason #2 – I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking regularly over the summer – not copious amounts, mind you – maybe 1-2 an evening or so.  But, it’s still not healthy behavior.  When I drink even 1 or 2 drinks, I am much less likely to make food at home (I feel like going out to eat), and I’m less likely to work out or to do anything productive (like write a blog post or paint).  So, I’m trying to reset my habit of casually drinking regularly.  I also read this great post on The Whole 9, and it just helped solidify my decision.

Reason #3 – I’ve become addicted to an evening snack/dessert of dark chocolate chips mixed with nuts and raisins.  I’ll eat supper and immediately want a bowl of this delectable mixture.  I know to people who are not paleo, this seems like a mild “cheat,” but it’s become a nightly habit, when it should become an occasional treat.  Again, I want to reset this to a healthier habit.  I’m never really HUNGRY after supper, my mind just thinks I want sugar.  I can beat this.  I know I can.

So, those are my 3 main reasons.  I do have some concerns, however.  I don’t want to lose any more weight.  I need to stay at my current weight, lest I have to buy MORE PANTS (FYI  – I still have a size 8-12 wardrobe for sale, if you’re interested!).  Since I’m a fairly heavy exerciser (I run 3-5 times per week and do pushups, pullups, squats, lunges on the off days), I will be following the modification for athletes and supplementing with some sweet potatoes – at least 1/2 cup per day.  I also purchased a Crossfit Daily Deal from our local paper, and I plan on starting that within the next couple of weeks.  I hope that I’ll have all the energy and calories I need to perform well there.

AND, I have a confession.  I’m only doing this for 17 days.  I have a work party on 10-11, and I plan to partake of a few alcoholic beverages that evening.  I know!  I know!  I’m cheating, of course.  But this is the best time of the worst time to do this.  The next few months are full of trips and visits, so I’m just going to go ahead and do it.

If you are interested in doing this as well, DON’T do what I did, which is binge on sugar and bad foods for a week before the Detox.  Yes, this week I ate Snickers, frozen yogurt, ice cream, pizza, heavy cream, etc. etc.  I felt like crap after every bad thing, but I still ate it.  I REALLY need a reset.  😉

I will post updates to let you know how I’m feeling and performing.  Wish me luck!

The Week in Recipes

We had some more great meals this week.    I rehashed some old favorites – Asian Pork Meatballs with Dipping Sauce, Sweet Potato Salad, Grilled Eggs with Mexican Chorizo.  They were all absolutely delicious.  I also tried two new recipes:

Moist Chocolate Zucchini Bread – This bread was super tasty.  I used 3/4 cup of almond butter, with a little smidge of macademia nut butter, since I didn’t have any sunbutter.  The title says it all – it was super moist and nice and chocolately.  I think you could even use less honey, and it would still taste great.

Cowboy Steak with Chimichurri Sauce – I used New York Strip steaks for this recipe (the recipe calls for “cowboy steaks.”  I have no idea what that is!!).  I used a fresh parsley and oregano from my garden, and the chimichurri sauce turned out delicious.  We don’t have high -quality olive oil in the house right now (just using the HyVee brand), but the sauce still turned out great.  Make this recipe!  You won’t be sorry!

And that was our week in food.  Now I need to jet to go by groceries for this week.  I think I’m going to try my hand at beet chips.  Wish me luck!

Week 4 of Meal Planning

So….here is another week of meals!

Leftover Sweet Potato Fries – As I mentioned in my last post, Tim added some tomatoes to the leftover chili, to help cut the spices.  While the chili tasted super good, it did NOT agree with the hlo belly!  My digestion was a little effed for like 3 days.  Evidently I cannot handle multiple tablespoons of hot spices in my food.  Lesson learned.

Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks with Turnip and Rutabega Fries (pg 159 of Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals) – These drumsticks were AWESOME!!  They were super easy, and they tasted like teriyaki chicken.  My only regret is that I bought a package of 5 drumsticks.  Next time I will buy a pack of 8 at least, so we’ll have some of these for leftovers.  Mark Sisson has the BEST recipes.  He puts a lot of pictures in his recipes, which is great for showing you how the food should look, but not so great for printing out a nice, concise recipe.  But I’ll take them however he wants to present them.  The fries were good too, I thought.  You basically cut the turnips and rutabegas into fry shape, microwave them for 8 minutes, and then bake them until they get crispy.  I chopped them up and sauteed them with other veggies for breakfast the next morning.  Super tasty.

Best Ever Chicken Wings -I’m not sure if I can agree with the name.  I mean, these were good, but they are not the “best ever.”  I think it boils down to, I just don’t really like sesame oil.  These were good, and we ate them all, but next time I might try to use a different oil.

Beef Brats – I picked up beef brats from Geest Farms at the Farmers Market weekend before last.  These were SUPER TASTY.  Would definitely buy, cook, and eat them again.

Gluten – You are my enemy, I think

We spent 5 days in NYC, eating and drinking our way through the city.  I did what I knew I shouldn’t do and ate whatever I wanted to – the justification being that “I’m on vacation!!  It’s NYC!  I should take advantage!”

As a result, I went from 128 to 131.6.  I’m ok with being 131.6, but I’m not OK with feeling bad from eating all the not-good-for-me food. So, to get back on the wagon again, in August I have 2 goals:

1.  Eat breakfast and supper at home every day.

2.  Absolutely no gluten.  No beer, no mysterious dressings, no ice cream.  Nothing.  No gluten.  I’m going to try to cut it out completely and see how my allergies are affected.

Wish us luck!

A Primal Primer

I’ve had a couple of friends who are interested in this whole primal/paleo thing.  So I thought I would write a quick post about how to get started, based on my 5 months of experience.  Here are my favorite books, sites, and primal/paleo products.

Good books

  • The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation – This is the first book I read, and it was a great, simple introduction to the primal lifestyle.  The author, Mark Sisson, doesn’t just talk about how to change your diet.  He talks about how to re-approach your life – get outside more, disconnect from technology, play, focus on the present, etc.  He also lays out a 21-day plan to help you get on the primal path.  I keep promising to send this book to my brothers, but I just can’t let it go.
  • The Paleo Solution:  The Original Human Diet – I just finished this book by Robb Wolf last week.  It’s a more technical, in-depth book on paleo.  If you want to understand the science behind why the paleo diet works, this is the book to read.  Robb also provides meal plans for 30 days and a pretty detailed weight lifting section.  It’s also a pretty funny read.


  • www.marksdailyapple.com – Mark Sisson’s blog – chock full of health information and good recipes.
  • www.robbwolf.com – Robb Wolf’s blog – also chock full of great information and resources.

Recipe Blogs:


Here is a list of the stuff I always like to have in the fridge or freezer:

  • Grass-fed ground hamburger (from our Farmer’s Market.  If you don’t have a local producer, you can buy it online from US Wellness Meats)
  • Frozen wild-caught salmon (from Target)
  • Canned tuna or sardines
  • Fresh veggies – spinach, kale, avocado, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peppers
  • Frozen fruit – excellent defrosted with some coconut milk drizzled over them
  • Pastured eggs
  • Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk
  • Nuts – Macademia nuts supposedly have the best omega 3 profile, but I find them a little rich.  I eat a lot of pistachios, almonds and walnuts.
  • Gerolsteiner Mineral water – good source of magnesium.
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil – I LOVE this stuff.  I put it in my coffee and cook with it all the time, and it’s the bees knees.
  • Dark chocolate – I love the Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Chips.  They don’t have a great cocoa content, but they are perfect for snacking.
  • Carlson Super D Omega 3 Cod Liver Oil
  • Magnesium Lactate

Keep all this stuff on hand, and you’ll have everything you need to make a tasty primal meal.

So, that’s an introduction in a nutshell!  Hopefully you found it somewhat helpful.