Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Nope, I'm NOT "PC"... when I say Merry Christmas, I mean it.  I'm a Christian.  If you are not Christian, then I accept your views and I'll tell you "Happy... insert your holiday here".  However, being a Roman Catholic, I LOVE to hear "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Christmas" during these next two weeks. 
Mom bought this Nativity for me in 2005... love it!

Kings are on their journey!!

WHAT?  (you say)  TWO WEEKS???  Yep... these two weeks ARE the 12 days of Christmas.  I believe that from Thanksgiving (or around that time) until Christmas day it is Advent... that's the preparation for the coming of our savior, Jesus. 

So, once it's his birthday... it's now officially the Christmas Season.  NOW you'll hear me singing Christmas tunes and being really happy.  NOW you'll see baby Jesus in my nativity scenes around the house... what you won't see are the 3 kings within the nativity... spot them, they're farther away! 

My Snowmen Nativity... wise men are coming!!
Many of you know my college kiddo is 'home' for this next month!  YAY!!  He came home on the 18th and will stay a full 4 weeks!  So far, we haven't done much in Japan.  I seem to have a mental block on what we should DO.  We did go see the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa last week. 

My teen, college kiddo and me in front of the sake barrels

Teen's new profile pic!!

My precious young men.

We went to the Asahi Brewery next, but didn't go inside as we just couldn't figure that one out... we also saw a neat park on the way which had twisted metal and a memorial garden to those Tokyo residents who lost their lives during the bombing of Tokyo in WWII.

The plaque next to the flowers... it was very emotional for the boys as they really like Japan and it's people.

The flowers to the left of the plaque

The twisted metal...

Addison walking through the golden ginko leaves... yeah, it's winter...
Onward to the Tokyo Edo museum where I stumbled into having a free English-speaking guide woman... I thought when the sign said "Free Guide", it was a book.  Nope, a nice older Japanese lady took us around the museum for an hour and taught us about the Edo period. 

Replica of the Nihongashi Bridge and the boats

They had binoculars through which you could look at the models and they looked 'real'
 Hand-made replica with little people... no two were the same.  Each with a different outfit on and different hairstyles! 

The buildings were temporary structures to allow for evacuation, if necessary.  They were covered with the outside coverings of sake barrels... thus the symbols (I enlarged the last photo so you can see them). 
Temporary buildings...
Though this blog was intended mainly for the Paleo/Primal lifestyle... I just couldn't resist adding some family adventures in Japan!!  So... for this next month while my college boy is home, I'll be adding in those adventures.  I'll also post some recipes and let you know how I stayed 90% Paleo during his visit and over the holidays!  So... how does one eat Paleo after a long day adventuring through Tokyo??  Raw fish!!  Sushi/Sushimi.  YUMMY!!!
My guys at our favorite place, Santa Sushi! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Almond Butter and Brownies!!

Paleo-liscious Brownies:
I took a journey a week or so ago to find the 'best' Paleo brownies so that I could contribute to all the holiday parties…. well, partially true… so I could eat some desert AT these parties!! :) I found two recipes that struck my fancy, so baked each of them. My favorite is the non-coconut containing ones… however, for those who don't mind the taste of coconut, these brownies are the hands-down winners of the taste testing. So… needing more brownies for a culture group Christmas party tomorrow, I made the coconut ones.

Now, background on both recipes. They BOTH contain Almond Butter. My teen said "What the heck IS almond butter?" My answer was "its like peanut butter, but made using almonds instead of peanuts". Well… this commissary (military grocery store) has not had success yet in obtaining almond butter, so since I'd used the one jar I ordered from the states, I was on my own. I bought about 8 bags of 2 lbs of raw almonds with the intent to make almond butter… I even bought a food processor with this specific thought in mind!! Well… it works. Kinda. I googled "How to make almond butter" and got the advice to process two cups of almonds for 12 minutes until creamy. Easier said (or read) than done!! *sigh*

So… before I started making the brownies, I needed almond butter. So starts the journey…

As you can see from the video… it was a noisy process. It took WAY longer than 12 minutes and I worried over the processor the ENTIRE time!! 

 So… the first batch (yep, I did two batches) was processed for about 15 minutes.
Obviously, the first batch (on left) was a little chunkier than the second… 

The second batch was processed for about 18 minutes and is noticably more creamy.

My complaint is that it seems the almonds were too dry because neither is spreadable like the almond butter I had ordered online (the ingredient list said only 'almonds' as ingredients). 

Yes, I could have processed it for longer, but when I touched the almond butter inside the processor bowl, it was WARM. Yep, warm. Even though the sides of the motor assembly were cool, I was worried I'd burn it out.

BETTER BROWNIES: via FastPaleo, posted by MasteringPaleo .  Of course, I adjusted the amount by 3 times to make my batches as a simple 9 x 9 inch pan was just too small for a group of people!!  So… tripled, I filled two 9 x 13 inch pans!!  I also had only ½ the amount of coconut milk necessary, so added almond milk to make the total amount.  I'm writing the original recipe posted by Jessica at Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking… 

3 eggs
¼ cup almond butter
¼ cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
⅓ cup Honey
⅔ cup Canned Coconut milk (can substitute almond milk without problem!)
⅓ cup almond flour
⅓ cup coconut flour
⅓ cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅔ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine wet ingredients and mix until smooth.  In a separate bowl, mis the dry ingredients together.  Stir the dry into the wet until combined, then add chocolate chips.  

Pour batter into greased 9 x 9 inch pan (I used coconut oil for the grease, you can use organic butter).  

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Makes 18 brownies.  

Wanna triplicate them??  Since I did the math.. here ya go (with my modifications):

9 eggs
¾ cup Almond Butter
¾ cup Coconut Oil
2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Honey (organic, unfiltered)
1 cup Coconut milk
1 cup Almond milk
1 cup Almond Flour
1 cup Coconut Flour
1 cup Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Baking Soda
3 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 cups Mini Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Grease 2 9x13 inch pans and cook for 30 mins at 350 deg F.  

Zucchini Brownies:  via Fast Paleo , by "MichelleRock" 

Alternative brownies… made with zucchini and NO coconut… my kind of brownies!!  Yeehaw!  Needless to say, these are my favorite AND have NO flour… nope, not even almond or coconut!  Interesting how they rise well and seem like they have flour in them.  They are not as chocolatey as the coconut ones, nor as moist.  However, they do have a serving of veggies, so I feel less guilty eating them!  Ha ha!  Gotta remember, these DO have more sugar (read glucose and fructose) than I'm used to eating… therefore, they CAN put the weight back on.  Perhaps that's why I've stopped losing!!  ;)  

1 cup Almond Butter
1 ½ cup shredded zucchini
⅓ cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (I put these into the magic bullet and made the dark chocolate into powder!!  It made the brownies chocolate through-and-through.)  

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine all wet ingredients, the dry in a different bowl then add to the wet.  Bake 30 minutes in a 9 x 9 inch pan.  As you can see, the brownie is very cake-like.  Perhaps it'd be sweeter if I used the semi-sweets instead of dark chocolate… but I kinda like the less sweet taste of these.  

ENJOY!!  Happy baking!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Email to family and friends...

OK, this is a generic email sent out to friends/colleagues/family who have all expressed interest in how I'm losing weight and looking better (you've commented on my hair, skin and even eyelashes!!)… I'm NOT keeping it a secret, 'cause it's a cool lifestyle.  BUT, it was (and IS) a journey… this did not just 'happen', nor did it come easy… however, I figured since you asked me, I'll direct you to the blogs and books that helped me figure out how to eat this way.  

First… expect headaches and irritation, possibly anger, the first few days of not eating wheat/gluten.  It truly IS a drug to our system and you WILL experience withdrawal.  The BEST resource for wheat and gluten that I've found is William Davis, MD… the author of 'Wheat Belly'.  This is the book I'm carrying around with me right now and really is more like an enjoyably written science book.  He references a LOT and that gives me something else to read.  For now, I'll just say, it appears he's referencing properly and not taking things out of context.  He has great recipes in the back of his book and is great for those willing to try the first part of Paleo:  No grains.  Here's his blog link:
and the book can be ordered through Amazon.  

Next, the second 'hallmark' is NO beans/legumes.  I LOVE a good pot of chili, yep the kind with beans.  However, for years I've had to eat Beano prior to any meal with beans or… well, I might as well sleep on the couch!  Anyhow, after all the gallbladder pain, I've no desire to eat any more beans… however, its hard for many to give up that source of protein and fiber.  I'm not saying you gotta give them up… perhaps start with breads and pastas… but once you get reading, and after you're grain-free then eat beans and see how bloated your belly gets… well, you'll see… anyhow, here's great reading material for you:  

1.  The 'lowdown' on lectins on Mark's Daily Apple:

Limited dairy.  Paleo tends to be NO dairy, Primal is 'limited' and if you eat/drink it… better be grass-fed cows, no hormones and full fat.  I've been drinking skim milk for as long as I can remember, so instead of drinking full fat milk (yuck), I tend to drink more water these days.  Yogurt?  Yeah, I eat it… it's my one indulgence.  I do make sure there's no added sugars or sweeteners as I can add that myself.  

NO sugars!!  Let's face it, if you're cooking your own stuff, you don't add sugar to … pot roast.  But check out the ingredient listings at the grocery store!!  There tends to be high fructose corn syrup in EVERYTHING!!  Don't buy it!!  There's now ketchup at the commissary that has no HFCS!!  OK, it has sugar, but that's definitely the lesser of the two evils… I LOVE this guy and his explanation of fructose:  

Underground Wellness:  has a blog and many videos on youtube… here's the one on sugar:

My other go-to sites:
1.  Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragioso.  She has a facebook page, blog and book.  I have all 3!!  LOVE her!!
2.  Civilized Caveman Cooking by George… he's a hot Marine and knows how to cook!!  He has a facebook page and a blog, too.  
3.  Primal Palate:  blog and book… getting the book!!
4.  Fast Paleo… the blog on which we can all post our own recipes or look up something and gain a recipe from someone else!!  My 'go-to' place for recipes!!
5.  and lastly… my blog.  I'm silly, I'm cooking, I'm sharing recipes, I'm sharing internal thoughts, it's me… raw and on Paleo.  Be kind.  ;)     

The books I have and have read or are reading:
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf … entertaining AND informative, what else can you want?  Has 30 day eating plan at the end…
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson… direct, to the point, doesn't fancy-foot around… facts.  Also has a 30 day eating plan, but now he's come out with a second book that has a 21 day plan… his blueprint includes exercising
Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield - great recipes
Everyday Paleo - smallish explanations, but good recipes and excellent exercises
Wheat Belly by William Davies - what I'm reading now

Books I have and will read next:

Well, the dogs are hungry and it's time to push send… please do not hesitate to contact me if you need support!!  

My Story

Here I am, busting out of size 14 pants

My story:  This "lifestyle" is a journey that I was ready to take when I learned about it this past summer from my brother-in-law.  You all know how sick I got with my gallbladder.  What you don't know is how fastidiously I counted EVERY calorie that went into my mouth and every calorie that went out via workouts.  I also have a scale that tells me to 'keep' my current weight I have to eat at least 2200-2400 calories a day (somehow based on my height, age and weight).  Well, the app I was using, from, was telling me that to get to my 'target weight' by April 2011, I'd have to eat no more than 1150 calories a day (I got that app back in October 2010 as I was going to use our move to Japan as my time to lose weight and look better).  So… I tracked each and every calorie in and out.  Since we brought our treadmill, I walked on that if the weather was bad enough not to go outside and walk.  I was walking 1-2 miles a day and doing my workout videos 3-4 times a week.  Supposedly burning between 250 - 400 calories a day with exercise.  Meanwhile eating only around 1500 calories so that the math would 'work' and I'd lose weight.  That worked for about 5 pounds from Sept to Jan 2011.  

Getting Sick:  January 2011 was when I started 'getting sick'.  Middle of the month, my teen and I enjoyed some black bean dip with fritos while watching a movie… the same discomfort I'd been having in the late afternoon, early evening set in… a real dull ache that felt as though someone was slowly pushing their fist through my solar plexus to my backbone.  Well, that early evening, it got so bad I actually had Jon drive me to the ER after suffering for 45 minutes.  On the way, we got stopped for 10 MINUTES by the red light at the flight line.  I groaned and moaned in pain while my teen called hubby at work to tell him we were heading to the ER… by the time we got to the hospital 20 mins later, the pain had receded and I was about 85% better.  I decided to see the doc anyways and he promptly figured, based on my appearance and the fact that the bean dip was spicy, that I had indigestion.  Up my nexium to twice a day and go see my PCM next week.  We were on the way home by the time hubby even got to the ER.  

A few days later, hubby went TDY, and the pain came on again… this time I think from eating something with cheese and beans in it, my teen took me to the ER after I suffered at home over 1 ½ hours (I didn't want to hear it was just indigestion again).  Pain was the same, but more intense - most intense in the solar plexus area that radiated into my back and up my breastbone and around my ribcage now.  Well, not only did I personally know the doc, and was the only one in the waiting room, but since I was over 40, overweight and had chest pain along with the other complaints, I got seen right away.  Cardiac enzymes - perfect, EKG - normal, then the workup started for other things… ultrasound for gallstones - none, X-ray of belly for ?? - some constipation (yeah, what else was new??)… so, not finding anything beyond a little increase in my liver enzymes… the doc figured I was literally full of sh*t and gave me some fast-acting stuff to make me 'go'.  I went and the pain continued… so, after 6 ½ hours, I had my teen take me home and I just cried in bed until the pain receded, then slept for about 3 days.
GallBladder:  This time, I did my homework.  Went straight to WebMD.  It said I could have gallbladder stones/disease, cancer, etc… so, I started looking up gallbladder disease.  Hmmmm… the descriptions of where the pain comes was similar, if not spot-on… so then I found an awesome website:  The heavens opened and the angels starting singing!!  I FOUND my problem!!  She also had suggestions of foods to avoid and a tasty little treat to eat daily to help the gallbladder get healthy.  

beans, fat, eggs, pork, onions, fowl, dairy, wheat, nuts, corn, coffee, chocolate, tea, ice cream, red meat, carbonated water, tap water, fruit juice, turnips, cauliflower, colas, oats, sweeteners… did I miss anything?  HOLY CRAP!!  WHAT COULD I EAT?  Seriously, what could I eat that wouldn't hurt??  

cucumbers, beets, green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, avocados, vinegar, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, lemon, grapes, apples, berries, omega 3 oils - not cooked, and vegetable juices.  

OK… I was SO desperate NOT to have pain again, I'd try ANYTHING (except painkillers as I hadn't any of these… nope ER docs didn't give me any).  So during this time, I was still diligently writing down all I ate and figuring out the calories, fat/carb/protein amounts.  So… on my best days I got to 1000 calories, 18% protein, 60% carbs, and 22% protein.  On my worst days is was 800 calories, 21% fat, 54% carbs, and 25% protein.  What you don't see is the numbers for the percentages… that particular day, I was at 19 grams fat, 113 grams carbs 52 grams protein… it was sashimi, rice, crackers, yogurt, turkey meat, cucumbers, beets, and actually angel food cake with strawberries - no cream.  My portion sizes were tiny and I was … amazingly, losing weight.  

I continued to get sick and eat foods I didn't realize were on the "do not eat" list (pinto beans, wheat, red meat, water) and got sicker.  By the time the surgery happened, I was seriously eating just beets, cucumbers and apples as they didn't hurt!!  But, I was in constant low-level pain.  

So, from January 2011 to 1 April 2011 (date of surgery), I lost 8 pounds.  That, combined with the initial 5 pounds = 13 pounds.  Sad.  I had to REALLY restrict my eating, can't say exercise a lot because once I got sick, it was everything I could do to get outside and walk 30 minutes every other day… 2-5 times a week, just to lose 8 measly pounds!!  Sad.   

Anyhow… once I had the surgery, I felt a whole lot better!  The 3rd day afterwards, I ventured outside and walked about 15 minutes.  Took a monster nap afterwards, but it felt great to move.  I also experimented with eating a little more and it didn't hurt.  Yay.  Nope, wasn't going to eat beans.  

So, April through June was counting calories, not eating beans, but pretty well my Standard American Diet (SAD).  I dropped 3 more pounds.  I was back to 25% fat, 60% carbs and 15% protein.  And that was a "low fat", whole wheat type SAD!!  I was still conscious of what I ate and tried hard to eat what I was 'supposed' to eat via the FDA guidelines.  Wheat-something at each meal… oatmeal or wheaty cereal for breakfast, sandwich of turkey breast, tomato, lettuce, no mayo for lunch, and lean meat, veggie, brown rice for dinner.  I was being GOOD.  Why the heck couldn't I continue to lose weight?  Well, I guess I was… about 1 ½ to 2 pounds per month since the surgery… *sigh*

NOT a flattering photo..
YAY!  It was time, mid-June to go to the states and have a real vacation!!  I brought my eating rules with me… LOW sat/0 trans fat, high fiber, NO beans… I was happy.  Then, my mother-in-law mentioned something about this Paleo thingy… eh, wasn't too impressed.  But when my brother-in-law came to visit, he talked to me GOOD.  We sat for almost an entire afternoon and he told me about his health journey and finding the Paleo/Primal lifestyle.  He showed me the blogs and websites and books I could read.  I sat down with Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution right then… it was my mother-in-law's book, but I devoured as much as I could in a few days.  She showed me how to cook and he talked to me about the horrors of grains, sugars and beans/legumes.  I, literally, ate it up!  By the time the vacation had me and my teen going to my parents, I was a newbie Paleo.  I bought spaghetti squash so that we could try it as noodles and I rejected all grains, except corn on the cob… 'cause, well, it was fresh (and I was on vacation, and I hadn't yet read about how genetically hybridized corn is….).  My family thought:  "Here she goes again, on another one of her crazy elimination diets…"  But, my mother, as usual, was willing to support me and keep me eating 'right' while in their house.  :)  

JAPAN:  Normal life resumes when we get back 'home' on July 30th.  I purged a lot out of the pantry and I decided to truly "go Paleo".  I bought the book on my iPad AND a paper copy from Amazon.  We started eating more red meat, and saturated fat.  *gasp*  SAY ITS NOT SO!!!  Yep… on the Paleo, you get to eat saturated fat along with your monounsaturated fats.  I continued to read everything I could, from blogs to facebook pages, to books… I got on the Gary Taubes (Good fats, bad fats) 'cholesterol is good for you' bandwagon and ditches ALL grains in my diet.  Yep, corn and rice, too.  I also tossed or gave away all canned beans and bags of beans for soups.  I bought coconut flour (yep, ME and coconut… hell DID freeze over!!) and almond flour and started experimenting with ways to cook.  I started cooking up bacon and reserving the drippings for use in other meals.  A typical caloric day?  Let's see… between 1400 - 2000 calories and approximately 40-45% fat, 25-30% protein, and 30% carbs (the kind you get from veggies!!).  NONE of my fats are trans fats, a little of them are Poly unsaturated fatty acids (but NEVER canola oil or safflower oil anymore!!) and most are saturated fats and mono unsaturated fatty acids… uncooked nut or olive oils and cooking uses bacon grease or coconut oil.  
Karaoke and Dancing with the gals

So, my birthday in September… I was down another 10 pounds.  Yep… in about 6 weeks.  I'd say that's healthy weight loss… about 1 ½ to 2 pounds a week.  Just comparing my arms from the first photo to now… makes me proud.  Yeah, the 'girls' are getting smaller, too… oh well.  I'm getting healthy and have a LOT of energy.  The only time I hurt is when I cheat and eat out… soy sauce can cause bloating all over and stomach upset for an entire day afterwards.  I am on the look-out for wheat/gluten free packets of soy sauce!!  (so I can bring my own and not cause any hard feelings)

How much is that now??  Well, in September, that was 25 pounds.  I'm proud to say that now… December 1st, it's 6 more pounds, equalling 31 pounds.  Right now I'm 'playing' with about 4 pounds… off, then back on, then off again, and back on… I think it's the fact that I made and ate 'cornbread stuffing' (almond meal in place of corn meal) and am experimenting with baking using coconut flour and almond meal/flour.  That causes caloric consumption to rise… and even though I'm not a calorie counter anymore… it's still more food in the body.  Will I let these 4 pounds define me?  Hell no.  I'm going to stick to my 'rules' and continue the path I started over the summer.  Life is good.  I get compliments on my skin, hair, shoot… even my EYES!  Ha ha!  I think I'm full of life, too!  

November 18, 2011
Changes on Paleo:  clear skin (blemishes are usually related to consumption of soy sauce or other gluten-containing food), bowel regularity (yay!! first time in my life for that!), no abdominal pain (except some burning in the gallbladder region when I'm VERY hungry… I attribute that to the bile pouring directly into my small intestine now), less arthritic pains, and 90% reduction in migraines!!  I also have no depression anymore… I've struggled with that for years and I'm just … HAPPY.  :)  

Well, that's MY journey… so far… 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Debi's First Paleo Thanksgiving!!

SUCCESS!!  Though I gave in and made my hubby and teen 'real' mashed potatoes and stuffing, I made Paleo versions for me and I thought they were delicious!!  My teen tasted mine and LOVED them, too.  He just said he likes the "old kind" better.  Ha ha!!

Here's what our Paleo/Non-Paleo Thanksgiving table looked like:
From left top to right bottom:  Paleo "Cornbread" Stuffing, Mashed Cauliflower, Acorn Squash, turkey gravy, Cranberry Relish, Brussel Sprouts and Bacon, Mashed Potatoes, Turkey, Traditional Stuffing


Deep Fried Turkey (hubby did this!!)
Old Fashioned Sausage Stuffing - Mother-in-law's original recipe and Paleo version
Mashed Potatoes and Mashed Cauliflower
Acorn Squash
Brussel Sprouts and Bacon
Cranberry Relish (from
Turkey Gravy

PALEO "OLD FASHIONED SAUSAGE STUFFING":  (original ingredient in brackets)
1 pound sausage (the kind in the tube like ground meat)
1 tart apple - peeled and chopped
½ cup chopped selery
1 onion chopped
½ Tbsp Poultry Seasoning (or equal amts sage and thyme)
pepper and sea salt to flavor
1 Tbsp clarified bacon grease or ghee (margarine)
½ cup nuts, chopped - walnuts are my choice!!
8 cups almond bread cubes (regular bread) - I halved this part as I made two different pans of stuffing, ½ Paleo/ ½ traditional...
2 ½ to 3 cups chicken stock

IF you are a super prepared person, you can cut up the bread cubes the day prior… if you're like me, cut them up and put them into a pan, set in the oven at 250 deg F for an hour or until hard.  If you're prepared, you can do this a day ahead without the oven… just cut up and put in the pan and let go stale.  I like the flavor of the heated bread cubes… alway have.  (for the recipe of the almond bread, click this link).

Cook sausage meat in non-stick pan.  Remove from pan and save dripping in pan to which you'll add the grease or margarine for next step.

Cut up onion, celery and apple.  In the tablespoon of grease or butter, cook onion and celery until clear and tender.  Add to bread cubes.  Add apple chunks to bread cube mixture, too.

Sprinkle seasoning, pepper and salt over the cube mixture and mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle chicken stock over bread cube mixture and make sure all cubes get slightly moist.

"Cornbread" (Almond Bread) Stuffing
Traditional - used wheat bread cubes and no celery

Cover and place in oven, cook for 1 hour at 325deg F.

Cranberry Relish: (adapted from Paleo Comfort Foods)

12 ounces fresh cranberries (pick out yuckie ones!)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped small (I used one Fuji and one Jonagold)
1 lemon's zest
1 orange's zest
Put picked-ver cranberries in a medium saucepan
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks

I was lazy… I food processed the apples!!

The apples and cranberries.

Add apples to cranberries in a medium saucepan, then add the zest, orange juice and water.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Sauce should thicken somewhat.

The zest, orange juice and water added.

After 15 minutes of simmering… 

Place in refrigerator and serve cold after removing cinnamon sticks.  I, of course, did not prepare this ahead of time, so I was speed cooling in the freezer.  It was still excellent.  It earned thumbs up from all, even picky hubby!!

Acorn Squash: Slice two acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Sprinkle cinnamon inside them and turn them open-side down in glass baking dish, put in ¼ to ½ cup water and cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 30 mins at 400deg F.

Turkey Gravy:  As I did not have kuzu or arrowroot powder, I did have to go decidedly unPaleo (but still gluten-free) by making gravy with cornstarch.  I used homemade turkey broth and had it on hand in the freezer.  If you cooked your turkey in the oven, you probably have a TON of drippings… use these.  Put turkey drippings in medium saucepan, add salt and white pepper to taste and bring to boil, in a separate small bowl, put in 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (or other thickener) and liquify with about ¼ cup water.  Pour this slowly into the boiling turkey drippings, stirring the entire time.  This thickens quickly, so remove from heat before it burns or gets clumpy.  If you added too much cornstarch, it WILL thicken too fast and clump, so have extra water on hand for 'just in case'.

Mashed Cauliflower:  I have been DYING to make this!!!  I just bought a food processor and now HAVE THE POWER to mash ANYTHING I desire!!  So… I did!!  As you noted above, I used it for the apples… that was fun!!  I also had the wrong sausage on hand for the stuffing… so I cooked the links (the kind without the coating, though) then processed the h*ll out of them!!  Needless to say, I was READY by the time I got to this recipe!!

HOW TO MAKE:  Take 1 head of cauliflower (I only needed ¼ as I only made this for me).  Cut off center stem and into huge chunks… then, steam the cauliflower in the microwave for 7-9 mins depending on microwave power.  Carefully (so you don't burn your fingers like I did), put into food processor.  Add 2-3 Tbsp butter and ¼-⅓ cup milk/cream/almond milk/whatever milk you want and process on low speed.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I didn't add either as the butter was the salted kind and I felt that was enough sodium for me.  

Brussel Sprouts and Bacon:
My freakin' favorite!!

1 bag frozen brussel sprouts
6 pieces bacon (uncooked and low sodium)
salt and pepper to taste

While you microwave your brussel sprouts 5-6 minutes, cut up bacon into small strips and cook in small frying pan.  Once brussel sprouts are cooked and bright green, cut into halves and quarters (for the bigger pieces) and place in small glass dish.  Once bacon is crispy, pour bacon and grease over brussel sprouts and mix all up.  Salt and pepper to taste and put in oven at 325deg F for 10-15 minutes (since the stuffing uses this temp, and it was already in the oven, that's what I used!).

So… how did it turn out?  Without having you go back to the top and look at the spread again, here's my plate:
Clockwise from top:  Mashed cauliflower with gluten-free gravy, "cornbread" Traditional Stuffing, white meat turkey, cranberry relish, brown meat turkey, brussel sprouts and acorn squash in the middle.  
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pulled Pork

As I peruse many Paleo blogs and websites, I come across many, many recipes I'm dying to try… one of which was "Big Tim's GROK Pulled Pork" off the Fast Paleo recipe sharing webpage.  I've only done tomato-based pork or beef roasts… so this was a first for me, AND an eye-opening experience because after 22 years of marriage, I just found out my hubby prefers the vinegar-based pulled pork!!  Well… I definitely continue to learn something new everyday!

As per usual, I made some adaptations to fit my taste buds and what spices and such I had on hand… so without further ado, here's the Baby PT version!!

Crockpot Pulled Pork:

3-6 lb pork shoulder
1 medium to large white onion (if it's not burning your eyes as you're cutting it, it's NOT hot enough!!)
1 medium diakon (white radish or turnip)
1 cup baby carrots cut up into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp sea salt
1 ½ tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic (I used fresh, minced)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp curry powder (our teen prefers that I omit this next time!)
1 tsp ground clove (he also requested omit this too… hubby and I both liked it in)
1 tsp tumeric
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Set pork shoulder on counter to bring to room temp while cutting veggies and onions.

Mix together vinegar, water and all spices.

In cast iron skillet or other large skillet, melt ¼ cup ghee or clarified butter and sear pork on each side for 2-3 minutes.  Put the seared pork into the crock pot, arrange the veggies around it (not on it) and pour in the spice mixture and cover.

Cook either 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.  Remove pork from crockpot and shred using forks or whatever your preferred method of pulling apart the pork grain and place back into crockpot.  Serve directly from crockpot.

Since this has no green veggies and we all like our greens, we'll either have a salad or green beans on the side.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Primal Pyramid

Food Pyramid from a Primal Perspective:

This pyramid can be found in the new 21 Day Total Transformation by Mark Sisson.  This pyramid pretty well speaks for itself, doesn't it?  'nuff said.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I LOVE chocolate and I LOVE bacon…

Bacon and Chocolate… together

Huh?  Now, first off… I was one of those people who used to shy away from bacon.  Bacon I secretly loved… because it was "BAD" for me.  Why was it bad for me?  Well, gosh, everyone said it was!!  I mean, they'd done research to prove it was bad for me, right?  Well, as I'm now finding out… no.  "They" never did research to prove it was bad for me.  However, if you google "Is bacon bad for me?", you'll get directed toward WebMD.  Here's what they have to say about bacon:

Just How Unhealthy Is Bacon?
You probably won't be surprised to learn that 68% of bacon's calories come from fat, almost half of which is saturated. Each ounce of bacon contributes 30 milligrams of cholesterol (not to mention the cholesterol from the eggs that often accompany bacon.
Eating foods rich in saturated fats can raise your cholesterol levels, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. And if those saturated fat-rich foods are also high in dietary cholesterol, cholesterol levels tend to rise even higher.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to less than 7% of your total calories (that’s less than 16 daily grams of saturated fat for someone eating 2,000 calories a day). So under those guidelines, it might seem sensible to occasionally enjoy a small amount of bacon, or switch to turkey bacon, which is lower in fat and cholesterol.
But here's the bad news: When it comes to increasing the risk for certain cancers, things get downright scary for bacon lovers. Not only is bacon considered a red meat, it’s also a member of the dreaded "processed meat" group (even turkey bacon falls into this category. And NO amount of processed meat is considered safe to eat, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Sigh… So, it is bad for me??  You know me… where are the missing citations to prove it's bad for me??  Well, bacon, or saturated fat (which is what gives bacon the 'bad' name) isn't bad for me… not according to many modern researchers, one of whom is Dr. Michael Eades and his physician spouse, Mary Dan Eades.  They espouse the virtues of protein, which we all know comes with fat if you get it from an animal source.  Drs. Eades have written many books, one of which is Protein Power, a book about how higher protein diets really are healthier than the low fat/high carb ones pushed on us by the American Heart Association and other medical establishments.  On his website and blog, Dr. Eades explained the lipid hypothesis in very understandable terms:  
In simplistic terms the lipid hypothesis is as follows:
a) cholesterol and/or fat in the diet leads to cholesterol and/or fat in the blood;
b) cholesterol and/or fat in the blood causes plaque formation in the arteries and, consequently, heart disease; and, therefore
c) cholesterol and/or fat in the diet causes heart disease.

From Wikipedia:  
The lipid hypothesis was one of two hypotheses (the other being the chronic endothelial injury hypothesis) developed in the 1850s to explain the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. It proposes a connection between plasma cholesterol level and the development of coronary heart disease.
It was proposed by the German pathologist Rudolf Virchow in 1856 and suggested that blood lipid accumulation in arterial walls causes atherosclerosis

Of course, the 'worst' part of bacon is the high cholesterol, right?  For you geeks who like scientific reads like I do, read Mark's Daily Apple for his insight on cholesterol and the lipid hypothesis.  He really does an awesome job on explaining why, in the 1950s with an upsurge in heart disease, American scientists looked at the blockages and damaged arteries and found cholesterol and fatty deposits that caused them to point their fingers at the American diet rich in FAT and Cholesterol.  Thus, bacon bad.  What I LOVE about MDA is that he then goes on to explain the chains of the fat and the density of the lipids and how we should really be looking at the fat and cholesterol sizes instead of the saturation levels and the body's inflammation.  It's really worth a read.  

Anyhow, the more I get into the Paleo/Primal diet and lifestyle, the more I realize that I CAN enjoy bacon… grease and all.  So, when I was online yesterday and saw TWO recipes for chocolate covered bacon… my knees went weak.  I knew I HAD to make some!!  I admit, there was the initial… Ew factor of thinking of the saltiness of bacon and the sweetness of chocolate… but then I though about it again.  Salty and sweet.  DARK chocolate and bacon… ruminating over that also got my husband's taste-buds watering!!  So… here goes!!

Dark Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Covered Bacon:
15 pieces of bacon (uncooked)
6 squares of dark chocolate (I used 65% cacao, thus needed no more sweetener)
2 tsp coconut oil
finely chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts

Put bacon on wooden skewers and bake in 425 deg F oven for 20 mins.  

Meanwhile, slowly melt the 6 squares chocolate with the 2 tsp coconut oil in the microwave in a bowl, stirring often.  It took mine 1 full minute, but stirring every 20 seconds.  

Spoon chocolate onto the bacon (I put the skewer into the bowl and spooned the chocolate onto the bacon by dripping it down and painting it with the spoon) and set into pan lined with wax paper with end of skewer up on lip on pan.  Before chocolate sets, sprinkle with macadamia nuts.  

Now that I had desert done… what was for my Paleo dinner that hubby would enjoy, too?  

Well, since I had defrosted an entire package of bacon, I cut the remaining bacon into 3 inch strips and laid them over 4 thawed chicken breasts, covered with tin foil (uncovered the last 10 mins) and roasted them for 35 mins in a 400 deg F oven while roasting a Japanese pumpkin (kinda tastes like our sweet potatoes mixed with acorn squash) for 40 mins.  Steamed up some fresh broccoli and VOILA!!  Dinner in less than an hour!!  

With my new health food, BACON for desert!! 

Friday, November 4, 2011


Coconut:  Those who know me, even just a little bit, know that I HATE coconut.  I mean, the smell, taste and texture.  I even would tell people I was allergic to it, I disliked it so much.

Then… I went Paleo.  Holy crud, the stuff is EVERYWHERE.  Almost every recipe I find on the Paleo and Primal sites has coconut oil, milk, cream, flour, sugar, meat, flakes… you name it, it's in there!!

So… after 3 months of being Paleo, I bought flour.  I made pancakes.  They didn't taste like coconut!!  AND, the best part?  I GOT TO EAT PANCAKES!!!  Next, I made (or tried to make) bread… well, I'll redo that sometime after I get arrowroot powder as you CANNOT (contrary to what I found online) substitute 1:1 arrowroot powder with Xantham gum…

Next, I found coconut oil in the grocery store… poured some in the pan for frying up some fish fillets and, though it stunk like a beach, there didn't seem to be any coconut taste on the fish!!

I have milk and cream in my pantry now… just waiting to find the right recipe to try.  I'll definitely post whatever I make with it.  I may do a pumpkin pie recipe I found online… we'll see.

So, why coconut??  How the heck does it make into flour, oil or sugar??  Isn't it the 'bad' oil that theaters banned??  Let's check it out what the Coconut Research Center has to say about Coconut (I'm being lazy, so the below is directly from their website, which you can link to above):
(Cocos nucifera)  The Tree of Life 
The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers. 

I firmly believe, after researching grains and the unhealthy physical effects they have on our human systems, Pacific Islanders did not have diseases like diabetes, obsesity, thyroid disease, heart disease, etc. until grains were brought to them. Prior to that, they used coconut for everything.  Now, our modern medical establishment is finding out, through laboratory research, that the oil, milk and husk of the coconut IS healthy and has benefits beyond just nutritional goodness.  Read on (also from the CRC site):

Coconut In Modern Medicine

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
  • Dissolves kidney stones.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Helps control dandruff.
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.

WOW!!  Now, isn't it worth me looking into how my body could benefit from all coconut has to offer??  (I'd call this a 'no-brainer' and say "YES")  Specifically look at the oil from the coconut.  Banned by theaters… makes no sense to me!!  (the below is again from the CRC website, but the bold type is my emphasis and the photos placed by me)

Coconut Oil
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.
Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That's quite a remarkable statement. What makes coconut oil so good? What makes it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?
The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.
The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.
MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.
Next, you have GOT to read this article:  How a PR Campaign Led to Unhealthy Diets By Beatrice Trum Hunter  It is WAY too long for me to post on this blog, but is truly worth the read.  WHY did theaters start banning it from popcorn and using vegetable oil instead?  Vegetable oil that oxidizes at high heats (yep, those needed to pop open a kernel are pretty high) and are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which we are learning are not healthy for our bodies.

Well, that's all for today's blog… I hope I've changed your mind about the humble coconut and that you'll join me on my journey to explore it's place in my (and your) diet.