Archive for January, 2012

Paleo Challenge: Week 2

January 30, 2012

Now that we have a full 14 days of Paleo eating under our belt I have to say that the second week was definitely easier than the first week. Eating nothing but meat and produce is starting to actually feel normal. Sure, we occasionally have little cravings for things like bread or sweets {particularly when going out to eat and we have to watch our friends enjoy the free bread} but I’ve found that the saying “out of sight, out of mind” can’t be truer. When we eat at home {which is 98% of the time} we have access to tons of great things to munch on but it’s when we go out into the non-Paleo world that we are surrounded by temptation. Slowly but surely I’m starting to see those “temptations” for what they truly are {sugary, carbo-loaded & processed} and they are becoming less and less tempting.

Whenever we do go out to eat it’s been kind of fun to find things on the menu that we can have. So far we’ve been to a steakhouse-type restaurant and a Mongolian grill; it’s pretty easy to order a steak and vegetables at a steakhouse and at the Mongolian grill we simply loaded up on the good stuff and skipped the noodles.

The best part about going Paleo, for me, has been all of the cooking that I’ve gotten to do. So far we haven’t repeated any recipes as we’re trying to avoid boredom and burnout which means I’m constantly searching the web for new ideas. Here are a few recipes that we have tried and absolutely loved:

Chili – I made this in our slow cooker and threw in any leftover chopped up vegetables that I had in the refrigerator. Seriously the best chili I’ve ever had.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – This made a ton of pulled pork and we ate it throughout the entire week…we made lettuce wraps with tomato and avocado, threw some in our scrambled eggs for breakfast or just ate it by itself. I love recipes that are versatile like this one.

Pulled pork lettuce wraps with tomato and avocado

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Bacon – Neither of us had ever tried Brussels sprouts before and this recipe definitely made us Brussels sprouts lovers.

Stir-fried Kale & Bacon – Kale is one of those things that I know I should eat because it’s good for me but I don’t really like how it tastes. Adding bacon actually made it taste yummy!

Roasted Carrot Fries – I was super skeptical about these but I went ahead and gave them a try and I’m sooo glad that I did because they taste EXACTLY like sweet potato fries, no kidding.

Bun-less burgers and roasted carrot fries

Fruit Leather – Just like fruit roll-ups except they are 100% real fruit. From now on every time I see strawberries on sale I’m going to get a bunch and make this.

Bacon & eggs, our typical breakfast

The only downside to going Paleo has been our increased grocery bill :( it’s gone up about 50-60%. Initially that’s pretty tough to swallow but I guess I’d rather pay the price for healthy food now than pay the price of eating unhealthy food later, right? Right.

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Paleo Challenge: Week 1

January 23, 2012

On the 15th Mark and I began a 30 day Paleo challenge and so far it has been just that, a challenge. The Paleolithic lifestyle is pretty simple: eliminate processed, man-made foods and focus on getting nutrition from whole, unprocessed foods {aka: REAL food}. On this diet we get to eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit and nuts and we exclude breads, rice or grain of any kind, dairy, legumes and all things sugary. It may seem crazy to give up the conventional food pyramid with its suggested 6 or more daily servings of grains but the more we researched and considered Paleo the more it began to make sense.

This all-inclusive post from FITBOMB goes deep into the details of how our bodies are made to consume certain foods and how the American carb and sugar-laden diet is slowly changing our bodies for the worse. It’s a crazy long post but it’s worth the read if you’re interested in knowing more.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far from this Paleo lifestyle change:

  • Fat = friend…consuming a higher than “normal” amount of good fats does not automatically mean you will die from heart disease. There’s nothing wrong with using your leftover bacon fat to saute the next meal’s onions in.
  • If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not, don’t…when your food choices are all healthy ones, your body will tell you when it needs more.
  • Carbs were calling the shots…the first couple of days into our Paleo challenge I had a constant, dull headache and I felt nauseous at times; I could just feel my body pouting, saying ‘Hey! What’s going on? I want some bread!’
  • Temptation will lead to failure…we removed all temptation by ridding our entire apartment of non-Paleo foods; out of sight, out of mind.
  • Preparation & planning are key…I printed off a calendar and every Sunday I plan out our meals for the week, make a grocery list and go grocery shopping.

Now, do we plan on living with a strict Paleo diet for the rest of our lives? Maybe! It all depends on how we feel when day 30 rolls around. They say it will take about 2 weeks for your body to fully adjust from a carb-based diet to a fat-based diet so hanging in there for an entire month is important. My guess is that we’re going to feel amazing and thanks to this 30 day challenge our meals in the future will be more centered around meats and vegetables instead of grains and sugars. Here’s hoping that weeks 2, 3 and 4 are just as great as week 1 has been!

New Year’s ReVolutions

January 10, 2012

I love the beginning of each new year; I always find myself filled with so much hope and excitement about making a few overdue changes and adjustments in my life. Edie says it better than I know how…

“I am a complete sucker for a fresh start. The new year is like manna from heaven.

I’m overwhelmed with list-making and dream-seeking and soul-searching. Hope swells and washes the memory of past failures clean.

I couldn’t care less that I’ve made this list 20 times before and didn’t follow through with it.

As a matter of fact, this tendency toward renewal and resolution  wasn’t even our idea.

We borrowed it from our Father who promised new mercies every morning and fresh starts ‘seventy times seven’ times.

I completely believe deep down in my heart that this year will be different. You couldn’t convince me otherwise if your life depended on it.”

Amen sister. What an amazing attitude to adopt…who cares if there are those few resolutions that appear on my list year after year, it’s OK to fall short because there will always be another fresh start, in Jesus.

I’m a list-maker at heart so I never miss the yearly opportunity to compose a list of self improvements and 2012 was no different. Except this time it was a little different; I wanted to shoot higher than I ever have before, I wanted to “make resolutions with reckless abandon.” So I did.

– Always be joyful, inside and out. {1 Thess. 5:16}

– Pray continually; be thankful for every tiny gift. Set aside time with God daily. {1 Thess. 5:17-18}

– Live healthy: be active, eat more veggies, drink more water.

– Read at least 20 books…feed your brain!

– Be in the moment, relish this chapter of your life.

– Explore new hobbies.

– Use your God-given talents to serve others. {1 Peter 4:10}

– Love more intentionally.

Here’s to a wonderfully blessed 2012.

Christmas Time

January 5, 2012

Christmas 2011 was jam-packed with family, friends and fun. It’s always nice to be able to spend a good amount of time with both of our families and I am incredibly grateful that Mark doesn’t have to work between Christmas and New Years.

We spent the first few days of our holiday vacation in Rogers with my family. Once again the annual Christmas Eve barn service was cold, wet and muddy; to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way, it’s kind of a tradition now. We also got to hang with our favorite fat cat, Jack…if you received a Christmas card from my parents you already know but Jack has officially changed residences. He is much happier living in a big house with more room to roam and he loves to go outside and climb trees and hang with his other kitty friends. My parents are quite smitten with him and I don’t think they would give him back even if we asked. He still loves when we come to visit though and we found out that he especially loves Christmas trees…

…and tissue paper. He played in our giant paper pile for hours and even took a nap hiding beneath the crumpled sheets.

Though the weather was a little icky during our stay in Rogers we made the best of it. On the 26th my mom and I went shopping all day while the boys went to see a movie and go bowling. I always love looking at the discounted Christmas decor and for once I splurged on some pretty ornaments at Marshall’s. My mom and I had so much fun spending the day together :)

This year I was inspired by some snow globes made using bottle brush trees in mason jars from Anthropologie. I couldn’t quite handle their $30 price tag so I made some of my own to give out as little gifts to Mark’s coworkers and some family friends. They were so simple to make!

After spending a few days in Rogers we headed to Houston to be with Mark’s family for New Years. When we got there the table was cleared and covered in puzzle pieces…they had a puzzle made from our family picture taken on Memorial Day. It turned out to be a lot harder than it looked and we finally completed it at 2:15am on January 1st! We all decided that this needed to become a tradition so we took a picture of ourselves with the finished puzzle and a puzzle of that picture will be made to be worked on during our July 4th trip up to camp in Maine. Once that puzzle is finished we’ll take a picture with it, and so on and so on…

While in Houston we stayed pretty busy; we assembled Logan’s new bike, we went indoor rock climbing, I went to a painting class, Mark played golf, we watched some movies and got lots of great quality family time!