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Archive for April, 2012

Lots of people ask me how they are supposed to eliminate grains from their kids’ diets. This is a hard topic to answer for me especially since I did not have any kids. It’s easy to give answers, but with no experience to back it up, it was hard to empathize. Now that my daughter is 6 months old and starting to eat solid food, I thought it might be helpful to write about her eating habits in an effort to give support to those moms out there trying to do their best nutritionally for their children, but unsure exactly where to turn. (Note: I am not an expert and you should talk with your child’s pediatrician about your choices.)

As my daughter began to approach the 6 month mark, I started thinking about feeding her solid foods. I was bound and determined to not give her anything but breast milk until the day she turned 6 months old, but her curiosity and impatience won out. Every bite of food I put in my mouth she was grabbing and trying to eat it and would stare at my food the way a begging dog does at your feet. So, a couple weeks after she turned 5 months I caved.

As I dove deeper in my research of baby’s first foods, almost everything I read suggested that I had to start with rice cereal. As you know by now, I like to question conventional wisdom and knew that this didn’t have to be the only way. The main reasoning I found for starting with rice cereal was that it is (theoretically) an easier transition for baby than real food (taste & consistency). However, if you wait until baby is closer to 6 months to start eating food, they have usually developed the skills to eat a more textured food. It isn’t even necessary to make separate baby food. There may be times when buying jars of baby food may be the most convenient, but when you think about the fact that a large part is water (to maintain consistency) it really may not be the most cost effective. I found that just picking a vegetable we were having for dinner and mashing it to a consistency she could handle was the easiest approach. It also keeps us accountable for what we eat. If we are eating fries and a milkshake, we will obviously not have food to give her from our dinner.

Her first bite of real food was avocado. This is a great first food because it is high in fat, which baby needs, and nutritionally puts a whole bowl full of rice cereal to shame. The first few bites were definitely video worthy – hilarious. But, after a few bites she became curious and seemed to really enjoy it. I knew that it was best to wait a few days after introducing a new food to make sure she did not have any allergies, so I waited a few days then fed her more avocado and some carrots. This time, it was like she knew what was happening, she couldn’t wait to eat! She ate about 1/8 of an avocado and some steamed carrots I had mashed up with my fork, and loved it!

So by 6 months she has eaten avocado, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, cauliflower, spinach, banana, and sucked on a piece of apple that I was eating by grabbing it out of my hand! She just had her 6 month check up and she is growing right on track!

More updates to come as she grows…

What was your experience with feeding your little ones? What were some good first foods you tried or things you may have done differently?

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If you are like me, you haven’t eaten too many parsnips in your day. Recently, however, I came across a recipe from Sarah Fragasso from everydaypaleo which included these blonde looking carrots and I thought I would give them a try.

This native Eurasian root vegetable has been eaten since ancient times. A relative to the carrot, but unique in their spicy sweet taste, this winter vegetable requires low soil temperatures to acquire their flavor and is grown in sandy, silty, or rocky soil. While the root of the parsnip is edible, care must be taken when gardening them. Parsnips’ shoots and leaves contain a photosensitive chemical that can cause inflammation of the skin if protective clothing is not worn. The condition is a type of chemical burn which can cause redness, tingling, and blisters. So, as you enjoy the tasty vegetable you can be thankful for the gardener who endured this instead of you!

Although parsnips are a close relative of carrots, they are richer in vitamins and minerals, namely potassium and fiber. While they can be eaten raw, the most common uses are boiled or roasted. In some parts of the English speaking world, parsnips are a mainstay for a traditional Christmas meal and are often paired with the Sunday roast. They can also be fried or thinly sliced into veggie chips (definitely trying this soon!).

I found Sarah’s recipe Pan Seared Chicken with Curried Parsnips and of course did a little tweaking of my own and it was so good I made it 2 nights in a row!

So, now on to the recipe…

Ingredients

about 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs (I have started eating thighs more for the cost and they are much juicier and tender than breasts)

2-4 parsnips, peeled and chopped

2-4 carrots, peeled and chopped (optional)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 Bosc pear, peeled and diced (I didn’t have a pear the second time I made it and it was still very good)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

salt & pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions

1. In a large skillet melt the coconut oil.

2. While oil is melting cut up chicken thighs and season with salt & pepper. Once skillet is sizzling hot, place chicken into skillet and cook through.

3. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

4. In the same skillet, add another tablespoon coconut oil and add diced onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes.

5. Add parsnips (and carrots if using) and cook until parsnips start to brown (for me it was between 10-15 minutes).

6. Add garlic and pear and saute for another 2-3 minutes.

7. Sprinkle the curry powder all over the veggie mixture, pour in coconut milk and chicken broth, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue cooking until the parsnips and carrots are tender throughout and the sauce starts to thicken.

8. Top the mixture with chicken and let simmer for another few minutes.

Since I made it two nights in a row, we ate it by itself the first night and then with sauteed kale (in bacon fat, yum) the next.

Finished product!

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Walking into any grocery store check out line you are immediately bombarded with new fad diets and how some celebrity lost 20 pounds by “just eating ____”. Well, as we all know, somehow it worked for them, but it never works for us. The reason is because anyone can lose weight by just eating some miracle food, but for how long and at what cost? These fad diets may help you lose weight, but you end up with no energy and food becomes boring. Who wants to eat just lettuce or beans or whatever? Wouldn’t you rather lose weight, feel great, AND enjoy your food at the same time? Keep reading…

What is the primal lifestyle?

In short: eat meat and plants. That’s it. Eating a primal diet is simple. However, in our modern age, we are so reliant on processed and convenience foods (including items like cereal grains, packaged breads, bagels, etc.: see below) that it does take a bit of a paradigm shift to actually do this.

Short history of wheat

It wasn’t until roughly 10,000 years ago that humans started eating grains. These grains were very different from the grains we consume today. As a result of human intervention and the need to produce more wheat per acre, we have “invented” over 25,000 types of wheat.

The way we eat today has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000.  – Food, Inc.

The type of wheat we have been consuming over the past 50 years is the result of geneticist Dr. Norman Borlaug. This “dwarf” wheat is short, stocky, and fast growing. The problem is that this wheat was created as a result of genetic engineering and gene splicing ,which can’t even survive in nature without the use of modern fertilizers and pesticides.

Why you don’t want to eat wheat

Dr. Davis [Wheat Belly] recounts an experiment he conducted on himself to compare the different impacts of ancient wheat and modern wheat on his blood sugar. He managed to find some einkorn wheat [that most likely was eaten during biblical times] and made bread from it. Two slices of that bread raised his blood sugar from 86 mg/dl to 110. Not bad. Then he made bread from modern whole wheat – you know, the stuff the USDA says is the key to great health. Two slices raised his blood sugar from 84 mg/dl to 167. That’s diabetes territory. – Tom Naughton, Fat Head

That alone should raise a few eyebrows and cause you to turn away from wheat. If it doesn’t, here are more reasons. Wheat contains three anti-nutrients: lectins, gluten, and phytates.

Gluten is a protein found in grains that break down the lining of your small intestine. This break down eventually leeches food into your blood stream causing allergies, digestive issues, and autoimmune problems. Although some people noticeably suffer from this more than others (ie. Celiac disease), almost everyone has some sort of reaction to gluten. Lectins are mild toxins which inhibit the repair of your gastrointestinal tract. And phytates strip your body of nutrients. Wow, makes you want to grab that bowl of cereal right?

Today, as I said before we have convenience at our finger tips and greed has its hand in everything including the food industry. Just because the FDA puts their seal of approval on something does not make it gold. In fact, I might even question it more since they are funded by many of the food companies, so they often have a biased opinion.

Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains. – Mark’s Daily Apple

You are probably thinking: don’t I need the fiber? What about carbohydrates? How do you get your “whole grain”?

Fiber: You don’t need all the fiber you think you do. Ever wonder why that Fiber one cereal or extra fiber bread gives you stomach issues the rest of the day? It’s because the fiber you eat is actually banging up against the “cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and rupturing their outer covering” (study). Doesn’t sound too pleasant to me. You do need some fiber, but you get plenty from vegetables and fruits.

Carbohydrates: I’m sure you know this, but just in case: vegetables do have enough carbohydrates for your daily needs. It’s not just bread, pasta, cereal, and rice as the food pyramid tries to convince us.

Whole wheat: Many well intentioned people make the switch to whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta thinking they have made a significant stride in their health when in actuality, it’s really a moot point; both contain lots of sugar.

“Two slices of whole grain bread increase blood sugar higher than table sugar, higher than many candy bars… This leads to higher and more frequent rises in insulin, which, in turn, creates insulin resistance, the condition that leads to diabetes… Wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars.”                                 – William Davis, M.D. author of Wheat Belly

So, if you are feeling depressed after reading this, don’t. Once you eliminate grains from your diet, your tastes will change and you will no longer crave them the way you did before. It’s true! My taste for sugar has drastically decreased. I now drink unsweet tea (and being from the south that’s a big deal!) and even love the taste of plain greek yogurt! Trust me, as a recovering cereal-0-holic, several months into eliminating grains I had the urge to eat a bowl of cereal, cheerios and wheat chex, doesn’t sound too bad right? Not only did the taste not live up to what I remember, but within 30 minutes after eating it, I had a headache. Not worth it in my opinion!

So find some encouragement and take baby steps. I would suggest eliminating grains and wheat for 30 days and see how you feel. If you don’t notice a difference then you can go back to the way you were eating (I doubt that will happen), no loss there. I promise you won’t even feel like you are giving anything up after a while!

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These pancakes are not only tasty, but nutritious and easy!

Ingredients

1 egg

1 banana, mashed into a puree

1 tablespoon almond butter

Directions

1. Heat a skillet until it sizzles when a drop of water hits it.

2. Mix all ingredients together while skillet is heating.

3. Melt a little butter on the pan and cook like pancakes! (note: it does take a little longer to cook than regular pancakes)

Eat them plain or top with butter, berries (I have Costco’s frozen ones on hand at all times) or drizzle honey or pure maple syrup on top. This recipe makes about 4 pancakes.

Variations:

I usually add a teaspoon each of vanilla and cinnamon

I’ve also made pumpkin pancakes by adding half pureed pumpkin and half almond butter – great Fall treat!

 

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Nothing is better on a cold day than curling up on the couch with a hot chocolate. But, do you know what’s in your run of the mill hot chocolate mix? Here’s the list from a company that shall remain nameless: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Modified Whey, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Nonfat Milk, Calcium Carbonate, Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Carrageenan, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Artificial Flavor.

If you just got really confused and thought you were doing a science experiment, I’ll bring you back to reality. When you see how easy and tastier it is to make your own hot chocolate, you will have no need for the store brand powder. Here’s the simple ingredient list:

100% Cocoa powder

Milk (I use whole, much better taste)

coconut milk (lite) – key ingredient!

Honey to sweeten

Directions

1. In a medium sized mug pour half milk, half coconut milk. Heat in microwave for about a minute.

2. In a mixing bowl add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and add milk mixture. Use a wisk to mix the two well.

3. Pour your mixture back in the mug and reheat for another minute. Add Honey to sweeten.

Done. How easy was that? No more questionable hot chocolate powder in your future!

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I found this recipe via pinterest and did a little altering to make it primal and in my opinion, better!

Ingredients

2 whole red peppers

1 cup uncooked Quinoa or about 2 cups cooked

1/2 large onion, chopped very fine

4 roma tomatoes, chopped (or canned diced tomatoes)

cilantro

garlic powder

salt & pepper

olive oil (I used a garlic and onion olive oil, but plain is good too)

ground turkey, beef, or shredded chicken (optional)

parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut Red Peppers in half and scrape out seeds; leave stem on though. Coat inside and out with olive oil.

3. Cook peppers 15-20 minutes. While peppers are in the oven, cook the quinoa as instructed (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water).

4. When quinoa is finished, put in mixing bowl and add in onions, tomatoes, spices, and meat, if using.

5. Stuff the peppers with mixture and top with parmesan cheese, if using, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

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I absolutely love Costco. I love buying in bulk and knowing I’m all stocked up if I don’t have time to run to the store. I also love having a packed freezer so when I make my weekly meal plans I just go by what’s in there. So, if you are like me, you will love these great deals I’ve found lately!

Kerrygold Grass-fed cheese $5.99/lb

Kirkland’s organic cage free, antibiotic free eggs $6.99 for 2 dozen

Cox’s wild caught shrimp $16.99 for 21/25 count

Kirkland’s wild caught Alaskan Salmon $28.99 (maybe a little pricier than you thought, but the “wild caught” is the key – so much better for you!)

Maranatha all natural roasted Almond Butter $6.99 (it is at least two times this at the grocery store for a smaller container)

Kirkland’s raw almonds $10 for a 3 lb bag

Organic spinach $4 for 1lb

Kirkland’s Greek Yogurt $6.99 for 2 32oz. containers (great for smoothies!)

Organic frozen broccoli $6 (4 individual packs)

Let me know if you have found some deals and I will update as I find more!

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