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Archive for May, 2012

So after you threw away all of your cheetos, store bought ice cream, and cereal you got a little hungry mid day and are rummaging through your pantry trying to find something to satisfy that sweet or salty tooth. Here are a few tasty ideas to get you through those panic moments so you don’t run to the nearest store for doughnuts (my weakness):

Yogurt, berries, and dark chocolate  

Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and good bacteria for your gut (make sure you get the kind that says ‘live active cultures‘). Berries are just delicious and full of antioxidants. And dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher)… I don’t think I have to convince you here, is also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants basically serve as scavengers in our body to eat up all of the free radicals or the damaged cells (which is a good thing!).

Apples/Banana, Almond Butter, & cheese

Almond Butter pancakes

Cottage cheese & fruit

Almond Protein bars 

I got this recipe from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking and it is a favorite with us! I used almond butter instead of peanut butter. I make a double batch of these and freeze them for a quick and easy snack (usually 5 minutes out of the freezer is plenty of time) on the go.

Primal Trail Mix

We got this idea from Mark at Mark’s Daily Apple and my husband takes this with him on all of his camping/hiking trips. Take walnuts/almonds/any other kind of nut or seed (other than peanuts b/c remember they are a legume) and pour melted coconut over the top with a drizzle of honey. Place in the refrigerator until coconut oil is solid and break up and eat!

Kale chips

Tear leaves off of center rib piece, sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper and bake on 350 for about 25-30 minutes or until crisp.

Green Smoothies

Pears, grass-fed cheese, almond butter, yogurt & berries, and a small glass of whole milk (I know, I know)

No, I’m not pregnant, but I have had more strange cravings since I’ve been breast feeding than I ever did pregnant. I have really craved whole milk, full fat yogurt, etc. So, here’s a pic of what I had for a snack last night (we did have a really early dinner so this was kind of a late night dinner/snack). 😉

What are some of your favorite snacks? What keeps you motivated to stay away from the processed snacks?

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My little girl is now 6 1/2 months old. Where does the time go?! The transition to solid food has been easier than I imagined for her – she loves it! It’s amazing what foods get mixed together that I never thought I would try. Spinach & carrots, applesauce & eggs, pear & avocado, etc. Of course anything mixed with banana pretty much tastes like banana.

If you read my previous post on feeding the primal baby, you know that I decided not to give my daughter the quickly recommended rice cereal or oatmeal and decided to make most of her food (however, having a few jars of organic baby food isn’t a bad idea in a pinch). I don’t think rice cereal or oatmeal are “bad”, they just aren’t necessary for their diet and as I’ve found with my daughter, she prefers thicker, chunkier mashed up food to the liquid food they call “solid”. So far at 6 months of age, she has had: Avocado, banana, broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach, pears, apples, blackberries, blueberries, rasperries, and our newest one – eggs. I add applesauce, avocado, or banana to the eggs to help it go down a little better, since they are a little dry, and she loves it! A few bites of the protein powerhouse, avocado and egg, goes a long way!

We did have to introduce a little formula into her diet as my milk supply has been decreasing. I did not want to do this and stressed over it for weeks (could have been one of the reasons my milk supply went down), but realized that all she really needed was a few ounces a day in addition to the breast milk. Although, now that she is usually eating 3 meals of solid food a day, she can go 4 hours between feedings and my body is able to produce the milk she needs!

When we started looking at a formula to supplement with, we saw there was actually a lot to consider. First you have organic versus non-organic. After reading almost everything I could find after typing in “organic baby formula versus non-organic” into google, I concluded that because of baby’s smaller body, chemicals, pesticides, and all other added ingredients can have a more damaging effect. So, we went with Earth’s Best Organic formula. Then, we quickly realized there was another decision to make: milk-based or soy based? In my research over the past couple of years I have read a lot about the overuse of soy products, especially in the American diet, and the ill effects they can actually have on our bodies. Some parents choose soy based formula because they are afraid of or their baby has an allergic reaction to cow’s milk. Others may choose it because they simply think it is the healthier option.

(Disclaimer: I realize that there are some babies that have specific needs and soy-based formula may be the best option. As with everything on my blog, I am an advocate of doing research on your own and coming up with the best option for your family.)

Some child-advocacy groups claim that consuming soy-based formula could accelerate puberty and cause developmental and reproductive abnormalities and thyroid disorders later in life. – USDA

“Soy-based formula has been commercially available since the sixties,” Wiggins says, “but few studies have examined the long-term consequences of exposure to high concentrations of estrogenic compounds during infancy. No one consumes more soy per kilogram of body weight than infants who are fed soy-based formula. Infants should consume about 115 calories per kilogram to maintain normal growth.” – USDA

There is no doubt that breast milk is the best thing hands down for your baby and I would encourage every mom to persevere through the hard times! I received invaluable help from lactation consultants and talking with friends going through similar struggles. However, as a breast feeding mom, I understand it can be extremely taxing on your body, emotional state, and sometimes it just simply doesn’t work. These are the times I am thankful for modern technology. But, it doesn’t mean that we should just concede to whatever conventional wisdom or the next new fad tells us. As hypoallergenic formulas have become more common, medical advice regarding soy formulas have been highly scrutinized over the past few years. You deserve to know why.

4 concerns with soy based formula (The information below comes from Mark Sisson’s site here.)

1. Most of the worry with soy based formula involves its estrogenic effects. There has been concern that soy products could be a result of the increasing early onset of puberty in girls.

2. Concern over high aluminum levels. In 2006 the Royal College of Australian Physicians put out a very strong warning against soy formulas.

3. Questions regarding the legitimacy of the nutrition equivalency of soy based formula and the traditional cow’s milk formula. In particular the absorption of minerals, the importance of the lactose from the cow’s milk colonizing the intestines with good bacteria, and the essential intake of the complete family of amino acids.

4. The extremely high levels of manganese in soy based formula is a cause for concern, as it is 80 times more than human breast milk. Manganese is an essential nutrient, but can be toxic at high levels.

The studies on soy based formulas are not extensive and little is conclusive about the effects of soy in the later years of life. For instance I was fed soy based formula, as were many of my generation Y friends (80’s babies) and I am now a healthy adult. However, everyone who smokes does not get lung cancer, just food for thought.

So, I would encourage you to research, ask questions, and trust your decision knowing that ultimately YOU are the thing your baby needs the most!


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When my husband and I started our primal lifestyle, we went meat crazy! This resulted in a disproportionate consumption of meat versus nutrient dense vegetables. It also blew our food budget out of the window! As a way to fix both of these problems, on occasion, we have a meatless dinner. One of my favorite ways to do this is with portobello mushrooms.  These “meaty” mushrooms help you forget you aren’t eating actual meat and can serve as a “bun” or “pizza dough” for various toppings.

The Portobello mushroom boasts a great nutrient profile being high in dietary fiber, protein, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin B6, folate magnesium, zinc, manganese, and iron. When buying a portobello mushroom make sure it is not slimy or shriveled and it should have an earthy smell. To clean, carefully wipe and cover the mushroom with a dry paper towel and place in the refrigerator in an area that air can circulate. They can be kept for 5-6 days.

How to make Italian Baked Portobello Mushrooms:

Ingredients

2 portobello mushrooms (for 2 people)

diced tomatoes

parmesan cheese (I found freshly shaved, made from raw milk, parmesan, asiago, and romano cheese from Trader Joe’s – so good!)

fresh basil, lightly chopped

olive oil

salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Directions

Wipe mushrooms with a paper towel. They do not need to be run over with water. Carefully take out the stem and scrape out the black gill-like fibers. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the entire mushroom lightly in olive oil. Mix together tomatoes, basil, cheese (as desired), and salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Fill mushrooms with mixture and bake for about 30 minutes!

What is your favorite way to eat portobello mushrooms?

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As a way to help you in your primal meal planning efforts and as a way to keep myself accountable, I’ve decided to make Mondays “Meal Plan Monday”. I use Sunday nights as my meal planning/brainstorming session and grocery list time, however, because of my personality, I sometimes stray just a bit from my “list” when I make my weekly Monday trip. Therefore, I am posting what we ate the previous week. It will be much more accurate this way. 😉 So, here goes …

Monday: Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers (I added ground beef this time, very filling!) & Roasted broccoli

Tuesday: Crockpot BBQ pork (had leftovers for lunches during the week) & leftover roasted broccoli

Wednesday: Baked Portobello mushrooms w/ diced tomatoes, basil, and parmesan (recipe to come, although it’s pretty self explanatory) & sweet potatoes

Thursday: Crockpot artichoke chicken bake & roasted brussel sprouts

Friday: Grilled out with friends – Grilled sausages w/ grilled veggies (zucchini, squash, & onions)

Saturday: Taco salad – baked cod, mixed greens, quinoa, sour cream, tomatoes, onion, salsa, avocado)

Sunday: My first Mother’s Day, I actually cooked a non primal brunch for my mom! 😉

Lunches consist of various mixed green salads (with lots of veggies on top) and leftover meat from dinner or sometimes meatless. We might throw some almonds & fruit in as well.

Breakfast is a scrambled egg variation, sometimes with a side of bacon or sausage. We had lots of Green Smoothies this week as we were trying to knock out a cold that has gotten all three of us down!

I hope this helps you in your primal meal planning! We are not always perfect (as this week was not “everyday” primal), but our goal is create a grain-free, real food lifestyle.

What did you have/are you going to have for dinner this week?

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In an effort to make a easy, affordable, delicious meal, I came up with a new recipe that also saves time and money. I love the crock pot, so any chance I can use it is a plus for me. This recipe starts in the crock pot and then 30 minutes before you are ready to eat you simply transfer to a baking dish and let the oven do the rest of the work.

Ingredients

In Crock pot:

1 package of chicken thighs or breasts (I like to use thighs because they are inexpensive and much more tender. And I almost always double recipes in the crock pot to have leftovers for later in the week)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

1 small can diced tomatoes

For baking dish:

artichoke hearts

fresh parmesan cheese

fresh basil, lightly chopped

Directions

Add Crock pot ingredients and cook for 4-6 hours on low. Transfer chicken mixture to a baking dish and top with artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese, and basil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or just until cheese starts to melt and artichoke hearts are warm.

Pair with a side of roasted broccoli, sauteed kale, or a green salad.

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Until recently, I seriously underestimated smoothies, epecially green smoothies. It sounded kind of gross to me, and even though I love greens, I didn’t know if I wanted to drink them. However, once I learned the health benefits and made some of my own, I can’t get enough of them! We recently went to the beach for a week with some friends and I would love to say that we ate perfectly primal, but that’s just not the truth. We did pretty well though and made sure to get our greens though smoothies. A pile of salad isn’t exactly easily portable for the beach. So green smoothies it was – a great hot weather food!

If you haven’t yet watched this video, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It’s about 18 minutes long and well worth your time. Dr. Terry Wahls is a former Tae Kwon Do champion who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This progressive disease degenerates your brain and leaves you wheelchair bound.  She describes her transformative experience with a primal diet rich in leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, organs (I know, eww – I’m willing to try it though), and seaweed. If this doesn’t motivate you to take a serious look at what you eat, I’m not sure anything will!

I have always enjoyed salads and eat them fairly often. After watching this video, however, I started wondering if I was getting enough. Green smoothies are the perfect way to ensure that you get your in your greens and are a great change up from a daily salad. You can also freeze them for a treat in the morning. I will take one out at night, put it in the fridge and it is ready to drink in the morning (great for busy, rushing out of the door mornings).

Leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, arugula, lettuce, swiss chard, etc.) are a great source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, folate, and betaine (helps maintain liver health). So, where to begin in making your green smoothie?You really can just throw in your favorite ingredients and taste test along the way. Here is my favorite way to add green into my smoothie:

1 cup plain yogurt (usually greek)

1 cup orange juice, or 4 fresh squeezed oranges

2 big handfuls of greens (spinach, mixed greens, kale, etc.)

1 ripe avocado (adds some healthy fats)

1 banana (I cut up some and have them in the freezer at all times for easy access)

1 cup mixed berries (I get a huge bag of frozen organic blueberries, blackberries, and rasperries at Costco for about $11)

Ice, until you have reached your desired consistency

Makes about 2 very generous servings or 4-6 smaller servings.

Add the liquid and yogurt to the blender along with the greens. You want to make sure you get the greens mixed well with the liquid before you start adding too many ingredients to ensure that you don’t end up with green chunks. (You can ask my husband how that tastes, haha. I almost turned him off of green smoothies for good with a chunky green one. Luckily I have perfected the recipe and now they are one of his favorite drinks.) After the greens are incorporated well with the liquid, start adding the rest of the ingredients. Pour and enjoy, knowing you are doing a favor to your body!

How do you make sure you get your greens? What is your favorite green smoothie recipe? 

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What if you didn’t have to worry about fat? If you wanted that steak for dinner, no guilt. Those veggies covered in grass-fed butter – no problem. That full fat yogurt with berries on top for dessert, go for it.

You probably read that title and thought you were going to read a post about the dangers of saturated fat and how we should stay away from them at all costs. We all know about “artery clogging saturated fats” right? Quite the opposite. Contrary to what we have been told by almost all of the health organizations, saturated fat is not the enemy. Fat is not making you fat, carbs are. Now, there’s a new idea! Let me explain. (Note: I am not a health professional, but have done research on my own and have the personal experience to back it up.)

A little History Lesson

In the 1960’s a scientist named Ancel Keys published his famous Seven Countries Study. His hypothesis was that saturated fat led to heart disease. So, he studied seven countries and they all showed this conclusion, right? Well sort of. He actually studied 22 countries, but fifteen did not fit his original hypothesis so he threw them out! The graph below was his original data (taken from Mark’s Daily Apple). The red dots include three tribes well known for eating high amounts of saturated fat, but having low incidences of heart disease (the Masai, Inuit, and Tokelau).

 If you took any kind of science class in college, you’ve heard about the “lipid hypothesis”. Keys is the father of the lipid hypothesis, which states that saturated fat increases cholestorol, which leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. I’m sure this makes sense to you only because you have heard it for as long as you can remember. However, a closer look at Ancel Keys’ study, notes a correlation (not definitive or conclusive) with increased saturated fat and heart disease. But, he threw out countries that eat a lot of saturated fat and have little heart disease or countries that eat little saturated fat and have high rates of heart disease. All in all, this was not a conclusive or even a good study. But, he got rewarded by getting on the cover of Time magazine and becoming extremely wealthy!

Meanwhile, a scientist named John Yudkin was doing similar studies on sugar and heart disease, but his study gained no traction so you haven’t heard of him.

What is Saturated Fat?

Saturated fat is shelf stable, resistant to heat damage, and essential to bodily functions. It makes up roughly half of our cell membrane structure and is a great source of energy. Saturated fat increases your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). However, there is no correlation of increase in heart disease with increase in cholesterol! Carbohydrate consumption increases triglyceride levels, not fat. Most of the studies done on this aren’t controlled studies, but observational ones meaning they ask people to fill out questionaires of what they ate in the past year, 5 years, 10 years. Who could remember that?

Evidence

In the 1960s and 70s two different doctors working on two different studies decided to prescribe an all meat diet to their patients. This was before saturated fat and meat had all the negative publicity. I’m sure this study would be considered “unethical” by today’s standards. Dr. Blake Donaldson who practiced in Manhattan was trying to help his patients with severe allergies. Dr. Walter Voegtlin in Seattle was trying to figure out a better method of helping his patients with Crohn’s disease. Both of these doctors, independently of the other, found that when the saturated fat content of their patient’s diet increased, belly fat decreased! Not what they were originally looking for, but ground breaking nonetheless. They also found that increased saturated fat improved blood sugar and blood pressure, even in patients who had heart disease already!

7 reasons why you need saturated fat in your diet:

Below are reasons why adding things like fatty cuts of meat, chicken with the skin, bacon, eggs, butter, coconut oil, organic lard, and heavy cream should not be feared…

1. Improved cardiovascular risk factors

Saturated fat reduced lipoprotein(a) is what is associated with heart disease. There is no known medication that can reduce this actual artery clogging lipoprotein. Increased saturated fat has been shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol, you want this number to be high). And interestingly, in women who diet, those who eat more total fat lose the most weight! Now there’s a contradiction to the conventional wisdom that we are taught.

2. Stronger bones

Saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone.

3. Improved liver health

Saturated fat protects the liver from toxins (ie: alcohol, medications).

4. Healthy lungs

Lung surfactant, a substance which coats the lungs, is made up of 100% saturated fat. Many doctors believe that the increase in asthma in children may be due to saturated fat being cut from the diet.

5. Healthy brain

The brain is made of fat and cholesterol (mostly saturated fat).

6. Proper nerve signaling

Saturated fat is required for the nerves to function properly as messengers to the organs in the body.

7. Strong Immune system

Loss of sufficient saturated fat in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders. –fourhourworkweek

So there you have it. The truth for which conventional wisdom has been oblivious. You can have your steak and eat it too!

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