Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 24-30

I cannot believe I am sitting here writing this on our LAST day of our 30-day paleo experiment.  Today is day 30, and we totally survived.  There were days when it felt ridiculously hard and unmanageable, and many days where I barely even thought about it and life felt normal as can be.  Overall, it was an incredible learning experience and has altered the way we will think about and approach food for a long, long time.

As for where these last 7 seven days landed on the Whole30 timeline, we had the last few days of the TIGER BLOOD phase on days 24-27, a day 28 interlude of trying to convince ourselves that 28 days is just as good as 30, followed by what is hilariously and accurately coined the "HolyOprahIt'sAlmostOverWhatAmIGoingToEatNow?!?!?!" phase on days 29-30.

As I mentioned here and here regarding the other parts of our TIGER BLOOD! phase, I think we both did see changes in our energy levels.  However, I personally think many of the benefits of eating paleo were slightly offset for me by the fact that this experiment coincidentally coincided with some of the most stressful weeks of my life (work-related ... long story ... don't ask), so given the fact that high amounts of stress certainly affect things like energy levels, weight gain and loss and even skin issues, I'm feeling like I kind of got the shaft on experiencing some of the benefits. But I'll get into that a bit more later....

Phil and I both definitely did have moments in our last few days where we were presented with opportunities to indulge (like post-work happy hours or lunch with friends), and the thought did enter our minds to just say "welllllll we've learned a lot and have experienced what it's like.... let's just call it good."  But knowing we'd kick ourselves for not lasting the entire 30 days, we both stuck it out! If nothing else, this is a great experiment in simple willpower.

Additionally, yes, our brains have been very occupied over the last few days with what life will be like post-paleo-experiment.  The notion of being "allowed" to eat anything is indeed quite overwhelming.  Phil and I planned to treat ourselves to something delicious we have been deprived of, and we haven't even nailed down what it is we want to treat ourselves to because there are just. so. many. options.  French fries? Chocolate cake? Beer? Chips and salsa? We don't want to go NUTS and just indulge in everything, because a) that defeats the purpose and b) I'm sure we'd regret smashing our bodies with a wrecking ball of junk food later.  But the thought of narrowing down just one treat to have is hard. Ironically, the notion of reintroducing paleo-approved items that are generally off-limits during Whole30 experiments or other, more strict, paleo phases is absolutely thrilling.  Red wine? Dark chocolate? Honey? Don't mind if I do!!

Regardless, the burning question at the end of this journey is obviously "so, what now?" Phil and I have decided to try to eat paleo long-term as much as possible.  We plan to try to follow the 80/20 rule that many paleo-ers follow, which just means eating paleo 80% of the time, and allowing treats and indulgences in non-paleo foods 20% of the time (or about 1-3 meals a week).  Given the stressful month I've had, and just the acknowledgement that really, 30 days is not that long, I believe that many benefits of eating this way are yet to come (especially for me), so I want to give myself some more time to let my body continuing to adjust and seeing how it affects me long-term.  And, just overall, Phil and I have enjoyed knowing we are eating healthier and just being more mindful and intentional with what we eat.

Our last Whole30 dinner - paleo burger and sweet potato fries!


So wow. There you have it. 30 days. We did it. I will surely continue to share our ongoing paleo adventures (such as recipes and our first attempt at paleo camping, etc), so keep on comin' back if you've enjoyed the ride so far. Thanks for tagging along on this craziness. And thanks to all our friends and family who had to deal with us turning down offers to go out, demanding there be ample meat available to us wherever we go, or generally moaning and groaning while we watched them eat cookies.


Monday, March 31, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 19-23

*If you are keeping track, you might realize that this blog post is coming a bit late - today actually marks the big day 3-0 for us (gasp!), but I didn't get a chance to post this until now, so let's travel back in time for a bit.... and I will post about the remaining days and the end (gasp!) of our 30 day journey asap!*

Well, here we are, the 3-week mark of our experience came and went without much bravado. Really, we are just chugging along in our day-to-day, with paleo eating feeling more and more like the norm.  According to Whole30, we are still supposed to be in the TIGER BLOOD! that we started up in days 16-18.  Additionally, day 21 is supposed to be a small interlude, where for whatever reason you snap a little bit and just. want. to. eat. some. damn. junk. food.  So where are we at with all of this?

Tiger blood - well, we both arguably have lots more energy throughout the day, more sustained energy and really do not "crash" or ever feel starving.  I think Phil is feeling the tiger blood a bit more than I am (which is okay, because that's the thing he was hoping for most, so I'm glad he's feeling it).  I have been dealing with loads of stress on the job-front, so I'm thinking that is dragging my energy levels down a bit, so I'm still hanging with my kitty blood, for now.

As for the interlude, I actually did experience it exactly on day 21.  I went to the grocery store after work on Friday, and after an extremely stressful week, I was looking for the chance to treat myself/relax/indulge/etc, and just DID NOT want to plan another meal of meat. and veggies. But, alas, I pushed through and made what ended up being a yummy, and relatively simple, easy meal of stuffed peppers and brussel sprouts with bacon (mmm... bacon!).





Since then I've found continuing on to be much easier.  We are close enough now to the end of our 30 days that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel - so now we can fantasize about what treats we will indulge in when we are done and it feels more like a reality, rather than a fantasy (although, as we've progressed, those cravings and food fantasies have become less and less enticing. I'd still kill for a piece of chocolate cake, though). 


A big milestone this weekend, though, was navigating our first potluck.  We were invited over to a friend's house for game night, and the plan was for everyone to bring some food to share.  LUCKILY the main dishes being provided were meat (pot roast with some veggies, and a rotisserie chicken).  There were also some mashed potatoes and chips and salsa, and key lime pie (oh, the key lime pie) which we had to gaze at from afar.  But we were able to bring a yummy side dish AND an appetizer that were paleo friendly as well as yummy for all, paleo or not (or at least I'd like to think so). 


Starting with our appetizer, we simply brought a variety of veggies, and homemade paleo ranch veggie dip (which I made using this recipe).






Yums.


For the side dish, Phil and I collaborated to create a paleo version of swirled potatoes.  Traditionally, this recipe involves white potatoes and sweet potatoes swirled together.  To make it paleo, we swapped out the white potatoes for mashed cauliflower.  It turned out delicious - and since I could not for the life of me find a recipe for this (so we had to totally wing it), I will share the recipe soon for all to enjoy. In the meantime, here's a picture of the deliciousness for you to gaze at.



Hard to believe we only have  5 more days before our month-long experiment is over.  I'll wait until the end to share our plans moving forward, but I will say now that saying it will be "over" at that point is inaccurate.


And our next big challenge will be paleo-friendly camping!! I find it incredibly ironic that living in the wilderness for 4 days actually presents a CHALLENGE in eating like cavepeople.... but that's how the grain-free dairy-free sugar-free cookie crumbles, y'all.  Until next time....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 16-18

Well, here we are, in the beginning stages of the namesake phase of this whole experiment... days 16-27 are, according to Whole30 folks, the days you are supposed to feel TIGER BLOOD aka energy upon energy upon energy upon loose pants upon delicious food experiments upon Hulk-style workouts.


Do we have tiger blood yet? Well.. as Phil put it yesterday, it's more like kitty blood. We are both feeling more sustained energy throughout the day, but we are definitely not leaping buildings with a single bound or anything like that.  In fact, day 16, for me, was quite the opposite, where I seemed to have a resurgence of the "I just want a nap" phase of days 6 & 7, during which time I was just absolutely exhausted all day.  I think our bodies are just definitely still adjusting... good news is, the digestive adjustments seem to be coming to a close. Joy!


The successful food experiments have indeed continued, though, and we are finding more and more recipes and dishes that are delicious! I adapted a recipe that Phil's mom sent us, that I'm lovingly calling "Bag-O-Dinner!"  It required just a couple tiny adaptations to become paleo-friendly, and I like this recipe because it's easily tweaked to fit with a variety of protein/veggie combos - so it's more of a formula than a recipe and you can throw whatever you have in the fridge in there, which makes it pretty easy and "omgidonotwanttocookandwedonothaveanyfood" friendly.


Paleo Bag-O-Dinner
(recipe adapted from "One-Shot-Deal Dinner" from "Eat to Lose, Lose to Win" by Rachel Beller)


Ingredients:
2 cups veggies of your choosing, cut into bize-size pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
4 oz fillet of fish of your choosing (almost any fish will work - cod, halibut, salmon, tilapia, etc.)
1/2 tsp coconut aminos
1/4 cup vegetable broth
Splash of white wine
Lemon wedges
Seasonings of your choice


Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Lay a large rectangle of parchment paper on a baking sheet; place all veggies and garlic on one end of the rectangle, and season lightly with salt and pepper
  • Place fish on top of veggies; brush with coconut aminos
  • Sprinkle vegetable broth and white wine on top of fish and veggies
  • Fold parchment paper in half, covering the fish and veggies, and crimp the edges to seal it completely (you'll end up with what looks like a giant calzone... mmmmm. Calzones.)
  • Bake for 15-35 minutes (depending on what veggies you used and how strong your oven is, cook time will vary)
  • Set aside to cool for 5 minutes; sprinkle lemon juice on top; serve.
Every teacher I ever had ever says visual aids are a good thing:

Our Bags-O-Dinner ready to go into the oven



And here's what you find inside! Om nom nom.



This is one of those recipes that once you have the formula down in your head, you could easily whip this up without thinking too much about it. And it's so nice you can mix it up with whatever fish and veggies you have on hand.  We used halibut with onion, zucchini and carrots, and I added a sprig each of thyme and rosemary for seasoning.  It was delicious, and easy, and will only get easier with time. Hurrah!


On the house front, I will have lots of updates to share soon.  In the meantime, can I just proclaim how much of a house-nerd I've become given how excited I got this morning when I found a lamp we've been eyeing on a clearance website for $50 less than regular price?! Booyeah.  Maybe once this TIGER BLOOD! thing kicks in, we'll be able to wrap up all the lingering projects we have going on so I can finally share all of the updates we've been making. Rawr!

Monday, March 17, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 12-15

Well, here we are, at the halfway mark, and still going strong! These  last three days, according to the folks at Whole30, are supposed to be the days in which we start feeling some of those awesome benefits of paleo, like boundless energy and better fitting pants.  But this is also the phase during which time we are supposed to have pregnant-lady style dreams about food. Basically, our brains are supposed to be trying to force us back into our comfort zones by craving weird junkables. 

So far, energy levels are good (the 2pm crash has all but disappeared from my life), and my pants are for sure looser.  The night of day 13, Phil and I both dreamt of food (for him, it was bite sized Baby Ruths and Butterfingers - for me, it was deep-dish pizza).  Day 14 involved a series of random cravings (damn you Ikea and your cinnamon roll scented house of temptation!!), but not one craving caving has occurred.

Our digestive systems are still working out some kinks for sure, but mentally we've both fallen pretty solidly into the habits of paleo... to the point where it doesn't take much thought at this point as far as whan can we eat? What can't we eat? Feels pretty automatic to us at this point, and the extra "work" of preparing food just feels like the norm.

Friday night, we did both feel extremely uninterested in cooking, so we got to have our first paleo-take-out experience, which just involved ordering up 3 lbs of meat from a local barbeque joint...



Meat meat meat! (Fear not, we did not eat all of this meat in one sitting. It provided leftovers that has lasted us 3 days and counting).  We baked up some kale and broccoli real quick to have with it, and enjoyed our PaleoChef Peach Barbecue sauce on top. 


Not to shabby! Nice that we can still enjoy the luxury of paying people to bring food to our doorstep.

We now get to embark on the next phase, which is the namesake of this whole endeavor... TIGER BLOOD!!!!! To be continued......

Thursday, March 13, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March - Days 10 & 11



Well, Phil and I were able to fork-five over our delicious stuffed acorn squash last night because we made it through day 10 without quitting! According to Whole30, days 10 & 11 are the hardest days, with day 10 being the day you are most likely to quit the whole thing altogether and go on a cake bender.  But, alas, we did not! We didn't even come close, really.  It helped that for dinner we were able to whip up a paleo-version of a dish we make all the time, so it was quite easy to even just ignore the fact entirely that we were doing anything different. 




The dish that helped get us through, you might ask? Apple and Bacon Acorn Squash, which I adapted from a recipe by Door to Door Organics (the nice people who leave a box of organic produce on our front stoop every week).  It's almost paleo-friendly as is, but with a few minor substitutions it is 100% paleo friendly....


Here are the ingredients:


6 slices bacon      
3 small carrots       
1 acorn squash       
½ cups sliced almonds       
1 tbs maple syrup  
1/8 cups heavy cream  The cream and syrup can be left out entirely and the dish would still be delicious, but we substituted some of my homemade paleo coffee creamer (coconut milk and date puree) and it turned out a-ok.
¼ cups breadcrumbs (optional)  This is optional to begin with, so is easily left out (which is what we did), but you could theoretically sub some ground up nuts or something like that to mimic the effect of breadcrumbs.
1 large apple       
1/8 cups white wine      
salt and pepper to taste

Oh, and we in the past have added bleu cheese to the recipe as a delicious little extra topping, so we of course had to leave that out.  But all in all, it was still extremely delicious and filling.




I also decided to treat us by attempting to make paleo banana bread.  I adapted this recipe from Civilized Caveman.  Basically I just left out the baking soda and baking powder, since they are not technically paleo during those more strict experimental phases like we are in (long-term, they'd be acceptable in moderation, I believe).  I also cut the recipe in half because Phil ate two of the four bananas I was planning to use.  Silly, banana-eating Phil. 




Of course, there is a lot of debate around paleo baked goods.  Some people believe trying to make the foods you used to eat and would crave and indulge in fit into the paleo box defeats the purpose of overcoming food habits, etc., because you are still satisfying that part of you that craves sweet, bread-y yummables.  Willy Wonka is a skeptic for sure...










But, whatever, we had some overly ripe bananas, and all the other ingredients on hand, so I went for it. 




What's the verdict on paleo baked goods, you may be wondering?  Disappointing.  The texture is good and moist, but the flavor leaves a bit to be lacking. Sugar, namely.  In hindsight, I wish I had thrown some date paste in the mix to add a bit more sweet flavor.  Next time.  

 Long-term, I think I'd rather just save the baked goods for my cheat meals, and eat the real deal.  But good to know there are options for making quasi-baked goods that are paleo if the need arises.  I probably won't experiment with baked goods beyond this during our 30 days. Not worth it.


Lastly, check out the delicious soup Phil made.  That right there is Coconut Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  So good. The only thing missing was something crunchable (I have a weird need to chew all my food - soups, ice creams, etc., that don't have chunks of stuff that require chewing are not appealing to me), so I threw in some crushed up cashews. Om. Nom. Nom.








Monday, March 10, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 8&9

Alrighty, well, we are officially into week 2.  Days 8 & 9, according to the folks at Whole30, is supposed to be the day we curse Ryan Gosling because our pants are actually tighter than before (due to bloating, etc., as your gut heals and continues to adjust).  I'd say I maintain my netural feelings towards Ryan Gosling, as my pants are fitting just fine, if not a little better, thanks.  Plus, Ryan supports my experiment, so I really shouldn't be too harsh on him...





 I may be experiencing other digestive adjustment issues (I'll spare you the details), but nothing too significant.  Still just adjusting both mentally and physically is the name of the game. 




So far one thing about this experience that has downright shocked me, mostly due to naivety I guess, is the cost of this experiment. I'm talking financial cost. 









We speculated we'd actually save money on food this month, seeing as how we pretty much wouldn't be eating out at all.  Oh, were we mistaken.  Nine days in and we've already blown through the majority of our food budget for this month.  Granted, we did a fair amount of stockpiling meat and basic staples in the beginning so our costs were probably (hopefully) front loaded within the month, but we will for certain still need to make quite a few trips to the store before the month is over.  And, paleo food is downright expensive.  Buying organic fruits and veggies, and organic and/or grass-fed meat ain't cheap.  So that has been a painful part of this month.  If anyone knows how to make this more affordable, I'll be eager to listen, because I really can't figure it out. So far all I've managed to do is pay attention to the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen lists and only buy organic when necessary, instead of as a general rule.  But that only saves miniscule amounts, because, of course the most expensive things, and the things we buy most often, are on the Dirty Dozen list (bell peppers? berries? holy cow. so expensive. And we eat so much of them). And of course, organic produce rarely goes on sale. End sob fest.


Money woes aside, I think we are getting better at being able to whip up quicker and easier paleo meals than when we first started.  For times when we don't want to put  a lot of time or effort into cooking dinner (and we normally would just throw some pasta in a pot or have a PB&J sandwich), we've found that grilling up some chicken and throwing it in a salad or roasting up some veggies to go along with it is as mindlessly easy as you can get. So we have done that a couple times so far, and it's pretty painless, and luckily doesn't take all night.





As you can tell, I have discovered the world of paleo memes. So I hope you like memes. Because there will be more. Oh yes. There will be more.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Paleo Coffee Conundrum

So as I alluded to here, here and here about my first few days of the 30-day paleo experiment we are embarking on, coffee has been one of my biggest challenges.

I toyed with the idea of forgoing coffee entirely, but decided in the end that enduring the hellish withdrawal to get to the other side of my fierce caffeine dependency was just not something I felt like dealing with.

The problem is.. I like my coffee creamy. And sweet.  And it is difficult to create creamy sweetness with non-sugar, non-dairy, non-soy items. Here's a rundown of my failed (and eventually successful) attempts to continue clutching to my morning ritual of warm, creamy, delicious uppers.

ATTEMPT #1

COFFEE + COCONUT MILK + CINNAMON
Verdict? Decently sweet and palatable, but not at all creamy.  I used the kind of coconut milk that comes in the milk-carton, rather than the canned type (which is creamier).  So, too watery.

ATTEMPT #2

COFFEE + ALMOND MILK + CINNAMON
Verdict? Awful. Undrinkable. Somehow the combination of these ingredients made for an unbearably bitter taste.  I tried to choke it down for the sake of my addiction, but couldn't do it. (Hence why I question the source of my day 2 headache)

This is the point at which I went to the interwebs for some ideas, and found some recipes for paleo coffee creamer.  I found one from Deliciously Organic that seemed simple enough (and didn't involve eggs, like some, which grossed me out), and was easily adaptable for various flavors.  So I gave it a try...

ATTEMPT #3

COFFEE + PALEO COFFEE CREAMER (pureed dates + canned coconut milk + cinnamon)
Verdict? MUCH better. The dates and coconut milk provide a little bit of creamy sweetness.  However, I started to notice that the bitterness from Attempt #2 came along as I drank my coffee.  I theorized that for some reason the cinnamon was getting increasingly bitter, so on my next batch I left out the cinnamon, and that was definitely much better.  However, since the pureed dates is by no means liquid, it does mean that, especially towards the end of the cup of coffee, you end up kind of chewing your coffee. So... the best option so far, and totally doable, but not ideal. Which is when I finally tried...


ATTEMPT #4
COFFEE + BUTTER + COCONUT OIL (aka Bulletproof Coffee)
Verdict? The holy grail of delicious paleo coffee!!



Putting butter and coconut oil in your coffee sounds super gross, I know, it's why it took me a week and 3 failed attempts at making delicious coffee before I finally decided to give it a try.  But it results in a super creamy, tasty, delicious coffee that might even be better than regular non-paleo coffee choices, I swear! To make it you put about 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp grass-fed, unsalted butter or ghee and coffee in a blender and voila....


And the result is kind of like the best damn latte you've ever had - super creamy, with a little bit of foam on top, with a really nice flavor too. I usually have to sweeten my coffee, but it's not even necessary with this (but I did throw a little vanilla extract in it which gave it a nice flavor).  You can certainly flavor this with any other spices or flavorings to kick it up a notch too. 


But for real, this stuff is liquid creamy coffee heaven, and I clearly saved the best for last.  Paleo Coffee Conundrum is officially over.   Bonus points that there are major health benefits (getting the good, healthy oils and fats you need which also help slow down the absorption of the coffee so the caffeine crashes and spikes are no more).  

So there you have it! Now excuse me while I continue to sip on my epically delicious cup of coffee....


Saturday, March 8, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 6 & 7


Well here we are, at the end of Day 7, our first full week of paleo! We are one quarter of the way there, hurrah! 

According to the Whole30 folks, days 6 & 7 are the "I just want a nap" phase, during which time your body is struggling to adjust to processing and getting energy from your new fuel sources (since it can no longer rely on the quick and easy fuels you used to give it such as grains and sugars, etc.)

I think Phil and I would say we both have felt a wee bit sleepy, but not significantly more than normal.  I think this whole time I've personally been about a half a day to a day ahead of this whole timeline... on the evening of Day 5 I passed out on the couch before dinner.  And that was about the most "I just want a nap" I have felt. 

I have noticed, however, that my workouts have felt just a tad more laborious, which makes sense. I feel a touch like I'm running through sludge.  And that's all I have to say about that. 

Yesterday, on day 6, I had the challenge of navigating spending a full day at a symposium in Denver which involved a catered lunch.  Not knowing what food would be served (but expecting it to be non-paleo friendly in some way or another), I tried to go into it as prepared as possible given I wouldn't have access to a refrigerator or microwave (and therefore many portable food options would be out of the question).  So I put together a little "paleo survival kit" for myself, to try to ensure no matter what the lunch option was I wouldn't starve...


My "survival kit" included:
  • raw broccoli
  • almonds 
  • a Lara Bar
  • an Epic Bar 
  • an orange.  
The catered lunch involved choices such as: a veggie wrap, turkey sandwich, potato chips, and brownies.  Not at all paleo friendly. So I deconstructed a turkey sandwich and MacGuyvered a lettuce wrap with turkey and tomatoes.  I know deli meat is not ideal, because it is so highly processed and likely pumped full of sugar, but I did the best with what I could.  I only ended up eating the almonds, orange, Lara Bar and half of my Epic Bar out of my kit, and while I was quite hungry when I got home, I was by no means uncomfortably ravenous. So I survived, hooray!

Day 7 has also proven to be the day I finally mastered delicious, creamy paleo coffee. I have alluded to this experiment I have embarked on many times already, and I will soon share my conclusions.  Get excited.... 



Now calm down. Imagine Zack restraining hugging you into a state of zen.

Since Phil's mom is in town, Day 7 has also involved experimenting with real-world-paleo aka eating out.  We went out to lunch at a Mexican restaurant with my parents, and we both got fajitas minus the tortillas-cheese-sourcream-etc. (similar to our day 1 dinner experiment).  We considered trying one of the more paleo-friendly restaurants in town for dinner, and did even waltz into Fresh Thymes, an all-gluten free restaurant that's known for having paleo friendly choices, but we ended up very overwhelmed by the place.  Instead of sitting down and having a chance to mull over a menu and chat with a waiter, it was more counter-style eating, and it just felt too overwhelming to deal with at the time.  We still want to try it someday, because it sounds delicious (particularly their gluten free mac-n-cheeseOMNOMNOM).  So we bailed, and hit up Whole Foods for some delicious steaks and headed home instead.  Never did I think I'd see the day that I'd willingly opt out of eating out in lieu of cooking at home. That's paleo, for ya, apparently.

On to week 2!!


Switcheroo

There has been a lot brewing on the house front, but so far none of it is complete enough to share, but I do want to take a break from my TIGER BLOOD! March paleo focus and get back to the house stuff by sharing one small crafty project that got a little switcheroo after the holidays.  You may have seen here my super cheap and easy DIY holiday banner... well after the holidays went back from whence they came, I still loved the idea of using the twine and clothespin in that spot for decoration.  So I just traded out the holiday schwag for some Instagram prints that have previously been shoved in a drawer, and voila! A nice, personal touch that provides an otherwise blank and boring half-wall with something pretty to look at. 





This project was actually perfect for these Instagram prints - I got a bunch printed out a while ago, thinking they'd be great to have on hand to hang up in frames, etc., but only after I ordered them did I remember that they are such a funky size they really don't fit into most standard frames.  Nowadays many people make Instagram-friendly square frames, but I have yet to acquire any of those.  So this was a great way to get to display these square photos of super un-square people (harhar), instead of shoving them in a drawer like has been the case thus far.

Hopefully I can share the big updates we've made to our living spaces and bedroom very soon! (hint: there IS such a thing as a new couch smell!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March : Days 4 & 5

Day 5 is coming to a close, and we are still alive and functioning, squee! According to the Whole30 folks and their timeline, days 4 & 5 are the "KILL ALL OF THE THINGS" phase, during which time you are supposed to be a major grump because you are being deprived of tasty treats and thrown out of your comfort zone and getting your hormones regulated, etc.

Well, we managed to stay pretty grump free, and didn't kill any of the things! Hurrah! Maybe a few grumblings here and there, and I may or may not have almost snapped Phil's head off for a benign, Candy Crush related comment.  Phil said it best, though, when I asked him if he wanted to kill all of the things... he said "No... I more just want to push all of the things over a little."  I imagine a grumpy little kid pouting and shoving their playmate down in the sandbox for stealing their toy. Sounds about right.

However, it has been hard to feel deprived when indulging in tasty comfort foods like this....



(Spaghetti squash with italian meatballs in marinara sauce - umyums. We would happily eat this during non-paleo times as well.)

The most noticeable thing I've noticed (yes my mastery of the English language is astounding) is how not hungry I've been (which I alluded to in terms of how filling paleo is and how easy it is to stop eating when full here).  I've actually had to worry more than anything that I'm not getting enough food throughout the day - and not because I'm intentionally depriving myself, but because I just haven't gotten as hungry.  I'm sure this is because I'm eating more filling foods that provide more sustainable energy and fulfillment than usual, and food is no longer viewed at as a pleasurable thing to be endlessly craved and indulged in.  It's just an interesting observation, and fascinating to have a mental and physical switch of thinking of food almost purely as fuel.  Learning. Growing. Continued.

Oh and I also discovered that I find kombucha delicious, which is nice, since it is not only paleo-approved, but paleo-recommended (probiotics and such).  I just have to not at all think about what it really is (mushroom-fungus-jellyfish-water) when I drink it, otherwise I'd blow mushroom-fungus-jellyfish-water-chunks (how's that for a delightful image?!).

Also, thanks to paleo, I cooked and ate beets for the first time ever! And they were tastycakes.


Beets, beans and beef! Alliteration: a great way to make your lame paleo meal seem more exciting.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Day 3

According to the Whole30 folks, day 3 should be a continuation of the detox hangover that started around day 2.  I'm happy to say that I felt much better today than I did yesterday, my headache is gone and I feel pretty energetic (could be because I've been working on making my coffee drinkable, thus maintaining my caffeine intake much better today than yesterday, which I will write more about later once I've perfected the art of delicious paleo coffee).






Having just eaten lunch, one thing I've noticed is how filling paleo food is.  Today is the second day in a row I haven't been able to finish the food I brought for lunch because I felt so full.  A lot of people fear feeling so hungry if they eat this way, and while I definitely have times throughout the day that I'm hungry (but no hungrier than normal), by no means following a meal do I feel unsatisfied. 






This concept brings to light just an interesting observation about the kind of food we eat and how our bodies and brains react to it.... there are many times in the past when I have been at the brink of feeling full or stuffed to the brim, and have happily continued eating.  Because when you are eating deliciously processed food, your mouth and brain just wants wants wants more more more.  When you are feeling full, that next bite of cake or pizza still looks delicious and your craving to continue the yums overpowers your body's signal that it's down for the count.  (I know there's some neurosciencey explanation for this - my best nonneuroscientist explanation is sugars/processed foods activitate pleasure centers in the brain, release endorphins which make you feel good, and your brain says OH give me some more of THAT good stuff!! And so on and so forth... some would say this is even akin to the way your brain reacts with an addiction. Food for thought [harhar]). 






This doesn't happen on paleo.  When you are full - that last steamed carrot or next bite of ground beef just isn't appealing.  Not because it doesn't taste good, but because you just simply feel done eating. (See: neurosciencey stuff - pleasure centers not activated so brain isn't called into action to crave more food, it's just responding purely to the body's responses for a change).  It been shockingly easy to just put the fork down, bag up my leftovers and call it good.  It's all of a sudden magically simple to listen to my body when it says it's full, instead of my brainmouth (yes that's a thing now) that says "MORE MORE MORE."  I guess this is stuff I've read about and known about as far as how food and our brain and cravings work, etc., but it's just fascinating and enlightening to experience it directly.




In addition to paleo balsamic vinaigrette that Phil whipped up on day 1, I've now also mastered paleo mayonnaise (recipe from this cookbook)...








I was intimidated by all of the cooking and preparation, but so everything is really simple to make (mostly just involves throwing stuff in a blender), and I won't lie, it's been kind of fun experimenting and learning how to make this stuff (which is a shocking statement coming from me, the person who probably hates cooking the most in the universe). Learning. Growing.




ALSO - it's great to now have validation for my jar hoarding.  I started keeping empty jars a while back thinking "we'll have a use for these some day," and voila. Someday is now.  It's great having random jars on hand to fill with things like mayonnaise, date paste, and coffee creamer (more on that soon).




On to day 4!






Monday, March 3, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: Days 1 & 2

Well it's finally arrived - TIGER BLOOD! March commenced yesterday.  I'm trying to juxtapose my experiment with the 30-day timeline that the folks over at Whole30 created, just to see how my experience is stacking up to what seem to be the most commonly experienced phases...

DAY 1
According to Whole30 day 1 has been deemed "So, What's the Big Deal?" during which time you are supposed to have a pompous sort of confidence of your ability to seamlessly eat paleo for the next 30 days (or more).  For myself, I would rename Day 1: "Crap, This is Actually Going to Take Work?"  Beyond doing lots of research and buying out the entire contents of Whole Foods, we did little to prepare, perhaps expecting the pompous confidence of Day 1 too much.

Breakfast was easy - eggs. Duh.

Lunch was a bit harder, given I wasn't going to be home. So I packed up some sliced fruit and veggies and some almonds and figured it wasn't too bad.  I actually didn't get around to eating any of it until I got home later that day, so I swapped the almonds for an apple and almond butter (which just so happens to be my favorite snack of all time so I am thrilled to have a green light to consume it).  Ideally, some form of meat would have been ideal here, but that's where our poor planning came into play. No cooked meat to be had.

Dinner was also a bit of a challenge because we ended up joining my family for dinner at my parent's house.  Luckily they let us cook fajitas for them, and we just said a tearful "no, thank you" to the tortillas and cheese, and chowed down on as much chicken, steak, peppers and onions as we could muster.

We both left dinner still somewhat hungry and not sure what to do about that.  Are we supposed to be hungry? Is this our body still adapting to the new way of being fueled? Did we genuinely not eat enough? We both had a small snack (cashews for me, grapefruit for Phil) when we got home, and called it a night. All in all, not too bad. We survived.

The real snag came when we started thinking ahead to the rest of the week, though.  Lunch, at work, in particular, feels challenging. So we ended up doing a bit of the "Sunday CookFest" thing that we've heard so much about.  We cooked up a bunch of ground beef, steamed some veggies, hard-boiled some eggs, made some (shockingly delicious) paleo-friendly salad dressing so that we'd have some easy grab-and-go options for the next day or two.  Then we also made a running list of what we realized we'd need that we forgot/hadn't realized we'd need. A learning process, it most definitely is and will continue to be.

So all in all, I'd say day 1 was totally successful, but came with a bit of a reality check as far as the amount of planning/prepping and overall effort it will take (which we already knew about and expected, but you know.  Reality and stuff.)

DAY 2
According to the Whole30 folks, this is supposed to be the onset of a two-day hangover, during which time you are essentially detoxing from all of the crap you ate right before starting your paleo experiment (which, for me, was an immense amount of crap).  I'd say I started feeling the hangover late in day 1, with a headache that has lasted through to the end of day 2.  Of course, my headache may have been in part due to caffeine withdrawal due to struggling to find a paleo-friendly way to make my coffee palatable (more on that to come!)

Feeling much more "So, What's the Big Deal," today after our CookFest yesterday, given packing up breakfast and lunch today was a breeze (hardboiled eggs and berries for breakfast, leftover fajita chicken and steamed veggies for lunch, almonds and fruit for a snack).  Dinner was a quick and easy salmon and brussel sprouts.

And, of course, the mid-day reminder that having a compadre in this experiment is priceless!







Saturday, March 1, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: T-Minus 1 Day

What a great send off to gluteny, sugary, processed deliciousness on our last day before embarking on our paleo experiment...


Goodbye, pizza. Goodbye, beer. Goodbye, cake, I hold you dear. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: T-Minus 2 Days

Sunday is the big day, day 1 of "TIGER BLOOD! March." As such, I spent far too much time and far too much money at Whole Foods today stocking up on some essentials and getting ready.


How much money do you think is in those 3 bags? Trust me, you don't want to know. Damn you Whole Foods. 


Here's what I hauled away. Some basic staples like coconut oil, ghee, coconut milk, almond milk, etc., plus some meat options, veggies, fruits, nuts, and then some paleo-friendly bars and sauces. We get an organic veggie and fruit box delivered every week, and already have a freezer full of chicken and salmon so luckily I didn't need to go too nuts in those areas. 

I cleaned out and re-organized the pantry, and found it interesting to see how many fewer "pantry foods" we'll be eating...


The bottom two shelves are our non-paleo foods... Everything else is our paleo stuff (including a whole shelf of just teas). Interesting to just have a visual reminder that we won't be eating stuff that sits on a shelf and comes out of a box. 

So anyway, we're ready for ya, paleo! Just 48 hours of beer, pizza and cake stand between us. (Side note: after allowing myself to indulge these last weeks, I'm really ready to put an end to it. I'm feeling the junky food, and ready for TIGER BLOOD!)

Monday, February 24, 2014

TIGER BLOOD! March: T-Minus 6 Days

With 6 days left before the start of what in our house has now been deemed "TIGER BLOOD! March," I've found the process is already getting started, as far as the mental shifts related to food.  In preparation for our first venture into paleo, I've let myself indulge in many tasty, gluten-y treats.  Having just recently completed a strict 30-day gluten free experiment, it's enlightening to have the direct contrast (and will be enlightening to see the direct contrast with paleo).  In the past week or two that I've been indulging, I've noticed significant changes in the way I feel.  First off, my skin problems came back with a vengeance.  My digestion is incredibly cranky.  And I've found I end more days feeling run-down, exhausted and just yucky feeling. 


Aside from being educational (as far as highlighting the fact that, at the very least, increased gluten consumption does bad things to my body), it's also serving to motivate me and get me excited to try this paleo thing (because I don't know about you, but I don't like feeling gross).  We'll be starting on March 2nd, because we decided to try to squeeze in a cake tasting for our wedding on the 1st.   So we will have quite a send-off to deliciously processed foods by not only hitting up a cake tasting, but also indulging in what the closest thing to Chicago-style pizza we've found out here so far (and hopefully hitting some favorite beer spots).  We will have quite the detox to go through once we get going, but as food and beer-lovers, we're willing to deal with that in order to get in a few last indulgences.  


For anyone curious, so far my resources in getting ready for this process and researching have been the following:




One tip for anyone starting to research this stuff: you've got to be able to decide for yourself what you believe.  There are obviously a lot of people who believe paleo is ridiculous, or even bad for you. And even within those who are pro-paleo, there are a lot of conflicting opinions.  If you read all three books I listed above, you will get three different perspectives and opinions on what you should and should not do.  You've got to be able to read it all and decide for yourself what works best.  For example, we are going to eat unlimited eggs (something Chris Kresser says yes to, but Loren Cordain says no to) because we love eggs and know it's an easy and accessible food option for us.  We will also long-term plan to follow the 80/20 rule (something Chris Kresser and Loren Cordain both say yes to, but Hayley Mason and Bill Staley say no to), because we believe enjoying an indulgence every once in a while is important to enjoying life and maintaining sanity.  It's your life, your body, your health, your mind - you've got to just take all that info out there and find a way to make it fit for you. Because if you don't, you won't be able to maintain it anyways, so why bother?



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Diverging

Up until now this blog has been focused on house-related endeavors, with a few random crafty and crochet related things.  I've decided to expand out a bit, though, and use this as a forum to share my experiences with food.  Because I'm about to give something a whirl that is going to be extremely difficult and (hopefully) enlightening, and I'm sure will be fraught with "oopses" (yes, the plural of oops is oopses, obviously).


So, without further ado, I present to you my newest endeavor: paleo eating.  (I'll give you a moment to get the eye-rolls out of the way... are you good? You sure you don't want to get one more out, just for good measure? Go ahead, do it. Roll 'em. There. Now we can move on.).  For those of you who don't know, paleo eating basically means cutting out all processed foods - anything that our ancestor cavemen people wouldn't have been able to get their hands on.  So this means eating only meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and oils.  The theory, in a nutshell, is that our bodies are still genetically coded to most efficiently and effectively process these foods, and the crazy-processed-man-made foods (that really barely resemble "real food" by the time they make it to our salivating mouths) that make up the vast majority of what we eat nowadays negatively impacts our overall well-being and increase our risk for certain ailments. 


I know that this way of eating (I refuse to call it a "diet," because that insinuates that it's only about losing weight, and while that can be a nice little side effect, that is not the main purpose), is increasingly "trendy" right about now, and I promise you I am not the type to follow a trend in any regard, be it food, music, clothes, opinions, etc.  If I find something that works for me that also happens to be "in," great. If not, I couldn't care less. And I'll be the first to admit that I'm not 100% sold on the whole paleo thing, either. I have my doubts, for sure. And lord almighty do I loves me some bread, cheese and potatoes (ooh ooh, and beer! Oh, the beer)!! Hence, why I am trying it. I'm one of those people who needs to experience something directly in order to buy into it fully.


Why paleo, do you ask? Well, I have many reasons, really. I already know I have a gluten intolerance that has taught me a bit how certain kinds of processed, man-made foods can negatively effect my body.  I also struggle from some chronic skin issues that some people swear are exacerbated by processed foods, dairy, etc., and can be majorly helped by this way of eating (acne and eczema would be my skin ailments du jour).  Lastly, and more importantly, I do have a family history of cancer... seems like just about everyone in my family has had some form of cancer at some point in their lives, so I sometimes feel like a ticking time bomb.  I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle to try to reduce my risk, and figure that taking my eating habits one step further in that direction could possibly make me feel even better about what I'm doing to reduce my risk.  Many people swear that eating this way can indeed reduce many risk factors when it comes to cancer, particularly breast cancer (which my mother and grandmother have both battled), due to the way processed foods (and particularly dairy) can impact your hormones (and breast cancer is often linked to hormones and whatever it is they do in your body.  Yes my science knowledge is vast, I know).


Phil is luckily on board to try this experiment with me (thank goodness, because I think it would be extremely hard to live with somebody during this time who was helping himself to fresh-baked chocolate chips on a regular basis).  His reasoning lies behind more of a general desire to be healthier, and he's always been curious about healthier ways of eating.  He's particularly interested in the "TIGER BLOOD!!" phase, and feeling more energetic overall.  In reading up about some of the benefits of eating this way, however, I found a few chronic issues he deals with that could be helped, such as chronic sinus congestion and chronic muscle/joint inflammation/pain/tightness.


So, the plan is to embark on this experiment on March 1 and try to stick with it for the entire month (anybody got a good, catchy name for this? So far all I've come up with is "ALL OF THE MEATS March"... or how about "Masochistic March"?).  We are going to try to eat strictly "paleo" for one month, to see how it affects us, and then evaluate at the end to see what we'd like to do long term.  I know we won't be super strict about it forever, and if we do decide to eat this way long-term, we will allow ourselves a few chances to "cheat" each week (otherwise we'd go insane and probably be in the "KILL ALL OF THE THINGS!" phase forever.)


So that's that.  I'll plan to share on this blog how it's going throughout the month. In the meantime, we've got about 2 weeks left to binge on all of our favorite processed foods. If you are made in a factory and have ingredients I can't pronounce.. be afraid... be very afraid.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Insert Macklemore Pun Here

So this post is about some thrift shop art I revamped, so I'll let you come up with your own Macklemore-related punny title for this post. I've been only mildly inconsistent on the blogging front, but I remembered that I never shared a super fast, easy, cheap art project I tackled this past summer.  You may remember from this post that we made off with a major haul of thrifted frames, etc., a while back.  One of those suckers finally made it's way into a DIY-ed art project.  To refresh your memory, we started with this guy:


Obviously, this guy as-is is U-G-L-Y.  But I thought the frame was a unique shape and had potential. So I decided to just replace the ugly needlework fabric (which was wrapped around a backing inside the frame, with some much more appealing fabric and voila!


Fun fact, I had my eye on this fabric at Hobby Lobby for months.. there was a roll of it in the clearance section (that I always troll everytime I go there), but given it is nice, sturdy upholstery fabric and there was a sizable chunk of it, it was still over $20 on clearance.  So I waited and finally it got marked down even more and so I finally snatched it up! Good things Cheap fabric comes to those who wait...

Anywho, as it stands alone I actually kind of liked the frame as -is, with the vintage-y wood quality, and thought the whole thing just screamed 1970's (which most people hate, but I happen to loooooovelovelovelove), but when I hung it on the wall, the brown wood just did not jive with our chocolate milk colored walls. .


So, like many things in our house these days, it got a good-old-fashioned spray painting.


The white frame just works better, I think, especially given most frames in our house are white these days.  I love how the blue and red stripes in the chevron pattern pick up the colors of the living room as you walk in.  Perfection! And to maintain a bit of the worn/vintage quality I liked about it before painting it, I used some sandpaper to lightly scratch up some of the paint.

  

This project cost me less than $10, as the frame was likely around $2 at a thrift store, and the fabric was around $12-15, I believe, but of course I only used a little bit of it for this project so that will last me a few projects to come. Hooray for being cheap thrifty!