Making Paleo Easy

We are coming to a close on our Whole30 challenge.  We’ve made it the whole month with only a few minor cheat days.  The biggest take away I have thus far is that I don’t want to quit!  I imagine we will be less strict with it but I feel better, enjoy eating more and find it much easier to shop and cook with a Paleo lifestyle.  The kids have also been eating better and trying new things–can’t really beat that.

The hardest thing has been breakfast.  While I love eggs and bacon, I don’t want to cook it every morning.  I miss drinking my coffee while the kids got their cereal instead of trying to get a cup of coffee down while they fuss at me to cook for them. The easiest way to get around this is to have some easy things in the fridge for them to eat like yogurt,  cheese, ham slices, mix up a fast smoothie with frozen fruit, nuts are a good starter, dates are amazing… Ah, now I can enjoy that cup of coffee in peace!

Here’s some things I’ve discovered cooking Paleo over the last few weeks:

 IMG_5211

Your blender is your friend.  Use it.  Daily.

IMG_5214

You can put almost anything into a smoothie.  And even the kids won’t know about all the delicious nutrition in there. (We’re talking spinach, apples, frozen fruit, almond butter, beets, squash… ) We lovingly call many of our smoothies “mud.”  My children love to drink mud.

IMG_5217

Smoothies are probably the fastest Paleo lunch or breakfast to throw together when you are out of ideas.  Throw an entire salad and some nut butter in there and you have all the nutrition you possibly could need.

IMG_5114

Almost any vegetable can be mixed with almost any meat and it will look and taste delicious–experiment with any combination. I dare you.

 IMG_5037

Miss things like tacos?

IMG_5038

Make it into a salad.

 IMG_5039

You can sauté just about anything.  Start with coconut oil, spices, garlic, peppers, etc..

  IMG_5041

Fry (this is canned tuna)

IMG_5042

Serve with some sort of vegetable side and you have a super quick and scrumptious meal.

  IMG_5082

Basically anything that sounds delicious, is delicious.  (This is sweet potatoes, apples and walnuts sautéed in coconut oil. Mmmm.)

 IMG_5123

Broil those veggies–it’s fast and delicious.

  IMG_5120

Kids actually do like vegetables!  Who would have thought!

Have fun!

Paleo–Week 1 Observations

Here’s what I expected from my first week of the Paleo diet:

-I expected hunger

-I expected difficulty sticking with the diet

-I expected difficulty meal planning

-I expected to feel more energy

-I expected serious carb and sugar cravings

-I expected it to be worth it but hard

Here’s what happened in the first week:

-My hunger is more satisfied than it has been in months

-I actually WANT to stick to the diet

-Meal planning has been a dream (have meat, have veggies, use any combo of both and you have a meal)

-I absolutely DO have more energy

-I experienced no cravings. (Even walking by doughnuts, I had no desire to get one)

-It has been much easier than expected.

-Both my husband and I have lost weight. (I was surprised by the immediacy of this)

This first week has been so interesting.  I have to admit, as much as I wanted to try the diet, I still felt some skepticism about it.  But it has been amazing.

The first thing I noticed this week, was a renewed energy.  Something I’ve been missing for years.  I love the foods we are eating.  As a grazer, I was worried I’d really miss having salty carb filled snacks to eat all day–not so.  I look forward to munching on some nuts or snap peas and just a few bites satisfy all my snack craving.  There is nothing I have missed.

This weekend, we went to a party and lost  a little ground.  We were hungry and ate what was available.  And I have to admit the Orthodox came out in both of us–never refuse food when offered.  (Even if it’s a huge piece of chocolate cake with butter cream icing.)  But you know what? I didn’t really enjoy any of it and I felt worse afterwards–as did my husband.  It was almost good for us to take that break because we realized how much we wanted to continue the diet.

Something that has surprised both of us, is the weight loss.  Even after one week, I not only feel trimmer but I feel stronger.  Unlike other diets where I’ve simply lost weight by not eating enough and felt weak, the Paleo diet has allowed me to eat as much as I want and feel full while still losing the weight.  I don’t have a whole lot of weight to lose but I almost feel like my body is just getting healthier–like my little unpleasant places left over from pregnancy or lack of exercise are turning into body.  It feels great.

The most difficult thing has been convenience.  It’s hard to go out to eat and you have to plan to have snacks on hand.  Also, kids activities are awful–I never realized that every single kids event served nasty little carb ridden snacks.  I am going to have to do some more brainwashing to get the kids interested in bringing their own Paleo snacks everywhere they go.  Also, getting the kids to eat Paleo has been really easy.  They have felt better too, I think, and are more willing to try new things.

I am ecstatic to get back on board this week and continue this journey.

Paleo Day 2

It’s the second full day of becoming Paleo.  Not a whole lot of observations yet other than 1) Paleo lunch ideas have been difficult to think up and 2) I am surprisingly satisfied!  I’m not hungry at all–in fact I am MORE satisfied then when I was eating breads and carb fillers.  I’m a nursing mom with a high metabolism so this is really exciting–it feels great!

Today I think I finally realized what a Paleo lunch might look like.  I think salad is a great carrier for left overs.  I made a salad consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken (I cheated and bought this pre-made–but I made sure it was pure natural chicken with only spices no extra ingredients), left over sweet potatoes fried in coconut oil, cashews and red peppers.  It was delightful.

IMG_5016

For the kids, I made them plates of snap peas, celery, salad, the fried sweet potatoes and hot dogs (again, I cheated with these for the kids but made sure they were all natural with no fillers).  They ate every bite–it was truly amazing.

IMG_5014

For Paleo baby, I just kept throwing food on her high chair tray.

IMG_5012
Eat all the food!!!

When she was full, she threw the remainder of her lunch on the floor.  When I got her down from her high chair, she immediately went and ate what she had thrown off the floor–a true cave baby.

IMG_5018

 I’m so proud.

Paleo Kids–Food Recognition

As an introduction to our new Paleo diet, I taught the kids how to recognize the foods we will eat and the foods we will avoid.  Essentially I told them to look for foods with one ingredient.  I gave them a bunch of food sale ads and had them cut out foods that qualify as Paleo and those that don’t.  They then glued the pictures onto a plate of Paleo food and a plate of foods to avoid.  They both did surprisingly well at the project and it was great to see them getting on board with the diet.

Here’s what their final projects for Paleo food plates looked like:

IMG_5009

IMG_5007

Paleo Weekly Menu–Week 1

This week will be a huge learning curve for me figuring out how to cook without grains, legumes and carbs.  We eat a lot of noodles, rice and bread so this will be interesting but I’m excited.  You can read why we are attempting the Paleo diet here

I scoured the internet for Paleo menu plans, recipes and shopping lists only to get completely overwhelmed.  So instead of using some of the more complex Paleo recipes out there, I’m going to use this matrix and will cook mostly simple meals this first week.

Monday–this is our last non-paleo day and I’ll be using ingredients we have on hand to make a tofu, bok choy, noodle stir fry.

Tuesday–Meatloaf and green beans

Wednesday–Taco salad

Thursday–Fish (probably salmon) and sweet potatoes

Friday–Baked Chicken and veggies

Saturday–Veggie soup

Sunday–Meatballs and spaghetti squash

Breakfasts: eggs, bacon, leftovers, fruits and yogurt, smoothies

Lunches:  Tuna salad, egg salad,  shrimp on salad, veggie platters,

Snacks: Nuts, dried fruit, veggies, fruit

Shopping list:

Ground beef

Fish

Whole fryer chicken

Bacon

Shrimp

Eggs

Canned Tuna

Canned Salmon

Dried Fruit

Nuts

Frozen veggies

Spaghetti squash

Green beans

Lettuce

Tomatoes

Peppers

Spaghetti sauce

Chicken broth

Sweet potatoes

Frozen fruit

Yogurt

Fresh fruites

Fresh veggies

Fresh herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary)

Coconut oil

Stevea

Coffee

Juice

Why Paleo?

Why are we trying out the Paleo Diet?  Mostly for my son and I.  I have recently been diagnosed with hashimoto’s thyroiditis which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder.  My doctors originally thought I had post-partum thyroiditis but the last specialist truly believes, based on my history, that it is hashimoto’s thyroiditis–a life long disorder.  I am regulating my thyroid using hormones but I still go through “episodes” that cause joint pain, extreme exhaustion, muscle weakness, mental fogginess, severe depression, etc.  Apparently, any time you mess with the thyroid (good or bad), it takes a while for symptoms to get better.  It has been years of going through cyclical “spells.”   I have been interested in the Paleo diet but wasn’t sure I really wanted to try it until I read several testimonial from other autoimmune sufferers–specifically those with hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was so excited to read that their symptoms were greatly relieved by  changing their eating habits, and I’m willing to give it a try.

The other reason I want to try to the Paleo challenge, is my son.  He’s on the autism spectrum and I have read over and over again that autism symptoms can be relieved by gluten free eating.  He has always been an incredibly picky eater and has craved white, salty, over-processed carbs.  This diet will be a challenge for him to comply to but I’m hoping once we make the change, he will feel much better and will be more cognitive as a result.

The premise of the diet makes sense to me–our society is full of over processed foods with way too many ingredients.  As I attempt to simplify our lives in other ways, it only makes sense for us to simplify our diet–eating whole foods in their pure forms.

I have never been a fan of “fad diets” and I’ve never really believed that a particular way of eating can change your life.  I have, however, been attempting to become more crunchy and have struggled with how to do that with our meals.  I’d love to be feeding my family truly healthy meals–I spend every evening cooking meals for my family so they might as well be good for you!  Anyway, the Paleo diet seems like a promising way to possibly help us feel better and eat healthier.  It’s worth the try! And coming from a skeptic, I will share my honest opinions as we go through the process.

Pre Paleo Party

We have decided to try out the Whole30–do 30 days of a Paleo diet and see how it goes from there.  We are including the kids in this. This week is going to consist of teaching about nutrition and learning how to eat on a Paleo diet (as well as reasons why).

The first step of going Paleo is cleaning out your pantry from all things that are not on the diet (carbs, grains, legumes, etc). I really don’t like wasting food so I didn’t want to just throw it all in the garbage. When the kids woke up I had a surprise for them–I told them they could eat any of the food items I had on the counter all day long.  They could eat all the cookies, all the chips, all the crackers they wanted to their hearts content.

IMG_5006

They went crazy!

IMG_5005

Party time!

IMG_5002

Enjoy, little children, enjoy,  ’cause starting tomorrow you’ll become a cave man and you’ll be eating only meats and veggies!