Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wow, it has been a while! But then again, I told you that it would be. I have been busy trying to get my side business off the ground – so busy, in fact, that I am taking a little break from it to try to clear my head. It has been very great and very rewarding so far!

Luckily, throughout all the craziness, my Paleo lifestyle has remained intact. I always say that this is the easiest “diet” to stick to! It does have its moments, though. I went to my conference last month and did pretty well, except for lunch. I made the best choices that I could – the best choice probably would have been to bring something to have, but I decided not to go that far. It affected me a little bit, and before I was even over the effects of that, I made a couple of really poor choices at Red Robin when I was there for my teenager’s cast party for their production of Romeo and Juliet. I have just in the last 12 hours gotten over that, and that was two weeks ago! I should really know better – I have been an emotional wreck for these last three weeks (when you count the aftermath of the conference). I seriously think that if I ever stopped eating Paleo, the people around me would have something to say about it, simply because I am so crazy when I make the wrong choices.

My teenager seems to agree with me on that front. While she was doing the play, she had a hard time staying Paleo. She told me that she couldn’t wait until the play was over so that she could start eating better. She said that she felt less stressed and less emotional when she was eating Paleo, and she always seemed to be happy. Who would have thought that bread and grains, which are said to release serotonin when you eat them, could have such a negative effect on your mood?

She turned her grandparents on to Paleo when she stayed with them over the summer, and her grandmother went to Costco and bought me a huge supply of extra virgin, organic coconut oil. It has definitely been a change from the cheap stuff that I have been getting because it has a more coconut-y  aroma and flavor. It has taken some getting used to, but it is heavenly. I may have to get a membership to Costco to get some more, because I haven’t seen anything like that at Sam’s.

One of the reasons why I bring up the coconut oil is because it is a key element of this recipe. If you are using the cheap stuff, then you have nothing to worry about. Usually mushroom cream sauce is made with butter and heavy cream, and I have made it many, many times. My fiance loves the stuff. I thought I was out of luck until a lightbulb went off in my head this past week and I realized that I could use coconut oil and coconut milk. However, since I am using really good coconut oil, the mushroom cream sauce comes out tasting a little coconut-y. Not a problem for me, the coconut freak. But some people may be turned off by it. So keep that in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind: I do not know how long to tell you to cook the sauce. When cooking it, the oil and milk will start to meld, and then it will condense and get a little thicker. Beyond that point, the oil and the milk begin to separate again and it actually starts to look quite nasty. I have kind of figured out where that line is, but I can’t give you a set amount of time before that happens. I had to learn about that as I went.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 6 chicken breasts

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup coconut milk

 

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then cook the chicken breasts in the oil until they are tender and there is no longer any pink. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they will brown on both sides.

When the chicken is done cooking, take them out of the pan and add the mushrooms to the remaining oil. Cook and stir them for a few minutes (the longer you cook them, the more mushroom flavor your sauce will have). After the mushrooms are soft, stir in the coconut milk and boil, stirring to mix the brown bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Boil for about three minutes, until thickened. Spoon (or pour!) the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and enjoy!

Advertisements

My Cheating Heart

Okay, I have a confession to make. Last week was a rough week. I have had SO many wonderful things happening that I had to cut some things loose, which broke my heart (although this week I have found out that I didn’t really cut them loose at all). By the end of the week I was ready for a stress-free weekend – meaning no work, no school, no extra-curricular planning for the teacher trainings that I am going to do… and no stressing out over the diet. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted except for the bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes. And I loved every bite of it.

This week has been rough, of course, as my body tries to rid itself of all of the sugar that I inevitably ate over the weekend. I’m sure there was other stuff in all of that food that I ate, too, but I do have to say that I needed that plunge. I was happy that I was able to keep my self-control enough to not be tempted by the bread and things like that – especially since the biscuits and gravy seemed to be calling my name at Golden Corral on Sunday morning.

As I reflect on the weekend and how proud of myself I am, as well as taking mental notes on the hell my body is going through right now as it recovers, I am getting a little worried about the annual vacation that my fiance and I take each May. I’m not incredibly worried about anything except the very first meal that we are going to have, which will be at a little seafood joint in Wilmington. If I remember correctly, they don’t have a lot of broiled or grilled anything on their menu. Last year I caved so bad at the same restaurant – the first meal of the vacation. But last year in May I wasn’t on the Paleo diet, I didn’t have the conviction behind me because I hadn’t been able to observe how my body handles some foods. I was on a regular low-carb diet then, still eating dairy and probably a lot of other things that I have found since then do my body incredible damage. My self-control was lower than it is now because I was eating things that was causing my body to crave other things. That isn’t happening since I have found out what my body can handle and what it can’t.

Usually I don’t let it stress me so much, but sometimes I go into the annual vacation thinking, “It is vacation! Eat what you want and then come back and get over it!” However, I know how hard it is to start over on this diet. I know that once you eat the carby food, you crave more and it could snowball – especially since I have been so addicted to carbs my whole life. I know how hard it is to start over, and I know how rough that two week period where your body heals and gets rid of the crap is (I’m going through it again right now!). I don’t think I could allow myself to go into this vacation and eat whatever I want, especially since I have made such great progress.

I guess part of my problem is that I know that it is going to be hard to plan for everything, but at the same time I know how great my self-control and motivation has been. I know that I will probably be fine, but I want to be able to enjoy myself and have my fiance enjoy himself while we are on the vacation. I know that enjoying myself doesn’t have as much to do with the food, and that I can get through the vacation on the 80%-20% rule – although I’m really not sure what the 80%-20% rule is. Maybe it is exactly how I ate over this past weekend. If it is, I think that I will probably be fine.

What In The World?

So this week has gotten off to an interesting start: I have been mad thirsty for almost twenty-four hours, and I am willing to bet that I have guzzled more water in this time than I had the previous two weeks. Which also makes me think that I had been eating something that I shouldn’t have. The problem is, I have no idea what it would have been; my diet has been very clean (or at least I thought it was). I really can’t recall what I ate last week because the week was pretty much a blur. I do know that I was glad that it was over. I also know that I didn’t sleep very well and I didn’t drink enough water all week last week, and maybe the week before also.

So today my body is feeling like I have deprived it of something, I have been drinking water like crazy all day, and I have been so freaking hungry! I am not sure what has happened or what I ate, but I will be so happy when my body gets over this and gets back to its old self. The roller coaster rides are killing me!

As I am typing this I am still trying to figure out what I ate that would have caused this insanity, but I can’t figure it out. I guess at this point all I can hope for is that I don’t do whatever I did again, which should be pretty easy since I have been going strong since September (with no cheats and absolutely no desire to!).

I do seem to remember that my weight went down early last week and then it spiked, and I remember that I wasn’t surprised that it spiked, so I must have known that whatever it was that I had eaten was going to cause that to happen.

I did manage to do something cool: I figured out how to make my own breakfast sausage. I love sausage and eggs for breakfast, but I can’t get by with just eggs. I stay hungry until lunch if I just eat eggs, and every type of breakfast sausage I have looked at not only has crazy ingredients, but sugar! So I began to look at different recipes, and I did a little bit of experimenting, and this is what I came up with:

Breakfast Sausage

One pound of ground pork

garlic powder

salt

1  tsp cumin

2 tsp sage

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

crushed red pepper to taste

During my first experimental batch, there were entirely too many spices involved, and some of them weren’t the right ones. It was good, but it needed work. This was my second batch, and it came out very nearly perfect. I found out that the key (for me) was the garlic powder and salt. I don’t have measurements for them in the ingredient list because I didn’t measure them. I put in quite a bit of garlic powder – to the point that I was worried that I had put in too much. I know that people’s tastes differ when it comes to salt, too. I usually use more than I think a lot of people would. So just salt it to taste. Let the sausage sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours after you mix all of the ingredients together so that the flavors will meld, and then cook it up and enjoy it!

 

 

The Sugar Tantrum

I told my boyfriend that I have felt like these past few days have been a “make-it-or-break-it” time for me with this lifestyle. I’ve been tired, the smell of anything sweet has been driving me crazy, and I’m having cravings like crazy. Not for anything specific – just for sugar in general. I think even a piece of plain bread would have calmed my body down. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on until I visited the Whole 30 website to try to find some answers.

If you have never been to the Whole 30 or Whole 9 websites, I highly recommend that you go. There is a wealth of information on those sites that will give you all of the tools you need to live a healthy life. Plus, they have the 30 day challenge, which is great. Basically it is eating strict Paleo for thirty days. If you don’t feel better after thirty days, go back to your old habits – it is that simple.

So I was going through their website looking for information about how I was feeling, and I came across a blurb about “sugar tantrums.” Basically this is when your body has had it with not getting any sugar and makes you feel like crap until you give it some. I think that it is an off and on process that your body goes through until it gets used to the fact that it will have to use stored body fat and the food it is getting as energy. The key to getting through the sugar tantrum is willpower and good fats.

I think that on some level I knew that this was what was happening, but I’m not sure that I have handled it the right way. I cut down on my vegetable consumption simply because I wanted guacamole – I started getting fajita filling for lunch from the Mexican place down the road from where I work (basically the meat, peppers, onions, and guac). Not entirely bad, but not a good choice for three meals out of the whole week. Especially since I don’t know if they make their guacamole in-house or not. It could have all kinds of preservatives and crap in it. I would be much better off getting a salad and putting some avocado slices on it.

Then there was the coffee episode from the other night. That will never happen again! Cream is so out after that episode. And I think it will be a while before I want any bacon again.

So I feel almost like I am starting over, although I have done very well. I give myself many props for not putting anything with gluten into my mouth, and having the smarts to look up these issues that I’m having. After all, knowledge is power. The more I know, the easier it will be to power through this.

So I do need to make a few changes. No more fajita filling! Not for a while, anyway. It was supposed to be a one-time treat a week ago and it turned into the three time treat. That is just insane. Coffee may also go for the time being, so that I can focus on being as healthy as possible and getting my body over this hump. Although…I may think about the coffee some more. Coffee isn’t all that bad; it is the stuff we put in it that is bad. Caffeine isn’t all that good, though.

I am going to go back to my salads for lunch. My body was doing really well with that. If I feel the tantrum coming on, I’ll get an avocado. And I may keep some fruit on hand like I was doing, also. That will probably help, also.

Wow

Well, I have done pretty well. I think that my eating has gotten off track somewhere because I have started craving stuff again. I think it started with the chicken spaghetti fiasco. I’m not sure if I had too many tomatoes going on, or what, but the cravings have been bad. So much so that last night I had breakfast for dinner: bacon, sausage, and eggs. I even had coffee…with heavy cream.

Big mistake. I couldn’t sleep last night because of the caffeine, and when I woke up this morning, my stomach was a mess because of the cream. Not only that, but the bacon tasted so salty to me that I couldn’t even enjoy it. It was a mess of a dinner.

I’m trying to figure out what I did, where I went wrong. I haven’t actually cheated all that much. The cream yesterday is all of the dairy I’ve had, and I’ve fought the cravings I’ve had for the bread. But the smells of the stuff at work (I work at a daycare, and sometimes the smells of their snacks can get to me) have really been bothering me! Yesterday it was sugar cookies, and today it was animal crackers. Not good enough food to make me want to give in, but I hope no one comes in front of me with a muffin!

So I’m trying to do some research tonight to figure out what is going on with me, and I’m trying to drink a lot of water, too, because I think I’m not getting enough. Hopefully I’ll have some answers by the next time I post.

Energy!

Well, the first week is almost over. So far, all I have experienced is a few headaches in the evening – almost every evening this week. Luckily, I have learned that this is normal when you are going through carb withdrawals. On the plus side, I am not tired any more; I don’t feel like I have to have a nap every afternoon, and the other night I went to bed at 9:30 and didn’t think I could go to sleep because I wasn’t sleepy! And  I am sleeping so much better at night! This has been great so far. Eventually, further on down the line, I will start to monitor my calories so that I can lose some weight on this plan, but for right now, I’m going to let my body get used to it. I may give myself as much as a month. I have had incredible willpower so far, but I don’t want to do anything to rock the boat since I am just beginning. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I’ve seen temptation a few times, but it hasn’t been bad (I saw a Snicker’s bar when I was in the gas station earlier and I thought “mmmmm…that would be good” but it wasn’t enough of a temptation for me to pick it up – especially since I know that my energy is coming from not eating that stuff).

I hope that I NEVER take this new-found energy for granted because it is so awesome to have it and I don’t want to lose it.

Carb Addiction

So if ANYONE has been reading this blog, they know that I’ve been having my ups and downs with Weight Watchers. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went to the beach, and for some reason it inspired me to try to get back up on the wagon. So when we went grocery shopping I bought all of my usual weight-loss inspired products: high fiber granola bars, low fat cereal, low fat yogurt, and other things that I figured would make the journey to weight loss simple and easy.

Boy, did I think wrong. It seems like nothing about weight loss for me is easy. First of all, every time I start weight watchers on my own, I seem to get incredibly sick with a cold or something else within a few weeks to a month. I’m so tired in the afternoons and evenings that I can’t think straight and have no patience for anything – and I have to have patience at my job; I work in a daycare! So for a whole week I was tired and irritable and didn’t have much to do with my own kids. I headed for bed early every night. And I thought, “This is the kind of thing that has had my boyfriend telling me to see a doctor.” And then I remembered that the one time that I was on Weight Watchers and it worked for me, I HAD to have a nap every single afternoon. It worked out for me then, though, because I got off of work at two in the afternoon. Not so now.

I started doing some online research about what could possibly be making me so tired all the time. A lot of sites said that this tired feeling was normal – which I absolutely refuse to believe. I can believe being a little tired, maybe, but not this overwhelming, OMG I have GOT to have a nap RIGHT NOW kind of tired that I have been feeling for the past week.

Then I came across a site that said something about insulin resistance. Now this is something that I’m familiar with, being that my boyfriend is diabetic. And after I cataloged the enormous amount of carbs that I was eating every day from the time I got out of bed in the morning to the time I got back into bed (exhausted) in the evening, I realized that I was stuffing myself so full of carbs that the insulin in my system is probably not working any more.

Now I am starting a big experiment, and it will actually be the second time I am trying it. I am cutting carbs. Specifically, I am cutting anything that has wheat or other cereal grains, bread, pasta, and stuff like that. I actually haven’t had any of that for two days. And the way I am feeling now has prompted me to research carb withdrawals.

Let me be clear now, lest I be misunderstood: THIS experiment is more about health for me than weight loss. Anyone who has been tired all the time knows how much it SUCKS! I have plenty of books that have plenty of information about carbs and their affect on the body to reference, thanks to my boyfriend. I am trying to read them and gain as much information as I can from them, as well as looking for other sources online. And from what I have gathered from this information so far, this is probably going to be the healthiest decision that I have made since I decided to be more conscious about my health OR my weight. And since this is now about health more than about weight, I am going to change the focus of this blog to reflect that. I am going to use this blog to vent any frustrations, hopefully talk out any cravings I have, and keep up this amazing willpower that I have been exhibiting to myself the past couple of days (remembering how tired I am after I eat that crap doesn’t hurt – I was so tired Friday night after I ate pizza that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went to bed at 8:30).