Eureka! at the Farmer’s Market

So let me tell you how my week went. First, I bought a bike. I’m still super excited about it, but I haven’t really had many chances to ride it yet. Except for today. And the weather was gorgeous. But I didn’t ride. I have been pretty tired today, probably from all of the walking we did when we went to the Biltmore Estate for our vacation trip. It was pretty fun. That house is amazing! Oh, did I say house? I meant mansion! I couldn’t even imagine all of the work it would take to keep up that place if you were living in it.

So since we were out of town, my eating was a little shaky. Usually I stress and stress about it, but this time I didn’t. I have learned by now that I can usually find something to eat almost anywhere that won’t have grains in it – my one big rival. And while I am sensitive to sugar, I can tolerate it better than grains.

I did pretty good. I think the high amount of sugar I ate is probably a contributing factor to why I am so tired today, but in a few days that will be gone. I am planning on getting out and riding tomorrow, since it is my last vacation day, and enjoying some of this beautiful weather. Watch – now that I’ve said that, it will be hot and rainy tomorrow and I won’t be able to go anywhere on my bike. Yes, I know that bikes still work in the rain. I haven’t gotten that gung-ho about it yet.

I made my weekly trip to the farmer’s market today to get some vegetables and eggs. I have been searching for convenient place to get pasture eggs for a while now. What I mean by pasture eggs is that the owners let the chickens run around outside and eat bugs and worms and other things that are healthy for them, rather than keeping them in a building and feeding them grain all day. Now that we have been eating Paleo for some time, we are getting more concerned about the quality of the food that we are eating. I do a lot of shopping at the farmer’s market, and I can’t wait until more vegetables are in season. Right now strawberries are in season, and I have really been enjoying them with a spoonful of cashew butter.

My fiance (Clint) and I watched the documentary Food, Inc. about a month ago, and it was very eye opening. It talked about how different animals are treated when they are raised for food by corporations like Tyson. It also discussed how there really are only a handful of companies that control the vast amounts of brands that we have available to us in the store, and how they are shifting some of their products in order to sell them in the middle of the organic and all-natural food craze that we are finding ourselves in the middle of them. I personally don’t trust them to create anything all natural. Even if something says “all natural” on the label I still read the ingredients, and nine times out of ten there will be something in that item that doesn’t pass my strict standards. After watching the documentary I wasn’t happy with organic eggs or cage-free eggs, because when you think about it, those words could mean anything. The chickens that we saw in the documentary weren’t in cages, but they rarely – if ever – saw sunlight and were so crowded in the buildings that they were in that they couldn’t possibly get any exercise. They were fed grain from who knows where, most of the time treated with antibiotics to keep the chickens from getting sick in their cramped conditions. I know one thing – I don’t want my eggs to be from chickens that are raised like that.

So I was super-excited when I found this woman at the farmer’s market selling pasture-raised eggs, and she has pasture-raised beef and chicken too! And she’s local! Clint and I are very passionate about supporting local businesses, so I am sure that we are going to be doing more business with this woman in the future.

I joined a Paleo-themed group on Facebook this week. The people in this group like to post pictures of what they are eating. I don’t think I could make it posting pictures for this group. Each plate that I see has a little portion of meat, a little portion of vegetables, and a little portion of some sort of fat. I am looking at these pictures thinking “there is no way that I could survive eating that little amount of food!” Maybe that is why I haven’t lost any more weight than I have. I don’t know. I do know that when I took my health class for school we had to track our calories for a week and my calories were spot-on every day without me even trying or tweaking anything. But I look at those pictures and the small amounts of food, and then I look at what I am eating every day and I think, “Am I doing something wrong?” Apparently no one in the Paleo community eats quite as much food as I do. Or at least, the ones on that particular page don’t. And when I make an honest effort to get in the exercise that I should, I get hungrier, which means that I eat even more! I have thought about trying to cut the amount of protein that I am eating down and adding more fat and vegetables, because I am pretty sure that I am eating too much meat. But those pictures make me seriously wonder if I am missing something or if I am doing something wrong.

I want to get back into my yoga more seriously, too. I cut way back when school got hectic, so I haven’t really made any progress. I am looking forward to giving that more of my time this week. I’ll let you know how it goes! Right now I need to go check on the pulled pork that I put in the crock pot this morning!

A New Hobby?

So, school is over. I graduated last Friday with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. It feels really good to be done, but I think the past few days have been a series of “now what?” moments, where I’m just not sure what happens next. After all, school took up a good deal of my time and energy, and while I am glad that it is over, I know that the empty space where all of that time and energy used to be spent needs to be filled with something. I am not one to sit around that much.

Or am I? I have been looking over my lifestyle, and while I have pretty much conquered the Paleo lifestyle (2+ years and counting!) I haven’t been very active. I lost 50 lbs in the first six months of the Paleo journey and I haven’t lost anything else. I’m horribly out of shape. And I tend to hibernate when the weather gets warm.

Back in December I started doing yoga. It was one of the BEST things I have ever done for myself! I started it for stress relief, because between school and the business that I am trying to get off the ground, I have been a big ball of absolute stress. When the stress from school got really bad and allergy season hit me like a ton of bricks a few weeks ago, I had to stop doing it as regularly as I had been. I don’t think I’ve done anything in about a week now, and it had been a week or so before that. Whenever I get off the mat, I miss it. And every time I step back on the mat I talk about how I shouldn’t have let it take so long before I got on the mat again. Yoga is definitely something that I want to keep doing, for the stress benefits and the health benefits as well. I have seen improvement of my strength and flexibility since I started, and I may have to come up with some sort of schedule so that I will keep doing it more regularly.

I started my spring vacation today, and I stepped out on a big limb. I bought a bike. This is huge for me, because – as I said – I tend to hibernate when the weather gets warm. I don’t think I have voluntarily done anything outdoors that would make me hot and sweaty (get your mind out of the gutter!) in years, so this is a very big leap. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure that I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a teenager. I was anxious about getting a bike the right size since I am incredibly short, but the one that I got is perfect. The guy at the bike shop that we went to was very helpful and helped me pick out a bike that fit me perfectly. I took the bike out when I got home, and had to do a little adjusting, but after taking it back out again later, I felt just like a kid again on that bike. It was great, to feel the wind as I was riding down the road. Bikes have come a long way since I had one, so I have been getting used to changing gears. I have come a long way since I had one, too (not necessarily in a good way) so I have also been getting used to pedaling up hills again. It was fun taking it out and riding around, and the great thing is that we have a bunch of bike trails right near our house – we are in the middle of the biking area of town. I should have no problems finding places to bike.

So this is something that I want to schedule some time for, too. I need to make myself get outdoors more and move around more. It will probably help my overall mood and strength and probably other things, too. And now that school is over, I have more time to blog about it, too!

A Learning Experience

I know that it has been a very long time since I have posted anything, but I warned you all that I needed to focus my energy elsewhere. Through this entire time, I have kept my Paleo lifestyle intact. Well, for the most part. I can say that I have not knowingly or willingly eaten something that has not met my exacting specifications, and I have done a super-stellar job of planning through the holidays. Whenever you are in the process of changing or even keeping up a lifestyle change (especially one that goes so heavily against popular culture) it is vitally important to plan.

So the “knowingly or willingly” part of the above statement is crucially important for the learning experience that I have been through this past week, because I apparently ingested some sort of wheat substance at some point about a week ago. I suppose that, since I don’t eat wheat products at all (and am very careful about reading labels) it really took its toll on me. I had definite carb flu symptoms all last weekend, but nothing compared to what I went through this week.

On Monday I was still going through the carb flu. I think it was the last day of it. Tuesday I felt absolutely great, and I thought that I was on the downhill slope. But on Wednesday, my stomach started feeling a little weird. It didn’t last too long on Wednesday, but when I got to work on Thursday and I was in excruciating pain I asked my boss if I could go home early to go to the doctor. By the time I got to the doctor, the pain was gone and I was given some antibiotics for a bladder infection that the doctor couldn’t find. I ate a huge dinner on Thursday night – and promptly spent the entire night in an excruciating pain that I can only compare to child birth.

By that time I’d had enough, and I started doing some research into this pain. I had noticed a pattern – it seemed to show up about two hours after I had eaten a meal. With my trusty internet in hand, I started Googling. And what I found out was amazing.

IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

I had heard of it before, but I’d never known anyone who’d had it or what causes it. But apparently, known catalysts are caffeine; just about any food that is listed on the Paleo “Do Not Eat” list – including wheat, dairy, and legumes; and stress. I had been concerned that stress was a factor in whatever it was going on because I am currently involved in a couple of events that are causing considerable stress. The caffeine made some sense because I had been staying away from coffee since last Saturday because of how I felt – and began to feel better – and began drinking it again on Tuesday. And I already suspected that I had ingested some sort of wheat product at the end of the week because of how I felt during the weekend.

Yesterday I spent the entire day at home recovering from the long, painful night. I made a huge pot of beef bone broth (find out more about this stuff here) and spent all day drinking it and hanging out on the couch. I’ve already had two cups of it this morning and I’m still hanging out on the couch, although I’m not in pain any more.

One thing that I can’t believe about IBS is that there are people who go through this all the time! Doctors don’t have a “cure” for it, so it can just pop up at any time if one of the catalysts is present and the person is sensitive to it. I can’t imagine going through that type of pain all the time. I missed over a day of work because of it. It really reinforces my already strong belief that “cheating” on this “diet” isn’t worth it in the long haul. I have found replacements for just about everything, including candy (roasted sweet potatoes are making a fine substitute for that). And if I can do that, it shouldn’t be hard for others to do it, too.

It also reinforced my belief that, as I go through day after day without coming in contact with wheat, dairy, soy, legumes, and additives, I have created a situation where I am much more sensitive to those things when I do come in contact with them. Usually I can pinpoint the culprit and make a mental note to stay away from it. In this case I can’t. I had gotten some ham steaks from the grocery store that Thursday – even though I read the ingredient list three times in the store, I didn’t catch that they had dextrose until I got home, and I still ate them. By the way, if a meat has an ingredient list, it is probably best to stay away from it. Friday we went to a burger place that I’ve never had a bad reaction to. They made my burger with a bun and I sent it back. I made play dough with wheat flour twice in two weeks, and I usually have a mild reaction to it each time I do it. I try not to make it more than once a month, but I found some really cool play dough activities that I wanted to try for the holidays. It really could have come from any one of those things, so I really have no idea what brought on the IBS symptoms. But I know that I have learned a lot from the experience.

I’m Really Here! And I’ve Made Buffalo Chicken Wings!

Wow, I haven’t posted since JanuaryUnbelievable! But I have a few good reasons…

We finally moved. In February. We are back in town, not too far from where my fiance works and my children go to school. It has been an amazing transition and a wonderful release of stress. My kids have been doing a lot better with school since we moved, and things seem to have calmed down for me, as far as being an emotional basket-case. I’ve had more time to do other things recently, like go back to school. I will have my degree in a year – finally!

So with this extra time, you would think that I would be able to come up with new recipes and post them, right? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened, if you can’t tell. I’ve been insanely busy with work, and school has taken some time (obviously). But I have had some time to try some new recipes and experiment a little bit. I haven’t really been too focused on experimenting in the kitchen lately; my job and schooling has had to take priority over that lately.

The chicken wing recipe that I have found is really easy. The first time I made it, my family killed the entire pan of chicken wings in about thirty minutes, and I have been getting the industrial-sized packs of chicken wings from Sam’s Club. I haven’t been using the small chicken wings, either. I’ve been getting the big Tyson packs of chicken wings. I have thought about using the smaller chicken wings, but the family really likes the crunchiness of the skin on the bigger chicken wings after I cook them, and I really do, too. Yesterday I made two batches: one that was more crunchy than the other. The crunchier skin won out during the taste test.

I found the sauce at Wal-Mart, which was great since we now have a Wal-Mart about two blocks away from us. Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce is awesome! I was a little concerned about it at first, because it has butter flavoring in it, and I try really hard to stay away from artificial flavorings. But we needed a change in this house because we were eating the same foods over and over again! So we decided to give it a shot and see what happened. And the result was great!

So here is the recipe for the Buffalo Chicken Wings:

1 package of chicken wings (if you use the smaller wings, follow the cooking directions on the bottle of Frank’s)

1 bottle of Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce

1 Ziploc bag to toss the wings

Preheat oven to 425. Place the chicken wings in the Ziploc bag and pour sauce liberally over them. Close the bag and toss the wings to coat with the sauce. Put the sauce-coated wings on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. When there are about 15 minutes left of the cooking time, take the wings out and apply another coat of sauce to them. Place them back in the oven to finish cooking.

Enjoy!

Fried Tilapia – Skip The W(h)ine If You Want To!

I am in pain. A lot of pain. I have been going to the gym now two or three times a week since my last post, doing my running app and lifting weights. Coming home and doing my squats so that I can have a nice looking backside for the first time in my life. Thursday night it snowed, so I ramped up my running workout and cut the weights out so that I could get home before the roads got too bad. Yesterday I decided to pull out the stops on my workout to make up for it. I also switched from running on the treadmill to running on the elliptical because my ankles were complaining about Thursday’s workout. That elliptical is no joke. I’ve used one before because I prefer not having the high impact on my poor weak ankles, but I’d forgotten just how serious of a workout it was. I was sweating through the very same Couch to 5K workout that I had done on Thursday on the treadmill without breaking a sweat. And it was nice. I may have to continue to use those ellipticals.

So back to the pain. I’m just sore – I haven’t overdone it or pulled anything yet. Although when my ankle started complaining on Friday I got concerned. I haven’t felt my poor ankles complain like that since junior high! But I will tell you – getting back in shape takes commitment because I have been nothing but sore and tired for two weeks now. I’m not complaining, because I have been enjoying the workouts. When I get off work, I swear that I am not going to go to the gym because I am so tired, but by the time I get there I am psyched to start my workout. And I feel like a million bucks when I am done. It has been great to go to the gym and work out all of the stress that I have accumulated. Hopefully I am a much more pleasant person to be around because of it. You’d have to ask everyone else, because I am around myself all the time, and I wouldn’t know.

Another thing that this has allowed me to do is take a look at my priorities. Actually I am not sure that is how I would word it. It may be more like growing a backbone. Any way you word it, I have been trying to identify pieces of my life that I am not happy with and trying to figure out how to change it or make it better. Simplifying. Talking to the people involved and figuring out how to change things. I am not a big talker. I tend to wait until I am about to lose my mind before I say anything. When you are tired and sore, you tend to lose your mind quicker, so talking becomes a priority. People tend to react negatively when you lose your mind.

You must be looking at the title of this post and thinking,”Okay, she has really lost it. Fried stuff? Yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too. I have been fixing tilapia the same way for a long time, and it has gotten really, really old. To the point that I would refuse to fix it. So my wonderful fiancé recommended getting some almond meal and using it on the fish to fry it or bake it. Well, if I am going to use almond meal, I want to fry it. Fried fish is just awesome. Fried anything is awesome! (Can you tell that the workouts are making me extremely hungry as well?) I have been a huge fan of the Whole 30 program, and they recommend not Paleo-fying unhealthy recipes because it could cause bad habits. I am definitely not going to start posting Paleo brownies or cookies because I really do think that would be unfair to my brain, but the fried fish was a much needed, very awesome change. And the clean-up was amazing, too! Almond meal doesn’t get all gummy and nasty in the pan like flour does when you fry it, so the clean-up was not a nightmare like I expected it to be.

I haven’t hit on a spice mixture that I like yet, in amounts that I like. I tend to like my food on the spicy side – I like to taste the flavors – so I am still working on that. In my first batch of fish I used garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, and red pepper flakes. In fact, this is the recipe that I used for my first batch. I will work on tweaking the amounts or using different spices to suit my tastes, but this recipe was a much welcome change from the way that I have normally been cooking tilapia. I also used coconut oil instead of olive oil because I heard that it works better at higher temperatures, and I hate the smell of olive oil when it gets hot.

Hope you enjoy it! And thanks to Cavemom Chronicles for the inspiration. And to my fiancé, of course!

Lessons Learned – A New Year Do-Over

Yes, I wussed out again. Remember when I told you about the girl that I work with who does CrossFit? And how excited I was about it? And how I was going to renew my focus on being able to do CrossFit in the new year? That was great, and a great feeling, but great feelings can’t get you through a workout. As some of you know, I have been doing CrossFit workouts at home for about six months now, although not all that consistently. The day after I posted that post, I looked up the workout for CrossFit Greensboro. It was a Saturday, and I was pumped.

Until I saw the workout: 800 m run? How far is 800 meters?

I pulled out Google and looked it up. And my heart sank: 800 meters is roughly half a mile.

Now, I’ve never been all that big into running. I have several family members who do the long distance running thing, and I have sat back in awe that anyone can do that, while secretly wishing that I could do it too. My second foray into a CrossFit gym had me walk out of the gym, completely worn out, after a half mile run. And that was just the warm up that day! I just don’t have the stamina and endurance to do it. Let’s face it – I’ve been sitting on the couch for seven years now. Stamina and endurance have a tendency to disappear when you do that.

Of course, there was more to the workout, and I considered dropping the running part and just doing the rest. 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats. Oh, and then we were supposed to run another 800 m.

I debated dropping the running and doing the rest. I debated riding down the road to this gravel track nearby, doing the running, coming home to do the rest, and driving back out there to do the second run. I weighed it all. And then I stopped and got completely honest with myself. Do I really want to walk into a gym where they expect you to do these kind of runs every now and then, knowing full well that I simply can’t do it? One of the reasons why I walked out of the gym the last time was because I was so completely embarrassed by my performance. Do I want to put myself through that again? Is it worth it?

I weighed it all week, although not entirely seriously. I talked to the girl and told her that I planned on coming. I worked the cost into my budget. I stopped thinking about it. And then I talked to another friend of mine who I used to go to a different gym with. She told me how much I had inspired her to get busy in the gym. She’s been going all year. She hasn’t gotten hung up on what gym to go to and what workout to do. She has simply been going and getting it done.

I went to my old gym with her yesterday, and I have to say that I have missed it. I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone so that I can work on my running, stamina, and endurance in a place where I won’t feel intimidated and embarrassed. I did my first workout with it yesterday, and it was really all that I needed. A structured running workout that I can restructure to my pace, because even that workout will get to be too much for me in about a week. And this morning I did some squats, and you know what? I realized that I don’t need a CrossFit gym to do this. I can tell that I am doing the squats right now. I am getting better at it. I have been working on my squats for an entire year on my own, and I am conquering them on my own. It took a while, but when I noticed that my center of gravity was different going down into the squat than it used to be and that I was getting lower into the squat than I used to, I was so proud of myself. Because I did that all by myself. Shoot, I’m getting choked up just writing about it, because that has been my goal for an entire year, and this morning I knew that I had reached it.

I told my friend yesterday that she ended up inspiring me just as much as I inspired her. I need to quit trying to make this so hard and just get out there and do what I can do. Every trip to the gym is a victory, and when a milestone is reached like the one I reached this morning, it is an even bigger victory. There are ways that I can identify goals that I want to reach, but I don’t need the name and the big, expensive gym to reach them. I just need patience and dedication. And I have shown myself that I really do have that. I told my fiancé yesterday about my friend saying how much I inspired her, and I asked him why it has been so hard for me to inspire myself. Well, now I see how that works, and I see the bigger picture.

A New Year – And Remastered Chili

Well, I’m already slacking. I usually get in a year-end reflection before the new year begins, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Seriously, I plan on kicking 2013’s butt so I guess I was trying to get a head start. Hopefully this post will make up for it.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I feel like this is the year to make some commitments. After all, I am seriously beginning to connect with the knowledge that I am going to continue to be in bad shape if I don’t exercise, Paleo or not. Plus with what I do at my day job and my side business, I seriously need an outlet of some sort. That was made perfectly clear in 2012.

The reason why I do not like making resolutions is because I do not enjoy feeling like a failure. If I resolve to do something, and then it doesn’t happen, what progress have I really made? If I feel like a failure, how much harder is it going to be to try again later?

So I am just going to say that I am going to try to give CrossFit another shot. A do-over. And I have a buddy to do it with, so that may help me be more successful and not feel so intimidated by the big gym with all the strong people. Maybe I will stick with it for more than a week. Maybe I will hang for two this time! That was a joke – I’d really like to stick with it longer than that. I really want to chronicle the journey as well, and see where my mindset has gone.

On another note, I received my end-of-year summary from WordPress, and it seems that you people really like recipes. In fact, I would almost dare to say that one of the only reasons you visit me is for my food. I was holding out hope that it was for my incredible writing skills or my unbelievable wit, but I’m starting to take the hint. So I will give you what you want. At least today. You know how inconsistent I am when it comes to this blog.

You may remember a few weeks ago when I said that I was retooling the Best Chili Ever recipe, trying to find a way to make the chili without so many tomatoes. When I said that, the chili was actually cooking, and I did not feel right about posting a recipe before I knew what it tasted like.

It was Awesome! So here it is:

The Best Chili Ever: Remastered

2 pounds ground beef
1pound ground pork (or bulk Italian sausage for more flavor)
1.5 pounds stew beef
1 large onion, minced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis
2 poblano peppers, minced
4 Anaheim peppers, minced
1 small can Herdez salsa verde
2 cups beef broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
3tbsp ground cumin
3 – 4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano

Brown the stew meat in a couple of tsp of coconut oil on very high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and put the diced onion into the pan, and cook until opaque. Add the beef broth and let cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the ground beef and pork (or sausage) and cook until the meat is browned. Place all of the meat (including the stew meat), spices, peppers, salsa verde, garlic, and tomatoes and chilies, into a pot and simmer over medium-low heat for no less than three hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!