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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Acceptance, Not Optional

The soft chiming of my spoon against my mug is what initially brought T.S. Eliot’s famous quote, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” to mind this morning, as it does so many times throughout the year. But today, my musings took me on a surprise tour of recent emotional currents swirling beneath the seemingly navigable waters of my life.

(Yes, old words about spoons and coffee and measuring that I’d heard and thought of a thousand times before, did all that. Perhaps the mental clarity I’ve been experiencing as an amazing benefit of Paleo has helped as well).

What I discovered, though, when I “measured out” out all of my life’s spoons and examined them each, in all their unique and individual complexity, was fairly simple:

I had to accept them all.

All. Of. Them.

Even the broken ones. Even the ones that leave a bitter, metallic taste in my otherwise fantastic coffee. Even the ones that cut my skin when I reach to touch them. The faux spoons. The sporks. Yes, Lovelies, whether I like it or not, all of them are mine, and, therefore, I must accept them. Just the way they are.

And that upset me.

At first. (Because, let’s face it, I’m not really talking about spoons).

Then I realized (thank you mental clarity!) that I have a choice.

Acceptance and active engagement are two very different things. Acceptance is not optional. If a spoon is in my life, it’s there for a reason. I accept that. Active engagement, however, is optional. Just because a spoon is there, doesn’t mean I have to give it my attention. My effort. My best.

From now on I will gladly accept all of my life’s spoons. However, I will be far more discerning about the ones with which I choose to interact.

That bitter-tasting spoon? I won’t put any more effort into lessening the metallic taste with which it contaminates so many great cuppas. Instead, I just won’t stir anymore of my precious coffee with that one!  I’ll also never reach for that sharp spoon again. Spork and Faux–the ones who expect engagement but always fail to follow-through? Yes, I’m finished with them, too. Life is too short to continue hurting myself when there are so many better options! Sure, I’ll have to see them every time I open the drawer, but I can live with that.

Lovelies, as you continue on your own life journeys (Paleo, or not), please remember that no matter which spoons you have in your drawers, select the ones you share your coffee with wisely! Your emotional health is important, too! Don’t neglect it!




Mid-week Munchies

Have you hit a mid-week slump? Are you tired with the same old afternoon snack you’ve been enjoying for weeks on end? Eating Paleo should be a vibrant, varied experience, so here’s a quick snack idea to perk-up your routine (and use the last few local berries available)!

Dirty Berries

1 cup Strawberries
1/2 cup Blueberries
(Really, you can use any berries).
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 1/2 tsp. raw cacao powder
2 Tbsp. coconut or almond milk (or more or less, to taste)
1/4 tsp. vanilla

1. Wash and layer quartered strawberries and whole blueberries into a bowl.
2. In a blender or food processor, blend the whole almonds until they are a fine, dusty consistency (don’t puree too long, as you will wind-up with almond butter).
3. Add in the cacao powder and give the almonds another short blend. Set aside.
4. Combine your milk of choice with the vanilla and pour over the berries.
5. Dust the berries and milk with your cacao almond blend. (I like to stir it around a bit, too!)
6. Enjoy! (Preferably with a spoon so you don’t leave behind any tasty goodness!)

Perfectly Paleo Preparedness

This morning, though just a regular ol’ rise at 4:15 AM to leave the house by 5 AM morning for CH (cave husband), was “Back-to-School” morning for me & the kiddos. If you haven’t already experienced one, “Back-to-School” mornings are notorious for several things: 1. If you’re a teacher, there are inevitable coffee stains that appear on your whitest articles of clothing as soon as you reach the I-can’t-turn-around-to-change-my-shirt-or-I’ll-be-late threshold on your commute to work. 2. If you’re a mom, there are the, I-can’t-find-matching-socks-even-though-I-swore-to-you-on-my-life-that-I-laid-them-out-on-my-desk-last-night  moments as well as the, Mom-my-tooth-brush-fell-in-the-Qtip-filled-garbage-can-do-you-have-a-spare? moments, only to be trumped by the occasional, Mom-the-dog-stole-my-coconut-pancakes-and-got-maple-syrup-all-over-my-backpack fiasco. 3. If you’re both, well, good luck–or, so I used to think.

As it turns out, life doesn’t have to be so hard.

Embarking upon this Paleo Lifestyle journey has taught me that a little preparation goes a long way to prevent run-amok stress from ruling our decisions and responses, especially where food and other stress-related triggers (and sticky backpacks, missing socks, and waxy toothbrushes) are concerned. How so? Read on, Lovelies!

Our typical morning begins at 4:15 AM. Yes, Monday thru Friday. Year-round. CH is a hard-working, responsible, and not-salaried man. He works, we eat. He doesn’t, well, we eat much less. Which, in itself, is a stressful lifestyle for us adults. The last thing we want to do is expose our kids to our stress and compound it with poor choices. However, our choices were far from stellar. Very, very far.

Prior to Paleo:

I’d try to scrape myself out of bed at that pre-morning hour to make CH a sandwich, or two, pack some chips or pretzels, and call it a success. He’d also stop on his way to work for a bagel and an abnormally colored neon soda (that I’m pretty sure has been reported to remove paint from cars) in order to round-out his work-day meals.

Next, I’d pack the kiddos their eats for lunch: Special gluten-free bread. Special lactose-free cheese. Special gluten-free, lactose-free crackers. Carrot sticks. Apple Slices. Then, I’d get them their breakfasts: Whole grain cereals. Oatmeal. Almond Milk. Soy Milk. Bananas. Granola Bars. And, I’d eat whatever was floating around like some kind of scavenger animal, content to just live off of my family’s cast-off scraps as long as there was plenty of light & sweet coffee to chase it down.

Sure, this routine doesn’t sound like a lot of work, just a little unwrapping and pouring, but it was killing us–literally drowning us in a whirlpool of our own stress, fatigue, and malnourishment.

Cue Paleo:

I bounce out of bed first thing Sunday morning and shop for whole, fresh, organic (ad nauseum) foods. No exceptions. I prepare any meats for the lunch boxes when I get home. While they are cooking, I wash and cut and pre-portion any lunch box veggies and fruits that can be prepped ahead of time. I bake a batch of coconut flour lemon poppyseed muffins (everyone’s favorite) twice a week: Sundays and Wednesdays (our two free nights). We go to bed earlier because it feels good, and when that alarm clock goes off at 4:15 AM, our hands are already reaching for the off switch. I pack the pre-prepared goodies into the appropriate lunch boxes, toss a few things in my crock pot so dinner prep is easier when we get home, and off we go, each with a day’s worth of nourishment at our disposal.

It sounds more like work than our previous lifestyle, sure. But, that is just an illusion. One day of an hour’s worth of work certainly is not more difficult than scraping yourself out of bed with bitter reluctance each morning. To improve upon an old adage, “Nothing–not convenience foods, not sugar, not grains, not white potatoes, not dairy–tastes as good as healthy feels!”

And, when you feel alert and fantastic, the dog doesn’t stand any chance of stealing anything. Especially those delicious coco-pancakes! Remember, a small tweak or two to your routine each week will eventually add-up to big changes for you, your family, and your health. Patience, persistence, and preparedness are key. One day at a time, Lovelies…



The Food Lovers: Make it Paleo Review

Yum. Delish. Please, sir, may I have some more?

These thoughts pop like fireworks with every bite of Bacon & Egg Salad, Coconut Flour Waffles and Pancakes, Prosciutto e Melone, Leg of Lamb, Lemon Garlic Roasting Chicken, Pineapple-Glazed Chicken Skewers, Fennel and Orange Salad, Roasted Broccoli, Balsamic Onions, and Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins lovingly reproduced from the recipes in The Food Lovers: Make it Paleo cookbook. Though I only cooked a fraction of the over 200 recipes in this fabulous cookbook, each one was remarkably delicious. (As evidenced by my family’s inability to leave leftovers).

So, it’s obvious that this cookbook is big on tasty Paleo recipes, but why else does it earn a permanent place on my kitchen’s cookbook shelf (as opposed to the one in the dining room–a.k.a. the cookbook graveyard)? Oh, so many reasons! I could write about them all afternoon, but I figure that you’re just here for the down and dirty…

Reason #1: PICTURES

Sure it sounds silly, but there are pictures for EVERY recipe. Not just the ones that look pretty when they are finished cooking, not just the main dishes, not just the tempting desserts. Every single one. So, for those of you who like to dinner shop with your eyes, or those of you who want to know what your meal should aspire to look like upon completion, you’re all set!

Reason #2: THE FIRST 43 PAGES

Surprisingly (or not so much, depends on how many cookbooks you read), the first 43 pages contain zero recipes. Don’t despair, though! What they do include is even better. Staley and Mason provide you with a beautiful table of contents (which is very useful) and a  flash-course in Paleo eating that will serve the beginning primal eater with invaluable guidance and keep the experienced hunter-gatherer sharp and focused on good nutrition. It is stuffed with information from details about the different cuts of meat you have to choose from to the subtleties of creating your own herb and spice combinations. Don’t skip these pages just because they are recipe-free!


Okay, so I’m joking. But by everything else I mean that the recipes win the Ease-of-Use Award (if such an award even existed). They are introduced briefly and clearly; the ingredients are neatly bulleted; the difficulty of each recipe is rated; prep times and cook times are always present; and recommended serving sizes are provided for each recipe. And, all of this is done in an organized, easy-to-read format. In fact, some recipes even take it a step further and recommend a complimentary dish from elsewhere in the book! Talk about meal-planning made easy!

Overall, I feel that if you are committed to the Paleo Lifestyle and you enjoy good food, this cookbook will give you the opportunity to cook both some everyday staples like Simply Grilled Salmon as well as some unique dishes like Shrimp and Bacon Squash Blossoms. And, of course, who wouldn’t look forward to the occasional Chocolate Mocha Cupcake?

Happy Cooking, Lovelies! May your kitchens smell divine this weekend!



Thursday, Thursday, So Delicious To Me!

It is almost Friday. WooooHoooo! This is a far more exciting statement in the Fall once school begins for both me and the kiddos, but nonetheless…I thought I’d share some tales of lunchbox envy and workout wonderfulness with you on this under appreciated day before the day before the weekend.

What’s in your lunchbox?

My favorite Paleo-eating guy (who is seeing great results, btw) has been the target of some amusement and lunchbox envy lately. (Aren’t all Paleo enthusiasts?) He’s been taking his cooler to work daily this week filled to the brim with all kinds of delicious, healthy goodness, and some of his coworkers have been watching to see just what will surface around break time & lunch time each day. Some have even taken to teasing him when he gets out his blowtorch to heat up his eats (really, I’m not kidding).  While holding their PB&J or mystery meat sandwiches, they’ll say, “That’s not diet food! No way!” You know, conventional nutrition, food pyramid-quoting comments like that.

What do I say to their jovial teasing? (Because I really do like the guys he works with).

I say, “Exactly, dear coworkers, how well you understand!”

It isn’t diet food. It is the food that comprises our diet–the food we eat for health, vitality, and happiness because we live the Paleo Lifestyle. We don’t crash diet on some foods and then revert back to the junk that required us to diet in the first place. We live on real, whole, organic, farm-fresh, grass-fed, pasture-raised foods and plan on doing so indefinitely. Thank you for your concern. Would you like some maple-mustard glazed chicken thighs or some fresh, green salad with a heaping scoop of Practical Paleo’s delicious Bacon & Egg Salad?

We thought so.

You were drooling.

Here’s a napkin.

Now, a delicious little scoop on one of my new favorite places:

The Gym That’s Not Just Any Gym: It’s a Warrior’s Playground!

In preparation for a productive weekend (I want to write a few reviews for you and get in a killer workout), I took a little trip with one of my best fitness pals to a gym she has been bugging me to check out for years (seriously, if we were married, she’d be the quintessential nag–love her bunches, though). Today, I woke up feeling so fantastic that I figured it was better late than never to get sweaty at this place which still holds her very enthusiastic workout devotion.

Ouch…Ooooo….Ahhh…are my official words of recommendation.

I was dripping and completely exhausted by the time we finished the WOD (and when I say finished, I mean that I did a wonderful job of cheering her on after modifying lots of the moves/reps/etc. for myself) but, luckily, my fingers were spared so that I could let you all know that WarriorFit in Easton, PA is a serious place that offers so much more than cardio equipment! They don’t call it WarriorFit for nothing!

I’ll be interviewing the owner/head strength coach in the near future to give you all a sampling of what WarriorFit is all about!

Oh, and I’ll be working out there again on Saturday…if I can move!

Make sure to enjoy the rest of your day, Lovelies! And, stop back in tomorrow for a review of The Food Lovers: Make it Paleo cookbook! I have lovely dishpan hands all for your benefit! Well, that’s not entirely true, my family has sure benefitted from all the cooking, too!



PS–What’s in your lunchbox????

An “Interview” With the Perfectly Paleo Sisters

Since beginning our Paleo journey this summer, Erin and I have been asked any number of questions that range, if I’m being honest, from philosophical to far too personal; so, in the interest of getting to know you better, Lovelies, we thought we’d answer a few of the in-betweeners for you.

Ah, but there’s a catch! (You know I’m an educator, right? There’s always a catch–I can’t help it). We’d L-O-V-E love you, yes YOU, to answer the same questions for us in our “Comments” section. It’s there, so why not use it?!?!

Here we go.

Actually, sorry, before we start, please imagine either an incredibly handsome man or an insanely beautiful woman interviewing us, whichever you prefer. (Why, you ask? Because it will undoubtedly take your attention off of us!) Oh, and give him or her an accent–whatever makes your ears sing is just fine! Decided? Okay….

Here we really go!

Imaginary Interviewer of Your Choosing: Sisters, deciding to follow a primal diet is a controversial topic in some circles. What initially attracted you to the Paleo Lifestyle? And, how did you explain your decision to your families?

Sister #1: Oh, controversial isn’t the word! My family put me through the ringer on this one–lovingly, but still. Under the advice of a medical professional, I had been following a whole-foods, plant-based diet for nearly a year when my health started to deteriorate. I was exhausted to the point of having difficulty waking in the morning. I would sleep through my husband rising and showering in the morning, and then he would have to call me four or five times to make sure that I didn’t sleep through all three of my alarms. I was irritable, moody, and my hair was thinning at an alarming rate. I hadn’t had my period in quite some time (not abnormal with PCOS), and I was gaining weight almost as quickly as I was breaking-out in cystic, jaw-line acne. When I finally had blood work done, I discovered that my triglycerides were over 700, my total cholesterol was 205, my fasting blood sugar was 105, and that I had slipped into hypothyroidism. I decided that it was time for a change.

I spoke with a new doctor (Dr. Mc) who asked me to reflect on when I had felt the best in my life. My own answer shocked me: I had felt my best consuming a low-carb diet recommended to me by an endocrinologist while trying to conceive my children. A high-fat, meat-eating, low-carb diet, with plenty of vegetables and low-glycemic fruits, as well. Dr. Mc encouraged me to follow a similar pattern of eating to once again control my PCOS and triglycerides and to boost my thyroid function; however, I did not want to add dairy back into my diet. And meat. I had grown sympathetic to the images of horrible slaughterhouses and sick animals being cruelly treated; I was crusading to save innocent animals’ lives by eating rice, soy, wheat, corn, quinoa, millet, and oats–the very foods that were sky-rocketing my triglycerides with their high carb content and threatening my well-being and longevity. I was certainly conflicted about making what I felt was a hypocritical decision to eat meat again. I did some research, though, and then recalled that a high school friend had posted about her family’s wonderful successes eating “The Paleo Diet” on Facebook.

When I quickly scanned her Facebook page, she and her family looked absolutely radiant. Health poured out of them like sunshine, which was so unlike what I saw when I looked in the mirror after an entire year of eating whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, green juice, nuts, seeds, & legumes. (Healthy stuff, right!?!?!?! Who knew it was not the right diet for me?!?!?!?) I was immediately attracted to the obvious benefits of Paleo, so I reached out to her, and she graciously shared her knowledge with me–which I immediately passed on (because I wouldn’t shut-up about it for two seconds) to Erin…who, luckily, was equally excited by the possibilities!

Once I had Erin on board, the rest of my family fell-into Paleo-mode quite easily and without much convincing, but they let loose their fair share of ribbing (they are happy to be enjoying those again) to be sure! And, now, I am happy to say that my children (ages 6 and 8) will freely articulate the benefits that they feel by living grain- and dairy-free and mostly sugar-free.

Sister #2: Ok…. How to tell you about me without writing a 300 page biography…Ever since I was about thirteen I have suffered with Vaccine-Induced Systemic Lupus.

“Vaccine Induced?” you ask.

Yes, it is exactly that.

Without naming names, I was part of a pharmaceutical study and my lucky end-result was Lupus. So, instead of throwing my hands up in the air and waving the white flag after I’ve had several vials of blood sucked out of my body every six months for the past 15 years, been examined repeatedly by seven medical specialists, filled innumerable prescriptions, and endured multiple other health issues spawned from Lupus, I have decided that I want to be the healthiest I can be.

Nikki shared with me The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf which explains in great detail how autoimmune deficiencies and diseases can be healed and/or controlled by following a primal diet. That is important to me, especially now that I have a baby girl whom I was told I would NEVER HAVE (due to Lupus, of course)!

My husband may think I am crazy for changing my diet yet again (and that’s fine with me, after all we are all a little ‘mad’), but he is supportive and will join me in this second major dietary change in my life’s adventure. Going gluten-free when we learned I was celiac was hard….so, going Paleo should be a cinch!

Imaginary Interviewer (don’t forget to add the sexy accent): So, it sounds like you both are primarily drawn to the Paleo Lifestyle for the health benefits. Do you have any goals concerning your health, such as improvements that you’d like to see?

Sister #2: Aside from the obvious, here is my lovely list of medical drama that I hope to dismiss from my life by going Paleo:

  • Lupus
  • Chronic Migraines
  • Thyroiditis
  • Periocarditis
  • Celiac (at least heal my insides)
  • Proteinuria
  • Eczema
  • Anemia

Plus, I would love to not have to spend over 3k on blood work every 6 months. AND I would love to never have to see the pharmacy again! I would also like to lose a little excess weight (who wouldn’t?) and just feel better!

You know, my family is my life. I am a Mother and a Wife; I love my Great Dane, Astro, who is like a small pony, and my fat cat ,Yoda; I’m a photographer; I run two Direct Sales businesses–Thirty-One Gifts & Origami Owl; I love philanthropy. I plan on Paleo helping me keep myself as healthy as possible so that I don’t leave this world before I am ready to, like so many people with Lupus do.

Sister #1: My first goal is to just be a good example for my children. I want to be healthy for them. I want them to see me making healthy choices, being active, participating in family adventures without physical ailments or limitations. Right now they are learning how to navigate this crazy world, and there are so many unhealthy options out there. I want to see them grow into individuals who are strong enough to think for themselves when it comes to health and nutrition and not confuse the SAD’s colorful boxes and appealing characters with what will actually best serve their bodies and minds.

For myself, I’ve already seen an improvement in my weight, my skin, my PCOS symptoms, and my energy levels, so I’ll be happy to have the benefits I’m already experiencing continue. I will be having some blood work done in the near future to check my triglycerides, total cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, etc. I look forward to marked improvement in all areas!

Imaginary Interviewer: Is there anything else either of you would like to add about yourselves or your Paleo journeys?

Sister #2: There are some things I think we both hope Paleo helps us avoid….. following in our father’s footsteps, for sure!  He has suffered a heart attack, endured quintuple bypass surgery, had a stroke, has type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism (used to be hyper), and a bunch of other health issues.

Also, my daughter is only 5 months old and starting to venture into foods, which is a fun, messy experience! Will I have her eat the Paleo way? OF COURSE! Why wouldn’t I want to give her the best and healthiest start to life?! Right now we do the organic baby foods, and I will be getting the Baby Bullet to provide her with her first meats when she is ready. (The meat in a jar thing just doesn’t sit well. Where does that stuff even come from–ew!) Also, she has a chance of having an auto-immune disorder just like me, and that is one feature of mine I hope she doesn’t get!

So, look for adventures in Bebe Paleo from me!

Sister #1: I totally agree with Erin. Our Dad has joined us in eating whole, organic vegetables, fruits, grass-fed, wild-caught, or pasture raised foods, and has already noticed a difference in his blood sugar levels. If he had discovered this way of eating sooner, perhaps he could have minimized or avoided so many of his health concerns. I’m proud of him for taking control of his health through diet. It is a major accomplishment for anyone to just begin reclaiming that power.

I also feel it necessary to say that finding what works for your body is important and, sometimes, difficult. Choosing the Paleo Lifestyle is a very emotionally charged decision, downright polarizing, really. I have vegan friends who feel very strongly for the animals I have once again started eating, and probably harbor some disdain for my return to the knife. I understand that. However, this was not a decision made lightly after little consideration. It was a decision based on what dietary choices were correct for my own health and the health of my family. I accept and respect that this lifestyle may not be for everyone.

Although, a common misconception is that the Paleo Lifestyle is only meat-focused. Vegetables are eaten in abundance! I love vegetables! Fruits are eaten in moderation according to an individual’s own tolerance. Gorgeous berries! Apples! Citrus! Paleo also welcomes healthy fats–avocados, nuts, seeds, and unrefined oils such as olive oil and coconut oil. And, yes, there is grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, & organic, free-range fowl.To be clear, though, the vast majority of people who live a strict Paleo Lifestyle do not support the slaughterhouses with which our US meat supply is so closely associated. Most of us source it from local farmers or stores who sell those farmers’ products. So, please, my dear vegan friends, don’t hassle me about that. I’m on your side about factory farming. Promise.

Phew! That’s a lot of info!

Now, help us learn a little bit more about you! In the “Comments” section, feel free to answer the same questions about your own Paleo journeys!

What We Really Bring Home From the Grocery Store

These days, I’m pretty sure my life revolves around grocery shopping. So much so that sometimes the sensation of my freely swinging arms brushing against my sides feels so unnatural that I need to reach out and grab hold of an imaginary cart to regain balance and perspective and purpose.

Hyperbole? Maybe.

But, you see, when I grocery shop, I do more–much more–than just walk around the healthy perimeter and down a few select aisles of the store.

When I grocery shop, every turn of the cart is a meditation on how much I love my family–on how much my young children’s still-growing bodies and ever-developing minds need physical nourishment and how I am the one responsible for supplying to them the foundational nutrition that will shape who they become and how they will feed and treat their bodies for the rest of their lives; on how much my husband’s health depends upon what he does and doesn’t eat (the ice cream, cookie, cake, & cracker aisles? Yes, they are the reasons I do the grocery shopping–after all, I want him to be healthy for the long-haul in this life we love to live together); on how my parents are learning, by example, to eat healthier in order to ease the effects of aging and reduce their reliance on pharmaceuticals so that they may actively enjoy every moment with their grandkids; on how my own health is balanced and maintained by eating well, and how my family’s healthy eating practices begin with me when I choose to fill our grocery cart up in the organic produce aisle, the organic meat department, and the natural foods bulk section.

When I grocery shop, I do more than just purchase groceries. I vote for quality food free of pesticides, GMOs, chemicals, and processing with our hard-earned money. I vote with the extra dollar I pay for every organic cucumber that I will juice, skin included, and drink with my children the next day. I vote with my decision to place grass-fed beef on the conveyor belt rather than the “Club Pack” ground chuck that could potentially be mystery meat suspended in pink slime. I vote with my devotion to organic unrefined coconut oil instead of Crisco. I vote with raw organic nuts, grain-free flours, wild-caught fish, and locally-grown organic produce. Do I pay significantly more for these products? If money is your only measure of payment, then, yes, I do. But that’s not how I see it.

I see it like this:

When I grocery shop, I bring home my family’s current and future health, wealth, happiness, and longevity in over-flowing, reusable bags. What do you shop for each week?

Happy Shopping, Lovelies!


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