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Giving Thanks for Pale-ho-ho-ho

All joking and holiday humor aside, I give thanks for Paleo every single day–possibly hourly. And, there is no better time to refocus on the value of simple, whole, feel-good food–and simplicity altogether–than the time when families are gathering around tables, sharing meals & memories, passing along traditions & forging new ones.

First, the food:

In my home, holidays have certain smells and textures: Roasting Turkey, Crunchy Sage-Sausage Stuffing, Creamy Pumpkin Pie, and Dense & Decadent Chocolate Cake. To eliminate any of these would be to upset holiday tradition. And, I don’t have the heart to do that.

Luckily, with minor adjustments, all of these can be enjoyed Paleo-friendly. And, as we all know so well, having a Paleo-approved alternative to non-Paleo-friendly dishes is essential to your success and well-being. I get cranky and feel sluggish and weighed-down when I eat mashed potatoes and bread stuffing. So, guess what? I make mashed cauliflower and sage sausage stuffing full of veggies–all the flavor, none of the funk.

I’d like to share my favorite new source with you. See below for all of the recipes you’ll need to make your holiday gatherings a success!

Second, the fun:

I am blessed beyond measure to have my ever-improving health, a man who is 100% committed to becoming the healthiest version of himself, and kiddos who believe that healthy choices rock. So, many of our “fun” traditions are about being active during times of celebration.

You can rest assured that Thanksgiving Day will find my best girl & I 5k-ing (the whole family runs a traditional 5k on New Year’s Eve, too!). My best boys will be outside throwing around a football–perhaps even a fun game of flag might erupt. We’ll all bump into each other in the kitchen stirring this, turning that, and cleaning up. We’ll enjoy conversation and games and the beautiful scenery of our location on post-dinner walks. The holidays are too precious to waste snoozing, though, in all fairness, there might be just a bit of that, too 😉

Most importantly, Less Is More:

I have been a long-time believer in “Less Is More,” and I believe the importance of living simply is magnified during the holidays. In a culture that places too much importance on material items, we have worked to place emphasis on those things we feel most important: family, friends, & charitable contributions.

We live 600 miles away from my sister and her family, which means the time we are fortunate enough to spend together is always quality time. We are aware of each other. We converse. We play. We share. We grow. We love. There is not time for anything else. Because we focus solely on enjoying our short hours together, our visits are always enjoyable and amount to far more than the clock suggests. Our tradition has become DIY Christmas–where we gift each other things we’ve made in the past year. While this may not be every family’s cup of tea, it works quite nicely for my very talented lovelies. Some years there are crocheted items, hand-sewn items, homemade apple butter, personalized wood-worked hall trees, and any number of other creative pursuits. In fact, the memories of making these items and sharing them with our loved ones are among the ones my kids speak of most fondly.

Speaking of gifts, my kiddos have used the Victorian Rhyme to make their wish lists for several years now. It goes, “Something I want, something I need, something to wear, and something to read.” In essence, their lists wind up being a very reasonable four items long. This year they have proposed a twist on the old Victorian rhyme and are wish-listing along to, “Something I want, something I’ll use, something to wear, and something to do.” Even better, in my opinion! This mama loves keeping them active and focused on the non-material! They also each select one additional item to donate to Toys for Tots each year, and they collect their gently used toys and clothes for donation. It’s an instructive, charming, & simplistic system.

We do not usually exchange gifts with friends. Instead, we have always tried to get our kids together to do a fun activity–much like a birthday party for everyone during the holiday break. Some years it works out; others it doesn’t, but the idea is that we celebrate each other and not any material items we might exchange. My husband’s side of our family has discussed this idea for several years, and it seems that this will finally be the year to implement the “time is the greatest gift” mentality. In today’s busy world, we will be very eager to dedicate a day to doing something fun with those who mean so much to us.

Another idea that we’ve discussed among friends and some family members is a date-night exchange. By pooling our parental resources, we will be able to gather our children together multiple times during the year for a fun activity while the couples take turns having a night on the town without worrying about hiring a babysitter! The gift of time with your significant other is another great way to celebrate the simple things in life.

Again, Lovelies, Paleo is not just about the food we eat in my home. It is the embodiment of all things in their simplest possible forms. Quality food, quality time, and quality sharing of all things bright & beautiful. I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons with your most near & dear! May you embrace the simplicity of the Paleo lifestyle and enjoy good health & good times!


Whole 30 Challenge, Road Trip & Party Survival Guide

Lovelies! How are you all this morning?

On Day #10, I am soaring–yes soaring!–on the feel-goodness of this plan! I’d try to describe how wonderful I feel, but I’d rather just encourage you to find out for yourselves. Nothing is as effective and motivating as first-hand experience.

For those of you already Whole-30ing along to Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s Whole 30 program, a word of motivation: Do it.

Don’t sort-of-kind-of-ooops-I-had-a-cookie-or-two do it.

Do it as it is written.

There is absolutely no gray area to dabble in. Like the Hartwig’s point out, every bite, every nibble of inflammatory foods puts you back at square one of the healing cycle. It’s commendable you’re putting in the effort, now reward yourself with commitment and follow-through for thirty days. It’s just thirty days. Thirty days that have the potential to be life-changing if you put in the effort. Your one-and-only body will thank you. And, when in doubt, listen to the wise advice of Master Yoda:

Pretty simple when you think about it, right? Either you do it. Or, you don’t. I’d do it if I were you!!!!

So, while I truly believe that the mental clarity and feel-good-body results alone are more than enough to promote the Whole 30 program, the physical body-composition results are equally impressive. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some weight to drop, but in just ten days, do you know what’s happened?

Let me explain…

On Day #1 I put on a pair of jeans that barely zipped and buttoned (A full size smaller than what I wore in January, but still, NOT pretty!). On Day #5 I put on the same pair of jeans without any struggle (or unsexy overhang–yay! Be gone, overhang!) Yesterday, even fresh out of the washer–even with it being “that time of the month”–those jeans had a little room in the waist and hips. Today, I. CAN. FEEL. MY. HIP. BONES. Holy moly! I can’t believe I have them! They’ve been buried as deep as Atlantis for the majority of my adult life, especially post-kiddos. So deep, in fact, that I think I believed they, too, were mere myths or legends. Not so! They do exist! Sure it’s going to take a little more work in the gym to see the ultimate results that I want, but the careful attention I’m giving to my food sure is paying off! Hip bones, by golly!

This is where I say: If I can do it, you ABSOLUTELY can do it! No fuss about busy schedules or liking milk too much to give it up. (Lovelies, you are NOT baby cows who need fattening!). I don’t believe any of it. Not one little syllable. You are exactly as capable of doing this as you believe yourselves to be. When you are committed, nothing can derail you–not even a 1,200 mile road trip to party with family! (Yes, I’m really doing that–in just a few short hours, in fact).

How am I going to survive 600 miles each way, plus two days filled with food, family, and fun? I will be packing my own eats and politely asking for the support (not sabotage) that I need. No questions about it. Black, white, not a shade of gray. Most of my family knows my plan and my goals–the rest will soon find out. I will not indulge in birthday cake, grainy-carby-finger foods, or sugary-dairy-creamy-debauchery of any kind. And, lest you think I’m a party-pooper, I say this: How can I enjoy the party if I am feeling less than my best?

Now that I know what my true “best” feels like, temptation is an abstract idea that affects others. NOT me. It is liberating!

Want to find out what your “best” feels like first hand? Here’s your three-step get-started plan:

  1. Go to the Hartwig’s website. (Click here if you haven’t saved it from previous posts!)
  2. Print out the four pages of the Whole 30 program.
  3. Start. Now.

I believe in you! Keep us posted on your progress!

Whole 30 Challenge, Days #4-7

And just like that a week is over! Phew! What a whirlwind of feel-goodness! All I can say to anyone who is wondering about a Whole 30 is to just take the leap already! In only one short week, my skin and eyes are clearer; my often difficult female cycle continues to run like clockwork (and is accompanied by STABLE–dare I say pleasant?–moods); and I can feel energy humming through my body! No sugar cravings nip at me; hunger pangs are a distant memory; and my sleep is both deep and refreshing. Oh. Yeah.

This is no longer a Whole 30 for me. I want this feeling of health and well-being to be my Whole Forever.

Here are the links to the book I am using as a guide, as well as the website that accompanies it! Both are fantastic resources to guide you on your own Whole 30 & beyond!

Click the book to learn how to get a copy of your own! And, don’t forget to explore the entire website while you’re there! The Whole 30 Program is outlined for you FREE online thanks to the amazing authors who truly have your health’s best interests at heart!

The Good, The Challenges, and Opportunities for Awesomeness…

It’s that time, Lovelies.

The time where I need to re-evaluate my goals and the methods I’m employing to achieve them.

So, here’s my mid-March review:

Goal #1: 100% Paleo Eats, 80% of the time

The Good: I need to follow a Paleo diet. Not as a fad. Not for the here and now. Not because a friend of a friend is passionate about it. I believe in Paleo because the more attentive I am to feeding my body well, the better I feel, so this is definitely an area about which I will continue to be vigilant.

The Challenge: I notice that my percentages have fallen into the 100% Paleo, 60% of the time range, and my body is feeling the slip. Cramps, bloating, yuck, yuck, and yuck. I definitely need to tighten-up my “too free” with dairy tendency, as I know that this is the source of my dietary angst.

Opportunity for Awesomeness: Tomorrow I begin a Whole 30 Challenge. For 30 entire days (and quite possibly beyond!) I will make nourishing my body a priority by following the guidelines set forth here.

Goal #2: Moving, Shaking, & Faking

The Good: I have been active. I’ve been running in preparation for the Color Me Rad 5k with my awesome little cave gal, and I’ve been busy walking, playing, and stretching. I love activity, and I know that activity loves me back. So, it’s time to step-it-up!

The Challenge: I could be doing so much more! There is time in my schedule that I could be utilizing in a better fashion, and I am not. Shame on me. The gym not yet being open (April 1 is the new opening date–moved from Jan. 1, to Feb. 1, to March 1) is NOT an excuse for complacency.

Opportunity for Awesomeness: Insanity. Yes, you read that right. Shaun T.’s Insanity. I start tomorrow. If I never post again, you’ll know why…. Oh, by the way, check out what Insanity did for my friend Josh here!

Goal #3: Clarity

The Good: I have so many opportunities in front of me this year, and I am the type of person that fully submerges myself. I research, study, and then tackle things head-on. I thrive on learning and experiencing new things, so my mind is in total feast mode these days.

The Challenge: I have so many opportunities in front of me this year, and I am the type of person that fully submerges myself. I research, study, and then tackles things head-on. I burn myself out; however, when I burn-out, it isn’t my work or family or obligations that suffer. It is my head-space that approaches melt-down.

Opportunity for Awesomeness: I completed Day Two of Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge today. Participating in this Meditation Challenge is a segue into meditating daily, a practice that has more benefits than I can go into right now. (But, keep your eyes open for some future blogs!) Interested? Join here!

March may be famous for going out like a lamb, but  I can tell you that this Leo doesn’t see it going that way this year!

Join me for any or ALL of these Opportunities!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

A New Year: Two Weeks In…

Happy New Year, Lovelies!

Yes, I know it’s now two weeks into a new year; so, let’s not waste anymore time! Here’s what’s been going on in the Klien Street Cave….

Thanksgiving landed me in the ER. Twice. With the holiday’s heavy carbohydrate load–mashed potatoes, biscuits, stuffing, pie crusts, etc.–and my POOR food choices, my insulin resistance had a heyday, and my ovaries blossomed with debilitating cysts. I couldn’t find comfort standing, walking, sitting, sleeping, NOTHING. In fact, the pain and nausea got so bad, my little family of four had to leave a post-Thanksgiving celebration in order to bring me to the hospital where, overwhelmed with extreme pain, I started vomiting and wound-up on anti-nausea medication, an IV drip, and morphine before undergoing both a transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasound, accumulating over 700+ pictures of my internal lady parts. Lovely, I know.

I was sent home on Vicodin to deal with the pain of an ovary that was swollen to four times its normal size with cysts until I could follow-up with my OBGYN practice. I went to see a new doctor (the only one with an appointment available) at that practice the very next day. After spending about five minutes with me (and that included an internal and an examination of my ultrasound pics), he told me that PCOS doesn’t cause painful cysts and that I should follow-up with my PC physician, who didn’t have an appointment until the next day.

That night, the pain became so severe that I wound up back in the ER, back on an IV drip, back on anti-nausea medication, and back on morphine. This pattern was not one that I wanted to keep repeating. Even though I had worked so hard at keeping my diet clean and Paleo-focused up to Thanksgiving, I had lost control of my diet over the holiday, and my body was making sure that I knew what a mistake I had made–in quite the memorable fashion.

My PC doctor confirmed what I already knew: my pain was caused by the cysts on my ovaries. She put me on Metformin to help my body better regulate my insulin response, and she fully supported the idea that I should follow the Paleo way of eating as closely as possible–advice that, you can believe, I took to my very disappointed-in-myself heart.

Christmas came and went, and for ONE day only I allowed myself a few little treats with no relapse into my painful cystic state, but I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough for my health, because, even with a Paleo-focused diet and Metformin, the extra weight I’d accumulated wasn’t budging. Not one little bit. Gross. I hated the way I felt. I’ve never been thin–I don’t aspire to be, either. I’m too muscular for that. But, I have been at a healthy weight. And, getting back to that healthy weight became the focus of my New Year’s Resolution.

And this, Lovelies, is the point where I get truly excited. After much contemplation and even more searching, I have found something transformational: Bodymedia Fit LINK Armband.

My new best friend

Let’s be clear: I am not saying that this is for everyone. Nor am I saying that you should get one. I am simply offering insight into how this tool is helping me achieve the best me possible, when so many other products, plans, and methods have failed.

First, this armband is the perfect trifecta for me:

1. It provides centralized data for a multitude of different measurements. By wearing the armband, I can collect data about my calories burned, calorie balance (it syncs with MyFitness Pal), total activity time (both moderate and vigorous), the number of steps taken per day, and total sleep time and sleep efficiency.

2. It motivates me to meet the goals I set for myself. Because I set my own goals, I am immediately more invested; however, the LINK armband syncs with my iPhone5, and I can real-time monitor my calorie burn, my activity time, and how many steps I’ve taken. What is more motivating than seeing how close you are to achieving your goal? The activity manager feature even suggests additional activities to help you reach your daily goal!

3. It is flexible and supports my specific needs. The LINK does not require that I follow any specific program. No points. No mail-order food. No gimmicks. No false promises. The armband requires that I nourish my body the way my body needs to be nourished. For me, that means following Paleo. So, I plug all my Paleo-eats into MyFitness Pal and the calorie information is transferred automatically to my armband. I set my own step goal, and I monitor it throughout the day, parking farther away from my destinations and taking stairs when possible, because each step counts. I also set a daily activity time goal, and I work to meet the times I have set for myself. I make sure that if I’ve planned a workout that I keep that workout time like any other appointment in my planner, and I make sure that I play with my kids whenever the unplanned opportunity arises. Because, after all, activity is activity.

Second, it works.

One of the benefits is weight loss: 15 lbs. to date. Which, for someone with PCOS, who has been so discouraged by past experiences, 15 lbs. is an outstanding start!

As much as I love the results as they are reflected in my physique, I am enjoying the feelings of control and informed participation much more. For the first time, I am able to concretely see what is and isn’t working for my body. Pie charts, bar graphs, and percentages are my friends. I can make correlations and inferences by observing these data trends that I now have available–for instance, seven hours of sleep is my magic number. Every night where I have gotten approximately seven hours of sleep, I have lost weight. Less sleep=no weight loss. Information is powerful stuff.

And, Lovelies, do you know what is even better than my success? My husband has gotten onboard with a LINK armband of his own! We are on this journey as partners now (as opposed to me journeying and hubby hanging on for the ride), and our family is so much stronger for it!

I hope you are all having a wonderful start to your New Year, too! Make sure to share all of your New Year successes with us!

To Schedule or Not To Schedule? Is That Even A Question?

Good early morning to you all! The sun isn’t even peeking up over the horizon here. The sky hasn’t yet lightened (but that pic is what it will look like when it does). CH is off to work with his cooler successfully topped-off with good eats. The kiddos are still snuggled and will hopefully wake to the smell of fresh coconut banana muffins wafting up the stairs in an hour or so. (And, my gosh, I will make a full dozen of those muffins because our little cave girl out-ate CH at dinner last night! We are expecting a growth spurt of Alice In Wonderland’s magic mushroom proportions!)

A couple days ago I was asked about how I prep my family’s lunches–particularly about how I cook larger portions of meat and then portion it out. Here’s what I did for today’s packed meals:

  • I roasted two organic chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on) while I was already baking chicken legs for dinner. No extra effort there!
  • After dinner clean-up last night, I popped Clean Eats in the Zoo’s Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake in the oven (you should all go make this, right now! It smells divine and tastes even better!), and while it was filling my kitchen with the most amazing cinnamon aroma, I plunked the chicken breasts into some wrapping and tossed them in the fridge.
  • This morning, I cut one breast into strips for CH’s garden salad, and then the remainder of the breast I made into a creamy chicken salad for his afternoon snack. Easy peasy. (Why didn’t I do this last night? Well, I was feeling lazy, and, after a long holiday weekend, I was guessing that I might just need a little extra motivation to slip out from under our toasty covers).
  • The remaining chicken breast awaits its carving hour for the kiddos’ lunches and my post-workout meal. (I know, I know, I could have done this while making CH’s bounty. What can I say? I wanted to get to blogging for you, Lovelies).

Ah, workouts…another question I received pertained to my workout schedule and routine. This is kind of a two-part answer: What I have been doing and what I am beginning today…let me explain.

The Old Way

Up until this morning, my workout routine consisted of three running days (just the standard Easy Run, Tempo Run, and Long Run) and three weight training days or HIIT days. I’d fit them in where I could, when I could. And sometimes missed one. Or a few. Or all of them.

I’ve definitely been better about making time for my workouts as of late (when you’re feeling better you are more motivated to sweat!), but the return of the school year has given me a gift: windows of time that are mine. To schedule health and fitness. To do something for me.

So today begins…

The New Way

I’m up with CH at 4:15 AM anyway, so I’ve decided to use the time between his departure and the kids’ rising to exercise. No, I can’t go running outside (that would be a very irresponsible cave mama!).

However, I can join the Queen over at Sweat It Out on her September “Back to Booty” group challenge. And, I can do it right from the comfort of our new workout room! All I have to do is push play and move my body along to the amazing rhythms of Beach Body’s Brazil Butt Lift program. (And, honestly, if all goes well, what better gift for our upcoming eleventh anniversary, right?) Today is my day one!

In addition to shaking my bum bum (boom boom) every morning, I also have a standing date with my best fitness pal over at Warrior Fit for three days (T, Th, & Sat) of HIIT (including suspension training). Did I mention that she is getting her personal trainer’s certification really soon? You can be sure she is putting me through my paces! Just look at the contraption she tortures me with!

And, lastly, my running.

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays.

Recovery Run, Tempo Run, Speedwork, Long Run.

I am training for the D & L Heritage Half Marathon, which, if you are an autumn-lover-runner, is the half marathon for you! Riverside trails, crunchy leaves, crisp air. It’s like my running bliss trifecta. Plus, tech tshirts, cool finisher’s medals, and it’s a half marathon with room to grow. After this year’s half, I’ll be training for the full in 2013. (See what happens when you start feeling great–you become delusional! No, I’m joking. But, you do start dreaming a little bigger and following-through a little better!)

Hope you are full of great ideas, great actions, and great dreams today, 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!



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Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.


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Life Made Full

Filling our lives with faith, family, and clean food.

Elana's Pantry

New York Times Bestselling author Elana Amsterdam founded Elana’s Pantry, the go-to website for easy, healthy, grain-free, Paleo recipes, in 2006

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A real-life approach to the Paleo lifestyle with tips and recipes to get the whole family healthy.

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