Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paleo/Primal - Week One

So last Friday I went out shopping on my first full Paleo/Primal shopping trip.  It was a little more hectic than normal because I was busy reading labels and trying to figure a LOT of things out.  I should NOT have taken the girls with me.  This just made it even more crazy.

So here is what I learned from week one:

Making all this stuff is a LOT, and I mean a LOT of work.  I think it was good to try everything so I know what works and how long it will take me.  Next time I may just pick a day to do my fruit rolls for the month, rather than try and tackle EVERYTHING at once on grocery day.  I went a bit nutty though because I wanted to make sure I had PLENTY of options in there to feed the family, otherwise this was NOT going to work.

You have to determine how much your time is worth.  You have to figure out what is better to buy store bought and what is worth the savings to do at home.  I tried to make my own almond meal and that was a miserable failure (as you can read about below).

It's all about trial and error.

Anyhow, you can stop reading now if you are totally bored at this point and I won't blame you one bit, if you want, read on to see what I made and what I learned from each process.

Apple Chips

I sliced up the apples thin as I could, put them in a bath of un-sweetened apple juice (to help with browning), sprinkled them with cinnamon and baked them in the oven at 250 degrees for about two hours on a cookie rack placed on a cookie tray.  The rack helps get air underneath them and helps in the drying process.  I've tried apples in the dehydrator, but I think they turn out better in the oven.

I did about 6 apples and it really does yield a SMALL amount of apple chips in comparison to what my family will eat.  The kids LOVE these but they are rather time consuming for a really small reward. Problem is apple chips at the store are CRAZY expensive for a small amount, so for now this is one treat I'll be making at home.

homemade apple chips

Fruit Roll Ups

I have been wanting to tackle fruit rolls for a while, but didn't think I could do them since I didn't have the roll tray in my dehydrator, and I just didn't feel like keeping my oven on for 6-8 hours like this recipe suggested.  I just lined my dehydrator with plastic wrap and it turned out fine.  Of course with it not being square I didn't get the pretty little rolls on parchment paper like they did.  I just sliced it up and placed them in snack size baggies  I think I over did it though because mine were a bit more leathery than fruit roll up type.  Still yummy though.  I tried four different kinds, strawberry, mixed berries, peach and banana/pineapple.  The peach turned out a gloopy mess and I had to pull them out because they were leaking on EVERYTHING.  Berries seem to work the best.

my dried strawberry fruit leather

Home Made Almond Meal

Ok, so this was an EPIC failure.  I bought a 12oz bag of dry roasted almonds at Aldi for $3.49 a package.  I came home, stuck it in my food processor and it never turned fine enough to go through a sifter.  It was way too chunky.  The more I ground I just started to get more like almond butter.  I just ended up putting it in a tupperware container and saving it to bread some salmon or something later.  I ended up having my husband just cave and get it at Whole Foods for $6.99 a pound.  Expensive, but this was one where my time was worth more than the money it saved me.  Until I have a coffee grinder or a better food processor this is going to be store bought.

my sad failed almond meal...sigh

Homemade Beef Jerky

Jerky we have been doing for quite some time, we just pick a roast at the store, have the butcher slice it thin, and we come home and marinade it with various spices then throw it in the dehydrator and let it go.  I know they say it takes like 8-10 hours but our dehydrator seems to dry jerky CRAZY fast.  The batches took about 2-3 hours each.

peppered beef jerky.  YUM.

Carrot Cake Pancakes

My favorite meal of the week was these pancakes below, topped with 100% pure maple syrup from PaleOMG.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this site.  REALLY good stuff. Also this chick's name is Juli and she has a great sense of humor like me, so she is pretty awesome ;)

Find the recipe HERE

Homemade Granola

A recipe from my new favorite blog PaleoOMG (listed above).  This was pretty good stuff.  I subbed out the coconut oil for olive oil because I ran out.  It seemed pretty greasy, and sticky.  More like granola bar consistency, I think I could back off on the liquids and do just fine, but it's a really great start.

Img and recipe from PaleOMG here

Paleo Mayo

So, I knew this one may be tricky.  I followed these directions to a took FOREVER.  I mean seriously people you need patience for this stuff, and frankly I have none left.  My blender actually started to smoke.  No kidding.  It never seemed to get to the consistency that I thought it should so I pulled it out and put it in the food processor.  This made a pretty nasty mess because my food processor is a piece of crap little bit old.  I gave up and went BACK to the blender, loosing half my precious mayo in the process.  I finally just gave up and put it in a tupperware and figured it may not work well as mayo but I could salvage it for some type of dipping sauce.  What did you know that it started to thicken more as it stood.  I guess it was thin because of the overheating of my stupid blender got it all warm....arrgh.  If I had only figured it out twenty minutes earlier I would have saved half my batch of mayo.

Live and learn people.  Live and learn.

Paleo mayo

Paleo Ranch

Ok, so I used the mayo , mixed it with a little coconut milk (equal part mayo to coconut milk ratio), a crapload of dill and garlic and  a little apple cider vinegar to make Paleo Ranch dressing.  It was, different.  The coconut milk gave it a distinct sweetness that I wasn't used to with ranch.  I also tend to go overboard on garlic, like always and this was no exception.  It was not terrible, but it wasn't great.  This recipe still needs some tweaking.  Maybe next time I'll try almond milk instead of coconut milk...dunno, we will have to see.

Paleo Ranch Dressing

I tried several other recipes, coconut shrimp with creamed coconut spinach,  some quiche, etc...but it wasn't worth mentioning in the blog....

This first week seemed to go pretty well so far.  Lucy gave us the most fit out of anyone, which was expected.  Mix a kid going through the terrible two's that currently has power struggle issues as is, add in a diet change and you pretty much have a recipe for disaster.  Evie is thriving on this diet, but then again that girl will eat pretty much anything, she LOVES Paleo is what she tells me.  She also told her teacher, "We are going Paleo, which means that I'm OFF of sugar."  He he.  The older kids seem to be doing ok, Myah has her hang ups, but seems ok and Brett is seeming to like it but more to make us happy and kinda brown nose mom than anything else.  I know inside he is dying for a bowl of cereal.  However I have noticed he does seem to be more full.  He does not have his nose shoved in my pantry all the time.

Jamin got out of the 200's and only has 10 more pounds to go.  He hasn't been this weight since right after he got out of the army in 1999.

Oh, and he told me to talk about his "big muscles".  Silly man.

I don't expect us to NEVER have grains again or to do a complete Paleo Thanksgiving, I mean seriously life is for living, but as long as we can eat well like 95% of the time, we can allow ourselves an indulgence every now and again.  You better believe come Christmas time I'm gonna still be baking some of my favorite treats, but maybe just not as MANY as I normally do.  The problem comes when we have sweets and treats ALL the time...that HAD to stop.   I feel like we are really on the right track.  It's been difficult at times, but I'm hoping I'll soon get in a rhythm and of course I'm sure it will all be worth it.  I mean, check out the photo below.  That was my lunch and GOD I'm STILL full.  I can TOTALLY eat like this.

I do feel like a bit of a Hippie making my own granola. mayo and stuff, but it's also kinda fun.  If I stop shaving, decide to call myself Willow, and start wearing Birkenstocks you may want to worry though....

If you stuck with me through the entire blog post, WOW, thanks ;)
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Going Primal

It once again has been weeks since my last post. My afternoons, which I used to use for blogging time, have been recently taken up with graphic design work and doing a Wordpress site, which I've nerded out on completely and had a TON of fun with.  So MUCH fun in fact I'm considering taking my blog over to Wordpress, but I'm a little freaked about the transition...

Anyhow onto my food journey.  My husband was struggling with his diet and I didn't know exactly what to do.  This week at bible study I lifted him up in prayer, when I did so I also asked that they pray that God show me how to help him and support him.

Funny things happen when you pray.  God will push you out of your comfort zone.

Ok, let me get totally real here and yes, I'm gonna air my dirty laundry.  I've always tried to be real here, and it's time for me to make a confession.  I've been a horrible un-supportive wife to my husband.  For over a year now we have both been working out, trying to eat healthier, but I've been kinda smug and nasty about it all.  I've totally thought "this is HIS battle.  He is the one who needs to loose the weight, not me.  I can eat what I want within reason and I won't gain, so why should I quit the foods I love?"

I know people.  I'm ashamed of myself.  VERY ashamed.

So I would still buy the vanilla wafers, the graham crackers, cookies, treats and sweets.  I'd bake brownies on the weekends and smother them in ice cream and caramel syrup.  I'd make cookies when I felt like it and claimed that it was for the children.  I'd buy fruit snacks, chips and cookies and explain it was for the kids lunch.

Even though I was cooking grilled chicken for dinner with broccoli and salads, and offering some healthy choices in there, there were still cookies in the pantry.  It was like blowing smoke rings into someones face that was desperately trying to quit.  I didn't even realize what I was doing.

So, as I prayed. God began to reveal to me how I'd been behaving.  Not only has he revealed this but he gave me a desire to take our whole family into a Paleo/Primal lifestyle.  (if you haven't heard of it, you can see what it is about here) We can't do it if we all don't do it together.  I can't expect Jamin and I to eat one way and the kids to still have all kinds of grains and sugar in there just calling out to us.

I repented.  I apologized.  I'm trying to change.

As I started scouring the internet looking for recipes and snacks I became more motivated.  My BIGGEST concern was the kids lunches.  What on EARTH would I send with them if I couldn't give them a sandwich in their lunch box?

So I started Googling Paleo kids lunches and came up with quite a few great ideas:
Look at those cute little cucumber sandwiches!  Rolled lunch meats, little smokies, apples, pickles, olives, etc...

I came up with a schedule of meals for them next week.  I think the biggest challenge for the kids will be cereal and bread.  Lucy eats a PB&J sandwich EVERY day.  She is my most picky eater.  Evie won't have a problem with the fruits and veggies, but she doesn't really like eggs, so that will make breakfast difficult.  I plan to try this breakfast hash and seeing if that will satisfy her:

I've also found some recipes that use coconut flour and almond flour in lieu of white flour so I can try my hand at some Paleo pancakes and waffles.  We will see how it goes!  I'm gonna try making my own almond meal because I just don't feel like forking over $9.99 a pound for it at Whole Foods. 

I'm considering buying my own coconut to make coconut flakes, but depending on the cost I may or may not go this far.  Since I'm doing more primal than Paleo I am going to keep SOME dairy in our diet, but very very little.  For the most part Jamin and I will go without but I do plan on having some in there.  For dairy I'm going for hormone free, full fat dairy (rather than organic because of cost).  Braums milk is very good and hormone free, and their eggs are also cage free I believe!  Later this summer hopefully we can get a freezer and buy a side of grass fed beef from Jamin's uncle.  For now I'll keep buying the Fit and Active from Aldi.  It's not organic, but it's "natural" which is the next best thing and means it's free of hormones.

Anyhow I'm not sure if we can be 100% strict and I'm not sure I want to be crazy strict, I believe you do need to allow yourself some freedom now and again, but for now I'm getting ALL the junk out of my house and I think that will get us eating good like 95% of the time. 

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, I'm hoping that this will be a REALLY positive change for our family.
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