Paleo dinners, lunches and desserts this month

Paleo dinners, lunches and desserts this month

One year ago, I radically changed my diet over night. But the transition of how to feed my family has taken much longer to figure out.

It’s one thing to change my own eating habits. It’s quite another to change someone else’s diet, especially when they are teenagers and might not want to make a switch. I’ve finally come to terms with the idea that most of our family dinners will be Paleo. In other words, I serve the whole family the same dinner I am making for myself about 80 percent of the time.

The kids can eat what they want for breakfast. (I still buy cereal and cow’s milk, but they have the option to use almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk and eat a grain free breakfast.) They often purchase hot lunch at school, or I will pack them a lunch that’s either Paleo or Standard American Diet (whichever they prefer).

They’ve come a long way in adjusting to eating dinners that are grain free, dairy free, soy free, legume free, sugar free and free of processed foods. But it’s still entertaining to watch their reactions when they come to the dinner table. The 8-year-old usually announces right away that she doesn’t like what’s being served. Our 13-year-old daughter often laughs while she’s scooping food onto her plate.

Our 15-year-old son is the most hilarious. He typically looks at the food and shakes his head with a look of “What happened to my life?!” I imagine him doing the Kramer surprise reaction on the inside. Ironically, he almost always goes back for a big plate of seconds. He’s a hungry boy.

Last week, however, our oldest son took one bite of dinner and exclaimed, “Wow! This is good! I could eat this everyday!”

He was eating a made-up recipe that I created after being inspired by the crustless pizza available at Lou Malnati’s.

I’m sorry about the photo that is to follow. I am discovering that food bloggers have a special process for making food photos look amazing.

Basically, I added some oregano, garlic powder, basil and salt to two pounds of ground pork. I pressed that into the bottom of a large dish and baked it at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. I topped it with pizza sauce, mushrooms, onions and sliced olives, and then baked the whole thing for another 15 minutes or so. The result was something that reminded us of pizza!

Here are a few of my other new favorite Paleo recipes that I tried in January:

DINNERS

(That’s a real food blogger photo!)

This Curried Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash was amazing. I would have never thought to put curry in a shepherd’s pie. (I only used 1 teaspoon, instead of 1 tablespoon.) I cooked my sweet potatoes in an electric pressure cooker and then mashed them for the topping. (I also left out the peas, since they are not Paleo.) So good.

OK, so I didn’t actually even attempt to feed this one to my kids. I knew the combination of Crispy Chicken with Artichokes, Beets, Lemons and Olives would be too much for them. But I LOVED it! I really enjoy combining a variety of unusual flavors and this one had them all!

If you haven’t made Kahlua Pig in the electric pressure cooker yet, give it a try! Just a head’s up that it does take a WHILE too cook. Give yourself at least two hours, since it takes 90 minutes just to cook the pork. My kids have discovered they love cooked cabbage! We never have enough. I served this with baked sweet potatoes, which I made in my second electric pressure cooker.

I actually made my kids a real gluteny, dairy filled lasagna to eat, while I ate this amazing Puerto Rican Plantain Lasagna. I don’t eat peppers, so I substituted mushrooms and olives in the filling.

When I find a recipe that I want to try I pin it on my “Meal Planning” board on Pinterest. You can follow this board for other ideas (including lots of recipes from before I went Paleo).

LUNCHES

My boys are always starving when they get home from high school at 2:30, so I like to have some filling, healthy snacks for them to grab when they get home. These also made some easy lunches for me to grab on my way to work on those days I don’t want to eat soup!

I substituted canned salmon for the tuna, and omitted the peppers in these (not so) Spicy Tuna Cakes.

My family thought these Curry Turkey Bites had too much of a kick, but I really enjoyed them, especially with the apricot ginger sauce.

My kids gobbled up the Egg Foo Youngish. (That’s a real food blogger photo!) They are kind of like a pancake, but really easy to grab and go on the way out the door.

 

DESSERTS

My husband’s birthday is in January, and I typically make him a cherry pie. He prefers not to eaten gluten these days, so I tried this recipe for Cherry Cobbler. For the filling, I simply used frozen cherries that you can buy in a bag at Costco. This was aMaZiNg and so easy to make!

Since our oldest son can’t have nuts and the cobbler uses almond flour, I also made a Paleo Pumpkin Pie. I  make this all of the time without the crust. You just bake the filling at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. It’s so simple, and we all love it! (Sorry again for the bad photo!)

 

I also can’t believe that I finally found a Paleo Banana Bread recipe that is so easy to make and tastes amazing. I have made this a few times now, without the chocolate chips. It’s SUCH a treat to eat something that tastes like bread.

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So, what about you? Have you tried any awesome new recipes lately? Have you made any changes to your diet this year? How’s it going?

 

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What’s working for me in January

What’s working for me in January

How’s your January going so far? As much as I don’t like the cold weather months, I feel like January has been going as well as a super dark, freezing month in which the sun sets way too early and I barely ever go outside can possibly go.

We still have nearly two weeks left in this first month of the year, but I thought I would share a few things that are making it more bearable!

THE AUDIO BIBLE

Every year, I make the same resolution. And almost every single year, I fail to complete it.

I always start off the year with good intentions of reading the entire Bible in a year. Because of this, I have read the book of Genesis at least 35 more times than any other book of the Bible. 🙂 This year, I decided that maybe I need to take the same approach to reading the Bible that I take to other books. It’s very rare these days that I actually read a book. Instead, I listen to them! I actually listened to 17 books last year, which was good, considering my goal was 12.

I assumed that downloading the entire Bible on audiobook would be very expensive. I found the One Year Bible (NLT version) on Audible, and couldn’t believe that the entire thing was only one credit. (It downloads in seven parts.) In fact, to BUY the entire Bible as an Audible member, the price was (hold on to your seat): $5.95. WHAT?!? Can you believe it?

OK. So, I’m not pretending to be a major Bible scholar here. Listening to the Bible on audiobook is definitely not a deep Bible study. But I totally enjoy reading it this way. The reader is really engaging and I love how he adds drama to many of the stories. (Plus, I don’t have to ponder how to pronounce any names.) There have been several days when I have found myself reacting with, “What?!” or “You have to be kidding!” as he reads the Old Testament stories. I often “read” when I’m driving or putting on my make-up or walking or even emptying the dishwasher.

TV SHOWS

I’ve also been spending more time on the treadmill this year. As long as I’m feeling well, I either walk or do the Couch to 5K running app every day. In order to do this, I had to break my two-year television fast. Come on! There is no way you can withstand the treadmill without a good TV show.

I recently finished watching, “Travelers,” which I totally enjoyed. I’m so sad that it’s over. Right after Christmas, I also watched the third season of “Broadchurch.” Both shows were just the right mix of mystery and suspense, without it being so over the top that I want to stay up all night on a Netflix binge.

Now that I’ve finished Travelers, I’m desperately trying to find another show to fill the void and help me wrap up week four of the Couch to 5K. Please, pleeeeaaaase give a girl some suggestions! I’m finding NOTHING that I like. (Don’t say, “The Crown.” I’ve tried. I’ve tried. I’ve tried. Can’t.)

MONK FRUIT

I need to write a whole blog post on food. I keep thinking about this time last year when I was barely surviving as I tried to do Whole 30. It’s amazing that I basically did Whole 30 for an entire year! I definitely feel a ton better this year than I did last year!

I didn’t eat processed sugar in 2017 (MOST of the time), but starting last summer, I allowed myself to have raw honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar. This January, I decided to cut out those sweeteners, too, because my sweet tooth was getting out of control, and I gained a few pounds. A few weeks ago, I discovered monk fruit sweetener.

I’m still learning about monk fruit, but from what I’ve read so far, it’s supposed to be a zero-calorie sweetener that actually has health benefits. I don’t love it, but it’s nice to add a tiny bit of sweetener to things once in a while. Since it’s zero calorie, it’s working for me!

FLAVORED KOMBUCHA

Everyone I know has been posting on Facebook about how sick they have been this year with the flu. I know I absolutely should not post this, but so far, I haven’t been sick at all (other than from gluten). I am starting to think that drinking Kombucha everyday really is helping.

One of the health benefits of Kombucha is that it is supposed to improve your immune system. Some people even go so far as to say that it helps prevent cancer.

 

I’ve been brewing my own Kombucha for about nine months now, and I’ve really gotten the hang of it! I’ve been experimenting with new flavors using fruits and herbs during the second ferment, and the results have been amazing! Maybe I’ll write a whole blog post about this later.

QWIRKLE

A friend introduced us to the game, “Qwirkle” on New Year’s Eve, and I had to go buy one for our family. It’s one of those games that isn’t too long. It requires some strategy, but not TOO much thinking. It’s great for lots of ages. And we can play with our whole family. (I think the box says up to four players, but you can definitely play with six!)

NATURAL SKIN CARE

January is also the month when our skin takes a beating in the cold weather. I really focused in 2017 on transitioning to skin care products with natural ingredients. I have learned that just as I read the labels on the foods I eat, I also need to read the labels on the products I put ON my skin! I know a LOT of my friends sell all different kinds of skin care products, so I really don’t want to get into recommending anything here. But I’m just happy to have found some great all-natural products that make my skin feel great.

I’m also brushing my teeth with “My Magic Mud” toothpaste (you can use this link to search for it on Thrive), which is made of activated charcoal and bentonite clay. So, there’s that. The toothpaste doesn’t have any fluoride, which many people believe can damage your thyroid. Oh, and just a warning… the toothpaste is black.

If you are interested in learning more about why these things are important, I got a lot of info from the book, Younger by Sara Gottfried.

A FEW MORE THINGS

Other things I’m loving this month:

Matcha green tea lattes (search on Thrive market)

Soup

Pompoms

My bullet journal

 

Did I mention Thrive market? (My order came today!)

and the book, “Sensible Shoes.”

 

So, what about you? I would love to hear what’s working for you right now!

 

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product through a link you clicked on here, I receive a tiny portion of the sale at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting everydaymom!

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When giving up is a good thing

When giving up is a good thing

Until a few years ago, I had not ever participated in the practice of giving up something for Lent. I heard my friends talk about what they were eliminating during the 40 days leading up to Easter, but I couldn’t get up the motivation to do something that would purposely make my life more difficult. I loved the spiritual reasoning behind it, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. And, come on. Isn’t life challenging enough the way it is?

During the past year, however, the act of giving something up has become a recurring theme. Whether it’s been for spiritual reasons, health reasons or just to make my life better, this practice of self denial has been an awakening for me. In fact, part of my journey in 2017 is to give up one thing for a month, each month of the year.

As I enter the third month of 2017, this is my third time giving up something this year that I enjoy. Strangely, as a new month approaches, I’ve grown to look forward to getting rid of the excess in my life. Instead of feeling dread and fear of the pain that will inevitably come with self denial, I’ve started feeling a sense of excitement to crack down on a new area of my life that has gotten out of control.

In fact, in several cases, I’ve found my life to be so much more pleasant without the habit or practice that I once loved, that I’m not anxious to go back to my old ways.

  • For example, last year, I gave up watching TV for Lent. I have loved learning new things, having time to practice my hobbies and being free from the distraction of television shows. More than a year later, I haven’t reintroduced TV into my life.
  • Last June, I was forced to give up gluten when I found out I had Celiac Disease. Having something taken from you is quite different mentally and emotionally than giving something up. Obviously, I haven’t even considered going back to gluten because of the devastating effect it has on my health. However, I’ve taken it two steps farther. In January, I removed sugar, grains, soy, dairy, legumes and artificial ingredients from my diet. Just when I thought there was no way I could add to that list, it became clear to me in February that I also needed to give up all inflammatory foods, including eggs, nuts, seeds, coffee, cocoa powder and nightshades. As I’ve been carefully monitoring the improvement in my health with this radical change to my diet, I don’t have plans to start eating those foods again anytime soon.
  • I also gave up social media in February. The best word I can think of to describe my life without it is “lighter.” I’m not as anxious. It freed me from carrying the weight of so many issues that are posted on social media. (I did cheat once, but other than that, this post will be my reintroduction, I suppose!)

What I’ve found to be so interesting about this practice of giving up is that it seems to be a discipline that is becoming easier for me to practice. It’s almost like I’ve been exercising my self control muscle, and it is growing stronger, making it less painful for me to use in new areas of my life.

This month’s elimination will be different. Giving something up for Lent isn’t just an act of self control. It is something we do out of spiritual conviction. This self denial is a way to help me focus on the sacrifice Christ made for each one of us on the cross. It’s tempting to give up the easiest thing. To chose the thing that will cause the least inconvenience, disruption or pain. But denying yourself something difficult can serve as such a great reminder of what this season is about — that He made the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.

Whether you want to give something up for Lent, for other spiritual reasons, to improve your health or even just as a challenge, here are a few things I’ve learned this past year about giving up:

  1. I’ve found it helpful to learn that some people are abstainers and others are moderators. I wrote about that here. It’s easier for abstainers to go cold turkey, while moderators often prefer an approach that involves “tapering off” or “setting boundaries.”
  2. Taking a before shot can be a powerful motivator. This could be a literal photo or it could take another form, such as a written statement of what life is like and how you want it to change. This act of marking your starting point is like a commitment you are making to yourself that things are going to change. With every “before” shot, comes an “after.” You are committing that things will look different in the “after”. I wrote more about that here.
  3. Change your perspective. Instead of seeing your denial as something negative, reframe it as something good you are doing for yourself. Click here to read about how I’ve been reframing my food choices as a gift I’m giving myself.
  4. I’m a believer that giving something up for Lent should be a personal decision that comes from a spiritual conviction. But for your everyday acts of giving up, it’s always nice to have a support system. Giving something up with a friend or at least sharing your goal with someone can turn it into an exciting journey!

What about you? Did you decide to give something up for Lent? Is this a practice that you think can make a positive impact on your life? 

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What I discovered during a month without social media

What I discovered during a month without social media

I’m wrapping up my month without social media, so I thought I would check in and give an update. I thought this would be a difficult month, fighting the urge to check in on friends on Facebook or get my fix of visual happiness on Instagram.

Instead, this has been quite a transformative month for me, and it really didn’t have much to do with the goals I set for myself this month. The biggest change that occurred for me this month is that without the constant lure of social media, I freed up a ton of prime retail space in my brain to pursue other things.

I also relieved a lot of stress and anxiety that comes with keeping up with social media. My brain on social media is kind of like having a radio playing all day long. It’s background noise that occupies my thoughts and inhibits my ability to focus. Flipping it off for a while has been so refreshing. It’s been a relief to separate myself from the political conversations, not to mention the constant barrage of food related posts, DIY ideas and product marketing.

Here are a few other things that have happened as a result:

  1. Speaking of “product marketing,” without the ability to promote my blog on Facebook, my readership has dropped by about 98 percent. That was discouraging at first. It was hard to publish a blog post and look at my stats to see I only had three readers. “Hi, you guys!!” But I get it. I know that most people don’t really incorporate blog reading into their daily schedule, and if they do, they are going to jump onto a blog with relevant content that’s right in front of them. It reminded me of why I write, and how therapeutic it is for me!
  2. I’ve really enjoyed the daily devotional that I’ve been doing this month. It’s called, “I Am,” by Michele Cushatt. Each day helps replace negative self talk and comparison with the truth of who I am as a child of God. I have fallen behind on my reading a few times, but for the most part, I’ve been keeping on track. Each day’s passage is short and engaging, and it’s been great to start my day with this encouragement.
  3. The biggest change that has occurred for me in February is once again with my diet. (Just when you thought I was done talking about this!) When I finished Whole 30 in January, I was feeling great overall. But I couldn’t figure out why some of my autoimmune symptoms were actually far worse than they were when I started. Through my research, I found something called the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I’ve been diving in with both feet, gathering information, listening to podcasts and incorporating this way of eating into my lifestyle. I’m planning to write about this in much greater depth in the next few weeks, so if you are one of my three remaining readers, I hope you will come back!
  4. If you thought Whole 30 was an intense diet adjustment, that’s because you haven’t heard of Paleo AIP (autoimmune protocol). It focuses on removing all inflammatory foods from your diet, so your body can start to heal from autoimmune disease. Back in June when I went gluten free, I thought it was hard. Now I’m also grain free, sweetener free, soy free, legume free, dairy free, nut free, egg free, seed free and free of nightshades, which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, chili powder, paprika, red pepper and all other spices made from nightshades. The diet also eliminates all processed food, food additives, refined oils, refined sugars and alcohol. Needless to say, I have spent a ton of time researching recipes and figuring out what I can eat. I go to the grocery store at least once a day because I consume so much produce!

I seriously can’t wait to write more about all of this. It’s really making a big impact on my life, and I’m excited to start chronicling my journey.

I will be reintroducing social media in the month of March, and I’m working on a plan to do that gradually so it’s not like flipping on hard rock music at full blast.

Until then, let me know you stopped by! I would love it if you would say “Hi!” in the comments and let me know one thing that’s new with you in the month of February! 

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The gift I give to myself

The gift I give to myself

My husband and I aren’t coffee drinkers. Hot tea is our caffeinated beverage of choice.

But at the beginning of winter, I started getting into a habit of making myself a cup of decaf coffee mid morning. It’s a nice way to warm up on a cold winter day, and let’s be honest. It’s more about using coffee to water down the cream, right?

Because I’m the only person who uses the coffee maker, and I only use it to make one cup of coffee every other day or so, I would usually forget to clean it. I would let the old coffee and coffee grounds sit there until the next time I made a cup. Then, I would have to rinse it out before brewing my single cup of coffee.

A few weeks ago, I had some extra space in the dishwasher and decided to actually wash the coffee maker. I know. Gasp! The next morning when I wanted some coffee, it was such a nice surprise to find a sparkling clean coffee pot and a filter basket that wasn’t full of old coffee grounds.

Huh?

I smiled. It was like a gift I gave myself. 

Since then, I’ve been putting the coffee pot in the dishwasher immediately after I use it. Each time, I think, “This is so nice of me to give myself the gift of a clean coffee pot.”

Eating clean and Whole 30 is the gift I give to myself

I was thinking about this concept the last few days as I’ve been learning more about nutrition and health. Since I changed the way I’ve been eating, I’ve become a little obsessed with the topic. I started listening to a Paleo podcast, and I have a long list of books I want to read on topics like fat, sugar and nutrition.

I’ve noticed that my mindset also has started to change about the food I eat. When I found out I had Celiac Disease last summer, I was really angry at this invisible force that had robbed me of my ability to eat gluten. How could all of my favorite foods just be taken from me without any warning?! I revolted by overindulging in chocolate, ice cream, candy, ANYTHING that I COULD eat.

I quickly found out that gaining almost a pound a month wasn’t going to be a good long-term solution for me. As January approached, I knew I had to make a change to my eating. I carefully researched several different options to determine which one I liked the best. “That one says I can’t have fruit…. This one lets me eat potatoes and caffeine,” I thought. “That sounds good to me.”

Now that I’ve been eating this way for almost 45 days, I can really tell how foods affect me. Certain foods make me feel really full. Others seem to make me crave something sweet. I started drinking milk and then decided to go back to almond milk because cow’s milk made me feel so heavy. Just because I CAN have something (like potatoes) on a certain diet, it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for me.

I’ve realized that my food choices are my own. I can’t just pick a diet because it gives me options that sound good to me. I have to make the choice based on how healthy I want to be and how I want to feel.

There’s not some unseen force that is making me give up certain foods or eat others. No one else has to live with my bloated stomach or my sugar cravings. It’s all up to me. I can choose to give myself that gift.

I’ve realized it’s great to wake up to a clean coffee pot. And it’s even better to take the time to chop some veggies and snack on protein. It’s the gift I give to myself.

So, what about you? I would love to hear your reaction in the comments. Have you made any lifestyle changes that feel like a gift to yourself?

 

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