Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fourth and Last Week of the Food Challenge

This is an incredibly un-interesting post, as it details everything my family ate for the 4th week of the food challenge. But it may be helpful for someone who is curious about our results, and wants to know what it looks like to eat without grains, legumes, and sugar (although there were some meals where we just ate whatever we were presented, with thanks!). I tried to keep track of how we felt physically and psychologically (cravings) day by day.

Day 22:

Breakfast: Banana Pancakes, topped with butter and triple berry mix. I also poured in a tiny bit of raw goat's milk in my coffee. Still not ready to feed it to the kids - the jury's still out on "to pasteurize or not to pasteurize", but until the decision is made, I'm just getting the frisky goats used to the process, keeping the milk in the fridge to feed to the dogs and maybe a bottle goatbaby.

Snack: oranges and walnuts

Lunch: pork bbq

Matt's Lunchbox: pork bbq, grapes, applesauce, tea

Snack: pumpkin nut muffins. When I made the first batch it only called for 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree....but there's about 1.5 cups in a can....so I made a double batch and froze the ones we didn't snack on.

Supper: leftover beef and broth - I'll slice up some mushrooms and simmer them, and we'll have "cream of greens soup" from the PB cookbook

Day 23:
Breakfast: pumpkin nut bread - I poured some of the batter into a loaf pan - it turned out fine that way, too.

Snack: there was a tiny bit of triple berry blend in the fridge, so finished that off plus some babycarrots

Lunch: ate at grandma's and had chicken and noodles with crackers - sooo good! Peaches for dessert

Snack: I ate a couple of pumpkin nut muffins with butter because I was ravenous. Then when Matt got home we all had girl scout cookies. Those are sugar and grain free, right? Ha! We each had half a serving of trefoils, and half a serving of thin mints. They were good, but not nearly as delicious as I had remembered them to be.

Supper: Meatballs with spaghetti sauce with mozzarella cheese on top. Yum!

Snack: 6 trefoils right before bed. it had been a stressful evening...

Day 24:
Breakfast: smoked sausage, orange/pineapple/strawberry/coconut milk smoothies

Snack: girl scout cookies

Lunch: leftover party chicken

Snack: pumpkin nut muffins, then white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies and lemonade at a friend's house

Supper: Ham, leftover cream of greens soup, peaches

Day 25:
Breakfast: smoked sausages, smoothies, I've been drinking goat milk in my coffee for a few days now, Matt and Cora today started "enhancing" their 2% pasteurized, Nesquik-ed cow's milk with whole, raw goat milk.

Snack: pumpkin nut muffins with butter, we all snuck a few bits of ham while I put it into freezer bags for another day

Lunch: hot dogs, pickles, spinach


Supper: pork bbq

Day 26:
Breakfast: bacon, sausage, potato, egg scramble

Skipped the snack

Lunch: cream of potato/cream of celery soup, mixed greens salad with peachy chicken salad on top, pumpkin oatmeal cake sweetened with sorghum molasses

Snack: more cake

Supper: cabbage, carrots, onions, smoked sausages

Snack: each had a half serving each of trefoils/thin mints. We watched Charlie Brown's Valentine's movie - don't valentine's and sweets just go together? (excuses, excuses)

Day 27:
Breakfast: leftovers from yesterday

Skipped the snack

Lunch/Snack: Went to the Maple Syrup Festival for the first time. This was so much fun! The family operated sugarbush is the largest Maple Syrup producer in the state, and they have 2 festival weekends to give tours, live music plays, fun kids' activities, and of course, maple syrup! We had a FABULOUSLY delicious meal: 1st adult meal included 1/2 BBQ chicken, cole slaw, baked beans, dinner roll, drink, ice cream (with choice of apple, strawberry, blueberry, or maple syrup topping), 2nd adult meal included 2 maple grilled pork chops (soo tender) cole slaw, baked beans, roll, drink, ice cream with toppings, then the kid's meals were either a pancake or a waffle with the same topping choices as the ice cream, plus drink and a sausage patty. All of this for only $19!! Cora earned a tiny bag of free maple cotton candy (very tasty!) by collecting all the items in the scavenger hunt. We were able to sample maple cream on cubes of bread, different grades of maple syrup, and maple tea (wow! made with partially boiled-down sap poured over a tea bag, not quite syrup, but not pure sap either) We bought a 2 quart bottle of Grade B maple syrup for baking. We learned that grade A syrup comes from the early season sap which is higher in sugar, lower in mineral content, while Grade B syrup comes in the later season with less sugar, more mineral content and a higher maple-y flavor. It'll be easy to make the decision to go back next year!

Supper: leftover meatballs with tomato sauce, green beans

Snack: Matt brought home some vanilla ice cream, which we had chocolate sauce on top.

Maybe we didn't do so good on the no sugar, no grain thing today.

Day 28:
Breakfast: orange/triple berry/peach smoothie, sausage patties

snack: apples, tiny piece of the pumpkin oatmeal cake with butter on top

lunch: beef and mushrooms, peaches

Matt's Lunchbox: leftover smoked sausage and cabbage, baby carrots, apple, tea

snack: special reward treat - Walnut Meal Brownies from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook

supper: bacon-wrapped, spinach, garlic, onion, and mozzarella stuffed chicken breasts (baked at 350* for ~40 minutes, then put under broiler just until bacon crisped up! delish, and oh-so-fancy looking!

Thoughts: We've just been really impressed with how easily we've lost weight/circumference over the course of the month. Especially considering how low-activity we are in February - we did absolutely NO FORMAL EXERCISE at all. And really, we have not felt deprived - we've been eating delicious meals, making sure we're fully satisfied. Yes, sometimes we've craved sweets or breads and missed some of those things, but in general it wasn't that bad to "go without." Now of course, we did have plenty of "cheats" but by and large we did pretty good.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Third Week of the Food Challenge

This is an incredibly un-interesting post, as it details everything my family ate for the 3rd week of the food challenge. But it may be helpful for someone who is curious about our results, and wants to know what it looks like to eat without grains, legumes, and sugar (although there were some meals where we just ate whatever we were presented, with thanks!). I tried to keep track of how we felt physically and psychologically (cravings) day by day.

Day 15:

Breakfast: smoked sausages, applesauce

Snack: the kids had deviled eggs and truffles. I had 2 truffles

Matt's Lunch: pork chops, broccoli, carrots, apple.....I forgot to make tea yesterday, so the poor man will have to drink water :-(

Lunch: leftover "hamburgers" with ketchup, cheese, and grapes

Snack: Luke had part of an apple, I ate the other half, then he was still hungry and ate 1/2 a banana. Cora had an apple and some walnuts.

I found out I had to return the Primal Blueprint cookbook to the library at the end of the week, so ended up hurriedly planning the rest of the week's menu, and rushed to the "healthfood" store in the next town before they closed. I wasn't hungry but knew it was going to be a while before I got home to supper, so brought a 100 calorie pack of almonds and walnuts and a piece of all-fruit fruit leather and a big bottle of water. Then I immediately ate it in the car and was hungry the rest of the night. Go figure! I also might have purchased an 85% cacao bar and eaten part of it on the way home....but I'm not telling. One thing I know is that I bought enough food that we won't have to go grocery shopping for the entire rest of the month.

Supper: I laid out all the ingredients for the PBCookbook's Bison Chili....only we used ground beef. Matt (sweet man that he is) fixed supper while I was gone. Everyone loved the chili, even the kids ate it right up. We had grapes, and a couple of kiwi, but they weren't quite ripe.

Snack: I ate a few of the truffles we'd made. I guess I haven't really changed my chocolate-snacking habits yet...but at least the chocolates I'm choosing aren't too sugary.

Day 16:
Breakfast: Matt and kids had smoked sausages. I made a "bahama mama" smoothie with strawberries (not stemmed) pineapple, ice cubes, and a can of coconut milk. The boys tasted it but wouldn't drink another drop, and Cora only had a little...but then she'd eaten her sausage already and probably wasn't hungry.

Snack: I had the rest of Cora's smoothie, and 2 bites of leftover sausages. Cora and Luke snacked at Grandma's. Matt skipped a snack.

Lunch: Were all invited to grandma's for chili (with spaghetti and beans and crackers and velveeta). It was delicious. We had some vanilla ice cream for dessert. Almost immediately after eating I felt sooo sleepy! I went ahead and took a nap, slept about 2 hours! As I was falling asleep, I noticed my tummy gurgling alot, but it didn't hurt - just making funny noises.

Snack: I didn't snack, just wasn't hungry. Luke and Matt had fudge rounds and twinkies and sweet tea with grandpa and it was soo warm outside we didn't need hats! Cora slept so long, I finally had to go wake her up from her nap around 4pm so she wouldn't miss the nice weather. She had a drink of water but wasn't hungry.

Supper: Seafood chowder - onion, celery, dill, black pepper, diced bacon, tiny cubed potatoes, chicken broth, a little water, cooked until the potatoes were soft, then added canned salmon (with the weird bones removed....I can't handle their texture!) a can of minced clams, and a pound of lightly sauteed scallops. I added a cup of milk and a cup of heavy cream, brought it to a boil and it needed salt but it was GOOD!

Day 17:
Breakfast: pumpkin nut muffins from the PBCookbook

Snack: Cora and I shared the leftover smoothie and an avocado, and she and luke shared an apple.

Matt's Lunchbox: leftover transylvanian stockpot, tea, apple and banana

Lunch: Leftover transylvanian stockpot, with a tiny 85% chocolate bar with walnuts for dessert after the kids went down for their naps because I have no willpower...

Supper: Coconut Curry from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook - everyone liked it!

Day 18:
Breakfast: Banana Pancakes and butter

Snack: Cora ate an entire avocado, plus an apple, and was still hungry. I had an avocado

Lunch: Leftover chili

Matt's Lunchbox: chili, other stuff (I can't remember anymore I'm trying to recall this info from day 20)

snack: cora helped herself to a piece of fruit leather, I had some frozen triple berry blend (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)

supper: Had friends over for pork bbq, applesauce with cinnamon, green beans, mashed potatoes with butter, some homemade bread (our friend brought it - it was delish!) and some corn chips and home-canned salsa (that another friend brought - yum!) Dessert was the triple berry blend with whipped cream: 2 cups cream, whipped until made soft folds, with a pinch of stevia, and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Day 19:
Breakfast: Zucchini Casserole from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook - very good!
Snack: didn't get one, were too busy outside and didn't get hungry before lunchtime

Lunch: leftover pork bbq, plus some fruit salad with kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and oranges cut up together with whipped cream on top

Snack: kids had fruit salad or grapes, adults skipped snacks

Supper: Slow Cooker pot roast from the Primal Blueprint cookbook....wow, sooo good! fruit salad with whipped cream for dessert

Day 20:
Breakfast: assorted leftovers from the previous week, bananas
Snack: skipped it!
Lunch: I'd boiled a chicken in anticipation of needing some broth/stock for recipes in the following days, so I picked meat from the bones in fairly large chunks, added shredded italian style cheese, italian seasoning, capers, and a can of artichoke hearts, and a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Baked it until the cheese melted - it was good, but I added too much salt. I also made a vinaigrette from EVOO, apple cider vinegar, stevia, basil, 2 garlic cloves, basil, and drained canned tomatoes, which we put on salads......it was almost like my hubby's french dressing that he loves, Catalina - but a bit too vinegary for his taste. I just really don't care for salad dressing!

Snack: fruit salad for all, except Luke, who only wants the grapes!

Supper: Leftover seafood chowder

Day 21:
Breakfast: clean-out-the-fridge breakfast bake: had some leftover sausage and bacon crumbles, some cheese, some chopped onion, green peppers, and olives, some salsa, and eggs with salt and pepper.

Snack: oranges

Matt's Lunchbox: leftover chili, green beans, fruit salad, and tea

Lunch: leftover coconut curry chicken

Snack: sliced pears, Luke and I shared a chunk of the 85% cacao bar. mmmm!

Supper: clean-out-the-fridge stew

Snack: I might have also possibly sneaked in another chunk of the 85% cacao bar while Daddy was giving the kids their bath....now all the chocolate is gone again, I'll have to rely on healthier things.

Impressions from the week: Overall, both Matt and I have been noticing increased leanness, and I can make it from Breakfast to Lunch to Supper without HAVING to snack in between, although I am very hungry by the time lunch arrives if I skip snacks, I'm at least not all shaky and weak. Also noticing definite fat melting away. It is totally effective at dropping the extra "padding" - clothes are looser, I'm getting bruised more easily (due to being bonier around the hips and elbows!) and I get cold/chilled faster. Not sure I like all of those parts, especially considering I was more or less satisfied with my weight before.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Salt, anyone?

So I think it's a given to take another person's words with a grain of salt, right? Meaning, listen carefully, realizing that you can't always take what someone says as absolute truth - whether this is in conversation with a friend, or when reading blog posts on the internet, or yes, even when reading published books!

Right now I have checked out from the library 3 books on nutrition:
  • Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint Cookbook - based on the premise that we should eat as our evolutionary ancestors did
  • Laurette Willis's BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness - a guide to fitness and food choices based on Biblical principles, I get the impression that it's primarily geared towards those who are heavily overweight
  • Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions - suggesting that the food processing industry has created products that are non-nutritive and even harmful, and that we should all return to the way people ate before hydrogenization and white flour and table sugar, complete with recipes for doing this

In all of these books, the theme is healthy eating - but they all differ as to what is the best way to do that: one says grains are bad, the other says be sure to include whole grains; one says drink only cultured milk products, one says drink only raw milk, not pasteurized, and I've heard elsewhere that only pasteurized milk is safe and raw milk is dangerous; one says peanuts are beneficial, another says peanuts are harmful.......and so on, and on, and on. Full of contradictions. How can a person choose which to believe?

Now, one theme that is common to all of the books I've listed in this post is: Eat organic, or die! (this may be a slight dramatization). And this is where it gets difficult for me to find words to explain the rest of my post - I mean, why would anyone listen to some blogger's words over a published author???

On page 51 of Willis' book BASIC Steps to Godly Fitness, she writes:
"As you can imagine, the cattle in biblical times were not subjected to living in overcrowded feedlots, fed moldy grain, or injected with antibiotics, growth hormones, and steroids as are today's cattle."
Okay, folks. This paints a picture that is NOT truly the plight of today's cattle!! This sentence (and similar ones found printed in many other books, magazines, newspapers, posted on blogs, and tossed around in conversations) asks readers to imagine the worst possible scenario, and then makes the assumption that these are the conditions that all beef producers intentionally replicate! This is not the case. And it's not just Willis' book - Sisson's had misleading information about the way poultry are raised, and Fallon's was filled with quotations from other's indicating the downfalls of modern agriculture. It's as if the people pushing organic intend to make others feel guilty for consuming conventionally raised foods - and this is a problem.

Those who raise animals for meat production do it because they LIKE animals. It is hard work. You can't call in sick. It doesn't matter if it's -3 degrees, sleeting, and all the water hydrants are frozen and there are inches of ice on the water tanks and it takes many times longer than normal to take care of the animals. It doesn't matter if you've made special plans to go out - when you've made the choice to raise animals, their needs come first! And if it's a cow having trouble calving, or the silo unloader has stopped working, or whatever it is - those emergencies come first!

We raise our cattle conventionally, though on a smaller scale than some others. We take their needs seriously. We need them to be healthy! We do what is best for them to keep them in good health and growing well.

Our feedlots are not overcrowded.

We do not feed moldy corn.

We give antibiotics only to the occasional sick calf, to help them get well.

We do implant our calves to help them grow optimally.

They're well-cared-for, never worry about running out of feed, hay, or water.

Do I think that anyone who believes the sensationalized, emotionally charged message that "conventional farming is evil, organic is perfect" will listen and hear the typed words of one blogger, over published authors? I don't know - but I hope so.

I've been thinking about interviewing my father in law (who does the majority of the day to day work with the cattle) about exactly how we raise a calf from birth to finishing. The way we raise cattle is not much different from the way the large feedlots and ranches do, aside from scale - and I think the good quality care the cattle really do receive may surprise some readers. Please know, in the meantime, that we take our animals' care very seriously.

Organic is fine, but conventionally raising livestock is not the evil that some will make it out to be.

The point is, you can't believe everything you read. I've taken away some great information from each of the three books - I'd actually recommend any of them! But when it comes to how animals and crops are raised, it's best to go to the source - the farmers and ranchers who take care of the livestock and produce on a daily basis, to see how things are really done. I applaud the movement for folks to become more aware of where their food is coming from, and it's not the grocery store! But take it one step further than the books you read - visit a farm or dairy or feedlot - talk to those who are actually doing it because that's the only way you'll really know.
Whose word do you want to believe? The producer who works day in and day out with the animals, or the outsider looking in?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Second Week of the Food Challenge

This is an incredibly un-interesting post, as it details everything my family ate for the 2nd week of the food challenge. But it may be helpful for someone who is curious about our results, and wants to know what it looks like to eat without grains, legumes, and sugar (although there were some meals where we just ate whatever we were presented, with thanks!). I tried to keep track of how we felt physically and psychologically (cravings) day by day.

Day 8:

Breakfast: Pumpkin spoonbread except I multiplied the recipe and put it in an 8x8 dish. And I left out the raisins and nuts because my husband won't eat them. Turned out, he didn't eat it anyway. I thought it was good - but if you were expecting something sweet it certainly wasn't that. Gave Matt milk with cocoa powder again and instead sifted the cocoa powder, but for some reason he couldn't drink it because of the texture.

Snack: Apple for me and Cora, she also had another helping of the pumpkin spoonbread.

Matt's Lunchbox: unsweet tea, banana, leftover beef stir fry, home canned peaches.

Lunch: leftover chicken salad, oranges.

Snack: pumpkin spoonbread "granola" (put it in a 225*oven for hours until it crisped up....not bad!) Fruit leather, raisins. And here's the thing - I was never *hungry* this afternoon.......I just ate because it was habit. I'll need to work on this. My kids, however, seem hungry all the time. Maybe need to add whole milk as their primary drink rather than water? I'm sure they need more good fat than adults. Maybe I need to be more strict with them about no candy, no flour. I've been pretty lax with them when we're away from home, so maybe it's taking them longer to get used to not constantly having carbs?

Dinner: (are you ready for this??) Beef tongue! Boiled it for three hours with a diced onion and garlic. Peeled it, sliced it, added some frozen leftover beef roast to help trick my mind into thinking we were just eating beef, then spooned the gravy/souplike mixture over potatoes mashed with plenty of butter. It was actually really good. Just be sure that you and your dinnermates are having a very important conversation to help distract from the fact that you're eating TONGUE! lol. We had green beans too, and pickles.

Day 9:
Breakfast: Banana pancakes, Matt has reverted to drinking milk with quik. I can't stop him.

Snack: kids snacked at Grandma's. I ate a banana pancake.

Matt's lunchbox: leftover beef and potatoes, oranges, unsweet tea

Lunch: chicken alfredo with penne.

Snack: pumpkin spoonbread granola

Supper: lemon butter fish filets, lettuce and spinach salads, Cora and I shared an avocado, Matt and Luke shared green beans.

Snack: kids snacked at Grandpa's while Matt and I went to a church meeting, and on the way home had to stop at the grocery store and got some snack sized pepperoni bites.

Really, this challenge is going very very well. Much better than I anticipated. The only real drawback is how badly I do want some chocolate!! And I'm having a bit of a difficult time getting everyone filled up and satisfied at each meal. And I'm very glad I made sure to add the part about eating whatever we were served if we were guests, I just feel that's right.

Day 10:
Breakfast: Sausage, salsa, egg and cheese scramble. Similar to the muffins I made before, only fried in a skillet rather than baked. Since we don't need the on-the-go convenience factor the finger food muffins provide, the skillet and fork method suits us just fine.

Snack: shared avocado for Cora and I. Luke had pumpkin spoonbread granola. He loves it!

Matt ate out for lunch, he had some errands to run over his lunch break.

Lunch: smoked sausages, oranges.

Snack: walnuts for me. walnuts, prunes, and a glass of milk for Cora. Either that girl's going through a growth spurt or she's not getting enough to eat - she's always hungry! I'm thinking how can I add healthy fats to her diet? Maybe whole milk? I am completely seriously considering milking a goat or two to get raw, whole milk.

Supper: I never know what to call what I fix! Why do meals have to have names? Anyway, I chopped an onion, melted butter (should've added olive oil right away, but I ended up adding it later) browned about a pound and a half of deer burger, diced a green pepper, sliced mushrooms, minced garlic and sauteed that. Then I added salt and pepper and oregano and basil, and 2 drained quart jars of tomatoes, brought it to a simmer, then added about 1 cup of chicken broth. It was good. It was a lot like chili, maybe Italian Deer Chili. There we go, it's got a name now! It was filling, but Cora goofed off, said she didn't like it, and didn't eat it. Told her she could either eat it tonight or for breakfast in the morning.

Snack: I had a glass of fiberwise drink.

Day 11:
Breakfast: Matt had leftover sausage/salsa/cheese/eggs, I had leftover banana pancakes with butter, Cora had Italian Deer Chili (in case you were wondering how last night's dinner turned out). Luke slept through breakfast. You see, the boy has been waking up at 4:30 am every single day for the past 2 weeks plus. He will happily nurse back to sleep, then leave me to try to decide whether to try to fall back asleep in the 20 minutes before the alarm clock goes off or just stay up. Oy! But I thankfully have not felt the urge AT ALL to take a nap in the afternoon....whether it's the food we're eating or the vitamins I'm taking, or the combination - I'm not sure.

Snack: Carrot sticks and the last of the spoonbread with butter for the kids, I had just carrot sticks. I wish I'd have had some good fat dip so I wouldn't have been so hungry in between snack and lunch!

Matt's Lunchbox: Leftover Italian Deer Chili, carrots, tea

Lunch: leftover Italian Deer Chili, then I ate a small handful of walnuts after the kids went down for their naps.

Snack: kids had the last of the pumpkin spoonbread granola. I wasn't hungry, so I didn't eat!!! This is unprecedented, people!

Supper: slow-roasted pork BBQ, applesauce, iceberg lettuce salad - Matt and Cora had red french dressing, I had oil/vinegar/garlic/herb dressing, even though usually I don't like dressing. Didn't like it this time, either! Cora told me I should've had the red dressing, it was good. haha

Day 12:
Breakfast: Sausage crumble-diced bacon-diced fried potatoes-egg scramble

Snack: late breakfast so no snack

Lunch: Transylvanian Stockpot from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, grapes, kiwi, strawberries, and some little debbie snack cakes (oops!)

Snack: chocolate truffles from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook

Supper: Meatloaf, potatoes, green beans

snack: tortilla chips, salsa, cheese dip, and a small pineapple juice/coconut rum over a game of euchre

the chips, salsa, and cakes were valentine's gifts from grandma and grandpa. We didn't specifically announce this whole crazy eating thing where we are giving up grain and sugars for a month, so we felt it only polite to induldge a bit! We enjoyed the treat!

Day 13:
Breakfast: omelets - everyone picked out what they wanted on from: mushrooms, olives, green peppers, onions, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese

Snack: Cora had a chocolate doughnut with chocolate milk at church, Luke had a doughnut hole, I had coffee.

Lunch: leftover pork BBQ, applesauce, the rest of the fruit salad, baby carrots, potato chips, deviled eggs

Snack: chocolate truffles

Supper: Warm again, so Matt grilled pork chops and smoked sausages, and we also had broccoli, and apples

we were all exhausted. Maybe because it was Sunday night and we'd been active all day (I'd been spring cleaning the kitchen with my mom, Matt was working on our pop-up camper, moving hay, etc with my dad) or maybe it was because we were noticing the effects of our chips and lil debbies?

Day 14:
Breakfast: leftover sausage/bacon/potato/egg scramble

Snack: Apples

Matt's Lunchbox: leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes, tea

Lunch: smoked sausage, deviled eggs, grapes, a few truffles

Snack: deviled eggs, bananas, walnuts

Supper: "hamburgers" consisting of ground beef, ground deer (with a little bacon mixed in) and ground beef heart. pickles, cheese. Pretty weak as far as vegetables! Oops! Oh, and we had one package of little debbie cakes - Cora and Luke each had half of one heart-shaped cake, Matt and I split ours 1/3, 2/3 - he took the big half, because they're more of a treat for him than I. Then I had a few of the truffles we'd made from the PB cookbook.

This evening I also went ahead and ordered some goat-milking supplies! I'm very excited to give whole, raw goat's milk a try.

The second week had much fewer sweets cravings, but now I'm starting to lose inspiration for what to fix. I can't really get too excited about planning the next week's menu. But that's pretty typical for me in general, I get into a groove of being awesome at meal planning, then kind of fall off the wagon....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why, oh why am I doing this??

Why have we chosen to stop eating grains and legumes and sugar, and reduce our dairy consumption for the month of February? I have to keep reminding myself that there are only 28 days in February, we haven't necessarily chosen to change our eating habits forever.

Right now, just a few days in I cannot believe I would tell myself no to a small handful of chocolate chips. Saying "no" to chocolate has certainly been the most difficult thing for me about this entire thing, so far. One batch of brownies each week, or even every 2 weeks, couldn't be that bad, right?

But the truth is that we'd gotten to the point where we ate a sweet snack (cookies, brownies, etc.) twice a day. I'd often sneak in a few extras here and there, if no one else was in the kitchen. So I was eating sweets as a large portion of my daily diet. Not particularly nutritious!

For quite some time I would have to eat every 2-3 hours all the time or else feel all shaky and trembly. Like, I can't go from breakfast to lunch without eating, from lunch to dinner.

I had become a slave to food, in particular sweets. In truth, it was getting out of hand. I don't want to raise children to have eating habits like that. So things were getting pretty unhealthy, and in my house, I do all the grocery shopping, and all the cooking, and if we eat out, it's only because I wanted to. In short, I came to the realization that I pretty much control what my family puts in their mouths. Do I want to provide empty-calories or nutritive foods? Do I want to raise my children to not give much thought to the food they eat, or impart to them healthy eating habits?

Well, I think every parent wants to feed their children healthy, nutritious meals, and for them to grow up with healthful habits. But the problem is that children learn by watching their parents. My daughter pretty much only wants to drink chocolate milk, because that's the only way her daddy will drink milk. She also has become a candy fiend......like her mother. It's just very difficult for my husband and I as adults to change our eating habits - because we're used to eating the way we've always eaten. For instance, how do you have soup without crackers?? Well, we adults can realize that crackers have very little nutritional value, and therefore leave them out! And if we leave them out, our children will not automatically associate crackers with soups. So we're changing the cycle, choosing only foods that are obviously beneficial. Not that crackers once in a while are necessarily harmful for a healthy digestive system.....but they certainly don't have much nutritive substance to them.

Anyway....enough rambling. Here is a short summary of the benefits I'm expecting us to reap from this February Food Challenge:

  • Gain a greater awareness of what food choices we are making
  • Learn to only eat when I'm actually hungry - I've read that this type of diet (diet meaning the food we eat, not some faddish weight loss program) can help reduce hunger pangs - without the addictive power of carbohydrates (which to the body are really just sugars)
  • Retrain my tastebuds to recognize natural sweetness. I clearly remember a couple of summers ago my sister being horrified that I was putting sugar on grocery store strawberries. I told her they were tart compared to the ones we grew at home....but the truth is, we put sugar on the homegrown ones as well.
  • Give our bodies a chance for optimum health. If we choose to only put beneficial foods into it, it won't have to work as hard to remove the harmful things: sugars, phytates, enzyme-inhibitors...and it won't have to work as hard in digestion.
  • Taking on a relatively short, 28 day timeframe empowers us to make significant dietary changes without feeling "trapped" into forever. It will give me time to re-evaluate what to put on the grocery shopping list, and what to leave off. And with a 28 day time period we're well on our way to forming a new habit in our food choices!
  • Greater energy levels - not wanting to just lay on the couch, because I just ate a heavy meal that makes me sleepy.
I may add to this list as time goes on. If it's true that "you are what you eat" then there are in truth many more good reasons to keep a watchful eye on what's on your plate, in your pantry, in your grocery shopping cart. And please notice that I didn't place on my list a desire to lose weight. In general, I'm pleased with my body. I'm strong enough to do the things I need to do, and I fit in my clothes, and my husband thinks I'm pretty good-lookin' - that's all I need. I am not doing this to lose weight for looks - but both my husband and I have been creeping up in weight to more unhealthy levels, and I would really like for both of us to be around for a long time - the healthier our body weights are, the more likely we'll experience long term vibrant health.

Already we're noticing that the food we're eating is still delicious, it's filling, and at least for me I'm not ravenous between meals. I still eat snacks out of habit, but not because I have to because I'll start to get the shakes. But since we only have good foods in the house, it's okay!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

The February Food Challenge *is* underway. I'm keeping track of how things are going but I think I'll wait a while to publish those posts.

Last night I made Shepherd's Pie. It was so good, and really pretty easy and I wanted to share how I made it. Now, hardcore primal eaters won't eat white potatoes (too high in carbs), nor would they eat peas (legumes) but I see them both as more of a vegetable, and I'm not a hardcore primal eater, so therefore this meal counts!

I really don't like to cook in a messy kitchen, so I always start by making sure the dishwasher is ready to put dirty dishes in, and that the stovetop is clear, and that I have a clean countertop to work on.

Are you ready to make Shepherd's Pie??

1. Put 1 pound of thawed hamburger in a skillet on medium heat and with a spatula, chop it/spread it around until it covers the pan. Leave it alone.

2. Chop off the ends of an onion and peel the dry papery stuff off. Slice it in half from end to end, then put the cut side down on the cutting board and slice in about 1/4" sections, so when the onion is separated, you have half-circles. Dump the onions in the skillet with the hamburger, and give it all a stir.

3. Take a few cloves of garlic and mince them, add them to the skillet. Add several shakes of pepper, and about a teaspoon of salt. Stir.

4. Slice enough carrots to make 1.5 cups of carrot bits, roughly the size of peas. By now the hamburger should be browned (keep stirring every so often to make sure it's cooked evenly) Add the carrots to the skillet on top of the meat, and add 1/2 cup of water, then cover and simmer on medium/low - just hot enough that it bubbles. Leave it alone.

5. Grab 4 large potatoes, peel and slice into small, evenly-sized chunks. Put them in a pot, cover with water, and turn it on high heat.

6. Stir the contents of the skillet, then add 1.5 cups of frozen peas, and put the cover back on again.

7. Once the potatoes start to boil, turn the heat down a little so the pot doesn't boil over, then set the timer for 15 minutes. Now you can read a book to your babies, or fold some clothes, or whatever, but try to keep half an eye on the potato pot so it keeps boiling but doesn't boil over!

8. When the timer goes off, check the potatoes with a fork to be sure they're tender (if not, let them boil a bit longer). Stir up the skillet again, then pour 1/2 cup of milk over the contents and let it simmer. Pour most of the water off of the potatoes (leave a little in to help keep them creamy) add a half stick of butter, and mash away!

9. One last time, stir the skillet, then spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the hamburger/veggie mixture. Dot butter on top, and enjoy!

This was a yummy, satisfying meal which the whole family enjoyed. I'd say it made enough to feed 4 adults. We fed 2 adults, a 3 year old, a 1 year old, and had enough for one leftover lunch. Let me know if you try it, how you liked it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First Week of the Food Challenge

This is an incredibly un-interesting post, as it details everything my family ate for the 1st week of the food challenge. But it may be helpful for someone who is curious about our results, and wants to know what it looks like to eat without grains, legumes, and sugar (although there were some meals where we just ate whatever we were presented, with thanks!). I tried to keep track of how we felt physically and psychologically (cravings) day by day.

Day 1:

Rather than drink chocolate milk for breakfast, Matt had semi-sweetened tea. He had a breaded porkchop (leftovers from supper). When the kids woke up, they and I shared 2 avocados, and we each had a piece of cornbread (also leftovers). I drank coffee, no sugar, but with a splash of milk.

Snack: Everyone had an apple. Luke also had a piece of a homemade dinner roll.

I packed another leftover breaded porkchop for Matt, and semi-sweetened tea (I'm gradually adding in unsweet tea to the pitcher of sweet tea as I pour cups out of it. When this pitcher of tea is gone - it's going to be completely unsweet for the rest of the month.) The kids and I ate leftover enchiladas and applesauce for lunch.

Snack: Carrot sticks

Supper: I was able to check out on interlibrary loan Mark Sisson's cookbook for recipe ideas, as I needed hints on how to eat without grain! No noodles? For the first night, we had the Smoked Sausage and Cabbage recipe in there. It was very good! We polished off the majority of it between the 4 of us, Matt was still a little hungry though, but that's normal for him! Luke couldn't really chew the cabbage, but Cora ate it very well. The kids had some raisins, and we drank some fiber drink, too. I've read that part of the "carb flu" comes from yeast in your body dying off, and that plenty of fiber can help clear that out and help feel better faster. Can't hurt to try!

After supper we all played together in the living room and really had a fun evening, pushing, pulling, throwing, lunging, leaning, flopping, tickling, bopping a balloon all around. It was a really fun way to spend family time.

Matt and I are both feeling somewhat uneasy over trying to eat this way. Which is exactly why we've only committed to trying for one month! The thing is, today we totally ate plenty of grains, and Matt had sugary tea - so I guess we're going at this slowly. I just didn't want to waste any food! We're also keeping a close look at how much it's costing to eat this way. Staying on budget is important to us, so we'll just wait and see how that turns out. So far though it's not so bad. We measured our circumferences at belly button and hips. It will be interesting to see if there's much difference from the 1st and 28th days.

Day 2:
Breakfast was a concoction of 9 eggs, salt, pepper, a little milk, cheddar cheese, 1 cup of drained home-canned salsa, and a pound of mild breakfast sausage. Poured most of it into muffin cups, and fried the rest. Everyone ate it, and liked it! Even Matt who really doesn't like eggs :-)

Snack: I had an apple, the kids went to grandma's and ate whatever they wanted (and I'm totally good with that, actually!) I packed an apple for Matt.

Lunch: Matt had leftover breaded porkchops again, and a little container of corn. I went to grandma's and ate with the kids, we had sloppy joes (I have never eaten bread with my sloppy joes, prefer eating just the meat with a fork) peas and carrots, and mac 'n cheese. Applesauce for dessert. I said from the beginning if we were guests at someone's home we'd eat whatever we were offered and I'm sticking with that. The food (and the company) was great!

Snack: Carrots and raisins for me and the kids, just carrots for Matt

Supper: Shepherd's Pie - you saw my recipe I posted at the beginning of February. Other than coffee in the am, I drink water all the time. Matt's the same way except his "vice" is tea. He probably drinks 4 glasses a day.

I had a meeting at church and as I was getting into the car I spied a bag of prepackaged animal crackers in the passenger seat. Oh, my - how I wanted them! I threw them to the very back of the car so they'd be out of reach, then ran in the house to grab a couple of packages of dried fruit
snacks.....not "fruitsnacks" these are actually made of just fruit, and fruit juice! I sipped on decaf coffee with a shake of cinnamon and a splash of milk on the way.

After the meeting, I had to stop by the grocery store for a few things for the weekend's menu, and as I walked into the checkout I saw the display for the Cadbury eggs! Normally I would grab two, and eat them both on the way home. This time, I left them there.....but could not stop thinking about eating them. You see....in the past, if I wanted chocolate, or cookie dough, or whatever - I'd grab a handful of chocolate chips, or mix up the dough, or brownie batter, and eat it! In fact, in ridiculous amounts - I'd eat a cookie each time I walked through the kitchen. But I really couldn't get the notion of eating chocolate out of my mind, so I grabbed a handful of pecans, put them in a bown, and tossed them around in a pinch of powdered cocoa. It actually tasted good! But I wished I'd have just gone to bed, cause then I had nuts all stuck in my teeth then had to brush. This is truly a food CHALLENGE, and so far, at least when it comes to sweets - we're winning!

Day 3:
Breakfast: Matt had leftover sausage egg "muffins," the kids and I had Banana Pancakes (bananas, eggs, almond butter - with nothing but butter on top). Matt's coming down with a runny nose, which is looking like the starts to a sinus infection. Hope he can avoid that!

Matt's lunchbox: leftover shepherd's pie, baby carrots, unsweet tea, and he still hasn't eaten the apple I gave him on Tuesday.

Snack: Cora and I shared an avocado - we each had half, and she wanted more! Luke apparantly doesn't like them - he kept spitting out whatever I gave him. Each child got a sucker, but Luke only ate part of his. We're almost out of the halloween candy - when it's gone, it's gone and the kids won't get anymore candy for a while!

Lunch: kids and I shared leftover Smoked Sausage and Cabbage, and they each got a half of a deviled egg, and I ate a whole one. I was very very full after lunch.

Snack: For me, one more deviled egg (2 halves) 1/2 an apple, and snitches of the chicken I was pickin' for supper. For Cora, an apple. For Luke, some unidentifiable quantity of an apple (a large portion of it was shredded on the floor allllll around him).

*A side note about the baby: Lest anyone is concerned about how much my 14 month old is eating (cause it doesn't really sound like much) he still nurses quite a bit, probably 4-5 times a day, mostly when he's just woken up, or getting ready to sleep for naps or bedtime. It's such peace of mind to not have to coax him through meals - if he's hungry, he'll eat - otherwise I can count on him getting his nourishment through my milk.

Supper: I cut up a chicken, boiled it, removed the pieces from the broth and let them cool, then I picked the meat from the bones, returned the rest to the pot and simmered it for another couple of hours. I poured the liquid and bones and skin through a strainer and into a bowl. In the stockpot I added EVOO, a whole mess of veggies, seasonings, 1/2 of the picked chicken pieces chopped into tiny bits, and some broth. This made a very yummy soup! No noodles required! I reaaallly wanted a hot dinner roll to dip into the broth, but I was quite full without it even after just one bowl. Luke didn't eat hardly any - I think he's teeth coming in are bothering him a lot. Cora ate really well, and Matt took seconds, and polished off what Luke didn't eat. Matt commented that so far all the new recipes we've tried have been very good. Hooray!

Comments: I could NOT stop thinking about chocolate, specifically brownie batter. Oh how I wanted to make some!! But I didn't. Matt said it really wasn't that bad to get used to unsweetened tea. I'm so glad - that was one of my biggest concerns with this whole thing - the man practically lives off of sweet tea. If he hasn't drank enough sweet tea, he is grumpy - no kidding! So I am very glad that part hasn't been too hard on him.

Day 4:
I woke up in the morning feeling all shaky and trembly. Are these withdrawal symptoms? Or had I just not drank enough water? It was terribly cold overnight and the heater ran a lot, which left me with a very dry mouth due to low humidity - so maybe it was just dehydration. That does happen sometimes.

Breakfast: A smoothie. I was the ONLY one who liked it. :-( But I hadn't used a recipe because I couldn't find all the ingredients to the recipe I know is delicious. I just threw in a handful of fresh spinach, a small can of pineapple juice, a banana, some frozen fruit mix (had pineapple, strawberries, grapes.....other stuff too) and I also blended in an avocado in there. Matt ate maybe 1/2 cup of the stuff, so the poor man essentially went without breakfast. Cora did come back later saying she was hungry and finished hers, so it must not have been that bad.

Matt's lunchbox: Leftover chicken soup. Tea. Apple. Banana. I bet he comes home hungry.

Snack: Apples, and deviled eggs. I had two halves, kids each had one half.

Lunch: Leftover chicken soup. Didn't sound appealing, but we ate it anyway. Who says you have to LOVE everything you put in your mouth?

I am absolutely craving chocolate. I am not even remotely hungry (maybe thirsty) but all I want to do is figure out how to eat some chocolate without breaking the "rules".

Snack: carrots and raisins

Supper: Slow-cooked pork shoulder, green beans, boiled potatoes, applesauce

Day 5:
Breakfast: Leftovers of 1 sausage "cupcake," 1 banana pancake, applesauce

Snack: Didn't have a snack! Was busy all morning, didn't even want one!

Lunch: Tuna salad on fresh spinach

Snack: carrots

Supper: kids ate spaghetti at grandma's, Matt and I went out for dinner. I was all nervous we wouldn't be able to find anything to eat that followed the "rules" but it wasn't a problem. Ate at the buffet and had fish, pork chop, fried chicken (breading removed), "california blend" vegetables, green beans, salad, mashed potatoes. Almost shared a scoop of vanilla ice cream but decided against it!

Day 6:
Breakfast: leftovers just like the day before, except Matt drank milk with cocoa powder, said it didn't taste any less sweet than nesquik, except the texture of the cocoa powder was all chunky and weird

Snack: Cora had a doughnut and a Push Pop with her Sunday school class. I had a small glass of orange juice instead of a doughnut! We stopped at Aldi for groceries, and Matt and I each had a "100 calorie pack" of mixed walnuts and almonds, and gave Luke a piece of fruit leather to chew on. Cora was till working on her push pop.

Lunch: Beef, cabbage, broccoli, onion, garlic, sesame seed, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce stir fry over cauliflower rice. It was good!

Snack: Matt and luke and I had apples. Cora had real fruit fruit snacks.

Supper: First "warm" day we've had all winter - it was above 40 degrees so Matt offered to grill steaks. Yum! He also grilled a few smoked sausages because he thought that'd be easier for the kids to chew, and they loved them. We had steamed broccoli with cheddar cheese melted on top as a side. For dessert we had a grape, kiwi, and strawberry fruit salad. For "dressing" I ran two peeled oranges through our kitchen-aid mixer's food processing attachment and stirred the mix together. This was amazing!

Day 7:
Breakfast: 1/2 pound of bacon and fried potatoes, Matt drank milk with Nesquik

snack: leftover fruit salad

Matt's lunchbox: apple, fruit salad, leftover chicken soup, leftover stir fry, unsweet tea

Lunch: Me: leftover tuna salad on spinach, 1/2 smoked sausage, 1/2 avocado. Cora: smoked sausage, 1/2 avocado. Luke: 1/2 smoked sausage, still won't eat avocado.

Snack: apple

Supper: Chicken salad

Snack: Raisins

First week reflections: Not too bad! The food's been good, energy levels have stayed good, haven't been hungry, and we have lost inches off our waistlines. Really!

Biggest problem is dessert, and not drinking milk. Beginning to consider how difficult it would be to obtain whole-fat, raw milk for it's many benefits over pasteurized....hmmm....