Thursday, September 19, 2013

DIY Paleo Packs

My annual birthday beach pilgrimage is upon us! This year's trip is going to be different, it's not going to be the eating free-for-all like birthdays past. I'm going to make my best effort to stay as close to my Paleo template as possible while traveling, and at the very least gluten/wheat-free. I became quite ill from eating homemade pizza with a wheat-based crust during Labor Day weekend and it just wasn't worth the days of discomfort and time spent doubled over on the toilet bowl.

While I'm not planning on avoiding restaurants or packing a hot plate and stopping at the nearest Whole Foods on our way to Amelia Island, I thought it might be a good idea to pack some high-quality food that could act as a snack or a fast food meal. Enter Paleo packs; grass-fed beef jerky, dried fruits and soaked, dehydrated nuts all measured and vacuum sealed in a portable pouch. There are a couple of companies that sell these types of pre-made packs but I wanted to try doing it myself.

I made a batch of soy and sugar free beef jerky from a grass-fed London broil.  It's the perfect cut of beef because it is lean. It's not that I want to avoid the fat, I sure don't, but fat isn't great for jerky due to the spoilage factor.

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Then  I stocked up on raw nuts and unsulphured dried fruit from Trader Joe's. I soaked the nuts overnight before dehydrating them. Why soak nuts? Nuts, like grains, seeds and legumes, contain anti-nutrients that make it difficult for your body to assimilate the nutrients contained in the nuts and also make the nuts difficult to digest.  I have a very hard time digesting cashews and almonds unless I soak and dehydrate them, now I know why. I just pour a little whey off the yogurt, mix it with filtered water and pour over the nuts.

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Then I got out my trusty food scale, my Rival Vacuum Sealer and got to assembling my packs.  I made three-ounce packs using once ounce of jerky, one ounce of nuts and once ounce of dried fruit.  Two pounds of London broil gave me enough jerky for about a dozen packs with some left over for plain snacking.

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Tip~ be sure to nick the side of the pack with a scissors (without cutting into the bag thus breaking the seal) otherwise you'll never get them open.

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I've found that the full pack is perfectly filling for a light meal and half the pack is perfect for satisfying snack. They turned out really well and will be joining us on our upcoming trip!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not So Dirty Hippie~ Chemical Free Personal Care

Ever since I was a kid, I have been obsessed with beauty-care products. Some of my favorite childhood memories are when Nana would take us to Freedom Drug in Seabrook, NH and let us loose in the beauty department. Maybelline Kissing Potion, Rose Milk body lotion and Camay soap were my favorites when I was 10 going on 25. Do you remember these goodies?

photo courtesy of Camay VonFurstenberg

photo courtesy of Kooky Kitch

photo courtesy of Vintage Fanatic

I still LOVE beauty products and I had great fun making the switch from regular, factory-chemical laden products to personal care products that would assist in my quest to decrease my toxic load. 

Our skin is our largest organ, anything we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bodies.  For example, medication can be administered via different routes; oral/subligual (via the mouth/under the tongue,) subcutaneous(via an injection into the skin,) intramuscular (via an injection into the muscle,) and trans dermal (via the skin.) Medication applied to the skin is absorbed and metabolized by the body, the same as any other route, so it is a medical certainty that whatever is in those pots and tubes you apply to your skin is also absorbed into the body.

I didn't make the transition overnight. It took about three months to transition the following areas...
Hair color
Hair care
Facial skin care
Body skin care
tooth paste

To avoid information overload, I'll address each of these areas in separate posts.  In the meantime, take a look at the Skin Deep database and let me know what you find out about your products.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

CrossFit, Strike Two

Last year I had an unpleasant experience the first time I tried to see what CrossFit is all about. The other week I received a mailer alerting me that the gym I previously attended was now offering CrossFit. I got a little a excited because it's a really nice gym with pleasant clients and trainers. There was also a coupon for a free introductory class. I thought, great!  I'm feeling stronger, it's probably time for me to get moving and lifting again so I called to check it out. The person I spoke with gave me the trainer's number so I could set up the intro class. 

Shortly after, I was at the customer appreciation/grand reopening day at my local health food store, which happens to be right near the gym. It was buzzing and full of people. I recognized a few of the gym people there, who were passing out information at the event. I approached one of the women and said hello. She said she recognized me, too. We chatted for a few moments and I asked her about the classes. It turns out she's Cathy, the trainer who is running the CrossFit classes. She was very encouraging and said the intro class is a fitness assessment to see where the new clients are at so she can set up appropriate workouts that would fit their needs and help them reach their goals. I asked a few questions about modifying for recovered injuries and she said all the right things. I told her I would call her asap to set up my intro.

I called as soon as I got home, left a message on her voicemail. And guess what? No call back. And that was like three weeks ago. So do I scrap the idea of wanting to try CrossFit, or do I try again? It's discouraging because it's something I want to try but I'm not sure I'm willing to put myself out there just to be shot down again. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Vermont Maple Fizz

My sister and her family were glamping in Vermont last month. They visited the farmer's market in Stowe one afternoon and a vendor there was offering up a very unique beverage that my sister could not resist. Freshly carbonated water from a local spring served over ice with a shot of pure Vermont maple syrup drizzled in. Alyssa said it was the most delicious and refreshing drink she had ever tried.

Of course I couldn't wait to reproduce it.

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Fill a glass with ice
Pour fizzy water over ice
Drizzle in 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup

This drink is a sensation and a revelation.  I never tasted anything like it.  It's thirst quenching, deeply satisfying and perfectly sweet for when you want a little something something.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Menu Planning and Food Porn

It's been such an enjoyable day off. I'm still in my pajamas and I've had cassia on my hair since 9am. I've cleaned, organized, did laundry, batch cooked a few things and got my bone broth going. I was hoping to get several articles and recipes ready to post, too, but I'm not sure I'll get to that before it's time to shower and start supper.

Since meal planning is a priority around here, let's do that first.

This evening I'm making my grain-free version of Chick-Fil-A nuggets served with sliced pickles wrapped in lettuce leaves with carrot sticks and baby peppers with homemade mayo mixed with sriracha for dipping.

Back to work tomorrow, so it's leftovers for supper. Primal Shepherd's Pie leftovers.

Rob requested fish in parsley sauce with broccoli, carrots and peas.  

Grilled lamb steak with caulicous pilaf flavored with nuts, sultanas, scallions, orange zest and warm spices!

This Paleo take on PF Chang's Mongolian Beef, served over a big pile of baby broccoli and broccoli rabe.

And to make use of the homemade bone broth that is simmering away downstairs, curried squash soup with turkey crumbles garnished with rosemary almonds.

Here are a few pics of what's been cooking here at Shady Dame.

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Primal Shepherd's Pie with balsamic baby San Marzano tomatoes

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Cider Braised then Grilled Brats with apple onion jam over sauteed cabbage and apples

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My Paleo take on the Classic British Fry-Up

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One of my new favorite things, SARDINES and mustard!  Atop herb flavored Mary's Gone Crackers,

I read an article mocking the blogger trick of ending the post with a question to get some discussion going. I also made the mistake of reading the comments.  I wonder why it bothered these people so much.  I think I'll poke them with a stick.  What have you been cooking good?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dot Com

After over 800 posts (!!!) and three days of phone calls to tech support my domain is up and running! I want to send a special thank you to Ruben at Google/Go Daddy support who would not get off the phone with me until everything was just so.

I want to thank all of you who continued visiting my blog even when I was on hiatus and want to say "Thanks for stopping by," to all the new readers.

I'm going to keep cooking and posting recipes and tasty food porn. Like this...

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I'm going to keep sharing my experiences with my Paleo lifestyle and how I benefit from it and hopefully inspire you to see what tweaks you can make to your life to make it happier and healthier.  And most of all, I would love to hear from you!  What are you cooking, how are you staying active, what changes have you made toward a healthier, more vibrant life?

Have a fantastic Sunday!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Three Months Later (Update Post)

The following update is the follow up to this post. If you hadn't read it yet, check it out so the update makes sense.

That post really *was* tough to write, but it was even tougher to go through. It always amazes me how well my body does off sugar/booze/wheat/grains. Processed sugar and excess booze feeds depression and anxiety in me, and gluten messes with my digestive system. Case in point; I've had debilitating cramps and diarrhea since the Labor Day weekend pizza splurge.

It's been three months since I started the Balanced Bites 21 Day Sugar Detox at level 2. It wasn't instantaneous relief, but after the first week to ten days I noticed decreased digestive issues (no gas, no belching, no symptoms of IBS.) I was sleeping better, managing stress better, just happier overall. I started to experience less joint pain and have much more energy naturally, not from relying on that giant espresso every day. Imagine my excitement to have had made these improvements in my health by just making some dietary adjustments.

The 21 Day Sugar Detox is a short term program to get you off completely off sugar and at level two off grains, both which are highly inflammatory to my system, and to increase your intake of fresh whole foods.  Is it a cure-all?  No. But it's the very best first step for anyone who wants off the diet/junk food roller coaster and get on a path to increased health and vitality. Unlike a Whole 30, it's much more user friendly. Although I had a mostly positive Whole 30 experience when I did it last year,  that whole approach come across extremely antagonistic toward food. Food is the enemy and somehow you're weak and foolish if you occasionally make and eat a "Paleo" pancake or cookie. I mean, seriously, I LOVE FOOD. There is such pleasure to be had in deliciously prepared food shared with people you love. I wanted a program that embraced that, while nourishing my body and helping me with the health issues I've been suffering. This is the very best thing about Dianne Sanfillipo's approach to food.  It should be enjoyable, it should be delicious and it should be deeply nourishing.

After the initial three week detox, I started working within a Paleo template that I feel works best for me.  I made much use of the handy guides at the back of Practical Paleo. They are such a wealth of knowledge as to what foods to include and what to avoid. They are available free for download at Balanced Bites. Take a look and see just what wonderful, nutrient dense foods await you!

Getting back into corrective Chiropractic care was also a big help. I started with twice weekly visits and now I'm down to twice a month. My hip feels as good as it did back in 2010 and my right knee keeps improving.  I'm out walking more often. Tally's training camp with the dog wizard was amazing, she's such a great walking partner now. No more pulling, no more tripping me up.  I recently won a blog giveaway for a T-Tapp workout DVD, so I'm looking forward to seeing what that is all about when my prize package arrives.  Watch this space for more information on that.  

Supplement update. Since adding gelatin and increasing my bone broth consumption (I use Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin and it's non-gelling counterpart, Great Lakes Gelatin, Gelatin Collagen) my skin and nails are much improved. My skin looks smooth and glowing.  I also think the gelatin consumption was instrumental in my joint healing. Gelatin also heals the gut, which is perfect when trying to improve digestive issues. I make these fun sweet and sour gelatin bites to snack on and add the collagen (non-gelling type of gelatin) to my morning hot drink.

Next I added Ox Bile, one capsule with every meal. My stool quality is much improved, digestion much easier. I wish the gastroenterologist had told me I'd need to replace bile to help assimilate nutrition once my gallbladder was removed. It is nice to know that my body is absorbing the nutrition I'm feeding it.  My nails are no longer peeling, they are growing nice and strong, this is a good sign!

Finally, Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Ponying up the dough for these beauties proved to be a revelation. No other supplement on the market can touch FCLO. It's a superfood multi, a mega-omega, an anti-depressant, an anti-anxiety and probiotic all in one. I take two caps three times a day but will play with the amounts as I gain more health. 

I highly encourage you to read these two articles about FCLO. 

Cod Liver Oil Basics at Weston A. Price

I've made the shift from toxic personal care products to chemical free/non-toxic or homemade versions.  I've swapped out deodorant, toothpaste, body wash, facial care, hair care, hair color, counter spray and I'm still making and using this homemade laundry soap. 

Why go non-toxic?  The skin is the largest organ in the body and it absorbs whatever you put on it.  I read an article that states women can wear over 500 chemicals a day. Many of these chemicals disrupt hormones and may potentially cause, at best, skin irritation and at worst, cancer and organ damage. 

It was an interesting transition but overall I'm very happy with the changes I made. I'll talk more about it in a future post.

So all this time I'm talking about ZOMGPALEO and supplements but I bet you all want to know if I lost any weight. My main focus is gaining health and deeply nourishing my body, but if fat loss is a side effect of that I'm not going to complain. I lost 10 pounds by the end of the first 21 days and another 8 as of the end of last week.  So 18 pounds total.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Not So Dirty Hippie~ Chemical Free Hair Color

MY 800th POST!

I'm on a quest to rid toxic products from my personal care routine, which I mentioned briefly in this post. I've made many changes, which I promise to address in more depth because it's been quite a fun and interesting process. One of the toughest to change was hair color. How can I keep my hair from looking drab while not piling toxic chemicals on my scalp every 3-4 weeks?  

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Before, so very drab 

I used to use henna quite often back in the late 90's/early 2000's. I would bring back tubs of LUSH Caca Rouge and Caca Brun from England with me. That before they started selling it in bar form and before the obnoxious 3 ounce air travel limit.

Henna was messy but it made my hair so healthy and shiny. I began to wonder if there was a henna product in the blond color family that I could use to highlight my silvers. Enter Ancient Sunrise Cassia Obovata.

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Cassia is not actually henna, but it is prepared and applied in a similar manner. It is a plant with a golden yellow dye molecule that will not lighten hair. It will deposit shiny, golden pigment onto pale blond and gray hair.

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To prepare cassia for application, I mixed about 100 grams with lemon juice until it was a thick, muddy consistency and let it sit overnight.  Prior to application, I added a bit of water to smooth it out and make the consistency easy to apply.  I slathered it thickly onto dry hair.

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Wrapped it up with several layers of plastic wrap.  Woot, I'm cute!

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Then put on a terry cap to keep the heat in.  I wandered around the house doing chores for 3 hours.

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Then I rinsed, shampooed twice, and rinsed again. Wow, this stuff is stinky! Next time I will heed the advice to add powdered ginger to the mixture to make it smell better.  I added a drop of one of my favorite Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume oils (Havana, a blend of date palm, dried tobacco, snakeroot, and leather) to my leave in conditioner which did the trick and made my hair smell great.

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And the results are amazing, my hair feels thick and smooth and look how shiny! The golden hue was just was I was  hoping for and worth the effort. My sensitive scalp is so happy with the results, too.

If you'd like to try cassia or another henna make sure it is PURE and purchased from a reputable company and read the FAQs to see if this plant based hair conditioning color is right for you.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Save 15% at US Wellness Meats

If you're interested in having some pastured meats delivered to your door, now is the time to order. You can save 15% off your entire order at US Wellness Meats now through Tuesday.  I used a coupon code with my last order and ended up saving enough so that rather pricey bison roast I just had to have was free!

Use the code SAVE to get 15% off your order at US Wellness Meats.

My favorite items include the pastured lard, inside skirt steak, flat iron and sirlion steak, pork chops, ground beef and ground turkey.  I also ordered a kidney last time.  Rob requested Steak and Kidney Pie, so I'll keep you posted on how that turns out.

Disclosure~I am a member of an affiliate program.  That being said, my freezer is stocked with goodies from U.S. Wellness Meats because their pastured meat is delicious!