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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Busy, busy, but still eating clean!

I've been away from blogger life for a while. School starting meant life got quite hectic around here with lots of added to-dos and busy schedules for the 6 of us. We've also had visitors as well as family obligations. But enough with the excuses. Here is where we're at:

We are a few days shy of celebrating 3-months living Paleo/Primal. Yep! We have not quit! We're in it for life. Here are some quick updates:
  • Jon continues to lose weight. As of this morning, he has lost 25 POUNDS! 25! This is without dieting or regular exercise. This is due solely to dropping grains. He is beyond thrilled with his success and his new found energy and feeling of health. It makes me so happy to see him so happy.
  • I'm down 12 pounds. I think I'll settle somewhere around here. I'm not looking to lose more. I'm below college weight at this point. If anything, I hope to gain a little with some muscle mass as I begin exercising more regularly. But I have high energy and a general feeling of positivity. It's something I haven't felt this continuously in a long time.
  • Kids are thriving and healthy. Still no issues with upset stomachs. Our oldest has found it easier to focus in school. The youngest two are gaining weight rapidly. They used to rule the 1st and 5th percentiles on the CDC growth charts. I can tell they are jumping off that curve just by how quickly they are outgrowing their clothes. I will find out for sure at our 2 year-old check up in a few weeks. But I attribute their obvious gain to cutting out grains. As I've written, grains bind nutrients so that they are not able to be absorbed to their full potential. So it doesn't matter how healthy you eat - the grains rob you of the nutrients. Remove the grains and suddenly the body can absorb all the good stuff you've subbed in place. 
  • Overall, eating Paleo/Primal is now second nature. It is not the tremendous task it once was when we started. I don't even think about cooking with or including grains when I plan our weekly menu. Skipping the middle of the grocery store (minus the oils and olives) has become a welcomed routine. I've got a stash of fantastic recipes we rotate - rarely do we eat the same meal more than 2x a month. Even breakfasts - the trickiest meals in my opinion - are ever changing and yummy. 
  • Breakfast has taken on a whole new role in our family. We now sit down as a family and eat a hot breakfast every morning. Even with 4 kids to get ready and a husband rushing to work. It's not a long, lingering breakfast, but we manage to do it. What a nice way to start the day.
  • School lunches for the older two have been tricky. At first I was worried if I was packing enough for them. Then I was worried about if it was too much (I hate wasting food and a lot was coming home uneaten). Then I was worried about coming up with fun grain-free snacks (they both bring snacks). Then I was worried about variety and boredom. It's been trial and error, but we're figuring it out. I bought them bento boxes, rubber maids with screw on lids (for "wet" foods - the screw top is easy for them to open and guaranteed to not leak), and steel hot lunch containers for when they want to take hot leftovers. There are no school made lunches or snacks that are gluten free, let alone grain-free (USDA regulated - have to be heavy on the grains). My oldest has said there is a salad bar she could go to at her middle school, but she will have to be wary of hidden grains.
  • Speaking of hidden grains, I continue to discover hidden places grains and gluten hide and it's been eye-opening. I've talked about beer containing gluten, but so do a host of other everyday products. One of the places I was surprised to see it was soy sauce. Who knew? Most soy sauce is actually made from WHEAT. True story. Check your label. Tamari is a soy sauce actually made from SOY and is gluten free. It costs the same and can be found right next to the soy sauce - even in my rinky dink mainstream-as-can-be grocery store. Now of course, soy is not Paleo or Primal. There is a product called Coconut Aminos that is a soy sauce substitute. It is a little pricier, but I'm looking forward to trying it! Another place - fries. We love sweet potato fries, but when I'm short on time, I like to use pre-packaged ones. However, most are fried in vegetable oils AND coated in wheat. Just keep reading those packages!
  • I've been incorporating new spices into our meals. Loving turmeric right now.  And it's such a powerhouse of a spice health wise. Another fun find: smoked paprika. It really enhances dishes like you wouldn't expect. I found it in the ole' local grocery store. Fantastic way to tweak boring recipes.
  • Supplements: I'm not a vitamin girl. I feel like human beings eating clean can survive just fine without massive doses of chemically created supplements. But, I've started the entire clan on Vitamin D3. Jon and I are on 2000mg and the kids are on 800mg. It's so important to me. Here's the first article I read on the subject that prompted me to start researching studies. I feel really confident in this supplement. I've also started us all on fish oil. Other than that, we're not taking any other supplements.
  • I took a Thai cooking class in the hope of learning some fun grain-free Asian inspired recipes.  I definitely learned a lot and will post them later, but some had to be tweaked to cut out the grains. Most commercially available asian products (hoisin sauce, chili sauce, etc.) do contain wheat. Be careful. A trip to an Asian market may help you find non-wheat products. Or you can make your own. It's like paint. You can buy a pre-made color or you can mix your own with the basics and get the exact shade you are after.
  • My dad and his girlfriend came out to visit for a few days. I planned all Paleo meals. They were completely taken back by how delicious and filling Paleo cooking is and how great they felt after they ate - stuffed and happy, but not that glazed-over-I-need-a-nap type feeling. They were so impressed, they have both jumped 100% on the Paleo bandwagon and bought 3 books (Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint series) and all the pantry staples they needed the day they flew home. I actually flew out a few days later for a funeral and stayed with my Dad one night. He and his girlfriend cooked AMAZING Paleo foods: proscutto wrapped asparagus, goat cheese stuffed dates, homemade guacamole, spaghetti squash with bison ragu, macaroons, and in the morning, the best veggie omelets I've ever had. Ever. I'm so excited for them and can't wait to hear how they feel in the coming weeks.
  • Just ordered a new cookbook: Paleo Comfort Foods. Will review once it arrives!
  • Check your tea kettle. I needed to replace our kettle because, despite my constant cleaning, it was getting really mucky inside. It was supposed to be a decent one. As I started shopping and read reviews, I discovered there are a lot of folks unhappy with even super pricey kettles. The reasons are that metal and ceramic pots are really hard to keep clean, paint and chemicals were leaching, and almost all are made in China. I've opted for a glass kettle this time. It cost me $10.60 on Amazon. It's not as attractive as some kettles out there are, but health wise, there is no safer way to boil water and get a clean tasting cup of tea.
  • Finally, we recently dabbled into the realm of "gluten-free" as opposed to strictly grain-free. We found a restaurant with a substantial gluten-free menu. Plus, I wanted to experiment on how we felt after these foods. Will post on this experience shortly.
One thing I wanted to talk about on here is the verbiage I've been using: Paleo vs. Primal. There is a lot of confusion over the "correct" definition of Paleo. Every website or book you read will have their own little twist on it. Then there is the term Primal - which is along the same lines as Paleo, but not exactly the same. So what is what?

From now on, I will refer to our eating style as P/P - Paleo/Primal. We started out strict Paleo, but have slowly gravitated towards Primal. My reason for this is that we do eat some forms of dairy (yogurts, cream, and aged cheese) which is not Paleo but I feel enhances the foods we eat and our overall health. We do not suffer any side effects from this moderate amount of dairy and it works for us.  We will eat beans on occasion - mostly just in the form of hummus now and again, the girls' legitimate obsession with freeze-dried peas (technically a bean), or peanut dipping sauce (not a nut - a legume). Beans are not Paleo, but are allowed on occasion with Primal (link as to why here). We also will eat potatoes once in a while. These are also not strict Paleo (although sweet potatoes are Paleo). We drink coffee regularly. This is only a "treat" when it comes to Paleo. Finally, we will splurge on white rice every once in a while - either actual rice or a product made from it (like rice noodles for Pad Thai). Primal says this is okay for a treat. Paleo says never.

So technically, we fit the Primal definition a bit better than the strict Paleo. Though most of the recipes I make everyday are Paleo. What we absolutely do our best to avoid:
  • wheat and its cousins: grains and grain flours
  • processed, pre-packaged foods (we aim for only 1 ingredient in the food we buy. Some foods, such as hummus or chicken sausage,  have up to 5 or 6 , but I can pronounce them all and tell you what they are)
  • preservatives and nitrates/trites
  • industrialized seed oils (canola, etc.)
  • soy (minus the tamari bit)
These foods are on the no-no list for both Paleo and Primal.
So there ya have it. A quick update and a bit of an evolution in where we're at Paleo/Primal wise. Hope to post some more tidbits I've picked up the last month I've been away shortly. Until then, eat healthy and smile! :)