Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I've reached my limit! @)#*(&$%@#

This is going to be really ugly and I may partially regret the bluntness that's about to happen here. So please excuse the mother bear claws now pounding on my keyboard. But I've had enough and need to get it out. First let me explain: I don't post on this blog much anymore because I feel like since we started our paleo/primal journey over 2 years ago (and still going strong!), that arena has exploded with bloggers who have much more time to devote to it and provide wonderful resources, etc. to those who are looking for them. Why just be another voice saying the same thing when I've got a lot of other stuff on my plate?

But if there is one area of healthy living that has me itching to write (and scream from the rooftops), it's our children and their health and the poison being shoved down their throats by schools, sports teams, etc. There have been a dozen times I almost came on here to write about it. Actually...I have a rather sharply worded post started last August regarding swim lessons and a party. Maybe I should post that next. But last night's events just sent me over the top.

When you have kids and live a paleo/primal lifestyle, you are in a constant battle with well-intentioned forces around them offering your children a myriad of crap food. I full out LIE on my kids' health forms for school and say they are allergic to grains, sugar, and dairy. It is the only way I can try and influence what happens at school. But even that fails. Maybe if I say it is a life-threatening allergy - like other kids' nut allergies - I'd actually get some reaction. It's pathetic that I have to resort that that.

I pack their lunches 100% of the time so I'm in charge of that meal. But it's the other things like the pizza party to celebrate the classroom who raised the most selling gift wrap or frozen cookie dough. It's the cupcakes and candy brought in by the room moms for the Halloween/Christmas/Valentines/Anyday party. (Our school does not allow food for Birthdays, but the policy ignores the frequent parties all year long). It's the pasteurized, 1% chocolate milk offered to all kindergartners for free each day (yeah...your taxes pay for that) at snack time. And let's not forget the food incentives for jobs well done. Technically, teachers are not supposed to give our students candy and treats, but they do. Almost daily. Good job on a test - here's some licorice. You worked on that lesson. Have a jolly rancher. You did your homework. You get a tootsie roll. You all battled through those standardized tests - who wants ice cream?? You showed up to school everyday. Cotton candy for you! I love teachers - I was a public school teacher myself - but this goes out to all teachers in the world: OUR KIDS ARE NOT DOGS. STOP "TRAINING" THEM WITH TREATS.

It gets even worse in middle school where kids have more freedom and vending machine lobbyists - yes...I recently learned there is such a job - keep those sugar dispensers easily accessible to willing dollar bills. Even if you were able to impart a strong enough message on your child to stay away from such crap, they're still not immune to the abundance of sugar and chemicals thrown at them. One of the worst examples: My daughter's school has a "Day Maker" program where if you are seen doing something above and beyond to help others, you get a "Hi Card" which entitles you to two pieces of candy and a Mountain Dew. Great program, but why are you rewarding our children with poisonous crap for good behavior? Again. THEY'RE NOT DOGS. And food like that is 100% compromising what you're trying to get them to do in school: focus and learn. Why oh why are these connections not being made by educated adults???!!!!

Then there are sports and clubs. This one has me fuming.  Remember when being "snack mom" meant bringing a thermos of ice water, some cups, and orange wedges to the soccer game? Yeah...not anymore. I actually did that for my first ever soccer snack sign-up years back when my oldest daughter started in youth sports and the parents and kids looked at me like I had 3 heads. I brought home an untouched bag of 20 cut up oranges and was baffled. It was the next game when I saw was proper post-game snacks are supposed to look like: bag of Doritos and a Capri Sun pouch. Oh. Got it. Reward physical activity with chemicals, petroleum based "food" products, and copious amounts of sugar. Makes perfect sense.

Since that first experience - and many, many sports seasons since - I've walked this delicate snack line carefully. From Girl Scout meetings, to play dates, to soccer/tennis/swim/baseball/gymnastics/dance/theatre/whateveractivitydujour - snack sign up has been met with trepidation on my part. 1) What the hell do I bring in that doesn't offend the other kids and their parents like apparently water and orange slices clearly do, but still is not crap? 2) Even if I manage an answer to that one, what do I do when other parents are so clueless that they hand out crappy non-food to my kids who will inevitably be disappointed when they have to refuse the offering.

Two days ago, I sent my middle two kids to Summer Rec at the park - 3 hours of games and fun with a healthy snack provided. I packed organic apples and water for them just in case. They ate their apples. AND the bag of flippin' cheetos provided as their "healthy" snack. Are you kidding me? I could have screamed at the counselors. When I went to sign them out, a counselor asked me to sign-up for a snack. Sure. Happy to do so. But it wasn't a snack day where I was in charge - they had preplanned the "healthy" snacks for the summer and my choices were licorice, oreos, pretzels, or chips. "Two bags of your item is requested."  Livid doesn't begin to describe it.

But last night. Last night's end of soccer game snack sent me over and resulted in this diatribe you're reading now. At the end of my son's soccer game he was given a bag of Nilla Wafers and TWO Kool Aid "Bursts". Want to know what's in these items? Click here or here or here or just google it yourself. NOT ONE INGREDIENT I WANT IN MY KIDS' BODIES. Nor should you want it in your kids' bodies either. What were these parents thinking? Did it not occur to them? Do they not get it? Or, what I suspect, they are lemmings blindly following the increasingly successful and adaptable food marketers calling out to them from the TV and the grocery store shelves. And for this reason alone, other adults should not be making food decisions for other people's kids.

HERE'S THE THING....We're not perfect. We eat approved-by-me treats now and again for sure. We're not purists 24/7. I am constantly and carefully balancing the uptmost importance of clean eating with living in a modern, mainstream world. It's such a hard battle. It's a daily battle. And I work freakin' hard at the battle. So it angers me to no end when others come in to my kids' lives and muck my hard work up with poor food decisions - intentional or not on a very regular basis. I am in charge. I am the parent. I decide what my kids eat and when. Not schools. Not camps. Not sports. Me.

My kids - more than any other children I know - are well versed in proper and smart health choices and the science behind it. It's a constant topic of conversation. But they're kids and observant as hell. They notice differences between the food choices we make and their friends, neighbors, and peers. And they question it constantly...that overwhelming biologically based need kids have to be normal and fit in. And our diets don't fit in. Our paleo/primal choices completely clash with SAD (Standard American Diet). So when a trusted adult offers them a pouch of sugar, they're not going to refuse. This is due to a mixture of respect and trust of adults coupled with the desire to do what everyone else is doing mixed in with the addictive pull of sugar, chemicals, and preservatives.

Statistically speaking, my kids and your kids, have a lifetime risk of diabetes of 1 in 3. That's insanity. Thirty percent of the people around them - at their current young age - are severely obese. Who knows what that number will be in 10 years. One in 8 of their peers have a severe food allergy! They are growing up in a society that is more advanced than ever, yet insanely enough, also sicker than ever. We are so focused on helping adults with their health problems, but how often do we ever examine where it started? I want to scream STOP. STOP. STOP. Back it up. Look earlier. Look to the classroom treats. Look to the seemingly harmless "all American" bake sales. Look to the "cute and innocuous" arsenic...err...juice boxes. Look to the soccer moms innocently offering up Gatorade and granola bars. THIS IS WHERE IT STARTS.

I'm not blind enough to believe other people's food choices don't affect me. I may not be eating what they're eating, but it certainly does affect me. But that's a huge other post. Right now, today, my top priority is raising the healthiest children possible. And I'm being sabotaged. Daily. I'm being sabotaged daily by other parents, trusted teachers, and respected coaches - all of whom I am thankful for being involved in my kids' lives. But I am making this plea: your job is to help care for, teach, coach, and guide my children in a given circumstance. But they're health and food they consume? That's my domain. Please. Hands off.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Welcome 2013!

Hey all! It's been a long while since my last post. Except for a few posts in 2012, I put the blog on hold last year mostly due to time constraints. But I also felt I was constantly writing to try and change people's thinking about food. I was essentially selling something from which I made zero profit, but gained a lot of frustration.  I'll admit the negative feedback from friends and some family about our choice to eat primal/paleo took a toll on me.  It didn't alter our health decisions, but it did erode my desire to be so public about it.

But lately I've been inspired by people I know making strides in the right direction when it comes to their health. I met a family in our neighborhood whose daughter is Paleo without knowing it due to her food allergies. It was awesome because I FINALLY found someone in real life that is sending their Paleo kid to our public school and facing the same struggles we do.

I've seen a lot of Facebook friends post things about Paleo, Whole30, Crossfit, and Primal eating in the past few months who didn't do so before. That's awesome! I have had friends message me asking Paleo questions and if I still wrote this blog. What a confidence booster it is for me to see people come around, start to question CW (conventional wisdom) about SAD (Standard American Diets), and begin to make changes to better their health and the health of their families!

As for us, we're doing great.  We've been Paleo/Primal for 1.5 years now without fail. Sometimes we lean a bit more Primal than Paleo due to busy schedules, etc., but I'm a-okay with that.  Kids are thriving, fit, and strong. Jon and I continue to feel great. Health wise, everything is going really well.   We've found the bodies we were meant to have and continue to see how our physical health permeates every other aspect of our lives - mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually by feeling connected and grounded.

Winter is a tough time up here in the tundra to get outside and be active. If we have an area of improvement to make, that's it. We know it and now that the busy holidays are over, we're ready to attack it. I recently bought an Indo Board to do some indoor balance training. It's a lot of fun, though I'm far from graceful and have a long way to go!

Anyway, I wanted to jump start the blog again to share things I find and learn on our continuing health journey.  Tips, tricks, frustrations, struggles, recipes etc. will be the goal. I hope you will find it useful as well as help educate me on your findings about eating and living a real food lifestyle.

To start:

For me, one of the biggest challenges when I started P/P (Paleo/Primal) was where to shop, what to buy, and how to afford it! It's not easy, so I'll share little gems I find now and again. Like this one: Costco Turkey.

Costco turkey breast - conventional meat, but decent alternative for the budget conscious.
Cage-free, bug and grub eating turkey that spent its life pecking out in nature is best. I know. But it is expensive as heck and hard to find/afford in the quantities needed to feed my family of six. At this point, half of our meat is grass-fed, free range, etc. But I'm still 1/2 conventional due to budget constraints.  I hope to get to 100%, but this is what I can do at this point.

So for conventional meat, this is a good find. I usually spend $8.99+/lb. for sugar free, nitrate/trite free, preservative free deli meat and buy several pounds a week to put into our PlanetBox lunches. This turkey is just $3.99/lb and meets all of the above criteria. It isn't processed at all. It is genuine turkey breast that slices just like the kind you make on Thanksgiving. The catch is you buy it in 2.5+ lb. cuts and have to slice it yourself. Since we don't put it on sandwiches, no one cares if it is cut thick. I cut it into cubes or strips and throw it on salads or mix with different veggies/fruit for a turkey salad. It keeps well and is tasty. Anyway, I wish it weren't conventional turkey, but was excited about this find as a way to ease the food budget.

Slices like actual turkey - not processed deli turkey.

My perfect lunch - loads of diced turkey with avocado (yummy fat) on a salad and drizzled with California Olive Oil.

Till next time!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Popping out of blogger retirement to share awesome news.

"Do you take fish oil?"




"Are you a vegetarian?"

(Chuckle) "Definitely not."

"Well what do you eat to get numbers like these?"


This is the conversation I had with a Dr. this morning.

I’m coming out of blogger retirement with an interesting post. I’ve written in the past how I’ve turned to science – not food marketers or government agencies – to determine what to eat for optimal health. With all the adversity, raised eyebrows, and snide remarks that we’ve faced since going paleo/primal 13 months ago, relying on science has been my rock. I have the studies. I have others' reviews. I have Jon’s blood lipid panels. And I have my own personal observations on how we feel and how everyone is thriving.  But now I finally have my own science that primal works. 

The above conversation took place at a health screening I had to get a slight discount on our health insurance premiums. Prior to going, I was extremely curious about what my numbers would be since getting off grains (the stuff that conventional wisdom tells you is supposed to help your cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) and increasing my meat and fat intake (the stuff conventional wisdom tells you is supposed to hurt your cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) Here are the results:

Total cholesterol: 169
HDL: 78
LDL: 59!
Triglycerides: <50!
BP: 92/64
Fasting glucose: 75
BMI: 18.9
Body Fat: 15.4%

 Holy smokes. Even I didn't think they'd be that good.

These numbers kinda kick conventional wisdom in the teeth. I mean, I put butter on my steak for heaven's sake. I haven’t had a single whole grain serving in over a year. I eat bacon and eggs multiple times a week. I don’t count calories. I don’t restrict portions. I don't eat anything low or reduced fat. I put real cream in my coffee. I don’t exercise heavily – just recreationally 1-2x a week (and there is no pounding the pavemenent or merciless hours in the gym. Fun stuff only!) I do eat mountains of veggies and buckets of olive and coconut oil. I eat only white (no brown) rice on occasion. I drink wine and even gluten-free beer. I eat ice cream, too! Primal living is so simple that I put very little effort into being healthy. The only real effort I put out is fighting conventional wisdom and its idea of healthy foods.

Pre-primal, I was 18 lbs. heavier, pudgy, glazed, exhausted, and dissatisfied with muffin tops popping out of my jeans. My outside has certainly changed. Leaner for sure with more energy. And now after today's results, I have evidence my insides have changed, too. :) Because it happened to both my husband and I, I can only assume our kids’ insides are equally as healthy. On the outside they are thriving (strong, healthy, vibrant, no more belly aches, no more eczema or allergies, tapering ADD meds, etc.) My guess – their lipid panels are also awesome.

This really bolsters my determination and confidence to keep my family living this way. I’ll be the first to admit the doubt we’ve faced from friends, family, and even our pediatrician, has caused my resolve to yo-yo a bit over the year. Plus facing the new school year in a few weeks, and all the junk food eating that goes with attending a public school (that's another post), is stressing me out already. It’s a battle to keep my kids primal in that atmosphere, but now…I’m more determined than ever.

Someone recently told me he doesn't eat meat and eats only whole grains for health reasons. I eat meat and avoid grains for health reasons. And I now I have more than my anecdotal observations about how healthy I feel to back up my claim.  I have my own science. 

It feels great.

Our four little primals.

My favorite form of exercise - Stand Up Paddleboarding. Can't get enough of it. This was taken by my husband in my first SUP race. Core & arms getting stronger - meanwhile I'm just having a blast!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Very Personal Reflection

There have been a lot of transformations going on in our household. I'm not sure where this blog fits into them. You could say I've been neglectful of the blog. My published posts are infrequent at best. But I feel I'm at a place of transition and I'm not sure what role I want a blog to play quite yet. Here's a recap:

Initially, this blog was started to document our challenges as we experimented with a Paleo diet. But we're closing in on 8 months of Paleo...clearly we fully embrace it with no chance of reverting. It's just such a lovely, vibrant way of nourishment.

BUT, we have some Paleo evolving to do. We're not perfect. Lately I've been researching raw foods and figuring out ways how we can merge Paleo and raw a bit better. I really think raw is overlooked as super kooky and crunchy - at least that's how I used to look at it. But as I've fully immersed myself in Paleo, I'm learning even Paleo - as phenomenal as it is - has flaws. Though these flaws are based out of sound thinking. I'm sure this makes no sense to you, but I see some more evolution into even better nutrition for this family and incorporating more raw will play an important part of it.

Also in this health category is our use of mainstream personal hygiene products. Inspired by a little health scare, I've ditched everything mainstream from anti-perspirant to soap over the last few weeks. If I'm focusing so much on what we put in our bodies, I'd be foolish to not pay attention to toxins we put on our bodies. I've been very conscious about that with my babies and kids, but not so much for the grown-ups. And since the hygiene industry is not regulated, this topic may be of even greater concern than food.

Another evolution I see us going through in 2012: getting stronger. And by us I mostly mean me. I don't have weight to lose, but I am not strong. It's time to change that.  I have been tinkering with doing the CrossFit challenge (Paleo and CrossFit are incredibly intertwined). I hate gyms and am I'm extremely attracted to CrossFit's shunning of pounding the treadmill/stair climber/every other machine for hours on end. The CrossFit theory says these are pointless forms of activity. Like Paleo, CrossFit looks to our world pre-modernization for inspiration on how to stay fit. Our ancestors didn't have to "hit the gym" everyday to stay fit. They just lived. They played. They walked. They jumped. They lifted heavy things sometimes. They were outside. To quote "Wheatbelly" - my favorite non-fiction book of the moment - our grandmothers didn't begrudgingly get on the elliptical everyday maintain their trim figures. They vacuumed their stairs (oh, and ate clean food.)

So I'm going to focus on play more. Thankfully I've got a lot of kids that like to do just that. Hiking, jumping, biking, swimming, dancing like a fool with the kids after dinner....and of course paddle boarding once our lakes lose their ice. I'm also going to restart my Pilates obsession that fizzled after baby #3. I used to really enjoy it and found I gained tremendous core strength from it. I also found it was a great way to focus mentally.

Another evolution - taking care of our environment. The Earth gives us everything. We abuse her in return. So our focus will be on: Consuming less. Consuming thoughtfully. Reusing and recycling more. Buying in bulk with my own containers. Reducing our trash output. These are all my goals. Vegetable gardening used to be a part time hobby for me. If it grew, great. If not, oh well. But I'm going to elevate it into more of a priority and become better educated about native plants, soil, and our impact. I'm taking a few classes this Spring and hope to learn more.

We've also been working hard on eliminating the plastic exposure and disposable products in our lives. We've made some great improvements, but there is certainly a lot room to grow on this one. (I'm a paper-towel-a-holic.)

My greenness evolution also means curbing shopping. I've got a family of 6 on 1 income...for me, shopping has always been done thoughtfully with coupons in hand (I actually own and operate a coupon binder.) But I want to evolve even more. That means those Target trips for shoelaces and chapstick that turn into $80 free-for-alls are a thing of the past. If you get down to it, we need very little in this world. Sure pretty things bring us pleasure and shopping is so much fun. But lately it's been getting me depressed and feeling guilty. And if I think about it, I find my most treasured possessions are items I've picked up at thrift stores, yard sales, or that have been lovingly handed down or handmade by friends and family. So curbing the shopping and consuming is a big one for me as part of my evolution. Filling that need for "new" things by reusing and recreating (with Pinterest inspiration!) will be a priority. Spending time with my family doing these activities....even better!

Finally, our last family and personal evolution is of a spiritual nature. Jon and I were both raised in churches - I even went to a Catholic high school. But for us, it's not about declaring a defined religion and reciting repeated prayers. It's about finding spirituality within and practicing it in life with mindful reflection, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and kindness. We are very attracted to the principles of Buddism and feel like that it compliments the core of most Western religions nicely. Like most of the world's religions, at the core, they're the same. We want to focus on this core and be better people, partners, and parents. We aim to get there through meditation, reflection, and focusing on the simple goodness in life.

So where does Crispy Living fit in? Not sure. Do you know I've got 22 posts written that I've never posted? True story. 22. A lot of the time, I find that just writing things out satisfying. Actually publishing the posts doesn't seem like a necessity. Plus, there is the time trade-off. While I'd love to have a beautiful looking and functioning blog full of unique ideas and insights, that would require oodles of time. I don't know how these seemingly perfect moms do it all. Reading their blogs makes me feel inadequate at times. For me, to get to that stage I'd have to trade in some serious time with my kids and I'm not super willing to do that right now.  I could work on this during the evenings, but that is husband and personal time sacrificed. I've got to investigate where that balance is...if it exists for me at all at the moment.

So there you have it. Not sure what the next step is out here on the world wide web. Maybe I'll get inspired to post more about our evolution and perhaps provide some information or inspiration for others. Then again, maybe this post is my last one for a good long while. I'm going to do a very un-Kim like thing and relax my personal high standards on this topic. Whatever it is, it is. :) :)

Thanks for taking the time to read. I really do appreciate it.
Be well. Be happy. Eat clean!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's The Season of Losing
January 1st is America's unofficial kick in the ass to get healthy. This time of year, you can't walk into a store without dodging weightloss system displays and precarious towers of health supplement bottles. Gyms are offering discounts on registration fees and clothing stores are pushing their workout gear. If you're a coupon cutter like I am, you noticed Sunday's circulars were all "healthy" food related. In Costco today, there were 9 pallets - each stacked 5 feet high with vitamins - when you walked in the door. NINE. PALLETS. Good lord.

I guess it seems natural for our country's "Get in Shape" quasi-holiday to hit this time of year. The new year is about a fresh start. Many just spent the last month indulging in everything from sweets to shopping and the decadence and exorbitance of the holidays needs to be shed. Plus, it's 5 short months until bathing suit season...yikes. But whatever it is, the "Season of Giving" is quickly followed by the "Season of Losing"....weight that is.

It occurred to me that during the holidays, you hear the chime, "Don't forget the reason for the season!" implying that the hype and commercialism we are bombarded with during Christmas overshadows the religious and spiritual roots of holidays. It's true. It does.

Well I think the same thing happens in the Season of Losing - hype and commercialism distracting us from true health. Perhaps it also deserves it's own clever little slap-of-reality saying about the time of year we celebrate getting healthy: BACK AWAY FROM THE WEIGHTLOSS SYSTEMS AND PREPACKAGED CRAP. IT WON'T WORK. JUST EAT CLEAN FOOD.

Of course I wish it rhymed a little better.

Now I don't want to sound like a cranky, Paleo diehard. That's not me. Plus, I don't think the web could handle another one. But I can't help but be fearful for folks out there feeling vulnerable about their health, guilty for decisions they've made in the past, and anxious to make a change in their lives. The Season of Losing is fraught with gimmicks and false promises...not to mention chemicals, artificial crap, and just plain nonsense. What shocks me are the blind drones of overweight, unhappy people who buy into and buy the actual crud dished out at them. Then they inevitably fail, become more unhealthy, feel depressed, and are loaded with guilt that they couldn't hack XYZ diet. Shame on American marketing. And shame on shoddy American media.


Did you read that Jenny Craig was voted the 2nd "easiest" diet by US News and World Report? I almost fell on the floor after reading that. Even my 4 year-old would be able to tell you it's pre-packaged, additive laden, highly processed, sugar filled, hydrogenated oil laced, ARTIFICAL ingredient crap with a shiny slogan ("This is my Jenny"....wth does that even mean?) Weight watchers, Nutrisystem, etc. etc. - they're all the same. Why don't people see that they are being sold stuff that is harming their health under the guise of helping their health? And they're paying massive amounts of money for it.

Then there's the mega hype over the DASH diet. Have you read the splash about dash? I'll sum it up for you: DASH diet equals eat the USDA's food pyramid/plate. Supposedly the one influenced the other. But now there are shiny new DASH books to buy, halfway read, and decorate the diet book shelf. While DASH is better than any weight loss "system" for sure, because you are supposed to eat, you know, actual food, it still will end up a failure. Why? Because the USDA has always recommended we eat low-fat, grain-based diets and we're fatter and unhealthier than ever. And we're medicating and dying from totally preventable diseases and record pace. This isn't rhetoric. It's fact.

The diet that made the bottom of the list? Paleo. Not a shocker. It did last year as well. But if US News & World is going to give Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc. an A++, I'll gladly accept an F from them on my lifestyle of choice. In fact, if they gave it a higher grade, I would consider it a warning to reconsider Paleo.

There are the five reasons I think Paleo got a poor grade:

1. It is sorely misunderstood. I'm the pickiest, slowest-to-make-a-decision person out there. (Remember my admission that I didn't buy an ipod for 9 years because I wasn't sure they were here to stay?) So for me to have chosen a way of nourishing myself and my family and so fully embraced it, you can be assured I've evaluated the hell out of it. The problem is that most people don't. The main tenant of Paleo - no grains - is initially so absolutely shocking to most people (including myself), their objectivity to understand why we should forego the foods we grew up on and are told everyday is healthy is tainted.

2. It doesn't conform to current recommended dietary guidelines because of the no grain thing. Thank goodness. As is clearly evident by the state of our nation's health, the government's dietary guidelines (you know, the ones that say pizza is a vegetable) suck. If conforming to outdated, incorrect dietary rules influenced by Corn Kings and Monsanto is a requirement for ranking, Paleo is screwed. Oh well.

3. The panelists clearly are still under the well disproved notion that fat and meat consumption increases the risk of pulmonary diseases and ailments. Never mind that before processed grains, such diseases were rare indeed. I won't even get started on this one.

4. These panelists are only aware of half truths. They say we miss nutrients by not eating whole grains. Well it is true - whole grains do have nutrients. But what they fail to mention is that humans cannot absorb them because the proteins in grains bind the nutrients and we don't digest them. So while whole grains may have nutrients while sitting on your plate, they don't end up enhancing your health because they pass right through....I'll let you figure out where.

5. Paleo is not slacker friendly. Paleo is simple - couldn't be simpler actually: veggies, fruits, meats, and healthy fats. But it lacks the ease of picking up a cereal bar or a can of bright pink, milky, fake strawberry flavored stuff and calling it a "meal." And as we are a nation of cutting corners, US News essentially placed convenience above legitimate nutrition to determine its rankings.  Makes sense.

6. You can't really make a lot of money off of it. You can buy Paleo cookbooks. You can take Paleo seminars. But as far as money makers go, that's about it. Paleo is about eating fresh, real food all the time. Because there is no artificial, mass produced foods associated with this diet, there is no way of creating a cheap product and selling it for a mint. Lots of advertising revenue for would be lost if the world ate Paleo. And what would Mariah Carey do for endorsement money? But you know who would benefit if we all ate Paleo? Local farmers and mother Earth. Eat Paleo and discover phenomenol health, bolster your local economy, and create sustainable agriculture for a healthy environment. Win, win, win.

The report did document that:
  • People felt fuller and consumed fewer calories than the Mediterranean diet. (Though you need not fear calorie count on Paleo. It's the kind of calorie, not the quantity of calorie that brings health!)
  • It inadvertently admitted that you DON'T NEED GRAINS FOR ADEQUATE FIBER - one of the first objections people have to Paleo ("No grains? GASP! How do you get your fiber?") The report confirms that with the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed on Paleo, you'll more than exceed your fiber requirements. What it doesn't say, but should, is that the type of fiber you'll consume on Paleo is actually what our bodies were designed to digest - not the knick your intestines on the way down whole grain stuff.  The report should have mentioned that every grain-based diet it ranked risks Leaky Gut Syndrome - the root of all evils. Fix your gut. Get off the meds. Voila!
  • It also admitted that some Paleo studies have proven to lower blood pressure, LDLs, and triglycerides, but then quickly took back that recognition with their oh so vague line, "And all that fat would worry experts," which is linked to another US News generic page on health conditions. No experts. No reference to studies or anything specific. True, my journalism degree is a bit dusty, but even I recognized that's just crappy writing and reporting.  If you're going to make a claim about worried experts and deflate a phenomenal diet's rating because of it, ya better back it up.
Unfortunately, I think there will be lots of losing in this Season of Losing weight: many committed people losing out on truth and the opportunity for real health. And that just burns me. Forget accurate, this report is not fair to Americans - Americans who for too long have been told and sold lies when it comes to their health and food they think is healthy. I wish luck to the many people eager to improve their health, get off their medications, prevent diseases, and add years to their lives. I hope somehow, Paleo ends up on their radar in a positive light.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

BPA-free(ish)? A look at lunch boxes.

I recently read an article that indicated BPA-free isn't all it's cracked up to be. Turns out, BPA-free plastics do still leach system altering chemicals into the food they touch. I did further research and while I readily admit the science is above me, the message is clear: there really isn't a safe plastic. (This article is a good starting place if you want to find out more.) I began to feel foolish for paying so much attention to the food we eat and consume, but neglecting to focus on how it is served and stored.

I shared what I had dug up with Jon and he didn't hesitate to agree that we need to ditch the plastic. The frustrating part is that I already did this a few years ago when the whole BPA thing was front page news. I tossed all of our expensive, but seemingly BPA containing water bottles, oodles of tupperware, etc in favor of BPA-free. But now that I'm learning that BPA-free does not equal safe, I'm doing it again. From how I store my frozen food (no more contact with ziplocs) to how we brew our coffee (no more plastic coffee maker), slowly but surely we trying to reduce the plastic exposure we can control.

I'm super excited about what came in the mail recently: new lunch boxes for the kids! They are from Planetbox - 100% stainless steel and totally legit. I actually looked at these over the summer, but did not get them because of the price. They're not cheap. Instead I opted for plastic bento boxes for my oldest two to take their lunch to school (no gluten-free school lunch options so we pack everyday.) I'm slightly miffed I didn't just buy these in the first place, but live and learn. I'll give you the ins and outs of Planetbox in case you're thinking of going plastic-free with your lunch ware.  As a lady who has made a lot of school lunches over the years, I'm going to have to say I feel qualified in saying these are the best. Here's why:

  • 18/8 high quality stainless steel. Besides glass, which *probably* isn't the smartest idea for a school lunch, not much else is safer and kid-friendly than these boxes. They're built tough.
  • Perfect portions. The tray is cut out so well for portions - the possibilities are endless. They hold a lot of food. Plus, I actually look forward to coming up with ideas on how to fill them every morning. It just doesn't seem like such a chore. Even the kids are getting in on it by coming up with ideas and filling them up. A lunchbox that promotes self-sufficiency? Brilliant.
  • Cool compartments. I know there are some people who enjoy making artwork out of kids' lunches. I'm not one of them. I'm more interested in the content of the lunch than if it looks like creepy pandas. These boxes are definitely utilitarian and I love it. The Planetbox design keeps all food separate - which many kids prefer. The lid is also raised - not flat like most bentos - so you can pile the goodies high and it will close.
  • Built in latch. Many bentos have velcro straps or you have to use rubber bands to keep them closed. Not so with this sucker which has a fun, kid-friendly latch. I feel totally safe with my 2nd grader tossing this thing all over the place during the day and it not popping open. Love it. (And in case you were wondering, rubber bands are frowned upon in the lunchroom. Certain attendants are not too happy with a certain mom who put rubber bands on her kids' bentos and now they treat said kids with unwarranted rubber band suspicion. Fact.)
  • Two "Dippers" - These little bowls fit perfectly in the box OR in the pocket on the outside of the bag. They have a removable silicone seal giving it a tight fit. They are perfect for "wet" foods like yogurt, dips, nut butters, fruits, applesauce, etc. Or you can use them for dry foods, too. They're easy for little hands to open - no screwing. They're not meant for liquids, but we have yet to have anything we've tried leak.
  • Easy eating. My son has like 20 minutes to eat. Subtract talking time and it is like 4.5 minutes. He likes that he can pop open the tray and everything is ready to go - no need to have to open multiple containers, etc. When he's done, he closes it and he's off. Nothing to clean up or throw out.
  • Dishwasher safe. Please. Like that was even negotiable for me. Even the bag can be submerged in water to clean. These clean up beautifully.
  • Environmentally friendly. First of all, no more ziplocs to throw away. Also, these trays come with their own insulated carry bags made from recycled materials and are certified lead, PVC, and phthalate free. Heck - Planetbox prefers to ship USPS because it is the least harmful to the environment shipping option. Every design and production choice seems well thought out. The whole thing screams Mother Earth approved.
  • Customizable. The kids dig the magnets that come with their boxes. You can order a whole bunch of different ones - sports, rockets, princess-y, rock star, etc. 
  • Thin. They can slide into a backpack without bulking it up.
  • Fits Water Bottles. Just as long as they are about 3 inches in diameter.   
  • Easy to make ahead. Because the food stays separate, these boxes are easy to pack ahead of time and stick in the fridge while keeping the food fresh. Putting in the fridge also tends to keep the food colder because metal holds the cold better than plastic does.
  • Awesome warranty. The bag warranty is only a year. I get that as no lunch bag is kid-proof. But the box itself has a warranty of FIVE years. That's fantastic. It makes the initial hit to the wallet a lot less painful knowing buying a Planetbox is WAY cheaper than buying a new lunch box every year plus all of the baggies, pre-packaged food, etc. No doubt this will save us money.

  • Planetbox with 2 "Dippers"
    Planetbox with "Dippers" inside.
    Lunch for my 11 year-old: Turkey breast, salad fixings, cheese, dressing (in the small dipper), and a few chocolate chips for a treat. :) Everything stayed separate and fresh until she was ready to eat.
What don't I like? I was a bit surprised by the weight. But oddly enough, metal weighs more than plastic. Go figure. Seriously, though. They're not that heavy...just not feather light like a plastic rubbermaid. Also, my kids' bags are slightly different in material and handle. It doesn't bother me, but I thought it odd since they came from the same place at the same time. We ordered navy and teal so perhaps color has to do with it. Both bags have a pocket for water bottle and velcro pocket on the outside. On the inside is a mesh pocket - perfect for slipping in an ice pack.

So how much? The box itself is $34.95. You can buy the dippers, the bag, extra magnets, etc. individually or buy the whole system as a bundle. The bundle saved a bundle so that's what I did. It ended up being $59.95 for the box, the bag, a set of magnets, and two dippers (big and small). Yeah. I know. It sounded like a lot to me, too. And that's why I passed on buying them this summer and opted for the chemical-leaching, non-closing, food-mushing bento. But I should have just done this in the first place. They're cheaper in the long run and, more importantly, much safer. (*Note: if you decide to use your own bag, just make sure you match up its measurements to the Planetbox. I would recommend just getting their bag. They are really a great value and are a perfect match for the box. I'm quite pleased.)

Where to buy? You have two choices: or Pottery Barn They're the same price. PBK has no shipping on these, but you'll pay tax if you have a store in your state. Also, the color and magnet selection is limited to two choices: navy with rockets or pink with unicorns. I ordered from Planetbox and while I paid shipping, it was just about the same as tax would have been and I had more customizing options. They came in just three days. Nice!
Jungle magnets on Planetbox with navy bag

Jungle magnets on Planetbox - latch opened.

Paisley magnets Planetbox - latch closed.

Teal Planetbox bag. Holds standard water bottles (plastic or stainless steel like Klean Kanteen). Velcro pocket holds napkins, utensils or even a "Dipper" with a snack.

Check out Planetbox for more pictures and lunch ideas. They have lots on their Facebook page as well.

That's it for today. I will post shortly on our new non-plastic coffee brewing station that is on its way from Amazon. Until then, eat clean and be well!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Triglycerides and Muffins

Hey all! I posted a little while back about Jon's blood lipid results and how much they've improved from August 2010 to August 2011. Well I'm back with more news. He recently had a biophysical profile done for our health insurance (We save $$ the healthier we are. Great concept!) We just got those results back and I wanted to share. Here are the results of his blood panels drawn on 8/10, 8/11, and 10/11 respectively:

Cholesterol: 188, 183, 176
Triglycerides: 203, 145, 73!!! (blood fat that my indicate risk for heart disease. 0-149 is normal)
HDL: 45, 45, 50 - (this is the "good" cholesterol you want to go up)
LDL: 121, 109, 108 (the lower the better)
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 4.2, 4.1, 3.5 (the lower it is, the lower the risk for heart disease)

In addition, his weight and BMI have plummeted.  The only lifestyle change in this time period is that four months ago, we stopped eating grains, legumes, soy and vegetable oils.  It really makes you pause and think. We're bombarded by media and commericials shouting: "Whole Grains Lower Your Risk for Heart Disease" and "Whole Grains Lower Cholesterol! Eat your Cheerios!" and "Whole Grain Pasta is Best!" as well as "Eat Less Meat!"  Well we ate a heck of a lot of whole grains before this diet. I mean a TON of whole grains - probably 60-75% of our diets were so-called "healthy" grains. We also didn't eat too much meat. But we remove grains and replace them with truck loads of lots of produce, more meats (even non-lean meats), nuts, and oils and in turn see cold, hard numbers that more than suggest that the "healthy" whole grains weren't making us healthy.

I know, I know. This goes against everything we've ever been told. But I ask, who told us? The cereal box in aisle 6? The TV commerical with the paid actors who look oh so happy? The USDA - which continually allows "acceptable levels" of poisons into our food supply? It's a really important question to ask.

The tons of research I've done - and reported on this blog - was enough for me to switch my family's food choices completely. But these continued good blood test and BP results give me the extra umph to keep on going - not only for him, but for all of us. Even if you don't have elevated lipids, BP, etc., how can you argue that eating whole foods is not the absolute best way to ensure great health? As I've written, primal/paleo eating has proven to reduce the odds of coming down with multiple modern-day diseases from diabetes to cancer and everything in between. Now we're seeing undeniable medical evidence in our own home that it does in fact improve health. It makes me excited for all of the healthy changes we can't test for, but are occurring within each one of our cells every single day. 

I'll finish today's post with a fun fall recipe: Primal Pumpkin Muffins. They're quick, easy, and make the house smell great. The recipe below makes enough for us for three breakfasts. I freeze them and heat them up when needed. I serve them warm with butter along side a coconut milk smoothie for breakfast for the gang at least once a week. They're full, happy, and off to a great start for the day!

Have fun and eat clean!

PRIMAL PUMPKIN MUFFINS - Makes approx. 18 muffins

3 cups almond flour/meal (either flour or meal work)
1.5 tsp gluten free baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 15 oz. can of canned pumpkin
4 tsp almond butter 
6 large eggs
1/2 cup honey
Preheat to 350.
Mix all dry ingredients.
Mix all wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Pour into greased muffin tins.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Top with a pat of butter and enjoy! Viola!

Primal Pumpkin Muffins - perfect for a fall morning (Or afternoon. Or evening.)