Against All Grain Slow Cooker Sesame Orange Chicken.

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One of the things that I like the most about Danielle Walker of Against All Grain’s recipes is that she lives in the real world. She has a husband and a young child, so when she writes her recipes, they don’t usually involved any crazy techniques and hours of preparation. This recipe, from her book Against All Grain is super simple to make. It doesn’t involve a ton of ingredients and it cooks in the crock pot. I paired it with a side of steamed veggies here, but I bet it would be delicious over some cauliflower rice.

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The toddler eating trials

Anyone who has ever been near a toddler at feeding time knows that getting them to eat what is put in from them is not an easy task. It’s no exception in our house. We have always had luck getting her to eat fruits and vegetables (although the ones she loved yesterday might be highly offensive today), and since I couldn’t cook when we lived with the in laws, we did a lot of snacking. I’d keep the mini fridge full of fruit and veggie trays (not the most cost effective, by any means, but easy), so that when she was hungry, she had food options. I’d also usually keep some full fat cheese and some Applegate lunch meats. Clearly, not as awesome as sitting down to eat actual meals, (and we did always have something more substantial for dinner), but under the circumstances, it was the best I could do.

Sliced Cucumber

Goose with Raspberries and Banana

When we moved into our own place, I knew that getting her to eat meals (and the meals that I prepared) was going to be an adjustment. I didn’t, however, get the memo that it was going to be such an issue. In the beginning, we tried to force her to eat at least one bite of whatever I made. You would think that just one bite would be do-able, but I have never in my entire life met anyone as stubborn as this child. After a few days of this, we realized that that was not the approach that was going to get us results. If we continued down that patch, meal time was going to turn into a battle every single time, and meal time wasn’t going to be the pleasant family time that I was hoping for.

Goose with Pear

So, we changed our approach. She does need to sit at the table until everyone is done eating. That’s not negotiable, but we stopped pressuring her to eat. My husband and I do make a big deal about how good the food is while we are eating, and usually this will encourage her to eat it. If it doesn’t though, we just let it go. Maybe she’s not hungry, maybe she is just being picky, I don’t know. However, I won’t make her something different. Dinner is what I make, and that is that. We have had way more success with this method.

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting toddlers to eat? I’d love to hear what works for your family in the comments below!

Updates, updates

So, it’s been far too long. Although, in all fairness, I warned you all that it was going to be a bit before I got back to you. I didn’t want or expect it to be this long though. For that, I certainly do apologize.

In the few months that I have been MIA, there have been some big changes. The first one being that I gave birth to our second baby. I gave birth to her with no drugs. Not so much by choice, but because I missed the boat on the epidural. Buy the time they got me settled into my room, it was too late. I will be honest, it hurt, I let out a lot of curse words, but it wasn’t unbearable pain. Now that I know I can do it, I will probably just opt out of the drugs if I have any more children. So far things are going well. Going from one child to two kids under two has been an adjustment to say the least. I’ve been drinking far more coffee than I should be, but I’m hanging in there. I also must confess, in the beginning, I was also eating a fair amount of junk food, for the quick energy that the sugar was providing. Luckily, I was able to get a handle on that pretty quickly.

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         The other big news is that we moved. I had hoped that we would be able to move before the baby came, but that didn’t happen. Luckily, my in laws were nice, and tried to convince me that having a newborn in their house wasn’t an inconvenience. I could tell by their tired eyes, though, that it was, and as soon as we were able to, we made the move into our own place.

         The first thing to get unpacked was the kitchen, and once we were able to stock up on real food ingredients, there was no looking back. We’ve all been eating better, and I was able to kick that junk food habit pretty quickly. One of the first things I did was to make a giant batch of salad to keep us fueled during the moving and unpacking process. This one just has a ton of veggies, some Applegate turkey, a bit of feta cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette that I made using this recipe from Primal Palate.

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       Anyway, thank you for bearing with me while I was away. I look forward to reconnecting with you all again. Please let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or if there is anything you’d like me to talk about. Thanks

Working out While Knocked Up…..

The general consensus among doctors is that if you worked out before you got pregnant, you can keep doing whatever you were doing while you are pregnant. I’ve been completely honest about this, back in December, when I got pregnant, I was way off track. The most exercise I was doing was lifting non-Paleo cookies to my mouth and eating them. That’s not awesome for me, and certainly not awesome for the tiny human I’m growing. I’ve cleaned up my eating habits quite a bit since then. (I’m not going to lie, though, I’m human, and sometimes I eat crap that I know isn’t going to make me feel my best). Now that the snow and ice have also melted, I’ve started walking again. Now, I wasn’t doing this before I got pregnant, but my doctor gave me the green light. They don’t advise going from couch surfing all the time to crossfit or running marathons during pregnancy, but taking some walks is pretty safe. So, I try to get out as often as I can for a walk. I plop our little one in her stroller, and we go. It’s nice because she loves it just as much as I do. We’ve taken walks together since I got the okay from my doctors after having her, so she’s used to be outside and getting some fresh air. I love it, too, because not only do I feel like I’m taking care of myself, and the new baby, but I feel like I’m teaching her healthy habits from the start. wpid-img_20140414_190451236_hdr.jpg wpid-img_20140411_165344604_hdr.jpgwpid-img_20140411_165420381.jpg

All I wanted for Christmas Was…..

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All I wanted for Christmas was some more Paleo cookbooks. So many great ones came out right around the holidays, and I really just wanted to get my hands on them! I was very fortunate to get two new books and a really nice cookbook stand. (I was really excited about that, too, since the whole open the cookbook on the counter and then pile some heavy things on it to get it to stay open thing was getting old….) I had a made a wishlist that had probably a dozen or so books on it, figuring that some of the books might be more difficult to find than others and I received Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo of the Balanced Bites blog and Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong of the Nom Nom Paleo blog.

Both books are awesome. The first portion of Practical Paleo is very technical. It goes into a whole lot of medical detail, but in a completely understandable way. Actually, as I was reading the part about autoimmune disorders, a light bulb went off in my head. The bladder condition that I have, interstitial cystitis, isn’t classified as an autoimmune disorder, but when I read the description, it sounded to me like it should be. So, if IC is that similar to an autoimmune disorder, it would make perfect sense to me why making the switch to a Paleo lifestyle made such a dramatic improvement to my health. There are some foods, such as dairy, nuts, seeds and eggs that are not recommended for people with autoimmune disorders that I am still consuming. I haven’t noticed any problems with these foods, but I also haven’t eliminated them.(In all fairness, I didn’t think that grains were a problem for me either until I stopped eating them). I definitely think that at some point, though, I need to eliminate them for awhile just to make sure. This book also includes 30 day meal plans for all sorts of different conditions, throid conditions, autoimmune disorders, gut health, blood sugar regulation, just to name a few. (For what it’s worth, I did show my family the section about blood sugar regulation and the meal plan in case they were interested. They weren’t). There are also guide on how to chop different veggies, and a ton of other helpful charts and guides. My only complaint would be how many of the recipes use lemon. With Interstitial Cystitis, citrus foods cause a reaction, so it’s off limits for me. I’ll have to work on finding a substitution.

Nom Nom Paleo is full of beautiful recipes that look and sound delicious. There are so many on the must try list. The book is also loaded with fun cartoons, and funny stories. I especially love the pictures depicting Michelle’s love for cake growing up. 🙂 I also love that Michelle and Henry are parents. As a mom, it’s important that I know that I am cooking nutritious meals that are also kid friendly. I would definitely recommend both of these books.

Sick kid, eh?

I’m going to start this blogging adventure with some dry posts about my health. It’s important to me to start there because it lays the foundation for why I eat primal, and how it’s helped me. I have two conditions: interstitial cystitis and diabetes insipidus. The interstitial cystitis was diagnosed in 2004, although I’ve probably had it my entire life. The diabetes insipidus was diagnosed in 2009, and seemingly came out of nowhere, with no known cause. So what do these conditions mean??

Interstitial Cystitis:

According to the Mayo Clinic  “Interstitial cystitis (in-tur-STISH-ul sis-TI-tis) is a chronic condition characterized by a combination of uncomfortable bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pain in your pelvis, which can range from mild burning or discomfort to severe pain.”

My case is more severe than that. Basically, the pressure and pain is caused by a lack of elasticity in your bladder lining. As a normal bladder starts to fill, it stretches to make room. Mine doesn’t. Mine, tears. So, it hurts. A lot. In addition, the foods or drinks that I consume, affect the acidity of my urine, and that affects the level of pain. For example, if I drink a refreshing glass of lemonade, that acid from the lemons gets into those little tears along my bladder walls. The pain from that is similar to when you get salt into an open cut on your finger, and it also causes muscle spasms in and around the bladder. It’s not fun, and usually I end up back in bed with pain medication and a heating pad until things calm down again. For the most part, I’ve learned which foods and drinks to avoid to minimize that aspect, but some days, my bladder just has what we call a flare anyway, and there’s not much I can do about it. This condition also means that my bladder doesn’t hold as much as other people’s do. So, I pee a lot more than your average Joe. All day, and all night. This part, I just deal with. I can spot a public restroom a mile away. I can tell you which gas stations tend to have the cleanest restrooms (Shell and Chevron), which mall stores or restaurants tend to have dirty restrooms (JC Penny and Chilis) and on a road trip, I will always make sure you get to stretch your legs plenty. 🙂 It’s just my reality. I accept it, and do the best I can to reduce the negative impact that it has on my life.

Diabetes Insipidus

I know what you’re thinking….I know what diabetes is. This isn’t your typical diabetes though. According to the Mayo Clinic “Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria). In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing a key hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone.” Basically, my pituitary gland doesn’t produce the hormone that helps my body regulate water absorption, so instead of my body processing the fluids I drink, they just get flushed out. I imagine that would suck on it’s own, but paired with my bladder, it’s not a good time at all. It also means that I tend to be dehydrated more often than not.

So…how do they treat that stuff?

Drugs. Lots of lots of drugs. I used to be on 17 pills a day, with no sign of ever getting off the medications. My day literally revolved around taking medications. (Which ones can be taken with food, which ones have to be taken on an empty stomach, which ones need to be taken X minutes before I eat….) It was exhausting. I’ve also had lots of physical therapy for the pain from the interstitial cystitis, and to re-train all of the muscles in my core to work properly. I’ve had surgeries where they try to manually stretch the bladder out for me while I’m asleep, numbing medications injected directly into my bladder, and botox injections to deaden the nerves in my bladder to reduce the pain. My doctors have always said that I have one of the worst cases of IC that they have ever seen, and that was before the complications caused by the DI.

And now?

A few years ago, one of my husband’s friends introduced him to Paleo. At first, we both scoffed at the idea. “I can’t live without bread,” I said. I thought that if I gave up grains, dairy, sugar, and beans I would starve. We kept our minds open, though, and after my husband started to read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, we decided that there might be something to this lifestyle. We had always thought that we ate healthy: low fat foods, lots of whole grains, and lean meats. However, I realized that I was eating grains (and lots of them) at every single meal. Cereal for breakfast, some sort of pasta, soup, or sandwhich at lunch, and dinner always involved pasta or rice of some kind. So, we made the choice to start replacing some of those of grains with more vegetables. “Eating more vegetables will be good for us anyway,” I thought. Little did I know just how good. I’m not going to sit here and say that Paleo cured me, because it didn’t. It did, however, give me my life back. I am off all of my medications, I haven’t had surgery in years, I have more energy, and the number of days where I am bed-ridden due to pain has been drastically reduced. I’ve also lost weight, and had a baby, which we had thought wasn’t going to happen for us, because of my health. So, as it turns out, I can live without bread, and it’s better.