Hey there! Just a quick post to let y'all know about an awesome giveaway over at Toadally Primal. This thing looks AWESOME. It includes a bunch of stuff (listed below) but it even includes the take-home version of the Real Food Summit that I was gushing about a while back. Remember I said it was life changing. Just sayin'. Anyway, click the link to go check it out.
When we started this whole thing, I
would get absolutely paralyzed in the grocery store and could not function for
fear that I was doing something wrong. I've relaxed a bit and realize this is a
learning process and that I can make mistakes. Eating out is still a big
challenge. One by one, I'm phasing out places that I either mistakenly thought
were healthy or were just plain bad for me. I'm also learning that some places
I thought were horrible are not nearly as bad as I thought. I just have to
remember that eating out is a once-in-a-while thing and that no place is truly
I'm very afraid that I'm becoming
"that friend". I don't want to be that friend. I have those friends;
I love them dearly, but they're annoying. But when I get asked questions, I try
to give a concise, informative, FACTUAL answer that might get them to further
research the topic (or not, whatever). I don't want to be a know-it-all or a
Debbie Downer, but sometimes it just gets to me and I say something on Twitter
or Facebook about it. Then I feel bad all afternoon for being a pain. That's
one of the reasons I blog here. It's a food blog for goodness sake! I can vent
all I want. But I certainly don't want people to tiptoe around me because they
think I'm going to judge them! They can do what they want! I gotta tell you
though, going on vacation and staying at my dad's house was so difficult. I
resigned myself to take it really easy and just go with the flow. If you know me,
you know I am not a go with the flow type of person. I'm lucky my brain/mouth
I also realize that I'm not the
picture of healthy. I still have a long way to go in the weight loss department
and if you're close to me, you know that my health has improved 1000%, but to
look at me? You'd probably wonder why that fat girl was talking about nutrition
and why you're doing it wrong. So I'd like to tell you the changes/progress
that we've made since February:
I've lost about 20lbs. I've lost it very slowly, and
you might not be able to tell, but I've really enjoyed losing it this
time. I'm not hungry at all and I get to eat things like dark chocolate,
ice cream and cheese. I am active and work out occasionally. I would much
rather lose weight by eating full-fat REAL food and just having fun than
eating a low-fat unsatisfying diet and killing myself at the gym.
Jeremy has also lost weight. It's very noticeable on
him; probably because he's a guy. He says it's because I'm starving him.
Which was probably true in the beginning, but now that he's on board, I
think he's enjoying it for the same reasons that I am.
We've revamped the vitamin regimen that we were on.
It's nice because even though we're taking fewer pills/supplements, we're
getting better nutrients with less effort. And both of us feel so much
My sleep quality and my energy have improved greatly.
Where I could not make it through the day without at least an hour nap
(after sleeping 8 hours the night before), now I rarely take naps and
hardly even have that afternoon drag.
We went on vacation in the hottest weather where we did
lots of walking. I don't think it phased either one of us. So we're healthier
in some way.
I went down a clothing size without much weight change.
It leads me to think that I'm building more muscle and losing more fat.
Jeremy's foot pain has improved greatly. He went from
being barely able to walk to walking and amusement park for 7 hours. With
no pain the next day either.
The restless leg syndrome that has plagued me since before my last pregnancy has all but stopped. I have noticed that if I eat junk food it will flare back up, but not nearly as bad as it was. I would love to find some literature about the correlation between diet and RLS.
So that's what I've learned so far.
Where do we go from here? I'm not sure, but I do know I'll probably end up
being healthier because of it.
We've been on some level of the Real Food lifestyle since February. I say some level, because you change more things the more you learn. And I have to say, it's been HARD, but not as hard as I would have thought.
I stumbled on 100 Days of Real Food sometime in January, but it didn't resonate with me until the post about food dyes that I mentioned in the Blow Pop post. I got curious and started looking around on the internet and kept seeing some of the same recommendations over and over again. I started out with Food, Inc. (I watched it on Amazon Prime, but I think you can also get it on Netflix or iTunes. It's worth it.) That led me to Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and a few of his other books. And then Real Food by Nina Planck. I read a few other books and started following more bloggers.
I started reading Deep Nutrition by Cate Shanahan. This is an important read, but let me tell you, it is not an easy read by any measure. I've been reading it for over 2 months! In the midst of reading that, I somehow stumbled onto the Real Food Summit (which was free live, but you can buy the whole thing now). I was curious about it because they had a presentation by Joel Salatin and I love his passion. Also, they had Cate Shanahan and I was reading her book at the time. I figured it was something to listen to, so why not? Let me tell you, it was LIFE CHANGING. So many more things made more sense and the presenters were wonderful as well as diverse. There were a few ideas that were a little "out there" for me, but each argument was very well presented/argued/researched and I can respect that. Jeremy ended up listening to a few of the presenters and even though he got irritated when different presenters had conflicting ideas, I think it really got him on board which has mad my life so much easier! It even inspired me to do more reading/research, so I'm almost finished with Deep Nutrition and I have a list of books to read when I'm finished. (By the way, I consider the mentioned books required reading.)
I originally had the rest of this post as one really long post, but decided to break it up because of the length. Stay tuned for part 2.
The Best of Clean Eating 2
Overall, it's a good book, but
I need to mention that I am really disappointed with it. I
didn't buy the first book because several reviews mentioned that they use
things like canned cream of chicken soup and some other highly questionable
ingredients and that substitutions had to be frequently made. Those issues were
supposedly cleaned up in the second book. But the second one is so recent that there weren't nearly as many reviews that critiqued the 2nd one, so I was pretty much taking a gamble anyway.
In their introduction, the writers mention that they received a lot of complaints about the fat & calorie content of the recipes in the first CE book, so that in this book, they were trying to reduce fat and calories. Now maybe I'm just confused about what CE is all about. I haven't really gotten that much into the CE side of things as much as I have "real food". But I assume that it's pretty much the same thing. It might just be that my own misunderstanding is what has led to my disappointment, but I thought full fat was one of the main pillars of the lifestyle. Why on earth would you start putting "low-fat" this and "reduced-fat" that into EVERY.SINGLE.RECIPE? It is easy enough to substitute one thing for the other, but if I have gone out of my way to buy a specific type of "diet" book, then I feel that I shouldn't have to make those substitutions. Oh, and don't forget the inclusion of all the "extra lean" meats! Not to mention that it really throws off the nutritional stats at the bottom of the recipe, so it makes it hard for me to log everything.
Don't get me wrong, I've tried several recipes out of this book and they were FABULOUS. Several of them are going into the permanent rotation. Others, I'm going to save for the cooler months before I give them a shot.
Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals
Admittedly, this is not exactly a "real food" book, but I like Jamie Oliver's message, so I thought I'd give it a shot. This book is really really good. It's right up there with any of the Alton Brown Cookbooks. This book would be an awesome gift for a couple getting married, a high school student learning to cook, a new mom, etc. It's also great for people who already know how to cook. I read this thing word for word from the front cover to the back. It's that good. I also like the fact there are several pictures for each recipe. The CE book did not have any pictures for several recipes. I like the pictures because that way I know I'm not screwing up. Spencer's favorite recipe out of the book is the Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea Sauce. Jeremy loved it as well. It ain't your momma's mac n cheese! So good. Many many many of the recipes in this book are going into heavy rotation!
Overall, I think the Clean Eating book is worth a check out from the library. Just go ahead and buy the Food Revolution book, you'll thank me.
It's been a while. I have found that it is incredibly difficult to find a few minutes to sit down at the computer with a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old. Someone always needs something. Or they're just incredibly pissed that I'm not catering to their every whim every second. Not to mention that Wesley is mobile now, so he is into everything.
There's been a little bit of everything going on. I'm doing a big battle in the garden with powdery mildew on anything that has a vine. All the squash, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, etc. have it. I went through and cut a bunch of bad leaves off and thought I beat it, but apparently not. I lost one of the cucumbers outright. Everything else is struggling. I've resulted to neem oil to try to fight it back, but every time I apply it, it rains. Not that I'm complaining about it raining. We went forever without any rain and were put on water restriction. We were allowed to water outdoors two days a week from 12am - 4am. The sprinklers water the garden, but not nearly enough. We resulted to recycling the bathwater from the boys' baths and the cold water that runs at the beginning of our showers. It was a pain hauling the big buckets from the house to the garden, but worked remarkably well. Although I guess it's not really organic gardening when you've got Johnson's Baby Shampoo residue in your water. But hey, it worked! It started raining again about a week ago, so we're back to voluntary restrictions, so it makes life a little easier when I can water with the hose.
We did try the beets that we bought from EarthFare. I liked them. I really enjoy that "earthy" flavor that they have. Spencer thought they were tolerable and Jeremy hated them. I froze the leftovers, but I'm unsure what to do with them. I don't want to make a side dish just for myself. I'm sure I can come up with something. Worst case, I think I can throw them into a stew in the fall.
I don't know if I mentioned it, but I made relish from all those cucumbers that we got all at once right before the mildew hit. I have to say that it was a LOT of prep work and involved spices that I was unfamiliar with, but I am SO PROUD of my relish. I think it tastes great. I didn't want to start tweaking the recipe on the first try, so it does have a fair amount of sugar, so it is pretty sweet. I definitely have to exercise moderation in eating it! I did use 1/2 regular sugar and 1/2 raw sugar, so it's a marginal improvement. I have to say that my favorite way to eat it is in tartar sauce. Yum!
Really the only other things I have to talk about deserve their own posts, so I'm going to stop here for now. We are making progress on the real food lifestyle, that's for sure. I think even Jeremy is starting to come around!
Spencer has been out of school for over 3 weeks now and I think we've finally found our groove. He always wants an activity each day. Now, I'm all about being active and such, but I'm trying to teach him to be content by just staying home and doing things around here. I think he's finally starting to appreciate just having a day to play with his toys and use his imagination. There is freedom in not having structure sometimes. Besides, he starts kindergarten at the end of August. He will be scheduled for the next 13 years at a minimum.
Speaking of Spencer, we were at Earthfare the other day picking up some "fancy" meat for Father's Day. (I don't care to discuss $30 for 3 kebabs.) We were in the produce area getting salad things and Spencer picked up a bunch of beets and announced that he would like to try these. I was SO PROUD. Adventurous eating! I'm not entirely sure that I've ever tasted beets either, so into the cart they went. I think I found a family-pleasing recipe on the internet this morning and we're going to give it a try for dinner tonight. I'll let you know how that goes.
I found (somewhat) local, organic, lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized grass-fed milk at Earthfare! Score! My verdict: It tastes very milky. Shocking, isn't it? But I did like it. We had been buying the organic Kirkland Signature milk, but I was turned off by the fact that they felt the need to add fish oil to the milk to increase the Omega-3's instead of just having grass-fed/pastured dairy cows. Fail. Also, the 6-week time span to the expiration date makes me wonder what in the heck they did to it to get it to last so long. I have found places that sell raw milk, but I'm just not ready to make that leap just yet.
My birthday has come and gone. I really wasn't in the mood to celebrate this year, but overall it was a good one. I am humbled and very appreciative to be able to celebrate another birthday considering I brought a new life into the world and battled a life-threatening infection since the last birthday. Also, in the past several days, several friends have had loved ones taken away suddenly, so I am reminded to be thankful for the days we have.
Speaking of birthdays, I was hoping for some real food/clean eating cookbooks that were hanging out on my Amazon wishlist, but no go. But that's okay. I have several Amazon gift cards from my Swagbucks; that's what they're there for. Besides, Jeremy got me a really cute old-lady bike so I can cruise with the kids. My mountain bike was so uncomfortable! This thing rides like a dream. And I have a pull-behind thing to stow Wesley in so he can come along as well.
As I mentioned in my previous post about my trials making sourdough loaves, I did a lot of reading about the different recipes and methods people use. Currently, I'm using a combination of all of these ideas to make my sourdough. It is what works for me. I make no claim that any of this is my idea. I just wanted a simple recipe that needs simple maintenance.
I have activated my starter and it lives in the pantry in a quart-sized mason jar with a paper towel on top that is anchored with a mason jar ring. I feed my room-temperature starter once per day a ratio of 2 parts stone ground whole wheat flour to one part water (usually using 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 c. room temp filtered water) UNLESS I'm getting ready to make a loaf of bread. Stir well. Get some air in there!
NOTE: I wanted to make sure my starter actively lived at room temperature for its first 30 days to fully develop the flavor. If I am only making bread once a week or less often after those first 30 days, it lives in the refrigerator in a mason jar with a screw-top lid. I feed it twice a week, using the same formula as above. I pull the starter out of the refrigerator and continue with the instructions two days before I plan to make bread.
Two days (no less than 36 hours) before I plan to bake the bread, I start feeding it every 12 hours, roughly doubling the amount each time. I usually switch over to a large glass bowl with a loose lid, because it will ooze through the paper towel and attack the pantry otherwise. Seriously. I've had it happen. I fully expected it to gain sentience and go sit on the couch to watch TV.
NOTE: Really. This is all the maintenance I do on my sourdough. I always save a little bit of the starter, put it in a clean mason jar and pop it back in the refrigerator. That's all.
This usually gives me 2 1/2 cups of starter unless I've been really aggressive with the feedings. Sometimes I will add a touch more water than the 2-1 ratio if it's so thick that I can't work with it and that tends to give me a little more starter to deal with. At that point, I use a somewhat skewed version of the Cultures for Health recipe because it is simple and good:
Sourdough Bread Recipe:
2 1/3 cups active sourdough starter
3 1/3 cup Flour
1 – 1 ½ cup Water (approximate)
Scant Tablespoon Salt
I say somewhat skewed because it's not an exact science and I add flour/water until I get the texture that I want. It's really going to depend on the thickness of your starter, the weather, and the age of your flour. And I will say the texture I'm looking for is probably stickier than you would think.
I dump the whole lot into my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough attachment. I turn it on low for about 3 minutes or so or until it is all good and mixed. Then I turn it off and walk away for about 10 minutes. Whole wheat flour takes a while to absorb the water properly. After the 10 minutes, I turn the mixer on again for about 30 seconds. This is where I would adjust the flour or water as needed. Skipping the rest period will guarantee an over-floured loaf.
I have granite counter tops, so I find it easiest to do the kneading right on the counter. I just make sure it is clean and I use liberal amounts of olive oil on the counter and on my hands because the dough should be really sticky. I also keep a metal scraper on hand to help me get it off the counter should things get out of control. I knead the dough for about 1 minute, maybe 2. Then I let it sit on the counter while I wash my hands and the mixing bowl. I leave it set there from 5 to 10 minutes.
I then bring my clean, dry bowl back to the counter and splash some olive oil in it. Then I re-coat my hands. Then I knead the bread for another 1 or 2 minutes. I form it into a ball and coat it with olive oil if needed. Then I put it in the bowl, cover it with a towel and leave it for at least 30 minutes.
NOTE: My husband does not like overly sour sourdough for sandwich bread because it makes things taste funny. The longer your sourdough sits, the more sour flavor will develop. If I'm making artisan sourdough, I leave it sit for up to 18 hours and bake it in a dutch oven. But for the purposes of this sandwich bread, it sits for a scant 30 minutes and gets a large bread pan.
After 30 minutes, I prepare my bread pan. This recipe will make two small loaves or one large loaf. I have a large stoneware bread pan, so I throw all of the dough in there or I will even take some dough out and make hamburger buns with it. I coat the bread pan with either coconut oil or olive oil depending on my mood. I do find that the olive oil works a bit better in this application. I take the dough out one more time and knead it for a bit with olive oil, shape it into the loaf shape and drop it into my prepared pan. I then cover it with a towel and let it rise to the height I want. It usually takes about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450. Then drop it to 400 when you put the bread in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Drop the temperature to 350, cover the top with a piece of aluminum foil and continue baking until the interior temperature reaches 200 degrees. It's all going to depend on the size of your pans and other things, so if you make 2 small loaves, you might be done at the original 30 minute mark. The point is, use your thermometer.
When your bread reaches 200, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. It should cool enough to just pop out of the pan. Take it out of the pan and set it on a towel and let it cool completely before storing it in an air tight container.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My bread has never made it to the air tight container intact. The end always ends up missing...with butter.