Sunday, June 9, 2013

Recipe Review: Pumpkin Pancakes from Practical Paleo

Before I tell you about these pumpkin pancakes (you can skip to the review after the jump, if you want)... can I just say that I hate Walmart? I mean, like, down to my toes. I'd be more descriptive, but I'd probably be reported as a psychopath and I (literally) can't afford to spend time in a padded room - however much it's needed. Siobhan knows more than anyone that I'm a ticking time bomb when it comes to Walmart.

Two days ago, I had my annual (yes, this happens yearly) freak out on a customer service member there. And let me tell you, these ladies were rude. So guess what? I was rude back. You reap what you sow.

On May 17th, I bought a scale. My boyfriend moved out/left me/got kicked out (complicated) and wanted his scale back. With my new zeal for getting healthy, I wanted to freakin' weigh myself. I bought a cheap scale ($19.88) and went home excited to see some low numbers.  When I opened the package, there was someone else's used, dirty, grimy, gross scale in there. It had hair on it. Like... pubic hair. Stuck. To. It. Someone returned their old scale and Walmart didn't check the box. 

I went in to return it three weeks later. Why so late, you ask. Well, I work nights. By the time I get off of work it's midnight and customer service is closed. I've been working weekends to make ends meet. Duh. I looked up their return policy - because it wasn't on the receipt. Here's what you find:

Generally, we accept returns within 90 days after purchase. There are a few exceptions, including, but not limited to, these examples, to the 90-day rule:
  • Computers, camcorders, digital cameras, digital music players, e-tablets, e-readers, portable video players, GPS units, video game hardware, pre-paid cell phones, and post-paid cell phones must be returned within 15 days with a receipt.

So yeah. 90 days. 21 is less than 90. Simple maffs. I open the box and show the woman (hereby known as CSA - customer service associate).  Our conversation goes like this:

Me (very friendly because I respect customer service since I've worked it): So I bought this scale, opened it up and it appears someone else may have returned their bathroom scale. Can I please have a refund?
CSA: When did you buy this?
Me: May 17th.
CSA: We can't accept this as a return.
Me (starting to be less friendly): Okay...why? I've had really bad experiences here and I don't want to give your company any more money.
CSA: Hey, *insert name of other CSA here*. This lady is trying to return an old scale. Can we do an exchange?
CSA2: Yeah, but only an exchange.
Me: I don't want an exchange. I'll take store credit, but not an exchange.
CSA: We'll only do an exchange, it's been 3 weeks.
Me: Your return policy says 90 days.
CSA: This isn't the same scale.
Me (really unfriendly now): Yes, because you didn't check the scale when someone returned it the first time.
CSA (really snarky at this point): It's not the same model.
Me (outraged and about to spill tears of fury - yeah I'm an angry cryer): ARE YOU SAYING I AM RETURNING MY GROSS SCALE?! Because I am NOT that person!
CSA: No, I'm not saying that... let me call a manager.
*calls manager, is told the manager will come up*
Manager: What's the problem?
CSA: She's trying to return this scale... it's not the same one and it's twenty dollars. (um... do you think I'm trying to score crack? I'm fat and I'm wearing Banana Republic... I'd sell my clothes first)
Manager: Let me check the barcodes (leaves with box)
CSA (completely ignores me in front of her): Next.
I wait for 5-10 minutes while the manager verifies that I am not the cretin that her associates have deemed me; she comes back and tells the woman to give me a refund.
CSA (without acknowledging me): Sign here.
Me (smrking): Okay, do you need an ID?
CSA (drops the money on the counter while rolling her eyes): Uh, no.
As I'm walking away, someone in line says, "Wow, you should really report how you were treated." I looked back at the CSA very meaningfully (ha) and said, "Oh, I will!"

And here I am... reporting it to the blogosphere. Hahahaha. ANYWAY.. sorry for the rant. I tend to think I'm way more interesting than I am. Let's get to this pumpkin pancake recipe.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Reading Between the Labels - 21DSD

Day two.  Day. Two. It feels like it's been a month since I've had the sweet taste of, well, anything sweet.  Yesterday was extremely difficult.  I got dizzy and nauseated during my shift at work, a product of low blood sugar (yes, I'm that addicted to sugar). I didn't think I was going to make it home.  On my drive home, though, I ate a green apple and felt a little better.  I went to bed right after work - this is very atypical. I work from 3 pm-12 am MT, and I usually sleep around 5 am. I slept from 12:30am-2pm today! I am guessing this is all from low energy levels due to no sugar.
I did feel better today. A little more energy, but not until way later. For the first half of the day, I could barely keep my eyes open, and all I did was ask my very nice and patient co-worker to go get me things like chocolate cake, Twix bars, and sodas.
I have a headache tonight, but I wanted to blog anyway to update you on a very important topic:

Always read the label. 

You know what has sugar in it?  Freakin' everything. Bacon. Bacon has sugar. If George from Civilized Caveman goes on a sugar detox, he better find some sugar-free bacon. Every single package I picked up had sugar in it - both at Walmart and Sprouts. What. The. Hell.
The list doesn't stop with bacon: chicken meatballs, ham, turkey breast (carved from the deli), deviled eggs, mayonnaise (even some homemade recipes I was looking at call for a form of sweetener), nut butters, pre-packaged unsweetened tea, etc etc etc. 

I was going to cheat and put a tiny bit of mozzarella on my turkey burger tacos tonight... know what? They put wheat in cheese.... IN CHEESE. Doing a 21DSD is next to impossible without reading the label of what you're buying.  In conclusion, growl.

My turkey tacos from tonight... delicious!
 Even without the cheese :(

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Big Fat Sugar Addiction - 21DSD

Readers -

I want to lie to you. I want to tell you day one of my 21DSD went great; I filled my shopping list, prepped my meals and I'm pumped.  I want to tell you that, but it would definitely not be true. Day one was an utter disaster. I'm glad it was day one. Because if it was day 17 and I had to start all over, I probably would quit Paleo altogether.

Siobhan was probably too busy eating Paleo chocolates or
coconut ice cream to talk me off the  Frosty ledge.

I'm not exactly sure what happened. I remember getting into my car to go to the store and instead of driving to my planned destination, I found myself in the Wendy's drive-thru.  I wanted to make good choices... I thought their new berry almond salad looked good.  But, wait... there's berries. So if I'm going to have berries, I may as well have real sugar, right? A frosty it was. And it was delicious. I don't regret it.  What I do regret is the downward spiral I took into a Doritos-Soda-Candy oblivion.  Since starting Paleo, I haven't eaten as many things that are incredibly terrible for you as I did yesterday.  Yesterday was a wash. Am I sad that day one can be chalked up to nothing more than a fat girl getting her fix? Absolutely. But I don't count it as a failure.

I'm a food addict. I need to take this one day at a time. If I see the word 'failure', I instantly get mad and want to quit. No, I didn't fail. I learned a lesson.  A lesson that I needed.  Day one was embarrassing. Siobhan also had sugar yesterday (although hers was Paleo, and definitely not from a fast food joint). We Skyped about it and laughed at each others' shame. We made more cat beards, and some dog beards. We felt better about ourselves because there's another sugar addict out there who couldn't make it through day one. We'll forget this day and move on, but I won't forget how it made me feel.

(on right) How could anyone be so mean to someone with
such a creepy-I mean cute- face.
I've always had image issues. I remember being 5'2'', 10 years old and pinching my stomach to see my first layer of fat. We started going to a church with beautiful girls who were a size 0 and more than likely suffering from their own food issues (one told me she didn't poop). I remember from there, being 5'4'', 12 years old and a size 7. I had a very cruel crush who nicknamed me 'Fat Mary'. I would practice my bell kit for band in a room full of mirrors and never look up.  The one time I did, I took as good of a look at myself as any 7th grader would do and realized I wasn't fat at all. But he continued to call me fat. And I continued to see myself that way.

My mom took me out of school to be homeschooled for the rest of the year. I'm sure she did it with the intention of getting me out of a bully's way. Instead, I wallowed in a depression that would continue through my early twenties. I went back to school the next year, but each year I ballooned in size until my senior year - 5'7'' and a size 14. I had extreme body dysmorphia. I thought I was severely obese, when really, I probably could have run off the extra weight in a couple months. When I did look in the mirror (there were a couple years in high school that I didn't look in a mirror at all), I saw a 400 lb. woman. Not a 165 lb. teenage girl.

Why'd I feel the need to cover up when they
had us wearing bathrobes, anyway?
I walked into Lane Bryant that year to get a graduation outfit. The woman who worked there that day was shocked that I had come into the store. She told me I belonged at JC Penneys or Macy's, and looked severely disappointed that I was in that store (I wish that this was the day I began to realize that I wasn't as big as I thought I was). Instead, I bought a long black skirt to hide my 'chubby' legs. I wore a mom-shirt that hid my 'fat'. Today, I'm sad at my former self. I want to hug her and tell her she looks great. I wish anyone had done that for her.

Today, I realize that all of this isn't a bully's fault. It's not my parent's fault. It's not anyone's fault but my own. I have a severe food addiction. It's from years of learned behaviours. Yesterday isn't anything. It's just a memory. Today. Today is Day One 2.0.

- Mary

Sunday, June 2, 2013

21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) on a MAJOR Budget

Ahmahgahd.  I am plateauing with my weight loss.  I've lost 15 pounds in 4 weeks, and it's suddenly slowed down. Want to know why? Because I love sugar. I love honey. I love chocolate. I love fruit more than vegetables. I crave Coca-Cola all day long.  And you know what? I don't have an amazing metabolism.  So yeah, just sit there on your judge-y butt and think of all the kale and spinach I should be consuming instead of chocolate flavored nutbutter; how I should be drinking half my weight in ounces of water; how I need to stop participating in work potlucks.  Because I'm thinking that, too.

This is how I feel when my co-worker tells me he's 6'2'', 170 lbs and
has never been to a gym and eats 7000 calories per day.
We all know what this sugar addiction means - it means I need to do the adult thing and go on my first Paleo 21 Day Sugar Detox. The problem? I have $50 till payday for groceries and gas - and I got paid 2 days ago. So, we're looking at $50 for 11 days of groceries - $4.54 per day (so long as my half a tank last me, ha).  Doesn't sound so bad when I type it out.

This was my 'last meal' - a  bacon, avocado and jack cheese burger
made with New Mexico meat... yum.
I am hoping I can stick to this. I have a major caffeine addiction, I love to smother my food with cheese. I have a ton of food vices. From spending time with people outside of my circle, I have realized that I may be addicted to food. And not in an "oh, haha, I love food" way, but in a food-governs-my-day way. I want this 21 day detox to also be my detox from my food addict self always thinking about the next meal.

Without further adieu, here's my grocery list for the week (some of these groceries will bleed into next week):

1 lb. bag of baby carrots ($0.88 at Sprouts)
1 bunch of spinach ($0.88 at Sprouts)
3 bell peppers ($1.00 at Sprouts)
1 cucumber ($0.49 at Sprouts)
1 onion ($0.50 at Sprouts)
1 head of cauliflower ($0.88 per pound at Sprouts)
1 head of romaine lettuce ($0.88 at... you guessed it - Sprouts)
2 green apples (for when I need to have "sugar" - roughly $0.75)
1 pckg. pork loin chops (buy 1, get 2 free at Albertson's - probably about $7)
1 pckg. bacon ($3.50 at Albertson's)
1 pckg. chicken breasts ($2.50 at Albertson's)
2 sausage links ($2.00 at Albertson's)

For a grand total of $21.26!  I have to get cat litter too.... dang these furry creatures!  I leave you with a picture of me with a pissed off cat when I tried to do a cat beard. And no, he's not meowing - he's trying to bite me.

Wish me luck :)


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beginners Paleo on a Budget

Paleo is ridiculously hard to stick to when your diet for years has consisted of wheat, fast food and soda. I am back on the train and have lost 14 pounds in three weeks which has kept me motivated.  I look forward to sharing more recipes and progress pictures (once you can actually tell, ha).

One thing I've found about eating Paleo as a somewhat busy office worker - less is more.  Making the easy recipes is amazingly satisfying.  I've been eating on a budget since my boyfriend moved out and doubled my bills. With $46, I got the following from the grocery store:

  • A pineapple (Sprouts had them on sale for $1.25 ea.)
  • A cucumber 
  • Mint leaves
  • 4 bananas
  • 4 small red potatoes (some argue these aren't Paleo, I feel fine after eating them - especially after a workout, so I continue to indulge)
  • Uncured bacon
  • A 2.5 lb eye of round roast (beef)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • A top sirloin steak
  • Coconut flour
  • Enjoy life chocolate chips
  • Brussel sprouts (1 lb)
I have a lot of ingredients already since shopping for one is difficult.  For example, for my roast, I already had carrots, onions, and celery.  My 'big' purchases were the roast - which will feed me for three days - and the coconut flour. Woohoo! Shopping for a fit lifestyle doesn't have to be expensive!

Have any of you ever been to the restaurant Tucanos? Their grilled pineapple is to. die. for. I have been missing it, and made my own paleo-friendly version for when I have a sweets craving.  It's perfect and sooooo quick. 

Pan-Seared Pineapple

1 cup Fresh pineapple, sliced or chopped
1 tsp Honey
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp fat of your choice (butter, coconut oil, etc)

Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a skillet (I do not use non-stick so that I can achieve ultimate browning).  Once bubbly, toss in the pineapple.  Sprinkle cinnamon over it. Flip pineapple after 1-2 minutes (it should be golden brown).  Once flipped, drizzle honey on top.  Cook 1-2 minutes longer and voila!  The outer edges taste like caramel from the honey/pineapple combo. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cherry Walnut Skoshes

Hello, readers! 

Yeah. We Couldn't think of anything else to call them. ;) 

This summer, I tried my very first Kind Bar…and fell deeply, madly in love.
Particularly with the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew; so many awesome ingredients in one little bar.  Unfortunately, they aren’t Paleo, considering the other ingredients consist of peanuts, sugar, glucose, soy lecithin, and whole milk. I thought my newfound love was lost forever… I was selling a few at work the other day, and noticed we had dried Bing Cherries. 

So last night I decided to remedy this problem by making my own. Jonni thought they were incredible, and today my coworkers inhaled them before I could say “please leave me one!” Try not to eat these in one sitting. ;)
2/3 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 cup Large Flake Coconut
1/3 cup Cashews, (Optional: soak for 15-20 min and drain)
8 large Medijool Dates, halved and pitted
1 cup dried Bing Cherries, PLUS 1/2 cup
1/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chips, PLUS 1/4 cups
1 1/2 TBS Vanilla Extract
Dash Salt
Desiccated Coconut Flakes to coat
1. Add all ingredients except for the 1/2 and 1/4 cup cherries and chocolate chips (respectively) into your food processor; chop until coarsely ground.
2. Add the remaining cherries and chocolate chips, and pulse for about 15-30 seconds. You’ll want chunks of cherries and chocolate! (Half of the walnuts could also be added at this time to keep some large pieces intact.)
3. Using your hands, roll into small balls and coat with Desiccated Coconut.
4. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Health and Paleo Information and Resources (Pt 1)

Hello, readers! 

As Promised... 
Exciting, I know. The long anticipated Paleo information post is finally here, only a year and four months later than I promised. Yeesh. This post is one I have posted for my own blog, but I wanted to share it here as well. 

Green. Organic. Sustainable. These terms used to sound so...weird. I remember as a kid going to the co-op and health food stores with my mom in Albuquerque... I felt like it was nothing but hemp-covered college-age hippies smelling like incense and munching on sprouts. (A college age hippie which I now appear to be. Way to judge, self.) My mother would grind her own almond and peanut butter, and buy items such as Tahini, Couscous, Coconut Milk, and Baslamic Vinegar. Items which (minus the couscous and peanuts) are now staples in my home. At the time, these were her special and incredibly expensive treats, hidden away in our cupboard, along with that chocolate she didn't think I knew about.

And I thought those foods and the places from which they came were strange. Thankfully, society as a whole has come a very long way, and my generation (in our mid-to-late 20s) has become much more aware of what we are putting into our bodies. My hope for our young son, who is about 98% Paleo / Primal, (thanks to his daycare; another post for another day), is by the time he is our age or younger, this healthy lifestyle will be normal, mainstream and less frowned upon than it is now. 

Case in point: recently, U.S. News "Best Diets Overall" rated the Slim Fast Diet at number 13 in its list of highest rated diets, number 1 being the best. It rated Paleo at number 28.

That's right.

Drinking Slim Fast is apparently better for you than eating whole veggies, meats, fruits, nuts, etc. (Paleo!)  I know of and continue to encounter many people who have at some point followed one or more of the diets which rated higher, and the way the story usually goes is something along these lines: "Oh, I did _______ for awhile! Yeah, I lost about 20-30 pounds, it was great. I've gained it back, and then some, but I was pretty thin when I was on it. I'm not really sure what happened...hmmm..." And Americans, young and old alike, continue to become increasingly unhealthy. 

According to the America Heart Association:  

"Among children ages 2-19, about 1 in 3 are overweight and obese." Among Americans age 20 or older, 149.3 million are overweight or obese.  Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight adults. This increases to 80% if 1 or both parents are overweight or obese." 

"There was a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States from 1990 through 2010."

In my earlier years, I followed some of the top rated diets, only to have my weight balloon once I was done until I was in fact obese. (Even if I refused to admit it.) I can tell you from personal experience: what we have been doing clearly isn't working. 

The interest in becoming more healthy has existed since I was a teen, but as previously mentioned (see my initial posts: 1, 2 and 3), it wasn't until I had my son in 2010 that I learned what our bodies actually want and need to thrive. Since then, I have developed the desire to educate myself on natural health and nutrition, and share what I have learned based on my research and personal struggle. The answers to effectively treating what adversely affects us can clearly be found within our diets, and remedies to these issues lie at our fingertips in natural sources. 

(For instance: sources such as Elderberry, Garlic, Oil of Oregano, echinacea, etc, can be used to fight off the flu in a way which doesn't destroy your body's natural antibodies.) Discovering this has led to my interest in becoming a Nutritional Consultant, which is something I am currently looking into. In the mean time, I'm able to share what I know at the job I currently have.

 While the job (at my local health store) can be frustrating at times, I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to share with people what I have learned about health and wellness. Most of them have suffered from ailments for years, and haven't known that they 1. can in fact become healthy without pumping their bodies full of medications with bizarre and often harmful side effects, and 2. can accomplished better health by, as previously mentioned, simply changing their diets. People with ailments such as inflammation, high blood pressure, Diabetes, Attention Deficit Disorders, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), even common colds and obesity (to name a few) come into my work and ask for natural remedies, because nothing else they are trying seems to be working. I first recommend they take a look at their dietary habits, and offer to help them pinpoint the most likely culprits. Many people are relieved to know changes can easily be made, and have expressed gratitude when they find their health rapidly improving as a result of eliminating the offenders from their diets. It's amazing what a few small changes can accomplish.

It is important to note: I remind them that I am not a doctor, and am making recommendations based on individual research, albeit quite thorough. A few things in addition to making dietary changes are emphasized as well:  
  1. They should discuss their health issues with a naturopath or homeopathic physician. An impressive majority of my customers who had previously debilitating issues (and had seen doctors all across the country without getting better) found incredible success in natural healing once they finally consulted with either of the afore-mentioned. More often than not, those physicians actually have them do elimination diets and eventually follow something more akin to Paleo or Primal. 
  2. Everyone, not just those who are in need of obvious health improvements, should begin taking good daily multivitamins, an Omega 3-6-9, and a probiotic, at a minimum. (I'll get more into that in a future post.) 
  3. Drink more water! Way, way more. This is something which is so neglected, and so important. It can even help you sleep better. 
  4. If you are trying to achieve weight loss, specifically, ignore the Raspberry Keytones, Green Coffee Bean Extract, and weight loss pills. The most important thing is to once again change your dietary habits, and the rest will follow.
  5. Learn to center yourself, and work through your stress. Not around it, through it. Stress and anxiety are a HUGE contributing factors in how severe a condition can become. Management and improvement are both much easier said than done, and it can honestly be a little offensive to hear someone tell you, "just stop being so stressed out." Fortunately, this is also something I have personal experience with, and learned how to process through extreme stress and anxiety. If I can do it, I have faith you can too. (More about this later as well.) 

Just learning to breath can help! 

I also do not typically recommend they immediately jump into something extreme like Crossfit, but rather begin with moderate exercise to get into the swing of things. (I will also get into THIS at a later time...I can hear peeved Paleo gasps across the board as I type!) 

Thankfully, I have some really wonderful resources at my fingertips, and refer my customers to them as we discuss what they are dealing with. In almost every case, "food allergies" are identified as one of the primary causes or irritants of their issue. I want to share some of the fantastic non-Paleo specific resources which I have purchased and studied at length on my own time include but are not limited to the following: 
Murray and Pizzorno

Prescription for Nutritional Healing

Nutrition Almanac

The next two may seem a little "out there", but they have proven to be extremely reliable and helpful resources as well! 
Homeopathic Remedies: A Quick and Easy Guide to
Common Disorders and
Their Homeopathic Treatments
 Indian Herbalogy of North America:
The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses, Hutchens
 (Older book, but very helpful for cross-references)

Next up: Paleo resources!