five for friday: 08.17.12

five things that are making my life better right now…

This boy is back, and he says things like…

“Aunt Sam, it’s a good thing I came back. You need me! I smell things”
(while helping me cook)

“Oh, what a cute hamster”
(when looking at a picture of himself, of course)

“Finally! That’s where I’ve been sposed to be.”
(upon stepping on my scale and hearing that he weighs 38.4 pounds)

And this one started high school.

High school.

And so far, after one whole day, she’s loving it. All of her classes have at least one friend, she knows her schedule already and she’s excited.

She’s also the fifth generation in my family to attend DPHS, and I think that’s kind of amazing. Half of her teachers taught when I as there, though I never had any of them. And Aunt Carrie also happens to teach freshman English, and it’s just nice as a mama to know you’ve got someone watching out for them.

This one’s had a rough summer, after a rough year. He’s having some severe stomach issues – that he’s undergoing some extensive testing for – and some other stressors, and we made the decision last week to do virtul school with him. I’m not totally comfortable with the decision yet, but I know it’s what he needs right now. He’s been so sick since we moved back to California, and ultimately I know we need to find out why. His first day is a week from Monday, and he’s truly looking forward to school. After a long year of fighting to get him there each and every day, that’s enough.

Still loving Turbo Fire, almost seven weeks in. Also, loving my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor. And yes, that’s duct tape on the toes of my shoes – too much friction to do some of the turns and kicks without it. I’m a little frustrated that I’m still losing weight so slowly, but I can’t believe how much stronger I am and I know I’ve had some serious muscle development.

recipe here (big thumbs up from us)

And I’m still loving my paleo/primal/ancestral/anti-inflammatory way of eating, and considering another Whole30 soon. I love that I have energy and clarity of mind to deal with all of the craziness life throws at me. And seriously, if you’re interested in learning more about what it’s all about, please pick up a copy of Practical Paleo. Out of all of the books I’ve read on the subject – and there have been a lot – this one is just incredible. I wish it had been out a year ago when I started my own reading. Awesome recipes, solid info, infinitely adaptable…amazing.

What are you loving today?

And I promise – more regular blogging coming…soon. Still trying to get our new school year schedule figured out.

August goals

It’s August.

We did a little back to school shopping yesterday, for my freshman. I can’t tell you how over-whelmed I am by that. I am not possibly old enough to have a freshman in high school, and she is not possibly old enough to be a freshman in high school.

I always wonder how our lives can possible get crazier…and then they do. Back to school for the kids, a second church to pastor for Tom, more needs to fit in our busy hours, and hopefully back to school for me. I’m still not sure how it’s all going to work or what our days will look like, but I do know I’ve got to be on track with my eating and exercise to even attempt it all.

So I set a few goals for August.

Because, you know, my summer ones have just gone so well.

And by well, I mean mostly not at all…except the house isn’t a disaster and we’ve actually been eating fairly well.

But for myself, this month I plan to:

  • continue with month 2 of my Turbo Fire plan – which is harder and longer and will require me being up by 6 once school starts
  • lose 5 pounds – although more would be nice, but I’m being realistic
  • walk or swim 3-4 evenings a week – which seems to be helping me sleep better, burns a few extra calories and just seems to help my mental health in general
  • keep eating the way I have been, but cut back to 2 servings of fruit a day – funny, I think this will be the hard one. all of the fruit I love is in season right now, but I know I need to keep my sugar and carbs a little bit lower than I have been.

Have you set any goals this month? I’d love to hear about them! If you want to share, I’ll try to post a weekly check-in.

menu plan monday: 07.30.12

This Sunday, my husband officially becomes the pastor of two congregations.

The kids go back to school here in two and a half weeks.

If everything works out, I go back to school the week after that to pursue a degree in nutrition.

And I can’t figure out where the heck summer has disappeared to.

This week’s menu plan is a little bit all over the place. It’s the end of what seems like a really long month when it comes to budget. It’s going to be busy and we’re going to be out of town a few days. Some of these meals might be dependent on when I can sneak in Costco and grocery trips.

So…this is probably more of a loose goal than an actual menu plan. As in the past, our meals are predominantly paleo or primal in nature (come back tomorrow if you want to know a bit more about what I’m eating now and why). We do, on occassion, enjoy sweet or red potatoes, sometimes white rice in small amounts and corn when it’s fresh and extra yummy. And I generally double the amount of meat I cook for each dinner in order to have leftovers for lunches.

Grilled Chicken
Corn on the cob

Mushroom Gravy Slow Cooker Roast
Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Potatoes (for the kids)

Lemon Herb Rubbed Chicken
Cucumber Salad
Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Doctor’s appointment an hour away – either eating out or all beef hotdogs

Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers
Roasted Cauliflower (drizzling with coconut oil and my favorite vadouvan spice mix )
White Rice (for the kiddos)

Lime and Basil Beef Kabobs
Whatever fruit we have on hand

Mom’s Night Off/Leftovers

What’s on your meal plan for this week?

menu plan monday: 07.16.22

It’s been over a month since I’ve committed to a menu plan, and – amazingly – the world hasn’t stopped spinning.

And we’ve eaten pretty well and usually at home.

It’s the time of year I can do that. We picked up a new grill a few months ago and, as long as we have some veggies for the side, it’s been okay. We’re finally to a week that’s going to be a little bit quieter, and I have a feeling a bit more structure will help.

As in the past, our meals are predominantly paleo or primal in nature (come back tomorrow if you want to know a bit more about what I’m eating now and why). We do, on occassion, enjoy sweet or red potatoes and sometimes white rice in small amounts. And I generally double the amount of meat I cook for each dinner in order to have leftovers for lunches.

Grilled Chicken, seasoned with Magic Mushroom powder from the Nom Nom Paleo app
Grilled Veggies (squash, onions and maybe an eggplant – all gifted from a friend’s garden)
Mushroom skewers (marinated in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and a dash of balsamic)

Skirt Steak with Chive Butter (from Make It Paleo)
Steamed Broccoli
Green Salad

Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers
Roasted Cauliflower (drizzling with coconut oil and my favorite vadouvan spice mix )
White Rice (for the kiddos)

Rosemary Pot Roast with Cauliflower Butter Rice
Green Salad

Lemon Herb Rubbed Chicken
Cucumber Salad
Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Pineapple Bacon Burgers
Whatever vegetables are left in the fridge

Mom’s night off/leftovers

I’m excited – there are a few new recipes in there for the week. Anything new in your kitchen?

Lenten Challenge Check-In #1


Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

I meant to get this up yesterday, but Wednesday afternoon life got a little bit more difficult…in a spiritual-attack-what-do-we-do-now-can’t-we-just-catch-a-break sort of difficult. Everything is okay – or it will be, with time – but I responded in the worst possible way.

Wednesday night, we ended up near Chick-Fil-A and I had an ice cream.

Thursday morning I woke up with the worst headache I’ve ever had in my life. Almost considered a trip to the ER but got through, knowing it was a combination of the ice cream and stress.

Thursday night, I had a bag of m&m’s, my favorite comfort food.

To be honest, they tasted weird. I’m just not used to that sort of sweet anymore and when I do eat chocolate, it’s dark that tends to be at least 85-90% cacao.

I slept horribly.

Friday morning, the difficult got even more difficult.

And I ate two donuts.

Here’s the thing: I can’t eat gluten. I don’t have celiac, but I do know I am very sensitive…I just didn’t know where discomfort turned to pain. I’ve mistakenly eaten small amounts of gluten in the past year and half, and ended up with a little mental fogginess, headaches, some minor aches and pains. Nothing too horrible and, while I know it’s something I need to just stay away from, that question of where bad hits horrible lies.

Apparently, two donuts is the line. I ended up on the couch all day, my joints hurting and anxiety mounting. My headache banging. Hands shaking. Difficulty breathing. And the aches I get a few inches on either side of my elbows and knees and hips – the ones that seem to bore into my bones and that I haven’t felt in over a year – hit hard.

In my devotional guide yesterday, I came across Isaiah 30:21 again. It’s a verse I’ve loved and held to for a long time, but one that I sort of forgot about.

I read it on just the right day. I love it when God does that.

I wasn’t looking in the right direction – instead of turning to God to get through this difficult week, I turned to food.

I forgot that He brings healing and hope and peace and sustenance.

I turned instead to things that bring pain – physically and emotionally – and guilt and frustration.

My prayer and challenge for this week: to stay tuned into that Voice, the one that keeps me on the path He has set for me toward healing and wholeness and victory.

paleo muffin tops

We love these.

We really love these.

Which is why I’ve only gotten an Instagram shot to share – they’ve been getting eaten too quickly to get the camera out for a proper picture.

I saw this recipe from The Foodie and the Family run through Facebook earlier this week and knew I had to try them. I’ve been searching for something other than scrambled eggs for the occasional breakfast for me, as well as better choices for the kiddos and these looked perfect – high protein, good fat, even portable if they need to be. I still haven’t had a chance to throw any in the freezer, but I think they should freeze okay.

As much as I liked the original version, I wanted to make a few adjustments – more spices, a few mix-ins and a little bit more liquid to make them just a bit more…muffiny.

I love recipes that are so easy to adapt to our personal tastes. I want to try taking a little bit more of the maple syrup out – I think with the additions of dried or fresh fruit, the batter could probably handle less sweet. And the mix-ins listed are just the ones I’ve tried so far. I think the options are pretty limitless. I’m hoping to try blueberries and almonds soon, and can’t wait to do a peach ginger variation in the summer. I’ll update this post as I try new ones.

Maybe I’ll even get a decent picture at some point!

Here’s how we do them at our house:

Paleo Muffin Tops
makes 16-20 muffin tops, depending on size

Prep: 5 – 10 minutes
Bake: 12-15 minutes, again depending on size

3 cups almond meal (unblanched works just fine)
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
2 tablespoon coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 c unsweetened dried cranberries
1/2 c chopped macadamia nuts
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

In another bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry and stir to combine.

Stir in your choice of mix-ins.

Scoop onto the baking sheets.
I really like a cookie scoop (like an ice cream scoop) for this. It keeps the size consistent for easier baking.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes, until they turn slightly golden brown and are no longer mushy to the touch.

Cool for a few minutes before removing from the baking sheet.


Linked to:

menu plan monday: 01.23.12

Another week of meal planning…made a little bit easier by the fact – yet again – that I threw half of last week’s plans out the window for ones that worked better for time constraints I didn’t expect.

I’m rather excited, though, to have found a non-egg breakfast – those little tasties up there we’re calling muffin tops. It’s a recipe from an awesome paleo food blogger I made a few little tweaks to, and we’re all in love with them…even our pickiest eater!

This week’s menu plan:

Southwestern Flank Steak
Chipotle Lime Roasted Delicata Squash
Guacamole (mashed avocado, diced onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, maybe some tomatoes – super easy!)

Quick and Easy Crock Pot Brisket
Roasted Potatoes (red for the family, sweet for me)
Roasted Broccoli
Kale sauteed with Bacon

Grilled Chicken with Rosemary and Bacon
Roasted Baby Carrots
Salad Greens

Beef with Broccoli
Cauliflower Rice (both from Make It Paleo)

Primal Philly Cheesteak Bowl (with about a quarter of the cheese called for)
Salad Greens

Pulled Pork BBQ (with Paleo BBQ Sauce)
Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
Salad Greens
(all from Make It Paleo)

Elana’s Pantry Pancakes (replacing the agave with half the amount of maple syrup and cooking in coconut oil instead of grapeseed oil)
Scrambled Eggs

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Angela’s Kitchen (and check out the pomegranate recipes while you’re there – I know I will!).

menu plan monday: 01.15.12

Lots of meals pushed from last week to this week and another recipe I want to try again and adjust seasonings on. I honestly can’t figure out what happened to last week’s meal plan – I don’t always follow it perfectly, but we actually only ate one of the meals on it and we didn’t eat out more than planned. It’s a mystery…

For the gluten-free menu swap, I’m sharing a smoothie I’m looking forward to trying. I’m trying to stay away from too much fruit while I’m on my Whole30…but as soon as I’m done I’m making this blueberry coconut one from Paleo Parents.

This week’s menu plan:

Chipotle Beef Chili
Savory Almond Muffins

Quick and Easy Crock Pot Brisket
Roasted Broccoli

Pineapple Glazed Chicken Skewers (Make It Paleo)
Chipotle Lime Roasted Delicata Squash

Southwestern Flank Steak
Guacamole (mashed avocado, diced onion, lime juice, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic, maybe some tomatoes – super easy!)
Baby Mixed Greens

Red Curry Glazed Chicken Skewers (from Make It Paleo, but double the red curry paste)
Cauliflower Rice

Grilled Chicken
Paleo Zucchini Alfredo-ish (dairy free, grain free and super yummy! recipe coming to the blog tomorrow – my absolute new favorite…we ate it two days in a row this past week)

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Soup (sooo good! made it as directed the first time, but this time I’ll replace the cream with coconut milk)

Shared at Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday and the Gluten Free Menu Swap at Celiac Family.

five things friday: getting started with paleo

I’ve gotten quite a few questions over the past few months about what it means to follow a primal diet, and even more about how to get started.

The best description? That little black box up there. I did my version here, but I’ve been reading pretty extensively for the past few months. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to transition slowly or jump in feet first, but here are five of my favorite resources for getting started:

  1. Paleo Diet Lifestyle – simple, concise articles. Love their Paleo 101 – I think it was the first thing I stumbled on when I started searching. And while we don’t follow a strict paleo diet with all pastured meats and organic produce due to budget constraints, it was a huge help in getting me pointed in the right direction.
  2. Robb Wolf – his was the book I read that made it all click, and he continually puts out so much info it makes my head hurt. I think you could easily go paleo just off his FAQ’s page alone – love the shopping list, the quick start guide and the meal matrix.
  3. Balanced Bites – her FAQ’s page and her helpful Useful Guides are beyond compare. When I have a nutrition question and need the best (aka: easiest for me to understand) answer, this is one of the first places I look.
  4. Paleo Parents – I’ve mentioned before that Stacy’s before and after was the final push to convince me to go paleo, but what I really love is their family focused approach to paleo. They have so many great tips about how to make paleo eating a family way of life.
  5. The Food Lover’s Primal Palate – authors of my favorite cookbook ever, I love this blog. Love the recipes and I especially love this basic as basic can be What Is the Paleo Diet? from their book.

Whole30, Day 1: take….



today is the 12th?

Let’s make that take 12.

I wish I were joking.

I’m pretty sure the beginning of January was even more diet-bomb ridden than December – two birthdays (celebrated over 3 days), a New Year’s day gathering, eating out lots, an ear infection for me, a day trip to Monterey and another to Sonora, and the kids don’t go back to school until next Tuesday.

It was ridiculous.

And while I didn’t really do *that* bad (we won’t talk about that donut I ate yesterday)…and I could probably make the case that I didn’t stray *too far* from paleo (again, pay no attention to that donut I ate yesterday)…it wasn’t Whole30.

And my goal for this Whole30 – from the start – has been perfection.

Today, we’re finally through the birthdays…we’re through the having to eat out and the fun stuff…we’re finally through the holiday hustle and bustle and can find our way back to our everyday normals.

Today is Day 1.

I have a couple of specific goals for this Whole30:

  • 30 days of perfection
  • at least 20 days in the gym (the last one, I didn’t work out at all – in fact, I haven’t worked out since the beginning of October. this morning at the gym? painful.)
  • evening walks 2 or 3 times a week (looking toward a 5k goal in the fall

My measurements are done, I weighed and I’m putting the scale away until at least February 12th.

ready. set. go.