Life gets in the way

Do you ever feel like that? I have the best intentions for blogging, but life has completely gotten in the way.  Between preparing for a Tae Kwon Do test and a vacation with my sweetheart, I feel like I have no time.  I have had time to cross a few things off my 40 by 40 list and I have a new recipe to share.  Coming soon…

  • Strong Lifts 12 week program complete.  I feel stronger, but not a lot of changes. Hmm…
  • 30 Day Paleo challenge complete.  I feel so much better eating this way, and I firmly believe grains are evil for those of us with bowel diseases.
  • Stand on the Continental Divide.  Crossed it several times on my latest vacation and have photographic evidence.
  • Tomatillo Pork Tacos.  So good.  And healthy. And easy.


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Food Fail?

I have a tendency to be an intuitive cook.  You know the type, briefly look at a recipe and then adjust or tweak to fit personal preferences.  This usually involves taking a recipe and using different spices or substituting out the flour.  My intuition is usually spot on, and the recipe tastes fantastic.

I’m not sure what happened to me this morning, but I decided to change a pancake recipe I found on Mark’s Daily Apple.  I had leftover pumpkin from making my Pumpkin Spice Creamer, and thought it would be perfectly fine to substitute the pumpkin for the banana.

I mixed everything together: the pumpkin, an egg, the almond butter.  It looked a bit like baby poo, but I thought it would firm up while cooking.  I tried frying the pancake in ghee, in coconut oil and with cooking spray.  Every time it ended up looking like scrambled pumpkin, not attractive.

I was left with a plate of pumpkin bits and a feeling of failure.  My intuitive approach to cooking had failed me.  Then, I took a bite.  It tasted like miniature pillows of pumpkin pie filling, absolutely heavenly.  Maybe it wasn’t a failure, just not photo worthy.

Are you an intuitive cook?  How successful are you with it?

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Fall Happiness – Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Vegan)

Last week I went to lunch with my aunt and while on my way back to the office I stopped at the local Starbucks for a little treat.  As soon as I walked in I saw that the Pumpkin Spice Latte was back.  This is my all time favorite flavored coffee.  I ordered a tall with soy milk, no whip. 

I know soy milk is not Paleo compliant but regular diary kills my stomach, and it was only a small treat.  About 30 minutes after finishing the coffee, I felt deathly ill.  I wondered if it was the soy milk?  Later that afternoon, my friend was commenting on Facebook that the pumpkin spice flavor wasn’t vegan because it has condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk.  *LIGHTBULB MOMENT*  That’s why I was ill.

That moment started me on a quest to find a recipe for pumpkin spice creamer that was dairy-free, chemical-free, sugar-free and (for my friend) vegan.  I searched the internet for a recipe, but couldn’t find anything that met all of my criteria.  I ended up starting with a recipe found at Deliciously Organic and altering it to fit my flavor profile.

The ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup date syrup (recipe here)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon clove

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat.  Wisk until smooth and the mixture begins to steam. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Store in refrigerator up to 10 days.

I had this in my coffee this morning and it was wonderful!  However if you don’t like some body to your coffee, you may want to strain the liquid through some cheese cloth before storing.

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Chocolate Banana Smoothie

It has been a rough week around here.  Too much to do, too many people needing a part of me.  When I get stressed, I crave chocolate.  Chocolate is not a good choice when eating paleo, so what am I going to do?  Create my own chocolate fix!

The cast of characters:

  • 1 cup coconut milk (I prefer unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup dried egg white
  • 1 T dutch processed cocoa (the darker the better)
  • 1 banana, frozen

Put the coconut milk and dry ingredients into the blender and whirl.  Once the dry ingredients are completely mixed, add the banana.  You can add some ice cubes at this time to give it more volume.  Blend until smooth.  Makes 2 kids size servings or 1 adult serving.

If you like things sweeter, add a small amount of honey.  I prefer dark chocolate, so I didn’t add any.

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Friday Daydreamin’: Lake Tahoe

Today I am daydreamin’ about Lake Tahoe.  I went there in October 2008 with my husband.  It was an anniversary/babymoon trip; I was five months pregnant with our third child.  We needed the opportunity to check out of parental responsibilities and reconnect as a couple.

Lake Tahoe is a breathtaking place.  You drive through the desert from Reno parallel to some dusty foothills.  Slowly you start climbing the foothills and over the course of 15 minutes it goes from desolate and abandoned to vibrant, lush and abundant.  Coming over the top of the mountain and seeing the sparkling, almost neon blue lake is a sight I will never forget.

We spent 4 days hiking a lot (staying below 10,000 feet due to my pregnancy), eating good food, taking pictures (I received my Nikon as an anniversary present) and just being together.  It was good for the soul and good for our marriage.We are planning our next vacation together for October of this year.  We need to get away ever so often and just be together.

Do you have a favorite vacation picture? Link up with Becca at R We There Yet Mom and tell us all about it!

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Finding my Fitness Groove

I would like to be a runner.  Everyone says it is the best way to drops pounds and tone everything from the neck down.  Alas, I have Franken-ankle.  I was in a car accident when I was 19 and frankly, I was lucky to walk away with my foot still attached to my leg. 

I have tried to start running several times in my adult life.  I ran for a while in college with a friend and have tried to start the Couch to 5K program twice.  I have some success and then reality crashes the party with extreme ankle pain and the inability to walk for a few days.

Since I can’t be a runner, I have had to find other ways to get fit.  I am always looking for a challenge and tend to get bored easily.  I started Tae Kwondo two years ago, and that has provided the mental challenge I am looking for, but not necessarily the body composition changes I seek.  Following my husband, I started the Stronglifts 5×5 weight lifting program.

I have NEVER stepped foot in the “guy” side of the gym.  I was always intimidated by the big weight plates and the clanging loud noises.  I am conquering my fears and lifting the big weights.  This program is simple to follow: 5 different exercises, 5 sets of 5, add 5 pounds each time the exercise is completed.  I have finished 7 weeks and 5 weeks to go.  So far I am pretty please with the changes in my body composition.  I feel stronger and more confident.  Maybe I’m finding my groove.

The numbers:

  • Squats, 135 lbs
  • Overhead Press, 65 lbs
  • Deadlift, 150 lbs
  • Bench Press, 80 lbs
  • Barbell Row, 85 lbs
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My Morning Sundae Smoothie

In my search for a different breakfast option, I fell back on my old standby–the smoothie.  In the past, I would make these with milk, whey protein powder and some fruit.  With my new eating challenge, two of the three ingredients were forbidden.  What to do? What to do?

Consult Google, of course!  I wanted something without dairy, with protein to fill me up, and some fruit for flavor.  I crawled through many different recipes and while I found several ideas none of them really fit what I was looking for.  So, I Frankenstein-ed a recipe.  (Is that even a word?  You know what I mean.)

No dairy?  Add vanilla coconut milk.  Protein source? Add egg white powder (raw eggs make me squeamish) and almond butter.   If you already have vanilla and almond flavor, you might as well add strawberries and bananas to make a banana split!

The ingredients for my Morning Sundae Smoothie are

  • 1 cup coconut milk (I like the unsweetened vanilla flavor, but whatever rocks your boat)
  • 1/8 cup egg white powder
  • 2 T Almond Butter
  • 2/3 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 small frozen banana

Add the first three ingredients to a blender and give a whirl to mix egg white powder completely.  Then add the fruit and give it another whirl.  This makes 2 kid size servings or 1 adult serving.

This is a mix of carbs, protein and good fats that got my day off to a great start!

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Paleo Challenge Week One Results

Source: via Kelly on Pinterest


I survived one week!  It was interesting.  Yeah, that’s what I’ll go with, interesting.

The Physical:

The only physical changes I really noticed were ones I would rather not discuss.  To put it delicately, the issues that arise (or bottom out) when eating dairy and grain did not happen!  Always a good thing in my book.

The Mental:

I felt fantastic the first two days, but was in a serious mental fog days 3-5.  Almost everything I read said to anticipate this, so it wasn’t a surprise.  By the end of the week, I was feeling more like myself, for better or worse.  I did notice that the 3pm lethargic feeling did not hit.

What Went Well:

My family always has a menu plan and this helped me out.  I was able to plan out my meals and know that I had the right stuff in the house.

What To Work On:

I can’t give up artificial sweetener in my coffee.  I can substitute coconut milk for cream, but I must have something sweet in my coffee.  Also, I need to find something for breakfast other than scrambled eggs.

The Numbers:

Weight = -2.9lbs; Body Fat % = -.7%

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An Eating Challenge

I have been thinking a lot about food and eating and what works for me.  I know I should drop some weight, not to be thin but to be healthy.  Even more important, I need to adjust my habits toward food.  I need to be more intentional about what I’m eating.

I have thought about what has worked for me in the past to lose weight: starvation and insane exercise (I’m looking at you, 1991), major psychological trauma (newborn, newly divorced, unemployed and move 500 miles all at the same time), and the HCG diet.  Now those first two options I have no desire to repeat.  Been there, done that, earned the badges.  After doing some more research, I no longer think HCG is a valid option for me.  I have a pre-cancerous condition that may be aggravated by additional hormones.  However, the food options that are available during the HCG diet are essentially lean meat, vegetables, and some fruit.  There are also a small amounts of grains and dairy.  If eating this way before worked for me, could I make it work again?

This train of thought led me to the Paleo Diet.  I am not the type of person to jump on the nearest bandwagon and follow along.  I am methodical and measured.  I research.  I started out by reading “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf.  It made sense.  Eat clean food, get rid of the chemicals, and drop the grains and dairy (both of which make me feel ill).  At the end of the book, Robb issues a challenge.  Try it for 30 days and see if you feel better.  Anyone can do anything for 30 days.

I decided to take on the challenge.  I started on Sunday, August 21 and for the next 30 days I will follow the rules.  I will eat lean meat, lots of vegetables, some fruit, and some nuts.  I will avoid processed foods, grains in all forms, dairy in all forms, and sugar.  There is mixed feedback on alcohol, so I will limit myself to clear alcohol and red wine.

Hopefully, this will go well.  I am hoping for some weight loss and to just feel better.

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