Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cost Comparison Results

I promised I would report back. 

Over the past several months last couple years, I have been dismayed at the rising prices of groceries.  I have watched, nearly helplessly, as my grocery budget has had to increase to accommodate this phenomenon.  Every week, I go in hoping I'll be able to keep it under $100, but it always goes over.  I've usually spent $120 or more per week, then gone home wondering what I can skimp on in the budget to continue to live within my small income.

During the 30 Day Challenge, I spent a grand total of $418 on groceries.  That means I fed a family of four, for thirty days, for $14 per day.  That includes the final week when I was cooking for Superman and his boys and the occasional guest from out of the country, while my daughters were with their dad.

My conclusion:  cooking Paleo is less expensive.  And I've been getting way more bang for my buck.  Check out my last grocery trip:

5 lbs. bananas -- 1.73
1.8 lbs. pears -- 1.24
6 avocados -- 1.98
11.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts -- 14.84
4 mangoes -- 2.76
2.82 lbs. zucchini -- 1.95
2 lbs. limes -- 1.00
2 lbs. lemons -- .66
2.3 lbs. red onions --- .58
2.4 lbs. jicama -- .80
2 heads romaine -- 1.76
2 heads cabbage -- 1.46
2 heads iceberg -- .66
3 cucumbers -- .99
cauliflower head -- .94
cilantro bunch -- .25
bag of green onions -- 1.14
large bag frozen shrimp -- 10.97
bagged spinach -- 1.98
4 lbs. baby carrots -- 4.68
parsley bunch -- .44
ginger root -- .40
4 lbs. ground turkey -- 5.16
32 oz. coconut oil -- 5.48
8.17 lb. pork roast -- 11.36
1/2 ham -- 11.84
4 dozen eggs -- 2.72
1/2 gallon coconut milk -- 2.25

Total:  $92.02

This was an amazing grocery trip.  Lots and lots of ad matching...well over $30 worth.  And look at all the meat I bought!  In my pre-paleo days, I would not have been able to afford to buy a pork roast, a 1/2 ham, a big bag of shrimp, 4 lbs. of ground turkey and two flats of chicken breasts all in the same day!

And, here were are at the end of the week and I still have the pork roast, the cabbages and a few other vegetables, and an entire flat of chicken that I haven't even used yet.

Yes, it's cheaper.  Try it and see!  I've learned it's all about making different choices, and it's not as hard to give up dairy/grains/legumes/sugar as I thought it would be. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Carrot Cake with Coconut Banana Ice Cream

Every time I've had the opportunity to be with Superman first thing in the morning, I've always remarked on his surprising lack of morning breath.  When we were together last week, he said that I don't have any either.  I didn't completely believe him; I thought perhaps it was just love talking.

Last night, I went to my friend's house for fresh sourdough bread.  That seemed like a good reason to "break Paleo", as Ballerina and I call it.  It wasn't so much that I fell off the wagon...I was just...walking next to it.  Sort of.  Anyhow, the hot bread came out of the oven, and we sliced into it.  I spread real butter on my slice, and smeared lovely Marion Blackberry jam all over it.  Delicious.  So delicious, in fact, that I ate four pieces.  And then I felt a little paste-y in my mouth and stomach.  It was late, so I thanked her, said my goodbyes, and drove home.

This morning, I awoke to an unfamiliar sensation.  My mouth tasted sour.  Coated.  Then I remembered...this is what morning breath tastes like.  My mouth hasn't felt like this for over a month.

Okay, I'm not saying this will be everyone's experience.  But it most certainly was mine.  Grains and sugars at night led to a profoundly distasteful morning mouth.  And then, I started pondering.  With my experiment to re-integrate a few grains, I've been having my homemade granola for breakfast each morning.  And my profound lack of constipation has...not been quite so profound this week.  My arms have been itching with eczema - which seemed to start the day or so after eating that cheesecake - and they'd been problem-free during the 30 Day Challenge.  My amazingly clear skin has been troubled with a few blemishes over the last week.

Mere coincidence?  Perhaps.  I'm not superstitious, after all.  But it is possible that there is a correlation.  I mean, I used to think that constipation and eczema were things that always occurred when I was stressed out.  But maybe, just maybe, it wasn't stress that triggered those things, but the way I used to eat when I was stressed.  The bottom line is that the sugars and grains don't seem to be doing my body any favors.  And truthfully, I haven't enjoyed my granola like I thought I would.

Special occasions might be a reason to have something really decadent, but I'm finding more and more that I'm simply happier and healthier when I stay away from sugars and grains.  I don't know yet about dairy or legumes.  I might give them a shot and report how they affect me.

Tonight, to celebrate Easter, I made a flourless Carrot Cake.  We had coconut-banana Paleo ice cream with it.  Everyone loved it.

Flourless Carrot Cake
inspired by this recipe

(When I made this, I cut the recipe in half, and used a round cake pan instead of a springform pan.  It worked very well!  Sometimes there's no need to make a huge amount of dessert.)

8 oz. almond flour
¼ c. date powder
1/8 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
2 t. lemon zest

4 eggs
1/4 c. honey
1 t. vanilla
2 c. finely grated carrots

Heat oven to 350.

Oil a springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Lightly oil the parchment paper.

Combine first six ingredients.

Beat eggs until thick.  Add honey and beat until mixture is thick and forms a ribbon when lifted from the bowl with a spatula.  Beat in vanilla.

Add carrots and almond mixture in three alternating additions, slowly beating or folding after each.

Scrape batter into prepared pan.  Bake one hour until firm to the touch and beginning to pull away from the pan.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.  Cool ten minutes on a rack, then remove from pan.  Cool completely, then wrap tightly (or, you know, just eat it).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Curry Meatballs in Coconut-Tomato Sauce

After cooking for Superman all of last week, my own fridge was pretty empty.  Because my life is rushed and busy, I dashed off to the store without a list (VERY unusual for me -- in fact, I can't remember if I've ever done that before).  But I knew I needed a few basics:

coconut milk

And I had shrimp, ground turkey, leftover pulled pork, and cauliflower in the freezer.  I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants every night as we hurriedly put dinner together, but it always turned out delectable:

Monday - Pulled Pork over Colorful Cauliflower Rice (aka B.I.G. Shreds), Zucchini, Spinach Salad
Tuesday - Coconut Curry Shrimp and zucchini over spaghetti squash
Wednesday - Sesame Tilapia, Curry Cabbage/Zucchini/Onion, steamed Ginger Carrots
Thursday - Sausage & Cabbage "Noodles" with Fried Apples
Friday - Cinnamon Spaghetti Squash "Custard" (baked with egg, coconut milk and raisins)
Saturday - Curry Meatballs in Coconut-Tomato Sauce over Cauliflower, pears

Honestly, I can't remember loving food this much in the past, and I've always loved food.  But the flavors!  Wow!  It's as if I never really enjoyed food before.  Paleo, my tongue thanks you.  And so does my waistline. :)

The "custard" was an experiment, and I'll be honest, it didn't turn out quite like I hoped it would.  I'm still fumbling around with making some sort of sweet squash-and-egg-and-fruit dinner/breakfast thingie.  But see, it takes time to experiment in the kitchen, and that's something I don't have a lot of right now.

This was my dinner tonight.  After curling Valedictorian's hair for prom, I decided to try a new recipe.  And I sat and ate alone since all three of my daughters had made plans.  And I didn't regret a single solitary mouthful.  Feel free to re-create it...

Curry Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Inspired by this recipe from Mark's Daily Apple

Makes 24 meatballs

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 8 Romas or 2 cans tomatoes)
1 can of coconut milk
3 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

2 pounds ground meat
1 egg
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons salt
large handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
small handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cauliflower head, grated

Melt coconut oil in a deep saucepan. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Saute a few minutes until the onion is just beginning to soften then add spices.  Add tomatoes and simmer on medium-high for five minutes. Add coconut milk and carrots and simmer on medium, stirring occasionally, while you make the meatballs.

Combine all the meatball ingredients until well blended. Use a large cookie scoop to make 24 meatballs. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat, brown meatballs for three minutes on each side.
Place the meatballs in the coconut sauce and continue to simmer at least 15 minutes more, or until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are cooked through.

You may choose to "glaze" the meatball pan at this point.  Turn off the heat.  Drizzle some white wine over the meat drippings and stir, scraping up whatever bits of meat are stuck to the pan.  Turn the heat back on, and while the meatballs and sauce are simmering, stir fry grated cauliflower in the meatball pan.  Serve the meatballs and sauce over the cauliflower and garnish with fresh mint.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

B.I.G. Shreds

I improvised with dinner tonight.  I haven't made my menu plans for the week yet, so I threw something together, based on what was in the fridge and freezer.  While Ballerina tossed a spinach salad with strawberries, I shredded vegetables and stir fried them with leftover pulled pork.  It was marvelous.  There were no leftovers.  Ballerina asked what we should call this creation.  I took several mouthfuls and said I didn't know what to call it, but it's good. 

"B - I - G?  But It's Good?"

That Ballerina.  You've got to hand it to her.

B.I.G. Shreds
shredded cauliflower
shredded cabbage
shredded carrots
chopped onion
shredded pork

Stir fry the vegetables with some fat (I used leftover pork fat from the day I cooked the pork roast).  Toss the cooked pork on top and stir over heat until everything is hot.  Serve.

If you have access to a food processor or a shredder, this is a VERY quick dinner to get on the table.  I actually shredded and chopped everything during a 10 minute break in the afternoon, then cooked it all in about five minutes between getting Ballerina home from the dance studio and leaving again for my rehearsal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Reward" Foods

The day after the 30 Day Challenge ended, Superman and I experimented with the world of non-Paleo foods.  We each had one Fritos scoop, and really disliked it.  We tasted a Cheez-It, and were terribly disappointed.  We stared in my mom's fridge at the mountains of yogurt and Mango Smoothies, and ended up pulling out a bottle of pure carrot juice.

We ordered double-double animal-style cheeseburgers from In 'N' Out, and could each barely finish.  They were so salty!  And the flavors and textures were completely substandard to us.  Absolutely unsatisfying.  I ended up digging the fries out of the bottom of the basket, to avoid the sauteed onions and "special sauce" they were smothered in.  We kept remarking about how weird it was -- this was a meal we used to really look forward to!  We each had to admit that we'd been "trying" to crave this food all day, thinking we'd love it again as soon as we tasted it.  We really regretted eating it.  (The next day, we made turkey burgers with fresh guacamole, wrapped in lettuce.  Our mouths were much happier.)

I enjoyed a bowl full of homemade granola, but it didn't give me the energy I've come to expect from breakfast.  Thankfully, I didn't blow up like a balloon, or get terrible gas.  But I have no desire to put craptastic food in my mouth again.

I am happy to report, however, that my mouth really loved the cheesecake.  At least not all my former delights are disgusting to me now.  Even so, cheesecake was a rare treat before, and it will continue to be.

We talked a little about cravings.  I've never heard of anyone craving tilapia and asparagus.  But pizza?  Cinnamon rolls?  Ice cream?  These foods are loaded with sugars (in the form of commonly recognizable sugar and sugars known as starches), which I'm finding can really act like a drug in the body.  We feel like we need them.  They numb our minds and bring us a form of comfort.  And then, when we've eaten our fill (our fill = too much) we roll around on the floor, feeling sluggish and full and fat.

Ballerina and I had similar experiences with "rewarding" ourselves with non-Paleo foods.  Some things are worth it.  Some are most decidedly not.  My fridge/freezer is once again full of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, chicken and turkey and seafood.  Sure, I'll have to alter all my slacks again.

It's worth it. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 30 (The Final Day)

Here it is, the end of the 30 Day Challenge.  Thirty days has never gone by so quickly.  And even though I'm going to continue eating this way (with the occasional integration of some non-Paleo fare), I'm sad to see it end.

I'm looking forward to our "reward" foods tomorrow (real cheesecake, animal style cheeseburgers from In N' Out, chocolate), but part of me is feeling a little reluctant to put dairy and grain in my body at all.  What will happen?  Will I blow up like a balloon?  Will I get ill?

I've done a lot of thinking over the last month.  I've realized how tasty real food actually is.  I've realized how much sugar has been passing these lips unrealized, unrecorded, unwanted.  Even more astounding (at least to me) is how little I desire the rest of those little packets of aspartame on my kitchen shelf.  I can't imagine pouring that stuff into my herbal tea or my fruit smoothies anymore.

I've lost about six pounds this month.  That doesn't sound like much, but I was already on the small side.  Plus, I wasn't doing this to lose weight.  Ballerina lost eight pounds in the first two weeks.  I'll be interested to hear what her weight-loss was like while she was on Spring Break with her dad.

My lifelong troubles with constipation have ended.  Since junior high school, I've battled intense episodes of it.  I've been late to appointments, late for stage cues during a performance, all because of being stuck in the bathroom, unable to finish what I started.  I've been on two-week cruises without being able to find relief until returning home from the trip, even with the use of laxatives.  We're talking about nearly 30 years of pain and discomfort, and it's all gone!  I'm in no hurry to live that lifestyle again.

My brother is fond of claiming he prefers the "everything in moderation" diet.  My big question for that nutrition plan is, "how do you know if you're being moderate?"  How much is the "moderate" amount of any given food?  And really, the big question, the one that prompted the name of this blog -- how's that been working for you?

Ballerina and I have heard lots of people's excuses against the nutrition plan we've adopted.  Mostly, there is admiration mixed with despair as they bemoan their current weight but say, "Oh, I could never do that."  Well, if the way you were eating were killing you, could you do it then?  I don't mean to be an extremist, and I feel that everyone's nutrition needs are different.  However, if you're carrying around extra weight, or you have problems with your digestion, or you're staring down diabetes, you might want to consider that the way you're eating just might be killing you.

I've read plenty of Paleo blogs that are full of accusations against food like grain-free crackers or coconut crepes or paleo pancakes or cashew cream cheesecake.  Accusations like "Grok wouldn't have eaten that!"  Well, perhaps not.  But I'm not trying to be a caveman.  For me, the whole point of Paleo nutrition is to limit or eliminate the foods that cause insulin (and other) problems.  And my bowels, my skin, my muscles, and my really loose slacks all say, "that's been working for us."

I'm taking a break for a couple days.  I'll be focusing on Superman.  But I'll be back, sharing new recipes and random insights.  I'm still looking for the perfect meal-on-the-go "bar" recipe.  I have several I want to try.  Trust me, you haven't heard the last of me yet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 29 (Cooking for Boys, and more Soy Battles)

Men eat a lot of food.  Let me just put that out there.  Cooking for Superman this week has been an eye opener.  The same recipes that feed my family of four girls are just enough for me and Superman, with sometimes a little bit leftover for him to take to work for lunch the next day.

Supper for Day 29 was Mel's Favorite Chili and leftover Blueberry Lime Cheesecake.  I didn't thaw the cheesecake enough before serving, so it was a little difficult to slice with the side of my fork.  So difficult, in fact, that as I attempted it, I launched a piece of cheesecake over the table and onto the carpet.  "No one saw that!" I yelled as I dived for it.  Superman's littlest tyke covered his eyes with his hands.

I was really impressed after reading Ballerina's blog entry for Day 29.  Not only is she doing her best to stick with her nutrition plan while she's away from home, her sisters are supporting her and helping her.  Here's some of what she wrote:

For dinner we had Soy Lemon Chicken, Mixed Vegetables, Baked Potatoes, and Fruit Salad. (How many meals can my grandmother make with POTATOES?  Geezz...I know it's a vegetable but it's super starchy and I'm not supposed to eat them everyday!)  My dear, sweet, amazing sisters looked at the potatoes, then back at my small grimace.  Mastermind cut her potato and offered me a half.  I accepted it, my small serving of potato so as not to have too much starchy vegetable.  Thank you, Sis. :)

"I dibs your cookies!"
"Me too!"
"Ok guys, you can have them."

Cookies.  This is what we call potato skins once you've scooped out all it's innards.  You fill it with cheese and sour cream or butter and salt. Things like that.  I've always loved cookies, Mastemind and I always share Stripes' because she doesn't want them.
Soon after obtaining Stripes' cookies, I realized I couldn't top mine with the normal toppings.  Huh.  So I reached for the Chicken juices and put a little bit on my potato.  It was really good, but something didn't seem right about the sauce.  That's when Grandma told me:

"That's from the Chicken, [Yes, I know...] it's a Soy Lemon sauce."
"Did you say..Soy?"
"Yes, like Soy Sauce."

Stripes whispers to me, "Can you...have soy?"
I look at her and slightly shake my head..."Nope", I say, with a small smile.
Grandma looked a little shocked.
"You can't have soy? Oh I'm sorry, I thought you were safe!"
[Yeah, so did I...]
Then Grandpa says, "Safe? Safe from what?" (I sometimes wonder how much of him is really there.  But oh my, I love him bunches. :))

Ok, the sauce has Soy.  Gotcha.  So I took a look around.  If the sauce had soy, that means the Chicken is totally basted in it.  Looking at the bottom of the mixed veggies, it's got Soy Lemon sauce on it too.  I'm done with the potatoes.  And the fruit salad? It's got a dressing with a bit of Mayo('special' mayo, the kind with mostly olive oil....but also Soybean Oil and, of course, sugar.).  I did have a few spoonfuls of it though.  (Maybe in a way to show my appreciation for the food that had been prepared, partially because I wanted some fruit and this was the form it was in tonight.)  Grrrreat.

Everything. Has. Soy. On. It.
(Maybe I am the crazy lady in aisle 6, screaming through the store, "WHY IS THERE NOT FOOD IN MY FOOD!?!?")

Let's remember a few things here:
1) Muffin was hungry. She hadn't eaten for 4 hours now, and they were going to the temple soon after dinner so there wasn't time to make different food.
2)It would be rude to make different food.
3)My sweet Grandmother didn't know I couldn't have Soy.
4)I had already eaten some Soy.

So I ate.  I ate the chicken(with no extra juices on it).  I didn't have any more potatoes or fruit.  I ate a lot of vegetables(most of the juices were at the bottom of the bowl anyway.)  I even found out that eating Cookies with mixed vegetables stuffed in is really good!  Nice to know.

I ate Soy.  Soy kill me. [Haha, get it? Like 'So kill me'? Eh?  Yeah, I felt cool.]  This is what happens when you venture away from Paleo Land.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 28 (Paleo "Cheesecake")

This is what I'm making for dessert tonight...

I really hope it turns out.  More later.


Tonight, Superman and I had dinner with my mom.  My mom loves nuts, and tonight's menu was especially nut intensive.

First, we introduced her to Paleo dinner with the Rosemary Rainbow Tart, mixed greens salad and Curry Carrot Bisque

For dessert, I made the "cheesecake" pictured above.  Mine didn't turn out exactly like that one.  I pressed the almond crust up the edges of the springform pan, and if I had it to do over again, I would have just pressed it into one level at the base instead.  It still turned out beautifully, though -- and so mouthwateringly delicious.

The crust didn't hold together so well.  This was a "raw" recipe, and I think I'd prefer a cooked crust.  Also, refraining from pressing the crust up the edges of the pan would probably solve the crumble problem.  We didn't waste what fell off, though.  We just used it as a topping.

The texture really was very cheesecake-like.  This is a nut-intensive recipe, so it should be saved for special occasions only because of its dense calorie count.

Blueberry-Lime Non-Dairy Cheesecake
inspired by Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
(Just so you know, I am completely in love with Cuisinart for this recipe.)

For the Crust:
2 cups raw almonds
8 pitted dates

Place almonds and dates in a food processor and mix until chopped and well incorporated.  Press the almond mixture into the bottom only of a springform pan.

For the Filling:
3 cups raw cashews soaked for three hours
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (I used 5 limes)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt

To make the cheese, blend the cashews, lime juice, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until smooth and adjust to taste.

Pour mixture on top of the "crust" and carefully tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.

For the Topping:
1 bag of frozen blueberries, partially thawed
5 - 6 dates
juice from one lime

Place berries, dates and lime juice in a high speed blender and process until smooth. Pour over "cheese" mixture.

Place the pan in the freezer for at least three hours or overnight. Before serving place on counter to thaw slightly. This is best served semi frozen, soft enough to run a serrated knife through.

30 Day Challenge, Day 27 (Pina Colada Chicken)

Pina Colada Chicken with Calypso Confetti Cauliflower

Last night, I made the menu that started it all -- Pina Colada Chicken with Calypso Confetti Cauliflower.  When I first decided to experiment with Paleo cooking, this was the first recipe I tried.  It was so amazing, I made it twice in one week.  We started the 30 Day Challenge just a few days later.  Since I still hadn't had a chance to make it for Superman, we had it last night.

And since I didn't post the picture of the previous night's dinner, here it is:

Rosemary Apple Chicken, Savory Cauliflower Fried "Rice", Mango, Strawberries

Ballerina is still impressing me beyond words.  Here's an excerpt from her write-up yesterday:

My Grandparents eat dinner really early--2:30.  We had roast beef, carrots, potatoes, and string beans.  There were options of sour cream and butter for the potatoes, but I opted for the meat juices instead.  I know string beans aren't really Paleo, the super strict people don't eat them.  But my mom said they were ok. So I had a few.  Mostly meat and carrots though.

Everyone had Double-Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream for dessert, except for me of course.  Grandma said she wouldn't put it on the table since she didn't want to tempt me. :)

"Oh, go ahead--I'm not tempted at all."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm fine.  My mom and I make Paleo Ice Cream with full fat coconut milk and fruit.  It's soooo good."

"Wow, that does sound good!  I've had a type of Ice Cream with......"

Leftover this and that's were on the menu for the rest of the day. Go Paleo! :)

Tomorrow we're going to be hiking for most of the day.  Grandma was telling us the snacks she was packing.  As she listed off things like granola bars, sandwich wraps, crackers, chips, 'healthy' chips, pringles, etc.; I crossed them off in my head: No. No. No. No. Pahaha, No.  No. Etc...  She said nuts, fruit, vegetables, boiled eggs; and I thought, Ok. Awesome. Good. Good. 
I'll be making lettuce wraps with the extra roast beef as well. 

"Don't eat this! These are for Ballerina so she can have more protein than just boiled eggs!"
[Thanks Grandma :)]

Monday, April 11, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 26 (Ballerina's Point of View)

Today's post is from Ballerina's blog.  I've been wondering how she would do this week, since she's on vacation with her dad.  In some ways, it's a little anti-climactic to end the challenge away from each other, but I have to say, I'm so proud of that girl!  Oh, and just so you don't get confused, she calls her big sister Stripes and her little sister Mastermind...

It's the last week of the Paleo challenge and I'm sad that it will soon be over.  I mean, we're continuing it for...pretty much the rest of forever...but the OFFICIAL challenge? Soon to be over.

This next week will really be a challenge though.  I'm on Spring Break and we are visiting my grandparents.  If I was with my mother, maybe it would be a bit easier.  But I am with my dad and sisters, and grandparents on my dad's side.  My dad sometimes raises his eyebrows at Paleo, and my grandma looked shocked when I told her 'No grains'. 

"That's a pretty restrictive diet", she said.
I simply smiled and told her, "I thought it would be hard. But it's not."

Mastermind, my younger sister, has turned up her nose to nearly every Paleo meal my mom has so wonderfully, creatively, masterfully cooked for us.  Stripes, my older sister, is always willing to try a 'No-Thank-You' helping, and sometimes she really likes it and sometimes she runs to the garbage can gagging a bit.  But at least I know she's supportive of Paleo.  When she sees Paleo options, Stripes says, "Hey, Paleo!"  I'm glad she's not the type of person to say, "Hey Muffin, why the hecka are you doing Paleo? You don't need to lose weight! Have some cheeeese..."

Thankfully only a few people do that.

So this morning, I made scrambled eggs and sweet potato hashbrowns before we left for anyone who wanted some.

I packed Paleo options for snacks in the car--cucumbers, celery, carrots, a few nuts and some raisins, strawberries, apples, and bananas. (My dad was very kind to go buy fresh produce, he even got a red pepper even though they're an 'expensive vegetable'.  Love you Papi. :))  I even grilled up a turkey burger and cut it into strips, and boiled some eggs.  The eggs were so cute after Mastermind and Papi decorated them for me as a surprise(Happy Easter!)....too bad the eggs got left in the fridge back home, woops :S....But it's totally fine!

Paleo Snack Food

The Low Carb Burger
For lunch we stopped at Carl's Jr.  At first I was kinda freaking out...then dad told me they have a low-carb burger.  No bun, wrapped in lettuce instead.  So I got that and asked for NO CHEESE, MAYO, or KETCHUP.  It was emphasized. 

Me with my seemingly innocent Low-Carb Burger
Let's just say Carl's Jr.'s motto isn't "Have It Your Way" for good reason.
The burger looked good, smelled good, and tasted good--until I hit the ketchup in the middle.
"Dad.  My burger has ketchup on it."
"No it doesn't, that's just tomato juice mixed in with the mustard."
"No dad, it has ketchup on it."
"Dad. I haven't had sugar for about a month. I think I know when there is ketchup. On. My. Burger."

My dad took a small fingerfull(don't worry, I offered so he could tell it was ketchup.), and STILL said it wasn't ketchup.
It was bright red! What fast food place has tomatos that have thick bright red juice?!?!  The answer is NONE, it wasn't juice, it was ketchup.
And it was so sweet it was like vinegar CANDY. Eww. I will NEVER desire ketchup again. EVER! In my life!!  It was so nasty.

Since I was halfway through my burger I opened it up, got a napkin, and wiped off the ketchup as best I could.  Dad felt bad that there [may have] been ketchup, but I said it was ok, it was just a little bit and then I fixed it.  Mom told me to just do my best to stay Paleo.  I knew I wouldn't be able to be perfect.
But I did write up a comment card for Carl's Jr. I hope they get a kick out of it.

And the back said,"But the thestrals loved the grilled pineapple!"
I hope they send a letter to Hermione Granger :)

When we got to Grandma and Grandpa's, there was a chicken curry soup. 
It was mostly Paleo as far as I could tell.  Grandma had put some Mayo in it. I checked out the Mayo ingredients, and at a quick glance all I found non-caveman was Soybean Oil. But Grandma assured me it was such a small amount it would hardly make a difference. 
I wondered how many spices in the soup had dextrose.  But I was hungry, this was what was available, so I ate a couple of bowls of it.  I didn't eat the rice or the sugar-free jello. 

Grandma also gave me a small tour of the fridge. She bought lots of veggies, fruits, and even ALMOND MILK! I'm so grateful.  She went to a lot of trouble to get me food to eat and I really appreciate it.

Hopefully the rest of the week goes ok! Stripes and I plan to go running in the morning.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 25 (Revisiting Favorites)

With the girls gone on vacation, I get to cook exclusively for Superman this week.  Actually, sometimes he cooks for me.  And sometimes we cook together.  Have I mentioned that I love that man?

This morning I was treated to a delicious omelet with sausage on the side, accompanied by sliced strawberries and avocados.  I tell you, the man buys avocados by the dozen.  It's wonderful.  For lunch, we threw together salads of mixed greens with shredded chicken, avocados, strawberries, and a drizzle of white wine vinegar (it turns out, I actually prefer the flavor of red wine vinegar, but it was still okay).

For dinner tonight, we did a rerun of some previous menu items (in fact, this week will be a review of our favorites from this whole challenge).  My good friend from Australia was visiting tonight.  He's a fish-eating-vegetarian, so I wanted to make sure our menu would be safe for him.

Mixed greens with strawberries and mangoes

Tilapia and Cilantro Quinoa

Spiced Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Dinner was an outstanding success.  My Aussie friend even noted that he was looking for a new nutrition plan, and thought he might be able to employ the principles of the Paleo lifestyle himself.  Superman and I encouraged him, letting him know that it's very possible, and very delicious.  Nothing about Paleo has to be about deprivation.

Meal #1
Onion and Pepper Omelet
Apple Sausage
Strawberries and avocados

Meal #2
Mixed greens
Shredded chicken
Strawberries and avocados

Meal #3
Mixed greens with strawberries and mangoes
Spiced Apple Butternut Squash Soup
Tilapia with balsamic vinegar
Pecan Cilantro Quinoa

Friday, April 8, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 24 (Family Breakfast)

The girls are going to be gone with their dad for Spring Break next week.  To send them off, I got up early this morning and made breakfast.  This is not something I usually do.  I admit it -- I sleep while they get ready for school in the morning.  5:30 am just arrives way before I'm ready to wake up.  But today, I rolled out of bed and whisked up some Coconut Crepes and sweet potato hash browns.  Because sometimes I'm a good mom.

Meal #1
Coconut crepes with bananas, strawberries and almond butter, drizzled with honey
Sweet Potato hash browns

Meal #2
Leftover Pork Cabbage Stir Fry
Spaghetti Squash

Meal #3
Whatever is left in the fridge:  strawberries, cucumber, avocados, coconut milk...
Spiced Nuts

Thursday, April 7, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 23 (End of the Week Ingenuity)

Sometimes I just feel so danged smart.  I managed to have just enough of the right stuff leftover at the end of the week to make a dinner that wasn't weird.  Come on, you know what I'm talking about.  When I was a kid, I remember eating a meatloaf that had leftover macaroni and shredded zucchini in it, just to use up the last of what was in the fridge.  "Srevotfel", my mother called it -- which sounded sort of German, but it's really just the word "leftovers" backwards.

Before I left for work, I shredded and chopped the last of the cabbage, the last of the green onions, the last of the broccoli and the last of the celery, and put them in a bowl in the fridge.  On my break, I grabbed a carton of strawberries from the store and threw a spaghetti squash in the oven.  After work, I stir fried the vegetables and threw in some of the leftover pulled pork.  We served that over spaghetti squash and had fresh strawberries on the side.

Yep, smart.  That is, until I managed to drive right into a lightpole on my way out of a parking lot tonight.  Then I didn't feel so smart anymore.  Unfortunately, eating Paleo doesn't solve everything.  *sigh*

Meal #1
Bacon-Onion Omelet

Meal #2
Leftover Cauliflower Fried Rice
Beets, turnips, rutabaga
Coconut Milk

Meal #3
Pork Cabbage Stir Fry
Spaghetti Squash

Easiest way to cook a spaghetti squash:

Pierce the skin with a fork.  Set it, whole,  in the oven at 375 for one hour.  Remove and cut open (it will be VERY hot!) and remove seeds and yucky seed pulp.  Serve!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 22 (Rosemary Apple Chicken)

A while ago, I read about a "Paleo chocolate pudding" recipe.  Hmmmm... I was suspicious.  Sometimes substitutes for your favorite pre-paleo fare work well, but pudding?  Well, the next time I happened to have the opportunity, I decided I'd try it.

So, this morning, when I saw a half banana and a half avocado in the fridge after the girls left for school, I thought the day had come.  I threw the banana and avocado in the blender and added a little coconut milk until the mixture was pudding consistency.  I tapped in a teaspoon of cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.  It was sort of tricky to get this small amount to do its thing in a tall blender, but I made it work.

I spooned the "pudding" into a dessert cup, because I was feeling fancy (and because I knew I'd be taking a photo for you), then sprinkled a few homemade paleo chocolate chips on top.  The flavor was... not chocolate pudding.  Don't get me wrong, I still liked it.  It just wasn't chocolate pudding.  Perhaps I'm still too "young" in this Paleo thing, because I still actually remember what chocolate pudding tastes like.  And I like it. :)  Truthfully, though, I'd rather slice avocados and bananas and have them that way, rather than blended together into a pudding.  My opinion?  Save the avocados for eating as avocados.

Avocado-Banana-Cocoa Pudding

Lunch today was a glorious retread of pulled pork leftovers, garnished with apricot sauce.  I'm finding that apricots are very versatile.  I love their sweetness, their tang.  Mmmm!

But then there was dinner.  Ohhhhhhhh.  Dinner.  The menu itself is deceptively simple, but the flavors!  I wish I could take credit for the recipes, but alas, I used the brilliance of others.

*edit*  I almost forgot to mention!  Actress, as you know, is only coming along this Paleo ride because she doesn't have a choice.  She groans every time I find a new way to prepare cauliflower.  This time, she begrudgingly had a tiny serving.  AND THEN SHE HAD SECONDS.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!!!

Meal #1
Omelet Cups
Cucumber Spears
Almond-Butter-and-Plum Smoothie

Meal #2
Pulled Pork with Apricot Sauce
Banana-Avocado-Chocolate "Pudding"

Meal #3
Tuna Salad (tuna, avocado, lime juice, sweet peppers, cucumber)
Coconut Milk

Meal #4
Rosemary Apple Chicken
Savory Cauliflower Fried Rice (my minor modifications below)
Oven Roasted Asparagus

Savory Cauliflower Fried Rice
1 head cauliflower
1/2 onion – minced
3 garlic cloves – minced
a generous sprinkle of dried basil
1 egg
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp coconut oil

Shred the cauliflower into a large mixing bowl, add the minced onions, garlic, and basil.  Whisk the egg, and add it, along with the coconut, salt, and pepper.  Mix all the ingredients well.  Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Pour the entire mixture in the skillet and saute for 7-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Serve warm.

Oven Roasted Asparagus
Cut the bottom inch or so from a bunch of asparagus.  Place the asparagus in a gallon-size ziploc bag.  Drizzle with olive oil, close the bag, and gently massage the oil throughout the asparagus.  Empty into a foil-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and ground pepper.  Roast in a 500 degree oven 10 - 15 minutes, until the asparagus is just barely tender.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 21 (No Re-runs!)

Shoot.  I forgot to take a photo of supper tonight.

As we wrap up the third week of the challenge, I realize I haven't repeated any supper menus, as far as I can tell.  That's quite a feat!  Ballerina told me yesterday she's actually sort of sad the challenge will be over soon.  Yes, we'll keep doing this, but a second "challenge" doesn't have the same excitement.

Valedictorian is even getting into the spirit of the adventure.  Today, she made herself an after school snack, and got all excited that she made a Paleo-friendly treat.  She sent me a message over Facebook while I was at work, "Mom Mom Mom!  Look what I made!"  And she posted a picture...

Valedictorian's Paleo Fruit Salad

Bananas and apples in unsweetened apricot sauce.  What great flavor and texture combinations!  Clever girl.

Meal #1
Banana Apricot Smoothie

Meal #2
Rosemary Tart
leftover Spiced Apple Butternut soup

Meal #3
Pork Salad (romaine, pulled pork, avocado, grape tomatoes, lime juice)

Meal #4
Coconut-encrusted Tilapia with Coconut-Balsamic sauce
Sauteed Mushrooms
Cumin Roasted Carrot Coins
Cucumber Spears

For the tilapia, I thawed four fillets and cooked them in just a little bit of coconut oil.  I sprinkled unsweetened shredded coconut on whatever side of the fish was facing up, and did the same when I turned the fish.

The sauce was an experiment based on a browned butter sauce I saw.  I melted coconut oil in a very small pan and poured balsamic vinegar in with it.  Simmer the two together, stirring occasionally, while the fish cooks.  Since the oil and vinegar never really emulsify, carefully spoon over fish to make sure you get some of each.

I sauteed the mushrooms in a bit of coconut oil and a sparse sprinkle of red cooking wine.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Valedictorian, Ballerina and I absolutely loved it!  Actress refused to eat any of it.  As things worked out, she ended up needing to go to her dad's anyhow, so she probably had macaroni and cheese.  *sigh*

Monday, April 4, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 20 (Amazing Pulled Pork)

Ballerina and I laughed as I pulled from the cupboard things I no longer need:

Super Dieter's tea
Get Regular tea
Dietary Fiber (two different kinds)
stool softeners

I warned you that I talk about my intestines sometimes.  Such is the life of a sufferer of chronic constipation.  But no longer!  I threw the fiber in the garbage (it was past its "use by" date anyhow).  The leftover tea will be best used as an aromatic soak in the bathtub, then tossed into the compost pile.  Other random things in the cupboard I wonder if I'll ever use again:

packets of aspartame
peanut butter
a box of Jell-O
Vital Wheat Gluten
Lecithin granules
Chocolate flavored Whey Protein Powder

As I stare at the cupboards, I can't help but wonder -- what kind of food storage should I be concentrating on now?  In the past, I've stored wheat and rice and oats and dry beans and canned soups and canned corn.  Most of what I cook now comes from fresh vegetables/fruits and meats and nuts (which I love), but if my power were out for an extended period, or if calamity struck and going to the store were impossible for some reason, those foods would spoil and replacement food would be hard to come by.  What does a Paleo mom stock in the pantry?

Another busy day in front of us.  Both crock pots are going...pulled pork in one, Spiced Apple Butternut Squash Soup in the other.

Meal #1
Scotch egg
Leftover buckwheat pancake
plum applesauce

Meal #2
leftover Rosemary Rainbow tart slice

Meal #3
Leftover "Mel's Favorite Chili"

Meal #4
Amazing Pulled Pork
Spiced Apple Butternut Squash Soup
Romaine salad with toasted walnuts and avocado slices

The Pulled Pork was amazing!  Here what you do:

Ease a pork roast into a large crock pot before you go to bed at night.  Liberally sprinkle with kosher salt.  Thoroughly sprinkle with garam masala (it sounds exotic, but you really can buy it in the spice aisle at your grocery store -- I bought mine at Wal-Mart).  Sprinkle a little (just a little!) red cooking wine around the roast.  Put the lid on and set the heat to low.  Let it cook all night and all day.  At supper time, pull it out with tongs.  It will easily shred.  It's wonderfully mouth-watering.  I dare you to not eat all of it in one sitting.

As I was checking my blog stats just now, I noticed at the bottom of the page a new entry under "search terms".  Someone found my blog by googling "how do you know if paleo is working?"  How do you know?!?  Just see how loose your clothes are after one week!  Or step on a scale and see how many pounds of fat have dropped off!  Or examine your clear skin!  Or celebrate your stupendous lack of constipation!  Honestly.  Stop making excuses and just do this.  I've tried a lot of nutrition plans.  Nothing else has worked so beautifully, so consistently, so deliciously.  I'm not saying you have to write me a thank you note.  Just start.  Start today.  Trust me, you'll know it's working.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 19 (Sunday Delights)

Today was a day of kitchen experiments.  I love filling the house with the wonderful smell of delicious food!  I always run out of energy before I run out of ideas, though.  I'm writing this as our Rosemary Rainbow Tart is in the oven, and our Curry Carrot Bisque is simmering on the stove.  Bliss, I tell you.  Absolute heaven.

This morning, I made a batch of crustless mini quiche, which I shall call "Omelet Cups".  I served it with my personal recipe for buckwheat pancakes, which I now feel comfortable sharing with you.  I still may tweak the spices for a more gingerbread taste, but these were wonderfully light (unlike the heavy and dense Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes I made a while ago).

I'm trying to find a balance in this Paleo world where I can still feed all the members of my family.  Valedictorian will gamely try everything I make, but sometimes apologetically tells me that she doesn't like it, and can she please warm up leftovers from last night?  Actress will just flat out tell me there's no way she's eating that, and her dinner will consist of a serving of applesauce, or celery and ranch dressing.  I need to be sure I'm always serving a known favorite alongside something new and different, otherwise I'm defeating the whole purpose, which is to help my family be more healthy.

Light and Fluffy Buckwheat Pancakes
1 c. buckwheat flour
2 T. Flax seed meal
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. almond butter
1/2 c. sugar-free applesauce (I used my homemade plum applesauce)
2 eggs
1 c. full fat coconut milk
1 c. water
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Mix everything together until very well combined.  Pour onto medium-hot greased griddle (I used coconut oil, my favorite fat).  Flip when done on first side (they won't bubble quite the same as traditional wheat-flour pancakes).  Serve with unsweetened fruit topping (we like the tangy flavor of apricots).

Omelet Cups
coconut oil
crisped, crumbled bacon
chopped mushrooms
chopped green onion
chopped spinach
3 eggs + coconut milk to make 1 cup

Grease mini muffin tin with coconut oil.  Layer ingredients into each muffin cup, starting with the bacon and ending with the spinach (feel free to customize your own fillings!).  Whisk eggs and coconut milk together, then slowly pour over each muffin cup.  If you've packed the fillings in well, this mixture should cover eight mini muffin cups.  I repeated the process three times to make two dozen.  (And if you make fewer than that, don't throw out leftover egg/milk mixture.  Use it to make a crepe!)

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. 

Curry Carrot Bisque
Boil the following ingredients until carrots are soft, then puree:

    * 1 1/2 lbs carrots, cut into chunks
    * 1/4 large onion, chopped
    * 2 cloves garlic
    * 1 T. curry (less, if you like it mild)
    * 3 c. chicken broth or stock
    * 1/2 t. salt

Return pureed soup to pot.  Stir in and re-heat on low:

    * 1/2 c. full fat coconut milk

(This is really REALLY wonderful served with Fennel Seed Boiled Chicken -- just boil chicken breasts with a handful of fennel seeds, then cut up and serve in chunks.  We love to use the bisque as a dip for the chicken.)

Rosemary Rainbow Tart
inspired by this recipe

Tart shell:
1 1/2 c. almond flour (6 oz. almonds, about 1 c.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. minced fresh rosemary
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 T. water

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the almond flour, salt, and fresh rosemary together in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil with a pastry blender until thoroughly integrated.  Drizzle the water over the mixture and stir in.  Press into a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until golden (which, honestly, is kind of hard to tell, because almond flour is already pretty dark compared with white flour.)  When done, let cool completely before filling.

2 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 bunch rainbow chard, stems and leaves chopped
1 heaping tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch pepper
Heat olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chard stems (you will add the leaves later) and rosemary. Cook until the stems are tender. Stir in the garlic. Add the chard leaves. Cook until the leaves are wilted and soft and any liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.

Beat together the eggs and season with salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the chard mixture. Mix well and scrape the filling into the prepared shell.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until set. Let cool for 10 minutes, serve warm.  (The original recipe suggests garnishing with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, but we were fainting with pleasure over this so much, I totally forgot about the balsamic.  Guess I'll have to make it again.)

Meal #1
Light and Fluffy Buckwheat Pancakes
Omelet Cups

Meal #2
Rosemary Rainbow Tart
Curry Carrot Bisque

Meal #3
Blueberry-Plum Coconut Ice Cream
Toasted Walnuts

30 Day Challenge, Day 18 (Chicken Vegetable Lo Mein)

The weirdest thing has been happening.  I used to have to make sure I ate every 2 - 3 hours, or I'd feel quite murderous.  But today, I ate a late breakfast (I slept in), then six hours later ate dinner with no pressing need for food in between.  Six hours would have been dangerous before.  But when three hours had passed since breakfast, I still felt just fine.  No hunger.  So I decided I'd eat as soon as I was hungry.  In fact, you'll notice that my usual 5 - 6 meals per day has shrunk towards 4 meals per day.  Interesting.

Ballerina got a phone call this afternoon, from a friend inviting her over for a Girls Night.  Her side of the conversation sounded like this:  "yes?  Woo hoo!  Will there be paleo fare?"  That girl is pretty awesome.  I love that her friends know what paleo is. :)  Oh, and by the way...she's lost 8 lbs. so far.

We tried an experiment tonight.  Root vegetable "chips".  I bought a rutabaga, a turnip,  a beet and a sweet potato.  This is what we got...

it's late and I'm too tired to re-orient the photo.  Just tilt your head to one side.
They were tasty.  But a lot of work, for how fast they get eaten.  Still, it was fun to try it.

 Meal #1
Thrown together paleo pancakes (I didn't measure anything.  I just threw an egg, some almond butter, some applesauce, some cinnamon, and some ginger in a bowl, then thinned it with coconut milk.)
Scotch Egg
Throat Coat tea (which tastes acceptably sweet to me now, without sweeteners)

Meal #2
Chicken Vegetable Lo Mein (recipe follows)
Root Vegetable Chips (fried in coconut oil)

Meal #3
fresh strawberries, apples, mangoes, clementines

Chicken Vegetable Lo Mein
coconut or olive oil
Chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced Ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Sesame seeds to garnish

Heat wok over high heat.

Add oil, swirl to coat bottom of wok, then add meat.

Cook meat for 3-4 minutes, until mostly cooked.

Add in broccoli, water chestnuts, celery and mushrooms; cook for 2 minutes

Add in almonds, cabbage, green onion, ginger and garlic.  Cook 2-3 minutes, until cabbage softens a little.

Remove from heat, garnish with sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

30 Day Challenge, Day 17 (Food is Beautiful)

Breakfast today was beautiful.  I'm always amazed at the loveliness of food.  I was so mesmerized by the random artistic quality of my omelet ingredients, I had to take a photo.

And here, the finished product, alongside some grapefruit chunks:

Isn't food great?!

Meal #1
omelet with spinach, bacon, onion, sweet peppers, mushrooms
1/2 grapefruit

Meal #2
Leftover chicken soba soup (The nice thing about 100% buckwheat soba?  It doesn't swell up and absorb all the liquid in leftover soup.  It stays al dente, instead of the pasty mess regular noodles make.)
Spiced nuts (and now they're gone. :(  I need to go to Costco and buy more nuts.)

Meal #3
Spinach Bolognese (I had no noodles, and no spaghetti squash, but I really wanted the last of the Bolognese.  So I spooned it over a plateful of raw spinach and heated it in the microwave.  It was perfect.)
1/2 grapefruit

Meal #4
Scotch Egg
grape tomatoes
coconut milk

30 Day Challenge, Day 16 (Spiced Nuts, Favorite Chili)

You know how even the most boring outfit in your closet feels new and exciting again when you have a new accessory to go with it?  Whether it's a new necklace or purse or pair of shoes (yes, shoes are SO an accessory), it just makes all your outfits more fun to wear.

This is how I got out of the lunch rut I felt I was in a few days ago.  No, I didn't go buy a new pair of shoes (well, actually, I bought two new pairs of shoes, but that was a couple weeks ago, and it has nothing to do with food).  Today, I made these (my modification below):

Spiced Nuts

And they changed everything.  First, I found it hard to stop eating them.  But then, I was absolutely beside myself with glee anticipating them on a salad.

Today's lunch.  A thing of beauty.
Ballerina's eyes opened wide when she tasted them.  Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner.  (Thanks, Mel!)

Today's delicious food:

Meal #1
Berry Daquiri Smoothie (strawberries, blueberries, lime juice, coconut milk)
spiced nuts

Meal #2
Romaine Salad (romaine, chicken, strawberry, sweet pepper, avocado, spiced nuts, red wine vinegar)

Meal #3
Baby carrots
Spiced nuts

Meal #4
Mel's Favorite Chili

Meal #5
Shredded chicken, grapes, spiced nuts
coconut milk

(Okay, so maybe I leaned a little too much on the spiced nuts today.  But seriously, once you taste them, I think you'll hardly be able to blame me.)
Sweet  & Salty Spiced Nuts
    2 1/2 cup nuts – I used almonds and walnuts and pecans
    2 tablespoons coconut oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons ground dates ("date sugar")
    1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 300F.

2. Heat oil over medium-low heat, then add cumin and cayenne. Cook 'til fragrant, about 15 seconds.

3. Pour oil over the nuts and toss well to coat. Add sugar and salt; toss to coat.

4. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, til they're lightly browned.

5.  Let cool, then transfer to a container with a lid.  Then put in a safe with a padlock before you're tempted to eat them all in one sitting.