Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Post Today!

I try to post every Monday, Weds and Friday and I've done really good these last few weeks but...well, there's a nasty cold running rampant in my house right now and I can't seem to rub two brain cells together right now.  See you on the other side of this cold!  ;-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow and Steady Exercise = Paleo

From what I've read, there's a general consensus when it comes to exercising on Paleo: though many websites and books center their attention on lifting weights, doing body-weight exercises and running sprints, there's nothing wrong with the slow and steady exercise of walking.  Think of it this way: our ancestors were hunters and gatherers who migrated across the land in search of food.  How did they get from one place to another?  Walking, of course!

I'm a walker - always have been, always will be.  As long as I have something to keep my mind busy, like music, podcasts or even some Old Time Radio shows, I can walk and walk and walk until my legs finally fall off. 

Between the kids and work, I don't get a lot of exercise time these days.  Yes, I could pop them into our big stroller and stroll around the neighborhood but that's about all I can do - stroll.  When I walk, really WALK, I like to do long distances and intervals of different speeds, walking at a brisk pace to a certain point and then walking slower for a bit, then faster, etc etc.  It really gets the heart going.  Hard to do that with a 70+ lb stroller that is a (insert curse word here) to get up and down the curbs in my neighborhood.

So, what can a Single Mama do?  Well, number one is I don't stress about it - the stress will only kill me off early.  And secondly, I exercise when I can.  I lift my toddler (around 35-40 lbs)  often - Mama's little kettlebell - and play a rousing game of "tickle monster" whenever I need to break up the boredom. 

Most importantly, I take the time when I kid-less to get my exercise in.  For the last few weeks, I've been getting up early (7 AM-ish) one morning a weekend and taking a long walk.  Sometimes, when I feel adventurous, I drive up to one of the local nature preserves for a quick hike.  But most times, I stick to walking around my neighborhood - 1 lap around the circumference of my neighborhood equals 1.5 miles.  Yes, it's quite a distance but as long as I have my ipod to keep me company, it goes by pretty quickly.

As I walked out the door last Saturday, I decided, "I'm going to walk until my legs start complaining."  I turned on some music and started walking.  It wasn't until the end of the third lap that my legs started to complain.

Total distance walked this week - 4.5 miles.  Wow... 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Which Is More Trashy - Paleo or SAD?

Being a family of three, with one kid still in diapers (ok, pullups...but we're working on it!), I sometimes wonder how our trash output stands up to those families that eat the SAD (Standard American Diet). 

On average, we fill the kitchen trash (the main trashcan in our small apartment) and the recycle bin (a small laundry basket) in about 6 days.  I catch myself sometimes analyzing how we can reduce our trash output even more.  I mean, we don't eat processed foods, so that takes care of a lot of trash right there - no packaging on an apple, right?  ;-)  I recycle everything I can.  The only thing left would be to start a compost bin but considering that I don't have a yard, the soil would just go to waste.

And then I noticed something interesting...  Now, let me start off with the fact that I'm not typically a nosy neighbor.  I'm not spying on them, okay?  It's just that my desk, where I spend every afternoon working, is under a window that looks out onto the main walkway to the carports and trash dumpsters.  So, I can't help but notice that every other day my neighbor walks by with a full kitchen trash bag in his hands.

I don't feel so bad now....   ;-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How To - Make Chicken Broth

My 12 lbs of chicken legs - Yum!
I cooked 12 lbs of chicken leg quarters this last Saturday.  Yes, I precook my chicken.  This just makes life easier for me.  As dinnertime rolls around, I don't have to wait an hour for the chicken to cook  - just grab a bag from the freezer and use it in whatever dish I want.  

Best of all, I can make chicken broth right then and there instead of collecting and freezing bones throughout the month.  I really don't want that in my freezer....EW!  (I'm really wary about anything that has to do with chicken and salmonella.)

As Mark at Mark's Daily Apple recently blogged about, homemade broth rocks. Not only does it taste great and provides lots of nutrition, but it also is cheap and easy to make.  One of my quickest, and most filling, meals is garlic-chicken soup, made with homemade broth and pre-cooked chicken. ;-)

So, I thought I'd make a little photo "how to" on how I make my chicken broth, for those "broth virgins" out there


Meat on left / bones on right
Step One: Find enough chicken bones to fill 1/3 of your stock pot.

I buy chicken leg quarters from the local Asian market (usually 69 cents / lb), roast them in the oven and then strip the meat off, leaving the skins, bones and anything else inedible for the stock pot.

The same store sells frozen chicken bones (89 cents/lb) which I have used when I have enough chicken in the freezer but ran out of broth.  If you do go this route, I suggest roasting the bones in the oven until they just begin to char a bit - it adds a more "depth" to the flavor.

My 12 lbs of chicken legs gave me 4.5 lbs of chicken meat and enough bones to make 2 batches of chicken broth.


Vegetables for the stock
Step Two:  Roughly slice up 2 onions, 2 carrots and 2 celery ribs and toss on top of bones in stock pot.  Add in garlic to taste - I toss in a couple tablespoons or 3 cloves.

Don't worry about being precise about cutting - I usually do it in chunks.  My method is to cook the broth long and low, so by the end, even large chunks of vegetables are cooked through and mush.


Step Three: Fill pot with water until you reach within 1/2 to 1" of the top.  


Heating up....
Step Four:  Place on stove and turned heat up to high until it's just about to boil and then turn it down to low.

You DO NOT want this to come to a boil...not even a simmer.  If it does boil, you get an icky film at the top that requires a lot of skimming...and to me, well, a slow-cooked broth and a "speed broth" taste different.

You  might think, "Oh, this is going to take forever to heat up...look at all that water!"  But let me tell you from experience, it can happen a lot faster than you expected.

My trick - I keep it on high until I can't put my finger in it.  Yeah, I know, it's crazy but it does work.  Then I turn it down to low, put the top on and walk away....  Yes, walk away. 


After 12+ hours of brewing
Step Five: Let it cook on low for 12 hours minimum.  Typically, I start this in the morning and let it cook throughout the day.  Let me tell house smells fabulous  on chicken cooking days.  A friend walked into my house last weekend and told me, "It smells like Thanksgiving in here." 

This pic is how it looks after 12+ hours of brewing on my stove top.


Strainer and bowl ready to go....
Step Six: Carefully Strain.

This stuff is hot molten lava at this point so be very very careful when pouring.  I've splattered myself many times while doing this and let me tell you, it hurts!  And as always, pour AWAY from yourself, not towards, okay?


Finished Product - Broth
Step Seven: Pour into a heat-safe container and refrigerate overnight.

See all that yellow stuff at the top?  That's chicken fat.  As it sits undisturbed in the cold fridge, the fat will rise to the top and solidify.  By the time you take it out in the morning, it will be hard enough for you to easily scrap off and either toss or save This is the stuff that Schmaltz is made out of - you just have to boil it to get rid of any water and then store in a air-tight container in the fridge.  Some people use it for cooking while others use it as spread.


Frozen bags of chickeny goodness.  ;-)
Step Eight: Use within 3 days or freeze for later use.  

I freeze mine in meal-size portions using small freezer bags.  Though take a tip from me - when you freeze then, make sure you lay them flat.  Otherwise, you get some interesting shapes that don't stack well.  Misshaped blocks of chicken broth have cause many a freezer avalanche in my house.  ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Kids and Paleo

A couple facts:
  • I've been doing Paleo for the last 6 months or so. 
  • I have 2 kids (3 and 5 years old).
  • No, these do not mix well...but I try!

When I started this way of eating, I was never under the assumption that my kids were going to be 100% Paleo too.  That sort of expectation adds stress to any family, never mind a single-mother-working-from-home sort of chaos our house can be sometimes.  I allowed them their cereal every morning, a sandwich at lunch, wheat crackers and milk products (milk, yogurt and cheese) for snacks.  They were allowed some treats but they were rare - usually homemade and gluten-free so I could enjoy them too.

But, as time passed, things changed.  My knowledge of Paleo grew as our food budget shrunk.  I had to be more selective about where our limited food moneys went.  The cereal was the first to go, replaced by more blood-sugar-stabilizing eggs and fruit in the morning.  Then crackers and cookies were slashed out.  Thankfully, neither of these were missed at all.  And just recently, I cut most dairy out, except for string cheese - easy snack.

That's when I discovered something - as I dropped gluten and dairy from their diet, my daughter's "tummy issues" began to disappear.  With some experimentation, I was able to verify that yes, her system doesn't like gluten either.  The moment she was held to a low-dairy, low-gluten diet, her system settled down and all was happy again.

So, you may be asking, "Well, what do your kids eat then?"

My answer: 
  • protein (eggs, beef, chicken, etc), 
  • fruits, 
  • vegetables (yes, my kids eat vegetables!),
  • fats.  
  • Snacks include air-popped popcorn, string cheese, nuts, all-natural gluten-free granola bars, fruit and vegetables.

They do still get a bit of gluten every day in the form of one sandwich - my son is a HUGE Peanut Butter and Jelly fan and I just can't take that away from him.  Yes, I know there's gluten-free breads out there but really, have seen the price tag on those lately?  Oy! 

A typical kids' menu is this:

  • Breakfast (8 AM) - eggs and fruit
  • Lunch (11 AM) - sandwich, fruit, vegetables.
  • Snack (between 2 and 3 PM) - they usually get a choice between popcorn, cheese, nuts, or fruit.
  • Dinner (between 5 and 6 PM) - whatever I'm eating (meat and veggie) along with a piece of fruit
  • Bedtime Snack (7:30-ish) - optional - depends on how they ate that day.  If they acted hungry and ate everything, or we had a really early dinner, I let them have a snack.  If they didn't eat much dinner, then no bedtime snack.
I'm still playing with this a bit to see where I can improve on nutrition.  The good news is I've been seeing some good results.  Not only has her "tummy issues" calmed down but my once "failure to thrive" daughter is getting some meat, in the form of muscle, on her skinny bones, which is nice to see.  Both kids are growing like weeds and are quite happy...what more can I ask for?  ;-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Drops in the US???

I made breakfast this morning (fried eggs, banana, leftover broccoli) and sat down at my desk to peruse my RSS reader while I ate.  When I ran across this article on SlashFood, I almost choked on my mouthful of broccoli: U.S. Turns Up Its Collective Nose to Fruits and Vegetables.

"The state-by-state analysis found that, overall, only about a third of American adults consume two or more servings of fruit per day, while just over a quarter eat three or more servings of vegetables."

"What's worse is that the study found that there's been no statistical increase during the past decade in vegetable consumption, while fruit consumption has actually fallen slightly."

So, if we're not eating fruits and vegetables, then what are we eating?  My guess: lots and lots of processed foods.  No wonder diabetes, high BP, high cholesterol and heart disease runs rampant in our communities! 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My Shopping Trip - Sept 18th

Every other Saturday, I do my "major shopping".  That's when I buy my staples for the next two weeks.  This week, I had to really stock up since the freezer AND fridge were getting pretty empty.

I thought I'd document my typical "grocery" run, for those that might be interested in what a normal "paleo shopping trip" is:

Target: ($28.24)

My grocery shopping always starts off with a run to the big Target in Sunnyvale.  It's not the closest Target to me but for some reason their prices are always cheaper.  This is where I buy my eggs ($1.19/dozen), frozen vegetables ($1 to 1.19/lb) and bread for the kids ($1.25/loaf).  This week, they didn't have any "california blend" vegetables (broc, cauliflower, carrots) mixes, which is one of my favorites.  Instead, I bought spinach - something different for us - along with our usual broccoli.

Sprouts Farmer's Market: ($37.52)

Since the grocery store ads sucked this week, I ended up stopping at the produce market near Target for my fruit and vegetables.  They had some great sales.  I probably bought a bit too much for us (HA!) but I just couldn't resist.  This is the time of the year where many fruits and vegetables are in season and cheap - I enjoy it while I can.

Today's basket included:
  • Bananas (69 cents/lb - my son was on a banana binge last week so I bought extras)
  • Apples (88 cents / lb)
  • 2 cucumbers (69 cents each)
  • 4 cauliflower  (88 cents / head)
  • Peaches  (49 cents / lb)
  • broccoli crowns (88 cents / lb - we'll eat these before the frozen stuff)
  • Brussels Sprouts ($1.60/lb)
  • Tomatoes (88 cents / lb)
  • Pears (99 cents / lb)
  • 4 cantaloupes (88 cents each -can you tell they like the number 88?)

Asian Market:  ($13.16)

We're almost out of chicken, so I stopped by the asian market down the street from my apartment to buy chicken leg quarters (69 cents / lb), celery (39 cents / lb), and carrots (39 cents / lb).  We always have carrots and celery in the house - I slice them up for quick snacks - but on "chicken cooking weekends", I buy extra to go into the chicken broth...but that's another blog entry.  ;-)

I love love love how dark green that celery was this morning!  I don't think the camera did it any justice.

TOTAL:  just under $80

So, all in all, a good shopping trip. These 3 stops took me about 2 hours to complete, door-to-door, which is really good for me.  Best of all, this, along with the 10 lbs of ground beef and oils (coconut and olive) I bought 2 weeks ago, will easily last us the next two weeks.

Now, yes, that's a lot of fruits and vegetables.  Usually, I buy enough for one week and then refill the crisper with fresh stuff  the following weekend.  But looking at this week's schedule, I noticed that I will be busy next Saturday morning.  So, instead, I bought a wide array of produce, some of which have a short shelf life (peaches / cantaloupes) and some that will easily last the full 2 weeks (apples and pears).  This helps me to not only space out the fruit but also gives us some variety - I get bored eating apples and pears all the time.  And really, this is the time to really enjoy the bounty, right?  ;-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

When the Grocery Ads Suck

Once ever 6 weeks or so, the ads for my two local grocery chains suddenly go "pro-processed / anti-fresh foods".  For that one week, there are barely any fruit or vegetables (F&V) on sale.  Yes, there are still F&V in the ad but they're no where near "sale price".  I mean, come on!  $2.50/lb for non-organic apples?  During apple season?????

This is one of those weeks.  *sigh*  Grocery shopping tomorrow (Sat) is going to be "fun".

Most people I know shrug it off, "Oh well.  I saved money the last 5 weeks.  I just won't buy as much this week."  This option just doesn't work for me.  Our diet includes a lot of F&V - fruit is an important carb for my kids' diet.  Anyway, I like buy fresh every week to ensure we're eating nutritionally dense items - not stuff that's been wilting in my crisper for the last 2 weeks.

When my store ads suck, or I need to fill in some nutritional holes, I seek out other options like:
  • ethnic markets - the local Asian and Indian stores have some great vegetables.  Best of all, they have a huge turnover so it's fresh.  I don't buy fruit's usually half-rotten - I don't know why.  
  • produce market - there's a good one in the next town over.  They sometimes have good deals but I try not to depend on them completely for my F&V needs anymore.  I've noticed that their prices swing around a lot, depends on supply and demand and most times, the grocery chain ads beat them out.  I usually pick over their fruit selection and get just enough to get us through the week.

Bye-Bye Grains!

Source: Tambako

The hardest part of this diet for me was dropping grains.  I was already eating protein, fruits and vegetables, but always with a side of rice or wheat-based something.  I loved loved loved curry and I always used plenty of rice to stretch out that great tasting sauce across a few meals.  Bread was my best friend at lunch...and who couldn't pass up those "6 for $1" sale on corn during the summer?
The problem was the damn migraines.  Shortly After giving birth to my son 3 years ago, I started getting horrible migraines.  At first they happened every once in a while, but over time they ramped up in frequency and intensity until finally, I was getting them almost every other day.  Stupid headaches...

It was back in December when I stumbled across a tiny article about a food study that showed wheat could cause migraines in some people.  I had tried a lot of other things to decrease my headaches and nothing had worked.  I decided, "What do I have to lose?" so I dropped wheat from my diet.  Almost instantly, the headaches decreased.  Relief!  And yes, I tested it - I'd go wheat free for a week and then have a bit of wheat only to wake up the next day with a killer headache. 

With the discovery that "wheat = poison".  I could walk past the donuts place without drooling.  I could easily ignore the dessert menu - most have wheat in them.  Best of all, the nearly-constant sugar cravings slacked off.

Source Sasakei
As time progressed, I decided to kick more grains out of my diet.  I realized that I felt better when I didn't eat them.  Weight loss improved and I had energy again!  But the moment I had corn or rice, I'd feel like .... well, you know.  :-(  And I thought, "If I can drop wheat so easily, I can drop corn and rice and over grains."   Yeah right. 

The problem is...I LOVE corn, especially corn on the cob with lots of butter.  This is the season of "corn"...when it's super cheap in the stores.  It was hard to walk past the "6 for $1" sale at the store last week...telling myself the whole way "The kids don't like corn on the cob.  You'll end up eating it all.  It's just going to make you feel like crap.  LEAVE IT!"

So, as you can see, I still have some "food demons" to slay.  Battle on!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dinner Tonight - 09/15/2010

I was digging through the pantry cupboard today and discovered a forgotten bag of green lentils...and instantly, I knew what we were going to have for dinner: Split Pea Soup.  Yeah, it's not really Paleo but ever since the weather turned cool last week, I've been in the mood for soup.  And what better way to use up the homemade vegetable broth I made last week, along with all of the "interesting looking " (aka - close to rotting) vegetables in the crisper.

My dinner tonight included:
  • Split Pea Soup with a hearty drizzle of olive oil on top
  • Broccoli (frozen from Target)
The kids ate:
  • Split Pea Soup (this was the first time they'd ever had and they LOVED it)
  • Broccoli
  • half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with extra PB for the fat and protein)
  • half a pear
I had 1.5 small bowls of soup tonight (probably equating about 2 cups) and loved every bite of it. I think the veggie broth brought over the edge from good to "spectacular".  Once the leftovers cook, I'm going to bag them up in freezer bags and toss them in the freezer for the next time I start craving a hearty soup.  ;-)

Weight Loss on Paleo Diet - My Results

Source: GenBug
A friend stopped by Saturday to wish me a happy birthday.  I hadn't seen her in 3 months or so, so it was a big surprise to me.  She walked into my apartment, took one look at me and said, "Where did the rest of you go!  My god, you've lost a lot of weight!"

This is a common reaction these days.  I haven't lost a lot of pounds in the last 3 months (about 10 lbs) but I have been losing inches.  I'm not complaining, believe me!  I love pulling on my size 16 pants and finding them loose.  In January of this year, I barely fit into my size 22 shorts.  This last weekend, a friend had to tailor down those same shorts so they'd fit me again.  She took 5.5" off.the waist and hips!  5.5 INCHES!

It feels weird to be eating so well, not counting calories or points...and still be losing weight!  I'm never hungry and if I am, I go eat something!  Simple, huh?  The strangest thing is that I don't do any exercise...well, except for playing with my kids and daily general activity.  In the last 6 months, I've realized that the moment I do any exercise, my weight loss stalls out.  Crazy, huh? 

So, as of today, I've lost 35-40 lbs (I've been gaining and losing the same 5 lbs for the last 4 weeks or so but lost 2 inches around my waist during that same time) and sit somewhere between a size 14 and 16 in pants.  Best of all, my blood pressure has dropped 20 points in the last 4 months.  That's HUGE for me...I've been battling HBP for the last 10 years and this is the first time my BP is always normal while not on medication  Yeah!!!!

But you know the one thing about weight loss that sucks?  I'm gonna have to replace my whole wardrobe.  *sigh*  I hate clothes shopping....especially when I don't have any money!  Grrrr...  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthday Dinner, semi-paleo style!

Source: Jessica Diamond
Saturday was my birthday.  I'm the big 33 now.  It's not a huge deal for me - I'm at that age where it's just another year gone.  I have other things to worry about than my age, thank you!  ;-)

Since I had the kids that weekend, I decided to make a nice birthday dinner to celebrate. The menu included:

  • Hamburger Patties (no buns) - I added lots of veggies to the patties to stretch the meat over a couple days.
  • Homemade French Fries fried in coconut oil. - Yum!  A seriously special treat for all of us since it takes a time to make and there's a oily mess to clean up afterwards.  
  • Cantaloupe
  • Steamed Cauliflower with Ghee (clarified butter)
I didn't want to go through the hassle (or expense) of  a gluten-free cake, so instead we had gluten-free brownies.  I had found the mix on the Target clearance rack a few months ago and squirrelled 2 away for "a special occasion.  Well, 33rd birthday is a special occasion!  I topped it off with some lightly sugared meringue (whipped egg whites) which was just delish!  Loved the brownies...we polished them off Sunday night while watching Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS.

So, all in all, a good birthday!  ;-)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Drinking on a Paleo Diet

What do you drink while eating like a caveman?  It's simple - keep it natural.  For me, that's water, freshly brewed tea and coffee.  No sodas (I used to be a heavy Diet Coke drinker so this is big for me), no juice (too much sugar), nothing with more than 3 ingredients.  Some people drink milk but if you're lactose intolerant like me, skip it.

Source: Motograf
In our house, we drink a lot of homemade iced green tea.  My kids and I go through a large 2-gal pitcher a day - and you know what?  They love it!

Now, I've had some people act shocked when they find out I feed my kids green tea.  Come on, guys!  We're not talking about that strong black tea you find in the Lipton bags but rather the lower-caffeinated green tea.  It's mild, can be dressed up with simple flavorings (sometimes I toss in a Celestial Seasonings herbal tea bag to add some zing), and best of all, it has lots of antioxidants to keep everyone happy and healthy.

What I love the most about switching the kids to green tea is that it's super cheap!  I buy 100-bag boxes of green tea at my local Asian store for around $2-3 a box.  Much cheaper than the bottles of 100% juice, which average between $2.50 to 5 per small bottle!

When I switched the kids over six months ago, I quickly realized that I would be making tea often - once a day on average.  So, to make things easier, I started cold-brewing our tea..  If you took a peek in my fridge today, you'd find this sitting in the way back recesses of the top shelf:

This is a carafe from a coffeemaker I had years ago.  The coffee machine died but the carafe lives on as my tea brewer.  I toss six tea bags in there and fill with cold water.  Yes, cold water.  Then I place the carafe in the fridge.

Simple, huh?

It usually takes 24 hours before it's at full strength, which works out great for our tea-drinking schedule. When I need to make tea, I pour the "tea concentrate" into the big blue pitcher, top off with cold water and add any sweetener (usually a little bit of homemade simple sugar syrup).  Then I washed out the coffee carafe and start another batch of "tea concentrate".

This saves me a lot of time and energy.  I don't have to heat up the kettle nor deal with cooling down hot liquids with either ice or a long timeout in the fridge.  What I like the most is the taste of the tea when it's made this way - it's less bitter and seems to be more complex.

So, don't be afraid to go natural when it comes to your drinks.  Your body will be happy!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get another cup of tea.  ;-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Basics - Making the Paleo Diet Affordable

If you visited this site and read their definition of the Paleo Diet, you'd think that going paleo is expensive, especially when you read:
"Wild game meat would be the ideal, but grass-fed meat is used as a practical substitute. The grass-fed is needed to get the proper balance of Omega 3 (from green plants) and Omega 6 (from seeds) fatty acids"
If you've ever priced "grass-fed beef", that statement would give you a small heart attack...or make your wallet sob in pain.  In my area (San Francisco Bay Area, California), grass-fed beef can easily be double or triple the conventional beef available in your local grocery store.  Then add in the cost of organic nuts, fruits and vegetables and your grocery bill can easily rival the national debt.

Source - AlwaysBreaking
Well, I'm here to tell you you don't have to buy grass-fed and organic to be considered a caveman!!!

((You hear that sound?  That's the Paleo Community gasping in shock.))

But it's true!  You don't have to go into debt to eat well.

Here are my tips for saving money when going Paleo:

  1. Shop Around- Don't depend on one store to provide all of your food needs.  Some stores will have better prices on certain items.  Don't be afraid to shop around!  
  2. Use Technology - I have an price book app on my iTouch that tracks prices for me.  I enter the name, price and unit (number of ounces, for example) and it will sort everything by unit price.  So, for example, for peanut butter, I have prices for different brands and sizes from various stores in my area.  The app calculates the "unit price" and sorts them so I know that Target has the cheapest price.  I can also quickly see if a "sale price" in a flier is actually a sale price or a regular price in disguise.
  3. Check Out the Department Stores - I buy my eggs (1.19/dzn) and the kids' lunchtime bread ($1/loaf) from Target.  Yes, Target has the cheapest eggs in my area - surprising, huh?
  4. Skip the Grass-Fed / Cage-Free  / Organic If You Can't Afford It - I know if I went that way, I'd easily blow through my whole food budget ($225 / month for a family of three) in 2 weeks.  So, instead, I  find the best bang for my buck, which means having to skip all that mumbo-jumbo.  At this point, it's more important that we EAT than stay politically correct.
  5. Go Ethnic - I get the best prices on vegetables at the local Indian stores and the Asian store down the street usually has the best sale prices on chicken and ground beef / pork.  Don't feel subconscious when you walk  into places like that.  Your money is as good as anyone else's.  Remember - usually these stores are locally owned.  You'll be supporting your neighbor by buying your groceries  there!
  6. Shop the Fliers - Every Weds, my postman drops off the week's grocery fliers.  I spend 10 minutes checking protein and produce prices and noting what to buy where on Saturday morning (I run all of my errands Saturday morning to cut down on gas costs).  I only buy what's on sale and am careful not to double up on stuff I already have.
  7. Don't Be Afraid To Buy In Bulk - When the price is right, grab enough to keep you stocked for a few weeks (or until you expect the stuff to go bad).  For example, when a local store had 5 lb bags of apples for $3.50, I bought two because I knew 1) we eat through apples pretty quickly and 2) apples seem to last forever.  I buy 5 lbs each of ground beef and ground pork at a time - usually when it's under $2/lb - portion it out into 3/4 lb amounts and freeze it for later use.  (That usually lasts us about 2 months.)
  8. Eat Seasonally - What ever is in season is usually the cheapest in the stores.  
  9. Buy Frozen - Check out the frozen food section of your grocer and department store.  We eat a lot frozen vegetables (Target usually has them for around $1/lb) and I've sometimes found good prices on fish, chicken and meat hiding in there.
  10. Use Everything! -  When I buy bone-in chicken leg quarters, I usually cook it right away in one big batch, de-bone it and then freeze the meat in 2-meals-size portions.  Then I can use the bones to make a mineral-rich chicken broth to be frozen for later use (but that's another blog entry).  When I trim off the tops of carrots or the ends of celery, I toss the ends into a container in the freezer to be used the next time I make broth.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Basics - What is the Paleo Diet?

Image Source: Beautification Syndrome
Before we get into the whole "money" side of our diet, let's discuss what the Paleo Diet is.

The Paleo Diet (aka Neolithic diet, hunter-gatherer diet, caveman diet, Stone Age diet) tries to emulate how our ancient ancestors are in the Paleolithic era.  These people were hunter-gatherers who lived off the land, eating meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, vegetables and fruit.  The Paleolithic era is pre-agricultural revolution so grains, dairy, beans, sugar, potatoes and all processed foods are typically abstained from.

There seems to be many different definitions as to what you can and can't eat.  If you google "Paleo Diet" you'll get many sites, all telling you something different.  One says you can eat eggs while another does not.  One site will tell you canola oil is okay to eat while the other tells you to eat Coconut oil.

When people ask me how I lost my weight, I tell them openly about Paleo and then sent them to Modern Paleo Principles, which gives a great overview of the diet.  Using those guidelines, you can tweak the diet to suit your needs and food preferences.

Most importantly, you have to listen to your body.  You may discover that your body doesn't like a certain food.  Well, then don't eat it!  I love to eat nuts but I've come to discover that they cause bloating and gas, so I stopped eating them.  Listen to your body - I can't express that enough! - and do what's best for you.

I've included my "Cave Rules" so you may see what I eat.  It is in no way a 100% Paleo diet.  Some things have been included and some excluded because of my body or taste preferences:


Anne's Cave Rules:
  • Meat/Chicken/Pork
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Fats (butter / coconut oil / olive oil)
Eat Sparingly:
  • Potatoes (these aren't paleo but every once in a while I like to have fried potatoes)
  • Sugar (I rarely partake except once a month - girls, you know what I mean!)
  • Oats (I know - not paleo - but it's a good replacement in those recipes that require bread crumbs like meatloaf which I like to have once in a while)
  • Pre-made Sauces (I *heart* BBQ sauce)
Do Not Eat!!!:
  • Gluten / grains
  • Nuts (these are paleo but my tummy doesn't like them)
  • Beans
  • Processed Foods

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What's for Dinner - 9/5/2010

***  I hope to make this a regular feature of my blog but there's no guarantee!!!  ***

Tonight's dinner menu includes:
  • BBQ Chicken (I bought and cooked 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters last month - 50 cents / lb)
  • Steamed broccoli with olive oil and fresh-ground black pepper (from Target's frozen section - 1.19/lb)
  • Cantaloupe (bought at Safeway last week  for 69 cents each)
Dessert (around 8 PM) - apple with peanut butter (one of my favorite snack and super satisfying too!)


Kid's Dinner:  they're  eating the same thing as me but with the addition of raisins, sliced carrots (leftover from their lunch) and nuts.


Hi there!  My name is Anne and I'm a cavewoman.  OK, maybe not an actual cavewoman but I try my best to eat like one.  My family and I follow the Paleo Diet, which focuses on eating mainly meat/chicken/fish, eggs, veggies, fruits and fats.  No dairy. No wheat. No rice. No grains.

I've been slowly de-evolving our diet since January when I realized wheat was causing my chronic migraines.  These headaches plagued me for 3 long years, increasing slowly in ferocity and frequency until I had brain-crushing headaches almost every other day.  When I dropped wheat from my diet, there was an almost immediate change in how I felt.  I had more energy, my sleep cycle regulated, and, most importantly, the headaches were completely gone within 3 weeks.  Even better, I lost 25 lbs.

As time progressed, I began to listen to my body and notice how it reacted to certain foods.  I felt better when I ate whole, unprocessed foods like meat, fruit, and vegetables.  Every time I ate rice or other non-wheat grains, my mood and energy levels would dip.  So, I tweaked my diet, dumping processed foods, beans, rice, and grains from my diet and centering more on the foods that helped me feel better.

A few months ago, I stumbled across a blog entry that described the Paleo Diet.  I was amazed to see that my current eating habits closely aligned with the Paleo Ideals.  Who knew???  So, from that point on, I decided to go the final mile and follow the Paleo Diet.  It wasn't much of a stretch and to tell you the truth, it was super easy.  I mean, all the hard work was over - I had already abstained from wheat, grains, and many other items items on the do-not-eat list.

All this work seems to be paying off.  I've lost 40 lbs and around 5.5" around my waist (I know because I just had a friend take in a couple pairs of shorts).  I have enough energy to get through the day - no more 2 PM slumps - and I need less coffee in the morning to get going.  This is a sustainable dietary change for me - something I can follow easily for a lifetime.

I've read a lot of paleo blogs since I discovered the diet.  Some have great tips and ideas for meals but not many of them take into account cost.  I've had too many people ask me, "How can you afford eating like that?  Isn't that expensive?"  I'm here to say no, it's not expensive, as long as you're willing to shop around, eat seasonally, and go with the flow when it comes to food.