The Paleo Mama

Nurturing & Nourishing My Paleo Family

Archive for the tag “paleo”

The Paleo Mama’s Guide to Dining Out Paleo-style

Outback-Steak

When I started to eat Paleo, I was overwhelmed with where to eat, what to eat, and how to order. In fact, I don’t think we ate out much in the beginning because I didn’t want to stray from our diet. However, as time went on and mommy needed a break from cooking, we ventured out into the world of American chain restaurants and I learned A LOT about food. I remember asking so many questions that the waiter usually had to go ask the cook.

Now, I am easier on myself. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I am not 100% Paleo. I am more like 85% Paleo. The other 15% is covered with lots and lots of grace and the occasional pizza. Dining out seems hard in the Paleo world…but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s my quick guide on what to eat and where to eat.  So GET OUT, stop stressing, and make the best choice you can. Leave room for grace :)

One thing restaurants confuse very often is REAL butter and fake butter. Make sure when you are ordering or eating that you ask for REAL butter. Also, most vegetables are cooked in vegetable oils, which is a no-no eating Paleo. Look for steamed options or request for your food to be cooked in olive oil. Avoid any dishes that have gravy. Gravy is loaded with flour. And when ordering dressings, remember that most are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, so ask for OLIVE oil and vinegar. Please use the word olive. They have, and will bring you out a bottle of canola oil and vinegar.

Always ask for NO SEASONING SALT in restaurants, wherever you go. MSG is added to this, as is sugar.

Also, I’ve learned that steakhouses are the BEST choice. However, I know I get tired of eating at the same places so I wanted to include other restaurants that offer good alternatives.

1) TGI Fridays – Fridays is actually very Paleo-friendly! It is one of the few restaurants where you get to pick your two sides.

Best Salad: The Grilled Chicken Cobb salad is great and you can request no cheese and ask for olive oil and vinegar for dressing.

Best Beef: The “Premium Black Angus Steaks” are great and a good Paleo choice.  Avoid the Jack Daniel dishes if you want to avoid dairy and any other questionable sauces. The burgers are also questionable in my option. Friday’s doesn’t disclose their gluten-free menu, so the burgers “may” have white flour in them. However, you feel like indulging and want a burger, get it…just ask for extra lettuce and eat it between two lettuce leaves.

Best Chicken: can’t recommend one since they are all smothered in sauce and cheese

Best Seafood: Grilled Salmon with Langostino Lobster

2) Outback – Another great Paleo-friendly restaurant! Most steakhouses, for that matter, are! With all orders, ask for vegetables as a side or a baked potato.

Best Salad: The Aussie Cobb Salad, California Chicken Salad, Steakhouse Salad are all great. Just make sure you request only grilled chicken and no croutons.

Best Beef: These steaks (Outback Special, Victoria’s Filet, NY Strip, Ribeye, and Porterhouse) are a great choice and GF according to their menu so you don’t have to worry about weird sauces! The sirloin is the leanest cut. Also, Outback, burgers are 100% beef! So, order that burger if you want, just avoid the bread! Aussie fries come with the burgers so just request a vegetable substitute or indulge in a baked potato.

Best Chicken: Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (ask for them to put their BBQ sauce on the side)

Best Seafood: Norwegian Salmon or Simply Grilled Mahi

3) Applebees – their menu is pretty diverse. Obviously avoid anything that has chips, bread, pasta or is fried.

Best Salad: Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad (ask for olive oil and vinegar as a dressing)

Best Beef: The Ribeye and NY Strip are the only two steaks that aren’t cooked in soybean oil.

Best Chicken:  The Chipotle Lime Chicken is the only chicken dish that doesn’t contain dairy. Ask for a salad substitute for the rice and beans that comes with it.

Best Seafood: Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp or Garlic Herb Salmon

4) Cracker Barrel: Breakfast is always a great option when eating out! Eggs, bacon, ham, sausage is all good Paleo-options.

Best Salad: Grilled Chicken N’ Fresh Vegetable Salad (just hold the corn relish and order olive oil and vinegar for a dressing)

Best Beef: 10oz Rib Eye Steak or the Grilled 8oz Sirloin Steak. The Hamburger Steak is also a great option.

Best Chicken: Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (make sure you specify you want them grilled)

Best Seafood: Grilled Rainbow Trout or the Grilled Catfish

5) P.F. Chang’s – I love P.F. Chang’s and they have lots of great options!

Best Starter: Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps or Egg Drop Soup

Best Beef: none I can recommend

Best Chicken: Quite a few chicken dishes are listed on their gluten-free menu: Moo Goo Gai Pan, Ginger Chicken with Broccoli, Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken, Chang’s Spicy Chicken,  and Dali Chicken. I should note that just because they are on the gluten-free menu, does not mean they are 100% Paleo. They are however a much better choice.

Best Seafood: Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Chang’s Lemon Scallops, Catonese Shrimp or Scallops, and Wild Alaskan Salmon Steamed with Ginger

6) Red Lobster

Best Salad: Cobb Salad or Bar Harbor Salad with your choice of meat and without croutons. Ask for olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Best Beef: Center-Cut NY Strip Steak -ask for your steak to be broiled without marinades or sauces

Best Chicken: most their chicken meals have sauces. You may request to have a broiled chicken without a sauce or marinade

Best Seafood: North Pacific King Crab Legs, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Snow Crab Legs, and Live Maine Lobster – ask for all these dishes to be steamed and served with melted butter (make sure it’s real butter)

7) Chili’s

Best Salad: Dinner House Salad – ask for no croutons and olive oil and vinegar dressing

Best Beef: Cajun Ribeye, Guiltless Carne Asada Steak, Flame Grilled Ribeye, or the Classic Sirloin – ask for no savory steak butter as this contains gluten. If you want a burger, the Bacon Burger or the Old time Burger (ask for no bun or onion strings) are good choices and listed as being gluten-free.

Best Chicken: none I can recommended

Best Seafood: Guiltless Grilled Salmon or the Salmon with Garlic & Herbs

8) Cheesecake Factory

Best Salad: Cobb Salad, Herb-Crusted Salmon, or any of their Weight Management Salads. Make sure you ask for no crispy noodles, beans, corn, or cheese on them. Also order olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Best Beef: Grilled Rib-Eye Steak and Filet Mignon are good steak choices. You will need to ask for them to hold the onion rings andorder a salad or other veggie side dish.

Best Chicken: Weight Management Grilled Chicken or Grilled Chicken Medallions. Ask for no white rice but extra veggies instead.

Best Seafood: Fresh Grilled Salmon or Fresh Grilled Mahi Mahi

9) Jimmy John’s – this is one of my favorite places to eat out! Get the sandwich you want, avoiding cheese if you wish, and any other questionable sauces and have them make it “Unwich” style. They wrap the sandwich all up in a lettuce wrap and it’s still oh-so delish!

10) Moes & Chipotle – this is another place I love eating at. Tell them you want a burrito bowl and just pile on the meat, veggies, guacamole, and salsa! Chipotle also advertises that their meat is hormone free!

…seriously…stop stressing. Life is short.

The Paleo Mama's Guide to Dining Out Paleo-style

Outback-Steak

When I started to eat Paleo, I was overwhelmed with where to eat, what to eat, and how to order. In fact, I don’t think we ate out much in the beginning because I didn’t want to stray from our diet. However, as time went on and mommy needed a break from cooking, we ventured out into the world of American chain restaurants and I learned A LOT about food. I remember asking so many questions that the waiter usually had to go ask the cook.

Now, I am easier on myself. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I am not 100% Paleo. I am more like 85% Paleo. The other 15% is covered with lots and lots of grace and the occasional pizza. Dining out seems hard in the Paleo world…but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s my quick guide on what to eat and where to eat.  So GET OUT, stop stressing, and make the best choice you can. Leave room for grace :)

One thing restaurants confuse very often is REAL butter and fake butter. Make sure when you are ordering or eating that you ask for REAL butter. Also, most vegetables are cooked in vegetable oils, which is a no-no eating Paleo. Look for steamed options or request for your food to be cooked in olive oil. Avoid any dishes that have gravy. Gravy is loaded with flour. And when ordering dressings, remember that most are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, so ask for OLIVE oil and vinegar. Please use the word olive. They have, and will bring you out a bottle of canola oil and vinegar.

Always ask for NO SEASONING SALT in restaurants, wherever you go. MSG is added to this, as is sugar.

Also, I’ve learned that steakhouses are the BEST choice. However, I know I get tired of eating at the same places so I wanted to include other restaurants that offer good alternatives.

1) TGI Fridays – Fridays is actually very Paleo-friendly! It is one of the few restaurants where you get to pick your two sides.

Best Salad: The Grilled Chicken Cobb salad is great and you can request no cheese and ask for olive oil and vinegar for dressing.

Best Beef: The “Premium Black Angus Steaks” are great and a good Paleo choice.  Avoid the Jack Daniel dishes if you want to avoid dairy and any other questionable sauces. The burgers are also questionable in my option. Friday’s doesn’t disclose their gluten-free menu, so the burgers “may” have white flour in them. However, you feel like indulging and want a burger, get it…just ask for extra lettuce and eat it between two lettuce leaves.

Best Chicken: can’t recommend one since they are all smothered in sauce and cheese

Best Seafood: Grilled Salmon with Langostino Lobster

2) Outback – Another great Paleo-friendly restaurant! Most steakhouses, for that matter, are! With all orders, ask for vegetables as a side or a baked potato.

Best Salad: The Aussie Cobb Salad, California Chicken Salad, Steakhouse Salad are all great. Just make sure you request only grilled chicken and no croutons.

Best Beef: These steaks (Outback Special, Victoria’s Filet, NY Strip, Ribeye, and Porterhouse) are a great choice and GF according to their menu so you don’t have to worry about weird sauces! The sirloin is the leanest cut. Also, Outback, burgers are 100% beef! So, order that burger if you want, just avoid the bread! Aussie fries come with the burgers so just request a vegetable substitute or indulge in a baked potato.

Best Chicken: Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (ask for them to put their BBQ sauce on the side)

Best Seafood: Norwegian Salmon or Simply Grilled Mahi

3) Applebees – their menu is pretty diverse. Obviously avoid anything that has chips, bread, pasta or is fried.

Best Salad: Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad (ask for olive oil and vinegar as a dressing)

Best Beef: The Ribeye and NY Strip are the only two steaks that aren’t cooked in soybean oil.

Best Chicken:  The Chipotle Lime Chicken is the only chicken dish that doesn’t contain dairy. Ask for a salad substitute for the rice and beans that comes with it.

Best Seafood: Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp or Garlic Herb Salmon

4) Cracker Barrel: Breakfast is always a great option when eating out! Eggs, bacon, ham, sausage is all good Paleo-options.

Best Salad: Grilled Chicken N’ Fresh Vegetable Salad (just hold the corn relish and order olive oil and vinegar for a dressing)

Best Beef: 10oz Rib Eye Steak or the Grilled 8oz Sirloin Steak. The Hamburger Steak is also a great option.

Best Chicken: Grilled Chicken Tenderloins (make sure you specify you want them grilled)

Best Seafood: Grilled Rainbow Trout or the Grilled Catfish

5) P.F. Chang’s – I love P.F. Chang’s and they have lots of great options!

Best Starter: Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps or Egg Drop Soup

Best Beef: none I can recommend

Best Chicken: Quite a few chicken dishes are listed on their gluten-free menu: Moo Goo Gai Pan, Ginger Chicken with Broccoli, Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken, Chang’s Spicy Chicken,  and Dali Chicken. I should note that just because they are on the gluten-free menu, does not mean they are 100% Paleo. They are however a much better choice.

Best Seafood: Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Chang’s Lemon Scallops, Catonese Shrimp or Scallops, and Wild Alaskan Salmon Steamed with Ginger

6) Red Lobster

Best Salad: Cobb Salad or Bar Harbor Salad with your choice of meat and without croutons. Ask for olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Best Beef: Center-Cut NY Strip Steak -ask for your steak to be broiled without marinades or sauces

Best Chicken: most their chicken meals have sauces. You may request to have a broiled chicken without a sauce or marinade

Best Seafood: North Pacific King Crab Legs, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Snow Crab Legs, and Live Maine Lobster – ask for all these dishes to be steamed and served with melted butter (make sure it’s real butter)

7) Chili’s

Best Salad: Dinner House Salad – ask for no croutons and olive oil and vinegar dressing

Best Beef: Cajun Ribeye, Guiltless Carne Asada Steak, Flame Grilled Ribeye, or the Classic Sirloin – ask for no savory steak butter as this contains gluten. If you want a burger, the Bacon Burger or the Old time Burger (ask for no bun or onion strings) are good choices and listed as being gluten-free.

Best Chicken: none I can recommended

Best Seafood: Guiltless Grilled Salmon or the Salmon with Garlic & Herbs

8) Cheesecake Factory

Best Salad: Cobb Salad, Herb-Crusted Salmon, or any of their Weight Management Salads. Make sure you ask for no crispy noodles, beans, corn, or cheese on them. Also order olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Best Beef: Grilled Rib-Eye Steak and Filet Mignon are good steak choices. You will need to ask for them to hold the onion rings andorder a salad or other veggie side dish.

Best Chicken: Weight Management Grilled Chicken or Grilled Chicken Medallions. Ask for no white rice but extra veggies instead.

Best Seafood: Fresh Grilled Salmon or Fresh Grilled Mahi Mahi

9) Jimmy John’s – this is one of my favorite places to eat out! Get the sandwich you want, avoiding cheese if you wish, and any other questionable sauces and have them make it “Unwich” style. They wrap the sandwich all up in a lettuce wrap and it’s still oh-so delish!

10) Moes & Chipotle – this is another place I love eating at. Tell them you want a burrito bowl and just pile on the meat, veggies, guacamole, and salsa! Chipotle also advertises that their meat is hormone free!

…seriously…stop stressing. Life is short.

Spanish Burgers with Caramelized Onion & Chile Relish and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Whew, it is a mouthful, but so is this incredible, juicy, decadent burger. This is the burger to impress. Wanna shock the socks off your non-Paleo, skeptical friends? Make this immediately!!!

DSCN6259

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup of thickened coconut milk (the thick part of an unshaken can of coconut milk) or homemade mayo
12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers or roast 3 red peppers beforehand
1 ts. salt
1/2 ts. pepper

DSCN6239

Scoop the thickened coconut milk or the homemade mayo into a blender. Add drained roasted red peppers, salt, and pepper. Process till smooth. Set aside in refrigerator for 30 min. to a few days so flavors can deepen.

Caramelized Onion Chile Relish
2 TB of olive oil
2 large sweet onions, finely diced
16oz of roasted/seeded green chiles
1/2 cup of coconut sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

DSCN6246

Eat 2 TB of olive oil in a pan over low/medium heat. Add the diced onions, salt and pepper. Add green chiles and coconut sugar. Slowly cook for around 15-20 minutes until the onions are soft and are a deep, caramelized color. Set aside.

Burgers
1 1/2lbs of ground beef
1/2lb of chorizo
1 TB of homemade taco seasoning
1 medium onion, finely diced
Portobello caps (optional for “bun”)
optional toppings: tomato, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, homemade mayo, avocado or guacamole, fried egg, pickles and cheese (if you do dairy)

Add all the ingredients to a big bowl. Get in there with your hands and mix everything up. Form into 5-6 patties. We  like to set the raw patties in the fridge to harden up for about 30 minutes before throwing on the grill. Place the burgers on a hot grill and cook to your desired doneness. However, since you are using chorizo, I recommend you cooking them to medium-well (8 minutes per side). If you are grilling the Portobello caps, throw them on and cook about 3-5 minutes per side.

Assemble
Top the burger with caramelized onion relish, roasted red pepper sauce, and another toppings you would like! Put between Portobello caps or 2 big lettuce leaves! ENJOY and feel free to lick the plate!

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Gluten/Sugar/Dairy Free Pie Crust

Thanksgiving morning my mother and I realized we forgot to put a dessert on our menu! We decided to make a my mom’s Pumpkin Pie but we had never had a Paleo pie crust. So, we put our two brains together and made a pretty darn good pie crust! Even my “not-so-Paleo” family members raved about how tasty it was and we have made it a few times since!

The recipe we came up with is too good not to share. I made it again this morning and paired it with Elana’s Pantry Apple Tart. I am in Paleo heaven!

Paleo Pie Crust

1 c. almond flour
¾ c. dessicated coconut
2 TBS. coconut oil
1 egg
Pinch of salt
½ c. chopped walnuts

Directions:

***preheat oven to 350 and grease a pie pan

1) Process almond flour, coconut, and walnuts in a food processor by pulsing until everything becomes crumb-size. Add egg to the food processor and process until mixed in. Then drizzle the coconut oil and process on low until the mixture forms a nice, smooth ball.

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2)Press dough into large size pie pan or 8×8 glass dish. It will press in easier if you use either saran wrap or tinfoil over the mixture and press down on the foil to press evenly around the pan.

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3)Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool five minutes, then add the pie filling or cheese cake mixture and bake according to directions.

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***If you decide to make the Apple Tart: the directions say not to cook the crust first but to cook the apples and the crust all together. So, you don’t need to pre-cook the crust for this recipe***

One Year Paleo!

Apologies for slacking in the blogging sphere! The Holidays were busy, the kids have been sick, and I came down with strep throat AND the stomach flu at the SAME time! Yes, that was miserable, to say the least. So, 3 ER trips later, we are finally back to our healthy selves and mommy is back to her normal self!

I saw on the news today that only 8% of people stick with their New Years resolution of weight loss. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am so proud to say that I am that 8%! Last January, I made a New Years resolution to eat healthy, Paleo foods. I started New Years of 2012 with challenging myself to the Whole30. Whole30 was such a success for me and my husband that we haven’t stopped eating Paleo. We are more tolerant now; I would say we are about 80% Paleo. We leave room for grace and the occasional piece of pizza. :)

I have never stuck with a resolution, especially a weight loss one. However, I was desperate. I had recently given birth to my wonderful son and had also recently lost my younger sister. I was a fat, depressed mess. Comfort food was pouring into our lives and pounds of extra weight started adding to my body. I wanted to love life again. I wanted to chase my kids out in the grass. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin. I desperately reached out to Paleo, praying that this would be the answer.

Thankfully, it was!

I am happy and proud to say that in one year of eating Paleo, I have dropped around 50lbs, I LOVE working out and exercising, I have a ridiculous amount of energy, I keep up with my kids all day long, I have a passion and a ferver for life, and I love inspiring other people to make the same kind of changes.

However, when I talk about this past year and the physical changes that it gave to me, I have to emphasize that the majority of the change happened internally. I’m not sure if it all happened from the inside out like a lot of people say. I think for me it happened from the outside-in. Once I became comfortable in my own skin again, I became more happy

more joyous

and more energetic for each day God brought me.

 

photo

Giveaway Time!!!! PACEout Activewear T-shirt!

In life, everyone needs a pace.

Your pace may change from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, but picking your own pace will ensure a strong finish. Life is not about keeping up with others. It’s about starting and finishing strong because the pace you choose…is your own.

pick your pace…stick to it…you’ll finish!

This is the philosophy behind PACEout. PACEout is a clothingline that carries a wide variety of clothes and accessories for men, women and children. The founder of the company, Tara Baraniak, is a woman who has a passion for motivating people into achieving the goals that they desire.

I work-out at the local YMCA and the colors and different styles of PACEout surrounds me day-to-day! We can all take this philosophy and apply it to our own life. We all have a pace in life. The pace we choose will look different than others. My pace is slower than I would like but I look back at myself 50lbs ago and I don’t even recognize the woman that I was. I was weak. I was uncomforable in my skin. I was depressed. My race started when I heard about Paleo and applied it to my eating. I was transformed and I will never go back!

Tara was amazing enough to give me the shirt that she is sponsoring for this giveaway! …and I do LOVE it!  It’s a longsleeve T-shirt with PACEout written on the sleeve and the PACEout slogan on the back! It fits great and I feel empowered wearing it! It helps me to remember the pace and path that I have chosen!

You pick your own size and color! Winner will be chosen December 5, 2012.

To enter to win this shirt, CLICK THE LINK BELOW: (ps, this is my first time not drawing from a hat so, be patient with me!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

25 of My Favorite Main Dish Paleo Meals

I thought I would put together a list of the recipes that my family loves! These are tried-and-true! We eat these pretty much on a rotation or using whatever meat we have stocked in the freezer!

1) Balsamic Mustard Chicken – This tops my list because this chicken is unbelievable. We serve it over spinach and drizzle the juice over roasted veggies. You have to try this!!!

2) Chicken Nuggets – my kids love this…ok, so do us adults :)

3) Thyme Roast Chicken – I am always looking for whole chicken recipes because I buy whole chicken in bulk when it goes on sale. This chicken is so delicious!

4) Lime Roast Chicken – another whole chicken recipe that my family loves. The juices are so good you can drink them!

5) Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps – this is a recipe that I made Paleo. We love it!

Asian Lettuce Wraps

6) Damn Fine Chicken – OMG, this chicken is so good. We make it with virgin red palm oil.

7) Spicy Caramelized Peach & Leek Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken – whew, yes it’s a long title but it is out of this world! The sauce is delicious!

8) Meat & Spinach Muffins – We love these! They are a great protein to have on hand when you are in a hurry.

Meat & Spinach Muffin on the right

9) Ground Beef Stroganoff - tired of burgers? Give Beef Stroganoff  a try!

10 ) Stuffed Poblano Peppers – these are sooooooo delicious! Not spicy, and our kids eat it!

11) Firecracker Tuna Salad – another amazing recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl!

12) Almond Bread – I know this isn’t a main dish…but this is our go-to bread recipe. It’s the consistancy of cornbread and a great side to any soup or stew! I just had to share it because it’s that time of the year where there’s nothing better than a warm piece of bread and a hot bowl of soup!

13) Creamy Chicken Tomato Crockpot Soup – this is so easy and simple and yet so tasty! I always have lots of bone stock that I make from our whole chicken bones. This soup tops my list!

14) Chicken Noodless Soup – just in time for the chilly months! This soup will warm you to the bones!

15) Paleo Butternut Squash Lasagna – this is soooooooooooooo freakin good! I make it quite often. You won’t even miss the lasagna noodles! Trust me, my Italian husband gobbles this down!

16) Sausage Stuffed Apples – sausage and apple just go perfect together!

17) Apple & Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops – finger licken good! You won’t be disappointed with this. I’ve even make it with chicken breast and it’s just as good!

18) Spinach Stuffed Braciole – mine never comes out pretty, but it tastes amazing! My mom introduced me to this recipe! So good!

19) Pepper Crusted Steak – delicious! We had it over spinach and loved it!

20) Zucchini & Sweet Potato Frittata – we have this for breakfast, for dinner…who cares! It’s so good and I love sweet potato!

21) Scotch Eggs – the Scottish got it right when they created these little boogers! Another great breakfast or quick snack if you are on the go a lot!

22) Bacon Egg Cups – so cute and easy! Great when you are in a rush and need to get ready while the oven cooks for you!

23) Mexican Hash – my husband loves this hash! I use it with ground beef sometimes instead of chorizo and it’s delicious!

24) Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad – ever get that chicken wing craving? This salad will satisfy it!

25) Lemon Garlic Crockpot Chicken – another favorite whole chicken recipe! But this one you can throw in the crockpot and be done with it!

This is my story…

I can sometimes close my eyes and smell my childhood. It smells like freshly raked leaves, chlorine on my bathing suit, sweat that lingers on my skin, and freshly popped cheesy popcorn.

It tastes like Oatmeal Cream Pies, tacos on a Saturday night, and hose water.

I treasure the childhood I had. I spent summer days riding bikes with my sister, Dinah, to faraway lands and magical “secret” places that only we knew about. My sister treasured it too. Five days before the worst day of my life, she wrote a short story for college about a time when we were playing hide-and-seek as kids. She must have treasured it as much as me, for no one can ever take these moments in time away.

I am the middle child. I am the free spirt. My mom sings, “I Hope You Dance” over me because she says the words remind her of me. I’m my Daddy’s little girl. I hold his hand in mine even when my teenage friends could see. I walk with pride standing next to my big brother. He’s huge. Standing at over 6’6″, he stares into the eyes of boys and frightens them away. I smile at him because I’d rather hang out with him, then stupid boys. My sister was always my best friend. We loved hard and we fought even harder. Yet, at the end of the day when we layed down in our beds that shared a room, we always said:

“I’m sorry if I’ve done anything wrong.”

“I forgive you.”

” I’m sorry if I’ve done anything wrong too.”

Every. Single. Night. We didn’t want to die and go to hell for unforgiven sins.

Sometimes we had a line dividing up our bedroom. Other times we slept in the same bed when outside terrors scared us.

Eventually we grew up.

I started college, then became involved in church ministry. Soon, I left for Australia, then to Thailand for a year of missionary work. My passion became showing women how beautiful they are. Thailand changed me forever. I talked to prostitutes and taught them English. I helped a center that gave them a chance to come out of prostitution by choosing to learn a trade. I bought them out of bars for a night of fun and feasting.

Life became hard there by myself. I came home.

I went to massage school and became a licensed massage therapist and worked on completing my bachelors degree.

During this time I met and married the man of my dreams who I met in the most unique way…online! He, since, has given me two beautiful children and fulfilled my greatest purpose in life of being a mother.

Now I am reliving my childhood through my two children. Nothing could be better than the life I have now. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy. Some of you know the missing part of my testimony. One year ago I lost my best friend, my sister. She made the impulsive decision to end her life the day after her boyfriend was killed in an automobile accident. By just admitting this, I feel like I have to defend her honor. I wonder when that will go away?

Her death shattered my perfect, little world and questioned all I believed in God.

It’s been a year since her death and life is changing once again. We are eagerly anticipating getting out of the military and moving back home to establish our roots close to our families. Life is good for my little family. With each boo-boo that I kiss, each diaper that I change, and each word that I speak to my children, I remember how critical the present is.

I remember to kiss my husband deeply everyday.

I remember to tell my parents how much I love them.

I remember that life is too short to have fake friends.

I remember that no matter what God is still good and still my God.

I remember that if my kids adore me, then I have successfully been the mother that my mother was.

For this life is my story.

Albino Broccoli Soup

We love albino broccoli in this house! There are so many things you can do with it! Broccoli’s little brother, cauliflower, is by far the most versatile vegetable that you can have in your house! You can make pizza crust, rice, mashed “potatoes” and so much more! Tonight I made my soup!

This is by far MY FAVORITE soup ever! I love this soup with meatballs. Tonight I am trying these Merguez meatballs from The Clothes Make the Girl, author of the amazing Well Fed cookbook. I usually make them with Arabic meatballs, which is a little different than the Merguez Meatballs.

I promise, the cauliflower tastes amazing in this recipe! It’s even more delicious if you use your own homemade bone stock! You can read my recipe for making stock here!

Albino Broccoli Soup

2 heads of cauliflower or 3 frozen bags, broken in florets

3 medium onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup butter or ghee

3 cups of stock (I prefer my homemade chicken stock, but you can use beef stock too)

2 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

Directions:

Steam or boil cauliflower until tender. Drain and set aside.

Saute the onions and garlic in a pot over medium heat until tender.

Add cauliflower and stock to the pot. Mash with a potato masher or use a stick blender to puree the mixture to a consistency you prefer. I like mine a little chunky. If you don’t have a stick blender then you should use a blender to puree it.

Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.

If primal, serve with a dollop of sour cream!

Paleo Kids: What to feed them?

My new friend over at Living Crunchy invited me to write a guest blog post on how to feed real, clean food to kids. Today, I’m going to share with you the post that I wrote and I hope it can help you on your Paleo journey as a family!

As a mother of two Paleo kids (Arianna, 3 and Frankie, 1), I understand this very common question. Kids love junk. They love candy. They love bread. They love anything that isn’t “healthy”…right?

If I was to tell you (and I’m not bragging here, I just am proving that feeding kids Paleo is possible) that my kids love veggies, boiled eggs, slices of avocado, bone stock, olives, and every kind of meat; would you believe me? They can down a steak faster than a grown-up, and nothing quenches their thirst like water. They don’t even know what cereal is. They thrive on what I eat, and that is meat, eggs, veggies, nuts, fruits, and healthy oils.

Yes, it can be done. When I hear mothers say that they can’t get their kids to eat anything but mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, chips, crackers and cereal, I wanna ask them, “Are they the ones doing the grocery shopping?” Seriously, who is buying it? If you don’t buy it, it won’t be there to tempt them, but mostly, tempt yourself to throw something easy at them that you KNOW that they will eat and won’t fight about.

Here are two ways to start the process of eating healthier:

1) ease into it. Slowly eliminate the junk foods in your house and start by buying healthy alternatives. Let your kids finish the cereal, let your husband finish his stash of chips, but don’t buy anymore. Or…

2) you go cold turkey. This is how I did it. I bagged up all my junk food, grains, cans of soup and fruits, and I donated them. My personality is all-or-nothing. So this just worked for me. I don’t overwhelmed easily some could handle this more intense transition. Some people, can’t do it this way. For example, the working mom may find it really difficult to make so many changes all at once.

Either way, you are making healthier choices for your family. I had to stop looking at food as a means to an end (hungry—> so satiate that hunger) and look at it as a way to heal my body, grow my children’s bodies, and energize my life.

My kids never get a separate dinner. If we are having bone broth soup, so are they. If we are having grilled veggies and grilled chicken legs, so are they. And let me tell you how adorable it is to see a baby tear apart a chicken leg with his little mouth!   Once you break YOUR bad habit of feeding them the easy food, you will see that raising Paleo kids is just as easy as raising non-Paleo kids.

I’ve had many Paleo mothers ask me what to send in their school lunch. For me, packing my daughters lunch for preschool has really made me tap into my creative side. I bought a Planetbox lunchbox, which is a bento-style stainless steel box, to help me be diverse and make the whole “lunch dilemma” more of a fun thing that me and Arianna do together in the mornings.

I try to make her lunches creative, colorful and tasty. She eats some dairy, like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt on occasion because she loves it. I try to always include something in her lunchbox that she loves. This keeps her happy and looking forward to seeing what I included. She loves roll-ups, which is simply deli-meat rolled up.

Sometimes I cut the roll-up in 5 sections and neatly place them in her box. Some other protein-rich foods I put in her box are, boiled eggs, slices of avocado (drenched in lemon juice), beef jerky, pistachios, shredded chicken, and leftover steak. Then I try to add one or two veggie items. This is usually sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or carrot sticks.

Now, if you have a toddler, then you know that they love to dip. So, I include a little container of almond butter or olive oil/balsamic vinegar that she can dip her veggies in. I always try to add a healthy fat. Sometimes this is the olive oil/vinegar dip but other times it is olives, nuts or avocado. Then I give her a fruit. It’s whatever I have on hand. I throw other things in that she loves like fruit leather, dark chocolate for a treat, Nut Thins, or a Lara Bar. And that’s it! It takes me about 5 minutes to make her lunch in the morning.

I started a group on Pinterest called, “Arianna’s Lunches“. When I remember, I upload a picture of her lunch I made for that day.

The greatest lesson I have learned as a mother is that there are three things that we cannot FORCE upon our children: input (food), output (toilet), and sleep. In trying to “break” our kids and get them to conform to our will, we end up hurting the relationship even more. However, what we can do is give them options. Kids love to feel like they are in control too.

They are, indeed, little humans and have the same strong will that we have. Limit your food options to healthy choices and let them choose. Let them feel like they are choosing for themselves. Let them feel like they are in control of their own bodies. That’s the goal, right? To raise healthy children that will one day grow up and make healthy choices for themselves.

Great recipes from The Paleo Mama:

Fruit Gummy Snacks

Paleo Mac n’ Cheese

Baked Avocado-Coco Fries

 

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