2014 New Year, New Whole30 – Day 2

doing whole 30 image12For the next 30+ days, I will be eating meat, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits and nuts. I will not be eating processed food, sugar, dairy, grains or legumes, and I won’t be consuming any alcohol.

This is not my first Whole30, but this time I want to focus on a couple of specific elements: 1) fewer nuts as snacks and 2) fewer snacks in general. I would like to find the right mix of meals and pre-/post-workout fuel to keep me steady throughout the day.

If you’re doing a Whole30 or other challenge, if you are living/exploring the Paleo lifestyle, or if you are simply looking for some tasty recipes to add to your repertoire, be sure to leave a comment to let me know you’re out there! I am so glad you stopped by!

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This week’s focus: Drink lots of water or tea.

5:00 Black coffee

7:00 Collard greens, 2 eggs, 1 oz. chicken and gravy, 1/4 avocado

10:30 Post-workout Egg and 1 meatball on lettuce leaf

1:00 Korean carrot salad, West Lake soup, Chicken handroll, banana, black coffee

8:00 West Lake soup, 2 chicken handrolls with veggies

Food For now, the food seems easy. I have been trying some new recipes, which always invigorates me, and I don’t seem to have any lingering cravings.

Mood Confident. I am riding the high of the end of 2013 and fast-approaching 2014. I love the new year!

Sleep 7 hours. Still feeling tired and like I need more. I am playing catch up.

Activity CrossFit, 20 minutes. Worked hard, got sweaty, but I’m still trying to recover some of my energy from being sick.

Focus Lots of water – all good.

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Cucumber Noodles with Salmon

Cucumber noodles with salmonMany of you know that one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my Paderno spiral slicer. Almost immediately after purchasing it, I lost all desire for wheat noodles. I admit to sometimes dreaming about gnocchi or homemade ravioli, but a pile of regular noodles? Nope. All gone. It comes down to this…If I FEEL like I’m eating noodles and what I’m eating has delicious flavor, then I’m good! It’s pure comfort in a bowl, slurpy goodness, noodley satisfaction.

I also happen to love Asian flavor combinations, so when I came across the Cold Sesame (Cucumber) Noodle salad over at The Clothes Make the Girl, I was ecstatic. I have made that very recipe a number of times and even shared it with friends. But if you like to cook, which I of course do, then you often look at recipes as a template and begin making modifications until the recipe becomes your own. That’s what happened with this one.

While I love having salads on the side, sometimes I’m looking for a one-dish meal that comes together fast and makes me feel like I’m special. This one does exactly that! Canned salmon is probably my favorite of the canned fish, but it’s a bit pricey, so I don’t eat it all the time. Here, its rich flavor marries perfectly with the sesame and ginger – it really can’t be beat. I love the kick that fresh ginger gives this dressing and the lemon makes the whole dish sing.

You can add all kinds of vegetables to this too! I used bell pepper, but snap peas or even steamed green beans would be nice. If you’re making this just for one, save half the dressing to whip up another salad even faster tomorrow.

Cucumber Noodles with Salmon

Salad

2 cucumbers

salt

2 cans of salmon (I used boneless, skinless like this)

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 scallions

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped about 1 Tbsp.

1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil or more to garnish

Dressing

1 Tbsp. almond butter (no sugar)

1 Tbsp. sunflower butter (no sugar)

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated or minced

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. coconut aminos

1/2 tsp. rice vinegar

Juice from 1/2 a lemon, about 2 Tbsp.

1/4 tsp. salt

Directons

1) Peel and julienne your cucumbers. Either use a spiral slicer, a peeler, or just slice very thinly with a knife. Place in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink and salt generously. Leave to sit about 10 minutes.

2) Put all your dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

3) Add the bell pepper, scallions, and cilantro to a bowl. Drain the canned salmon and add it to the veggies. Rinse the cucumber noodles thoroughly and shake off any excess water. Add them to the bowl, pour the dressing over everything, and toss thoroughly. Plate and drizzle with sesame oil. Add a pinch of salt, if necessary, and slurp away!

Serves 2

2014 New Year, New Whole 30 – Day 1

doing whole 30 image12For the next 30+ days, I will be eating meat, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits and nuts. I will not be eating processed food, sugar, dairy, grains or legumes, and I won’t be consuming any alcohol.

This is not my first Whole30, but this time I want to focus on a couple of specific elements: 1) fewer nuts as snacks and 2) fewer snacks in general. I would like to find the right mix of meals and pre-/post-workout fuel to keep me steady throughout the day.

If you’re doing a Whole30 or other challenge, if you are living/exploring the Paleo lifestyle, or if you are simply looking for some tasty recipes to add to your repertoire, be sure to leave a comment to let me know you’re out there! I am so glad you stopped by!

************************************************************************************************************************************

This week’s focus: Drink lots of water or tea.

5:30 Black coffee

10:00 Mushrooms and collard greens, 2 eggs, 1/4 avocado

1:30 Chicken cutlet, salad, broccoli, 2 meatballs, black coffee

6:30 Flank steak, Korean carrot salad, “Creamed” spinach, orange

Food I really don’t recommend waiting so long to eat in the morning. My kiddo has been sick, we took down the Christmas decorations, then I got involved in my blog. The morning was totally atypical. Other than that – it feels so good to eat right!

Mood Excited! Of course.

Sleep 6 hours. I nearly stayed up until midnight because I decided to end my year early ;), but I didn’t quite make it. I’m tired today but everything will fall into place soon.

Activity 2 mile run with the dog – yay! I haven’t gone for a run in a while and I’m still recovering from being sick, but it felt great. Beautiful out today! Yoga.

Focus I have noticed that when I’m not eating right, I don’t hydrate as well. I still drink a lot relative to most guidelines, but I notice a difference. Today was all about water and it felt great!

New Year, New Whole 30

doing whole 30 image12

Another Whole 30? Why YES! I think I will!

There are many different reasons for taking on a Whole 30 eating challenge. For me, the new year presents itself as a perfect time to get back to basic, squeaky-clean Paleo eating with a focus on the healthy lifestyle that goes along with it. I wish I could say I had reached the point in my journey where holidays were filled with laughter and fun without cocktails, gluten, and sugar, but I can’t. I haven’t found that balance yet. Maybe this year will be different. This will be the first time that I start the year off with a Whole 30, which will give me the chance to clear the decks and begin the year right, with every intention of carrying the health and energy I get from eating Paleo all the way through the year.

Another reason for doing multiple Whole 30s is that each time there is the potential to learn something different about yourself. I have done two so far – actually two and a half. The first one taught me that I can absolutely complete the challenge and that it’s the way I want to eat for the rest of my life. The one I attempted last spring but did not complete reminded me that outside triggers are still strong for me, even nearly 3 weeks into the challenge. I learned that I need a back-up plan to handle those times. My Whole 30 last fall showed me that my energy and mood are steady and positive when I feed my body what it needs and 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep works for me, but 8 is even better.

Doing a Whole 30 allows my body to heal and relearn to send the right signals for hunger and satiety. A healthy hormonal response lets me make decisions about what and when I eat based on true, physical hunger. This is freeing for me. I find it interesting to see my hunger fluctuate based on workout intensity – my body responds to energy needs rather than craving a sugar fix.

Finally, when I do a Whole 30, I can change things slightly each time to see how my body responds. I learned last time that I rely rather heavily on nuts for snacks. I want to change that and place a greater emphasis on protein and vegetables and different fats, coconut or olives, for example.

These things are certainly possible without the strict confines of the challenge, but I happen to like the rules. Honestly, it’s not all that crazy. For the next 30+ days, I’ll be eating whole foods – vegetables, meat, fat, fruits, and nuts. I won’t be eating processed food, sugar, dairy, grains or legumes. And I will feel better than ever.

Learn something, heal, feel great, EAT REAL FOOD. If that’s the case, I’m in!

Happy New Year!!!

2014Some of you might be saying something about how the new year hasn’t started yet. I get that. Because, technically, it hasn’t. But with the holidays being midweek this year, it has sort of messed things up. I feel like Christmas hardly happened and now it’s as if I’m just holding out (and making bad choices) because the “new year” hasn’t started yet. How ridiculous is that? Why on earth do I need to wait for WEDNESDAY to roll around to get started on my goals for 2014? You know what? I don’t!!!

There are different schools of thought when it comes to new years’ resolutions – some of you might love them while others might think they’re a waste of time. I fall in with the former – I happen to love this time of year. There is something invigorating about all the planning and goal-setting. I get really excited thinking about different areas of my life that I would like to focus on or new goals that I want to work towards. Do I always succeed? Heck no! But that, in my opinion, is no reason to give up or to stop setting goals because along the way it is entirely possible to discover something new or do something great and I don’t want to miss that chance.

My husband and I were looking back at some goals from last year and he was laughing a little bit because we didn’t nail them 100%. Or even get all that close to be perfectly honest. But here’s my take on it…there were a couple things on my list that I’m pretty sure my subconscious was working on. I remembered writing them down and sometimes things would pop up (like a magazine article or something someone would say) that would remind me of these goals, but I didn’t always know what form they would take. One, for example, was this idea I had. I called it Paleo Mish. I wanted to be more consistent with following a Paleo lifestyle because I recognized that it made me feel better. Another thing on my list was to stop being afraid. When those two came together, this blog was formed. Creating a blog was not one of my goals, but it turned out to be one of my best decisions for many, many reasons.

So here’s my plan: MY new year will begin TODAY! I have some goals set, some planning done, some wishes released into the atmosphere, and I am ready to begin 2014. I’m excited to start my journey this year. I have lots of ideas but I haven’t written the ending because I don’t want to box it in just yet. I can tell you, though, that there is passion and joy, connectedness and love, strength and courage, and a dash of adventure.

The new year is the one time when I throw balance to the wind. Instead I lean heavily on the side of growth and stretching and dreams and wishes. Put it out there and see just how far it can go. This year is going to be magnificent! And I truly, sincerely hope yours is too!

Before I go, I’d like to share something with you that my sister told me about. She spent Christmas with her boyfriend’s family in Poland this year and they have a tradition of going around the room and expressing wishes to each person for good things in the coming year. I find the gift of wishes so beautiful that I would like to share mine for you: that your year is filled with passion, joy, and love, that you live vibrantly and healthfully, that you experience new flavors and new foods, that you find excitement and commitment to your goals.  Thank you all so much for following Balancing Paleo!

I have just two final questions for you…Are you making any new year’s resolutions? And what would happen if you started your new year today?

5 Wonderful Winter Snacks

Winter berriesFirst of all, I’d like to apologize for being away so long! For the start of the holidays, my son and I dashed off to California to visit some of my family and dear friends. It was a special time and I am grateful for every minute that I spent loving and socializing with some pretty amazing people. Just before leaving to CA, though, I had a teeny-tiny cough that was trying to break through. I made it the entire trip without fully succumbing, but by Christmas Eve, on our flight home, I was breaking out the tissues. Sadly, I have very few memories of Christmas Day. It was spent in a daze of tissues and brain fog. Plus a nap.

Since discovering this Paleo lifestyle, I have rarely been sick, but my California trip was a little less than perfectly Paleo and I’m sure my immune system was busy fighting other intruders. I am finally beginning to resurface from this cold and I’m looking to the start of a new year with a new Paleo challenge. With that in mind, it’s time to start prepping because the potential for success during a Paleo challenge increases exponentially with solid prep and planning.

During my last Whole 30, one of the things I learned about myself is that having some snacks on hand helps me to be successful. I work out at a high intensity on most days and I often have a crazy schedule with long stretches between meals. If I’m hungry, it’s important for me to have something healthy to reach for because it is much easier to stay in control of my choices when I’ve stayed in control of my hunger. I also learned that I have a tendency to grab nuts because they’re quick, easy, and portable. This time around, I’d like to steer clear of nuts as my primary snack and focus more on protein and veggies.

Here are 5 wonderful snacks just right for winter – most without nuts!

Meatballs/Patties – Why make 1 pound of meatballs when you can make 2? Seriously. One of the handiest things to have around is a little stash of meatballs or patties. They can be flavored in so many different ways that they’re bound to satisfy a craving or two, and since they’re a powerful protein snack, they can easily double as post-workout fuel. A couple of these with some veggie sticks and maybe even a little guacamole or sauce on the side makes for a filling, nutrient dense snack. The next time you’re making meatballs for dinner, definitely double the recipe!

Soup – I love a good bowl of soup. I actually like it year round, but there’s something especially comforting about it in the winter. It is an easy way to get in some extra veggies at any time of the day, and when you just need a little something to help you make it to dinner, a cup of soup can fit right in. I have several that I love, but my favorite right now is my Cumin-Scented Zucchini soup. It’s light and simple and it warms you to the core.

Egg Muffins – The protein of champions! Eggs continue to be controversial, but in the Paleo world, eggs are definitely in! I have eggs on most days for breakfast and look to eggs as a snack as well. In case you’re wondering, I have always had good blood work, but when I had it tested after switching to Paleo, it got even better! When I’m looking for a high-protein, portable snack, eggs are awesome. Sauté up any variety of vegetables, add some cooked meat for an extra dose of protein, toss in some herbs and seasonings, pour the whole thing into muffin tins lined with parchment paper cups, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Done. I have a couple different recipes that I’m working on right now – so stay tuned!

Dates & Walnuts – If you followed my last Whole 30, you know that I may have had a moment or two when I overindulged in this particular snack. It happens to be one of my favorite sweet treat combos ever since I was introduced to it many years ago in France. There, in fact, you can get your dates still on the branch, fresh and sticky sweet. Nature’s candy. So grab a date (fruit, not human), slice or tear it open lengthwise, pop in a walnut half, and munch away. I actually tear them completely in half because I like to increase the walnut to date ratio so they’re a little less sweet. When we have company and they’re having a dessert that doesn’t work for me, I have a couple of these and feel completely satisfied and even a little bit spoiled.

PaleOMG’s Pumpkin Microcake –  If you’ve been enjoying some holiday candy or other treats, then this will not taste sweet. However, if you have been doing a Whole 30 or sugar detox, then this can feel like a treat, without actually being sweet. It’s reminiscent of the holidays with the pumpkin and spices and sometimes that’s exactly what you need next to a cup of hot tea. If you’re feeling like a touch of indulgence without the regret, try this. I’ve never actually used the chocolate on top. I generally opt for a simple dollop of coconut butter.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry SauceIt may not be Thanksgiving anymore, but it’s still the holidays and if you plan on having turkey at any point, it would pair perfectly with this! I have been looking a long time for a cranberry sauce that tastes better to me than straight-up cranberries and sugar. Over the years, I have tried many different variations because I truly believed there was something just a little more complex out there. At the same time, though, I didn’t want something that messed with the beauty of simple cranberries and sugar. If I was going to add something, it had to make the basic better.

Then my very dear friend introduced me to her cranberry sauce. It’s incredibly simple, adding just three extra ingredients, but those three ingredients elevate the simple to the sublime! They bring just the right touch of sweet, spice, and complexity. I was completely blown away. I immediately asked her for the recipe, which she graciously shared, and now I’m sharing it with you!

There was one other catch, though, which I’m sure you can guess. Paleo and sugar don’t really go together, but cranberries are so tart that you really need something to take the edge off. In comes palm sugar. Palm sugar is high in nutrients and relatively low on the glycemic index, but really, it’s still sugar. I like my cranberry sauce on the tart side, but regardless, it’s an accompaniment and not intended as a bowlful for dessert. Although I think it’s that good!

I have tried this on a number of different things lately so don’t think you have to have turkey to give it a go. I’ve already had it on eggs and in greens. Let me know if you try it on something unusual. I’m always up for something new!

Cranberry Sauce

1 c. water

1/2 c. palm sugar

1 Tbsp. freshly ginger, grated

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

2 medium pears, peeled and chopped

16 oz. fresh cranberries

Directions

1) Boil water with the palm sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Stir in pears and cranberries and return to a boil.

2) Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2/3 of the berries are opened, about 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature.