Monday, November 30, 2015

Paleo Changes You: High Fructose Corn Syrup Smells Bad and Tastes Worse

     I remember my first encounter with high fructose corn syrup. I was taking a shopping trip with my mom, and we stopped to get a snack. I loved chocolate milk, so I grabbed a small snack-sized carton and some crackers. I opened the carton and drank, and then I wondered what was wrong with the milk. I read the ingredients to find that it had been made with HFCS. Within a few minutes of drinking the milk, I started feeling sick, and my head started hurting.

     Soon, high fructose corn syrup started popping up everywhere. There was no escaping it in the land of junk food. I began to grow accustomed to the ill feelings and headaches. I even, eventually, got used to the strange taste.

     Then I switched to Paleo. We switched in January of 2014, and by Halloween, everyone was ready for a break. The kids wanted candy. I wanted candy, so we broke down, and I allowed the kids to save a couple of pieces of candy before tossing the rest. I grabbed a little something myself and immediately regretted it. I've since found that I'm mildly allergic to corn products of all kinds. What happened? Well, it tasted terrible, my tongue became a sore in my head, my skin broke out, I got an instant headache, and my stomach cramped up.

     I'm not saying that I'm immune to cravings. I still want candy every once in a while, but every time I give in, and the candy contains HFCS, I regret it immediately.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Paleo Changes You: Dairy Smells Bad

     I grew up on skim milk. I drank it every morning in my cereal and every night before bed. And if I had some cookies, there was a glass of milk. There were only a few time (when the milk was really fresh) that I would say it tasted great, but I enjoyed it.

     Then Ray and I decided to cut dairy out of our diets. I can't begin to explain the excruciating process that I went through. There were times I thought I might die from the stomach cramps. I felt like I was going through what I've heard addicts go through as they get off drugs. There were times that I felt like the only thing that would help me was to drink some milk. I would lie on the floor, curled up, and cramping.

     Then things changed. I started to feel better. I started to realize that not only was I addicted to dairy, but it also didn't agree with me. When I had dairy, I got bloated and gassy. After dairy, it just didn't happen anymore.

     Then last Halloween, we took the kids trick-or-treating on the square, and Alex had to go to the bathroom. One of the stores open that had a bathroom was an ice cream shop, so we went in, and the smell was disgusting. The entire place smelled like milk gone bad. Yuck! Ray said something about it, and I told him that dairy had been smelling bad to me for a while, but the ice cream shop was worse because of the concentration of dairy.

     These days, I prefer coconut milk. It's rich, creamy, makes a great ice cream, and it doesn't smell bad or make me feel terrible.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Paleo Changes You: Grains Smell Bad

     I used to love to bake bread. I would start my yeast, mix and knead my dough, let it rise, punch it down, let it rest, shape it, bake it, and eat it. I was a bread geek. My favorite loaf in the whole world was an Ethiopian honey dabo. I would make it and take it to gathering where we would eat it with butter and honey, and people would fight over who could take the leftovers home.

     What I'm not telling you is that while I loved the smell of bread and the taste of bread, the pseudo-food would grow in my mouth causing me to drink massive amounts of liquid just to get through a sandwich, but I ignored the feeling. I ignored the gagging.

     Last winter, we were trying to get more people to get flu shots at our pharmacy, so we were promised a reward if we would ask people to get their shot. The "reward" was pizza. The pizza was brought in, and it smelled pretty bad, but I figured it was just the type of pizza.

     Then last spring, I walked into a restaurant that bakes fresh bread daily, and I was horrified. The entire restaurant reeked! I had never smelled anything quite like it. I looked to my family, and they looked just as appalled as I did.  I looked around at the people eating, wondering if they could smell the same thing. Then someone behind me said, "That bread smells delicious." It was then that I realized that I was smelling fresh, baked bread, and that I was no longer enamored of its smell.

     Now that I've been Paleo for over a year, and bread doesn't even smell good anymore, it's so easy to continue to eat this way, and I'll never go back.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October: A Wrap Up of the Month (with lots of pictures)


     October is always a crazy month around here. It starts with my birthday and ends with Victor's birthday and Halloween.  This year, I turned 38, and Victor turned 9.

     My birthday was truly awesome because I have such a wonderful family. Lydia made me a fall/Halloween candle mat; I got several Disney Infinity 3.0 figures; Ray gave me a wax warmer with a spider on it; and the boys made me cards and Lego sets. Ray made me egg salad and banana pancakes for breakfast. We spent most of the day outside because it was so beautiful. We walked along our back country roads and in our woods. The fall in Alabama is like a second spring. There are beautiful flowers everywhere and bees buzzing around. The only real difference is the colors. For my special birthday dinner, I had an Elvis burger with baked sweet potato and cookie dough fudge for dessert. Then we had my birthday with my parents, who fixed me shrimp with salad, sweet potato chips, and steamed veggies. Then we had my birthday with Ray's parents. Since we were already doing the 21 day sugar detox by this time, we had to order pretty carefully at our favorite restaurant, but we got a steak burger and steamed veggies with butter, and it all worked out well.

     After my birthday, we had a Marvel Movie Marathon, which you can read about here.

     Then it was time for our local museum's Pioneer Days, which I hope to put a post out on A Geek Girl's Guide as well.

     Then I decided that it was past time to clean out the closets, so with the help of my children and the hope of finding the controllers to my old Nintendo, we tackled the playroom closet. We didn't find the controllers, but we did find several pictures, a few missing books, some smaller jeans that Ray can almost wear now that he's lost weight, and we managed to condense a closet-full of crap into three boxes of stuff we just can't get rid of.

     With the end of the month drawing every closer, it was time to get our costumes done in time for Halloween and plan Victor's ninth birthday. The boys wanted to dress as Mario and Luigi, and we found their costumes. Ray, Lydia, and I wanted to go as character from Adventure Time, and we wanted to make our costumes. They turned out really nice, and while we were out and about on Halloween, we got asked a few times to have our pictures taken with various people. It felt like being a celebrity. It was such a blast!

     We had a cookout for Victor's birthday dinner the day before his birthday because we had a full day planned the day of. He wanted hamburgers, hotdogs, sweet potato chips, and cookie dough fudge, but I also made some marshmallows. He got a few Lego sets, a stuffed elephant for his collection, some papercraft toys, and some Minecraft figures. Then on his birthday, we went to a local arts and crafts fair, then ate lunch at Earth Fare, where we made ourselves some great big salads, then we headed over to Toys 'R' Us to look around before going trick or treating. Then we finished off the day with a pizza movie night and watched Hocus Pocus.

     All-in-all, it was an awesome and exhausting month. I hope to get more writing done in the next few months, but we'll see. I hope your October was awesome as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Paleo Changes You: Sweets Taste Sweeter

     If you are what you eat, then when I was little, I was made of sugar. I ate something sweet every day. When I was a toddler I would ask for a cookie, and when my mom said yes, I would say, "Can I have 'twofum'?"

     Just recently I wrote a story on another blog about going with my dad when he would get his haircut and then going to the nearby store to stock up on candy. If you read it, you're probably wondering how I could eat that much candy, but that amount of junk food would last me a month or two. I would hide it and only eat a piece or two at the time, but I would eat some every day.

     Don't get me wrong, I could have eaten it all, and occasionally, I would binge on candy, believing the consequences to be well within the range of acceptable in view of the reward of eating all of my favorite things and then drinking a large glass of milk because I'd be so thirsty and craving protein to counterbalance to sugar surging through my system.

     I got my sugary addiction from my dad. He and I would eat dessert with our meal. We both felt that we couldn't eat a meal without something sweet to help the rest of the food go down.

     Then over two and a half years ago, I was fed up with feeling bad and looking worse all the time, and I decided to do a sugar detox right after Christmas. Believe me when I tell you that it was a tough decision to make. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to do it. I was terrified that I would gag on my food, but I knew I had to do it.

     In my search to find tasty recipes with only natural carbs, I stumbled upon some Paleo cookbooks that were free on Kindle, and had some delicious-looking recipes. I made it through that detox, and I've never looked back.

     The weird thing is, when I started the detox, it said something to the effect of eating dates if your sugar cravings got out of control because they are naturally sweet, so I bought a bag of dried dates and tasted one. It had NO flavor at all! I tried a couple more, just to make sure I hadn't gotten a bad one, but I kept getting the same results. I was so disappointed. Then two weeks into the detox, I was craving chocolate like the world would end if I didn't get it, so I popped a date in my mouth, and it exploded with sweet, delightful flavor. My craving was satisfied, and I could move on.

     After that, I started to realize just how sweet other foods were naturally. Broccoli, lightly roasted, danced with a light sweetness in my mouth. Herbal teas tasted amazing, even without honey. If I needed a little extra flavor, I could add coconut aminos, avocado or mayonnaise (instead of ketchup, honey mustard or maple syrup) and be satisfied.

     Once you're used to that way of eating, going back to regular, processed or even natural sugars can throw you for a loop. You start to realize just how sugar makes you feel. (For me, it makes my feet and back hurt, can give me a headache, and just generally makes it harder to make it through the day.) And then there's the taste. Going back to sugar of any type will make you realize just how much of a tolerance you had built up for the sweet stuff. In fact, the other night we tried out a recipe for cookie dough fudge to see if it was suitable for a birthday treat. It was delicious, but no one could eat more than a piece because it was so sweet, it verged on cloying.

     This is the very reason that I and my family see Paleo as a way of life. Once you get over the initial detox period, you wake up to a realization that you don't feel deprived. You realize that on top of feeling like you have superpowers, you just don't need as much sugar in your life. You can now pass when someone you work with brings in two bags of candy and a bucket and says, "Happy fall. I got this for us to share." Just saying.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Homemade Shave Soap

     You may think that this shave soap is just for men, but you'd be wrong. I use this on my legs, too. It lathers well, and leaves your skin feeling nourished and pampered. You just need some really hot water nearby, and you can create a truly decadent shaving lather with a natural-bristle shaving brush. Ray has always hated shaving until one year at Christmas, I got him this shaving set and made him this shave soap. Now he loves to shave, and it's pretty simple to make.

1/4 cup unscented glycerin soap
1/2 tsp. almond oil
1/4 tsp. 100% pure shea butter
1/4 tsp. aloe vera gel
5 drops favorite essential oil (optional; we use patchouli)


1. Melt soap in a double boiler over boiling water, or in a microwave safe dish, heat on low for about 20 seconds. Check. If not melted, try another 20 seconds on low. Continue to do this until completely melted.

2. Blend in almond oil, shea butter, aloe vera gel, and essential oil. This could take about 30 seconds or more to get the aloe completely incorporated.

3. Pour in  clean shaving mug or jar, or grease a muffin tin and pour in. Let sit until cool and set.

4. Use with a shaving brush. Hot water gets a better lather, especially water heated to the temperate you'd heat your coffee to.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our Whole Thirty: Wrap-Up and Assessment

     Over thirty days have passed, and I'm happy to say that we not only survived but thrived. Ray has been taking less insulin, I've had learned a few things, Lydia has had more energy, Alex healed a canker sore in a day, and we think we've figured out why Victor breaks out on his arms and back sometimes.

     Ray is now taking almost half of the insulin that he was taking. He also learned that most of what he thought was hunger throughout the day was actually cravings for carb-y things. This makes sense when you learn about how hormones play such a huge role in our hunger signals. I like to think of the brain as being like my dad, and I'll explain: one day, I had to take a reading comprehension and speed test (which is a pretty harsh thing to do to someone with dyslexia). This particular article was about the health benefits of tomatoes and the discovery of lycopene. I went home and told my parents about what I'd learned, and my dad would not believe it. He said that while tomatoes were tasty, they couldn't be good for you because they were too acidic. It wasn't until he read this information himself that he decided this was a huge discovery and had to tell me all about it. Our brains are just like that. We can look in the mirror and at the scale and see ourselves getting fat, but until the brain gets this information from leptin (which it cannot do if the brain is swimming in too much sugar and cortisol), the brain will ignore what it sees in the mirror and on the scare and insist that we're too thin. These signals from the brain are so much stronger than our willpower that it takes restricting carbs from sugars and sweeteners and only getting carbs from our fruits and veggies to get these hormones back into balance. If you want to learn more about this, I highly suggest you read Melissa ad Dallas Hartwig's It Starts with Food.

     I've learned that my stomach and head do not handle chocolate well, be in in the form of cacao in my chili or 75% dark chocolate yumminess. I've learned lots of new information from my new books. And I've learned that even though I'm fat, I'm in better shape than some of my smaller co-workers. After the tornado, we worked really hard to get our store up and running a week later. We were in the heat and moving heavy stuff, and I was barely breaking a sweat. I kept hearing various people say that it was man's work, or we needed men over to help us, or other misogynistic things, and I'd just pick it up and move it. I was throwing around 35 and 40 pounds of sugar and dog food, and after getting back into the pharmacy over a week later, I was asked how my back felt after all that, and I said, "Fine." The only ill effects of working that hard for that long was that I was exhausted at the end of every day.

     Lydia says that she thinks the Whole 30 was worth it because of Ray, but that she didn't notice a difference. I say that I noticed a difference. She was waking up earlier and with ease, and she had more energy throughout the day.

     The boys would go to the grandparents' house to have some cheese sticks and the occasional piece of chocolate, but they did pretty good. We were even able to identify what was making Victor break out on his arms and back pretty easily because it was only happening after he ate the cheese sticks, and Alex was able to heal a pretty bad canker sore that appeared on his gum within a day after taking and with one dose of L-Lysine. They say that felt pretty good, but that they feel so good most of the time that it was hard to tell. They did crave a lot and constantly asked what day we were on.

     So my examination of the rest of Melisa Joulwan's "30 Reasons to Whole30" in her Well Fed 2.
  • "You'll learn about yourself." I definitely learned about my appetite triggers and even more about what I can and cannot tolerate.
  • "You'll slay the sugar demon." I'm the girl who ate dessert with her meal, and felt I had to have something sweet at every meal, so if I can get over my sugar cravings, anyone can.
  • "You'll make new friends." I've definitely gotten more follows on Instagram, but I wouldn't say I made new friends. I would say that the friend I did this with became a better friend, and that's better to me than a new friend.
  • "You'll positively influence others." I don't know if this is true. I definitely don't feel like I've influenced anyone, but I did sell a friend on my new dressing recipe which should appear on my other blog: A Geek Girl's Guide to Love, Life, and Happiness pretty soon.
  • "You'll learn more about how your body works." I feel I explained this adequately earlier.
  • "Your skin will be brighter." I don't know if this is true, but I do feel like my skin was a little better during the Whole 30.
  • "Your hair will be shinier." I've gotten so many compliments on my hair lately, and I'm not sure if it's the Whole 30, my new shampoo, or a combination of the two.
  • "Your tummy will be flatter." That will be revealed in just a minute. Be patient. Stay with me.
  • Your workouts will feel invigorating." I didn't get a lot of workouts in, unless you count what I did at work, and I do, so I'd have to say that this is true. Cleaning up after a mild disaster is pretty invigorating.
  • You might get a pr." I guess my personal record for this Whole 30 is being able to sling around up to 40 pounds of product for hours, even at the end of a really long day.
  • "You'll feel accomplished (or maybe even smug)." I do feel very accomplished. I did something that scared me to death. I went 30 days without eating a bunch of sugar.
  • "You might lose weight, or gain muscle, or both." Again, I'll reveal that in a minute.
  • "Your body image will improve." I don't, at this moment, really feel any better about how I look than I did when I started. I know I look better than I did 5 years ago, and that makes me happy, but I'm still far from where I want to be.
  • "Food will become both more important and less important." It is more important to me that I get tasty, nutritious food, and less important that I fulfill every craving that crosses my mind.
  • "You'll stop dieting and just eat." I don't count calories, and I haven't since I started eating Paleo. I just eat real food, and I know if I've done pretty good or pretty bad by the way that I feel.
      Now for the reveal:

Weight before and after:
173.1 - 169.8 Loss of 3.3 pounds
Waist before and after:
43" - 42" Loss of 1 inch
Chest before and after:
44.5" - 42.5" Loss of 2 inches
BMI before and after:
30.66 - 30.08 Loss of 0.58 points

Weight before and after:
264.3 - 251.8 Loss of 12.5 pounds
Waist before and after:
49.5" - 48.75" Loss of 0.75 inches
Chest before and after:
49" - 46" Loss of 3 inches
BMI before and after:
37.01 - 35.25 Loss of 1.76 points

Monday, August 10, 2015

Whole 30: Day 22

     I'm exhausted, but I'm trying to chill out before bed. I got up this morning so early and had some delicious bacon onion quiche. Then it was off to clean up the store. One side of the store is in good shape, so they got it cleaned up and put up a partition.

     The other side is a complete disaster, and there's a huge hole in the roof. My friend confessed that it was her fault. She got hulk angry and grew into the 50' tall woman and put her foot through the roof.

     She and I had lunch together. They've been bringing lunch in for those helping out, so she grabbed one of their chicken sandwiches and sat with me in my car while I ate my nori wraps and melon. Then it was back to hot, sweaty, filthy work. Apparently when the tornado opened up the roof, it set off the sprinkler system. Everything is wet and dirty and mildewed. And some things fell off the shelves, so there's some broken glass, too.

     When I got home, I took a quick nap while Ray finished up dinner: roasted chicken with broccoli slaw. We decided to wait until Saturday to have pizza movie night. No pictures again. Sorry about that. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Whole 30: Day 21

     I have direction again. I'll be headed to work this week to assist in the clean-up effort. Someone posted a picture of our store where the hole is in the roof and stated that it looked like God stuck his foot in it, and I have to agree.

     I'll be going in early, so I'm going to go ahead and post. Today was vegetarian day, and we went grocery shopping, so I didn't take any pictures of my food, but I will finally post the menu for the last 10 days.

Day 20:
Eggs with breakfast bacon stir-fry
Cucumber, tomato, sardine salad with "cheesy" paprika ranch
Oxtails with onion jam and braised kale
Snacks: sweet potato fries, apple

Day 21:
Fruit salad, fermented carrots, pistachios
Roasted butternut soup
Eggs with sweet potato hash
Snacks: almond butter, apple

Day 22:
Bacon onion quiche
Sardine, avocado, chopped olives and fish roe in a nori wrap
Meatza and salad
Snacks: melon, apple

Day 23:
Egg and bacon salad with banana
Pineapple turkey burger
Eating out with Ray's family (grilled chicken salad and bringing our own dressing)
Snacks: homemade sweet potato chips, apple

Day 24:
Roasted butternut squash with cinnamon and almond butter; super sausage
Chicken, turnip, and bacon salad
Cacao super chili with olives, onion, and avocado
Snacks: bacon jerky, apple

Day 25:
Egg cups
Sardines with tomato and roasted eggplant salad with creamy Italian dressing
Chicken, broccoli, carrot, and mushroom stir-fry with Best Stir-Fry Sauce
Snacks: peppers with cauliflower hummus, apple

Day 26:
Scrambled eggs and bacon with olives, avocado, and fermented carrots
Cobb salad
Sweet potato aloo Gobi
Snacks: carrots with cauliflower hummus, apple

Day 27:
Fried eggs with apple cinnamon super sausage
Hamburger salad with Dijon ranch and pickles
Machacado and eggs with avocado relish
Snacks: devils on horseback, apple

Day 28:
Fruit salad with pistachios
Broc-cauli chowder
Eggs with sweet potato hash
Snacks: almond butter, apple

Day 29:
Huevos rancheros
Maki rolls
Barbeque beef tongue with fried cauli-rice
Snacks turkey roll-ups, apple

Day 30:
Green eggs and ham quiche
Bacon-crusted chicken strips
Chicken with braised kale, Dijon, lemon, and tarragon
Snacks: plantain chips with guacamole, apple

     The next few weeks are going to be full of challenges as we restore our store, and I'm glad we're eating Whole 30 because eating this way has made everything easier to handle. Plus, eating this way makes it easier to regulate your temperature, so working in a building with no air conditioner in August in Alabama will be a little more bearable, even though I'm still fat than it would have been when I was still eating SAD. I'll let you all know how it goes tomorrow. Goodnight.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Whole 30: Day 20

     I'm sorry that I've neglected my posts for two days, but it's been a rough 2 days. Thursday, I had a nightmare again in the middle of the night. It was more absurd than my last, my usual nightmare fuel of dolls coming to life, so it was much easier to go back to sleep. The entire day I spent at work, I felt like I was on the edge of a panic attack. Once I got home and had eaten dinner, it started thundering and lightning, and I had to jump in and out of the shower. The weather proceeded to get worse, and a tornado warning was issued, so we headed up to my mom's house to wait out the storm.

     I awoke the next day to news that the store I work in was hit by the tornado. No one was seriously injured, but we're missing a good bit of roof. A good bit of the damage happened right in front of the pharmacy where I work, but the worst damage seemed to be over electronics where a good bit of the roof is missing. I was told not to come in Friday, and I haven't heard anything since. I had a lot of people ask after me, and I'm very grateful to know that they were thinking of me.

Alex's School Supplies
     I am feeling pretty lost right now - not as bad as when we got robbed or when Ray almost died, but still pretty lost. But as lost as I feel, the Whole 30 continues strong. In fact, Friday was the beginning of tax-free weekend, and I had planned on taking the kids to get their homeschool supplies after I got off work. Without our local store, we headed to Dothan to get supplies.  We were supposed to have oxtail, but we didn't think it would travel well, so we made some nori rolls to take with us for dinner, packed to cooler with nori rolls, filtered water, chopsticks, and napkins. We got almost everything we needed, even new shoes for the boys. The only thing we couldn't find was watercolor paper.

     The storm was the night of the 18th day. Yesterday was day 19, and I had planned on posting the menu for the next 10 days, but we didn't get home until late. Today is day 20, and it's been a rough day. The stress of everything, plus sitting in the car for over an hour to get to Dothan led to me getting a really bad gallstone today. It was so bad, I woke up with a headache, and I spent most of the day laying on the couch. It has passed now, and I am thankful, but I am also exhausted. Before I go, though, I'd like to leave you with pictures from breakfast and dinner.
Fried eggs with breakfast bacon stir-fry

Oxtail with onion jam and braised baby spinach

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Whole 30: Day 17

     Today was a lazy day. I could have slept in. I took a nap at lunch, and then I came home and took another nap. The weather was just that perfect lazy kind of weather that makes you want to sleep all day, but sadly, I had to work.

     Breakfast this morning was a quiche made with leftover mushrooms from our pizza last night. For lunch, I took a salad to work with me. While the salad was good, the star of my meal was cauliflower hummus with some paprika added in and carrots to dip into it.

Debra McVay's photo.     When I got home, I was greeted by the amazing smell of barbeque. Ray had made barbeque sauce to go on the chicken to go in the bake sweet potato. He also steamed some broccoli, and we had some homemade ranch.

     It's time for some more sleep now. Goodnight.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Whole 30: Day 16

    Another pizza movie night has come and gone, and I am happy and sad. I'm happy because I love pizza movie nights. The whole family getting together to watch a movie, taking turns to pick the movie, so no one feels left out, and eating pizza in the dark. It's comforting, and everyone loves it. I'm sad because it is over, and I'll be headed back to work tomorrow and the rest of the week to pull some really long shifts at the pharmacy.

    Today started out with a quiche made up of leftover kale and peaches. We never did get around to making coconut milk yogurt, but one day I will get over my anxiety and just make it to see what happen. After breakfast, we got some chores done around the house and got some playing in, as well.

    Lunch was avocado, tomatoes, and olives with pan-fried sardine dressing. After lunch, we took a quick nap before dancing to some pretty funky music: "Ring My Bell," "A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action," "Groove Is in the Heart," "Lump," and "Dare." Then it was time for a shower.

Debra McVay's photo.    We worked as a family to get ready for pizza movie night. The boys cleaned up their toys in the living room and got out plates. I made the salad. Lydia made the pizzas, and Ray made the "cheese" spread.

     It was Ray's week to pick the movie, so he went with Star Trek. The pizza, as always, was delicious, and I ate way too much, so my tummy is full, and I am sleepy. Goodnight.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Whole 30: Day 15

     Technical problems with my phone's camera mean that I only have one picture from today: dinner. Well, anyway, today was pretty good. I went an entire 9 hour shift without taking any ibuprofen, which is pretty impressive.

Debra McVay's photo.
     The day started ham and butternut quiche. Lunch was Caesar salad. And dinner was fried liver with apple-plantain fritters.

     So today is the halfway point, and I'm pleased and a little surprised. I'm pleased that we've made it this far with few problems or setbacks and surprised that it's been as easy as it is.

In Melissa Joulwan's book: Well Fed 2, Melissa gives 30 reasons to Whole30, so I'm going to give my take on her first 15 here.
  1. "You'll sleep longer and more soundly." I've definitely noticed that I've been sleeping more soundly, if not longer. The only time I've woken up in the middle of night over the past 15 days has been when I had that nightmare.
  2. "You'll enjoy consistent energy." I've noticed this to be true. Over the past 15 days, I have not come home and passed out on the couch at all, which is something I used to do at least once a week when we were eating more sweet stuff.
  3. "You'll wake up feeling optimistic and alert." This is also true. I find I'm less stressed, even when I wake up facing a nine-hour shift, and I'm much more awake throughout the day.
  4. "You'll say goodbye to digestive distress." I really haven't had a lot of digestive distress since we switched to Paleo, which is good because I'm allergic to many of the medicines out there for stomach problems.
  5. "You'll be happier." Yes. I'm happier. Ray's happier. The kids are happier. Victor's been giving me lots more hugs, and everyone is calmer.
  6. "You'll be more peaceful." Without the ups and downs of sugar, this is easier to accomplish. My thoughts don't swirl and focus on the negative as much, so I just feel calm and go with the flow.
  7. "You'll be more clear-headed." I've definitely noticed less brain fog, which is a major plus.
  8. "You'll drink more water." I haven't noticed this because that's all I was drinking before we started Whole30.
  9. "You'll eat more vegetables." We already ate a lot of veggies, so again this isn't much of a difference from just plain Paleo.
  10. "You'll savor your food more." I can see this. We've been trying foods that we've never eaten before, and things love that are compliant, and I don't like eating plain, dull food. I love flavor and experimentation, so I want to eat delicious food that I can savor.
  11. "You'll feel the different between emotional appetite and real hunger." The first week, this was not so, but now it has become easier to tell the difference. When I'm really hungry, I feel light-headed and queasy, and I want protein. When I think I'm hungry, I'm usually craving something sweet.
  12. "You'll find new favorite foods." Oxtail, beef tongue, pumpkin porridge, egg and bacon salad, get in my belly.
  13. "You'll have fun experimenting in the kitchen." That's all the time.
  14. "You'll become more organized." I have not noticed this to be true.
  15. "You'll know true 'willpower'." I used to blame my cravings and giving into them on lack of willpower, but now I know that it was hormone responses and blood sugar spikes and drops that made it so hard to fight the cravings.
     I'm sad to say that it is very late, and I have a pretty bad headache that has developed over the past few hours after getting home, so goodnight.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Whole 30: Day 14

      The only thing that kept this from being a super lazy day is the fact that we were not wearing capes. Since the mattresses were already in the living room, we just had breakfast in bed. Fruit salad and pistachios are our usual go-to Sunday breakfast since Sunday is our vegetarian day.

     After breakfast, I had every intention of getting stuff done. I even made a list, but laying in bed all day and watching TV was just too tempting. We ended up just chilling out all day, watching Firefly. I did get up long enough to steam some broccoli and cauliflower for broc-cauli chowder for lunch. I even took a picture, but something went wrong, and I didn't realize until I was halfway through my chowder. After lunch, it was back to chillin' out.Even the boys got into the calm of the day and snuggled up next to me and took a nap. Since I could not move with them on either side of me, I decided it was a good time to take a nap as well.

Debra McVay's photo.
     After an afternoon of Firefly, the boys begged to watch The Lego Movie, so we put it on while Ray made dinner. When Victor went to the kitchen to be nosy, he was pleasantly surprised to find Brussels sprouts being cooked. Our kids love these veggies. We had them with onions and a creamy mustard sauce as a side to our eggs.  After dinner, it was back to business as usual, getting ready for work tomorrow, taking a shower, making food to take with me, making breakfast for the morning.

     It has been a truly lovely three-day weekend, but I must say goodbye to it and goodnight.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Whole 30: Day 13

Debra McVay's photo.     I slept in today, and it was lovely. We started our morning with egg salad with bacon, pickles, and fermented carrots. To this, we added tiny, little banana pancakes that are made from banana, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. You can't get any better than that. Lydia's already requested that we have this breakfast again, and I agree that it's a great idea.

     Ray went to the store to get our groceries for the week, and while he was gone, the kids and I made a pillow fort under the dining room table. We grabbed some pistachios and fruit and just had a great time.

Debra McVay's photo.
Debra McVay's photo.
Debra McVay's photo.
Debra McVay's photo.

     After groceries were put away, it was time for lunch. We mixed some ground turkey with eggs, onion powder, 5 spice powder, and liquid aminos together, made some patties, and placed a pineapple ring on each patty. We braised some kale to go with this, and once again Lydia requested a repeat of this meal.

     We got in a HIIT routine, as well.

     After a delicious dinner of chicken fajita wraps, the kids requested a sleepover in the living room, so we drug mattresses into the living room. So it is time for lights out. Goodnight.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Whole 30: Day 12

      Today was a little bit chaotic evil. Chaotic because everything was set back and crazy. Evil because around 2:00 am, I had a nightmare that kept me up for 3 hours, but I still had to get up early because Ray had to get blood work done first thing this morning. So we didn't eat breakfast until closer to 10:00 this morning. We changed up the pumpkin porridge this time and used almond butter instead of tahini. Everyone really liked the change because it gave it a deeper flavor. We had it with blueberry sage super sausage, and wow was that fantastic! How can you go wrong with blueberries and liver in your morning sausage?

Debra McVay's photo.     After chores, I got to play some video games (something I rarely get to do). Then we ate lunch: BLT salad with black pepper ranch dressing and muskmelon.

     After lunch, I could no longer go, so I had a nap while the kids played. After my nap, it was time to get some exercise in. We did a PEM, and it felt awesome. Muscles pulled bones into alignment. My back popped several wonderful times. And then as I was cooling down and stretching out, the muscle in the back of my leg cramped up and wouldn't let go. It still hurts a little now after extra potassium, extra calcium, and a bath in Epsom salt.

Debra McVay's photo.

     With all of this craziness, pizza movie night got started late, so we didn't do any experimenting with the crust. We just stuck to the meatza crust. But since we were celebrating Harry Potter's birthday, we had to have a special dessert. I ended up making some cinnamon and sea-salt banana chips, and we topped them with almond butter and raisins. It was delicious.

     With the late start, and the fact that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a pretty long movie, I got a late start on my blog, and I was already pretty tired, so goodnight.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Whole 30: Day 11

     Today was not a great day. It really could have been better, but I was tired and developed a bit of a backache towards the end of my shift. Once I got home, it got better, but I had to deal with Cranky and the Hyper Boys. Apparently, the kids went to see my parents this afternoon, and while they were there, they had Paleo cookies and smoothies, and they came back wired and didn't tell Ray why. They also wouldn't settle and help out around the house like they're supposed to, which triggered Ray's stress issues. By the time I got home, Ray's sugar was close to 300, and he was in butt mode.

    And the day started off so good, too. We had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs with a side of avocado and olives. Once at work, it was pretty calm and I had time to make a list of things I need to do this weekend.

Debra McVay's photo.
     I had chicken, beet, and carrot salad and my cauliflower hummus with bell pepper slices. It was so hot at lunch, though. It was almost not worth it eating in my car.

     Then as the end of my shift approached, it decided to storm. Thunder, lightning, pouring rain. So I stuck around for an extra 15 minutes, waiting for the storm to pass.

Debra McVay's photo.     When I got home, I was greeted by an unusual smell. It turned out to be a combination of smells: cinnamon, clove, muskmelon, and beef bone broth. It was a strange combo of smells that are wonderful when separate, but not so great together. Then there was the cranking and grumping and it was upsetting.

     For dinner, we had leftover beef tongue with carrots and broccoli slaw, and it almost made up for a lousy day. Almost.

     Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. It's pizza movie night and Harry Potter's birthday. Since it's my turn to pick the movie, we'll be watching Harry Potter and having a little celebration. We'll also be trying a cauliflower pizza crust.

     As for tonight, I'm done. I have lost the ability to can. Goodnight.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Whole 30: Day 10

     Today was another 9-hour work shift, but I started it off with a wonderful bacon onion quiche. Eggs really help me power through my morning. It's rare that I even get hungry before lunch (which I usually don't get to eat until six hours after breakfast.

Debra McVay's photo.     Lunch was a Mediterranean chicken salad wrap. It poured down rain during my lunch, and I got soaked, but it was worth it to get out of the building and eat in peace. After lunch, I got to see Ray and Victor. Victor had just been to the dentist: no cavities.

     After work, we had oxtail with kale, onions, and peaches. They were really good, but we're thinking of cooking them differently next time.

     We all just relaxed in the living room together for the little bit of time we had before it was time for the kids to go to bed.

     Ray's sugar has been running a little higher the last two days, and as always, we're not sure why. Living with brittle Type I diabetes if really rough, but we continue to do all that we can through diet and exercise to try to manage it. And one of the things we can do to help is to make sure we get adequate sleep, so it's now time to say goodnight.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Whole 30: Day 9

     I took today off to go with Ray to his doctor's appointment. He recently changed doctors because his former doctor didn't listen to him, and the nurse practitioner he saw before that stopped allowing patients to bring someone back with them to the exam room, and between Ray's memory problems, anxiety issues, and paranoia, that was the worst thing she could do.

    Since this was his first time seeing the new doctor, his anxiety was very high, but she was awesome, and we really liked her. She actually listened and agreed to allow him to try for better management of his conditions through diet after he told her how the Whole 30 was helping him to control his blood sugar. She did, however, admonish him for eating breakfast before coming since she wanted to do blood work, and he informed her that his lab work would have to be earlier in the morning, if she didn't want him to eat because his appointment was at 10:00, but we didn't get back until 11:00, and that is way too long for a diabetic to go without eating or without insulin.

Debra McVay's photo.     We still had some shopping to do after that, since we were unable to get our meat on Saturday, so by the time we got home, it was 1:00. We decided to make a quicker lunch than what was on the menu, so we threw the cauliflower in some bone broth and fried our sardines. After lunch, I took a wonderful nap surrounded by my children. After I woke up, Ray and I danced together and then grabbed a shower.

     I finally got a chance to finish the menu for the next 10 days, just in time, so here it is:

Day 11:
Scrambled eggs with olives and avocado
Chicken, beet, and carrot salad
Leftover beef tongue with carrots and dates
Snacks: peppers w/cauliflower hummus, apple

Day 12:
Pumpkin tahini porridge w/raisins; blueberry and sage super sausage
Bacon, lettuce, and tomato salad with black pepper ranch
Meatz and salad
Snacks: melon, apple

Day 13:
Bacon and egg salad w/baked bananas
Pineapple burger with braised kale
Chicken fajita lettuce wraps with guacamole and butternut salad
Snacks: carrots w/red pepper cauliflower hummus, apple

Day 14:
Fruit salad with pistachios
Broc-cauli chowder
Fried eggs w/roasted Brussels and onions w/sweet mustard dressing
Snacks: pepper w/ranch, apple

Day 15:
Ham and butternut quiche
Caesar salad
Chicken livers w/plantain and apple fritters
Snacks: bacon jerky, apple

Day 16:
Coconut milk yogurt w/blueberries; bacon
Olive, tomato, an avocado salad w/sardine dressing
Meatza and salad
Snacks: devils on horseback, apple

Day 17:
Fiesta quiche
Chicken, avocado, and pepper salad w/date vinaigrette
Barbeque chicken stuffed sweet potato with broccoli and ranch
Snacks: carrots w/ranch, apple

Day 18:
Apple streusel quiche
Ham and sweet potato salad
Pan-fried sardines with baked butternut squash
Snacks: peppers w/baba ghanoush, apple

Day 19:
Egg cup with fermented carrots
Turkey, roasted turnip, and bacon salad
Ox tail w/onion jam and braised baby spinach
Snacks: carrots w/baba ghanoush, apple

Day 20:
Eggs w/breakfast bacon stir fry
Cucumber, tomato, sardine salad w/"cheesy" paprika ranch dressing
Bacon burger w/barbeque sauce, baked butternut squash, and pickles
Snacks: sweet potato chips, apple

     So far, the Whole 30 is really going well, and Ray and I are going to try to incorporate more Paleo-based exercise into our lives since we have more energy. On the days that I work 9 hours, Ray is going to try to make sure and move around, walking for a few minutes every hour. On my days off, we're going to try to get in at least one HIIT and one PEM, but we also love to dance.

     Well, it's late; I'm tired; and I have work tomorrow, so goodnight.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Whole 30: Day 8

     I don't know if it was me, but work was surprisingly chill today, even though it was busy. But before that, I started the day with green egg and ham quiche.

     And as always, I had lunch in my car. Ray made some delicious barbeque chicken and barbeque sauce that is made from tomato paste, blueberries, coconut aminos, and spices. We paired it with a tasty broccoli slaw and carrots with homemade ranch dipping saw.

     After work, I was awarded the site of an awesome VW Beatle. It was yellow with flowers painted on. The back windshield had a peace sign, and Woodstock '69 was painted on the back. It was truly far out.

     Back at home, the family got the kitchen and the bathrooms cleaned. They've been feeling a lot better and have had more energy, too.

     When I got home, we had chicken with bacon-y winter squash hash and relaxed. A delicious end to a pretty good day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Whole 30: Day 7

     This will be a short post. For one thing, I didn't take any pictures today, and for another, I'm exhausted. Today was an exhausting day at work, but I did have the energy to make it all the way through with only a 30 minute break for lunch in the middle of an 8-hour work day.

     Sundays are our vegetarian days because I found that eating meat seven days a week was making my toe hurt, which made me a little paranoid that it might be the onset of gout. So today we had fruit salad and pistachios for breakfast. I have a hard time with certain nuts, but these are on my okay list. I cannot eat pecans, walnuts, or macadamias, the latter making me very sad because I love macadamias. Lunch was a divine homemade roasted butternut squash soup seasoned with Chinese five spice. I plan on posting this recipe as soon as I can get a decent picture. I had planned on taking a picture of the soup at lunch, but I was having trouble keeping more than one thought in my head at a time, so I was halfway through dinner before I had this realization, and it was too late to take a picture of dinner, either. Dinner was winter squash hash with eggs.

     Other than having the dumb today, it was a really great day. My favorite parts were being home with the family and having Ray rub my very tired feet. Goodnight.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Whole 30: Day 6

     Mornings when the kids go to my parents' house are always hectic, and today was no different. We got everyone up early and had breakfast. Ray, Victor, and I like our eggs sunny-side up. Lydia likes hers fried, and Alex likes his scrambled. Ray makes them to order on the griddle all at the same time.

     After breakfast, with the kids gone, we had a couple of hours before we had to start lunch, so Ray took a nap because he was really sleepy, and he was going to drive us all to Dothan. I started working on the menu for the next ten days.

     For lunch, we had pan-fried sardines with sweet potato chips, and it was fabulous. Then we put together a snack and headed for my parents' to pick the kids up for a special treat, a surprise.

     We have an awesome 2nd-hand store in Dothan that holds all sorts of events, and today they held Harry Potter's birthday party. The kids were sorted into houses and able to make their own wands and golden snitches and answer trivia questions from the books and movies.

     After everyone else left, Ray, my mom, and I were allowed to get badges and sorted into houses as well. Ray got Slytherin. My mom got Hufflepuff, and I got Ravenclaw.
Only a Slytherin would wear that T-shirt
Typical Ravenclaw with an armload of books
Debra McVay's photo.     I found a cool seasonal cookbook that I'm going to use as inspiration for Paleo recipes, and my mom got me a really awesome sugar skull bag. Once we left there, everyone started talking about how hungry they were, so we broke out the rest of the bacon jerky and some watermelon and raisins for Ray because his sugar was dropping.

     We got our groceries for the week before making it back home. We threw our dinner into the pressure cooker, and just relaxed. We had chicken with broccoli, onion, and mushrooms, and for dessert, we had fresh diced peaches in coconut milk. This day went by too fast, and now it's time for bed, so goodnight.