Monday, March 25, 2013

Day Twenty-Five which I relate my poor decision Saturday night. I was really craving pizza. I mean really. So I ordered Domino's extra cheese pan crust with a side of stuffed cheesy bread. Oh, it smelled fantastic. It tasted fantastic. And then 10 minutes later I was banging my head against a wall wondering why in the world I had done that. I felt awful!

I have also made some excellent food lately. I've become slightly addicted to Delighted Momma's Three Minute Chocolate Paleo Mug Cake. I made roasted turkey legs with sage (Adam said this was my best yet, which I had to disagree with, but whatever), candied carrot coins, crispy skin salmon, a sauteed spinach salad with dates (I substituted raisins) and pine nuts from Practical Paleo, and Paleo sugar cookies thanks to a blog my mom found for me.

Roasted turkey w/ sage

Candied carrots

Salmon prep

Salmon sauteeing

Finished salmon with a wilted spinach salad with raisins and toasted pine nuts
Paleo sugar cookies, which were actually more like tea cakes, but still delicious!

I'm having knee surgery tomorrow, and working at the library tonight, so I'll be enjoying the leftover crispy skin salmon for dinner tonight.

During my convalescence (in which I have to put weight on my knee tomorrow after surgery, so hopefully it's not too excruciating), I'm going to be enjoying the ham I baked Wednesday night with the Paleo bread that Adam found (thank goodness! I had missed the convenience of sandwiches so much!) and homemade Paleo mayo. I also made sure that I got a lot of fruits and vegetables while I was grocery shopping last week, and I'll head back to the grocery store for more chicken breasts and lemons (it's amazing how fast we go back through lemons).

Any ideas on quick and easy meals that I can prep in advance and have ready to eat without too much time on my feet in the kitchen?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day Twenty a/k/a Weigh-In Wednesday

I lost another .7 pounds this week, bringing the total to 3 pounds. This makes for a healthy 1 lb/week, so I'm on the right track to my goal (just 6 more pounds)!

Last night was interesting, full of highs and lows. [On the nights my family ate around the table (most nights), we went around and each person told about their high point and low point of the day.]

I worked at the library, which is always a high, and scheduled a hair appointment with my recently re-found hairdresser (woot!). I got home from the library at 9:15 and told my husband that I'd be staying awake for a while because of a 10:30 webcast with the producers, some of the cast, and the great bearded glacier himself, George R.R. Martin, about the upcoming season of A Game of Thrones on HBO. We don't have HBO, so I have to wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, so it'll be fall (at least) before I get to see it, but I was hoping that Martin would maybe mention when book 6, The Winds of Winter, would be available.

Adam said, "Well, since you'll be up, why don't you go grocery shopping?" So we looked at Practical Paleo together, decided on some recipes, made a list of everything we'd need, and I left the house around 9:40. Factoring in a 5 minute each way drive to the grocery store and back and assuming Adam would unload the groceries and put them away once I got home, this left me with 30 minutes to shop.

At 10:15, I hadn't even finished in the produce section and resigned myself to not watching the webcast live, and walked a little more slowly to finish the rest of my list. The grocery store we go to has a "Scan it!" feature that means you can scan groceries as you shop and bag them before checking out at the register. At 10:30, the scanner stopped working. The system apparently turns itself off at 10:30. Seriously?! Seriously. There should be a sign.

I knew at that point that I would end up unbagging everything at the cash register and re-ringing everything up (thank God for patient and helpful store employees). I decided to finish up my list before submitting myself to that ordeal, and picked up 4 bags of dark chocolate chips. Unfortunately, one bag was split open and some inconsiderate shopper had put it back on the shelf anyway, so I ended up with chocolate chips in my purse, cart, and all over the floor.

This was Not. My. Night.

However, things turned around when I discovered that I've saved up enough gas reward points to get $0.30 off per gallon and that the door closest to my parking spot wasn't the one that gets locked up after a certain time at night.

Once I finally got home, I made Adam take charge of putting the groceries away while I made some kale chips. Delighted Momma's are much prettier than mine, but here's a shot of mine anyway.

My weigh-in this morning was definitely a good way to start the day, and my breakfast of a hard-boiled egg and blackberries was a good way to continue it. Lunch is an avocado, an orange, and some kale chips, and I have no idea what dinner will be--Adam is in charge of picking one of the recipes I bought ingredients for and making it, since I'm working at the library again and will only have a half-hour to be home and eat.

I also got a return call this morning from the health food store nearby that carries Julian Bakery's Paleo Bread that they'll reserve a couple of loaves for me from their most recent shipment (which should arrive tomorrow or Friday) and call again when it's available! I'm so excited to be able to add the quick "whatever, I'll just make a sandwich" back to the list of possibilities.

You now know my "high/low"s from yesterday. Here's to more highs and fewer lows today!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day Nineteen

So, I was pretty upset Saturday morning when I woke up after having a beer Friday night feeling grain-hungover instead of the usual alcohol hungover I used to get. I'm sorry, but my husband homebrews beer, so I need to be able to drink the occasional beer without being miserable. And then I celebrated on Sunday working my last library shift at another branch (the only one close to a Dairy Queen) by having an Oreo Blizzard and regretting that just an hour later. Sad times!

I had a couple of really great library experiences last weekend that have really confirmed my decision to get my Masters and pursue a career in the public library. On Saturday, I worked all day at my usual branch, and had a little girl give me an apple for "helping her take books home." And then on Sunday, at the other branch, I had a kid who got his first library card ever and his grandmother took a picture of us together, him grinning ear to ear. This. This is why I do what I do.

Sunday for lunch we had lime butternut squash soup, and it was TO DIE FOR. Super-easy too, and I thought it would take a lot longer than it did. I roasted cubed butternut squash in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees, then pureed it in my food processor, added 4 tablespoons of clarified butter, the zest from one lime, the juice from two limes, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, while keeping the food processor on high. I'm still eating that recipe now, and I had it for dinner yesterday with some pecans added in, and I'll have the last of it today.

I really need to get better at taking pictures of the foods as I prepare them and then the finished product, but here's the recipe, and there's a gorgeous picture of the soup on a much more lovely place setting than I bother with.

Nothing else terribly exciting foodwise, since I was so tired on Saturday after working at the library that I took an hour and a half nap in the bathtub (oops!) and then dragged myself to SaladWorks for my standard "create your own": field greens, chicken, pecans, cranberries, lemon capri dressing.

I really need to go grocery shopping, especially since I'm having surgery on my knee (FINALLY!) next Tuesday and will need to prep a few meals ahead of time so Adam doesn't have to worry about making them Paleo. Adam did find some Paleo bread for me yesterday, one made with almond flour and another made with coconut flour, so I'll be tracking down some of that to make last-minute meals easier.

Also: crazy things tempting me lately:

Why yes, that is the ridiculously organized candy drawer that is behind my desk. Why yes, most of it isn't for public consumption (just that tiny container of Twix and Snickers, etc.). Why yes, my co-worker did buy the enormous bag of Caramel Cremes because she knows I love them.

They have these downstairs at Walgreens right next to the dark chocolate that I do allow myself to buy... evil.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day Fifteen

Things are going well! I'm wearing a shirt today that used to really show off my "cupcake top" (I don't really eat muffins, but I'm a huge cupcake fiend), and Paleo has slimmed and trimmed enough that I can tuck it in to my jeans and not have to suck in to make it look okay. I lost another 0.6 pounds this week, bringing the total up to 2.3, and I'm feeling really good about that.

I've still been snacking on pistachios, sometimes supplementing meals like breakfast with them, but I'm trying to do a better job of eating more of the right things even if I don't feel particularly hungry. Yesterday for lunch I had modified chicken piccata, baked with artichoke hearts, capers, and lemon butter, and I'll have that again today for lunch.

Last night for dinner, I made what was supposed to be salmon and zucchini baked in parchment paper, but when I got home, I discovered that I love zucchini so much, the "that'll be plenty" that I bought at the grocery store was week was all gone! Instead, I made it with yellow squash, and it wasn't nearly as tasty.

My husband has been out of town the last two nights to attend his paternal grandmother's funeral in Louisiana, so I've had a lot of time to myself to snuggle with our dogs (they love it, but are confused in the mornings when Daddy's not home to climb back in bed with after their breakfast). This really equals that I've been doing a lot of reading, even more than I normally would, standing in the kitchen while things simmer on the stove or bake in the oven with a book and glass of water.

Last night, I picked up some craft materials at Target and decided to make a new case for my Nook SimpleTouch. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product last night, but here's the tutorial it's based on:

I might have to make another, bigger, just to carry as a clutch, because I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Also: I found a new resource for Paleo recipes! Not everything is Paleo, but enough of them are that I'll be adding it to my regular reading list and menu planning guide!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day Twelve

So, the lemon & rosemary salmon that I made a couple of nights ago was amazing! It was a perfect quick dinner between jobs last night. The Paleo chicken salad I made with the roasted chicken leftovers was still tasty after a weekend in the work fridge, but it had dried out a little bit--should've taken the homemade mayo with me to moisten it up a bit.

Lunch today was totally Paleo in content but not in amount. I had some pistachios. Yeah, that's it. I really wasn't hungry, even in the afternoon. Not quite sure what happened there, but oh well. (I did make up for it with some dark chocolate...)

Tonight for dinner we had baked chicken legs and roasted asparagus, both from Practical Paleo. I used twice the amount of olives called for in the recipe because I love olives and I thought my husband might like the opportunity to have a few. This was the first big-time "Adam approved" meal that I've made. He's tolerated the rest and said, "Eh, it's ok" (only when I ask for feedback, not just telling me because he was raised better than that).

I don't know why this won't turn the right way up...

My favorite part about today was the deep tissue massage. I go every other week for a massage with the fantastic Dane Tjaden, owner of Serenity Massage and Bodywork. I've been going for over a year now, and we've made stilted progress with my horrendously knotted up muscles, but I've also kept eating crap and not drinking enough water. It'll be interesting to see if cutting out the awful processed foods and eating Paleo will make a difference between massages.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I kind of suck as a blogger...

I totally forgot to take a picture of the chicken I made Thursday night for dinner, but it looked just like the picture in the book, I promise!

I used the leftovers to make chicken salad with homemade Paleo mayonnaise (not as hard to make as you'd think if you have a food processor--and if you don't have a food processor, WHY NOT?! GO GET ONE!), and have had it for lunch twice now. Amazing!

Since I last posted, I've also made Moo-less Chocolate Mousse from Practical Paleo and last night, I baked Lemon & Rosemary Salmon from Practical Paleo for dinner tonight. Since I work at the library tonight and won't have much time between jobs, it'll be nice to still have a filling meal that I can just pop in the oven to heat up (with some asparagus with lemon juice and butter to round out the meal).

Yesterday, our youth group had a fundraiser for our mission trip to Jamaica this summer. The fundraiser was a spaghetti dinner, and I sent flourless zucchini brownies with Adam to be my contribution (since I was working at the library and would miss most of the dinner prep and clean-up). Unfortunately, they were so popular that by the time I arrived at the church, they were all gone!

Before I started Paleo, I would snack like crazy once I got home from the library, which was unfortunate because it was mostly on ice cream or popcorn and it was always after 9:00, which is way too close to bedtime to be snacking on anything anyway.

I am still a pro at oversleeping, but I think I can attribute that to my "one more chapter" attitude towards reading in bed instead of diet. "One more chapter" almost always becomes "but I'm just 20 pages from finishing the book" which becomes "hm, I wonder how this next book on my reading list starts." Before I know it, my husband is coming to bed at his regular bedtime of way too late, and I still have my lamp on huddled under the covers with my Nook.

Good news: pretty much everyone I've been in contact with in the last week aside from my husband is "stay home from work" sick and I'm still feeling full strength, so that's hopefully a wonderful side effect from changing the way I eat!

In much worse news, I ask that everyone pray and send good thoughts for Lucille Miller and her family. Lucille is one of my very good friends and is suffering from a host of medical problems, and the most recent is a possible diagnosis of lymphoma (she met with a surgeon this morning to discuss diagnostic options). Her mom was finally released from the hospital after a difficult recovery from shoulder surgery, and her dad was recently admitted for complications from congestive heart failure. Please keep this wonderful family in your prayers--for healing, peace, and comfort.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day Seven (or the day after Weigh-In Wednesday)

I meant to post yesterday, but work (both jobs), Gone Girl, and sleep won out over posting an excited "I lost 1.7 pounds after 6 days of starting Paleo!" memo. But I did, and I am super-excited. I'm excited to see the changes in my body already--I'm more awake during the day, my clothes are starting to fit better even though my knee prevents me from working out the way I'd like to, and I'm losing weight. This is something that's not critical. I'm not obese and I apparently "carry my weight well" (according to my mother who thought I weighed 10 pounds less than I do). However, mom also informed me that 140 is the tipping point for women in our family--the "hard to go back," "what happened to your butt?" tipping point, and I was getting perilously close to that. As someone who had never been in the 130s until my best friend got pregnant and I gained the sympathy weight instead of her husband, I was horrified at what I had done to my body.

Adam tried to convince me that I was still skinny, that I looked great and he was (is) still attracted to me. However, years of reading stupid girl magazines and watching movies and seeing "Hollywood thin" take their toll and I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. I'm getting older--we all are--and my metabolism has slowed down. I can't eat everything and not gain weight like I could in high school. Poor body image is something that plagues most women if we're honest, deep down in our bones honest, and I am no exception. I really hope that living Paleo will help change my feelings about my body. While I know body image is a psychological thing and Paleo is going to be a physical change, I think that between Paleo and reassuring mantras, I'll be okay.

Food is such an important thing to me. I grew up in the South, where we take pride in our comfort food, the kind that sticks to your ribs and makes you lean back from the table after every meal thinking, "Oh my God; that was amazing." If anything happens (weddings, funerals, graduations, birthdays, sickness), we show up in droves with casseroles, desserts, soups. On Sundays, my mom almost always cooks Sunday Dinner, which is the midday meal, right after church. It isn't strange to have a few people who aren't blood relatives but who didn't have any plans or who we just weren't done visiting with around the table. The meal prayer was always simple: "Thank you, God, for food, family, and friends." The three most important things to us (not in that order, but at mealtimes, food takes precedence).

I still find that cooking soothes my soul. Maybe I don't do it all the time. My husband and I eat out a lot because I just have no energy to grocery shop and cook all the time. But the meals that I do cook, I feel content, proud that I have created something that will nourish another person. I love having people over to our house (even if it does mean that quick, last-minute, "shove everything in a room and close the door" cleaning) because of this pride and comfort I get from taking care of others.

So, enough introspection. Let's move on to the foods we've been eating lately. We've had salads (avocado and egg, avocado and oranges, spinach leaves with chicken and artichokes and orange slices), chicken sauteed in orange juice with apples caramelizing in the pan (Adam's idea and execution), zucchini pancakes, and tonight I'm finally going to do the roasted citrus chicken in Practical Paleo that I've been looking forward to ever since I flipped through the pages looking for ideas.

I'll try to remember to take pictures of the chicken tonight before we carve into it, and I'll try to post tomorrow with how it went.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day Five

I'm on Day 5 now, and I must admit that I've cheated a few times. I found a Cadbury cream egg that I bought before I started Paleo and forgot to eat. Now, I couldn't just leave it sitting there lonely, and I knew Adam would be upset if I left it as temptation for him, so I fell on the sword and ate it myself. Tasted delicious, felt horrible afterwards.

Saturday, Day Two, was horrible because I slept in and then had to rush to get ready for work. I scarfed down two of the chocolate chip muffins I made Friday night, and then left without eating anything else. I ended up leaving work early because I was so woozy and nauseated I could barely stand up. Came home and ate a fried egg (in clarified butter) and some blackberries and felt a ton better.

Aside from the not-eating-enough and whoops-I-can't-leave-that-delicious-treat-just-sitting-there moments, I've done pretty well and can tell a difference already. I'm less tired during the day and not craving mid-day snacks as much. My main problem is remembering to make lunch the night before since I'm pretty bad about (but good at!) oversleeping. Today I ended up getting a salad from one of my favorite restaurants (still Paleo) when I could have had a Mason jar salad if I'd thought about doing it last night.

Dinners are interesting on the nights I work at the library since I only have a half-hour. Yesterday I had Adam start boiling some eggs at 5 so by the time I got home they'd be ready and we could have egg & avocado salad for dinner (two ingredients: egg, avocado). I have no idea what we'll have tonight because all of the meals I'd laid out last week require too much prep to be done and still give me time to eat.

I really need to make time to make the herb-salt blends recommended in Practical Paleo, but they require four hours of roasting in the oven to pull moisture out, and anytime I have four hours, I would much rather be sleeping or reading. (Yes, I know, I could put it in the oven and then sleep and/or read, but when sleeping and reading are on the agenda, everything else takes a back seat--sorry Adam.)

So there's your latest update. Is anyone thinking about starting Paleo? I'd love to walk side-by-side with you and encourage you (and get encouragement) on your journey!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Day One

The most exciting part of my day so far has been that my doctor finally ordered an MRI for my knee and that the imaging center had an open appointment, so I've already had my MRI--all before lunch!

Breakfast was that quiche that I mixed up last night. It isn't swirly like the pictures in the cookbook because I forgot to "create a swirl pattern with a fork before baking," but it was pretty tasty. Next time, I'll re-strain the zucchini/carrot mixture to remove additional moisture because the quiche ended up pretty damp.

Lunch was a spinach salad with sauteed chicken, pine nuts, and blueberries with an orange vinaigrette that I made last night. I forgot to take a picture--I got way too excited about how delicious it looked, and once I took my first bite, I couldn't stop to take a picture because it tasted as good as it looked.

I did find myself hungry after finishing it though, and had trouble resisting the candy drawer behind my office chair (to replenish the candy jar that's on my desk for visitors) and the canister of pretzels in our break room. I made a quick trip to the Walgreen's downstairs for some dark chocolate to tide me over.

Tonight I worked at the library, and only had a half-hour between getting home from my full-time job and leaving for my part-time job, so I had another portion of my lunch salad for dinner.

 I've got a batch of muffins in the oven right now for a midnight snack/tomorrow's breakfast.

I'm already noticing that I'm becoming a bit of a Paleo-pusher, grimacing when co-workers tell me what they've eaten and biting my tongue to keep from telling them what those foods are doing to their bodies. Oops! Let's work on that poker face...