Thursday, December 27, 2012

In the Glow of Christmas

It's been busy here lately, hence the pathetic lack of posts. Christmas preparations were frantic, but Christmas Day - and the days since - have been calm and lovely and filled with fun and visits.

Dinos from Santa

Happy with her stocking contents

Celebratory breakfast - coconut flour waffles and bacon

Three happy kids in their Christmas Eve jammies

Three less-than-happy kids, way past bedtime on Christmas Day!

Princess Light for Baby Belle

A brave knight for Music Man

A fierce, fire-breathing dragon for the whole gang

Mermaid Princess Honour for Princess

The whole home-made gang that kept me VERY busy recently!
The little quiet toys I gave the kids are made of acrylic felt. I'd love to be able to make another set down the road out of wool felt - once I can afford it! Also, I didn't include it in the photo, but the mermaid princess transforms into a girl - her tail comes off, and she has a little pink skirt. My Princess loves her princess!

(You might also notice that Music Man's knight is of a much fairer complexion than his sister princesses. My middle child has inherited my complexion, while my daughters bear much more resemblance to their father.)

Our Christmas Day was simple, and just right. The kids opened their stockings from Santa, then we had our big waffle breakfast, then the kids opened their gifts from us. They each got one "big" gift from us, their little felt friend, and a big pile of art and craft supplies to share. We really try to down-play the gift part of Christmas, and so far it's working. We realize this will get harder as the kids get older and compare gift lists in January with their classmates. Until then, I'll enjoy how excited Princess gets over a brand new pair of child-safe scissors.

Tonight my parents arrive, and Christmas will happen all over again tomorrow. They're bringing some gifts for the kids, and I'll cook a turkey dinner which my in-laws will join us for. Then two days later I'm throwing a (large-ish) birthday party for my sweet, loving, hard-working husband. I tell you all this to explain in advance why you're not likely to see many posts in the next week, but I assure you that "More blogging!!" is on my list of New Year's resolutions.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Time for a Quickie

I just spent a crazy 48 hours in my hometown, celebrating my mother's 60th birthday. While I was there, one of my nephews ended up being hospitalized for blood poisoning. It killed me to not get to visit with him and my sister more while I was there, but I have a minor hospital phobia which is multiplied a hundred fold while pregnant. (Every time I have to go to the hospital when I'm pregnant - for my GTT and WinRho - I end up getting crazy sick within 24-48 hours. Every. single. time.) Happily, my sweet little nephew is now at home recovering with his family, who I'm sure are as relieved as he is that the IV is a thing of the past!

I have a cold. I woke up with almost no voice this morning, and I've been coughing quite a bit. Since I'm sick anyway, I should have just gone to the hospital. *sigh*

I'm 10 weeks pregnant as of today. 29 weeks (or less) to go!

We're taking Princess, Music Man and Baby Belle to meet Santa at the mall once Francis gets home from work. That, in itself, would be crazy enough, but to add to the excitement we'll be meeting up with my in-laws, Francis' two siblings, their spouses, three nephews and one niece. Fingers crossed we can actually get a picture with all seven children!

It's way harder to stay Paleo in the midst of morning sickness, cravings and aversions than I ever thought it would be. I had a nice, healthy bowl of coconut curry cabbage (a long-time favourite) for lunch, then immediately fell face-first into some chocolate ice cream... which was swirled with peanut butter... and studded with teeny little peanut butter cups... *sigh* I'm seriously considering tackling a Whole30 once I hit my second trimester, and (hopefully) am feeling a little better. (No, I'm not hoping to lose weight while pregnant. I have no intention of limiting my carbs, and actually intend to eat quite a bit of fruit, sweet potato and butternut squash to make sure I'm getting everything I need for a happy, healthy baby!)

I'm still nowhere close to being ready for Christmas, and I'm starting to freak out. I have zero energy for anything once the kids are in bed. Honestly, they're tucked in between 7 and 7:30pm, and I'm usually under my own covers by about 8pm. I'm an old lady.

I won a blogger give-away! I'm so excited! Check out the beautiful headband/ear warmer I won! While you're at Rebekah's blog, be sure to click the link to her Etsy shop. It might be too late to order Christmas gifts, but it's always a good idea to treat yourself to a little post-Christmas pat-on-the-back-for-getting-it-all-done gift. :)

I opted not to enter Carly's give-away, just on the off chance I'd win - I didn't think it would be fair of me to win two great prizes in a week. However, YOU should go over to her blog and enter to win one of three different toys from Sears.

That's about all I've got for now. I have to go convince Music Man to get out of his pajamas in time to go pick up Princess from school. It's been that kind of day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


How far along? Eight weeks and one day pregnant! But it really feels like I should be much farther along by now. With each subsequent pregnancy it feels like the time goes slower and slower.
Total weight gain: Negative two pounds. I had initially lost four pounds, but have gained two back. My appetite is still generally terribly small, and the number of foods that sound appealing to me is even smaller. 
Maternity clothes? Just started. *sigh* I was hoping to hold out a little longer, but it appears that my body remembers exactly how to look pregnant after having done this three times before! Can't say I'm enjoying wearing the funny pants, but definitely enjoying shopping for them! Second-hand, of course. It was 50% off day at Value Village last week, and I scored two cute pairs of maternity jeans for a grand total of $5.09 after tax. I've also bought a couple of dresses, but they're regular dresses with enough stretch to work on a pregnant body. Is it just me, or do just about all maternity dresses look incredibly unflattering? 
Sleep? My dear, sweet, amazing, saintly husband has taken over with Baby Belle in hopes of teaching her to sleep all night and leave Mommy the heck alone. It's been such a Godsend, because the less I sleep, the less manageable my morning sickness is. Now I'm starting to get some uninterrupted rest at night, and I've been able to squeeze in at least a little nap just about every day, and that really helps.
Best moment this week: Now when Norah draws a family portrait (or any picture featuring me), she draws New Baby in my tummy. 
Movement? Too early, but I don't expect it's far off. With Princess and Baby Belle I could feel definite movement by 13 weeks. Music Man was never an active baby, so I didn't notice anything from him until about 17-18 weeks, and even after that he was a laid-back kid. I really hope this one's a mover, for the sake of the other kids who will get such a kick out of... well, kicks.
Gender? We've decided not to find out this time. *sigh* I want to, but Francis doesn't. Since I got my preference last time, I decided it was only fair to let him win this time. Plus it's a great moment in the operating room to hear my husband be the one to announce the baby's gender.
Cravings? Caaaaarbs. For the first little while, it was sweet potato fries. Couldn't get enough of them! Now, they don't really appeal to me at all, but I'm working my way through a giant batch of potato salad. Plus it's been much harder than I thought it would be to stay mostly Paleo. My sweet tooth gets the better of me every. single. time.
What I miss: Coffee. I'm not one of those never-have-caffeine-while-pregnant women, I just don't think my stomach can handle it right now. 
What I’m looking forward to: Christmas! I know it's still weeks away, but the Christmas buzz in the air is unmistakable. I love the get-togethers with family and friends, crafting, shopping, wrapping and baking. I'm looking forward to having my teacher husband home for two and a half weeks (!!) and having my parents visit for about half of that time.
Weekly wisdom: Take sleep whenever you can get it. Even if it means letting the kids watch a little more TV than they're usually allowed.
Milestones: Finally got in to see my GP last night. He informed me that my favourite OBGYN is really booked up right now, so it'll be a couple of months before I can get in to see her. That just means I'll be seeing my GP for my check-ups for now. He's great, and I really respect him, except... well, he's Movember-ing right now, and it's *really* hard to take him seriously. Totally baby-faced, but with a giant 'stache. It's pretty awesome!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why I'm Not Losing Weight

I've been wracking my brain for a week now, trying to come up with a cute or clever way to say this.

But I got nuthin'. So here goes:

I'm pregnant.

Was there ever a better reason to not lose weight? :)

My husband and I recently decided we were ready for one more (this makes four!), and we're blessed that it happened right away. We wanted to time it so the baby will be born at the beginning of the summer (due July 9th, c-section will be scheduled around the 2nd), so I'll have him at home for two whole months while I recover and adjust. Then when he goes back to work in September, both Princess and Music Man will be in school full-time, so I'll still only have two littles at home for most of the day.

The other kids are over-the-moon excited. Especially Princess, who keeps talking and singing to my non-existent belly (I'm only a little over 6 weeks, after all!), and telling everyone that we have a new baby on the way. (She told the hostess at the restaurant we went to on Wednesday. The poor kid - she was maybe 17 - had no idea what to say.)

So there you have it. We're just going ahead and being counter-cultural again! You don't see many families with four or more kids these days (unless you live in our town), and you certainly don't see many women announcing a pregnancy before they clear the first trimester. So why the early announcement?

Well, two reasons. One is practical - in the past I had horrible, unending "morning" sickness that knocked me off my feet for months. It's hard to hide that, and it's also nice to be able to ask for help when I can't keep up. This time, fortunately, it would appear that a (mostly) Paleo diet has pretty much cured my morning sickness. I still get sick if I wait too long before eating or if I don't rest enough, but it's 100% manageable. (My previous three pregnancies were so rough I lost 10-15lbs in my first trimester each time!)

The second reason is personal/spiritual/philosophical/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. See, this baby is part of our family already. I don't generally like keeping family members secret. S/he isn't much bigger than a sesame seed, but there's already a teeny poppy seed-sized heart beating away in there! We really believe that life is beautiful and sacred and worth celebrating at every stage. And if, God forbid, we lose this baby, then we'll be grateful for the support we know we'd receive. I've been though a miscarriage before, with our first baby. I was just over 5 weeks pregnant, a point when lots of women haven't even figured out they're pregnant. We hadn't told anyone yet, only because I had an upcoming visit to my parents' house, and I was waiting to tell them in person. Because I miscarried before I got there, I had to explain everything in my grief, which was so hard. I really don't think that, for me, it would be any easier to deal with a secret loss than one everyone knows about. (That's just me - every woman has to go with her gut on this one.) So, that being said, we're gratefully accepting all prayers, positive thoughts and good vibes you'd care to send our way!

I'm hoping this time around to gain a little less weight than I did in the past, just by sticking to an 80% Paleo diet. (Yes, 80%. Don't even TRY to tell this pregnant lady she can't have some Baskin Robins once in a while!!) In fact, if I can keep my weight-gain to 20-25lbs, I'll end this pregnancy around the same weight I was when I conceived Princess! Fingers (and toes) crossed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where Did I Go??

Wondering where I went?

Oy, sorry. I've been thoroughly neglecting the blogosphere.

I have no good excuse, really. Just a whole long list of teeny little excuses that have all piled up. Like the incredible amount of time I've been spending sewing! I made Princess and Music Man's Halloween costumes:

I was given requests for a "pink and purple mermaid princess" costume, and a "blue dragon with a blue tummy and blue spikes" costume. I pulled them off, both without the benefit of a pattern. Baby Belle's costume, on the other hand, was a consignment store find. She's too young to care, it was the right size, a great price, and fit with the mythical-creatures theme!

In addition to the costumes, I've been churning out Christmas gifts at a steady pace. We try to keep our gifts simple, relatively inexpensive, and mostly hand-made. Most of the people we give gifts to don't need much "stuff", and it's more about the gesture. Plus the hours I put into making something should communicate that the person is important to us! (I'd post pictures, but many of them are for my nephews, and my sister reads this blog - got to keep them a surprise!)

I will, however, share this photo of something I made the other day, as it's similar in construction to several of the gifts I've made:

Felt Snow White!! She was the test-run and now on her way to her new home, and I'm now making a set of princesses, princes, knight and dragon for my kids for Christmas!

We also got to meet our first niece for the first time! My sister has two boys and my husband's sister has three, so having a nice at long last is a big deal for me (mostly because it gives me another girl to sew for).  This picture is also because a friend requested to see what I look like with short hair:

Baby Belle was so excited to see her newest cousin! She's finally at the right age to be completely fascinated with babies. (I should add that BB is older than her baby hair makes her look. She's over 20 months old.)

Then we had houseguests. Mostly just my mother who was here for 12 days, but also my sister, her husband and their two small sons came to stay for a couple of days. What happy chaos! Ten fun-loving people in a small, 3-bedroom bungalow! We feasted and played and had a marvelous time.

There's another important project I've got on the go right now that I'm not quite ready to go into detail about. But it's a biggie, and it'll most definitely be influencing what I post about here, so stay tuned for that one in the next day or two.

Lastly, I should mention the results of my 21 Day Sugar Detox:

Holy cow. I have way more emotional-eating issues than I was aware of! I didn't get all the way through the 21 days. In fact, I fell face-first into a pan of homemade granola bars somewhere around day 10, I think. What I did learn, though, is that different emotions trigger different cravings. And mostly, those cravings have way more to do with texture than taste. The awarenesses I gained even from that short time were fantastic, and I'm looking forward to tackling the 21DSD again in the future.

For now, however, I really need to get back on track with my eating habits. Nicole and the gang started a Whole30 on the first of the month. My original plan was to join them, but I then decided to postpone until my mother heads home and life settles down a little. Now, however, I'm modifying my plans once again. I don't think this is the right time for a Whole30 for me, mostly because I know I'll need to be relying on some SWYPO foods in the next little while. So, instead of a Whole30, I'm going to do a Paleo For 30 challenge. Which means I can still eat Paleo-fied muffins without guilt, and if I put a little honey in a glaze for some meat I'm not going to stress about it. But I will not be pigging out on Paleo treats every day! I'm just going to work on getting back to the meat-veg-fats basics for 90% of the time.

And now, I'm off to feed my kids lunch, get them sorted out for nap/quiet time, and assemble a cake for a going-away party. I'll post pictures of that later - with more things to say!

Friday, September 21, 2012

End of Day Five


Just, WOW.

Only five days in (and 16 to go) and I can't believe what I've already learned about my eating habits!* So many times I've wandered into the kitchen thinking, "I'm hungry. I need a snack." I go to grab a banana or an apple, and suddenly my hand freezes when I remember the detox. I look around the kitchen some more, stare at the leftovers or the three big bags of nuts in my fridge, then close the door and walk away bummed.

All I really wanted was an apple! When I want an apple, a handful of pecans just won't cut it.

But here's the thing: the "hunger" goes away. It doesn't get stronger, or even hang around. It's just... gone. Which makes me realize it wasn't really hunger in the first place. Chances are it was either thirst or just plain old habit.

The result of that scenario playing out repeatedly is that I've hardly been snacking. Actually, I've had three snacks in five days (all nuts). That's remarkable for me. I eat a substantial breakfast (usually 2 or 3 eggs with kale, some ground pork and decaf with coconut milk) and then I'm not hungry until lunch time, usually between 12:30 and 1pm. I've been typically eating leftovers for lunch (and averaging half an avocado at lunch each day) then I'm just starting to feel hunger when it's time for supper between 5:30 and 6pm.

And so far, I'm down 2.5lbs, and I suspect that's primarily from my mid-section as my jeans feel different already.

I am feeling so stretched right now. The cravings for sugar are still frequent and intense - hard to fight off, for sure. I am sure the next 16 days will continue to challenge me in different ways, but I'm hopeful that these new insights will stick with me on Day 22 and beyond, and maybe I won't be such a slave to my sugar demons anymore.

(I definitely learned a lot during both my Whole30 experiences, but never once felt as "deprived" as I do now. I'm surprised by how much I was really relying on fresh fruit, dates and sweet potatoes to fill the junk food void!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crazy Cravings!

I'm on day 2 of the 21-Day Sugar Detox, and already I'm struggling more than I did at any point in either of the two Whole30s I've done. Sheesh. I didn't realize just how much I relied on fruit to satisfy sugar cravings! Now that they're "off-limits", I'm realizing just how frequently (and intensely!) the desire for something sweet hits.

Take this evening, for example. I had a wonderfully satisfying dinner (taco drumsticks with guacamole dip!), and wasn't in the least bit hungry. But then I had a trigger- a moment of feeling like I "deserved a treat" because I had to (brace yourselves...) pick up a #2 accident off the bathroom floor.

Aren't you glad I shared that?

I figured if I had to do that, then surely I should reward myself with... with... huh. Nothing, I guess. But man, did I ever want to crack open the bottle of wine in the pantry and send my husband out for ice cream! Not that eating/drinking that stuff would solve anything (or make me any less grossed-out), but that was what I wanted.

So here I sit, an hour later, waiting for my licorice root tea to steep. I'll drink that and go to bed early, rather than stare at my kitchen and daydream about the dates I know are stashed away in the snack cupboard...

Monday, September 17, 2012


I've been doing some more reading about adrenal fatigue, particularly in terms of what I should and shouldn't be doing for exercise, and what I should and shouldn't be eating. Oy.

Some of the foods on the "to eat" list are among my favourites and make regular appearances in my meals. The list includes: ground flax seed, extra virgin organic coconut oil, fish oil, wild caught salmon, minimal-mercury albacore tuna, sprouted walnuts, sprouts, green and black olives, peppers, spinach, celery and zucchini. I don't eat olives (I've tried!), I'm not a huge fan of salmon, and I haven't been sprouting my walnuts. Other than that, those are all things that are in my standard repertoire. The sad thing is the "don't eat" list. It includes raisins, dates, melons and bananas. But those are some of my favourites!

As I continued my reading, it became obvious that the ideal diet for healing my adrenals is free of processed foods, low-carb, high in quality fats, and low in sugar. That's pretty much the way I eat most of the time - except the sugar thing. I do eat a lot of fruit. And too many "Paleo treats" with honey or maple syrup.

Now I realize that eating an apple is not the same thing as eating a candy bar. There is far more nutritional value in an apple, but it's still sugar. It still raises blood sugar, which further taxes the adrenal glands.

I've been working on prioritizing my health and healing, but I realize now that I need to really get a grip on my sugar cravings. Even satisfying them with fruit isn't doing me any long-term favours as I try to recover. So, with slightly less enthusiasm than I had when beginning my Whole30s, I've now begun a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Sounds way more intense than it really is! There's no crazy detox-drink, no restriction in quantities, just the removal of sugar - in all its forms.

I'm continuing to take my vitamins and drink lots of licorice tea. I'm sticking to non-strenuous exercise right now, even though I miss my two favourite trainers a lot. I know my favourite work-out videos will still be there when I'm feeling up to it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Breaking the Silence

So, what have I been up to? Many much stuffs. Mucho stuffs. Heaps and piles of stuffs.

Food-wise, I admit to having made some not-so-stellar food choices. Some of them were definitely worth it - homemade gluten-free BBQ chicken pizza - and some were not - M&Ms are way better in my imagination than in my mouth.

I'm doing my best to get back on track by taking part in Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge. (I seem to thrive when I have rules, and wander when I'm on my own...) I'm aiming to stick to strictly Primal foods (which, of course, gives me more flexibility than Whole30-approved foods), exercise more, and - above all - find more opportunities for play in my life. A big part of that is learning to find joy and a sense of play in the tasks I have to do. Which leads me to...

I'm working on a massive purge/declutter/cleaning/organization of my entire house. And I'm learning to love doing it!! I recently read a book in which the author likens homemaking to God's creative work in the book of Genesis. Just as God created a paradise for Adam and Eve, so am I called to make a sort of paradise for my family. I think that creating a paradise at home encompasses many things, but one of them is certainly our physical surroundings. So I'm working on a 14-week challenge that will likely take me more like 28 weeks with my three small interrupters by my side. :)

In other news, Princess has had a rocky start to her life as a student. I won't bore you with the details, but here's a Reader's Digest version: First day, took me two hours to get out of her school - she was hysterical. She went to school for three days, then missed four. Finally convinced her to go for just half a day today, then as soon as she got home she said she wanted to go back for the afternoon. Go figure.

Music Man was the most stubborn kid in the world when it came to potty training. Seriously - he's over three, and we've been at this for months. Then on Monday, he just woke up and decided to do it. He takes himself to the washroom, does his business, and only calls if he needs assistance with a button on his pants or maybe a #2 wipe. Go figure. At least this means I'm finally down to only one kid in diapers!

In totally unrelated news, I've been sewing again. In the last week I've made two baby blankets, two baby sun bonnets, one baby toque, a coffee cup sleeve, and some doll clothes. Gotta make sure I'm not too rusty to whip up some Halloween and All Saints costumes, then hit some Christmas gifts!

I hope the craziness that is September is going easy on all of you. I promise to make more time to write!

Breakfast: Kale, eggs and cherry tomatoes, with 2 slices of bacon. Two cups of decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: Indulgence! Homemade vanilla coconut milk ice cream with a generous scoop of grain-free cinnamon granola.
Supper: Paleo fried chicken, roasted broccoli, and sliced tomatoes - the reddest I've ever seen!
Snacks: Half a Honeycrisp apple, some more granola.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It Ended Early

Well, I didn't quite make it to 40 days, even though I had decided I would tough it out. I made it until supper time on the 39th day, when the wedding reception got the better of me.

I had done my best to stay compliant while visiting family - I ate some ham, but only a little, so I can't even fathom how small an amount of sugar would have made it into my body, and at one point I used butter to sautee my kale, because I hadn't made it out to the store to pick up ghee/coconut oil. When the reception rolled around, my plan was to skip the grains and just enjoy some meat and veggies, without stressing about small amounts of sugar in the salad dressing or "bad" oils in the cooking of the meat.

When I walked up to the table to get my food, my options were: roasted pork loin, tossed salad with Kraft dressings, potato salad, quinoa salad and white dinner rolls with margarine. I figured it mightn't fill me up too well, but I'd just go for the salad and pork.

Just then the woman who was in charge of the food came out and said, "Which one of you is gluten-free?", so I identified myself. She then informed me there was a separate bowl of potato salad made just for me - how could I not take some? Shoot. Oh well, white potatoes and a little Hellman's - not the end of the world. I took a little and headed back to my seat.

The next thing I noticed was the lack of beverage options. I hadn't brought money, since I wasn't intending to make use of the cash bar, but it turned out that was my only option for getting water. The only things provided were red or white wine, tea and coffee. I guess I had a "WTF" moment, and had half a glass of white wine.

After dinner ended, I went out to the deck to try to make a call. I hadn't even looked at the dessert buffet, and had no intention of eating any. But when the mother of the bride came out to find me while carrying a plate of gluten-free desserts for me, I had a slice of chocolate cake. I didn't feel that it would be charitable to say no at that point.

So that was the rather unceremonious end to my Whole40 Whole38.67. I can tell you this much, though: about 15 minutes after I ate that dessert I started to feel gross. A headache began to creep up from the base of my neck, and I felt rather nauseated. I'm certain it was far to much sugar after going that long without it!

I think now it's going to be a challenge to continue to maintain the kind of eating that makes my body feel good. There are so many temptations, and my tendency to eat emotionally will be in full-effect tomorrow: my firstborn will be starting school!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 35 of 40 - Aprehensive

Isn't it ridiculous? I've been so excited to have a weekend away by myself, and now that it's 48 hours away I'm starting to freak out a little.

Even though my husband is perfectly capable of taking care of his own children, I'm worried he'll be overwhelmed by having to do it all - and he'll end up resenting me for going away. Even though he's very at home in the kitchen and cooks really well, I still feel like I need to spend the next two days preparing meals and snacks to have in the fridge or freezer.

I guess it's my "provider" side. Even though I don't work outside the home or bring in an income, I provide for my family by creating a sense of home in our house, preparing meals, caring for the children, etc. How strange it will be to not do any of those things for three whole days?

And what will I do while I'm away? Well, I'm considering going straight from the airport to a pub to hear my old band play on Thursday night. I'm hoping to do some fabric shopping with my mother to prepare for making the children's Halloween costumes*. The weddings are on Saturday, so that takes care of most of that day. Other than that, I hope to sleep a good deal, and visit with family. And all the while I'll do my best not to worry about Francis and the children at home. Oh, and I'll try not to think about the fact that after I get back on Sunday evening, we have only ONE day left before Princess starts school next Tuesday! Argh!

(I should add that this will be my first time travelling alone since I was seven months pregnant with Princess who is now four and a half. And I've never been away overnight without at least one child!)

Breakfast: Two banana muffins sliced and French toasted with strawberries on top. A cup of licorice tea.
Lunch: Ground chicken with fajita seasoning topped with a heap of cherry tomatoes, salsa and half an avocado.
Supper: Ooh la la! I made the Char Siu (Chinese BBQ pork) from Well Fed. A little labour-intensive for a Tuesday night, but well worth the effort! We chowed down on the delicious pork with a side of roasted cauliflower and broccoli. (My husband said the pork was "soooooo good!", even saying it was better than his mother's!)
Snacks: A handful of sweet potato chips and TOO MANY DATES.

* Princess wants to be a mermaid with a shimmery purple tail, Music Man would like to be a blue dragon with big claws, and Francis and I think Baby Belle ought to be a little kitten because her "meow" sound is TO DIE FOR.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 34 of 40 - Pay It Forward

I'm so grateful that Nicole told me about Whole30 and a grain-free lifestyle so many months ago. Tonight I had a chance to share with three other women about what I've learned and gained from eating this way, and help to empower them to begin to make changes in their own diets.

We talked about the reasons behind eliminating certain foods (like grains) and the reasons for including others (like coconut oil, and other healthy fats). We snacked on chocolate truffles made with dates, and we each had a slice of breakfast cake, which the other ladies enjoyed with a scoop of coconut milk ice cream. They shared concerns, fears, uncertainties (especially in regards to feeding husbands and children) - and I did my best to share reassurance, tips, recipes and even a little pep talk.

I'm hoping they went home feeling a little more informed. I know I enjoyed our time together, and I'm looking forward to our follow-up visit down the road.

Breakfast: Kale, eggs, tomatoes and ground chicken cooked with homemade fajita seasoning. Licorice tea.
Lunch: Hamburger salad - mixed greens, chopped up burger patty, onions sauteed in ghee, chopped avocado and cherry tomatoes.
Supper: Stuffed pork tenderloin and roasted cauliflower.
Snacks: Two snack balls and a slice of breakfast cake.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 33 of 40 - Fail. Or Not?

Short version, busy tonight.

We had brunch today with a family we've known for many years, since before Francis and I even started dating. He is a deacon at our old church, and she is the church secretary. Wonderful people. They invited us to come and eat with them, their middle son, his wife and their toddler. I didn't have the heart to say, "Sure, we'll come, but I just can't eat anything you make, so I'll bring all my own food. 'Kay?" This woman is known for her hospitality, and I just couldn't bring myself to snub her food like that.

Long story short, I brought some muffins that I knew Baby Belle would be able to eat, so I had one of those and did the best I could with everything else - which included white potatoes, and a mayo-based salad dressing.

The bad news: My tummy isn't happy. The good news: I'm not feeling "guilty" or like I "cheated". I feel like I navigated the situation rather well, and it in no way made me want to go off the rails. I'm calling it a success.

Breakfast: One and a half banana muffins.
Lunch: One muffin, one (approved) Italian sausage (the same brand we always buy), a small scoop of roasted potatoes, and a serving of Seven Layer Salad. I just tried to scoop from the bottom of the bowl - the parts everyone else missed - so I got mostly spinach, celery, water chestnuts and a little bit of bacon. There was some dressing on it, but I'm pretty sure I bypassed the cheese. Two cups of coffee with coconut milk.
Supper: A chicken leg, sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
Snacks: Another one and a half muffins, a banana with a handful of walnuts. A cup of licorice tea.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 32 of 40 - Produce!

Just need to share my excitement about a handful of quick things, then I have to go hit the kitchen again.

First: My husband was about to purchase some "free-roam" eggs from the woman we get our veggie box (and up-coming grass-fed beef) from, and she did us a big favour. She turned down our business, and instead gave us the address to her sister's house. Her sister sells free-RANGE eggs, which are vastly superior AND cheaper! (Only $3 a dozen. That's only $.60 more than Costco!) There's a little addition on the side of this woman's house which has a small fridge filled with eggs, and a bowl for you to leave your money in. Totally on the honour system. And we know the eggs were free-range because we had to maneuver carefully out of the driveway so as not to run over the chickens!

The second great thing was my conversation with our farmer. I told her we were interested in including more organ meats in our diet, so I asked if I could buy some livers (beef and chicken) from her. She's not sure if the butcher who does her chickens will save them or not ("he's pretty cranky", she said), but she'll sell me some beef livers for a great price. (I intend to grind them and hide them in our burgers, meatloaves, meatballs, etc.) I asked her about bones for making stock, and she said she'd give them to me! Even the lousy bones at the grocery store don't come free! I'm excited!

Third, we stopped by our local community garden on the way home from picking up our eggs and Princess and Music Man helped us pick some candy-like cherry tomatoes, yellow beans and snow peas.

Lastly, after the kids' naps we drove down the street to a small produce market. (Most of the stuff is local, and most of the non-local stuff is at least from around the province. There are only a couple of imported items.) We picked up lettuce for wraps, celery, four sweet peppers, three bulbs of garlic, a giant zucchini, green onions, and a red onion for just over $6.

I love where we live!

Now our fridge is bursting with beautiful produce (because we also got our regular weekly load!), and I have some serious organizing to do! I'm going to do some washing, chopping and freezing, so we have stir-fry mixes ready to go in the freezer. (One more mention of how grateful I am to finally have a big freezer!)

Breakfast: The usual plus one and a half pieces of bacon.
Lunch: Two thighs, a drumstick, a handful of cherry tomatoes and some roasted cauliflower.
Supper: A leftover hamburger topped with more sauteed onions and a side of coconut curry stir-fried veggies (snow peas, yellow beans, green pepper, cauliflower, purple carrots and onions).

P.S. We already have brunch plans for tomorrow, otherwise I'd be making these. I can assure you they'll be on the menu in the very near future!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 31 of 40 - It's Over

No, not my Whole40. I'm sticking with it. (I may even go longer, just to see how far I can go before I find something really worth splurging on!)

My relationship with my scale is over. I did one final weigh-in today to mark the end of the official 30-day period, and now I'm shelving it.

I am once again able to slip effortlessly into my size 4 skinny jeans, and that was one of the things I hoped for - for my clothes to fit properly again. If my clothes get too tight again, I'll know I need to dial in my eating. And if they get too loose and I need to go down another size, then I'll know my body composition has changed. Really, knowing how much pull the earth's gravity has on my body isn't important, so I'm just going to stop keeping track. Besides, the hormonal fluctuations I'm dealing with right now are wreaking havoc on my energy and appetite, and no doubt will affect my weight as well. It's just not worth stressing over any more.

I started a new fitness program yesterday, because I just really love the structure and accountability it brings. Of course, I have no interest in her meal plans, but I enjoy the style of her workouts. I'm going to focus on increasing my strength, muscle definition and endurance, as well as continuing to prioritize healthy eating.

Anyway, in honour of finishing 30 days of Whole30 eating, I thought I'd revisit some of my goals and objectives that I started out with:
-Get plenty of rest. Even though my kids can't be counted on to sleep through the night, I've been doing what I can by going to bed early. I was in bed no later than 10pm almost all of the last 30 nights, and there were just two or three times I was up until about 10:45pm. The bad news is, I've only spent 3 of the last 30 nights in my own bed for the whole night. (Crazy kids...) The good news is, I'm sleeping far more deeply and soundly than I have in a really long time. Much more restorative sleep, I'm sure.
-Take my vitamins diligently, and drink my new licorice root extract tea. I've acquired a taste for the tea and have been generally drinking it twice a day. I haven't been so good at remembering to take my vitamins - must work on that one.
-Modify my exercise routine. I was mostly doing pretty well with this, except I was craving something more intense. Hence the new program. We'll see how it works out.
-Get a handle on my portion sizes. Much improved, though still some work to be done. I still have a hard time not having a second helping of something delicious, even if I'm not still hungry. 
-Quit drinking coffee. Again. Done. I've had a few cups here and there, but I'm no longer hooked on it, and I no longer crave it.
-Post daily. Done!
-Celebrate every success. I think I've done okay with this. Enjoying the improved fit of my clothes and being willing to give up the scale are big successes as far as I'm concerned!

-Indulge in any SWYPO foods. Oops. Oh well, I know I made the right choices for me and my lifestyle.
-Eat any non-approved foods/ingredients. Turns out the sweet potato chips I had were cooked in a bad oil. I should have read the ingredients more carefully.
-Use fruit to replace junk food when a sugar craving hits. I did do that a few times with dates, but not nearly as much as I did during my first Whole30. Definitely an improvement.
-Pig out on something just because it's an "approved food". No pig-outs at all this time. Sometimes an extra portion, but never a full-on pig-out.
-Take any measurements. Failed. And here's why: After just five days I couldn't believe the difference in how my clothes fit, and my curiosity got the better of me. In the first five days I lost 5.5" from my mid-section. FIVE AND A HALF INCHES! Incredible how much bloating and inflammation my body was struggling with after the way I ate when I was at home!
-Continue to beat myself up for the bad choices I've made. Success. I've forgiven myself and moved on. No point dwelling on what I can't change!

-Lose 10lbs. Considering the final weaning process took place during this Whole30, that may have been too ambitious a goal. I've lost 5lbs so far, and that's fantastic. I'll either lose more or I won't. I feel great, and that's the important thing.
-Learn to manage my sugar cravings and my emotionally-driven appetite. Come a long way, still a long way to go.
-Finally wean Baby Belle.  Done! I think it's awesome when women are willing to continue nursing as long as their baby wants to, but that's just not me. With my first two kids, I weaned them because I was pregnant. This time I'm not pregnant (let's just be clear on that...), but my body desperately needs a break. It's been a non-stop hormonal roller-coaster since April of 2007! My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, then two weeks later I conceived Princess, and then began the overlapping breastfeeding/pregnancy stage. Time for me to just be me for a while, and not require my body to sustain another human being for a while!

So that's that. 30 days down, lots of work done, still more to do. I know what I need to focus on for the remaining days of this Whole40 and beyond.

Breakfast: The usual.
Lunch: Two drumsticks and the end of the spicy cauliflower "rice".
Supper: A fajita-seasoned burger (half beef, half pork) with sliced tomatoes and onions sauteed in ghee, with sauteed baby bok choy and sweet potato hash.
Snacks: A banana! (First one since I started!) Two large date and walnut snack balls.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 30 of 40 - The TMI Post

Brace yourselves, people, or click away. It's about to get seven kinds of real up in here...

(Did I actually just say "up in here"? Am I for real?)

So here's the TMI part: Today, while working out, it was super hot in my living room, so I ended up doing both my workouts in just a sports bra and underwear. In front of a mirror. It wasn't pretty, folks. But it was beautiful.

My body will never look like a model's. (No matter how much weight I lose or how fit I get, I'm still only 5' 2" with a broad frame.) My tummy jiggles. That's because I've grown three babies in there in the last several years, each time gaining 30-35lbs. My thighs and hips and bum are big. But that's a good indicator of fertility, which is a good indicator of health. (Refer back to the aforementioned three children in three years - obviously fertile!) It mightn't look good to anyone other than my husband, but there is great beauty in the strength and accomplishments of my body.

My body has taken a fair bit of abuse from me over the years. Over-eating, drinking to excess, not exercising, not sleeping (when I had the chance!). And yet it has never ceased to amaze me in the things it is capable of. I'm learning, now, to think of eating well and exercise as rewards for my body - giving it what it deserves, because it is strong and capable and worthy of care. I'm doing my best to rid myself of the mindset that food is about deprivation and exercise is about punishment.

I know that learning to love and accept my body, just as it is, is crucial for my mental and emotional well-being, and also for its continued health and improvement.  (Excerpt: " This may in fact be the easiest way to lose weight in the world,* but only if it is done with love, and with forgiveness, and with a refusal to adhere to body image norms.   Three things with which women struggle fiercely.")

So, yes, I jiggle. That's okay. It is. It's not something I would choose, given the vain opportunity, but it really is okay. The size of my thighs doesn't say anything about my character. Whether or not I ever lose this post-c-section pooch on my tummy doesn't erase the good that I have done in my life. A big booty doesn't indicate an angry heart or a dull mind. I love my body - I am  my body - but I am also more than the way I look.

I'm still learning and growing, and this is one of the reasons why I will continue this Whole30 for (at least) another 10 days. 30 days in, and I'm just getting warmed up. Bring it.

Breakfast: Kale, eggs, tomatoes and bacon. Half-decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: Two chicken thighs with BBQ sauce, and some leftover spicy cauliflower "rice".
Supper: Two taco-spiced drumsticks, roasted cauliflower, and steamed green and yellow beans tossed with melted ghee.
Snacks: A small handful of macadamias before bed, and a cup of licorice tea.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 29 of 40 - Love/Hate

I love sweet potatoes. And I love dates. Which makes me hate them. It would be so easy for me to stay in my daily carb-intake range if not for the existence of those two foods! So yummy, so easy to over-eat.

Breakfast: Half a Belgian-style waffle topped with sliced strawberries and unsweetened apple sauce.
Lunch: Two chicken thighs, leftover grilled zucchini and steamed green beans tossed in ghee.
Supper: Veggie-loaded meatloaf and spicy cauliflower "rice".
Snacks: Some sweet potato chips, 3 dates and some walnuts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 28 of 40 - What *Would* Be the Home Stretch

If I were in this for 30 days, I'd be closing in on the finish line right now. And the closer I get to the 30 day mark, the more I realize that choosing to go for 40 was an awesome idea.

I'd toyed with the idea of having a glass of wine at an upcoming wedding, but I know now that I need to soldier on. Why? In the last few days it seems the temptations are popping up like mad. Things that wouldn't normally be all that appealing to me seem to be calling my name. And I was entertaining the thought of not only having a glass of wine at the wedding, but also going out for beer and nachos with friends.

There's nothing wrong with going out for beer and nachos once in a while, as far as I'm concerned. It's one of those fabulously bonding evenings I enjoy with old friends I don't see often. But the thing is, I should be able to find other ways to see old friends that don't involve drinking (a little too much) and (pigging out on) nachos. Why can't we meet up to go for a walk or a swim? Or just sit around and chat without the alcohol and carb-bomb?

Thinking about having that one glass of wine seemed to open up a huge floodgate for me, and I am certain that I have more work to do in regards to fighting temptation and controlling emotional eating before I'm ready to wrap up this Whole40.

Breakfast: The usual, with half-decaf and coconut milk.
Lunch: A simple salad with a zesty Italian vinaigrette, a BBQ chicken thigh and an Italian sausage.
Supper: A two-egg omelette stuffed with half an avocado and one more sausage, with a big pile of grilled zucchini.
Snacks: Sweet potato chips. (Princess and I had a girls' night tonight, and she really wanted us to have special snacks. She voted for Lay's dill pickle chips, which are a HUGE favourite of mine - I didn't want to feel deprived watching her snack away, so I enjoyed a bowl of sweet potato chips that totally did the trick!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 27 of 40 - Why Do I Eat?

I wish I could honestly say that I only ever eat to satisfy my physical hunger and fuel my body. But that would be a lie.

Obviously, most of us eat as a way to celebrate, and sharing good food with friends and family is a time-honoured ritual of community and fellowship. Nothing wrong there. But there are times when eating for non-hunger reasons really are a bad idea.

I eat when I'm bored.
I eat because I've had a rough day and I "deserve a treat".
I eat because I feel unworthy of having a fit and healthy body.
I eat to punish myself.
I eat when I'm grieving.
I eat secretively, for no apparent reason, just because "I can".
I eat just because the food tastes good, even after I'm already satisfied or even full.
I eat because the food has strong sentimental value.

I'd say things are much better now than they have been in the past. I'm more mindful of not using food to abuse my body, but the boredom thing is still an issue for sure. I also eat out of routine, even if I may not actually be feeling real hunger.

It's such a new process, this whole listening-to-my-body thing. When I was on Weight Watchers, I knew how many points I had, and I'd just spread 'em out over the day. I could basically schedule my eating and then not think about it. That definitely had some advantages, but it's not a great way to live long-term, in my opinion. Nor did that way of eating help me to actually tackle any of the negative reasons I eat.

I'm not having an easy time in facing my food demons, but very few worthwhile things come easily. I know that this needs to be a battle fought - and won - over time, so that it the victory has some staying power.

Breakfast: Two sweet potato and zucchini latkes with two fried eggs and some sauteed kale. A cup of half-decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: Beet greens (green and purple) sauteed with chopped bacon.
Supper: One hot Italian sausage, one broiled chicken thigh with BBQ sauce, green and purple string beans, roasted purple cauliflower and spaghetti squash tossed with homemade basil pesto and diced tomatoes.
Snacks: 2 muffins, 3 snack balls. Too many snacks.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 26 of 40 - Oh, My Poor Hormones!

Wow. I wasn't sure what my body would go through once I'd weaned Baby Belle and reclaimed my body as my own for the first time in years. My appetite is all over the place - starving sometimes, totally uninterested in eating other times - and it would appear that I'm gaining some weight, judging by the fit of my clothes. I'll be interested to see how this plays out over the next little while. Trying to just focus on eating well, taking my vitamins, and exercising.

It was a long and exhausting day with the kids at my in-laws' new cottage, so that's all you get for tonight. I know you're totally bummed.

Breakfast: Two sweet potato and zucchini latkes, two slices of bacon and two fried eggs. Licorice tea.
Supper: Coconut curry cabbage with ground beef and extra veggies.
Snacks: Three snack balls and three and a half muffins.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 25 of 40 - Pooped!

My body is still sore from pushing it so hard yesterday, and then I ended up being on my feet for most of today. I know, I know, it's good for me, but my poor little flat feet and deformed toes just aren't used to it!

First I had to skip the farmer's market to wait for our freezer to be delivered. I look forward to going every week, and I was bummed to miss it! When Francis and the kids got home I unpacked the produce and dealt with as much of it as I could. Then we went for a walk, and I came home and got lunch served. Luckily, I had a great nap after lunch, because then it was right back into the kitchen! I don't know how Nicole did it. We're going on a day trip to my in-laws' new cottage tomorrow, and that on top of my usual food prep seemed to take me forever!

I made granola bars for the kids, two varieties of snack balls (almonds, raisins and cinnamon rolled in coconut for the kids, and dates with macadamias, coconut and cinnamon rolled in MORE cinnamon for us), a batch of Apple Spice Zucchini Breakfast cake in mini loaf pans, sliced up a 10lb cabbage for the freezer, made a tomato salad, baked the chicken and roasted the cauliflower for supper. I guess it wasn't really that much, but my aching body just wanted to SIT so it seemed like way more! And of course there's still much more to be done before I can retire for the evening. We do actually need to eat meals tomorrow.

Breakfast: The usual.
Lunch: Half a chicken breast and a giant bowl of coconut curry cabbage.
Supper: Two baked chicken breasts (with BBQ sauce for dipping), cherry tomatoes (red, orange and yellow!) tossed with EVOO, garlic and fresh basil, roasted purple cauliflower.
Snacks: One of the mini loaves. Quality control check, you know. An extra cup of tea before bed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 24 of 40 - An "Aha" Moment

I was lucky enough to have a day to myself today, so after clearing out room in the laundry room for the new freezer and doing a few loads of laundry, I decided to throw in an exercise video. Since I know I should be taking it easy (somewhat...), I've recently traded in my favourite DVD trainer for my second favourite. At one point in the video I was doing, she says, "If you want results, you're going to have to earn them!"


Is it weird that that statement hit me like a ton of bricks?

It wasn't the first time I've done this workout, so it's not the first time I've heard her say that. But I guess today I was just ready to hear it, and it struck me in a particular way.

See, here's the thing: All my life, so many things have just come easily for me. School was a piece of cake. (Oh shoot, now I want cake... Sorry.) I was put ahead a grade, and still remained at the top of my class throughout the grade-school years, without putting in much effort. (Translation: I rarely did homework, rarely studied for tests/exams, and generally started projects the night before they were due.) Because academics just came naturally to me, I didn't have to earn my results.

In university I studied music. I'd been playing saxophone since I was nine, and that was yet another thing that came easily for me. The problem was, I had never learned the discipline required to practice as much as I needed to, because I was just naturally good enough to be the best all through junior and senior high school. I'll never forget my very last private lesson with my saxophone professor. I played one of my favourite ballads, and at the end he turned around from the piano and said, "F%$k you. You don't deserve to play that beautifully." It was true. I hadn't earned it.

I have this issue in so many areas, and today I realized that I still struggle with this in the realm of health and fitness as well. I don't really put in the work that I would need to in order to see the results I'd like to see. I'm not as disciplined about watching my unnecessary carbs (ahem *dates*), nor do I put in the effort in regards to exercise either.

I'm hoping that at least realizing this will make me more mindful about putting in the work. Today I noticed a huge difference in my stamina - I was able to work harder and longer, with fewer breaks. I think my body is really hitting its stride in terms of the Whole30 benefits, and I also wonder if weaning Baby Belle and having my body all to myself for the first time in over five years makes a difference. In any case, I'm going to be more aware from now on that if I want to see results, I actually need to earn them.

Breakfast: Kale, eggs, cherry tomatoes and licorice tea.
Lunch: A rib wrap. I tried out Dr. Davis' recipe for a flax meal wrap from Wheat Belly. It was actually decent. (It's one of the recipes that doesn't call for any artificial sweeteners, so I was keen to try it.) I stuffed it with some of the leftover rib meat from last night and some extra barbeque sauce.
Supper: A fajita bowl. I cooked the chicken, peppers and onions with some homemade fajita seasoning, then served it over a bed of mixed greens and topped it with salsa and guacamole. Super delicious!
Snacks: Too. Many. Snack balls. And an extra cup of tea.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 23 of 40 - Three Little Things

First of all, thanks to my sister I'm now hooked on this blog. If you're at all fascinated by gorgeous, off-beat portraits, consider yourself warned: you'll be sucked in.

Secondly, I'm trying really hard to break out of my I-don't-feel-like-cooking-or-eating rut. This morning I spent a fair bit of time in the kitchen. I baked three packages of chicken thighs (some for friends for supper, some for our lunch), made my specialty rice (also for friends!), cooked up another batch of BBQ sauce (and played around with the seasonings - added some chipotle this time...), then I dry-rubbed two racks of ribs and braised them in chicken stock for a few hours. We were at a party until 5pm, so it was nice to be able to come home, slap some sauce on the ribs and prep some veggies, then just send Francis out to the backyard to grill it all up.

Third, someone asked me recently about what my kids eat, so I thought I'd share a little here. For breakfast, they generally eat either scrambled eggs, coconut flour pancakes, or occasionally Brown Rice Krispies. (They're the gluten-free ones. My parents got them hooked on the 'snap, crackle and pop'.) These options are always followed by either apple sauce, yogurt, or sometimes both. Lunches are usually quick - often leftovers, sometimes deli meat and veggies, once in a while I'll make them almond flour-breaded nuggets. Suppers are the easiest: They eat exactly what we eat. My kids are four and a half, three, and 18 months - and they only variation from what we eat is that Princess is never expected to eat cherry tomatoes, and Music Man is never expected to eat sliced cucumbers. My kids always are expected to try what's in front of them, and 98% of the time they like it. But there are some things I just don't like, even after giving them a fair shot, so it's only fair that there can be certain things that they just don't like. (You will never see me voluntarily consuming yogurt, cream cheese - except in a cheese cake! - or any kind of shellfish. Ever.)

Princess was a very picky eater for a long time. But right around her third birthday she started to grow out of it (with much encouragement from her exhausted parents...) and now she's pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new things, and there aren't many things she flat-out dislikes. It's pretty wonderful, actually, to just serve one meal after a long time of always having to make an extra grilled cheese sandwich...

Breakfast: Kale, eggs and cherry tomatoes. Licorice tea.
Lunch: A roasted chicken thigh and a big bowl of  coconut curry cabbage.
Supper: Ribs! Fall off the bone, melt in your mouth deliciousness! Honestly, this was the first time I really nailed them. (Okay, Francis gets credit for the final grilling...) And some grilled zucchini and red onion. A fruit juice freeze.
Snacks: Two strawberries and some fruit leather. An extra cup of tea before bed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 22 of 40 - Landed in a Rut

Oh, I'm just bored. I'm suddenly bored with eating and food preparation. Maybe it's a shift in my appetite now that I'm no longer breastfeeding. Maybe it's the PMS. Who knows? It's certainly not because the food is boring. I have a to-try list of recipes a mile long! All I know is that eating, prepping and cooking have suddenly become a chore, and I'm really wishing somebody else would just put some food down in front of me.

(Maybe it's because our dishwasher has been out of commission for a couple of months, and I'm sick of the mountain of dishes that shows up after every. single. meal!)

Breakfast: Kale, eggs and cherry tomatoes. Licorice tea. (All made and served by my wonderful husband, who then packed up the kids and took them out until supper time!)
Lunch: A chicken thigh and a small bowl of cherries. I wasn't really hungry, but since I wanted to nap, I figured I should eat something so as not to run the risk of having my nap cut short by a growling tummy.
Supper: Spaghetti squash with meat sauce.
Snacks: A couple of snack balls this morning, and some blended coconut milk, bananas and mixed berries after supper.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 21 of 40 - The Shopping Continues

I'm thoroughly enjoying the mandoline I mentioned yesterday. I've used it for tomatoes, patty pans, green peppers and sweet potatoes so far. And now, to further aid our healthy eating habits, we've ordered a new freezer!

We have one already, but it's probably the smallest little chest freezer on the market. I believe it's called "apartment sized". Teeny tiny, and barely able to keep up with us. Since we prefer to only purchase meat when it's on sale, it would be great to be able to buy in bulk to have some for more than just a week at a time. And since I love the convenience of bulk cooking and saving a portion for another time, this will be very helpful as well.

We've been talking about doing this for a while, but since we placed an order for 30lbs of grass-fed beef, we knew it was time to find a place to store it! And the fact that there is so much gorgeous and enormous produce at the farmer's market right now is added incentive. I could buy a few of those 6-8lb cauliflowers for $3 a head, chop them into florets, and freeze them for the winter. Having a new upright* freezer is going to open up a whole new world of kitchen convenience! (Plus I'll finally be able to store my ice cream maker's bowl in the freezer full-time, making it possible to enjoy frozen homemade treats far more frequently!) Oh, and does anyone know if you can freeze cabbage?

Breakfast: Kale and eggs with licorice tea.
Lunch: Two homemade sausage patties, roasted broccoli and tomatoes with olive oil, garlic and fresh basil.
Supper: A barbecued pork chop with homemade sauce, grilled patty pan and oven roasted cauliflower.
Snacks: Too many snack balls, and some frozen strawberries and bananas blended with coconut milk.

*It has to be an upright freezer for it to be useful for me. At 5'2", the bottom of a chest freezer is out of my reach!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 20 of 40 - Half Way, a New Tool, and Temptation

First, the temptation:
I made dinner today for some friends who had their third baby a month ago. Foolishly, I made them pizzas. Now the thing is this: I make a pretty mean pizza crust. You know, the wheat-filled, gluten landmine kind of crust. Crispy on the outside, soft and a little chewy on the inside. The two pepperoni pizzas didn't really interest me too much, but I made a smaller one with homemade basil pesto, thinly sliced tomatoes straight from a friend's garden, and mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

I. wanted. that. PIZZA!

Didn't do it, of course. Didn't even lick my fingers after putting the cheese on. But hear this: when this Whole30 is over and it's time to try out a new food, cheese will be the first on the list, and I will make that very pizza but on a cauliflower crust!

Second, the new tool:
We bought a mandoline! All my slicing and dicing just got WAY more fun! You should have seen the perfect slices of tomato on that basil pesto pizza...

Third, the half-way point:
20 days out of 40 done, but here's the issue. When I first decided to go for 40 days, I didn't count particularly well. Turns out a dear friend's wedding is on day 39!! Argh! I'll be travelling by myself (!!) and staying at my parents' house to go to this wedding. So my dilemma is this: Should I just try my best to navigate the meal at the reception and hope for the best? Or do I pat myself on the back for making it that far, pick the grains out of my meal and enjoy a celebratory glass of wine? Decisions, decisions...

Breakfast: Eggs, kale and tomatoes. Licorice tea.
Lunch: Two drumsticks and a thigh with some watermelon. (Must make more time for lunch!)
Supper: Out for the FOURTH night in a row, and this one was spontaneous. When we delivered the pizzas, our friends suggested we stay and eat with them. Since everyone else was eating a gluten/sugar/dairy-loaded pizza, our host quickly grilled up some spice-rubbed chicken thighs and skewers with peppers and onions.
Snacks: One snack ball, and a small handful of Macadamias with my tea before bed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 19 of 40 - How I "Do It All"

Ever wondering how I manage to prepare three meals from scratch every day, and look after three young kids, and keep a home and still find time for hobbies and blogging? I'll let you in on a couple of secrets:

1. My husband is a teacher. That means that when he's working, he's only out of the house from about 8:20am until about 4:20pm. That's it. I have a good two hours before he leaves for work in the mornings, and I have an hour between his arrival home and when supper needs to be served. That's a lot of extra help.
2. Him being a teacher also means that right now, he's home full time. We're two stay-at-home parents for two months.
3. Princess and Music Man (four-and-a-half and three) are now sharing a room, and Music Man thinks it's all fun and games. That means I have to sit at their door from when I tuck them in at 7pm until whenever he finally falls asleep - usually around 8pm. I bring the laptop with me, so this is my blogging time. Glamourous, eh?
4. I don't actually "do it all". My husband makes most of the breakfasts, and if you ever saw my house you'd realize that housework is waaay down on my list of priorities. I'd much rather spend my days having fun with the kids, running around or doing crafts. I'd rather spend my evenings curled up on the couch chatting with Francis. I spend so much time in the kitchen that when I finally get a break from meal times, I actually just want a break. (Yeah, I know I need to work on that. I'm hoping the change of having Princess in school full-time in September will help get my butt in gear.)

So, from the not-so-comfy floor of the "big kids' room", I bid you all good night.

Breakfast: I wasn't hungry this morning so initially I'd decided not to eat any breakfast right away. But as we were getting ready for church I started to worry that if I got too hungry during Mass, my stomach would growl at just the wrong moment. So I grabbed a little piece of the breakfast cake.
Lunch: Kale and eggs with cherry tomatoes and three slices of bacon. Also a cup of licorice root tea.
Supper: For the third night in a row we ate at somebody else's house. (We're getting spoiled!) Steaks cooked on a charcoal grill, smothered in roasted garlic and olive oil, yellow beans straight from the garden, and we brought a simple salad with red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and grated carrot - all from yesterday's veggie box. (The kids ate spaghetti squash with pasta sauce that had been going in the crock pot all day.)
Snacks: Extra tea and two small snack balls.

Apple Spice Zucchini Breakfast Cake

This "cake" is free of grains, dairy, soy, and refined sugar. Plus it's got lots of eggs, lots of zucchini and apple and some healthy coconut products. So really, you could eat it for breakfast (once in a while) without feeling guilty. Yup - cake for breakfast. :)

Apple Spice Zucchini Breakfast Cake
In a large bowl, whisk together:
8 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or you could use butter if it's not an issue for you)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl combine:
3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Then add:
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 large apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup walnuts (pecans would also be great)

Stir well and bake in a 9" cake pan (round or square) that has been lined with parchment paper (important!) at 350 for 35-40 minutes* or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before slicing. Also note that this cake improves in taste and texture after a couple of hours at room temperature.

*My oven is a little insane. It may take slightly longer for your cake to bake, as I have to cut the time on everything I bake in my oven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 18 of 40 - Wheat Belly

Have you read it? I'd recommend it. I just finished it this afternoon, and I must say it's pretty startling to read about the way our modern-day wheat was created, about the fact that human (or even animal) safety was never tested or investigated before mass-producing and mass-marketing this new grain. And to read about what it does to our blood sugar is truly shocking. Those two things alone would be enough to make me reconsider my wheat consumption, but what really sold me was just a trial of wheat-elimination, and the discovery of how much better I feel without it in my system!

Living with chronic pain is just no fun, as anyone who has experienced it will tell you. Even on a "good day", my hip still bothered me. My mother had her left hip replaced in her mid-50s, and I was sure I was on track to have mine done at least 15 years earlier than that. Not only was it constantly in pain, but the inflammation in that joint made it pop and click with every step I took. Sitting down for extended periods (especially in the car) made it really uncomfortable - I'd have to shift my weight and make it crack just to get some relief.

Imagine my surprise when I cut wheat out of my diet for the sake of my nursing baby, only to discover that removing wheat also cured my hip pain! Of course that wasn't the only benefit, but being able to move freely and comfortably was more than I could have dreamed of. I know, now, the way wheat causes inflammation in my body (it's not the same for everyone), and so I know that a food has to be really worth it before I'd consider indulging. I'm okay if I eat a small amount of wheat (like the crust on a small piece of cheesecake), but if I eat a full sandwich I end up limping for several days. It's just wild.

And it was discovering that whole wheat/pain connection that led me to the question that started all of this:
"If I've been eating wheat my whole life without realizing what it's doing to my body, what else am I consuming that's affecting me negatively?" So when Nicole told me about Whole30, I knew it was something I wanted to try.

Breakfast: 3 slices of bacon, 2 fried eggs and a cup of licorice root tea. About a cup of watermelon.
Lunch: A muffin and two hot Italian sausages with BBQ sauce.
*Those two meals were not a great start to my day. I was tired, cranky, and pressed for time, so vegetable prep got ignored. I have to get more organized tomorrow!
Supper: Salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrots with Italian vinaigrette. Four small chicken thighs with BBQ sauce. (I definitely didn't need the fourth one, and probably didn't need the third one - but they were really yummy and I didn't stop to ask myself if I was satisfied or not.) A large-ish slice of apple spice zucchini breakfast cake (name still under construction...). (Recipe to come tomorrow when I have the energy to type it up!)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 17 of 40 - Dinner With Friends

You know what's nice? To be able to eat at a friend's house during a Whole30 and not have it be a big deal! It's nice to have friends who "get it". We enjoyed a great time with Alexis and her family this evening. The kids went wild, and the grown-ups managed to sneak in a few conversations in the midst of the chaos. Though next time we'll plan our dinner when I'm not doing a Whole30 so we can share some wine, too!

Just keeping this short tonight as I need to get to bed early. We have a busy day tomorrow which will include lots of food preparation on my part, so I need some rest.

Breakfast: Two fried eggs, three slices of bacon, two cups of decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: More soup with chicken, this time with some sliced cherry tomatoes stirred in.
Supper: YUM! Chicken legs marinated in Italian vinaigrette then smothered in Paleo BBQ sauce, with tossed salad and grilled zucchini and cauliflower on the side. A shared bowl of cherries and some licorice root tea rounded out the evening. Who says eating this way isn't delicious?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 16 of 40 - Blog Love

(I just realized that if I were just going for the standard 30 days I'd have hit the half-way point already. I feel like I still have so much work left to do that I'm glad I've set my sights on 40 days. Who knows? Maybe I'll go for longer...)

I'm a blog addict (says the blogger). I can't help it. I posted a while back about some of my favourite style/fashion blogs, although I've since discovered my newest favourite, which I highly encourage you to check out. (My favourite feature is Inspiration Monday. I generally play along, but I still don't have the nerve to photograph my outfits or post them!)

More recently, however, I've become engrossed in many Paleo/Primal food blogs. I'm always on the hunt for new meal ideas for Whole30 living, and of course there's some serious food porn when it comes to treats I'm looking forward to trying after this is over. So without further ado, some fun food blogs:

PaleOMG - Juli is just kind of hilarious, if you can handle a little crudeness. I totally can, and I love her recipes.
Nom Nom Paleo - I actually read Michelle's blog every. single. day. Her food is delicious but still practical. You can cook these recipes up in a hurry and still eat yummy grub. She hasn't published a cookbook, but her iPad app makes me wish we owned an iPad. (Sorry, RIM.)
The Clothes Make the Girl - Sometimes I wish I were more like Melissa Joulwan. She's pretty bad-ass. We recently bought her cookbook, Well Fed (the ebook version since the actual book isn't available in Canada yet *pouts*), and we love it. 'Nuff said.
The Foodie and the Family - This one's a new favourite. I came across it by accident in my quest to find a good chocolate zucchini muffin recipe, and now I've got at least 15 of her recipes on my to-try list.

Breakfast: Francis made me bacon (2 slices), 2 fried eggs and two sweet potato latkes. Two cups of half-decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: Leanne's mention of her taco salad (inspired by mine from the other day) made me really want another one. So that's what I did. :)
Supper: Two hot Italian sausages with sliced tomato and roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
Snacks: A couple of snack balls.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to start experimenting a little more with meal sizes and spacing. For example: I wasn't really hungry when I got up this morning, but since breakfast had been cooked for me, I ate it. And at supper tonight I served myself what I thought was a reasonable portion (the sausage were fairly small) but by the time I'd finished eating it all I realized that I felt somewhat uncomfortably full. I need to try to be more mindful when I eat.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 15 of 40 - Farewell Old Friend

Oh, Starbucks. It was weird to walk right past you in Chapters today. It's pretty rare for me to go in there and not come visit you. I wanted to - but only out of habit. When I actually started running through your menu in my head, I wasn't really tempted. And that felt weird.

I used to love your lemon poppyseed loaf, but I know that once my Whole40 is over I can make a more tummy-friendly version to savour. And I have fond memories of sharing a grande mocha frappuccino with Francis while we went for our weekly grocery shopping/thrift shopping date. But now, I think I'd rather just have my unsweetened decaf with coconut milk.

It was fun while it lasted, Starbucks, but I think it's over. Don't take it too hard. It's not you, it's me. Or maybe it is you. Sorry. I'll send you a postcard when I open my own Paleo/Primal snack wagon and I'm making a fortune selling people food that is actually good for them. 

Breakfast: Sweet and salty! Apple breakfast cobbler from the crock pot and three slices of bacon. It was our first time trying this recipe - we enjoyed it, but I think next time we'll serve it on top of these or rolled up inside these. (And only on special occasions, because it was SO sweet!) Two cups of decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: More soup with shredded chicken.
Supper: Half a steak smothered in a heap of onions sauteed in ghee, with baby bok choy (cooked in olive oil with young garlic and sea salt) and about a quarter of a tomato from our CSA. I cannot believe the difference in colour between these tomatoes and the ones from the grocery store!
Snacks: About a cup and a half of cantaloupe - I picked at it throughout the morning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 14 of 40 - Costco Conquest

We bought a Costco membership today and took our first spin around the store. I have a friend who calls it the "One, Two, Three Hundred Dollar Store". I'm proud to say we spent under $34 and left with only things we actually need.

Just a short post tonight, because I just read Mark Sisson's latest article and it's like he was talking right to me. So I'm going to shut down the electronics, curl up with a good book for a little bit, and hit the hay early.

Breakfast: The last of the kale AND the last of the homemade sausage meat with two scrambled eggs and two cups of decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: Two small chicken legs with a quick dip - half an avocado with a tablespoon of mayo, a splash of lemon juice, some garlic powder, cayenne, paprika and sea salt. A slice of zucchini bread - I made chocolate zucchini muffins (with a few mini M&M's sprinkled on top) for Francis and the kids, because Princess reeeeally wanted to throw a party for her daddy. The kids kept asking why I wasn't having a muffin, so I had my own "treat" instead.
Supper: Taco salad - a large bowl of mixed greens topped with tomato, taco meat, salsa and a quarter of an avocado.
Snacks: A bite of a cashew Larabar - one of the sample tables at Costco. (It was hard to pass up the peanut butter one, but will power won out! And sadly, as much as I love cashews, that bar was NOT enjoyable.) About 2 cups of cantaloupe over the course of the day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 13 of 40 - Too Sweet!

I've been meaning to start drinking my licorice root extract tea for several weeks now, but I just kept forgetting about it. (That happens when I stick things out of site in my cupboards.) I know it's important to help my adrenals heal, but here's the problem:

It's so sweet!

I first thought maybe I was imagining things, until I read this article. I'll save you a lot of reading - just check out this paragraph:

How does this take the place of cake again?
Back to that taste. When you think of licorice, you may think of that bitter taste found in black licorice candy or fennel seeds -- savory, not sweet like a chocolate bar. But licorice actually tastes sweeter than sugar, which is why it is also called "sweet root" -- 50 times sweeter than sugar to be exact. The active compound in licorice root is glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid), which provides the taste. Brewing up a glass of this tea to enjoy after a meal or while sitting on the couch in place of that bowl -- or pint -- of ice cream *no judgment here) will save you some calories. Plus, you don't need any added sweeteners.

With my newly-adapted tastebuds, I'm having a hard time drinking this stuff. It's way too sweet! I actually kind of feel like I'm cheating on my Whole30 by drinking it. I know it doesn't contain calories so it's not actually spiking my blood sugar, but I'm still not sure. Thoughts? I'm going to try again to find licorice root in capsule form, but considering how many stores I checked last time (in two different cities), I'm not optimistic.

Breakfast: Sauteed kale with scrambled eggs and ground sausage meat with cherry tomatoes. My mouth gets HAPPY when I eat that combination! Also two cups of half-decaf* with coconut milk.
Lunch: A cup of licorice tea and a bowl of chicken salad - a baked chicken breast mixed with half an avocado, some homemade mayo, curry powder and salt. (Gee, that sounds an awful lot like my tuna salad, doesn't it...?)
Supper: A bowl of soup (minus the honey!) with about 1/3 of a large chicken breast shredded and stirred in.
Snacks: Three dates and a few macadamia nuts. I may have some fruit later this evening - I've got a giant cantaloupe and a big bag of cherries waiting for me.

*I've been trying to only drink decaf these days - so when I say I had half-decaf it's code for "I got VERY little sleep last night."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 12 of 40 - Be Thou Not Exalted

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about this phenomenon that has appeared in the Paleo/Primal/ancestral diet community. It's this idea that food itself or eating habits in general are somehow moral issues, or directly tied to our worth as individuals. Paleo purists have become the Paleo Police. They troll other people's blogs and leave nasty comments when the blogger admits to having enjoyed a white potato, or a Paleo pancake, or (Heaven forbid!) some rice! Even Dallas and Melissa themselves have faced criticism for eating something non-Whole30-approved! (And let's not forget about how the Paleo Parents considered shutting down their blog, in part because Stacy was getting flack for "still being fat" despite eating a Paleo diet! That is nobody's business!)

They seem to have gotten this weird idea that food is somehow more than just fuel for our bodies - they think it's a road to some sort of salvation. As Alexis put it, "They have turned food into some sort of idol". I couldn't agree more! This idea that our diets define us is wacko. Even though my husband and I have agreed that we would like to continue feeding our family a Primal-style diet, we don't say, "we're primal". We don't identify ourselves by our dietary choices. It is not our religion - we already have one, thankyouverymuch, and it's about Jesus - not grass-fed beef.

So food is not religion, and people who eat a "perfect" Paleo diet are not deities. Not even a little. Sure, if you have found a way to eat that makes you feel better, lose weight, improve your bloodwork results and even clear up some nagging health conditions, then go ahead and share that news with people! Just don't cram it down their throats. Even the lovable Food Nazi keeps it real! She likes yummy things like dark chocolate and Paleo-ish treats, and even the occasional off-road treat. No Paleo preaching there!

Anyway, I'm in a ranting mood. I'll stop now. For a slightly more articulate take on this subject, go here.

Breakfast: Three eggs scrambled with kale and some sausage-seasoned ground pork. Two cups of half-decaf with coconut milk.
Lunch: The LAST hamburger patty with the LAST of the coconut curry cabbage. I guess I'll actually have to think about lunch tomorrow.
Supper: A roasted chicken leg, a pile of green beans (steamed then tossed with a little ghee and salt) and cherry tomatoes (red, orange and yellow) with fresh basil, garlic, olive oil and sea salt.
Snacks: Three or four dates (is it bad that I can't remember?) and a small handful of macadamia nuts. A few cherries before bed.