Wednesday, May 9, 2012

PaleoISH/Almond Butter

 I leave for Italy tomorrow and have a list a mile long to accomplish today, but blogging seems to be top priority right now ;) this will also be the last post for about 2 1/2  weeks (unless I find some extreme motivation while in the land of carbs). I plan to eat as PaleoISH as I can, but still enjoy some of the things Italy is famous for. The Villa we are staying at, and where we will be eating most meals, grows all of their own organic fruit and vegetables, so thats a plus. I have been told that Tuscany is not known for their pasta like most people associate with "Italian food." Apparently, Olive Garden (which you should never even step foot into again - they are worse than Chili's in how they process, prepare & cook their foods) is the Americanized version  of Italian food. Go figure, American's go and take over again! We will be surrounded by roasted veggies & meat, which is awesome, but then they throw in the yummy bread and finish with gelato. Thats where I may have to live the culture and gain the whole experience :) Casa Cares makes their own organic olive oil & wine, both of which I have full intention of shipping cases back to Alabama!  I have individual bags of pistachios for the plane and CLIFFKids fruit strips as a snack to keep in my purse, J.I.C. I am also taking a box of Quest bars, which are as Paleoish as you can get when it comes to a processed bar. I would not recommend them for daily consumption (not to mention they are NOT cheap) but if you were traveling and need to keep something on you, these are a winner. I ordered them from (Here is the link). While on the topic - this is where we order all of our vitamins. I suggest you take supplements, Paleo or not, my view is they can only help. I'm sure some strict Paleo followers may disagree with me, but as I woman with an iron deficiency and history of osteoporosis, I am trying to be proactive. I take a Women's multivitamin (This is the one I take now) I like them a lot, but they do contain soy so I am going to try THESE next time we order. The Hubs takes a Men's multivitamin, and we also both take a Fish oil with Omega-3. Your vitamins are something you don't want to slack on. I don't recommend buying them at your local big box super store (aka Wally-World, Target, Kroger, etc.) spend a few extra dollars and get some that are actually going to be absorbed into your bloodstream and give you the benefits you need. You also know you are getting gluten free, natural ingredients.  Many of the cheaper vitamins do not provide your body with an adequate amount of anything because for one, they do not include the amount of nutrients your body needs (they may contain just enough for the nutrient to be detected, there for earning a label of "vitamin") AND,  you will flush them out the first time you urinate (ewe, I know - I just used the word urinate, but other labels didn't seem appropriate and it's the truth of process!) We also drink Xtend during/after a hard, training type workout. This is definitely not something a strict Paleo follower would drink, and it does have a small amount of soy in it (ugh, it's everywhere!) But, for me personally, the benefits outweigh the cons. This intra/post workout drink helps me feel hydrated (without the extreme amount of salt or sugar other sports drinks offer) it contains the needed amount of potassium, chloride, sodium (your muscles need some sodium, but not near as much as Gatorade has) to help with cell hydration and muscle contractile function. Yet, the main reason I swear by it...... I personally think it helps keep extreme soreness at bay. Don't get me wrong, I still get sore, but Xtend seems to help. Trust me, while CrossFitting, every little bit counts when it comes to being able to sit down or raise my arms. Here is the one we drink, I recommend the watermelon, it tastes like a jolly rancher!

Remember how in my last post, I recommended a food processor? Well, here is an EASY PEASY recipe that uses your food processor and will save you money!
We do not eat peanuts (if you need a refresher, read here on why we say no to legumes) BUT, no need to fret! You may not be able to eat peanut butter but, you can have almond butter!
 I buy the 3lb. bags of whole (unsalted, no sugar added, NOT roasted) almonds from Sam's (so much cheaper than whole foods! Just make sure you are getting pure almonds - READ every label!)  
 2 cups of whole almonds equal a little over 1 cup of almond butter (it does have a thicker constancy, so 1 cup will last you a while)
 You can tailor the recipe to your specific (cooking/eating) needs by adding seasoning to the processor if desired. (Think cinnamon or nutmeg a pinch of salt, pepper etc.). I rarely add anything and if I do, it's cinnamon for when we are dipping bananas in it.
 If you have time, roast your almonds before creaming them. This is an easy step that really enhances the flavor, but will not affect the out come of the butter if you skip it!

1) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees & line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, pour the almonds on the baking sheet & season lightly if you desire.
  ( My processor handles 2 cups of whole almonds well, so I use 2 cups per process.)
2) When your oven is pre-heated, bake your almonds for about 8 minutes. Do not over bake the almonds, you will end up with a bitter taste and an ugly color. (Reminder, you can skip this step! If you are using the butter in a recipe, there is most likely no reason to roast them first)

3) When the almonds are roasted and cooled enough to handle, put them in your processor (with the chopping blade in-tact) if you are seasoning, season them to desired strength.

4) This step depends on your processor and amount of almonds, adjust your time accordingly. Turn the processor on & find something else to do ;). My process usually takes about 10-12 minuets. The almonds will go through stages - first they will be sandy, then they begin to cream.

5) Once you think it's creamy enough, let it blend for 1-2 more minutes to really get the ideal texture. 

6) Store in an air tight container (I use a small mason jar)

How easy was that!?!?! Now you never have to spend the 20 something dollars WholeFoods charges for their pure almond butter!

Everyone have a great rest of the week, weekend and next 2 weeks! Keep an eye on Facebook/Twitter for Italy updates! I'm crossing my fingers for a good internet connection!

You may not really be what you eat, but what you eat can really affect what you are.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Get it together! Handy little Paleo guide

FINALS.ARE.OVER.... I leave for Italy in 8 days and take the National Comprehensive Exam in a little over a month, neither of these things am I anywhere near ready for. If I wasn't overwhelmingly busy, I wouldn't know what to do!

We were lucky enough to get a break from life this past weekend, and take a last minute trip down to gulf shores. For the most part, we ate Paleo(ish). We took our own food and were somewhat picky about what we ordered when we ate out. BUT, then we ended up at LuLu's and the jalapeno hush puppies and the jet ski killer (an oh, so yummy & sweet drink) definitely won the battle! They were amazing, but I did pay for it later. For us though, this is how WE see and approach the Paelo lifestyle, with a matter of give and take. Basically, I do not have enough self control (yet) to realistically say I will never eat anything bad, ever again and if I were to completely limit myself, I would begin to resent everything I "had" to eat and eventually end up leaving the Paleo world. I also know myself well enough to understand, it's easier to avoid the situations that tempt me. NO, this does not mean you have to be a recluse and end your social life - stop being such a negative Nancy - it means asking the waitress not to bring the warm, gooey, gluten filled bread or the crispy soy bean oil soaked chips. OR, if you are with a non-Paleo group, I try to sit at the end of the table (not being in the middle of all the temptations being passed around) and keep a conversation going (I have no trouble yacking away 'till my food arrives!)
Another tip I can offer that has worked for me, if you know what restaurant you will be visiting, look their menu up online before you leave. Have in mind a few options (and what substitutions) you can order, then never look back. This way you don't take 5 hours trying to cipher through what you can eat (I hate being that girl,) you know what questions you may have for the waiter, and you are not as tempted to "cheat"

Summer is fast approaching (feels like it's arrived in Alabama) and many people will be taking vacations and getting out of their normal routine on occasions. This is not an excuse to defer going Paleo, actually I don't think there is any acceptable reason, it's simply the fact that you just aren't ready. YOU HAVE TO BE READY. Seriously, your head has to be in the right place and you have to go at the change with a "no turning back, this is for the better me, I can do this" mindset. It took us a year to be ready, and about a month of conversing, researching and planning for it. I still think it is one of the best decisions we ever made and regret taking so long to finally "come to the dark side." My personal take - I could not have started this alone. I advise you have a Paleo Partner. I'm lucky enough to live in the same house as mine so I do not have non-Paleo food hiding out in my pantry. If your not so lucky and have to share your space with a "not so Paleo" pal, divide the pantry. Keep your temptations out of site until you have built some control. Find a Paleo partner and hold each other accountable!
It's time for YOU to start planning..... and yes, at the beginning, it takes a LOT of planning. You may want a night you can set aside, while watching T.V. or unwinding that you can plan out your meals and snacks for the week, research any questions you may have come across (i.e. can I eat _____) and make your grocery list. I try to have my list done and store conquered by Sunday night so I can get all of our snacks and things made for the week. It sounds so tedious, but once you are in the habit, it's second nature and gives you such a sense of accomplishment!
While getting your mind right, keep this chart handy so you can re-train yourself how to think.

Change your approach on food, more specifically your approach on fat. It's not a bad thing. Fake is bad, clean and fat is good! 
  While updating your thought process, you may also want to update some of your kitchen essentials. At this point, I do not know how I ever lived without a food processor. You obviously do not have to own a food processor to eat Paleo, but trust me - it will make your life so very, very much easier. I got a Cuisinart 9 cup (sold here on Amazon) and have enjoyed it so far. I have found myself using the mandoline slicer (This is the one we have) more and more (well, actually I have avoided it since my little finger incident, but it is a very useful tool when used correctly!) You definitely need some good sharp knives and we use our oven safe wire rack (Here is an example sold on Amazon  - make sure it's oven safe!) to bake sweet potato chips,fries and chicken tenders. I have also used our waffle iron more than you would think, don't go getting rid of anything thinking you won't use it anymore!
So, really - what's stopping you? You give me an excuse and I'll give you a rebuttal. (Don't even try the whole it's too expensive line. It can be, if you let it. OR you can take the 5 extra minutes and take advice from people like Paleo On a Budget and shop the sales.) It's possible. So get it together and let's do the dang thing :)

You may not really be what you eat, but what you eat can really affect what you are.