Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homemade Pickled Herring Recipe- Paleo, Sweetener Free, GAPS Legal

When doing a strict paleo diet, one of the hardest things for me to figure out was breakfast for myself. You see, I grew up never ever ever eating meat in the morning, not bacon, not sausages, nothing meat. It always was dairy for breakfast, maybe eggs. And sometimes vegan, if I included a vegan protein source like peanut butter or otherwise.
So wrapping my mind around eating meat for breakfast- well, I'll do it, but I was looking for some alternatives.
Eggs, of course, are the obvious breakfast choice for paleo eaters, however, since my body really doesn't tolerate eggs (and I've tried so many ways to get it to tolerate eggs, from duck eggs to egg yolks only, baked eggs, etc...) I needed to figure out something else.
And then I thought- pickled herring!

I figured it should be simple enough to find some paleo herring, but nope, not easy at all, since pickled herring nearly always contains sugar and many of them contain vegetable oils as well.
Therefore, I decided to make my own pickled herring.
No, I didn't make it entirely from scratch, since herring are usually salted right on the boat, and it is nearly impossible to get them fresh. I used the salted herring that I got and used it to make my pickled herring.
It came out delicious, better than store bought pickled herring if I may say so myself. As for if it is cheaper- I don't know. I didn't do a cost comparison. Next time I make it, I will try and see if it is cheaper or not.
My kids really liked this, as did everyone in my family.

Homemade Pickled Herring Recipe- Paleo, Sweetener Free, GAPS Legal

Friday, August 21, 2015

Paleo Butternut Squash Pancake Recipe- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Delicious

Ever since starting the Paleo 30 day reset diet with my family, I was struggling to figure out what to make for breakfast that was relatively quick to make, tasted good, and seemed "breakfasty". I immediately came up with the idea of butternut squash pancakes. I played around with many different recipes, and this is what I came up with as the final recipe- it has the right texture, looks like pancakes, and the kids say it tastes good. I honestly haven't tasted them because my body doesn't tolerate eggs well, but they devour the entire thing in minutes.
My kids aren't doing paleo 100% now, but I am still making breakfasts like this for them, because they are very healthy and nutritionally dense- veggies, proteins, fats, and carbs all together, the kids like them, and they aren't complicated or time consuming to make in the morning. To make this quick I bake the butternut squash the night before, or make this with leftovers I have in my fridge already. You can also use canned squash. This recipe is good for everyone, not just people making paleo food, because of how tasty and nutritious they are.
I actually puree butternut squash peel and all (I remove seeds) because I don't want to take the time to do that, and why not leave it on... But you can peel yours if you want.

Paleo Butternut Squash Pancake Recipe- Gluten Free, Grain Free, Delicious

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homemade Rolled Fondant Recipe- Vegan Option, No Specialty Ingredients, No Artificial Ingredients, Uncooked, Healthier

I make gluten free decorated cakes for people sometimes, as a side job. I make them as processed/unhealthy ingredient free as possible, with the only bad ingredient being white sugar for the frosting (because otherwise you can't really have a white base to work with). I had a cake I was supposed to make for tomorrow, and then at the last minute, I realized that I didn't know how on earth I'd be making the cake, as I typically make a coconut oil and powdered sugar buttercream style frosting, and as I type, my coconut oil is sitting in its container on my shelf, as liquidy as water. Not exactly frosting making material.
I was trying to figure out what to do instead of buttercream, came up with all sorts of ideas, but none of them exactly what I was looking for. Then someone suggested fondant.
I never made fondant before, because all fondant recipes called for all sorts of expensive specialty ingredients, or unhealthy ingredients, required a million steps and were very easy to mess up.

However, I'd remembered my friend Ewa talking about how easy it is to make homemade fondant, so I asked her for her recipe- she said powdered sugar, egg whites, and corn syrup, mixed together to make a dough. She wasn't able to give me exact proportions, but just told me to play around until I got it right.

Well, I knew I wouldn't be making it Ewa's way, because I don't use corn syrup. But I figured that honey has the same consistency, and I didn't see why it wouldn't work with honey instead.

And so I made it, and I think it came out amazingly! I am really excited about this!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Our Healthy Menu on Vacation, and What Frugal Things We Did

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So last week we went on vacation, and we're still sort of recovering from it, unpacking, catching up on sleep, etc... Sorry this post didn't get up before now...
But I wanted to talk to you about being frugal on vacation.
Because other than groceries being more expensive on vacation, and transportation there and back not exactly being free (but we did what we could to lower their costs, at least), our vacation was actually super frugal. (The fact that we stayed at a relative's apartment free of charge certainly helped, because then we had no lodging fees.)
We spent nothing on entertainment, nothing on admission fees, etc...
For fun, mainly we went to the beach (free, and walkable from where we were staying), a splash pad, and playgrounds. We were considering doing some other things, so we looked at the municipality's website of events, but there wasn't anything that spoke to us that week...  However, we did go to the sound and light show one evening at the splash pad, which was really enjoyable.

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I had considered going out to a restaurant one time, but I decided against it, figured I could cook something healthier for myself, that would be just as tasty, and be much cheaper. So that saved money.

To be honest, one of the best ways we saved money this trip was by being prepared. I knew I wouldn't be able to go bargain shopping for groceries, and the one store I would be able to get to for grocery shopping would be overpriced. I also knew that I wouldn't have the same cooking facilities there, so I needed some quick to prepare foods that made minimal mess. And there was the added aspect of wanting foods that were Paleo appropriate, which certainly aren't easy to find, let alone at a decent price, when on vacation. I decided to bring things along from home that would help save money on groceries.
Mike didn't want me to bring these many things, because we had to lug it all by bus, but I don't regret bringing anything that I did, because, had I not, things would have cost so much more, if we could even find what we needed at all.
I brought alone 3 chickens, chicken breast, and ground beef that I'd bought on sale (since the store on vacation would have meat and poultry at least twice what I pay for them not on sale, and 3-5 times what I pay for it on sale).
I brought homemade cashew butter and homemade almond butter, which made for quick dairy free milks to use (I just needed to add water and voila- almond or cashew milk).
I bought cashews, walnuts, almonds, and dates very cheaply at the market before I left home- these are at least 33% cheaper than my local grocery store, and the vacation grocery store even more.
I brought along gluten free and garbage free corn flakes and rice crispies (ingredients: corn/rice only) to trial for our reintroduction, and to make breakfast time easier, and I specifically brought ones that I bought from a cheap outlet store.
I also brought tuna in water that I got cheaply, plus sardines in olive oil, coconut oil that I bought in bulk, and coconut sugar that I bought in bulk.
And lastly- right before we went, I stuck all the groceries that hadn't been finished (I'd tried to finish my groceries first) and were freezable- in the freezer. And the ones that weren't, like some lettuce, cucumbers, apples, some cooked butternut squash, and a mango, I stuck in my bag and we used them for supper that night when we first got there, before we had a chance to go shopping. So that also was convenient, and also stopped food from being wasted.

Other than groceries, I also brought along things to entertain the kids cheaply- all from the 25 cent store- sand toys, straw copter toys (2 for 25 cents), shoots and ladders, and light up toys. When we went to the light show, I remember from previous years that they sell super expensive light up toys- necklaces, bracelets, etc... so when I saw them for 25 cents each at the store before we went, I bought one for each kid, then gave them out at the light show. They loved it.
I also brought playdough, which was a big hit. Though not 25 cents- the pack was $2.50 and we only brought some of the pack.
When the kids were getting restless inside, and we didn't have the energy to take them to the beach, I took them out to a grassy area and we played with the straw copter toys for a while- they had so much fun, and it was super cheap as well, which was perfection- and probably more enjoyable for the kids than the expensive attractions.

Other frugal things we did:
I found a reduced rack at the overpriced grocery store and bought as much of my produce from the reduced rack as possible.
I did a lot of foraging- did you expect anything else of me? I foraged lots and lots of purslane (I haven't seen purslane at all this year locally, so I was really excited to have it there, since it is one of my favorite forageable items), lots and lots of num nums (and even got some people who saw me picking them, interested in them, and foraging, and they even tried them and liked them!), some samphire, and some lantana berries.
I heard about an incredible sale on good quality and name brand clothing at an outlet store, and came home with 3 shirts for Anneliese and 3 shirts for Mike, for a total of 15 dollars. I also bought myself a bathing suit from a bargain store, and some cheap inflatables from the once a week cheap outdoor market.
I made some gazpacho from salad that had frozen accidentally.
A friend who lived nearby and knew about my love of bargains gave me a bag of overripe mangos that she wasn't going to use, which I then used to make into a mango lassee type drink.
I made homemade larabars and homemade num num jello.
And I got two hand me down bathing suits for myself, and some hand me down clothes for my girls.

And since menu plays a big part in frugality, here's what we ate over the week. (I might have missed a few things, but this is the general gist of it.)

Breakfast (before we left)- butternut squash, leftover veggies, hard boiled eggs.
Lunch- salad with lettuce, cucumbers, butternut squash, almonds, tuna, cashew butter
Supper- pressure cooker steamed chicken, brown rice, and purslane/cucumber and num num salad

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Breakfast- corn flakes and cashew/almond butter milk
Lunch- hard boiled eggs, walnuts, cucumber sticks, chicken, dates, apples, olives
Supper- leftover rice, chicken breast, sliced sweet potatoes/potatoes, purslane/tomato/cucumber/tahini salad, steamed green beans

Breakfast- corn flakes and cashew/almond butter milk for some, brie cheese and melon for others
Lunch- hard boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, tomato/cucumber salad for some, steamed samphire/purslane with tuna and butternut squash and tahini dressing for me.
Supper- mashed potatoes/zoodles (with grater) with meaty tomato sauce (was supposed to be meatballs with leftover sweet potatoes in it, but they fell apart), roasted beet and walnut salad, leftover purslane/cucumber/num num salad, mango lassee

Breakfast- butternut squash, hard boiled eggs, melon, cashews, and grapes for the kids, butternut squash, sardines, cashews, and green beans for me.
Lunch- hard boiled eggs, butternut squash, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks. Butternut squash, cucumber/onion salad, sardines, topped with tahini butternut squash dressing and tabasco sauce.
Supper- rice paper wraps with beets, chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans for supper.

Breakfast- butternut squash, hard boiled eggs, apples for the kids.
Lunch- Potato salad, hard boiled eggs, carrot sticks for lunch
Supper- BBQ chicken (wings, whole chickens), homemade hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled zucchini, grilled tomatoes, potato salad, cucumber salad, watermelon

Breakfast- pancakes from leftover butternut squash, eggs, and leftover rice for the kids, tuna fish, cantaloupe. For myself zucchini, tomato, mushroom saute.
Lunch- pancakes, chicken breast, carrot sticks.
Supper- balsamic onion flowers. curried brown rice with onions and mushrooms. Curried onions mushrooms and 'zoodles' for me. Grilled chicken, grilled tomatoes, baked butternut squash, green beans. Dessert- chocolate larabars and num num jello.

Breakfast- butternut squash, hard boiled eggs, watermelon
Lunch- potato salad, cucumber salad, lettuce, sunflower shoots and turkey breast salad with amba honey dressing. Numnum jello for dessert.
Supper- potatoes, sweet potatoes, tuna, beet salad, leftovers, carrots and tahini.

Snacks: cantaloupe, apples, watermelon, cashews, almonds, dried mango, dates, walnuts

When you go on vacation, do you throw frugality out the window and say "Let's just live a little, it's vacation" or do you try to be as frugal as possible on vacation? How do you try to be frugal on vacation?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Follow Up on The 30 Day Paleo Reset Diet, and My Weight Journey

My paleo breakfast
Let me just say right here and right now, before I even get into this whole post, that doing re-intro after the 30 day Paleo Reset, while on vacation, is a super bad idea. I am not feeling hot and my vacation would have been much better had I continued my strict paleo diet even while on vacation.

But now let me backtrack.
About 40 days ago, I started on this 30 day Paleo Reset diet, inspired by what I read in the book called "The Paleo Cure". I wrote in detail in this post about why I tried it, but in short, I did it for a few main reasons:
1) To try to lose weight
2) As an elimination diet of sorts, to see if there were any foods that I was eating, that I hadn't been able to pinpoint as the cause, that were causing me issues, as my stomach issues were so much improved than how they used to be, but still not perfect.
3) To do that with my kids as well, to see if there were any specific food triggers that they had.

So let me first talk a little about weight. I debated about sharing this, because I know some people are very private about this, but what the heck.

Growing up I was very skinny. Like super skinny. And then I reached puberty, and started packing on the pounds. But never was really really heavy. I wore a size 10 or 12 skirt, I think. Not sure. But I exercised a ton- walking a lot, ballet, karate, gymnastics class. I once calculated that as a teenager, I was exercising at least 10 hours a week.
Then when I was sixteen my family moved abroad, and I went to a dorming school, where I was cooking all my own food, while going to many hours of school. All my exercise stopped. By the end of that year, I weighed about 195 lbs or so. That number scared me-  I didn't want to be that close to 200 lbs, and my doctor also told me I needed to lose weight.
Well, over the next bit I did lose some weight, and it culminated that when I was engaged to my husband and planning our wedding at 18.5, I weighed only 175 lbs or so- merely because I was so busy and in love that I "forgot" to eat.
Then when I was pregnant with my oldest, I threw up so much that in my first trimester, I got down to the upper end of my ideal weight range- 165 lbs... and then went up again. Ever since then, to be honest, my weight has pretty much stayed the same- hovering between 175 and 180 lbs.
My goal weight, because of my height and build (5'9.5 and very broad/large boned), is between 150 and 165 lbs.

My pregnancy with Rose was my most different pregnancy. Instead of constantly throwing up like I did in previous pregnancies, I just was nauseous all the time and eating food helped ease the nausea. So unlike my previous pregnancies where I didn't gain so much by the end (10-15 lbs), by the end of my pregnancy with Rose I had gained 35 lbs or so, and then postpartum I couldn't stop eating.
Last summer I got a reality check, because I felt really fat and overweight and flubby, none of my clothes fit me, and when I stepped on the scale it showed a scary 208 lbs. As I said- before when I'd reached 195 I was pushed to action, so you can imagine how I felt being over 200 lbs for the first time ever...
So over the past year I really did try to focus on eating healthier, tried to eat less, etc... tried adding exercise into my life, but to be honest wasn't so successful with that, because whenever I seem to try to work out, Rose would wake up and want my attention then and there...
But I did get my weight down to my pre-pregnancy weight, the weight my body seems to like. I was fluctuating between 175 and 180 lbs... And my clothing fit me again. But I did want to lose weight still, because I am not in love with my love handles, or my chub, or the fact that it is hard for me to find clothing in my size (16 or so) locally.

I decided to try the Paleo diet for 30 days, because my mom was on a strict Paleo diet since April and lost over 30 lbs, weight she hadn't managed to get off beforehand, and I was really hoping I'd have similar success...

Well, I don't know. I certainly didn't lose 30 lbs nor even close to it. I don't even remember what my starting weight was on day 1- if it was 175 lbs or 180 lbs. All I know is that before I started that's where I was at, approximately. I didn't take any waist measurements, etc.... I mean I did, but I forgot to record them, so that doesn't really help. But some days I just looked in the mirror and I felt like I looked better, looked thinner. But who knows... And someone commented when I asked, if they could tell a difference, that before I started I looked about 4.5 months pregnant, but after doing it for a month I didn't look pregnant at all anymore.
My clothes didn't get any looser, at least I don't think so.
And the scale on day 30 showed 171 lbs... which as I said before, I've never seen other than when throwing up when pregnant. So at the very least I managed to do that, even if I am not keeping that off (the other few times I stepped on the scale since then it hasn't been that low).

So... weight loss. I dunno if I actually officially lost anything.

But does that mean it's a bust? That my doing the 30 day reset was a waste of time?


I wondered if physically I would feel any different being on this diet, because my diet wasn't so far from it to begin with, if I would have what people call NSVs, or non scale victories...
And I'd say I certainly did have some, some very unexpected.

My stomach has always been sensitive, and I thought doing the 30 day diet would be really hard, because the proteins allowed on the diet are poultry, meat, eggs, and fish, and eggs gave me stomach issues and beef gave me stomach issues, so I would be down to only poultry and fish for the 30 days.
Well, after 8 days of only fish and poultry, and wanting to broaden my horizons, I decided to try some beef. But took plenty of digestive enzymes and had fermented foods with it, and apple cider vinegar... and was waiting for the standard digestive issues I got with beef to kick in. Didn't get any! So next time I tried beef again, without the digestive enzymes or ferments or apple civer vinegar, again waiting for the digestive issues to kick in. Nope. Didn't happen!
That, my friends, is really amazing for me. To actually be able to have beef! Not that it is something I do every day, because it is expensive, but you know, for variety, to be able to have it without my stomach hurting made this all worth it for me!
And, another thing- eggs? I still can't eat whole eggs, but many times while doing this diet, I made eggs for my kids, and my littlest ones didn't want their yolks and they gave them to me... and instead of figuring out something to do with them, or tossing them, I ate them. And they didn't give me issues anymore! I had tried just egg yolks before this 30 day reset, and they made me nauseous and hurt my stomach, but not while on those diet!

Another really random thing- fizzy drinks always ended up bothering my stomach, making me feel all bloated- even just seltzer. While doing this 30 day diet- no stomach issues from fizzy drinks!

I must say that I am not stomach issue free. I still had some minor minor non painful stomach issues during the 30 days, but overall, I see it was a diet that was good for my stomach.

But other than physically how this made me feel during the 30 days, I'm realizing also some of the emotional aspects that this has affected.
I hadn't realized how much I was literally addicted to grains. I grew up with rice being the staple in my diet. Most people asked me, when I went off gluten, what did I eat if I couldn't eat bread, but bread never was a staple I relied on- but rice was. In my family growing up, we had rice at least 5 meals a week, usually more than that. Going 2 days without rice was nearly sacrilege. So going without gluten was not such a "biggie" for me, but going without rice, and without any other grain substitutes in its place, for 30 days, was a huge thing for me, and quite frankly, was scary for me. Not only did I actually literally have withdrawal symptoms the first week (light headedness, exhaustion, headaches, etc...)- and no, not due to lack of carbs, because I was replacing rice and buckwheat with permitted carbs, I also was having emotional reactions, panic attacks at what I'd feed my family, being afraid that I'd starve my family if we went away for a weekend where I wasn't able to cook and I didn't have rice or another grain prepared.
It actually was quite nuts to see and experience- because I didn't realize just how much of an addiction I had to grains, and rice specifically- but at this point, after my 30 days are over, I no longer have this addiction, and to be quite honest, I have lost my taste for rice, and have no desire to eat any grains...

So now that I finished the thirty day elimination diet, the next part is the reintroduction of forbidden foods, one at a time, to see how my body reacts to it. I must say that this reintroduction part of the diet is being very eye opening for me.
First off, I have to say that I always thought rice was totally fine for me, that it was one of my "safe" foods. My father, whose sensitive stomach I inherited, used to say that rice was his medicine. So that rice could be less than amazing for someone wasn't something I could fathom. Even Chris Kresser says that white rice can be a healthy addition to a Paleo lifestyle, so long as you can tolerate it.
Apparently I do not.
Other than a little bit of coconut sugar in my coffee (I'm sorry, I just can't tolerate that stuff without a bit of sweetness to mellow out the bitter), white rice was the first thing I reintroduced to our diet after our thirty days were up, since white rice was something that I was sure would be totally fine for us.
First off, when I tasted the rice, it tasted so gross to me. Tasted like I was eating glue. And this coming from someone who would crave rice if she went even a few days without it before.
After I ate the rice, I felt insanely exhausted, as if I pulled an all nighter. And then a few hours later and the next day, etc... my stomach started bothering me again. I had never heard before of rice causing exhaustion- that is the type of reaction I had to gluten, but why rice? Google came to my rescue, and I found out that it has to do with the blood sugar spike and crash after eating it. My kids reacted to rice just as I did- but more on my kids' reactions in a bit.

I also tried corn and cheese- I got a stomach ache after the corn, and a splitting headache after the cheese, and in general, ever since trying to reintroduce these foods, I've been feeling awful, out of it, headachey, like I haven't been sleeping nearly enough lately, when the fact of the matter is that I've been sleeping many more hours a night than I usually do, I feel dizzy and light headed like I am dehydrated but I am not in actuality... And I'm nauseous much of the time.
It is quite clear to me that my body does not like these foods that I've tried reintroducing. And of them all, the cheese is what is making me saddest- because I really do love my aged cheeses, and I really thought that I was ok with them, but I guess not.
And interestingly enough- when I eat an egg yolk now, or drink seltzer- I feel funny again, like I did before I started the 30 day diet.

In short, other than wine, a drop of dark chocolate, and small amounts of coconut sugar, pretty much everything I've tried to eat has been not good for me. I even tried potatoes, but they are making me nauseous, and don't even really appeal to me.

And as I said in the first line of this post- doing this reintroduction on vacation has been the stupidest idea ever; I thought it would make my vacation easier to have more options of what to eat, but what it did was make me not enjoy my vacation as much as I could have because I haven't been feeling well. So if any of you are considering doing the 30 day reset, and want to reintroduce foods during or before a vacation- don't! Stick with the diet longer, even if harder on vacation, so that you can reintro when you can take your time and aren't trying to go enjoy yourself...

So it looks like I'll be sticking to a grain free diet for now. Maybe in a little bit, I'll try some sourdough buckwheat pancakes. But for now, nope.

And actually, one thing that I will be doing, once I get back home, is sticking to this diet more strictly- lower in carbs. I gradually have been getting myself to eating fewer and fewer carbs. Now I actually am able to feel satisfied even after a lower carbohydrate meal. I strongly suspect that my issue with weight is due both to the amount of carbs I eat and that I overeat.
So I also plan on working on portion control. Because I am pretty sure that the reason I didn't have as much success as my mom with this diet is that I am a huge eater. I eat with my eyes, less with my stomach. From when I get home on vacation, I will try to keep a food journal, and write down every single food I eat, along with why I'm eating it- hunger, boredom, emotional reasons, wanting a good taste in my mouth, etc... Maybe if I have to stop and think about why I'm eating what I'm doing, it'll help me not overeat.
And another thing I've been trying to do, but I'll try to do more. is drink more. Many times thirst is mistaken for hunger, and if I drink, I no longer find the need to eat.

Anyhow, so that's about me.

What about the rest of the family?

Well, we started off the month with the entire family doing the diet together. Around day 5, Mike, who was short on sleep, started feeling really funny, which made him go to the urgent care center. He was totally fine. But upon research, it seems that it was a combination of extreme fatigue and reactive hypoglycemia or something. But his feeling that horribly made him really wary of doing this diet, so he ate the paleo food I made at home, but did his own thing as well, and didn't do the diet.

But my kids- they stuck to it beautifully, and I am really proud of them!

If you want to know how much weight they lost or gained... No. I didn't weigh them before and I didn't weigh them after. My children are very healthy weights, slender, muscular- they didn't do this at all for weight loss purposes! I don't want my kids to lose weight. We did it purely as a lifestyle change and an elimination type diet.

So my kids had quite a few non scale victories. Number one that I noticed is that my kids behavior really was amazing- they didn't have any melt downs, any major crying fits. They were mature, well behaved kids. In case you think that that is how they normally are... well, most of them are, most of the time. But we do have issues with tantrums with a few of my kids who shall not be named. But going off these foods meant that these issues went away, and when we introduced back rice, sugar, and corn, gradually, they immediately came back. Mike is a huge skeptic when it comes to food affecting behavior, but after seeing it really clear cut how sugar especially, but also rice and corn caused my kids sugar highs (and incredible misbehavior, tantrumming, "regressing" and acting like they're a year or two younger than they are) and then crashes- to the extent that my kids literally fell asleep in the middle of the day when they never nap anymore... he's a believer, and he's on board with cutting white sugar from my kids' diet. And rice and corn. I'm still experimenting to figure it all out- I think brown rice doesn't cause the same sugar highs and crashes that rice, corn, and white sugar do. And we're still trialing dairy.

Speaking of which- I did this diet with my kids mainly as an elimination diet, to see if there were food triggers that they had that they/I were missing, because some had stomach issues and some other issues, and it seems that their stomach issues have gotten much better this way.

And unexpected, another bonus for them is I found that they are now able to have more self control when it comes to treats and things that aren't healthy- they are willing to turn it down and not cry that they want it. A guest came by and gave the kids treats, and instead of eating it, they returned it to him and said "we can't have it now, we're on a 30 day diet". I mean- wow- what self control!!
They aren't always demanding cakes, treats, junk, etc... we even have a bag of junk in my house from before, and one of my kids would always have a melt down if he/she saw it, and I wouldn't give them the junk, but now he/she is fine without eating the junk. They are also totally content with fruit as treats, whether dried fruit or fresh, and aren't looking to eat garbage.
And I see now my kids are more willing to explore new things- Anneliese now is a huge chicken eater- before she would just barely pick at it, but now she can easily eat 3 large wings in a sitting.
I see my kids are thriving on this nutrient dense diet.

The hardest thing for me, though, is I felt my kids were constantly constantly hungry, and it was super hard to keep on cooking more and more and more food to fill them up- and the fillers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash- were very heavy and expensive now, so my grocery bill has definitely gone up. Nothing quick to serve them- no pouring a bowl of milk and cereal in the morning- I had to keep on cooking.
So now that this diet is over, I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do. I am going to see how they handle quinoa, buckwheat, and legumes, and I'll trial brown rice again...
But for now, I am going to be still cooking predominantly Paleo... but we'll see what happens in the future.

All in all, I must say that this has been very enlightening to me and my husband- especially that the foods that I thought were totally fine were actually problematic for me and my kids...
And wish me luck that once I go back 100% on the paleo diet, but a lower carb version, I'll be able to lose more weight than I did, and actually keep it off.

Have you done a 30 day Paleo diet, or the Paleo diet in general? Have you found it had an effect on you physically, emotionally, or your weight, and if so, what type of effect?

Will buying an eco-vehicle pay off in the long run?

Is eco-friendly also budget friendly, both now and in the future? Read more of this guest post to find out.

 While switching to an eco-friendly car will cut the cost of your motoring for the next few years, in the longer term it might be wise to expect an increase in tax costs.

A report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) anticipates that the government will look to recoup the financial incentives it currently gives to motorists looking to run greener cars within the next ten years.

According to the report, 75 per cent of cars could be entirely exempt from tax within the next decade – and if the current, emissions-based tax banding stays in place, that could mean a shortfall for the government of £1.3billion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frugal and Healthy Life Hacks For The Beach

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Hey everyone, how are you doing?
This week our summer fun finally has started- we've been just hanging around the house until now, trying to avoid the extreme heat for most of the summer, but this week we are spending in a coastal city, a few minute's walk from the beach. We come here yearly, and I've posted about it before, but I don't think I've ever posted about how we "do the beach". I was actually thinking of titling this post "How the Penniless Family Does the Beach" but then I figured- some of these stuff are more "life hacks" so why not just title it that way?

Anyhow, as I've written before, we have no car, so when we go away on our vacation we go by public transportation, and have to carry everything with us in our bags on the bus transfers, etc... so we aren't unlimited in what we can take- it needs to be small enough and light enough to be able to fit into our bags...

But even so, we didn't just want to have to spend our precious vacation time shopping for what we needed there, and pay over-inflated prices because we bought what we could find and not what we found at a good price....
Therefore, right before we left on our vacation, I went shopping in my local town, at the cheap places that I know of, to be able to stock up on vacation supplies, even if it meant needing to carry it all there via public transportation, because it was worth being able to find what I wanted and not overpay.

The main things on my list were bathing suits, beach toys, and a mat for the beach to go under our towels so they wouldn't get all sandy.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments These Past Two Weeks

I've been a little slacking lately on the frugal front, since it's been so hot that even the thought of moving has often been beyond me, let alone actually doing frugal things...
I felt so silly posting my weekly frugal accomplishments last week, because my list was so super short, so I decided to combine it with this week's list... which also was super short.
But hey- the fact that I even did anything frugal when it was this hot- that's already a huge win.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Paleo Sesame Chicken Recipe- No Added Sweeteners, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Delicious!

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This was not in the plans for today's post at all, however, I posted a picture of my lunch today, which really was amazing, and the result was so positive, people wanting to know the recipe already, that I decided not to wait for tomorrow to post it, and get this out, stat.

So, what was it? Sesame chicken! My family has been doing this 30 day paleo reset, and today is my kids' last day, and because they have been such awesome sports, I decided to make today's lunch a real treat- super yummy and delicious. Sesame chicken was the obvious choice, since I had chicken breast already defrosted, and half a bottle of coconut aminos (a soy free soy sauce substitute that is allowed on the diet) left. On this diet, no added sweeteners are allowed, however, whole fruit are, so I had this idea- use dates to add the sweetness to the sesame chicken (if I weren't making it 30 day paleo reset legal, I'd use a healthier sweetener, like honey, coconut sugar, or jaggery in my sesame chicken), and I scoured the internet to see if I could find a recipe for a terriyaki style sauce made with dates, but no such luck. I didn't get it- that seemed the obvious combination to me, but I guess my brain works differently than others.

Anyhow, this chicken came out beyond amazing- I will certainly be making it again in the future.
Just a warning- it is a drop fussy to make, but it is well worth the extra dishes and time.

This recipe is Whole30 legal, GAPS legal if you leave out the starch, allergy friendly... and if you want to make this with some meat alternative instead of the chicken, it'll be less healthy but it'll be vegan.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Homemade Carob/Cocoa Covered Sprouted Almonds Recipe- Paleo, GAPS Legal, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free

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The other day I was in the city with my husband and kids, and while I brought along food for the family, we ended up being out for much longer than I expected, and the kids were hungry. Usually when this happens, I just stop in a supermarket and pick up a package of rice cakes, etc... but since we're temporarily not eating rice (for the 30 day paleo reset) I couldn't do that, and wondered where I'd possibly be able to find food that suited our dietary needs.
Fortunately, I found a health food store right nearby, which was selling a bunch of different paleo legal foods- and one thing I spotted there were these cocoa and carob covered sprouted almonds. I bought them, even though I officially wasn't supposed to have any cocoa powder on the thirty day diet- I only realized that after I'd bought it...
Anyhow, they were so good that I decided to try recreating them at home. I didn't have an exact recipe, but I looked at the ingredients listed on the package- almonds, dates, carob powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, salt, and vanilla, and decided to play around with proportions until I got it perfect.
Well, already my first try was a roaring success. I made it with only carob powder, no cocoa powder, however, if you're on the GAPS diet and are allowed cocoa powder and no carob powder, feel free to use cocoa instead of carob. Whatever floats your boat.
What I like best about these is that they are just a touch sweet, so not so sugar heavy. And another issue with almonds is their phytates, which makes them less digestible unless they're first sprouted or soaked... and since these are soaked overnight, they become more digestible and have less antinutrients in them.

The biggest issue with these- they are addicting. It is hard not to eat too many in one go. I even kept on helping myself to them while they were in the oven, not even finished yet. Oh yea, that's the other issue with them. They take a long time to make- at least 24 hours from start to finish....
But they are very well worth it.
P.S. The second time I tried making these, I didn't have so many almonds but I did have other nuts, like cashews and brazil nuts, so I used a mix of them all. The brazil nuts weren't awesome in this recipe, but they were ok. But the cashews were amazing. So feel free to sub cashews for almonds in this, or do half half.

Homemade Carob/Cocoa Covered Sprouted Almonds Recipe- Paleo, GAPS Legal, Refined Sugar Free

Monday, August 3, 2015

Giving My Daughter a Pixie Haircut

Before I became a mom, I had all sorts of ideas of what parenting would be like, and even made a whole long list of things I'd want to do with my daughters, and another list of things I'd want to do with my sons.

Fast forward 8 years, and very few things of what I do are what I expected I'd be doing. For one, I'd always expected to have my daughters have long hair, which I'd style each morning. For another, I never expected that I'd be an unschooler, who doesn't just follow unschooling tenets for educating, but also sometimes when it comes to child rearing (often referred to as radical unschooling or whole life unschooling). We're definitely not complete radical unschoolers, but I do pick and choose certain things from the philosophy that make sense to me, and jive with my parenting style.
One of the big rules of radical unschooling is body autonomy, respecting your child's body, and letting them choose what they want to do with it, so long as they aren't hurting anyone else or themselves, and so long as it doesnt affect their health/hygiene. This makes sense to me. This, therefore, includes whatever hairstyles they want to have, even if it isn't the type of hairstyle you'd want your kids to have.

I've heard of parents that will not let their kids cut their hair. I don't think that is fair. It's the kids' hair, and the kids who needs to sit through the brushing, washing, styling of their hair, and for the parent to not let their kid cut it, simply because the parents can't bear to part with their kids hair- just doesn't seem right to me, and it seems that it isn't respecting the kid's feelings enough. Respecting a kid's body and choice over his own body is an important step in kids learning to take responsibility for their own body, respect their body, and not anyone take advantage of their body. Not guaranteed, but it certainly plays a part.
I'm also very into treating my kids the way I would want to be treated, and not deciding that the rule of "treat others how you want to be treated" doesn't apply to my kids. I can just imagine how I'd feel if I'd want to have my hair a certain style, and be told that I couldn't have that style because someone else doesn't want me to. I mean, excuse me- my hair, my choice.

So anyhow, why am I going into this?

Well, Anneliese, my 3.5 year old, has been asking me to give her a haircut for a while already.
Every single time she sees me cut her brothers' hair, she's asked me to cut her hair. Sometimes I oblige and give her a little trim.

But she has been getting upset at this.
She wants short hair, she says. Like her brothers.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Chicken Neck and Watermelon Rind Stew Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo and GAPS Legal

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Sometimes you just get inspired by whatever random things are lying around your house, throwing them together in the hopes that you might make something tasty out of it. And sometimes you're in luck, because the food doesn't just come out passable, or even tasty, but absolutely delicious, enough so that you want to repeat it. But since you just threw it together the first time without a recipe, you really hope that when you make it a second time, this time recording exact amounts for the recipe, you're able to recreate that phenomenal taste.
And sometimes you get lucky, when the second batch tastes just as good as the first.

That is what happened today.

Last week I had a bunch of watermelon rind in my refrigerator, and not many other vegetables since I needed to go shopping. I had a few odds and ends- some mushrooms, a few soft tomatoes, a bit of celery, but that's about it. I also had defrosted a package of chicken necks that I'd bought at the grocery store for 65 cents a pound (in comparison, the next cheapest meat here is chicken wings, generally at $1.16 per pound) and wanted to use that as our protein. Chicken necks actually do have meat on them- in case you were wondering- you just need to cook it first to make it super soft before eating.
So, as I alluded to beforehand- I threw them together and made such a delicious stew for my family that I decided to recreate it today, also so we could enjoy another super frugal and tasty meal, and so that I would have a precise recipe to share on my blog with you. And again, it came out superb. (According to Mike it was "amazing, delicious, terrific.")

And for those of you on special diets- this is Paleo legal, and GAPS legal if you leave out the starch. And it is also allergy friendly. Did I mention super cheap?

Last week when I posted the picture of my lunch on Facebook, people wanted to know what watermelon rind actually tastes like, and how you use it. So basically, watermelon rind tastes pumpkiny- not exactly like it, but a similar flavor profile. I've made a Moroccan style watermelon rind salad that tastes similar to Moroccan carrot or pumpkin salad. It works similarly in recipes. I have to try a watermelon rind pie, like pumpkin pie. :-D That'll be interesting.
As to how to use it- you cut off the very thin outer dark green layer on your watermelon rind, and use the white/light green rind. Most recipes say to cut off any pink part of the watermelon rind, but I don't bother.

Chicken Neck and Watermelon Rind Stew Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo and GAPS Legal