Friday, April 20, 2012

Cave is a Verb

Or: If You Are What You Eat, Then I Am a Nut!

Last night I violated my Paleo-minus parameters and ate some walnuts. Do I feel guilty, discouraged, or even disappointed? Nope. It was late, I was so hungry I knew I would not be able to sleep, and there was nothing else quick to eat (aside from fruit [of which I had already eaten too much yesterday], and I know sometimes a high-carb snack can be disruptive to sleep). So I chose a protein-and-fat-rich snack that is Paleo-regular compliant.

It is definitely challenging to stick to the elimination of eggs, nuts, and Nightshades. But especially the eggs and nuts, because they are both great quick-and-easy protein sources. Last night was the first time I have deliberately eaten one of those foods in almost three weeks, but there have been a couple of times that I have unintentionally eaten Nightshade spices or nuts. No eggs whatsoever, though. So by the end of tomorrow I will have gone three full weeks without eggs in any form, and I am thinking to myself that maybe three weeks is going to be enough for me... Just for the eggs. We'll see.

Yummy improv discoveries in the past week plus include:
  • throwing together leftover carrots and green beans with leftover nitrate-free bacon
  • semi-supremed oranges topped with coconut flakes and coconut cream
  • tuna-avocado salad (mashed avocado in place of mayo) lettuce wraps
Melissa Joulwan's book, Well Fed continues to prove invaluable to me for inspiration, and for specific recipes. She describes her method of doing a weekly "cook up" to pre-prep proteins and some veggies, and then on any given evening one simply decides what flavor profile to pursue and then combines protein, veggies, and seasonings on-the-spot to create a fast and delicious meal (she calls them hot plates). My tongue is totally crushing on her Caramelized Coconut Chips (which are almost as fast to make as microwave popcorn!), and her Ras el Hanout spice blend is SO amazing--even without the cayenne (a Nightshade spice)--that it has helped me not to miss Indian and Mexican flavor profiles so much.

My "new vegetable of the week" was bok choy. Shockingly quickly I had a tasty Chinese-inspired "hot plate"combo of grass-fed ground beef, onions, garlic, ginger, coconut aminos (tastes just like soy sauce), and bok choy. It was so good I did it again the following night with broccoli florets! My guys and I loved it.

I still have not gotten into a rhythm of planning, shopping, prepping, and executing. But, then again, I cannot say that I was so great with that before this little adventure began... I just kind of go into a grocery store two or more times per week gathering whatever vegetables look fresh (and trying to challenge myself to try new ones), and trying to stay stocked on protein foods.  

Despite last night's spelunking, I am having a great time trying so many new things!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eating Rainbow

Yesterday was Easter. My sister came over and together we created an Easter Feast that actually included all of the colors of the rainbow. ROYGBIV. Red were the tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and raspberries. Orange was the butternut squash. Yellow was the lemon zest. Green were the asparagus, avocado, lettuce, and celery. Blue were the blueberries. Indigo were the blackberries (or so we decided). We were stuck for our final color until she proclaimed that the "red" onion she was mincing was, in truth, Violet! We chopped til we dropped, then enjoyed that yummy, yummy rainbow...

Yesterday also began my second week eating strict Paleo-minus. The first week was surprising in a number of ways:
  1. I had NO cravings. There was not a single moment when I was battling the urge to go off plan. Sure, there were times that something "off the menu" sounded or looked good, and there were times when my lazy self would have been happy to grab something easy, but I seriously was not even tempted. I was astounded by this, because I have gone off of sugar before, and it was very difficult.
  2. I ate really delicious food every day. Even when I was ravenous and in a hurry (thank you, Emergency Guacamole and Sublime Sweet Potato!).
  3. I tried lots of new recipes (including two to serve to guests--usually a "don't"). The ones listed above I made up on the spot, but I also made Breakfast Hash, Impromptu Green Salad with Tuna (another "on the spot" creation), two versions of Collard Greens with Coconut Milk, and from Melissa Joulwan, Ras el Hanout spice blend (which I used in beef and greens dishes), Whipped Coconut Cream, and yesterday's Deconstucted Gyro Salad.
  4. I faithfully made a lot of veggies. I am a slacker, so I'm always surprised when I manage to do something that actually takes effort. Collards, salads, butternut squash, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes (lots of sweet potatoes), etc.
  5. I learned to like coconut cream in my coffee as a substitute for cow's milk cream. Even though it is far more expensive and is a bit of a hassle to prep.
Last week I was on "Spring Break" from one of my main occupations. This week my challenge is to continue to eat Paleo-minus in the midst of my normal routine. One challenge I foresee is that I will have to fit breakfast into my morning schedule. Previously I was either skipping breakfast or eating something grabby and sweet (like a Lara bar or yogurt with a banana). I have found that, on Paleo-minus, skipping breakfast is a bad idea because it throws my eating times and amounts off for the rest of the day, and it is difficult to eat enough for that day. And eating anything sweet first thing goes completely against the Paleo grain. Without eggs or nuts my breakfast options are dinner leftovers, or cooking meat.

Well. I just have to "Make it work," as Tim Gunn would say. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Love and Other Food

April 1 was a very big day. My younger daughter became engaged to a fine young man who is beyond anyone she had ever dreamed of meeting.

And a family friend stepped out of his comfort zone and into my volunteer position to enable me to be part of the surprise party at the proposal.

All of this on Palm Sunday. The day we celebrate the Bridegroom's triumphal entry into Jerusalem days before He gave Himself as a living sacrifice on the cross for His Bride.

A day full of true soul food.

My first day of intentionally feeding my body according to Paleo (minus eggs, Nightshades, and nuts) guidelines.

The engaged couple invited us to celebrate their happy day with them at a local restaurant, so I have already had practice with dining out "on plan." But it was not the food that filled me.

Later that day we drove past an old graveyard with headstones at various angles from all of the years gone by. I thought of all of those lives, and the days they may have had in which their hearts were filled with joy. And all of the others who shared the joy with them. Sorrow is always waiting to come and try to negate the joy. Like weeds in a garden.

But sorrow does not win. With the curse of weeds comes the promise of redemption ( Through the Bridegroom our sorrows are now rendered temporary, though we may feel them deeply for a time, and our joys are transformed into glimpses of the unfathomable and everlasting delight that awaits His Bride.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) Remembering that even the most delicious food we eat in this life is merely a foretaste of the feast to come (