Wednesday, April 23

A Change Will Do You Good.

Over the last 18 months I have managed to move my two person family to a more Paleo or Primal lifestyle. I first read about Paleo October 2012 which is weird because I heard about it at least six months prior and I usually try to check out these new "diets" to see what they are all about.
My first encounter was through co-workers who briefly explained they were only eating natural items like nuts, and vegetables and agave/honey instead of sugar. At least that is what I got from their explanation. During this time I was still trying to eat a low carb/fat or South Beach type of fare. It might be that I was not ready.... OR that I saw them chowing down on processed foods (bags of chips, "natural" packaged cookies) and eating items in general they had told me were not in the "diet". I immediately took this diet as a joke and blew it off. Who wants to diet anyways? Don't get me wrong- over the last ten years or so I have tried and been successful at Weight Watchers, South Beach and Lo Carb in general. I have cut out pasta, then potatoes, then bread; I have been to the gym (mostly) regularly for the last seven years. Because of this I have had a natural progression from the prepackaged food of my college days to completely homemade meals of today.

Today's frozen food were last weeks left overs.

In 2012 one of my girlfriends was losing weight; every time I saw her she looked healthier and healthier. She was positively radiant. When prompted, she briefly mentioned that she was cutting out legumes, sugar, alcohol, dairy and grains. (I am sure I gave her a crazy "O-Kay" look because it sounds like a lot of items, I mean dairy!!!) She followed up with "You know like the Paleo diet?". This was the second time I heard about PALEO so I immediately went home to check it out. I obviously wanted to lose a tiny bit of weight so that was one reason I needed to look into Paleo plus eating on a South Beach like menu was leaving me not satisfied. I found myself straying from what I thought was ideal and feeling like I was "cheating" far too many times. I also started to think "what is the meaning of life with out good food"... sometimes I am so dramatic.

So last October when I ran into this video- it spoke to me OR at least made me do more research.

Throughout this journey I realized that I don't want to diet, I want to have a healthy lifestyle- and what I think that looks like has changed over the years. I am still not a perfect Paleo/Primal eater. It has only been a year people! You can't change your whole lifestyle in one year but I have been working my way there. I am lucky that unlike the majority of people who have switched to this way of eating, I do not have an illness or autoimmune disease (at least that I have noticed). Since I am overall pretty healthy (I know I am lucky!) I do sometimes find it hard to not eat foods my friends or family and the general population of America consume. Eating this way has done several maybe-not-so-noticeable-to-others things for me. I do generally feel better about myself. I have reduced those afternoon cravings/ hunger pains. I don't have to snack, although sometimes I do. I do not all of a sudden get hungry and in the *kill-all-things mode. (Seriously, there was a time when I was like a ticking time bomb and would suddenly get really hungry and grumpy at the same time. Mr. FFF always was a little bit afraid during this time. But this doesn't happen anymore. Thank goodness.) I get to eat real bacon, but try to only do it once a week. I can maintain my weight more easily and not feel deprived.

For me, these things alone are worth the change. 

I do still drink (its soo hard to give up craft beer), eat something on the no no list if it is a special occasion IE in a new town, new restaurant, or in general when I really really want too. I also go on little spurts of time when I am very strict just to keep myself accountable and as a reminder why I have aimed to change. Everyday Is a new chance to reinforce my health and fitness goals. Always aiming for a better me! Isn't it great to have goals?
 What motivates you? Are there certain foods that make you just cray cray? 
Or are you a only live once type of person?

Need a little more info? Here are my favorite Paleo/Primal resources:

Overall best researched and well explained:

Best overall Paleo recipes:
Nom Nom Paleo
PaleOMG (Juli has a lot of cheat recipes so be careful if you are being strict)
The Clothes Make the Girl

Best Paleo baking:
Elana's Pantry 
Against All Grain

*Lingo downright stolen from Melissa of Whole9.

Monday, April 7

My love affair with food.

The other day I was talking to a girlfriend about the pictures (a.k.a. food porn) I post on social media. "Your food always looks so amazing. I wish I could make those things." After thinking her for the compliment, I began to pour out the passion I have for all things food. I guess I had known these things about myself for a quite a while but I never really went all out and said it aloud. This one simple moment in time was my AHA. Enlightenment. Here is what I discovered about myself. 

I have always been interested in learning how to make food. I like to know about the history of food. I want to know the traditional ways to prepare food. I am on a quest to master food and make it taste as good as possible. I have a thirst to understand the nutrition of food and the human body.

I have always been interested in learning how to make food. For a few years when I was little, my dad would take me out to dinner every weekend when my mom was at work. The much cherished daddy daughter date. He introduced me to German, Italian, Cuban, and Greek. If anyone is to blame my expensive tastes or need for trying new and exciting foods- it's him. (Thanks Dad.) I was crushed when he told me our dates were at an end when I was 7 or 8. Turns out we had to help out family financially and couldn't spend money on going out for a while. As an only child (at the time), my memory serves this as my first lesson in self sacrifice. It was a sad day. The natural progression once we stopped going out was to start cooking at home. I am sure we cooked on week days before this time; I just don't remember it.  My parents both let me be "hands on" in the kitchen with them from an early age. I got to help them crack an egg, slice the tomato or stir the pot. We made new recipes frequently. There was a time in the early 90's that dad was very into the low fat health craze and working out. He cooked  us spinach linguine, lentil soup and other things that were usual to my friends when they joined us for dinner. These were strange times indeed. Once my sister was born and my mom was staying at home, she became the maker of necessary meals (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner) and my dad was the creator of fun meals/treats. Even to this day they work really well together in the kitchen. He bakes a cake, she decorates it. 

I like to know about the history of food. I want to know the old-fashioned or traditional ways to prepare food. I think that this started around the time Food Network first aired on cable TV. Shows like Iron Chef America, Paula's Home Cooking, and especially *Good Eats fulfilled and fueled my quest for knowledge of all things food. I couldn't wait to see what the secret ingredient was each week, how Paula makes her grandmas Red Velvet Cake that has been passed down from generation to generation, and to discover the science behind why Alton thinks that a brined bird is best.

I am on a quest to master food and make it taste as good as possible. I may not eat biscuits **frequently but I need to know how to make them. I don't know why. There was a time right after college that I made every baked good until it was admired by all or got the thumbs up from Mr. FFF. (You don't get the nickname "the Cupcake" from co-workers for nothin'.) I do not have a fear of The Apocalypse (or a Zombie attack) but I do feel the need to know how to make something in case...I don't know what? In case I have to  make it without a recipe one day. This is not rational but it is true.

I have a thirst to understand the nutrition of food and the human body. This is a more recent obsession. I think once you realize that you are nearing your thirties, you are not as invincible as you once thought, you see loved ones get sick or worse passing on. It strikes you that maybe you should start to really take care of your body. (Now that I think of it maybe this was the same reason for dad's health craze of the 90's- I guess the apple doesn't fall too far.) I have been on a quest to lose weight or get toned for years but now I want to make sure that I don't just look good on the outside. I want to reprogram my genes for myself and for future generations. I want to be the best me; to stay healthy for as long as possible. I want to avoid cancer which runs in the family, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and whatever other diseases lurk around the corner. All of these reasons and more is why I have gradually switched to a REAL FOOD life. I don't want to be S.A.D. I want to live a long healthy happy and fun life. Over the last year, I have read alot of about nutrition and I am on a quest for more. Weekly, Mr. FFF says "don't you already know everything you need to know about [book i am reading at the time]."

So that's a little about me. What about you? Do you think that we are more food aware than past generations? I really feel like having a whole network dedicated to food has shaped a greater percentage of our generation into foodies. Or was Julia Child alone enough inspire those of past generations with foodie tendencies?  Doubters need to check out this awesome video below.


"Learn how to cook -- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun." - Julia Child


* Good Eats is still my all time favorite food show. A.B. is so awesome. He currently has a podcast, the Browncast that airs weekly. I haven't missed an episode of that either!

**I miss eating you wonderful biscuits... oh the memories. 

Tuesday, April 1

The Long Awaited Trader Joe's

I love living in Florida. What is not to like? I've been to the beach in January, 70% of my weekends a year can be spent outside, and the cost of living is pretty darn good. I mean the weather right now is out of control amazing!

On the not so bright side, Florida doesn't tend to lead in health trends, hip stores, or innovative products... but we do have the ability to create some *big time chain restaurants and are in the national news frequently (both of which might be considered a bad thing). Somehow along the way I had learned of Trader Joe's, so way back in September 2012 when a Trader Joe's opened in Sarasota (which is 50 plus miles south of us), we heard ALL about it. Apparently people were very excited and pledged to make frequent trips to the store. This is a grocery store people- with a 70 minute drive! I really didn't understand but when the time came to build a Trader Joe's here in Tampa (mere minutes from my home) I did get a wee bit excited I mean it has to be good since everyone is so stoked about it. Only 5 days after our newest TJ's opened, I decided to trudge through the traffic and crowded mess just to find out what all of the fuss was about. You see the things I do for you?

First this store is tiny so the amount of people was massive compared to the amount of space. I realize that this is part of their business plan and maybe it'll get better with time but  I for one do not like crowds when shopping. It actually makes me spend less. (And this is one reason I do a lot of online shopping) Although I love it (hello I am a woman) I don't do tons of shopping so when I do I want to enjoy it; I do not want to be elbowed. Yes, this applies to grocery shopping as well. There are only 60 parking spots. Should it really be necessary for a grocery store to have a traffic cop? Ok how about 2? They had two! This seems excessive but on the bright side parking was relativity easy considering I had to drive past the store, make a u turn and wait in line to be allowed in the parking lot. All on a Wednesday afternoon.

Once I stepped in the store I was immediately reminded of Whole Foods with the fresh beautiful flowers- only cheaper. Then I was overcome by the amount of people in my view. I wandered around the store aimlessly. Then I started over; now that I knew where everything was located. I made sure to pick up TJ's brand olive oil, and several different varieties of their wine. Which I feel like they can no longer call Two Buck Chuck since the price is $2.99. (Dear Trader Joe's, I would accept  the name revision of Three Buck Chuck.) I also picked up their brand of olive oil potato chips. This potato chip victory was a pretty good one since Rolling Oats and Health Village Market are the only stores that carry potato chips not made with rancid vegetable oils  and I don't frequent these too much. Unless the need for chips arises.

Overall, Trader Joe's has a decent price for sprouted bread, bulk nuts, dairy products and organic produce. I don't know what I was expecting but I was surprised by how sparse the shelves were, the overwhelming TJ's brand items available and the lack of specialty items. They do have tons of frozen meals, processed foods and snacks galore. I now see why the general public loves this store so much. This store would really be good for someone who lives alone and doesn't cook or throwing a party cheaply/ last minute. This girl is a homemade, making things from scratch, pre-planning machine so I don't see much need for it.

UPDATE: After consuming all the items I bought, I will go back and get the wines, olive oil and the **chips from time to time but I am not on the Trader Joe's BANDWAGON. It was good but I didn't drink the cool-aid, just the wine.


* Your welcome <Outback/Carrabbas/Bonefish/Flemings/Roy's/IHOP/Applebee's/Olive Garden/Red Lobster/LongHorn Steackhouse/Bahama Breeze/Seasons 52/The Capital Grille/Benihana/Village Inn/Anthonys Coal Fire Pizza/Hooters/Shula's/TooJay's/Wendy's/Burger King/First Watch/Checkers/Smokey Bones/Pizza Fusion> lovers! (Just to name a few)

**Honestly, I wish I could just find Jackson's Honest Potato Chips locally.