What Happens When You Go Off-Paleo for 2 Weeks?

I did this over the Christmas holidays. Just like millions of other people. I figured I’d gain a few pounds, and get right back on track in January. No harm done, right?

We still ate many Paleo meals, but if you were to offer me a cookie? Oh I’d eat it. Wheat or no wheat. With that came lots of refined sugar, and even a few fast-food meals that I haven’t had since I started Paleo. If there was holiday junk food nearby, you could be sure it would fly into my mouth.

For my trouble, I received much more than a little weight gain. For starters, my skin broke out. I got this weird rashy zit just under my left eye that I had to cover every day with makeup. My skin in general looked unhealthy and reddish. I experienced severe lethargy that started to concern my husband. I’ve never felt so tired! Then my inflammation started to creep back in. Aches and pains in my joints that I haven’t felt in months came back.

As soon as I started eating Paleo again, my skin cleared up in less than 5 days, and the aches and pains went away about a week. My energy is back. I will think twice before doing that again. It really wasn’t worth it!

Glad to be back.

Time for the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I said I’d post about the good, bad and ugly so here it is:

GOOD: I’ve gone down 2 dress sizes since I started eating Paleo in July. This was confirmed by my trip to the store to buy pants the evening. *bows to applause*

BAD: Even though I’ve shrunk 2 sizes, I’ve only lost about 15 pounds. Was hoping for more in 4 months.

UGLY: My weight loss has plateaued since CanadianThanksgiving. If I want to lose more, I’m going to have to make some changes. I know why. The “occasional” sweet potatoes have become “regular” sweet potatoes. I’ve been getting into the homemade Paleo/Primal ice cream more often than I should. You know how it goes. Looking back at the last month I’m lucky I haven’t GAINED weight.

My timing sucks. Christmas is coming in a little over a month. I work retail in the morning, receiving huge skids of deliveries and merchandising toys. In the afternoon I work at home. My nights and weekends are spent on the PR work to help my 13 year old daughter’s short film trailer to be seen by more people, which increases her chances of being screened at youth film festivals. Then there’s family time. Right?

Plus I make all my food from scratch, because I’m Paleo.

I think I’ll settle for maintaining between now and January.

The Quest for the PERFECT Sweet Potato Fry, and the T-Fal Actifry

Part of my Paleo regime is to have sweet potato fries once a week. My first few attempts at making them were sad indeed. How can something be both soggy AND burnt at the same time?! I’m also someone that doesn’t take kitchen failure well. I get downright grumpy and have a cloud over my head for at least an hour afterward. However, I always get back on the horse and try again… which is why I did sweet potato fry RESEARCH. Oh yes I did.

So obviously, you can have THE BEST EVER sweet potato fries if you deep fry them. No sh*t Sherlock, but that is most definitely NOT Paleo! I did find that if you are going to bake excellent sweet potato fries in the oven, you must follow these rules:

1. The fries must be hand cut to a similar size
2. The fries must be placed on a pan and not touch each other
3. The fries must be turned every 10 minutes until the desired crispness is reached

I much prefer to zip mine through the fry-cutter in my food processor. After tossing them in some oil and seasoning, I used the “dump and spread” method before putting them in the oven. This is GUARANTEED to yield soggy, gross sweet potato fries that will be enjoyed tremendously by your compost.

So one evening I used my newly-researched method, and low and behold, EXCELLENT sweet potato fries:

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I think that Jeni said it best: “That is more work than looking after an infant!”

During the same Twitter conversation, I mentioned that I had been looking at the T-Fal Actifry for years, and linked to one that happened to be on sale at Canadian Tire. It was the best price I’d seen, so I snuck out the next morning (with budget money NOT intended for this purchase) and bought one.

After my daughter got home from Karate that day, I made her fries out of white potatoes. They were a huge hit, but required more work than I’d like – even in the Actifry. I used my food processor to cut them, but they must be rinsed in cool water until it runs clear, and then dried before you toss them in oil. If you skip the drying step, they won’t brown. I found that to be MUCH work. Glad that I rarely eat white potatoes!

The sweet potatoes were a whole different ball game. NO rinsing required. To get excellent sweet potato fries in the Actifry, you can:

1. Zip the sweet potatoes through the fry-cutter in your food processor
2. Toss them in oil and seasoning
3. Dump in Actifry
4. Turn on and set timer for 20 to 30 minutes

No rinsing and drying required! It made sweet potato fries that look like this:

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My teen daughter, who has expressed an extreme dislike for even restaurant sweet potato fries in the past, now asks for them. They are THAT good. She even eats them without the garlic-mayo-paprika dip that my hubs and I enjoy.

Also, if you’ve never tried roasted cauliflower, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? It’s friggin delicious. It’s good enough to eat instead of popcorn while watching a movie. We tried roasted cauliflower in the Actifry too. AMAZING!

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If you make it with even smaller pieces of cauliflower, it’s even more popcorn-like. We also tried brussel sprouts. They were blackened by the time they were done, but also very tasty!

The other thing I LOVE about the Actifry? I don’t have to turn on my oven! Much more energy-efficient, and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

The Actifry comes with lots of other recipes I have yet to try. So far? Totally worth the money I would have spent at Starbucks over the next month or so. If I ever went there.

What a Difference 3 Months Makes – with Pictures

Forgive me blog readers, it has been 3 weeks since my last confession – er I mean BLOG POST.

Even though I haven’t posted in a few weeks, things have been going very well. I find eating Paleo to be a no-brainer now. I eat yummy, delicious foods that even include bacon, butter, and sweet potato fries. Vegetables, meat, and pastured eggs are our mainstay. We are loving baby spinach and eat about 3-4 packages a week. We do not eat processed foods or refined sugar. Period.

We do eat homemade sweet treats in moderation, that use honey, maple syrup and dark chocolate instead of white sugar. I find Paleo sweets satisfying, without the addictive “crack like” quality that sweets that use wheat flour and white sugar. I make homemade ice cream that uses honey as a sweetener. We have it on the weekends as a treat, and a half cup is enough. A HALF CUP. You are talking about the person that could down a whole container of Ben and Jerry’s without blinking an eye!

So blah blah blah.. Words right? Well my parents came for Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend today, and they couldn’t believe how much weight I’d lost. They haven’t seen me since July when we went on vacation together. This is what I looked like back then:

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I HATE that picture. I was angry that even after counting points eating “healthy” I still looked like that! Well here is a picture I took today, just sitting here writing this blog post. I have no makeup on, and look like my au-naturale-Saturday self:

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My skin has NEVER looked that clear without makeup on. It still has a little redness, but before I wouldn’t take the garbage out with foundation on.

So there you have it. I’m not brave enough to post body pictures yet, but I am wearing jeans that I haven’t been able to wear in a long time. How much weight have I lost? I’m not sure. The last time I checked at 2 months it was just over 10 pounds. When it’s been a full 3 months I’ll weigh myself again. I do know that I’ve dropped 2 dress sizes. That’s good enough for me!

So you ask me if I miss bread and pasta? NOPE. Imma OFF the grain-wagon for good!

The Paleo 12 Commandments

With the Paleo 12 Commandments, here’s a guest post by Robb Wolf on Mark’s Daily Apple: Robb Wolf Answers Your Paleo Diet Questions. In addition to being awesome general information, it explains how total elimination is necessary (for at least one month) to determine whether or not you are intolerant to a certain food. Gavin and I eliminated all dairy for 1 month, and introduced some high quality cheeses. We are keeping full-fat feta, Parmesan reggiano, bocconcini and other good cheeses in our diets because they didn’t bother us. Yay!

I’d also like to throw in this article on the pitfalls of Paleo Perfectionism from Balanced Bites. This article takes the pressure off and allows you some wiggle room. You will eventually find your own way and perfection is not required!

I saw these tweeted on a slide from a Paleo conference last summer. It’s an excellent summary of the do’s and don’ts of Paleo. I don’t know the author. If you do, please let me know and I’ll credit them here!

1. You shall eat as much meat as you want. Eggs too!

2. You shall eat more fish and shellfish (OK if you’re kosher, don’t eat shellfish!).

3. You shall eat nothing made from grains (we know you won’t like this much).

4. You shall drink WATER, not liquid food!

5. You shall not eat table sugar, nor it’s equivalent, nor any substitute.

6. You will not eat, or drink dairy products.

7. You shall eat nuts, but not eat legumes or other seeds.

8. You may eat small quantities of sweet potatoes, potatoes, or other root vegetables.

9. You shall eat vegetables and fruit, but you shall eat far more vegetables than fruit.

10. You shall get your sleep.

11. You shall exercise at least 45 minutes at least 4 times per week and get your heart rate up.

12. You shall cook with butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, but not vegetable, peanut, or canola oil.

Week 7 and My Pants

This week I was sick. When I’m sick I crave gingerale and canned chicken noodle soup with soda crackers. Not exactly Paleo! However, I resisted and stuck with ice water and nuts. OK, so I had NyQuil. I know it’s NOT Paleo but it’s MEDICINE! Ahem.

Now that I’m feeling better, and my bursitis isn’t acting up, I’ve decided to introduce additional exercise into my routine. Lugging boxes every morning at the book store is a great workout, but doesn’t give me the cardiovascular exercise I’m looking for. I’ve found two “Turbo Aquafit” classes that fit nicely into my schedule. If that goes well and my bursitis doesn’t act up, I’ll add some treadmill in too. Baby steps.

The other bit of good news is that all of my summer capri pants are HUGE on me now and no longer fit. 2 weeks ago I was pumping gas at Costco in black capri pants, and my pants fell down. I’m not kidding. The guy in the truck behind me laughed so hard I swear he must have peed himself! Good thing I was wearing a long T-shirt!

I did my monthly weigh-in this morning . In the 7 weeks I’ve been eating Paleo, The scale says I’ve lost 9 pounds, which means my weight has been almost the same since the 3-week point. Normally this would discourage me, but my pants still fit back then! I guess it goes to show you it’s not all about the scale. I’ve really noticed the difference around my midsection.

On the recipe front, I’ve FINALLY found a delicious Paleo Pizza Crust recipe! I’ve tried many, and this one from Foody McBooty, is by far the best. She is not Paleo herself, but came up with the recipe after a challenge from a Paleo friend:

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My other awesome recipe discovery in the “treat” category for me, and the “essential” category for my husband, is this Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. You’ll have to look at the pics in the recipe, because my husband ate them all. He promises he won’t do it again. Yeah right.

Smell ya later, inflammation!

I have chronic bursitis in both of my hips. This is been a huge problem for me ever since I was in my 20′s. Once on a brisk evening walk, my hip suddenly gave out and I had to crawl home. I was 25 years old at the time. Ultrasound and electroacupuncture would only solve the problem temporarily. In my 30′s I started icing the sore spots on my hips twice a day so I could function in my daily busy life.

Another breakthrough happened about 3 years ago when my medically astute husband figured out that I had an undiagnosed sleep disorder. For all of my adult life, I would wake up with a start in the night because I “heard a noise”. I always figured that my husband didn’t hear these noises because he slept like a rock. The conversation went something like this:

Husband: You know those noises you hear at night? I have no doubt you’re hearing them, but I think you are the ONLY person hearing them.
Me: Uh huh. Great.
Husband: I think you have something called Exploding Head Syndrome.
Me: Oh. This just gets better and better.

I had already gone to a sleep clinic years ago, where I had THE BEST SLEEP OF MY LIFE. No sleep disorders were detected. We talked to our family doctor about my husband’s sleep disorder suspicions, and he agreed to prescribe medication to treat it. Basically my brain was firing off these sounds in the night, and clomipramine shut that down. Sweet, sweet sleep came immediately. No sleeping pills required! Within 6 months my bursitis was 75% better. Hallelujah! Really, it all made sense. What does it mean when you have interrupted sleep all of your adult life? Major health problems. Like inflammation. “Bursitis” is inflammation of the bursae.

Just after that, I started working at a major book/gift/toy store in the early morning. I wanted a part-time job to get me out from behind my computer, and I got it! Lifting heavy boxes, shelving books, merchandising their toy department. It is very physical, hard work and I would have NEVER been able to do it before my sleep disorder problem was solved. I still had to ice occasionally, especially during the holiday season, when Advil was my best friend. I certainly couldn’t manage any additional physical exercise!

In addition to my regular duties, the early morning staff now all unload the boxes delivered on huge skids. The past 2-3 weeks the deliveries have been massive, with more product coming in for fall and the upcoming holidays. I have been literally run off my feet. At the end of each shift, I’m physically exhausted.

Then came my lightbulb moment today:

I don’t hurt.

I haven’t been taking Advil.

I’ve been running my butt off. I should hurt, but I DO NOT.

One of the reasons I started eating Paleo was to reduce inflammation. I think it may be already working! Will keep you posted.

5 Weeks and Still Going Strong

When I was doing some initial research on eating Paleo, one piece of advice that really stood out was “Don’t focus on what you CAN’T eat, focus on what you CAN eat”. At the time I thought that was just a very positive way to look at a potentially grim way of eating, and OMG WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT POTATOES?!

Now that I’m close to 6 weeks in, I totally understand the depth of that advice. I don’t feel like I’m going *without* anything! I always feel full after meals, and it’s easy to pass on grains and processed foods. The food is outstanding, fresh, and satisfying. I’m no longer in a “same old” cooking rut.

My birthday is today. I had originally planned to have a “cheat day”, but I’m perfectly happy to stay 95% Paleo.. The 5% off will be the baked potato I’m having at The Keg tonight! :) My birthday cake is this easy Paleo-Friendly Strawberry Cream Pie. I’m looking forward to a generous slice with some dark chocolate drizzled over the top.

One of the new things I tried was Cauliflower Rice. OMG SO. GOOD. It’s pictured here with Cashew Chicken and Crock Pot Ribs leftovers :

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Our family already has two favourite Paleo cookies. I brought these to my daughter’s camp at our mid-point visiting day. She liked them so much, she wanted to keep some to eat at their movie night. Unfortunately I couldn’t leave any with her because they are made with almond flour (nut allergies). She ate gummy bears instead. No worries, she has them now at home! They are called Double Chocolate Cakies from Multiply Delicious:

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My husband’s favourite cookie is this Chocolate Coconut Macaroon from My Paleo Life. It is SO simple to make, and a little bit too good!

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Another big hit is this Non-Dairy French Vanilla Coffee Creamer from Against All Grain, made with coconut milk, almond milk, honey, maple syrup and vanilla bean. It smells amazing and makes having my daily decaf a real treat. My hubs who doesn’t even drink decaf? Now he has at least one a day with this creamer. He says it has good mouthfeel (which makes me giggle EVERY TIME). It keeps in the fridge for a week, but it’s gone way before then!

My best discovery over the past few weeks was the Julienne Peeler. It makes zucchini into delicious pasta-like strips. It allowed me to make this recipe Paleo, by simply replacing the pasta with finely julienned zucchini. Here is the result, and yes, it tastes as good as it looks:

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Until next week!

Almost Week 3 and HOLY SH*T GUYS!

Before I started this Paleo journey I was a very healthy eater. No junk food in the house (except the cookies for my cookie-monster husband), and we rarely ate out. I think I’ve cooked 80% of the Eat Shrink and Be Merry recipes, which are both delicious and nutritious. However, the weight stuck to me. Trying to lose weight has always been hard, but especially hard in the last 10 years. If I even wanted to lose a pound I had to WORK for it baby. My slim daughter who is an uber-athlete (getting her SECOND black belt in February and swims competitively) eats the food I eat, plus more for her caloric needs. Even Weight Watchers wasn’t doing it for me. I’ve heard: “You’re not eating enough.” “You’re eating too much.” “Exercise More.” Really, it didn’t make a difference.

So I read about both Paleo and Wheat Belly, and decided to try the Paleo lifestyle with my hubs.

Well, it’s been 2.5 weeks, and I’ve lost EIGHT pounds. EIGHT POUNDS! HOLY SH*T GUYS!

EIGHT POUNDS, and I can see it in my face already, and by the way my clothes fit. EIGHT POUNDS without counting calories, points, and feeling deprived. EIGHT POUNDS while eating well and having sweet Paleo Treats too. EIGHT POUNDS without increasing the moderate exercise I already get. EIGHT POUNDS without feeling hungry.

Now I’m not saying this is for everybody. Robb Wolf is the first person to say “try it for a month and see if it makes a difference”. Best advice I’ve ever taken. Clearly my body does not handle grains well. Buh-Bye grains. No bread or pasta is worth that kind of misery!

The food this week has been great too, with only ONE fail. I tried a recipe for Paleo Hamburger Buns. They looked all right, but crumbled when you tried to eat them with a burger. Plus I tried a turkey burger recipe, and you know what? I HATE TURKEY BURGERS. BRING ON THE BEEF! Yep, that night was pretty miserable.

However, the rest of the food was OUTSTANDING! Here’s a sample of the awesome food we had this past week:

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Soup)
Recipe From Against All Grain

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Paleo Apple Crisp
Recipe from Paleo Comfort Foods Book

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Grilled Steak and Spinach Salad with Warm Orange Bacon Dressing
Recipe from The Looneyspoons Collection Book

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Crock Pot Ribs and Sweet Potato Fries
Recipes from I Eat Mostly Meat and Nom Nom Paleo

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Crockpot Cashew Ginger Chicken with Noodles (Yellow Squash)
Recipe by Killermolemom (will post recipe soon!)

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Our Dessert of Choice: Mixed Berry Yonanas
With a little melted dark chocolate (85% cocoa) on top, PERFECT!

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The First Post: We’re ALL IN!

After our first 2 weeks of experimenting with Paleo cooking, Gavin and I have decided to fully commit. Even Morgana, who we visited at camp yesterday, is keenly interested to eat this way. We have always been “healthy eaters” in terms of the meals we ate. Lots of whole grains, healthy recipes, and rarely junk food in the house. Except the cookies. THE COOKIES. My super-slim husband used to put back about a bag of cookies per day (only a slight exaggeration). Damn his fast metabolism! My slim, athletic daughter is a healthy “grazer”, but does enjoy dessert when she can get it.

Healthy eating aside, we all have asthma. Gavin’s is more serious, but well controlled with medication after 20+ years of managing it. Plus he has seasonal allergies that are so severe he can barely leave the house outside of winter. We have an HRV and a HEPA Filter on our furnace, and our windows are always shut with the air conditioning on from April to September. I lost 40 pounds 4 years ago, but still have at least 50 to go. The remaining weight is stubborn and difficult lose at my pre-menopausal age. Plus I have aches and pains causes by bursitis, and my stomach sometimes hurts for “no reason”.

After 2 weeks of eating Paleo, I felt fantastic. My head felt “clear”, even though I thought it was clear before! I lost 4 pounds without ever feeling hungry. My husband lost TEN pounds of softness around his middle.

Is eating Paleo lots of work and organization? OH YES!!! You can’t just order out. Your meals need to be planned and prepped. No processed foods. No breakfast cereal. But we have decided it is worth it. Here is a sample of the foods we’ve been eating:

Butter Chicken (I substituted the milk and cream with coconut milk) with Roasted Cauliflower

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Raspberry Almond Muffins for Breakfast

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Herb-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Buttery Cauliflower – Don’t they look like mashed potatoes?

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Paleo Pad Thai – The “noodles” are yellow squash – a clever imposter

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Two more weeks to go of “Pure Paleo“. After that, we may add in dairy occasionally, but more on that in a future post.

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