Monthly Archives: June 2013

Book Review: I Know This Much is True

Yesterday I seriously felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest after I read this book. Finally!!!!

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The reason I picked up this 900 page monster was because of the author, Wally Lamb. I read two amazing books of his called She’s Come Undone and The Hour I First Believed.

She's Come Undone

The Hour I First Believed

You should read them, they’re good.

He’s an amazing author who has the ability to write so realistically it’s like you have stepped inside the narrator’s head. He also does a hefty amount of research regarding the topics in his books which results in simple, realistic details that make his books believable.

I’ll have a real problem with a book that’s not believable. It’s the main thing that makes me put a book down….like “This could never happen; this is stupid”. But this writer crafts every detail so meticulously and methodically that what results are realistic and emotional stories about individuals, and the ordinary (or extraordinary) circumstances that surround their lives.

Anyways- so I Know This Much is True……the book starts off with a startling turn of events in which the narrator and main character’s schizophrenic identical twin saws off his arm in a public library as an act of religious and political radicalism.

You’d think that was the climax, however Lamb then proceeds to take us on an emotional and personal journey with Dominick (the narrator) as he navigates the aftermath of his twin’s actions and deals with his own dramatic and problematic life.

Through flashbacks and climbing inside Dominick’s thoughts, Lamb weaves a tale of personal reflection as Dominick struggles to determine his true identity.

It really sounds like nothing special- like I said- a character going through ordinary (yet some dramatic twists and turns) life. But what makes this special, as mentioned before, is the writing. So realistic and meticulous.

That being said, it is 900 pages. So if you have a lot of time to kill and are on summer vacation like me, you should add it or another one of his books into your summer reading list. I highly suggest She’s Come Undone.

Have you ever read Wally Lamb’s books? What is your favorite? What should I read next???????

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Natural Protein Powder

When it comes to protein powder, I’ve been using a brand called designer whey for about a year now….it’s certainly tasty. But recently, after becoming more vigilant about what I put in my body, I decided it wasn’t the best.

 

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I’ve been trying to avoid dairy because of it’s potential hormone disrupting qualities, and designer whey also has sugar and some other sketchy type ingredients in it.

That’s when I got the bright idea to get hemp protein powder. I thought- this is good for me. Omega 3’s, no sugar, just hemp seeds.

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Buuuut it is DISGUSTING. I mean really nasty. I have to doctor it up with large amounts of cacao powder and peanut butter to make it tolerable.

I’ve just about decided to retire drinking protein shakes due to these unfortunate circumstances. They aren’t an example of real food.

I’ve toyed around with getting organic, grass fed whey but then I saw the price….

I know I should just give up protein shakes all together but they are so delicious!!!

 

Does anyone have any suggestions for a natural, organic dairy OR non-dairy, non-barf tasting protein powder you use (that won’t cost a fortune)?

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WIAW: Hello Summer

I don’t have to go to work for two months!!!!!!!!!! Baaaahahahahaaaaaa

Okay, I’ll stop bragging. I know you’re jealous. I would be too. Should have been a teacher!!

Yesterday’s eats were mostly devised in terms of thinking about how I could use my new stainless steel pans!! So excited I finally got them with some of the gift cards I got for my shower. Awesome!

 

I thought I’d share my eats yesterday via Jenn over at Peas and Crayons in WIAW!

 

My whole eating schedule has kind of changed and is out of whack due to the fact I’m sleeping in later and not going to the gym at 4:30 anymore. And there’s really no restriction on when I can eat so I’ve just been going with the flow (I know, I’ve got it tough).

Yesterday morning I got up and had a handful of almonds before heading over to the gym for a swim. Waaaaayyy more people in the pool than there are at 5:00 am. I might have to get up earlier if I want to continue swimming.

I was wrinkly when I got out and worked up quite an appetite. For ‘breakfast’ I sautéed some peppers, onion and garlic with some cumin and chili powder and ate it with two eggs and a sweet potato with coconut butter. Random but good.

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There really isn’t a word for the deliciousness of coconut butter with sweet potato.

This kept me full for awhile….it wasn’t until around 3 pm I was ready for a snack.

 

Granny Smith apple with almond and peanut butter.

Soon enough, after I went to pick my my share for the CSA, It was time to start dinner.

I used some leftover roast chicken to throw together a coconut chicken curry with peppers & onions over cauliflower rice.

curry

Looks gross, tastes good. I love curry.

Later in the night I whipped up my now favorite snack- carrot cake pudding a la PaleOMG.

 

I might go out on a limb and say this is my FAVORITE blog to pull recipes from. They always turn out delicious and I’ve used several of hers multiple times.

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Rustic Wedding Crafts

I really wish I have had more time for blogging….but the big day is keeping me pretty busy as of late. I am not a neat, creative and crafty person by nature…but then Pinterest came along. Every day I thank the lord that this doesn’t apply to me: Funny Confession Ecard: I had my wedding before I had Pinterest. I sound corny and cliché, but I am trying to create the ‘rustic country’ look for my wedding. I know, I know…unoriginal…leave me alone- it’s my wedding not yours. But I hope it will be cute….. Here is some stuff I’ve been working on.

Here’s what it looked like to begin with-  

chalkboard  chalkboard2 chalkboard4 

     

Another idea is the banner for the sweetheart table:   burlap-wedding-banner This tutorial was so easy!!! And that’s saying something…I usually mess things up.   It came out!!  I have yet to string it together so you have to wait to see the finished product. Another thing was the escort cards, which I’m not finished with yet. Here’s my inspiration:   source   To make the key tags look ‘vintage’,

escort cards

I brushed them with Olde English furniture polish until they get that faded look. Takes a couple of tries until you get the hang of it.   My mom (who has better handwriting than me) will write the guests’ names in calligraphy. I have fancy tack board things that I am attaching them to and setting up near the entrance of the venue.

These table numbers weren’t really inspired by anything, besides the chalkboard theme!   They were easy and inexpensive.

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Annnnd we’re still working on the centerpieces. More on that later. Thank you Pinterest!!!! What would I do without you….. I am going to go into a dark depression when I cannot pin wedding stuff anymore. Until August 2nd…I’m pinning away. What wedding crafts have you found on Pinterest??? Let me know what I can add!!!

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Grocery series part II: What to buy organic

In part I of my grocery series I talked about some of the groceries I regularly buy. I’m very conscious if what I put in my body, but I don’t buy everything organic, we’re on a budget! And organic doesn’t necessarily always mean better.

I prioritize when deciding what to buy organic. First are my non-negotiables:

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Ever since informing myself about industrial farming, I choose not to support the practice and buy meat from the grocery store. As said before, we buy grass fed meat and chicken from a farm whenever we can. Sometimes I buy the whole circle chicken from Tops when it’s on sale.

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We picked up this chicken today..it was KILLED TODAY! How’s that for fresh? Yes, we paid for the freshness too. But I just think about what I’m supporting and it’s alright. I don’t buy it that often. Like I said I settle for the natural raised at Tops a lot.

Organic or grass fed meat is pricey but in my eyes worth it. I’m not going to get into the disgusting-ness of industrial farming. If you’re interested the book Omnivore’s Dilemma is a good place to start. Besides, I save money other ways (more on that next in the series).

I also don’t really buy dairy for myself. I buy organic whole milk when it’s on sale or I have a coupon for Austin. I rarely get yogurt anymore since I follow a mostly Paleo diet. Everyone loves their Chobes…..but it can add up! Eggs are a must. I know $3.50 seems like a lot but I think about it like this: where else can you get four servings of protein for 3.50?

Next for the always organic is lettuce and greens like kale. They are easily contaminated.

Tier two includes fruits and veggies I may not regularly buy but try to get organic when I can

buy organic most of the time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I feel like it’s too much and/or they don’t have it available organic,I’ll make a decision. Either get the regular or just find a different recipe.

And that’s pretty much it. Anything else,including anything on the ‘clean 15’ list I get conventional. Unless it’s cheaper/the same amount. Whole 9 has a nice little list I like to follow.

As you can see I don’t buy a whole lot organic. There have been a number of conflicting studies regarding organic and whether or not it’s even better for you, so I don’t sweat it. And no I don’t need to spend 7.00 on organic toilet paper to wipe my behind with or organic shampoo or any of that mess. Priorities!! I know for a FACT though the practices that go on in order to produce industrial meat so I’m willing to prioritize the money. Next post I will talk about saving money on organic/local food.

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WIAW: First CSA Share

WIAW was so fun last week I decided to participate again! I am one excited foodie today. Yesterday started my local farm’s CSA share and I went to pick up the goodies right after school.

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In the mix:

Swiss chard (which I’ve had before and was NASTY…but I’m googling other ways to use it), lettuce and garlic scapes (not sure what these are…I’m assuming the tops of garlic.

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I also came home to an exciting package from my friend who works at a specialty olive oil store:

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Naturally I got right to work to incorporate the CSA share veggies and the olive oil into my dinner!

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Swiss Chard- like I said I’ve had it before when I just sautéed it with garlic and olive oil. It tasted like bitter dirt….ugh. For the salad I made last night I only wanted to use the stalks. So I cut them off and chopped them like celery.

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I’ll save the leaves for later in the week and hopefully they will be edible. Any suggestions?

The salad I made last night was scrumptious:

Baked mustard glazed chicken thighs over lettuce from the share, caramelized onions, the chard stalks, roasted sweet potatoes and avocado. I used the Chipotle olive oil for the sweet potatoes which gave it a nice kick!

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Other notable meals and obsessions this week:

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Ummmm don’t buy this if you don’t have the money to support the addiction. Many scoops with a spoon are regularly taken out throughout the day. OMGGG sooo good.

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Taco Lettuce Cups using butter lettuce

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It’s grillin’ season! Zucchinis! Yum

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Practical Paleo Salmon Cakes- they got the picky fiancé approval too! You should make them.

That’s all for this week!

What are your current food obsessions? Ever had coconut butter?

What was the best thing you ate/made this week?

Suggestions for the swiss chard leaves?

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What makes you cave?

I am probably going to be able to count the nice, perfect sunny days on one hand this summer (AUGUST 2nd BEING ONE OF THEM). So later today I will be taking advantage of the sun. This ‘live it up while you can’ attitude got me thinking about things in terms of food (of course).

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I (and probably many of you) have attempted “food challenges” or “diets”- whatever you want to call them, that tell you to eat a specified diet for so many days. When I try to do this I always start the week off great, aaaaand then the weekend comes.

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This happened when I was doing the Whole 30 challenge. I am so good all week and then the weekend comes and something will come up. In my head will be a constant battle between two forces.

“But you feel so great being good all week” ,“It’s really not that hard to just say  no” ,“Wine isn’t going anywhere…it will be around next month too”

VS.

“Why are you even doing this? You’re skinny enough”, “YOLO”, “How often do you get to see ______________, just get what you want”, “There’s no reason you can’t enjoy yourself”

Usually, the second set of voices wins. And I end up regretting it. Usually I get back on track the next day and everything is fine. But I do suffer physical effects of indulging like bloating, sick stomach and more cravings.

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Enjoying myself at Red Lobster ^^

It got me coming to the conclusion that social events and being social is the only thing that makes me ‘cave’. If it’s a Tuesday night and Austin is sitting next to me eating peanut butter fudge ice cream- I could care less. I will be perfectly content with my Carrot Cake Pudding. It’s not even an option to cheat. At all.

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Seriously, go make this^^

But if it’s a Friday night and some friends ask us to a bar, I’d really rather just enjoy myself instead of sitting cooped up on my couch by myself because I can’t drink or whatever. I’ve also had a lot of wedding related functions, and I find myself saying that I need to fully enjoy these moments and not obsess over food.

And I think I just have to come to terms with that, and not feel guilty. This is what works for me- staying super strict during the week in order to enjoy myself on weekends. In my mind it’s worth it. I’d rather enjoy myself then obsess, worry and stress over not eating/drinking this or that.  My question is this- what makes YOU cave- is it stress? Emotions? Just seeing the food? Or is it a social issue like mine?

That being said- I’ll probably be enjoying some cocktails on one of the only nice days we’ve had this summer!

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WIAW: Lately

Peas and Crayons

I really don’t usually participate in What I Ate Wednesday but I have ALL these food pics just sitting on my phone. I don’t have a day’s worth of eats, just some yummy stuff I’ve made lately that I thought was worth sharing.

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This meal was a throw together that ended up being SO good

Grilled zucchini with a runny egg smothered in avocado basil pesto and tomatoes. OMGG

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Yummy lunch last week- grass fed burger with grilled zucchini and rutabaga hash. Rutabaga is sautéed in coconut oil and mixed with shredded coconut.

 

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One dinner last week- slow cooker beef shanks with roasted broccoli. I LOVE roasting broccoli or cauliflower in the oven with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.

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Breakfast ( I guess I kind of went backwards) Saturday. Coconut rutabaga hash again with two drippy eggs. You have got to try rutabaga hash if you haven’t. Better than potatoes.

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Fancy stem less wine glasses I got for my shower made their first appearance Friday night!

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Delicious and colorful salad on Sunday with hard boiled egg, tomatoes, roasted/grilled peppers, banana peppers and scallions. YUM!

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And I’ll leave you with the picture of the cupcakes I made for my kids Monday. I held my ground and didn’t eat one but they were devoured in no time. Two more days of school left ! Happy yet a little sad.

Most of my food pictures look nasty, but trust me they tasted good. I always feel inadequate in the ‘great looking food’ dept when it comes to blogging.

Anyone else feel the same way? Food looks nasty but tastes good?!?!

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Grocery Series Part I: What’s in my cart?

    I’ve decided to do a short blog series regarding my grocery shopping and food purchasing habits for anyone interested. For anyone who’s notinterested….#sorrynotsorry.

 

 

This is what works for me…..remember everyone’s different. I want to start off by giving a glimpse into my typical grocery cart on Sundays. Now I say typical but I will put a disclaimer out that it was a lighter week in terms of thingspurchased.I still had some things left over from last week’s trip. Austin and I just went shopping Tuesday….I was pushed back a day from the previous week because of Memorial Day, so usually I would buy more than what’s here. Also, next week starts my CSA membership!!! But nonetheless I thought it would still be helpful.

The first stop was Aldi’s. Not the best for quality but it’s cheap! For those of you that don’t know…Aldi’s is a discount grocery store that sells off brands. Sometimes I get produce and snacks for Austin there but I don’t buy meat or dairy there.

Then I went to tops to pick up the rest.

Here’s the loot:

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Veggies and fruit:

Broccoli
Cauliflower
Squash/zucchini
Baby spinach
Peppers
Sweet potatoes
Plantains
Green apples

lemon
Carrots

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Organic milk: I don’t really use this, but Austin likes whole milk. Dairy is one if the things I TRY to buy organic when possible. But I don’t really eat that much dairy. More on that in the next segment on groceries!

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I am trying out this new spice blend for curries!

 

The brand of coconut milk I buy! No added sulfites

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Proteins:
Canned salmon…I’ve never tried this ! I am going to make Practical Paleo’s salmon cakes with it.

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It was cheaper than frozen salmon.
Chicken.. Tops had it on sale. No it’s not pastured but at least it’s antibiotic free. Vegetarian fed means nothing.

You may notice I’m lacking in other proteins…that’s because yesterday Austin and I took a drive out to the farm to pick up 10 lbs of grass fed ground beef. I also got pastured eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday. I already talked about eating local in a previous post…I’ll go into more detail in the next post of the series about organic.

Other:
Nuts- going to try and make almond milk, cashews for Austin to snack
Corn chips- NOT for me
Spices
Olives
Tomato sauce

So I spent $25 at Aldi’s and $30 at tops. Not too bad. But I spent $66 on the meat yesterday. That meat will prob last almost two months.

Normally I spend about $80 a week not including the meat. I’m not going to cut corners on what I put in my body. Normally I get more fruit, but I’m trying an experiment to see how I feel when cutting back on fruit. Can’t wait for the CSA next week!

There you have it! Next week: what to buy organic

What staples do you get every week? 

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Paleo Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Typing this I realize I forgot to take a picture of the finished product…

Usually it’s the opposite. I get a pic of the finished product but forget to take pictures along the way. I like a blog that has pictures of the various steps. I succeeded in that for this recipe but forgot to snap a pic of the muffins when they were finished. I guess you just have to trust me on this one!!! They were so moist and delicious and Austin just ate the last one. So unless I ask him to regurgitate it you don’t get a finished pic. Hopefully, I can fake you out into thinking these were mine.

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins Recipe

source- not mine

Did I trick you? No? Oh well. Trust me they were greeaaat! So make them.

I am super excited because I got to use something really exciting for the first time while making these. Drum roll please…….

KA

Kitchen Aid!!!! I got this at my shower Sunday. Technically I’m “not supposed to use this until we’re married”. Pshhhhhhhhh. Can’t wait. #sorrynotsorry

I was inspired to make these because my friend Jenna knows I will eat a banana up until they are way past normal brown status, and she threw some of these in my shower present. Can’t let them go to waste!!!!!!

Paleo Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 1 dozen

3 eggs

2-3 ripe and mushy bananas

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil. didn’t feel like melting it)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp of baking soda

 

Mix wet ingredients (bananas, eggs, maple syrup, oil) Then add the dry and mix (by hand or with your awesome Kitchen Aid like I did) until it becomes a batter. The batter will be thick. You can add more syrup or a little almond or coconut milk if it’s too thick.

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Thick batter^

Then add chocolate chips. I have been obsessed with these Enjoy Life chocolate chunks. Yeah- they’re not lasting long in my house. I may or may not be grabbing handfuls as I pass by the cabinet.

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I love this brand of chocolate. I like it more than regular chocolate. Never going back.

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I chopped them up and added them to the batter.

I baked the muffins at 350 for about 25 minutes.

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I even snapped an extremely terrible picture of them in the oven but forgot to do one at the end!!! Terrible blogger. I reaaaaaally have to get a better camera.

Does anyone want to give me suggestions for a starter camera for blogging? Seriously considering buying one. I don’t have a fortune to spend.

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