Monthly Archives: January 2014

Inside Out and Back Again Final Projects

I’m sitting here this morning enjoying a leisurely breakfast thanks to the snow! Two hour delay for me! I initially become stressed when faced with snow days and delays because that means less time into an already packed schedule to get my kids ready for the NYS test in April. However there is nothing I can do about weather so I might as well just enjoy my free time. It means I finally get to blog about the amazing projects my kids did for the final unit for Inside out and Back Again!

This was a NYS module unit that I decided to try….although I have mixed feelings about teaching a scripted unit, I really did enjoy the book. The “script” provided a final project for the students in which they had to research refugees and create a ‘story’ of a refugee in poem form. I decided to give them more options than just the poem and let some of the technology my school is blessed to have help them with this task.


I included not only the poem option, but a collage, digital collage, and digital interview that the students recorded. Some of the students even made professional-like documentary videos pretending to ‘interview’ the refugee. I can’t include those on here because they show students’ faces 🙁 But overall I thought the students did a great job and I got some good work back. Here’s some of the best!

Attachment-1 image(1)  image(3) image image(5) image(4)image(2)


Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries

This weekend has been all about root vegetables. I am on the Whole 30 and technically you’re supposed to be filling your plate with green, leafy veggies…however Sunday is my grocery shopping day and Saturday it was slim pickings….. I had the choice of:

butternut squash,plantains, parsnips, carrots or sweet potato

Yummy, carby goodness! I’m not complaining……I don’t eat like that every day so I didn’t worry about getting in some extra carbs. I am always searching for new parsnip recipes!

I am obsessed with making spicy roasted carrot fries (also with pretty much roasting ANY vegetable)…and over the weekend I decided to make a duo of carrot/parsnip fries for a side with my grass fed burger. I wanted a different flavor profile for the parsnips. I feel like curry is a good match for parsnip recipes. Enter: curry powder. I got a great custom blend from an organic food store I visited last weekend and thought I’d try it out. Result: more delicious parsnip carby comfort.  Try em out!

Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries 2


Curry Roasted Parsnip Fries
Serves 2
Spicy, flavorful and filling- a great substitute for french fries!
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
  1. 4 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch long fries
  2. 2 tablespoons ghee, melted
  3. 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
  4. salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400
  2. Cut parsnips. I like to peel, chop in half and then make them into "fry" shapes of 3-4" long
  3. Place parsnips in a large bowl and pour ghee on top.
  4. Sprinkle curry powder, salt and pepper on the parsnips and mix together
  5. Place the parsnips on a large, foil-lined baking sheet making sure to space them so they don't overlap
  6. Bake for about 15-17 minutes on one side, mix them around and bake another 15-17 minutes until crisp and golden brown
Pencils and Pancakes

Blogging Tips for Beginners

Welcome to the new Pencils and Pancakes! Today I am sharing some blogging tips for beginners…like me! I am so excited to share with you guys the new design for Pencils and Pancakes… has been a long time coming! I went from to self-hosted about a month ago and waited until I found an affordable designer that fit my needs to design my new site. This was what I really wanted when going self hosted and I’m so glad I finally did!


The site is done by Kate over at Elevenses Designs … if you are looking for an affordable designer who also does an awesome job I highly recommend her. Kate basically kept me in the loop every step of the way. Her email responses were almost instantaneous…. and she never went ahead with the project unless I was 100% happy with everything…which I am! She worked hard to make sure I got exactly what I wanted.

paleoCheck out my new “paleo” section

I never thought in a million years I’d be running my own website…however here I am. I love blogging, the people I’ve connected with through blogging, the entire community and every opportunity that it’s created for me. I still consider myself technology challenged. I won’t lie- going to self-hosted has been a challenge! I still have SO much to learn about everything. I am seriously behind on so many things. Blogging has proven to become a full time job on the weekend and my husband is a saint for putting up with my long computer hours!


That being said…I am LITERALLY at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to knowledge about this whole running a website thing…and I wanted to share some blogging tips for beginners that have been a great help to me. If you’re not on self-hosted yet but thinking about it, check out these resources. I’m not saying it’s all a walk in the park, but if I can do it I’m gonna go ahead and say anyone can.

The SITS girls <<GREAT blogging website

WP Beginner <videos, tutorials….the original post that I used to move myself over. They also offer a free blog transfer. I was too paranoid about it…it just seemed too good to be true. I ended up just doing it myself.

Moving from WordPress to self hosted by Mangoes and Miles << she put it in “normal people” language

Launch a Self-Hosted Blog in 8 minutes << Instead of paying WordPress $100 to switch over, or hire someone to do it, I literally used this video to transfer from to .org

Blogging Resources by The Lean Green Bean

150+ Food Blogging Tips

Hope that these resources help if you’re considering the switch, or just looking for ways to grow your blog. I OBVIOUSLY am not an expert, but what I’ve found helpful are articles that are in “normal people” language……and not some crazy technology jargon.

Happy Blogging!

What are your favorite blogging resources?

What is your favorite thing about being self hosted?

What are the best plug-ins to have??? Still need tips!


3 Phase Paleo: Review

****UPDATE**** The Paleo Parents are sponsoring a GIVEAWAY for one reader to win the 3 Phase Paleo book featured in this post!!! All you have to do is:

1) Leave a comment on the blog telling me why/how you’d use the book

2) “Like” The Paleo Parents’ Facebook Page (Leave a comment telling me you did)

3) Subscribe to the Paleo Parents’ Newsletter (Leave another comment telling me you did)

You have to do all three to be able to win! I will announce the winner in my first blog post next week (Monday). Good Luck!!


I am thrilled to be able to read and review The Paleo Parent’s new e-book 3 Phase Paleo.. I’ve been following Stacy and Matt on Instagram, Facebook and I also listen to her podcast weekly and am a big fan. When I heard about the e-book 3 Phase PaleoI thought it was a great idea, because so many people I try to tell about Paleo say “I could never give up all that.” It just seems like a lot for someone eating the SAD to just cold turkey give up grains, alcohol, sugar AND dairy. The 3 phase approach helps a newbie easily transition. It’s kind of an innovative approach to the Paleo lifestyle. But in all honesty doing SOMETHING is always better than doing nothing, right?


Three Phases from 3 Phase Paleo by Paleo Parents

Step 1: Remove gluten, processed foods and refined sugar foods

Step 2: Gradually eliminate grains, dairy, legumes and processed oils

Step 3: Try introducing healing foods like bone broth and organ meats


I like this approach because when someone who eats a SAD (standard American diet) sees you cooking up your sardines with lard, or frying up some turkey livers, naturally they will be scared off. But when you give people options to transition in without feeling like they need to be “perfect” to do it right. I think the thing that frustrates me the most when I try to pitch the Paleo lifestyle to people (no it’s not a diet) is that it seems like if you’re not perfect, there’s no point in doing it. That’s not true at all. You can make small changes gradually and still make a difference. For instance, I’ve been doing this for about a year and just recently have started becoming curious about organ meat. I also have not cut everything out at once. Transitioning to this type of lifestyle is a process, not something that happens over night, and I think Stacy and Matt have now made this process seem practical, less elusive, and do-able since it is now written down on paper. They even include handy guides on different ingredient swaps, similar to the 21 Day Sugar Detox, product recommendations and Nut-Free and Egg-Free recipes.

The only qualm I had with the book is it seems like A LOT of the recipes included bacon (duh- these are the Beyond Bacon people…they’re pork experts). Not that I don’t love bacon, but in my area it is hard to find nitrite & hormone free bacon and when I do find it it isn’t cheap. Plus pastured, hormone free or not, it’s not the greatest to be loading up on bacon 24/7 in my opinion. And I feel like Paleo gets a lot of crap for being  the “bacon” diet. So I don’t want to contribute to that false perception.

Not that I’m doubting all the recipes that include bacon would be absolutely delicious- it’s just that I can’t afford bacon that’s worth it and if you omit the bacon in many of the recipes I’m assuming they wouldn’t be as good (obviously).

Bacon woes aside, this book is highly recommended for ANYONE trying to dip their toes into the Paleo lifestyle. If it scares you, this book may be the place to start. You don’t have to do everything at once! Anything that will convince people that living and eating this way is WORTH it I am a total fan of!

The recipe that I made last night from the book DID have bacon! I couldn’t resist. I found some Whole 30 compliant bacon at a local organic food store and decided to use it. Although the recipe calls for beef bacon I used plain ‘ol pork. It was yummy! We had it for dinner last night but I could easily see it making a great brunch recipe.

bacon casserole 3 phase paleo




bacon casserole

 Disclaimer: If you choose to purchase the e-book through one of my affiliate links, I do receive a portion of the sales. The e-book was provided to me free of charge, however all opinions and recommendations are my own.

What do you think the most challenging thing about eating Paleo would be? (or is)


Mashed rutabaga and butternut squash

rutabaga and squash

Another yummy alternative to mashed potatoes. I don’t think white potatoes are the devil or anything, they’re just boring. And compared to other starches they’re just lacking in nutrients and flavor. So I’ll pass on them. But in case you were curious there’s really nothing wrong in my book with eating white potatoes if you’re not particularly looking to lose weight or you don’t load them up with butter and salt! White potatoes: basically as hotly debated as abortion in the Paleo world.

I like experimenting with different root vegetables and mixtures and like I said before there really isn’t any root veggie you can’t mash. I love all root veggies because I love all carbs. Many people think eating Paleo means low carb which is completely false. I love my carbs, and I feel better including things like plantains, sweet poatoes, rutabaga and parsnips in my diet. See, there’s a whole carb filled world out there besides potatoes and bagels.

butternut squash and rutabaga

Rutabaga has 21g of carbs per 1 cup and gives you a nice dose of vitamin C, potassium and manganese. Butternut squash is loaded with beta carotene and vitamin C as well. So take that white potatoes!

I’ll stop talking now and give you the recipe:

Mashed Rutabaga and Butternut Squash
Serves 2
a delicious and healthy alternative to mashed potatoes
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 1 and 1/2 cups of peeled, diced butternut squash*
  2. 2 cups of peeled, diced rutabaga*
  3. 1 tablespoon ghee
  4. 2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk
  5. 1 clove garlic
  6. 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. After you've peeled and chopped the vegetables, place them in a pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil on the stove, covered, and cook until softened, roughly 10-12 minutes.
  3. Drain the vegetables, and place in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Blend together and serve! Makes a nice dinner side dish
  1. Roughly 1/2 of a small butternut squash and 1/3 of a large rutabaga.
Pencils and Pancakes

Paleo on a budget

I’m sure hundreds of other bloggers and people have written on how to do Paleo on a budget before…but whenever I Google Paleo on a budget I can’t find much that I don’t do! So I figure I must have enough experience in the topic to offer my own two-cents.

When you switch to a whole foods diet, inevitably your grocery bill will go up. It’s something you just have to accept. If you can spend $100+ on a cable bill you can spend at least that a week on groceries to keep you healthy. That’s my view on it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t maximize your budget to get the healthiest food possible within your budget. The cheap-ness in me comes out and I get creative when I try to save money at the grocery store. I already wrote a bit about what things I buy organic, so prioritizing that helps me. However here are a few new tips:


1. Buy the cheap cuts of grass fed/organic/pastured meat. Meat is really something I have stopped buying at the grocery store, unless there is the antibiotic/hormone free kind which in my area is a rarity. I can be really obvious here and tell you one way to save money is to buy a 1/2 of a cow (duh). Which I did. But when we call our farmer for meat, I usually get ground beef because it’s the cheapest. Shanks (above), neck and soup bones are even cheaper so I’ll get some of those and pressure cook/slow cook them until they’re tender. I even called a farmer the other day and asked about liver and organ meat. Eeek! I’ve never had it but I’m ready to jump on the offal bandwagon. Not only is is cheap because nobody wants it, it’s super good for you.

2. Get creative with your scraps. Don’t throw away your broccoli stalks! Little things like this seem like not that big of a deal but I shred the stalks and make broccoli hash. Also, the ends of celery, carrots and onions I save and throw in the pressure cooker or slow cooker with soup bones to make bone broth. I ALWAYS save the bones if I make a roast for bone broth.

3.Homemade EVERYTHING. I try to do homemade things like condiments and bone broth. When you’re committed to eating whole foods you pretty much have to make things home made because of the preservatives in everything. It’s cheaper too! I always do home made salsa. I am now trying to delve into homemade beauty and cleaning products. Like I said, any way I can save money is cool with me.



4.Plan, plan, plan. I brainstorm on the weekends and plan out every.single.meal for the week. I know exactly what I need and I go into the grocery store with my list and stick to it. This means at the end of the week my fridge and pantry are practically empty. I never waste food. I get extremely agitated when food is wasted. I have a plan for each and everything in the fridge and my husband will attest to the fact that I might have a break down if he eats something that was planned for another time. I joked last week at the end of the week if the apocalypse came and we had to rely on the food we had I’d be screwed because at the end of the week there was literally nothing left.

I ate all that in a week!!!!

Obviously there are more obvious tips like only buy the Dirty Dozen for organic (I already covered that) and to shop seasonally, locally, and utilize coupons. However, I wanted to offer some suggestions for new ideas. Like I said before however, if you are truly committed to health you have to accept that fact you will be spending a little more on food. I don’t mind it! I am willing to cut corners elsewhere.

And I’m not just saying this to be cliche, literally ever since I started eating healthy the amount of money I spend on doctors and medicines has been obliterated. I used to be in and out of doctors’ offices, own stock in NyQuil, and had a list of prescriptions. I can’t believe I am actually typing this out because I feel it will jinx me, however I DID NOT GET SICK FOR THE ENTIRETY OF 2013. Yes, you read that right. I literally used to get sick when I walked into a room with someone who had a cold.

So you will be spending a bit more on food, but isn’t it worth it?

What things do you do to save money yet still get quality ingredients?




Thinking out Loud: Fitness Edition


WOW. It’s been AWHILE since I talked anything fitness wise on here. Like more than a year. Mainly because right before I started blogging about food and fitness I started having problems with my back. It’s a year later, and I’ve learned A LOT about recovery, when to rest, treat my body better, and adapt to change.

I don’t want to get into the whole story of my back, but basically last year (or in 2012) I hurt it because I was simply pushing myself to the limits and thought nothing of it. I had this idea in my head if I didn’t work out for a day I would gain weight. I had no experience and I just got workouts off Pinterest and blogs (there’s a disclaimer for a reason!!).

Now I know that’s ridiculous, and that your body literally NEEDS rest in order to recover properly and have all systems in order. I literally ran myself into the ground with intense workouts and have been picking up the pieces and learning how to exercise more responsibly for the past year.

So that’s the long story short. But anyways, I was just thinking after my workout Monday that it’s literally been more than a year since I felt absolutely amazing after working out and had no pain in my back. I almost teared up in the car on the way home. I am used to feeling pain and tightness in my left SI joint after workouts, and it normally intensifies sitting in the car. So always when I’m driving home from a workout it’s the worst. But Monday (and most days recently) I have had absolutely no pain. It’s almost a miracle to me after almost two years of 5+ doctors, an embarrassing amount of money. In the past year I haven’t felt good about my workouts. So it’s a huge breakthrough. I’ve really learned what works for me- and that’s not pushing myself with HIIT, running, and working out 6 days a week.


healthy helper blog    

So what have I been doing? Well, after successful Prolotherapy treatments with my back, the doctor told me I needed to see a physical therapist or personal trainer to complete a supervised core strengthening program. I sprang and got a personal trainer. Yes, it’s not cheap, but to me it’s worth it. So I’ve been working out with him once a week and doing a program he designed for me in the gym. It’s mostly isolated muscle group weight lifting, against everything I’ve been told works. But surprisingly, I love it! I love lifting and building up towards a goal. I just have to be careful not to push myself too far and I think it’s been so far so good. Here’s what a typical week might look like :

Monday- Weight room

Tuesday- Swim (or rest day)

Wednesday- Personal Training

Thursday- Weight Room

Friday- Rest Day

Saturday- Rest Day or Yoga

Sunday- Rest Day or Yoga

I have been incorporating Yoga on the weekends and am LOVING it. In the past Yoga was just something I tried to do because I knew it was good for me but never really liked it because I felt it didn’t give me  a “work out”. I signed up for the 21 Day Challenge at Yoga Journal and have been getting daily videos. So even though I don’t do it every day on the weekend I pick one to do. This weekend I did a video each day and it made a HUGE difference. I hardly had to stretch Monday! And my back felt so good!


Anyway, this week I am definitely Thinking Out Loud, as many of you probably didn’t even know or care that I was struggling with this issue. I feel so happy to finally be at a place where I don’t feel limited. And I don’t feel like I need to push myself like I was anymore. If you have any more questions about prolo therapy for joint pain relief let me know in the comments, I didn’t really want to get into it in this post.

What kind of workout schedule do you find works for you?

Please give me some good yoga websites and resources if you have any!




Rx Bar Review

I have another great Paleo, grain free, refined sugar free snack options to share with you!

If you haven’t already heard of RxBars, you should go to their site to check them out. It is a grain free, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, everything artificial- free protein/meal replacement bar.


“RxBars are handmade with a passion devoted to ensuring the highest standards of quality.  There are no misleading filler ingredients in our bars — only natural, quality ingredients that provide functional nutrition and satisfy hunger.

Each bar contains no more than 8 ingredients, all of which conform to the standards of the Paleo Diet”

They are all made of REAL, natural ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about artificial sugars and whey protein like most protein bars. Like I’ve said I used to eat protein bars, shakes and all sorts of snacks but not after I took a glance at the ingredients list. I also used to eat a lot of protein shakes with whey protein but in all reality I’d really rather just eat real food.

These bars are great when you need something whole and natural but are in a pinch, as I was when I was out shopping the other day……satisfied my hunger without a trip to the mall food court! Excellent. They taste AMAZING!! They send me four kinds: chocolate coconut, coffee cacao, apple cinnamon and blueberry. I thought I would love the coffee one, but it wasn’t my favorite. The chocolate coconut one hit it out of the park. I’m loving coconut anything lately. The apple cinnamon was a close second. I just the taste of figs, which these bars use as figs AND dates (which are in Lara bars). Not that Larabars aren’t awesome, cause they are. But the taste of figs make these bars stand out from the crowd. It was great for when I was in a pinch and needed something yummy without running to the drive through!


And that’s exactly what I would use these bars for. When I need something quality in an emergency. Unfortunately, I experienced quite a sugar crash about 30-40 minutes after eating the thing. Even though the figs and dates are natural sugars, sugar is sugar. And it affects my body negatively, as I have found out. It didn’t help that I ate the Rx Bar on THE day after my 21 Day Sugar Detox was over. So that may have had something to do with it.

All in all, I would buy these bars again because I like that they have quality ingredients, and I need things for when I’m traveling and want to stay eating clean. However, I probably wouldn’t eat them on a regular basis because of the high amount of sugar and the caloric content (about 250-300 calories per bar). They taste amazing though, I highly suggest you try them if you’re looking for a whole food option for on the go!

OH! I almost forgot- another great thing about these bars is they have this cool little re-sealable packaging! So even though they contain a lot of calories, you can eat half and put the rest back. How many times have you opened a Larabar and said “I’ll only eat half”. Yeaaaa right! These great little packages make it so easy! I actually used it the other day and ate half of one after my workout for two days in a row.

What are you favorite snacks for when you’re traveling?

Do you eat protein bars?


5 processed foods that aren’t really food at all

I’m pretty sick of watching TV and seeing commercials for the sugar-laden, man made, hyper-processed food that passes as “health food” these days. These things are not food. Normally I just ignore it but lately this crap has been getting to me. A rule of thumb I like to use, to quote Micheal Pollan, you should not eat any food that has a commercial! The more you look at these things as “not food” the easier it will be to avoid them. One of the first steps I took when I started eating a whole foods diet and ditching processed food was to just ignore things like white bread and think of them as “not food”. It took me almost a year to phase out almost all processed foods from my diet. When you dismiss them as inedible it’s easier to say no. That’s not to say I never eat ANYTHING processed, but it ticks me off that these things are promoted as health products.

1. Jiff Whipped Peanut Butter:

Whipped Creamy Peanut Butter


When I  looked at the ingredients list the second thing mentioned was SUGAR. Yup. Spread some sugar on your sugar (fruit, crackers, bread, etc). I could probably eat that whole container in one sitting. Which further proves its unfood-ness.

2. Special K Cereal


You know those commercials where the women are triumphantly fending off donuts and cupcakes because they had their “healthy” breakfast of protein cereal. How about some eggs?

3. Activia Yogurt


Give me a break….So sick of Jamie Lee Curtis slinging this sad excuse for a pro biotic supplement. Not to say pro biotics aren’t good, but I don’t suggest you take them in an vessel of sugar, dyes and stabilizers. Eat some raw sauerkraut or Kombucha. And this misses the whole point. I think it takes a little more than a yogurt every day to get your gut in check. If you’re eating processed food that increases gut permeability anyway, no yogurt in the whole can save you.

4.Jimmy Dean Delights

This one touts the fact that you can eat a whole breakfast sausage sandwich for under 300 calories. Why would you want your breakfast under 300 calories??? That’s insane. Things like this cause the out of control sugar cravings and energy spikes that plague the average American eater.

Not to mention when I clicked over to view the nutritional info I literally had to scroll down MULTIPLE TIMES to read the whole list. Again….eggs anyone?

5. Laughing Cow Cheese

Laughing Cow Exposed


I am guilty of buying these when I first started out trying to eat “healthy”! They are tempting. Each square is 30-50 calories. But if it is low cal and low fat….what else is in it? The answer is scary.

Laughing Cow Exposed 1


Ew! It’s not food! It’s a hyper processed cheese- like spreadable substance.

Currently I am embarking on a Whole 30 and am on Day 11. The Whole 30 isn’t about losing weight or staying thin. When you eat you should really be examining if the food you’re about to put in your mouth will benefit and nourish your body or have a negative effect. When you optimize the food you eat, your body will thank you.

P.S I’m not meaning to offend you if you eat these “foods”. I just feel like we need to be honest about processed foods- it’s not health food. If you choose to eat these types of foods, it’s important to understand that you aren’t making yourself any healthier!

What processed foods have you given up to make room for more nourishing foods?

Do you still eat processed foods even though there are questionable ingredients?




Planboard: Digital planning tool for teachers

The other day at work I set out to find a solution to the current time consuming way I plan lessons. I’ve worked at many different schools and sometimes I have been required to write and submit lesson plans and sometimes it is not required. When I worked at a school that required it for two years I just got into the habit. I know it is time consuming and many veteran teachers scoff at it, but I feel like writing out my lesson plans traditionally (like it was required to in college) helps me know the end goal of the lesson. I’m always the type of person who likes to plan things out. So even though my current school doesn’t require it, I still do it.

For the past three years my method has been this:

1. Type up the lesson plan on a format that my former school gave us. Print it out and give it to my co-teachers.


2. Name the lesson plan Unit: #1 (sequential number for each lesson).

3. Go over to my notebook planner and label the calendar for each lesson (Ex: On a certain date, write “Anne Frank #4”)

4. Place the lesson and all materials for the lesson in order in a large binder labeled with the year.


Exhausting. And easy to get behind on. So that’s why I needed an easier way. It took me awhile because sometimes I get so ingrained in habits it’s hard to try something new. But I’m glad I did! I found this website and app, Planboard, that I can use and combines all the things I have been doing into one.

You can type up the lesson and add common core standards automatically. This was a pain in the butt before, I was actually copying and pasting the standards from a PDF that the state gave us.

You can look through the database of common core standards, or add your own.


This puts each lesson you type up on the specified day. Eliminating my need to go between my binder and my lesson plan book. ALSO you can print all the lessons at once, or you can email them. So this means I can email them to my co-teachers without having to print and hunt them down. Awesome.


Glad I could share this tool with my fellow teachers. It takes a minute of playing around with it to figure it out but I promise it’s well worth it. Oh….did I mention it’s FREE. That’s the best thing. Because through my searching the other day I found many of these tools and this was the only one that was free.

Does your school require you to do lesson plans?

Any cool digital planning tools I should know about?