Monthly Archives: April 2014

Bacon isn’t bad. But is it good?

**First of all, excuse the research paper-ish, formal tone of this post. I actually did it as a project I’m working on in my classroom. I also thought it would make an interesting blog post (two birds with one stone…)! So read on to learn more about myths surrounding bacon!!

Bacon has to be one of the most hotly debatable foods out there.

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For most of mainstream society, bacon is an indulgence. A representation of gluttony. Pure fat.

Then came the Paleo diet and the “bacon” glorification. And the resulting back lash and criticism that coined Paleo as  the ‘bacon’ diet and gave critics a good argument against the Paleo diet. What kind of good diet touts eating copious amounts of bacon? That can’t be food for you…can it?

I think we need to reframe how we think about bacon. Is it good? Or bad? Let’s look at the facts.

1) Some people say that bacon is full of saturated fat.

Most people have been lead to believe this:

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Right? WRONG! Recent  (2010) studies have been proving that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) or CVD (cardiovascular disease).”

According to Chris Kresser,  this “puts the nail in the coffin” of the saturated fat= heart disease idea. This idea was the cause of the manufacturing of harmful products like margarine, and the push to use “healthier” oils like vegetable and canola oil. Eww. I feel embarrassed that I fell into that trap.

In Eat The Yolks, Liz Wolfe talks extensively about myths surrounding cholesterol and saturated fats and explains how “neither the cholesterol in our food nor the cholesterol in our blood causes heart disease, and when it comes to the cholesterol in our blood, remember it’s there for a reason. It’s a healing substance.” I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in debunking more food myths.

What does this have to do with bacon? Well, some may say that bacon is high in fat and that’s why it’s bad. WRONG! On to the next argument.

2) Bacon is bad because it contains nitrates/nitrites.

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I totally believed this to be true! It is nearly impossible to get nitrite/nitrate free bacon (unless you get it from a local farmer). What are nitrite and nitrates? They are additives used to preserve processed meat and to help them keep the color. BUT what many people do not know is that natural nitrites/nitrates occur in things like celery, beets, and even in your saliva! According to Chris Kresser,

“In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure. In other words, your spit contains far more nitrites than anything you could ever eat.”

I was shocked too! I wasn’t completely convinced that nitrates/nitrites are safe from this one article, but it does stand to reason if that’s what people are worried about, did they know that nitrates occur naturally in things like vegetables as well? In fact, I was talking with my farmer just last week about this issue and he even said that he was confused about why people wanted “nitrate” free bacon when the stuff they use to preserve it (like celery seed) contains natural nitrites!

It is quite confusing…therefore I’m not 100% sure what to think, however I don’t think we need to demonize bacon because of nitrites and nitrates. I think that what matters most brings me to my last point.

3) Quality matters

Pastured Pork

(source: make your own bacon!)

Animals are ALWAYS the most healthy when they are raised in a natural, evolutionary appropriate way. For this reason, even though research about nitrates is conflicting, and the saturated fat myth can be thrown out the window; I still cannot advocate copious amounts of processed, industrial bacon. I can’t advocate for processed, industrial anything really. But I honestly think that bacon naturally smoked and cured from pigs that have been treated humanely and given the opportunity to live their natural lifestyle is a healthy product.

I don’t think the stuff in the grocery store is a healthy product, but I don’t see a need to demonize it. It’s just like anything else. Bacon shouldn’t be looked down upon. It should be treated as any other neutral, potentially beneficial (especially pasture raised bacon) product. Just like a nice steak, or a heaping serving of mashed potatoes. It’s there. It’s delicious. It’s food. Eat it, but like anything else, don’t eat massive amounts of it every day! Variety in a diet, no matter what, is what matters. But QUALITY when it comes to meat is probably the most important factor to consider when it comes to whether or not that product is healthy.

I highly suggest you find a farmer that can get you this type of product Because….. life with out bacon is just sad.

 Have you heard about the nitrite/nitrate debate?

Why do you think bacon has such a stigma?

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Homesteading Update #2: Chickens!!!

If you follow me on Instagram you know that a couple of weeks ago we added some chickens to our homestead. We actually bought them from one of my students!

We brought home four hens and one rooster last week during vacation. Our property had an old (but very nice looking and complete) chicken coop and I am so thankful I took the time last fall to clean the whole thing out. All I had to do to prepare was to throw down some pine shavings, clean out the nesting boxes and buy a waterer and we were good to go. I don’t really know much about keeping chickens but I had done my fair share of reading on the internet. It’s another “learn as you go” project.

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We have a nice little enclosed area that they can go in and out of from the coop. When we are home we usually let them out of the fence and let them roam around. They always come back and night and never stray too far.

The rooster is feisty.  He will certainly let you have it when you try to mess with one of the hens. I have some black and blue marks on my shins to prove it.

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So all was good and fine for a couple of days, but in all reality we knew we needed more hens. The hens were getting harassed by the rooster because you are supposed to have a 1:10 ratio of roosters to hens. Plus we were only getting 1-2 eggs per day. No bueno, especially with my egg consumption.  We finally got a hold of somebody on Craigslist and planned on picking up 6 more hens.

About an hour before we picked them up, I was googling around and realized that you can’t “mix” two groups of grown chickens because they will fight and could possibly transmit diseases to one another. We were scrambling trying to figure out what to do. We had this super nice chicken coop made for up to about 15 hens but we couldn’t put the new ones in there yet! We ended up quickly constructing a “make shift” coop in our barn with some “nesting boxes”. We got this done in the hour before we left to go pick them up. I also made a homemade chicken waterer out of a pie pan and old coffee can. Now I’m mad I spent $24 on the first one!

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The makeshift coop. Homemade waterer in the corner.

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Chickens inside the “coop”.

So basically they just hang out in the barn with the pigs and we let them out when we’re home. The two groups haven’t “mixed” yet but I let both groups out this weekend and there was a minor squabble, so I ended that quickly.

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“New” chickens

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The girls taking a dust bath.

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These guys are getting big!!!

So, what’s the verdict on chickens? I love having the eggs! Considering I was spending up to $40 a month on cage free organic eggs, it’s great to have them fresh every  morning. Now with the 10 hens we are averaging 4-6 eggs per day but I’m sure it will increase in the summer.

The chickens are very high maintenance however. They are messy and you have to change their water every day (I do for the pigs too) and then I have to chase them and try to catch them if they wander too far away (talk about a workout). They poop EVERYWHERE. It’s just a pain in the butt right now since we have two chicken “coops” all the work that chickens require is basically being doubled right now (change two waterers, feed both groups, let both groups in and out, etc).

But I enjoy it. We already knew we’d be tied down with the pigs all summer so figured that we might as well get chickens while we’re at it. It’s a sacrifice I’m okay with. Besides I love being outside taking care of them.

Next up is plans for pastured meat chickens. I’ll let you know when and if we start on those!

The garden is also coming along great. I transplanted some of my tomatoes and peppers this weekend and dug up some more of my garden. They will be planted outside in about a month if everything goes okay. Our frost date is May 15. But I distinctly remember snow falling last May……so I will probably wait until memorial weekend.

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Also, we got a new toy!!!!

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This will be handy to have around this summer while getting work done around the “farm”. Can’t wait! I love four wheelers!

Hope your week goes great! Let me know any tips for chicken keeping in the comments!

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Cuban Picadillo and Well Fed 2

Happy Friday!!!! TGIF! (Here I am complaining and I even had Monday off!)

 

What?!?! You haven’t ordered the Primal Life Kit yet?? Are you crazy, there’s only three days left!!! You SERIOUSLY don’t want to miss out on this deal. I finally had some time to sift through the enormous amount of stuff that this bundle has in it, and it all was amazing!! I still need more time (this weekend) to look through more of it, but here are some great things I’ve found:

Chowstalker Community Cookbook 1st Edition cover

I’ve already mentioned the Chow stalker community cook book and the recipes I contributed (Hidden Liver Meatloaf and Butternut Squash Breakfast Bake). I went through the cookbook the other day and took FOREVER deciding what to make because there were so many yummy recipes. I settled on the Cuban Picadillo from Tessa at Tessa the Domestic Diva. Tessa specializes in allergy free recipes. This one was great! It was kind of like a spicy chili on top of mashed sweet potatoes. I made a few modifications such as:

-adding some ground liver (of course)

-adding hot sauce and cayenne (I like it spicy!!!)

-mashed carrots on the bottom instead of sweet potatoes <<<MUST TRY!!!

It was amazing. I’m actually eating the leftovers right now for dinner and it’s even better the second night!

Cuban Picadillo 2 

Cuban Picadillo 

Yum!

I also got a chance to look through Well Fed 2, which I have ALWAYS coveted since I am a fan of Melissa’s Blog The Clothes Make the Girl.

Oh.My.God. This book is worth the $39 alone!!!No. You don’t understand. This book is amazing. It’s not just recipes. It teaches you about food. It gives you ideas and teaches you how to cook. I don’t really know of any other cookbook out there like it.

Here’s a sampler if you don’t believe me. Here is just some of the amazing stuff in the book:

-stuff to put on eggs

-hundreds of combinations for ground meat including burgers, sausages and meatballs.

-a list of spices and recipes for spice combinations

-recipes for delicious homemade Paleo sauces

-suggestions for AIP and Whole 30 modifications

-substitutions and modifications to change up many of the recipes (Melissa’s famous ‘you know how you could do that?)

I’m just enamored with this book!!! The way she creates unique recipes with flavors that are so interesting and exotic is special. If you’re bored with your meals, this book will definitely give you some inspiration.

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(source: The Clothes Make the Girl)

I’m looking forward to making:

-Sun Butter and Jelly Burgers

-BBQ Beef Sweet Potato Waffle Sandwiches

-Coleslaw (already made it!)

-Deconstructed Gyros

-“Pizza” Veggies

The list goes on!!! The best part about Well Fed 2 is the inspiration and things that you can learn from the book that go further than just giving you recipes.

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(source: The Clothes make the Girl)

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So with that being said, you should DEFINITELY head on over to the Primal Life Kit page and support bloggers and purchase this kit! Sunday is the last day so get on it!!!

 
Buy Now!

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My Birthday and Easter Weekend Recap

I am so behind on blog posts but really wanted to get a recap of my Easter weekend up because it was definitely one amazing weekend as well as week break.

My body decided to go ahead and wake up every.single.morning. at 6:15 on vacation. What are ya gonna do? I guess it’s good for me since my internal clock won’t be messed up like it was last vacation.

So I woke up bright and early, did a yoga workout and was presented with this gift from my amazing hubby which I am so excited about:

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Yayyyy! Now I can make ALL the vegetables into pasta. I immediately made breakfast with it, which I was too excited to take a picture of.

Shortly after I got ANOTHER birthday present from the new additions to our little family:

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I’m so excited about these guys…er girls and one guy! The hens aren’t laying like they’re supposed to be but we’re hoping they’ll pick up soon. So far we’ve been getting about 2 eggs per day.

We then headed off to some nearby (within an hour drive) wineries on Keuka Lake in New York. It was fun to hit up a few wineries that I’ve never been to before.

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I loved the wineries but my favorite place was the one brewery we stopped at. Whoops. I guess I like beer better than wine. #sorrynotsorry

The best part had to be our dinner……We ate at Union Block Bistro in Hammondsport, NY. The brewery had spiked my appetite for some beer so that’s what I got:

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Vanilla Latte Coffee Stout…stout season is almost done people!

Our dinner was also epic. We started out with a sampler appetizer that came with deviled eggs, stuffed jalapeno poppers, toasts with tomato chutney, hummus with bread, and stuffed grape leaves. I think there was more but I forget…it was amazing. Then we shared the special which was an 8 oz sirloin steak with lobster, shrimp and a cream sauce. It came with truffle mashed potatoes and asparagus on the side. It was more than enough because we finished it off with a brownie/blondie sundae with chocolate gelato. OMG so good.  None if this was Paleo, if you were wondering. It’s my birthday.

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So good. The great weekend continued on Easter Sunday. We enjoyed the best weather that we’ve had awhile. I actually got a sun burn!!!!! We started out the day with some delicious Paleo Cinnamon Rolls. They were SO GOOD but included two sticks of butter…..so that’s probably why. For an appetizer while the ham cooked I made three types of deviled eggs: regular, truffle and hot sauce! And of course the mimosas with the raspberry champagne I bought on the wine tour:

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Yay I got to use our wedding champagne glasses!

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For dinner I cooked ham, sweet potato souffle from Gather, green bean casserole. My MIL cooked mashed potatoes and we had THREE types of pies for dessert. The chocolate pie from Against All Grain rocked my world. There was also cheesecake and coconut cream pie. I physically couldn’t move after dinner…..hence why I got a sunburn. I was sitting on the porch so long in my can’t move status that I turned red…

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That sweet potato soufflé…….to die for. It also has two sticks of butter so, that’s probably why!!!

Phew! This was a long recap, there’s nothing like writing a recap of fun times to make you realize how much fun it was and how blessed you are. I certainly am! Hope everyone’s having a good week getting back into the swing of things!

What was the best thing you ate this Easter?

Have you ever kept chickens? Tips appreciated!

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Support fellow bloggers by purchasing the Primal Life Kit!

I hope everyone had a great Easter..I am currently still recuperating and settling down after family left yesterday. Thank GOD that I still have today off……don’t hate me!!! Back to school tomorrow and roughly 10 weeks until the best vacation of all: SUMMER!

I just wanted to pop in today to let you know about an AWESOME Paleo bundle sale that I am so excited and plainly honored to be a part of. For all you Paleo, Primal, Whole Foods lovers out there- the Primal Life Kit launches today and ONLY goes until April 28th…you will not want to miss out on all the Paleo goodies in this ridiculous offer…….. $39 dollars for more than 49 amazing Paleo e-cookbooks, workout plans, meal plans, coupon codes, and online classes that is valued at almost $1500.

 

I know saying that it’s ‘valued’ at $1500 doesn’t really mean much, BUT as I scrolled through the list of offerings on this bundle, I would gladly pay $39 for one or two of these products. I will do a review of one or two in a couple of days but just scrolling through here are the ones I’m most excited about:

Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan 

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Her recipes are so unique and delicious. She has the best practical, simple ideas for the Paleo kitchen. This cookbook was on my list of things to get anyway….

Easy Paleo Gelatin Treats by Caitlin Weeks of Grass Fed Girl

Like I was literally JUST on her website contemplating buying this….

There’s also TWO Paleo challenges (1 month free of Paleo Bootcamp) and a 5 week nutrition challenge (OpeNutrition challenge), 20% of a year subscription to Paleo magazine, and a ton of coupons for awesome Paleo products. A book by Stephanie Ruper (who I declared I have a girl crush on) AND a quick start auto-immune guide by Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom.

ALSO one of the things I am the most excited about is the subscription to Liz Wolfe’s NEW online Cooking Club: Good Food for Bad Cooks. I love Liz Wolfe and am completely in awe of her sense of humor, homesteading skills, and knowledge about whole food. She recently launched her Good Food for Bad Cooks Cooking Club which is described as:

Good food for bad cooks online cooking & wellness community

-It’s like an online cookbook, with the benefit of brand new recipes added every week that are simple, easy, and perfect for self-described “bad cooks.”

-Shopping lists and meal planning functions too.

-Nutrition education, Q&A and information

-Printable guides

-”Nutrition information THAT MATTERS” – we’re looking at the nutrients different meals provide rather than the calories, grams of fat, carbs, etc. (ie “this recipe rich in: zinc, vitamin A, etc with links to what those nutrients do)
Just the membership to Liz’s site is enough to make me buy this bundle…..but WAIT…THERE’S MORE!!!!!

I am so excited to say that I am a contributing writer to one of the e-cookbooks featured: The Chowstalker Community Cookbook!

When Ron and Patty asked me to contribute to this book I was honored! Chowstalker is a great resource I use to get yummy Paleo recipes (think of it as the Paleo Pinterest!)

Chowstalker Community Cookbook 1st Edition cover

The Chowstalker Community Cookbook is…basically just what it sounds like! Primal and Paleo recipes from great Paleo bloggers around the web (like me!) I contributed two recipes; one from the blog and one original recipe just for the book: Hidden Offal Meatloaf.

 

Liver Meatloaf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll have to buy it to get it!  So in the cookbook you’ll find 130+ recipes by awesome bloggers as well as tips, bios of the authors and advice. I’m so excited to be a part of it! (The book WILL go on sale by itself after the Primal Life Kit…but why would you wait! Get it as part of the bundle NOW)

So I hope I didn’t sound too “sales-person-y”, but this is seriously a great deal and I would never promote something I didn’t think was awesome and would buy myself. And yes these are affiliate links. Your $39 does go to a great cause- to hard working, awesome real food and Paleo bloggers trying to make a living by spreading the real food love. I can’t think of a better way to support my fellow bloggers! The sale only lasts for a week so click here to learn more!!

 

 

Buy Now!

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How to relieve sports injuries using mobility training

This book review is LONG overdue. I bought Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr. Kelly Starrett last July. I was dealing with debilitating back injury mostly all of last year and I’m just coming around to being able to exercise again. I had heard of this book due to it circulating among the Paleo/Crossfit world and one day just went out on a limb and purchased it, thinking that it would solve all my back issue problems. 

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When I got the book, I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed. It was huge, heavy and looked like a textbook. I started reading and got even more confused. Torque? Internal rotation? Fault tests? I think I got in over my head. I read through the book last year, tried some of the exercises, and when my back wasn’t fixed, I put the book on the bookshelf and nearly forgot about it.

Fast forward to now. I’m at a point where I can strength train a couple of days, do some light cardio and throw in some yoga each week. But I find myself sometimes sore, and have nagging pain in my back as well the muscles in my legs at the end of the week.

This is normal right? We’re supposed to be “sore” and feel “beat up” and have muscle pain after working out, right? Well, not really. The problem is our society is too encouraging of the “no pain no gain” and “push through it” mentality. You should not ‘push through’ something if it hurts. Just no. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the ‘sore’ feeling you get after a workout. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. But unless it’s just a case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) it’s not really normal. Our society is so “task completion obsessed” as Starrett put it, we are continually pushing through pain that should have been dealt with months ago because of the “no pain no gain” mentality.

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Check out more on this awesome article

Starrett, in Supple Leopard compares current sports medicine practice to waiting until your engine blows up to get your car checked out, or a marine waiting until his gun jams up in battle before he realizes it needs to be fixed. We’re exercising, pushing ourselves, running, cross fitting, whatever, and then when our back/knee/shoulder starts to hurt we go see a doctor.

This is all backwards! Should we perform “maintenance” on ourselves just like we would a car so our muscles, joints and bones function properly? According to Starrett, when we exercise in a compromised position, like rounding our back when doing a dead lift we don’t feel the pain right away. Instead we go through cycles and cycles of poor position and muscle dysfunction until our bodies simply can’t handle it anymore and start hurting. This is what happened with my lower back. I was swinging a kettle bell improperly for the better part of a year. When you use poor form it’s like your body is “burning through [what should be a normal] cycle at an accelerated rate.” At some point, your body can’t do it anymore pain starts to materialize.

“You can sit all day your whole life until you can’t sit anymore,” he explains.

And just because your ‘knee’ hurts doesn’t exactly mean that it’s your knee that’s the problem. The problem is (most likely) in the mechanics of how you’re moving your body. According to Starret 98% of modern athletic injuries occur because of:

1. Over tension (missing range of motion)

2. Open-circuit faults (moving in a bad position)

Yes, it’s crazy but true (The other two percent is when you have something pathologically wrong with you, or you were in a catastrophic accident). You’d like to think you have some crazy thing going on with your body and that’s why you are in pain but most likely it is because your body has finally given out as a result of thousands and thousands of cycles of movements in poor form resulting in loss of range of motion.

This is exactly what the AMAZING doctor that performed ART (active release therapy) on me told me. He said I was missing range of motion so that’s why it hurt. What the heck does that mean??

Imagine a door that can’t be opened all the way. You keep opening the door every day and it hits up against a dresser or something that blocks its natural path. Soon enough, there will be a small dent in the door where it keeps hitting the dresser. It doesn’t happen right away, it happens over time. If the dresser wasn’t there in the first place (say, if you were using proper form) the dent (or the pain) would never be there.

Since the movement is painful your body just keeps on using the poor form, and it’s a huge cycle that just keeps repeating itself. When I got ART this released the muscles back to the proper form so the pain went away. Unfortunately, that doctor was 90 minutes drive away and not covered by insurance, so I just couldn’t keep seeing him. Enter: Supple Leopard.

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example of how to identify faults ^^

This book is designed and set up for you to identify faults in your movement (easy for me since I already knew what it was) and then gives you proper mobilizing techniques in order to improve your range of motion in the affected areas. Last year when I read it I was just so overwhelmed and confused I didn’t really know how to use the book. I thought it would “fix” me. But the key is I needed to be doing these mobilizations EVERY DAY. He literally says in the book you should not be taking ANY days off from the mobilization techniques. It’s that serious. Especially if you’re working out hard, strength training with heavy weights on your own without the guidance of a cross fit box.

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example of exercises^^

So why am I reviewing this book now? Because I seriously forgot how important mobility training was until…..lo and behold the OTHER side of my hips started to hurt last week after my gym sessions. I pulled out this book, identified where I was missing range of motion, and started to perform the exercises every day before my workout or in the morning if I wasn’t working out. I immediately saw an improvement.

I did the exercises for an hour and a half Monday. After that I vowed to start doing them regularly every day. And it’s hard! If you’re like me, you’re thinking “I barely have time to exercise, let along spend time on mobility”. But I’m thinking it actually might be MORE important than getting my exercise in, especially since I’m prone to injuries like this. There is no point of working out in poor form. It’s just counter productive. So I am incorporating 3-4 of these mobilizations in my workout and cutting down on the actual workouts. This post is getting really long so I think next post I will outline some of the exercises I do and give you a sample workout schedule.

I highly recommend if you’re strength training on your own to purchase this book. If you think stretching and mobility doesn’t matter, one day you will be sorely (pun intended) mistaken!

 Stretching and mobility: how much do you do?

What nagging injuries do you have and think could be helped by this book?

FYI Today is my birthday, so here’s my shameless request for some love!

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“PB” and J Waffle/Egg Sandwich

Do I seriously not know how to spell Sandwich?

Moving on.

I have an epic “recipe” to share with you. I’m not going to call it a recipe and type up a recipe card because it’s more of an idea than a recipe, but regardless, you need to try it. Now. I’ve eaten this two days in a row for lunch, for this reason I am linking up with Jen at Peas and Crayons for WIAW again after a brief hiatus. I just love seeing all the other bloggers’ eats! 

Peas and Crayons

I decided to make PaleOMG’s light and crispy vanilla waffles the other morning because I was craving waffles and every single thing I’ve ever made of Juli’s is absolutely the best thing I have ever eaten. Not even exaggerating, it’s my favorite recipe website. I actually made George Bryant’s banana bread and topped it with Juli’s cinnamon topping Sunday and it more or less changed my life. And the two of them have a cookbook coming out pretty soon, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to go ahead and order it. Really not sure why I haven’t yet. I’m dumb.  Just amazing, amazing recipes on both sites that I make repeatedly.

I had some waffles left over and obviously could not wait until the next morning so then I decided to put together this concoction for lunch:

 

Waffle Sandwhich

 

Yep, that’s a waffle sandwich. Because, why not?

I was always curious about the ‘peanut butter/jelly/egg’ combo from reading Sam’s Blog (she always puts it in her oatmeal). So this is what I did:

1) Take leftover waffles and spread sun butter (or your favorite nut butter- sun butter is the most “peanut butter-y flavor”) and your favorite natural, no sugar added jam.

Peanut butter and jelly waffles

I used homemade strawberry jam and sun butter.

2) Fry up some eggs to your liking

Orange Yolks

These gorgeous orange yolks are courtesy of our trip to a local farm Sunday. Mmmmm.

3) Place eggs in between waffles and admire this wonderful creation:

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I actually took mine apart and ate it open faced because the sandwich was a little too big for my mouth! So good….

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What are some of your creative waffle creations?

Eggs/peanut butter/jelly combo…yes or no?

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Homesteading updates

FINALLY sitting down to write this post after spending an hour catching up on blogs. Everyone posts on Mondays. What’s up with that?? Like, Saturday I wanted to waste some time browsing the internet and NO ONE posts on the weekends. Monday comes along and I actually have stuff to do= 50 billion blog posts to read. #thestruggle

I lied, I don’t really have anything to do today. Why? ‘Cause I’M ON VACATION AGAIN!!!!!! What’s that? You don’t have 5 weeks of vacation a year plus the whole summer off? Sorry about your luck. #suckstosuck

Okay, I’ll stop bragging. And using hash tags in a blog post. This weekend we had some really nice summer-like weather and it was truly a taste of summer. Can’t WAIT. Buuuut it’s supposed to snow tomorrow so, I’m not getting used to it.

We were able to get done a lot of stuff around the “homestead” and I’m so excited about it. Last year at this time we were living in a rental house in the middle of the city dreaming about farming and now we’re actually doing it. I am living out my dream of raising and growing my food and it’s awesome.

1) Piggies

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Excuse me sir but your butt is in the way of my dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They are getting so big!!! I was worried at first because they were very shell shocked and not eating, but that’s no longer the problem. All they do is eat! And sleep. And rub their butts on things to itch them. It’s cute. How will I eat them? They like leftover fruit. But they don’t eat their veggies!!! We talked to a local farmer about how we can do some rotational pasturing once we get them outside, so I’m excited about that.

2) Plants

After a minor setback involving my cat thinking sprouting plants seemed like a good snack, I’m back on track with my plants. Originally I planted peppers and tomatoes and I thought the peppers were a fail, until they started popping this week. It took them three weeks. The tomato plants were doing great until SOMEBODY decided to eat them.

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I ran out and bought more seeds- roma tomatoes and hot peppers and planted them.Then I had to design a highly complicated cat proof barrier in my sun room.

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I planted the “new” tomatoes last Monday and I’ve already got some sprouts. Peppers take longer so FYI if you try to germinate peppers be patient!!

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I wanted to get the bigger ones out of the little seed starters so I cleaned out some of those organic salad containers and poked holes in the bottom. They work great.

 

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3) Garden

So where are all these plants going? All year I knew I would have to have some way to dig my gardens. We don’t have a rototiller and I didn’t really want bother with raised beds and buying the soil. Just for kicks I put my shovel into the ground Friday because it’s been really wet, and it went right down. So I just kept digging. And this happened:

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Yup. I dug the whole plot. Talk about a workout! Then Sunday I dug another little plot. In a month or so I will layer it with more soil and compost and we’ll be good to go.

That’s all the homesteading updates I have for today! Riveting, I know, but I am wicked excited for the opportunity to live out my farming dream. P.S Thursday we are getting some laying chickens so stay tuned for more!!!!

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Have you planted any seeds yet?

Ever dug your own garden?

Do you mind homesteading updates on the blog or should I stick to food??

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The best classroom management strategy ever

This week, to ease student restlessness due to the upcoming vacation, us teachers planned and organized a tournament style volleyball tournament for the kids. It gives them something to look forward to, an outlet to blow off some steam…and let’s face it: No one’s focused enough to do work in study hall the day before break.

My team made a good run, and even though we lost, it was a good time.

As we were playing, I looked around at all of my students and above their heads were all the assignments some of them were missing. The failing grades some of them were receiving. And a wave of anxiety crept up. We shouldn’t be playing volleyball right now, I thought. These kids owe me assignments. They should be doing work.

 

 

Why did I decide to let it go? Because I decided that building a rapport with my students by playing volleyball with them was more important at that moment. Going into the end of the year, when everyone’s patience for each other has run short, classroom management becomes ever so important. If you have no rapport with your students, the end of the year (especially for 8th and 12th graders since they know they are going to be leaving the school and cannot be held responsible for their behavior to a degree) is going to be hell for everyone involved.

You see, throughout my short 5 years of teaching classroom management has always been something I’ve struggled with. Yes, I’ve read The First Days of School. Yes I have a classroom management plan that I stick to. Yes I give detentions, call parents, give rewards, give them pep talks. But honestly what I’ve discovered the SINGLE most powerful classroom management strategy is having a respectful, honest relationship with your students and creating an atmosphere of mutual respect.

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Playing a volleyball game with them is a way to build rapport. That’s why I was willing to let all that academic work slide for a couple of days. I NEED this rapport to carry me into the end of the year so I don’t go crazy. I work in a very small school, and by the end of the year everyone just starts getting restless. In order to combat that I need to continue fostering the respectful relationship I’ve been building all year.

I know I have WAY more to learn about classroom management and every year presents new struggles. Every school is different, but I truly believe if a student respects and likes you, classroom management won’t be an issue.

What are classroom management strategies you read about but don’t feel work?

What are the BEST strategies you use in your classroom?

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Homemade Granola Bars

Peanut butter and oats.

These are the only two foods that I REALLY miss after adopting a mostly Paleo/whole foods lifestyle.

Okay I lied. Beer and Ice cream are close behind, but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re not sure why peanut butter is not “paleo” (Whattt??? It’s a nut, isn’t it?), it’s because they are technically a legume and not a nut. Legumes contain anti-nutrients that bind to minerals and vitamins in our digestive tract instead of letting the body absorb them. How rude of them!

Regardless, I don’t think I’ll ever give it up completely! Sun-butter is a great substitute though! When I make these bars for my hubby I’ll use peanut butter, but you can use any nut butter you want. I make sure I get the natural peanut butter sans trans fats (I just wanted to rhyme there).

As far as oats….they have the same ‘anti-nutrient’ thing going on, but they also have benefits (such as fiber and carbs to fuel your day). I consider them kind of “neutral”. Many bloggers and mainstream health professionals hold them on a pedestal as a pinnacle of health, which I don’t agree with. They’re not the healthiest thing in the world but they’re not the worst either. So if you’d like to include oats in your diet one way or another and you’re not extremely sensitive to grains why not? Especially if you make sure you get the gluten free variety!

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The ability to use oats in recipes I find isn’t something I’m completely giving up yet! Especially making these crunchy, nutty granola bars as a snack in my husband’s lunch or a quick bite when I get home from school. With minimal ingredients you most likely have on hand, they are a great naturally sweetened alternative to the sugary, pointless ‘Chewy’ granola bars I used to consume with reckless abandon in the past. They have been a routine part of my Sunday food prep lately! Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Granola Bars
Yields 8
Crunchy, nutty, naturally sweetened perfect after school snack!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups certified gluten free oats
  2. 1/2 cup nut butter (such as natural peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc)
  3. 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  4. 2 tablespoons grass fed butter
  5. 2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 tablespoons crushed pecans (can sub any other nut, or omit! Feel free to add in other things like chocolate chips, dried fruit, or whatever you want here)
  8. Coconut oil or butter to grease pan
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease an 8X8 pan with coconut oil or butter
  2. Melt the nut butter and butter in a microwave safe dish
  3. In a large bowl, mix the oats, chia seeds and softened nut butter/butter
  4. Mix well until incorporated, and then add the honey/maple syrup
  5. Add any additional add ins (nuts, fruit, chocolate chips)
  6. Finally, add the egg and make sure everything is well mixed and wet
  7. Pour into a greased or a parchment lined 8X8 pan
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned on top
  9. Cut into 8 bars after they cool and enjoy as a snack!
Pencils and Pancakes http://pencilsandpancakes.com/
 I know hardcore Paleo people do not include oats and/or peanut butter as part of a healthy diet but part of eating well is figuring out what works for you. The addition of these two things in my diet doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on me, so I’ll eat them occasionally. It’s about finding what works for you! Sometimes I don’t like saying I eat “Paleo” because then there are certain expectations that go along with it. Paleo a framework for the way I eat and guides me to understanding which foods work the best for my body.

Granola Bars

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Oh how I wish beer was one of those foods that made me feel my best…..FYI, it’s not 🙁

Peanut butter/ oats? Yay or nay?

What foods do you miss the most if you eat Paleo/Whole foods?

 

 

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