Monthly Archives: June 2014

Why I don’t feel restricted on Paleo

The Paleo Diet. I HATE that phrase. I don’t like Paleo being called a diet. I don’t like when I see it splayed across magazines with a claim about weight loss. And I wasn’t thrilled about Dr. Oz touting it as a new weight loss diet.

Paleo is not a “diet”. For the record, I’m not on a diet. Diets are restrictive. Diets are temporary. I’ve been on a diet before. I meticulously tracked every calorie I ate and exercised for hours a day. Guess what?!? I lost weight! Duh. When you eat next to nothing and exercise all day and turn down plans to go out with your friends and ice cream with your husband you’ll lose weight. But along with the lost weight came anxiety, injuries, and overall miserable-ness.

When I started eating Paleo, not only did I physically feel better, but I finally had the mental freedom to stop obsessing over the calories I ate. When I undertook the Whole 30 in January, I finally stopped constantly obsessing over the number on the scale and the volume of food I eat. When you eat real food MOST of the time, there is no need to restrict, obsess and count.


There is a stigma about Paleo in the HLB community- just as there is starting to become a negative attitude about any diet. I agree whole-heartedly that extreme restriction is unhealthy and the diet mentality is harmful. I am with most people on that. Many people think that the Paleo diet is no good because it is restrictive- you can’t have grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol or processed foods. But I do not, ever feel restricted. Why?

1. I don’t restrict myself with whole foods.

Whole, nutrient dense foods make me feel good. It’s very easy to eat enough to be full and then stop. There are no unnatural sugar cravings, food with no breaks and hangry episodes. I am able to eat three large meals a day and a snack at night and not really think about when my next meal is.

2. I don’t miss grains, dairy, and especially processed foods.

I didn’t really drink much milk (unless it was in cereal), I tried oatmeal one time when I was craving it and it was bland and disgusting, and I don’t crave processed foods or fast food at all. I don’t buy them. They are not an option. Sorry, but I don’t crave McDonalds or Oreos. That’s not food to me. Bread? That’s not anything special. Who needs bread when I can have fried plantains or sweet potatoes?


Fried plantains= happiness

3. When I want to indulge, I do it.

Yes, I miss ice cream. So guess what? When I really have a craving….I get it. I am learning to do the same with alcohol. I used to try to go months and weeks without having a single drink so that when I finally allowed myself one I went overboard. Now I have a drink or two if I want one. This usually ends up being once or twice on the weekends. I find that when I allow myself to have something when I want it, I don’t obsess over it and over do it.


So this is how the Paleo diet works for me. Am I 100% Paleo 100% of the time?? No! Who is? Aliens??? I consider my lifestyle to be healthy. That’s why it upsets me when people bash is and say it’s way too restrictive and fosters unhealthy eating habits. I don’t agree. This lifestyle actually HELPED me emerge from unhealthy disordered eating habits.

Do you think it is too restrictive?

Do you think Paleo fosters disordered eating?


Homesteading Updates

Hi there! It’s been awhile since I updated you all on what’s been going on with all of the homesteading adventures. Things are coming along quite nicely, and it’s pretty much the reason I haven’t been blogging much in the past month….very busy with chickens, pigs, gardens and of course this guy always needs some attention as well..


Frank loves to help blog!

So, we ended up getting two groups of chickens, and finally integrated the two groups. They are doing just fine together. The rooster is fixing to become supper. He constantly attacks me; running at me at full speed when I’ve turned my back. I’ve learned to carry a stick/shovel whenever I am doing errands around him.




They love dust bathing under this tree. All in all I don’t mind having the egg chickens. We have ten chickens and average 4-7 eggs per day. I think they all don’t lay because they are getting old. It’s hard to tell which ones aren’t laying….unless I put a hidden camera in there or something…lol. Next year I think we will get some chicks so they are more efficient layers.

Speaking of chicks, in the next couple days we are set to get 35 meat chicks!!!! We built a Salatin style moveable chicken pen. Basically you put feed and water in the pen and move the pen every day so they have fresh forage. This is just the frame, but since then we have put chicken wire all around and aluminum on top. If you want to know more about it I suggest Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. I forgot to take an updated picture!


The pigs are doing well…getting fat. We built them a waterer that I read about online and it works awesome.







pigs2My garden is doing sooooo good. I read all last year about organic gardening and confused myself so much. I got so scared I had to do everything perfect….that’s not the case. I’m not the best gardener but if I can do it, believe me, anyone can.


Tomatoes…I planted way too close together! Woops!




First harvest of kale.

Soooo…now you see what’s been keeping me so busy this last month. It goes to show that you shouldn’t be scared to try something just because it’s hard. My husband and I had no idea how to do any of this stuff last year at this time….we basically rely on Google and a couple of good books. If you want to do something…..just go for it! You will learn as you go. If something scares you you should probably do it.

What new thing have you tried that you were initially scared of?

What are some of your biggest gardening problems and solutions?


Teaching Omnivore’s Dilemma

I spoke last year at this time how I was spreading the real food word in my classroom by teaching the YA version of Omnivore’s Dilemma. I got to do it again this year!!! I can’t even begin to express how exciting it is to me to come to work and teach my kids about Joel Salatin. It’s surreal, really (after 3 months of learning about the Holocaust it’s also a nice refresher).

Last year my school allowed me to get copies of the actual books (as opposed to copying just a few of the chapters like I did last year). Unlike last year, my kids were REALLY into the book and its message. They totally got into it and were absolutely repulsed by the realities of our current food system. They shared stories about their own families growing, raising or hunting their own food as I beamed with pride. They admitted to turning down fast food more than once during the unit, and I couldn’t help but smile.

The book is actually a NYS Common Core Module for 8th grade (which makes me SOOO happy) but I didn’t follow the module exactly how it’s played out (ain’t nobody got time for that). The integral message, objectives and standards of the modules still stuck, however, and the book presented students with four “food chains” to study.


Industrial Organic

Local Sustainable


In the end, they have to pick which food chain would best sustain America’s economy, environment, and the health of our people. Not an easy task! Each food chain has it’s pros and cons, however students had to analyze each one to determine if the pros outweighed the cons.

Teaching what is very near and dear to my heart was amazing fun. I used some work from the modules as well as some of my own ideas to make students excited. Some of my favorites are:

“Parody” advertisements for processed food.












Micheal Pollan would be proud










We also made flow chars illustrating the difference between the industrial food system and the local sustainable food system.




I love it!

We also watched Food Inc, a documentary on the industrial food system featuring the author Micheal Pollan and my idol, Joel Salatin. The students loved it and even though I was nervous about showing it because of some graphic images of animals on feed lots, there were no problems and I think it really enhanced their understanding of the book.


Lastly, students have to do a presentation on which food chain they feel would be the best for America. This hasn’t gone that smoothly….the software we are using has some issues and yesterday I felt like I wanted to pull my hair out. But…..we will get through it. Here are some of the presentations that have already been finished.

Industrial Organic Food Chain – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


Local Sustainable – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Local Food – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


I absolutely love teaching this topic! And it makes for a fun end of the year. I think the kids see that I am really passionate about it and they get into it. Plus I get to talk about my piggies and chickens and that amuses them!


Technology in the classroom can be a pain but I guess there are worse things…..

What do you think about learning about food in the English classroom?

Have you read Omnivore’s Dilemma?


Reflections on 2013-2014 School Year

I wanted to write about my reflections from this school year..more or less to nail down some concrete goals for myself. Often times I end up feeling like I’ve done everything wrong and I have so many things to fix. At the end of every year you just want to start all over again and “do it perfect next year”.  That’s one of the things I love about being a teacher! You always get to ‘start over’ the next year and get better!  I really need to start thinking about what specificially I want to improve on in my teaching, instead of feeling overwhelmed and inadaqute and just getting frustrated because I can’t do everything. I know I wil never be perfect and I will always be improving, but writing down goals is definitely helpful in order to give myself some direction.

If plan A didn't work. The alphabet has 25 more letters! Stay Cool

First, I know I need to work on curriculum. I need a solid curriculum that covers all the standards.  I need benchmark exams or assessments that asses certain standards and then track them for students throughout the year. I know there is no way I am going to hit ALL the standards, but I’d really like to nail down certain standards that go with certain activities, and then a clear assessment of those standards in order to track student progress. My school has a program called eDoctrina that can electornically monitor student progress towards specific standards that I can use for this. I can use the skill based rubrics I came up with last year. I don’t know why I didn’t use those more this year. They just kind of fell to the wayside once I became busy….

Life Moves Fast, typographic Poster Print. Size A3

If i am going to have definite units that include and teach certain skills, I need to develop assessments for those skills. Not saying we need to be testing all the time but (like I had intended) I should be using these skill based rubrics to grade most student classwork instead ofd doing a number grade or the check (+, -) system. If I grade using these rubrics, enter all of the rubrics into eDoctrina, and consistently track student progress towards these standards, I will have more accurate grading.

Another thing I have to work on is getting the kids to understand these standards and knowing where they fall with them. I need to really make sure I have the target statements more for the kids than myself also. Once I know the specific standards and everything that goes with the lessons then it will be easier to let the kids know, and they can be able to track their own progress.

Very True

As far as AIS, I really would like to nail down something concrete but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that feasable because of the current schedule. I can probably start out the year exactly like I did last year, using the reading workshop, and then focus the students in on the “sign posts”. I will have to look more at that book this summer and come up with a tentative plan for AIS. Again, I need measureable goals and standards that ME AND THE KIDS know about to work towards. Not sure if I’ll be able to get this situated by next year….but it is a goal.

Overall I think this year was good considering the whole module drama and trying to figure out my place with them. At first I was really resistant to the though of doing the modules but now I understand more about the goals of the modules and know how to work around them to get my students to reach the same goals.