6

It starts next Monday!  LENT and our adventures with our first Whole30.

If you are unsure of what a Whole30 is, I'll explain, but you can read LOTS more here at wpid-IMG_20140225_093916_387.jpgthe Whole30 Website!  This program was started by the folks over at Whole9 - Dallas and Melissa Hartwig - authors of It Starts With Food.

Melissa and Doug started the Whol30 program back in April of 2009  as a way for 30 days to strip all food groups (sugars, grains, dairy, legumes) that have a negative impact on our health without us necessarily being aware of such.  I learned about this program when I became introduced to the Paleo Diet and read their book- which I must say is a book I highly recommend as it really explains the reality of these foods and how they affect our bodies in pretty basic and understandable terms for the layman.   As you may be aware, our family is Orthodox Christian....so as we have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet and seeing the differences it is making within us, I have been grappling with what on earth to do when Lent comes around....  It is Orthodox Tradition to abstain from all animal products during the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week - the week before Pascha (Easter).  I struggled with this until speaking with our priest.  He set me straight in realizing that our health comes before the standard rules of the fast....and there is certainly more to the fast and preparation for Pascha than abstaining from meat.  So for this year at least, we have his blessing to follow the Whole30 for an extended period of time in lieu of the typical fast.  Of course, doing this during Lent is all the more reason to STICK to it and not even THINK about straying from the plan!

So .....  What does it entail?

For the 6 weeks of Lent and Holy Week (an extra week) we will be avoiding the following foods that will help our bodies regain a healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation and discover how much these foods may be impacting our health...and determining which we might still want to keep in our diet as a daily, weekly, monthly routine or NOT AT ALL.....

  • no sugar of any kind..... no artificial either (of course, we don't do this anyway) - no sugar includes honey, stevia, maple syrup, etc.
  • no alcohol
  • no grains
  • no legumes (this includes beans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc and all forms of soy) - the only exception is that green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are allowed if you desire as while they ARE technically a legume, they are more 'pod' than 'bean' and green plant manner is generally healthy.
  • No dairy (well at least that's SOMETHING that's part of our normal Lenten fast)
  • No white potatoes (or red or purple or gold....you get the point...- sweets are allowed!)
  • No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites (This is a no brainer for us...we avoid the MSG and sulfites completely anyway and usually swerve from carrageenan - frankly I'm surprised that's all they list...  there's so many hidden ways of hiding MSG...most people wouldn't know this...)
  • No desserts or junk foods even if made with "approved" ingredients...in other words, avoid replicating junk food for the 30 days -   I'm still making my son his birthday cake for his birthday...  it may be gluten-free - and my husband and I won't eat it but my boys can...
  • No stepping on the scale or taking body measurements during the program - this is to help you realize it's not about weight loss (though lots of participants experience it)- it's about focusing on health and lifelong benefits...

So what shall we eat?

3 meals a day - each containing a protein ( Ruminants- a.k.a. beef, buffalo, lamb, elk, venison, etc.. - Poultry, Pork, Eggs, Seafood and yes, even processed meats IF they are organic or 100% grass fed with no added sugars or sulfites, nitrites, MSG, etc.), LOTS of vegetables, and a healthy fat.

We are allowed fruit in moderation with our meals.

We are not supposed to snack between meals if we can at all help it.... they say if you get hungry between meals it's because you didn't have enough protein or healthy fat with your meals to tie you over.

We are allowed Ghee - which is clarified butter as it does not contain the milk proteins found in non-clarified butter which could impact the results of the program.

We are allowed limited amounts of fruit juice as a sweetener within a recipe.  LIMITED

We are allowed vinegar as long as it doesn't contain added sugar or malt vinegar as that usually contains gluten.

I've started my meal planning.  I've used our favorites from these great cookbooks!

wpid-IMG_20140225_094438_851.jpg

 

I've bought some 100% Paleo snacks to have on for my husband's work meals and to have on hand for those 'just in case' moments.  My husband works 12 hour schedules and can not always sit down to a meal....so we've planned.  He'll take things like salads that contain a serving of protein and a healthy fat (avocado or guacamole, salad dressing made with olive oil, or a handful of healthy nuts).  But he'll also have Lara Bars that are paleo (not all are...we have to read labels!), RxBars, and Chomps Snack Sticks to have in his locker at work JUST IN CASE he forgets to take his food with him!  So at least if he doesn't get a meal in, it's at least REAL food he's eating and doesn't have to starve or give in to a food that's not allowed.

I'll have those things in my purse too in case we get stuck somewhere unexpectantly - traffic or something.

My son is 15 - and while he wants to support us in our decision - especially Dad as it may help him lose some weight - and has an understanding that it really is healthier,  he's not thrilled as you may imagine.  We are making some exceptions for him and our toddler.  They will not be limited in snacking - but it will be Paleo foods only.  They will be allowed all the fruit they want for snacks as long as they are eating protein and healthy fats too.  I've also consented to allowing my teenager gluten-free pancakes 1x a week.... on SATURDAY....NOT a school day.  I really want to see if eliminating added sugars from his school days might make a difference in his attention and focus with school stuff.  And if he's at a friend's place.... he doesn't have to follow the Whole30 strictly.  That shouldn't happen too often so we should still be able to see a difference in the school week.

During the last two weeks, we will be adding the foods from the 'Not Allowed" list to try them out and see if and how they affect us.... one food for 3 meals for one day every three days....   in this order :   dairy, grains, wheat, legumes

So That's the plan....  It starts next Monday - so maybe I'll post weekly to let you know how it's going along with our menu plan and maybe a couple of recipes.

WISH US LUCK!  🙂  We are exited.....but a teensy bit scared too!

8

Resolutions.....because that's what we are supposed to do, right?  haha...

Actually, I think resolutions are a good thing.  It's goal planning.  As long as the goals are REASONABLE... then writing them down to look at and remind yourself of what your goals are once in a while really will help you attain them.  And I thought if I write them all here then I just might hold myself even more accountable - cause you might wonder how I'm doing with them...

There's a lot.  Because I do a lot of things and feel I should have goals in all parts of my life...not just one or two.  Plus I think if I have a lot of goals there's more chance of me attaining at least a few of them!!  haha...

So here goes:

  1.   Stick to the Paleo Diet at least 93% of the time for at least 3 more months... I really want to give it a good shot - without causing too much stress of doing it 100% but really giving it our best and for a few more months to really watch longer term effects.
  2.  Exercise, on average, 3 times a week.  (I know if I put more here, I'll fail.... and if I feel I fail it makes it that much harder for me to start again.  3 is reasonable.)
  3. Add Evening Prayers to my Prayer Routine... we do pretty well with Morning Prayers- at least on school days and prayers at supper time. I need to do more than that.
  4. Read at least 3 books that are of Orthodox content over the course of the year - I should probably start out by finishing the ones on my Goodreads Currently Reading List!!  So maybe I should put 4 on that resolution list...finish the three and add one more...
  5. Read at LEAST 12 Newberry Medal books... this shouldn't be that hard if I set my mind to it...after all they do all fall under the genre of children's literature...it's not like I'm reading novels the size off War and Peace!!!
  6. Read the following:   2014 Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (cover to cover--- well, not every single publisher/agent listing but in the past I never got around to reading the articles and this time that's what I started with!),  A Family of Readers: A book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature,  and Honey For a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. The last two are supposed to be really good sources about the world of children's literature.  I've already started both.  Gladys Hunt has another book out on Teen literature and one on women's literature.  Both look equally appealing...I'll probably give in a grab the teen book soon as I have a teen....and will be planning another book list for next year's homeschooling sometime this spring.
  7. Watch my Charlotte Mason Videos(by the end of MARCH).  I bought them last year at the CHAP convention (convention held by the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania).  Simply Charlotte Mason had a booth there and I bought the All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar and The Books & Things Seminar.  I've watched most of the first one.  It's packed full of information presented by Sonya Shafer. My husband also bought me another book on Charlotte Mason - I want to read that one too but I'll give myself longer on that one... by the end of the year!
  8. Research for a Preschool Curriculum/materials and make a decision by the end of APRIL....at least have it narrowed down in time for the CHAP convention in May. He's already doing preschool type stuff..... knows how to count to 20 without help, higher with help and recognizes all the digits 1-10.... knows the alphabet (lower case and upper case) and most sounds, recognizes at least 22 words by sight, knows colors, basic shapes, etc.... so preschool may not be what I want.... by something Charlotte Mason style with lots of books.... and fun activities.
  9. Break 3 bad habits.... sorry that's too personal...not sharing those...just that I have them and think it's important to pick a few to work on diligently.  I'll know what they are...and who knows...maybe my family will figure them out by the end of the year too 🙂
  10.  Maintain my Gratitude Journal...  I restarted one about a year and  a half ago or so after reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts... I've been better at writing in it but I'm only to #465....  I hope to get to 1000 by the end of the year if not way before that!
  11. Maintain this blog!  I've been going strong for over a couple of months now...keep following me and give me comments-- it will encourage me!! 😉
  12. Keep writing!!!  I hope to pursue some publishers soon with a couple of the manuscripts I have finished...they still need some revision first.  And I'd like to try to pop out a few more... at least picture books.  That's the goal.  I do have two middle grade manuscripts I've written that could be revised and I started a YA several years ago...I'm not sure if I want to return to that yet or not.  I think I'll stick with the PBs... that seems to be where my passion is right now.
  13. Set more time aside for ME -   whether it be for reading, writing, or working on crafts I've ignored for years-- but time to do what I want to do and not just things for other people.  I know that goes hand in hand with a lot of the above goals but I feel a separate goal to do that will help assure I work on it.
  14. Spend more quality time with my children and my husband.  I want to actually schedule the time to make sure it happens.  Too often our date nights get pushed to the side because we simply forget to schedule it and too often I decide to watch a TV show because I'm tired rather than playing a game with my older son.  And too often I don't sit down to just play with my toddler because I worry too much about other things that need done.
  15. Work on coming up with EASY and QUICK paleo meals that will help me make sure I have time to do all of the above!  My new cookbooks I got for Christmas should help me accomplish that soon!

Okay.... that's 15....  that should keep me busy!!!

So what are YOUR New Year's Resolutions?  I'd love to read them!

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2

So I've been browsing the dashboard area, trying to figure out this blog thing.  I came to a section called 'stats'... so I take a look.  It seems that one day I had 27 views, 18 visitors.   ??   So what does that mean?  I had 18 people look at my blog one day and out of those 19 they viewed 27 of my posts?  That's my best guess.  Let me know if anyone reads this and can tell me if I'm right or clear it up for me.

I'm still trying to figure out how to put links on here.  I read other blogs and they have highlighted words right within the text.  You click on the word and it takes you to another post or to a website that is about that topic or selling that product.  The other day I wrote about Well Fed, and excellent cookbook for people following the Paleo Diet.  I was trying to put a link in so that if you clicked on the words Well Fed it would take you to the Amazon link to read more about it and buy the book if one cared to do so.  Well, whatever I did was successful in getting the word to highlight but did not take one to the link.  It did, however, show up in my blogroll.  I didn't even know I could do that at the time.  The whole blogroll thing is a mystery to me too! LOL  And yet I have several things there.

I guess what I need is a WordPress Tutor...or a class.  I have a WordPress for Dummies book but I have so little time.  I tried looking up adding links in there but got confused!  (Go ahead, laugh... if I heard someone got confused reading a .....for Dummies book, I'd laugh too.)  But I had no idea how many topics under links there would be.  There are categories, thumbnails, relationships, permalinks, etc.  No where does it say :  Do this so your word will highlight and people can see where they can buy that book on Amazon.  Haha....

Oh, well.... I suppose I'm just too tired to read and think clearly tonight.

I'm still working on figuring out how to incorporate more writing time into the schedule.  I am working on making up monthly meal plans and trying to pick one day a week to cook meats, etc. ahead of time so that I have less  daily meal prep time.  This seems to be helping a little.  I have some extra things in the freezer.... already cooked chicken, 2 batches of spaghetti sauce and I already have the meat cooked and the veggies cut up for tomorrow's meal which should make tomorrow's prep time easy peasy....    I think if I can get a better handle on kitchen time, it will free up more time for me to work on writing and just take a big stress factor away from me.  Anyway...  the thoughts are up in my head...  I just need to form a better organized plan with all of them.

Well.... feeling drowsy...   more than usual... wondering if my splurge with pasta yesterday is a factor.  It was probably the first gluten or wheat I've had in awhile.  I'm not sure if it could be related to that or is just a coincendence...  hmmmmm...

Well Goodnight!  Let's see if I can really get upstairs and make it an early bedtime....  I always seem to get distracted when I try that little trick!

4

I know that name sounds really weird... but it didn't taste like a bowl of chocolate. It tasted like chili--- epic chili according to my teenage son. So I thought I'd share. The recipe was out of Well Fed, my favorite Paleo cookbook so far. I only have two, of course, other than the ones I downloaded onto my kindle which were free. But I rarely use my kindle. Really, anymore I just put the free stuff on it which I may or may not ever get around to looking at.

So here's the recipe:

2 Tblsp. Coconut oil
2 onions
4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. oregeno
2 tblsp. chili powder
2 tblsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tblsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (14.5) oz. fire roasted tomatoes (I actually used 2 cans)
1 can (14.5) oz beef broth (I used homemade - not sure what beef broth that's not homemade would be considered paleo??)
1 cup water

Fry onions in oil till transluscent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, stir 30 seconds then add meat, crumbling and mixing to combine. Cook meat until no longer pink.

In seperate bowl, crush oregeno with palms to release flavor. Add chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Combine together and then add to pot, stirring well. Add tomato paste and stir till well combined.

Add tomatoes with juice, broth and water. Stir well. Bring to boil then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours! Simmering allows the flavors to blend and release.

Next time I am definitely making at least a double if not triple batch so I can freeze it.

This recipe was taken from WELL FED by Melissa Joulwan. She has just come out with a WELL FED 2 which I am putting on my Christmas list!

Now, if only I could figure out how to put a link on here for her.... as the rest of the cookbook is just as devine and anyone who wants to try out Paleo recipes really should get it! 🙂

 

3

It has been forever since I have written here. So this may be long, seeing as a certain little man is not here to interrupt, nor are the other men in my life, nor my daughter.... I have taken advantage of my husband and son being away at a conference to ask our dear sweet neighbor to take my little one for several hours today so that I could have some 'me' time. And what I miss the most about 'me' time is being able to just read or write uninterrupted. I catch a little reading time here and there, so at this moment I'm going to make a cup of tea and WRITE. It's not enough time to start any fiction writing.... but I can at least start catching up here.

So..... Where to begin??

HOMESCHOOL

My daughter is not here this year. She is at IUP doing incredibly well. I am really proud of her. She seems to be adjusting well and enjoying college life for the most part. I am happy with that she still texts and calls home sometimes though sometimes I feel horribly guilty for not being able to talk to her the way I'd like when she calls because, unfortunately, life goes on here at home....

My son has started his 9th grade year, his first year of high school here at home. He is having a hard time adjusting to all the reading required and balancing that between scouts, hunting, and all the things he likes to do (distractions) through the day but still doing very well. We've made some adjustments. I will be reading his history lessons to him for awhile and verbally doing the questions with him to help save time in the day and my husband downloaded his biology onto his Audible account ( I got the account for my husband for his birthday and he LOVES it.... has been 'reading' a lot!) so that he can listen to it as he reads, enabling him to go faster. He's a good reader as far as comprehension goes, but is a bit slow. So hopefully, these two adaptations will help shorten his school days.

My smallest is too young for official school. He's only 3 1/2 but is incredibly smart. I have been investigating the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for him. We spend LOTS of time reading. He knows his alphabet (has known it since before age 2) and a lot of sounds and about 7 'sight' words. He can count to over 50, including one to one correspondance, and has an incredible imagination. (I just wish it would turn off at 7 when bedtime arrives!)
I'm having fun with him.... just wish I had more time in the day to give him more attention.

FOOD

Food is a big part of our lives. Really, it's not about food but about HEALTH.
We gave up artificial ingredients a long time ago.... things like MSG (total poison), artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, etc. We moved closer to more whole foods and more natural ingredients. Though the more I studied the more I realized that even a lot of those things we were trying to convince ourselves were natural, just weren't. So lately, my husband and I (and kids much to their dismay) have been getting further and further away from those processed, so called 'natural' food items...even the organic ones and coming closer and closer to real food... truly what God created. Most of what we eat falls under the Paleo diet plan, which isn't really a diet but a way of life. Some call it Primal. Whatever one calls it, it gets one away from the grains that causes inflamation leading to so much horrible disease (probably if you are reading this and suffer from anything thats not 100% health, grains play a really big factor in that whether you realize it or not). I admit, I started looking into it because of my hairdresser. (strange that I've even started seeing a hairdresser that I actually talk to.... still a bit of an introvert here) But she and I started talking about her lifestyle and I thought...hmmm... wonder if this would work for my DH to lose weight? So I started reading..... and reading... and wow, read some more. So the first books she recommended was The Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf and the Omni Diet by Tana Amen. I don't know if I'd recommend Robb Wolfs book to anyone.... he came off as rather super sarcastic and I'm not sure that if I wasn't really really super interested by the things I heard and read about Paleo eating that I would have kept up with it. I wasn't really offended by Mr. Wolf's writing, but could imagine that others might be.... Anyway, the book was very informative if you could get past his higher than mighty attitude. I really liked the Omini Diet book. It was very informative as well. But then I stumbled upon IT STARTS WITH FOOD by the creaters of the Whole9 website, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.
WOW. Great book. I'm sure to read it again and again. It's a wonderful book and program that has truly cured many many many people from all sorts of illnesses, including diabetes, bipolar and immune disorders and so many others. And I want to do the Whole30 program... just not yet. It may drive my son bonkers. Anyway, the food plan addresses the importance of really good animal protein, stressing to strive towards as organic as possible and understanding that some people can't so explaining what to eat if one can't get the best quality meat sources. The Whole30 program also addresses what to do if you are vegan though they state outright that they don't feel one can achieve total health if vegan. But they were not cocky about it at all. So we are eating a lot of meat, lots and lots of veggies, a little fruit and avoiding grains and most legumes. We are not there 100%. I still have quite a few perogies out there in the freezer and I am not willing, at least at this point, to make life any more difficult for friends and family that like to feed us. We already have to ask these people to cook without artificial stuff that actually causes us allergic reactions now... I can't further complicate and say, Oh, by the way, we won't eat your bread, your rice, your lasagne, your...... yeah, you get it, right? So we are eating it a little here and there... a couple times a month in smaller quanitities, to make sure if we can, that we can tolerate small portions without getting sick. At least that's the plan.

The results? Well, we've done this for about 6 weeks. My DH has lost, last checked, about 16 pounds or more 🙂 and is feeling a lot better! I've lost about 6.... I don't really care if I lose... I just don't want to gain anymore. But I feel really good. I have energy! I have started exercising again and actually have the energy to do it. I'm sleeping better. I feel less achy. There's no swelling in places I was starting to feel some, like my fingers, etc. I could go on but this is pretty long already. I'll save it for another day when I update this again... hopefully it will be a LOT sooner!!!

By the way.... this is not another LOW CARB DIET!!!!! I can't stand when people count calories, carbs, fat, etc. It's not about that!!! It's about eating good quality food that gives the body nutrients and doesn't cause inflamation or other problems. We don't count carbs. We don't care what vegetables we eat or stay away from fruit. While we try not to make white potatoes a staple anymore and know that berries are the better fruit, we will not say no to those things or worry about counting the carbs if we do. We eat a large variety of vegetables! I tried parsnipst the other day....mashed... we prefer mashed cauliflower...but hey, they weren't bad.

Anyway, enough about that for now... other than if this continues working, and I highly suspect it will, I have no idea what to do about fasting and Great Lent!!!!

FAITH

In Eastern Orthodoxy, we fast from animal products for the entire duration of LENT. This means most of our protein comes from legumes! Which is one major thing we avoid now.... hmmmmm..... well, we are not there yet. The Fast is not supposed to center so much on the food as growing spirtiually so maybe our Spiritual Father will give us some guidance if we sit and talk with him. Though my spiritual father is different than my husband's who is our parish priest.... but we'll probably just talk to him. We can use seafood.... but I know that a varied animal protein diet is important.... but I can't drive myself crazy about that yet. For now, we use fish and seafoods on Wed and Friday which are days we always fast all year.

I'm doing better spiritually. I had a really really hard time with it spiritually after the miscarriage last year. It's been a year. It's been a really long year. It's been such a very very incredibly long year. Full of struggles in so many ways. But things are better. I can at least pray now with my heart in it. I'm not where I was before that... or maybe I'm stronger in some areas and weaker in others? I don't know... but it's a day to day challenge but I guess that's what it is supposed to be.

Miscellaneous

Well, what else is new? My DH thinks I'm paranoid. (Wait? Is that new? lol) There was a murder that took place about ten miles from our home a few weeks ago. This brought back lots of old feelings of 'paranoia' or nervousness about being home alone (without husband), locking doors, safety, etc. that I know stem from an experience I had as a young college student in my home one summer. Without going into details, let's just suffice it to say that I think waking up with a strange man in your room once is enough to call this extreme caution and not paranoia. Okay, maybe the first week of the murder was paranoia.... but I have moved back into a much calmer sense of mind now and I would just call it cautious. They may have the lady in custody now...not for murder though (yet) for something else... but it wasn't really ever about just thinking that particular lady was going to come and kill me too.... it was about awareness. It was "oh, yeah, just because we live in this beautiful low crime area does NOT mean it can't happen and yes, we really should lock all the doors and windows at night and we should take precautions". My DH thinks locking the dog door at night is overdoing it. (though he thinks we need a handgun... which I have considered but can't get past the saftey issues regarding the little guy). So yes, I lock the dog door. Sue me.

Let's see... what else? I'm trying to keep up with my gratitude journal. My goal is to write two things in there each day. I don't always get to it but I am keeping up with it much better than I was. Recent entried have included : My Godmother, Nutrients of abundance in the foods God has created for us, A smile on the face of a friend that's been down, A friend who calls me cautious rather than paranoid and A sunny October morning! Writing in my gratitude journal is one of my 5 goals I set to create better healthy habits. Gratitude is a wonderful habit!

Well for someone that hasn't written anything at all for months (aside from in the gratitdue journal) I'd say I did pretty well here. Now if only I can keep it going! I need to pick at least one evening a week to try and do that. I just always hate saying no to my older son who always wants to play a game or watch something with me. Who else has a 14 year old that wants to spend quality time with their parent(s)??? Not many, I'm sure.... so it's hard to say no. But once a week shouldn't be awful...

Well, wish me luck with that!
Have a wonderful blessed day and go start a gratitude journal if you haven't already!

🙂