Summer time is the perfect season for yummy salads! But the whole lettuce, veggie, protein show can get a little mundane, so here are some of our favorite salads that we eat regularly.
Brussels Sprout Salad
We eat this salad at least once a week. It's crunchy and fresh - and it has bacon in it, so you can't go wrong. If you don't like Brussels sprouts, please give this a try! I promise, you'll love it. Original recipe can be found at Pinch of Yum - but the following is our adaptation of it.
Quinoa, Tomato, and Avocado Salad
Quinoa is a favorite of mine this summer - I've been making a batch of it and then mixing it with veggies and protein for lunch. Although quinoa isn't technically primal, it's gluten-free, and very nutritious.
Original recipe is from The Garden Grazer - here is my adaptation.
Watermelon, Feta, and Mint Salad
This is the most refreshing salad! I love this in the summer. Original recipe from Garnish with Lemon - I didn't make any adaptations to this one.
We are coming up to 2 years after discovering the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. You can read my first post on it here.
Have we been strict for 2 years? Definitely not. The whole pregnancy thing kinda threw a wrench in it for me, and as much as I tried, I couldn't look at meat without wanting to throw up. Mix in some vacations too, and we enjoyed our Gyro bread in Greece, and our ColdStone ice cream in Florida.
But, it has taught us a thing or two in the past couple years, so I wanted to share those insights. Overall, we still physically feel better when we live a Primal/Paleo lifestyle, which drives us to continue to do so.
1. Don't talk about it, unless someone asks you
This one is hard. When you feel strongly about something, you want to share it! But, people do not want to hear you get up on your soapbox and preach to them about your life choices. If you make the decision to go Primal/Paleo, you will get a lot of opposing comments like, "Are you going to go hunt your food?" "That's not healthy" and "Caveman didn't enjoy coffee" so if you aren't ready for the sarcasm, then keep it to yourself.
That being said, when you find people that are interested, it's great to be a source of information to help them. We've helped several friends take the plunge, and shared recipes, tips, and tricks. It's always great to share in the success.
2. Primal/Paleo is all about eating Nutrient-Dense Food
At the end of the day, this lifestyle is about eating varied foods that are good for your body's chemical makeup. There's always a better choice to make, and if you can make those choices 80% of the time, you will be better off for it.
It's easy to get into the groove of, "This is paleo, so I can eat it." And only eating nuts all day. Even though it's paleo, it's not healthy. We've found that because of this lifestyle, we've tried more new and different foods, especially vegetables. Two years ago, we never bought Brussels sprouts, and now they are a weekly vegetable in our house.
3. Cutting out processed foods is half the battle
At the end of the day, if we cut out processed foods and ate whole foods, we would all be better for it. During my pregnancy, it was hard at first to "not be paleo" anymore, but in reality, staying away from processed foods is still helping (keeping to the 80/20 rule - those Cadbury eggs get me every year).
4. There's always a better choice
You always have a better choice - and there's always a lesser evil, even if it is still "evil." Every day counts, and small choices add up.
5. Meal plan and prep as much as possible
This one is key for us. Weeks that we meal plan, shop, and prep are great. Weeks that we never get around to it are tough - usually involve Chipotle or gluten-free pizza from Roman Candle a couple times.
I use this Meal Planner to help us stay organized. We've also found that we waste less food this way, and spend less money. I also recommend that you make a big batch or double one day, so the next day you can eat leftovers.
6. There's so much more to it than food
Living Primal/Paleo is more than just food - it's about being good to yourself mentally and physically. That means getting outside, exercising, getting some sun, dropping technology, and appreciating life's little joys. Here are the 10 principles that Mark's Daily Apple outlines:
7. There will always be extremists
In any lifestyle you encounter, there will always be people that are extremists - and comparing yourself to them will do no good. It's great that some people can live Paleo 100% of the time, but I know that's not for me. Holding yourself to unrealistic expectations can create anxiety and a sense of failure. Instead you need to....
8. Find your healthy balance
Do your reading and then make a plan that works for YOU and no one else. Throughout life, this could change, as it did for me during pregnancy. It took me a while to mentally get over the fact that I couldn't stay "Primal/Paleo" but I've figured out what works for me right now. I'm not married to a certain way after baby is born, either - I'm going to wait and see what works, and what feels right. Which leads me to my next point:
9. Don't judge other people and their choices
This one is hard, because I've definitely been judged for some of the choices we've made. And, I'll admit that I have secretly judged other people for their choices. At the end of the day, it's THEIR CHOICE. So leave it be.
10. Be nice to yourself and embrace your own choices
If you decide to go down this path, be nice to yourself! Primal/Paleo is about improving your body, and that includes your mental health. If you are hard on yourself, creating more stress, it will only make things worse. That being said, when you slide, own it, and then hop right back on.
I'm in no way an expert, nor am I strict. But these are some of the things I've learned along the way, so I hope they help if you are looking to go down this path!
Yes, it's fall, and yes, everything turns into pumpkins. So of course, I wanted to try and make some primal-approved pumpkin bars.
I've always loved pumpkin-flavored food and drink - PSL anyone? One of my favorite memories in college, too, is getting a pumpkin bar at Ingraham Hall before my 1:00p power lecture on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was slathered in cream cheese frosting.
But, that bar was probably full of flour and sugar. So here's a gluten-free, refined-sugar free version. No, they don't taste like cardboard. I took them to a party, and they disappeared quickly, all those non-primal people none the wiser :)
Original recipe from foodrenegade.com - I modified slightly. Makes 16 small bars.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 8x8 pan with coconut oil spray (I buy mine at Trader Joe's). If you are making the frosting, grab the cream cheese, and put on the oven to warm up.
Combine the pumpkin, almond butter, honey, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, and fold into the pumpkin mixture. In a third bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, and pie spice together, and then add to pumpkin mixture.
Original recipe from primalpalate.com - I modified slightly. This amount is plenty to cover these pumpkin bars.
Allow the cream cheese to warm up to room temperature. Blend all ingredients together with a stand or hand mixer.
Spread the cooled pumpkin bars with the cream cheese frosting, cut into 16 pieces, and serve!
What's your favorite pumpkin flavored food or drink?
Monday thoughts...or this post could also be renamed....pictures of Louie. You have been warned.
1. Week 4 of marathon training is here. Put in 30 miles last week, which surprisingly went really well. Part of the reason I post this is so YOU hold me accountable. Yay you! The most difficult part of running lately is the humidity. Blech.
3. We are in month 4 of living primal/paleo. We've tried some really amazing recipes, and do not miss carbs and sugar as much as we thought we would. That being said, we still have cravings. So after some Pinteresting, I found this recipe for Paleo Cinnamon Bun in a Mug. OMG. Simply scrumptious.
4. Mojitos make this little one sleepy. (Disclaimer: we did not let the dog drink mojitos).
6. We hit up Art Fair on the Square this weekend, and it was fun to get out and walk around Madison. We also checked out the new library, which is looking slick. Excited to check it out in September.
8. Annual Mallards outing for our Shoutlet Crew - it's always a good time.
9. New trend: bring all the toys to the front door where you can watch the world together.
I'd love to hear what you think if you've read it. My initial reaction to the book was "Wahoooo! Women Power!" There are a lot of great insights and takeaways that every PERSON (not just women) can take away. But in reality, I feel a lot of what she talks about is on another level - like for C-levels at large tech-companies.
I still recommend reading it - here are my top 5 takeaways:
And my soapbox is over. Check it out! I'd love to debate/discuss.
Since going on this "primal" journey, the one thing I truly miss is pizza. The crust, the cheese, the toppings, and the ease of throwing one into the oven for dinner.
I had previously made one version of primal pizza, but the crust was more like a egg bake than a yummy crust. Not a win for me.
Enter Primal Cravings Cookbook.
We ordered this book a couple weeks ago, and it had made primal life seem more...normal. All of the recipes we have tried are amazing, and obviously, grain and sugar free. If you are embarking on this journey, I highly recommend it.
With a Saturday night in and lots of time, I decided to attempt the pizza crust in this book. It was easy to make and turned out brown and crispy. We made two crusts to make his and hers pizzas, but we definitely could have made just one. With all the toppings, this was a filling meal. I'm already looking forward to the leftovers for lunch!
Primal Craving's Pizza Crust
Makes (1) 14-inch crust
I had two crusts in the oven, so they took about 22 mintues to both get cripsy and brown. I'm going to experiment with making this dough ahead of time and freezing it, so we can have pizza whenever we want!
We topped ours with homemade pizza sauce (also from this cookbook), pepperoni, artichoke hearts, chopped roasted red peppers, and green olives. Add some cheese, and some Italian spices on top, and broil on high for 3-4 minutes.
Have you ever done something so life changing that you can't imagine what life was like before?
This is my story of following the Primal Blueprint lifestyle.
It started a couple months ago when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law mentioned it to us several times. No grains, no carbs, no sugar. It sounded IMPOSSIBLE. Especially for a "runner" like me who eats enough carbs to run a marathon every single day. Mostly meat, eggs, and vegetables. High-fat dairy like whole milk and cream are encouraged in moderation. And dark chocolate.
And the benefits they talked about - no more hunger, no tiredness or crashes, feel better overall, weight loss, etc, etc, etc. It was appealing, but.....
Nope. Never! Give up my daily oatmeal? And fresh crunchy bread? And pasta nights before a long run? And DONUTS?! Runners can't go primal.
WRONG. I've been primal (or predator as I like to call it) for over a month. And still running.
My husband and I went back and forth for several weeks with these thoughts:
But then, my BIL sent us this blog post about a marathoner who went primal and it changed her life. And so we decided to give it a try with two months until our next race (a half marathon).
So what is PRIMAL? You eat certain foods to change your body into a FAT burning machine instead of a SUGAR burning machine. Your insulin gets regulated, you burn fat that you have stored, and you last longer between meals. It all goes back to those days before agriculture, when humans were eating meats and greens that were not processed or genetically-modified.
So what is a typical day like? I have 2 eggs in the morning, with berries on the side. Lunch is a big salad with leftover sliced meat from the day before (steak or chicken). Snacks are nuts, apples, almond butter, carrots. And for dinner, we grill up some chicken or steak and eat with veggies, or we've been trying some amazing recipes (favorites below). Bacon (nitrate free) is encouraged. And, wine and cheese is allowed. Which is all you need to know.
The best part is: whole milk in lattes. Have you had one? They are amazing and creamy and delicious. WHY have I been starving myself with skim lattes? No more. This lifestyle is amazingly satisfying because....you are satisfying your body's need for healthy fats. No low-fat crap. Full fat goodness.
I can say that after going "primal" for just a month, these are the benefits that we both have experienced:
I can't say that it's been the easiest thing I've ever done. But, most rewarding things in life take willpower and effort. If you are interesting in trying this lifestyle, here is my guide to you.
Of course, there are always downsides to a change in lifestyle. Luckily, my husband and I are doing it together, which makes it easier. And it helps that family is doing it too. BUT.....
I have a half marathon on May 26. My goal is a sub-2 hour race. If going primal helps me get there, then this is all worth it. And the fact that I feel pretty good is a bonus.
Favorite Recipes so far (images are linked, otherwise they are from the cookbooks):
Check out my Living Primal Pinterest Board. Recipe heaven.
Would you try this? If you think I'm crazy, you can let me know in the comments.
Dear Joe, you were right.