Check out ethnic markets for produce deals

If you live in the US, I’m willing to bet that you buy produce at a supermarket.  Maybe you have a CSA in the summer months (here in California we can get them year round), grow some of your own veggies or you might be a regular at your local farmer’s market. But at least some of the time, maybe all of the time, you shop at a typical big name supermarket for at least some of your produce.  But there is a cheaper alternative,

I’ve recently discovered that I can get amazing deals on produce from some of the specialty ethnic supermarkets in my area.  Now I live in the LA area which is just bananas for ethnic diversity and we have a LOT more options than some other areas, near my home we have mostly hispanic & Armenian ethnic markets, but they vary a lot… in other neighborhoods you can get similar deals at Chinese, Korean, Thai & Persian markets.   Some of these markets are even huge chains (like Vallarta or 99 Ranch).  Basically, these markets compete for customers just like Vons or Ralphs… but their loss leaders, that get people in the store are fruits and vegetables.  HUGE deals, I’m talking 4 pounds of oranges or 10 pounds of potatoes for $1.  That’s right, ONE buck!  Right now cherries have just come into season and two different ethnic chains are stocking them for nearly half the cost of the big chains.

Let’s look at a recent receipt:

20130601-072351.jpg

I went through and priced out the same produce at a standard grocery store (Vons) and at Sprouts, my local lower cost hippie grocery store (think a down-market Whole Foods).  Even shopping two stores for the lowest prices, that same amount of produce came to $21.70.  That’s right, $11 more!

And yes, I know I bought an awful lot of fruit there, but we have a kid.  Even a 50% primal child will eat you out of house and home when it comes to fruit.  No joke.

Now there’s a caveat here… often the hispanic markets also have big loss leader prices at the meat counter as well as in the produce section.  I’m pretty iffy about buying meat there because of quality issues.  I’ve found their chicken and pork to be pumped up with “solution” to the USDA legal limit, and when cooked they give off so much fluid they stew in their own juices.  That used to be my reason for avoiding hispanic markets all together, since I had some clearly poor quality chicken at a few BBQs. I’ve got a post brewing about budget issues and meat quality, but my personal choice is to pay a little more for high quality meat, I don’t like paying good money for saline.  If you are going to hit up the meat counter, my choice would be to go for pork intended for a slow cooker (where it’s going to stew anyway) or unmarinated cuts of beef.

A few other notes:

  1. If you live in a busy metro area like LA, check the advertisements each week and pick one store, nearby, that has good deals on a lot of things you’ll use and add that to your weekly shopping. Don’t go to 5 or 6 stores a week chasing deals, you’ll waste time and gas money.  Ideally, I hit up two stores, an ethnic store and a standard grocery store, supplemented with CSA meat from our freezer, and produce from our garden.   
  2. Stick to the basics.  Don’t get distracted by stuff like the lovely bakery section or the crazy asian candies.  Remember, the good quality produce is their loss leader, they’re making their money on selling people a taste of home.  If you get distracted by goodies you wouldn’t normally eat you’re not doing your health or your budget any good.
  3. If you have particular food needs (like gluten free or lower sodium) then REALLY stick to the basics like fresh produce.  In some cases, ethnic processed foods have a U.S. nutrition label stuck on over the home-country labeling, and I really don’t trust those labels to be accurate.  There’s just too much wiggle room with imported processed foods.
  4. If you worry that you’ll be the only person of alternate ethnicity in the store… get over it.  Maybe this is just because LA is such a melting pot, but I’ll typically see maybe 20-25% of shoppers who are not the store’s target audience, as well as plenty of mixed race families.

 

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Cut your own damn food

Another in my “Discount Paleo” series… cut your own damn food!

Seriously people, why on earth are you spending extra money for food processors to cut your food up for you?  Pre-shredded cheese, pre-cut broccoli & lettuce, carrots that are whittled down to tiny nubs and labeled “baby”.  These things add extra overhead to your grocery bill, often taste less fresh and frankly, you can cut your own food just fine in a few minutes with a good sharp kitchen knife.  I’m assuming that if you eat even halfway paleo you’ve passed up on the pre-packaged meals with sauce packets, now it’s time to give up on someone cutting up your food for you.  You’re not in kindergarten anymore, (wo)man up and use a knife!

Even simple, low cost veggie staples like carrots, cabbage & onions have substantial cost savings if you buy them whole and cut them up yourself.  When you look at higher priced options like salad greens or bell peppers the mark up is insane.  Yes, it is ever so slightly faster on a busy week night, but spend about an hour on Sunday pre-chopping some veggies, and you’ve saved big bucks over a year’s time.  Yes, it’s slightly boring, but put on a good podcast or radio show, and you’ll be done before you know it.

Now there are some exceptions to this rule… first of all, if you have arthritis or are missing some of your fingers, you are excused.  I’m happy that the grocery store supplies pre-cut veggies to make your life more comfortable!  Yay modern convenience!  Exception #2 is frozen veggies, they are cut as part of processing, but are usually still quite inexpensive, fresh tasting and convenient… plus they occasionally go on sale.  Yay sale!  The final exception is meat, while it might be cool to break down your own cow or pig once or twice, it’s simply more efficient to let the butcher do it for you and it doesn’t add substantially to your cost overhead.

Poultry is a special case… you’ll save some cash if you roast a whole chicken, but the mark-up isn’t very high for bone-in thighs & drumsticks, so it’s reasonable to buy pieces.  OTOH, stop buying boneless skinless chicken breasts!  They’re expensive, they cook up dry, and hello… they are the most expensive part of the chicken.  Now I do love breast meat over dark for chicken salads, but bone-in is usually a few bucks cheaper and when you’ve eaten your chicken salad you have bones to make stock with.  But the most cost effective thing is to just roast the whole chicken, use the dark meat in soups & stir fries, the white meat in chicken salad, the bones in stock, and snack on the wings & crispy skin while you’re breaking the whole thing down.

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Cheat with your budget and your health in mind

First off, let’s talk about intelligent cheating.  Many people associate the “paleo” label with the work of Robb Wolf and Whole9′s Whole30 plan, which are very strict interpretations that can powerfully heal your health.  However, if you don’t have serious health problems, or if you have a good strong handle on what foods cause you problems then often you can get away with some flexibility.  Hence, in the Primal style of eating, many people talk about the 80/20 rule.  Typically, it’s an escape valve that relieves a little stress, people feel better transitioning over if they feel like they can sometimes have some beer or ice cream.  I’m going to propose that if you’re really struggling with the financials of eating Paleo, that you can intelligently use the 80/20 rule to save some money.

If you think of really, really low budget foods you’re probably thinking beans, rice, corn, oatmeal and white potatoes.  Super cheap starchy foods that can make a small serving of meat and generous veggies into a filling meal.  However, these foods are typically out on a strict paleo eating plan because they often cause health problems for people.  I propose that if you know what works for your body and your family, that 20% of these foods can stretch your budget far more than devoting your 20% to scotch & fine chocolates.

Step 1 is to think carefully about your health.  If you have Celiac disease you might want to stretch your budget with rice and potatoes, but probably not oatmeal or barley (which both have gluten).  If you have joint problems or an auto-immune disorder, steer clear of beans & white potatoes which both contain natural chemicals that can aggravate these conditions.  If you are diabetic or have blood sugar issues, you would want to stick to beans, which release starches into your system very slowly.  For me personally, I know I need to avoid corn and all corn products (corn tortillas, corn chips, tamales) because they aggravate my digestion.

Once you’ve identified whether any of these super cheap starchy foods are appropriate for you and your family, then the idea is to use them to stretch out your meals NOT to replace nutrient dense meats and vegetables on your table.  The goal is not to replace a thick steak, or grilled salmon fillet for “meatless Monday” but to add these foods to nutrient dense scraps and leftovers to stretch them out into meals.  For instance, say I roast a chicken for dinner on Friday.  Saturday I can turn the carcass into chicken broth, and use a bunch of scrap veggies from the crisper drawer to make a soup for weekday lunches.  Say I’m able to pick about 6oz of cooked chicken off the carcass… that doesn’t make for a terribly filling soup, but if I stretch it with 1/2 cup of rice or beans it becomes a more robust meal that can get me through a work day.  Or say, shrimp is on sale, I buy enough to make my family’s favorite paleo coconut shrimp and a cheap cole-slaw, but there’s 5 or 6 leftover shrimp… another night I can combine the leftovers with rice, a couple eggs and some veggies to make fried rice.

There’s four keys to making this work:

  1. Keep the focus on nutrient dense meats, veggies, fruits, eggs and optional dairy.  Don’t let super cheap starches dilute the nutrient quality of your diet.  If you notice in my examples above, meat, veggies and eggs still feature prominently, and I do not eat these “stretching” foods every meal.  
  2. Know thyself.  Keeping to a budget is no excuse for eating foods that aggravate any health problems.
  3. You still want to eat real whole foods.  Think of bulk dried beans and rice, 5 pound bags of russet potatoes.  Avoid canned beans, microwave rice pilaf mixes, and frozen french fries.  Sticking to real foods not only sidesteps damaging additives, it is much cheaper.  Canned beans may seem inexpensive, but for the same price you can get a pound of dried beans that makes up equivalent to 3-4 cans.
  4. These foods are your 20%.  If you can’t eliminate splurges on craft beer, fancy chocolates or meals out at nice restaurants then you need to re-think your food budget (and your eating) from the ground up.  I’m still flexible for the occasional In-n-Out protein style burger, and an occasional ice cream with my kiddo, but these are cheap indulgences that still have some nutritional value.  If you’re adding rice to your otherwise  paleo diet, but then also splurging on a fancy Starbucks drink every day after work you’re kind of missing the point.

That all being said, my family’s favorite super cheap starch is beans.  Mark Sisson may think that kidney beans are less exciting than cheese, but my family actually likes a nice bean salad at a BBQ, or some cuban black beans alongside pork.  However if you’re not used to cooking with beans, they take some planning.  I strongly advocate buying dried beans and soaking them before cooking, not only because they’re cheaper but because it nearly eliminates the lectins (a phytochemical that can cause problems with absorbing nutrients).  It’s not complicated, it just takes some planning ahead.  Measure out your beans the night before, and throw them in a bowl or jar with double the volume of water.  In the morning, drain them and cover with more water.  When you’re ready to use them, drain them again, put them in a pot and fill the water 1″ over the level of the beans.  Simmer for 1 hour and voila: cooked beans!  They can then be chilled for bean salad, or added to soups or stews.  You can even soak/cook double quantities and store the cooked beans in the freezer for later use.

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For when you can’t… easy pork chops

20130424-160406.jpgMy friend Darlena posted her basic pork chop recipe to facebook with the caption “for when you can’t..” Which cracked me up so hard, because MY basic pork chop recipe is 100% totally for those days when I “just can’t”. The days that would be pizza days if I could order take-out pizza anymore (which I “can’t”). The days when just getting food on the table feels like a “can’t”. And I’ll be super 100% honest with you guys here: The side dish for these pork chops is usually microwaved frozen veggies. Days like that happen to the best of us, and sometimes you just gotta congratulate yourself for getting SOMETHING on the table.

Obviously, my recipe is a little different, I can’t take the salt from packaged mixes. And my particular preschooler does not like sauce on anything. But everyone needs a basic pork chop recipe in their back pocket for those days when we just can’t.

Easy mustard pork chops
 
Author: 
Cuisine: american

Ingredients
  • 4 bone in pork chops (thin cut)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Optional: ½ tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • Pepper & salt to taste

Instructions
  1. Mix mustard, garlic powder & olive oil into a smooth paste. Add parsley if you’re using it.
  2. Lay out the pork chops and sprinkle with pepper (and salt for family members who are not sodium sensitive). Slather mustard mix on pork chops, stack them on top of each other, and set aside for 10 minutes or so.
  3. Coat a baking pan with foil, and lay the pork chops in it.
  4. Set the broiler on low and put the pork chops on the top rack of the oven. Broil for 3 minutes. Take them out and flip them over and broil for 3-4 minutes more, or until the tops have started to brown well. (Note: this may depend a little bit on the position of your oven rack with regard to the broiler, I’ve had ovens where this is best done on the 2nd rack down from the top to avoid smoking and fire.)

Notes
For an absolute rock bottom sodium level, you can use Westbrae Natural’s “no salt added” mustard. I usually end up choosing the lowest sodium dijon style mustard, since each pork chop ends up with a little less than a teaspoon.

 

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Thirty Nine: A cautionary tale on Nutritional Ketosis

39. It’s my age. It was also my fasting blood glucose this morning. Dangerously low.

Let me backtrack a little bit. I’ve been playing around with a shorter term version of nutritional ketosis (NK) again, for a few reasons.
1. I’m part of a biggest loser style competition with some friends that ends a week from Monday and I found out I was 2nd and within spitting distance of first. And first is my husband. :-) Yeah. I’m a pretty competitive person, so I decided to gun for him.
2. Before I quit my previous bout with NK, I had been reading some on the possible cancer fighting & cancer prevention aspects of a ketotic diet. It’s some interesting stuff, but it was looking like that would require a higher ketone level than I had achieved (at least since I was tracking it via a meter). I wanted to see if that was possible for my body.
3. I also was curious to verify some things I had suspected about how coconut fats affected my ketone levels.
But I wasn’t really going to blog about it here, because I’d like this blog to be more generally about eating a moderated sodium paleo diet and awesome recipes, not really my personal diet diary. And then this morning I woke up severely hypoglycemic. And I think this is something that should be discussed in public.

Basically, I had been doing something very similar to my eating through January and most of February. Around 50 grams of total carbs a day, 35ish net carbs (subtracting fiber), cutting back calories by 250 a day. Nothing extreme. And then after a few days of the normal plan, I was going to take 4 days and do a very high coconut version of this same plan… coconut custard for breakfast, coconut curry soup for lunch, a snack of dried coconut and then one of my normal dinners to see if that did anything extreme to my ketone levels. Wednesday was day 2 of the coconut plan and frankly I wasn’t very hungry that day, so I undershot my calories quite a bit (probably a 500-600 calorie deficit rather than 250), especially since it was a training day. I felt fine that evening, but Thursday morning I woke up and I was HUNGRY. I was in ketosis, but my body was clear that I needed MOAR FOOD (ketosis is not a magical hunger suppressor, if it was, humans wouldn’t be motivated to look for sufficient food and we would die). I ate more that day, but still kept my carbs down (31 net carbs) and that evening when I tested ketones it was the highest ever at 2.6. I was feeling a little off even before bed though. When I woke up this morning, I felt fairly sketched out and had a gut feeling to use up the last of my glucose test strips to test my fasting blood glucose. It read 39.

Yeah. That’s dangerously low. The recommendation for cancer patients who are trying to starve a glucose dependent tumor is 55-65. I was well below that. And it’s not like I had a day planned of lounging on the couch. I was going to take my son to the pick-your-own strawberry farm to see the Easter bunny and play on farm equipment, and then in the evening I had a trapeze class planned. It would have probably been unsafe for me to even operate my car when extremely hypoglycemic, much less run around in the hot sun hunting eggs. So I supplemented my coconut custard with a couple tablespoons of cooked rice and felt a little better. I waited about an hour and still didn’t feel totally right, so I mashed about 1/2 a banana into some full fat yogurt and slowly ate that over about an hours time. By the time I finished I was back to my usual self. I’ve carried on the rest of my day as planned foodwise, except I enjoyed a couple strawberries with my son, without a care for the extra carbs.

So what happened? Well, given my extremely poor reactions to super low carb diets in the past, and my adequate, but not excessive protein intake this round (average 82g a day), I hypothesize that my body is less efficient at most than converting protein to glucose. I haven’t been taking in enough carbs to cover my brain’s minimum needs, I’m not carrying any extra in my liver, and my body is doing poorly at making enough from the few extra grams of protein I have laying around. Now this isn’t a hypothesis I want to test in any way shape or form (unless someone can do it in the lab without me having to drop into hypoglycemia again) because frankly it just doesn’t feel healthy to keep messing with it. Chasing deep levels of ketosis is not for me. Dr. Georgia Ede has asked,
“For people without cancer or seizures, who are just using this diet to lose weight, improve function/performance, manage mood swings, or manage appetite, does the degree of ketosis matter?”
And I think for me, it doesn’t. I saw benefits from mild ketosis in the 0.5-1.2 range, and my body has problems higher than that. Today, I clocked in at 86 total carbs, 66 net, and after trapeze class I got a 1.1 ketone reading. That’s pretty reasonable, I feel fine, not hungry and not messed up in the head. I see no reason to chase higher ketone levels, I do not believe they are “therapeutic” for me.

I want to bring this up publicly because I may not be the only one out there who can have this kind of reaction. Yet I see many places people talking about how zero carb and very low carb diets are safe. They may work for some people but be unsafe for others. If I had been in Steve Phinney’s bicyclist study, I would have been pulled out of the study as an “adverse event” with glucose that low. My advice in this situation is not to avoid a reduced carbohydrate diet, nor to avoid ketosis at all costs… but if you are chasing ultra high ketones for a particular performance or therapeutic reason, please double check your blood glucose from time to time to make sure you’re not so depleted that you can’t keep your glucose in a healthy and appropriate range.

Incidentally, I have one Meniere’s symptom that varies a lot with my seasonal allergies, the “fullness” thing in my bad ear. It feels like an ear infection, but without the sharp pain… all the time. For me, this is actually more irritating than the tinnitus, since my brain has learned to tune out the tinnitus most of the time, whereas I can’t shake the uneven feeling when my ear feels full. My allergies have just started to act up this year and my ear was bugging me, within a couple days of popping back into mild ketosis the fullness diminished quite a bit. I think the changes in sodium metabolism that come with ketosis have the same effect on me as diuretics do, without dropping my blood pressure like the meds would. It’s handy to know for when the fullness gets out of control. The more control I have using my diet the happier I am.

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Easter brunch noms

What does the term “Paleo” conjure up for you?  Cavemen and hearty plates of meat?  What if I told you that paleo food can be downright adorable?  Yup, it’s all in the presentation.  This is from last year’s Easter brunch (sorry for the weird lighting, it was early before we hid the eggs).  Cute huh?

easter

 

As you might have guessed, the “chicks” are simply deviled eggs, and the “carrots” are mini bell peppers stuffed with salmon salad and garnished with parsley.  This isn’t really a recipe, more of a how-to on how to make the adorable chicks.

You’ll need:

  • 6 – 12 hard boiled eggs
  • mayonaise
  • mustard
  • a carrot
  • black sesame seeds or peppercorns
  • a sharp knife and small spoon (a baby spoon works well)
  • optional: pastry bag (helpful if you’re making a lot)

For the chicks, start by hard boiling your eggs and allow them to cool.  Cut off the top of each egg on a diagonal like this:

Then gently scoop out the yolks.  This is a little tricky because they’re not cut in neat halves… use a baby spoon to get in there and don’t worry about getting it perfect, you can cover any screw ups later.

At this point you can google some fancy paleo deviled egg recipe, or you can just open up your ancient red plaid cookbook and use the old standard. For 6 egg yolks mash with 1/4 mayo, 1 tsp. vinegar and 1 tsp. mustard (the normal kind from a jar, not the powder).  If you’re doing 12 eggs, double that.  Now you can either use a pastry bag to pipe the filling into the egg whites, or simply spoon it in carefully… again, it doesn’t need to be perfect because you’re going to cap it with the other piece of egg white and gently squish so that the egg yolk filling is spilling out a bit, like this.

Now it’s time to make your faces.  Take a carrot and trim down some teeny beak-shaped triangles. There’s not a lot of technique to getting a beak shape, as you can see, I hacked up a bunch of teeny triangles and then just picked the ones that looked like they might work.

Stick the beak in the middle of each chick face, and then carefully add the eyes. Black sesame seeds can be hard to find (check the asian section of your store) and terribly fiddly to place on the little chicken face… however, they’re more edible than a whole peppercorn. If you’ve got little kids who won’t have the patience to pick off (or spit out) the peppercorns, search out some of the black sesame seeds, or trim some olives to the right shape (again, olives are terribly fiddly to cut down).

Et voila! Now just do that 5 more times or 11 more times depending on how many eggs you have and how patient you are. (Pro tip: Make 6. Twelve is a lot of work.)

Posted in holidays, kid food | 5 Comments

Chicken & zucchini gratin

20130321-133220.jpgLast night I roasted a whole chicken.  From a budget standpoint, whole chickens can be a great deal, since they’re less expensive per pound, and you can stretch them “rubber chicken” style over several meals.  The basic rubber chicken formula is simple: roasted chicken with roasted vegetables for one meal, one or more secondary meals that make use of the leftover meat, and then chicken soup made with the carcass and any meat that clings to it.  I used this formula a lot when we were buying pastured chickens because those suckers cost a lot per pound and I wanted to make the most out of them.  But meat quality is one of the corners we’re cutting to fit in our short term budget, so last night was a conventional bird.  I’m still going to get every ounce of nutrition I can out of that sucker.

This lovely chicken & zucchini gratin is a elegant approach to leftover chicken meat (it’s also quite good for leftover thanksgiving turkey).  I really like it for breakfast, since it’s quite tasty cold out of the fridge, but it could also serve as a dinner main dish.  It’s shamelessly adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s quinoa gratin in the New York Times, but with chicken as the star instead of quinoa.  This is a perfect use for dark meat if your family doesn’t particularly like it straight, as it contributes to the depth of flavor.  Gruyere is a quite expensive, swiss cheese can be substituted, it’s not quite as good but it’s a fraction of the cost.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Chicken & zucchini gratin
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Serving size: ¼
  • Calories: 233
  • Fat: 14
  • Carbohydrates: 6
  • Sodium: 212
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 20

Cuisine: American

Primal gratin with chicken & zucchini
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium or large zucchini, diced
  • ¼ tsp dried tarragon
  • ¼ tsp celery seed
  • 1 cup of finely diced leftover chicken
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup shredded gruyere or swiss cheese (2 oz)

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sautee the onion & zucchini in the olive oil until it starts to brown. Stir in the tarragon & celery seed and cook for 1 minute longer. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the zucchini mixture with the diced chicken. Beat 3 eggs and fold in the eggs and cheese.
  4. Oil a 2 quart baking dish or cake pan. Pour the zucchini, chicken and egg mixture in. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until it is lightly browned on the top. Cool at least 10 minute before eating.

Notes
Feel free to substitute other dried herbs that you have on hand for the tarragon & celery seed. Thyme is also quite nice. Or if you have fresh herbs, use up to 1.5 tsp of finely chopped fresh herbs in place of dried.

 

Posted in Budget Eats, recipes | 3 Comments

Star foods and X foods

This is the first in an occasional series on kid food.  My philosophy on kids and food is that I don’t think healthy children need to follow rigid dietary philosophies (like eating strictly paleo), but I DO think healthy families should share healthy meals together.  In our household that means my son eats mostly real food meals that include more grains than the grown-ups.  For other families dealing with serious food allergies, neurological issues or a family member who’s celiac, that may look a little (or a lot) different as all kids don’t have the same needs.  But generally speaking children need a diverse variety of real foods, and they need to see their parents eating and enjoying real foods.

But whatever philosophy you have… at some point between 18 months and about 6 years, you’re going to be dealing with a picky eater.  In our family, that time is now.  My son wants to eat only three things for dinner: pasta & meatballs, tuna melts or In-n-Out.  And half the time that we have tuna melts he only nibbles the crust off the edge of the toast.  Yes.  This is making me, as a food loving mama insane.  I like to eat diverse, interesting experimental meals.  I hate it when I put a lovely meal on the table, my husband digs in with relish and my 4 year old spends the whole time whining that he wants fishy crackers.  Especially when it’s food that he enjoyed just fine a year ago.  ARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!

So it surprised me, in the car the other day, when my son decided that he was going to rate everything as a “star” food or an “X” food.  Star food being the things he likes, X food being the things he doesn’t.  The big 3 dinners I mentioned above?  Yup, star foods.  But as we got to chatting, here’s some other things he listed off:

  • “Helicopter” chicken (i.e. drumsticks)
  • Bacon
  • Raw kale leaves
  • Hamburger steaks (my husband’s weekday specialty)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Big carrots (not the baby carrots)
  • Bread
  • Tangerines
  • Melon
  • Rice
  • Cheese
  • Strawberries
  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate
  • “Truck” chicken (I have no idea what this is, apparently he ate it at my mom’s house once???)

You know what?  That’s a pretty darn awesome list, of mostly whole foods.  A few treats, but not as unbalanced as I would have thought.  He has a strong preference for vegetables served raw, up to and including kale (!!!), and he told me that cooked vegetables in general are an X food.   It was an eye opening reminder to me that the struggles at the dinner table are as much about power and limits as they are about food.  If given free reign, he wouldn’t do that badly.

And it’s given me an opportunity to compromise.  Now every night, he get some raw veggies on his plate, even if it’s just one giant carrot next to some salmon (he hates salmon).  I individually froze some organic drumsticks, so that if hubs and I are having a chicken dish, he can have his plain helicopter piece without fuss.  I am never going to be his short order chef, but if we can meet halfway and dial down the whining, I am a happier mama.

So what about your kids?  How have you navigated the Picky McWhinerson years?

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And sometimes I go out and play circus

And sometimes I do some circus. This was actually my first time on a flying trapeze (all my trapeze experience is static or single point trap). This was with a group of circus friends at Richie Gaona’s rig up in Woodland Hills. Our awesome catcher was Terry and the whole crew there was wonderful!

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Pulling the plug on my nutritional ketosis experiement

More changes ahead.  I’m pulling the plug on my nutritional ketosis experiment.  Since January 1, I’ve lost 14 pounds, without significantly impacting my athletic performance or struggling with hunger or cravings and I’m calling that a win.

So why am I stopping? Well, I went with a friend to get a water dunk bodyfat test today.  .  My bodyfat?  A rock solid 18.2%.  That’s fairly lean for a woman.  I might want to get a couple points lower for swimsuit season, but not a whole lot lower; and that’s perfectly comfortable for the winter months.  Now I had done this test before a couple times in 2010 when I was first working to get off ye olde baby weight, so I have some “pretest” numbers to compare. And comparing my 2010 numbers to currently, I did lose a small amount lean muscle mass, as well as fat over that time.  The woman who runs the testing center said it wasn’t too bad, but she advised increasing my calories a small amount and slightly increasing my protein.  But I honestly think that if I want to get in really good shape for summer, psychologically I would be better just easing off on the weight loss for a month or so.   I need a little mental break.

But also, I don’t think that long term nutritional ketosis is actually best for my body and my goals.  You see, I’ve never shown any evidence of glucose/insulin dysregulation and I don’t do an endurance sport.  NK is useful for me with regards to improving my strength:weight ratio… in fact I haven’t come across any other eating approach that’s been as effective at preserving my performance while losing weight.  But there is a limit to how much I can improve that ratio just by shedding fat.  I’m not an endurance athlete that can hammer myself into the ground and then refuel… I need to lift my own bodyweight, repeatedly, with grace, precision and proper form, both for artistic reasons and to avoid injury.  I can’t see how long term chronic ketosis would be the correct approach for what I do with my body given my perfectly healthy blood sugar.

All that being said, I’m not jumping feet first back into moderate carb paleo eating.  I’m increasing my overall calories and protein a bit, and then slowly stepping up my carbs.  I don’t want to play havoc with my fluid levels, since that can bring on a vertigo attack.  A week or so with a piece of fruit every day, maybe a small square of dark chocolate and then maybe I’ll pick up a sweet potato here and there.  Nothing crazy…

Oh and P.S. I think the budget might appreciate cutting back on the macadamia nuts in favor of some apples & sweet potatoes too.  At least in the short term.

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