Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shepherd's Pie with no potatoes?

Yes, I know, it's almost a sin to have no potatoes on Shepherd's Pie, but we're trying super hard to avoid white potatoes, rice, know the horrible white stuff that's not great for us.

So, I found a recipe that substitutes the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower. Sounds weird, right? Well, I've had mashed cauliflower before and it wasn't horrible, so I figured I'd give it a go. I adapted the recipe I found, but wanted to provide a link to it, so you could see the original.

Here's how I changed it.

1 head cauliflower
1 minced garlic clove
salt & pepper

olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh, chopped carrots blanched
1 cup fresh green beans (trimmed) blanched
1 cup frozen peas
1 pound ground venison (any lean meat is fine, just make sure it's organic at the very least)
1 tablespoon of white, yes white, flour (I just haven't had a chance to get any almond flour yet!)
3/4 cup beef broth (make your own if possible)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons butter (real butter...none of the fake stuff!)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Break/chop cauliflower and steam until tender (I think I steamed for about 10 or so minutes)
Put in food processor with garlic until smooth. Salt/pepper to taste (I omitted the 2 tablespoons butter from the original recipe because it calls for 2 tablespoons at the end, but I'll definitely add it to this step next time)

Heat oil in skillet over medium to medium low heat
Add onion and saute until soft
Add venison and brow
Add peas, carrots and green beans and cook for five minutes
Stir in flour
Add broth, herbs, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 5 minutes (stir occasionally)

Put mixture into baking dish and spread cauliflower on top.
Put the 2 tablespoons of butter on top (cut it into small cubes)
Bake 30-35 minutes

This was surprisingly good! I wish I would have add 1/2 more onion, another head of cauliflower for the mash on top (with another clove or two of garlic), butter for the mashed cauliflower, but all in all definitely very good!
I chose to use fresh veggies instead of frozen because I like my veggies to be firm and was afaid the frozen would be too mushy, but frozen is definitely a great way to go to make this a easy meal to prepare!

It was great leftover too! I have to admit, the mashed cauliflower looks kind of weird leftover, but tastes just the same as the night before.

Join me for the February Real Food Challenge!

Details found here -

This comes at a PERFECT time for me! My husband is already doing really well with his eating. I should be so lucky to have a partner who wants to be as healthy as I want to be. Now, if I could only stop eating the crap! I'm doing much, much better and taking baby steps all the time.

This challenge will be great and very challenging since we're going out of town for two weekends in February! No better time than the present to start learning how to eat while out of town, right?

So, join me. Please. I beg you. I need people to help me through this :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No juice? Ever?

Not ever, but for now. Our 19 month old has never had juice. It's not that we think juice is harmful and I'm sure soon he'll have some. However, at this point it's very important to us to make him understand that water is the number one beverage in our house. I grew up drinking very little water. We were big fans of sweet tea in our house! I always drank milk as well, but water wasn't really in the picture so much. I struggle so much with not drinking enough as an adult and I don't want my son to have to worry with it as well.

We don't feel that juice is necessary in our child's diet. Sure, it's considered a fruit serving (to some), but considering our son already eats too much fruit in a day, we figure why give him juice that doesn't contain the whole fruit that's meant to be eaten. We believe it's important to eat all parts of the fruit that are able to be eaten.

Another reason we've chosen to delay introducing juice - we listened to the advice of MANY friends of ours. We are told constantly that their kids do not like to drink water and will only drink it if it's flavored. I'm not against flavoring your water with some natural fruit juices, however I'm brought back to my struggles now as an adult and my lack of drinking water as much as I should. I do not like the taste of water...I don't even like the taste of flavored water. I don't want my son to be in the same boat later in life knowing that water is the most important beverage for you and not liking to drink it at all.

My niece, who is a couple months older than my son, stayed with us for a couple months recently. She was not a water drinker at all. In fact, she made awful faces when she realized her cup contained only water and threw her cup on the floor. It took about a week, but with us consistently offering only milk in the mornings with her breakfast and water every other offering, she slowly took to it. In fact, she began gulping it down faster than our son at most meals! One thing we found to work very well with her was to offer her 8 ounces of water in the morning right when she woke up, before breakfast, and guess what? She drank it down so quickly that we hadn't even had breakfast prepared!

We also take the advice of our pediatrician, which I've also heard years ago before ever even considering having children, which is to offer what you prepare (food or drink), if they do not want it, cover the plate (or put cup in refrigerator), and when your child asks for food or drink later, offer what you offered earlier that they did not accept. Our doctor said there will be days you wonder how the child even survived the week because he/she ate so little, but there will be weeks you wonder where he/she put all the food they consumed. We haven't had to implement that rule yet since our son is a pretty good eater/drinker. However, I know we could be dealing with it soon!

So, for now, it's only water, raw cow's milk (or organic if our monthly supply of raw milk runs out) and breast milk. Eventually he'll definitely get some juice occasionally. But it won't be an everyday beverage in our house. I see it as being more of an apple or orange juice on weekends when we have wonderfully big breakfasts!

Monday, January 4, 2010

You're *still* breastfeeding?

"When they are old enough to ask for it, it's time to wean."

Well, with all due respect, babies ask for it the minute they are born. They may not use the same words we do, but they most certainly ask for it. I totally understand that many people are weirded out by extended breastfeeding...wait, that's wrong. Actually I've found that many people are weirded out by women breastfeeding, period. Now, I don't blame these people...I blame our society.

I have to admit, I was one of them. I remember once when working my part-time job for a photography studio years ago...once during a session with a little girl who was almost 2, we had to stop so the mom and little girl could have a nursing session. I was totally weirded out! I mean, I knew women breastfed. That much I got. But I thought you only breastfed the babies until they could sit up or eat solid foods. I had NO clue.

But you know, the first time I'd ever really seen a woman breastfeed their child was when I was 24 years old. 24. Isn't that ridiculous? It was my sister feeding her daughter. I have a feeling if it weren't my sister, I probably wouldn't have seen it happen for another few years.

Somehow I knew I'd always breastfeed. I'm not sure why. My mom didn't breastfeed my sister and I. It was never discussed, not because we thought it was bad, just because it wasn't the norm any longer in our society. When I got pregnant, there was never any discussion between my husband and I whether we would breastfeed or not. It was just how it was going to be.

The question was "for how long." I initially said I would get to six months. After all, that's when they begin on solids, right? Then I researched some more. Once I read that babies are to get breast milk or formula for the first year of life, that settled it. Why in the world would I give my baby formula if I was already breastfeeding and doing very well with producing enough milk for my child. If a baby needs one or the other for the entire first year, I would not substitute the best thing I can give my baby for something commercially made.

Then once a year came, we were not ready to stop nursing...not even close! Our son was never sick the entire first year (except for one bout with a snotty nose that was caused by spring pollen). The first time he got sick, it was with RSV (very strange since it's common in daycares and he stays home). He was 17 months old. Now, RSV can be very dangerous to infants and usually involves breathing treatments and sometimes hospital visits and stays. We went to our pediatrician and he gave us instructions on what to do. Within hours he was better. Now, he still had to get over the virus, but given the fact that he was older than the average age a baby gets RSV and he was still nursing, he had that much more to fight the virus with. We were so thankful that he was still nursing to help keep him healthy enough to fight the nasty virus. Also, our pediatrician is fantastic and we are thankful he did not load our son up on unnecessary antibiotics. (Our son has never had antibiotics.) We were told to use an OTC decongestant for 3 days and use a saline drop as needed. Seriously as soon as we started using that and started clearing his nose, he was better.

Now, the health thing could just been good genes (which I'd like to take credit for!) but we like to think the breast milk has a little something to do with it! Why would we cut off the most nutritious food just because we reached a certain time? Clearly our son still needs the milk because he's still nursing and I'm still producing.

I wish I could explain better why I've totally changed my view on breastfeeding in general, but I really don't have an explanation. I look at my son when he's nursing and it's what we were meant to do. God knew exactly what he was doing. I was given the ability to completely nourish another human being for 6 months (could have been longer, it's just when we introduced solids). No supplements were given at all and he thrived. I think that is one of God's most wonderful gifts. The fact that my body can continue to produce milk in response to my son's nursing is all the proof I need to know that my body was meant to do this and I will continue doing this until my son decides it's time to wean.

I believe that the time is near. My supply is very low and my son only nurses now in the mornings after he wakes and before he goes to sleep at night. Only for a few minutes and he doesn't fall sleeping nursing. The other night, my mother watched him while we were out and she put him down for the night and he didn't wake up until his normal wake time, which further strengthens my theory that the time is near. It's definitely bittersweet. On one hand, it will be nice not to have to wear a nursing tank every night to bed, but on the other, it'll be sad to know my baby is growing up that quickly!

Natural Dishwasher Detergent

I am on the quest for a more natural alternative for my dishwasher detergent. We use half the recommended amount of the commercial stuff and it leaves a powdery film on our dishes. Surely that can't be good, right? Especially when the bottle/box has a label warning about not ingesting. So after some research this is what I've come up with to try:

I'm going to mix equal parts of borax and baking soda and use it as my soap. I'm going to start with using 2 tablespoons and see how it works. I've also read that using vinegar in the rinse will help to avoid any residue. So first things first...go buy borax!

I know that the phosphates used by the majority of commercial dishwasher soap manufacturers use will be phased out by June 2010 (some already are - WalMart's brand has no phosphates), but what else will they use in place of it? I don't really want to wait to find out and be the guinea pigs for their "improved" product.

We also want to start making our own laundry detergent, but I feel that it's more important to get this taken care of because the dishwasher soap washes the dishes that our food is on that we put into our body.

I will make it, test it out and report back to you!

Now, a little blog business. I've decided to add my workouts of the day (WOD's - I personally do not like this acronym, but have started saying it just because my husband does so often!) Anyway, I plan to write my workouts down here as often as I can because although CrossFit is for everyone, it's quite intimidating to the average person to read the WOD's and get the feeling that you are just not CrossFit material! All workouts with CrossFit can be scaled for anyone, so I'll be giving you my very beginner WOD's for you to try if you so choose! And, the best part is, you can do the majority of them in your own home!

So, my workout yesterday was

- Squat 50 times (make sure you do a proper squat, heels must stay down and keep the majority of your weight on your heels. Do not round your back.) I did this one for time so I can use it to compare later. My time was 4:00 minutes.
- Front plank (get on the floor, only elbows/forearms and toes touching) Keep your body as parallel to the floor as possible. I did this 5 times for 10 seconds each time.
- Single leg lifts - lie on the floor. Lift one leg at a time. Keep your arms by your side and on the ground. If you are in better shape than me, lift both legs at once. Do 5 rounds of 5 lifts on each leg.

The best part about most of these workouts (other than being able to do them at home) is how quickly I can do them. I can put my son down for his nap and do my workout and still have plenty of time leftover to do wonderful things like put dishes away or wash clothes *said in a sarcastic tone* :)

No recipe today, sorry! Although I have several in my possession to try and report back!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

25 Burpees

Try them...I dare you.

I bet you've never heard of a burpee, unless you are familiar with CrossFit! 25 burpees for time was my workout for today. It took me 5 minutes, 33 seconds to complete them. Those that know what a burpee is must not laugh at my time! My husband does 100 burpees in 6 minutes, 30 seconds. It took me almost the same amount of time to do a quarter of what he can complete!

As much as they sucked, my total workout time today was 5 minutes, 33 seconds. That's it. Nothing else. That in itself is motivating enough to stick with CrossFit. Now, some of the other workouts take longer, but still, it's worth it. If we lived closer to the CrossFit gym, I'd definitely go to the classes. My husband has built a CrossFit gym in the garage here, so we have pretty much everything that we need. There are a few key things missing like kettle-bells, but he uses dumbbells in place of them.

For those who don't know what a burpee is you can search "burpee" and "crossfit" on youtube. There are several different versions. I'll video my husband demonstrating them and post it in a few days. It'll be the proper one according to the CrossFit competitions.

So, try it out. 100 burpees for time is a workout, but if you can't do 100, just shoot for 25. I bet you'll beat my pitiful time! I plan on doing the workout again in one month and seeing if I improved. I'll post an update when I do.

Recipe share:

Paleo/Zone chili
again, borrowed from


2 lbs. lean ground meat - we used venison

2 T Italian seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ground pepper

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 green, red, orange, or yellow bell pepper

1/2 C red wine

15 oz. can dice tomatoes, no salt (we added another can)

8 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt

4 oz. can diced green chillies (we did not add this)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes


Green onions

Italian parsley

Brown ground meat (we added a little salt and pepper to the cooking meat), drain, set aside. When finished, deglaze pan with some of the red wine. Saute the diced onion and garlic. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, diced chilies and chopped peppers. Add back the meat, and all other ingredients, and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer until ready to serve. We simmered for about 3 hours. Add a little extra water if needed to get to desired consistency. Spoon into a bowl and top with some diced green onions and chopped flat-leaf italian parsley.

*** NOTE - we added 3 cans of beans (you can use any - black, white beans, kidney beans, chili beans (rinsed). We also added some leftover shredded carrots, black beans, chopped red onion...didn't want any of it to go to waste!

I don't have the proper zone blocks listed because frankly it overwhelms me, so if you go to the website we borrowed it from, it's broken down there.
We also improvised. Chili and soup in general is a great way to rid your fridge of any leftover vegetable that you may have stored. We always seem to have half of an onion or shredded carrots or some leftover celery that's just not being eaten. We've decided that we'll probably make soup every 7-10 days and even if we don't eat it that night, we'll freeze it to have on hand.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Portion Control...a learned habit

I struggle greatly with portion control. Seriously, the other night I ate two, count them, TWO dark chocolate candy bars. At least they were dark chocolate, right? Oh, and it was New Year's Eve...celebrating right? I deserve it, right? Ugh, although they taste SO good, it's so not worth it immediately after. Wes has a saying that I despise, but love at the same time. "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels." Well, I'm not so sure I necessarily want to be skinny, but the saying still stings when I hear it or say it. Because it's true...although I think I want to change it to "Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels." When I was in shape, eating foods that weren't good for me wasn't matter how good they tasted. Because I was in the zone...I knew that immediately after I would totally regret it.

So, how do I get back to that point? I don't know really. As I mentioned before, I have several tubs of clothes packed away that I cannot fit into and I paid good money for those clothes! As my friend Anne said after having her son, "It's not an issue of vanity, but an issue of economics!" SO true. Since we're adapting our life to a less wasteful, more resourceful way, this is helping to motivate me to get into better shape so I don't have to buy another entire wardrobe at the size I am now. Which, by the way, is no fun. I hate even shopping for a shirt or pair of pants. And the bathing suit top I just had to buy the other day for our upcoming cruise...nauseating. Not just because I'm at the weight I am or the shape I'm in, but because I actually had to spend money on an article of clothing that is 3 sizes bigger than what I used to be. It was on clearance, but still $9.00 is too much money to pay for a swimsuit top when I have about 10-12 in a box packed away.

I've read somewhere that it takes anywhere from 11 days to a month to develop a habit. So that's my goal for the first two weeks of the year. To limit the portions I allow myself when eating meals or snacks. I know I can do it, I've done it before. I actually counted calories once. I tracked it with an online calorie counter so it made it look nice and pretty. I was aiming for 2000 calories a day because of still breastfeeding. It was so hard to do that first week, but guess what? I lost three pounds! one week...eating 2000 calories! I was not only eating less calories obviously, but choosing better foods. Who says you have to only eat 1200 calories to lose weight? We need to focus more on WHAT those calories are.

Our society has continuously encouraged larger and larger portion sizes. We all know how fast food restaurants serve. But what about the nicer restaurants? Ever been to a steakhouse? Fine dining or Texas Roadhouse, it doesn't really matter because they often have 12-16 ounce steaks on their menu. What does the average person need with a steak that big? How does their body handle it? And that's probably not the only thing that person eats at that meal, I'm willing to bet. I'm sure there is a baked potato on the side, broccoli if we're lucky and I'm sure there's always the fried onion appetizer before.

My family has done pretty well in sharing meals when we go out. The other day, my husband, son, niece and I all shared one entree and one sushi roll and it was more than enough. We're also going to attempt to adopt the practice of as soon as our food is brought to the table, immediately box up everything over what we should eat in one sitting. Then we've also stretched our dollar that way because we then have at least one, possibly two, meals for the next day's lunch!

So, portion control is going to be my first focus as far as eating healthy goes. Yes, I'm still going to be choosing healthy, natural recipes and increasing our veggie servings, but I think portion control is a key factor is healthier eating. Basically we're going to use our hand as our guide.

Open hand with fingers spread - veggies
Palm of hand - protein
Quarter of palm - good fats

Note - we do not have grains/starches. The Paleo/Zone diet Wes likes to follow doesn't really focus on it. Although on the Zone diet, it does allow for grains, but the Paleo doesn't. Wes really likes the huge focus on the veggies. But, for breakfast we will do oatmeal. Never instant, always old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. We're still deciding on what we think is right for our diet. We are not telling anyone to eliminate anything from their diet, only to do your research and read as much as you can and decide for yourself!

Recipe share:
borrowed from

Paleo Mediterranean Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (trimmed, cut in half and pounded)
almond meal - we used wheat bran (just don't use white flour!)
14 oz can quartered artichokes - drained if in oil
dried parsley
14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2.25 can sliced black olives
1 yellow onion
8 ounces of mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth (make your own one day!)
2 tsp olive oil
2-3 T fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix about 1/2 C almond meal with 2 T dried parsley.
After pounding chicken breasts, sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with almond meal mixture
Heat olive oil in a skillet
Brown chicken breasts on both sides - about 3 minutes per side
Add to baking dish when finished
After all chicken breasts are browned, add chicken broth to skillet and deglaze pan
Add all other ingredients to pan and bring to a quick low boil, then pour over chicken
Sprinkle top with fresh Italian parsley and bake for about 30 minutes.

I'd give this 2-3 stars out of 5. I probably won't be making this again. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my favorite either. The chicken will be fine leftover chopped in a salad or wrap though. I'd rather have the Mustard Agave Chicken again!

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Before" pictures...a scary beginning

Happy New Year!

I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a great year for my family! We have so many possibilities in front of us and that's exciting! We haven't officially set goals. I'm not sure if we really will. We have a lot of fun things planned - a 7-day cruise this month (first time we'll be away from our son - yikes!), several CrossFit competitions for Wes, a CrossFit certification class for Wes so he can become a coach, a move back to our home in Savannah, a possible vacation to Michigan in the late summer with my in-laws (when it's 100+ degrees here), continuing to watch Smith learn and grow and become even more wonderful, watch our friend's children do the same and just continuing to find good, wholesome, natural ways to improve our quality of life.

So, how should I start the new year off so I can gauge my progress with my health and fitness level? "Before" pictures, of course. Doesn't that sound awful? I'm putting it off, but will definitely be doing it today and NO, I will NOT be posting these. :) Perhaps in 6 months when I'm lean and confident I'll then share them, but I'm thinking probably no! Pictures tell no lies and are often motivation for many to want to lose a couple or 20 pounds. I plan to take my photos weekly and in the same clothes so I can really tell the difference. It's funny...I took weekly photos of myself when I was pregnant so I could see my belly grow. That was so much more fun that this!

I also have my "skinny" jeans. I'm still deciding if I should use these as my goal. I could care less about size, I just want to feel good in my clothes and those jeans represent a time in my life where I was very active and felt great with a lot of energy. I did put them on the other day and the button and button hold did not even come close to meeting! I think I'll also take a picture of me in those weekly.

As far as my actual weight - I'm not sure if I should go by my scale weight. I'll keep up with it because it'll be nice to see the number go down, but as far as the goal goes - I think it's just to get back into my 3 HUGE rubbermaid containers full of a past wardrobe of mine!

I'm going to weigh myself weekly only....or I'll try....perhaps I'll have Wes hide the scale and only bring it out on Sunday's. Ugh, I'm getting a sick feeling to my stomach. Why in the world did I choose to share this on this public blog? Now I really have to uphold my goals. Blah.

Off to weigh and take a picture and do my 3rd CrossFit workout - my legs are still rubber from my first workout a week ago - squats. Only squats. Without weights. Perhaps I'll get to the point I can actually use weights by summer...or at least the end of the year.