Labor Day Cooking

labor dayToday is Labor Day, and I’ve been hard at work. As per usual, I am doing the opposite of what I am supposed to be. 🙂 Due to the fact that today is our “Sunday,” I’ve been prepping my meals for the week. This week is a short week, but I definitely made enough food for an army. I cooked Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein, Marinated these chicken thighs, Breakfast hash made with sausage, sweet potato, and green pepper (to which I will add three over easy eggs to each morning), Buffalo Chicken Wings for the OSU game tonight, Pad Thai (which was an epic failure), Strawberry Fields Forever Salads (recipe below) and Chopped Salad inspired by the Northstar Cafe (recipe below). I prep the salads all but the dressing in containers and they do seem to last all week long. Whew! All of this with clean up took bout 2.5 hours. I love doing batch cooking like this because I pretty much have breakfasts and lunches (and even dinners for myself) set for the entire week.

Two weeks ago the school semester started back up and that means back to exercise classes for me since I am a member of the Ohio State Faculty and Staff Fitness Program, which is basically a long way of saying a cheap gym membership with lots of personal attention. It is a great program and I love the benefits that working at Ohio State provides. Now, I do Yoga on Tuesday’s and a combined TRX and Kettlebell class on Thursday’s. The first week of kettlebell class kicked my ass literally. I think I was sore for at least 3 days straight, but I went back for a second helping last week and I was barely sore! I love lifting weights and the instructor even told me that I was “like an expert at kettlebells”. I posted this on Facebook, because in my entire life, no one has ever told me in a fitness/gym atmosphere that I was even marginally good at anything. After staying the same weight all through August this was just the boost I needed to keep at my goals!!

Strawberry Fields Salad



Chopped, roasted almonds

Goat cheese

Balsamic vinaigrette (I omitted the brown sugar)


Chopped Salad

Chopped salad mix

Chopped bacon

Blue cheese (not paleo but blue cheese and goat cheese don’t seem to bother me)

Chopped almonds

Tessamae’s Green Goddess dressing

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Staying Paleo on Vacation

The Neon Museum

The Neon Museum

Well! I am back from the Petty’s Vegas Vacation! My husband and I have gone to Las Vegas for the past two years in a row because we had Southwest Airline points and got some awesome hotel deals. This would be my first trip since I started my “hardcore” diet. I think that everyone does it a little differently, but I will share with you my approach for tackling the 4 days and staying on track with my health goals.

The first thing I did was decide before I ever left, what rules I was going to follow and what I was going to stick to. My whole approach to this thing, this time around is to incorporate changes that will be sustainable. Here are the main rules that I stick to on an everyday basis, and then how I adapted them for vacation.

Always                                        Vacation

  1. No gluten                             1. No gluten (this was a big one, no compromises!!)
  2. No dairy.                              2. Dairy ONLY if it was something of good quality
  3. No sugar (except fruit)      3. Minimal sugar
  4. No seed oils                         4. Seed oils are almost impossible to eliminate.
  5. No legumes.                        5. Not going to be worried if peanuts were in my trail mix

How did I do?:

I stuck to all of my vacation rules!! The only time I ingested gluten (that I know of/can tell) is when I ate some honey roasted peanuts on the way home. I know I should’ve read the package, but I totally didn’t, and sure enough there was wheat starch in there. I did have a tiny bit of raw sugar and cream in my coffee each morning, but I missed it so much and I was on vacation after all!!

As far as meals, I always googled the gluten free menu of wherever we were going so I could find a few things ahead of time to make the restaurant choice. I won’t bore you with listing all of my meals, but I had a lot of burgers without the bun or a lettuce wrap for lunches and then dinners were pretty easy to navigate and only get meat/veggies. I did have Pad Thai once, but that has rice noodles, so still applies to the rules! I did however have a Thai iced tea there as well, which contains sweetened condensed milk, but it was SO GOOD. That was like my treat of the trip!

I didn’t notice really any ill effects from my variation in diet except for maybe the normal “I am off of my whole schedule” thing that happens. My husband was also sick for part of the trip, so there was also the added stress of that.


  1. Make choices based on pre-set rules before you ever leave.
  2. Take some snacks that you know you can have so you won’t be tempted by the snickers bar that your husband buys at Hudson news (I took Lara Bars, cashews, and coconut chips).
  3. Google your restaurant of choice’s gluten-free menu before you arrive.
  4. Don’t stress about getting every little detail according to plan. That stress is worse than having some cream in your coffee!
  5. Make educated choices if you are going to cheat. Ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?” “Will I feel like crap after?” If the answer to that is yes, then, “is it worth feeling like crap?” If you are ok with it, then enjoy yourself, you are on vacation!!

PS. I can’t believe it has been a whole month since I’ve posted! Let’s resume our regularly scheduled post per week eh? 😉


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Meal Planning 101

meal planningMy key to success in this whole thing can be summarized in two words. Meal planning. Meal planning is a great thing to implement even if you aren’t doing a paleo style diet. Meal planning can save you a buck or two, keep you from wasting food, and just overall help your sanity.

I typically do my meal plan from Sunday-Saturday every week on Friday’s. I use a printed out weekly calendar, my Passion Planner, or a template from online. Each person is unique so you will have to find what works for you. Here is a good place to start. I do my grocery shopping on Saturday’s typically and then use Sunday as a day to cook.

The first step to my meal plan is to write down any activities I have going on in the evenings, this will dictate what type of meal I need to plan for that day. For example, my daughter has gymnastics on Tuesday evenings, so I usually plan leftovers or a crock pot meal for that day so that dinner is ready whenever my husband and I get home separately.

Then I usually start with dinners. I plan out each dinner and determine if there will be enough leftovers from each meal for lunches. If not, I plan to cook 2-3 things on Sunday so that I will have enough food for my lunches.

It is a good idea to make your grocery list at the same time that you write down your meal plan. That way you can make sure you have the ingredients for each recipe, especially if you will be cooking a new recipe. Another helpful hint, is if you try a new recipe and like it, move it to a “Yummy” Pinterest board or keep a list handy of recipes you love. That way you can incorporate these into future meal plans.

I have also used this service: Once a Month Meals. This is service that will give you a shopping list, prep list, cook day list for once a month cooking. All meals are cooked and then placed in the freezer and then can be thawed for easy cooking. Users are able to choose their meal plan type (ex: Paleo, Vegetarian, Kid-Friendly, Slow cooker, etc) and the the generator will give you recipes according to your chosen criteria. It is a subscribe type service though, so you must pay for it each month. If it interests you just put a note on your calendar to cancel it in one month and just pay for one month to try it out. It is really nice to have dinner ready in 10-15 minutes when you get home from a long day.

After I have dinner and lunch figured out, I’m basically done. I typically eat the same thing for breakfast everyday, but if you need a little variety in your life, you can plan for breakfast as well.

Here is my meal plan for the week of 7/26-8/1.

Breakfasts: 3 eggs fried in coconut oil with chorizo/breakfast sausage link, and sauteed spinach or cabbage.

Lunch: Leftovers from dinners.


Sunday-Pork chops (recipe below), steamed broccoli, fried zucchini, and applesauce.

Monday: Paleo Tex-Mex Casserole and Tacos for the rest of the family.

Tuesday: Chicken Marsala

Wednesday: Paleo Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Burgers and sweet potato fries.

Thursday: Bacon wrapped chicken and whatever vegetables are going bad in the fridge.

Friday: Eat out!

Saturday: Vegas baby!

Hope this inspires you to meal plan on your own! Pinterest is a great tool. Feel free to check out mine:

Best Pork Chops ever recipe:

Place pork chops in a gallon zip lock bag in a bowl. Pour in 1 T of Apple Cider vinegar, 1T of salt, and cover with water. Let marinate over night. The next day, drain pork chops, rinse with water, pat dry. Coat each side with salt, pepper and paprika, cook in your favorite oil (coconut, olive, avacado, ghee) on each side until done. 🙂 Delicious.

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My Paleo Diet


“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” except for grains, sugar, and diary.

Paleo: Above, is essentially the paleo diet. According to Wikipedia, the Paleolithic diet definition is “a diet based on the food humans’ ancient ancestors might likely have eaten, such as meat, nuts and berries, and excludes food to which they had not yet become familiar, like dairy.” I hesitate to even USE the term paleo because it ignites a fiery, passionate rage in certain individuals. My definition of “paleo” is eliminate inflammatory causing foods (grains, dairy, processed food) and see how you feel. If you do this for at least 30 days, then start to reintroduce foods back in, if they make you feel like you just went on a bender, don’t eat them. Simple right? With that being said, paleo is the closest “term” to which I can describe what I am eating. I could say “grain free, diary free,” I could say, “elimination diet,” Primal (primal is more supportive of eating full fat dairy, in my opinion), Caveman Diet, Ancestral eating, whatever you want to call, many of the same principles hold true, so I’m just going to roll with it.

So what do you eat?! I get asked this question a million times. I might start referring people to my Instagram feed. 😉 Primarily, I eat vegetables, lots of vegetables (Stacy from Paleo Parents created the #morevegetablesthanavegetarian). I eat meat, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Vegetables? But I HATE! vegetables! I really did too, but guess what? When you stop eating “fake food” and sugar your taste buds change. As a kid, I HATED onions, and the other day I found myself eating caramelized onions on top of a hamburger and it was so. freakin. good. and sweet. Start with what you do like and then eventually try new things!  What does that actually look like on a day to day basis? I’ll give you a quick snapshot of one of my most common days.

Breakfast: 3 eggs fried in coconut oil, 1 sausage link, all on top of a bed of sauteed spinach.

Lunch: Leftover Buffalo Chicken Pasta. Always leftovers, in fact sometimes I make two-three extra meals on Sunday just to have for lunches, in case I get really hungry for dinner and eat the shit out of something one night. Buffalo Chicken Pasta, you say? I thought noodles were a no no? Simple, replace your noodles with spaghetti squash, or zoodles (zucchini noodles) or sweet potato noodles. There are oodles of sources for “noodles,” my friends! 🙂

Dinner: Meat and vegetables, like steak and asparagus and a sweet potato, or chicken and broccoli and salad. Millions of recipes here, we’ll get there, don’t you worry. Sometimes my delving into the culinary rabbit hole leaves the rest of my family looking at their plates, like “Ew, Mom, WTF?” Usually in those cases, I will switch out a portion for something I know they will eat. Occasionally, this results in me being a short order cook, but we are a work in progress over here.

Snacks: I should totally be snacking on vegetables and carrots, but I love ranch dressing as a dip, and I haven’t yet mastered the art of recreating ranch, Paleo style. I have tried numerous recipes, but none live up to the hype, so I am still searching. For snacks, I will usually grab a small piece of fruit, maybe coconut milk yogurt, some cashews or mixed nuts (no peanuts on paleo!). As a special treat, my local grocery store now carries potato chips that are fried in coconut oil. Potatoes aren’t recommended though if you have issues with insulin resistance/weight though. To tell you the truth, I don’t really snack all that much. If you are needing to snack, you most like are either not eating enough fat with your meals (fat is good, it fills you up!! as long as it’s the right kind) or you didn’t eat enough period at your last meal.

Issues: There are several issues that can be raised when embarking on a Paleo journey. The first of which is cost. Let’s face facts, in today’s society, processed food is cheap. I’ve never actually done the math, but if you factor in your cooking time, I think it is probably most likely cheaper to eat a McDonald’s breakfast than it is to make yourself my delicious and healthy breakfast above. My truth is, the Paleo diet does seem to be a little bit more expensive than a regular grain based diet. However, feeding yourself foods that are going to either make you sick or perpetuate your existing illness, isn’t really a savings in my mind. I believe that every penny spent on a vegetable or protein is far better than a penny spent paying a doctor or pharmacy. There are plenty of ways to structure your meal plan and grocery budget to make smarter choices. Google searching “paleo” will lead you to many of websites that will say you NEED to eat grass fed beef, and pasture raised pork and chickens. While this is obviously the smarter choice, at this point I certainly can’t afford to eat all grass fed. I try to buy leaner cuts of conventional meat. No, it’s not “perfect” but it is certainly better than the way I was eating previously.

The second main issue is time. If you aren’t eating a lot of processed foods (and NO fast food), that means you are cooking a lot of the meals yourself. This is pretty time consuming I’ll admit. The main way around this is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. I think Jillian Michaels used to have a sign up on The Biggest Loser that said “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and regardless of my dislike of that show, that is true in this case. I work full time, have a four year old and a two year old, a house, a husband, I’m a 3/4 time student, and I like a lot of TV shows. I’m not tooting my own horn here, just saying that if I have time, you can find some too.

Bottom line: The paleo diet is a term for a whole host of different topics that I plan to hopefully delve into on this blog. This is a basic overview, and if you have any questions or something doesn’t make sense, feel free to leave me a comment and I probably will send you more information and links than you would ever care to read in response. 😉 This type of diet is beneficial for a lot of people because it eliminates inflammation in your body, which is the root cause of most of our modern day illnesses (like many that I have/had).

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Why I am Here

 “The future is no place to place your better days” -Dave Matthews lyric

Where to start? There are so many different reasons why I am starting this blog, but mainly I want to share with my little corner of the internet what I am thinking and feeling right now at the beginning of the road (I hate the term “journey” but I guess that’s really what this is).

On April 24, 2015, I started down my current “twisty” path. In the weeks previous, I had a mildly scary endometrial biopsy result that prompted me to finally take action. That along with my fasting blood glucose sitting at around 108 (pre-diabetes). With the help of a naturopathic doctor, I started a plan for healing. I am going to be writing a series of posts to fill in the back story, but for now those are the key points to the “why” of why I am here. This whole thing is not about weight loss for me, it is about seeking health and wellness/feeling better about myself. With that being said, reading people’s stories, weight is always what people want to see, and so I will use it as one of the parameters to gauge my progress. There is SO much more to this than an number on a scale though, and I want you to be aware of that. I am 5’4″ tall and on that day I weighed in at 230.8lbs. I seemed to have misplaced my measurements from that day, but I know that my waist was a whopping 45in and my hips were ~42in. Bust was 42in. I was wearing the sizes 20 and 2X in most clothing.

I had the following “diagnosed” medical conditions, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), GERD (acid reflux), allergies, frequent yeast infections, and acne. I caught almost every germ that my 4 and 2 year old brought home from daycare. I had no energy and was often depressed. After the biopsy results came in, it was the epiphany moment that made me realize I needed to change. Change is hard, but cancer would be a lot harder, so I dived in.

The Plan: The naturopath suspected I had Leaky Gut, potentially SIBO, and put me on a strict Whole30 style Paleo diet for 90 days at minimum. For those of you who don’t know, this type of diet would eliminate all grains, all dairy, all processed food, and all refined sugar (basically all sugar except for fruit). She added in the supplements of a multivitamin that had bio- available forms of some of the B vitamins, chromium, Vitamin D, and the herb Berberine. I will most likely be posting about all of this stuff individually, but for now, I wanted you to have the bones of the plan.

Is it working?: Currently, I am a few days shy of those original 90 days. My weight today is 213.4, and I haven’t measured myself, but I know I have lost at least 3in in my waist and 2in each in my bust and hips. I’m currently fitting into sizes 16 and XL. I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. My brain fog has cleared, I have more energy, I am generally more upbeat about things (most days lol). I have stopped taking my acid reflux medication, which I had been on for 10+ years. In the past three months, I’ve been to the gym, tried Crossfit, started doing Yoga, tried Zumba, and actually WANT to be physically active. For anyone that knows me IRL (in real life) that right there is just plain amazing! 🙂

I have been reading Paleo/Primal/Ancestral Health blogs for the past 5 years, and to me the beginning/where people start is always the most interesting. It was always those posts that I could relate to the most, and is what inspired me to start this blog. I also think it will be a benefit to me to keep track of my story and feelings to look back on and adapt to different things that are working or not. In doing this, if I can help myself that will be wonderful, but if I can help just one other person, it will make all these words worth it.

I love comments, so if you are here reading, tell me about it! Even if just to say hi.


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