Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

Real Food Challenge/Paleo 101

I’m taking the 7-Day Real Food Challenge with Mary’s Kitchen. (If you’d like to catch up, start here.) To tell the truth, I had overhauled my eating already, beginning around mid-June, and some posts had been floating around in my head; I thought the Challenge was the perfect time to pin me down! I’ve found some good resources that have helped.

PALEO DIET

A strict paleo diet doesn’t include any dairy or grains, and though I’m not quite willing to go that far, I am using a modified paleo diet. (I love my rice and beans and half-and-half in my coffee!) With my wheat allergy, their no-grain philosophy has given me some good alternatives, and I’ve learned a lot about nutrition by reading up on this diet. The resources I’ve used have talked at length about the connection between what they’ve termed the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and many, many of the health problems that plague our country: obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, lupus, ADD, etc. I understood enough to see that most nutrition absorption occurs in our small intestine, and when we try to process foods that we were not designed to process, (especially all the added chemicals!) inflammation results– and that inflammation affects our immune system and wreaks havoc. Paleo also stresses blood sugar regulation and the dangers of huge spikes resulting from processed carbs and sugars.
Practical Paleo

by Diane Sanfilippo

This book was recommended by my friend who has lost a lot of weight by changing what she was eating. Like me, she does more of a Real Food diet than strict paleo. What I liked about the book was that the author took all her scientific knowledge and put it in easy-to-follow, practical applications. She has a good website, too, called Balanced Bites. In addition to teaching about how paleo diets work in your body, she has 30-day menu plans designed to address particular health needs like high blood pressure and cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, cancer recovery, and others.

Mark’s Daily Apple website Blackboard grok2

Read his “Primal Blueprint” in a nutshell on his website. To put it in an even smaller shell, it’s this:

  • Diet–Eat things that occur in nature and avoid poisons.
  • Exercise– Move around a lot at a slow pace (Think hunter-gatherer); run really fast once in a while (Think being chased by lions); and lift heavy things.
  • Lifestyle– Play, get plenty of sleep, get sunshine every day, avoid trauma, and use your mind.

After bingeing a couple of days reading everything I could find about Paleo diets, I found this TED talk on “Debunking the paleo myth!” Dr. Warinner, an archeological scientist, basically says that they are not based on science. However, she says there are a lot of good things about the diet: (If you can’t watch the whole video, please at least watch the 3-point wrap up beginning at 17:00.)

  • Dietary diversity: Vary your food types as much as possible– the SAD is headed toward fewer, not more foods: wheat, corn, and soy.
  • Fresh, natural foods: We don’t really know the effect chemical additives and preservatives on our bodies, but we are inundating them with chemicals that we were not designed to ingest.
  • Whole foods: Consume foods in as close to their natural state as possible, including “their fiber and roughage, and everything.” When we eat processed foods, we get far too many calories in a very compact form, and miss the other important parts that tell us we’re full, slow down the absorption of nutrients in our gut, and regulate our blood sugar. This contributes to obesity and other health problems.

For me the game changer from this whole video was the information about sugar and how our bodies are designed to absorb it. To get the equivalent amount of sugar in a 32 ounce soda, can you guess how much sugar cane you’d have to eat? Anyone? EIGHT AND A HALF FEET! As Dr. Warinner says, there is no possible way you could eat that much sugar cane– even if you really, really wanted to! And now we can get the equivalent amount of sugar in about 20 minutes.

If you want to improve your diet, but all this real food/paleo diet information is overwhelming, simply make a few simple changes.

  • Begin reading labels and if there are more than 5 ingredients, don’t buy it.
  • If you don’t know what some of the ingredients are, don’t buy it. (They are probably highly processed additives to cheaply add or enhance flavor, or else preservatives.) Instead of buying frozen veggies in sauce, buy plain frozen veggies and make your own. Or eat them plain, with some natural, full-fat butter!
  • Avoid foods that are no-fat or “lite.” These usually have other things added to make up for what’s taken out, and they are worse for you than the real stuff. If you are limiting calories, just skip them altogether or limit them.

7 day real food challenge Mary's healthy meals

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7-Day Real Food Challenge

Events have been conspiring to make me more and more aware of my health, including my diet, weight, and exercise. I need to lose at least 20 lbs and have been “trying” to lose 5 for about 5 years.

I saw a good friend for the first time in several months and she had lost a significant amount of weight– she looked great! Of course I asked what she had changed, and she said she was eating a combination of paleo and real food. Was she exercising? Not really. She said as she eliminated bad food and allergens from her diet, she felt better and just naturally moved more, but she had not been doing a cardio routine or anything like that. She recommended a book called Practical Paleo.

Then my son began losing weight. He’s always been big– he weighed 9 lbs when he was born; always wore 2-3 sizes larger than his age; was a head taller than most kids in his class. But his weight had gotten way too high and he was having high blood pressure issues at a very young age. (He’s 27.) High blood pressure runs in Mr X’s side of the family, but not beginning that early.

So he just decided it was time to do something about it. I’m a terrible mother and really didn’t notice until he had lost between 30-40 lbs. (In my defense, he lives a couple of hours away and we see him only every month or 2, and he would always wear baggy clothes, so it was hard to tell.)

What was his secret? Cardio and “if man made it, don’t eat it.”

And in May I’d gone for an annual checkup and my cholesterol was a bit high. The doctor said it needed to come down, so try diet and exercise, have it tested again in the summer, and if it didn’t lower I would need to take medicine. I’m determined NOT to do that!

So the past month I’ve been working toward a real food/paleo/no allergen diet, and “moving” (I like that term better than “exercising”) more than I have been before. Then, in that funny way God has of working things together for our good, I found Mary’s Kitchen’s 7 Day Real Food Challenge. I don’t even remember how I found her! But I thought participating would be good incentive for me to stick with it and also help me do it better. It officially kicks off tomorrow. I’ll be doing posts this week about what I’ve learned.

Wanna join me?

Mary's Kitchen

Here are links to some good info on Mary’s blog:

Eating Real Food is Easy

Details and Recipes: 7-Day Real Food Challenge

What About Liquids? Our 7-Day Real Food Challenge

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Auntie Em’s Tropical Fruit Salad

tropical fruit saladFor a girlie salad luncheon there is nothing more fitting than a fruit salad– it’s sweet (yay sweets!) but relatively healthy, with no added sugar, gluten, or processed foods. (Yay for those of us who are “trying to avoid cookies!”)

I just cut up lots of fresh fruits: watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, and pineapple. Try to cut them all in similar size chunks. Mix together and you have a beautiful, sweet, healthy dish!

Shake it up with a dressing of some kind, or whipped cream– or add nuts or coconut. We like it plain, though!

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Auntie Em’s Easy Microwave Corn on the Cob

microwave corn on the cob

Did you see that pin floating around Pinterest about microwaving corn on the cob in the husk? How the silk would slip right off? I was skeptical! I’ve dug little strings of cornsilk out of boiled corn plenty of times, only to leave enough to floss my teeth with!

But in the spirit of adventure (and the fact that the ears were 16 cents apiece!) I decided to try it.

First I peeled off the thick, dark green layers, leaving only a thin covering. See the outline of the kernels?

image

Next I rinsed them off and cut the outside husk off.

microwave corn on the cob

Put them on a damp paper towel on a plate in alternate directions:

microwave corn on the cob

I microwaved on high for 2 minutes; turned them over and did 2 more minutes. Let them cool in the microwave about 5 minutes (so you can handle them), then peel the husk off. The moisture holds the silks together, stuck to the husk!

I like mine with butter– ahh, simple, golden deliciousness!

Microwave corn on the cob

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