So, I want to start the Paleo but have no idea where to start

In all the research and studying I have done on my road to working on getting on the full Paleo diet, I have seen so many people “debunking” the claims of the fad. That can easily be said for people just falling into the fad of the diet or the people interested in trying to lose weight, but for the group of medical issues I have, it works and I look for structure.

If you’re interested in starting down the paleo, you may have questions. Is this ok? Is that permitted? Why is it so restrictive? Can I have a cupcake?

Well, it’s not as restrictive as it seems. The majority of the foods are not needed (no one actually needs candy, Oreos or packaged foods). Grains can be an exception, but they can also cause inflammation. On the Paleo, all grains are on the “no” list, even quinoa and amaranth, rice or corn. Corn can be a very problematic grain.

Soy is another problem. It feels like it’s in every dairy or gluten free product but it’s one of the top three foods to avoid. (dairy, soy and gluten are the big 3 in a lot of diet plans), not to mention soy can harm your thyroid.

Here is a break down of what you need to do, what you and and can’t have and some end tips.

Foods You Can Eat

I’ll start with the most positive sounding first.

You can have meats- deer, pork, cow, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish- all that’s good. Wild caught and grassfed are best, but others are good for people with lower budgets.

You can have vegetables- basically all vegetables are permitted.

You can have fruits- once again, fruit is permitted on the diet.

Nuts, with the exception of peanuts are permitted. Peanuts are NOT included.

Herbs, spices- just about all are approved, just watch out for mixes. If they have preservatives and other

There is a whole line of frozen dinners that are specifically Paleo friendly, but they are pricier than normal TV dinners.

 

Foods not included

Grains- even the gluten free grains, none are included on this diet and that includes corn.

Legumes (including soy and peas, lentils, beans, etc)

Processed junk foods- this one goes without saying but the “foods” with tons of ingredients are not included in this diet. If it’s in a box but you’re able to identify every ingredient as a whole food (like TV dinners), they might be included.

 

What is the best way to start?

The best way to start is to start cooking everything at home. Not everyone has time to fully cook breakfast, lunch and dinner every day- that’s where batch cooking on your days off comes in. Slow cookers are also your best friend.

If you take all your meat for a week and cook it on your day off, portion everything out and freeze each thing in separate microwavable friendly tupperware, it saves time and the days you’re too tired or don’t have time to cook you just toss one in the microwave and cook it like a tv dinner.

The best way to get started when starting down the Paleo path, is to grab a couple Paleo cookbooks and meal plan your first 2 weeks grocery list and your next 2 weeks grocery list. Write down the recipes, go through the ingredients and for fresh produce, buy only what you will need for the 1-2 weeks (depending on if you shop weekly, bi weekly or monthly)

Don’t forget to add in deserts or snacks. There are tons of Paleo recipes for desserts.

Ending Tips

– don’t stress if you “slip up”

-remember, this diet path isn’t for everyone but it can really help your overall well being if you have medical conditions that respond to food

-you may want to talk to your doctor to see what you need to supplement before starting any strict diet

-don’t treat this as a diet, pretend it’s a lifestyle you’re choosing

-don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the “do not eat” list

-keep in mind that not all diets work for everyone- your best friend could feel amazing but you could end up on prescription supplements, we all need different foods.

-this is great as an elimination diet if you’re dealing with food intolerance

-there are tons of websites, books and cookbooks- the food doesn’t have to be boring.

 

*This is the second in a series I’m working on dealing with starting and going on the Paleo diet. I’m also in the process of putting together a “shopping” list of sorts to get started walking down this dietary path.*

If you have any suggestions for anything I missed, feel free to leave it in the comments.

 

 

 

 

Beginner Guide to Going Gluten Free

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac, allergy or are starting an elimination diet to see if gluten is a problem, you need to keep in mind- no matter if you’re sensitive or intolerant, gluten is all or nothing. You either eat a normal diet or eliminate ALL gluten. Just like dairy, there is gluten hidden in a lot of foods and in medications.

It typically takes 1-3 months eliminating to fully test out how the food specifically makes you feel.

Going off gluten means cutting ALL wheat, rye and barley. With barley comes eliminating “malt” anything as well. The concept of eliminating wheat alone tends to feel overwhelming at first, but there are many options on the market to replace what you normally love eating. There are also tons of online resources and gluten free groups on Facebook.

I first eliminated gluten from my diet in June of 2017. I stayed off until November, re-added then couldn’t deal with being sick so much and have been strict since January 2018.

What can you eat?

I’ll start easy

You can eat fruits, vegetables, meats,

most grains (amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, nut flours like almond meal/almond flour, coconut flour, etc), most dairy products (and most chocolate brands have a gluten free label- but be careful. Hershey’s bars with almonds are safe but Hershey’s kisses with almonds aren’t, so it can get tricky at times- Hershey’s typically labels their candy if its gluten free)

You can also eat a lot of other stuff but I would recommend looking for the “gluten free” label. It’s typically safe to assume that you will get sick if you eat something labeled “no gluten containing ingredients but may contain traces of gluten” or any other way of saying “may contain traces.” It depends on your sensitivity (if you’re allergic or have Celiac you may want to fully avoid to be safe).

The “May contain traces” is a warning that it may or may not be cross contaminated, even if they make it without gluten ingredients. If it’s processed on the same belt or in the same space as gluten containing ingredients it could have residual gluten. If you’re not celiac but have an intolerance, it could be hit or miss.

Foods that aren’t labeled gluten free may or may not be safe. My best recommendation is to stick with the people who label until you really know what you’re doing.

There are also some very good resources (and I’m working on adding a page with different candies and other foods that are fact checked as gluten free on this site for a resource)

One of the main sites I visit is Celiac.org.They also have a forum that has been so beneficial to me personally, I’m not a member but most products have been asked about at some point.

 

 

What can I not eat?

You can’t eat anything with wheat, rye, barley (so anything with the word “malt” is also out) or spelt. The main well known parts are wheat, rye and barley but since spelt is very closely related to wheat, it reacts to people a lot like wheat does.

Just because it’s only three grains, doesn’t mean you’re in the clear to stay away from pasta, bread and other items made with grains. Gluten is kind of the glue that holds breads and baked foods together so it is used in many other things- gravy mixes, processed foods and meals, soups and soup mixes, even a lot of pasta sauces and condiments can be hidden sources. That’s why it’s usually safer to buy substitutes that are specifically made to be gluten free versions until you get the diet change down and learn what unlabeled foods are safe.

Also- stay away from oatmeal unless it’s specifically labeled “gluten free.” A lot of the rolled oats are rolled in wheat (or whole grain)

Avoid anything labeled as “whole grain” because that includes wheat

Be careful when it comes to “no gluten containing products but may contain trace amounts”

That warning is usually about cross contamination. It depends on your severity- if you’re Celiac, it’s best to avoid. If you have a serious intolerance, it’s also best to avoid. If it’s a minor sensitivity the choice is yours.

What if I’m on a Budget?

If you’re on a tight budget, going with frozen vegatables and fruits help. They last longer than normal produce and one bag is only .84 and can be a good side dish for a whole family of four.

Buying meats on clearance, some clearance produce also work. I mentioned this in the Paleo on a budget post, but I hardly ever buy meat at normal price. I always buy Manager Special then freeze it as soon as I get home.

If you’re a baker, like I am, you’ll miss baked foods more than anything. If you look hard enough, you can find gluten free all purpose baking flours cheaper than buying a bunch of white rice, brown rice, almond, coconut and other special flours.

I use Walmart’s Equate brand all purpose baking flour- it’s the closest to normal flour I have found and is only 3.00 in stores.

Stick with mostly foods naturally free of gluten at first. If you’re on a budget, the specialty replacement items are the budget killers. A buggy full of produce, meats and (if you do dairy) dairy products won’t kill your budget as fast as filling it up with empty calorie replacements.

Make your own broth, stock and bone broth

Batch cook meals

Eating gluten free on a budget is very similar to eating paleo (or any other way) on a budget- the best way is to go with sales, buy natural, shop weekly and prepare a shopping list with a full meal plan including snacks.

 

Other Tips to Starting this Journey

Join online support groups- you can find so much help in Facebook groups. There are people who have been eating that way for years, decades, months and days. All you have to do is post and you will have tons of tips for whatever you’re trying to do.

Follow Gluten free magazines and blogs on Facebook or follow the actual websites

Pinterest has pins for everything. They are a great source of gluten free substitutes and recipes

Remember- there is no such thing as “just a little gluten” this is all or nothing.

Following a traditional gluten free diet is not a good way to lose weight, in fact, there is so much sugar and other bad added to traditional subs that healthy people tend to gain. On one hand, gluten free causes wider awareness of what you’re eating BUT if you stick with highly processed, you may end up gaining (good thing if you’re Celiac or have other underweight issues, but if you’re condition is causing you to hold weight- it’s not a good thing)

I’ll be doing more posts about gluten free, dairy free, paleo and other diets along the same path.

 

 

Let your kids celebrate St Patty’s Day with these fun worksheets

Brought to you by education.com, a great resource for fun educational worksheets.

If you’re looking for a fun activity for your young kids and love St Patrick’s Day, check out this crossword puzzle. The answer sheet is included and if you like this, feel free to check them out for hundreds of other worksheets and children’s activities.

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Get ready for St. Patrick’s Day by finding the words in this word search! Check out Education.com’s learning resources for hundreds of fun games, activities, and worksheets!

Allergy Friendly Recommendations

Disclaimer, this post has some affiliate links, I will get a small commission for the links but I will only post brands and links that can be trusted- I am specially searching for items I have, in fact, used. I also promise I will not be doing these too often.

If you’re like me, you need to keep allergy/intolerance friendly snacks around.
I lucked out with having one child who is able to eat normal foods but Enjoy Life has been a lifesaver for me with my youngest. Every product we have purchased has been a winner. The chocolate chips and chocolate candy bars have been a regular in the house. I use the chocolate chips as snacks lol

I cannot give my daughter the same foods over and over but she’s not a huge breakfast person. We found these breakfast bars- easy to eat on the go (school drop off or on the way to grocery shop) and delicious.

Of course, all children LOVE waffles and pancakes. Enjoy Life also has these for a fast pre-drop off breakfast. Great for the whole family.

You also have to have snacks. These nut and seed packs are just the right blend of sweet and savory. They are healthy, guilt free snacks for the whole family.

These along with the chocolate chips I posted in the top picture and the soft cookies are go to snacks and breakfast foods in our home, especially since transitioning to the gluten free and dairy free life. I eat a lot less since being gluten free for as long as i have, but I’m not forcing my daughter to give up foods she likes just because of an intolerance. Enjoy Life has one of the healthiest ingredient lists of the other brands available.

How to Hard Boil Eggs

This is going to be very short and easy. I was playing around on Google and saw that “how to boil eggs” is one of the top searches.

My mom taught me a long time ago and following strict has resulted in perfect hard boiled eggs every time.

All you have to do is put the eggs in a pot, fill the pot above the eggs, set it on high heat on the stove and time it for 20 minutes- from the time you turn on the stove, not the time it starts to boil.

Taken them off, drain and wait a few minutes to peel.

 

For best results, use cold water with the eggs being straight out of the fridge. If you try to boil the water and put the eggs in, it can cause them to crack.

 

Simple Steps to Starting Paleo On A Budget

The Paleo is a “fad” diet, short for Paleolithic. The concept, they say, is to “eat what your ancestors ate” but that could easily backfire and has been shown to be in error.

For me, I do best when I have a set of rules sat out in front of me and the Paleo diet is the best standard for all the foods I’ve been told to leave out or reduce due to medical issues.

If you’ve read many of my blogs from my other site, https://www.newagedreamchick.com you know I’ve been gluten free for a while now.

The other suggestions I’ve had:

Limit foods high on the glucose scale (basically similar to the diabetic diet but since I’m not diabetic, I don’t have to take them out completely. I have had issues with eating white potatoes- they will crash my sugar.)

The foods that means to eliminate or use extremely sparingly-

  1. white sugar
  2. white flour
  3. white potatoes
  4. everything else white/enriched
  5. pop
  6. limit some fruits
  7. fruit juice

Those were the foods I was told specifically, especially since I’ll have a sugar seizure if my sugar gets too low.

For other random issues, I’ve been advised by either others with the same issues or doctors to avoid

  1. gluten
  2. dairy
  3. soy
  4. red40 (actual allergy)

and we all know processed junk food isn’t good either- it’s high in bad and a lot has hidden dairy or gluten.

Looking at the list of restrictions, my best bet is to work towards trying to go on the Paleo diet since it eliminates everything I am told to either limit or avoid. I’ve been studying it for a while but since I am also shopping and cooking for 2 kids and shopping for my husband, I have to be realistic about price and how much I spend on everything for myself. I already eat primarily whole foods, so here is how I save money while still eating healthy.

What is permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. vegetables of near any kind
  2. Fruit of any kind
  3. Normal, (preferably grass fed, antibiotic free) meat
  4. Nuts (except peanuts)
  5. Seeds
  6. Just about any ground spice (watch out for spice mixes but any regualr ground spices are safe)
  7. All natural, normal herbs

What is not permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. Grains- including gluten free. Even rice isn’t allowed.
  2. Peanuts
  3. Most dairy
  4. Soy/legumes
  5. Unnatural sugar (white sugar)
  6. Pretty much all over processed foods (boxed, etc)

Good rule of thumb, if you read the ingredients and can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. There are recipes for Paleo friendly mayo, dressings and other condiments.

Ways to save at the store

Find the foods you all eat first

Just because you’re on a somewhat restrictive diet doesn’t mean you have to have a totally different shopping list. Usually the whole family eats meat- if you go to the grocery store at the right time, you should be able to find the marked down meats. You can typically also find vegetables on mark down. Meat, you can freeze and hold out the lifespan but you will need to use the vegetables quickly.

With vegetables your kids won’t eat, buy just enough for your week

Produce doesn’t have to weigh your budget down. If you’re buying for yourself only and it’s something you know your children won’t eat, make sure to just get enough for your week. If you’re just starting the Paleo, make a menu plan and write down the exact amount you’ll need. Make sure to keep the list on you and don’t deviate from the list.

When you can, buy frozen

You’ll get a full meal worth of veggies for your kids, you and your spouse and frozen typically costs between 89 and 1.00. A huge plus is that with a lot of frozen veggies, all you have to do is toss the bag in the microwave for 5-7 minutes and serve. I always make sure I’m stocked with all the veggies my kids eat and I eat.

List, list, list

A shopping list is one of the most important things I can stress. If you stick with the list, you won’t spend near as much. If you have several grocery stores within a few miles of your home, there is an app called Flipp. It gives you the sales of the week near you. Some places price match but a lot don’t anymore. If you’re lucky enough to live near a store that still does, you can usually show the app to get the lower price. Otherwise, it’s good to note the sales so you know which stores to buy. Organize the list by item and write the cheapest store beside it.

Be careful with coupons

There are places that will send you really good coupons for products but a lot of times if you look at the amount on the coupon and what the price of the generic costs, you’ll find the generic is lower than the coupon for the name brand. In most cases, it’s just the same but cheaper so coupons are not always great deals- but make sure you use any instant savings coupons or grab coupons for name brand items you love.

Skip the specialty foods

There are foods specially labeled “paleo” (similar to the “gluten free.” MOst of those foods aren’t near as healthy and will be overpriced. It’s best to find recipes for things you like that are Paleo friendly and make those instead. It will have you spending more time in the kitchen, but if you can find a few spare minutes, a lot can be frozen.

Ways to save at home

Make your own broth

There are tons of recipes online or in books for bone broth. It’s easy to make, just put several cups of water, bones from whatever meat you just cooked, garlic, onion, celery and carrots into a slow cooker. Cook between 12 hours and 2 days- then strain the broth through cheese cloth and pour in a jar. Bone broth is a nice hot drink when you’re not feeling well or good as a soup base.

If you want just regular broth, cook meat in a slow cooker, add extra water after the meat is cooked and continue cooking for a couple hours then take the meat out and strain the broth.

Make your own salad dressing

All you really need to do is mix olive oil and lemon and put it on your salad. Vinegar and olive oil can also work.

Batch cook

It saves time and can prolong life spans. Pick a day you’re off work and spend it in the kitchen. Take all the meals and freeze them in single portion size tupperwares. All you have to do is take one out, heat it up like a microwave dinner and you won’t have the waste from produce going bad. It’s also good for days you’re too tired to cook

 

Plan meals out by the week, 2 weeks or month

Depending on how often you go shopping. Plan the meals out in advance, write down everything you need and head to the store with a list, or use the option a lot of stores are giving now for online pickup- just order through the apps and go in to pick the food up.

 

What a typical shopping list looks like for me

  1. eggs
  2. Manager special steak/beef/chicken/turkey- it goes straight into the freezer when I get home
  3. Peppers (1 of each color along with 1-2 green
  4. salad mix
  5. carrots
  6. almond milk or coconut milk
  7. apples
  8. kiwi
  9. clementines
  10. Random things for the kids that they like
  11. Whatever my husband asks me to get

My normal twice a month shopping trip is between 100 and 130, depending on some things. We buy a lot of almond milk, Silk almond vanilla yogurt and I don’t waste money on dairy products any more, except a half gallon of whole milk for my husband.

That’s a general picture. My two year old loves fruit, so I make sure to buy extra fruit. She also likes to eat raw carrots and occasional raw peppers. I keep stocked on frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and occasionally corn (corn and peas aren’t permitted on the Paleo) because my kids love them and it’s a great fast side.

We do once a week for the stuff we always eat and once a week costs between 1 and 120, for the main shopping week and around 50-60 in the off weeks. I’m currently working on bringing the number down, but we have 2 growing kids and a cat.

I’ll come back and work further on more guides similar to this one later.

 

I Watched Marie Kondo’s Show

All January, people have been talking about professional cleaner/organizer Marie Kondo’s new Netflix reality show. Like most of the people in her target market, I decided to check out the show myself, so my kids and I have spent the last week watching it. I have gone through my kitchen, book closet, bed room and both of my kids’ bedrooms and have cleared out over ten bags of items to donate or sell. On top of that, we threw away at least 10 bags of broken or unusable items we hadn’t got around to getting rid of. Watching the show gave me a lot to think about, some of the things she said didn’t really apply but some of it resonated with us quite a bit.

Here are the top five ways watching the show helped me in declutter my home

1.Piling all my clothes on the bed together. Making my pile helped me sort and see exactly how much for each season I still had. I didn’t have as big a pile as some of the people on her show, but I go through my clothing on a regular basis. I only had one bag by the end and it wasn’t even completely filled because my last purge was less than a year ago (my first purge gave me three full bags of donations). I like her way because it helps you see how many and gives you a chance to really go through

2.Only keep items that really “spark joy.” Although, my toaster doesn’t spark joy, it is needed. It’s a good piece of advice to follow with items that serve no actual need and are only there for sentimental reasons. Most of the time, if you have something shoved in the back of a closet “just in case you need it,” you won’t need it so if it serves no purpose and doesn’t make you feel good, you don’t need it.

3.Take the time to “thank” items you’re going to get rid of. It seems a bit cheesy, if you’re not familiar with her religion, but when you stop and thank an item you no longer need, it can help you respect the item itself, even the process. It gives you a few moments to really think about the service that item gave you. You don’t even have to be a practitioner of her religion to get the benefit of taking the time to express gratitude toward the item.

4.Her folding method may not be new to everyone, but it really helps with saving space and storage for clothing. Putting underwear and bras in containers makes the underwear drawer look a lot better.

5.The biggest thing that influenced me was simple “peer pressure.” Not peer pressure from people I know in person, but a kind of feeling of peer pressure from watching the show. Watching other people go through everything was motivating me to go through our stuff, even if their homes still seemed cluttered, the show is most definitely not a minimalist show, but it can help start down the path to minimalism.

The show has received a fair amount of criticism, but it has also mixed with New Year’s resolutions and caused many viewers to go through their homes, donating larger than usual amounts of stuff to thrift shops everywhere. Getting rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy” may not be possible to a lot of us (really, certain foods may not spark joy, but we need to eat, same with certain appliances) but the show seems to have done more good than bad and there are some valuable takeaways.

We still are far from done, but it has made a world of difference in my kids’ rooms, our bedroom and kitchen. We can now see our living room floor and the kids can play in their rooms. I also have a new appreciation for my clothing. Now that I have the ground work, I’m positive I will be able to help us get our home organized within the year.