We’re Talking About Taji

Hi friends! As promised, we’ve got a little something special for you on the blog today – an up-close-and-personal interview with food-lovin’ blogger, Taji Mortazavi of We’re Talking about Food. It was Taji’s exploration of multi-cultural cuisine, fearless spice combinations, and creative variety that first caught my attention on the blogosphere, but what hooked me was the fact that nearly all her recipes were not only healthy but mindful of certain dietary restrictions as well. If you’re not following her already, you should be – and be prepared to seriously spice up your boring weeknight menu!

Taji was awesome enough to answer a few questions about her background and philosophy on food for me, and I’ve got to say, her responses made me love her even more (and secretly want to be her real life bff). :) Hope you enjoy today’s guest blogger interview!

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1. In our conversation you mentioned your background in English and writing (like me!), but I’d love to hear more about your background in food/nutrition/wellness and how you became interested in it.

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a foodie at heart. Growing up with an Iranian father and a French mother, food was always the door to both cultures. Towards the end of high school, I became more interested in the nutritional components of food, and began meeting with a dietitian to answer my inquiries.

Today, food is truly an art for me. My kitchen is my studio, my foods are my paints, my knife is my brush, and my plate is my canvas. I’ve noticed that if I focus on the color, texture, and overall composition of a dish, the healthy nutrients, vitamins, and all the good stuff I need to be healthy are there without having to think so much about it. The more I cook, the more I realize that artistically I’m not in total control of the dishes I’m making—the food is. This isn’t to say that food controls me by any means, but rather I get really inspired by a lot of the ingredients I use and my creativity comes from within.

2. You’ve posted recipes across the board in terms of diet… vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free… is there any particular diet to which you adhere? 

I think it’s good to experiment with a lot of different diets and healthy eating plans. I’ve noticed over the years that vegan and vegetarian cuisine has some very innovative ways of preparing vegetables. By contrast, paleo and gluten-free diets are really good at finding alternatives to refined carbohydrates and starches. I play around with all these plans because I think they ALL can contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle. You can easily take Italian-seasoned chicken with spaghetti squash (typically a paleo or GF dish) and smother it with a dollop of vegan pesto for a meal that’s the best of both worlds. Part of my blog is about pairing these diets together so people can see they’re not all that drastically different. In my eyes, these healthy diets operate on a continuum rather than a set of extremes.

I have struggled with Crohn’s and Celiac Disease for quite some time now. Going gluten-free is definitely important to me and an essential part of my diet. I did some digging and found out dairy allergies also run in my family so I try to steer clear of that as well. Ultimately, I think a healthy diet is balanced and REAL! I avoid processed and fast food like it’s the plague, go organic when I can, and make sure I eat lots of raw vegetables and fruits.

3. I read in one of your posts a few months ago about another blogger’s philosophy on “eating to live” versus “living to eat”. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ll admit it’s hard for me to completely align with the “eat to live” philosophy, too, but as a nutritional therapist, I understand it and often have to adopt that mindset when counseling clients. Where do you stand, what are your thoughts on the two sides, and what advice do you have for someone on either side in terms of crossing over from time to time?

I agree with you completely that these two philosophies are often at odds with one another. I think it ultimately comes down to how so many people (myself included) struggle with intuitive eating. When your intuitive eating is in line, usually you don’t need to worry about whether you’re ‘eating to live’ or ‘living to eat.’ Those choices will happen naturally and healthfully for you. Look at people who are good intuitive eaters. They usually don’t align themselves with either camp and simply eat what they’re body is telling them to eat. And more often than not, they’re at a healthy weight. With that said, it’s hard to tell someone whose over/underweight to eat intuitively, because doing so is probably what has gotten them in trouble in the first place.

I really think it depends on your relationship with food. People who overeat might benefit from a more structured approach that focuses on set meal times and plans. At the same time, if you’re underweight because you forget to eat you could also benefit from a structured plan. It’s too easy to say if you’re overweight you should watch what you eat and if you’re underweight you should eat whatever you want. Both attitudes depend on your health and your natural eating habits.

4.  I always love seeing your creativity come through in your recipes. You’ve posted dishes from a variety of different cuisines including Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and a variety of Persian dishes, all of them involving lots of unique fresh herbs and spices. Is there a certain culture that particularly inspires you in the kitchen?

You’re right in that I love to experiment! I want the site to have a little something for everyone and I try to incorporate lots of different cuisines. I named the blog “We’re Talking About Food” because I wanted to initiate a dialogue about food and food-related topics. Branching out to different cuisines is one of the many ways I try to initiate conversation and get people involved!

Maybe I’m biased, but I always seem to come back to Persian culture and dishes. Lately in the food world, the trends all lead towards fusion foods and cuisines. I like to think of Persian food as one of the original fusion cuisines out there. For centuries we’ve taken many Mediterranean flavors and paired them with East Asian and Indian ingredients. Most people who eat Persian food say it’s not the ingredients that surprise them, but the unique and innovative flavor combinations we’ve developed over time. To me, that’s much more interesting than a green tea flavored donut or a ramen burger – haha!

5. What is one significant change to your diet/lifestyle has had the most impact on your life and the way you feel?

I think being conscious of what I put in my body is perhaps one of the most important components to my diet, exercise habits, and over healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a massaged kale salad or a double fudge brownie sundae (gluten-free of course!), being mindful of my choices is imperative to a healthy life. If I slip up, I have the tools to get back on track the next day. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga more frequently that I actually learned what being mindful was all about. I used to stress about eating fat or sugar or salt. Now, I realize a little chocolate won’t kill me. Ultimately, it’s helped me create a lifestyle that’s healthy, but also balanced and realistic.

 

Thanks for sharing in the Heyday Diaries, Taji!

Check out more of Taji’s wit, insight and love for all things culinary at We’re Talking About Food

Talk soon, friends!

xx

e

 

Interested in being a guest blogger? Contact me here!

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What to Eat?

 

I spent an entire post sharing my love for the Primal Blueprint, admitting that it is my preferred lifestyle diet and one I recommend again and again simply for its nutritional soundness and the fact that it’s easy to follow. But if you want to get into the nitty gritty of breaking down what’s on your plate into the proper macronutrient ratios (that’s carbs, protein, and fat) for optimal wellness, then this post is for you.

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One of the first and most important things I teach my nutritional therapy clients is how to look at their plates and balance their portions. It was one of the simplest and most significant changes I made to my own eating habits when I learned, and the way we all should be eating for optimal wellness.*

It seems simple enough: 40% of each and every meal and/or snack should consist of carbohydrates, with the remaining 60% consisting of protein and fat. Easy, right?

But that brings up another question. What are the best, healthiest sources of each macronutrient so that we can make sure what we’re eating really IS nutrient-dense? (A plate of fried chicken wings and french fries may fit the 40/30/30 profile, but you can bet your behind it’s not the best option, friend. Hate to disappoint.)

Here’s what you need to know.

40% Carbohydrates

  • The majority of carbohydrates should be low glycemic vegetables that are raw or lightly cooked
  • Include two or three fresh, whole fruits (not juice) each day
  • Occasionally, include starchy carbs (properly prepared whole grains, potatoes, rice, etc.), but try to keep the starchy carb intake to less than 15%
  • Select organic, local, and seasonal products whenever possible

30% Protein

  • Pastured, grass-fed beef
  • Wild meats
  • Organic, free-range poultry
  • Whole, raw, or cultured dairy products
  • Organic lamb
  • Organic, free-range eggs
  • Low-toxicity wild seafood

30% Fat

  • Raw, soaked nuts and seeds
  • Raw, cold-pressed oils from nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, etc.)
  • Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Saturated fats from healthy sources of animal fat and tropical oils

 

And, since I know this is going to be your next question…

What to Avoid 

  • Pasteurized, homogenized, skim, and low-fat milk
  • Soy
  • Farmed seafood
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Highly processed vegetable oils like corn and canola
  • Fried foods
  • Refined sugar and corn syrup products
  • White flour products
  • Canned foods
  • Artificial vitamins
  • Toxic additives and colorings
  • Refined, table salt

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. All you have to do is stop looking at the “Nutrition Facts” on the label of whatever you’re buying, and start paying more attention to the ingredients. If what’s in the package contains a bunch of stuff you can’t pronounce or anything on the “what to avoid” list above, put that bad boy back on the shelf and step away! Better yet (you’ve heard this a million times by now, but maybe it’s just starting to sink in), shop around the perimeter of the store, specifically for things that don’t have labels… produce, meat, fish, grass-fed butter… when’s the last time you saw a bag of organic apples with a list of ingredients? Nothing to worry about then, right? Eating right doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post with quick and easy meal options that follow the 40/30/30 guideline, and in the meantime, get started brainstorming some of your own!

xx

e

 

*There is a degree of bioindividuality to consider when figuring out macronutrient ratios, meaning – we’re all different. Keep in mind that these are broad guidelines and some people may require more or less of a certain macronutrient in their diets to feel their best.

 

P.S. Bonus reads to check out:

  • This article on saturated fats, by Dr. Mercola (and basically, that whole website)
  • Food Rules, by Michael Pollan

Revisiting The Primal Blueprint

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I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that I’ve been reminiscing about living in our first apartment in Jupiter, how it has me homesick for Florida and the life we had there. Without getting all philosophical and emotional about the past and present and blah blah, I will say that I’ve been doing a little soul-searching to figure out why things feel so different now and guess what came up for me repeatedly? A major – and I mean MAYY-JORR – contributing factor to living the vibrant, healthy, happy life we enjoyed there was – SHOCKER!! – our diet and workouts. You’d think as a yoga teacher and nutritional therapist, this would be old news to me, right? I mean, duh, Erin. Duhhh.

SO, long story short, I thought back to when I first started getting into fitness and healthy eating, and decided to revisit the first book I ever read on the Paleo diet/lifestyle – that changed the way I looked at food and working out, might I add: The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

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Okay, ignore the cheesy cover – this book is legit.

I first found the book by poking around the internet googling something along the lines of “eat like a female bodybuilder”… I KNOW, I know, make fun of me now, I’m fine with it. I had started working out more (Tim was traveling a lot and I was only working part-time so it became something to fill gaps in my day) but I wasn’t noticing much change in my body. I didn’t actually want to be a body-builder, but I knew my body type was muscular (aka, I was not designed to look like a super-skinny VS model) and I wanted to see what I could do with it. But I was still weak and knew it probably had something to do with my diet because, at that point all I knew of nutrition was the mainstream low-fat, whole grain nonsense… I was clueless (like the majority of the population) about feeding myself for optimal wellness and in this case, athletic performance.

ANYWAY. In my google search, I came across this article, which I could totally relate to… and which led me to this article, which broke down the Paleo diet so I could understand it… which then led me to Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark Sisson’s website. After poking around a bit on his site, I downloaded the 21-Day Total Body Transformation and, as I said above, my life was changed.

Tim and I implemented the lifestyle immediately. I was already getting an organic produce share every week, so my grocery trips to Whole Foods and sometimes Costco meant stocking up on quality meat and fish, healthy fats like organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, and a variety of spices and primal-friendly pantry staples like coconut aminos and almond meal.

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The mother load.

I continued my workouts and noticed changes in my strength and endurance in the first week. I was adding weight to my sets consistently and feeling strong and energized at the end of my workouts instead of depleted and dizzy.

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HA! Nice face. Remember this?! Check my guns, yo!

We followed the advice of the book and started enjoying exercise more by finding things we liked to do outside the gym, participating in group beach workouts and going for bike rides together.

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Six days a week, we ate every meal according to the primal blueprint guidelines, enjoying a glass of red wine here and there, a square of 90% dark chocolate almost every night, and one night a week, usually on the weekend, we’d enjoy a meal at one of many local favorite restaurants. While we tried to stick close to primal blueprint guidelines when we ate dinner out, we knew we couldn’t control what was going into the dish and we didn’t obsess about it. And sometimes, we didn’t stick to the blueprint at all. We were crazy fit, healthy, energized, and happy! Life was seriously our oyster and we were eating it right up… because those are allowed, heyyyy.

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach... and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach… and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

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Eggs (in one of many forms) and veggies for breakfast were ARE the new norm.

***

SIDE NOTE TIME! Now, I will admit that being pregnant has me a little more body-conscious than normal right now, (and that my current total weight gain of 6lbs feels like 20 on my 5’3″ frame) but this isn’t about that. It’s about getting back the energy, the clarity of mind and body, the zest for life, and preparing myself not only for the delivery of a healthy baby, but also for my rebound into a successful run with breast-feeding and optimal post-preg wellness for both me and the babe.

So that is what inspired me, a couple weekends ago, on the way home from our road-trip to Raleigh, to take the 4.5 hours in the car as the perfect opportunity to revisit and refresh my memory of the Primal Blueprint. So that A) I could get re-motivated to clear my kitchen of any lingering first-trimester junk food and replace it with healthy primal-friendly stock, and B) so that I could share with YOU the basic gist of the Primal Blueprint and perhaps persuade you to look into trying it for yourself. (I promise, you won’t regret it!)

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SO, without further rambling (geez, I know, sorryyyy, that was a long intro), here it is.

The Primal Blueprint is about getting the greatest health and fitness benefits you can with the least amount of pain, suffering, and sacrifice […] Today, my goal is to look super fit without having to follow an exhaustive, time-consuming exercise regimen, [and] enjoy the heck out of my meals without the slightest hint of deprivation.  – Mark Sisson

I’m going to outline the key concepts for you here. You can find more information about the lifestyle by visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, or of course, by getting one of the many books he’s written on the Primal Blueprint. (Nope, I’m not being paid to say that.)

Out with the OLD

The Primal Blueprint involves changing your lifestyle, but let me just say this once: IT IS NOT HARD. So get it out of your head that it is. For starters, here’s what you can leave in your past:

  • Grains, sugars, sweetened beverages. All of it. Processed carbs drive insulin production which can lead to inflammation and fatigue among other issues.
  • Hydrogenated oils. There’s the obvious heavily processed snack foods and packaged baked goods along with deep-fried foods, but this also means no more margarine or “spreads”, canola, corn, or vegetable oils either. All this stuff sets the stage for cancer and heart disease, no matter what it says on the label about being heart-healthy, so pitch it! You’ll have plenty of other primal-friendly options in terms of healthy fats that will leave you way more satisfied.
  • Beans and legumes. These babies are just hard to digest, period. They can mess with your gut big time and therefore your immune system and health in general.
  • Dairy. You don’t haaave to get rid of it, but here’s the thing: most commercial dairy isn’t good for anyone. It’s loaded with hormones and other impurities. If you’re lactose tolerant, opt for organic, pastured butter and heavy cream. YES, that’s right. BUTTER. And HEAVY CREAM.
  • Chronic exercise. I’m talking to you, chick on the elliptical. Time to reject your hours spent in the gym and the idea that reaching a certain number of miles, hours, or weekly workouts is the key to fitness. It’s not.
  • Sedentary patternsNow I’m talking to you, chick in front of the computer. Google “sitting disease” and tell me what you find. How about a lot of fat storage, elevated risk of heart disease, joint pain, muscle weakness, and lack of energy? Get up and move.
  • Poor sleep habits. Just go to bed already. Leave the phone plugged in downstairs, use a real alarm clock, and “shut down” at least an hour (preferably more) before climbing into bed.
  • Somber, spartan approach to lifestyle transformationGet it out of your head that you have to count calories, have rigid portion control and specifically timed meals, limited menu choices, guilt, or binging cycles. Does this sound familiar? Well, it’s over. There’s no strict workout regimen, no struggling, and no suffering. Like I mentioned before: IT IS NOT HARD. You’re welcome.

In with the NEW

Is this starting to sound like something you might be interested in trying? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It is that good. Here’s what you can look forward to with  your new primal lifestyle:

  • Primal foodsMeat! Fish! Poultry! Eggs! Veggies! Fruits! Nuts! Seeds! High-quality fats! Eat it up and love your life! Guess what else? You can even enjoy your red wine and dark chocolate, too!
  • Primal eating philosophyEat as much of your primal foods as you want, when you want, however often you want. You’ll begin to notice you’re satisfied with less, after meals you don’t feel stuffed or bloated (you feel amazing), and you can indulge sensibly without having the urge to binge because you’re able to enjoy life guilt-free. If you’re anything like me, this will be HUGE for you.
  • Increase daily movementNotice this doesn’t say, “do this exercise five times a week”. Nope. Did you not read that part above? NO MORE of that. Do what makes you happy. Do what you enjoy. Walk more. Use stairs. Take frequent breaks when you have to sit for a long time (i.e., at work, etc). Basically, get off your behind and move around.
  • Brief, intense workoutsThis may be a curve ball or something new to some of you but give it a shot – it’s essential for maintaining high energy levels and a healthy heart and lungs at any age. Go harder but less often and for less time. So, like a 30-minute (or less) strength workout. Sprint intervals for 15 minutes (or less). That’s all… it’s easy, and you don’t have to do this every day.
  • Calming evening rituals. Like I mentioned above, wind down at night to prepare yourself for a healthy night’s sleep. Turn off the tv, put away the technology, dim the lights, use candles, read, chat with your loved one, take a slow neighborhood stroll. You get the idea.
  • FUN approach to lifestyle transformation. This is your chance to explore exciting new foods, recipes, and establish new eating practices. (Side note: I will never forget the first time we tried sun-chokes or kale… and how my cookbook collection expanded to include what are now some of my favorite recipes of all time!) You’re going to start exercising for fun and energy, and best of all – NO MORE OVERTRAINING! You’re going to PLAY more! And probably best of all, you’ll start to enjoy life more with your loved ones, because you’ll be inclined to be less “connected” and more appreciative of spending time with your family and friends. This really does happen, people! (This is the part where I could go on a tangent about diet and digestion and protein and fat and related neurotransmitter production and mental wellness… but I’ll spare you.) ;)

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What to expect…

So aside from the energy levels and new zest for life you can expect to experience by going primal, what are some other benefits from adopting this new way of life? So glad you asked.

  • Anti-agingI can’t explain this as well as Mark does here.
  • AppetiteYou won’t overeat anymore. You just won’t. Adopting the Primal Blueprint literally cured me of my binging tendencies.
  • Blood markersExpect to see some improvement in your cholesterol. But how can that be, eating red meat and butter?! I’m rolling my eyes at you right now. Get your head out of the low-fat-high-carbohydrate-garbage diet myth you’ve been fed for years and start doing your own research.
  • Body fatYou will lose body fat. Can I say that any more simply?
  • Diminished cravings. People don’t believe me when I tell them I just didn’t want grains, junk food, or sweets any more. Sure, I indulged on occasion, but I didn’t miss them in my daily life. Don’t believe me? Guess you’re going to have to experience it yourself.
  • Digestion. If you didn’t already know, your digestion is probably impaired… yours and nearly 90% of Americans’. The Primal Blueprint follows the guidelines of the diet I recommend as a nutritional therapist for optimal digestion, and optimal wellness. Period.
  • Drug-free. This can mean so many things… you’ll soon be ready to ditch your OTC antacids and pain relievers, then, with your doctor’s support, you’ll be able to work toward eliminating many if not all of your prescription meds, too.
  • Immunity. This goes hand in hand with digestion: healing your digestion leads to optimal immune system function. You’ll probably notice getting sick less often and recovering more quickly if you do happen to get run down.
  • Measurements. If you happen to be keeping track, you’ll see these change, too. Your clothes will fit (and look!) better and looser as you decrease body fat, reduce systemic inflammation, and get rid of the bloating and water retention! Where will you see this first? Tush, hips, thighs, waist – the primary storage areas for fat. (YAY!)
  • Muscle mass. Increase or maintain and sculpt muscle mass while dropping body fat. Um, isn’t that basically ideal and what everyone wants? Awesome.
  • SleepYou’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better and more soundly, and begin to awaken naturally (without an alarm), refreshed and energized. No joke.
  • StressDiet alone affects the way our body and mind respond to stress. The Primal Blueprint will help regulate this and reduce fatigue, burnout, and dysfunction that seems to go hand in hand with a hectic modern life.
  • Total fitness. The Primal Blueprint involves functional exercise and a diet that develops and supports a balanced physique and broad physical competency. See that picture above, the one of me doing my best meathead impression and taking selfies in the gym? Ha. Okay take a close look at the picture of me standing. For most of my life, carrying most of my weight around my hips (like many people), I never used to look like that… even and muscular and balanced from head to toe. And I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction when I carried a huge la-z-boy recliner up a flight of stairs by myself. Simply put, you’ll look good, and you can do more – physically – without risk of overtraining or injury.
  • Optimal wellnessEverything listed above and more. Improved bone density. Glucose tolerance. Insulin sensitivity. Improved blood pressure. Hormone balance. How will you know about all of this if you’re not being tested for it? Simple. You’ll feel the best you’ve ever felt.

So… wow. There you have it. Man, I don’t know about you but revisiting this book has me totally reenergized to get back to that lifestyle.

And you? What are you waiting for?! Get the book and join me!

xx

e

P.S. Nope, I wasn’t paid for writing this. (Sadly!) My opinion is legit. I really do love it and recommend it with all my heart. Go for it.

A Lesson in Non-Attachment: Confessions of a First Trimester Diet

Hi, my name is Erin, and I’m a first-trimester-crappy-food-aholic. 

[Hi, Erin.]

Time for a confession, friends! Maybe one you’ve been wondering about, sitting back and waiting for, and perhaps one any fellow moms-to-be will be relieved to hear. So here goes nothing:

I haven’t eaten like a nutritional therapist for three months.

I’ve eaten foods at which I would otherwise turn up my nose, foods I would never dream of putting in my grocery cart, foods I would NEVER in a million years recommend to any nutritional therapy client, foods I would – and did – feel guilty feeding myself, my husband, and my unborn child. *hangs head in shame* Oh, the drama.

I feel blessed and cursed with my bout of first-trimester morning sickness… blessed in that I know some friends who had experienced far worse than what I did, and cursed in that… well, let’s just say none of it is particularly pleasant. For three months – pretty solid, starting around week 5 – I woke up every day feeling hungover, and if and when I did get out of bed, that any sudden movement might throw my stomach into somersaults. The feeling lasted from the moment I woke up until I laid down at night. It was not pleasant.

As a result, I didn’t want to eat – anything. After a few days of even water making me feel nauseous, I caved and asked Tim to pick up some gingerale. Yep, high fructose corn syrup-laden gingerale, in all it’s carbonated, sugary glory. It tasted like nectar of the gods and though I was well aware that it was nothing I would normally put in my body, I took comfort in the temporary relief it brought.

After about a week of eating barely anything (aside from a few cardboard-y saltines, yep, those too), I felt nauseous but starving and panicked that I was doing the growing bean inside me a major disservice by depriving it of food all together. Now I know that that’s not exactly true, but at the time, and even now still, it’s anxiety-provoking to think that now I was responsible not only for my own nutrition but for another life as well! YIKES! NO PRESSURE!

The Pizza Incident

I should probably mention that, by the time I felt like I was ready to try eating, the entirety of my normal paleo diet suddenly seemed repulsive to me. Red meat? Forget it. ANY meat? Not a chance. Eggs? Don’t even say the word. Lettuce, vegetables, anything remotely healthy? No, just no. The only thing that sounded good to me was a salty, brothy bowl of packaged, msg-laden ramen noodles, a cheesy bowl of kraft dinner, or a plain, not-too-saucy slice of cheese pizza. I KNOW, people, I know. Shut it.

So when I confessed my guilty desires with Tim, he promptly ordered a pizza (come to think of it, he was probably all-too-eager, after basically fending for himself for any and all meals for an extended period of time). What happened when I took that first bite surprised me: instead of my stomach turning into a hot queasy mess, my entire body relaxed. It was as though I was finally giving it something it wanted – needed – and it was thanking me with complete and utter relief. I will never forget the feeling – it was so odd!

A Lesson in Non-Attachment

From that point on, I cut myself a little slack. I didn’t go completely crazy and give the excuse that I was eating for two or that, welp, this is all I can stomach, so I might as well eat ALL THE CARBS. No. I cut myself a little slack. I let go of the idea of perfection, because that’s all it is – an idea. I made a commitment to be non-attached to my previous lifestyle as a nutritional therapist, to be present and accept where I was at the present moment, and to understand that this, too, shall pass, that it was temporary. I wouldn’t feel this way forever. (Thank you, yoga.)

It’s hard to remember, especially when it does feel like it will be forever. But it was important to just take it day by day.

I am particularly grateful for my healthy diet and awareness of my body leading up to my pregnancy and that I have been able to maintain that awareness to a certain extent. What I noticed as time went on, as my appetite began to improve little by little but as I continued to allow myself to eat breads and grains and sugars, was that it was no longer just “first trimester” sickness I was experiencing. This is the part where some of you seasoned moms will roll your eyes or maybe even stop reading all together, because I’m going to tell you that the uncomfortable bloating, the fatigue, the lack of energy, the joint pain, the acne – all commonly considered normal, unavoidable pregnancy symptoms – that, I believe, those symptoms, for me, were diet-related. And I say this because, after a week of getting back to a 90% paleo diet, most of those symptoms have subsided for me. In the last week I have been less bloated, more energetic, my skin is clearing up, and I’m sleeping better (aside from the 37 times I have to get up to pee, of course).

I am beyond pleased to share that the 14-week mark has come and gone and that first phase of misery (and my stint with malnutrition) is over.  Here are some of the delicious, primal-friendly meals we enjoyed last week:

  • chicken sausage with roasted sweet potatoes, eggplant, and zucchini
  • roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and homemade grass-fed beef Italian sausage
  • RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME grilled green chicken with sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers and portabello mushrooms
  • crock pot pork shoulder with tangy creamed swiss chard and caramelized onions
  • leftover shredded pork with red peppers, romaine lettuce and avocado over cilantro lime cauliflower “rice” (a la, Chipotle’s carnitas bowl – YUM!)
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Hooray! Meat and veggies are back on the menu!

What’s next?

Because of our (yes, our, Tim has been in this with me, obviously) compromised diet over the last three months, we both feel ready for a little detox. Before you get your panties in a twist, I should probably reconsider my choice of words. We’re not exactly doing the Master Cleanse over here, so relax. So what will our detox look like? Probably a few weeks of 80-90% primal blueprint, easing into a 21-day sugar detox to rid ourselves of the sugar cravings we’ve both been feeling (Trader Joe, if you tempt me with your dark chocolate peanut butter cups, I swear!). More on the 21DSD in a future post… stay tuned!

I know everyone has a different experience when it comes to morning sickness and pregnancy in general.  What was your first trimester like? Did you feel guilty about eating junk? How did you get back on track?

 

xx

e

What I Learned From Failure

Good morning, people.

I love the days when Tim does a little work from home.  He makes important phone calls and taps away at his keyboard while I quietly go about my morning routine, which, as this morning would have it, included prepping a beef chuck roast and veggies to dump into the crock pot (a recipe from my new paleo cookbook, Against All Grain), making a quick visit to the chiropractor, doing a few loads of laundry, and whipping up a quick breakfast of poached eggs in marinara sauce over leftover delicata squash rings for us (YUM!) before sitting down to type up a blog post for your leisure-reading pleasure.

A slow-cooker pot roast and poached eggs in (sugar-free) Rao’s Homemade marinara over roasted delicata squash rings?  I must be the queen of the sugar detox, am I right?  Wrong.  Don’t let today’s menu pull the wool over your eyes, my friends – things were not so perfect just days ago.  Let me paint a picture for you…

Four days into the 21DSD (because I’m a cool kid now, I can use the acronym), we had friends visiting from out of town, friends we hadn’t seen in over a month since their wedding in another state, friends who (like us) really enjoy drinking wine and when the four of us get together, well, let’s just say, with all the talking and laughing and losing track of time, we’ve been known to polish off a bottle or… seven.  Luckily, this past weekend, we only made it to six.  While I feel like I held it together somewhat on the food front, passing on dessert and steering clear of starchy carbs, the aftermath of the wine the following day left me not wanting to cook and weak enough to give into the temptation of Sunday afternoon NFL advertising…

Pizza.

Sure it was delicious.  But was it worth the cold sweats, body aches, heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal distress, and poor sleep that followed that night?  Or the sore throat and headache in the morning?  No. Freaking. Way. I had to take a cold (and I mean cold) shower that night before going to bed I felt so sick.

So there you have it.  And my reason for sharing this slip-up in today’s post is threefold.

FIRST, to express to the world that I am not perfect, and I’m okay with that.  As a yogi, and a yoga instructor, it is  often  assumed that I must have it all under control, that my life is rainbows and butterflies and that nothing bothers me because I am breathing, I am calm, I am yoga.  Well, that’s just ridiculous.  I NEED YOGA because it helps me stay balanced.  Of course, I would love to be in a yogic state of mind 24/7, but for me, that’s just not realistic (not yet, at least… there’s always room for improvement, which is why it’s called a yoga practice!).  Life is always going to be crazy, some people are always going to drive me crazy, and I’m probably going to get the urge to lay on my horn in (Miami) traffic from time to time.  But having a regular yoga practice helps me to keep my mind clear so that I’m better able to deal with situations as they arise that would normally throw me for a loop.  AND, when I DO get thrown for a loop, I know better than to beat myself up about it – I’m only human, and the only way to treat myself, especially when I’ve experienced what most would consider failure, is with loving care.  So in that aspect, failure teaches me to love myself.

Which brings me to my second point, which is: when I stumble and fall flat on my face, I don’t just lie face down in a puddle of self-loathing and self-pity and misery.  No.  I get up, I brush myself off, and I move forward… maybe just keeping a closer eye on the path and watching out for those potholes… because Lord knows they sneak up on you!  Failure not only teaches us to love and be gentle with ourselves but to learn from the failure itself.  It had been so long since we indulged in pizza, I could only remember how glorious it tasted and had no concept of what it would do to my body after eating a clean diet for so long.  After the way I felt Sunday night and Monday morning, there will be no forgetting!  After I got myself together on Monday, I immediately planned our clean, paleo (sugar-free!) meals for the rest of the week and made a trip to the grocery store to stock up on veggies and protein.  Twenty-four hours later, my crazy flu-like symptoms have subsided and I’m beginning to feel like myself again, not to mention savoring every delicious morsel of clean, nutritious food with which I’m fueling my body and nursing it back to health.  I’m so grateful for the slip-up so that I could be reminded of how amazing a clean diet can make you feel!

THIRD, this weekend also indirectly brought something else up for me, and that is that only I can control what I put into my body.  The same way I choose the clothes I put on in the morning, what I eat is my own decision, and no one else’s.  If it is socially acceptable for a person eating a vegetarian or vegan diet to make special requests at restaurants and to make their diet known to their friends and family so that meals can be enjoyed together as they are meant to be and not become a cause of conflict, then why should it be any different for someone following a paleo diet?  This is the diet on which I feel my absolute best, and, as I am learning in my Nutritional Therapy coursework, the diet we are designed to consume for optimum health! I shouldn’t feel obligated to eat something that I know will make me feel less than my best, and I’m ready to make that commitment… to myself, my family, and my future children.

And, as I expected… it feels so good!

Stay tuned for some recipe reviews… these cookbooks are preeeeetty awesome.

Let’s Detox!

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a field day earlier this week exploring a bunch of paleo-foodie blogs in search of inspiration to kick it up a notch in the kitchen.  What I wasn’t expecting was repeatedly coming across bloggers mentioning a mysterious code: 21DSD.  In the cases of PaleOMG and Against All Grain, even devoting whole pages to this mystery.  After a quick google search of 21DSD, I came across a million other posts from other blogs and websites, Pinterest boards and pins.  What does it stand for?  The 21-day Sugar Detox, created by Diane Sanfilippo, author and holistic nutritional consultant.  How timely, since I am studying blood sugar regulation!

21-DSD

As I mentioned, I try to stick to Paleo at least 80% of the time, but I’d be lying if I said my diet hasn’t been including more treats lately in the form of fresh and dried fruits, natural sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup, and even the occasional (ahem – nightly) few squares of 90% dark chocolate.  I KNOW, it doesn’t sound bad – all of that stuff qualifies as Paleo, it’s natural and fine for you, right?  Well, yes, but when it gets to the point that you’re craving something sweet at any given time of day, that’s when you know you might have a problem.  And I’ll admit it, I have a problem.

I’m ready for a change and that change starts today (well, yesterday).  I thought it would be a piece of (sugar-free) cake, but as I experienced yesterday, wow, it’s going to be a challenge.  I’m committed, though, and I’m armed and ready with the arrival of my new cookbooks.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and if you’re interested in joining me on the detox, head over to Diane’s site Balanced Bites, where you can load up on information about the 21-Day Sugar Detox, get one of her books, and even sign up for daily emails throughout the 21-day stretch!

If you’re thinking ahead about Thanksgiving (Um, what? I would like to enjoy a slice of Paleo pumpkin pie, thank you very much!), don’t sweat it.  If you start your 21DSD today, you’ll be done JUST in time to enjoy a Paleo holiday treat without wrecking your progress, and you’ll be much less likely to trip down the slippery slope of the dessert table temptations because your sugar craving will be virtually nonexistent by then!

Let’s do it!

xx

e

Paleo Cookbook Roundup

Gooooood morning, sunshines!!!  I have loads of energy today and I just can’t contain my enthusiasm for life.  Whoa.  I know.  I haven’t even finished my cup of tea!

As many of you in my life and on the interwebs are aware, I’ve been working toward obtaining my certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association.  I’m a few months into the program and loving every juicy morsel of information thrown my way… there are seriously days where I sit at my computer for 8 hours just watching and re-watching the course videos and scribbling notes and pausing, rewinding, listening more closely… it’s like crack to me, I just can’t get enough.  Sigh… remember when I used to pass the lonely evenings watching nutritional documentaries on Netflix when Tim used to have to travel for work all the time?  Well, it’s kind of like that, only WAY better, because at the end of 9 months, I’ll have a certificate to show for the wealth of information that has been pumped into my brain, in concentrated form, for nearly a year.  It’s pretty awesome.

For the past week I’ve been studying blood sugar regulation (and dysfunction) and, as with the majority of the information I’ve taken in since the course began, I’ve been delighted to find that this module leans heavily in support of a Paleo or Primal-style diet.  It has been such a great feeling to know that the diet* Tim and I have adopted and adhered to for over a year now (or, at least, one we try to adhere to at least 80% of the time) is truly the diet on which our bodies are designed to function and on which we can expect to achieve an optimal level of health.  Yay for us!
Anyway, all of this information in support of the Paleo diet has lit me up once again and inspired me to get creative in the kitchen.  If you know me and I’ve cooked for you recently, you’ll know that my most recent obsession has been my Well Fed cookbook, full of AH.MAZ.ING. paleo recipes that are ALL packed with crazy-good flavor (I’m salivating just thinking of the pad thai, which I make nearly once a week).  I’ve already cooked my way through that book and I’m ready for more!!  So I spent some time yesterday poking around some of my favorite paleo-foodie blogs and found a zillion cookbooks, but narrowed it down to my top 3, which I promptly purchased and should be arriving tomorrow (thank you Amazon Prime membership!).  Here’s what I came up with:

1. Against All Grain by Danielle Walker, of the blog Against All Grain.  Danielle healed herself from a debilitating auto-immune disease by adopting a grain- and dairy-free diet… check out her story – it’s really inspiring, and a testimony to the truth behind using food as medicine (when her doctors told her that what she ate wasn’t a factor in her disease… hmmm).

against all grain

2. OMG, that’s Paleo? by Juli Bauer, otherwise known as the hilarity behind the paleo-foodie blog, PaleOMG.  Juli’s posts are totally random and ADD and I love her for that… but I mostly love that she’s honest and real and imperfect and isn’t afraid to share that with the world.  OH, and her recipes online are pretty bomb, too.  Of course I wanted to invest in this little gem for my cookbook collection.

paleomg_cover

And, 3. Nom Nom Paleo, Food for Humans, by Michelle Tam & Henry Fong, gurus behind the first paleo-foodie blog I ever followed, Nom Nom Paleo.  This baby isn’t quite available yet, but it’s available on pre-order from Amazon and should arrive in December, so I figured, why not get it while I’m thinking about it.  Go big or go home, right?

nomnompaleo

That should hold me over for a while, don’t you think?  I am so excited to get them and I’m REALLY looking forward to sharing some of the results of cooking my way through these books with you!  Stay tuned (and hungry!)

xx

e

*P.S. When I say “diet”, in this post and every post… I don’t mean “diet” as in, “I’m on a diet to lose weight, etc.”… “Diet” for me means a way of eating, a way of life, and not a quick fix or something that will end or change after a given period of time.  Clear? Crystal? Good.