Sunday, February 24, 2013

C'est moi et Paleo chicken nuggets

I have found a new obsession. No, not just Pinterest - though that has captivated most of my time these days (you know, wanting to reorganize my home, pinning things to reorganize my home, being too busy pinning things to actually reorganize my home, etc). I have become OBSESSED with make up tutorials on youtube.com. I've discovered a young lady in the UK named Tanya Burr that has me completely in awe of her make up application abilities. Watching her video's has inspired me to test my own make up application abilities. This is not my first attempt as I've been applying different colors and techniques for the past week, however, did not take any pictures until this weekend. This is my blue hippie look:

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Since I've been wearing ALOT of make up lately - I've had to find something that not only takes off the make up, but also isn't full of chemicals that will damage my skin. I'm completely in love with a face scrub I've been making with honey. It's so luxurious, and makes my skin feel like satin when I'm out of the shower.

Honey has natural anti microbial and anti fungal properties that also help in rejuvenating your skin cells. Hell, if it worked for Cleopatra with her honey bathes to stay young - why not apply it to today's natural remedies for skin repair and anti aging?

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You can make this to your desired texture/consistency - but this is how I like to make mine. Just put all the listed ingredients in a bowl, and mix until completely incorporated. I store mine in little mason jars, and make several jars at one time.

Aside from feeling fabulous in my own skin - I've also gotten back into the Paleo / Gluten free saddle completely. Over the Holiday we slipped off the saddle a little bit. I feel so much better when I'm not treating my body like a garbage disposal. And honestly, stress at work is what really triggered falling off the saddle more than the Holidays. It's normal to try to compensate for stress with eating - it's a basic human reaction - the trick is finding balance when dealing with those types of stress that make you want to stuff your face with whatever you can get your hands on. While I still may have stress in my life from work, family, etc - I should not be taking that out on my body. Stress does enough damage, no need to add a bad diet to the mix!

My husband has been making these divine paleo chicken nuggets for us for dinner and snacks.

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2 chicken breasts trimmed of fat & cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup butter w/ 2 tbspn garlic, melted in a bowl
2 cups almond meal w/ desired spices. We used a basic Italian mix with red pepper flakes, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic salt, and black pepper. Mix into the almond meal.
Dip chicken bites into the garlic butter, then toss into the almond meal mixture. Place chicken bites on a greased baking dish and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
We served ours over zucchini pasta with peppers and onions. So delicious!
I hope you try out this recipe and enjoy as much as we do!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Have you ever had green bread?

I will not eat green bread with ham, I will not eat it, Sam I am!

Well, I apparently WILL eat green "bread" because hey, it's festive - it's fun - and I like to freak people out. "OMG, WHAT ARE YOU EATING!" Why, it's my sunbutter paleo bread, of course! This little gem happened by complete accident, and personally, I think it will be fantastic for St. Patty's Day.

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We have been pretty obsessed with a blog called Against All Grain: http://www.againstallgrain.com They have this wonderful grainfree bread that is made with cashew butter. We've made this recipe numerous times - however, the night in question of the green bread - I was out of cashew butter. I did have Sunbutter, however, and the blogger said that sunbutter would be an acceptable substitute. Ehem. However... they failed to mention that the interaction between sunbutter and the vinegar in the recipe would transform my normally beautiful brown bread into a bright flourescent green! It tasted exactly as it should, so no harm, no foul.

One of the major parts of living gluten free / paleo is researching new ways of eating. We've found Fast Paleo, Against all Grain, Joy the Baker, and many other gluten free / paleo friendly blogs that help us to stay focused. Though, I will admit - over the Holiday - I did fall off the wagon a bit. *Hangs head in shame*

But, today is a new day, right? With so many paleo and gluten free options, there really is no excuse to not jump back on the wagon. During the week my breakfasts consist mainly of eggs - usually with some kind of sauteed veg mixed in. The weekends we like to splurge a bit and make something more fun and exciting. BJ found this recipe for grainfree waffles. We have a waffle iron and let me tell you - GREAT investment. We love making home made waffles. Wwhen we started on paleo - I thought I'd never see a waffle again. Recipe that follows is also from Against All Grain.

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What you'll need: 3 eggs 1 cup raw cashews 1/3 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk) 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted ¼ teaspoon salt ¾ teaspoons baking soda 3 tablespoons coconut flour

1.Preheat your waffle iron. 2.Combine the eggs, cashews, milk, honey, and melted coconut oil in a blender. Blend until very smooth and creamy. You may need to stop the blender and push the mixture down the sides a few times to get it all to blend really well. 3.Add the salt, baking soda, and coconut flour, then blend again for about a minute until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet. 4.If you’re iron requires oil, spread a little coconut oil on both sides. Pour the batter into the waffle iron so it just covers the bottom portion of the iron, being careful not to overfill it as these do rise quite a bit and will spill over. 5.Cook the waffles for about a minute, more or less depending on the heat of your waffle iron. If they release easily with a fork when you open the lid, they are probably done. 6.Repeat until the batter has been used up.

You have no idea how delicious these waffle are. Boarder line addicting, and so worth the effort to make. Add a little whipped cream sweetened with honey on top? OMG. Out of this world.

Another thing that is out of this world is roasted pumpkin & butternut squash soup. Growing up I was not a huge fan of pumpkin anything. Now that I'm older and have a more refined palate, I find I enjoy pumpkin when it's done properly. I still, however, detest pumpkin pie.

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Simply roast 2 cups each peeled & chopped pumpkin & butternut squash, until golden and caramlized. I like to toss the cubes in a bit of olive oil and maple sugar prior to playing on a roasting pan, it adds a nice sweetness. Once the veg is nicely roasted, process in small batches in a food processor or high speed blender with heavy cream & veg broth - to your desired consistency. I like my soup a little thick. If you like your soup thin, add more cream/veg broth. Add salt, pepper, and maple sugar or syrup to taste. Top with roasted pumpkin seeds, and drizzle with maple. So delicious and hearty. Great for this cold weather!

ENJOY!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Top 10 things we eat on the Paleo diet

I thought it would be fun to post a top ten. Maybe there's more then 10? Who knows. But right now... these are the primary components in our new life style that we simply can not live without.

1. Bacon. Yes. Bacon. I loved bacon BEFORE this life style, and it just tickles my funny bone (okay or just makes my stomach happy) that I can eat disgusting amounts of bacon without feeling guilty about it. People look at me like I have three heads when I tell them one of the primary things on my diet is bacon - because - fundamentally? It makes no sense. Allow me to explain...

Good fats don't make you fat. Just as saturated fats do not make you fat. I know, mind blowing, right? Your body NEEDS fat in order to burn... dun dun dun... FAT. Good fats are a main source of energy for people living a Paleo life style. Now, am I suggesting you cook up 3 lbs of bacon and eat it every day for dinner? As much as I'd love to say yes to that question, that is NOT what I'm suggesting. What I'm saying is that your body needs fat to survive.

When your body runs on fat, it produces ketone bodies. This is good.

STAY AWAY FROM VEGETABLE OILS, AND POLYUNSATURATED FATS. They will kill you. For reals. No joke.

2. Coconut oil. I HATE COCONUT. I will say that upfront. Coconut oil, however, is DELICIOUS. I eat it with a spoon. I know, that's pretty gross. Try it before you judge me. Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is excellent for our bodies - but this also means it has a good tolerance to heat, but it is solid when it's cool. It's great for baking, frying, and mixing with things like almond or cashew butter - because when it hardens, that means you can dip it in CHOCOLATE. HOME. MADE. ALMOND BUTTER. CHOCOLATE. BALLS!

Coconut oil also has Lauric acid - which is the easiest acid for our bodies to digest. It also has antimicrobial and anti fungal properties.

3. Butter and Ghee. And I mean REAL butter. Like, get your ass to a farmers stand and get some real fresh churned full fat butter. Once you have your 4 lb baby, take that log of love home and boil it down. Boil it. Make it bubble. Watch as the milk fat separates. Then gently skim all the milk fat off. SAVE IT. Don't waste it. It's great to saute veggies in! Gingerly strain the now melted clarified butter through cheese cloth. Voila. Ghee.

Butter in it's natural form is not paleo. Once those milk fats are separated you're left with a delicious saturated fat that is not only good for you, but has this wonderful nutty flavor. Ghee also has Conjugated linoleic acids - which have anti cancer properties.

Wouldn't Paula Deen be proud?!

4. Raw honey. I'd never had raw unprocessed honey before diving into the paleo world. It's positively delicious - and much sweeter then the processed honey found in stores. It's not clear and pretty like processed honey - but it's thick and rich and positively delicious. By cutting our all processed sugar - natural sugars like raw honey and maple syrup make excellent substitutes.

Honey is a natural energy booster, helps to build your immune system and has anti cancer properties - and it's great for cuts, burns, hang overs, sore throats, and insomnia!

5. Bee pollen. SAY WHHHAAA??? Yep, bee pollen. Those little nuggets on the furry legs of bees. Sweet little nuggets of health boosting goodness. And what's great? No two bee pollen samples are a like because no two bees pollinate the exact same plants. It's like, SURPRISE! You haven't tasted THIS before. It's sweet and flowery. We throw this in oat meal (STEEL CUT OATS! NOT INSTANT!), smoothies, gluten free baking, etc.

People think we've lost our ever loving minds because this is the kind of stuff we eat now. Raw Honey? Coconut oil? BEE POLLEN? Who can live on this stuff!

WE CAN! One tiny bee works 8 hours a day to collect 1 TEASPOON of bee pollen. Savor this stuff. Seriously. Those little bees work their furry butts off!

Bee pollen is a natural source for numerous vitamins and minerals that help improve the function of the human body. HOWEVER - some people have an allergy to this - before you dive in feet first - make sure you won't have a reaction to bee pollen, much like someone that is allergic to a bee sting!

6. NUTS. We're nuts for nuts! But not peanuts! Peanuts are actually not a nut at all. They are a legume and are not paleo because they anti nutrients - which translates to - the actual good stuff you eat like minerals and vitamins get bound and do not absorb into your body. Poo poo on the peanuts!

Almonds, cashews, walnuts, macadamias are high in saturated fats, are paleo, and provide a great source of protein and omega 3's - which are essential to healthy eating. We make our own home made "trail mix". It usually consists of dried cranberries, chocolate chips (dairy, soy, gluten free), sun flower seeds, bee pollen, and nuts. We practically live on this stuff. It fills you up, and keeps your energy level up without having to consume a sugary "energy drink". Energy drink is another term for "crash and burn".

7. Zucchini - the magical vegetable. Squash? Something. We save the seeds too. Save them, clean them, bake 'em in the oven with some cinnamon or salt. Mmmm... home made squash seeds.

Zucchini can be made into so many dishes it's nuts. If you get a big enough zucchini, you can slice into rounds and make baked "zucchini pizza" - you can dip rounds in egg wash and almond flour - and saute in coconut oil for a healthy version of "fried zucchini". Get a nifty peeler to make long spaghetti like strands for zucchini pasta!

8. Cauliflower. I used to really only eat cauliflower if it was fried. In the beginning, I sort of hated cauliflower. But then... my husband found a way to pan roast cauliflower that made it buttery and divine. Now... we can't live without cauliflower. We mash it for creamy mashed cauliflower, roast it, rice it, boil it, devour it.

Nom nom nom nom nom....

9. Dark chocolate - 70% cacao or higher. I like the darker, the better. It tastes like coffee! I like coffee. BJ... does not like the coffee flavor so much.

Dark chocolate is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, is good for your heart, brain, tooth enamel, and helps to control your blood sugar. Just like bacon, don't go eating 3 lbs of it. Everything in moderation!

10. Almond & Coconut milk. It took a little getting used to in the beginning, but honestly - this stuff is delicious. Unless you have a local farmer that you know is raising grass fed free roaming cows that are not shot full of antibiotics and other harmful additives - drinking milk bought from a store is not all that great for you.

Milk is not really paleo. Almond & Coconut milk are a great substitute and so easy to make yourself at home. Store bought almond & coconut milk are full of sugars and preservatives that are just not necessary. Make your own almond milk at home - you control the ingredients, you control the sweetness.

And those are our top 10! Hopefully some of this information is helpful.

And now, I leave you with a cute picture of my cat.

SAM_2004

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary to us!

October 25, 2008 I married my best friend. I truly feel like one of the most blessed people on earth for having found the perfect companion, friend, and soul mate that could be matched to me. Before I met my husband, I had behind me a trail of hot mess train wreck relationships... from complete political and religious opposites, to bat shit crazy, to just down right "what was I thinking, was I that drunk?!" types.

In my early to mid twenties, I was so down on my self image that it was hard for me to believe that I deserved something good in my life - that because I was over weight and insecure that I needed to "settle for" whoever would have me. That's a horrible way to live! I had surgery, lost weight, and started to gain self confidence - and when I wasn't looking, BJ appeared in my life. At first I was hesitant to start a relationship with him because I was fresh out of another tragically ended relationship that near made me switch teams. However, he worked his charm, and wiggled his way into my heart.

That was no easy feat.

But, soon enough (ok, so almost immediately) I knew he was the one. There's just something about him - I just knew what I had was rare, and real, and was perfectly meant for me.

I wouldn't change my life for anything. Every moment, every experience, landed me directly in my husbands path at exactly the right moment. Meeting him, marrying him, has made everything I have gone through in my life worth every minute.

Not many people can say that they wouldn't change a thing about their life or their partner. I can honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing about us - we're perfectly imperfect. I like that best about us.

And I love my husband to the moon and back! Happy Anniversary to us - and to many more anniversaries to come!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

General life

Tonight my husband and I decided to go to Target to pick up a new router since ours was being a piece of crap (like most made over seas products are these days). We ended up going to Target at about 9:30pm. I have discovered that shopping anywhere after around 8pm, there are legions of teenage douche bags running amok. If you're above the age of 25, over weight, and have thrown your hair up into a messy ball on top of your head - this makes you a fantastic target for said douche bags.

But, anyone that knows me, knows I don't put up with much malarkey. So, said douche bags did not get far in their banter.

However, I wasn't always this way. Back in "the day" I was fairly shy and insecure and gave a crap about what EVERYONE thought. That insecurity prevented me from making friends, prevented me from going out and joining clubs, prevented me from exploring and experiencing life. Don't get me wrong - in my normal group of friends, I was a pretty loud outgoing person. But take me out of my comfort zone and it was a completely different scenario.

Tonight made me think about a conversation I had with my mom a few days ago. Her co-worker has a daughter that is currently new to college. She's considering switching schools because, from what I'm understanding, where she is it's hard to make friends.

It really has nothing to do with location, it has to do with self worth, self confidence, and the ability to believe you have something meaningful to offer a new found friendship/relationship. Until a person is ready within themselves to go out there and meet new people - no matter where you go - you won't be happy.

So many times I wish my 32 year old self could talk to my 18 year old self and smack some sense into her. I was more concerned with getting out of Vermont, and away from my past, that I didn't consider that once I got what I wanted - what the hell was I going to do? I was pretty shy and introverted when I first got to school. I was convinced that every move I made was being watched, judged, and documented to be used against me in some way in the very near future. I honestly made my first year of college worse then it really needed to be because of my own insecurities about myself. It wasn't that I wasn't a likable person - I was just an awkward person that didn't know how to meet new people. The thought of going out and joining a group or club scared the hell out of me. But truly, beyond the internet (which was only in it's infancy when I was in school) the only other way to meet people was thru classes or clubs.

It's amazing how much my insecurities about my weight, my past, my lack of experiences dictated much of what was supposed to be "the best time of my life". Who I am now, compared to who I was then - we're different people. After my first year of college, I transferred to a school in southern Vermont. And, because again, just because the location changed - didn't mean that I had.

I think that a lot of kids are not truly prepared for what going to college means. I used to think that the only way to success was to immediately go to college straight out of high school. I now think that going to college straight out of high school when you're not really prepared for that sort of change is more damaging. But, this is just my experience.

I've considered taking some night classes. I'd love to take some photography courses. My family keeps telling me I have missed my calling for food photography. Perhaps it's something to look into. I do miss having more time for my creative outlets.

Our lives have been pretty consumed with work and working on our new life style. Finding new ways of cooking has kept most of our free time pretty busy. But, it's been a successful journey so far. BJ has lost around 25 lbs, and I'm down 22 lbs. We've done our first side by side progression photos - and the changes are dramatic.

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Beyond that, nothing new to report. I'll have new recipes to post in the next week or so. Infact, we're making our first gluten free pumpkin cheese cake that is sans refined sugar! We'll see how that turns out. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lets get real

So, tonight I was digging thru some old archives on line of mine - rereading old posts, notes in facebook, really old bad poetry - and it occurred to me. I used to be a writer. At least, in my own mind, a writer that had something important to say. The older I've become, the less I hear that little inner voice screaming thoughts and ideas and ridiculousness. So, tonight, I've decided to "Lets get real" about who I am, and what I'm doing this for. A few weeks ago in a fit of disgust and, lets face it, a tantrum - I proclaimed to my husband that I was shutting down my blog because it was worthless, no one reads it, and I've got nothing important to say - that "who gives a shit what I think, what I eat, or how I feel". Wow, right?! A little glimpse at that sassy 17 year old reared it's ugly head. Boo hoo honey, grow up!

Obviously, I didn't shut down my blog. Sometimes I just need a moment to step away and let things sink in. I'm not doing this for who reads it. I'm doing this for me. Over the course of the past I'd say 10 years or so - I've been having trouble with my memory. Not something I've really talked about until a few days ago with my mother. I forget words, I forget conversations, I forget things I've done or seen or places I've been to. Not so much stuff from years ago - but recent stuff. It's scary. So I keep record of what I do so I don't forget. I photograph almost everything, so I don't forget.

Forgetting used to be one of the things I was really good at growing up. I learned at a young age to force away memories that would hurt me or make me uncomfortable.

The whose, whats, whens, wheres, and whys are not important. I'm 32 years old. And I think for the most part I've done fairly well in my life. I met my soul mate at 25, married him at 28, and have been happily with him for 7 years. He's shown me how to be a whole person, even if I do have my imperfections.

Unfortunately, it took me until the age of 32 to decide to make myself completely healthy. You can see as many doctors as you want to talk about problems, get medications refilled for such and such issue/disease/disorder - but true healing starts with you. You have to want to be well. You have to know that you DESERVE to be well. And if you're a breathing component on this grassy green earth - then you DESERVE to be well and happy. It's your God given right.

For me to truly get well, be well, and live well on this new journey we began two months and 20 lbs ago - I have to remind myself of where I've been. It's easy to become distracted by all the shiny new toys that pass by us in a day (aka, diet fads, the new hip thing to get into, etc) - but keeping it real, and close to home, is just as important as being passionate about some new adventure.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I was never the skinny popular kid that had a billion friends and was the life of the party. I was over weight, shy, and as I got older I used anger and aggression to keep people at what I felt was a safe distance. In high school - I really wasn't all that "different" than anyone else. I took what other people thought about me personally and made it into something bigger than it was. I could rattle off a dozen reasons why being "fat" isn't my fault - but ultimately - it IS my fault - for not taking control of myself. Patronizing someone who is over weight is not helping them fix the problem, it's giving them excuses to continue believing that being over weight, being unhealthy, is okay. It's not okay to slowly kill yourself with food. Self injury with food is just a slower way of cutting yourself. Believe me! I'd know! I've struggled with this affliction for years.

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You don't know what rock bottom is until you reach 426 lbs. That heavy emptiness that lingers inside the pit of your stomach screaming "You're worthless! Eat another donut!" You don't know fear until you're told you'll be dead by 35, if you even make it that long. At this point in my life (24 years old) I was still going by conventional methods of "losing weight" - sure, they worked for a while, I lost some weight - but slowly and surely, it crept back. So, I resorted to surgery, having a Gastric Bypass - the thing I thought for sure was going to "save" my life. And for the most part, it did what it was supposed to. Some shit inside me was removed and/or tied off - I lost 175 lbs, and bam! I was on the track to "recovery". Except... recovery isn't just healing from having your guts cut open. It's learning how to eat healthy again. And when I say at this point in my life I was still going by conventional methods - what I mean is - I was still listening to doctors that believed in medications and supplements rather then eating whole real foods. Isopure was one of my main staples after surgery. It's where I got 90% of my protein. That's not natural! Or normal! And over the course of about 4 years, the weight started creeping back on. GB is anything by easy, but it seemed like the best option at the time.

My Heaviest. 426 lbs.
t-halloween-426
175 Less after G/B surgery.
tracy-spacey

I guess part of me was trying to "ignore" the fact that the weight was coming back. "Oh, it's just 10 lbs! At least I'm not 426 anymore!" as if that's a viable excuse! Excuses are what got me to 426 lbs. And if that was rock bottom - WHY on earth would I allow myself to go back to that dark alley? I've got nothin'. No real reasonable answer. Notta.

With immense weight comes immense health issues. Infertility, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a list of many other things that can be attributed to the way we eat, and the way we live. It took regaining almost all of what I'd lost in 2004, and becoming more and more sick over the past year to wake up to what I have been doing to myself. Sure, in the past several years I've "wanted" to lose weight. I've "tried" to lose weight - conventionally speaking - but I was just sort of hoping that the problem would go away on it's own without any real effort. I don't know why I was being that ignorant, but there it is. We're keeping it real, right? I was being ignorant, and arrogant, and stupid.

I had the wonderful opportunity to go back to Vermont, my heartland, for my nephews wedding in August. A secret I've never spoke aloud? I haven't gone back in 12 years for several reasons - but the biggest reason of all was - I was too embarrassed to let people see what I'd turned into - AS IF MY WEIGHT DEFINED ME AS A HUMAN BEING! I KNOW, RIGHT?! What was WRONG with me! My weight does not define my ability to love, to laugh, to be a sister, to be a aunt, in-law, friend, companion, or co-worker. My weight does not define my accomplishments in life, my skill, my talent, or my passion. My weight does not define who I am, or where I am going. It can only abruptly STOP my life if it doesn't change, but it does not DEFINE me. *I* define me. And I decide the level of happiness in my life. It took me 32 years to come to that conclusion - but there it is.

350lbs in Vermont - August 2012
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So as I was saying in the beginning - I was going thru old notes and what nots that I had written over the past several years - and one thing that I found in my notes still holds the same truth - even though then, it didn't truly and fully resonate what it really meant to me. Part of it was inspiration from a fellow Spark People member (that right now I cannot recall her name) and I took that base, and created my own list of "excuses". And I'm reposting that, now, so I hopefully this time will not forget.

EXCUSES...

Are what got me to 426 Pounds in 2004

Are what got the inches around my abdomen to be taller than my height

Are what allowed me to wear a size 34/36 (in 2004)

Helped my joints ache

Prevented me from fitting in movie theater seats

Provided constant pain to my feet

Caused me to avoid all camera's and camcorders

Encouraged me to ignore mirrors at all cost

Caused me to gauge where I sat in a restaurant based on how wide the booths were

Created someone who didn't believe in herself

Brought out the very worst in me

Made it easy to ignore my needs

Festered and festered in each growing pound and inch

Allowed me to eat WHATEVER, WHENEVER

To lose control of my health

Put blinders on reality

Fogged my thoughts and feelings about myself

Robbed me of 15 years of my life

Gave me a reason to Give up

Caused me to shield myself from developing healthy relationships

Prevented me from having friends because I was too worried about what others thought

Allowed me to keep abusive friendships out of fear of losing the few "friends" I had

Excuses led me to where I am now, its time to get up and do something different.

“Discipline is remembering what you want.” (John Campbell)

While I may not be 426 lbs anymore, that same festering hunger monster still lives inside me. Slowly but surely weight was creeping back on. I gained back a hefty 80 or 90 lbs from what I lost after surgery. I refuse to allow this to continue to control my life. I am more then my weight, I am more then my excuses. I'm stronger then I give myself credit for. It's just time for me to start believing in that.

We're all stronger then we give ourselves credit for. No matter what your demon, no matter what your struggle - BELIEF in yourself can be the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Belief that you are better then the lowest point in your life, yet humble enough to recognize when you stumble. Admit to yourself that you can change, and you will. Realize that the control is within yourself, and you'll make progress.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sweet treats and Good eats!

Since beginning this path to live Gluten Free, I've been terrified to bake. Why, you may ask? Because every single fundamental thing you were taught in science class, and home economics does NOT apply here. Allow me to explain.

Being Gluten Free means no wheat. No wheat means... no flour. No flour? How can you bake without flour?!? Exactly! That's what I said? YOU CAN'T! But, alas, I was wrong. Though it does take practice and patience. I don't have much patience, so thank God my husband does! Otherwise, we'd never have a sweet treat again. Ever.

It's different, having to get used to baking with Almond Flour and Coconut Flour. The texture and consistence is so far from what regular wheat flour is it's astounding. But, they are flavorful and when something comes out right - it's down right delicious. So, because I've been too scared to bake (at least until this very weekend) - I was mainly dipping as much stuff in melted chocolate as I could get my hands on.

We prefer dark chocolate in our house. The darker, the better. I find that the really dark chocolates, like 85-88% dark cocoa, have this strong coffee taste that I love. Probably because one of my top 5 favorite things in life is coffee. So the bonus of having chocolate that TASTES like coffee? Yeeaaahhhh buddy.

BJ and I have been doing a lot of reading on line regarding Paleo living and Gluten Free. I'd say we're probably about 80% Paleo, but I'm living 100% Gluten free. Snacking is a hard factor, especially considering my favorite form of snack was something with bread in it.

While skimming thru Pin Interest, I was looking at all these paleo / gluten free snacks people had posted. Someone had made these date & nut dipped chocolate balls. I knew I had to make them. But I knew I had to mess with the recipe - because, well, I just can't leave anything alone. It's just my nature. Don't hate.

I began with 1 small log of goat cheese, 1/2 cup whole dried dates (or dried prunes if you prefer), 3/4 cup whole shelled walnuts, 1/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, your choice), and a drizzle of honey. I threw it all in my Ninja blender - and pulverized the hell out of it. It should look something like this:
SAM_1648

Ones your mixture is well incorporated, wet your hands a bit (this mixture is sticky!!!) Start rolling the mixture into bite size balls, and set on a plate or a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Place in freezer so the balls can firm up and not fall apart when you dip them in the melted chocolate.
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Meanwhile, toast up some additional coconut in a dry pan on the stove top. Don't walk away from this - or you will burn the coconut. You must watch it. Like a hawk. Stir it every 20-30 seconds to ensure the coconut is starting to brown, but not turn black. This will take a good 2-4 minutes. Do not set the heat too high. Medium should be a good temperature to begin with. Once the coconut is done, set aside on a plate to cool. Then begin chopping up chocolate to melt down in the microwave (or stove top if you want to deal with that whole double boiler thing!). Every 30 seconds, remove chopped chocolate and stir, keep doing this until almost fully melted, and then continue stirring until it is completely smooth with no lumps.
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Once the chocolate is melted, remove the nut balls from the freezer. (Please, if you have actual nut balls in your life that are living breathing organisms, do not stick them in the freezer for any period of time.) Drip the nut balls one at a time into the chocolate, then set on a wax paper covered baking sheet to set. First, sprinkle each with a bit of the toasted coconut. Repeat with remaining nut balls. Allow to set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, then they are ready to eat!
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Enjoy!