Why I Hate Saying, “I’m Paleo”

As many of you know, I’ve been about the paleo life for about a year and a half now. Last April (2014), I decided to do a month-long paleo challenge to see what all the fuss was about and…I was sold. I loved the new relationship that I developed with food and health more broadly. I loved my new understandings of how different foods affected my mind and body. I loved the motivation to be creative in the kitchen – trying new techniques and flavors as well as varying my produce and meats. What I have enjoyed the least about “being paleo” is having to navigate awkward social/dining situations. Recently, I’ve found myself saying things like, “I’m not eating grains right now,” or “I’m staying away from gluten at the moment,” as a way of trying to draw less attention and not be the weird-eating girl. 

Like most buzz words, “paleo” functions to convey information succinctly and efficiently, but with that comes oversimplification. While telling someone that I’m “paleo” can be a easy way to give them a sense of my dietary preferences (assuming that they are familiar with the term), it can also lead to being stereotyped as a cross-fit obsessed freak who eats insane amounts of meat and walks around barefoot. 

This overly simplistic understanding of the paleo lifestyle often gives way to substance-less critiques of the paleo diet that ignore both the foundational ideas behind it and the fact that “living paleo” goes far beyond food. For example, the fact that our cavemen ancestors didn’t have very long lifespans is one of the most common critiques of paleo. This is a fact that no one who lives the paleo life would contest. We would, however, note that our ancestors also lacked the inventions of modern medicine and often encountered predators that no longer roam the Earth. While it’s easy enough to retort this critique of the diet, this conversation distracts us from thinking about the ideas that underly the paleo lifestyle. Paleo is not a nostalgic quest. It is not about resisting modernity or mimicking a pre-existing time. Rather than doing a strict compare and contrast between modern human beings and our caveman ancestors, it’s more productive to think about the framework that history provides for thinking about present day.

When we examine health historically, the positive correlation between the increased “production” of food through industrial development and the decline of our overall health is evident. Paleo forces us to confront the impacts that over-development and capitalism have had on our minds and bodies. It asks us to question the information about food and nutrition that we have been fed (pun intended) for years and to start listening to our bodies. It highlights the uncertainty of “fact” by exposing flawed scientific studies. It makes us uncomfortably aware of how our health is linked to larger social, political, and economic structures over which we as individuals have little control. 

So while I might find myself saying, “I’m paleo” as a quick reference, I do so in hopes that it will open a space to think critically and holistically about healthy living. 

What My Sundays Look Like: Meal Prep

Hey guys! 

So I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been planning to do a post on meal prepping. I’ve had one drafted for a while but I think I was trying to do too much with it. While going through my routine today, I decided that I would simply share, in a super simplified manner, what I usually do on Sundays to prepare for the week. 

1. Roast Veggies

I eat vegetables in pretty large quantities. Even though most veggies don’t take very long to prepare, 30 minutes in the oven can seem like an eternity after a long day. It’s also great to have veggies sides already made for packing to-go lunches throughout the week. For this reason, I generally roast 2-3 bags of veggies from Trader Joe’s every Sunday. I keep the flavor profile simple – olive oil or ghee, salt and pepper – since I’m not sure what meals I’ll be using them for. This batch doesn’t usually last me the whole week but it gets me through the first few days at least.

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2. Prepare Post-Workout Carbs

In addition to roasting my veggies, I also prepare 2-3 servings of some form of dense carbohydrate to have ready after workouts. I generally try to refuel within 30 minutes of finishing my workout and this makes it much easier. This is especially handy for packing post-workout meals to go. I often roast sweet potatoes along with my veggies so that I can have everything cooked in one swoop. I already had some tapicoa noodles in the fridge so I didn’t actually have to make any carbs today (which is why those in the photo are raw). 

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3. Prepare/Marinate Protein

The last, and perhaps the most important, part of my Sunday meal prep is preparing my proteins for the week. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, the protein component of the meal is often the most time consuming. It’s hard to find good sources of protein that can be eaten in their raw form. While canned fish and legumes are great, you don’t want to be eating from cans all week. For this reason, I make sure to give my protein some thought. I generally cook or marinate 1-2 proteins each Sunday. Since I have some leftovers in the fridge, I just decided to marinate some chicken today. I generally have no interest in eating chicken that hasn’t been thoroughly marinated (it just lacks flavor if you cook it straight away) so I make sure to get this going so that I can I can just throw it in the oven the next day. 

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4. Pack Lunch

As things finish up in the oven and I begin putting them in storage containers, I just go ahead and make my lunch for the next day. Having lunch ready to go is great on any day of the week but I find that on Mondays in particular, I really appreciate having one less thing to do before I get out of the door. It makes a huge difference and helps set me up for a good week. 

Hope this is helpful. 

Sabrina 

 

 

 

Life Lately

Hey guys!

Long time, no post. The past couple of weeks have been transitional. And from what and to what am I transitioning you might ask? I’ve basically been having a hard time moving from my summer work life to my summer leisure life. It might sound weird but it’s actually pretty awkward to go from having a super crazy schedule to having a super laxed one. It’s a bit of a shock to have entirely open days where you don’t have to do anything or go anywhere particular. I know all of the non-students out there probably think I sound ridiculous but it is quite an adjustment. I’ve realized that I’m at my best when I’m either full on or full off. I struggle with the in between. Because I am working at the writing center on campus twice a week and because I should be studying for, or at least preparing to study for, my qualifying exams next year, I’m in this weird spot between summer mode and productive mode. It’s uncomfortable for me. And the past couple of weeks have basically been spent with me reveling that discomfort and consequently, being M.I.A. My days have all blurred together in a sea of yoga and Netflix and I am slowly but surely trying to find some higher definition. 

I still haven’t quite found my balance but I’m working towards it. I have set some very minimal, totally reasonable, goals for the rest of the summer. I’ll be away visiting family in Atlanta and Chicago for most of August so I’m not being too hard on myself about my lack of productivity. If I’ve learned nothing in my 24 – soon to be 25! – years of living is that things tend to come together. I always pull it together when I need to but I also require a lot of personal time and that okay. I think I may just need to take my summer as a summer rather than succumbing to the grad school pressure to constantly work. My dedication to having work/life balance has been making my question whether I want to build my life in the U.S., where the work culture can be so toxic. I’ll probably end up running off to work at some university abroad where I can be free….but I digress! This is whole other story for a whole other day. 

Somewhere in the craziness of this summer, and perhaps as an attempt to inject some structure and focus into my life, I decided to run another half marathon in the fall. On October 18, I will be running 13.1 long San Franciscan miles as a part of Nike’s Annual Women’s Half Marathon. In order to participate in the race, you have to enter a lottery and be randomly selected. I did not do this, as I had no intentions of doing a race anytime soon. There is a girl in my running group, however, who was selected and will not be able to train because of a recent injury. She posted on our FB group about someone taking her spot and I started playing around with the idea. I was really surprised that I was even considering it because, as I said, I had NO intentions of doing a race anytime soon. My relationship to running has been a bit weird lately. I typically run to yoga a couple of days out of the weeks, which is about 3 miles. On Saturday, I might do a longer run with my group, usually no more than 5-7 miles. As I walked back home, immediately after finishing an 8-miler with the crew on Saturday, I thought to myself, “Was I really thinking about doing that half? That seems nuts.” And then by the time I actually got back to my apartment, I thought, “It’s only 5 more miles than I just did, right? Why not.” And that was all she wrote. I love San Francisco and in spite of – or perhaps because of – the hills, it’s a great city for runners. I’m excited to take part in the event and have an excuse (not that I ever really need one) to get up NorCal again.

So that’s probably the most excited thing that’s happened since my last post. I’m thinking of doing some kind of journal of my training on the blog. Not sure what that might look like yet. I definitely plan on posting my plan once I organize it and perhaps some of my running playlists as those will be critical to my success. 

Ciao for now. 

Sabrina 

 

Review of One Pot Paleo + Buttered Leek Quiche (with potato crust)

IMG_0654Hey folks! 

I’m coming to you today with another cookbook review. The featured book for today is One Pot Paleo by Jenny Castaneda of PaleoFoodieKitchen. If you’re not already familiar with Paleo Foodie Kitchen, it just takes a quick look at the site to see that Jenny knows her way around the kitchen. Her blog is an awesome resource for newbie and seasoned paleo eaters alike, with amazing dishes inspired by Filipino cuisine and Asian flavors more broadly. One Pot Paleo is a collection of  recipes that is nothing short of perfection. If it wasn’t enough that the recipes are incredible, the book embodies simplicity through its “one pot” concept. That’s right, everything in this cookbook can be made using one main cooking dish. How incredible is that? As someone who lives life sans dishwasher, I am completely OVER washing dishes and thus, I am eternally grateful for Jenny’s work. The recipes in One Post Paleo is conveniently organized in sections according to the kind of dish they require, leaving those of us with tiny kitchens and limited cookware with few excuses. 

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(Dutch Baby) 

The simplicity of One Pot Paleo is evident in its short ingredient lists. This book isn’t full of recipes that require high-end ingredients or expensive cuts of meat. It instead serves as a guide for transforming a list of simple ingredients and one pot into amazingly flavorful and satiating meals. Perfect for new comers and veterans of the cooking game. 

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(Hawaiian Meatballs) 

I’m slowly but surely working through all of the amazing recipes in this book (make note of all my post-it markers!). In addition to those pictured, some of the recipes that I’m most excited to make include: 

  • Balsamic Sausage and Vegetables
  • Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice 
  • Open-Faced Sloppy Joes (on a portabello!) 
  • Korean Noodles
  • Sweet and Sour Pork
  • Filipino Chicken BBQ 
  • Weeknight Gumbo 

Be sure to stay tuned to Instagram to see all of these lovely creations! 

I chose to share Jenny’s recipe for Buttered Leek Quiche with you guys because it is the essence of the simplicity that OPP is all about. It’s super simple to make, yummy, and filling. It’s absolutely perfect for a post-workout meal as it’s backed with protein, veggies, and healthy carbs. Everything you need to replenish those muscles! I already have the leftovers packed the ready to go for my post-workout lunch tomorrow. Can’t wait!

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Butter Leek Quiche
Serves 3
Delicious leek and butter quiche with a potato crust
Write a review
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lb (900 g) potatoes, shredded*
  2. 1 T (15 ml) ghee, melted
  3. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  4. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  5. 8 large eggs
  6. 1/4 C (60 ml) Coconut Milk (used canned or make your own using recipe from One Pot Paleo)
  7. 1/2 tsp paprika
  8. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  9. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  11. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  12. 2 leek stalks (white parts only), quartered and thinly sliced
  13. 2 T (30 g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degree F (220 degrees C).
  2. Using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, squeeze out the excess liquid from the potatoes. Season the potatoes with ghee, black pepper, and sea salt.
  3. Arrange and press the potatoes on the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20-cm) baking dish until it's about 1" (2.5 cm) thick. This will reduce in half once the potatoes are cooked, so a thicker layer is necessary. Bake in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes until the top is light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees C (190 degrees C).
  5. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Add coconut milk, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk until light and frothy. Add the leeks to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture on top of the baked potatoes. Randomly distribute the cubed butter pieces on top. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake uncovered for 25 minutes until the eggs are set. Turn off the heat and leave the quiche in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting and serving.
Notes
  1. *I'm lazy and I hate shredding veggies so I just chopped the potatoes up in small-ish chucks in pulsed them a few times in the food processor (make sure it's not too overcrowded) until it got to a texture that worked for pressing it into a crust.
Girl With the Hipster Glasses http://girlwiththehipsterglasses.com/
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My Winnings from the Pumps and Iron Giveaway

IMG_0400Hey guys! For those of you who with whom I’m FB friends, you may have seen a status that I posed a while back about winning a huge prize package from one of my favorite fitness blogs. Well, that blog was Pumps&Iron. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before. It’s one of the first blogs that I started following a few years ago when I got into reading blogs. The owner of P&I, Nicole Perry, posts awesome workouts of all kinds with photo tutorials that help demonstrate the movement and the proper form. Her blog is my go-to when I’m looking to incorporate new moves into my routine or if I’m traveling and need to put something together on the go. At this point, she has a TON of workouts up and you can search for them on the site by target area, workout structure (latter, intervals, AMRAP), or the equipment that the workout requires. Super convenient! I highly recommend this site for anyone whose looking to stay/get fit and would like inspiration and ideas for how to keep their workouts interesting and effective. She also posts about fashion and food making for a well-rounded reading experience. 

So now that I’ve revealed myself as a fitness-blog-fangirl, I can show you guys all the awesome stuff that I won in the Pumps&Iron giveaway. I think I entered the giveaway back in April. It was the last of a series of giveaways that Nicole was hosting throughout the month along with a fitness challenge. I enter a lot of giveaways. Why not, right? It’s generally pretty simple of enter, just a matter of clicking a few buttons and maybe liking something on Facebook. Even though I always enter these contests, I never actually expect to win them. I usually enter and then completely forget about them. So when I opened my email (my yahoo account that I use exclusively for emails related to shopping, giveaways, and other things that would be too distracting in my main email), I was SO SURPRISED when I had an email from Nicole saying that I had won the big prize package. I was absolutely floored. The package included a $50 gift card to either LuluLemon or Atheleta (I opted for Lulu), 2 classes at a fitness studio of my choice (I chose to try Barry’s Bootcamp since it’s been on my list for a while and I still haven’t been), a piece of workout equipment of my choice (I got an ab power wheel), and a whole slew of products from NOW Solutions. And when I say “whole slew,” I mean, whole slew. 

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As you can see, I got two huge boxes full of NOW products. Here are some of the ones that I’m most excited about. 
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These boxes crowded the living room in our apartment for days before I finally figured out what to do with them. I was able to put some things away and then condense everything else down to one box (which is still in the living room). I just don’t know what to do with it all! I’m excited to try all this stuff out as well as get to Barry’s Bootcamp soon and get my core strength up with my ab wheel. My handstands are about to be ON POINT. 

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It feels awesome to win. 

GWHP

NorCal Weekend Getaway

Hey guys!

I just made it back to LA from a lovely weekend up North in the Bay. I finished TAing my summer course last Tuesday and I couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate and regroup taking a weekend getaway. I love going up to San Francisco to visit Nora and Gen but this time, one of my friends who lives in Cuba was back in town for a bit so I had to be sure to see her as well.

I got into SF on Thursday night and promptly met up with Nora and Gen in downtown SF for dinner, followed by an interesting night at The Battery. The Battery is a social club in San Francisco that holds various events throughout the year and on Thursday, it just so happens that they were having a really special event. I still don’t actually know what the theme/premise of the event was but basically, every room had something different. The club itself is absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful, elegant decor with bars and dining spaces on both floors. On the first level, there was a somewhat typical bar scene with people standing around chatting. Updaters things started to get more interesting. On a small plateau in the middle of two sets of stairs were people reading palms and telling fortunes. The line was rather long for this activity just we worked our way to it to the second level. In the corridor on the second level was an arts and crafts space. There were two tables, one for glitter/drawing/collaging and another for writing love notes to oneself. I didn’t actually end up writing a letter to myself, which I’m honestly kind of bummed about but I did make a great collage that I will be displaying in my room along with my art from random wine/paint nights.

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After arts and crafts, we ended up in a room with another bar and some singing drag queens. They were quite the life of the party. This room definitely had a more fun vibe than the bar downstairs so we hung out here for a bit. And then to finish off the night, we learned a bit of salsa in the room across the hall. Initially we were all being lamos, standing on the wall, watching everyone else dance but we eventually got roped in since there was a shortage of “followers.” I really glad that I ended up doing this. It was a lot of fun. I got paired up with a random guy to start and then we ended up doing a move where we change partners while dancing in a circle so I ended up dancing with pretty much everyone. It was a good time. Kind of made me feel like I have coordination. Kind of.

On Friday, while all of my friends were being adults, I took a day to explore the city. I started my day with a class at Yoga to the People in the Mission. I had actually first heard of YTP from my friend Kyle while I was visiting New York last year. He said that he thought I’d appreciate it. It’s basically this awesome yoga organization that is entirely donation based and operates in the Bay, NYC, and Seattle. The instructor was great. The gorgeous 5th floor loft space was absolutely drool-worthy, and the come-as-you-are vibe of it was refreshing. YTP will definitely be my go-to yoga spot whenever I in a city where they operate.

After yoga, I made my way over to Dandelion Chocolate. Dandelion is a must-go for me every time I’m in SF. They make delicious hand-crafted small batch chocolate that is dairy- and soy-free. High quality dark chocolate goes a LOOOOOONG way in my book so I made sure to schedule Dandelion into my day. While the chocolate alone makes Dandelion worth raving about, the experience was made even better by the fact that I ran into an old study abroad friend. Kaylen and I both studied together in Paris through Middlebury’s program and hadn’t seen each other since that semester ended in January 2011. It was such an awesome surprise walking in and seeing her face. It’s always so amazing to reconnect with great people.

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After Dandelion, I started making my way back to Nora’s, where I was staying. I had initially planned to take the bus back since I was about 4 miles away but it was such a lovely day in the Bay, and I was wearing my running shoes, so I just decided to walk. On the way back, I grabbed a coffee at Philz, this great local coffee chain that Genevieve has recommended to me. They had the most impressive selection of decaf options that I’ve ever come across in a coffeeshop and the blend that I got was top notch. Would highly recommend!

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I made it back to Nora’s and chilled out until meeting up with her and her friends for dinner and drinks that night. On Saturday morning and I headed to Oakland to meet up with Sarah to experience the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market. Sarah had told me great things about this farmer’s market before and I was not at all disappointed. Great variety of fresh, local produce and hot meals as well baked goods and other edible things. I ended up coming back with four spice blends, two logs of salami, and a package of beef jerky. And I tried so hard to stick to my budget! Womp. womp.

After saying bye to Sarah, I met up with Sam, my friend who is lives in Cuba and we chilled out for the rest of the day with one of her friends. There was no real structure to the day, which I appreciated. It was just to just be in a different place with familiar faces. That evening we went out to San Jose to meet up with another one of Sam’s friends from college, Q. We went to dinner and I had pho for the first time.

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It was amazing.

We stayed in San Jose for the night at Q’s house. It was great to sit up and chat about everything that came to mind. On Sunday morning, I was up before everyone else (surprise, surprise) so I went for a short run, where I encountered this guy.

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After running, I went back to meet Sam and Q and then we headed out for tacos and cheap clothes shopping before they dropped me off at the Oakland airport. Was a perfect weekend away from LA.

GWHG

Yoga Diary 3: Find the Dance

As a finish up what was a world-wind of a 4-week summer teaching-assistantship, I’m reflecting back on the experience as well as those that came before it, wondering “how did I do that?” So much has happened in the past four weeks, in the past year, in the past two years, and despite the many challenges I’ve encountered, I somehow ended up here. It wasn’t always pretty, or graceful, but I made it to this moment. 

I continue to be amazed by how much my practices on the mat resonate with life off the mat. When I first started going to ODD (about a year and a half ago! crazy!), one of my favorite yoga homies (s/o to Alexis!) would often tell us to “find the dance” in class. While I loved the idea of imaging myself as a dancer, my lack of graceful movement and sometimes, my complete inability to perform certain poses, prevented me from fully engaging this metaphor. Over time, however, I’ve realized that the dance is not not one of pure grace. It is not moving effortlessly. It is not being able to perform every pose perfectly. Instead, the dance is what happens when you embrace life and all its realness. You tap into your human ability to adapt and respond. You find flow in the chaos. 

As I look back on my first two years of my PhD program, my first two years in Los Angeles, it wasn’t always graceful. My lines weren’t straight as they could of been, my leaps weren’t as high. But the fact that I’m here now, in this moment, looking back makes me confident that despite my clumsiness – despite the fact that my branches always blow in tree pose – I’ve found my flow. 

Keep dancing. 

GWHG

Eating Paleo on a Budget

receipts

Hey folks!

If you read some of my preceding entries, you might be aware that one of my big goals for 2015 is to take control over my spending, particularly the money that I spend on groceries. I struggled with this even before embracing the primal lifestyle earlier this year, but I must say that eating paleo has definitely exacerbated the problem. Unfortunately, we live in a society where high quality food is a luxury, so trying to do right by my body has been costing me a pretty penny. While the quality and quantity of meats and produce that the paleo lifestyle calls for are a huge factor, I also have to take responsibility for my own high-brow preferences when in the grocery store. Buying certain cuts of meat over others that are just as nutritious, splurging for some different variation of a vegetable just because it’s a pretty color (though I know that there is no difference in taste), or “treating” myself to ridiculously expensive “paleo” treat because one of my favorite bloggers has posted about it. After having been happily paleo for over a year now (crazy!), I have come to see the error in my ways and I am ready for share all of my knowledge with you guys. Hopefully this will be helpful for some of you guys out there who might be looking to make some changes in your lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Create a Meal Plan. Make a List. Stick to it.

This budgeting tip is useful regardless of your dietary preferences. Taking the time to think about your meals for the week before going to the grocery makes a huge difference. For one thing, it keep you from buying too much food, which lessens the likelihood of it going to waste. This is especially true with produce. From a financial standpoint, having thought about what you need for the week and made a list of things that you need to buy keeps you from snatching up any random thing that you think you might want. While thinking ahead about what you need is one thing, it’s a whole other thing to actually stick to the list once you’re in the store. I’ll admit that I’m rarely ever successful at this. Whether I go in for one thing or fifteen things, I always come out with something extra. What I can say, however, is that when I at least make the effort to stick to my list, I come out with a lot less extra stuff than when I go in without a list or when I completely disregard it.

Ground Meat, Canned Fish, and Frozen Meats/Fish 

Animal protein is a key component of the primal lifestyle. As we know, buying large quantities of meat and seafood can get pricey pretty quickly. While I enjoy treating myself to expensive cuts every now and then, it’s way more practical to stick to ground meats, cheaper cuts, and canned fish, such as salmon, tuna, or sardines, for the day to day. This is especially true if you’re trying to stick to grass-fed meats and wild caught seafood, which is already more expensive. Ground meats and canned fish are pretty versatile so as long as you’re creative you shouldn’t get too bored too fast. You should also explore frozen meats and fish, as it is general cheaper than fresh versions. Trader Joe’s sells reasonably-priced grass-fed steak in their freezer section as well as wild caught salmon, cod, tilapia, and other fish. When buying frozen meat or fish, just go for the plain, unseasoned varieties as opposed to the pre-seasoned/flavored ones as some of the ingredients can get a bit funky. Obviously, you can (and should!) jazz them up with quality spices and homemade sauces on your own.

Buy Local and Seasonal

This one might not seem like an issue for your budget but it can be. Buying food that in season is often cheaper than buying things that aren’t. Aside from just budgeting, this is also just a good general produce-purchasing practice (yes for alteration!). This post (http://www.insonnetskitchen.com/a-guide-to-eating-locally-and-seasonally/) from Sonnet at At Sonnet’s Kitchen does a good job at explaining why buying local seasonal produce of beneficial for both your health and your wallet.

Frozen Veggies

I always forget about on the frozen vegetables when I’m in the grocery store. Because I generally associate “frozen food” with crappy microwavable dinners and other nutrient-poor, chemically produced food-like options, strolling through the freezer section often never occurs to me. Depending on what your plans are for your veggies, buying them frozen may or may not make sense. Obviously, if you’re planning to eat them raw, go fresh. If you’re planning to steam them or add them to stir-frys or soups, however, frozen could be a good look. When buying frozen, just make sure to check the label for any added ingredients. Trader Joe’s offers a number of frozen veggies that are just the vegetables with no additives and they can cost far less than their fresh counterparts. If there are no added ingredients, you shouldn’t be concerned about the nutritional content of frozen vegetables as they are often as nutritious, if not more, than fresh vegetables since they are frozen at the point where they are most ripe. Frozen veggies are also a great way to go if you haven’t perfected your meal planning skills and are prone to having veggies go bad before you use them.

Knowing When to Buy Organic V. Non-Organic

For those of us who are ballin’ and trying to live healthily, buying organic is an easy choice. If you have the money, why not? If you’re trying to watch your spending, however, it’s beneficial to know what produce is more likely to contain pesticide residue and thus, might make more sense to buy organic. To help with this, it’s worth taking a look at the “Clean Thirteen” and the “Dirty Dozen” to familiarize yourself with which produce is generally safe to buy non-organic and which may not be. You should also check out this list (http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php) that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes every year detailing which produce contains the highest levels of pesticide residue. A more general rule that I use when I’m unable to consult these lists is to buy organic for things that don’t have a hard shell or thick skin protecting the part that you eat (i.e. apples, spinach, tomatoes, etc.) and buy non-organic for things with protective coverings (i.e. bananas, avocados, etc.).

Don’t Feast on Nuts and Seeds

Of all the things on this list, this is probably the one that will be the biggest struggle for me. I absolutely love nuts. Almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts – you name it. I also really enjoy the various butters that are created from these nuts, which are now widely available in grocery stores all over. While nuts, seeds, and their butters make great primal snacks, they should by no means be a large part of your diet. A handful of nuts to curb your appetite between meals is okay but they shouldn’t be eaten in place of meals or in quantities that are comparable to a meal in calories. I know all of this and still, I indulge. I over-indulge. After realizing that I lack self-control when it comes to nuts, I have had bouts over the past 9 months where I stopped buying them all together. This was helpful in that it made me realize that I often eat nuts simply because I love them and not because I’m hungry. It also brought it to my attention how much money I spend on them. If you’re occasionally snacking on almonds they last a while and so it’s not a a big deal that they’re a bit expensive. If you’re going through two 1-pound bags of almond a week, at 7 bucks a pop, it starts of add up. If you have self-control, I suggest keeping a bag of your favorite nuts around for a quick snack or to pack when traveling, but don’t rely on them as a major source of calories.

Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype // Keep It Simple

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about “going paleo” is experimenting with ingredients to which I hadn’t previously given much thought. With all the paleo food blogs and cookbooks out there, it’s easy to get wrapped up in trying a bunch of new recipes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The tricky part, however, is to realize when those recipes are A) moving you away from the principles of the primal lifestyle and B) costing you way too much money. Because the paleo lifestyle has a reputation for being super restrictive, many food bloggers spend time creating recipes that mimic non-paleo dishes while using ingredients that are “technically paleo.” Some of the common ingredients used are nut flours such as those made from almonds and hazelnuts, fancy starches and powder such as arrowroot and tapioca, and unrefined sugars such as pure maple syrup and raw local honey. This scenario is especially common when it comes to making “paleo” breads and desserts. These things are fun to play around with but ultimately, they get you way from the “real food” mentality upon which the primal lifestyle based and result in you over-buying obscure overpriced ingredients. Having learned this lesson the hard way, I would say that you should resist the urge to dive into the world of complicated “paleo” recipes and keep it simple most of the time. Invest in your spice cabinet and use it to create amazing tasting meats and veggies rather than putting in extra time and extra money into trying to create “paleo” versions of unhealthy foods.

That’s all I have folks! Hope this is helpful. I will be informally chronicaling my grocery budgeting throughout the year. Hopefully I will be able to heed my own advice. *fingers crossed

 

GWHG

 

 

 

Deconnecting to Reconnect: Weekend Camping in Ojai Valley

Hey friends, 

Those of you who follow me on the Instagram might know that I spent this past weekend camping in the Ojai Valley. I went with one my Meetup groups and it was a great way to re-center and recharge after having had little time to recuperate from Spring semester before jumping into TAing for the summer. When I found out that there would be no cell service at the camp site, I made the decision to go completely technology free (aside from my digital camera) for the weekend. I turned off my phone and ditched my iPad once we got there. I was ready to disconnect from the interwebs so that I could reconnect with myself and the lovely people with whom I was sharing the experience. 

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We got to the camp site around 4:30 on Friday evening and got everything set up. I had never put up a tent before so I had to tap into my inner girl scout to get things done. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things went. I was sharing a tent with the event organizer so once ours was put up, I floated around to help some of the others with theirs before starting to get things set up for dinner. 

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A couple of people brought camping stoves so we were able to make ourselves some solid eats. The first night was paella with shrimp and chicken sausage along with rice and pasta salad. I wasn’t eating rice or pasta so I had a hearty helping of the paella which was super paleo friendly…

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…unlike the s’mores that I made in the campfire after dinner. 😀 The campfire was, hands down, my favorite part of camping. One of the girls on the trip, who’s also about the paleo life, referred to it as “paleo television.” The smells, the warmth, the flames in the night. It was mesmerizing and perfect.

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The next day, we got up early. I was eager to break out my mat and do some flows, especially because my body was achy from my first night of tent sleeping. After my yoga session, I joined the group for a delicious breakfast of chorizo and eggs and then we set out for some hiking. 

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It was hot, but the mountains were lovely. 

After hiking, we drove into the town of Ojai for the rest of the afternoon to stroll around and check out the shops before going back to the camp site for dinner. 

The next day we had breakfast and packed up before heading out to this awesome cactus farm. 

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From the cactus, we took a brief stroll on the walking/bike path before grabbing some tacos and getting back on the road to LA. It was a quick trip but just what I needed to reset myself. 

Now that I’m back and re-centered, I’m embarking on a 38-day mind/body challenge hosted by one of my favorite homies at One Down Dog, Alexis Novak. You should check out her instagram (@alexisgirlnovak) for details about the challenge and keep an eye out for my instagram posts throughout the challenge period. Now that the summer has arrived, there are a ton of fitness challenges going on but what’s different about Alexis’ is that it’s designed for us to challenge not only our bodies but also our minds and our spirits by setting goals in different areas of our lives such as relationships, finance, health & fitness, and professional in order to promote a more holistic and balanced approach to personal growth and bettering. As a part of my “Heath and Fitness” goals, I am, again, cutting out added sugar in hopes of 1) getting my sugar cravings under control 2) giving my body that extra push before I put on y bikini for the first time this year.

I’m excited about what this next 38-days will bring. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

GWHG

 

 

Review: The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook + Grilled Eggplant Stacked with Indian-Spiced Beef

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Firstly, I should say that I’m really excited to be done with the semester and the second year of my program. It was a crazy ride, for sure, but I think I finished up pretty strong, with my sanity in tack. Now that the school year is done, however, I’m excited to be able to update a little more often, and hopefully get some recipes and workouts up. 

Secondly, I should say that this cookbook review has been a long time coming. Diana Rodgers, creator of Sustainable Dish, was kind enough to send me a copy of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook to review back in March. Because things have been so crazy, I am only now finding the time to sit down and construct this post. 

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Though I’m only sharing one recipe from this book with you today, I have tried a fair amount of them at this point so I am more than confident in recommending this book to add to your collection.

What’s awesome about this book, however, is that it’s not just a book of delicious recipes. It’s a comprehensive guide to sustainable growing practices. While I acknowledge that most of us, myself included, are not in a possible to start our own farms where we raise our own animals and grow our own produce, we can all benefit from learning more about sustainable growing practices. One of the major principles underlying the paleo lifestyle is building a better connection with our food and there is no better way to do that than by educating ourselves about the how our produce should be grown and how our animals should be raised in order to then support growers and companies that engage in these practices.

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The book is just about 400-pages, organized into four major parts: Raising, Growing, Cooking, and Living. The “Raising” section discusses how to properly raise animals such as chickens, pigs, goats and even bees, providing an abundance of information about their behaviors, diets, and spatial requirements. “Growing” is a guide to successfully growing your own produce with a ton of practical info about soil, planting beds, different plant species and pests. As you might have guessed, “Cooking” is where all the yummy stuff is, like the recipe that I’m sharing with you below. And finally, the “Living” section provides a template for creating balance in your life through an over healthy lifestyle. Some of the topics covered include, “Getting Away From It All”, “Find Personal Fulfillment,” and “Playing Chicken Shit Bingo” (apparently this is a form of entertainment on the farm). Thus, rather than focusing solely on the consumption portion of food, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook serves as a comprehensive guide to living a holistically sustainable life. The pages provide you with all the information you need to understand food systems and to be not only a health-conscious, but an environmentally-conscious consumer.  

I’ve been reading The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook before bed for the past few weeks (as a way of distracting myself from starting at my screens right before bed) and I feel as though I’ve become so much more knowledgable about food production, and more firm in my anti-factory farming politics. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves their body, loves food, and loves the environment.

Now, on to the yummy stuff. 

Many of you may know, that I love Indian food. Like, OBSESSED with the flavors. So it’s not surprising that I chose this recipe to share with you guys. It’s amazing and delicious and easy to make and rich in nutrition. Enjoy! 

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Grilled Eggplant Stacked with Indian-Spiced Beef
Serves 4
Deliciously spiced ground beef over sliced grilled eggplant
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
For the Beef
  1. 3 TBL ghee*
  2. 2 cups white onion, diced
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 TBL minced fresh ginger
  5. 2 tsp ground coriander
  6. 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  7. 1 tsp ground cumin
  8. 1 tsp garam masala
  9. 1 pound ground beef
  10. 2 cups diced tomatoes
  11. 1 TBL seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper
  12. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  13. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  14. 1/2 C water
  15. 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  16. 1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro laves plus more for garnish
For the Eggplant
  1. 2 large eggplants, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds or lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks
  2. 1/4 C ghee, melted
  3. Sea salt and ground pepper
Instructions
  1. 1. Make the spiced beef: In a large skillet, hear the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. 2. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, paprika, cumin and garam masala and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the beef, breaking up into clumps with a spatula. Cook until the beef is no longer pink.
  4. 4. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapeno, salt, pepper, and water. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. 5. Add the vinegar and turn off the heat. Set aside.
  6. 6. Stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. 7. Make the eggplant: Heat the grill to medium heat.**
  8. 8. Rub the ghee over the eggplant slices and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  9. 9. Place the eggplant on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip and continue coking for another 5 minutes or so, until the eggplant softens.
  10. 10. To assemble the dish, start by placing one eggplant slice at the bottom, cover with a layer of the beef mixture, then add another eggplant slice, one more layer of beef, and top with final slice of eggplant. garnish with cilantro.
Notes
  1. *The original recipes specifies ghee, which is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, but you could sub for another cooking fat of your choice
  2. **If you don't have a grill, or don't want to use it, you can cook the eggplant in the broiler. To use this method, heat the broiler to high. Rub ghee, salt and pepper over both sides of the eggplant slices and place them on on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for about 3-4 minutes on each side, checking fairly often to be sure they don't burn.
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