Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A mountain adventure

Rocky Mountain State Park

I'm home after a hot weekend in Boulder, CO. I went to see my two good friends from graduate school, Ryah & Laura. It was so much fun to see my friends-- I hadn't seen Laura in two years, and Ryah in one year so it was great to spend some time together instead of a rushed phone call every couple of weeks. Laura and I were virtually inseparable when she lived in Seattle and I miss her all the time. What was also fantastic is that Boulder has some amazing local food, especially meat and my friends cooked for me just about every meal, which was a wonderful break from being the sole cook and food shopper at my house! Both Ryah & Laura are getting into a Paleo-ish slant, partly because of my proselytizing, so we were all on the same page. I didn't do a very good job of taking pictures of our meals, but we had steak, chicken, amazing sausages, eggs, and bacon all at various meals that were all local and fantastic. We added salad or kale, yam or fruit and on a couple of nights a few not so paleo treats of coconut milk ice cream or a few chocolate covered almonds to finish it off. The only 100% not paleo meal I had was the only one I took a picture of! On my last day L and I had brunch at a restaurant called Tangerine that had a gluten free option for almost everything on the menu. I had buttermilk pancakes, gluten free of course, and a side of chicken sausage. L had a sample platter of the different pancakes (hers weren't gf) and also chicken sausage, but it was way too much food, though really yummy.

We drove through Rocky Mountain State Park and saw the beautiful mountains, some elk, many stupid tourists parking their cars in dangerous places to get pictures, and the best part was-- we drove so high we found snow and 65 degree temperatures. Why was this so exciting? Because every day I was there it was between 95-100 degrees. When you are used to less than 70 degrees that is a bit of a shock. Add to that the altitude and pregnancy and I found myself often hot and tired and occasionally (especially on top of the mountain at 12000 feet) headachey. Thank goodness both L's car and her apartment had air conditioning or I might have melted into a puddle. I admit I have never been so glad to see rain and 65 degrees when I got back to Seattle!

The other really fun thing we did was tour the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory. It is a huge and impressive operation, and while the tea ingredients are sourced from all over the world, they are all processed and packaged in Boulder. The whole place smells amazing, like a big mix of herbs and fruit, though our favorite might have been the mint room, which was a bit like walking into a tub of vic's vaporub or a vat of toothpaste- it was really strong, but also refreshing. (The mint is so strong they have to keep it in a separate, double walled room, or everything in the whole place would be minty!) We also got to taste some teas, and we each bought one of CS's new Kombucha lines-- it was really good, but it has added prebiotics in it and my stomach felt a little funny so I didn't drink it all (plus I had to throw the rest away when I got to the airport anyway).
Here we are with our lovely hairnets. Sorry it's a little blurry....

Lately I've been having vague milk cravings which are surprising since I'm pretty sensitive to dairy and haven't had milk in probably 7 years, though I can get away with a couple bites of cheese or butter in something. This morning I tried a half cup of goat yogurt and it was a no go. I was coughing and wheezing within 5 minutes. So much for that. So instead I made a big cup of chicken stock (figuring what I'm craving is calcium). It's a little bit not paleo because I made it Japanese style, adding Ume Plum Vinegar, based on a suggestion from my friend Katrina (so handy to be friends with so many great nutritionists!) and a spoonful of miso because I love miso soup and because I could use some good friendly bacteria in there (miso is made from fermented soybeans, hence the not so paleo-ness of it). But it is very satisfying on this cool, feels like autumn morning.

I'll try and take a picture of my little bump this weekend-- at 15.5 weeks pregnant I've got a bit of a bump, but still don't really need maternity clothes yet. It's the sort of thing where, depending on what I'm wearing, you might or might not even be able to tell. Apparently after the first time you are pregnant, subsequent pregnancies pop right out there much faster, or so I'm told.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chipotle Chicken Stew

I apologize if you are reading this from somewhere other than the Northern West Coast-- I realize that for most of America soup is not exactly something you want to contemplate. To you I say file this away until Fall. Here in Seattle where we are lucky if we top 68 degrees and see the sun at all so far this summer, it feels more like September. I have been thinking about making this soup for a couple of weeks, but didn't have the energy until now (fair warning, there is a lot of chopping involved). This soup is adapted from this recipe at Nourishing Meals. Ali does an amazing job of coming up with delicious recipes with whole food ingredients-- I also have her cookbook and absolutely every recipe I've tried of hers has been delicious. However, while gluten free, her recipes are not at all paleo, in fact this recipe started out as a vegetarian stew-- I started adding chicken and kale to it long ago, but this is the first time I also omitted the beans and it was just as yummy.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (I used 1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano since I had it handy)
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 medium yams, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, diced into bite sized pieces
1 head kale, de-stemmed and chopped small
other veggies as desired (I used a couple chopped zucchini)
6 cups water or chicken stock
1 medium red bell pepper, diced

Heat a large 6 or 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add olive oil then add onions and saute for 5 to 7 minutes.

Then add the chicken and continue to cook until chicken starts to brown. Add spices, and vegetables and saute a minute or two more. Add the water/chicken stock (I used half and half of each). Simmer covered for 20 to 30 minutes or until yams are tender and chicken is fully cooked.

Top with Cabbage-Slaw (this recipe is fully Ali's except I use parsley instead of cilantro)

Cilantro-Cabbage Slaw

4 to 5 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
2 cups chopped cilantro
2 to 3 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
the juice of one lime
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss together. Be sure to make only what you will eat with you meal. Otherwise it will become soggy and unappealing for your next bowl of stew. (The stew gets better as it ages, this doesn't).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

14 weeks: transition

After an awesome energy day last Sunday, I spent most of the week back on the couch barely able to move (either that or at my desk at work watching the clock until I could go home to the couch). This weekend my energy has returned again-- hopefully for good, as at 14 weeks I am now by all calendars in the second trimester. I am definitely in a transitional period. Food wise, I am doing better eating more protein, but overall still eating too much sugar and processed things I don't need. The problem in part seems to be that I can't eat more than a few bites at a time of real food-- I likely shrunk my stomach during the seven or so weeks I wasn't really eating. Add to that, if I can eat a real meal, it sits in my stomach like a rock for HOURS which is very uncomfortable. I have tried my trusty Super Enzymes, but really all that works is to eat small amounts every few hours which I find annoying. When I was a teenager and in college I was definitely one of those 5-6 meals a day people, but somewhere in the last 4 or 5 years I realized it is much more satisfying and satiating for me to eat until I'm full 3 or 4 times a day. It is unsatisfying to switch back to eating smaller meals and it's been an adjustment-- really processed stuff (we had gluten free cookies around for awhile-- I know! bad) goes down easily and I am not used to being hungry all the time-- I just need to plan better.

Because I'm not eating as well as I should, I found myself in a pregnancy hormone induced panic yesterday. After weeks of my weight dropping, it has been steadily coming back up (as it should-- I'm growing a person!) But my overindulgence in the wrong kind of calories has me a little panicked that I'm gaining the wrong kind of weight (mind you, I'm still down 4 pounds from pre-pregnancy weight so it's a rather irrational concern). The solution is simple-- stop eating the crap! I'm working on that-- if my energy remains it will help a lot with food prep. Also what will help is some exercise, which I haven't had in over two months. Tomorrow my Crossfit trainer extraordinaire, Jesse at Lynnwood Crossfit is going to come up with a pregnancy routine for me because I'm not comfortable attempting even modified WODs given my inexperience and how long I've been away from the gym-- getting into a regular routine of activity will be very important in keeping me to a healthy weight gain and strong enough for what lies ahead. (My friend told me to look at pregnancy as training for the marathon of birth and months of sleepless baby care-- I think that's a good attitude).

I am at that funny stage where I'm getting a bit of a bump, but don't quite look pregnant-- just like I'm gaining weight (though when I gain weight it normally isn't all in my stomach!) I bought some maternity capris on Friday and they are so comfortable! Elastic waist bands are miraculous. Both M. and I are just in awe of this process-- I swear my belly gets bigger every day and it's extraordinary. I'm trying as much as possible to savor these moments-- I only expect to be pregnant two, maybe three times in my life and next time I'm pregnant I'll be busy with a toddler, so it's kind of amazing to just sit back and experience it.

Everyone pretty much knows now as I told my office this week-- it's nice to have it out in the open. My good friend that works with me has a one year old and she's become kind of a mentor to me-- it's nice not to have to sit in the corner and whisper about it at work now.

Meanwhile, Seattle seems to be skipping summer this year. It is currently 57 degrees and pouring down rain at my house. Next weekend I'm escaping to Boulder to see the sun and two dear friends. I can't wait!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Robb Wolf Seminar!

Yesterday I had the great fortune to attend Robb Wolf's second to last paleo solution seminar-- he has one more in Boston and then he's not doing them anymore! The seminar was in Vancouver, BC-- a 3 hour or so drive from where I live, depending on how long you have to sit at the border and Vancouver's epic traffic. M. and I drove up Friday and spent the afternoon wandering around Granville Island and downtown-- it happened to be sunny and beautiful and we had a nice day.

I had two amazing meals at a restaurant downtown called Milestones. One was paleo, one was not. The dinner menu has a small but delicious gluten-free section and they will make any pasta dish with brown rice noodles. Dinner on Saturday night I had a simple but amazing brown rice spaghetti with chicken and goat cheese. It was one of the best things I've eaten in a long time.

I went back there on Sunday for lunch during a break from the seminar and had a much more appropriate chicken salad with strawberries and pecans that was also excellent.

As for the seminar itself: it was a bit like going to a movie based on a book you read and loved. It was surreal to hear the man himself speak after listening to hours and hours of podcasts-- when he came into the room talking to someone when my back was turned I recognized his voice immediately. There weren't really many surprises, but I still enjoyed myself-- Robb is an entertaining and charismatic speaker. He kept apologizing to us during the parts of the seminar that went over biochemical mechanisms, but I found it to be a helpful review-- since most people there had read his book I don't think anyone was too overwhelmed, but then maybe that's just me. Looking over my notes, I don't think I picked up anything new big picture wise, though I took a lot of notes as having visuals helped me understand some mechanistic details better-- it is really hard for me to keep all of the biochemistry details in my brain, so constant review is good.

This seminar came at an ideal time: now that I am at 13 weeks pregnant I am FINALLY feeling better. My appetite has returned and I am no longer grossed out by meat and healthy food. In fact after weeks of barely eating enough, M. was astonished to see me eat almost every bite of my restaurant meals in Vancouver, and go back for seconds tonight on our steak, salad and potato dinner (the first real meal I've cooked in quite some time). I'm hungry without accompanying nausea! Hooray! I even was able to run around doing errands and cleaning house all day without having to spend a good part of the day laying down-- a first in many weeks! Tomorrow I will attempt some kind of formal exercise-- after so long without Crossfit when I was already still so new to it I'm not quite sure if that's the best option or not, but certainly some kind of weights and exercise is needed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh baby!

I have a confession to make: for the past six weeks I haven’t really been eating paleo, but I have a good excuse: I’m pregnant!! I am about 12 and a half weeks pregnant. And ever since about 6 weeks pregnant 90% of the foods I usually eat became absolutely disgusting. Even thinking about yams, most meat, all cooked vegetables and coconut milk made me retch, let alone trying to eat those things! You might have noticed I never did a follow up to my experiment with the Autoimmune protocol—that’s because I found out I was pregnant three days in to that, and I made it two weeks before almost everything sounded disgusting. Eggs are one of the few protein foods I can sometimes get down, so I will have to re-attempt that plan at a later date. It’s pretty hard to blog about food when the thought of most food is completely nauseating! So what have I been eating? Mostly cold, raw food: a lot of salad, often with chicken on it (obviously the chicken is cooked) although I can’t eat more than a few bites of that, lots of fruit, nuts, and unfortunately, gluten-free bread, some rice/beans/corn, (one of my good friends knew something was up when we had lunch recently and I was eating the chips at a Mexican restaurant), and the occasional non-dairy ice cream and worse, which we won’t get into. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed the more processed and nutritionally deficient the food is, the easier it is to eat, though I try not to go too crazy on the junk. Ironically one of the only proteins that I have no trouble with is fish, and it’s the only one I have to limit, because of the mercury issue! It’s not been the greatest, and I would love to be 100% paleo, but my body rejects too many foods and as it is I lost about 7 pounds in the first trimester, because I had such strong aversions it was hard to eat anything, and I’m sure some of it was muscle. I had to put crossfit on hold since I was barely eating enough to get through my day without exercise. My legs have gotten so skinny! At 8 weeks pregnant, M. and I went on a little hike—it wasn’t really epic, there were plenty of families with young kids walking it, but I was so undernourished that I completely ran out of steam about a mile from the top (which was unfortunately the end where the car was) and we had to stop every 20 feet for me to rest. Obese smokers were passing me! If I can’t do that, I definitely would not get through any sort of crossfit workout! I hope to get back to some version of Crossfit soon. I did manage to escape my Midwife’s attempt to make me take an early glucose tolerance test—she wanted to do one at 8 weeks because my Dad is diabetic (though type I) but I told her I didn’t want to and she agreed to do just a regular blood glucose test and only make me do the evil test (which I would have had to do AGAIN at 20 weeks) if my numbers looked bad. Thankfully they were fine, despite the all carb breakfast I had that morning! I’ve been testing my blood sugar at home and I hope to talk her out of the 20 week test as well when it comes up. I’m sorry but drinking 100 grams of straight glucose sounds like my own personal nightmare.

Other thoughts: I haven’t had it too bad in the first trimester. I’ve been somewhat nauseated almost all the time, occasionally VERY nauseated, and with very strong food aversions, but I’ve only thrown up once. I’ve been definitely tired—though that slowly seems to be improving. Where before I could go to the mall for three hours, then the grocery store, then come home and cook dinner, now I can take maybe an hour of errands before I need to rest. I’ve been drinking tons of ice water because for whatever reason it takes the edge of my nausea, which means I’m constantly freezing cold, since Seattle didn’t even sort of start looking like summer until last weekend. The only day I felt really horrible is the day I had my first midwife appointment—my blood pressure was already really low (98/70) and then they took 5 tubes of blood for all the tests. I felt nauseated, dizzy and exhausted for the rest of the day.

I am very excited to share this with all of you, because now hopefully I will be feeling better, and can report on my paleo pregnancy as it progresses!