Friday, November 21, 2014

Grain Free Birthday and Solving Eczema

Grain free birthday and solving Eczema

My 35th birthday was earlier this month.  I could have justified some gluten-free grain filled cake but I really wanted to use my own birthday as an opportunity to experiment with grain-free cake recipes.  My family all LOVE this cake and I usually make it for birthdays—I’d hate to make something sub-par for someone else’s birthday.  I also love that cake but it doesn’t make me feel very good.  We celebrated my birthday twice—the weekend before we got together with my in-laws and I made this cake recipe.  It was good flavor but dry—I think the brand of coconut flour makes a big difference and if I had used the same brand she did it might have been better—my batter looked nothing like hers.  Also I didn’t really make enough frosting (used this recipe).  Later I made a little more to go on the leftovers and that helped with the dryness. 
For my actual birthday I tried this recipe.  The texture was good, it was very light and airy, but there isn’t really enough chocolate in it.  If I could figure out the chocolate intensity of the first one with the texture of the second we might have ourselves a contender for replacing my go to cake mix, but I don’t want to make 37 cakes in a row to figure out the ratio—the ingredients are expensive and I don’t want to eat that much cake!

Speaking of birthdays, baby Marshall is going to be one today!  At two months old he developed severe cradle cap and eczema.  After lots of elimination and experimentation I found that eliminating eggs got rid of 95% of his rash, but all Summer long he had a little bit of rash that wouldn’t go away.  He was also in shorts so he would constantly scratch at the back of his legs where the rash was which kept it irritated. Finally really cleaning up my diet (Whole30), getting back into pants weather, and this cream got him pretty much clear.  I have since tried reintroducing eggs and the eczema is starting to sneak back, so out they go again. *sigh*.  For his birthday I am making him muffins that are dairy, gluten and egg free but not grain free-- so hard to eliminate everything and still have it be "cake".  

More later on my Paleo thanksgiving menu....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whole 30 while breastfeeding-- Results!

I made it!  30 days without grains, or chocolate (that’s huge for me), or sugar (other than the previously mentioned bit that was in bacon) or even Stevia in my coffee.  What’s funny is I couldn’t wait to get back to sweetening my coffee and this morning even 1/3 of what I used to use was too sweet.   I had the weirdest experience on Sunday though—I hadn’t had serious sugar cravings in a couple of weeks.  My kids are both sick and not sleeping well and I was exhausted and cranky and just done.  THIS is why you clean out your house before you do Whole30 because if I had any chocolate in my house that day I would have probably eaten it.  I really badly wanted treats but since I had none, I didn’t eat any.  We had Thai takeout for dinner and I also could have had grains but stuck to chicken salad.  

Results: I lost 4 pounds and 2.5% bodyfat.  I know some people have crazy amounts of weight loss, but this was amazing for me because I wasn’t really trying to lose weight and am below what I weighed before I had Max. My smallest old pair of jeans I had been optimistically hanging onto forever are now probably a half size too big.  

My challenge now:  to keep treats and sugar to rare occasions (my birthday is coming! And Thanksgiving, and the baby’s birthday and Christmas.  Hmm.) I am also trying to figure out how to eat enough to fuel Crossfit AND breastfeeding which is my new challenge.  I felt like I was barely getting in enough for the breastfeeding and now I’m doing Crossfit three times a week too and my supply has dropped again.  I find it challenging to eat enough carbs—there is only so much sweet potato and squash I can eat.  Speaking of that, I had an early dinner and it is 9pm and I’m starving again so time to eat once more.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Whole 30-- final stretch

I'm 26 days into my whole 30.  I suppose it hasn't been 100% perfect, but I'm going to go with 98% and it's the cleanest I have eaten in years.  For me, avoiding sugar and grains has been a huge deal.  I was reading someone else's blog the other day that said smoothies were not within the "spirit of the thing." Well smoothies are making this possible for me, so forget that.  Other imperfections: my bacon has sugar in it it, and sometimes I run out of ghee and just use butter.  Like I said, not perfect.  I have had one egg a day for the past two days, and I am waiting to see if my baby's eczema flares up again.  His skin has really improved over the past month, I am hoping I can now get away with a little egg. 

This morning I returned to Crossfit after not doing it for 3.5 years.  It was rough-- I am out of shape! And they even went easy on me and it was still rough.  But also great.  I have been trying to work out on my own at the YMCA and it hasn't been going well.  The equipment at the Y is insufficient for lifting any meaningful weight. The trick will be to gain muscle and fitness without completely burning myself out.  With two little kids I rarely get a full night's sleep and so my system is already taxed.  I will not be trying to beat anybody any time soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whole 30 while breastfeeding- Making this work

Let me tell you something about having two kids under three, a job and trying to blog.  It doesn't work very well.  The last 11 months have been an adventure in trying to figure out some food issues both for me and for my baby.  He has chronic eczema.  I eliminated dairy, eggs and nuts months ago.  I determined that eggs cause him to flare, but even with that cut out, he was still having constipation and his eczema was not totally clear.  We had a stressful Summer where we had to move out of our house for three months while some structural work was done and we lived in places that weren't conducive to doing much cooking and the food choices were not great-- too much processed stuff, too much takeout and not enough vegetables.  I was stressed, exhausted and started having difficulty with my breastmilk supply, and Marshall stopped gaining enough weight.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago we moved home and I immediately started a Whole30 challenge.  I have not been 100% truly, completely squeaky clean paleo since before I got pregnant with Max, who is almost three years old.  My previous attempts were too low in calories and carbs and I would quickly crash and burn because I was starving.  FINALLY I seem to have this figured out, for the most part.

So Whole30 + Breastfeeding FOR ME looks like this (your mileage may vary):

1. Breakfast is either leftovers from the night before, or a green smoothie with coconut milk, kale, frozen berries, chia seeds, and grass fed gelatin,  I usually drink half for breakfast and finish it later.  I also have some meat or bacon on the side.  Oh also a lot of coffee with coconut milk.

2. Mid-morning I might finish my smoothie or have a handful of almonds, more coffee

3. Lunch is meat, a sweet potato with ghee, some kind of vegetable

4.  In the afternoon I either eat a second lunch or an apple and almonds

5. Dinner is same as lunch

I can not emphasize enough how important having a decent dose of carbs and eating frequently has been for me.  I haven't been working out as much as I hoped because we all came down with some kind of lovely respiratory illness (thanks preschool germs!) I am not sure if it was adjusting to fewer carbs/sugar withdrawal, or being sick but I felt HORRIBLE for the first week or so.  I still sometimes get really tired in the afternoons which I think is adrenal fatigue given that I have a baby still waking up at least twice a night.  When I remember to take my vitamins I also still take a prenatal vitamin, probiotic, extra vitamin C,  adrenal glandular, vitamin D and Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

You are not supposed to weigh yourself during whole30 but I have and I'm already down 4# and weighing less than I have in years.  This stuff works friends.

And here is the absolute key do doing whole30 with a family and a job:  you have to cook ahead.  It's your part-time job.  At a minimum dinner has to make enough for all four of us to eat for lunch the next day too, but ideally I'd get a couple days out of it.  So  I make three pounds of salmon at a time, or an entire chicken, or five steaks.  The four of us eat twenty pounds of sweet potatoes a week! (Not only do I eat them twice a day but both kids absolutely love them).  I make 10# at a time in the oven, and then put them all in the fridge to grab and reheat.  I also will roast large pans full of veggies every couple days.  By doing all of this I don't have to cook a whole meal every day and on days I work I try to make sure there is either something in the crockpot or we have leftovers since I often have to get up at 4:30 am for work and I'm usually too exhausted to think straight when I get home.

I don't make stuff that's complicated.  Baked yams, roasted vegetables, meat that's baked or cooked in the crockpot.  I rarely make things that require standing over the stove or lots of ingredients because I just don't have the time.  Throw it on a pan, put it in the oven or the crockpot-- that I can manage -- stuff I can do with a baby hanging on my pant leg and a toddler begging to help.  It isn't exciting but it works. The whole family isn't paleo yet, but we are working on it.

What I miss: I like a little stevia in my coffee and I will go back to that after my whole30 ends unless it triggers ongoing sugar cravings.  I miss eggs-- I may challenge them again soon and see how he does with them-- the eczema is 90% better most of the time, but it also is never completely gone.  I give him probiotics and sometimes zinc on the recommendation of our ND, and trying to get better about giving him fermented fish oil. I do think his weight and digestion are back on track at least. Not sure what else to do there.  My birthday and Marshall's first birthday are next month and I am hosting a big family Thanksgiving.  I'd like to stick to paleo-fied treats for those and otherwise avoid sugar.  It is my life long nemesis and I'm better off without it, even the healthier kinds like honey.

There it is, my first blog post in months and some real progress.  I'm about to turn 35 and I am feeling good about the track I am taking with my health.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Elimination diet madness

Clearly I am not finding a lot of time to blog.  Every couple weeks I keep eliminating another food trying to get to the bottom of Marshall's eczema and so far I'm not seeing much improvement, and I am getting cranky.  I started with eliminating dairy, and to be honest, I feel better off that one so I can live without that.  Next I eliminated eggs, which was a lot harder-- I ate them almost every single morning and occasionally for another meal too.  I am not positive whether that has helped yet because even though I have been off them a week, we have to work through the stored breastmilk from when I was eating eggs first, which will take at least through this week.  Last week I also eliminated nuts.  I suppose it would be faster to cut out all of this stuff at once-- that's how an elimination diet is typically done, but it feel so daunting to me, it is easier to cut out one thing at a time.

I'm afraid I am feeling bored with food and deprived and always starving.  I need to find new recipes because I end up eating beef or chicken, sweet potato, and some kind of green vegetable 3 meals a day, with a little sunflower seed butter and allergen free chocolate on the side keeping me sane.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is anyone out there? Time for a reboot

I haven't posted to this blog for over a year, mainly because it was a whole foods/primal/paleo/grain-free eating blog and I haven't eaten that way in a long time.  Until now.

I had my second baby (Marshall) three months ago.  I had a difficult pregnancy-- I was exhausted, nauseated, lots of back pain and cranky, while wrangling a not quite two year old and a nearly full time job.  It was a lot and I didn't eat as well as I should have and I definitely didn't get enough exercise.  If we have any more kids I do not want to go through pregnancy so broken.

When my second was about 8 weeks old I started really feeling ready to get my life together, stop languishing in the land of too much sugar and grains and get back on track.  I joined a new gym that does only personal training of the high intensity kind-- I like Cross Fit fine but I needed something a little more one on one given my propensity to injure myself.  And at the end of January, after Max's second birthday  I said good bye to all but a tiny bit of sugar (I still have a few bites of very dark chocolate here and there).  

I had been eating dairy for over a year, but Mars is starting to develop eczema so it's a good excuse to ditch it for awhile and see if he improves.  In the week since I've been off it my digestion has been better, so I suspect I'm better off without it. 

What's working?  Planning and cooking ahead a lot.  I work 2 long days a week, and on the other days it's not practical to cook 3+ meals a day with two little kids underfoot.  I plan our dinners on the weekend, shop for most of it, and cook ahead some stuff.  That combined with making extra every time so I don't have to cook every night is helping.  I am still struggling with how many carbs and how much to eat to slowly get this baby weight off but support breast feeding- more on that later.

So this week, here's what we are eating:

Sunday: we had beef taco salad.  No real recipe, just a bunch of cumin and garlic in ground beef, plus lettuce, avocado, salsa and cheese for the guys. Not going to lie-- we also had Phad Thai today.  Sometimes you just need take out.

Monday: leftover taco salad
Tuesday: Crock pot pot roast, yams, broccoli
Wednesday: zuchini "noodles" and meat balls
Thursday: sausage/yam/apple bake (recipe soon)
Friday: no bun burgers

What I made ahead:
egg casserole-- I throw some kind of meat (sausage, ham, ground turkey etc), some vegetable (kale/broccoli), and a dozen eggs in a 9x13 pan with some salt and pepper and maybe garlic or basil and bake it.  It was better with cheese but it's still good and it saves me time making breakfast.

yams-- between me and the two year old we go through an insane number of these. I also some times do squash but prefer sweet potato.

roasted vegetables-- I am on a brussels sprouts kick, did some broccoli too.

mushrooms-- this is seriously one of my favorite things.  Incredibly delicious on anything savory

I made some bacon too but ended up snacking on half of it.  I think bacon is my new candy.  Oops.

Lunch is always leftover dinner from the day before (or a couple days if I made tons). 

I have lost somewhere between 2-5 pounds so far-- it seems to vary.  At least it's going in the right direction-- I still have around 15-20 pounds of baby weight to go.  It doesn't come off as easily the second time, in case you are wondering. 

Time to feed the baby and think about bedtime.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Crash and Burn

So I made it half way through the 21 Day Sugar Detox and then fell off the wagon.  Had I done one thing before hand it would have made a big difference;  In the protocol she says to start with 1/2 a cup of sweet potato per meal if you are pregnant/nursing.  You are supposed to be getting around 40 grams of carbs per meal and you might need more.  First of all, 1/2 a cup of sweet potato is around 20 grams of carbs not 40 which I could have looked up.  But I didn't know that I wouldn't be ABLE to tell I needed more until it was too late.  I felt more or less okay the first week-- I was busy with houseguests and a sick baby and wasn't particularly hungry.  I got the sweet potato in mostly two meals out of three, and the one day I went to the gym I could tell I was dragging but when you are chronically sleep deprived and getting over a cold it's difficult to know the source of your fatigue.   I never had physical cravings for sugar.  On day 12 I hit rock bottom.  Not only was I EXHAUSTED but I also hit an emotional wall and started spiraling into an irrational depression.  Carbs = serotonin and I had been inadvertently on a probably less than 75grams of carbs a day diet, while feeding a sick baby who was doing a whole lot of nursing. Some people would probably be fine on this but I do not do well on very low carb even when I am not nursing.    I could have just eaten a bunch more sweet potato, but really how much sweet potato can you eat in one sitting?  So I not only ate carbs, but I ate (gluten-free) cookies.  And I am fine with it.  Less sugar is good, but when you are nursing and busy extra extreme programs can backfire.  I had a little gluten free bread today.  I still don't digest it well and do better off grains but after two days of basically carb loading I feel a lot better.  Lesson learned people.  I did break my excessive chocolate habit, so that was a good thing, and I found I like my coffee with just cream and no sweetener. 

Also, I did discover that grilled portobello mushrooms make the most amazing burger bun.  I like it better than bread.  Try it-- amazing.