Monday, December 30, 2013

An Unconventional Resolution

The New Year is fast approaching, and I have no idea where 2013 went. Like, seriously. No idea. It was an amazing whirlwind of a year filled with so many exciting things! The biggest being that I moved my family from Indiana to South Carolina (still reeling from that one). The smallest is that I started a blog that has been much more successful than I thought it would be-- thanks to all of you!

Like most goal-oriented, competitive people, I made resolutions at the beginning of last year, mostly pertaining to my physical health. I made some that are common: Lose weight, run a 5k, lose weight and lose weight-- come on, we all know that's how it is. Then some not-so-common (at least for most women): Squat 200 lbs, deadlift 200 lbs, do a pull up, and increase my sprint speed. Did I fulfill all of my resolutions? All but one: the pull up. Not. Even. Close. It was totally my fault. I didn't focus enough on them. For a period of time I kind of gave up even trying to work my way up to them. I just flat out failed. Though I'm trying not to focus on that one unfulfilled resolution, I can't help it. I am a perfectionist. Usually, if I set my mind to doing something, I do it and I do it well. Failure is NOT an option in my mind! That being the case, I'm sure you can imagine the strain New Year's resolutions could place on a person like me. You want them to be challenging enough, but not so hard you'll never reach them. Trying to be realistic while still setting the bar high enough is not easy.

I believe strongly in setting goals. Whether they're minor goals, like waking up and making a mental list of things you need to accomplish that day, or major like your New Year's resolutions or year-end business goals. Goals motivate the goal-oriented and keep the free-spirited focused. They are beneficial for everyone; however, my obsessiveness over this one failed resolution has me re-thinking my approach this year.

By definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not do something, and a goal is a person's desired result. When I considered that, I decided that my resolutions should help me reach my goals. My resolutions should not actually BE goals. So often we make specific goal-like resolutions but what is actually driving us to reach those goals? Goals are ever-changing, while resolutions are...well...resolute! We make these very specific resolutions at the start of a new year, and we hog-tie ourselves to them not allowing room for changing circumstances or new life adventures, so then we just give them up. A resolution should be something that can move with the ebb and flow of life. Something that, no matter the change in our goals throughout the year, continually drives us to end the year better than we started.

I have some specific goals in mind already for 2014. My physical ones are much the same as last year's: Lose more fat (getting away from the scale mentality), squat 300 lbs (we'll see how that goes), deadlift 300 lbs (again, we'll see how that goes), do a pull-up for real this time, increase my sprint speed, and do a 5 minute plank. I have other personal goals as well. I also make weekly and daily goals throughout the year. So, if my resolution should be something I determine to do that will help me reach my goals what should that resolution be? It was actually a tough question. It had to be something that would encompass everything from my physical goals to my personal goals. After a few weeks of dwelling on this, it finally hit me...

Laura's Unconventional New Year's Resolution: To become stronger spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Strength is the word of the year! I am resolute in my desire to be a stronger person-- strong in character, strong in faith, strong in mind and in body.

You might think it's too broad, or "Well, shouldn't that be the intention every year?" Perhaps, but I like the idea of using a broader resolution to drive me towards accomplishing my goals. When I want to give up focusing on my pull ups (like I did this year), my resolution to be stronger will motivate me to keep going. When life circumstances force a change in my goals, I won't have to give up my resolution. It will continue to keep me focused and determined.

So, what are your goals this year? I encourage you to make a list, and then look over those goals and figure out what is the one thing you know will drive you to accomplish those goals and let THAT be your resolution!

Thank you for making this year so great! The community and support I receive from you all motivates me more than you'll every know! Happy New Year to you and yours, and may this be your best year ever!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cereal Killers Movie Review

"It's not a case of living forever. It's a case of enjoying every year you have." ~Donal O'Neill

When someone on my Twitter feed retweeted a request for people to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign of a new food documentary called Cereal Killers, as a faithful advocate of gluten and grain free living, I was immediately intrigued. I watched the promo video and knew I had to contribute. The moment someone says they want to debunk the current popular views of food and health, I'm all in-- especially where saturated fat is concerned! And, I was very intrigued to watch the process of a bio-hacker in action.

The Premise

Donal O'Neill is a trim, fit and, for all intents and purposes, healthy man. Based on his appearance, he's not exactly your typical "food experiment documentary" test subject. Most real food documentaries follow the transformations of overweight or severely medicated individuals, so why did Donal want to experiment with his diet? He wanted to hack his genes.

Donal's father was a top soccer athlete--lean, physically active, non-smoker, non-drinker-- but suffered a heart attack. His uncle was also a top athlete, but developed Type II Diabetes. From all the information we've been given on what is a healthy lifestyle, Donal's father and uncle should not have suffered from heart disease and diabetes.

I've seen similar situations in my own family. My grandfather who was always trim, active, and a non-smoker had to have open heart surgery in the 70's-- I remember celebrating the 25th anniversary of his surgery because it was so rare in the 70's for open-heart patients to live that long. My father has always had an athletic figure with very little effort. He's relatively active, a non-smoker and non-drinker, though his diet leaves something lacking even by the traditional food pyramid standards. However, based on typical risk factors he should've never needed to have stints put in his arteries. My uncle is relatively trim, very active, a non-smoker, and a healthy eater, yet he had to have triple bypass surgery. My brother, who is a trim and active non-smoker and non-drinker, has cholesterol issues.

When we come across these situations where people don't exhibit the typical "risk factors" for heart disease or diabetes, we chalk it up to genetics. Genetics does play a role, but is it everything? Is heart disease inevitable for my brothers and their children? Was it inevitable for Donal?

Donal wanted to see if he could change his genetic destiny with his diet. It was obvious to him that the standard low fat high carbohydrate diet promoted by government agencies and health associations didn't yield benefits for his family, or for many others. So under the watchful eye of an open-minded doctor, and with the assistance of Tim Noakes, professor of exercise and sports science, he decided to follow a high saturated fat diet for a month in an effort to find out if saturated fat and red meat were really the problem, or if there are other things at play.

The Experiment

Donal followed an incredibly high saturated fat diet,  including animal fat. He ate bacon cooked in butter, macadamia nuts by the handful, and eggs galore. His daily caloric intake reached upwards of 4,000 calories a day. He decided to follow a different exercise routine as well. While the recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week, Donal did only 8 intense minutes of exercise per week.

He also had extensive testing done prior to starting his diet. He had blood work and a testing of his resting metabolic rate. He also had genetic testing done, revealing that not only was he at risk for heart disease genetically, but that he had some inflammation as well-- which contemporary research has shown is a major risk for heart disease, and a contributing factor to many other diseases as well. After a month of eating basically all fat, he had these same tests done again to determine what role saturated fat had, if any, in his risk for heart disease.

What The Film Covers

Cereal Killers covers everything from Ancel Keys's study on saturated fat to carbohydrate resistance to how cholesterol really works in the body. Professor Tim Noakes gives a wealth of information on cholesterol that is especially beneficial. The movie also deals with the issues surrounding the food and drug industries and information control. It also touches on why we began feeding corn to cattle. If you want a film that quickly covers the basics of food and health, this is a great one to watch.

My Take

OH. MY. WORD. I loved this movie! I don't want to give away the ending, but if any of you have been following me for long, my excitement is probably a dead giveaway.

I want to go ahead and touch on what I didn't like first. I wish they had gone into a little more depth with the issue of grain fed animal fat versus pastured animal fat. They touch on it a bit, but never really expound on the issue. As someone who subscribes to a Paleo lifestyle, I obviously support only eating pastured animal fats. Also, I can't agree whole heartedly that extremely low carbohydrate diets are the answer to everything. I think ketogenic diets have their place, however I believe that the consumption of resistance starches can be beneficial to many. And, I can in no way support his overconsumption of macadamia nuts! That's way too many phytates and lectins for anyone to be consuming on a regular basis. These are really the only negative things I can say about this movie.

While the film didn't go into any great depth with scientific analysis and explanation, it certainly provides plenty of information to get the viewer open to the idea that perhaps what we've always been taught  is healthy actually isn't good for us at all, and that is a huge step in the right direction. It makes the information understandable to anyone, even people who aren't that interested in all the science. It was a very human take on food and health, chronicling this man's experiences with friends and strangers to whom he would talk. It manages to, in one short hour, make the viewer feel an overwhelming connection to Donal and his situation. The stories of his experience with his father's health are very touching. I think this movie takes an approach that many food documentaries lack-- the human side. The fact is, the health of our loved ones is important, and when we see them suffer, or suffer ourselves at the loss of loved ones due to diseases we know can be preventable, we want answers and the answers we've been given thus far aren't working. It was also surprisingly fun to watch! For such a small budget film, the quality is outstanding, and the overall tone was positive yet touching. The movie didn't end with you feeling guilty for all your food choices or hating "the man." The movie left you feeling hopeful-- that change is possible not only on a larger social scale, but for your health personally.

Overall, I highly recommend watching this documentary. While not necessarily ground breaking in the area of saturated fat myths, it takes an approach that is accessible to everyone, and will certainly get people thinking about whether conventional health wisdom is really wise at all. I rate this a MUST WATCH!

You can download the movie HERE at I trust you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spicy Mulligatawny Soup

Spicy, creamy and little bit sweet, this soup is perfect on a cold night! 

If I were to base my love for a soup on its name alone, my passion for Mulligatawny would be never ending. I mean, come on! Who doesn't love saying that? Lucky for me, I can feel equally as passionate about its delicious flavors. Warm, spicy, a little bit creamy & sweetened with some apples, this soup has every element I love. So, I'm more than excited to come up with a grain free, dairy free version!

I am including instructions for making your own broth from a whole chicken. This recipe calls for the entire chicken and its broth, making a large pot of soup. If it's too much for you, you can freeze the leftovers easily by putting a portion into a resealable freezer bag. To reheat, simply place the bag of frozen soup in a pot of hot water on the stove until thawed and warmed through. You could always half this recipe as well and save the extra broth and chicken for other meals. Boiled chicken is great for salads!

If you don't want to make your own broth, you can use pre-made chicken broth and cook some cut up chicken in a pan with some oil or fat. About 4 large chicken breasts should be enough, or 8 chicken thighs. 

Hopefully you enjoy this soup as much as my family and I did!

Spicy Mulligatawny Soup

For the broth and chicken...


1 whole pastured chicken
10-12 cups of water
This meaty hen loves a good soak in the hot tub!
salt & pepper


Place entire chicken into a large pot. Add water and some salt and pepper. You can also add carrots, onions and celery if you wish, but since this soup calls for those later, I left them out. Bring to a boil on the stove and boil chicken until done. The chicken will be done in about 30-40 minutes; however, I prefer to boil mine for a full hour.

Once done, remove the pot from the heat and take out the chicken. Allow the chicken to cool for a bit, or else your fingers will burn when you start to shred it! Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and shred all the meat, returning the meat to the pot of broth. Save the bones to make some bone broth if you wish!

For the soup...


10-12 cups bone broth
Meat of 1 whole cooked chicken, shredded
4 Tbs ghee (I prefer OMghee's brand) or olive oil to keep it dairy free
1 large yellow onion chopped
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
4-5 full sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
4 tsp curry seasoning (I used mild Balti Curry seasoning)
1 tsp ground red pepper (if using a spicier curry seasoning, you can omit)
Salt (if needed)
2 tart apples chopped (granny smith or jonathan are good)
3-4 cups cauli rice (instructions here, simply omit ginger & tangerine)
1 can of full fat coconut milk

Sweating it out in a Ghee'd up sauna!

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Add to ghee onions, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, curry seasonings and red pepper. Stir everything to coat, and place a lid on the saucepan. Allow vegetables to cook until carrots are just softened and the thyme leaves have mostly fallen off of the stems. Once done, remove thyme stems and bay leaves. Add meat, and the cooked veggies and ghee to the broth. Add some salt if it needs more (this will depend on how salty your broth is). Bring to simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, add apples and cook until apples are softened. Add the cauli rice and cook for approximately 6 minutes.

To serve:

Pour soup into a bowl. Pour 2-3 Tbs of coconut milk into each bowl upon serving, and ENJOY!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sweet and Sour Bacon Shrimp with Green Beans and Citrus Ginger Cauli Rice

Craving Chinese? Don't hit the buffet! Make your own at home!

I call myself a mental cook. I rarely ever cook a savory dish more than once before I post it...well, rarely in real life. I cook my meals a million times in my head first. It's a very weird routine I have. You know how some athletes imagine themselves winning before the big game? I do that with new recipes. I'll lay in bed late at night and imagine myself going through the ingredients. I imagine every detail down to which pots, pans and utensils I'll use and how I'll photograph it. I even imagine myself making changes, or adding new seasonings or another layer to the recipe. In fact, many of my ideas come from me imagining myself staring into the fridge with a limited number of ingredients and having to come up with a new recipe. What can I say? It works for me!

That's exactly what I did with this dish. I thought this recipe up about five days ago, and I've been cooking it over and over again in my head since then-- making changes, adding new ingredients and seasonings. Today I actually cooked it, and the results were perfect! To quote my husband, who is always the final word on my recipes, "That is something you'd get in a fancy restaurant." As a man who has travelled all over the world for his job, and eaten on the company dime at some great restaurants, I'll take his word for it!

Now, I want to touch on the topic of green beans because I know many of you have already been thinking, "But I thought green beans weren't Paleo?" It's a valid question, one that I asked myself a long while ago. I can't tell you whether you should, or shouldn't eat green beans, but I can provide you with a little bit of information I've learned in my own research. Paleo is, at it's strictest form, legume free and green beans are a legume. However, many people keep green beans as a part of their regular Paleo diet and here's why...

First of all, the reason legumes are restricted on Paleo is because they high in lectins, phytates and galactans. These are all ingredients that are harmful to our digestive system for multiple reasons that I won't go into detail about here. However, green beans are unique from other legumes in that they are extremely low in lectins, phytates, and galactans. Add to that the fact that they are super high in many vitamins and nutrients, and many people have decided that the benefits outweigh what very little harm they MIGHT even cause. Now, this is not necessarily the case for people who have an issue with FODMAPS; however, even many of those individuals find they have no issue with green beans. What it boils down to is this: Green beans provide many benefits at very VERY little risk to our health. The decision to eat them or not rests with your personal experience. If you find you have issues after eating them, or you simply want to adhere to a very pure version of Paleo, then you may want to stay away.

Okay. Now that we've cleared the air with that one, let's move on to the recipe!

Sweet and Sour Bacon Shrimp with Green Beans and Citrus Ginger Cauli Rice (serves 2 generously)

For the Sweet and Sour Bacon Shrimp and Green Beans...


4 Tbs bacon grease
1/4 yellow onion minced
3 large (4 medium) garlic cloves crushed
1.5 liquid cups vegetable stock
4 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs coconut aminos
Juice of 2 tangerines
3 Tbs raw honey
1/4 tsp sea salt
20-30 medium shrimp cooked & deveined (tail on or off is personal preference)
2 hearty handfuls of fresh green beans (or more if you are a hungry set)
4 pieces of crispy fried bacon (for garnish)
Chopped green onions (for garnish)


Dry shrimp well. In a nonstick pan over medium heat melt bacon grease. Add onions & cook down a bit. After onions have cooked a bit, add garlic. After the garlic has cooked a bit, add the liquid ingredients. Add the honey and salt last. Stir continually until honey is melted and ingredients are well blended. Bring to a bubble. Allow the liquid to bubble until it has reduced to approximately half of its starting amount. Once it has reduced, pour almost all of the sauce out of the pan into a cup or bowl and set aside. Leave just enough in the pan for cooking the beans and shrimp. 

Return pan to heat and add the green beans. Cook until desired doneness. I like mine al dente (still a little firm). Then, add the shrimp to the pan and cook until just warmed through. This does not take long, so watch carefully! Usually, just a few minutes is all you need. Remember, it is already cooked. You are just warming it up. If you need to add more sauce to the pan at all while cooking the beans and shrimp, do so.

For the Ginger Citrus Cauli Rice...


1 head of fresh cauliflower
1 tsp ground ginger (dried)
Zest & Juice of 1 tangerine


Chop the cauliflower. Using a food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it reaches a rice-like shape and size. I like to do mine in two separate batches to ensure a more consistent size throughout. Once done, mix in the dried ginger and tangerine zest and juice. To cook mine, I simply placed it in a covered microwavable dish and microwaved it for 8 minutes. If you do not use a microwave, you can warm it up in the pan you cooked the sauce, beans and shrimp in. Simply sauté the cauli rice until it is just softened.

To plate...

Place a portion of cauli rice on the plate. Top with green beans and shrimp. Drizzle with sweet and sour sauce. Top with crumbled bacon and green onions. Grab some chopsticks and ENJOY!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Spicy Thai Breakfast Casserole

Spice your meal prep breakfast up a notch with this casserole!

When I asked you all what types of things you'd like to see more of on the blog, one of the popular responses was meal prep ideas. I can totally relate, especially in the breakfast arena. I was needing to come up with a good breakfast meal prep for my kids-- something they could get out of the fridge themselves and warm up in the microwave. My mom makes an outstanding breakfast casserole that is a little more traditional than this and calls for bread (of course) and lots of cheese (of course). Both are things I can't eat and, let's be honest, if you're going to grate an entire block of grass fed cheese into a casserole, you may as well just add shredded dollar bills. Am I right?!?!

The dilemma is that most ingredients in casseroles don't exactly fit the Paleo lifestyle, but they are GREAT for serving a crowd or for meal prep. You can even pre-cut individual servings and separate them into tupperware or baggies and take a serving with you if you're rushing out the door in the mornings. When I got to thinking, I came to the revelation that a frittata is not that different from a casserole, it just uses eggs only. So, why not do a larger scaled frittata in a casserole dish? BINGO!

Now, you all know I love my spicy food. Thai is definitely included in that! So, I thought I'd make this breakfast casserole Thai inspired. I kept the spice mild for the sake of my kids, but if you'd like to take it up to what my favorite Thai restaurant back home in Indiana calls, "Thai Spicy," just bump up the red pepper & chili powder!

Spicy Thai Breakfast Casserole


12 eggs
1 Tbs dried basil or 2 Tbs fresh chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cardemom
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1/2  tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs coconut oil + more for greasing dish
1 lb ground beef or any ground meat of choice
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 yellow onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1/2 cup creamy cashew butter
1 cup chopped tomatoes

*If you do not have Flavor God use the following in place:
1 Tbs garlic powder (in addition to the 1 tsp listed above)
1/2 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper (in addition to the 1 tsp listed above)
1 tsp dried basil (in addition to the 1 Tbs listed above)


Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease a large casserole dish with coconut oil. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs and all the spices together well. In a pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Begin to brown the meat. After it has browned a bit, add the carrots & broccoli. They need to be first in the pan as they will take longer to cook down. You can use a lid to help them cook faster if you wish. Once the meat is browned and the carrots and broccoli have begun to soften, add the mushrooms & onions. Once all the veggies have softened, add the cashew butter and blend well with the other ingredients until cashew butter has melted and everything is coated with it. Add the tomatoes and heat until the tomatoes are just warmed through. Add the meat and vegetables to the whisked eggs and mix well. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until a toothpick or fork comes out clean. Don't be alarmed if your casserole goes all "Puff Daddy" on you while cooking. It will settle back down as it cools.

Slice & store in the fridge, or serve immediately-- perhaps with a little coconut milk over top-- and ENJOY!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dare I say it...

Dare I say it?

Blogging is making me fat. Okay, "fat" is a total exaggeration, but the bottom line is that blogging is hindering my weight loss. Not blogging in and of itself. WHAT I'm blogging is the culprit. 

In an effort to avoid constantly making clarifications to everything I'm going to say in this post, let me state up front that YOUR version of Paleo is yours. What I'm going to say in this post may not apply to you. This is my personal experience,  my personal opinion, and my personal decision. I'm sharing it with all of you because it does directly effect the nature and voice of this blog, and because many of you may associate with what I'm experiencing and find that it does apply to you. I recognize that there are ALWAYS exceptions, and I am not going to spend my time addressing all of those exceptions throughout this post. There is no reason for anyone to get worked up over my thoughts and opinions here, because I do not take a "one size fits all" approach to health. My goal with this post is to get you thinking, and promote change that you personally may feel needs to take place.

My intention in starting this blog was to be genuine, honest, and real about the struggles in weight loss, food addiction and overall health. I find that personal openness is something greatly lacking in the health and fitness world-- Paleo or otherwise. We have a lot of recipe blogs, exercise blogs, people selling the latest health shakes, but where are the people talking about the real life, real food struggle? Blogger fame can cause writers to hide their real self, and rightfully so as privacy can feel invaded. But, when I started my journey over two years ago, I felt completely alone. Completely. I don't want that to be the case for you! I can't lie-- transparency is not easy for me. I am a perfectionist, and admitting flaws and failures is not a part of my emotional protocol. Being emotionally closed off is a defense mechanism and survival strategy for me, but I know that transparency fosters connections; and I want you the reader to feel that we can stand together in solidarity.

Now that I got that out of the way, dare I say it...

Fact: Paleo-fied breads and desserts are sexy, alluring, delicious, and better for you than Standard American Diet (SAD from here on out) baked goods.

Also fact: They will not nourish your body like healthy fats, protein, and vegetables will; and they can hinder health and fitness goals.

I confess! I have fallen into the "Paleo" bread & dessert trap. How? Easily, as a matter of fact. Paleo-fied SAD foods garner A LOT of attention in the blogosphere. I know this because my most viewed, most liked food posts are cleaned up versions of SAD foods-- namely dessert. As a result, I have wanted to post more in an effort to gain more viewership. It's only natural. When you look at Paleo blogs/IG's/Facebook pages, they are heavy on the desserts & breads for this reason. People LOVE them. I mean, who doesn't enjoy biting into moist breads and cakes and cookies? Everyone does, because, dare I say it, we're addicted to grains and sugar and we want to give them up without really giving them up. 

Let the hate begin!

I know a lot of people will not like me for saying this, so one last time I'm going to clarify that if you don't feel that this applies to you, that's great! Let me also clarify that I believe the occasional grain/dairy/refined sugar free treat is perfectly fine and encouraged! Or even go all out and eat a glutenous pile of glorious SAD foods from time to time. I don't want to come across as militant here, but I do see a growing trend in over consumption of Paleo-fied SAD foods. 

But they're Paleo! Well, that can be argued. As someone who has been following the Paleolithic template for over two years now, I'm seeing quite a shift in its presentation with its new mainstream status. It has become more about just cutting out certain bad foods, leaving the population to believe that everything else is a free for all. Many "Paleo" meal plans don't look that different from the SAD ones, they just use different ingredients.

For me, that is not Paleo. 

As someone who has struggled with food addictions and eating disorders (you can read "My Story" here), Paleo means more than just cutting out certain bad foods. Paleo is about getting back to REAL food. Eating as close to nature as possible. Eating to live, not living to eat. In fact, my first year of Paleo, I didn't make a single Paleo dessert or baked good. I would treat myself once a month to a SAD meal & dessert, and that was it. Some of you might be freaking out right now-- ONCE A MONTH??? Yes. And I felt amazing. I was at peace with food. I was at peace in my physical body. I was 40 pounds heavier, yet my gym and life performance were outstanding, and the fat loss was incredibly efficient. 

It cannot be a coincidence that when I started introducing Paleo baked goods into my diet the fat loss slowed down. I started eating mug cakes, paleo breads, Enjoy Life chocolate name it! Not all the time, but often enough to slow things down. It has been even worse since starting this blog. I eat what I make because I'm not wasteful. Thankfully, I'm not the only one here to eat it. My kids and husband are happy to share the burden, but I'm consuming more than I should for my personal health and wellness goals. My body works most efficiently on a high fat/ high protein, low nut/low sugar diet, which is the case for a lot of people who struggle with obesity and slow metabolism. Unfortunately, Paleo baked goods just don't fit into that kind of diet. 

The purpose of the Paleolithic template is to fuel our bodies for efficiency. It's about good sustenance and peak performance in the gym, and in life. This being the case, where do Paleo-fied SAD foods fit into this template? My opinion is that they don't. This is not the same as never eating them. I'm simply saying that they should be the exception, and not a part of our weekly menu plan. 

Feel free to hate me even more now! I never said this was going to make me popular. Ha!

So, here's the big moment of truth...I'm going to stop posting as many desserts. GASP! I might lose blog views and social media fans, but I cannot justify posting them as often as I have been, because I don't believe we should consume them as much as we do. The last several times I have posted a dessert I have actually felt guilty, like I am misleading you all. To me, that is a clear indication that I shouldn't be doing it. This is totally personal. I do not fault any Paleo blogger who posts mostly desserts, but this blog needs to be a reflection of who I genuinely am and what I believe; and I don't believe we should be consuming Paleo-fied SAD foods with such frequency. I have to be true to that, not only for my health, but for my peace of mind.

So, why do I believe this?

1. It's not just about ingredients and weight loss.

Eating Paleo baked goods is not about the ingredients. It's about the mentality that goes along with eating them. Like I said before, we want to give up grains without really giving them up. We want to FEEL like we're eating SAD foods.

Is that the point of the Paleolithic lifestyle? Is that healthy? Does appeasing our desire to feel like we're eating something we shouldn't really promote a healthy relationship with food? I think these are valid questions we need to be asking ourselves. Your answer may be different than mine, but I encourage you to really stop and be honest with yourself when answering this question.

Of course, there is the age old, "but they're made with better ingredients," argument. This is an argument made in the SAD world as well. It's true. They are made with better ingredients, and I take the view that if you're going to treat yourself, treat yourself Paleo-- especially people like myself who suffer gluten sensitivity. The key words here being IF and TREAT. I fully believe that when we think something is made with better ingredients, we over consume it. I don't mean in one sitting, I mean in the frequency with which we consume them. This goes back full circle to my first point here. 

If you ask yourself that initial question, and your answer is that you can have a healthy relationship with food and you feel amazing eating Paleo pancakes every morning for breakfast then have at it! I have no issue with someone eating raw honey or coconut sugar or blanched nuts everyday as long as they are consuming an appropriate amount for their body and their personal health and fitness goals. My concern is in the "how" we are consuming it. I have very little problem with someone drizzling their raw apple with a little honey, or using honey with balsamic vinegar on their salad, or putting a little coconut sugar in their tea. However,  I would argue that for many people the consumption of Paleo-fied SAD foods has more to do with an emotional connection than a desire to eat raw honey for it's health benefits. That is not heathy, and I think we need to reassess our consumption of Paleo baked goods for this reason. I know I have needed to do this!

Now, that being said...

2. Ingredients are an a certain extent.

Paleo baked goods are usually made from a high amount of nut flours and sugars. 

First, I want to address nut flours. Almond & coconut flour are both really popular in grain free baking. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, among other benefits. However, there is a reason the original Paleo diet recommends you eat very little of them (just 1-2oz a day). Nuts, including coconut, can be extremely high in phytic acid. Phytic acid is a problem for several reasons that Chris Kesser explains here. One of those reasons is that it can bind to essential nutrients and eliminate them from our body, which can ultimately lead to a micronutrient deficiency, which I will discuss a bit later. While made from blanched almonds which can slightly decrease the phytic acid, almond flour has a high concentration of nuts. A cup of almond flour can contain almost 90 almonds! If that delicious Paleo bread calls for 2 cups of almond flour, and you make 8 slices, that means each slice can contain 22 almonds. Which is the recommended amount for daily consumption. So, that being the case, if you can stick to one slice of that bread and not have any nuts or nut butter the rest of the day, you'll be fine. Can you do that? That's a personal question.

Now, SUGAR. Sugar is the DEVIL-- I say this somewhat facetiously. You don't have to be in the fitness and health circuit long before this is made known, and it's now even permeating the mainstream media. I am glad it is, because refined sugar needs to be dealt with. But, is all sugar the devil? Yes and no. As a society are we addicted to sugar? Yes. Is it good for people to do a hard core, sugar free detox like Diane Sanflippo's 21 Day Sugar Detox to break the negative cycle of sugar addiction and reconnect with our body's natural hunger cues? Absolutely! Does everyone need to subscribe to a sugar free lifestyle on the regular? No. HOWEVER, daily sugar consumption should be limited. 

"But honey, coconut sugar, and maple are great sources of carbohydrates on the Paleo diet." They are each A source of carbohydrates, but they should not be our ONLY source. If you need 80-100 grams of carbohydrates a day, getting them all from natural sugars is not wise, for all the reasons too much sugar consumption is not wise (which is discussed in depth in Diane Sanflippo's 21 Day Sugar Detox book). While raw honey, coconut sugar, and maple can all have great health benefits, our bodies still respond to them as sugar. Bottom line: we need to be careful. If you need to consume a higher carbohydrate diet, I would suggest that you get most of those carbs from roots, tubers, vegetables and some fruit because they are not only a source of carbohydrates, but also a source of micronutrients, which actually leads me to my next point...

3. We should be concerning ourselves with micronutrient consumption more than we are.

Unfortunately, this is something that tends to take a back seat to macronutrient consumption in the health and fitness world because macro counting is such a big part of "leaning out." Macronutrients are just that-- the macro (large in scale) nutrients (nourishing things) we need for growth and development. I.e. protein, carbohydrates and fat. Micronutrients, you can then assume, are the smaller scale nutrients we need for growth and development-- vitamins and minerals that we consume on a smaller scale. 
Micronutrient consumption is very important because, while we don't consume them in higher quantities, a deficiency in micronutrients can lead to a number of health problems, from the most basic (lack of energy) to the more extreme (cardiovascular disease). 

So what does eating Paleo baked goods have to do with micronutrient consumption? Let's use some common Paleo meals as examples:


3 coconut flour pancakes
Drizzle of pure maple
2 Tbs almond butter
2 slices of pastured bacon
1 apple
coffee with honey and coconut milk


Paleo sandwich with
homemade mayonaise


Homemade protein bar


Sweet potato
Paleo brownie 

For all intents and purposes, this is a Paleo food diary-- No gluten, grains, dairy, refined sugar, soy or bad fats. It also has been meticulously planned out to fit the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrates this person needs to reach their fat loss goals. However, the fact is there are not enough vegetables. We have to eat our vegetables people!! And we have to eat a wide variety of them! Most of our micronutrients come from vegetables, and we get a variety of micronutrients by eating the rainbow of vegetables. Not only is this diet plan lacking in micronutrients, but it's also high in nuts, which are high in phytic acid, which will remove some micronutrients this person does consume. It's a recipe for disaster!

My concern is that many of us are filling our bellies with Paleo baked goods, and not leaving enough room for micronutrient rich vegetables-- including tubers and squashes which should be our main source for carbohydrates.

Okay, now that you're all hating me...

I don't want to be a Debbie Downer here. I said it once, I'll say it again: treats are okay! The frequency with which you eat them is a personal decision. However, I think we all need to stop and occasionally reassess our diets, especially how much Paleo-fied SAD foods we are eating. 

Have you reached a plateau in your weight loss or fitness goals? Are you feeling a bit foggy and sluggish during the day? When you come home tired from a long day at work, are you immediately reaching for that Paleo brownie and justifying it because it's "Paleo?" If so, perhaps you should stop and get back to the basics of what Paleo is about-- eating real, nutrient rich, colorful foods. Sticking to the Paleo Pyramid of pastured (or lean) meats, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds. You might find that a simplified approach to food is exactly what you need to get back on the track of optimizing your health. 

I'm doing this myself starting NOW. If you'd like to join me, I'll be posting some amazing recipes that fit this criteria! It's not about deprivation, it's about sustenance. It's about eating foods that nourish you both body and soul. That is what this blog has been, and will henceforth be about!

Much love to you all!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bar-B-Que Pulled Pork Pizza

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza-pie, that's amore!"

15 years ago a Planet Hollywood came to Indianapolis. It lasted all of about six months. Apparently, we Hoosiers are a little too down to earth for all that Hollywood glitz and glamour. I went there one night with some friends, and for the first time ever, I had a barbecue pizza. It was delightful! I actually haven't had one since, but I think about it often with fond memories of really loud music and weird movie costumes.

By now most of you know that I cannot stand to eat the same thing two days in a row, but living the Paleo/Primal lifestyle with a busy family of four makes leftovers a necessity. While I was thinking of what to have for dinner tonight using some leftover pulled pork, the first thing that came to mind was that barbecue pizza from Planet Hollywood. I couldn't get it off my mind.  So, I set to work and came up with one heckuva good Paleo barbecue sauce for the pizza-pie!

Now, I'm calling this "Butt Smackin' Good Bar-B-Que Sauce," because when my husband-- who is only Primal by default of his wife buying only Primal/Paleo approved foods-- tasted it he said, "Don't. Change. A. Thing." And then he smacked my behind before leaving the kitchen. I'd say that's one good sauce!

I used a simple almond flour crust for this pizza, which I will include the recipe for below; however, feel free to use your favorite Paleo or gluten free crust! Also, if you want a more Primal pizza, top it with your favorite grass fed cheese-- goat cheese would be absolutely delicious, and my first choice if I could eat dairy!

Butt Smackin' Good Bar-B-Que Sauce


6 oz can tomato paste
1.5 cups liquified bone broth or stock/broth of choice*
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs raw honey
2 Tbs Flavor God Everything seasoning**
1/2 tsp ground Jamaican allspice
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp sea salt

*If using store bought stock, you may need to adjust the salt accordingly as store bought tends to be more salty than homemade stock/broth.

**If you do not have Flavor God Everything seasoning use the following:
    1 Tbs garlic powder
    1 Tbs Onion Powder
    2 tsp paprika (in place of the 1tsp listed above)
You're liable to get your butt smacked with sauce this good!
    1/2 tsp dried basil
    1 tsp sea salt (in place of the 1/4tsp listed above)


In a pot over medium-low heat, put tomato paste, bone broth, apple cider vinegar and honey. Whisk while heating until everything is incorporated. Add seasonings and whisk well. Allow to simmer over heat for as long as you desire. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors will come together. Stir it occasionally so the sauce won't burn to the bottom. When finished, allow to cool and pour into a jar. You can store this in the refrigerator and will last a while.

Simple Almond Crust


2 cups almond flour
2 eggs
2 Tbs melted ghee (I use OMghee's brand)
1 Tbs Flavor God everything seasonings (or seasonings of choice & little sea salt)


Preheat oven to 400*F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If using a pizza stone, warm it up in the oven while it preheats. Once the oven is finished preheating the stone will be hot. Remove the stone and sprinkle with almond flour. Simply press (or use a rolling pin) to flatten the dough. I would suggest placing a layer of parchment paper over the dough and use a rolling pin to roll it out on the stone and then remove the parchment paper before baking. If you are using a metal pizza sheet, line the bottom with parchment paper and place another layer of parchment paper over it to press the dough out and remove the top layer of parchment before baking.

Bake crust for 10 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown, and then remove from oven. The crust is ready for toppings!

The Toppings


1 onion
1 granny smith apple
1 Tbs ghee (for cooking)
1-2 cups leftover pulled pork (or shredded chicken)
1 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if desired)


In a pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Slice onions thinly. Cook onions in pan until caramelized. Remove from the pan. Slice  & core the apples however you'd like-- the thinner they are, the quicker they'll cook up. Place slices in the pan & cook, flipping occasionally until they have softened. Remove from heat. In the same pan, warm up leftover pulled pork or shredded chicken.

Assembly & Finishing of the Pizza Pie

Spread a layer of the Butt Smackin' Bar-B-Cue sauce onto the baked crust. Add the meat, apples and onions. Drizzle a little more sauce over everything and then sprinkle with the parsley and red pepper flakes. Return to the oven and cooke for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool just a bit. Slice that bad boy up and ENJOY!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños Stuffed with Cilantro Lime Cauli Mash

A spicy, creamy dreamy-- CHEESE FREE-- delight!

When I was still back home in Indiana with my family, I would host an "Annual Epps Cookie Party" every Christmas. It was a classy soiree. My home would be decked out with fresh greenery, shiny ornaments, candles, twinkle lights, and a fire burning in the fireplace. We'd have about 20 people over to exchange cookie delights, and enjoy one another's company. Although I only did it for about 7 years, it has become one of my fondest Christmas memories. It was an opportunity for me to do the work so my family and friends could sit back and enjoy all the things we love about Christmas, and it was a way to get everyone into the holiday baking spirit! One year, a bachelor friend even showed up with some "homemade" cookies! OK...he bought the dough, but he gets mad props for the effort!

I would, of course, create a spread of delicious savory appetizers to offset all the sugary goodness we'd consume throughout the evening. You know how it goes-- eat something salty and drink something bubbly after you devour 5 cookies so you can return to the cookie table for another go 'round. It's always a good holiday party strategy.

Unfortunately, since we are temporarily in an apartment this year trying to settle into a new city, a cookie party with our family and new friends wasn't going to happen this year; but I'm already looking forward to hosting the Annual Epps Cookie Party next year in our new Carolina home with the new friends we've made!

Although I won't be hosting a large Holiday party this year, I know many of you will be! No party is complete without appetizers...or "appies," as all the cool people who abbreviate everything would say.  This spicy, creamy dreamy appetizer is sure to please everyone, and it helps you keep it Paleo! I mean, no one-- not even standard American dieters-- will turn down something wrapped in bacon, right?

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños Stuffed with Cilantro Lime Cauli Mash (for 12 jalapeños)


12 jalapeños
12 slices of bacon
2 cups steamed cauliflower
2 Tbs heaping of ghee (I use OMghee's brand)
4-5 liquid Tbs coconut/almond milk
Juice 1 lime
1 Tbs dried cilantro (2-3 if fresh)
1 tsp heaping of  Flavor God Everything Spicy seasoning*
Sea salt to taste

*If you do not have Flavor God, use 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, & cumin

For the mash...

Place steamed & well drained cauliflower into a food processor or blender. Add  ghee, lime juice, cilantro and Flavor God (or substitutes seasonings). Start processing. Slowly add milk until you get the creamy consistency you desire. If you need more than recommended amount, add more.
Visual aid for how to slice the jalapeños

To stuff...

Slice the tips with the stem off of 12 jalapeños. Then, slice a little off the jalapeños lengthwise to create an opening and a small "lid." Hollow out the jalapeño with a small paring knife. Stuff each jalapeño. Be careful not to stuff it too full! Place the "lid" back on over the stuffing. Wrap each jalepeño with one slice of bacon.

To bake...

Preheat the oven to 375*F. Place the stuffed and wrapped jalapeños onto a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until bacon has cooked. Remove from oven and place on a plate lined with paper towels to cool. You can also line the cookie sheet with parchment paper, which will help to absorb some of the grease.

Now, serve them to your guests and watch the looks on their faces as they bite into a creamy-- DAIRY FREE-- spicy and satisfying appetizer! I promise, they'll come back for more!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Not your mother's shepherd's pie!

I. Love. Tex-Mex. 

It's a problem, really. My motto has always been, "When in doubt, make it spicy and top it with an egg." It's worked for me so far. You don't have to follow my social media for very long before you will notice my motto at work.

I recently had some leftover taco meat and cauli mash, and as I've mentioned before, I hate eating the same thing two days in a row so I have become somewhat of a genius at re-imagining leftovers. I knew exactly what I wanted to make when I saw those two ingredients sitting in my fridge. This is, by far, my favorite leftover remake! A spicy twist on an old favorite, this Mexican Shepherd's Pie is sure to please the whole family, and satiate that craving for comfort food on a cold winter's night!

Mexican Shepherd's Pie (for small casserole dish)

Note: If using leftover taco meat that is already spiced, you do not need to use spices listed below. Also, if you want mild heat cut back on the spices a bit.


3/4 lb ground beef
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp Flavor God Everything Spicy seasoning + more for sprinkling
Perfect comfort food for a cold winter night!
1/2 green pepper chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1/2 onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (or mild salsa fresca)
1/4 cup creamy cashew butter
3 Tbs Tessamae's hot sauce
2 Tbs OMghee (or ghee of choice, can also use grass fed butter) + more for sautéing vegetables
1 avocado
2-3 cups Cauli mash


Preheat oven to 375*F. Brown the meat (skip this step if using leftover meat). In a pan over medium heat melt a little ghee or fat.  Sauté peppers and onions until caramelized. Add tomatoes and cook down. Add ground meat, spices (if meat has not yet been spiced), cashew butter, hot sauce, and ghee and cook until butter and ghee have melted and you get a somewhat creamy meat mixture. Remove from heat. Add an avocado and mash it well with the meat mixture. Put meat into a small casserole dish. Top with cauli mash and sprinkle the top with some Flavor God. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes. Switch the oven to high broil. Broil for approximately 5-10 minutes until top has browned a bit. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. ENJOY!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Spiced Brownie a la Mode with Spiced Rum Chocolate Sauce

Spiced Rum & Chocolate Decadence!

OK. OK...I've been a bad girl. Three desserts in a row?!?! What has happened?

After this, no more desserts for a while. Got it? I'm saying this more for myself than for you.

The back story...

My first real job was as a waitress at Steak n' Shake. I was really good at it. Waiting tables is hard work, but making money as a waitress is not hard. Compliment the women. Flirt with the men. Money in your pocket. At least, it worked for me! One of my favorite desserts to get on my break was the Fudge Brownie a la Mode. It was so good! Well, I was craving one tonight, and since it's Sunday Funday (i.e. treat night for me), I wanted to make a quick and easy Christmas-y version.

This rich decadent dessert is not only quick and easy, but absolutely indulgent!

Spiced Brownie a la Mode with Spiced Rum Chocolate Sauce

For the microwave brownie...


1 egg
1 Tbs full fat coconut milk
4 Tbs raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs raw honey
1 Tbs melted ghee (I use OMghee's brand)


In a microwaveable bowl mix all ingredients & microwave for anywhere from 1min 15sec to 1min 45sec, or until done. I recommend starting at the lowest amount and work up from there. You don't want a dry brownie. It should fall out of the bowl easily, though you may need to use a butter knife or rubber spatula to gently separate the sides.

For the chocolate sauce...


1 Tbs (heaping) ghee
1 Tbs (heaping) honey
4 liquid Tbs spiced rum
3 Tbs raw cacao powder


In a small pan or pot over medium-low heat melt ghee, honey & rum together. Cook until it starts to bubble. Allow to bubble until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in cacao powder. It will thicken as it cools (will harden in the fridge)

To plate:

Place brownie on the plate, top with some vanilla coconut milk ice cream and drizzle with the sauce. The sauce may harden a bit when it hits the ice cream similar to how a "magic shell" sauce does. I love this! Crumble some crushed pecans over top and ENJOY!