Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life Not Worth Living Without Peanut Butter

I've been exploring the Paleo Diet to help me find gluten-free dairy-free food for O to eat. The basics of the Paleo Diet are no dairy, no grains, no legumes. Yes to lean meats, lots of veggies, some fruits, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil). I decided to give the approach a try and I learned some things:

1) I do much better when I add more protein to my diet and to each meal. For me, it prevents the wild blood sugar crashes I had become accustomed to. I thought it was  normal to become so hungry in 60 seconds that I thought I'd keel over or hurt someone in my bid for the next bite of food. Not so!

2) I can live fairly easily without a lot of dairy in my diet, even without using substitutes for dairy, with the exception of some nut milks.

3) Life is not worth living and is terribly inconvenient without peanut butter (peanuts are legumes). And, I'm sorry, but almond butter just isn't the same.

'Nuf said.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring in the Rockies

80 degrees and sunny on Sunday--and for much of the last two weeks. My friend in Portland texted me on Sunday morning as I was taking off on my bike club ride saying--"Seriously? 70 and sunny. Wettest March on record in Portland." Well, who's crying now? We woke up to snow this morning! It was inevitable. It seems like last April and even later in the month, I was writing about snow. Plus, I tempted fate by planting lettuce in our container garden!

I've started road cycling with a women's cycling group here called The Venus de Miles. Gotta ride with them just for the name! I did a ride with them two years ago but chose a ride that was a bit too long and a bit too fast. Plus, I was just getting used to those new-fangled (to me, anyway) clips and shoes. I tipped over several times still fully clipped into my pedals, an unhappy even for the hip you pitch over onto and for your pride. Then Adam and I took a few rides that were just too hard for me and once we got caught in a lightening storm. I wasn't having so much fun and so I hung up my bike for that summer. I didn't get on it AT ALL last summer.

I finally decided to get back on the horse--um, bike--and give it another try. But with more smarts this time. Short and slow on the ride. New clips that I can actually get my feet out of. Now I don't panic each time I think I might have to stop. And I got my bike adjusted and found out my seat was too high (so that's why my butt hurt so badly . . . ), too far back (that's why it felt like I could hardly reach my handlebars . . . ) and handlebars to low (ditto . . . ). Wow! I been enjoying my rides and look forward to getting on my bike again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Making Progress

Not quite a month since my last post about the trials and tribulations of needing to remove dairy from Oliver's diet. The good news is that he is doing great. During the first week, it seemed like he went through a sort of detox with lots of headaches and stomachaches but since then he's been virtually symptom free (except when he doesn't want to do something--"my stomach hurts!").

I've been reading a lot about the Paleo Diet (in 25 words or less--the way our Paleolithic ancestors ate. Lean meats, lots of veggies, some fruit, nuts and seeds, health fats). The happy thing for me, as the family cook, is that the Paleo diet is grain and dairy free so it's an easy go-to for recipes that fit the bill without my having to do back flips in terms of changing recipes. We're not eating 100% grain-free but gluten is still out.

My favorite Paleo Diet blog is by Melissa Joulwan at She's got interesting recipes and ideas, she's funny and her writing is lots of fun. Check out her idea for "cook-ups" as a way to make your cooking life easier. Fav recipes for me are the Spiced Nuts and the Caramelized Coconut Flakes. Yum!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gluten-free Dairy-free--Argh!

Levi has been on a gluten-free diet for a year. Oliver followed a few months ago and now he has had to eliminate dairy too. We tried dairy-free for him a while ago and frankly, I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. But increasing tummy aches and headaches have made it a necessity to give it a dedicated try. It's REALLY hard to say goodbye to all those cheese-laden favorites like cauliflower cheese soup but I also see that this is just one more kick up the ladder of healthier eating. Think we couldn't rely on processed foods before? Now we really can't. And that's a good thing.

The biggest challenge of the GF diet has been eliminating bread, simply due to the convenience of the beloved sandwich. We've spent a year testing store-bought and homemade Gf breads and nothing stands out as truly being good.

Some friends have turned me onto the resource of the Paleo diet. I don't know that we'll go strictly Paleo but the great advantage is that the approach is dairy and grain free so it provides the sorts of recipes I need.

Anyway, I tried a "Paleo Bread" recipe, a grain free bread made largely with almond meal and a bit of coconut flour to add lightness. (Find the recipe at My first attempt seemed like a beauty--golden crust, nicely risen, and it tasted good and moist. All was well until I got about 3 slices into the loaf to discover a raw cavern inside. Oh, I was so disappointed and frustrated--and determined! So I made another loaf with the following changes: I eliminated 1 egg and reduced the baking soda by 1/2 t. and cooked it for an extra 5 minutes. When I checked for doneness, it still seemed raw in the middle.

So . . . the reduction of the baking soda was good because I think the first loaf tasted too strongly of the soda. My thinking in reducing the egg and soda was that the loaf had risen too quickly, producing the big hole in the middle. Things often rise too quickly at this altitude and then either have a big hole in them or sink into the hole after baking. If you're going to try this, I'm not sure what to suggest given that I live at 5000 feet. But I would definitely start by reducing the baking soda just on the taste front.

The final verdict will come from the kids!

(Do look at Elana's recommendation on her website re: baking pans and brands of almond meal/flour. Her website and books are a great resource!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Back!

OK--I've had exactly one request to keep writing so now I know who's reading! Ha! I appreciate the nudge. I started this blog for many reasons but among them was--so I would write.

So . . . it's almost a year since I've been here. The biggest news--for me, anyway--is that I just turned 50. Now, it that isn't weird, I don't know what is. I celebrated yesterday with Adam and the kids at a great restaurant here called The Med. We started out with tapas and I had a delicious mushroom risotto with fresh arugula on top. I LOVE arugula and have also developed a love for kale salad. Gotta eat your greens!

I also celebrated a few weekends ago in Portland, OR with several old friends. It still feels like going home when I fly into PDX, like it's still my airport. My flight left DEN at noon on a Friday. Adam was working for the day and then was going to pick the kids up on Friday afternoon. Since the kids go in separate directions on Fridays, I had concocted a set of elaborate plans to get everyone where they needed to go.

As luck would have it, Oliver started throwing up on Thursday night. The first time he got sick, he made it to the toilet and I thought to myself, A milestone! Finally, they make it to the toilet rather than being sick on our bedroom floor. About 20 minutes later, Oliver came into our bedroom, flopped down on the bed and said he felt like he was going to "puke." I immediately shooed him toward the bathroom but Adam said, oh, you can stay here a few minutes. Oliver promptly threw up on our bed. So much for milestones!

But bless Adam's soul, he stayed home from work the next day to take care of a sick kid while I skipped off for my girl's weekend. As I stood at the door with my suitcase, I said to him, this feels a little weird. Don't worry about it, he told me, I do it all the time! So off I went for a weekend of pedicures, eating out, roaming Powell's Books, and basically doing whatever I wanted without regard to sick kid, husband, dog or cat care!