Saturday, December 21, 2013

Paleo-Friendly Breakfast in Your Stockings on Christmas Morning

I am starting to collect our stocking stuffers for Christmas this year. My goal is to layer little toys and fun items with some breakfast-y items so that my husband and I can slowly sip our coffee while we all nibble on the beginnings of breakfast as the stockings' contents are being unwrapped. Lots of nonperishable paleo-friendly items are going to show up to 'sustain' us until the excitement ebbs a little and I can cook some heartier fare.

If you have Amazon Prime (free 2 day shipping) or not - but are willing to pay for 2 day shipping - today is the last stretch of time that you can order stocking stuffers and have them arrive before Christmas. Here is a sneak peek into our stockings' "breakfast-y" contents.

Are YOU slipping something to kick off breakfast into your family's stockings this year? What are you going to pick?

This post contains affiliate links. Shopping Amazon through this link results in a tiny percentage of the purchase price being given to Primal Kitchen, at no added cost to you, so thank you for supporting Primal Kitchen!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Primal Kitchen Recipes Featured in the Paleo Cookbook for Dummies

I am exceptionally proud to have been a part of the creation of the Paleo Cookbook for Dummies.

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci was responsible for the book coming to life. In her words:

  • Includes an overview of the Paleo-diet shopping list and pantry-stocking tips, along with kid-friendly Paleo recipes.

  • Dozens of answers to such questions as “Should you eat dairy? Can you drink alcohol?” and more, along with diet testimonials.

  • Information on how the Paleo diet, which reverses disease naturally, improves autoimmune issues, skin challenges, sleep patterns and fitness levels. Shares how it boosts energy levels and helps celiacs who follow a gluten-free lifestyle/anti-inflammatory diet.


    With more than 100 Whole9 approved recipes ( and contributions from top Paleo lifestyle and food experts like Mark Sissson (, Melissa Joulwan ( Michelle Tam (NomNomPaleo), Arsy Vartanian (, George Bryant (, Nick Massie (, Jason Crouch (, Audrey Olson ( and raw foodie, Alissa Cohen (    

You will find many Primal Kitchen recipe favorites in the kids' recipe section. I am very pleased that many of my contributed recipes qualified for the high standard of Dallas and Melissa Hartwig's Whole9 approval.

The Paleo Cookbook for Dummies is a beautifully done collaborative effort that offers lots of tips on paleo living. I happily recommend it to paleo newbies and longtimers alike!

Primal Kitchen Featured on the PaleoHacks Podcast

I had a blast recently as a guest with PaleoHacks podcast host Clark Danger on the PaleoHacks podcast. We covered a whole lot of ground in our time talking, but a consistent theme was the day to day business of keeping a paleo-leaning lifestyle chugging along in step with family life.

Monday, December 2, 2013

How to Set Up a "Drive-Thru" Paleo-Leaning Christmas Cookie Exchange

Hominahominahomina... :)
Yesterday, I tweeted:
...and this is true! It takes a lot of time and resources to come up with new recipes, especially analogs of popular holiday treats. Of course, I couldn't blog treats that I hadn't tasted and re-tasted...but that often results in me indulging a little too much. I would rather focus on keeping my diet reasonable for the next three weeks through all of the holiday school events, shopping, wrapping, and other holiday errands.

This year I am taking the hard work out of paleo-fied treats and doing what I did last year: organizing a "drive-thru" "paleo-ish" cookie exchange with friends at my CrossFit box. I thought I'd blog a bit about how we organize this event so that if you desired, you could create your own version.

Here's the short version of how to sketch out your cookie exchange invite:

  1. Who are your bakers? (In my case, mainly CrossFit friends)
  2. What are your baking parameters? Classic paleo? Primal (paleo + dairy)? Or, the loosey-goosey "paleo-ish"? Whatever they are, pick parameters that fit your group of bakers. The looser the rules, the larger your group of willing participants is likely to be. In our case, we defined "paleo-ish" as anything without wheat, soybean oil, or canola oil. Even so, almost all of our recipes qualified as primal, many as classic paleo, perhaps with the addition of sugar.
  3. What are your dropoff/pickup dates? We made our exchange "drive-thru" because it took a lot of the pressure of making room for one more holiday party off of people's minds...all they had to determine was whether they could bake cookies, drop them off, and pick them up. In our case this year, folks can drop off on Wednseday night (December 18th) through Thursday morning (December 19th), and pick up Thursday night through Friday (December 20th).
  4. How many bakers are attending? You'll need to set an early RSVP date, because the number of cookies everyone brings is determined by the total number of participants.
Get your invitation going - send it to your bakers with the baking parameters, dropoff/pickup dates, and an RSVP date.

Once your bakers have RSVP'ed, here are your next considerations:
  1. How many cookies shall each participant bring? In our exchange, we shot for about half a dozen of each kind per person. (Remember that everyone will be bringing those delicious cookies home to families, so 6 cookies of one kind is not outlandish when you consider it may mean everybody gets to try one of each kind!) It is wise to overshoot just a bit. For example, if you have 10 people exchanging, instead of having everyone bring 5 dozen, assign everybody coming to bring 6 or more dozen. This way the overall number of cookies won't plummet because of the inevitable handful of participants who are bound to drop out from illness or unforeseen circumstances.
  2. What type of cookies are they bringing? Leave a spot on your invite (in our case we use Facebook invites with posts) asking for folks to post a comment identifying what types of treats they are bringing. This is a good way to avoid ending up with 11 variations of one kind of cookie.
  3. Ask that those with illness excuse themselves from the event. You signed up to exchange cookies, not germs. Ask that all participants bow out of baking/distributing cookies if feeling under the weather (or in a house with sick folks) to minimize the spread of germs. You can also promise sick folks that some extra cookies will go into boxes brought to them so they don't miss out.
  4. Find an inexpensive source of packaging. In my case, last year, I bought very large holiday gift boxes - the kind to package shirts or jackets, for 2/$1 at the dollar store. I picked up enough boxes for the participants and simply asked that all those bringing cookies to also bring a couple of quarters to leave with their dropped off cookies. I also lined the boxes with sheets of wax paper before we distributed the cookies.
  5. Ask for elves to come help organize the goods. In our case, after the Thursday morning cookie dropoffs end, the elves (aka volunteers) show up and help distribute the cookies into assortments between boxes. You'll probably end up with more volunteers than you'd expect! Good chance for quality control - after distributing the cookies into boxes, the elves can sample the wares a little bit and enjoy some festive drinks if desired. In our case, it took less than an hour to get the cookies organized.
  6. Leave the boxes available for pickup, and go home with your own box and enjoy those cookies!
My recipe for these sun butter buckeyes that I brought last year can be seen here.

Do you have plans for a paleo-leaning Christmas cookie exchange this year?
What are those plans looking like so far?


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lunchbox #195

Here is an example of one of my younger daughter's lunches. Here you see:
  • Organic pumpkin puree
  • Sliced papaya
  • Cooked grassfed local ground beef in larger meatball-y chunks
  • White rice (our "safe starch"), which was cooked alongside the beef (I like cooking them together in the same pan because then the rice absorbs the grassfed beef fat that adds needed calories to my littlest's meals!)
For more recent coverage on how we tinker with my youngest's diet to support her behavior and developmental gains, read here


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Making Room for Protein, Economically and Logistically

A lot of my active friends have talked to me about having trouble getting adequate amounts of protein in their diets. Boy, I can relate! Since I try and get around 130+ grams of protein in my daily diet to sustain my body's lean mass, I have often found myself realizing at the end of the day that I'm only about halfway to my target. Here are some ways that help to keep my protein intake easier to maintain.

Familiarity with Protein Quantity/Serving Sizes

Although tracking food by food logging is not for everyone, I find that the more I track (I use, the better I am at estimating my protein intake and pacing it well throughout the day. I'm less apt to get to 6 pm and realize I've under-eaten my protein for the day if my brain is "current" on how much protein is in the servings I eat regularly.

One of my favorite indulgent "zero prep" high protein meals: smoked salmon, sprinkled with dill. Kimchi on the side!

Pacing Protein Throughout the Day

One thing that I have found useful is to break up my protein requirements into chunks and to have a running list of options in my head. As an example, I usually try to shoot for at least 30 grams of protein per meal, though this often goes higher on high activity days or just after a hard workout. Overall, though, 30 is my "magic number" because it is a doable quantity of food that I can easily estimate.

What are some examples of about 30 grams of protein? Here are some of my top choices. As you can see, I still try to economize even while selecting higher quality proteins.
  • 4 large eggs (28g) - We get organic eggs for $3.99 at our warehouse club, BJ's
  • 3 small organic chicken drumsticks (30g) - We buy these at $1.99/lb. at Wegmans or Trader Joe's
  • 4 oz. Wild Planet tuna (32g) - We buy this at BJ's because of the unbeatable price there, less than $4 per double-sized can
  • 8 slices of Citterio prosciutto (28g) - Ingredients: pork, salt. That's it! We've also found our best price for this locally at BJ's, $8.99/lb.
  • 4 oz. of steak (28g) - We buy grassfed beef in bulk from our local farmers at around $3/lb.
Higher Protein Snacks

Higher protein snacks aren't just useful in terms of me reaching my target intake; they keep me fuller, for longer, and help to combat cravings. Since I get at least 30g of protein with most of my meals, my 1-2 snacks a day typically make up another 30-40g total. Here are some snack ideas I've relied on lately to round out my protein intake for the day:
  • Full fat greek yogurt, 1 cup mixed with a dash of stevia and frozen berries (20g)
  • Nut butters, protein content depends on nut (around 2-4 g/tablespoon), delicious mixed with leftover chicken and seasoning for a Thai-inspired chicken salad
  • Boiled eggs (7g per egg), I find them delicious straight up or with salt
  • Chia seeds (2g per tablespoon, good in combo with other high protein items)
  • Bacon (2g/slice of the type I buy), very portable once cooked
  • Smoked salmon, this is my "L'Oreal" protein that I buy maybe once a month for a very special treat. The best price I've found on no-iffy-additives Atlantic salmon is (you guessed it!) at BJ's, around $16-17/lb.
  • Beans (Yes, not classically paleo, at $0.99/can for organic certified gluten free ones at Wegmans, we do eat them on occasion, at 14-20g protein/cup. For more on the concept of "paleo + legumes" check out these legume blog posts by ancestral health leaders Stephan Guynet and Chris Kresser.) 
Creating Your Customized "No Excuses" Options

Nothing can kill good intentions faster than opening my fridge and having nothing there ready to go when I'm already "hangry". Having ready-to-go options that work for me personally means I can't rely on "there's nothing to eat" excuses. Here are my fallback strategies:
  • Ready-to-eat pantry protein. Jerkies, canned tuna, nut butters.
  • Boiled eggs. They aren't über-gourmet but they've bridged many a gap for me between mealtimes.
  • Cooking WODs. Cooking as much as possible in one go. It is not uncommon for me to dedicate the better part of my Sunday afternoon to cooking up a huge quantity of animal protein in the oven or crock pot so that I can start my week with a fridge full of leftover protein.
  • Protein powder. I began playing with protein powder a little bit throughout August. I was pleasantly surprised by how my body handled Plant Fusion, enough that for a few weeks became my pre-hot-yoga protein of choice in combination with a banana, because the protein/carbs combo kept me fueled and chugging along through my 90 minute hot yoga classes without the digestion-intensive heavy stomach feeling that having, say, a steak beforehand would produce instead. (Still, I generally prioritize whole food proteins over protein powders whenever it seems workable.)
My ultimate "no excuse" home protein fix when the above aren't options is to microwave broth (I can hear purists out there wailing in despair) until piping hot, then pour 3-4 raw scrambled eggs into the broth while stirring. The eggs cook on contact with the broth, making egg drop soup, and I can get in almost a whole meal's worth of protein on the go, even putting it in a travel mug if I need to.


What strategies do you use to make sure that you're getting enough protein to fuel your active lifestyle?


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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Final Tally, Whole Life Challenge Ends

If you've followed my recent posts, you know that I spent the last 8 weeks participating with my CrossFit box in the Whole Life Challenge. If you want to read all three parts, here they are:
Today we had our final workout to measure performance gains during the Whole Life Challenge - the final day of comparing our "before/after" stats as improved over 8 weeks. Here are mine:
  • My score for the WLC-recommended 11 minute performance baseline workout increased by 10.9%, a respectable gain in speed and reps.
  • According to the measurements of our nutrition coach, I lost 4" off my waist and 1" off my hips.
  • My score for compliance with WLC guidelines was also high, averaging somewhere around 10.6/11 points available daily. (Points were added up based on nutrition, working out, mobility, supplementation, and other lifestyle factors like sleep and hydration.)
Based on these three variables, I was declared the overall winner of our box's event! I was stunned to see how much sleeker and more athletic my fellow participants were looking today after their 8 weeks of hard work.

According to the WLC workout, my performance improved nicely. The rest of the story behind my weight loss progress comes when paying a closer attention to how I organized my food intake (while still eating foods permitted by my chosen level of difficulty - intermediate - in the WLC).

I ate according to Eat to Perform principles. I ate according to caloric needs for my build, my lean body mass, and my activity levels. On more active days, I ate more calories. In anticipation of hard workouts first thing in the morning, I front loaded lots of whole food carbs. What does this look like in practice, for me, a 176 lb. female whose lean body mass varies between about 125 and 139 lb?
Definitely not starving.
Watch the carb grams over time!
(Numbers are estimated only for
my own ballparking, and not definitive.)
  • I tried to keep my protein around 130 g/day or higher on average.
  • Higher activity days (say, CrossFit WOD and hot yoga on one day) saw carb intakes over 200+ g/day. Read Halfway Point: Whole Life Challenge + Eat to Perform Principles for details on the types and quantities of carbs I was cycling in, in general.
  • Low activity days saw much lower carb intake, with fats stepping in as the preferred fuel over carbs.
  • My calorie intake generally ranged from 1800 - 3000 calories per day, depending on activity levels. 
I went from 185 lb. to 176.2 lb. (8.8 lb. loss) in 8 weeks, a modest average weight loss pace of 1.1 lb./week. How do I perceive that this was a productive (i.e., not lean mass decline) weight loss? I have several indicators. The first is my performance gains. Here are the performance gains I experienced in the last 8 weeks of doing the Whole Life Challenge with Eat to Perform principles:
  • As mentioned above, my score for the WLC-recommended 11 minute performance baseline workout increased by 10.9%, a respectable gain in speed and reps.
  • I reached a deadlift 1 rep max personal record of 280 lb., a 25 lb. gain over my last deadlift PR of 255.
  • I reached a deadlift 3 rep "tap and go" max personal record of 245 lb.
  • I achieved my first toes to bar EVER during the challenge, and within days begun to learn stringing them together.
  • A 112# atlas stone lift - which I have only done one other time once, a year ago, before a back injury that had me on temporary CrossFit hiatus. Along with the deadlift PR, this signifies to me a return to my original strength (only now leaner!).
  • Did "Diane" (a benchmark CrossFit workout) with 185 lb. deadlifts - the prescribed weight for women.
  • Got my first freestanding headstand in yoga, and a few half second crow poses.
  • Maintained a 3 minute, 15 second plank in hot yoga during our instructor's "plank challenge". Her challenge included permission to shift back and forth from forearms to palms, so it wasn't a static plank, but it represents to me a huge increase in core strength overall.
The second indicator that I have of a decent (fat-loss-dominated) weight loss is I have gotten smaller as a side effect of concentrating on performance.
  • I've lost inches all over my body.
  • I received nearly daily comments from different fellow CrossFitters - especially toward the end of the challenge - about me looking leaner.
  • For the first time in seven and a half years, toward the end of the challenge, I found myself able to wear pants that I have not worn since when I became pregnant with my oldest daughter in 2006. Some moms get into their prepregnancy jeans inside of a few weeks postpartum. I joke that my 7.5 years postpartum jeans timeline is "above average".
Interestingly, the same pants I wore prekids at 159 lb., I can fit into at 176 lb. That speaks volumes to me about the difference between muscle and fat that I carried then and now. I am definitely in the best shape of my life - way better at 30 than in my teens or 20s. CrossFit and paleo-style eating have now taken me from near 220 lb. (and over 40% body fat) to mid-20s percentage body fat at 176 lb. I can't think of any other way I would have managed to achieve that kind of lifestyle/physique overhaul other than by eating clean, lifting heavy, calisthenics, and interval training!

I can say that I am a wholehearted convert to the calorie/carb cycling model set forth by Eat to Perform. It agrees with my physiology and activity levels, and I fully intend to continue using the same model in the future.

My next task is having my body fat assessed by our nutrition challenge coordinator, to see if I met my goal of reducing my body fat percentage to 24%. I can't wait to find out!


Are you doing any nutrition challenges or tinkering this fall? What strategies have produced the best results for you?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halfway Point, Whole Life Challenge + Eat to Perform Principles

Later this week, I'll pass the halfway point of the 8 week long Whole Life Challenge. In my pre-challenge post, I talked about the ways I'd be performance/biohacking in order to work smarter this time around to maximize my results with minimal sense of restriction.

With the exception of my husband and I binge-watching Breaking Bad (and thus losing some sleep) these last couple of weeks, my strategies so far have been pretty well executed. Last week I joined some ladies for a one hour hike through a local state park. I am Crossfitting 3-4 times per week and hot yoga-ing 3-4 times per week.

I am also eating crazy amounts of food. Way, way more carbs than I've ever eaten in previous challenges. Favoring starchy carbs over fruit because of their superiority as a muscle-building option. The nights before heavy training days (lots of weights, or maybe a CrossFit WOD and a hot yoga class on the same day), I carb up.

What has that night-before carbing-up looked like? Well, one night recently, I knew we were doing deadlift one rep maxes the next morning. I had just done an 8 p.m. hot yoga class. Whereas I'd normally have eaten little or nothing between then and the next morning, I ate some chicken and TWO entire sweet potatoes. And...I hit a new PR at 280 lb. of my deadlift! My previous 1 rep PR was 255, so it not only was a PR, it was a big one. Suddenly a 300 lb. deadlift does not seem out of the realm of possibility. Another carbing-up night I mixed cooked buckwheat groats (these are allowed at the level I've chosen on the WLC) with egg whites, water, a banana, and 4 chopped dates. CARB CRAZY. But I set a new 3 rep tap'n'go max for my deadlift, at 245 lb. x 3!

One day's worth of carbs. (Kidding!)
The whole time I have been tracking and logging my food, making sure my protein is adequate, and that my carbs are suitably high depending on my level of activity. If I am on a rest day with no workout the next day, as per Eat to Perform's suggestions, I go much lower carb, relying heavily on protein and fat for my fuel. If I do work out the next day, then I stay low carb all day long on the rest day, until evening, when I carb up in preparation for my 6 a.m. WOD.

I am targeting 130-150 g of protein every day on average. My carbs start around 100g/day, and on calorie spike/"carb up" days, my carbs can go as high as 200+g, all from whole, gluten free foods that are permitted on my WLC level. My calories range from 1600 to 3000 daily, depending on activity levels.
Prosciutto chips with half a sweet potato,
mashed. That's how my snacks are rolling

I recently weighed myself. I am officially down 6 lb. from the start of the challenge. At 4 weeks in, 6 lb. down, and setting PRs while holding decent metcon performances, I am thrilled with my progress...and can't  truly believe that I'm making that kind of progress while still eating the amount of carbs I'm eating! Not only that, I can really see some differences -- our hot yoga class room has wall-to-wall mirrors, and sometimes while holding a pose I notice a muscle pop out that I have never in my life observed on myself! It doesn't mean I still don't have trouble spots where I'd like to lose more body fat, but I am excited to see new definition in my arms, shoulders, and thighs that has never been there before.

This is a fellow challenger's supplies brought
to her hotel so that she could stay on track!
What perseverance! MY HERO!
Just as exciting for me is observing my fellow challengers' progress. Some challengers are not rookies, but instead are taking great strides to keep themselves on track while travelling, shuttling kids to soccer games, and just tackling life in general. Others are dialing in their nutrition seriously for the first time ever, and are making new connections every day as to how their food intake and quality impacts their performances, their waistlines, and their energy levels. So fun seeing their epiphanies lock into place! I cannot wait to see the unveiling of the winner...there are definitely a few frontrunners who have made dazzling progress in the first 4 weeks alone, and I celebrate what they could continue to do in the second half of the challenge!

Have you ever experimented with upping your carbs and calories in a bid to rev your metabolism, boost performance, and improve body composition? What was your experience like?


Monday, September 23, 2013

Lunchbox #194

Today, my first-grader's lunch featured (clockwise):
  • Organic grapes
  • A Clementine
  • Mixed fresh veggies with homemade paleo ranch for dipping
  • A single serve pouch of guacamole
  • A prosciutto egg cup with peas baked in.

My first grader is suddenly particular about not enjoying the texture of baked egg yolks, so I kept the yolk out of her egg cup here...but what she does not know is that the paleo ranch she enjoys so much has egg yolk! ;-)

The great thing about the egg cups is that they are very versatile for quick meal solutions. I had three myself this morning for my breakfast!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lunchbox #193

Back to the grind! Here is one of my 6 year old's recent lunches. She has (clockwise from upper left):
  • Leftover organic pork ribs, sliced off the bone into bites
  • Organic baby carrots
  • A leftover slow roasted organic sweet potato cold from the fridge
  • A Wholly Guacamole single-serve pack
  • A square of dark chocolate
  • An organic apple


Monday, September 2, 2013

Portrait of a Nutrition Nerd: Preparing for the Whole Life Challenge

As part of my CrossFit box community, I am participating in the 2013 Whole Life Challenge. This challenge is a nationwide challenge spanning 8 weeks, starting on September 7. It is paleo-friendly but not 100% paleo; for example, only the highest level of the challenge excludes grains entirely. I have chosen the intermediate level of the challenge.

This makes nutrition challenge number seven that I have done with my CrossFit box. While I did have a large chunk of the last year taken up with recovering from a tweaked back (including a 3 month hiatus from CrossFit last winter), I still find myself frustrated that I have never been able to bust below a certain body fat percentage/weight; twice in the last year I have come into the mid-180s and 27% body fat. It results in an uncomfortable dynamic where I can go from feeling majestically strong (say, on a day a couple of weeks ago when I set some nice personal lifting records) to seeing a picture taken of me on vacation from an unflattering angle and feeling simmering frustration at my body composition inertia all over again. To be clear, 27% body fat is "average" for younger women. My hope is to reach the "fitness" category by the end of the challenge, which I believe is a sane and reachable goal.

Besides the frustration over body composition humps, I still have many CrossFit elements that seem to remain just outside my reach: handstand pushups, a single dead hang pullup, toes-to-bar, and double unders. I am already fairly strong, but I am hoping that dropping more body fat would make many of these easier to master.

I hope that this 8 weeks will be a sustained enough period of nose-to-grindstone to really help me bust past that plateau. (To be clear, I'm not planning on going from Cheetos-and-Oreos to 8 weeks of clean eating back to Cheetos-and-Oreos...I just appreciate the extra focus and accountability that 8 weeks with also-striving friends will provide.) However, I think that instead of doing the traditional "balls to the wall" of eating less, exercising more, restricting food groups more, I hope to avoid burnout by going all nutrition nerd on myself.

Yup, I'm going another level into hacking my food intake and exercise.

I'm going to take a customized multi-pronged approach. Here's my plan:

More Rest and Recovery
  • Earlier bedtimes, less time online. I've made a semiserious pact with my friends that if we catch each other on Facebook past a certain time at night, we get to post Rick Astley on each other's timelines.
  • Strategic CrossFitting. I'm going to take a step back from my 4-5 WODs a week pace. Instead, I'll probably go 3-4 times per week, and fill in the other time with different kinds of exercise, mobility work, or sleep.
  • Mobility work. I'll keep up my routine of hot yoga, which has proven integral to my back's recovery and increasing my shoulder strength and mobility.
  • Naps. If I get my 3 year old to nap, I'll be napping!
More Low-Level Non-Intense Activity
  • More autumn sunshine. Playground trips. Discovering more local trails and parks.
  • More low level exercise. Going for casual runs and longer walks. Swimming every now and then. 
Eating to Perform
Here's a screenshot from my
FatSecret logs earlier this summer.
  • Intentional fueling. I've been soaking up a lot of Paul Nobles, Jr.'s Eat to Perform lately. One startlingly logical central premise is that fueling exercise conscientiously naturally leads to better performance and improved body composition simultaneously.
  • Number crunching. ETP's calculator has a lot to offer folks who want a clearer baseline for fueling requirements. It uses total body mass OR lean body mass, activity levels, and other factors to offer up potential templates for how to fuel.
  • Keeping protein high. I carry somewhere between 135 and 140 lb. of lean body mass, and to sustain that muscle (and stay strong), I need to eat a whole. lot. of. protein. The ETP calculator suggested around 137 g/day. This is consistent with recent research that shows that at least double current recommended daily allowances of protein intake are necessary to retain muscle mass when trying to lose fat. In any case, my meals and snacks will be protein-centered.
  • Not fearing carbs. I have a storied history with carbs. However, when I'm at top activity levels of CrossFitting, doing some hot yoga, and even throwing in a modest run in a week's timeframe, carbs are essential to recovery and rebuilding. I'll be keeping carbs in rotation conscientiously as part of my workout fuel.
  • Calorie/carb cycling. Higher activity level days (sometimes I even two-a-day with CrossFit and a 90 minute hot yoga class) I will be shooting for more calories and carbs, and low activity level days (like my rest days) will have much lower intake of both.
  • Documenting. I dislike food logging and usually find it tedious, but in honesty it is super effective for me, so I'll willingly trade the annoyance for the results I desire. I use as my food logging resource because I enjoy the web interface compared with other logging resources - and because it has a decent smartphone app. With FatSecret I can input my meals and snacks and get a quick summary of my fat, protein, and carbs intake, particularly paying attention to protein and carb intake around my workouts. I also believe that doing this will also lock in some automatic sense of what a decent post-workout meal looks like.
I am hoping that taking exercise and food intake will propel me over my hump and find me on the other side a few fat percentage points less when the 8 weeks are up!

What are you planning to challenge yourself this autumn?


Craving Lunchboxes and Routine: Two Girls, Two Schools, Two Lunchbox Philosophies

School starts both for of my girls in our house this week. I am so (ahem) looking forward to getting into a routine again...summer's vacations and trips kept us on our toes! I eagerly anticipate the rhythm of dropoffs and pickups, running errands, grocery shopping, therapy sessions for my youngest, and soccer practice and games for my oldest.

As we get ready for school days, I will be resuming my old habit of photographing some of my girls' lunchboxes for a glimpse into our household's lunch-packing routines. For my 6 year old daughter, who is neurotypical, you'll see a lot of those very familiar classically "lacto-paleo" aka "primal" lunchboxes. Meats, eggs, veggies, fruit, and full fat dairy. Since her cafeteria is nut free, her lunchboxes won't have nuts involved, but there will probably be some seeds and sunflower seed butter instead.

[Grand Grocery Co.], Lincoln, Neb.  (LOC)
Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
For my 3 year old daughter, who has sensory processing disorder and a speech delay, you'll see our "work in progress" lunches. We suspect that she has a salicylate sensitivity, because of the way she reacts to high salicylate foods -- and ironically many paleo staples like coconut, almond, and avocado are very high in salicylates. (We have discussed this possibility with the board certified MDs who oversee her care, and are further exploring the possibilities tied to that. We have also not yet ruled out parallel/similar possibilities like FODMAPS intolerance.) So although she is gluten free and dairy free, she is not classically paleo, and her lunches will be a reflection of that. You'll see lunches that depend heavily on animal fats, protein, and offal for calories, alongside with low salicylate fruits, vegetables, and select gluten free grains that do not seem to negatively impact her development the same way that high salicylate foods do.

What we pack for our girls' lunches likely is not precisely what you need for your own household's lunch; every lunch eater's nutritional needs will differ! However, I hope that posting our lunch pictures may still give you some inspiration when pulling together lunches of your own as you pick and chose ideas that you enjoy.

What is on your shopping list this year for packing school lunchboxes as your routines gain momentum?


Monday, July 15, 2013

Road Trip Paleo Finger Food: Prosciutto-Wrapped Sugar Snap Peas

This is my new favorite finger food, snack food, lunch food, whatever! They would make an especially great summertime hors d'ouevre, because of the portability, snackability, and the way the cold, sweet, crunchy snap peas are enveloped by a layer of salty porky prosciutto goodness. I will definitely be making these for our upcoming road trip; talk about an easy low carb snack food that we all enjoy!

My two young daughters are also keen on these; the whole plate of snap peas was cleaned out about 5 minuter after I photographed them. It is a great dish for kid-friendly assembly, so have your little ones join in the fun of wrapping the snap peas! Don't worry about perfection - you can wrap the peas with a little or a lot of prosciutto, and you can even wrap more than one snap pea in a little bundle!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Sugar Snap Peas
Makes up to 96

At least 96 sugar snap peas
1 lb. (32 thin slices) of prosciutto

Tear 1/3 off of a slice of prosciutto, and wrap it around a single snap pea. The prosciutto will "seal" on itself if these are wrapped snugly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Blur of a Summer Hurtling Toward Road Trip Planning: Paleo Nonperishable Snack Ideas

Greetings, fellow summertimers!

It is my first summer after a full public school year; my oldest daughter wrapped up kindergarten last month, and ever since then, we've found ourselves in a strong undertow of summer scheduling. Summer means many things:
  • Swim lessons for both girls, speech therapy, and occupational therapy soaking up much of the mornings
  • Dependably long, solid naptimes (wahoo! so I usually get to nap, too!)
  • More time outdoors in general, especially in our back yard and garden
  • Grilling
  • 8:30 pm bedtimes for our girls owing to the later sunsets
  • Me trying to squeeze hot yoga and CrossFit in around the margins of such packed days
I guess it should be little wonder that I've found myself thinking in circles, drafting blog posts in the back of my head, but seeming to never sit down and lay out what has been rocking our world lately.

One thing that galvanized my meandering thoughts into sharp focus today, though, was a long road trip that we have on the horizon. Though it is weeks away, planning road trip sustenance can never happen too early - especially when one of your trippers is a 3 year old with major food sensitivity issues. (For those of you just joining us, we are currently experimenting with my sensory daughter's diet, and right now are combining a gluten free casein free approach with low salicylate content.) We have a hotel stay involved, so I was trying to figure out ways to prepare our own food in the hotel room. Hotel-provided breakfasts are notoriously carby and gluten-y, so by now I have learned not to depend on any hotel/restaurant when feeding my food-sensitive daughter while travelling. One genius suggestion from Twitter pointed me in the direction of an inexpensive single burner hot plate, which I ordered and received last week from Amazon. Hooray for our first go at frying breakfast eggs in the comfort of our hotel room!


While visiting my folks today, we stopped by the Trader Joe's in their town. I love Trader Joe's. I joke that it is probably for the best that we do not have a TJ's in our own town...other wise I'd be that much poorer for it!

We bought some of our Trader Joes' favorites, like their inexpensive organic free range chicken drumsticks and uncured bacon ends. We also bought some cashews, beef jerky, wild salmon jerky, and other unsweetened dried fruits. I plan on saving most of these nonperishables for our road trip.

You'll also notice the 1 lb. of smoked wild salmon peeking out. This is no everyday treat; I turn 30 this week.
Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeee. :)

I'm stowing our road trip nonperishables in a
Sterilite container to keep them from getting
"accidentally" consumed by browsing snackers
in the time leading up to the trip.
As I said, a lot of forethought is going into the road trip menu.

  • My 3 year old will need lots of low-salicylate options that are free of gluten and dairy. For us this means starting with a paleo template and customizing.
    Food sensitivity appropriate nonperishables for her: Jerkies (beef, salmon, bacon), organic rice crackers.
  • For my 6 year old, I will prepack lots of little snacks to hand back as necessary. Kid-friendly nonperishable ideas for her include: Jerkies, snack size bags with homemade fruit-and-nut trail mixes, Mariani granola bars (They are honey, fruit, and nuts, love'em for her! We get them at Wal-Mart.), and sunbutter or canned tuna in olive oil with organic rice crackers.
  • For me, my usual 3-4 weekly yoga classes and 3-5 weekly CrossFit classes will not be an option. I'll be going from highly active to fairly sedentary on this trip, so I must dial my carb intake way down in order to compensate for the reduced activity levels. My road trip munchies will therefore be by and large low carb to control cravings and manage hunger hormones.
    Low carb nonperishables for me: Jerkies, cashews, homemade spiced nut mix, jarred kalamata olives, coconut cream concentrate, coconut milk (often in coffee), 99-100% cacao chocolate, canned tuna.
My husband does not have any particular needs, so he will be eating from among all of our nonperishables.

Nonperishables aren't going to be our only packed food; we'll also be packing a huge cooler full of various meats, eggs, fruits, and veggies for us all when the time comes. But, you can bet that when I'm starting to throw things into that cooler, I'll be glad that I'd already mostly packed the nonperishables way ahead of time!


How are you managing travel with your dietary needs this summer? Have you stumbled across any great ideas for keeping your diet grounded in an endless sea of processed food options?


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Friday, May 24, 2013

Paleo Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding

I just came off a three week CrossFit nutrition challenge. One of the things that convicted me this time around was how often I add a dash of something here or there to sweeten; actively adding sweeteners was verbotten in this last challenge.

So, coasting off the end of the challenge today, I had the, "OK, what now?" When off-roading, what is really worth it? The answer jumped out at me from the produce section today.


Rhubarb is only here for two or three weeks in earnest, and then it's gone. I adore the love-it-or-hate-it sour taste, but of course rhubarb typically needs a little something sweet added to take of the incredible edge of its sourness.

In recipes of yore a cup or white sugar would have been added to a couple of stalks of rubarb. Today, though, my taste buds had been weaned off added sweetness so much that a quarter cup of maple syrup was just enough to create the perfect off-roading spring pudding.

Paleo Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding
Serves 5-6, depending on the size of your ramekins

2 stalks fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2" chunks
10 oz. frozen organic strawberries (fresh could work, too!)
1/2 pear, cut into 1/2" chunks
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1/4 c arrowroot starch

In a small pot on medium heat, combine and stir together the rhubarb, the strawberries, the pear, the maple syrup, the vanilla, and the salt. Stir occasionally and allow the mix to get hot - 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, as the fruit compote is heating, use a mini food processor or immersion blender to blend together the egg yolks, the egg, and the arrowroot starch until smooth.

Temper the egg/starch mix: Gradually spoon liquid from the hot compote on the stove into the egg/starch mix, using the other hand to stir continuously. You will do this with approximately 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of liquid being added from the compote to the egg/starch mix. This allows the egg/starch mix's temperature to rise sufficiently slowly that the eggs don't cook. Once several large spoonfuls of hot compote liquid have been stirred continuously into the egg-starch mix, slowly pour the mix back into the compote on the stove, using a large spoon to stir continuously for about 4 minutes. As the pudding thickens, it will cling to the sides of the pot more readily during this process.

Pour the hot thickened pudding into each ramekin. Serve warm, chilled, or chill the entire batch and add to an electronic churn ice cream maker for fun to see what results!


What's your favorite way to enjoy rhubarb this time of year?


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Refreshing “Un-salad Salad” Lunches for Hot Weather - A Guest Post for The Balanced Platter

I was delighted to write a guest post for The Balanced Platter that was published this week!

My topic was lunch salads that can be packed ahead of time without wilting by lunchtime. The secret is choosing heartier vegetable bases.

The below is a sneak peak, but click on over to The Balanced Platter to read the full post for mix and match options that add up to 9 different pack-ahead "un-salad" combinations!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Estimating Needed Freezer Space, and Buying A Whole (Smallish) Grassfed Cow, In Pictures


Today our family picked up its first whole grassfed cow. Before, we had bought half grassfed cows from a couple of different local farmers. We knew that we were in for a lot more beef than we had ever bought, so we added another chest freezer to our family's setup in the garage.

Before our family made the move toward increasingly depending on local bulk purchases of meat, I was always at a loss for knowing how much beef would be involved, how much freezer space we'd need to have,  and whether we could handle the commitment. I used to be rather annoyed when I could never seem to get a straight answer from people who had bought bulk in the past...but now I know why! There are so many factors, it is hard to pin the experience down.

Example: How many pounds of meat can I expect in my grassfed beef purchase?


2011 (Half cow, Farmer A): 198 lb. dry hanging weight
2012 (Half cow, Farmer B): 498 lb. dry hanging weight
2013 (Whole cow, Farmer B): 660 lb. dry hanging weight

Do you see what happened there? The cow sizes varied not only between Farmers A and B, but also between how much beef we committed to buy from Farmer B. Farmer B was straightforward about the fact that his smallest cows at slaughter go to his whole cow purchasers, to avoid the whole cow families having the sticker shock of buying, say, one of his 1000 lb. dry hanging weight cows. (Even at an inexpensive price of $3/lb. that comes to $3,000! ...whereas by comparison the smaller-side cow he designated for our whole cow purchase - at 660 lb - came to $1980, kill fee and butchering fee included in that number.)

What I can visually quantify for curious would-be local beef buyers, though, is how much space is required for certain amounts of meat. For example, we own an older Hyundai Santa Fe. 660 lb. of frozen beef took up the entire back. You can see two large knee-high Sterilite containers (blue and grey) containing just a small amount of the beef.

In other words our emptied trunk is capable of transporting a small whole grassfed cow (660 lb. shown here), or half a very large grassfed cow (498 lb. in the past)...that's with the back seats still installed.
I can also give visuals on the rough proportion of cuts we got from our 660 lb. this time around. It is worth noting that my husband specifically requested that the butcher cut our beef to maximize grill-ability. (We do lurv ourselves some grilling in this family!) That means that cuts that might have been roasts (like chuck roasts) were instead cut as chuck steaks and cube steaks.

I used smaller Sterilite containers to divvy up some of the meats on our driveway. This way my girls could take 1 lb. packs of frozen ground beef from the designated "ground beef bin" to their daddy standing by the freezer in the garage...while I sorted the cuts.

 Below you'll see the cuts in a shallow (6" deep, roughly 2' by 3') Sterilite container. This is to give you an informal idea of the quantity of cuts that comes from a 660 lb. purchase. These are rough estimates only...even after taking the shots of the cuts I'd discover an extra of the same cut here or there somewhere else, so there is an estimation margin of error.

These are shown in a large knee-high depth Sterilite container.

This one's an exception...the T-Bones shown were in
a smaller Sterilite container that would hold a couple of shoeboxes side by side.

One last photo. This shows how much freezer space we required for 660 lb. You'll notice that we got A WHOLE LOT of ground beef in the deal. Our top freezer on our refrigerator is completely full of ground beef. Our chest freezer also had some ground beef in it, along with other cuts.

This is where I can give the good "rule of thumb" estimation I always give friends who are curious about freezer space requirements for bulk purchases.
  • One refrigerator freezer can store roughly 100 lb. of meat...if it's "neatly contained" (like the blocks of ground beef shown here). More irregularly-shaped cuts may mean less storage efficiency.
  • One modest waist-high chest freezer (as shown here) can hold roughly 200 lb. of meat.
  • One modest double-wide chest freezer (as shown here) can hold roughly 400 lb. of meat.
That adds up to 700 lb. capacity, but since we had a few items (like leftover bones from our last bulk purchase) still in the freezers, that largely fits with the notion of 660 lb. of meat.

The best way to determine, then, if you have enough freezer space, is to ask your farmer before committing to a quarter, half, or whole cow is whether he/she might be able to predict the final dry hanging weight of your committed purchase. Then, eyeball your existing freezer space and use the rules of thumb above to see if you're in the ballpark.

In our case, we knew we'd need more freezer space, and we managed to pay $125 for the used double chest freezer shown on the right through a Craigslist connection. It was a very worthwhile addition to the garage setup!

Are you planning any bulk beef or other bulk meat purchases from your local farmers this spring? Have you figured out your freezer space needs for the purchase?

EDIT TO ADD: Jan of Jan's Sushi Bar posted this link in the comments on how much "eating meat" one can expect from beef purchases. I think it is another great measuring stick for assessing your potential purchases. THANKS, Jan!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Update: GAPS, Unorthodox Tweaks, and New Theories on Salicylate Sensitivity

My 3 year old daughter had a good month. OK, a really good month. The thing about having a special needs kid, is that needed core resources can often be inaccessible due to insurance, geography, or other heartbreaking complications. Or, the pendulum can find itself on the other end of the spectrum, where everybody is selling something to help, and the bewildered parent tries to figure out what is or isn't covered by insurance, and what offerings seem most promising.

In our house we have parades for celebration-worthy poops.
(Via Flickr Creative Commons.)
In the second case, it's not uncommon for a kid to make developmental or other leaps, and the parents find themselves not able to precisely determine the causes for success...because this isn't a double blind single variable/control random trial with lab rats; this is your one and only precious child, for whom you will spare little effort or expense in the hopes of progress. That is, you can have several contributing factors at once, and it can be hard to pin successes on any one factor.

In our case, we have connected in recent months with a board certified pediatrician who is known in our area for specializing with special needs kids and gut health. There are many things she is trying with our daughter, including some targeted supplementation after an initial lab determining nutrient status. Most notably, though, she characterized the GAPS diet as a, "good starting point". She noted that my daughter's ongoing issues with soft, mushy poop signaled that yeast could still be a problem, and asked us to cut way back on fruit. Although fruit is GAPS-legal, I think it is easy to overdo, at least in our case, because it is so portable and fast. Our daughter was eating 3 or 4 pieces in a day at the time. The doctor also recommended introducing a small handful of ancient gluten free grains, to see how they were tolerated.

GRAINS?! The part of me that was so committed and knowledgeable about how GAPS is supposed to proceed was fairly panicky at the thought. GAPS is supposed to heal the gut, and then much longer down the road, include nongluten grains once the gut was stabilized.

But, I had been feeling desperate to try something different. Mushy poop is not exactly an asset for a kid you'd hope to daytime potty train before her preschool potty training deadline arrives this fall. We started to follow the doctor's prescribed guidelines. While quinoa did not seem to settle so well, buckwheat seemed to agree with her very well, so she was getting very small servings of it as a carb source. Occasionally small amounts of rice (known by many in the paleo community as a safe starch) also came into play.

And guess what? She did not regress.

In fact, for about three glorious weeks, my 3 year old made some wonderful progress. It is, of course, possible for a parent to be biased or overly subjective when evaluating behavioral changes as correlated to diet changes. But, do you know what is not so subjective? Suddenly solid, normal-looking poop. Also: Sleeping all the way through the night like a rock star. Also: Her speech therapists, occupational therapist, AND her preschool teachers gave us extra-encouraging reports.

So, not only was our daughter's behavior and concentration improving, but her previously mushy, foul-smelling poop suddenly resolved into Bristol Stool Scale 4 poops. This is what many in the special needs community would call a "holy grail poop" - it is a pretty universal sign that digestively, something has resolved or is resolving in the right direction.

So, I got cocky. I thought, "This is great, we have figured things out, we are helping her!"

And suddenly, like that, 3 weeks of awesomeness went to (har har) crap. Awful poops, increasingly disrupted sleep, lack of concentration, and ultra-lethargic, distracted behavior.

I was beside myself. I was beside myself trying to figure out what the heck happened. What had changed? Then I realized: I had been doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox through March, and about a week before Easter it ended. Suddenly, I was back to making stuff that I hadn't made for about three weeks - treat-y things involving coconut flour, almond flour, honey, etc. We also had some meals involving marinara (= tomatoes), and I had bought some frozen diced pineapple and mango - all three of which I had not bought or cooked in that three weeks.

The common denominator among these foods seems to be salicylates - and these inadvertently reintroduced foods happen to be moderately to very high in them. Sarah Ballantyne of The Paleo Mom wrote a post on salicylate sensitivity a while back. The possibility of salicylate sensitivity had also been brought up by our certified nutritional therapy practitioner.

Many who work in the field of special needs kids' gut health know that there is not always a simple answer, and that often sensitivities and allergies must be determined slowly, sometimes taking months or years to suss out. Frequently, as seems to be happening for us, major issues like gluten and dairy will be identified, only for smaller, lesser-known factors including (but not limited to) salicylates, phenols, amines, food dyes, artificial colors, and artificial flavors to be determined as fellow culprits. More complicated still, they are often naturally occuring chemical components of otherwise healthy, harmless foods that most folks can eat with impunity, so the lesser-known factors are rarely obvious unless strict dietary elimination trials are performed.

In our case, while nothing is yet 100% certain, there was certainly a dramatic enough correlation to merit serious consideration of dietary salicylates as a real problem for our daughter - because when I stopped feeding her honey, almonds, coconut, tomatoes, pineapple, and other higher salicylate foods in favor of lower-salicylate alternatives, her poop went from ultra messy and gross back to celebration-worthy, her sleep improved, and she began talking up a storm again, using sentences with even 9 or 10 words, and increasingly discussing her surroundings.

For me, continuously tweaking her diet has become much less about following a protocol's rules (whether GAPS, paleo, etc.) than turning it into a real n=1. For example, buckwheat may not be optimally nutritious in terms of its nutrient content, but as a carefully considered carb source for my daughter it beats many fruits and other high-salicylate foods because it does not draw her into messy-poo-Crazytown. In the meantime, though, several solid GAPS principles remain in place: such as probiotics, live fermented foods, and bone broth!

I have a feeling this is just one example of many tinkering exercises we will be doing with her diet in the years to come, but until then, I celebrate that we can possibly slide one more giant piece of the puzzle into place.

Have you broken rank with a protocol or dietary recommendation in a bid to better personalize dietary needs?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Smallest Reasons To Persevere Are The Biggest (To Me)

Often, I wonder if it is worthwhile trying so hard as a family on the diet end of things. My investigation into how food impacts biochemistry/hormones originated about three years ago because of my family's and my own lifelong struggle with weight. Yet, striving to focus our diet on nourishing foods proves daily to be a countercultural notion.

Still, a couple of years the road, my husband and I realized that keeping my youngest's diet as cleaned up as possible was central to supporting her therapies and speech acquisition. However, these days I try to give my oldest some leeway sometimes so that she can learn about making her own choices. It is really hard to manage the dynamics of two separate levels of clean-eating between two sisters! I still run into snafus and learn lessons on how to do it better every day.

My husband took my oldest daughter to a popular and semi-legendary burger joint for a daddy-daughter date last night with my blessing - it is a rare occasion indeed at our house, probably once a year or less. When they came back and my oldest daughter was out of earshot, my husband told me that I'd be proud of her: she had eaten a bite of her burger, then removed the bun and started munching on the beef, cheese, bacon, sauteed mushrooms and onions, and said, "I just like the meat and cheese and veggies, I don't like the bun so much."

Via Flickr Creative Commons,
Gifford Photographic Collection.
I nearly fell out of my seat. It was so heartening to hear that on some level, her brain was running software that led her to the most nourishing part of the burger in front of her. I don't get to appreciate moments like these every day - there are certainly times even very recently that I've watched her dive gleefully into a sugary treat without a moment's reflection - but I am glad that she is independently displaying application of what we try to do with food at home.

There was another moment today that took me completely by surprise. The same daughter squealed to me today on the playground, "Look, Mommy, I went across the monkey bars all by myself!"

I caught my breath. Really?!

For some, the notion of a 6 year old swinging across monkey bars by herself is nothing remarkable at all: it's a kid being a kid.

But for me, it was deeply, personally encouraging. I have very clear memories of being 9 years old, watching other fourth graders whip back and forth across the monkey bars on the school playground. I tried a few times, but ultimately returned home dejected, feeling like I was less than because I was physically incapable of keeping up with the other kids on the monkey bars. By then, I was simply too heavy and not strong enough.

On Monday, my 6 year old starts a once weekly 9 week course of CrossFit Kids. It isn't the hardcore weight-bearing exercises that the CrossFitting adults do - it's looking to be more structured like an exceptionally fun phys ed class, with bear crawls and the like. I hope fervently that her budding healthy eating inclinations and her enthusiasm for the monkey bars are boosted further by an encouraging, friendly environment celebrating functional fitness!

Have you celebrated any small victories in your household with healthy eating and fitness this week?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paleo Grocery Finds - What I Buy, Where: WalMart

If there's one thing that I learned long term from my years as a dedicated couponer, it is the mental exercise of skimming my grocers' shelves for price points on my regular paleo staples, and new-to-me paleo-friendly items. Even in few grocery store aisles that I shop every week, I find my eyes spontaneously flicking across each shelf, line by line, searching for novel information to plug into my brain's "product/price point" database.

Our WalMart has an
ever-improving gluten-free
section. Not necessarily
paleo, and I don't use it all the
time, but it's nice to have
there for certain occasions.

I recently realized how useful it might be to put my price points information out there - I have often been grateful to find out about paleo-friendly products at various stores from fellow real food enthusiasts, so perhaps my grocery lists will give those reading ideas about new things to look for as they're doing their grocery shopping errands. As you'll see, there are a lot of "in house" and conventional items that we buy right alongside more premium organic staples. Of course, most WalMarts with grocery sections and Super WalMarts carry a vast and varying selection of produce, eggs, meats, and fish, so your trip to WalMart may not necessarily look like ours below. But, hopefully, there will be an item or two we buy regularly that you haven't thought to check out at your own WalMart...and odds are that when you do find it, it will be very price competitive!

Prices subject to fluctuation seasonally and regionally; once you hear of something I've found, double check your own locations' stock and prices. I've put a bold  GF for "gluten free" where the product in question has been specifically marked as "gluten free".

My WalMart is not so good with its coconut milk selection. It used to carry Golden Star, which is just coconut milk and water, and comes in a green can. It wasn't always in stock, so I always grabbed a bunch when it was there. Even after I'd politely talked to a couple of managers about keeping it in stock more regularly, I mourned deeply when they instead stopped carrying it and replaced it with Imperial Dragon, whose ingredient list includes a couple of preservatives. Coconut milk is consumed so regularly at our house, including by my 3 year old daughter who has gut health issues, so finding a short ingredient list is very important to us. Now when I am in a pinch at WalMart I'll pick up Thai Kitchen's coconut milk, which still has guar gum in it, but if I plan ahead I can keep stocked with a BPA-free no-additive coconut milk via

Imperial Dragon:
This is a coconut milk I avoid;
look at the ingredient list!

Goya: Another coconut milk to avoid
because of added preservative.

My Typical WalMart Shopping List
Label for WalMart's
in-house organic milk.
No, really!?

    Besides bulk meat purchases from local farmers, WalMart and Wegmans roughly tie for getting my most grocery dollars month in, month out. Here are the things I regularly buy for our family at WalMart.
    • Organic Eggs: $4.18/doz.
    • Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk: $3.18/half gal. GF
      (I like this brand because it does not have carrageenan)
    • Organic Stonyfield whole milk (in-house): $3.58/half gal
    • 1 lb. Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Carrots: $1.94/ea. (We usually buy several pounds each visit! They go in almost every lunch we pack.)
    • Mariani honey bars: ~$4.99/5 pack - these are nuts, dried fruit, and honey  GF
      Mariani's Honey Bars. I find these by the produce section.
      I love their simple ingredient lists of nuts, fruits, and honey.
      My 6 year old daughter loves that they look like granola bars.
    • Pistachios, 32 oz.: $10.99
      VERY nice prices
      on Thai Kitchen's
      red curry paste and
      green curry paste.
    • Fischer nuts - walnuts, pecans, etc. Allergen info says processed in a plant with tree nuts but says nothing about wheat. Prices vary across sizes.
    • Bananas: $0.47/lb.
    • Blood oranges, around 8 in a 3 lb. bag: $3.88
    • 6 ct. Marketplace single serve guacamole (WalMart's in-house version of Wholly Guacamole): ~$3.88 GF
      (These are also a lunchbox staple of ours! I sometimes stick a short straw in an opened one for my 3 year old to build her oral motor muscle tone as she sucks it up like a milkshake.)
    • Wyman's frozen wild blueberries (these are teeny berries and thus great for baking): ~$0.20/oz, depending on the size bought.
    • Mezzetta Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives, 9.5 oz.: $4.72/ea. GF
    • Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste and Green Curry Paste: $2.30/jar GF
      (This is at least a dollar cheaper than almost anywhere else!)
    • Pace Salsas: ~$2.50/jar  GF
    • Local raw honey: $8.99/35 oz. jar
    • Hormel Natural preservative-free ham, turkey, and salamis: ~$2.50/pack  GF
    • Love me some olives!

    • Zico 1 L coconut water: $4.48 GF

      WalMart has fair prices on coconut water. Zico is my favorite
      brand available at our WalMart as far as taste goes.
    What paleo-friendly finds have you scouted out at WalMart?

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