Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I neglect Again...

Well.. I think it's more than obvious that blogging is not my thing. I'm not great at the consistency. Don't get me wrong, when I'm into it, I'm into it.  But when I'm planning a wedding and getting ready for a new school year, I don't turn to it as an outlet. Sure, I still find it VERY motivating. I receive a lot of messages from people that tell me I'm motivating to them - which is amazing - because in turn those messages motivate me to keep going on my own personal journey.  So to those of you that were waiting to hear how music camp went, I apologize for my laziness.

Long story short - music camp week went great.  I actually lost a pound over the week, despite only running about two times throughout the week.  The food was wonderful - it served as a stress reliever in between stressful rehearsals!  I felt like I didn't totally wreck my stomach. I DID join kyle in the cafeteria a few days for lunch, because, well I simply missed him and wanted to chat.  That being said, I stuck to salads with hard boiled eggs, and usually the fish selection they offered (still made my stomach grumble) and the steamed veggie option. Considering our college had awesome food, go me.

Also - our wedding tasting was incredible. Words i would use to describe it are: delicious, amazing, fun, drunk, CAKE, white chocolate lobster risotto cup (nuff said).  We really are truly lucky to have selected such an incredible venue to have our special day.

So now here are my collective thoughts from the past few months - and kind of where I leave you all for now, seeing as there is no physical, possible way I am going to try to find time to blog in the next three months.

Kyle and I have been talking a lot lately about how we can see Paleo as a lifestyle.  Not a strict lifestyle, for me personally, and those that are strict may be shaking their heads at me, but that's okay.  I want to raise my kids someday on real, whole foods, and frankly, I feel best when I'm eating real, whole foods.  But I can't go my whole life without a pizza cheat, or a hoagie cheat (a philadelphia suburbs girl needs a cheesesteak once in a while).

I've lost over 10 lbs and I have been feeling great about myself.  I've started taking more time on my hair and making it look nice, my makeup, and picking out my outfits. I feel "cute" on a daily basis, and even Kyle has said he's noticed a 'sexy' confidence in me (HELLO!) since the start of the summer when I began paleo.

I also want to preach what so many other people do. Don't do this alone. My parents eat Paleo, Kyle joins in with me, and my best friend started doing Paleo.  Sharing stories and recipes with friends and family is FUN and such a motivation.  Also, don't be scared of someone who is doing paleo (unless they are not flexible).  If I come to your house, I will eat whatever you have!  I am still a normal person who eats normal things, but on my own, I maintain a paleo lifestyle.  But you would like to serve me a delicious plate of alfredo pasta? GO FOR IT! I will survive.

I am slowly but surely reaching my goals, and I am OK with a slow road.  I can handle a slow road. slow and steady wins the race. These are the lbs I am saying goodbye to and will not see again.

GO ME.  I am going to say that I am signing out for a while, as well.  I am planning a wedding that is less than three months away, and I am also trying to be a killer teacher to my amazing students, oh yeah and be a Fiancee to my AMAZING fiancee.

Love always
- Jack xo

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Embarking on a Challenge

Hi All!

So this week I embark on a Challenge.  Kyle and I always work at our music camp for a week back at our college.  This week is always a FABULOUS time however, it means eating college cafeteria food 3 times a day.  Normally I would look forward to the week of chicken fingers with buffalo ranch, lasagna, Etown carrot cake, the ice cream machine.. but this year I've been dreading it.  I am finally hooked on something healthy. I LOVE this paleo lifestyle, and I love the fact that I've started to incorporate running and working out into my routine as well.  I feel like I am gaining control of my life, and I feel like if I went to that cafeteria, I would gain all of it back + some in a week.

So I did some thinking, and I committed to bringing all of my own food for the week.  I started saving leftovers in the freezer over the past couple of weeks, and planning out meals.  I made myself a chart, figured out I had about 18-20 meals I needed to be prepared for.  I knew I didn't want to do a lot of cooking, because lets face it, once you're out of college, college living looks pretty disgusting.  I planned out food that could easily be reheated in a microwave or on the stove.  I planned lunches that can be stored in mason jars (vs. salads that would be great, but tough to keep fresh throughout the week).  I need a lot of grab and go.

When I get back I will post about how it all went, and what a lot of the choices i went for.  I discovered a lot of recipes too that will be great for during the school year.  There is a Banana Vanilla Bean N'Oatmeal (non oatmeal) that I cannot wait to devour. It's like a custard-y chia filled delight.  This is from Diane Sanfilippo's 21 day sugar diet book, but she luckily posted it on her balancedbites blog for all to see.  I also tore up some rotisserie chickens and am going to bring a ton of veggies to cut up for veggie sticks - ie: carrots & cucumbers.

In addition, despite exhaustion I am going to TRY MY HARDEST to get out an run throughout camp. I won't be unrealistic and say it will happen every day, but I want to try to at least get out 4-5 days within the week.

PS I'm still floating around the number I hit last week - which is great! Considering we had a Carabba's cheat-night (thank you student given gift cards).  I am confident and feeling great. PLUS I just rocked a pair of pants last night that were way too small to wear last summer. Let's have a big GO ME. Always remember to be your own cheerleader. If you don't support yourself, you'll never be able to believe in yourself.
Just love him!
Wish me luck!

Love always - Jack

Monday, July 7, 2014

Reflections & a Protein "Shake"


Well I just came back down to earth after a fabulous weekend. A great July 4th downtown enjoying every little bit of our great town Frederick, and some fabulous Fireworks.  Then Kyle & I accompanied my parents and nieces to Dutch Wonderland Saturday - it has been probably close to 15 years if not more since I've been there - and man that's a fantastic place! We had a BLAST and such a FUN day.  We did the water park, lots of rides, I took abbey on her first 'big' roller coaster (which was terrifying making sure she was comfortable and not scared - parents, I got a glimpse into your life), saw some shows and ended the day with princess dolls treated by Aunt Jax & Uncle Ky.

So now onto my "reflections" I again keep going back to my new "outlook" on food. How I look at food is so different, and it still throws me through a loop. Did I cheat this weekend? Absolutely! What could I really find paleo friendly at dutch wonderland (well there were salads but I ignored them).  But it felt so good to get back to my Paleo yesterday.  I was just telling a friend I always used to go to bed feeling "full", and that feeling is gone. I don't feel full, and bloated anymore.  I rarely have headaches anymore, and honestly I rarely have stomach aches at all anymore. It's fabulous. It's absolutely fabulous.

Also - I started running again today. Kyle and I got up together and did a, as I like to call, a "trot" through the neighborhood.  We did just over 2 miles (it felt like 13...seriously), but I did it. It was a start. It was a foot out the door. And it was HILLY, man is our neighborhood hilly!!  Later this week I'll be running with a friend, who will hopefully motivate one another next week while working at my College's music camp as well. I am excited to see the results of eating Paleo and working out and keeping myself fully healthy. =) Thumbs up!

Some Blogs: I have found that I am now OBSESSED with exploring Paleo blogs.  There almost seems to be a sort of group of women that all share each others blogs and encourage one another - it's nice to see in a competitive society. If you are thinking of going Paleo, or have gone Paleo here are a few blogs I highly recommend checking out: (just ordered her book - the paleo kitchen) (diane sanfilippos - practical paleo creator - blog)

These ladies are fantastic and not only have great recipes, but they have a lot of great things to say! Last night I made Diane's "Shrimp Pad Thai" from BalancedBites and it was PHENOMENAL! (Kyle loved it too - and of course we love those Zoodles!)
Onto the protein shake! I was thinking I should have a go-to protein 'shake' that is still fairly lite for when I get back in from a run. Something that won't make me feel like I'm going to vom (like when kyle eats ketchup eggs.. EW).  So I looked up a few recipes, I wasn't totally sold on, and I created my own.  I know there is debate about protein powder being paleo friendly, but frankly right now I am just going to use what's in my cupboard!  I just so happen to have Vanilla Organic "All natural" protein Powder.

Banana-Vanilla Protein Shake/Smoothie
1 Banana
1 scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder 
1 tsp Vanilla
5 ice cubes
1/4 cup of water

Put all in a blender and mix together - enjoy!  

Mine kept me nice and full, and did not make me feel gross and vom-like! Success!

Happy Monday!
Love always - Jack =)

Friday, July 4, 2014

So I took a Chill Pill....

So I took a Chill Pill... and I stopped weighing myself everyday.  I knew it was ridiculous, but I think in the first week or two I was getting so motivated and pumped up by the fact that I seemed to be moving every day.  Then of course, you hit the days that are not so great. SO I stopped weighing myself every day, and I haven't weighed myself in a week... AND... I AM BELOW MY NASTY NUMBER. You know, that number, that you can't remember the last time you were below that terrible number?  I am 1.1 lbs below it!! It took me a minute while I looked at the scale, is it right? Wait, why does it say _ _ 8.9? I thought I was below that? OH WAIT THE MIDDLE NUMBER IS DIFFERENT. What a great feeling.  I am also slowly working some working out into my routine as well, just like vegetables, I'm not a natural, so I have to slowly work it in and figure out what's good for me. Right now it's push ups, since I want my arms to look slammin'.  Since day 1 (we are almost at week 4) I am at approx 7 1/2 lbs lost. GO ME.

Let's all celebrate for July 4th with a happy dance!!

Anyway, I have 3 major things I have realized this week.
 1. Carb/Dairy cravings? Gone. All week we were cooking & eating paleo, as usual, and I have found that I am officially done sitting around craving other food. I no longer crave pasta, or cookies. If it's sitting in front of me that's a different story, but if I'm around my house I am not sitting around crying that I want some mac & cheese.. those cravings are really truly gone.
2. Veggies on Veggies on Veggies. I am also eating a ton of vegetables. A lot of my dinners are now Paleo creations i have found from Practical Paleo, or from Pinterest, and usually they are 80% vegetables. I used to really not seek out veggies at all, but now I eat them several times a day, and they are a large portion of my meal.
3. Lastly - the third big change, is that my perception of "healthy" is SO different than what it used to be. I look at rice and think "omg so unhealthy!", or I look at chicken fingers and think "yikes so unhealthy!". The idea of fast food disgusts me, and just overall things I used to die for now set off a red flag in my head. Do I judge people who eat them? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It's just different for me looking at things I used to salivate over, I am now shying away from quickly.  It's a bizarre feeling.

Recipe Recommend!! We had several successful Paleo recipes this week but my favorite was : Spicy Butternut Squash "Rice" with Tomatoes & Shrimp. It was fabulous. It tasted like Jambalaya, and the butternut squash resemblance to rice was uncanny.  Next time I think I will add some spicy sausage to give it even more of a jambalaya feel!  It can be found here! - Against all Grain - . She has a fabulous blog!
Mouth watering just looking at the picture.

HAPPY 4th OF JULY! I'll leave you all with this classy throwback of Kyle & I.
Who doesn't duct tape a flag to a Jeep?
Love always - Jack =)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Heirloom Tomato Sauce


So my posting comes in waves, I post a lot, then I take a break and so on and so forth.  Last week I got caught up in my job, and I had a nasty fever virus that went around - that put me on my butt for a few days - and just resorting to some quick soup (not so paleo since I didn't have HM broth. oops!).  We went to a fabulous wedding this weekend - and for the first time in a while - I was happy with how I looked in a picture. Yes - us girls are very hard on ourselves - and honestly I probably looked fine before, but we are our own worst critics.  My weight has been fluctuating as I get used to and continue to experiment with Paleo and make the crossover, but this weekend - I was happy with the end result (despite the hives I broke out in on Saturday morning - what the heck is wrong with me!?) - so cheers to liking yourself =) something we all need to do a little bit more.
Anyway - when I was feeling myself last week, I made a delicious HM Heirloom Tomato sauce, to go along with some HM meatballs & Zoodles (my new favorite thing).  It was DELICIOUS. I feel like Kyle and my love of pasta has allowed me to experiment with a lot of recipes, therefore I know the 'general' guidelines for how to make a sauce.  Well my new secret? Heirloom tomatoes - juicy & thick - and honestly I don't even like tomatoes very much - but these are killer (in a good way).  Here is my sloppy - non measured recipe! Sorry in advance for the guesses at amounts - I really did not measure much while I made this.

HM Paleo Meatballs
1 lb Ground Beef (preferably organic grass-fed to really make it paleo - don't worry, I don't always do it either - oops!)
1 Large Egg
2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Onion Powder/minced onion (Kyle HATES onion - so I have to substitute- If you used real onion I would recommend 1/2 of a small onion chopped)
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder (i LOVE garlic)
1/2 tbsp Dried Parsley
1/2 tbsp Dried Basil
Dash of Oregano

-Mix all ingredients together well.  Form into 1 inch balls (approx) and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. If you are making these alone you may want to cook them for up to 20 minutes. If you are making them with sauce - take them out at 10/15 minutes and plop them in the hot sauce to let them finish cooking!

HM Paleo Zoodles (as soon in the Zoodles not Noodles previous blog)
- I like to start by peeling off the outer peel.  Julienne peel zucchini until you get to the seeds.  1 zucchini yields a small portion for 1.  Typically I will peel 6 so that we have some leftovers.  It's okay to indulge - it's a veggie! Boil for approx 2-5 minutes - this is a large range because it depends on how 'al dente' you like your Zoodles! I like mine nice and soft.

HM Heirloom Tomato Sauce - This is where it gets a bit gray - but I believe good cooking is all about the flavor and experimenting! And that's what I did with this 'recipe' if you even want to call it that. HAh!  -This portion will make approx. 4 servings.  Tonight I am making a LOT more of it so I can freeze some- it's all about adjusting the portions of ingredients, people!
- 2-3 large heirloom tomatoes - diced - make sure you save all the juices.
- 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 large cloves of Garlic
- Minced Onion (dried)
- 2 cups of water
- Fresh Basil
- Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large pot or skillet heat the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic & minced onion. After about a minute, add the heirloom tomatoes. Make sure you preserve all of the juice that comes from them (I just scrape off the cutting board into the pan).  Add the water & mix well.  Let this mixture simmer for approx 1/2 hr occasionally stirring.  If you made meatballs - these can be added throughout the simmering time as well.  When it seems like the water & tomatoes have married well & the sauce is a consistency that you like - add salt & pepper to taste as well as a few leaves of fresh basil.  Let this warm while you cook the zoodles.  Then finish off with a few more leaves of fresh basil. Serve over Zoodles & enjoy your deliciously Paleo dinner.
Meatballs simmering in the delectable sauce
Voila! So pretty!
I know I have become a lot more casual in my recipes - but a lot of these are just "experiments" that I am doing to explore the Paleo way of eating.  I also really hate measuring while cooking, so I rarely measure things that I make - this is more-so for me to share my journey with all of you, and share fun things that i discover. If you want to make something - I hope my directions are clear enough for you to - if not feel free to ask. =)

To Finish: I also have to say my inspiration from using Heirloom Tomatoes came from a former employer.  She was wonderfully creative, and LOVED using her heirloom tomatoes. I remember she made an heirloom tomato lasagna and it was one of the best things I've ever had. I also remember asking her what did she add to the sauce to make it so good? And like most of the other things she cooked or baked, she said next to nothing. Why cover up delicious ingredients with flavoring, when they are just as good by themselves? PREACH.

Happy Monday!
Love always - Jack =)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Zoodles not Noodles!

My life currently revolves around ZOODLES.  Not noodles, ZOODLES.  The wonderful gorgeous creation of peeled/julienned zucchini, boiled or steamed, and served as pasta.  You can boil them so that they become soft like pasta.  You can eat them with shrimp, you can eat them with meat, you can eat them in your house, you could eat them on your porch. You can eat them ANYWHERE!

Here is how I enjoyed my Zoodles today:
For a personal size:
1 large zucchini/squash - julienne and place in boiling water.  Boil for approx 3-5 minutes (stirring around occasionally).  When you are happy with their consistency drain, and let drain for about 10 minutes (encouraging occasionally).
- Peel a handful of shrimp, and mix them with parsley, sea salt, pepper, garlic & onion powder.  Add about a 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil (does not matter melted vs. hard).
- Saute the shrimp until cooked through.  Toss the shrimp and zoodles together, adding a splash of organic grassfed butter, salt & pepp.


Also - here are a few more 'successes' from this past week:
Paleo Pizza! find the delicious pizza crust recipe we used here!  Then I top the pizza with simple tomato sauce, fresh whole fat mozz cheese, olives, sausage, bacon, & peppers. Yum!
Coconut Pancakes! Kyle's new favorite
Coconut pancakes with baked bacon Find the recipe for coconut pancakes here!
Kudos to Mom for this one! She made Diane's "Practical Paleo" pumpkin pancakes (which are DELICIOUS). she used them as a 'crepe' and rolled up bananas & organic maple syrup  accompanied by baked bacon. BRAVO, mom, bravo!
So before I finish, I just have to say that in almost 2 weeks I am already seeing a transformation. Not necessarily just in weight, but also in my body.  Of course everything is "working well".  I am eating SO MANY vegetables that I feel like I am getting more than enough fiber.  Also - last night I 'cheated' a bit since we had friends over.  I drank more wine than usual, and decided to splurge a little at dinner.  I have to say I am not feeling so hot AT ALL today.  No, I did not drink so much wine that I'm hungover, but it's more like a food hangover. My stomach just feels unsettled, and not happy. Meanwhile, the past 2 weeks, my body has felt great! I couldn't remember the last time I had a stomach ache - I think my body likes clean eating, for sure.

All of that being said, I am almost happy that I am feeling this way today. It's a reminder that my body is changing, and it is responding to new ways of eating and things are happening.  Changes take a long time, but it is always nice to have a positive response.  I think it will be a long time before I 'cheat' again and go non-paleo!

Happy Sunday!

=) Jack

Friday, June 20, 2014

Paleo Friendly Breakfast Bowl

Ahhhh Summer... I totally agree, Leo.
So this week being summer, I am trying a lot of different breakfast options. I created some "egg muffins" with various veggies & meat in them, we've had a few veggie filled omelets, and I've also made some of Diane's various muffins.  For some reason every day, I still feel a struggle with what to have for breakfast. I think before I just always grabbed cereal, or a nutri grain waffle (not healthy like you think it is!!), and I was good to go. Now I have to sit down and think "okay, what will be filling, paleo friendly, and easy for breakfast".  I'm sure this will get easier, but I am not at the point in my "paleo journey" to start having steak & vegetable leftovers for breakfast.

So this morning, after a quick Wegmans trip to stock up on some more paleo essentials - tapioco flour, arrowroot flour (what?!) and almond flour, it was time to cook breakfast. I REALLY wanted some grits with eggs and bacon on top, but hmmm can't do that. So I snagged the leftover Cauli-Mashers from last night (mashed cauliflower - see below), heated them up with a handful of spinach leaves.  Then I crumbled some of my Baked Bacon (recipe from Practical Paleo) on top.  Then I made 2 over easy eggs to go on top. YUM.  The cauli-mashers were so creamy, and between the cauli & the spinach I felt like I was doing myself some good with adding veggies to my breakfast.   Success! I wish I had some better pictures, but frankly, I was starving, so this is the best I could do!

Excuse the gross nature of the picture... There really was no good angle down in my little bowl

Before we finish - let's give 3 cheers to Kyle! Last night Kyle cooked his first paleo meal! Go Kyle!!  He made chicken breasts (non-organic, but they were in the freezer so I'm going to use them!) with the Practical Paleo "Savory Chicken" recipe.  These are baked in the oven.  He also made what I call "Cauli-Mashers", I think Diane calls them "Faux-taters" or something like that, but cauli-mashers just sounds more fun.  They were delicious and creamy, no added almond milk or anything.  We just seasoned them up to taste, added some grass-fed butter and enjoyed! Lastly I made our favorite sautéed brussel sprouts in coconut oil vs. olive oil. They were crispy and lovely. So 3 cheers for Kyle!!
Yum! Kudos to Kyle!
Those 'mashers were delicious!
Leo wants IN on those cauli-mashers

Happy FRIDAY!!
Love always - Jack =)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Cake

Everyone needs to go make this right now if you are having a sweet tooth craving!!

I made this the other night to accompany some very NON-Paleo champagne kyle and I finally enjoyed for the end of the school year.  Either way, it's delicious!  Very chocolate, and moist (I added a bit more almond milk than it called for based on reviews).  Honestly - you could share this with someone, it makes enough.  I also recommend making it in a larger mug (vs a small teacup type of mug or cup), it really fills it all up.
I added a sprinkling of dark choc. morsels on top
Down another lb today!  I think my body is in shock. As I said before, I am never an advocate for an unhealthy lifestyle to lose weight, but I think right now my body is carb & dairy "deprived" if you want to say it that way, and I am losing a lot of extra weight that I have to use that was packed on from the carbs & the ice cream (not that I ever indulged in ice cream and wine and pizza and fries when I was stressed.....).

Happy Summer!

Love Always - Jack =)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

These are a few of my Favorite (paleo) things!

Before I begin - I need to say Sorry I'm Not Sorry for blowing up Instagram and Facebook with food pictures.  I know that a lot of people "can't stand seeing food" on social media, but you know what? It's motivating to me.  I find it very motivating to be proud of healthy, beautiful food that I am making, and sharing it with people that do enjoy it makes me feel good and positive. So if someone needs to unfriend or un-follow me, no offense taken! Because I am simple choosing to not stop posting pictures of my beautiful paleo food =).

I am well into week two, and still loving my Paleo lifestyle.  Down another lb or 2 from the weekend, woo hoo! I know what you're thinking, week 2? Big deal!  Well guess what, when you make a lifestyle change like this and you have not caved and stuffed your face with ice cream, or french fries, or tons of junk food, then you should be proud of yourself!  I read a few articles, and through Diane Sanfilippo's wise words in Practical Paleo, I have taken the mind set of "it's not that I can't have the food, I am choosing not to eat it".  So I am CHOOSING to live paleo... I am CHOOSING to not eat dairy, because I don't want to, it's not because I can't.  Mental games are insane, aren't they? They have such a huge impact.

Well I thought I would post a few of the favorite things that we've had so far on Paleo. All but maybe one or two things are recipes from Practical Paleo book, so I cannot claim these as my own, and I wasn't planning on it. I highly commend Diane on putting together an accessible, relatable book with truly delicious recipes. Clean eating is delicious! And it's not weird "fat free with fat free healthy substitutes". It's real ingredients without all of the factory do-up before it reaches your mouth.

So here are a few of Kyle and my Faaaaavorite things we've had so far!
Practical Paleo Savory Chicken Legs - EASY and finger-lickin' good
Practical Paleo Stir Fry 
One of my typical lunches - An Egg/Pepp/Mush/Sausage Muffin I made myself - and a hearty salad with grilled chicken, bacon, egg, peppers, lettuce & cucumber (I have been using a non-paleo dressing for now since I am not going to waste until I run out)
Practical Paleo Bison Burger using Diane's Curry Spice Blend on a Portobello 
Practical Paleo stuffed peppers (our absolute favorite)

Practical Paleo ZOODLES (without Diane's delicious combos - but just some grass-fed butter & sea salt/pepp)
"Cauli-Rice" with Green Beans & Salmon Cooked in EVOO with Herbs
Despite fruit containing a lot of sugar and carbs, I still love my berries! And of course their adorable containers that I found at Relish Decor downtown.
We have made many other things, and loved them all, but these are some of the highlights that we've had on our paleo journey thus far.

Also - Check out Diane's Blog :

Happy Wednesday!

Love always - Jack =)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Paleo Life


Well I guess you could call me just about the least-consistent person to ever walk the planet, but I am assuming that there are many others WAY more inconsistent than I am, so it makes me feel better.

Well, Weight Watchers has officially been cancelled. It's embarrassing, and it makes me mad, and I'm not saying that "I failed" because if I do I'll feel mad at myself, instead I'm taking the approach that it just didn't work for me this second time around.  Last spring everything clicked and I lost like crazy. This spring? I just couldn't handle the tracking, having to "eyeball" everything, I got lazy AND I allowed myself too many "cheats".

I fell into the typical female "why me?.. why do I have to go through this weight struggle", and then I realize that my problems are petty and nothing compared to life that other people have to go through. I can overcome this. My mom reminded me, I'm a go-getter.  If I set goals for myself I thrive while trying to achieve them. Academically? check. Trying to get a job, or earn a position somewhere? Check!  I really can motivate myself. Eating healthy and working out? No check. The motivation is a struggle for me, and I can't figure out why. But again, moms being awesome, she reminded me it's there, I just need to PUSH myself, and FIGHT for what I want, and how I want to feel.

Over the past few months I've heard more and more about the "Caveman" diet or the Paleo diet.  It sounded completely ridiculous, and nothing I would ever be disciplined enough to try, and my mom agreed.  Well, a few weeks ago, my mom and dad started it. My mom was unhappy with how she felt, and somehow while recovering from a stomach virus, it all clicked, and she knew she needed a change. Over that whole week I was amazed at the drastic change her and my dad made to their daily diets, and began working out again.  I was feeling motivated by her choice, to workout, to do something... did I do anything? NO!

Well that Saturday my mom sent me my very own "Practical Paleo" book by Diane Sanfilippo.  It was one of the best 'gifts' she's ever given me.  I feel refreshed and motivated.  It came at a great time as school was ending, and I am able to dive in full force to trying new recipes, and new styles of eating.

So here is what I've learned so far: Paleo diet is NOT the caveman diet (there actually is a caveman diet, that I COULD NOT do).  Paleo is all about eating fresh, whole foods. No processed crap (to put it lightly).  It is all about eating a ton of vegetables, protein, and some fruit.  Embrace the good fats for you.  Carbs? gone. Dairy? Gone. Is it difficult? SURE... I love some pasta and some ice cream (mmmm Turkey Hill).  However I've learned that Paleo is a lifestyle choice, you are choosing to eat organic and to eat foods that are good for your body, NOT just your waistline.  I am eating more veggies than I think I've ever eaten, not being a natural veggie-lover.  I also have learned that it's OK if you need to cheat every once and a while, but not like in weight watchers where I OK'd the constant cheating.

I do have to say, I refused to give up wine. I love my wine. Do I drink 5 glasses a night? No. Some nights I don't even have any, but I told myself, I have decided not to eat (not given up) so many other things, that I am deciding to continue to drink wine.

If you are feeling in a rut, and feeling adventurous I highly encourage exploring the Paleo lifestyle. Diane Sanfilippo does a beautiful job of being relatable and realistic.  Do I buy everything organic? no. Am I moving in that direction? Kind of.  But so far after only a week I am already feeling successful and proud of myself.

I will try to stay on top of this blog, as I still find it motivating and kind of a 'release'.  I still recognize my inability to write in a 'good' way, and frankly I'm not very interesting, but again, I like doing this for myself.

Now I need to go check on my Paleo Sausage-Egg-Veggie cups for breakfast!

I will still periodically try to post recipes, and things that I have created to compliment the Paleo lifestyle.

For now, Happy Summer!

Love Always - Jack

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Accidental Clams & Chard

Happy Almost-Spring!!
I like to think that spring is right around the corner, and then I look at our forecast of SNOW for tomorrow.  There are worse things in the world, but I am REALLY looking forward to St. Patty's Day.  Tomorrow (or Tuesday) I get to keep up the tradition of the Irish Jig Competition, started by my fabulous predecessor, and I am so excited to experience my first one.  Even if we have snow, it will happen on Tuesday, or it will happen with our delay, but I am so sick of this snow! I JUST WANT SPRING... this is coming from the girl who complains in July that she wants Fall & snow.. I guess this is karma?

So last night, Kyle and I decided to have a romantic dinner night - which usually means we are going to eat some fatty pasta & seafood.  And guess what? We did!  I made this fabulous, fabulous pasta from The Pioneer Woman (love her).  It included sautéing searing shrimp & scallops, then cooking diced tomatoes in the same skillet.  Meanwhile only 1/2 cooking the pasta.  Then put the pasta on top of aluminum foil in a large baking dish, dump the tomato "sauce" on top, add all the seafood, fold up the aluminum foil and BAKE.  Finish off with some warm cream & basil.  It was probably the most amazing seafood pasta recipe I've made. Normally Kyle & I die for Alfredo - but this one stole my heart last night.  I highly recommend!
Here, let me pass this through the computer.
Well, just having this pasta was simply not enough.  A few weeks ago a super-friendly Wegmans employee was helping us with seafood and started to divulge into his familys rich-Italian heritage and how they all loved cooking together.  He started talking about making clams, and how tomato sauce vs. alfredo sauce enhances the seafood flavor much more.  I tried to remember everything he said, and created my Accidental Coupe Clams!  They were delicious. I can't take full credit for this recipe - because it was you, Mr. Wegmans-Employee that truly inspired this!

What you need:
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes
Clams (we used 3/4 lb - you could do 1 lb with this recipe too)
5 'smashed' cloves of garlic
1 cup white wine
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 fresh basil leaves torn apart (fresh really makes the flavor)

How to:
Thoroughly wash and drain all claims.  I like to scrub off their shells a little bit just to eliminate any extra grit.
To a large pot melt the butter & olive oil over medium heat.  Add the 'smashed garlic and simmer for about 30 seconds.  What I mean by smashed is peel the clove & then lay your knife horizontally flat across the garlic, and smash your fist down on top of the side of the knife "smashing" the clove beneath.  I guess this is also considered "crushed" garlic.  This way you are releasing the flavor, but keeping the cloves whole.

Add white wine and let it simmer for about a minute.  Add the red pepper flakes  & diced tomatoes.  Let this simmer for a few minutes until the ingredients have married (hey! I'm getting married too!!!!).

Add the clams & let it simmer until the clams have popped open.  This should only take a few minutes.  Pour everything into a serving dish.  Sprinkle with the basil.  We ate ours with some breadsticks/rolls - that way we could soak up the juice.  I would also recommend serving this on bruschette toasts!
Accidental Clams!
(I don't have the weight watchers points for this.  It shouldn't be too high - if you are worried about points, feel free to use 'light' butter instead of regular butter!  The white wine may also drive the points up.  But hey, we all need a date night!).

Okay so next - Kyle decided to branch out and try some Swiss Chard in his 'juices' this week instead of Kale.
I looked up how to store chard and it was very different than Kale.  Chard should NOT be exposed to water pre-storing (unfortunately wegmans had been spraying them off with the misty water).  So I laid all of the chard out on a towel & patted them dry with a paper towel.  I know I could have let them air-dry, I just wanted them off my counter!
This is vibrant healthy chard! You do not want yellow'd or brown chard.

Next, when they are dry, store them in a plastic bag. (I like to date my containers so I know when it was packaged).
Then squeeze ALL the air that you can out of the bag.  Mine looked kind of vacuum-sealed!  This should keep the chard fresh for approx. 5 days.
Leo was all up in that Chard's business
The website I used said another option is to blanch the chard, then freeze it.  If this method doesn't work this week, I may try to blanch and freeze next week.  Fun!

Also - on the note of fresh herbs - just wanted to say that my Parsley has stayed healthy for about 2 weeks! Some of it did start to yellow, but I was able to go through and 'clean out', and I still have a small mason jar full of beautiful healthy parsley!
Apparently Leo had to see for himself. Go ahead, cat, BURY your face... Great idea.
Enjoy! - Jack =)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Springing Ahead!

One of the best and most horrible days of the year.  It's wonderful to have it be lighter out later in the day, but MAN when you lose that hour, it really feels like you lost a huge chunk of your day.

I am going to keep this quick since my mind is moving a million miles a minute.  This past week I 'stayed the same' only fluctuated by about an ounce or two. I should be happy because we had TWO MORE snow days, and we all know what happens on snow days... we pig out and keep ourselves occupied by eating.  However I am proud that I maintained.  This week it is back to meal planning and healthy eating.

One "tip" if you will, that I really swear by is eating a healthy and full breakfast.  I teach at a primary school, so I am constantly on, all day every day, so having a great breakfast and being ready to go at every second is essential.  I was making refrigerator oatmeals that I have not given up, but this week I decided to try another "Emily Bites" recipe of her Peach, Blueberry & Pecan baked oatmeal.  It's baking right now and smells loverly, so I can't wait to try it!  It is about 6 points per serving.  I'm excited about the idea of pre-portioning them out so that I can grab and go in the am since this week is going to one crazy-blurr of a week.

Another "tip" I emphasized last week, but I'll do it again. Don't be afraid to try reduced fat or fat free.  They really are surprisingly equivalent to their not-so-healthy counterparts, and they really do make a difference in how you feel when you are eating.  I have felt "lighter" just like I did last year when I started WW and using low fat/fat free options, and it's a great feeling. I don't constantly feel "stuffed" but I feel satisfied.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking out Emily Bites!  She has a lot of yummy WW friendly recipes.  I am having fun trying out a few of her recipes.

Some other recipes kyle and I are taking on this week are: Chicken & Biscuits casserole (Emily Bites), White Veggie Lasagna (emily bites), some spaghetti squash with marinara and a healthy take on Taco Bowls with Ground Chicken vs. Ground Beef.  I will post about the Taco Bowls sometime next weekend!  Kind of an easy DIY healthy take on tacos. YUM!

One last tip? Be a music teacher, and teach the Irish Jig to your kids. You will get your heart pumping ALL DAY.  I was ready to collapse at the end of the day Friday! Who knew? Healthy cardio while working. Woo hoo!

Love always - Jack =)
Just love him!

Monday, March 3, 2014

A successful 1st week back!

Last Sunday I found myself feeling refreshed and in-control of Weight Watchers, myself and my life. I know that sounds a bit extreme, but it's amazing what getting back into an old healthy habit will do for you!  It probably also was nice that it felt like spring last weekend - now I'm sitting staring outside my window wearing a fleece AND a sweatshirt, thick socks and slippers with little numb fingers staring at the 5 inches of snow that are laying on my grass.  Dear tulips and spring colors - take me to the warm weather.
In the first week & a half I lost approx. 4 lbs.  Now according to the weight I first put in, it says I lost about 7 lbs, but I know the 1st time I weighed myself it was mid-morning, not 1st thing in the morning AND I don't encourage promoting unhealthy weight loss. I know even 4 lbs sounds a bit extreme, but I think it's because of my drastic change in eating. Suddenly I'm eating a ton more veggies & fruits. I'm seeking out non-fat options (which normally I'd ignore, but they're actually worth it!), and our meals were much lighter. I noticed by even Friday, I was modifying what I was eating at restaurants and not stuffing my face like usual. (that's not to say I still won't do that).  So yay for healthy starts! I know I won't be losing 4 lbs a week for the weeks to come, I'm lucky & successful to even lose 1 lb, but I am in it for the long haul, so let's do this!
Stuffed Zucchini

I figured I would share a few of my successful recipes from last week. My new favorite go-to-weight-watchers-friendly-blog is EmilyBites. She's great! She makes yummy meals, and uses simple substitutions like fat free options.  Two of my favorites last week were the Stuffed Zucchini & the Zucchini casserole. Both were extremely satisfying & really delicious.
Zucchini Casserole

I also wanted to share my new go-to sweet satisfy-er.  I know a lot of people that do weight watchers swear by that veggie loaded soup. And honestly a few summers ago when I tried weight watchers, I liked the soup. Last year when I tried it? I wasn't a fan. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm just not a big fan of the veggie soup. So instead my new filling & satisfying go to snack & lunch addition is Natural Unsweetened Applesauce.  ZERO points!  I guess you have to like applesauce, but I like to consider this my little secret to success =).  

Have a great hopefully not-snowy day!! - Jack =)