Change…It does a body, mind, and soul good.

Read this. 

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Now read it again. Read it yet again and understand that not only can your mind be stretched, but so can your body. We, as human beings, are creatures of habit. We get stuck in our daily routines. We even get stuck in our habits of what we like and don’t like. That is normal. Most of us think that if we didn’t like the taste, texture, or appearance of a food or drink at one time previously in our life, that that will always be the case. Not true. Our taste buds change as we grow. Not only do our taste buds change, but given the chance to adapt to new things, your body can learn to like things that at first bite, you may think it doesn’t. My fiance brought this up a few weeks ago as we first embarked on our gluten free/paleo journey together. He said something to the effect of, “when you taste something new, it may not be that you don’t like it. It may be that your body just isn’t use to it and you have to adapt to that.” So very true. This has been the case with a lot of things over the past month during our transition. Certain substitutions can never be quite the same as the “real thing”, but know that the paleo versions of pretty much anything are more “real” than the, well, real versions. That didn’t make sense to you, did it? With paleo, everything is natural – no artificial sweeteners, chemicals, or preservatives. That’s how everything is more real. This means your body can break it down so much easier and deliver the nutrients where they need to be used. So, stretch your mind today by trying new things. Then, stretch your body by allowing it the chance to accept what is new and be open to change. Without new things, without change, life is dull and boring. Without change, we deny ourselves the ability to experience so many amazing things in life. 

Let me share a little bit about what my first 30-ish days on Paleo have done for me. Energy – it’s unreal actually. I have had issues with energy for quite a while, partly due to my hypothyroidism, combined with deficient B-12 (which I am on medications for both, but still). Prior to paleo, I would be fine until after lunch, maybe even 2-3pm. I would get tired, and not have the energy to do my workouts many times. Part of this was just the energy itself. Part of it was my body crashing from carbs and sugar. This has been eliminated completely for me. When I eat now, even if I eat a large meal, my stomach doesn’t feel so bloated and huge as it use to. I’m not saying that’s necessarily from the paleo, but I do attribute it to the lack of gluten at least. I have also been able to eliminate two supplements I had been using – Osteo Bi-Flex (for joint pain) and Align probiotic (for digestive issues). The lack of gluten alone has compensated for the removal of the Osteo Bi-Flex. But since I removed the Align, I added in what some people call a paleo superfood – kefir. Kefir, although a milk product, is generally 99% lactose free, meaning that those with lactose intolerance can have it in their diet without issues. It’s got lots of good probiotics in it. I drink about 6-8oz per day.  I’ve heard you can even make your own, but I haven’t ventured there yet. Probably one of my biggest changes since starting paleo is my strength and ability of my muscles to recover quicker. I do strength training 2-3 times per week. Prior to paleo, I was only able to fit it in usually twice per week, because my muscles would still just be too sore to get that third time in. Now I’m finding that not only can I get that third day in each week, I’ve also increased my weight in every single area as well. I’m still sore the next day (LOVE that feeling, well, once I’ve been out of bed for about 5 minutes and it’s not quite so painful!), but my body loosens up and takes on the challenge again in plenty of time. This is great for me because although I want to lose weight, I really want to tone and be lean. I’m not afraid of lifting like many women are. I love lifting. As far as weight loss, I’m at a total loss of about 8lbs for the month. This is taking into consideration that I was out of town for a whole week for work, as well as Thanksgiving celebrations starting this week. Not too shabby. One more thing I have been completely astonished with in this past month is the fact that I no longer really want bread. What? Yeah, go back and read that again. I don’t want bread. I am a girl who loved bread and carbs in every form I could find them. While out of town and at a restaurant, I ordered a burger with a gluten free bun. By the time I made it halfway through the burger, I had picked off the bun and didn’t even want it. It wasn’t the fact that it was gluten free (although gluten free breads do tend to be thicker and more…chewy), I just didn’t need it or want it. You start looking at things like that, and it really can be interesting to see your body adapt like that. 

So here’s what I have to share as far as recipes go. It’s been a bit of an adventurous week for me. I made a fantastically popular Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake for our work holiday shindig. You can see that recipe HERE. It’s not strict paleo in that it incorporates dairy, duh. But it is gluten free and low carb. If you wish to do paleo and incorporate dairy from time to time like I do (because I cannot imagine a world without cheese), then there ya go. Everyone who tried it liked it. Solid. I also saw Elana from Elana’s Pantry post THESE Primal Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on her Facebook page the other evening, and immediately hopped off the couch and popped half a batch in the oven. They were SO good,especially while just a smidge warm still, with a small glass of cold almond milk on the side. Lastly, I made Paleo Cocoa Puffs cereal from PaleOMG’s post HERE last night, to have for breakfast this morning. This takes patience, y’all. Rolling all those tiny individual balls. But if you have the patience, or someone to help you, it might be worth it, especially if you like chocolate. They were sweet, but not as sweet as store-bought cereal. They do stay crunchy in milk too! Just realize that you aren’t going to eat a huge serving of these like you would a store-bought cereal. They are higher in fat and protein, so you will not need as much. Man, all 3 of my recipe shares for today are sweet ones. Must be that time of year. I promise next time I will share something savory. Perhaps it will be tonight’s dinner – bacon wrapped cajun shrimp with some veggies on the side. Can’t wait for that! 

Until next time…

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Dare to dream a little bigger, darling.

Take a moment on this day to sit and think about what your dreams and goals are. It might be career goals, fitness goals, relationship goals – who knows. Whatever they are for you, ask yourself this: do they frighten you? When you think about what it will take to reach them, do you second-guess your ability to succeed? If the answer is no, then you my friend, need to dream a little bigger.

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My past couple weeks have been filled with preparation for something I’ve wanted all of my life. Without going into detail, I can tell you it’s career-related. Yesterday I was tested in many ways to include mental and physical, and let me tell you that it wasn’t easy, but boy was it rewarding. Why am I telling you this here? Well, first of all, I don’t know if I would have been able to perform the way I did yesterday without the life changes I have made recently. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’m not saying that the Paleo Diet has done all this itself, but it has given me the ability to challenge myself in many ways, thus effecting many areas of my life. As my day of interviews and testing began yesterday for this possible career choice of mine, I was confident through all of the mental areas. But let me dissect into the physical a little more, because if you know me (especially if you have known me for a long time), you know that I am not a person who has often been confident in my physical abilities. You see, if you were to look back at me about 4 years ago, you would see a girl 45lbs heavier with multiple health issues, who couldn’t and didn’t do diddly squat when it came to exercising. Fast forward back to yesterday. As I completed the initial portions of testing and moved on to the physical, I changed out of my suit and into my running/workout gear. As I put on my running capris, tank, and fabulous pink running shirt, I looked in the mirror and saw something I hadn’t seen in a while, and I felt something I hadn’t felt in a while. My body felt amazing. I felt strong. I felt an absence of so much of the excess crap I have been having in my body for so long. I looked great. I was ready. Having that kind of confidence alone can carry you so far – remember that. As I went out and completed the physical testing, I did better in multiple arenas than I had ever done, even in recent times where I had been practicing. The most amazing part – I ran my fastest mile ever in 9:44. Even 3 days prior I did my best and only ran it in 10:35. What’s my point in all of this? Here it is…

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When you feel like you don’t have 10 more seconds in you, or 5 more reps before your muscles completely fail – keep going. It’s in your mind. When you tell yourself that you only have those final 10 seconds left and you want to give it ALL without regret, it’s amazing what your body can do. But your mind has to know that it can do it. Now tie the two together – dream bigger, and imagine you can do more physically by pushing yourself with your mind. You can do it because you are amazing. Your body is amazing. It is a gift to you from God. You should take care of it, but also challenge it. We know that challenging our brains is good for us, why don’t we continuously do the same with our bodies? We should. 

 

Ok, now let’s dive into something else. How many of you are coffee drinkers? How many of you drink multiple cups in a day? Did you know that drinking too much coffee can dehydrate your body and also cause you to crash and be sleepy later, especially if you are not getting enough water? Have you ever considered switching to, or at least substituting tea for some of your cups of joe? Let me give you a small list of the benefits of tea:

– Tea has much less caffeine than coffee – between 25-50% as much.
– Tea contains tannins and catechins which have been associated with cancer and heart disease prevention
– Tea has been shown to act as a stress-reliever.
– Tea contains the polyphenol quercetin, which may interrupt the oxidation of LDL or “bad cholesterol”. It may also lower blood pressure and blood sugar, suppress aging, prevent food poisoning and skin disease and act as an anti-viral. Quercetin can also act as a natural COX-2 inhibitor, providing pain-relief similar to pharmeceutical versions like Vioxx and Celebrex.
– Tea decreases triglycerides and free fatty acids in your bloodstream, while coffee contains cafestol, a fat-like chemical that actually can increase your cholesterol levels.
– Tea contains EGCG and theaflavins which can suppress the enzymes required for cancer-cell growth, thereby slowing the progression of some cancers. (Some research suggests that the antioxidants in tea may neutralize this effect, however).
– Tea is a digestive aid, it flushes the digestive system.
– Unlike coffee, tea has almost no carbohydrates, fats or proteins.
– Tea contains L-theanine, which has been shown to boost mental alertness and help the body’s immune system.
– Oxalates found in tea can bind with free iron in the bloodstream, which can help the body fight HIV.
– Polyphenols in green tea can reduce intestinal inflammation related to IBD.
– Tea can help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s
– Tea may also be a significant factor in strengthening bones against oseoporosis
– Tea lowers your blood pressure
– Tea can help prevent kidney stones

Interested in at least trying tea now? Tea is also in many ways more economical than coffee! Depending on what type of tea you are drinking, many can be steeped multiple times, getting more than 1 cup per serving of tea. We all know you can’t do that with coffee. You can still get caffeine in many teas too, it’s just not the level that is in coffee. I’ve just recently taken the dive into teas – I mean all I had really been into before was the kind that was iced and loaded with tons of sugar. I mean, I am a southern girl. No more of that though. I have found many different kinds of tea that I love and enjoy – Twinings French Vanilla Chai Tea, Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice Tea, and Yogi Caramel Apple Spice . These are all teas that are available in local grocery stores. I also stumbled upon a few loose leaf teas while on a trip to Savannah recently – a Caramel Almond fruit tea, a Coconut Oolong Tea, and an Earl Grey Creme Tea. These are all fabulous – and the loose leaf is the type that you can steep multiple times, getting multiple cups out of each serving of tea! Here’s the websites for the two shops I found in Savannah where I got these:

The Salt Table

Savannah Spice & Tea Exchange

You can also find other great things in both of these stores. Both also allow you to order online. The latter store told me they ship anywhere in the state of GA for free. 

When you are trying teas, try them hot and cold to see which you prefer. Something I even found that I like is taking a regular ole Lipton tea bag and steeping it, adding just a touch of honey or sweetener, and a mint sprig. Enjoy it hot, especially this time of year. 

 

That’s it for today, folks. If you try any teas that you especially love, please let me know! I’d love to try them as well!

As I Promised – Antipasto Salad Recipe

Good morning and happy Sunday! The last time I posted (I know, it’s been a few days), I mentioned to you the Antipasto Salad that is in the Paleo Indulgences cookbook and how it is one of my favorites. Well here is the recipe! Let me know if you try it and what you think.

Salad:

1 can pitted black olives, drained (I use the sliced kind)

1.5 cups or 2 14oz cans artichoke hearts in water (or frozen ones, thawed)

1/3 cup sliced sundried tomatoes

3-4 oz sliced uncured salami, cut into slivers

3oz mozzarella, cubed (optional – if I put this in, I usually chop up some mozzarella sticks)

2 tbspn fresh basil

2 tbspn chopped fresh parsley

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp italian seasoning

1 tsp granulated onion

1/2 tsp salt

black pepper to taste

 

Directions: Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl. Separately, place the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until fully combined. Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour and serve. Save leftovers for up to 3 days.

 

More to come later today! I hope you are having a fabulous morning and weekend!

Terrific Tuesday Favorites – Might Make Your Mouth Water!

It’s terrific Tuesday, guys. I want to start sharing some of my meals with you all. Some of you may have seen the fabulous spinach salad I posted a photo of on Facebook yesterday. It was a base of baby spinach with chopped pecans, fresh cranberries, and bacon pieces. Here it is. Isn’t it lovely?

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That was such a simple thing to throw together, and it was really great. The combination of the tart cranberries with the pecans and bacon was just…yummy. Taking fresh produce and ideas from the season can help to change up your salads and other meals too. Cranberries are definitely a seasonal item, and they won’t be around for too long. Try them out!

So now, on to some of my favorite things I’ve discovered since I’ve started paleo. My absolute favorite thing would probably be a breakfast – Berries & Cream. I took two different recipes I had found and combined them. The first is from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain website & cookbook. It is a Berries & Cream breakfast. Her post and recipe are HERE. I will say that my “cream” part does not look like that. Perhaps it is the type of coconut milk I am using. It’s not that whipped and white looking, but it sure does taste good. Ok, in addition to that, I make a batch of THESE every week. These are Paleo Breakfast Cookies. I make a batch and put them in the pantry for the week. When I make my Berries & Cream, I crumble one of these cookies on top. It’s like a cobbler…for breakfast. Would be a great dessert idea too! And yes, Dan the man loved this too.

Another favorite of mine has been the antipasto salad. This recipe came from the Paleo Indulgences cookbook, found HERE. It consists of the salad and the dressing separately. I’ll have to post the specific recipe later, but basically in the salad you have artichoke hearts, black olives, salami, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella (optional). The dressing is a combination of olive oil, mustard, italian seasoning, white wine vinegar, and a couple other things. It really is delish and could be a lunch or dinner option. Don’t worry, I won’t forget to post that recipe soon! Here’s the photo of the last time I fixed it: (I substituted green olives as I didn’t have any black at the time.)

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My final favorite thus far would have to be the Coconut & Lime Chicken. How awesome does that sound? Not as awesome as it actually was. Believe me, you MUST try this. HERE is the recipe. I believe I omitted the sugar, as I’m trying to eliminate sugars as much as I can. If you want to use sugar though, one I’d suggest (and I just started using) is coconut palm sugar. It’s a great natural sweetener. I’d also definitely suggest making the marinade for this chicken into a sauce the way it describes. It’s awesome. If you have leftovers, you can have them for lunch or dinner the next day as is, or serve them cold over salad.

Ok kiddos, that’s it for today. If you have certain things you’d like me to post & share about – please comment and let me know! I’m here for YOU.

What on earth does it mean to be “paleo”?!

It was only a few weeks ago that I was wondering this same thing. I didn’t even know what gluten was. So, let’s define a few things and help us all to understand what it all means.

The Paleo Diet is derived from how people ate during the paleolithic era, A.K.A. cavemen. If they couldn’t catch it, kill it, or grow it in order to eat it – it’s not paleo-friendly. There are a few things that you might think are paleo-friendly, that aren’t though. Grains of any kind are the biggest no-no when it comes to paleo. But they grow and are natural, right? Well, they have to be harvested and processed in order to become the final product we see them as. One thing you may not realize is a grain is corn. So, corn is not a part of paleo. No breads, chips, pastas, etc. that are made of any type of grain (wheat, corn, oats, etc.) are allowed. Rice is considered to be the least problematic of the grains and if you eat it on paleo, it is suggested that you use wild rice as opposed to other forms. Legumes are another no-no on the Paleo Diet. Legumes include beans, peas, and peanuts. A big grey area for some on the Paleo Diet is whether to eliminate dairy. Someone following the diet strictly will eliminate dairy (cow’s milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, etc.). Part of the reason for this is that many people following the Paleo Diet for allergy reasons will have an allergy or aversion to dairy. My body doesn’t really do well with a lot of dairy, especially milk. But, I don’t seem to see a problem when I use cheese sporadically, so we keep cheese in our diet some. It’s definitely not a daily thing though. One last thing that paleo omits is vegetable oil. You should stick to coconut oil and olive oil instead. So, at this point are you asking “What CAN I eat on Paleo?” Don’t fret. There are so many things that your mind is likely not going to consider that you can have until you start opening your eyes and looking at everything with Paleo eyes. You can have all kinds of meat, although a strict Paleo follower will stick to grass-fed beef, etc. I honestly have not committed that whole-heartedly yet. It is harder to find and more expensive, so that is up to you. Think of all the different kinds of meats – ground beef, steak, pork chops, roast, BACON (!!!), ground pork sausage, smoked sausage/kielbasa, chorizo, chicken, duck, lamb, all types of fish, shrimp, scallops….need I keep going? In addition to meats, you should eat lots of vegetables. In fact, your meat should accompany your vegetables, not the other way around. Just think of any veggie outside of corn and beans/peas. My favorites have been various salad/leafy greens, bell peppers, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, collard greens…..I do love veggies. Fresh fruits are permitted, but just be careful that you are choosing fruits that are lower in sugar, especially if you are wanting to lose weight. Berries are some of the best fruits to have. Check out this link if you want to see where your favorite fruits fall when it comes to sugar content: Sugar Content of Fruit.

 

Ok, now let’s take a small step backwards. How does gluten or the lack of gluten link to the paleo diet? Well let’s define and explain what gluten is. Good ole’ Wikipedia defines gluten as “a protein composite found in foods processed wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye”. So, since the Paleo Diet eliminates grains, it thus eliminates gluten. But the Paleo Diet is more than just a gluten-free diet, of course. And why would one want to even eliminate gluten? Sure, it’s been a diet fad for a little while now, but there is a lot of merit in the medical reasons for choosing a gluten-free diet. If you read my previous “Welcome” post, you read some of my personal reasons for choosing a gluten-free diet such as linking gluten in my diet to headaches, joint pain, digestive issues, etc. My issue with gluten is more of a sensitivity to it. I don’t get physically ill like many people do. If you have any type of medical issues and you have been unable to link the cause behind them, try tracking your diet and your symptoms to see if they could be linked. If you think they might be, just try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2-3 weeks. If it is an issue for you, I can pretty much guarantee you that you will feel the difference.

 

That’s all for today. Thank you for visiting, reading, and peeking into my life again. I truly enjoy sharing, in hopes that what I’m learning and doing can help someone else.

 

It’s amazing what you can do with a positive attitude. Make it a point in your daily life to dismiss negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts of affirmation and encouragement to yourself. Verbally tell yourself “Yes I can!” and mean it. Lift yourself up, because if you don’t, no one else will.

 

❤ Manda

Welcome to The Power of Paleo!!!

Welcome to my little corner of the web! My name is Amanda. This blog is dedicated to documenting my journey through transitioning to a gluten-free and paleo lifestyle. I want to document this not only for myself, but to help others. As of the start of this blog, I have been eating gluten-free/paleo for approximately 3 weeks. The changes in my body and energy have been amazing for such a short time frame. Since i am still new to the world of paleo and gluten-free eating, please know that many of my posts and recipes will be borrowed from other sources (which will always be shared and linked). I am no pro when it comes to the subject and am still learning. So, come learn with me!

All that being said, let me tell you a little about myself. I am a 31 year old woman living in good ole Bulldog country (that means Georgia, y’all). I have had an ongoing battle with weight and health issues for many years. I have hypothyroidism and a B-12 deficiency (notice I don’t say I suffer from them!). I have been active for the past 3-4 years mostly in running, spinning, and strength training. I’ve tried various diets and different ways of eating to support my body and lifestyle. I’m a girl who has always loved carbs and sweets. It never once occurred to me, even after the “gluten-free fad” became so widespread, that I could be negatively affected by gluten. Not until I read an image one of my friends posted on Pinterest one day. It named a multitude of things that someone with Celiac or a gluten sensitivity might encounter. Some of these things included joint pain, digestive issues, back pain, mood swings, low b12, hypothyroidism, and migraines. When I read this, I felt like I had walked into a brick wall. What I was reading was describing me to a “T”. Prior to this, I had not paid a lick of attention to anything related to gluten. So, I started learning and within a week started transitioning into a gluten-free lifestyle. I quickly realized that just because foods are gluten-free does not mean they are healthy, so I decided to step it up and attempt the Paleo Diet to ensure I was eating gluten-free, healthily.

My results within those first couple of weeks – astounding. My energy was on fire. Not only that, but my strength was increased too. Previously, I was having a hard time doing strength training every other day due to my muscles not recovering fully. By my second week into paleo, I was able to not only keep up with strength training 3 days per week, but also increased my weight in every area. My joint pain was completely eliminated by the end of the second week – to the point I stopped taking Osteo Bi-Flex (yes, I was taking this for joint pain at the age of 31!). My digestive issues began to improve as well. I had read about incorporating kefir into a paleo diet and decided to try it, while eliminating another supplement – Align probiotic. Now, the biggest improvement physically/visually has definitely been in my midsection. Maybe some day I’ll feel comfortable posting those photos to show the difference, but for now just believe me when I say that the difference in 2 weeks was simply amazing.

Did I mention I’m getting married in 6 months? Yeah, just another reason I want to be in shape, healthy, and beautiful for that big day. So my fiance, Dan, is coming along this paleo journey with me. He’s such a trooper. I’ll try to always include his perspective and opinions on the recipes I post, too.

I plan to post mostly recipes and tips for eating gluten-free and paleo on a budget. It definitely can be harder on your wallet to eat this way, but I’ll be passing along many ways to help with that. The majority of recipes I share will be paleo-friendly, but I know that I will want to have “cheat” meals which I will stick to being gluten-free as often as possible. So, if anything I post is not paleo, I will definitely be sure to note that. I also want this to be an inspirational place for us. I thrive off sharing positive things and inspirations.

So, that’s my introduction for now. Whatever brought you here, thank you. Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey. I hope you stick around because I have a lot to share with you!