Archive | March, 2012

This is a Guilt-Free Zone.

30 Mar

If there is one thing to be relativistic about, it is food.  Maybe I have backed myself into a paleo-corner via blog.  People want to talk food with me, but often from a place of “I keep failing.”  I have even run into friends at the grocery store who have covered their cart: they didn’t want me to see what they were buying.  #paleoelitism.

Look, I get it. I do not eat perfectly 100 percent of the time.  I have, however, been eating clean for three years now.  So it’s definitely easier now than it has been.  It’s routine for me.   But I know there are seasons in life: sometimes eating clean fits in well, and then there are times it takes more effort.

Don’t think of your clean diet endeavor the wrong way.  This is not a deprivation.  Sadly, our society has prioritized instant-gratification above wellness, and wholeness.  Then the “food” industry exploits our weakness for a profit.  Rise above the distractions, and consider the vast variety of foods we were designed to eat.  It’s a blessing to have access to so much  in this country!  Gratitude.

Who doesn’t CRAVE to feel, look, and perform better?  Eating a primal diet doesn’t mean you are on one side of the fence or another.  Instead, think about it as walking down an avenue leading toward prime wellness.   There may be stops or turns along the way, but you can’t wait to continue the walk!  It is not a tedious trip on a balance beam.

You aren’t going to undo the foundation you are laying with one bad day.  Or one bad week.  Zoom out from your daily grind, and take a look at the bigger picture.  And, when you stop by here, see us as a resource for clean meals, ideas, and encouragement, and keep a perspective of flexibility.  There are so many media that will make you feel totally inadequate, and it can deter you from even caring.

I hope we are a boost for you.

Enjoy your journey!
Leigh and Heather

Primal friendly bake sale treats

29 Mar

I love any opportunity to cook or bake for others. When a bake sale comes up I usually jump at the chance. This one was a bit challenging for me since I gave up honey for Lent, but a great exercise in willpower nonetheless!

Here are two easy options sure to please both kiddos and adults, while not compromising your inner desire to free the world from processed sugar and grains. It’s a shame my own kids picked out cake pops instead, but hey—remember it’s all about balance!

1. Almond Flour Honey Sweetened Trail Mix Cookies

  • 2.5 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter, or ghee) melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first three ingredients in large bowl. Mix together vanilla, melted oil, and honey and combine with the dry ingredients. Fold in remaining ingredients. Roll into small balls, flatten slightly and place on parchment lined baking pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

For some versatility:

  • Forego the honey to make a savory scone type treat (did this on accident once and was pleasantly surprised with the results!)
  • Use any “trail mix” ingredients: dark chocolate chips, almond slivers, raisins, chopped apricots…..

2. Homemade Larabar balls

Original Cookie Dough Flavor recipe here. Try adding 1 Tbsp of coconut oil instead of the water for added richness, and to make the mixture stick better.

Mocha Cocoa Flavor

  • 2 cups nuts of your choice
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp coffee grounds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Pulse nuts in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until finely ground, and mixture starts to clump together. Form into balls OR flatten in parchment lined 8×8 pan, refrigerate 1-2 hours, and cut into bar shapes.

Happy Thursday,

Heather

Beef Bulgogi

28 Mar

Go ahead and double this recipe, then pop one bag of marinating meat in the freezer!

2 lbs sirloin tip roast sliced paper thin
1/4 c soy sauce
2 finely chopped green onions
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger, or 1/4 tsp dried ground
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/8 tsp pepper of choice

Mix all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag.  (If the meat is going on the grill, leave it whole, and slice after cooking.  If you are going to sauté the meat in a skillet, slice it in 1/2 inch strips ahead of time.)  Add meat to the marinade, and marinate–preferably overnight.

Grill or stir-fry in skillet with marinade…this cooks really quickly so watch it carefully…a little pink is okay!

Serve over thinly shredded cabbage.  I sautéed mine in coconut oil, then seasoned it by tossing in a few shakes of soy sauce, 1-2 tsps of sesame oil, and about 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds.

Garnish with limes and cilantro, and some red pepper flakes if you desire!

**My grocery store labeled the meat as for “Rouladen.”  Basically it is sirloin roast sliced paper thin.  You can see more awesome Bulgogi how-to photos here.  This recipe was given to me by my friend Amy.

Enjoy!
Leigh

Zaza ganoush

26 Mar

I set out to make baba ganoush for some company on Friday but realized a little too late that I forgot to buy eggplant.  I stared at the large supply of zucchini in my fridge (I was planning on making a big ol’ batch of zoodles this weekend!) and wondered if it would make a good sub.  Turns out it did!  Everyone devoured the final product and adoringly named it “zaza ganoush!” Another name option was “zuzu ganoush,” but that was just too close to the annoying hamster toys my kids strangely adore.

4 large zucchini
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Cube zucchini, add olive oil and coat generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter on foil lined pan and roast zucchini approximately 45 minutes or until tender. Take out of oven and let cool slightly. This step can be done far ahead of time if necessary or more convenient.
Add roasted zucchini and the remainder of the ingredients to food processor and pulse until nice and creamy. Add salt, pepper, and/or more spices to taste after initial run. (I’m notorious for adding a bit more of everything towards the end!)

This was delicious both slightly warm straight out of the food processor and chilled the next day. I admit to adding leftovers to jazz up my kale omelet at breakfast, my spinach and chicken salad for lunch, and scraping every last bit of the container with cucumbers and carrots for a snack all day! I think this dip/sauce has endless possibilities! YUM!

Enjoy,

Heather

Fat Loss and the Paleolithic Diet

23 Mar

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”

 “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”

I am not a doctor, or a dietician, or an exercise expert by any means.  My knowledge comes from what I have read and listened to, the seminars I have attended, and our personal results.  Not exactly an official expert.  Still,  countless friends have come to me, asking about weight loss through CrossFit/Paleolithic Diet.

Eating this way helped me to lean out–and remain lean–through the last three years, including a pregnancy and a year of nursing without ever feeling hungry or deprived.

But fat loss alludes some people who are trying this diet.

If you haven’t seen body composition results come quickly, here are a few reminders.

1. LEAN meats and vegetables, and healthy fat should constitute every meal.  Period.  Embrace your food as nourishment and enjoy the way it makes you feel to eat clean.

2.  Limit your snacks of nuts and fruit to 1-2 servings a day.  A serving of nuts is generally 1/4 cup.  So yeah, that means measure.  If you are not super hungry, skip them that day.  Listen to your body.

3.  Paleo baked goods (pancakes, muffins, granola, cookieslarabars, and all other “paleo” confections) are treats.  Treat=Cheat.  I understand they help you transition from the typical, American, 7-11 diet.  Shelve them if you are looking for quick fat loss.  They will inhibit your results, as well as keeping you on the glycemic rollercoaster.

I didn’t have my first paleo cookie until this year.  Now that “paleo” has become mainstream and more of a fad, there are tons of recipes that are delicious and tempting…be suspect.

4.  Avoid alcohol and other calorically-dense beverages.

5.  Keep moving.  In addition to your high intensity strength training, walk and bike everywhere as much as possible.  Avoid a sedentary existence at all costs.  This doesn’t mean becoming treadmill slave…unless you honestly just love gym time.  But embrace a “roaming” lifestyle.  Make long walks and easy jogs a routine.  Don’t tell me you don’t have childcare, bring them alongside.  They need it too!

6.  If you are not hungry, don’t eat.  A natural hunger signal is a growling stomach, regardless of our customary meal times.  Wait for the growl, it might actually take longer than you think.  Don’t worry, it will come.  Then, eat modestly and move on.  Don’t worry!  Because another growl will come in a few hours, and you will have another chance to eat!  Trust your natural signals, and allow your body to regulate itself.

7.  Ask yourself if you actually have “weight” to lose.  Are you trying to gain lean muscle mass and lose excess body fat, or are you dreaming of being an underwear model?   There is a difference between being fit and being SKINNY.  Skinny is a bad word.  It means weak.  It means malnourished.  It means deprivation and hunger.  I can tell you how to get skinny.  Private message me.

If you don’t have fat to lose, or you are in a place of maintenance, you can be a little more liberal about your fattier cuts of meat, fruits and nuts, “cheat days” and paleo baked goods.

Take heart, friend.  Even if you are not losing fat as fast as you would like, know that you are doing your body many more favors with healthful foods that give you tons of energy, boost your performance, and put you in the prime of your life.

Enjoy YOUR journey!
Leigh

Your Primal Family

22 Mar

Like we mentioned in our Paleo Pals post, it can be a challenge to switch to a primal lifestyle with children. Adults are generally open to trying new foods, understanding basic scientific research, and mustering up enough self-discipline to make some changes. Kiddos, on the other hand, are a bit more resistant to giving up mac-n-cheese for steak.  Too bad I can’t go back in time with my kids so they always thought a perfect snack was blueberries and chicken instead of Goldfish and fruit snacks!

An important thing to remember is to not to use the word diet with them. We don’t want our little ones to think they are on a diet or (gasp!) need to be on one. Present it with a focus on health and fitness, and in terms of what makes us grow up “big and strong”.  A dear friend’s daughter used to say “I don’t want that because it won’t make me grow big and strong like Daddy.” I have since borrowed the phrase for my family (although…I like to put an emphasis on strong Mommies too!).

Another simple thing is to ask your kids, “does it grow on trees or up from the ground?” OR “does it come from an animal?” Our kids love to answer these questions with excitement when asked, and feel super smart and confident when they know the right choice!

Balance is also key. Like we mentioned in our interviews, our kids are somewhere around 70/30 when it comes to primal/paleo eating. At home, the pantry is stocked with a variety of nuts, trail mix, applesauce, nitrate free beef jerky, larabars and dried fruit, and the fridge with eggs, fresh fruit, nitrate free deli meat, full fat cheese, leftover meats, and an array of fresh veggies.

Here is where we incorporate the wiggle room:  hot lunch at school once a week, birthday parties, special trips to McDonald’s (they are kids, they love it, they know it’s a special treat…and for me, their salads aren’t half bad!), flavored Greek yogurt, grain free waffles, Pirate Booty, homemade stove top popcorn (thank you, Leigh for introducing this to our family..so fun!), gluten-free cereals, and after dinner (did you make a happy plate?) ice cream or Easter basket treats. It keeps them happy, well-adjusted, and promotes compromise.

Some other good tips include:

-Have them eat some form of protein with every meal or snack. This can be eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and at the very least nut butter. It’s funny to hear my 5-year-old tell her older sister to “pick her protein” when she is begging me to have only a grain-free waffle for breakfast.

-When in doubt for lunch or a quick dinner, invest in some frilly toothpicks and roll up some nitrate free deli meat, cube some cheese, slice up apples and cucumbers, plate some carrots, bowl some nuts or trail mix, and serve with a friendly Ranch dressing. My kids deem this our “sample tray” lunch or dinner, request it often, and devour it within minutes.

-Talk to them about how they feel after eating too many sugary snacks. We have had this discussion many times post birthday party when tummies and heads don’t feel right, or bathroom issues persist the next day.  Encourage them to understand the concept of “what you eat today–walks and talks tomorrow.”

-Start with the family dinner. Make it 100% primal, make it fun, and eat it together. If we make the right choices in front of our kids, they will eventually follow suit. I see this a lot not only with food, but fitness too. When they see me training, or coaching other women in the garage they beg to get involved and work on their box jumps and tricks on the rings!

If you are sold on the paleo/primal lifestyle, it seems given that you would want to fill your children’s bellies with the nutritious foods they deserve. We see many people who are believers but not quite capable of getting their kids on board. Perhaps out of fear? Organization and planning?

Fill us in on what is holding you back. Or, fill us in on what has worked for you and your family. We can lend an ear, shed some light, and share the love!

Since we got a lot of great feedback on the lunchbox post a few weeks back, I’ll leave you today with another week of packed lunch ideas. It’s up to you whether or not to fill the tiny treat square. It keeps my first grader coming home with every last brussels sprout eaten, and that makes me a very happy mommy!

Enjoy, and we look forward to your feedback!

Just say no to flip-flops

21 Mar

My husband showed me this video from Mobility WOD a year ago and proclaimed that we should never wear flip-flops again. I didn’t think much of it at the time because we were living in California, and I selfishly did not want to give up sporting my Chacos year round.

Fast forward to next Spring. My feet have been in some form of boot or shoe for the Winter and when the weather reached record highs this week in NY, I caved and broke out my Chaco flips. Let me tell you….after yesterday, I’m going along with my husband and never wearing flip-flops again.

A couple short walks to and from my kid’s school lead to random “charley horses” in the arches of my feet for the remainder of the evening and slightly swollen ankles.  I have a feeling my body was trying to tell me something!

I encourage you to check out the video, but this is basic run-down of what happens to your feet when you wear flip-flops:

you clench your toes to keep your shoes on plantar fascia at the bottom of your foot shortens  calf muscles get tight and stressed  ankle mobility issues  achilles pain  knee pain  sciatic nerve pain

I’m not telling you to forego your flip-flops all together, but maybe save them for walks from your beach chair to the pool this Summer. Below are my favorite ways to beat the flip-flop blues and save my feet and legs for more important things like 400s, box jumps, and burpees!

-Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers
-Toms (they have nice “air conditioned” versions new for Spring and ballet flats!)
-Chacos with the back strap
-Converse Chucks
-New Balance Minimus
-Keen Sandals with the back strap or full heel
-Going barefoot in my yard or short jaunts to the park on clean streets
-When in doubt, do the toe test (if you scrunch your toes at all, search for a model with more support!)

Happy Spring,

Heather

Weekend Ethiopian Feast

16 Mar

ethiopian doro wat

It seems appropriate to share a recipe that compliments yesterday’s post.  I don’t know a lot about Ethiopian food, but I’ve really wanted to try some for a long time!  I have done some research on making traditional Doro Wat, and found it to be somewhat complicated because of the process as well as the obscurity of the ingredients.  So, I used what I have learned to create this recipe.  I wanted it to be a relatively simple process and hopefully I have not sacrificed too much flavor or authenticity.  Whether or not it is perfect (someone please let me know if there is a way I can improve it!) the flavor of this dish is so rich and multifaceted.  It is savory, spicy, mildly sweet with those hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and fenugreek.  It is fun to eat piping hot inside the warm bread, topped with the curryness of the cabbage.  Oh. My.

What’s more, Doro Wat is so inherently primal!  I love the way you use chicken, pretty much every spice in the rack, then you top it off with some hard boiled eggs.  While I did not have the ingredients to make traditional Injera, which contains grain anyway, I used my favorite simple coconut flour crepes as a sub, which was still delicious.

My friend Jill’s tried and true Doro Wat recipe is one for the slow cooker.  It is very similar to the one I made, and if you prefer using the crock pot, you should definitely give it a try.

Here is what I did.

To start with, many Ethiopian foods contain berbere, which is a mixture of spices used in various ways, from seasoning stews to sprinkling it on buttered toast!  Not only is pre-mixed berbere not easy to come by, but it is prohibitively spicy for the average American palate let alone a 6 year old’s.  So I created my own.

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Berbere:
UPDATE:  
Berbere is now easily available through our favorite source for spices, Penzey’s!!  But it will be pretty spicy.  If you are concerned about the heat level, my recipe (below) is very mild.

3/4 c paprika
1/2 c chili powder (this was originally written as cayenne pepper. Um, not happening for my kids!)
2 T salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric

Mix all the spices together, store in an airtight jar.

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Doro Wat:

2 large onions, diced
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 tbsp oil (I used grapeseed)
4 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 can diced tomatoes
6 tbsp berbere spice blend
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
4-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
cayenne pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, sauteé the onion, garlic and ginger in oil about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.  Stir in the salt, berbere, and diced tomatoes.  Mixture will be thick.   Add the chicken breasts and mix well.  Simmer (you should only see 1-2 bubbles per second) on low for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender.  DON’T OVERCOOK!!!  Stir often.  When the chicken is finished, toss in the hard boiled eggs.  Season with cayenne, or pepper of choice to desired level of spiciness.

doro wat

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Cabbage and Sweet Potatoes:
(this was absolutely insanely good!) 

1/2 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1  1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Heat the oil in a pan, and sautee the onion and ginger until soft.  Stir in salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric, and cabbage.  Cook another 15 minutes, stirring often.  Add the diced potatoes, and cover.  Cook, stirring often, until potatoes are soft. Reseason if necessary.  I used probably twice the amount of spice but I like things strongly flavored!
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 “Injera” (coconut flour crepes!)

4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients well.  I had to add a few teaspoons of water to get the batter to thin a little more.  Heat griddle to 350 degrees.  Pour about 1/4 c batter to a tortilla-size onto griddle, and cook like pancakes.

Plate the Doro Wat and cabbage, and fill the crepes with both the chicken and the cabbage.  Eat up!

Enjoy…with gratitude!
Leigh


A Prime Pursuit in Action.

15 Mar

You never know what God may be wanting, waiting to do through YOU.  Just by the fact that we are living in the United States, many of us are afforded the means through which we can do big things.  I have to admit, the big things I think about doing usually involve furniture, online shopping, and travel.

But if the means God has provided you could serve a greater purpose, what would that look like for you?

Anyway, as an army wife, I have the distinct privilege of living amongst scores of selfless servants.  People have given blood, sweat, definitely tears, limbs and lives in the prime pursuit of freedom, and it is humbling.  I can walk down my street and feel overwhelmed to the point of tears knowing each family’s experience of service has cost them so much.  This is truly an unrivaled atmosphere of service.

The Army lifestyle is inherently time-consuming, transient, nomadic, and high-risk.  So,  it is particularly remarkable when you see Army couples choosing to rise above these complexities, and respond to a calling requiring even more sacrifice:  adoption.  An opening of home, heart, and wallet, for the sake of a soul (or souls) needing nurture and opportunity.  I have three friends I would like to introduce to you, each who has gone the extra mile in every sense of the phrase, and adopted children from Ethiopia.

These couples epitomize what we are trying to highlight here at our blog:  following through with something hard, costly, and potentially risky in pursuit of something greater…in this case, orphans who are born into such startling adversity.  They have graciously granted me the privilege of sharing their awesome stories!

I asked them each 5 questions:

1.  What was THE deciding factor that caused you to finally go through with international adoption?
2.  What was the name of the agency you went through?
3.  What was one unexpected joy that has come to your family in adoption?
4.  What was one unexpected hardship?
5.  What is your favorite Ethiopian dish/recipe?


Meet the Post Family.
 
Riley, Michelle, Ellie, Saedi, Isaac (left) and Solomon (right).  Michelle and Riley live here at West Point.  Riley has served multiple combat tours in his career, and is currently an instructor at USMA.  Michelle is a wise, strong and fast, creative, homeschooling mom with a huge heart for family. 
It’s too hard to peg one deciding factor regarding our adoption decision.  God had been stirring in our hearts for years; finally Riley and I were on the same page at the same time.   (That took 3+ years/ timing of deployments to get there!)  We went with Christian World Adoption for Solomon and we are using Bethany Christian Services for our current adoption.  One wonderful joy is seeing how well Solomon and our biological kids love, rely on, help, and miss each other.  The biggest hardship when it came to adopting was the amount of stress the 2 years of paperwork and waiting put on our marriage.  Regarding Ethiopian foods, we love the popcorn that they serve with traditional coffees.  We love the pastes they make from lentils as well.
 

Meet the Coen Family:

Marshall and Jill, Silas (right) and baby Jude.  Marshall is an Army Chaplain and Jill is a loving, hilarious, super active mom with awesome style.  They currently live at Fort Hood. 

We always wanted to adopt but when we realized the need, at the time an estimated 147 MILLION orphans, we felt time was being wasted and children needed families.  We went through America World Adoption.  We not only received the blessing of a fabulous son, but we also have an entire culture and country we love as our own. Ethiopia is now part of our family’s DNA.  It’s hard to look poverty in the face, but once you see it you cannot ignore it. Overwhelming, yes, but realizing you have to treat people the way you want to be treated propels you forward.  I constantly ask myself, “What if that were my child, my sister, etc that was starving?” It’s our responsibility to help.  Hands down, Ethiopian coffee is the best in the world! Doro wat is my favorite dish.

Meet the Kick Family.
 
Andy and Veronica Kick are another outstanding family here at West Point.  After serving many years in the operational environment, Andy is currently teaching chemistry at the Academy and he and Veronica head up the AWANA program, which is a huge undertaking!  Veronica homeschools her children: Mark, Maryann, Matthew (pictured), and baby Madelyn.

God specifically called us to adopt. We were not sure how it would work or if we really wanted to adopt but we knew God was telling us to adopt immediately.  We went with Gladney Adoption Services out of Fort Worth, Texas.  We were extremely pleased with the agency especially once we saw their work in Ethiopia.  We love seeing our children all loving on each other and playing together and embracing adoption. Adoption now is part of our lives and we love that. When our daughter pretends she is a mommy, she has adopted babies as well as babies tucked in her shirt.  At the same time, we never could have anticipated how difficult the sibling bonding and parent-child bonding would be. Our social worker told us that is can take five years or more!!!  We like the the beef stew (Key Wot) and injera.  

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Aren’t these women’s remarks moving?!!  I just love seeing people who pursue beyond the creature comforts of our American lifestyle.  While I personally don’t feel called to adoption right now, I am certainly reminded that there may be a wealth of experience that God wants to offer us, if we just are willing and open minded to remain open and free to respond to his call…even if it adds “complications” to your life.  What looks like complication and inconvenience on this side of the fence might just be misconstrued judgments; what you will really get is insight, wisdom, depth of relationship, opportunity, experience.  

I am not that old, but one thing I have learned in my 31 years: family is the most important thing.  Your impact in your family, and by extension, the world around you…is more profound than your skills in folding laundry!  

Do you have a hard thing in front of you that is calling you to action but it seems too big?  Whatever you do, don’t make the decision out of fear.  Ever.  You never know what amazing things might happen if you choose to allow God to use you.

 Stay tuned to my next post:  An Ethiopian meal that is so flavorful and easy you won’t believe it.  

Introducing…Paleo Pals!!

12 Mar paleo-pals

Having children puts an interesting twist on following a paleo or primal lifestyle. We receive a lot of questions regarding how to implement it with young children, and it is not always an easy task.  So, with great enthusiasm, we introduce you to a great tool for teaching your kiddos about the paleo lifestyle.  Sarah Fragoso, author of Everday Paleo blog and cookbook, and founder of Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness, recently published her first children’s book, Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship.  The book provides a great platform from which to present the paleo lifestyle to children.  You will certainly close the book with newfound motivation and confidence as a parent, knowing you are pointing your children in the right direction for nourishment and wellness from a young age.

The scenario: A young boy named Jimmy deems his paleo dinner “oopity goopity” and refuses to eat it. The Paleo Pals swoop in and take him on a super hero journey, Charles Dickens style. They show him where unhealthy processed foods are made, where you can find healthy paleo foods, how to have fun cooking paleo style, and how great you can feel when you eat paleo foods.

First of all, she had our kids attention at “oopity-goopity” and it got even better from there:

Things we loved:

  • Balances the complexity of paleo with the simplicity required for young readers
  • Illustrations are colorful, bold, and attractive to kids of all ages
  • Helps children to feel that our lifestyle and food choices are mainstream and established in everyday society
  • Portrayal of the processed-foods factory was dark, scary and smoky
  • Portrayal of the farmers market was vibrant, scenic and fun
  • Small “science” lesson on how paleo foods make your tummy feel better
  • Pointed out that kids performed better in all areas after eating paleo lunches
  • The list of paleo-approved foods and kid-friendly recipes at the end of the book
  • Specific tips on involving your children with the recipes…”Kid Jobs”
  • Exciting yet simple recipes for busy families. The apple “sandwiches” and pancakes are so tasty and have tons of kid-appeal!

Things our kids loved:

  • The carrot rocket ship that transported the Paleo Pals on their journeys
  • The fact that is was based on super-heroes…period
  • The phrase, “oopity-goopity”–they would just not let this go
  • The fact that Jimmy’s family “eats like we do!”
  • The Paleo Pals and Jimmy working together to make the paleo soup
  • The kids doing handstands at the playground
  • The P shirts “hidden” under the clothes of the kids who ate paleo foods
  • Chanting out paleo-approved foods at the end of the book
  • The colorful recipe pictures–especially the coconut milk ice pops and the kabobs

Suggestions:

  • The dialogue was long in places, and younger eyes began to glaze over.  A shorter board-style book geared solely for 3-5 year olds to accompany it would help.
  • An adolescent version with more of the “science behind why paleo is better.” This would help older children take ownership of their diet and help them fully understand it for what it is worth so they can walk in confidence, despite potential questioning or even ridicule from their peers.
  • Let “oopity-goopity” come full circle at the end with something like, “turns out the factory processed food was oopity-goopity, huh?”
  • Address the reasoning for the absence/scarcity of dairy in our diets in future adventures
  • Not sure how Kindle publishing works, but we found the iPad and Kindle versions hard to read for children. The text was segmented, and the pictures were small.

Overall, it was a fantastic book and we give Paleo Pals five strips of bacon! We are all looking forward to future adventures with the Paleo Pals. Congratulations, Sarah, on your accomplishment in publishing this book!  You have certainly paved the way for us and other paleo/primal families. We look forward to carrying out the ideas in your book and spreading the word!

You can find and purchase Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship here.

Below is our own little Paleo Pals inspired Prime Pursuit family field trip to our local winter farmers market and our lunch prep afterwards:

A love of fresh herbs can start at a young age!

I want some beets, Mom!

Five cheers for paleo foods!

Check out those fun looking mushrooms!

Little ones can help add spices and stir

Older kiddos can help peel and chop!

Carrot and parsnip fries

Carrot and parsnip fries with easy tuna/spinach burgers

Our best to you and yours,

Heather and Leigh

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