Sorry I haven’t been posting – I’m so busy during the holiday season!! We had a great Paleo Thanksgiving with Sherry & EJ – Sherry wrote a nice blog post on what we had. Sherry picked the recipes and Kenny made three of them – the cranberry sauce (which was declared the best tasting cranberry sauce he’d ever had), the green bean casserole (the cream of mushroom soup made as a base for the casserole was delicious on its own) and the sweet potato casserole. Everything was delicious and out of 9 adults attending, 6 of us are eating Paleo.
I treated myself to some honey cider but I did skip the Paleo desserts Sherry made. All in all, it was delicious and just as satisfying as any traditional Thanksgiving meal. And even better, I still stayed on track with my weight loss!
Speaking of weight loss. I had a few weeks of negligible weight loss. I wasn’t getting discouraged but was eager to keep losing weight of course. Due to a crisis at work, the team I am on had to put in some extra hours. The project lead was feeding us but one day it was pizza. I gave in and had 2 slices of pizza – the first I had had since July. I even caved under the stress and had a donut and a kolache. I thought I had doomed my weight loss for the week but I in fact I still lost weight. In fact, I think it helped bump me from the virtual standstill because in the weeks since my transgressions I lost almost 3 lbs. and reached another milestone of mine – losing 25 lbs.
So, I am encouraged once again and feel good that the Paleo diet is still working for me. That despite not meal planning like I should be due to the holiday craziness (and eating out more than I should), I am still on track and losing weight at a steady and healthy rate. I have minimal cravings and I am thrilled that I have been able to keep some dairy (mostly cheese) in my diet without adverse effects. I look forward to maybe being in the 170s for our holiday party this weekend and I can’t wait to wear a cute a fitted dress that shows off my 27+ lbs lost! It’s a nice way to start my 43rd year (my birthday is next week).
I recently had my annual exam and I asked my doctor to re-do my blood work because I was curious to see if and how my numbers had been affected by the change in diet. This page and this page helped me understand my numbers a bit better. Here they are:
Cholesterol / HDL Ratio (reference range 3.90 – 5.80)
Oct 2016: 3.28
Oct 2015: 5.08
I was within range but on the higher end. It’s nice to see the number drop to the low end of this range.
Cholesterol LVL (reference range <=199 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 151 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 183 mg/dL
My total cholesterol has always been in an optimal range but it’s nice to see it drop further.
LDL (optimal range <=99 mg/dL) (“bad” cholesterol)
Oct 2016: 84 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 105 mg/dL
My bad cholesterol was just above the optimal range but that has now fallen to within the best acceptable range. Woohoo!
HDL Cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) (optimal range >=61 mg/dL; moderate if it’s between 40-60; at risk below 40; women should have it higher than men at at least 50)
Oct 2016: 46 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 36 mg/dL
My good cholesterol always seems to be too low and out of optimal range. It still is but at least it is going up and getting closer to a better number. Research tells me that the way to raise this number is to stop smoking (I never have), eating better (I now am) and cardio exercise. So I guess I need to work on that 3rd option, huh.
Triglycerides (reference range <=149 mg/dL; high is >200 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 106 mg/dL
Oct 2015: 211 mg/dL
This number was practically cut in half and I am now in optimal range – yay! I didn’t even realize I had been so high.
VLDL (reference range <30 mg/dL)
Oct 2016: 21
Oct 2015: 42
I had to research this a little. It’s a calculated not measure number but this article says it needs to be under 30. It seems that I was above that number last year but I am now in the optimal range. This is the 3rd number that went from being too high to falling into an optimal range.
In conclusion, ALL of my numbers have improved over the past year. I don’t have definitive proof of course but I think it is safe to say that the weight loss and change in diet I made in the past 4 months were significant factors in helping these numbers improve!
And bonus? Because of Paleo, I’ve eaten more bacon than usual and the numbers are still down – because as it is being shown, current nutritional advice is based on bad science and it’s a myth that food fat makes you fat and raises your cholesterol!
Here is another one of my modified recipes using bits and pieces from a couple of other butternut squash soup recipes – this one and this one to be exact. Using the InstaPot makes this super easy to make and will be perfect for the fall and winter. An immersion blender lets you blend it right in the Instapot (but a blender will work too).
I love the crisp taste of ginger and think the few slices of fresh ginger in this recipe gives it a wonderfully subtle flavor. Kenny also noticed the nutmeg and I think these two flavors work really well together. I hope you like it too.
BONUS TIP: We had some leftover shredded chicken from a store bought rotisserie chicken that we added to make it a heartier meal when we had it for leftovers.
- 1 butternut squash, ~4 lbs
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil or ghee
- 1/2″ fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 sprig of fresh sage, chopped
- 2 tbsp herbs de provence
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 can of coconut milk, full fat
- salt & pepper to taste
- Peel butternut squash, remove seeds and cut into 1/2″ – 1″ chunks.
- Use the saute feature on the Instapot and cook the onions in the olive oil or ghee until they are translucent.
- Add the butternut squash and all the other listed ingredients.
- Stir to mix things up, making sure to get the onions at the bottom mixed in as well.
- Now use the soup feature on your InstaPot. It should cook on high pressure for about 30 minutes.
- Once complete, use an immersion blender (or pour into a standard blender) to puree and blend the contents till the mixture is smooth.
- Serve! You can garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds or chives if you’d like.
I’ve been getting braver with my recipes… and today I took inspiration from a handful of frittata recipes to create my own version using what we already had on hand. I’m posting here my version to share and for me to remember my modifications for future reference. 🙂
- 1 lb spicy Italian sausage
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tbsp. fresh basil (mine came from my garden), chopped or cut into strips
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or 4-cheese blend (use fresh)
- salt & pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
- Saute the onions in ghee in an oven safe skillet – preferably a 10″ cast-iron skillet.
- Start browning the Italian sausage in a separate skillet.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the onions a couple of minutes later.
- Cook the onions & mushrooms on medium heat until the mushrooms are cooked through – about another 5 minutes.
- While the onions & mushrooms cook, whisk the eggs, almond milk, cheese & basil in a bowl. Salt & pepper to taste.
- Add the browned sausage to the onions & mushrooms (be sure to drain the oil before adding).
- Add the egg mixture to the onions, mushrooms and sausage mix already in the oven safe skillet.
- Place the skillet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- If you’d like to brown the top, switch to the broiler setting and broil it for another 3-5 minutes.
When we started this journey we cleared out our pantry and refrigerator of non-compliant items. That left us with a pretty bare pantry & fridge so with some research and various lists in our hands from paleo books and websites, we restocked with some basic paleo items.
As we rework our eating habits we also have to rework our grocery shopping habits. We live in sort of a “food dessert” with the nearest good grocery store several miles away. So now we plan our meals out a week ahead and hit the grocery store each weekend when we have more time and can go a little further out to the better stocked grocery stores. Right now our more traditional favorite stores are H-E-B and Sprouts, both Texas based chains.
If you live in Texas, then you will recognize the name H-E-B and Sprouts. They are the best grocery stores in our area and pride themselves on stocking high-quality items with a good variety of organic and locally sourced choices. That being said, they are way more accessible than a Whole Foods in terms of price. Between H-E-B and Sprouts though, although comparable in price, Sprouts loses out to H-E-B because they simply don’t have the variety since H-E-B carries all the big brand names you expect to see as well (neither Sprouts or Whole Foods does).
With that in mind, H-E-B is a good place to grab some paleo-compliant groceries. The list below is definitely not conclusive – it’s just based on a couple of our visits. The list is also for me to keep track of brands we have found that a) are paleo and b) we actually like. Reading through all the ingredients on so many items is time-consuming and such few end up being compliant that I want to remember the names!
So, besides a good beef, chicken, seafood and produce section with lots of organic (and grass fed and hormone free as they apply) options, H-E-B also has large gluten-free section but not much there since most GF foods have sugar or soy or rice which are not paleo. We did find the coconut aminos sauces in that section though so it never hurts to look!
Additional paleo items we have found:
- Hill Country Fare sugar free bacon – it’s the store brand with a blue label marked “Lower sodium”. No sugar but it does still contain nitrites.
- Pederson’s Whole30 approved bacon
- sugar free H-E-B brand prosciutto
- Volpini sugar free chopped prosciutto
- Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
- Nestle Pure Life Exotics Sparkling Water (we seem to prefer these over La Croix)
- various sugar free sausages – including H-E-B brand smoke sausage links
- Aidells Chicken & Apple sausage
- H-E-B brand organic mustard
- every type of flour you’d need – huge selection of Bob’s Red Mill and a few other other brands.
- Coconut Secrete Coconut Amino sauces (gluten free section)
- Larabars (health food section)
- sugar-free dried fruit
- freeze-dried fruit (health section – but it’s expensive)
- serve yourself bulk nut section
- pre-cut veggies & fruits
- Tessemae’s Salad Dressing (in the refrigerated produce section)
- H-E-B brand organic coconut sugar
- nice variety of paleo compliant frozen veggie mixes – Cascadian Farm Organic, Tommy’s Superfoods, Fire Roasted by Green Giant, Earthbound Farm Organic
Below is our haul from a recent shopping trip… Please excuse the beef links in the 2nd picture – they were bought at Costco – which I will write about separately.
If you are in Texas and shop at H-E-B, do you have any favorites not on our list?