Seven Days to “The Plan”

Counting down 7 days to the start of The Plan!

As we prepare with tapering down caffeine and sugar (including Food-talk-4-u-waterartificial sweeteners) for the initial detox phase, we are left with what to drink…. So many people are adverse to drinking plain water. Maybe it’s because chlorinated city water is just not tasty; maybe because your well water has a bad taste. For me, plain cold water has never been a problem because we have great well water, but during the summer months especially, I do enjoy something a little more interesting. The lure of sweet tea may beckon, but we are not going there! No sir-ee!

With mint happily growing in my back porch garden, there is no better choice for me! Not only is it so fragrant, but it just gives such a flavor lift. Various other herbs can also be used in combination with fruit or citrus to create a delightful, affordable, and rewarding-to-make beverage.

Food-talk-4-u-lemon-1Making flavored water at home is like making a smoothie—you are limited only by your imagination. For the kitchen-challenged, this is a cinch; don’t worry. No boiling of water needed!

All you need is a:

  • glass container: a pitcher or large mason jar will be perfect
  • long-handled spoon – wooden or stainless steel
  • slicing knife for some recipes
  • water
  • ice

The method consists of:

1) preparing the fruit, herbs, and/or cucumber, adding to pitcher

2) muddling

3) adding water and ice

4) serving


Make sure the fruits and herbs are very clean of bugs and/or toxins.

Organic fruit and herbs may be the safer choice to avoid any residue of pesticides.

Muddle. Muddle. Muddle.

Muddling is the term for using the back of the spoon to smush/rub the leaves (especially leaves) and fruit to the side of the container in order to release the flavor-containing juices or oils. You do not want to muddle the fruit into a pulp; just enough to release the juice a bit.

Here is a list of possible flavor combinations and special notes for each:Food-talk-4-u-cucumber

1) Cucumber, mint, lime – slice a small cucumber into the glass container, add 1-2 sprigs of mint (I leave the mint leaves on the stem), and add 1 sliced lime.

2) Strawberry, lemon, basil – slice several strawberries into container, add ½ sliced lemon, add ¼ cup basil leaves.

3) Lemon – juice ½ of the lemon and slice the rest

4) Strawberry – slice several strawberries into container

5) Strawberry and basil – several strawberries, sliced with several basil leaves

6) Mint – 2 stems of mint (about 8 inches long)

7) Cucumber – slice cucumber into container, refrigerate overnight to release flavor into the cold water

Food-talk-4-u-strawberries8) Ginger – slice about a 1 inch piece of ginger onto cutting board and smash slices like garlic cloves before putting into container

9) Raspberry, lime – quarter 2 limes, squeeze juice into container and add the rest of the limes as well. Add desired amount of fruit; usually a handful is good

10) Pineapple, mint – add about ½ cup fresh cubed pineapple to the 2 sprigs of mint

11) Blackberry, sage – a handful of blackberries added to desired amount of fresh sage is good

12) Orange, mint – slice a whole or half of an orange and use desired amount of mintFood-talk-4-u-raspberry

These flavored waters should keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator, so make a couple different kinds if you want to make ahead.
There may be a desire to sweeten them, but concentrate on the wonderful taste of the fruits and herbs instead! Truly, a more mindful approach to eating and drinking can enhance the experience of any meal. Discern the flavors, what they taste and smell like, how they make you feel, or where they may ‘take’ you in your mind.
I have already been doing this but have also added some strong green tea to the brew. This will stop as I get ready to being totally decaf.

Because there is still residual caffeine even in decaf teas and coffees, the best scenario for the detox will be to be absolutely caffeine free! It’s only for the initial 10 detox phase, so I will be tapering down right away by cleaning up my flavored water.

Muddling is fun and the pitchers of flavored water are so pretty you could use them as centerpieces!


Getting Started: Putting It All Together


Okay, here’s where we put it all together! In the coming weeks, I will roll out 1) The Plan, 2) The Move, and 3) The Life.

Many people have expressed wanting something they can sort of wrap their hands around; something more than general guidelines about eating for health and more like, “Today, eat this and exercise like that.”

I am hearing you! Mark your calendars for Monday, July 7th as our official START DATE for The Plan!Food-talk-4-u-calendar

So, to start off, The Plan will give you details on how you can conduct your own ‘cleanse’ or detox to reset your metabolism, get your body back to basics, and allow your body to ‘rest’ from the constant barrage from the Standard American Diet. The Plan will keep you satisfied and full, and will assist your body in ridding itself of some of the toxins and ‘sludge’ that have been clogging up the works and making you feel sub-par.

Food-talk-4-u-superfoodsThe Plan will focus on: 5 ‘Superfoods’ for all ages in your family; being adequately hydrated in more creative ways than just plain water; enjoying food preparation with simple recipes that maximize flavors; how to incorporate simple additions to your food to strengthen bones; how to easily add fiber to your diet, and much more! The Plan will start with a 10-day detox period, followed by gradual unique-to-you additions over time, all within the definition of clean, gluten-free eating.

The Move will help you discover how to get more out of exercise byfood-talk-4-u-Exercise-Group doing less—just in a different way. Exercise can be the more difficult change for me to make, so I will be sharing what I have learned from various sources that all advise a different approach from the sweaty, gym-oriented, chronic cardio that this lady is just never going to do anyway! No more expensive gym memberships! Yay!

The Life will open up easily sustainable goals for a life-style that will help you rebalance your mind, body, and spirit, for a more natural rhythm of eating, moving, and being. Too often, today’s world pushes us to physical and mental extremes that are out-of-sync with our natural rhythms. Once you have made the decision to re-connect with your own pace, the daily ebb and flow of life will not feel so much like an artillery bombardment. Learn how to continually implement your new-found food and healthy life-style habits.

Health is a process. Each of us has a unique set of “issues,” but we all can travel the path to improved health together – One step at a time. Everything I will be describing in The Plan, The Move, and The Life, I will be doing, too.

Food-talk-4-u-detoxBefore starting the The Plan, we should go through a period of tapering now. The detox phase will be caffeine-free, sugar-free, grain, dairy, and alcohol-free, so we need to get ready.

Food-Talk-4-U-cold-turkeyIt’s certainly not a good idea to go “cold turkey” in regard to caffeine because of the resultant headaches; thus, the tapering off is needed. Even the moderate amount of caffeine I consume has to be tapered. I resist doing this! I love that little dab of caffeine; but I have learned that caffeine can adversely affect our hormonal balances, in addition to the usual ‘jitters’ and irregular heartbeats that come with ‘over-doing’ my favorite morning brew. So, ‘a tapering we will go!’

Decreasing the amount of caffeine we consume will also include Food-Talk-4-U-chocolatereducing caffeinated beverages of all kind (tea and colas) as well as chocolate. Pout! But abstaining from chocolate will not be forever
Other tapering involves sugar. That usually means colas. Oh, you use diet sodas? That can be exceedingly bad for normal hunger-influencing hormone functions as well. We’ll discuss creative water flavoring techniques in the very next post, but the colas just have to go. Again, this should be a gradual process as most colas involve caffeine. This is supposed to be a user-friendly experience, so ‘gradual’ is the best bet throughout this tapering process.

Alcohol. What is it but liquid sugar? Granted, there are many heavily cited health benefits to moderate wine drinking, but sugar is sugar. Additionally, just this week I learned that one alcoholic beverage can lower a woman’s metabolic rate the next day by up to 70%! Wow! Definitely not the drink for getting into shape!

Let me know if you are ‘IN!’ We will be doing this together! During the countdown to The Plan, I will be giving you tips on tapering and getting prepared. Join us as we commit to a 10-day detox and 20-day follow-up to reset our health – one meal at a time!

In health –



Starting Food Changes

Did you know that the mental approach we take when starting a change can actually predict our level of success? Food-talk-4-u-negativeA wise proverb that is proven time after time: “If you think you can you can; if you think you can’t you can’t.” Shut out the negative voices by understanding that YOU ARE in control of what you eat. YOU have total control of what food you put into your mouth! The past is the past. You are learning about an eating lifestyle that will leave you satisfied day in and day out. Stoke yourself with positive testimonials of others (Check out for the testimonials of those who have totally changed their lives through changing food choices). Learn more about the advantages of certain foods over others, and how some foods could be derailing your health by reading posts in this blog and the others that I share with you.

Food-talk-4-u-man-eatingBe kind to yourself! Dumping negative self-talk into your head is not what is needed. Rome was not built in a day, and the re-creative process happens one mouthful of delicious, healthy food at a time! Did you guzzle a glass of sweet iced tea? Don’t beat yourself up about it! Make sure you are prepared with other choices next time and, by all means, share your successes with others. Be joyful for yourself; you are doing a good job!

Now, how hard would it be to stop eating say, ice cream, when you Food-talk-4-u-candystill had a freezer full of your favorite Homemade Turtle Sundae, and everyone in your family was in the habit of having a nighttime bowl full AND you were the one dishing it up? Or how hard would it be to change from junk food snacks to eating healthier snacks such as avocado, nuts, veggies, or a handful of blueberries when every cupboard in your kitchen was bursting with chips, dips, pretzels, candy, pop tarts, sweetened popcorn, pizza bites, and the like?

Food-talk-4-u-lunch-crowdStudies have proven that changing behavior is easier and more successful if our environment reinforces our goals. The idea of controlling environment for success is not new. Parents always tell their children to associate with “good” kids; when those children get into trouble with their friends, parents insist they hang out with a “better” crowd. Similarly, do you want to be more positive about your job? If everyone in the lunch room spends most of their time bashing the boss or complaining about the customers, find somewhere else to eat lunch; seek those who are positive and who try to solve problems rather than just complain! So, to re-create your health, you will need to first re-create your food preparation environment.

If you are serious about ridding your body of gluten, clean out your Food-Talk-4-U-fridge-cleaningkitchen! Clue your family and friends into your reasons and goals for changing what you eat. Maybe they will join you! At least they should support your efforts if they truly care about you. Connect with others doing the same. Follow this and other blogs that support and edify your choice for change.

When I switched over to being gluten free, I gathered up a lot of pasta (whole wheat, mind you, because I was good—not!), flour, Food-talk-4-u-giveawayand various mixes for a donation to the local food bank. There were definitely mixed feelings about doing that—giving others what I considered poison—so you may struggle with that as well. The more I learn about gluten, I can definitely see how disadvantaged individuals are especially vulnerable as they fill their hungry bellies with cheap starchy products and end up smack in the middle of the “Diabesity” explosion. Thoughts for a different post….

Then to further control your food environment, plan for being away from home: bring your own snacks, order only the part of a restaurant meal that aligns with the changes you have made, eat before leaving home, or plan to eat when you get back.

So, you have cleaned out the kitchen from the offending products and have stocked your shelves with real food that is as close to its original form as possible (not highly processed). You have the support of family and friends who accept your choices and do not try to dissuade you from your goal. Best case scenario, you family joins you! Things have gone great for a whole week. You feel better, have a brighter outlook, and have even lost a couple of pounds.

Congratulations! Time to celebrate! Food-talk-4-u-celebration

Time for “an indulgence?” Time to go off your “diet?” First of all, what I have been describing in these posts is not a temporary “diet,” it’s a way of life. Does a former addict celebrate being clean with just a little “hit?” Certainly not! With food, this is especially true with gluten. I learned just yesterday so much more about gluten that I am wanting to share with you in a future post, but one thing I can share now is that if you are sensitive to gluten, the smallest exposure (a few crumbs) can set you back with reactions not just 10-14 days as I thought, but a full 3-6 months! This is very serious stuff!

Food-talk-4-u-pamperSo plan ahead for your well-deserved celebrations! Plan for a trip to the beach, picnic in the park, a massage, a mani-pedi, a movie, a bubble bath, a good book, or a new item of clothing that better fits your new, smaller self! But “rewarding” your sugar-free self with an ice cream sundae every “cheat day” is just re-creating the environment that made your body so unhappy in the first place! Keep to an environment that will support your continued success and reward your efforts without undermining your progress.

Eating smarter should in no way leave you feeling hungry or deprived. We have all experienced going on a temporary diet, we keep an eye on the end for a return to “normal.” In the meantime, we are always anxious for the next “allowable” food. Normal should always be good for you. Normal should always be bolstering your health: body and mind. This is a grand adventure in getting more out of life by eliminating foods that were never designed for our health!

To summarize:

  • Stay positive!
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Learn more about your food changes
  • Create the environment that will support your change. Clean out the kitchen and garner support from family and friends
  • Plan for when you are away from home
  • Plan rewards that reflect and support your change
  • Surround your mind with success stories and share your successes with others!
  • I love your comments! Please share your thoughts and suggestions; this will always be a work in progress to better serve you!

Please join our community by subscribing to this blog.

Until next time-

Clean Eating

So many terms are being bantered around in the food world that one could get lost. Maybe I can be sort of a weather vane in a storm of

There is the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is loosely based on the old Food Pyramid laced with the effects of highly commercialized food “products.” The Food Pyramid boasts whole grain goodness as its broad “eat mostly this” base and vilifies fats as sure killers. It is interesting to note that since the inception of the Food Pyramid model, obesity and diabetes began to skyrocket.

Mere coincidence?

Food-talk-4-u-whole-grainsWell, think about it. Grains are broken down and processed as the carbohydrates they are. Carbs are broken down by the digestive system into simple sugars. All carbs are broken down into sugar (glucose or fructose molecules). So, be it a whole wheat bagel or a piece of frosted birthday cake, the end result is sugar. To transport that sugar to body cells, insulin is needed. Any of that sugar fuel not needed at that time is stored as fat. While eating the carb-centric diet as outlined in the Food Pyramid, Americans were requiring their bodies to produce more and more insulin. After a while, being awash in insulin, our bodies become resistant to the effect of insulin—sort of ignoring it. However, our cells were starving for the sugar fuel and we were still hungry; so, we ate more whole grains. Can you see the vicious cycle this was, and is, making? Gaining weight and becoming diabetic. There’s a term for that: diabesity.

Insulin is known as the hormone of fat storage; and eating carbohydrates causes a need, not only for insulin production, but receptivity to its effects. As one who often suffered from frequent low blood sugar crashes, I mistakenly tried to “fix” things by eating carbs. True enough, my blood sugar would go up, but as all of that insulin took effect, my blood sugar crashed again. Little did I know at the time, cutting back on the (starchy) whole grain carbs with each meal would have normalized my blood sugar. I certainly know that now. I can return to low blood sugar crashes quite easily if I re-introduce starchy carbs- even gluten-free ones- heavily into my meals. Instead, I rely on protein and good quality fats along with low-glycemic colorful veggies and fruits to keep me on an even blood sugar keel.Food-talk-4-u-money

A word or two about “food products.” You know them. If given the long list of their ingredients, you could never guess what they were. A LOT of money goes not only into the production of those items, but extensive money and research goes into selling of them to us. It’s all about money; making money; making more money. Our health is not even on their list of concerns. Making a profit is the list.

Food-talk-4-u-clean-eatingEating Clean or Clean Foods is all about eating unprocessed food, as close to the original source or form as possible. This type of eating eliminates the highly processed oils, “food products,” and “Frankenfoods” such as pre-packaged meals, junk food (chips, cookies, frozen pizza, Pop-Tarts) in favor of real, identifiable food (apples, carrots, steak, tomatoes, kale….you get the idea). This might also be referred to as Whole Foods. Mind you, this also contains whole grains……

Gluten Free eating eliminates the inflammatory proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. Using simple gluten-free alternatives for common starchy foods such as bread, crackers, cookies will address the gluten sensitivity but not necessarily address maintaining balanced blood sugars or weight loss. Certainly, I have mentioned in other posts, gluten is also found in condiments; thus label reading is needed.

Paleo, Paleolithic, Ancestral Eating or the “Caveman Diet” are all terms used to describe how our ancient ancestors ate prior to the advent of agriculture. It could be described as “Clean Eating” or “Whole Foods” but generally without any grains, legumes, dairy, or soy. Refined sugar is out! The elimination of all grains (in addition to those with gluten) would mean no rice or corn because of other elements- phytates- that can cause inflammatory processes. I promise a future post on that.

So, do we obsess about what we eat? Does it become our 24/7 demon?Food-talk-4-u-oreo

I don’t think so. To me, just looking at the ingredient list of an Oreo cookie sends shivers down my spine. Talk about “edible food-like substances!” Isn’t it a natural instinct to protect ourselves? Turning away from poison should not be difficult.

Food-talk-4-u-dyesIt seems to be a no brainer, looking at the terrible upswing of obesity, diabetes, ADHD, auto-immune diseases and the like, that something has changed. We just haven’t gotten cleverer at diagnosing patients; we are creating those patients by how we have changed eating. Cleaner eating is certainly a part of the picture. We were not designed to eat food dyes, chemicals, or pesticides. But I also agree with the Paleo proponents who cite that our digestive systems just have not generally evolved to eat most grains. Eliminate them and you will feel a difference. Put them back after a month or two and you will return to feeling and looking sub-par. After cleansing your body from the effects of all grains, you could reintroduce non-gluten grains on a limited basis to see how you tolerate them.

Food-Talk-4-u-sweetnersIf you are just getting started in cleaning up what you eat, ditch the sugar first. It is so liberating to not pine for another sugar “hit.” So many people trying to do this simply switch to non-caloric sweeteners, but that seems wrong on multiple levels. How natural is it? Ok, there’s Stevia and the like, but to me, that’s like getting off of heroine by going on Methadone. So many never get off of the Methadone. Additionally, there are many studies showing those using artificial sweeteners actually eat more. See, the artificial sweetener is telling the brain that sugar is on the way; when blood sugar levels don’t go up; the brain sends the signal to eat in order to raise the blood sugar.

Guess you can’t fool Mother Nature!

The next post will be about how to optimize your success at making positive changes in your eating and exercise habits.

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It’s Sweet Basil Pesto!


Pesto can be such a versatile thing to have around, and making it at home is such an easy and rewarding project. I always plant some sweet basil plants each spring in anticipation of their abundant BASILgrowth and distinctive fragrance. With a tendency to over plant these prolific growers, I limited myself to just two plants this year and have churned out my first batch already after just a month of growth. Now that we are seriously in the growing season, there should be another batch in 2-3 weeks! Fortunately, you can also purchase fresh basil from the local farmers’ market or grocery store as well if you lack any from your garden.

There are several varieties of basil, each with its own signature flavor. The kind served with a luscious bowl of hot Pho in Asian restaurants is so spicy, and a wonderful flavor enhancer of that steamy noodle soup. The noodles are gluten-free, made from rice, and a part of the 20 in 80/20, Paleo eating described last week. Going to your local nursery, gently touching the leaves of the different basil varieties, and smelling your fingertips, will clue you into how they taste.

Recipes abound for pesto but they pretty much look the same to me. I can’t claim authorship of this universal combination of just a few ingredients. So here’s what to do with your harvest or purchase:

photo(11)Sweet Basil Pesto


2 cups fresh sweet basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup Parmesan, Parmesan-Reggiano, or Romano cheese, grated

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts

3 cloves garlic

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste – (I used not quite a ½ tsp. of Kosher Salt and about the same amount of black pepper)


photo(12)• Using a food processor, pulse the nuts a few times.



• Add the garlic cloves and pulse some more.



photo(9)• Add the basil and pulse until it looks like this.



•With the food processor fully on, slowly pour the olive oil throughphoto(7) the shoot.




photo(6)• Stop to scrape the sides down and add the grated cheese. Pulse until combined.

• Add salt and pepper and pulse to




photo(5)• Float some extra olive oil on top to seal in the vibrant color



This should yield over a cup of fresh pesto for you to enjoy, give away, or both!

What to do with pesto?  Well…..add your fresh pesto sauce to:

– some zoodles (See Post) for a tasty side dish

– sautéed shrimp

– cooked chicken

– dip a piece of GF (gluten-free) bread into

– enhance GF sandwiches or deli meat roll-ups

– spread onto salmon before baking

– top any cooked veggie


Fresh pesto is a great thank you gift to your kind neighbor who watered your basil plants for you while you were on vacation!


Vacation Time Food and Thought


Well, it’s time for enjoying the great out-of-doors with folks looking Food-Talk-4-U-Hammockfor any excuse to party outside, grill, picnic, go to the beach for an afternoon or for a week, or just sit on the porch for some impromptu dining alfresco. For me, whatever I am doing, it’s always better being done outside in the fresh air! That novel is just so much more pleasurable to read with a gentle breeze and the bountiful sounds of nature all around. That afternoon nap is infinitely better when on a porch swing or hammock while being lulled to sleep by the buzz of the cicadas and the songs of the birds. Quiet conversation is more personal somehow when shared in the open air. Pauses in the chatter are totally acceptable as we tune our minds and hearts into the pulse of the nature around us! Unplug from all of the devices we surround ourselves with and plug into the hum of all that is natural for the best vacation possible regardless of location.

Food-talk-4-u-dinner-partyWherever we find ourselves enjoying nature, family, and friends, it is still possible to have a good time and yet not throw away all we have gained in cleaner eating. Every mouthful is a choice. “Is this food or drink going to do ill or good to me?” There does not have to be any sense of sacrifice or deprivation if we surround ourselves with good options depending on our individual goals.

Most everybody in the Paleo community is very content with the 80/20 rule. As I explained in the last post, in addition to being gluten free (which is the first step in improved health for many), people eating according to the over-all definition of Paleo also exclude the rest of the grain world, legumes, possibly dairy, and sugar in favor of (preferably) free range and grass fed meats, eggs, fish and seafood, with plenty of vegetables, some fruit, and good fats found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.

Well, so what does that look like when you are in the 80 zone vs. theFood-talk-4-u-strawberries 20 zone? It is such an individual thing! For me, even the 20% is always gluten free with some give and take on the other grains or a bit of sugar. Now and then there will be a small scoop of rice or quinoa, maybe a quarter or a third of a baked potato, hummus, or a sprinkle of sugar on some strawberries. Don’t forget birthdays; we usually share a gluten-free brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce at our local Outback!

I am so used to not eating or drinking sweet things that sodas do not even entice me, and southern sweet tea is impossible. Truly, getting off sugar is not that hard after just a few days, certainly after a week or two. It’s a no brainer. Certainly, if your goal is weight loss, sugar has to go… for the most part. But again, let’s not create Paleo “Nazis” or sugar “Nazis.” Life is to be enjoyed and it is no fun to be around someone who is a royal pain in the fanny at a restaurant by not letting their kids have more than a spot of ketchup on a piece of hamburger because of the sugar!

Last weekend, we attended a fabulous covered dish and BBQ at aFood-talk-4-u-bbq friend’s beach house. No real dietary sacrifices were made when eating fabulous Eastern North Carolina pork BBQ! Mmmmmm! There were a few corn chips used to scoop up shrimp dip and taco dip; that was 20 zone corn, but that is okay. Veggies and fruit were on the buffet; no problem. The corn off the cob was great; into the 20 zone but all okay. And the dessert table was groaning of course, but I did bring gluten-free cake, oh-so-slightly sweetened sliced strawberries, and whipped coconut cream for topping; all gluten-free but certainly high on the starchy carb scale. I was happy. Left with a happy belly, too.

So here I sit having helped myself to several servings of gluten-free strawberry short cake during the week, but guess what? My favorite white crop pants do not fit!


Carb consumption is clearly something I must control- along with needing to tone-up more. Remember my article, “Gradual and Consistent?” Well, my personal goal is to work exercise into my daily routine. Starting off with a goal so small, it is a cinch to do and succeed, I have mastered a half plank each morning lasting for up to two minutes! Having learned the art of French brewed coffee, I do my daily plank during the last of the 4 minute brew time. Not much, but a daily success. I have learned that for goal setting, being as specific as possible with when-where-how directly correlates with success, so that brew time each morning is when I do my planks.

Now, I am going to return to my slow squats, kettle bell swing, and step up/down routine by setting another specific time to guarantee success. Slow exercises are actually more effective than rapid movements, I have learned, and they do not have to be repeated as often during the week. If you’d like, I will do a post or two on exercises; let me know.

So, is the beach calling? Instead of chips fried in “Franken oils” and aLobster on Ice Coke, at least grab some gluten-free pretzels, cheese, and green tea steeped with fresh mint! Grilled burgers are wonderful, but just don’t serve them with a bun; all of the goodies can go on top and forks work just fine! Egg salad on gluten-free crackers is a personal favorite; or tuna salad or chicken salad! Don’t forget some yummy avocado slices with lemon pepper on top! Pre-sliced carrots, peppers, and squash are tasty by themselves or great dipped in hummus (there’s that 20 zone). It is all good!

Have fun and don’t forget the sun screen!


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It’s Called Paleo!

While I actually prefer to describe what I eat or don’t eaFood-Talk-4-U-Cavemant, some people feel more comfortable with a name, a title, a moniker, if you will. Okay. It’s called Paleo – “Pay-leo.”  Paleolithic eating. Caveman diet, perhaps. Well, not if that conjures up images of a big club, saber-toothed tigers, and eating raw meat! Please! I am sitting here wearing pearls and sporting sandals with heels!

No, Paleo is a descriptive of how mankind ate eons ago, before the advent of cultivated grains, and certainly before the advent of today’s “Frankenfoods” that are unidentifiable from their long lists of chemical ingredients. You could call it whole foods without the gluten and lectin from grains, and legumes to kick-start unhappy bellies, inflammation, or leaky gut. A time without added sugar.

Why would anyone like to eat like that? Well, judging from the robust health and physical structure of the Paleolithic peoples, we could learn a thing or two. Such as… the Paleolithic people were taller, stronger boned, had better teeth, lived longer, and had no precursors to modern day aliments or diseases compared with the Neolithic peoples who followed them to become the first farmers. The poor farmers who had all the cultivated grains and corn to add to their diets lived shorter lives, were shorter, had weaker bones, really needed to see a dentist for cavities, had higher child mortality, and showed many precursors to modern diseases such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancers. (1)

Hmmmm. But those Paleo people didn’t live as long as we do! Right on! They also did not have the benefits of modern medicine, emergency departments, or hand hygiene. Taking a bad fall could spell the end of the Paleo man, woman, or child, without clean dressings, antibiotics, or an x-ray machine! Clearly there would have been little opportunity to be careless in everyday life, lest the family unit become jeopardized upon the death or injury of one member.

Food-talk-4-u-chickenSo- life without Pop Tarts, Hostess Twinkies, Frosted Flakes, Oreos, Coke, frozen pizza…”Egad!” What’s left, you may ask? Try (free range and pasture raised/never corn fed) meat, poultry, eggs; fresh fish and sea food; vegetables; roots; fruit in season; nuts; seeds. With our amazing cooking methods, equipment, spices, and flavorings, you are looking at totally wonderful food with endless variety!

More-over, such a diet plan will never leave you hungry or feeling deprived. Such a diet is high in protein, good fats, (as opposed to the “Frankenfats” of today which are highly processed), lots of fiber, and is not dependent on starchy carbohydrates which cause blood sugar, (read: insulin), problems.

It’s a process. Is all of my meat pasture raised? Not yet; some, not all. But I buy the best I can; a local market is carrying pasture raised ground beef. That’s a beginning, but I am not sure it is “pasture finished” meaning they did not add a bunch of corn to the animal’s diet before Food-talk-4-u-cows-in-pasturemarket. Remember, corn is used to fatten animals, not to make better protein. We have to look for animals raised outside of the feedlot conditions of massive production facilities so they are more humanly treated and not given hormones and unnecessary antibiotics. The day-to-day stress hormones of the feedlot life are transferred to the meat we eat along with the injected hormones and antibiotics. That is one link to some of the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, and crazy hormone imbalances in people.

But, still; what do I eat? Okay, here is what my plate looked like a couple nights ago:

Lamb shoulder chop, bone-in

Avocado oil (used in the pan)

Salt and pepper

Curried coconut carrots

Coconut oil (used in the pan)

Sliced carrots (4 medium)- I used my food processor to make even, thin slices

Sea salt

Curry powder to taste

Unsweetened coconut flakes

1-2 Tbsp. water to help steam with lid on after stir-cooking on medium heat

Brussels sprouts with cranberries and prosciutto:

Prosciutto – 2 to 3 slices torn into small pieces

Sliced Brussels sprouts (1 bag)

Ghee (used in the pan)

¼ cup dried cranberries

Sea salt

1-2 Tbsp. water to help steam with lid on after stir-cooking on medium

What about special events? Parties happen, folks, and I’ll be there! Always gluten-free, though.

Food-Talk-4-U-Strawberry-ShortcakeLet’s see; the party this past weekend featured some of North Carolina’s finest pork BBQ, (I passed on the hush puppies), and there were salads, veggies, deviled eggs (that’s what I brought), and fruit. It was great! But I really wanted to “par-tay” so I whipped up a gluten-free cake (thank you Betty Crocker), sliced some strawberries with a pinch of sugar, and whipped coconut cream to top it off! Yum! Was there sugar? Yes. But a minimal amount. Were there some chemicals in that cake mix? Yes. But it was gluten-free.
“Ya gotta’ live!” Life is about balance, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! I came with a happy belly and I left with one; gluten-free does not mean deprivation. Paleo is not limiting.

My dinner on the grounds of Tryon Palace last night while waiting for the NC Symphony to play for us consisted of left-over deviled eggs, some tuna salad, and- ta-da- some of my strawberry shortcake. Pretty good eats for me. I passed on the cookies that were offered; not a problem. I was full!

• Mark Sisson, The Primal Blueprint and Robb Wolf, The Paleo Solution