Bacon and Sweet Potato ‘Pie’

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We all know how important breakfast is – paleo or non paleo. The days of me eating sugar laden muesli with low fat, extra sugar yoghurt, and thinking I was being healthy and not understanding why I was hungry again in an hour – are gone.

And while I love eggs, I also love variety and experimenting. So one Sunday, on food prep day, I pulled out the ingredients I had in the fridge and pantry and thought about what breakfast concoction I could make for the week.

I had done muffins and a frittata recently, had run out of zucchini for a slice and, well just wanted to try something new.

What I ended up making, was a sweet potato and bacon pie. It really is a frittata, looks like a pizza but either way tastes delicious!

The ingredients I had and used were below –

  • 1 cup diced smoked paleo ‘speck’ bacon
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato
  • 1 container of cheery tomatoes – quartered
  • ½ cup green beans diced (again you can use whatever you have here)
  • Fresh oregano (you can use whatever herbs you want)
  • 1 x can coconut milk
  • Salt & pepper
  • 8 (approx) smiling eggs

The paleo speck bacon I got was from Cannings butchers. It has no added sugar or nasties in it, and can also be kept in the freezer. If you are a first time eater of this, make sure you crisp it up in your cooking or it can have a rubber taste. I leave my skin on, but you can remove if you would like.1271850_10200846452538487_255684771_o

Method –

  • Melt your coconut oil in a large pan and add your bacon. Fry for a few minutes until it start to get crispy. Add your sweet potato and fry together until bacon is cooked and crispy and sweet potato is soft and almost cooked through.

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  • Grease your dish, (with coconut oil) I used an oven proof dish that has a lid and can be used for casseroles and other such delights. Just find one that suits.
  • Line the bottom of the dish with some of your cherry tomatoes. Leave enough for the top of your pie.
  • Once the bacon and sweet potato is done to your liking, add to the dish over the top of the tomato.

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  • Meanwhile beat your eggs and coconut milk in a separate dish with salt and pepper and oregano. If you like you can add extra coconut milk to help thicken, or even almond milk – get creative!
  • Add the green beans to your egg mixture and stir to combine.
  • Pour egg mixture over your bacon and sweet potato in the dish.
  • Place the rest of your cherry tomatoes on top of the egg mixture, season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Cook in a moderate oven, approx 180-200 until egg is cooked through.

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Enjoy!

The pie also freezes well and travels well – I took a piece on board my flight to Perth recently.

Again, you can change this to include onion, garlic and herbs or vegetables you have.

Cooking paleo is all about being creative and combining flavors that works, so have a play. Google, and then change/adapt/adjust as needed.

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The Primal Challenge Day 30 – The Finale

Day 30. The final day. I’ve been putting off writing this post for as long as I can. Probably because it is officially the end of the challenge, and I’m not sure I want it to be.

My procrastination has led me to tackle my own version of chewy mocha power balls (no berries, a few extra dates) and a double serving of frosty fruit smash. I then ate half of it and put the rest in the freezer – I’m still worried about Friday’s skin fold test.

I wanted to make the paleo banana bread recipe, but my sister in law did and ate four pieces of it in one day, so I’m a little scared. You know my track record with other backed paleo goods. And nuts.

Lizzy told me today post WOD she felt posting the MODs each night was therapeutic, and she would miss it. I guess I feel the same way about my blog posts.

I started the idea for my first post when the voice in my head that often talks to me seemed to make a little bit of sense. You know that voice that often tells you what you should and shouldn’t do? Well mine often says it in a more colourful way, and sometimes rather than just saying yes or no, entire paragraphs of often useless drivel and one sided conversation ends up swimming in my head.

The beginning of the 30 day challenge  – something so new to me given I had never tried to cut out any food before, let alone multiple food groups – seemed to ignite that voice in my head and send her on a sugar fuelled drive, so much so I had to get it out.

Just as Lizzy did with her MODs, I found the writing therapeutic, and it was a simple way to reignite a very rusty passion and habit for writing.   I never expected others to like it, or to follow or to share it, or to comment. Or that on day 28 a random Crossfit Rookie News website would pick it up (where were you day 1?!).

So I know I don’t want that to be over.

But most of all, I don’t really want the 30 day challenge to be over, because I’m slightly scared of what I will do when it is.

There is still that bottle of wine (or three) in the fridge. Right next to the ciders and the beer and the mixers ready for the gin and vodka. I never normally drink during the week (when I am at home – if I am travelling, out to dinner or just out for drinks of course this rule does not apply) but there is part of me that is worried I might bust out a vodka on the rocks the moment I’m able to.

A few ears still remain of the Easter bunny that was eventually cracked open on Sunday night. I almost want to eat them now in case my husband gets to them first. I have the fear of missing out – a stupid fear – like there are no more Chocolate Easter Bunnies in the world. Like normal rabbits, they seem to be quite effective at multiplying and running around in other peoples gardens when not wanted.

And a few Tim Tams – the original, not those that have tried to catch up with crazy modern times and added more sugar to the already existing overflowing amount. There are a few of them left too.

The wheel of double Brie cheese is almost calling my name from here.

I don’t think I really want to eat these things (well maybe only a little) but once the word ‘challenge’ is removed from this entire clean eating gig, then my mental barrier which has been effectively blocking these nasties from me will be lifted, and maybe then I’ll return to my human self, loosing all superhero self control I had during the last 30 days.

I think that might be scarier than the primal fear I first felt.

So, reflection time. What exactly have a I learned/experienced/felt during these 30 days I hear you ask? Yes I literally hear you ask. Almost every day someone asks me if feel better, have I noticed a difference, has it been worth it.

So here it all is – sugar sweet, sweat and tears…

Lightbulb moments –

#1

I was VERY naïve when it came to some foods and healthy eating. As a 30 something who was actively exercising, and had friends who thought I was already on a very strict eating plan, I was in some way shape or form kidding myself.

Sugar is sugar, regardless if it is in chocolate cake or muesli bars. The entire time I was saying no thanks as others ate over stimulated Picnic bars (my ultimate favorite) or pieces of cake – and silently judging them for it – I was doing the same thing with my Carmen’s muesli, muesli bars, fruit, packaged soup and other no longer –never were – healthy foods.

Here Miss Sugar is no longer center stage. She has been reduced to a mere understudy in her now dirty and ripped tutu and doesn’t seem so attractive anymore.

#2

Sugar is EVERYWHERE.  I mean EVERYWHERE.  Hidden in much of what I had in my pantry and used every night for dinner, and then wondered why neither of us could loose any weight.  In case you think I am exaggerating, here is a list of where Miss Sugar hides, loitering in the curtains waiting for the main star to break her leg so she can take over….

  • Masterfoods dried herbs, including Lemon Pepper, Garlic Pepper Seasoning, Chicken Seasoning, Roast Vegetable Seasoning to name a few.
  • Tomato sauce – all brands
  • Fish sauce – most brands
  • Moist coconut flakes – yeah this little sucker almost had me!
  • All supermarket stocks
  • Premade pasta jars – a regular in my household before this
  • Most pre-packed nut mixes
  • Most ‘mixed fruit’ packages also include extra sugar – why I don’t know.
  • Most things that are ‘flavoured’ are not really natural and the ‘flavour’ is in fact sugar.
  • Most ‘light’ or ‘lite’ options
  • Salad dressings and mustards
  • Some herbs in jars (eg ground ‘fresh’ ginger)
  • Most things in jars eg curry powder, paste etc
  • Tinned foods – especially soup (did I mention this was my lunch most days prior to day 1?)

#3

Dinner can consist of food, real food, and still be satisfying without rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, quinoa, potato as a side option.

This one was hard to accept, because most of the above is – or was – a staple and favourite of mine.

#4

Corn is a grain. Yep I know, seems obvious – but I am blonde remember.

#5

Just because you are going through a learning journey relatively late in life, does not mean others are – so don’t presume their ignorance is as low as yours and preach to them if you want to have friends in the future.

#6

Eggs and smoothies keep you much fuller than sugar muesli and fat free milk for breakfast and you can never have too much bacon.

#7

Expect headaches, maybe a few stomach cramps or joint pains. Maybe that crazy voice in your head will scream at you so violently you want to poke out your own eyeballs with a spoon and swallow them with your hide the greens smoothie, or maybe you will just feel like shit for the first few days. It’s normal, deal with it.

#8

Don’t eat kale stems if you want a normal digestive experience the following day….

#10

Red wine jus – the only sugar coming from the red wine and balsamic vinegar – does not classify as a challenge fail. Paleo gingerbread – verdict is still out.

#11

You might like to ask permission to eat eggs at your desk in the morning before you warm them up in the microwave. Especially if in a communal office.

#12

Some supermarket eggs might look happy but they are not so watch out. Just because they have a smile printed on them, does not mean they are free range or organic, so check the packet carefully. Along with the coconut milk. There are many sneaky tricks talented marketers (like me) do to convince us the food we are buying is good for us, when really it is just crap.

#13

Paleo is not a dirty word – although the spellchecker seems to think it is (red line has been driving me crazy last 30 days).  It is a choice, not a diet, but a lifestyle for sometimes, often, almost always or every now and then. It’s a personal choice, and one that should be respected.

#14

It’s really not that hard. You can just say no. You look on the back of the pack, on the side of the jar, wherever the ingredient list is hidden and check what’s in it. Then you make your choice, and move on.

Hardest parts?

You probably want me to say laying off the booze.

For those that know me, you probably expect me to say laying off the booze (someone did ask for my advice on where to stay somewhere the other day as I would know all the local watering holes….) but really, I don’t think that was it.

Nor was it the often ridiculed, eye rolling, back handed comments and full face slaps I got during the 30 days from people like the pre primal me. Full of spite, bitterness, often a little resentful and mostly just very naïve and unaware.

The preparation was fine, I am an organised person by trade, and even though I love them, the potatoes didn’t even get me in the end.

Hardest part – worrying about not fitting in. By not taking that chip, or sitting on your hands so you don’t eat another olive because they are the only thing you can eat so you have had about 30 already, or not having that wine ‘just to be social’. Perhaps this is my own insecurities leaking through, but not being ‘normal’ or not ‘fitting in’ or being an ‘inconvenience’ and therefore making people unhappy was the hardest part for me, personally.

Oh, and the nuts. Of course, the nuts. That was pretty hard.

Best parts?

Well I have done a PB in both deadlifts and back squats – well above my own body weight – and I’ve improved in many other things too. Although still cant get a handstand….

I have a much bigger and better appreciation for real food. I no longer buy supermarket meat. Yes I used to. I tried to say it was a cost saving method, (please don’t judge me) and now get my vegetables from a market. My eggs are always smiling, where, ill be honest, before they were not.

Many, many new recipes to try at home for dinner and beyond.

My ranting, posting, blogging and talking to others has had an impact somewhere, even if only a few people. But I know of some who have actively made changes and just like I used to get happy feeding them poison, now I get happy by steering them away from it (don’t fear team, I will still bake for you).

Skin fold test aside (Friday people, Friday!) I’m sure there has been a difference in my body even if only on the inside.

The best part?

I did it.

Game set match.

I side kicked that stupid tutu wearing ballerina Miss Sugar and her toe dancing seduction to the no gluten and grain ground with little more than a few eggs. Well a lot more really, but I’m running out of stupid analogies and need to wrap this up.

The point is, the 30-day challenge is over and I’m a little melancholy because I enjoyed discovering more about real food, and I enjoyed writing about it and discovering more about myself.

So a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped or read my ‘boring blog’ along the way – too many to mention – but in particular Bec & Lizzy from Primal Junction, and those who encouraged, supported, and shared the 30 day journey with me, even those not participating formally in the challenge but ate clean ‘almost always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘every now and then’ or ‘most of the time’ (just lay off the banana bread for a bit Heidi) 😉

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The Primal Challenge Day 29

I have a confession to make.  Its day 29 and I feel like it is only right, with only one more day until this is officially finished, I need to get something off my chest.

It was over a week ago, and I would like to say it has been playing on my mind. That I have not been able to sleep from the guilt, that I regretted my actions. But in truth, I have been sleeping fine, (excluding the night I was poisoned) and there is no regret (excluding my nut habit).

It was at the girls Christmas party. Day 21. Remember the failed pudding, celebrity heads, the ‘your boring’ remarks and the self righteous ‘I didn’t even find it that hard’ comment.

I didn’t. Not at all.

Because, after the main meal, there was dessert. Fantastic dessert (not my failed pudding that is still hanging in the laundry, hoping it will self cleanse itself into something worth eating) but a range of homemade and store bought sugary goodness.

Ohhh dessert….. Rightly or wrongly, I indulged.

Yes that’s right. When it was all lined up on the table, the fudge, the chocolate, the gingerbread, the cheesecake, the fruit, and the nuts …. I ate something. And it wasn’t just the fruit.

I ate…..

No gluten….

No dairy……

Paleo gingerbread.

My beautiful and very talented ‘most often’ paleo friend with a passion for baking, researched, adapted and ultimately succeeded in bringing the moist, light, and I’ve never loved it so much in my life before, gingerbread before me.

Here friends is the recipe –

  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract
  • 3 c. almond flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Knowing I was not yet able to tackle molasses she replaced it with coconut nectar and took out the extracts and used a vanilla bean instead.

Amazing….

I ate two pieces. Or it might have been three. Either way it was too many and when I broke off half of another of the delight I begged her to put the rest away before I ate the lot. Thank god she did.

I can still taste the goodness of it now… well no I can’t, but I wish I could.

It literally was the answer to all my clean eating prayers.

Except of course on Sunday I went to Google and found that coconut nectar is still sugar and sugar is still not part of the 30 day challenge…. and so it wasn’t all that clean eating at all.

Fail.

I wrote about it on that Sunday. After I had shut down Google and stomped around the house in disgust and thought about how I could justify the coconut nectar. I even made a trip to the organic shop and purchased some (along with coconut flour, coconut sugar, organic vanilla essence, organic cacao powder and a range of – you guessed it – nuts) to see if by some miracle it had a low sugar content.

I tried to justify it to myself by saying it was like fruit. A banana was 55% sugar, and they are ok (in moderation) so why not coconut nectar?

I tried to justify it to myself by saying I had been clean on everything else in a borderline obsessive-compulsive way, that surely this one slip up (or three, it was three pieces) was ok?

But I couldn’t justify it.

I felt ashamed, and angry and a bit too full of self-pity.  Which is why I deleted my first attempt at a blog post on Sunday that talked about my subsequent failure. I didn’t want to admit it, because I still had over a week to go and if I had already failed then what would stop me from opening the flood gates and letting all the sugar wielding nastiness back in?

Angelic clean Stacey was on the ground and red wearing horned Stacey was holding her down with a pitchfork while she drowned me in fine white sugar.

So, if I’m honest, I failed the challenge. One way or another I fed my sugar addiction and I failed. On day 21.

But I picked myself up.

Even if I was not yet ready to admit it. And I got back on that clean eating bus, brushed off the sugar particles still stuck to my shoulders and went about the rest of the nine days as if they were the first.

I’ve tried almost every MOD Primal Junction has offered, and even some of my own or some from others with a slight twist.

I cleaned my pantry on the weekend and threw out and donated a range of ‘not clean’ jars of sauces and spices.

My pantry at work is (almost) empty of sugar full muesli bars and snacks – although a few of my colleagues are full of them.

I’ve spent hours researching food options and trying to find my own primal and paleo baked recipes to feed my habit of feeding others in a more clean eating way.

I’ve made my clean muesli and kept it in a jar ready for when I can introduce some good full fat Greek yoghurt back into my diet.

My freezer is full of frozen banana’s, my homemade stock- both chicken and beef –  pumpkin soup and some Cannings meat (wanted to get that last discounted order in).

My fridge is full of kale and organic eggs and broccoli and 3 C’s salad and speck paleo bacon and empty of ‘light’ yoghurt and milk (although there is still that double cream full fat brie cheese wrapped up on the top shelf).

My breakfast is either zucchini slice, frittata or bacon & egg muffins and is the envy of the office.

Today I even took home all my nuts from work, not one remains in my filing cabinet. I made another trail mix using more seeds and coconut flakes along with the berries and the nuts. And then I put it all in a tall glass jar, keeping only a small (very small) green container out that I can take to work tomorrow  – my last ditch attempt at curbing my nut snacking.

I’ve even tried to stay off the fruit for the last few days, only having it in smoothies and nothing else.

Although, I did fail on that tonight too when I found a ‘one mug paleo cake’ recipe.  Ingredient list below, I excluded any additional sweeteners or mixes that the website says you can use SURELY that is ok?

  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons almond butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons cacao powder

Side note – quite nice, but a little dense. Can be bitter, and not as good as a oven baked cake. Suggest a few drops of water to keep it moist or less cacao powder based on the size of your banana. But overall a good quick option if you need something extra to keep your mind off the passionfruit gluten free but still full of sugar cake your husband is eating next to you on the couch. 

I have influenced others at work who are also making their own muesli and protein balls. Even a ‘crossfit cult’ believer has been converted. My sister in law lives clean most of the time, and shared a great paleo banana bread recipe with me and a few good chicken curries. I’m taking my husband to paleo places for breakfast (although he still ensures there is bread) and cooking us the same meals at night with no complaints.

I sorted through my wardrobe on Friday and had three bags of clothes I needed to donate, or sell or thrown out. While some were based on fashion changes (what WAS I thinking??) others no longer fit. I had to pack away 10 pairs of pants I had only just purchased at the start of the year as they were too big (couldn’t quite bring myself to throw them out yet just in case).

While most of the weight loss is thanks to an increased exercise regime when I found crossfit (I was already exercising five days a week before I moved to the sport, which gives you some indication of the intensity) it will be interesting to see if any of it is thanks to the Primal Junction, Primal Challenge.

I’ve done all of this in 29 days.

You realize I am still trying to justify the paleo gingerbread?

Either way, it’s an accomplishment.

Like a child in the lead up to Christmas I’m counting down.

Two more sleeps.

I’m not sure why I’m counting down, maybe just to say I’ve done it, that I succeeded (lets look past the red wine jus, the paleo gingerbread and the gravy poison sauce shall we?). Maybe to see if there really has been a difference. Or maybe just because I really would like a glass of wine to celebrate.

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The Primal Challenge Day 22

Like any normal Sunday this one was spent preparing my food for the week. I say ‘normal’ but really it has only been three Sunday’s and apparently you have to do something between 21 and 28 times to make a difference.  Regardless of that, my Sunday saw me making and eating food.

 First off was my own chicken stock, (receipe thanks to Sarah Wilson) so I was sure it was sugar free. I used an organic chicken and simmered that baby for over six hours with some lovely aromatics like onion, salt, pepper, celery and carrot.

While the chook was on the go, I moved to the slow cooked rib recipe courtesy of Jake, although I did have to change a few ingredients thanks to my now almost empty vegetable supply.

When the stock was simmering and the ribs were slow cooking I headed over to Mum’s for a roast pork lunch. I took my own vegetables – parsnips and sweet potato roasted in coconut oil, and steamed green beans and tried to not ask if the pig had been roaming free in a grass paddock or was trapped in a cage being chased by needle holding farmers pumping my pork full of preservatives.

Either way, lunch was delicious. Although when the hot homemade apple crumble came out for dessert I declined, and had to waive away my mother’s protests.

There is nothing in here you can’t eat

What’s in it?

Oats, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, apples, a bit of honey…

So the only thing in there I can eat is the cinnamon and some of the apple.

We’ll try the zucchini slice then.

You put flour in that too. That is gluten.

It’s only a little bit.

It doesn’t matter, just like when Grandma put a ‘little bit’ of bacon into the vegetarian quiche – then it’s not vegetarian anymore.

No word of a lie. My grandma did actually put bacon into her quiche she had made especially for my vegetarian sister, and then got angry when she wouldn’t eat it.

No, it won’t kill us, nor will cutting off one of my feet, but I don’t want to do that either.

After lunch I returned to the safety of my own kitchen and tried to forget about my mother’s sighs and my brother’s jeers at my blog. He is sure nobody would want to read it, and does not understand why I am doing it, posting useless dribble up on a site when I’m not that interesting to begin with.

A pillar of support and constructive criticism from someone who has not read one post… but he is right, I’m not that interesting.

So I won’t bore you with details of how I emptied the vegetables from my stock, added them to the ribs rather than discarding them, shredded the chicken to use it in salads and lunches and dinners during the week and froze Tupperware containers of my primal paleo sugar free stock before moving onto my own version of egg & bacon muffins, let’s call them 3.0.

They were quite tasty, recipe below –  

  • 9 eggs (from happy, free-range chickens)
  • 12 long, skinny slices of bacon (Cannings)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 tin coconut cream
  • 1 onion
  • 2 spring onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil

Method via primal junction website.

I even made two with no bacon for my vegetarian sister in preparation for our road trip tomorrow.

My blog bagging brother gets nothing.

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The Primal Challenge Day 19

Two new learning’s over the past few days. The first, even if your husband reads your sms wrong and when you asked to turn the lamb shanks off he turns them (literally) instead, and they remain in the slow cooker for almost 20 hours – they still taste amazing.

Honestly, amazing. I was a little angry when I found out they had been left on (ok maybe more than a little, my ‘flashes’ of anger may have had a mob like mentality in this case) and was pleasantly surprised when the meat still fell off the bone and was not the ‘old boot’ I thought it would taste like.

Amazing. We ate with pleasure and even incorrect sms reading husband loved the entire clean eating meal, with the cauliflower and carrot puree replacing the mash staple that normally comes with shanks.  It was possibly my favorite clean dinner to date. And so easy!

Because I was feeling like I was on a roll, and I had almond butter, I whipped up the frosty fruit smash for dessert and put it in the freezer next to the low fat ‘light’ sugar filled ice-cream my husband would have for his dessert. It actually was pretty good frozen too and took me longer to eat which I think might come in handy at times when I’m craving something sweet and need my hungry mind and full body to synchronize.

I’m still excited over the lamb shanks because I kept two for tonight to eat before racing to the football. As a last minute request I got offered a few tickets in a corporate box for North V Blues and given I won’t be making use of the free food and drink almost declined. But by then I had forgiven said husband, and he is a Carlton supporter, and it means ill get to eat both leftover lamb shanks while he eats the gourmet finger food….

My second learning was that left over lamb shank sauce also assists to make amazing baked eggs. The pleasure of a new breakfast treat when you work from home and have the benefit of an oven! I took inspiration from the Primal Junction recipe but replaced the chorizo for Cannings new primal paleo bacon, added half a green capsicum, and along with the tinned tomatoes added in a decent amount of the lamb shank stew – tomato, carrots, garlic, zucchini, basil and oregano. Topped with two eggs it went into the oven and I was ever so excited.

The bowl was pretty big.

Actually it was enormous.

And I ate it all.

And loved it.

I could have had the bacon a little more crispy, and if I was on the dairy a bit of feta on top would have been a nice extra, but I loved it all the same. I’m not sure if it was the oversized bowl meant for two consumed by one, or because my trail mix was safety in the office filing cabinet but I did not need to snack once until lunch. I was full the brim (just like the baked eggs bowl).

I didn’t even think of nuts or sugar or fruit once. I drank water and my belly was full and I had another realization – maybe I just need to eat more for breakfast! Maybe my hands can hold more eggs and I just need to fill up a bit more in the morning!

To prove my point I made a baby spinach salad for lunch with tuna, avocado, capsicum and two boiled eggs bringing my daily total to four. I even boiled another one, he was the last in the carton and I felt sorry for him with no friends even though he was still smiling, so I prepped him for a snack later on.

My food wins today mixed with my recent massage at Revive Holistic Health, returning to CFHE and my physio treatment at Evolutio have helped me to lift my form and look at the second half of this challenge with a renewed focus and determination.

I know that sounds all Brady Bunch like and full of false bravado, but it has!

AND my constant sugar and primal eating talk continues to have a positive effect on others.

My previously mentioned sister in law sent me an inspiring message of her day 2 clean tasty monkfish red curry promising me there was no hidden sugar inside and that she even bought the coconut oil – I’m still waiting on the recipe and won’t mention the day 3.5 text you sent SOS style.

A college from work thanked me for breaking the “it’s inappropriate to eat eggs at desk rule” so she could follow suit and while wine was still a challenge as was the chocolate box she had to walk past every trip to the bathroom, her clean sugar free breakfast and lunches are going well.

Everyone is winning!

However, I do have to make a slight apology to my non-clean eating friends who will be attending Christmas in July tomorrow night.

Why you give someone on a no sugar and no gluten challenge a traditional Christmas pudding to make (apart from my fantastic recipe and baking skills) is beyond me. The care I provided to this ball of calico now hanging in my laundry before being boiled for six hours tomorrow was not what it should have been.

I ran short of currents, so just added more sultanas. I ran out golden syrup so opted for the honey. I ran out of brandy so used brandy essence. I ran out of mixed peel so just dealt with it.

Clearly I was not prepared or pumped for this wonder which is very uncharacteristically like me.

Apart from the fact I could not face another supermarket visit (almost every day this week is enough), I of course cannot eat nor taste the Christmas pudding. And while I would love everyone to love it, I figured by the time it is served tomorrow night a)everyone will be too full of food b)everyone will be too drunk to taste c)only half of the people going can eat it anyway and d)it will be drowned in brandy cream or ice-cream anyway.

Which (latest light bulb moment) means more than half of this big pudding will come back with me….

And I put nuts in it which means husband, nor brother in law nor sister in law can eat it when I see them on Sunday…

There is only 11 days to go, and pudding lasts for a long time…..

Shit.

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The Primal Challenge Day 13 & 14

The second weekend has come and gone and again I have survived! And while I ate like a cave man I didn’t hibernate like one. I went out – a few times, and took my new clean eating with me. Ok so no bars, just restaurants, so no real alcohol temptation – but still.

Friday night dinner  – no worries. Just give me a steak and a pile of greens and I would be happy. Thai was almost forgotten. I felt great for not drinking – well maybe just good – but it actually didn’t worry me.

When I ordered my food the slightly odd waiter with his thick Czech accent repeated it by saying (with a creepy smile) “I know what you want, steak, medium, salt, pepper, lots of greens, no butter, no oil, no gluten, no dairy…ok no worries. But one question, how you look like you do when you eat like that?”

It’s because I eat this way I look this way! I wanted to respond.

Because I have cut out sugar my skin is clearer, I did a PB in my last back squat, my arms are on their way to looking like Michelle Bridges, (random goal of mine) and my hair can last three to four days before I need to wash it (apart from the crossfit sweat).

And maybe if you tried it you would be able to too! I wanted to scream at him.

But I didn’t because he was bald, and slightly odd, and I hadn’t got my food yet, and in a strange sort of way he was trying to pick me up until a)my husband appeared next to me and b)an attractive brunette got his attention. Plus I don’t/didn’t want to sound like I have/had tickets on myself.

But it’s true. My skin really is clearer and for a 30 something that often gets a bout of teenage acne, this is quite a positive development and given the length of my hair, the less frequent hair washing is not only a big time saver, but also a big cash bonus.

That Friday night, my meal was actually the envy of the table.

Saturday (day 13) I replaced boxing with a trip to my newfound physio Alex from Evolutio, who has conveniently opened up a studio above the Crossfit Hawthorn East box.  Another bonus is Alex actually does and coaches crossfit so understands the sport and the movements.  Which also means he is not one of those physios who looks down on you, shakes their head with dismay and lectures you about how you could really hurt yourself doing crossfit for a full 20 minutes of your 30 minute appointment before actually treating you.

13 days in and I’ve well and truly turned into one of those don’t knock it till you try it people.

Saturday afternoon the Hawks came back with a great win (thank god) I snacked on a smoothie and some celery and carrot sticks, a few almonds and felt royally in control.

Although that control was short lived.

Carlton v St Kilda was only a few hours away and I was going (and was not really thrilled about it).

While my fridge was full of greens, my Cannings meat supply was out. The first inch of panic twitched in my legs when I realised there was not much in my old pantry I could mix with a salad and want to eat.

The supermarket (shudder) my only option.

I couldn’t face it myself so instead sent my now completely aware and strangely still supportive “although I think you are becoming obsessed” husband up with strict instructions.

Free range, organic chicken breast. Nothing added. No sauce.

Then to take my mind off his potential failure and my potential challenge doom I began my weekly food prep with Primal Junction’s spicy pumpkin soup recipe.

A SOS came in while I was still cutting the pumpkin.

Is it just free range or both organic and free range.

Both.

So not this Lilydale Chicken?

I don’t think so, what does the packet say?

At Lilydale, we are proud to farm free range chickens. 

All Lilydale chickens enjoy a nutritious, vitamin enriched natural diet; have access to the outdoors during the day and are free from growth promoters and antibiotics.

Hmm, nothing about what they eat?

No?

What’s the other option?

Inglewood Farms, Organic Free Range Chicken

That sounds better.

Its $15 for two chicken breasts!

Silence.

Are you there?

More silence.

Ok ill get this one.

And while we almost had to take out a second mortgage for my two chicken breasts, I must admit it was worth it. My thyme chicken salad was a winner at the football and so was Carlton meaning my husband forgot about the emptiness of his wallet with the happiness of the result.

Sunday (day 14) afternoon I watched others snack on party pies, sausage rolls and chicken nuggets trying to hold back the vomit in my throat (well not really vomit, but distaste) and every now and then popping in a snide comment about how much sugar was in their latest blob of tomato sauce.

Eventually after the third or fourth person glared at me with irritation, and about the same time the chocolate birthday cake was being cut, I stopped and let them enjoy their lunch.

Note to others – Please don’t let me turn into one of those people.

Light bulb moment and note to self – don’t turn into a superficial, high and mighty, and all judging pain in the arse. Its only day 14 and if you think you’ll never eat another piece of cake in your life, you are kidding yourself.

Then I prepped for the week. I prepped a lot.

I made two different smoothies (ok the first one didn’t last the weekend which is why I had to do the second), spicy pumpkin soup (but I used water no stock as i couldn’t find a no sugar one), bacon and vegetable frittata and a pot of clean pasta sauce with some carrot and zucchini.

My fridge was loaded and my freezer stocked, and I was set for this week. Week three!

It also provided me with another light bulb moment.

I don’t miss pasta – I missed the pasta sauce.

I tried the Primal Junction zucchini spaghetti recipe and hardly noticed my noodles were carrot and zucchini instead of penne or spaghetti. It was the rich tomato and garlic flavor with mince and Italian herbs that I looked forward to on Sunday nights and I still got that – all of that.

But I got it without sugar and without carbo loading on cheap wheat.

Why did I wait so long to try this?!

Oh that’s right I don’t have a julienne slicer and had to cut all my vegetables by hand which took me a long time, and before this challenge had no idea I could substitute pasta for something and still love it.

Perfect pasta without the penne!

Wining.

Plus when my sugar craving kicked in after dinner as others around me had strawberries and ice cream with chocolate topping for dessert I had a cup of left over smoothie and felt satisfied.

So Sunday night, the second Sunday night, and I was ready to face the week head one. Breakfast – frittata and smoothie, lunch – soup and left over ‘pasta’. Plus I had reserves for a salad if things went pear shaped and the other $7.50 chicken breast in the waiting  – better not leave that waiting too long would hate to throw it out and waste the home loan payment.

Primal Junction Challenge Day 14 which means –  I’m almost half way there……

Lessons Learned –

  • Don’t buy your organic, free-range meat from a supermarket if you want to pay off your mortgage this decade.

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The Primal Challenge Day 7

The rest of Saturday was a disaster. And I don’t use that term lightly. Well actually I do, but this truly was a supersonic shithouse Saturday.

The afternoon wasn’t so bad. I joined my sisters and laughed at my Mum as she modeled plus size clothing for a friends charity event and clothing auction.  She was wearing a size 12, so not really plus size. However when the designer told us that 65% of women were a size 14 and over, and less than 10% of labels designed exclusively for them, I wanted to point out that maybe a few of the 65% could benefit from a healthier, cleaner form of eating and maybe some exercise to broaden their clothing choice.

Not even the full 30 days in and already I am Miss Proud and Predigest, looking down at others.

I know, it was a bitchy thought and I probably only thought it to make myself feel better. I was even a little shocked at how quickly I had become ‘one of those’ people, preaching and looking down at others.

I pinched myself for being such a cow and tried to ignore how hungry I was.

During the break, where we were all encouraged to go through piles of op-shop rescued clothing we could purchase for gold coins that would help an African orphanage, I ignored all the homemade cakes on the table and went straight for the carrot and celery sticks.

Now I know I just chastised myself for being a bitch, but slight side comment – if those 14 and above sized women are healthy then good on them, no issue. But I tell you not many of them by-passed the chocolate biscuits and not one piece of orange cake was left standing after the first wave went by… In fact, the only friend’s carrot and celery had was me and even I copped a few elbows as the Grandmothers went after the homemade scones.

That night I was I off to the football. To the biggest rivalry we have each year. To Hawthorn versus Geelong.

For dinner I prepared a chicken breast no crumb completely paleo schnitzel from Cannings, and while my fellow footy goers stuffed theirs between some salad, a piece of cheese and a wholemeal roll, I substituted the roll for a bowl and packed a nice chicken salad.

I kept away from the bar. All night. Even as Geelong scored goal after goal and I pulled my hair out in frustration at our poor kicking and rushed decision-making. When my brother text me to meet him their at half time I declined. Too stressed over the game to discuss it amongst everyone else who held beers.

The worst thing was, even worse than the footy score – so yes it was bad – was the cramping and aching in my legs and hips.

I know I hadn’t stretched enough post boxing, and had really tried in CFHE WOD on Friday to use my hips (something all coaches know I am terrible at) but the pain that was radiating from my pelvis through both legs – the left in particular was worse than Tuesday’s headache and Friday nights sugar withdrawals.

Of course the football did nothing to take my mind off the pain.

I stomped and stretched and stood up and walked during each break – as much out of pain as out of nervous energy, but nothing would shake the ache.

I never even finished my salad.

By the time the final siren sounded and I had walked back to the car, I was almost limping and could barley stand on my left leg thanks to cramp.

And of course to make matters worse, I had just sat through my 11th straight loss to Geelong – which is always painful enough.

By now, I was seriously hoping it was all part of the ‘change’ my body is going through – and no I am not talking late puberty, early menopause or anything else you might be thinking –  but that it is some random side effect of something I am doing right.

Either that or I was being punished by some of the 65% of women who think I am a bitch.

I massaged some tension relief cream into my legs and managed to fall asleep around midnight, and thank god when I awoke a) I had not been attacked by some biscuit eating strange size 18 women, and b) the pain in my legs was gone.

The only downside, last night’s footy result was still well and truly one I could not forget.

So Saturday scared me a little. The pain in my legs and hips scared me, and my ‘too quick to judge’ attitude also scared me.

So Sunday when I again braved eating out for my sister-in-laws birthday and the restaurant served me a piece of whiting the size of my pinkie with a side salad for lunch and tried to charge me $18 for the pleasure of wanting to eat the rest of my hand off for hunger – I said nothing.

I swallowed the fish in two or three mouthfuls and had downed the salad before others had even received their meals.

Really? I waned to ask the Polish waitress as she came over to top up my mineral water. I mean just because I am Paleo doesn’t mean I eat like a bird, and we all know the saying – you don’t make friends with salad.

Instead I smiled and eyed off Nephews pumpkin soup that lay untouched while he threw a two-year old tantrum and wondered if they had added cream or potato to the mix and if not, was he going to eat that?

Maybe the Polish waitress was a size 16 in disguise or something, because nothing this weekend was going right.

For dinner that night I decided to take back control by the only way I knew how – to cook my own meals. Organic free range roast pork with sweet potato and salad. TICK TICK TICK and no need to think about eating my hand or arm or any other body part.

When my sweet tooth kicked in as tinned mangoes and yoghurt was served to everyone around me, I chewed silently on a green apple, and to be honest, was quite happy.

And then, finally, the first weekend of the 30-day challenge was behind me – THANK GOD.

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The Primal Challenge Day 6

Quote

Last night was the first time I really craved something sweet. And like the buzzing of a mosquito hiding in a dark hot summers room, once I noticed it was there it annoyed the shit out of me.

Dinner was fine. Left over lamb cutlets and salad. My mineral waster was fine. Everything was fine. But come 8pm I had an itch that was in desperate need of scratching. No matter what I had said previously about sugar and how it held nothing for me, that I barely ate it, could easily go without, the realization that I was in fact addicted to it in someway shape or form, came crashing down with a hard reality

I tried to keep busy.

Two loads of washing, paying bills, fixing the modem that Telstra has somehow blocked so my new iinet account cant work on it – yeah thanks – don’t think that fight is over, watching the football.

Nothing worked.

By 8:30 I was googeling paleo friendly dessert.

Oh and the tasty things that came up!

Dark chocolate cake, almond meal cheesecake, cookies, rum balls, even mousse.

All of these delicious delicacies only made my itch larger and fuelled an already blazing fire, for while these wonderful clean eating desserts were paleo friendly, not one was entirely clean enough for the Primal Challenge. Dark chocolate, maple syrup, they all called for something on the banned substance list.

I was almost a shaking, drooling mess by the time I found the pancake recipe.

Almond meal pancakes. And I had all the ingredients. I found my trusty pancake mixing bowl, tried to ignore the standard recipe printed inside and its call out for ½ cup white sugar, and mixed my paleo, sugar free pancakes consisting of almond meal, eggs, water and coconut, with a fever paced flurry and hint of madness.

The pan barely had a chance to heat before I was pouring in the first round blob of goodness.

As I watched the sides bubble and darken, ready to be flipped, I wanted nothing more than to flip the half cooked savior into my salivating mouth.

Instead I showed restraint and made myself cook all six of the darlings before even tasting one.

Then they were on a plate (or at least two of them) and I was ready to dig in.

They were a little dry.

And dense.

And the texture was not great, mostly due to the overexcited amount of coconut I used.

To be frank, they didn’t cut it and I was disappointed and my craving was still there.

And then I remembered the honey sitting only feet away from me, hiding snug in the pantry door.

All natural, nothing artificial added honey.

Could this be the one time my inner cave man found their honeycomb after months of searching?

I took the squeeze bottle out of the pantry door and smelt it. I even turned the lid and squeezed it a little to watch the liquid gold push up to the top of the bottle.

I knew this was not right. This was not ok. But still I wanted it so bad. And I can’t even remember the last time I ate honey.

Before I could dwell on it any longer I hid the honey back in the pantry and sprinted the ten steps to where my ipad was and quickly typed an SOS to primal junction.

Hi friends, can you please confirm if honey is in or out for the challenge?

I was so desperate I wrote it twice.

And then the news I had dreaded came back to me…

Hey Stace, for the challenge it’s out – we’re trying to get rid of the sugar addiction and your brain doesn’t register the different types, be it natural or refined – it’s all sugar! So you’re still really feeding that addiction. Try and avoid it if you can…sorry

I think I knew it already.

So with a sigh and a shake of my head, I went back to my dry almond meal sugarless pancakes. I forced down two with the help of a few frozen berries (if that’s not ok then shoot me now) and put the rest in the fridge for Saturday’s breakfast.

I’ll admit. I was not in a good way. I went to bed unsatisfied and didn’t even see the end of the footy.

Saturday was a new day. Boxing with a friend who since meeting Kacey at the Primal Junction clean eating seminar has taken up yoga at Kula, and then vegie shopping at Richmond market. Fantastic!

Boxing was tough. Tougher than the week before when I was fuelled by a white wine and Thai food hangover. Today my legs felt sluggish and heavy and by the end of the session even holding up the pads was hard work.

I remembered the week before where I was almost sprinting between the circuit to now where every step felt like I was walking up Mount Everest with a 40k pack on my back, and hoped this was just another phase in my body recovering and preparing to be the mean, lean fighting machine I had promised myself it would be come.

Post boxing I dragged myself to the market. I stocked up on kale, celery, cauliflower, parsnips, pumpkin, avocados (I think I got 10 in total from at least three different stalls just to keep the competition alive) lemons and lettuce. I only stopped shopping because my bag was so heavy and my arms so tired I couldn’t carry anymore.

Despite my failed pancake effort the night prior, I dragged them out of the fridge again and glared at them with determination. You will be tasty!

Two poached free-range eggs, four pieces of organic Cannings bacon, half an avocado later and they were!

Delicious!

So delicious I forgave them for last nights effort and promised I would give them another crack further down the 30-day line.

So delicious I had to cook up another serve for my father in law who came over just as I was finishing them.

So delicious I have already run out of eggs and bacon.

So delicious I pepped myself up, forgot about my withdrawal symptoms night before and vowed the rest of Saturday would be a new Day 6 day!

But again, let’s curb that enthusiasm. It’s lunchtime Saturday, and a big football game still to come.  I’m trying not to think about it, because frankly, it could just be my tipping point.

Oh Day 6 how will you end!?

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The Primal Challenge Day 5

Friday! The joy of the weekend – it’s so close I can almost taste it. Dairy free and gluten free and sugar free of course.

But let’s be honest, this is the first real challenge, the weekend. We have been skating around the surface Monday to Thursday thinking things were hard, complaining about not knowing what to eat, worried about a faint headache, thinking we were doing so well – or maybe that was just me… anyway, for me, Friday is the first test of real strength.

Friday is – I mean was – known as full fat Friday’s. Where sausage rolls were a breakfast staple and lunch was a $10 pizza and beer.  Friday dinner is normally white wine, Thai food and footy.

Hmmmmm.  Seems a few changes are needed there.

Saturday is normally a big post boxing breakfast that includes eggs (tick) bacon (tick) tomatoes (tick) avocado (tick) and bread (fail) all cooked in oily goodness (fail) and washed down with two ‘skinny’ lattés (fail).

Saturday night – more football, this time with a beer in one hand and a Coles bought chicken schnitzel roll in the other – I always thought it was better than eating Red Rooster or cold meat pies.

Hmmmmm.  A few more changes.

And Sunday is a family roast, complete with an overdose of nibbles and snacks prior, champagne throughout and dessert to follow.

Hmmmmm. Lots of changes. And I thought I was moderately healthy.

In preparation for my weekend war on processed food, I went to Cannings Free Range Butchers last night to shop away my sorrows with some good quality organic meat. I pre-ordered online so it was ready to pick up after work and Sam was very helpful. When I asked if the herb crusted chicken held dairy or gluten, he confirmed it did and swapped it for me to plain,  and then commended me on making a ‘good paleo decision’ thanks Sam!

I must admit, I got a bit too excited with the meat shopping. Again, scared of failing and not having something friendly to cook I shopped as if I was once again living with my Mum and five siblings instead of a husband and two dogs.

  • Short Rindless Otway Bacon – 250gm
1
  • Beef Casserole Cubes – 200gm
2
  • Chicken Schnitzel – 1kg
1
  • Lean Beef & Pork Mince – 2kg
1
  • Chump Lamb Chops – 140gm
4
  • Lamb Cutlets – 80gm
10
  • Lemon & Pepper Free Range Chicken Tenderloin Skewers – 10 Pack
1

Ooops.

But I highly recommend the lamb cutlets which I had for dinner last night, and taking a leaf out of Kacey’s organic tree, served them with sweet potato crisps (I had no parsnip) and a fresh salad.

Tomorrow’s post Leo Berry’s boxing breakfast will be replaced with post boxing fresh food market shopping – and if I feel strong enough a few poached eggs, bacon and tomato in one of the many organic friendly cafes’ on Bridge Rd.

Saturday’s night game will have one of the plain chicken schnitzels with a salad, and water instead of beer.

Sunday’s roast will be fine, with a few modifications, and no nibbles.

So food wise I am set!

But it’s not the food that I am most worried about. Again it’s the glass or two or three of a crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc I would have enjoyed on the couch tonight or over Thai with friends, that I am already missing.

Especially after the work day I have just had – hence the very late blog post while I eat my ‘lunch’. 

Plus the impending Hawthorn v Geelong footy game on Saturday night is already weighing heavily on my mind. The Kennett curse has bought me to tears more than once, and the stress of the game often causes me to dry retch – so much so everyone at work knows if it is another loss not to expect me in the office on Monday. Yes I know this is madness, but hey everyone has their vices.

Like my sister-in law who was doing her own form of a Primal Challenge and on Day 2 sent me the below text –

Crashed already. Just had a choc ice cream…..

Nooooo!

The reason I’ll never be skinny…..

 Unfortunately for her, I don’t think ice-cream is her only vice, but the love of food – all types of food (sorry Heidi, I’ll bake you that chocolate tart for the weekend to make it up to you).

And my biggest vice (excluding the Hawthorn footy club) is a few drinks on a Friday night to get the weekend in gear.

I can substitute food almost without worry – but why is it that a tall glass of soda water and lemon over ice does not have the same feel for it without the vodka?

What can I replace it with that has some flavor and tricks me into thinking I am unwinding after a long week?

Why does my constant winging about it make me sound/feel/act like a recovering alcoholic?

And why can’t Hawthorn beat Geelong!!!???

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