Packing Paleo

You know it’s serious when you change your flight dietary preferences to gluten free.

I wish, to be honest, there was more than just a drop down. Perhaps a multi select box, or a free text field and that way I could add in the additions. Gluten free also means dairy free, but of course grains, potatoes, and sugar all find their way onto that small plastic wrapped tray of ‘food’.  If there was the option to choose more than one, I could have gone diabetic friendly also, and hoped that I was left with more than a rice flour sugar fuelled cake and a thimble of soy milk.

Ok, so there was more. A few bits of lamb, some sugar filled sauce, a pile of greens and some potatoes that I really wanted to eat. The only thing that stopped me from pushing them onto my white plastic fork was the fact that if I was going to break for the starchy goodness, they were going to be half decent, not microwaved pre-prepared plane potatoes.

There was also a box of sultanas and a tub of two fruits. Both claimed they were natural and healthy, and I think even sported the heart tick approval, but the nutritional panel on the back showed more than just goodness. Lots more. Like sugar more. Like 63.5g of sugar per 100 gram.

Of course its natural sugar, but over 50% of those dried things is a little too much.

I ate the greens, ignored the potatoes, picked my way through the meat, left the gluten free bread, tried to leave the juice behind and eat only the two fruits and succumbed to the coconut gluten free macaroon.

Half way through the four and a half hour flight when I was starving (after the same flight attendant who had previously provided my gluten and dairy free meal offered me cheese and biscuits and a packet of Anzac cookies) I popped a few of those dried grapes into my mouth and was surprised and shocked at how sweet they tasted. Too sweet. I had to stop eating them.

I should have just had the free wine that was offered. At least then I would have forgotten I was starving.

Travelling with such a long list of requirements is hard.

A day trip to Sydney, not so hard. You can pack your full lunch in one bag and not have an issue with excess luggage. You can decline the meal and not risk starvation, and even though the security guards look at you strangely during the bomb check, they keep their mouth closed.

A week trip to Perth, not so easy.

Before my flight like general Sunday afternoons, I spent cooking my week’s worth of meals. An oversized smoothie that I froze and added extra chia seeds in it to help it last the plane ride and beyond. Some chewy mocha balls to ensure snacks during the week were covered. A few pieces of the left over paleo gingerbread and three of my paleo banana and berry muffins. The standard nut trail mix and a few tins of tuna.  I even went so far as to bake a new paleo crust-less sweet potato quiche and while I froze half of it for my return, I took a piece of that too just in case I had to (god forbid) miss breakfast at the hotel one morning.

I know it sounds crazy. It looked slightly odd also.

All these Tupperware containers full of food going through security, getting put in the overhead locker as I was sitting under a bulk head.

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When my stomach was rumbling so badly on the flight, and I took out one of my muffins from the bag overhead, the passenger next to me didn’t know what to think.

Personally I think he was a little jealous. Mine looked much better than his frozen/thawed/sugar preserved cupcake.

I was hoping my muffins would make at least the flight trip, so before I could be tempted by anything else I packed them away and tried to forget about them.

But I am not that strange.  There are others like me who also pack paleo.

Nom Nom Paleo recently called out to her social media following remarking “I may not have time to pack any food for my flight tomorrow….”

She got 56 comments asking for help to determine where she could get paleo friendly food.

I got about 56 odd looks for packing and travelling paleo style.

But despite the strange looks and carting my containers from customer meeting to office, to hotel and beyond, I was glad I had taken the time to do it.

My Perth friends did remark they had supermarkets and organic shops over here (yes even Perth is not that behind, just don’t try to visit one after 9pm) which also helped to fill my stomach paleo style during the day, and let’s just say nights – well I tried as hard as I could… it was the wine that got me in the end.

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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 28

Last night I was poisoned. I’m not sure if it was deliberate or just a miss communication, but it happened. And I paid for it. All night, and most of the next morning.

My nervousness over going out for dinner seemed to have been warranted, perhaps it was my sixth sense or my third eye or perhaps it was just because we are so close to the end of the challenge I am more worried than normal about things going wrong.

The menu was different. That was the first thing. I had looked and planned and prepared and thought I knew exactly what I would change and what I could keep, but then it was different and my choice wasn’t there and sides I had googled to see what they meant were no longer an option and I was thrown into panic.

A specials menu was put under my nose and when the waiter came to take our orders it was so loud from the other side of the bar I could hardly hear what he was offering. It must have been the same for him because I had to repeat twice that I was no gluten, no dairy, and no grains.

He ran off to check with his superiors in the kitchen, like they all do. And I waited patiently, looking at the menu again. There were two options that from what I could tell would not cause much trouble.

  • Option 1 – beef shin with pumpkin, carrot and black cabbage (aka kale).
  • Option 2 – grass fed Black Angus with potato, salsa verde and something else I had no idea what it was.

There were pros and cons for each.

Option 1 –

Pros – looked like it was relatively straightforward and not much to change. Plus it was something different than the standard steak I had been ordering as the safe option when dining out.  I was assured it was both gluten and diary free.

Cons– when I asked the waiter if it came with a sauce, there was a flicker of uncertainty on his face before he had to run off and check again. When he returned, he said only what the meat is cooked in, its own sauces for braising.

Option 2 –

Pros – it was steak, which means you generally can’t go wrong with a steak. You can tell them how to cook it and what you don’t want on it.

Cons – would have to substitute the potato, put the salsa verde on the side and find out what the last part of the puzzle was. Plus I had steak all the time. ALL the time.

I chose Option 1. I took the risk. The sauce was a worry on my mind, but I again repeated to the waiter no grain, no gluten, no dairy and he assured me that all was good.

I ignored the comments from my fellow dinners as they apologized to the waiter for me being so difficult, told me I should just eat air (did they not remember their own diets and meal plans before they got married?!) and drank my standard mineral water.

There was that buzzing in the back of my head that continued to worry me about my food choice, and at one stage I thought about asking to change to the steak. Something felt wrong. But it was too late, and before I knew it our meals had arrived.

The plate was put in front of me and I straightaway knew I was in trouble.

Two large bits of beef. Great.

Some squares of roasted pumpkin. Fantastic.

Both resting on a bed of kale. Very happy.

But then, smothering, almost drooling off the entire dish, was the sauce.

And no, not just a sauce, a gravy if you will. A thick, onion based gravy.

This was not merely a meat sauce. This was not even just a stock. This, my friends was a guaranteed to be not on the challenge list of approved substances, sugar full sauce.

The waiter must have seen the worry on my face as he came rushing over straight away.

What’s your concern.

The sauce.

Don’t touch it, ill just double check it has no gluten and dairy.

He was off before I could mention anything about sugar levels and just as quickly rushing back to my side.

Defiantly no gluten and dairy.

Ok, but about sugar.

His eyes narrowed.

What exactly is it you can’t eat or your allergic to?

Um… I’m not meant to be having sugar either…

There was a pause. It was uncomfortable. Not just for me, not just for the waiter but also for my friends at the table and the rest of the diners who were by now obviously staring at us.

Is this a choice?

The once friendly waiter asked.

Um yes.

So you are not going to die if you eat it.

Not yet! I wanted to tell him. Maybe later, when my body is so clogged up with artificial sweeteners my heart cant pump anymore. But instead I shook my head.

No, I won’t die.

Stare down. The waiter versus embarrassed diner.

The waiter won.

 I’ll just scape it off.

And so I did. Full of humiliation, not enjoying one bite of the meal I scraped the sauce off the meat the best I could. I ate the carrots, the pumpkin, the kale and most of my meat.

I had made my choice. It was a failed one, and now I had to live with it.

Sure, I could have sent it back, asked and paid for another meal, made everyone wait for me to get it and most of me desperately wanted to. But the other part of me realised the mistake was mine, and not the poor waiter who took the order and scurried back to and from the kitchen.

I thought I had been clear.

When he took our entrée I said the only thing I could eat were the olives.

When we were offered a free round of drinks I said I was only on the mineral water, and when he asked if I wanted a soft drink instead I said no thanks, I cant have sugar. And when he offered me a pepsi-max instead, I simply smiled and said no thank you, no sugar, even fake sugar.

So why did he think sugar was ok in my meal, that sauce was ok, THICK sauce and how was it thick if no flour had been added to it?

After our semi-embarrassing stare down when taking coffee orders – actually taking my coffee order as the others continued to drink wine – he bought it not only with a chocolate biscuit on the side of the plate, but a small jar full of brown sugar.

I know it was loud in that place, and he had other tables but HAD HE NOT BEEN LISTENING TO ME SAY NO TO SUGAR ALL NIGHT!!!???

I almost forgave him because we sat there so long, talking over wine and mineral water that he finished his shift and clocked off before a bill was paid and a potential tip.

Not that I was planning to give one.

That night I woke up four times. I was restless, uncomfortable and unable to sleep. My stomach flip flopped all night and when my alarm went off at 8:30am rather than springing out of bed like I normally would have, my head throbbed, my mouth was dry and my stomach killing me.

I felt as though I had a hang over.

I had drunk 1.5 litres of mineral water over dinner so there was no way I should have had a thirst, or a headache, but I did.

I hadn’t touched a wine all night, but I was bound to the loo as if I had drunk the bar dry for most of the morning (sorry I know this is too much information but it is required).

I could hardly keep food down, and felt like I hadn’t slept at all.

Even my paleo breakfast at Palate couldn’t pep me up.

I’m not sure if it was just the sugar I know must have been in that gravy/sauce/poison, or if they had put corn flour in it and forgot that it is a grain and still a flour, or if there was something else, but my poor old stomach did not like it.

28 day’s of detox and my stomach can’t handle the slightest hiccup. Or maybe it never did and I just looked past it.  Or maybe I just guilted myself into being sick after not sending my meal back.

Just in case it was the meat, I text my friend who had the same meal, but of course she was fine. No stomach pains, no dehydration, no headache, no need to remain close to the toilet and buy an extra 12 rolls of loo paper from Coles. And she as the one who drank the bottle of wine.

If that gravy means I failed this challenge, then I failed myself and I have well and truly paid the price.  I don’t need anyone else to tell me, my body has said it all.

And if that reaction is just from sugar I know was in that sauce, although quantity unknown, then what will it do when I bust open the container in the fridge that holds a Tim Tam and the ears of an Easter bunny I have been saving for the end of next week? Or the drink I know I am going to have with friends on Friday night as they celebrate end of dry July? Or the yoghurt I am going to introduce next week to go with my clean muesli I had just made? Or the piece of full fat double Brie cheese I can’t wait to remove from the plastic wrap in the fridge and devour, because I cant seem to stop thinking about what I am going to have to eat post this challenge that I probably still shouldn’t have.

Day 28 and when I should be close to celebrating, I’m well and truly panicking.

The Primal Challenge Day 26 & 27

I’m never going Paleo. My exact words not even six months ago when I told a friend I was going to try crossfit. It’s a cult. She told me. I’ve lost another friend to the crossfit cult. Next thing I know, you’ll being going Paleo.

I looked at her, arched my eyebrows the creases in my forehead emphasized and with hands on hips scowled at her. I will never go Paelo. NEVER. I love potato too much, and pasta. And I drink. I could never not drink.  You know me. I told her. I believe everything in moderation, I don’t believe in cutting out foods, especially entire food groups.

Looks like I’m wiping off the remains of a happy smiling healthy egg from my face.

Not that it was planned. If you asked me in March when I eventually did try and join a crossfit gym (Hawthorn East was the second one I tried, the first almost put me off which shows how great the community is we have at CFHE) I would still have told you the same thing. I’m not getting caught up in this cult like mentality and never going paleo.

You know I think crossfit is a cult. Another friend told me at boxing this morning.

I can safely say, the cult like mentality is a myth. You can spend as much or as little time at CFHE as you want to. You can train as hard as you want to, as often as you like. I have seen a few come and go, then return. And there are the regulars too. The morning crew and the night crew come together on Saturday’s or at events such as the Primal Junction Seminar, or this Saturday’s screening of the Crossfit Games. But either way, no matter what group you fall into, each coach will remember your name and welcome you with a smile.

But unlike a cult, they also let you leave. After all, they have lives too – outside of the box.

I think most of my friends have also realised they haven’t ‘lost me’ to crossfit. I still go out, I still do ‘normal’ things. While I have been dry this July, I have still joined in social activities and I try not to talk about clean and jerks with non-crossfit people.

And the paleo….. well on that one I will be happy to eat my words. As long as they are sugar free, cooked with coconut oil and completely free range.

It’s not like I meant it. To be honest, I’m not sure what really drove me to sign up for the challenge to being with. But here I am day 26, and so far not really thinking too much about going back to the way things were before. I’m quite happy being paleo and have embraced it so much I’m meeting my ‘almost always’ paleo friend for brunch tomorrow at a paleo restaurant. I’ve even managed to convince my husband to join (although not sure what he will do when he finds out there will not be any bread on the menu, or tomato sauce to go with his eggs…)

Of course there are things I still miss.

Today when I was getting a coffee before my market shop I eyed off the buttery croissants and salted caramel tart with a little bit of envy.

And talk of potato’s still hits a nerve. Any potatoes. Roasted, mashed, smashed, baked. I love loved them all.

And corn. Steamed corn heaped with butter and salt and pepper. Yes it stuck in your teeth, spat juice in your eye and ran down your chin, but that was half the fun.

And cheese. Soft cheese, hard cheese. It was my favorite, all time snack or pre dinner staple when guests were coming. Not blue cheese, not even expensive smelly well aged cheese. Just cheese.

There will be a day I eat all of those things again. Just not today. Or tomorrow. Or, maybe, even after day 30.

And wine. I still love wine. And vodka. And gin. And cocktails. And because I’m strong enough to ignore the bottle of white in the door of the drinks fridge, and can walk past a bottle shop without walking in, I know I will drink again, and there will be times when I wont.

And I miss the flexibility. Of eating out mostly. At home its fine, and when I have control of my meals is great and I enjoy it and enjoy cooking something new. But when faced with a menu not that paleo friendly, it can be a challenge.

I miss being able to just order from the menu and not have your friends exchange glances and the waiter roll their eyes to the chef behind the menu when they think you cant see them. I miss going to the football and being able to pack a roll or order a hamburger if I got stuck  – although if Buddy Franklin is going to kick eight and the Hawks demolish the dons, i can live with having to take the extra time to pack my salad.

But back to the ordering out. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean. When they put on a fake smile and raise their eyebrows. Or they look you up and down before looking at the menu to see where you are pointing. Or they just look at you, and know no matter how much tip you are going to leave them, you simply are not worth the trouble.

If that’s the attitude they give me, like the waitress in the Geelong Edge restaurant on Tuesday night, then you get NO tip. I mean its really not that hard to change lentils that would be premade for a salad, to not put the dressing on and don’t cook with butter.

So don’t stare at me like I have two heads, or as if I am an alien from another planet, or as if I have just asked you to wipe my salmon on the bin, spit on it and then serve it to me.

I actually have asked for quite the opposite, for a CLEAN meal.

So let’s hope tonight, when I meet friends for dinner I don’t cop any anti menu change attitude. As the only one not drinking and already slightly stressed after looking at the menu given I’m not sure how I can change much of it, it will be the last straw. Even the steak comes with things I can’t pronounce which makes me worried. If I don’t know what it is, then how will I ask to change it?? And if I do, and they give me attitude, how can I prevent the eye rolling if I am already uneducated by something called chickpea zimino – cant you just say chickpeas with tomatoes and peppers? And if cavolo nero is kale, why cant you just print that!!??

Maybe this is why I said I was never going paleo…

 

The Primal Challenge Day 17

Just over halfway there, and I am well and truly in a mid season slump. Today I ate three pieces of fruit and wanted more. I’m stuffing nuts down my throat like it is my last day on earth and despite having a piece of frittata and a cup of smoothie for breakfast, my mind tells me I am hungry by 11. Which there is no way I should be – I’m not even training and getting up an hour later!!

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking wow, three pieces of fruit… but the recommendation is two per day and I gauged, and I’m not sure if it classifies as a challenge fail, so I’m overly disgusted and upset with myself.

Ok so the pieces were small, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. It was a shared fruit platter, so not like I ate the entire lot, but I did feel guilty.

Ok so I’m leaving out the 10 red grapes I also ate.

See – mid season slump.

I only had my lunch three hours ago and I’m hungry again.

Plus –only a few days ago I was walking around promoting my clean skin thanks to my clean eating and almost throwing away the dry shampoo. As if to prove a point, or perhaps in protest, my chin is riddled with blackheads and teenage acne and my hair on day two is in a high ponytail and heavily sprayed.

I know I was a late bloomer in high school, but this is ridiculous! Are my cravings and withdrawal symptoms coming so much later than first prescribed? Or am I a victim of some other bout of hormone tampering!?

Either way, day 17 is no fun.

Not that I am ready to throw in the clean eating towel, it’s just damp on the rack, hanging loosely and not really smelling the best.

I’ve decided I need a pick me up to get my mind off the fact I have to spend hours making a Christmas pudding full of things I can’t eat for our Christmas in July dinner this Saturday night, by making lots of things that I can.  And because I am still struggling with my sweet tooth, tonight it will be frosty fruit smash (if I can find almond butter) and the holy-moly banana pancakes (again if I can find almond butter).

I also had my meat delivered today to work by Canning’s – including the paleo bacon. Score.  I couldn’t wait for the weekend and their birthday discount celebration and knew I would get more stuff then anyway, so stocked up – and by the weight in the bag (I had to take the lift) I might have again gone a little overboard.

Time to re-calibrate the grocery bill budget.

But I know that bag of goodness holds my lamb shanks and ribs ready for two new primal recipes just in time for Thursday and Friday night and the cold weather we are meant to be expecting.  I’ll even prep the slow cooker tonight ready for the ribs tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can FINALLY go back to some sort of training and exercise (thank the thighs) which should also peck me up a little.

Actually as I am writing this and thinking about all the great things I can make and then eat, my mood is somewhat increasing to almost positive and I think I can feel the first shakings of my slump.

Don’t get too excited, my skin is still saw and red from when I tried to push the puss out of it in front of the work bathroom mirror.

Maybe I’ll even make my own almond butter….

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The Primal Challenge Day 16

I had another strange dream last night. Not about food this time, but I still feel the reference was there. I was on a tram but on the outside of it, standing on the railings like it was an old fashioned carriage you would still see on the streets of San Francisco. The tram was on a hill, had just come to a stop at the very top.

The stranger next to me had stopped the tram by pulling up the old fashioned handle; it swayed and tilted a little, tiptoeing over the edge of the hill facing the steep decline below, rocking on the old hinges and tracks.

There were people in front of me, people I knew, standing in front of the tram, with their back towards me and they wouldn’t turn around or move, even after the tram began to rock more frantically, and the stranger kept pulling at the handle of the tram, and it kept moving, kept rolling forward. I knew at any moment it would capture momentum and roll down the hill, squashing those in the way who were not fast enough to move, and causing me to hold onto the tram for dear life.

The people moved just as the tram took flight. I managed to hold on, just.

And then I woke up.

Now maybe I just had one too many strawberries (4 in total) for dessert last night and the fructose sugar I have been craving more heavily the last few days took control of my subconscious, or maybe it was one too many ‘I still can’t stop’ long blacks or maybe it really was my subconscious trying to tell me something. I’m not sure yet.

But if I was a dream expert, I would expect to be told it meant something about feeling like I am loosing control, and that the loss of control not only affects me but others around me.

Yikes.

Maybe I am loosing control with my mental stability and running over others with my new clean eating preaching and cant stop!

Maybe I am loosing control with my Primal Plan and have eaten too much fructose and feel like I am loosing control with my challenge!

Maybe because I haven’t done a WOD since Friday I feel like I am loosing control of my fitness – that it’s running away from me and my pent up energy and excitement is ready to literally send me over the edge and off the rails!

To be sure, I did what everyone with a strange tram dream would do. I googled.

The meaning of tram dreams – you would be surprised what you can find out.

This is what I did –

Option 1 –

  • To want to get off the tram in a dream when it cannot stop means that in real life you have got involved in a case, which now seems to you rather doubtful.

Hmmm no don’t think it is that. Happy with the Primal Plan, next…

Option 2 –

  • Public or shared transport tends to indicate that the “trip” you are on may be some change or transition which many people go through.

Well that makes a bit more sense. Cutting out most of what has been my daily diet, what I thought was a healthy eating plan for the last few years is a bit of a change and transition.

Option 3 –

  • To see a tram in your dream suggests that you need to be more disciplined in certain aspects of your life.

Ouch.

Maybe I have overlooked a label, eaten one too many strawberries, or just maybe need to pick up the exercise.

I stopped googling after that.

Maybe I need to be disciplined in my eating ‘sharing’… Stop preaching to others about what I am now practicing, and share the love instead.

Nobody appreciates a Jehovah’s Witness or Born Again Christian knocking on their door with a message from the lord when they are an atheist (sorry to the above two religious groups, but its true).

An ex-smoker who can’t stand the smell but instead of moving to the non-smoking side of the bar provides a lecture on how smokers are not just killing themselves but everyone around them, is a little annoying (even if true).

A vegetarian who lectures you about how an animal is killed while you are tucking into your steak deserves a slap and a vegan who wears leather shoes is just confused.

So a day 16 clean eating – challenge still not finished – newbie i.e. me, is premature and annoying in promoting their greatness to others when they have never bothered to notice the greatness before.

Just like my sister-in-law who is trying (and almost there) to get back to her pre-baby weight and has taken a liking to some of my newly tried recipes…

Two kilos to go (Sister-in-law)  –

When you made your Bolognese sauce with coconut oil, could you taste the oil?? I might have to jump on this oil bandwagon….Just did a bit of reading on olive oil and its cooking temperature!

Newbie (me) –

Nope, I cant but I try not to use too much of it.

Because I am trying to ensure the other stuff does not have sugar, it actually would taste the same if you used stuff with sugar e.g. sauce etc. but without the nasty’s….

Yes olive oil no good at high temperatures and all other canola etc. are BAD

Throw out your marg and get some butter too.

(See how eager I am to show off my ‘new’ knowledge, I automatically think everyone else knows nothing).

Annoyed at my naivety (Sister-in-law) –

Stacey. You don’t know me at all. I absolutely DETEST marg and everyone who uses it!!!! And I have never been a fan of low fat diary products. Full fat all the way for me!!

Maybe she was a bit over the top with the detest comment, but ill forgive her because a) she tried the zucchini bolognaise recipe (even if she did use her own sauce mix which probably – most likely – almost certainly – contained sugar) and b) she is thinking of coming to the next Primal Junction clean eating seminar.

She also later in the day sent me a photo of her bacon, zucchini and egg muffin, and judging by the looks of it, could do with a few of the Primal recipes and helpful hints…

There I go again, judging….

I hope in tonight’s dream she is not driving the tram or that I am eating margarine.

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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 9

I have a confession to make. Some 10 odd years ago when I still fell into the early 20’s bracket, I ate McDonalds two to three times a day. I know, disgusting right. I can hear you gagging, or trying to swallow that little bit of vomit that has crept up your throat. The rest of you have foreheads creased in disgust and horror. But it’s true.

I got into a bad habit. Working 10 hour days at McDonalds while studying full time with a naïve focus of trying to fit the most in my day rather than get the most out of it. Yes there is a difference. Food was a necessity. I ate when I was hungry and never really worried too much about what it was.

If I had the early shift I would start at 5:00am and work until early afternoon which meant breakfast was a bacon and egg muffin and a few hash browns, and lunch was fries and a burger. Sometimes when it was really cold I would make a hot chocolate using the chocolate topping from a sundae and the soft serve, throwing in a dash or two of boiling water just so I could call it a drink. Often the favorite was ‘home made’ jam donuts. Empty the middle out of a cheeseburger bun, fill it with jam then deep fry it in the vat we cooked the apple pies in.  More vomit?

I could go on, about all the things I saw and we made in the greasy fast food kitchen. Burgers that held two or three chicken patties, thickshakes with added oreo flakes and soft-serve, muffins in the warmer heaped with topping and ice-cream. Closing time and the crew got to eat whatever was left so would stuff Cheeseburgers with nuggets and chips and Big Macs with chicken patties.

If I had late shift it was no different. If I had the middle shift it was no different. Work uni, uni work and my only fuel in between was a burger, fries and a litre or two of coke.  It got to a point where my crew would ask me if I wanted a ‘McStace’ today – my custom built favorite burger. That should have been a trigger point. I worked at three different stores and most of the crew at each knew of the McStace.  Of course Ronald didn’t make it any easier by giving all the Managers access to free food. My inner tight ass (no way was it tight on the outside with that diet) thought it crazy to buy lunch when I had piles of it sitting around me I could eat for nothing and I was a poor uni student who otherwise ate two minute noodles. The problem was, I was a ‘poor’ uni student for seven years. Yep swallow that bile now.

And I thought I had no addiction to sugar.

The truth was, it started even before then. High school lunch was a carton of milk, plain or sometimes flavored (ice-coffee was my favorite) a small bucket of hot chips and a mars bar. I never ate breakfast and could often go to early afternoon before eating at all, and then of course it was sugar.

Dinner was better, but not always great. It was quick and easy, and whatever Mum could do after work on a single income that would feed six kids. Chips in the oven with a chicken and some veggies, pasta, stir fries. Things that were easy for the first child who got home to pull out of a packet and pop in the oven.

By now you are probably picturing me as a morbidly obese 20 something and you would be right to paint that picture. The truth was however I was not much bigger than I am today, maybe only five or six kilos.  My body simply rejected almost all of the food and fueled itself on the sugar.

When I got my first corporate job some eight years ago my staple breakfast item was an extra tall latte with three sugars. Over the years I changed the milk to skinny, dropped a size and eventually took out the sugar, but the coffee and milk was always there.

As early as three years ago I would rush home from work and pop open a can of full strength coke. I joked with everyone that it was like my after work beer, but in reality I was no less addicted.

Even before I started this challenge I had the same naïve outlook on my diet. I thought I had limited sugar as much as possible. I hardly ate sauces (tomato, sweet chili etc), had cut out my can of coke – now that was a painful breakup – and barely ate any of the cakes that I made for others.  

But I was eating muesli laced with sugar every morning, and at least two muesli bars during the day that also contained at least 11grams of sugar each. Pop a few pieces of fruit in the mix, a dressing of my salad, even in my soup, and I was already overloaded before even dinner.

You get this is my ‘ah ha’ moment right?

Ah ha I hear you all chorusing in the distance. And why shouldn’t you join in the chorus, I am sure you have had your own – really I ate that much?! moments.

I had long been saying fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar does, but had not once looked deeper into where the sugar was hiding in order to try and fight its fat conquest. And it does hide – everywhere.

There are almost three cups of it in my dark chocolate mud cake I made last night, and that is before the icing and not including the sugar content in the chocolate. Ohh the sweet poison. I made the cake and watched as the mixture ran off the mixers blades with little more than a slight drool. I blocked my nose to the smell that began to radiate through my kitchen and not once did I lick the spoon. I was not even half tempted to.

Well maybe a little.

I’m sure somewhere underneath my ‘second week in, clean eating’ skin it’s still lurking. I am eating one piece of fruit a day, so it’s not gone completely.  I’m even thinking of raining that back in next week just to see if I have fully broken the sugar shackles.

And to think just a decade ago Ronald was my best friend and McStace was my middle name.

 PS – I had my own version of clean cauliflower tabouleh (turmeric, lemon juice, green capsicum and tomato) and lemon pepper chicken skewers last night and really need to use my camera and not my ipad to take photos!  

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