Falling off the Wagon

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I just fell off the paleo wagon.

Well and truly.

It was not just a slight tip; it was a fully fledged stumble, tumble, fall down, unmoving lying on the floured ground in a sugar coma.

I am not even sure why.

Or how.

But now I am sitting here stomach popping over my jeans, head cloudy with a sugar hangover, having heart palpitations, drooping eyelids and breaking out into a sweat even thought its cold and raining outside.

I am bitterly disappointed with myself and angry all at once.  

I know the heart palpitations I am experiencing are just a result of my mental anxiety and not really a physical display of the fact I just ate gluten and grains for the first time in a long time. And I know the sweats is a physical reaction to the mental anguish that of course I just ate sugar too.  I have a headache, but of course that might just be mental also.

I’m lying on the floor, and the red horned wearing version of me has pinned me to the ground with her pitchfork, grin of achievement plastered all over her face.

It was cake I bowed to. Cake!

Cake that I never used to eat, was never interested in, never seduced by.

And not just one piece either…

Oh how I stuffed myself to the surprise, laughter and aghast expressions of those around me as they watched me go back for seconds. Self control gone, restraint not a word that looked familiar, I was on a rampage and nobody could stop me.

I started small.

A protein gluten free and sugar free muffin that had grains and fruit I overlooked hoping it would subside the sudden thirst that had awoke inside of me.

It didn’t.

So I cut a very small slither of Julie’s coconut and lemon tea cake, my knife slicing through the moist goodness and knowing immediately her country baking skills would be second to none. I ate that treasure and wished I didn’t because it was too good.  And I knew then also, it would be better than the cinnamon tea cake – caster sugar and self raising flour included – that I had made.

But just because I wasn’t sure, I cut a slice of that too and ate half of it. Memories of my childhood rushed back to me in that cinnamon mouthful that was exactly like the sugar filled cinnamon donuts I used to heat up and eat for breakfast.  What started as a treat  became a daily ritual until I ate so many of them for many years after I couldn’t stand to eat cinnamon. But now it was ok, and the memory was back and sent shivers running down my spine.

Perhaps to escape the sweet memory or maybe because I had opened a door that had stayed closed for too long and was having a slight – ok epic – relapse of my former self, I immediately cut half a chocolate brownie and ate it, replacing the cinnamon taste with the beautiful chocolate, nutty sensation.

It was amazing.

I have always claimed not to be a cake lover, and I’m not (usually) but brownies are another thing, and this one had me hook line and sinker.

Oh lord, what have I done?!

By now there was no turning back.  I was unstoppable. Not only did I not recognize myself, others around me, many whom have NEVER seen me eat cake, did not recognize me either. Those who knew I very rarely would indulge looked at me with surprise, but silent glee – was I the once again recognizable, reckless Stacey they knew?

In truth, I think a few were silently happy at my failure.

The brownie not only tasted amazing, it also looked better than my muffins, which were also chocolate hazelnut brownie muffins.

And because, like my cinnamon tea cake, the muffins were a new recipe, I cut one in half and promptly ate that too. I tried to tell myself it was to check they were ok, to compare them to the brownie I had just eaten, because I needed to be sure.

I was kidding myself. I had no good reason to eat that thing apart from the fact I wanted to.  And when last night I had been cooking them three of the muffins refused to budge from the pan and I had to scoop them out and leave them behind, I had already tasted the mixture then. I knew they were good (but not as good as the brownie brownie).

So let’s just recap.

  • 1 x protein & fruit mini muffin (this was gluten and sugar free, and where I was meant to start and end in the eating process)
  • 1 x half chocolate brownie
  • 1 x half chocolate hazelnut brownie muffin
  • 1 x small slither lemon and coconut tea cake
  • 1 x half piece of cinnamon tea cake

In the end I needed to leave the group crowded around the table, cakes piled high, fruit barely touched and return to my desk in case I went back for more. 

It’s no wonder I felt ill.

And morbidly ashamed.

Every now and then someone pokes their head over the partition and smiles knowingly at me, or mimic’s throwing up, or offers me another piece of cake just to stir the pot even further. 

I want to throw my spinach and blueberry smoothie all over them and watch it ooze over their smirking faces turning them purple like the awful gum chewing child Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I can’t even stomach my smoothie at the moment and am trying to dilute this sugar swell by drinking bottle after bottle of water.

I need to put it out of my head and move on. To forget about this low point and pick myself up and dust the icing sugar off my pants (literally there is some there) but half of me is still too ashamed and the other half of me knows there is more cake and if I have failed already and eaten so badly already, then surely it’s ok to have just one more piece?

Later, much later, when I have packed up the remaining cake (thanks guys, you had to eat everyone else’s and leave mine!?) and gone home I sms my ‘trying very hard’ sister in law.

I ate cake. A full piece and half a muffin and a quarter of a brownie. Fail.

Her reply did pep me up a little –

I’ve stuffed my face with cake pops and lemon slice all day. Life.

I don’t even know what cake pops are, but the entire thing made me feel much better.  She is right, it is life. So I ate badly one day, its only one day. And the cake was nice.

Tomorrow is another day, and cake is not on the menu.

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Mixed Berry Muffins

IMG_0458 It was a baking day.

Well really it was my mum’s birthday and the entire family was coming to my house for dinner, including Grandma. So that meant her homemade chocolate chip cookies that are AMAZING but defiantly NOT paleo, a homemade birthday cake (also from Gma) and most likely a few other sweet treats.

Nothing that I, or my sister’s gluten free boyfriend could enjoy.

So it was a baking day but but necessity. I whipped up the Glorious & Gluttonous Paleo Gingerbread Cake, as I knew that was a winner. But I wanted something more.

So I turned to my best friend to get their advice – Google.

I felt like muffins, something easy to make, something that was not too sweet but would make me feel like I was able to eat dessert and then also take it for work the next morning as a snack.

I stumbled across many different gluten free, grain free and paleo recipes that fell into the muffin category. Many had chocolate as a listed ingredient. Still being new to this paleo eating and baking gig, I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to tackle the paleo chocolate, so bypassed all of these for a fruit option.

I landed on one recipe, quite simply as I had all of the ingredients, and also because the recipe allowed for flexibility and change based on a) what you pantry held and b) what your stomach wanted. You could basically put in any optional extras, flavorings, herbs, seeds or spices as long as they are on the approved paleo list. Here is what I used –

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups almond meal
  • ¾ tsp baking soda (gluten free)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs (organic, free range)
  • 1 mashed very ripe banana (or just mash that puppy longer)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar  (or honey, or coconut nectar, or maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (can also use fresh and just one type if you would prefer)

If you know how to bake muffins, then you know what the next steps are. Very easy, mix wet, mix dry, get temperature right, put in pans cook and eat. But if you don’t – here is a little reminder.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to about 180degree C.
  2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the almond flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, banana, oil, agave nectar, vinegar and vanilla extract.
  5. For both of the above I used my kitchen aid again. It takes the hassle out of stirring, ensues things are well combined, and well, I spent so much money on that baby she better work for it!
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until blended.
  7. See note re kitchenaid
  8. Add your mixed berries.
  9. See note again re kitchenaid again
  10. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups.
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until your muffins are set and your poker comes out clean.
  12. Move the tin to a cooling rack and let muffins cool in the tin 30 minutes.

Now here is a note – don’t expect these babies to rise like your normal full of self-raising flour muffins.  Also don’t expect them to look so perfect on the top like normal muffins. Personally I think I added too much fruit to the wet and hence my mountainous terrain on the top.  I think if you used almond flour instead it might make a difference, or if you were just more careful on how you put the goods in the tin.

The banana not only tastes good, but it also helps to keep the muffins moist. If you wanted something less sugary you could try sweet potato or pumpkin puree. I have also listed a few other suggestions above, but really these mixed ‘berry’ muffins could be mixed with ‘anything’ muffins.

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The Primal Challenge Day 10

Last night I had a slip up. It wasn’t major and it was purely by accident, but it happened.

I was having people over to dinner. A UK colleague, my sister and her boyfriend – who not by choice but by necessity doesn’t eat gluten, fructose and dairy.

No worries! I told him

I’m all over it.

By now I was in day 10, so of course thought I was a professional at this clean eating gig. Dinners were a breeze. The chocolate cake I would not eat was done, the ganache icing not even tempting. Too easy.

Plus I was cooking lamb. And I’m good at lamb. A beautiful lamb shoulder I was going to slow cook with lemon, garlic and oregano. I had done it before to rave reviews so was strutting around the kitchen with an air of confidence I didn’t deserve.

Especially as I forgot to turn the oven down after its preheating cycle and ended up roasting my slow cooked lamb for an hour before realising. Fail.  So my slow cooked meal morphed its way to a roast.

First fail of the night – lets move on.

Vegetables. Lots of them. I did corn for the grain eaters, steamed broccoli and beans, tried kale chips for the first time – delicious! (although my no fructose friend confirmed via google they were on his banned substance list). Potatoes and sweet potatoes, all cooked in coconut oil, which I had finally managed to track down (and to ‘borrow’ a back up jar from my sister-in-law) and covered only with salt and pepper.

But the lamb.

It was always going to be my achilles heel of the night and now it was roasted (not very well) deserved, and needed, a sauce to join him on the plate. At least for the guests that could eat it.

So I quickly made a gravy for those that love it before finding a new, easy to do red wine jus.

Butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, beef stock and of course half a cup of dry red wine.

I’d like to carry on about how the smell of it made me want to drink the sauce straight from the fry pan as it lay simmering, but it didn’t. Nothing about the way the butter sizzled in the pan or how the garlic and onion began to caramelize made me want to try it.

I poured it in a gravy jug without a second thought, but happy I had tried something new and piled it and everything else on the dining room table, dinner was served!

Plates were pilled high, wine was poured, bread was buttered.

I left off the corn (oh how I really do miss you) ignored the bread and loaded up on my meat, greens, sweet potato – no standard spud you can not join in, I’m sorry – and those delightfully crispy and salty kale chips.

I was halfway through telling a story and cutting my second bite of lamb when I realised what else I had done.

My face paled, hands flew to my head, knife and fork clattering on the white porcelain plate as they dropped from my fingers, and as my sister put it I ‘did something really girlie I have never seen before’.

Oh shit.

Whether it was the excitement of my own story telling, the comfort and confidence I had taken too far and paraded around the kitchen earlier or my pitchfork holding red devil appearing again and taking over control, I don’t know.

But whatever it was, however I had done it, there on my plate, covering the piece of my already bitten lamb, was a drizzle of that red wine jus.

I continued my girly, incoherent babble for a few moments longer, my colleague looking at me with a wide eyed expression and no doubt wondering if he could silently slip out of this madhouse now and make a run for it (we had only known each other a month), my sister reassuring me it was only a mouthful, her boyfriend staying silent, and my husband declaring I should just ‘scrape it off’.

Instead, horrified and humiliated, I got a clean plate, rescued what vegetables I could and served a few new clean slices of meat, pushing the red wine and butter infested ones with their jus over to my husband.

Then I checked and tripled checked everything on my plate again – just in case.

No sauce, no gravy, no jus, no bread, no butter, no corn, no potato. Mineral water, no wine.

I really didn’t enjoy (apart from the kale chips) the rest of the food. I felt slightly sick over my previous potentially potent forkful.

I will NOT call this a failure.

I refuse to.

Even if it was – which it wasn’t – I’m using that cheesy old saying of ‘I’m still a winner’.

It as one mouthful – small mouthful – and something totally unintentional, purely by mistake.

An accident, not a failure.

And it shook me to the core.

How careful I must still be, how diligent! This clean eating gig of mine was still in rehearsals and it would be days before I made it to the live show and it became a habit not a hindrance.  If this was The Voice I would have just lost the battle round.

Bloody jus. New recipe, first time I had ever made it. I blame the lamb, and the oven, and myself for needing a jus to begin with.

Even hours later, when everyone had left, and I was loading plates with gravy stains and bowls with brownie crumbs and ice-cream drops – none of which were mine – into the dishwasher I was still highly annoyed with myself.

My competitive spirit – the same one that once threatened a team mate to ran faster or I would poke his eye out with a spoon – was annoyed that I had, on some level, failed.

The feeling of failure followed me to bed and left a bitter taste on my not so clean eating tongue.

I’m sure the men at airport security this morning would have been rolling their eyes with laughter as I x-rayed my two bacon and egg muffins, container of macadamias and almonds, my banana and water.

And I’m sure the other lunch goers were rolling their eyes with impatience when I checked if any of the salads had gluten or dairy, and made the poor order taker recite dressing ingredients to me.

And I’m sure she was rolling her eyes in annoyance when in the end I asked if she could make me up a salad with only the vegetables I wanted don’t put on any dressing, was the chicken free range, and can she make it up in front of me so I could see what she put in it.

Today I wasn’t taking any chances.

Because yesterday I had a slight failure   accident.

Lessons learned –

  • Confidence is ok, being cocky is not
  • I make a good red wine jus
  • It takes longer than 10 days to break a lifelong habit
  • Muffins in Tupperware don’t beep through the airport security, but they do capture strange looks and ensure you get called over for an explosives and drug screening

The Primal Challenge Day 8

Week two was looming and I needed to shrug off the painful monkey that seemed to be both clinging to my shoulders and clutching my leg with his painful claws simultaneously, and send him scurrying back into the forest in search of a banana.

So after my roast pork dinner and a self indulgent winging blog post, I regrouped, and inspired by a colleague and fellow crossfit/clean eater’s photos of protein balls, zucchini cheesecake and coco-nutty granola, started cooking up a storm.

First – my ‘don’t hide the greens’ smoothie. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to hide the greens. The strange colour actually puts me off and reminds me I am drinking a leafy vegetable, but I had no beetroot to help change colour – and I don’t like beetroot anyway – and needed to (in more ways than one) suck it up. So I added in extra kale and a few extra berries and some chia seeds and imagined it was a lovely pastel colour rather than something that resembled grass when I took the first sip.  

And despite its strange spinach like colour, the taste test proved it was a winner.

Which at 11pm on Sunday night when I had to be up at 5:20am was a life savor.

Time then for some breakfast muffins.

These were easy and really are like a mini quiche. You can basically put whatever you want in the mixture. I used 1 x onion, 1 x green capsicum, 1 x tomato, around eight pieces of cooked free range bacon, some basil, salt, pepper, a little water and nine x free range eggs from our friends the happy chickens. I can almost hear them clucking with joy as they wander carelessly around.

Make sure you give your muffin pans a good spray of coconut oil, and when taking out the muffins let them cool but don’t go cold or they could get stuck in the bottom. Not that it matters – then you just have an omelet.

I actually ended up with two omelet’s as my impatience to get them out of the pan broke their little bottoms off (hey it was 11:45pm by then). But never fear my husband who has finally cottoned on to my new way of eating was up for a few. So into the Tupperware went the broken bums of bacon along with two sizeable full muffins.

I took the other eight. Don’t judge me, he has cereal as a backup and not afraid to eat it.

So yes, my husband finally knows that pasta is no longer on the menu. Or maybe he hasn’t realised that yet, because he has been very supportive. When I dragged him to the health food isle in Coles and stood staring blankly at the items trying in vain to find coconut oil – turns out it was in a jar and looked like a paste, not in a bottle that looked like oil, thanks for the heads up guys – he waited a full 30 seconds before leaving and wondering down to the freezer section to sneak an ice-cream tub into the trolley while I was not there to refuse.

He has eaten everything I have put in front of him, which is generally the same dinner as mine with a few slight modifications like adding a potato to his vegetable selection, without complaint. Although he did look at me quizzically with raised eyebrows when I told him it also meant I was off the grog.

The expression was short lived however before his eyes lit up with excitement. I realized then his light bulb moment was in fact the discovery of having a designated driver for the next few weeks.

The biggest realisation however comes when he offers me something, or goes to add something to his meal and I explain why I can’t have it.

  • Like tomato sauce having sugar.
  • Like the tinned mangoes having sugar added as a preservative.
  • Like the roasted vegetables Masterfoods herb shaker having sugar.

Although I couldn’t explain to him why potatoes are a no go. I love potatoes and am convinced I was Irish in a past life because I could eat them with every meal. So if someone can please explain to me why potatoes are not allowed I would be grateful. They come from the ground, and while I know our primitive paleo ancestors didn’t have spades as such, surely they could have given the women a rest by putting the club to a better use.

I can only imagine it is the starch or carbohydrates – everything I like about them.

However back to my breakfast muffins.  

Very tasty! I had two with a cup of smoothie this morning and am sure both would give Jamie Oliver a run for his healthy eating money.

They also filled me up delightfully and have kept me going with the aid of some trail mix going until lunch time.

I also think the monkey has gone, or at least run up a tree for the day. My shoulders are not as sore as they were this morning, despite the WOD – although I am glad I still used a lighter weight. Seems my muscles might need a bit longer recovery time than they did previously, but we will see during the week.

Again, I’m feeling pretty good. Not fantastically better than I was before the challenge, and I’m sure there are still a few downs throughout the ups, but overall I’m enjoying the challenge of taking part in the challenge.

I’m also looking forward to making the latest Primal Junction MOD – slow cooked beef ribs – and pretending I’ve just been clubbed by a stranger and dragged by the foot to a campfire to take part in a last night’s leftovers. If only there was potato. 

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