Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reuben's Birth

After a few days of regular 'practice' contractions, I went to bed Tuesday night wondering if he'd come in the morning. I was tired and had lost my mucus plug that day, which along with the contractions, tiredness, and low appetite had never happened to me before. Josh had bought me paczkis for dessert, and he insisted they would make the baby come. ;) I planned Miles's next 3 weeks of school and went up to bed at 11:30. For some reason, I got panicky and starting stuffing things into an overnight bag. Josh said, "Are you trying to pack a hospital bag right now?" Me, "Just a few things..." (I had more clues than I realized that it was time. Haha) I went to bed and slept for a couple of hours. Went to the bathroom and tossed and turned for the next hour or two while baby wiggled and jammed his head against my bladder constantly. Finally after a couple more trips to the bathroom and a couple more catnaps, I woke up with a good, painful contraction. It was 4am. I laid in bed til I had another and decided to try the couch to see if the change in position would help. But first I got myself completely dressed, including socks and brushing my hair. (I really should've known...) I tried the couch for 5 minutes (after having to completely reassemble it after the little boy wrestling session of the night before), but it wasn't helping. I did a couple of squats while putting the cushions and pillows back on the couch, just for good measure. :P I walked around and threw random things into my purse like my phone charger. I noticed my contractions were strong even while walking. That's when I knew - but I didn't want to wake up Josh too early. It was 5am. I stayed in the bathroom for awhile because contractions felt best on the toilet. I woke Josh up casually and said, "But you don't have to get up yet if you don't want." Ha! It was 5:24. He got up and got dressed and I threw a couple more things in my bag. I was having to breathe pretty good through contractions, so he called his parents and the doctor. "Going to the hospital within the hour" was what I told him to say. He went to load up the car while I went to the downstairs bathroom to wait for his parents to come stay with the boys. Meanwhile, the doctor called back and said go NOW. Literally within a minute of sitting on the toilet, bowel movement turned to pushing. I yelled for Josh. He came down and told me to get in the car now. His parents weren't there yet and it was 5 degrees out and I couldn't even think of moving to the car. Plus I was bleeding now and still having bowel movements. And pushing. I said, "The baby's coming now!" He said, "You said that last time! Get in the car now!" We yelled back and forth between my pushing yells ;) and finally I reached down and felt baby's head. I said, "This is either a car baby or a bathroom baby - put towels on the floor!" After one last attempt to argue, Josh threw one little towel on the floor as I could feel the baby crown. Miles came down and looked into the bathroom - I think I said, "Mommy's having the baby. Go out for now, bud!" One or two more loud pushes and his head was delivered. I noticed he was still in the sack. I leaned sideways so I could hold his head and Josh reached down and caught his body. It just slipped right out after his head. The waters broke immediately (and all went into the toilet, my astonished mother told me later). I pulled him up to my chest and said, "Call 911." I made sure Reuben was breathing. He was grunting and had good color, with lots of vermix. I double checked that he was a boy. ;) Josh tried to explain what happened to the 911 operator. It was 6:01. We wrapped Reuben in beach towels and I snuggled him close. My in-laws got there, and Miles came back to the bathroom with Grandma. I stayed on the toilet while we admired Reuben in shock. Josh went to flag down the responders as they drove by our house by accident. Then he had to move all the cars so they could bring the cot in through the garage. 2 ambulances, 1 firetruck, 2 police cars, and about 7 EMTs and police officers, plus my in-laws and Miles and Nehemiah, who had awakened to see the scene. Haha! All for a sweet little baby with no emergency. (Zekie slept through it all.) We bundled up and got to the ambulance where they did Apgar and blood sugar tests. Baby was perfect. I felt good. We had nice conversation about the different stations the guys worked at, which we had visited before, and which ones of them had responded to such a call before. That was probably my favorite part of the morning. ;) The rest is uneventful - admittance, answering millions of questions because I had been planning to pre-register at the hospital THAT day, delivering the placenta, 2 small stitches, lots of checking the baby (grr), and finally I got to settle in to nurse my sweetie. His weight surprised all of us. By the way, my doctor didn't even make it to the hospital. Oh well. :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ezekiel's Birth Story

In May, 2013, at 40 weeks pregnant with our third child, my husband and I found out that our baby had turned breech. My Ob/Gyn had already agreed to let me go into labor on my own no matter how long it took (I'd had 2 induced labors before and wanted an all natural birth this time), but now my doctor said he'd need to schedule a c-section for 42 weeks at the latest. My doula, Samantha Trebilcock, came over that week and talked me through vaginal breech birth. We talked about what it would take to make it happen and what I could do in the meantime to try to turn the baby. I was having excruciating rib pain and was very emotionally spent, coming to terms with the fact that my natural birth might turn into a c-section. I tried Webster technique chiropractic adjustments; all of the spinning baby techniques; homeopathic remedies; if it worked for someone, I tried it. Nothing worked. My only choice was to inform my doctor that I wanted to attempt a vaginal breech delivery. He knew my baby was in good position, frank breech with his bottom already engaged, and that I'd had 2 easy, healthy births previously, with relatively big babies and no complications. He finally agreed that if I got to the hospital ready to push, he'd deliver my baby breech. He was convinced that my waters would break before my scheduled c-section at 42 weeks 1 day.

41 weeks, 4 days
On Saturday morning, at 41 weeks 6 days, I had my 3rd nonstress test and I had regular contractions through the whole thing. The nurse mentioned them to me and I kind of fibbed and said it was because I had to go to the bathroom and my pants were too tight, but I was hoping I was in labor. (My biggest fear was to go into labor in the hospital, where they would wheel me straight to the OR for a c/s.) That afternoon, my husband Josh and I tried some tricks to get things going, which for the first time ever actually worked, and I started having regular contractions at 4:30 PM. They were going pretty good all throughout the evening, and I was getting hopeful. I even had to concentrate while reading books to my boys before bed. But then after they were in bed, I started changing positions and leaning forward, and contractions slowed down significantly. Finally at 10:30 PM, I gave up, decided I wasn't in labor, sat down on the couch to rest and finish watching a movie with Josh.

Hours before birth
Almost as soon as I sat down, pop! My water broke. I've always had my water broken at the hospital, so it surprised me so much I shrieked, "My water broke! My water broke!" and I ran to the toilet. I ran so fast I barely got the couch wet. I just sat there in a daze while Josh told me to calm down and called his parents to come get the boys. My doctor had said previously that he thought that if my waters broke, the baby would come fast, and I should go to the hospital immediately. I had decided with Samantha and Josh that we would wait until contractions were strong before going to the hospital to avoid a c-section and because we knew Ezekiel's cord was not near his neck and his bottom was fully engaged, eliminating the danger of a prolapsed cord. I wasn't having any contractions when Josh's parents got there, but they kind of lollygagged and chatted for awhile while deciding whether to take the boys to their house or to sleep at ours.

I sat there texting Samantha and my mom, wondering when they were going to leave so I could get in the shower. I was in the downstairs half-bath and needed to get upstairs to the full bath. Finally they left around 11 PM with the boys after I said goodbye to them from the bathroom (so much excitement!) and I was having light contractions. I got upstairs and into the shower to wait for Samantha, who had just gotten to work and had to turn around to drive to my house. The water felt really good, and I meant to leave my shirt on, but it got wet, so I just took off everything. By 11:20, my contractions were strong enough that I had to lean forward and rock and breathe. Samantha and my mom got there soon afterwards, and I immediately needed Samantha's help to get through contractions from then on. I said, "What does it mean if I don't want to be here anymore?" and she said, "That you're in transition." Looking back now I can tell I was transitioning because I didn't care that I was standing there naked in front of everybody and I couldn’t figure out what to do.
We had called the doctor around 11:30 and he hadn't called back yet, so Samantha called again. I didn't think I could get out of the shower, let alone put my clothes on and get to the car, so I said it was time to go to the hospital.

Finally, as I was putting on clothes (which Josh couldn't find for what seemed like ages), my doctor called. We made our way to the car sloooooowly. I asked my mom to sing to me. She sang familiar childhood songs, and it helped calm me. Those were some good contractions and that baby was dropping fast. I grouched at Josh for putting the towels for me in the front seat and my hospital bags in the back instead of the other way around so I could sit with Samantha. He kindly switched them around, and I kneeled on the slippery leather seats after asking if I had to buckle up and tried to hold on while Josh drove us to the hospital. Eventually I slid down to the floor and leaned over the seat. We only live 5 minutes away, but it felt like twenty. Baby was wiggling around the whole time, and I really felt like he was about to fall out. I kept yelling, "He's coming out!" Samantha assured me he would not, in fact, fall out, as long as I didn't push. It was the weirdest feeling.

There was no way I could sit down, so when they brought the wheelchair out at the hospital ER, I squatted on my knees and held onto the back. They tried to turn me around, but I refused. I felt like I was going to sit on my baby if I sat on my bottom. It was 12:13 AM when we got there. We went through the ER and the admitting nurse left the desk and the line of people waiting to immediately push me upstairs. I remember thinking, What a nice lady! Samantha was also amazing. She kept me calm as I was freaking out because I was so excited (and in pain). I had resigned myself to my Monday morning c-section. My poor mom was left to park two cars (she had followed behind us) while we all headed upstairs to Labor and Delivery. We got up to an admitting room and they made me lie on my back while the resident OB/Gyn did a quick ultrasound to confirm baby was still breech. The nurses monitored his heart rate and they put the heplock in my wrist in case I ended up needing a c-section. All was well - baby still breech, with a good heart rate, and, though they had to try both of my wrists to get the heplock in, I kept telling them to stick me again because it was good "substitute pain". I was ready to push that baby out!

The nurse checked my cervix and said, “She’s complete.” I wasn’t surprised. I think I had been 10 cm for awhile. The resident Ob/Gyn asked if my doctor was going to deliver me breech (after I kept yelling, "I only want Dr Michael! Dr Michael has to deliver the baby!") and Samantha said yes, which put a funny look on his face. It's against policy, both the doctor's and the hospital's, to deliver babies breech vaginally. We got into the operating room, and I was told I had to pick Samantha OR Josh to go in with me. I said, "I can't do it without her!" I climbed onto the skinny OR table in between contractions and immediately turned onto my hands and knees and started to rock. It felt SO much better. Then I felt something on my foot and saw poop. "I pooped!", I said, but all the nurses and Samantha said, "No, that's from the baby!" I was really confused, but they wiped me off and said I had to lie on my back because the table was so skinny and if they ended up needing a c-section, I had to already be on my back. Actually, they didn’t explain any of that to me then, so I turned over and lay there complaining and moaning, "I don't want to be on my baaack." My plan had been to push on my hands and knees, like I’d seen in the YouTube videos I’d watched of delivering breech babies. (I wanted to be as prepared as I could be!)

The lights were painfully bright and I wanted to push with all my might now, so I couldn't keep my sounds down and I half breathed/half yelled through each contraction. Samantha helped me "stay above the wave" of each contraction; she was indispensable in every way. The baby was just waiting there. It seemed like forever, but finally my doctor got there. I yelled, "Where have you been?!" and he went straight to the baby and said, "Ok, let's see if you can move him down." I said, "I can push?!" It was time, and the relief was enormous.

One of the pictures Samantha took
Finally, I pushed. One contraction's worth of pushing while everybody yelled at me, and his bottom was out. One more big push and I felt a little more baby. I sat out one contraction because it was so mild, and I don’t know if anybody realized it. They didn’t coach me to push, so I remember thinking that I got away with it. One more big push, and I felt his body plop out. It was my first "ring of fire" experience, but it really is like they say - such a relief to finally know the baby is almost out. At this point, my poor husband finally got his scrubs on (after it was obvious that I was having a vaginal birth rather than surgery) and he made his way into the room. He took my hand, but I didn't even notice. After baby's body came out, I had relaxed and stopped pushing. Everybody yelled, "You have to push again and get his head out! We can't do anything!" Nobody can touch the baby til he's completely out so that he won't take a breath inside or tilt his head back and get stuck. Samantha was giving me feedback and helping me remember the plan. One more push, which was confusing because I couldn't feel anything because his head was so small after birthing his backside first, and at 12:34 AM, only 21 minutes after getting to the hospital, he was OUT!

Relief and a baby!
I started crying with joy, and the doctor put him on my stomach as high up as he would go. His cord was so short. I tried to pull him up to my chest and my doctor laughed and said to wait! the cord was too short, and we wanted to delay clamping. I lay there saying "I can't believe it!" at least two hundred times while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, and baby Ezekiel lay there crying. I couldn't believe the pain was completely gone. I asked how badly I tore because I knew my doctor had needed to help my skin stretch enough for Ezekiel's bottom to be delivered, but he said it wasn't bad – only 2nd degree, and I only needed 2 stitches, and I only tore down. Finally, we cut the cord (I did it for the first time) and I got him up on my chest. There was still meconium everywhere so the nurses were trying to wipe us off while the doctor stitched me up and I delivered the placenta. I think I was still saying, "I can't believe it!" Shock! I also apologized to the doctor and said thank you to everybody who could hear me. I couldn’t believe I had gotten my breech birth.

Daddy and his 3rd son

My mom and Ezekiel
Ezekiel set about nursing and I finally really realized that Josh was there. My mom couldn’t find us after parking the cars, so she waited in Labor and Delivery, trying to locate us. We accidentally left all of our bags in the car, so we didn’t have our camera. Samantha saved the day and took pictures in the OR with her cell phone. After we had been in the recovery room for a few minutes, they weighed him – 9 lbs., 13 oz. We talked about what had just happened and I finally let Josh, and then my mom, hold the baby. My mom and Samantha left around 2:40 AM, and the nurse got me up to the bathroom. I passed out for a second while washing my hands after using the bathroom, so my nurse gave me a shot of pitocin in my leg. I am still convinced that passing out was due to the excitement and lack of oxygen I had experienced in the last two hours, rather than something that required pitocin.

Finally being weighed

Sunday morning, so happy to have him
I couldn't believe that I didn't need pain medicine at all in the hours and days of recovery to follow. I took one Motrin the night after the birth so I could sleep through the nurses coming in, but that's all. I took homeopathic Arnica that Samantha recommended to me throughout the week for pain, but that's all. I've never felt so good after having a baby. My doctor said I had very minimal blood loss considering the fast, exciting labor I'd just had, and Ezekiel was healthy and perfect. I've heard it’s easier to recover from a natural birth, but I thought it was too good to be true. It was the most exciting childbirth I could have imagined, and I will never forget it.

Meeting his brothers
Big brother Nehemiah, 2
Big brother Miles, 4
Loved Little Brother, 3 months old
This summer - 2 years old

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Favorite Oatmeal

All my life, I thought I hated oatmeal. Because in my mind, oatmeal was gooey, slimey, mushy, plain, and gross. Well, then I started making this oatmeal. I got the idea from a random facebook post. Put eggs in the pot with the oatmeal?? Crazy. Crazy genius, I mean. (Sorry...) My problem with oatmeal (besides the above adjectives) is that it is low on protein and fat unless you doctor it up pretty good. I am one of those mommies who has been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 7 years; combine that with unstable blood sugar, and I need my protein and fat.

blueberries and butter - my big guy's bowl

So! Here is my favorite oatmeal. Many variations would taste equally delicious. Since my middle guy is currently dairy free, this recipe is dairy free. If it weren't for him, it most certainly would not be dairy free. He he.

applesauce and coconut oil - middle guy

Disclaimer: There are many opinions about oatmeal regarding desired consistency. I admit that not all people like their oatmeal thick and kind of chewy. If you are one of those people, do not try my recipe. Or try it and change your mind...

maple syrup and butter - yes, that might be a lot of syrup...

My Favorite Oatmeal
2 cups old fashioned oats, gluten-free if desired
1-2 T Bragg's apple cider vinegar 
The night before: Add oatmeal to a pot (big enough to cook it in); add vinegar, and then add water enough to cover the oatmeal and then some. 
2-4 T coconut oil
2-4 eggs (depends on how rich/filling you want it)
2 T gelatin (I like to use grassfed, currently using Great Lakes)
dash salt
The morning of: Add a little more water, maybe 1/2 cup or so, stir, and turn burner on to medium. Add coconut oil, gelatin, and dash of salt. Add the eggs - 4 whole eggs makes this amount of oats pretty fluffy. My current favorite thing to do is just to use 4 eggs yolks (and use the resulting whites in these meringue cookies!) as it makes the oatmeal creamy but keeps the histamine content down for me (more on that in another post). 

this pot has one whole egg plus two yolks  
Keep mostly covered, stirring here and there, and turn heat down to medium-low once it starts to bubble. Add more water if needed (if it starts looking more like playdough than oatmeal). Keep cooking at a low temperature until thick.

...not done...

I like to eat my oatmeal with a big pat of butter and maple syrup. Or maple syrup marshmallows, if you happen to have those lying around. Sometimes we add blueberries or cinnamon at the very end. If you stir maple syrup into the leftovers (Ha! Leftovers?) and then fry them in some butter, they are some delicious toasty oatcakes.

melty marshmallow happiness

little guy's - butter and applesauce

He ate that WHOLE bowl.

Thanks for reading! Happy eating!
-- Christine

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Meringue Snack Cookies

I first ate the 'regular' version of these cookies at a party. I told my husband they were my dream cookie and went home and googled them. Actually, I think I googled them on the way home. Here is the recipe that inspired my 'real-food' version - Chocolate Corn Flake Meringue Cookies.

These are delicious and crunchy, slightly chewy, dessert, snack, or breakfast cookies. I like to use maple syrup instead of sugar so I can call them a 'snack' instead of dessert. (wink) There is still sugar in the chocolate chips, of course - but you can leave those out. (Crazy!) I think I'll do that once in awhile for the boys so they can eat them later in the day and not be kept awake from the caffeine. I love meringues, so I added extra egg whites. Since these use maple syrup instead of sugar, they take longer to bake, but

Meringue Snack Cookies
4 egg whites
1/2 cup maple syrup
dash of salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup organic corn flakes (optional - if skipping, add more nuts and/or coconut; use gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces (soaked and dehydrated if desired)
1/2 cup chocolate pieces or chips (we use Enjoy Life - dairy-free, soy-free)  
Mix egg whites gently until they start thickening, then at high speed until foamy. Add maple syrup, salt, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form. 
Gently fold in the corn flakes, coconut, pecans, and chocolate pieces.  
Drop on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet in whatever size you prefer (see note below) and bake at 325° F for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn the oven off and leave the cookies in. Do not remove the pan until the oven is completely cooled.

Note: If you make large cookies, you will have to turn the oven down to 200° F for 30 minutes to an hour before turning it off and leaving the cookies in. Otherwise, the cookies will still be soft inside and will fall apart.

And this is why you should use parchment paper...

Store in an airtight container.

Thanks for reading! Happy eating!
-- Christine

Friday, February 21, 2014

31 Days of Paleo

Can't resist happy breakfast...

On January 1, I began a one-month trial of the Paleo diet. I was not daunted by the prospect of cutting grains from my diet since I already eat pretty low-grain, but I had gotten pretty used to eating sweets and ‘cheats’ over the holidays. I was not trying to lose weight, but I knew I needed to get off sugary things for a while to reset my taste buds. If you’re not familiar with the Paleo diet/lifestyle, here is the quick lowdown.

Things you eat on a Paleo diet:

  • Meat - grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, pork, lamb, wild caught seafood 
  • Vegetables 
  • Fruit 
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Eggs (preferably from pastured hens) 
  • Fats (coconut oil/milk/cream, olive oil, palm oil, ghee, butter from pastured cows) 
  • Optional: raw, grass-fed dairy, including raw milk, heavy cream, cheeses 
  • Optional: natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar       

 Things you do not eat on a Paleo diet:

  • Grains, including corn 
  • Legumes, including soy, peanuts, peas (woohoo!) 
  • Vegetable oils - corn, canola, safflower, etc. 
  • Processed foods with additives 
  • Refined sugar

Grass-fed burger with gouda, caramelized onions, sweet potatoes with butter, and green beans

Why did I want to try the Paleo diet?

I’d been wanting to try a wheat-free diet with my whole family for more than a year. I knew I needed some accountability for it to really work. I did end up ‘cheating’ a few times, and I wish I hadn’t (because I wanted to see if it would help clear up several health issues the boys and I have, such as keratosis pilaris and cradle cap), but overall, we all definitely reduced our gluten intake.

Also, the diet itself appealed to me from a scientific standpoint. It is basically a low-inflammation diet, and, while I don’t have major health issues, I do have achy joints in my hands (which I usually attribute to years of piano playing), the occasional back ache (a.k.a., one of the joys of motherhood), the occasional itchy scalp, and histamine intolerance issues (a whole different story!). Many common parts of the standard American diet (SAD) are major contributors to inflammation: processed flours, sugars, vegetable oils, food additives, etc. Getting all of these out of my diet, even though they weren't a major part at this point, sounded good to me. 

Coconut flour pancakes with coconut cream...on a paper plate (hey, my dishwasher's broken!)

Paleo while breastfeeding

I was a little worried that going off grains completely while breastfeeding my 8-month-old would affect my energy level since it’s easy to accidentally go low-carb when eating Paleo. I seemed able to compensate with other carbs like sweet potatoes, squash, fruit, and even oatmeal once in a while. I let myself have oatmeal just as a guarantee to myself that my milk supply wouldn’t be affected. I don’t think it was necessary, partly due to the tea I drink daily (a blend I make from raspberry leaf, nettle, alfalfa, rosehips), but it was sure nice. ;) (Anyone interested in my recipe?)

The Nursling, trying out broccoli!

Why it worked for me

Here are some blessings that made it easy for me to jump into the Paleo mindset so easily:

  • I already had a freezer full of fresh, grass-fed beef
  • I already had a farmer to supply me with raw grass-fed milk, pastured eggs, and pastured pork
  • I live close to stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Woodman’s (large, diverse grocery store)
  • I was already eating a traditional, whole foods diet (explained here)

Paleo chocolate pudding - avocado and sweet potato based (a post to come)

Should you try Paleo?

Yes. I say that without hesitation. Especially if you have any sort of autoimmune or chronic condition, inflammation, or digestive issues. That being said, some people thrive on this diet, but some do not. Everyone's body is different and has a different history of gut- and immune-altering events (antibiotics, childbirth, etc.). I believe it is definitely worth a two-month try, though. (I'll explain why I say two months rather than one in a minute.)

Here are some tips to make it easier.

Figure out what you will eat to replace the grains you usually consume before you start.

Find sources of good quality protein before you start. Not much worse than looking in your fridge for a snack and thinking, ‘Ugh, cheap, questionable deli meat again…” Look for the best quality you can personally afford. Avoid meats with additives and preservatives.

Be willing to experiment with new foods. I baked with plantain for the first time. I will probably use it from now on as I found it to be a tasty and versatile starch. I found out tapioca flour is easy to bake with and can help baked goods taste more 'gluten-full'. I made zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash with tomato sauce (WOW, I was missing out on that one), and varieties of fish I'd never tried.

Eat more vegetables than you used to. I used to think my plate looked unbalanced if there wasn’t some sort of carb on it that wasn’t sweet potatoes or squash. (Thanks a lot, Food Pyramid.) Now I eat more than one vegetable in one meal (Gasp! What??), like salmon, broccoli, and zucchini noodles. I’ve come to realize the importance of vegetables, not only in terms of nutrients, but also as vehicles for butter and coconut oil. ;)

The birthday present that came to tempt me during Paleo month

The results 

Honestly, I failed miserably. If this month had been a Paleo test, I'd get an F. I ate something non-Paleo every single day but ONE. However, those non-Paleo things I ate were not leftover wheat- and sugar-filled birthday cake or fast food fries or deep dish Lou Malnati's (hey, it was my birthday!). It was a handful of rice crackers or black beans in my taco salad or white potatoes in my soup. The foods that are naturally high in nutrients (with the exception of rice crackers) that can definitely hold a place in a healthy diet. I think I "cheated" with those foods because I wasn't convinced I didn't need to eat them. They helped me get used to not eating sprouted or sourdough bread and rather to depend more on sweet potatoes, squash, and fruit for my carb-intake.

I neither gained nor lost weight. (I exercised not a stitch.) 

My keratosis pilaris (bumps on the backs of the arms) got significantly better and my head stopped itching. My two oldest boys' cradle cap started going away. My energy levels were more even (as long as I went to bed before midnight the night before), and I felt calmer and could think more clearly.

Almost Paleo

When February rolled around, I felt no inclination to stop. The ball was rolling, and I was feeling good. Every day got easier and easier. Wheat? What's that? (Well, not quite.) Now, three weeks into February, I usually have completely Paleo days. I started exercising lightly (Pilates or elliptical 'sprints' every other day or so) and I've lost 2 pounds. I don't crave sugar. I crave sweet potatoes. It's crazy. When I finish eating, I don't feel stuffed, but I feel full, calm, and even-tempered. I almost never want dessert. It's almost disappointing sometimes, but then I make some Paleo treats and eat a few too many, and that kick-starts the sugar cravings again. (Eating sugar just makes you want more sugar! Even natural sugars...)

If I crave sugar, I know I can just eat something high in protein or fat, and the craving will go away. If I finish a meal, and I can't stop thinking about my maple sugar candies, I usually realize that my meal wasn't high enough in fat. So I eat some coconut oil.

This is why I said to try it for at least two months. Give yourself a month to get used to it and to wean yourself off of whatever you have to give up to make your diet Paleo. Unless you're good at giving things up cold turkey. Which would not work for me because...I really like food. 

Poutine is not Paleo. But WELL worth it!

Thanks for letting me share my experience with you! It has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me and I look forward to developing more Paleo and almost Paleo recipes.

I will leave you with a quick run-down of my first month of Paleo in the form of 10 Pros and Cons.


1.      I ate more vegetables.
2.      I didn’t crave grains or desserts or sweet snacks.
3.      I really felt better.
4.      I felt more aware of how my body reacted to foods.
5.      I was forced to become more creative with cooking, which I enjoyed.


1.      I drank more coffee (maybe getting used to the lack of morning toast?).
2.      It’s expensive. 
3.      It can be tricky when eating out.
4.      It can be hard to do when others in your house aren’t doing Paleo, too.
         and last but most importantly,
5.      I had nothing to spread cream cheese or butter on …

(I guess Paleo bread is my next experiment!)

Take care!

-- Christine 

Have you ever tried the Paleo diet? Do you have anymore tips?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Coconut Bon-Bons

Varying Degrees of Dipped

Ah, coconut. So versatile, exotic, and filling. Chock full of healthful saturated  fat and the amazing lauric acid. Coconut oil is kind of the darling of the health food community right now (and it's headed mainstream), but unsweetened shredded coconut can hold a place in a healthful diet as well. This recipe for coconut bon-bons was developed after a flopped attempt at Paleo almond joys (I won't link you...) and in an attempt to get more saturated fat into my 3-year-old who recently stopped eating dairy. (Gotta keep growing that little brain!)

I love putting almonds in these, too, but the same little guy who can't have dairy right now also can't have nuts. That's why I decided to try them with almond extract. It adds that amazing flavor (I seriously can't resist anything that has almond extract in it) without actually adding the rash-inducing nut. ;)

Snack Version (a.k.a. Chocolate-less)

Fat is a super important and underrated macronutrient. Low-fat diets have wreaked their havoc for long enough. So enjoy one of these rich, delicious treats as a snack or as a treat with a cup of coffee, and know that it's good for you.

The Line-up
Add most of one bag of unsweetened shredded coconut to a food processor or blender.

Pour in/scoop in your maple syrup, honey, and coconut oil. The coconut oil does not need to be softened or melted.

Add your sweeteners gradually and taste as you go. Maple and honey combined can end up tasting very sweet if you overdo it. Keep in mind that these will taste a little bit sweeter when the mix is warm than when they're cold. If you plan to coat them in sweetened chocolate, you might want to use less sweetener. Or not. :)

Raw Honey in the Winter...
Add salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract (if desired). Blend for a minute or two; scrape down the sides a couple of times. After the mix looks relatively smooth, add the hot water slowly while processing. Take a picture while pouring if you want water all over your counter. The mix should get thinner, but not runny.

The hot water helps the coconut shreds release their fat so the mix gets creamy and sticks together better. It should look something like this:

Super Appetizing Beige Stuff
You can now add the rest of the package of shredded coconut and process a few times to mix everything together.
Grab your scooper and your parchment paper lined baking sheet, and start scooping! I use a 1.5" cookie dough scooper because that's what I have, but smaller bon-bons would be good too, and you could always use a teaspoon or roll them with your hands (but only if you like licking your fingers). 

After you've scooped your bon-bons, put them in the fridge or freezer to firm up. (Or outside in your garage in the winter.)

After they've hardened, feel free please dip them in your favorite dark chocolate. 

Coconut Bon-Bons 
             1 24 oz. package of unsweetened shredded coconut
             1/4-1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup
             1/4 cup raw honey
             1/4 cup coconut oil
             1 T vanilla extract
             1 tsp almond extract
             1/8 tsp sea salt
             1/4 cup (more or less) hot water
Add the first four ingredients to a food processor. Blend until fairly smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Add the extracts and salt and pulse a few times. Turn your processor on, and slowly (and carefully) pour hot water into the opening in the top. You don't want it to get soupy - just thinned out, kind of like hummus. Add the last bit of coconut from the package and pulse just enough to mix it together with the rest.  
Scoop the bon-bons out onto parchment paper lined baking sheet(s) with a cookie dough scooper or teaspoons, or the old fashioned hand rolled method. Chill until firm. If you want, you can press an almond into each ball.  
Optional (but recommended): Dip in chocolate. :) (I usually melt a whole bar of my favorite chocolate slowly in a glass bowl over a steaming pot of water. Then I gently spin the bon-bons around in the chocolate with two forks and set them back on the cookie sheet to harden. Because of the coconut oil, be careful not to let the bon-bons sit in the hot chocolate for too long or they'll start to fall apart.) 
Keep your bon-bons in the refrigerator. 

If you're not used to eating coconut or foods with coconut oil, take it easy at first. It can cause gastric upset if you jump in too quickly. In other words, plan to take some of these treats to a friend on the day that you make them to avoid eating half the batch yourself... *cough*
One final note: the almond extract is the key


-- Christine

This post is entered into Kelly the Kitchen Kop's REAL FOOD WEDNESDAY blog carnival.