Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An anniversary of sorts

Just over a year ago, I had McDonald's for the last time.  Let me set the scene.  As a child, McDonald's was a common family frequent for meals on the go or in a pinch.  I loved dunking my fries in the sweet n' sour sauce and always debated whether or not to get the quarter pounder with cheese or the nuggets.  (Usually the quarter pounder with cheese won the debate as an adult, but as a child, it was nuggets hands down).  It's salty, fatty food always tasted heavenly, and it was always my favorite fast food pit stop, especially when on road trips or waiting at the airport.  (Without fail, I ALWAYS got McDonald's at the airport).  It was a way to bond with my family -- if my sister and I didn't like what was served for dinner, we'd sneak out of the house and grab a McDonald's meal, giggling with glee the whole time.  Even seeing Super Size Me in college didn't keep me from eating there.  My apologies to Morgan Spurlock -- it's an amazing documentary, and I should have learned my lesson.  At that time, I was just too foolish and in denial about my health, my weight, and sustainability.  Besides, if mainstream America ate McDonald's, it was fine that I did... right?

(How eating McDonald's for 30 days straight adversely affected Spurlock's health)

Fast forward to June 2010.   I had just met Melissa, who challenged me to try a Primal diet.  So, on June 20, I begrudgingly had my McDonald's hurrah.  After meeting with some friends, my husband and I drove to McDonald's where I inhaled a Diet Coke and a quarter pounder with cheese meal.  It felt like my last meal.  When would I be able to have my next McDonald's fix?  Could I make a month without going to the golden arches?  I felt like I had set myself for failure and I was pretty cranky and annoyed.

The first two weeks were rough.  Feeling like I couldn't eat something made me more resentful.  Plus, I had given up Diet Coke, my staple drink, and was experiencing serious food and caffeine withdrawals.  I wanted to drive to Micky D's immediately and say "screw you!" to this unrealistic healthy lifestyle some person I barely knew had convinced me to follow and devour a 20 piece chicken McNugget meal in my car.  But as time went on, it got easier.  Over the past several months, I've probably seriously considered going to McDonald's three times, but I always managed to talk myself out of it.  I thought this change would be too difficult and unsustainable, but since that fateful June day, I haven't looked back.  And I'm proud to say that I've been McDonald's free for a whole year.  And it's been great.  My cholesterol and blood pressure levels are impeccable, and I've received clean bills of health from my doctor, who is also inspired by the health changes I've made.  Yes, there are times when I get nostalgic and sentimental for my McDonald's memories, but I'm happy and proud that I no longer frequent there.

Is there any lifestyle change that you've made that's been easier than you thought?  Let me know!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A few of my favorite foods...

I thought it was time to list some of my favorite food products or places to buy food.  Perhaps it might get some ideas rolling for new foods to try!

Taza Chocolate

I've talked a lot about Taza before, but it is worth saying again and again that this chocolate is unbelievably amazing.  With very basic ingredients (and no soy lecithin), the stone mill process gives it a great texture, and it has a rich flavor without being over-powering.  After eating Taza, I haven't wanted any other chocolate bars.  And while it's a little pricey (about $6.49 a bar), I find that a little goes a long way and satisfies my taste buds so I can make a bar last a long time.  (Proof:  I've carried a bar in my purse for almost two weeks and still have about 1/3 left!)  I always go for the 80% dark chocolate, and buy it at Tilly's or City Feed, but you can also buy it online -- even Amazon carries it!

Basil Infused Olive Oil

Basil infused olive oil was one of my latest and most favorite discoveries.  I absolutely love it for salads -- it gives a flavorful and refreshing taste, which is perfect for summer.  Give L'Olivier a try, although you can make your own (or find it in gourmet food shops).

Red Barn Coffee

Red barn is organic, fair trade, and a locally flavored coffee -- everything used to make the beans is found in Massachusetts (minus the beans themselves).  The Red Barn Blend is our standard go-to; it's a medium roast that has flavor without being too strong.  The Ethiopia Yirgacheffe is another great roast.  Their coffee is smoother than Starbucks and packs better flavor, in my opinion.

Apple Ice Wine
I discovered Still River Winery at the Natick Farmers Market. Apple ice wine is, well, made from basically frozen apples. While it's probably not technically "paleo," it's basically like drinking alcoholic apple cider/juice.  It's not as heavy as apple cider, but has a lot more flavor than apple juice.  Yum.  It's perfect for a Sunday brunch or a summer evening get together.


For some reason, radishes have always intimidated me -- I never had much of an interest in eating them.  A trip to the farmers market changed my mind.  After speaking with Freitas Farm, I decided to buy a bunch and am now hooked.  Radishes give a great crunch to my salads.  I was worried that they'd have too strong a flavor, but I am happily mistaken.  Plus, they make any dish look more beautiful.

Chestnut Farms
Again, I've written about Chestnut Farms before, but their meat products are fabulous.  Most of the meat we consume comes from there, and we buy everything from pork chops, to sirloin, to on the bone chicken breast. A sustainable farm with grass-fed animals, their meat just tastes better -- like meat, if that makes sense.  Every time I now eat meat or poultry from the grocery store, I find it lackluster and flavorless.  Grass fed is definitely an experience worth having, both for the palate and the body.  For a great weekend breakfast, I highly recommend their sausage patties.  I never really liked sausage before, but Chestnut Farms has me hooked!  It has a great blend of spices and isn't greasy.

Dry Brine

One of my favorite Williams-Sonoma products, it's the fastest and easiest way to make a great roast chicken.  Slather some over a whole chicken or bone in breast the night before; leave it covered in the fridge over night, and roast the next evening at 375 degrees.  Voila!  Dinner is served.  It is a great accompaniment to the bone in chicken breast from Chestnut Farms.


Rosemary is just my all-time favorite herb.  Perfect for pork, poultry, sweet potatoes, sauces, red meat, a little rosemary goes a long way for giving food intense, refreshing flavor.  Fresh is the way to go.

Stonewall Kitchen Sea Salt

Stonewall Kitchen is a neat company from Maine that specializes in gourmet food products like spices, dressings, cake mixes, and marinades.  While a lot of their food isn't paleo, their sea salt is out of this world, and great for cooking.  Adding a pinch to any dish will help bring out the flavor.

Trader Joe's Creamy Almond Butter with Sea Salt

At first, I was skeptical of almond butter.  I don't love eating nuts, and I was always a big fan of the Skippy peanut butter.  But when I decided to be a cleaner, healthier eater, I decided to give it a try.  On a banana, on an apple, or just straight out of the jar, I now cannot go a day without my almond butter from Trader Joe's.  Weekly, I clear out the shelves!  It's perfect for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.  I'm simply in love!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


So, I'm not quite sure how "eating healthy" was defined in this poll, but according to this MSNBC story, Americans are doing less of it.  Basically, Americans (mostly young adults, seniors, Hispanics, and women) are eating less fruits and vegetables.  Don't be one of them!  Enjoy the summer produce available, whether at the grocery store, farm stand, or a local farmers market.  It's not perfect, but this article has some great ideas for kick starting a new attitude toward eating (and I love how it acknowledges how great eggs, the most maligned food of my childhood, actually are for you!)

Gluten-free eating is so en vogue right now, people opening gluten-free bakeries and stores are succeeding (and thriving) during the recession: so, if you need a "Plan B," think about Gluten-free options, according to the NY Times.

In a food rut?  Check on Mark's favorite foods on marksdailyapple.com for a dinner or snack inspiration!

Another reason why we all need to get some sleep: not sleeping enough makes us more tempted to reach for the carrot cake instead of the carrots.  My best advice -- keep that food out of the house so you're not tempted by it at home, get your rest, and if you do need that extra sweetness, invest in some great dark chocolate bars (I recommend Taza Chocolate).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Some food for thought

I think this is a busy, but awesome graphic organizer of the Paleo diet, and I just had to share!

Go to http://infographic.paleolithicdiet.com/ for more!

Paleo diet -- biologically makes sense, or another fad?