Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Swirl Banana Cake

My husband's grandmother just celebrated her 89th birthday, so we decided to have a special celebration at our house with the kiddos.  It's not everyday you turn 89!  So we wanted to have a little cake and sing to make it extra special.

This recipe is wonderful to make with little helpers.  Lots of opportunities for measuring, stirring and mixing.

I also added a super easy glaze which I will detail below.  Since I will not be eating this cake I used milk to make the glaze, but you could just as easily use almond or coconut milk for a dairy free glaze.

With a few candles you've got a lovely cake!

Paleo Chocolate Swirl Banana Cake
3 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
2 tbs oil, whatever oil you prefer to bake with (examples would be walnut, coconut, even olive)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Swirl (optional)
1 tbs cocoa powder
splash vanilla extract
1 tbs maply syrup
1/2 tbs oil
splash of your preferred milk, if needed

Glaze (optional and not paleo)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
splash vanilla or maple extract
couple tablespoons milk of choice, starting with just one, and add more until reaching desired consistency

Preheat your oven to 350.  I prefer to line a 9" square pan with parchment, but grease yours if you don't like or don't have parchment.

Mash your bananas and mix in your eggs, oil, syrup, ACV, and extract.  In a separate bowl, mix your almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and then add wet to dry and incorporate.

Pour your batter into your baking pan.  In a small bowl, mix up your chocolate swirl.  Pour it over top of the batter, and with a sharp knife or toothpick, swirl the chocolate mixture around until it's well distributed.  I had some additional leftover that I just drizzled on the top.  Bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out cleanly- start checking at 20 min.

When the cake has cooled you can pour your glaze on top, and use the back of a spoon to distribute.

While this cake is grain and dairy free, it does have almond flour so is certainly not suitable for those with nut allergies.  There are scores of coconut flour banana bread recipes available however.  I have one on this blog, but it uses sugar-free sweeteners, which I no longer use or approve of.  It would be easy enough to sub out the SF sweetener for maple syrup or whatever, but I would rather put up a new recipe than link to that one.

When it comes to baking, at this point my personal stance is that there are really no baked-goods that I should be eating, as I no longer eat artificially sweetened things, and cannot really tolerate the carbs or sugar anyways.  Whatever I bake is going to be for friends and family, and I want to be sure everything I use is natural, free of pesticides or chemicals, and as healthful as possible.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lemon Thyme Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are IMO.  They are super easy to roast, a total crowd pleaser, and so damn good for ya.  It's always nice to bring a brussel sprout dish rather than your customary green bean side dish I think.  We have roasted brussel sprouts pretty regularly in our household, so when making them for company it's nice to give your usual recipe a little boost.

This recipe definitely accomplishes that.  With a fresh, bright flavor and a bit of a tang, these are for sure not your average sprouts.  With just a few extra steps, you'll have an updated brussel sprout dish in no time.

Lemon Thyme Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Bag (or two) or Brussel sprouts, quartered
Juice from half a lemon
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 tbs dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients well on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes, or until browned.  These are also good cold the following day, and are really excellent tossed into a salad if you have leftovers.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Paleo Cauliflower Broccoli Mash and Ground Beef Bowl

Funny lookin' bowl of food eh?  Yep, sure is.  And you know what- who cares?  It's tasty, it's easy, it's chock full of veggies, and it is FAST!

I was rummaging through the freezer yesterday, trying to locate my frozen bags of cauli, when I
thought- ugh how boring, cauli mash again.  Why not switch things up a little and make a cauli/broccoli mash?  It will be bright green and a totally new flavor.  Sounds fun right?

This is not even a recipe.  You throw a bag of steam-in-the-bag cauliflower and a bag of broccoli in the microwave and then get your stick-blender and mash it all up in a bowl with butter and salt and you're dunzo.  Cook your ground meat and spoon it over the top and you are good to go!  Obviously this side would be totally appropriate for whatever protein you have on hand, but I thought this sounded appealing and it was already defrosted so there you go.

The best part is that leftovers are perfect for my twin one-year-olds.  This is a great meal for little eaters as it is soft and easy to chew.

So next time you are considering cauli mash for the hundredth time, swap in some broccoli for some green mash that will give you and your kiddos the giggles.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paleo Pumpkin Spice Bread- Grain-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free

#Pumpkinspice is a thing.  It's a stupid thing if you ask me, since really all it means is that something has some combination of cinnamon, ginger, and clove in it, but it's a thing all the same.  Don't even get me started on the pumpkin spice lattes at starbucks.  Oh my god, none of the ingredients in that are even food!  Blech!

Anyways- if you are wanting a quick and easy recipe for pumpkin bread that is entirely nut and dairy free, this is your ticket.

I highly suggest you give my maple syrup/molasses combo a try to get an especially warm and spicy flavor, but if you don't like molasses or just don't have any, using all maple syrup will still be delish.

You could also bake this in a muffin tin for pumpkin spice muffins.  Or frost it for a cake.  Or bake it in a square pan for bars.  Lots and lots and possibilities.

Pumpkin Spice Bread
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp clove (optional, I chose not to use it because I hate cloves, but customarily that is part of "pumpkin spice")
5 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp ACV
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350.  Mix all your wet ingredients, and then add your dry and incorporate well.  Pour into a greased, or parchment lined loaf pan and bake until firm, 25 to 45 min depending on your oven.  You will notice this has a very dark appearance due to the molasses.  That is fine!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Paleo Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad

I am a big proponent of salads.  Breakfast salad, lunch salad, dinner salad, salad as a side dish, main dish, appetizer, whatever.  They are great.  Probably what I eat for dinner most nights of the week.

But a salad doesn't always have to be your standard, run of the mill lettuce and tomato and carrot boring combo.  In fact, I eschew lettuce most of the time altogether.

A great example is this incredibly simple but colorful cucumber and bell pepper salad.  It's exactly what it sounds like- except this one has grape tomatoes as well.

With some EVOO and ACV you are good to go.

This is a huge quantity, as I had intended to bring it to a BBQ.  This would serve 5-6 easily.  Adapt as you will!

Some great additions to this would be:
Feta cheese, if you are primal
Pine Nuts
Greek Olives
Green onions

Here is the quick recipe- so next time you are sick of your usual salads, or want a fresh, raw and colorful side to bring to a potluck, try this out!

Paleo Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad
2 organic english hothouse cucumbers, cut into bite sized chunks
1 green pepper
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3 tbs EVOO
1 1/2 tbs Bragg's ACV
Salt and pepper to taste

This salad keeps pretty well.  The following day in the fridge it is still crisp and not soggy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Paleo Faux-tato Salad

I cannot take credit for this recipe whatsoever, but holy sh*t it is fantastic!  If you are a paleo peep like myself you must try this out for your next shindig or BBQ.  Super easy, you can throw this together in just minutes.  If you miss traditional white potato salad, then please give this a try.

Thanks to the fabulous CupcakesOMG for coming up with this gem!

That is all folks- just a friendly PSA to make this shizz as Labor Day weekend approaches.  You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Natural Deodorant Review: Crystal Essence Deodorant Roll-On, and a New Drugstore Fave

I have been on the hunt for a "natural" deodorant for YEARS.  Firstly, I wanted something non-staining (you know those unsightly yellow stains under your arms?  That's not from sweat, that's from the aluminum chlorhydrate) and secondly, the thought of rubbing metals and parabens all over my skin day in and day out where they are surely being absorbed into my lymphatic system gives me the ickies.
So, I have been on the hunt for quite some time for a natural deodorant that would also, I don't know, work?  Call me crazy, but just because it's natural doesn't mean it shouldn't do its job.  And I am not one of those folks to embrace their natural "scent" and eschew deodorant altogether.  I'll leave that to Matthew Mcconaughey.  Throughout my trials, I found quite a few duds, which I won't discuss at this time, but finally, I have hit the nail on the head.  YAY!!!

This stuff is the  For reals!!!  It has a lovely, inoffensive smell, and is totally natural, and YES actually does the job.  Keep in mind it is a DEODORANT not an antiperspirant.  This means it's job is not to keep you from sweating, but to keep you sufficiently deodorized.  I find that this works for me because I don't normally have a huge wetness issue and so far, it has kept me pretty dry and odor-free.  However, you can't expect to not have to reapply it ever.  If you are of the sweatier persuasion, you may need to reapply this throughout the day, which I still find preferable to parabens and carcinogens in your pits alldayerryday.  And it has a pleasant smell and is a nice little compact shape, super easy to throw in your bag and reapply as needed.

Here is detailed product info, in case you're interested.

Mineral Deodorant Body roll-On. Natural deodorant protection. Crystal Essence Lavender & White Tea, made of natural mineral salts and infused with the relaxing aromas of lavender and white tea, leaves an invisible protective barrier against odor-causing bacteria. Lavender, known as anti-inflammatory and white tea, as a natural relaxant, combine to form an essence that pleases rather than overpowers the senses.  Crystal essence is long-lasting, non-sticky, non-staining and leaves no white residue.
  • no aluminum chlorhydrate
  • hypoallergenic
  • paraben free
  • safe for the environment
  • endorsed by Cancer Treatment Centers
Made in USA.

So,  if you find yourself in the market for a natural, non-shitty deodorant, totally give this one a go.  

Next up, a new love of mine.  Revlon Color Burst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya.  I own quite a few of these, and love them all, but this color in particular is stellar.  Gorgeous color, moderate staying power, super moisturizing and hydrating, gives a lovely sheen without being frosted or shimmery, and a great drugstore price.  I honestly prefer this to many of my high-end lippies.  If you like a non-shimmery peachy wash of color that has a great sheen without being matte, this is a wonderful product to try.  I would not call this color a coral, there is hardly any pink to it, if any, so it's definitely for the warmer complected folks.  However, there are a ton of more cool toned colors to choose from if that happens to be your jam.  Here is a pic of it on me:

And that's it for me today y'all!  Keep on keeping on GFGs.  XoXo

Monday, July 21, 2014

Paleo Broccoli Cucumber Salad

No photo.  Boo!  Bad GFG.  I made this quick salad for a friend's bbq- not really expecting too much of it.  Quite honestly, I used what I had in the house, which was just a handful of ingredients, but it turned out awesome!  This is a super easy and yummy salad for a cook out or bbq, or just a side for any old dinner.  I saw all kinds of recipes with cucumber and broccoli but most called for nuts, dried fruit, or cheese, and I wanted to make something I could eat, just in case there wasn't anything else I could have at the bbq.  I think that is such an important tip for staying grain/dairy/sugar/nut free when going to social events.  Bring something that you can eat so if there is absolutely nothing else, you know you have one thing to eat!

Broccoli Cucumber Salad
1 (organic) hot house cucumber
1 bag of broccoli, or a medium sized head of broccoli, NOT FROZEN
half a yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup mayo, homemade or your fave brand
1.5 T Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt and pepper

Cut your broccoli into bite sized pieces and then toss in your chopped cucumber and chopped onion.  Add mayo, ACV, salt and pepper and refrigerate for a few hours.  I would recommend at least three or four.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Beauty Products to Try!

Hi loves! So I said I was back and then poof! I was gone again.  This summer has been biz-to-the-z and I have just returned from being gone for two straight weeks.  One week we spent in Door County, WI, my happy place and basically favorite place on earth, and then last week I was in Boston for a conference.  These are some new, or newly repurchased products that I am currently loving and so should you!

My undereye situation is no joke peeps.  I have deep purple undereyes and it ain't pretty.  This is not new and they don't actually worsen with lack of sleep- they do get red and puffy however if I haven't slept.  Gorgeous huh?  They are hereditary and the medical term for them is "allergic shiners."  So between that and generally so very thin skin under my eyes, it's the perfect storm for some seriously purple eyes.  And not in a good way.  So I am constantly on the hunt for new products to help me out.

Unfortunately, there is no topical product, at least that I am aware of, that can help with the discoloration.  I have heard that an anti-histamine is actually the best way to tackle the discoloration but I am not about to start taking a bunch of steroids for such a silly reason.  Topical products can help to plump the area though.  I have somewhat sunken, thin undereyes, and this cerave eye repair creme is both plumping, smoothing, and very moisturizing, and a drugstore product to boot!  It has replaced all my other eye creams, even my fancy shmancy ones.

The second new eye product i'm digging is this First Aid Beauty Triple Remedy.  It has a wonderfully cooling metal applicator and leaves a pink shimmery tint on the skin, great for layering over your eye cream and under your concealer.  Not pictured is a similar product but a drugstore buy, the garnier under eye roller ball.  I enjoy both and would recommend them both.

The Originis charcoal face mask is a wonderful new addition to my skincare routine.  I use it mainly just on my nose, skin surrounding the nose, and chin, to help clear out pores and oil.  I really like it and I have not found another charcoal mask that works as well.  While not exfoliating or moisturizing, its great for clearing out your pores so that your other products can really get in there and do their thing.

That tiny little empty pot with the green label is a fabulous new gel product from Ole Henriksen, called Invigorating Night Gel.  Holy moly do I love this stuff.  It is an oil free gel you slather all over your face (at night only as it causes sunburn if applied during the day) and you honest to goodness wake up to more vibrant, prettier, healthier looking skin.  It has anti-aging ingredients and I definitely can say it is slightly exfoliating and plumping.  Loves it!

The next product I have used for years for just recently had to repurchase.  Can't go wrong with some good ol' oil free tinted moisturizer.  A little SPF and a lot of moisturizing without leaving your skin oily or greasy, this stuff is gold.  If you put it on and don't powder, you'll have dewy, moist looking skin for hours.

If a tinted moisturizer isn't doing it for you though, and you want something with more skin benefits, this Dermadoctor DD cream is worth trying out.  I was in the market for a new BB, one with anti-aging, moisturizing, and sun-protective properties.  This product is that and more.  It is a skin perfector, blemish clearing, pore diffusing beast!  And I believe it is a physical sunscreen and not a chemical sunscreen if that matters to you.  It is shade adjusting which I really appreciate because with my face being a tad darker these days, I don't want to have a product just sit in my drawer for 9 months until next summer.  It is not much coverage, but could certainly be layered under foundation if that's what your into.  I wear it alone and apply it with my fingers for the best look.

Lastly is a fun new lipgloss.  It's Sephora, and it's called Hot Coral and is a sheer hot pink/coral tint with beautiful coral sparkles.  Great for summer and looks pretty worn alone and even better layered over a coral lip.

Great summer products I'm totally digging right now.  Tell me what your loves are!! XoXo GFG

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Currently Loving


Sometimes you find some new products that are not just good but truly amaaaaaazing.  This post is about a few of those items.  I'd like to start featuring some products that get the amaaaaaazing thumbs up from time to time.  These products are not necessarily high or low end, they are truly what I'm Currently Loving.  Let's get started:

Soap and Glory Great Kisser Lip Moisture Balm
Holy cow this stuff is fabulous.  A great peachy flavor, smooth and thick formula but not greasy (which I hate hate hate, nothing worse than oily lips) or waxy, stays on for hours (like, I wake up and still have it on) and a wonderful peachy flavor.  It is pretty much colorless but on me almost dulls my natural lip color which I actually really like because my lips are really pigmented.  It is so velvety and luxurious and I honestly do prefer it to my Dior creme de rose.

Nars Surabaya
This little nars eye duo isn't the easiest to find.  It's not at sephora and you can't always find it at the makeup counter.  But holy cow it is probably one of the best formulations you can find in the eye duo. The shadows are so creamy and pigmented and a total dream to apply and blend.  If you are looking for a super warm and intense brown eye, this is it.  You get a beautiful reddy town, with subtle glitter, and a warm chestnut.  It is GORGEOUS people.  Definitely more of a fall/winter look but it is just beyond.  I have swatched tons of the duos and none of them apply like this.

MAC Peachykeen
Ugh how did I not have this blush until now?  The perfect amount of pink, orange, and coral, this blush has a beautiful sheen and very faint shimmer to it that gives your cheeks a gorgeous glow.  It is very pigmented so a teensy bit goes a long way and has an almost bronzey look to it in the pan.  It is freaking amazing.  It is not golden at all but super glowy.  I can't stop wearing it!

MAC Perfect Topping, LE
Sorry no link on this one, it is LE but the sales gal assured me it comes back fairly regularly.  This is a beautiful subtle highlight that I sort of dot on my forehead in between my eyebrows, and on my cheeks beside my nose.  It gives you a beautiful glow (can you tell I'm all about getting a glow?) and is the last stop on my makeup train everyday.  It would also be lovely to apply on the cheekbones if you like a super subtle cheekbone highlight.

L'oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Lights 
Have you tried these yet?  They are basically pressed pigments, they even have these cute little plastic pressy things to keep all the pigment in place when the lid is on.  I had been on the hunt for the perfect rose gold that wasn't too pink or too copper and this is it.  It is gorgeous all over the lid and is surprisingly versatile with a range of different looks.  And it's drugstore!  yay!

Sephora #56 Pro Flawless Airbrush
For such a small brush-head, this brush packs a lot of punch.  Densely packed, it is fabulous for cream or liquid foundations and blends to a dream.  If you fancy synthetic bristles and a flawless finish, this is your brush.

Sigma F80
The end all, be all of foundation brushes.  The brush to which all others are measured.  This flat synthetic kabuki will buff your skin to perfection.  The thick and sturdy handle is the perfect weight and length.  What else can you say about this brush that hasn't been said a million times.  If you only have one foundation brush, let it be this one!

Soap and Glory Butter Yourself
This is a gorgeous smelling body butter that is super moisturizing, just the tiniest bit greasy, but it does dry down fairly quickly, and supposedly packed with antioxidants (?) but honestly, who cares when it smells this damn good.  Check out the description: Get velvety with the formula's resurfacing properties, skin-perfecting fruits, and shea butter. This creamy hydrator features the exotic citrus Fruitigo™ fragrance, so skin lingers with delicious notes of frozen yuzu, orange oil, and jungle pomelo all-day long. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Busy Paleo Mom Go-To Meals

Today, chatting with a co-worker, I briefly lamented the end (or, to be more optimistic, the gap) in my days of challenging recipes, with long ingredient lists and tons of prep.  It was fun, it was a creative outlet for me, and it was always such a huge sense of accomplishment and pride when something I created out of thin air turned out great.  I think someday I'll get back there, but for now, I have to be a little more efficient with my time.  I can't spend an hour (or more) preparing something for just myself and my husband.  Not when there are three other little mouths that all need to eat in a small window of time.

Over the weekend, we were lucky enough to have some cousins in from Chicago that graciously spent an entire day with us at the house, helping with the kiddos, having dinner, making us feel unhurried and content to be at home.  It was lovely.  My cousin asked about dinner times, and did we ever wait until the kids were in bed to sit down and have a meal, just Mike and I.  That sounds lovely, in theory, but in practice is just not feasible.  By the time everyone is down for the night it might be 830, and to then have to sit down and eat, and then clean up, well it might be 10 o'clock before you're done in the kitchen.  And that's assuming dinner is ready and waiting once the kids are in bed.  Just doesn't work out for me- not when my alarm goes off at ten to 5 in the morning, 7 days a week.  So that means you have to get smart about meals, and have a good list of quick, easy, and satisfying meals at the ready.  These are just my humble suggestions:

  • As I've said, a big garbage salad, with leftover veggies and two proteins.  If this is your meal I believe that an avocado and TWO proteins is a necessity.  My favorite salad dressing at the moment is just Bragg's ACV and some EVOO and himalayan sea salt and pepper.  Throw in any leftover veggies you have, and some jarred veggies like artichokes, peppers, and capers, and you have a great salad in under a minute.
  • Chicken sausages and roasted veggies.  The sausages are pre-cooked so don't need to cook for ages in the oven.  Put your sausages on a sheet, and cauli or broccoli on another with some salt, garlic powder, and olive oil, and roast everything at 425 for 25 minutes and you are good to go.
  • Smoked oysters and avocado.  Slice your avocado, throw in your smoked oysters (or trout) and you have a filling meal in just seconds.  
  • Organic, uncured hot dogs have saved the day on more than one occasion
  • Tuna in olive oil is a great protein to have on hand- open the can and toss with greens, a squeeze of lemon, some capers, and maybe some defrosted green beans and you again, have an easy salad in no time.
  • Organic chicken thighs and mashed cauli.  Drizzle raw chicken thighs with some balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or so.  While the chicken is cooking throw some steam-in-a-bag cauli in the microwave and cook until tender.  Use your stick blender and toss in some kerrygold and you have mashed cauli in less time than it takes to cook the chicken.  
  • Organic, grassfed burgers from the freezer section are so great to have on hand.  Add a slice of tomato and a pickle and you're done!  
  • Cooked shrimp in the freezer only needs to be submerged in a bowl of cold water to thaw.  Shrimp is super versatile- you can throw it on a salad, some zucchini noodles, gluten free pasta if that's your thing, or just enjoy on their own with a side of veggies.  
  • I always always always have a large stash of frozen veggies on hand.  A package of fire roasted peppers in the frozen and some ground meat and seasonings and you have a meal in no time- with hardly any dirty dishes to boot!  Cook your ground meat, throw in your still frozen peppers, and you are done in 15 minutes.
  • Eggs. Bacon.  Duh.  If you are feeling adventurous add some spinach or asparagus (from the freezer of course) and you've got a fancy breakfast-for-dinner.  
While this certainly isn't an exhaustive list, it is good starting place.  The single most important part is having a well-stocked freezer.  I've said time and time again, yes, fresh is always better.  But in a pinch, if you have some good proteins waiting for you in the freezer, and you can think ahead and have them defrosted, you will have a good meal at your fingertips any night of the week.  I am not super into meal planning or menu planning- we've all seen the instagram pics of people's precious menus for the week written in chalk on their darling little chalkboard walls, that's just not me.  But if you can take two seconds on Sundays and throw some proteins into a defrost bowl in the fridge, you'll be so glad you did.  

I sure hope this is helpful!  Just remember to stock your kitchen with some basics, avocados, canned tuna and oysters, some basic proteins, and plenty of frozen veggies and you have an almost endless variety of quick meals.  No, they aren't the most creative, but they are tasty and healthy.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make Your Own Paleo Baby Food

The title of this post makes me sound crunchier than I am.  I never intended to be a "make your own baby food" type of gal.  It seemed like such a precious thing to do that uber-controlling parents did. But, my assumptions have been debunked.

I am now a baby-food-making convert.  The reason is simple.  It's easier.

I have two little mouths to feed.  I want to give them organic, natural foods.  Purchasing the quantity of organic baby food that I would need to feed two babies for a whole week would cost a fortune, and I'd have to go to multiple stores to find it.  What I do is way cheaper and way easier and creates far less waste.  It all started innocently enough.  I hemmed and hawed over what their first food should be for weeks, finally settling on avocados.  Mushy, full of healthy fats and nutrients, hermetically sealed in their own packaging, it seemed perfect.  I didn't have to steam or puree anything- just mush with the back of a spoon et voila!

So, we started with avocados.  Laziness meant that we stuck with avocados for three weeks before trying anything else.  In this time the babies went from sort of tolerating it, to tolerating it moderately, to enjoying it!  By this time both they, and I, were ready to try something else.  At that point I had decided a couple new foods to try.  First was egg yolks.  I simply boil a few eggs for three or four minutes and after the yolk has cooled a bit they slurp it up.  Not much chewing is involved so it is a relatively painless process and a great way to guarantee a lot of nutrition in short order.  The babies have really enjoyed yolks and I like to take the extra time to make it for them on my days off.

Next up was sweet potatoes.  I buy a big bag of organic sweet potatoes and steam about half of them. 35 minutes in the steamer and they are ready to be peeled.  My handy stick blender makes mush of them in no time.  Add a little formula or water to thin out the consistency and you are good to go.  I store mine in little snack containers that hold probably four ounces or so.  I don't make enough to need to freeze it- generally we have been running out every four days or so.  When that happens I go back to my trusty avocados if I don't have time to make something else until the weekend.

After they had mastered the consistency of the sweet potato I decided to let them try bananas.  This was their first fruit and naturally they quite like the sweeter taste!  Again, no steaming or pureeing necessary- just some mushing with a spoon and you're good to go.

But I wanted another veggie and something that I could be sure would be palatable.  I am sure there are plenty of moms out there pureeing kale and spinach for their babies but it is more important to me to make them food I know they are going to like and enjoy- and instill in them a healthy desire and appetite for real food, rather than force something down their throats.  So I decided on organic carrots. Do you know how much two pounds of organic carrots costs?  $1.89.  Do you know how much one pouch of organic carrots costs at Target?  $1.63.  You do the math.  All two pounds of it steamed in about 20 minutes, and only took a few minutes more to puree, and now I have six containers of carrots in the fridge, meals for the week!

The last food we have introduced thus far is organic applesauce.  I just got a big jar of it and have been adding it to different foods here and there.  I like how watery it is and its amazing ability to make practically anything palatable.  Applesauce was really the sole sweetener I used for Sara until she was two years old!  I added it to oatmeal, plain yogurt, even cottage cheese, rather than use sugar or another sweetener.  It's versatile, healthy, and cheap!  Can't complain about that!

We will probably work on carrots for a couple weeks and then add in something else.  The reality is that I will not be steaming and pureeing multiple vegetables at a time and doling them out into separate containers, or creating little custom combinations.  And frankly, I would rather move on to soft table foods sooner rather than later.  Poached chicken, soft scrambled eggs, some soft cauliflower, etc.  When there is one person feeding three people you tend to prefer not spoon feeding two of them, right?

Do you make your own baby food? Any suggestions for me?  I have to say, I approached this with complete and total nonchalance.  Not because I'm that cool, but because I devoted basically zero thought to it.  I was terrified what my grocery bill would be buying jarred baby food and frankly, did not have a high opinion of it from my experiences feeding sari.  Expensive, crappy tasting, and makes tons of garbage.  Um, no thanks?  So I started with avocado and assumed I'd figure out the rest later.  What started out as me just wanting to give them organic baby food turned into me becoming a weirdo crunchy baby food maker.  And you know what?  I think I'll stick with it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Product Review: Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation

#NotPaleo people.  This is a product review for Revlon Colorstay Whipped foundation.  I have worn the regular colorstay foundation in the bottle for quite some time- I like that they have two formulations, one for normal skin and one for combination, and I had tried the whipped version once before but in the wrong shade, so couldn't really make a clear decision on it.  As summer approaches I am rethinking my foundation collection- to include more BB creams and tinted moisturizers.  No one likes cake face in 80% humidity.  Ick.  So I have repurchased an old fave, Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer, and will also be using a lot of my IT Cosmetics CC cream and Benefit Better than BB.  But there will still be days when I want something a bit more full coverage and for those days, I picked Revlon Colorstay Whipped.  I find it is just as long-wearing as the regular colorstay foundation, and quite full coverage, but the formulation is totally different.  It is creamy, somewhat mousse-y and very thick, and a little goes a long way.  As you can see from the picture, it comes in a glass jar, so you have to scoop out product with your finger or brush or some other delivery system, which is not very sanitary and totally gross in my opinion, but whatevs.  The big difference for me is that this formulation contains salicylic  acid, which is a pore-clearing agent and sloughs off dead skin cells and generally works to clear skin.  For my skin, salicylic acid in the summer is a must.  Humidity tends to melt makeup and when combined with sweat, you have a recipe for clogged pores within five minutes of being outdoors.  Uh, no thanks.  So a foundation with some SA is going to help your makeup go the distance in the heat.

So for the review- here is what I like.  I like that is medium to full coverage.  When using a flat kabuki or dense buffing brush, it gives a flawless satiny finish, not crazy matte so you look dead.  I like that I have to do minimal concealing (well, I never conceal anything except undereyes so I guess that is stupid to say) and I like that it actually starts to look better at about hour 2 of wear.  It lasts an incredibly long time before it starts breaking up, on me.  I went about 10 hours before I needed a touch up, but by hour 14 it was looking seriously rough.  Normally I do not wear makeup for 14 hours straight but it was a very long day.  I think a solid 10 hours of wear is pretty great.  That is still quite a bit longer than I would normally have on a full face.  Mind you, most of the 14 hours were spent inside.  Would it hold up if I were outside all day? Hells no.  Coming in and out a few times during a hot summer day?  Maybe.  Probably.  More so than any of my other full coverage foundations.

All in all, definitely a thumbs up.  I would say this is a must-purchase drugstore product if you are like me and want a fuller coverage, long-wearing foundation and have combi skin.  In fact, drugstore or not, both the colorstay foundations are great purchases.

I wear Sand Beige, and am NC20 for reference.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Busy Week Eats- Paleo Garbage Salad, Chicken Hearts and Brussel Sprouts

We had a fairly normal week chez GFG.  Normal meaning crazed, chaotic, frantic, and maybe a little bipolar.  But that's ok!  It's Friday, and the forecast looks positively delicious.  You know what else is delicious?  Garbage salads.  So satisfying and yummy, but also a fantastic way to clean out the fridge/pantry.

Garbage salads never contain the exact same ingredients but do always contain a few key items- two kinds of protein to keep you full, flavorful greens, some roasted veggies, and a simple dressing of EVOO and red wine vinegar.  This week's salad was arugula, shrimp, pepperoni, black olives, avocado, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke, and cucumber.  If I have some laying around, I like to throw in a little broccoli too.  I will usually go for arugula because I find it lasts longer in the fridge and I really prefer the taste to plain old lettuce.

Some other great ideas for your big ol' pile o' garbage salad-
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • cauli
  • sweet potatoes
  • green onions
  • tomato
  • roasted eggplant
  • carrots
  • salami
  • chicken
  • spinach
  • nuts (if you aren't allergic, obvy)
  • basil, or other fresh herbs
  • asparagus
  • zucchini
  • kale
And the list goes on.  The secret to having a garbage salad at the ready at any time is all about what's in your pantry.  Yes fresh veggies FTW always but sometimes you just aren't that prepared.  So I like to keep olives, artichokes, red peppers, and capers around as much as possible.  With a protein or two and some greens you are good to go!  I have a feeling as summer approaches this will become more and more a part of our weekly menu.

We also had a quick meal of chicken hearts and brussel sprouts.  I know- chicken hearts EWWWWW I can hear you all collectively saying.  But don't knock it til you try it.  They are really good and cook up in a flash.  They have a taste slightly reminiscent of chicken liver but nowhere near as overpowering.  They are leaner and more muscly so won't make you feel full in 2.4 seconds like liver.  The best part is I roasted everything, the hearts and quartered brussel sprouts all together on one baking sheet at 425.  No messy pots and pans to deal with.  Just some olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper and you are good to go.  Chicken hearts are dirt cheap and crazy good for you.  You can buy enough for two or three people for like, $2.  Keep 'em in the freezer for emergency protein.  You'll thank me some day!

In other news, we are planning a little weekend getaway to Santa Fe, NM in October.  Anyone have hotel recommendations?  What else.... oh yeah... we are getting ready for a very large, and depressing purchase... a minivan...  Please excuse me while I go vomit/sob in the corner.  So some car shopping will probably take place this weekend.  After doing some exhaustive research on SUVs with a third row, I came to the conclusion that we really have no choice but to get a minivan.  We take quite a few road trips with the dog, and once you've got the stroller in, and the dog, and the luggage, and the kiddos, well- you get the picture.  So yeah.  Wish us luck!  

Have a great weekend GFGs! xoxo

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Where Have I Been: Part 3- Holy $#%& I Have Preemie Infant Twins and a Three Year Old

The babies were born on September 12, 2013.  The neonatologists told us to expect a four or five week stay.  Instead, they came home a week and a half later!  I could barely walk from the c-section and had difficulty getting up and down a flight of stairs due to 14 weeks of bedrest!  How was I going to take care of three kids?!  I was basically attached to the breast pump all day (I did the math, five hours of pumping A DAY) and I didn't want to take any painkillers even though I was recovering from both a vaginal and c-section delivery so it was a difficult transition.  But you know what?  The babies were healthy.  I was at home with my family and NOT on bedrest.  We had survived a hellish ordeal and came out the other end with the most wonderful outcome possible.  We were overwhelmed, but happy.
We started to adapt to our new life.  My daughter fell in love with her "baby tinies" and we tried to settle in to our new normal.

The twins are seven months old now and those first days at home seem like many years ago- I remember them through a strange haze- even at the time I felt foggy and fuzzy, almost like I was underwater.  Sleep deprivation will do funny things to you!  I did not breast feed them, I pumped exclusively for three months, which was an enormous struggle for me, and was elated to return the pump, vowing NEVER to look at one again.  Why didn't I breast feed?  I say this 100% without guilt- because I didn't really feel like it.  Yup.  I just didn't want to.  I had nursed my older for six months and it sucked ballz.  I did not enjoy it.  I pumped at work which was torture, it hurt, I had issues with production, I never felt like my daughter was getting enough, and I basically hated it and stressed about it constantly.  I nursed the littles sometimes, when I thought it would be more convenient or better for them or whatever, but it was just too much.  I still had issues with production despite trying EVERYTHING and I mean everything, finally resorting to ordering Domperidone from freaking New Zealand.  It did nothing to boost my supply and I was thrilled to start weaning in November.  Between pumping (which I had to do no matter where I was, every three hours) feeding, changing, and dealing with my toddler, it was just a lot.  My husband was back at work, my daughter was in school half a day three days a week, I still had a freelance gig despite being on maternity leave from my real job... and I was trying to get my head and body back after having been through a traumatic experience.  I was recovering from a lot.

Friends and family helped, knowing I was going back to a job I loved helped too.  We spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my family and made plans to take a belated trip to Quebec over Christmas break.  These things gave me strength and perspective, and slowly we made it through the newborn phase, relatively unscathed.  I struggled through many trying, desperate times.  I cried a few times in frustration and isolation.  But the babies thrived, my daughter was elated beyond words to be a big sister, and my husband and I were eternally grateful for our good fortune.  It's easy to type these words now, the twins have just started sleeping through the night and after over six months of only a few hours of sleep here and there, we are getting back to a more normal nighttime routine.  Well, whatever you can call normal with three kids under four anyways.

It has not been easy.  We are frustrated and have incredibly short fuses.  My three year old tests my patience and challenges me constantly to remain calm and stay in control.  My younger daughter has been a terrible eater from day one and will not take a bottle from anyone but me or the nanny (thank goodness) and eats only a teeny little bit- so she is only about 12 lbs give or take at 7 months!  But she's a darling little sweetie pie and smart as a whip and an absolute joy.  My son, my big boy, my little daredevil, is always making noise, either giggling or cooing or screaming for attention.  A big wet kiss from him is melt-worthy.

Okeedoke.  So that's that.  That is my life in a nutshell.  I giddily went back to work in December and thank the lord I was able to do so.  God knows I am certainly not working for the money- since I pretty much give my whole salary to the nanny or to preschool!  But it's worth it, and it works for me and my family.  I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom- but I am home two days a week which to me is plenty.

So finally- yes, this is a FOOD blog, I know.  Talk about food how 'bout then!?!?!  Geez.

I am now 100% paleo.  I do not eat dairy (however I use organic heavy cream in my coffee and Kerrygold butter)  and to top it off I have new allergies and intolerances since giving birth.  I can no longer eat most nuts and that has been a challenge.  So baking has not really been at the top of my list- but when I occasionally do it is with coconut flour or using sunbutter.  Meal-wise- I keep it SUPER simple.  Gone are the days of elaborate meals with lengthy ingredient lists and preparation.  Most nights, if I'm not throwing a kitchen sink salad together, it's roasted protein of some kind and roasted veggies.  I set the oven at 425- put in a tray of meat, a tray of veggies, and dinner is ready about 25 minutes later.

I also have become a pretty big believer in intermittent fasting.  I have done it loosely for a long time, just because I don't like breakfast, so I am just a bit firmer now.  I have a six hour eating window, so about 1pm to 7pm, and I fast about two days a week.  I don't plan on doing this forever.  But I do believe that for now, it is working.  I believe that when you are fasting, your body can spend energy and resources on healing and detoxifying rather than digesting.  Fasting lowers blood sugar and your body learns to use fat for energy instead of glucose.  My blood sugars have been stellar and I am able, as a type 1 diabetic, to live without ANY diabetes drugs of any kind.  Will I always be able to live without insulin?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But every year I go not dependent on insulin is a win in my book.

I gained 26 lbs with this pregnancy.  That doesn't sound like much, and indeed I wish it had been more so those babies could have fattened up a bit more before they arrived, but you have to remember that I lost a TON of muscle.  Bouncing back, while not half as bad as many women have it I fully admit, has still not been as easy as I thought it would be.  After my first I was less than my pre-pregnancy weight at my 6-week post-partum appointment.  The weight fell off and then some from breastfeeding and I assumed it would be the same this time around!  Nope.

I have a very full schedule and I do not have the luxury of hiring a sitter everytime I want to take a fitness class.  Luckily I have a treadmill and now that the weather is improving I can plan on a 40 to 60 minute walk everyday, provided I get up at 5am to do it!  But for me, exercise is both therapy and medicine, and I can tell my mood is shit on the days I don't get myself moving.  I am happier and more energetic if I exercise every day.

I am working on cutting myself some slack in the body image department.  It's been tough.  I had become used to seeing myself a certain way.  I have to remind myself, multiple times a day, that I have the rest of my life to sculpt and define my body just so, but only a very short time to enjoy these delicious little babies who are completely and 100% dependent on me for every single thing.  Soon they'll be entertaining themselves and running around wreaking havoc on the place and not waking up at 5am for a bottle and I can head back to my nutty high-intensity workout classes with all the other sado-masochist moms out there.  I remind myself, multiple times a day, that I am 31 years old (today!) and I am soooo fortunate that I don't have years of child-bearing ahead of me and can instead just focus on my health!  Does that help when I still can't fit into my skinny jeans or have to think about getting into a swimsuit?  Maybe not.  But damnit!  I'm going to do my best to not give a shit.

So here I am!  I survived the absolute worst, saddest, loneliest, summer of my life, followed by the worst, hardest, loneliest and most overwhelmed winter of my life- stuck in the house with babies who I couldn't risk exposing to RSV or other illnesses, and am now in spring with a fabulous and exciting summer to look forward to, full of pool days, a trip to Wisconsin, a lighter summer workload, and lots and lots of fun family time.

So finally, what do I want for this blog?  I have really missed writing it, and want it to resume being an outlet for me.  Is it going to be mostly recipes like before?  Probably not.  Roasted broccoli and fish, not the most exciting to readers I am going to guess.  I don't have a lot of sexy cake/muffin/cookie recipes up my sleeve because if I can't eat them I'm not going to make them.  And I realized I am just not into alternative sweeteners.  They don't taste good, and besides stevia they are just junk junk junk, with a capital J.  I just use maple syrup most times since it's not for me anyways, and a bit here and there won't hurt me.  For a sweet treat I usually make a coconut cream fudge with chocolate stevia drops or just eat a few squares of 77% or higher dark chocolate.  My weaknesses are salty things anyways.  What I want for this blog is to talk about my life as a (paleo) grainfree, type 1 diabetic mom of three little ones who wants to feed my family high-quality food, that is 100% gluten free, grain-free when possible for them and always grain-free for me, organic as much as possible, and as easy to prepare as can be.  I want to talk about my life and my lifestyle.  Things that interest me, like makeup, restaurants, and travel, and snippets from my daily life.  I know there are other moms out there JUST LIKE ME.  I know there are other women out there who struggled, or are struggling, to get pregnant, and need hope.  I know there are families and people out there who have diabetes, or other autoimmune issues, and want reassurance that you can feel good, thrive even, without tons of meds and medical interventions.  I know it!  That is what this blog is for.  For anyone that needs reassurance.  You can stay off meds.  You can lose weight after baby without counting calories.  You can still cook healthy and yummy food if you have three kids clawing at you.   Yes, something's gotta give and I'll explore that too and everything that means.

But GFG is back and I hope to stay awhile.  Missedyoulotsloveyoulotsmmmmkay?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Where Have I Been? Part 2: 32 Weeks with Twins and Beyond

Week 32 arrived somewhat uneventfully and I was allowed to go home and leave the hospital.  In total I spent 9 weeks on hospital bedrest, with two at home before that.  So basically the entire summer.  I did not go outside once that entire time.  In fact, the only times I even left my room were to be wheeled to another wing for ultrasounds and NSTs.

I was incredibly fortunate in that the issues with my pregnancy were specific to my cervix.  I did not have sick babies or any other ailments to contend with, and I was thankfully never in pre-term labor. What I had is called incompetent cervix, which occurs when your cervix starts to soften and dilate far too early.  We made the risky decision to have a cerclage performed, where they stitch up your cervix and hope the knot holds long enough for the kiddos to finish cooking, but we had no guarantees, as a cerclage is not recommended in twin pregnancies.  The doctor said it may work, it may not, there is no way to know.  You could also develop an infection from the surgery, or your sac could get punctured, both of which could have had calamitous consequences.  I don't wish that decision on anyone.  We were not candidates for progesterone injections, as they are not successful with multiples.  The only thing we could do was take a gamble on getting the stitches and stay horizontal (upside down in fact) as long as possible.

The long and short of it is that the cerclage worked!!  It worked incredibly well.  I am 100% positive that it was the hospital bedrest that made the difference.  Yes the stitches were totally necessary and thank god my doctor/surgeon was not only a big believer in them but one of the only doctors in my region that even performs then on twins, but bedrest is what really saved those babies.  I know it.  The nurses became my best friends.  I learned the Bravo and E! daily lineup, and thank goodness I was able to work remotely from my bed.  These things saved my sanity.  And my husband, bless his heart, made a point to come almost every single day.  On his way to work or on his way home.  We spent our five year anniversary in my hospital room, having canceled a fun trip to Quebec at the last minute.  He stayed with me all day.  It was actually one of the sweetest, most meaningful anniversaries we've spent together.  I felt truly lucky that day.

The stay was not without hiccups.  I bled heavily the entire time, which was a constant cause for concern.  I had to endure daily tests to monitor the babies which forced me into a position that was uncomfortable and left me gasping for air.  I watched as my muscles I had worked SOOOOO hard for turned to mush.  I tried to talk to my two-year-old on the phone but many times had to hang up so she wouldn't hear me sobbing.  When she visited I couldn't even sit up to hug her.  She would lay in bed with me and we'd watch a DVD or talk about her day at summer camp.  She and her daddy developed a close and special bond, he learned how to do her hair and picked out her outfits, packed her lunch and took her to camp everyday.  My parents had to take our dog to Chicago for the summer because it was just one less thing my husband had to deal with.  It was a lot.

But it worked.  I got to 28 weeks, then 30, then 32, when they finally kicked me out.  They said I'd be back to deliver any minute and I should go home and get settled mentally before they were born.  No one with twins and a cerclage had ever made it past 32 weeks, they said.  So back home I went!  I rode in a car for only the second time that summer, and enjoyed every second I spent waiting at the entrance in a wheelchair for the car to pull up.  At home I spent two more weeks on total bedrest, with my mom there to bring me food and water.  I missed my daughter's third birthday party, but we had our own celebration in my room when she got home.  At 34 weeks I was released!!  I did what any other woman in my position would do.  I got a mani/pedi and had lunch with a friend!  One week later, my little bundles came into the world, at 35 weeks.  We had never found out the sex of the babies, we were just too afraid of becoming attached.  We had a boy and a girl- my little girl was born first, naturally, and then my son, was delivered by emergency c-section half an hour later.  Yeah, don't do that.  Ha!

After ten days in the NICU they were home, and our life as a family of 5 began.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Have I Been? Part 1: Hospital Bedrest with Twins

This post was written in June of 2013- about 10 months ago!  I will be posting parts two and three over the next few days. XoXo, GFG

So, I've been gone for a good long while.  I know I know, since February ('13!!).  Things got pretty weird in 2013, not going to lie.  What happened you ask?  Well, long story short I guess, I got pregnant with twins and had tons of food aversions, so much so that the very idea of even reading a food blog, let alone cooking, made me queasy.  Just a handful of foods have been palatable to me for the last 6 months.  I was also a nervous wreck (surprised? haha) and just too jittery and on edge to focus on much.  Cut to 22 weeks or so when I started having cervical issues and started home bed rest, then 23 weeks and an emergency cerclage, and finally here I am at 25 weeks, in the hospital where I've been for two weeks and will remain for probably the duration of my pregnancy.  It has been a bumpy ride so far, to say the least.  Nothing we can't handle, and luckily I have a sweet husband, a helpful mother-in-law, darling little girl, and an incredibly generous and thoughtful mom who will be traveling back and forth from Chicago to KC, to thank for keeping me somewhat sane.

Hospital bedrest is no joke.  I have the utmost respect for women that have to do it for their whole pregnancies.  Whatever preconceived notions you may have about it, don't.  It's not only hard on you, but your whole family, household, your friends, co-workers, everyone.  Simple things like getting yourself something to eat, going downstairs to throw in a load of laundry, putting your child to bed, these things are just gone.  Everytime you get up to pee you wonder if you're putting yourself in jeopardy.  Maybe your little one at home is too young to understand, and has nightmares and develops separation anxiety.  Maybe your family can't visit often, and you spend most of your time alone, except for the staff.

If you're lucky, you are strong and can tell yourself this is only temporary, and for what better cause?You remind yourself that you won't even remember it when it's over, and will soon be something you can barely even recall with any clarity.  You'll emerge stronger and more resilient and more adaptive and, much, much more empathetic to others.  I know I'll be grateful for this someday.

What I won't be grateful for are some of the ridiculous things people think it is actually ok to do. "Some people would kill to be on bedrest!" is a nice little gem I've gotten oh so fond of hearing.  Oh really? You'd kill to be confined to a bed your whole pregnancy?  You wouldn't rather be enjoying it, preparing yourself and your family and household for what's ahead?  Enjoying what it's like to have a small, insular three-person familial unit.  You'd kill to miss months of work, family vacations, holidays, and your five year wedding anniversary because you were recovering from a terrifying surgery and then mandatory bedrest?

How are you feeling everyone says.  Get better soon!  I'm not sick.  I'm pregnant.  I feel pregnant.  I feel pregnant and sad that I can't enjoy it.  My daughter will be three in September and I am missing three whole months of her little life.  She flits in and out of my hospital room, chattering on and on about things I have no concept of, because I haven't been around enough to know what she's talking about.  How do you respond when someone says how are you feeling?  I can't say what I want to say, which is, I feel lonely.  I feel sad.  I feel hopeless.  I feel like no one understands.  Maybe these things aren't true, but I can still feel them, even if I know deep down these feelings are just me having a pity party.  Instead I have to fake it, and say, good, great, fine, because I don't want to upset anyone, make anyone feel bad or pity me, and I don't want people to think I'm ungrateful.  I appreciate the sentiment, it's better than nothing.  Get better soon! they say.  What does that mean?

People don't know how to act, I get it.  Especially people that have never faced any kind of adversity in their life.  They just plain don't know how to react.  They are dumbfounded.  So in their dumbfoundedness they say whatever comes to mind.  A good friend leaves messages saying, "Hope you're feeling great!  Hope you're doing well and having a good day! Hope you had a great July 4th!" I appreciate the effort, I truly do.  But did you really think I had a great July 4th?  I was alone, in a hospital, knowing everyone I loved was somewhere else, without me.  I could hear fireworks going off in the distance but couldn't even sit up to try and spot them out my window.  And yes, it's one holiday. Just one.  I'll get over it.  But in this moment, I am just trying to claw my way out of this little hole I've found myself in.  I'll get out.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  If I can make it 9 more weeks, I'll be great.  I can do it, what's 9 weeks right?