Recipe Mexican Tuna Salad Paleo Gluten Free


Mexican Tuna Salad Paleo Gluten Free

Mexican Tuna Salad Paleo Gluten Free

Are you looking for a quick salad that is high in protein and nourishing fat but low in carbs? Want something that is also gluten free, paleo, and good for you? Look no more and try my Mexican Tuna Salad. This salad will keep you satisfied all afternoon and energized to boot.

We’re just coming off a trip to Mexico and I am still desiring those wonderful flavors. Here I have a low mercury tuna, by Wild Planet, along with fresh cilantro which is good for combating mercury anyway, plus crunchy fresh red bell pepper, savory green onion, and delicious creamy avocado. It’s like mashed up guacamole, salsa, and tuna basically.

Serves 2

  • 2 cans of low mercury tuna
  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
  • juice of a lime (more to taste)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Drizzle raw olive oil
  • Few dashes of powdered cumin
  • Sea Salt / Pepper, to taste

Smash it all up and serve. (I love this smasher for guacamole and potatoes. It has a great handle and is easy to clean and use.)

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Recipe Orange Chicken & Yams Slow Cooker Gluten Free Paleo


Orange Chicken  Yams Slow Cooker Gluten Free

Orange Chicken Yams Slow Cooker Gluten Free

The easier and simpler a recipe is, the more attracted I am to it these days. Being a mom to a 3.5 year old is busy, but with easy recipes like this, then it’s a breeze.

Enter Orange Chicken Yams. And, of course… ENTER: SLOW COOKER. I think my slow cooker will go from being my best friend to my bestest best friend. With a recipe as easy, delicious, and nutritious as this, I have so much time on my hands that I can read a book. 😉 Speaking of books, I just finished Chris Kressers’ The Paleo Code, which is a good book detailing a Paleo diet with a Real Food spin which I like.  I’m about to dive into Eat the Yolks (by funny gal Liz Wolfe) between chapters of one of my favorite authors, Diana Gabaldon. I’m on her 5th book in The Outlander Series, The Fiery Cross. The Outlander Series is soooooo fantastic and very popular (so popular that I believe a TV series is being made of it). I love to read. It’s one of my favorite things.

On to the recipe:

Orange Chicken Yams (Slow Cooker. Gluten Free. Paleo.)

Yield 4 servings

  • 2 cups homemade broth (or water, if you must)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 small-medium yams, peeled and chopped
  •  1 whole pasture raised organic chicken (3 to 4 pounds), pieced
  • salt
  • 1 organic orange, sliced

Orange Chicken and Yams ready to cook.

Orange Chicken and Yams ready to cook.

  1. Set your slow cooker (my Frigidaire slow cooker is 7 quarts, shown above) to LOW and add the broth, bay leaf, onion, and yams.
  2. Generously season the chicken pieces with salt and place on top of the vegetables in the slow cooker.
  3. Top the chicken with the sliced oranges.
  4. Cover and let cook 6 to 8 hours, or until meat is done as indicated by a thermometer and proper chicken cooking temperatures.

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6 Things I Love About Guadalajara, Mexico

We recently went on a two week trip to Guadalajara, Mexico where Kamea received her first stamp for her passport. 🙂

One of the reasons we are excited to homeschool Kamea is that we love to travel, and this offers both flexibility in our schedule as well as a rich education for her. As part of Kamea’s homeschooling (she’s 3.75 as of this writing) we have a native Spanish-speaking woman come over weekly to play with Kamea, while speaking primarily Spanish. It’s a way for Kamea to get exposed to another language but not in a typical classroom setting. We started this before she was two and she learned to say “rojo” before “red” (except she pronounced it “hoho”). So, going to Guadalajara was a great way to build upon those lessons.

Guadalajara, Mexico and six things I love about it.

Sunrise and Venus in Guadalajara, Mexico

Sunrise (and Venus) in Guadalajara, Mexico

  1. Weather: The weather in Guadalajara is beautiful, warm, and pretty consistent year round from what I understand. When we traveled there during the winter, we experienced days of 80 degrees and sunshine with nights cooler in the low 50s. It makes for a great place if you’re traveling from a cold climate.
  2. Not getting La Cuenta until you ask for it: I’ve never been to Europe but I expect it’s the same there as it is in Guadalajara. You don’t get the check after dining in a restaurant until you ask for it. Gosh this makes an unbelievable difference in the relaxation of the dining experience. Even if you tend to ask for your check right after eating, it’s nice to know they’re not rushing you out the door in order to turn the table. In fact, they expect you to stay and enjoy yourself with no pressure to keep buying food. We experienced many meals where we hung around and chatted for an hour before asking La Cuenta Por Favor.
  3. Hospitality and Friendliness: Guadalajara, Mexico is home to some of the most hospitable and friendly people I’ve met (Bora Bora is too!). Even if you are just passing strangers on the street, there’s a warm air surrounding everyone that makes you feel connected in the most subtle way. Whether you find yourself amidst the morning walkers to work or you pass an elderly who pats your toddler on the head in passing, it’s such a difference from anything(!) I’ve experienced in the United States.
  4. Long Hair, High Heels and Makeup: I couldn’t help but notice the fashion part of the culture in Guadalajara. I would estimate that 90% of the women wear high high high high high heels. Yes, very high. Most of them have very very long beautiful hair. And, most women are gussied up in makeup. Fun.
  5. Restaurants (La Docena, La Ideal, and NH Hotel): There’s no shortage of delicious restaurants in Guadalajara. I will focus another blog post on a few in particular that we frequented during our trip: La Docena, La Ideal, and NH Hotel. But a couple of points: the food is rich in flavor, and it’s not very expensive either. Plus, although I can’t confirm this based on my personal experience, it appears that much of mexico might have grass fed beef and products simply because that’s how they raise their animals. My stating this is based on this blog post, and the fact that it turns out the native spanish speaking gal who tutors Kamea… well her family owns a grass fed cattle ranch outside of Guadalajara! The odds! Oh, and another tip as to this based on my experience is that the eggs I ate at the NH Hotel every morning were very orange. That’s a testament to them being pasture raised without my needing to even ask them (which would’ve been a bit difficult with the language barrier).
  6. NH Hotel: We stayed at the NH Hotel which was very nice and filled with friendly patient staff. They welcomed my attempts to speak Spanish which was comical at times. I would definitely recommend staying at this hotel for anyone visiting Guadalajara Mexico. Beautiful clean rooms, good food, and great location.

I would undoubtedly add more to the list, like Lake Chapala (which boasts a large expat community) or this amazing market, but we stayed most of our trip in the financial district for this trip. Next time!

photo167

A relaxing meal at La Ideal. We were the only patrons due to the time we ate our dinner (much earlier than most people there).

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Walking back to the hotel

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Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie Gluten Free (Pizzookie)

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Pizooki) Gluten Free

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Pizzooki) Gluten Free

Wow. I’m truly in heaven. My Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (gluten free) recipe is, officially, my favorite gluten free homemade dessert recipe. My second would be my Pumpkin Pie, but that’s a recipe I’ll share later. I can’t take all the credit for coming up with this masterpiece though. I was inspired by two things.

  1. Over a decade ago I ate a dessert at a local Italian restaurant where they had a “Pizzookie” which was a giant chocolate chip cookie served in a small cast iron pan with ice cream on top. I have longed for that for years, but I wouldn’t get it because it’s so unhealthy, obviously. Instead, I dreamt about it. For over a decade.
  2. Then, a few months ago, I was reading a fun blog, Cave Girl Eats. I saw that she made a giant paleo chocolate chip cookie in a pie dish. I thought to myself… THAT’S IT! I can recreate the Pizzookie! Now, mine isn’t strictly paleo like hers because grass fed butter belongs in this bad boy. Be sure to check out Cave Girl Eats’ blog. I call her “funny girl” because I’m frequently giggling when I read her work.

Interestingly… In writing this post, I decided to google “Pizzookie” to see if the Italian restaurant came up, and what do you know? Quite a few entries showed from various sources including Urban Dictionary. It appears that BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse might have made the original, and get this… they offer one that’s gluten free. However, no need to run out to BJs when you can make your own right at home and I guarantee that even though theirs is gluten free, it’s still not nearly as healthy as mine.

Back to my Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (aka Kristen Suzanne’s Pizzookie). Why do I love this gluten free recipe so much? It’s moist, chocolate-y, not horrible for your health, delicious, fun, and very easy to make. It was love at first bite, and second, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and so on. And, to make it even better, which isn’t really possible, but yeah… serve it with ice cream for an over the top experience (though totally not necessary).

Update: I just made one of these today and my husband exclaimed, “Holy ____! I hope you made one for yourself. Can I have this for dinner?” (By the way, his expletive was not the word “shit.”)

Let’s not waste any more time. We have an important Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie recipe to share.

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease your pie baking dish (I used grass fed butter to grease mine). I love that Emile Henry pie baking dish shown in the picture. It’s simply gorgeous with its decorative fluted edge, high quality, and durable.
  3. Put the almond flour, collagen, vanilla powder, baking soda and sea salt into your food processor, fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse it a few times.
  4. Add the eggs, syrup, and grass fed butter chunks to the food processor and pulse a few times. Then, turn the food processor on and let it run for a bit until the ingredients mix together well and start to form a doughy glob.
  5. Transfer the dough to a bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the greased pie baking dish. Spread it out evenly. Top with a pie baking crust shield (this could be optional although I always use one).
  7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean, save for the melting chocolate that gets on it. It also freezes well.

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Recipe: How to Pressure Cooker Grass Fed Beef Chuck Roast

 

All Clad awesome pressure cooker

All Clad – awesome pressure cooker

I originally found myself in the market for a pressure years ago when I was eating a plant based vegan diet (here’s why we stopped our vegan ways). We consumed a lot of beans in those days and I wanted a faster way to prepare them instead of watching them cook in a big pot on my stove all the time.

Fast forward to today… my pressure cooker was sitting on my counter not being used because we don’t fancy beans much these days. I was eager to make a meal quickly with a cut of meat that would usually take all day in the slow cooker. Hello, Pressure Cooker. This thing rocks for its speed and simplicity.

That’s my pressure cooker pictured above: All Clad (I bought it at Sur la Table). This gem was worth every penny because of its high quality. It’s stainless steel and I wanted something that wasn’t non-stick crap or aluminum. I also like this one because I don’t have to stand around the stove watching it (it plugs into the wall), so I feel safe using it. It’s basically a “set it and forget it” piece of kitchen equipment.

Pressure Cooker Beef Chuck Roast

You can get very creative here and add other flavors like a halved onion, a few cloves of crushed garlic, etc, especially if you’re using water as the liquid. I usually keep it extra simple though with just flavorful homemade broth and generously salted grass fed meat.

Put all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker. Cook at HIGH pressure for about 45 minutes. Voila! You’re done.

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How to Sous Vide Grass Fed Ribeye Steak

 

Alderspring Ranch organic grass fed ribeye steak cooked perfectly medium raw sous vide

Alderspring Ranch organic grass fed ribeye steak cooked sous vide – perfectly medium rare.

Dear Sous Vide Supreme,

I love you dearly. Thank you for coming into my life and making it so much easier. I call you my BFF in the kitchen because cooking steaks (and much more, like bone broth) is a piece of cake with you. I love my sous vide supreme so much that I even took it on our road trip from Arizona to Michigan.

Your raving fan,

Kristen

If it isn’t obvious, I love my sous vide supreme kitchen appliance. Thank you to my husband, Greg, for showing me it was an option after I turned too many expensive grass fed steaks into chewing-gum-shoe-leather. Not anymore now that I effortlessly prepare steaks with my sous vide, yielding beautiful steaks with even color and temperature throughout – every time. The best part is that it’s so easy. I don’t need any skills to cook the meat.

The sous vide is also called a water oven, which is similar to a slow cooker but the temperature is tightly controlled and the food is cooked in a vacuum sealed bag. It basically means that you can cook a steak (or any cut of meat, including beef tongue, chicken, turkey, fish and more), perfectly, every time. The meat is cooked through to the exact temperature you want and it will never overcook. I know, magic, right?

Equally important is that using a sous vide allows me to cook much less expensive cuts of grass fed meat to “tenderloin tender” which saves a lot of money. Check out my post on cooking grass fed organic Eye of the Round in my sous vide supreme. See? Save money on the cuts of grass fed meat you buy, and use the money for the sous vide.

The sous vide makes life easy because it means I can put the steak in my sous vide to cook, early in the morning, and not worry about taking it out until I’m ready at lunch or dinner, or heck the next day. This means I don’t have to “time” my steaks to be done by the time my salad or side dishes are prepped either. Timing in the kitchen was never my strong suit. Perfectly cooked meat that can be made ahead of time? Yes!

*Note: You need a food saver or some vacuum seal machine to use with a sous vide.

Steak isn’t the only thing to cook in a sous vide supreme though. I cook the most perfect eggs (omg, this is worth the price of admission alone), organic vegetables, wild caught fish, grass fed organ meats, and any cut of meat really. It bears repeating that a beautiful thing about the sous vide supreme is that I can cook an inexpensive (i.e., usually tough) piece of meat and have it come out mega tender and delicious every time. Oh, I’ve heard burgers can be made in the sous vide as well, but I haven’t experimented with that yet. I will though.

The thing I didn’t realize is that many restaurants are now cooking sous vide because … well … because it’s so useful and awesome.

Alderspring Ranch Grass Fed Organic Ribeye cooked Sous Vide

Another Grass Fed Organic Ribeye cooked Sous Vide – perfectly.

Next on my wish list is getting the bad-ass chamber sealer to use instead of my Food Saver, but a Food Saver will work for now.  The chamber sealer can seal bags of food with liquids, which is not possible with the Food Saver.

A few tips for using a sous vide supreme:

  • I fill it with warm water to get it heated to the temperature I want faster.
  • Sear the meat after you take it out of the vacuum sealed pouch for a prettier presentation (about 45 to 60 seconds per side in a cast iron skillet on high). Some people pre-sear the meat before putting it in the sous vide, but I haven’t gone that route yet. That being said, searing is optional.
  • You can put fresh organic herbs in with your meat, along with a pat of grass fed butter to enhance the flavor. But, keep in mind that sous vide can intensify flavors so go easy on them and experiment.
  • Check out ChefSteps for an awesome tutorial.

Here’s how I make the greatest grass fed steaks (ribeyes,  filet, and pretty much every cut)

Ingredients:

  • Quality grass fed steak(s), one steak per bag
  • Salt Pepper
  • Grass fed butter for searing post sous vide, optional

Fill the sous vide supreme with warm tap water.

Turn it on to the desired cooking temp. For my steaks I usually set it at 134 or 135 degrees F.

Get the meat from your refrigerator.

Season the meat with salt and pepper.

Get FoodSaver bags, and fold the top of each bag over a bit to keep food from touching the part of the bag that needs to be sealed (see pic below). Unfold the bags back to original position after the food is in the bags before sealing.

FoodSaver bag folded over on top prior to putting grass fed organic heart into it.

FoodSaver bag folded over on top prior to putting grass fed organic heart into it. I’m showing the helpful “fold-over-top-of-bag” technique, but I didn’t sous vide the heart. I froze it for later, but I could’ve sous vide it. 🙂 I think I’ll try that one of these days.

Use a vacuum seal machine to suck out the air and seal the bags.

Put the sealed steaks into the Sous Vide Supreme and cook for desired time. I usually let my ribeye or new york strip steaks cook 4 to 8 hours.

Take the vacuum sealed bags out of the sous vide after cooking. Cut open and take the meat out (it’ll look kind of grayish and not totally appetizing as we’re used to seeing meat cooked with a “browned” exterior).

Dry the meat with a paper towel.

Get a skillet nice and hot. Toss some grass fed butter in it (or ghee or nothing, if desired… it’s up to you, but I am really enjoying them seared with grass fed butter). Sear both sides of the steak(s), while basting with the butter if you’re getting fancy, for about 45 to 60 seconds per side.

Serve and watch your family go crazy.

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Recipe Cinnamon Apple Chicken n Buttered Purple Cabbage Gluten Free

 

Cinnamon Apple Chicken with Buttered Purple Cabbage

Cinnamon Apple Chicken with Buttered Purple Cabbage

My Cinnamon Apple Chicken with Buttered Purple Cabbage is soooo good. It’s comfort, health, ease, and deliciousness all wrapped up in one meal and tied with a bow. Cabbage and apples are a great combo that everyone will love.

Most of my chicken dishes are made in a slow cooker, but once in a while, I want some golden (pasture raised organic) chicken skin to sink my teeth into, such as the gluten free recipe below (and also this staple in our house: Garam Masala Orange Chicken). I buy my pasture raised organic chickens here (also available soy-free, meaning they didn’t feed the chickens any soy). Good Earth Farms is also where we bought our pasture raised turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A testament to the quality and deliciousness of their poultry was when my mom, who is always extremely(!) honest, exclaimed three times how much she enjoyed the turkey and she’s never been a “turkey” person.

Cinnamon Apple Chicken with Buttered Purple Cabbage

Yield 4 servings

  • 1 whole pastured organic chicken, pieced (usually 3 to 5 pounds)
  • sea salt to season pastured organic chicken
  • 1/4 cup grass fed organic ghee (or coconut oil if strict paleo)
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 organic apples, cored and quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped (for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Season the chicken pieces generously with sea salt and set them in a large glass baking dish or a must-buy-very-useful roasting pan. I want to emphasize the need to properly season your poultry… don’t be shy with the salt.
  3. Place the apples around the chicken.
  4. Stir together the ghee, vinegar, orange juice, and cinnamon until combined as much as can be. Brush/Pour/Rub the sauce all over the chicken.
  5. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.
  6. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for 20 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces, baste the chicken and apples, and cook another 15 minutes. Flip the chicken back over and cook until done… about 15 to 45 minutes, or until done as indicated by a thermometer for proper poultry cooking temperature. My favorite thermometer is the Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer). Be sure to quickly baste the pastured chicken and apples a couple times throughout the cooking process (I use a glass Norpro baster.
  7. If desired, crank up the heat to 400 to 425 degrees F for the last minutes to crisp the skin more (Kamea’s favorite part is the chicken skin).
  8. Allow the chicken to rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Season with additional sea salt, if needed, at the table.

Buttered Purple Cabbage

Buttered Purple Cabbage

Buttered Purple Cabbage

This recipe is fabulous. Clearly it isn’t for strict paleo (or vegan) peeps with the grass fed butter in it, but you could always drizzle coconut oil on it to satisfy people in those crowds. That’s soooo not the same as grass fed butter though.

Yield 4 servings

  • 1 head purple cabbage, chopped or sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup grass fed butter, melted (or more)
  • sea salt, to season
  1. Cook the cabbage (seasoned with a bit of salt) and water, over medium heat, covered, until tender.
  2. Transfer to a bowl, pour grass fed butter on top, season with more sea salt, and toss to mix.

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Recipe Carrot Cauliflower Puree Gluten Free

 

Carrot Cauliflower Puree

Carrot Cauliflower Puree

I love using fresh organic produce which shows off vibrant colors. This recipe of Carrot Cauliflower Puree does just that. It’s the color of a sunset, so pretty. Delicious, too. I can serve this as a side dish to any meal whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Carrot Cauliflower Puree (Gluten Free Recipe)

Yield 4 servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup homemade broth (learn how to make here)
  • 1/4 cup grass fed butter
  • fresh organic thyme, for garnish
  1. Put the cauliflower and carrots in a large, deep saute pan with about a few tablespoons of filtered water. Cook over medium heat, covered, until tender. Alternatively, you can steam them with a steamer insert like this. (I love that steamer insert because it has handles that don’t get too hot to touch, so I can simply dump the veggies into a bowl waiting with butter in it, in one quick dump.)
  2. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor, fitted with the “S” blade, and add the remaining ingredients. Process to a chunky or smooth consistency, as desired.

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Recipe: Apple Pear Yum Porridge (Raw Vegan Paleo Gluten Free)

 

Apple Pear Yum Porridge (Raw Vegan Paleo Gluten Free)

Apple Pear Yum Porridge (Raw Vegan Paleo Gluten Free)

This is YUM.

Here’s a quick, light, and easy snack (or breakfast or dessert) recipe with pears and apples. The colors are quite pretty when using a green pear and red apple (or vice versa).

Apple Pear Yum Porridge (Raw Vegan Gluten Free Paleo)

Yield 1 serving

Put the milk, pear, apple, sweetener, and allspice in a blender and briefly puree. Serve immediately.

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Omni Status Update: One Year Post-Vegan


Kamea when she turned 3 over the summer.

Kamea when she turned three over the summer.

I frequently get asked about my life these days. How is my family faring on our omnivore diet since ending a decade of being vegan (read more about that here and here)? What are we eating? How’s life in general?

Life in general is awesome. 🙂 I’m living a dream life and feeling overflowing gratitude every day. We’ve been traveling a bit, going on lots of play dates, spending extra time with my parents, and we have seen the movie Frozen three times. 🙂

What are we eating? Has anything changed since my last update? Not much. You can pretty much see what we’ve been eating from my food journals and all of the recipes I post. But, for those who are new here, our diet is higher in fat, moderate for carbs (with some days being lower in carbs), and comprises a ton of high-quality animal products, including:

  • Wild caught fish, usually salmon (including wild caught salmon roe)
  • Grass-fed and pasture-raised meats (including massively nutrient dense organ meats and bone broths) How can I eat organ meats? Well, it’s been a process to find the best way I like them but finally that’s happened. I hide liver in butter-and-brandy-rich pate as well as in cheeseburgers smothered in BBQ sauce like this one. I hide beef heart in stew and enjoy some weird beef tongue in this recipe here (and beef tongue in ratatouille is my new favorite way, recipe coming soon). I am determined to keep my family eating grass fed offal (i.e., organ meats), and so far they’re totally loving them, thankfully, because the nutrition is stellar and unbelievable. These organ meats are the true super foods of the world.
  • Sardines, Oysters (and other shell fish)
  • Pasture-raised organic eggs
  • Organic vegetables
  • A little fruit (usually in the form of berries)
  • Grass-fed butter
  • High-quality oils (grass-fed ghee, high vitamin butter oil, coconut oil, MCT oil)
  • Coffee shakes (yum!)
  • Organic Norwalk cold pressed fresh green juice but the recipe is different from what I used to in the past (no heavy greens like kale, collards, or spinach because when we consume those now they’re cooked). The recipe is usually celery, cucumbers, romaine, cilantro, occasionally parsley and other herbs, and we might have a pint or two every week or so.
  • Supplements These change based on our diet for the week as well as new things I learn every day. I’ll soon share how I make my own liposomal vitamin C.
  • White rice (occasionally)
  • Dark organic fair trade chocolate
  • Raw organic sauerkraut (I love Farmhouse Kraut)
  • Nuts and seeds (sometimes these appear in the form of paleo style treats like my Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Cookies)
  • Dairy products like raw grass-fed organic cheese, grass-fed organic ice cream (not raw, usually Straus brand), and grass-fed organic yogurt (not raw). After some experimentation it seems we tolerate them very well. The ice cream and yogurt make up a very small percentage of our diet and it doesn’t make a regular appearance, but we do have it sometimes. It must be from free range grass fed cows and organic. I go back and forth on dairy… some say it creates inflammation but others say if it’s high quality and tolerated then it can be very nutrient dense.Therefore, we enjoy it at times and other times we abstain for awhile.

As you can imagine, we don’t eat out very much. As much as I love cooking, I do need a break from the kitchen. I make almost everything from scratch, and that’s a lot of time in the kitchen for three meals a day. So on occasion we go out to eat for gluten-free pizza (maybe once every 10 to 14 days) and we also go to Chipotle every couple of weeks. I really don’t care for Chipotle’s crap oils they use on their rice and for cooking, but a girl needs a break from meal prep, ya know? I sure wish there were some options with truly high quality everything. I can find a grass fed burger here in Scottsdale, but the salad it’s served with has junk canola oil on it as an example. Sigh.

In my effort to keep my food prep simple as a busy mom, I rely heavily on my many slow cookers (mini, 6 quarts, 7 quarts, and 8 quarts) and my Kitchen BFF, the great  sous vide. My goodness these are game changing tools in the kitchen for not only making the easiest meals ever, but also the most delicious and healthy. I also try to cook pretty big batches of recipes so that we can eat leftovers for the following day’s lunch (or breakfast). For example, when I make the Liver n Beef Bun-less Cheeseburgers, I cut Kamea’s patty in half so she can have half for dinner and half for breakfast the next day. Here are some more details to give a better picture…

Breakfast

  • Kamea, my three year old, usually has a breakfast where the following rotate and make appearances: pasture raised eggs that are gently scrambled over low heat with organic ghee (and salsa sometimes), wild caught salmon roe, sea spaghetti she eats right out of the bag (I can’t stand the stuff soaked / prepared, but munching on it right from the bag isn’t bad. I keep it in our diet for the minerals), organic berries (sometimes organic banana or apple), organic raw nuts, red / orange / and yellow bell pepper, homemade pasture raised organic chicken liver pate, grass fed beef summer sausage, reputable raw grass fed cheese (I buy 5-Spoke brand at Whole Foods), and occasionally veggies make an appearance in the morning (they’re usually at lunch and dinner). That’s off the top of my head but it’s a pretty solid list of things she eats for breakfast. Oh, and sometimes she has sardines (learn killer ways to make them here but we usually just eat them straight from the can nowadays).
  • Greg is usually asleep while we have breakfast but he has his coffee shake with protein and raw eggs when he wakes up (during our lunch time).
  • Kristen (that’s me)… I usually have a coffee shake or organic tea, and Kamea likes to take a few sips. I also chug down 2 to 3 raw egg yolks or I’ll have wild caught roe if that’s on the menu for the day (we try to have roe 1 to 2 times a week).

Lunch

  • Kamea’s (and my) lunch is usually organic vegetables, avocado, homemade broth, soup, left overs from the night before, Kit’s organic bar, nuts, fruit… you get the idea. If she doesn’t have eggs for breakfast, I might make them at lunch and add a bunch of veggies and herbs. Sardines and low mercury tuna or wild caught smoked sockeye salmon (this brand, SeaBear, is amazing and can be stored in the cupboard – I buy it on Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to save money) are all easy lunches. Again, this is off the top of my head, but it gives you an idea.
  • I make some extra and set it aside for Greg to snack on before dinner.

Dinner

  • We all eat dinner together and it’s usually animal protein (wild caught fish, grass fed beef or bison, organ meat, or pasture raised organic chicken) and veggies. But! I like to have extra fun sometimes so I make gluten free / grain free pancakes topped with grass fed butter and maple syrup for dinner. 🙂 I’ll share my recipe soon.

Like I wrote earlier, sometimes organic grass fed yogurt makes an appearance or gluten free pizza, etc, but the above give the majority of our foods. Our primary beverages are water, tea (usually herbal), and coffee (usually decaf), and I sometimes add Upgraded Collagen to both Kamea’s and mine. Sometimes we have kombucha.

How are we feeling?

It’s been over a year now so I thought I’d reassess and let everyone know. Reassessing is always important no matter what you’re doing whether it’s exercise, diet, supplements, a job, school, anything. Being open-minded and asking questions helps to reassess and decide if things are working as well as they should be. Things change, right? I mean, I was vegan for so long — too long — because I didn’t reassess. What I didn’t realize was that it’s possible to feel well being vegan for a while, depending on where you’re coming from in your diet. But, things can change over time and gradual depletions can occur. It happened to us. Or people age and hormones change. Or people become pregnant, have babies, lactate, and things change. My point is that it’s important to reassess as you live, because what works at one time in your life might not be the same later. Or heck, the world changes. When I went vegan a decade ago, the world was very different regarding animal food options in the quality available and the animal welfare. Now we can buy high quality grass-fed foods online with the click of a button, and we’re seeing gluten-free options in more restaurants every day.

Overall Health and Wellbeing

Over a year since going omnivore, we still feel great. During our time as vegans, especially near the end, Greg was frequently injuring joints when exercising, or heck, he could sneeze and tweak his neck or back. It was getting to be a real nuisance, not only painful, but it kept him out of the gym and he loves to work out. At the time though, I had no idea that our vegan diet could’ve been causing inflammation and that we weren’t getting proper nutrients to build strong bodies. During this past 1+ year as omnivores… no injuries and his strength has increased. Interestingly, that’s with him not even consuming tons of protein like he did as a vegan. There was a long period, while vegan, where he would drink 3 to 4 double (or triple) scoop protein shakes with vegan protein powders. He was able to experience some strength but it was so much more work than it is now (and that’s even with him being older now), and tons(!) of protein powders. With out diet now, he consumes less protein, way fewer shakes which are with grass-fed whey, and he’s feeling strong in the gym. But now it’s not as much work. The absence of injures has also allowed him to be much more consistent (months without missing a workout) and work out harder, pushing more weight and not feeling that he needs to baby his joints. He says it’s like the kinks that he used to attribute to getting older are just not there anymore.

Fertility

Our fertility has improved by way of my hormones and cycle being damn near flawless. My cycle now regularly comes but it sneaks up on me because I rarely experience any PMS. No cramps, no headaches, no zits. I sometimes get a day of being a bit tired before my cycle, but it’s so much easier on me now than it was before when I was vegan. I’ll say that way back years ago, pre-vegan, when I was on a normal diet of wheat, hormone filled meats, veggies, oatmeals, cereals, milk, etc, my cycles were horrible. So much pain. Then, I went vegan and raw, cleaned up my diet and I experienced improvement. But, then I stayed vegan so long, missed out on important nutrients (and became depleted over time) that my periods started getting ridiculous again and painful… tired… pimples. It sucked. Then, I went omnivore in November 2012, by simply adding pasture-raised eggs to my diet and cod liver oil. Holy moly, my cycle changed virtually overnight. Since then, as you know we’ve gone full-on omni and my cycle has been great. I’m still amazed it’s such a breeze.

Greg’s fertility has improved as well, which we quantify based on our DIY semen analysis using a microscope. The analyses are not quite lab quality (they use imaging software to get more accurate numbers), but we have a baseline and can see trends and there’s improvement. I’m not pregnant yet, but we have a solid chance of making it happen naturally. Trouble with that is we’re not getting any younger. I’m turning 38 this year and Greg is in his 40s. We welcome another baby, and Kamea very much wants a sibling, so we’re feeling a bit of pressure to make it happen sooner rather than later. More on that in a future post.

Teeth

I had some terrible experiences with my teeth when I was vegan in spite of eating a diet full of supplements and without junk food. Now I know I was missing important nutrients. This whole year my teeth have been great with the exception of a problem that has reared its head as a result of the root canal I had to have while vegan! However, so far it’s under control with diet and the oral care I use. I have high hopes that I can continue to stay out of the dentist’s chair if I keep my diet in check, which of course I will.

When I look at Kamea’s teeth now versus when she was vegan, it’s a difference, too. We healed what we think was a cavity with nutrition. Her one dental visit we took her to for a checkup after she turned three was that her teeth were in great shape. I’m scared to think of how her teeth could’ve faired had we stayed vegan. And, I’ll say this… people who eat omni can still have teeth problems. It’s the difference of eating super high quality nutrient rich omni foods while cutting grains and junk, too. Teeth need specific nutrients for a healthy mouth.

Skin

My skin has stayed wonderful this whole year as well as my body composition. Goodness what a friggin’ relief. My beauty routine is ridiculously simple (read here) yet my skin looks great, though I’m still fighting the aging that my vegan (and high carb) diet caused. I’m seeing improvements though. Yippee.

The good news is that my skin has its natural healthy tone and is no longer ashy / pale colored. I rarely get a pimple, and if I do, it heals with lightning speed which was something I didn’t do well as a vegan. No wonder since I wasn’t getting zinc that assimilates properly, skin building nutrients like retinol (only available from animal products I learned) and quality omegas and fats, plus more.

Digestion

My digestion continues to feel good. Oh man, the times I was bloated while vegan. Ugh. Now that I’ve cut grains, soy, and wheat out of our diet (except for some white rice as noted above) I don’t get bloated. It really is that simple for me. And, TMI, but I don’t… err … gas? Not an issue this year. I can’t help but laugh at how bad my gas was for the decade I was vegan. It was so bad that it got to the point where I’d just say to Greg, “Don’t breathe” and he’d know. How embarrassing, I can’t believe I’m even telling you all this, but the change was so big and immediate that I think people should know. Gas is not an issue on my high quality omnivore diet with extremely limited grains, no legumes, no soy, and no crap.

Kamea’s Overall Health and Development

Kamea, our 3.5 year old daughter, is thriving. Her body filled out after introducing the foods mentioned above, her color is gorgeous, and her development is great. She looks much healthier than when she was vegan. Oh the relief(!) I feel knowing what I know now, and ever grateful for the changes I made once I opened up my eyes to the life we were living and the vegan “research” I was parroting. The nutrients she was missing – not cool. I thought she was getting enough (of certain nutrients) with nuts, seeds, grains, lentils, beans, etc, but it seems that many of the nutrients in those foods aren’t very bioavailable so she likely was not getting them. I thought if she ate enough beta-carotene from carrots and greens that she’d get enough vitamin A but that’s not true. It converts very little to vitamin A, and in some people not at all, and in children it’s particularly poor. I thought she (and we) could get proper iron, protein, omegas, and zinc from plants, but it doesn’t look like it based on the research I’ve done this year, not to mention the way we felt toward the end of our vegan chapter. These are seriously important nutrients and it was evident we weren’t getting them (or enough of them) from the way we looked and felt, in spite of the supposedly ideal diet we ate of organic whole plant foods (including some gluten and non-gmo soy), home prepared usually, supplements and tonic herbs, super foods, and gallons of green juice.

Damn if I don’t feel frustration and regret, even today, when I look back to pregnancy, nursing, and raising my baby as a vegan. Turns out it wasn’t a good solution for us. I remember back during our time as vegans I posted a picture of Kamea on my blog. Someone wrote in saying how she thought Kamea looked weak and sickly. I was blind to it and offended. This mama bear thought I was doing everything ideal for my child. Her comment about Kamea really bothered me but I blew it off as saying it was poor lighting in the picture. I think back upon that now and I want to cry. I recently looked at videos and pictures of Kamea in her diaper when she was 2. F#*k, she was … err… lean. I chalked it off that our family has lean kids since there were professional sources saying it’s totally safe and healthy raising a vegan child, and anyway, I wasn’t feeding her any junk foods. I was wrong. Now I’m different though. I pay attention better, remain humble, and consistently reassess. I’m willing to make whatever changes are necessary for us to have optimal health.

I’ll be honest though, I feel burned after wearing my rose-tinted vegan glasses for so long that I can’t help but be skeptical of everything I read these days. I suppose that’s a good thing though. Constantly question everything. That being said, if I look at history, biology, genetics, and most importantly the changes in my family’s bodies, then I’m a believer that we’re on the right path.

So there you have it. It’s been over a year since we ended our decade of veganism. We reassess our choices frequently, read as much as we can, experiment and pay attention to our bodies, and we’re doing great. I’ll continue to update on our lives more often.

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