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Dining Out: Paleo Style

As much as I try to prep food for our days out, some days it just doesn’t happen. Like I’ve said before, lack of prep= bad news. It’s ridiculous to just not eat because I don’t have food prepped. Eating is sort of crucial (or so I hear).

We live in a pretty rural community so we really don’t have a lot of “fast food” options. When I say “fast food” I guess I mean “to-go” restaurants? Not Mcdonald’s fast food but not sit down dinner. Those in betweeners.

I knew I would be out and about today and honestly just didn’t want to prep a ton of food so I got to thinking about what my choices were. I’m currently between Jimmy John’s and Subway for my lunch today…hmm decisions. I’m thinkin’ Subway.

Here are a couple chain restaurants that have some Paleo-friendly options:

Subway:

We will start with what I’ll be chompin’ on today: Subway! So, obviously Subway is a sandwich place so that sort of limits your options right there. Subway and restaurants like it are great because you can customize your meals. Paleo-wise, at Subway you might be stuck with a salad. I have no problem with that though because you can add whatever veggies you want and double up your meat. Originally, I was thinking I would have a problem with dressing but I’ll opt for vinegar and oil: problem solved!

Jimmy John’s:

Jimmy John’s is great because they an “un-wich” option which means they will wrap whatever sandwich in lettuce. Just ask for no cheese and maybe mustard instead of mayo and you’re good to go! I would double up the meat on this too because it can be a little slim in my opinion.

Starbucks

The ‘bizzle! The one item I look for at Starbucks is the Protein Bistro Box. This does come with cheese and peanut butter which are not paleo, but it also has a hard boiled egg, apples, and grapes. It’s a pretty good option. They also typically have nuts available for purchase: almonds, cashews, etc. Just check for added sugar.

proteinbox

(source)

Chipotle/Q’doba:

Chipotle or Q’doba are great Paleo options. This is another example of a place where you can customize your order. I typically order a burrito bowl sans rice and load it up with veggies, meat, and guacamole. I love it because it’s really not skimpy. Sometimes ordering a lettuce wrapped sandwich can be a little skimpy and I’m hangry!

Pei Wei:

We don’t have Pei Wei around here, isn’t that sad? We do in Scottsdale though so when I visit the ‘rents I can knock myself out. Pei Wei has a gluten free menu so that is a great start. I’m sure most of their sauces (if not all) are not technically Paleo friendly so watch out there if you’re strict. Lettuce wraps are a great option too.

Paradise Bakery:

Another sandwich heavy place! Luckily, they have lots of good salad options. Grab a chicken cobb salad (minus the cheese and ask for oil/vinegar dressing) or a fuji apple chicken salad.  They also have some breakfast options like omelets-just ask for no cheese!

Panera Bread:

So, Panera appears to have lots of good options!! I guess there’s a secret menu? Why do restaurants have secret menus? Why don’t they just put it on the menu? Make all our lives easier! Anyway, check out their Power Menu. They have a couple different “power bowls” for breakfast. For example, Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl which has roasted turkey, egg whites, baby spinach, roasted peppers, and basil pesto…yum. If you’re there for lunch, try a Power Steak Lettuce Wrap.

power-steak-lettuce-wraps.desktop

(source)

 

So, Panera’s menu sounds pretty awesome. We need one here please. In the meantime, Subway will do…or maybe Q’doba.

 

Any good restaurants recommendations for Paleo-friendly meals?

Sauteed Red Cabbage

I don’t think I’ve ever bought cabbage before: green, red, whatever other colors. There are certain vegetables that I suppose I like, but I have zero experience with for whatever reason. Cabbage is one of those. Eggplant is too by the way. I like eggplant…but have never bought it. I guess it’s a little intimidating? I don’t know…anyway, on to the cabbage.

I took the plunge last week and bought Practical Paleo:

pp

This book is amazing. It has tons of great recipes, of course, but besides that it also has an incredible amount of information on different foods for different diets. For example, if you had digestion problems, there’s a meal plan for that…if you were an athlete, meal plan for that, weight loss, etc. Pretty nice you can customize your Paleo meal plan specifically for you lifestyle and goals.

This recipe was really easy and turned out great. I chopped up half a red cabbage, added sliced onions, apple cider vinegar, some rosemary, and chopped green apples and cooked it for about 20 minutes. Easy and delicious (here is a link to the recipe).

Can you tell that I’m having fun over here in the kitchen lately? There are so many more recipes I want to try too!

red cabbage

red cabbage

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I added the apples after the cabbage softened up.

I added the apples after the cabbage softened up.

I added some raisins to my cabbage dish because I just thought they would work well with the ingredients…and they did!

final product mmm

final product mmm

So, the recipe uses half of a head of cabbage and that was plenty. We had leftovers for a couple days after which was pretty nice.

 

I’m off to enjoy my Thursday toddler free! Miss Brooke has daycare today :). Would it be weird to hit the bars right after I drop her off?

Baked Plantain Chips Recipe

I needed something crispy in my life. I saw on the list of “approved foods” for Whole30 that indeed, plantains were good to go. I love plantains. Why don’t I buy them more often? They always take me back to Miami and their amazing Cuban food.

I’ve played around with plantains before but every time we’ve had them, we’ve fried them. Don’t get me wrong, those are delicious, but I wanted chips this time. Crispy, crispy chips.

If you want to make plantains chips, look for plantains that are green.

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Plantains look a lot like bananas, yes. They are very different though. It’s actually a little bit of a struggle to peel a green plantain. In order to “peel” it, I made 3 cuts all the way down the plantain then carefully peeled it. It will make your life a little easier if you cut off the ends of the plantain and go from there.

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In order to make sure my chips were actually chippy, I tried to cut them as thin as possible. Then, I mixed them with about a tablespoon of coconut oil and a little salt.

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Next, placed them evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Usually, I’m lazy and just dump them on a baking sheet, but I really wanted them to be cooked evenly. So, spreading them out is crucial.

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I baked them for 20-25 minutes at 350. I basically just started checking them around the 20 minute mark to make sure they didn’t brown too much.

These were so easy. Another easy, easy recipe: I can’t get enough!! These definitely satisfy the need for a salty crunchy snack too. We had them at dinner along with elk steak and mashed cauliflower. I dipped them in guacamole…mmmm fats.

plantains chips!

plantains chips!

dinner is served!

dinner is served!

 

I will definitely be making these again!

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Week 2

Week 2 is over! Thank God. I’m halfway done..the end is in sight….there is a light at the end of the carb-free tunnel. Here’s how I’ve been feeling:

Days 9-11:

The first few days of week 2 were okay. Sort of the “same old” meaning I was tempted by carbs, but held back. My energy levels were okay, nothing to report about.

One thing I have noticed is my digestion is doing a lot better. I won’t go into details (you’re welcome) but if you have questions, feel free to email me.  All I can say is, I am loving my healthy gut!

mustard chicken thighs from practical paleo

mustard chicken thighs from practical paleo

Days 12-15:

The last part of the week I felt extremely agitated at times. I’m not sure if this is because my sleep is still a bit out of whack (some nights are good, some aren’t), or because of lack of carbohydrates, or (and this is what I suspect), I wasn’t eating enough. I had at least 3 days where I’m pretty sure everyone in my family feared me. I was being pretty snappy and impatient which doesn’t work out well when you live with a toddler.

It’s something that’s hard to measure but I’m thinking it comes back to my lack of prepping on those days. Yes, I stuck to Paleo, but I also found myself not eating for like, 5 hours which would be okay if I had eaten enough beforehand. All about prep. 

 

I did, however, look up Paleo and irritability and found a couple articles on it so obviously I’m not the only one with this problem. One article stated that irritability can be a side effect of a transition to low carb-whether it’s been a few days or weeks. They suggested increasing fats by 1-2 Tbsp per meal and increasing salt by 1/2 tsp a day (article can be found here). 

delicious spaghetti squash bolognese

delicious spaghetti squash bolognese

So, going forward with the second half of my little Paleo experiment, my goals are to a.) have enough food prepped and available, and b.) to increase my fats. 

yummy Paleo breakfast

yummy Paleo breakfast

I am still really enjoying trying new recipes. That has been a huge plus to this Paleo experiment. I feel like every recipe I’ve tried has been amazing too. I’ll report back with my favorites!!

 

If you’ve gone Paleo, have you experienced “mood swings”?

 

Homemade Apple Pie Energy Balls (Paleo)

First of all, forgive me if I ramble or straight up make no sense…my 6 month old has decided sleep is for suckers so I’m pretty darn tired right now. Okay….on to the balls!

Energy balls

I have a confession to make: I wanted to make Lara bars but they turned out too crumbly. One of my friends later pointed out that I needed to process the ingredients until they form a ball in the food processor. I did not do that…therefore, no bars, just balls.

Anyway, I’m okay with the balls. They taste exactly like Apple Pie Lara bars so I have zero complaints. I love this recipe because you can really use whatever dried fruits/nuts you’d like. I love the apple flavor so I added dried apples. The basic recipe is nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds-all or 1 or 2), dates, plus whatever else you’d like if anything.

I had a tough time finding dried fruit that didn’t have any added sugar. I finally found dried apples at Walmart of all places. I’m sure you could find more options at a health food store or Whole Foods-anywhere with bulk bins.

I got the recipe from a friend of mine…easy peasy:

Apple Pie Energy Balls

(about 115 calories each- makes about 10 balls)

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dried apples (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

applepieenergyballs

applepieenergyballs

Everything in the food processor and blend, blend, blend! Easy. Like I said if you wanted to make bars, blend the ingredients until they form a ball in your food processor.

After mixing the ingredients,  I formed them into little balls and stuck them in the fridge. All done!

I attempted to calculate the calories in each ball and I believe they’re each about 115 calories (I say about because it is certainly possible my math is off…it usually is..but I’m thinking it shouldn’t be off by too much).

apple pie energy balls!

apple pie energy balls!

I’m excited to try other flavors and see what I come up with! I’m curious if you actually save money by making your own Lara bars. I’ll try to figure out the math on whether it actually makes sense to make your own bars versus buying. I’ll check the prices of the nuts I used next time I’m in the grocery store. It’s hard to say…Lara bars are a little pricey…but buying nuts are too.

 

Have you made your own Lara bars or other types of bars? Any good recipes you want to share?

What are FODMAPS?

If you’re trying or have tried your hand at a Paleo style of eating, you’ve probably seen the word, or acronym, FODMAPS thrown around. I see them mentioned on blogs and also in Paleo cookbooks. That’s all well and good…but what exactly are they?

In case you’re interested (I’m not really) the acronym stands for “fermentable, oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. I’m sure thta explains a lot.

They are short chain carbohydrates found in certain foods we westerners tend to eat on a regular basis. The elimination of FODMAPS tends to be especially beneficial for those with IBS or other gastrointestinal issues.

You may not technically have IBS, but if you find yourself constantly bloated and gassy, elimination of FODMAP foods may help ease your pain.

FODMAP foods are poorly absorbed in the small intestine (for everyone). They then pass to the large intestine where bacteria ferment them which results in the production of gas. Of course, we all have/get gas (except me, I’m a lady), but those with IBS, etc. tend to suffer with more discomfort than the average person.

You’re probably wondering what foods are considered FODMAPS? Here is a great chart laying out the best and worst food choices if you wanted to give it a try.

Here are just a few examples of foods to avoid if you have IBS or other tummy problems:

Excess Fructose:

apple, mango, high fructose corn syrup, dried fruit

Lactose

cow’s milk, cottage cheese, cream cheese

Fructans

artichoke, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onion, wheat and rye

Galactans

Legumes- baked beans, chickpeas, soy beans

Polyols

apricots, cauliflower, xylitol sweetener

 

It kind of seems like there is nothing to eat if you eliminate FODMAPS, but there actually are! Here are a couple foods that are good to go (and several more on that chart I linked to above):

Bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, gluten free cereals/breads, lactose-free milks, hard cheese, tofu, maple syrup

 

There are options! I am seeing more and more recipes cater to FODMAP sensitive folks too, which is great. Like I mentioned above, lots of Paleo recipes include FODMAP free foods.

Hopefully that mini-breakdown helps clear up a little FODMAP mystery. Of course, I am not a doctor. I referred to information found on the Cleveland Clinic’s website and of course, Wikipedia.

 

Have you ever eliminated FODMAPS?

16 Minute Power Tabata

Ohh baby….this one is a doozy. Tabata workouts are just so great but so awful at the same time. I think they’re pretty deceptive: 20 seconds of work? Doesn’t sound so bad. Eight times through though? Harder than you’d think!

This Tabata is set up a little differently. There are basically 4 different workouts. You go through the first 2 exercises 8x, then move onto the next pair. In a way it’s sort of easier because you switch back and forth between the 2 exercises so you actually do each one only 4x through. Maybe slightly easier? Probably not though :).

Power Tabata

Power Tabata

Just to clarify even further, for example with the first set of exercises: perform 20 sec of burpees followed by ten second rest, then 20 sec. of push-ups, rest, then back to burpees for a total of 8 rounds.

I think most of these are self explanatory but I’ll explain a few potentially confusing ones:

Burpee with tuck jump- perform a burpee but when you come back to standing, jump up tucking your knees in towards your chest, then back to burpee.

V sit-up to superman- lay on your back with legs on the ground and arms overhead. Sit-up bringing your legs towards your arms and arms towards your legs keeping both straight, then lay back down, roll to your back and perform a superman. A superman is lying on your stomach (legs and arms straight), then bringing them both off the ground. Sort of like a sit up for your back muscles. Then roll back over for v sit-up.

If you have any questions about any exercise feel free to ask!

Good luck and happy almost Friday!

 

On-The-Go Paleo Snack Ideas

Snacks are fun. However, paleo snacks take a little more planning (it all comes back to plannning/food prep I swear!).  I am in the car a lot these days, so snacks are pretty darn important (for me and the toddler). Here are a couple paleo-centric snack ideas (if you have some, please leave them in the comments!):

Nuts and Dried Fruit

I like to mix the two together and create my own mini-trail mix. Lately, I’ve been measuring out cashews and dried (unsweetened) apples. I am loving those apples!! I measure out the nuts because even though they are “good fats” it is sooo easy to eat like, 12 servings in 12 minutes and that equals a million calories sooooo yeah. I try to keep it a little bit under control.

dried apples and cashews..yum!

dried apples and cashews..yum!

Hard Boiled Eggs

I heart eggs. I could eat them all day long. I’ve been buying 60 eggs (yes, 60) at Costco lately and hard boiling ten or so. They are so great to have in the fridge or bring with you on car trips <–easy, cheap protein!

Homemade Paleo Muffins/Bread

Hey, sometimes we need some “bread” in our lives. About a month or so ago, I made a couple batches of pumpkin paleo muffins and froze them. Freezing them is key for me because then I don’t eat them all in two days. It’s great because you can just take out 1 or 2 and microwave them or leave them out overnight and enjoy the next day.

pumpkin paleo muffins

pumpkin paleo muffins

 

Jerky

Jerky can be a little pricey, but it is another great source of on-the-go protein. If you have a Costco card, you can find large bags at a reasonable price. If not, check online or even at Walmart, the prices may be a little better.

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Applesauce Squeezes

Take a note from your toddler (or nearby baby) and try some of the applesauce squeezes. These are obviously incredibly convenient and a great source of carbohydrates when you need some. Make sure to pick ones that are unsweetened though!

Applesauce and Lara Bars

Applesauce and Lara Bars

Fresh Fruit/Veggies

I have been obsessed with oranges lately!!! They are a little messy, but I bring some cut oranges with me  when we drive...they are so good! You could bring bananas or apples too. As far as veggies, anything goes! Cut up some peppers, cucumber, even broccoli if you like it raw. Can’t go wrong with fresh fruit and veggies.

I heart oranges

I heart oranges

Olives

Good fats, baby! What an easy snack too. I don’t love green olives so I’ll be passing on those, but black olives are delicious. Make sure to pick olives without many added ingredients (the shorter the ingredient list, the better).

Tuna

If you’re really hard core (and I’m not), bring a little pack of tuna. You could get creative and bring along avocado too and use that in place of your mayonnaise.

Deli Meat Slices

Lately I’ve been packing little zip lock bags full of turkey slices. I try to buy some that are lower in sodium because a.) that’s a healthier option, and b.) the other ones are just too salty. The best choice is nitrate-free, organic, blabla but sometimes those are just a little pricey so do the best you can!

Lara Bars

Not all Lara Bars are created equally! Look for the flavors with no sugar/chocolate added like Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie. Lara Bars are great when you’re in a hurry and need to grab something quick!

 

There are lots of other packaged Paleo snack options out there…some that I don’t even know about I’m sure! These are just a couple to get you started!

Do you have any “go to” Paleo snacks? 

30 Day Paleo Challenge: Week 1

8 whole days following a Paleo diet….unbelievable! I haven’t talked much about it because honestly, I don’t want to “talk it up” then “fail” after like, 3 hours (its’ happened before so don’t put it past me), then have to report back to you guys with the disappointing news. I’m not making it a big deal, because it’s really not one.

I’m not sure what’s changed this time around, but so far, it hasn’t been too bad. My original intentions were to follow the Whole30. Well, after like, the 2nd day I realized that I had already “blown it” by using certain foods that aren’t technically Whole30 approved. Well, oh well. Shit happens. So, I’ve decided to give myself a break and try to focus on Paleo/clean eating.

I think because I’m sort of giving myself more slack than I have in the past, I’m actually doing better this time around. Does that make sense? Like, somehow I’m not focusing as much on what I can’t eat but what I can eat. That helps a lot!

My goal for this “Paleo challenge” is really to clean up my diet. I don’t really have digestion problems, or skin irritations, or celiacs (a few reasons why people switch to Paleo)….I just want to clean up the diet. It almost feels like a reset for me. I’m sure some of you are wondering, why don’t you just eat clean carbs? Honestly, I feel better when I don’t eat processed carbohydrates. I feel less weighed down and groggy. I’ll probably add them again after these 30 days…but we’ll see.

Anyway, here’s a mini breakdown of how I’ve been feeling so far:

Days 1-3

Easy days!! These days may be some of the easiest because I was in that beginning stage and the motivation hasn’t worn off yet. I felt like I had plenty of energy too which is great. I had most of my meals planned so I wouldn’t side track. I also did tons of research on new recipes I wanted to try which makes it fun.

Days 4-8

Ugh..getting harder. I can’t believe I still have a couple more weeks of this! I’m starting to notice little habits of mine, for example, I typically eat most of the food off my daughters plate if she doesn’t finish. Well, not lately!! I’ve thought about it several times though…Another example, COSTCO!!! I went to Costco today and wanted all the snacks. They had mac and cheese and those delicious fig bars as samples….I could eat those fig bars all day long. I was good though! Showing a little discipline…

I noticed the past couple days my energy levels have been a little lower. One thing I’m finding on this Paleo challenge is I have to eat enough. For example, last night I made an awesome dinner (roasted chicken thighs via NomNomPaleo) and mashed cauliflower. The dinner took me so long though, I never made a starchy carb like sweet potato. So, I ate some chicken and cauliflower. I definitely felt like something was missing.

It’s easier to get enough food when you’re eating carbs because they are relatively filling and convenient foods. Since I’m not eating those though…sometimes I think I haven’t eaten enough (I can only eat so many turkey slices at lunch). That’s when food prep comes in.

Today, I did a terrible job at having food prepped. I ate some eggs this morning, but then got back to the house late (like 3) and had nothing ready to eat. I literally ate like 10 slices of turkey, a little avocado, and an orange. That probably doesn’t sound too bad to you, but it was a pretty weak meal and I hadn’t eaten much beforehand because I didn’t have any snacks prepped. Fail.

 

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I actually feel like I can finish this challenge. Whether or not I’ll continue following a Paleo diet afterwards is still up in the air.

Some things I think that are necessary to succeed at following Paleo are the following:

Food Prep- I already mentioned this, but food prep is pretty much a necessity. It’s just too hard otherwise. Some easy prep ideas are cooking a bunch of chicken breasts, roasting sweet potatoes, chopping vegetables so they’re easily accessible,  boiling some eggs for snacks, and planning out your meals in advance.

Take Time- This goes with food prep. Food prep takes time! It’s so worth it though, Paleo or not!

Eat Enough Food!- This sounds so obvious and awesome, because, well, eating is awesome. It can sometimes be a challenge though if you don’t have enough food around.

Try New Recipes- One thing in particular I’m really enjoying about this challenge so far is trying new recipes!! I’ve made several new recipes this week and just ordered two new cookbooks. I’m busting out my good kitchen supplies (food processor, kitchen-aide mixer) and throwing myself into the kitchen. I think cooking new foods makes the whole challenge a little more interesting. You could absolutely eat grilled chicken breast, sweet potato, and avocado the whole time but how boring would that be?

roastedchickenthighs

(Delicious roasted chicken thighs with bacon and apple…highly recommend it! Recipe is here.)

Don’t Beat Yourself Up- If you eat something that’s not technically Paleo, so be it. It’s okay. Dust yourself off and try again! You are not a failure.

 

This post is sort of a ramble. Hopefully it makes sense! I’ll check back in next week with an update for week 2!!

 

Have you tried a Paleo eating challenge or Whole30? How did you do?

Paleo Asian Beef (or elk or turkey) Stir Fry

I’ve made this dish twice in the last week. That is how much I like it! I made it the first time with ground turkey and the second with elk but feel free to use whatever ground meat you have on hand!

The original recipe comes from NomNomPaleo’s blog (recipe here). I made a few very slight changes.

One of the reasons I like this recipe so much is because it’s easy to make it your own. You can add whatever vegetables you want, use whatever meat you have, and serve it on anything: lettuce wraps, rice, spinach, whatever!!

Here’s what I used:

Asian Elk/Turkey Stir Fry

  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 1 small onion chopped up
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots chopped up
  • 1 can of mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 can of water chestnuts, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp of Tamari/soy sauce/coconut aminos (<– if strict Paleo or Whole30)
  • handful of cilantro
  • handful of cashews, roughly chopped
  • Optional: broccoli slaw. She used the slaw in the stir fry. I didn’t use it at all the first time I made it but the second time I just heated it up and served the meat over it. I like it crunchy so I just wanted to heated up.

(I also used a red bell pepper the first time I made it. Again, whatever veggies you want!).

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First, I cooked the onion and garlic for a couple minutes. Then I added the meat and let it cook until it was mostly brown (not pink). Then I added the rest of the ingredients (except the cashews and cilantro). So easy!

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Once everything was cooked, I added the cashews and cilantro and cooked for a couple more minutes. That’s it!

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I sauteed the broccoli slaw for a couple minutes in water.

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I love a little crunch in my food! Texture, baby!

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I added a little bit of orange because, why not? It’s pretty :).

I just want to point out what my 2 year old daughter ate:

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That’s an unbelievably delicious tortilla from Costco and cheddar cheese. Why is Brooke rubbing it in my face!? It took all the willpower in the world not to snatch dinner from my innocent 2 year old.

I’ll do an update this week on how I’m feeling so far eating Paleo. Each day seems to present challenges…some are better, some are worse. Only 3 more weeks!!! (That sounds like a lifetime by the way).

Happy Monday!