Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Tender bits of dark meat chicken braised in a savory sauce with leeks, mushrooms and artichoke hearts? Oh yeah you betchya.

In a word? Yum.

We had frost this morning when I woke up and the whole world was covered in a glittering, sparkling sheen of tiny ice crystals. I haven’t seen frost since I moved away from Humboldt County. You don’t get frost in LA, at least not that I’ve ever noticed. But here, well, you get frost in September and I think this qualifies as “the first frost” because all my Johnny Jump Ups were dead when I went out front this morning. It’s the kind of weather that begs for savory, slow cooked dinners. And it just so happens, I had a savory, slow cooked dinner in mind. My dear friend and dietary inspirer over at Love.Thrive.Eat made this the other day. It sounded so good that I had to run right out and get some chicken and mushrooms so I could make it myself.

I’ll just go ahead and say it now. It is impossible to take a good picture of this dinner. It is quite possibly the least photogenic meal I have ever made.


This recipe, unsurprisingly, comes from Against All Grains by Danielle Walker. She seems to be everyone’s favorite paleo chef at the moment, and it’s well deserved. AAG is the cookbook I run to the most often these days when I need a guaranteed-yummo-but-easy dinner idea and it has not steered me wrong yet. I should add that my mom just went out and bought her own copy since I took mine with me when we moved up to the Mountain. It became Mom’s favorite go-to cookbook while we were living with her. All the other paleo cookbooks I brought were “please keep this in your room and not in the kitchen” but I don’t think Against All Grains left the kitchen counter even one night for the 3 weeks that we were there unless she was reading it on the couch. Mom doesn’t care about eating paleo, she just likes good food. For my mother to like and buy a cookbook is kind of a ringing endorsement.

I’m giving you my version of the dish here written with the adaptations I made – you’ll need to get the cookbook for the original recipe. I was missing things and had to sub a few ingredients and I also changed some amounts. The author gives you other options for things to use in the original recipe, so you have a choice of ingredients. Get the cookbook.

6 TBS clarified butter
1 package chicken drumsticks, one package chicken thighs, about 3- 4 lbs.
1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 lb slice crimini mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 TBS coconut flour
1 13 oz can artichoke hearts (drained)
1 large leek, cleaned thoroughly and sliced into coins (my addition)

Preheat your oven to 375.

Put your Dutch oven on the stovetop at a medium heat, and brown your chicken pieces in the butter, with the salt and the paprika and pepper added. Set them aside when they are browned and toss the mushrooms, garlic and leeks into the butter mixture that is simmering in the pot. Brown those for a minute, then add the chicken broth, vinegar, honey and coconut flour. Cook that on the stovetop at medium for about 10 minutes, then throw your chicken back in the pot along with that can of artichoke hearts. Put the lid on your Dutch oven and stick that sucker in the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes. Normally I’d cook bone in chicken a little longer, but if you’re using a cast iron Dutch oven, it will concentrate the heat and the cooking time will be perfect. If you are using a glass dish or casserole, you might have to adjust a little longer, so take that into consideration.


This dish was incredible. It tastes so good. Oh my gosh I can’t even say. Slippery soft little bits of leek braised with velvety artichoke hearts, savory mushrooms and the perfectly cooked chicken just slipped from the bone. YUM. This is the kind of dish that demands you open a really good bottle of wine and linger at the table with good friends. This, my friends, is Company Chicken. This is the chicken you will make for your lover, your best friend, your mother in law, or just yourself because you are awesome and you deserve it. The kicker is that it’s practically no work at all, so your friends will think you’re a flippin’ genius in the kitchen, you will get kudos, compliments and accolades, and you will have spent the bulk of the cooking time with your feet up, drinking a nice up of tea. It’s also pretty inexpensive. Barring pantry staples like spices, vinegar, honey, and the coconut flour which I always have on hand, I spent about $18 on this dish. There was enough for at least 4 people to have a nice dinner with good appetites, or for two people to eat very well for two nights running.

Rumors that I chased the juices around with a spoon on my plate and finally gave up and tipped the whole thing up so I could savor every last drop are completely not exaggerated. It happened. I confess. It took every ounce of willpower I had to not stand over the pot and slurp the stuff up with a spoon. I did warn the Captain that it might not survive till he comes home from LA, but since I love him, I will throw myself on the chicken and make it again so he can try it.

I think that next time I’ll remove the chicken and veg from the pot at the end of cooking, and reduce the sauce a bit to make it thicker and more gravy like before serving. I didn’t make any side dishes with this. Just that glorious chicken and braised yummy things on my plate. It was perfectly satisfying, the only problem was that the sauce was a little thin to chase around with a spoon and that’s why there are rumors of plate tipping. And, er, plate licking. This chicken would be fantastic over wild rice, (or even a regular potato dish for non paleo folks) and you wouldn’t need more than a simple green salad to tie the whole meal together if you were serving it to company. Maybe throw down some poached pears in wine for dessert and you’ve got the perfect Autumn meal.

(cross posted at our main blog, Honey&Ollie)

Orange Sesame chicken, paleo, yes!!

We are moving.

We are stuck in the middle of moving. Our truck came, loaded our house, and then our new house got put under an evacuation advisory because of the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County. Because wrangling 5 cats in a new house, with the threat of evacuation sounds Unfun, and because a moving van would potentially get in the way of the fire crews, rigs, dozers and other folks needing access on the very narrow country roads up there, we have decided to wait out the evacuation advisory down here at my mom’s. So… yeah, that’s been interesting. However, my mom is blessed with a fantastic cook’s kitchen, much larger than our tiny galley cabin kitchen will be, and I am making good use of it.

A while back, I bought this book off Amazon. Against All Grains, by Danielle Walker.


I bought it, and then promptly had to pack it before I could read it, because, well… moving. And then the big box of cookbooks went into the storage unit. It might have been the first thing I pulled back out, before even some art supplies and clean clothes. After weeks of crazy eating due to weeks of travel and moving, my body has been letting me know pretty clearly that it is time to go back to a clean diet, mostly paleo with minimal grains, organic veggie and lean protein based. I’m so excited about getting to cook from this book!

The first thing I decided to make was the orange sesame chicken. Now I love Panda Express orange chicken. Mmmm. The delicious crunchy sweet and tangy nuggets of battered deliciousness are one of my favorite things. But, not so great for me what with the wheat and the sugar and the preservatives and all. This recipe is actually what prompted me to buy the book, in fact. I love orange chicken so much. Naturally it’d be the first thing I’d make, right?

orange chicken ingredients

Okay, just, yum. Look at all that. All paleo, all friendly to my body, all things I like.

I’m not going to post the recipe here, you will have to get the book for that, but I will note the alterations I made, ok? I pretty much made this recipe as written, except for a couple of things. I used fresh Valencia orange juice (she doesn’t specify either way) and when I was done squeezing the orange, I zested about a teaspoon of the rind and added it to the sauce. That’s not in the recipe but it punched up the citrus flavor really nicely. I also doubled the garlic.

sauce mixed up

The sauce mixes up nicely, quite thin and there’s a decent amount of it. I thought there might be too much for the amount of chicken thighs that we’d planned to cook, but there’s a reason for that. It’s not super sweet, but rather, it’s got a nice mix of tangy/kicky/sweet. Intense without being overwhelming.


Not crazy about the color balance on these. Camera phone. Sorry… but you get the idea. All the organic chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) nestled in their bath of delicious sauce. We set those on low for 3.5 hours and forgot about ’em.

Meanwhile, woman does not live on orange chicken alone, alas. We need greens. And this cookbook has a recipe for a simple garlic/ginger broccoli that looked like it might mesh well with the orange chicken so I decided to cook that up as well. About 3 and a bit hours in, I started to prep and cook the broccoli so it would be ready on time.

broccoli ingredients

Happy trees! I doubled the garlic and ginger in this one as well – what can I say, I LOVE garlic and ginger.


This makes use of coconut aminos in place of soy based sauce (gluten and soy being verboten on paleo) and while they have a slightly sweet, somewhat different flavor, they do work well in place of soy sauce, tamari or shoyu. I rather liked the flavor. It’s one of those ingredients I’ve felt reluctant to embrace but it is growing on me.

While the broccoli was going, I went back to the crock put and fished out the chicken thighs. Ladled the sauce into a small pan and put that on the stove to reduce by about 50%.


It thickens up nicely in about 20 minutes. The flavors come together beautifully in the crock pot with the chicken, and this just intensifies everything at the end.


Seeing as how we personally are not, actually, against all grains, we ladled this over some organic brown jasmine rice. Sesame seeds to top, and off to the table.

Not a lot of talking, quite a lot of eating, and three empty plates.

I’d say this one is an unqualified success. Two thumbs up!

(crossposted to

Eleven days later, how is it going? And a recipe

Eleven days ago I decided we’d eeease on down the road to paleo. How’s that workin’ out for ya, Rainy? you might be wondering.

Well. Great and not so great. Giving up grains and gluten was good, and I think I’m over the worst of the gluten cravings now. But I noticed something funny. The minute I switched to “gluten free” I began looking at (and buying) all sorts of crap because it was GF and therefore “healthy” and okay. Even if those things had cane juice or sugar (a no), I managed to rationalize it to myself.

Newsflash! Substituting healthier crap for less healthy crap is still eating crap. Three slices of toasted gluten free raisin bread is NOT the healthy equivalent to a plate of veg and protein, first thing in the morning.

There are some bad food ideas here that need adjustment, I am beginning to see. I’m looking at that. A lot of the paleo-treats I was looking forward to are less appealing in light of that. Maybe rather than just finding pancake alternatives, I could look at how I really feel about pancakes and why they are so important to hold on to. Doesn’t mean never having a pancake again. But it does mean cleaning out some toxic emotional patterns around food.

My “modifications”, how are they working out? Well, corn and legumes don’t seem to agree with me as well as I thought they might so I’ve cut them out too. I’ve also ditched most of the dairy and cheese at this point – the only holdout being that one splash of cream in my morning coffee. My “modified” paleo is beginning to look less and less modified.

Activity: I’m up to 3 miles around the Rose Bowl 3x a week, though I will say that it’s not a habit yet and I still don’t like doing it. Have to force myself to go. But, I’m doing it. And I’m down to 176 lb. I’ve lost at least an inch around in places and I might need new pants soon. So that’s exciting.

My friend Mama Bat turned me on to this great book “Well Fed” by Melissa Joulwan, which led me to “It Starts With Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. That took me to the Whole 30 program. It’s worth a read. And those two books are DEFINITELY worth a read. Some of the recipes in Well Fed, and the Hot Plate theory are seriously saving my bacon as I work through all the attitudes and roadblocks on my way towards making this a permanent life shift.

So I believe I promised you a recipe, yes? Here ya go. Inspired by a late night reading of Necessity’s Child (by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) – I present “Beck’s Mess Greens”

1 TBS olive oil
1 shallot, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 slices of Niman Ranch Canadian bacon, chopped
3 “stuffing” portabellas. The ones that are about the size of a small sand dollar, sliced
1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s organic Tuscan kale
1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s organic baby spinach
Fluer de Sel
Lemon Pepper
Trader Joe’s white balsamic vinegar

Saute the shallot, garlic, bacon and mushrooms in the olive oil. When the mushrooms are about half done, toss in the kale. When the mushrooms are mostly done, toss in the spinach. You want to keep stirring it while the greens are wilting, and the kale takes longer to cook than the spinach. Adjust flavor with salt and lemon pepper, and a splash of vinegar in the last minute or so of cooking. It is very yummo.

Day 1 – again

Started off the day with a trip to the chiropractor, and a walk. Didn’t get as far on the walk as I would have liked, but some walkies are better than no walkies and it felt good to get out and move. I’m working up to walking every day 5x a week for 3 miles. Not there yet. Will be soon. And then off to Sprouts to shop for supplies and stuff to replace the things I can’t eat now on the new diet.

So did we decide to go full on cold turkey, or ease in? I’m easing in, with a very modified paleo. We’re doing it. “Modified” is where I probably just lost about 90% of paleo folks reading along at home, but, hey, this is about what works for me and not for anyone else.

fruit in moderation
green, leafy and other veggies
sweet potato/yams in moderation
brown rice products (including brown rice pasta, rice flour and crackers)
quinoa products (including flour).
coconut products (flour, milk, meat, etc)
the nuts I can eat (I have a tree nut allergy, specifically to almonds, pecans and black walnut, so this does make some paleo a challenge) which are cashews and maybe pistachios.
grass fed beef and lamb
organic chicken
Niman Ranch pork in moderation
grass fed butter
honey and real maple syrup

(Everything I love. Er. No not really.)
I am avoiding:

wheat, spelt, rye, oats, barley and other grains
most dairy
all GMO
oils other than olive, and avocado.

I am allowing myself limited amounts of some things that are NOT allowed on paleo – but they don’t seem to bug me much and I’m gonna be seeing how it goes. They may or may not be phased out later on depending on how I feel my body is doing over time.
organic, fair trade coffee
tea – the health benefits of tea are proven and I believe they outweigh any benefit you get from giving it up.
organic, pasture raised dairy – specifically grass fed butter and half and half, and organic cheese from goats and sheep.
organic, heirloom legumes – not into the GMO beany badness, but frankly, I love legumes. They are a staple. So YES to peas, some beans (not all) and Spanish peanuts/peanut butter.
non-GMO, organic corn
nightshades – peppers and tomato

So here we go… Day 1, Not-Quite-Paleo

It’s been a while…

Things went pretty well in the eating clean, no sugar department, for a good long while after my last post. Definitely noticed some very dramatic changes overall, though weight loss has abruptly plateaued and has not moved in several weeks.

And then… we closed our store.

And then… we went to Kansas for 7 days.

And then… I fell off the wagon.

Actually I didn’t so much “fall” off the wagon as make the choice to dive off headfirst. It was really a matter of survival. We were staying with other people, in town for an event, and there were a lot of time constraints going on. I didn’t want to be “that guy” or any trouble, or particularly high maintenance so… yeah, eating clean or sugar free was just not really something that felt possible.

In the last seven days, I have eaten the following.





Chicken Fried Steak
Taco Bell
Panda Express
Sonic Drive In
Yet More Panda Express
Pulled pork BBQ
Wedding cake
Chocolate fondue
Frozen custard
Hot fudge
raspberies in sugar

and more stuff that, while homemade, was probably not great for me.

I DID manage to stick to honey and agave for my coffee, managed some salads and lean protein but really? The clean eating/no sugar thing? BLOWN. Kablooie. Like a big blown thing.

I’m actually glad I did it. For one thing, I really enjoyed some of those things. Waffles? Nom. Frozen custard? Amazing. Pulled pork BBQ? Heavenly. But the majority of those things I was really thinking I was missing, and when I actually got to eat them, they just weren’t all that great. The cake, fondue and other sweets? Totally not worth it and in fact were sickeningly sweet. Sonic? Well… it was tasty but not a life affirming taste experience. Taco Bell? Erhm, well, I think there’s something about Taco Bell. I mean, I had not had it since 2007 and there I was, snarfing down taco after taco like there was no tomorrow. It tasted SO. Damn. Good. But I think, ultimately probably not worth it. Glad to have visited, surely do not want to live there.

Consequently, now we are home, my joints and fibro are screaming and flaring, my body (which was pretty ok with this no sugar thing before we left town) is in a state of “WTFBBQ???” revolt, and I am firmly back on the no sugar, no processed foods, no GMO, clean eating train. Sugar cravings are nowhere near as bad as the first time, but, they’re definitely present and so is that crazy appetite.

Fortunately I know this will all settle down. And that’s good because I’m about to level up. That’s right, we’re going for a modified paleo. And it’s “we” because I think I’ve convinced Captain Sexypants to go paleo with me. I think we’ll be easing in to this one. First up for Week 1? Deleting all grains (brown or wild rice and quinoa are the exceptions and I am looking in to different theories about non GMO corn) and starches (like white and yellow potatoes).

Should be a blast! Got any paleo recipes or sites you recommend? I could surely use the help!

How’d it go, after a weekend at Crafted?

Well, Virginia, it didn’t go so well. I mean, it went well for the first two days. But by night #2 I was exhausted and starting to flare, and thought, “Oh I’ll just pack my lunch in the morning.” Heh. This is where the needle goes screeching off the record, btw. Not so much with that. The expectation that I’d have the energy or spoons to pack a meal on a Sunday morning (day 3 at Crafted is always the hardest one for me) was unrealistic. I’d already determined I wouldn’t be perfect at this challenge and have allowed myself some flexibility around the rules. I knew that Crafted would be a particularly difficult 3 days to navigate and I stayed within the spirit of things.

So what have we learned?

1. The fresh Italian food truck is not always going to be at Crafted to save your @ss with a veggie wrap on whole wheat, so plan ahead.
2. Shop ahead.
3. Chop ahead.
4. Cook ahead. And next week, throw something resembling curry into the crock pot on Sunday morning, so you can have a nice curry when you get home.

Another thing I learned. The “amazing artisanal vanilla extract from Sonoma” that the new coffee truck serves is… not an extract. It’s a syrup and the first ingredient on the label is “sugar.” This explains a few things about why I felt so crappy last Monday and why the sugar cravings were so intense again this week.

I worry about grilling waiters and baristas and demanding to read labels. I don’t want to be rude, or make them mad. I don’t want to be That Guy. I feel like I kind of need to start doing that, though, because I’m tired of stealth nuts or stealth sugar.

SO here is my RANTY PANTIES rant.

I’m starting to get really pissy about people in food establishments blithely assuring me that things are “fine” according to whatever criteria I’ve given them (in my case, nut free and sugar free, in other cases I have friends who have other allergies or who are gluten free because they are celiac, etc) and feeling like I must interrogate them and demand to see labels. It ruins the experience. I love eating out. I do. But things like this are starting to make the experience a little more iffy.

Waiters, baristas, chefs of the world, I know it’s kind of a pain in the ass. But I assure you that most folks are not doing this to be pains in your ass or to be special snowflakes. People actually do have legitimate health concerns.

Here is the deal. I’m not unreasonable and when I eat out I relinquish control over what is being prepared. That’s part of the fun. I’m basically fine with that. I am placing myself in your expert hands and I want you to rock my world. I am trusting you. I am not a person who demands that the chef make a ton of special accommodations for me, I rarely order things changed from the menu descriptions, I really want to eat your dishes as you envisioned them. That’s why I’m paying you to make food for me! I just want to be safe. If you blow me off and tell me that there are not walnuts or almonds or pecans in something* and it turns out that there are, I WILL GET SICK. In a life threatening kind of way. As in, a huge ER bill and epi-pen kind of way. Shall I bring you my ER bill after you fucked up? And have you pay to replace the $200 epi-pen that I used up? Because really, at that point, it’s your ER bill. I’m uninsured. I can’t afford that shit.

If you don’t read a label and there is sugar in something, the resulting flare of my autoimmune disorder will knock me back for days. Please see “I’m uninsured.” I manage my auto-immune symptoms primarily with diet. I don’t take meds for it because again, I am uninsured and I can’t afford that shit.

Eating well and avoiding certain foods is how I take personal responsibility for my health and well being. It’s how I avoid running up bills that I can’t pay. I don’t see this as a bad thing.

And if your response to this is, “Well fuck you all, this is your problem. Just don’t eat out, special snowflake.” well…. Ya know? Right back atchya. I make a point of asking about everything I order. It’s frustrating when I say, “This is a life threatening allergy. ARE THERE NUTS IN THIS DISH?” and they say, “No.” and then they bring out something filled with nuts. That never happens? That happened to me two weeks ago at an upscale fish place in Ventura. I asked the waiter very pointedly about tree nuts in what I wanted to order. He said no. I asked him to note on the ticket going to the kitchen that there was a nut allergy. The restaurant was dimly lit and hard to see, my food came out and in the first bite I got a mouthful of slivered almonds with the wild rice that came on the side. That was not fun for me. That ruined my night. Yes, I expect my waiter to know what’s in the food he is serving, or to ask if he does not. I expect the chef to be willing to stop for one second and tell him. That’s part of what I’m paying for when I come to your restaurant and eat there. I have an expectation that what I eat in your establishment won’t kill me or make me sick.

I just want to be able to believe when you tell me what’s in my food. And I want you to take it seriously when I ask you.


*and don’t tell me, “Well why don’t you just see that there are nuts?” I’ll tell you why that doesn’t always work. Two words. Fucking almond meal. Wait, that’s three words. My point is, sometimes it’s not immediately obvious. OH, also? Walnut oil. It looks a lot like any other oil. Trust me. You can’t always tell.

I’m gonna straight up cop to the fact that there’s also a sense of disappointment and entitlement when I can’t have what I want, and I get that I might be out of line with that. First world problems. I know. I was really excited that the coffee truck – which is in every other way superior and amazing – had a vanilla flavored latte that I could enjoy. “Extract. That’s brilliant!” I thought. It was a let down. But hey, if a non-flavored latte was the biggest disappointment in my day, that’s a pretty damn great day. Fine with that. Loved my plain latte just as much. Love my charming barista, love his cheeky banter, tipped him nicely and moved on. All good. I’m still totally grateful that there’s a coffee truck at all. I just won’t believe him when he assures me that something is okay for me to consume, next time. I’ll ask to see the label. I’ll hold up the line. I’ll be That Guy. And I won’t feel bad about it because it has been demonstrated that trust is not something I can afford to place in this particular place.

I guess that’s pretty simple after all.


Time is definitely going to be the number one challenge to eating well. AFter a 40 mile commute through downtown LA each way and a 12 hour day, the idea of prepping a lunch and making a healthy meal, then cleaning up afterwards, can seem daunting.

ON the other hand. It was lovely to pack my bento boxes in a bag this morning and skip off to work and know that food would not be a problem. I use a Mr. Bento insulated bento set from Zojirushi which works great for hot and cold foods, cut up sandwiches and fruit, etc. Whatever you like. Hot food stays hot on the bottom and cold food doesn’t get hot on the top. It looks like they’ve upgraded since I bought mine several years ago – what I have is analagous to the Ms. Bento style box. It’s basically just one less container for food. The new ones are sleek and nice. I also use this bento from Black + Blum. I like that one because the little containers that fit inside are nice and keep things separate – even liquids – I like this for salad.

So 8pm found me cutting up purple yams for roasting, packing another lunch bento for tomorrow, chopping veggies to saute for dinner, and then it was 9 and I was exhausted and there was food but I was too tired to really want to eat much of it.

Now I’m exhausted, footsore, contemplating dishes, and dreading the early alarm in the morning.

Time. I need more of it. Or a wife. Or better habits. How long does it take to change habits and make new ones, anyway?

I think a good plan for this, at least for the portion of the week when I’m working at the shop and not from home, might be to plan meals for a few days and do all the chopping and prep work ahead of time. I’ll tackle that next week. This week, I’m just going to try to make it through without blowing it too badly and trying to EAT THE WORLD. Today was rough. Sugar cravings are back, like wow. If anyone has any good “Plan ahead” websites or meal plans, I’d definitely be down for recommendations.

Also? No, Virginia, even if those ARE whole grain healthy chips, you can’t eat the whole bag. Ask me how I know.

Another 30 days, another challenge.

I said yesterday that we were going to be trying the 100 Days of Real Food 10 Day Challenge (for 30 days). And honestly, I think I already blew it. I forgot to take my copy of the rules with me when I went to Sprouts (new health food market in our area) and I forgot a few of the guidelines.

I quickly realized that finding foods with 5 ingredients or less was going to be harder than I thought – especially with little advance planning, at 8pm on a work night. I decided that 8 was a nice round number and didn’t buy anything with more than 8 ingredients in it. We’ll shoot for 5 next week. We’ve got a few weeks to get this right, after all.

I also blew the “no fast food” rule – I bought an organic rotisserie chicken to shred for quesadillas and sandwiches over the next few days of work. It had fewer than 5 ingredients, though, and I’m ok with that. I also got some Terra Chips and some sweet potato tortilla chips. Are those fast food? I eat a LOT of chips and salsa, it’s a go to snack around here.

Some things I’ve noticed right off the bat –

Organic is freaking expensive but if you’re careful and pay attention to what you’re buying, you can get out for a reasonable amount.

Sprouts, while touting health food, is not necessarily all about locally grown organic goodness and you have to read labels pretty carefully.

Wine has fewer than 5 ingredients.

I was primarily looking for whole grain, non GMO, certified organic alternatives to things we tend to eat that are not quite as healthful. I’m here to tell you that it’s damn hard to find things that say “WHOLE wheat” and not just “Wheat” on the label.

Also? So called health food is still often laden with sugar. They just call it “cane juice.”

So here we go. 30 days of (mostly) whole foods. Who is in?

Dinner tonight, btw, was a quesadilla made with the aforementioned rotisserie chicken, a whole wheat tortilla, cheese, and tomatillo salsa, with an organic greens and tomato salad with fig balsamic. NONE of which had more than 5 ingredients in them. Win.

The only problem with cooking and eating healthfully? Dishes. Dishes and mess. I’m a single mom, I own a business and work crazy hours. Who has time to do dishes? That’s really been the sole appeal of takeout and part of why our family has become so dependent on Takeout Taxi. No time to clean, Dr. Jones…

It will be 30 days – ONE MONTH – as of tomorrow

I can’t believe it’s been a month.

30 days of nearly no sugar. I say “nearly” because I’ve had a couple of accidental sugar encounters when I didn’t read a label or ask about an ingredient list. This has mainly been around Asian food – I’m going to have to strategize around my trips out for sushi, pho and Thai dinners.

CONFESSION TIME. Yes. Here’s the list of what I knew probably had sugar in it when I ate it, and did it anyway.

1. I drank a homemade wine spritzer at a crafting event dinner and had BBQ – realizing later that BBQ sauce is sugar-laden and the juice in my spritzer, while organic, totally was made with cane sugar. It was all nice tasting, but now I am committed to finding a way to enjoy something resembling sugar free sangria this summer and I plan to hack both BBQ sauce and catsup and make my own sugar free versions.
2. I also deliberately chose to have a teaspoonful of homemade organic strawberry jam on a biscuit when we were on vacation. It was heavenly.
3. I took a very small bite of a carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting when it was offered. It was gross and oversweet.
4. I dipped some french fries in catsup which had HFCS. I dipped two fries and it was nasty tasting, so I switched to malt vinegar.

So NEARLY sugar free for 30 days.

How’s it feel? It feels great. I feel amazing.

Fibro pain is much less. My hands no longer swell and ache unless I really overdo it in my jewelry studio or on the keyboard. Joint pain is much better and so is my fatigue. I still have days where I’m very tired and it feels like slogging through molasses, but there are fewer of those days overall.

The times I’ve had sugar over the last 30 days have nearly all resulted in a day of pain afterwards, swollen screaming hands, and exhaustion. That’s generally been the indicator that, “Oh geez, there was sugar in X thing. Crapweasels.” The exception to this would be the day I ate the biscuit with jam. Such a small amount, not a meal’s worth, seems to be okay from time to time.

Mental acuity is better. My memory seems to be a better, I’m not having as much fibro fog (ugh I hate that). If I overdo and get seriously tired, sure, but I don’t lose whole days to the mental clouds.

Energy level. I have more energy overall which is fantastic.

Sex drive. Erhm, not to be one with the TMI but, yes thanks, that seems to be functioning better too. \m/ \m/

Sleep. I am sleeping better, dreaming a lot (I didn’t before) and feeling more rested in general.

Size – I have dropped about 8 pounds according to my scale. I dropped closer to 11 in the first week and a half, then gained a few back in week 2, but now things have leveled out. I’m losing about .5 – 1 pound a week which is not a bad pace. My goal is to lose 30 pounds from where I started, and do it sustainably. I’d like to be halfway there by mid-May. At this pace, that’s certainly possible!

Clothes are fitting better. I’m less puffy.

I’ve kept myself at between 2-3 tablespoons of honey per day and unless I’m eating out, there’s no other source of sweetening or sugar in my diet. I haven’t been as good about cutting out simple carbs as I’d have liked, but, that’s the next step. I’ve been using My Fitness Tracker and that has me eating about 1590 calories a day.

The horrible overwhelming hunger I felt in the beginning? Gone. It’s easier to be satisfied with smaller portions, and I feel full much faster on less food now.

Oh and the awful mood swings and ups and downs of blood sugar I used to get? SO much better.

I have a good friend who is doing something similar in terms of lifestyle changes and someone asked her if it was hard. In her blog, recently, she wrote that no, the pain and unwellness she’d experienced before her changes were hard. And that’s pretty much it exactly. Not eating sugar isn’t hard at all once you are past the first 10 days. What’s hard is pain and exhaustion. It’s really hard being overweight and sick. Putting some honey in my coffee and being pro-active about reading labels and making better choices is actually quite easy by comparison.

What’s next? Continuing with the no sugar for sure. Walking for 30 minutes, 4x a week.

Oh. And this. Totally taking the “Real Food Diet” challenge. But I’m doing it for 30 days. Hello April!!

Day 10.

Still not eating any sugar.

Still eating somewhat over my daily recommended calories, eating plenty of protein, veg and carbs at each meal. Despite this, I am down 9 lbs in 10 days, which is, imo, too fast. I’m not *trying* to lose this fast. Like I said, it’s happening despite my eating a balanced diet, and eating very well at every meal. I know this may well level back up once my body adjusts fully to the change in diet so I’m starting to look for local dance classes and hoop classes to begin to build endurance and stamina and keep the metabolism running. It’s just amazing to me that eating sugar made that much of a difference in my weight.

I’ve started having very vivid dreams at night and remembering them.

I am sleeping better and I have more energy during the day.

I can wear all my Doctor Who and Firefly shirts from Teefury again.

Fibro symptoms, still present but MUCH better overall.