Random Thoughts – 1/27/2014

  1. <singing>  I just planned my garden!  Yep, the 2014 draft is on paper.  Now I’m getting excited…  and I need to buy myself one of those PVC cutting tools.  😀
  2. Just watched Argo.  That was a good movie.  I never get to do anything that cool at work.
  3. I recently read the book, The Book Thief.  I HIGHLY recommend it.  I can’t tell you anything about it without spoiling it.  Just go read it NOW!
  4. Now that we have cancelled our movie channels, I watch a lot of Food Channel.  It has come to my attention that I have TV crushes on Guy Fieri, Michael Symon, and Robert Irvine.  Food dudes are AWESOME!
  5. Seasonal affective disorder and insomnia are kicking my butt!  January needs to be over.
  6. I made a huge batch of vegetable broth for the first time.  It smells AMAZING and I can’t wait to try it.
  7. I love that commercial where Robin Williams says that Whitman quote.
  8. Took down the Christmas tree and decorations today.  Not the outside lights.  Goodness NO.  Those will be down hopefully before Easter.  Don’t judge me!
  9. I noticed you’re still reading this.  I thought I told you to go read that book.  Seriously, DO IT NOW.

Stay safe and warm, my friends!


Why are food sensitivities so emotional?

My food sensitivity pyramid looks something like this

I read an article – gosh, it’s probably been almost 2 years ago – where the author explained that it is normal for people who have food sensitivities to go through some pretty negative emotions about it.  (If I could find it again, I would link it and totally give her credit for this blog topic.)  She compared it to the stages of grieving and loss.  By NO MEANS am I suggesting that having to eat gluten-free or dairy-free foods is like losing someone.  Not at all.  Not even close.  But on a MUCH smaller scale, isn’t it the same steps and dealing with the same kind of emotions?

When I took my first sensitivity test, I was so relieved.  I knew something was wrong with me.  And I really wanted to believe that it wasn’t my fault… because I didn’t think it was.  I worked hard, since 4th grade, to try and get my weight under control.  But nothing seemed to work.  My body just seemed to be malfunctioning for as long as I could remember.  I was a very busy kid in high school and became a very high energy person in college (SQUIRREL – I once had a professor, who later became my boss, describe me to people like this…  “Mindy makes coffee nervous.”).  So it made no sense to me that no matter how little I ate or how much I worked out, nothing seemed to change.  And when I got the results of that test, I thought I had the magic decoder ring to my weight problem.  Oh happy day!!!

However, after a short while things got difficult.  You see, my first sensitivity test required me to eliminate:  gluten, yeast (both bakers and brewers), eggs (both whites and yolks), green beans, grapes, garlic, pineapple, salmon (and any other non-white fish), yellow cheeses (but not white), and sour cream (which I later found out is a category that includes cream cheese and yogurt).  And at first, I was all in.  “No problem.  I’ll get rid of ALL that crap.”  And I love to cook so it didn’t bother me to spend the better part of a whole day preparing my food for the week. But what I didn’t realize at first is that this also meant eliminating:  all breads, all pastas, anything that has the word “spices” in the ingredients, beer, wine, and many other alcohols. Hmmm…  now this new diet thing is starting to cramp my style a little.

What this actually equated to is more like this:  no more eating at restaurants, no more eating OR DRINKING at gatherings with family or friends, no work potlucks, and nothing convenient (like cafeteria food or prepared food from the grocery store).  That also meant that I now had to become a short order cook so that DH and the kids could have something to eat too.  OK.  Now this diet is not just inconvenient, it is a hassle and is taking TONS of my time, not to mention that it completely changes my social and family life.

So let’s add all of this up.  I didn’t just lose some foods from my diet, I have now also lost some of my comfort (Have I mentioned yet that I am an emotional eater?  I mean, come on.  Who isn’t?), my time, many conveniences, and my means of being social.  Yes, NOW I’d define this as a loss worthy of the stages…

  1. Denial and Isolation – I’d actually put those in the reverse order… like cause and effect.  Isolation – because you’re the only one who has to do this.  Not your friends or the rest of your family, just YOU.  And in my case, I was like “I’m happy about all of this!”  Yeah, right.  Welcome to Denial.
  2. Anger – Oh, this is a fun one.  I’m particularly good at denying that anything is wrong and suppressing that realization until it just jumps out by surprise one day and explodes all over whoever is around.  You know, like on a Sunday night when I realize that I only have enough food for the next 3 meals and that means I get to stay up late and cook or else I don’t get to eat on Tuesday.  And then someone pulls someone else’s hair and everyone starts whining and crying and I go completely bat sh!t crazy on everyone.  Yep, you can almost set your watch to that Anger routine.
  3. Bargaining – This is where I am painfully aware of my lack of self-disciple.  I just want to go out to eat once in a while.  Maybe have some sushi.  Well guess what…  sticky rice has gluten and so does soy sauce.  And good luck finding a sushi that doesn’t have cream cheese, or tempura, or pineapple, or garlic, or red fish.  But I really really really want some.  So I justify it somehow and eat it (Bargaining) and then I pay for it… dearly.
  4. Depression – And here is where we answer the question “Why are food sensitivities so emotional?”  Ummm…  Because they suck.  And we had no control over it.  This isn’t something we decided to do, it was forced upon us.  And because it means we have to experience ALL of these losses.  Epic sad.

But wait… there’s one more…

5.  Acceptance – The light at the end of the tunnel.  This is where we find ways to cope and build a support system to help us through.  This is the part where we make it all work for us.  Or maybe find some crazy chick who writes a blog who will say “Oh my gosh!  I totally went through that too.  It’s hard.  But it gets better.  I promise.  I got your back.  Come here so I can give you a hug.”

WIKA-Paleo Episode 3: Substituting Dairy

My coconut oil, almond milk, and canned coconut milk

My coconut oil, almond milk, and canned coconut milk

Dairy is tricky.  Some people can have it without issue, some can’t have it at all or are intolerant or can’t have just a part of it. When I say part of it, I mean some people have a problem with just one or the other protein in milk products:  casein or whey.  Personally, I have a sensitivity to whey isolate.  That means my body can’t deal with whey when it’s by itself like it is in many protein powders and shakes.  (If you want more info, I found an article that helped me understand them…  http://tasterie.com/blog/2012/10/dairy-allergies-casein-and-whey-what-are-we-talking-about/)

It’s tricky, tricky, tricky.  (SQUIRREL – Does anyone else have RunDMC in their head right now?)  Whatever your sensitivity/intolerance/allergy, if you need to substitute I have some suggestions.


If you want to hear why you should never ever ever drink regular cow’s milk off the shelf, ask my friend Angie K.  She has the best anti-milk rant I’ve ever heard.  🙂   But if you just need to stay away from milk, here’s what I suggest.

  • Coconut milk (in the carton) –  WATCH OUT for the flavored ones.  They contain A LOT of sugar.
  • Nut milks – I pretty much stick with almond milk.  WARNING – I’ve found that some of these contain gluten.  If you’re super sensitive to gluten, read those labels!  And just like coconut milk, watch out for sugar content.  Meijer sells their brand of an almond milk that has no gluten ingredients, is relatively low sugar, and costs less than the others.
  • Rice milk – Not entirely paleo, but a good substitute.  Same rules apply here with sugar content.


I love me some butter.  Real butter.  At the moment, I’m super into Kerrygold butter.  And I have it often because I don’t have a problem with dairy.  However, I have tried several other things that could be used as a substitute.

  • Coconut oil – I use this in almost everything.  It’s really good for you, most brands don’t taste like coconut, and it can withstand high temps without breaking down and creating carcinogens… like olive oil does… oh yes, it does.  (SQUIRREL – Olive oil cannot withstand high temps like cooking in the oven and sautéing or frying in a pan.  I stick to this rule:  Olive oil for cold or flavor, but coconut oil for cooking.)
  • Alternative spreads – Like this coconut one.  These are iffy to me.  I’ve had this one and it is good.  But for some reason it just doesn’t feel right to me.
  • Bacon grease/lard – OK, don’t freak out thinking about fat grams.  Fat grams are not something to be concerned about when they come from an animal.  I’ll get into that whole topic some other time.  But until then, just trust me.  These are totally fine.  (Related SQUIRREL note:  Since I started paleo over 2 years ago, I’ve eaten more fat grams than the rest of my adulthood combined and it has worked WONDERS for me.  Don’t believe me?  See “Before and After” pic.)
  • Not dairy free but another alternative…  Ghee – Ghee is a hidden treasure!  It is kind of like clarified butter.


I have renewed my love affair with heavy cream since I started eating paleo.  I keep organic half and half or organic cream on hand.  But if you need to eliminate the dairy or want to be more of a paleo purist, try this.

  • Coconut milk (in the can) – This stuff is friggin’ genius.  I use it as coffee creamer, in place of cream in sauces or any ol’ recipe, and to make ice cream.  If you put the can in the fridge overnight then take off the top creamy part and whip it up, it is a fantastic substitute for whipped cream!  This one is my favorite but this one is pretty good too and I tend to find it in more stores here locally.


If you flat out cannot have dairy, it’s probably smart just to go without cheese.  But these might get you through a cheese craving.

  • Dairy-free cheese – Like these.  They don’t have the same texture and you can’t exactly cook with them in the same way as regular cheese, but they’ll do in a pinch.
  • If you can get away with it…  Feta cheese – Especially organic.  OR Goat cheese – Some people are less sensitive to goat milk than cow milk.

Hope that helps!  Please let me know if I can help answer any questions.

WIKA-Paleo Episode 2: The Art of Substitution

First, I’d like to thank all of your for reading my last post (WIKA-Paleo) and for sharing your positive feedback.  It has been my highest viewed article to date and that is so motivational for me.  I offer you my most heartfelt gratitude.  You guys are AWESOME!

Today, I’d like to start talking about the most important tip I have learned about implementing a paleo diet.  SUBSTITUTION! 

When trying to replace the “no-no” carbs, I’ve found a few tricks that have helped me A LOT.

PASTA – Oh how I love me some pasta!  However, regular pasta is filled with gluten and is therefore, at least for me and the paleo population, the devil.  (There are MANY gluten-free pastas made with rice, corn, or quinoa.  Not considered pure paleo, but a great substitute if that’s not a concern.)  So here’s what I use for pasta:

  • Spaghetti squash – Good sub for spaghetti, sometimes a little watery so just drain or squeeze out water first.
  • Quinoa – I get mixed reviews on this – some people love it and others hate it – and it is another controversial topic in the paleo blogsphere.  It reminds me of an earthy couscous but is actually a high protein seed of a grain.  For more info and recipes, check out The Queen of Quinoa.
  • Sweet potatoes – These can be used like noodles if shredded.  They have an different texture, of course.  They can also be used like fettuccine. (wait for it…  there’s going to be something super cool to show you how in a second 🙂 )
  • Zucchini – One of my favorite pasta substitutions is ZOODLES!  No, I did not make that up.  It’s a real thing.  It’s when you julienne a zuke to make spaghetti-like noodles… or you use The Spiralizer!  (Also, check out this site that is nothing but ways to noodle up your veggies.)
My "Spiralizer"

My “Spiralizer”



POTATOES – I don’t think I want to live in a world where I cannot have mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.  But what is a paleo girl to do?!?!?!


  • Cauliflower – This veggie is the all-purpose substitute for potatoes.  Steam and puree cauliflower just like you would mash potatoes (I add organic cream and butter too).  Like this.
  • Butternut squash – I whip these up like mashed potatoes and put them on top of my shepherd’s pie.  Wicked awesome.

DICED (like for roasted)

  • Parsnips – I often use parsnips in place of potatoes when I want to have something like roasted potatoes.  (SQUIRREL – I also add them to my mashed faux-tatoes for a more potato-y texture.)
  • Turnips – These also can be used in place of spuds.  I don’t use them as often though unless they are in a soup or stew or something.
  • Sweet Potatoes – If the sweetness doesn’t mess up how the dish is supposed to taste, I use these in place of white potatoes as well.  They have a higher nutrient density than white potatoes so most paleos approve of them (especially as a post-workout, good carb food).

RICE – Since it is technically a grain, this is usually omitted from paleo diets.  However, many of the people I follow still use brown rice for their recipes.  But if you want to get all paleo “purist”:

  • Cauliflower – Rice it in the food processor and use it wherever you would use rice.  (SQUIRREL – I make a mean Spanish “rice” from cauliflower… but I saute that stuff in bacon grease.  Boom.)
  • Quinoa – Also a good substitute for rice.

Hope that helps!  🙂  And don’t miss the next episode of WIKA-Paleo where we will substitute…  DAIRY!  (Hi Wy!)

But finally, from a special request (SM – This is for you.  You thank your mom for this and I’ll thank her for turning you into one of my new fans.  😉 )

Cauliflower and Sweet Potato recipes!

What I Know About (WIKA) Paleo

Before November 2010, After May 2012

BEFORE PIC:   November 2010                                                     AFTER PIC:  May 2012

I’ve been following a paleo “diet” for a little over 2 years.  The picture above reflects a part of what following this lifestyle has done for me.   (SQUIRREL – This is a HUGE step for me to post this pic publicly.   <<pats self on back>>     GO ME!!!)  I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate my paleo lifestyle into this blog.  With the inadvertent help from a few friends of mine, I think I figured it out.  Sooooo………..

Welcome to the first installment of WIKA-Paleo, or “What I Know About” Paleo.  🙂

First, I need to disclaim that although I use the term “DIET” that I DO NOT consider this only a weight loss solution.  Obviously, that is how it affected me.  However, I use it more in the Webster’s-type definition as in “the foods that you eat.”   I think of paleo more as a “solution” or “lifestyle” but I’ll call it diet.  That being said…

The Paleo diet is named because of the relation to the paleolithic, think cavemen, era.  It is also sometimes referred to as the Caveman or Primal diet.  It’s based on the premise that our bodies are genetically predisposed to certain foods – foods that could be found during the caveman’s hunter and gatherer days – and that we don’t do so well with foods that have been processed as we, as a species, have agriculturalized and industrialized our food.  (I might have just made one of those words up.)

What this means is that there are YES foods and NO foods.  CAVEAT – This list is the most debated thing within the paleo community.  So I am sharing the list that *I* follow.  Here are the YES foods:

  • Meats – Including poultry, fish, and eggs
  • Veggies – I’m not including corn and white potatoes here.  I’ll soapbox about those some other day.
  • Fruits – Most paleo people include SOME but not a lot
  • Nuts and seeds

My NO list is:

  • Grains – Pasta, cereal, bread… basically anything that has been derived from wheat (I lump corn in this group too) and rice
  • Dairy – I consider myself to be “lacto-paleo” which means every once in a while I eat something like feta, goat cheese, or organic heavy cream… but it’s rare that I eat these
  • Sugar -Holy crap on a cracker, this one is a biggie.  It’s in EVERYTHING.  And this is why some paleos avoid fruit as well.
  • Anything processed

So by now I expect you are thinking “Well, that just sounds awful” or “What a miserable existence you lead.”  Actually, it’s not that bad or difficult, and the benefits FAR outweigh the inconveniences.  I do make almost ALL (like 99%) of my own food and that takes a lot of time and planning.  But I am able to modify or substitute to recreate just about anything I want to eat (I even found a recipe for paleo-ish “bread” sticks made from cauliflower that tastes so much like Papa John’s cheese sticks that I feel really naughty eating them).  And I have learned a lot from others in the paleo blogsphere.  Here are some of my favorites:

PaleOMG – Juli was the first paleo person I “met” (meaning I followed/stalked her on her blog).  She is HILARIOUS and a little crazy and she swears.  I dig her.

Paleo Parents – This couple has found lots of creative ways to incorporate paleo with their entire family which includes 3 young boys.  I own both of their cookbooks and HIGHLY recommend “Eat Like A Dinosaur” to anyone who is interested in this and has children.  This book has literally changed my life with my family.

Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations – Not only is this site amazing, I have a guilty pleasure here.  George is my internet crush.  (SQUIRREL – DH calls him my “internet boyfriend.”  I got a personal email from George once and was giddy for the better part of a month.)  Former Marine, LOVES bacon, does hot yoga, and writes a paleo blog?  Be still my heart!

The Clothes Make the Girl – I’m following Melissa religiously right now.  I own both of her cookbooks and I quickly adopted her strategy on preparing food for the week and making what she calls “hot plates.”  She’s so cool.

The Paleo Mom – Another site that is REALLY helpful for anyone trying to paleo-ize the whole family.  She has a PhD in medical biophysics (how cool is that?!?!?) and her blog is very down to earth and relatable.  She also does a podcast with the mom from Paleo Parents called The Paleo View.

There are maybe 50 more that I frequent or follow, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.

I plan to write more about my personal paleo journey and share my tips and tricks of how I incorporated it into my life.  But until then, if you have any questions or would like more information about something in particular, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do.  😀

New Year’s Resolutions for 2014


New Year’s Resolution time…  I’m leery of posting this because it feels like a recipe for NOT meeting these goals, but here goes.

  • Eat healthy.  I want to sugar detox and then stick to my paleo diet.  I do really well when I follow it religiously, but I struggle with self-discipline.  One of my support group friends has recently posted about this and I think I’m onto cracking this nut.
  • Get strong.  I want to lift weights and build my endurance.  An added bonus would be if I could tone up in the process.
  • Improve my emotional health.  My good friend and nutritionist keeps telling me that I need to identify and address the emotional triggers that keep me from reaching my goals.  This will be the most difficult to achieve.
  • Improve my self-image.  The girl that other people see (and the girl that is in my mirror) is MUCH different than the image of that girl in my head.  I want to get comfortable with myself and my body.  This resolution is closely tied to the emotional health one.
  • Stop caring about what other people think of me.  This is another biggie.  I need to keep other people out of my “self talk” and learn what *I* want and what makes *me* happy.  As a mom/wife, this is a foreign concept to me… but it shouldn’t be.
  • Work on house renovations.  My house needs work.  Not just aesthetically, but structurally too.  We’ll never be able to move out of this house if we don’t do this.  It’s time.
  • Get financially healthy.  I want to practice only buying what I “NEED” instead of what we “WANT.”  And I want to take care of 2 outstanding debts in particular.  (Btw, house renovations is a NEED.)
  • Bucket List Birthday.  I did this for my 40th and I think it needs to be an annual tradition.  The only thing I have on the list this year so far is to eat a fish taco, but I have a couple of months to fill up the list.  Don’t worry, I’ll be blogging about it.  🙂
  • Lastly, (be brave, Min) I want to wear a bikini…  outside… in public…  just once.  (This is the one WANT I will allow myself as a reward if I can get comfortable enough to do it.)
  • There’s one other that I can’t tell you yet, because I’m too scared.  I’ll let you know when I’m ready though.  Oooh!  The suspense!!!

Now I know that resolutions are tricky.  They seem to be set up for failure.  But I’d like to think of them as guides… or goals… and I can go as fast or as slow as I like to TRY and achieve them.  TRY is the objective word here.  It’s OK if I don’t make it.  I’m giving myself permission to NOT complete this list.  (Reverse psychology… BRILLIANT!)

No pressure.  Let’s just see how this goes.  😀  I’d love to hear your resolutions if you want to share.

Here’s to a fantastic 2014!!!