Monday, May 25, 2015

What do you eat? Day 1

Paleo... But... what do you eat?

The top question I get when people find out we eat fruits, vegetables, and meats is kind of surprising. But what do you eat?

And its so funny because that is the same question I used to wonder myself all the time. 

When we were first struggling with the Celiac diagnosis I just made the same things I always had but gluten free. Honestly, we were healthier than while eating wheat but not a whole lot. 

I had never heard of the paleo diet but eventually we found ourselves on the paleo diet without ever intending to be. My son and I were experiencing severe reactions to all grains. So we were already eating: fruits, seeds, veggies, and meats but I had no idea what to make!

So this week my challenge to myself is presenting what we eat. Hopefully it will help inspire you!! 

Day 1

Breakfast: Today we started off the day with muffins and bacon! My wonderful husband got up early with the baby so I could catch up on some sleep and decided to treat us all to muffins and bacon. I didn't get any pictures of this but... just to round out the day... we ate paleo blueberry muffins and bacon.

Lunch: 

Our lunch today was paleoish. We were able to finally add mozzarella into our diets, after several years of gut healing and growing the right bacteria in our guts first with coconut yogurt, then regular yogurt, then fermented butter, and then cheese!
Grilled steak with a caprese salad:

Steak:

I think grilled steak is probably one of the easiest things possible to make. But its also never wracking!

So here is the method to my madness.
First I leave the steaks out of the fridge for a half hour while I make the salad. 

Then I drizzle evoo over the steaks and sprinkle with celtic sea salt and ground pepper on both sides. 

I preheat my grill for about 5 minutes on high. Then over direct heat I plop down those bad boys. At this point I resist touching them. It is incredibly hard because I'm so worried about them burning. So I set my timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes has passed the steaks have released from the grill and are ready to cook on the other side. But first I hold the fatty side of the steak against the grill until the fat is slightly rendered. Then I turn it onto the uncooked side. 

Again I set my timer for another 5 minutes. After this time is up I feel the meat with my finger and compare it to my cheek. My husband likes it this texture. He's slowly over 8 years been converting me! I put his aside to rest on the serving platter.

The other two steaks I leave on for 2 more minutes and they are chin texture. I give those to myself and the kids. 

After all the steaks are done I place them on the serving platter and allow everything to rest. This only takes about 5 minutes but makes a world of difference in how juicy and evenly cooked the meat is!

As a final touch I drizzle a little evoo over the steaks and we're done!

Caprese Salad:

I've loved this salad since forever ago and am so thankful that I can finally eat it the way it was made to be... with cheese! If you cannot have cheese you can get the creamy texture of the cheese by using ripe avocado.

To make this salad I sliced and then quartered the mozzarella, 5 red and 5 brown tomatoes, and tore the basil into smaller pieces. Then I made a quick balsamic dressing with about a half cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard and then 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Then I tossed them all in the vitamix and blended it till everything was well combined. 

I poured a good quarter cup of dressing over the salad and tossed it with my hands. We all loved it!

Dinner:

Today's dinner included a continuation of the lovely caprese salad we had for lunch with the addition of chicken wings and about half a watermelon. 

Again I did the wings on the grill.

For the wings... I marinaded them in some amazing salsa that my college roommate got us from the San Antonio farmers market. It was fantastic and really went well with the wings without making it too spicy .

The watermelon added an awesome sweet treat to the end of our meal! I sliced it in half then in quarters and the sliced those quarters into triangles. 
 
Hope these simple meals give you some inspiration!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Double Chocolate Apricot Cake

Here is my recipe for egg free paleoish ;-) chocolate cake.
Ingredients:
2 cups almond flour
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup sunnut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup apricot chopped


Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.

Melt the coconut oil. Stir together all the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Whisk thoroughly.
Chop up the apricots so they are about the size of your chocolate chips. Sprinkle them into the batter making sure to separate them. They tend to stick together.
Add the chocolate chips. Fold into batter.

Scoop all the batter into cupcake tins or into a greased cake pan. Lining the pan with parchment paper will help to remove the cake.

I chose to do cupcakes in silicone liners.

Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes. Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Groceries on a Budget

Why budget for groceries?

This may seem obvious but groceries are one of those expenses that you can spend either a massive amount of money on or through conscious effort you can really get your budget down. Its like you blink and add a few extra drinks or cookies and suddenly your bill increases by $100.

There are two ways to deal with groceries.

  1. Meal planning
  2. Buying the amount of meat, fruits, and veggies that you'll need

Meal Planning


I believe that the best way to simplify both your daily life and your budget is to meal and menu plan. At first this may seem like a silly way to go through it but bear with me. 

People so often are beyond overwhelmed by the thought of meal planning. So my simple solution is to keep a notebook in the kitchen and write down what you ate for the week 1 time. That way you can see how much you are spending. Write down this menu and go shopping for it!

While you are shopping write down how much each item costs. I know this is a painful thought BUT trust me knowing how much each item costs will save you money. Write it down per lb or unit of weight. That way you can compare prices. You can even see how prices fluctuate though the year.

The step of knowing how much each item costs will help you plan better next week. For the next week work on honing down your grocery budget. Decide what foods are must haves and what ones are indulgences. For example, we all love bacon. If I am trying to save us money that week I will buy less bacon than I normally would and use it as a flavoring rather than a real meal. If I am not focused on honing down our grocery budget that time I'll buy enough bacon for breakfast every day.


Stick to your list

Once you have worked out your meal plan and written a grocery list you need to stick to it. There are 2 reasons. 
  1. If you do not stick to your list you have no real concept of how much you need versus want
  2. You have no control over your grocery budget unless you stick with your plan.

Buy once every 2 weeks

Do a big grocery haul once every 2 weeks. Other than that don't go to the store. There are always impulse buys that will happen along with grocery shopping. These seem like small expenses but the problem is if you are making an extra 10 dollars worth of purchase at each trip then you will at the end of the month have spent more than you needed.

Plan ahead

When going grocery shopping make sure that everyone is well fed and that you have packed snacks in your purse. There is nothing more tempting for straying off your list than a child or worse adult who is hungry. This is especially true if you, like us, commute to make your grocery purchases.

Find the best stores in your area

Because my family has special dietary needs due to celiac disease we are willing to travel farther than most to purchase groceries that will accommodate our specific requirements at a reasonable price.

The biggest reason we commute for grocery shopping is cost. In our area the cost of organic beef is 3 times as expensive as it is 1.5 hours away. So instead of buying meat that is insanely expensive we make a big trip to Costco once every two weeks. Once a month we go to Whole Foods and Costco in the same trip. 

For some people the best prices may be using coupons at their local grocery store, farmers markets, Aldi or a combination of multiple sources. This will take research and time. But the great part about it is once you have gathered this information you're going to be able to use it indefinitely.

Buying meat in bulk

A major way to save money on meat is to buy it from a farmer in bulk. Things to keep in mind:
  • You will not get your choice of cuts
  • Recipe planning can be difficult with "interesting" items ie tongue, heart, liver, etc.
  • You need to be sure you are not moving in the near future!
  • Buying hung weight versus processed weight can lead to paying more per pound than you expect
  • When buying from a farmer KNOW your farmer. There are disreputable people who will buy stock at auction and sell them to you a couple weeks later. They then tell their customers that the animal was raised on their farm. 

Cut out processed/premade foods

Processed and premade foods drive up your budget and down your nutrition. Sometimes our time is worth more than money. If that is the case realize that you are paying more for the premade cookies than you would making it yourself. Additionally, I would recommend reading labels to see what ingredients compose the premade foods. 

If, like us, you have dietary restrictions be careful of items that are processed. We have had many issues with products that are made on the same line as a gluten containing product causing our whole family to become ill.

Recently we had 2 anaphylactic reactions to processed salmon burgers caused because the producer failed to put on their label that it is on a line with shellfish. When we called customer service they literally told us nobody with a shellfish allergy should EVER eat their product. Where is the warning label... of course! There is no warning label! 

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSAs are another great way to support your local farmers and hopefully save some money. 

In order to utilize a program like this you should:
  • Make sure you are not moving!
  • Ask the CSA if they also sell to farmers markets, local vendors, restaurants etc.
  • If they do sell to others where do your products fall in priority are you simply given what they cannot sell to others?
  • How flexible are you in menu planning? Can you make a meal out of just about any ingredient? Or do you need to follow a recipe?
These are factors to think about prior to committing to a CSA

Grow your own

Growing your own produce and meat is a wonderful way to be more in touch with your food and get great quality, locally grown items for very little money. The issue here is it does take a lot of time, skill and patience!

Accountability

With any goal you need a person to help you be accountable. For me that is my husband. He is a wonderful support and holds me accountable for sticking to our list. But if I really had a problem I would also ask a friend to help me and challenge me to spend less. Look over the grocery list see where you can make cuts on items that you don't need. If there is any spoiled food that is left at the end of a week then you need to take note and either not buy that item again or buy less of it. There are some foods for me that I buy because I think we should eat them. And week after week they would just sit and go stale. 

Rewards

I know for me when I would do a really great job at getting the grocery budget super low my husband would tell me good job and we'd move on with the rest of our day. 

Recently he started actually getting me little presents when I really save us a lot of money. 

What surprised me is how much more appreciated I feel when he buys me a $10 flexi clip or scarf or something I want but don't need. It makes me so proud of myself. In most careers you are rewarded for a job well done financially, as well as, being promoted. That is something that is missing today for most stay at home wives. 

The first time he told me he was going to buy me a present for staying under budget I was so thrilled it made me really proud of what I had accomplished and also really made me take an additional look at how I was spending and encouraged me to spend even less next time

I have a ton more ways to specifically cut down your grocery budget. But those will have to be for another post!

What ways have you found to save on your grocery budget?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Paleo Stuffed Peppers


Ingredients:

2.5 lbs ground beef
4 bay leaves
28 oz fire roasted tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 pinch nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 onion
6 carrots
5 celery stalks
olive oil
6 bell peppers

Chop up onion, carrots, and celery and fry in olive oil. Add meat and spices. Brown beef. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste. Preheat the oven to 350.

Then cut the bell peppers in half and scoop out the white ribs of the pepper and the seeds. I like the way the stem looks. But you can also cut it out if you want :-)


Place bell peppers in baking dish. Fill the bell peppers with the meat sauce.

Sprinkle the top of the bell peppers with cheese or daiya cheese (coconut based).

Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes.  Toss salad with dressing. Serve on plate with bell pepper and salad. Yumm!


Baby approved!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

You saved how much buying used?

Saved: $688.87


I know I've been exhorting the value of buying at Goodwill.

Today I'm going to show just how much and what you can find at your local Goodwill. 

We bought the following:
  • CDs: The Great Courses by the Teaching Company 
    • The Early Middle Ages (Part 1 + 2)- $114
    • From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity (Part 1 + 2)- $48
    • Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal- $30
    • Francis of Assisi- $26
  • Bible Trivia Game- $10



  • 4 purses- $ 15 x 4= 60
  • Navy Blue Belt- $5

  • Old Navy Men's Jeans- $27

  • Boy's Shirts: OshKosh- red, white and green plaid collared long sleeved shirt-$15, Route 66- yellow and grey plaid long sleeved collared shirt- $11, Old Navy- green and white horozontal stripped short sleeved polo shirt-$14, Gymboree- Red and white stripe oxford shirt-$30

  • Women's Shirts: Christopher & Banks- Teal with silver sequins around the neckline- $30, Sonoma life + style aubergine with embroydery around the neck long sleeved- $30, GH Bass and Co- navy blue embroydered shirt-$30, Aeropostale undershirt- olive green wuth lace around the neck and straps-$20, Christopher & Banks- teal blue short sleved with tan beeding aound the neck-$30

  • Women's sweaters- Dana Buckman- mauve sweater with designs around neck- $50, Christopher & Banks- navy sweater 3/4 sleeved lightweight-$50, Apostrophe- black sweater poncho style with 4 buttons down- $38, Croft & Barrow short sleeved summer weight sweater-$36.

The total cost at Goodwill: $15.13
Total cost retail: $704

That is a 98% Savings!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Arbonne

What was I looking for?

A gluten free product line

When we were first diagnosed with celiac disease I started looking for cosmetic products that were not only individually gluten free but where the entire line was gluten free. The problem I had over an over again was that some of the products in the line of skin care would be gluten free but others were not which led me and my family to have reactions from cross contamination to all products. Our doctor advised us that even one exposure a month was enough to keep us from healing the celiac disease.

Free of harsh chemicals

Additionally during this time period I kept reading articles about studies that were being done on side effects of parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, benzene, and phosphates. I remember during this time a friend said she tossed out all their children's bath products because literally she felt like she was bathing her kids in carcinogens.

Reasonable cost

I personally couldn't find products that did not contain these ingredients and were at a reasonable price.

How I found Arbonne

I was offered the opportunity to review Arbonne's line of Anti-aging skin care. I jumped at the opportunity because I literally had at this point been looking for exactly what Arbonne offers for 3 years. 

Their products are formulated without:
  • animal products or by-products
  • parabens
  • formaldehyde-donating preservatives
  • phthalates
  • formaldehyde
  • alkylphenols
  • benzene
  • triethanolamine
  • monoethanolamine
  • phosphates
  • polyethylene glycol
  • petrolatum
  • bisphenol-A
  • gluten
  • synthetic dyes
  • triclosan
  • hydroquinone
  • artificial colors
  • artificial sweeteners
  • artificial flavors
  • cholesterol
  • trans fats

My review of Arbonne's RE9 Advanced skincare line


Aside from gluten free and safe products I was also looking for something that was effective but did not:
  • puff up my skin to decrease lines and leave it deflated the next day
  • leave my skin feeling sticky
  • trade fine lines or wrinkles for acne and black heads
  • effective at reducing fine lines and wrinkles
When I first opened the sample kit I was so impressed by the look and feel of the packaging. It was very well put together and thought out. The instructions and order of the skin care products was easy to use.

I was also impressed by the clinical findings listed on the packaging:
  • After 24 hours
    • 83% of women reported improvement in skin firmness
  • After just 4 weeks
    • 92% of women reported reduction in the appearance of wrinkles
    • 96% reported reduction in the appearance of fine lines
    • 100% reported improvement in skin texture and smoothness
    • 100% reported improvement in skin moisturization
The sample kit I received included their RE9 Advanced, antiaging skincare line.

  • Smoothing Facial Cleanser
  • Regenerating Toner
  • Intensive Renewal Serum
  • Corrective Eye Creme
  • Restorative Day Cream with Broad Specturm SPF 20 Sunscreen
  • Extra Moisture Restorative Day Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen
  • Night Repair Creme

Day 1

Step 1.

The first thing I noticed about the Smoothing Facial Cleanser was how incredibly good it smelled. Almost like oranges? It was soothing and relaxing. I felt pampered. And this was really the first time in several years that I had felt that way. My skin felt noticeably tighter. 

I literally called to my husband saying how much I loved the system after using this first product! And then did the same after each step. He found me pretty hilarious :-)

Step 2.

Following the instructions on the package next I applied the Regenerating Toner. I found that this made an immediate difference in the blackheads on my nose. 

Step 3. 

The Intensive Renewal Serum made my skin feel more hydrated and rosy and has ingredients that are clinically proven to hold in moisture and firm the skin. I was amazed at how little I needed to apply to feel coverage over my entire face.

Step 4.

The Corrective Eye Creme felt smooth and luxurious and helps reduce lines, puffiness, and dark circles. Again, I was amazed at how little of this creme I needed to apply. Literally it was a drop smaller then a pencil eraser for both eyes.

Step 5. 

This first day I was using it at night so I applied the Night Repair Creme. Prior to being introduced to Arbonne I had used so many night cremes and they always left my face sticky to the point, with the latest creme, that it would literally stick to my pillow. I cannot stand feeling the weight of products on my face! But this one was excellent because it made my skin feel smooth and hydrated without feeling residue. 

Day 2

I noticed when I woke up how much smoother and more even my complexion appeared. I again applied the system this time using the Restorative Day Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen. I decided I wanted to really give the system a run for its money and put on a full coverage foundation and full face of makeup. Normally anytime I wear foundation I have horrible blackheads and pimples by the next day. 

What shocked me was the night of the second day after applying the toner I LITERALLY had a long standing blackhead that was on my cheek pop out on its own! I had been working on getting that pore unclogged for what seems like years! Instead it just popped out on its own after a day of wearing a full face of makeup. Now this really shocked and excited me!

Day 3

By the end of day three I was really sold on how wonderful the product line was. My skin had never looked or felt better. I actually found that the red area about the size of a golf ball on my left cheek was gone. I've had it since I was pregnant with my first baby and had never thought it would go away. I loved how wonderful my skin looked and felt and most importantly it was so nice to take those 5 minutes twice a day and do something for myself. 

Day 4

Day four was when I ran out of the facial cleanser and toner. I still had a good amount of the other products left! This really surprised me because I didn't expect to see such a difference in my skin over such a short period of time. Additionally, I didn't expect the .1 oz samples to last for 3 days of twice a day applications. It was so nice to get such a wonderful product that lasted so long!

I just want to mention that my wonderful husband indulged me and allowed me to try the products 1 time on his face! It was shocking how much younger and healthier his skin immediately looked. As he said "You can really see the results when someone has never done anything with their skin other than use soap and water." So funny!

Extensive Product Line

I really love that Arbonne carries such an extensive product line. 

Their skincare line includes: anti-aging products like the RE9 Advanced system, everyday products like FC5, a line for those with sensitive skin "Calm", and an acne fighting line of products Arbonne Clear Advantage. They even have a baby skin care product line.

The makeup line contains foundations that range from the lightest skin tones to the darkest. 

Its so wonderful to see a company in which you can literally do one stop shopping for so many health and beauty needs!

Cost

I knew I really wanted to use the system after having tried it but was concerned about the cost of the items. This was when I found out the great deals when you are a Preferred Client or a Consultant with Arbonne.

  • Preferred Customer
    • Register for $20
    • 20% off retail
    • Enroll in the Arbonne Special Delivery Benefits allowing you to receive Virtual Voucher Rewards  
    • Preferred Client Specials and Incentives
    • Complimentary product when ordering $150 in product during start month
    • Preferred Advantage Program allows you to receive rewards for items you buy.
  • Independent Consultant
    • Start a Business for $79
    • 35% off retail
    • Eligible for Independent Consultant Specials and Incentives
    • Earn commissions for introducing Arbonne products to others 
    • Complimentary product when qualified with $150 in orders during your start month.
    • Jewelry, trips and more as recognition for your success.
    • Vice Presidents Qualify for Mercedes Benz-Cash Bonus Program
Literally these two programs have such amazing rewards that you are able to buy specially selected products worth 125 retail for 25.

Taking what I now knew about the savings provided by Arbonne's Preferred Customer (PC) and Independent Consultant (IC) Programs I compared their prices to two other brands that I had used prior to being gluten free: Lancome and Clinique. 

Mascara:
  • Arbonne- PC-$28.80, IC-$23.40
  • Clinique- $16.50
  • Lancome- $27-40
Lipstick:
  • Arbonne- PC-$20, IC-$16.25
  • Clinique- $16
  • Lancome- $22-30
Cleanser:
  • Arbonne: PC-$22.4, IC-$18.2
  • Clinique- $20
  • Lancome- $32

Night Creme:
  • Arbonne: PC-$35.2, IC-$28.6
  • Clinique- $53.50
  • Lancome- $51-192
*The prices given for Arbonne only include the 20% and 35% off not maximizing the rewards programs or other offers.

Why I became an Arbonne Independent Consultant 

At first I honestly was only going to join as an Independent Consultant for the 35% discount and loads of freebies that are offered. :-) What I loved was that the minimum to remain a consultant was only $1,200 in volume FOR THE YEAR! And if you didn't reach that volume you were able to become a preferred customer with no consequences! When we looked at our budgeting software we were already spending very close to the required volume on products that Arbonne offers. I loved the idea of being able to buy skincare, makeup and nutritional products without having to worry about the ingredients!

Why build a business

While I was sharing how much I loved the products with friends and family so many were interested that I felt like there is a real need for these products in the community.
Here is why I decided to build a business. 
  • Compensation plan makes sense, is generous, and promotes sustainable success 
  • I love giving makeovers!
  • Professional presentation materials provided
  • Guidance and support by a team
  • System for success well laid out
  • Arbonne University provides free training
  • Extensive product information training series for consultants
  • Bi-weekly  and weekly training calls
I joined less than a week ago. My Sponsor has been in touch probably 6 or 7 times. The Area Manager has been in touch several times with words of wisdom, guidance, and encouragement. And when I had a questions about long distance presentations the Area Manager passed me directly to the Regional Vice President. The Regional Vice President immediately responded to my question by setting up a meeting time that worked for my family!

FTC Disclosure: I may receive monetary compensation or other remuneration for my testimonials, recommendations, or links to products on this blog. However, I have numerous options to chose from and only endorse items that I personally use. FDA: The information on this blog is not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. 



Friday, January 23, 2015

FLASH SALE!!

I love it when they do this!

The sale is 25% off EVERYTHING in the Lilla Rose store!

Its such a great time to try a Flexi if you've always been curious what people are raving about. If you are already loving the product line its a great time to stock up!