Paleo Kids

DSC_0047So we plunged headlong into eating Paleo that Monday.  Surprisingly, for myself and Chris, it was not too difficult a transition.  We didn’t have any grains or dairy around to tempt us; we just ate what we had at home.  Plus, I had drawn up the detailed meal plan for the week which pretty much mapped out everything we would be eating and when we would be eating it.  Well, this is going better than I envisioned, I thought to myself.

Enter the children.  Children who have been used to bowls of cereal with milk and peanut butter toast for breakfast.  Children who voraciously ate string cheese and crackers and pretzels and popcorn for snacks.  Children whose favorite dinners involved fluffy pancakes or creamy macaroni and cheese.  Yes, the transition for these children was not going to be easy.

The kids ate the eggs I made for breakfast and snacked on fruit and veggies throughout the morning.  There was no shortage of questions asking when will we be able to eat crackers again and what’s wrong with cereal anyway and seriously can we just have some cheese, Mom?  It was a little discouraging, but I had to remind myself that this was a big change for them and that it would take time.

Also, I had to immediately google “helping kids transition to paleo” as everyone knows that Google has the answers to everything.  If that didn’t work, we were all going to run outside to the backyard and jump on the trampoline while I figured out what in the world we were going to do next.  Thankfully, Google pulled through.  With articles like this one on Paleo Leap and this one by Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo, I quickly learned that it was advised NOT to take it all away at once but rather ease them into it a little at a time.  Oops.  I had already packed up all the non-Paleo food and given it away.  No, the little minions reminded me.  There’s still a bunch of string cheese from Costco in the fridge.  Well then, it was string cheeses all around and everyone looked a little relieved and dare I say it, happy.

Another helpful suggestion was to try to make their favorite foods, only Paleo-style.  Apparently there are recipes for Paleo chicken nuggets and Paleo pancakes and Paleo waffles and Paleo crackers and pretty much anything your child could ever want.  I immediately made a Pinterest board for all the recipes that sounded like my kids might actually eat them.  I decided to work on finding a good Paleo pancake recipe first.  We tried a few different recipes throughout the week, none of which were favorably received.  Finally, I tried Sarah Fragoso’s Paleo Pal Pancakes.  Although Gabi proclaimed them “still not as good as the ones you used to make”, all the kids enthusiastically ate theirs and asked for seconds.  That’s a win in my book.

And speaking of books, I found that recipe by googling “books about Paleo for kids” and discovering that Sarah Fragoso had written a children’s book about Paleo a few years ago called Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship.  A quick check at our local library later that day led to us bringing the book home as well as Sarah’s Paleo family cookbook.  The kids read and re-read the book.  They pored over the recipes in the back and begged to try several of them.  It was a cute way for them to learn a little more about the “whys” of eating Paleo.

Next,  I figured if they were helping me in the kitchen more, they might actually be more inclined to try the food we made.  I promised that there would be lots of knife action, and all the kids clamored to be the first to help.  We made a schedule – Gabi helps me Monday nights, David Tuesdays, Michael Wednesdays, and Hosanna Thursdays.  There is a lot of fervent vegetable chopping and meat sizzling going on around here.  I give them my meal plan but allow them to make some changes if they want (for example, switch out the carrots for green beans or mash the cauliflower instead of roasting it.)  Not only are they learning valuable kitchen skills (hello homeschooling!), but they are eager to try new things.

Each day, I saw a little more of the resistance fade away.  I’ve tried to make special treats too to make this whole thing a little easier.  One favorite is Kitchen Stewardship’s Easy Grain-free Coconut Muffins.  It’s easy to whip up a batch of these to take to Grandma’s or have with some fruit after dinner.  But the family’s favorite Paleo treat so far?  Grain-free chocolate chip cookie bars.  You can find the recipe here on Tasty Yummies.  They are incredibly fluffy, not too sweet, and just perfect for a tasty snack.

The last thing I did to help the kids embrace Paleo a little more was open the kitchen.  In our dining room, I have a long buffet table that holds baskets of bananas, apples, oranges, pears, and tomatoes.  In the cabinets, the kids can find containers full of cashews and almonds, a bag of pumpkin seeds, a bag of raisins, and some beef jerky.  In the fridge, I always have a dozen or so hard-boiled eggs, baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, leftover meat, nitrate-free lunch meat, grapes, and sometimes berries.  I told the kids with great fanfare that they would no longer have to ask me for a snack.  If they were hungry, they could help themselves to any of these foods at any time.  My oldest is especially happy about this change.  She really thinks about the choices she’s making, and just the other day I saw her put a banana back and choose carrot sticks instead while she worked on an art project.

So no more pouting.  We are a Paleo family!

Week One of Our Juice Cleanse

juicyjuice     When Chris and I first decided to make positive, healthy changes to our lifestyle, we knew that we needed to focus on nutrition first before exercise.  Exercise has always been the easier part of the equation for us – eating healthy, vitamin-rich foods and avoiding the crappy, sugar-filled foods have always been a battle for us.  I have heard that the key to a long-lasting, healthy life is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise.  My obstacle was going to be conquering my coffee addiction;  Chris had to face giving up his beloved Pepsi and sugary energy drinks.

 

In yesterday’s post, I talked about our decision to go on a juice cleanse.  We purchased a juicer, loaded up the fridge and counter tops with fruits and vegetables, and planned out how we were going to make this work.  We started on a Saturday so we could get used to it before the busyness of work and homeschooling hit on Monday.  The plan was to drink five to six juices (16 ounces) throughout the day as well as plenty of water in between.  Meanwhile, I would make healthy, balanced meals for the kids as well as offer them juice if they wanted it, too.

 

Day One of the cleanse was interesting.  We happened to score a great deal on an outdoor playhouse from Craigslist, and Chris spent the first day of the cleanse dismantling the playhouse at the previous owners’ house and then rebuilding it in our backyard.  That was a lot of sweat and labor for a diet of just juice.  However, we both made it through the day successfully, giving me hope that I would be able to continue.  The second and third day of the cleanse were not as kind to me.  I felt sick, achy, extremely tired, and cranky.  I worried that I wasn’t doing it right, but after a little reading I realized I was just experiencing the detox effect.  I knew if I could just push through it I would be feeling great soon.  On Day Four, I woke up BEFORE my alarm clock and quite literally jumped out of bed.  I was shocked at the high energy I had all day.  For the rest of the week, I was intoxicated with my energy level and with how I just felt so good.  Chris had the same experiences – getting up earlier in the morning and being cheerful to boot.

 

I did miss coffee terribly that first week.  It was such an ingrained habit that just a whiff of coffee (hello, I live in the land of a Starbucks-on-every-corner) would make me miss it and desire it so much.  After the first few days however, I found that I obviously did not need the caffeine!  Our other struggle that week was attending a barbecue on Friday night.  It was strange and a little awkward to be standing there, sipping our fresh juices, while everyone else indulged in homemade mac’n’cheese, hot dogs, and hamburgers.  I discovered that I didn’t really desire the barbecue food at all.

 

If you’re thinking of starting  a juice cleanse, whether it be for three days or a week or even longer, let me share a few tips with you that I learned our first week.

1.  First, be prepared.  Have the fruits and veggies on hand that you need so you won’t be tempted to give up.  I ended up making a whole lot of juice in the mornings – maybe three or four different varieties – and putting it into tightly sealed mason jars in the fridge.  Chris took four jars to work with him, and then I also had a lot of juice to get me through the day, especially as I was making the kids’ meals.

2.  Secondly, make sure that you use a variety of fruits and vegetables in your juices every day.  It’s important to get different vitamins and other nutrients into your body, as that will be the only nutrition your body gets during the cleanse.

3.  Use more veggies than fruits.  Most of my juices are full of vegetables with a little fruit to sweeten them up.

4.  If you can, start your cleanse on a day when you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything too strenuous.  Give yourself time to relax and and rest throughout the day, but do try to stay busy so you don’t think so much about the fact that you’re not getting to eat anything.

5.  Juicing is amazing because all the vitamins in the juice digest quickly and get into your bloodstream within fifteen minutes of drinking it.  However, it also eliminates all of the fiber.  This is a good thing during a cleanse, as it gives your body a chance to rest and not have to work so hard at digestion.  But it can make you a little “backed-up,” if you know what I mean. 😉  I bought some “Get Regular” tea and used it when I needed a little help.

 

When we got to the end of our first week, I felt better than I have ever felt in my entire life.  I had loads of energy, and my skin had cleared up dramatically.  The best part was that I lost eight pounds!  We were so excited about these new changes in our lives that we decided to continue the juice cleanse, but to switch it up a little.  I’ll let you know how that went in a future post.

Here are two of my favorite juice recipes.  The Big Green one I drink every morning to start off my day, and the Sweet Potato Splash is a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon.

 

Big Green:

1 cup kale, loosely chopped

1 cup spinach

1 cup broccoli

1 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 cucumber

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 lemon

small piece of ginger

 

Sweet Potato Splash

one small sweet potato, peeled

2 large carrots

2 apples

1 spear pineapple

small piece of ginger

 

Enjoy!