How can I eat Paleo/Primal on a budget?

Posted in gfcf diet, primal cooking with tags , , on June 10, 2012 by askthesky

This is the question that everyone I know has been asking me lately.  I get it, you guys. The kind of meat and veg we think is best to eat is more expensive than their conventional counterparts.  I have a family of four (soon to be five!), a part-time job at a non-profit, and my husband is a public school teacher.  We don’t have money coming out of our ears, at all.  But, I’ll begin with the phrase that has become a sort of mantra for me, when it comes to this issue:

If your health, and that of your family, is not important enough to spend your money on, what is?  Food is fuel for your body.  If you put crap (pesticides, additives, preservatives, grains, sugar) in your tank, you will get crap (illness, fatigue, skin conditions, headaches) as your output.  

So, assuming this fact as our guiding principle, let us begin.  I have some practical suggestions to help you, some of which relate directly to saving money, and some indirectly related.

Things you can do asap to make a difference in your wallet:

1.  Invest in a separate deep freezer.  This might not make sense right off the bat, but if you invest some hard-earned savings in a deep freezer, you will be able to buy your meat in bulk- as an example, the grassfed beef I buy from Hedgeapple costs $5.95 per pound.  When I buy the 21-pound box, though, the price per pound drops to about $4.25 per pound.  My other source for grassfed meats, US Wellness, also gives quantity discounts.  You can take full advantage of sales when you have somewhere to store all that meat.

The second advantage to having a deep freezer is that it allows you to be able to create your own “convenience” foods.  We all have busy schedules, at least at some point or another.  If you’ve got a place to put them, it’s easy to make double your dinner for foods that freeze well (meatloaf, meatballs, stews, soups) so that you’ve got something to pull out on a busy evening, rather than stopping somewhere for bun-less burgers or Chipotle.  You can also freeze your homegrown produce when you’ve got a deep freezer, everything from shredded zucchini to tomato sauce.  Save up and invest in a good one.

2.  Join a CSA.  Community Supported Agriculture is the best way to save money on organic produce, but it also accomplishes other awesome things- it forces you to flex your creative muscles in the kitchen (kohlrabi, anyone?), makes it easy to eat in season for your geographical location, and it supports local farmers.  You’ll definitely save money in the long run, but again, you’ll have to plan ahead, as you pay for the whole growing season at once (some big farms offer payment plans, though, and don’t be afraid to ask!  Farmers are such nice people!).  I also get my eggs from a local farmer, and although it’s not a csa setup (yet), it’s a friend of my mother’s who raises the eggs, and since I’ve been such a loyal and high-volume customer, she gives me a price break.  I pay only $2.50 per dozen for foraging, free-range, cage-free eggs.  At Trader Joe’s, which is the next cheapest I’ve found, similar eggs (which have likely sat around on a truck and in a warehouse for a lot longer) cost $4.50 per dozen.

To find a CSA near you, visit Local Harvest.  *See item number 3 for more info on how to make a CSA work for you.

3.  Spend one afternoon (or several evenings) each week doing a big cook-up.  This one is indirect.  Once you’ve got all this lovely produce and meat, you’ve got to process it.  When you let things sit in the fridge, growing ever drier and browner by the second, you’re basically flushing that hard-earned money you spent down the drain.  Don’t do it!  Now, I’m lucky.  I know this.  I have two weekdays off a week, plus Saturdays.  It isn’t difficult (usually) to make time to cook.  But, going to back to our mantra, if you don’t think cooking healthy fuel is a good use of your time, then I’m not sure what is worth your time.  If you turn off the TV, shut the laptop, and just get in the kitchen, you’ll find that your time investment is well-rewarded.

The trick to making a three-hour cooking session work is having a plan, then working your plan.  I’m in the middle of a big cook-up as I’m writing this post.  I started at 12:30, it’s now 3:30.  In that time, I washed and cut four quarts of strawberries, pureed them, and made them into Strawberry Banana muffins (with coconut flour).  The rest of the puree went into the freezer, to be used later.  I also baked four pieces of lemon butter flounder in the oven.  Then, I washed and tore two huge bunches of kale.  Since I had the salad spinner out, I went ahead and washed and tore a head of green leaf lettuce and two bunches of spinach, then stored them wrapped in paper towels inside ziploc bags in the fridge.  Next, I seasoned two pounds of ground pork for italian sausage.  Half of that became patties that I sauteed for tonight’s dinner.  The rest went in to be browned for the kale.  The kale is bubbling away on the stove now, and I’m halfway through cutting up a bag of celery.  Next I’ll move to carrots (these are for lunch prep for the week).  Last, I think I’ll steam some broccoli to go with the fish.  I could have done more in the oven, like roasted some sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, but I already had some in the fridge, so I skipped that.  I hope you see my point, though- you can get SO MUCH DONE in the kitchen in three hours!  Let your kids and significant other help- they’ll be  much more likely to eat things that they helped make.

4.  Stick to this meal-making formula: Protein + Veg + Veg.  The best way to cook paleo, especially at the beginning, is to follow this formula.  When you try to duplicate a lot of old favorites, you usually end up baking too much.  Almond flour, while very nutritious, and certainly delicious, is exorbitantly expensive.   Save the treats for once or twice a month, rather than once or twice a week, and your pocketbook (and waistline) will thank you.  Cook up your main dishes ahead of time (see #3: cook-up, above), and prep your veggies so they’re ready to saute, steam, or roast right when you walk in the door from work.  If you’re a family who always ate dessert before, indulge in some beautiful, in-season fruit with coconut cream instead.  Which brings us to our last tip…

5.  Amazon’s Subscription program.  Just so you know, I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so I’m not making any money by telling you about this program.  I just am a happy user, and want to share.  Now, you can’t get organic produce and grassfed meat here, but you can get coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut flour, maple syrup, Larabars, and tons more.  The trick is, you have to know how much you use those things before you subscribe, but this can be figured out and written down, and then acted on later.  Every little bit you save is worth it!

6.  Break out of your comfort zone.  If you’ve gone to the trouble to buy a pastured, local chicken, why would you ever throw out the giblets?  That package of grassfed beef liver in the case at the farm that’s priced way cheaper than any other cut?  It might as well be solid gold, nutritionally.  Eating offal (organ meat) is the best bang for your buck, again, nutrition-wise.  One really easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet is to grind them together with other meats.  Then, you’re making that pound of ground beef go a little further, and getting all the great benefits the organ meat as well.  My favorite way to do this is with liver and beef, and make meatloaf with the mixture.  My family likes it, and it’s easier on the pocketbook.  Win-win!

I hope these tips help, happy cooking!

 

Yummiest. Burgers. Ever.

Posted in gfcf diet, life in general, primal cooking with tags , on May 29, 2012 by askthesky

No photo, sadly, due to the speed with which my family inhaled them.

SO EASY:

1 pound pastured ground beef (locals, get some here, others, here)

1 pound happy life ground pork

3 TBS Penzey’s Greek seasoning

Mix it all up, form into patties, make a little indentation with your thumb in the center (keeps them from puffing up on the grill), and grill carefully until done.  I can’t say how long, since my grill a’int your grill.  Also, the carefully part is important here- the pork will drip more fat than a regular beef burger, and you don’t want to catch your deck on fire.  Start them on a low flame, get some color going, and then finish them on a sheet of foil placed over the grill rack to reduce flare-ups.

We ate ours sandwiched between romaine hearts “bread” with mayo.  Zander commented, “this is the best meal ever.”  So matter-of-fact, that one.

Enjoy!

Mystery, solved.

Posted in life in general, musings with tags , , on May 18, 2012 by askthesky

So, remember all that stuff about my stomach being so out of whack, and putting my foot down about getting to the bottom of it all?

Yeah.  I got to the bottom of it, all right.  😉

Baby Ask The Sky, due Christmas Day, 2012.  If you’re inclined, please pray/light a candle/chat an incantation/send some good juju our way.  If you’re a long time reader, you know why.  Thanks in advance.

What I’ll be up to tomorrow….

Posted in musings on May 17, 2012 by askthesky

 

Image

Hey guys!  Check out this FREE webinar happening tomorrow morning!  Jenny will walk us through how to safely ferment all kinds of foods, right in your own kitchen!  I’m so excited… I think I’ll make a big plate of sauerkraut to eat while I listen…

Still sick….

Posted in musings on April 21, 2012 by askthesky

Sorry, internets.  I am still battling this bout of ick in my gut.  Downing all the bone broth (although I usually make chicken) and greens I can, and it’s helpful, but I’m still sort of struggling to get through the basic tasks of my day, leaving little time to write here.  Soon, I say, soon, I shall return properly.  In the meantime, Pinterest has changed their policies to make me sleep better at night, so I’m back over there posting some yummy Primal foods and other goodies from time to time.  

MWAH!  

New Developments

Posted in autism, gfcf diet, musings, PDD-NOS, primal cooking with tags , , on April 13, 2012 by askthesky

FAIR WARNING: This post contains highly personal health information.  If you’d not like to read about such things, by all means, back away from this post.

The radio silence around these parts has been due to a knock-down, drag-out fight between me and my intestines. Recently, my son got what seemed to be one of those 24-hour vomiting viruses.  He got sick twice, once in the car (my sweet husband earned a parenting stripe for that incident), and then the next day was bouncing off the walls in his usual way.  Textbook stomach bug.  Despite washing my hands twenty billion times during my son’s illness and subsequent hazmat clean-up, two days later, I woke before dawn with crippling stomach pain.  Now, my stomach woes always tend towards the other end of the body, rather than the vomiting, which (don’t get me wrong) I prefer, and yet, after 36 years of dealing with such issues on a weekly basis, I am so.  tired.  of it.

All that day, I stayed in bed, sleeping a ton and heading to the bathroom in between.  I had to work that evening, and I made it to the service, thankfully I didn’t have a lot of active ‘work’ to do, so I just dragged myself through it.  The next morning, I felt passable.  Not great, but good enough to say “Yeah, great idea” when husband suggested we hit the diner for breakfast.  I had two scrambled eggs, two sausage links, and three slices of tomato.  No coffee, just water.  All that day, I felt mildly off, but I took naps and breaks from cleaning the house, and it was okay.

The next morning was Easter, and when you work at a church, there is no missing Easter Sunday- not that I wanted to, or felt it was warranted, I actually felt a lot better when I got up that morning, on day 3.  We went to service, hunted eggs on the lawn, had all our friends over for lunch, and had a fun trip to the ER to give my son an albuterol treatment for his allergies (he’s fine).  On the way home from the hospital, I felt it.  That familiar acidic rumbling in my lower abdomen, coupled with the feeling of being trapped underwater.  It was coming back, and I was in the car for the next 20 minutes.  Would I make it?

(I did, you can stop worrying.  Thanks, though, you’re sweet.)

I say familiar, because for most of my life, I’ve been feeling this way every few weeks for a few days at a time.  I’ve learned to just power through, but it’s really awful.  I don’t know what happened this time, but something clicked in my head, and as I lay in bed the next day with a high fever, wondering how on earth this could possibly be the same virus my son had almost 5 days prior, I decided I was done with sucking it up.  I was going to get to the bottom of this, once and for all.

Starting around age 10, when I got my period, my stomach woes became a large part of my daily life.  I had (and still have, to some extent) really bad periods- terrible cramping, heavy bleeding, and, every single time it comes around, diarrhea.  This led my GYN in high school to posit that I may have Endometriosis.  Both my mother and older sister had been diagnosed with the condition as well, so it made sense.  A few years later, I would have exploratory surgery, with the intent of diagnosing the condition, and moving forward with treatment.  When they got in there, they found no sign of endometriosis.  Cysts, sure, and fibroids, they were having a nice party in there, but not the spots of tissue growth they had expected to find that would have explained my bowel issues.  I was diagnosed by my regular doctor as having IBS, and I was put on Levsin, which helped nothing.  I stopped taking it about a year later.

Flash forward to after my kids were born- Zander was three years old, and had just been diagnosed with autism.  I am lucky enough to have a dear friend who has dedicated her life to helping kids with autism, and she starts talking to me about dietary interventions.  “I have clients who seem to think it really helped their kids, and then others who swear it did nothing, but you’ve got to try.  As a mother, and not a trained therapist, this is really one of the only things you can do.”  I knew she was right.  Selfishly, I didn’t want to adopt the “autism diet”.  It seemed impossible, but I knew if it would help bring my son back out of his fog, I would do it.  We started the diet the week before Thanksgiving that year.  My son also had been dealing with his own intestinal issues, all very simliar to the ones I had struggled with my whole life.  He also had intense eczema and horrible diaper rash.  I met with some other local moms who were more practiced than I was, and we started cold turkey- we cut out gluten, dairy, soy, preservatives, artificial flavors, and artificial colors.  I realize that recently there’s been a lot of studies published that say dietary interventions don’t work for autism.  I guess for me, they just don’t matter.  For my kid, it was a miracle.  His language came back.  His eye contact came back.  His skin cleared up.  He started singing again.  He was my boy again, but still- he suffered from the bowel problems.  His diaper rash got mildy better, but never went away.

About two weeks into the new way of eating, my daughter and I had a large helping of all of the off-limits foods at a church dinner (I had packed my son’s dinner).  Lasagna, garlic bread, ranch salad dressing, croutons, parmesan cheese.  We were both sick for days and days.  It was like the flu, on crack.  I decided we must also have some sort of issue with these foods, and decided that the “cheating” wasn’t worth it.  My kids were so young when this happened (3 and 4), I just implemented the changes and didn’t look back.

The years passed, and my gut health remained about the same.  Usually, pretty good, and occasionally, really really bad.  I just sort of accepted this as my lot in life and trudged along.

Then, last year, I read The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson.  I talk a lot about how that book changed my life in another post.  Sufficed to say, I was so moved by the arguments laid out in the book, I decided to take my family one step further down the path to total weirdness, and cut out all grains, sugars, beans, and processed foods.  My husband, after about a month, started shedding weight like it was going out of style (and still is).  After 6 months on the new plan, I had lost 6 pounds.  SIX.  I couldn’t believe that was it.  And while my digestive woes had seemed to have calmed down a bit, they were still there, lurking in the background, making their appearance when it was most inconvenient.

Then, the week prior to this week happened.  I got really sick, for almost a whole week.  I ate almost nothing (homemade bone broth, eggs, tea, and one banana).  Then, I stumbled upon this post, by  Peggy of The Primal Parent.  The title caught my eye, as “IBS” was once one of my labels.  Fructose Malabsorption.  Huh.  All the symptoms seemed to mirror what I’ve been struggling with all these years.  Peggy recounts how even after trying a million different tinkers (and i’ve been there, too- GAPS, SCD), she just didn’t feel like she was optimizing her health.  This is exactly how I’ve been feeling about eating Primally!

Yesterday, I decided to give it a go.  I was already eating bone broth, meat, and eggs, now I’d just have to resist temptation with the fruit in the house, and add in the vegetables that are safe- no fructans (onions, garlic, cabbage, and a bunch more), but most things were acceptable to eat on the FM eating plan.

Now, I’m not saying that I have this disorder (yet), but some of the things Peggy wrote in that post really rang true for me, and after 2 days of cutting out fructose and fructans, my intestines seem a whole lot happier than they have been for the past week.  Here’s hoping that during the next few weeks of experimentation, I’ll be able to nail this down, one way or another.

Here’s hoping.

PILE OF CRAFT 2012! Wooot!

Posted in Baltimore love, charm city craft mafia, crafting, crafty reads with tags , , on March 15, 2012 by askthesky
Charm City Craft Mafia is looking for the country’s best and most unique crafters for this year’s PILE OF CRAFT indie craft fair!
Pile of Craft 2012 will be held at 2640 St Paul Street in the lovely Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore.
In it’s 6th year, Pile of Craft will feature over 40 independent artists: stitchers, knitters, printers, painters, sculptors, jewelers, weavers, photographers, makers and doers.
Booth spaces are 8′ by about 5′ and it’s an indoor show – which means rain or shine – Your crafts will look great and stay safe!
Food trucks, coffee, music, good people and lots of balloons.

(Want to see what the fuss is about? CLICK HERE for photos of past shows).
Think you’ve got a fun & funky product that would fit our aesthetic?

APPLY NOW!!!!!