We're just past the two-thirds mark in our month long Primal Challenge, and we're still hanging with it. This second 12 days has been a bit more hectic than the first ten, and as a result we've been much less conscientious about planning out our meals and eating our food in the right ratios. But what's interesting to me, though, is that even though we've been somewhat lax in maintaining the proper ratio for food (too much fruit and meat, not enough veggies and nuts) I still feel a magnitude better than I did when I was eating a normal "healthy" diet. I haven't had that typical 3pm "crash" wherein my body demands that I take a nap, even though I'm getting up around 6am every day to take care of Lucy. So we have definitely noticed the increase in energy, which is definitely welcomed.
I have also noticed that the rapid weight loss that we experienced the first ten days has tapered off. I'm certain that a lot of that can also be attributed to the fact that we stopped planning our meals or eating our food in the proper ratios; It's just super easy during the busy times of life to grab a banana or an apple for a quick lunch, and while that's certainly Paleo and fits into the diet, it still contains a lot of sugars that the body has to work off rather than focusing on working off the fat. I'm still down about the same ten pounds as I was on day 10, though, so I'm not complaining.
So this week, while the certainly not any less busy or hectic, we are definitely planning to think through our meals a little better so we can get these numbers moving back in the right direction. Speaking of meal planning, I wanted to share a couple of the meals that we've discovered over the past three weeks that have made this adjustment a lot easier to adopt.
Zucchini pasta - This is our go-to when we need a pretty quick lunch or a substitute dinner when we don't feel like cooking something more ambitious. It's super easy and doesn't even really involve anything you could call a "recipe." Just take a couple of zucchinis and use a vegetable peeler to shred them directly into a skillet lengthwise, add a little olive oil, and saute them up. In another skillet, brown a little ground beef and add some sugar-free pasta sauce. We love Trader Joe's Puttanesca sauce and always have a couple of jars of it on hand for meals like this. Once the zucchini has softened up a bit, add the meat and sauce and you're done!
Creamy Macadamia Shrimp - If you take the Primal Challege or dabble at all in Paleo, you're sure to stumble upon Mark's Daily Apple, which is a reference site for all things Paleo. We found this recipe there and it was one of the first dinner's we prepared when we started out on the challenge. You can read the full recipe there, but the short version for this easy dish is to finely chop up a shallot and a half a cup of macadamia nuts. Saute a pound of shrimp for a minute or so before adding the shallot/nut mixture, followed by a bit of coconut milk. The shallot/nut mixture coats the shrimp and is amazing.
Breakfast Egg Muffins - Breakfast on the Paleo diet -- especially on the version that avoids dairy -- means one thing: Eggs eggs eggs. Around the middle of week two I had pretty much had my fill of omellette's and was looking for something a little different to have for breakfast. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of other options outside of eggs, unless you're just going to forget the whole "breakfast" idea and eat non-breakfasty foods instead. We found this recipe for mini "quiche" muffins that work great, and they also reheat in the toaster oven really well. January cooked up a couple dozen of these at the beginning of the week and made a great quick breakfast, or even midmorning snack. Although we didn't use this recipe specifically, Mark's Daily Apple has a pretty similar recipe that's super cutomizable so you can add whatever you want. We put shredded zucchini in our first batch, and are planning to add locally-produced sausage to this week's batch.
Lemon Bars - Team Soell has a definite sweet tooth, so we found pretty early on that we needed to find a way to satiate that desire for dessert with something that wouldn't throw us off track. January found this recipe for Paleo lemon bars that are a pretty good dessert. Not nearly as sweet as traditional lemon bars, they have quite a bit of tartness to them, but they definitely get the job done.
As you can see, we've been doing a pretty good job of cooking at home and not eating out if we can avoid it. This week, though, is going to present a bit of a challenge. I'm heading off to Washington, D.C. on business for the first half of this week, so I'll get about three days worth of trying to eat Paleo while eating all of my meals out. I already have a few restaurants in mind where I know this will be super easy, but I'll need to be proactive in hunting down some more restaurants if I'm going to be successful.
With only ten days left in the Primal Challenge, we're still doing pretty well. I'm optimistic that this change in diet is something that we will want to incorporate into our daily lives even beyond August, but we'll see what the rest of the month holds for us before we cross that bridge.