Whole30 : Day 1 done and dusted.

Day 1 of my whole30 is drawing to a close and it was a success. I actually managed to take some Cadbury picnic chocolate and …..THROW IT IN THE BIN!

Gasp..shock…horror….

Yes, I am still reeling by this miraculous display of will power. But is it really will power? Or is it just that my internal switch has flicked over and I realise that it is time for change. Before my luck runs out and I end up with some serious health complications. You know, the ones that are not cured by a change in diet.

So breakfast was quick and not very well thought out as I overslept after a dodgy night up with the baby. I fried up a couple of eggs in ccount oil and ate them with 50 grams of smoked salmon and some sliced fresh Roma tomatoes . Considering the haphazard way it was thrown together, it hit the spot and got me through until lunchtime easily.

May I just say…coconut oil….I AM a fan….love that stuff, use it to cook, moisturise and even drink in my green tea. It’s liquid awesome in a jar. loving earth has a really funky brown jar with a great label too. Not that it means anything to the oil but I am a very visual person. Just look at all the perfumes I own but never use because I only bought them for the bottle…..Hello Marc Jacobs, I am speaking to you!

Lunch was a frozen premade paleo casserole that I had the foresight to prepare a couple of weeks ago. It was a deconstructed cabbage roll casserole. Basically all the ingredients for paleo cabbage rolls but with the cabbage shredded and tossed through to save time with the rolling and stuffing.

Dinner was my take on this thing called a burger bowl. Basically it is all the fixings of a homemade burger with the lot but without the bun or the cheese. The flavours were all there and it was immensely satisfying. I can’t wait to have it for lunch again tomorrow.

So here is a breakdown of the meal.

The meat was grass fed beef mince. Safeway have a new brand called grasslands. Coles also have their Cleavers grass fed organic meat range. I added only sea salt, cracked pepper and garlic. Formed into patties and pan fried in a little bit of coconut oil in my stone wear pan. I don’t need oil in those pans but I like the flavour so I add a little.

After the meat was cooked I sautéed the mushrooms in the beef juice and then removed them. I rinsed the pan and melted a little more coconut oil to fry the eggs sunny side up. I like to make sure the whites are cooked but the yolks are runny so they become like a sauce over the meat.

The rest was simple…layer cos lettuce, tomato, onion, beet root, pineapple, grilled capsicum on a plate. Top with the burger, mushrooms and egg and enjoy.

There are a few things to be aware of to stay whole30 compliant.

Pineapple needs to be natural, not slices in syrup. Beet root in cans has added sugar too however Coles have some cooked baby beets in a cryopack where the salads are kept. They are sooo convenient but I will warn you…if you have only ever eaten beet root out of a tin, the flavour will take some getting used to. So much of the flavour we expect comes from the added sugar…not the beets!

Husband ate this too with no mention of it needing the bread so that is a plus!

Now I should try for some sleep before the baby starts the nightly rotation.

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Welcome to India.

This week I ended up making 2 different 12wbt recipes that were Indian inspired. The butter chicken from my previous blog post and then the Lamb Biriyani. It was lovely and mildly spicy. The yoghurt dulled down the spice enough that I even convinced my five year old to have a bowl and she quite enjoyed it.

Husband enjoyed the 2 different Indian nights. He always was a fan of Indian takeaway from a particular Indian restaurant here in town. I always felt hesitant to eat food from there as I felt the place was a little bit run down. However, husband won the “what’s for dinner” war once or twice over the last ten years and we did eat it without incident.

Recently, I happened upon an article in the local rag about none other than the same restaurant being fined for having rat droppings in the kitchen and roaches in the buckets of spices.

Queue stomach rolling…..and gag reflex in 3….2….1…..

We haven’t had Indian takeaway since. Best deterrent EVER!

I am learning as I get older and wiser that even the tastiest takeaways can be made much tastier when prepared by your own (washed) hands in your own rat dropping free kitchen. There is also the benefit of no sneaky ingredients and calories.

If you have not tried Indian food before, don’t let the spices intimidate you. Get friendly with the spice aisle in the supermarket. Not only will using spices open up a whole new world of flavour but it will also introduce a whole host of health benefits along with it. Just take some time to google turmeric and curcumin and you will see what I mean.

My new obsession is turmeric. I have my husband and father ( both having or have had cancer) taking daily turmeric supplements for their anti-inflammatory cancer fighting magic.

Another spice that I am getting into is cumin and also paprika. Also used a lot in Indian cuisine. I literally have just about every spice in my pantry and I am now making it my mission to experiment with each of them.

So the lamb Biriyani is not paleo…hence the rice, peas and yoghurt. However, it can easily be converted into a yummy lamb and vegetable korma simply by omitting the non paleo ingredients and adding lots of extra veggies .

There are about 3 weeks left till the kick off of the 12wbt round and I have decided to go full whole30 for the next 4 weeks. So the first week of 12wbt will coincide with my last week of whole30.

My hope is that it will give me a great kick start to the next 12 weeks and help settle the uncomfortable symptoms I have been having lately. Bloating, fatigue, skin breakouts etc.

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Indian butter chicken 12wbt style….O.M.Ghee!

If you are anything like me, after having a baby the kitchen tends to be the central point of the entire house. I would like to bullshit you into thinking that it is for the purpose of cooking and creating wonderful healthy treats for the family. It’s not. It’s soul purpose is to make bottles, wash bottles, sterilise bottles, wash, rinse, repeat.

The second most popular reason for me to use the kitchen was to discard the take away food packaging as this was pretty much what I was surviving on for the first few months. Husband was a typical enabler and he could get away with it. He lost so much weight when he had cancer that it was his primary mission in life to pack some back on just in case he had to have chemotherapy. We did not want him to start chemo while he was so underweight. If he had of gotten too sick to eat, which is pretty much a given so I am told, he would have had nothing in reserve and it would have ended up with more hospital stays which neither of us wanted.

Luckily, no chemo, the weight came back on and then some! Now I am back in the kitchen but this time it is for all the right reasons. I am glad that the kitchen is a place I feel relatively comfortable in but I can understand how some first time 12wbt’ers and kitchen virgins might break out in a cold sweat when they realise how much cooking is involved in the program.

Fear not friends, it really is quite simple as long as you follow the recipe, stay calm and have some patience. And if you mess up a recipe, have some ore frozen meals in the freezer so you don’t have to go for the dominos menu. Trust me, we all will mess up on occasion , it’s a right of passage.

There are a few kitchen staples I can’t live without these days. My stone wear pans are amazing…..the tv shopping ads are totally on the money, you don’t need to use oil if you don’t want to, nothing sticks and they never let you down…..ever! Don’t be fooled into paying big dollars for the stonedine brand either. They are obscenely expensive and no better than the stone pans you can buy at big w.

Get a slow cooker. Now! Immediately go out and buy one if you don’t already have one. They are awesome, especially in winter. Warm stews and curry that fill the house with heir awesome deliciousness are a must at this time of year. Mine is a cheapy from k-mart. I think I paid $25 for it. It has never let me down and I have out it to work for three years now. You would be amazing how many healthy casseroles you can whip up in those baby’s!

Obviously kitchen scales are a must for measuring portions. Do yourself a favour and get digital ones. It Is just the lazy side of me coming out I guess but they are so much easier. And my new love is my mandolin silver that I bought from big w for $10. It makes short work of slicing, especially julienne and getting even slices which is something I suck at. Just pay attention when slicing, get too low down and off comes the tip of your finger….ouchie, speaking from personal experience.

Tonight I made I can’t believe it’s not butter chicken from the 12wbt recipes. I love this one, it tastes authentic enough and it doesn’t make me feel queasy from all the butter like the original version. Here are my tips for success with this recipe….

Be patient, no good can come of rushing Indian food. It needs time for the flavours to cook into the meat. When the recipe says five minutes for the onion, really give it five minutes and at least 25 minutes to simmer all together. Your taste buds will thank you.

Tip number 2: if you have some calories to spare, try using a small amount of ghee to sautéed your onion instead of oil. Ghee is an Indian food staple ingredient and is clarified butter. Basically butter that has all of the milk solids refined out. It is usually well tolerated by lactose intolerant people, myself included and adds a nice, rich authentic flavour. Make sure you count the calories though! It is used a lot in paleo cooking so I felt totally righteous when using it tonight 😉

Tip number 3: if you are lactose intolerant, use Paul’s Zymill lactose free light cream. Tastes amazingly creamy and won’t upset your tummy.

Seriously consider trying this recipe if you haven’t yet, it is so comforting and yummy in the cooler weather. If you have extra calories to spare or are making a larger serve for someone, pure basmati rice is a great partner to this curry, as pictured.

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Call me crazy….12wbt here I come.

So I blog a lot about the things that randomly pass through my sieve like brain but I tend not to let on too much with personal information. It’s not that I am afraid of someone stealing my identity or anything. Actually some days I would gladly accept an identity swap as long as the person I swapped with was getting about 12 hours of sleep a night. It is more just because I don’t think I am really that interesting.

Buuuut…for the purpose of this blog I am going to have to disclose a bit of info. My husband and I own our own business. We work together every day in our jewellery manufacturing business. Things are pretty hectic at our shop as there aren’t too many actual qualified jewellers out there anymore , the ones of us that are left are far outnumbered by the huge influx of “supermarket jewellery stores” by a ratio of about a million to one and he also happens to be damn good at what he does.

We love our shop but I am a grass is greener kind of gal and I am always in need of something big to plan for and organise. After husband got sick last year and after I had the baby the only “big” thing I could plan for was brushing my teeth every day…if I was lucky. Even though it did get kind of scary for a while there, we bounced back and before long it was business as usual and what do you know, I got bored and wanted something to plan for once again.

We decided to open a second store, this one a little bit different. A beautiful little retail boutique in the picturesque town of Daylesford. All of a sudden I was thrust back into list writing, organising heaven. Let me tell you opening a business is ALOT of work even without already having a business to run and two small children demanding most of your attention. It is coming along nicely and with about another month of sleepless nights we should be ready to open.

The new store is about an hours drive from home so I will commuting every day which brought about a roadblock….we only had one car. I conquered that problem, I bought a new car. A little zippy Ford Fiesta just for me. It is small, efficient and quick and most of all insanely easy to park.

Roadblock number two reared its ugly head the other day. I realised that my wardrobe might need a revamp as I have been living in two year old yoga pants and underwear with no elastic left in them. Then I realised I had out a lot of weight back on with the last baby. And I mean a lot! I am now exactly 30 kilos heavier than when I first met my husband. Can you say Mortified?

I absolutely refuse to buy size 18 clothes. I just won’t do it, for me it feels like admitting defeat and telling myself it is ok to have let things go so far. So I took action and signed up for the June round of Michelle bridges 12wbt.

It will be a challenge and the whole organise and diarise thing is going to apply to me big time with the baby and soon to be school goer as well as the businesses. I am going to do this round gluten free and avoid other grains as much as is practical. I guess I am slightly paleofying it a bit.

No, I am not a super mum to juggle so many things, I am just a glutton for punishment hahaha. Truth is any body with children knows what it is like to have to juggle work and home and kids and it leaves very little time for oneself . I had good results with 12wbt in the past and the food was Delish! But I also loved the forums and community feel. It is so nice to have other adults to talk to about things other than baby poo and work.

All this week I am making 12wbt recipes for dinner but I am doubling the serves and freezing the left overs. This way I hope to build up a little stockpile of frozen meals for those days when I am utterly exhausted of which I predict there will be many.

Last night was my fave , chicken laksa. I always save a few calories up so I can add vermicelli that way it is nice and filling. I also refused to pay Safeway $4 for a wilted tiny bunch of broccolini so I used normal broccoli which was just as good if not better. Also, added red chilli flakes for a bit of extra bite. YUM!

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The Elephant in the Room

I think before I speak any more about my ascent to the enlightenment that is ” primal living” I first need to address what is, at least for me, the huge chocolate eating elephant hulking in the corner of the room. And no people, I am not talking about myself in the third person, I may be unhappy about the amount of weight I am currently carting around with me but I have not yet begun referring to myself as a giant hulking pachyderm.

I am of course referring to the irony of the fact that the paleo lifestyle seems to be the only way of eating that agrees with me but also is the one “diet” that I have teased mercilessly on more than one occasion in previous blogs from days of yore.

Is it conspiracy that I have enjoyed many a laugh at the expense of my sticks and leaf munching counterparts only to become one myself? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not but I do just want to clarify one little detail here and now…..

In every organisation , religion or group there will always be the people who choose to follow the general “plan” whilst keeping their family and friend life balanced and then there will always be the ” extremists ”

Even the paleo movement has extremists. You will know these as the weird guys running barefoot over broken glass and used syringes through Central Park because cavemen didn’t wear shoes. This is no joke, there are literally people that do this. Someone needs to explain to them that cavemen didn’t have hepatitis or numerous other manky diseases either but keep running barefoot through New York and you soon will!

These guys eat their meat raw, including offal. Just take a moment to let that one sink in………..yeah….that’s it….gagging yet? They only wear clothes made from natural fibres that would have been around back in the palaeolithic era and refuse to shampoo their hair yadda yadda yadda….you get the picture! Funnily enough they seem able to justify living in apartments with running hot water and electricity but that’s the thing with extremists, they are able to twist and turn anything to fit in with whatever agenda they are pushing at that time.

The point I am meandering towards here is that I may eat paleo but I am not going to actually try to “become” paleo. I swear on my life and the life of my children that I will never ever wear a pair of those creepy toe shoe, foot glove things and that I will always make sure my meat is cooked to food handling and safety requirements….except my steak, I leave that stuff bleeding!

I will also indulge from time to time in some rice or rice noodles because as you know I have previously lived for pasta and a life completely devoid of noddles of any kind if simply not a life at all. The sentence right there would be enough to send a devout paleo nut into conniptions. Besides, I am almost certain that wheat is the root of all evil and the cause of all my problems so a little bit of rice as a substitute is fine by me.

Most importantly , I will still make fun of paleo. And myself. And anything else that stands still for long enough. It’s who I am, it’s what I do and if you can’t have a good laugh at yourself from time to time then you aren’t really living.

A sight for sore eyes

So coincidence or not, it has been exactly a year since I last blogged. That is almost like a lifetime when it comes to the blogging community. In fact I am sure that some of my followers will struggle to recognise me when I sneakily show up in their email list with a new entry. After all, they subscribed a year ago to receive my updates and then…..nothing.

A year! 12 months, 52 weeks and what a ride. I don’t really know where to start so I am going to sum it up in a few sentences and then elaborate later.

I had a baby boy, my husband got cancer, my husband beat cancer, I got fat….and unhealthy….again!

Around the time of my last blog my husband started getting sick. It happened suddenly and ran alongside my pregnancy thus plunging us into this spiral of illness and doctors and surgeries and appointments and I do apologise but seriously, blogging was the very last thing on my mind.

So long story short and I will tell you the full version another day when I have more time, everything culminated in ” the week from hell” in September when my husband was hospitalised on a Friday, diagnosed and rushed to surgery on the Monday and I had a c-section without him and delivered our second baby, in a different hospital over the other side of town four days later.

There is a funny thing about cancer, or should I say the weird thing about cancer because let’s face it, there is nothing funny about it. I have seen it time and time again in people I know. I am not entirely sure what it is but it is that thing that makes a wife keep smoking even after she loses her husband to lung cancer. It’s that thing that makes you go out and have a scotch and coke after you find out someone you love has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

I guess what I am saying is that you would think that a loved one getting cancer would be this magical wake up call that forces you to immediately give up all of your unhealthy vices and convert to a religion of super foods, antioxidants and early morning workouts. Well dear friends, I can now tell you from personal experience that it does not work like that.

My husband got bowel cancer. At the ripe old age of 37, after a lifetime of not smoking, rarely drinking and a fair amount of healthy activity, he got bowel cancer anyway. Was it the weet-bix
every morning? Too much coffee? Not enough coffee? One too many Big Macs? Trans fats, processed food, environmental factors, genetics? Who knows and trust me, if you think about it for more than a few seconds at a time you risk becoming a super-paranoid hypochondriac cancer-phobic hermit who never leaves the house for fear of breathing in carcinogenic pollutants in your own front yard. It really can do your head in that much!

For the first 12 weeks after his surgery and my c-section, we both hobbled around the house like an arthritic old couple, groaning and moaning at every slight movement. We both ate what we wanted and did no exercise. Exercise was forbidden for the time being so that was that. After husband having lost 30 kilos of body weight including most of his muscle mass, he looked like, well….for lack of a better description…a cancer patient. He was hollow and sickly thin and sunken. So he pretty much got a ” get out of jail free card” when it came to eating what he wanted. As for me? My post baby hormones were in full swing, I ate anything and everything in sight. My mission was to get husband to put some weight back on but in the process I did too, only I really couldn’t afford to!

Six months later, we are back to the old drawing board. Both of us overweight …..again. Both of us feeling old and unhealthy……again. Not even the big C could deter us from that Big Mac, that block of chocolate, that bowl of pasta, that packet of tim tams! Can I just take a moment to say ” WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US!” It’s like every time we reached for something unhealthy we would have the same dialogue.

“Oh we really shouldn’t”
” Probably not, but you only live once right! I had cancer so I am going have that tim tam if I want to!”
” I had a baby so I deserve that massive piece of chocolate cherry mud cake!”

And now, we are six months post cancer and post baby and we feel worse than ever. I am not even going to focus on the weight part of it but more just the overall feeling of being unwell. Joints ache, nerves twinge and pinch, head pounds. There is an undeniable feeling of overall inflammation. Nausea pays a visit from time to time and I just have the overwhelming feeling of standing precariously on the edge of a serious health problem. I can’t explain it but it is just a strong feeling that if I don’t get this under control now then things are going to happen that I cannot reverse. I am on the fence between reclaiming my health and sliding into a life of chronic illness. It is up to me which side of the fence I choose.

I read a quote the other day, I can’t remember where, most likely facebook. It said that every time we eat food, we are either fighting disease or feeding it. It made sense to me. Enough sense for me to get out my old paleo cook books and download a few new ones. I am going to choose to fight disease. My life and that of my two kids depends on it.

Today I start day 1 of my whole 30 paleo challenge. 30 days to reclaim my health, slay the sugar dragon and reset my brain. I will no longer be an incubator for inflammation and illness. Those of you wondering what the hell a whole30 is can visit Whole30 and find out the nitty gritty. Basically for 30 days I am cutting out all inflammation causing foods and eating only whole, natural foods that our paleo ancestors would have eaten. No dairy means my gall bladder will be most pleased and no grains means my waistline will be Downright delighted. Probably most importantly, no sugar ………

Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with this?

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Disney can wait.

What a week! Seriously, there were more ups and downs than a Disneyland worthy roller coaster. Disneyland you say? Funny I should mention the most wonderful place on the earth because that is the very thing that started this exhausting, exhilarating and exciting weekend.

I will start at the beginning for you. Try to stay with me now because I, myself, have only just begun to wrap my head around what has happened.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by without a hitch. Apart from feeling more fatigued than usual , the days went by in the shop as they usually do. Sure, it was a bit busier than normal and I spent most of the day talking to customers. I thought this was the reason why I felt tired. The customers seemed to be draining me, which sometimes happens when you get inundated.

Thursday was worse again, I just wanted so badly to crawl up on the couch out the ack of work and snooze but the customers had other ideas. That night I called my Mum and to cut a long story short, she was going to take me and my daughter , soon turning four, with the family on a 21 day trip to the USA incorporating Vegas, Hawaii and of course the holy grail of the USA trip, Disneyland.

Picture a grown woman running up and down her hallway, jumping and shrieking with excitement . Now stop shaking your heads, I defy you not to do the same if the same opportunity arose for you to go on this awesome trip! I hardly slept that night. After talking trip details with Mum until the early hours of the morning, once I finally did get into bed, my thoughts were overrun with luggage styles and passport renewals. I was going to America and it was so close I could almost taste the baby back ribs and pork breakfast sausage from IHOP.

The next morning, Friday, was no better, I ran around the house like a kid on Christmas morning. My husband knew that I was going to exhaust myself by the time October came around but he did not rain on my Disney parade.

I was determined that Friday was going to be a great day at work. I was going to use all of my excess excitement to make it a great day, come hell or high water. Sadly it wasn’t to be. I was tired and cranky. The customers were really taking it out of me and I just wanted to curl up and sleep. Not even thoughts of Mickey Mouse and boysenberry syrup could keep me going. It was no use.

Somewhere around 4:30pm, I was finally experiencing a lull in the flow of customers so I sat down at my computer to do some stock inventory. I felt sick. Not like a flu or gastro, just really off. I figured that seeing as my boobs were sore and I was tired and cranky that I must be getting ready for my period. Yup that had to be it, after all it had been how long since my last one?

Oh shit, November. I missed a month. Usually, with PCOS, this would be no big deal, but since losing some weight doing the 12wbt and then adjusting the Michelle bridges nutrition to a paleo diet, I had been as regular as clockwork.

My mind started ticking, surely this was a hormonal thing. I mean, it took me seven years to conceive my first child and it had been four years since she was born and it did not seem like it was ever going to happen again. Never the less, I went to the supermarket and bought a pregnancy test. Actually I bought four. All different brands. I figured I better be damn sure before Mum went and booked $4600 worth of plane tickets for my daughter and I .

I got home from work and raced straight upstairs. I lined my tests up all in a row and wouldn’t you know it, all of them came up positive. Straight up, immediate, strong positive.

Holy shit! I’m having a baby!!!!

I stared at those sticks for what felt like hours but in actuality was only a minute or two and then called mum. I told her that I couldn’t come to Disneyland with her because right about the time they are having their photos taken with Mickey , I am going to be giving birth.

I guess it is just the rebel in me, to defy medicine not once but twice! Obviously losing what seemed to me to be such an insignificant amount of weight made a huge difference in my body. It may have only been seven kilos but I can only attribute my pregnancy to these few things,

* losing weight, even a small amount.
* quitting smoking
* going organic and cutting out all processed and refined foods
* regular exercise even if at just a moderate pace

So, by my calculations I am between six and eight weeks cooked already. I feel this blog may be heading in a new direction for the next few months at least. But never fear. I do solemnly swear to you, dear readers, never to blog about constipation or haemorrhoids, pelvic exams or frequent urination.

It looks like Disney will have to wait because I’m back on the road to the dreaded maternity ward. Wish me luck, I think I’m gonna need it.

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This is me about five minutes before my first c-section. I believe at that stage I had changed my mind and expressed a strong desire to go back home to bed.

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This is me two days before my c-section. It was hot, I was uncomfortable and my baby was the size of a small elephant, I think this adequately explains the look on my face