600th Post!

I’ve wanted to make a post for the past several days, but for whatever reason, writing just hasn’t happened. There’s been a lot going on.

First visit with the high-risk pregnancy specialist

Last week, Adam and I saw the high-risk pregnancy doctor, in the hopes that we’d be cleared to start trying for a family. Unfortunately, my blood pressure was insane at the visit. 174/95. Crazy, right? The doc wants me to lose 20 pounds and get my blood pressure under control before I see him again.

Challenge Accepted.

Doubled the hypertension medication. Got back to the gym. Fortunately, the relapse is over, and because of that, seizures aren’t stopping me from exercising. Yesterday, I was finally able to do 45 minutes of cardio again. We also keep saying that we’re going to go paleo again. We did well yesterday, but tonight, we’re going to a Blackhawks playoff game… so I guess we’re aiming for 80/20 this week.

Awesome Find: Once A Month Cooking

One of my friends introduced me to Once A Month Cooking, which has more than 2 years worth of paleo menus and recipes already made. Talk about a time-saver.

And if that weren’t enough, there are other sites for once a month cooking too, such as this Whole 30 Freezer Menu, and this article about how to freezer-cook in the first place.

Big 600!

And apparently, this is my 600th post here. That blows my mind.

Hope you’re all doing well!

My Future’s In My Hands

Can you feel me?

This has been one heck of a week. It started on Monday morning when I woke up with absolutely *no* feeling in my hands. That was scary as hell. I could still move them… I just couldn’t feel them. Surprisingly, I could mostly type. Maybe it’s because I have it so hardwired into my muscle memory. I type most of the day 5 days a week.

I repeatedly asked Adam to take me to the emergency room, but he thought we should call the neurologist again (I had called prior to 9 am and again at 10:30 am) and wait to see what he wanted me to do. The answer came around 4 in the afternoon –come in on Tuesday to see him. So, that’s what we did.

Fortunately, when I woke up on Tuesday, I could feel my hands again. They were burning and stinging terribly, but at least they felt like they were *there.* Dr. J took out a safety pin and told me to close my eyes and let him know when I felt something. I didn’t really feel the pin until he was at the upper part of my arm. I felt a little pressure, but certainly no sharpness. I thought he was playing a trick on me or something. I really didn’t feel the pin at all on my hands. Adam, however, has assured me that I got poked repeatedly. This did not sit well with me.

Dr. J asked what I wanted to do. I told him that I’ve always had solu-medrol when I had an acute MS exacerbation, and was immediately told that there’s a national shortage of solu-medrol right now and that he couldn’t give me any without MRI proof that I have new, active lesions. (Maybe I’m being simple, but isn’t suddenly and completely losing feeling in your hands prima facie evidence that you do have new, active lesions in your spine?)

So, instead of putting me on an IV of corticosteroids, he prescribed a second medrol dose pack (I took 1 two weeks ago and it only got rid of the numbness on my left side.) and scheduled MRIs of my brain and spine for 3/21. I then see him on 3/25 to discuss what the MRI showed.

For anyone playing the, “How long has this shit been going on?” game, that means that it will have been 15 days between losing all feeling in my hands and a discussion about what my MRIs show. To me, that seems like a really long time for something as important as use of your hands. Moreover, I will have finished the medrol dose pack on 3/16, which, if it works, would make the new lesions inactive, right? I wish I understood his methods, but I have to trust that an MS Specialist knows more about this disease than I do.

He also was not pleased that this happened only 4 weeks after quitting Gilenya so that we can try to start a family. He said that depending on what we see on the MRI, we’d have to have “a very serious discussion.”

I said, “We haven’t even had the chance to start trying.” I’m not going to choose to not have a family because I had one ill-timed exacerbation. That’s just crazy. I’m guessing he might try to get me to go back on Copaxone, since you can be on it even during pregnancy. I only stopped using Copaxone because he said it wasn’t doing anything for me, but I felt so much better when I was on it, regardless of how much I loathed giving myself a nightly injection.

I have no idea what the right thing is to do, to be quite honest. The only thing I do know is that if he suggests that I should not get pregnant, after all the work I’ve done to prepare my body, I’ll be getting a second opinion.

Clean Bill Of Mental Health

During the time that I lost feeling in my hands, I also had a huge up-tick in seizure activity. I was so scared about how many seizures I was having that I actually contacted my therapist so that if any of them were pseudoseizures (like many were back when I was working with EMDR), I could do the work to stop them.

Well, it was good seeing Karolina for the first time in over 6 months if for no other reason than I enjoy talking with her. I was very pleased when she let me know that I am not experiencing pseudoseizures and that I am in such good mental health that she doesn’t want to hear from me again unless I am going through some difficulties and really need her or have some happy news to share with her.

I talked to her about all my worries (none of which were irrational automatic negative thoughts!) – about what could happen if I lose all feeling in my hands and I’m holding my baby, and she said that it’s a legitimate fear, so my best course of action is to be extra careful to pay attention to my body and be safe with the baby. You know. The baby I don’t actually have yet.

My current challenge is to only worry about handling things when there is actually something to deal with! No fighting ghosts. My real job in all of this is to be fully present in the now and to continue to practice good self-care. So far, so good.

Cheesy, gooey goodness…

On a completely different note: I’ve been thinking more and more about how I really miss cheese when we’re being strict with the paleo diet.

Don’t get me wrong — I know the plan was to be strict during lent, but when you’re dealing with an MS exacerbation, you don’t always have the time or energy to cook and clean the way you need to in order to be eating clean. I have to confess, I’ve had pizza this week… more than once. And I don’t regret it even a little.

I did, however, decide, on a whim to google “paleo cheese” and was surprised to see information pop up! Apparently, there are a kajillion different kinds of vegan cheese that also fall under our paleo guidelines. (Ok, so apparently a kajillion is a term in my mind that means “more than 20.”)

To celebrate this, I created another board on the Paleo Compendium just for paleo cheeses.

The one I’m looking the most forward to trying is this Velveeta-wannabe.
vegveeta

I’m hoping it’ll actually be melty and good to use when making enchiladas or jalapeno poppers.

I’ve also been thinking that I should create a graphic for the Paleo Compendium that folks can use to link to it.

MS Walk 2014 – Chicago Lakefront

It’s been a few years since I participated in the yearly fundraising efforts of the National MS Society because of seizures. For almost 5 years, seizures stopped me from feeling comfortable with exercising. Heck, I didn’t feel comfortable even walking anywhere alone. I didn’t feel safe. Fortunately, this year, I’ve overcome that fear.

Nowadays, I regularly hit the gym 4 days a week at least. Some days, I’m even so awesome that I can bike 12 miles in 45 minutes! 🙂 But I’ve also had a few days here and there where I’ve ended up seizing while on an elliptical strider or during weightlifting, and have had to go home. 😦 At least I tried! No matter what I’m doing when I’m at the gym, the goal is to honor my body, so I work out with Adam and am very careful not to over-do it.

Yesterday, I created a team for MS Walk 2014! It’s Team MS EL Redux, named after the support group that I participate in on Facebook. You don’t have to be in the group to join us or even in Chicago! You can be a virtual participant and help us raise funds if you’d like to.

I also personally registered both Adam and me for the walk. Here’s a link to my personal fundraising page. I’d really appreciate it if you would donate! And if you don’t have the funds to donate, don’t sweat it. I’ve been there. Please share the link! Every little bit of promotion helps!

Here’s a shorter link: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/rachaelshapiromajka

Hope you’re having a great day! Thanks for stopping by. ❤

What’s shakin’? (Not me!)

msawarenessmonth
I can’t believe it’s already Friday of MS Awareness Week (though the whole month is MS Awareness Month), and I haven’t done a blog post. That seems kinda wrong.

To be fair, however, life has been challenging this week — lots of seizures. It was like I was back in Glendale when I was first diagnosed. I was just having them over and over again in what felt like a loop.

I called my MS specialist on Tuesday, but I haven’t heard back from him. His nurse called and scheduled me for the soonest opening, which is March 21st… two weeks from today. (He’s actually booked up through June!) I think I’m going to call and cancel it. I was having really intense pain in my lower back and unrelenting seizures when I called in the first place, and now, I’m pretty much fine. I only had 5 simple partials yesterday, which is nothing. I can handle some facial twitching.

Today, so far, I’m seizure-free, and my back feels fine. I was really worried when I called that I was still having a relapse, even though I took a medrol dose pack about 2 weeks ago. My body’s been acting so weird. I’m glad that it was just a pseudoexacerbation. I must have been fighting off a cold or something.

Increase Your MS Knowledge: What is a pseudoexacerbation?

From Health Central – “A pseudoexacerbation is a flare up of existing symptoms caused by another medical event, such as a urinary tract infection, flu, or elevated body temperature. Pseudo or not, it can stop you in your tracks as sure as any true exacerbation. However, new lesions are not being formed and your MS in not really progressing.

True MS exacerbations are caused by inflammation in the central nervous system which damages the myelin and disrupts the transmission of nerve signals, causing a wide variety of symptoms. This type of event can cause new symptoms and permanent damage, lasting from 24 hours to several months. Severe exacerbations may be treated with steroids in order to reduce inflammation and shorten the length of the exacerbation.”

So, for those of us with MS, we get to feel awful while also questioning ourselves to figure out if we might be sick or too hot or whatever before we even call our doctors to treat the problem. Basically, if I feel awful for 3-4 days, I’ll call a doctor. Otherwise, I assume everything weird that happens in my body is a pseudoexacerbation.

Pseudoexacerbations annoy me less than pseudoseizures.

Since I only tend to have seizures nowadays when I’m also experiencing other MS symptoms, I always think of my seizures as being part of MS… but when I initially began dealing with seizure disorder, doctors suggested that I also see a psychologist. While they could identify the epileptic activity that caused the simple partial seizures that I experience, they were stumped by the time travel (complex) seizures and thought it was likely that they were caused by subconscious psychological issues.

For over a year, I saw a psychologist and worked with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) Therapy. I’ve written a lot about it. It was immensely helpful to me. In fact, the majority of my seizures stopped, thanks to the work we did.

To give you an idea of how intense and repetitive the seizures were on Monday, I actually went so far as to contact my most recent therapist to see if we could do some work (potentially with EMDR), just in case any of these recent seizures are being caused by my subconscious. She said it was good self-care, so even though the vast majority of the seizures have abated, I’m still going to see her.

(Fun fact: I found out, after already starting the therapy, that the doctor responsible for the creation of EMDR therapy is actually the mother of one of my good friends. That was pretty cool to me. I’m a big fan of her work both in the realm of therapy and as a mother, because her son is a truly awesome person.)

46 Days of “Strict” Paleo

It’s Lent! You know, the time between Mardis Gras and Easter.

This Lent, instead of giving up caffeine, Adam suggested that, just like in 2012, we be strict with keeping paleo. We’re not doing another Whole 30 or attempting a Whole 46. We’re just doing regular Paleo, so we can still have a little honey and maple syrup here and there. In truth, I am pretty sure my Whole 46 was just regular paleo too, looking back on it.

The big challenge for us will be not cheating on the weekends, when we’re out with friends and family, or when we’re feeling sick. (The craving for wanton soup when I’ve got a head cold is damn near undeniable.)

To make things easier for us (and anyone else who happens to be interested), I created a meal plan for Lent. I even made sure that on Fridays we’re scheduled to eat seafood and not meat, for all the Catholics out there who still follow that rule. (Fortunately, Adam’s as devoutly Catholic as I am devoutly Jewish. He doesn’t really care much about following a tradition that was created to help the fishing economy just for tradition’s sake. I can’t say I blame him. It’s not like I keep kosher.)

Tonight’s dinner is Garlic Roasted Shrimp with Zucchini Pasta.
garlic shrimp

Hope you’re all doing well!

Thoughts about Food.

The Paleo Diet’s doing good things for me.

For a while there, I was not sure whether or not the paleo diet was making any real difference in my life. As of Valentine’s Day, I am sure that it’s doing good things. What significance does Valentine’s Day have? I broke diet for half the weekend. Chocolate. Sushi. Cheeseburger. Pad Thai. I was loving the break… until Saturday night (1 full day into the sugar and wheat binge), when I had so many time-travel seizures that even Adam lost count.

I am now trying to figure out if I have a problem with wheat (since gliadin antibodies are higher in folks with MS, suggesting a sensitivity to wheat), dairy (which would make sense since MS has been linked to consumption of cow’s milk), a combination of the two, or something completely different. I’m not too worried about legumes, since the only legumes I had were crushed peanuts in the pad thai, and that was during Saturday night’s seizure funfest.

I got back to sticking to the diet on Sunday, and had a total of 1 seizure that day, which was a simple partial. (No time travel!)

Splenda – not so sweet.

In the last several days, I’ve also been doing some research on Splenda. There have been a lot of hoaxes and half-true infographics circulating around FB recently, and I’m genuinely worried for my folks, who drink it in beverages regularly. I found a bunch of studies that claim that sucralose is totally safe for you as long as you don’t have too much. I was more concerned with finding peer-reviewed studies that were not funded by the makers of Splenda or a sugar corporation.

Here’s what I found:

Splenda is not an inert compound.
“Sucralose and one of its hydrolysis products were found to be mutagenic at elevated concentrations in several testing methods. Cooking with sucralose at high temperatures was reported to generate chloropropanols, a potentially toxic class of compounds. Both human and rodent studies demonstrated that sucralose may alter glucose, insulin, and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) levels. Taken together, these findings indicate that sucralose is not a biologically inert compound.” http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10937404.2013.842523#.UwFpL_ldUkZ

Splenda is immunosupressive.
“The cumulative suppression of Interleukin-6 and Interleukin-10 levels induced by sucralose may contribute to the inability in mounting an effective humoral response when posed with an exogenous threat.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24063614

“[E]xposure to sucralose induces a reduced humoral response that may be associated with adverse effects on the immune system.” http://etd.uwc.ac.za/usrfiles/modules/etd/docs/etd_gen8Srv25Nme4_5780_1319022717.pdf

Splenda can reduce glucose absorption and can increase the presence of cholesterol in your blood.
“It could be concluded that consumption of sucralose didn’t induce oxidative stress, has no effect on insulin, reduce glucose absorption and intensify hypercholesterolemia in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Accordingly it is advised that diabetic people consuming high amount of sucralose must check their lipid profile to avoid diabetic complications.” http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=34006#.UwFqI_ldUkY

The more Splenda you consume, the higher your likelihood of developing leukemia.
“Dr. Morando Soffritti, director of the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy, and team fed 843 laboratory mice varying doses of sucralose from when they were fetuses until they died. Post-mortems showed an association between leukemia risk and lifetime sucralose consumption – the more sucralose they consumed, the higher their risk of leukemia.” http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262475.php

Splenda is a known migraine trigger.
“This observation of a potential causal relationship between sucralose and migraines may be important for physicians to remember this can be a possible trigger during dietary history taking.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00543_1.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false

Splenda can negatively affect your insulin response, if you’re obese and haven’t been regularly using it.
“[S]ucralose affects the glycemic and insulin responses to an oral glucose load in obese people who do not normally consume NNS.” http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/9/2530.short

I don’t think there’s such a thing as a safe artificial sweetener right now. Thankfully, liquid stevia, raw honey, and maple syrup are ok.

Super Bowl XLVIII Paleo Recipe Roundup!

Welcome to Sup(p)er Bowl XLVIII (48)

I don’t think it was really a mistake a moment ago when I went to type “Super” and instead typed, “Supper.” Whenever I think about Super Bowl parties, I pretty much only think about the food. Happily, I am not alone in this. There are several paleo food bloggers who also look forward to celebrating. Here, I’ve compiled content from PaleOMG, TheClothesMakeTheGirl, FastPaleo, NomNomPaleo, PaleoSpirit, & PaleoGirl.

Deviled Eggs
Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
Bacon and Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
Bacon Deviled Eggs

Chicken Wings & Nuggets
Chile Lime Chicken Wings
Jalapeño Lime Chicken Wings
Buffalo Chicken Wings
Restaurant Style Buffalo Wings
Devil Wings
Sweet n Sassy Chicken Wings
Sweet and Sexy Wings
Tackling Tso Wings
Chicken Wing Jerky
20 Wing Recipes by Paleo Grub
Paleo Buffalo Chicken Nuggets
Paleo Chick-Fil-A Nuggets
Chicken Satay
Chocolate Chicken Lollipops
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Chicken
Touchdown Chicken Tenders
Crispy Chicken Dippers
Cilantro Chicken Nuggets

Fries & Potato Skins
Crispy, Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Double-Coverage Nacho Fries
Garlic Dill Sweet Potato Wedges
Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Ketchup
Carrot Fries with Garlic Aioli
Roasted Carrot {Fries}
Baked Zucchini Fries with Bloomin’ Onion Dipping Sauce
Zucchini Field-Goal Fries
Avocado Chorizo Sweet Potato Skins
Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Skins
Rosemary Citrus Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Bacon Basil Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Meatballs
Meatballs Cups
Bacon Meatballs with Mango Honey Mustard Sauce
Spaghetti and Meatball Bites
Asian Meatballs
Bora Bora Fireballs
”The Grub” Meatballs
Bacon Wrapped Pork Meatballs
Big Tim’s 4 Bees Meatballs
Mmmmm. Morrocan Meatballs
Cevapčići

Nuts
Smoky and Spicy Candied Cashews
Roasted Rosemary Almonds
Chili-Lime Spiced Almonds
Savory Paleo Granola
Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Almonds

Stuffed Mushrooms
Touchdown Stuffed Mushrooms
Sausage and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
Paleo Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Paleo Shrimp-Stuffed Mushrooms

Other finger foods
Raw veggies dipped in: Sunshine Sauce  | Creamy Italian Dressing | Tahini Dressing
BBQ Bacon Asparagus
Baby Pizza Bites
Zucchini Pesto Roll Ups
Smoked Salmon Stuffed Sweet Peppers
Paleo Chips
BBQ Baked Kale Chips
Spicy Salmon Cucumber Bites
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Tomato Bites
Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed Jalepenos
Chili Pepper Poppers
Guac Poppers
Pear & Bacon Bites
Bacon + Guacamole Sammies
Devils on Horseback
Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Prosciutto
Flatbread Pizza
Prosciutto & Basil Wrapped Shrimp
Paleo Pigs in a Blanket

Dips
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Dip (Paleo & Vegan)
Chunky Pineapple Guacamole with Grilled Sweet Potato Chips
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Paleo Taco Dip
Paleo Buffalo Ranch Dip
Roasted Eggplant Hummus/Babaganoush

Chili
Smoky Bacon Chili
Chocolate Chili
Pumpkin Chili
Big Tim’s Primalized Chili
Paleo Chipotle Chili

Burgers
Southwest Turkey Sliders with Avocado Slaw
Triple Protein Burgers
Maple-glazed Burgers Stuffed with Bacon, Stuffed with Jalepenos, Stuffed with Dates, Stuffed with Almonds
Bacon Beef Burger
Southwestern Chorizo Burgers
Beast Burgers
My Kind Of Sliders

Main Dishes
5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie
Pulled Pork Waffle Sliders
Spicy Shepherd’s Pie Chorizo Meatloaf
Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Pork Avocado Cream Enchiladas
Boneless Pork Short Rib Breakfast Tacos
Plantain Nachos
Stovetop Pork Carnitas
Mexican Meatza
Riceless, No-Soy Sushi
Jalapeño Dijon Chicken
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Casserole
Primal Pork Patties (Thai Style)

Ribs
Roasted Beef Ribs
Jamaican Jerk Baked Ribs
Dry-Rubbed BBQ Pork Ribs

Salads
Buffalo Chicken Chopped Salad
Deconstructed Gyro Salad
Herb “Rice” Salad*
Muffaletta Salad

Slow Cooker Recipes
Crockpot Pulled Pork Chili
Crockpot Sweet Potato Basil Soup
Crockpot Pork Green Chile (Chile Verde)
Easy Shredded Beef
Epic Pig
Big Tim’s GROK Pot Pulled Pork
BigTim’s Crock-pot BBQ Beef
Crockpot Meatballs
Oven-Braised Mexican Braised Beef
Slow Cooker Kalua Pig
Slow Cooker Barbacoa
Barbacoa
Ancho Chile Pulled Pork BBQ

Desserts
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls
Double Chocolate Energy Bites
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bon Bons
Paleo Snickerdoodles
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts
Triple Chocolate Truffles (nut free)
Brownie Batter Pancake Skewers
Cookie Pie Ice Cream Bites
Coffee Chocolate Caramel Bars
Magic Brownie Bars
Chocolate Pumpkin Sunbutter Treats
Pumpkin Cream Donut Sandwiches
Chocolate Cupcakes
Apple Pie Nachos
Caramelized Coconut Chips
Sweet & Salty Fudge Bombs
Fruit Crisp
Banana Nut Balls
Paleo-fied Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Covered Pecan Pie Balls
Chocolate Covered Bacon
Zucchini Brownies
Maple Bacon Ice Cream
Chunky Monkey “Ice Cream” Bon Bons
Nom Nom Chocolate Truffles
Almond-Blocker-Bars

So which team are you rootin’ for?

This year’s match is between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. I think I have 1 friend in Seattle. Maybe 2. Denver, though? That’s a whole other story. I have so many friends there, you’d think I actually lived in that city at some point. (I haven’t.)  Most importantly, however, my brother Daniel lives in Denver. And everybody knows, you gotta stick with family. 🙂  That’s why, even though I don’t give a crap about football, I totally want the Broncos to win.

Hope everyone has fun today! Stay safe on the roads! Don’t let you friends drink & drive. ❤

Paleo Mexican Chicken Tortilla-like Soup

mexican-soup

A New Take On An Old Favorite

One of my favorite puzzles in life is figuring out to take leftovers from one meal and transform them into something new and delicious for another meal.

Yesterday, I found myself looking at about 2 pounds-worth of leftover Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken*, trying to figure out what to do with it. We’d already used a pound of it as meat for fiesta nachos. Back when we weren’t keeping a Whole 30, we would use the meat for soft tacos and then use the leftovers to make Tex-Mex Chicken Soup (inspired by Tex-Mex Turkey Soup). Since this soup contains sour cream, corn, and beans, I knew we had to try a different recipe.

I searched the web for “paleo mexican chicken soup”, and immediately found a winner: Paleo Commfort Foods’ Chicken Tortilla-less Soup. I figured, since our chicken was already flavored with salsa and spices that we could skip the part of the recipe that talks about fixing the chicken. I was primarily interested in using the recipe to figure out  how much broth to use and what other vegetables to add. It served as a great inspiration for the soup I actually made.

Paleo Mexican Chicken Tortilla-like Soup

(Whole 30 compliant, Serves 8)

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds of leftover Slow Cooker Cilantro Chicken
  • 4 cups of chicken stock or broth
  • 3 tsp (6 cloves) of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP granulated onion (or 1 medium onion, diced)
  • 28 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded & diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded & minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper (red or yellow would work too). seeded & diced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Procedure

  1. Chop up all of your veggies and aromatics.
  2. Put all of the ingredients in a large pot (12 c. or greater) and stir to combine.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Enjoy!

I thought about some other flavors that we might add the next time. I think carrots would be a good addition because they’re sweet like corn. I’m also debating yellow squash.

* – When Adam and I fix Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken, we don’t use taco seasoning packets because of the extra, unnecessary stuff in most of them. Here’s what we do. The only difference now that we’re on the paleo diet is that we use salsa that doesn’t have any sugar in it. Tostitos medium is a good one. Trader Joe’s has a few good ones as well.

Woah, We’re Halfway There! Woah-oh, Livin On A Prayer!

15 days down, 15 to go.

It’s January 15! That means we’re halfway done with our Whole30! That rocks my socks off. So far, the thing that my meal plan has been best for is pulling up recipes to make grocery lists. We haven’t even kind of stuck to what meals we planned to have at what time. We buy ingredients for 5 meals or so at a time, and have really enjoyed many of the dishes.

Here are the dishes that we’ve liked the best:
A surprise favorite: Not Beanie Weenie – We never would have tried this recipe if we hadn’t found the Whole30 approved hot dogs! It’s a solid recipe, but it tastes even better if you add some yellow mustard. Best part — it’s a 1 pot meal.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie – Our recipe was inspired by this one. It’s one of our favorites because it’s really straightforward and easy. It also was very comforting and tasty!

Baked Pork Chops with Apple-Thyme Gravy – So Good! The gravy itself was more like a sauce than a gravy because it wasn’t thick. You couldn’t really taste the apple, but it was still so full of umami goodness that it was worth mentioning.

There was only one real problem with this recipe on its own. The cooking time suggested on the recipe’s website is cah-rayzee. Pork chops should never take an hour and fifteen minutes to cook in an oven set to 400 F. If you leave them in that long, you will end up with hockey pucks instead of pork chops. Instead, we stuck a meat thermometer in the thickest chop we were using and took it out of the oven when the pork’s internal temp reached 145 F. We let the meat rest for a few minutes, and it came up to 150 F, which is ideal for food safety. It took maybe 20 minutes, which made this meal both mouthwatering and quick. We paired it with baked sweet potato.

Last, but certainly not least, last night, we really enjoyed Tropical Grilled Flank Steak – Possibly the easiest and best tasting recipe we’ve tried yet. Instead of adding minced garlic and chopped chives or scallions, I coated both sides of the flank steak with granulated onion powder and granulated garlic powder. Also instead of mincing the ginger, I grated it, so that it would stick to the steak better. It was so much less work than the update I made to my Mom and Grammy’s flank steak recipe, and it was just as good. This will probably become a part of our regular meal rotation even after the Whole30 is over. We paired it with steamed broccoli.

Our Favorite Snacks

One of the most important things for us has been having snack food, for those moments when you’re totally hungry and don’t have time to fix something. Here’s what we’ve been enjoying.

Dried, Non-Sweetened Organic Mango Slices
Honeycrisp Apples
Navel Oranges
Dried, Salted Plantain Chips
Sunflower Seeds
Unsalted Cashews
Homemade Beef Jerky

What’s Next?

With the Whole30 being halfway through, I have a much better handle on how to cook for it. If a recipe has more than 5-6 non-spice ingredients, I usually don’t have the time or patience to make it.

So what’s on the menu in the next several days?
Our chili recipe, which I’m planning to make tonight. (I’ve gotta get off this computer and go shopping for the ingredients!)

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken – an old favorite that we ate even when we weren’t paleo! We double Adam’s Taco Seasoning and add it in place of the packet of taco seasoning in the recipe. We’ll definitely make some paleo tortilla chips to go with it, and probably some guacamole too.

Keeping with the slow cooker theme, we’re also slated to try NomNomPaleo’s Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs and Slow Cooker Cheater Pot Stew. I’m a little worried about the pork stew, just because Adam doesn’t like cabbage usually. Sometimes, he digs bok choy, though… so I’m hopeful that this recipe passes his palate’s test.

We’re also going to try Buffalo Ranch Chicken Meatballs, which, when paired with celery sticks, looks like something easy and yummy for supper. I’m thinking of adding some paprika and cayenne pepper to the meatball itself, for a little extra kick.

This food isn’t gonna buy or cook itself, so I’d better wrap it up and get to the store. Hope everyone’s having a great day!