making and breaking habits

i’ve been thinking a lot about habits: how we form them, how we make them and keep them. the 30-day challenge i did with my gym in january made me realize how much i love having sugar in my life. it was really hard to avoid it completely, especially when i was stressed out. it was relatively easy to drink less alcohol and coffee, but sugar kept sucking me back in; when i was sick, when i was drained, when i was feeling like i “deserved” something. it was almost creepy how i justified it, despite trying to keep less sugar as my goal.


i saw this idea on pinterest the other day: the idea that it takes 21 days for form a habit. i’m a bit skeptical that it only takes 21 days to make something a habit. (a quick online search: the 21 day thing is considered a myth.) however, it didn’t take very long for me to form the habit of starting my day with green tea instead of coffee. plus, i love neon colored post-it notes, so i’m gonna give it a go with sugar again.

these are my first 21 days without sugar:


my goal is to remove one post-it every day until i’ve managed to not eat sugar for 21 days. i haven’t gone that long without sugar in over 2 years. i want to be able to get to day 22 and want to keep going. i realize this completely conflicts with my desire to make the perfect brownie in 2013, so maybe on day 22, i can try making a perfect brownie without refined sugar and take a bite and give the rest away.

in other news, i’m visiting a slaughter house tomorrow as part of my work with high school girls and food. i was told we could see the kill floor. i’m prepared to return from the experience convinced i need to return to being a vegetarian.

i’m bringing my camera because we have permission to take pictures and film. check back later this week for the highlights. er, maybe the low-lights.

sugar. honey honey.

i’m not really a candy girl. any more. mainly because: i rarely eat sugar unless i bake (which is almost never); a lot of candy has gluten and/or dairy in it; and candy that is gluten/dairy free is usually packed with soy and other ingredients i’d only eat if i google all of them first because i have no idea what they are. (this last fact scares me away from most processed foods.)


i’ve given up sugar more than once in my digestive journey (scope out the restore diet category and you’ll get all the gross details) and i’ll admit that giving up refined sugar isn’t all that hard once you get used to it. however, giving up natural sugars is another thing entirely. it’s hard. it’s particularly hard if you like the following things: wine, fruit, honey, wine, and more wine.

my gym is doing a new year 30 day challenge and although this might sound snobby, when i first heard it was only for 30 days i thought: amateur. i’ve given up all cheese, ice cream, milk, sugar, grains, soy, chips, beer/booze, french fries, eating out, and basically anything with a label that contains more than 2-3 ingredients. and i’ve done it for years. (heading into year 4 of no dairy and no beer. seriously people. i haven’t had a beer or a piece of cheddar in 4 years.) i realize saying this on my blog makes me sound like a total snob.

but i’m going to admit that the last 10 days have been really really hard for me. hard because we had to list publicly what we were giving up during the challenge and we were encouraged to make those things hard to give up. given my dietary limitations, i had to think hard about this. i decided on the following three things: no refined sugar, no more than 2 cups of coffee a day, and no more than 4 alcoholic beverages a week.

needless to say, i had a total meltdown yesterday and almost cried because i was stressed out and  wanted to eat a brownie. i really felt like i needed to eat a brownie. the kind they sell at my local coffee shop that’s gluten and dairy free and full of fudgy-awesomeness.


i managed to leave the coffee shop with only a coffee.
i didn’t mangage to not drink wine in the evening. or the evening before. or the evening before that. or the evening before that.
this 30 day challenge is making me realize a few things:
1. when i’m having a meltdown, i want to eat baked foods because it’s comfort food to me. it reminds me of my mother, who baked for me my entire life. and it feels good to eat it.
2. i drink wine at least 5 nights a week. it’s only a glass of wine. but i drink it. and i enjoy it. i don’t think there’s anything wrong with this fact. however, i do think it throws off my sleep, which i’d like to avoid.
3. turns out i rarely drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day anyway, so no biggie. maybe i should limit it to 1? eh.
4. i want to learn to cook and bake and eat entirely refined sugar-free. my sister already does this. very successfully. i want to be like her.

last night, i made paleo brownies. i was pretty skeptical about them tasting all that grand, but i was pleasantly surprised with this recipe. they were moist, solid, fudgy, not very sweet, and tasted great with a little bit of peanut butter on top of them.

i’ve decided this year that one of my goals will be to figure out the perfect gluten, dairy, soy, refined-sugar free brownie.
this is take one.
send me any recipes you find and i promise to make and share.





goals & shrimp & avocado

i made a list of 2013 goals over on madebyrachel yesterday and at the top of the list: blogging here more. i had hoped to do more blogging here during the fall, but the semester got crazy and i was focused on course work and teaching and putting out a winter collection and so on and so on…

i’m pretty good at keeping resolutions, so i don’t shy away from making them, even if i don’t share them publicly. given my limited diet, i rarely make goals related to eating because i’m already a relatively healthy eater. i work out at least 4-5 times a week, and i love my gym and the people who go there. i feel like i’ve finally found a fitness home that works for me. but i know my vices, so in the spirit of trying to live healthy and support others in the process, i’m gonna list my health-related goals for 2013, in order of how hard they will be to accomplish (easy to hardest):

eliminate refined sugar

drink fewer than 4-5 alcoholic drinks a week

drink fewer than 2 cups of coffee a day

do one pull-up (you can see my first pushup ever here!)

it’s january 3rd and so far, i’ve managed to make it through the first three days of 2013 with no refined sugar, no booze, and only 1 cup of coffee. i did 45 pushups (the one my knees kind) yesterday  morning at the gym. i did half of them well and the other half i barely got myself off the floor.


i also made this superfood recipe from Iowa Girl Eats, a sweet blog i found through pinterest. it was amazing. i took out the black beans, as 2012 finally taught me that my body hates beans and lentils. while they haven’t been added to the enemy list yet, they have graduated to the eat-in-tiny-amount-and-rarely-if-you-want-to-enjoy-life list. sad to loose that source of protein but i was sick of suffering through the digestive misery. oddly enough, i was out of quinoa, so i used a long grain brown rice that has a nutty flavor and is super high in protein. i’m excited to see what else is on the Iowa Girl Eats blog for recipes. scope out her long list of yummy eats here!

happy new year!

breakfast of champions

*summer time makes me a smoothie addict. if given the option, i’d drink a smoothie for every meal, but my sensitive belly doesn’t like my habit of blending every possible fruit i can find.

*i’ve discovered that i’m really bad at eating breakfast. really bad. i’d like to skip it, drink my iced latte and go straight to eating around 12:30/1 p.m.

*this does not go over well because i usually work out at noon every day and working out with only espresso and almond milk in your belly is not a good habit to live by. i realize this habit has developed out of lack of hunger, poor planning, and summer laziness.

*i’m trying to find new things to eat for breakfast that don’t require much effort. yesterday’s breakfast of champions was a larabar, blueberries, and some roast beef. the beef part just felt right at 8:30 a.m. while i was wandering the co-op trying to force myself to eat before noon. larabars are a bit sweet, but taste amazing. very much like the paleo nuggets i’ve been making. i don’t think you can ever go wrong with fresh local blueberries. i probably looked like a freak, but instead of taking the slices of roast beef out of the package, i just opened it and took bites out of the entire 10 pieces at one time. i highly recommend doing this in your car at stop lights when there’s a lot of traffic, giving people the opportunity to watch you gnawing on beef at 9 in the morning.

*happy tuesday.


for real?


*my sister-in-law made me gluten/dairy/soy free cookie dough bon bons for my birthday. for real. i still can’t get over them. they made me giddy. literally: because i haven’t had sugar in a month and these bon bons were my first birthday sugar. hyp-er.

*they were so good that everyone at our 4th of July cookout tried them and couldn’t believe they were gluten/dairy/soy free. yum-e.

*here’s why this is one of the best birthday gifts ever:

being diagnosed with digestive issues makes you put a lot of things in perspective. for example, i never ever ever take for granted how much effort it takes to cook and bake for someone who has food allergies. it requires a lot of time. baking and/or cooking for someone like me requires the following:

1. finding a recipe (usually online) that is gluten, dairy AND soy free. a lot of times, gluten free recipes include diary and/or soy–both of which i have to avoid. so searching for a recipe can often require multiple attempts to “find the right fit” for someone like me.

2. figuring out ingredients that are super odd for most people. when i first learned i had to bake gluten/dairy/soy free, i realized i needed to figure out what flours i can use (almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, etc) and how they changed textures and flavors. i needed to figure out what the heck xanthan gum was. (it’s not gum you chew; it’s an ingredient that adds volume to baking with flours that do not “rise” the way wheat and grain flours do.)

3. reading labels. obsessively. knowing where the hidden things are. i.e. whey. whey = cow’s milk/dairy. most people don’t think about this. they see “gluten-free” and think: all is well! let’s do this! and then they bake me bread and i look at the label and have to say with guilt (usually because the person spent money and time making me something special): i can’t have this. (this has happened with mom a few times with bread mixes.)

4. having money to buy ingredients that are often triple the cost. some nut flours can cost $9-10. chocolate chips: $5 a bag. candy bar: $3 minimum. maybe more. the price tags can be shocking when you’re not used to them. so, if someone is willing to spend that much, it’s a big deal to me. there are no $1.99 cookie mixes in my world.

all of these reason are why i don’t bake for myself anymore and why it means so much to me when someone takes the time to figure out a way to feed me. because it takes all that effort, care, attention, and love to do it.

so, thanks gretchen: my amazing sister-in-law, who showed up tuesday with two containers of cookie dough bon bons made just for me. i couldn’t be more thankful for a more loving and perfect present. you’re the best.


back at it: frozen peanut butter

hello there!

it’s been far too long since i posted last. i decided i needed a hiatus from this blog for awhile, but i’m beginning to miss it, so here i am!

it’s a hot and humid 89 degrees today in Rochester, so i’m trying to stay cool by drinking a lot of sparkling water: my summer addiction.
i can’t say much has changed here by way of eating habits since i was posting last winter except i’ve given up grains and beans completely. i hope that decision is not forever, but so far, i feel the better for it. i’m hoping to spend more time posting fun recipes and ideas for people adjusting to life without bread and butter (and soy and beans and other fun things), so stay tuned!

my new favorite thing: frozen peanut butter. it’s like peanut butter ice cream. only without the ice cream part. 🙂
i add these little cubes of frozen yumminess to smoothies instead of ice or just eat them when i need a protein pick-me-up.

i highly recommend using silicone ice cube trays. i use these for my frozen peanuts butter squares.

my friend heather found a recipe for making cold paleo almond butter balls in a similar way: i’ll add that link when i find it.

happy summer!

random bits

*i made this last night for a friend’s birthday. i’m pretty certain C and i would have eaten the entire pan had i not left the house with it. it tastes like that nutty-buddy chocolate peanut butter chex mix stuff minus any dairy.

*i’m roasting tomatoes in the oven and it’s making me long for summer and a farm share full of fresh local veggies.

*saw this on pinterest. it makes me giggle:

*i call my inability to suppress giggles when it comes to things like this digestive-issue humor.


desperate deadlines call for desperate measures: first coffee since christmas day.
almond milk latte…

fingers crossed for no digestive drama.

i’d rather have broken elbows. or a stomach bug.

i have been extremely ill and only just beginning to operate “normally”. new year’s eve, i came down with a head cold, just 24 hours after bragging to my friend that despite all of my digestive issues over the last few years, i hadn’t had a cold in over 2 years. i’m not sure what’s to blame for that, but my uneducated guesses are: an extremely healthy diet; being forced to drop out of school last year because of my health and therefore avoid a lot of germs most teachers come in contact with daily; the reality that my digestive issues force a lot of stuff through my body at a fast pace, if you know what i mean; and my favorite prevention: thieves. if you don’t have it, get it. i swear by it. this is the first time it failed me.

by wednesday, my head cold had turned into combination ear infection, sinus infection, flu-symptom catastrophe. my doctor put me on an antibiotic, which did absolutely nada for 5 days. during those 5 days, i barely slept, took 4-5 showers a day (sat on the floor of the shower and let scorching hot water pound my head in hopes of relief), was so feverish every time i slept that i soaked through sheets and blankets (this happened 3-4 times a night), and was generally miserable. C was miserable taking care of me. my mother came out and massaged my aching jaw and sinuses and back in hopes of providing relief. by sunday, my doctor had me on another antibiotic which finally started working by tuesday.

all together, i went through:
*6 boxes of tissues
*2 bottles of NyQuill
*1 & 1/2 bottles of cough syrup
*4-5 jugs of orange juice
*6 lemons (added to hot water to drink)
*2 packages of Ricola lemon mint cough drops (yum)
*2 pots of soup

c came down with my cold on sunday, so we were both hot messes with no one to nurse us.

one form of amazing relief was steaming my head over a massive pot of boiled water with drops of this amazing chinese oil. my acupuncturist introduced me to this stuff years ago and i use it for massage, tennis elbow and muscle pain, on my temples to wake me up or when i have headaches, and now, to help clear out my sinus.

i can honestly say this: i would rather have a stomach bug than go through that hell again. i’m used to stomach aches, throwing up and sitting on the toilet. i’m not used to stabbing ear pain, the inability to breath through my nose, clogged ears, and pounding headaches. breaking my elbows was seriously less painful than last week. kidney stones still top my list though for worst pain ever.

it’s friday and i’m low on energy, still have a head cold, my ears are plugged, everything sounds muffled, and feel like i’ve been hit by a truck. i still have no appetite and can only taste things that give you bad breath (garlic, onions, etc). i’ve only left my house 3 times in 13 days, so the outer world feels large, cold, and foreign right now.

*i’m a convert to the neti pot, thanks to my friend and neighbor alex
*alex also has me on garlic pills. (i’m sure that’s not helping the breath i can’t smell.)
*i’m 2 full weeks behind at school, but hoping to still meet my deadlines by feb. (wish me a lotta luck.)
*C made it through with only a cold and small fever.
*my bathtub arrived post-illness, but i still get to finish out my cold soaking in it as soon as it’s installed this weekend. it looks like a giant egg.

i have so many food and health-related things to write about here this january, so here’s hoping the rest of the month is healthy so i can start posting more regularly.

hope you’re staying warm and healthy!


2011 holiday realizations

things i discovered over the last 2 weeks:

1. coconut milk eggnog is amazing. coconut chocolate mint milk with a shot of coffee in it is even more amazing. i had that twice and it was heaven.

2. i love sheep cheese. a lot. my sister made me a gluten-free lasagna with raw cheddar sheep’s cheese for christmas day. it took me 4 days, but i ate exactly 7 pieces between last monday and thursday. i think i’m done with lasagna for another year.

3. my mom is a saint. she made me gluten-free, diary-free, soy-free, refined-sugar free pumpkin pie. it was amazing, despite all those “frees.” C even liked it. i ate it every day for breakfast for 5 days.

4. i miss sugar much less than i thought i did. when confronted with sugary options i could actually have, i found myself just wanting to eat more lasagna and drink tea than anything else. i think it’s been out of my system long enough that i’m over it.

5. after a solid week of having others cook for me, i’m lazy. i want to walk to the fridge and pull out an already prepared meal by my mom or sister and heat it up rather than cook one myself. this laziness needs to pass soon or i’ll be eating carrot sticks and hummus for the month of january.

6. i finally slowed down enough to get sick. i brought in 2012 with a red wine/NyQuil cocktail and have been awake approximately 3 hours total in 2012 thus far. the only up-side is C is making me chicken soup, allowing me to prolong my laziness one more day.

7. i have some 2012 food goals to share later this week, once the head cold diminishes enough that i’m up for more than an hour at a time.

happy healthy new year!