Definitions and Overriding Principles of Paleo and Healthy Eating

You see that I often write about living a Paleo lifestyle (why I started, shopping guide, beginner’s guide). My family and I try to live a healthy lifestyle. This extends to cleaning products, recycling, skin/bodycare and more. But the biggest area I write about is food. I tweet and Facebook about food a lot. Sometimes recipes from my Paleo recipe site, and sometimes general information about healthy eating. There are sooooo many schools of thought and philosophies on healthy eating. I’m not an expert. I’m not saying my way is the only way. I’ve embraced Paleo and I’ve run with it. But if you don’t want to jump into Paleo 100%, there are other ways you can improve your diet and your overall health with what you eat, and more importantly, what you do not eat.

What’s more important than whether or not you follow Paleo are the definitions and overriding principles of healthy eating in general. These Here are some terms and phrases you may see me write about…and many of these I did not know until this past year:

GMO (genetically modified organism):

A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Yummy right? And there are genetically modified foods and crops. Most of the have been created so crops are resistant to pests, herbicides or environmental conditions. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to eat a science experiment, so I stay away from foods with GMOs. It’s not easy to do, however, because GMOs are in a LOT of foods. If a product is organic, it does NOT have GMOs. Also, all Trader Joe’s branded products are GMO-free.

Picking fruits and veggies from our CSA. Organic. Non-GMO. Whole foods. Gluten-free.


Gluten-free = no gluten. Sounds great right? Well, just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it is healthy. You can find gluten-free baked goods, pizzas and processed foods which can still be bad for you. Whenever possible, stick to whole foods (see next item) and if you need a fix or a treat, make it yourself…that way you know the quality of the ingredients.

Whole foods

No, not the grocery store. Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. Fruits, vegetables, unpolished grains, beans, non-homogenized dairy. While I don’t necessary eat all of these listed (grains and beans are a no-no on Paleo), if you stick to this type of diet, it is inherently healthier.

Whole Foods

Yes, the store. Just because you shop at Whole Foods does not mean you are buying healthy foods. You must be a discerning customer. Whole Foods sells both organic and conventional foods, so read signs and labels. Whole Foods also sells foods that contain GMOs. And they DO NOT label all the products that have GMOs so be aware (they have committed to doing so by 2016, however in my opinion, they should not carry products containing GMOs). I do frequently shop at Whole Foods, but just beware and be educated.

Grass-fed beef

Mark’s Daily Apple wrote up a great post on the grass-fed beef and I think you should read it. Basically, I stick with organic, grass-fed beef.

Processed foods

Basically, any food not in its natural state. An apple = not processed. Twinkie = processed. That may be a drastic example but you get the point.

Organic Foods

According to wikipedia, organic foods are:

…foods that are produced using methods of organic farming — that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

 We buy organic foods whenever possible. I mean, do pesticides, chemical fertilizers irradiation, solvents and additives sound healthy? Yeah, didn’t think so.


Dairy products are food products processed from the milk of mammals. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream…but NOT EGGS! Even though eggs are in the dairy section of the grocery store, they are not dairy. Eggs come from chickens.

Grains & Legumes

If you follow Paleo, you avoid grains and legumes. What you may not realize is that includes corn (grain) and peanuts (legumes). Other nuts are fine. Just not peanuts, because they are not really a nut.

Wild vs. Farm Raised Fish

I took this passage from this CNN piece:

A 2003 report from the Environmental Working Group showed that farmed salmon in the U.S. has the highest levels of PCBs, toxic man-made chemicals. And a widely publicized study in the journal Science in January 2004 suggested that farmed Atlantic salmon had higher levels of PCBs and other toxics than wild Pacific salmon.

Umm…..nuff said for me. I stay with wild seafood.

So those are some of the terms you may hear or read from me. Have any others that you are curious or confused about? Let me know!


Weekly Meal Plan

Hi everyone! Here is our weekly menu. I’m trying to post more and more recipes over at my new Paleo site, Making It Paleo. It’s new but I’m trying to get a few new recipes up every week so check it out.

My Weekly Menu

If you’ve been following my blog, you know my husband and I live a Paleo lifestyle. One of the things that makes this easier is to plan our meals. I’ve been inspired by one of my favorite bloggers Emily at Random Recycling to blog my weekly menu…so here it is!

I’m working on getting my act together to also provide links to these recipes. They are all Paleo’ish :)


Starting Paleo: A Beginner’s Guide

As many of you know, I’ve been living Paleo since May when my husband put me on a diet. Yup, you read that right. And it’s the best thing I’ve done. I feel good (healthy and more energy) and I look good (not trying to be snotty but I lost 14 lbs) and it just feels like the right thing to do.

Trust me, it was NOT easy for me to start it, especially as a life long carb lover. I once tried Atkins and lasted three hours.

I get a lot of people asking how to start, so this post is for you!

The Basics

  • Eat organic, grass-fed meats. Nuts. Veggies and fruits. Eggs (not dairy even though they are in the dairy section…but they come from chickens, not cows)
  • Do not eat anything processed. Dairy. Legumes (which includes peanuts). Grains.

Visiting the farm where we get our grass-fed beef

Follow the right people on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest

This may be the right time to hide Paula Dean, or all the Cupcake Bakers you follow. It’s not that you love them any less, but you just need to focus. Some of my favorite people to follow are:

  • Just Eat Real Food – I’m obsessed with this page. It’s not 100% Paleo but typically follows a Paleo/Primal philosophy and posts amazing recipes from other sites, as well as articles and research. It’s my favorite research. TIP: When you see a good recipe, click into the link and follow to where it originated….then Pin it to Pinterest.
  • Twitter – It’s tough to navigate the good vs the bad on Twitter sometimes. I’d like my Paleo Twitter list to grow so please offer suggestions. I love @robbwolf – this is the main Paleo guy that my husband follows and reads. Unfortunately you find a lot of heavy-duty cross-fit or body-building people who also eat Paleo…but I think it’s tough to find the right people to follow that “jive” with you.
  • Pinterest – I used to think Pinterest was making me fat, but I’ve realized you can also find really healthy, good for you recipes here.

Get a cookbook or two 

I bought Everyday Paleo by Stacey Fragoso and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain to kick things off. I needed inspiration to start cooking and didn’t know where to find it. There are some great recipes in these books, but after a few weeks, I found that I didn’t really need them any longer…I was able to just cook things up from on my own, or learn to use “normal” recipes and replace non-paleo ingredients. I refer to the Just Eat Real Food Facebook most often now for inspiration. I also bought Paleo Indulgences and it’s awesome to test out some “baked” goods and other “cheat” foods.

Throw Away the Bad Stuff

I know this is a lot easier said than done, but I’ve done it and so can you. Throw away the processed stuff. I know this is hard if you have kids who love snacks. But as much as you can, get rid of the stuff that you snack on. Get ride of the pastas and the rice. The cookies, the crackers. Even the “healthy” things like quinoa…GONE. I had a lot of boxes of unopened food that I delivered to the local food bank.

Shop and Stock Your Kitchen

I’ve written about how to shop Paleo. It’s important when you start Paleo to have a kitchen stocked with fruits and veggies and real food. Some of the key things to get include:

  • Organic chicken
  • Organic grass-fed beef
  • Nuts like almonds and pecans
  • Organic fruits and veggies. If you are trying to lose weight, don’t load up on sweet potatoes or bananas, but if you are doing it for the health value, they are fine. I’ve found having a lot of celery, carrots and peppers around to slice and snack on are great for when I’m wanting a crunchy snack (when I used to reach for chips!).

Snacks from our Paleo 4th of July Party

Beware of the so-called healthy stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Regardless of where you shop, you need to follow my guidelines for shopping Paleo. Even in the organic stores, you basically shop the perimeter of the store, unless your store has an organic section in the middle. All the stuff in the center of the store is likely processed and therefore not Paleo.

I’ve actually become a huge fan of Trader Joe’s through this process as they have great organic chicken and fruits and veggies. Even for the processed stuff I still buy for my carb-loving 3 1/2 year old, I’ve migrated away from all the “big brands” and over to Trader Joe’s. No more Cheerios, Rice Krispies, etc. (because they contain GMO’s) and we now buy all the Trader Joe’s products which do not contain GMO’s. The little one loves their version of Cheese-Its, Graham Crackers, cereals and more. (The GMO discussion is for another post…information overload! But google it if you wish.).

Make It a Family Lifestyle Change

If you are the only one in your house committed to Paleo, it will be difficult. That’s why I say get rid of the temptations. And don’t let age factors inhibit you. My youngest daughter who is almost 18 months is actually about 90% paleo…except for the oatmeal she loves and cereal bars we snack on. My older daughter, the 3 1/2 year-old carb loader is another story, but one day….

Start Strong and then Understand It’s Okay to Cheat Once in a While

I started of 100% Paleo for about 6 weeks. I had to…it was the only way. In that time, I lost about 10 pounds and felt healthier. It truly became a lifestyle, not a diet. Then, once in a while, I allow myself to cheat. Usually 2-3 times per week. At first, I felt like I couldn’t wait to cheat…and now, I realize some of the foods I want to cheat with make me feel awful.

About three months into Paleo, my kids were staying with their grandparents and my husband and I had the night and next morning to ourselves. We went out to breakfast where I ordered my favorite, coconut french toast. I felt like death after I ate it. It wasn’t food poisoning, but rather the gluten. Since being on Paleo, I’ve noticed I have a gluten intolerance, yet if I cheat with dairy, there are not issues or repercussions.

Some of my favorite cheats include ice cream, pizza and Mexican food.

Don’t be THAT Dinner Guest

Paleo isn’t a binding set of rules that if you break them, you’ll be damned. If we go to friends house and they decide to order pizza for dinner, I eat it. If they cook and serve rice or pasta with dinner, I try to load up on the meat and veggies and then skip the processed carbs. But guess what…at this point eight months in, if I want it, I eat it. I notice though I don’t WANT to eat the bad stuff nearly as much….it’s truly become a lifestyle.


I am by no means an expert on this. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. I’ve been on the Paleo journey for eight months and I’ve seen results. 

Making It Paleo: New Year’s Eve Extravaganza

We went all out for our New Year’s Eve party this year. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with some great friends, and my sister-in-law who was visiting from Seattle. We had an amazing Paleo’ish party to ring in the new year.



  • Buffalo cauliflower – my sister-in-law made this following a recipe she found here. We didn’t want to use rice flour so tried almond flour and it was good. Later in the week, we tested with coconut flour (yuck) and also tried without any flour and it was just as good! I can’t lie though, I had to dip in some blue cheese dressing :)
  • Assorted raw veggies
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Nuts


  • Corn and crab chowder – dairy and gluten-free! (while I know corn isn’t Paleo, this chowder is too delish not to eat!)
  • Filet Mignon on the grill cooked just perfectly medium
  • Green beans in marinara sauce (beans aren’t Paleo but there are a few little cheats in here). My friend made the marinara herself and it was delicious. I didn’t miss the pasta!
  • Green salad with carrots and tomatoes


  • Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting – these were good…these were really good!!! Even my little picky eater ate one.
  • Coconut milk creme brulee – the flavor was great but it didn’t set as firm as I’d have liked it…I’d be willing to test it out again though and try to set for longer.
  • Eggnog – the flavor of the eggnog was good…but I could do just a smaller portion next time. Maybe a shot? We also added a LOT of rum to it…maybe too much :)


Yeah, I’m never one to turn down a chance to dress up! And if you know me at all, whether IRL or via the blog, you’re probably not surprised at all that I’m wearing my leather leggings. They are a staple in my wardrobe this winter and I’d wear them every day if I could. I paired them with a black sweater with sequin shoulder trim, a black studded cross body bag, black booties, a leopard print scarf and a sock bun! Sweater from Forever21. (similar here and here). Leather leggings from Forever21(similar here and here). Leopard print scarf from TJMaxx (similar here). Studded bag from H&M (similar here and here). Shoes are Christian Louboutin. 


It was awesome to celebrate with some close friends and my sister-in-law.


The party started at 3pm and we were on our way home before 8pm!!!

Happy New Year and best wishes for the most amazing 2013!


My Paleo Shopping Guide

I’ve talked about my new Paleo lifestyle before in the past when I told everyone that my husband put me on a diet. I’ve been eating Paleo since May and I’m loving it. Aside from losing 14 pounds, I just feel better.

Paleo has transformed me and my life, and also my shopping. I basically shop the perimeter of the grocery store. And not even just the regular grocery store, same applies for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Since we stay away from all processed foods (as well as dairy and gluten), that eliminates the center aisles for the most part. My grocery list includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables – I try to buy fresh, local organic whenever possible. But also buy frozen organic when fruits are not in season. We don’t buy organic bananas or a few other things because it’s not necessary. We love to have the kitchen stocked with apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, peppers, onions, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes and brussel sprouts.
  • Eggs – We should probably buy a chicken….we buy a lot of organic omega 3 eggs
  • Organic, grass-fed meats – We typically buy our red meat from a local farm, and also find organic chicken at Trader Joe’s
  • Some nuts – We stay away from peanuts but love raw almonds

And that’s it! I do buy some things for my children in the center aisles, but I’m slowly trying to get them away from all the processed stuff too! We make gluten-free pancakes and baked goods, and integrate almond milk instead of cow’s milk where ever we can.


Do I cheat? Of course I do! Pizza is one of my favorite foods and I do indulge in a regular pizza now and then. But I’ve also found some “paleo” pizza recipes that are delish! And other items, I’ll order a gluten-free pizza. Cheese is also another craving that I indulge in once in a while.

Overall, I’ve found that my shopping trips are much faster now…and the food in my cart is so much healthier! The only downside…there are never coupons for “healthy” foods. What’s your shopping routine?

My husband put me on a diet

Disney with #2 in early May

Yup. It’s true. My husband put me on a diet.

But it’s not as bad as it sounds. Really. I promise.

Rewind to January of this year. It was 5+ months after the birth of my second daughter. I had a tougher time with my second c-section and it took me a while to get into the groove of having two children. I think I often forget how much my body deals with during pregnancy and after a c-section. Anyway, I was having some medical issues and I saw my primary care doctor. A lot of blood tests later, I was seeing a rheumatologist who did more blood work.

To be honest, nothing definitive came from any of my doctors visits or blood work. However the conclusion was “something isn’t right.” Yes….I paid for that diagnosis.

Lunch with June at Disney Hollywood Studios in May

My blood work did show that there was a chance I have rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. No, I don’t have a PhD but I also don’t believe I have either of those diseases. I just don’t. But those are inflammatory diseases.

I talked to my husband about everything and his solution was to put me on a diet. Yes, really. But not THAT kind of diet. Weight loss was not his intention. Getting me healthy was. I often refer to my husband as Mr. Fitness. For those who know him, you know why. He’s a trainer and a fitness coach for a pro soccer team. So the title seems appropriate. Anyway….he’s been eating “Paleo” for over a year and suggested I try it. Notice I don’t say “he’s on a diet” because that just sounds strange.

Paleo is a lifestyle really…it’s not just a diet. You can google it and find much more “expert” explanation of what it is an what it isn’t. There are some great experts such as Rob Wolfe. But simply put, it’s a way of eating like a caveman.

You can eat:

  • Meat (organic, grassfed)
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables (not corn, which is a grain, not a vegetable)
  • Fruits
  • Nuts (except for peanuts which aren’t really nuts at all, they are legumes)
  • Seeds

You can’t eat:

  • Dairy (eggs are not dairy, even though they are sold in the dairy section at the grocery store)
  • Peanuts
  • Beans
  • Anything processed

That’s the simplest way to break it down.

So why did my husband recommend this to me? Because all the things you CAN’T eat cause inflammation. And if my body thinks I have an inflammatory disease, he suggested I “clean” my body of those inflammation causing foods and see what happens. He recommend I try it for 6 weeks and see how I feel, and more importantly, how my next blood test come out.


I like pizza. I like peanut butter. I like milk and cheese. I love Mexican. I love cookies. And cake. And pie.

And I don’t like my husband telling me what to do…especially when it comes to eating.

But he was right. Yes, I said it. He was right.

I reluctantly started in mid-May.

At the beach in August

Within two weeks I lost 6 pounds. Three months later, I lost 14 pounds. And remember, weight loss was not my intention….but it was an awesome side effect and the main reason I have kept with Paleo.

My doctor’s appointment has been reschedule multiple times and is later this week. It will be interesting to see what the blood work reveals from a medical side. But I feel amazing.  I have more energy and I just feel better. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what that means, but I feel different. And after having a little trouble shedding the final 10 pounds after my second daughter, it was easy to lose the weight on Paleo.

For the first six weeks, I was was almost 100% Paleo. Now I allow myself a few cheat meals a week (usually on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). Some of my cheat meals are worth it…and after others, I feel sick.

There are some things I haven’t been able to part with. I still use peanut butter in smoothies and on apples. I still put sugar in my coffee (and sometimes when out, use milk). But compared to the way I used to eat, it’s a HUGE difference.

I’ll be writing posts about how to stay Paleo when you are out to eat and sharing some great Paleo recipes. Is there anything you’d like to know? Do you have any great Paleo recipes you’ve tried? Let me know…. Oh, and I’ll be sure to share the results of my next doctor’s appointment.