Ceviche de Jaiba

I’ve been agonizing over this post for about two weeks now.  I’ve had a million ideas about what to write and none of them seemed to work out.  Instead of agonizing any further, let’s talk about what led up to the amazing recipe I’m going to share with you… It all started with a hike… a 10 mile hike to a bridge where people were bungee jumping.  If you’re in the LA area and have never been to the Bridge to Nowhere, I recommend it.

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Given how NOT graceful I am when it comes to balance, I’m really impressed that I could cross streams on rocks and logs.  I think the hike is medium difficulty, and overall really fun.  It took us about five and a half hours.  On the way back, we were all ready to be done, because it was hot and we ran out of water.  Clearly a bad combo.  Next time, I’m bringing a water filter and a swim suit.  There were tons of little pools in the stream for swimming.  It would have been great to swim given the heat.

That particular day, my legs were sore.  The previous week, I had hurt my arm at crossfit.  While I let it heal, I modified all my workouts to involve only lower body movements.  Basically I just squatted and ran for a week.  Then on Saturday, Allison and I ran.  So by Sunday, my legs were toast.  This hike did them in.  By the end of the hike, all I wanted to do was drink a gallon of water and sit for a bit.  Being the dream boat that he is, Jesse made this:

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I’m going to go ahead and say that this is really his recipe, but I’m sharing it with you because it’s damn delicious.  Gentlemen, make this for your lady.  She will appreciate it.

Ceviche de Jaiba

1lbs imitation crab meat, shredded (or Real Crab meat)
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 4 limes
salt to taste
Avocado and Chips/Tostadas, for serving  

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Serve with sliced avocado on a tostada or with chips and cover in hot sauce.  Jesse likes to put ketchup on his too.  That was tasty enough but I was a big fan of the hot sauce.  You can also add fresh sliced jalapeños or habanero peppers for some extra heat.

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This ceviche with a nice cold beer was the BEST post-hike meal.  It’s light and citrus-y, and if made by a nice fella… it’s pretty much everything a girl could ask for.  I can’t wait to go on another hike and eat this again.

What’s your favorite place to hike? How about post-hike meal?

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Avocado Pesto Hummus

I’m loving the fact that it’s now light out until about 7pm.  What I’m NOT loving is that it’s still dark out when I go to the gym.  There’s nothing less motivating than waking up when it’s still dark out.

So while it’s still light out, I had all these hopes and dreams for magical creations I was going to make after work, photograph, enjoy and blog about.  Then I remembered that more cooking means more washing dishes and that suddenly sounded unappealing.  As much as I wanted to hit up Trader Joe’s for a box of Puffins for dinner, I decided to make something quick and easy.

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And seriously guys, this was all sorts of amazing.  You really need to make this, spread it on toast and stuff your face off.  That’s what I did.  Why should you?

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Make This:

    1. It’s healthy!  Lots of good fats from avocado
    2. It’s vegan! Let’s love the Earth a little bit more and eat less meat (especially if you’re in California.  There’s a drought folks!).  This spread still packs in the protein.  This whole recipe (which serves 4) has about 29g of protein!
    3. It’s crazy delicious.  Seriously.  So good.
    4. Avocado. Enough said.
    5. It’s ready in about 3 minutes, and you’re hungry so what are you waiting for?

BONUS REASON: It’s a great excuse to eat bread, not that you need one. Avocado Pesto Hummus 3

Avocado Pesto Hummus

1 can (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, heaping
1 small handful of fresh basil leaves (I used about 7 large leaves)
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix (which is what I used).  Pulse until combined.  I wanted mine a little bit chunky so I didn’t pulse it too long, but if you want it smooth you can do that too.

Avocado Pesto Hummus 1

Spread on your favorite bread or serve with pita chips or raw veggies and enjoy!

Do you need any more convincing?  I’m not sure how else to tell you this is basically delicious and awesome for you.  Eat it up!

Are you an avocado lover? Please tell me you are!

What It’s Like to Do a Juice Cleanse

Juice cleanses are EXTREMELY popular these days.  In general, I try to shy away from fad diets (oh yeah remember, Paleo? No thanks!), but I decided to give a juice cleanse a try for one reason: I don’t really see it as a fad diet, because you don’t generally do it for more than a few days.

I see juice cleanses as more of a reset button.  A way to get you back on track.  A lot of people concentrate on the healthy eating reset aspect of a juice cleanse, but I was reading The Juice Cleanse Reset Diet and one of the authors mentioned how she was over-worked, stressed and not feeling great and juicing really helped her.

That really spoke to me.  I usually try to avoid talking about work on my blog, but recently, it’s been really stressful.  I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ve had terrible headaches for days on end, and it’s been affecting my mood and energy level.  This morning when I woke up (after yet again sleeping through Crossfit, something that makes me really angry at myself), I knew I needed to change something.

Now before I go any further, I should tell you, I work at Ritual Wellness on the weekends.  So I’m very familiar with their cleanses and their juices.  All their juices are cold-pressed and certified organic, which in my opinion is important.  Why bother to do a juice cleanse if you’re going to concentrate pesticides along with your nutrients?

Ritual is a pretty awesome company owned and operated by two inspiring women.  I’ve been working there for a few months, not really wanting to do a juice cleanse, but enjoying the positive healthy environment.  But then yesterday, I decided I needed something to reset myself.

Just as a full disclaimer: I am an employee of Ritual Wellness, but I purchased this cleanse on my own and the opinions are my own.

1 Day Cleanse

That morning I woke up with big dark bags under my eyes and I knew something had to change.  So I drove over to the Ritual JuiceBox at the CAMP on my way to work (job #1, NOT at Ritual) and picked up a one-day Seasonal Reset Cleanse.  If you’re in the OC area, you can stop by any one of the 3 locations and pick up a cleanse (if not you can order online and have it delivered to your door).  It’s super easy.  At the store, you can sample all the flavors to make sure you like them and go home with a cleanse you’ll like.  I picked up the Season Reset Cleanse, but instead of the seasonal flavor, which is Cranberry Orange right now, I chose Red Energy because I like it better.   So here it goes…

8:30am: Juice #1: Green Lemon: Lemon, Spinach, Romaine, Kale, Celery, Cucumber, Green Apple

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I started drinking this in the car right after picking it up.  I really like this juice, but I’ll be honest, you might not.  That’s true for all the juices, not just this one.  Green juices are an acquired taste, because they don’t taste like the boxed crap from concentrate that we’re used to.

The good thing is, the more you drink them, the more you love them.  If you rarely eat vegetables and are a little picky, you probably won’t think they taste amazing, but really that’s the whole point of the cleanse for many: to reset your palate so you learn to like fruits and vegetables.

I also had a cup of black coffee when I got to work, because I’m addicted. I already had a headache when I woke up, so I didn’t want to make it worse.

10:30am: Juice #2: Red Energy: Beet, Apple, Carrot, Pear, Celery

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I love Red Energy.  It’s just plain tasty (in my opinion). It was a welcome treat mid-morning.  I realized it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get through a bottle, so I constantly feel like I’m consuming something.  I’m generally not hungry in the mornings so this was no problem for me.

1:00pm: Juice #3: Spicy Greens: Romaine, Ginger, Pineapple, Turmeric, Cucumber, Celery, Lime, Parsley

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Probably my least favorite of the juices, but still tasty.  Started to feel mildly hungry around this hour (or maybe it just feels like lunch time?), the juice and water helped.

Note: by this point I’ve had about 30 ounces of water in addition to the juice.  I’ve peed probably 10 times… TMI?

3:30pm: Juice #4: Spicy Lemonade: Alkaline Water, Raw Agave, Lemon, Cayenne

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I meant to have this one at 3:00pm, but I had a meeting from 3-:330, so I held off until after.  I think since I was busy I haven’t had a chance to think about hunger at all.  But surprisingly I’m not that hungry and I definitely don’t feel sluggish.  So that’s a plus!

5:30pm: Juice #5: Sweet Greens: Kale, Romaine, Cucumber, Spinach, Celery, Green Apple

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I had this one a little bit after I got home.  I do this thing where I walk in the door and set the timer for 10-15 minutes.  In those 10-15 minutes I pick up or clean something.  Then after those things are done, I can relax.

The first sip I had of sweet greens was amazing.  I love that you can taste the apple (although you might not notice it at first).  I had been looking forward to sweet greens all day, because I know I like it.

7:30pm: Juice #6: Cashew Crunch: Cashews, Vanilla, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Raw Agave

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The last one of the day.  I was totally ready to have this and be set for the night.  Then Jesse came over and ate a burrito in front of me.  #FML

The smell made my stomach growl, but the cashew crunch was very satisfying so I resisted the burrito.  I’ve had Cashew Crunch a lot for breakfast.  It usually does a good job of keeping me satisfied through lunch.  So as the last juice on the cleanse it was great to have something so satisfying.

I slept well and the next morning I woke up feeling like I could do another day.  For me the decision to only do a 1-day cleanse was largely a cost factor.  I’m currently in money-saving mode, but otherwise I would have liked to try another day or two.  If we’re being honest, yes the juices are expensive, but what do you expect with 3lb of organic produce in each bottle?

I’m sure to get the full benefits of a reset palate and more detoxing, 3-5 days is more the ideal cleanse length, but I still think I benefitted from a 1 day cleanse.  I got the feeling of reseting my body (as cheesy as that sounds) and de-stress for a day.  I think the fact that I didn’t have to think about meals or anything was great, the juices were packed and ready to consume.

I was surprised that I wasn’t hungrier throughout the day (and I didn’t crave anything).  But I suppose that makes sense, you’re consuming something every few hours.

Overall, I’d love to try this again.  And maybe I’ll decided to do a longer cleanse in the future, but right now my budget is keeping me at a 1-day cleanse.

What about you? Have you ever tried a juice cleanse or wanted to try one? 

First Birthday Cake

Today is my nephew’s first birthday! I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since he was born.  The kid just keeps getting cuter.

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This past week I’ve been agonizing over the fact that I was going to make him a birthday cake.  I started feeling extremely guilty that I was going to make a 1 year old a mini birthday cake full of sugar and fat, because at this point he’s too little to actually know he wants it. Earlier this week, my guilt got the best of me and I decided I was going to make a (refined) sugar-free cake.

I tried out a recipe, and it was a flop.  The next day I discussed it with the baby-daddy (aka my brother-in-law) and he made a good point: It’s his birthday.  He’s NEVER eaten cake. He probably won’t again until his next birthday.  It’s ok for him to have cake on his birthday.

That’s when I decided to make a regular cake.  Despite the fact that I felt like I was killing his little insides and firing up a sugar addiction, the reality is, that’s probably not true.

Graham is getting this cake.

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It’s the Little Banana Cake with some whipped cream as filling and icing.  I made this a few months ago, but this time even littler.  I think it’s kinda cute and I can’t wait to see him dig into it.

What do you think? Should we give One-Year-Olds a regular cake or a lower sugar version?

P.S. Obviously I don’t have kids and am not an expert. I’m just a loving aunt who doesn’t want her nephew to develop a sugar addiction.  So feel free to comment regardless of whether or not you have kids.

P.P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRAHAM!

New Years Resolutions or Why I Won’t Be Making Any This Year

This morning I woke up and felt fat.   So I went through every fad diet in my mind and for about 5 minutes resolved to be a vegan, paleo, juice cleanser who Crossfits and runs marathons in 2014.

Then I walked back into reality and decided that’s just dumb.

Every so often I feel the need to make drastic changes in my diet and time and time again it all reverts back to the same thing: don’t eat so much and move yourself.  The beginning of the year is the perfect time to pine over diets and dream about the possibilities of being skinny if we just cut out a few major food groups.

Everyone is in diet mode and we all decide we’re going to never eat another cookie again our lives.  Then we go on Pinterest, see this photo

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and get hungry and eat 15 cookies.  So let’s just skip that part and just try to be healthy.

That’s my resolution (slightly rephrased): eat when hungry, stop when full, move yourself.

But resolutions aside, I do have some goals for this New Year.  In 2014, I’d like to:

  1. Be able to do at least 1 unassisted pull-up and 10 unbroken double unders.
  2. Read at least 14 books.  Currently reading: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.  Enjoyable. Up next will probably be: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.  After that… who knows.  But I took a step in the right direction and made a Good Reads account.
  3. Make cheese (something I said I would do last year but did only once).
  4. And bread! All sorts of bread would be fun!
    ChallahLike I used to! Challah! (lame pun intended)
  5. Go on vacation again.  Now is the time to travel. Peru and China were awesome the past two years.  I’d love to go to Thailand, Costa Rica, or Jamaica.  But I guess I’d compromise on this goal and save money instead.  We’ll see…

What are your goals for 2014?

Farm Fresh to You: Get Produced Delivered, Eat More Vegetables

I’m going to be honest. This is not what I had in mind for dinner tonight.

salad

I had a salad for lunch and because I’m all about balance, I’m generally of the belief that if I had a salad for lunch, I’m certainly not having one for dinner.  But here I am.  Having a salad for dinner after I had one for lunch.  I don’t want to be one of those girls.  I’m not one of those girls.

Let me tell you the story of this salad, because really it started a few weeks ago.

Several weeks ago, Living Social was running a deal for Farm Fresh to You. It’s like a CSA delivered to your house, but instead of buying in at the beginning of the season, you can just order whenever you want it and pay weekly.  So I saw the deal: $15 for a delivery box of vegetables.

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If you used to read my blog when I was in grad school, you’ll know that I had a CSA share in Ithaca, NY from the Early Morning Farm and I absolutely loved it.  Every week I was so excited to pick up my share at the farmer’s market.  I got to try new and exciting vegetables like rhubarb and kohlrabi.  For a foodie writing her thesis on Sustainable Food Systems, you can probably imagine how amazing that was for me.

When I left Ithaca, I was sad that I wouldn’t have a CSA share to pick up weekly anymore. CSA shares in Southern California are basically twice as expensive as my share was in Ithaca (I paid about $20 per week back then).  So I was bummed.  I couldn’t afford to get one.  Let’s be honest, healthy living can be expensive.  (Remember how I got a second job to pay for Crossfit… omm yeah).

So when I saw this Living Social deal for Farm Fresh to You, I was all over it.  Last week, I placed my order and my box arrived today.  I had it delivered to my office because I was worried I wouldn’t be home when they delivered it and the heat wave here has been rough.  Now let me tell you, during my drive home, I was thinking about all the possible things to have for dinner, completely forgetting the box was in the backseat.

By the time I got home I had pretty much decided I wanted polenta with a poached egg.  But then I remembered the box full of vegetables.  I unpacked them and saw everything that was inside:

  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 2 delicata squash
  • 1lb potatoes
  • 3 apples
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 pears
  • 1 pack of Berry Kiwi
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 bunch of carrots

That’s when I remembered: Oh yeah, I used to eat salads all the time because that shit goes bad real fast AND I hate to waste food. There’s no two ways around it, you have to be a voracious vegetable eater if the box is just for you (and that’s the case for me, since I live alone).

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And you know what goes bad first?  Lettuce.  You can wrap it in a paper towel to keep it crisper longer, but let’s be honest, it’s not making it past 4 days.  I wish the box included kale instead of lettuce… but alas not reality.  So that’s when I knew salad was for dinner.

Instead of that polenta and poached egg dinner I had in mind, I threw together a salad of lettuce, carrot, edamame and a Moringstar Farms Veggie Patty.  For dressing, I mixed together some natural peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sriracha and vegetable broth, for a little Asian inspiration (Note: that’s basically how you make the dipping sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

So you’re probably thinking… good for you! Pat on the back for having a salad! Who gives a crap!?! 

Well really the whole point of all this was to tell you one of the top benefits of having one of these produce delivery services (or a CSA share) and why I’m considering getting it again: it forces you to eat more vegetables.  And not just that… organic vegetables, even better!

Farm Fresh to You brought my count of vegetables for the day from 4 to 6 (plus 3 servings of fruit).  While I probably would have added spinach to my polenta with poached eggs, the box diversified my vegetable intake, because I already had spinach in my smoothie this morning.  Even better, different nutrients!

Overall: I was pleased with what was in the box.  It had a little too much fruit for my liking, but I love the idea.  I think in the future I’ll just choose the vegetable-only box.  I’m all for eating more organic vegetables, because with a sweet tooth like mine, I can always use extra vegetables to balance it out (I’ll be completely honest, after the salad I had a spoonful of peanut butter mixed with sweetened condensed milk for dessert… I know… we won’t talk about it anymore).

Oh and just so you know, I was not compensated by Farm Fresh to You.  I bought the Living Social deal on my own and these are just my opinions.

Have you tried a produce delivery service?  Did you like it?

Life After the Paleo Challenge

A few months ago, I was frustrated with my body and how I felt.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that your diet can affect how you feel about yourself. So I decided I wanted to try to do a 30 Day Paleo Challenge.

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Remember that?

Yeah I had a terrible time and ended the challenge after 14 days.  It’s funny because I was miserable but that post has become one of the most popular posts on my blog (after Samoas Bars and Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash).  Paleo really wasn’t for me, and I came to terms with the fact that I need to listen to my body and NOT force a lifestyle on myself just because it’s popular.

Today, I went to lunch with some co-workers to 118 Degrees.  It’s a raw, vegan restaurant.  Afterward, another co-worker who didn’t go with us, asked me what I thought.  I said it was tasty.  He suggested I try a vegan diet for 30 days.

I said no thanks.

I’m not against vegans.  As a former vegetarian, I’m ok with meat-free meals.  But the real reason I said no is I think I’ve finally figured out what works for me.  So I figured I’d go ahead and tell you a little bit about how I figured it out.

Note: this is just what I’ve found works for me.  I’m not a nutritionist or advocating you eat the way I do.  I’m just sharing what works for me in hopes it’ll help you figure out what works for you. 

It’s All About Balance

This is going to sound cheesy, but what works for me is balance.  I know you’ve heard it a million times, but really, being able to have everything in moderation keeps me sane.  So just to give you a little bit of a breakdown, this is what an average day look like:

Breakfast:

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Green Smoothie: 1/2 frozen banana, 5-6 frozen mango chunks, handful of spinach, handful of kale, protein powder, water and ice.

After I did my search for the best protein powder, I bought some Garden of Life Vanilla protein.  Then Garden of Life was nice enough to send me some Raw Fit to try, it has more protein and green coffee bean extract and a bunch of other stuff.  That stuff is seriously amazing.  Flavor-wise, the vanilla raw protein is better tasting, but Raw Fit seriously keeps me full for 4-5 hours.  And that’s even after crossfit.  I’m amazed.  I hate to sound like an ad for Garden of Life, but I’m definitely buying the Raw Fit as soon as I run out.

Lunch:

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I rarely ever buy lunch.  Honestly, most weeks I eat the exact same thing for lunch everyday, just because I cook once per week and eat leftovers.

When putting together my meals, I try to keep this ratio in mind: 2 parts vegetable, 1 part whole grain, 1 part protein.

So here are some examples of lunches I’ve been having recently:

  • Tilapia with cumin and paprika, with Quinoa Salad
  • Kale salad (just kale with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper) with ground turkey cooked in spices with bulgur wheat
  • Kale salad with rotisserie chicken and rice
  • Kale salad (can you tell I’m obsessed) with a veggie patty

Honestly, I eat a lot of kale salad because it holds up well and there’s no cooking involved.  I can throw it together in the morning, put dressing (really just olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper) on it and it’s not soggy and gross like other salads would be by lunch.  Also, I just think it tastes good, which is important.  Lunch should be fun, even if it’s healthy.

Dinner:

meatsauceoverpolentaOk I wish this was my dinner all the time but yeah right.

Especially now that it’s been hot, the last thing I want to do is cook, but I’ve been trying.  Either way, the fact that breakfast and lunch were so healthy makes me feel better about eating a banana with peanut butter and ice cream for dinner.  Not that I recommend that, but baby steps right?

But I’ve been working on it.  Recently I’ve made:

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  • Grilled Pizza and grilled corn
  • Grilled Tilapia

Now that it gets cooler, I’ll concentrate on making more stews (which I’m a huge fan of). Like:

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Caldo de Pollo

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Coconut Curry

In a Nutshell…

Overall, I feel better about life.  And honestly, making sure I go to Crossfit at least 3 times a week really helps.

But in terms of diet, I’ve found a few key things:

1. More protein early in the day helps keep me fuller longer.  Raw Fit has 28g of protein per serving.  That’s a lot.  I’m thinking of trying two scoops of the raw protein when I run out of Raw Fit to see how that tastes/feels (that would be 32g of protein, woah! too much?).

2. Whole grains help keep me full and satisfied.  I still try not to eat too much bread, because that’s processed but I’ve been having of whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, and barley.  But even then, I usually only have about 1/2 cup at a time.  Moderation is key.

3. I like eating a lot of vegetables.  If I concentrate on having 4-5 servings of vegetables per day, I feel great and usually end up eating pretty healthy.

4. Snacks aren’t essential and actually discouraged.  I can’t really snack.  Once I start, I have a hard time stopping the consumption process until I’m full.  I’d rather just eat meals.  Might not work for everyone but works for me.

5. Nothing is off limits.  I’m more likely to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full when I don’t feel like I can’t have a certain food.  On the Paleo challenge, I remember I was constantly thinking about what I could eat.  Lately, I just haven’t found myself worrying about that, which is great.  I mean, let’s be honest, as a foodie, I constantly think of food, but now it’s things I want to make, as opposed to thinks I want to eat.  That said, I am conscious to not over eat certain things.  I always want to eat 3 pieces of cake and 4 slices of pizza, but I stop myself because I can always have more later when I’m hungry if I still want it.  So while I can have everything, that doesn’t mean stuff my face to the point of feeling ill.  I’m definitely guilty of doing that at times, but I’m trying to keep it under wraps.

In retrospect, I’m still glad I tried Paleo for a few weeks (despite how miserable it was).  I still think if you haven’t found what works for you, you should definitely give it a try, because it could be amazing for you.

I just found that lots of vegetables with some grain and protein is the best strategy for me.  No labels, just real food.  Overall, I try to eat well 70-80 percent of the time.   That helps keep me happy and healthy.

The other 20-30 percent of the time involves things like this…

IMG_8958Oh wait, that was only true when I lived in Italy.  Now it looks more like this…

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Because Bacon = ‘Merika!

I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to eat less of that stuff, but I guess that’s the lifelong struggle of a sugar addict?

Have you figured out what works for you? Do you love paleo? Is a vegetarian or vegan diet what keeps you happy or healthy? Are you still figuring it out?  Tell me where you’re at!