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Costco Paleo Staples – Part 2

In case you missed the first one…check it out here.

I know that some of you may not have Costco memberships or even have one near you but please know that a lot of these items can be found at your local grocery store.  Also, I understand that not every Costco is the same so you may or may not be able to find all of these things at your Costco.  I know that it can be useful to see what other folks buy to help get you started on a whole foods diet.  I also like comparing the cost.  Shop around at your local stores and figure out what staples are least expensive at the stores that you frequent.

If you have the opportunity-do a tour at your local Costco to get an idea about what staples you might purchase there.  If you’ve got several things in mind that you know you’ll buy several times a year than a membership is most likely worth it.  But you have to do the math for yourself.

Here’s a few things that I picked up during a recent Costco trip.  All are clean, whole food items that are staples in my house.

1.  Organic Baby Spinach:  1 pound of pre-washed spinach for $3.99

I like adding spinach to our salads or mixing into sauces.  It’s fresh and crunchy.  This is a huge container of spinach so I’ll have to get creative on how to use it up before it goes bad.  I always put a paper towel in the container to help soak up extra moisture.  This helps it keep a bit longer.

2.  Organic Chicken Thighs:  3.77 pounds for $14.84.  It’s not pasture raised chicken but it is what fits in my budget.  I feel like buying the organic chicken is the next best thing…although I know that “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken didn’t eat corn/soy/wheat feed.  It’s a step above factory farmed in my opinion, but if organic doesn’t fit in your budget don’t worry about it.  The thighs are delicious dark meat and are small enough to grill, saute, fry really quickly.  I will share my favorite chicken thigh recipe with y’all soon.  It’s awesome!  I will cook all of these at once and use them for breakfast, lunches and quick dinners.

3.  Boscoli’s Italian Olive Salad:  32 oz. jar for $8.49.  This was a splurge for me as this is obviously not something that we really needed.  I’ve never actually purchased it before but I did try it once in the store and loved it.  The ingredients are:  olives, olive oil, cauliflower, carrots, celery, sweet peppers, black olives, capers and spices.  I’m hoping that the general “spices” ingredient doesn’t mean MSG or any other mystery spice that they can add without technically having to list.  This olive salad would make a perfect muffuletta if you ate bread…but we don’t so I’ll have to come up with some other way to eat it.  I might top a salad with the mix or just eat it plain!

4.  Kalamata Pitted Olives:  2 lb. container for $6.59.  If you love olives as much as I do then I bet you like kalamata olives.  They are a bit vinegary tasting, really rich and just down right tasty.  I will use these olives on top of salads, in sauces, or just as a plain snack.  Olives are full of healthy fats so snack away.

5.  Jumbo Stuffed Tasso Olives:  35 oz. jar for $6.79.  Obviously I was craving olives this trip!  These buggers are an awesome snack!  They are jumbo green olives stuffed with a piece of jalapeno and a piece of garlic.  They are not super spicy and the garlic isn’t too overpowering but the flavors explode in your mouth.  I will pack a few of these for lunches for us.  Again…healthy fats!  They are a bit pricey but again…they are very nutrient dense and will last us a while.

6.  Brussel Sprouts:  2 lbs. $4.29.  Brussel sprouts may possibly be my favorite vegetable.  They are easy to cook and when roasted have a nutty, rich flavor.  This is a big bag of them so I’ll usually roast them all at once and eat on them for several days.  Cut the thick ends off, cut them in half, drizzle on some melted coconut oil, shake on some spices and roast at 400 for about 20-30 minutes.  Stir them around half way through.  I used tumeric on my last batch and that was delish!

7.  Bananas:  A BIG bag for $1.39.  I realize that I had bananas on the last Costco post.  Oh well…they are a wonderful carbohydrate and I feel like that is a great price for a big bunch of bananas.  I liked these especially, because they were smaller bananas.  I don’t need a lot of sugar/carbs right now so these are the perfect size for me.  If they start going bad before we can eat them all I may make some dehydrated banana chips!  Yum!

8.  Yoga/Workout Pants:  1 pair for $19.99.  This was DEFINITELY a splurge for me this trip.  I think that these pants are the first piece of new clothing I’ve bought since late last year.  I have a pair similar to this from Costco and LOVE them.  They are flare style and are so comfy!  I love these in particular, because they come in size TALL!  If you’re a tall girl (or guy) then you know what a pain it can be to find full length workout pants (or any pants really) that are actually long enough.  These are the perfect length on me.  I wear them to workout sometimes but usually just wear them around all weekend.  I needed another pair of them (not really).  They had several different styles (all black with a colored waistband) and these are reversible to just plain black.  Love these pants!

I also bought another package of the Aidell’s Chicken Sausage for $13.99 (not shown).

My total for the trip was $88.80.

Have you been to Costco lately?  What are some of your staples that I haven’t talked about?

Please pin, share and show some comment love if you found this post useful.

Julie

 


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Favorite Paleo Kitchen Tools: Part 2

In case you missed the first riveting installment of “My Paleo Kitchen Tools” you can review part 1 here.

Riveting…

I know you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat for part 2. Wait no longer paleo people!

As I was taking photos of my kitchen tools, I was thankful to realize that I don’t actually have a ton of tools in my kitchen. Like I said before, I hate clutter with a passion and do not want to collect kitchen gadgets for the same of collecting. I want to be sure that what I show y’all are tolls that are actually useful and USED plenty in my whole foods kitchen.

1. Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet

If you don’t own a cast iron skillet go out and get one. Get a Lodge brand skillet. We’ve had this skillet for a long time, but I have only been using it regularly for about the past 6 months. We got rid of the non-stick pans we had and upgraded to stainless and cast iron only. I use it for various cooking tasks; searing meat, sauteing veggies, and just warming up leftovers (we don’t have a microwave). The more you use it-the better it gets. The one I show here is an 8 inch skillet-maybe a 12″, but I’m saving up to get a bigger one.

Here’s a few tips for using and cleaning your cast iron:

  • When you first get your cast iron-stick it in a super hot oven (400 degrees) for about 30 minutes and then once it’s still a bit warm slather the entire thing in a high heat cooking oil like coconut oil or better yet; pork fat! Let it soak in overnight. It’s a perfect start to getting a good seasoning layer. The Lodge pans all say they are “pre-seasoned” but I’d still recommend taking this extra step.
  • Do not wash with soap! Soap will totally dissolve the nice oily layer that protects your food from sticking. Food will stick on there so to clean it; pour some hot water in the pan and scrape away. I use a stiff metal spatula to scrape all the bits off. It will not come perfectly clean and that’s totally okay. I promise that a dirty cast iron skillet won’t be the thing that takes you out. We’ve got bigger concerns y’all.
  • After you scrap all the bits out put the skillet on your stove top or in the oven to dry out the water. Be sure it’s dry and slightly warm and then slather some more grease in there. The idea is that you’re building up a layer of oil over time.
  • When cooking things in your cast iron, be sure to use plenty of cooking fat. This will help prevent sticking and just tastes darn good.

2. Garlic Zoom

Yes…it’s a gadget. Yes…it’s totally unnecessary. But this little thing saves so much time it’s worth the 3 square inches that it takes up in my drawer. I’ve linked to the one I have but if you’re serious about your garlic then I’d recommend getting the XL Garlic Zoom. I sometimes want to chop a few cloves at once and mine is a bit too small. Not a big deal. Using fresh garlic in your recipes will make a BIG difference. I do still keep a little jar of minced garlic in the fridge for when I’m feeling lazy or out of fresh garlic and it’s just not the same. All you do is pop the top open on this and put in your whole clove(s) of peeled garlic and then literally zoom it on the counter top Roll it around and the blades inside do all the work. Garlic is a pain to chop with a knife alone so this makes quick work of it. This would also be a fun task for the kiddos. When it’s chopped to your liking simply tap it upside down, pop open the little lid and tap it into your dish. Garlic has some awesome nutritional and anti-bacterial properties so use it when you can.

3. Julienne Peeler

This little peeler was purchased shortly after I realized that you could substitute pasta noodles with veggie noodles in a lot of paleo recipes. It’s nearly impossible to cut small, identically sized “noodles” by hand. If you were going to make zucchini noodles with this you’d simply cut the ends off the veggie and then drag this over the veggie lengthwise. I will say that this is not the easiest thing to use but it gets the job done. It makes small, thin noodles that are great topped with marinara and meatballs! I’ve since upgraded to a spiralizer, but still use this from time to time. If you’re just getting started-go with this. You can find lots of veggie noodle recipes online. Watch your fingers…this bugger is sharp.

4. Stainless Steel Locking Tongs

I know these are super boring but I use these things so much! I’ve linked to the stainless tongs that I recommend. Now that we’ve switched to stainless and cast iron pans we can use metal utensils instead of plastic utensils. No need to worry about scratching your pans and flaking toxic non-stick crap into you food. If you do have non-stick pans you’ll need to get the tongs with the silicone ends. That’s cool too. These are handy when placing meat into a hot pan, sauteing veggies, stirring around hot roasted veggies and even grilling. Super versatile! I’d also recommend getting the kind that lock closed. They take up way less room in the drawer.

So there ya have it. Part dos of the “Favorite Kitchen Tools” series. Do you have or use any of these things? Think they are silly and totally useless? :) If you’re just getting into cooking and whole foods eating then start small! Don’t go out and buy everything all at once. Start with a few key tools and get to cooking! Slowly you can build up your supplies without breaking the bank.

If you enjoyed this post, please Pin, share and show some comment love. :)

Peace y’all!

Julie


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4 Ways I Compare Paleo & Religion

I had some interesting thoughts come to mind while I was at church yesterday and wanted to share them with you. I don’t know what school of religion you attend (if any) but I find that connecting my diet (food/fitness/wellness) to my religion just makes sense. If you don’t care or don’t believe in God or a higher power than you have my full permission to stop reading now and come back later or not at all if this post rubs you the wrong way. I’m okay with that. I thought that for some of you (and me) it would be useful to draw some similarities to religion and diet. Heavy stuff for a Monday, right!? :)

1. Religion and diet are something I’ve struggled with my entire life.

I grew up “Catholic” but never really understood what it meant to have a relationship with God/Jesus until my adult life (actually just a couple of years ago). My family wasn’t very involved with church aside from certain Sundays and holidays. It was just sort of one of those things that we “had to do” and felt guilty if we didn’t. I remember asking my Grandmother why she went to church and she simply responded, “because you’re supposed to.” So much for developing my relationship with God. My mother and I would follow Saturday night service with a trip to McDonald’s. I can remember the taste of McDonald’s but not a single word that was said at the mass. As I got older, I eventually stopped going to church. I knew somewhere inside that I wanted to know and learn about God, but didn’t know where to go or how to get started. The Catholic mass that I had grown up with wasn’t moving me in the right direction. So…out of confusion, I stopped doing anything.

Can you think of any of those facts that I can easily relate to diet? Yeah…every single thing. I grew up one way, was left feeling empty and confused and eventually stopped trying. Diet…religion…same thing for me. We grow up eating the foods our parents give us whether that’s what we need or not. Religion usually happens the same way. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that-I’m just drawing interesting comparisons.

2. I felt empty inside and out.

As I’ve finally come to know Christ, I feel as though some void inside of me was filled. As I found myself “wanting” or looking for something more (comfort, stress relief, etc.) I tried to fill it with food. I could eat and eat but never felt satisfied. It didn’t matter what I ate or how much it never satisfied me! I was always left with a feeling like I was missing something and always wanted more. But food is addictive and tastes good…so I would keep eating. I am trying now to fill that void (that still pops up from time to time) with God instead of food. Find out what you’re missing and fill it with something good…not food. God wants you to feel full…just not full of food.

3. Detoxing my body without detoxing my soul is useless!

This is what got me thinking in church yesterday… Here I am, trying so hard to cleanse my body. Detoxing from chemicals, processed foods, eating only grass fed meats and pastured eggs from animals raised free of chemicals. It’s been a non-stop quest for months now and I’m just now recognizing the fact that my soul-my insides-have been very unclean lately. If I gave even 50% of the effort to soul-cleansing as I do into diet cleansing than I’d be in a better place. I have found myself angry, spiteful, unfriendly, unkind, and stressed out lately. I’m not saying I’m an awful person but I know that I can get to a better place. I think that my efforts to cleanse my body have been in vain considering the state of my soul and relationship with God. I am going to work on some spirit cleansing this week and see what happens.

4. Religion and diet take discipline, practice and steadfastness.

Like any life skill…practice makes perfect.. You can’t expect to reach a goal without some failures (big & small) along the way. We don’t expect to learn the piano overnight but yet we beat ourselves up and give up when we let that cookie slip into our diet. Unrealistic. I’ve had times where going to church and praying before meals was easy. Getting up early on a Sunday was easy to do. Sometimes our will power wasn’t up to par and we’d skip church…stop praying. Once you fall out of practice it’s hard to get back on board. The same can be said for diet. You have to keep on keepin’ on-over the bumps in the road-during the hard times-to reach your goals. I’m not saying that everyone feels this way about either religion or diet, but it sure hits the nail on the head with me. I know myself pretty well and know that I need to keep plugging at both my walk with God and my journey to wellness to be successful long term. Keeping steady, especially when things aren’t so easy, is the key to success.

I’ve got several other points on this topic that I’ll save for another post. I know some of you just show up for the recipes and paleo tips and that’s okay too, but I firmly believe that our wellness is much bigger than just the food in our fridge and the number on the scale.

I’d appreciate your comments and thoughts on this subject. Are you able to draw any comparisons between your spiritual and physical wellness?

Julie


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My Paleo Kitchen Tools – Part 1

Since going paleo; we’ve definitely been doing a lot more cooking around this house.  I’m not a chef by any stretch of the imagination but sometimes I sit down to a dinner and think, “Dang! This is awesome!”  Eating non-processed foods three times a day has pretty much forced me to learn how to cook.  I did a sort of quasi-paleo last year before my wedding but never cooked a single recipe.  It was a lot of baked chicken and steamed veggies.  That gets old fast.  You can only eat crappy “diet” food for so long till you break and give in to the daily donuts at work or the Taco Bell run on the weekends.  Your body craves things that taste good!  I 100% believe that the reason that paleo works so well for so many folks is that the food you are encouraged to eat (i.e. REAL food) is freakin’ delicious!  So…get yourself a good paleo cookbook and actually cook good tasting food.  If you can read and follow basic directions, you can cook great paleo meals!  One thing that I do feel helped me sort of learn how to cook was hours spent watching the Food Network.  They don’t always cook the healthiest foods but they do a great job of showing you various cooking techniques and how to use certain kitchen tools.  Also YouTube has a bazillion videos on how to cook stuff.  If you don’t know how…YouTube it!

As far as kitchen tools go, there are several tools (not many) that I do recommend you obtain.  Now don’t go out and buy them all at once, but try to get one here and there.  Build your paleo kitchen over time so that you don’t lose your kids college fund or your sanity.  I find that putting them on your birthday/Christmas list is also a good technique.  But, if you have a knife, a pan and a cutting board you can pretty much do anything in the kitchen.  The other tools and gadgets just make tasks easier and maybe a bit more fun.  But not necessary!  Don’t wait to start cooking just because you don’t have ALL of the tools you think you need.  Just start!

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the tools in my kitchen.  I am always curious to see what other folks have in their kitchen so maybe this will be interesting for y’all.  Maybe not.  I promise that these are tools that I firmly believe are useful in the kitchen.  Some of these tools I use every day.  Most are not expensive or hard to find.

I’m not going to like blow your mind with my kitchen tools because cooking real food doesn’t really require anything too fancy.  I’m just sharing what I use.  I’m also not a gadget collector so keep in mind the fact that I don’t actually have a ton of kitchen tools to begin with.  I hate clutter and hate having stuff take up space in my house and in my mind.  Stresses me out.  Ok…let’s get on with it shall we!?

My Paleo Kitchen Tools – Part 1 of ???

Paleo ToolsI know right?!  You’re probably wondering where the laser powered paleo magic mixer masher tool is.  Yeah…let down huh?  But dang it….I dearly love these things and they are USEFUL!

1.  Battery Powered Salt & Pepper Grinders.

YES…totally unnecessary, but now that I have them I don’t know how I ever lived without them.  I sometimes say that about my husband too.  I love them both dearly.  I bought mine from Bed, Bath & Beyond but this set from Amazon looks like it would do the trick.

Kalorik Battery-Operated Salt-and-Pepper Grinder Set, Brushed Stainless Steel

Why are these so awesome?  Well, when you’re cooking in the kitchen and have meat juice all over your hands you can easily grab one of these with the clean hand and douse your dish with salt or pepper.  Fresh ground salt and pepper really does taste so much better and you have more options with the salts and peppercorns.  We used to use a wooden set that you had to hold with both hands and grind.  Meat juice got all up in that.  Not good.  I recommend using Himalayan Pink sea salt in this…it’s uber healthy!  Don’t subject yourself to plain old salt and pepper anymore.  You can do better!

2.   Microplane Zester/Grater

Think of this like a really tiny cheese grater.  Only you don’t grate cheese because you’re paleo and you know the detriments that processed dairy can have on your gut.  Anyway…it’s like that.  I have seen this used to grate fresh nutmegs into a dish.  I haven’t done that yet.  I use this to grate ginger (keep it frozen-lasts longer and easier to grate) and also to zest lemons.  This is WAY easier than using those little zester tools and it creates a really fine zest.  Plus I like having tools that can serve several purposes.  Just run whatever your grating over the rough surface-watch your fingers.   I love this little thing!  Ginger is called for in a lot of recipes and this makes grating it so easy.  I’m sure I’ll find other uses for this as my culinary world expands.  Love it!

3.  Cutting Boards

I know…snooze fest!  But I use these cutting boards ALL the time.  I recommend getting yourself a couple of nice cutting boards.  We’ve got these two smaller ones and then a really big one that we use for cutting up deer and other dead things. I use these two smaller ones every day.  The small light colored one is especially handy.  It’s small, light weight and easy to handle.  I usually reach for that one.  I think it’s made out of bamboo.  The darker one is some sort of fancy wood.  My sunglasses are there to give you an idea about size.  Search around and find one you like.  This set on Amazon looks good and gives you a few handy sizes: Core Bamboo Cutting Board Set

If you can, stay away from the plastic cutting boards.  They get all cut up and may start flaking.  I’ve seen some bad plastic cutting boards in my day and they scare the bisphenol-A right outta me!  I’m trying to keep as much plastic out of the house as possible and I especially don’t want tiny pieces of it in my food because of a plastic cutting board.  Plus the wooden ones are so pretty that I can leave them out if I want.  Also, do NOT put your wooden/bamboo/natural material cutting boards in the dishwasher.  The same goes for your wooden utensils.  Wood soaks up water and it breaks the bond in the wood causing splits and cracks where bacteria can have a hot tub party.  Eww!  I’d also recommend treating your cutting boards with mineral oil on a regular basis.  It helps condition the wood and makes it more resistant bacteria.  You can also designate a particular cutting board for meat only.  I don’t usually bother with that.  I just wash the surface with a quick soap between uses and try not to get meat juice on my veggies.

4.  Apple Corer

Yes…another life changing tool.  Not really, but it’s a freakin’ life saver when it comes to making apple chips!  Firmly hold the apple and push the corer down from the top.  It will take out the seeds and crunchy stuff you don’t want to eat.  This is totally not necessary, but without this tool, I’m not sure that task would be possible to complete.  We make apple chips in our dehydrator but you can also make them in your oven!  There’s a recipe or two on my Pinterest page.  You could just cut the apple in half and remove the core, but eating a whole slice of apple is fun!  This is a super inexpensive tool that has been used several times at my house.  Anyone know what else I could use this for?  Here’s one from Amazon:  OXO Good Grips Corer

So there ya have it.  Four of my favorite kitchen tools.  What do you think?  Any tools in your house that you use everyday?  Any taking up dust that you just don’t need?  Clear out the useless and make room for the useful!

I will share more with you next week!

Have an awesome-healthy day y’all!

Julie  


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We’re Debt Free! How going paleo led to financial freedom.

Yes, you read that right.  We (me and hubs) are DEBT FREE!  Wow, that feels awesome to type that out.  Now we just need to find a mountain and scream it out as loud as we possibly can!  That’s how amazing this feels.

You may be wondering what the heck this has to do with paleo or healthy living.  Well, it has a lot to do with it.

The purpose of this blog is to share our journey towards simple living and ancestral living.  Simple living, in my opinion, is directly related to ancestral wellness and overall good health.  Complicated, busy lives lead to stress and stress can and will effect every single process in your body.  Extended periods of stress (i.e. chronic) can throw your body’s operating system into a tail-spin.  Your hormones will be out of whack and systemic inflammation will set in.  If your hormones are out of whack, lots of really bad stuff can happen inside your body.  I won’t bore you with the gory details, but I do recommend taking a gander at this article by Robb Wolf about the effects of stress on the body.  Not good.

Since going paleo; I’ve began taking stock of every aspect of my life-not just the food.  Eating simpler lead me to wanting to live an overall simpler lifestyle similar to our ancestors.  In It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways; the authors discuss 9 factors to ones overall wellness.  All 9 factors must be considered and acted upon to reach the healthiest version of you.

I believe that they placed nutrition at the top for a reason.  Without proper nutrition-the other factors are hard to obtain.  You also have to have a good balance among all of the factors.  Once I stopped fretting about my cellulite, pant size, wearing a bathing suit in public and started thinking about my overall wellness…the paleo plan got a whole lot easier and life got simpler.  For the purpose of this post; we’re focusing on stress management.  A VERY important piece of the wellness puzzle.

So…how does this relate back to being debt free?  For Dan and I, becoming debt free has been a goal of ours for quite some time.  Dan was blessed enough to have graduated college sans student loan debt.  Me?  Not so much.  I went to a pretty inexpensive school but did walk out with more than just a degree.  I walked out with thousands of dollars worth of debt.  Dan surely got more than he bargained for when he said his vows.  My undying love…and a pile of debt.  Bless his heart for jumping into that money mess.  We also each had a car payment.  It’s like renting a car.  All the time.  Never again.  Dan and I were also in the middle of planning a wedding and fixing up our home.   Being able to get married and do a bit of remodeling without going into debt was a big win for us.  But the student loan debt and car payments were still looming.  Stressing us out.  They had taken a backseat during the wedding planning and house fixing.  And minimum payments will get you nowhere fast.  The wedding planning process was much more stressful because of the fact that we had debt.  We were putting money towards our wedding (& house) when in reality we should have been putting it towards our debt payments.  Maybe we should have eloped.  :)

Remember what we said about stress and it’s havoc on health?  This debt was a chronic stress for us.  Every penny we had to spend was painful.  We would have to decide between dinner out with friends or paying a few extra bucks on the debt payments.  Going out on a date or putting that money towards the debt.  Buy Christmas presents for each other or giving the money to Sallie Mae.  Stress.

For those of you who aren’t picking up what I’m putting down, I apologize.  Maybe you’re lucky enough to have zero experience with debt.  You don’t know what it feels like to owe someone else money.  That’s awesome!  Or maybe you’re someone who has a lot of debt and just doesn’t see the problem.  That’s cool too (not really).  It wasn’t cool for us.  It was stressing us out.  But we kept after it and put as much as we could towards debt while still staying sane (sometimes you just need a date night).  Being debt free was something we BOTH wanted to accomplish and we wen’t after it with gazelle intensity as Dave Ramsey would say.

So, on Valentine’s Day, in lieu of a fancy (and unhealthy) dinner out, that would cost about $200 – we threw that $200 at the very last of our debt.  We officially became debt free on 2/14/13!  I can honestly tell you that it was the BEST Valentine’s Day present ever.  Freedom.  Like the biggest weight was lifted off of our shoulders.  It was like we were breathing through a straw all that time and now we were finally able to take a huge, deep breath!   A literal sigh of relief!

I think it was also quite fitting that on Valentine’s Day we also wrapped up 45 days of squeaky clean paleo eating.  As our diets simplified, our life simplified.  We stayed home more and spent time reading and talking.  We enjoyed wholesome, simple meals at home.  We drank less alcohol because we weren’t going out with friends as much.  All of those things that we were relating to our health, were also directly relating to our path towards financial freedom.  Staying home and enjoying each other instead of going out and buying junk was a key to our success in both our financial and paleo goals.  It led to a simpler lifestyle for us and I’m grateful for that.

I can honestly say that once the debt was gone, I felt physically and mentally better.  I have been sleeping better and am fretting less about our future.  My mind feels clearer and I feel less of a mental burden.  I feel more relaxed and happier, not anxious.  I can’t speak for my husband (he’s sleeping…soundly) but I know that he feels the same way.  This is an awesome feeling.

I honestly believe that you can have the world’s healthiest diet, but if your life is full of chronic stressors, than you will never reach true health.  Your body won’t let you get there.

It’s time to re-think the things in your life that you think are necessities.  Get rid of the stressful things:  processed foods, unhappy people, overtime, unnecessary activities, mind-numbing television, money/time sucking useless stuff.  Less is more and that holds true for just about every element of your life.

I am SO proud of my husband and myself for finally paying off this debt.  I am also proud of the fact that we’ve come to recognize that simple living leads to freedom.  Freedom from debt and best of all freedom from stress!

Are there areas in your life that could be simplified?  What can you cut out and still fulfill the nine factors mentioned above?  We will be talking more about being debt free and how we got there, but I couldn’t wait to share the news any longer!  WE’RE DEBT FREE!!!  We love chatting with folks who are on their path to financial freedom so please comment!  We’d love to help!

Have an awesome-less stressful day y’all!

Please Pin & Share & Love if you enjoyed this post.  

Julie


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How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is one of our absolute favorite foods.  It’s unique structure resembles that of well, spaghetti.  It’s easy to cook and relatively low on the paleo carbohydrate list (although not all carbs are bad y’all).  It has helped us make the transition to paleo as we use spaghetti squash as a “replacement” for noodles in various dishes.  We missed our noodles and this helped.  We no longer really miss the noodles but still love this staple.  I cook at least one a week!

I’ll give you some ideas on how to EAT it at the end of the post.

Roasting them in the oven is super easy and they yield about 3-4 cups of “noodles” depending on the size of the squash.  Add this to your weekly cook-up and you’ll have a delicious and versatile veggie ready and waiting for those quick week night dinners.

How to cut, cook and eat Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash (squashes?  squashi?) can be found at most any grocery store or market right now.  Look for the big yellow buggers in the produce section.  I don’t actually think I’d ever eaten a spaghetti squash until I started in on this paleo thing.  Tons of paleo recipes called for spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles.  And the great thing is…they are EASY to cook!  They are a bit intimidating so I’m hoping my step-by-step instructions take the fear away.  :)

1.  Hold the squash firmly and run a small paring knife down the length of the squash.  Try to cut through the tough skin a bit, but don’t worry about getting the cut too deep.  You’re just making a groove for the bigger knife.  Be VERY careful here.  The squash can get a bit wild so look out!

2.  Take a big knife and wedge it into the groove you just created.  You may have you use your hand to press down on the top of the knife.

3.  Now hold the handle of the big knife, lift up the squash and whack it gently a few times against your cutting board.  The big knife will make it’s way through the squash.  You may have to give it a bit of help, especially if the woody stem is still intact.  It would help to cut the stem off first.  The squash will open to reveal it’s squashy insides.  You can see in the photo that my squash cracked when I was beating it against my cutting board.  No biggie!

At this point you could use a spoon and remove the seeds and the gooey stuff, but I find it much easier to do this after the squash has been cooked.  The seeds and gooey stuff will come right out!

4.  Turn the squash cut-side down into a baking dish and add 3-4 tbsp of water to the dish.  DON”T add too much water!  The first time I did this I added about a half inch of water to the dish and the squash came out too watery!  Less is more.

Put those babies in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Remember:  400 for 40 minutes.  Easy.

5.  Now you can easily scoop out the seeds and gooey insides.  Discard or give to your chickens if you’re lucky.

6.  Let the squash cool enough so that you can pick it up and hold it.  Now take a fork and run your fork width-wise across the squash.  You’ll want to make long strokes in the squash to keep your noodles mostly intact.  Scrape out as much of the flesh as you can, working your way around the inside of the squash.

Let the “noodles” cool and store in the fridge for about a week.  They never make it past a few days in this house though.

Now the EATING part…

Use your spaghetti squash noodles just as you would any noodle.  Since you’ve pre-cooked your squash all you’ll need to do is pull out what you want and heat it up in a skillet.  Top with marinara and meatballs!  Top with my amazing Spicy Cream Sauce.   Make Melissa Joulwan’s killer pad thai for a special treat!  Use it in a curry dish like this one.  You can even just eat it on it’s own with a bit of salt and pepper.  It has a great flavor!  The possibilities are endless.  Use it to add a little oomph to your meals!  Your kiddos would love this too and I bet they wouldn’t even miss their gluten noodles. It’s still twirl-able and fun!

Let me know how this works out for ya!  Do you have a favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?

If you enjoyed this post please Pin, Share and show some love y’all!

Julie


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Easy Invigorating Coffee Scrub

Living paleo/clean/natural/etc. is about so much more than what you put in your body (although that is a biggie).  It’s also about your wellness and holistic health.  Less junk going into your body begets less junk happening in your life overall.  Eating paleo should eventually simplify your life.  You should find yourself obsessing less about food and focusing more on other aspects of your health.

One of my other new found passions is all natural skin care.  As a typical American female, I find myself easily caught up with beauty.  There’s a lot of pressure to be “beautiful.”  To have the right hair, flawless skin, perfectly arched brows.  This pressure leads us to seek out and spend money on products that are supposed to make us beautiful.  There’s always a new mascara (seriously how many times can they reinvent mascara) that promises huge lashes, a new hairspray that guarantees voluminous hair, scented lotion that will magically make stretch marks disappear.  How often do you actually use an entire container of product before buying a replacement?  We’re constantly being drawn in with the premise of easy beauty.

As I’ve dug deeper into the world of paleo I’ve come to realize that what we put on our bodies can impact our health as much as what we put in.  I’ve started paying attention.  I purged my cupboards and fridge of every non-pronounceable chemical/additive/junk.  I read every single food label before I purchase something.  I’m speculative when ordering food at restaurants.  But shampoo, lotion, soap?  I can’t remember the last time I read the list of ingredients on the package.  Doubtful that I could even pronounce half of them.  What should I have double standards for myself.  We all know that our skin is our largest organ.  I’ve read that chemicals on the skin absorb into the bloodstream at a much faster rate than the chemicals we ingest.  What the heck was I putting on my body!?  It was time to make a change in my beauty routine.  I’ve been testing several things and have since stopped using non-natural products in my routine.

I’ll definitely be sharing more about this in future posts, but today I wanted to share a quick and simple product that I think you’ll love.  I’m sure the men have stopped reading by now, so ladies…you will love this.  :)  Replace your current body scrub (most likely full of chemicals) with this!

Invigorating Coffee Scrub

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of ground coffee (I peeled open a couple of my used K-Cups!)  We have the  Keurig® Vue.  Best thing ever.
  • 1/2 tsp of Pure Jojoba  oil or any other light oil you have on hand (olive oil or avocado oil would be great!)
  • 1-3 drops of your fave essential oil (I used Lemongrass Essential Oil).  This is totally not necessary, but helped cut the coffee smell a bit.  I’m okay with the coffee smell so I may omit this with my next batch.

*Obtaining clean, high-quality oils is important.  I picked up my oils at The Vitamin Shoppe but they can be found elsewhere.  Mountain Rose Herbs is another great source that I’ve used before.

Directions:

Mix it all together, take it into the shower with you and scrub away.  I put a little in my hand and rubbed it on my wet skin.  Rub it in really well!  The oil will soak into your skin and the ground coffee will help slough off dead skin cells.  Double whammy!

It was a bit messy, but it was fun!  My skin felt really soft and moisturized afterwards.  I didn’t use this on my face but you totally could.  It also did not stain my skin or my shower.

I hope this encourages you to take a small step into the world of natural beauty products.  You can improve your health by forgoing crazy chemicals in your beauty care routine.  Check some of the labels of your products.  You might even find gluten hiding in there!

If you’re interested in learning MUCH more about natural skin care, hair care, makeup, etc. I highly recommend downloading a copy of  the e-book; Skintervention Guide by Liz Wolfe, NTP.  This is such an awesome resource and I learned so much about how to care for my skin naturally.  I’ve been inspired to make major changes in this area of my health and I give full credit to the Skintervention Guide.  Liz provides all the information you need to get started with a natural routine along with some super easy paleo food recipes to help boost your skin from the inside out!  Check it out y’all!

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Let me know how you like the scrub!  Do you have any favorite natural skin care creations?  Share!

Please Pin, share and show some love if you enjoyed this post!

Julie

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