The Paleo Lifestyle: What does it mean?

If you’re like me, you get confused by all the new diet fads out there. Everyone has a different opinion about how to eat healthfully, and it’s overwhelming. Well lately, a lot of my friends are posting information about Paleo on Facebook and Pinterest. So, I decided to do some research to see what all the fuss was about.

Basically, Paleo is short for Paleolithic. This diet, I mean lifestyle, is all about eating the way the cavemen did back in the day. Since the cavemen were hunters and gatherers that comes down to a meat-centric diet with vegetables and fruits that they could find. They were not farmers, so they did not eat foods with gluten, such as wheat and other grains. The Paleo lifestyle is heavy on protein, regardless of it’s calorie or fat content – so bacon is ok! The only carbohydrates they eat are complex, coming from fruits and vegetables. They don’t eat simple, starchy carbs like refined sugars or gluten-rich foods, like pasta, rice, or bread.

As a result of this research, I have discovered some very interesting alternatives to gluten-rich foods. I’m not sensitive to gluten, nor do I want to eliminate it entirely from my diet. However, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my calorie intake without reducing the volume that I eat 😉

Below you’ll see links to recipe alternatives that I can’t wait to try:

Calgon, Take Me Away

Do you remember those old Calgon commercials, “Calgon, take me away”? There are so many stresses in today’s world, and in order to stay sane we must find healthy ways to escape. For some, a bubble bath (hence the Calgon reference) will do the trick. For others, a bottle of wine is necessary. For me, a bubble bath with a bottle of wine sounds good 😉

There are many ways I de-stress from all of life’s chaos. As you may have guessed, I love to cook. Whether I’m baking or cooking, being in the kitchen relaxes me. Aside from that, my favorite activity of late is playing with the cutest dog in the world. She’s a 10 pound Chiweenie, named Whitney. She’s a complete and total mess of a dog, but is so loveable and funny she brings levity to any situation. I adopted her over a year ago from a rescue, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Remade: Coconut Shrimp

I don’t know about you, but I love coconut shrimp.  You usually see it in the appetizer section of steakhouse menus. It’s so decadent and delicious, and yes, you guessed it, fried! I’ve recreated the flavor and crunch of coconut shrimp, but reduced the calories and fat by baking it instead. They are yummy as is, or you can buy a dipping sauce or make your own.

Coconut Shrimp

Cooking spray
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 oz beer, about 2/3 cup
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
24 large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave tails on)

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, 1/2 cup of flour, beer, baking powder and salt. Mix coconut and panko in a shallow bowl. Place remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a separate shallow bowl. Holding shrimp by their tails, dredge each shrimp in flour and shake off any excess. Dip flour-coated shrimp into egg batter and allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut/panko mixture and turn to coat both sides (press coconut/panko onto shrimp to make it stick). Transfer shrimp to prepared baking sheet and spray surface of shrimp with cooking spray. Bake until coconut/panko is golden brown and shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.

nutrition_coconutshrimp

Remade: Oven Fried Chicken

When you get stressed out, do you crave comfort food?  Usually anything fried is a good place to start, but all the calories and fat will just stress you out even more.  This dish gives you the crunchy texture of fried chicken without any of the guilt.  Check out the recipe below and let me know if it satisfies your comfort food urges.

Cornflake Crusted Chicken

1 spray cooking spray
2/3 cup light salad dressing (I used Walden Farms calorie-free)
1/8 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dill, freshly chopped
1 medium scallion, finely sliced
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1 pound uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, four 4 oz pieces

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a shallow pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine honey mustard dressing, salt, pepper, dill and scallions; remove 1/3 cup and set aside. Place cornflake crumbs in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into dressing mixture and then cornflake crumbs; place in prepared pan. Bake until chicken is golden and no longer pink in center, about 15 minutes. Drizzle remaining dressing mixture (the 1/3 cup that was set aside) over chicken breasts and serve. Yields 1 piece of chicken and about 1-1/3 tablespoons of dressing per serving.

Nutrition_CrunchyChicken

Parenting Your Parents

Are you prepared to become the parent of your parents? It’s an almost incomprehensible thought, but it’s becoming more prevalent as our parents age. It’s difficult to shift into this new role of caregiver. This has become my story in the last few years.

Image 8Caring for an ill parent is potentially in all our futures. As you learned in my last post, my dad has leukemia. And shortly after his initial diagnosis 4 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My dad’s cancer is so much easier to deal with than Alzheimer’s; there are so many more treatment options. Alzheimer’s has got to be one of the cruelest diseases out there! It took an intelligent, well-spoken, out-going individual, and depleted so much of who she was. It’s hard to watch, as someone you knew so well transforms into someone else. After a while, you begin to forget what that person was like before the disease.

Needless to say, my role in the family has taken a dramatic turn. I’m the youngest of 5 kids, and suddenly I feel like I’m a single mom to a grown woman. It’s a tough transition.

I know this sounds dire, but it’s not all bad. Even though my mom has lost her ability to reason and carry a conversation that makes sense, she is still playful, kind, and compassionate. The only blessing is that I don’t think she understands what’s going on. Most of the time, it’s harder on those around her who just want her to return to the person she once was.

Forrest Gump Knew Best

When Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get, ” he was dead on. I began this blog with the intention of creating something lighthearted and useful. However, today I don’t feel like posting about how to create a healthier version of fried chicken. Instead, life threw my family a curve ball, so I’d rather write about that.

DSC_0070My dad was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in December of 2008. In fact, it was that diagnosis that brought me back to Houston from California. Thankfully, he responded immediately to his course of treatment and went into remission after his first round of chemo. He continued to receive chemo for another 2+ years. He finished his final round of chemo almost two years ago. He’s been feeling great and getting stronger every day. All of that changed this morning, when his doctor told us that his leukemia has returned. This is a very unwelcome visitor indeed! His prognosis looks good, but you never know.

My interest in healthy eating stems from his initial diagnosis. I will post updates about my dad’s health, in addition to writing about nutrition and how healthy eating can aid in disease prevention/recovery.