Grab and Go Lunch

Well it’s summer, and we are BUSY! Rob and I have realized the quickest way for us to derail from the paleo path is when we fail to plan. I went out of town last weekend, missed our normal grocery shopping day, and so this week has been creative cooking week. I made it to the store tonight and then spent about 10 minutes chopping in the kitchen. It really doesn’t take long to prep and it makes a world of difference on a busy morning. 

I made 4 of these Italian salads using up the last of our veg from last week including:

-leftover shredded lettuce from last nights tacos

-one yellow bell pepper

-one cuccumber

-half a carton of cherry tomatoes

-half a bundle of green onions

-half a red onion

-a few banana pepper rings

-hard salami 



Now we are both set to finish out the week, in the morning we can dress these, grab some fruit and some nuts and a bottle of water and lunch is packed! 


-In other Sandwell life news we recently updated our Kitchen and baby J started eating food! So I’m learning all about how to make baby food. So probably posts on that coming up, stay tuned! 

Paleo meatloaf

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures but it was just too tasty we gobbled it down before I thought to take pictures. I’ll share my recipe, but I need advice, without bread crumbs, there is nothing to absorb the juices, how do get this to “loaf”? Don’t get me wrong it tasted amazing. But it wasn’t something we could slice, it was more like a delicious meat pile. At any rate no ego here please share your tips for me I you have a secret to Paleo meatloaf this girl wants to know!

*Preheat oven to 450

In a large bowl mix
1 lb grass fed beef
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red onion
1 handful of diced baby Bella mushrooms
1 cup of cauliflower (I put mine in a food processor until it is the texture of rice)
2 raw eggs (for binding purposes)
1 large can of gluten free marinara sauce *reserve a little to top the loaf with

Mix all together and then form into a loaf pan and then pop in the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 I top it with the last of the marinara and let it go 15 more.
-I’ve also used pepper jelly, or pineapple preserves to top it with. Sweet goes great with the savory. Think outside the box. (Which means step away from the ketchup bottle)

Please leave a comment of you have tips to improve my recipe 🙂

Attempted Paleo Potato Pancakes

Attempted Potato Pancakes

Last night we had Shepard’s pie for dinner and we are both working late several nights this week, so I made a giant batch of mashed potatoes.

I do this pretty often if I’m taking the time to make a multistep dish I usually just make a big ole batch. It’s not much more work to make a double batch and it makes for easy dinners later in the week.

This morning I thought it would be fun to make potato pancakes.


I’m not sure why since I’ve never ever ever not ever been successful at making pancakes that I could whip up a potato version.

It wasn’t pretty.
But it was tasty.

Here’s what I did I took about two cups of mashed potatoes and added an egg. 20130910-150135.jpgWhip em together and heat a little oil on the stove at a med high heat. Then plop the taters in.

If you dip the back of your spoon in the hot oil you can press down the potatoes into a pancake shape with out it sticking to them.20130910-150329.jpgAfter they get nice and browned on the edges flip them over.

This is where it all went wrong. I’m a terrible flipper. It all fell apart. 20130910-150504.jpgBut then I had a moment of inspiration brought to me by my former pre-paleo life and steak and shake.

Silver dollar potato pancakes.
So I changed my method and made them smaller. This worked better but not wonderful.

In the end they were not beautiful but they were amazing tastey!!!

*most recipes for potato pancakes include some flour, I think that would have helped but really for the most part I just have no flipping skills. I will let Rob do the flipping next time.


Fish and Chips

20130828-215850.jpgA lot of people have been asking me about my fish recipe lately. Pescetarians have said to me, “I’m interested in Paleo, but I still don’t want to eat red meat. What can I do?” Well if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that we use a wide range of proteins, including beef, pork, and a variety of poultry. And fish!

Tonight we were both just tired. We’ve been working long hot days, and we’re broke, and we wanted something easy to cook. So we thought we’d throw some foil packets on the grill. We had a couple of lemon-pepper cod fillets we bought from the grocers, so we decided to cook those with some potatoes and onions.

I got out some heavy aluminum foil and brushed it with roll butter and sprinkled salt, pepper, and cayenne on it. Then I sliced a lemon and made two little stacks on the foil of lemon slice/fish fillets/lemon slice.

While I was preparing that, she put a rustic chop on a bag of variety garden potatoes and a red onion. I prepared another piece of foil the same way, butter/salt/pepper/cayenne, and we put the potatoes and onion on the foil with some minced garlic and a few small pieces of butter.

We wrapped up the foil and I started the grill. I let it heat up, then I put it on the lowest setting with the two foil packets on the top shelf and set a timer for ten minutes. When it went off, I flipped the two packets and let them cook for another seven minutes before pulling them off.

I let the foil packets sit for a few minutes to finish cooking and cool, and then we opened them up to reveal the goodies inside. Always be careful with this. There’s a lot of steam in those packets and you can burn yourself. We both like vinegar on our fish, although this fish is delicious and you can eat it just like it comes off the grill. I went with a pomegranate infused red wine vinegar, she went with mild salad vinegar. Next to that we both had big piles of potatoes and onions.

These meals were fantastic. Crazy delicious, really easy, and super filling. It probably took about forty five minutes between prep and cook time, but the prep was mostly just slice and chop, and the cooking was mostly just waiting for a timer to go off. We use a propane grill, but you could use a charcoal grill if you want, or even just cook this in your oven. It’s really just steaming, we just do it on the grill because it’s convenient for us.

We didn’t use to eat a lot of fish, but since we’ve started eating Paleo we’ve started diversifying our foods more and more and fish has become a regular part of our diet. So have a lot of new vegetables. And we’ve found we’re starting to really look forward to a lot of these foods. A lot of people think fish smell bad, but when we opened up the butcher paper tonight our first thought was “Yum!”

Give this recipe a try. There are lots of different fish you can cook like this, we just buy cod because we’re broke and it’s cheap. But it tastes great! And the potatoes are awesome! And it made plenty for us to save some for breakfast tomorrow.

We might not eat fried fish and french fries anymore, but we can still have fish and chips for dinner any time we want. You might not eat red meat, but you can still eat Paleo. Get creative. You’ll like the results. Leave a comment and let us know how this recipe works for you!

My Fitness Pal.

When I started eating Paleo, I started using My Fitness Pal again. It was really helpful in the beginning because I was eating completely different foods and I had no idea how the calories added up. Another part of the app. was monitoring my weight.

I’ve had a lot of friends adopt this lifestyle and in the beginning the comments are all the same. “Sure I feel better but when will the weight disappear?” Or “I’ve lost a few pounds but my husband/boyfriend has lost three times that!”

I know from experience, it’s really easy to live and die based on what the scale tells you each morning. You’re either a winner or a loser in 10 seconds or less. For me whatever the scale would say would determine exactly how much I should punish or treat myself for the rest of the day.

Here is a picture of my weight loss graph over the last month.20130826-100616.jpg

The trend is down but it’s not a straight line. When you’re working towards a goal, that can be so discouraging.

In the beginning I weighed myself everyday. Up a half a pound, down a pound, up two pounds, and the emotions and self talk followed accordingly.

Now that let’s look at my graph since I started Paleo.20130826-100749.jpg

Clearly the trend is down.

The big picture is what matters. It took me a while to develop a healthy relationship with my scale. I accept now that it is just a tool, and it’s job is to measure my weight not to measure my worth as a person.

I don’t weigh myself everyday. If I’m up a few pounds, I think about what I’ve been putting in my body. For most of my life I was a fat person, because I ate like a fat person. I often go back and when the scale shows I’ve gained a pound or two and review what I’ve put in my body.

Have I gone back to eating cheeseburgers and ice cream? No. Then it’s probably just the natural fluctuation that happens daily to both fat and skinny people

Then I think about other factors. Have I been under stress? Gotten enough sleep? Controlled my portions? Exercised? Usually I can point to the indicator, but sometimes not. Weight loss is more then calories in calories out there are all kinds of things that effect your body chemistry.

So don’t sweat the small stuff.
Keep drinking water, keep feeding your body nutrient dense whole foods. Get some rest. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

Hang in there in the short term, give your body a chance to change and adjust. Just because it doesn’t happen overnight doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Before and during.

These pictures were taken about two and half months apart. The first one in May about two weeks before I started eating a Paleo diet. The second just Friday (August 23)

I don’t post this as a before and after, because I’m not at the end of my weight loss adventure.

I don’t post this because I want the world see. -No one likes seeing bad pictures of themselves, let alone publishing them.

I post this because it’s attainable. The girl pictured on the left, did not think change was attainable. She was wrong.

Two and half months.
Be intentional.

Salad for Breakfast

I had to go into work super early today and didn’t have time to make anything for breakfast. But I knew I had a long day ahead of me and I didn’t want to try to do it on an empty stomach. Which ended up being a good idea, because it turned out to be a busy day. So I went down to the food court to see if anybody was open. And the only place that was was a chicken sandwich place. But they sell salads, so I figured I’d try my luck.

I tried their Cobb Salad, which I ordered with grilled chicken instead of the breaded chicken it normally comes with; and without cheese or dressing. The grilled chicken was served cold, which may have been because it was nine am and they were just opening, or may have been because that’s how they serve it. I didn’t really care enough to ask. I didn’t realize until I opened it up that it also had corn on it, which I normally don’t eat and mostly picked out with my fork, although I wasn’t overly concerned and I definitely ate some of it. Other than that it was served with some crispy pepper strips which I skipped because they listed some grain products in the ingredients, and tomatoes and carrots and eggs and bacon which I did eat.

I had the whole thing dry. And before I took a bite I really wanted to cover it with dressing. But then I tried it and it was awesome and I devoured it as quickly as I could. I still experience some of the old cultural programming that makes me think veggies don’t taste good unless they taste like ranch dressing. But as soon as I take the first bite I remember how amazing meat and vegetables and eggs and fruit taste and I don’t need to cover it all with cream sauce and croutons.

That simple cold salad of mixed greens and tomatoes and carrots and corn and eggs and bacon and chicken gave me the energy to power through a pretty busy day for about six hours until I took a break to eat another Larabar. Fruit Tart. And that got me through till dinner, when my wife prepared me an amazing spaghetti squash and meatballs. There was a time, not too long ago, when I would have been starving on 5000 calories before five pm. Today I had less than 700 total through breakfast and lunch. The more I eat nutrient dense food, the smaller my portions become and the longer they sustain me. It really is an amazing thing. Nutrition is so much more complex than “calories in/calories out.”

The idea of a salad for breakfast seems really crazy. When I was younger I remember thinking mockingly of that as “rabbit food.” Even as I got older and started eating a lot more salads I rarely thought of them as “main course” material, even with meat. I wanted something more. Something extra. Even when they were covered in dressing. Now I can eat a fairly small dry salad and run at top shape for hours.

Paleo doesn’t mean every meal has to be a salad, or you have to survive on nothing but shakes or granola bars, or starve yourself to get by. Most days I’m eating grilled meats and roasted vegetables and potatoes and squash and succulent fruits. Every once in a while I’m on the go and in a hurry and have to make due. But I’m finding the more I make the right decisions, even in a pinch, the easier everything becomes.


Breaded Pork Chops and House Salad with Cheese


Mrs. Sandwell and I went out to one of our favorite Italian restaurants recently. We specifically asked the waitress not to bring us bread and to leave cheese off of all our food. She gave us some static about it throughout the evening, repeatedly, but was generally a very good natured waitress. We enjoyed her service thoroughly and tipped her well.

We both ordered the same thing. A house salad, which was fantastic. And was delivered with Parmesan cheese all over it. And for the main course I was going to order a large antipasto salad, but the waitress sold me on the special which my wife also ordered. Pork Chops with Roasted Red Potatoes. “That sounds delicious!” I thought. And it was. It was also breaded pork chops, which I only found out when they arrived. They were also served with green beans, which was a delightful and unexpected surprise since the waitress didn’t mention them when describing the special to us earlier.

So even though I specifically asked that our table not receive any bread or any cheese, we got cheese on our salads and breaded pork chops, both without warning. We were also offered garlic bread and cheese on our dishes, despite having previously expressed our preference repeatedly. Our waitress even said, “Oh, I thought you meant the other cheese.”

We didn’t let any of this bring us down. We didn’t get bent at the waitress or make a scene. She really was a pleasant waitress. And we had a great date night. I’ve said before, “When someone else is doing the cooking try to be gracious about the results.” So we didn’t have the perfectly Paleo meal we had planned. That we had specifically chosen THAT restaurant to go to for. That didn’t ruin our evening or cause any drama. The breaded pork chops with red potatoes and green beans were fantastic. So was the house salad with cheese. It was a great meal, and one great meal with a few grams of food we don’t normally consume isn’t gonna be the reason my legs fall off.

It’s easy to get really caught up in what you’re focused on. And that’s good, because you really want to be conscious of what you’re ingesting and making intentional decisions about your nutrition. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball. I could have been a big jerk about the whole thing, and yelled at the waitress, and embarrassed my wife in public, and demanded I get my meal for free. I wouldn’t even have been that out of line. I couldn’t have been more clear about “no bread no cheese.” But instead we smiled and laughed and had a wonderful meal and went on our merry way.

The world at large doesn’t get it yet. The more experienced you are with Paleo, the more you encounter that. “No cheese” means “the other cheese.” “No bread” somehow doesn’t include bread crumbs. It’s all the time, everywhere. It’s people saying, “I don’t eat much bread; I only had a croissant and a muffin for breakfast and pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner and soda all day.”

You can rage at that, or you can chuckle at it. You can throw your food in the waitress’ face, or you can enjoy a delicious meal. Your choice won’t change the world. But it might change your evening.

We loved our dinner. And later we talked about how it’d probably make us feel a little sick, and how we’d probably experience a little bloating from it, and how tasty it was. And we’ll definitely go back to that restaurant. And next time I know to be more specific about my salad, and not to order the breaded pork chops. Instead I’ll get the grilled chicken or the antipasto salad, both of which are also excellent.

Learning how to live the Paleo lifestyle is more than just caloric math equations or lists of allowed or prohibited foods. It’s about education and objectivity and rational decision making. And at it’s most basic, it’s about having a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s about being healthy. And your mental and spiritual health is just as important (or more so) than the number on the scale or the size of your pants. It only makes so much sense to stand firm on a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and ruin your evening and your marriage and bring long lasting drama and stress and negativity into your life by throwing a fit at a restaurant. Sometimes the healthy decision is just to enjoy your evening.

The Moral Issues Related to Meat Eating

In speaking with others about Paleo I sometimes encounter people who have philosophical or moral concerns with killing animals, or eating meat, or the meat industry. I’ve heard more than one person say that regardless of the health issues involved, the moral issues related to eating the flesh of (formerly) living creatures is a more pressing concern for them.

And I think that’s ok. It’s ok to have those concerns. There are a lot of issues with the meat industry that I think people have legitimate reasons to be concerned about. Product safety, genetic modification, labeling, farming practices, feeding practices, government protectionism, price fixing, environmental impact, and many, many other issues are all perfectly good reasons to have questions and concerns about including meat in your diet. It’s ok to be concerned. It’s ok to have questions. It’s ok to have beliefs in what is right and wrong that you aren’t willing to compromise on easily or at all.

Sometimes people feel like in order to eat healthy they have to surrender their core philosophies. They may feel like it’s wrong to kill animals, but they feel like they have to do it anyway to survive. Sometimes people make other people feel like wimps or weaklings or losers if they think it’s wrong to eat meat. Sometimes people feel like they have to reject the way they felt or believed or lived before, which they thought was based on sound morals, in order to follow a new path that runs contrary to all their previous behaviors.

You don’t have to get caught up in all of that emotional flagellation. It seems to me like eating an appropriate amount of meat is an important part of being healthy. But if you have strong feelings that eating meat is a moral wrong, then don’t eat meat. It’s your life. I’m not going to tell you how to live. I’m just telling you how I live, and that you can do it to. You’re an adult. No positive obligations. Do what you think is right.

If you think that the political, or environmental, or economic aspects of the meat industry are a problem, then you can take steps in your own life to mitigate those issues. Avoid doing business with the companies you object to and support the producers whose practices you agree with. This can be challenging, and certainly you won’t be putting any major farming concerns out of business on your own. But if you can find a local butcher, and learn a little about who he does business with, you can go a long way towards buying meat that is at least “less” morally reprehensible. I actually feel pretty good about the people we buy meat from. They know me, I know them, they are very open about which farms they do business with and how those farms operate. There’s an open chain of communication and information all the way up and down. They’re still selling me slabs of animal flesh, I’m not deluded. But I feel fairly comfortable about the processes that led to that animal flesh coming to my table.

You have a right to your feelings. You have a right to your concerns. Many of them are fully legitimate. Some of them can be mitigated. Deciding to eat meat doesn’t make you a hypocrite or a villain or a fool. It’s just a decision. Some people are comfortable eating poultry or fish but not red meat. Fine. Some people still think vegetarianism is the proper path. Ok. Do your own research. Learn about nutrition. Decide what’s best for you.

But understand, it’s ok if you aren’t sold. It’s ok if you disagree with the way corporate farms operate, or you think farm subsidies are coercive, or you question whether major corporate entities should also be heavily involved in writing industry regulations, or you have concerns about sodium nitrite or the effects of hormone treatments or genetic manipulation of the food you eat. You can choose not to eat meat, or you can choose to be careful about the meat you do purchase and eat, or you can just keep on eating whatever gets passed to you in a bag through a window. That’s your choice as a free person.

For a lot of people, making these kinds of changes involves a process that brings a lot of really powerful emotions to the surface, and can often bring up painful family histories, or challenge long held relationships or beliefs. Giving up donuts is hard. Changing your morals, or the people you hang out with, or the things that you believe in, can all be infinitely harder. Try not to let that be the reason you don’t make healthy decisions. It’s ok to take your time, and get educated, and carefully consider each of these issues. It’s ok to only move forward when you’re ready, and only in a way that you’re comfortable with.

For me, Paleo is easy. I’ve always eaten meat. All I had to do was stop eating it between slices of bread. For some other people I’ve known, it brings very different challenges to the front. Each of us is on their own journey. You can’t compare your results to anyone else’s. It’s not about doing what I do or what worked for Robb Wolf. It’s about making conscious, objective, educated decisions about your future and your health. It’s about taking control of your own future. And if you have some questions you need answers for first, then by all means go get your answers.

It’s ok to think for yourself. It’s ok to be guided by your morals. It’s ok to do this the right way. In fact, I recommend it.

What I didn’t eat today…


Sometimes eating paleo is more about what you don’t eat then what you eat. Where I work there is never a shortage of sugary goodness or reasons to celebrate. I’m a firm believer that you will never win the battle of will power. But so I try not to use the word “cheat” I’ve replaced it with “treat”. Where I have failed on diets in the past allowing “cheat days” with a paleo lifestyle I’m more likely to have an occasional “treat” fully enjoy it and stay on plan the rest of the day.

“Treats” are something I look forward too, eat sitting down, enjoy, savor, and they aren’t for every day.

When I walked into work this week and saw this most recent pile of chocolate and 5 lb bag of candy. My first thought was “yum!” But my second thought was “today is a little to busy for me to deal with a stomach ache I’ll have a treat another day”

The cravings that used to scream in my ears have grown silent. Because my body has adjusted to eating whole nutrient dense foods. I used to eat plate after plate of sugary goodness, but now I usually get a stomach ache. It’s harder in the beginning, but the more often it happens it gets easier to say no.

Most importantly, don’t think of yourself as a failure if you eat the cake. Focus on making the next choice a good one. If you are constantly making the next good choice, you’re going to become a healthy person, and that after all is the goal.