Sunday, June 15, 2014

PIZZA! Gluten/Grain Free

Who doesn't LOVE pizza?!  I think having an easy, super tasty pizza recipe is a must.  This. Is. It.  We tried a cauliflower crust, a crust with flax seed, and a couple other recipes before stumbling across this one by The Domestic Man.  We loved this one so much we haven't tried any others.  The first time we made it we followed the recipe.  We have made it almost weekly since then and have adapted it bit.  We have made it for non-primal friends and family and it has been a hit every time.  Here is our version of it:

Ingredients for the crust which makes 2 pizzas:

  • 1.5 cups tapioca flour/starch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup full fat greek yogurt (we have also tried and liked it with full fat canned coconut milk and raw milk)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (we grate our own as usually the already grated has other ingredients like cellulose)
  • Seasonings - we use salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano (my husband doesn't measure just adds what looks good, but the original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, & pinch of white pepper)
  • Preheat oven to 500F
  • Loosely mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with a spatula 
  • Heat in a small sauce pan the water, yogurt, and butter and frequently stir until it just barely starts to bubble
  • Add the heated water/yogurt/butter mix to the dry ingredients and mix as best you can with a spatula
  • Add the beaten egg and mix as best you can with a spatula
  • Using your hands, divide the mixture in half and form into balls.  We've noticed the dough comes out a little different every time we make it.  If the mix is too sticky, add some more flour. If the mix is too wet, you can either add more flour or give it some time to sit and absorb before deciding to add more flour.  If the mix is too dry, add a little water.  
  • Pat out the two dough balls on two separate cast iron pans into your desired pizza crust shape.  We use a 10 inch round skillet and pat it out to the edges as well as a 12 inch square griddle and pat it out round and fairly thin.  We like having the variety of crust thickness.
  • Place both pans in the oven, on separate shelves, and put them (as best you can) on opposite sides of the oven so one isn't directly under the other.
  • Bake until the crust just barely starts to brown.  We don't have an exact time, so just keep an eye on it.  The original recipe says 6 minutes. It might bubble up and that's OK.
  • Remove from the oven, but leave it on.  Add your desired sauces and toppings.  We usually do a very light layer of pizza sauce, then thinly sliced tomatoes, then diced sweet onions, and topped with shredded mozza cheese.  We've also used pepperoni (when in the states with access to Applegate Farms' pepperoni), pineapple, plain ground beef, and taco spiced ground beef.
  • Return to the oven and bake until your cheese is at your desired doneness.  For us it's until it's melted and just slightly starts to brown.  Just don't bake it too long or your crust will get too hard/crunchy.
  • Remove from the oven, transfer pizza to a cutting board, slice, and enjoy.  Be careful to let it cool a little so you don't char your taste-buds!

Friday, November 1, 2013

First trimester experiences ... yep, we're pregnant!

WE ARE PREGNANT!  WOOHOO!  We've been talking about it for a couple years and kept delaying, so we decided once we moved and settled in we would likely start working on a baby.  Our 5th year anniversary is February 14th and our present will be the baby!  We're due February 19th.  :)

The first trimester:
Around the date my period should start, I started having PMS.  I get this dull ache in the stomach plus periodic, horrible, sometimes bend over sharp pain that lasts 5-30 seconds.  I usually get this for 1-2 days then 1-2 days of calm before the actual period starts.  Well, this lasted for 5 days, so on the 6th we bought 2 pregnancy tests.  I took one that day around noon using the pee-on-stick method which looked positive.  I took another the next morning around 4:30 am using the pee in a cup then dip the stick in method which also looked positive.  It was Sunday and Father's Day, so we announced it to our parents.

After learning we were pregnant, some of my other symptoms made sense.  The week prior to the PMS, I noticed crazy mood swings, particularly in the morning like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed each day.  I'd wake up and feel down or grumpy.  This lasted about a week then the cramps started.  I also broke out on my face with acne worse than the normal period acne.  Another thing I noticed was not being able to make it to the next meal.  I would get hungry about halfway between like the pre-paleo days.

The PMS continued.  I could only sleep on my back.  Sitting was very uncomfortable and would trigger cramping.  After a couple days of this, I was feeling concerned.  My Mom had an ectopic pregnancy before, so this was in the front of my mind.  We went to a walk-in clinic to confirm the pregnancy and to see about the cramping part of the PMS.  They confirmed I'm pregnant, but did diddly about the cramping.  The doctor walks in with the urine test results going "I know what's wrong!" and looking at me like I should know.  He finally says it's because I'm not eating well and I'm burning ketones.  His solution was for me to eat more carbs/sugar.  /facepalm

The PMS continued for weeks.  I felt very tired and had a hard time concentrating.  We called the midwives to request their services.  Apparently, it's hard to get in with them.  While waiting to find out if I was selected we got in with an OBGYN.  We saw her for the first time at 7 weeks and she had us get an ultrasound because of my concern about the cramping.  The dull ache and low/mild cramps are normal during the first trimester, but sharp cramps should be looked in to.  The ultrasound showed everything looked OK, but I did have a tiny bleed spot.  She said it should just absorb into me, but if I notice any bleeding to contact her.  I had no bleeding and the next ultrasound at 20 weeks showed no bleed spot.

Pre-paleo I would wake up in the night a lot with horrible poop cramps.  This started happening again around the 2nd or 3rd week of the pregnancy.  It calmed down and went away after a week or two.

I was very motivated to eat well for I think the first half of the first trimester.  I was drinking bone broth, eating salmon, organ meats, avocados, etc.  I was trying to get in each day as much nutrient dense foods as I could per the recommendations of Wellness Mama, The Primal Parent, and The Better Baby Book by Dave & Lana Asprey.  Well, that came to a halt about half way through the first trimester as the extreme nausea started.  The OBGYN prescribed some medicine that had B6 in it, but we didn't fill it.  What got me through the nausea phase was: eating small meals throughout the day so I didn't get hungry as getting hungry made it SO much worse, sucking on ginger chews, and nibbling on slices of mozzarella cheese.  I only vomited one day during the first trimester.  It was a stressful day and we were running around town early in the morning trying to find a notary to notarize the papers to sell our house in the states.  I think between the stress, the car ride (I got motion sickness a lot before being pregnant. Being pregnant just upped the nausea level.), and being pregnant my stomach just could not take it.  Luckily I was carrying around the little doggy poop bags, so I managed to contain it in that and not all over my husband's car.

I didn't just have morning sickness.  I had all day sickness.  It would come and go in severity throughout the day.  Fun, eh?  It didn't help that we lived in an apartment.  Our neighbors below us would cook the most horrible smelling things (boil bamboo???) and it would drift up into our unit.  Our neighbor next to us smokes cigarettes and pot.  Every time he would go on his balcony, he would start hacking up a lung and would smoke.  I would have to run and close the windows and balcony door multiple times as it would come inside.  I already had a sensitive nose prior to being pregnant, but the pregnancy nose?  Ugh.  The nausea lasted a little into the second trimester as it slowly died away.  I do still get nauseous sometimes, but I believe it's mostly from anxiety and car rides.

Sitting hurt and still does.  Sometimes I can sit Indian style and recline a bit and manage to be OK for a while, at least until I stand up then my tummy aches a bit.  We set up my desk as a standing one again.  I used to have it this way before moving.  Standing was much better, but then my ribs right below my right breast started hurting.  Some days it hurts all the way around the side and to my back.  My shins also start hurting.  Haven't figured out how to solve this dilemma yet.  I have a cushioned bar seat to sit on, but my tummy protests right away.  I end up standing back up and dealing with the aches until I attempt to sit again.  Rinse and repeat.

Sleep?  Good luck with that.  Stomach was uncomfortable and would give me a horrible crick in the neck.  I've read to sleep on your left side.  I couldn't sleep on my right any more as something would hurt a lot: belly, knees, hips, ribs.  I mostly slept on my left for a while, but then the pain in the knees, hips, or ribs started and would start earlier and earlier so I was miserable all night.  I used all our spare pillows to put around me and between the legs, but it didn't help.  I ended up pulling out the wedge pillow and moving to the couch.  Yep, I sleep on the couch with my dog at my feet and/or my cat on my lap (he'd prefer to be on my chest or belly).  I miss my husband a lot.  Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning and there's just an hour to a couple hours left before we have to get up, I'll move to the bedroom and sleep on my side just to be near him.  Sleep is very important, so do what you can to find a comfortable or at least tolerable position and don't be afraid to try the couch!

Cravings?  Nothing really crazy like you hear about and nothing I just HAVE to have right away.  I craved sushi, so we went to a sushi place and I only had the California roll since it didn't have raw fish.  I was satisfied after that.  I craved ribs next.  We ate SO much ribs over the next week between Tony Roma's and the Saskatoon Rib Fest.  I still have no desire to eat ribs again.  I craved cheesecake, but it's not gluten free.  We ended up finding out about a gluten free dessert place and I was able to get my cheesecake fix there.  A gluten free restaurant opened in town.  We went there on my birthday and they happened to have apple pie as the special that day.  O M G it was amazing and gluten free!!

Aversions?  Red meat, particularly steaks, which is usually my favorite started tasting really weird and gross.  We ended up not eating it much for a while.  We cooked our first a week or so ago and it didn't taste so bad, so I think we're going to try another this week.  Hamburger is hit or miss.  I think the miss is mostly when we go out to eat with friends and family and just go with a bunless burger, most of the places use the same premade patty that is just absolutely disgusting.  Eggs fried in butter.  We have this for breakfast every morning, but I had to start cooking mine separately in coconut oil (husband can't stand eggs in coconut oil) as the smell would just kill me.  The worst has been the thought of eating salmon.  Just the thought makes my stomach churn and makes me feel like vomiting.

Sounds like a lot of complaining, eh?  I have not once regretted being pregnant.  The symptoms bite big time, but although my body feels like crap most days, my mind and spirit are happy and very much looking forward to meeting the baby!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Food/Product Recommendations

As I was writing the stew recipe, I thought I'd link some of the places we've tried and liked their products:
  • For those of you in the states, our favorite online grass-fed companies are: US Wellness Meats and White Oak Pastures.  I highly recommend liking them on Facebook and getting on their mailing lists.
  •  US Wellness Meats has a great newsletter with recipes, articles, what's been restocked, and what's on sale.  We've tried and enjoyed their ground beef, liverwurst, beef snack stick ends, pemmican, sugar free garlic hot dogs, polish pork sausages, and I'm sure others I can't think of right now.  I am sad that I no longer can eat their liverwurst.  I ate a pound a week by slicing it up evenly and having some with my eggs each morning.  I will have to find a new, good source or have hubby learn to make it for me. :)
  • White Oak Pastures periodically has sales.  We've tried and enjoyed their ground beef, beef stir fry, beef stew, NY strip steak, whole chickens, and chicken feet (to add to your broth!).
  • For those of you in the states and in the Auburn, AL area, we highly recommend buying local and going with Randle Farms.  They are great people with great products.  When we could get the meat delivered in Montgomery, AL, we purchased eggs and LOTS of ground beef then later participated in a meat share.
  • For those of you in Canada and in the Regina/Saskatoon, SK area the only company we've tried so far is Cool Springs Ranch.  They deliver once a month to Regina and to Saskatoon.  Make sure you check their calendar for when the "online store" opens and closes for your delivery location.  We've tried and enjoyed the rib-eye steaks, ground beef, stew beef, liver and eggs.  We've ordered more of a variety for our next pickup on May 25th.  Will update later on those products.
***More to be added later!

Please note: I am an affiliate of US Wellness Meats so I do earn a small commission if you purchase by visiting the website through my link.  I only recommend the companies/products I've tried and honestly like.

Beef Stew - Crockpot

My husband likes beef stew.  He's usually the one that makes it as I'm not a huge fan.  I figured I'd give it a go this time.  Here's what I remember doing:

  • 2 lbs grass-fed beef stew meat
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced to your liking (not a fan of carrots, so I prefer thinly sliced)
  • 2 large sweet onions, diced
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced to your desired thickness
  • 1 jar of mild organic salsa (check ingredients for sneaky bad stuff). Hubby made it last time with medium salsa.  That's what we add to our scramletes.  It made the stew way too spicy for me.  Hubby likes spice, but agreed that mild would probably be better for the stew.
  • We forgot to thaw the meat ahead of time.  It didn't get moved to the fridge from the freezer until the night prior, so it was still solid as a rock the next morning.  I stuck it in the crockpot as-is.
  • Dumped the salsa over the beef.
  • Set the crockpot on high.
  • Chopped up the onions and potatoes and added them.  Forgot about the carrots.  They went in about 3 hours later.
  • Started gathering everything and adding the ingredients as they were ready to the crockpot around 1:30 pm with it set to high.  Carrots went in around 4:30.  I think I turned it to low around 5:30.  Then remembered it was still cooking at 8:30 so shut it off.  I work from home now, so I was able to stir it periodically.
  • We netted 6 2 cup pyrex bowls full of stew.  BTW, we love our 2 cup pyrex bowls.  They are the perfect serving size for lunch.  Once cooled enough, they go in the fridge over night.  In the morning, I put a 3 in the freezer and the other 3 remained in the fridge for hubby's lunch for the rest of this week.
  • You can add more of these veggies or other veggies so you yield more.
  • My attempt was a huge success! Got a text from hubby after his lunch "lunch was tasty. yooz a good cook."  LOL :)  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Canada, eh?

Wow, we've been on quite a ride for the past year and a half!  I do hope to one day start posting again, about anything and everything.  Here's an update:
  • My hubby got an awesome job offer late summer/early fall of 2011.  The only thing was, it was in Canada!  That's home for my husband.  We talked and talked about it.  Wrote many pros/cons lists.  Then decided to go for it.  Ultimately, we want to start a family soon and we felt that with our lifestyle and ideals, starting it in Canada would be best for us.  He signed the contract, we started my Canadian permanent resident process, and he moved.
  • My husband is the love of my life, my best friend, my soulmate.  Living apart from him was extremely hard.  Thank goodness for technology!
  • Well, the job ended up not working out after only a month.  He stayed up there a bit longer to see if anything else was available and to help his parents out around their home renovation.
  • After a couple months, hubby came home and started looking for a job around here again.  Man, the job market really bites!  It was tough living off just my salary.  I did not make enough to cover all of our expenses, but thankfully I have an awesome Daddy who helped us out when he could.
  • After another couple of months, we talked about moving to Canada again.  We had received the last piece of information pending to submit our application right before hubby was laid off.  We misread the application rules and thought that if hubby didn't make a certain amount of money, he couldn't sponsor me, so we didn't mail the application.  I started re-reading everything and realized that since we don't have kids the income restriction DID NOT APPLY! /facepalm
  • So, we decided to send in our application which they received on May 2, 2012.  The estimated processing time was 11 months, so we figured it would be sometime in summer 2013 that our application would be approved and we'd move.
  • Hubby went back to Canada to help his brother out with some things and to help his parents out some more with their ongoing home renovation.  It helped us, too, as they covered his living expenses.
  • Hubby came home mid-November for a 2-month visit so we could spend the upcoming holidays together.  He prepared our house to be put on the market while here and on December 10, 2012 I received my Confirmation of Permanent Residence! WAY earlier than expected!  It helped that we had been married and living together over 3 years at the time of application and had no kids.  Ours was apparently a pretty straightforward and easy application.  My husband attributes it to my "mad paperwork skillz".
  • He returned to Canada mid-January 2013 which meant we didn't get to spend our 4-year anniversary together; however, hubby had an interview on February 1st that lasted almost 3 hours!  We were pumped!  Who would spend that much time talking to someone they weren't seriously considering to hire?!  His next interview was on February 11th that took another couple hours AND they offered him the job!!  He started on February 25th. 
  • We picked a date to move.  As, I'm a tax accountant we wanted it to be after April 15th so I didn't leave my work in a bind and also we wanted it to be after the snow was finished.  Hubby flies in April 19th and we drive out April 21st!  Just a week away.  Omg, my stomach just did some flips.
  • Man, over a year with only one income.  I don't know how others do it and with even less income.  It was hard, but I think it was a blessing for us.  It really forced us to scrutinize our expenses.  It made us have to stick to a budget.  We cut out a lot of frills like a Smartphone, cable, turbo internet, online gaming with monthly fees, no vacations, etc.  We didn't buy each other presents for all the holidays.  Spending time with each other and family was the best gift.  
  • Now that we're back to 2-incomes, we still have our budget.  Yes, I will still be working after we move.  I am very thankful my company is keeping me on.  I've been their tax accountant for over 7 years now.  I will be able to remote in and have access to everything I need to continue to handle my responsibilities for them.  
  • After we dig out of the hole we're in, we have plans to continue to live within one income.  You never know when we might be at only one income again.  We have goals like saving up to buy some property and building a small house, saving for vacations, saving for retirement, etc.  Our plan is that the 2nd income will go strictly towards savings for our goals/dreams.
  • So, you can see it's been a crazy time for us.  I can't wait to see my husband again.  I look forward to this next chapter in our life.  Now if only I can get my Daddy to move closer to Canada ...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pepper, my sweet puppy

Monday, September 24, 2012 I get home from work and Ozzy, my mini Australian shepherd, greets me as I get out of the car.  I'm like great, he dug out of the back yard AGAIN.  He sporadically does this.  He goes right into the house which means he's been out a while and has expended some of his energy.  I go to let Pepper, my wire hair terrier mix, inside and she isn't out there.  Ozzy dug a deep enough hole that she got out, too.  She never crawled out when Ozzy dug out until this week.  I start to panic because she didn't greet me as well at my car.  I talk to some neighbors and walk around the neighborhood.  Then I get in my car, turn onto one of the main roads which is frequently busy with people going WAY too fast and find her, just 2 houses down, dead on the side of the road.  My poor, sweet puppy, Pepper.  We've only had her 2 years and 26 days.  She was about a year the vet estimated when we adopted her.  She was so submissive to everyone and everything.  We lived in an apartment when we first got her.  She loved all the neighbor dogs but she would roll over on to her back regardless of the age or size of the dog she met.  Her buddy was a great dane.  We'd drop her off at my Dad's, now our house, on the weekends to play with Dad's 2 dogs.  She'd be so pooped on the way home that she'd pass out in my lap in the car.  It was so cute!  We got a cat, Rocco, next while in the apartment.  Before Rocco, she had a stuffed rabbit that she would carry all over the apartment with her.  She LOVED Rocco and he LOVED her.  She'd play with him and make all sorts of playful growly noises.  He didn't care when she pulled him by the tail across the wooden floor.  When we bought the house we adopted Ozzy so she'd have a playmate who could go outside with her while we worked.  They would ZOOM all around the backyard, catch squirrels and lizards, roll around on their stash of dead critters to get all smelly, and poke their heads in and out of the cinder block wall (doggy buffet ... or rather critter buffet as there wasn't dogs in it but critters).  Ozzy doesn't care to play fetch.  He'll go get the ball, but his favorite part is playing keep away from Pepper.  She didn't care about the ball, either, she just liked to try and get it from Ozzy.  They'd zoom even more around the back yard while Ozzy deliberately fumbled the ball so Pepper would keep trying for it.  As soon as you'd let her in the house, she'd completely ignore you and make a beeline for Rocco.  The play growling would commence while Rocco flopped on his back and just lapped it up.  Pepper also loved to do the belly crawl across our carpet.  Pepper eventually gained her confidence.  She was such a sweet and pretty doggy.  Our hearts are broken.  I love you, Pepper.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Taking Control: House

I didn't go without as a kid.  My parents are and grandpa was very loving and did their best to make sure I got everything I wanted, within reason of course (still hoping for that pony).  The downside of that was I had a lot of stuff: clothes, toys, stuffed animals, knick knacks, etc.  On top of that, for personal reasons, my Mom was and still is a hoarder.  As I grew up, our house became more and more cluttered with stuff: crafting supplies, sewing supplies, clothes, knick knacks, pictures, antiques, etc.  The older I became and the more cluttered the house became the more it bothered me.  So much was just tucked into a closet which became a whole bedroom which became numerous rented storage sheds.  Most of it was never used.

I fell into a similar routine.  My Mom ran a flea market for a couple years during my high school years which was such a bad thing for people like us.  We bought so much just because it was pretty or cool.  Since graduating high school in 2003 I started renting a storage unit and I have moved 5 times.  Packing and moving your belongings is NOT fun especially when you have SO much stuff.  It's overwhelming.  I am a neat and organized person, away from home, but once I got home from school and/or work I was tired.  I didn't have any motivation to do anything.  That plus a lot of stuff meant a messy house.  I hated it.  I started to completely go through my stuff a couple times a year and donate the items I could part with.  Very, very slowly my hoard got smaller.

I met the love of my life in 2007 and we were married on February 14, 2009.  My 4th move was into an apartment with my husband.  He moved from Canada to marry me and brought only what he could put in his carry on, 1 checked bag, and 1 mailed box yet we moved boxes and boxes of stuff into our 2 bedroom apartment.  I still had so much stuff pre-husband and received a lot of kitchen supplies from our wedding that we only really needed to buy a kitchen table.  Yes, I already had a couch BEFORE college.  It was crammed into my bedroom at my parents house.  When my husband and I moved into our first home together I made a BIG step towards reducing my stuff.  I EMPTIED my storage shed!  What I couldn't part with went into the 2nd bedroom, the rest my parents kept or was donated.  Yes!  I continued to periodically go through all of my stuff.  I found that each time I did, it was easier to part with things.  Repacking everything I wanted to keep and having an empty box left over was SO satisfying!  I love my family and friends but do I really need to keep everything they've ever given me?  NO!  The memory is in my heart not in that vase or bunny figurine.  If the item goes away, the memory doesn't!  Take pictures and/or start a blog/diary if you are afraid of forgetting anything so you don't need the item as a trigger to remember something.

My husband and I bought a 2,000 square foot house in December 2010.  That was my last move (for now).  I am happy to say that I have taken control of my house.  I have drastically reduced what I own and I do not purchase anything without giving it a great deal of thought.  I feel that what I have reduced my belongings down to is what's most important to me and necessities with a little bit of likes and some hobby items.  If there's something we want, it goes on a wish list.  I love Amazon's universal wish list button that I added to our web browser.  I also try to add it to a list on my iPod for when we are not at home (no smartphone here).  We really do not want to re-clutter our house and have decided to try to be as minimalist as we can.  We are by no means hardcore minimalists, but we do try our hardest to get over the OOO THAT'S COOL I WANT IT impulse and wait a while to purchase (if at all).  A lot of things we decide are just not worth it as it won't get used very often although it would be handy during the rare times we would (fancy ice cream scoop? spoon works just fine).

We are currently designing the house we are going to build in the future.  It is going to be 600 square feet with a 160 square foot loft master bedroom.  With that in mind, we've been working even harder to go more minimalist and will be putting a lot of items up on Craig's List soon!  It is SO relieving and refreshing to not be owned by my stuff.  I own them.  Most are just things.  If my house was destroyed for whatever reason, Heaven forbid, I would be OK.  It can't destroy my memories.

Taking control of your house, for most, will likely not be instant.  It took me years.  YOU have to REALLY WANT to for YOURSELF.  Once you want to, then take baby steps.  Go through a box here and there.  Any amount you can sell or donate gets you closer to your goal.  Think before you buy.  Don't buy now.  Put it on a wish list.  Get rid of a couple items to make room for that item.  Is there something you have already that's similar and can do the job?  Is it a convenience, necessity or cool gadget?  Will you get your money's worth out of it?  Don't forget your goal to take control of your house.  Write it down and put notes where you'll see it if you have to.  Thanks for reading and good luck!