Saturday, January 30, 2010

What do you mean you live "primally"?

I don't mean we live in a house made of sticks and mud and that Simon quit his job to actually "bring home the bacon" while donning a loin cloth.

I mean we follow The Primal Blueprint!  Click here to learn more.

Do you know what your meat ate for dinner?

We've been buying organic, grass-fed, free-range meat since we decided vegetarianism wasn't for us.  I rationalized that if we were going to eat meat, it had to be the healthiest, most-humanely treated meat available.  The benefits are huge, not only to your health, but also for the planet.  I know a lot of you already eat this way, but for those who are interested, I think Mark Sisson at best summarizes why grass-fed, organic, truly free-range meat is superior to conventional meat:

We have been buying our meat from US Wellness Meats, Hearst Ranch, Trader Joe's (sometimes they carry organic, 100% grass fed ground beef), and now I think we will start buying Sommers brand from the Sprouts that just opened by our house.  We always try to buy local, but so far the only local supplier we know of is Hearst Ranch and they can be pretty pricey. 

Did you also know that chickens naturally thrive on a grass-fed diet, full of rich vegetation and juicy insects for their liking?  I am so excited because I finally found a local supplier of grass-fed, organic, truly free-roaming poutry at Rainbow Ranch.  Come to think of it, I need to go place my order right now!

And of course we also only eat pastured, organic eggs.  Please read Cheeseslave's post here to learn why; I think she summarizes the reasons beautifully. 

Some people think that eating this way is a luxury and that they can't afford it.  I agree in certain situations.  But I think for most of us, if we cut out all the processed, boxed crap and unnecessary expenses, we would see that buying quality food is the best investment we can make in our health and our future.

Natural mold and mildew cleaner

Like most of you, we like to use only natural cleaning products in our house.  There are so many yucky chemicals in most household products, and after having Noah, I became even more aware of this issue.  Luckily, stores now carry many more natural cleaning products than they use to.  We love Mrs. Meyers when we're in a pinch!  Method by Target is another one we reach for from time to time, but I'm not totally sure I buy that they are super duper natural.  I guess the best way to ensure you are using a truly natural product is to make it yourself!  Which brings me to a simple remedy for that yucky mold and mildew that creeps into our shower and bath...

Mix two teaspoons tea tree oil with two cups of water in a spray bottle.  Spray down the nasties and do not rinse.  Spray the mildew/mold prone areas at least once a week for prevention.

I use to use bleach for this problem until I read about how bad bleach is for the environment and our bodies. 

What natural remedies can you recommend for household cleaning purposes?

Cloth napkins

While we're on the subject of reducing waste, let's talk about ditching your paper towels and paper napkins, if you haven't already done so, that is.  They are totally unnecessary.  Plus every meal feels like a special occasion when you're using a lovely cloth napkin!  Then you just throw it in the wash with the rest of the towels.  I would recommend buying a darker color napkin to hide food stains.  I bought some cheap cloth napkins at Target (I'm sure you can find them even cheaper elsewhere) for meal times, and we use any old towel to soak up a mess in place of a paper towel.  I'm not sure why we still buy paper towels, though.  In any case, we haven't had to buy any in a long time!  I think the hubby just has some issues with change, even if it is for the better.  Having paper towels on the counter somehow makes him feel more secure.  Or something like that.

One time we were enjoying a picnic lunch at the park and another mom saw me wiping Noah's face with a cloth napkin.  She said, "Oh here!  I brought some napkins.  You don't have to use that towel thing."  I didn't say anything and just took her napkin...I'm still working on navigating these issues in social situations:)

Do you re-use your ziplock baggies?

One of the things we do in our home is reuse plastic ziplock baggies.  We try to avoid using them to cut down on waste (and use a glass container instead to store things) but sometimes only a ziplock baggy will do.  We have found that you can wash, dry, and re-use ziplock baggies over and over again and have saved some pretty pennies (and space in our landfills) by doing so.  Some recycling centers will accept the plastic baggies, but I'm honestly too lazy to drive my little baggies all that way.  So we just use the baggies until they are worn out and then toss them. 

To wash the baggy, simply turn it inside out and wash it with soap and water.  Then leave it inside out to dry.  I am working on getting the hubby to make me a ziplock baggy stand dryer thingy.  Pics to come.  Some people put their ziplock baggies in the dishwasher's top rack and wash/dry it along with your dirty dishes.  Of course, never re-use baggies that have stored raw meat. 

Do you do this too?  What is your method?

Friday, January 29, 2010

How it all began...

Do you ever look at your life and wonder, "How did I come to live my life this way?  What chain of events led me to this point in time?"  I do. 

Just last night I was laying in bed thinking about how different I use to be, specifically before my son was born.  It's funny how you think you know things, but then you find out you don't.  I guess that's the beauty of life...we are always learning and growing.  I think keeping an open mind and accepting new ways of doing things create the most opportunities for growth. 

Anyway, I was wondering last night what led me to my slight obsession with eating the healthiest foods possible and living in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.  I think it all came about after Noah was born.  I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my future child, but I didn't know how important it really is and how much it impacts and changes you as a woman until I experienced it first hand.  I really think the fact that I chose to breastfeed Noah impacted my life for the better, in terms of health.  And I know that his birth made me just plain care more about the planet.  I'm not saying that whether one chooses to breastfeed or formula feed impacts all women in this way, I'm just saying that it impacted me.  I know of many women who formula fed and feed their children extremely healthily; I also know many women who breastfed and don't feed their children all that well.  For me, when I decided to give my child the healthiest start possible by breastfeeding him, I wanted to continue feeding him the healthiest foods possible when it was time for him to experiment with food.  I researched all the different ways, and realized that "child led solids" made the most sense to me.  I had followed my child's lead since birth by nursing on demand and other means, so I really wanted food to be on his terms as well.  This meant skipping the spoons, purees and baby cereals so that he could pick up real, organic food and learn how to eat it himself.  Of course some people freaked out about this, worried that he would choke.  But the reality is that baby's fine motor development (his ability to actually pick up food with is hand) matches his oral development (his ability to mash and chew the food with his gums and then successfully swallow it or spit it out).  So basically, if they can't pick it up and get it in their mouth, they are not ready to eat it.  This readiness takes place around six months of age, which is when most doctors recommend starting solids.  If you are interested in learning more about child led solids, follow this link. 

So we decided from an early age to feed Noah organic, whole foods and their derivatives.  No processed crap.  This of course carried over to how we ate as a family.  If you want your kid to eat healthy, you have to only keep healthy foods in the house.  I always thought I ate healthy until I started eating like my child.  The sticky part came when he wouldn't eat meat.  I worried he wasn't getting enough protein and/or iron so I began researching the best vegetarian diets to make sure I complemented his diet with proper nutrients.  In that quest for knowledge, I was seduced by all the vegetarian, vegan, and raw diet books and their claims of better health and a more sustainable planet.  So we all went vegetarian!  I even went near-vegan for awhile. I didn't worry so much about Noah because he had a pretty balanced diet and I was still nursing him.  But I started to just not feel "right" so I found a naturopath through a vegetarian support group.  She was suppose to be very vegetarian friendly.  She was, but do you know what she told me? That I shouldn't be a vegetarian!  She said I am a protein type and need animal based protein as the base of my diet.  I followed her advice and also turned to, Paleo diet websites, The Schwarzbein Principle, and eventually, found Mark Sisson's book, The Primal Blueprint.  All of these sources led me to the conclusion that I should only be eating what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate:  Meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, and their whole food derivatives.  I guess I had to turn vegetarian to meet a doctor who would tell me I should not be a vegetarian! 

So here we are, following The Primal Blueprint, and feeling more energetic, lean, content and satiated than ever!  Noah, by the way, grew out of his aversion to meat and loves it now.  But we don't buy just any meat...we always go for organic, grass fed meat.  I will detail where we purchase our meat in a later post.  I have never felt this good about my body and state of mind, and I have never had this much fun cooking and eating!  Giving up grains, processed foods, and sugar has been the best thing I've ever done for my health.  I know it sounds crazy, giving up grains especially, but I promise that once you start eating this way and trying some of the recipes I post, you will forget about all the grains you thought you couldn't live without.  And once you start noticing your body leaning out, you will be even more motivated to incorporate this lifestyle. 

Another important aspect of The Primal Blueprint is the way you exercise.  It is imperative to tone down your workouts by focusing on low-level cardio and a few strength training sessions a week, complemented with sprints every week or so.  Because when you overdo your cardio and engage in long workouts, you're just compromising your immune system and you're hungry all the time!  And what do you crave?  CARBS, but the kind you don't want like grains and sugar.  You want to focus on getting your carbs from fruits, veggies, and nuts.  And you also want to eat high-quality FAT.  That's right, I have lost weight by eating more fat and actually consuming more calories than I did before making this lifestyle change.  And I actually exercise way less than I use to, yet am better able to build and maintain muscle with the way I am eating.

So along with eating this way, we also strive to buy all our food in its freshest, most natural state.  That means buying organic and locally.  I will detail these specifics in future posts.  Eating this way naturally spills over to other areas of your life...from the products you clean with, to the products you put on your body.  You just want to live as close to the way nature intended which means going for natural products and materials.  If only I had known all of this long ago!  But that is why I am starting this blog...maybe some of the information here will impact others.  Please feel free to comment on any posts and enlighten me with information I have yet to gather!