Sunday, December 12, 2010

Primal Butternut Squash soup

Yum Yum! I LOVE Butternut Squash. It's a little higher on the carb side- but still primal in moderation, and SUPER satisfying.

1 Large butternut squash
2 cups of chicken stock
1 large onion
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Cayenne pepper powder

Cut the squash in half and roast face down on a cookie sheet in the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour (or until soft). Meanwhile, sautee a chopped onion until translucent. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. When the squash is done, scoop it out of the shell and mash with a potato masher. Stir into the broth. Take off heat and add heavy cream. Serve, and garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

SO YUMMY. If you want a smooth texture (rather than chunky), you can put everything in a blender when it's done and blend until smooth.

I've also been known to save a couple of table spoons of the squash and make a primal smoothie with heavy cream, ice cubes, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm famous!

Blog posts have been few and far between lately (preparing for finals has been brutal), but I wanted to post my latest claim to fame... I was featured on my favorite blog! My narcissistic side is very much satisfied today. You can see the post here:

Thanksgiving was fantastic (I had THREE of them this year). I ate a lot of non-primal foods, but I didn't feel guilty. One thing I have definitely learned is that it is OK to eat what you want on occasion. Mark Sisson says that there is an 80/20 rule. As long as you follow this lifestyle 80% of the time, you will have success. I guess Thanksgiving was my 20% for the year! Tomorrow I start right back on track with making sure I eat only the best stuff for my body. I'm actually excited to run again (I've missed it this weekend!). I hope everyone else had a really great Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My 30 Day Primal Challenge Results

Well, I completed my 30 day Primal Challenge. Above you can see a picture of me 6 months ago, and a picture from today.

My goals for the 30 day challenge: Sleep longer, wake naturally, lift heavy things twice a week, moderate cardio 4-6 hrs/week, and not eat any sugar for 30 days.

My results were pretty good. I didn't sleep any longer or wake up naturally (I still need to work on that). This was really difficult because I work third shift at the hospital a couple of nights a week.
I did start lifting heavy things at least once a week and tried my best to do twice a week. I started running two miles x three days a week. I hardly ate any sugar during the month- except that I ate a TON of apple butter and biscuits last Saturday at our family apple butter making day at the farm. But it was sooo good!

So over the last 30 days I lost 7 pounds! Not bad! I'm pretty happy with that. My goal has been to lose at least 5 pounds a month- and I've definitely been losing at least that over the past 6 months. If I continue this way I'll meet my goal by Spring!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Primal Exercise

I've been trying to incorporate more primal exercise into my life. It's been difficult- I feel like I've been "sabotaged" several times. I was really enjoying using my elliptical, but it broke. I have a gym membership and teach kickboxing once a week. Afterwards, I always lift for about half an hour.
I've wanted to go to the gym more- with the thoughts, "I'll just wake up an hour and a half early and be back home in time to get ready for school," but when the alarm rings at 5am, I'm just not feeling it. I snuggle under the warm blankets and decide I'll do it tomorrow instead.
Primal fitness says that you should "lift heavy things" twice a week, sprint once a week, and do moderate cardio 4-6 hrs/week. I think I've got the lift heavy things and the sprinting. It's the moderate cardio I'm having trouble with. I don't know how to do it moderately!
I used to run a lot when I was in highschool- I loved it! Now when I try to walk, I want to run. When I run- I want to run a couple of miles. My heart rate always goes way up- and that is not moderate cardio. Then when I'm done- I'm starving and I want to eat. So I'm in this vicious cycle of not knowing how to moderately exercise. I either don't exercise at all- or I exercise too much.
I'm going to be running a 5K in two weeks, so I ran on the treadmill last night to see if I could do 5K. It felt SOOO good, but it was definitely strenuous. I was pouring sweat and really out of breath. I could feel my heart rate was sky high. I don't want to sabotage my primal plan- so how do you moderately exercise? How do you run "moderately"?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I seriously underestimated nursing school!

So I got a four year Bachelor's degree back in 2005 in Psychology. I thought it was pretty hard and I felt pretty good about myself for finishing (especially because I was pregnant with my oldest during the last semester). When I decided to go back to school for an Associate's degree in nursing, I thought it would be a piece of cake. It's just an associate's degree- and it's from a local community college. How hard could it be?

Little did I know it would be the most difficult thing I've done yet! First of all, it is very difficult to get into a nursing program. I was one of over 800 applicants- and only 100 of us got in. Every semester, about a quarter of us flunk out- so our class keeps getting smaller and smaller. I have to juggle clinicals, tests, check offs, media labs, skills practices, and lectures. I have to write care plans, memorize skills precisely step by step, and study my rear off for exams. We only get grades for our exams- and there are only 3-4 exams per semester. Which means if you mess up on ONE exam, you could flunk the class (flunking is below a 77%, BTW). If you preform a skill wrong on the first try, you get a second try a couple of weeks later. If you don't do it right the second time, you get kicked out of the program. If you don't pass the medication calculation math exams with 100%, you also get kicked out of the program.

After allllllll of this, I have to take the NCLEX after I graduate (which costs over $300). If I don't pass the NCLEX, I have to wait several weeks and take it again (another $300). I can take a class to prepare me for the NCLEX- but I'll have to shell out another $500.

Many of us in my program are non traditional students. We are moms, some with full time jobs, wives, and husbands. It is not easy!

Luckily I've been blessed with a VERY supportive husband. He is so good at helping me with the house work, taking care of the kids, and giving me time to sleep when I've worked the graveyard shift. He cooks when I'm too tired, and hugs me when I'm crying because of the stress. I don't think I could do it without him.

Heaven help me make it through this last 8 months!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My 5 favorite healthy snacks

So I've already posted about all the stuff that I don't eat- which may leave some people wondering, what CAN I eat? My list post from a couple days ago went well- so here's another list: some of my favorite snacks and why they are good for you...

1. Blueberries with full fat cream. Blueberries have a low value on the glycemic index and are loaded with antioxidants. Eat them with a little bit of full fat organic cream- and it is heaven! Heavy cream is also a good source of saturated fat- which contrary to popular belief is GOOD for you! (But that's another post)

2. Nuts. I love to eat almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios. They are high in heart healthy PUFAs and Omega 3s. Avoid, peanuts, though- which are high in MUFAs and toxic molds. They're actually legumes anyways.

3. Kale chips. When I want something crunchy, I make kale chips. Just take some torn up pieces of kale and massage olive oil and salt into them. Then lay them out on a cookie sheet and roast at 300 degrees for about 20-30 min. They are crunchy and delicious. They are also high in Vitamin A! I sometimes add a splash of vinegar before roasting.

4. Greek yogurt with honey. Natural raw local honey is high in sugar, but can be healthful if eaten sparingly. I love a cup of full fat plain greek yogurt drizzled with a little bit of honey. Greek yogurt contains probiotics which can be good for digestion.

5. Smoothies. I make them all different ways. Sometimes it's yogurt, blueberries and milk. Sometimes it's bananas and strawberries. Just don't add any sweeteners. Sometimes, for a boost of protein, I'll add a scoop of whey powder. Also, you can add a handful of baby spinach for some extra vitamins.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Five things you should throw out of your fridge/freezer right now!

I decided for tonight's post to give some info on the five foods you have in your fridge/freezer that you should definitely get rid of. You may have thought they were healthy- but they're not!

1. Those frozen diet meals. It doesn't matter what company makes them- they are bad! The only reason people lose weight eating them is because they hardly constitute enough food to make a meal. If you only eat 1/5 cup of any kind of food- you'll lose weight. What you don't realize, is that they are LOADED with sugars, carbs, and sodium. You may lose weight eating only those- but you will NOT be healthy.

2. Peanut butter- even the natural stuff. I always kept a jar of natural peanut butter in my fridge, thinking it must be healthy since it's natural. On the contrary- peanut butter is terrible. Peanut butter is loaded with oils that are not heart healthy and sugars. Peanuts also contain a carcinogen; aflatoxins (see here: ). Instead- eat unsweetened almond butter, cashew butter, or even sunflower seed butter.

3. Fat free/low carb/no taste ice cream. You know the stuff I'm talking about. You think it's healthy because it's "double churned" or "low carb." It's not. It's processed, sugar/sweetener filled junk. It doesn't even taste good. If you're going to eat ice cream- eat the GOOD full cream full fat stuff. But only indulge in it once in a while (once a month or every other month).

4. Diet drinks. Sure- they're calorie free- but they can still cause an insulin spike in your blood after you drink them. If you keep downing those diet drinks and putting artificial sweetener on everything you eat, you will keep causing an insulin surge in your blood. But there is no glucose for the insulin to act on- so you become insensitive to insulin- and you become diabetic. Stay away from the artificial sweeteners!

5. Skim milk. You might as well be drinking high carb water. It has no nutritional value other than a tiny bit of calcium. It also tastes like water. Instead, you should drink the full fat, non homogenized, organic milk. Yes- it costs twice as much- but it is SOOO good- and also good for you. In a future post I will say why fat is good. Full fat, unprocessed milk can give you energy and vitamins. Also- if you're lactose intolerant, you're more likely to be able to digest the full fat non homogenized milk because it has considerably less lactose and casein than skim milk.

I have a million other foods I could comment on - but this is it for now. Thanks to for most of the info I put in here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Teaching chastity

Today in church, my second counselor taught a lesson about chastity to a room of teenage girls. She did a really great job, especially considering how difficult it is to talk "the birds and the bees (and the consequences)" with teenage girls. All of the girls in our group are aged 12-17.

As I was listening to the lesson, I started feeling very anxious and worried about the girls in our class. Teenagers have to face such pressure any more about becoming sexually active before they should. Some of them have boyfriends, and some are just starting to date. I have others who are very young but are already talking about dating and boyfriends. Even our youngest girls face the pressures to date from such seemingly innocent sources as "Hannah Montana" and "iCarly." They also face the pressures from class mates wanting to know how far they've ever gone and are considered lame if they don't participate. If they don't have boyfriends they are considered undateable or too "goody-goody." Schools are no longer teaching abstinence, claiming that it is unrealistic. Even their teachers and counselors will provide them with birth control, but won't counsel them about the benefits of waiting until marriage.

I feel so worried for them! There are so many consequences from becoming sexually active before marriage. The weight of such an emotional commitment to someone can be overwhelming for a teenager. Teenage boyfriends usually don't last, and they risk giving up their most precious possession (virtue) to someone who will just toss it away for the next girl to come along.

I know this lesson probably sounded lame coming from a bunch of adult women, but we do worry about them and love them and want them to avoid the pitfalls of dating too early or being sexually active too early. Hopefully some of the message will stick with them. I do know for a surety that waiting is worth it. Nothing is more rewarding than kneeling across the alter with a righteous man and making covenants to him and to God to be faithful to each other.

When their parents tell them not to date until they're 16, and only group dates until they're 18, I hope they see it is for a reason! If they get to know a lot of different guys, and have fun dating lots of different people in safe situations (like group or double dates) without getting serious- then they will be saved from so many of the heart aches that sexually active and exclusively dating teens face. Teenagers fall in love HARD (I remember- I fell in love twice while I was a teenager). That breakup when you go away to college, or on a mission, or just because, is SO unbearably painful. This breakup can be 100x MORE painful if they have been having an intimate relationship.

I try to tell them not to date exclusively until they are emotionally capable of handling it- but sometimes they look at me like I have 3 heads. I guess all we can do is teach them as we know best and pray that they will make the right decisions that help lead them to a happy and Christ-centered marriage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What is living "Primal"?

Lots of people have been asking me what I mean by living "primally". Really it's a whole change of lifestyle. It's not just a diet to lose weight. Some people start living this way to GAIN weight. Basically, it is just returning back to a natural healthy you. I don't have a goal weight in mind- my goal is to be healthy. I want to live a long happy life, weight loss is just an added bonus to becoming healthier.

While I've been in nursing school I have noticed that most of the patients I've cared for suffer from health problems as a direct result of their lifestyle. I see a lot of Type 2 Diabetes, Emphysema, COPD, obesity, cardiac problems, etc. I hated seeing people (some of them pretty young) going through such suffering. I knew that I had to make a difference in my life or suffer a similar fate.

So I decided to dive into this lifestyle head first. There are lots of facets to living primally. The first and biggest difference was a change in the way I eat. I cut out all processed foods and now try to eat organically as possible. I cut out sugars and starches and eat quality fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and proteins. This has taken a lot of creativity to tweak my favorite foods to make them primal (Like shredding cauliflower instead of eating white rice).

I've also added primal exercise- which includes lifting heavy things, and lots of moderate cardio (5-6 hrs/week). I've also tried to add more play to my life. When was the last time you played tag with your spouse and kids? It's really fun! My brother is great at playing primally. When he was over last year he climbed one of our backyard trees. My kids thought it was so funny! Months later, when I was playing outside with them, they asked me to climb the tree. "Mommy is too big," I said. My oldest was quick to say, "But our Tio isn't too big?" That REALLY made me think. Why can't I climb a tree? Who says grown-ups can't climb trees? So one of my goals is to become physically fit enough to PLAY.

Another aspect to primal exercise is learning to use your body the way our ancestors used to. We didn't sit in chairs or desks all day, and we certainly didn't use the big heavy shoes we wear. When I was in Africa, I noticed the men and women who were over 80 years old still squatting on their heels for hours at a time and being able to stand back up with no problem whatsoever. I want that for myself, too! I just need to figure out how to do it right. I'm also going to read the book "Born to Run" by McDougall. I have been really curious about the barefoot running movement.

Other primal changes I've tried to make to my life include sleeping enough hours every night and getting some sunlight every day. The sleeping thing definitely needs some work right now.

Being in school, having two kids, a job, and a husband who is also in school and has a job is a lot of work! By the end of the night I fall into bed completely exhausted way past a reasonable hour. Then I wake up after too few hours of sleep to a blaring alarm clock. I know it can't be healthy to do this day after day. So this week I'm going to try my best to get to bed at a decent hour. I'm also going to get one of those alarm clocks that gradually wakes you up. We'll see how that goes.

So I have all of these lofty goals set for myself for the next thirty days. I'd also like to make sure I'm playing the piano regularly, doing my oldest's reading workbook with her daily, Family Home Evenings weekly, and scripture study daily. I want to be happy now. I spend too much time waiting for the next milestone in life to think I will finally be content. But if I keep living that way, I'll never be content. So it's time to seize the day!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Drum roll please.... my first ever blog post!

Well I have decided to jump on the "blogging" bandwagon and create my own blog. Mostly because I feel like I need a therapeutic way to sort out the stuff that happens to me during the week. I felt inspired to start because I want to share the things that are important to me with others.

A little about me: I am a nursing student finishing my last year of nursing school. I hope to one day be a nurse midwife and have a homebirthing practice. I haven a husband, two children, a dog, and 5 hens. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and religion is very important to me. I also practice martial arts, play the piano, and sing.

Today I am starting a 30 day "Primal Challenge." I am committing to the Primal Blueprint lifestyle and will be trying to strictly follow it for the next 30 days. I started by reading "The Primal Blueprint" recommended to me by my dad. He lost 50 pounds following it, so I wanted to try it too. I read the book, and although I don't really believe all the evolutionary stuff, I do think that the science behind it is valid. So on March 21, 2010 I started with my first 30 day challenge. The first couple of weeks gave me a "carb flu" and I felt like crud. I hadn't realized how addicted I was to sugar and sweets. Even though I felt bad, I promised I would stick it out for 30 days. After the carb flu was over- I felt amazing! So now, 4 months later I have lost 40 lbs and have really reduced my cholesterol and triglycerides (I'll show these pictures and blood info in a future post). What I really love about primal living is that it is a healthy change that you can do even if you are expecting (which I'm not) and even children can follow. Very few nutritional changes (or diets) can be recommended for those who are pregnant or under 18.

So, if you would like to try living primally, go ahead and start the 30 day challenge. All of the information that you need to know about it is on . You could do this entire lifestyle change without buying a single thing, because he puts all of his information on his blog for everyone to see.