Things I'm Into: Standing Up

It's going to be my goal every week to share at least one thing I'm currently into, be it a new thing I've discovered, something I'm experimenting with or just an old, resurrected obsession.  I was going to share two things this week, but, as usual, I talk too much.  I'm sure I'll still be into the other next week to share.  :)

First off, an app called Stand Up.  I've been dealing with a lot of body pain and stiffness lately.  I KNOW I need a new pillow (I finally ordered one!), but a lot of it comes from my typical, overly sedentary lifestyle.  I work as a cubicle drone and our chairs are awful.  I spent a month using an equally awful lumbar roll from my doctor and I managed to train myself to actually sit properly, which is wonderful as I'm the stereotypical sloucher.  The roll not only forced me to sit upright, but it alleviated some of the pressure on my back while my muscles learned to support themselves. There's more than that though, sitting all day just makes you stiff and sore and tired, no matter how good your posture, particularly since the aforementioned awful chairs offer no support. I'm just not ready to be "that person" who brings in a yoga ball to sit on or a standing desk setup, but I need to fix my pain.  Lately, I've been hearing (from various sources), for every 20-30 minutes sitting, we should be getting up and moving for a few minutes to counteract that damage.  I've already been making as many trips to the printer as possible, but I was ready to amp up.

I downloaded this app (free for iPhone, not sure about Android), which allows me to set a time frame for it to remind me to, well, stand up! I currently have it set for 30 minutes and I can simply leave my phone face up on my desk on silent and see the little notification pop up.  When it does, I either take a trip to the bathroom, go for some water, stand up and stretch or simply do some butterfly kicks or toe taps under my desk.  Employers don't really "get" or encourage truly healthy habits in their employees and I feel like getting up for a walk every 30 minutes would get me in trouble.  A sad fact about today's work life.

It feels great though, I move a little and work out the kinks before they really get a chance to settle in.  And butterfly kicks under the desk are actually a great little ab workout.  I only look a little silly, I'm sure. :) Body pain and aches are a serious cause of stress for me, and all I want to do when I get home is curl up on the couch and be tired, which only perpetuates the problem. I'm hoping to make this a habit, plus walks with co-workers at lunch and, soon, lifting (something I started a few weeks ago, but failed to continue for various reasons).

Do you spend most of your time sitting?
What sorts of things do you do to keep active and reduce pain?


New Name, New Outlook

Hey, folks!  It's Kate, of the former Better Than Bread blog.  I started this blog a few years ago when I discovered Paleo and a new passion for cooking (I used to hate to cook, it was the need to innovate and get creative that led me to love it).  I had a sudden urge to share any of my nifty creations, and at first, they were many.  Then, things happened.  I got more into the Paleo-sphere and realized how much was out there, life started stressing me out and I just stopped coming up with "new" things, or I decided that someone else could do it better and it just seemed exhausting to try.
Plus, frankly, I hate writing down recipes, because I am a "dash of this, dash of that and oh-crap-this-is-delicious-and-I-have-no-idea-what's-in-it" kinda cook.  I simply gave up and there was a long time of just ignoring this place that was meant to be my way to connect with the world.

But other things have also happened in that time.  My discovery of Paleo has led me to other great people who talk about nutrient density and food quality, plus looking at your skincare and cleaning products the same way you look at your plate.  My passion has grown so much beyond just a love of food (trust me, I still love food) into a desire to detoxify as many aspects of my life as I can control.

I have many goals.  I'm working to heal my gut and convince my husband we don't need conventional detergent (work in progress, guys, work in progress) and I'm learning new things every day that I just want to explore and experiment with.  So, my new name, Naturally Kate, is to reflect that goal.  I want to discover ME and I want to share it all.  Food, skincare, cleaning products, meditation, exercise, everything!
Even if no one reads this ever, it's part of my own journey to document each new thing.  Something cool I find, some new things I try that work, and things that don't work.  I love each and every one of you that might take the time to read this and tag along on this journey with me, but a lot of this is about learning how to be Kate, naturally.



The Road to Healing

Oh my, it has been a day.  Last night, I wrote up a long winded post basically whining about how absolutely terrible I felt.  I feel almost consistently bloated, moody/depressed, run down, unable to fall asleep nightly, sore all over, breaking out in tiny dry eczema patches and currently dealing with three freaking canker sores, a problem that went away when I went dairy free, not to mention the stubborn dregs of acne that I just cannot completely banish.  I decided not to post it though, because there was really no point.  It was just a vent session and I felt like a hypochondriac, inventing a ton of potential conditions, and I wanted to hold off until I could read it through and either add something useful, or decide that it was necessary to share.  That was yesterday.


Meal Planning and... ok, mostly babbling...

So, remember how I said I was going to post every week about my meal plans?  I have a REALLY difficult time forming habits.  All it takes is one missed day and, boom, back to square one.  It's something that I've both been working on improving and also working on accepting about myself.
After the weeks I did post, we went on an awesome mini weekend trip up to northern AL for some vineyarding and foodie adventures.  I took that week off from meal planning and we just sorta winged it, eating things from the freezer and cobbling together simple meals. There is NOTHING wrong with going to simple meal route.  I sometimes realize that I take on too much when it comes to meals because I get excited and want to make ALL THE THINGS! It can be exhausting sometimes when every meal is a fair amount of work and planning and recipe reading.


Another Week, Another Plan

I survived a week, y'all!  Actually, week 1 of my new meal planning went surprisingly well.  My fridge was full to bursting at the beginning, but by the end, I just had a few sets of leftovers that I've actually worked into this week's plan.  The prepped lunches and breakfasts made each morning move very smoothly.  Sometimes I was extra lazy at home and then packed up my breakfast to lug to the office too.
Dinner wasn't a perfect system.  I came home, we went for a swim, took a shower, then started prep and I pulled off some tasty meals.  But I still found myself wanting to plop on the couch after dinner rather than clean up the fresh mess I had made.  That part is simply going to come down to sheer willpower... and sometimes, I will be going to bed with a messy kitchen.  But hey, that's life. 


Motivational Hole and Meal Planning

I have a lot of passion for food.  Food is the main thing I am thinking about at all times.  Even when I am not hungry, I'm often daydreaming about what I will make and/or eat later when I am inevitably hungry again.  That passion, plus a love of cooking that developed when I began my whole foods lifestyle over two years ago, led me to begin this blog.
But unfortunately, I have discovered that the passion alone is not enough.  While I love to eat and often to cook, it is somewhat rare that I "create" or invent awesome new things to share.  So, once again, I've hit a long dry spell and abandoned this page. I really try not to look down on myself for my "failure" or for "giving up", but sometimes those feelings sneak in, that I will never be a real food blogger like some of the people I idolize and follow regularly, simply because I am too lazy and don't have enough willpower to put the work into creating.  
We all find ways to make ourselves feel small.  It's amazing the damage we can do to ourselves just by looking at our own lives versus another's.  But hey, its a work in progress.  I'm a work in progress. And that's ok.  You know what I'm gonna do?  Keep blogging.  
It feels awesome to think that someone is reading this and appreciating my words, and maybe even feeling inspired or enjoying the recipes I created.  But even if not one person glances at this, I need to write.  Even if I don't have a recipe to share, I still have words and experiences that could help someone.  And myself.  
So today, I'm going to tell you a little about what I HAVE been up to, rather than moping about what I HAVEN'T. The boy is in flight school for the army, which is why I am currently living in Alabama, and he started up classes again this week after a couple months' break.  During his break, I leaned on him a LOT for cooking and cleaning, because he had the time and I didn't have the energy or motivation (there's that word again).  His time has disintegrated to almost nothing as of today and I knew I needed to step up.  Last go around, I did ok, cooking dinners and trying to leave leftovers for lunches.  But, I felt disorganized and tired and, too often, there were either no leftovers, or Phil didn't want them, so he'd go for fast food and I'd scrounge for whatever.  So this was a slow death of a system.  
THIS TIME, I went in prepared.  I decided it was time to take on the time honored tradition of meal planning and prep. Dun dun dun.  I reached out to my awesome friends on TwoGrand (a social media food photo journaling app that is great for bonding with fellow health nuts and enjoying some good old food porn) for some suggestions on delicious prep food and went to work. This was my week one plan:

It went through a few modifications, but the idea was this: on Sunday, I'll prep a large, low carb, easy breakfast for me for the week (the boy doesn't eat breakfast and I've given up there), two lunches so we can alternate meals to reduce boredom and, each day, I'll cook dinner.  Everything is loosely or almost Whole30 friendly, because if I have good food ready to go, I'm less likely to cave to my cravings for naughty things, like the Urban Poser Dutch Baby I really wanted to make on Sunday (and frankly might make this weekend, if I'm still craving it).  Fridays are my cooking "day off" so the boy can get fast food for lunch and we'll probably go out for dinner.  Sundays will be a busy, big food prep day and then I only have to worry about making dinner, which makes life much less exhausting, when I'm not trying to make breakfast and lunch in the morning, plus dinner at night (BONUS: so much less dishes after dinner when there is nothing in the sink from the morning). 
So, yesterday was my first big food prep day.  I'm pretty damn proud of what I accomplished.  I made a batch of Mel Joulwan's Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup (which was ten times more amazing than I expected, I only wanted to use up old zucchini), and a large frittata made with a pound of homemade pork sausage (I like Gutsy By Nature's breakfast sausage), meatball marinara, 2 roasted spaghetti squash, mayo and lemonade.  Plus, I set Monday's tandoori chicken to marinating.  I didn't have to prep two lunches this time because we took a few things out of the freezer (it was too full, oops).  Still, busy day.

Suggestions to make everything easier:

Get soups and sauces that need to cook a while to bubbling ASAP, then ignore them.  

Find a baking temperature that works for all the things you are prepping.  My frittata and squash both baked at 375, so I threw them all in together.

Fridge Tetris
For marinara, it's much faster to start with a sauce you already like and add to it.  I used my favorite Classico tomato basil (DOES have sugar, so not ok for Whole30) and threw in plain tomato sauce and spices till it was doubled in quantity and extra delicious.

So what did I do?  First, I browned up my pork sausage, while sautéing the onions and chopping zucchini for soup.   Then I poured the sausage into the casserole pan to cool and started browning my meatballs (NOT very efficient, but I love pan cooked meatballs).  I got the zuke soup simmering and threw my sauce ingredients together to warm.  As I finished each batch of balls (three pounds of meatballs take a while), I threw them into the simmering sauce to finish cooking.  I topped my pork sausage with spinach and eggs and sent it into the fire, then split open and added the spaghetti squash to the oven also.  During any down time, I washed dishes.  SO MANY DISHES.
Once things finished, I started taking them out and trying to figure out how to tetris everything into my very full fridge.  This was the hardest part, but I think I did pretty darned good!

The last steps, when everything else was done, was mayo, lemonade and tandoori marinade, then I still had some serious evening chill time.  Not a bad day, huh?
Here's a tease of what I ate today:

"Tandoori" chicken with The Domestic Man's Aloo Gobi Matar


Cinnamon Carrot Soup (Paleo + AIP + Low-FODMAP + Whole30)

I eat a lot of carrots. It helps that I can get a 5lb organic bag at the store for 6 bucks. Plus, now that I am trying out being strict low-FODMAP AND low carb, my list of veggies has shrunk significantly. Carrots are a good compromise. They feel like a starchy vegetable, and are very versatile, as you may have noticed if you came to me from Instagram or TwoGrand and see carrots on my plate in some fashion many days. So, it makes sense that it was the ingredient I turned to when I was craving comfort food that met my current restrictions.

Don't forget your floor cleaner!
Browsing through some of my cookbooks, which I often do when needing inspiration (or gratuitous food porn), I saw a lot of soups made from starchy orange veggies. See where I'm going with this? 

Tada, carrot soup! I threw this together on a whim one night, knowing that cinnamon and carrots were a winning flavor combination.  Fortunately, with just a few, simple ingredients, it was easy to reproduce.  Cinnamon makes this soup extra warming and comforting, but so many flavors work with the sweetness of carrot. Try it with ginger or curry for something a little different. 

Cinnamon Carrot Soup (Paleo + AIP + Low-FODMAP + Whole30)

4 cups chopped carrots (or about 10 small-medium carrots... remember guys, I never deal in absolutes, so don't worry about this too much)
4 cups bone broth (I used beef, so if that works, anything will!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or ghee
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

Chop your carrots, don't worry about peeling them, especially if they are organic, and cover with the broth in a pot on the stove.

Bring to a boil, then walk away to watch tv and forget what you're doing until the carrots are almost mush (or, well, not really, just boil them until soft).

Using either an immersion blender if your carrots are really soft or a food processor, puree the carrots and broth until smooth.

Add olive oil, cinnamon and salt and blend well.

Adjust thickness by adding more broth if you wish a thinner soup and adjust seasonings to taste.  The cinnamon flavor will be light, but I like to leave it so and then garnish with extra cinnamon, so you still get the full flavor, without losing the vibrant orange color!

Serve hot or cold, with lots of cinnamon!

Happy eats!