Meal Planning- its not just all Paleo books!

I have felt like Sleeping Beauty after three weeks traveling around the USA visiting family and friends followed by a rugby tour in Paris complete with an England win at the Womens Rugby World Cup.  My body really needs a complete detox however I am only home for a few days before leaving on another bank holiday weekend trip to see the UK family and a friends wedding in “The North”.  What I have learned from my travels is that once you domesticate a man you cant leave him alone for too long… I have returned home from 4 weeks travel to a broken sick husband (love those summer colds!) and a fridge that looked like this: 


This weeks recipes will be a bit of a mix from online (where available) and recipe books.  I love real recipe books but also have bought several on Kindle- in the case I cant find the recipe online for you I will include the book, author and page number for you.  Also not all recipes are 100% paleo… after 3 years of education into the paleosphere I have learned what I need to avoid and what I can get away with- so occasionally you will see me cooking with alcohol, a bit of dairy and due to CrossFit and rugby I earn the right to nibble on some gluten-free carbs.  HOWEVER after all this traveling and partying I need to clean up my act a bit (lots of dirty habits have gotten in!) so next week you may be getting W30 menu for the next month!  

***FYI I grew up in the USA and have lived in the UK for years, you may see me switching between metric and English measurement units and use both words (ex courgette vs zucchini)- I suggest you have a kitchen with both types of measurements to make the best use of online resources!  




-Left overs

-Fritatta filled with roasted sweet potatoes, onions, chorizo

-Bulletproof Coffee- (16oz organic freshbrewed coffee, 25-50g of grassfed butter, tbsp coconut oil, scoop of vanilla or choc protein powder)




-Braised Brisket from @chefedwardlee (from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee) Cooked with rub but no glaze made –

-Vegetable stir fry with Kimchi- Courgette, Carrots spiraliized with thin sliced cabbage and onions. Stir fried with bacon scraps, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and a dash of Bragg’s Aminos and kimchi  (kimchi will be store bought because I don’t have time to make it this week).  




-Chili marinated chicken thighs (recipe to follow)

-Mexican Street Corn from @simplesatisfyin –

-Fried green beans with mushrooms and shallots from @seasonalsavory-




-Beef Stew from @GrassFedGirl

– Biscuits from @paleocomfort  But substituted with sweet potato flour found at a Jamaican grocery store


Mindfulness for the Mindless

Its been a bad few months for me… First it was folic acid anemia that isn’t responding to treatment- leaving me taking naps like a toddler most afternoons and long slow recoveries from any workout. So I made a graduated plan to slowly build up my workouts… then cracked a bone in my foot

So as a hobbling cripple I knew that I needed to give my body time to heal and focus on the other two legs of a paleo lifestyle- diet and stress.

I have never been one for mindfulness or meditation. The only way to get my to enjoy yoga would have been to turn it into a competitive sport. So I turned to the internets for some help and was met by Headspace.

Just 10 minutes a day- guided meditation with a programme that builds up.

Day 1- In my closet at school… found it interesting but was a bit of an issue as it was break time and all I could keep hearing was girls screaming outside.

Day 2- On a small piece of grass at school behind a building- BEST YET! was able to relax, meditate and stretch out a bit with my barefeet on the lawn (yay for grounding!)… began to believe this shit was going to work

Day 3- Went back to my spot but discovered that some dresses are better for sitting cross legged than others. Distracted by sitting (should have just laid down!) Sun too hot- find shady place for future

Day 4- grassy piece of park city centre will running errands- starts great! Settled right into the meditation and immediately a nice feeling rolled over me (like that old high I used to get from diet coke)… HOWEVER a few minutes in I feel some movement around me. Birmingham is a lovely city however it isn’t the safest- assuming someone is trying to steal my bag or shoes I open my eyes to discover I have been surrounded by a rowdy flock of pigeons ready to eat my toes off… shoo them away but have difficulty setting back into a good mindset- meditation abandonted

Day 5/6- ACK THE WEEKEND!!! I find it easiest to stick to routines during the week when I am on a school schedule but without it I fall to pieces. As this is the last day of school I will need to quickly adjust….

So I have learned I can meditate and I like the feeling I can gain from it… however my focus still seems to be a bit scattered everywhere and I need to find better hiding places….

Half a Paleo Household….

I have been very luck that by 30 years I have gotten to travel and move around the world, meet the love of my life and settle down with him. However close we are together and things we share (like our strong affinity for all things dinosaur or TexMex related) there are many ways that we differ. Sadly many of these things are those that affect health.

Fights about exercise and food are daily things.. I wouldn’t even call them a fight as its usually an exchange of words and I give up knowing that I cant change him. Since getting married I have lost a stone and a half where my other half has seemed to have found that and added it on to his already soft frame.

I wake up in the mornings to go to CrossFit or run- I will admit I am much more of a running person. He complains its my fault that he doesn’t run because I don’t get him up. Every time we have this discussion in bite my tongue and don’t mention those few times I did he bitched and moaned for the entire time- and running is my time to clear my mind and listen to some podcasts. I set it up for him to take the CrossFit intro class- he has never attended since citing the people there are all douches and he isn’t flexible enough to do any of the things. He started playing rugby then dropped it because the weather got too cold and even as a prop he wasn’t fit enough.

I know when it comes to exercise we come from different worlds. I grew up in America- played competitive sports all year long and was good at it continuing through university. Sports was and continues to be huge part of my identity and is what makes me feel good when I am stressed or down. He once did Karate for a year and some football on the school playground. He sometimes calls me a bloke with tits… probably jealous that I can lift more than him and am a better prop.

The issues continue far deeper into food. There was a time in our relationship where we both would indulge and I only got sicker and sicker. The difference is I decided to do something about and he has decided to pick apart my reasoning (without research) and mock me anytime that I give into an indulgence saying the whole thing was futile. He snickers when I explain that I was diagnosed with IBS 10 years ago and although I have not been very good with it in the past I am working to change that now. He picks apart any reasoning for eating gluten free but including fatty meats and the god forbidden saturated fat bomb that is butter. He points out my failure every time I decide to treat myself and asks why I bother. When it comes to shopping I just do it myself so I can pick the best produce, grass-fed meats and free range eggs… which is only made a simple affordable task because we live in the UK.

I know however under all the comments is someone who is not confident in themselves at the moment. Someone who struggles to get up each morning and often doesn’t feel well- but doesn’t know what to do and is scared to try something that may be uncomfortable for a while. I love him dearly and as frustrating as it is to see him in this state I can’t be the one who pushes the change. I will continue to be an example and as I become that sexy wife he always has loved and perhaps a light will turn on in his eyes. Or one day he will come home after a night out with the boys proclaiming this new clean eating diet that seemed to work so well for a mate. Until then I will do the shopping, cooking and keep telling white lies about what is in the food. And maybe I will see if he is a bit less moody for a run in the evening 🙂

A Break Up Letter….. (with Diet Coke)

You have been a close family friend for years.  The women of my family fuelled themselves through the early mornings, late nights, long hours and only during pregnancy cheated on you with your caffeine free cousin.  Through my first jobs working as a waitress, bartender and medical biller you did the same for me- keeping me going when I couldn’t take another trip to Dunkin Donuts for a large iced coffee.

When we went to university you were there again… and sometimes I needed to buy the diet “rola cola” version to fit my non-existent budget.  But you know I always loved you the most and you were my saviour every hung-over Saturday when you poured out of the dining hall fountain in copious amounts.  I used to call you the “sweet nectar of God” and that is what it would feel like coursing through my dehydrated veins.  Like Popeye and his spinach or He-Man and his sword you gave me the power to live another day.  You supported me in my late night studying and partying alike- a friend always by my side in the library or hanging with Captain Morgan.

I should have seen the signs though, the endless amounts of empty bottles in the recycling.  The fact I was willing to trade down to any cheap version I could afford (like substituting street drugs for that pain killer addiction)… I was willing to go to lengths to get hold of a diet coke and sometimes pay stupid prices for those little bottles.  I should have seen the signs that you had become a controlling force instead of a friend.

When I went paleo I wasn’t perfect but I learned.  I gave up the bread, I gave up the grains, cut down on the booze, ate more veggies, remembered to actually take my medications and even started putting butter in my coffee.  But I couldn’t give you up… I just can’t quit you.  This is why I needed to use the big scientific brain of mine to explain why this just can’t continue.  So here are the big  five reasons why I can’t be with you anymore.


1-      You are bad for my kidneys- I need those filters to be worrying about the toxins that accidently get in… not toxins I am intentionally taking in!

2-      You mess with my hormone signals and increase my risk of metabolic disorders which bring on a cascade of health issues.

3-      Diabetes- yes you don’t have sugar but you are sending mixed signals worse than Miley Cyrus… my body doesn’t know if you are coming or going and its just firing insulin out like a teenage boy on a paintball range.

4-      Obesity- I don’t care what my BMI says but if I am going to work my butt off in the gym and on the rugby pitch I don’t want to be undoing all that work by my refreshment.  (Note- if I am going to “undo” the work its going to be with some nice cider- at least that will mask the pain for a few more hours!)

5-      Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals- preservatives, colours, fake sugars and more- there is nothing natural about you- you are worse than one of the housewives on TV I can’t even recognise where your parts originally came from.


In short diet coke- it’s been a great 30 years but we need to say goodbye.  Maybe if you are lucky we may have the occasional one night stand… but it won’t mean the same to me anymore and I won’t let myself be dragged back into your web of lies.  You may not contain calories but I am not afraid of them.  I am afraid of what you do contain and why even as a chemist I can’t pronounce most of it (or draw the chemical structure from memory).  I just don’t want to be fake anymore I want to be real, whole, natural and independent.  I don’t need you to cure me on a Saturday morning- I got water and a great park run planned with my friends.

Have a nice life.







Paleo Perfection and Being Human

For someone who is not new to this lifestyle and who has a very strong background in the biological and chemical sciences the 1000 different suggestions of what we are to eat for health can still be a worse then a drunk cab ride. It seems almost everyday there is another silly ideas (unlikely to be supported by scientific evidence) on how to achieve that perfect body. This isn’t even counting the ridiculousness that can be spout out of large media voices like Cosmo, Dr Oz and every daytime talk show on tv between 10am to 2pm.

I am currently working on a article comparing paleo/primal/WAP/AIP and many more. But until then (as it may take a while)… Here are 5 easy tips to keeping on track and keeping your sanity

1) You are worth it….. Despite what you or anyone else thinks you are worth putting your yourself first sometimes. This means taking that 20 minutes to yourself to have a healthy bite to eat (before something that you don’t want to eat overtakes that last cent of sanity and willpower.) My grandmother had 4 children in 6 years and would lock herself in the bathroom in the afternoon to enjoy her cup of tea. At 81 she is still quite happy and healthy so that whole selfish thing must do some good for you.

2) You don’t have to be perfect…. Yes there are ideals to eat buy when it comes to the providence of your food- but when faced with a salad and chicken breast of unknown origin vs that KFC family bucket you know what is the better choice. So instead of trying to be perfect just try to be a little bit better each meal each day.

3) Don’t fear the kitchen…. There is this magical place in the world that has to is of recipes to try by fabulous bloggers and there are tons of flavours you nave never tried. Worse case scenario you throw it out and have learned what not to do again. I have had to throw things out in the garden before because they came out so vile… Mostly things with broccoli or beets- because they are evil.

4) Just move a bit more…. You don’t have to run a 5k, heck you don’t have to run… Get outside in the sun get your Vit D and just move around a bit

And lastly

5) Stop giving a shit about the little things! Your body can’t handle senseless stress and you only have a small reserve of will power. Start each day trying to only focus on three things to improve your health
…how will you be more nourished today then yesterday?
…how can you move more today?
… How can you decrease your stress??
Once something becomes a habit then you can try to tackle the next hurdle… Just a small step at a time

So do I speak sense or just jibberish?

What Exactly is Going On with Your Digestive Track

Digestion- so easy a baby can do it! The digestive system is a key part of our survival-without it we would starve and when it goes wrong (in either direction) it can not only make us miserable but it can kill us. However it can also give us great pleasure not only from the foods we eat but it also contains 95% of the serotonin in the body.  So let us take a look of what is actually going on here.


First we start out with mastication- and no that isn’t something you hide from your mother it’s just a fancy word for chewing. Even though you started sticking things in your mouth and chewing on them since you could grab you probably aren’t doing it right.  You don’t have to go to crazy town and start counting the number of chews per bite- every food is different based on the macronutrients in it.  However if you could still tell what the food was before it went in there chances are you need to keep chewing until it’s a mushy (but still tasty) glob.

You may think that the mouth is a purely mechanical fixture- with all those specialized teeth for cutting and grinding- however there are many important chemical reactions that the mouth is responsible for. Chemical break down of food begins in the mouth with the enzyme amylase that is found in saliva.  (For now, think of all enzymes like specialized scissors- or cartoon samarui’s).  The action of chewing also starts a whole chemical cascade of signals to the brain and other organs shouting that food is coming.


The wet mushy mass that you just finished chewing.. it’s called a bolus now.. and the oesophagus does a squeezing action known as peristalsis. If you imagine squeezing your tube of toothpaste from the bottom up just to get that last bit out- then you have got the right idea.  At the end there is a one way door known as a sphincter which unloads onto the ball of mush into your stomach.  I say it’s a one way door- sometimes you need to get food out (or sometimes your body decides this is a good idea on its own) and that door opens wide.  If this sphincter muscle isn’t nice and tight you can have leakage of stomach acid onto the soft smooth muscle lining of the oesophagus- this is heart burn, or GERD, or reflux… or last night’s curry.


Here strong acid (with a pH of 2) continues the chemical breakdown of foods and peptidases are released and work to break up the protein. The acid also forms a second function in the fact is it really good at killing bacteria- so that slightly dodgy leftover won’t kill you.  In this caustic environment we turn the bolus into chime- most of the long chains of the macronutrients have been broken down into much smaller pieces, readying them for absorption later.  Contrary to popular belief you can’t “shrink down” your stomach through eating less.  However you can train the stomach-brain connection as to when to stimulate that full feeling and how long that feeling is maintained.  Then again this is more helped by the types of food that you are sticking in there.


The small intestines have three parts- duodenum, jejunum, and ileum- or if you want to keep it simple “digest, push and absorb”. The last bit of digestion takes place here with bile and lipases being released to help with the digestion of fat.  More importantly is the beginning of the absorption of nutrients- after all we need to get all that goodness to the rest of the body.  The details of absorption and transport of nutrients will be discussed later in detail but for now you need to know it’s all about surface area.  The small intestines in an adult can be up to 30 feet in length- and have the surface area of a tennis court.  This vastness of folds and crevices are known as villi and enable a larger amount of absorption.  When things go wrong in the small intestines it can trigger a variety of issues downstream.  The small intestines can become coated with thick mucus (Cystic Fibrosis), villi can be damaged and clumped together (Coeliac Disease), bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or progression can become rushed (IBS)- all resulting in a lack of nutrients being delivered to the body.


Made up of three parts- “up, over, out” or “ascending, transverse, descending.” The main function of the colon is to absorb water to maintain the balance of fluid.  Most of us have learned to control the sphincter at the end so we can choose where and when to eliminate- preventing much embarrassment.  Your colon (another name for the large intestines) should be filled with bacteria.  (FYI did you know that 90% of the DNA in your body doesn’t belong to you- it belongs to these cute little dudes in your intestines)  We like these bacteria as they digest some last food making some nutrients available and they fight against the growth of evil yeast.  Also they can do some cool tricks- depending on the population you will have little/no gas and farts, really stinky farts or even farts that light on fire.


And on that note I am going to love you and leave you.

When you go off routine…..

Been on the last school break if the year- and it’s been lovely! The British weather has not been cooperating so my dream of having my raised beds planted has yet to come to fruition but I have had time to cook, clean and most importantly visit with friends.

When you are off routine is the hardest to eat clean and stay focused on longterm goals. During school I have a nice bulletproof coffee for breakfast (casually sipped over form, period 1 and 2- yes I am a slow eater!) leftovers for lunch, and a snack after school before Crossfit/rugby, followed by a roast style dinner most nights a week. This week I have prepared lots of food but skipped meals and faced temptation while shopping and traveling. Somehow with more time I seem to make less of it for myself and my health.

I will admit I have had a few indulgences this week- and three dinners out with friends and my husband have not helped at all! However I have kept to my version of paleo by making sure NO gluten came near me- luckily Thai, tapas and fine dining make this quite easy when out. And thankfully red wine is really just fermented grapes-and fermented foods are great for you right? I have however lacked in the whole lifestyle choices of cooking real food from vegetables and meat and have been stuck at a train station with nothing but a can of sardines in my bag.

Luckily Nakd bars are readily available. Yes I should have packed more snacks in my bag but Nakd saved me (and a train car) this week. My first encounter was with the gingerbread bar….. Which saved me from an Auntie Anne’s pretzel- homesick as I am my intestines are thanking me from not delivering that nuclear gluten bomb. The second was the Cocoa bar which I was able to snag in Euston when faced with Burger King, baguettes and a lack of butter for my coffee. I did get some interesting looks on the train eating a bag of spinach, whole cucumber and the Nakd bar- I really wished someone said something. I sat on the slow train to Brum going over in my head how to not make myself sound extremist to the baguette munching business man. Luckily none of the stares were dirty looks- otherwise I totally would have cracked open that can of emergency sardines in my bag.

In short- I suck without my routine, but all is not lost. Just some ingenuity, ability to avert staring people, and the occasional indulgence with Nakd can keep anyone from going completely off the rails while on a vacation.

Until next time- enjoy life and try to be a little bit cleaner each day.

Bone Broth

One crazy afternoon I ventured up into the “town” centre (Ok its a small group of shops in my little area outside of Birmingham)… even more crazy this was during the beginning of the school holiday.  As a teacher I would normally avoid any public venue within 5 miles of my school during holiday time but I wanted to try this bone broth people have been talking about (oh and I broke my cafeteria- so I really needed to go to Wilko’s before I killed someone in the AM without coffee).

I asked the local butcher if he had any bones for broth and he got some sort of devilish smile on his face.  He brought out a bone that had at least a 2.5in diameter at the skinniest, 18in long and ridiculously large knuckles (it would have put the below picture to shame!)  I am sorry for not taking a picture of this dinosaur bone but I promise one next time…

marrow bone

So I took the two giant chunks of bone, played with them like a 3D puzzle to fit them into the slow cooker, threw in onions, carrots and celery and let it cook for 2 1/2 days.  I then strained and placed on the stove top to simmer off additional liquid for about 2 hours before transferring to the fridge.  What I got back was seen below:

bone broth in pot


I was a bit concerned but it looked like I had a great fat layer so I began to chip away with it.

broth in pot 2


So I packaged it up and it turns out on my first attempt I created beautiful amounts of both fat and very gelatinous bone broth (which a spoonful of was very tasty in a mug of hot water!)…. I did see a nice set of trotters which I may tackle next!

broth in containers


RECIPE:  Bone Broth (Beef Marrow Bone)

-Marrow bone sawed into pieces to fit in slow cooker

-2 Carrots

-2 Stalks of Celery

-1 Onion

-Seasonings to desire (I used salt, pepper and a few bayleafs


Peel and roughly dice all vegetables and place in slow cooker with marrow bones and seasonings.  Cover with water and cook on high for 6 hours.  Change temperature to low setting and let cook for 48 hours.  Remove bones and strain broth.  Simmer on stove top to reduce volume (more reduced the greater chance of gelatinous setting) and place in refrigerator overnight to set.  When storing separate the fat from the broth (both can be frozen if needed).  Place in boiling water to consume (use as much as desired to taste)