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And the Grocery Bill Doubles….

19 May

cioppino2My 19 year old son, Lucas, is home from his first year at The University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  I have two boys (3 if you include my husband) and they could not be more different.  Dalton is our athlete.  He acts like an athlete, eats like an athlete and definitely SMELLS like an athlete.  He knows random facts about professional athletes that the typical person could care less about and even has a special alert on his phone that sounds when something “BIG” happens in the sports world.  Lucas has no desire to play or watch sports.  He is our intellect who can read a book faster than you could watch the movie, loves animals and nature and….is a vegetarian!  While I completely support his choice not to eat meat, it does make cooking and grocery shopping more complicated and more expensive.  It also worries me that he is not getting the nutrients he needs.  Thank goodness he will eat fish and seafood, so he can get some of his protein needs there, but the amount of protein he is putting into his body is far from what he needs and his caloric intake is way too low.  It’s one thing to hear people, like Paul, talk about how fueling your body affects your performance.  It’s another thing to see it first hand, and it’s not pretty.  (By the way Paul, I can’t wait for you to talk to him!)  We are in the process of forcing Lucas to stay awake while feeding him whatever we can.  He is in this vicious cycle where all he wants to do is sleep, which keeps him from eating, which makes him want to sleep more.  6 months ago, I may have thought that this was just typical behavior from a college student who just finished a week of finals and whose sleep schedule is off.  Now, I think differently.  This is not normal, even for a college student.  This is a body that has not been fed correctly and can no longer function properly because of it.  Mom to the rescue!

Tonight, a nutrient packed dinner for the boy!  Since he will eat seafood, I pull out the scallops from my freezer.  Since they have been in the freezer for a while now, I can’t just do the typical salt and pepper, sear in a pan with butter scallop…this will need some extra flavor.  I love cioppino!  Cioppino is a stew full of various types of seafood in a tomato based broth.  Since I don’t have a variety of seafood (remember, I am in Minnesota) I will make a scallop cioppino.  I think I will add some spinach to it too, since I add spinach to as many of my dishes as possible just to add a little bit more nutrition.  Since the boy is basically in starvation mode, I will serve this over some cooked white rice too!

After I made this recipe, I tasted it and thought…YUM!  You could substitute chicken, fish, veal or whatever protein of choice and it would still be delicious!


  • 10-12 medium scallops
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 16 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil until melted over medium high heat.  Add the red onion and cook a couple of minutes, until transluscent.  Lower the the heat to medium/low and add the garlic.  Cook about 1 minute and add the coconut milk, tomatoes, italian seasoning and spinach.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

In a baking dish, arrange your scallops in one layer and pour your tomato mixture over the top.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes (this is a perfect time to cook your rice).  Scoop your rice into a dish, top with your scallop cioppino and enjoy!!!

What my kids eat

6 Apr

Alice in Blue

Depending on demand I will add a class in the science lab on children’s nutrition but you are welcomed to ask questions in the current classes.  For those that don’t know the Science Lab is available for a monthly subscription at a cost of $4.95, here are the details on what you get for that.

I have posted some version of this in the past.  You have to be smart when changing your children’s behavior but remember, you are the one at the grocery store, so they probably aren’t the ones buying the cocoa puffs and macaroni and cheese.

We have one rule in my house, you can eat as much as you want without restriction.  The key is keeping junk food out of the house, do my kids eat junk food, yes they do.  Do I make it inconvenient, yes I do.

My daughters are 13 and 11

My youngest alternates between these two meals for breakfast:

1 fried or scrambled egg with 3 strips of bacon cooked in ghee, she makes the eggs herself and the bacon is pre-cooked.  (I’m not like a lot of people who paralyze themselves with a Paleo style of eating, I personally view bacon as a condiment and I eat it sparingly, for my daughter it makes breakfast something she enjoys).

The other meal is fruit and a tablespoon of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter (banana or frozen pineapple tidbits from Trader Joe’s, my girls love that stuff)

My oldest eats almost nothing at all, she has to take medication and so she eats a couple of strips of bacon normally.  She has done some version of a coconut milk smoothie in the past with whey protein but she just felt like it was too much food that early.  I don’t see any reason to have that battle as long as she is eating proper amounts the rest of the day.  The breakfast battle is one of the silliest battles I think parents get caught up in (so no, I don’t think breakfast is the most important meal of the day and she tests in the top 1% in the nation so I am pretty sure she is good in that department).

For lunch (both girls get the same thing):

Sunflower Seeds

Carrots, Cucumbers or Peppers

Beef Sticks, Pepperoni or Beef Jerky

After School snacks:

I usually have this in tupperware for after school.

I also have taco meat for taco salads, I use the packets for seasoning but I only use 1 packet for every two pounds.  They can put whatever veggies in the house on the salad (hehe, see how I do that?).

My oldest also likes greek yogurt with granola, if that’s the worse thing she eats I think I am pretty far ahead of the game.  We use whole fat Fage (why do people do low fat again? Don’t they realize that makes the product all sugar, seems contrary to the goals of most people on a diet, rant over) with this Crapola Granola.

For dinner:

I put out veggies about 30 minutes before I even start cooking, I am not a dressing snob either, if it gets them to eat vegetables slather it on, I think that is silly that people think dressings make them fat.  If anything the opposite might be true, certainly for kids it’s no big deal at all.

My kids don’t like sweet potatoes, so they don’t eat all that many starches but I make sure they eat white rice on days we eat Chipotle, those days typically correspond with the weekdays they do Crossfit Kids.

So for dinner my kids eat meat and veggies.  Buffalo Chicken is a favorite, Meatloaf is popular.  I think everyone knows what meat is, I do feed my girls steak once or twice a week.  Grass fed filets is what they like, I butterfly them.  We also do bunless hamburgers a lot with onion soup for flavoring.

Note on Acne:

As most people know (and as you can clearly see from my recommendations) they eat mostly whole foods but I don’t feel a need to call that Paleo.  I am cool with you though if you do.  My family did take part in a Paleo challenge though that occurred January of 2012.  Most people try and lose a ton of weight, I know that isn’t smart.  Here is a post on my thoughts related to how to improve Paleo Challenges.  We viewed the challenge as a way to find new additions to our meals.

The one thing that my oldest discovered was that the little bit of acne she had cleared up completely.  Since then when her acne acts up she knows to go back to eating mostly whole foods.  So if your children or teens are struggling with acne have them take a look at this article.

Tackling the Sugar Addiction question

2 Mar

First let me start off by saying I don’t make light of addiction.  I have been free of chemicals for 26 years, it destroyed my life as a teenager and I had to leave my family to get treatment for that illness.  So while things kind of worked out for me in the end I still deal with repercussions of that illness to this day.  Let me give you the timeline for this addiction.

– At 18 I was admitted to a treatment facility for 3 months where I underwent extreme psychotherapy

– I then was admitted to a halfway house in Minnesota (where I currently live), I stayed in that facility for 6 months as did most of the residents there.

– I am originally from New Orleans, La. one of the coolest places on the planet.  Most of my family still resides there or near there.

– After leaving the facility in Minnesota I decided to acclimate for a bit before heading back home.  New Orleans held a lot of temptation then and now so I really wanted to make sure I had it right.

– 26 years later I am still here, I met my wife about 6 months after leaving the halfway house.  I often get asked “what makes a person come from a warm weather place that seems as cool as hell to a miserable wasteland (their words not mine, it’s really not so bad and Prince is from here)” my simple retort is often “had to be a woman, right?”

– My children have a great life and our family is well supported by people that care for us but it’s incomplete.  It’s a little tough looking your father in the eye as he tears up because he is being robbed of seeing his “grand babies” grow up.  That is one small casualty of addiction.

So yeah, I take addiction real serious.  As a drug treatment counselor I heard many stories of people who stole their grandmothers microwave to buy crack or compromised their humanity to get a fix.  So while sugar is a powerful chemical can we at least set the bar as a SEVERE consequence that possibly compromises who you are as a result.  Before anyone suggests obesity, let’s not confuse not knowing WHY with uncontrollable behavior.  So let’s start there.

The insulin hypothesis

The insulin hypothesis goes like this, if you can keep insulin suppressed it solves body fat storage because insulin is said to be a “storage hormone”.  Let’s be clear about this, body fat can store without the presence of insulin through multiple channels.  Insulin is more accurately described as a building hormone.  Eat correctly and it builds muscle, eat incorrectly and it BUILDS/stores fat.

It has been proposed that if you can control insulin you can control your health, that is the basis for all low carbohydrate diets.  As many of you know that frequent this page/blog I recommend eating carbohydrates with strategies related to the time you workout or even eating in a smaller window in the evening.  No matter which macronutrient we are talking about I believe you should have a strategy as it relates to that macronutrient.  I also believe that you should have some general idea of your overall intake needs daily and adjust those needs related to your activity level.  Let me give you an example of what that might look like, for protein I try to get around 160g a day, each gram of protein equals 4 calories, so I need 640 calories from protein a day (you don’t really need to count calories daily to have a good idea of your protein intake but it might be helpful for a week or so just to check, knowledge is powerful).  Through massive trial and error I have found a good balance of about 200g of carbohydrate, up to 300g if my activity is higher, once again, I do this intuitively but as most of you know I am pretty good at this whole nutrition thing.  Carbs also equal 4 calories per gram so I need 800 to 1200 calories of carbohydrate to support my daily activity.  While yes I realize carbohydrates are a non-essential macronutrient they are very favorable as it relates to metabolism.  I know this because I basically cured my hypothyroidism related to chronic dieting once I went down this road of discovery related to my intake needs.  Which brings me to fats, through various ways including dexascan and bodpod testing as well as trial and error I know that I need about 3000 calories a day to support my activity levels.  Once again I don’t actually count this stuff but I am also not naive as it relates to the caloric values of the foods that I eat and also know what those foods represent in my body.  Which is another article for another day and not germain to the discussion of sugar addiction.  So fat calories basically equal the rest, if I get 640 calories from protein roughly and 800 calories from carbohydrates that leaves me with 1560 calories coming from fat, fat calories (as most of you know) equal 9 calories per gram, so my fat intake represents more than half of my calories, which is right about 170g a day of fat alone.

For the ladies in the crowd I will use my wife as an example without all of the dirty details. Protein 120g, carbohydrates 150g, total calories for her (she is a crossfitter so quite active) are 2400 a day (she doesn’t count either but eats in an intuitive manner similar to the way that I do).  So her fat calories represent also over 50% of her calories at 1320 or roughly 146g from fat.  From what I have seen my wife is pretty average but I would like to put out there that everyone’s life journey should be a bit more self discovery.  In a lot of ways that is why I made this blog and my accompanying Facebook page, it is my life’s mission to help people navigate these personal struggles.

If you think you don’t need to eat that much to support your activity level you are almost certainly wrong.  Even if you are right it is only minor degrees.  I am not saying this as someone using two people as an example, I have many case studies that prove this.

So let’s start there as it relates to your sugar intervention.  Until you actually KNOW these types of numbers and have worked towards this level of self discovery and you haven’t had to miss carpool to prostitute yourself for a twix bar (you are going to have to imagine this in Jeff Foxworthy voice switching our redneck for sugar addict) “you might not be a sugar addict”.  Just so people know I am not stereotyping I pick up carpool for my children and I can say to you “god willing” I haven’t had to miss carpool for a twix.

So why so much fat?

I like fat as a primary fuel because it’s very stable, I have heard it said that over reliance on glucose (carbs) for energy is like burning a fire with kindling and fat is like putting a log on the fire.  At rest, for most people, fats are a great source of daily energy levels.  Fats also keep insulin blunted and while it seems odd fats can be a good STRATEGY as it relates to your body fat levels.  I highlight the word strategy because my way and my wife’s way might not represent the best way for you.  That will be part of your self discovery but stick with me and I will give you some clues on how to get there.  Don’t be fooled though, the insulin hypothesis goes like this,  keep carbs out of your diet and you will be in fat burning mode all of the time.  Not only is this wrong it’s borderline irresponsible and has left many people broken with eating disorder type behaviors as a result.

The effects of Carbohydrate on a Ketogenic approach to eating

In an attempt to figure out if they are in ketosis many people pee on their hands each morning to check their ketone levels.  I don’t mean to make light of people working towards a better style of eating but there is a crucial aspect they are missing.  Carbs are said to be a non-essential macronutrient because your body can exist without them, the body requires glucose (a fuel source readily available through actual food) so much that it actually can turn fats and mainly protein into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (I misspell this word non-stop).  It’s an inefficient process and can often leave the user with headaches as a result.  The brain functions mostly on glucose but I don’t want to get ahead of myself, it can however function on Ketones which is the by-product of fat metabolism.  So while yes if you can suffer through the bad workouts and the headaches it is indeed possible to use fats as a primary fuel source but the net result as it relates to body fat mobilization becomes dependent on the amount of fats you eat as a result.  The process is relatively inefficient for athletic populations and virtually impossible as a strategy for Crossfitters that want to excel.

It has been well known for a long time that when you eat in a ketogenic way and then cycle your carbs that stimulates metabolism whether it by intraday, bi-daily, weekly or whatever floats your boat.  When you eat low carbohydrate and then you have a carbohydrate re-feed (you eat a good amount of carbs) you not only mobilize fat but the net result tends to be more favorable than the “eat less do less” model of eating.  This is because a low carbohydrate way of eating suppresses the hormone leptin which is the primary mover as it relates to body fat mobilization.  Suppressed leptin levels can lead to hypothyroid like symptoms and is often the result of extreme dieting.

So low carbohydrate dates get to a point of diminishing returns as it relates to body composition.  I will say there are always outliers where it can work but those are not the majority of folks that go down the low carb path.

I am going to stop here because this is going long

I am not going to make any promises related to WHEN I will write the second part of this article but you already should have some thoughts flowing through your head related to “sugar addiction”.  The next article is going to focus more on strategies related to eating that will allow to better understand your bodies signals.  Let me end on this note though, most people who think they are sugar addicted are underfed, plane and simple.  Since low carb dieting is not favorable as it relates to metabolism down the line people often need to reduce their fat intake to try and chase their body composition goals which is like driving towards a point that is continuouslyy moving.  Those that aren’t underfed are simply relying more on glucose (carbs or sugars) as their primary fuels and this can be handled easily by adjusting their diet patterns.  Here is the deal, you miss the sugar because the brain really really likes sugar, if you gave the brain sugar all of the time it would just ask you for more because, well, brains are gonna brain.  That’s what they want.  If you provide your brain adequate nutrition with strategies related to how the rest of your body manages your fat the equation for optimal health starts to appear.

I am thinking the next article should probably be called “The case for responsible energy management” but let’s be honest, no ones gonna click that.  So I’ll probably call it something like “The Sugar Addiction Cure debunked”.  I’m tricky like that.  Oh yeah, Doctor Oz can suck it.  I can’t believe people still think his information is even remotely responsible.

The Hardest Negotiation, navigating your child’s nutrition

9 Jan


Nutrition and kids is a difficult topic and seemingly everyone has an opinion on what YOUR children should and should not eat.  Heck, even most daycare systems these days do not allow a child through the door whose lunch box does not meet their ‘fruit and vegetables with whole grains’ guideline. My kids take a great deal of pride in the fact that they eat well. It should be a reminiscent reaction to seeing healthy parents who also take pride in their food choices. Children have a more naturally regulating appetite center, so know when they are hungry and full a bit better than adults because we have outdone our appetite centers with poor sleep, stimulants and junk food.


Our family challenge- a short story


My gym hosted  a 30 day Paleo Challenge- meaning while there were no food restrictions just following of the Paleo Diet.  Since my family and I already ate in a fashion similar to this ,  it really was not going to be that big of a deal for me.  Other than the occasional ice cream or cheesecake daily, I would be cutting out a small amount of fruit juice, greek yogurt and dark chocolate.  So as you can see not that big of a deal for me.  So I viewed the challenge as a fun thing.  My wife and my eleven year old  viewed it similarly, though admittedly I am a nutrition geek and finding new and interesting ways to fuel my body is more fun for me than them.


For my ten year old it was pretty clear from the start she did not think of it as fun even though she was the first of the “core four” (what we call our family team) to sign up.  After the first meal she wanted out, expressing that she did not think she could go thirty days without greek yogurt, that put a little smile on my face. If the worst thing your kid can imagine living without is greek yogurt, you are already far down the path.  I do however think I missed the point very early on and therefore I missed a big opportunity for this to be fun for her.  Everyone else in the family had something they could cling to as help but she did not, my wife added a Kombucha Tea, my oldest ate more chicken sausage and I decided to have a grass fed ribeye a day.  She had nothing, in fact, it was even worse, I took away a couple of protein sources without replacing them.  By day eight she was ready to be done and I felt like I had failed, not because I wanted her to restrict her intake in any way, shape or form but because one of my team members was hurting and she clearly did not want to let us down.  Trust me when your ten year old comes into your room crying your first thought is “screw this, get this kid some Jolly Ranchers”. Clearly you see where this is going. The little things like comfort foods just started to add up and because she did not have any new comfort foods, it was starting to take a toll on her.  In addition to that the weekends at our house tend to be a bit of a free for all in terms of meals, at the end of the second weekend it was very noticeable this approach was not going to work during this challenge because many of the foods my kids would normally choose to make for themselves were no longer in the refrigerator or cupboard.


The my way or the highway approach is not my thing


Normally the way we do nutrition for our children is to give in a bit. We want them to eat wild caught fish, they do not want to eat wild caught fish, the compromise is wild caught fish sticks.  Yes they are breaded but in general I do not live in fear of bread, I simply avoid it and so do my children, under normal circumstances.  Another example is that on Monday’s as a family we eat Mongolian Bar-B-Que. My girls typically get the pasta, they do not normally eat pasta so this is a good treat for them and they recognize it as such.  We also have ice cream as a family on Monday’s.


Challenge Defined


A challenge is often viewed as something hard or maybe even impossible.  Keeping my children engaged and listening to their concerns is the core of a healthy family relationship with one another and with food.