Posts in "Paleo"
What I Eat in a(n Average) Day
What I Eat in a Day | Freckled Italian

The other day a friend of mine was flipping through my cookbook and asked me if I'd write a post about what a normal Paleo food day and/or week looks like for me. I always love hearing what other people make for meals and snacks, so I thought today I'd go over what a pretty typical day might look like in my life.

Lately I've been experimenting with intermittent fasting (a post of its own, eventually) so I skip breakfast but I'm still trying to decide if I like it or not. So for the purposes of this post, let's stick to three meals. The following are options, I don't eat all of them (although some days I probably could):

Breakfast: 

  • Coffee! Black and usually over ice. Sometimes I get an almond milk latte if I'm out.
  • Two eggs fried in grass-fed butter over a handful of greens (usually spinach or spring mix).
  • A smoothie with spinach, pineapple, frozen berries, and a splash of orange juice.

Lunch: 

  • 1-2 cans of tuna mixed with mayo, dill pickle relish, crushed red pepper, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I'll eat this with sliced cucumbers or over a salad or sometimes just by itself.
  • Sliced turkey with pickles, avocado, mustard, and mayo all layered in a romaine lettuce leaf. I'll usually eat 4-5 of these at a time.
  • 2-3 hot dogs (without a bun), topped with mustard and sauerkraut if I have it.
  • If I feel like cooking I make cauliflower fried rice (Trader Joe's has pre-shredded cauliflower rice now and I always have a bag of it in my fridge lately). This is my cauliflower fried rice recipe with daikon instead of cauliflower, but you can easily sub one for the other.
  • A big salad with turkey, ham, and/or chicken, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, whatever other veggies I have in the fridge.
  • Leftovers from dinner the night before.

Snacks: 

  • Fruit: usually grapes but sometimes an apple sliced up with a side of peanut butter (not Paleo but doesn't bother me).
  • Sliced veggies: usually cucumbers, carrots, or celery; also usually dipped in Ranch dressing which sometimes I'll make with coconut milk and homemade mayo but most of the time I buy from the store (also not Paleo but I'm cool with it).
  • Turkey and mayo or sliced tomatoes and mayo on a rice cake (which isn't Paleo--can you see a pattern in my snacking habits?).
  • Sliced radishes dipped in room-temperature butter and topped with a little salt. YES.
  • An avocado, cut in half and seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice if I'm feeling fancy.
  • On-the-go snacks I try to keep in my bag: Larabars, beef jerky. (These keep me from stopping at a drive thru and eating a gross burger without the bun, which is usually my road-trip order when I'm starving).

Dinner: 

  • Some kind of one-pan chicken dinner (like this one).
  • Crock-pot chicken tacos (usually as a salad or on lettuce cups).
  • Grilled fish with a side of veggies.
  • Zucchini noodles with tomato sauce and meatballs.
  • Burger bowls (basically a burger on top of a big salad).

Dessert: 

Drinks: 

  • I'm awful at drinking water but I constantly try to get enough. 
  • La Croix (my favorites are coconut, apricot, and the cucumber melon)
  • Kombucha (I get a growler filled at a local brewery every week)
  • I have a glass of wine 1-2 nights a week (usually Pinot Noir, Sauvingon Blanc, or Rosé)

I'll occasionally roast a whole chicken one night and spread that out throughout the week--chicken breast for dinner, leftover meat on a salad for lunches, etc. Then I save the bones and make broth with carrots, onion, and celery. I can do a post about that whole process if you're interested, just let me know!

I also wanted to make a note about food and social media--I think about this a lot because generally the things I share on Instagram really aren't Paleo. My day-to-day food is delicious but kind of boring (and not super photogenic, ha!), so when I post something on Instagram it's usually because it's really pretty and also not something I have every day. I just think it's important to remember that because on the Internet it looks like I'm eating French fries and donuts and pizza or tacos all the time when in reality I'm probably eating a salad for lunch like everyone else out there trying to be healthier. Sometimes I'm annoyed when I see super fit people sharing junk food all the time and I don't want to mislead you (although I wouldn't exactly classify myself as super fit). Alright, I'll step off my soapbox now.

There you have it! What are some of your favorite things to eat in an average day? If you have other questions for me, let me know! I love reader requests.

Photo by Andi Perullo for Freckled Italian/The Big 15 Paleo Cookbook.

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The Whole30 That Wasn't

On December 31, pretty close to midnight, I decided that January of 2016 would be my first ever Whole30. 

You might know that I've been Paleo since 2011, and you might also know that in 2015 I kind of fell off the wagon. (I posted a bit more about this back in November, if you want to read it.) My parents split up, my mom got cancer, and I've never felt more stressed out in my life. Before I knew it I was eating whatever made me feel better (mostly Thai food and mochas). Fifteen pounds, some new bald spots, a lot of anxiety, and a few body image issues later (fueled by the inspiration that is New Year's Eve), I finished my glass of champagne and the French onion dip I had been working on all night and declared 2016 to be The Year I Return to Paleo.

And that's still true--I know I feel more like myself when I stay away from grains, dairy, and sugar. I totally identify with the Paleo diet and I kind of love it. But I've always been skeptical of the Whole30 for two reasons, first because it's so restrictive; and also because it ends.

Here's something that's kind of scary and a little embarrassing: a few months ago I came across a piece online that was one of those lists of things that happy and successful people do regularly, and one of them was fasting. A 24-hour fast is supposed to have all kinds of emotional and physical benefits, so I jumped on the bandwagon and pretended it would be this meditative thing that would make a profound difference in my week; but the truth was that I figured not eating once a week would make it really easy to lose some weight pretty fast.

Over the last few years of my life, I've learned that I can get a little obsessive about my food. When I was in college I used to write everything I ate down in a little notebook. I wasn't even counting calories or anything, I just liked seeing a whole day on one page. It comforted me in a really strange way. Those were the days I could eat an entire jar of cheese dip with one of my roommates and not gain a ounce...but then again they were also the days I used to run 5 or 6 miles for fun.

So while I think that Whole30 is an amazing way for people to get to know Paleo and take a really intense look at their usual food choices, I don't think it's for me. I went Paleo all at once and found a way to sustain that for almost four years. I would still occasionally eat sugar or sushi or even a piece of cheesecake or something--but only if I really wanted it, and if I was out with friends, doing something fun. Over the past year I've just taken myself out for treats because I felt bad, which only made me feel worse. I believe deeply that you can make yourself feel better with the right food--but stuffing your face with carbs when you're sad isn't the way that works (even if it feels really really good in the moment). You have to find a way to actually take care of yourself, in a sustainable way.

So on January 12, when one of my good friends invited me to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with a few other food writers, I met her at the bar and she said "You're going to have a drink, right?" and I did. And I ate a delicious meal (and laughed to myself that I thought maybe I'd just come and sit and talk without eating) and had an amazing time and went back to Paleo the next day.

It wasn't always a work in progress for me, but now it is. And that's okay.

Photo by Sarah Gatrell for Freckled Italian.

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A Paleo Update and Some Thoughts on Fitness (and Barre)
A Paleo Update and Some Thoughts on Fitness | Freckled Italian

I was reading some responses from the reader survey I linked to on Friday and a couple people asked for a Paleo update and for some thoughts on my fitness routine. It's been some time since I shared anything like that, so I thought it was a great idea for a post! (I'm also going to be sharing a new episode of Hello, Butter that touches on a lot of the same issues I want to write about today.)

I changed my diet in late 2011 and haven't really looked back until this year. For several years I was very strict--no rice, absolutely no sugar, really low carbs, and a lot of meat and vegetables. I felt really amazing. I lost like 25 pounds and almost felt like I didn't even need to work out. But then in the summer of 2012 I started CrossFit and became temporarily addicted. I went regularly for about two months, which I think is confusing to a lot of people who were reading my blog at that time and are still here--it was definitely just a phase for me. I still go with my mom sometimes when I'm in town (my friend Emma and I always do the Black Friday WOD together when we're both home for Thanksgiving), but I haven't gone regularly since 2012.

I started working a full-time job in Roanoke and couldn't really find the time to work out regularly--instead of CrossFit, I would go running or take a walk on my lunch break and then do some push-ups or pull-ups, but it was never super formal or even very routine. I was living at my parents' house and Rob and I were at the beginning of a long-distance relationship, so I had a lot of anxiety and found that controlling my food (i.e being very strict about not eating things that weren't Paleo) was oddly comforting. I wouldn't say I was disordered, because I ate plenty and was never hungry, but I definitely clung to the tenets of Paleo in a way that could only be described as extreme.

I was super thin and found myself feeling really anxious all the time. My doctor ran some tests and actually found that my cortisol levels were way too high because I didn't weigh enough to regulate them. She recommended that I gain five or ten pounds, which I did, and I started feeling better.

When I moved to Minneapolis I lightened up a bit with my diet, but I also started working out regularly at the gym in our apartment building. We were planning our wedding and Rob and I were really great about eating well and exercising every day. I started eating Paleo-friendly-but-not-necessarily-Paleo things like French fries and realizing that sushi didn't bother my stomach, but I was still staying away from gluten and dairy, which was easy because Minneapolis is so friendly to every single diet you could possibly imagine. I look back on that time as the best for my food/body image/exercise--I was never out of control in any way and I was super happy with my body. Looking back, now I know that I felt so good because I was living in a really successful middle ground of cardio, strength training, Paleo, and the occasional coconut milk soft serve.

Once our wedding was over I started eating a lot more foods that I used to completely ignore, for example I'll sometimes eat breaded chicken nuggets, which actually make me feel pretty sick. I've been experimenting with my gluten-sensitivity, which has led to a lot of migraines. A few years ago I never would have even tried, but now I know more about what works and doesn't work for my body. I can live without bread, but now I know that I really like craft beer, and it doesn't bother me the way a full bowl of pasta would. I've definitely gained a few pounds in the process, but that's just par for the course, I suppose. Honestly, I'd rather carry around those five vanity pounds and be less anxious than be at my "goal weight" and feel like I was about to panic every single day.

And finally, a few words about barre! Someone in the survey asked if I felt that barre was enough of a workout and if it was helping me reach my fitness goals, and the truth is that on its own it's not enough for me right now. It's a full-body workout for sure and I really, really love it; but I want to find a way to incorporate cardio as well--I miss running. The problem, though, is that when I spend an hour every day in the studio working out, I feel like I should be done with exercise for the day, so I don't do anything else. 

I currently have an unlimited membership that expires at the end of the year, and I think I may take a few months off and see if I can go back to what I was doing in Minneapolis--just working out on my own and switching it up every day. That was much more manageable then because I was trying to get in great shape for our wedding, but now that I've been doing barre for over six months, I've made time in my schedule to exercise every day, no matter what. We'll see how it goes!

So there you have it! I still love Paleo and eat that way at least 85% of the time. I definitely feel better when I'm closer to 100%, but Pad Thai and ramen and beer and gluten-free salted caramel brownies are pretty awesome, too. If anyone has any questions for me, I'd love to hear them. As always, thanks so much for your interest and to those of you who have responded to the reader survey so far!

Photo by Sarah Gatrell for Freckled Italian.

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