Family Matters: Making the Switch to Paleo

Written by Jen Muncy

Edited by Tara Sanders

In April of 2016, our sweet Livie was born. We knew that she was the missing piece to our family and that she would be our last child. Shortly after she was born, we made the decision for me to come home from work. God sure knew what He was doing. It was that December when our world was shaken. Liv was med-flighted to a pediatric ICU an hour away from home and diagnosed with pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and RSV all at once. Talk about God halting everything! Our world stopped. She spent a very scary week in the pediatric ICU where her little body was pumped full of antibiotics. When we returned home from the hospital, we spent months trying to get her little system to work right again. My son had started preschool that year and brought every kind of germ home, which my daughter picked up due to her weakened immune system. 

Even before the hospital stint we had been having trouble with her (I don't know of a better way to say this...) pooping. She only pooped on her own about once every 2 weeks, and it only grew worse after the hospital. One day at the doctors office (which at that point felt like Cheers, where everyone knows your name), the nutritionist came in and asked if we had ever thought about The Paleo Diet for her. My puzzled look probably told her that I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that it was about avoiding refined or processed foods, and eating fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, nuts and healthy oils and fats. Basically, no sugar, processed foods, legumes or dairy. I left the doctor's office and immediately went home and bought a book on Paleo. I spent the next week reading, learning and buying the right things to "go Paleo" and that's how it all started for us.

At that point, Liv was too young to take formal allergy tests, so we began The Paleo Diet. I knew that if this was going to be a lasting thing for her and I (I was nursing her, so we were in this together), I was going to have to figure out how to still make things that we love and enjoy without sacrificing her being a "normal" kid...or my sweet tooth!

 Photo: Example of a Paleo-friendly grocery haul. 

Photo: Example of a Paleo-friendly grocery haul. 

It's been a year and a half since we began this lifestyle and that is exactly what it is: a lifestyle that we've made our own. As with any shift you make in your lifestyle, you have good weeks and bad days so I won't judge you if you eat an Oreo.... or two.... or a sleeve like I did a couple of weeks ago! How do they make those things so good? We've since found out that Liv is not actually allergic to anything. She is free to eat a normal diet and I let her, but we still eat Paleo for the most part because it makes us feel great and it works so well for our family. I truly feel that it is the way God intended for us to eat. To me it's much more about fueling our bodies with the right foods that God placed on this earth for us, and not the processed, sugary foods that we've grown accustomed to here in America. I truly find it so fun to take something that can typically be a processed or unhealthy food or snack and find a way to make it Paleo-friendly. It's like a science experiment in the kitchen and I love it! If you are not so inclined to go back to lab class, you can search Pinterest and find a million Paleo-friendly recipes out there. Since the beginning of this journey, I've also started an Instagram account @jeneatswhole where I love to inspire people to make healthier choices. It has become a great creative outlet for me and allows me use my passion to help other people on their own health journey! I share recipes, what we eat and healthy shopping lists. I'd love to connect with you! 

Well, I couldn't just end this blog without sharing one of our family's favorite dinner recipes. If your skeptical, just try it. I promise you don't have to compromise taste to eat a clean, whole foods diet.

Paleo Coco Cashew Cauliflower Curry

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Ingredients: 

1 bag of fire roasted bell peppers and onions (I use Trader Joes)

1 bag frozen cauliflower rice

1 head of cauliflower florets 

2 tbsp full fat coconut milk 

2 tbsp minced garlic

several dashes of coconut aminos 

2 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp fresh ginger

2 tbsp whole cashews

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 tbsp curry powder

Drizzle of honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Saute bell pepper and onion mix in oil

Add in cauliflower rice and cook for another 2 minutes

Add in cauliflower florets and cook until tender (I use frozen)

Add coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and cashews and cook for about 1 minute

Add in coconut milk 1 tbsp at a time until it gets to the consistency you like

Add in your curry, chili sauce, honey, salt and pepper stir and let simmer 

 

I like to top mine with cilantro, almond sauce, a lime, and extra cashews! 

These measurements can be more or less depending on your taste. This dish is very forgiving! 

Rocking a Road Trip

Written by Deborah Hackett

Edited by Becky Tankersley

Ever since our littles were nothing more than dreams my husband and I have been road-trippers. He flies at a lot of airshows—occasionally he flies there, but most of the time he drives. And of course the venue is never just 10 minutes away! In almost 20 years we have put a LOT of miles behind us.

When it was just the two of us, road tripping wasn’t difficult. Soda, candy, a bag of chips and we were off. Then came the children—and the needs of the backseat far outweighed those in the front. Our first road trip as a family of three was from Fort Worth, Texas to New Mexico—about 10 hours. On that trip we took a bottle warmer that plugged into the AC adapter, diapers, wipes and some jars of baby food. The only time we stopped was for one of us to use the bathroom or to change diapers.

When our daughter was just over a year old we drove from Fort Worth to Winter Park, CO. That was a two-day event and required a basket of Elmo toys (how the Elmo cell phone didn’t get “lost” in the Rockies remains a family mystery), and more frequent stops to eat and use the restroom. Months later we spent a week touring the Midwest. For that trip we went high tech with a portable DVD player, a bag of pretzels and wall to wall DVDs of Elmo’s World (Elmo and I have a love-hate relationship).

Our second daughter arrived later and brought with her the added element of raging acid reflux. Vomiting babies and car seat straps do not play well together! Now our trips involved disinfectant wipes, a scented trash bag and yes, a travel potty for our eldest. Parenting is many things—glamorous isn’t one of them. Now came the rise of the to-go coffee shops in our needs. Picking places to grab a meal moved from being whatever was convenient and looked tasty to its proximity to a place that would sell us good coffee.

Now our girls are in elementary school and are seasoned travelers. From the suburbs of DC we have driven to Florida, Wisconsin and Maine—and we’re all still on good speaking terms by the end. Here are a few tips—all thoroughly tested!—for family road trip survival (note: I assume you will plan to meet your family’s physical needs so I won’t list having snacks, drinks and trash bags, plus extra patience for all the bathroom breaks).

1)      Involve the whole family in planning. This has been a game changer for us. When we plan a road trip we ask the children to research places they might like to go. We do our utmost to put one each onto our itinerary. When they were too little to Google, we helped them by asking the sort of place or activity they’d like and then looking with them. 

2)      Traditional car games. We play fun or silly games while in the car. “I Spy” is a great one, or “I Went to the Store” (each person takes a turn to name an item in alphabetical order while remembering all the other items mentioned too). We also play “Guess Who” with everyone from movie stars, TV characters and people we know.

3)      Paper and Pencil activities. This is where Pinterest becomes your BFF! There are so many sites about road trip activities. We love the road trip Bingo pages that come with words or pictures and different options for city, country or highway driving. There are worksheets for any subject you may be studying. My girls have clipboards and pencils in the backseat and can do a couple of math activities or some fun games that teach about the state or city we are visiting.

*Note: We always require at least thirty minutes of paper activities before any electronics come out!

4)      DVDs. Yes. We do have portable DVD players and a great collection of DVDs plus headphones. You have to pick your battles and trying to make our girls agree on a movie isn’t worth the emotional energy. I’d rather buy a pair of headphones. If we are crossing a state line we have them pause whatever they’re watching, then let them get right back to it if they’d like. The inside of a car for hours isn’t a child’s sweet spot. They need a little understanding and distraction.

5)      Tablet games. Again, non-electronic activity needs to be completed and good behavior maintained to earn the tablet, but then a set amount of time is allowed. We realized a long ago that we plan vacations that suit us adults but we don’t always consider children. I’m thrilled at quietly looking out over the mountains—my girls are bored inside of five minutes. I get it—scenery bored me witless as a child, so we try to engage with the children but also give them space to relax and make their own choices.

This is just our blueprint—I hope you’ll take what’s useful and ignore what isn’t. What works for us won’t necessarily be useful to a different family. Last summer we managed 3,500 miles in 10 days touring the Wild West. There were odd moments of irritation (mostly mine at the mess in the back seat) but on the whole we did extremely well. This summer we are tackling the Pacific Northwest and can hardly wait to hit the road!

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