Delicious Foods of Turkey

As I’m wrapping up the last of my posts on our trip to Turkey, I couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to talk about some of the delicious foods we had there. Some of the most phenomenal bites to eat were also the simplest ones! On our first day, as we were beginning to get a lay of the land in Istanbul, we started getting hungry right as we were in an area where few restaurants could be seen. Well, that turned out to be lucky for us! We came across this guy making fish sandwiches.Istanbul072 He was positioned right outside of this boat which functioned as his restaurant.Istanbul073 It was a super simple meal. Just fish, tomatoes, onions, and peppers on a bun. and only for the equivalent of about $3 each. So delicious! It was a great introduction to sea food in Istanbul.Istanbul075 Istanbul076 Later on in the trip, we had gotten a recommendation from a local to visit this restaurant. We walked through a lesser traveled part of town and around a couple of corners before arriving here. Little did we know this would be one of the best meals of our lives!Istanbul411 We were first greeted by these guys before being sat by a host.Istanbul410 Calamari…Istanbul403 Sea bass…Istanbul404 And fried goat fish. Everything was simply prepared, and seriously the best seafood I’ve ever had. (And don’t you worry, we made plenty of jokes about the anecdotal goatfish!)Istanbul405

We had so much fun joking around with the server, that he brought us 3 of these desserts on the house! Turkish ice cream (which tasted not unlike gelato) on top of dried apricots in a sweet syrupy sauce, and sprinkled over top with nuts. I will dream about this dessert until I am one day able to taste it again.Istanbul406 On our last night in Istanbul, we were on a hunt for doner kebab and came across this place. It turns out, this chef is quite renowned! I had to include this photo, because my foodie-husband was so excited that the chef let him into the kitchen to shave off some meat. When he came out from behind the counter, he noticed a few of his arm hairs had been burned off from the heat! And the chef stands here in front of the fire and does this all day, every day… can you imagine?

Istanbul640In search of beverage to go with our doner kebab, we came across this wonderful little wine and cheese shop in the basement of an old apartment building near Galata Tower. They of course had a huge selection of Turkish wines and cheeses, and we happily picked up a bottle of wine to go with dinner.Istanbul643 Istanbul644The morning we left Istanbul to head to Central Turkey, we had time for a leisurely breakfast at this delightful cafe.
Istanbul670 It was here that we had our first full traditional Turkish breakfast. It’s a huge spread of olives, tomato and cucumber salad, cheeses, breads, jams, eggs, coffee and tea. It was the perfect send off from our time in the city.Istanbul665 While our time in Cappadocia was short, and most of our meals were on-the-go, we had one last big celebratory meal with our friends and travel companions in the town of Uchisar. We started with cocktails in this lounge, which I absolutely loved the design of. It was a combination of modern, vintage, and traditional Turkish elements, and felt super comfortable, like a place you could easily spend hours in.Cappadocia423 Cappadocia418 Then we headed downstairs to the restaurant for a rich, delicious meal.Cappadocia451 These were pheasant samosas, and really didn’t need the sauces they came with at all.Cappadocia441 Then some grilled haloumi cheese on a salad.Cappadocia442 And a zucchini salad.Cappadocia444And finally the main course, for me it was a dish of hand-made pasta with lamb meat and a yogurt sauce. So rich and comforting.
Cappadocia447 We just didn’t want the night to end, so we extended the night a little longer with dessert in their cigar bar.Cappadocia472As is tradition in Turkey, every meal ended with a Turkish tea to help digestion. So I will let you finish this visual meal with a Turkish tea as well.Istanbul493Everything we ate in Turkey was so delicious, we’ve already begun searching the LA area for substitutes. We’ve found a great place for traditional Turkish breakfast, and are on the search for more.

What Turkish bite would you most like to taste?

Markets of Istanbul

One of my favorite things to do in Istanbul was to peruse the markets. Whether we were shopping or just walking through, it was wonderful to see so many varieties of foods, spices, teas, and handmade goods. I was constantly tempted to stock up on all sorts of things I never would have had enough room for in my suitcase!

The first one we came across, and maybe my favorite, wasn’t even really an official market. We were wandering around trying to find our way to the Suleymaniye Mosque and ended up strolling through an area of town that seemed relatively untouched by tourists.Istanbul097

All along either side of the narrow road were tables set out with local fruits and veggies for sale, all for a very reasonable price.Istanbul091 The colors of the veggies were so vibrant! Istanbul090 Istanbul089 Istanbul088 I’d never seen so much garlic in one place as this little set-up.Istanbul086 Dried fruits and spices smelled so delicious as we walked by!Istanbul082 Istanbul081 The next day, on our way to the Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern, we found ourselves walking through the middle of the Spice Bazaar. We passed through here quite a few times during our stay in Istanbul, since it just happened to be right in between our apartment and a lot of the sites we visited. Istanbul283

Sure, there were lots and lots of spices around every corner, but it was also easy to find turkish candies and sweets, and rows upon rows of beautiful teas.Istanbul276 Istanbul279 Istanbul275 Istanbul287

How about this beautiful raw honey comb!Istanbul273

Not only foods, in the Spice Bazaar there we plenty of vendors selling dishware, linens, and scarves. Admittedly some of them seemed intended to draw in tourists, but there were still lots of wonderful treasures to be found.Istanbul281All the beautiful spices and teas made the whole bazaar so colorful!Istanbul284We made sure to stop by Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar, which is much more geared toward Turkish goods, like linens, scarfs, ceramics, tapestries, and rugs. The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest covered markets in the world, and has been around since the 1400’s.Istanbul435

Sadly we were mistaken about what time was closing time, so we got there just as most of the vendors were closing shop. But with the sheer number of vendors that had shops there (somewhere around 3,000), you can imagine how crowded it must be during the day! On the plus side, with the lack of crowds, we were able to take some time to look at the architecture and decorative details of the place.Istanbul437

It was a huge space! Each hallway seemed to go on forever, and all of the arched corridors were beautifully painted. Istanbul443 Istanbul441 Istanbul450Istanbul447 Istanbul444 Of all the markets we came across, I think my favorites were the unexpected vendors that set up shop on carts, sometimes pushing their way into crowds in search for business. Even though much of the city seems to be built of stone, these markets provided delightful bursts of color throughout Istanbul.

Istanbul117What is your favorite find from a bazaar or market?

Dining and Design in the UAE

For our entire vacation in the Middle East, it struck me how well we were eating. We never had bad food, not even once. It also struck me that the service at restaurants in the UAE was always top notch. Really impeccable. We certainly felt spoiled! Here is a highlight of our favorite dining experiences from the UAE.

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One night, the friends we were visiting took us to their all time favorite restaurant in Abu Dhabi, called 18 Degrees (named because if the building it resides in, which is built at an 18 degree angle). It was an opportunity to meet their friends (mostly expats from the US and the UK) and for them to share with us one of their favorite places.

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The interior embraces the building’s lean, and seems to use the steel reinforcement as an important element of the decor, rather than trying to disguise it.

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The kitchen is open to the dining room, and we were lucky enough to be sitting right next to the kitchen so we were able to watch the magicians at work.

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When we got to our table, the restaurant manager had left this note for each of us, addressed to each individual person. This was not prearranged by our friends, just something that they did to make us feel welcome and well taken care of.

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All of the food was incredible. They had started us off with a variety of appetizers, already divided into a sample plate of sorts for each of us, to ensure we could all try each one. Then our main courses arrived. I ordered their duck leg (which was our friend’s favorite dish there… which such a shining recommendation, I couldn’t resist) and it did not disappoint! Definitely the best duck I have ever had. And we even had a chance to tell the Michelin rated chef as much. He came out to our table a couple times to see how we were doing and to chat with us a bit.

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They treated us all to complimentary champagne, and then of course we drank lots of wonderful wine. And after our meals were done their cheese specialist came downstairs with these unexpected and quite decadent variety of cheeses, some as old as 15 years and all unpasteurized. The staff described each cheese in detail, just as they had done with each appetizer, meal, dessert, and cocktail (each by their own specialist). If you know me well, you know I love cheese… a lot! So I was in heaven!

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AbuDhabi610Just the next night, to cap off a day in Dubai, we had reservations for another incredible place. Rather than pay an entry fee to ride an elevator to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, we opted to have a luxurious evening of cocktails at the bar and lounge on the 124th floor, called Atmosphere.

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Yes, the cocktails were unique and delicious. And yes, the service was once again amazing. But I was in interior design heaven, surrounded by what looked to be glossy bent mahogany, like something you might see on a very expensive yacht. The warmth of the wood exaggerated the warmth of the sunset coming in through the windows.

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And yes, we were 124 stories up for sunset. This photo will not do the view justice… it’s hard to describe just how far you are able to see while looking out a window at that height. It doesn’t seem real!

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On our final night in Abu Dhabi, before the four of us jumped on a plane to Istanbul, we took my hubby to Emirates Palace for dinner at Hakkasan, an awesome Asian fusion restaurant (which I understand has locations in several cities around the world).

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I loved the decor! Once again, we felt surrounded by beautiful wood, but this time in a form much more open.

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There were a couple different seating set-ups, but all were both modern and comfortable with great use of materials like wood and leather.

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Outside, there was what seemed like a bridge or boardwalk leading to beautiful, almost tropical looking, outdoor lounge areas.AbuDhabi706 AbuDhabi708

Once again, the food was to die for. It started with some delicious, tender, perfectly flavored dim sum.

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Then we shared a few main courses, family style if you will. My favorite one was the sea bass cooked in wine (I’m sure the menu described it much more eloquently!) But the lotus root dish was pretty amazing too, I’d never had anything quite like it before.

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And when they learned that it was his birthday, they brought this dessert out so we could sing to him embarrassingly. Because what would a birthday be without that.

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One thing I feel certain about is that Abu Dhabi and Dubai are doing it right when it comes to hospitality and dining. No expense seems spared in the design, and the service could make any average joe feel like a millionaire!

What do you think? Do you like the design of these restaurants? Does the food look intriguing?

The Fruits of my Neighbor

One of the things I love about California is how lush and fertile it is. Even though we are surrounded by desert, you really can grow almost anything here. It has a lot to do with the mild temperature (no frost or extreme heat to worry about most of the time), and also our ability to irrigate. The hubby and I love to take long leisurely walks around our neighborhood, and we love to discover the fruit trees that our neighbors all have in their yards. We have a mature orange tree and a young lime tree that producer fruit, and soon we will have guavas, avocados, figs, and strawberries to enjoy once they all grow a little older and wiser. So today I’m sharing with you the fruits and other edible plants that can be found around my neighborhood. Try not to drool to much.

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Orange

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Kumquat

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Rosemary

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Nasturtium

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Quince

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Blackberry

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Loquat

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Lemon

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Pea

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Peach

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Prickly Pear

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Fig

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Avocado

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Grape

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Grapefruit

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Hibiscus

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Apple

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Sunflower

Also, check out our herb garden.

What sorts of surprises have you found in your neighborhood?

*All photos were taken by my dear, supportive husband.

**This post was inspired by a friend’s recent discovery of loquats in her own neighborhood. You know who you are. Thanks!  😉

Paleo Challenge Update: The Finale

Well folks, that’s in. The month of April is over, and my paleo challenge with it. But the thing is that I don’t think I’m going to end it here. I’ve talked about how even my energy level has been and how much better my skin is, and I don’t want to mess that all up! So here are the usual updates for my last few official days of paleo, plus my plan moving forward.

Favorite Meal

DSCN0691On our last official night of paleo, we had some oven roasted chicken thighs with grilled onions and herbs, and on the side a yam with a delightful pad of melting butter. I like yams because they’re a little sweet, just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without doing too much damage.

Favorite Snack

I have been loving snacking through this whole diet (as you’ve probably noticed from my past lunches). I’ve especially  loved exploring paleo recipes that remind me of non-paleo foods. It has been helping me feel like I’m not missing anything by eating paleo, and makes me feel like I could keep this up for a lot longer if I wanted to.

DSCN0687We had friends over for dinner one night, and I whipped this almond cake up for dessert (adapted from this recipe). It was super easy to do! In fact we made a second one using orange instead of lemon, and I have to say I think I prefer the orange version! Drizzled with a little honey, it made the perfect sweet finish to a delicious meal.

DSCN0696I also made some paleo granola (adapted from this recipe), which is so delicious! Before this month, cereal was my breakfast pretty much every morning. On paleo we almost always have eggs and bacon for breakfast, but I was looking for something to mix it up a bit. This granola is oat-less and basically all nuts and dried fruit, so it’s very filling and a great kick start to the morning

Something Learned

Ok, I have a confession to make. There were two meals when I was unable to truly stick to paleo. I was at a conference where lunch was provided for us, and I have to say the options were limited and left few choices for anyone with special dietary needs. But what it taught me, which will help me moving forward, is to make better decisions about what I’m putting into my body. For example, when confronted with pizza on the first day I could choose between regular pizza, gluten free pizza, and vegan pizza.

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First I loaded up with as much salad as I could without seeming like a hog, and then I chose a small slice of gluten free pizza, deciding that the processed soy and gluten in the vegan pizza was probably worse for me than simply having some lactose and doing without the gluten. And I topped it off with a couple of baked chicken wings.

On the second day of the conference there was only chicken in mole (delicious!), corn tamale, and white rice served. So in that case I skipped the rice altogether, and then after hearing that the corn was all organic and that they did not use any soy in their cooking but instead used grape seed oil, I decided to eat some of the tamale as a means to get enough energy to carry me through the rest of the day.

How I Feel

As I’ve mentioned, my energy level remains even and my skin is still healthy, and I aim to keep that going for as long as possible! But now that my paleo month is over, I also feel a bit relieved that in situations like the conference lunches, or when I go to a friend’s house for dinner, I can let loose a little bit and not worry too much about eating bread, pasta, or milk products if that’s what’s being served. Which leads me to…

The Plan Moving Forward

Here’s what the hubby and I have decided to do, for our health: At home, we will continue to basically eat paleo, adding in occasional legumes (beans and peanuts) and whole grains (quinoa and farro) to be sure we’re also getting the valuable vitamins and nutrition they can provide. But the legumes and grains will be limited. Mainly our diet will continue to consist of protein and veggies, and we’ll continue to avoid lactose and gluten as much as possible. However, we’ve also decided that when we go out to dinner or find ourselves in a situation with few paleo options, we’re not going to stress about it. There is so much delicious food out there to be had, why miss out on it all the time. There are too many non-paleo things we love to taste! But the idea is “everything in moderation,” and that’s what we will be sticking to.

Besides, when we head to Abu Dhabi and Turkey in a few weeks, and are confronted with incredible foods we’ve never even heard of, we will be trying it all!

Will you be changing your eating habits moving forward? What changes are you making to be healthier?

Paleo Challenge Update: Week Four

Well, April is almost over, and so will be the month of my self imposed paleo challenge. Only a few more days! Although I have to admit, I don’t mind this new way of eating. I doubt I’ll stray much from it once the challenge is over!

Favorite Meal

Sausages! Need I say more? Yum! My hubby put together a delicious meal of Italian sausages with peppers, onions, and mushrooms all cooked together in a cast iron skillet and seasoned with basil, salt, and pepper. I didn’t miss the sausage bun at all!

DSCN0445I also really enjoyed this breakfast! We’ve gotten in to a routine in the mornings where I first make coffee and then bacon and eggs for us to have together before the hubby heads off to work. But one morning, he beat me to it and whipped up some baked frittata-like scrambled eggs with basil, a side of bacon, and berries to fill the corners. This was my favorite breakfast all week!

DSCN0625Favorite Snack

Of course, my go-to prosciutto plus fruit snack wins again, but this time with berries! (This was my late-night snack after class on Wednesday night.)

DSCN0651We also made chicken liver pate, and in a search for something to spread it on found this simple recipe for paleo crackers and adapted it a bit. (We used garlic olive oil, and skipped the rosemary to avoid an extra trip to the grocery store.) They were delicious, a little bit addictive, and very munchable even on their own.

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I learned that fruit is perfect for satisfying a sweets craving. Really what you’re craving most of the time is sugar, and fruit has plenty of that! It’s just the all natural kind. It makes me realize that I can rely more on fruit for sugar and less on things like cookies. So in the future when I do have a cookie or three, it will be a more enjoyable special treat!

How I Feel

Honestly, my body has really normalized to this way of eating! I continue to have clearer skin, more predictable and less dramatic hunger over the course of the day, and my energy level remains even. All good things! It definitely motivates me to be more paleo than I was once the challenge is over (even if there are occasions to fall away from it every now and then… like ice cream on a hot day). But more on my plans for the future in my final paleo update next week!

Have you been trying this along with me? How do you feel?

Paleo Challenge Update: Week Three

I’m through week three and going strong! The hardest part has been on the few occasions where I’ve eaten out. I thought it would be easy to find paleo-friendly menu options, but it is admittedly harder than I realized. Salads wind up being the default, which can get a little boring after a while. But hey, you can never have too many greens I suppose.

Favorite Meal

Meatballs! I know they traditionally go with spaghetti, but of course we can’t have spaghetti. In retrospect, a great paleo alternative to spaghetti would have been spaghetti squash, so maybe we’ll have our meatballs with some spaghetti squash next time.

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I also really loved this meal, which was actually our dinner last night. I am definitely a beef and pork eater but if given the choice I tend to gravitate toward poultry, so this was my kind of meal. We had chicken roasted with sweet potatoes and apples, with a side of greens.

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Favorite Snack

Bear with me here because I had lots of good snacks this week. In fact, for some reason I’ve found myself having large snack-like plates for lunch instead of full meals on most days. This snack plate was my lunch the other day. Prosciutto with a little drizzle of honey, olives, sugar snap peas, a pear for “dessert”, and some tea to warm me up on a windy day.

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Another day I broke open this papaya to snack on. Yup! Just me, my spoon, and this baby. Sweet and delicious!

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I also got a little more creative with the nuts this week. and put together a mixture of walnuts, almonds, and dried cranberries for a little munching.

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Something Learned

I have been noticing this week that my skin has been clearing up dramatically during this paleo challenge, and after a bit of research it turns out my love of dairy and bread has probably been a significant factor in my acne to begin with! This resource explains it more in depth, but basically a diet high in carbohydrates and lactose can cause your insulin to react differently than intended, and the hormones that create the oil in your follicles become out of whack. Voila! More of those little red enemies. Also, lactose generally can cause inflammation of all sorts, so it makes sense that less lactose would mean lowered inflammation of your skin. Here are two resources that I fond helpful to understand this better:

How I Feel

Like I mentioned, I have noticed a huge improvement in my overall skin health. My energy level has been staying pretty consistent still. And I’ve even noticed that my pants are fitting better! Now I don’t want to tout this as a weight-loss diet, because it truly is all about getting healthy and eating more naturally. But I’m not surprised if a little weight loss comes a long with it. I am so much less inclined to snack because I don’t have those dramatic drops in blood sugar that scream “feed me” at all odd times of day. Plus, the types of foods I snack on are no longer potato chips, cheese and crackers, or bowls of cereal (yes, I used to have that for a snack… all lactose and carbs). Instead, I snack on papaya or nuts. Much more interesting and tasty! So all in all I’d say I am a lot healthier than I was just a few weeks ago!

Paleo Challenge Update: Week Two

Another paleo week down! Honestly, this is a lot easier to do than I thought! It requires a little creativity on occasion, but I’m really enjoying eggs and bacon for breakfast and almond milk in my coffee every morning. Plus, I’m getting much more versed in what it means to eat a paleo diet, so it’s getting much easier to explain to people what it all means.

Favorite Meal

I can pick two, right? I’m picking two. The truth is, there have been way more than two incredibly delicious meals this week, but let’s not belabor how spoiled I am at dinner time. So I’m picking one home cooked meal and one meal out.

Over the weekend after taking one of the LA Conservancy’s walking tours through downtown Los Angeles, we spent the rest of the day wandering around downtown… an old used and collectable book store, the fabric district, and the arts district. We stopped at one of our favorite sushi spots for lunch, and since rice is out for paleo we ordered a mouth watering collection of sashimi. Yum!.

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Then, a few nights ago the hubby brought home a flank steak, grilled it to perfection and put together a sort of broken down fajita. We had the steak with roasted zucchini  eggplant, and peppers. I even got to use the leftover guacamole for a cobb salad the next day for lunch, so I’d call that a double success!

DSCN0544Favorite Snack

Ok, this has been by far my favorite discovery of this week. For No Tech Tuesday this week we decided to do a little paleo baking. Yes, that’s what I said. Paleo baking. We made this recipe for “‘I Can’t Believe It’s Paleo’ Banana Bread“, and it was so delicious!

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Great as a snack for sure, but my favorite way to eat it was pan fried with a little butter and a side of eggs for breakfast. It was almost like having french toast! I will definitely be making this again this week. (By the way, if you are gluten challenged, this is completely gluten free and definitely worth a try!)

DSCN0569Something Learned

This week I was learning to limit my snacking. Especially with that delicious banana bread, I wanted to just keep eating more. Same with almonds, they are so easy to grab a handful and snack away! But part of a paleo diet is balancing the kind of foods you are eating. Remember last week when I mentioned there are a lot of gray areas for what foods are ok or not? Some of them (like almonds, and I’m sure all the stuff that’s in that banana bread) are considered “paleo, but…” Meaning it’s paleo, but in moderation. The idea is to limit yourself to the amount of food that you might come across if you were actually in a forest somewhere gathering your meal.

How I Feel

I feel balanced. Ok, how do I explain that… My energy level has been pretty consistent throughout each day, which I’m attributing to the lack of my usual sugar highs followed by sugar crashes. I surprisingly have not been having crazy cravings for things though. I think I’m actually getting a reasonable amount of sugar to satisfy my would-be cravings just by eating delicious things like pineapple and mango on occasion. This little “challenge” of mine has been surprisingly easy to adapt to. Now, onward, to week three!

I would love to hear about your paleo experiences! Leave ’em in the comments!

Paleo Challenge Update: Week One

Earlier this week I wrote about the hubby and I challenging ourselves to one month of the paleo lifestyle. So far so good! And since there was so much interest in my post on Tuesday, I thought I’d keep you all posted with an update at the end of each week, where I’ll address each of these four topics. So, here goes!

My Favorite Meal

We tried a few different meats this week, but I’m going to have to go with the pork roast of night one as my favorite! It was delicious, flavorful, and really made me feel like I wasn’t sacrificing anything in the way of dinners. So thanks to the hubby for being an awesome cook and whipping this up for us on the first night!

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My Favorite Snack

Ok, so actually this was my lunch yesterday, but earlier in the week I was snacking on smaller portions of these when I would start feeling munchie. Strawberries, almonds, and prosciutto, oh my!

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Something Learned

I learned that legumes are not ok on the paleo diet, so apples with peanut butter is out. But almonds are a great alternative! Throw some almonds in a food processor and viola, instant almond butter! (I prefer almond butter over peanut butter anyway.) Also, almond milk in my coffee has been quite delicious; I don’t miss my usual sugar and soy creamer at all! In fact, I might switch to almond milk for my coffee permanently.

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How I Feel

The biggest change I’ve notice in week one has been that I don’t get those sudden intense hunger feelings. Normally, hunger works like an off/on switch for me. One second it’s off and the next it’s on… and then it’s a count-down to get food before I start getting cranky. I’m starting to think that might have been because of all the refined carbohydrates I usually eat! I have not had that kind of instant hunger sensation even once all week. So that has been a big and welcome surprise in all this!

Are you living paleo too? How’s it going? If not, are you intrigued yet?

Spring Garden: Cozy and Delicious

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the flowers that overhang our back patio

We’ve been diving into Spring, and we’re so excited it’s here! I know, I do live in Southern California, and it’s pretty temperate most of the year. But still, Spring is the best time of year. The temperatures stop dropping into the low 40’s, the Winter rain takes a break, and just like on the East coast everything becomes new and green and lush again.

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our back patio (the “lounge”), great for reading, grilling, and chilling

On the first warm weekend, we jumped at the chance to get our outdoor space ready, starting with a refresh of our back patio (which I lovingly like to call our “lounge”). Last week I mentioned our first bbq of Spring; this is where the ladies watched from as the guys battled it out over a game of bocci ball!

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I love to cozy up here with a book

Plus, we have long aspired to be herb gardeners, and since this is the first Spring since we moved into our house last year, we finally have the space for a modest vegetable and herb garden. The hubby cleared out the garden left by the last owners, mainly because it was mostly berries and berries can be impossible to wrangle! (If you’re not familiar with growing berries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are travelers so they can quickly take over your garden if you’re not careful!) We put in a 4×4 raised garden bed and a collection of pots (most of them found around our yard in unexpected places, left lying around by the past two owners of the house).

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our raised herb and vegetable garden

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4 x 4 raised garden bed for the vegetables

We included all our favorite herbs, the ones we use the most in the kitchen.

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thyme

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cilantro

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basil

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rosemary

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chives

We have four types of peppers and a tomato plant, which we hope one day to combine with our young lime and avocado trees (they live in the front yard) to make completely home grown guacamole.

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4 kinds of peppers

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tomato

We threw in a zucchini and a cucumber, because you can’t go wrong with either of those.

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zucchini

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cucumber

And as lovers of strawberries, we decided to replace the ones we pulled out of the original garden with a few in large pots, so they can travel all they want within the confines of a controlled environment.

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strawberries (and one of the inherited gnomes that live in our garden)

I love peeking over at the garden to see how it’s doing, while lounging out back. And it’s especially satisfying when we need some thyme or basil for a meal and we simply go outside and snip off a sprig from our garden. Hooray for Spring!

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the view of our garden from our lounge (and another inherited gnome; we decided to let them stay for good luck)

What have you done to prepare your outdoor space for Spring?