TOMORROW the challenge is ON!

So, who’s with me?

Thirty days. Thirty days to change your life. Thirty days to eat clean and see how good you can feel.

The “rules” are easy…. and there are PLENTY of resources out there to help.

No grains.
No legumes (beans, peanuts, soy)
No dairy.
No added sugar.
No caffeine (ok…that’s me. You don’t HAVE to do it)
No artificial sweeteners.

Eat meat (preferably grass-fed or pasture raised). Eat veggies and fruits (remember your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen!) and eat nuts and seeds in moderation. That’s it. Think and eat like a caveman.

I’ll post what I eat, and you can do the same. I did this challenge in January and felt amazing. But then of course, came summertime, and ice cream and cheese… and cold Diet Coke. I wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t strict either.

But I will be tomorrow!

Here are some amazing resources for you if you’re new to Paleo eating. These folks have great information, and it’s all presented in a way that is easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to follow.

Paleo Plan
Mark’s Daily Apple
Robb Wolf
Whole 9

Read up, eat up and enjoy! I can’t wait to hear about all of YOUR success!

It’s good to be Queen

The last 24 hours can count as my coronation.

Firstly, my apologies for no blog post yesterday, I was tied up most of the evening helping Stretch overcome an issue with her DirecTV installation. She’s in college, in her first apartment, having to deal with setting up utilities and such… and of course some yay-hoo installer decides he’s going to make her life difficult. Well, 2.5 hours on the telephone later, by utilizing a MacGyver approach at conference calling, and after speaking to nearly everyone at DirecTV, we got her a NEW installer, a NEW installation date, and a free premium channel package for a year.

I went from “Mom” to “Duchess” after making THAT happen.

Then today, knowing the weekend would take me up to college delivering furniture to Stretch, I decided to do the marketing for my eldest and my little buddy Jake. The eldest is trying her hand at the Paleo Diet in order to not only lose weight, but to finally get on the road to health. She called me a few weeks back and said “I’M SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY! HOW DO YOU DO THIS?”

I’ve done posts before about shopping for high quality food while saving money. I even did one this week, asking for reader participation. (It’s not too late, by the way… feel free to chime in anytime!) My favorite farmer’s market has weekday hours during the summer, so I took my lunch and headed over there with $50 of her dollars in my pocket. She still had a few things left from my last marketing trip – smart girl cooked up dishes and then put them in the freezer – and had done her own supplemental grocery run at the local supermarket. Apparently the grandson eats celery and carrot sticks like they’re going out of style. Atta boy!

So here’s what I got at the farmer’s market:
1 dozen of the good eggs
2 beautiful, huge globe eggplant
1/2 peck of fresh green beans
1/2 peck of peaches
1/4 peck of pears
1 large cantaloupe
1 container yellow cherry tomatoes
1 container red grape tomatoes
Slicing tomatoes
1/2 watermelon (I bought one whole and will split it with her)
3 or 4 cucumbers (again, I bought some for us and will split them)

I still had over half her money left, so I went to the local grocery store to see if I could score any good deals on meat. It’s better to be lucky than good, because they had JUST marked down the meat that had a sell by date of tomorrow. So, I then purchased:
3 packs of chicken drumsticks (the organic ones! Five drumsticks to a pack, and I spent no more than 1.34 for each pack)
4.5 pounds of ground pork
1 pack of sweet italian turkey sausages
4 pounds of ground turkey
1 pack chicken thighs

Total spent on produce and meat for my daughter and grandson: $47.92.

So she has onions, squash, zucchini, celery, carrots, (all fresh) and some frozen broccoli in addition to the things she has cooked up and frozen. She will be able to make all kinds of things from this haul. She will certainly have enough meat for at least two weeks, and I will go back to the market on my normal Saturday run next week. For now, I’ve been able to take $100 (I spent $50 on my last market run for her) and buy enough good quality food for more than 4 weeks. GO MOM!

That moves me from Duchess to Queen. I’m just saying.

As my children get older, my influence over them lessens – and that’s a good thing – I want to have strong, smart, independent children who grow into productive adults. The opportunities to be their hero also lessen, so when it happens, I definitely try to step up. But two times in less than 24 hours? I’ll take it. I’m very proud of my two oldest girls, but I’m also very proud to still be the one they call for help.

It is good to be Queen.

Eating healthy without breaking the bank – Let’s get INTERACTIVE!

This is not my hand…or my money.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a pretty social person. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, I blog, and I tend to get myself involved in conversation wherever I can. Since being THAT GIRL who jumps into other people’s business is not conducive to my having a social life (or any friends), I instead take part in rather lively discussions on an internet forum based here in Southern Maryland.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, THE place to go for information on Southern Maryland is Southern Maryland Online. News, Announcements, Community Calendar items, Classified advertising, a huge range of sponsors, and best of all, the discussion forums. This is a place where you can find advice, information, lively discussion, a healthy dose of sarcasm, a little drama for entertainment, and some idiocy for humor.

Today’s hot topic (for me anyway) was the government push for healthier food, and the use of EBT cards (the modern, electronic food stamps). The first poster threw out an idea that those electronic cards could (in all likelihood) be programmed to only purchase healthy items. This spawned further talk about eating healthy being too expensive for the poor. Many of the “forumites” gave GREAT ideas on healthy options for eating on the cheap. You can check out the conversation here.

There’s some great meal suggestions in that discussion thread, (I had NEVER even thought to use that cheap ramen along with some frozen veggies and a scrambled egg to make a sort of lo-mein type dinner!) along with some website links that specialize in cheap but healthy dinners. Definitely go check it out! I’d suggest buying at the local farmer’s market, rather than the grocery store… and buy SEASONALLY. If the farmers have a lot of something, they have high supply which drives down price. Attend produce auctions, buy meat in bulk, freeze leftovers, and cook SIMPLY. No need for a bunch of fancy stuff, fresh healthy food tastes absolutely delicious when it is prepared simply, allowing the flavor of the food to shine through.

Oh, and buy the good eggs. Really. Splurge a little. Free-range, organic eggs have these huge delicious yolks that are nearly orange in color, and they are SO rich and so satisfying, you’ll eat fewer. I am now addicted to the good eggs, and I’ll never go back.

However, I want to throw this one to you… IS it possible to eat healthy without spending a lot of money? Can those on a tight budget eat better than sodium filled ramen (plain), frozen chicken nuggets, frozen burritos, and cheap macaroni with orange powdered cheese? What are YOUR go-to “healthy but cheap” meals? Leave me a comment, send me a recipe, let’s get interactive and share a little!

Who knows, I may end up cooking something of yours and taking photos to share in a future blog post.