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Paleo: Why we eat what we eat.

All the recipes I post on here are grounded in paleo concepts – gluten, dairy, grain and sugar free. Organic. Unprocessed. Full-fat. Free range, grassfed, pastured. I know, I sound like a jerk. But there’s a reason for it (aside from it’s what we’re meant to eat) so I thought I’d give you a quick run down of our story.

I love food. I love to cook. I love to eat. I always have, but I think our culture can make you feel guilty for loving food and to eat. I remember feeling incredibly liberated when I read Eat, Pray, Love because Elizabeth Gilbert said she was a food tourist. Yes!! I had never heard anyone admit that when they travel, it was about making sure every meal was amazing. In my head, travel was supposed to be about experiencing the sights, the culture, the history and the activities. Which it is. But for some—me—it’s also about food. I got way off topic there, but to say I’m always thinking about the next meal would be an understatement. For me, food is about the satisfaction that comes from eating something delicious while experiencing someone’s art and culture. It could be a meal prepared by a James Beard Award-winning chef, or it could be my nana’s tortillas, or it could an Oreo (although I find (slightly) those less satisfying these days). If a meal is mediocre, it feels like a wasted opportunity. Yes, this is an exhaustive and often disappointing relationship I have with food, but I don’t think I chose it. I’ve realized in the last few years that it’s where I find joy.

So, with that, how the heck did we end up eating a generally paleo diet? Where there’s no bread or cheese or pasta or beer or cheese or chicken pot pie or cheese or tortillas? For us, it sort of came together all of the sudden about 18 months ago.

I have fibromyalgia. I have had it since I was 18. From day 1, I was told I should eat paleo because grains and sugar are inflammatory. But, back in 2001, paleo looked very different than it does today, and fibromyalgia was even less understood than it is now. I tried, but couldn’t stick to the low-fat, no carb structure and looking back, wouldn’t have had the understanding of processed foods or nightshades to make it effective. Instead, I spent 10 years on muscle relaxants not paying attention to what I was eating, or my digestion. I kicked that habit and discovered it wasn’t even doing anything. I had some success with network chiropractics, but moved away from my chiropractor. I also tried massage and acupuncture and various forms of exercise and regular chiropractics and tried taking all sorts of supplements (but never really knew how to take them). I did learn that the digestive system was a big part of fibromyalgia, but didn’t know what to do about it. For the most part, I just ignored the chronic pain and fatigue – I had a life to live. Then, we unknowingly moved into a moldy house and spent the last four years battling a crazy combination of health issues.

TimTheFarmer is generally a healthy guy, but when we moved into our last house, he started having major stomach issues. We couldn’t eat a meal out without him getting sick, and half the dinners I cooked also made him sick. It was awful. We had no idea what the problem was.

Then all at once, I saw the cover article on Time Magazine, “Eat More Fat” and started hearing about bulletproof coffee. I read the article which lead to reading The Big Fat Surprise, which blew my mind. We started drinking the storied bulletproof coffee, which rocked our world, but I knew we couldn’t add all that fat into our diets without changing the rest of our diet, so I got the Bulletproof Diet book to learn his approach. This is when I got exposed to the new paleo. The full fat (good fats only though – grassfed butter, coconut oil, lard from pastured pigs, etc.), big meat (from pastured/grassfed animals), organic produce version of paleo. The switch to paleo was almost instantaneous and because this new version encourages the eating of fats (which makes you feel full much quicker than flour and sugar and processed food), it was easy. What I think is most surprising is things I used to love, are generally not that satisfying anymore. Although, lately I’ve been craving a good, homemade mac and cheese with a crunchy, cheesy breadcrumb topping.

TimTheFarmer was getting better, but would still get sick when we’d eat out. After moving out of our house into our new home, we both started working with a nutritional therapist who quickly identified the likely source his issues to be the moldy house. We were floored. My symptoms made sense – respiratory issues, chronic colds and allergies, fatigue, more sever fibromyalgia symptoms – but we had no idea how different everyone is and that it could affect your GI system. I’ll post more on this, but she prescribed an even more restricted version of paleo with a host of vitamins and supplements (different for each of us). That’s where we’re at today. Working to detox from the neurotoxin illness we developed after 4 years in a moldy home. Eating paleo is at the core with an emphasis on local, fresh eating.

So for us, this is about seeking health and actively trying to find a way to eat and live and thrive. This means what we eat will continue to evolve and we may throw some things strict paleo folks would never dream of touching into our diets from time to time. We also avoid things that are popular on paleo, because they send me into an asthma attack and curl Tim up on the floor due to the high histamine content i.e. bone broth. 

Because I find joy in delicious food, I’m always trying to make eating paleo just as delicious fresh crusty ciabatta topped with St. Andre’s triple cream cheese and a glass of Cabernet. If I post a recipe, it’s because it makes for awesome eating. End of story.

I expect I’ll share more about our health journey, but for now, I guess this is our paleo manifesto?

Yes, that is butter and a hand blender in my bag – Traveling with Bulletproof Coffee

Have you tried Bulletproof Coffee yet? And by tried it, I mean not just had a sip, but substituted it for your regular coffee for a few days? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. It’s life changing. It literally changed how TimTheFarmer and I eat and alleviated the morning fatigue I’ve struggled with from fibromyalgia for almost 15 years. The combination of high quality fats from grassfed butter and MCT oil (fancy coconut oil) with coffee from clean beans acts as sort of a jump start (or rocket fuel) to your morning. You can read more about it here**.


Anyway, once you try it fo’ reelz (and thank me) and it becomes a crucial part of your morning routine, you have to figure out how to travel with it. The free breakfasts at Hampton Inn are great, but their butter isn’t from grassfed cows, their coffee’s moldy, and blenders are curiously missing from the buffet line. Here’s how I do it:

1. Plan your butter and oil portions

I know I need 2 tbsp each of butter and coconut/MCT oil per day, so there’s some basic multiplication involved. Tip: don’t start cooking with your butter/oil like we did on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico…when you run out of Kerrygold butter on Vieques, your SOOL. When we finally found the butter when we got back to San Juan, we did a victory dance in the local supermercado #itsthatgood.

2. Bring coffee too.

At home, we buy low mycotoxin coffee and even though I knew it was better, it was until a recent business trip where I relied on hotel coffee that I could really see the difference. I was getting headaches within an hour of drinking hotel coffee. Now, I bring good coffee with me and swap it out for coffee in the hotel coffee makers. It’s kind of a James Bond move; you’d be impressed.

3. Pack a hand blender, knife/spoon, and mixing cup.

The key to Bulletproof Coffee is blending it. Because I tend to jump the gun—after hearing rave reviews from Critter and E—I looked up the ingredients and threw butter and coconut oil in our coffee for the first week without blending it…imagine coffee with floating butter…it was a little greasy. Once I realized you had to blend it, it took it to a whole new level. Now I travel with our Cuisnart hand blender at all times. I would love an actual blender that’s light and suitcase sized, but haven’t found one. Most hotel rooms don’t have cutlery, so bring something to get the butter and oil into your cup. And don’t forget a large cup (I use a quart soup container that I pack the oil and butter in) to blend your coffee in, otherwise, you’ll be blending your coffee in an ice bucket, which I may or may not have experience with.

4. Pack Dr. Bronner’s.

In addition to being a great non-toxic face, hand, and body soap, this is great to use to cleanse your hand blender, knife, and cup.

Since November, I’ve traveled with Bulletproof Coffee fixin’s to Arizona, California (3x), Puerto Rico, Colorado (2x), Texas, Oregon, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and Connecticut. This system works, but I’d love your tips if you travel with it too!

**Just an FYI, this is not an endorsement of Dave Asprey or his products…I’m skeptical of his entrepreneurial intentions and have never purchased his coffee or MCT oil. I have read his book, and his coffee recipe works for me, that’s it. If you’re curious about how I find good, affordable substitutions to Bulletproof products, post a comment below.