Saturday, January 24, 2015

Turmeric & Apple Cider Vinegar {Natural, Powerful, Medicine for sinus infections and beyond!}

Turmeric & Apple Cider Vinegar - Natural, Powerful, Medicine
source || source

My sister is a pretty smart cookie.

You see, each and every year I fall victim to a horrible sinus infection. I feel the infection creeping up on my for days, then the pain and suffering hits me full force and I am out for at least a week and a half before things start dying down a bit and symptoms gradually fade away. With everything being said and done, I can usually look forward to about 3-4 weeks of snot, pain and body aches each winter.

But not this year.

I was texting my little sis and mentioned that I could feel my annual sinus infection coming on. She asked me if I could have turmeric and apple cider vinegar, and promptly told me to drown myself in them. {Okay, so she said to take a turmeric supplement and a tablespoon of ACV 3 times daily, but still...}

I couldn't find turmeric supplements near me, so I decided to just try using a heaping tablespoon of turmeric powder mixed with a tablespoon of ACV. I added enough water to get everything moving in my glass, and then swigged it down.

It was disgusting. But it worked.

I was completely symptom free in just two days!

I, of course, couldn't wait to share this bit of magic with you, but I completely forgot about it until today. You see, my throat feels a bit swollen and scratchy {oh the perks of being a teacher and working in close contact with sick children day in and day out...}. I immediately thought about how well turmeric and ACV had helped me out before, and I decided to give it a try again...

I'll keep you updated on how well it works with my throat issue - but in the meantime, drown yourself in turmeric and ACV if you're having sinus issues. And give it a try if you're suffering from something else as well :)

Edited to add...

After 24 hours, my throat was no longer swollen. After 30 hours, I had no pain whatsoever!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Food Pyramid Experiment

For those of you who don't know, I'm a teacher. I teach mainly 5th and 6th grade, but I also spend a bit of each week teaching 1st and 2nd graders. I teach the 1st and 2nd graders English, and I teach the 5th and 6th graders in English. What I mean by that is, I teach geometry, history, science, geography and art/music IN English - that way, the children learn English naturally. {And it works pretty well, too!}

As part of my science curriculum, I talk about nutrition. I have a hard time teaching children that the food pyramid is the correct way to eat, so I always made a point to compare MANY different food pyramids {Mediterranean, vegetarian, traditional...} to show my students that there is no one "right" way to eat.

An example of a widely-accepted food pyramid here in Belgium - this one coming from the University of Louvain.
As you can see, it's much like the USDA food pyramid - heavy on grains, light on fats.

This year, I decided to ask my students to build their own personal food pyramid, based on what they actually eat in an average day. We listed the following food groups and tallied up the number of times per day we ate something from each category: Grains, Dairy, Veggies, Starchy Veggies, Fruits, Proteins, Fats, Sweets & Others. {Note: these aren't actual "portions", and though I doubt most children had more than portion of veggies when they counted a vegetable in their day, it's more than likely their grain portions should be much higher as one slice of bread is considered a portion and most of them have at least two slices in the morning and two at noon.}

The resulting pyramids were horrific. First off, most children didn't include their "Sweets & Others" category, because they were too ashamed to see it at the bottom of their food pyramid. Most of those who did include it, put it at the top, where is traditionally is found, and simply did not write their servings number.

Some examples of the food pyramids produced by my students.

Secondly, most of the children only eat one serving of vegetables per day. One. They looked at my like I was an alien when, upon drawing my example pyramid on the board, they saw that I eat veggies 3-4 times per day {I didn't bother explaining that most of them time I eat multiple portions per meal as well.}

Third, none of them seemed overly worried about their pyramids. When we analysed them as a class, the only improvements they found that could be made were to reduce the amounts of sweets they eat. Not a single one thought about adding veggies or even fruit. 

When I went a bit deeper with the analysis, asking about our macro- and micro-nutrient needs, they all seemed convinced that one serving of vegetables per day was adequate for their needs.

And this is where my job gets tricky... all I can do is tell them they need more veggies and hope they will eat more. But in the end, it's really up to their parents.

Regardless of the diet you follow, the food pyramid you take as example and the lifestyle you lead, everyone needs veggies. 

My only hope is that the new food pyramid, due out in Belgium sometime this year, will help awaken parents to that fact.

There is still improvements to be made, but at least the fruits and veggies have traded places with the grains - and instead of suggesting we eat "little" fats, we are now allowed "moderate" amounts. Slowly but surely...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Classic Salmon Salad {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Classic Salmon Salad

Like a lot of my recipe "inventions" this one started with a recipe... and ended with me not having any of the ingredients! I then made substitution after substitution... and ended up with something delicious!

This particular recipe started with Mickey Trescotts' Classic Tuna Salad recipe from The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook... and ended up as Meg White's Classic Salmon Salad.

This salad can be prepped days in advance, making it perfect for a weekly lunch prep session, but it can also be thrown together quickly for a last minute meal. Feel free to swap any of the ingredients to use what you have on hand or even add in your favorite salad toppings.

Classic Salmon Salad
Adapted from Mickey Trescotts' Classic Tuna Salad

  • 3/4 cup homemade mayo (egg-free for AIP)
  • 3 cans of canned salmon
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tbsp of dried dill
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Greens for serving
  1. Mix everything together except for the greens.
  2. Dress the greens on three plates and top with the salmon salad.
  3. If making in advance, place the salmon salad in the food container first, then top with the greens (hardier greens, such as kale, will remain crisp longer than more fragile varieties, such as butter lettuce).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Boar Stew with mushrooms {Paleo, Whole30}

Wild Boar Stew bowl

This year was my second New Year celebration while fully paleo. We had a giant stuffed turkey last year, but wanted to change things up this year with a bit of wild game meat... and the animal we chose was wild boar.

Since I'm the one with the most food restrictions, it fell to me to find a recipe for our boar. I searched around a bit, and found one I liked. I sent the link to everyone I was celebrating New Year's with, and they all gave their approval.

As the date grew nearer, I grew anxious. I mean, the recipe was a stew recipe. Was stew going to be fancy enough for ringing in the new year? I sure hoped so...

The big day came and I sneaked a whiff of the meat that had been marinating since the night before in our hosts' fridge: It smelled amazing! And you know what? It tasted just as delicious as it smelled. Stew certainly can be fancy enough for ringing in the new year.

Wild Boar Stew close upBoar Stew with Mushrooms
Adapted from Octavie of

  • 500 g of boar (or other game meat, or even beef stew meat)
  • 50 g of bacon
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of red wine (replace with bone broth for Whole30)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of bone broth
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 Juniper berries
  • 1 tsp of thyme
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Some ghee
  • 250 g of mushrooms
  1. Cut the meat into pieces and put them in a dish with a lid. Add the sliced carrots, the diced onions, the spices and herbs, the olive oil, wine and bone broth. (Add either more wine or broth until the meat is completely covered.)
  2. Chill, covered, for 24 hours. Stir the meat occasionally.
  3. Fry the bacon in a skillet, then add the meat and marinade. Stir everything and add water, if necessary, to cover the meat. Cook gently, covered, at least two hours.
  4. When cooked, sauté the mushrooms in a pan with a little ghee.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the rest. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Mustache You a Question

Danielle from EATPRIMALRUNHARD invited me to do a special sort of blog post, a very long time ago {I tend to be quite the procrastinator}...

Be prepared to learn everything you probably didn't know you needed to know about me! Here we go...

Four names other people call me other than my real name:

My "real" name is Megan, but:
  • Most friends and family call me Meg.
  • Special family members call me Meggy, such as my Momma and my godmother.
  • My daddy calls me sweetheart.
  • My students call me Miss.

Four jobs I’ve had:
  • Teacher (this is my current job - I teach 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th grade native French speakers in English, but I don't teach them English... Got that? :-P)
  • Before that I worked at Fuddruckers (and never once tasted a burger!).
  • Before Fuddruckers, I worked at Jim's Burger Den, usually asking for double shifts each Saturday and Sunday.
  • And my first real job was working at Ridley's, a local grocery store, stocking shelves.

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Asterix et Obélix aux jeux olympiques
  • Star Wars
  • Untouchable

Four books I recommend:
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • Le parfum by Patrick Suskind
  • Les esprits de la steppe : Avec les derniers chamanes de mongolie by Corine Sombrun
  • Eitô (Lampe d'ombre) by Daniel de Bruycker

Four places I’ve lived:  

I'm an army brat, so I've been around... here are the most recent:
  • Germany, on a military base. I was only 9 and don't remember much, but I think it was great :-P
  • Middleton, Idaho, in three different houses over the span of 9 years!
  • Borlon, Belgium for a few short months (our return is scheduled for this summer!).
  • Liege, Belgium, in two apartments over the courses 6+ years.

Four places I’ve been:  
  • Brussels, Belgium. Multiple times, even just to walk around and visit for the day.
  • London, England. Three times with students to visit.
  • Les Vosges, France. On a hiking trip with the hubster.
  • Bruges, Belgium. Just once, but it was so beautiful and magical I'll never forget it.

Four places I’d rather be right now:
  • Drinking coffee with my parents in their forest home. 
  • Curled up on my best friend's couch talking about nothing and everything.
  • Snuggling with the family dog in my mother-in-law's kitchen while she cooks.
  • At my old hairdresser's, getting my hair washed.

Four of my favorite foods:
  • Mayo, which is strange because I used to hate the stuff.
  • Cookies, and especially these chewy cookies I just developed.
  • Yuca fries because reasons.
  • Dates and other dried fruits, especially apricots, prunes and figs.

Four things I don’t eat:
  • Peas, because they are either mushy or floury.
  • Blood, but I'm not completely against it.
  • Fizzy drinks, which technically no one eats.
  • Any foods that aren't paleo, of course :-P

Four TV shows I watch: 

I don't watch TV, but there are a couple American series I follow with the hubster (he's a TV addict):
  • Game of Thrones

Actually, that's the only one for the moment... but in the past I watched:
  • True Blood
  • Californication
  • Dexter

Four Things I’m looking forward to this year: 
  • Moving into a real house, leaving both apartments and city life behind me for good!
  • Getting a dog, chickens and starting a garden (in other words, having a backyard!).
  • Visiting my folks stateside - hopefully with my in-laws this time!
  • Going hiking with the hubster in beautiful areas.

Four Things I always say:
  • To my students: "Think before you speak."
  • "Y'all." I spent a measly two months visiting my folks in Texas years ago and I've been saying y'all ever since.
  • "Are you listening listening or just pretending to listen?" I say that to the hubster more than once a day.
  • "C'est pas vrai!" This is sort of the French equivalent of "no way!" I'm easily amazed :P

And, that's it! I’m inviting The Paleo Partridge, Slightly Lost Girl and Gutsy by Nature to play along - spill your guts for our reading enjoyment :)

Dining Out, Paleo-Style {Liege, Belgium - Brasserie Le Perron}

I met up with a friend for lunch the other day. We went to college together, and while we don't get together often, we make an effort to not let too much time go by between visits.

We never really plan anything though, we just fix a meeting point and go from there. This time we choose La Place du Marche for our rendezvous, and decided to eat at the first place we saw: Brasserie Le Perron.

You have two choices there: salads or burgers. I quickly read the two menus and my eye was caught by the Ocean Salad: salmon and veggies just sounded really good to me!

Normally, this salad is served with tzatziki, which is a sauce made from Greek yogurt and cucumbers, but I asked them to withhold it and explained I couldn't have dairy products.

Sadly, when my {huge!} plate arrived, I saw the salad was served in a sort of taco bowl - that wasn't mentioned on the menu! I then explained that I couldn't have gluten either... and they quickly made up a second salad for me, served by the chef himself who proudly proclaimed the salad to be "sans produits laitiers, sans gluten!"

Also, to make the deal sweeter, they replaced my tzatziki with a serving of Pico de Gallo, which married perfectly with the salad! I drizzled on some olive oil and enjoyed my huge meal until the end!

Alex, my friend, had ordered the Orange Chicken salad and agreed that the food was delicious and the servings were generous.

While we were there, everyone at the restaurant was offered a free specialty beer, on the house! I, of course, declined, but the gesture was appreciated.

We ended the meal over a shared pot of mint tea, complete with orange blossom water to flavor it as we wished.

All in all, Le Perron is a delicious little restaurant/bar, and is worth the stop if you're in town. Just be sure to precise any food allergies clearly beforehand to avoid sending back entire meals... Apparently not every ingredient is listed on their menu.

This is also another example of not being afraid to ask for what you want {or, such as in my case, asking for what you need} when eating out and adhering to special diets. Bon appétit!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Olive Tapenade {AIP, Whole30, Paleo}

Anytime I am asked to make an appetizer, or anytime I am having people over to eat, I make tapenade. It's super simple, tastes delicious and pairs perfectly with veggie chips - making it a great paleo choice!

I don't really have a "recipe" for my tapenade. All I do is take a can of pitted olives {any color is fine}, drain off the liquid, and blend with olive oil until it's a consistency I like.

That's for basic tapenade, but I like to mix things up a bit. Here are some suggestions for great add-ins that really take your tapenade to a whole other level:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Anchovies
  • Garlic
  • Veggie purées
  • Onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes {not AIP}
  • Nuts {not AIP}
  • Cheese {not AIP}

Clockwise: black olives + garlic + anchovies + sun-dried tomatoes,
green olives + garlic + anchovies + sun-dried tomatoes,
black olives + anchovies, green olives + anchovies.

And here some great ideas for serving/eating tapenade. A mandolin slicer makes cutting veggies for this sort of use a breeze.

  • Sliced carrots
  • Sliced kohlrabi
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Plantain chips/crackers (homemade or store-bought)
  • Stirred into canned tuna
  • Spread on top of chicken breast

What are your favorite ways to eat tapenade? How do you flavor yours?