Fair warning this post gets really real, and is mostly just a journalistic attempt to self-medicate, that’s often what writing is for me, so I promise I won’t mind if you just go read my chocolate cake recipe, we can still be besties.
So if we haven’t talked over a hot cup of tea or a smooth glass of wine, it is likely that you don’t know that my mom passed away when I was a child. She had brain cancer, a predominantly pediatric cancer that the doctors presumed had just hung out at the base of her head until it grew large enough to start causing problems. She had more than a dozen surgeries over 15 months, but eventually succumbed to a hardcore version of pneumonia that started shutting down her kidneys. Losing my mom totally shaped my future. I have joked that Grief was my first boyfriend, we spent all of our time together, and Grief was a great comfort to me, but then I met someone else, Depression. Depression and I had our go rounds, moment in the sun, and I was infatuated with him for much longer than I would care to admit, we were no good for each other but we tried to make it work. I finally got myself out, ran into the night and said, “to hell with you, you’re no good for me, my family was right!”
Sometimes Grief and I meet up for coffee and just talk about the good times, and what we’re doing now, Grief tells me that he thinks my mom would be proud of me if she was here. Tonight however, Depression and Grief went out together (they’re good drinking buddies) and they both drunk texted me. Grief, always the gentleman said, “really sorry to bother you, but I need you to know that your mom died because it’s been a long time and I think you might have forgotten. Anyways, she really misses you too, and cancer sucks… a lot.” Whereas his counterpart, Depression reminded me, “your mom would hate to see what you’ve become, and you’re not worth a whole lot, you still look like crap, fatty, and you will never stop missing your mom… but, I’ll always be there for you.” My best friend Anxiety chimed in immediately, she’s quite the oversharer, “Depression’s right, you know, you are looking a little gross and yeah, I mean what have you really accomplished, Lorde was winning Grammy’s at 17, what have you got to show for yourself. Gosh, I always liked Depression, you guys were great together!” I tell Anxiety to go home, but she reminds me that we live together and even share a pillow… and makeup brushes.
My remedy for these interactions with the fellas that have gripped my life for so long is just to sob openly with the windows down, cry until my throat is ragged and listen to the music that was the soundtrack to my breakup with Depression. I know that music, just like writing will always be there to comfort me, and it does, I cry myself out, let my breathing become shallow hiccups and slowly bring myself back to my baseline. But I do not go back to Depression, I don’t even respond to his text.
The thing that I want to illustrate most by the anthropomorphism of grief, depression, and anxiety is that yes, I have been crippled by the grief of losing my mom and the depression that followed on its heels, but choosing positivity and love are the biggest supports that I have in all of this. Yes, it is unwaveringly sucky that my mom died before she was even 40, and yes it sucks that I still have the arguments with myself about the impact that this has on my interpretation of my worth, but in the midst of it, I choose to see the love, and to see the good because that’s just who I am.
I am so blessed by getting to have my mom for the first 10 years of my life, and as the tenth anniversary of her death approaches, about two weeks away, I am surrounding myself in memories of how wonderful she was and how my actions are extensions of her memory.
Choosing positivity doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens to you, and it doesn’t mean that other people are always positive, but it does mean that you get to choose your reaction and response. I once had a therapist (she was definitely not a good fit for me, our visions just did not line up) tell me, “you can’t surround yourself in this positivity stuff, it’s just not how the world works.” I challenged her thinking, but really I feel sorry for her thinking, it is a way harder life, I remember it, it’s sucky. But, yes, I really do see positivity in every situation, when my car breaks down, it’s a major inconvenience and expense, but it reminds me of my abundance and it’s a chance to support another local business. When I see things about wars and unrest in other countries, I am so much more grateful for the peace that is in my own life and inspired to help to resolve conflicts. I even choose positivity when thinking about my mom’s death, it helped me lose my fear of dying so that I could focus on living.
Being positive and self assured doesn’t mean that you won’t have depression, anxiety, bipolar, an eating disorder, etc. But it will make you more equipped to handle the struggles of living with those afflictions and feel more rooted in your truth. If you have a solid foundation of loving yourself and seeing the good, it slowly becomes easier to hear your truth over the shouting of your mind.
And until you get there yourself, I will say it for you.
So the Paleo diet, huh? It sounds pretty easy, but there’s a lot of grey area that leaves room for error. The thought behind the Paleo diet is that you go back to the way of eating found in our ancestors from somewhere around the paleolithic era. What research has found is that people from way back then didn’t consume grains or dairy, at least not the way that we do. The biggest reason for this is probably a) because agriculture wasn’t utilized by nomadic people, and b) because animal husbandry was also not utilized, wherein it would have been extremely difficult for people to collect milk from wild animals. That’s where we see this hunter/gather sort of diet emerge. Lots of meat and fruits and vegetables, avoiding grains and dairy almost all together.
Why would you want to do this? It seems like a good question to me too. I have some friends who eat Paleo, and I have dabbled with it myself. I know that some of my friends have had great success with it, but personally, I found it too restrictive. I’m a huge legume person (read: will sell my soul for peanut butter on a spoon) and so having that restricted was really unsustainable for me. The biggest part of Paleo that is preached by its diehard fans is that Paleo eating gets people in a Dunkin Donuts world back to real food, and that’s the part of Paleo that I love. I’m a huge real food believer, but for me, real food means something a little bit different than not eating grains or dairy, to me real food means eating grains from a sustainable source that look as much like they did when they were harvested. I think for some people who don’t do well with grey area, it’s easier to follow the Paleo diet because it has a pretty great way of laying everything out that’s really user friendly. The thought behind the Paleo diet is that we weren’t made to digest grains and dairy since eating them is a newer concept, sometimes the Paleo diet can be a great way to diagnose or to rule out lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivities since you’re removing those things and can gauge what happens to your health overall, it’s a great way to tweak your body and see how it best operates.
The Paleo diet doesn’t have room for sugar, which I really dig, considering that I’m pretty sure a bag of the white stuff is actually one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (but maybe I’m mixing my mythologies), but I think that it’s overall a little bit too restrictive to be sustainable for a lot of people, and I have seen people take it the complete opposite direction, “so what, I eat 12 strips of bacon at a time… I’m Paleo!” Moderation is key with any type of eating plan, and with Paleo being a relatively new construct, there is a huge space for user-error, which is why I’d always suggest having a coach or Paleo guru before starting the lifestyle.
“Will I get enough carbs if I eat Paleo?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I would have…. At least enough money to buy 20 of my closest friends a really nice meal out with 2 bottles of wine (which is not Paleo, I might add) a piece. And to all the people who ask me about this, I say, “yes, absolutely, as long as you’re eating truly Paleo, this won’t be something that you have to worry about.” Paleo and something like Atkin’s or the Keto Diet are really different, yes, they focus on getting your energy from fats and protein, but what people forget is the critical difference between pasta carbs and sweet potato carbs, mostly in the amount of processing and the glycemic index differences of these types of foods. The Paleo diet doesn’t restrict carbs that come from vegetables and to some extent fruit, it just asks that you not have donut carbs or pasta carbs, so you have to be a little bit more mindful of what you’re eating, which is super important regardless of how you eat.
My bottom line:
Do I think that Paleo is the best option out there? For some people, I do, but I know that it’s not the best option for me, and probably not for a lot of other people.
Do I think that Paleo is harmful? Probably not, as long as you do it safely, and make sure that you eat enough nutrients, I think it’s way less harmful to your body than Mountain Dew is.
Do I think that Paleo is a fad diet? No more so than any other type of eating, I think that it depends on how you treat it. If you hate being Paleo, are only doing it to lose 20 pounds for your wedding and then never plan to even look at another sweet potato after the vows are exchanged, then yes I think it’s a fad diet, just like I think that being vegetarian or gluten free is a fad diet. Remember, any diet can be a fad diet depending on how you feel about it and how personally sustainable it is for you.
I’d suggest that anyone who’s curious to learn more about their body’s needs and desires try going Paleo for at least 3 months. It’s a great way to get to know yourself better and you might even find that you’re lactose intolerant or have a gluten sensitivity and didn’t even know it!
So what do you think, ever gone Paleo before?
Yup! You read that right! Chocolate cake made out of black beans! What the what?! I'm super cereal you guys! It's fabulous. I made this for my bestie's birthday, she has been working with me and has lost 30 pounds! I am so proud of her for chiseling away to let out the goddess she's got hanging out inside! So for her B-Day I decided to make her this super nutritious chocolate cake. Yum-O!
This recipe is pretty quick and easy and so stinkin' worth it!
A can of black beans, drained and rinsed
5 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup coconut sugar syrup (recipe below)
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit, prep a 9" baking pan with oil and a dusting of cocoa powder (not included in the 6 tablespoons).
*Drain and rinse your beans, I like to wiggle my fingers in the colander to make sure there's not any clumps with bean juice hanging out in there.
* Blend beans with eggs in food processor or blender, until liquefied.
*Mix together all dry ingredients, whisk in wet ingredients, and lastly add the beans and egg mixture to the bowl.
*Beat (I used my whisk) until you get everything super incorporated (2 minutes by hand or 1 minute with a mixer).
*Transfer to prepared pan and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes. The toothpick trick still works to test doneness for this bad boy.
*Let cool for about 20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. It can be a little tricky to get out, so show it some lovin' and wiggle a butter knife around the edge until it releases.
*I waited about an hour to frost.
Per 1/8 of cake:
13.4 g Fat
30.5 g Carbs
9.2 g Protein
Adapted from thevibrantfamily.wordpress.com
Chocolate Avocado Frosting
3 ripe avocados (you should be able to dent the skin with your thumb until light pressure)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, or coconut sugar syrup
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Throw your avocados and coconut oil into the food processor and blend until smooth, whisk the rest of the ingredients in, incorporating as much air as possible.
*Chill until ready to use.
Coconut Sugar Syrup
4 cups coconut sugar
2 cups water
*Bring water to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan.
*Whisk in sugar.
*Whisk vigorously for about 2-3 minutes.
*Reduce heat and allow to simmer until reduced to a dark brown syrup, about ten minutes.
Have you ever had a black bean dessert? Let me know what you think of using beans instead of conventional flours.