Monday, February 10, 2014

Paleo and Happy

photo from: Paleo Pulse

I'm lactose intolerant, have been for a long time.  I don't drink milk or eat yogurt or cows cheese.  I can tolerate sheep and goat cheese, but in small amounts.  I stopped eating dairy last year and it's been fantastic for me and my gut.  I also decided to cut out wheat, flour, processed sugar, bread, pasta and white rice.  Again doing this has made a huge different,  I sleep better, have no gut problems and actually feel amazing.  At 50 I'm in the best shape of my life, mind and body.

The way I eat now is called Paleo.  The Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.  I've been Paleo for almost 6 months and I won't be going back to my old way ever!

I've made the most changes to the way I bake.  I use almond or coconut flour instead of all-purpose flour, coconut oil or grapeseed oil instead of butter or vegetable oil/lard.  And I use agave, honey or dates, instead of processed sugar.  Now you must be thinking...sounds horrible.  But actually the things I bake are wonderfully good and so much better for you.  You'd never know the difference.

There are many websites out there that I use for Paleo dessert recipes, but I think my favorite is Elena's Pantry.  All of her recipes are really good and Paleo.  I just made her Double Chocolate Mocha cookies and her Paleo Brownies.  We are taking them to our friends house tomorrow.  We are having dinner with them and we are bringing the dessert.  I'm not going to tell them they are Paleo, without all the bad stuff until after they are done eating them.  Now, I will have vanilla bean ice cream to go along with them, but sadly I won't be eating any.

Double Chocolate Mocha Cookies - photo by: Elena's Pantry

Paleo Brownies - photo by: Elena's Pantry
Other that changing my baking ingredients moving to Paleo has been very easy.  I make my own almond butter and have it with an apple and fried eggs in the morning.  Dinners are packed with vegetables and a protein.  I don't feel hungry or that I'm missing anything, I actually feel incredible.

I think the main ingredient I wanted to cut out was refined sugar.  It's the devil and so bad for you. Here are 10 things you might not know about refined sugar (source: article on Huffington Post).

1.   Sugar can damage your heart
2.   Sugar specifically promotes belly fat
3.   Sugar is the true silent killer
4.   Sugar may be linked to cancer production and may effect cancer survival
5.   Your sugar "addiction" may be genetic
6.   Sugar and alcohol have similar toxic liver effects on the body
7.   Sugar may sap your brain power
8.   Sugar hides in many everyday "non-sugar" foods
9.   An overload of sugar (specifically in beverages) may shorten your life
10. Sugar is making us fat

Now doesn't all of this make you want to cut out sugar from your diet?  You can click on the Huffington Post link above to read more about the 10 things.  It was a huge eye-opener for me and I'm really glad that I cut it out of my diet.

So if you're thinking of changing the way you eat the Paleo Diet might be for you.  You can check out Elena's Pantry,  Nom Nom Paleo, Pratical Paleo to name just a few.  Try it for 30 days and see if you notice and change....I bet you will.

Photo from: escali.com




Thursday, February 6, 2014

A quick little getaway


On January 24 our good friends Louis and Valarie came for a visit.  They are from Los Angeles, avid climbers and it was their honeymoon.  They spent a few days in Paris before heading down our way. We have had great climbing weather since December 1, but the 8 days they were to be with us the forecast was rain, rain and more rain. Not good for climbers.  So we decided to head south to the Languedoc Roussillon region where there is great climbing and the weather looked perfect.  We rented a great little gite between Nîmes and Uzes which was perfect for the 4 of us.  Of course we had the dogs with us as well.

The first day we climbed at Roussan which was just east of where we were staying.  To get to the climbing area you had to rappel down a huge hole.  Pretty cool.  We had a great day of climbing.  The second day we climbed at Claret which was just west of us.  We love it there.  We cooked dinner together each night and played Quiddler in the evenings, along with drinking plenty of wine.
Louis looking out toward Roussan

Roussan
Here I am rappelling down the big hole to Roussan
Nellie hanging at the crag
Louis climbing

Bruce belaying

On the 3rd day we took a rest day and headed down to Nîimes, which was about 30 minutes south.  I've been to many cities in France and this could be my favorite.  It's not too big, but beautiful.  It's a city that dates back to the Roman Empire.  The city derives its name from that of a spring in the Roman village.  The contemporary coat of arms of the city includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree, which we found most interesting, as it symbolizes the Roman conquest of Egypt .

Looking out over the city of Nîmes 

Walking along the canal

Augustus gave the town a ring of ramparts six kilometres (3.7 miles) long, reinforced by fourteen towers; two gates remain today: the Porta Augusta and the Porte de France. An aqueduct was built to bring water from the hills to the north. Where this crossed the River Gard between Uzes and Remoulins, the spectacular Pont du Gard was built. This is 20 kilometres (12 miles) north east of the city. Also, the Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire. The amazing amphitheatre dates from the end of the 2nd century AD. The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. The movie Gladiator was filmed there and the history and how it was used was fascinating.   It was filled with medieval housing, when its walls served as ramparts, but they were cleared under Napoleon. It is still used today as a bull fighting (humane) and concert arena.  We spent 3-4 hours walking around the city, had a lovely dinner and then headed back to our gite.

Arena of Nîmes

Inside the Arena

Tunnels under Arena

Maison Carrée

Fountain of Gardens

Fountain of Gardens

Temple of Diana

The Magne Tower


The last day we went back to Claret to climb.  It wasn't raining, but it was cold and windy.  We stayed most of the day, but by 3:00 we had to pack it up as we were all freezing.  We left the next morning, but decided to stop in Millau so Valarie could do some shopping.  The city is known for it's leather. She bought some boots and a beautiful handbag.  Bruce got some gloves and I got a new makeup bag. We had lunch in Millau and then headed home.  Louis and Valarie left the next morning and we were sad to have them go.  I know that Bruce and I will be back to the gite and the area sometime soon.


Louis starting a climb and Nellie just hanging out

Bruce climbing at Claret




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If you're a mouse, I'd watch out.

Back in September, we were standing outside at about 10:00 pm.  I heard a faint cry and then it seemed to get louder and louder.  It was coming from across our yard down by the forest.  We live across from Le Forêt de Grésigne (which is the largest oak forest in Europe).  Anyway, we walked around the house and down across the road, Bruce had a flashlight and we could hear the cry, but couldn't see anything.  Then Bruce said "oh my god" and right at the edge of the forest, in a bunch of nettles we saw this little black "thing"....I picked it up and it was a little tiny kitten.  She was so tiny, she fit in the palm of my hand.


Still a bit scared...I don't think she got off the couch and ventured around for 2 weeks.

The man and his cat

After a month with us, she found our bed


We took her back to the house, because we couldn't just leave her outside as she probably would have been eaten by an owl or a fox.  She was shaking and scared when we brought her into the house. I didn't have any cat food and didn't think I should feed her dog food, so all I could give her was milk. She drank it right up.  We got a basket and put a blanket in it and put it in the bathroom with some water.  She cried for quite a while and then fell asleep.

The next morning we took her to the vet because we knew we were going to keep her.  We had talked about getting another cat (we did have Maillot and Mr. Fancypants) - who both found us when we first moved here for our sabbatical in 2009, but we had to find them new homes when we had to return to the states in 2010, as we didn't know if we would be coming back to France and we didn't think it was fair to take them back to Los Angeles.  They were wild cats, roaming around all day and being in Los Angeles would be very different.  Lately we've been hearing mice in the walls and seeing droppings in the pantry (luckily we keep the door closed).  I tried to trap with a "safe" trap, but they never fell for it.

The vet told us the little kitten was about 3-4 weeks old.  Taken way too soon from her Mother.  I'm sure someone just dumped her (very common here), as we never saw a Mama cat.  We named her Colette, because she's all black and our little hamlet of 3 houses were homes of the charbonniers, who made charcoal from wood in the Forest back in the 1800's.  So, if she would have been a boy her name would have been Cole, but since she's a girl, we named her Colette.

She's a lovely little girl - now almost 5 months old.  She's easy, loving (not too needy) and independent (but not too independent), loves her Momma AND, she a huntress.  She goes out first thing in the morning and within an hour she's either got a mouse or a little mole.  She usually tortures it right in front of our glass door, I have to look away as it seems so cruel.  But last night...oh last night.  She sleeps in the house at night, not in our bedroom, usually in her basket in the living room.  Last night I got up at 3:00 am to use the bathroom and there she was, right by my feet.  She scared me, as I didn't turn on the light and didn't know she was there.  Then she started darting around the toilet and I went and turned the light on.  Behind the toilet was a big fat mouse - who was about to have a very bad night.  I couldn't do anything about it, so I just went back to bed.  Bruce got up to go to the bathroom after me (I guess I woke him up), and I said "Colette has a mouse in the bathroom", but that was all I said and we didn't talk about it when he came back into bed.   So, this morning we went into the bathroom and didn't see a mouse, we looked around the house and no mouse, nothing (not a head or tail or liver or kidney).  Then about 1/2 hour later I went to take a shower. I looked in and what did I see - a liver or kidney and blood....in the shower!  Yuck.  But...yay. She got the mouse that had been in the pantry.  She's earning her keep for sure.

Tired girl after mouse hunting

See the little mole on the ground?????


Then I cleaned the shower.