Eat Like A Dinosaur Review

Matt and Stacy chow down on some crab before the presentation

I mentioned Eat Like A Dinosaur by The Paleo Parents, Stacy and Matt, three posts ago and the post before that.  My blogger friends were in an uproar about a month before the cookbook was released.  By uproar, I mean Olympic style cheering.  I could not wait to get my hands on it.  Then, in the midst of discussing our gluten-free retreat with fellow blogger friends, our host, Shirley (gluten-free easily), told us that Stacy and Matt would be the special guests at her King George Gluten Intolerance Group that weekend.  I was already excited that I was going to get a peek into what a good support group runs like for people like us.  I do not attend the Celiac Support Group here in town because through email interactions I came to the conclusion that the leader and some members would not be a good support for me.   So, add the fact that Stacy and Matt would be there and my excitement doubled.  

They never would have known my excitement though.  I try to play it cool when in the presence of greatness.  Oh, Steve Perry just held the door open for my best friend’s mom on our way in the diner for breakfast?  No biggie.  I’m 3 seats away from the stage that Jason Scott Lee is performing on and the stage ends at the first row?  Happens every day.   Lea Salonga is on stage playing Eponine?  Puh-leeeze.  Okay, that one I admit my friend and I were grabbing each others hands and swatting each other with excitement when she made her entrance.  Big theater.  Darkness.  No one saw but my friend’s family and another friend we were with (who made sure we sat next to each other knowing what our reaction would be).  Come on, it was Lea Salonga.  You would’ve done the same thing.  Right?  

Paleo Brownies made by The Paleo Parents. We couldn’t stop eating them.

Matt and Stacy arrived at Shirley’s house with their 3 adorable boys while Heather and I were out for a walk.  By adorable I mean, they are the cutest darn kids even when they aren’t happy and are letting you know it.  We got to nibble on the sides of the Samoa Brownies they brought as Stacy was cutting them up.  We really tore into them at the picnic.  

Stacy did the talking during the presentation while Matt watched over the kids.  It didn’t stop Finian from coming over and letting Stacy know he wasn’t happy about something.  I think he had something in his shoe.  She mirrored his tone without skipping a beat and asked, “What are we going to do about it?”  This was where I really fell in love with their parenting.  I worked with so many kids in my years pre-mental health work and during mental health career.  I witnessed some spectacularly poor parenting skills.  I still see a lot of it working in retail now.  There was no scolding that he interrupted her presentation.  No yelling.  No telling him to go find his dad or to go away.  She simply acknowledged that his problem was important and cued him to problem solve on his own.  That simple exchange stuck with me (in case you couldn’t already tell).  Maybe it’s because I used that same technique on so many kids throughout the years and it was a joy to see a parent actually using it.  

Anytime Cookies from Eat Like a Dinosaur that a group member brought to the picnic

Stacy shared their oldest son’s story.  Never mind the fact that she and Matt lost a combined 200 plus pounds together simply by changing what they ate.  Taking out the processed and refined foods and eating only whole foods.  Cole is the star of the family’s change.  He went from having behavioral problems in pre-school, which included talk of being kicked out of the school, to being a star pupil.  Again, this is all from making a shift in what he was eating.  

I can’t tell you how much I would have loved to have been able to suggest eating habit changes to my former clients and their parents.  If it meant not having to go into school meetings with teachers and administrators and reminding them that my client is too young for an ADHD diagnosis and medication.  Seriously, pre-school teachers wanted my 4-year-old (at the time) client on Ritalin.  Now, a diet change wouldn’t have helped change everything for the little guy.  He suffered from PTSD, having been abused and neglected (along with his siblings) by his parents.  Nor would it have for all the other kids I worked with, but I can’t help but think how much it might have helped them to cut out all the processed junk they were all eating.  Working with the teens in the group home my last year of that job, I was actually able to help start them making better choices in what food they chose when I was the one taking them to the grocery store.

Teriyaki Beef Jerky

Oh my, I’ve gone on and on and I haven’t even gotten to the best part.  Eat Like A Dinosaur.    If you clicked on the link above from three posts ago, you’ll see some of the food I made from the cookbook up until then.  Since then, I’ve also made the Black Olive Tapenade, which was wonderful but I accidentally deleted the picture thinking I was only deleting thunderstorm pictures I was taking in an attempt to get a shot of lightning (the things we do when playing with our cameras).  

It may not seem exciting to you, but I finally used my dehydrator!  I made kale chips first.  Not using the recipe from the book, but my own inspired by the book.  I also made their fantastic Teriyaki Beef Jerky.  It was giving me ideas just putting it in the dehydrator.  Once the beef jerky is gone, I’m going to experiment with the idea.  I love being inspired by good recipes! 

50/50 Burger for Hamburger Salad

I made the 50/50 Burgers last week.  After finally reading Eat Like A Dinosaur, I learned that Elana’s boys love them.  How do I know that?  She wrote the Forward for the cookbook!   Instead of putting the burgers between a bun, I used it as the hamburger patty for my Hamburger Salad.  I now know why they are a favorite.  Bacon just makes everything better!  Plus, I love that the recipe calls for cumin.  I always put cumin in my burgers.  They just taste better with cumin.  

While Eat Like A Dinosaur is geared for families with children, you don’t have to have children to enjoy the cookbook.  I meet so many people who don’t know how to cook or don’t like to cook.  Anyone can learn to cook with the recipes in this cookbook.  There are Post-It-like notes on the recipes and an easy key for what major allergens are used in the recipe.  Since this is a paleo cookbook, there is no dairy, grains, or legumes used in the recipes.  There are tips on how to get your young children involved in helping and the recipes are easy to follow and would be easy for them to use as they get older and can start cooking on their own or with supervision.  There is also a big section of hints in the back of the book.  Reframing school lunches and getting you to think outside the brown paper bag.  Making your own fruit and nut bars.  Making dinners that are fun and different.  Hitting yard sales and thrift stores for things like kitchen gadgets (if you have food allergies or intolerences, there are some kitchen items you should not be buying second-hand).  Gardening and picking your own produce from farms in that business.  

The best part of Eat Like A Dinosaur is Cole’s story told from his point of view as a children’s book.  Totally worth it it just for that part alone.  

According to Shirley and Heather, I make faces like this when trying something new before declaring it to be amazing. It’s better than the face I made when I tried natto for the first and last time. (Photo credit: Shirley Braden)

I met an amazing family and some pretty amazing support group members.  See that woman in the picture with me?  That’s Teri.  She just started her own blog Real Food Geek.  Check her out.  She has a pretty amazing story!  I enjoyed talking with her at the picnic and can’t wait to see more posts from her.  

What?  You haven’t ordered Eat Like A Dinosaur yet?  

GET ON IT!

Ginger Spread

Homemade Ginger Spread

I had last weekend off.  This is a rare occurrence.  I was not scheduled for Saturday and for some reason I asked for Sunday off.  I have no clue why I asked for it off or if I was supposed to go somewhere.  If I was, oh well.

Chaz decided he wanted to go Jungle Jim’s on Saturday.  It is well established that we should never go to Jungle Jim’s together.  I end up stocking up on Tinkyada brown rice pastas.  Since we only use pasta every other week and we only go to Jungle Jim’s every few months, it’s usually necessary.   I found some good French wines I wanted to try along with some green mango (to soak in gluten-free shoyu – soy sauce for you Mainlanders) and green papaya (Chicken Papaya anyone?), and I looked for So Delicious dairy-free Greek yogurts.  I can’t even remember what Chaz got.  Bad wife?  No, I was on a mission after he told me where we were going.

Chaz found a jar of Ginger Spread while I was contemplating nut butters and deciding I just need to make my own.  If you’ve been following me on Instagram, I posted a picture of it and sent it to Twitter and my personal Facebook.  The spread is “for serious ginger lovers.”  I’m a serious ginger lover.  The majority of the Filipino dishes/soups I grew up loving contain ginger.  Just one slice of ginger can put something over the top.  Then there is the use of mostly just ginger when I get sick.  I boil it in water and let it steep.  I’ll then use that to make green tea or just drink it like that.  Ginger is my best friend in the kitchen some days.  I like to add it to juices and smoothies.  One of our fellow Aikidoka and friends opened up a restaurant (Yang-Kee Noodle) with some partners when we were in Louisville and still active in Aikido (and I was still pre-diagnosis).  They ran some tastings before opening to refine the recipes and we were lucky enough to be invited to one.  My favorite was the Ginger Chicken.  It was so full of ginger my mouth was on fire and I loved it.  I may not like the heat of hot peppers a lot, but I do love the fire of ginger, Chinese hot mustard, and wasabi.   They wound up reducing the amount of ginger in the final recipe because most of their customers would not be accustomed to that much ginger.  It was still good, just not as good as that first time to me.  I stopped eating there once I was gluten-free, but we always try to stop by when we are in town to see if our friend is working to say hi.

We looked all over that jar of Ginger Spread three to four times before we found the ingredient list.  Small print on the lid.  Seriously.  Ingredient lists should be more prominent.  I thought I was going crazy while I was looking for it.  I decided I could make it easily (and for cheaper) once I saw the ingredients.

My first attempt at making this involved grating the ginger on my ginger grater.  The result was good, but stringy.  The second attempt is my favorite.

Ginger Spread

5/8 cup ginger juice (I ran one entire giant root through my juicer)

1/4 cup raw local honey (or sweetener of your choice)

Place juice and honey in a small saucepan over low heat.  Vent a cover over the saucepan and allow to come to a boil.  Do not stir until the spread starts to thicken.  If you stir too soon, you will end up with clumps.  Take the pan off the heat once the spread is thick and reduced slightly.  Allow it to cool.

Now that you have Ginger Spread, what do you use it on or in?  I’ve been using it in my whole juices and just throwing some into the Vitamix along with the fruits and vegetables.  I also forgot to add ginger to something I made the other night.  How could I forget, right?  I know, I was kicking myself, too.  So, I used some of the spread.  It wasn’t the same, but it was a good sub in a pinch.  After taking the above picture and then pouring the spread into a container I was tempted to just pour some vodka or spiced rum in that martini glass.  I refrained, but I have no doubt that just a little of the spread would make a great addition to a cocktail.  I think it would make a great sauce for cocktail shrimp or Raw Veggie Spring Rolls.

Chocolate Ginger Chia Pudding

I decided it would also make a great addition to chia pudding.  I was inspired by my friend Johnna and her Chia Pudding in a Jar.  I’ve only made my chia pudding in a jar since she posted that recipe.  It’s just so flipping easy to do.  You could make this in a bowl or something and just make sure you stir it up every once in a while as it sets.  It’s not as fun as shaking the bejeebers out of a mason jar though.

Chocolate Ginger Chia Pudding

1 1/2 cups dairy-free milk

6 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

2 – 4 teaspoons Ginger Spread

sweetener of choice (optional)

Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake vigorously.  Give the jar a shake every time you open the fridge for something.  It will be set in about 4 hours.

The Power of Assertiveness In Conflict

Do you contribute to a growing fire or help put it out in a conflict?

It’s taken me many years of practice to feel like I can properly assert myself when I feel people are trying to bully or steamroll me.  I was pretty passive in my younger years.  So passive that I would stuff everything and then when I hit a breaking point, I’d explode.  My instinct is to be aggressive.  To lash out with my fist.  Thankfully, the only person I ever hit with the intention to do harm was a boy on the playground in 2nd grade.  He was mouthing off about boys being stronger than girls.  I told him I bet I could give him a bloody nose.  I think he regretted taking that bet.  I ran back to my classroom as he was screaming covering up the blood that was flowing.  I feared getting in trouble.  Little did I understand at that point that no boy wants to admit that a girl gave him a bloody nose.

When it comes to aggression, visions of it stay in my head as I seek out another more healthy physical activity to push the adrenaline through.  I know there is no win in hitting anyone even if I desperately want to.

One of the biggest turning points in my assertiveness was years ago when I was supervising a unit of 8 kids and some staff.  One of the staff decided he didn’t want to work the extra shifts he signed up for and tried to get me to let him out of them.  I told him what he needed to do and he didn’t like it.  The next time he approached me, he tried bringing one of the kids into it.  I wound up sending the kid away and repeating what I already told him.  He tried the tactic of telling me he was going to tell my supervisor.  To which I told him it was okay to do that because the direction of how to handle filling extra shifts you signed up for and changed your mind on came from him.  The next and last confrontation happened in a very bullying manner in which he blocked the door to the staff office as I was trying to leave.  I should point out here that he was twice my size.  A clear attempt to intimidate me.  Then he tells me I have a power/control personality.  Say what?  I was pissed at this point since Chaz was in the car in the parking lot waiting for me.  I still remember exactly what I said.  “I do not have a power/control personality, but I will assert myself when I need to.  Now get out of my way.  My husband is waiting for me outside.”

The key for me in working through emotions that have me worked up is to take time.  I cannot talk to people about what I’m feeling when I’m in the moment.  If someone tries  to push, I shut down.  Completely.  Then we can add resentment to whatever emotions I’m already feeling.  I need time to work things through in my head.  To be able to form what I need to say in the right way that will express how I feel without trampling on anyone.  I am a writer and I express myself best when I can write what I feel.  The real world doesn’t always work that way and I have to express myself verbally with most people, so I choose my words very carefully.  I do not want to end up saying something I will regret or saying something that will get my emotions all worked up again.  I do not like reacting at all.  It is why even when I blog about sensitive topics of the day, I wait.  I chew on it and work it through so emotions don’t rule what I’m saying.

My ability to do this successfully is dependent on the other person (or people) allowing me that time I need.  Not everyone will do it.  It took Chaz a few years to really get it.  But, he knows now that if we’re disagreeing and I start to get emotional he has to leave me alone and check in with me later to see if I’m ready to talk.

So it was that someone pushed me yesterday to my breaking point.  I was already upset and he was one of the contributing factors to it.  Not only did he come at me like I was the problem and telling me I wasn’t being an adult (just because I mumbled “yeah” when he said thank you for something), he had the nerve to tell me I was jumping down his throat for that one small interaction.  Talk about blowing things out of proportion.  I told him I really wasn’t ready to hear what he had to say or to continue our conversation, especially after pointing out all of his contradictions rather calmly (despite the roiling boil going on inside me).  He just would not shut up and he wouldn’t stop lying.  If I wasn’t already emotional at that point, I would have pointed out the lies.  But I would have come off too snarky.  I was trying to just stay calm and not completely lose it.  As he kept yapping and not listening, I finally walked off in tears.

I had to talk to talk to two other people after that, but it was more about everything that contributed to my anger and frustration.  I couldn’t even address the confrontation. I was still too emotional about it.

I was able to process once I was away from the entire situation and completely calm.  I’m still mad at the guy, but I was proud of myself for asserting myself.  He started coming off to me like a bully when he first approached me and I didn’t let him.  I didn’t let him turn me into the bad guy.  I didn’t completely shut down even if that was what I wanted to.  And I didn’t punch him in the face even if it would have given me satisfaction for one second.

My tips for being assertive are:  1) Take time to get your emotions under control and your thoughts together.  It’s okay to tell the other person that you aren’t ready yet.  2) Remain calm while talking and if you start getting worked up, it’s okay to say you need to come back to it later.  3) Use “I” messages to communicate your feelings.  “I was upset when you weren’t listening.”  It puts the emphasis on your feelings while not attacking the other person and yet letting them know that what they did was not okay with you.  4) Don’t accept an apology that you aren’t ready to accept or that you feel is disingenuous.  It lets the other person off the hook for true accountability.  I have had no problem telling someone I don’t accept their apology if I feel they are insincere or I’m not ready to accept it.  A real apology comes from a person who is truly sorry for their actions and is willing to take total responsibility and is received from someone who is ready to forgive and move on.  And for goodness sakes, an apology that comes with excuses is NOT an apology.

If you are the person who has upset someone else: 1) Respect the other person’s wishes.  If they ask to be left alone, leave them alone.  If the tables were turned you’d want your boundaries to be respected, too.  2) When you do talk, listen.  Truly listen.  Don’t start talking about yourself and how you understand.  It all turns into Peanuts adults to the other person.  If you are talking about yourself, you aren’t acknowledging the other person’s feelings and the impact you had on them.   Keep the discussion focused on them and their feelings.  3) Stay solution focused as in asking what they think you might be able to do to help prevent the situation from happening in the future or how they would like you to respond should something similar happen in the future.  4) When you apologize, acknowledge what you did and how it affected the other person (I’m sorry I didn’t respect your boundaries and that it upset you when I did that) and make sure you are sincere.  If you aren’t going to be sincere, don’t waste your breath or the other person’s time.  5) Don’t expect everything to be all hunky dory once you apologize.  Feelings were hurt and like physical injuries, they need time to heal.

Conflicts don’t have to be big blow up or reality TV drama.  We can handle it like adults without screaming, yelling, punching.  All you have to do is choose to handle things the right way respectfully.