When I began working at Feed Your Vitality, I was a little concerned that Ashley would insist I adapt a paleo lifestyle (and immediately came to realize, that is so not Ashley’s style!) And as I worked here longer, and learned more about the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet, the idea of attempting a 30 day challenge was intriguing, but scary. Almost everything I ate was bread, waffles and cereal; pretzels (every kind you can think of!) were pretty much their own category in my personal food pyramid. A 30 day Paleo or some other type of diet/lifestyle modification with a strict set of rules and a goal at the end of cleansing your system, or detoxing from unhealthy habits sounded great for other people but I doubted I could do it myself. However when a couple of co-workers decided to take the Paleo Challenge recently, I decided it was time to get off the sidelines and jump in the game.
We quickly realized a few key things…having each other as support is key. We set up a group text and encourage / occasionally shame each other with pictures of when we are choosing wisely, and pictures of when we are being tempted. Now you would think (and you would be correct!) that working at a Paleo delivery food company is a pretty ideal place to be working when going through a Paleo challenge! We have the opportunity to eat the delicious meals that have already been prepared and that we KNOW are within the guidelines of no dairy, no wheat, etc. And let’s face it, no one is going to come in here and put a doughnut on my desk that would tempt me! BUT outside the nurturing shelter of the Feed Your Vitality space is a big world filled with lots of other distractions, meals to prepare for family members, and fun social events packed with not-paleo-approved food (Trivia Night, anyone?)
So we learned it is also helpful to be organized with your food options. We have all found it helpful to keep some Paleo meals from Feed Your Vitality at home for dinners. Snacks are another important element to have thought out and on hand to avoid slipping. Nuts are a great option for snacking, as is fresh fruit, vegetables and a slice of your favorite lunch meat. It is gratifying when you can find a “legal” option for the food you are craving. What sounded totally unappealing at the beginning – unsweetened applesauce – is now actually something I find myself looking forward to, especially sprinkled with cinnamon. Surprisingly, that really does seem to satisfy me when I think I want something “sweet”.
Speaking of sweet, Ann here in the office surprised us today with a yummy treat to start off our work week….we are about half way through our challenge and are going to celebrate! You truly cannot believe that something this delicious is made with all paleo ingredients. My picture does not do it justice!
(Ann found this recipe in Health Magazine, March 2015, and was inspired to try it, and we are reviewing it with 5 stars and thumbs up from all!)
THE ULTIMATE UNBAKED BROWNIE
Prep: 15 minutes
Chill: 2 hours
Yield: 16 brownies
2 1/2 cups loosely packed pitted dates
1 1/2 cups walnuts (can substitute unsweetened coconut flakes if you don’t want nuts!)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
- Combine dates, walnuts, 6 Tbsp cacao powder, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp water and salt in a food processor. Process until completely smooth.
- Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish, or line dish with parchment or waxed paper. Transfer dough to dish. Press dough very firmly into dish with your hands until dough is evenly distributed.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup cacao powder, remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla, maple syrup and oil. Stir until mixture forms a paste (this is the frosting). Spread paste evenly over dough in baking dish. Refrigerate brownies for at least 2 hours to set, then cut into squares.
Refrigerate any leftovers in a covered container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.