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Five Weeks on Paleo and the Inflammation is Gone! But, is it all it’s Cracked up to Be?

On a beach in Corfu, Greece

Hey folks! It’s been about five weeks on paleo. I’ve been pretty darn compliant, except when I went to Italy for about 10 days. I admit to having pasta two times (I mean, there is no way I’m going to Italy and not having their pasta) and I was terribly queasy on the ship, so I also had some small scoops of rice occasionally, but overall, I’ve tried to stick to the program all the rest of the time. I would say I’ve been 90% compliant and now a week home and pretty close to 100%.

I have good news. The inflammation around my L4/L5 herniations is gone. I was suffering from sciatica and that has ceased. Not eating dairy, breads, white flour and tons of sugar I truly believe has been the guiding factor here.

Zucchini Carrot Bread made with almond and coconut flour

Bad news? I feel like I’m still suffering from “carb flu.” You know, headaches, lack of energy, being exhausted all the time. At the same time, I’ve lost 4 lbs. I’m not sure if it’s from actually not eating enough, or being seasick on the ship. I think I’ll know more in a few weeks.

I “think” I’m seeing a turning point. I did sleep well last night and I did get up energized enough this morning to go for a 1.5 mile SLOW jog and do 100 sit-ups. Baby steps for me, but I’ll take it. Will continue with the plan because with inflammation causing so much pain, I’m very happy to be able to drop something on the floor and bend down and pick it up without an issue. I used to drop my sock on the floor and just cry… thinking “it was so far away.”

Just astounding tile work at the Ruins of Nora in Cagliari.

As you know, I love to cook and be accountable, so I made an instagram account of paleo recipes I’ve tried. Feel free to follow me there at @paleoinspired_

Love to hear if you have any issues with this, what you think and if it’s the “be all, end all.” I’m still working that out.

P.S. That zucchini bread above looked great – but what a strange texture. Hence, no recipe. Still playing around with recipes. Please feel free to share any recipes for baked goods that actually taste good. I did make a cherry pie with almond flour that went over really well. 🙂

The Surprising Thing People Like on my Pinterest Boards

This is just a sort of funny post this week about what I think is interesting and what others actually think is interesting. I love Pinterest and have 38 different boards. It’s a great place for me to put all my writing efforts, boards for my books and then the multitude of other things that interest me greatly – most of which have to do with food, inspiration, holiday inspired food, clothes, food for my favorite book characters, magical and haunted places, and more food (see a pattern here?)

Ham & Dill Pickle Appetizer Bites

Ham & Dill Pickle Appetizer Bites

But what has been the single number one pin that has been getting a lot of repins and likes recently? This one appetizer I pinned once. And yes, it has to do with food and no, I haven’t made it yet, but plan to! Easy Ham and Dill Pickle Appetizer Bites. To be honest, at first I wasn’t so sure it would be good. I mean, it’s just ham, cream cheese and a dill pickle. It seemed “too easy” but I’ve read the reviews about it and people seem to love it. What do you think? Would you make it? Here is a link to the pin, which will link you to the recipe if you’d like to try it! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/76139049921284996/

If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please come here and check out my boards. https://www.pinterest.com/elysesalpeter/

Do you use Pinterest? And, if so, what do you use it for? I’d love to hear how it works for you.

A Healthy Halloween

Come on, even kids will eat this spooky snack!

Come on, even kids will eat this spooky snack!

Just the title of my blog post “A Healthy Halloween” sort of sounds sad, doesn’t it? I can hear people whining already,”What do you mean a healthy Halloween? No chocolate? No gummies? No high fructose corn syrup? What the heck are you doing to me, lady?” Work with me here. I’ve got some ideas for a Halloween Party where your guests will love the food and won’t be leaving with a stomach laden with artificial flavors and fifty ingredient fillers that they can’t even pronounce.
How fun is this?

How fun is this?

So, I started thinking… if I WERE to throw a healthy Halloween Party, or serve my kids fun spooky food, what would I serve? Here were some photos of super cool things I found on Pinterest that I think would be a hit for all age groups. While buckets of chocolates are cool, there are ways to integrate healthier food alternatives. Your guests won’t have any idea you just made a healthier choice for them. They’ll just think the food is “super spooky cool.”

Spaghetti as brains!

Spaghetti as brains!

Guacamole Brains via Cauliflower bowl

Guacamole Brains via Cauliflower bowl

I was also looking at a site called nuts.com and they have a host of foods as alternatives for the run-of-the-mill candy selection that Halloween is known for. Check out their site for some cool organic candies… I didn’t even know Gummy Bears could be organic! They also have gluten free, too!

A scary take on chocolate covered strawberries

A scary take on chocolate covered strawberries

I have so many ideas of foods I want to make. I’d make them for my kids but they’re suddenly “too cool” for this any longer. I swear, in 20 years they’ll look back and wish they’d let me do these things.
A new take on Deviled Eggs!

A new take on Deviled Eggs!

And for those of you who want to throw a Halloween Party with other cool ideas – here’s the entire pinterest page for you too look at. Seriously, I’ve been itching to throw one. I mean, we know how much I like horror books! Sigh, one day… https://www.pinterest.com/elysesalpeter/halloween-themed-food-ideas/

Make one Tiny Change for Big Results…

changeChange is hard for most people. We get stuck in our ways and prefer to be comfortable. It’s easier to sit on a couch and eat chips than it is to take a jog outside and grab an apple instead. It’s hard to change a career later in life for fear of failure. It’s hard to talk to someone about how you really feel, just letting everything sit in your gut instead, so you don’t have to deal with confrontation. It’s hard to reach out to ask someone for their help, for fear of rejection.

But if we don’t change certain things in our lives, then our bad habits, or simply habits, will control us and bring us down.

Food: I realize I’m addicted to sugar. Just love it. On my yogurt, in my cereal, candy bars, and when I drink coffee, three heaping tablespoons is my preferred amount of sugar inducing coma. Well, my family is riddled with diabetes. I realize I am also not feeling so great these days and while a blood test said I’m totally fine, I think I need to get this addiction under control. I switched to artificial sweetener in my coffee, but honestly, that’s worse for me than sugar. It’s like putting cardboard or poison or plastic into my system on a daily basis and guess what? I still don’t feel well. So, I made a tiny change just a few days ago. Did you know that cinnamon is a sweetener at its core? I am a coffee snob and at first refused to try it, but then realized I love Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Soy Lattes and the Cinnamon Dolce isn’t bad (NOTE: they are FULL OF SUGAR so of course I love them). But, now every morning in my coffee I use just one teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle Cinnamon into it and while it is not nearly as sweet as I normally crave, it’s completely acceptable. (I wonder if a Cinnamon stick would be good, too? Hmmm) Not to mention Cinnamon is used to help treat muscle spasms, vomiting, diarrhea, infections, the common cold, loss of appetite, and may lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes UK.

Jobs: I changed my job six weeks ago. I am learning things that I never learned before, lingo that I’ve never heard, getting eye rolls from people younger than me when I ask a question that seems like a no brainer. Sigh… luckily I catch on quick and most times you only have to tell me the answer once! But the fact is, I had to change what I was previously doing in order to learn something new in my field. I had to make this change to continue to be relevant in my industry. (I’m in publishing advertising sales by the way) It was scary. It IS scary. I want to know everything right now. I want to be successful right now. But the last thing I want to do in this life is say I didn’t try.

Promotions: We all know I write. I have been building my “critical mass” (fancy shmancy word for social media fan base) and have done all the necessary things. But something I need to do is get blurbs for my book cover The Hunt for Xanadu. I just got up the guts to ask a very well-known author for a blurb. There is a very good chance he will ignore me or say no. He writes in my genre and we “casually” know each other, meaning I’ve met him multiple times and he’s responded to my emails. In fact, he has the book. I mailed it to him two years ago because we’d met and I was supposed to also send him something else, so I put my book in here. But I never got the guts to ask him if he would do a blurb. I guess I’m afraid he’ll reject me, read the novel and dislike it, or just not talk to me any more out of embarrassment. It could be any number of things. The fact is, if I don’t ask, I’ll never give myself the luxury of ever hearing a “yes.” P.S. I asked him three days ago – haven’t heard a peep yet.

So, making tiny changes. I know it’s not New Year’s and it’s September, but there’s no better time than the present to make a change for the better. Think of one thing you can do that is outside your norm and try it. One thing to change your life in just a teeny way. Love to hear what you come up with.

Halloween Food Ideas – the Party that isn’t Happening

Guacamole vomiting pumpkin

Guacamole vomiting pumpkin

One of my favorite holidays is Halloween. I’ve been waiting for my kids to get old enough to finally throw a real party. You know, the spooky kind where I transform the entire downstairs of the house into a dark nightmare with great themed music and put out crazy food. Playing a scary movie like The Purge or The Exorcist in the background. Where they can dress up and be creative. I’ve been collecting Pinterest ideas all year long and now I’m ready.

But, you know who isn’t ready? MY KIDS! My pre-teens have decided that it’s “not cool” and they don’t want me to throw a party. I’m stunned. Disappointed. Bummed. Crushed. You name it. One of the greatest joys of parenthood is the opportunity to act like a kid again. Trust me, when they wanted to play with Barbies, I was all in! When they wanted a tea party, I sat on that little chair and sipped water out of plastic cups and pretended to eat fake cake. When they wanted to play legos for hours, the real geek in me showed up and I eagerly sat on the floor with them.

beef jerky scabs

beef jerky scabs

But now this? No Halloween party? Sadly, this year, I guess not. But, for those of you who are interested, here is the link to the Pinterest Halloween Food ideas if you’re in need of your own great, disgusting and/or fun ideas. The meatloaf baby, the vomiting pumpkin, Jell-O worms made with straws and the bowl of beef jerky scabs are some of my favorites. Oooh, don’t forget using Nori sushi strips for Zombie skin, too! http://www.pinterest.com/elysesalpeter/halloween-themed-food-ideas/

So, to curb my disappointment, I’ve decided instead to decorate the entire front of my house. We do this every year and the kids “don’t seem to mind.” But, since they’re not letting me have a party, I think I’m going to take it to the next level and add some really cool sound and mist machines and really go all out. Ha! And they think they can stop me!

For those of you who love Halloween, keep your eyes out for my new horror tale, THE MANNEQUINS, which will be out this month. It’s about a film crew that gets stuck in an abandoned house and become prisoners in an alternate reality run by a madman I call the Preacher. The Mannequins Final This is a pretty cool cover and I think my cover artist did a really great job!

So, what are YOU doing for Halloween this year? I’d love to hear and live vicariously through you. My hope is that next year the kids think it will be “cooler” and then I can really party. Until then, eat lots of chocolate, scare a few kids (though not the cute little three year old princesses) and have a safe holiday!

Twitter: Why it Does More Than Simply Sell Books

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Come follow me @elysesalpeter

Today’s blog is about the power of twitter. Many writer’s only media platforms include using Twitter and Facebook to promote their books. I never see them talking to people, just at people, and I think that’s a huge mistake and missed opportunity. These same authors get frustrated when they don’t get a lot of sales with this strategy and they come to the conclusion that “twitter really doesn’t help with book sales, at all.” I tend to agree, to a point. I believe twitter offers writers amazing exposure and I believe it holds the key to so much more that they haven’t even explored yet. Here’s some interesting things I do with twitter that have nothing to do with me just posting a “read my book” link.

#1) WRITING GAMES: On Fridays there is this awesome cool hashtag called #FP, which stands for Friday Phrases. What you do is simply type that hashtag in the tweet and WRITE a short story all in that same tweet. It is so much fun and offers a lovely way to get the creative juices flowing. And you’ll read other great entries and you can comment on them, building some cool relationships. Authors love nothing more than feedback and they appreciate it so much when you comment. Here are the two I offered this week:

#FP The child pulled her Grandpa along. “Just a little further Papa.” She led him to an open grave. He shook at her next words. “We’re home.”

“What’re you chewing?” I asked my 3 yr old.” “Orange gummies.” He licked his lips. “Mommy!” My 10 yr old cried. “Where’s my goldfish?” #FP

What’s great is that if people following the thread like it, they comment, you get retweeted and you might gain some new followers, too! Super fun. If you’d like to learn more about Friday Phrases, click here: http://fridayphrases.com/

#2) REVIEWS: This is harder, and more time consuming, but I look at all the threads and see the reviews that bloggers do. If I think they tend to review books like mine, I’ll start my research. I will follow them, then go to their webpages and start the process of writing them an email to see if they’d like to review one of my books. While time-consuming, it’s a great way to reach people I never would have met before and get an honest review from someone validated.

#3) FOOD: I love to talk about food. I wanted to do something different once for the holidays and the most amazing thing happened when I posted “Help, I need suggestions.” There are people from ALL OVER THE GLOBE on twitter and one woman told me her grandma’s recipe for a holiday dish called “Lobio,” which is Georgian Green Beans in Walnut Sauce. I made it for Passover and it was SO GOOD. Here’s the recipe to serve 6:

Ingredients

2 pounds fresh green beans cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound light-skinned walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 cup vegetable stock
salt

Directions

1. Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the green beans, return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to set the color and stop the cooking. Reserve.
2. Place the walnuts and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and puree to a paste. Transfer to a medium-size bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, and vegetable stock and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt. Reserve.
3. Arrange the green beans on a serving platter. Drizzle decoratively with the walnut sauce and garnish with additional paprika for color.

#4) SLANG: In one of my books, there is an older gentlemen from the UK. I have been researching British slang and including it in the book. I then appealed to my #UK tweeps and started asking questions such as “Can my character say Gawd Blimey and Bloody Hell?” Or “What does Stone the Crows” mean? I can’t tell you how many people chimed in with what are BETTER ways to say what I’m trying to get across. How some of my phrases were just regional or simply not used any longer. What an amazing resource these people were and I never would have gotten these honest answers in a quicker fashion. I can read as many internet British Slang sites as I want, but when I have someone living there, right now, telling me “how it really is” – that is invaluable.

#5) INTERVIEWS: I had an author interview right on twitter! How crazy is that? #writerskaboodle will help you do an author interview and for 1/2 hour straight people come on, along with the moderator, and ask questions about you and your books. What a great way to answer your reader’s questions, live, via tweets.

#6) COMMUNITY: That’s right. Community – this wonderful world is all about people engaging with each other. This morning I posted about how I had no idea what to post for my blog today. Within minutes, people from all over the globe offered suggestions and I realized, “OMG, twitter really isn’t all about selling my books,” it’s about building a community of like-minded friends who can all engage and help each other.

So, my advice to writers is get out of the mindset that you are only using twitter to hustle your books. Have fun with it. Engage your followers. Ask questions that you really want the answers to. You will be surprised at how much more you get out of this wonderful resource.

If any of you use twitter differently, I’d love to know! And please come on over and follow me at http://www.twitter.com/elysesalpeter

Can Getting Rid of Gluten and Dairy Get me Back to Bootcamp?

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Climbing a Rope at Bootcamp

Besides the fact that I love to write (I mean, who doesn’t know at this point that I do?) What people may not know is that I love exercising. I absolutely adore it, but I haven’t been able to do it in over a year. October, 2012, I had been in a Bootcamp class. I’m talking “hardcore stuff.” Now, I won’t compare what I was doing for an hour with what Marines do day in and day out in their military training, but the Marines who taught us told us that it was close.

Oh, how I loved that class. I love it so much I got up at 5:30 am to get to a 6:00 am class, three to four times a week, where the Marines would “lovingly” yell at me, put me through exercises, make me climb ropes, run laps, lift tires, etc, for a full hour. When class was done, I was a disgusting, sweaty, smelly mess (along with the other fifteen insane people with me), but I felt incredible and I thought I was looking great.

But then I got hurt. In one class, I was doing jumping jacks holding a heavy bar, and thinking I was fine… when suddenly I wasn’t. Something “sort of snapped” in my back. I remember slowly falling to the floor and getting numb. I thought maybe I just twisted wrong (the numbness was my body’s way of keeping me ignorant to what had really happened.) I tried to continue the class but couldn’t and as the day progressed, I was basically crippled. After all the subsequent doctors and MRI’s we discovered two herniated disks. L4 and L5. Sciatica, numbness.. pain. This is basically textbook and nothing new. But, the disks are sitting on nerves and other fun stuff, so no matter how textbook this is… it hurts.

So what have I been doing to fix this? I did nothing for about eight months. I couldn’t. And then this past October I started with a chiropractor who gave me some relief. Then, this past week I started acupuncture and I also changed my diet. I read that gluten and dairy cause inflammation. I figured, “what if I could just get rid of them as much as I could from my diet?” It really wasn’t that hard to do – you just have to prepare. Brown rice pasta has replaced regular pasta, brown rice instead of white, I’ve made quinoa and lentils, I broil and bake instead of breading and frying, and I purchased gluten-free crackers.

What was interesting was this. Two weeks ago, I went on this diet for the first time for a week. I was pretty strict, though there were one or two meals I “cheated” because I wasn’t home and there was food in front of me. Regardless, I would say I changed my diet 90% that week. Looking back, I realize my back felt better. Then when the week was done, I went hog wild and chowed down on Chinese food for two days, started drinking milk again, yogurt and cheese for breakfast, bread at lunch, and wouldn’t you know, three days later my back went out… and bad. Lots of sciatic pain. Hmmm… so, back to the chiropractor, added my first acupuncture treatment and went BACK to the gluten-free/dairy free diet.

Verdict? Three days after being in the worst pain I’ve been in months, I’m so much better. Coincidence? A combination of everything? I don’t know, but I really believe that this “little cocktail of treatments” is hopefully working. The fact is, if I don’t add to my own problems by eating foods that CAUSE inflammation, maybe I can keep the nerve pain at bay – just by watching what I put in my mouth.

So, the verdict is out on exactly how this is going to go, but I’m hopeful. My next acupuncture treatment is Wednesday… I’ll keep up the diet and I’ll report next week. So far, so good.

My goal? Maybe I can get back to bootcamp one day. But for now, I’ll take “tying my shoes without flinching,” thank you very much.