Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Swim Workout: Thanksgiving Leftovers

What is so great about a Thanksgiving meal that you can't get on any other day? It's not the turkey or the pumpkin pie, or your grandma's red jello with colored marshmallows. You can have any of those any day of the week. It's the variety of food at the table, the sheer numbers of dishes. The different smells, flavors, textures, spices. And of course the company, whether family or friends.

Variety is not just the spice of life at the holiday table, but in the pool as well. All too many swimmers do endless variations of sets that look something like:

2 x 400
2 x (2 x 200)
2 x (4 x 100)

etc. etc. etc. Boring!

So I like to create or find ways to make my swim sets interesting for my Masters group. Often that means varying the length, timing, interval, stroke, or speed, throwing in drills or kicks or fun stuff like making them all get out of the pool to do pushups and situps. I got lucky this weekend because I got up late on Saturday morning realizing I hadn't done my research and written up a good workout for the gang. I say "lucky" because has an excellent bunch of swim workouts already written up and one of them was just what I was looking for. I added and changed a few things here and there, so this workout, like a good Thanksgiving dinner, has a little bit of everything. It went by fast, we were never bored, and it kept us on our toes. I called it "Thanksgiving Leftovers"

WARMUP:   1500

300 Swim, 200 Kick, 300 Drill/Swim by 50's, 300 Pull

16 X 25 with fins on :30, swum as 4 X the following:
     1 X 25 1Left/1Right/1 whole-stroke Fly
     1 X 25 1L/1R/2 whole-strokes Fly
     1 X 25 1L/1R/3 shole-stroke Fly
     1 X 25 dolphin kick on your back

MAIN SET: 2300

4 X 200 on approx. 25 seconds rest
#1 and #3 are pull; descend time on #3
#2 and #4 are 50 kick/50 swim/50 kick/50 swim; descend time on :34

8 X 25 on :30
Odd 25s:  Low Stroke Count Freestyle
Even 25s:  Low Stroke Count Breaststroke

12 X 50 on 1:00
Three rounds of:
2 X 50 backstroke
2 X 50 Freestyle

8 x Two-turn 50s:
Start in middle of pool, swim toward one wall and do a good flip. Sprint the next 25, do another good flip turn, glide back to middle of pool.

75 easy
75 easy

4 X 50 pull on easy sendoff

TOTAL:  4000 yards

Monday, November 28, 2011

Countdown to Ironman, Weeks 31 & 30: Social Awkwardness or Why I Train Alone

When you picture an Ironman, you picture the lone warrior, running solo down the road; the lone cyclist pumping up the hill against the sunset. But the truth of it is that most of us train in groups much of the time. And even though our event will take place as a solo effort, it will be spent in the company of thousands.

Sometimes I seek out that group training, and enjoy the camaraderie of a bunch of athletes all pushing themselves to the limit. My Masters swim group is a terrific bunch of folks who keep the boring back-and-forth of a pool workout from being anything but fun and challenging every time. But other times I'm reminded of why I avoid group situations and mostly train alone.

I think I've mentioned here that I'm a very visual person. I discovered years ago in a French class when we watched our first French movie that when a character turned their back to the camera I couldn't understand them at all. That's when it dawned on me that I was lip reading French instead of actually hearing it (which probably explains my appalling accent). Eventually I figured out that Italian was a much better language for me, no silent consonants and lots of extravagant hand gesturing.

Eventually it dawned on me that I actually have some sort of auditory processing disorder and that I mostly lip read in English as well. This might explain a lot of social awkwardness, especially in loud or chaotic environments like parties. People who meet me for the first time in such places will invariably tell me later that they either thought I was silent and stand-offish, or that I was too talkative and boorish. That's because I have a very difficult time actually understanding other people when it's noisy, so I either talk non-stop or I don't talk at all. Neither is a great approach for being friendly and polite.

So fast-forward to yesterdays group bike ride on trainers, a recipe for social disaster for me. It's largely a group of folks that I don't know well. Everyone has their hands on their handlebars, facing the same way, so I'm either looking at people's backs or their sides. Other folks are chatting, but I have a hard time understanding what they're saying, especially with the music and the sound of tires on trainer flywheels. At first I don't talk at all, then when someone starts talking to me I talk too much. I come home feeling like such a heel. Maybe other people feel the same way in social scenarios, but somehow I always feel very alone when I meet new people like that.

Sometimes when I coach my son's robotics team, I listen to the team members interacting and realize that this type of computery, engineery, roboticy brain goes hand in hand with some of the same things that I experience, and I remember what I was like at that age. Sometimes these kids talk too much or too little, talk over the top of each other. I can see their brains going a million miles an hour behind their eyes, just waiting to deliver this amazing bunch of information that's in their heads and not always listening to each other. I hope that as their coach, I can help facilitate better communication and listening skills, and I can empathize with their difficulty in this area. And maybe I can give a little love and forgiveness to the awkward teenager I once was and the sometimes awkward adult I am now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipe: Maple Mustard Green Beans

To those of you in America, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! And to everyone else as well, I hope your life today is blessed with friends and family, good food and good company. Here's one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, something everyone raves over every year. Forget those nasty green beans with canned crunchy onion things on top. Even if you're not celebrating today, this is a great way to cook up some yummy veggies. Make sure you make plenty, because these are leftovers that are worth having extras of!

Maple Mustard Green Beans

2 lbs Green beans, stemmed and boiled for 5 - 8 min just until tender
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
3 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs Maple Syrup
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs chopped green onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients and pour over the hot green beans. These taste better the longer they marinate. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Talkin' Smack About Stay-At-Home Parents??

Being a stay-at-home parent and an athlete is an easy job, a cakewalk, you should have lots of time to train. Right? Okay, you can stop laughing now, those of you with kids. And those of you without kids who might be nodding your heads? Think again.

I was biking yesterday while watching Ironman Arizona on TV with some other triathletes (what better way to stay motivated to work hard than watching all the exhausted folks crossing the finish line!). Lots of doctors crossed the finish line, military folks, firefighters, business people, and then a guy comes across who is announced as a "stay at home dad". A comment was made from a triathlete about how ridiculous that was, how easy he must have it, having ALL THAT TIME to train. Yes, ALL. THAT. TIME. Again, parents, you can stop laughing.

So, just to set the record straight, let me state uncategorically that being a stay at home parent is the hardest job in the world. It's the best job, for sure. The most joyful, frustrating, wonderful, terrible, exciting, boring job in the world. But hard. Hard, hard, hard.

Just for comparison, when I was a college student I was so poor that I started my day with a paper route at 4:30 in the morning, and ended it working in the computer labs until midnight just to pay my bills and tuition. From there, I went to work for Microsoft, a place renowned for 60 - 80 hour workweeks. A place so rigorous that several of my co-workers and bosses had nervous breakdowns or had to leave, just from the strain. There were days I came home so frazzled that I drove past my own driveway, repeatedly. At the time, I certainly thought it was the hardest and most stressful thing I'd done.

But neither of those is as tough as being a parent. Especially a full-time stay-at-home parent. Yes, you  heard me right. You have it easy before having kids, even if you don't know it.  The reason? Other than work, your time is your own. When you're working or reading or cooking or sleeping or shopping or driving, no one is screaming in your ear, barfing in your lap, pooping in their diapers, begging for a toy, fighting with a sibling, singing a song, or talking your ear off about Thomas the Tank Engine. When you decide to go for a run after work or on your lunch break, no one has a dance rehearsal they need to be at or homework they need help with. You only have yourself to look after. You get to schedule things and have a reasonable expectation that your schedule will not be obliterated by circumstances beyond your control time and time again.

When you're a stay-at-home parent to very young kids, going for a run can look like this: feed the baby, change the baby, put baby in jogging stroller. Corral the toddler, dress the toddler, get toddler his book, put toddler in jogging stroller. Baby is now crying. Baby just spit up. Take baby out of stroller to clean baby. While doing that, toddler unbuckles and climbs out and is now sitting on his little potty chair singing to himself and reading his book. Twenty minutes later when he's done, you get him back into the stroller. Now the baby is hungry again. Feed the baby, change the baby, put baby in jogging stroller..... IF (and this is a BIG IF) you're lucky, you might get out the door. Then again, you might not.

In the idyllic photo above of my kids when they were much younger biking while I run, it wasn't three minutes later that one of the kids crashed, got a scraped knee, and the run was over for the day. Such is life with small children.

When kids get older, it does get easier in many ways - at least they can feed and clothe themselves. However, they typically fill in this time gap with a thousand activities you need to take them to. If they go off to school, you might have a block of time during the day when, after you get the shopping, cleaning, laundry, driving, chores, banking, and gardening done, you might go out for a run or bike ride. My kids are homeschooled, so I wouldn't know about that whole block of time thing. I do know that when my fellow triathletes were getting up on Sunday, eating breakfast, and getting ready for the day's bike ride, I was getting my daughter ready for a dance rehearsal, making sure she had her pink, tan, and black leotards and tights, her jazz shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, and ballroom shoes packed in her dance bag. Making sure she had a lunch packed and her cell phone was charged, and cooking her breakfast as well as the rest of the family. And my Saturday run happened in the cold and the dark on Saturday night because I spent the whole day driving 200 miles roundtrip with my son's robotics team to take them to an event. So although it might get easier at some point (when they leave for college?) it hasn't happened yet.

Just trying to type this out, I've counted eleven different child-related interruptions, but so it goes in the easy laid-back land of the stay-at-home parent. So the next time you see a stay-at-home dad or mom crossing the finish line of the Ironman, or even arriving at the grocery store with matching socks, give them a standing ovation instead of a hard time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Usual Craziness, Times Ten

This time of year usually involves a confluence of dance and robotics for our family. For every young ballerina, December is the Season of the Nutcracker, and our little dancer is no exception. And for teams involved in FIRST Tech robotics, we're ramping up for competitions in January.

This year, things got just a little bit crazier, as Asa is playing Clara, her dream role. Here she is with the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Nutcracker Prince. Of course, this means dozens of extra rehearsals, which she is just thrilled to do, but in this dark and rainy time of year means more car time  for the taxi driver (me). Still, I can't wait to see her realize her dreams on the stage in a few weeks!

Meanwhile, I'll be driving 220 miles roundtrip tomorrow with our robotics team as we head off to our first Robo "Fest" (an opportunity to work on our robot and scrimmage with other teams on an official playing field).

Again, I'm absolutely thrilled that my science-minded son is so enthusiastically engaged with building and programming robots. I know if these teams had been around when I was his age, I would've been ecstatic. As it was, I had to make do with programming in BASIC on a TRS-80 (don't laugh), and saving my programs onto a cassette tape (hey, at least it wasn't punched cards).

 Meanwhile, show of hands - who thinks my son looks just like Jeremy from Zits?? He's not wearing a plaid shirt in this photo, but the lanky in-the-eyes hair and the hunched posture (not to mention the sleeping late, eating everything in sight and general attitude) are just about a perfect match.

Normally during this time of year I'd be busy getting lackadaisical about my workouts, so none of this would be an issue, but my lack of "on season" this summer, combined with signing up for an early season Ironman in 2012 has conspired to make me work hard this winter. So tomorrow I've got to figure out how to fit a run into the day, and Sunday will see me indoors on the bike trainer spinning my wheels. Somehow, I can't wait 'til Thanksgiving break - four days of nothingness. Except for eating and workouts, of course!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Countdown to Ironman, Week 32: Courage Breath

In our form of karate, we practice different sorts of breathing as well as learning to kiai (what people think of as the "Aiii-yah" in badly dubbed martial arts movies). While a kiai is described as an " inner gathering of energy released in a single explosive focus of will", there are also "focus breaths" and "courage breaths". A focus breath occurs anytime you strike, block, or someone punches at you, and serves to both focus your energy as well as tensing your abdominal muscles to protect your core organs, it's short and sharp and comes from the gut. A courage breath is a slow breath that you take in through the nose and release through the back of your mouth in a Darth Vader-like manner. We use these while making slow, intense, focused movements in a kata, or while gathering energy and mental calm before performing a move.

It's funny, but at stressful times in my life (like, oh, when the kids are bickering while I'm line at the bank, not that this ever happens to me....), I find myself using a courage breath to momentarily center myself and give myself just a tiny mental time-out and re-focusing. It might sound a bit weird to the people around when you suddenly emit a Vader-ish breath or two, but it really does work. And keeps you from knocking your kids heads together.

While training, preparing, and planning for an Ironman is undoubtably thrilling and exciting, it's also nerve-wracking and to be truthful, a bit fear-inducing. I can get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it too much, and I've learned never ever to think about it late at night or I'll be up for hours from the sudden jolt of adrenaline. Clearly, my body knows how serious it is, even if my mind can fool itself into thinking these are trivial details about an event that is far, far away (though creeping up, week by week).

I've decided to employ the courage breath as a regular part of my Ironman training. Borrowing from my martial arts, my plan is to use this breath both during training (since the intervals that are the bulk of my current regimen regularly make me nervous) and during racing when I'm sure there will be some moments when I will need to call on my reserves of courage and calm. I'm going to practice drawing in and letting go of that courage breath when I'm standing on a cold, misty lakeshore in my wetsuit, or heading to the track at dawn.

One thing I've learned well from karate is that nothing, not even breathing, can be done well if you don't practice it with intention. So today my intention is to breathe well, and take courage from my breath. You can follow along, everybody now... inhale..... and aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. See, don't you feel better already?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Celebrating Fall with a Leaf Ride

The thought of months of darkness and rain ahead of us is scary. This time of year is always about saying goodbye to summer, to sunny days and swims in the lake, riding across town in shorts and a t-shirt and hanging laundry out in the sun to dry with that wonderful outdoor smell. But autumn is also one of the most beautiful times of the year in our town. We live in a confluence of climactic zones that basically lets almost any tree alive grow here. We have everything from palm trees to evergreens to a thousand different kinds of deciduous trees, all dropping their leaves by the barrel right now.

The kids and I have had a tradition of going on a "Leaf Ride" - we pick a dry day when the leaves are starting to pile up and we ride around town going through the biggest piles we can find. Sometimes we're biking along up to our knees in leaves, with their dry crackly sound and that autumny smell. It's a fun way to welcome this season of transition, and get out on our bikes while the weather is still beautiful (if a bit colder than the summer months). Encouraging our kids to be cyclists is a big priority for us, and making it fun with an outing (which ended up downtown with an impromptu picnic) keeps them enjoying it as a fun activity that only incidentally is great exercise, self-sufficient transportation, and sustainably-fueled to boot!

As a parent, it's all too easy to let fear keep our kids from being as independent as we were when we were their age. Most of us biked or walked all over town, didn't we? In 1972, the year I started 1st grade, nearly 90% of all school kids who lived within a mile of their school walked or biked to school. Now the school drop-off lines are long and filled with the exhaust fumes of idling cars dropping off their kids one at a time. Yet the things parents are most afraid of: kidnappings or violent crimes against children, and pedestrian or bicycle-related accidents, have actually fallen dramatically percentage-wise in the last thirty years. We are simply more afraid of them, even though we have less reason to be. And sadly, 50% of the children hit by cars near schools are hit by the parents of other students! Clearly, the more kids that bike and walk and the less that are driven around by harried minivan moms (the most dangerous drivers on the road at 3:00 for sure), the safer our kids will be.

So as our kids bike themselves to classes and activities, and I bike myself into a lather doing intervals and time trials, it's nice to occasionally just take some time out to enjoy ourselves on a beautiful fall day with some big piles of crunchy fun. This last photo is from our Leaf Ride four years ago, and it reminds me of how much the kids have grown and how fleeting this time with them is. The difference between my 8 year old girlie in this photo and the 12 year old young lady in the photo above just blows my mind. Never mind that my son is now way taller than I am, and no longer the peewee chasing his little sis like he was in this photo. I don't know how many more autumn days they'll go for leaf rides with me in the coming years, but I'm going to enjoy every one I can.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Raising Healthy Kids: Eat Your Vegetables

How many times have you heard this mind-boggling phrase: "I can't get my kid to eat vegetables."?

Or maybe "My kid just doesn't like vegetables"?

It always leaves me wondering if, at some point, without me realizing it, eating vegetables stopped being considered crucial to good health.

Because they are. And if they're crucial to good health, our kids should be eating them. Period. Non-optional. In our house, this falls under the Ironmom Tough Shit Policy. In other words, Tough Shit kid, you're eating your vegetables.

Of course, it's not quite that simple. In reality, there's four key things I do to keep my kids eating healthy.

1) Model healthy eating. This is the hardest one. I was busted out by my daughter yesterday for taking a sugary sample from the Trader Joe's sample lady when we had set ourselves out on a post-Halloween no-sugar challenge. Whoops! Setting a good example is hard work dammit. But it's essential step numero uno if you want healthy kids. Filling our own plates with veggies is the best way to send the message that this is the way to healthy eating. "Do as I say, not as I do" never ever works.

2) Explain why vegetables and fruits are essential to good health. Do not rely on your kids "Health" classes to do this in school. Chances are, there's a Coke machine right outside the classroom door. Although some school are catching up (one here in town actually has a garden), you can't rely on anyone but yourself when it comes to nutritional advice.

Information is a powerful tool. A friend of mine once told a group of our kids "if it says Hydrogenated on the label, just substitute the words "cancer-causing". My kids became ardent label-readers and to this day, they will turn down even the most delectable treat if the word "hydrogenated" appears anywhere on the packaging. That was a great lesson for me to not shy away from letting my kids know exactly why I make the food choices that I do, in powerful language.

3) Make it non-optional. This is where the Tough Shit Policy comes into play. You are the parent. They are the kids. They have to do what you say. Now I think my kids would tell you that I very rarely employ the Tough Shit policy. I'm a big believer in picking which hill you want to die on. But when it comes to nutrition, I'm ready to stand and fight.

"A meal is a protein and a vegetable, with an optional fruit" is something you'll hear around our house frequently. That's just me reminding the kids of how to prioritize their eating. Except for breakfast, every meal or snack I set out has vegetables in it, or vegetables on the side. Not eating your vegetables? Not an option.

4) Make it fun. It's not like I force my kids to eat things they hate. They can go to the farmer's market or store with me and pick out whichever veggies and fruits strike their fancy. We like to include all sorts of different veggies in our repertoire: jicama sticks, snap peas, lightly steamed broccoli with teriyaki dipping sauce, carrots with hummus, cucumbers with tzatziki, seaweed snacks, kale chips, and the good old Big Ass Salad. Having our own garden for years has been the best way to make sure they eat lots of veggies. When you can go out the back door and pick the snap peas yourself, they taste infinitely better. And we can grow fun stuff like purple carrots and little orange tomatoes.

So this is how it comes to pass that when we went to a Red Robin's for dinner on a road trip recently, my son orders a chicken caesar salad, and my daughter asks for a steamed veggie teriyaki bowl (which has been her favorite for years and for some reason they just cut from their menu. Boooo Red Robin!). It never ceases to amaze the waiters. The fact that they always comment on my kids' food choices makes me realize how rare they are.

With the words "childhood obesity epidemic" on everyone's big worry list, it's clear that it's time to take kids' nutrition back into our own hands and put the phrase "Eat your vegetables" back into the national vocabulary.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Countdown to Ironman, Week 33: How To Survive Indoor Training

As I mentioned last week, this week starts my "Out Season" training plan from Endurance Nation, looking to build up some speed in the wintertime that I can then add some distance training to once the good weather arrives in the spring. I feel very very lucky that as of last year we have a triathlon store in town, The MultiSport Advantage. More than just selling gels and tri shorts, they have a whole training facility that's thoroughly kick-ass and is going to save me from the horrifying boredom of indoor training.

So this week, when I had intervals to ride and it was raining outside, I didn't just stick my bike on the dreaded trainer (aka Drainer) in the basement, I took it over to MSA and slapped it on their MultiRider CompuTrainer system with six other athletes and rode on the Ironman Kona course instead, watching the Florida Ironman unfold while we were at it. Not only did it break up the monotony and add some spice to indoor training, you really do go much harder when you have people to chase. I was flogged by the end of it.

One more nice thing about the CompuTrainer is that I did a 30 minute time trial and it spits out my power readings for me. I don't have any fancy Powertap type wheels, so that's not something I've ever gotten to train with. I discovered that my starting numbers for the season are an FTP (power average) of 182, and a Watts per Kilogram (w/kg) of 2.4. I have no idea what I've ever been in the past for these numbers (guess: substantially higher) but it gives me a baseline for this year to see what I can do as I improve.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Snap: An Ironmom Week in Pictures

I'm a very visual person. To the extent that I discovered at some point that I lip read almost as much as I hear a conversation, which probably explains my aversion to talking on the phone. Sometimes words are good, but I have to agree with the old maxim that a picture is worth a thousand of them. Therefore, rather than boring you with lots of wordy words about my week, here's a few photos:

Is there anything more exciting for a musician than buying her first guitar? Asa saved up her money for a long time to buy "Shanti", her beloved new electric/acoustic. I, as the photo-loving mom saw it as an opportunity to do a portrait of my lovely young lady.

One of the things I love most about my town is how many gardens there are. Think this is out in the country? No, it's a vacant lot next to my kids' orthodontist office. I don't know who has been gardening here, but they've done a beautiful job.

Hello, Rambo? I heard you needed some help. No, although this week was Halloween, this is not my son's costume. He and some friends are filming a movie out in our woods (quite possibly involving a zombie apocalypse, or a bunch of nunchaku-wielding soldiers). He just happened to wander into the house in all of his gear to take a call.

And unfortunately, he's not ALL that wandered into my house. Look at the entryway, victim of several teenager's muddy feet. Ugh!

Because a mom has to do some shopping, she better have something good to step out in. How about a pair of Doc Marten sandals? I've loved my Doc Marty boots since the ol' punk rock days. Happy to have something to kick around in when the weather is warmer.

What would an Ironmom be if she didn't cook dinner? Shrimp stir-fry, coming right up!


Even the pet rat loves my stir fry. Nom Nom Paleo.

Out for a run, I spotted this lovely gent looking for his supper. He stayed there while I crept close enough with my camera phone to snap this. Wishing I had my big camera along!

The saddest photo of all. Last day of outdoor swimming for the year. The pool is closed for the season! I will now go off somewhere to cry.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why I Threw Away My Kids Halloween Candy, A Manifesto To Feeding Kids Right

It's National Eat Crap week here in America (otherwise known as the week after Halloween) and the question on so many parents' minds is "How do I raise kids to make healthy food choices in the face of all this crap?" So I thought I'd start off by showing you an image of all of the Halloween candy I threw out. No, this wasn't the candy from this year. This was last year's candy! I discovered a little ant trail going across our basement wall and followed it to a cupboard where I found several pounds of last year's candy just hanging out. The kids had forgotten about it. Yep, you read that right. So I threw it out. I'll probably do the same with this year's hoard at some point (hopefully before the sugar ants discover it).

See, I'm of the mind that if you raise your kids to eat right 99% of the time, then a few days of candy overload really won't kill them. And chances are, if they know what it feels like to feel healthy, they won't like how they feel when they eat too much candy, and they might just forget about that stash after awhile.

Wouldn't it be nice if kids came with an instruction manual, and maybe some of those little packets of food like those Sea Monkeys I ordered from the back of a comic book when I was 10? Just sprinkle some in, and they're good to go. And wouldn't it be great if there wasn't a little Sea Monkey 7-11 around every corner just brimming with crap, not to mention all the TV ads for crap food, the crap aisle in the store and the crap dispensers right next to the cash register so your kids can pester the crap out of you begging for crap when you're trying to pay for groceries (aka Real Food)?

So what's a health conscious adult to do when it comes to feeding their kids?

The two key things I've discovered about raising healthy kids are:

1) Be a Role Model. You can't expect your kids to do it if you don't. If you eat like crap and don't exercise, chances are they will too.

2) Cook real food. That means meals, cooked from scratch. I know that's anathema to a lot of folks, and far too many of us have forgotten what an actual homecooked meal looks like. But it doesn't take near as much time as you think it might once you get in the groove.

So that's all fine and dandy, but what do you actually feed the little sea monkeys? Trimama Laurel sent me an email earlier this week asking what types of paleo foods my kids like to eat. Now my kids aren't 100% on the paleo bandwagon, but they do eat gluten free, and only local raw goat's milk for dairy. And since I eat paleo, that's what they eat by default most of the time, unless they talk me into cooking something special for them.

A lot of our meals are very simple and look like this:

Some form of meat, a lot of veggies, and a piece of fruit. The meat might be roasted chicken, a hamburger, some steak done up fajita-style, or some tuna fish. The veggies might be salad or carrot sticks or some kale chips. And this time of year the fruit is likely to be an apple or pear apple off of one of our trees. In the winter, the kids like frozen berries that we picked in the summer for a snack.

Other meals might involve a few more combined ingredients. Some of my kids' favorites:

Omelettes or scrambled eggs
Sloppy Joes without the buns
Veggie/Chicken Shisk-A-Bobs
Taco salad night
Chicken Curry (I usually throw in zucchini, onions, carrots, and any other veggies I have lying around)
Smoothies of many varieties
Teriyaki Chicken
Bacon, bacon, and bacon
Cauliflower "pasta" with meat sauce

Special things I will cook for my kids are: "Paleo-ized" waffles, pancakes, or crepes. I basically take the ol' Betty Crocker recipe and substitute my own mix of almond meal, coconut flour, ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and tapioca flour, throw in a couple of extra eggs and some coconut milk, and these make up some tasty and protein-dense waffles (or pancakes). Often, the kids use these as snacks through the day, and I like them for pre-workout snacks.

The most non-paleo meal I will cook for the kids would be gluten-free macaroni and cheese. I use rice pasta and I make up a white sauce myself using tapioca flour, grass-fed butter, and raw milk. I mix in some sheep's milk Romano cheese and some raw goat's cheddar. Voila, a rainy-day comfort food.

But really, most of the time it just comes down to meats, eggs, veggies, and some fruits. Keep it simple, eat and model healthy behavior (including when it comes to chowing on that Halloween candy), and that's all there is to it!