That’s So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide – Family Edition

That's So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide - Family Edition

Christmas is now upon us! When I thought about putting together a Christmas gift guide – I looked around my house and my kitchen and thought “Wow, we should actually have a garage sale instead of buy more stuff!” So with the help of my wife we put together That’s So Primal 2017 Christmas Gift Guide – Family Edition.

Really my lists of years past have primal related items that are still GREAT gift ideas – you can check those out here and here. But for this year I wanted to put together a list of practical things that has just made our life (with 3 kids 3 and under) easier and maybe some of these would be a better gift than a toy you’ll sell in a year at your yard sale. I had my wife help me put this list together, so this post has a little bit of her creative gift giving touch while looking forward through the lens real life day of a mom!

This years list takes you a little bit out of the kitchen, I hope that’s ok! And since my wife helped, I have a lot of kid focused gifts listed.

Wake up time

Wake Light
Wake up lightAmazon
This is a PERFECT gift for a toddler when you want to give something practical. We got this when our daughter transitioned out of a crib. It is like a reverse alarm clock. So we tell her “don’t get out of bed until the green light comes on!” It buys us an extra 30 minutes at least. It also sets a nap light, you can set it for however long to make sure you get that afternoon break from your kid(s) even if they are just playing in their room.

Door Latches
Door latchesAmazon
Our handles are horizontal so we had to select this kind, if you have round handles you’d pick this other kind. We needed these to make sure the early riser didn’t go into the baby’s room and to keep the kids out of rooms. This is a practical gift with a capital “P”!

Closet Latches
Closet latchesAmazon
Same idea, we hide stuff in the closets and when my daughter is no longer trapped in a crib, I really really really don’t want her pulling EVERYTHING out of the closet when she wakes up and then while her sister is also asleep still. You may have to be creative in how you gift these but they will be the most used thing ever!

Breakfast time

Paleonola Original
Paleonola GranolaPaleonola
Let’s get real, we all like food! Any family member or friend would love a bag of this! This is an especially good idea for anyone who is in the camp of “I’m interested in your primal diet but it’s just too hard…” It’s not too hard – see try this! Delicious! You can see my review of their stuff here.

Contigo
Contigo kids sippy cupsAmazon
Any parent wishes their kid just never drank anything ever because NO sippy cup is perfect. Most are very far from perfect but we have found these Contigo bottles to be the best we’ve found yet!!!!

HaaKaa
HaaKaa PumpAmazon
The newborn has to eat too. This is only for new or expecting mommies – I WISH we learned about this 4 years ago when we were pregnant with our first daughter! So this is for my wife – and would only be for a breastfeeding mom… the younger the baby the better! This is especially a great gift for an expecting mom who plans on breastfeeding. While they nurse the baby on one side they attach this on the other side, it’s just a flexible bottle with a flange and it creates a suction that pumps out milk. The sooner you start using it the better! Our friend started when her baby was 3 days old and she is storing up like 5+ bags of breast milk with over 5oz per bag PER DAY! My wife started using it when our newest baby was 9 weeks old and she’s been storing at least one bag of milk per day. Storing up pumped milk is a battle and this makes it effortless! And it runs around $23 – you should spend the few extra dollars for the one with the base on the bottom so it would be less likely to spill.

Daytime stuff

Felt Board
Felt letterboardAmazon
Sometimes you just need your dose of daily motivation! These are pretty “in” right now. I bought my wife one from letterfolk for her birthday but Amazon has smaller more reasonably priced ones. Really anyone would love one of these!

Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo DotAmazon
The Echo Dot plays a big role in getting us through each day. This should be your go to gift if someone doesn’t yet have one! Great price point – as low as $30 on Black Friday. In our house we use a few functions more than others: timers, shopping lists, and playing music from Spotify. (If you need a louder speaker you can buy the more expensive Echo… but the Echo Dot is loud enough for our needs) This is a product too where someone can totally have a few in their house, especially if their home isn’t single story.

Spotify
Spotify SubscriptionSpotify
Our lives have been changed by Spotify!! You can sign up on an individual or family plan. This is how we do music… and we love it! For like $14 a month you have access to like almost all music. For the person who spends time at the gym to the person who spends time in their car commuting … and for anyone in between – this is a great gift!

Exo
Exo barsAmazon
These are my favorite primal bars… and their protein source is from crickets. I’ve written about them a bunch of times. Gift these to someone and don’t tell them their made from crickets and I bet you they wouldn’t even know – they taste so good! Sometimes for a busy person lunch (or breakfast) get skipped. These bars are a fantastic option for that meal skipper you know.

Dinner time

Braised Rosemary Pork
Freshly SubscriptionFreshly
I just did a post on how we are loving our subscription to Freshly. This would make a great gift, especially if you can get a promo price. It’s a little tricky to gift this though, because they don’t have gift cards, but it can be done! It would make a great gift for a husband to give his wife (or vice versa) to relieve a week or two of cooking. We gifted it to my mother in law for 2 weeks and my wife had to do it with her own email and select the meals with her mom on the phone… it took a little bit of work but she loved getting it as a gift.

Wipes
WipesAmazon
Dinnertime is a messy time in our house. So if you are like us with more than 1 kid… the new baby has lots of hand me down stuff already… So chances are any mom and dad would appreciate receiving wipes. A kid uses wipes for their first few years, and we still use them on hands and faces for our oldest. A 3 year old won’t like opening wipes but their parents may love you for it!

Bedtime

Bedtime Stories

Well after all we wouldn’t have CHRISTmas without Jesus Christ right… we have chosen to be intentional to read bible books with our kids and we wanted to take a minute to share our top books:

Jesus Calling Bible StorybookAmazon
This one has become our favorite… our 3 and a half year old really is into it. It goes through many bible stories and at the end of each story there is a verse and a section where it is a statement as if Jesus were “calling” (or talking) saying how that story relates to real life. If someone has a younger baby this version could also be a good option.

I AmAmazon
This is our second favorite Storybook bible! This one may be more fitting for even older kids but each section is about one of the names of God and it goes through bible stories through that lens.

9 Fruits AliveAmazon
If I look in my amazon shopping history it exposes that my wife has bought like 15+ copies of this book. Whenever we have a kids birthday party or a shower to go to she seems to “have a copy on hand”. This book covers each fruit of the spirit and encourages children about Love, Joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, & self control.

The Christmas PromiseAmazon
This is an awesome Christmas book. This series is awesome! We have all of them: The One O’Clock Miracle, The Storm that Stopped, The Garden Curtain and the Cross (the best easter book), and the new one God’s Very Good Idea (we just got this one to give our daughter for Christmas.) Our 3 year old totally understands these book, but these are probably actually great stuff for older children.

Post Bedtime

Apple TV
Apple TVApple
This gets used all day long… but once we get the kids in bed we catch up on our programs. The Apple TV just makes life easier. Like the phone, you have all your apps and you access them on your tv. We use Netflix and Hulu mostly. (Also great subscription gift ideas.) You can also pick up a Amazon Fire TV Stick for cheaper and it does pretty much the same things.

Pill Case
Daily pill caseAmazon
For anyone who takes vitamins or regular medicines! So we take about 5 pills each night and to open each bottle it’s like unnecessary work… having a case we just have a pill night once a week and fill ’er up! This is a great add on gift since the price point is super low.

Halo Top
Halo topAmazon
Now this is not Primal and it has to stay frozen. But what a great amazing awesome delicious treat it is!

Book Light
Book lightAmazon
For the person who still reads paper books. A nice new book light is a great idea. Not quite so primal to be staying up late but my wife often fits in her reading once everyone else has gone to bed. A kindle may be a good gift option too for any readers!

Thanks for reading! Hopefully you found some thoughtful gift ideas recommended above. Most importantly though, enjoy time with your family, remember why we celebrate CHRISTmas and make every moment count! Merry Christmas!

3 Reasons to Use an Amazon Echo in the Kitchen

Amazon Echo Dot

I love food, but I also love technology. Ask my wife. My two most visited sites from my phone, laptop or desktop normally consist of a Primal site and a tech website. So consider this post a slight departure from our regularly scheduled programming – sorta. This will read like a product placement, but trust me Amazon didn’t pay me to post this about the Echo. I just thought this would be a good post to identify my top 3 reasons I love using an Echo Dot in my kitchen, and when Apple releases something similar I’ll probably consider it as well. So below I’ve identified my top 3 uses for using an Amazon Echo Dot in the kitchen.

1. Timers

This sounds basic, and believe me it is. But man, a hands free way of telling the Echo to set a timer really comes in handy. So how often do I use it to set timers? ALL THE TIME. The main reason for setting timers is actually to get our toddler into her chair to eat a meal. We started out by telling our daughter to get in her chair because breakfast/lunch/dinner was ready, but as toddlers do she began to resist and get an attitude so we started a new method by having Alexa set a timer for us to get our daughter in the chair. So we now can tell our daughter to go to her chair when she hears the timer. This has evolved to where we use it to convince her of nap time and bed time as well. It’s great and really has worked for us. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Can’t you just use your phone for that?” Yes but no. My iPhone 7 has become much more capable at picking up “Hey, Siri” commands than my iPhone 6, but it’s still inconsistent, and when I’m dealing with a sassy toddler I don’t have time for inconsistent. The Echo is consistent. It hears me no matter if the TV is loud, the stove fan is going on or if I’m frying up some bacon for my brussels sprouts and bacon recipe. It always picks up my request to set a timer. Now besides using it as a brainwashing technique for our daughter I still love to use it for setting hands free timers for cooking, which is great because it can handle multiple timers unlike my iPhone. I have to say using it for a timer is our number one used function of the Echo.

2. Shopping List

The second most used function of my Echo is for adding grocery items to my shopping list hands free. This is HUGE. Once again yes I can use my phone for it but my phone is inconsistent and it doesn’t always pick up what I’m saying to add to a list – which is terrible when I’m standing at the grocery store looking at my iPhone list and it says “eight” instead of what I really meant was eggs (no I’m not making this up). Alexa on the other hand handles all my hands free shopping lists requests quite well. I really love this ability because it really does come in handy while I’m cooking and I remember in the moment I need more cumin or some other can of tomato sauce but my hands are full or dirty and I can just shout to Alexa what I want. Now the way I do my shopping list for the grocery store is actually in the regular notes app on the iPhone. I like keeping it real simple when I make my grocery list every week. So I have a reminder set on my phone every week to check the Alexa app’s shopping list. Then after I look at what I’ve shouted to Alexa throughout the week then I add that to my main shopping list in the notes app.

3. Measurements

The third most used function of my Echo is having Alexa convert measurements for recipes. First, I’m really bad at math and second I’m just not good at converting the measurements in my head. I look at so many different recipes online and in books and I always have trouble with things in grams, ml, cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. I’m terrible at getting this stuff straight! Any home cook would appreciate this feature. It sure does beat trying to look at some paper reference card taped to your cupboard, or trying to google the conversion while you have raw chicken on your hands.

There are a few more things I wish it could do. Two things I keep thinking in my head that I wish it can do are control my TV with just my voice and for it to somehow display recipes. Amazon recently updated their Amazon Fire TVs to be controlled with Alexa devices but this still doesn’t entirely control the TV the way I would like. I would need something more like a Harmony Hub for something like this, but I digress. For displaying full recipes Amazon now has the Echo Show, but I have no idea how well that displays recipes and responds to your voice. Hope all this technobabble helped.

tl;dr

You should buy an Echo Dot.

Seasoning a Cast Iron Skillet

My buddy was trying out my recipe for a simple stir fry in a skillet but I failed to mention in that recipe that I make that particular portion size in a 12” Lodge Cast Iron. So as he was going to do the recipe he realized it all didn’t fit in the skillet he had. So he did what any level headed person would do – he bought a larger cast iron skillet.

 

Seasoned the new #castironskillet

A photo posted by Scott Dreger (@scottdreger) on

Now whenever you buy a new cast iron skillet it says they’re already seasoned in their factory, which is true but it’s always a good idea to give them a really good seasoning again yourself. Cast iron skillets will still take a while to break in, you’ll have to cook with them a lot and not use soap to clean them for them to really turn into awesome non stick pans. However, the starting place is to do an initial seasoning of your own.

Now, I’m not reinventing the wheel here, nor was my buddy who offered to take photos of him seasoning his own skillet. He followed Nom Nom Paleo’s guide, so the directions listed below are just following Nom Nom’s guide with the exception of doing the seasoning at 350°F instead of 400°F because a lot of the people’s comments said 400°F smoked like crazy.

1-Before
Brand spanking new skillet from Amazon.

2-Preheat the Oven
Preheat oven to 350°F.

3-Washing the Pan
Give the pan a good scrub with hot water to remove any weird stuff that could’ve collected on there from Amazon’s warehouse. Note: Scott’s brush is terrible, I suggest using these to “clean” your skillet after you’re done cooking with them. Just don’t use soap.

4-Coconut Oil
Nom Nom says to use refined coconut oil, but Scott just used what he had on hand. No worries, the idea is just to get a good saturated fat on the pan because saturated fat has less of a propensity to oxidize like a mono or polyunsaturated fat. Some argue that the oxidation is what you want on the pan so they use canola oil, but I don’t like the idea of even buying death canola oil. It’ll just take a little longer for the saturated fat to oxidize in the skillet I guess.

5-Oil in the Pan
Then throw in about a teaspoon or more of your fat of choice and rub it all over the skillet.

6-Place in the Oven
Place the skillet upside-down in the oven after it reaches 350°F. Make sure you have a foil lined baking tray in the bottom to catch anything that drops and to prevent smoking in the oven. Leave it in the oven for about an hour.

7-After
After the oven and skillet cool, you can enjoy your re-seasoned cast iron skillet! Now remember stuff will still stick for awhile, you’ll just need to keep using it and it will get better with time. Like a good pair of raw denim or natural leather.

8-Ready to Cook
Finally, Scott can fit my skillet recipe in his skillet.

Photo credits: Scott Dreger

Kitchen Essentials

Kitchen Essentials

When I got married my wife and I got a bunch of wedding gifts for the kitchen that we thought we would be using all the time. As it turns out, we didn’t end up using all the gadgets we got for our wedding all the time. Some of it yes, but most of it no. I really only use a handful of all the gadgets we got from our wedding. Along the way in this Primal journey I’ve picked up a few more kitchen essentials that I use everyday. Listed below are my top kitchen essentials:


Cutco Santoku

Chef Knife & Pairing Knife

You really only need 2 knives in the kitchen. A Chef’s knife (or Santoku, whatever your preference), and a pairing knife. Other than that, I’ve really never needed any of those other knives that come in the kits you get for a wedding gift or that you see in the big box stores. I got these Cutco knives as a wedding gift and I love them. They’re made in the USA by the same company that makes the knives for our marines: Kabar. You can check out their site to learn about picking them up from a Cutco representative. Otherwise I suggest this Wustof santoku and pairing knife. Cutco link.


Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

I use this skillet all the time. Sometimes it’s annoying when trying to clean it because it’s super heavy. But it’s nice to have another made in USA product that I use in the kitchen all the time. Most dishes can be cooked in this from bacon, eggs, brussels sprouts, etc… My wife has a hard time using this because certain foods still stick and because it’s heavy. So to make it easier for her we use this skillet from time to time. When the non-stick coating wears out (which is probably what causes cancer) we’ll just buy a new one. Amazon link.


Baking Sheet

Baking Sheets

You may need a couple of these for roasting veggies. We roast a lot of veggies tossed in butter, olive oil, lard or coconut oil. We do use the steamer from time to time and add butter after steaming, but roasting is different. It brings out a whole different flavor, but most importantly you can set it and forget it (until the timer goes off). It’s also easy to clean up if you use aluminum foil. Amazon link.


Microwave Steamer

Microwave Steamer

For when you’re really in a jam to have a side of veggies for dinner and don’t have time to warm the oven you can use a steamer and add fat and spices after they’re done steaming. Super easy cleanup after and it’s a fast way to add more veggies to your plate. We use this a lot with broccoli, cabbage or carrots. Amazon link.


Meat Thermometer

Meat Thermometer

I never understood the beef hand pressing doneness technique people do. I don’t trust chicken that could potentially be undercooked and Pork temperature is important to watch so you’re not chewing on a brick. So, that’s why I use a meat thermometer. I like to make sure my chicken is up to 165° and everything else I can cook and serve at whatever doneness people desire. Amazon link.


Julienne Peeler

Julienne Peeler

We ate a lot of spaghetti before going Primal. This tool and a zucchini plant in our garden at home has allowed us to continue to feed that spaghetti craving (addiction). Using this tool to make noodles out of zucchini is super easy. For each meal we use about 2 medium sized zucchinis per person. After we make the noodles we just put them in a covered microwave safe container and microwave for 2 minutes and you’re good to go. Amazon link.


Food Processor

Food Processor

This was an expensive kitchen essential that we got as a wedding gift and we use it all time. Primarily when making cauliflower rice, which we do a lot. But I use it for nut butters, slicing jerky and a variety of other recipes. We don’t have some gnarly expensive blender, but this one does exactly what we need it to do. Amazon link.


Bonavita

Bonavita

I have a lot of ways to make coffee at home from a Chemex, to the Aeropress, to the Clever Coffee Dripper. But the Bonavita is what gets used the most. I just measure out my coffee with this scale, grind it up and brew. Makes a great cup of coffee without having to be too hands on. Amazon link.