Thriving Holiday Gatherings

Thriving Holiday Gatherings

I was going to title this post Surviving Holiday Gatherings but I think that puts too negative of a spin on what should be some of the most important times of the year – Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I think it’s better to talk about how we can have Thriving Holiday Gatherings. I’ll keep this relatively short since I know everyone is probably running at a million miles an hour with the holidays approaching. So I jotted down 6 ways we can approach the holiday gatherings that many of us will be attending with a healthy approach on food and people allowing us to thrive, not just survive.

1. Focus on protein

I often joke with my wife about one season of The Bachelorette when this dude Chad was on the season. Every shot they always showed him eating all the meat they would provide for free, when they interviewed him he said something along the lines of it’s free protein so he’s gonna eat as much as possible. I kinda take the same approach to any type of gathering, just focus on eating as much protein provided as possible. It’s satiating and delicious and will keep you full enough to not be tempted by all the other things that may be on display. And when I do this my wife always jokes that I’m pulling a Chad.

2. Minimize carbs

Now if you’re eating a bunch of protein your plate should already be pretty full, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat just a little of your Grandma’s sweet potato pie or some family tradition of mashed potatoes or something like that. If you limit yourself to just a little bit you’re gonna satisfy everyone and it’s still not that many carbs in the big picture. One little scoop is a lot different than a heaping pile of mashed potatoes and one slice of turkey. Bleh. Flip the script. Fill your plate with the protein and then squeeze in some starch on the side here or there.

3. Embrace conversation

Realize that the time you’re with the people at whatever gathering you may be at has a purpose. So often we can go through these types of family or friend gatherings and just “make” it through the conversations. Believe me, I’m an ISTJ so I’m not one for conversing, but that doesn’t make it right. We were made to be communal people. Try asking truly how others are doing, seek to understand them and what’s going on in their lives. So often these gatherings happen with people we only see for a few times a year, or maybe even less, so make the most of the time you have with the people you’re around. Maybe you needed to be there to ask how that person is doing or for you to grow in some way. I know it’s a weird concept in this day of constantly sharing and posting and projecting ourselves – try for a second to be about others and not yourself.

4. Fast from your phone

Now this one goes hand in hand with embracing conversation. This may sound crazy but try to go a whole gathering without using your phone. You’ll survive I promise. It will feel weird. You’ll get phantom vibrations but remember there was a time where we didn’t have phones to distract us. And that’s literally what the phones do when we’re at gatherings like this – they distract. Try to even put your phones in something like this locking cookie jar. Heck have everyone put their phones in it when they come in the door. That’ll be a conversation starter right there. Now I know what you’re thinking “what about taking pictures?!” – let’s be honest – how often do you go back and look at all those pictures, I know I rarely do. Work at building memories instead of just a ton of unused pictures. If you still want one picture just be super intentional at the end of the day to take one group photo or something.

5. Don’t talk about diet

Don’t be that guy (or girl) who all they literally talk about is how they’re paleo, primal, keto or vegan. We are all annoying. You may be super excited to talk about your diet and how well it’s working for you but I guarantee you that someone will be on some other diet or worst they’re self conscious because they’re not on any diet and they just want to enjoy all the food piled up on their plate. Inevitably all conversations about diet will then lead to arguments, and these gatherings have people from all walks of life so it’s bound to have a ton of different opinions collide when the topic of diet comes up. Save talking about diet for Instagram or with someone you see every single day and you run out of everything else to talk about. You don’t want to be remembered as the person who was talking abut gluten and lectins the whole time. You want to be remembered as the person who was humble, kind and caring – right?

6. Eat the dessert

The end of the day comes around and you’ve had great conversation. You’ve fasted from technology. You’ve eaten a ton of protein. But that pumpkin pie is still staring at you… guess what? Just eat it. Don’t let food control you. You control what you eat. And at the end of the day if you really want that sentimental piece of pumpkin pie or banana pudding just have a little bit. You won’t get unhealthy from one bite of pumpkin pie just as you can’t get healthy from one slice of grass fed rib eye. Eat responsibly and still enjoy yourself because one bite of something that will really satisfy you will be worth it. Just don’t eat the whole pie…

That’s it guys. Have a great Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hold the selfies, put the ’Gram away. Get your family, y’all hold hands and pray. Take care!

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 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 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 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 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.

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 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!

Slow Down

Slow Down

My daughter was about 8 months this time last year. Now she’s about 20 months (8+12 duh) with another baby due in February.

Our daughter was born April 16, 2014

18 months
This is our daughter at 18 months

Everyone said it – time flies so fast – and it really does. But no matter how many photos or videos I take to try to document our daughter’s life – life is still flying by. This time of year especially it really seems like time is flying by. Everyone’s moving at a million miles an hour during the Holidays of Thanksgiving to Christmas to New years. Year after year the cycle repeats itself and can, over time, create what was supposed to be a very enjoyable time to be a very unenjoyable time of year. So what are we to do? Slow down. I know you’ve probably heard this before, but sometimes people need to hear things repeatedly before they finally take action. Hopefully this is the last time you need to hear it before you actually take action: Slow Down. Below I’ve listed a few areas in our life that definitely need slowing down this time of year.

1. Slow down the phone

We all get too wrapped up in our phones. They’re almost like the worst thing and best thing that have happened to our generation (slight exaggeration here). Just look around the next time you’re at a restaurant or at some other public place – everyone is on their phone. Look around at the Christmas gatherings you’ll probably be attending – again, everyone on their phones. So the other day I decided to put down my phone and be very intentional of the time I had with my daughter. I didn’t try to get the perfect photo of my daughter, or try take a video of her kissing a piece of bacon. We actually went outside and all I did was sit there and watched her as she explored our backyard. Sure she ate not one but two handfuls of dirt from our garden, but it was fun to just hang out with her, let time slow down and not be on my phone obsessed with trying to capture that perfect moment of her to post on instafacetwitter. Now you may be saying well Randall I don’t have kids so I have nothing to do other than hang out on my phone and look at Instagram or play a super addicting game. But I challenge you to try to actually do nothing still. Just sit there. Go outside and do nothing. Get a bon fire going and just hang out, look at the stars, watch the birds, just sit. The only way to actually slow down, is to do just that – slow down.

2. Slow down the TV

Now sitting around watching Christmas movies is something I love to do with my wife, so I’m not suggesting to do away with the TV all together. I’m suggesting to just not let it be the only thing you do with your free time this Christmas season, because before you know it 4 hours flew by and all you did was watch Home Alone 1 & 2. Now what else could you do with that 4 hours? A lot of things actually:

  1. Go on a walk with your loved ones to look at Christmas lights.
  2. Sit around and play old school Words With Friends, aka Scrabble.
  3. Read Christmas stories.
  4. Take your kids to a park.
  5. Sing Christmas songs.

Just try to do something that’s outside of the norm, doesn’t include your tv, phone or computer, and creates new memories for you and your kids to remember.

3. Slow down the cooking

There’s a reason fast food is called fast food. Because it’s… fast. Food shouldn’t be fast. Food should always be slow and this time of year we really need to harness that. Instead of being wrapped up on buying a million gifts that no one needs or trying to run around to different parties, how about you just stay home, order from Amazon and cook something slow. Look around for recipes that take all day to roast or maybe finally take the time to try out cooking that recipe you’ve been wanting to try like this one or this one, that you otherwise don’t have “time” to cook. And do this activity with a loved one or your kids. Make these really good cookies with your kids instead of just buying a box of fast made wheat and soy filled cookies from the store. Just make it fun and slow. Enjoy the extra time we have this time of year and really dive into the kitchen.

4. Slow down and sleep

Sleep is important. Not sure if you know that. We need 7–9 hours of sleep. It’s not really a suggestion, there’s good evidence showing that we need this much sleep. So what better time to actually practice this good habit other than Christmas and New Years break where we have a few extra days off, or maybe you (lucky) have 2 straight weeks off. Just be sure that if you’re still sucked into your phone and tv to wear blue blocking glasses or install f.lux on your computer so that you don’t throw off your circadian rhythm. I know it sounds hippy, but it’s a real thing. The more we keep looking at blue light when we’re trying to go to bed, the more we’re telling our brain it’s daytime when it’s actually 10pm.

Slowing down may look completely different for you and your family but these are just some ways I see my life being effected by not slowing down. If you have any other ideas on how you can slow down feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas!

That’s So Primal 2015 Christmas Gift Guide

That's So Primal 2015 Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is just around the corner, and I thought it was about time I compiled a list of things you can ask for or get for that Primal person in your life. I know, Christmas isn’t about consumerism and gifts, but we can’t escape the fact that people will still be buying gifts, so why not point people in the right direction of some gifts we can give and receive that will improve our lives and the lives of those around us?

The list is developed so that you can think of the kind of people in your life that you’ll be getting gifts for. There’s that person in your life that you know needs better sleep or hates waking up or maybe you just want to help someone out on their Paleo journey and get them started with a simple Paleo cookbook. The items below are to spark ideas and most of them I already own and can attest to their ability to help with the things I point out. Enjoy!

Phillips Wake Light

For those who have a hard time waking up

Phillips Wake-Up LightAmazon

I have the older version of this, but the concept is the same. It emulates the sunrise so that you can wake up naturally as your circadian rhythm is designed to wake you up. This wake light will start to emulate light 30 minutes before you set your designated wake up time, and will gradually increase brightness over the next 30 minutes. No joke, this has helped me wake up better and deters you from that cycle of your phone going off and hitting snooze over and over – which has been proved to not improve the quantity or quality of your sleep.

Slack line

For those who wanna do something fun in the backyard


Maybe getting home from work and plopping down in front of the TV or computer is your thing, but maybe you should change what your thing is – or maybe you know someone and that’s their thing. Slacklines are a fun thing to do right in your backyard. I’ve been begging my wife to get one for me for a couple years, but our problem is we don’t have big trees and our ground is really tough to put an anchor in the ground – but I have hope that maybe this is the year I look out the backyard Christmas morning and I see a beautiful taught slackline spanning my grass…


For those who love water


I hate going to a restaurant and asking for water and they end up bringing a tiny dixie cup full of water. I’m not sure what part of “I’d like water to drink” means “I want a smaller quantity of liquid to drink than somebody who orders a Coke to drink”. As you can tell I’m passionate about bringing my own water to everything: restaurants, movies, weddings, Disneyland – just about everything. I like to drink water and I hate when I get handed a tiny cup when I forget my Nalgene and have to ask for water.

Pressure Cooker

For those who don’t want to wait all day for pulled pork

Instant PotAmazon

Here’s another thing I don’t have yet but I would love one. Nom Nom Paleo always touts their ability and I would love to have one so I don’t have to wait 24+ hours for her Kalua Pig recipe. These would even be great for speeding up bone broth a little bit. A definite must for those of us who are always pressed for time in the kitchen but want the benefits of a slow cooked meal. It’s like a cooking time machine (except it doesn’t contain a flux capacitor).

Mandoline Slicer

For those who want to make homemade chips

Mandolin SlicerAmazon

No matter how great of a cook you are, slicing a sweet potato with a Chef’s Knife thin enough to make chips is a little difficult. You might end up hurting yourself. Having a mandolin slicer in the kitchen is always a nice thing to have, especially if you’re trying to make some homemade sweet potato chips fried up in coconut oil.

Squatty Potty

For those who love to poop

Squatty PottyAmazon

This thing is no joke. You need to watch this commercial then come back to reading this.

Ok now that you watched that I want to let you know that this thing really works. My poops get done in less than 30 seconds. I got one last year for my birthday from my brother and sister in law. At the time they made fun of me but bought it for me anyway. They ended up breaking down and bought one for themselves and now they swear by it. If you don’t buy anything else on this list but this, your poop life will be revolutionized. I promise. Money back guarantee.

Moov Now

For those who love to track everything

Moov NowAmazon

There are a bunch of fitness trackers out there and there will continue to be more as the years go on but this one is one of the best ones out right now. It doesn’t need to be charged, it runs on a watch battery. Also, it seems to be the only tracker other than the Misfit Shine Speedo that tracks swimming, down to speed of flip turns! Pretty amazing tech in this fitness tracker other than just tracking steps, it also has a built in fitness coach. If you’re in the market for a fitness tracker for either you or someone else I suggest getting them a Moov Now or the Misfit Shine Speedo.

Swiss Army Knife

For those who want their everyday carry to open cans

Swiss Army KnifeAmazon

Everyone should carry around a pocket knife. I use it for all sorts of things but primarily opening cans of tuna at lunch. Early on going Primal I didn’t have a pocket knife and I forgot can openers when I would bring my lunch to work. It led to afternoons where I was starving! Now that I bring this with me everywhere I go I no longer worry about not having a way to open my protein at lunch.

Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals

For those starting out on Primal

Quick & Easy MealsAmazon

This is the book my wife bought a few years back that got me hooked on Primal, but it also got me hooked on cooking in general. The meals are so easy to prepare and cook that even if you’re new or someone you know is new to the kitchen, will help them feel comfortable preparing tasty and nutritious meals for them and their family.

Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation

For those who start diets in January

21 Day ChallengeAmazon

Everyone starts a new diet in January. It’s the thing to do, but it rarely sticks. That’s why the gyms are packed in January and eventually taper off near February – because people start a diet but don’t follow through. This book will help those who normally fail at a diet – follow through. This book helped me lose 30 lbs 3 years ago and I still keep off the weight, all the while eating copious amounts of fat, meat, veggies, fruit, dark chocolate and nuts.

There it is folks. The first That’s So Primal Christmas Guide. Hopefully some of these ideas can jumpstart your gift giving and point you in the right direction of how to spend your hard earned cash on things that will help you live a healthier and more Primal lifestyle.