My Quest to Eradicate Cheddar and Become a Healthier Me

My New Favorite Thing:

While I have always enjoyed writing, I have placed pressure on myself to produce in a way to get a response in return (likes, shares, comments, verbalizations from peers, etc).  Usually this pressure results in freezing my writing efforts  because I worry that I do not have a solid focus or direction. I start treating it like a private enterprise where I must be the best with some form of profit as the goal. This typically disgusts me, so I give up. I have written in a just a few journals in my lifetime, some handwritten, some app journals. But I never stayed consistent with them. That was until (and let’s see if this lasts….I think I can!) I found I love this site! It isn’t complicated, and it has somehow motivated me to write 750 words every day for the past 30 days.  I try to type first thing in the morning, as that is the premise of the site, based upon the morning pages concepts birthed from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. However, on some days I type later. I basically spill my soul, random thoughts, worries, joys, and mostly confusion into what I write. I love this because it is private and doesn’t have the component of pressure associated with it. I don’t have to care about redundancy, using too many clichés, run-on sentences, fragments, or how others may perceive my feelings/thoughts/incidents. I can be authentic, yet I still feel like that the site is my non-judgmental audience. Sometimes I even address the website itself while writing/typing. That’s the other thing, I prefer typing to handwriting. For one, physically writing has become physically painful for my hands, which is embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. I also feel like I better express myself while typing, so there’s that.

This site is free for 30 days, and then it is $5 a month. Yes, that kinda sux, but I feel that is a small amount to pay for the therapeutic value it provides me. The site also has some helpful features in which you can choose to participate. There are monthly challenges to write every day where you can set rewards and consequences for doing so or not doing so. You can also earn badges for writing  a certain amount of days in a row. Another feature analyzes what you write everyday. It provides quantitative data about your typing speed and number of distractions. It also analyzes your feelings, concerns, mindset, time orientation, primary sense, perspective, and tracks your frequently used words. Yes, you must take this with a grain of salt because it is automated, but I think it is a pretty interesting way of providing feedback.

I truly hope to continue writing on because it provides an outlet for writing, and it helps to get the day started because I am able to get everything (or most things) out of my brain. I am always appreciative when people provide various ways of motivating myself to do practically anything, so I hope this helps someone else out there!


On Celebrating Father’s Day without my Dad

Yes, it’s been awhile…and I admittedly have fallen on and off the proverbial wagon in terms of food and exercise multiple times in the past few months.  But instead, I have been reading a lot, processing my feelings about my dad’s death, and probably overthinking a little bit 🙂  I don’t know if I’m “back”, but I do know I need to say this:


I don’t want to care about Father’s Day.  I didn’t care about it immensely when I had a dad, so the idea of making it more important since he is gone seemed contrived.  Of course we would celebrate by going out to dinner or just spending time together as a family.  But for some reason it never seemed to fit.  When shopping for father’s day cards or gifts, I always rolled my eyes at the cards with references to tools or sports or golf.  If there was a card about the best traffic routes, I would have struck gold.  Slap that on a box full of socks, and that’s as good as it got. How could it be that my dad fulfilled his American dream coming to the country in 1969, but he never fit the idea of the Hallmark American man?  That disconnect always bothered me, but I never spoke of it because…well…it just wasn’t fitting.  I usually settled for a card with a shirt, tie, and a funny joke.  Nothing too emotional.

It took me over a year after my dad died to truly bawl my eyes out about losing him.  But what is incredible to me is that I am most sad about the man I didn’t know.  I saw the type of husband and father he was through my own lens, but I never really knew what he was like before I was born, how him and my mom experienced each other when I wasn’t around, or his inner thoughts about having children.  I could never grasp how he truly FELT.  But he DID a lot, and that’s how I felt his love. I don’t even know or think he realized it, but his loving roots were clear.
This isn’t a plea to others to get to know their dad better, say how they really feel more frequently, or delve into the psychological underpinnings of their father-child relationship.  Honestly, while I do wish I knew him better, I am not upset that I didn’t because that’s just how things were.  How can I wish that I did something when the circumstances at that time didn’t bring about that call to action?  I have spent plenty of my life being upset with myself for a myriad of reasons, but I don’t blame myself for this.  Doing so would undermine my identity in my past, and I don’t have the capacity for that level of self-hate.  And now, I am who and how I am because of his death. Because I can now better understand how our relationship served me as an individual and what his everyday habits, movements, frequent sayings, and frequent naps meant for my family.  Patterns of individuals are so pervasive, but not only for them. They manifest and meld into our own habits of communication, expectations, judgments, and hopes.
He was a pretty simple guy, but that included being emotionally closed off and extremely routined.  But I won’t ever forget how he used to sleep next to my captain’s bed sitting up all night when I would scream from a dream, how he militantly taught me to ride a bike by following an infinity shaped chalked line on the pavement in our backyard, and watching him systematically making his chutney sandwiches for the week at the kitchen table while my brother and I did the same.  It really pissed me off that he “showed” me how to write legibly after I got an “N” for “Needs Improvement” for my handwriting in grade school when his everyday handwriting was horrific.  My fear of him threatening to send me to community college after getting a C during my first quarter at a top-tier school trumped my embarrassment in high school after he said there was to be no “hanky panky” when I went to the movies with a bunch of girlfriends and ONE boy.  But his patience waiting in jewelry stores and fabric stores for my mom was admirable.  His quirkiness for being debilitatingly uncomfortable wearing a shirt without a collar was adorable. He was an engineer, a son, husband, father, and a man who fit no mold.
So, I am writing this for Father’s Day because I figured it was time to be honest about it and him and me.  The way I miss my dad is even surprising to me, and I never thought the range of emotions I have experienced were even possible.  I will continue to bawl, reminisce, and wonder until I stop.  The best part is I finally realized that it might never stop, and that’s perfectly OK with me.
photo (17)


Well, it looks like I have been on an unintentional sabbatical from writing here.  I know I talked about re-branding my blog back in September, and then I disappeared!  I was posting to my Facebook page, but well, between my two international trips to Europe in August and Bolivia in October, my Paleo lifestyle kinda flew out the window.  So, guilt-ridden, my Cutting the Cheese persona went along with it.

The good news is, while I lost my way a bit in the nutrition world, I have started to find my way in the mindful world which is almost even better!  I have been eating up a lot of literature about mindfulness, meditation, attachment/detachment, etc, and I’ve also been eating up a lot of processed food (eek!).  But the great think about unintentionally swapping Paleo for spirituality of sorts is that I wasn’t beating myself up about the Paleo thing.  I love eating Paleo, it makes me feel AWESOME.  So let’s put it this way, when I don’t eat Paleo, my body punishes me enough with pimples, gas, muscle cramps, and sinus headaches.  Do I really need to beat myself up mentally?  First of all, fat shaming myself and others is incredibly harmful and sexist on many levels, check out Cranky Fat Feminist for some inspiration about that. Being mindful (NOT critiquing) of the way I’m thinking and feeling in any situation (food-related or not) has given me a way to examine my habits.  Where do they stem from? What do I exactly say to myself?  How do I react to other people/objects/situations/myself in these situations?  How do I cope or ‘fill’ myself?  With food? With TV? Talking to friends? Facebook? Clothes?  Wine? I am guilty of doing all of these, and I have done my best not to judge myself for that. Because, well…how does that help anyone?  Wait!  It helps the fat loss industry, my bad 🙂

Cynicism aside (kinda), as cheesy as it sounds, looking at myself, my feelings, and my actions has been so valuable in the past few months.  One can only wonder how beneficial that can be if done throughout a lifetime!  Well, that’s my intention going forward.  Looking at the ways I am broken has mended me.  I’m not encouraging anyone to dwell on the past by trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with them.  First of all, the binary notion of “right” and “wrong” is…well…wrong 😉  I just intend to express that we are beautiful in everyday, when we are heavier, lighter, depressed, joyous, eating Oreos, or eating kale.  With that behind said, here is a newfound quote (new for me) that expresses the above:

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

There was a woman I used to meet through some mutual friends, and when I asked how she was, she would say on multiple occasions, “I’m just sad”.  I just wanted to hug her, tell her not to be sad, talk about positive things in life, etc.   I don’t have this urge any longer.  While I would still love to give her a big hug, it would be in acceptance of her sadness, not because I desire to change her feelings.  We all have a right to feel the way we feel.  Sitting in our feelings is the single-most difficult yet transformative things we can do.  The process of emotions can be so painful, yet the outcome can be quite beautiful.

In my self-exploration, I have started to truly love myself in a way I didn’t know was possible.  And, a lot of it has been through not just examining myself, but observing others, staring at snowflakes, trudging through a snowstorm, working with a difficult client, locking my car keys in the car, listening to my mom talk about my dad who passed away a year ago…the list can go on.  Now how the hell does that make any sense?  Well, I have been seeing myself through the lens of other people, situations, objects, nature, while riding the bus, etc.  And I see that there is an interconnectedness to everything when I am in the company of others or isolated by myself.

My path is ever-evolving and always in transition (aren’t all of ours?), and I am falling in love with it because I don’t know where it will lead me. However, I am certain that it will have a positive impact in so many areas of my life, including health.  The idea of self-observation and self-love will hopefully allow me to be healthier in every aspect of my life whether it be food, exercise, self-talk, relationships with loved ones, and, most importantly,the relationship with myself.  I will falter, I will deviate, because that’s just part of it.

As I re-read what I have just written, I thought to myself “Wow, I sound like some New Age hippie!”.  Well, so be it.  This is where I am now, and I’m just happy to be.

Liebster Award

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers! So, what is a Liebster?  The meaning of the name:liebster is German for sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Isn’t that sweet? Blogging is about building community and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and help spread the word about newer bloggers/blogs. If you’re nominated for a Liebster, it’s an opportunity to answer the questions of the blogger who nominated you, and pass the fun on to someone else with nominations of your own.

I was nominated by Rachel at, and here are the 11 questions she asked me 🙂

  1. What’s your all-time favorite blog?
  2. If a movie was made about your life, which actor/actress would play you?  Nandita Das
  3. Sweet or salty? Sweet!
  4. If you could invite anyone for dinner, past or present, who would you choose?  Noam Chomsky
  5. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to learn?  How to sing well, haha
  6. Where is your favorite place you’ve lived?  Chicago (only place I’ve lived)
  7. What’s the best mistake you’ve made?  Working in IT consulting and IT recruiting
  8. What do you eat for breakfast? Eggs, avocado, bacon, and sauerkraut 🙂
  9. If you could make anyone the President of the United States, who would you select?  Cookie Monster
  10. What’s your favorite sport to watch and/or play?  Watch: football Play: None really
  11. What two words best describe you?  Caring and Determined

Now here are 11 random facts about myself:

1. I used to eat a LOT of Flintstone’s vitamins when I was a kid (see #3 above).

2. I’m obsessed with Swatch watches.

3. I really want to raise chickens and have bunnies.

4. I have never broken a bone (knock on wood!).

5. I met my husband online.

6. I HATE washing my hair (and drying it afterwards).

7. My favorite ice cream flavor is Mint Chocolate Chip.

8. I can never wear socks to sleep.  If I do, I will wake up with them magically removed.

9. I played badminton in high school – I was bad.

10. I can read and write in my native tongue (Gujarati) better than I can speak it.

11. I used to have the biggest crush on David Copperfield.

The bloggers I nominate are (it’s supposed to be blogs with fewer than 200 followers, but I just picked some blogs I enjoy):

1. Back to Backcountry

2. Jasmine’s Vision

3. Deep South Paleo

4. Felted Nest

5. You Don’t Look Sick

My questions for them! Tag, you’re it:

  1. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
  2. What job do you wish you could have even though it would drive you crazy?
  3. Do you have a favorite sport’s team? If so, who?
  4. What is a talent you have that most people don’t know?
  5. Do you dream in color or black and white?
  6. Morning person or night owl?
  7. What food/recipe do you make the best?
  8. What did you start learning at some point in your life, abandoned, and wished you finished learning?
  9. Do you plan ahead or carpe diem?
  10. What is your favorite book?
  11. If you had 24 hours to live, what is the first think you would do?

The Liebster Award rules are:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger
  2. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you
  3. Share 11 random facts about yourself
  4. List 5-11 bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers that you nominated to answer
  6. Let all of the bloggers know that they’ve been nominated

September Paleo Pen Pals Recipe

I’m so excited to post about my recent experience Paleo Pen Pals!  They match you up with another member of the Paleo community which provides such a fun interaction with someone you don’t know!  Basically, all you have to mail each other a Paleo ingredient and make a recipe from it!  I remember having pen pals in grade school and being so giddy when I would receive a letter from them.  This giddiness was felt again when I received my Paleo ingredient from Tanya at Feed the Clan 🙂 Her recipe using the star anise that I sent her is here.

I was pretty nervous to do this because, while I love sharing recipes, I haven’t exactly really created many on my own.  Sure, I’ve deviated from other recipes by adding or changing some ingredients, but I haven’t really come up with anything from scratch.  After stressing out about this (#firstworldproblems), I realized that maybe I can still tweak something I know about.  After all, isn’t that how people come up with some recipes in the first place?

So…here is what Tanya sent me:

Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

Tanya told me the Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey was from a local source in her area, which I loved!  I was so excited to see how I could use this in a recipe!  When I tasted it, I was reminded of the red chili powder that my mom often used in her many delicious Gujarati (state in India) dishes.  I’m not sure if it’s very different from what we get at the supermarket in the states, but that was my experience with it.  So basically, this powder was infused into honey and was quite yummy 🙂

I had some home-grown cabbage at home, and my mom had brought some beautiful purple and white carrots from a farmer’s market.  So I decided to make a Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots based off a Gujarati dish I ate growing up.  Usually, my mom never added any type of sweetener or carrots, so I was curious about how this would taste. This recipe can also be made without the carrots.

Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots

1.5 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup shredded carrots

3 cups shredded cabbage

2.5 tsp Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp sea salt

Dry roast the mustard seeds in a pan until they pop – this increases the mustard flavor in the dish. (You can also add sesame seeds to this if you’d like).  Heat oil in another pot or wok, and add mustard seeds and turmeric. Let it sizzle for a little bit so it’s mixed in well.  Add cabbage and carrots.  Mix this thoroughly so the turmeric covers the cabbage and carrots completely.  Add the honey.  Then cover until the cabbage is cooked but still a little crisp – about 10 min.  Add salt.

Finished product!

Finished product!

And VOILA!  You are done.  At first, I didn’t feel like I tasted the chile flavor.  And it still isn’t as strong as my mom’s, but the point is that it didn’t NEED to be spicy.  What’s really cool is that the honey flavor really makes it yummy and the spicy kick comes at the end.  This can be a great side dish with any meal.  You can also add some chicken, pork, or beef to this dish as well.  I’ve never done it, but I think it would be really great!

I hope you enjoyed my first real recipe 🙂  Paleo Pen Pals was such a fun experience that pushed me to be creative.  I will definitely be doing it again!

Re-branding Cutting the Cheese

No, I’m not re-launching my site or anything yet, but as my thoughts and experiences with my health journey evolve through the way I eat, move, and think, my vision for “Cutting the Cheese” has evolved as well.

Initially, my thought was to create a blog name that would be refer to Paleo and also be punny.  I think I succeeded.  I do have to give credit to a close friend that helped me out, so thank you Jasmy 🙂  Cheese is something I LOVE, so I thought it was a perfect fit! However, as I learned more about Paleo, I realized that, yes, in the strictest sense, dairy isn’t “allowed”.  But, as time went on, I stopped thinking of Paleo as a diet of restriction, and I started to see it as using food for nourishment.  So, given this change, I started introducing dairy in my meals. While I do feel some effects from dairy, I am unaffected in moderation.  So, I haven’t always had to “cut the cheese” out of my diet…however, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to do it figuratively 😉

As I have I started looking at Paleo from a different perspective, I decided to re-brand my blog through a different lens.  I believe most of us know what “Cutting the Cheese” means as an idiom.  If not, feel free to find out here.  The the meaning is funny in the sophomoric sense that many hate to love.  It provokes laughter with a bit of discomfort – literally and figuratively 🙂

Recently, I started a Facebook page to go along with my blog.  I tend to post a few times a day to this page by sharing some personal experiences as well as sharing information that I find helpful from other blogs/pages.  Sometimes I share recipes or just general information about the Paleo way of eating.  However, as I have mentioned before, I do see Paleo as a lifestyle.  At the same time, I see eating processed foods and treating certain physical ailments with drugs, and not nutrition, as a lifestyle too.  Paleo aside, I feel there are  obvious sociopolitical conflicts that serve to profit companies that the modern world just accepts.  This makes me uncomfortable…very uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I don’t want to believe it.  But I have to believe it.  The Food Pyramid, FDA guidelines, GMO’s, yadda yadda are all politically and economically motivated and most of us either want to ignore it, minimize it, or simply believe that the government and big food companies have our best interests at heart. As an individual, I cannot solely change the current political, economic, or food systems.  However, it would be silly for me to not recognize the motivation and manipulation of these systems.  If everyone realized how they were being manipulated, they would probably be uncomfortable.

Another area I have felt passionate about is self-love when it comes to body image and what we think about ourselves.  I have definitely struggled with body image in many ways that I hope to share in future posts.  In the past couple months, I have been able to move past a lot of my insecurities and get to a point where not only do I love myself and my body more than before, but I have also realized that I was making excuses about why I didn’t think I was insecure in the first place.  Again, this was uncomfortable.  Loving who I am, as I am, is uncomfortable.  Do I have a Victoria’s Secret model body? NO.  Have I lost as much weight as I would have initially liked? NO.  A year ago, these answers would have made me very uncomfortable.  But, I’m happy to say, that I’m much more happy in my skin, as is, than before.  Does that mean I don’t want to lose weight or that I don’t think I would be as attractive if I lost more weight? No, not at all.  My priorities have just changed.  My goal is health first, and, as Jason Seib says, to look “hot by accident”.

Lastly, I have started to make some changes in my daily routine to include meditation, prayer, and asking for help when I feel I need support in my life.  Stress management is a huge part of lifestyle and if affects our bodies immensely.  Here is a great summary about stress and adrenal fatigue: The Real Deal On Adrenal Fatigue by Robb Wolf.  Making changes to daily habits is difficult.  After all the Merriam-Webster definition of a habit is “a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way”.  So making changes in our busy, stress-filled lives, especially to slow down and let go of certain outcomes through mediation, prayer, or what have you,  is hard and uncomfortable, but it is also very beneficial.  I’m not talking about being a yogi and sitting on a mountain in lotus position.  These are changes you can make throughout the day in the comfort of your home, but, to do so, priorities have to change.

I’m evolving/re-branding this blog by pushing through uncomfortable barriers and becoming more aware, accepting, and comfortable being uncomfortable!  I still do plan to post recipes, etc to have some balance and fun 🙂

Enjoy and feel free to comment about this change!

And the winner is…

I used a random number generator to pick a winner for the It Starts with Food giveaway!

And the winner is….Rachel Ball!

Congratulations Rachel!  Send me a message on Facebook or email me at so I can send you the prize 🙂

Thanks for entering everyone!