Category Archives: Nutrition

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Find all the essential ingredients for Korean Paleo cooking to make the most delicious and bold flavored dishes in the cookbook, Korean Paleo.

Necessary Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Hi friends! If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen that my very first cookbook, Korean Paleo, is finally published and out in the world! It’s pretty much all I’ve been talking about and I’m so excited to share my favorite recipes I grew up with you guys.

While all the recipes are 100% grain free, gluten free, and made with real food, there are several special ingredients for Korean cooking that give this cuisine its wonderfully bold and umami flavor. You may not be familiar with all the ingredients, and some you may not even have heard of before, so I thought I would go through some of the necessary staple items to stock up on so you can cook from the book with ease.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-6

Before I start, I encourage you to have an open mind when cooking any cuisine that’s new to you. You may feel uncomfortable about handling certain ingredients, but keep in mind that they are what give the wonderful taste to so many traditional dishes and these cooking methods have been passed down from generation to generation!

Avoiding Processed Ingredients in Korean Cooking

Cooking Korean Paleo is slightly different than just Korean. There are some minor substitutions to make so the dishes are grain free and gluten free.

While traditional Korean cooking is quite healthy and anti-inflammatory with various fermentation methods, many sauces and condiments these days are made with wheat flour, corn, high fructose corn syrup, and shady preservatives to cut down on time and cost.

So while the ingredients that I used in Korean Paleo are shortcut-free, they are so much healthier, cleaner, and won’t give you digestive issues if you have food sensitivities!

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-pin

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

You can find most of these ingredients if you have an Asian or Korean market near you. But in case you don’t, I am including links to where you can purchase them online! No matter where you are, I love that we all have relatively easy access to so many unique flavors with online shopping.

You can find a detailed list of all the special ingredients on pages 185-187 of the cookbook in the section called “Stocking Up Your Korean Paleo Kitchen.”

Condiments

Apple cider vinegar (or coconut vinegar): Koreans usually use rice vinegar in their cooking, which I give the option to use in the cookbook. Rice vinegar is actually quite harmless, but if you are ultra sensitive to grains, the 2 types of grain free vinegars that most resemble the slightly sweet taste are apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar.

Coconut aminos: If you’ve been cooking paleo for a while, you probably have coconut aminos in the kitchen! It’s an amazing soy sauce substitute that’s made from the sap of the coconut and has a slightly sweeter flavor than soy sauce (used in SO many Korean dishes) without grains or gluten.

Paleo Doenjang on page 177 of Korean Paleo

Doenjang: This is a Korean version of miso paste. While Japanese miso paste is usually fermented with another grain other than soybeans, a true, authentic doenjang only uses soybeans and salt. The process of making doenjang is quite labor intensive so it’s extremely difficult to find a clean version (the only ones I found are this one and this one). Feel free to purchase them if you can consume fermented soy. But if not, I have a 100% grain free version on page 177 of the cookbook that tastes a lot like the real deal!

Fish sauce: High quality, fermented fish sauce is packed with umami and adds such an amazing flavor to so many dishes in the cookbook. The ingredients should just be fish and salt, with no other fillers or sugars. The only brand I recommend that’s high in quality with an amazing taste is Red Boat.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking-pin

Gochugaru: Since many Korean dishes have some level of spiciness to them, gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes, are used quite often and this is something you definitely have around if you are making Korean food often. There are two types of gochugaru: coarse flakes and fine powder. You can use coarse flakes in most Korean cooking to add flavor to dishes. The fine powder version is used to make gochujang in the cookbook, spicy and slightly sweet red chili paste that’s also ubiquitous in Korean cooking.

Gochujang: A thick and sticky red chili paste used in marinades, soups and stews, sauces and more, gochujang is made with fine gochugaru, glutinous rice, and some kind of sweetener. This is one of the higher quality ones I’ve seen, but for a truly grain free version that tastes just like the real deal, you can make your own on page 174 of the cookbook.

Saewoojeot: With this one, I really want to emphasize you to keep an open mind. Saewoojeot is basically tiny shrimp that’s been salted and fermented and it adds a ton of flavor to dishes, much like fish sauce. It should have just 2 ingredients: shrimp and salt. I couldn’t find anywhere online where you can order it, but you can easily find clean versions at Asian markets. If you don’t have access to these markets, just substitute saewoojeot with fish sauce in your cooking! This is what it looks like:

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Other Special Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Dried Anchovies: Called myeolchi in Korean, dried anchovies are used in so many different ways in Korean cooking and they come all different sizes as well. The kind you need to cook from Korean Paleo is  the large dried ones, which are used to make stock for soups and stews. It adds such a unique depth of flavor, and many soups and stews wouldn’t taste the same without it. While it may look a little freaky if you’ve never handled it before, you actually don’t eat it whole in my recipes, and it’s just simmered in stock for flavoring then discarded afterwards.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

Seaweed: There are actually 3 different types of seaweed used Korean Paleo so it can be a bit confusing. Here’s how I label each in the cookbook, and what they are referring to so you can choose the correct kind in the recipes:

  • TwiGak (Sweet Fried Kelp Chips) on page 167 of Korean Paleo

    Dried kelp (or dashima in Korean and kombu in Japanese): These are thick and flat large sheets of seaweed that come in a big rectangle in various sizes. They are not easily bendable and you have to cut them with kitchen shears to break them up. A large piece of it is used to a delicious and flavorful stock by simmering it in water with spices and dried anchovies. I also have a delicious and crunchy snack called TwiGak (Sweet Fried Kelp Chips) on page 167 of the cookbook!

  • Dried seaweed (or mareun miyeok in Korean and wakame in Japanese): This is a different type of seaweed than kelp. While kelp is thick and flat, mareun miyeok is thin and stringy and comes shriveled up. You soak it in water before using it and it’ll expand in size and soften. You then using it to make soups like Miyeok Guk (Seaweed Soup) on page 67 or in side dishes like Miyeok Muchim (Seaweed Salad) on page 122 of the cookbook.
  • Dry unseasoned seaweed sheets (or gim in Korean or nori  in Japanese): This is probably the type of seaweed you may be the most familiar with. The roasted and flavored versions that are cut into mini rectangles are quite popular these days as seaweed snacks (I have a homemade version on page 129 of the cookbook!), but they can be used for various recipes as seasoning, for Korean sushi (page 15 of the cookbook, and more. You can purchase these online.

Kimchi: Probably the most popular and famous Korean food of all, kimchi is eaten alone or can be used in so many different recipes. Be cautious when you purchase kimchi from a store. Many of them are thickened with rice or wheat flour, and sometimes contain questionable sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and MSG as well. Your best best is to make it at home using clean ingredients. I have a delicious quick kimchi recipe on page 173 of the cookbook that’s flavorful and packed with probiotics. If you don’t want to make your own, you can try this brand.

Nigari for tofu making: You need these special salt flakes to make just one recipe from my cookbook, paleo Hemp Tofu on page 181. While it’s not necessary if you are not a fan of tofu, tofu is used quite often in Korean cooking and it was one of my proudest moments to be able to make tofu without soy or any grains. Nigari is used to firm and solidify the tofu and this is the cleanest version I found that works really for my recipe. And don’t forget to grab this tofu mold which is the exact one I used to make my paleo tofu!

Grab Your Copy of Korean Paleo!

I hope this list of ingredients for Korean paleo cooking was helpful for you to start cooking from my book! I know you may not be familiar with some of these ingredients, but purchasing them and trying them out in various recipes is the quickest way for you to get over your fear of using them and you’ll be familiarized with them in no time. I think you’ll love all the different and interesting textures and flavors that they impart.

Essential Ingredients for Korean Paleo Cooking

If you have any questions about the ingredients or the cookbook, leave me a comment below! I’m happy to answer any of your questions. And if you end up cooking up from Korean Paleo, please share on social media with the hashtag #KoreanPaleoCookbook!

Grab Your Copy of Korean Paleo!

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

My Experience With Everlywell Women’s Health Test

Read my honest review of Everlywell Women’s Health Test, and how I applied the results to improve my PMS symptoms, anxiety, sleep, and other hormonal health issues!

Everlywell Women's Health Test

Hey friends! So many of you appreciated my review of Everlywell’s at-home Food Sensitivity Test, and the results from it were so helpful in me pinpointing exactly what was causing my symptoms and alleviating them with an elimination diet.

To further improve my health after some recent issues I’ve been dealing with, I thought it would be wise to take another test to see how my hormones were doing. I ended up taking the Women’s Health Test and I want to share my experience with you, in case you were curious about doing something similar.

Why I Chose Everlywell Women’s Health Test

If you’ve been following me along on the blog for a while, you know I’ve gone through several hormonal health issues in the past and it’s one of the reasons why I’m so careful about the food I eat and the products I use on my skin. I had a long period recovering from adrenal fatigue, suffering from stress-induced hypothyroidism for a few years, and not having my period for several years after I went off of hormonal birth control.

I’ve been slowly recovering for the past several years by taking extra caution to take care of my health, but there are still some issues that linger that seem to be hormone-related, like:

  • not sleeping well at night,
  • being super sensitive to stress,
  • intolerance to cold at all times,
  • painful menstrual cramps,
  • anxiety,
  • and being easily fatigued.

It was time for me to tackle these issues and see where I currently stand, and the hormones measured by Everlywell Women’s Health Test seemed to be the ones that would be the most helpful to know. With the positive experience I had with Everlywell taking the Food Sensitivity Test, I decided to try out the Women’s Health Test as well.

Test Process

Everlywell does a really great job of making their at-home tests easy to take with simple step-by-step instructions, as well as a video tutorial, to help guide you through the entire process. Once you order the test through their website, you get it in in the mail and the kit has everything you need, as well as a prepaid shipping label to send it back to their lab.

The first thing you do is to register your kit online so you can receive updates about your shipping and test results. Then, I had to collect 2 blood samples and 4 saliva samples within 18 days of my cycle. I actually couldn’t take the test for a few weeks after receiving it because you have to wait until day 3 or 4 of your menstrual cycle to take the first blood collection. Here is the schedule for the samples you take:

  • Day 3-4 of menstrual cycle: take first blood sample
  • Day 19-21 of menstrual cycle: take 2nd blood sample + 4 saliva samples (in the morning, at noon before lunch, before dinner, and before bed)

Taking the blood sample

Everlywell Women's Health Test

The blood samples were actually easier for me to take because I’m not afraid of needles and I’ve gone through the same process with the Food Sensitivity Test. They provide alcohol swabs, a few lancets, bandaids, and a blood collection card that you have to fill with your blood samples. You pierce the end f your finger with the lancet provided and fill 6 circles on the collection card, and that’s it.

Taking the saliva sample

I found it a bit more challenging to provide saliva samples, especially the first sample of the day which you have to collect in the largest tube within 30 minutes of waking up before food and water. I honestly didn’t feel like I had enough saliva to fill up the large tube first thing in the morning so it was a bit of an effort for me. The samples for the rest of the day were a bit easier because the tubes were smaller and my mouth wasn’t as dry as it had been in the morning.

Once you label the tubes, you can keep them in the freezer until you ship them out. When you have all the samples collected, you fill out a form that they provide. You input your personal information on the form and then you ship it out, along with all the samples, in the prepaid envelope that they provide. They then reach out to you once the results are ready.

The Results

I couldn’t believe it but my results were ready just 2 days after the lab received my samples!

The Everlywell Women’s Health Test measure 11 different hormones that are known to be instrumental in women’s health:

    • Cortisol

For the women’s reproductive system, as well as our overall health, to be functioning properly, all these hormones need to work together in a harmonious balance.

I got my results via email, and was able to look at them through the Everlywell online portal that you can access when you register your kit. You also have the the option to download the PDF version that you can print out to look over and/or share with your doctor. Here’s what it looked like at a glance:

Just from looking at the color code next to each hormone, I was fairly within the normal range for most the most part. I was actually thrilled to see that my cortisol was at a normal range throughout the day, because I’ve had blood sugar issues in the past which now seem to have normalized. I was also very happy about my thyroid numbers (free T3, free T4, TSH, and TPO antibodies) being well within the normal range, because I suffered from hypothyroidism for a little over a year during my worst days of adrenal fatigue

However, the red dot next to Estradiol and yellow dot next to Progesterone/Estradiol Ratio gave me pause, although I wasn’t surprised by them.

I knew that because of my past of chronic stress and how sensitive I am to stress still, that my estrogen levels would be higher than normal. Estrodiol is one of the 4 main estrogens occurring in women and it is the most predominant one. Estrogen dominance is a common health issue in the modern world because of everyday stressors, environmental toxins, and the harmful chemicals prevalent in the personal care products we use.

Here’s what showed when I clicked on each of these hormones:

everlywell women's health testeverlywell women's health test

Beyond these explanations, Everlywell gave some basic tips to regain my hormonal health like making changes to my diet, and more importantly for me, managing my stress. It’s something I struggle with the most so I wasn’t surprised to see this recommendation:

everlywell women's health test

While the rest of the hormones were within the normal range, I still looked them over to see if they were within the high or low ranges of normal just to make sure. Thankfully, my levels looked really good for the rest.

In addition to the practical recommendations, Everlywell also suggested various articles that I may want to check out about different hormonal health conditions like thyroid disorders, testosterone levels in women, PCOS, and more, which I found interesting and helpful. Even if they didn’t directly apply to me, I loved learning a bit more about various conditions and it also kept me aware of how I can keep my hormones healthy and happy.

Lifestyle Changes I Made Since the Test

After learning that I am estrogen dominant from the Everlywell Women’s Health Test, I decided to take further action to help regulate my hormones. It became clear to me that my stress level was a huge contributor to a variety of health issues I was dealing with.

Here are some actions I’ve taken to reduce stress in my life:

  • Meditation at the end of the day for 10 minutes.
  • Trying to journal everyday. Writing down my thoughts like what’s giving me anxiety and what I’m thankful for each day has been such a game changer.
  • Working smarter. Instead of trying to multitasking or doing all the things at once, I’ve been better about breaking up my tasks and doing one thing at a time. I’ve also been putting away my phone when I work so I’m not distracted by social media and notifications.
  • Giving myself weekends. It’s difficult as a business owner and as someone with a type A personality to stop working when you have free time. This one is still hard for me, but I’ve been trying to put work aside and give myself time to do nothing when I need it.
  • Cleaning up my personal care products. I started doing this a long time ago and I’m so glad that I did. Turning to safer brands like Beautycounter who make amazing products without harmful chemicals that disrupt our hormones has been the best decision.
  • Taking chaste tree supplements. Chaste tree supplements are amazing for PMS symptoms, estrogen dominance, and hormonal imbalance. I’ve been taking this one for about 2 weeks now, and I’m excited to report that my latest period cramps and pain have been significantly diminished! I plan to keep taking it for 3 months. Please consult with your doctor before taking this, especially if you are taking exogenous hormones.

Take the Test Yourself!

If you are having hormonal issues like menstrual cramps, irregular periods, low sex drive, hair loss, infertility, depression, and/or insomnia, Everlywell Women’s Health Test is an easy-to-use and comprehensive test that lets you get a snapshot of your hormonal health by testing out the levels of your various hormones. The test is easy to take with well written instructions to help you guide you through the process.

I’m honestly so glad I was able to take this test and see how my hormonal health was doing. I knew that I needed to take action because I was going through several symptoms which I mentioned earlier in this post, but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong with me and what I specifically needed to do to improve my health. The test has been such a great tool, and I plan to take it again in the future to see if and how much my numbers improve.

Ready to take the test yourself?

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE EVERLYWELL WOMEN’S HEALTH TEST!
Take 15% Off All Orders with code GRANDMA15.

This post contains affiliate links. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

5 Things I Do For Better Sleep (Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep!)

Learn the 5 things I do that help so much with getting better sleep every night and have drastically improved the quality and length of my sleep! 

Sleep Better

I am not a good sleeper. I’m so so jealous of people like my husband who can sleep anywhere anytime without a care in the world. But me? I have anxiety issues that keep me up and are much worse when I’m stressed or my diet is high in sugar.

And if I can fall asleep easily, I would wake up way too early around 3 or 4am without being able to go back to sleep. My mind would race and I’ll think of all the things i have to do or just worry about things that were not within my control. And if this continues for a few nights (TORTURE), it would spiral into depression, low energy, and loss in productivity as my brain health would decline. I’m sure many of you who have suffered from insomnia before could relate. It’s no fun at all.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried out various methods to help myself get better sleep, some that worked and some that didn’t. And some that would work at first but stop once my body got adjusted to that new method. However, there are a few habits were consistently effective and they have helped me so much with improving my sleep.

Of course, keeping a healthy diet, eating low in sugar, and managing your stress help tremendously, but besides those obvious tips, here are my top 5 things I incorporate to ensure that I get a good night’s sleep, meaning I fall asleep easily and stay asleep throughout the night.

1. Epsom salt bath

What at first was just a feel-good self care activity for me is a non-negotiable these days if I had a stressful or energizing day. Magnesium epsom salt baths are known to relax your muscles, decrease inflammation, improve circulation, heal skin issues, and more!

I usually take a bath after finishing up work either before or after dinner, to mark the end of the day. I love having a specific nighttime routine to signal my body that it’s time to unwind. I usually pour in 2 cups of Epsom salt (I get this bulk size) in a tub full of warm to hot water with several drops of lavender essential oil.

Bath Time-Sleep Better

I make a ritual out of it by turning down the lights, lighting up candles, and putting on some relaxing meditation music. It’s such an enjoyable activity that relaxes my mind and body, and I definitely get a better night’s sleep afterwards. It’s actually quite difficult for me to do anything that takes even a moderate amount of physical or mental strength right after an epsom salt bath because it lowers my energy drastically, so I like to plan my chores and activities accordingly.

2. Reduce inflammatory foods

One of the best decisions I made in the past year was taking the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test to find out what foods were inflaming my body. I was going through some uncomfortable bloat and digestive issues that were caused by what I was eating, along with sleep issues. When I took the test and eliminated the foods I was sensitive to like eggs and green beans, it was like my body could finally relax and get better sleep throughout the night without its immune system being attacked.

When we have food sensitivities, our body can react in a variety of ways from hives, digestive issues, acne, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, to weight gain. Interference of sleep is another huge symptom as our body cannot fully relax while being inflamed. And inflammation is also a stressor on the body, which affects our blood sugar level to spike and drop, keeping us awake in the middle of the night.

If you are experiencing these food sensitivity symptoms, I highly recommend you find out what foods may be bothering you through an elimination diet or taking a test. You can read all about my experience with Everlywell testing here. My 12% discount is still live if you want to use it:

Use the code EVERLY at checkout for 12% off Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test!

3. Eat more carbs for dinner

One of the reasons why you may wake up way too early in the morning around 3-4am without being able to go back to sleep is there may be a drop in you blood sugar level. This can happen because your body is going through stress, you have food sensitivities (see #2 above), you drank alcohol the day before, or you have a diet that’s high in processed sugars.

One of the ways to combat this is to reduce inflammatory foods like alcohol and sugar. Also, for those of you who eat a low carb diet, increasing your carb intake during dinner may help cause drowsiness and and help you sleep. This has helped tremendously for me. I usually eat low in carbs during the day, but will increase my intake for dinner to a moderate amount.

Carbs help lower cortisol, the stress hormone, while synthesizing seratonin, that feel good, calming neurotransmitter. It also prolongs the release of insulin, helping you stay asleep. Make sure to stick with healthy, real food carbs like fruits, white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables.

4. CBD tea and other relaxation techniques

It seems like CBD is a new emerging health trend, and with good reason. Unlike THC, CBD alone doesn’t give you that high feeling associated with smoking or ingesting marijuana. When isolated and taken alone, it’s known to have so many calming benefits like relieving inflammation and pain, reducing anxiety, relieving nausea, and giving that relaxing feeling we need at night for a good night’s sleep.

I’ve recently been drinking CBD teas from Buddha Teas after dinner, and it really has been helping with promoting that calming and happy feeling. My favorite is the Organic CBD Chamomile Blend because chamomile is known for its calming effects, which make the tea extra beneficial for promoting sleep.

CBD tea

In addition, I incorporate other relaxation techniques. After dinner, I refuse to do any kind of work or anything that requires intense focus on my computer or my phone. Some people avoid screens altogether, but I find that watching TV relaxes me and helps me with my sleep. I also meditate after dinner for 10 minutes, and depending on how my body is feeling, I’ll also do some at-home cupping (more about the amazing benefits of cupping here) or I’ll lay on my electronic massager which always feels amazing. I use this massage pillow, and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made and I highly recommend it!

 5. WishGarden Sleepy Nights

Okay, I’ve tried soooo many supplements and drugs to help me sleep when I really needed it. Sometimes they are necessary especially during traveling or stressful times. I’ve found that things like melatonin and valerian root will work well for the first few times and then my body will get adjusted to them and they aren’t as effective anymore. Anything stronger that you can get over-the-counter will put me out but I’ll be so groggy with a headache and dehydration the next day.

After many trials and errors, one thing that always works for me consistently is WishGarden’s Sleepy Nights formula. Made with a clean herbal blend to promote sleep, I’ll take this before going to bed and it literally works in 15-20 minutes. I can’t even keep my eyes open when it’s in full effect. And the best part is that I wake up so refreshed without feeling tired and heavy like I do on other supplements I’ve tried.

Sleepy Nights SupplementNot only that, WishGarden also has this formula for kids or pregnant women that you can check out here. They are also having a 20% discount with free shipping for all domestic orders for a limited time so I highly recommend you go check it out!


I hope these tips and habits that I’ve fallen into help you with getting better sleep at night. Of course, our bodies are all different, so what may work for me may not work for you. However, I think we should keep trying new things until we find something that’s consistently effective. It took me years to find what works for me after trying countless methods, so don’t lose hope! Getting quality sleep makes a tremendous difference on our health, mood, productivity and happiness.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
 
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.