Plants & Animals

Thanks to everyone who offered their advice yesterday, it means a lot! I took little bits and pieces of what you all said, and decided to take a few days off, but not too many, to hit a little reset button and make some new goals. Also you all reminded me that smaller accomplishments are just as important as the larger accomplishments, which I need to work on remembering!

Anyway, another thing I have been thinking about is my diet. This morning I was directed by a friend and fellow CrossFitter’s blog to a short article written by a CrossFit trainer about Paleo vs. vegan. He said that he had always coached his clients to eat Paleo, telling them that they would never be able to gain muscle without a diet full of meat, but then realized one day that he had never tried training on a plant-based diet and therefore was pretty much just preaching ignorance. He spent six weeks eating vegan (but still grain-free), and was surprised by how much energy he had, how well he performed, and especially that his body didn’t actually seem to need extreme amounts of meat in order to build muscle.

That article really got me thinkin. I have always talked about how I like the idea of eating Paleo, but it just seems like too much meat. I feel sluggish and heavy when I eat a lot of meat (like right now, since I had a piece of smoked salmon and about a cup and 1/2 of ground bison for lunch…), but have kind of felt obligated to eat Paleo since it’s such a CrossFit thing. But… I think the time has come for me to stop focusing my meals around the consumption of animal protein, at least for a while… and I am pretty excited about it.

First up on my list is to make more of this paleo granola. Holy crap this stuff is good. I don’t even eat it with milk, I just eat it like trail mix by the handful. But let me give you a tip: It only calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but I used more like 1/8 cup, and I would highly recommend that approach.

12 Favorite Paleo Recipes


I have finally come to the realization that making up original and interesting Paleo recipes from scratch is a lot harder than it sounds. Since meat + vegetable = paleo, I am not regularly inspired to get super creative about it. This limits my ability to share exciting recipes with you guys, because I feel like I shouldn’t be sharing recipes on my blog that are not my own creations.

So today I am going to share with you the links for my (in no particular order) 12 favorite Paleo recipes! Click the photos to be taken to the recipes.

1. Butternut Squash + Bison Shepherd’s Pie from Healthful Pursuit

2. Blueberry Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie from PaleOMG

3. Sweet Potato Hash from Amazing Paleo

4. Coconut Shrimp (ok I did actually make this one up)

5. Double Chocolate Energy Bites from PaleOMG

6. Venison Sausage from Cavewoman Cafe

7. Fried Green Tomatoes made with Almond Flour from Jan’s Sushi Bar

8. Zucchini Pesto Roll-Ups from PaleOMG

9. Moroccan Spiced Spaghetti Squash from Smitten Kitchen

10. Stir Fried Kale + Bacon from Nom Nom Paleo

 

11. Paleo Morning Glory Muffins from Carrots n Cake

12. Paleo Granola from Paleo Table

I’m sure a lot of you do your weekly grocery shopping on Sunday evenings like we do, so hopefully this will give you some new ideas for the week’s menu! And I’d love to know: What great Paleo recipes have I been missing out on?

 

 

Busy Recipes and a Giveaway

Let’s just cut to the chase because I know that very few of you are really as interested in the fact that I did a Hero WOD yesterday morning on an empty stomach and more interested in the fact that you can win free stuff just by being a creative fitness person, which I know that you all already are.

Starting tomorrow I am teaming up with Slim Kicker to give away a slow cooker! Slim Kicker is a super fun free fitness app/site that I’ve been using that helps me keep track of what I eat, because I always have my phone with me but definitely do not always have all of my colorful sharpies with me (sad but true).

The site also has fitness challenges, message boards, groups, and other ways to connect with people who have similar goals. Even though I am not a big calorie counter, I can put in the foods I eat and it will help me track my carbs/grains, sodium, sugar, etc, and I can work towards gaining points, which then can be turned into challenges where I can win prizes!

Check back tomorrow for more details, but here’s a hint: Go to their site, sign up and take a look at the “Challenges” section if you want to get a head start!

Slow cookers are the best. You spend 10 minutes the night before chopping up veggies and the next morning you dump everything in the pot without having to think about it, then you come home to your house smelling like grandma’s chicken and dumplings, regardless of what is actually in the slow cooker. I have had a crazy, crazy busy week so we dusted off our slow cooker this week and made a beef shoulder. The recipe goes something like this: Turn on the slow cooker on Low. Put the beef shoulder in. Add enough beef broth to mostly cover the shoulder, add about 1/2 of a cut-up onion and some garlic. Walk away and don’t come back for 6-8 hours.

Why have I been so busy, you ask? I got a new job (woo!) and this is my last week at my current job, which means I have been sweeping up all the old projects I’ve been putting off–like sending out long-forgotten newsletters, registering for far-off trade shows, and trying to organize my crap in a way that might be useful to some future version of me.

We have also gotten three WODs in so far this week, including Bull, a Hero WOD that we did yesterday morning. The WOD is 200 double unders, 50 OH squats (prescribed weight is 135-whaaaat? I can barely deadlift 135!), 50 pull-ups, and then 1 mile run. And then do it again. Yep, two rounds. I finished in 53:21 using 35 lbs, Brandon finished in 43:32 using 65 lbs. Only two guys from our gym finished the prescribed WOD, and they are the type with lats that might as well be a separate appendage on their bodies. It was hard.

Needless to say, I am psyched that Friday is on the horizon. And you should be psyched too, since the real giveaway starts tomorrow! What is your favorite slow cooker recipe? Mine is: Meat, some form of liquid, any vegetables, leave and don’t come back until it’s time to eat. Yum.

Paleo Spring Rolls, Lettuce Wraps, and Shepherd’s Pie

Editor’s Note: Becky shared a post with us a few weeks ago about the basics of paleo, and here is a little more info from her about her own experiences after starting to adapt the paleo lifestyle. She even included some great recipes that are very budget friendly, which is hard to find with paleo! You can check out more from her blog here.

Right off the bat I’m going to tell you I don’t eat strictly paleo. I eat mostly paleo though. I don’t eat gluten containing grains (wheat, rye, and barley), dairy, and processed or fried foods. This is basically paleo with a slight twist on the grains and one alcoholic drink every other day if I choose to drink. Also, I give myself two “rest meals” if I want them. These are two meals where I can eat dairy or gluten grains.

There have been pluses and minuses to being on this lifestyle diet, as I like to call it. I really love the fact that I have lost around 5 pounds of pure fat, which has been pretty hard for me because of my body type already. I feel so much better on a daily basis due to no gluten, no dairy, and the addition of probiotics. I generally don’t have a 2pm dragging feeling, and I know my metabolism is working because I can feel when I am hungry. I do like that this lifestyle diet allows for two meals to eat the items I avoid
all week, because sometimes you just need a piece of bread no matter how bloated it’s going to make you feel in two hours.

However, this change has not been easy. I started this lifestyle diet in February of this year and I am still struggling to perfect it. Honestly, the “rest meals” are a blessing and a curse. Once you taste what you don’t have you want more or at least that is the way I feel. This lifestyle diet does take a good amount of discipline. When you go out to eat with friends you can either choose to have your “rest meal” or you have to order with a ton of alterations. New recipes haven’t been too hard to find and alter, but you
have to do a good amount of work to get your recipe list built up to where you aren’t eating the same thing every week. Also, grocery bills have shot up quite a bit. I recently graduated college and $120.00 grocery bills are a little hefty when you aren’t making a good amount.

But honestly the pluses have outweighed the minuses by far. I feel better, look better (in my opinion), and I’m happy almost all the time. What could be better?! I have included a couple of my favorite recipes in order to help ya’ll (I’m from Texas so no laughing) on your roads to healthier eating and overall wellness.

Summer Spring Rolls

This recipe is on her blog as well, Click Here for some more pictures and other recipes she has posted.

I adapted this from a recipe I found at http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/cucumber-and-avocado-summer-rolls-with-mustard-soy-sauce.html. I added meat to get some protein in there and I actually put the mint in there at first, but it over powered every other flavor, so I took it out. Also, the sauce is wonderful without the brown sugar, so why add extra sugar to your meal? The rice papers are gluten free and everything is pretty low calorie. It definitely was an adventure to wrap up the rice papers, but if I can do it you can do it. They don’t have to look perfect and from my pictures you can tell I didn’t care too much how they looked. This is a great, cool recipe for summer lunch, so add it to your list to try.

Ingredients:

• Juice from 1/2 lemon

• 2 Tbs. coconut oil (melted)

• 1 Tbs. rice vinegar

• 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (can use coconut aminos if you are a real paleo purist)

• 1 Haas avocados

• 4 rice paper rounds, 6 or 8 inches in diameter

• 4 green lettuce leaves

• 1/2 lb chicken breast

• 1 carrots, coarsely shredded

• 1/2 English cucumber, cut into thin strips

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, mustard, and soy sauce; set aside.

2. Halve, pit and peel the avocado, and then cut it into 1/2-inch dice.

3. Cook chicken fully and spice with your favorite spice.

4. Place a wide, shallow bowl of warm water on a work surface. Lay a clean kitchen towel next to the bowl. (The rice papers do stick to the towel a little bit, but I assume this is the best surface to use). Dip 1 rice paper round into the water for a few seconds to soften, then lay it flat on the towel. Using another towel, pat the top of the rice paper dry.

5. Center a lettuce leaf on top of the stacked rice papers. Starting about one-third in from the edge closest to you top with a small row each of the chicken, carrot, cucumber and avocado; be careful not to overstuff the roll. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper up and over the filling and then roll once to form a tight cylinder. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll the paper and filling into a tight cylinder. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rice paper and filling ingredients to make 4 rolls.

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

I adapted this one from http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-shepherds-pie/. I absolutely love this and it took the calorie laden, starchy potatoes out of the mix. The flavor is awesome and I wouldn’t do Shepherd’s pie any other way. I tweak almost every recipe I find. I don’t like having to buy a ton of ingredients for one recipe, so if I don’t have it I usually take it out.

• 2 tablespoons coconut oil

• 1 large onion, diced

• 1 pound turkey

• 2 cups diced carrots

• 1 pound organic grass fed ground beef

• ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

• 1 teaspoon black pepper

• 1 cup chicken broth

• 2 large heads cauliflower, trimmed, chopped and steamed until very soft

1. Heat coconut oil in a very large frying pan

2. Saute onion for 15 minutes until soft

3. Add carrots to pan and sauté for 10 minutes until soft

4. Add ground beef to pan and sauté until brown, just a few minutes

5. Season with salt and pepper

6. Add chicken broth and cook down broth until 60% evaporated

7. Place cauliflower in food processor and puree with coconut oil (or coconut milk) until smooth

8. Pour ground beef mixture into a 9×13 inch Pyrex baking dish

9. Pour mashed cauliflower over beef mixture

10. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes

11. Serve

Serves 4

Wanna-be PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps Recipe

I adapted this one from a recipe found here http://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/wanna-be-pf-changs-lettuce-wraps-recipe/.  This is one of our new favorites. I eat mine like a salad and rip up the lettuce, add the mixture to the bowl, and pour the sauce over it like a dressing. They really do taste like PF Chang’s!

Ingredients for pouring sauce:
Mix all together

• 1-2 Tbsp cup honey

• 1/2 cup warm water

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons ketchup

• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

• 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

• 1 tablespoon mustard

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

Ingredients for stir-fry sauce:
Mix all together

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 1 tablespoons honey (local if you can get it)

• 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

Ingredients for chicken stir-fry:

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

• 2 tablespoons sesame oil

• 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed to 1/2″

• 1 – 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, minced to the size of corn kernals

• 1/2 cup mushrooms, minced to the size of corn kernals

• 1/2 onion, chopped fine

• 3 cloves garlic, minced fine

• 6 large leaves of iceberg lettuce

To make the chicken stir-fry:

1. Combine oils and add to large frying pan. Heat oil over high heat until it glistens, about one minute. Add chicken and saute until mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes.

2. Turn the heat under the pan down to medium-high. Then add garlic, onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and the stir-fry sauce you prepared earlier. Stir-fry everything until the mushrooms have cooked through, about 4 minutes, and remove to a serving dish.

3. Serve stir-fry on iceberg lettuce and top with pouring sauce.

Paleo August Week 2

Man, I love Moab. Every time I go there I wonder why I left. Then I remember that it’s nearly impossible to find a year-round job, there are no large stores for anything except groceries (not even a Target!), and you can’t do anything productive during the day between May and October because it’s too hot. BUT I still love it, and I had a great weekend.

I was even impressed with my ability to stick to paleo! Out of seven meals eaten either on the road or at a restaurant, my indiscretions were limited to 5 tater tots, an ear of corn from the grill (I am really having a hard time with this… I mean, it’s CORN SEASON!), a few handfuls of tortilla chips, one PBR and 1/2 of a blueberry muffin. I am pretty proud of myself. I didn’t keep a journal this weekend but I found that it’s really not as hard as it sounds to eat paleo on the road if you are willing to do things like order plain grilled chicken sandwiches and pull them from the bun, buy bananas instead of Sun Chips at the gas station, and Just Say No when your boyfriend offers his chocolate malt to you after a 4-hour rappel through a slot canyon.

How is it going for anyone else? Even if you aren’t doing this particular challenge, what goals have you set for yourself in August and how did the first week go?

What is the Paleo Diet, Anyway?

Editor’s Note: There are lots of posts, books, videos, you name it out there about what the paleo diet actually IS. But I haven’t posted much about the nutrition science behind paleo because, well, I’m not a nutritionist! Luckily, Becky from Austin Nutrition And Fitness With Becky  is… so I asked her to give us all a basic paleo refresher. This post is a great reminder that being a paleo “purist” is not for everyone and that it’s more important to find a healthy diet that works for your life than it is to be dogmatic about sticking to a set of rules. I would also definitely suggest going to check out her blog for more great info about food trends, diets, and staying healthy!

If you are new to paleo, this post is especially for you. And if you aren’t new to paleo, it never hurts to re-visit the basics, plus there are some surprising facts in here… particularly one that might make you re-think the 2 lbs. of hickory smoked bacon you just bought from Whole Foods (ahem).  

The Paleolithic Diet focuses on eating foods that were available for our ancestors and not consuming the items that have appeared in our diets due to modern technology and science. This leads to being able to consume grass fed/free range/wild meat and fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. If you can find it in the wild then you can eat it. Paleo followers stay away from dairy, grains, legumes (think beans), sugar, and processed oils.

The science behind this is as follows. Our ancestors had to forage for their food, which lead to lots of snacking on wild fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds (lots of carbs and a small amount of protein and fat). Then occasionally they would find meat and would gorge themselves on meat (lots of protein and fat). Hence when we gorge ourselves on meat it’s technically an innate behavior, because we “don’t know when our next meal of meat will be”.

Our ancestors did not have access to sugar or grains and for good reasons we shouldn’t be over consuming these either. When you consume sugar your blood sugar spikes and it takes 1-2hrs to return to normal. Refined grains, especially white bread/rice, cause this same response and that is why paleo suggests removing these. Not to mention, it is great to remove gluten from your diet to reduce bloating and improve body functioning. However, I still consume whole grains that do not contain gluten such as
brown rice and quinoa. These grains have a low glycemic response and do not cause a blood sugar spike because of the high fiber they contain.

As far as processed oils you have to be a little lenient with this one. All cooking oils are processed to a certain extent. However, extra virgin products are the least processed, so use these. Yes you can eat unprocessed oils in fish, nuts, and seeds, but what are you going to cook with?

Paleo allows you to consume as many fruits and vegetables as you would like, but I would be careful with the fruit. Fruit causes the same high glycemic response that refined sugar does therefore too much fruit will cause blood sugar spikes, which isn’t ideal for your body. Go all out on the veggies though. I challenge you to incorporate as many colors and types as you can a day.

Lastly, the meat portion of paleo allows you to eat any and every meat, which is kind of baffling to me. I know how much people love their bacon, but sometimes you should just decide to not eat certain things for your health. Yeah go ahead and eat it every so often, but know that every 1.7oz of processed meat increases your risk of contracting cancer by 21%. That’s a big percentage, so I’d rather leave the bacon off. Stick to the leaner meats and watch even more pounds come off is my thought.

Paleo is one of the healthier diets out there right now, so try it out and see if it is for you. Don’t be surprised if it’s not for you though. Some people require a high carb diet, which is not paleo, and some require a high protein diet, which is paleo, so don’t fret if it doesn’t seem to be working for you.

Becky’s Food Journal: August 3rd (Don’t you love how she adds “scale” and “clean” ratings to her food journals? Definitely going to start using that!)

Lemon water and cranberry water
Breakfast
2 egg quiches: 2 eggs, ground beef, mushrooms, and onions
Avocado and salsa
Coffee with non-dairy creamer
Snack
Naked protein juice
Lunch
Chicken teriyaki: brown rice, chicken, peas and corn, water chestnuts, soy sauce,
ketchup, and honey
Snack
KIND bar: almond coconut
Dinner
Chipotle salad: lettuce, bell peppers and onion, steak, corn, guacamole, and salad
dressing

Scale: 8 (I rate how my day was mentally and physically for food)

Clean (I track whether it was a clean day, no dairy, gluten, etc or not clean)

#bottles (24oz glasses) = 6

Food: Confusion

This is most of what The Boyfriend was served last week when he ordered a buffalo burger (the chips came from my plate, I had ordered fajitas). If a restaurant serves it to us, it’s OK to eat it, right?

If you were a single mom getting home from an 8-hour day to your hungry kids, would you rather cook a healthy meal or stop at Pizza Hut on the way home?

Even if a salad is full of ham, bacon, eggs, cheese, croutons, and creamy dressing, it’s still a salad, so that’s healthy, right?

If the FDA tells us that grains should be a big part of our diets and that “Fad Diets” like Atkins and Paleo don’t work, why would a reasonable person ever actually cut processed carbs from their diet?

If Diet Coke says “Diet” right there on the side, what would keep you from thinking it’s a healthy alternative?

If you are reading this blog, you are most likely a pretty health-conscious person, so the statements above seem pretty absurd. But if the answers to questions like these were as obvious as I wish they were, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Have you seen HBO’s The Weight of the Nation? It’s a mini-series about, well, the weight of the American people. You can watch it for free on HBO’s website, and I highly, highly recommend it.

While watching this over the past few weeks, I have learned a lot but have been struck by one thing in particular: In general, American people don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to food.

I am lucky that I grew up in a healthy, active community, hiking and playing in the pool every summer and skiing all winter. But I also remember spending hours in front of the TV, eating pizza for lunch at school, and snacking on Easy Mac and Oreos at home. When my step-mom married my Dad, she suddenly had 6 kids to cook for instead of just 2, so we ate a LOT of easy-to-prepare foods–Shake N Bake, Pasta-Roni, Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts… Not exactly healthy stuff. But I also remember when I would go to my mom’s house (my parents had joint custody and I spent 9 years switching houses every week), she would cook us food: baked chicken, steamed green beans, homemade breakfast burritos, turkey sandwiches on whole grain bread. Instead of Oreos and Doritos, I snacked on Wheat Thins and hummus. I knew what real food tasted like, and it was so much better than the salty pork chops and orange cheese that I got at my other house, I soaked it up. I think that those experiences helped me subconsciously form habits that have led me to an interest in healthy foods as an adult. But that’s not to say that I’m not tempted by junk food; I crave Chicken McNuggets and I have had the prep instructions for Annie’s Mac & Cheese memorized since I was 15. But I also know what those foods can do to me.

I am also lucky that I have never had a serious weight problem. I was a little chubby in late elementary school and middle school, but seemed to grow out of most of it by the time I made it to high school. I gained some weight after graduating college, weighing in at almost 140 lbs at my heaviest, but at 5’3 that didn’t even bump me into the “Overweight” category of the BMI scale.

But all you have to do is look around and it’s obvious that most people are not as lucky as I am. They don’t know what real food tastes like or how to prepare it–they don’t understand that there is a difference between buying spinach from the produce section and buying creamed spinach from the frozen food aisle. Kids are not encouraged to get outside and move around, we’ve all heard about the miserable state of school lunches, and they become obese without ever having a say in the matter. People don’t know that “zero calorie” soda still spikes their insulin levels, causing their bodies to store even more fat, or that bagels are actually way less healthy than eggs and bacon for breakfast.

This issue infuriates and saddens me. And it’s not just an issue of ignorance–many people in our culture are literally addicted to food. In an interview in “Weight of the Nation,” a young woman describes food as being her best friend, her boyfriend, a trip to the beach when she can’t afford one… What if giving up junk food came with the same feeling as breaking up with your boyfriend?

What can we do, as active, healthy people, to educate others? How can we help reverse this trend? Is it even our responsibility, or is there really no excuse for ignorance in this information age? What do you think?