Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Honor your primal genes by slowing down and simplifying your life." Mark Sisson, The Primal Blueprint

CrossFit on Wednesday:
Tire Flips (I was unable to flip the large tire by myself this time... next time we play with tires, I'm going to do it!)
Conditioning: (Completed in 16:11)
“Drunken Bear”
3 Rounds
Bear crawl 50 f
400 m run
30 KB swing (25 lb kettlebell)
15 pull ups (using a gray and a red band... because 15 pulls ups are not a good time!)

Sean wanted to go out for dinner last night, and I am not one to deny free dinner, so we made our way to our favorite Paleo-friendly cafe, Healthy Garden.
Turkey Caprese Salad (minus mozzarella, plus romaine lettuce instead of spinach) = lettuce, tomato, turkey, and avocado with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I'm most of the way into the movie Fat Head (available on Netflix). This guy seems to be on team Paleo so I'm digging it. It's worth a watch, especially if you are uneducated about diet myths.

About the Film (taken from the website):

"Comedian (and former health writer) Tom Naughton replies to the blame-McDonald’s crowd by losing weight on a fat-laden fast-food diet while demonstrating that nearly everything we’ve been told about obesity and healthy eating is wrong. Along with some delicious parody of Super Size Me, Naughton serves up plenty of no-bologna facts that will stun most viewers, such as: The obesity “epidemic” has been wildly exaggerated by the CDC. People the government classifies as “overweight” have longer lifespans than people classified as “normal weight.” Having low cholesterol is unhealthy. Lowfat diets can lead to depression and type II diabetes. Saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease — but sugars, starches and processed vegetable oils do."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Recipes: The Good, The Bad, and the Yummy

For some reason I've been delaying creating this post. It could just be my laziness in my first week on summer vacation or maybe the fact that I knew how large the post would need to be. As promised, I spent my day on Sunday cooking up a bunch of recipes to keep as meals/snacks for the week in preparation for my 30 day challenge. Speaking of my 30 day challenge, all is going well food-wise but on Monday and Tuesday I ended up slurping down some Gatorade after my workouts. I really want this to be a true whole 30 so I've decided to push it back two days so today is day 1 (only water from here on out!) and my weigh in won't be until the 29th.
stocked for the week :)

brought to you by some of my new favorite Trader Joe's items
I'll keep it short and simple:

MORE Cherry Balls
Thanks to my new cherry pitter (what a gruesome tool :P), I made 4 more batches where I added cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and a cinnamon/vanilla mix. I also cut down on the coconut for all batches so it was just about equal to the chopped walnuts. The vanilla ones were difficult to work with because I was adding in a liquid instead of a powder, but they turned out to be my favorite taste-wise (think cherry vanilla soda). I definitely added too much cocoa and cinnamon because those batches turned out overloaded with those flavors... this is why I need recipes :) But the cocoa ones are good, like a chocolate covered cherry.
Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Bake (from Everyday Paleo)
This recipe was so easy and delicious, it will definitely become a regular in the future.
1) Place boneless skinless chicken breast in a large glass baking dish.
2) Sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper and mix well.
3) Sprinkle sliced garlic on top (I just spread on come crushed garlic), and spread the sun dried tomatoes and the olive oil that's in the jar over the entire dish (see TJ's sun dried tomatoes above).
4) Seal tightly with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.
5) Remove the tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Simple, flavorful chicken! My first thought was that it reminded me of pizza.. yum.

Macaroni and Not Cheese

I made a couple changes to this recipe:
- spaghetti squash instead of pasta
- walnuts instead of cashews
- no nutritional yeast
- added a piece of cooked chicken sausage before baking

Not the prettiest dish, and it tastes more like a creamy tomato sauce then a cheese sauce, but it's still a good spaghetti squash topping. I wonder if cashews and nutritional yeast make all the difference...
how mine turned out
how this blogger's turned out
I used half of the spaghetti squash for this recipe, and made the diced tomato & zucchini sauce to save with the other half.

Hamburger and Butternut Squash Curry (from this blogger)
- 1 lb of lean ground beef (I used ground turkey breast from good ole Trader Joe's)
- 1 small butternut squash - peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 jar Trader Joe's curry simmer sauce (see picture above - all Paleo ingredients!)
- 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk
making some use of the crock pot
Brown meat and place in crock pot on low with butternut squash and curry simmer sauce. Cook on low for 6 hours and add coconut milk before serving.
getting ready to be put in the fridge
Can it get any easier?! Okay, so it's also not the prettiest dish, but it's the taste that matters! After a couple hours, the butternut squash melts in to make it sweet and even more flavorful. This has been really useful as a nice hearty snack so far this week.

I've been experimenting with different omelet recipes, mostly from The Paleo Recipe Book. I made a zucchini quiche - It turned out very thin because I scaled down the recipe from serving 6 to serving 1 and didn't have a smaller container to bake it in.
A banana omelet - Here is photographic evidence of the eggs before I added the baked banana pieces on top.. the most perfect omelet I've ever cooked!
A cinnamon and apple omelet (well, more of my usual eggy mess) - my favorite so far! Who knew warm fruit and eggs tasted so good together?

Heading out for a CrossFit workout in a couple hours.. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"French Toast" Fruit & 30 Day Challenge

I really like posting my CrossFit workouts to remember what weights I was using and help keep track of my progress as CrossFit becomes part of my normal routine. This week I'll be attending two more classes, then it's full-time CrossFitting for me in July! I plan on going at least 4x a week in addition to 4 training runs a week for the half marathon in September. Here is Saturday's workout:

Press 5, 5, 5 (50lb barbell)

Conditioning: (completed in 12:19)
DB C&J (15lb dumbbells)
50 ft Walking Lunges
Goblet Squats (25lb kettlebell)
50ft Sprint

Followed by an hour of CrossFit yoga! :)

"French Toast" Fruit 
(borrowed from this blogger)

Spray a 9x9 pan (I think she was referring to a glass dish, but I didn't have one so I improvised with the metal one covered with tinfoil) and lay out apple and banana slices in a single layer.
Wet mix - pour over apples and bananas:
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup egg whites
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tsp vanilla

Dry mix - sprinkle on top:
- 1/4 cup flaked coconut
- 1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes and tada! Quick, easy, and delicious Paleo french toast:

I decided to start my 30 Day Challenge tomorrow (only a couple days early - my original start date was going to be Friday the 1st). This means that for 30 days straight I will strictly only be eating:
- lean meats
- eggs
- vegetables
- healthy fats
I will limit my fruit and nut intake to 1 serving of each per day and water will be my only beverage.

I will not be eating:
- grains
- dairy
- sugars
- starchy vegetables (potatoes/sweet potatoes)
- beans
- legumes (includes all forms of soy)
- peas
- processed foods
- alcohol

I'm starting early because I have nothing going on this week and a pile of Paleo recipes I'm ready to cook. I'm ready to commit to changing my performance, energy, health, and body composition. My plan is to be prepared - I'm going to cook a load of recipes today to be saved in plastic containers for meals and snacks this week. I'll post the new ones here for you to check out. Stay tuned for:
- Hamburger and Butternut Squash Curry
- Macaroni and Not Cheese
- Sun Dried Tomato Chicken Bake

Later this week I'm also going to be experimenting with different egg recipes for breakfast:
- sun-dried tomato omelet
- cinnamon and apple omelet
- zucchini quiche
- banana omelet

Tomorrow morning I'll measure my weight and body fat, and I will not do so again until Wednesday, July 27th. Hopefully, this will go as planned and I'll have some impressive differences to share with you at the end of 30 days!

Will I be able to
... avoid the food and beverage temptations at a bridal shower and a going away party?
... get rid of my health issues?
... lift heavier weights?
... cut down my running times?
... keep my sanity in a very un-Paleo world?
... survive without coffee??!

Wish me luck :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cherry Balls

On the agenda for this afternoon was going to to Ritz with Sean to see X-Men: First Class. To me, going to the movies is automatically associated with snack foods (most often snuck in to the theater via large purse). I decided to scour all of my recipe sources for a Paleo snack food which:
a) could easily come to the movies with me
and b) I already had most of the ingredients for because I didn't feel like making a big shopping trip.

I found what I was looking for in Recipes for the 21st Century Hunter Gatherer by Nikki Young when I stumbled upon this recipe for Cherry Balls. The only thing I had to go buy were the cherries!

- 20 fresh cherries, de-pipped and chopped (chopping those little cherries was most definitely the worst part of this recipe)
- 2 tbs honey
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 3 tbs almond butter

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2) In a bowl, mix ingredients together. Shape mixture into balls and place onto a baking tray. I lined mine with tin foil, but wax paper probably would have worked better.
3) Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until cherry balls are lightly browned. The balls will still be quite soft at this stage.
4) Place cherry balls in the fridge until cooled before serving.
The verdict: moist, sweet, and yummy!  I would definitely make these again. Off to the movies with cherry balls in hand... or purse.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spaghetti Squash!

Before I get to the utterly amazing spaghetti squash, I want to talk a little bit about the differences in my health and wellness since I've started Paleo. As I've previously mentioned, I was a victim of constant headaches and stomach problems prior to starting this lifestyle.  Even though I haven't being doing Paleo for that long, I noticed an almost immediate change in my energy levels along with no stomach problems. If I'm a little bit off the diet (see Saturday night, cake on Sunday, and drinks Tuesday/Wednesday) guess what happens? Stomach pains come back and energy levels drop. The break definitely motivated me to get back to 100% Paleo days so I could feel my best once again. The decision now seems pretty simple to me:

eating entirely Paleo = feeling really good
not eating entirely Paleo = feeling really shitty

I also have had one negative side effect of the diet - withdrawal symptoms from coffee! I can't drink the stuff black (no creamer and sugar allowed with Paleo - even stevia), so I am trying to cut it out of my diet all together. Apparently I was addicted to the caffeine from drinking 1-2 cups a day because every now and then I get awful borderline migraine headaches and I have a nearly constant craving for the stuff. I must admit I have given in to a cup of coffee 3 times over the last couple of weeks, but my plan for July is for my only beverage to be good ole H2O. Period.

To get back in to the Paleo swing of these, I wanted to try something new and tackle the SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
 I cut this guy in half length-wise... which was much easier said than done:
Scooped out the insides (it smelled just like a pumpkin) then seasoned with salt and pepper and baked in the oven cut side up for an hour on 350 degrees. I know you can also microwave the spaghetti squash to save time, maybe I'll try that next time and let you know how it goes.
Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then tear out the flesh with a fork. It turns out looking just like spaghetti! Here's half of the squash post-scrape along with what the entire squash yielded (enough for two LARGE servings).
Next I had to figure out what to make to complete my meal. I heated about two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat and sauteed some garlic and zucchini. I may or may not have been hit with some very hot splattering oil in the process. Once the zucchini was cooked, I added my Trader Joe's diced tomatoes from my first Paleo shopping trip along with some Herbes de Provence (yeah, I didn't know what it was either).
I also heated up a pre-cooked and seasoned chicken breast from Trader Joe's. I cut the chicken up into chunks and placed on top of half of the spaghetti squash, followed by half of my tomato/zucchini sauce.
No grains, dairy, or sugars here!
This lunch was amazing. As in "I want to have this for every meal forever" amazing. I liked it so much that I had the leftovers with a piece of chicken sausage for dinner. Move over coconut/walnut/cinnamon chicken... it looks like I have a new favorite meal!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time for SUMMER!

That's right... the school year is finally over and it's time to relax! YES I get the summer off, but YES I worked my tail off all year for this. This has been a particularly challenging and stressful year for me, so I am more than ready for the well-deserved break.

My diet has been mostly repetitive the last few days (I made a bunch of the coconut/walnut/cinnamon chicken again) so I'll spare you the details. Here is what's new:

Celebrations with Co-Workers

This was event #2 in June that I was excusing myself from the Paleo diet for. And by excusing myself from the diet I really just mean allowing myself to enjoy some adult beverages but still only eating Paleo. I went to Redstone to celebrate with my fellow 7th grade teachers after we officially checked out of school today. I got the spinach salad with romaine lettuce, no cheese or bacon, and with balsamic vinaigrette on the side. The toppings left are apples, red grapes, nuts, eggs, and chicken - I believe all Paleo and extremely tasty!


Here's my WOD from Monday:

Skill Work:
Muscle-ups (I wish I were anywhere near strong enough to practice these!), Rope Climbs, Pull-ups, Dips

6 Rounds of:
Every 5 Minutes complete the following for time:
Run Around Building
20 DB Snatches (15 lbs)
10 Pull-ups

The metcon (metabolic conditioning) portion was an intense half an hour, but as always I loved it! Yesterday was my day off of the gym this week so I could attend 8th grade graduation, but tonight I tried out a class at CrossFit Mount Laurel.

BTW I don't know if you noticed that large yellow vegetable that I picked up this weekend, but it will be coming back to the blog tomorrow night.. get excited!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Night Out and Father's Day

Friday night Sean and I went out for dinner. We settled on Forno Grille on Church Road in Maple Shade in hopes I could combine some fresh ingredients to make a Paleo meal. 
I got a salad with grilled chicken and roasted zucchini, squash, and red pepper with balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I would definitely get it again, it's nice to know that I can still enjoy a night out to dinner and eat Paleo! Forno can be Paleo-friendly, minus the huge bowl of free bread that was tempting me all meal long. Sean attempted to go somewhat Paleo as well with the wings in the background.

We had to run to the market Friday night to get myself some meat and veggies for breakfast Saturday. I ended up trying some ground chicken and broccoli in my eggs, and it turned out pretty well. The plain ground chicken made me realize that it's about time to get some seasoning in my kitchen!

Saturday morning was my favorite CrossFit workout so far:
30 – 20 – 10
Wall Balls

I modified to 25-15-5 because of my bad shoulder, and because this WOD was so intense. Using a 25lb barbell for the thrusters and a 10lb ball, I completed the workout in 15:22. My knee positioning for the thrusters was a lot better than it was on Wednesday, and today my legs are really feeling the effects of 90 proper squats (thrusters + wall balls) - aka I can barely walk.

I will be going 100% Paleo in July, but I decided to give myself two nights off for events I had coming up in June. One of these events was on Saturday afternoon/night when I went out to Martell's Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant for a friend's birthday. Tiki teas, pina coladas, jager shots, and towers of beer were enjoyed by all. I was hungry because I missed snack and dinner, so I also munched on some very un-Paleo nachos with biggie and pseudo.

Sundays are apparently now officially Trader Joe's, Farmers Market, and Whole Foods day. I stocked up on my meats: 
and my produce:
and of course I needed to sample more flavors of my new favorite snack along with some eggs from Whole Foods: 
Btw the original and ginger snap flavors are just as delicious as the chocolate :) They are expensive (about $5 a bag) but worth it!

I also finally purchased some spices and a foam roller (used to help sore muscles) from Target. Sean and I first unsuccessfully went to Walmart in search of these items, but I was not going to return home without that damn foam roller:

The fam gathered for Father's Day/Grandmom's birthday/my brother's birthday celebrations Sunday night. They ate flank steak and corn, but I opted to make some turkey burgers with zucchini and save the leftovers for lunches this week at work. This was a recipe that I have made before but today the patties turned to complete mush! I blame it on the meat I used (bottom right in the meat picture above).  They wouldn't sit on the grill, so we sat them in tinfoil and they turned out more like mini meat loafs. This was probably my first real fail so far, and it was so much more embarrassing because my entire family got to witness it :P
At least they still tasted good! I also had some of Aunt Ronni's famous caesar salad: romaine, egg, worcestershire sauce, lemon, garlic, parmesan, oil, vinegar, pepper, and croutons. I excused the parmesan, and tried to pick out the croutons, but I must admit that some may have escaped into my mouth.
And finally, because it's not July yet, an obligatory slice of key lime cake from Sweet Eats:

All in all, a very delicious, partially-Paleo Sunday. Happy Father's Day, Dad!
 (also Bella's first blog appearance)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday and Friday

I've been a bad blogger - I still need to recap Thursday for you all!

Thursday was a pretty repetitive food day... I had the usual breakfast and snack, and for lunch I had the last of the coconut chicken and butternut squash. I must admit, I was sad to see that go.. I'm thinking I'll be making it again next week. For dinner I cooked up that chicken that marinated in lime juice overnight along with some yellow squash in balsamic vinegar.

This meal was near impossible to clean up, but it was delicious! Any tips for easily cleaning all that mess off of my nice new pans?? Mom, are you out there?! I tried letting hot water and soap soak in for a while and that got most of it off with some scrubbing, but some pieces would not give.  I ate half for dinner and saved the rest for lunch Friday. 

Snack today was a peach and the leftover guacamole with cucumber "chips".  I just decided to change my CrossFit workout today because I saw that the WOD is focusing on the power clean and my right shoulder is telling me that it needs a break after being worked hard for the last 4 days. I changed it to tomorrow morning at 9 in hopes that the workout will be lighter on my shoulders. 

I'm not sure what dinner tonight will be yet, but my vegetable drawer is empty so it's time to do some food shopping!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Need to Think of More Creative Titles .... Food and Workout for Today

Breakfast: The usual eggy mess with chicken sausage, this time with tomato and onions.

Lunch: Leftover coconut/walnut/cinnamon chicken and butternut squash from dinner last night.

Snack: I'm in a rut - peppered turkey deli meat, tomato, and a small handful of almonds...again

 Dinner: I had a lot of little things to get done tonight, so I wanted to make something quick and easy. This meal came together in no time! Pre-cooked chicken breast with homemade guacamole (avocado, tomato, onion, lime juice, and pepper) and cucumber "chips".

I also decided to marinate some chicken in lime, olive oil, and pepper for dinner tomorrow night.. we'll see how that turns out!
As promised, I worked out at CrossFit Aspire tonight. This was the WOD (Workout of the Day) along with my barbell weights/time:

Press 3×3 (45 lbs - actually did about 6 sets.. since it was my first time doing it, I had to readjust the weight a couple times)
Conditioning: (25 lbs/13:01)
15 Front Squats
400m Run
15 Push Presses
400m Run
15 Thrusters
400m Run
15 Push Presses
400m Run
15 Front Squats

I need to work on my knee positioning for the squats, but the workout felt awesome, and I'm excited to get my butt kicked again on Friday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Gym Video and Food For the Day!

"The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them."  - Denis Waitley
 (courtesy of Train with Amie
Loving this quote right now - I have a feeling I'm going to need to refer back to it multiple times over the next couple of weeks! 
At the gym tonight I had training then a spin class. I've been working on a Kettelbell progression, and have finally arrived at the Kettelbell snatch! This was only my second time trying it, I had my trainer (hi Kevin!) film so I can check out how silly bad ass I look :P Definitely room to improve in technique and weight.
And now for the food...
burning down the apartment with eggs, veggies, and chicken sausage
Breakfast: Same as yesterday, but I sauteed the leftover zucchini from dinner last night in addition to some red pepper and onion. I also remembered to put a dribble of coconut milk in my eggs and actually remembered to season my eggy mess with some pepper and a pinch of salt - it made a big difference! I also tried to cheat a little bit by using Pam olive oil cooking spray because it has no calories (I really can't use it because it has soy in it) and it totally backfired on me! Apparently its not really good for cooking because it evaporates quickly, so my entire apartment was filled with smoke after heating up the chicken sausage and veggies. Then I went back to using my Paleo-friendly coconut oil to cook the omelet with, and had no problems. Lesson learned - no more Pam!
Lunch: Same appetizing-looking leftovers as yesterday.
Snack: Peppered turkey deli meat with sliced tomatoes again and a small handful of almonds.
Dinner: Despite getting home from the gym after 8, I pulled together a recipe for Coconut-Walnut Chicken. I mixed unsweetened shredded coconut, chopped walnuts (oops, two nut servings for the day), and cinnamon in a bowl, then dipped chicken breast pieces into unsweetened coconut milk, into the dry mixture, and baked on a pan. For my veggies, I dumped my cubed butternut squash in a ziploc, added extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, garlic, and pepper, shook it around a bit, and then baked in a tinfoil wrapper. The best part is that I have leftovers for lunch! I also had a peach for dessert to get a fruit serving in.
I'm training at CrossFit Aspire Wednesday and Friday this week, I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Surprisingly Successful First Day

I am pleased to report that I ate 100% Paleo today! A quick recap of my day:

Breakfast: Eggs with chicken sausage, red peppers, and onion. Yummy- I didn't even miss the cheese and ketchup!

Lunch: By lunch time I was quite hungry.. my stomach is used to a nice bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Leftover turkey meatloaf with zucchini and some avocado on top. I promise this tastes better than it looks :)

Snack: Peppered turkey deli meat with tomato slices. I also tried some most of the Go Raw "Chocolate Super Cookies"- they are AWESOME! The best part about them is that these are the ingredients: organic coconut, sprouted organic sesame seeds, organic dates, and organic cacao. I will definitely be picking up some more varieties very soon!

Dinner: Pre-cooked and seasoned chicken breast from Trader Joe's (another great find), with some sauteed zucchini and onion. Also added a couple slices of avocado (aka food's kryptonite) because I seem to have a hard time eating meat without ketchup and avocado is a good alternative.. I also needed my healthy fats in this meal.

I'm going to try to look up and execute an actual recipe for dinner tomorrow night, but I don't get back from the gym til 8 on Tuesdays so we'll see how that goes!

First Paleo Food Shopping Trip!

I needed to stock up the pantry with some Paleo staples, so yesterday Sean and I headed out to Trader Joe's, the Marlton Farmer's Market (such a great find - very glad I found this place to stock up on veggies and fruits), and Whole Foods. Between the three stores I was able to check everything off my list.

shredded coconut, coconut oil, chopped pecans, diced tomatoes, 
free range chicken broth, chopped walnuts, almonds, 
coconut flour, tomato paste, vanilla, almond butter, and sun-dried tomatoes

tomatoes, red peppers, peaches, and avocados

strawberries, blueberries, butternut squash, nitrate-free chicken and turkey deli meats, 
Go Raw snacks found at Whole Foods (more to come on these goodies later), 
Trader Joe's chicken breasts (cooked/uncooked), unsweetened coconut milk,
cucumber, zucchini, and squash

 also found this Chicken Sausage at Trader Joe's - I used one for breakfast this morning, 
but I managed to remember to snap a picture of the wrapping before I tossed it!