Wednesday, October 12, 2011

30 Day Paleo Challenge - Week 4

Egg Salad Wraps
I'm on my final week of my paleo challenge and I feel amazing! It is great to be on track mentally and in the kitchen. We have refined the recipe selection so that our meals don't get too repetitive, but our usual ingredients can be put to good use. We always have a goal to eat healthy while keeping our wallets full of monies. :)

Our meal mainstays:
  • Egg bake or scramble
  • Tuna, turkey, or egg salad
  • Meatloaf or meatballs - beef, turkey, chicken, or combo
  • Marinated Slaw - any combination of cabbage, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh herbs, and occassionally nuts and dried fruits
  • Taco wraps - ground meat, homemade taco seasoning, greens for wrap
  • Soups - carrot, pumpkin, pear, apple, or any combination of veggies and meat along with homemade stocks and seasonings.
  • Chili 
  • Stir Fry or curries
  • Baked or grilled fish - right now we have plenty of salmon straight from Alaska. We also buy tilapia, tuna, flounder, or any other fish that's on sale.
  • Smoothies - fruits, flax meal, and greens (primarily kale). We add primal fuel when weightlifting and working out. 
  • Homemade pasta sauce and spaghetti squash. We will also try our hand at veggie noodles in the form of zucchini/yellow squash as well as onion, etc.
  • Salads, salads, salads. Using dressing comprised of either oils and freshly squeezed citrus juices or my favorite Paleo Dressing.
Other meal items that are meant to be eaten only on occasion:
  • Muffins. Using nut and coconut flours and honey or agave nectar for sweetener. Fruits can also be used as a sweetening agent. 
  • Trail Mix
  • Bacon, sausage
  • Uncured, natural chicken hot dogs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Beans - usually in the form of hummus or additional protein in chilis or soups.
  • Yogurts - probiotics
I certainly have other meal ideas and recipe adaptations I plan to test in my kitchen and with the husband. Our meal plans will continue to shift and improve. Now that we have a remodeled kitchen, it has only gotten easier for us to prepare a weeks worth of food together. (Before and after photos to come!!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

30 Day Paleo Challenge - Week 3

It's finally fall! Cooler weather and pumpkins. Yes, please.
I can't believe it is already October! It feels like we just began 2011 not too long ago. I am happy to see summer in the rear view mirror, though. The 100+ degree days really get old.

One of my favorite things about fall, besides the cooler weather, is winter squash! Acorn, butternut, and pumpkin are wonderful in soups or baked and eaten plain!

Now on to this week's food:

Over the weekend I made the best chicken salad I've ever eat...if I do say so myself! :)

I used a new mayonnaise I found at Market Street that's made from Omega 3 Flax Oil. I have made my own mayo before with some success. (Although I've also made my fair share of liquid, soupy-like batches where I was apparently far too impatient with the oil pouring!) While this mayo isn't 100% paleo, there are few ingredients in comparison to regular mayo that worry me with the main one being Sea Salt. The sodium levels are low and I use it for a bit of creaminess in a large batch of meat-based salad.

Chicken Salad - chicken thighs (diced), mayo, mustard, mustard seed, celery seed, dried cranberries

Also for the week, we made:
Pumpkin Cranberry "Muffins" w/almond and coconut flours. I used the canned pumpkin variety.
Tamarind chicken stir fry with breast tenders, onions, red and green peppers, and mushrooms
Tuna Salad w/hard boiled eggs

I plan to make a salmon dish with the wild-caught (by my father in law) alaskan Coho in my freezer! Even my cousin who doesn't like fish doesn't turn his nose up at that! (Even if he said it was just "ok" :P)

Day # 15 - Monday, October 3
Pumpkin Muffin
Chicken Salad

Lunch - Indian
Chicken Tikka Masala
Carrot Aloo Gobi

I have an ankle injury from being just plain clumsy. I do need to do some ankle strengthening, though!
I did a core- and arm-centric workout.

Warm-up on bench - 45lbsx5x2, 50.5lbsx5
Exercise - 5 Pullups (with 2 blue and 1 pink band), 20 situps (abmat), Bench 56lbsx5 for 3 rounds for time
Time - 6:59

Smoothie - banana, avocado, mustard greens, frozen strawberries, flaxmeal, primal fuel
Spaghetti Squash w/homemade meat sauce

Day #16 - Tuesday, October 4
Pumpkin Muffin
Hard-boiled Egg
Few tablespoons Tuna salad

Pork Tenderloin (previously mentioned, marinated and pressure cooked)
Minneola Tangelo


Friday, September 30, 2011

Rest of Week 2 of Challenge - Round 2

A perfectly sweet watermelon is one of
my all-time favorite fruits!
Day #10 - Wednesday, September 28
Egg Bake

Sushi - Mostly the riceless variety with cucumber wrap. I did have a roll with strawberry, crab, etc.

Chicken uncured, no preservatives "hot dogs" w/lettuce wrap and tomatoes

Day #11 - Thursday, September 29
Egg Bake

Chicken hot dog w/lettuce wrap and tomatoes

Baked Salmon w/onions and peppers
I also cooked some pork tenderloin marinaded in natural orange juice, salsa, and ginger as well as chicken thighs. I sampled them both as part of dinner. Both cooked wonderfully in the pressure cooker!! Moist and tender. Mmmm
Larabar - cherry pie (dates, cherries, almonds)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day #9 of Challenge - Round 2

Tuesday, September 27
Egg Bake

Tuna salad w/lettuce wraps and salsa

Double under practice
Run 2.6 miles (To pet store and back), took about 30 min total including getting cat treats. :)

Smoothie - banana, kale, frozen strawberries, primal fuel, flax seed meal
Chicken Hot dogs (not cured, etc) - wrapped in lettuce

Weekend #1 of Challenge - Round 2

This was one of my more successful weekends so far!
My favorite dish we made was a stir fry . I first cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the pressure cooker. Then I stir fried onions, peppers, fresh green beans, red and green cabbage. We made a sauce out of (mostly) stock from the pressure cooker and tamarind concentrate. Delicious!

For the week we made:

  • Tuna Salad - omega 3 flax mayo, lemon juice, hard boiled egg, spices
  • Spaghetti Squash w/meat sauce 
  • Baked Salmon
  • Taco Egg bake - bacon, onion, pepper, homemade taco seasoning
  • Plenty of fruits and veggies for snacking!
I still have a pork tenderloin and chicken thighs that need cooking. I plan to do that tonight or tomorrow! I will likely marinade the pork tenderloin prior to searing and baking it. 

Day #8, Monday, September 26
Scrambled Eggs
Turkey sausage patty

Lunch - Salad Bar
Giant salad - greens, tomato, jalapenos, grated beets, squash, carrot, chipotle dressing
Meatball soup
1/2 small sweet potato w/ bacon, chives and salsa

Spaghetti Squash
Meat Sauce - beef, onion, pepper, spices, tomato sauce (no salt added)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day #4 of Challenge - Round 2

Thursday, September 22

Meatloaf w/hardcooked egg
Salad - greens, slaw, EVOO

Dinner - Event directly after work
Wraps - I had very little, and I removed the cheese. It was mostly turkey or ham.
1 mini cupcake

After I came home at 9pm I was still hungry, so I ate some tuna salad.

I think I'll suggest that they provide a veggie or fruit tray next time! It's relatively inexpensive to do yourself and not many people touch it. I'd be happy, though!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day #3 of Challenge - Round 2

Tuna salad with nori wrap
Wednesday, September 21

2 Hard boiled eggs

Workout - I practiced air squats with a dowel rod. I'm taking a step back to perfect my form and improve my flexibility before adding weight back. I also did press 45x5x3 and pullups with 2 blue bands and a pink band: 6,5,4 reps.

Smoothie - banana, kale, frozen raspberries, flax seed meal, and primal fuel
Tuna Nori wrap

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day #2 of Challenge - Round 2

Yesterday I prepared multiple dishes for the week:
Meatloaf - grass-fed beef, onion, carrot, parsley, cilantro, spices

Slaw - red & green cabbage, carrot, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice & zest, mustard & celery seed

Tuna Salad
- tuna, hard boiled egg, mustard, chow chow (cabbage relish), dab of mayo, pepper, paprika

Last night the husband had a great idea to pick up some Nori on the way home. We generally use lettuce wraps as you've maybe seen in past posts, but Nori would be a great structurally sound AND delicious alternative. Nori is rather nutritious as well with about 13 protein and 13 dietary fiber. It contains high proportions of iodine, carotene, vitamins A, B and C, as well as significant amounts of calcium and iron. For those of you who are unaware of nori, it is a seaweed product that resembles paper. It is created much like paper, where seaweed is shredded and dried on a rack. It is most notably used as a wrapper for sushi rolls. I think tonight we will have tuna wraps for dinner; I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, September 21

Salad - greens, chicken, hard boiled egg, sprouts, tomato, carrot, evoo, splash balsamic
Handful of nuts

Ran around 2.2 miles, not sure on time

Smoothie - banana, kale, frozen raspberries, primal fuel, flaxseed meal

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day #1 of Challenge - Round 2

Amazing weather and view!
Now it is time to double my efforts!! We went to San Francisco last weekend and had an amazing time. We made no real effort to stick to paleo while we were there, so I'm even more ready for another challenge.
We have another vacation to Pennsylvania to visit family in 30 days, so it lines up perfectly!

Day 1, September 19
Scrambled Eggs
1 Sausage patty

Salad - spring mix, chicken, jalapeno, onions, peppers, black beans, guacamole, ancho dressing
Handful of nuts

Workout - Ran solo 1.15 miles in 13:49, then ran with a friend 1.25 miles in 12:31. The weather outside was amazing, so it felt great to run again. I also did a few things in the weight room, a couple deadlifts, bench press, and ab wheel.

Smoothie - nectarine, kale, frozen raspberries, flax meal, primal fuel
Scramble - eggs, onion, pepper, sausage, garlic, spices

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30 Day Paleo Challenge Update

Goodness, it's been a while since I posted during my challenge! We are such busy people with multiple jobs and real estate investing. It's no excuse to stop blogging! We've done fairly well, but now that I am near the end and about to leave town, I feel the need to go another round of the challenge. So, I have decided that I will begin round 2 on Monday, September 19th.

Here's my food from Wednesday, September 7th, Day #22

Hard Boiled Egg
Red Grapes

Chicken Thighs
Carrot Broccoli Salad
Fruit salad

Ground Chicken stew w/Spaghetti Squash "noodles"

I made a giant batch of the chicken stew with squash noodles and we ate that throughout the week. I brought the last portion for lunch today. For breakfast the last few days I had a primal fuel shake with just water.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Holiday Weekend - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Days 17-20, Labor Day weekend

Ader Bumper Plates
The husband and I had plenty of paleo food throughout the weekend. Boiled eggs became tuna salad, beef tacos were combined with freshly cooked chicken thighs. (2 meats are better than 1!) We did attend multiple family get-togethers and ate open meals. We brought a fruit salad to both -- improving the selection!

On Sunday we purchased rubber Olympic-style bumper plates. For the last few months we've been using stacked metal plates to raise the bar high enough for the deadlift. This was inviting crushed fingers and wasted strength! It was time to get the real thing. We bought 160lbs of Ader bumper plates, 2-10s, 2-25s, and 2-45s. They are all the same circumference so no matter the weight, it's always the same height.

We had a very successful workout day yesterday. Due to the over-100 temps for over 2 months, we have not ran in that long. On Monday, though, a cold front swept through north Texas and it was 75 degrees in the morning! We went for a jog around 10am -- 1.6 miles.

Then in the evening, around 4pm, we did our regular Starting Strength workout. It was an A day with Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. I deadlifted 100lbs, and I'm almost back to where I was prior to starting over. I felt amazing after!

For today, Tuesday, September 6th, Day #21 of the Challenge:

Hard Boiled Egg
Fruit Salad - Watermelon, pineapple, grape, strawberry, mango

Stir Fry - chicken, broccoli, sprouts, carrot, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, squash, mushrooms
Carrot Broccoli Salad
Rest of fruit salad

Chicken Pad Thai

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day #16 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Wednesday, August 31

Hard Boiled Egg

Husband had a craving for Indian food, and I gave in! Yum.
Buffet-style: Tikka Masala, Mushroom Mutter, Veg and Chicken Manchurian

Workout - Starting Strength
Post-Workout Smoothie - banana, turnip greens, frozen strawberries, primal fuel, flaxseed meal

Beef Tacos
Trail Mix - Pepitas, Almonds, Dried Cranberries, Raisins

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day #15 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Example of past green tacos!
Accoutrements in the background.
Day #15 - Tuesday, August 30

Hard Boiled Egg

Carrot Squash Soup

Beef Tacos w/romaine shells - sauteed peppers and onions with homemade taco seasoning
1 Prune

I really love the usage of greens where grains are traditionally used. Usually the purpose of a tortilla or piece of bread is to hold together various ingredients so you can eat them with your hand as one creation. Greens easily serve this purpose. Romaine works really well for taco shells due to the shape how it folds perfectly down the middle.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

We did a lot of eating and cooking at home, but definitely met our limit of 2 open meals during the weekend! There's something about 110 degree weather that influences your desire to cook food. Enough of the excuses!

Sunday evening I prepared meals for the week:

Paleo Meatloaf - This was yet another modification of my normal recipe. I attempted to stretch it by added about a cup of almond meal. However, my ratio of veggies, meat, and egg ended up being insufficient for the structural integrity of the meatloaf! Once I work on it further, I'll share my recipe. I did use all turkey this time, which perhaps made a difference as well. 

Carrot Broccoli Salad - Much like last week. My husband loved it so much that I decided to make a giant batch. I used about 18 carrots and a huge head of broccoli. 

Hard Boiled Eggs - I will make a tuna salad out of a few eggs to be eaten with Romaine wraps. 

Carrot Squash Soup - It's a bit crazy making soup when it's so hot, but it was the easiest to make. I baked acorn squash and sliced carrots. The carrots were covered in coconut oil and ginger during the baking process. I sauteed onions in coconut oil, added turmeric and ginger, then chicken stock from cooking chicken thighs last week. After adding about a cup of coconut milk. this creamy soup turned out great! It wasn't too watery! Instead perfectly hearty.

I also have bok choy, turnip greens, and various other vegetables. I'll need to go to the store on Tuesday or Wednesday to supplement our fruits and veggies.

Day #14 - Monday, August 29

Hard Boiled Egg

Turkey Meatloaf
Carrot Squash Soup

Workout - Starting Strength
Post Workout Smoothie - banana, turnip greens, frozen strawberries, dark chocolate primal fuel, flaxseed meal

Hamburger w/romaine wraps

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day #10 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Thursday, August 25

Watermelon, Pineapple

1.5 Chicken Thigh
Chicken Veggie Soup
Salad - Green leaf lettuce, turnip greens, tomatoes, green pepper, pepitas (raw), dried cranberries, oil

Dinner - Cheat-o-rama
Pizza, Beer

The great week broke down last night when we had no meal planned and nearly all pre-made food gone. I didn't get home until nearly 7 and we've been working a second job each night this week. Our willpower had finally clocked out and we ordered pizza and had a beer! I won't let it deter me from forging on and trying my very best to keep the eating clean!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day #9 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Deelish Egg Bake
Wednesday, August 24

Egg Bake

Carrot Broccoli Salad
1/2 Pear
Honey Dew & Cantaloupe

Warm up - Run 400m
Starting Strength Workout - Squat (58lbsx5x3), Bench Press (53lbx5x3), Deadlift (83.5lbx5)

After Workout
Smoothie - Mango, banana, kale, turnip greens, frozen strawberries, flaxeed meal, Vanilla Primal Fuel

All Beef Hot Dog (last one from the trip)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day #8 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

1.5 hard boiled eggs

Beef vegetable soup

Egg Bake
Carrot Broccoli Salad
Strawberry Fruit Bar (cold treat - 100% fruit)
2 Dried Dates

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day #7 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

Meatloaf Mix-ins
After my trip, I did notice that when I ate grains and non "food" items, my digestion slowed to a halt. I am feeling rather down and out today, but I am not sure if I can attribute it all to my cheat meals.

Monday night I prepared a few large dishes for the week:

My Paleo Correct Meatloaf - This is a modified version of a recipe found in the The Paleo Diet book by Loren Cordain. I used yellow onion, green pepper, broccoli, grated carrot, parsley, 4 eggs, 1.5 lbs ground beef and 1 lb of ground turkey. I also used my own mixture of spices which included cumin, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

Egg Bake - 6 eggs, 1/2 lb ground beef, onion, green pepper, grated carrot, black pepper and cayenne.

Carrot Broccoli Salad - I used my amazing Saladmaster machine to grate 7 carrots and a couple broccoli stems. I added broccoli florets, raisins, almond slivers, and a tahini lemon dressing. This is my take on the popular mayonnaise-laden broccoli salad. The only thing missing is bacon. Bacon makes everything better. Except maybe ice cream.

Day #7 Food - Monday, August 22

Activia Greek Yogurt (aid digenstion)
All Beef Hot dog

Turkey sandwich

Trail Mix

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vacation Weekend - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

My husband and 2 younger siblings (brother, 20 years old, and sister, 17 years old) traveled to New Braunfels, TX to stay and play at Schlitterbahn Waterpark.

Since this trip coincided with the beginning of this challenge, I planned quite a few meals and snacks that would be paleo friendly. After completing some research for ideas and inspiration here's what I packed:

  • Dozen hard boiled eggs
  • All beef hot dogs
  • Ham and Turkey
  • Canned Tuna
  • 2 heads of lettuce for wraps
  • Tomatoes
  • Condiments (lower sodium options)
  • Dried veggie chips
  • Beef and Pork jerky
  • Homemade trail mix - pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, dried cranberries, golden raisins
  • Dried Figs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fruit - nectarines, bananas, plums

We also brought some red wine and light beer as well.

While we did have open meals while we were out on the road including some Czech kolaches and a meal at Cracker Barrel, I am proud to have attempted a paleo road trip. This success fuels the flame for this week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day #3 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

At work I am constantly presented with the opportunity to indulge in all sort of non-food treats. Donuts, breads, candy, cakes and yesterday -- ICE CREAM!

I recently read any article about dirty eating on a wonderful healthy living blog called Whole 9 Life.

It speaks to cheats in a no none-sense manner, which I appreciate! However, there was one part in particular resonated with me the most:

"Eat something because you want it, and because it’s special… not just because it’s there. Say someone brings donuts in to the office. You look at the plate and think, donuts are here. You could eat a donut. But you can have donuts any time you want. "

My work is one of the few environments where I'm constantly surrounded by junk food, so it really helps to get my "head right" any time I'm feeling that will power wane.

I am a part of the activities committee at my work and we held an ice cream social  yesterday. I attended the ice cream station for about 30 minutes and I'm proud to say that I did NOT eat any ice cream or popsicles. I had various people ask me, "don't you like ice cream??" to which I replied with something rather off topic. I don't like to rattle on about my diet choices when the person I'm speaking to is doing exactly opposite of what I believe.

While it might seem rather silly to take victory in refusing ice cream once, true success is the culmination of 1000 little victories. Thank you, Nate for that little tidbit and thanks to Whole 9, for keeping my head in the game!!

Scrambled Eggs
1 small sausage

It is not ideal to be eating sausage often due to many unknown ingredients. We will be prepared with healthier meat options next week.

Banana, dab of peanut butter

I need to bring some almond butter to work for the occasional snack! Peanuts are considered legumes rather than seeds or nuts. Legumes have an inferior protein to meat and therefore are generally not included in the Paleo diet. There are other reasons which I will discuss later.

Slaw (from yesterday)
Hard Boiled Egg


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day #2 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

2 Hard Boiled Eggs
1 Small Turkey Sausage

Slaw - green & purple cabbage, zucchini, carrot, radish, lemon zest, lemon juice, dash of EVOO
3 Dried Apricots

Pre-Workout: Banana
Post Workout: Primal Protein smoothie with kale, banana, frozen strawberries, and flaxseed


Burger Lettuce Wrap. Much like last night

Tonight we are on day #2 of our Starting Strength reset. We have established our starting point for the Squat (part of every workout day), but we still have to determine the difficulty for press and pull/chin ups.

We are on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. Eventually we'll start filling in those rest days with runs, crossfit workouts, rock climbing, etc. For now, though, we are focusing on strength.

I forgot to mention my weigh-in on Monday. While I am not focusing on the weight too much, Paleo eating has a great weight normalizing effect. If you couple that with some physical activity, you are destined to arrived at a natural weight for your body type.

I'll normally weigh in around once a week, but I wanted to illustrate how quickly you can drop excess water and undigested food when switching to clean eating:
Monday: 174.6lbs
Wednesday: 169lbs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day #1 - 30 Day Paleo Challenge

I'm gonna eat ya!
Last night Nate and I reset the Starting Strength program and performed evaluations again. We think we increased our weight too much, too fast and caused some strain. Now we are dialing back the ego a bit (*ahem*) and starting from where we can truly do the movements properly and still be challenging.

Last night I went on a cooking frenzy -- and it didn't even take me long! 

Baked Salmon
- my father-in-law caught a bunch of fish in Alaska and brought them back for our enjoyment. I love them because they thaw fairly quickly and can be prepared in a number of ways. I just chopped up some onion, pepper, and carrot and tossed it in a baking dish with the salmon. Rubbed some spices and added a bit of water to keep it from getting dry. 40 min at 350 degrees, amazing!!

Pork Sautee - Pork cutlets on sale, heck yes. I diced that up with some onion, pepper, mushroom, and can of tomatoes (no salt added). I made up my own concoction for the sauce, and it turned out amazing. 

Hard Boiled Eggs - We've finally perfected the hard boiled egg... let's hope so, we've made them so many times. Throw a dozen eggs in the bottom of a pan (ok, maybe don't throw, just lightly place). Add water until the water level is about 1 inch above the eggs. Put on high until you get a rolling boil - usually about 8 min or so on my stove. Immediately remove from the heat, cover and leave for 12 min. Quickly, but still gently, pour them into a colander to strain. It's a rule that we always eat one to make sure they're cooked to perfection. I mean...they could be really awful, right?? Plus, they are delicious when still warm. 

Day #1 
Hard Boiled Egg
Turkey Sausage

Pork Sautee

Baked Salmon
Burger Lettuce Wrap w/red onion, grated carrot, tomato

Today is a Rest day since we did SS yesterday. We decided we would work on our flexibility on our off days. Our lifting and other activities would be greatly improved if we just greased the ole gears again.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

30-day Paleo Challenge

It's been a while since I posted. We were doing very well with Starting Strength; making serious gains in our abilities to do the lifts properly and in the weight used. We were also doing great with maintaining the Paleo lifestyle.

However, weeks ago we both felt injured at the same time that our kitchen remodel began. These things together complicated our situation and slowed our momentum. This is what life does -- it throws a wrench in your self-improvement cogs over and over. You have every desire to improve and stick to a healthy lifestyle, but the old always comes back. You just have to decide if you let it take over or not.

After 3 weeks of little to no exercise and plenty of eating out -- we have decided to rekindle that fire and start over. We are doing the 30 day paleo challenge again, just as we did years ago when we first started. I will chronicle our journey including our workouts and meal planning.

This 30-day period begins tomorrow, August 16th, and ends on September 14th. This means that we'll eat Paleo foods for each meal: Meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts. Thus we leave out processed foods, dairy, alcohol, grains, and starchy foods like potatoes. We have decided to allow occasional legumes, but the focus will remain on superior protein sources like turkey, chicken, fish, and beef. We are going on vacation during that time period, so it will be challenging -- but that's why it's a challenge.

Tonight we'll be preparing and cooking for the week to ensure success!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Starting Strength

I'm still refining my voice and purpose in Enjoy Nature's Bounty... it is intended to be about more than just eating naturally provided foods (as natural as we can get now)! I want it to also be about enjoying what nature gave YOU, aka your body. Diet is an important part of being healthy, but so is physical activity. I am a firm believer in using your body weight and free weights rather than machines in the gym. Machines improve your ability to use that machine and not much else.

My husband and I have been doing Crossfit, Primal Blueprint, and Never Gymless workouts for a while now. The Crossfit gym we used to be members of (the cost became prohibitive) piqued our interest in weightlifting. When we left the gym, we started to build up our home gym to support a weightlifting and crossfit workout habit.  We now have a squat rack, bench, two Olympic bars, weights, dip station, two kettlebells, and a few other small  items. I have a weight rack on the way that will allow us to properly do presses.

We felt like our weightlifting abilities weren't such that we could easily and effectively do the Crossfit WODs (workout of the day) that involved lifting. So, we decided to do the program suggested by Starting Strength, by Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore. We do lifting 3x a week and rest the other 4 days. Those rest days are sacred as we are really working hard during these weightlifting exercises. Each day we increase our weight for each movement by 5-20 lbs, depending on the movement.

Here's our current schedule with two different workouts, called A and B.

A Workout
Bench Press

B Workout
Chin-up/Push-up (Alternate grips each time the workout is done)

We alternate these workouts each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This Wednesday we are starting on our 9th day with an A Workout.

I had a few set backs as we have large increments of weight for my abilities. We ordered a package of fractionals from Iron Woody that allows me to properly increase my weight and make gains without breaking down my form. So far we've make great improvements in our weightlifting and form! We will follow this program for as long as it continues to work. Once we can no longer add weight and improve our limits, we will start back with running, Crossfit, and our other favorite exercise methodologies. I will post some of my stats soon.

Interested in Starting Strength yourself?  Starting Strength (2nd edition)
Also, check out their website for a wealth of resources at their Starting Strength Wiki.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My favorite Paleo dressing

As I've said before, salads can be hard to eat consistently. I find this to be true for many people. I often see coworkers at the salad bar attempting to "be good" by choosing the salad route instead of a burger or pizza. However, at the end, so many load up on ranch or ceasar dressing and the oils and vinegars go unused. This act of dousing your greens in creamy goodness almost entirely counteracts those attempts to eat well.

 I admit that I've had a hard time giving up my favorite, french dressing. However, I've found quite a few delicious, simple and easy dressings. Below is my favorite:

Tahini Lemon Dressing

  • Equal parts tahini and water
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Fresh garlic/garlic powder
  • Cracked pepper, to taste
You can also chop up parsley or other fresh herbs. I sometimes spice it up with some cayenne or paprika.

I love using tahini because it is a natural source of calcium and it creates a creamy texture. My husband and I make multiple servings at once so we can dress up our salads throughout the week with minimal effort.

What's your favorite dressing?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paleo Meatloaf

Excuse the phone photo!  
Dr. Loren Cordain has published a number of Paleo Diet books, all of which have quite a few recipes. I've experimented with many of them and one of my favorites is the Paleo Meatloaf. Ever since switching to the Paleo Diet, I crave meat and veg instead of breads and sweets. Nothing is more satisfying to me than a hunk of meat!

This Sunday I prepared, among other things, meatloaf to get us through the week. I modified Dr. Cordain's recipe slightly:

Paleo Correct Meatloaf
1lb Ground Turkey
1lb Ground Beef
2 finely grated carrots (water squeezed out)
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 onions, finely chopped
1/2c chopped parsley
1/2c chopped cilantro
3 eggs, beaten (omega 3)
Homemade Taco Seasoning

If you don't squeeze the excess water from the veggies, your meatloaf will fall apart. It'll still be yummy, but hard to eat with a fork! Sometimes we make meatballs with the same recipe, but meatloaf is much less work.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Assisted Pushups

I have been working towards several things in my quest for better fitness:
  • 1 true pullup
  • 1 true pushup
  • 1 full squat
In the video below I show how I am able to prepare for the pushup motion by using elastic bands and a dip station. I love using multiple methods of progression so my muscles are always guessing. As I improve, I will reduce the band size. I do knee pushups as well, but I am still having issues with the correct arm angle. I have the BEST personal trainer: my husband! 

Later I will post a video of me learning how to do squats and pullups as well. Progressions and assistance are the key to success!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lettuce Wraps Galore

On the paleo diet, us cavepeople tend to eat alot of salads and veggies. We find it easier to maintain continued consumption when there's varying textures and  meat present! So, I try to find different ways to deliver the salad so we don't feel the salad slump.

This past week I made slider lettuce wraps as a salad departure. My husband raved about them! I used fresh green leaf lettuce, raw thinly sliced onion, tomatoes, and grated carrot. Each wrap contained around 1/6lb slider. Yummm!! This hand salad definitely doesn't disappoint.

You can use this same method for all kinds of sandwich  bread and tortilla-based dishes. I've found statistics that state Americans eat 45 billion sandwiches a year, or almost 200 each. Imagine what we'd do for ourselves if we ate just a few less sandwiches a week? I'll eventually talk about the advantage avoiding processed carbs in the form of grains and pastas, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner!

I could eat breakfast for dinner every day! I grew up eating eggs in every form and it's a good thing I did because my husband despised eggs when I met him. I was able to show him the way. They are so versatile and easy to cook. Even the most ill-equipped chef can scramble some eggs!

Trust me, I had more bacon than this. 
Unlike in many Asian cultures, the typical American breakfast does not usually include vegetables. If they are present, they are usually wrapped up in a cheesy omelet. That simply won't do! I believe that we need to incorporate as many healthful foods into our breakfast as possible. It sets the stage for the whole day -- both mentally and nutritionally.

Last night I fried up some bacon and scrambled four duck eggs and two chicken eggs for the two of us. We also lightly sauteed bok choy, green peppers, red onions, cabbage, carrot, and garlic in the delicious bacon grease. This completed our breakfast dinner!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hamburger Goodness

After a hard workout, my husband and I usually make a green smoothie with egg white protein powder (we avoid the whey-based powders). However, we love a good hearty, meaty dinner after as well.

Several nights ago we cooked up a couple burger patties with a load of onions and mushrooms. Then we wrapped them up in green leaf lettuce with some shredded carrot. Truly delicious!! I don't even miss the bun.

Sometimes we'll make a hamburger salad where we just sautee up some ground beef and throw thinly sliced red onion and any other veggies we have around. It's always easier for me to eat salads when they have meat on them! I don't think I'm alone in that.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Those Cavedudes Had it Right

The Paleo Diet encourages the consumption of foods found in nature, unmodified and unprocessed as much as possible. So, for the typical American diet full of grains, pastas, dairy, doesn't quite fit.

I'm so eating you tonight, badger.
I can vouch for the fact that including grains and dairy in your diet can cause extra pounds. I've transitioned to more strict paleo way of eating and in 10 days I've lost 7.4 lbs. This seems like an unhealthy amount, but some of it is water weight. I'm eating more than my fill of lean meats, veggies, and fruits. It is the closest to the natural, original diet of our ancestors.

Sure, perhaps cavemen did not live very long, but that's more because they were stabbed by a mammoth or suffered an infection after taking a fall. No cavemen had diabetes. No cavemen had heart disease or high blood pressure. These are diseases of affluence post-agriculture. Sure, these foods helped us be prolific, but they also produced life-threatening diseases.

My challenge to those that are dubious about this is to eat this way for 2-4 weeks. I feel so much more energetic and clear headed than when I am eating foods other than meat, fruits, and veg. The weight loss side effect is also amazing! Some say that it also improves acne, allergies, and can help diabetics no longer require insulin.

I believe our health is the most important aspect of our life. We sure are living longer than ever, but how healthy are we at the end?? We need to remain healthy and active to ensure a high quality of life after our 50s and 60s.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Great Eggs-periment!

The center top egg is your regular chicken egg. 
Muahahahaha....*ahem* sorry, I got a bit too excited about the various foul eggs I now have in my possession. I am lucky to have a variety of Asian markets in my area, so I came across duck and quail eggs in my shopping this week. It is unusual for the average American to have anything other than a chicken egg in their fridge, so our excitement isn't completely unfounded!

In our normal fashion when purchasing unfamiliar food, we google'd it.

Quail Eggs
Generally considered a delicacy. Some street vendors abroad top hamburgers/sandwiches with a hard boiled quail eggs. I've seen them fried on top of dishes at fancy restaurants, too.

You can cook hardboil them in 3 minutes. They have a light flavor similar to chicken eggs.

Duck Eggs
Look at the size of that duck yolk!
Larger than chicken eggs in both yolk and overall size. The egg whites also contain more protein so it is easier to overcook and produce tougher eggs. If you love yolks, you'll love duck eggs!

You can use duck eggs in place of chicken eggs in any recipe. In fact, they actually produce fluffier baked goods and firmer egg dishes (as I experienced with this week's quiche). They have a slightly different taste to regular eggs and a different yolk texture.

Eggs of all varieties are a great food to eat for the average paleolithic eater. Even if you aren't subscribed to that way of eating, that's ok! Eggs, especially Omega 3 eggs, are a great source of protein/amino acids and good cholesterol. It's also better to get farm fresh eggs, which I am in the process of acquiring!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paleo Tikka Masala

I absolutely love the spiciness and full flavor of Indian food. One of my favorites is Chicken Tikka Masala. Creamy tomato sauce and tender can you not love it? I recently learned that it is considered the most popular restaurant dish in the UK! I was completely unawares of the origin.

Typical Tikka Masala
"A survey in the United Kingdom claimed that it is that country's most popular restaurant dish.[3] One in seven curries sold in the UK is chicken tikka masala. The cross-cultural popularity of the dish in the UK led former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to proclaim it as "a true British national dish".[4] 

 In the past few years I've been exposed to Indian (and apparently British) food, both home made and at the buffet. So many dishes use ingredients in ways that aren't common here, so it piqued my interest. I absolutely love experiencing new cuisine.

My husband and I have been tooling around with paleo versions of Indian dishes. In this one I've taken multiple different recipes and created a paleo amalgamation!

Cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, black pepper, ginger, paprika, garlic, lemon juice, and coconut oil

Ghee, chopped onions, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, water

My paleo-tized version
 I marinaded chicken thighs for 1 hour, then placed them in the pressure cooker with the gravy ingredients. Cooked at pressure for 12 min, and allowed it sit for 10 before quick releasing the pressure.

I added coconut milk at the end to add a bit of creaminess!

Cauliflower "rice"
The spiciness of my dish required some rice-like companion. Cauliflower works really well! I even used the stem AND leaves. I'm not crazy, I promise. I added a bit of ghee and voila, it became a pretty darn good version for one of my favorite dishes!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Green Smoothie

Since dairy isn't a mainstay in our diet, we ensure that we get enough calcium in other ways. Kale is a calcium-rich food, with 15% of our DV (according to the FDA) in one serving. I know, kale is a garnish right?? Wrong! Sure, it is difficult to eat raw, but not in a smoothie.
I really crammed it in.
After an open meal at a friend's birthday brunch, I was full most of the day. So, instead of dinner I enjoyed a green smoothie:

Fruity Kale Smoothie
-cranberry water, 8oz (It is a mixture of 56oz water and 8oz unsweetened cranberry juice. Cranberries have a lot of benefits, so I use this sometimes.) or plain water
-2 large strawberries
-3+ leaves of kale
-frozen strawberries and blueberries

Put the ingredients in the order listed and let the blender rip! Don't be shy, let it run because kale is quite fibrous! When I feel in the mood for a sweeter smoothie, I'll use a bit of stevia. The taste of the kale is greatly muted and my husband and I love and now crave them. 

The Beginning - What's Paleo?

I enjoy eating fruits, vegetables, and meat - all that nature has to offer! I've never really been a picky eater and I've been blessed with an amazing, open-minded husband. We both decided to shift our diet to the Paleolithic WOE (way of eating) in 2008 as part of an ever-present quest to better oneself. I hesitate to call it a "diet" since it is meant to be a lifestyle change. Diets are so often a fad or completely unsustainable for the average person. Paleo is about eating the healthful foods which nature provides us, not highly processed, boxed "food" you find on the inside aisles of the grocery store.

If you aren't already aware, this WOE is based on our paleolithic ancestors' diet. This was before modern agriculture and the rise in eating grains and starchy foods like potatoes. This also includes dairy! I know how crazy this sounds... there are all kinds of "diets" out there, but no bread, pasta, OR cheese?! Uh, what? Don't worry, life sometimes is hard to plan for so open meals are "allowed" but I try to keep them infrequent! I personally have a very busy life, so I find this helps me stick with it even more by mentally allowing cheats and not being hard on myself. Plus, the dishes my husband and I make more than make up for the "loss" of those other foods. It also has an amazing weight normalizing effect, bringing your body to it's natural weight.

In the future I will be talking more about the Paleo WOE, why we do it, and how.

Our diet consists mostly of:
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Lean Meats
  • Nuts, dried fruit (limited amount)
  • Legumes* (in moderation) 
*Generally legumes are not considered Paleo since we have to cook most of them (among other reasons), but we have decided to include them in due to the cost savings and ease of use. Also, they're delicious.

We also came across Crossfit and the Primal Blueprint Fitness, so I'll be using this blog to track my food as well as my fitness!