Archive | March, 2012

This is a Guilt-Free Zone.

30 Mar

If there is one thing to be relativistic about, it is food.  Maybe I have backed myself into a paleo-corner via blog.  People want to talk food with me, but often from a place of “I keep failing.”  I have even run into friends at the grocery store who have covered their cart: they didn’t want me to see what they were buying.  #paleoelitism.

Look, I get it. I do not eat perfectly 100 percent of the time.  I have, however, been eating clean for three years now.  So it’s definitely easier now than it has been.  It’s routine for me.   But I know there are seasons in life: sometimes eating clean fits in well, and then there are times it takes more effort.

Don’t think of your clean diet endeavor the wrong way.  This is not a deprivation.  Sadly, our society has prioritized instant-gratification above wellness, and wholeness.  Then the “food” industry exploits our weakness for a profit.  Rise above the distractions, and consider the vast variety of foods we were designed to eat.  It’s a blessing to have access to so much  in this country!  Gratitude.

Who doesn’t CRAVE to feel, look, and perform better?  Eating a primal diet doesn’t mean you are on one side of the fence or another.  Instead, think about it as walking down an avenue leading toward prime wellness.   There may be stops or turns along the way, but you can’t wait to continue the walk!  It is not a tedious trip on a balance beam.

You aren’t going to undo the foundation you are laying with one bad day.  Or one bad week.  Zoom out from your daily grind, and take a look at the bigger picture.  And, when you stop by here, see us as a resource for clean meals, ideas, and encouragement, and keep a perspective of flexibility.  There are so many media that will make you feel totally inadequate, and it can deter you from even caring.

I hope we are a boost for you.

Enjoy your journey!
Leigh and Heather

Primal friendly bake sale treats

29 Mar

I love any opportunity to cook or bake for others. When a bake sale comes up I usually jump at the chance. This one was a bit challenging for me since I gave up honey for Lent, but a great exercise in willpower nonetheless!

Here are two easy options sure to please both kiddos and adults, while not compromising your inner desire to free the world from processed sugar and grains. It’s a shame my own kids picked out cake pops instead, but hey—remember it’s all about balance!

1. Almond Flour Honey Sweetened Trail Mix Cookies

  • 2.5 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 Tbsp coconut oil (or butter, or ghee) melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first three ingredients in large bowl. Mix together vanilla, melted oil, and honey and combine with the dry ingredients. Fold in remaining ingredients. Roll into small balls, flatten slightly and place on parchment lined baking pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

For some versatility:

  • Forego the honey to make a savory scone type treat (did this on accident once and was pleasantly surprised with the results!)
  • Use any “trail mix” ingredients: dark chocolate chips, almond slivers, raisins, chopped apricots…..

2. Homemade Larabar balls

Original Cookie Dough Flavor recipe here. Try adding 1 Tbsp of coconut oil instead of the water for added richness, and to make the mixture stick better.

Mocha Cocoa Flavor

  • 2 cups nuts of your choice
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp coffee grounds
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Pulse nuts in food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until finely ground, and mixture starts to clump together. Form into balls OR flatten in parchment lined 8×8 pan, refrigerate 1-2 hours, and cut into bar shapes.

Happy Thursday,

Heather

Beef Bulgogi

28 Mar

Go ahead and double this recipe, then pop one bag of marinating meat in the freezer!

2 lbs sirloin tip roast sliced paper thin
1/4 c soy sauce
2 finely chopped green onions
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger, or 1/4 tsp dried ground
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/8 tsp pepper of choice

Mix all marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag.  (If the meat is going on the grill, leave it whole, and slice after cooking.  If you are going to sauté the meat in a skillet, slice it in 1/2 inch strips ahead of time.)  Add meat to the marinade, and marinate–preferably overnight.

Grill or stir-fry in skillet with marinade…this cooks really quickly so watch it carefully…a little pink is okay!

Serve over thinly shredded cabbage.  I sautéed mine in coconut oil, then seasoned it by tossing in a few shakes of soy sauce, 1-2 tsps of sesame oil, and about 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds.

Garnish with limes and cilantro, and some red pepper flakes if you desire!

**My grocery store labeled the meat as for “Rouladen.”  Basically it is sirloin roast sliced paper thin.  You can see more awesome Bulgogi how-to photos here.  This recipe was given to me by my friend Amy.

Enjoy!
Leigh

Zaza ganoush

26 Mar

I set out to make baba ganoush for some company on Friday but realized a little too late that I forgot to buy eggplant.  I stared at the large supply of zucchini in my fridge (I was planning on making a big ol’ batch of zoodles this weekend!) and wondered if it would make a good sub.  Turns out it did!  Everyone devoured the final product and adoringly named it “zaza ganoush!” Another name option was “zuzu ganoush,” but that was just too close to the annoying hamster toys my kids strangely adore.

4 large zucchini
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Cube zucchini, add olive oil and coat generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter on foil lined pan and roast zucchini approximately 45 minutes or until tender. Take out of oven and let cool slightly. This step can be done far ahead of time if necessary or more convenient.
Add roasted zucchini and the remainder of the ingredients to food processor and pulse until nice and creamy. Add salt, pepper, and/or more spices to taste after initial run. (I’m notorious for adding a bit more of everything towards the end!)

This was delicious both slightly warm straight out of the food processor and chilled the next day. I admit to adding leftovers to jazz up my kale omelet at breakfast, my spinach and chicken salad for lunch, and scraping every last bit of the container with cucumbers and carrots for a snack all day! I think this dip/sauce has endless possibilities! YUM!

Enjoy,

Heather

Fat Loss and the Paleolithic Diet

23 Mar

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”

 “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”

I am not a doctor, or a dietician, or an exercise expert by any means.  My knowledge comes from what I have read and listened to, the seminars I have attended, and our personal results.  Not exactly an official expert.  Still,  countless friends have come to me, asking about weight loss through CrossFit/Paleolithic Diet.

Eating this way helped me to lean out–and remain lean–through the last three years, including a pregnancy and a year of nursing without ever feeling hungry or deprived.

But fat loss alludes some people who are trying this diet.

If you haven’t seen body composition results come quickly, here are a few reminders.

1. LEAN meats and vegetables, and healthy fat should constitute every meal.  Period.  Embrace your food as nourishment and enjoy the way it makes you feel to eat clean.

2.  Limit your snacks of nuts and fruit to 1-2 servings a day.  A serving of nuts is generally 1/4 cup.  So yeah, that means measure.  If you are not super hungry, skip them that day.  Listen to your body.

3.  Paleo baked goods (pancakes, muffins, granola, cookieslarabars, and all other “paleo” confections) are treats.  Treat=Cheat.  I understand they help you transition from the typical, American, 7-11 diet.  Shelve them if you are looking for quick fat loss.  They will inhibit your results, as well as keeping you on the glycemic rollercoaster.

I didn’t have my first paleo cookie until this year.  Now that “paleo” has become mainstream and more of a fad, there are tons of recipes that are delicious and tempting…be suspect.

4.  Avoid alcohol and other calorically-dense beverages.

5.  Keep moving.  In addition to your high intensity strength training, walk and bike everywhere as much as possible.  Avoid a sedentary existence at all costs.  This doesn’t mean becoming treadmill slave…unless you honestly just love gym time.  But embrace a “roaming” lifestyle.  Make long walks and easy jogs a routine.  Don’t tell me you don’t have childcare, bring them alongside.  They need it too!

6.  If you are not hungry, don’t eat.  A natural hunger signal is a growling stomach, regardless of our customary meal times.  Wait for the growl, it might actually take longer than you think.  Don’t worry, it will come.  Then, eat modestly and move on.  Don’t worry!  Because another growl will come in a few hours, and you will have another chance to eat!  Trust your natural signals, and allow your body to regulate itself.

7.  Ask yourself if you actually have “weight” to lose.  Are you trying to gain lean muscle mass and lose excess body fat, or are you dreaming of being an underwear model?   There is a difference between being fit and being SKINNY.  Skinny is a bad word.  It means weak.  It means malnourished.  It means deprivation and hunger.  I can tell you how to get skinny.  Private message me.

If you don’t have fat to lose, or you are in a place of maintenance, you can be a little more liberal about your fattier cuts of meat, fruits and nuts, “cheat days” and paleo baked goods.

Take heart, friend.  Even if you are not losing fat as fast as you would like, know that you are doing your body many more favors with healthful foods that give you tons of energy, boost your performance, and put you in the prime of your life.

Enjoy YOUR journey!
Leigh

Your Primal Family

22 Mar

Like we mentioned in our Paleo Pals post, it can be a challenge to switch to a primal lifestyle with children. Adults are generally open to trying new foods, understanding basic scientific research, and mustering up enough self-discipline to make some changes. Kiddos, on the other hand, are a bit more resistant to giving up mac-n-cheese for steak.  Too bad I can’t go back in time with my kids so they always thought a perfect snack was blueberries and chicken instead of Goldfish and fruit snacks!

An important thing to remember is to not to use the word diet with them. We don’t want our little ones to think they are on a diet or (gasp!) need to be on one. Present it with a focus on health and fitness, and in terms of what makes us grow up “big and strong”.  A dear friend’s daughter used to say “I don’t want that because it won’t make me grow big and strong like Daddy.” I have since borrowed the phrase for my family (although…I like to put an emphasis on strong Mommies too!).

Another simple thing is to ask your kids, “does it grow on trees or up from the ground?” OR “does it come from an animal?” Our kids love to answer these questions with excitement when asked, and feel super smart and confident when they know the right choice!

Balance is also key. Like we mentioned in our interviews, our kids are somewhere around 70/30 when it comes to primal/paleo eating. At home, the pantry is stocked with a variety of nuts, trail mix, applesauce, nitrate free beef jerky, larabars and dried fruit, and the fridge with eggs, fresh fruit, nitrate free deli meat, full fat cheese, leftover meats, and an array of fresh veggies.

Here is where we incorporate the wiggle room:  hot lunch at school once a week, birthday parties, special trips to McDonald’s (they are kids, they love it, they know it’s a special treat…and for me, their salads aren’t half bad!), flavored Greek yogurt, grain free waffles, Pirate Booty, homemade stove top popcorn (thank you, Leigh for introducing this to our family..so fun!), gluten-free cereals, and after dinner (did you make a happy plate?) ice cream or Easter basket treats. It keeps them happy, well-adjusted, and promotes compromise.

Some other good tips include:

-Have them eat some form of protein with every meal or snack. This can be eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, and at the very least nut butter. It’s funny to hear my 5-year-old tell her older sister to “pick her protein” when she is begging me to have only a grain-free waffle for breakfast.

-When in doubt for lunch or a quick dinner, invest in some frilly toothpicks and roll up some nitrate free deli meat, cube some cheese, slice up apples and cucumbers, plate some carrots, bowl some nuts or trail mix, and serve with a friendly Ranch dressing. My kids deem this our “sample tray” lunch or dinner, request it often, and devour it within minutes.

-Talk to them about how they feel after eating too many sugary snacks. We have had this discussion many times post birthday party when tummies and heads don’t feel right, or bathroom issues persist the next day.  Encourage them to understand the concept of “what you eat today–walks and talks tomorrow.”

-Start with the family dinner. Make it 100% primal, make it fun, and eat it together. If we make the right choices in front of our kids, they will eventually follow suit. I see this a lot not only with food, but fitness too. When they see me training, or coaching other women in the garage they beg to get involved and work on their box jumps and tricks on the rings!

If you are sold on the paleo/primal lifestyle, it seems given that you would want to fill your children’s bellies with the nutritious foods they deserve. We see many people who are believers but not quite capable of getting their kids on board. Perhaps out of fear? Organization and planning?

Fill us in on what is holding you back. Or, fill us in on what has worked for you and your family. We can lend an ear, shed some light, and share the love!

Since we got a lot of great feedback on the lunchbox post a few weeks back, I’ll leave you today with another week of packed lunch ideas. It’s up to you whether or not to fill the tiny treat square. It keeps my first grader coming home with every last brussels sprout eaten, and that makes me a very happy mommy!

Enjoy, and we look forward to your feedback!

Just say no to flip-flops

21 Mar

My husband showed me this video from Mobility WOD a year ago and proclaimed that we should never wear flip-flops again. I didn’t think much of it at the time because we were living in California, and I selfishly did not want to give up sporting my Chacos year round.

Fast forward to next Spring. My feet have been in some form of boot or shoe for the Winter and when the weather reached record highs this week in NY, I caved and broke out my Chaco flips. Let me tell you….after yesterday, I’m going along with my husband and never wearing flip-flops again.

A couple short walks to and from my kid’s school lead to random “charley horses” in the arches of my feet for the remainder of the evening and slightly swollen ankles.  I have a feeling my body was trying to tell me something!

I encourage you to check out the video, but this is basic run-down of what happens to your feet when you wear flip-flops:

you clench your toes to keep your shoes on plantar fascia at the bottom of your foot shortens  calf muscles get tight and stressed  ankle mobility issues  achilles pain  knee pain  sciatic nerve pain

I’m not telling you to forego your flip-flops all together, but maybe save them for walks from your beach chair to the pool this Summer. Below are my favorite ways to beat the flip-flop blues and save my feet and legs for more important things like 400s, box jumps, and burpees!

-Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers
-Toms (they have nice “air conditioned” versions new for Spring and ballet flats!)
-Chacos with the back strap
-Converse Chucks
-New Balance Minimus
-Keen Sandals with the back strap or full heel
-Going barefoot in my yard or short jaunts to the park on clean streets
-When in doubt, do the toe test (if you scrunch your toes at all, search for a model with more support!)

Happy Spring,

Heather

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