My Oh My, Moroccan!

I made the most delicious dinner the other night. As you know from my previous posts, I am trying to spice it up a bit for dinners. This time I went out on a limb and wanted to see if I could find any delicious paleo recipes on Cooking Light. I love their magazine and books and I am usually depressed because they don’t have many dishes that can be considered paleo. But low and behold, this little gem! I couldn’t find a few of the ingredients at my local grocery store so I left them out and it was still just as delicious. The best part?? It was amazing the next day as leftovers!

I think everyone should try it out and I know you will be enticed by the smell as much as the delicious taste. So here it is, enjoy!

You can find the original recipe HERE

Sweet, smoky, and salty flavors blend beautifully in this quick adaptation of a classic Moroccan dish.

*I left out the ingredients in blue, still just as delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 8  ounces  peeled cubed butternut squash
  • 1/3  cup  halved pitted picholine olives (about 3 ounces)
  • 8  pitted dried plums, chopped
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven (I used a regular stock pot) over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and next 7 ingredients (through chicken); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, squash, olives, and dried plums; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes or until squash is tender. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Here is a horrible iPhone pic, but you get the idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay active, stay healthy and smile!

Elbow…Shmelbow…

Soooo…I’m having some MAJOR elbow issues! I broke my elbow pretty much in half when I was in first grade and had to wear a bright red cast (my favorite color) for months which kept my elbow in a strict right angle for far too long. Unfortunately I remember everything from that day including the weird way my arm was bent…not normal. How did this happen you ask?? Well I may or may not have been double dog dared to do a cherry drop off the monkey bars, and who could turn down a double dog dare?

Not this girl. So up I went….and down I came, hard, popping my elbow and breaking it. Afterwards my elbow healed and with some therapy I was back to full range of motion plus some. When looking at my elbow it seems to actually straighten too much, a lot of hyperextension for ya. Which is great to freak people out at a party but not so

great in the overhead squat area.

So what are the main points of an overhead squat besides tight lumbar curve and weight on the heels…oh yes. Active shoulders. Exactly. The flexibility and shoulder strength come but a person can’t do a good, heavy overhead squat without active shoulders. Which is exactly what I tell myself when I’m setting up for a lift. Now, fast forward into a WOD…AMRAP in 20 of 10 overheads, etc. Round 3 comes into play and suddenly my hyperextended elbow can’t support the weight so it has to bend slightly to take the tension off the hyperextended joint. My elbow is actually straight when I bend it slightly which is great except a bent elbow carries hardly any strength. This therefore doubles the effort to get active shoulders because the strength is focused on keeping the elbow bent instead of pushing the shoulders up into the ears and pressing out. With my left elbow bent, my right has to support all of the weight and yep, you guessed it, there go my active shoulders and my ability to lift anything heavy overhead in a wide overhead grip. Grrr.

So here I sit, wondering how I will be able to fix a problem that stems from my bone structure and not a mobility issue. I am going to work with the overhead squat to see if different grip widths will help, but without a locked elbow and active shoulders I don’t see much heavy overhead squatting in my future.

I am going to work on this and hopefully give some updates in the near future… Anyone else have this problem??

Yum! Yum! Shrimp!

I had a delicious paleo meal last night and I must share. I spent the day searching for a good recipe that both my fiancée and I could enjoy. He definitely watches what he eats and works out every day but he isn’t strictly paleo. He still eats grains but ever since I started this paleo diet  back in June he has definitely become more conscientious about what he eats. Plus I do the cooking on most nights so he kinda has to eat what I cook 🙂 So, goal for the day, find a new recipe that wouldn’t be too difficult, would work for both of us, and would be different! I am so sick of eating chicken and turkey every single night.

And as I am sure all Paleo junkies do, I have a go to bookmark folder at the top of my browser where I have earmarked great Paleo websites that I have stumbled across in my search for new and exciting recipes. Jumping straight to that folder I began my search. I found a ton of things I could cook but they just didn’t seem right. And then, out of no where I found it, Shrimp! I haven’t cooked shrimp in a coon’s age (ha ha) and I conveniently has a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer. (No, frozen shrimp isn’t the most ideal choice, but sometimes you have to go with what you have). So, with a few changes and tweaks to the recipe below I had a very delicious paleo meal.

So here it is. Graciously grabbed from Everyday Paleo, hands down one of my favorite paleo websites!

Shrimp Tacos

1 bag of frozen already cooked tail removed shrimp – thawed and drained

1 cup cherry tomatoes halved

1 green bell pepper sliced

1 tbsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 handful of cilantro

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a jar of salsa verde

1 head of iceberg lettuce leaves for taco shells

Cut the thawed shrimp in half and set aside.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the cilantro and bell peppers until tender, add the cherry tomatoes and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the shrimp, the spices, and the salsa, mix well and cook just until the shrimp are warm.  Serve in the lettuce leaves with sliced avocados and shredded purple cabbage.

There you have it! Enjoy!

Stay active, stay healthy, and smile!

 

I’m BACK!

Hello World!

Yes, I know… For shame! I am hanging my head right now at my long and sad absence from writing in this blog. It was not without lots and lots of guilt if that makes you feel better. I actually had bookmarked my blog address at the top of my browser and every single day when I would get on the internet I would look up and feel incredibly guilty for not writing. I could claim life, work, and everything else in between has kept me away, but there truly is no excuse for being gone this long.

So, here I am. I am not going to wait for a New Year’s Resolution to get this thing going again. For one, because that hardly ever works and two, because hopefully if I can get back into the swing of things, writing here will be more of a habit and not so much of a chore. So there you have it!

Updates are definitely in order! I am incredibly excited to announce that in September of this year, (my 2 year Crossfit anniversary Yay!) I got certified! Woo Hoo! I am officially a Level 1 Certified Instructor! Since then I have begun teaching at my affiliate and it is probably the most rewarding and fun thing I have ever done and the certification itself was an amazing experience. Besides the fact that we were in the presence of some Crossfit All Stars, we pretty much got a 48 hour non stop Crossfit workout! Who could ask for anything more!  Our Certification was in Allen, TX and our instructors included Miranda Oldroyd, Russel Berger, and Todd Widmann to name a few. They were absolutely amazing teachers and I learned more about Crossfit than I ever thought possible.

Although it was fun and exciting I definitely can’t say it was easy. Besides the fact that we literally had to memorize a 125 page manual before even showing up, at the end of the weekend they make you regurgitate all of the information on a 50 question multiple choice test. So the girls and I spent almost every waking minute of the weekend that we weren’t working out, studying and quizzing each other off of flash cards that we made. I can speak for all of us and say we were absolutely stressed out to the max! None of us wanted to be the one lady out of the group to fail the test and have to come back and face our affiliate, not to mention the awkward 5 hour drive home.

But after much anxiety and many kind words of encouragement from Miranda,

we all passed with flying colors! Hooray! And now we are officially Crossfit Certified!

And I am happily training at Crossfit Jenks. I started teaching the On Ramp class, Monday and Wednesdays at 6:30 pm and Saturday at 11:00 am. So if you are thinking of trying out Crossfit and not quite sure if it is for you, come out and try a free introductory class on Saturday!

Besides being an amazing workout and stress reliever, it is constantly varied and never gets boring. And I promise to be nice the first day 🙂

That is all I have for now. I promise to not be a stranger and keep up with the Paleo tips and Crossfit updates! Until next time! Stay active, stay healthy, and smile!

Mirror…Mirror…Reflections from Regionals

Hell’s Half Acre is over and boy, am I happy!

It was brutal 100 degree heat, scorching black top, and searing metal bars, but after two days and four WODs I can officially say that I went, competed, and came out better than when I went in. To say that I am happy this weekend is over is probably an understatement. There were multiple days leading up to the event where I would find myself staring into space thinking, “What the Hell am I doing?” “Why did I think this was a good idea? “Someone please, remind me!” And then I would hit the gym that night, hard, working on my weaknesses, adding more weights and making gains that I never thought were possible.

I spent most of May stressed. Actually, stressed is an understatement, I was stressed, frazzled and in a constant state of anxiety, wondering how the limited number of hours in a day could possibly prepare me for what the end of the month would bring. I had so much to improve on that it felt like a monumental task that I wasn’t sure I could complete. Besides getting at least 10 handstand push ups in a row, I had to master the muscle up, get my squat snatches higher than the 85lbs I was used to lifting and all of the other laundry list of things that I needed to do. It was such a different feeling. Sectionals brought out the worst of nerves in me. I woke up every morning with a ball in my stomach and worried that I would vomit at any minute. Regionals however, the nerves couldn’t even touch me because my stress level was so high. It was such a 180.

And then one day, while I was training, 2nd WOD of the day, tears welled in my eyes as I failed yet another muscle up…Attempt number 75 of the day I am sure. I walked to the bathroom filled with frustration and had to stop myself as the anger rose. Breathing deeply I began to reflect on May, the first month that I had went unlimited, coming to the box every single night, working hard and realized the gains I had made. For the first time since training for Regionals I was left with a sense of accomplishment. To hell with the things I couldn’t do…Look at the things I have done!  I finally got my muscle ups, 3 of them the Wednesday before Hell’s Half Acre, I had one good 105lb squat snatch that Monday…good enough for me, I was doing about 5 handstand push ups in a row, and I was having times that I wouldn’t have fathomed possible in March or April. I was as ready as I was going to be for this…so lets bring it on.

For those of you who don’t know the WODs, they were as follows:

Individual event 1 – Snatch/OHS
10 Bars will be set up for men and women – 20 total per heat.
Weights for the men’s bars:
135/145/155/165/175/185/195/205/215/225
Weights for the women’s bars:
75/85/95/105/110/115/120/125/130/135

At each station athlete must complete:
1 Squat Snatch with 2 Overhead Squats or 1 Power Snatch with 3 Overhead Squats
Athletes will have 45 seconds to complete all three movements.
Athletes will have 15 seconds between stations.
Athletes will finish the workout when they are unable to complete all 3 movements within 45 seconds.

Individual event 2 – Weighted half Cindy
10 Minute AMRAP of:
5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats
Men will be wearing a 20lb short weighted vest, Women will be

Individual event 3 – DU/DL/SBR/Row
For time:
100 Double Unders
3 Rounds of:
10 Deadlifts(275/185lbs)
1 Sandbag run(75/50lbs)
Then row 1K

Individual event 4 – Final Event
For time:
10 Muscle Ups
15 Handstand Push Ups
20 Squat Cleans (155/105lbs)
Run the Block

Overall I ended up in 19th place. The first WOD was my weakest and I knew this going in. I failed at 105lb which was ok, because Cindy was on deck and I knew that I could do that WOD no problem. Cindy came and went and I ended up making 10 full rounds which was my goal. So I left Saturday content with where I sat. The competition was steep and I was just happy to be one of the contenders. WOD 3 came, Double Unders are my favorite movement in Crossfit so starting off with them felt great. And as I descended on the 185lb deadlifts I realized quickly that my body was not going to like this one bit. But I got through it, painfully, and ended with the row. The sandbag run was actually like a rest for me after the horrendous deadlifts. The workout ended, 11:20, hey it was over, good enough for me. And lastly… the muscle up workout. Stress and anxiety filled me as I waited. I just remember saying in my head over and over, “Just please don’t let me be the only one standing there failing these things.” I was so worried that I would be the last competitor in my heat still at the ring station as the crowd watched, embarrassed for me.

When the heat was preparing to start, two other women came to choose their rings stations next to me and looked just as nervous as I. Could it be that everyone was feeling the pressure?? Chatting briefly before the clock began I learned that neither of them could do a muscle up either! Hallelujah. I wasn’t alone. And then…3…2…1…Go.

4 Muscle ups, 35 attempts and two bloody wrists later the WOD was over. No, I didn’t move on to the next movement, but I had gotten four muscle ups in this WOD, more than I thought I could have ever done, and definitely more than I could do as May began 30 long days ago.

So, in retrospect, am I glad I competed? Yes, every single day. I am proud of my accomplishments and glad that even though the challenge looked too great, and I could have given up at any moment, I did it. I gave my all and now it’s on to the next one.

5 Tips for Eating Paleo on a Budget

So one of my biggest problems/aversions to Paleo is the significant cost increase in all of my food. Before Paleo I could go to the grocery store and for just me, spend around $50 and get a great week’s worth of meals. When I first began this I was shocked at the money I was spending at the store, every week, not including the small trips to the store to pick up extras for dinner here and there. I couldn’t believe that eating healthy, although great for your body was so bad for your bank account, and I don’t even buy all of my food at the local Whole Foods! I couldn’t imagine how bad that would be for my budget, especially when things such as avocados are about $3 a piece! NO thank you. 

 I know there are a ton of Paleo-ers out there who buy gobs of grass-fed beef, snack only on organic fruits and veggies, and I applaud you. That is great. However, my budget and lifestyle does not allow me such luxuries. So, as clean and as “organic” as I can get it has to fit into a tight budget. And although I am not an expert on saving money or paleo for that matter, I thought I would give a few tips that have helped me during this challenge.

1. Buy veggies and fruits in season. This is the first and most important tip. As you all know fruits and veggies make up about 70% of our diet which means it makes up about 70% of the money we spend. So a good way to stay eating great fruits and veggies is to eat what is in season. When I began this a few months ago apples were in full bloom meaning that I could buy a pound of apples at times for about a $1.00. I would stock up on apples and forgo something like strawberries which looked delicious but would have costed me about $3.50 for a small carton (think about 15 strawberries). Those strawberries would have been gone in a day but for $2 I could have apples all week. Buying fruit in season can also be a bit boring. I am sure after about three weeks of apples I was done, but it is a great excuse to get creative! Instead of just slicing up an apple, I would dice it and put it in salads, or slice long thin strips and bake them for some delicious apple chips sprinkled with cinnamon. Now, fast forward to today, I can go to the store and get a carton of strawberries for around $1. So buying in season will save you money while still allowing you to buy great produce.

2. Always look for the sale. This seems quite elementary, but can save you a ton of money at the register. Think about it in the same light as you do ‘buying in season”. I can tell you that there are some weeks when I am craving some bell peppers, but not the green ones, those beautiful big red, yellow, and orange ones. Oh my,  I can just sit around and think of all the ways I would like to use those in my meals. And then, bubble burst when I arrive at the store to see each pepper is running about $2.00 each. Excuse me?!? No, thank you. But believe me, one of those days I know I will go and look and they will be on sale for about $.80 each and then you better believe I am stocking up. Sales make a huge difference in your bottom line so look for the produce with the big red sale sticker and you should reap the benefits.

3. Plan out your meals ahead of time. Besides saving you time during the week, especially in the mornings, this can also be a big help at the grocery store. Planning out your meals, specifically dinner, can help you stay within your budget and eliminates extra food you might throw into your basket. I know I am guilty of having an impromptu grocery store night and showing up without a game plan. I tend to walk around the store trying to devise meals as I go, buying way more than I need, because maybe one day I can make this…or I should get these because I might make this one night. And yet, it never fails, I either do not get enough ingredients to cook what I was thinking in my head, or the food just goes to waste because I have gotten more than I can eat. Sigh, money wasted. So, before you even think about going to the store, plan out your food and what you will need for each meal and stick to it. Don’t buy that extra eggplant for $2.95 because you think one night you could grill it. Believe me, 9 times out of 10 you won’t.

4. Buy meat in bulk to last the week. I tend to find that my meat selection is usually the highest price on my ticket. Although it only makes up about 25% of my grocery shopping, it is still quite a large chunk of change. To offset the high price of meat I try to look for the bulk size packs of meat. Instead of buying a small amount of chicken for $6 that will feed me for that night’s dinner, I will get the bulk pack for $2 or $3 more and it will last me the week, for multiple meals. Instead of buying one filet of salmon, I try to find the halibut or tilapia that comes with 3 or 4 filets. I then can cook one that night for dinner and put the rest in a ziplock bag for a quick meal later on in the week.

5. Plan out your grocery shopping night and try out a few stores if necessary. . This last tip sort of wraps up 1-4. A night of grocery shopping, although tedious and usually unpleasant, should be scheduled into your weekly activities so you can get the most out of it. I find that some nights I may have to try a few different stores to get everything that I need. A sale at one grocery store, may not be at another. Therefore I might buy a few sale items here and then slide on over to the other neighborhood market where I know the veggies are regularly cheaper. Don’t force yourself to get everything done in one spot, you will spend more money than you have to. Your meal plan for the week will help out in this situation. You can highlight the foods for one location and underline the ones you can get cheaper at another location. If you know you can only get your brand of cashew butter at Whole Foods, put that stop on your list as well. Being prepared and knowing your local markets will help. Get online and look up the sales for the store that week, and hey they might even have a coupon or two!

I hope that these quick five down and dirty tips help you feel more confident about eating Paleo on a budget. Sticking to these has really helped me keep my Paleo foods within a range that I feel comfortable in and can afford. So happy shopping!

A few thoughts

Paleo this week has been great! I have been able to stick to the eating plan and keep it clean! I went shopping on Monday night and grabbed a ton of great fresh things including zucchini and squash, cilantro for my cilantro shrimp and a ton of fruit including this beautiful picture here: Oh my Strawberry/Blackberry heaven! Usually blackberries are way too overpriced for me and I frequently have to pass them up. But Monday must have been my lucky day because sitting in front of me at the grocery store was a huge box of them (not those wimpy ones that hold like four blackberries, but the big mamajammas) and it was only $3!! Yay! Perfect for my budget paleo meals. So grabbing a nice beautiful box of those and two boxes of strawberries I was set for a delicious week of snacks!

This discovery couldn’t have come at a better time. About 3 weeks ago I had an intervention. I finally hit rock bottom and actually admitted to myself that I had a problem. I was addicted…addicted to cranberries and cashews. UGH. I absolutely had to cut them out. I was going through way too many cans of cashews and I wasn’t seeing any results being restrictive on Paleo. It had to be my sweet sweet delicious mixture. Since then I have been cashew/cranberry free and I feel great! I do still put cranberries on my salads but only about a teaspoon and occasionally I eat them with an almond so I can choke it down (yuck!) but alas, no more mindless munching and haphazard handfuls. I had broken away! Thank goodness. And now with summer I am hoping to eat more and more fruits and veggies!

On a side note. I have been having a particularly hard time at Crossfit. My performance in the workouts has been fine and some days even great. But one crossfit movement has been evading me. The Muscle Up..dun dun DUUUNN. Yes, the dreaded muscle up. I just can’t get those darn things to click. I have done a few legit ones in my day, a total of four or five, but I have entire days when I fail over and over again. It is so frustrating. So. My new goal is to focus on getting a muscle up and hopefully each day I will get to practice them and they will click. Fingers crossed!