Updates, Updates from Paleo Land

Well I have been on this Paleo Challenge for about 7 weeks now which, believe me, is a lot longer than I expected. Despite the fact that I “bought” in and decided to do this Paleo Challenge at our gym, I hadn’t really given myself up fully. Whether it was consciously or subconsciously, I had always given myself an “out”. For example, something like, “if I don’t see any results in the first two weeks then I can go back to the way I was eating”, or “I can have some cheat meals during the week since I eat pretty good in the first place”. I had put these things in place to give myself an excuse if I couldn’t cut it…to give myself an “out”. If my will power was weak and I allowed myself to fall off the wagon and not get back on, it was ok, because I had told myself this would happen. Basically, I had set myself up for failure.

Now, 7 weeks into the Challenge I am not only shocked but impressed with my perseverance. Sure, there were times I cheated, as you may have read, but I didn’t use those times as excuses to stop the challenge, I just picked myself up, dusted myself off and began the next day with a renewed spirit and positive motivation. When I have hit some challenging weeks trying to figure out how to eat Paleo on a budget and strict schedule I just did the best I could, eating clean, focusing on making food that I could eat the next day that would be easy to grab and a way to take the stress out of all of my meals. I have learned how to go to a restaurant and deny the urge to get what I know I shouldn’t be eating, or ask for no cheese on the salad when it would be so easy to, forget the request and have to eat the feta. But every time I have  chosen the Paleo road and it is not only surprising but inspiring to myself. I know that I can now take on any challenge and even though there might be times when I trip and stumble a bit I can always reach my goal.

I would rather be the one who falls down multiple times and gets back up than the one who walks way without ever pushing myself to see what I could be. I can do this.

And now, enough talk. Lets post some recipes!! Well I haven’t gotten to try this one yet, but it is on my list. I have frequently had meals, stuffed with meat and veggies, wishing I had some sort of bread like substance to make up for the unchanging texture I was eating. And TaDa! My wish was fulfilled. I found this little gem on a Paleo website I was perusing called, Cavegirl in the Kitchen  Here you have it…Crepes!

Basic Crepes/Wraps
Ingredients:

5 eggs

1/2 Cup + 2 TB almond flour

2 tsp raw honey (warmed)

pinch of salt

Pam, for the pan to cook the crepes

1. Whisk the first 4 ingredients together.
2. Put in the fridge to chill for 10-15 mins
3. Heat an 8″ pan (or crepe maker if you have one) on Med-Low.
4. Brush the pan with butter and pour in about 1/3 cup of the mixture. Tilt the pan around until it makes a thin layer
5. Watch closely as it will only take a short time for the bottom of the crepe to brown. Gently loosen the edges with a spatula and flip
6. Cool on a rack and enjoy! This recipe made 4 crepes.

I am hoping to make these tonight! I’ll let you know how they go.

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date

I think the words “busy week” might be an understatement for how my week has been going. I never actually realized how inconvenient eating Paleo was until now. Has anyone else ever had a week from hell that has left them driving around wondering where they could ‘forage’ for some cave man food. Because, that is what I was doing tonight. It was too late to go to the grocery store and cook something and I couldn’t think of one restaurant that had anything Paleo friendly in the slightest.

Coming off of a weekend away leaves one’s refrigerator bare. Especially if there aren’t any processed foods lying around. Obviously all of my food is fresh and has a finite lifespan, meaning it was like, “hurry up and eat it because it won’t be good on Monday” mentality. Well that was true and Monday came along with only a few eggs and some packed tuna for meals. Sigh.

Now it’s one thing to come back from vacation and have a bare refrigerator. Then it is an entirely different scenario to come back from vacation and be unable to go to the grocery store because you’re just too darn busy. Enter my life. This week just happens to be one of the busiest times for me at work. Part of my job includes event planning and this week is our agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year and guess who is planning and facilitating the entire thing?? Your’s truly. Yep, I’ve been slammed. So slammed that going to the grocery store seems like the absolute farthest thing in my mind. After long hours at work, trying to get in a WOD here and there, my fridge has been left bare and lonely. It actually creeks when I open it. I feel like I am on a crime show when they open the fridge and all that is left in there is a carton of old chinese and a beer. (ok, that is not what is in my sad lonely fridge, but it currently holds only a jar of salsa and some lemon juice.

So to say I’ve been scrounging for breakfast, lunch and dinner is an understatement. Tonight, like I said was the worst. My mind started to wander back to the old days when I could just pop over to a local fast casual restaurant, grab something and eat in 15 minutes. Oh how I longed for those days. But they are in the past, and I am in the Paleo present. Begrudgingly I went to the Deli down the street from me and ordered their “nutty mixed up salad” sans feta and dressing. It was a good mix of greens, cranberries, walnuts, apples, grapes and chicken. I added my own lemon dressing at home and viola, dinner in a gif. Now, would I have rather cooked my own meal, of course. But desperate times call for desperate measures and my stomach was definitely saying it had reached desperate measures.

Do any fellow Paleo-ers out there have any good tips for a Paleo solution after a long, stressful, bare fridge day?

Meet me in St. Louie!

So happily I was able to make it to St. Louis this weekend for an amazing visit with my family. It was great! I was able to see everyone and even went bowling! I was very happy to reach a personal high score of 175! Woo hoo. What a blast.

And now back to the grind. Paleo eating was a little touch and go this weekend I have to admit. But all I can say is that this fall off the wagon has just inspired me to get right back on with a renewed motivation. I was having some guilty feelings Sunday night, hey a 6 hour drive will do that to you. But when Monday morning hit, I was excited for the week ahead. Bring on the clean paleo eating. Besides a couple of weddings in the next few weeks  I am hoping to be obstacle free and able to keep to this eating style. I didn’t realize how much it really affected every day eating until you are in a place where very few paleo options exist. Ok, that was dramatic, of course there are paleo options in St. Louis, but my parents  in no way eat Paleo, so there wasn’t a lot of options in the fridge, or cooked for dinner. We are Italian, remember? What does that mean..oh yes, wine and pasta. So I had to compromise on quite a few things, but looking back, I think it was definitely worth it.

I was also very excited to visit what I call my “home away from home” crossfit, Crossfit Kirkwood. St. Louis, surprisingly has a ton of Crossfit Affiliates and I feel like Crossfit Kirkwood fits me the best. It is run by a husband and wife, Meg and Rich Mottl. They are always so welcoming and nice to me. I love working out there. This weekend we tackled Cindy, and it was actually my very first time. I have danced with Chelsea before, but Cindy was new for me. So after the warm up we worked on squat cleans and then dove right in. End result: mediocre. I wasn’t feeling too bad about my performance until I came home and obsessively clicked on the Crossfit Games site and compared myself to some of the athlete profiles of the elite women athletes competing at various regionals this year. All I can say is I have my work cut out for me.

And now, on to some good food. I thought I would post my own Turkey Chili Recipe. I know a lot of people don’t like to eat chili in the summer, but I can eat chili all year long. It is so filling and has such a great taste. Plus, the recipe makes a ton so I always freeze it and have some ready on a night I don’t feel like cooking. I have made this recipe quite a few times and it even won first in a chili cook off! So here it is. Enjoy!

Paleo Turkey Chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 yellow & red bell pepper

2 lbs ground turkey

1 (28oz) can diced organic tomatoes (undrained)

2 cans organic tomato paste

3 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste, I always add more later on)

1 cup low sodium chicken stock

1 tbsp garlic powder

Couple shakes of Louisiana (to taste)

1 tbsp dried basil       

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté onions, garlic and bell peppers in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Taste test the chili frequently and add ingredients or heat as needed. (I always end up adding more spices as it cooks)

 (sorry the recipe is so long. I can’t figure out how to take those extra spaces out. Help!)

I’m picking up Good Vibrations

Alright, enough is enough. Time to come out and admit. I am competing at Hell’s Half Acre Regionals for Crossfit. There. I said it. And even as I am typing this my stomach is doing flip-flops. To say I am nervous about the challenge ahead is probably a grandiose understatement. I am terrified. Hell, convincing me to compete in the Oklahoma Sectionals was probably like pulling teeth for many of my friends. Encouragement and kind words were only the beginning. My confidence was not exactly where it should have been for the competition that was in Tulsa on March 13th and 14th. Finally, I reluctantly signed up and then focused on my weaknesses for the months and weeks leading up to Sectionals. I don’t think that my nerves calmed for even a second that entire month and included many sleepless nights of worry.

All in all I am glad I competed. I ended up coming in 8th which I was happy about. I know I could have done a lot better on my first wod but was very happy with my performance on the second and third. I know what I need to improve on and what I excel at. I have found overall the Crossfit is a very humbling yet fulfilling activity. I have been humbled countless times during a workout that I thought I would kill…many a lady’s workout (cough…Isabel) had me frustrated and red-faced on the side of the gym, cursing the high heavens in anger. But then there are other times when I walk into a wod, stomach in knots, and unsure of my abilities only to knock one out of the park. Crossfit keeps me guessing and has mentally pushed me harder than I ever thought was possible in my life.

And now, onward to Regionals. Again I will be tested and hopefully will succeed. Another major reason I started this Paleo Challenge was to see improvements in my performance and training specifically for Regionals. So far I haven’t seen any physical differences which, I’ll admit, being a lady and all makes this whole thing very frustrating. But physical results aside, I have to say that Monday night was the first time I actually thought, “Hey maybe this Paleo eating is helping me become stronger and faster”. We had an affiliate team tryout and because I couldn’t come on Saturday, I had to do all three super secret wods in about two hours that night.

Man, I stressed all day and my motivation was lacking. After I showed up and found out what the wods were my confidence wasn’t any better. The wods included running, thrusters, kettlebells, snatches, rowing, etc. I know I looked like a scared puppy dog as I read the board. Oh lord, what did I get myself into. After brief warm up and stretching we dove into WOD #1. Ok, that wasn’t as bad as I thought. I tried to pace with the boys and ended up finishing first, much to my surprise. Now came a few max lifts. Knowing my abilities on these I wasn’t surprised with my snatch results, but was very excited about how the kettlebells went. Have I ever mentioned how I love kettlebells.  Finally WOD #3 and what looked like the hardest to me. In my head I just kept telling myself that it was the last one and I could push through the pain.

End result: very good. I ended up tying with the leading lady at our affiliate. She is amazing at Crossfit and always pushes me to be better.  I felt strong and was full of energy which was unexpected considering that I had just done three workouts. Now, I just hope this feeling keeps up!

This Paleo challenge has been hard for me and I have definitely hit some speed bumps. But I can truly say that I am stronger than I was yesterday and tomorrow I will be stronger than I am today, and that my friends, is progress.

Sunday Funday

Well it is here again, Monday Morning. This Monday was particularly depressing considering this weekend was such a great time. For one, I had fabulous friends in town from St. Louis which was amazing and also because I got a lot done! Nothing feels better than to be able to check things off of your list.

Sunday began with a few tears and sad waves as I wished my friends a safe drive back. St. Louis is about 6 hours away from Tulsa, so I knew they had a drive ahead of them, and I had a very busy day. It began with some breakfast…which might have been at 12 pm in the afternoon, but hey, It’s Sunday, right?? So I whipped out a banana, one egg, a scoop of cashew butter and a tablespoon of almond meal and made up some DELICIOUS Sunday Paleo Pancakes. it is so easy:

Paleo Pancakes

1 egg

1 banana

1 scoop of cashew butter

1 tablespoon of almond meal or flaxseed meal

Place all ingredients into a food processor and mix well. If you don’t have a food processor, just mash-up the banana with a fork. Then add your egg and stir up. Lastly put in your cashew butter and almond meal and with a bit of elbow grease, it becomes a nice thick batter.

Now, spray your pan with some Pam and put on a medium heat. Scoop a spoonful of batter into the pan and let cook like a normal Pancake. Flip when the pancake has set and you have a nice brown bottom.

A few tips: if your heat it too high the bottom will burn before the pancake is set enough to flip. Also, these are not normal Pancakes so they aren’t going to flip as easily. I would just scoop and turn as fast as you can to avoid getting that batter all over your pan. The more you do the better you get at this.

I eat these plain because they are amazing. No syrup needed. And they are great to eat cold later on in the day or even the next day. I frequently make a larger batch and save them. So good and very easy.

After that I met the other amazing ladies I Crossfit with at Turkey Mountain and ran the trail. This was my first time to Turkey Mountain and I was pumped. I have always heard it is a great workout…with a very windy, rocky, narrow and intense trail up the Mountain. (For those of you who live around a real mountain, Turkey is more of a slight hill. But here in Tulsa it is about as good as your going to get and I will take it!) Boy was it a workout! I tracked our progress and the trail we chose was about 4.2 miles and it tough! A few of us had some spills but it felt amazing. 

About 3 miles into the run we hit a steep and rocky part. As I was climbing I kept thinking how hard it was and that it would easier to just walk. But my motivation kicked it up a notch when I began to think about how good it feels to accomplish a challenge with such a great group of women. You know every other person with you is breathing heavy, legs burning, and sweating profusely but you are all in it together. Knowing that you aren’t suffering alone kept me motivated to keep going even if I wanted to give up, or slow down or walk. It always helps to be with others! And then, shocked out of my nostalgia, I almost tripped over  a rock and reminded myself to focus on where I was going.. Whoops.  That will teach me to have inspirational musings while on a Mountain.

Another great thing that was done this weekend was our front flower bed. Now, I will say, I by NO means did most of this work. That was thankfully done by a few of our amazing guy friends. BUT I did help out with the planting of the flowers. It felt great to get my hands dirty. Gardening, although not one of my passions, is very therapeutic. I hope after this summer my thumb will be a bit more green. Probably not a grass green shade, but a touch of green, like mint green…

Here is a before and after: 

Garden beforeGarden AfterGarden during

Good Lordy, Indian Glory

Ok, so I was a little late on the Indian Food train. I don’t think I even had my first taste of glorious Tikka Masala until I was out of college. Honestly, 23 years to discover it…really? Well I certainly made up for the lack of Indian food in my diet by consuming it any time I could convince my boyfriend to go with me. After a good three months of eating is religiously, he won’t even go near it. I guess you can say he is a bit burnt out. I, however, am still in love and still crave it constantly.

Now, fast forward to today. I can’t quite say that Indian food is Paleo, ok, let’s be realistic, Indian food would make any Paleo die-hard shutter. Most dishes containing horrid things like, cream, butter, gasp…rice! So that was one sacrifice that really depressed me and my other Paleo Challenge buddy Allison. To commemorate our Challenge commencing we even went out for a huge, and delicious might I add, Indian meal.

And then, one magnificent day I ran into this Paleo blog and read about a Paleo Gathering they had. The theme was ethnic food and someone had brought over Paleo Indian No-Butter Chicken as a main course. My eyes lit up and of course I clicked to continue reading. The minute she said the dish tastes more like Tikka Masala I was hooked. Immediately I emailed my Paleo Buddy Allison and we planned a night to make it together. Thank you Primal Girl for linking the recipe.   

The Results.

Allison ended up marinating the chicken before I arrived which was a great help, considering the marinade took about four hours. So if you want to make this meal, plan ahead. ( I know right? Baby steps for me!) Once I got there we popped the chicken into the oven and started prepping the other ingredients. Can I just tell you that about 15 minutes into the chicken cooking the most amazing and mouth-watering smell began to waft out of the oven. I literally had to restrain myself from opening up the oven and diving face first into it. Deep breath. Instead, I occupied my time mincing up the onions, while Allison mixed the long list of spices. (Many of which I hadn’t ever heard of… so pretty glad I have a friend that lives next door and can cook, while sharing my love for all things Crossfit and now Paleo) I am definitely not a cook. I am working on this skill, but it is coming slowly. Which was pretty evident by the worried look on Allison’s face as I was “mincing” the onions…she kept reminding me to be careful and not cut myself…subliminal messages about my skills…probably.

Once the chicken was done, we took it out of the oven and after it cooled, diced it up into bite sized pieces. At this point we realized we were supposed to somehow make Cauliflower look and taste like rice. Neither of us had any idea so we went back to the computer to figure out how to do this. (Click here if you want to learn how). We used a grater and then sautéed it up. Note: it flies everywhere so be prepared for a cauliflower mess. Or you could just use it as confetti. Whichever.

Once that was done we put the onions, spices, chicken and chicken broth together and let simmer for 20 minutes. It is starting to look more and more like Indian food at this point, and I was just crossing my fingers that it would taste at least a little like the real thing.  Finally we were nearing the finish line and got out the plates and served up a good helping each and went outside to enjoy the beautiful weather.

I know we were both timid at first to try it, worrying that it would taste wrong. Picking up that first fork full we looked at each other and both tried it at the same time. GOOD LORDY. It was good really really good! I was shocked and so surprised. It tastes just like Indian Tikka Masala and the cauliflower was just as good too. The consistency and taste was just like rice…I didn’t miss the rice one bit! Here is a beautiful picture of the finished product:

 Seriously, so good. Allison thought it was a little spicy, and although my spice threshold is pretty low, I didn’t think it was too bad.

If any of you Paleo-ers are having Indian withdrawals I highly suggest this dish. It will definitely curb your craving and help you stay on track.

And as an amazing bonus, Allison had made Paleo Pecan Pie for desert. A perfect end to a great meal. And definitely great motivation to stay on this crazy train a while longer. Knowing I don’t have to go without all of the things I love is definitely a great help. Buon apetito!

Reporting back live via Veggie Land

Ok, so as promised I am reporting back on what I have found on the veggie front. Because it has only been a day and I am not superwoman, I haven’t tried any of these great veggie ideas, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging so I thought I would post a few and then update as I make each of these dishes.

Disclaimer: these are by no means my original dishes or ideas. I will post a link to each place I have gotten these from. Being new to this whole Paleo deal hasn’t really led me to spontaneously create Paleo dishes from scratch so I succumb to random blog/recipe stalking.

Broccoli and Apple Salad 

This one looks very delicious and requires only a few ingredients:

 a couple handfuls of watercress, 2 cups broccoli flowers, 2 cups sweet and sour apples diced, juice from a lemon, and olive oil. And just mix all together!

Easy right?!! I’d say so. And boy does it look pretty.

Here’s another that I am actually trying for lunch today:

Guacomatoes 

Side Note: I am altering the recipe a bit and adding some protein. I just so happened to open my fridge this morning to make my lunch (procrastinator people, remember?) and realized I had nothing to make for lunch and no protein to use. Frantically I looked around my kitchen to see what I could whip up or cook quickly and I realized that nothing would suffice considering I had to be at work five minutes ago…and it takes me like 15 minutes to drive there…yikes! Thankfully, due to my blog stalking last night I found this recipe of Guacomatoes and thought that I would be perfect for me. Easy, quick and required only a few key ingredients. What could be better? So, as I sit at my desk I will be whipping up the mix of avocado and tuna, hollow out the tomatoes and stuff in the mixture. Cross your fingers for me.

I will also be working on a cucumber and tomato salad. Since it is the season for both of these ingredients, I am happy that I will be able to acquire fresh, straight from the garden ingredients. I, unfortunately, do not have a garden of my own, so I will be taking advantage of all of the wonderful vendors at the Cherry Street Farmers Market this Saturday. YUMMY.

Here is a link for the Cucumber/Tomato Salad