Archive for January, 2013

Less than a week to go! I’ve been feeling really awesome lately- feeling better during the day, having better workouts, and just feeling overall happier!  I would also be lying if I didn’t say I am a little excited to get back to real life (and have a cocktail!). I’ve suffered a little bit socially over the past few weeks (getting a little sick of being nominated automatic chaffeur everywhere I go) and have a bout of FOMO every once in a while when I decide to just stay in. But it’s ONLY 30 DAYS, and I feel awesome. This was just the kickstart I needed to go into 2013 happier and healthier.

jibaritoI had another busy week, so not much excitement in the way of my weekly menu to report, except… as was expected, I did try my hand at a jibarito (flattened plantains used as bread, and also coincidentally a native menu item of Chicago!). Check it out! I was pretty proud of myself that it didn’t fall apart- and I used two mini beef sliders I bought from US Wellness with some guac, arugula and tomatoes to finish it off. Amazeballs. I decided to continue my Whole30 through Saturday (so I guess I should call it a Whole32…) since I’m headed to the ‘burbs for a church retreat and the food isn’t what you’d deem quality. (or frankly, edible). So here’s to less than a week to go!

Secondly, I came across this article the other day that details the school lunch program of the Japanese. Basically, Japanese schools serve real food to their kids at lunch (veggies, rice, fish) that is rarely frozen. And try to use seasonal ingredients when possible. Further, the kids serve each other, and you get what is served (there is no “second option” because you don’t like mushrooms).  Fruit and yogurt for dessert. Fried food is a rarity. Kids are even asking for the recipes.  Finally, on a regular basis, they are given a 5 minute educational session about their meal: a short explanation of what their meal consists of and what the health benefits are, helping the kids to interact and learn about what they are eating.

Why will this never happen in America? Two reasons: culture and Big Agra.

Culture.

The Japanese pride themselves on the homogeneity of their society; for the most part, their culture promotes healthy, well-balanced eating (of real food) and they are well-known for their self-discipline. Japanese culture teaches children a level of respect and submission to adults and to policies. These kids walk into school being told their menu every day. Their exact menu- no choices, no substitutions, no religiously-excused alternatives, no vending machines of cookies and chips if they don’t like what’s being served. (For real- they don’t have vending machines.) And guess what- they EAT IT. In America, on the other hand, children are coddled to tell us exactly what they want to eat, and parents allow their children to become picky and obnoxious about their dietary preferences. With our society of gluttony and an abundance of options, schools would be culturally shunned if they implemented a “take it or leave it” approach to the school cafeteria. Remember, this is the society that deemed PIZZA A VEGETABLE.

Also- what kid in America these days would help serve lunch? Are you kidding me? Children are being raised with such an air of entitlement that they would fall to the ground laughing if they were asked to help prepare or serve school lunch. And then get back to tweeting their friends.

Big Agra.

Japan_Lunch_161358640906

courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Big Agra earns money from stockholders, politicians and donors. Lots of money. Big Agra mass produces cheap sugars and starches (read: cereals, microwaveable meals, Cheez-Its, pizza, Twinkies: otherwise known as CRAP). Kids become addicted to this crap. All they want is to eat crap. They buy more crap. Big Agra gets richer. It makes more crap. Kids eat more crap (and parents buy it for them!). Cheap crap becomes cheaper because everyone’s eating it. Politicians take money away from school lunch programs. Schools are forced into extremely limited budgets and can only afford… *ding* *ding* *ding* CHEAP CRAP! A Washington D.C. school food director was just FIRED because he replaced the processed food from the school lunch menu with real, fresh food made in house. Guess why! Because of the dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. Coming from local politicians who profited from the foodservice company contract (which is composed of Big Agra foods).  So kids eat more crap- even at school- and get fat. And guess who makes money when kids are fat? Big Agra. Three cheers for obesity!

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The second week has been so much better! I finally have my energy back and no more headaches! I had a super busy week, so didn’t get as creative with my eating as I would have liked (read: lots of leftover chili, bacon and eggs) but I did whip up a few things worthy of display. First, some baked skin-on chicken thighs (compliments of Food Lovers’ Primal Palate) and a beet salad.week 2 Nothing fancy at all- chicken thighs in the oven come out so juicy and obvi the skin is delish. If you are eating the skin though, I recommend you make sure it is good quality chicken (I got mine from Whole Foods). And Trader Joe’s has pre-steamed and peeled beets that are so good- chop ’em up, throw them on some arugula, add some lemon juice/EVOO/s&p and you are good to go!

Second comes with a little backstory. So research shows that Chipotle (the restaurant) can, in fact, be paleo. However, the only paleo meat option is the carnitas (pulled pork) due to the fact that the pork is slow roasted and not grilled (with soybean oil) like the other meats. However, as any good Chipotle-loving American knows- the carnitas are by far the worst of all the meat selections – so salty and not up to standard with, say, my personal favorite- steak. What is a girl to do without her Chipotle for 30 days!?!?!?! Dry your eyes! I found a recipe for the steak marinade at Chipotle (subbing olive oil for the veg oil, obvi) and marinated a nice piece of filet and grilled that baby up, added some sauteed veggies (NOT cooked in soybean oil, thank you very much), pico de gallo, spicy guac (both housemade at Whole Foods!) and some lettuce just to give it the whole Chipotle burrito bowl experience! It was SO GOOD – and 86 sick soybean oil.

Third, while on my said shopping excursion to Whole Foods the other day, I came along some plantains. Now, I have heard frying those puppies up in coconut oil with a little salt was a paleo-lovers dream but I never really thought to do it myself. Enter yesterday. After learning how to actually PEEL a plantain- and note: they are NOT like their easily-disrobed cousin the banana (such a floozy!)- I fried them up in some coconut oil and, let’s just say, I’ve found one of my new favorite paleo snacks. Although I need to remember to limit myself, since they are pretty starchy, but my co-Whole30’ing Crossfitters also told me about jibaritos – which are sandwiches made from flattened plantains! Yowsa! If I were a betting person, I’d probably bet a good amount of money that will be in my post next week…

Fourth, this is an example of one of my not-so-creative but oh-so-delicious concoctions… my take on a BLT, but a BGT. Bacon, GUAC, tomato. Boom. Super easy, put it on a Pure Wrap, and you are literally full for hours (ate this before field hockey today). And clearly a run to the grocery store is in order…

So I wanted a way to take my Whole30 up a notch from last year. Last year was first very first Whole30, and although I’m doing a second one this year, I wanted something to add to just the “eating” portion of my life. I think the biggest part of being paleo are all the questions (and, unfortunately, rude comments) you get from people who just don’t have the knowledge or just want to demean what you are doing. Regardless of their stance, I have wanted to educate myself more, for my knowledge, but also to arm myself with some of the “comebacks” I feel I sometimes need when those wheat & sugar-lovers get up in my grill. And you’d be surprised who these people turn out to be: some of the people closest to you!

SIDE STORY: I have a friend doing her first Whole30 right now and her comment a few days in wasn’t how hard the eating was, nothing related to eating or nutrition, in fact. It was HOW MEAN her friends were being to her- the fact that she GAVE UP EATING CRAP FOOD and is eating real, healthy food and her friends are not only unsupportive, but a bit verbally abusive. And to me, this IS one of the hardest things about this month. Friends glaring at you when you say you’re not drinking, friends rolling their eyes when you carefully order at a restaurant, friends walking away when you politely decline their gluten-filled appetizers at a party, or friends simply making fun of you doing it.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a ton of advice for her- because when people don’t understand something, in my opinion, their first instinct is to deny it and go against it. And make fun of it. I have a lot of strong-willed women in my life and in my friend circles, mostly probably due to the fact that I am one and the same. So when you try to (very gently) explain the reasons you want to eat healthier and cut out the bad stuff to a group of strong-willed, opinionated women, naturally a few of them (at least) get SUPER DEFENSIVE because the majority of them eat that crap all the time.

And I don’t need them to agree with what I’m doing- and I think that was the point my friend was getting at when we chatted. If you want to eat ice cream and Cheetos and Healthy Choice lunches every day- you go for it, girl. But when I say that for 30 days, 30-freaking-days-that’s-it, that I am going to REALLY watch what goes into my mouth and make sure it is all really quality food, why should I be chastized for it? Especially when I don’t say a thing when you are scarfing down macaroni and cheese and cookies right next to me. Believe me- every once in a while I will evangelize about the world of paleo- not because I need to hit some sort of paleo-convert goal, but just because I truly believe in the benefits of paleo. (And most times it’s to my friend who has come to me seeking it out.) But I am also not someone who sits at dinner with my friend who orders pasta and makes fun of her for ordering it, and goes into a tirade including words such as “hypoglycemia,” insulin,” “gliadin” and “visceral fat”. Now, enter how a number of my friends treat my paleo-eating: judgmental and sometimes rude. Fabulous, eh?

Long story short, I have, for a while, been wanting to become more educated on the “why” of paleo so I can be better prepared to, more importantly, help the truly inquisitive (who I truly care about), but also combat the haters. Because like I said, I think a lack of education on a subject oftentimes makes people stubborn to listen and even judgmental towards a particular topic, simply because they lack the education to speak knowledgably about it, or it goes against their way of thinking. So my goal with learning more is not only to make myself more educated, but to help the learners and put the haters in their place.

First stop: Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. This guy is a preventive cardiologist who has cured hundreds of patients of all kinds of cardio-related diseases, by removing… wait for it… WHEAT from his patients’ diets. To be continued…

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So I’ve officially gotten through the hardest part of Whole30- the first full week! I definitely suffered some pretty severe headaches and was pretty lethargic… but I’ve finally gotten over the hump and am feeling good! I ordered a ton of sugar free bacon, pork and other hashmeat products from US Wellness Meats and have been getting pretty creative with my meals (it helps working from home!). Here’s a sample of a few- top left was my take on Juli from PaleOMG’s rutabaga breakfast hash. I didnt have any rutabaga, and didn’t really feel like running to the store, so I substituted spaghetti squash as the starch and it was for real YUM. So good you don’t even have to save it for breakfast (I ate it for dinner!). Bottom left is my creation of a tuna wrap. I used my spicy mayo to mix my tuna, added some onions, spinach and tomatoes on a coconut PureWrap and voila! instant deliciousity. Top right is probably one of my favorite Whole30 snacks- kale chips! I attribute this perfect recipe to Nom Nom Paleo… so delicious and a super easy snack. Lastly, bottom right is a little ditty I whipped up this morning before church- threw together eggs, sausage, mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic. I get too frustrated to make pretty omelets so I usually just go with the scrambles- the taste the same and you don’t get p*ssed when you break the omelet! (secret chef tip)

Secondly, and WAY more importantly, I’m an auntie again!! (Well not really an aunt, but my best friend just had her baby!) This is Lucia (Lucy for short!) and she is so beautiful! Kathryn was in labor for 3 HOURS. Talk about some serious pushing! Thank God for drugs! Mom and baby are healthy and happy and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED for Kathryn & Brian as they embark on their baby journey!

little lucy!

little lucy!

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So with the start of the new year comes all the marketing relating to new diet gimmicks and ridiculous exercise equipment. Including this super weird thing. This also means the mogul of the dieting world, David Zinczenko (he’s the “Eat This, Not That” guy) is at it again with another diet idea to ring in 2013. This one is called the “8 hour diet” which claims that weight loss can be achieved by only eating within an 8-hour window (instead of the constant eating from the second we wake up until we go to bed that our culture is so used to). For example, eating late at night messes up our digestive system and does not allow time to process our food before we go to sleep. Zinczenko claims that you can “eat whatever you want, as much as you want” as long as it is limited to an 8-hour window. Sounds awesome, right? Reading the small print, he recommends you get two of his eight “Powerfoods” at each meal or snack (these include eggs, lean meats, dairy, legumes, nuts, blue & purple fruits, red fruits & vegetables, yellow & orange fruits and vegetables and green fruits & vegetables. Lastly, you can follow it anywhere from 3-7 days/week to see results!

My take: First, the “whatever you want, as much as you want” thing scares me. Our culture as a whole is incredibly gluttonous, and my fear is that the 8 hour window will turn into a binge sesh and not include a ton of high quality foods. Example: putting berries on a bowl of ice cream. Lean meat on your pizza. Lettuce and tomato on a fried chicken sandwich. You get it. I also don’t have to get into how I don’t agree with the dairy and legumes being included as “powerfoods”. HOWEVER, I think that the idea of fasting is incredibly valid and I am excited to see that it is something that has finally reached the mainstream. I do see a difference when I intermittently fast- in my body, my energy and my satiety levels post-fast. I am by no means an expert AT ALL, but this guy has a ton of info and is definitely worth checking out. Simply, there are proven benefits to fasting, including an increase in resting metabolism, healthier gastrointestinal area and a lower bodyweight. After my Whole30, I think I may experiment with this 8-Hour Diet but use paleo as my guide towards what is a “Powerfood”. To be continued…

Secondly, speaking of the Whole30, I am well into Day 1. Had a great back-to-Crossfit class (love me some tabatas) and I found out there are over 15 of us doing Whole30 from my Crossfit box. Super stoked to find this out- and our coach even set up a “support” page on Facebook so everyone can share tips and recipes and keep each other motivated. Today, I whipped up some Smoky Bacon chili (compliments of PaleoOMG) with one small tweak- no potato and I simmered it for about 2 hours. I also added about a ¼ cup of water to her recipe. It is deelish and I even took some over to my sick-at-home friend who had a raving review! I also got around to making a batch of my Spicy Paleo mayo. Recipe below. This stuff is so good (took me a few attempts of experimenting!) but I put it on a ton of stuff.

Spicy Paleo Mayo

Ingredients
1 organic egg
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ¼ cups of olive oil (light tasting so it doesn’t taste bitter like EVOO [I get mine from Trader Joe’s])
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ cup diced jalapenos & their juice (I buy the little cans from the Hispanic section)
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Directions
In a blender/food processor/bowl/whatever, break the egg and add the lemon juice. Let it get to room temp. (I usually wait an hour or two). After the egg warms up, add all the spices, jalapenos and ¼ cup of olive oil. Depending on what device you are using (blender, food processor, hand mixer), blend the ingredients together. Now comes the emulsion process! Slowly, slowly (teeny little drizzle) add the rest of the oil while blending. The more oil you add, the thicker it should get until it turns into mayonnaise! If your concoction is having a hard time emulsifying, you can add another room temp egg yolk which should probably help it thicken. If you’re still having trouble, then you are a horrible chef. Kidding. YouTube “homemade mayo” and you will find some tricks of the trade. I usually keep mine in the fridge no more than 2 weeks (essentially, as long as your egg is good for- make sense?)

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new year, new beginning!

Happy New Year! I am particularly excited for this new year to begin and for what 2013 will bring. The past year has had its ups and downs but had A LOT of downs: the deaths of my grandfather, my friend’s dad, a co-worker, a friend’s brother; 2 close friends diagnosed with cancer, an unemployment scare, and having to end a 2 1/2 year relationship to a man I once thought I would marry.  Through it all, I have grown stronger in my faith and have developed some amazing relationships. I am so thankful for the people I have in my life and am so grateful for all of my blessings. Onward and upward. I am happier than I have been in a while and am excited to see what 2013 will bring.

As my first resolution, I will be undertaking a second Whole30 to jump start my health and reenergize after the onslaught of the holiday eating & drinking. Super pumped to see what results I’ll see this year! I have a few fellow Crossfitters as well as my friend and her fiance that will be Whole30’ing too so I am excited for the support this year.

Here’s to a fabulous 2013.

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