Keepin’ Cozy in the Snow: Paleo Shepard’s Pie

The beautiful 60+ degree weekend we had is but a memory and it has been replaced with cold, wet snow. Tomorrow morning I will most likely wake up to this view out the back of my apartment complex.ImageOctober, 2012

To try to stay warm and cozy I decided to whip up a quick Shepard’s Pie (Paleo style, of course).

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Paleo Shepard’s Pie*

1lb ground beef (I used 1.25 lbs because I like meat)

1 Onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 parsnips

1 carrot

1 cup mushrooms (I didn’t use them in mine because someone I share my meals with hates them, but I think they would be good to add)

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Sage

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Rosemary

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped Thyme

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 Tablespoon Potato Starch (sold in the cooking isle, right by corn starch)

1 head of cauliflower

1 egg

salt and pepper

1. Brown beef in large sauté pan

2. Add parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Let cook for about 3 minutes

3. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook until parsnips/carrots are soft. Add about 3/4 of the herbs and mix. Pour mixture into oven safe dish.

4. Steam Cauliflower, when soft use potato masher to lightly mash

5. Add 1 egg and potato starch and remainder of herbs to mashed cauliflower and stir

6. Spread cauliflower mixture on top of the meat/veggie mixture.

7. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

8. Put a heaping portion on your plate and cozy up under some blankets to fight the cold!

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* recipe adapted from Health-Bent

Why I’m Excited to Try CrossFit

I am fortunate to have a father who raised me as a strong confident woman. Who would tell me daily I was beautiful, but remind me that “pretty is as pretty does” and that true beauty was on the inside. A father who supported my time consuming  USS swimming career, didn’t tolerate whining and who actually chose to watch WNBA games.

Because of this, I never thought I was growing up in a “man’s world”. It never crossed my mind there were things that were for “men only”.  I always viewed the sky as my limit.

Except when it came to my body. Unfortunately, our society often chooses to focus on an unrealistic image ideal driven in part by a $40 billion dollar diet industry.

The number one wish for girls 11-17 is to be thinner[1]. 80% of 10-year-old girls have dieted[2]. Although most girls have a 1% chance of being as thin as a runway model, 69% of girls admit that fashion models influence their idea of an “ideal body.”[3]

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Like the majority of “healthy living bloggers”, I’ve had my struggles with body image and disordered eating and blog to try to pass on what I’ve learned from my struggles.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is to take pride not in how your body looks, but the amazing things it is capable of doing.  If your only goal is to “look skinny and hot” you will never be happy, as you can always find flaws no matter who you are.

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I grew up swimming on a USS Team and playing water polo. I’ve run half marathons and 5ks.  But the idea of fueling my body properly to perform, not to look skinny, never struck home until I started lifting.

I set goals for myself (be able to do wide grip pull ups, squat my body weight, etc) and I found that on days when I hadn’t eaten properly, I simply could not perform at the level I wanted to.  In order to gain the muscle I needed to, I had to eat more and couldn’t be dieting or restricting.  The sense of pride I got in achieving my goals took control of my desire to be thin and I began loving my body for its accomplishments.

The idea that your body is not your enemy seems like a simple concept, but for millions of women it’s an incredibly hard concept to grasp.

So by now you’re probably saying: Fiona, I thought this post was going to be about CrossFit? And first, I’ll thank you for reading this far. And then, I’ll show you that it is.

I decided to give CrossFit a one month try starting the second week of February. First, because a new Box (that’s CrossFit speak for gym) opened up in my town so they are offering a discounted month (hello, I do live on a student budget). Second, because it’s something I’ve been curious about for a long time.

I’ve been curious to try CrossFit not because of the workouts themselves. I do plenty of cleans, and squats, and kettle bell swings on my own. That’s not something unique only to CrossFit.

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I’m joining because I want to be a part of the community.

I want to be surrounded by men and women who support strong bodies to fuel strong minds.

I’ve had a lot of arguments with people I know about CrossFit. They argue that it’s a cult, that the instructors aren’t well trained, that people are bound to hurt themselves. I respond by saying that yes, it’s possible to have an instructor who doesn’t know the proper form. Yes, the culture of doing AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) can encourage people to get lazy with their form. But this is the case if you go to the gym as well. You need to be careful and knowledgeable about the physical activity you are doing no matter what it is.

I know so many girls who are scared to enter a weight room because they don’t know where to start and are scared of being judged. I applaud CrossFit for being a place for those women to go to start their fitness journey.

I’m excited to be surrounded by supportive people who have taken the same commitment to improving their quality of life through fitness as I have.

I’m excited to be surrounded by women who view their bodies, no matter the size, as something to be proud of and something to admire.

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So, I’ll let you guys know how it goes 🙂


[1] Facts on Body and Image,” compiled by Jean Holzgang. Just Think Foundation web site. [Online: http://www.justthink.org/bipfact.html . Last retrieved April 14, 2000]

[2] Kilbourne, J., “Slim Hopes,” video, Media Education Foundation, 1995.

[3] “Magazine Models Impact Girls’ Desire to Lose Weight, Press Release.” (1999). American Academy of Pedia

Running in NYC

I knew running in NYC would be different. I had no idea just how different it would be. People always complain about the altitude in the Denver Area, but I would take altitude over running in NYC any day.

On Friday afternoon I decided to take a quick run through Central Park. My Uncle lives about 8 blocks from the park, so I started off from his place.

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That was the longest 8 blocks of my life. Let’s discuss the pros and cons.

Con #1:  People in NYC aren’t aware that they aren’t the only people on earth. I saw an ambulance trying to get down a street, sirens blaring, and people just kept walking in front of it, glaring at it as if it was imposing on them. If they won’t move out of the way for that, they won’t move out of the way for me.

Pro #1: I got a great Plyo’s workout dodging people and jumping over grates.

Con #2: I probably inhaled the smoke from about 5 cigarettes in those 8 blocks, combined with car exhaust. I now have the black lung.

Pro# 2: I will no longer complain about Colorado’s air being so thin because at least it’s clean.

Con #3: New York is pretty flat. It might have a slight incline, but I can’t imagine training for a distance race here.

Pro #3: New York is flat. That means less pain. That’s also a pro.

Con #4: Everyone stares at you, but no one smiles.  (though that may be because I was wearing a neon pink and yellow shirt and hadn’t brushed my hair).

Con #4: I always hate it in Colorado if I’m dying on a hill and some running pro comes speeding down towards me smiling at my misery. So it was sort of nice to be ignored.

Con #5: No one knows what “on the left/right” means. Once I got to central park, people were walking 5 a breast on the sidewalks, but wouldn’t move when I tried to call out to them. They would just slowly turn, look me up and down, and keep right on with their conversation.

Pro #5: The thought of how I wanted to punch them in the back of their smug head kept me entertained for a while.

Con #6: I didn’t see Blair Waldorf or Chuck Bass.

Pro #6: I realized I am probably too old to be looking for Gossip Girl characters.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I made it seem. It was nice to look at the buildings and have something constantly distracting me as I ran. I’m sure over time I could get used to all the people and truly come to love it.

Now I’m back in Colorado and ready to get back into the swing of school and work. Yesterday I achieved a PR in Sumo Deadlifts. It wasn’t the heaviest I’ve ever done, but the most weight I’ve done for a high number of reps.

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I was able to do my body weight (145lbs) for 20 reps. Not too bad after a quick vacation!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have this waiting for me…

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Hotel Room Workout

Since I didn’t go see family over the holidays, I’ve run away from Colorado for the weekend to spend time with family in NYC and Boston.

New York can be stressful. I’m one of those people who slams the imaginary break in the car when driving with other people, so NYC taxi cabs are possibly one of the most stressful experiences of my life. That combined with the 5 hours of travel time means I was pretty ansy by the time I got to the hotel. I had about 30 minutes before the rest of my family arrived, so I decided to get in a quick hotel room workout to get my sillys out.

So I present to you, a quick hotel room workout, complete with awkward poses and faces.

I started with 15 modified “box jumps” onto the bed. My trainer always makes fun of me for having no vertical leap, but I swear it’s slowly improving! (Although it’s not hard to improve from my original 2 inches).

Bed Jumps

Bed Jumps

Followed that up with a minute plank. Then attempted to do 20 pistol squats on a bench. The squishy fabric tested my already awful balance and added an extra challenge.

Going down...

Going down…

Followed by 30 sit ups and 50 mountain climbers. Then I felt my upper body needed some attention, and wanted to utilize the double bed somehow. So I did some creative pushups.

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Followed that up 30 burpees, 25 dips using the same bench as the pistol squat. Finished it up with a two minute wall sit.

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Then repeated. Easy peasy lemon squeezey. Took less than 20 minutes, easy to do at home or on vacation as quick way to get the blood flowing, boost the metabolism and have some fun 🙂

Now I’m off to enjoy some lunch and then later might take a run through Central Park. Happy Friday Everyone!

Burger, with a side of abs.

Sometimes a “classic” just isn’t good enough. While at it’s core it’s still great, it’s just gotten a little dull and outdated, in need of some vamping up.

And that’s where I come in.

While I’m a strong believer that you work your core the best just doing full body weights, I wanted to show my abs some extra love at the end of my workout. Normal sit-ups and planks, while classic,  only do so much and can get old fast, so I switched it up.

(You should be able to youtube all the exercises, or just ask!)

AbDay SwagDay

30 SuitCase Situps with 15lb dumbbell

30 Russian Twists with 15 lb dumbbell

30 Pushouts with 15 lb dumbbell

30 Plank up/downs

15 Hanging leg raises

 

REPEAT 3 TIMES

and then don’t laugh for a whole 24 hours because it will hurt.

 

After that, I was pretty starving and all I could think about was a juicy burger.  And I knew just the one I wanted.

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Jalapeno Burger with Sweet Potato Buns*

BURGER:

1 Jalapeno Pepper

1 tsp paprika

tsp onion powder

Pinch of good salt

1lb ground bison

  1. Mix it all together and grill (or cook stove top with some coconut oil)
  2. Tip: When cooking burgers put a little thumb print in the middle to allow for even cooking

 

BUN:

3 Eggs

2 tsp coconut flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teasponn ground ginger

¼ teaspoon good salt

2 cups of shredded sweet potato

Coconut oil for cooking

  1. Shred the sweet potatoes using either a food processor or a hand shredder (extra workout!)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, coconut flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, sea salt and sweet potato until everything is covered and mixed.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Shape sweet potato mixture into  cakes about 5 inches in diameter and fry ‘em up.

Who said a classic is always better?

* Recipe by Diane Sanfillipo

 

Paleo Spicy Orange Chicken

I was going to do a “What I Ate Wednesdays (WIAW) “ to give people ideas on how to stay Paleo all day,  but my food photography skills are still developing and everything looked like a shiny pile of mush, so I’ll save that for next week and practice in the meantime.

Originally I was going to lift this morning, but the weather was so warm (by that I mean over 20 degrees) so I decided to head outside for a run and move my weight training until tonight.

Why yes, I am listening to a book on tape while I run. Nerding out!

Why yes, I am listening to a book on tape while I run. Nerding out!

Since I’m recovering from a cold I didn’t push it too hard, just enjoyed the sunshine and not having to run with a million layers on.

I came back starving and with little time before I had to head to class. Luckily I had been good about meal prep last night, so I was able to pop some spaghetti squash with meatballs in the microwave. While eating I watched a webinar on Sugar Sweetened Beverages and the Ban in NYC (write up coming on Friday), then headed off to class.

Last night, I decided I wanted something spicy and citrusy so I whipped up some Paleo Orange Chicken. I’ve never been a huge fan of Chinese Food, I always found it left me feeling greasy and tired, so that wasn’t too hard to drop when I started eating Paleo. If you are a big fan, or even if you aren’t, I recommend making this recipe.

Total prep time of maybe 5 minutes.

Total prep time of maybe 5 minutes.

It’s incredibly simple to make, only required two pans, but absolutely delicious.

Paleo Spicy Orange Chicken

Paleo Spicy Orange Chick

Paleo Spicy Orange Chicken*

1lb chicken thighs

3 bushels of green onions cut up

2 Tangelos (or oranges or tangerines) (zest one,  juice them both)

2tsp fresh ground/zested ginger

1tsp siracha

1tp Worchestor Sauce (or if you don’t have a soy allergy like me, Gluten Free Soy Sauce)

2 tbs coconut oil

Dash of red pepper (optional)

  1. Cut up raw chicken thighs into bite size pieces
  2. Heat Coconut Oil in a pan and add chicken thighs (if you like spicy things add the red pepper)
  3. Add zest from Tangelo, juice from Tangelo, Ground Ginger, Siracha and Worchester sauce to a separate pan
  4. Put on low simmer, stirring occasionally
  5. Once chicken has cooked add it to the orange sauce
  6. Cook a bit longer for about two minutes
  7. Then pour chicken and sauce onto a mix of the green onions and spinach
  8. Enjoy 🙂

* This recipe adapted from Health Bent to accommodate my soy allergy.

 

Why Paleo?

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. The following post reflects my own experience and knowledge only.

I get it all the time.

“Oh, you eat Paleo? That’s like the caveman thing where you only eat meat right?”

or

“What? Are you trying to loose weight or something?”

or

“Isn’t that just a CrossFit trend?”

I understand the confusion. A year ago I remember making some snarky comment along the lines of  “Why are we trying to go back to what the caveman ate? Haven’t we evolved since then?”

That was because I didn’t understand the concept behind Paleo. The simple idea of eating REAL food.

Modern food has gotten out of hand.

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Let’s take salt for instance. That’s something so simple that you couldn’t possibly mess it up, right?

Wrong.

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In it’s original form, salt has 84 minerals that are essential for the body to function at its highest capacity. Modern processed salt removes 80 of those minerals. Have you ever noticed that most salt is advertised as “iodized salt” even though in its natural state salt already has iodine in it? In the mid 1900’s doctors started noticing higher numbers of goiters and degenerative diseases. They linked these incidents back to the lack of iodine (an essential mineral) in people’s diets due to iodine being removed from salt during the process of creating common table salt.  Salt companies then began adding iodine back in to table salt and advertising it as “new and improved.” You would think it would be easier just to harvest salt naturally, instead of heat blasting it and chemically processing it to remove minerals and then adding a couple back. But, that sort of thinking seems to be common place with food companies now-a-days.

But okay, enough rambling about salt. Where was I? Oh, right. Paleo.

Talking with a friend recently (I’m looking at you, Cam), he commented how sad it is that Paleo is considered a novel idea.  And he was right. Paleo should be the “normal” way of approaching food (with the exception of those who don’t want to eat meat).  Paleo has three main goals

1)   Eat REAL, WHOLE Foods

2)   Avoid processed and refined foods

3)   Eat to maintain proper digestive health.

It’s Simple. Eat the food your body was intended to.

Some of you may be asking: “What does that mean?”

Well, let me tell you.

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What to eat:

MEATS

  • Whatever type your heart desires. This could be: chicken, beef, bison, fish, turkey, pork, clams, lamb, duck etc.
  • Make sure the meat is the highest quality you can get. This means grass fed or organic (they’ll be another post later about the difference between ‘all natural’ ‘organic’ etc labels). Whatever that animal ate, you are now eating.  If it ate hormones, you are getting added hormones.
  • Make sure this meat is not the “99% fat free Purdue ground Turkey” that I used to live off of. One of the hardest concepts to accept when eating the Paleo lifestyle is that HEALTHY fats are your friend.

VEGETABLES

  • Load ‘em up! Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Chard, Sweet Potato, Cucumbers, Mushrooms, whatever you feel like (with the exception of white potatoes)
  • Be creative with how you cook your veggies and with the seasonings you use. You can steam, boil, bake or grill them. Try seasoning with lemon or rosemary or cinnamon or balsamic vinegar.

HEALTHY FATS  

  • These can come in all shapes and sizes such as: coconut oil, avocados, grass fed butter, bacon fat or duck fat.


NUTS

  • Eat sparingly, but still enjoy now and then.
  • Peanuts are not technically nuts. They are legumes and legumes are a no go. Why? We’ll get to that.


FRUIT

  • Once again, eat sparingly, especially the fruits that are higher in sugars.

WHAT TO AVOID:

Sugars

  • You may have guessed it, but refined sugar is not allowed. In fact, Paleo encourages that you try to have as little sugar as possible. Now, I have a sweet tooth so in order to satisfy that I try to use natural sugars such as maple syrup (organic), agave or honey.

Dairy

  • Milk and yogurt is not a part of the Paleo lifestyle Instead try things like coconut milk or almond milk.
  • Grass fed butter or ghee is okay.

Legumes

  • Legumes are not easily digested by the body and are to be avoided (hello, there’s an anti-gas medicine called BEANO for a reason…)
  • Examples: Peanuts, beans, soy, chickpeas,

 

Now all you science-minded people or critics may be asking WHY? Well, let me tell you.

Why no grains? Why reduced sugar?

All grain products have anti-nutrients that harm digestion and can create inflammation of the gut. One of the main anti-nutrients is called phytates. Phytates bind to minerals we eat and keep them from being absorbed properly by the body.  Other examples are saponin (in quinoa) or lectins (found in most legumes). So by eating grains and refined foods like pasta, white rice or flour, you are actually keeping your body from absorbing nutrients from other foods you eat. A high intake of carbs and sugars promotes dysbiosis, which is a microbial imbalance inside your gut that hinders digestion.

Why no legumes?

 Legumes contain carbohydrates that are difficult for your body to digest, as well as anti-nutrients. Hence the gas. If you just gotta have your beans, make sure to soak them in water overnight first, as it helps your body digest them.  Also note that if you are currently using beans as a protein source, they are mainly carbohydrates (for instance chickpeas are almost 70% carbs and only 20% protein). It’s much better to eat meat for protein instead of substituting beans

What’s going on with dairy?

To be honest, dairy is a highly debated subject in the Paleo community. Most adults are intolerant of lactose to some degree, which is harmful to the digestive process. Also, aspects of milk (like insulin) can also contribute to acne.   Some people do believe that minimally processed dairy (Greek yogurt or whole milk) is beneficial in small portions.  If you choose to eat dairy, make sure it’s not just highly processed low fat milk from cows fed a bad diet. What they eat, you eat.

How much can I eat?

Listen to your body. Eat until you are full. Try to have about a 40/30/30 break down of Protein/Fat/Carbs. But truly, it’s all about what works for you.

Why do I do Paleo?

 I was one of those people who was always tired, always bloated, always hungry and binging,  and would randomly get stomach aches and digestive issues. I tried a bunch of different types of “lifestyles”, from Vegan to Vegetarian to Gluten Free to High Grain/Low Meat trying to solve these issue. The only one that truly made me feel BETTER and not worse has been Paleo. My energy level has increased drastically. My digestive issues and bloating have disappeared. I finally feel full and satisfied, without binging on sweets. Also, with the amount that I work out my body needs the high levels of protein and fat to refuel.

So THOSE are the reasons that I chose to follow a Paleo lifestyle. If you’ve been curious, I suggest you try it out! It can’t hurt. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

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Still want more? Check out the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfillipo. Highly recommended.