Paleo Cooked Kale with Bacon and Carrots

I am obsessed with bacon. I don’t just like it, I consume it in obscene quantities to the point where I had to implement a “bacon budget” to restrict myself to one pound a week because it was getting out of control.  I know my friends over at 365 Days of Bacon understand. When my fellow bacon loving coworker heard about my new budget he proceeded to bring me cooked bacon one morning so I wouldn’t go through withdrawal , along with this shirt, which perfectly states how I feel about bacon:

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In order to make my bacon limit last longer, I decided to start mixing it into foods I eat normally, in smaller quantities so I wouldn’t run out by Wednesday and be bacon-less until the following Sunday. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t take long to make, hence the Cooked Kale with Bacon.

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Paleo Cooked Kale with Carrots

3 strips Nitrate free Bacon (peppered Whole Foods bacon is the best!)

2 bushels dinosaur kale (also called lacinto kale)

1 yellow onion

3 large carrots

1/2 cup chicken stock (or water if you really have no chicken stock)

1. Cook bacon until crispy in fry pan. Remove from fry pan but leave the bacon grease.

2. Chop the onions and carrots and add to the bacon grease. Cook for about 4 minutes on medium heat until the onions and carrots start to soften.

3. Chop up kale and add to the pan, stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cover and let cook at low/medium heat for about 5 minutes or until kale has cooked.

4. Tear/cut bacon into small pieces and mix in with the cooked kale.

5. Enjoy your bacon knowing you are also getting some healthy vitamins from the kale and carrots!

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PALEO Spicy Orange Roasted Chicken

I’m on a kick with the roasted chicken lately. It gives me lunch for almost the whole week, especially when I throw in some sweet potato, carrots, and onions to cook. Also, it’s super easy, which is a perk during the weekdays. I’ll keep this short and simple, here’s the recipe!

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SPICY ORANGE ROASTED CHICKEN

One whole chicken

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp chile powder

1 tbs chipotle powder

3 cloves garlic

1tsp onion

2 tsp Herbs de Provence

1 cup orange juice (fresh)

Pinch of salt and pinch pepper

1. Place bird in a baking dish.Pour orange juice onto bird to wet it, saving juice in pan.

2. Mix all dry ingredients (and honey) together and rub onto the chicken, using the wetness from the orange juice to make it stick.

3. Put the pan with the bird and the orange juice it in the fridge to marinate for at least three hours. (if it doesn’t fit, mine didn’t, put it in a ziploc bag and let it marinate)

4. After the bird has marinated, put it in a roasting pan  (one with a lid). I cut up sweet potato and onions to cook with it.

5.  Cook in oven at 350 for about 60 minutes (20 min per lb) or until done.

Quick. Easy. Delicious. Enjoy!

Let’s Talk Grocery Stores – Top Ingredients to avoid

I’ve always liked looking in people’s grocery carts at the check out line to see what they are getting. Is that a little nosy? Yes. Am I judging? Not usually (though if you are buying Spam, Hungry Mans and chimichangas I probably will be).

More so I find it interesting to see how many people are making an effort to try to be healthy, but just don’t have the knowledge to make it happen. I was 100% one of these people, buying “100 Calorie” Packs of cookies (who really eats just one?) or Smart Ones Ice Cream treats.

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Everything about these “low fat/low cal” alternatives is bad. Some popular ingredients listed in low fat foods that should ALWAYS be avoided are:

1) Sucralose (used in Splenda and most low cal treats), which has been linked to spiked insulin levels (aka helping you GAIN weight) and increased gastrointestinal problems,

2) MSG has been shown to trigger weight gain and, more importantly, can destroy nerve cells in the brain if consumed in large quantities.

3) High Fructose Corn Syrup is the number one source of calories in the US Diet and is linked to diabetes and weight gain

4) Apartame, another artificial sweetener, which breaks down to Formaldehyde in the body and has caused more reports to the FDA of adverse reactions than all other foods/artificial flavoring COMBINED

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5) BHA , which is listed in the state of CA as a known carciogen, has been shown to form possible cancer causing compounds in the body.

AND Finally, the one that shocked me the most

6) Agave Nectar is advertised as a healthy alternative to sugar but in reality is highly processed, with more fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

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So how do you avoid this? It’s really very simple. STICK TO THE PERIMETER OF YOUR GROCERY STORE. Most grocery stores line the perimeter with the produce, meat, dairy and organic sections. There are only four things that I go into the center of the grocery store for 1) balsamic vinegar 2) apple cider vinegar 3) Spices and 4) Almond Butter. Also, because I’ve had people ask, canned vegetables are a no-no. Prior to canning they are heat blasted, removing most nutritional value, and have added preservatives and salt.

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If you don’t want to take it that far, which I’m sure plenty don’t, then be sure to check what is on the label. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, don’t get it. If it’s has “Modified” or “Enriched” in front of it, that means “highly processed” so put it back. Don’t be scared of fat, as long as it is from a NATURAL source.

99% of eating healthy is breaking the habit of being lazy. It doesn’t take me longer than 10 minutes to cook a chicken breast and some veggies. That’s only 6 minutes more than the average time to heat up a frozen meal, without the extra sodium and preservatives. Anyone can do it, it’s just a matter of making the choice.

“Obesity isn’t the problem, it’s the solution to the problem”

Over the weekend I watched the documentary Hungry For Change. I’ve watched a TON of “food” documentaries in my day, but I’d definitely still recommend this one. One of the reasons is because it discussed the mental struggle behind obesity (hence the quote from a psychologist from the movie as my title) and the fact that many people use the high fat/high sugar foods that send happy signals to the brain as therapy, instead of addressing the issues in other ways.The food industry capitalizes on this psychological problem, as well as designing their products to make us addicted.  It also gave a more simple “how to” for eating healthy (aka what I like to call “J.E.R.F – Just Eat Real Food”).

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Some of the best take-a-ways from the movie I found were:

~ On average, we (Americans) consume 150lbs of sugar a year. The level of sugar in our everyday foods is ridiculous. The other day I was trying to buy chicken stock only to find it had cane sugar added to it. A recent Princeton Study showed that sugar is in fact addictive and had a similar addictive effect on lab mice as drugs.

~ 90-95% of “dieters” end up gaining the weight back. It discusses the various reasons behind this, but the one I found most interesting was the problem with Diet Sodas. The artificial sweeteners in Diet Sodas actually cause you to crave sweeter things more, as you become desensitized to naturally sweet things like fruit. In mice, artificial sweeteners increased food consumption in meals that occurred after consuming the sweetener. This, besides the negative effects of artificial sweeteners in general, make it something to definitely have in moderation, if at all.

~ MSG, which is present in 80% of flavored food, is used in mice studies to fatten mice, as it excites the part of the brain used in fat production (as well as making us happy). Look to see if some of your favorite foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG)

~ We are the first generation who might not have a longer life expectancy than our parents due to the increase in obesity related diseases/health problems.

Part of the film talked about using juicing as an important way to get in vegetables. I personally don’t like juicing, since it leaves a lot of the fibrous parts of the veggies/fruits behind. It did, however, inspire me to start making green smoothies every morning/another around 3 when I start to fade in the afternoon.

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A lot of people have asked me if it actually tastes good. Surprisingly, yes! The cinnamon and ginger help make it not only tolerable, but enjoyable. Especially if you add a banana for some natural sweetness.

It seems to be working as it helped me get through a tough workout last night, including 25 reps of 180lb dead lifts. Getting closer to my 200lb goal!

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With all that said, I hope you all enjoyed the Holiday weekend and ate plenty of foods you enjoyed, even if they weren’t they healthiest. We all gotta indulge now and then! Moderation is key 😉

How Psychologists are making you addicted to junk food.

I have a confession. I love Cheetos. Back in college, they were my go to junk food. Especially the spicy kind. I couldn’t get enough. I could eat multiple bags and still not be full.

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Thanks to an article last week in the New York Times, I now know why. Cheetos, along with every other type of junk food/processed food, is the result of thousands of hours of scientific research with the ultimate goal of making that food as addictive as possible. Not just the marketing. It’s a well known fact that primary colors attract kids, especially orange, that red stimulates the appetite etc. What I didn’t know is that everything down to the sound that the chip makes when it crunches, or how fast the cheetos dissolves in my mouth (a term dubbed “Vanishing Caloric Density”), has been tested over and over to find what is most appealing to consumers.

The article follows one of the prominent Food Psychologist, with a PhD from Harvard, as he talks about several products on the shelf today, from Dr. Pepper (high carbonation added to it’s popularity) to Prego Sauces (as much sugar in a 1/4 cup as two oreos and chunks of mystery meat skyrocketed it to #1), Lunchables (built with a three month non refrigerated shelf life, “cheese” and all, as well as almost much saturated fat as a kids supposed to have in a day) and Potato Chips( the perfect mix of starch to give you a quick glucose sugar rush, fat to send happy signals to the brain, and salt to satisfy our most basic animal cravings).

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If the idea that your food is being psychologically designed to make you an addict doesn’t disturb you enough to make you think twice about processed foods, then I’ll bring out the gross factor. Lots of ingredients that make up anything from your Starbucks to your ice cream to your gummy bears are “enhanced” by ingredients that aren’t publicly advertised.

Let’s take the natural flavoring “castoreum”. It’s used to enhance vanilla flavoring, like in ice cream or candy. It is indeed natural, that’s no lie, but that’s because it is made from Beaver Anal Secretions. And it’s even FDA Approved. 

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Don’t eat vanilla? Well how about that mushroom pizza you ordered? Or should I say, that Maggot Mushroom pizza? The FDA approves up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in every 3.5 ounce can of mushrooms. Next time, buy them fresh.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with the one that hurts me the most, because I love them. Gummy Bears/Worms/Fish you name it. First, if you’ve eaten any gummy item that has red dye in it you can proudly say you’ve eaten a beetle, because that’s how it get’s that lovely red color (Same with those Strawberry Frappuccinos you love so much..).  But Gummy Bears don’t stop there, the gelatin used to create that fun texture comes from boiled connective tissue, most likely pig.

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Now don’t get me wrong. I still love my gummy bears, pig skin and beetles and all. I try to follow a 80/20 rule, as in 80% of the time I eat clean, 20% I allow myself cheats. But keep in my mind how much junk food you may be eating and whether the hours of time put into making it addictive are working on you.  Remember they don’t have your best interest at heart.  As the head of General Mills said, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition, talk to me about taste. Talk to me about sales.”

Paleo Crockpot Balsamic Beef Shank

If you don’t have a crock pot, you need to go out and buy one. Right now. Don’t worry, I’ll wait….. Got it? Good. Crock pots are one of the best inventions ever for those in a rush who still want to make nutritious meals.

Tuesdays are perfect days for crockpots because I have a class in the morning, then I go to work. If I turn the crockpot on after class I’ll have 7 hours of cooking time before I’m back home with a delicious meal waiting for me. This beef dish is one of my favorites. Every time I make it, I always get a text from my roommate saying how good the house smells. Best part? It takes all of 5 minutes to throw together and you’re done.

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Paleo Crockpot Balsamic Beef Shank with Mashed Cauliflower

1lb-2lb (depending on how much meat you want) beef shank

1-2 tbsp coconut oil

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

15 ounce tomato sauce

4 dates (or more if if you really like dates, remove the pit first)

6 gloves garlic

1. Melt the coconut oil in a big pan on the stove over medium heat.

2. Add the beef shank to the coconut oil, browning on each side for 1-2 minutes.

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3. Put beef shank in slow cooker, pour all the ingredients over it (including the melted coconut oil).

4. Leave in slow cooker on low for up to 8 hours, or on medium for 4-6 hours. Test the meat to see if it’s tender. It should shred easily.

5. Enjoy with a side of Paleo Mashed Cauliflower (also the simplest thing to make ever)

Paleo Mashed Cauliflower

1 Head of Cauliflower

Salt & Pepper

1 tbsp water

1. Steam the Cauliflower (or broil if you don’t have a steamer, but they are like 5 dollars at target and worth it)

2. Mash cauliflower with a potato masher. Add salt and pepper and water. That’s it. If you aren’t Paleo, feel free to add cream/butter like you would to normal mashed potato. Or if you want it tangy, add some lemon juice.