Monday, February 28, 2011

The Paleo Grand Slam Breakfast!

Sunday morning we made ourselves a special breakfast treat - our very own paleo version of the American classic, the Grand Slam.  And our version is so much better than the original!

The Paleo Grand Slam:
  • Bacon (of course)
  • Poached eggs (we only had one, but I could have gone for two)
  • Coconut flour pancakes
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • A little less than 1/2 cup coconut flour
    • cinnamon and nutmeg, I like a lot - but add depending on taste
    • A little more than a 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
    • Mix all together - I made the pancakes in a frying pan with a generous amount of coconut oil, which created a nice crispiness to the outside of the pancake
  • Blueberry sauce - simply frozen blueberries warmed in a saucepan with a good sprinkle of cinnamon

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paleo Taste Bud Takeover

It's Day 17 of our challenge, and something interesting is beginning to happen...I think my taste buds are changing.

I've found the past several meals to be extra scrumptious, but they are the same types of meals we've been eating for the past 17 days.  Prior to our challenge the majority of our meals were paleo, with a few open meals per week.  I noticed a change in my preferences right away, mostly related to foods at restaurants tasting too salty.  After months of eating this way, I begain to notice that I no longer enjoyed cheese as much as I used to.  In college, I would often buy a bag of pre-shredded cheese, grab a handful and throw it in my mouth.  Now even the thought of this is revolting.

But that's not exactly what I'm feeling today.  Rather than an aversion to foods I used to love, I've begun to crave the paleo foods we are cooking.  Perhaps we're just getting better at preparing meats and are working out our cooking skills, but it really just feels like I'm savoring my paleo foods that much more.

I wonder if this has happened to anybody else going paleo...

#16 - Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs
(Yes, it is day 17 - but I prefer Aramis to Fontenot)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Paleo Ice Cream Recipe

Before bacon becomes your new comfort food (it's become one of mine), for some, going paleo means that you'll have to withstand a few comfort food cravings.  These cravings often matriculate around 8-9pm...Dessert.

While, milk & cookies are a definite no-no, I was comforted to discover other options.  One of my favorites is this recipe for Banana Ice Cream.  It's a crowd-pleaser because:
  1. It's delicious
  2. It's stupid-easy to make
  3. It's just like eating ice cream
  1. Do your best not to eat your bananas.  Let them get a little black
  2. Chop them into pieces that will be more manageable for your food processor (or blender)
  3. Freeze
  4. Put in food processor
  5. Blend until the texture is like an ice cream
  6. Eat
Please keep in mind:  there is a lot of sugar packed in here, and if you're not careful you could end up eating more bananas than you would normally eat in an sitting.  Try to limit the size of your scoops, as well as how often you eat this and you'll be fine.
The last time we tried this, we added half a vanilla bean to increase the flavor's complexity, but the effects were minimal.  I would suggest a whole vanilla bean if you choose to go this route.  Adding berries or other fruits are also a nice addition.  Here's what the process looks like:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Another week of delicious paleo meals - week 3 menu plan is on!

Well, I'm bringing back some favorites in week 3.  There are just some recipes (meatballs and chili for example) that are so easy to make ahead and stretch over multiple meals - that I feel like I need them.  My goal for week 4 is to find some new "stretchy", go-to meals. 

I made our egg muffins, meatballs and chili last night - so we are pretty set for the beginning of the week.  The exotic 'meat' we are experimenting with this week is bone marrow and the big adventure for sunday will be using my new pressure cooker for beef stew!

Week 3 MenuBreakfastLunchDinner
Monday 2/21veg & bacon egg muffinsroasted beet, kale and shrimp saladtaco salad bowl (x2)
Tuesday 2/22veg & bacon egg muffinstaco salad bowlmeatballs & spaghetti squash
Wednesday 2/23bacon, eggs & avocadomeatballs & spaghetti squash"breaded" pork cutlets & brussel sprouts
Thursday 2/24pork cutlets & eggsbeanless chili and jicama chipschipotle lime salmon & steamed spinach
Friday 2/25salmon & egg scramblebeanless chili & vegpaleo shrimp and grits
Saturday 2/26eggs & beanless chilipork chops with roasted apple and onionsroasted bone marrow, salad greens and leftovers
Sunday 2/27paleo pancake & blueberriestuna & vegbeef stew (pressure cooker!)

Paleo Challenge...not so challenging?

Well, we are officially 2 weeks, or one third, of the way through our 45-day paleo challenge.  And we are basically rocking this sh*t out!  I have not had anything even approaching a food craving breakdown (not counting my vivid food cheating dreams), and over all - feeling great!  I did have a minor breakdown at the gym, when I decided I just wasn't doing one of the exercises Ryan had on our workout plan for the day.  But I blame that on general grumpiness and not the challenge.  I am working on always saying 'yes' at the gym.

Challenge highlights to date:
  • After about day 10, all general congestion has cleared up
  • Weight loss is not a goal for me on this challenge, however I did measure myself at the beginning to track how my body changed over the course of the challenge.  I've lost an inch on my waist, hips and thighs - seems like a lot for such a short time, but that's what the measuring tape says!
  • Sleep!  Sleep is amazing, we have our blackout blinds in full effect, focusing on 8 hours per night - and getting up for work has never been easier (although no matter how well rested I am, it can still be a challenge to leave the cozy warm cocoon of the bed!).
  • Barely drinking...we had some wine on Valentine's day and a couple glasses over the weekend.  But overall, not drinking much at all - which is refreshing (and makes weekend mornings so productive!
  • Meal planning and workout planning are awesome!  I feel like we have the time to do what we want, because we have made the time.
One third of the way there...maybe we need to make it longer! 

#14 - Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs
(even though it is actually day 15 - I just don't have a good 15, and how do you pass up Mr Cub??)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wanted: BBQ Sauce Recipe

Sometimes not everything works out as planned.

I wouldn't say our first attempt at making BBQ sauce was a failure, but it was definitely far from successful.  We have found it impossible to find a BBQ sauce without either tons of salt, tons of sugar, or both.  So, in order to make pulled pork, we tried to make our own. 

The recipe sounded simple enough, but the end product yielded less than half of the sauce we needed, and I'm not sure I would've called that sauce - BBQ.  It was more like spiced tomato paste.

Improvising a little we added more tomato paste, paprika, apple cider vinegar, mustard powder and another splash of orange juice.  We then threw in a bunch of chili powder (probably too much), garlic powder, onion powder, some dijon mustard, and of course my favorite spice - cumin.  The end result was a mixture that could be construed as a weak BBQ sauce with added tomato paste.

We are definitely going to try our hand at making BBQ sauce again, and plan to try Loren Cordain's Raspberry BBQ Sauce derived from his Ray's Catsup recipe. 

Has anybody made their own paleo BBQ sauce?  What works?  What doesn't?

It's Day 10 of our challenge and we're still going strong!

Ron Santo #10
Chicago Cubs
(WGN Radio will never be the same!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Paleo Valentines Day

Valentine's Day-8
Day 8 of our challenge fell on Valentines day, and I have to say that we hit this one out of the park.  Rather than whine and complain about missing out of chocolates and those terrible candy hearts, we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious paleo meal and some live sketch/improv comedy.  The meal included:
  • Maine Lobster with homemade Olive Oil Mayo dip
  • Savory Cauliflower Rice
  • Brussel Sprouts with Walnuts
  • A delicious and eclectic red wine called Pleides we bought at Galleria after their Saturday afternoon wine tasting.
Never do you feel more like a caveman than when you boil a live animal and then rip it apart with your bare hands.  Scrounging for- and sucking out- delicious bits of meat.  In the spirit of our challenge, I tried the tamale and roe.  The result was a different flavor and a texture I didn't care for, but not bad either.
Thanks to careful planning, we had enough time to savor the meal before walking to The Second City for the show.  As usual, the players delivered and laughs were had by all.  Chicago is world-renowned for its improv/sketch comedy and The Second City Tour-Co performing on the mainstage held up its end of the bargain.
Had the holiday occurred during a non-challenge day, we'd likely see this as an opportunity to have an open meal, but this experience has opened my eyes to the fact that it can be easy and even desirable to stay true to our paleo principles in the face of a holiday (be it hallmark or real).
Day 8 - Outta the Park.
Andre Dawson #8
Chicago Cubs

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 4

We bit off a bit more than we could chew at the gym today.  Feeling a little too fatigued to type, so today's gonna be quick.

Day 4 thoughts:
  • We said we were only going to eat starchy tubers (really just sweet potatoes) after big workouts, and we definitely earned them tonight.
  • Commuting to the suburbs from Chicago can be hit or miss.  Today was a miss.
  • The sun seems to be staying out later.  We're all for days getting longer.
  • Despite eating paleo for 4 days now, I think my body is still working my Super Bowl pig-out out of my system.  I can feel it turning though.

Niklas Hjalmarsson #4
Chicago Blackhawks

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 3

The third day of our challenge came on an very cold day here in Chicago.  Mostly single digits, and consistently below zero with the wind chill.  Anytime the weather report mentions the term "Arctic Blast" you know it's time to break out the long undies.  Good thing we had warm meatballs and coffee in to-go mugs already prepared.

Thoughts from Day 3:

  • We're sad to not be going to the gym because of a scheduled rest day, but also glad to not have to go back outside again.
  • Having pre-cooked breakfast and lunch already packed in Tupperware is a lifesaver at 6am.  No scramble to throw together a decent paleo lunch.
  • It's nice to listen to music while cooking.
  • Our calves are still sore from running in our Vibram Fivefingers for the first time last night.  
  • Running in Vibram Fivefingers felt surprisingly good.  So good in fact, it's hard to believe cushy running shoes ever rose to popularity.
  • We haven't made Salmon Cakes in months because it stinks up our apartment, but we made them tonight and they were super delicious.  So much so, that they are officially worth the stink, and back on the plan for future menus.
Bronko Nagurski #3
Chicago Bears

Macadamias, you make me smile.

Thanks to a recent Groupon offering (and my Groupon addiction), Ryan and I found ourselves with Groupon deals to the Nutty Guys.  So far we’ve received 3 orders from them and have been really pleased. 
Our current Nutty Guys stash includes:
  • Walnut meal – although trying to minimize nut flour use altogether, this should be a good alternative to almond meal
  • Macadamias! – so yummy, and a decent omega 3 to 6 ratio
  • Brazil nuts – to be eaten sparingly, bad omega 3 to 6 ratio, but packed with selenium
  • Unsweetened banana chips – good way to satisfy the occasional sweet tooth (these do make me consider getting us our own food dehydrator)
  • Chia seeds – Ryan just read Born to Run, and is going to experiment with Chia seeds, I am not yet well versed in the Chia seed (unless it is growing on pottery).
Overall Nutty Guys review:  It's a great resource because you can get just about any nut you want, and unsalted. It's been hard to find plain, unsalted macadamia and brazil nuts. Their pricing isn't always cheap, but it is still very competitive - and sometimes it is just cheap (big bags of walnut meal for $2!?!).  Over-all, we definitely recommend Nutty Guys for those hard to find nuts, seeds, and nut meal, but otherwise you might be better off just buying nuts at the store.

Our nut stash.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 2, better than Day 1

Day 2 of the 45-day paleo challenge feels a lot better than Day 1!  

Why Day 2 rocked:
  • Planning works!  There was plenty of delicious paleo food to satisfy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Planning works!  It was the first day of work plus paleo challenge and office treats were not tempting.
  • I'm sore from monday's workout - and it feels good.
  • No longer feeling the effects of super bowl party over-indulgences.
  • Breakfast and lunch for Day 3 are made, packed and in the fridge
Tomorrow, we talk nuts.

#2 - Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 1

On the first day of our challenge we are once again reminded of its purpose.  In the wake of a very fun Super Bowl party, we are both moving a little slow today.  One of us is a little hung over, and both of us definitely have upset stomachs.  Not that our sluggishness was unexpected, but it serves as a healthy reminder to the purposes of eating/living paleo.

We have already purchased groceries to last us through Friday, and are preparing to head to the gym.  Despite not feeling 100% we plan to push ourselves and fully expect a decent workout.  I'm curious how  much better our workouts will be after living paleo for a week or so.  Thanks to our Super Bowl, open-meal blowout, day 1 of our 45 day paleo challenge has begun with very little fanfare.
Derrick Rose #1
Chicago Bulls

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day and Our Sleep Plan

Thanks to #SNOMG - 2011 we were asked NOT to come into work today.  Not that we would've been able to anyway, but it's nice to know our companies care about our safety.  Growing up in California, I've been amazed by the blizzard.  The window has ousted the TV for my attention.  I secretly want to venture outside to "see what it's like," but the desire to leave the house is quickly thwarted when I see another humanoid miserably trudging down the middle of the street because snow on the sidewalk is several feet deep.  Regardless, I still plan to take advantage of my 2 favorite "non-workday" benefits:  1) sleeping in, and 2) the opportunity to go to the gym during the day to avoid crowds.

Snowfall is still expected to last till the afternoon so we're planning to wait till it dies down to walk to the gym.  It might not be a midday workout, but it should still be super-empty.  In terms of sleeping in, we nailed that.  Not sure if it was the natural white-noise from the storm, or the extra glass of wine, but I slept better than I have in weeks and am full of extra energy.  Better make it to the gym just to stay sane!

Actually, sleep is going to play a large part in our 45-day challenge.  To me, the chapter discussing sleep was one of the more interesting chapters in The Paleo Solution.  Sleep has never been part of my health/fitness considerations, but it is now.  It makes sense.  Our paleolithic ancestors arose with the sun, and went to sleep not long after sundown.  Why should we be any different?  

When we start our 45-day challenge, we're also planning to get on a consistent sleep schedule.  Here's our plan:
  • Determine exactly how many hours of sleep we need each night (we're assuming it'll be around 8)
  • Get to bed earlier
  • Wake up earlier on the weekends (to maintain a consistent circadian rhythm)
  • Completely blackout our entire room (our blackout blinds should arrive soon)
  • Limit how much caffeine is ingested, and how late it is ingested

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How to make the first week work!

The plan has come together - and this is how we make week 1 work! 

Ryan is working on our workout plans and I've been reviewing recipes for the winners.  Several recipes are things I just throw together; meatballs, egg muffins, etc.  Some are from Everyday Paleo - and those always seem to be really tasty.  Future weeks will probably have more new recipe adventures!  I haven't included snacks, which for us typically includes small amounts of nuts, some fruits (both rules compliant) or raw veggies and the occasional Larabar.

Monday 2/7Tuesday 2/8Wednesday 2/9
Breakfasteggs & baconegg muffins w/ vegegg muffins w/ veg
Lunchtaco salad bowlcaribbean seafood stewmeatballs w/ zucchini noodles
Dinnercaribbean seafood stew x2meatballs w/ zucchini noodlessalmon cakes on mixed greens
Cook for future• egg muffins w/ veg
• meatballs
xbeanless chili• stufffed peppers
·   Warm-up
·   Superset:  Squats/Hanging leg raises
·   3 Minutes on the Row Machine
·   Superset:  Dumbbell Bench Press/Dumbbell Rows
·  3 Minutes on the Row Machine
·  Superset:  Dumbbell Bicep Curls/OverheadTriceps Extensions/Dumbbell Shoulder press
·  3 Minutes on the Row Machine
·  Superset:  Medicine Ball Abs/Back Extensions
·  3 Minutes on the Row Machine
·  Core Holds
·  Cool-down stretch.
Treadmill interval workout

Thursday 2/10Friday 2/11Saturday 2/12Sunday 2/13
Breakfastsalmon cakes & eggsstuffed pepperpaleo pancake with blueberry sauceeggs & bacon
Lunchstuffed pepper & veggieschili & veggiesleftover chicken and veggiesmulligatawny soup
Dinnerchili & sweet potato friesroasted chicken and coconut milk braised collard greensmulligatawny souproasted beet, kale and shrimp salad
Cook for futurex• chicken stockx• crab cakes
• grill chicken breasts
·  Warm-up
·  Superset:  Lunges/Hanging leg raises
·  5 Minutes on the Stair Stepper
· Superset:  Bench Press/Cable Rows
·  5 Minutes on the Stair Stepper
·  Superset:  Barbell Bicep Curls/Skull Crushers/Barbell Upright Rows
· 5 Minutes on the Stair Stepper
· Superset:  Scissors Abs/Back Extensions
·  5 Minutes on the Stair Stepper
·   Core Holds
·   Cool-down stretch.
Cardio-Medley:  Interval Training
· Warm up
· Superset:  Dead lifts/Push ups
· Superset:  Jerks/Lat Pull downs
·Superset:  Rope slams/Lunge Box Jumps
· Superset:  Overhead lung walk/Medicine Ball Abs - Passing
· Superset:  Triplethreat abs/Back extensions
· Cool down stretch

Can't wait to start executing on the plan!