Sunday, May 29, 2011

FDA Fails Again!

USDA to replace the food pyramid with plate icon

Big news - the Food Pyramid doesn't work.

It didn't work in the past, so the FDA reformatted the pyramid to the "My Pyramid."  It appears that the My Pyramid doesn't work either, so now the FDA is reformatting again.  Oh, not reformatting the foods on the pyramid, but how it looks.  They're planning on presenting their SAD diet on some sort of plate diagram as opposed to a pyramid.  Apparently people were confused by the pyramid, causing them to make them make poor food decisions.  Now that the same foods will be splayed out on a plate, they hope people won't be confused anymore.  I wonder how long it takes before they realize that it's not how they present this, but what they're presenting that really matters.  I hope they didn't waste too many of my tax dollars on this embarrassing feint at an attempt to make a difference.  How about a little scientific research?  Better yet, how about listening to the scientific research that's already been done?  SAD

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Survived CrossFit!

I thought it might kill me, and it didn't.  We might even be friends some day.

I was really nervous for my first CrossFit workout last week.  I didn't know if I would understand the foreign language of abbreviations or survive the physical intensity that I expected.  Both turned out ok.  I learned some new acronyms and although totally spent afterwards, did not die.

A huge thank you to George at CrossFit Chicago for showing us the CrossFit ropes.  I am not giving up my regular gym membership just yet, but expect we will be showing up for CrossFit from time to time.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret: I'm scared of CrossFit

Yes, CrossFit is scary to me.

I think it has something to do with the extensive use of acronyms, overall unique terminology and affinity for socks.  As well as the fear that I just won’t measure up.  I’m no couch potato, but I’m no high performance athlete either.  When I think of CrossFit, I think of a bunch of athletes – doing handstands.

Oddly, we were first introduced to paleo through someone involved in CrossFit.  We've been living a paleo lifestyle for about 13 months now, but have never crossed over into the world of CrossFit.  I've been intrigued by it, but scared of it at the same time.

I consider my current workouts to be pretty decent.  We lift heavy things, do some sprints and functional types of movements.  We do a pretty good job of keeping it interesting and improving our strength.  But it is just Ryan and I.  I don’t have to worry about how I compare to anyone I am working out with, because I don't try to compare myself to a 6’4” muscular guy. 

The CrossFit style group workout intimidates me.  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I realize that I am not fit at all and can’t do anything?  What if I'm the worst?  I guess we will find out the answers to these questions after my first CrossFit workout tomorrow morning!  Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paleo Restaurant Review: Burger Bar Chicago

The quest to review restaurants in our neighborhood with paleo potential continues...bringing us on an unplanned evening out to Burger Bar Chicago.  As the name implies, this place is focused on their burgers - and accordingly, beer.  I'll take a good burger any day, but since going paleo beer has slipped to last place behind wine and liquor for me.

What we ordered:
Me - Belly Up Burger (grass-fed burger with cider braised pork belly, apple slaw and roasted onions) w/o bun, served with sweet potato fries and a glass of pinot noir.
Ryan - El Fuego Burger (grass-fed burger with jalapenos, pickled red onions, oaxaca and guacamole) w/o bun, served with sweet potato tater tots and a glass of pinot noir.

The Good:
  • Although all specialty burgers do not automatically come with grass-fed beef patties, the upgrade is only a buck.
  • The specialty toppings, read pork belly, are delicious.  Overall, the burgers were very good.
  • Wine for $6/glass - that's a deal in these parts.
The Bad:
  • Sweet potato fries were a disappointment, although utterly delicious, they were heavily coated in some type of breading.  I had a few before realizing this and then stopped eating them (although Ryan had no problem polishing them off).
  • Sweet potato tater tots were a disappointment, mainly because they just didn't taste very good - kind of like fried balls of sweet potato mush.
  • Not so bad, but definitely noticed, was our servers disappointment at our healthy choices - no bun?! none of our amazing craft beers?!  grass-fed??

Overall the burgers were awesome, sides - not so much.  If I get a hankering for a high class beer and burger while watching a ball game - I might go back. 

More than anything, testing out restaurants for paleo options makes me realize we are damn good cooks and I like my cooking more than most restaurants.  Must start working on own restaurant plan...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Paleo Mother's Day Brunch

Although no mothers were actually present for breakfast, we could not help but prepare ourselves a good brunch in honor of mother's day. 

  • Bacon!
  • Fried eggs
  • Paleo waffles made with coconut flour
  • Blueberry cinnamon sauce
Really, I love brunching on any given sunday - holiday or not!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paleo Restaurant Review: Roy's Hawaiian Fusion

Roy's was my favorite restaurant prior to going paleo.  My parents took me there for my 21st birthday, and I've been a slew of times since then at different locations across the country.  Almost always for a special occasion because Roy's isn't cheap.  However, if you stick to their prix fixe menu, you will leave very well fed without having to refinance your house to do so.  Oh, and on Mondays they have make your own prix fixe.  So check that out too.

I've been to Roy's twice now since going paleo and it still holds up!  They now have a Gluten Free (GF) Menu, which you can also apply the prix fixe (all but one the items in their prix fixe were offered GF).  This isn't another cop-out GF menu either, where they simply list items that were previously GF to begin with.  Roy's makes the extra effort.  For example, my fav, the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi becomes the Macadamia Nut Dusted Mahi-Mahi sans gluten.

Roy's isn't the perfect paleo meal, but can be if you so choose.  You sit down to a small bowl of Edamame - similar to chips & salsa at most Mexican restaruants.  Legumes;  no good.  Let them sit there and eventually your server will catch on and take them from the table.  It is a Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, so many of the dishes are Asian inspired and include soy and/or rice.  Potatoes are another starch you'll see on the menu often.  Overall, the plates are filled with paleo goodness (meat, fish, & veggies), with a few unwanted ingredients (soy, rice, butter).

Oh, and I almost forgot.  Prior to going paleo, my favorite dessert in the world was Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle (a chocolate molten lava cake, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a raspberry puree).  It came as no surprise that I now consider this to be quite possibly the best cheat dessert after I saw it on their GF menu.  The only difference is that the original comes with a scoop of vanilla on top of a small cookie, but for the GF version the ice cream rests on small bed of coco nibs.  Sure, it's loaded with sugar and dairy, but it's still GF right?  No, it's not good for you, it is still a pretty big cheat, but it's so good, it's not the type of cheat that you'll regret later on (a la most desserts - especially those containing gluten).

To avoid the temptation of having to eat 2 Souffles (which means that I eat 1 and 1/2 and Stacey eats 1/2), I ordered a GF prix fixe, and Stacey ordered an app and an entree from the GF menu.  I had the Short Rib Bi Bim Bap App, the Kalbi Grilled Hangar Steak Dinner, and the Souffle (to share).  Stacey ordered the Roasted Beat Salad, and the Iron Seared Filet Mignon.  We both started off with a specialty cocktail (another can't miss at Roy's), and Stacey followed up with a glass of wine with her steak.  The whole meal came out to about $120.  A hefty sum, and had we not had a $100 gift card thanks to credit card rewards, we'd have eaten at home.  Without drinks, and sticking to the prix fixe you could get out of there spending less than $100 tip and tax included.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why We're Giving Up Coffee for 100 Days

It's May Day, while some people might be out celebrating International Worker's Day or decorating a Maypole - we are celebrating our 50th day off the coffee, and caffeine in general.  Both being coffee lovers* we can picture the look of utter shock on the face of other coffee lovers who may be reading this.  We know, it sounds crazy.  Going paleo doesn't mean you have to give up coffee, and/or caffeine.  Why give up something that could still be considered paleo?  It's not like it's bad for you; coffee is a natural antioxidant, black tea has been associated with decreased instances of some diseases, and according to Ryan, ancient ninja masters drink tea!  (For the record we also gave up black and green tea, but still drink herbal tea on occasion). 

Well, after reading the Whole9's Coffee Manifesto, we figured why not give it a try.  We decided to give it all up for 100 days.  Ryan also mentioned the desire to not be addicted to any substance.  Both of us agreed that giving up caffeine was easy and we drink coffee because we like the taste more than anything - and probably the habit or ritual of it.  Having a cup of coffee means the day can now commence.  Although prior to giving it up, we both had noticed that going even a day without the 1 or 2 cups usually meant an afternoon headache - so it was definitely time to kick the habit.

What we've observed over the first 50 days coffee/caffeine free:
  • Headaches only happened the first 2-3 days.  The duration for caffeine withdrawl is typically 48 hours, but can last for up to a week.  Although incidence of withdrawl symptoms in caffeine consumers is only 50%, so if you quit - maybe you'll be in the lucky half of the population. 
  • Ryan craved coffee for the first 2 weeks, I only craved it for a few days.  The weekends seem the most difficult.  We both enjoy making a good breakfast while sipping coffee on a Saturday/Sunday morning (typically post workout, even though it might be better to drink coffee before a workout and rehydrate post-workout).  Herbal tea has really been a perfect replacement for these times and suppresses any coffee cravings I might have. 
  • After the first month, I only had cravings when walking past a coffee shop and catching a whiff of freshly ground beans.  Not fair they can spit out those smells. 
Occasionally, I'll see someone walking with a coffee cup and I'll get a little envious, which makes me consider drinking decaf as a special treat from time-to-time once our 100 day trial is over.  Unless, over the next 50 days, I decide the benefits of living sans caffeine are too great. 

Benefits we've experience:
  • It's easier to fall asleep and get a good night's sleep
  • Whiter teeth
  • No more dependence (afternoon headaches) on caffeine
  • Fat loss!  I'm not sure if this is related to eliminating coffee, but I have noticed that some stubborn belly fat that wouldn't go away during our 45-day challenge is finally disappearing.  Ryan has a theory that it is related, since coffee consumption leads to increased cortisol levels, which can lead to more belly fat. 
  • Less general crankiness
  • Save money - $2-$4 per day adds up fast
  • It's easier to stay hydrated now.  In the past, I would occasionally experience muscle cramps due to dehydration.  These occur very infrequently now, and I can usually pinpoint why they happen - either drinking alcohol, or not drinking enough water.  Before, they would often occur even though I'd been drinking a lot of water, and I wouldn't know why.  Probably the coffee.
  • More counter space - storing our coffee maker and bean grinder, we have more room for other things.
So, we have 50 more days to go and depending on how this list of benefits grows - coffee may be out for good.

* Our love of coffee has run deep.  We both drink it black, truly appreciating the flavor of coffee, not just using it as a sugar/cream/caffeine vehicle.  We owned 2 coffee makers prior to this trial (now down to 1), 1 french press, 1 bean grinder, and more coffee mugs than cups (we also own 2 tea kettles - for rare days we might not have any beans).  Ryan has even been able to identify our favorite Chicago coffee, Intelligensia, in a blind taste test.