Coach Sarah’s Paleo Brownies

Coach Sarah is one of the AMAZING coaches as my Crossfit box and the coordinator of our nutrition challenge (which finishes up next Wednesday, March 6!). From the first time I met her (the ridiculous Hurricane Sandy WoD) to the occasional interaction in class (whether she is there as an athlete or coach) to her nutrition challenge seminar, I continually find myself inspired by her attitude, her approach to life, her acceptance of challenge, and her desire to always be more. Coach Sarah served as my inspiration to start this blog and give the paleo lifestyle a try. So … thank you, Sarah!

Last night I made Coach Sarah’s paleo brownies; now you can be inspired too:

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in microwave-safe bowl
  2. Microwave on high for 3 minutes

Recipe Notes

These ingredients make a large, single-serving (think of a full cereal bowl). Slightly increase or decrease the cocoa powder depending upon your affection for chocolate. Use cinnamon and different nuts to add some variety, flavor, and texture variations.

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Almond Banana Muffins

A yummy paleo recipe inspired by the Almond Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins at Multiply Delicious. I have made them as mini-muffins (about 24) and regular muffins (12):

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c almond butter
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients in large bowl until a smooth “batter” forms.
  3. Evenly distribute batter among all cups in a muffin tin.
  4. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick pricked into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Recipe Tips

The ripeness of the bananas will not only affect how easy they are to mash but also the sweetness of the muffins.

I prepared the muffin tin with a tiny bit of coconut oil to ensure easy removal of the finished muffins.

Trials and Tribulations of Travel – Paleo Style

I am finding that this blog is covering many “firsts”; the latest of which is traveling and remaining true to the paleo lifestyle. Let me start by saying that it most certainly not easy!

Trial #1: The Airport and Flight

Everyone knows that airports are filled with junk food: from the fast food restaurants, to the bars, to the newsstands with candy and chips. Yet knowing these facts and facing them head-on are two very different things. Fortunately, my trip out of town was early (flight departed before 9 AM), and I am not a big breakfast person. It also helped that my gate was among the first in the terminal – it meant I did not have to pass by all the store fronts! I made sure to bring with me a larabar to ensure that I had something for breakfast.

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Lent (aka no bacon!?!)

Tomorrow – February 13, 2013 – is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. While I am not as good about attending mass as often as I should, I do typically try to abide by the obligatory rules of fasting and abstinence during Lent:

  • Fasting: on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (March 29, 2013), reducing the amount of food consumed to one meal. Although two smaller meals may also be eaten, together they should not exceed the size of the one meal.
  • Abstinence: On Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent, abstaining from meat (which includes flesh of mammals and fowl and gravies made from them but does not include fish).

*True, the rules are different depending upon where you live and your faith. These are the rules for Roman Catholics in the U.S.*

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Paleo Snacks and Staples

So, what does a typical shop at Whole Foods look like when you have most of your weekly meals delivered? It’s still expensive, but most of the food will last beyond the week. We just came back home after a Whole Foods outing, and here’s what we had in our bags:

Preliminary Paleo Recipes

My first official foray into cooking paleo-friendly meals began with a delicious (let me say that again, delicious) recipe from the awesome site, Nom Nom Paleo. In fact, the blog dedicated the month of January to a Whole30, and posted new recipes for each day! (Here’s the round-up post.) Where did I start? Day 20: Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs.

Korean Short Ribs

For those of you who are not rib connoisseurs – which, for the record, includes me – here is your down and dirty lesson on the different types of ribs, courtesy of Saveur Magazine:

  • Spare ribs: Pork ribs cut as near the bone as possible from the belly of the pig;
  • Baby back ribs: Pork ribs from the loin on either side of the spine; lean, quick-cooking;
  • Short ribs: Beef ribs taken from the bottom of the rib cage; can be cut individually or as a slab containing several bones.

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What exactly IS Paleo?

I suppose I should take a step back … what is paleo? I am nowhere near an expert; I’m just starting on this journey myself. According to wikipedia:

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman dietStone Age diet, and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years which ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture and grain-based diets.

But perhaps the best explanation of paleo comes from the Whole9 – something it calls “The Whole9 Nutrition Elevator Pitch

I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.

It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight.  In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine.  Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.

Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym.  It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

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Benchmark WOD: Fight Gone Bad

Crossfit creates benchmark WODs for athletes to track their progress. Fight Gone Bad is one of these benchmarks. It consists of three rounds of five, one-minute stations. Athletes attempt to complete as many repetitions as possible.

For those unfamiliar with Crossfit workouts, here’s a quick primer on how to read a workout.

  1. Workouts generally are completed for time, total repetitions, or total number of rounds.
  2. Most boxes will list weights/heights for men and separately for women (e.g., box jumps 24/20 would mean men should use 24 inch boxes and women should use 20 inch boxes)
  3. Scores with “rx” reflect that the athlete completed the workout as written; scores without “rx” reflect that the athlete made scaling modifications to the workout.

Fight Gone Bad

3 rounds, one minute stations

  • Wallball shots 20/14
  • Sumo deadlift high-pulls 75/55
  • Box jumps 20
  • Push press 75/55
  • Row (for calories)
  • Rest

Count total repetitions across all three rounds. For rowing, count calories. Rest for one minute between rounds.