Wegmans Disappoints!?

I originally hail from Western New York and grew up grocery shopping at Wegmans. When I moved to the DC Metro Area for college, the likes of Safeway and Giant replaced my glorious Wegmans. Yes, Fresh Fields (which is now Whole Foods) was nearby but far too pricey for a poor college student. Trader Joe’s was years away. Fast forward a few years WLOGOLOCKUPBLKand Wegmans made its grand debut in the DC Metro Area; well outside the beltway, but it was here! 30-45 minute drives each way were nothing more than a minor inconvenience to enable me to have my beloved Wegmans again!

When the nutrition challenge started in January, we only needed small add-on items to have on hand – no justification for the trek out to Wegmans. But as the weeks have passed, and my commitment to paleo has remained, I have tried to branch out a bit more in the kitchen. So, we ventured out to Wegmans with the excitement of kids visiting Disney World. To our shock and dismay, Wegmans did not deliver!

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Nutrition Challenge Wrap-Up

I owe you a much overdue update on BCF’s Winter Nutrition Challenge.

As a refresher, BCF – my crossfit box – began a 6-week nutrition challenge on January 24. The challenge generally followed Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint.

Participants were divided into teams, awarded points for eating well, attending WODs, completing weekly challenges, sleeping for at least 7 hours, recording what we ate daily, and setting and achieving a physical goal at the gym. We lost points for cheating.

Summary of the Challenge

Coach Sarah kicked off the challenge a nutritional seminar where she explained the ground rules and provided some interesting background regarding the body’s response to carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Our guiding principle came from Crossfit’s founder, Greg Glassman, and his definition of “World-Class Fitness in 100 Words”:

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.

Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense.

Regularly learn and play new sports.

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Slow Cooker Shredded Pork

Another delicious recipe courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo; simple and requiring only a crockpot and 4 ingredients.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pig

  • Pork butt (boneless or bone in)
  • Bacon
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Hawaiian sea salt

The one catch? Nom Nom Paleo recommends 16 hours in the crockpot! I did about 10 hours on low (the max on my programmable crockpot) and another 3 on high (so that it would finish before heading to bed).

Recipe Notes

I had difficulty finding Hawaiian sea salt (and was rather impetuous about my decision to make the recipe), so I substituted with Himalayan salt instead. I read comments posted by others that did a similar substitution. I also kept the skin on and removed it only after the pork finished cooking. Also, do a search on Nom Nom Paleo’s website for “kalua pig” to find additional meal suggestions for your leftover pork!

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Homemade Almond Butter

Almond butter is a staple in our household. Whether for a snack with apples, bananas, or celery or as a necessary ingredient in Coach Sarah’s paleo brownies, almond bread, or almond banana, almond butter is constantly disappearing from our pantry.

Here’s another thing: store-bought almond butter is EXPENSIVE – as in $10 or more per jar! Oh, and be careful, not all almond butter is just almonds – some have added oils, salt, or other unnecessary ingredients.

What’s a girl to do? Make her own (thank you, Vitamix). Although raw almonds are also expensive, I find that they are usually cheaper than almond butter (by quite a few dollars).

Ingredients

  • 3 cups raw almonds

Directions

  1. Pour almonds into Vitamix and replace lid plug with tamper.
  2. Turn Vitamix on variable #1 and quickly move through each variable speed before setting to high.
  3. Use tamper regularly to move almonds (then almond meal) through blades and eliminate air pockets.
  4. Vitamix motor will make unhappy sounds but continue blending at high speed until blade churns through butter and movement is visible. This process should take no longer than 1 minute to 1:30 minutes. Immediately turn Vitamix off.

Recipe Notes

Do not blend on low; following Vitamix directions, move quickly through variable speeds and blend almonds on high speed. Blending at a low speed for a prolonged time will cause motor to overheat and shut off (and it may take as long as 20 minutes for the blender to cool down enough to be usable again)

If the blender does overheat before almond butter forms, do not worry. Just let it cool and start again. I will often pause when the container starts to steam from the heat and then start again until I get the desired, creamy consistency.

 

Vitamix Protein Smoothie

Last weekend’s trip to Whole Foods resulted in an item unexpectedly finding its way into my cart – a Vitamix! The additional $50 coupon offered by Whole Foods was enough to convince me that it was time to finally add a Vitamix to my kitchen. Since its arrival, the Vitamix has had quite a workout, and I will share successful recipes. The first (of, hopefully, many), below.

VitamixIngredients

  • 1 cup frozen mixed fruit
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 thick slice fresh pineapple (no peel, core OK)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to Vitamix.
  2. Replace lid plug with tamper.
  3. Turn Vitamix on and move from variable speed 1 through 10. Switch to high and blend until smooth, approximately 30 seconds. Use tamper as necessary to push ingredients into blades.
  4. Pour smoothie into glasses and enjoy!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

This morning I was looking for something a little different. Before paleo, one of my favorite breakfast dishes were potato pancakes. Not the deep-fried kind, but the you-can-still-see-the-shredded-potato kind (with sour cream and applesauce). Today’s challenge was to find a paleo-friendly way to reformulate these – using sweet potatoes.

IngredientsSweet Potato Pancakes

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Mix grated sweet potato with eggs.
  2. Add cinnamon to taste.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in skillet until melted and sizzles when splashed with water droplets.
  4. Form sweet potato mixture into small patties and place in hot oil.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side.

Recipe Notes

If the patties are slightly oily, place on a plate with paper towels to drain. I love cinnamon and used quite a bit here. Serving suggestion: add bacon and eggs.

A little burger love

The paleo lifestyle is about eating clean, healthy, unprocessed food, which generally means advance preparation and a bit of time. Clearly, our busy lifestyles do not always permit us to be as “prefect” in applying these principles as we would like. For me, occasional meals of convenience (and indulgence) have come in the form of burgers; juicy, meaty, tasty burgers!

My three go-to places: Elevation Burger, Burger 7, and BGR The Burger Joint. Each place has its advantages, but . . .

  • Elevation Burger uses 100% grass-fed, free-range, organic beef and each restaurant grounds its beef on premises;
  • Burger 7 offers 100% grass fed beef hot dogs but only commits to beef that is humanely raised and fed a “high quality vegetarian diet”; and
  • BGR offers all natural, grain-fed, free-range beef.

Although not technically permitted for the paleo perfectionist (except for one of BGR’s options),

  • Elevation Burger offers fresh-cut french fries cooked in 100% olive oil
  • Burger 7 offers both regular and sweet potato fries cooked in olive oil
  • BGR offers both regular and sweet potato fries as well as … wait for it … grilled asparagus spears!

All three will serve the burger without a bun if asked, but both Elevation Burger and Burger 7 have a lettuce wrap option listed directly on the menu.

Lenten Meatless Friday: Spinach Quiche

Finally fulfilling a promise made a few weeks ago and bringing you a recipe suitable for paleo followers for a Friday during Lent (i.e., a meatless, paleo recipe).

I will admit that I have struggled these past few Lenten Fridays, asking whether to “stay paleo” or “stay Catholic.” I succeeded, despite the difficulty: salmon caesar salad with oil & vinegar dressing in lieu of the caesar dressing (no croutons or parmesan) for lunch; roasted trout with baked sweet potato for dinner. Another meal involved a visit to sweetgreen with a yummy salad of mesclun, avocado, egg, shrimp, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Paleo_Lent
Sandwiches, fried fish, pasta are great food options for Fridays during Lent, but they certainly do not comport with the paleo lifestyle. Bacon, steak, chicken, burgers, fajita meat, tacos are all great paleo options, but they do not comply with the requirement to stay away from meat. The typical answer: baked/sautéed/roasted fish and veggies. Let me say this: it is all easier said than done when meat is such a significant component of the paleo lifestyle. Hats off to those of you that follow paleo and are vegetarians! Please tell me how you do it!

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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.