Day 23 ~ Crossed by the Chocolate Mint Larabar

Things are feeling good and becoming routine.  Energy is stable.  I’m not coming up with a new craving for a forbidden food multiple times a day.  We are cruising.  However, I’m realizing we have just a week left to go now on the challenge.  I was so busy today I didn’t stop to give any thought to what sort of lifestyle changes I may want to more permanently adopt or what I have learned from this experience, but it’s time to get those thoughts brewing as I enter the final week of the challenge.

Breakfast:

Paleo Breakfast Porridge by Paleo Spirit

http://paleospirit.com/2013/paleo-breakfast-porridge/

This was such a wonderful recipe.  I brewed myself a nice cup of ginger tea, and as I sat down to enjoy the porridge, I felt like I had checked into a Bed and Breakfast. With each bite, I imagined I was sitting on a veranda of a chalet, taking in the fresh mountain air, clad like a snow bunny with a trendy scarf, the porridge providing all the warmth I needed.   Yes, quite the dramatic fantasy.  The porridge really was that comforting and good though. (Thanks, A.M.!)

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Lunch:

It was still slim pickings here, but I pulled something together, and it did the job.

Inside Out Salsa Burger

I had a stash of Kirkland Turkey Burger patties in the freezer, so I popped some in my cast iron skillet over medium high heat and covered with a lid.  Seven minutes per side was perfect.  While the burgers were cooking, I sautéed onion slices in a little bacon grease until they were caramelized.  Using a large serrated knife, I sliced each patty in half.  The meat slices become the top and bottom of the “bun.”  I dolloped some of that tasty salsa we had on hand for the halibut and added the onions before closing up the “bun.”  Then, I rounded out the plate with some plantain chips, carrots, and some more of that awesome salsa for dipping.

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Snacks:

There was about a 7 hour stretch between lunch and dinner, so a few snacks were necessary, but I didn’t do a great job of keeping track.  I vaguely remember some strawberries, a handful of pecans, a couple of dates, a couple dried apples.  It was a bit of a blur, and I clearly didn’t limit how much sweet stuff I hit, but I stuck to my pool of approved foods.

Dinner:

No Pasta No Fagioli Soup

Have you ever had the Pasta e Fagioli Soup from Olive Garden?  It’s a hearty, meaty minestrone-type soup, and, in my opinion, the best thing on the menu at the “Denny’s of Italian food.”  The words pasta e fagioli actually mean noodles and beans.  For years, I had been making this convenient and delicious recipe from Crock Pot 365 http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/day-305.html

I have since Paleo-ized it with the removal of the beans and pasta.  You might be wondering what’s left when you remove the pasta and the beans, but I promise you it is not lacking!  It is simply veggies and beef, but it is so rich and has that same hearty flavor of the traditional Pasta e Fagioli Soup.  Grass-fed beef for this is really nice!

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I didn’t make time to come up with a new batch of dessert, so my husband and I consulted our stash of Larabars.  We attempted to split a Chocolate Mint Larabar (new flavor!), but we were super disappointed.  I thought it was pretty bitter tasting and hardly minty.  Bummer.  (Cue reeling feelings of being wronged and ripped off.)   Before I had convinced myself that injustice had not really occurred here, I had scarfed a spoonful of cashew butter and a couple of dried apples to get the bitter cocoa flavor out of my mind and mouth.  Perhaps not all of my emotional eating issues have been resolved.  However, tomorrow is a new day—the start of the last week of the challenge.

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Day 22 ~ Dole Whip Gone Paleo Takes Me to Paradise

Here’s a very quick roundup of today’s fuel:

Breakfast- Leftover cinnamon coffee cake (I had to eat the remaining six dollar’s worth of the fifteen dollar batch, and now I won’t make it again.)

Lunch- The Habit Restaurant- A lettuce-wrapped burger with bacon, guacamole, grilled onions, and tomato.  Fantastic! My husband and I also split a garden salad.  We ordered the house balsamic vinaigrette but weren’t sure what to expect.  We gave it a little taste.  My husband liked it.  It was a decent option, as I’m sure it was low in sugar, if any, and the menu said it was made with olive oil.  However, I had gotten my son a kid’s meal at Rubio’s just minutes before walking into The Habit.  While in Rubio’s, I snagged a couple to-go containers of salsa and brought those in to put on my half of the salad.

Habit Burger and Salad

Dinner- Leftover almond meal/coconut-crusted halibut with salsa, and, don’t laugh… oven-crisp okra!  I was cleaning out my freezer and noticed 2 bags of frozen okra, which I had bought a while ago for gumbo.  I had not planned ahead for Saturday’s dinner and had anticipated getting groceries before dinner, but it didn’t happen.  We really had no veggies left in the house other than onions and baby carrots.  So, after a quick google search of ‘paleo frozen okra,’ I found this recipe from Fast Paleo and got to work.  I was pleasantly surprised that they really were crispy and almost chip-like.  No slime with this okra, just great flavor from a unique little veggie!

http://fastpaleo.com/bison-burgers-spicy-okra/

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Finally, for my pride and joy of the evening, I made a Paleo-ized version of Dole Whip!  Wow!  It was amazing!  Really close to the real thing!  Definitely a winner!  I will make this again for sure.  Thank you Detoxinista!

http://detoxinista.com/2013/02/pineapple-whip/

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Day 21 ~ Fat is our Friend

I think I like this even-keel, calm, collected, stable energy thing I’ve got going.  I’ve been saying all week that I don’t wake up and leap out of bed with jazz hands ready to sing or start a CrossFit WOD feeling pumped, but I am not tired.  It’s more of a refreshing clarity, as long as I’ve gotten adequate 8 hours of sleep. 

The apple and fried eggs breakfast has been working for me—it’s calming to the stomach, it’s filling, it’s fueling, it’s balanced, it’s quick, it’s portable. 

For most of the week, I’ve been consuming a little glucose boost about 15 minutes before CrossFit.  It’s been a couple bites of Larabar, a half of banana, an almond flour/honey based muffin.  Today I popped 2 dates.  I felt prepared for facing the challenge of the morning CrossFit workout: bench presses, deadlifts, hand-release push-ups, and double-unders.  I didn’t kill it (I’m still working on executing the mechanics of double-unders,) but I didn’t run out of steam.  I had my hemp protein post-workout smoothie to refuel and got my clear-minded, cool, collected self to work on winding down my workweek.   

My husband’s estimate to batch-prepare 2 pounds of beef, 3 pounds of chicken, 4 bell peppers, and 3 onions for our fajitas lunches couldn’t have been more precise.  We polished off the remaining portions of the batch-cooked fajita fixins for lunch today.  Still yum!

When I was cleaning up lunch, I had the urge to snack.  Really, hypothalamus??? You’ve got to be kidding me (or perhaps you are defective!)—I just finished lunch!!!  I’ve noticed that just being in the kitchen seems to trigger something in my brain to want to stockpile my belly like it’s my last chance to eat.  I quickly grabbed a huge bottle of water and high-tailed it to my office area.  Once in the safe zone (snack-free zone), upon further reflection, I hypothesized that my activity level and daily workouts are actually making me really thirsty.  I do drink a fair amount of water throughout the day, but I think I still may be running around slightly dehydrated, and that I might be attempting to quench the thirst with snacks, rather than with hydration.  Hmmm, some food for thought.  Scratch that… some water for thought.

Once the kids were home and settled, I began planning for dinner.  Four hours after lunch and I really am ready for a snack.  I was good and put 20 plantain chips in a bowl and ate them with intention.  I was excited to try a couple new recipes for dinner.  I’ve had some wild-caught halibut in my freezer that my dear outdoorsy brother caught, filleted, and sent to me from Alaska.  Tonight was the night we were dredging those filets in almond meal, unsweetened coconut flakes, and simple spices to surround them with a beautiful, savory, crisp crust.  Or, as my daughter put it—making fish nuggets. 

I used this recipe from Everyday Paleo as a guide for crusting the fish and to guide my baking time.  I added garlic powder and onion powder to the “breading” mixture, which was a good call, I must say. 

http://everydaypaleo.com/our-newest-team-member-cod-with-coconut-slaw-pico-de-gallo/

Having pico de gallo over the fish sounded terrific, but I just bought a prepared container with a clean ingredient list instead of making my own pico from scratch.  The coconut slaw sounded good, but required homemade mayonnaise in the recipe.  The extra work plus the raw egg business of making my own mayo was a turnoff, but I was still hung up on having some kind of slaw with the fish.

I had seen this recipe from Makobi Scribe in which the side dish was a sriracha slaw. 

http://makobiscribe.com/paleo-diet-asian-meatballs-and-sriracha-slaw-getorganized/

Sriracha has a special place in my husband’s heart, so I had him in mind when pairing this recipe with the fish.  While actual bottled sriracha does contain sugar, we found that it’s cousin, sambal oelek, does not.  It is just ground chili paste.  So, we put the chili paste in a blender with honey in a 3 to 1 ratio for make-shift sriracha.  The rest of the recipe is very simple.  It came out pretty good, although next time, we might try adding some pineapple tidbits or pineapple juice to mellow out the punch of the onion. 

I was impressed with the fish, and wow, was the salsa ever good.  Too bad it activated a craving for chips! 

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We pushed that craving aside with a family dessert project.  I never quite forgot about mentioning cinnamon rolls yesterday, so I broke out the ingredients for a Paleo-friendly cinnamon coffee cake.  It was one of 4 recipes I had stashed away on Pinterest in which I had all of the ingredients ready in my pantry. 

http://simplylivinghealthy.org/2012/05/14/grain-free-cinnamon-coffee-cake-with-maple-drizzle/

I grew up in the era of the (sugar-pumped) Snack Wells (they’re fat free!)  and the misinformed dogma that one must nix the fat to maintain a healthy weight.  So, I found the ingredients list for this Paleo coffee cake almost humorous.  Essentially it is fat with some maple syrup.  For the cake, take a few cups of fat flakes (blanched almond meal) and mix it with some melted fat (coconut oil) and some more chopped fat (pecans) and whisk in some cholesterol and fat globules (eggs) with some maple syrup.  For the topping, melt some fat (coconut oil) and add some chopped fat (pecans) with some cinnamon.  For the glaze, melt some concentrated fat (coconut butter) with some condensed fat (heavy cream) and add some more maple syrup.  Cha-ching!  Mark Sisson says that fat is our friend.  https://www.marksdailyapple.com/high-fat-diet-healthy-safe/  Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Sugar makes you fat!  Well, I guess this recipe has them both, but after a pretty lean dinner, our bodies could use some fat to help us absorb the nutrients present in our meals today.

The aroma of cinnamon sweetly wafted through the house.  It was wonderful.  However, all thoughts of Cinnabon came to a screeching halt upon tasting this creation.  The cake was ok.  It was cake-like but still dense and grainy– certainly no Duncan Hines, albeit decent for having no flour in it.  The topping was cinnamony and I wanted to like it, but all I could think of was that I had just paved a dirt road (almond meal cake) with gravel (slightly burnt pecan topping.)  I cracked up when my husband reminded me that he hates nuts in his cinnamon rolls.  He was fully aware ahead of time when we ventured out on making this dish that it basically contained nothing but nuts.  Oh well.  I still ate a huge portion of the coffee cake.  My husband still finished his too.  Fat is pretty satisfying after all, and it is a great source of energy.  Maybe for once I’ll even have a good hair day all thanks to fat. 

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Day 20 ~ Fueled By Simplicity

Another quick breakfast of an apple and a fried egg with chopped green onion got me going and out the door this morning.  I was busy and away from food for almost four hours, but I kept my water nearby.  I had worked up an appetite, and I had the batch-cooked fajita meat and veggies again for lunch.  Even after having this meal for the fourth time this week, I was still excited to eat it.  It is good to be excited about what you eat, and it is good to eat food that makes you feel good.  Really, it’s a good thing.  No, I have not been hypnotized.  Yes, I still love cinnamon rolls, and I plan to eat them again.  However, in the moment, healthy food is working for me– nourishing me, fueling me to be more functional in life.  That’s all the raw honesty I have for today.

I knew all day that I would be facing 25 Rx thrusters, a mile run, and 25 more thrusters at CrossFit this afternoon.  Wanting to be ready for the grueling workout, it was easy to stay away from anything that would make me feel sluggish or heavy.  I did take a few bites out on a Banana Larabar right before heading over to CrossFit for a little boost.  That sullen feeling from earlier in the week was replaced by a slight nervousness.  Again, when I showed up I was not “pumped” per se, but today I had a little adrenaline going on, felt adequately fueled, and got it done.   And I’m really glad it’s done.

I had a recovery smoothie with my hemp protein and ate the other half of the Larabar.  The rest of the afternoon was a blur.  My daughter had a performance this evening, so quickly executing dinner was of utmost importance.  I had planned ahead when grocery shopping last weekend for tonight’s very simple meal.  It is truly ready in 15 minutes, including prep and cook time.

Sauteed Cabbage with Sausage

Slice a head of cabbage and one onion while heating two tablespoons of bacon grease in a stockpot over medium high heat (could substitute olive oil, ghee, Kerrygold butter.)  Add the cabbage and onion to the pot.  Season generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme.  Turn the heat down to medium and toss and turn the cabbage so it is coated in the grease and seasonings.  Put a lid over the pot, but leave the lid “cracked/venting.”  Slice 4 prepared sausage links such as Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage http://www.aidells.com/product/22 and toss the sausage slices in and stir into the cabbage.  Replace the “cracked” lid.  Heat 5 minutes until the sausage is hot and the cabbage is soft.  Yum, yum, yum!

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We ate super early, so just a little while ago (four hours after dinner), I stuffed myself with a bunch of pistachios (like 40!) and a handful of dried apples, but it’s all good.  I meant to do that.  Well, maybe a pistachio binge wasn’t exactly in the plan for today, but I have realized that I don’t do well if I go to bed hungry.  Call it a coping skill.

Day 19 ~ Thank You, Dear Readers

Wow!  I am thrilled to announce that the blog surpassed 500 views today.  I am so flattered to have such loyal readers!  Thank you for your support.  Your encouragement and validation has made this journey fun and motivating.  That you keep coming back to follow this saga has held me accountable.   Thank you!

I’ve got the same old story today.  Again, I’m not feeling energized or pumped.  I went into an afternoon CrossFit workout feeling somewhat sullen.  However, I had a strong workout.  We worked on establishing a heavy 5 rep max for deadlifts.  I did 40 deadlifts, working up to 5 reps at 185 pounds and then knocked out the ladder of cleans and burpees consistently.  I had what it took today, so I must have been adequately fueled.  Maybe I am just misinterpreting what I perceive to be dull, lack of energy for what is actually even-keel mellowness.  I’m finding that eating a bit more—more of the clean, whole foods that is—but being less concerned with the portion control and being more at peace with snacking is leaving me much more satisfied.

Breakfast: 

Fried egg, 2 breakfast sausage links, 1 apple

 

Snack:

Apple Cinnamon Lara Bar

 

Lunch:

1 cup Carne & Pollo Asada, 1 cup Fajita Veggies, ½ avocado

 

After WOD:

Dirt Smoothie: 3 T hemp protein, 1 cup almond milk, ½ banana

 

Snack:

Handful of plantain chips, handful of dried apples, 2 scoops of cashew butter

 

Dinner:

This was the first time trying this recipe.  I thought it was delicious.  It got kid-approved, and it was relatively easy (once I looked up a youtube video on cutting up a whole chicken!)

Cornell Chicken http://m.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Cornell-Chicken

Roasted Asparagus with Bacon

Arrange cleaned/trimmed asparagus on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder over top and toss.  Chop 2-3 slices of raw bacon.  Sprinkle bacon over asparagus.  Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

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Dessert:

Against All Grain Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake (unfrosted)

Day 18 ~ Call It Like You See Me

The WOD-crushing high carried me into the morning, but dwindled.  My two eggs and apple were a good start, but did not exactly replicate the energy of yesterday.

My son has this habit of wearing his jacket on the car ride to school because he can exit the car and go right over to play without taking the thirty seconds it takes to bundle up.  Today he eagerly bounded into the car, which was great.  We were running late, so not having to goad and nag him into the car was great timing.  However, he had overlooked putting on his jacket. I had in on the front seat with us, and we headed out.   About four minutes into the drive, my son had a complete meltdown and screamed about wanting me to turn the car around so he could put on his jacket at home.   All attempts to explain, appease, reason, and even ignore him (and his flailing feet on the back of my chair) failed until we actually got to school and got his jacket on before the car doors were opened, and, like the flick of a switch, the ordeal was over.

I was slightly rattled, but made it to work sporting a smart outfit, a new hairdo, and a confident smile.  It was a demanding day, but I was quick on my feet and moved through it, powered by the salad I had brought along featuring the batch-cooked fajita meat and veggies and a pack of Wholly Guacamole.   I just had one more hour of being “on” when someone at work made a point of asking me if I was ok, and she proceeded to inform me that I looked tired.  Perhaps she was right, though it was not the image I was going for (or thought I was presenting!)  There went any remnants of WOD-crushing confidence.  On my way out, I was told to go get some rest, which sort of offended me.  Sheesh!  Did I look that bad?  But, on the third step out to my car, melting into my bed was all I was thinking about.  I, of course, didn’t make it to bed at 4:30 like I had been daydreaming about.  I did, however, make it to the pantry for a handful of plantain chips and to the fridge for a couple spoonfuls of cashew butter out of the jar (I vaguely remember a vow I made to eat snacks off of a plate), and then I got to work on preparing a pork stir fry.

I cubed a pound of pork loin and got out the wok, some broccoli, coconut aminos, some arrowroot, ground ginger, and garlic.  I tossed the pork loin in a tablespoon of arrowroot and a teaspoon of ground ginger and began frying it in a tablespoon of coconut oil when I took a phone call.  My sweet husband (or perhaps starved husband) stepped in.  He added the broccoli, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and a quarter cup of coconut aminos shaken with a tablespoon of arrowroot.  He put the lid on the wok so the broccoli could get tender and the sauce could thicken.  I should say he also sprinkled on some Chinese five spice which I could have done without—too licorice-y and cinnamon for such a savory, garlicky dish, but I won’t complain about having dinner prepared for me!  Maybe he will forget to read the blog for today.  Maybe if we have a strawberry cupcake, we will forget that I mentioned I didn’t care for the Chinese five spice.  And I’m back to head games with food.  I’m going to call it a day.  There was no WOD for me today, no time.  Apparently I need my rest anyways, and I have a bed that is calling me to melt into it.

 

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Day 17 ~ WOD-Crushing Menu

Today was a very busy day including a morning presentation, a huge checklist of items completed for work, a CrossFit WOD, numerous phone calls with our mechanic, the kids’ swim lessons, and an 80 minute trip to retrieve the car.  I did not actually cook anything today other than frying eggs, so I don’t have much to blog about.  Setting modesty aside momentarily, I did kind of crush today’s workout.  Perhaps I did something right with the foods I ate today.  I’m still reflecting on what exactly may have contributed to a successful CrossFit day– whether it was purely today’s food, coming in off of two rest days, or the extra food I ate over the weekend.  Whatever it was, it worked.  I got a new 3 rep max back squat PR (140#) and executed a strong performance in the MetCon, which was 6 rounds of 2 minute AMRAPs of 10 box jumps, 10 air squats, 10 kettlebell swings.   Out of about 100 people who did the WOD today, I ended up completing the 3rd highest amount of rounds (12 rounds plus 9 reps, using DII-20”/35#KB).  10 people completed 12 rounds or more.  I’ll have to try this combo of food again.  I do love quad-dominant workouts.

I awoke from a night of about 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep.

Breakfast: 2 eggs fried over a chopped green onion and 2 pieces of Canadian bacon; 1 gala apple.

Lunch: About a half cup each of Hubby’s batch-cooked carne asada and pollo asada, about 1 cup of fajita veggies, and a half a small avocado.

Pre-Workout: 15 minutes before arriving at CrossFit, I had an unfrosted strawberry shortcake cupcake (mostly blanched almonds and honey)

http://www.againstallgrain.com/2012/08/27/strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes/

Post-Workout: 15 minutes after the workout, I had a “dirt” smoothie (3T hemp protein, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 a banana, 5 frozen strawberries.)

Snack: A cup of plantain chips

Dinner: After picking up the car a few minutes before 6:00pm with a 35 minute drive ahead of us, we stopped at Chipotle for dinner.  Although it closely resembled lunch, dinner was a steak salad bowl with fajita veggies, salsa, and guac.