Lookin Like a Snack

When you’re eating real food (i.e. food without labels), the point isn’t to ever be hungry or feel like you’re being deprived, it’s to fuel your body with good, real food and maintain a consistent insulin level to increase energy and avoid crashing.

When you’re in a groove with your grocery shopping and menu planning, it’s not hard to get through key meal times with enough clean fuel to fill you up. During the first week or two while your body is detoxing from any sugars, carbs or dairy that it may be used to, it’s typically the snack times when the cravings will be the strongest; it’s also the time that we’re most likely to break from our plan and make an impulsive food choice. Pro-tip: if you or anyone you are doing the plan with happens to trend hangry over hungry, it’s essential to plan ahead for those between meal snacks.

There are a few key items that I like to largely keep on hand for when the energy low strikes:

Fruit / Veggies / Natural Carbs:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Raspberries
  • Carrot sticks / baby carrots
  • Coconut Flakes – Unsweetened
  • Cucumber Slices

Nuts / Nut Butter / Fats + Proteins:

  • Almonds
  • Almond Butter
  • Avocado
  • Cashews
  • Cashew Butter
  • Walnuts

One of the keys of a real food program has to do with managing insulin spikes (highs and lows) to establish more consistent energy levels. Outside of the real foods and ingredients you choose, it’s also about how food is being paired; fat, protein, natural carbs.

If I’m having an Apple, I’m going to pair it with almond butter to get the good fats and proteins paired with the carb / natural sugar aspect of the Apple. Just recently when i hit 7:30pm and was feeling like i had a little hankering, I mixed Blueberries with raspberries, banana and almonds; drizzled over top was a little ‘cocoa-nut drizzle,’ which is essentially coconut milk, cocoa powder, a drop or two of vanilla extract (non alcohol / non sugar) shaken up with ice to add some froth and frost to it. If you’re over any serious sugar cravings, but want something ‘sweet’ in your post detox world, this will taste SO good; the sweetness of the berries will more apparent to you than ever before, and for the :90 you spend inhaling it, you will be in bliss. So learn from mistakes; slow down, enjoy it, and maybe follow it up with a little sleepy time tea as a prelude to a satisfied slumber.

Carrots also happen to be surprisingly good with Cashew or Almond Butter, and an avocado paired with cucumber and a little olive oil / apple cider vinegar, that can really hit the spot amid the pre-lunch or dinner hunger pangs.

The actual pro-tip here is to always be prepared; pre-pack these snacks in the fridge or pantry so they’re easy to grab in a pinch, or take with you on the go.

So, how do you do that without spending your whole weekly food budget just on nuts and nut butter? Typically Trader Joe’s will be your most economical one-stop shop for all of these items, but you an also find a number of them in larger quantities at Costco and other bulk stores if you’re feeding more than just yourself, or splitting your order with someone else. You just need to be mindful of the perishable foods, and maybe opt for the frozen option (with no sugar on the ingredients list).

  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Blueberries (Fresh or Frozen)
  • Raspberries (Fresh or Frozen)
  • Blackberries (Fresh or Frozen)
  • Carrots
  • Celery

Go forth and crush the week ya’ll; be prepared, be full, be free in that real food freedom way that our girl 28toLife always teaches.

The Breakfast Base

There is one key to my personal sanity through the work week, and that’s making sure that I’ve got some food packed to take with me for when I get the morning hunger.

I’ve never been a huge breakfast person when I first wake up. I prefer a slow start to my day with coffee, and will eventually get around to eating when all the engines have been started. That being said, once the engines start, they need fuel, and they need it fast.

My weekly wakeup is usually between 5-6am; depending on what I’ve got going on with my workouts, dog mom duties and work schedule, I don’t have a lot of excess time to be worrying about prep and cooking in the moment. I can usually muster the 10 minutes it takes to fry a couple of eggs in coconut oil, but that’s about it.

To help myself get through the early uphill of the week, I’ve gotten into the habit of making a large base on the weekend’s that I can just grab and top with eggs in the morning rush.

There are so many veggie combinations that work well with eggs, but my go to, most clutch combo these days is a mix of onions, sweet or bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower rice, and my new thing is adding sliced cherry tomatoes for a little sweetness. It’s a pretty spot on representation of the ‘eat all the colors of the rainbow’ goal, and is amazing for soaking up a runny yolk, (you know, if you like that kind of thing).

As we get deeper into the month I’ll feature some fo the ‘warmer weather’ and more ‘cruciferous’ vegetables. I’ll frequently trow together for a more savory and at times very deep green blend that will change your life when you’re needing a little comfort and warmth from your breakfast bowl, but will also clear out your entire office pantry and turn most of your friends against you if you heat it up in any sort of public and enclosed space.

When I bring my big green mix to work I usually make a short disclaimer speech prior to peeling the lid off so everyone can mentally and emotionally prepare themselves for how about I’m about to create a hostile breathing environment. If you’re thinking, ‘I bet she likes brussels sprouts,’ you’re damn right I do, and I love broccoli and kale and all the smelly veggies, and I’m sorry that I will make every office microwave smell like farts through the cold winter months.

If you’re digging breakfast bowls, check out our highlights on instagram for some updates coming in hot of some of our favorite’s, and we’ll be sure to keep them flowing through the month to shake things up a little.

How my Cream of Mushroom Soup Went Paleo to Complete my Thanksgiving and Save my Life

This Thanksgiving has lasted for what feels like forever, yet despite it being December, it’s still not over for my crew.  Apparently 2015 is for epic ‘Thanksgiving Never Say Die’ efforts [read: excuses] to keep the wine flowing until it’s appropriately close to the next Holiday, for eight crazy nights, to then ultimately transfer the blame onto an old fat man and his elves.  Whatever, long live all the holidays, I say.

The truly amazing thing about my Friends/Family-giving crew this year is that over the last two years it has, for the most part, not only evolved into a paleo/cleaneating lifestyle, but actually owns it like bosses…..and at this point, they probably do it better than us.

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After teaching barre at b:core bright and early on Thanksgiving morning, there was nothing more I wanted to do than exactly what happened next; park sprints with the dogs in the 70 degree weather and a full blown dinner with some of my favorite people.

There’s something to say about how food brings people together, and having a group that likes to eat the same way, testing new clean recipes with love and lots of flavor…well that’s pretty much the best possible holiday combination.

Now, I did an absolute garbage job of documenting the first (and probably most important phase) of my Turkey Day kitchen therapy, but thankfully the foundation of it all persisted through two more amazing meals this week.  And it all started with just seeing those green beans.

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I’m pretty obsessed with green bean casserole (alarmingly obsessed), so I didn’t want to forego my one true holiday love, just in the name of Paleo Thanksgiving.  So, like any innovative and desperate meal experimenter, I took to the internet to make my dreams come true.  And I found it, a paleo recipe for cream of mushroom soup that is surprisingly easy to make, and even more surprisingly delicious.

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So, as you’ll see above in my less than delicately organized plate, we had mashed yucca (or YUMMA!) at 12 o’clock; my butter lettuce with cherry tomatoes, almond slivers and truffle salt/olive oil dressing at 2pm; brussels sprouts and root vegetables at what looks like 5:30 and then my coveted, ever loving paleo green bean casserole with oven broiled onion topping (victory!) at 7pm, before filling the rest of the space up with Turkey and carnitas.  Yes, paleo carnitas.  Life was amazing, and when washed down with good wine and great conversation, there was nothing else I could have wanted in life.  Bonus: we were all wrapped up, home, and asleep by 8:30 – magical.

So, what’s the rest of the story?  Well, it all comes back to the cream of mushroom soup that I made with my very own hands and killer hand blender.  It didn’t just end with the green beans; a couple of days later it found it’s second home in a chicken, brussels sprouts, peppers, and brown rice bake that rocked my midweek world.

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The finished product was awesome, and was the perfect pairing for a romaine, tomato, avocado, almond sliver, radish, and tesse mae dressed salad.

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And just when I thought that perhaps the (mushroom) gravy train had possibly ended, I was lucky enough to get whatever horrible winter cold is circulating at the moment and found myself miserable, hungry, and desperate for a little cold weather therapy — so I made some.

Sauted onion, brussels sprouts and zucchini in a pot, followed by the remaining chicken/rice/veggie leftovers, all the rest of the cream of mushroom soup, a full liter of chicken stock, all came together to bring SO much happiness into an otherwise dreary evening of sick.

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Now, off to sleep because there are way too many amazing things happening this week (and that need to happen) to let this cold crush me.  So, in closing, paleo cream of mushroom soup is a real thing, it’s amazing, and it has already begun saving lives this holiday season.

 

 

 

The Inexact Science of Business, Life + Pumpkin Muffins

When I bake, I typically use a recipe (or two) as a framework, but the actual mixing of the ingredients is usually more of an inexact science.  For the last few years, trying to eat and cook clean has led to a fair amount of substitution and modification – mostly through trial and error – to figure out what combinations do or don’t work.

It’s a lot like life and business (the business of life?); systems and framework are critical to the foundation, but the rest is somewhat of an inexact science – an art if you’re lucky – that either blends into something amazing, or something that warms your garbage.

I’ve been thinking about it all lately as I try to navigate the ebbs and flows of the different businesses, my day job, and all things life.  So, today, I decided to dive into the metaphorical, and fulfill a few of my core desires in the moment: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and kitchen therapy.

Without naming names, there’s a coffee shop in town (cough:: Mudhouse) that in the fall makes amazing pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  I became addicted years ago when Mudhouse was the only real local coffee game in town, and I would buy them in pairs like a little muffin hoarder out of fear that they’d run out the next morning before I got there.  Over the last few years the debut date of the pumpkin muffin has been more and more delayed –probably for the best, since eating sugar-laden muffins two-by-two is not consistent with any of my life goals.  Regardless, I still think about them every fall as the weather turns crisp and just like the stroke of midnight, everything turns into a pumpkin.

So today I pulled up this recipe from paleOMG and decided to fall in love with a muffin that I can have a reasonably stable relationship with.

fuel swat grow: paleOMG pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Of course I had to make some modifications; in part due to ingredient preferences and availability, and in part due to my inability to painstakingly measure anything out exactly — that’s the art part for me; the outlet and liberation from following all the rules.

Modification #1: Date Paste subbed in to replace Maple Syrup.

fuel sweat grow: raw date paste

My main objective when cooking/eating clean is to eliminate most processed sugar, and leverage the flavor and sweetness of the natural sugars.  There are a number of different replacements out there, but dates are usually my go-to and were at top of mind this week after our friend Lisa geeked out over date paste to make what looked like some pretty amazing waffles this weekend.  Here’s a pretty basic and easy walk through from the chalkboard to get your sweet on without delay.

fuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplementfuel sweat grow: date paste sugar supplement

Once I had the paste set and ready to go, it was out with the maple syrup and back to the muffins.

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I ‘followed’ most of the rest of the instructions, pretty loosely, substituting in ‘pumpkin spice’ to replace the majority of the spices (except for cinnamon), eye balling most of the measurements, and multiplying the recipe by 2 (or maybe 2.5…who knows).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Yeah, I went a little rogue, but we all survived, and 10 minutes later it was all in the oven ready to prove whether or not my ‘art’ of mixing works, or not.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

While I waited for the moment of truth, I checked back in with the recipe and blog to get a good vision of what they ‘should’ look like, you know, if my muffin babies were ever going to be brunch models.

fuel sweat grow: paleOMG paleo pumpkin muffinsSince I pretty much just used the recipe as a suggested guide for basic structure and context, I wasn’t counting on my muffins being anywhere near as photogenic as the ones in the recipe, but I don’t think they’re half bad (if I do say so myself).

fuel sweat grow: paleo pumpkin muffins paleOMG Maybe I’m just having a proud parent moment, but outside of looking appealing enough, they also happen to taste AMAZING. I’m sure they’re not perfect, but I’m just saying, if they’re wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

[Disclaimer: if you’ve never had anything made with coconut flour before, the texture will likely seem odd at first, but once the taste sinks in, and you’ve had your first one, you’ll never turn back.  Just don’t freak out because it’s all in your head.]

They also apparently smelled pretty good, because this little diva begged incessantly before giving up to watch the rest of Harry Potter, in a full on pout, alone with her chipmunk.

fuel sweat grow: bug says pout

So, in short, I think what these pumpkin muffins are representing today is the reality life requires flexibility and modification.  There’s no one way to do anything, but if the basic systems aren’t there and the foundation is weak, it doesn’t really matter how you modify the rest.  It’s metaphorical, sure, but I really think there’s something to it.  The trick is having the patience to stay focused and committed to that core structure so that the modifications can just strengthen the goal.  I guess bells and whistles are nothing without wind.

And if that’s wrong, well, I gave it a reasonable shot, and whether the outcome is perfect or not, hopefully the modified version will still be tasty in it’s own right.

The ‘On the Go’ Chronicles: Food + Love Edition

Life, lately, has been on the go — to say the least. Work and travel are the two main constants, and my long-time skills of throwing together quick meals for ‘on the go’ (or more accurately ‘on the clock’) have been more useful than ever.  The days of hurriedly eating over the sink have been pushed aside by the days of eating at the computer and at a stop-and-go pace that supports conference calls, emails, and all the other distractions that dominate the day.

fuel sweat grow: food on the go

I have a ton going on at all of my jobs right now so that seems to be a dominant theme in my life, and something that I’m both trying to balance and desperately organize so I can breathe a little easier.  I think what I’m working towards is more of an impossible mirage than it really is an achievable goal, but that’s pretty fine by me.  Landing somewhere in the middle is still somewhere closer to fine, and that’s still progress.

On days when things are beyond crazy, it’s not that abnormal for my eating schedule to be off, so I’ll either need a little snack to make up for an off-schedule, or to help me power through the mid-afternoon yuck that is 3pm.  Recently this little tomato / chicken / avocado salad has been my go-to with a little balsamic glaze and a crank or two on the sea salt.

fuel sweat grow: on the go snack avocado salad

Since I’m typically a proponent of over-grilling (in quantity) meat to force the possibility of leftovers, this is particularly appealing to me.  The balsamic glaze part is a little newer to me – not in concept, but mostly in obsession.  I went Trader Joe’s to pick up a few things for Memorial Day and they happened to be grilling avocado and watermelon out front, and sampling them both with the glaze.  I’m nothing if not a sucker for a tasty sample, and moments later I had all three items planted in my cart, all before I even stepped foot in the store.

Which takes me to my next obsession of the moment, and an incredibly simple throw together salad if you have the ingredients in ‘prepped and ready’ mode in the fridge.

fuel sweat grow: watermelon arugula salad

I’ve always LOVED watermelon, so this watermelon + arugula salad is seriously the best thing of my life.  Slightly modified for a stricter 28toLife/Paleo approach, it’s just a bed of arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, topped with watermelon chunks, blueberries and chopped mint (not pictured).  It’s freaking good, and if you want to add in a little extra with some cheese or other snacks on top, have at it.  I’m pretty sure it is beautiful no matter how it is dressed up.

This past week has spanned all three of my cities; Charlottesville, Charlotte, and Charleston – and in that order.  I barely had any time in Cville to settle in or even really unpack before I was heading right back to Charlotte — but this time, work was thankfully balanced out by celebrating some love, and a fairly normal weekend (for a change).

Friday night brought a sweet relief from the work week, and an even sweeter night at the Vanlandinham Estate celebrating two awesome people – Kelli + Graham.

fuel sweat grow: Kelli + Graham Wedding

I’m not really sure how to explain Kelli outside of just saying that she’s incredibly smart, loyal, honest and supportive friend that anyone could ask for. While it was once difficult to believe that anyone would be able to fully match up to all of her awesome, it’s clear that she’s found that match, that best partner, and (most importantly) absolute happiness with Graham, and that’s more than enough for me.

After weeks (months…years) of crazy, it was such a welcomed break to enjoy and be present at such a beautiful wedding, on what might have been the most beautiful night of the spring so far.

fuel sweat grow: Vanlandingham estate wedding

This week has reverted right back to the desk eating and hurried meal creation, but after taking a little break from it all and a little trip into someone else’s bliss, somehow it doesn’t seem so bad.

I’ve got more food, b:core, MADabolic, and general life updates coming at you in the next week(ish) so stay tuned, and of course, let me know if you’re around Charleston this weekend and want to get in on celebrating the 1st Birthday of MADcharleston — it’s on.

All Things Local: Fuel, Fitness + March Mindfulness

I LOVE weekends.  Since I don’t have as much flexibility during the weekdays with my regularly scheduled job, the weekends become my everything days, and I love it.  Our businesses are those of passion and people, so when I can look at my planner and see full days of exactly those two things, I’m pretty pumped.

This past week was so draining that Friday night was a mandatory night in –with Bold Rock Cider and Keswick Gourmet bringing some local Cville love into the mix. Dinner also included zoodles, skirt steak, spring salad, and some of my favorite [paleo] avocado deviled eggs.

fuel sweat grow: at home local dinner

There were definitely years in my life where friday nights out were a constant — but I’ve long since run out of steam for anything too involved (or past 9pm) — so something really comforting to me about being home, having a few friends over, and keeping things low key.  It also helps Saturday morning at MAD hurt a little less.

The Saturday 7:30am class at MAD brought a complete and total sweat-down at the first of a fully packed momentum day. Since my standard Milli Joe coffee run came later than usual at at 8:30am, almond milk lattes that gave us the fuel we needed.

fuel sweat grow: love and coffee

The rest of Saturday afternoon consisted of house chores, some business organization, mani/pedis, and a long awaited night out of the house with dinner at The Local.

Sunday was for community — and it hurt so good.  After a full night of rest, and a slow-ish morning that included adjusting to ‘springing forward,’ we went all #marchmindfulness and took up an invitation from Hannah, owner of the the most recently opened barre studio in Cville, barre[d.] for the 10:30am cardio barre class.

fuel sweat grow: barre[d.]

It was great to see so many faces, new and old, rolling in excited for the change-up.  After an hour of sweat and fatiguing with our new friends, we high tailed it over to MAD for a few meetings, Mia’s athletic recovery and release class and practice with our b:core team.

So, is that weird that we went to barre[d.] because we’re opening b:core soon? Not really — at least not to us, or anyone in the industry that understands the differences across the marketplace, or supports the fundamentals of community.  In the last 3 years I’ve taken nearly every barre class offered in most major markets, in studios big and small.  Knowing what all is out there, and understanding the nuances are for the foundations of each technique are just small pieces what feeds my development — and that hasn’t been specific to any one fitness niche, as will soon be very apparent.  This is actually not really that niche of a marketplace with over 20 dominant methods, and a multitude of others, all with different takes on the structure that Lotte Berk set out, and foundations in yoga and pilates.

The more I push forward my own learning and expertise in functional movement patterns, and the more certifications and trainings I get under my belt across all fitness modalities, the more exciting it is to see new methods popping up that respect similar fundamentals or introduce something completely different.  Of course each technique has their own spin, and none are the same, which is why we were SO excited to try out Hannah’s class and what she’s bringing to our community.  We loved experiencing such a different twist on barre, blended with her own approach on ballet cardio TABATA — so thanks for a great class, we’ll all be back to spread a little more local love soon!

Needless to say after cardio barre, yoga/myofascial release, and then more barre practice with the b:core team, my body was ready for some actual rest and recovery.  So what’s on this week’s agenda? We’re continuing our downtown district tour of our favorite women owned local studios in honor of International Women’s Day by hitting up TRU pilates, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, Opal Yoga, Integrity Pilates, and of course MAD.  We’re also kicking off the 5 day plan for lifestyle clean up – and really just a slight wine reduction, so it’s a big week for health and perfectly paired with some much needed spring weather.