Because, We All Deserve Some Good Clean Fun

There is no better prep for a clean eating month than the complete over indulgence of the holidays — at least for me — but the most painful part (aside from the complete and total withdrawal from my holiday wine pours) is social time out in public.

It’s not that it’s forbidden to go out, or that it’s that difficult to modify dishes to comply with whatever your preferred ‘clean’ mode of eating is — in fact we have a number of favorite restaurants locally that are amazing about modifying to be compliant, and have gone above and beyond to be safe havens for those brave enough to venture out during a ‘clean’ January.

The struggle, for me, is when I’m the only one at dinner in the early stages of cleaning up my fuel sources and I see someone fully enjoying my favorite red winter wine, or get a waft of some hot french fries passing behind me.  It’s the sensory overload of smells, emotions, and the connection between the two that initiates the game of personal restraint to not go full primal madness and launch my body across tables to secure my coveted wine simultaneously securing the french fries directly out of a small child’s hands.  And that is why I say with full conviction, that the struggle isn’t just for me, it is me, and the first two weeks are the absolute hardest. That is why we’re so pumped to hold our 1st ever Private ‘Whole Damn Thing’ Paleo/ Whole30 compliant dinner event at Timbercreek Market.

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I don’t know if you’ve experienced the dinner service at Timbercreek Market, but it’s amazing, and could not be more authentically farm to table.   They’ve put together an amazing three course meal for our community, all compliant with ‘The Whole Damn Thing,’ with a vegetarian option as well.

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Please join us for this one of a kind dinner event, and take a much needed night out to engage with the community, relax from cooking, and experience this amazing restaurant and menu.  Space is limited and spots are filling, so make sure you REGISTER on the b:core mindbody site to reserve your spot! Note: The event is listed on the schedule for Tuesday 1/17, and ticket purchases are listed under workshops/events.

 

 

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THE WHOLE DAMN THING v3.0

The first time we mentioned ‘clean eating’ at MADabolic Cville, and hosted the first ever seminar with 28toLife, we had 7 people show up…two of which were coaches.  A year later we launched the inaugural ‘Whole Damn Thing’ clean eating challenge and had 95 participants.  The community has steadily grown here in Charlottesville between our MADabolic and b:core methods clientele, and also grown strong at MAD Charleston over the last two years.

We’ve developed some amazing relationships, including with some awesome ‘clean’ partners in our efforts including our long-time friends at THE GOOD KITCHEN, formerly MODpaleo, who have just re-branded and improved their already amazing meals/meal plans.

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If you haven’t checked them out yet – do it immediately.  They provide clean (in all aspects) paleo/whole30 compliant meals that ship overnight in amazingly packaged shipments for the best on-the-go, or just simply delicious (or ‘GOOD’) meals you could imagine – and now also meal plans.

PSA: the last two years I’ve actually ordered their Thanksgiving meals for my own family holiday celebrations, and I now stock pile their paleo stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed sweet potatoes with mushroom gravy because it’s better than anything I’ve ever had before, paleo or not.

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We’ll be sharing tons of resources over the next few days to help everyone get started with the best possible foundation, but don’t forget (if you haven’t already) to join the Whole Damn Thing Facebook group for community support, sharing, questions, answers, and usually some pretty good humor – you will not regret it, and geography does not matter.

As we prepare to kick off the 2017 edition it really brought my attention back to my own…well, lack of attention.  This blog was my motivation for so long, an outlet for things so far and distant from my day-hustle, and sometimes the easiest mode of communication with these amazing communities when the days seem to slip by too quickly, or when weekend fuel + sweat inspirations get buried too far under the stress-laden rubble of, say, a Monday.

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As we march hard into 2017 (there’s no turning back now), I’m re-committing myself to the vulnerability, connectivity, and ever-loving-catharsis of sharing the resources, lessons, inspiration and strength that I try and fail with in my life. Even just for the benefits of going through the process I’m excited to get back to the structure and motivation that comes along with commitment — passionate commitment.

Here’s to a stronger, healthier, and all around amazing year of kicking ass.

 

February is for All the Things

So far 2016 has been a little bit of everything.  It’s been stressful and exciting, chaotic and simple, passionately driven and at times, completely draining. So basically, it’s just another January trying to get all the things done, working towards a better blend of work, life, businesses, and well, wine.

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The Whole Damn Thing happened, and it happened pretty well again this year, up until the great snow storm of 2016 which made clean eating a very manageable reality (thanks to the in-house imprisonment) but pretty much guaranteed that 90% of our community would be reaching for some non-water beverage to help cope with the confinement.  And also, because, well, happiness.

This year, the beauty of the Whole Damn Thing was that it wasn’t just MADabolic Cville, and it wasn’t just 28toLife or Paleo.  It was about the embraced effort to eat clean, local, healthful, and body fueling meals that would promote strength and health in anyone, whether you eat meat or you’re a vegan-veggie-tarian.  We’ve long been fans of the Dar Salad (paleo/28tolife) at Citizen Burger Bar, for obvious reasons, but this year, we had our amazing friends and favorite neighboring food source join in to create a menu that our clients could not only love, but could also EAT.  Brazo’s Tacos released a paleo menu that essentially kept me, and many other people (as a result) alive for the duration of the month, and continues to be my lifeblood as when I find myself bound to the building several days a week.  Also, online ordering — it will change you forever.  You’re welcome.

In addition to the food efforts, we experienced the inevitable, yet fully embraced post-holiday influx of clients old and new, both at MAD and b:core, inducing wait list stress, scheduling trickery, and most importantly, a whole hell of a lot of excitement and energy in each class to kick off a brand new year.  With new interval and coaching developments at MADabolic (including what feels like the most innovative and freaking challenging intervals to date) and the launch of our cardio barre and core CARDIO class schedules at b:core that have us sweating our asses off every day, it’s hard to think that there could have been more on the docket for the month, but alas, it was also time to launch the sweatIX pricing, and so we did.

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Other highlights of the month include (but are not limited to):

  1. I was able to start using my Simplified Planner, and somehow, having each hour of the day filled out + up magically became appealing ‘structure’ rather than pseudo-organized chaos (although that’s already wearing off to a degree).
  2. We had an amazingly badass and physically/emotionally inspiring photo shoot of the sweatIX team with Andrea Hubbell that was nothing short of amazing and will continue to be coveted.
  3. The Mayor of MADville (Dar) turned 50, and no one wanted to believe it.
  4. Bug turned 4, and I cried.
  5. We had a delicious (and clean) happy hour at The Juice Laundry, and in addition to my obsession with the ‘Rinse and Refresh’ and ‘Cold Brew Latte,’ I finally had the vegan chili w/cashew cream, and some new Chicory Cold Brew coffee from the local Blue Prairie brands.
  6. Most importantly, we survived.  From the snow to juggling everything, January was unbelievably stressful this year with too little bandwidth and too much to-do, so getting through it is something to be celebrated with full abandon, and a deep exhale.

I’m still pending on really dedicating time to digging into my goals, development, and really any balance for myself, but I did book my first (adult) impulsive vacation, so right now, I’m just going to appreciate the fact that I’ve made it through the start of the year, and in many aspects am already beginning to feel like I’m getting my bearings, slowly.

Here’s to an amazing new year, built upon the foundation of chaos, experience, and all the good, the bad, and the strength, that has evolved up to this point.

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.

 

 

 

Food Lately, November Style

The last two weeks have been about cleaning up from the chaos of the previous few months, organizing everything within reach, and setting up for a solid start to 2016.

I’ve been doing a little more of a local and multi-source roundup for food stuffs lately, trying to both create and save a little change in the process.  Last weekend, however, with limited time and limited need, I hit up Whole Foods, my own personal Kryptonite.

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I’m going through a pretty serious chicken phase at the moment, trying to move away from the all too frequent steak indulge – both for a little reining in of my food expenses, and also for a little change up to get out of the repetitive meal rut that I’ve been in for a while.

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Whole chickens are totally my jam, so I kicked off the week  on Sunday with a little grill action; all the chicken, asparagus, and my favorite kale slaw [shredded kale, cabbage, green onion, carrots with bonus radishes and avocado dressed in fresh squeezed lime juice, olive oil and himalayan sea salt].  Dinner = Yum.

IMG_4031Tuesday night I took a different twist on one of my absolute favorite meals.

Salad was just a simple love [torn romaine, cherry tomato and slivered almond combo (avocado added as the finale) dressed in light olive oil and truffle salt].

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The main love of the meal (for me) was simmered ground beef and onion (with coconut oil), zucchini, and mushrooms, with spiraled sweet potato noodles added in for the last 5 minutes to soften and absorb the flavor.

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When I say I loved it, I think I’m actually not fully doing the meal justice since it was absolutely everything I wanted and nothing that I didn’t.  The red wine that accompanied it also didn’t hurt.

When I make the time to refocus in the kitchen to allow for creativity and  a little personal therapy, having time away from everything else that takes my attention, it is usually the best way to infuse energy back into all aspects of my being.

This weekend, which ‘thankfully’ started two days early, is a long awaited opportunity to get all of the things organized, strategies completed, and life organized as we march hard into December and the scheduling chaos that is before us.

Tomorrow we’re doing a b:MAD misfit toys paleo potluck hosted by part of the original tribe, so get pumped for the recap of what will undoubtedly be a crazy amazing holiday to remember.

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.

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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.

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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.