Fueling Up: Greens, Eggs + Sweet Potato Noodles

I’m not sure what’s in the air, or if it’s just the sheer fact that it’s cardio week at MADabolic, but I feel hungry all the time.  ALL the time.  I’m usually slow to start in the morning, not grabbing any real food until I’ve had ample time to get coffee, settle in, and assess the schedule for the day.  This week, I have one objective, and it’s to get food into my body.

While vacation is great in concept, any travel where there’s no kitchen is always challenging for me, so the last few months have been hit or miss for me.  My first destination when I got back into Charlottesville was to hit up the grocery store, and I did just that — hard.

Whole Foods here (and maybe everywhere?) has this awesome kale slaw in the juice / chopped veggie section that also has shredded cabbage, carrots, broccoli (sometimes) and green onion that I seriously can’t get enough of.  I’ve historically used it to make salad and sides for dinner, but it just so happened that I was craving it one morning, so I went hot with it.

Sautéed in some coconut oil ad seasoned with a little sea salt, my little green friends made a turn for the even more delicious, and perfectly accompanied my eggs.

fuel sweat grow: green eggs and bam

I’m calling this ‘green eggs and BAM’ because it was totally a power breakfast that I needed to get myself going. It’s going to quickly become clear that I was loving on kale this week, but I’m still not sick of it, so no apologies here.

The thing that really started my love affair with kale was it’s amazing relationship with all things citrus, and the fact that you can absolutely douse it in lemon/lime/orange juice based dressing and it didn’t become slimy or sad.  In fact, while it does soften (thankfully), it seriously takes on the flavor and tartness of the dressing, and that always makes everything more delicious.

This salad wasn’t anything particularly special; just kale, blueberries, cucumber, and some leftover grilled chicken to give it a little boost — but to be honest, it didn’t need anything else [the dressing was fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt sprinkled].  It stood just fine on it’s own, and was a great partner for my new favorite thing: sweet potato noodles.

fuel sweat grow: summer kale salad fuel sweat grow: kale salad and sweet potato noodles

I’ve long been loving on zoodles and spaghetti squash, but I never really took the time to dive hard into the sweet potato arena. I think this ignorance was in part because the first time I did 28 to Life I convinced myself that sweet potatoes were on the naughty list (I was later corrected….but not until much much later).  Recently I’ve been seeing more and more meals pop up on blogs, and also on MODpaleo’s menu that are centered around them, so I figured it was worth a shot.  And worth it, it most certainly was.

I sent those sweet P’s through the spiralizer and then sent them straight into a pan with some ghee (yeah, it’s butter folks, and it was delicious).  In case you can’t tell, just writing about this meal is making me hungry all over again, so I definitely recommend it.   I also recommend the (RED) meals on the MODpaleo menu, because they’re amazing too [and friends that use the code MadnessCville get 10% off their first order, so get after that…stat].

I did get after it again with the spiralizer again, with an awesome new thai cucumber noodle salad that I made last night, but that one is going to have to wait because it was too good to rush through.

fuel sweat grow: cucumber thai noodle salad

Now that I’m back to cooking and feeling a little more food-stable, I’m pretty excited to start playing around with some old favorite recipes and clean them up – at least as much as is reasonable.

I’ve got a goal to make one new recipe each week, minimum, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be rolling through a whole new cycle of favorites.  But who knows, if I stay hungry like this I’ll probably hit that full 52 new recipe marker a lot sooner than I projected.  If you’ve got any favorites of your own, shoot them over — I’m most definitely taking suggestions.

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Recapping the Week of All the Food

It’s Wednesday.  I’m not sure how, or when exactly, that happened, but it did, and here we are.

Last week was a blur, a jam-packed blur of events and to-do’s that bled straight into this one and just kept marching.  But the blur doesn’t always have to be bad — those weeks are typically also packed with a whole lot of good to balance it all out and keep you coming back for more.  Plus, they’re usually when the foundation is built for whatever is coming next.  And on that note, just stay tuned, I’ve got some updates, announcements, and really fun opportunities that grew right out of it — and that definitely makes it all worth it.

This week, so far, has been for seriously getting things done, and I needed that.  I needed to start to feel progress, to check some big items off my list, and to find a little extra comfort in my routine.  We’ve had a lot going on over here lately – some pretty par for the course, and some a little more serious, so productivity has become something of a medicine.

This weekend was made up of MADabolic, vineyards, friends, amazing local restaurants, more MAD, some barre with the b:core girls, more friends, and of course, FOOD — and lots of it.

Saturday, and one of the best weather dates to date this spring, was largely spent at Pippin with some of our favorite MAD peeps.  Emerging from what was a heavy season of reds, I revisited some white vines, loving on a glass of their Viognier and paired it with the shaved brussel salad with an egg topper.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill shaved brussel salad

After a few hours in the sun (and a few hours post-delicious food), we returned to the city limits and saddled up to my favorite new restaurant in cville: Oakhart Social.

fuel sweat grow: Oakhart Social

There was a while there in the winter when I was a weekly, or bi-weekly, patron of Oakhart, and a definite addict of their shaved salad and brussel sprouts.  Honestly, my mouth waters just thinking about them.  Since the weather was turning a bit, and we had enough wine in our bellies to want to live on the edge, this visit included (more wine, clearly) the shaved salad and the sausage pizza, which I highly recommend as a weekend treat for anyone living the 80/20 or balancing out the 5 day plan.

fuel sweat grow: Oakhart Social

Sunday brought on a dose of MADness that was almost cruel given how sore my quads were from Saturday morning, but somehow I (we all) made it through.  The afternoon brought on some serious shaking with the b:core girls (even with my half-marking of all the thighs) and a seriously amazing dinner with the Guptas in all of their paleo grilling glory.

fuel sweat grow: paleo kabobs

Monday night our friends from MODpaleo came out to MAD in Charlottesville and set up shop with some samples of their amazing, amazing, meals.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

It just so happened that my weekly delivery arrived on Monday afternoon as well, so I took a few pics so you could see how amazing it is when it actually delivers.

fuel sweat grow: ModPaleo delivery

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo meal delivery

Delivery is overnight, and always lands on my doorstep with the food still slightly colder than my fridge, and packed ever so smartly.  And when I’ve been really good, I’ll sometimes get a sweet t-shirt.

Even just having the smell of the food fill up MAD on monday night the packed evening rounds was exciting, but really getting to see folks try some of the different meals and taste combos was awesome.  They’ve got meaty and non-meaty (vegetarian meals) and treats that change weekly, so you’re never bored or stuck with the same taste combos.  In fact, I think I probably repeat more meals in my kitchen than I ever do when I order, so that’s pretty awesome.

If you made it out and loved it, remember, use the code ‘MadnessCville’ for 10% off your first order, and if you didn’t make it out, well still order some and try it out — it’s worth it, i promise.

So, that was the food update.  The life + biz-venture updates are on their way, just as soon as I get myself a little better organized, and my brain a little quieter.

MAD + lifestyle = The Best Summer of Your Life

We keep talking about this ‘lifestyle’ thing.  We talk about what it means to us, what our lifestyles made up of, essentially, and how to connect all the pieces when it comes to what drives us forward. We spent last week in Charleston getting a few key things in order, doing some spring cleaning, and more than anything, getting all our ducks in a row to make sure that the lifestyle piece has the best opportunity to find it’s roots in the community as we close out year 1.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston Mount Pleasant

We happened to be there through Cardio Week – the most passionately loves and hated week of all, depending on how your lung capacity is.  Across all MAD locations, clients and friends commiserated with and encouraged each other through the sanding test of the previous three months, and it was awesome. Charleston, you impressed and pushed us through an amazing week, so THANK YOU.  And thanks to Donna and Tim for unintentionally defining the not-so-promoted lifestyle realities of Cardio week (relaxing low country afternoon, meet our friend, Advil).IMG_2464

With cardio week behind us, this week we’re getting back to the base (durability month), to strengthen us, and to propel us forward into our full cycles of the pace (momentum month) and then return to the race (anaerobic month). That’s where we build our strength, we sweat out stress, and push our bodies to function just a little better.  But that’s not the whole lifestyle – that’s a habit of passion, and the fitness side of things, and while it’s important it’s incomplete.

When we have new clients join our community, that’s kind of the hook — the sweating, the intensity, and the results.  The fitness piece is the starter that’s sparked by the diverse science that drives forward not only how we do our programming, but how we view fitness and health on the whole.  It’s about how you’re training your self: how you’re challenging your body and mind to push forward, to build strength, to increase endurance, and to know how to do so smartly, safely, and with balance.  The securing factor is community.  The connection, the interaction, and the full support of all members, that’s that keeps us growing — growing strong, not dilute.

The piece that completes us, and typically the final piece in the lifestyle for most of our clients, is food.  Food + Nutrition is the game changer.  It’s not something we pretend to be experts in, or something that is integral or forced from a membership perspective, but it’s truly the only way to overcome plateaus, increase energy, and complete the full cycle of the lifestyle.  It’s the maximizer of the group, and from what we’ve seen over the last few years, the thing that makes all the damn difference in the world.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

You can probably tell where I’m headed by this point…..because as we’re all headed straight into the sunny season (the bathing suit, beach all day, hanging by the pool and wanting to be active 24/7 season) we’re going to head towards local food, clean meals, and more conversation about completing this lifestyle.  Charleston, brace yourselves, The Whole Damn Thing is coming right at you….and soon.

This coming Monday we have MODpaleo heading over to MADabolic Cville for a little Meat & Greet / Taste Testing for their amazing pre-packaged meals that I’m so obsessed with.

fuel sweat grow: Meat and Greet MODpaleo

They’re truly the tastiest, cleanest, and most convenient meal options out there (at least in my life) and happily show up and deliver to all the places that I need in my life (that’s you Cville, Charlotte AND Charleston).

And Charleston (#MADcharleston if we’re being real), don’t worry, we did NOT forget you.  You’re about to get all up in the lifestyle with us  – even more – and we’re pretty pumped.  If you’re a planner, write this down: MODpaleo will be at MADabolic Mt. Pleasant on Monday May 4th from 6:15-8:15pm for a food sampling AND a little paleo fundamentals 101 talk at 7:30. You can count on more information coming your way soon, promise.

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo

So, it’s all happening.  This is definitely the cliffs notes version, but I can tell you with all certainty, it’s all happening, and it’s going to be amazing.  Make sure you’re tuned in over the next week because ALL THE THINGS will be coming at you, and we could not be more pumped.

The Whole Damn Thing II: The 5 Day Plan

Today was a long day, that’s for certain, but the little sunlight that managed to peek between the snowstorms made it all worth it. I can’t begin to express how desperate I am for a little boost of vitamin D, but since that looks like it’s not totally here to stay, I’m going to boost the best way I know how: the fuel + sweat 5 day plan.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

In January we launched The Whole Damn Thing with our Charlottesville MADabolic community and had upwards of 90 awesome friends participate.  We’re not particular about what your preferred path is, but generally speaking our group did either Paleo, Whole 30, or 28toLife, and said buh-bye to processed foods, refined sugars, and in most cases also alcohol for a full month.  It’s definitely a commitment, but with so much support it passed much faster than I think we all thought.

Now, a month after completion, I’m ready for a different commitment – in the form of a 5-day plan – to keep the lifestyle strong, and my energy boosted, but without such strict restrictions and the ability to let loose on the weekends just enough to explore all of our local offerings.

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Like some of the clean eating plans out there that base themselves on points or rewards, this allows some ‘cheat-ish’ days where strict eating isn’t the focus.  The focus here is on keeping the foundation strong the majority of the time, to maintain a strong and healthy balance.  Personally, prepping on Sunday and going straight through until thursday night with clean home cooking is my preferred mode, allowing Friday and Saturday for going out and living a little harder.  Outside of the natural social flows that support this schedule, I tend to be more active on the weekends when time isn’t quite as difficult to come by.

So, want to know when we’re kicking this off?  Sunday if you live in my house, but Sunday March 22nd, 4pm, at MADabolic if you want to get in on The Whole Damn Potluck, round II.  

The last potluck was amazing and there are only a few rules:

1. Bring a copy of your recipe

2. list what plan it is compliant to (paleo, whole 30, 28tolife…vegan…whatever)

3. bring serving utensils for your dish, please!

4. join the Facebook group and get in on the conversation/meal posting (okay, so it’s not really mandatory, and it’s a private group so your other friends won’t know you’re ‘one of those people.’)

The Rules: Paleo, Potluck + The Whole Damn Thing

It’s prep time my friends.  With The Whole Damn Thing ‘officially’ kicking off on Sunday at MADabolic Cville, it’s time to talk about the rules.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

1. Whole 30 allows meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

Key points:
* Protein every meal
* 3 meals per day, pre-workout, post-workout
* Limit fruit to 1 or 2 serving if fat loss is a goal
* two cups of different veggies every meal
* Limit nuts to 1-2 oz if fat loss is a goal
* Beverages are coffee, tea, mineral water. Unsweetened.

[more information available on the website]

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2. 28toLife allows meat, fish, vegetables, low sugar fruits, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugar, and alcohol.

fuel sweat grow: 28tolife real food freedom

Key points: 

* Food pairing: protein, natural carbohydrate (i.e. vegetables), and healthy fats
* Limit high sugar fruits, opt for lower sugar dark berries
* Sweet potatoes ARE allowed, but in moderation, and preferably within an hour after working out / intense intervals….
* No corn!
* Beverages are coffee, tea, mineral water. Unsweetened.

[books with full details available for sale at MADabolic Cville]

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3. Paleoallows for grass-fed/finished meats, fish/seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts & seeds, and healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut); it excludes cereal grains, legumes (including peanuts), dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, refined vegetable oils.

Key points: 

* The goal is to create a diet high in the beneficial nutrients (soluble fiber, antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3 and monounsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbohydrates) that promote good health.
* The key is in eliminating foods containing nutrients (refined sugars, grains, transaturated fats, salt, high-glycemic carbohydrates, and processed foods) that are key factors in weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
[check out website for more information on the FAQ’s and specifics]

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Again, the common foundation of all of these methods is eliminating all processed foods, and reading all the labels on the basic items (coconut milk, almond butter, marinara, etc) that are allowed but are frequently packed with added sugars and chemicals if you don’t check the ingredients on the label. The basic allowances are lean meats (preferably grass-fed / grass-finished / local), fish/seafood, vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and healthy oils.

For the Whole Damn Potluck on Sunday, here’s what you need to remember:

– Bring an entree, salad, snack, or treat of your choice, fitting within the nutritional guidelines of at least one of the preferred plans above (please leave a comment on the Facebook Event with what you are bringing so we can keep track in one spot)

– With your entree, include a sign/index card with the following information: Name of Dish, ingredients, which plan it falls under (or ALL), recipe + cooking instructions, and source of recipe (if applicable)

– Since there will likely be leftover food, feel free to bring an extra container or two to take or share leftovers home for an even more solid start to the week.

Most of all, enjoy.  Even if it’s far from your norm, try to enjoy the routine, the organization, and the preparation.  Appreciate the struggles and what they’re telling you about what your body is detoxing from.  Love all the good fuel, and clean nutrition that you’re putting into your body, and (after you’ve passed through the sugar-quitting phase) notice the difference each day in your energy levels, focus, and performance — in whatever it is that you are passionate about.  That’s the whole point — to nourish your body and self up to the same quality/standards that you expect it to return to you day in and day out.  If you fuel yourself with garbage, that’s about what you can expect it to give back to you.

Next up is a list of some of my favorite blogs, recipes and resources for creative (or just plain delicious) meal ideas to shake things up a bit, and also shed some light on how diverse the options really are for creating your favorite flavors without sacrificing quality of food.  There are so many truly amazing resources out there, and work-arounds for all your favorite meals/flavors, so don’t panic yet.fuel sweat grow: 28tolife real food freedom

[source]

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The Whole Damn Thing: The Yes/NO List + Helpful Tips

We’re just about 5 days out from kicking off the Whole Damn Thing, so it’s time to talk details: yes/no foods, the ‘why’ behind each method, and a few of the starter how-to guides.  So here we go!

This week this really great article came out as a summarized guide to how to eat Paleo, Whole 30, or even less restrictive with a focus on ditching processed foods.  So here’s the quick and dirty guide on what you can and CANNOT have if you’re eating Paleo.

fuel sweat grow: how to eat Paleo

(source)

Now, if you’re hopping on the 28toLife train, and coming into 2015 guns blazing, you’re also going to ditch the Honey and Maple Syrup.  No sugar is no sugar, with the exception of fructose in some fruits, which should still be viewed in moderation.  You’ll notice when my full grocery and meal lists come out that my preferred shopping list is really heavy on some items, and really light on some others….that’s not by mistake.  We’re going for nutrient rich foods; lean meats (local/grassfed and grass finished), nutrient rich vegetables, antioxidant rich (lower sugar/fructose) fruits/berries, eggs….so many eggs, and some staple items to support creative meal creation.

The most important thing to remember is that you must read all ingredient labels.  Just even doing this exercise will change the way you look at food.   It’s not about calories or fat (processed foods labelled as gluten-free or fat-free typically have the highest sugar, carb, and chemical compositions and are worse for you can straight up butter or whole grain breads – unless you are celiac or truly gluten intolerant).  Look at the ingredient list, and if there are words you don’t know (or naughty words you do know like sugar or anything ending in -ate), put it down and run away.  Keswick Gourmet (pictured below) is honestly one of the only marinara/pasta sauces in a jar that you can find anywhere in town without added sugar, and happens to be made locally.  It’s at Whole Foods, thank goodness, and is one of the few things that will bridge the gap between eating clean and having convenience.

fuel sweat grow: keswick gourmet

The best things to do when shopping is shop local farmers markets, or, in a traditional grocery store shop the perimeter – produce, fruit, meat, eggs, and out!  And just for a little extra, check out this article on Superfoods that are healthier and more nutrient rich than the currently trend leading #kale.  It’s great that so many people are embracing kale’s deep leafy greens, but it’s not the King of the mountain when it comes to green Superfoods and nutrient density, so don’t feel like you need to load up on it unless you love it too.

Snacks are always the hardest, so we’ll do our best to put out some great snack options for eating at home, or taking on-the-go, but typically you’ll want to think within the boundaries of the basics and prepare some quick grab bags/containers.  Almond butter is a great dipping sauce for baby carrots, celery, apples, bananas…..the usual suspects that we’ve all known since childhood — just once again, opt for the fresh ground almond or cashew butters from Whole Foods or Trader Joes, and make sure you read the label….most nut-butters have added sugar.  If you’re looking for some approved vendors, from snacks and dressings to meat vendors, et all, check out this list that is Whole 30 approved, or as always, visit our friends from MODpaleo and enter the code ‘MadnessCville’ when you create your account to receive 10% off your first order (they make meals AND snacks).

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Pre-packaged meal delivery

As you get ready to stock up on some Staple Items, here’s a quick list of what you’ll need as serious basics, and my store preferences if you’re looking to shop around on price:

Coconut Milk: this will become a life-line of sorts, so stock up.  It’s $0.99/can at Trader Joes vs. $2.49 at Whole Foods, and when you’re buying cans 10 at a time it really adds up.

Almond Milk: this is expensive wherever you go, and most brands are on the naughty list thanks to added Sugars, so if you’re looking to save $ and do it right, buy raw (unsalted, non-roasted) almonds from Trader Joe’s and follow this guide to make your own.  It’s much easier and cheaper than you would think. [But if you’re in a jam and just need a latte, Milli Joe and GRIT Coffee both make their almond milk in-house and will steam it up right for you with a few shots of amazing espresso.  It’s worth the $4+ when you’re in a jam.]

Coconut Oil: Have at least 2 jars on hand at all times, you will use it more than you can imagine.  Trader Joe’s will be your best bet on price by $1-2/jar.

Coconut Flour: You don’t need a ton of this, it goes amazingly far.  You can find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and most other general grocery stores (Harris Teeter, Kroger), just check the back and make sure it’s pure coconut.

Cinnamon:  You’ll want to make sure you have ground cinnamon on hand for coffee, coconut milk mixes, etc.  Once you quit sugar, spices will taste so amazing that you’ll find yourself getting excited to try new combos for veggie stir-frys and meat rubs.

Vanilla Extract: another label hunter. We’re going for pure/organic (not the alcohol/chemical rich generic brands); you’ll want this for making coconut milk coffee creamer, smoothies, etc.

Grocery Lists divided into best-of stores (Whole Foods / Trader Joes and local favorites like Stock and The Organic Butcher for meat) are headed your way tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s a prep-post I put out prior to some of our clients doing the Whole30 earlier this year.  There’s a lot on the list, but I tend to find myself cooking for multiples, and the pre-making and packaging away leftovers habit has been known to save lives around here.

Until then, you know those cookies that have been eyeing you from the cabinet (or worse, the counter) every night?  Throw them out.  Let the wine linger a little longer so you don’t hate directly on 2014, and we’ll say g’bye after the ball has dropped….and remember, it’s only goodbye for now, you’ll be back at the end of the month.