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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Local Loves: Hellos, Goodbyes + See ya Laters

This past weekend was all about local living and embracing the beginning of the new, and finally a weekend (though just barely) to check in on Charlottesville.  New chapters, jobs, businesses, and lives; there is so much change happening these days that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with it, and it’s damn near impossible to anticipate.  But, thankfully, the first adventure of ‘the new local’ came by way of Brazo’s Tacos, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

Last summer when Brazos popped up temporarily in the IX building for 60 days, they became the 60 best days of summer.  Locally sourced ingredients, clean and delicious, and so freaking convenient to MADabolic that sweat + tacos began to define the MADlifestyle.

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

This summer, especially with the impending addition of b:core right around the (other) corner, it’s so huge that Brazo’s has set up shop — for good.   Sweat it out, taco up, and shake it off….all in a days work at IX.  Plus, I mean, can you really beat the indoor/outdoor friendly vibe?  Taco ’bout a sweet new spot, right?

fuel sweat grow: brazos tacos

After that taco action and a quick (and fun) check in with our photographer for b:core to plan some awesome projects, it was off to Pippin Hill for an afternoon of goodbye and good luck to Elly, our lead trainer at MAD in Charleston who is leaving us for new love, life, and adventures in dog mommying — which trumps most other things, in my opinion.

We were a little late with the pictures so we missed a whole lot of the crew, but these jokers managed to stay to the last minute to join in on our quick snapshot of beautiful Viriginia.

fuel sweat grow: elly goodbye pippin hill

And if it wasn’t just organically beautiful enough of a day, our friend Bill who happens to be the Chef at Pippin, made sure that we were taken care of — and free of the un-paleo menu anxiety that typically plagues so many MAD lives.  Pumping up some serious veggies, with honestly the most amazing hummus I’ve ever had, was definitely not a bad place to start.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

Then this happened — along with other incredibly amazing and saliva inducing dishes that rocked our world (including the non-paleo but very-life changing homemade bananas foster that pretty much changed our lives.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill food

I don’t have a picture of the dessert because honestly, while my heart and soul will never forget the moments we shared, my mind was desperately trying to wipe it from memory so I didn’t go to a dark place of addiction and full on NEED.

So, instead, I (eventually) put down my spoon and finished off my wine to appease the now full blown sugar craving that I just made happen.

fuel sweat grow: pippin hill

Sunday brought a return trip to Charlotte that was a little too quick for my liking, but with just one day separating me from vacation I managed to push through it, and just to give myself that little extra boost, I made a stop in my happy place (Erin McDermott’s Jewelry Studio) for a little Suki love and jewelry stockpiling to round out my packing.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott

Since I pretty much only wear Erin’s jewelry these days, this trip was about rounding our my outfits specifically, and pairing up some new things with some of my favorite old pieces — and here’s what we came up with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

I seriously love love these, and also LOVE how they’re going to pair with my outfits, so I guess I’m finally ready for vacation.

While I’m going to miss the mainland — mostly the four legged creatures that are being left behind — I’m most certainly not going to miss all the other garbage that comes along with too much chaos.  I’ve got a lot going on, and a lot coming down the pike, so a little re-boot is definitely in order.

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.’)

Paleo Eats: Game Day Style

So, one of the hardest things about a real food / clean eating challenge can be the social aspect — especially if you’re not surrounded by people who share a similar lifestyle, or that support what you’re doing.  That’s usually the biggest fail point for anyone looking to make a lifestyle change — being surrounded by people and choices that counter the healthy habits they are trying to form.

The first time Dar and I completed 28toLife we were pretty much alone on our own island.  Friends would want to hang out and fear and panic would set in because we didn’t know how we could possibly make it through an outing where everyone else is eating and drinking whatever they wanted.

fuel sweat grow: all i need is food

The second time we went through the 28 days of garbage-free living was a little easier, and we had far greater understanding and appreciation for the lifestyle and how to find that place of complacency even when out of a controlled environment.  This third official time that we’ve completed the full 28 days was the best of all, not only because we had a pretty secure grasp on how to live in normal-ish society, but mostly because the community that surrounds us was a part of what we were doing, all inspired and motivated with the same healthy sense of purpose, and commitment to living a better cleaner life.  And it was awesome.

It’s February now and the ‘challenge’ is over, but the lifestyle remains, and so does the awesome community that came together over the last 28 days, and this weekend we proved it.  While Saturday brought Dar’s 49th (that’s not a typo) Birthday and a little bit of an off-the-wagon wine and beer indulgence (not to mention the most amazing ‘asparagus’ cake from Maliha Creations).

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Sunday re-directed itself back on track thanks to sleep, recovery, and the continued culinary expertise of Anita (the love behind Maliha Creations). So, instead of having a Sunday afternoon full of food that we just spent a month detoxing from, it seemed only fitting to re-create our favorite treats, paleo style.

Homemade salsa, to ensure no sugar; stuffed peppers (amazing); spaghetti [squash] + meatball nests, and a veggie ‘chip’ plate for scooping guacamole, all helped us kick off the game.

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks I brought the guacamole deviled eggs (upper left corner above), which are easily my new favorite quick grab snacks to make.

Quick details:

Ingredients:

  • One Dozen Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 1/2 LIme (sqeezed)
  •  Garlic Powder

The quick how-to:

  • Shell the eggs
  • Cut the egg in half with a sharp knife
  • [in a small bowl]: Combine egg yolks, avocado, sea salt, chili powder, garlic powder + lime juice
  • Mash all together (with fork or avocado masher)
  • Spoon filling into egg white
  • garnish with a light sprinkling of chili powder

All in all, while the weekend brought back wine and some dessert cheats, it all came back around in the end, and things went (relatively) back on track.  I’m actually so excited to do food prep tomorrow night for the rest of the week that I almost can’t contain it — and I probably won’t.

MODpaleo: Clean, Convenient Fuel

Remember earlier this summer when our friends from MODpaleo came out to our Grand Opening Party at MAD Charleston for a little ‘MEAT & GREET’ to let our clients taste test their delicious paleo meals? Well, we’re actually their pick up location in Mt. Pleasant, which is awesome, and since July I’ve been pumping hard (from my social media perch) to make sure that their food is in ALL of my favorite places.

fuel sweat grow: modpaleo

In addition to putting a hard push on them to bring their clean eats to Charlottesville, I somehow managed to score them as a breakfast vendor in my office in Charlotte so I’ve got some amazing healthy options when I’m there.  It’s all about convenience and quality in our industry, and when the right options are there it’s not hard to make good choices and maintain positive momentum knowing that you’ve been fueling your body to sustain an active lifestyle.  Day 8 of #23to30: quality of life comes from the quality of your surroundings -know what you need and what makes you feel whole and surround yourself with it.

Two weeks ago when I was working in Charlotte you better believe that I was in the office early on Wednesday morning to get my breakfast on with MODpaleo in our super pantry, and it was killer.  [Egg baked in a sweet potato, herbed chicken patty with fresh pesto on top.]

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Breakfast

This meal sold out completely by 8am, and not only tasted amazing, it kept me full well past lunch time.  In a job and world where I rarely have a down moment or a regularly scheduled anything, having MODpaleo at the office was an absolute life saver.  So, naturally, this breakfast just re-lit my hard march to get their pre-packaged meals to Charlottesville so I can spend a few less days doing meal prep and planning and just let them do it for me.  And then low and behold, I saw this on instagram:

fuel sweat grow: MODpaleo Virginia

You better believe this made my day.  Happy, clean, fresh fuel made for convenience and overall goodness – I’m in.  For everyone who has been nagging asking frequently for made to order clean meals….well here’s your best shot.  Check out their website and the weekly menu posted and get your orders in — they even have veggie options people.

Amber + Carter, sounds like it’s time to get your Cville on and get this full-blown show rolling.  We’re ready for you in MADville.  Next goal: shipping meals to me on all my trips.  Just saying…

 

Grocery List, Breakfast Favorite + Monday Things

From the moment I opened my eyes this morning I could just feel the monday-ness looming in the air.  I had the classic weekend where I had more to get done than I could have ever reasonably accomplished, and it was actually a struggle for me to admit defeat at 10pm on sunday night to allow myself a good night sleep.

It was totally worth it.  The still-unpacked box that was abandoned in the corner is still staring at me, but I don’t care.  I’m prioritizing me this week – my sanity, my health, and my own piece of mind.

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I committed to an 80/20 style 28toLife program with Sarah and Georgi, good friends and trainers from MADabolic, and it started today.  Over the past year I’ve gotten pretty used to cooking according to Cristina’s preferred plan and can make a meal out of just about anything at this point — as long as there are groceries stocked.  That’s one of the challenges — making sure that there is good, fresh food, constantly stocked in the fridge.   Meat, fruit, vegetables, and a few other critical essentials to allow for spontaneous meal creation.   The point is not to feel hungry and deprived — it’s to change what you’re using to fuel your body and teaching it to run on good quality food.

Depending on what your preferred tastes and meals are, you might want to meal plan ahead of time and buy groceries a little more frequently than usual, or, you might want to go all-out on Sundays in preparation for the week.  Totally your call.  I do a little of both, but I would say that I do have a staple MUST-HAVE-THESE-THINGS at all times list:

Basics:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Milk (canned from Trader Joes)
  • Sesame Oil
  • Almond Butter (Fresh ground from Whole Foods if you can)
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Chili Powder

Meat:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Ground Beef
  • Flank Steak (get a big one so you can take advantage of extra)
  • Chicken Sausage ( Applegate Farms)

Fruit & Vegetables:

  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Lettuce / Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Avocado (MANY)
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli Slaw
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Lemons

Additional staples:

  • Whole and/or slivered Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds

It looks like a huge list — and it is, but for the most part you can ALWAYS find these things in my fridge, and they are the best and most versatile basics I’ve found.  There are certainly other things I like to pick up at times — beets, arugula, and spinach included, but usually only when they’re planned in a specific meal.

This morning’s breakfast was straight out of my critical ingredient handbook, and was the perfect way to start off this Monday.

Fuel Sweat Grow: Egg Scramble
Saute broccoli slaw, zucchini, and yellow squash in coconut oil
Add chicken & Eggs
Add chicken & Eggs
The finished, and delicious, product.
The finished, and delicious, product.

Lunch was a salad with chicken from a little spot next to my office, accompanied by about 10 huge cups of water that were strategically consumed to help me prepare for (hot) yoga at Y2 tonight — more on yoga tomorrow.

Dinner tonight was grilled chicken, cucumber, avocado, and sea salt seasoning all chopped and mixed together for a chunky chicken salad.  It was super quick to make since I had some chicken already cooked and awaiting it’s destiny in the fridge.

And that marks the end of this super long monday.

Goodnight.