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.

 

 

Potluck: Complete.

The Whole Damn Potluck happened this afternoon at MADabolic Cville, and it was magnificent.

fuel sweat grow: WholeDamnPotluck paleo potluck

For my main dish I brought my favorite spaghetti squash bolognese, made with 2lbs of ground beef (no zucchini, yellow squash or carrots this time) white mushrooms, and a jar of Keswick Gourmet marinara – all to top some fresh spaghetti squash.

fuel sweat grow: meat and mushroom bolognese

Since I was already in a prepping place, I threw together some fresh guacamole with 3 large avocados (diced purple onion is optional, and I omitted this time), chili powder, ground sea salt, and lemon juice, all mashed up.

So, that’s what I brought, and it was fine.  But it pales in comparison to the amazing spread of Whole30, 28toLife, and Paleo foods that the 70+ dinner guests brought to make this first kick off even more amazing than we imagined.

fuel sweat grow: TheWholeDamnThing Paleo Potluck

fuel sweat grow: thewholedamnthing paleo potluck

So, first of all, all of the food was amazing.  Truly amazing, delicious, and incredibly diverse, which was so exciting.  When starting something that feels or presents as ‘restrictive,’ it can be so easy to feel like that means no options, but the potluck proved just the opposite – which was exactly what we were hoping for.  The best part is that we could do this once a week for the next 4 (or 12?) weeks and likely not repeat meals because that’s how much option and diversity really does exist within the parameters.  It’s about getting clean food, and good fueling nutrients into your body, eliminating the garbage — that still leaves a lot of room for flavor, creative food combinations, and yummy yummy goodness.

So what’s the real point? Thank you.  A big huge thank you to all who came out and didn’t just ‘participate’ in the potluck, but actually embraced it with seriously creative thought, intention, and commitment to make it the awesome community event that it was.  That’s the point.  It’s so much easier to approach a challenge with a little extra strength in numbers, and you blew us completely away.  You’re awesome + it’s so on.

We’ve got all the recipes and will be putting them together in a little ‘first potluck’ recipe book, so stay tuned for that tomorrow or Tuesday.  In the meantime, congratulations, you’re really doing The Whole Damn Thing.

fuel sweat grow: the whole damn thing

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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Clean, Home Cooked December Life + the ‘Dar Salad’

This is what life has been looking like recently, and it’s working for me so far.
fuel sweat grow: goals and paleo

I’ve been cooking a lot more recently than I had for a while.  Travel, moves, construction, and chaos had all contributed to a major shift out of the kitchen, and what felt like a prolonged restaurant lifestyle.  While meal prep and eating clean is significantly more challenging when I’m working in Charlotte, I have to say, if you want to eat clean (out) in Charlottesville, it’s not that challenging.  It’s counter intuitive that such a small city would have such a huge selection of locally sourced / farm to table options, but we’re terribly lucky with the restaurant scene in Charlottesville and all that it offers.

For the last two+ years Citizen Burger Bar has been the local go-to for the MAD crew, and Dar and my absolute survival during all 28toLife and Whole 30 challenges (not to mention just life in general).

fuel sweat grow: Citizens Burger Bar

While I love the concept in general, and the staff are all pretty awesome, the real big hook in the beginning (and what keeps us coming back) has been their amazing flexibility in creating custom orders for both burgers and salads. Oh, and their locally sourced foods, because that’s pretty sweet.  At some point Dar created her own standard, clean/paleo salad that she literally never waivers from (unless she’s making the essentially same thing but just as a burger).  The order goes as follows: House Salad; hold the bacon, croutons and cheese; light onion; add avocado, blueberries, chicken or local beef; oil and vinegar on the side.  Every. Damn. Time.  While my order began as similar, I’ve varied over time, adding different things, switching salad bases, and occasionally throwing in sweet potato fries into the delicious mix.

Tonight, upon entering the restaurant (fondly referred to as CBB), we were immediately greeted with the news that the new staff for the soon-to-open Clarendon, VA location was fully trained today in Charlottesville on how to enter the ‘Dar Salad’ into the system.  Oh, and did I mention, it’s being added to the menu? We’re working on a co-branded name, obviously, and I’m not certain on the exact delivery date for the item on the official menus, but if you’re up for a paleo friendly, MAD women approved meal, just tell them that’s what you want – ‘the Dar Salad.’ It will likely also be an announcement in MAD for the rest of time, because it’s Dar’s little playhouse, and when in Rome….you know.

As for what’s happening in the home kitchen? A bunch, so here are just a few snap shots of some of the late fall salads, and comfort dinners that have finally made their way back into my life.

fuel sweat grow: late fall salad

fuel sweat grow: fall salad

fuel sweat grow: thai chicken stir fry

I haven’t had time to fully go through my new Paleo Parents book, Real Life Paleo, but it’s on my joy list for the weekend.  I’m so excited to spend some quality time planning some fun new meals for December, and totally geeking out over new ingredient combinations.

This is the first month in a year and a half that I’m probably not going to be traveling, and I already know that January, February and March are going to be insane, so I’m committed to appreciating these sweet moments of home bliss.  Winter, this is your chance to get on my good side; it’s a really fortunate thing that you come equipped with blankets and warm beverages because those are two of my biggest weak spots.

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…

 

A Week of ‘All Over the Place,’ Paired with Great Friends

This past week included a little bit of everything.  From a 60-degree Sunday (in Charlotte) to a Wednesday snow storm, and a full-on MAD weekend in Charlottesville.  I’ve been all over the place.

In Charlotte, when my life is a little more spread out, and time spent in transit is about 10 times that of even the busiest days in Charlottesville, my meal preparation (and sanity) really suffers.  The last two weeks were exponentially more challenging thanks to my mid-month move and the slow but steady approach I took to getting settled in.  In my past lives I’ve been the stay-up-all-night to finish organizing person, but these last couple years I have changed gears.  Adding extra anxiety to the loads I carry is not something I’m interested in.

I know this transition is temporary, and pretty soon I will be all settled, but it still wore on me enough to  make even my 4.5 hour drive to Charlottesville feel like sweet relief.

fuel sweat grow: I love Charlottesville

On Wednesday morning before I left Charlotte I crammed in a quick pre-road interval (my favorite, ‘Crowd Pleaser’) at MADabolic CLT.  It was everything I needed (and a little more) after having taken Tuesday off due to impending doom snow.  I made it to Charlottesville just in time to watch the packed 5:30pm class  (filled with some of my favorite people) rock out the same interval.

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

By Thursday morning I was up and rolling with work (my ‘real’ job) but thanks to the amazing mobility of Charlottesville, was able to get in a great long run and make a pre-birthday dinner to celebrate Dar with her wing woman, Margaret.

fuel sweat grow: salad I love, love, love green salads with berries, nuts, and avocado, so it made a valiant return to the menu.  Toss it in some balsamic and olive oil (maybe add some salt?) and I could eat it all week long.  So, obviously, we had this salad, paired with some of my other favorite grilled items: cauliflower and chicken.

fuel sweat grow: cauliflower

fuel sweat grow: chicken

And of course, no birthday is a birthday these days without a celebratory cupcake. Or four.

fuel sweat grow: cupcakes

Not to say that the cupcakes marked the beginning of the end for my clean eating this weekend….but, they were the beginning of the end.

Friday was entirely consumed by two things: work, and Dar’s birthday party.  Even Bug and Tank got dressed up in their Friday best — but those heart stopping photos deserve a post of their own, free from food and fitness.

This weekend I hit up MADabolic Cville both mornings, which left me feeling detoxed and actually quite sore.  Saturday was a welcomed afternoon of nothing, including but not (quite) limited to a trip to Whole Foods to refresh the fridge.  Sunday, post-sweat, I took some time to get myself set for the week before heading across the way to watch the Super Bowl.  As anti-climactic as the game was, it was awesome to wrap up a Sunday with such an awesome group of neighbors and friends.

So in the end, despite the chaos of travel and weather, I managed to find my bearings by the end of the week thanks to just a few short days with great friends.