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 Whole Damn Thing – Guidelines

Today is the day my friends. We’re kicking off The Whole Damn Thing; 30 days of real-food focused clean eating, sweat and overall mindfulness, and we’re doing it as a community.

For any first timers still trying to figure out what level of commitment might work best for you, I wanted to share a few archived posts that we’ve used in the past to provide a little more insight into the differences between Whole30, Paleo, 28toLife, and the new(er) kid on the block, Keto, which I won’t cover as much in this program, but is still an option for you if you so choose.

Here’s a post from a previous year of The Whole Damn Thing that details out the guidelines and differences between our three main programs: Whole30, 28toLife and Paleo.

The real baseline here is removing any packaged foods in your home and daily life, creating fuels and meal simply out of fruits, vegetables, nuts, healthy oils, and lean meats. Preparation is key, and finding easy meals that work for you and can yield leftovers to carry you through the next several days will be essential. No sugar, no alcohol, no gluten, no dairy, those are the common keys.

This also means steering away from any prepared condiments like salad dressing, ketchup, mustard…. everything. If it has a label, it’s likely got chemicals, added sugars, and other ingredients that you want to eliminate. Simple or home-made olive or avocado oil based vinaigrettes and dressings with different spices and flavors will help add some additional variety to salads throughout the month.

If you’re following along on the blog, we’ll be posting some baseline posts throughout the week; Full January Program Members will get all the communications, shopping lists, meal prep tips, recipes and other daily resources (including at-home workout resources and tips for the hard days). If you want to sign up for the full program, local to Charlottesville or Virtually anywhere else, you can sign up HERE!

Alright ya’ll, let’s do this! Happy Day 1.

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.

 

 

 

Catching up on last week: fuel + barre

It’s been a while since I had a spare minute, so updates have been a little sparse, but believe me, good food has not.

Last week kicked off with a trip to the ER when Dar had kidney stones that presented like they might be appendicitis, or what she described as ‘an alien living inside’ of her (good thing that proved to be a misdiagnosis). The week ended (and the new one began) with the most intensive 5 day certification I’ve ever been to with our unbelievable team for the barre portion of our new studio concept in Charlottesville (b:core methods).  We were all trained by Exhale/Core Fusion co-founder Fred DeVito (who basically established Barre in the US with the Lotte Berk Method before creating Core Fusion — you’re welcome America), and it could not have been more exceptional.

fuel sweat grow: b:core core fusion training by exhale

I will be sharing a far more extensive history of the method, updates from the weekend and my recap of the experience in the next week or so, but in short, it was better than I could have hoped for from an truly educational, and functionally sound perspective.  Our teachers were all amazing right from the beginning, not only getting right into teaching like rock stars (seriously, all of them. rock stars) but also in how they embraced and dug into the kinesiology and anatomy sections, which was the most important part to Dar and I. Everyone got two manuals, one for the method and class structure (etc.) and a second THICK manual detailing out the ‘why’ behind each nuance, movement, and modification that has been developed and improved in line with physical therapists, professors, and doctors of varying specialties.  Twenty years of expertise, evolution, and technique all wrapped up into 5 long days of intensives.

It’s now four days later and I’m still applying new tidbits not only to how I think about barre on the whole, but also how I think about coaching and performing at MADabolic — and it’s already made a huge difference.

When I haven’t been at this training, at MAD, or you know, working at my day job, we’ve been (of course) working on another pretty exciting collaboration (or three) with some folks locally, and I can’t wait to announce all of them in the next month or so.  Lots of amazing things are about to unleash themselves in Charlottesville, and a few other choice locations.  I guess when it rains it pours, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Through all of the scurrying, training, and building, one thing has remained constant: good food.  We’ve been lucky to have the time and ability to stay in Cville rather than having to travel for training, and through that have had some amazing meals both at home and with friends.

Here are a few clean and awesome meals that helped to keep things in a ‘go’ status:

Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Wraps w/ fresh guacamole, that I believe may have been an offspring of this recipe from Paleo Kitchen, and happened to also be paired with the most amazing mexican cauliflower rice thanks to two of our awesome MAD members.

fuel sweat grow: paleo dinner club

This soup was a hybrid product, existing somewhere between the Whole Food’s Turkey Chili made paleo that Todd and Kiks made a few weeks ago, a general vegetable soup, and a basic dump in of everything left in the fridge.

Here’s what we had: sautéd onion with ground turkey, zucchini and yellow squash, kale, chicken stock, and mushrooms added to the boil.  The only spices added were garlic salt (from the grinder) and black pepper — and that’s all that it needed.

fuel sweat grow: chili soup

Monday night, at the end of our final training day, I decompressed with one of my favorite staple meals; flank steak, calciferous kale and green onion slaw (dressed in lime juice, olive oil + sea salt) with a side of avocado.

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner

This is definitely one of my favorite meal combo’s and have had it in several different iterations over the last few weeks, including last night again when we had two of our MADmen over for dinner + development.

fuel sweat grow: steak / salad

This weekend I’m looking forward to laying low, and I actually head to Charlotte on Sunday night for most of next week, but as we all know, a week in my office in charlotte = a full weekend day prepping meals and making sure I’m fully stocked for a week of work life imbalance.

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