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Cold weather, warm food

Okay February is the shortest month, maybe it’s the constant snow…but it seems like spring is so very far away. It’s not (there will be t-shirts and shorts, and birds singing about how great you look after this Paleo Challenge wraps up). Borrowing upon the literary classic Goodnight Moon, all I am craving are bowls of mush. Warm and comforting, these recipes hit the spot.

A warm bowl of breakfast, top it off with berries:

Spaghetti squash or sweet potato noodles (easy to find at Asian supermarkets) are a great base to adapt Italian comfort food:

A bowl of tikka masala is one of my all time favorite comfort foods:

And, in case you need to dig out your car again, reward yourself with this hot cocoa recipe:

Or a steamy cup of chai (this recipe is also a wonderfully sneaky way to get some extra protein–you could use this for breakfast ):


Breakfast, that really important meal you don’t eat

Oh breakfast, you know you’re supposed to eat it.  You know it sets the tone for for your mood and energy levels for the whole day.  Today is the day you wake up, stretch, put on your bunny slippers, skip into the kitchen and make yourself a fancy breakfast–something with multiple ingredients in the title.  Maple-cinnamon-walnut pancakes with…Oh crap! It’s already 7:30, what do you mean it’s already 7:30?! There’s already traffic.  I have that presentation at noon. Where is my last clean work shirt?  The cat threw up in my shoe.  A banana, that should hold me over until noon.  You know what?  Tomorrow…Tomorrow is the day I wake up early and make myself a fancy breakfast.

Just like any other meal, or any other healthy way of eating, preparation and a little forethought go a long way towards helping you achieve your best breakfast.

And, while I have an unlimited appetite for eggs, I hear ya peoples.  Here are some not scrambled eggs, make ahead and have it ready in the fridge, absolutely delicious breakfast recipes.  I’d add a little extra protein to all of them by grabbing a little breakfast sausage. (And look at you, you already made it and it’s sitting in the fridge too. You’re so good at this Paleo thing.)

Banana Bread from the Civilized Caveman

A delicious “cereal” recipe to enjoy with some unsweetened almond milk

In the words of Donkey, from Shrek, “Everybody love parfait!”

Blueberry muffins from Elana’s Pantry

This recipe had the words chocolate and pudding in the title, ‘nuf said.

and a breakfast sausage solution to add a little protein to these on the go meals.  The recipe calls for ground pork, but I sub in ground turkey and it’s just as yummy.

The Winter 2014 Paleo Challenge

It’s a new year. Oh, and its also the middle of winter. You know, that time where all the overeating from the holidays combines with a general state of hibernation and lethargy. And the pastiness…oh, the pastiness. But, rejoice! Spring is just around the corner. A time of happiness and sunshine, a time for running outside (remember that?). A time for shorts…you’re ready for shorts right?  No?

Well, lucky for you CrossFIt Giant is kicking off its WInter 2014 Paleo Challenge on January 22.  This is a great chance for all of us to learn more about quality nutrition and taking good care of ourselves.  Together, we will spend 40 days getting healthier, which usually makes everyone feel happier.  Exercising and eating well together, which means by the time this challenge ends on March 2nd, we will all be feeling a little better about throwing on our spring finery.  I can’t do anything about the winter pastiness…I guess a little tanner to show your shorts-wearing self?

What is the Paleo Challenge?

-You will eat a healthy and nourishing diet for 40 days, focusing on the quality of your food.

-Avoid dairy, wheat, grains, soy, legumes, peanuts, sugar, and artificial and junk foods

-Eat lean meats, lots and lots of vegetables, fruit in moderation, nuts and seeds.  Drink plenty of water.

-Exercise at least 3 times per week.

-Keep track of your nutrition in a notebook (We provide it for everyone who has bought into the challenge)

-Participate in the baseline (A workout, weigh-in, and measurements) at the beginning of the challenge.  At the end of the challenge, we will repeat the baseline to measure your improvements.

Falling for Fall Paleo



 Last week I wrote about eating rainbows, this week—eating by seasons.  Man, I love a theme.  Eating seasonally is about so many things: sustainability, supporting our local farmers, enjoying pumpkin flavored everything from September through November.  But I will let you in on the main reason I eat seasonally—I’m cheap frugal. 

  Eating seasonally offers the best bang for your buck.  Local organic food–which is the best way to eat anyway–will be way more affordable than exotic highly perishable tropical produce, flown in from hundreds of miles away.

  And autumn and winter produce is cheaper to produce, cultivate, and store.  Think of that onion or potato you’ve had in the pantry for a month, versus that summer cucumber or tomato that went mushy, the day after you bought it.  Fall/winter veggies are hearty.  They are cultivated to withstand the elements and our crisper drawers. 

So what’s in season right now?  A veritable thanksgiving bounty, that’s what.

  Fruits: Apples, Pears  Local-ish (in season elsewhere in the US) Grapes, Lemons, Limes, Kumquats, Mandarins, Oranges, Persimmons, Plums, Raspberries, Tangerines, Strawberries, Dates, Pomegranates

  Vegetables: Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Bok choy, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Collards, Fennel, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Okra, Onions, Parsnips, Radicchio, Radishes, Rutabagas, Spinach, Sunchokes, Sweet potatoes, Turnips and Squash! Glorious winter squash, in all of its gazillion varieties Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Spaghetti, Dumpling.  The squash-ibilities are endless.  

  And did you know nuts had a season? I didn’t.  But apparently it’s nut season!  Almonds, chestnuts, pistachios.  You name it—it’s ready to be cracked open with an old-timey holiday nutcracker and consumed by a crackling fire.

  Here are a few recipes for seasonal vegetables.  Serve them up alongside your protein of choice and enjoy! (Or start bookmarking them for your Thanksgiving menu.)

A beautiful, non-traditional take on borscht from the amazing Sarah Britton, omit the lentils if you are doing strict Paleo.

A delicious Brussels sprouts recipe from nomnompaleo.  Seriously, even if you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you should try them shredded.  Its like a totally different vegetable.

A sweet potato breakfast idea from the funny PaleOMG blog (and this one, like all the others here can be made a day or two in advance.  Just make the eggs when you’re ready to heat and eat.)

And an obligatory pumpkin-flavored recipe.  Honestly, if you don’t include one in a blog post this time of year, the Pumpkin Spice Committee will drive by your house and glare at you judgmentally.

Eat the Rainbow

Let’s eat a rainbow. Sounds awesome? And it is. Provided that’s an all-natural rainbow of vegetables and fruits, of course. (What, did you think we were actually going to be eating real rainbows? Maybe you’ve been in that handstand too long. Carefully lower yourself down and let’s talk.)
Say you only ate one vegetable every day, for the rest of your life. And that vegetable was…I dunno…steamed carrots. Well, good for you, you are eating one serving of vegetable a day. And carrots are good source of carotene, so again, good on you. But what about a well-balanced and nourishing diet…that’s what we’re working on here, right? (Yes! says everyone, with enthusiasm)
Eating the rainbow is a simple premise. And simple is so much more sustainable in the long term. This 30 day challenge is about creating habits that work a week, a month, a year and a decade from now. Eat mostly meat and vegetables. Simple. Eat vegetables and fruits in all the colors and varieties available to you, reap the rewards. Simple.
The more variety you can eat, the wider the range of nutrients your body receives. The more nutrients you receive, the healthier you can be. Here’s a little list of benefits by color. And this is just a taste. (pun intended) There’s way more goodness out in the vegetable world. Challenge yourself to eat at least 3 different colors a day.


Good Sources: red grapes, and yes red wine too (in moderation)
Science-y Benefits: Polyphenol neutralizes free radicals and can reduce inflammation.

Good Source: chile peppers
Science-y Benefits: Capsaicin is a pain reliever. It staves off hunger and even accelerates calories burning.

Good Sources: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, red bell peppers, guava
Science-y Benefits: This anti-oxidant has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, and certain forms of cancer, as well as sun damage. Lycopene-rich foods have been shown to lessen symptoms of asthma and shortness of breath in people when they exercise.


Good Source: turmeric
Science-y Benefits: An excellent anti-inflammatory. The antioxidant properties of curcumin may help counter the body’s negative responses to high-fat foods.

Good Sources: Papaya, tangerines
Science-y Benefits: This carotenoid plays an important role in vision and in bone and cell growth.

Good Sources: sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe
Science-y Benefits: Alpha-carotene becomes vitamin A in the body, which bolsters immunity.

Hesperidin and Naringenin:
Good Sources: Citrus
Science-y Benefits: These heavy-hitting flavonoids stave off inflammation and blood vessel damage caused by poor diets. Not that you have one of those.


Good Source: pineapple
Science-y Benefits: This enzyme can prevent or ease indigestion.

Good Sources: citrus
Science-y Benefits: These may lower cholesterol and protect against breast, skin, and stomach cancers.


Lutein and Zeaxanthin:
Good Sources: leafy greens
Science-y Benefits: This duo keeps eyes strong, protecting the retina and reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Good Sources: watercress, leeks, arugula, parsley
Science-y Benefits: Present in virtually every green plant food, this may decrease the risk of liver cancer.

Apigenin and Luteolin:
Good Sources: celery, parsley
Science-y Benefits: This dynamic duo has neuro-protective properties and may fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Good Sources: Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli
Science-y Benefits: these help purge the body of potential toxins and carcinogens. Another reason to love cruciferous veggies.


Good Sources: purple cauliflower, purple cabbage
Science-y Benefits: One more found in cruciferous veggies, indoles might slow the metabolism of carcinogens.

Good Sources: red cabbage, eggplant, grapes, berries
Science-y Benefits: Antioxidants that improve brain function and balance. They may also reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Better know a vegetable

One of the great things a nutrition challenge does is, well, challenge you.  Challenge you to find new recipes.  Challenge you to find new ingredients.  And this Paleo Challenge is a great time to explore the amazing variety of foods out there.  And sometimes there are foods out there we’ve never even heard of, let alone tried to eat.  Hold my hand, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in, shall we?  Right into the sea, where sea vegetables live (Obviously).  Did I lose you? Come back!

Sea vegetables are a superfood, low in calories and fat.  More significantly, they are some of the richest sources of minerals in the vegetable kingdom!  And sea vegetables provide iodine, a nutrient vital to maintaining health.  There are many delicious ways to eat seaweed.  A great way to sprinkle it into your everyday diet is to, ahem, sprinkle it into your everyday diet.  Dulse flakes are readily available at supermarkets, and so is a great seasoning called gomasio (seaweed, salt, and sesame seeds).  I sprinkle these into morning scrambled eggs, burgers, mushrooms, and onto sweet potatoes too.

Here’s a good article about eating sea veggies: 

And some yummy recipes.  Be bold!  Challenge yourself to try something new and good for you:

This is a good intro recipe from Mark Sisson, plus this tapenade is just as good on grilled mushrooms as it is on steak

Sarah Britton is an amazing cook, this is one seaweed recipe from her blog, scroll to the bottom of her recipe for links to 2 more

And one of my favorite seaweed salads