Monday, March 31, 2014

"Peanut butter" Chocolate Bark

Peanut butter and chocolate is an amazing combination. You could use any nut-butter in this, but I used sun butter to keep it nut-free because of those in my life allergic to tree nuts. Enjoy a piece with your morning coffee :) I think the salt really takes it up a notch but if you are not one to like the salty/sweet combination then omit it.

"Peanut butter" Chocolate Bark

(Printable Version)

- 12 oz bag of non-dairy chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup Nut Butter (almond, sun butter, etc)
- 1-2 tsp coarse salt (optional)

1. In a sauce pan bring water to a boil. Using another bowl that fits over the sauce pan, our in the chocolate chips and melt them with the steam (double boiler).
2. Once the chocolate is smooth, pour it onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread it
until it is abou 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
3. Warm the nut butter the same way (I use the same bowl) until it is soft. With a spatula, swirl the nut butter into the chocolate. Sprinkle with salt if you are using salt.
4. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least a half hour. Break into bark and enjoy. Keep extras in the freezer.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

 I am spending my Saturday night cooking because the last workout in the CrossFit open (14.5: 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 thrusters @65 and over the bar burpees) killed my legs and there isn't anything else I am capable of doing tonight. I am also a huge homebody and my therapy for when Charlie is not with me is cooking and CrossFit.

I am in love with raspberries right now. I realize it isn't the season for them in Michigan until June, but they are delicious... and also stupid expensive I know.  I like raspberries in this recipe because the seeds in the fruit help with the texture/crunch of the chia seeds.

"Chia" is Mayan for strength and chia seeds can be used instead of flaxseeds in many recipes. They have a lot of insoluble fiber so they will help your digestive tract "move" if you drink enough water. They also have been shown to curb hunger so spread this jam on some gluten free bread and start your day!

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam

(printable version)

- 12 oz bag of frozen raspberries
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/8 cup Chia seeds
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice (depending on your raspberries)

1. Over medium heat, add the honey and raspberries to a sauce pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the berries have broken down. Press any pieces against the pan with your spoon.
2. Add the chia seeds and lemon and cook another 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the jam has thickened. 
3. Pour into a jar and store in the fridge or freezer.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Coconut-Pineapple Chia Seed Pudding

I have really become a fan of chia seeds... if you have never used them or don't know a lot about them here is a summary: 
Chia seeds come from a plant in the mint family. They can be white or black and contain calcium, manganese, and phosphorus, and is a great source of healthy omega-3 fats. they help stabilize your blood sugar, have a lot of fiber, and have been shown to improve blood pressure in some people. I will warn you that they will also make you poop. :) When soaked in liquid they "gel" and create a texture like tapioca. 
In this recipe I used black chia seeds because it is what I had... I would recommend the white for a better appearance but the taste will be the same. 

Charlie is a really big fan of this! And it is healthy so why not?!

Coconut-Pineapple Chia Seed Pudding

(Printable Version)

- 1/2 Cup Full Fat coconut milk
- 1/2 Cup Pineapple juice (no sugar added)
- 1/2 Cup Diced fresh pineapple (I've used canned but it's not as good) - 2 Tblsp. Raw Honey
- 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
- Toasted Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (optional)

1. In a jar or container with a tight lid, add all of the ingredients and shake.
2. Place in the fridge for a 1/2 hour.... shake again.... place back in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight. 
3. Place 1/2 cup in a bowl and top with the toasted coconut. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 min Paleo Strawberry Ice Cream

I don't know what my problem is right now... I'm either desperately craving sweets or in dire need of summer because I have been wanting ice cream so badly. Tonight I decided to thicken my usual protein shake and woohoo! Ice cream! It literally takes 5min including getting the ingredients out.


5 min Paleo Strawberry Ice Cream

(Printable Version)

- 1 scoop Protein powder (vanilla or banana cream)
- 10-12 Frozen strawberries (no sugar added)
- 1/3-1/2 cup Milk (coconut or almond)
- Drizzle of raw honey
- 1 tsp  Pure Vanilla extract (optional)
- sprinkle of non-dairy chocolate chips (optional)

- Put the ingredients in a high-powered blender and start slow. Add more milk if it is too thick and blend until smooth. Top with more frozen berries or the chocolate chips.

Monday, March 24, 2014

CrossFit and Me

CrossFit has literally changed my life. I have always been active and went from playing high school sports to playing lacrosse in college to running marathons. After having a very rough pregnancy I was left feeling "soft", depressed,  and more out of shape then I could ever imagine. My mom signed me up for the basic skills CrossFit intro. at a local box and I am not going to lie... I hated it. I was exhausted, it was hard, I was weak, etc. The picture below is me at 37 weeks (days before Charlie was born, 6 weeks after about to run a 5k, 8 months after in my first CrossFit Open and one year after Charlie was born at a competition.
CrossFit is the first thing I have done where I can feel and see myself getting stronger and constantly want to be better. Yes, I have good and bad days, but overall if you work hard the weights will go up and the workouts become more prescribed... but that never means you are done improving. I find myself always wishing I had done one more rep, wanting to try the workout again just because I know I can get there... I love that feeling. It's you against you. CrossFit to me has become a lifestyle. I know that people call it a cult, but what is wrong with hanging out with people that have similar interests to you? The people I have met through CrossFit are like another family. We hang out after workouts, text throughout the day, post positive comments and pictures to each other on social media. They are just as excited for me when I do something great as I am and I am equally as excited to watch them do well. Almost everyone I have encountered is so supportive and I seriously workout with some of the most amazing, strong women I have ever met. 
I recently switched boxes and have already learned a lot from my new coach and owner. This box is a lot more competitive and sends individual athletes and teams to regionals every year. It is exactly where I want to be. I am not able to participate on their team this year, if I could even make the team, because of the box switch. It is upsetting but also makes me look forward to next year even more. I just need to improve a lot, stay motivated, and hope I still have this kind of family support to get through.... which leads me to my next thought....
It is incredibly hard to be a mom. Being that I am a working, single mom I have many guilt complexes and taking precious hours out of my day to workout and not be with my child is an internal battle. Do I even want to keep trying to compete at a higher level? Should I give up and sacrifice that desire to be a mom? Am I burdening my family by counting on them as I try to do it all? The answer to my questions is no... I think my daughter will be proud of me for not settling for mediocre and not allowing myself to give up on my goals. I want to set a good example for her and throwing in the towel because life got hard is not what I want her to see.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Paleo Salted Raspberry Chocolate Bark

Sweet tooth is kicking in... I ate this for breakfast with my coffee- naughty. This can be made in minutes and taken to the box to share with all the hard working open athletes :) do it.

Salted Raspberry Chocolate Bark

(Printable Version)

- 1 10-oz bag of dairy free chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup raspberries, diced
-1- 2 tsp  coarse sea salt

1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

2. Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper...max 1/4 inch thick.
3. Sprinkle on raspberries and salt.
4. Freeze for an hour, break apart and enjoy. Keep extra in the freezer.

Smokey Steak Chili

First of all, anyone who has done the Open workout 14.4 deserves a cookie... a paleo one of course :) I don't know if I have ever felt so sick during a workout. Brutal. I am thinking the motion of the row combined with the toes to bar followed by wall balls was just bad for my vertigo. Anyway, because I am sadistic and always know I can do better I am going for it again tomorrow. I finally can do muscle ups and am determined to do one in the open.

Secondly, I have to admit that the weekends I don't have Charlie and incredibly hard. I know people go a night or two without their children and it is a nice break, but going from Friday morning to Monday after work is brutal. I have yet to drive to the box from work on a Friday and not cry. Having a night off is nice, I like sleeping in, not having to worry about anyone but myself, but a whole weekend is not fun and I honestly would forgo the extra few hours of sleep to have her back home.

As I was thinking about what I wanted to make this weekend the sadness from this weekend mentioned above made me want something comforting. Chili is a little time consuming because of the time it takes to cook, but the longer it cooks the more flavor it has and it is fairly easy to put together. The combination of ground beef and steak in this is fantastic! To save myself dishes I put the browned steak in the container I am going to store the chili in while cooking the other beef and the use of stew beef is definitely a time saver. I recommend serving this over a baked sweet potato with some avocado...yum!

Smokey Steak Chili

(Printable Version)

- 1-1.5 lbs Stew Beef (or skirt steak, chuck roast)
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tblsp Chili powder
- 1 tsp. Liquid smoke
- 1 Chipotle in Adobe, minced
- 3/4 cup Low-sodium beef broth
- 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper 
- 1 can of Tomato Paste
- 1 28-ounce Fire-roasted Crushed Tomatoes 

1. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cut the stew beef into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown the beef (~5min) and remove it from the pot. While the beef is browning cut the onion and the garlic.
2. Turn the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic and ground beef to the pot. 
3. When the beef is browned add the remaining ingredients including the stew beef. Simmer over low heat for at least 3 hours stirring occasionally. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Banana-Strawberry-Chocolate Protein Shake!

This is by far the best thing I have made in a while. I am not lying when I say it is freakin delicious. I don't have a huge sweet tooth but occasionally I crave something like ice cream and this hits the spot. If you use less milk it has a frozen yogurt consistency and you can eat it with a spoon. :)

Banana-Strawberry-Chocolate Protein Shake!

- 1 Frozen Banana (put ripe bananas in the freezer, use a knife to help peel)
- 8-10 Unsweetened whole frozen strawberries (I buy these)
- 1 scoop Chocolate protein powder
- 1/4 Cup Nut Butter (I used Sunbutter)
- 1 cup of Almond Milk... use less to make it thicker!
- 1 Tblsp Raw Honey

Use a high powered blender and blend until smooth. If you have a "weaker" blender cut the banana. 

The BEST Bread with Mediterranean Tuna Salad

I don't know about many of you, but I really miss bread. Of all the carbs in the world that I had to give up bread is in my top two. Having a sandwich, toast in the morning, etc... ugh...I miss it. If you were wondering what the other one in my top two is it is chips... to go with chips and salsa :) Anyway, I thought I would share my favorite bread recipe. It is from Danielle Walker's Against All Grain- if you don't have the cookbook you should get it. She also has a blog:
The bread I use for everything but I thought I would share it with this recipe because I was craving a sandwich! I saw no point in trying to make my own Paleo bread because Danielle's is fantastic. I make my own cashew butter to save money (recipe below).

Here is the bread recipe:
Today Charlie helped me make it :)

Cashew Butter 

(Makes about 1 cup)

- 2 cups of raw cashews
- 3 Tblsp Oil (I use coconut or avocado)

Directions: Place the ingredients in a blender and start on low. Increase the speed as the nuts break

down and stop occasionally to scrap the sides. I use a Vitamix and it takes me roughly 3-5 minutes from start to finish to get a smooth consistency. 

Paleo Mayo   

2/3 cup avocado oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until thick. (Side note: I put all the ingredients in a mason jar and use an immersion blender... same result in literally less than a minute and then if you have extra you already have a container to store it :) this recipe will not use it all unless you want it super creamy- it will use most... But mayo will keep about a week in the fridge! 

Mediterranean Tuna Salad
- 2 6 oz. cans of Tuna, drained (I use chunk white in water)
- 3-4 Tblsp Mayonaise (Recipe Above)
- 2 tsp. Dijion Mustard
- 1 Shallot Finely Chopped
- 1/2 can (12oz) Artichoke Hearts, chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
(Optional... 1/4 cup of diced kalamata olives)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One-pan dinner- Brussel sprouts with Sausage and Spicy Ranch

I HATE recipes that require multiple pans and bowls, etc.... Who on earth has time to find all of that in the cupboards and then wash it all?? I don't know about you but every time I open a cupboard Charlie is in it in two seconds emptying it out- cupboard opening in excess just makes making dinner stressful in my baby locked world. Here is a picture of my sous chef, she's too cute trying to copy me, I can't help it.

This can be made in one pan and to save dishes when I take the bacon and sausage out to cook the sprouts I put them in the Tupperware I'm going to put the dish in when I'm done. If you aren't paleo or just don't care hidden valley light ranch would be my recommendation and many of the stores sell at least gluten free if not paleo (read the ingredients) in their specialty foods sections.

Brussel sprouts with Sausage and Spicy Ranch

- 1 bag of fresh brussel spouts, end cut off and halved (about 1 lb)
- 5 pieces of bacon, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
- 4 Pre-cooked sausages (I used spicy chicken sausage), cut in half and 1/2 inch pieces 
- 1/4 cup ranch (recipe below)
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 Tblsp hot sauce (more or less depending on your taste)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced

Ranch Dressing

- 1 cup paleo mayonnaise (see chicken salad for recipe)
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk (or half coconut half almond milk)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced really finely 
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar (or apple cider)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 Tblsp onion powder
- 1 Tblsp dried parsley 
- 1 tsp paprika
- optional: 1 tablespoon fresh dill (I hate dill :)

1. Cook the bacon and sausage together in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat until the bacon is starting to get crispy. About 8-10 min.
2. While the sausage cooks prepare the sprouts and garlic.
3. Remove the meat from the pan and leave the bacon fat. Over medium heat Add the ranch, water, garlic and hot sauce. Stir until combined and then add the spouts.

4. Cover and cook until the spouts are tender 3-5 minutes depending on size. 

5. Add the meat back in, stir and enjoy!

Download a Printable Version of the Recipe!

Monday, March 10, 2014

CrossFit Open

The biggest deal in CrossFit has once again made its yearly appearance! It is the 3rd week of the open and everyone participating around the world is probably wondering what sadistic workout is being planned for us next. If you are not familiar with the Reebok CrossFit games they are basically the World Series of CrossFit. For 5 weeks people in regions around the world compete in workouts that are publically announced Thursday nights and must be completed by Monday at 8pm. They can be done more than once. Scores are submitted and approved by certified judges and coaches and top athletes must now be video taped to make sure they are meeting standards.
I did the open for the first time last year.... barely a few months into my CrossFit lifestyle. I think that everyone should participate because it is a good way to see where you stand and how much you have improved from year to year. This year I am doing exponentially better than last year and am already thinking about next year. Friday nights at Maven there's so much excitement you can feel it in the air-- amazing.
If you havent checked it out you should go to the Reebok CrossFit Games website and just look at the workouts and videos... so inspirational. It reminds me what I heard my new coach say to someone this weekend thinking about joining the box... "CrossFit is the most fun you will even have working out." and it is so true. Why do you think everyone talks about it so much? They LOVE it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Paleo Chicken Pad Thai

My mom has always been my valentine. She is the one love in my life that I know will never go away. This year she gave my a spiralizer. If you don't own one or know what it is you need to! It is a way to turn vegetables into noodles. I have made a cold cucumber "noodle" salad with it, zucchini noodles, sweet potato curly fries... this thing is awesome! She got mine at William Sonoma for less than $40. This recipe uses sweet potatoes to make the noodles, if you don't have the gadget you could use spaghetti squash, or a peeler to make threads of potato then cut them into smaller "noodles".

- 1-1.5 lbs Chicken breast (2-3)- cooked and chopped into cubes 
- 2 Large sweet potatoes
- 3 Green onions
- 3 eggs
- 3 Tblsp Sunbutter (or any other nut butter)
- 2 Tblsp Fish Sauce
- 2 Tblsp Coconut Aminos (or reduced salt gluten free soy sauce)
- 1 Tblsp Siracha (or red pepper flakes.... change this if you dont want it so spicy!)
- 3 tsp. White vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
- 2.5 Tblsp Sesame Oil
- 2 Tblsp Olive Oil
- 3 Tblsp Lime Juice (about 1 lime)
- 1 tsp. Fresh minced ginger
- 1 Garlic clove (minced)
- cilantro to garnish (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted cashews to garnish (optional)

1. Peel and spiralize the sweet potatoes. 

2. Whisk the Sunbutter through garlic together and pour into a large skillet over medium heat- whisk occasionally.

3. When the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has a smooth consistency add the onion and sweet potatoes. Cook until the "noodles" are tender- about 8-10 minutes.
4. Make a "well" in the stir-fry- beat the eggs and scramble them in the pan. Once they are cooked mix them with the rest of the stir-fry. Add the chicken... mix again and eat!

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 685
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30 g46 %
Saturated Fat 5 g25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 13 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 260 mg87 %
Sodium 1073 mg45 %
Potassium 752 mg21 %
Total Carbohydrate 51 g17 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g15 %
Sugars 43 g
Protein 53 g106 %
Vitamin A231 %
Vitamin C39 %
Calcium8 %
Iron26 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.