Wednesday, May 28, 2014

6 ingredient Blender Muffins

On a personal level I'll make it short... When people told me the grass isn't always greener on the other side last year about this exact time when I was pondering my future I listened and then did my own thing per usual. You know what? Grass is fabulous over here.... I'm honestly so happy and feel so much more like myself or at least who I want to be.

These muffins are sugar free, dairy free, nut free and gluten free... Does that maybe make them guilty free? Hehehe. If you don't have baking powder and you use baking soda your muffins will be a dark green color... The combination of baking soda and sunbutter does that. They taste awesome still just don't be scared. Baking powder and Sunbutter will give a slight green tint but not even close to as bad. I didn't use any other nut butters so maybe it won't happen with them- be a mad scientist and find out!

6 Ingredient Blender Muffins

(Printable Version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees 

- 2 very ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking powder (or 1/2 tsp baking soda)
- 1 cup Sunbutter (or any other nut butter) 
- 1/4 cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips

1. Put all ingredients except chocolate in a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in chips by hand. 
2. Grease a muffin pan (makes 9-10 normal muffins, 20ish minis) and fill 2/3 full.
3. Bake 8-10min. Let cool in the pan and store in the fridge. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Iced Coffee

I just read an article about how CrossFit is incredibly dangerous and people flail about with bad form and you should never do that many reps, etc. I was laughing. I have never been in better shape in my life, I know my coaches would never let me continue with form that where I would hurt myself, and hitting fitness goals is definitely a confidence boost. Will everyone like it? No. Will people get hurt? Yes. But that's true with anything... I used to run marathons and so did my parents and both of them have had knee surgeries due to running. Apparently we should sit around and do nothing in fear of working too hard and testing our bodies limits because we "might" get hurt. You know what I would like to see in an article hating on CrossFit? Just say, "I tried it, I didn't like it, it wasn't for me. It wasn't the atmosphere I want to work out in or the activities I want to do." You don't have to go on to ridicule everything and use cliche CrossFit bashing terms about it being a "cult" and "kipping" not being a real movement, etc. Yes, I am aware that there are boxes that are sub-par... I have been to some...but like anything you should try a few out to give CrossFit a legit shot if that's what you want to do. Seems like a waste of time to write long articles about something you hate... there's enough hate in the world- try to be more positive. I really don't like soccer but I am not going to dedicate a whole blog post to it... I just won't play/watch soccer. Duh.

Onto the recipe! I like iced coffee a lot. In the summer since I don't run my AC a lot it is hard to want to sip on a hot beverage when you are blow-drying your hair. Problem with iced coffee is that it needs to be made in advance so it is actually cold and not just watered down from ice. Here is my recipe... it makes 4 servings and I of course make them in my mason jars and put the lids on to store until I am ready.

Iced Coffee
- 32 oz. Strong Coffee
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 18 oz Almond Milk
- 1 Tbsp Stevia (optional)

1. Brew the coffee. Add the sugar while it is still hot, stir. Add the milk and vanilla. Stir again. Pour into containers or just keep it in the fridge.... at least 2 hours!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas

There's something incredibly special about having a twin sister. Ours names don't match, we were encouraged to try things apart from either other and we weren't dressed alike... We are definitely our own versions of the same genetic information but I would say the best way to describe us is perfect compliments of each other. Before college we had never been apart more than a week in our lives. She went to Albion College and I went to Michigan State University... That lasted a grand total of one semester before she transferred to be with me. We have always said that any man who dates us is lucky to just be second because she will always be my number one. More stories about Mara in the future I'm sure!

She was my babysitter today so I could get a workout in... 4 RFT: 400m run, 6 muscle ups. All of our words have a 20 min time cap and I was just shy of finishing my muscle ups at the time cap. Since I just started stringing them together I'm not too upset... Just happy I did it! Mara and Charlotte (she won't call her Charlie) played outside because it was finally nice out and I decided to make her one of her favorite foods before she was paleo only this was the paleo version and had pecans instead of peanuts. I keep frozen bananas in my fridge so I used those, but this works with non-frozen bananas as well.

Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas 
- 1/2 banana per person
- non- dairy chocolate chips (amount depends on number of bananas- I used half a 12oz bag for 2)
- Chopped pecans

1. Put bananas on skewers and into a freezer bag. Freeze for a few hours or many days.

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Pull the bananas out right before dipping them in the chocolate. Roll them in the chocolate and sprinkle on pecans immediately. Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and freeze an hour or overnight.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Asian Marinated Steak Kabobs

I had a great time at Central East Regionals this past weekend. We had a team and two individuals competing... it was also impressive to see the people I have been following compete in person. They are incredible. Our box's own Mikki Nuccio placed 8th overall... so proud of her! This weekend showed me even more how badly I want to go and compete next year. Wanting something isn't good enough though, I have to be prepared to work really hard and have no regrets when the open comes next year that I didn't do everything I could- failure after not trying hard enough is so much worse than trying hard and failing- I have to take away excuses, worry about what I can control, and give it my all.

It was also Charlie's birthday and I am sad that I wasn't with her. How did I cope? I had it set in my mind that it wasn't her birthday, I am doing a mini-party with my parents and sister this weekend so I am pretending it is then. I get that she doesn't know it is her birthday yet, but it is still heart-wrenching because she's my little girl. I also laid off the alcohol this weekend so as not to become an emotional, blubbering mess. :)

For Mother's Day my incredible parents bought me a grill. Now that Michigan has finally decided it can be summer I tried grilling by myself for the first time in my life. I know I didn't get a charcoal grill, but let's be honest, I would use a charcoal grill so much less that one that lights with the push of a button!

I realize that steak prices are increasing it seems lately, so feel free to choose a different cut of meat. I just love flank steak... skirt steak is a good alternate though. I set up my prep station outside so I could watch Charlie in her new sand/water table!

Asian Marinated Steak Kabobs

(Printable Version)

- 1.5 lbs Flank Steak
- 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil (plus more for grill)
- 2 Tbsp Gluten-free Soy Sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Lime Juice
- 1 tsp Ginger, minced
- 1 Garlic clove, minced
- 1 Pineapple, cored and chunked
- 1/2 Onion, sliced in quarters
- 1 Jalapeno, seeded and sliced

1. Whisk oil through garlic and rub, toss the steak in it. Cover and place in the fridge 6 hours or overnight.

2. Slice the steak into cubes. Alternate onion, jalapeno, pineapple and steak on a skewer... in using wood skewers soak over night! This makes 8-10 kabobs.

3. Rub with a little more oil so they don't stick. Grill over Medium to Medium-high heat 5 minutes on the first side, flip and grill another 3min... I like my steak a little more done than most... must be the vegetarian still in me!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Zucchini Pizza... Two Ways!

Our team and two individuals are getting ready to head to the Central East Regionals for CrossFit. There is a whole group of us going down to watch and what I know from hearing about it last year is it will be a blast. I don't have Charlie this weekend so it will be a good distraction for me since it is her second birthday. I know that she doesn't know it is her birthday, but it is still hard to face the fact that I won't get to spend her birthday with her every year. Wondering how other single moms who split from their children's other parent early in the kids' lives cope?? Either way, I am making sure I spend a lot of time with her this week and even let her sleep in bed with me last night because she was afraid of the thunderstorms... she never slept in bed with me so this is a big deal for both of us. :)

I'm on a zucchini kick... who knows why. I am starting to like it better than actual pasta as far as noodles are concerned. I never peel it because I am lazy and it is cheaper than spaghetti squash right now so I am going to keep up the trend. Don't skip the step of draining some of the water out of the zucchini... it will make your dough really mushy if you skip this!
I made two different pizzas with it tonight... one as a crust more typical pizza-y and the other just sliced and topped. Both delicious... one more time consuming than the other but neither are hard. Neither recipe is technically paleo because of the cheese. I used raw dairy so my pizzas are considered primal. Omit the cheese, use different toppings... it's your pizza!

Zucchini Crust Pizza

- 2 Zucchinis
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning (basil, thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc.)
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
- 2 eggs
- Pizza Sauce (check for sugar products on the label! or use crushed tomatoes)
- Pepperoni (again... check the labels)
- Raw Cheddar Cheese

Preheat the Oven to 415 degrees

1. Shred the zucchini on the second largest shredder on your box grater. Place it in a fine mesh sieve or on paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit at least 20 minutes. I press mine against the side of the sieve to make sure it is extra dry. Squeeze it in a towel if you are pressed for time. I don't know how to better explain the size of the grater so see below :) This is my box grater. 
2. Mix the zucchini with the seasoning, eggs, and pepper. Pour onto a greased  cookie sheet or parchment paper. 
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it is firm and edges start to crisp up.

4. Take it out of the oven, top it, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the toppings are bubbling to your liking.

Zucchini Boat Pizzas

I bake these on a rack on top of a cookie sheet because the zucchinis have a lot of liquid in them... it keeps them from getting soggy on the bottom.

- 1 Zucchini per person
- Pizza Sauce (see notes above)
- Toppings (see above)

Preheat to 425 degrees.

1. Slice the zucchini in half and scoop out a little so there is a "boat" appearance. Add your sauce and toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes. I like my zucchini still a little crunchy so bake longer or pre-bake your zucchini for 5 minutes if you don't. 

Am I Missing the "Mom Gene?"

Fun fact about me: I'm really honest... It's a fault sometimes, but it's just how I've always been. My teacher in second grade even told my parents that I'm "not afraid to share my opinion." So here it goes... Honesty that I needed to get off my chest...
I feel like I missed the "mom gene" if there is such a thing. The one that I see in women where they channel everything they have into their children- amazing Pinterest crafts, themed perfect birthday parties, play dates, and thousands of adorable pictures. My mom was a wonderful stay-at-home mom and she wanted to be... I grew up so fortunate to have a loving mom who wanted to be home with me, and still when I had my daughter was ready to go back to work after 12 weeks. I am not super mushy with other people's babies, never have been. I was not big on co-sleeping and she was in her crib, in her own room, by 6 weeks. I worked on "sleep training" and let her cry to sleep around 6 months, I only nursed for less than two months, pumping to make it last a bit longer. I am just going to lay it out there... I didn't like it... I didn't like being at home 24 hours a day with an infant, I didn't like the feel or act of nursing, I didn't like that I had didn't have any time to do anything and felt like I was losing myself. Everything I just said makes me sound selfish and heartless and I'm sorry, but that's the truth.
I know I struggled with postpartum, I had a less-than ideal pregnancy, a husband who seemed not ready for the life changes we now faced, and then a colicky baby. I was so tired and upset the first weeks she was home I honestly don't remember them...complete blur. Those are not excuses, and I obviously have some guilt about the way I feel or this post would never have been written. I do think there are other women like me out there who are just afraid to say anything.... especially with the over-sharing Facebook friends who are constantly posting about how happy they are staying at home with their wonderful children, how in love they are with everything and seemingly implying that everyone would stay at home if they could. That's great, good for them, I am seriously happy they are so happy, but I would not be happy doing that. There does not need to be a battle about what is harder, what is better, what a mom who stays at home versus one that works is worth financially, etc ... it is a personal choice and shouldn't be a battle between women. We have enough to battle in life, why start a fight over something so personal?
 I realize that in my present situation staying at home isn't even an option, but I would have chosen to work anyway. Now I will say that my profession as a high school teacher is incredibly conducive to being a mom. I will be off the same breaks as her, be able to go to her sporting events, and do get to be with her every day in the summer. It's almost like the best of both worlds! BUT I also make sure I have time for me...even during the school year. I don't want this to take a negative tone.... I love my daughter. I don't know if you truly know love until you have a child, biological or otherwise. I am not a particularly emotional person, but I get emotional when it comes to her and I am not even remotely kidding when I say I would do anything for her, or to help her succeed. I don't even remember life before her and feel like something is missing the days I don't have her. Every time I drop her off at daycare on the weekends she goes with her dad, when I leave work I cry all the way to the gym...I go to the gym particularly those days because it is my happy place.

I know that my choices mean in the precious hours I have in the day I spend most of them at work, so then to train for another hour is a sacrifice of time that could be spent with my child. Is it selfish? Maybe. But it also makes me happy, reduces my stress, and gives me the "me" time I really need. I know I could not be the mom that I am if I didn't take the time to do something for myself. I want her to see me as someone positive in her life, who refused to settle and is a complete bad ass woman.

Again, I know others will understand and some will think that this is the sacrifice I made when I became a mom.... I disagree. I think that I can do it all and I can do it well... I don't need to be mediocre... I will be good at my job, be a good mom, and be a good athlete. Try and stop me. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

If Elvis were Paleo Protein Pancakes

It's Mother's Day weekend... This day gives me mixed emotions. On the one hand I have an incredible relationship with my own mother and will have a special bond with my own daughter because it's just her and me most of the time. Leading me to my other emotion on this day... It's just her and me. There's no one going to get up with her at 6am so I can sleep in, there's no one going to bring me my stupid expensive Starbucks drink in bed, my almost two year old is not going to have anything planned to celebrate me. But that's ok. I chose my current life situation because it is what is better for us- yes, it's hard sometimes and yea I would like to sleep in tomorrow but more importantly I get to be with the only reason the day is about me at all. I don't feel bad for me. I have some amazing people in my life who will unnecessarily get me a card or say something sweet and it is all very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy the day with your own mom, happy Mother's Day if you are a mom, even you doggy moms are doing a great job!

I felt like trying out some protein pancakes this morning and deviating from my normal routine. I made a bunch of bacon to use in other recipes and then made these. I would say compared to the original pancake I am used to they are much more filling, a lot more dense. But overall flavor is pretty darn good. I think I may use them as buns for stuff in the future. I also have banana cream protein powder I am dead set on using up...  Not a fan of it just plain!

If Elvis were Paleo Protein Pancakes

(Printable Version) 

Makes 5-6 pancakes

-2 scoops Protein Powder (I used banana cream)
- 2 eggs
- 2 very Ripe Bananas
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 2 Tblsp Non-dairy Milk
- pinch of salt
- bacon
- banana
- nut butter (I used sun butter)

1. Mix all of the ingredients except the toppings in a bowl.
2. Heat a skilled over medium heat and grease with butter or coconut oil.  Add about a 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook,checking occasionally and flip once.
3. Top with the toppings and enjoy!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cold "Noodle" Salad

I worked out with two of my favorite people last night- Kelly and Tim. They are married and left our previous box just after I did and have been at Maven since then. It's been nice to get to workout with them again since I am now there too. :) Kelly and I had dinner Friday night and since going out to eat at all, let alone without a child rarely happens it was a nice treat. I ate a burger without a bun, a cup of bacon (yes, it's an appetizer), my fries, half of Kelly's fries, and most of a brownie banana split. To say that it was a cheat meal would be an understatement! Oh well... you don't gain weight in one day or one meal, just like you don't lose weight or get healthy in one day.
I am so proud of Kelly- she just started doing pull-ups without a band about a month ago after over a year of working on them. While that may not impress some of you, working hard to achieve a goal that at times seemed unobtainable is something to be commended no matter what that goal is. Some movements will come easier for others and we need to remember that someone's achievement, no matter if it's something you can easily do, deserves recognition whether it be a pull-up or a muscle-up. She is already stringing them together and last night was stringing toes-to-bar together as well. Lats are getting strong girl! 
Since summer is finally starting to arrive in Michigan I decided to try my hand at a cold "noodle" salad. I used zucchini as my noodles... since they hold a lot of water please don't skip the step of letting them drain! It will make your salad too liquidy if you don't. I mixed the sauce in the container I was going to store it in, added the veggies, shook it, and left it over night... done! I added chicken to mine just for some protein but this could easily be a side dish to a burger or taken to a pot luck this summer!

 Cold Zucchini "Noodle" Salad

(Printable Version)

- 2 Large zucchini, spiralized or grated
- 2 Large carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 Green Onions, diced
- 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your heat preference)
- 2-3 Tbsp Lime juice (1 lime- or vinegar if you have no limes)
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Seed Oil
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos or gluten free soy sauce
- 2 tsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp. Grated Ginger
- 1 Garlic clove, minced 

1. After sprializing the zucchini, lay it on paper towel and sprinkle it with salt. Let it sit at least a half hour. 
2. Whisk Red pepper flakes through garlic in a bowl. Toss in the veggies, mix really well and let it sit 5 hours or more... I did mine over night. Mix again- there will be a lot more liquid after it sits so don't worry if the sauce doesn't look like enough.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Avocado Snack

My sister has just discovered how wonderful Costco can be. I can't believe it took her 29 years to figure this out... I normally do her Costco shopping for her and she pays me back but this time she went on her own. I warned her that her $100 in cash was not going to be sufficient... an hour later I get a text that she doesn't have enough money for all of the things she wants even though there were only 4 things on her list. She has now discovered how she will be able to afford to feed her boyfriend. :) Some things I have discovered at Costco that are WAY cheaper: avocado oil, coconut oil, nitrate-free bacon, free-range organic meat, almond milk, nuts in general, ghee, coconut water, and AVOCADOS!

I eat an avocado a day. I have to have some with my breakfast because I seem to get really hungry if I haven't had enough fat and calories in the morning. I know they are high in calories, but I don't watch my calories. Eat in moderation (except veggies and water) and make sure you are making healthy choices. I tried the calorie counting apps (myFitnessPal) on my phone and know friends that have done weight watchers and that's fine... it works for them. But I felt way more restricted eating that way than I ever have eating paleo.

Why I love avocado... you might have hear that avocados are a "healthy fat"- what does that mean? It means that they contain monounsaturated fats, pretty much the only fruit that does (yes, they are a fruit). On a molecular level that means they have one double-bond in the fatty acid tail- for what you probably care about studies have shown that increasing monounsaturated fats and reducing saturated fats is associated with increased physical activity and energy and less anger and irritability. They also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals including lutein (eye health), potassium, and folic acid.

Anyway back to Mara... she bought a bag of avocados because they are super cheap on Costco. (They don't need to be purchased organic but wash them because you don't want to "push" pesticides into the flesh when you are cutting them.) She ate the whole bag in three days... like 3 a day! This was her favorite preparation... and I have to say I made half this way and went immediately back for the second half. I credit my sister with this recipe if you want to call it a recipe. :)

Avocado Snack

- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar (if you have really good vinegar- I buy the cheap stuff :)- then you don't need the sugar or the reducing)
- 3 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
- Sea Salt

1. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat whisk the vinegar and sugar. Keep whisking occasionally until it has reduced to a syrup. 5-10min.
2. Slice your avocado and top it with the salt and vinegar... glorious!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Peanut Butter" Brownie Protein Bites

I hate my food processor. I bought it in college when I had no money, the lid is broken, it doesn't work well and it is just one of the pieces of kitchen equipment I need to replace. I avoid using it, but today I was up early making Alex's birthday "cake" and had to break it out. Alex is my sister's boyfriend. I was skeptical of him at first because she my other half and I am protective. We had a rocky start where he was acting his age and I was not acting mine, but it's a year later now and it turns out he's an ok guy. Mara can't bake so I made him the PaleOMG Raw Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars he wanted. The entire recipe is done with the food processor so since I had the stupid thing out I decided to make something else with it. Alex also liked these "bites" I made for a competition that were oatmeal, chia seeds, nut butter, etc. Yes, please call them "bites" not "balls"... at a box where words like "snatch" get thrown around the connotation can be easily changed- it would be in your best interest. :) Anyway! Since the the original "bites" weren't paleo I decided to mess around with ingredients and make a version of them. After some not so-good attempts I finally figured it out and these things are delicious- I would probably double the recipe!

I ate mine with my homemade raspberry chia seed jam ( I ate 3 already while I am typing this... naughty!

"Peanut Butter" Brownie Protein Bites

(Printable Version)

- 1/4 Cup (heaping) Chocolate Protein Powder
- 6 Small Dried Dates, pitted
- 1/4 Cup Sunbutter (or any other nut butter)
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- Hot Water
- 1/4 Cup Mini Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

1. Fill a bowl with hot water and put the dates in to soften while you get out the rest of the ingredients. 5 min.
2. In a food processor, mix the protein powder, sunbutter, vanilla, dates (reserve water) and salt. Mix until it resembles ground beef... weird I know but that's what it looks like. :)

3. Slowly add the date water a tablespoon at a time while the processor is running on low. When the dough clumps into a big ball you are done! Remove the blade and add the chocolate chips. I do this with my hands. 

4. Roll into small balls (makes 8-10) and put on a cookie sheet in the fridge for ~15 minutes. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Servings 10.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 101
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g6 %
Saturated Fat 1 g3 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 4 mg1 %
Sodium 54 mg2 %
Potassium 137 mg4 %
Total Carbohydrate 13 g4 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g7 %
Sugars 10 g
Protein 5 g9 %
Vitamin A0 %
Vitamin C0 %
Calcium3 %
Iron3 %
* 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.