Monday, September 30

Blueberry, Carrot, Ginger Almond Muffins

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25-30 min
Serves: 9-12 muffins
Tools: Muffin tray or tins

Ingredients: 
4 ounces applesauce, unsweetened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup almond pulp or almond meal 
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut flour, divided
½ tablespoons baking powder
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups blueberries
½ cup shredded carrots
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
¼ to ½ a cup of water
2 tbs coconut oil to grease tins

Instructions:  
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tray with greased muffin tins or paper (I grease the tins with coconut oil). Muffin tins can also simple be placed on a baking sheet depending on the tools you have. 
2. In the bowl, beat the almond milk, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla and until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup coconut flour, almond pulp (or almond flour), baking powder, ground ginger and salt. In a smaller bowl, toss the blueberries, carrots and fresh minced ginger in the remaining tablespoon of coconut flour.
4. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the floured blueberries, carrots and ginger.
5. If batter is a little thick, add ¼ to ½ a cup of water. Batter won’t be runny like typical muffin batter, but more thick and fluffy. Add a little water until you get desired consistency.
7. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tin and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned on top and cooked through.
8. Enjoy with a little coconut butter!

Thursday, September 26

Quest to Boston Part V: The Quest Continues

Wednesday I received an e-mail from the Boston Athletic Association informing me that I would not be permitted to race the Boston Marathon in 2014, despite qualifying.


For those that know me and have followed my journey to qualify, you can probably imagine how much this stings. For those that don't, here's where you can get caught up: 

Part I: Felt Great to Fail
Part II: Closure on Chicago
Part III: Third Time Not a Charm
Part IV: We Did It!

I'll be honest... I don't really want to write this post. I'm essentially forcing my hands onto the keyboard to try and make some sense of the chaos in my brain. So apologies in advance, as I'm sure you'll sense the tone throughout the next few paragraphs. I'm not trying to sound too dramatic, but this really sucks. For the first time ever I'm rolling my eyes at quotes on perseverance. So hang with me, as I try to rev-up the willpower engine again.

Here's what happened

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is one thing, being able to show up and race it is another.  The most prestigious marathon in the world can only allow so many people to run it. And at some point, demand exceeds supply. This happened a couple of years ago, so the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) beefed up qualifying standards, making each age group/gender run five minutes faster. Five minutes may not seem like a lot, but for runners pushing the envelop on a 26.2mi race, it's substantial. The intent seemed to work. But then the bombings happened this past April, and in an attempt to show their resilience, the running community flocked to marathons all vying for a slot for the 2014 Boston Marathon. So it happened again: demand surpassed supply.

Because there were more runners that qualified than slots available to run, the BAA had to determine who to let in, and who not to let in. They determined this based on how much someone beat their qualifying standard (chart below) by. As an example, a 60-year-old female who ran a 4:15:00 would get preference over a 20-year-old male who ran a 3:01:00. The female beat her standard by 10min, where the male only beat his by 4min. Right or wrong, this is the policy.


Boston Marathon Qualifying Standards

The BAA is age group/gender agnostic, meaning they don't care if you're a male 18-34 or a female 80 and older. They are going to take the fastest runners based on their qualifying standard. I qualified, meaning I ran a marathon that met the standard for my age group and gender (men, 18-34). I needed a 3:05:00, I ran a 3:03:37. But it wasn't fast enough. Baffling, isn't it? A 7:00/mi for 26.2mi wasn't good enough this year. If you click on the e-mail image above from the BAA, you'll see exactly how not fast enough I was. (15 seconds)

So...

I'm certainly disappointed, I mean, who wouldn't be? I feel sad, angry, discouraged. Hell, I had been planning parts of my 2014 around the Boston Marathon, encouraging my friends and family to come watch. Crazy to think the next opportunity for me to run it won't be until April 2015, 19 months from now.

A friend and fellow endurance athlete said to me on the phone after I broke the news to him: "...well, you know this is all just part of some stupid plan you can't see yet, right?" It was one of those comments that made me laugh with perhaps a slight tear in the eye. It mocked a cliche, but in a way that was endearing. Perseverance quotes, inspirational videos and passages... he knew I had heard them all throughout the two years I kept trying to qualify for Boston.

But what else do you say to someone in a situation such as mine? Do you chalk it up to complete randomness? Do you say 'it is what it is' and 'keep on keeping on'? No. Not to me. You see I prefer to believe that maybe, just maybe, he's right. Maybe there is a stupid plan that I can't see just yet. And it is for that exact reason that I force myself to write this post.

...what now?

The quest continues, of course! I'll do what I've had to do for several years and have seemingly become really good at: I'll try again.

How's that for a cheesy perseverance quote?

Tuesday, September 24

Dr. C's Health Journey: Part I

Today's post is written by a guest blogger, Dr. Dana Christianson (read his bio here). Dr. C is a practicing Ophthalmologist and the father of my fiance, Jessie. His journey into the Paleo lifestyle by way of Whole30 is incredible, so much in fact that we wanted him to write his own post about it. Without further ado...

Dr. C's Health Journey: Part I
by Dana Christianson, M.D.

It is astonishing how much of what I used to believe was optimal for health, I have now come to believe is actually detrimental to our health.

A little background about myself...

I grew up in a family that was quite health-conscious. We made a concerted effort to eat what was felt to be a healthy diet. This included lots of fruits and vegetables and very large quantities of whole grains. The diet was also extremely low in fat and saturated fat, usually included margarine instead of butter and included some very lean meats.

Monday, September 23

Featured Whole30'er: Will

Why did you decide to do a Whole30?

I took part in a pseudo-Whole30 during the summer that lasted roughly 2 weeks. I wasn't fully committed to the program and I was cheating on a regular basis. So, when I heard about the group of people participating in the August Whole30, I knew I had to join. This time Whole30 was "sink or swim": no cheating and no excuses. I knew deep down I could make it 30 days without alcohol or chocolate!

What was the hardest part?

The hardest part for me was telling myself "no" when I had a craving for sweets. I love my brownies, Oreo's  and chocolate covered raisins. It was also a huge pain in the neck to go out and eat at a restaurant. I'd have to ask what's in their dressing, how do they cook the chicken, can I get this on the side, and replace side X with side Z.

What was the best part?

The best part of Whole30 is the knowledge you acquire throughout your journey; research, conversations, and failed dinners at home. I learned an enormous amount about my body and what it needs to function properly. For 26 years I thought I was somewhat "healthy", but man oh man the Whole30 opened my eyes to another world.

Any advice for anyone doing one in the future?

Dedication, dedication, dedication! This challenge is very demanding, but the results you get after 30 days is more than worth it!

On a side note, I would like to personally thank all of you who listened to me ramble on and on about Chick-Fil-A or sweet tea, and thank you for the support throughout the month of August. Also, thank you to the special person that talked me through 95% of my cravings, bad attitudes, hangry (hungry + angry) episodes, and moments when I thought I couldn't make it. Kylie, you're awesome and an inspiration, thank you for everything you did for me and the other Whole30ers, you made the month of August fantastic. 

To view other Featured Whole30'ers click the "Featured Whole30'er" tag below this post.

Sunday, September 22

Doug's Paleo Shrimp Stir Fry

Doug (aka "Harrison Ford")
Our friend Doug made one of his go-to Paleo dinners for our Whole30 Potluck. He brought over chopped veggies, his wok, raw shrimp and cooking spices; he made it fresh for us at the dinner... it was so easy and delicious! 

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Serves: 4-6
Tools: Cast Iron Wok

Ingredients:
3 tbs olive oil
2c broccoli florets
4 carrots cut into match sticks
3 bell peppers cut into match sticks (red, yellow and orange are good for color)
6 mushrooms sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lbs. raw shrimp
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Chop the broccoli, cut the carrots and bell peppers into match sticks and slice the mushrooms.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the wok on medium high heat and add the chopped veggies, garlic and Kirkland seasoning.
  3. When the veggies are about ¾ of the way cooked (approximately 8 min.), add the raw shrimp.
  4. Cook in the wok until shrimp are pink and veggies are desired softness (careful not to overcook or shrimp will turn rubbery).
  5. Add salt and pepper to desired taste.
  6. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19

Better Food of the Week: Cashew Butter

Did you know a peanut isn’t a nut, it’s actually a legume? We tend to avoid legumes because of the systemic inflammation they can cause in our body. Peanuts are no exception. Virtually any tree nut is better for you in our book than peanuts.

In the last decade, peanut allergies have developed with increasing intensity. Between 1997 and 2002 peanut allergies doubled in young children. The exact cause for this is still unknown, but there are naturally occurring molds found on peanuts, which your body may recognize as foreign invaders, in turn creating an inflammatory response. Peanuts also contain proteins called lectins, which have proven to be problematic for digestion. Ultimately, even if you don’t think you have adverse reactions to peanuts, to promote a healthy gut and immune system, it’s best to avoid them. 

We know giving up peanut butter can be one of the most difficult challenges. There's something innately American that makes us love to eat peanut butter straight from the jar or put it on just about anything. But, to live better and healthier, we recommend other nut butter options that we believe are just as delicious and will promote a better diet.

We buy raw cashew butter because not only is it creamy and delicious (almost like nutty icing!), but out of other nut butters it has the one of the better ratios of healthy monounsaturated fats. Raw almond butter is also a top choice for us as a good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin B6. Both are easy to find at a WholeFoods or other gourmet grocery stores. 

Whether you're adding nut butter to a smoothie or smearing it on an apple, we hope you'll choose raw cashew or raw almond butter to promote a healthier gut response.

Here's the product we recommend. Yes, it can be pricey -- but once you try it you'll be hooked; we assure you it's worth it!

Wednesday, September 18

Esther's Southwest Meatloaf

The wonderful Esther brought this fabulous dish to our Whole30 Potluck. We hope you like it as much as we did! 

Cook and Prep Time: 40-50 minServes: 8
Tools: 2 bread loaf pans

Ingredients
1.5 lbs ground beef
1 egg, whisked
¾ cup almond flour
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat a large skillet under medium-high heat, add coconut oil and minced garlic. Once the garlic has become fragrant (careful not to let it burn), add your green pepper, red pepper, and onions.
3. Cook until onions are translucent then remove from heat.
4. Add ground beef, egg, almond flour, spices, and cooked veggies to a large bowl. Mix together.
5. Place meat mixture in two bread loaf pans and pat down.
6. Cook for 30-35 minutes.
7. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16

Featured Whole30'er: Samantha W.

Why did you decide to do your first Whole30?

Frankly, I did my first Whole30 for the reason they tell you to avoid: to lose weight.  I was feeling quite a bit out of control of my body and the way I approached food and eating.  I had tried a number of things in the past that were disguised as "cleanses" -- but they made absolutely no sense.  I just thought to myself, "seriously, you're smarter than this."  Once I heard the Whole30 name thrown around, I did some research and saw that there are a plethora of benefits outside the whole boring weight loss shtick that I found appealing. The main one, as a grad student, was gaining energy.  I decided to do my first Whole30 between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which in retrospect was just about the craziest thing I could have decided to do.

What was the hardest part?

Changing my perspectives on not just food, but my lifestyle in general.  I remember one time in my first Whole30 when I just broke down and cried.  I was so tired of prepping and cooking, when all I wanted to do was have a beer, take a nap, and get my homework done. I am not very skilled in the art of meal planning so I just sort of tried to wing it, which I would strongly discourage. That will only work to a point. I also found it very difficult to shop, plan, and cook for 1 person on Whole30, because many individual-sized portions of "food" are just about 100% processed.  Meanwhile, my roommates were baking these delicacies, my friends were offering me my favorite beers and I had to say no to all of it.  In retrospect, I can see that saying "no" is not necessarily an act of deprivation -- it's an act of moderation.

What was the best part?

It was like I had discovered what my body could do for the very first time. I didn't know that my body didn't have to feel bloated after a meal, I didn't know that I could wake up refreshed, I certainly didn't know that I could sooth myself after a rough day without a beer.  I really appreciated flavors that I hadn't tasted in a while (grapes are delicious: what?!)  I thought this was going to be one of those deals where you suffer through the 30 days and then jump back into the "good life".  It was an amazing surprise to find such pleasure in such simplicity, as cheesy as that may sound. (Mmm cheesy).

Why are you doing another?

I looked back on my last experience and thought about how great it made me feel.  I missed appreciating my body and my food. Plus, this time around I was prepared.  I had done much more research, had saved a bunch of recipes and knew I could give it 100%.  To not try the Whole30 again would be like knowing I had all the tools and skills to build my dream home, but just deciding to rent a crummy apartment instead. 

Any advice for anyone doing one in the future?

Do your research, make a plan, establish a support system (preferably a friend who's been there before or is just super supportive), and document your days.  Also, don't be ashamed of congratulating yourself on trying something out of your comfort zone!  It's not easy at first, but I honestly believe that if I can do it, anyone can.

To view other Featured Whole30'ers click the "Featured Whole30'er" tag below this post.

Friday, September 13

August Whole30 Recap

I realize this post is long over-due. Day 30 just so happened to fall on the day Jessie, my family and I departed for vacation to Italy. The initial intent was to write our Whole30 'debrief' a few days after the program had finished. You'll have to forgive our tardiness, we were slightly distracted by Tuscany and the anti-Whole30 foods: wine and bread. Whoops.

We're now two weeks removed from August 30th and I believe that time actually did us a service for adequate reflection. In order to be thorough in this recap, I went back and re-read our entire Whole30 Journal. I wanted to be sure I wasn't being biased, nor did I want to leave anything out that was important. I then compared it with our first Whole30 we did back in October of 2012. Bumping the two programs up against one another gave me more insight. As always, it's all relative.

So here we go, our August Whole30 Recap: results, observations and why this wasn't our last one.

Wednesday, September 11

Featured Whole30'er: Chris

This if your first Whole30, why did you decide to do one?

The journey started this past December when, after sitting on the couch for years, I decided to train for and race my first Ironman 70.3.  In April I crossed the finish line to experience what has proven to be one of the most incredible moments of my life.  Simply put, the sport of triathlon has transformed my life.  After making strides in many areas of my health I still knew my diet needed help.  It was seeing friends whom I look up to in the world of triathlon trying Whole30 that got me interested. The most eye opening part has been to look at food as something that either makes us more or less healthy. Reality is, I never gave it much thought before. If it tasted good, I ate it. I certainly didn't have what anyone would consider a healthy diet and I knew drastic measures were needed. After all, I was feeling like crap even though I was working out 10-13 hours a week - something was seriously wrong.

Did it seem daunting?

Before starting, even the thought of doing Whole30 seemed terrifying, but now I understand that it's really just a matter of eating delicious foods without the many poisons. Does it take more planning? Yes, but it is so worth it. I feel better than I ever have. What people don't seem to get (and it's my biggest lesson learned thus far) is that eating "healthy" doesn't have to be boring. 

What's been the hardest part?

The hardest part has been figuring out how to properly fuel for long workouts/races. When the world around you is used to using caffeine & sugar heavy gels (i.e. "crap") there isn't much guidance for alternative sources to make sure you have the energy needed for the high intensity workouts that my coach gives me.

What's been the best part?

I feel amazing.  Until Whole30 I've never been a morning person.  Now, instead of dreading the alarm clock I typically wake up right before it goes off on my own.  The dreaded afternoon crash after lunch never happens and my mind is clearer than it has ever been.  I feel empowered to be the picture of health & wellness that I've always wanted yet never knew how to achieve.



To view other Featured Whole30'ers click the "Featured Whole30'er" tag below this post.

Monday, September 9

Roasted Red Potatoes and Veggies

This dish is easy to make, always a big hit with company and is one of our favorite sides. Hope you enjoy!

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 45 min - 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 bag baby carrots
6-8 red potatoes
2 red bell peppers
1/2 onion
4 garlic cloves
1 tbs rosemary
1 tbs oregano
1/4 c olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Slice red potatoes into fourths, slice red peppers into strips lengthwise and slice 1/2 onion into long strips.
3. Mince 4 garlic cloves.
4. Combine bag of carrots, sliced red potatoes, red peppers, onions and garlic into a large baking tray.
5. Add rosemary, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir with hands among the veggies until their well-coated. Add more olive oil if needed to cover all the pieces.
6. Place the baking tray in the oven and stir the veggies every 20 min or so.
7. When the potatoes look browned at the edges the dish should be done. Let it cool for 10 min or so.
8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 3

Our Trip to Tuscany!

Before diving into the first two days of our trip, it's worth backing up to our departure from Dallas.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jess and I were up around 5:45a to make sure we got everything ready before we left for the airport. We wanted to finish up the final touches on our last post in the Whole30 series, finish packing and just generally make sure everything was organized. No matter how much preparing you do before you go out of town, you always feel like you're leaving something behind.


We left Dallas at 12:30p from DFW. A 3.5hr flight put us into JFK around 5:00p. We quickly found a food-court, scarfed down some grub, and then grabbed our connecting flight to Milan, Italy that left at 6:30p. The flight was just around 8hrs, and Kylie and I were the only two that couldn't sleep. My Mom, Dad and Jessie at least got a couple of hours in. This put us in an unfortunate situation when we landed at 8:00a local time in Italy on Saturday.


Kylie & Jessie on the first leg (still smiling!) to JFK
Sunrise, about an hour outside of Milan
Day 1: Saturday, August 31, 2013

We rented the most hilarious minivan
Dad's incident with the car

Day 2: bikes and Lucca

Day 3: Pisa

Day 4: Chinquetera -- my legs are killing me!

Day 5: Winery!

Chili-Spiced Sausage

The wonderful Denise brought this tasty dish to our Whole30 Potluck Party! It was definitely a big hit. 

Prep and Cook Time: 45 min
Tools: Large sauce pan
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
- 4 Italian sausage links
- 3 fresh peppers, red, orange, green, diced
- 1 large onions, chopped
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 T coconut oil

Instructions
1. In large sauce pan, heat coconut oil.
2. Slice sausage into 1 inch chunks, and add to frying pan. Stir occasionally, until lightly browned.
3. Remove sausage from pan and place in large bowl.
4. Put onions in frying pan (with sausage fat) and sauté for 2 minutes before adding diced peppers, garlic, chili powder and sea salt. Sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Add sausage and combine.

Adapted from: transformedbyfood.com
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