Monday, December 31, 2012

A look back at 2012

My blog is only 4 months old, but all the cool kids are doing recaps of 2012. 2012 was a year of big things for me as a runner. It's the year that I really proved to myself and the world that "yes, a chubby girl can do great things". I really focused on educating myself about running and nutrition. I set lofty goals and did really adventurous things. I wanted to reach out to other runners and I wanted to inspire non-runners.

I wanted to run 3 half marathons in 2013. I ran five. I wanted to make running less expensive for my family's budget. I found groupons and deals, signed up for memberships that offered discounts and was awarded a sponsorship with The Girls On The Go race series. I wanted to move on from the run/walk/run method and run an entire half marathon. I ran the entire Silver Strand Half marathon.

I wanted my children to experience the rush of crossing a finish line. They ran their first races as 1ks and 1 milers. And I wanted to instill a sense of personal pride in taking control of their health. They both look forward to running 5ks with the whole family now. Running is part of who we are now. I've run 2 halfs with my momma, my first race with my husband by my side and both kids have a wall of ribbons, medals and bibs. What could be expected of a family descended from a man who ran over 700 miles of races last year. That's my dad, the crazy ultra runner and my biggest motivation during my runs.

I also ran with friends. I discovered that runners are the best people out there. Giving, enthusiastic about life, and real. I helped a friend run her first half marathon when she needed a race morning sitter. I've helped friends with training plans and through running issues. But they've given back tenfold this year. I signed up for two extra half marathons because they wanted me too. I ran faster with them by my side. And one special running buddy volunteered at the Finish Line to award me my medal. Running Buddies are special.

Late in 2012 I started my Paleo Diet. And about a month after, I started this blog. It's still young and I'm still uncertain of what I'm doing with it. But a few people have said that I've helped them start their paleo journey. I hope to continue to do so by sharing my own journey.

For 2013 I want to do it all over again. I I'm shooting for 8 halfs in the new year. Our family will be running the Firecracker 5k in LAs Chinatown to earn cool Year of the Snake medals. And I'll be running the SoCal Triple Crown to earn the challenge medals with my friend Dave. And I plan to continue to cook and eat like a caveman, since it's only brought good things to me and my running. Good Fortune to all of you in 2013! And I hope you're back here reading next year's recap with me!













Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ATTACK OF THE LEFTOVERS

Anyone else have a fridge FULL of leftovers?  I made BOTH a turkey and a ham for Christmas Dinner and now I'm paying for it with a fridge too full of food to justify eating out.  Luckily the internet is full of great ideas for leftovers, and a lot of them come from the paleo community.

I always serve Turkey Soup the day after I make a roasted bird.  It's something that most of my family loves and its easy to make, although takes all day because I make my own stock from the carcass, neck and giblets.  But the day of Christmas, while everyone is glued to their new gifts, there's no rush to be anywhere.

My favorite homemade stock recipe was posted by a Ms. Polcyn on allrecipes.com.  It makes use of the parts of a chicken or turkey that I dislike using, which makes me feel better than tossing them out.  It REALLY makes a difference when you use homemade stock in a dish than store bought.


Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • the neck, giblets and leftover carcass (I usually just use the wings from my cooked turkey)


  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp peppercorn

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the neck and giblets (excluding the liver), 6 cups water, celery, carrot, onion, tangerine rind, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and continue to cook at a simmer, skimming the froth occasionally for 1 hour. Add liver and continue to cook at a bare simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a bowl. There should be about 3 cups of stock. If there is more, simmer the stock until it is reduced to about 3 cups; if there is less, add enough water to measure about 3 cups.













MAKING YOUR OWN SOUP 

Making soup used to be a bit of a mystery to me, until I had used several recipes found online.  I realized that there are ___ steps to making a soup.

  1. Cook your aromatic vegetables in fat.  These would be your onions, garlic, and celery.  These vegetables release their full flavor when they've been sauteed in butter/bacon grease/olive oil.  
  2. Add your other vegetables in: tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, green beans, zucchini, broccoli and cook for just a few minutes.  This is also the time to add your COOKED meat.  Leftover turkey, ham, chicken, beef strips all work well in soups.
  3. Add your additional spices (sage, thyme, rosemary for Turkey) (rosemary, oregano for beef) (I prefer nothing for ham soup) AND ALWAYS A BAY LEAF!  This is when you add your broth/stock too.  Enough to cover the ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30-40 minutes.  
  5. Remove from heat and taste.  Add your salt and pepper now, that way you have control over the saltiness and pepper levels.  Flavors concentrate in the soup making process and you can end up with a VERY salty or peppery soup!
Soup making is as easy as THAT!   You can experiment with different vegetables and broths and seasonings and make it exactly how you like it.  











































A new one I'm trying is inspired by the Cabbage Soup with Leftover Ham from paleodietlifestyle.com.  I usually like to use my leftover ham in breakfast dishes, but a Christmas virus had me craving hot soup.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head cabbage;
  • 2 tbsp fat (butter, ghee, bacon grease, olive oil, you pick)
  • 1 onion, chopped;
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 2 carrots, chopped;
  • 1 lb cooked ham, cubed;
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Preparation

  1. In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat melt the cooking fat. Sautee the onions and garlic in the cooking fat for 5 to 7 minutes, just until the onions are translucent and tender.
  2. Add the cabbage, green beans, carrots and ham and toss with the onions and garlic. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, frequently stirring to prevent anything from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Pour in the stock with the bay leaves. Allow the soup to come to a simmer and cook partially covered for 35 to 45 minutes. Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper, but taste the liquid before adding any salt, as the ham will most likely give off enough saltiness on its own.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and serve.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa Came To Town

All the prep and good behavior worked and the Jolly 'ole elf visited us last night. He apparently loved the paleo cake pops we left for him, although his reindeers made a glittery mess outside.

Kris Kringle was very good to the paleo Mommy, bringing me a Kitchenaid Mixer in Onyx Black, a book of Paleo Desserts and Chuao Chocolate (a San Diego local chocolatier and a sponsor of the SD Half Marathon)

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, filled with time with your loved ones and full bellies.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Feast

My Christmas Eve feast took 2 days to prep and 20 minutes to eat. But having a special meal that was homemade and paleo was worth it. Not to mention all the yummy leftovers I get to eat for the next few days. This paleo mommy also achieved a small victory. My 11 year old son, diagnosed with autism, consented to trying his first bite of turkey EVER. And he LIKED it!!! Small steps towards big goals.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Girls on the Go Races

One thing I have neglected to mention on my blog is the fact that I'm a Girls On The Go Race Series Ambassador.  A race series created by Debbie Adelman and Rosemarie Gibson, these races are "every girl’s chance to commune with mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmas and friends in a run, walk, jog or samba to the finish line.  This is not just any race. This is a celebration of women of all ages and fitness levels. The finish line includes a Girlicious medal, stylish T-shirt, festival, and so much girl time fun!"  The Race Ambassadors were found through a facebook essay contest and chosen for their experience, love of running, and passion for motivating people around them to get up and be active!  I am VERY proud to be a part of the Girls On The Go family.  

As a race ambassador, I promote the GotG race series at expo booths, by wearing the series gear during my training runs and races and by encouraging people to sign up for races!  The upcoming GotG races that you can sign up for include

Sunday, Feb 10th, 2013
Crocker Park
Sacramento, CA


Saturday, May 11, 2013
Fiesta Island - Mission Bay
San Diego, CA


Sunday, Sept 22, 2013
Bonelli Park
San Dimas, CA 

Another Ambassador responsibility is providing inspiration for "girls on the go" and I get to do that through the Girls on the Go Training Tips page.  I just posted my first blog entry yesterday, so please go check it out!  This entry is focused on Running Moms who now have kids at home for the holiday breaks.  

You might be wondering about the PERKS of being an ambassador.  Well, the BIGGEST perk is getting to meet other like minded women.  The other Ambassadors have just as much enthusiasm for running and racing as I do.  It's always great to meet other women who don't mind when you talk about PRs or race day nutrition or gear.  I also get free tech tees from my sponsors, to wear to promote the race series.  It's definitely a perk since the race series color is raspberry pink . . . my FAVORITE color.  And the last and most beneficial perk is that they allow me to race the series for free!  

Men are welcome to run the series, but are ineligible for prizes.  If you are interested in any of the Girls on the Go races and want a discount code, please ask!  I'm usually able to get discount codes from the race directors.  Come join me in a fun, woman-centered, race with all the girly perks you could ask for!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Twofers, marathons, and Wheat Thins

The Hubby and I are both runners.  He prefers the mud covered intensity of Obstacle Course Races (OCRs) like Tough Mudder, while I'm a dedicated Road Racer.  With two racers in the family though, we have have to have a MASTER calendar of all the events we're signed up for.  "Check the Calendar" is an often heard phrase in our house, and it's an instruction to go check the desk size calendar that's attached to our brag wall.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I'm running TWO races in the same weekend.  I often get carried away by race sign ups when they offer discount codes or when a bunch of fellow racers are all signing up.  That's what must have happened when I managed to sign up for BOTH the Electric Run in Del Mar, CA and the Cardiff Kook in Encinitas, CA on the same weekend.  I've never run a two-fer before, but there's a first time for everything.  And luckily my two-fer is just two 5ks.  Some day I might feel up to running a 5k followed by a 10k or even a half marathon the day after.  Right now I'll stick to accidentally registering for two small races.

During Thanksgiving Break my Daddy (a 100 mile Ultramarathoner) told me I'm ready to run a marathon.  Since I'm like him in every way (except for that crazy 100 mile race thing he's got going on), he must have known that his comment would circle around in my head until I couldn't ignore it.  I found myself checking the most "walker friendly" marathons at MarathonGuide.com  Perhaps this time next year I'll be planning to do one of those . . . if I haven't worn out the legs running 8 half marathons in 2013.

Runners need carbs and lately I find myself fighting against eating conventional processed carbs.  I miss the crunchy saltiness of crackers.  My flaxseed crackers are great, but they're quite delicate, which makes them useless for dipping.  Thank Goodness for inventive cooks who make low carb/paleo versions of brand name crackers!  This recipe for "ALMOND THINS" was found at a website called lowcarbfriends.com, a message board for those following the gluten free or low carb lifestyles.  And I am EVER grateful for this recipe!

Almond Thins

Ingredients: 


Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven 325. 
  2. Mix ingredients well. 
  3. Place mixture onto a well greased piece of tin foil. Lay a piece of saran wrap over top of mixture. Use a rolling pin to roll out to a cracker thickness. Gently remove saran wrap. 
  4. Sprinkle more salt on top if desired and press lightly into dough. Score with knife or pizza cutter into 1.5 inch squares. 
  5. Lay tin foil on rack in oven. Bake until golden brown about 10 minutes. Makes around 30 crackers.
Nutritional info: serving size 7 crackers fat 13.1g  sat fat 0.9g  cholesterol 0mg  sodium 12.8mg  carb 5.7g  fiber 2.8  protein 6.4g

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Running, maple syrup and brownies

As the end of the year draws near, I'm feeling the pressure to reach my milage goal of 600 miles in 2012.  I set that goal in January, feeling that it was a lofty goal and unlikely to be reached.  Color me surprised when I looked at my totals and found that I only had 21 more miles to go!  With 2 weeks left in the year, I definitely think I'm going to make it.  I've run about 1/3 of this year on the Paleo diet.  I definitely feel that my recovery is faster, which is ideal when I've got back to back half marathons in every month.  The weight I dropped going paleo has helped too.  Less weight is more speed and less damage done to my structural muscles.
Besides my milage goal, I also had a goal of running three half marathons in 2012.  My very FIRST half marathon was the San Diego Rock n Roll in 2011.  I thought I'd push myself and do 3 times that in 2012.  As of right now, I have SIX half marathon medals hanging on my Brag Wall. That means I ran 5 halfs in 2012.  I never thought I'd be so into a physical sport.  And paleo just makes it better.

I had to teach myself about Maple Syrup and the grading of it this week.  A recipe I wanted to make required GRADE B maple syrup.  And apparently maple syrup is NOT the stuff I've been putting on m pancakes forever.  Apparently that stuff is just corn syrup with flavorings added to it.  If YOU want to learn more about maple syrup, the Huffington Post has a great article on the differences in grades of the sweet stuff and what they are used for.

You may be asking yourself, "Well, what was the recipe??" I aim to please, so here it is.


Dark Chocolate Banana Bites by Paleo Parents

  • 2 bananas
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 C coconut oil, liquified
  • 1/2 C maple syrup, we recommend Grade B
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 C almond flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ENJOY LIFE chocolate chips
  1. Using an electric mixer or food processor, combine all of the wet ingredients (bananas should smooth out)
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients except chocolate chips
  3. While mixing on low, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just combined
  4. Sir in chocolate chips to the dough
  5. Using a silicon mini muffin pan or mini muffin liners on a metal pan, scoop the dough until almost full into mini muffin pan
  6. Cook at 350 for 10 minutes
Makes 4 dozen; store chilled and let come to room temperature before serving or eating. 

Nutritional info
Serving size 1 mini muffin 107 calories 7g fat 4g sat fat  32mg cholesterol  11.6mg sodium  9.2 carbs  1.4g fiber  2.6g protein

Monday, December 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: The Linkery, North Park, San Diego, CA

For our 12th anniversary, the husband booked us a table at The Linkery, a hip urban eating establishment in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego.  There are three outstanding features of the restaurant.

  1. They are Farm to Table, using only locally sourced ingredients.  It makes eating paleo pretty easy when you know exactly where the pork is coming from.  
  2. They have a NO TIP policy.  There's an 18% service charge added to EVERY check.  You can read about their policy here.  And honestly, we got THE BEST table service that I've EVER experienced in a restaurant.  I can't wait to go back.
  3. While not everything on the menu is so, they are a VERY paleo-friendly restaurant.
We started our meal with the two-year salt cured ham.  It comes with pickled cucumbers and pickled onions.  It was exceptionally refreshing, salty and briny.  A great way to ease our hunger pains while waiting for our entrees.  



For the main course I ordered the picnic plate which consists of 2 of their house made sausage links, coleslaw (made with housemade mayo), potato salad (again with their housemade mayo) and rye bread. The husband ordered the grass-fed beef burger and added cheese and bacon to it.  His burger came with housemade potato chips and their coleslaw.  For my links, I chose their alsatian and the Minnesota potato.  I totally recommend the Alsatian link.  It wasn't a completely solid link, which I prefer and the flavors combination of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with the locally sourced pork were intoxicating.  The star of the plates were the coleslaw though.  It was light, unlike most coleslaws out there.  The cabbage was crisp and lightly dressed with the housemade mayo.  I'd go back JUST for that coleslaw.  


Hubby's burger
My Picnic Plate












The foodie pleasure continued with dessert.  The husband ordered the oaxacan chocolate ice cream, served with chilled oranges. I ordered the Migas Bark, a dark chocolate bark with bacon and vanilla.  It was absolutely amazing.  I already told the husband that I want him to go back and buy me some for next Valentine's Day.  Nothing says "I love you" like Migas Bark.  




Our tab (with the 18% table service charge) for 1 drink, 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts was about $80.  A bit pricy but completely worth it.  I cannot wait to go back.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paleo Cake Pops

These are so good that a friend who tried them said "You lie! Those cake pops can't be paleo...they taste way too good. Gonna need the recipe for those."  You know it's a good friend when they can compliment you AND accuse you of being a liar at the same time.  But that friend is right, the cake pops I made ARE so good that you'll forget that they won't cause an inflammatory response in your body or cause you to ruin your ketosis.  Unless you're allergic to coconut, in which case I ask how you can possibly be paleo since almost everything I make has a form of coconut in it.



For the base of the cake pops I used the Coconut Chocolate Cake recipe found at civilized caveman cooking creations. I then followed the Cake Pop instructions found at Chewing the Fat with Paleo Brat. For the Chocolate, I used ENJOY LIFE vegan chocolate chips.  

Coconut Chocolate Cake by Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips or Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
  • 1/2 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • Coconut Oil for Grease


Process:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees
  2. Melt your chocolate and coconut milk in a small sauce pan over low heat
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, transfer to a mixing bowl or your stand mixer
  4. Add in your eggs and mix well
  5. Now add in your almond flour, shredded coconut, salt, and baking powder and mix well
  6. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with coconut oil
  7. Transfer your batter to your baking dish and sprinkle with your slivered almonds and some coconut if you would like
  8. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean

How to make Cake Pops from Chew the Fat with Paleo Brat

Ingredients
  • 1 chocolate and/or coconut cake, recipes follow
  • 6 bars dark chocolate, I use Trader Joe's Organic Super Dark Chocolate it is 73% cacao and does NOT contain soy lecithin. 
  • Bamboo skewers, sharp ends trimmed off and cut the skewers in half
  • Chopped almonds
  • Chopped pecans
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Pull chunks off of the cake and roll into 1"-2" balls.  You may need to just eat the edges of the cakes because they may be too dry to hold the shape of the balls :) Place the balls onto a cookie sheet and freeze for at least 15 minutes.   In a double boiler, melt the chocolate over medium heat.  Take one skewer and dip it into the chocolate, about 1/2" down on the stick.  Immediately put a ball on the skewer.
  2. Dip the ball into the melted chocolate, coating it completely (but not leaving it in the hot chocolate too long because it WILL fall off).  Gently tap the skewer on the side of the pan to allow the excess chocolate to drizzle back into the pan.
  3. Roll the cake pop into your desired topping.
  4. Allow the cake pop to cool, and enjoy! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Holiday Recipes Redux


Sorry for the duplicate-looking posts!  I just didn't REALLY finish that previous post before I hit publish and I felt lazy and left it like that.  Sorry!  But here's BOTH recipes that I wanted to share.

I wrote about my pre-Thanksgiving menu a while back and I hope it helped make a few dinners a bit more paleo.  Now that we're halfway through December I need to start planning my Christmas Dinner.  I haven't completely made my choice between a Rib Roast and a Turkey yet.  But regardless, my dinner will also include recipe like these.

Paleo Green Bean Casserole by Fed&Fit.com
I'm ashamed to admit that I did NOT get a picture of this awesome dish that my even awesomer Sister-In-Law made me for Thanksgiving.  I'm the ONLY one in the family that likes Green bean casserole, and she made a paleo version.  That's Family Love right there.  But I can only blame my lack of photographic proof on the fact that I couldn't WAIT to stuff my face hole with it.


Ingredients:
  • 1 lb Fresh Green Beans (I prefer Haricot Vert)
  • 8 oz Roughly Chopped Mushrooms
  • 4 oz Bacon (about 5 large strips)
  • 1 cup Thinly Sliced Yellow Onions
  • 1/2 cup Finely Chopped Shallots
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • ½ cup Almond Meal
  • 1.5 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 3 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  
  3. Drizzle 1 Tbl EVOO on the thinly sliced yellow onions and sprinkle with 1 tsp sea salt.  Massage the EVOO and salt evenly into the onions with your hands.  Spread the onions out on the baking sheet evenly.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F, removing from the oven and stirring/flipping every 10 minutes.  You’re looking for a brown/crispy texture.  [Note: cook for an additional 5+ minutes if they aren’t crispy enough].
  5. Put a large pot of water and salt on high heat and bring to a boil.  Cut the green beans into half and add to the water when it starts boiling.  Boil for 5 minutes then remove from the water and place in a bowl.
  6. Roughly chop the bacon and add to a sauté pan on high heat.  Lightly crisp the bacon then add the chopped shallots.  Once the shallots are slightly clear, add the minced garlic.  After a few minutes, add the mushrooms and continue to stir on medium/high heat.  When the mushrooms have cooked down and have a golden color, remove the entire bacon/scallion/garlic/mushroom mixture and place aside in a separate bowl.
  7. With the heat on medium/low, add 1 Tbl EVOO and 1 cup of the almond milk and stir with a metal whisk.  Add half of the almond meal and whisk until it dissolves.  Carefully add the rest of the almond milk and almond meal, whisking the mixture together over a medium simmer.  Add 2 tsp sea salt and the 2 tsp pepper.  Whisk until the gravy thickens slightly to the texture of heavy cream.
  8. Reduce the heat and add the bacon/mushroom mixture then stir.  Add the green beans to the sauté pan and stir.  Pour the entire mixture into a medium-sized casserole dish.  Cover with aluminum foil & the lid (if you have one) and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.  
  9. Remove the foil/lid and sprinkle the dried onions evenly on top.  Place back in oven for 5 minutes at 350F uncovered.
  10. Enjoy!

Approximate Nutrition Facts:  Serving size: ¾ cup scoop  Makes ~9 servings  170 Calories; 12 g Fat; 
9 g Protein; 1 g Sugar




Paleo Cranberry Sauce

The problem with traditional cranberry sauce is that it is made with an ENORMOUS amount of sugar.  Usually a whole cup for 12 ounces of berries.  And I've tried to replace it in the past (pre-paleo) with Splenda.  It just tastes all wrong.  So this year I did the following and it tasted wonderfully tart and complemented my herbed turkey really well.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup of Orange Juice
  • Honey 
Instructions
1.  Place the cranberries and orange juice into a sauce pan (that you don't mind having to scrub afterwards, this stuff is sticky!)
2.  Heat on high until boiling, then simmer for about 10 minutes.  The cranberries will make alarming popping sounds.  Don't worry, this is supposed to happen.
3.  Let sit for a bit before scooping it into a pretty bowl or storage container.
4.  Enjoy with some honey added to taste to adjust the level of sweetness that you like.  I only added a bit, to help curb the tartness.  I didn't miss the canned gelatinous mass at all.

More Holiday Recipes

I wrote about my pre-Thanksgiving menu a while back and I hope it helped make a few dinners a bit more paleo.  Now that we're halfway through December I need to start planning my Christmas Dinner.  I haven't completely made my choice between a Rib Roast and a Turkey yet.  But regardless, my dinner will also include recipe like these.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

The problem with traditional cranberry sauce is that it is made with an ENORMOUS amount of sugar.  Usually a whole cup for 12 ounces of berries.  And I've tried to replace it in the past (pre-paleo) with Splenda.  It just tastes all wrong.  So this year I did the following and it tasted wonderfully tart and complemented my herbed turkey really well.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup of Orange Juice
  • Honey 
Instructions
1.  Place the cranberries and orange juice into a sauce pan (that you don't mind having to scrub afterwards, this stuff is sticky!)
2.  Heat on high until boiling, then simmer for about 10 minutes.  The cranberries will make alarming popping sounds.  Don't worry, this is supposed to happen.  
3.  Let sit for a bit before scooping it into a pretty bowl or storage container.
4.  Enjoy with some honey added to taste to adjust the level of sweetness that you like.  I only added a bit, to help curb the tartness.  I didn't miss the canned gelatinous mass at all.





-southern style green beans
- green bean casserole


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flaxseed crackers

Crunchy.  Salty.  Dippable.  I totally miss chips when I'm paleo.  Actually, what I miss is dipping chips into things.  Salsa, guacamole, french onion dip . . . And it seems like where theres a holiday party, there are dips.  Some are totally paleo friendly, like baba ganoush, and go great with crudités (aka carrots and celery).  But salsa on carrots is lame.  You NEED something thin and salty to transport that cilantro-y goodness to your mouth.  That's where Flaxseed Crackers come in.

I first had flaxseed crackers at a dessert spot in San Diego called Extraordinary Desserts.  The Little Italy location has a savory menu as well and a well rounded Gluten Free and Dairy free menu.  Usually if an item is both gluten free AND dairy free, it's pretty close to being paleo.  I ordered the flaxseed crackers and the basil-walnut pesto.  They were mind blowing good.  I came home determined to recreate them.  Luckily I had purchased the Caveman Feast Cooking e-book, by George of Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations fame.  The walnut-basil pesto recipe in that book is IDENTICAL to the one at the restaurant.  I'd give you that recipe, but honestly, I think you should also purchase that cookbook.  The NY Marinade in it is COMPLETELY worth the cost of the book, as well as all the other wonderful recipes in it.

I know, that's totally mean of me to rave about the pesto and not share the recipe.  But I WILL share the flaxseed cracker recipe with you.  And then you can go purchase the cookbook OR ask Santa to bring it to you.


Raw Savory Flaxseed Crackers 
Don't mind the Target Receipt.  Hey,
It's the holidays, I shop a lot now
from Cooking with Trader Joe's


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole raw flaxseed (not a TJ's item)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 Roma tomatoes (or 1 cup of heirloom tomatoes if it’s summertime and your TJ's carries them!)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • 1. Soak the flaxseed in the water for 30 minutes (at which point it will have become completely gelatinous.).
  • 2. While the flaxseed is soaking, place the tomatoes, basil, garlic and salt in a blender and puree. When the flaxseed is ready, add the contents of the bowl and the olive oil to the blender and give a few short bursts to combine everything.
  • 3. Take 2 cookie sheets and cover with foil. Spray or rub olive oil on the cookie sheets—do not skip this step or your crackers will permanently adhere to the foil.
  • (note: I use the Reynolds NON-STICK wrap and NO oil is needed.  That stuff is AMAZING!)
  • 4. Drop half the mixture onto the foil on each cookie sheets. Wet your hand and then spread the mixture as flat and thin as you can, rewetting your hand as needed to make spreading the sticky mixture easier.
  • 5. Place the cookie sheets in the oven at 170 degrees. In about 2 hours, the top of the cracker will have dried out. You should be able to loosen the edges of the flax crackers and flip the entire sheet and replace on the cookie sheet backside up. (If you can't peel the crackers off the foil, don't sweat it. Just leave it as is, or try again in another hour.) Turn the oven down to 150 degrees and leave it for about 8 hours. 
  • (Note:  My oven is OLD.  It doesn't go lower than 200 degrees.  Upon experimentation I found that 200 degrees for 2 hours was enough to completely dehydrate the flaxseed.  I check it around the 1 hour mark and flip it.  If its still too wet, I leave it in for an extra half hour before flipping it)
  • By then, the crackers should be completely dehydrated and stiff. Cool completely, remove from foil, break into smaller pieces, and store in a plastic bag. It should be fine for a couple of weeks. Serve with dips, tapenades, cheeses, or just by itself.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

120 Days and a Reminder



I celebrated being 120 days Paleo on December 7th.  I then proceeded to fall SO FAR OFF the paleo wagon that I really feel like I don't deserve a celebratory post.  A cookie party, followed by my husband's Christmas Party, followed by a wedding, followed by my husband's catered re-enlistment reception, all wrapped up in eating on the road to and from LA.  I SHOULD give myself some slack.  It's the holiday season, where MOST people fall off their diet.  It was also one incredibly busy weekend, and I am definitely thankful that if I was going to be at THAT many catered events that they happened all at once.  I tried to stay away from Dairy and Legumes, since those would have made being social really impossible (yes that's a a reference to being gassy).  But I definitely indulged in wheat, and corn (with some AMAZING TAMALES) and sugar.  For my celebratory drinking I stuck with red wine and tequila.  But I still gained 5 pounds, and have terrible GI and bloating problems.  Some Dairy snuck through in the form of a guacamole "dip" that I think was probably made with sour cream.  I had a pretty bad asthma attack last night.

Lesson Learned Paleo, Lesson Learned.

So I think after this weekend, I need a reminder of WHAT Paleo is, and what it isn't.

A good friend of mine reminded me that the best place to start is at the Nerd Fitness article
"The Beginner's Guide to the Paleo Diet".  Legos make everything simpler.

Paleo is:

  • NO grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts), processed oils (corn, vegetable, canola, soy), refined sugars, dairy (for me), starchy vegetables (like corn or white potatoes).
  • Permission to eat bacon (its not really, but it sure feels like it is)
  • An excuse to enjoy Meat, Poultry, fish, tree nuts, fruits and vegetables, eggs, good oils (olive oil, avocadoes), seeds (flax, chia, sunflower), and tubers like sweet potatoes and yams.
  • A chance to stretch and grow as a cook.
I'm going to essentially start over and take this week one day at a time.  Hopefully by Friday I'll be back on track, have dropped these extra 5 pounds and will feel MUCH better.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trial Run for a A Paleo Thanksgiving

Looks like Thanksgiving


For Thanksgiving this year, my little family will be traveling to join the big family to celebrate.  I'll admit that the idea of a road trip combined with a holiday centered around stuffing yourself with "once a year" foods has me anxious.  It is difficult to be Paleo on the Road.  I'm trying to be optimistic, afterall it'll be GREAT fodder for the blog.  I'm also determined to work on some family favorites, to alter them to be paleo and still be acceptable to my non-paleo family.

My new toy

On Monday, since I couldn't really walk due to the fact that I'd run a half marathon the day before, I cooked.  Almost all day.  It's what you do when you have a day off due to a National Holiday but can't really walk without grimacing.  So I did a trial run for Thanksgiving.  I made a 10lb turkey in my new 18qt Electric Roaster, tried the Paleo Stuffing from Julian Bakery, and just because I found the ingredients at my local Sprouts I made Caveman Cooking Creation's Almond Coconut Chocolate Drops.

roasted breast side down
The turkey came out SO great!  You can find the recipe at CookingCaveman.com.  The only changes I made were to mix my olive oil and herbs together to make a wet rub.  I'm a bit infatuated with wet rubs for poultry.  I'm just never convinced that herbs sprinkled on top of olive oil or butter will STAY long enough to infuse the meat with flavor.

fail
The stuffing was good, but not great.  I burnt my first attempt at making bread crumbs from the Julian Bakery's Paleo breads.  The second attempt was a success, but when making the stuffing I should have been less afraid to add MORE broth when asked.  The taste was GREAT, especially for my first meat based stuffing recipe, although the breadcrumbs were dry.  That recipe can be found at the blog for the Julian Bakery.

These are good right out
of the bag!
For "dessert", I made the Caveman Cooking Creations' Almond Coconut Chocolate Drops.  I had stumbled upon the ENJOY LIFE vegan chocolate chips that this recipe needs at my local Sprouts. They were on sale 2 for $7!  So I snagged a bag and then giddily bought almond butter, knowing that this recipe was about to happen.  These definitely benefit from a SOLID almond butter.  Mine was room temperature and a bit runny.  So when I tried shaping the balls they flattened out to more of a disk.  That did NOT stop me form enjoying them immensely.  SO good!  And easy!

I'll be doing another trial run of Thanksgiving dishes this weekend.  Up next is a paleo version of Southern-style green beans and cranberry relish!

When life hands you a neck bone,
make broth!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Running to make a Difference

Runners are selfish people.  We run to get thin.  We run to get "me" time.  We run for glory, for medals, for prizes.  But we can also be the most UNSELFISH people too.  In 2013, my hubby will be running the LA Marathon as part of Team Autism Heroes, a team for Train 4 Autism San Diego.  He plans to run 510 miles when the milage for training and the race are totalled.  Please consider helping him get to his goal of $510 ($1 for every mile run towards this goal) by making a donation at his 
Runners making a difference by doing what we love.

Paleo and Running: what has it done for me?


"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face."
                                          --Eleanor Roosevelt


My 6th half marathon was the Silver Strand Half marathon.  It was also my second half marathon that I've run paleo.  I've been asked what being Paleo has done for my running.  I initially chose to start paleo for weight loss and to help with recovery.  I had heard that there were elite runners, like Dean Karnazes, who also run Paleo.  So for more than 90 days now, I've followed the restrictions of the Paleo diet: No soy, dairy, legumes, processed grains or sugars or oils.  And I have seen a difference.  

My legs felt incredibly strong on race day.  I had also included hillwork in the last 3 weeks (after half marathon 5, the San Jose Rock N Roll) so I'm sure that training helped build muscle in my legs.  I attribute the quick recovery and increase muscle growth to paleo though.  Its difficult to NOT be high protein on a diet based on fat burning.  

The high fiber, high water content that comes with eating a diet of whole foods, ensured that I was also well-hydrated on race day.  Dehydration can be such a huge factor in race day performance.

Knowing that my diet was well-balanced and HEALTHY led to a confidence that makes the biggest difference.  I didn't wonder if what I had eaten in the days before would lead to GI distress on race day.  Poor diet mixed with nerves can be a terrible combination when you're trying to run your best race.  You don't want to be stopping at every single port-a-potty on the course.  The paleo diet purposely eliminates all foods that can cause irritation and bloating.

Today is the second day after the race and I feel great.  I do have muscle soreness, but my legs feel STRONG.  This is in direct opposition to the halfs that I've run where my muscles are literally DYING because they were consumed in the effort.

I hope that my experience allows anyone who is considering to run paleo to feel confident that others have had positive experiences.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Race Review: Silver Strand Half Marathon

The Silver Strand Half Marathon - November 11, 2012

  • Location: From Sunset Park in Coronado to Imperial Beach Pier
  • Distance: 13.1 miles
  • Surface: paved highway, city roads

I'm spending today gingerly lowering myself onto toilets, and grimacing every time I go up stairs.  But I'm also glowing with accomplishment and pride for having completed my 6th half marathon.  It was a great race for lots of reasons: The last half marathon in San Diego for the year, running it with some dear running friends, planning to have my family at the finish line for the first time.  Emotionally, it was a great race to wrap up 2012.  

Running with friends 

Even from a Runner's perspective though, it's STILL a great race.  
The sign up was easy, and two weeks before the race they sent a confirmation through the mail!  I don't think I've ever had a race send me the race day instructions in the mail before.  It was oddly sweet.  The parking was the most complicated part of the sign up.  You had 4 options for parking.  Since it's a point-to-point race you could either park at the start, park at the finish or be dropped off.  Having to make a decision WEEKS (or in my case MONTHS) before the race about parking was a little confusing.  The packet pickup at Road Runner Sports was efficient and quick.  The tech tee race shirt was of a good quality (although I'm not a fan of gender neutral shirts).  

The day of the Silver Strand came after 3 days of rainy weather.  This being San Diego, it kind of wigged most of us out and we had debates over what we were going to wear.  I decided on the "Ultra runners" uniform: split leg shorts with clothes to keep my core warm.  I had my Girls on The Go tech tee, my Sugoi sleeves and my new Nike runner's gloves.  I was definitely chilly when I got to the start area but as the sun came up I was fine.

The start area was well set up.  It was obvious where gear check was, and race day registration, and the port a potties.  I was glad that they offered gear check!  It seems like a lot of races aren't offering that perk anymore.  I like being able to have my favorite post-race treats (Honey Stinger Chews and Cherry Juice) at the end of a race.  The race announcer was easy to hear, and had lots of jokes, especially for those who had mistakenly come north for the 5k instead of being about 10 miles south!  The race did start a few minutes late, but once it did, the small crowd of 4500 went across the timing mats pretty quickly.  I started as far back as I would let myself, and it only took me 3 minutes to cross the start mat.  

So flat!
The course was one I was mostly familiar with.  I run the Silver Strand as part of my training runs. It's flat, and although its a bit windy, it's fast.  The majority of the course was run on the Silver Strand Highway and was indeed flat.  There were only 3 inclines, a bridge over wetlands, a slight uphill into residential homes and a long incline inside the Weapons Station.  Nothing that a little extra arm pumping and a good attitude can't handle, even at mile 10.  There was a bit of cambering to the highway, which I hadn't expected (having run only on the bike trails on the northbound side of the highway) but there was always a flat spot to be found.

The aid stations were excellent and well manned by volunteers.  They were stationed about every 1.5 miles of the course, usually right when I'd need them.  The volunteers seemed to consist mostly of high school or college students, and they were cheerful and encouraging the whole way.  They appreciated when I cracked my "Who's got the GLUTEN FREE water?" joke.  Or at least pretended to.  They offered energy chews at mile 6, which I chose not to take.  I carry my own fuel with me.

Every race has its challenge, and in the Silver Strand it has to be the miles 10-12, where you run into the Naval Weapons Station in Imperial Beach, and run a 2 mile switchback.  I had the benefit of running into my friends as they finished the switchback during my mile 11.  Having to run 1 mile out, only to run 1 mile back is definitely mentally difficult when you're so close to the finish.  Throw one of the only hills on the course into that mix and its a killer challenge.  We don't earn a medal for it being easy though! 

My amazing friend Dave volunteered at the Finish Line so he could award me my medal.  

You know its a great race when by mile 9 you're already thinking that you want to run it again next year.  I like the sentiment of the race, that its the LAST half marathon in San Diego for the year.  A nice bow to put on your accomplishments.  I'll be back Silver Strand, after I run some more hills, and I'll finish you faster.  


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Count Down to the Silver Strand Half Marathon: One Day left

The word of the day is HYDRATION.  Everyone say it with me: Hy-Dray-Shun.  The day before a big race, I make sure that I am NOT dehydrated.  So T-minus 1 day means I'm in the bathroom a lot.  But it's okay, because I'd rather be in the bathroom today than stopping for port-a-potties throughout the race tomorrow.  Some of you may wonder at that last sentence.  Hydrating the cells in my body, making sure my fluid levels are adequate today means that I will NOT feel as thirsty tomorrow.  The feeling of THIRST actually means you're already dehydrated.  Thirst triggers a need to drink, and what happens next is a need to eliminate.  And THAT means stopping at port-a-potties, with long lines at Aid station #1.

Of course I still hydrate while I run.  A good rule of thumb is 1 ounces for every mile that you're running.  I tend to sip on my hand bottle as I run along, keeping my mouth from getting dry and keeping my body temperature regulated.

I will warn you against hydrating TOO much.  You can flush all the electrolytes that your body needs to make your muscles function properly.  You'll experience cramping and bloating if you drink too much.  And while I'd love to give you a guideline on how MUCH to drink, it's really dependent on a person's individual hydration needs.  As long as your urine stays light colored all day, you're drinking enough.  Avoiding things like soda and other caffeinated drinks will help you manage your hydration.

Besides hydrating, I also ate THE BEST pumpkin waffles for breakfast (with a side of sweet potato).  My best friend (FOREVER), who is just ocmpleting her first 30 days of paleo sent me this recipe.  It's incredible that it doesn't contain flour, because the pancakes REALLY have that familiar pancake texture.
Last day of taper means pancakes!

PUMPKIN WAFFLES

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (plus a little extra to grease the skillet)
Directions
1. Whisk the eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and honey together.  Sift the spices and baking soda into the wet ingredients.
2. Melt the coconut oil and mix into batter
3.  Grease the skillet and spoon the batter in.  When a few bubbles appear and the edges get firm, flip the pancakes once to finish cooking.
4.  Serve immediately   

So yummy, and such a great way to end my carbo load.  For the rest of the day I snacked on nuts, and kale chips and I had roast chicken and mustard wraps.  For Dinner we're having turkey burgers with bacon, avocado and tomato, wrapped in lettuce.  I try to eat light foods, more fiber to help my digestion before tomorrow's race.

For everyone who's running tomorrow, GOOD LUCK!  Maybe I'll see you at the Finish Line!