Wednesday, October 31, 2012

HAPPY PALEO-WEEN!

May you all be released from your guilty conscious' after
eating copious amounts of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
Image Originally shared by CCCC

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Massage for Runners

I promised I'd come back and give you my opinion of massage for runners after I got my first one.  I was fortunate to have received a complimentary 1 hour massage from San Diego Spine and Rehab from a 5k I had done earlier in the year.  After running 10 miles of hills on Sunday, I figured what better time to get a massage than when I could hardly walk due to tight hip flexors.

San Diego Spine and Rehab is NOT a "Spa".  You don't walk in to an elegantly decorated foyer with piano music tinkling in the background.  It's a medical treatment facility, where they provide rehab and theraputic treatments.  Being a runner doesn't mean that I forgo girlie stuff, but my inner runner was glad that this seemed like a place where they'd KNOW how to treat my muscles.

After an initial interview with a licensed physician (who tried to sell me on getting chiropractic exams and treatments) I was taken back for my massage.  It was definitely a painful experience.  After a few questions about my activity level and where I exprience pain she started up at my neck and shoulders.  From there she moved down to my glutes and legs.  The massage therapist informed me that my Ilotibial Bands (IT bands) were tight and she proved it as she manipulated my muscles.  I didn't even I had any overly tight muscles until she proved otherwise.

I didn't run today because I had run the three previous days in a row.  But I do think that I'd be much more sore and gimpy from my 10-mile run had I not gone to get a massage.  Despite the pain and the soreness from the areas she worked extra hard, I've already booked my second appointment for the day after the Silver Stand Half Marathon.  Hopefully, these treatments will help my overall recover and in the end, help me PR in at least one of my races this season.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How I stayed paleo on a busy weekend

Anyone else surrounded by candy and Halloween treats?  Man, do I want a Twix right now.  But I'm gonna stay strong, although I promised myself a mini-binge ON Halloween.  After all, who else is going to eat the Almond Joys and Mounds bars that my kids hate?  (Hey, Coconut, almonds and chocolate are paleo)

This was the last weekend before Halloween, so of course it was crammed full of parties and events. On Saturday, my 11 year old and I ran the Spooktacular 5k.  We were the cute mommy/son pair dressed as Superman and Super girl.  This was the inaugural race and I hope they run it every year.  Lake Murray is am awesome location, with gentle rolling hills that provide a challenge for those who make 5ks their preferred distance.  The medals and bibs were adorable.  There was such a great turnout of costumed runners too!  A decent sized vendor fair, with 2 races and a few local businesses represented.  I'll definitely run this again.

We followed up the race with a Halloween party for military families at the Harley-Davidson of San Diego.  Put on by the USO, they offered BBQ, games and trick-or-treating.  I knew that BBQ meant hot dogs or hamburgers, probably chips or beans too.  So with mine and my son's special dietary needs, we just bypassed the "free" lunch and I let the boy choose McDonald's for his awesome effort at the 5k.  I find that being paleo, I have to skip meals at events often.  I have had luck calling ahead and asking for a special meal.  But only when its an event that I've had to pay for my dinner.  I've also found that being paleo, places like McDonalds are NOT a fun option.  Even their healthiest options, the salads and wraps, contain CHEESE and LEGUMES.  So I have to be prepared to do some doctoring.  I order the bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken.  I have to painstakingly remove ALL the cheese from the salad.  If I'm lucky, the preparer has clumped it all together.  Ironically, this is something I HATED before I was paleo.  Then, I make sure to bring an avocado with me and instead of dressing, I cut up my avocado and add it to my salad.  I like to mash it with a bit of salt.  Yes, it takes me forever to start eating, but I'm MUCH happier with my lunch this way.

We got a short respite from Halloween events and during that time I ate an early dinner.  I tried the Coconut Chicken Curry from Fitzee Foods and coupled it with some Coconut Paleo bread from Julian Bakery.  It's nice to have some pre-made meals that are ready when I'm hungry on busy days like that.  We would shortly head off to an elementary school Halloween Carnival where my family would indulge in pizza, nachos, pretzels, popcorn and soda.  I was able to resist temptation by eating ahead of time.

I made sure to hydrate throughout that busy saturday because the next morning I got up to run a distance runs on hills.  I am committed to besting my PR of 2:48:24 at my next half marathon.  That means hill workouts!  I did 10 miles at a 15 min pace.  Slow, yes, but man did my hip flexors get a workout!  That means that my run did exactly what I wanted it to do.  I did get to refuel with a carne asada burrito, but the only non-paleo thing in it was the tortilla itself.

Paleo on a busy family weekend is completely possible.  You just need to pre-plan, have meals ready to go and be flexible when you're dining out.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Paleo Product Reviews: I try, so you don't have to!

Robb Wolf recently posted about the Seven Shades of Paleo on his blog.  You can read more in depth about this humorous, yet true, categorizing of Paleo Diet followers through the link.  The categories are as follows: The Militant Paleo, The Autoimmune Paleo, The Low-Carb Paleo, The Lacto-Paleo, The 80/20 Paleo, The Vegetarian Paleo, and The "I decide" Paleo.  That last one cracks me up.  

The Militant Paleo group  "...hunt their own meat, gather berries, climb trees to harvest nuts, and make dinner outside over the fire pit...".  That's just crazy, in my opinion.  That's darn right IMPOSSIBLE in modern times.  I'm a busy mom of two, and dedicated to having time to blog as well.  That means that sometimes I want easy solutions for Paleo problems.  That's where Paleo-Friendly Pre-packaged food comes in.  I already covered some of my favorite snacks in my post about Paleo To Go.  Now that I'm firmly entrenched in this eating lifestyle though, I'm starting to reach out for foods that supplement my expanding paleo culinary skills.  Recently I've tried several products and services that I thought I'd share with you.

House Foods Shirataki Noodles -  These noodles are a WIN!  Low carb and made from the Konjac plant, sometimes known as a japanese yam.  These are completely paleo safe and a good alternative for those who miss "real" noodles.  I reccomend Dry-frying them (no oils in a non-stick pan) to rid them of their slimy texture.  They'd be great in paleo stir-fry and paleo pho recipes.  I used them to make Paleo Spaghetti.               


Fitzee Foods - This is a San Diego based pre-packaged meal company that labels their products as "ideal Meals to fit your lifestyle".  The idea is great.  Pre-packaged, pre-portioned meals for those people who are too busy or cannot cook for themselves.  They list "Paleo Friendly" meals on their website.  I was very excited to try them and purchased all the available meals from their "Paleo Friendly" freezer.  This experience is a DRAW for me.  I got the meals home only to find that their meals are "Paleo Inspired" and that they use some lentils and red potatoes in a few of their "Paleo" meals.  I'm not a MILITANT paleo, but I don't think you should label something paleo if it's NOT paleo.  On the plus side, the experience of buying the food was easy and quick.  Like shopping at a REALLY healthy 7-11.  They are located in Point Loma, which is a hike for me, but they do have pickup locations all over San Diego. And they allowed me to exchange the meals I couldn't eat for ones that I could.   I've now eaten the Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and the  JKing’s Chicken Cacciatore.  The Steak was way better than I expected.  The sauce was tasty and the steak and brussels sprouts held up well to storage.  The chicken cacciatore was disappointing   very little chicken, and the sauce was very thin and runny.  Pros: the food was tasty, the ability to have pre-made paleo meals without cooking for an hour, good customer service  Cons: not completely paleo friendly, and a bit pricey.  As a stay-at-home mom and an amateur chef, I usually have the time to cook for myself.  




Julian Bakery Paleo Breads - WIN!  These breads are made with Purified Water, Blanched Almond or coconut Flour, Egg Whites, Psyllium, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda.  If you were expecting a fluffy, airy bread, you'll be disappointed   But the chewy, light texture reminds me of bagels and they're sturdy enough for sandwiches.  No crumbling!  Both breads are delicious and I totally recommend them!  $7.99 for a loaf.  I cannot wait to put together some recipe using these breads.  


Is there a paleo product that you're REALLY curious about?  Let me know about it!  I'll test it and review it so you don't have to!






Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Favorite Race Gear

The night before a race is fraught with anxiety and excitement.  Did I eat right?  Hydrate enough? Has my training been adequate? DID I FORGET ANYTHING???

 Brooks put out this adorable checklist for race day, but I have my specific FAVORITE race day items that I HAVE to have.  I'd feel naked without them at the Start Line.

My Favorite Race Day Gear:

1. Brooks Glycerin 9 - This is an older model of the Glycerin 9s.  And they are my favorite shoe.  I buy them at clearance sales or at once worn sales.  I ALWAYS have a "new" pair waiting for when I've worn down my current pair.  To find YOUR favorite show, you should go to a running store where they offer you a personal fitting.  Yes, they cost twice as much as nikes from a shoe store.  But you're paying for the expertise and the gaurantee that you're running in a shoe that is made for your foot and running style.  Good fit = Less injury!
I love my shoes

2. Glide - This is a skin lubrication to prevent friction and the heat and pain that come with friction.  If you're new to running I reccomend investing in a tube of this.  It makes a WORLD of difference.  I put in on the entire bottom of my feet and sometimes at the waistband of my pants.  Many women need it for chafing that happens from sportsbras and men use it on their nipples to prevent those dreaded RED badges of courage.

3. And while we're on the topic of lubrication: CHAPSTICK.  I'm a mouth breather when I run.  It helps me maximize oxygen intake.  I don't care that I sound like a freight train coming up behind you.  It should just make you run faster.  I'm pretty sure I've helped people PR just because they didn't want to listen to me.  But chapstick protects my lips from the sun as well as from the effects of 3 hours of mouth breathing.

This belt has saved my
phone more than once
4.  iFitness Belt - I bought my first ifitness belt in Hawaii at the expo for the Diva Half marathon.  Bucking all race wisdom about NOT using brand new equipment on race day, I was so glad I had it.  The day was so hot and humid that in order to finish 13.1 miles I had to continuous;y dump water on myself.  My phone, tucked into the waterproof belt, survived!  I love my iFitness and now have several.     They all have a handy bib holders too, which mean NO safety pin holes in your favorite tech tees!

Can't run without a
bondi Band headband!
5.  Bondi Band Headbands - I LOVE LOVE LOVE this product!  The sweat wicking ones definitely live up to their promise!  I can run without getting sweat in my eyes and they are SUPER cute, with images and sayings for every runner.  

If you have a piece of essential gear, please share it with me!  I'm always looking for new ways to make race day and training more comfortable.  The better you feel on race day, the better you perform!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

NOODLES!!!!

Can a packaged product
make you happy? I say YES!
Like my enthusiastic title?  Really that's all I can think right now because I just ate noodles.  Real noodles.  Not spaghetti squash, not strips of vegetables.  REAL NOODLES.  And yes, my Paleo is still intact thanks to House Foods Shirataki noodles.  I grew up eating these in meals like sukiyaki and they were my favorite part of the meal, besides the tofu and cabbage and meat . . . and well sukiyaki has to be one of my favorite all time meals.  But besides with asian flavors and in pho (which I've never had but plan to have someday) what ELSE could I do with these noodles?  There aren't many paleo recipes out there using them.  A lot of people have issues with the fishy smell (which goes away upon rinsing and heating) and the texture.  They're closer to a rice noodle (think chicken long rice) than a wheat noodle.  They've got a gelatin-like texture that may turn people off.  BUT I think the act of twirling tomato sauced noodles around a fork may be enough to get people to try it.  So, I set about to making myself SPAGHETTI using shirataki noodles today.  And I succeeded.  And you all get to benefit from my experimentation.

I found my noodles in the refrigerator section of my SPROUTS market.  Any whole foods should carry it, and if not, asian markets are guaranteed to have them. Just make sure you don't buy the TOFU Shirataki.  Tofu is SOY, which is a legume, which is NOT paleo.  Also, for weight loss purposes, the yam-based shirataki has ZERO calories.  The Tofu ones do.  Shall I repeat that again?  ZERO CALORIES people and I am incredibly full from lunch.

Closest thing to REAL spaghetti 

Shirataki Spaghetti with Roasted Chicken
serves 1 cook time: 15 minutes

waiting for them to "crackle"
Ingredients

  • 1 pkg House foods shirataki noodles 
  • 2 oz roasted chicken
  • 2 tsp bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper
Directions:
mmmm sauce
  1. Open and rinse the shirataki noodles.  You just want to get rid of most of the fishy smell.
  2. Using a NONSTICK pan, dry fry (NO OIL) the noodles on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  They're not going to get crispy, but they won't be as clear or slimy.  They'll start to crackle when they're almost done.  Remove noodles to a plate.
  3. Heat up oil/grease in your pan on medium heat.  Add onions, garlic and tomatoes and fry for about 5 minutes.  The onions and garlic should be soft.  
  4. Add tomato paste and herbs, and fry for about 2 minutes.  
  5. Add the chicken stock and heat for about 1 minute.
  6. Add the noodles into the pan and mix well.  Plate and serve topped with the roasted chicken.  
Nutritional information:  190 calories, 3.8g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 57.3 mg cholesterol, 900mg sodium, 31.6g carbs, 13.6 g fiber, 18.8g protein

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Favorite Paleo recipes: Apple - Dijon Burgers

Two events collided this weekend to point me in the direction of the BEST BURGER RECIPE EVER.  Yes, I realize I shouted that.  If you were here in person you would have actually heard my enthusiasm for this burger recipe.  Event #1: On saturday I picked up my order from Golden Share Foods.  It's "Southern California's largest LOCAL food cooperative".  While the meats are not technically paleo since they aren't grass fed beef and free range chicken, it is REALLY REALLY cost effective and it alleviates me from having to search the ads for meat sales for about 2 weeks out of every month.  I totally recommend using this program.  Event #2: I took the kids Apple Picking while Hubby was trying to survive the Run For Your Lives, a zombie infested 5k obstacle course.  So the kids and I picked probably 10 pounds of apples and you can only eat SO many before you're bribing the children to "eat just one more, for mommy?"  I needed to find recipes to cook them in.  And lo and behold there was the Apple Dijon Burger recipe from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations.  These burger patties are a bit crumbly, best eaten with a fork rather than in an unstable lettuce "bun".  But they are SO good.  The apples, onion and dijon mustard give them almost an asian flavor which I just adore.  I made these on Saturday, and lucky for the hubby, I'm making them AGAIN tonight because I love them that much.  


My slave labor, I mean, the kids had fun picking apples!


APPLE - DIJON BURGERS
serves 4 cook time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:
  • 1 Lb Grass-Fed Beef
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Apple
  • 1/3 Cup Minced Red Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Egg
Process:
   
  1. Place all the above ingredients except the egg in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Use your hand to form 4 even size burgers.
  3. Have your grill on medium heat (350-400 Degrees F) and grill for approximately 5-6 minutes per side or until done to your liking.
  4. Once you place your burgers on the grill, fry your egg in bacon fat on the stove and set aside.
  5. You can now plate your burgers how you see fit.  I used romaine lettuce as a base. The Civilized Caveman suggests serving the burger with grilled onions, and topped with the fried Egg. I ate mine topped with guacamole and tomatoes.  
  6. Enjoy
Nutritional Info: 381calories, 30.1g fat, 12.2 g sat fat, 96.4mg cholesterol, 458.4 mg sodium, 6.9g carbs, 1.6g fiber, 19g protein






Sunday, October 21, 2012

She Runs Paleo . . . with Friends

The Cupcake Classic Crew
One of the most wonderful things about running is the friends I've made through it.  I am constantly motivated by their successes and struggles and I am proud to have inspired some to take up running.  Today I took part in the CUPCAKE CLASSIC 5k.  This was a virtual race put on by Run with Jess, where you simply had to run a 5k (3.1 miles) anywhere, anytime during the allotted time frame.  I run a similar monthly race for my Facebook 5kers group, which you are free to join in.  I offer prizes like Jess, but at a MUCH smaller level.  

Paleo cupcakes!!!

My dear friend Amanda organized our little local Cupcake Classic and we convinced her that we needed to have a potluck post-run feast.  Amanda is an AMAZING baker, and promised to make me paleo cupcakes.  I held my breath, hoping for the best but not knowing what to expect from a paleo dessert.  (I know, I'm on day 73 of the Paleo Diet and hadn't tried to replicate desserts???  What can I say, I'm not a sweets person)

Race day greeted us with RAIN.  I live in San Diego, rain doesn't happen.  Except on days that I promise my children that if they run 3.1 miles with Mommy they'll earn themselves both a shiny medal AND a plate of Miss Amanda's cupcakes.  I'm happy to say that my kids take after their mommy and the rain didn't bother them one bit. 

Amanda had plotted out a 5k course for us from her house to beautiful Mission Bay.  It was a quick run, and everyone did SO well!  We had 16 people show up to run with us, making it feel like a REAL race event.  


The post-race feast was great.  Amanda never does anything on a small scale and had made 5 different kinds of cupcakes, including MY paleo cupcakes.  I also made sure to bring protein in the form of Bacon-Egg Cups and I also brought apples from the Apple Picking trip my kids and I went on.  It's easy to stay paleo when you have thoughtful friends.  


I'm sharing the recipes from the party below.  I certainly hope all runners have a group of runner friends that will laugh with you when you tell them tales from race day and give you advice when you struggle.  I'd be nothing if it weren't for the support from these wonderful people.  

Today's Paleo Goodies can be found here:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Paleo Recipe Makeover: Cider-glazed Chicken

You must be feeling pretty lucky that I've made over two recipes in a row.  Yeah, I'm giving like that.  Sometimes the well is dry and I don't come across ANY recipes that are paleo or can be made over for weeks.  It probably doesn't help that all my food searches have been for "grilled cheese".  But then the internet gods send me a sign that I need to stay Paleo (for my health, for my recovery, to improve my running) by sending me TWO recipes in my inbox.  The first was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup from yesterday.  The other was Cider-Glazed Chicken with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice.  I did not attempt to paleo-ize the rice, but the Chicken glaze was already mostly paleo.  I just simply made a substitution of bacon grease for the butter.  If you are primal, or lacto-paleo, you can totally leave the glaze as it is in the original recipe.


trying to do fancy plating
CIDER-GLAZED CHICKEN

serves 4  cook time: 15 minutes


Ingredients

  • 1 tsp bacon grease or coconut oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets (about 4 cutlets) 
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated apple cider 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

simple ingredients 

Preparation


  1. 1. Melt 1 teaspoon fat/oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. 2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  3. 3. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. 
  4. 4. Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until syrupy. 
  5. 5. Add chicken to pan, turning to coat. Serve while hot. 
nutritional information: 150 cals, 2.5g fat, 0.8g sat fat, 66.8mg chol, 542.3mg sodium, 3.7g carbs, 0.1g fiber, 26.2g protein



Friday, October 19, 2012

Paleo Recipe Makeover: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I've been a "foodie" for a while now, since I've been able to eat solids at 6 months old.  I've always loved to eat, and cooking was always fun but in recent years I've really put effort into making food that isn't just hamburger helper on a plate.  My kids are older now, and my daughter is especially adventurous when it comes to food.  So I'm a little more free to experiment with new tastes and flavors in the kitchen.  Paleo has just added to that need for innovation.  I don't want to be eating just grilled meat and roasted veggies all the darn time.  I do miss the artisan breads and gourmet cheeses.  I just hold out for when one of my favorite food bloggers puts out a recipe that either Paleo or just Paleo enough that I can tweak it to be so.

Imagine my delight when how sweet it is posted a recipe of for creamy cauliflower soup!  I knew from the name that the recipe would have dairy in it, but I've fallen in LOVE with canned coconut milk and its ability to BE milk or half-n-half or cream in a recipe.  And if you haven't tried it yet, put a tablespoon in your coffee.  It's like a little bit of heaven in the morning.  Her recipe is actually a makeover of a recipe from Bon Appetit, which makes it a Makeover Times Two.  So I took the recipe and paleo-ized it, replacing butter for fat, and coconut milk for the half-n-half.  If you are PRIMAL or lacto-paleo, the original recipe fits your lifestyle and can be found here.  If you're strict paleo, then you can follow my made over recipe.

Ingredients for Nom Soup
Paleo-style Creamy Cauliflower Soup





YIELD: SERVES ABOUT 4
 
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES
 
COOK TIME: 45 MINUTES
 
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR

ingredients:

1 sweet onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons ghee or bacon grease
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cups capers, patted completely dry
salt and pepper to taste

ingredients for chive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

directions:

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and 1 tablespoon fat, then add onions with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in chopped cauliflower and vegetable stock, then cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until softened. A few times during cooking, use your spoon to press down and break apart or mash the cauliflower.
Making the chive oil was a
fun new experience!
While cauliflower is cooking, make the chive oil. Combine the chives and olive oil in a blender or food processer and blend until totally smooth. If needed, you can strain the oil thru a very fine mesh strainer. To fry the capers, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Add dry capers and shake the pan or stir, tossing for 1-2 minutes until crispy and fried. Set aside to drain on a paper towel.
Once the cauliflower is soft, you can a) scoop it (and all the remaining broth) into a large bowl. Add half of the mixture to a blender with half cup of water and puree until smooth. Once smooth, add back to the pot and puree the remaining cauliflower mixture with the other half cup of water. Add to the rest. OR b) add the 1 cup of water and use a hand blender in your pot.  
Heat over low heat, stirring in coconut milk. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then garnish with capers and chive oil.
Nutrition: 143 cal, 7.7g fat, 1.8g sat fat, 3.1mg chol, 777.3mg sodium, 16.3g carb, 5.7g fiber, 5.1g pro


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Run Recovery

After my first Hill Work session, I was inspired to write a post about stretching.  I wanted to throw up a bunch of stats about how many people don't stretch and how they injure themselves more often.  Imagine my surprise when my Googling brought up articles about studies that show stretching may be useless.  

However, from Runner's World: "Few running practices are as hallowed as stretching. And none have been debated as much in recent years. Studies have failed to reliably show that the addition of stretching to a warmup before activity reduces overuse injuries. "The jury's been out on stretching for about a decade," says Michael Ryan, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And as far as I can tell, it hasn't come in yet." Yet few experts in the field are ready to abandon stretching. The reasoning: Runners are tight in predictable areas, they get injured in and around these areas, and therefore they should increase flexibility in these areas. The muscle groups at the back of the legs—the hamstrings and calf muscles—stand atop most lists of "best muscles for runners to stretch." Hamstring and hip-flexor flexibility seems to improve knee function (several reports link poor hamstring and hip-flexor flexibility with "larger knee joint loads"), and calf flexibility may keep the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia healthy."

I am a faithful stretcher, due to the work I did with a Personal Trainer for years.  My favorite stretches include:
Calf Stretch
Photo found at Mayo Clinic

Hip Flexor Stretch
Photo found at Mayo Clinic

My favorite Hamstring stretch
Photo found at Runners World

Sometimes regular stretching doesn't quite relieve you of the stiffness and muscle knots that can come with endurance training.  That's when you need every runner's Best Friend: a foam roller.

  

Foam rollers are high density foam cylinders 6" in diameter.  You use your own body weight to massage out the knots in your hard worked muscles.  Its a good alternative to weekly massage therapy visits, saving you tons of money, and it can be done while you watch tv.  Easy AND inexpensive!  Sorry for the Cheesy Video from Diet.com, but foam rolling is best taught through example.  




When regular stretching and foam roller use isn't enough to keep up with your training, you can use Sports Massage to help rid your body of lactic acid build up and to help your muscles recover faster.  I'll be trying massage therapy for the first time soon.  I'll make sure to post all about it and let you guys know if I survive.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Favorite Paleo Recipes: Smoky Beef-andMushroom Skewers with Roasted Sweet Potato Puree

There are loads of reasons to be Paleo.  Some people have medical conditions that are lessened by a diet without processed foods, others follow the diet on their path to greater physical fitness and others live a Paleo Lifestyle because it's better for the planet.  I'm paleo to lose weight.  It's low carb but high energy (thanks to being high fat) so I can still be an endurance runner and lose weight.  It's not often that I find a paleo-friendly recipe in a fitness magazine.  The industry of "fitness advice" still hasn't widely recognized the benefits of a Paleo Diet.  But the "whole foods" approach certainly has and so there are recipes out there to be found.

I found this recipe for Smoky Beef-and-Mushroom Skewers with Roasted Sweet Potato Puree in the September issue of Fitness Magazine.  This recipe is easy to make, quick to prep and can impress guests, especially those who think "this paleo thing" is weird.  Who says the Paleo Diet cant' be Haute Cuisine?  I like to serve this with a side of strawberry and arugala salad with a basalmic vinaigrette.

Smoky Beef-and-Mushroom Skewers 
with Roasted Sweet Potato Puree


Serves 4  Prep time: 10 minutes  Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp chipotle chile powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 pounds trimmed top sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick, cubed
  • 24 cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 tsp basalmic vinegar


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the sweet potatoes in half length-wise and place cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast 20 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a fork
  2. Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium-high heat.  Combine chipotle chile powder, cumin, and 1 tsp kosher salt; add steak and toss to coat.  Thread steak and mushrooms on 12 skewers and cook for about 8 minutes for medium rare, turning halfway through   
  3. Remove sweet potatoes from oven, let cool 5 minutes and peel.  Place peeled sweet potatoes and vinegar in a medium mixing bowl and mash with a fork until smooth.  Season with kosher salt.  Divide mashed potatoes among four plates and top with 3 beek-and-mushroom skewers each.  
Nutrition from magazine: 304 cals, 34g protein, 25g carbs, 8g fat, 2.6g sat fat, 4g fiber, 751 mg sodium


Monday, October 15, 2012

Paleo To Go

Sometimes you don't have time to cook.  I'm a busy mom of 2 tweens.  That means school events, karate lessons, Girl Scout meetings.  Add to that medical appointments, my running addiction and the need to "gather" every few days and sometimes I find myself without the time to cook a meal for myself.  To the rescue are a few health conscious food manufacturers that I rely on to help me stay paleo.  My favorite Paleo to go items include:

LaraBars -  Key Lime Pie, Coconut Creme Pie and Lemon Bar flavors.  Made with dates, cashews, coconut, limes and lemons, they are completely paleo friendly AND yummy!


Planter's Harvest Blend Nuts - No added oils make these nuts a safe choice for snacking.  The high protein and fat ratio in nuts is a must to keep my macros in line.  A 1/4 cup of almonds is usually my first snack of the day to make sure I'm taking in fat and protein before I reach for paleo friendly carbs.

Naked Juice - Stick with the "juices" and stay away from the smoothies if you're strictly paleo.  This is my favorite super market treat when I'm shopping hungry.  The Green Machine variety has both veggies and fruits and it's totally paleo.  I also make icepops out of it at home for when the family is eating ice cream and I want a sweet treat too.

Cheribundi Juice - My new favorite post-race drink.  It's got paleo friendly carbs for refueling, and studies are showing that tart cherry juice contains anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties.

Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips - I wrote about these in a previous post.  I stalk my local whole foods store for the Nacho Cheese flavor, which is usually sold out.  They are so good that its really hard to believe that its NOT actual cheese on the kale chips.

As I find more paleo friendly pre-made foods, I will definitely share them with you.

This post was inspired by my friend Michelle's blog: Hospitalmom.  For her, altering the way her family eats has been a necessity after her youngest was born.  Her little one has Short Bowel Syndromea condition in which nutrients are not properly absorbed (malabsorption) because a large part of the small intestine is missing or has been surgically removed.  I am amazed and delighted by her little one's voracious appetite.  And I'm honored that some of my posted recipes have made it onto their menus.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Favorite Paleo Recipes: Biggest Loser Main Event Marinara

I've been on a weight loss journey for years, which means I've picked up favorite recipes here and there.  They're recipes that my family loves and I come back to time and time again.  It was a bit ironic then, when I started Paleo and most of those tried-and-true favorites no longer fit.

Imagine my joy when flipping morosely through my Biggest Loser Family cookbook to find that my FAVORITE homemade spaghetti sauce was perfectly paleo.  That cookbook helped me lose 85 pounds, I knew it couldn't be ALL bad.  Yes, I realize this is the second italian recipe in a row.  I think I'm missing the tomatoes of summer as fall rolls in.  This recipe uses canned tomatoes, but the huge amount of flavor you get makes up for it.

I usually serve this sauce on top of stir-fried veggies, like peppers, zucchini, and onions.  I've also recently started using Jennie-O brand pre-seasoned ground turkey.  The Italian flavor is SO amazingly good.  And unlike other pre-seasoned meats, it is completely paleo.  No soy, no dairy, no wheat.




Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow or white onion
  • 2 tbsp freshly minced garlic
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp no salt added tomato paste
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste

Directions
Makes 7 (1/2 cup)servings: about 3 1/2 cup sauce

  • Spray medium nonstick saucepan with the olive oil spray and place over medium heat.
  •  Add the onion and garlic and cook until just becoming tender (they should not be brown), 4-6 minutes. 
  • Reduce the heat to low and with a wooden spoon stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, honey, oregano, basil, and pepper flakes until well combined. 
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour. 
  • Season with salt, if needed. 

Serving info from book: 63 calories, 3g protein, 15g carbohydrates, less that 1g fat (trace saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 156mg sodium.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

You're crazy if you like hillwork

I love a flat course just as much as I love breaking a Personal Record.  And usually they go hand-in-hand.  But I've hit a speed bump in my pace.  I'm slow, and probably always will be.  I'm asian, our people aren't known for breaking world records in the running community.  But I want to get faster.  I've trained for endurance the last 6 months, and I've changed my diet to help with recovery.  Now it's time to face the fact that without speedwork, I'm not going to get any PRs anytime soon.  And as Legendary Runner Frank Shorter once said, "Hills are Speedwork in Disguise".

I've never focused on getting faster, just finishing.  It was enough to cross that finish line and get my medal.  I did earn some PRs along the way, but I want to beat my current PR of 2:48 earned at the Inaugural San Diego Half Marathon in 2012.  So adding hillwork is new to me, and I've had to do a bit of research.

Two great articles on hillwork can be found at:


  • Active.com : Speedwork in Disguise.  To paraphrase a portion of the article, speed doesn't come from the foot pushing off the ground.  It comes from the ability to bring the opposite leg forward FASTER.  Hillwork is resistance training and makes the hip flexors STRONGER and able to react FASTER.  
  • Running Times Magazine: Hit the Hills.  Besides having great descriptions of different types of hill workouts, this article addresses an additional benefit of hillwork: Improved form.  Running hills will tire you out and mimic the fatigue that comes with the end of a race.  If you practice maintaining proper running form during these workouts, you're working towards running injury free, running faster and having a GREAT finish line photo.
As for my race training, I plan to add Hill Sprints at the end of one of my weekly short runs and my distance runs will be Hilly Up-Tempo Runs.  I'm not looking forward to the WORK but I am looking forward to the RESULTS.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Favorite Paleo Recipes: Chicken Cacciatore

It's a rainy day in San Diego, which means all of us are freaking out about traffic and accidents on the highways.  It also means that we're all pretending to that we live on the East Coast and sweaters and crockpots come out of storage.  I actually use my crockpot year round.  It's an essential piece of kitchen equipment for a busy mom who wants to have time for race training.

My bff in the kitchen

When I started Paleo my first food regret was all the italian I'd have to give up.  I'm a runner, we LOVE pasta!  So one of my FIRST paleo recipe I made was the Chicken Cacciatore that I found at Technically Paleo.  This blogger's first post was all about what's "Technically" paleo and a set of instructions on how to cook bacon.  I recommend a read because it's worth the giggle.

I'd normally serve cacciatore over noodles (and still do for the family), but now I'll serve it over julienned zucchini, onions and peppers or green beans.  I'll just eat it straight from a bowl making "mmmmmm" noises too.  This recipe gives me my italian food fix while allowing me to stay Paleo.


Chicken Cacciatore by Technically Paleo


cacciatore on green beans
Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 8oz. package of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 6oz. cans of tomato paste
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes



Instructions
  1. Start by chopping the onion into large pieces. Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper and chop it into large pieces as well. The pieces should be about the size of your fingertip
  2. Finely mince the garlic cloves.
  3. Cut each chicken thigh in half, and remove any large pieces of fat or skin that may still be on the meat.
  4. Add the chicken, onion, pepper, garlic, and mushrooms to the crock pot. Also sprinkle 2 tbsp of dried Italian herbs and 1 tsp of salt on top of the meat and vegetables.
  5. In a medium sized bowl, combine the diced tomatoes (with their liquid) and the tomato paste. Stir them together so that they form a thick sauce.
  6. Add the tomato sauce to the crock pot. Try to evenly distribute the sauce across the top of the chicken and vegetables.
  7. Cook everything in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours. When it's done cooking, gently stir everything to even out the sauce.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Confessions of a Paleo Runner

I know some of you have been waiting for the post about my in-race fueling.  WHAT DO I EAT DURING A RUN?  It's a question asked by every beginner endurance runner.  And for those of you who have come looking for Paleo solutions to that question, I have a confession.  *stage whisper*  I don't stay Paleo during my races!

Before you close your browser tab in a huff, please consider this:  Dr Cordain supports using non-paleo  foods during an endurance event in his book The Paleo Diet for Athletes.


If you are participating in training or a race that's longer than 1.5 hours, you will need to supplement with high-glycemic index carbs.  You COULD carry a candy bar with you, but if you're trying to be as paleo as possible, sports drinks are a better option.  I prefer CYTOMAX brand sports performance drink.  It's a bit lower in sugar than Gatorade.  Rob Wolff also prefers CYTOMAX for endurance events.  
  

You will need 200-400 calories of some sort of carb replacement for every hour that you're performing.  This is of course based on your body size.  Smaller people need less than those big burly guys.  I sip on one serving of cytomax the first hour, then I use a GU with caffeine at the beginning of the second hour  and if I'm nowhere near the finish line, I'll use another GU without caffeine at the beginning of the third hour.  That's a total of 300 calories over 2 hours for me.  I feel great using this combo, and only occasionally have had GI distress after a race.  



If you are determined to stay paleo, I would recommend carrying 1/4 cup of raisins in place of gu and you can make your own electrolyte drink.  The raisins are an EXCELLENT source of carbs.  I found this electrolyte replacement drink at Mark's Daily Apple:
  1. Slightly heat some coconut water on the stove. Don’t let it get anywhere near simmering. Just let it get warm enough to melt the next three ingredients easily.
  2. Add a few dashes of sea salt, preferably one with high mineral content. Sea salt provides sodium, an important electrolyte, plus trace minerals. You’re going to be burning through a lot of it during the race.
  3. Add honey, preferably raw and from a local farm (remember, many store bought honey isn’t actually honey anymore).
  4. Add blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses comes after the third boiling of sugar cane. It contains less sugar than either white sugar, brown sugar, regular molasses, or dark molasses, but far more minerals and electrolytes. See, sugar cane is a plant with roots that stretch deep into the soil to extract nutrients (some research suggests sugar cane roots may go down as far as six meters). Very few of those nutrients make it into white or brown sugar, and regular and dark molasses contain some, but it’s blackstrap molasses which gets the bulk of the minerals. So, when you add just a couple tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to your energy drink, you’re getting more than twice the potassium than a banana, more calcium than a cup of raw spinach, and almost 100 mg of magnesium.
  5. Mix it all together until everything melts and it’s a dark brown murky viscous fluid. I didn’t include specific amounts, but start with a couple tablespoons of each sweetener and the juice from one coconut (or one carton of coconut water). You’ll be cruising for the first bit of the race, thanks to your effective pre-race training and fueling, but when you really start dipping into your glycogen stores, having a banana or two and a bottle of high-potency Primal energy drink will prove useful.


  6. Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-fuel-a-marathon/#ixzz2920LHavY


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paleo on the Road

It is indeed Happy Hour when your
paleo-friendly apps are 1/2 off!
I celebrated Day 60 on the Paleo Diet on Monday!  It feels like quite the feat, considering that my last 3 days of were spent eating while traveling to San Jose for the San Jose RocknRoll Half marathon.  It was my first real experience of trying to stay paleo while not being able to cook and refusing to succumb to peer pressure to "just eat like a normal person".  I must have explained the basics of Paleo about 30 times this weekend, each time we ate with a new group of people.  My mom and I traveled with her running buddies, about 14 amazing women who were determined to live it up and run it out.

My race weekend started Friday evening, with a meal at The Counter with my family.  I'd reviewed this downtown San Diego restaurant just recently.  Before taking me to the airport, we decided to carb up at our favorite Paleo-friendly restaurant with sweet potato fries.  I also had a "burger in a bowl" for the iron.  It was going to help my body store and use oxygen more efficiently during my big race.

Not a pretty breakfast but
 it tastes good





Saturday morning, Mom and I woke up at 4 am to see my Daddy off on his 100-mile race.  He'd be running the Rio Del Lago 100 all of saturday and he'd planned to finish around the time we'd be getting up on Sunday morning to run our own race.  A Larabar and a banana continued the carb up while I shivered in the pre-dawn, waiting to see Daddy off at the start line.  (As a note: not ALL Larabars are paleo.  Stick to the ones that contain only dates, tree nuts, fruits, and coconut.  My favorites are Coconut Cream Pie, Lemon Bar, and Key Lime Pie)  We then headed home to pack for our own race.  I completed my carb up with an eggs, avocado and sweet potato breakfast.  That was the last time I was going to get to cook for myself before my race.


After arriving in San Jose (by the way, a car with 4 middle age and older women will need to stop at least 3 times to pee during a 2 hour road trip), we checked in, picked up our bibs and explored the expo.  One of the great things about Paleo is that you don't experience the drop in blood sugar that you did before when you were eating processed carbs and sugars.  So while everyone else was getting cranky, I was holding on pretty well.  We lunched at Baja Fresh, which isn't an ideal paleo choice.  But I made it work, ordering a Mango Chipotle Chicken Ensalada.  I suspect that the mango salsa and chipotle sauce contained sugar and possibly soy . . . but overall it was a paleo-ish choice.  I avoided eating the tortilla shell and asked for NO cotija cheese (even though I REALLY REALLY love cotija cheese).  For a pre-race lunch, the chicken salad option was probably the best choice.  It's heavy on fiber, high on water content and low on binding meats.  Red meat can take longer to move through your system, which may make you feel heavy on race morning.
Dinner was probably the most difficult to handle.  All of the group we were racing had arrived and there was much discussion on eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Italian restaurants are nearly impossible for Paleo people, I try to avoid them all together.  It's a lesson that "Gluten-free" does not equate to Paleo.  Luckily they couldn't take our group of 14 for at least 2 hours, so our group ended up breaking up into smaller ones and Mom and I headed to a 50s themed Diner called Peggy Sue's.  They are a counter Service, sit down restaurant.  They're menu was simple and easy to alter for the Paleo diet.  I had a spinach salad (that was of massive proportion) and a bunless bacon, pineapple burger.  Once again, loads of iron to help with oxygen use.  I am also a proponent of fiber on the day before the race.  It'll help you with that pre-race elimination that is oh so neccessary.  (I wondered how long it'd take me to mention poop on my blog).  Everyone's fiber needs are different.  It's important to experiment during the training cycle to see how much fiber you can take in to help you on race morning.



 I woke up on race morning feeling amazing.  I had nine hours of sleep, and maintained my paleo diet while traveling.  Mom and I ordered room service and split a meal.  I got the eggs and bacon, she got the tomato juice and english muffin.  It's nice to travel with a non-Grok!  After breakfast I was feeling even better!

My race review has already been posted.  I've had people ask about my IN-RACE nutrition and will explore that in my next post.  If you have any questions about pre-race nutrition or about staying paleo while on the road, please feel free to ask!


  

Race Day Ready and still Paleo!