Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Waffles

We're coming to the end of October. Today our gym hosted a Barbells for Boobs charity WOD in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's always so great to see so many people come out to support a great cause, work out together, eat and socialize. But mostly I love to see everyone support and cheer on each other. Events like this remind me of why I love my CrossFit community so much. It doesn't matter what's going on in my life, when I walk into my box, I know I'm surrounding by people who care. Today one of our newest members showed up about an hour and half after we started running through our heats for the workout. The final heat was just about to start when I noticed he was standing to the side. He had come to do the WOD (Grace, 30 clean and jerks.) but was the only person left. After the heat finished, he went out the floor and started warming up. A good number of members figured out that he was about to go by himself, and even though they had already done the WOD (some having JUST finished a few minutes before), they set up a bar and went again! Just so he wouldn't be the only one working out. If that's not the epitome of gym support and camaraderie, I don't know what is! Way to go CF Tally!


Fall is here and it never fails, year after year I find myself in the mood for more things with apples and pumpkins. Last week I made pork chops and smothered them with sauteed onions and apples. I highly recommend you try that out immediately. Savory and sweet. Winner winner. I also made a pumpkin soup and these pretty delightful pumpkin waffles. I have come to love using cashew butter more and more. I find the flavor to be more mild than almond butter and the smooth creaminess to create a more fluffy texture. But, if you want to use almond butter in place of the cashew butter, I think it would work just fine!

Pumpkin Waffles



Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Special Tools:
Food processor
Large bowl
Waffle maker

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large bananas
4 large eggs
1⁄2 cup cashew butter
1⁄4 cup melted coconut oil
1⁄4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cashew flour
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of sea salt
organic maple syrup, for serving
*Disclaimer, if you're feeling naughty, I spread some pumpkin butter on my waffles instead of syrup. I bought mine from Trader Joe's!

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, mash your two bananas and then place them in the food processor.
2. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs, cashew butter, coconut oil, and vanilla (all of your wet ingredients).
3. Puree until well combined.
4. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and continue to puree until everything is incorporated. You might need to use a spoon or spatula to push down the sides once or twice.
5. Heat your waffle maker according to the instructions. This gives the coconut and cashew flour time to really absorb into the batter.
6. You might need some additional coconut oil to grease your iron. Mine doesn't require it.
7. Make your waffles according to the manufactures instructions. I poured somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons (close to 1/4 cup) of batter into my waffle maker each time.
Mine yielded about 10 waffles. Keep the waffles on a warm plate until you have used all of the batter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Salmon Cakes

Being pregnant is amazing, and super weird at the same time! It's kind of crazy when I stop and think I'm totally growing a person inside of me! One of the early signs or symptoms that I noticed was my increased sense of smell. I could tell when someone sitting a few feet away from me was chewing gum with her mouth closed! Or how about when no one around me could smell the menthol in the icy-hot someone was using about 10 feet away from us at the gym after a workout. I'm telling you, my nose knows! I've also had some unpleasant run-ins with a few foul odors since my new superpower started. I've never had an issue with seafood before, but lately it's been making me gag, which is most unfortunate because I love seafood. And just to prove it to myself that it was just my nose and not my stomach, I made these really great salmon cakes. Interestingly enough, I didn't really notice the smell too much. I guess it's just when I wafts in front of me suddenly, rather than subtly while you're cooking with it. Anyway, wild salmon is a great protein, and I've read it's certainly one to consider consuming at least once a week during my pregnancy. So I began with this little gem! Enjoy!

Salmon Cakes




















Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Special Tools:
Medium mixing bowl
Large saute pan

Ingredients:
12 oz of canned wild salmon, drained
2 eggs
2 tbsp of coconut flour
1/4 cup of shallot (or your favorite onion)
2 tsp of dijon mustard
2 tsp of creole seasoning (or combine these ingredients to make your own and store the rest for later)
2 tbsp of coconut oil, divided
green onion to garnish

Instructions:
1. Start by adding the two eggs to a medium mixing bowl and beating them.
2. Add the salmon to the bowl and break it apart with a fork.
3. Then add the shallot, coconut flour, mustard, and creole seasoning to the bowl. Get in there with your hands and mix everything together until well incorporated. 
4. Heat your sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and allow it to melt. 
5. Take half of the mixture and form three or four patties, about 3-inches in diameter.
6. Place them in the pan and allow them to cook on each side for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until both sides are a nice golden brown.
7. Repeat steps 5-6 with the other half of the salmon mixture. 
8. Top with green onion. I served mine with some golden potato mash with grass-fed butter and broccoli. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meaty Eggplant Parmesan

The first time I ever cooked eggplant was a TOTAL disaster. I cooked them in olive oil for way too long. They absorbed all of the oil and tasted slimy and disgusting! Lesson learned. Then my friend had me over for dinner one night and cooked eggplant Parmesean. I was so "wowed" at how good eggplant could actually taste, and asked her how she cooked hers. She said just fry them in light layer of coconut oil. Perfect! This week, we were given several eggplants in our CSA share, so I knew eggplant parm. was on the menu! My husband and I really love a hearty spaghetti sauce, so by combining what I learned from my friend and my sauce, I was sure this was going to come out pretty damn tasty. Ahem... It did! 

Meaty Eggplant Parmesan



Prep time: 40 minutes (30 minutes inactive)
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Serves: 5-6

Special tools:
9 x 13 baking tray
Large sauce pot
Large sauté pan
Bowl
Plate
Cutting board
Knife
Vegetable peeler

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef (leave out if you want to keep it vegetarian)
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
6 oz of sliced mushrooms 
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
6 oz of herb goat cheese
2 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
1 tsp of basil
1 tsp of oregano
1 tsp of coarse sea salt

For the eggplant:
3 medium eggplants
2 eggs, whisked in a bowl
1 cup of almond flour
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan 
Coconut oil for frying

Instructions:
1. Start by peeling your eggplants and slicing them into 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick slices (enough to make 3 layers in your tray). Lay them out on a plate and sprinkle them LIGHTLY with salt. This draws out the moisture and seasons them well! Let it sit for about 30 minutes while you prep the rest of the meal.  
2. Next work on the sauce. Start by browning the meat. 
3. Then add all the veggies, except the tomatoes and zucchini. Let them cook down for about 5 minutes. 
4. Add the tomatoes and zucchini. Mix well. Add the tomato paste and all of the seasonings. 
5. Once everything is heated through, stir in the goat cheese. 
6. Let it simmer on medium-low for about 30 minutes. 
7. Preheat the oven to 350. 
8. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add enough coconut oil to coat the bottom. 
9. Mix the almond flour and seasonings onto a plate. 
10. Dip each slice into the egg mixture, then into the almond flour mixture (shaking off the excess), and into the frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side (or until golden brown). Continue until you've cooked them all. Add more oil as needed. 
11. Add the slices to the baking tray as they come out. 
12. When you have a layer, spread some of the sauce on top along with fresh grated Parmesan. Repeat for three layers. 
Place in the oven for 15 minutes until all the cheese is melted. 


Friday, July 25, 2014

Spicy Chicken Vegetable Chili

I think my taste buds are changing again. Lately all I want is to make my food spicy. Not like "burn your tongue and now you can't even taste the food because it's so hot" spicy, but just a good flavorful spicy. I've been sneaking in some cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce wherever I can. Tonight I'm making stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon for a potluck we're going to. I've never been a big jalapeño fan, and don't usually go out of my way to buy them unless a recipe calls for them, but we had a bag full of them in our CSA share and I've been craving them all week. I've never actually made them before, so I brainstormed what I thought would taste good stuffed in them. I guess we'll see what happens!

Speaking of spicy, this chili definitely satisfied that craving. I've been covering some evening classes at the gym while one of our trainers studies for the bar exam at the end of the July. That means I'm not getting home from the gym on those nights until after 8:30. Not really a lot of time for getting crafty in the kitchen, so I thought chili one night would be pretty easy. I wanted to switch it up from my usual three meat (beef/pork/bacon) chili, and decided chicken would be a fantastic option. I was right! I love it when new ideas pay off! 

Spicy Chicken Vegetable Chili



Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours
Serves: 4-6

Special Tools:
Crockpot

Ingredients:
3 pounds of chicken breasts, cubed (about 4 pieces if using organic, free-range)
1 large zucchini, halved and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 medium (or 2 large) carrots, chopped
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced 
1 (14oz) can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (12oz) jar of salsa authentica (red), no sugar added
1 (12oz) jar of salsa verde (green), no sugar added
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of cumin
1/2 tbsp of course sea salt
1/2 tbsp of coriander
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional, for more heat)
3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
guacamole, for garnish
extra lime, for garnish

Instructions:
1. Start with cubing your chicken. I like mine to be somewhat still frozen because it makes it super easy to chop up into cubes and since it's slow cooking all day anyway, time isn't of the essence! Add it to the crockpot when done. *Kitchen safety tip: If you want to defrost your chicken a little, don't do it in hot water (which causes bacteria to grow), do it in cold.
2. Chop your veggies and add it to the crockpot with the chicken. 
3. Top everything with the broth, lime juice, tomatoes, salsas, and seasoning. Give it a good stir.
4. Set the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. The chicken should be fall apart tender!
5. Serve on top of cauliflower rice and garnish with guacamole and more lime juice, which helps to cut the heat a little but definitely enhances the flavor. 

Sloppy Joes

Working in the school system affords me the opportunity to travel a little bit more easily because my summer schedule is more lax. I still work, but I don't have a set schedule and can take my vacation at any point. Every summer since my parents and sister moved to the suburbs of Chicago seven years ago, I've tried to take a trip to visit them. Especially in the last few years, because my sister has started having children, and being a part of my nephews' lives is really important to me. Sadly, my husband doesn't have the same vacation time that I do, so most of my trips up north are solo. Since he and I both work two jobs, and he doesn't get home until after 8:30 every night during the week, I like to make things as easy as possible for him by leaving some already cooked and/or prepped meals.

Below is what I either cooked ahead of time or prepped and froze for him. Note: for side items, I left directions for steaming different veggies in the microwave. Easy peasy :o) 

  • Pineapple salsa chicken bake: cook a whole chicken, then shred it and combine with 1 jar of pineapple salsa, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, 2 ounces of green chilies, and 1 cup of pineapple. Top with your favorite cheese --if you can handle dairy-- and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 until the cheese is golden and bubbly.)
  • Chili pork pot roast w/ onions: place a 1.5-2 lb pork roast or loin and 1 small-medium sliced yellow onion in a freezer bag with 1 cup of beef broth, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes, 2 ounces of green chilies, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of cumin, and 1/2 tsp of onion powder. I left directions on the bag to place all ingredients in a crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. 
  • Stir fry w/ fajita strips: place 1 lb of beef fajita strips in a freezer bag with 1 tbsp of coconut aminos, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of ginger. Then I bought a pre-chopped bowl of stir-fry veggies (broccoli, peppers, onion, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, baby corn) from Trader Joe's and left directions to heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a wok (or large sauté pan) on medium-high heat. When it's HOT, cook the strips for 2-3 minutes and then remove. Add the veggies w/ 2 tbsp of coconut aminos, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of ginger and cook until desired tenderness is reached. Add the meat back in and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Organic ribeye: place steak in a freezer bag with 3 tbsp of mojo marinade, 1 tsp of worcestershire, and 1/2 tsp of 21 Seasoning Salute (Trader Joe's). You can pan sear (high w/ 1 tsp of coconut oil for 3-5 minutes on each side) or grill (on medium-high for 5-7 minutes on each side)
  • Honey mustard chicken thighs - recipe in the The Paleo Kitchen Cookbook
  • Simple Sloppy Joes (recipe below)
Simple Sloppy Joes


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-3

Special Tools:
Large saute pan with deep sides

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp Sugar free steak seasoning
1 tbsp Coconut palm sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium pepper, chopped
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of Worcestershire (sugar free if you can)
1 can of organic tomato sauce
2 tbsp of tomato paste
pre-made Paleo burger buns (Against All Grain has a recipe) or you can buy gluten-free buns.

Instructions:
Place the pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and let it start to brown. As you begin to break it apart, add the steak seasoning and coconut palm sugar and continue cooking.
Once the beef is almost all browned, add the onion, pepper, vinegar, and worcestershire and cook for 3-5 minutes until the veggies begin to soften. 
Add the tomato sauce and paste and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. 
Place in an airtight container and store for up to a week. 
Note: waiting until the next day to eat it is always better! All the favors really have time to meld. Check out what Danny texted me...he added cheese, lettuce, coleslaw, and cilantro to his Joes. I think he liked them!



Friday, July 11, 2014

Shrimp Scampi

I have a small victory to celebrate. Yesterday's metcon portion of the workout consisted of push-ups, ring rows, and ring dips. Ring dips have been something on my bucket list to accomplish unassisted since I started CrossFit. I've been using the same purple band to help me through the range of motion for at least two years. I arrived at the gym yesterday just before the class before mine started their workout and decided to go chat with the other athletes over by the rings while they set up for their WOD. I make attempts all the time to complete a strict ring dip, but to no avail. Well, yesterday, for the first time, it just happened! I couldn't believe it! I thought No way this will happen again! But sure enough, I tried again and I totally locked out and completed a second ring dip without any assistance! Three years of CrossFit and I can FINALLY do a ring dip. I did a couple more, just to be sure I wasn't dreaming, lol. Sadly though, when we got to the WOD, the push-ups put my ego in check and reminded me that being able to do them in isolation is one thing, but add in other movements and they become extra hard. Haha. So that purple band came out again to assist. But I still walked away yesterday with a great feeling. Hopefully when I walk back into the box today, I'll still be able to do them ;o)

Switching gears on you, let's talk food! Pasta is one of those things that I really want to miss because I ate it so often growing up. But in truth, I really don't. It sits so heavy and makes me feel like garbage just thinking about eating it. I can't even tell you the last time I had a big bowl of pasta! But there are some beautiful dishes that just wouldn't be the same without noodles. I really like using zucchini noodles because it keeps the dish very light and adds a bright color to it. Toss them in a lemon-butter sauce with some shrimp scampi and voila! you've recreated a popular Italian dish. 

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles



Prep Time: 1 hour (inactive) 45 minutes 
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 2

Special Tools:
Spiralizer, or julienne slicer (which will take a little longer)
Colliander
Large bowl the colliander will sit in
Large saute pan

Ingredients: 
2 large zucchini
1 lb large wild caught shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed.
2 1/2 tbsp of ghee, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small lemon, juiced
1 tbsp of white cooking wine
1 tbsp of fresh parsley, chopped or 1 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
salt

Instructions:
1. Use the spiralizer to turn your zucchinis into noodles. If you don't have a spiral machine, you can use a julienne slicer to make your noodles. 
2. Place the noodles into a colliander and sprinkle with salt to draw out the moisture. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then rinse and pat dry the noodles as best you can with paper towels. 
3. Leaving the noodles in the colliander, place the colliander inside a large bowl (to collect the draining liquid) and place the bowl into the fridge for an hour. This allows you to have really dry noodles. Take them out and let them sit on the counter while you prep your garlic and lemon. 
4. Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat and allow the pan to get hot. Add 2 tbsp of ghee.
5. Toss in the garlic and move it around to let it become fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. 
6. Add the shrimp and half the lemon juice. Saute until the shrimp are cooked through and the liquid has nearly entirely evaporated, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the shrimp from the pan.
7. Deglaze the pan with the white cooking wine and the rest of the lemon juice. 
8. Add the zucchini noodles and the remaining ghee. Toss well to coat and continue cooking until the noodles are heated through, about 3-5 minutes. 
9. Return the shrimp to the pan and season with parsley and salt, to taste. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Asian Ground Beef Stir-fry

How was everyone's Fourth of July holiday weekend? Mine was super relaxing and a total blast! The hubs and I took off on a 7 hour drive for my in-laws on Thursday. They live down in Pembroke Pines...that's between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami if you don't know South Florida too well. AKA the land of crazy drivers, beautiful beaches, and O.M.G...Cuban food!! Let me count the ways I did NOT eat paleo this weekend. Thursday night was a plate of citrus chicken, rice, beans, a fried egg, a piece of REAL Cuban bread, and plantains maduros (ripe plantains...the sweet, sticky ones). Sweet Jesus, it was incredible. Friday morning, Papi brought home Cuban pastelitos (little pastries) with guava and cheese from the cutest authentic Cuban bakery in Pines, Vicky Bakery. Better than any sort of American pastry...EVER. I think I ate three. #sorrynotsorry. Then we ate vaca frita and grilled chicken wings for lunch...with more rice and beans. Though I will say, I was pretty reserved on my rice and beans portions since I didn't want to go off the deep end. Bahaha, too late! My in-laws make enough food to feed an army, so we got to eat leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...which again, I'm really not sorry about. Add an egg and anytime can be breakfast time! I made sure to get my fill of maduros before I left. Man, those little babies are dangerously delicious. All in all, I'd call it another successful trip down south. I'm sure you're thinking, But wait Nicole, all you talked about was eating? And to that I say, Yeah, exactly. It's what I live for! I guess I could tell you that the sunshine was also amazing, both in the pool and our three trips to the beach. Ahh, I miss the days when you didn't have to drive hours to get to a beach. My husband does too, which is why we went to the beach twice in one day. ...don't ask. #worthit  

Well because we didn't get back into town until late Sunday night, dinner had to be quick and easy on Monday after I went grocery shopping. Behold, ground beef stir-fry. Easy prep work, nothing overly complicated in the cooking process, but the flavors are awesome! 

Asian Ground Beef Stir-fry


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Special Tools:
Large saute pan

Ingredients:
1 lb of grass-fed beef
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
3 heads of baby bok choy, sliced, about 1 cup
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, sliced
1 tbsp of ghee or fat of your choice
2 tbsp of minced garlic
2 tbsp of minced ginger
1/4 cup of coconut aminos, divided
1 tbsp of rice vinegar
1 tsp of fish sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:
1. Place the sauté pan over medium-high heat and melt the ghee. Add the garlic and ginger and stir around until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds. 
2. Add the beef and begin browning the meat, breaking it up into small bites with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
3. When it's nearly cooked through, add in 2 tbsp of coconut aminos, the rice vinegar, and the fish sauce. Continue sautéing until the meat is no longer pink. Strain off the beef onto a plate and set aside, leaving the fat and juices behind.
4. Add the onion, peppers, carrots, and mushrooms to the pan and move around to coat in the juices. Season with salt and pepper. 
5. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of coconut aminos and continue sautéing for 7-10 minutes. Add the bok choy and continuing cooking until the leaves begin to wilt.
6. Return the beef and any juices that settled on the plate back into the pan and stir well to combine. 
7. Enjoy with some chop sticks. You'll just feel more cultured ;o)

Balsamic Maple Glazed Wild Alaskan Salmon

I had an interesting conversation this evening. Typically when newcomers come in to inquire about CrossFit and the facility, there's one, maybe two people...friends or a couple. Well today a family of four shuffled in; mom, dad, a teenage older daughter and teenage son. As they came in, both trainers were busy with other athletes, I decided to introduce myself and see what they wanted. Mom spoke up first and said they were in vacationing in Georgia and decided to drive down and check out college campuses, however, the daughter's main concern was actually what the [CrossFit] boxes were like in town. That should have been my first clue that they were already super into CrossFit, but clearly I'm oblivious to things like that, so I started on my story about the history of our box, our other locations, the set up of our classes and how they run, etc. Come to find out, both kids have been doing CrossFit for like two years and the daughter is looking into getting her L1 certification! How cool is that?! Not even out of high school and kicking ass already! She goes on to talk about how she competes and just finished a competition last weekend down in West Palm Beach. She's already a little badass in my book. They haven't made any decisions yet on where she wants to go to school, but somewhere away from home (Port St. Lucie). I hope she heads our way. I'd love to be able to see her in action. 

In other news, this salmon is also badass. Make it soon. It's delicious! That is all. :o)

Balsamic Maple Glazed Wild Alaskan Salmon




Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2-3

Special Tools:
Small bowl
Basting brush
Foil lined baking sheet

Ingredients:
3 wild salmon steaks, about 6-8 ounces each, skin left on
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp of dark grade maple syrup
1 tsp of garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp of dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1.Preheat the oven to broil on low. Make sure the rack is positioned in the middle of the oven, at least three rungs down.
2. Rinse the salmon under cold water and pat dry. Then put them skin side down onto a foil lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper to taste.*
3. In a bowl, add the oil, vinegar, syrup, garlic cloves, and mustard. Mix well to combine. 
4. Use a basting brush to coat the tops and sides of the salmon, reserving more than half of the glaze.
5. Put the baking sheet into the oven and broil for 5 minutes. Then brush the glaze onto the salmon again. Repeat after 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for 2-3 minutes. 
Serve it up with your favorite veggies. I sautéed up some butternut squash and zucchini and also steamed a head of broccoli. 

*If you or your significant other freaks out about fish skin like mine does, I will say it's much easier to remove once the salmon is cooked. Just hold down one of the corners with a fork or knife and slowly start lifting it up. It should come off fairly easy. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cafe Mocha Ice Cream

There are a lot of things I love about living in Florida. Beaches. We have some of the most incredible beaches in the nation. Entertainment is another. We have theme parks...and LOTS of them. Nature. There are beautiful national parks to hike and camp in. Friends and family. Most of mine are in this great state. And it's not called "the sunshine state" for nothing. Florida is well known for its gorgeous weather. I mean hell, people move here all the time for the sunshine. But it can get H-O-T. Today for example, we reached record temperatures for this time of year, 97 degrees with a heat index between 105-110. Ironically, and most unfortunately, our A/C unit has stopped blowing cold air in our house. The repair man isn't able to come until tomorrow. So last night and tonight we're just swirling around warm air in our home. Thankfully, the downstairs isn't unbearable. We live in a two story house and hot air rises (science!) But upstairs? O-M-G. It's a damn sauna. The thermostat is reading 90 degrees IN MY HOUSE. And tomorrow it's suppose to be hotter. Needless to say, I'll be leaving early to get our grocery shopping done in the A/C and then counting down the minutes until the repair man comes. 

Meanwhile, in an effort to stay cool, I decided to make a dessert for my husband and I combining two things I love, chocolate and coffee! Danny's exact words: "Mmmm honey! Like the cuisinart, this investment has already paid for itself! This is delicious" That's my hubs! You can scoop it into a bowl or stuff it between two paleo cookies. That's what I did! Don't judge me. I deserved it. 

Cafe Mocha Ice Cream



Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Special Tools:
Large mixing bowl
Whisk
Ice cream maker

Ingredients:
(13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (Badia is my new favorite!)
3/4 cup of cold brewed coffee (I got mine from Trader Joe's)
1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp of organic raw honey
7-10 drop of liquid chocolate Stevia
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp of pink himalayan sea salt
1/4 cup of enjoy life chocolate chips

Instructions:
1. Whisk together the coconut milk and coffee and then carefully add the cocoa powder and whisk until well combined. 
2. Then add everything else except the chocolate chips and continuing whisking, making sure the honey is well incorporated. 
3. Add the contents to the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. 
4. In the last 5 minutes, add the chocolate chips. 

Golden Roasted Chicken

This week was brutal at the gym. My husband and I both woke up Friday and were convinced that our arms were just not attached to our bodies. 
Monday we did Fran. Always a torturous, fun WOD. Yes, I used those two adjectives in the same sentence. 
Tuesday we did shoulder press work and a 14 minute AMRAP of 100 doubleunders and 5 deadlifts at 75% of our 1RM. Who needs their calves anyway. 
Wednesday was heavy back squats and a 10 minute AMRAP of Cindy. More pull-ups. Yay! 
Thursday we did a Bear Complex.
This is one cycle:
1. Power Clean
2. Front Squat
3. Push-Press
4. Back Squat
5. Push-Press
We do that cycle seven times for one round and
 5 rounds total. If we put the bar down during any of the seven cycles, we had to complete ten burpees before continuing. Misery. Absolute misery. Props to those athletes that never put the bar down. That damn sure wasn't me! But I finished with a cheer squad around me, which is always nice. 
And we finished off the week with a descending ladder of bench press 10-1, coupled with a 250m run between each set.
But I'm not complaining. I made it through and I know I'm better for it! 

Hard work calls for hearty meals. This chicken turned out so amazingly flavorful and juicy. Sometimes the breast can get dry, but not this bird! By rubbing the seasoning and butter under the skin, and stuffing the cavity, it stayed nice a moist (stop grossing out at that word...lol). I also cut up a few carrots and roasted those with the chicken, but you can make whatever side you want with it.  

Golden Roasted Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Serves: 3-4

Special Tools:
Roasting pan
Kitchen twine
Small bowl

Ingredients:
4-5 pound free range organic whole chicken, at room temperature
1 large onion, sliced into thick rings
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 large or 2 small lemons, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 tbsp of grass-fed butter, divided (I like Kerigold) and at room temperature
1 tsp of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
2. Remove and discard the giblets from the chicken cavity. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water. Dry chicken with paper towels. 
3. Tuck the wing tips under the body. Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
4. Insert the garlic, lemon slices, and thyme into the chicken. 
5. Place the onion slices down into the roasting pan and lay the chicken down on top. 
6. Bring chicken legs forward, cross them, and tie together.
7. In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp of butter with the 21 seasoning salute. Use your fingers to massage this under the skin of the chicken without tearing it. 
8. Rub the other tbsp of butter over the entire surface of the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
9. Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 400 and continue roasting, 45-60 minutes, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and the juices run clear when pierced. 

Dill-Tarragon Chicken Salad

I love summer! Everything just seems to slow down a little and it gives me a chance to enjoy the things I don't have time for during the hustle and bustle of the school year. And even though I'm finding that I'm waking up around the same time every day, it's giving me a chance to really enjoy my mornings sipping on coffee or chai leisurely, watching Today on NBC. Even going to work doesn't seem like work. I'm able to tackle jobs one at a time without interruptions. But probably my most favorite thing about summer so far has been my ability to get creative in the kitchen. I can't seem to get enough of those smoked grilled chicken burgers, I branched out and tried two new vegetables that I ended up loving, collards (that were crispy, not slimy...I don't do slimy very well) and bok choy (which went into this amazing Vietnamese Paleo pho soup). Those will definitely have to make an appearance on the blog soon, so keep a look out. I also roasted a beautiful chicken last week that came out golden and crispy on the outside and completely moist and juicy on the inside. My husband and I devoured most of the 4 pound bird the first night. I have been craving a good chicken salad though, so I purposely saved some of it and made this wonderful chicken salad the next day. There is something about tarragon and almonds that I can't get enough of, but the fruit and bacon just put it over the top for me! It's really hard to share, so if you're planning to, make sure you divide it out right away or you may end up eating the whole thing right out of the bowl...like I did!


Dill-Tarragon Chicken Salad


Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 2

Special Tools:
Mixing Bowl

Ingredients:
2 cups of shredded leftover golden roasted chicken
1/4 cup of paleo mayo (I used a variation similar to this)
3 strips of crispy bacon, chopped
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 an apple, diced (I used a pink lady and left the skin on)
2 tbsp of dried cranberries, sugar free
12 grapes, halved
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 tbsp of dried dill
1/2 tbsp of terragon
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper

Instructions:
1. Combine the chicken, mayo, and bacon in a large bowl and toss with a spoon to mix well.
2. Add the celery, apple, cranberries, and grapes and stir again until coated.
3. Add the seasonings and mix well.
4. Cover and let the chicken salad chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
5. Eat right out of the bowl or serve in lettuce cups.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Berry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I spent most of my morning at the dentist office yesterday. Originally I was just suppose to be there for a quick check-up and cleaning. But a couple of weeks ago I was eating dinner and bit down on something hard. Turns out it was a piece of my tooth from my back bottom molar! What in the world?!?! I was eating sautéed cabbage for goodness sakes! CABBAGE! Probably one of the softest foods in the world. My dentist said that over time the tooth enamel can wear down and the slightest thing can be enough to cause it to chip away. It's been super sensitive to liquids, especially cold ones! The earliest they could squeeze me in to repair the tooth was the day of my cleaning, so I've been living with a sensitive tooth for a couple of weeks. Long story short, my tooth is all better and I celebrated by creating a new ice cream flavor that's dairy-free and delicious! I've just come off another sugar detox, so there isn't a lot of extra natural sugar either, but I promise it's plenty sweet all on it's own. 

Berry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours + 15 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Special Tools:
Blender or food processor
Medium sauce pan
Ice cream maker (or bread pan)

Ingredients:
1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup of blueberries
1/2 cup of blackberries
2 tsp of lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeded
1 heaping tablespoon of raw honey
2 large egg yolks, whisked

Instructions:
1. Take the first six ingredients and put them into a food processor, or blender, and mix until well combined. 


2. Pour the mixture into a medium sauce-pan on medium heat, and stir in the egg yolks, whisking constantly until a low boil begins. About 15 minutes. Then remove immediately from the heat. 


3. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and then transfer to a covered dish/bowl and place in the refrigerator until it is completely chilled. I let mine chill for over an hour. 
4. Pour the contents into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Mine took about 25-30 minutes to reach the desired consistency. 


5. Scoop out some ice cream and top with a couple of blueberries. Eat up buttercup!
*If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour it into a bread pan and put in the freezer for at least two hours. Take it out and use an ice cream scooper to serve. You might need to let it sit out for 5-15 minutes if it is too frozen to scoop. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken

The heat and humidity yesterday was absolutely horrendous! Some days I can't believe I choose to work out at 3:30 in the afternoon. By the end of the hour, I've basically taken a sweaty shower, because my clothes are drenched. It's gross. But I wouldn't change it for anything! I love my CrossFit family and how hard we all work together. Lately I've been rowing a lot more before class, because one of our trainers rocked my world with some rowing techniques that are actually improving my stamina. I also committed myself to 100 lunges a day, with at least 75 of them being weighted, throughout this most recent sugar detox. So that was my own personal warm-up. Then we had a fun little mini-WOD as our group warm-up that went like this:

2 20 sec. hold wall climbs
5-10-15-10-5
Kettlebell swings
Sit-ups
Walking lunges with a PVC pipe
Followed by 400m run 

After our mobility session, we completed a 20 minute AMRAP of:

5 hspu on the parallettes (which I scaled down to using plates for my deficits)
10 toes-through-rings (I did SO much better this time because I actually got the hang of the back swing)
15 med. ball cleans

Needless to say, it was a fast paced day and lots of sweaty monsters running around. By the time I finished training and got home, I was famished! Thankfully, dinner was quick and easy, but super tasty. I really enjoyed the combination of the sweet onions with the spicy chicken, and the cabbage was a last minute idea to add crunch and some beautiful color!

Spicy Ginger Garlic Chicken



Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2-3

Special Tools:
Large saute pan
Splatter screen, optional but recommended
Small bowl

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds of organic free-range boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp of bacon fat (or other fat of your choice, but bacon gives it GREAT flavor)
1 medium-large sweet onion, sliced
1/4 of a head of red cabbage, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp of coconut aminos
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of sriracha sauce
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
green onion, chopped to garnish

Instructions: 
1. Heat your fat in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. Season your chicken with salt and pepper.
3. When the fat is hot, add the garlic and ginger and let it sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Lay the chicken top side down in the pan for 5-7 minutes until it gets golden brown and slightly crispy. *Try not to move it around in these first few minutes and use the splat screen if the bacon fat starts to pop.
4. While the chicken is cooking, cut your onion and cabbage. Also, in a small bowl combine the coconut aminos, fish sauce, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
5. Flip the chicken and add the onion to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften. 
6. Add the sauce from the small bowl and allow it to cook into the onion and chicken for another 5 minutes or so. 
7. In the last few minutes, add the cabbage and cook until it begins to wilt.
8. Top with chopped green onions as a garnish. I served mine with some sautéed butternut squash and zucchini. 
NOTE: I cooked boneLESS chicken. If you still have the bone in when you cook your thighs, it will take much longer, like at least 30 minutes, so you won't want to add your onions and cabbage until much later.





Monday, June 9, 2014

Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Confession. I definitely have a bit of a sweet tooth. Well, maybe it's not a confession. I don't think it's much of a secret. One of my favorite treats is ice cream. Who doesn't love ice cream? Sadly, my stomach doesn't allow me to have much dairy these days without immediately cramping afterwards. I can't tell you the last time I had Nuberri (my favorite frozen yogurt place in town). But it doesn't mean I don't want it! So my latest obsession has been wanting to make homemade paleo ice cream, but my lack of equipment kept me from trying it out (Yes, I know I don't need an ice cream maker, but how much more fun would it be?!). Well, my husband surprised me with one two weeks ago, but I had just started another sugar detox! ARRRGGHH! Luckily though, I came across a recipe that was 100% approved for my detox. I changed it up a bit to accommodate the items I had in the pantry. For those that are not on any sort of detox and would rather this be a bit sweeter, just add 2 tablespoons of honey in with step 5.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream




Prep Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-5

Special Tools:
Foil
Ice Cream Maker
Small pot

Ingredients:

For the ice cream:
1 medium sweet potato (about two fists in size)
1 14oz can of full-fat coconut milk (contents should be liquidy, not solid)
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp of sea salt

For the topping:
1 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp of cocoa nibs (you can find these at Earth Fare or Whole Foods)
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of sea salt

Instructions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400 
2. Poke your sweet potato several times with a fork, wrap it in foil so the juices released don't make a mess in your oven, and bake it for 35-40 minutes. The longer it bakes, the sweeter it will be.
3. Remove the foil and let it cool enough to where you can handle it without burning your fingers. 
4. Remove the skin and put the sweet potato and the can in the processor and blend until smooth. 
5. Add the spices and blend again. 
6. Put the mixture into the fridge and allow it to cool for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how warm it is. It needs to be cold when you add it to the ice cream maker.
7. Add the contents according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions.* (Mine said add it to the freezer bowl and turn it on, allowing it to spin until desired consistency is reached. That was about 25 minutes for me.)
8. While the ice cream is being churned, take out a small pot and melt the oil over medium-low heat. Add the pecans and walnuts and mix them around in the coconut oil until they become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cocoa nibs, cinnamon and salt and continue stirring to prevent burning for a few minutes until everything is coated well. Remove from heat and set aside.
9. Have a scoop or two of ice cream and top with your cinnamon-y nut mixture!

*Note: If you don't have an ice cream maker, when you get to step 6 pour the contents into a bread pan and freeze it for about 2 hours. Jump to step 8 when you're taking it out of the freezer. You may need to let it thaw a bit before being able to scoop it, so this is the perfect time to work on step 8.