Archive for the ‘Healthy Foods’ Category

Goal Setting – Ten Week Challenge

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Notes from the goal setting seminar by Ed Tseng at Crossfit Mercer, March 13, 2016 –

Everyone is here for the goal setting seminar. If you’re here for the procrastination seminar, Ed doesn’t do them anymore. (Would have been funnier if he had said, he’s putting that off for now).

From hanging out with the most successful people in the world, such as world champions on the Yankees, olympic gold medalists, to billionaires, he’s learned a different twist on goal setting.

Ed has a different twist on goal setting. Many people are anxious about crushing goals – but take minimal notes. He’ll tell us when to write things down (oops) but during the talk just try to be present.

Like in sports, you can’t think and hit at the same time. I think Ed said this was Mickey Mantle: “A full mind is an empty bat”. But when I looked it up, it was said by Branch Rickey. Use this for anything in life. The more you try to write down everything, the less you are in the moment and the less you will benefit. Listen as if you are listening to music, for something new. Listen for something different.

To Ed, the purpose of goal setting is to get more excited and fired up about life. Most people are so excited about their goals, they are like race horses with blinders on. They see nothing but the goal. Good news: you’ll reach your goal. But you may lose sight of everything else.

Mats Wilander from Sweden spent his whole life pursuing a goal to be a tennis champion. He got there, but after the excitement wore off, he told reporters he looked more forward to mowing his lawn than playing tennis. So do you want to spend all your time working towards a goal, thinking you’ll be happy then, or would you rather enjoy the process?

People are so focused on the goal, they think it’s weakness if they change or drop the goals. But if we keep our mind open, we might create better goals, more beneficial goals. Family life, job, even health might suffer by blindly following goals.

Make your goals measurable and specific. But instead of saying you’ll be happy when you achieve my goal, enjoy the process.

The goal should guide you, not govern you.

Goals will give you a direction to head toward. But people won’t know exactly what path that is. Most successful people will tell you they don’t know exactly what path helped them achieve success.

Happiness leads to success more often the success leads to happiness. If you think you’ll be happy when you lose a lot of weight, you might be wrong.

John Lennon story: his mother told him the secret to life is happiness. In school, his assignment was to write down what he wanted to be when he was older. John Lennon wrote “Happy”. The teacher gave the assignment back to John and said “I don’t think you understood the assignment.” John replied, “I don’t think you understand life.”

If you ask anyone about why they set goals, it boils down to happiness. But we can have that happiness now, throughout the process, not just for a short time after we achieve the goal. And then whether we reach our goals or not, we are still going to have happiness.

Happiness from achieving goals will be short-lived. If we achieve them, we’ll need to set new goals to aim for happiness again.

Miss New Jersey explained to Ed that even though she is so successful, she doubts herself every day. If she, or world champions doubt themselves, we are going to have doubt as well. But if we know these doubts are just thoughts, we can work through them. Ed compared thoughts of doubt to dreams. When we wake up, we know it was just a dream and don’t worry about what happened in the dream. Thoughts of doubt are the same.

If thoughts during our dreams shouldn’t affect us, why should our thoughts while we are in the middle of a workout, or during the day, or when we are deciding whether or not to eat a dessert?

Concern yourself less with the doubt and chatter that pops up, and you’ll be more in the moment.

The biggest obstacles in reaching goals are people themselves: the “six inches” between the ears.

We took a minute to think about a specific measurable goal for the next 10 weeks of the challenge, and wrote it down on a worksheet.

The first thing about goals you should know is that there is a superstar athlete, great father, caring mother, successful son, inside of all of us. Did you ever notice the white arrow in the Fedex sign? It’s pointing in the right direction. You may not have noticed it, but it’s been there all along. Same goes with your successful self – it’s already there. There is also a spoon hidden in “Fed”.

We can be successful. We already know what to do.  But when we’re in a low state of mind, we tend to negotiate with ourselves. If you acted on every thought you ever had, you might never get out of bed.

Winners do what losers don’t feel like doing. It’s your behavior that gets results, not your good intentions.

Take action knowing what you know.

Alongside our specific, measurable goal, we wrote down an accountability partner. It must be someone we will check in with daily or weekly. Schedule the time we will report our progress, to be accountable.

The idea or consequence of failing to achieve the goal has to be more painful than the pleasure you’ll get now by doing something that undermines your goal (this was my idea I was telling Augie before the talk, and Ed gave me credit for it. But it’s not mine either — it’s the pain-pleasure principal made popular by Tony Robbins). Tell your accountability partner your plans for the week, and if you don’t make it, you have to do 500 pushups, or take them out to dinner or write them out a $5,000 check… Something painful. It has to be more painful than doing what’s needed to achieve the goal.

Don’t be stressed about your goals. Achieve your goals one at a time, but don’t think about the other 99 things you have to do that day. That will clutter your mind and increase stress. Be present, in the moment. Live in the now. That’s when we do our best. In and out of the gym.

Doubts are self-created. We hold ourselves back. We have all the potential in the world. Ed’s baby daughter didn’t give up on walking because she doubted she could do it. She kept trying and eventually got it.

Thoughts feel real. But they are not. When you wake up from a bad dream, you’re heart races, your body is tight and you are sweating, but you’re just laying in bed. That’s how powerful thoughts are. But doubt your doubts.

Just because you have a doubt doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because you have a lack of confidence or a doubt doesn’t mean it’s real. Thoughts/doubts can be powerful but they are just thoughts.

We thought about what has held us back from achieving your goals, and what might be obstacles for the next 10 weeks.

Example: time to prepare meals for the week. We can’t make more time, but maybe we can re-arrange our schedules. Don’t negotiate with yourself about getting things done. Just do them. You may need to schedule the process of writing out your schedule.

Dolph’s side note on preparing meals: you can’t out-train bad nutrition

Ed also said someone once said: Nothing tastes as good as fit feels.

You want to be able to respond rather than react. If you have to go out to an unexpected business dinner, or head out with friends to an unplanned meal at a restaurant, think about your goals before you order from the menu. Or if you know you’re going out somewhere to a function and will be tempted, each a healthy meal at home beforehand, then just order a healthy salad at the function.

Ed’s area of expertise is the mental side. Losing weight, getting fit, making money — it’s all mental.

One last story: There were twin brothers. One was always positive and the other negative. One day, doctors put the negative boy in a room full of wonderful treats and toys, and they put the positive boy in the dark, dingy basement with a pile of manure in the center.

An hour later, they checked on both of them. The negative boy was not happy, even with all the toys and treats. “I might fall off the rocking horse, or the cake may upset my stomach.”

The positive boy was happy as can be, running in circles. They asked him what was going on. He said, “With all this manure around here, there must be a pony somewhere!

As we go through the next 10 weeks, our feelings will go up and down. But every situation can be seen in a infinite number of ways. A bad cheat meal might make us think we are off track and that we can then continue to eat poorly, or conversely we can think, “I’m more motivated to eat cleaner tomorrow.”


Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Back on Tuesday 2/27 Dolph from CrossFit Mercer hosted a talk by Geoff Else on supplements. I finally got around to going through my notes from the talk to throw up on the blog. I also wanted to do a little reading about what he talked about, and try to find some references, so this is being posted a couple weeks after the fact.

Disclaimer: I personally do not use lots of supplements. I don’t even take a multivitamin at this time. The only things I take daily are fish oil and vitamin D3. I really appreciate the time Geoff took to present this information, and as I learn more about it or find a need, I might give one or two of them a shot. With that said, here goes…

Geoff owns three GNC stores, one of them is in the Hamilton Marketplace on US Route 130. Dolph introduced Geoff and pointed out that a great thing about him is that he is a Crossfitter himself. So he understands what we are trying to achieve.

He prefaced his talk about supplements by stating that doing the Paleo diet as part of the CrossFit Mercer 90-day Body Composition Challenge kind of limits you as far as supplementation. With Paleo you’re introducing lots of different foods, lots of leafy greens. Truthfully you might not really need to supplement. There might be some things that could work with it, or as you begin to reintroduce some things into your diet (eg: Paleo + Dairy), or certainly when you’re done with the challenge.

Regarding the Paleo diet, it’s a great way to lose weight because you are cutting out all those refined carbohydrates, which in itself causes a lot of water retention. But once you have Paleo “figured out”, you may find energy levels are a little lower, and that comes down to the fact that you are cutting calories. Don’t be afraid of fats in your diet; you’ve got to introduce some. Fats will become very valuable to you. Being on a moderate/high fat diet will force your body to run on fat, and that will solve a host of problems. It can put you back on track if you are “metabolically deranged”.

If things are really tough for you, you can try MCT oil, which is essentially the fatty acid found in coconut. (Note: here’s an article I found on it from A tablespoon is generally 14 grams or 130 calories. Whole Foods and GNC sell it. You can also go straight for the coconut oil itself, and use it while cooking.

A question Geoff gets a lot is on pre-and-post-workout nutrition. For years, we’ve all heard about the carb-loading thing. But he said most people run around so saturated on glycogen anyway, they don’t really need any extra carbohydrates. The average individual eating a typical american diet will not really benefit from carb saturation or carb-loading. Yes, carbs are your major course of simple energy, but your body can only incorporate and saturate so much glycogen (simple stores).

Geoff tells us the best way to do carb-loading is at the end of a higher fat diet. There was a study by Lambert EV in 2001 on endurance-trained athletes. (Note: I looked this up after the talk; here’s the abstract). Geoff summed it up this way: they found a significant increase in output with 3-4 days of approximately 70% carbohydrate (not rice, wheat or oatmeal) following a high-fat diet (roughly 65% fat). That is about the only time carb-loading has been seen to be beneficial. And if your already doing Paleo, you’re primed for it. (Note: So for me, since I’m trying Paleo, it might be ideal to switch to a high-carb diet 3 to 4 days before my next marathon.)

Geoff went on to say if you’re trying to build, or recover from stress of being students, raising a family, working long hours, etc, consider that you are doing high-intensity workouts, and that increases your cortisol levels. That stress hormone response increases dramatically around your workouts, especially after longer workouts. It’s being recognized that consuming carbohydrates post-workout can actually blunt that response, and it is also introduced into your system with less insulin. You want to minimize insulin response, since you only have one pancreas your whole life 🙂  So, cluster your carbs post-workout with a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein, or 2:1 if the workout was a little less intense. Again, this is when you go beyond Paleo, perhaps for the sake of convenience.

Whey protein is the number-one source of supplemented protein in the world. It is milk-derived, but most of the casein has been removed. It is fast-absorbing, and gets rid of some of the immuno-aggravating components. There’s no extra benefit to having a whey/casein mix, unless you are a super hard gainer and you are going for an overnight feed effect, or something like that. You can probably get enough nutrient density during the day to achieve some serious muscle growth without needing to wake up in the middle of the night and feed.

He stresses caution if you can’t afford the grass-fed meat, or need the convenience of nuts, or almond butter from trader joes because you are so very hungry every few days. As soon as you introduce stuff like that, you are increasing your omega 6 levels, a downside. And from a paleolithic perspective, you would never be able to crack all the shells of the nuts in that jar of almond butter. But if you’re forced to do it, so be it. If it happens more regularly, your omega 6-omega 3 imbalance increases. The ratio in the traditional american diet is something like is 12:1 (omega 6 to omega 3). In paleolithic time, it was 2:1 or even a 1:1 ratio. So if your omega 6 number is already very high, one way to improve the ratio is to take a high-density fish oil. It won’t bring down the omega 6 levels, but at least you can manipulate the ratio.

It’s not the true answer to everything, but hopefully, at least from the research available right now, he’s convinced that’s the way to balance things out. When those levels are not balanced, lots of inflammatory things can start going on: certain diseases, arthritis, and joints can flare up, etc.

Look for a cod liver oil which will have some additional vitamin A and D, or go with a straight fish oil. (Personally, I already take ultra-refined fish oil each day. I’ve been using Zone Labs Fish Oil since I started the Zone circa 2003. It’s expensive, but I believe it’s worth it so I’m on board with Geoff here). He’s a bigger fan of vitamin D than vitamin A. GNC has one he likes which is a triple-strength fish oil. Be cautious where you purchase your fish oil; most of them are 300mg capsules, but they say “fish oil 1000” on the front. It’s a little deceptive. Of that 1,000, only 300, or 30% are omega 3s. GNC’s is actually 90% pure. Look for “Fish Oil 1500”. The triple strength fish oil capsules are 900mg per cap. 1-2 per day is recommended. If you’ve eaten salmon that day, you can skip your dose of fish oil. It already has lots of Omega 3 in there.

One of the reasons we avoid so many foods in paleo is because of their gut-inflammatory effects. Lectins and phytates can aggravate the gut and sweep out nutrients we need. But as you are trying to avoid that, make sure you are introducing some of the beneficial bacteria that you won’t get anymore. On Paleo you’ve eliminated dairy (eg: yogurt) so you might want to look into raw sauerkraut, or kimchee or kombucha.

Regarding the adrenals and cortisol, magnesium doesn’t get as much attention as calcium, especially for women (bone health). He is not a big advocate of consuming supplemental calcium. There have been studies that show if you go over a certain amount, it increases your risk of cardiac events. You might not want to always take the 1500+ recommendation. Small tangent here: Where they arrive at the RDAs (and this applies to men as well), is sometimes just completely arbitrary. He explained that the recommended Vitamin D amount used to be 400 IU, an amount they found in a teaspoon of unrefined cod liver oil. That amount was something commonly given back in the 1900s, to keep kids from getting rickets. So it became the magic number – these levels are not necessarily grounded in real science.

That gets into the quality versus quantity area. if you consume a lot of leafy greens, or dense protein, this stimulates a lot of acid production, vitamin C is in there as well. So you have the perfect environment for calcium absorption. Magnesium balances it out. Robb Wolf is a big advocate of this: taking a magnesium supplement can actually help calm you down. (Note: I located Robb Wolf’s podcast that discusses magnesium supplements). Calcium causes constricting of muscles while magnesium is very relaxing. So, taking some magnesium can help calm you down from the stress of your day and help improve your sleep. He mentioned Zinc-magnesium aspartate. Any type of “chelated” magnesium would be an “awesome” addition to your evening run-down. Most guys might not be into chamomile tea (a good source for calcium and magnesium) so a couple pills might be a little easier. Avoid “oxide” forms which are poorly absorbed. They will generally end in “ate” such as magnesium citrate, magnesium aspartate. Look for about 400 to 600 mg.

He likes to recommend phosphatidylserine, if you’re burning out in higher intensity workouts. This is in the same category as neural transmitters. They do derive it from soy though, but it has a huge affect on blunting cortisol levels. If you can’t change the source of stress and you’re committed to the workout, the supplement can be taken once in a while. But it’s not meant to be taken for sustained periods of time.

Post-workout – anytime you work out you use your natural metabolic engines, you create free radicals, a highly reactive molecule. Antioxidants help with that. Vitamin C helps with neutralizing free radicals. Supplementing post workout can help mitigate free radicals in your system.

There’s a definite controversy around taking vitamin C and taking antioxidants around post-workout because it might blunt some of the “natural adaptation” you want, where some cortisol is good, and some free radical is good. But in his opinion, he doesn’t see enough evidence that vitamin C is going to negate the progress that much. Most people are not at the threshold where absolutely everything counts, like missing a meal. Our systems are probably not that sensitive. It’s a cheap supplement, especially for your immune system.

Geoff recommends getting tested for vitamin D. Tell your doctor you want your “25 hydroxy” tested. At this point, there is lots of research about how deficient we all are. We don’t see a lot of sun all the time at this latitude, or during overcast weather, so our bodies don’t produce enough of it.

You can get a lot of Vitamin D through diet. If you do cod liver oil you’re killing two birds with one stone. The RDA is only 600 IU, but that was increased from 400. However, personally he recommends (even not knowing what our current 25 hydroxy levels are) at least 1000 to 2000 IU. D3 is the natural form in the body. D2 is synthesized or derived from plants, but doesn’t translate into the same boost.  Personally, I am already taking 2000IU of Vitamin D3 daily. It was recommended to me by my doctor a couple years ago.

Absorption: he is an advocate of food first, but if you can’t get what you need from food, then you might need to rely on supplements. Vitamin D3 is REALLY well absorbed, especially if you take it with a small amount of fat.

Fish oil – it would be great if we could get a shipment of wild alaskan salmon every day, but there is also less likelihood of you getting mercury from the fish oil because it is super distilled. Those heavy metals have an affinity for muscle tissue, flesh, and less of an affinity (less concentration) in oil. So you’ll get more toxins out of eating fish than you would taking the oil.

Perfect world: we wouldn’t need supplements. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

Some popular performance related supplements include:

Creatine – most widely studied ergogenic aid to date. Comprised of 3 amino acids helping your body produce more ATP which means more explosive energy. Overall strength is increased. Your body naturally makes it, you get some of it through red meat (an awful lot of red meat). Women don’t respond as well as men, and 25% don’t respond at all because of their current levels. Sometimes it causes water retention, but there are chelated forms that won’t do that. He suggests creatine magnesium chelate is really awesome – Creatine Magna Power. You take less and get as good as an effect as creatine monohydrate.

Argenine – precursor to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide got really popular with viagara because it dilates muscle fibers everywhere. And that helps blood flow out and in. Think of the burn when you rep out. It can help push that fatigue out a little further by getting more blood (oxygen) in.

Something that can help directly with that burn is beta alanine. This is an amino acid derivative that can actually increase intra-muscular carnosine. Beta alanine tends to also increase surface blood flow, so you may get pins and needs sensation or even a flushed reaction.

Something called GPLC is really new, a form of carnetine that has another effect on nitric oxide production, but also on fat burning. “Really cool stuff.” It’s a little more on the expensive side but is coming out in lots of products.

If you have long days, your energy levels may be lower than desirable. Stimulants are extremely popular in the supplementation community. It puts you on your A game, something to consider. Lots of companies put together pre-workout formulas. GNC has quite a bit of them and he likes some of them. Red flag though: they contain a geranium stem extract, DMAA 1,3-dimethylamylamine. A couple teams were flagged at the CrossFit games because it was technically on the banned list. So if you have aspirations of competing, then it’s not for you.

A few companies (eg; About Time) have stevia-flavored whey protein from clean sources. It’s good for pre-workout – natural energizers, nothing over the top. Definitely geared toward someone looking for a cleaner diet and a little boost.

All these he mentioned are amino acids: creatine, argenine, glutemine.

In points of starvation, your body goes looking for amino acids, and if you don’t have enough protein in your diet, it tears down your muscle in order to release amino acids into the bloodstream. You can supplement with glutemine. If you are bedridden or have the flu, using glutemine might help you avoid losing all those gains you made at the box. It’s an excellent recovery amino acid.

Geoff also mentioned something he was discussing with Dolph called “Waxy Maize hydroxypropyl distract phosphate”. He didn’t explicitly recommend it; he just mentioned it. I think he said it was advocated by Brian MacKenzie.  Out of curiosity, I looked it up and it’s touted as “the carb that burns fat”. But lurking around the internet left me feeling like it’s a bit shady. However, I also located this study done by Shimotoyodome, Suzuki, Kameo, and Hase. The study was done with healthy subjects, but they conclude with:

…Dietary supplementation with HDP lowers postprandial GIP and increases postprandial REE and fat utilisation in healthy humans. An HDP-rich diet may therefore have beneficial implications in weight management.

So, I’m not sure about waxy maize.  That is all.

Paleo Recipes from Scappa Trattoria

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

On Sunday March 3, some of the CrossFit Mercer crew went to Scappa | A Brick Oven Trattoria. Chris Stevens, the owner and chef, prepared Fish Cakes and Paleo muffins for us. I have to say, both the fish cakes and the muffins were fantastic. The muffins had sugar on top for texture, so that part is technically not paleo. I scraped it off, but the recipe doesn’t include the sugar topping. Instead of honey, you can use agave syrup.

Chris is also a member of CrossFit member, so he has an interest is what we are trying to do.

Fish Cakes with Lemon Caper Aioli

  • 6 ounces Flounder of white fish
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp real mayonnaise (or home made mayo) [avoid most conventional oils: canola oil, veg oil, seed oil, peanut oil]
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese (skip this if you are not doing dairy)
  • 1/2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1/2 tbsp almond meal (ground up almonds) or almond flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp dried minced onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil) for frying
  • aioli sauce: 1/2 cup real mayonnaise, 4 cloves garlic minced, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp grated lemon zest, 2 tbsp capers, 1 tbsp fresh parsley, 1 pinch sea salt, 1 pinch black bepper
Cooking Steps:
  1. Fresh flounder or white fish (ground up)
  2. Combine all ingredients, except olive oil and sauce ingredients, in mixing bowl
  3. Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium high heat
  4. Form patties with hands, and drop into fry pan
  5. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until browned and crusted
  6. Make sure it is browned before flipping over
Aolio sauce:
  1. mix all ingredients in bowl
  2. cover and refrigerate
  3. can be made in advance, so it can chill while patties are cooking
  • You can use tuna or white fish, crab, shrimp or scallop (he used day boat flounder) grounded up.
  • If you are going to get fish, get it from Whole Foods or Wegmans. You’ll pay more but definitely get a better product.
  • When you puree fish, it will congeal well (it won’t fall apart).
  • Be careful with Almond milk unless its unsweetened. Blue Diamond unsweetened is pretty good, and ShopRite sometimes has it on sale. (Thanks Delaney).
  • The oil he used is half extra virgin olive oil and half coconut oil. The issue is coconut oil changes color when you bring it to a certain temperature. Also, the smoking point is higher, so it doesn’t burn anything.
  • You can also bake the cakes in the oven, but Chris’ opinion is it tastes better with a little fat with it.
  • Sear the cakes off, then put them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 7 or 8 minutes
  • Salad prep trick: If you are making salad, don’t douse the greens with the dressing. Best thing is to put it on the side of the bowl, then toss it against the side of the bowl. It doesn’t drown the lettuce, and it spreads it out evenly.
  • You can also make the fish cakes smaller as an h’orderve, or larger like a crab cake.
  • Next week he will post another recipe, figs wrapped in bacon.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Muffins


  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (Whole Foods or Wegmans have organic dark choc chips)

Cooking steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. line a muffin pan with muffin cups
  3. In a large bown, mix together coconut oil and honey. Whisk in eggs until combined. Add in vanilla and mix.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and fill the muffin liners 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Miscellaneous stuff we chatted about:

  • I asked if sweet potatoes are paleo or not. Avoid regular yellow and white potatoes. Sweet potatoes in moderation are fine on Paleo, and I need them because of my endurance events. I found this article which defends sweet potatoes on Paleo. They have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.
  • It was recommended I check out Brian MacKenzie’s blog, since I do endurance events.
  • 3Fuel – try it for endurance events while on Paleo. Keeps you fueled on long, endurance runs.
  • A few people recommended Aqua Hydrate performance water. Apparently this was created by Mark Wahlberg and Puff Daddy (working with John Cochran from Fiji water), haha.
  • Take a look at Beach Plums from Jalma Farms, high in antioxidants.
  • Check out the website for CrossFit-related t-shirts.
  • Make Kale Chips on your own. It’s easy and much cheaper than buying them. Make them crispy enough, and add a spicy hot sauce. 350 for 10 to 20 minutes, flipping them around half way (thanks to Katy).
  • If you do the 30 day whole food challenge: Don’t try to re-create junk food with paleo ingredients because you want to eliminate the desire for sugar.

Thursday’s Meals

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Paleo Diet saga continues…

Lunch included a whole bag of spinach with peppers, etc, and dinner was a recipe from Civilized Caveman for grass-fed beef burgers with avocado, sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper. It was great.



Banana Bread Sans Sugar and Bread

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

A recipe I will need to try, posted from Just Eat Real Food by Donna on Facebook:

No Sugar, No Grains, Easy and Amazing Banana Bread
(There appears to be lots of good stuff on

4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup coconut oil or grass-fed butter, melted
4 free-range eggs
1tsp vanilla
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup organic coconut flour
1 heaping tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
optional add-ins: 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, raisins, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine everything together in a medium bowl and mix.
  3. Grease a bread pan with coconut oil or butter
  4. Add to pan and bake for ~45 min or until center is set and top is golden.

* Bananas should be extremely ripe (brown). If they are not overly ripe, your bread will not be as sweet and probably not taste as good. If you don’t have non-ripe bananas, add about a 1/3 cup of maple syrup.

** Purchase coconut flour here: Organic Coconut Flour 3 Lbs by Nutiva

Natural Foods for Running Long

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

In my quest to follow the paleo diet, and still run long distances, I need to determine good foods to eat during long training runs or races without resorting back to GUs or Shot Blocks, etc. I found this list of 10 natural race food alternatives from

Race nutrition can be an experiment if you aim to fuel with whole foods as much as possible. It’s important to look for food that is natural, compact, easy to carry, and tastes good. These 10 race foods fit those criteria. Give them a try when training for your next race.

1. Dates

These can be used for making your own energy bars, or can be eaten on their own. They contain natural sugars and simple carbs that will keep you running over long distances. They’re also easy to chew.

More: 5 Foods to Try This Spring

2. 100% Natural Coconut Water

This drink provides the electrolytes your body needs to replenish the minerals you lose through sweat. It also tastes great and is extremely refreshing on a run.

3. Homemade Baby Food

Use a variety of fruits and vegetables to make your own “baby” race food. Anything is fair game, so get creative and use your favorite fresh ingredients to blend flavors that you will love. Just mush everything up so it’s easy to digest. You can pack it in small Ziploc bags and just suck it out like a gel when you’re ready to fuel.

More: How to Fuel Your Body for Energy

4. Sunflower Seed Butter

This has a great nutty taste and is a source of both healthy fat and protein. Sometimes you can find these in small gel-like packs that are easy to carry. Otherwise you can pack your own in small Ziploc bags. A good brand is Sunbutter, which is completely peanut-free and gluten-free.

5. Frozen Grapes

Frozen grapes are just as sweet as candy. They cool your mouth and they’re easy to carry. Freeze small bags of grapes and carry them on your long runs.

More: 5 Best Carbs for Athletes

6. Homemade Gels

Making your own gel is fun and saves you money. Here’s a recipe to try.


7 and 1/3 tablespoons of honey
3/4 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses
1/10 teaspoons of table salt

7. Watermelon Dipped in Salt

The watermelon rehydrates you while the salt replenishes your electrolytes. This is a refreshing and satisfying snack that can immediately boost your energy and help you pick up the pace.

More: 7 New Super Foods


8. Dehydrated Fruit

I bought my own dehydrator so I could make a lot more of this. Dehydrating fruit allows it to keep longer and it’s easier to carry. I also find it sometimes makes fruit taste sweeter. With a dehydrator you can make your own natural fruit rolls, and you can even dehydrate meats and vegetables. You could almost carry entire meals. The possibilities are endless.

9. Honey

Use raw, natural honey as a sugar source. Your body will appreciate the fuel and the good quality honey can also boost your immune system.

More: Eat Green to Run Better This Spring

10. Navitas Power Snacks

These are just a combination of fruit and nuts. They come in small bite sized pieces and they are gluten-free and dairy-free. They’re less chewy than a bar, but not as watery as a gel. I enjoy the consistency and the flavors are delicious.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods during training and long runs. On race day, always stick to what you know will work.

#9 Powerfood: Olive Oil

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Olive oil helps lower cholesterol, and boosts the immune system with mono-unsaturated fat and vitamin E.

It helps fight against obesity, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Some sidekicks include canola oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil. But avoid other vegetable and hydrogenated oils, trans-fatty acids and margarine.

Basically, olive oil helps control food cravings, will help burn fat and keep cholesterol levels in check.

#8 Powerfood: Peanut Butter

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

All-natural, sugar-free peanut butter helps boost testosterone, build muscle and burn fat. It contains protein, mono-unsaturated fat, vitamin E, niacin and magnesium.

It fights against obesity, cardiovascular disease, muscle loss, and wrinkles. Some close relatives include cashew and almond butters. But avoid mass-produced sugary and trans-fatty peanut butters.

Unfortunately, peanut butter has lots of calories and is not on the menu at most restaurants, but it contains mono-unsaturated fats that help increase the body’s production of testosterone.

In one 18-month experiment, people who included peanut butter into their diet maintained weight loss better than those on low-fat plans. Also, a recent study from the University of Illinois showed that those who had mono-unsaturated fats (olive oil) before a meal ate 25 percent fewer calories than those who didn’t.

Peanut butter is also great because it is a quick snack and tastes great. It doesn’t leave you feeling deprived. Spread it on apple slices or add to otherwise boring, bland-tasting smoothies.

Just remember two things: you shouldn’t overeat it because it has a high fat content (limit to 3 tablespoons a day), and use all-natural peanut butter instead of the mass-produced brands that have added sugar.

#7 Powerfood: Lean Meats/Poultry/Fish

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Lean steak, chicken, and fish are good for building muscle and improving the immune system.

These foods include protein, iron, zinc, creatine (beef), omega-3 fatty acids (fish), vitamin B6 (chicken and fish), B12, phosphorous, and potassium, which help fight against obesity, mood disorders, memory loss, and heart disease.

Some sidekicks include: shellfish, canadian bacon, and lean pork loin. Avoid imposters like: sausage, bacon, cured meats, ham, fatty cuts of steak like T-bone and rib eye.

Protein should be the base of any diet plan since it is a muscle-building nutrient. Turkey breast is one of the leanest meats available and it contains nearly one-third of the daily requirement of niacin and vitamin B6. Dark meats contain zinc and iron. Note: avoid self-basting turkeys because they are injected with fat.

Beef is the top food source for creatine, which your body uses when you life weights. However, beef contains saturated fats, so look for rounds or loins which are extra-lean. Sirloins and New York strips are less fatty than prime ribs and T-bones.

If you need to avoid saturated fats, include more tuna and salmon in your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids help lower the leptin hormone in your body, which is associated with storing calories as fat. A research study done at the University of Wisconson found that misc with lower leptin levels had faster metabolisms. A Mayo Clinic study of two African tribes found that leptin levels were nearly five times lower in the tribe that ate fish frequently, than the tribe that primarily ate vegetables.

Researchers in Stockholm found that men who had no fish in their diet had a higher risk (three times) of prostate cancer than those who ate it regularly.

#6 Powerfood: Eggs

Monday, December 20th, 2010

The protein and vitamins A and B12 in Eggs are great for building muscle and burning fat. They also help fight against obesity.  Vitamin B12 is necessary for the breakdown of fat.

Sidekicks of eggs are just the egg whites, commonly known as “Egg Beaters”. They have fewer calories, no fat, but just as much of the nutrients present in the whole egg.

Doctors long avoided recommending eggs as part of a diet because two eggs contain more than your recommended daily value of cholesterol. Eating egg whites reduces the amount of cholesterol, but it turns out that more and more research shows that eating an egg or two a day will not raise cholesterol levels.

Most blood cholesterol is made by the body from dietary fat, not dietary cholesterol. That’s why eating them daily is no longer considered a danger – take advantage of the protein available in them. They have the highest biological value of protein of any food. This value is a measure of how well your body’s protein needs are satisfied by the eggs, and it’s high! That means they are more effective at muscle building than other sources of protein, such as beef and milk.

I have two to three egg whites daily, sometimes with an extra protein source like turkey bacon. I must get back into the habit of having McCann’s Oatmeal with my daily dose of eggs.