Kale and Potato Soup

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Here is a healthy, easy meal that I made last week when it was deathly cold outside. It gave me something to look forward to on my walks home from the gym. No matter your cooking ability, this one is pretty hard to mess up and it makes a nice amount of food that you can easily reheat.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 bunches of kale (tough stems removed)

1 onion finely chopped

1 lb. sausage (Eat Well- get ground pork and add sausage seasonings that you prefer- there are many different ways to do this depending on how spicy you like your food, Google it)

8 cups chicken broth

1 large white sweet potato

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

Brown sausage meat in olive oil. Add onion and cook until onions are soft. Add potatoes and stir for a few minutes. Add chicken stock and simmer until potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes). Add kale and cook for a few minutes (until kale is wilted and bright green, but not soggy). Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Green Smoothie For Breakfast

IMAG3815Since starting the Eat Well Challenge a couple weeks ago, I have woken up every morning and made a green smoothie. At first I was skeptical; I didn’t think a smoothie would fill me up. But as usual, my wife was right. A smoothie for breakfast leaves me satisfied for hours and gives me energy to kick off the day with a hard workout. Here’s one variation of what I have made:

1/2 C mango kombucha

1 banana

1 red Swiss chard leaf

sm handful spinach

sm handful parsley

2 brazil nuts

4 walnuts

2 splashes filtered water

1 T finely ground chia seeds

5 ice cubes

Blend the ingredients and enjoy!

Shepherd’s Pie

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Eat Well is in full force and here is a recipe from Sunday nights potluck.

Funny story is that I forgot to take a picture of the first batch that I brought to the potluck, so this lovely piece of deliciousness pictured is from round two. And let me tell you it was as good as the first, for those of you that were at the potluck a few days ago.

The original recipe is from my favorite paleo cookbook, Well Fed. I have cooked this many times, but have made my own additions to this recipe.

The author, Melissa Joulwan has another book out that I do not own yet, Well Fed 2, and I’m sure it has equally tasty recipes in it.

Here are the instructions on cooking this dish for those of you that are interested:

Ingredients

1 batch cauliflower rice- (riced in a food processor)
1.5 TBSP- coconut oil
1 medium onion- diced (about 1 cup)
2 carrots- peeled and finely diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
2 lb. ground lamb (I used ground beef instead)
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 tsp coconut aminos
1 tsp dried rosemary
.5 tsp dried thyme leaves
3 egg whites
paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Over medium heat, add the coconut oil for 3 minutes. Once it is heated add the onion and carrot and reduce heat to medium-low and cover; allow the veggies to get soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic to the pan until fragrant, about 1 minute.

With your hands crumble in the ground lamb/beef and break up big chunks with a wooden spoon.

Sauté until the meat is browned, 5-10 minutes. Taste and season with pepper.

Add tomato paste, broth, coconut aminos, rosemary and thyme to the pan.

Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Then let mixture simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes.

Set the pan aside and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Scramble the egg whites until frothy and blend into the meat mixture.

Add 1 TBSP of coconut oil to another small pot and heat on medium. Once oil is heated add the riced cauliflower along with 1/8 cup water.

Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes then take off heat.

Now it’s time to combine everything. In a 12×6 baking dish, first put in the meat mixture and smooth it out evenly. Next, add the cauliflower rice to the top and also spread out evenly. Lightly sprinkle the top with paprika.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top begins to brown.

Remove and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.

Keep Eating Well

 

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For those of you who committed to the Eat Well Challenge and have made it this far without cheating or dropping out; great job!

I mean it; great freaking job. You took on a difficult challenge, and to this point, you have followed through. You should be proud of your efforts.

Hang in there. It’s not over yet. We have to make it just over one more week to get to the finish line. Don’t stumble now. Just stay the course and you can party when it’s over!

But don’t party too hard. If you’re like me, this has been an eye opening experience. I now realize I don’t have to eat poorly, and that eating poorly is detrimental to my body functioning well. This should be common sense, but for many of us it just didn’t register until we started this challenge.

Eating poorly is letting yourself off the hook. Don’t let yourself off the hook. I don’t know about you but I feel a lot better now than I did when I was eating like crap. Use this experience to guide you going forward and make healthy eating the norm.

One Step At A Time

10422080_942381635780033_319106715722349795_nOf the people who submitted their goals for the New Year, 20% of you eluded to wanting to improve your body composition. Countless others have mentioned wanting to improve their body comp in class and one-on-one meetings.

For those of you not doing the Eat Well Challenge, what is your game plan? Do you have one?

Does losing weight, increasing lean muscle mass, decreasing body fat, or whatever your specific goal, really matter to you?

Or was it just a logical goal to put down that is more wishful thinking than anything, and if you happen to stumble across it through 2015 it would be a job well done?

One month of the year is already past us, some who started off on the right track have now resorted to their old ways because it is comfortable common ground that they have to put very little time and energy into doing.

If you haven’t read coach Kayser’s blog post from last week, do so. To echo what he is saying in four words, “nothing good comes easy”.

Isn’t that true for anything that you have accomplished in life? Don’t you feel great when all of your hard work has paid off and you achieve what you put so much effort in to?

Sure we all want to win the lottery, but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, so why not have a backup plan.

Whatever your goal is around body composition, does it seem like an insurmountable mountain to climb? Does the thought of it alone just depress you or make you nervous to even take the first step?

One of the great life lessons that I have learned from this Eat Well Challenge, is just that- you need to take the first step. Personally speaking, and you can ask my wife or any of the coaches how nervous I was to begin this challenge, I was actually more scared of doing this challenge than taking a step into fatherhood, which is now around five weeks away.

How foolish! Looking back the thought of not being able to order that pizza or grab a fresh pack of Swedish fish whenever I wanted was terrifying! I now know how stupid I was for saying and thinking that way.

For the past five weeks, I have told myself just to keep taking that next step; keep putting yourself in smart situations; keep your eye on the prize.

I can honestly say that I feel the best that I EVER have! Not only because of my physical health, but because I have done what I said I was going to do. I did not take the easy way out. Mentally I feel as strong as ever, because I know how hard I worked in just this short amount of time to get to where I am. I would not have changed a thing!

What is holding you back from getting started on your pathway to achieving your body compostion goals? Fear, procrastination, laziness? Ditch your excuses and get a game plan together.

If you need help with putting together a plan or being held accountable, hit up your personal coach.

Take the first step towards climbing that mountain in your life. Don’t look back; keep taking those small steps, all while keeping your eye on the prize!

Healthy Eating: All It Takes Is Discipline And A Game Plan

foodHere’s the deal: eating well is not that hard. It just takes is a bit of discipline and planning.

Leading up to our Eat Well Challenge, my diet was absolute crap. I’m talking cake, ice cream, cookies, and burritos regularly. It’s no surprise that thinking about cleaning up my diet and eating cleanly made me anxious.

But after waiting for that “hard” part of cleaning up my diet to kick in during the first week of our challenge, and then the second week, it never came. This barrier that I thought I would have to get over never ended up presenting itself. I am not saying that this is always the case, but for me it was. If you hit that barrier, dig deep and bust through it. You are strong enough!

Not once have I craved sugar, pizza, or anything I’m not allowed to eat during this challenge. This isn’t due to luck or superior will power, it’s because I came up with a game plan and then executed the plan. It is that simple. The reason I’m not ordering Chinese food in a pinch is because I have a refrigerator stocked with good, nutritious food.

Every Sunday night we meal plan and make a grocery list. This usually gets us through Wednesday when we make another list and go to the store. Is game planning and going to the store a hassle? Sure, it is a little time consuming and puts a dent in the wallet, but to me it’s worth it. Since I started eating to fuel my body rather than just feed it with whatever food was available to me, I feel fantastic. You can’t put a price on that.

I get it, you’re busy. So if making two weekly trips to the store isn’t feasible, then invest in a meal plan from a company like Origin Meals to get you to your goal of maintaining a healthy diet.

My number one piece of advice to make this work is plan ahead. One of our members has spent two weeks of our six-week challenge on the road. He did a little research before his trips and found that the two cities he would visit, Boston and Dallas, had companies like Origin Meals that would deliver his meals to his hotel.

We are all busy. We can all come up with ten excuses as to why we can’t make a healthy diet a priority. But let’s face it, excuses are a way to justify our weakness. I know; I was that guy four weeks ago. I’d make every excuse in the book to justify making poor food choices. This is why I can tell you that if you really want to dial in your nutrition you can. Suck it up, make sacrifices, and get it done. Don’t be weak. You will feel better, sleep better, and perform better in the gym.

It comes down to whether you want it or not and whether or not you are willing to work hard to attain your goal of maintaining a healthy diet. Commit to your goal and stop making excuses.

Choices

stressA couple years ago I saw Chris Kresser talk at PaleoFX. In a panel about adrenal fatigue he mentioned that he deliberately chose to reduce his patient load as a way to manage stress.

As a child of immigrant strivers, this was mind blowing. Let’s just say that in my family culture, self-compassion is not valued.

But one of the great privileges of living in America is that we have choices. Grind, or unwind. More health, or more wealth. In the abstract, the choice is easy, but in practice, not so.

Here’s the thing, and pay attention paleo dieters. Your gut is responsible for getting nutrients into your body. Fatigue and stress severely compromise gut function. So eating nutritious food is only part of the battle. If your gut can’t absorb nutrients you will never be truly healthy.

Unfortunately you can’t buy gut health at the organic grocery. Which brings us back to choices. What’s it going to be today? Are you going to skip your lunch so you can wolf a muffin at your desk?  Skip your workout so you can work late? Get up before the crack of dawn to joust with psychos on the freeway? Where does it end?

Career is important, but I am here to tell you that career success is a booby prize if you feel like crap all the time.

More health or more wealth? That is the question.

Creamy Spiced Kale

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Tired of eating the same old chicken breast, wishing that you had a great side dish to compliment it?

Say no more.

Try this tasty kale dish that takes less than ten minutes before its ready to devour.

Ingredients:

- 1 large bunch of kale

- 2 teaspoons Ras el Hamout (bunch of spices thrown together- look below)

- 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

- pinch of salt

- 1 teaspoon coconut oil

- 1/2 cup coconut milk (make sure to buy a brand without guar gum in the ingredients)

- (optional for more spice)- 1/2 jalapeño pepper finely chopped or 2 tsp crushed red pepper

Ras el Hanout- This is good to have on hand for different dishes that you make. Combine all spices and herbs together and mix. Store in airtight container.

- 2 tsp salt

- 2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp powdered ginger

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

- Wash kale and remove large stems. Tear into smallish pieces. Don’t dry off leaves before cooking. Wet leaves are good for steaming and softening harder greens.

- Over medium heat, toss in half the kale and stir until it begins to wilt and then throw in the remaining leaves. Cover with lid.

- In a small bowl mix Ras el Hanout, garlic and salt. If you chose the optional jalapeño or crushed red peppers, add them in.

- When leaves are dark and have begun to wilt, remove the lid and slide the kale to the side of the pan.

- Now add coconut oil to the pan and pour spices directly into the melted coconut oil.

- Lastly pour in the coconut milk and stir until everything is mixed evenly.

This was an instant classic at our house and probably will  be in yours too!!!

Three Tips For Paleo Noobs

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Here are three unobvious tips for Paleo noobs.

1) You need more carbs. Most people source carbs primarily from bread, pasta, and other starchy foods. When you eliminate those things from your diet, you can unintentionally find yourself on a carb-restriction diet. Pretty soon you will go into ketosis which is usually accompanied by fogginess, fatigue, sleep disruptions, and other unpleasantness. This can be easily avoided. Rather than eliminate carbs, replace them with fresh squashes, root vegetables, and maybe a little fruit. At my house we like to bake sweet potato fries, which have a lot of carbs and a very favorable nutritional profile.

2) Turn off the TV. According to the Yale Rudder center kids watch about 14 food advertisements per day and most of those ads are for junk food. Psychologists know that television advertising “primes” eating behavior. That’s a fancy way of saying that watching television makes you eat more crappy food. Eating clean is hard enough without being constantly blasted with imagery of hot-fudge brownie bowls. That toxic nonsense does not belong in your brain or your body. Do yourself a favor and turn off the tube.

3) Get to bed early. The reason ice cream shops and bars are open late is because night time is when people make the worst decisions. This happens because of “decision fatigue”. At the end of the day you are so depleted from making decisions that you are more likely to break down and do something self-destructive. Like a werewolf, you know what the full moon brings, but you don’t need to lock yourself in a cage. But do be self-aware. Understand that feeling tempted in the evening is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you’re human. Short-circuit poor decisions by climbing into bed early.

Be strong, and remember, you are not alone!

Don’t Fear the Fat

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As a kid, it was common knowledge in my family that eating fat would cause health problems. We would usually opt for skim milk and margarine, and it was the norm to see boxes of food labeled “fat free” in the pantry. Even after years of following the paleo diet, I can still understand where the confusion came from back then. It only seems right that if you don’t want to be overweight, (and deal with the associated health problems) you shouldn’t eat fat.

This was a legitimate obstacle for me as I was making my way into the paleo world. It wasn’t until I opened myself up to the possibility that what I was reading could actually make sense and tried it, that I felt the positive difference that eating a balanced diet including fat can make. Seeing the same message broadcast to the masses this summer helped further drive the message home too.

It can take a little digging to find some of the best ways to incorporate healthy fat into your diet, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Here’s a list of some of my favorite sources:

Coconut Oil – Great for cooking at high heats and is a much more well-balanced fat than many cheaper cooking oils.

Ghee – Created through a heating and separating process, ghee is a dairy-free fat made from butter. It is great for cooking, but even better for blending with coconut oil and coffee to make bulletproof coffee.

Avocado – Perfect as a side or a topping for chicken, with eggs in the morning, or mixed up with chopped tomatoes, onions and salt and pepper for homemade guacamole.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Makes for a perfect base for paleo mayo and salad dressings.

Animal Fat – Just make sure you’re getting meat from animals that were raised the way they were intended to be (think grass fed and pasture raised) and you don’t need to buy the lean cuts.

Fish – This has been a tough one for me because I’ve never been a fan of the taste of fish. Proper seasoning has helped me develop more of an appetite for it.

There are MANY other options out there beyond this list, but this is a good place to start. Even if you’re not participating in our challenge, you can still benefit from increasing your intake of this valuable nutrient. Add some in with every meal – it will not make you fat!