Why I Eat Rice

rice
I can’t help but laugh as I write this. It’s ok if you’re laughing too. Let’s face it. Asian people eat a lot of rice.

But for me it was not always thus. When I first discovered the Paleolithic nutrition plan, I was neurotically strict.

No grains means no grains, right? I was so strict that I would discard the rice bowl at the Korean BBQ. I was that guy.

But something always bugged me about the eliminationist aspect of Paleo. Ethnic differences are a matter of evolutionary forces. I don’t look like other people. Maybe I shouldn’t eat like other people?

It’s not so far-fetched. Geneticists know that most Asians lack the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol. (Which explains the red, puffy faces you see at the karaoke bar) If most Asians don’t tolerate alcohol is it so unreasonable to think that most Asians do tolerate rice?

My theory was put to the test the first time I visited my mom after going Paleo. In my mother’s house you do not refuse food. So I ate the rice she put in front of me, convinced that I would be convulsed and retching into the toilet within minutes.

Lo and behold, I was fine. I did not get a headache and drive my car into a tree. My butt didn’t explode. Cool.

In the ensuing months I learned something very important. Rice doesn’t make me sick but it does make me fat. I eat rice sparingly now, primarily in the context of a recovery meal, when I am very motivated to get my insulin levels up.

The main point I want to make here is that I only made this discovery because I started from a clean slate. I knew what it felt like to be on a clean diet so I had a point of reference when I started to introduce a questionable food.

If you want to learn how to thrive; if you are sick of one-size-fits-all diets, join us in our Eat Well challenge. The challenge is six weeks long. The first four weeks will be a reset where we rid our diets of foods that are known to be problematic (think processed foods). During the final two weeks we will systematically reintroduce the foods we eliminated to see how our bodies react to them.

It’s going to be awesome. Register here.

Slow Bone Broth

huehnersuppe

Last year I went to PaleoFX and heard about the wonders of something called “slow bone broth”. I was intrigued. Why is everybody talking about this stuff? It must be off the chain! So I cornered a bunch of the panelists to interrogate them about this miraculous elixir, and was disappointed to discover that slow bone broth is exactly the same broth that my mom used to make. It’s broth. Made with bones.

I guess nowadays most people make broth with bouillon cubes or buy it from a cardboard container. Bouillon is basically salty brown colloid. It looks like what you would get if you pressed mouse turds into a cube. It’s full of chemicals, preservatives and other weird “flavor science” developed in an evil laboratory somewhere in New Jersey. Bouillon broth is gross. Don’t eat it.

Real bone broth is full of minerals, glucosamine, amino acids, gelatin and other goodies that your body needs. And it’s absurdly easy to make. Here’s how I do it. First I buy a roasted chicken. I get chickens from Kowalski’s because the quality is high and the seasoning is reasonable. I peel off all the meat and skin.  Then I dump all the bones and whatnot into a slow cooker, along with some peppercorns, a bay leaf and some vegetables, cover everything with filtered water and cook on low.

The next morning you have amazing bone broth. You have to strain out all the bones so I pour the broth over a strainer into a mug. This broth is INSANELY GREAT. It’s like drinking a chicken. Since we’ve been making bone broth I don’t even take glucosamine pills anymore. My knees feel great which is remarkable considering that I’ve been training twice a day.

A couple of tips about bone broth. Once you take some broth out, you should put a mug of water into the slow cooker. That way you can keep the broth going for days. Some bone broth advocates will keep broth going for a week but we usually start over every few days.

A lot of broth makers will drink a quart a day which is kind of nutty. They must not leave the house much. I just have a couple of mugs, one for breakfast, and one in a thermos that I take with me in the morning.

One last tip, for those of you who are trying to lean out. I don’t know what it is about this stuff but it really mutes my appetite…

Eat Well – The Nutritional Challenge That YOU Need

Kale
Eating well is a constant challenge. We live in a world where gluttony is the norm and the worst food for you is the cheapest to get and easiest to find. Despite the challenges that eating well presents, there truly are countless benefits for those dedicated to putting their diet first.

This January we are kicking off our first nutritional challenge in quite some time. Our past events were plenty successful, but unfortunately the benefits were usually only as long-lasting as the challenge itself. So this time we are taking a slightly different approach.

Everyone’s body reacts differently to certain foods. A certain food might sit perfectly fine with some, while leaving others with major digestive issues. It is crucial to plan for these differences. This is why we will follow an approach outlined in Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code, where we will use the foundations of the paleo diet to figure out which foods work best for you.

The challenge will last six weeks. During the first four weeks we will reset our diets by eliminating anything that could be problematic. The last two weeks will be a trial period where we systematically reintroduce the foods that have been removed to see how our bodies tolerate them after we’ve gone without them for a month.

I’ll be the first to admit that this will not be easy. However, the knowledge that you will leave with at the end of the six weeks is something that you can use to inform your eating choices for the rest of your life. Worth it? I think so.

Preparation and community are the two pieces that will make or break our collective success, so we are going to host group gatherings every Sunday night to hang out, eat amazing food, and answer questions that come up over the previous week.

We are fortunate enough to have our friends at Origin Meals on board to help too. Everyone that signs up will get three pre-made, challenge-approved meals on the night of our first get-together. Origin Meals will also provide information about how their meal plans work, and will supply free samples of their culinary awesomeness.

We will provide all of the details on what you can and cannot eat at the opening night get-together of the challenge. My challenge to you: sign up!

Here are the details:

Sign up on Zen Planner
$50/person (includes introductory week meals from Origin)
Opening night – Sunday Jan. 4, 6:00pm
Superbowl party – Sunday Jan. 25, 5:00pm
Closing Party – Saturday Feb. 14, 4:00pm
Weekly get togethers will be on Sundays at 6:00pm throughout.

Need Something Easy In the Morning?

Breakfast Casserole

What do you do for breakfast when you are in a rush? Do you grab a banana, eat a quick yogurt, or do you just get caffeinated and try to make it through until lunch?

Most of us are in a rush in the mornings, but all of us need fuel for the day. Something that works well for me, so that I don’t always need to be cooking in the mornings, are egg bakes. There are many variations but most paleo options have similar ingredients.

What works well for us is preparing this on Sunday so that we don’t have to slave over the stove on weekday mornings.

Here is one that we made recently that was quite tasty. We used turnips, but a safer bet if you haven’t tried an egg bake before may be rutabagas or sweet potatoes.

Ingredients

- Coconut Oil
- 3 turnips, 2 rutabagas, or  2 sweet potatoes- your choice (peeled)
- .5- 1.0 pounds of ground pork or beef (we cut the casings off of 3 spicy italian sausages)
- 4 scallions, green parts only (chopped)
- 8 eggs, beaten

Breakfast Casserole

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Grease a baking dish with coconut oil
3. Grate the root vegetables or use a food processor
4. Brown the meat with a little oil in a large pan until not quite cooked through
5. Then toss in rest of ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes
6. Spoon into baking dish and cook for 45 minutes
7. Enjoy for the next few days!!!

To carb, or not to carb

Bread

There is a common misconception that following the paleo way of eating also means you need to stay away from carbohydrates. While this is most definitely not the case, I can understand where some of the confusion comes from.

Following these guidelines is not nearly as much about how much of a specific nutrient group you eat as it is about the quality of the source. With foods like most grains and legumes doing more harm than good to most people’s digestive systems, it is generally recommended that we go without them. Because these foods are very carb-dense, elimination of them can lead to a reduction in your overall carbohydrate intake. This is not a recommendation to go without this important nutrient, but rather a side effect of getting rid of these problematic foods.

Especially if you are following an intense exercise regiment like CrossFit, carbs need to be a regular piece of your diet. It is getting them from a source that works well with your body that can be the tricky part. Everyone’s requirements can be different, but generally having a few servings of fruit, lots of veggies, and some root vegetables on a daily basis (especially immediately following your workouts) leaves most people with plenty of carbs for their body’s needs.

How is your relationship with sleep?

10653734_887950794556451_8639299496106600015_nWe have all heard the recommendations for the amount of sleep you should get nightly numerous times: between seven and nine hours depending on the individual and other variables involved.

If sleep were a line of credit, how often would you be borrowing against it for each hour you under slept?

Are you in serious sleep debt? Do you forget what it feels like to even get a night of “average sleep?”

Harvard Health Publications says, “Once sleep deprivation — with its fuzzy-headedness, irritability, and fatigue — has us in its sway, we can hardly recall what it’s like to be fully rested. And as the sleep debt mounts, the health consequences increase, putting us at growing risk for weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.”

Studies done by Penn State University College of Medicine, talk about how we cannot fully recoup our Workweek Sleep Deficit just by sleeping in on the weekends and napping.

Another article by the “Sleep Doctor” himself, Michael J Breus, talks about a few other factors you are facing because of not getting the proper amount of sleep, including:

  • Diminished cognitive performance
  • Reduced alertness
  • Increased inflammation
  • Interference with healthy immune functions
  • Triggers metabolic changes
  • Impulse to overeat
  • Increased insulin resistance
  • Disruptive hormone levels
  • Elevated blood pressure

Now think about how this may affect you in the gym. Our workouts are demanding enough to stack the odds even more against us by not sleeping enough.

There are plenty of things that life can throw at us, but typically, for most of us, it is no more than a night or two off the beaten path of our normal sleep pattern (parents of new borns not included) that throw us off our game.

If you are looking for results in the gym, sleep should be pretty high on the totem pole of priorities. Help yourself out by going to bed around the same time every night. Stay away from electronics up to two hours before bedtime. Sleep in a cold dark room.

If you are no longer in college your motto shouldn’t still be, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” In this world of instant gratification, sacrifice an episode of Game of Thrones and set yourself up for success tomorrow!

Holiday nutrition game plan

Apple_pie

It’s that time of year again; the holidays are right around the corner!

The holidays are a fun time of year filled with family, friends and festivities, but they also present a challenge when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. Bad food choices are everywhere you go from late November through the new year. But if you come up with a game plan, and have self-discipline, this year’s holidays can be stress free when it comes to your diet.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the holidays and hit 2015 with your nutrition in check:

Don’t go it alone. Enlist a family member or friend and hold each other accountable for your holiday eating habits. This doesn’t mean guilt one another when you drink too much eggnog, but if you have someone you’re accountable to you might think twice before reaching for that second piece of pumpkin pie.

Moderation is key. It’s okay to eat bad food sparingly. Maybe one slice of pie per week, or whatever makes sense for your situation. Enjoy the holidays but don’t go off the deep end.

Work out. Stay active with backyard football games, hockey on the pond, family plank challenges, or whatever makes you sweat. In other words, don’t stuff your face and sit on the couch. Keep moving.

Drink a lot of water. Drink a glass of water before meals. Water is essential to digestion, but it also makes you feel full.

Opt for smaller portions and eat slowly. Try to fight the urge to go to pound town and inhale your food. Chew and enjoy your food.

Don’t binge on alcohol. Liquid calories are the worst and quickly derail your healthy nutrition habits.

Eat until you are satisfied, not full. After you eat, wait fifteen minutes and drink more water. Then, if you are still hungry, eat some more.

Don’t stress, it’s the holidays. Come up with a game plan to make good decisions and follow-through.

Stay tuned for details on our 2015 Nutrition Challenge.



Simple Paleo Chili

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset This recipe is great because it knocks out two common complaints that I hear from people looking to start eating better. First, it is really easy to make, and second it makes enough food for more than just a couple of servings. It’s also a perfect dish for this *shiver* time of year.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 lb. ground beef 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used 2 tsp crushed garlic instead)
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
28oz. can diced tomatoes
15oz. can tomato sauce
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne

Here’s how to make it:

Cook the ground beef in a frying pan with garlic and onion until it browns. Drain all excess fat from pan and add to crock pot with other ingredients. Mix thoroughly and then cook on low for 6-7 hours. BAM, that’s it! Now, you eat.

I found this recipe on a site called Paleo Grubs and for the most part followed it as it was listed. I’ve used their site for numerous recipes in the past and recommend checking them out if you’re looking to change up your routine a bit.

Thanksgiving without the hang-over

food

Sure, this recipe doesn’t have the mashed-potatoes and gravy with turkey and stuffing, but it leaves the same after affect where you want to just keep crawling back for more.

Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash- Here are the ingredients, how we cooked it and I would encourage you to put your own little touch into it:

2-3 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed (the recipe we had called for two squash, but we had extra stuffing and wished we would have had more squash on the ready).

1 small head of cauliflower (don’t get one that’s too big)

1-1.5 lb. of ground beef

1 package of mushrooms (any kind will do)

2 apples, diced

1 yellow onion

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

2 Tbsp coconut aminos

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 dried minced garlic

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Cut squash in halves and remove seeds. Place the open side on your baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done, and you’re good to go, if you press on the outside and it gives a bit.

3. Rice your cauliflower in a food processor, while you cook the squash.

4. Add cauliflower to a saucepan over medium heat, along with 2 Tbsp of water and 2 Tbsp of coconut aminos. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the cauliflower shrinks down a bit.

5. While the rice is cooking, add chopped onions and apples to a large skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes then add ground beef. Cook until beef is cooked through half way, then add the mushrooms.

6. Let ingredients cook down for a bit longer, then add the seasonings from above, coconut milk, and vinegars to the saucepan. Mix throughly.

7. When both the cauliflower rice and beef mixture are done cooking, combine them – either in the large skillet or large bowl and mix them up.

8. Once your squash is done cooking, flip over and add your concoction. Sprinkle pecan pieces on the top of the stuffing and cook uncovered for 8 minutes.

Have fun and don’t worry if you eat it all in one sitting!

Easy Breakfast Hash

hash 11.11.53 AM

If you’re like me and wake up by four o’clock every morning, you want a hassle-free way to get some quick fuel with your coffee to get the day going.

Try making this easy hash recipe ahead of time for stress-free mornings.

Instructions:

  1. Buy vegetables for roasting. Root veggies work well; we used russet potato, red potato, onion (other options are parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, etc).
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Wash, peel, and chop vegetables into bite sized cubes/pieces.
  4. Put chopped vegetables in a big bowl and toss with just enough oil to coat it all (we used olive oil).
  5. Season with whatever you like, but save the salt for when you take the veggies out of the oven so it doesn’t burn (we used pepper, salt, crushed red pepper). You can also switch it up with herbs like oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, chipotle, or Indian spices like vindaloo and garam masala.
  6. Spread vegetables in a single layer over two baking sheets.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes, flipping and stirring the veggies every fifteen minutes to prevent them from sticking. But if they do, so what, eat the crunchy pieces off the pan later. what can I say, I’m a fat kid!)
  8. In a pan on the stove top, brown 1 lb. of breakfast sausage (we like the Beeler’s breakfast pork from the Wedge). Tip: slice each sausage link down the middle and remove the pork from its casing before cooking.
  9. Drain the excess fat from the pan and mix with your hash when it comes out of the oven.

This makes about 8-10 servings, enough to enjoy all week long.

Top with an egg or two in the morning to add protein and deliciousness to the mix. Add Cholula or Sriracha sauce for extra spice.

Bon appétit.