Meal Prep 101

Creating every meal from scratch can be a lot of work- that's for sure. We get asked all the time how it's possible to make eating real food easy & sustainable, and this is the answer: Meal prep!

We recommend spending one or two days a week prepping your food for the days to come. Spending a little time in advance will save you loads of time later in the week when you're running low on time and energy. Here are our basic tips for making the most of your food prep time.

PIMP OUT YOUR KITCHEN

Buy that fancy cooking utensil that you’ve been eyeballing!

  • Collect quality kitchen tools over time, and look at them as an investment in your health. Helpful kitchen tools for cooking Paleo: Large crockpot, large pan, large pot, large cutting board, sharp chopping knives, food processor, blender, Garlic Zoom, vegetable spiralizer, casserole dish, cheese grater (for veggies!).
  • Buy lots of food storage containers: Glass is best (plastic can leach chemicals into your food that affect your hormones).  Single serving containers for lunches and on the go food, and multi-serving containers to store large amounts of food will both come in handy. BPA-free plastic sandwich and snack sized ziplock baggies and heavy duty food freezer bags are also a must for storing all your yummy snacks.

  • Buy a big old lunch box or bag with space for ice packs to keep food cool during those long days that you are on the go. Something big enough to hold a days worth of food is best!

PLAN YOUR FOOD OUT FOR THE WEEK

Brainstorm your grub!

  • Browse cookbooks, blogs, magazines, or whatever inspires you and gets your wheels turning about food. Take note of the recipes that look great and their ingredients, and plan to make certain recipes for certain days.

  • Or opt to keep it simple and plan on eating the basics: grilled meat, veggies, salads, hardboiled eggs, and sweet potatoes. With all this on hand you can mix and match for days! Get creative with spices, sauces, and guacamole and you’ll have tons of good meals at your fingertips.

      GO GROCERY SHOPPING

Hit those stores!

  • Plan out what day and time you are going to go shopping and which stores you need to hit to get all your loot. Schedule it in your calendar if you have to!

·       PREP YO FOOD

Get cookin' good lookin'!

  • Plan out what day/time you are going to prep. Again, put it in your calendar if you have to.

  • We like the rule of “cook once, eat 2-3 times”. In other words, cook a lot of each meal so you've got ample leftovers for days to come. This way you don’t have to cook as often during the week.

  • Cook easy staples for the week: baked sweet potatoes, hardboiled eggs, shredded chicken, or anything that's easy but can be jazzed up later with spices, sauces, guacamole, etc. Keeping the basics on hand allow for simple thrown together (but tasty!) meals in a flash.

  • Make on the go snacks: home made fruit bars, trail mix, jerky, guacamole, etc.

  • Wash and cut up some fruit and veggies so you have them to snack on raw, toss into smoothies, throw on salads, or quickly steam or sauté with your entree.

  • Buy boxed, prewashed salad, lettuce, spinach, kale or greens of choice. The time you save not having to wash, dry, chop, and hope they don’t go bad before you eat them is well worth the money in the pre-boxed goods.

  • Make that one really amazing, fail-safe, go-to recipe that you love, so that you know you have at least one fancy and completely satisfying meal to look forward to.

  • Use the crap out of your crock pot- it saves so much time!

  • Parcel out your food into single servings into your to-go bags and containers so that when you are hungry or getting ready for the day, you can just look in the fridge and grab what looks good. No work! Its already done!

  • Cook a bunch of stuff at once to save time: boil eggs, sauté veggies, have chicken and potatoes baking in the oven. (Just make sure you don’t burn down the house! Safety first, right?)

  • Freeze anything you don’t think you will eat all of. Having food on hand in the freezer is another great tip for a fast, healthy, easy meal. Try to keep a stash of frozen proteins (fish, beef, chicken), a bag or two of frozen vegetables, and pre-cooked meals in there at all times so you know if all else fails, all you've got to do it defrost.

There you have it! And it's worth mentioning that figuring out the exact amount of food to buy and prep may take some time to dial in, so don’t get frustrated with yourself if the first few times doesn't go as planned, ie too much food that's going to waste. Remember that you are doing something great for your body and the cost of the food that went bad is well worth the experience you get in learning how to incorporate healthy practices into your life). 

Hope this helps you make your life easier! Bon appetit! 

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The Scale

We've all been there: Waking up from a night of good sleep and a couple days or weeks of eating well, feeling good and maybe more slender than usual, bladder emptied and no food yet eaten, stepping from the cold bathroom tile onto the scale, wearing nothing but your anxious hope that this fickle beast will finally reflect your hard work.  You wait with bated breath as it scurries to find your number, and it finally rings in at.. where you were last time. But -wait- no it's wrong- how could this be?! You've been working so hard in the gym, you've been paying close attention to how you eat, and you swear your favorite gym clothes are fitting ever-so-slightly looser than usual. How could it be that you've lost exactly zero pounds!?

Here's the thing. The number on the scale does not equal health or reflect what you are worth as a person. I repeat: It does NOT equal health! Here's why:

  • It does not reflect muscle or body composition ratios. Example: as you lose fat and gain muscle, your weight may not change at all. Or if you just gain muscle, your weight might even go up! (That's OK! We heart muscle!)

  • It doesn't tell you if your gut and digestive system are happy and in tip-top shape, allowing your body to truly absorb the nutrients you are carefully feeding it every day, keeping your precious gut flora alive and well.

  • It doesn't show you if your blood sugar levels and hormonal balances are tinkering back to a normal, healthy range.

  • It doesn't reflect the hours you've put in working on that heavy back squat PR.

  • It doesn't tell you if you are finally getting some of the best sleep of your life for the first time in a long time.

  • It has no idea that you feel like a million bucks and are radiating confidence out to the world!

The number on the scale is JUST A NUMBER. Say it with us ladies: It is just a number.

Though I'm sure we all fantasize about what it would feel like to have our ultimate dream body and think that losing 5, 10 or 20 pounds would get us much closer to that goal, we're here to tell you that chasing a number on a scale and a fantasy image of a "better you" might just be the thing keeping you from that reality.  When you insist on seeing your body as a burden, an embarrassing wish-I-was-ten-pounds-lighter thing that you are constantly trying to "fix", you are creating a hurtful, unattainable, and unsustainable environment in your own mind. And here's the kicker: Getting your MIND in shape is the key to getting your body in shape.  For reals. Here's how:

  • Think about your body as an amazingly powerful machine that's capable of almost anything you ask of it, that can be trained to complete almost any task if you work hard enough, and something that wants to be challenged and pushed. 

  • Do this: Sit and write down all the things that you appreciate about your body and all of the wonderful things it is capable of. When you get frustrated and caught up in negative thinking about your body, refer back to that list you made and try to appreciate your body for what it is, instead of what it's not. 

  • Think of food as the fuel that will allow you to push your body to the limits.  Eat to heal, perform and thrive.  

  • Practice living in the mindset of hitting your athletic goals, or of achieving health for your own personal purpose (trying to get pregnant? Want to heal your digestive issues? Simply want to feel amazing in your skin?).

  • Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed and who understand your journey to health.

  • Work for it.  

You will start hitting your goals, even if they are small ones, which only adds fuel to the fire and will inspire bigger and more exciting challenges. You will be on the same "team" as your body instead of fighting it, working together to make great things happen. You will feel thoroughly wonderful, both because you are physically getting healthier and fitter, and also because you'll start to develop a positive relationship with your body. And you know what?  The scale knows absolutely NONE of this.

So please, we ask this of you: Stop weighing yourself!  Take notice to the ways your body, health, fitness, mentality and life are changing in other ways. Take pride in putting on muscle and working hard to hit your own goals. Notice how your clothing fits. Pay attention to how you feel, how you sleep, and how you train. Listen to how you talk to and about yourself. Your health is all of these things and more, and it is absolutely NOT found on the scale. 

BOTTOM LINE

Stop worrying about that meaningless number and focus on how many pullups you can do, how fast you can run that mile, or how much you can clean & jerk instead. Your body and your mind will thank you.

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Bottoms Up! Your Guide to Drinking Smart

We get asked all the time about how to honor all your hard work and improved health with the Paleo lifestyle on a night out with friends.  We do have to say first that any alcohol isn't really Paleo, as it all gets turned into sugar in your body, can lead to poor food choices, and will most certainly be working against any efforts you're making to improve your health. That said, we understand that you have a life! You're human, and you are bound to have a happy hour or a party every so often- you should enjoy it!  

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right alcohol, drink smart, and recover easily. 

BEFORE THE PARTY 

To be sure you're doing all you can to sidestep a hangover, try these methods to allow your body to process alcohol to the best of it's ability and limit damage (and headaches).  

  • Keep your body's inflammation level down, which means avoiding  polyunsaturated fats (vegetable, seed and soybean oils) in particular, since a diet high in Omega-6's can create liver damage that is exacerbated when consuming alcohol. Next,

  • Add in healthy saturated fats, like lard, butter, avocado, and especially coconut oil.  These healthy fats are not only anti-inflammatory, but can aid in alcohol absorption and digestion.  

  • Be sure you have a well rounded meal at least two hours before drinking, and be sure to include some protein on your plate. Another suggestion would be to take a Vitamin C supplement before you drink.

AT THE PARTY

Alcohols that you'll certainly want to avoid are mostly the ones that are made from grain. In order of worst to best:  

  • Whiskey, bourbon & scotch, since they are literally made with all the grains!  We do not recommend any of these dark grain distilled spirits.

  • Beer, as it's made with wheat and barley.  Another one to avoid completely.

  • Gin is also made with barely, corn and wheat, and can therefore aggitate those who are particularly sensitive to grains, though it doesn't bother everyone. 

  • Vodka can be made from either grain or potato, so opt for the potato derived vodka if you can (Ciroc is actually distilled from grapes!). Vodka can be an ok choice depending on it's source and your personal sensitivites.

Be sure to remember that juices, mixers, and sodas (even tonic water!) are all just sugar, which may give you a vicious stomach ache, make your hangover more intense, and bump your blood sugar off the grid when combined with the sugars in alcohols.

So now that you know which alcohols to avoid, let's talk about alcohols that are paleo-friendly!  

  • Tequila. Choose a high quality 100% agave tequila (if it doesn't say this on the label it can be up to 51% sugar and additives!). Opt for silver or blanco, and enjoy it with soda water and lots of limes, or add a splash of grapefruit if you are adjusting to the taste.  Or if you're making a drink at home, add a splash of pure lime juice for a great, clean, tasty margarita.

Tip: In my own personal...er.. research, I have found tequila to be the cleanest buzz out there. (I opt for HerraduraDon Julio or Milagro). No hangovers, drowsiness, headaches, and no stomach aches, since tequila is actually the spirit that is most easily metabolized by our bodies. (That is all, of course, if the tequila is being consumed with just soda water and a squeeze or splash of citrus. Add sugar to the mix and it can get ugly! Beware of specialty margaritas, as they are mostly sugar). It can be an acquired taste, but I find it to be much cleaner than other paleo-friendly drinks!

  • Wine. Red, white and champagne, in order from lowest sugar content to most, respectively. Be sure to opt for organic and even locally produced wines if you can!

  • Hard cider is another paleo-friendly drink, as it's made from fermented apples or pears, and can be a great gluten-free alternative to beer.

AFTER THE PARTY

Plan ahead and have a fridge full of yummy snacks to come home to!  If you know you have a tendency to order pizza or grab whatever that food truck might be selling when you've had a couple drinks, just be aware of it.  While it's more than ok to enjoy that pizza every once in a while if that's what you want, avoid putting yourself in a situation where you are regretting your not-so-thought out choices from the night before.

Toss a couple Epic Bars, a bag of almonds, or a banana in your purse and munch on that when you think you're getting hungry, and do your best to really think twice when you find yourself standing in that food truck line.  Is this really what you want, and are you prepared to deal with the consequences of how it will make you feel for the next couple days?  If so, then by all means, enjoy it!  

Keeping ingredients in the house for a morning green smoothie (or even making one in advance!) will do wonders as well, giving your body a hit of nutrients, water, electrolytes and other goodness right when you wake up will help to snap you out of any haze you may be in. Coconut water will also give you a great boost of electrolytes, so try adding that into your smoothie or sip it on it's own. Dandelion root tea can also be great the morning after, as it naturally supports liver detoxification. 

BOTTOM LINE

While frequent alcohol consumption can work against your efforts for improved health, it is more than ok to get out there and enjoy yourself every once in a while! Remember to plan ahead, avoid alcohols that are distilled from grain, stay away from sugary mixers and sodas, and most importantly, have fun!

 

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Stop Counting Calories

Open any women's fitness or health magazine and you will be guaranteed to find something that looks like this: "5 Easy Meals Under 600 Calories", or "Low Calorie Versions of Your Favorite Guilty Pleasures", or "3 Ways to Easily Cut 300 Calories a Day", or some other calorie-centric headline that proceeds to tell you why you'll need your daily limit to never exceed 1200 if you want that "bikini body" in time for summer. (Insert eye roll here.  Side note: Don't buy those magazines, people!).  We live in a calorie-focused nation right now, and at one point or another, most of us have probably been there: A slave to the calorie limit we have imprinted in our mind dictating whether we’ve been “bad” or “good” that day. We've counted Points (I'm looking at you, Weight Watchers), used apps on our phones, kept a running tally in our head, and made countless decisions based on how close we were to our daily limit ("Well I did have three handfuls of almonds and cheese on my salad so I'll skip the butter on my sweet potato tonight"). I mean if you want to lose weight and get healthy, your daily calorie count should be less than what you are expending in the gym; Weight loss is calories in vs calories out, right?  Turns out, not so much.

Counting calories is absolutely useless. Not to mention it makes us insane and obsessed. Yes, you heard that right- counting calories is of no value to your healthwhatsoever! (We can hear women everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief!). So here's what DOES count: The nutritional quality of food and the signals your body gives you. Here are five reasons why tracking calories won't help your health:

1. NUTRIENT VALUE. Most Americans are overweight but malnourished.. seems like an oxymoron, right? But this is why: The nutrient quality of foods is much more important than the calorie content of foods. Foods affect the hormones in our bodies that control tons of functions, like energy, satiety, hunger, mood, body fat usage, body fat storage, and so on, and the nutrient content of your food dictates how the cards get dealt to all those systems.  For example, a 375 calorie meal of healthy protein and fat, like a grilled steak topped with quacamole and veggies, will keep your blood sugar low preventing fat storage, keep energy levels up, actually increase your metabolism, stave off sugar cravings, help build and repair muscle tissue, replenish healthy hormones, and keep you satisfied until your next meal.  In comparison, a 375 calorie low-fat scone will not provide you with any nutrients your body needs, will spike your blood sugar levels (signaling your body to store fat), cause a blood sugar crash an hour later making you hungry (hangry?), deplete important hormone levels, slow down your metabolism, cause inflammation, and irritate your digestive system.

2. CALORIES ARE NOT ALL EQUAL. Eating 1200 calories a day of chemical laden, industrially produced, low fat, processed, grain and/or sugar filled "food" will make you far more unhealthy and overweight than eating 2500 calories a day of real, whole food, period. This is where the calories in vs calories out theory falls apart, and it's furthered by the fact that it is just not sustainable to survive on such nutrient-poor, low calorie foods.  While you may be able to drop a couple pounds with a severe calorie restricted diet for a week or two, you will be miserable, hungry, cranky, and it will not be a long term road to health (read: right back where you started once it's over). If you want to get healthy, lean, happy, vibrant and energized for the long haul, you've got to give your body the nutrients it needs to survive.

3. SATIETY. Have you ever noticed that when you've enjoyed a meal like the one above (steak, avocado, veggies), you probably hit a wall where you just couldn't eat one. more. bite?  But when you're eating pretzels, popcorn, or Wheat Thins, you have to really force yourself to stop (or you just eat the whole box).  It is all too easy to over indulge on cheap grain based carbohydrates, or other low-cal foods, like that diet frozen dinner, or your low-fat yogurt breakfast.  But it's really hard to completely over-do it on steak. Or pork chops. Or (bunless) burgers.  And you probably couldn't sit down and eat 10 avocados, even though they're the most delicious things ever- your body will tell you it's had enough. The reason for this is because there are zero (zip!) nutrients in those whole grain crackers, so there's nothing telling your body to stop eating. When you feed it nutrient dense foods, filled with protein and healthy fats (and no sugar!), your body is getting precisely what it has evolved to eat, recognize, and utilize, and it will tell you to stop. Promise. Add lots of good fat onto your high quality proteins (Gasp! Lots of calories!), and you will find yourself eating to satiety (and not beyond) every time, and you'll stay full until your next meal. More butter please!

4. EVERYONE'S DIFFERENT. The idea that a certain number of calories a day is adequate for all people, regardless of body type, stage of life, or activity level is absurd. The 1200 a day suggestion most fitness mags are recommending?  First of all that is very low, and your body may go into starvation mode causing all sorts of problems (weight gain can be one). Second, our bodies require a different amount of energy (calories) from day to day, depending on our activity levels, our body type/size, and what is going on with our body at the moment (pregnant, training for a competition, etc.). Finding out exactly how many calories our bodies need daily would involve an intense process of a daily evaluation of energy levels, activity levels, food quality, blood tests that can only be done at a doctor's office, and a whole lot of math (Read: Impossible to figure out unless you're a lab rat). Different bodies use some foods differently, and everyone is unique in what they need on a daily basis to feel their best.

5. CRAZYTOWN. It's also worth noting that counting calories can create an unhealthy obsession in some people, causing stress, anxiety, and self-loathing, which can cause health issues all by itself. So let it go and eat to your heart's content of the real stuff!

SO HERE'S THE BOTTOM LINE. Eat nutrient dense foods. Avoid foods that you know don’t agree with your body. Stop eating grain-based nutirition-less foods. Cut out sugar and processed foods. Eat when you are hungry. Eat slowly, chew your food well, and enjoy your meals. Stop checking calorie and fat contentand instead focus on the ingredient list and sugar content. Drink enough water. And most of all, listen to your body, it will tell you how much to feed it. 

 

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