Recipe: Kale & Spicy Chicken Meatball Soup

Happy October, friends! What's not to love about this season? The chillier temps, the leaves changing, the cozy sweaters and blankets, and of course, colds! Seems like everyone I know has gotten hit with a bad cold in the last couple weeks, and my husband and I were no exception. We both got hit at the same time (for the fist time in our 9 years together), and suffice it to say it was a very pathetic household for a few days!

I whipped up this soup while we were both under the weather and it was just what the Dr ordered. Because I wanted it to be ready to eat as soon as possible, I took advantage of some pre-made store bought foods and rummaged through the freezer to make the prep work go quicker! If you'd rather have homemade components, feel fee to use those instead! You might not be able to find my specific meatballs but I'm certain whatever you find at the store or whip up at home will be just as delish in here! Don't be afraid to get creative! (But do read your ingredients).

 

KALE + SPICY CHICKEN MEATBALL SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots (or one large), finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Trader Joes 21 Season Salute (or spice blend of choice)
  • 1/2 - 1 pound cooked chicken Italian meatballs (Or any meatballs of choice, really. I used one pound of store bought meatballs because that's what I had in the freezer, but you could of course use homemade ones!  Spicy sausage, chopped, would also be delicious in this!)
  • 1 bunch flat leaf kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups chicken broth, homemade or store bought (This is what I used)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

TO MAKE:

  • In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about another 5-8 minutes. Then add garlic and stir through, being careful not to burn it.
  • Add cooked meatballs to pan and allow to brown and heat through, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add chopped kale, paprika, nutmeg, seasoning mix, and some salt and pepper to pot and stir through. Cook until Kale begins to soften and wilt, about 4 minutes.
  • Pour in chicken broth. Contents of pot should be covered in broth- if not, add some water until covered. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and stir to release any residue from meatballs browning (that's great flavor!).
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 20 minutes, or until kale is completely softened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Optional: Add in 2 cups cooked gluten free rotini pasta.

Enjoy!


Be sure to let me know if you make this! I hope you enjoy it! Stay healthy out there my friends!

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Guest Recipe: Butter Pecan Apples

SO, ok. I don't wanna be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don't get the way people feel about pumpkin these days! I mean sure it's good, but my favorite sweet fall flavor has got to be spiced apple! (#appleeverything probably isn't trending but that's ok).

If you're into that spiced apple scene, it just so happens that my sweet friend Stacy has JUST the recipe for you, and she is letting me share it here for you today! Stacy Toth is part of the Paleo Parents team, and they have just done a beautiful rebrand to REAL EVERYTHING, and it's worth popping over to their new blog to poke around. They've got recipes, travel tips, discounts to popular products and lots more- and their own personal stories and journeys about how paleo transformed their family and their health is pretty powerful and most definitely worth a read.

Now, for them apples! How dreamy do these look? The best part is you probably have everything you need to make these in your pantry right now! Get cookin and curl up with a bowl up this next to the fire while you watch the leaves fall outside.

Image & recipe courtesy of  realeverything.com

Image & recipe courtesy of realeverything.com

BUTTER PECAN APPLES

Ingredients:

FOR APPLES

  • 3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbsp butter (we recommend grass-fed, like Kerrygold) 

FOR BAKING

  • 2 Tbsp butter 
  • 1/2 C pecans
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter until foamy.
  2. Add apple slices and saute until apples are golden brown.
  3. Pour into baking dish.
  4. Meanwhile, pulse pecans, butter, salt and spices until a crumbly mixture forms.
  5. Sprinkle over the top of the apples.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Be sure you give Stacy & Matt at Real Everything a follow on the socials and let them know if you make this yummy recipe!

Happy October!

 

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How Much Protein Should You Be Eating?

With so much conflicting nutritional advice out there, it’s no surprise that there is a lot of confusion about how much protein active women should be eating every day to sufficiently support training and aid recovery. We’re going to do our best to break it down for you and clear up the confusion!

And for those of you looking for information beyond solely protein, read my comprehensive post all all things MACROS here!

FIRST: WHY WE NEED IT

Protein is found in every cell in our body and is an essential building block to literally everything; blood, muscles, skin, cartilage, organs, glands & bones. It is vital in cell repair  and generation, which means it helps repair and build muscle tissue (read: welcome to the gun show).

Unlike the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat, our body does not readily store protein, which means we do not have a reservoir to pull from when we are low (except our existing muscles. Read: goodbye gains), so we need to constantly supply it for everything in our body to stay in tip top shape.

Eating a proper amount of protein helps us recover from workouts much faster, helps build lean muscle mass, helps prevent muscle loss, keeps us full in between meals, and keeps our body in good general health. Basically, if you're striving to be a badass in the gym, hit certain body composition goals, or generally be your healthiest self, getting the correct amount of protein in your daily diet is imperative.

GETTING ENOUGH

If you are a Crossfitter, runner, weightlifter, regular gym-goer or otherwise active person, protein is even more essential to help fuel & recover from your training, and most of us aren’t getting enough. So how much is “enough”?

Although there are many factors to consider when finding your perfect number (age, activity level, weight, personal goals, etc), our recommendation as a baseline rule is to eat between .5 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. So for a 140 pound woman, that would mean eating between 70-140g of protein per day. (It should comprise about 20-35% of your daily caloric intake, or macronutrient profile breakdown.)

If you aren't super active (don’t have a regular exercise routine), you will fall on the lower end of that scale, with about half your body weight in grams of protein per day. However, if you are moderately active or very active (talking to you, Crossfitters!), you’ll want to fall on the higher end of this scale, at about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

And if you are trying to gain lean muscle mass, lean out, or otherwise change your body composition and consistently perform muscle building activities, you may want your daily number to be higher still, comprising up to 40% of your daily intake. For example, I weigh about 125 lbs, but in an effort to recover quickly from workouts and build lean muscle, I eat 140g of protein every day. Yes, every. day.

How do you know how much protein you're actually eating? We suggest picking up a food scale and weighing and/or measuring all your proteins, and tracking it using an app like My Fitness Pal for about a week to be able to accurately gauge how much protein you are getting on a daily basis. From there, you can make adjustments as you see fit.

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SOURCES

Our go-to protein sources are properly and ethically raised meats and seafoods (organic, pasture raised, grassfed, and wild caught). Animal proteins contain the most bioavailable source of protein, meaning your body more easily and completely absorbs the protein from animal sources compared to the protein in foods like beans or vegetables (yes, vegetables do have a small amount of protein). Eating properly and ethically raised meats and seafoods ensures that your body is getting the protein it needs along with healthy fats and tons of micronutrients. Depending on your personal nutrition template and sensitivities, dairy and eggs are also great sources of protein.

And in light of the WHO announcement this week about processed and red meats, we should tell you that our views haven't been swayed.  Properly sourced animal proteins are an important and vital element to a healthy diet, period. And especially so for athletes. Animal proteins contain nutrients that your body needs which you simply cannot get from plants alone, like vitamin B (especially B12), vitamin D, iron, zinc, creatine, CLA, omega-3's and lots more. They are also complete proteins, meaning they provide the proper proportion of all nine essential amino acids that humans need for optimum nutrition. When it comes to protein, animal proteins reign supreme.

Note: If you want to unpack more details of the meat-cancer conversation, we highly suggest you read this thorough article by Sarah Ballantyne, Phd (aka The Paleo Mom). Still nervous about the WHO report? Please read this before you swear off bacon for good.

SUPPLEMENTS

To shake or not to shake? While whole food sources are always a better choice than a processed replacement, sometimes protein powders and other supplements can come in very handy for convenience. We get it, we're all busy. We don't always have the time to prepare a filet to carry around in our purse to enjoy when hunger strikes on the go. So what are your best options?

If you're looking for a high quality protein powder, our favorite is Equip Protein, as it is 3 simple ingredients (beef protein isolate, cocoa powder and stevia), whey-free, and actually tastes good.

Quest makes lots of different flavors of protein bars that are a great in a pinch (some bars are cleaner than others so check out your labels to see what fits with your nutrition template).

There are also other protein-containing supplements you might want to consider that help enhance your athletic performance and recovery, that you can add into your post workout shake and have multiple benefits. They include collagen (aids in joint health), branched chain amino acids (or BCAAs, aids in muscular endurance and synthesis), L-glutamine (improves recovery and aids in gut health). These are all great options to explore that can help your time in and out of the gym and aid in your general health, all while helping you hit that daily protein number.

 

GETTING IT IN

So now that you know how much we should be getting, you might be thinking how on earth do you get that much protein in in one day? Yeah. We hear you. Sometimes it can be a struggle, but here are some tips to help make it happen!

  • Aim to have each of your 3 main meals contain about 30% of your daily total, and fill in the rest with snacks. And if you can’t hit that percetage at all 3 meals, try your best to make it happen at breakfast! Having a protein-heavy breakfast will ensure that your body doesn’t pull from it’s own muscle tissue for fuel after a night long fast, and it will also help keep you full for hours to come.
  • Make most of your snacks protein based and hitting your daily number will be easier than you think. Things like jerky, hard boiled eggs, nuts, cold cuts, and Epic bars are all great things to throw in your lunchbox or purse and snack on throughout the day.
  • Take advantage of your anabolic window! This period is the 30 minutes immediately following a workout, during which your body soaks up nutrients like a sponge. Be sure to eat 20g+ of protein immediately following your training session, to help aid in tissue repair and improve recovery. (Try to avoid fat with this meal as fat slows down the digestion and absorption of the protein). Throw a protein shake in your gym bag and drink up!
  • Consider the supplements above. They can add as much as 35g of protein!

 

We hope that this helps you decide how much protein you need to help you hit your health and fitness goals! And remember that while protein is important, be sure that you're still making room for veggies and the other foods that help support your immune system and keep you healthy, so you can stay strong and keep kicking ass in and out of the gym!


For lots of delicious veggie and protein focused meals, download a copy of our newly released RECIPE EBOOK!

And for more help dialing in your nutrients, check out our online health and nutrition coaching program, THRIVE ONLINE.

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Our Cookbook is Now Available!

It's finally here!  We are SO excited to release our very first cookbook! Our recipe ebook is a digital download that contains 25 recipes designed to nourish your body, please your palette, and fuel performance, all while saving on time and money.

What you'll find inside:

  • Recipes for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Unfussy and affordable ingredients.
  • Grain free, gluten free & Paleo friendly recipes.
  • Simple & fast preparations, with lots of one-pot style meals.
  • Protein and veggie centric meals with great macro and micronutrient profiles for health and performance.
  • Seasonal recipes for the whole year.

We hope you love it! Share your recipes and meals from the book with the #shethrivescookbook tag so we can check out what you're making!

Bon appetit! 



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Recipe: Asian Meatballs with Fried "Rice"

These flavorful meatballs can be a fast and tasty dinner on rice (or "rice"), or a fun football-watching finger food appetizer with friends! You can use a mixture of chicken and turkey like we did, use all chicken, mix pork and chicken, or any combination thereof. 

ASIAN MEATBALLS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 C finely chopped scallions
  • 2 1/2 TB sesame oil
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chili oil
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 TB coconut aminos
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or grated ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

TO MAKE:

Preheat oven to 375 °. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly with hands. Using hands, form mixture into balls, about 1/2"-1" around. (I made about 30-ish meatballs).

Place onto lined baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. (If serving with cauli-rice, make this while they are baking). Let sit, covered with tin foil, for about 10 minutes before serving.

TO SERVE:

I enjoyed my meatballs on cauli-rice (recipe below), with coconut aminos and a touch of sweet Thai chili sauce. I just used store bought sauce, but here's a great recipe to make your own!

You could also serve them over white rice or a pile of mixed veggies like broccoli and zucchini, or these would also make a great appetizer; serve on a platter with a sweet Thai chili dipping sauce!

 

CAULI FRIED RICE

INGREDIENTS:

  • Ghee or butter
  • 3-4 C store-bought pre-riced cauliflower, or homemade (place raw cauliflower florets in food processor and pulse until the size of grains of rice)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 TB coconut aminos
  • Salt & pepper
  • Veggies (optional)

TO MAKE:

Melt ghee or butter in a large sauté pan. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in riced cauliflower, and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until cooked. (If adding additional veggies, add them in now).

Create some space in the middle of the pan and pour eggs into center. Push eggs around in the open space until about halfway cooked through, and then mix into the rest of the pan. Continue to cook, stirring, until eggs are cooked through. Add in coconut aminos and season with salt and pepper to taste.



For more yummy and simple recipes like this, be sure to check out our RECIPE EBOOK!

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White Rice vs. Brown Rice: Which is Healthier?

BROWN RICE VS WHITE RICE WHICH IS HEALTHIER?

White rice, brown rice, wild rice, SO MANY RICES! And with so much conflicting information out there about which one is better for you, how are you ever supposed to know for sure?

Rice can be an awesome addition to any sort of diet, this much is true. With the Standard American Diet suggesting "whole grains" as the base of a healthy food pyramid, and everyone pretty much agreeing that processed foods aren't really the pinnacle of health when eaten in large amounts, brown rice is the no brainer heather option, right?

As it turns out, not so much. Here's why white rice might be the better option for you, IMO, of course.

WHITE RICE VS BROWN RICE: WHICH IS HEALTHIER?

Brown rice is less processed and therefore has more nutrients than white rice, right?  Not entirely.  Brown rice is less processed, yes.  After all, the reason it's brown is because it still has the bran and germ (husk) attached to the grain, whereas white rice that has those components stripped away during milling.  

But! Just because it's less processed doesn't mean it's more nutritious, and here's why: when you take into account that the husk itself contains antinutrients that actually prohibit nutrient absorption, like phytates, which bind to nutrients like magnesium and calcium and prohibit their absorption, those "nutrients" don't amount to much. (Soaking your grains can lessen these but will not remove them entirely, but removing the bran/husk altogether will).

 Lectins are another thing present in the husk of brown rice, though not as potent as the lectins found in gluten, they still inhibit nutrient absorption and can make your gut lining less than happy.  Another class of antinutrients found in the husk of rice are trypsin inhibitors-- trypsin is an enzyme that is essential for protein digestion, and when trypsin isn't present (or it is inhibited), we can't digest any protein consumed with the rice properly.  

Between all the antinutrients and potential gut irritants found in the husk of a grain of rice, you can begin to see why brown rice might not be the better choice, after all. But what are you left with when you strip the grain down, and what good could it possibly be to your health? 

 

CARBS, YO 

I don't want to make you sad but you should know that (any form of!) rice does not offer much by way of vitamins or minerals, period. It's not really what I'd call a nutrient-dense food (sweet potatoes, turnips, plantains bring a little more to the table).

But!  What white rice does offer is a  simple, easy to digest, easily absorbable (and tasty!) form of glucose, which is perfect after an intense, tough workout to replenish depleted glycogen levels. I'd recommend eating it with a some protein and a little fat, which will help balance out any potential rise in blood sugar.

Note: if you are at all:  Insulin resistant, have any autoimmune condition, have a leaky gut, are trying to lean out or lose weight, or just very sensitive to grains, rice just might not be a part of your individual  diet.

 

BOTTOM LINE

Ding ding ding! We have a winner! White rice is the clear winner in the brown vs white rice debate, because it lacks the gut irritating and anti-nutrient compounds found in brown rice. For most people, white rice can be a happy addition to their post workout re-fueling or protein centered healthy meals.

And remember that the most important note to ANY healthy diet is that it's one that you enjoy! So if you just plan like brown rice better, far be it from me to say you shouldn't enjoy it. 

Happy nomming!

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You Switched to Paleo. Now What?

So you've taken the plunge and decided to commit to clean eating- congratulations!  Your life will be changed in a so many wonderful ways and we couldn't be more excited for you because of that.  

What's that?  You actually don't feel too hot?  You feel hangry and cranky and have a headache, you don't know what to eat, you miss bagels, you want to eat all the things but you can't, what are you even allowed to drink, you don't think this is going so well and can you stop now, please, but you really don't want to?  Relax! We've got you covered.  Here are some of the most common speed bumps people hit when making a big dietary change. Let's see if we can work this out for you!

1. YOU'RE HUNGRY ALL THE TIME.  This could be caused by a few things, but we've found that most often it's because you simply aren't eating enough, or more specifically, you're not eating enough fat and protein! Cutting out a couple food groups at once can make some people feel like they've got very little to choose from, and therefore they struggle with creating meals and snacks. This is a normal adjustment and can be fixed a few ways: Be sure every meal has ample protein and fat, as the combo will keep you satisfied for hours.  (Try starting your day with 4 eggs instead of 2, for example, and add a half of an avocado on top). Also, always, always ALWAYS keep good "fast food" with you (in your desk, in your purse, in your car, in your gym bag, etc.), whether that's an Epic Bar, a banana, a bag of almonds, beef jerky, or whatever your favorite snack is- Just always have something you can reach for when you start to get hungry. And try your best to have that snack contain lots of protein and fat.

2. YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO EAT. Like we mentioned above, cutting out a couple foods groups at once can be a challenge. It can take some time to adjust to your new diet and in the meantime you might be feeling like you've got no options.  But it's just not the case!  You've got TONS of food to choose from that will nourish your body. Invest in a couple great cookbooks, spend some time on Pinterest, check out our list of resources, peruse your local farmer's market, follow some Paleo folks on Instagram to see what they are eating (check out the folks we follow), and get inspired! Invite some friends over to help you cook and enjoy preparing your food. Experiment with foods you've never tried before, and try new methods. Try taking a photo of one meal every day to post on your social media, as it will encourage you to be a little creative with what you're preparing. Have fun with your food! Before you know it you will see that your options are endless (and delicious!). 

3. YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO PREPARE MEALS.  This is something we hear a lot, and for good reason.  Eating real food means eating food that you prepare from scratch almost all the time. If you aren't used to cooking every meal from scratch every single day, this can be an enormous adjustment. By the time most people get home from work or the gym or errands or a combination thereof, the last thing they want to do is slave away in the kitchen.  But we're here to tell you that there is a way around this, and even have dinner on the table in under 20 minutes!  How?  Meal prep.  This is absolutely paramount if you've got a busy schedule and rarely have the time to cook.  Spend a portion of a designated day each week prepping your food for the week (schedule it with yourself, put it on your calendar, whatever it takes to make sure you dedicate that time!). And let's be honest: While it is occasionally fun to play around with in-depth or exotic recipes, meal prep does not need to be so complex. Clean and chop your veggies so they can be tossed into a pan or salad easily. Cook up some protein: Grill some chicken, sautee some ground beef, hard boil a dozen eggs. Make any sauces you use frequently: mayo, salad dressings, etc. This way, you have all the fixings for meals and snacks at your finger tips for days to come, and you can mix and match everything as you see fit. And whenever you're preparing dinner, always make extra! Bring the leftovers to work for lunch the next day, or even have them for breakfast!  Your fridge should always have leftovers of some kind in it, and that will save you in a pinch.  Keep frozen veggies and proteins in the freezer for when you don't have anything left in the fridge. Buy some kitchen essentials to make meal prep easier: crock pot, cutting board, knives, a large pot, and a large pan. 

4. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO NAVIGATE SOCIAL SETTINGS. You're supposed to go this wedding / work lunch / dinner with your in-laws / BBQ / birthday party, but you're panicking because you don't know how to do that and stay on track at the same time? Believe it or not, there are a couple easy ways to handle these situations with grace and tact, to stay true to your personal health goals, and enjoy yourself at the same time. Offering to make or bring something to a dinner or party is a surefire way to know that there will be Paleo-friendly options for you there. If you are at a restaurant (or even a wedding), you can kindly and discreetly let your server know that you have food sensitivities to gluten, dairy and sugar, and you will likely be met with either a special gluten free menu or other available options. If you are a guest in someone's home, you can explain to them that you are experimenting cutting a few things out of your diet at the moment, or tell them that you've recently discovered you're sensitive to a few food groups. You can always work your way around the plate, eating what you can, and if all else fails, you can feign a little stomachache or oncoming cold that is preventing you from enjoying their food. This one may be tough, but remember that your health and personal goals are more important than how someone may feel about your actions around food! It is not your responsibility to worry about how someone may feel or be affected by you making healthy food choices.  If you feel like there's a good chance you are going to be up a creek at your event, always eat before you leave the house, and again, always, always have a snack or two of some sort with you. As far as drinking goes, stick with silver tequila with soda and limes, or wines. (Check out our comprehensive drinking while Paleopost for more info on this!). And remember, it's more than ok to let go and enjoy yourself every once in a while, too! 

5. YOU'RE STILL HAVING CRAVINGS AND FEELING CRAPPY.  This could be happening for a few reasons. One reason is that you are still in the withdrawal phase; Depending on what your diet looked like before you went Paleo, you could be withdrawing for a few weeks! It can really take some time to get some of those toxins out of your system, and allow your body to adjust to it's new nutrition. (Most of us come from having eaten some form of bread or grain every. single. day. of our lives. This can take a while to adjust to!). Headaches, fatigue, and general ickiness can all be part of the withdrawal/adjustment phase. But stick with it, girl.  The other side of that is absolute gold!  You'll feel your best soon, just keep pushing through.  Another reason you could still be having cravings or feeling less than great is that you are still eating some gluten, sugar or dairy on a regular basis. These three foods can take weeks to clear out from your body (gluten can take up to 3 weeks on it's own!), so even if you're eating them in tiny amounts on your "treat days", they might be holding you back. Eating clean all week but having a regular Sunday night pasta dinner/pizza/whathaveyou will not yield you the results you might be hoping for. Your gut will stay irritated, nutrients won't be absorbing properly, and you'll likely be a little bloated through the entire week, and therefore working against every effort you're putting in.  Eating sugar begets sugar cravings, period. When you give yourself a few weeks of forming new (sugar free) food habits, you'll find you don't crave sugar at all, or at least not to the extent that you did before (we promise, this is actually possible!). Artificial sweeteners (Splenda, Equal, etc.) can cause headaches and all sorts of issues on their own, including continuing you to crave sugar- They play mean tricks on your body!  And did you know that the lactose in dairy can even trigger sugar cravings all by itself? For these reasons, we strongly recommend you ditch all three of these triggers in entirety, for at least 2 or 3 weeks. While that doesn't mean that you can never have bread or a doughnut ever again, it does mean that if you want to see and feel the results of your tenacious efforts and get closer to optimum health, you have simply got to commit to avoiding these foods, period. (See our post on 80/20, and finding your own balance with this). To help your body detox faster, make sure to drink a lot of water, eat lots of fresh leafy greens, and try drinking some dandelion root tea at night. 

6. YOU'RE FEELING GREAT EXCEPT YOU'RE CONSTANTLY BLOATED/GASSY. When we dramatically change the types of food we are eating (increasing our consumption of vegetables and protein in particular), sometimes our digestive system has a hard time because it is lacking certain enzymes that are required to digest these foods. They are missing from our gut because we didn't need them for so long (because we were eating crap) and our body just quit producing them. Don't worry, as you continue to eat these new foods your body will start to once agin produce those digestive enzymes you need. Give it some time. In the meantime though, you can support your digestive system by consuming fermented vegetables (sauerkraut- great on salads!), taking a dairy free/gluten free probiotic supplement, taking papaya enzyme, and drinking 8oz of water with 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar before big meals. Your gut will settle in a week or two, we promise!

7. YOU HAVE UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.  Lastly, you might just be expecting a little too much too soon. (It's worth also referring back to #5 here: If you are not actually following the Paleo template with consistency and commitment, you will not be getting the results you hoped for). For some people, making big dietary shifts like this will yield dramatic results quickly. For others it will be a slow process, but progress nonetheless. There are lots of factors to consider in how it will all effect you, like what your diet was like before making the switch, how active you are, how healthy your gut is, if you've got any autoimmune conditions, etc. It's important to remember why eating this way is what you chose to do: It will bring you health; it heals your gut, makes your skin glow, gives you energy, removes toxins, and gives you vitality. If you are focused on just wanting to fit into your old "skinny jeans" and aren't getting there fast enough, then we really recommend you spend some time thinking about your real goals and why you want to achieve them. If you follow the Paleo template, you will get healthier and leaner, but it's not a process that can be rushed (this is not a get-skinny-quick weight loss regimen! It's a lifestyle, after all). Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Enjoy the process. 

BOTTOM LINE: Making huge, fundamental changes in how we eat can take some time to adjust to. Stick with it. Be prepared. Get committed. And watch yourself thrive.


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Five Ingredient & Five Minute Paleo Ice Cream

This dairy and refined sugar free Paleo "ice cream" is super easy, requires no ice cream machine, and can be ready in under 5 minutes. It also happens to be delicious, so we hope you try it out!

Note: This recipe does require a couple ingredients that are either frozen or refrigerated:  

When your bananas start to turn brown, peel them, break them up and toss them in the freezer!  They make a great addition to smoothies, and are excellent to just have on hand for other yummy snacks, like this one.

We also recommend always keeping a can of coconut milk or coconut cream in your fridge, just in case you need it for a recipe that requires it to be chilled (lots of recipes do). You can purchase coconut cream at Trader Joes, or you can make your own by leaving a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then gently skimming the cream off the top. (The water and cream seperate when refrigerated).

 

EASY PALEO CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

1 or 2 frozen Bananas 

Half a can of cold Coconut Cream

2 Spoonfuls of Cocoa Powder

1 Spoonful of Almond Butter

Two spoonfuls of Cacao Nibs (optional)

A small squeeze of Honey (optional). Toss all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (It should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream). Top with cacao nibs, paleo whipped cream, fresh berries, or whatever your heart desires! Enjoy!

Note: Because there are no preservatives in this ice cream, it will freeze rock solid. Leave it on the counter for 20 minutes, or place it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften it up!

 

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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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A Healthy Breakfast: Reconsidered

I'm sure you've seen it popping up in cafes and restaurants near you: A new "smart" menu selection of a few low calorie options, with selections ranging from egg white omelets to yogurt parfaits for the folks out there who are “watching their waistline”.  While these options may be better than a bag of Cheetos, we are here to tell you to that they are not as healthy as you might believe, and actually even some of the worst you could choose for your health (and your waistline). Whether you're eating out with friends or making breakfast at home, here's a glimpse at some not so good options that are masquerading as health foods.  Let's break it down.

YOGURT & GRANOLA:  You may as well be having an ice cream sundae for breakfast. Seriously! Yogurt gets hailed as a calcium-filled, protein rich health food, but it doesn’t offer any nutrients that you can't find in less processed, more nutrient rich, whole foods. While some people can eat dairy with little to no negative health effects, most people are actually quite sensitive to it, whether they know it or not. But regardless of your personal dairy tolerance, the lactose (the natural sugar in milk) and refined sugar added to most yogurt will send your blood sugar to the moon and back: A cup of yogurt has anywhere from 30-40 grams of sugar (that's around TEN teaspoons)! This super high sugar content will set you up for sugar cravings after you crash and make you hungrier later on, among a host of other issues. Yogurt is also hyper processed (lower fat content equals less nutrients and more junk) and is usually made from not-so-healthy animals. And here's the kicker: Any nutrients that might actually be in the yogurt won’t get absorbed into your system because you are eating it with granola!  You read that right. Granola is made with myriad grains that are rolled in honey and baked, and while wheat (gluten) is the president of Grain City, almost all other grains come with serious blows to your health (and oats are almost always contaminated with gluten!). We will refer you back to this post to read all about why grains are detrimental to your gut, inhibit nutrient absorption, and do not promote overall health. And did you know that most normal servings of grains (even the "healthy whole" ones) can raise your blood sugar more than a candy bar?! Short version: Grains = No Bueno. So we're talking sugar laden, super processed, and nutrient-poor yogurt (sugar), topped with gut wrecking and insulin raising grains, rolled in honey (sugar)... and then top that parfait off with a squeeze of honey (sugar) or some fresh or dried fruit (sugar)?  Ice cream would probably be a better choice.

WHAT TO GET INSTEAD: Believe it or not, a spinach and salmon salad will ring in with a higher calcium content (which will actually get absorbed and utilized), with none of the sugary side effects.  Plus you'll get lots of healthy fats, protein, and fiber that will keep you satisfied for hours. Add strawberries to it if you need that something sweet. 

EGG WHITE OMELET:  Even though the science on the health benefits of whole eggs has come around in the mainstream media, we are still seeing an awful lot of egg white whathaveyous on menus. Eggs are one of nature's most powerful super foods, and to cut out the most nutrient rich part of the entire egg is a big, big mistake. (Read about the amazing whole egg here). Don't be tricked into thinking that low-fat is healthy. When you skimp on the healthy fats found in egg yolks, you are setting yourself up to be ravenous in an hour or two, and you're omitting the healthiest part of the whole egg! (We'll say it every time: Fat does not make you fat! Read more about that here).

WHAT TO GET INSTEAD: A whole egg scramble or omelet with meats and/or veggies (hold the toast!). Load up on all the eggs your heart desires and add in some extra protein and vegetables. This is often one of the best options on the whole menu- enjoy it! The protein and fat content will keep you satisfied for hours to come, and you are getting loads of amazing nutrients!

OATMEAL:  While oatmeal is one of the lesser offenders on the glycemic index scale, it is still a grain. That means that it will not be digested properly in your body, it will inhibit nutrient absorption, it will spike your blood sugar a fair amount, and it pales in comparison to other whole, less processed, more nutrient dense options. And oatmeal is almost always contaminated with gluten, which can cause big issues for most people. Oatmeal is also often made with brown sugar or maple syrup, and this combined with the insulin raising qualities of the grain alone can add up to quite a bit of sugar. Not to mention any added fruit (sugar). Are you noticing a trend here? 

WHAT TO GET INSTEAD: If you're looking for a great nutrient rich energy source, try a sweet potato hash with vegetables and protein. The veggies will deliver all (and more) of the fiber you were hoping for with oatmeal, the protein will help keep you full, and the fat in the hash will help keep your blood sugar levels steady as your body utilizes the carbohydrates in the sweet potatoes. This makes for a much more steady, slow, satisfying, nutrient dense and useful energy boost (perfect for a pre-workout meal!).

BOTTOM LINE: Don't be fooled into thinking low-cal or low-fat is healthy, since those options are often laden with sugars and grains that do precisely nothing for your body except send your insulin levels into crazy town and prohibit nutrient absorption. Opt for healthy fats, high protein and low sugar choices, and you will be feeding your body exactly what it needs to be happy and healthy. And remember, when in doubt, (whole) eggs and bacon is always a great choice!


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