Don't Get Sick

Getting sick is such a bummer, and something is always going around this time of year. It interrupts our lives; work, our social life, training, and it just plain sucks to feel like crap. Though the season is upon us for catching nasty colds, flus, sinus infections, and other plagues, it doesn't mean getting sick is inevitable! You actually can sidestep all those bugs by boosting your immune system- follow our tips here to stay healthy all winter long. 

 

  • EAT RIGHT. The good news is that if you already follow an anti-inflammatory, gut healing, nutrient dense diet (Paleo), you already have a huge advantage against infection. Be sure to stock up on the good stuff this time of year and choose your treats wisely, since getting and staying healhty starts with food. 

 

  • SLEEP. Your body repairs itself and fights off and kills any nasty bacteria or viruses while you sleep.  A lack of sleep can greatly suppress your immune system, which makes it vital during your waking hours. Everyone requires a different amount of zzz's, and that amount can vary depending on what's going on in our life at the moment (anywhere from 6-9+ hours is "normal"). You know you are getting the right amount if you feel rested when you wake up and are ready to conquer the day with energy. Shut off the TV and go to bed already, the next episode of The Voice  will be waiting for you on Hulu tomorrow!

 

  • MANAGE YOUR STRESS. This can be a hard one this time of year with end of the year deadlines at work, holiday events, family visits, gifts to buy, and so on. But this is paramount in preventing illness because stress causes your body to release hormones (including cortisol) that suppress your immune system, which can in turn prevent your body from fighting off bacteria and viruses that make you sick. Remember to make time for your favorite stress-relief activities, whether that's meditation, going for a walk, reading an enjoyable book, working out, laughing with a friend, taking a hot bath, or getting a massage- whatever works for you! Also remember that you don't have to be superwoman this time of year!  You do NOT need to attend every party, make that perfect paleo homemade dish for dinner guests, buy the perfect gift for everyone on your list, or host impeccable Martha-would-be-proud parties! Give yourself a break, slow down, listen to your body, and only do the things that you really want to do, have the energy for, and can do while maintaining good self care.

 

  • TRY TO AVOID ALL THAT SUGAR. We know- it's EVERYWHERE! This is another hard one this time of year with all of the yummy goodies hanging around, but next time that pumpkin spiced latte or cute little sugar cookie is staring you in the face, keep in mind that sugar greatly impacts the ability of your white blood cells to do their job, which is to demolish bacteria: It inhibits their power by up to a whopping 50%! The effect sugar has on your white blood cells can happen as quickly as thirty minutes after eating that cute little cookie, and last for hours afterwards. Instead, make a yummy paleo treat that is sweetened with fruit instead of refined sugar. 

 

  • WASH THOSE PAWS. Regular soap (not antibacterial soap) and warm water will do the trick to rid your hands of any bugs you may have picked up. No need to go all crazy and wash 20 times a day!  Just make sure to wash at least after the bathroom (duh!), before you eat, and when you get home. 

 

  • EXCERSIZE. Get out there and get moving! Exercise has been shown to enhance the ability of the infection fighting cells in your body to do their job. Of course we love CrossFit, but just make sure to do what ever exercise you love and lets you have fun, raises your heartrate, makes you sweat, and gets your fit! Of course, if you feel a bug coming on, it's wise to rest instead of forcing exercise and "sweating it out" (not a thing!). Your body (and your gym-mates!) will thank you, and you'll be back in the gym before you know it. 

 

  • DRINK UP. Being well hydrated allows your body to properly flush out anything that could potentially make you sick. We like to suggest aiming for drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and adjust as you see fit. (If your pee is really yellow, you're not drinking enough! It should be very light yellow to almost clear).

 

  • GET SOME HEALTHY BUGS. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, or taking a probiotic does wonders for our bodies in ways that are still being discovered. Our immune system is almost entirely in our gut, and the precious micro biome that exists within our gut is the gatekeeper to dozens of various physiological systems in our body. Eating fermented foods and/or taking a probiotic can help populate our gut with the kind of bacteria your body needs in order to stay healthy, and fight the unwanted bacteria that can make you sick. 

 

  • FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL (FCLO). We know, it sounds so yummy doesn't it? But your grandmother was really on to something when she recommended that cod liver oil when you were sick as a kid. FCLO is an amazing supplement containing a plethora of fat-soluble vitamins that kick your immune system into gear (like vitamin D) and fatty acids that reduce inflammation. 

 

  • IF YOU FEEL SOMETHING COMING ON   At the first sign, rest, drink some bone broth, make some paleo chicken soup, stay hydrated, sleep, and stay home from work. You can also boost your odds of nipping it in the bed with supplements like zinc, echinacea, vitamin C, oil of oregano, and elderberry. 

Note: If you are a She Thrives newsletter subscriber, you will recieve our recipes for our immune boosting tea & fresh juice, which will both help get your defenses up for whatever flu season might bring your way!

May the powers of whole foods, lots of rest, and self care be with you this season! Do you have a favorite anti-cold tactic? Share below, we'd love to hear it!

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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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Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Eggs are a staple in our diets, and we make a concerted effort to eat them ever single day becuase of their nutrient density and protein content. Not only are they nutrient powerhouses, they are easy to prepare, go with lots of different flavors, and tasty to boot! When we get home from the supermarket, one of the first things we do is boil a dozen (or two) right away, so we've got an easy grab-and-go snack throughout the week.  

Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to boil your eggs!  Did you know that if your eggs have an odor when you peel them, are too hard to peel, have a chalky textured yolk (they should be creamy!), or have a colored tint to the yolk instead of perfectly yellow all around, that means they are overcooked?  We've got the scoop on how to make perfectly cooked, stink-less, creamy, easy to peel, tasty hard boiled eggs for you right here, with tips from our friends over at Nom Nom Paleo!

PREP

1. Grab a big pot.

2. Gently puncture a small hole through the shell of each egg before placing it into the empty pot. This helps prevent the contents of the egg from boiling over and splitting the shell while cooking, and helps make them very easy to peel when they're done. Use a sharp thumb tack or a needle to make a small hole at one end of the egg.

3. Submerge all the eggs, with about an inch of water of coverage.

COOK

4. Cover the pot and place over high heat to bring to a boil. Keep your eyes on the pot during this time! 

5. Once your water is at a good boil, start your timer for ONE minute.

6. When one minute is up, turn off the heat. Let them sit in the hot water, covered, for another 10 minutes. This is the secret to the most perfectly cooked eggs ever!

7. After 10 minutes, drain and transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with cold water and ice. This stops their cooking immediately and ensures they won't be overcooked.

Enjoy!

Add your eggs to salads, eat them as is with a little salt, or any other way you like to enjoy your eggs.

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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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The Best Scrambled Eggs

It's no secret that eggs are one of nature's most nutrient-dense superfoods, and we should be eating as many of them as we can. (Read about all their superpowers here). Whether they're boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, or deviled, they are packed to the gills with only the best stuff that your body craves. That being said, they can get a little dull if you eat them a lot like we do, so here are a couple tips to make your next same-ol' scrambled egg breakfast (or dinner!) a little more luxe. After you crack them into a bowl, add some salt and pepper, (tossing in some finely chopped mixed herbs can be great too- parsely and basil make a great addition) and then follow these steps to the creamiest eggs ever (people will ask you what you did to these to make them so amazing!):


1.  WHISK LIKE CRAZY! Use a whisk if you've got one, instead of a fork or your other scrambler of choice, or a real old fashioned egg beater is even better.  You want to get as much air into the mix as possible.  Don't beat them for too long, but be sure to get them nice and frothy with a pretty quick but really powerful whisk. (Use those muscles!)


2.  MELT GRASSFED BUTTER, ghee, or your fat of choice in a small pan over medium-high heat, and when it's melted, turn the flame down to the lowest possible setting it can go to before it goes out. Pour in your eggs.


3.  COOK 'EM LOW AND SLOWThis is the secret to the creamy texture! It might take more effort or attention than you're used to with easy eggs, but I promise it's worth it if you don't rush this part! While they are sitting over the lowest possible flame your stovetop can make (or just barely above it), stay near them and be sure to mix them around frequently so that the bottom layer doesn't form a film or cook too fast. Turn them over and move them around every couple minutes, without poking at them too much. You want them all to cook evenly and slowly but you also don't want to jab at them and mess with thier texture too much. Depending on the amount of eggs and the size of the pan, this can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. (For four eggs in a small 6" pan it usually takes at least 10 minutes- be patient!).


4. DON'T OVERCOOK THEM!  As soon as the runny pools morph into more solid chunks, they're done. Kill the heat and let them sit in the pan for a couple more minutes as you mix them a bit and they continue to slowly cook. Overcooking will ruin all your hard work and exercises in patience, so be sure to pull them as soon as they are all slightly sticking together (probably a bit earlier than you're used to pulling them off) and way before they become rubbery. 



Top with an extra pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper and serve however you like! (You might not even need the hot sauce on these since they've got so much flavor).


Enjoy!

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Finding Balance

Hey guys!  Today we want to talk to you about one of the most important parts of living the Paleo life: finding your own balance with food.  We all know that in order to achieve and maintain good health, we've got to make good choices most of the time.  But the key word there is most.  I mean, what is the point of living so strictly that you stop having fun?  We need to be able to find to a place where we can still achieve our own goals and stay healthy but are still enjoying life in the meantime. All work and no play makes for some stressed out grumps, and we don't want that!  So how do you find your own balance?  Here are some tools to help you ditch the all-or-nothing mentality that ultimately sets a lot of us up for failure. Try them out and see that works best for you.

 

Follow your health regimen 80% of the time, and don't sweat it for the other 20% of the time. Confused about what that means? Well this part takes some experimenting on your behalf, since it could mean a variety of things: Maybe you follow Paleo during the week and then allow one day a week to be your "treat day", where you enjoy whatever foods you like. Maybe it means that you eat clean every day but enjoy a Paleo (or not so Paleo!) treat after dinner a few nights a week.  Or maybe you want to save it up for special occasions when you know there's going to be some irresistable grub (your grandmother's apple pie? A birthday cake?) The point is that you shouldn't be pulling your hair out over the little details all the time or adhering so strictly that you lose sight of enjoying life. (That type of stress and obsessiveness can cause health issues all by itself). Find a 80/20 balance that works for you, that allows you to still progress and get closer to your goals instead of slowing you down, but make an effort to loosen up every once in a while! For me personally, I know that gluten will give me a three day hangover, so I steer clear of that most of the time and indulge in a sweet or other gluten free but non-Paleo snack every so often.  And if the time is right and I really decide that the gluten hangover is worth it, I go for it with no regrets (World famous Voo-Doo Doughnuts in Portland, anyone?). 

 

As you finagle this balance, the important things to keep in mind are your own personal goals and why you began seeking a path to health.  When you're debating whether the office cookie tray is worth it or not, take a moment to remember your goals, and why you are making these choices in the first place. Instead of making food choices based on how you think a food will make you look or how much weight it might make you gain, (because that implies there is something wrong with the way you look, and there ain't nothin' wrong with how you look, honey), try to connect with yourself and make food choices based on how a food will make you feel. Will it make you feel slow and sluggish in the gym and keep you from kicking ass like you usually do? Will it energize you and keep a smile on your face?  That gluten hangover I mentioned earlier is something I choose to avoid because I know how much it will effect my training, my mood, and my ability to fight off the sugar cravings that will inevitably follow. So remember why you began your journey to health, and use that as a base point to make your decision. You might find that it will shift your mentality from "I can't have that", to "I don't want that".  And most importantly, if the answer to your own question happens to be YES, you want it (and how it will make you feel will be worth it), then enjoy it, girl, enjoy it, and without a trace of guilt.

 

When you diverge from the Paleo lifestyle, either thoughtfully and intentionally as part of your 80/20 balance, or something you didn't think through and did spontaneously, remember this (burn it into your brain, ladies!): IT'S OK. It. is. ok!  Don't stress about "messing up" or whatever other burden you may be putting on yourself.  Enjoy the those moments, savor the food and the company, and don't sweat the small stuff. Get back on track at your next meal, the next day, or when you feel ready.  It's very important to be kind to yourself during these moments. You are already making the hard choice to get healthy, so feel proud of yourself for doing right by your body most of the time!  That's a big deal, and it makes all the difference. 

 

We want you to be healthy but we also really want you to enjoy your life. After all, isn't that what it means to thrive?

 

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