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Monthly Archives: November 2012

So I’ve discovered the paleo subreddit on http://www.reddit.com (thank you Adam Howard) and there’s been some pretty interesting conversations on there that sparked some things in my mind that I figured I should talk about a bit here.

Also I just finished reading 4 lectures of anatomy and don’t want to get back to studying just yet.

Since starting the paleo diet I’ve read blog posts and rants and raves from all kinds of people who eat paleo and its occurred to me that paleo is really more of a lifestyle rather than just a diet. Sure the diet is a big part of it, but its really just a devotion to being healthier and feeling better about yourself. The most important part about this though is that being paleo doesn’t mean you have to be paleo all the time. Sure there are die-hards who eat only organic grass-fed meats, never ever eat any grains (even gluten free ones) and never eat any dairy products. And while that was mostly me (minus the organic grass-fed meat) for the last month, that was one of the things I didn’t like so much about the challenge.

That’s where the concept of 80/20 comes in, and I think its a concept that can really be applied to a lot of different areas in peoples lives. Essentially what it says is that you should try to be paleo 80% of the time and then leave the other 20% for everything else. Now you can take that in a literal way, or in a bit of a more liberal way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that 80% of everything you eat should be paleo and that you’re allowed to have 20% that isn’t. It really just means that you should focus on making sure you’re eating healthy things and getting lots of exercise and that unhealthy things once in a while are perfectly okay. For instance I had a really shitty midterm yesterday night, so I bought a small tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (on sale, total score!). I honestly couldn’t even remember the last time I had ice cream before that. The point is that even though chocolate fudge brownie ice cream is nowhere even close to being paleo, its okay to have once in a while.

Now the diehards would say “NO! there’s high fructose corn syrup and lactose and gluten in the brownies! None of that is good for you!” Which I would agree, however I’m eating ice cream and still maintaining just as high of a level of fitness as they are, so who’s the real winner here? Side point: I am going to try and stay away from gluten as much as I can, even on my “20%” just because I really notice the effects of eating it. That ice cream just so happened to be the only one left on the shelf, so I went for it.

Another thing I wanted to talk a bit about is the subject of genetically modified foods, or GMO foods (specifically vegetables). This stems from a conversation that I had with a friend earlier, in which I had stated that GMO vegetables are bad for you, but had never actually thought of the reasons why I would think that. Here I was caught under the “natural is better” umbrella of paleo, and as a man who prides himself on researching everything, I felt pretty stupid for doing that. Sorry, more to the point: After giving it some thought and doing more research, I don’t really see a problem with GMO vegetables, in fact I actually think its a pretty amazing innovation in technology. Sure in the Western world crops are modified to grow larger and make more money, but in third world countries crops are modified to be heartier, grow in unfavorable conditions and be more nutritious than regular strains of the same crop. All of this is done through simply changing how the genes of the crop are expressed. Its basically just gene mutation, the foundation of basically all evolution. There’s no deadly chemicals involved, nothing that’s going to give you cancer or anything like that. Now I knew all of these things, and knew exactly how gene mutation and expression worked, but still had the thought that GMO was bad. Boy I feel dumb.

FYI GMO vegetables is a completely different topic from modified meats because animals are modified using hormones, not altered gene expression. I’ve blabbed on enough for one night though, time to start studying Organic Chemistry.

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So this weekend officially marks the end of my 30 day challenge, and of course it happens to end off with Mac not winning the Vanier cup…what a way to end a challenge. So logically because it was the end of the challenge I ate and drank the things that I’m not supposed to, including but not limited to beer, chicken schnitzel and eggs benedict. Well I’m hear to tell you now, after a day and a half of consuming gluten again, I feel like garbage. I’m not in a huge amount of pain or anything, although my stomach does hurt a bit, but I honestly just feel gross. My head feels kinda cloudy, I haven’t got much energy, feeling pretty sluggish. But this week is back to being healthy again, I just picked up a bunch of groceries on the way back from Toronto and I figured I would share some of the things that I’m making tonight. Nothing overly fancy or anything, but its all pretty tasty so far:

-Maple roasted brussel sprouts and parsnips

-Pesto spaghetti squash with roast chicken and sauteed vegetables.

The first recipe is super easy:

-Preheat oven to 350

-Quarter brussel sprouts and peel/chop parsnips

-Toss with olive oil, S&P, minced garlic and and 2 teaspoons maple syrup (you can add more if you like)

-Roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes or until sprouts and parsnips start to brown a bit

-Be amazed at how you could ever not like brussel sprouts because these taste so good.

Second recipe:

-Preheat oven to 350

-Halve squash, clean the inside and roast cut side down for approx. 30 minutes depending on size

-At the same time season a chicken breast with S&P and bake for 30 minutes.

-Sautee chopped onions and mushrooms until softened.

-Toss in some cooked chopped bacon

-Add in chopped kale, cook till wilted

-Shred spaghetti squash and toss with pesto

-Slice chicken breast and serve with vegetables over squash.

Now I mention tossing in cooked bacon only because I have cooked bacon on hand. I’ve been working on reseasoning my cast iron frying pans and one of the best (and tastiest) ways of doing that is by making large batches of bacon. So I currently have a weeks worth of cooked bacon in the fridge, its great.

In other news, I reached my first term weight goal for squats last week. My goal was to be able to do 3 reps at 225 lbs and I did 6 reps on Thursday. Hoping to improve on that before I go home for the holidays. I also spent a bunch of time on Friday coming up with Crossfit workouts to do over the holidays seeing as I won’t have a gym to go to. I even scaled them all so that Meghan can do them with me (shh don’t tell her though).

Today was intersting…we’ll talk more about that in a minute. As Pearce pointed out in the last post there are a lot of pluses that we are each noticing about the way we feel and look while eating Paleo. I’m going to keep it short, but feel I have more mental clarity, I’m having less up and downs in terms of my mood and I’m also feel really good in my body.

That being said, my body and I didn’t get along today. I haven’t eaten a banana in over 10 years and like any allergy/intolerance I assumed I would eventually grow out of it. I did not. So I spent a little over 6 hours wanting to curl up into the fetal position because my stomach hurt so much. Not to worry though, because I’m feeling better (thank you Benadryl!) AND I made this awesome mug cake…I was craving chocolate.

This cake is loosely adapted from OMG Paleo: http://paleomg.com/paleo-chocolate-cake-in-a-mug/. The version I’d made is a little more brownie tasting, but still has a cake-y texture. This will definitely be my go to for a chocolate fix.

For those of you who don’t know I’m currently directing a play, so my last 2 weeks of paleo are going to be a little boring on the recipe side, but I’ll try and keep the reading interesting and if nothing else I’ll just make more cake mugs!

Mug Cake!

  • 2 teaspoons Coconut flour (plus 2 extra dashes, I didn’t measure…sorry!
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) sunflower butter (I’m sure any nut butter would work)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  1. Put all ingredients into mug
  2. Stir together and add coconut flour until you get the desired consistency (a touch thicker than pancake batter is what you’re after)
  3. Place in microwave for 2 minutes (mine only took about 1:40 sec)
  4. EAT IT! NOM NOM NOM

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Have a happy Tuesday everyone!

So I’m coming up on 3 weeks out of the 4 week challenge, Meg I believe is coming up on 2 weeks, so I figured maybe its time to start talking about some of the benefits that we’ve started to notice since being on the diet. Its certainly been a topic of discussion between the two of us, but we haven’t really talked about it all here, which is really what this blog is supposed to be about.

First things first: My mood and energy levels. Now its quite possible that my mood has been better because I have more energy, or I have more energy because my mood has been better but either way there has been a definite improvement in both. I’ve been sleeping better, its easier for me to get up in the morning, I don’t feel like passing out in class and I can workout and play badminton in the same day without feeling like I want to die. I have to say that this is definitely the biggest change I’ve noticed so far and I LOVE it.

Second: My focus and concentration. Both of these have shown an improvement as well. I’m finding it much easier to pay attention in class and I’m finding it easier to absorb information when I’m studying. My classes tend to be a little on the dry side so this has been a welcome change. I’ve also noticed a difference in my badminton game. Now part of that is definitely due to the mental training that I was working on in the summer, but I think part of the concentration portion is thanks to the diet.

Lastly: How I feel. Now I know that this is kind of a difficult one to measure, because I thought I felt pretty good before, but I seriously feel fantastic. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it but maybe its just all of the things that I mentioned all rolled into one. I’ve been gaining more muscle than before, I’ve been managing to keep the weight on (I’m pretty sure at least, I don’t own a scale so I just kinda go on how I look in the mirror), I look better (I am allowed to have some vanity), and I can do more of the activities that I love (like powerlifting and playing badminton) without feeling like I want to die the next day.

So those are some of the biggest things that I’ve noticed so far. I gotta say that those changes absolutely outweigh the things that I can’t eat anymore. I’ll most likely be continuing this eating pattern as my normal diet after the month is over. I will however not maintain it quite as strictly as I have been during this month. Obviously I wanted to go strictly paleo just to see what all of the fuss is about, and I definitely see it now. There are certainly things that I’m starting to miss a bit, foremost being Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. Everyone gets to indulge sometimes, its only when you indulge all the time that there’s a problem.

Comfort food: the name means different things to different people. Almost everyone I know has at least one food they can think of that makes them feel calm and cozy, reminds them of home and most importantly tastes freaking fantastic. I happen to have more than a few comfort foods, mostly because my mother was/is a great cook. Among the top of the list are: Chicken Corn Casserole, Beef Stroganoff, Tuna Helper (yes the shit from the box, it reminds me of camping as a kid) and Chicken Pot Pie.

The last one is a rather new addition to the list. Mum never made it very much when I was a kid as far as I can remember, but Meghan’s mum makes it a few times a year and its just the best. I could honestly eat an entire one of Carole’s pies in one sitting. Granted I could say that about a lot of foods, but its definitely true when it comes to chicken pot pie. That being said, behold! Paleo Chicken Pot Pie:

http://cosmopolitanprimalgirl.wordpress.com/2009/12/20/paleo-chicken-pot-pie/

I decided to forgo the almond flour crust as I needed to save my almond flour for the protein bars. I replaced the crust with mashed potatoes instead. Now technically potatoes aren’t entirely paleo, there’s no literature that says that they’re bad for you but they’re generally frowned upon because of the high starch content. However, I work out 4 times a week and play badminton 4 times a week on top of that, so I’m thinking that starch doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in my body. This pie was seriously tasty though, I really enjoyed it and it tasted exactly how it was supposed to. Mine was a little more liquidy than maybe it should have but I think I added too much chicken stock.

Now for the protein bars. For these I basically did a whole bunch of research and compiled all of my favourite things about the different recipes into my own special recipe. Boy did it ever work, these bars are seriously tasty. They’re actually a bit too tasty, I just want to eat them all right now. But they were made to be a quick nutritious snack for before the gym or practice so I must exercise self control (get it? exercise, gym, sharp like a tack I tells ya). Here’s the recipe I made, feel free to tweak things as you see fit:

1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup flax meal
3 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
2 1/2 cups chopped mixed nuts (I used almond, macadamia, sunflower seeds, raisins)
4 tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix everything except the nuts together first so that its like a smooth sticky paste. This is the base of the bars so its important that there’s no lumps or anything. Then add in the nuts and mix until they’re all incorporated. Pour into a lined baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Should make about 15 or 16 bars.

I was able to make a fairly decent estimation about the nutritional content of the bars:

272 Calories
7.82g Protein
5.72g Fiber
24.38g Fat

Now I know that last number seems fairly high, however about 95% of that fat is monounsaturated fat (also known as healthy fat). Monounsaturated fats help reduce blood cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the blood vessels. They’ve also been shown to help reduce things like osteoperosis and macular degeneration but more studies are needed to verify those findings. When you’re looking at the nutritional content of foods that you’re eating, its definitley more important to be concerned with the types of fats you’re eating, rather than how much of it.

Side note, makes sure your nuts are chopped well, mine were a little coarse and it made slicing the bars a little difficult.

Also I’m so happy that tomorrow is my rest day lol, yesterday was fitness for the badminton team plus I did a WOD (Crossfit workout) for my legs afterwards. I also worked out this morning and had practice this evening, needless to say my body is a little sore.

I’ve decided to start trying to do Crossfit on my own with the equipment I have at my disposal. As excited and passionate as I am about it, there’s no way I can afford to take classes at a Crossfit gym, its just way too expensive. Which really sucks because I’d really like to be able to compete in Crossfit. But oh well, being poor is the life of a student lol. I’ll just have to stick to the totally awesome, really fun soul crushing workouts for now. And yes the words totally awesome, really fun and soul crushing all go together when I describe workouts 🙂

Sorry about the longish post today, had a lot of things to talk about apparently. Also don’t forget to refrigerate the bars after they’ve cooled, there are things in them that can go bad.

 

Welcome to the weekend that was all about baking. Pearce and I set out to find some recipes that would curb both of our sweet tooths. And then we met our new best (mind you expensive) friend Almond Flour. Almond flour, or ground almonds is a great alternative for flour. It has a different consistency than one might usually like in a flour, but lends itself well to many recipes as we discovered.

First was the quest for a chocolate chip cookie. We found a recipe on “The Urban Poser” blog. She makes many gluten, dairy, egg, and grain free recipes. She warns on the post that these will be the best GF, DF, EF cookies you’ll ever eat…she wasn’t wrong. We even bribed our friend John to come over because we were baking cookies and by the time he showed up, well, let’s just say the cookies had gone missing. Needless to say he wasn’t super impressed, but Pearce and I’s taste buds and tummies sure were. Regardless of whether or not you have dietary needs or you’re doing a challenge like Pearce and I, this recipe is worth making once! Here is the recipe:

http://urbanposer.blogspot.ca/2012/07/perfect-grain-free-chocolate-chip.html

Onto the next delicious endeavour: Pancakes. With such great success on the cookie front we found a pancake recipe that also used almond flour. The pancakes were definitely the fluffiest GF pancakes I’ve ever seen (Pearce said the same, and he has a bit more knowledge on the topic of GF pancakes). They tasted great. Pearce and I subbed the coconut milk for chocolate almond milk and added the leftover chocolate chips we had into them. I would have liked just a touch of extra sweetness, but Pearce thought they were perfect. I ended up drizzling mine with a bit of honey and voila! Definitely a great Sunday morning breakfast:

http://crossfitrebellion.com/paleo-pancakes-the-most-delicious-version-yet-2/

Finally, I made the granola…again. I know, terrible, but I miss cereal! Anyways, tasty and since I didn’t link it last time I will here. I added a whole mess of nuts (it only calls for a 1.5 cups of nuts and I’m pretty sure I added at least 4), but the “sauce” can coat a lot and why not make a bigger batch? Just means more morning deliciousness:

http://paleomg.com/pumpkin-granola/

So there you have it, a weekend of sweets. We did eat other stuff this weekend, I swear. There was a lovely stir-fry Pearce made and I’m currently making a cauliflower soup. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I would have loved to give you pictures today, but to be honest we everything before I could even take out my camera haha. Hope everyone had a happy weekend! Did you bake anything delicious this weekend?

So, here I am, past the 1 week mark and still surviving.

For those of you who don’t know Pearce and I were seeing a personal trainer in the summer. Jason was (still is) amazing. Such a great guy. You know what he didn’t tell me though, or rather what I didn’t count on? Losing weight. I know that seems silly, but I didn’t really think I would lose as much as I have. Now, I’m not boasting, trust me, because I’m about to tell you the downside of losing weight and also being pretty darn poor — You can’t afford any new clothing that fits. So basically I walk around with a saggy, baggy butt and can’t do anything about it! Haha. Someone should have warned me 😛 

Anyways, point is that now that I’ve started the paleo challenge my clothing is getting even bigger. I am really enjoying have no grain in my life, as crazy as that sounds, because not only do I feel less bloated ALL THE TIME, I also feel like my stomach is thanking me. Though, let’s be honest, I’m still craving sugar pretty bad….

Enter: Pumpkin Granola. This is the same “granola” that Pearce talked about a few posts ago. It is amazing. I literally want to make a batch EVERY week and just eat it all. It’s going to save me this month, I can feel it. I’m also going to try making some DYI “peanut butter cups” (almond butter of course) today. I hope they turn out. Dark chocolate with no added sugar is relatively easy to find at bulk barn, the time to make them in my life has not been! Haha, so I’ve had a whole mess of chocolate sitting on my shelf for 4 days…that must be some sort of record for me, seriously.

Wish me luck! Have a happy Thursday!