Saturday, May 14, 2016

Chocolate Protein Lava Mug Cake

Wow! It's been a while! I'm still eating (mostly) Primal/Paleo with dairy. Quick catch-up:

I'm running the 5K Dairy Capitol Run again this year (May 29) as part of the Global 5K with Runkeeper, I will also be running the Ingersoll Sprint Into Summer 5K on June 12, and I am seriously considering doing the 10K Hamilton Road2Hope in November. I'm also lifting heavy 4-5 times a week.

I was wanting something sweet today after lunch, and remembered a delicious mug cake recipe I have done some fiddling with to make it more to my tastes. This is a link to the original.

1 scoop Chocolate PVL Essentials Sport Whey
1 T coconut flour or gluten-free flour (I use GF)
1/2 t baking powder
1-2 T sweetener of your choice (I use Truvia baking blend, about 1 t)
2 T cocoa

1 egg
1/4 whole milk (can use any milk: almond, etc)

1 T oil or melted butter

Optional: 2 T peanut butter and/or a small handful of chocolate chips

In a small mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients together.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Pour slowly into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Coat a deep mug or bowl with oil or butter. Pour the batter into the mug and top with a dollop of pb and/or the chocolate chips. Microwave for 60 seconds and eat immediately. The batter is not supposed to be cooked all the way; if you don't like lava cakes, cook it for longer.

You can also bake this in the oven. Just keep an eye on it so you don't overcook.

Macros as I make it:
Calories: 524
Protein: 42
Fat:  29
Carbs: 27


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm Crazy! Half-Marathon

So I went a little nuts and decided to sign up for the SeaWheeze half-marathon that takes place in Vancouver BC in August.

Here are some details.

Today, I was sitting on my couch and had an idea: why not raise money in the form of pledges for my half-marathon madness and donate all the money to the London Humane Society?!? I've done it before for a 5 km race. I figure that the animals need the money. Here's a link to the LHS.

So...I'll be collecting cash, cheques, and PayPal. I'll set up a PayPal donation button in the sidebar so people can give easily that way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roasted Beets With Balsamic Glaze

Hello everyone! Life has been crazy busy. I'm still chugging away at the fat loss challenge - in fact, we're officially half-way done! Insane! I'll make up another post to discuss my results, because this post is about (as the title indicates) a delicious beet recipe that I want to share.

I made these beets about four years ago, the first time, and haven't made them much since. It's an absolutely delicious recipe and might even convert you beet haters out there. It's a completely paleo recipe, if you use honey, and is even pretty much low-carb. The recipe will serve two as a side dish, unless you love beets like me, in which case it will serve one with a little left over. Ha.

The recipe is very simple to multiply if you want to make more.

4-5 beets
2 T olive oil
pinch of salt

1/2 T honey
1/2 T butter
1/2 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Scrub your beets clean and remove any spots that are questionable. Trim the roots down to about 1" and place the beets in a glass baking dish.

Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Place in oven and roast for between one and two hours, depending on the size of the beets. After one hour, start testing every 15 minutes.

When you can easily stick a fork in them, they're done.

Remove them from the oven and leave the foil off so they cool a bit.

Prepare the glaze while you wait for them to cool: throw the glaze ingredients into a shallow saucepan and bring to a low boil at medium-high heat. Stir very frequently, until the glaze is reduced to a thickened syrup. Remove from heat.

Peel the beats. I recommend you wear gloves, unless you like pinky-purple fingers. Trust me.

Cut the beets into bite-sized chunks.

Put the beets into a glass serving bowl and pour the glaze over top. Mix and then serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold. Either way is delicious!

You're welcome.

I'm making these tonight, so I'll add a photo later.
**edited to add: the photos totally sucked, so you're outta luck until next time. Sorry!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weight Gain, Gluten Intolerance, and Weight Loss Challenge!

I have lots to talk about! I've been crazy busy with work and just haven't had the time to update here. So I apologize. I hope everyone is doing well! The summer is coming to a close - hard to believe, huh?

In May, I was weighing in at around 146-148 and was feeling awesome. I still had a way to go, but felt it was time to take a break from "cutting" (eating at a deficit every day) so I increased my caloric intake. That wouldn't have been bad in and of itself, but I also fell back into the carb addiction I suffered from before and gorged on pizza and beer. That resulted in two issues: one, I gained a crap-ton of weight back (about 12 pounds, with about 4-5 of it being water from the carbs) and worse, I realized I am gluten intolerant. For realz, yo.

Within a couple days of eating wheat, my joints hurt. A LOT. After a couple weeks of eating it, My left shoulder, elbow, and knee were intolerably painful. My right elbow and knee, and also my ankles, toes and fingers ached, too. So I went back to a GF diet and within about a week and half, all my joints were back to their pain-free state except for my left shoulder. My doc thinks I might have done some rotator cuff damage, so if it continues to be painful I might go for an ultrasound just to rule that out.

So we're back to the "this is why you eat non-inflammatory foods" mindset! What better way to prove that inflammatory foods like grains, legumes, and sugar are to be avoided!

I also entered myself into a cutting contest with a FB group I belong to - it had a monetary buy-in, which provides some extra motivation to just not give up, and some healthy competition. There are two categories: bulk and cut, and within each category, participants are divided into male and female groups. I don't have any illusions about the likelihood of my winning, but I'm sure going to try!

I'm not going into this half-cocked: I'm following John Kiefer's Carb Nite Solution (CNS) diet program. Basically, it's a very low-carb diet with one night of carb-ups every 4-7 days once you get past the induction phase. I'm in the induction phase right now (9.5 days of fewer than 30g of carbs per day) and will have a carb night on Thursday coming. I'm on day 6 right now, and weighed in this morning at four pounds less than I did on Monday. I've lost an inch from my waist already! The last 5 days haven't been too rough on me, mostly because I was eating at fairly low carb (under 100g most days, and some days less than 50g). Some people who go from a typical standard diet (over 200 or more grams of carbs per day) would probably be pretty miserable.

If you're interested in learning more about CNS, go here and read about it. Kiefer also has an eBook that details the plan and tells you exactly what you need to know about why it works.

I'm excited to see how it will work. I've never done carb-ups with any regularity before, I just tended to eat higher carbs on training days. But it was a bit different then as I didn't totally cut out alcohol and I'd occasionally have pizza. So it should be interesting to see how a strict plan will work for me. The carb nights will essentially be a "cheat" night but since I can't have gluten, I'll have to stick to sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, and other high-glucose foods for my carbs. I'm going to check out a gluten-free bakery on Thursday (my carb night) to see if they have any goodies I'll be able to enjoy. Can you say "gluten free DONUTS?" :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kefir Grains

I have real, live, kefir grains!
It's really late and I don't have the time or energy to post much beyond this, but hey! I have real, live, kefir grains!
(image from Wikipedia, thank you)

I have a fresh batch of raw milk with fermenting on my stove as I type this. It's a complete experiment with me, as I've never even TASTED kefir, let alone made it. But I know how good it is for us, so I'll try it. I'm thinking I'll make a smoothie with a bit of milk and some frozen blueberries tomorrow. Update will follow.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dairy Capital Race

My race a couple weeks ago went really well. The weather was perfect; not too hot, not cold, and no rain, thankfully, until later that day. There were several hundred runners! The course was somewhat difficult, with at least three hills - the first one was about 50m outside of the starting gate, which sucked. I tend to go full-out when I start a race, and then taper off. I was winded by the time I reached the top of that hill, and I would have taken off a bit slower if I'd known about the hill. Oh well.

Five km is a long way to run when you've not had much training. It took me 34:05, which is slow, but not bad considering I only ran about 4 times in the two months preceding the race, and my longest run was only 4km.

I realized that I still love running. I've since started a running club here in the town where I live, and we had our first run this past Tuesday. I hope to go trail running tomorrow. Now I need to buy new shoes...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Last night I took my camera to the gym. There aren't any mirrors near the squat rack, and even with mirrors, it's hard to check your own form. It's easier to fix your form when you're just starting - it's like learning to drive...if you never develop bad habits it's a lot better. Here's what I did last night. Remember, if you're a trainer and you're watching this, it's only my fourth time doing weighted barbell squats. Ever. I usually use dumbbells or do Bulgarian split squats. Back in my college days I used a smith machine because my gym didn't have a squat rack. Anyway, I digress.

I'm following the Practical Programming for Novices progression (by Rippetoe). Last night I did 2x5 45lb (warm up), 1x3 60lb, 1x2 80lb, 1x3 90lb (this was supposed to be 3x5 but my left knee felt wonky on the 3rd rep so I quit and lowered the weight), and 3x5 75lb. The video is of the first set. I want to try to work on getting lower, and hinging more from the hips.

I've been following Mark Rippetoe's YouTube videos on weight training. He teaches form, including a all the  mechanics of WHY you should do something a certain way (like I showed in my post on deadlifts). I watched his videos to decide whether to do low- or high-back squat, and what kind of form to use. I'm such a geek, I know. He discusses the merits of a low-bar squat and talks about angles and power and how those two things are related.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

30-Day Consistency Challenge

As most of you know, I've just recently finished a 12-week bootcamp. I lost 17 lb of fat and a whole lot of inches. I gained some muscle and strength, too. I'm at a plateau with my weight right now, and have been thinking about my intake, activity levels, and how to tweak things to continue with my cut.

Almost like she was reading my mind, Jenn from Fierce Fit Fearless devised a "30-Day FFF Consistency Counts Challenge" (FFF=Fierce Fit Fearless) that will run from April 26 to May 25. Can you say "perfect timing" or what?!

This is one of my "after" photos, taken April 13, 2012

Basically, she laid out the groundwork of nutrition and training. We'll eat at maintenance on training days and approximately 20% below maintenance on rest days. She suggests a macro division as well:

Training Day – 40% carbs, 45% protein, 15% fat
Rest Day – 20% carbs, 55% protein, 25% fat

That's fine for "regular" people (ha I don't mean to offend) but I'm grooving on this low-carb Paleo thing so I need to adjust this a bit to better suit me. And I want to do slightly more of a cut, so I'm going to start out with eating at 25% of TDEE on rest days (still an increase from what I'm used to). So here's what I'll be doing for macros:

Training Day (1700 cals) - 30% carbs, 45% protein, 25% fat
Rest Day (1300 cals) - 10% carbs, 45% protein, 45% fat
Please take note that this is significantly more calories per day than I've been eating, and more carbs on training days. It's a little less fat, but that's what you get when you eat at maintenance and need to get in a certain amount of protein and carbs - you lose some fat. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. I'm willing to give it 2 weeks for sure, to see if I lose, stay the same, or gain. I can twiddle with it at that point if I see something I don't like.

This challenge also requires weighing myself and measuring before and after. I'll also take before and after photos, just for funsies.

In the meantime, I decided that I'm not going to count, weigh, measure, or even look at the nutritional labels on foods between now and the 26th. If I want to eat a couple of potato chips, I will. I had a piece of pizza for lunch (and now I regret it, I really should stay away from grains) and I had some gluten-free cheesecake (a very small piece) for dessert. The capper: I had a great big glass of raw milk with that cheesecake. It was delicious. It's totally a nutrient-dense, high-calorie/carb/fat food item (the milk, not the cheesecake!), so it's not something I usually indulge in during a cut. I'm looking forward to hitting my goal weight (and therefore maintenance calories) so that I can add fresh milk back into my daily intake. The point of me not restricting calories right now is to give my body a break before I head back into an extended cut. This will give my hormones a chance to normalize if they have started to go a bit whacky, and will also let me eat the cheesecake I wanted for so long. :)

I have between 8 and 10 pounds left to go before I hit the top end of my goal weight range. I'm looking forward to fitting into my "skinny" jeans again, although I'm not sure they'll fit my new curvy booty. (Thank you squats!)

I will post before and after photos at the end of the challenge.

So, who's in? You can sign up HERE. The link at the top of the post takes you to the info page for the challenge.

By the way, if you're trying to figure out exactly how many grams of carbs/protein/fat those macros require, use THIS awesome online nutrient calculator.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cravings and Overeating

I received the book, The End of Overeating by Dr David Kressler the other day. One of the main things I struggle with is food cravings. I KNOW some foods are bad for me. I KNOW some foods are terrible for me. Does that stop me from eating them, most of the time? Yes. Does it stop me from eating them all of the time? No.

My main problem foods tend to be pizza, chocolate, tortilla chips with dip (usually artichoke and asiago) and sandwiches (like toasted tomato with mayo). You see the trend? Bread (carb) with cheese or sauce (fat) and salt. It's a delicious combination, isn't it?? And once I start, it's hard for me to stop. I'll have a few pieces of pizza, then I'll have half a chocolate Easter bunny, then I'll eat some ice cream...and it goes on. It needs to stop.

The book talks about why that combination (fat, sugar, salt) is so appealing. I've only just started reading it, but it's very insightful and I've learned a lot.

Mainly, I need to recognize (and I think I have) the difference between hunger and desire. For example, not even 20 minutes ago, I literally had the toaster out of the cupboards and in my hands, about to plug it in and throw some bread in there to make a toasted tomato sandwich. Nevermind the fact that this is a rest day, that I'm already over carbs for the day, nevermind the fact that I DON'T EAT BREAD, nevermind the fact that I KNOW I'll feel like shit if I eat it...I still wanted that instantaneous reward feeling going off in my brain.

It's sick I tell you...sick.

On another note, in speaking with a friend, I've realized there are three main condiments I really need to learn how to make myself, so I can control what goes into them: ketchup, BBQ sauce, and ranch dressing. Modern-day commercial versions are filled with soybean oil, canola oil, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colours and flavours, and are packaged in plastic. I'm gonna get on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BBQ Crockpot Chicken

I love my crockpot. I don't think I can actually express how much I love it. I use it to make chicken, turkey, and beef stock for use in homemade soups and sauces; I use it to make meals for when we'll be gone all day and coming  home late; and I use it to prepare meals for when I won't be home to cook dinner (my husband can't cook AT ALL). I actually have two - a regular sized one, and a super large one. The larger one is great for making large roasts or making stock with turkey bones.

The only thing I love more than my crockpots are the vast resources available online. I've recently discovered the joys of several different paleo cooking blogs and have been trying out different crockpot recipes. I think my favourite so far is tikka masala beef with coconut cauliflower.

Yesterday I made BBQ chicken using THIS recipe by Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations. I used a family tray of boneless skinless chicken thighs (there were 9 thighs in the tray). The only thing I changed was that I reduced the pepper (but only because I ran out) and added a bit of maple syrup to mine when I reheated it for dinner when I got home from the gym late last night. I pulled out three of the thighs, some sauce, and shredded the chicken into a small saucepan. I then added a teaspoon of 100% maple syrup, because I like my BBQ sauce slightly sweet. I heated it all up and enjoyed it with some sliced sweet potatoes fried in tallow. MMMMMMM.

I'm sorry I didn't take a photo before I ate it. I was hungry.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I love my new gym. It's clean, bright, well-equipped, and has great staff. I've been there for a week now, and am totally glad I signed up. So far I've done all three days of Nia Shanks' workout and one running session. I really should be running more but I've been busy with work and writing and haven't figured out how to work the running in with my weight training. Tonight I'll be going after work, I think I'll be doing Day 1 again (focusing on deadlifts) but I might run, too. We'll see.

If you're wondering what deadlifts are, and want to see the strongest man on the planet (as of 2009, anyway) deadlift 1,008 lb (about 3 minutes in), watch THIS:

If you're a nerd like me and want to know the physics of how things work in addition to doing things with perfect form, watch THIS:

The deadlift works the posterior chain: the low back, the glutes, and the hamstrings. Of course, I'll never be anywhere close to deadlifting (you lift a dead weight from the floor, hence the name), but I'm gonna do my best to eventually get to a place where I can lift twice my weight - that's a 1 rep max, of course. For now,I'll stick with the lighter weights and make sure my form is perfect.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

5k Race Details and Training Plan

I did it - if you look to the right, you'll see the "Donate" button so my peeps can donate money for my 5km race that I will be doing on May 27. All money raised goes to the local hospital foundation to pay for equipment at the brand-spanking new hospital. I haven't been there but I hear it's fabulous, especially the Labour and Delivery wing.

So here's the deal: I don't really like running. I used to do it all the time - in fact, I used to run every day. Sometimes twice. Then I ended up with a stress fracture in my foot (and likely in my shins, too) and decided to stop. I haven't run with any regularity since then. And then I discovered the LeanGains way of doing things (thanks to Martin Berkhan) and then Primal stuff (thanks to Mark Sisson) and I realized I don't have to run 4 or 5 times a week.

Then what do I do? I go and sign up for a 5km race. A running race. Five kilometres. For you Americans, that's about 3 miles. It doesn't seem like a whole lot until you try to do it. Unless, of course, you're a runner and do that easily. I don't. So I better start training! My last race time was 32:23, and was down the side of Hamilton mountain so it took a bit of time off my 2nd best time, which was 33:05. Of course, I'm eating Paleo now, and a lot more protein and stuff, so my body is actually healthier than it was back in 2004 (ouch, I know) when I last raced. So we'll see.

My friend Emy, who is crazy strong and fast and a great runner, suggested I use the Hal Higdon 5k novice training program. It looks pretty solid and doable for me, so I started tonight with a 1.5mile run/walk. I ran for about 7 minutes straight then upped the speed and realized shortly thereafter that I was going to either vomit or pass out, so I walked for a couple of minutes. Then I ran again for the remainder of the run. It took me around 16 minutes, including a 60 second warm-up where I just walked. That's pretty slow, but not bad considering I haven't done more than 30 second sprints in a LONG time.

To see the plan, go to here.

I'll try to do this training plan around my weight training. To be honest, the race is a one-off thing, unless I become addicted again, so my focus will be on finishing with a semi-decent time for my age instead of beating any records. I don't want to sacrifice strength in the gym just to make myself faster.

Is there anyone local to me who wants to run with me??

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Low Volume Training

I've been yearning for a gym membership for a couple months now. I had to get a few things straightened out with my budgeting before I could do so, which sucked. Finally, on Sunday I went to have a tour at a local fitness & racquetball club that just opened in January. I went to make sure they had all the stuff I need and want, like sufficient barbells, weight plates, enough dumbbells, area to work, leg press machine, squat rack, chinup bar, etc. I loved the place - it's so clean, and it's not corporate at all - it's run by the two owners, and the staff are very nice and helpful. Last night I took my void cheque and went to sign up for a 1-year membership.

Now that I'm past that whole "low-carb" performance killer period of time - it lasted about a month - I can focus on getting some good results in the gym. I did a bit of research and decided that Nia Shanks' "Minimum Training For Maximum Results" training program will suit me perfectly. I might add in a couple things as time goes on if I feel I need improvement in certain areas, but yeah - I did Day 1 last night and it took me about half as much time as my at-home workouts have been taking. Which totally rocks, because I don't want to spend 5 hours in the gym every week.

So, you ask, what did I do?

I did deadlifts, shoulder press, chin ups, and farmer walks. Since I haven't been to the gym to lift heavy in well over 5 years, I took it somewhat easy and just focused on form. I wasn't sure about deadlift weight because I've never done them with a barbell, only as 1-legged deads with dumbbells. I will definitely go heavier next time after I get a form check by one of the trainers there.

Another reason I went light on the deads is that I ended up doing some unplanned cardio and stair work yesterday for work - I ended up delivering about 300 flyers to homes in my neighbourhood. Over 150 of those were townhomes, each with 4 steps up to the mailbox. Plus, all the stairs at each of the get my point. My lower back was killing me by the time I got done and went to work. Today it's fine, though, so I'm happy.

I'm considering going to the gym tonight to do some running on the treadmill to
a) burn some extra fat and
b) start training the 5km run I signed up for - it happens at the end of May and I haven't run farther than 2km in a very, very long time. These days I mostly do sprints or walk to get my cardio. So I have a lot of work to do, methinks.

Pledges raised for the race go to buy equipment for the new local hospital. If any of my friends want to donate, I can take money by cheque, PayPal, cash, or email money transfer. Please leave a message with your contact details so I can get in touch with you. I might set up a little widget in the sidebar to make it easy to donate through paypal - is that best?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Progress and Strength

There are several ways to measure progress: by physical measurements, by photo/how you look in the mirror, and by strength measurement. I do all three.

I weigh myself every day. I don't beat myself up if I'm up a pound, I just wonder what could have caused it, ask myself if my eating was out of control in the last few days, and change my plans accordingly. For the last few weeks, I've been stuck in a plateau. I've only got about 10 pounds to lose before I hit the top end of my goal weight (and can only reasonably lose up to AT MOST another 10 pounds after that).

In addition to weighing, I use a fabric measuring tape to gauge fat loss once a week. Sometimes you won't see any movement on the scale but will see a smaller number on the tape. That happened to me for three weeks - I lost a total of 1.5 inches off my waist in that time, but the scale stayed the same. Obviously, I was building muscle at the same time as losing fat. Bonus.

Another way to gauge progress and strength is how you look in the mirror. I take progress photos once every 4 weeks or so, starting with a "before" photo. Last night I took a photo of my back to see if there's any definition showing yet. There isn't much, but there's definitely a lot of muscle under there. I just need to continue with the cut and I'll be totally ripped. I see small lats, big shoulders, and some decent upper back muscles under there. I'm excited to keep going now that I know that's there! (photo quality sucks, sorry)

The final way to measure strength gains is, obviously, how you're doing in the gym. I was finally able to complete an unassisted chinup the other night, after 3-4 months of progression training. And that was after 2 weeks of no training at all! My body needed the rest, now I suspect that I'll continue to make personal records in the strength department. Not bad - how many women can lift 150 pounds like that? Very few, aside from serious weight trainers like the women in my FB groups like LeanYou (co-ed) and Fierce Fit Fearless (women only). I can't wait until I get my gym membership set up so I can go and start lifting REALLY heavy things.

By the way, I added a 24-hr fast into my routine on Thursday to see if it would bump me past this plateau I've been at for 2 weeks, and I'm already down 2 pounds. Will keep on doing one 24-hr fast per week and see what happens.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tikka Masala Crockpot Beef with Coconut Cauliflower

I've been buying one-pound packages of ground beef and stewing beef from pastured, grass-fed cows from a local health store. I'm getting tired of having stew or shredded beef (even though it's delicious) twice a week. So I decided to try a new recipe! I did a Google search of "paleo coconut beef" and came up with this recipe over at FastPaleo, a fabulous Paleo recipe sharing site. As usual, I changed the recipe in minor ways to suit my needs and this is what resulted:

It was good. A little on the spicy side, and I found the taste slightly bitter, so I actually needed to add some coconut sweetener and salt to it to balance out the flavours. Next time I will reduce the spices even further (those changes are reflected in the recipe below) and maybe use some honey. This will serve two adults and a pre-school kid and leave some leftovers for someone's lunch. Note: "T" is my short-form for "tablespoon" and "t" is my short-form for "teaspoon." Don't mix them up. Ha.

1 lb grass-fed, pastured stewing beef chunks
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 each of red, yellow, and orange sweet peppers, chopped
1/2 package of grape tomatoes, left whole (you could use 1/2 can of stewed tomatoes if you have them)
2 T homemade ketchup (I didn't have tomato paste, you can use that instead)
1/2 T garam masala
1 t each ginger and garlic powder
1/2 t each cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes OR cayenne pepper (reduce if you don't like spicy)
1/4 t each salt and coriander
1 T lemon or lime juice
1 T unsweetened dried coconut
1 T coco sweet OR honey OR xylitol (use Stevia to taste, I have no idea how much you'd need)

For the Coconut Cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup of coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Put the beef into your slow cooker and add the onions, coconut milk, and all the spices. Stir to mix everything together and then cover and put on low for 4 hours. About one hour before you plan to serve the meal, add the peppers, stir, and cover again. Fifteen minutes before dinner time, cut up an entire head of cauliflower and steam it until it is still slightly firm. Mash to desired consistency (I leave it a bit chunky) and stir in half a cup or so of coconut milk, some salt, and some pepper to taste. Serve the Tikka Masala Beef over top of the coconut rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt

Dairy is one of those things that you're either fine with, or you can't tolerate it. Of course, you could be totally fine with it and choose not to eat/drink dairy, like me right now, because you're on a cut. But that's another story. There is also argument in the Paleo/Primal camp about whether dairy is acceptable or not. I say, if it doesn't bother you, it should be fine. Obviously, if you have an autoimmune disorder, avoid dairy. Otherwise, go nuts, especially if you have access to raw dairy.

There are two types of dairy: commercial processed dairy, and raw dairy. There is no comparison. Commercial dairy products come from a factory where the milk was separated from the cream after being pasteurized (boiled) to kill all the pathogens that result when cows are crammed into close quarters, fed species-inappropriate food, and drugged to make them produce more and more milk. Organic milk is only slightly better, since the cows do get "access" to outdoor pastures, but there's no actual guarantee of how much they get outside or the quality of the feed they receive.

Raw milk from pastured cows is unpasteurized, clean, delicious, and full of beneficial enzymes and microbes that help heal your gut and protect the milk against bad bacteria. These good bacteria are what give you yogurt, sour cream, and clabber when they multiply. It causes your milk to sour instead of spoil. You can drink milk that's gone sour if it's raw. You would become very ill if you drank spoiled milk - milk spoils when the bad bacteria overrun the good bacteria (or when the good bacteria has been killed by pasteurization and then the milk is contaminated with a bad bacteria).

Raw milk yogurt is raw milk that has been innoculated/bacterially fermented/cultured with the bacteria that create yogurt - generally Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus. These bacteria work by fermenting the lactose in the milk and producing lactic acid. This produces a tangy, firm milk product that is typically better tolerated by lactose-intolerant people (because the lactose has been changed into something else). When you use raw milk to make yogurt, you get the added benefit of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the lactose for you. Lactose-intolerant people can generally drink raw milk where they can't drink commercial, pasteurized milk. (This is not a guarantee, some lactose-intolerant people cannot tolerate raw milk, either.)

Once you have made yogurt, you'll find there are many uses for it. Typically, raw milk yogurt has a thinner, runnier consistency than store-bought yogurt, because store-bought usually has pectin added to make it artificially thicker and creamier. You can thicken homemade yogurt by straining it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. This makes the yogurt a bit tangier, too. Keep the whey, because you can use it in a variety of things. Whey will keep in a clean glass jar in the fridge for up to six weeks. Use the whey in lacto-fermented products like enzyme-rich mayo, homemade ketchup, fermented cabbage (kimchi), pickles, and other great-for-you foods.

If you strain all the whey off, you will make a cream cheese-like product called "labneh." First, salt the yogurt lightly and then strain it overnight or for up to 24 hours in the fridge. The end result is a thick, creamy, spreadable (and very tangy) product. You can add herbs, fruit, or even canned salmon to this for a spread for crackers (this would be good on almond crackers!) or mix it into a dip for vegetables.

So, you ask, how do you make homemade yogurt? Well, it's ridiculously easy - and you don't need a yogurt maker. All you need is 1L of raw milk (you can use store milk I'm sure, I've never tried), a large saucepan, a candy thermometer, a whisk, a clean jar, and 1/4 cup of live-culture yogurt. You will need a stove and an oven with a working oven light, too. That's where the magic happens. Here's what you do:

1) Turn on your oven to its lowest temperature, generally 150F.

2) Pour your milk (minus 1/4 cup) into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the side of your pot so you can monitor the temperature - you don't want it to get hotter than 115F. This would kill the good bacteria and pasteurize your milk. Not good. As it's heating, gently whisk it once in a while to make sure it's heating evenly.

3) As your milk heats, scoop 1/4 cup of yogurt into a measuring cup. This is what you'll use to culture your milk into yogurt. You can use store-bought yogurt for this, just make sure it's a plain, unsweetened, unflavoured yogurt with live bacteria. I use Astro plain. (The one with the red label.)

4) As soon your milk heats to about 110F - and definitely no hotter than 115F, remove it from the heat and gently whisk in the yogurt. Immediately pour it into the clean jar.

5) Turn OFF your oven and turn ON the oven light.

6) Place the open jar into the oven on the middle shelf and quickly close the door. Leave the light on -the light maintains the oven at a temperature perfect for culturing yogurt.

7)  Leave the yogurt in there for about 10 hours. You can check after 8 hours but I've found the best results after about 10. The yogurt should be thick and creamy, and have a tangy flavour.

8) Take the yogurt out of the oven, turn off the light, and screw the lid on. Put the yogurt into the fridge immediately to cool.

9) Eat it as is, strain off some of the whey to make it into a "Greek-syle" thicker yogurt, or strain all the whey off to make labneh. You can eat your yogurt plain, or stir in honey, or even some chopped up fruit. Here I've added some frozen wild blueberries for my daughter:

The yogurt will keep in your fridge up to two weeks or so. I usually heat the milk around 1030 PM, then put it into the oven overnight. When I get up around 730 AM I take it out, check the consistency, and throw it into the fridge for a few hours.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dessert Idea

If you're craving something sweet, but want to stick to low-carb Paleo/anti-inflammatory foods, then what I had for dessert tonight will be perfect. I took 1 cup of sliced strawberries, half a cup of coconut milk, and 1.5 tablespoons of organic dark chocolate-covered cacao nibs. Delicious! It's not too sweet, with some good fats in there to provide lasting satiety.

**I used a new brand of coconut milk since there was no Aroy-D at the market I was at - and I regret it. Full of crap, and it was separated in the can and looked chunky on the dessert. But it tasted fine, I guess. I am going to try to see if I can order a case of Aroy-D. It has only coconut and water, no preservatives, no Polysorbate-80, nothing. It's fabulous. It comes in cans and cartons from the online store. I just need to find out if they'll ship to Canada.

Approximate nutritional info:
289 calories
22 g fat
22 g carbs
3 g proteins

Even with the (for me) relatively high carb count, my total for the day was only about 35g total. I expect I'll full-fledged into keto again by tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Other Homemade Natural and SAFE Cleaners

As I mentioned briefly in my post about orange oil vinegar, you can make all of the cleaners you ever need to use in your home. I've not purchased a commercial cleaner in over five years, and don't miss that toxic stuff at all. We're all a lot healthier for it, and my wallet has a lot more money in it, too. A jug of vinegar costs under $3, a box of baking soda costs $2, you probably have liquid soap for your dishes, and a bottle of lavender or tea tree oil costs under $10 and will last you a year or more (and you can use it in your laundry, on boo boos, and a host of other things). So for $15, you can make cleaning products that will last you about a year, depending on your usage.

Oops, forgot to put my liquid soap in the photo. Oh well, you know what that looks like!

I use three basic cleaners in my home. One is a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant, one is a window and glass cleaner, and one is a scouring solution.

Multi-purpose Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle 3/4 full with white vinegar. Top with water and 10-15 drops of essential oil. I use lavender in the kitchen (lavender has antibacterial and antifungal properties and smells nice) and eucalyptus or tea tree oil in the bathroom. I keep a spray bottle of this cleaner at hand in the kitchen for spraying down the counters and cutting boards after cutting raw meat. YES, vinegar kills germs. Spray and wipe down, then spray and let it dry. I also keep a bottle in the bathroom for spraying down the taps and cleaning the toilet. 
**Note: do not use vinegar on marble surfaces.

Window and Glass Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle half-full with vinegar, half-full with water, and a couple drops of liquid soap. The soap cuts through the wax left behind by commercial glass cleaners (that "shine" you see is made by wax). Give the bottle a shake before you spray. Use a lint-free cloth or a paper coffee filter to achieve a streak-free shine. Newspaper works too, I hear.

Scouring Solution
Mix baking soda, a squirt of liquid soap, and  bit of water until you get it to a consistency like icing. Use a boat brush and this solution to scour the scum off of your bathtub or baked-on food from your stove top. I use this to remove the soap film from my bathroom sink and to polish my kitchen sink, too. Make this as you need it since it will dry out if you try to store it.

TIP: Contrary to popular belief, adding vinegar to your baking soda does NOT make it more powerful. It makes bubbles, sure - remember your Grade 6 science fair project when you made a volcano? The acid (vinegar) mixes with the base (baking soda) and foams. They neutralize each other. That means you lose all potential germ-killing power. So don't do it. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Natural Orange Cleaner

As a friend of mine said, health isn't all about diet. I've never said that it was, (although if your diet is crap, you'll never be truly healthy) and part of a healthy lifestyle is not exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. There's not much you can do out and about, but you CAN control what kind of cleaners you use in your home.

I've not used a commercial cleaning product in my home for over five years. I use only a few simple ingredients, based on what needs cleaning: vinegar, baking soda, liquid soap, water, and essential oils. Vinegar kills household germs just as readily as toxic cleaners, and isn't harmful to you or the environment. And it's inexpensive!

I ran across someone's Facebook post on how to make orange cleaner and thought I'd try a batch. I just put the orange peels in today to start to infuse the vinegar, so will have to do a follow-up post in a while when it's ready to use. In any case, here's what you do:

1) Take a clean glass jar (I'm using an empty spaghetti sauce jar for this batch) and fill it with clean orange peels. To clean the peels (to remove wax and/or pesticides), scrub the oranges with water and baking soda before you peel them. Easiest way. So far I have two peels in there with some vinegar, I will top up the vinegar and add peels as we eat the oranges.

2) Cover with vinegar, put on the lid, and shake it.

3) Store it in a cool, dark place for two to four weeks. Shake it every few days.

4) Strain out the orange peels and discard the peels (you might be able to compost these, I'm not sure). Pour the orange oil vinegar into a spray container in a ratio of 3:1 (vinegar:water).

5) Use it to clean your counter top, stove top, toilet, sink, etc. Might cause streaking on glass and mirrors; try it and let me know.

You can also use lemon, grapefruit, or lime peels. Don't waste those peels!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Meat Will Kill Me?

The interwebz has been bouncing around different headlines covering that ridiculous viral article that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine - you know the one, where they tell you that red meat consumption causes death and disease? Right.

If you MUST read it, go here. But come right back, ok? I'll wait, and then tell you why that "study" is a complete piece of bullshit, in words even a simpleton could understand.

1) It's based not on a double-blind, controlled trial, but on SURVEYS. From people, who are notorious at lying when it comes to food intake, especially when they're people in the health profession who (supposedly) know what foods are healthy and which ones are not. These surveys also rely on people's memories to be accurate. My husband can't even remember what he ate for lunch two days ago. 'Nuff said, right?

2) They lump hamburgers (as in, fast-food hamburgers) in with unprocessed meat. Yeah, right. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list of a frozen hamburger? Soy, MSG, salt, more MSG, filler, dubious source of beef, and likely more salt. Yeah. Unprocessed. So how can they compare apples to oranges here and say that unprocessed meat is unhealthy, if they're including processed meat in with the unprocessed meat? They can't.

3) They don't look at healthy sources of meat. Like pastured, grass-fed cows, pastured chickens, nitrate-free bacon, etc. They don't consider that most meat consumed is full of antibiotics, steroids, and comes from sick, unhappy animals who never see the sun, let alone eat species-appropriate diets. Of course that shit causes disease! I'm not arguing that. But how do we know that the meat the participants ate was what caused disease, when they're also eating fast food, enormous quantities of grains (as suggested by the FDA, of course), etc? We can't.

There are many more points I could lay out here as to why this "study" is garbage. But I think you get the point, right? If you'd like to read a more in-depth analysis of why it sucks, Mark's Daily Apple has a good one.

I'll just keep eating my grass-fed, pastured beef, m'kay?

Speaking of, this is what I had for dinner:

Salisbury Steak, beets with pastured butter, and cauliflower whipped with more butter. MMMM.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brand New Everything!

Wow! If it's been a day or so since you last visited, you'll notice everything is different: the appearance, the name, the description, the URL...I've had a busy morning! I've taken off all the Google ads, except for the ones embedded in the posts (because I can't figure out how to get rid of them just yet). I don't need the ad revenue, and I think it made everything look messy and annoying. So there you go. I left the Amazon stuff because I really do recommend certain products and I'd love for you to see the products I use and love.

If you know someone who is considering switching to Paleo/Primal or a similar lifestyle, or even someone who just is open to learning about nutrition and fitness, please share this blog link. My goal is to help people THRIVE and enjoy life to the fullest.

If you  have any requests for topics, recipes you would like me to try, or have a question, please feel free to leave a comment.

What do you think about the new design?


Hi everyone!
I know I have a few people who follow this blog in a reader, so you'll have to change your settings soon. I'm going to change the URL to

Change your feeds!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Great Meatball Experiment AKA Liver and Onion Meatballs

I've always hated liver. I don't like the taste, smell, texture, or look of it. I'm not sure if my parents like it or not, but one day I remember coming home from school and all I could smell was liver. My Mother had cooked liver, and then made chili. She tried to hide the liver in the chili. It didn't work. Blech. I think the problem was that she cooked the liver first. She would have been better off to have ground or chopped it it to mix into the ground beef. Ah well. She tried, right?

There are many reasons why everyone should eat liver, especially that from grass fed cows. Liver is a great source of vitamins  A and B, plus essential fatty acids like Arachidonic Acid and DHA. Here is a great article by Chris Masterjohn on the benefits of these nutrients.

I want to like liver, I really do. But since I don't like it alone, I need to try other options, where you mix the liver in with other meats. I'm trying an idea I saw here at The Food Lovers Primal Palate (fabulous site, by the way, go check it out. They have resources, recipes, and lots of other cool stuff). Instead of using their recipe with cinnamon, paprika, and garlic powder, I'm using my stand-by hamburger patty/Salisbury steak seasonings: mustard, salt, pepper, and onion powder. I added chopped onion at the very end, mixed everything together well, and formed into meatballs a bit larger than 1oz each.

Does it look like there is liver mixed in here?

My husband and daughter had spaghetti and meatballs (they're still not 100% Paleo, but they're really close). I had the meatballs as-is, with a huge side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower drenched in pastured butter.

Taste Test Results:

Daughter (almost 4 years old): She ate it up. No complaints.

Husband: rated the meatballs a 4 out of 5, and said you couldn't taste the liver at all.

Me: I'd eat these again. I could totally mix that liver into ground beef for my Salisbury steak recipe and pour the mushroom gravy over it. I could probably add more liver, too.

Now I'm off to look at food processors.

Recipe for people who need that kind of thing:
1 lb pastured ground beef (I'm unsure of the meat/fat ratio, we don't do that in Canada, it's either regular, lean, or extra lean. I figure this is between lean and medium.)
1/4 lb pastured beef liver
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp dry mustard or prepared mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt

Mix that all together and form into meatballs - I got 15. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350F for 25 minutes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I'm still working on the blog name change. Apparently none of my friends wants to leave a comment. Oh well...I guess I'll keep this fab prize to myself. I've been working crazy busy between my two jobs (my "real" job and my writing jobs) and have barely any time to do anything. So I'll get on it asap, I promise.

In the meantime, I've also been thinking about ebooks and photo quality for said ebooks and what I'm going to do about that. I mean, have you seen my photos? They totally suck.

On another note, I'm totally sick. Sore throat, headache, fever, and most recently, a runny/stuffy nose. Awesome. I had terrible carb cravings tonight (mostly pizza) that I managed to resist, but I went way over my planned caloric intake for the day with a bedtime snack of frozen blueberries and raspberries in coconut milk. mmmmm. This is what's left:

Check back soon for a new recipe.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Blog Name

Since this blog is definitely going in the Paleo direction for the most part, I'm considering a blog title change. The URL will remain the same, but the new title should represent health and fitness, with a general Paleo/Primal (grain-free, sugar-free, legume-free, processed foods-free) tone.

I'm also debating making an recipe e-book at the end of this year. I just need to figure out how to take great photos. ;)

So, readers - I need name suggestions. I've had "Paleo Edge" submitted so far. I'm considering "Paleo Health and Fitness." Leave me some ideas in the comments. If I choose your suggested blog name, you'll get something cool.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

One week on Low-Carb Paleo AND Salisbury Steak Recipe

I'm now on day 9 of low-carb paleo....except I can't count last night. I had a friend over and we made a bunch of tequila-and-club-soda-with-lime drinks. They were meant to be margaritas but I totally forgot. Anyway. As usual with alcohol consumption, I kind of strayed from the whole "eat in moderation" rule and ate about 3/4 of a batch of almond crackers with asiago and artichoke dip. Oh well.

For dinner I tried out a new Salisbury Steak recipe. The site is not a Paleo one, but the recipe is low-carb, gluten-free, and Paleo friendly. It does contain dairy, but you could use coconut milk instead of cream in the gravy.

Please excuse the picture, we ate our dinner before I thought to take photos. This is a pic of the leftovers.

It's a fantastic recipe but I did change it a bit. I've found I don't need egg in my ground beef to hold together patties, so I omitted the eggs from the original recipe, and cut the almond flour into 1/4 cup. Here's my altered recipe:

1 lb pastured ground beef
1/4 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1/2 tsp each: black pepper, onion powder, sea salt, prepared yellow mustard (use ground mustard if you have it)

2 cups beef stock
5-7 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp black pepper
dash of salt (depends on if your beef stock has salt in it to start - mine doesn't)
dash of celery salt
2 dashes of wheat-free soy sauce (Bragg's makes some)
1 tbsp cream
1-2 tsp arrowroot flour (used as a thickener instead of flour or cornstarch)
2-3 tablespoons water (to mix with the arrowroot flour)

Start the gravy: place the mushrooms, beef stock, and seasonings into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and see if it needs more salt or pepper. Turn off the heat a few minutes before you want to thicken it. Stir in the cream. Just before serving your meal, mix the arrowroot flour into a small bowl or cup with a couple tablespoons of water and blend with a fork. Pour that into your beef stock/mushroom mixture and mix with fork. If it's not quite thick enough, repeat the process with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon or so of arrowroot flour. (Waiting to allow the gravy to cool a bit will help guarantee your arrowroot starch doesn't break down in heat and fail to set.)

Mix the meat ingredients together and form into 3 or 4 patties. Cook on a baking sheet or baking dish for 25 minutes at 350F. Broil for 2 minutes at the end. Remove to plates and ladle gravy on top.

Serve with a side of mashed/whipped cauliflower and a nice veg - I used sauteed asparagus. MMMM.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Turkey Breakfast Sausages

One thing I miss is pork - not that you could tell from my last three blog posts, right? It's not cut out of my diet due to the whole paleo thing, it's just that I don't make it much because Ben can't eat it. I can't even cook it when he's home, or he'll react to it.

My absolutely favourite pork items (besides bacon) are breakfast sausages, and cheddar smokies...neither of which I am willing to eat anymore. Bacon is even a hard sell for me these days, unless it's nitrate free. Breakfast sausages and smokies are full of disgusting fillers, nitrates, wheat, and a whole lot of other stuff I don't even want to think about. But I digress.

I miss sausage. So I found a couple recipes to make breakfast sausage out of ground turkey, and bought a package of organic ground turkey (not as good as pastured but until they start selling that in the grocery store, I'm stuck). I've always been very dubious of ground turkey, chicken, and pork. My brother makes turkey burgers all the time but the last time I used it I didn't like it, and haven't, since. So this was a total experiment.

I used the recipe from cavemanfood, with a few changes because I didn't have exactly the same spices. But they turned out really well, aside from being kind of dry and needing salt - which was totally my fault because I missed that line in the recipe. I'm not sure if you can buy anything other than "extra lean ground turkey" but if you can, choose one that's not so lean. Or maybe baking these would keep them moist. I don't know. ***edited to add: I made up a double batch and added 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the meat mixture before forming into patties. Made a HUGE difference in texture and moistness.

1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp of each: ground ginger, red hot pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning (or 1/4 tsp ea of basil, sage, and thyme-mine has other stuff in it too but it worked fine)
1 lightly beaten egg

Mix all items together. The original recipe suggests you refrigerate it for an hour to let the flavours meld. I didn't and they turned out great. You'll have to use some kind of oil in the pan so they don't stick. I used a 50-50 mixture of cultured butter and organic olive oil.

Now, if I can find me some pastured pigs and order some ground pork, I'll be making up thousands of these puppies and throwing them in my freezer for when Ben's not home.

In case you're interested, each 120g serving has around 130 cals, 1g carbs, 1.6g fat, and 27g protein. Wowza! Add more fat grams and calories for the type of oil in which you decide to cook them. For some perspective, I used a .65kg package and got 8 flat little patties out of it. Two of those patties is 120g. This is a fantastic high-protein, low-fat and low-carb meal option!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

I've been really trying to stay away from fruit for the last week, since I'm trying to dial in my carb intake (more specifically, my fructose intake, which goes directly to liver glycogen rather than blood). This, of course, will go back to normal once I hit my goal weight/fat loss target. For now, though, I'm sticking to berries when I absolutely have to have some fruit.

So I was trying to find some inspiration for a sauce for pork when I stumbled across the Paleo Plan website and from there, the Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce recipe. I altered it a bit, cut the amounts in half, and made up a batch. I didn't add honey or any other sweetener, because I figured the blueberries would be sweet enough. I was right. All it needed was a bit of salt to be perfect. My sauce didn't come out looking quite so...saucy, but that's ok. It was still delicious. I used a very small amount of sauce on a large amount of pork for this lunch. Today is supposed to be a workout day (legs) but I'm just not feeling it right now. Maybe tonight I'll do a nice Yoga video to change things up a bit. I trust that one skipped leg workout is not going to throw me off-track.

I had precooked some pork tenderloins in my slow cooker, so all I had to do was spoon this sauce over top for the first meal. Today, I threw some sauce into a small saucepan and laid the remaining tenderloin on top, heated it through, then shredded it up with two forks. I'm telling you, I'm loving the whole shredded-meat thing. Yums. I also had 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/4 cup of fermented (with kefir) cabbage, some grape tomatoes, and some Swiss cheese. I ate a HUGE amount of the pork - over 200g. I'll not be eating now until later tonight, around 8-9pm (it's only noon now), so this meal, which is also my fast breaker, has to last me all day. My total nutritional value work up for this meal: 439 cals, 61.5g protein, 11.75g carbs, 17g fat. Not too shabby.

I must say, this whole Paleo-style eating is really expanding my horizons when it comes to trying out new things. And you know what? I don't miss grains, sugar, potatoes, or processed food one little bit.

As for weight loss, I now have less than 15 pounds to go before I hit my (max) target weight range. I'm getting pretty excited. I know it's not going to happen overnight, but it's happening. And I'll most definitely be at a bikini-ready level of fitness by the summer. Good times!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ginger Apple Pulled Pork

For the last 5 days now (plus today), I've been eating low-carb paleo. As in, under 50g of carbs a day, and none of those are from starchy vegetables. A small amount are from fruit, but not much at all. It's part of an experiment I'm doing after I listened to a podcast by Robb Wolf. If you want to listen to some, there's a list of podcasts in my sidebar. Click on "The Paleolithic Solution w/Robb Wolf" and listen to the very first one he did. He talks about reasonable amounts of carbs and how to lose fat.

Anyway. So that's where I am right now. I've hit my ten pounds lost mark since I went Primal/Paleo at the beginning of January, but I would be much farther ahead if I'd not had a 2-week falling-off-the-wagon incident. Regardless, I am where I am and am moving forward!

So. You want the recipe for my Ginger Apple Pulled Pork, do you? Good for you. You'll love it. Feel free to adjust as you go. Mine was pretty much unsweetened, because I'm keeping that to a minimum. The original recipe from paleOMG calls for honey and garlic, which I omitted. Actually, I didn't totally omit garlic; I did use a pinch of garlic salt. It doesn't seem to affect me nearly so badly as "real" garlic. (For those reading who don't actually know me, my body can't digest garlic.)

I made enough "sauce" to cover about 9oz of pork. I had 2 pork tenderloins that I cooked in my slow cooker on the weekend. I cut off 9oz worth and threw the pork in on top of the finished sauce, heated it up, then shredded the meat with two forks. It worked perfectly. We had it with some Brussels sprouts sautéed in coconut oil. So so so awesome. <3

1 apple, peeled and cored, chopped
2 T chopped onion
1 t olive oil
1/2 c chicken stock (you could use beef stock, or water if you don't have stock)
1-2 t grated fresh ginger (use dried ground ginger if you don't have fresh - 1/2  t should be enough)
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t garlic salt
1/8 t onion powder
pinch black pepper
pinch sea salt

Heat the olive oil and onions in a small saucepan and cook until the onions start to caramelize. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the apples are soft enough to mash with a masher or fork.

Throw the meat on top and stir it around. Heat it through, then shred with a fork.

Shove it in your face.

You could totally multiply this recipe and cook an entire tenderloin in it in the slowcooker, then shred the meat at the very end. I would say to at least double the recipe if you're using a 1-lb tenderloin, and cook it for 8hrs at least on low. If you want a bit more sweetness, go ahead and add 1-2 T of honey or maple syrup when you're putting in all the ingredients.

Nutritional info for the entire meal, which counts 8oz of pork tenderloin and all of the sauce, even though I didn't actually eat all of the sauce:

537 cals
52g protein
25g carbs
27g fat

Please leave a comment if you make this!

Monday, February 27, 2012

No Wonder North Americans Are Fat.

Here's a quote that literally jumped off the page at me while I was reading the Wikipedia article on the Paleo diet:

More than 70% of the total daily energy consumed by all people in the United States comes from foods such as dairy products, cereals, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils and alcohol...


Does that seem anything less than totally ridiculous to anyone other than me? I mean...ok. When I was eating crap, I ate a lot of crap. But never that much. 70 percent??? And when you figure that probably everyone who eats this way is ALSO eating far, far, far too many calories to start with, that's an enormous amount of  crap. That stuff isn't even food. This type of diet translates into obesity, heart disease, infertility, PCOS, stroke, diabetes, and cancers, and probably many other health problems. Those are just the obvious ones.

These days, I'm eating ZERO cereals, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, and alcohol. I eat cheese (raw swiss) once in a while, and I'm not adverse to having a glass of raw milk or putting a bit of cream in my coffee. But that's really practically nothing. Not even one percent of my diet. Not even 0.10 percent!

The only sugar I'm eating now (which is extremely rare, in any case) is honey and maple syrup. And guess what? I'm not really craving it. I'm eating so low carb at the moment that I'm in ketosis as I write this. Go ahead, look it up if you want (click on the word "ketosis," I made it a hyperlink for you).

That's the point. Our bodies were MEANT to be fat burners, not sugar burners. And that's what mine is doing. It's burning the fat right off of my ass. And that's the way I like it.

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, February 24, 2012

Staying on Track

I will be the first to admit that changing your lifestyle - when you've got deeply ingrained bad habits and preferences - is difficult. Expect to have setbacks. Figure out what works best for you; some people do really well on a 80/20 primal or pale/treat or cheat foods. Some have to do 100% primal or paleo, and some fall somewhere in between.

I've tried to have cheat/treat days or even just treat meals. It doesn't work very well for me. I have found that it opens up a can of horrible cravings and failed willpower, which cycles down into eating garbage every day until I have to start all over. I've just recently experienced this. Today is my second day on track after about two weeks off the wagon. In that two weeks, I ate inordinate amounts of pizza, some ice cream, and drank beer and vodka. Although that doesn't seem like a lot compared to most people's Standard American Diet, it's not really conducive to the lifestyle I want to explore - AND it stopped my weight loss process. I actually gained a couple of pounds back from water retention (caused by grains/excess carb consumption).

So, I'm back on track. I'm seriously going to work on staying under 50g carbs on rest days and under 100g on training days. It's actually what Gemma (personal trainer) recommended, but I wasn't really being serious about it. Now I'm going to buckle down and JUST DO IT. Once I'm at my goal weight (in about 20 pounds or so), I'll obviously consider adjusting my intake and ratios, but for now, ketogenic is what's going to get me there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pancake Tuesday!

Just because I eat paleo/primal doesn't mean I can't have pancakes! Today is Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Tuesday and so I made a special PWO-meal. I made two versions of pancakes, one for me and my daughter, and one for my husband (who doesn't like my version). My version is made from almond butter, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and cinnamon. I used maple syrup on top, so I didn't include the honey from the recipe. I made a half batch, which resulted in 10 2-inch pancakes.

I also enjoyed some breakfast sausages (wheat, nitrate, and sugar-free) and some frozen raspberries...and some maple syrup, as I said. Delicious! Here's a pic of what's left of my lunch (forgot about taking a pic until halfway through)...

This is a fairly high-cal meal due to the fatty sausages and the almond butter, but that's ok. It's a workout day! I'll have to make sure I get lots of protein later, since this meal was kind of low. Macros: 1090 cals, 71g fat, 70g carbs, 46g protein.

For my husband's pancakes, I used 1/4 cup almond flour, 1 tbsp coconut flour, an egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and some cinnamon. They were much more like regular pancakes. The almond butter ones are not.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Primal Macaroons

Today I made a batch of plain salted almond crackers, and figured I might as well use up some of the shredded unsweetened coconut in my cupboard. Originally I bought it to make coconut butter, but I killed the attachment on my immersion blender. :(

Not sure where I got the recipe, but here it is:
2 egg whites
1 cup coconut flakes
1/16 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract (real)
pinch salt
cinnamon (optional)

Mix egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in coconut and cinnamon. Drop onto parchment lined paper in rounded teaspoons and bake at 325F for 12-15 min. Check at 12 min, do not overbake.

Mine were a little brown when I checked at 14 minutes, hence the caveat about checking at 12 minutes. They taste fine though!

Nutritional info (for 4 macaroons if you get 28 out of the batch like I did):
100 cals
8g fat
4.8g carbs
2g protein

Monday, February 13, 2012

Omelette Muffins

I'm constantly on the lookout for easy, inexpensive yet TASTY primal/paleo snacks for me and my family. Tonight I was browsing through an ebook I got from Mark's Daily Apple - called "The Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook." It's absolutely chock-full of delicious primal recipes. I wish I had a fully-stocked kitchen and freezer right now so I could make all of the dishes!

One of the recipes that caught my eye is the "Omelet Muffins" on page 11, submitted by Amy Schoenherr. I took the basic instructions (6 eggs, filling you want, bake at 350F for 18-21 min) and created what I'm sure will be a hit. I know I find them pretty darned tasty! Now hopefully I can convince my snack-picky husband to try them!

For my muffins, I stirred in 1/4 cup of chopped roasted chicken breast; about 1/4 cup of mild chunky salsa (sugar free); and some leftover sauteed red, yellow, and orange pepper rings in to a half dozen eggs. This made 8 muffins. Here's an actual recipe for people who need that kind of thing:

6 eggs beaten
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup chopped red/yellow/orange sweet peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup chopped chicken breast
some freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients together and then spoon or ladle into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350F for 18-21 min or until knife inserted comes out almost clean (will continue to cook for another couple minutes, do not overcook). Cool slightly and enjoy! Eat while warm. Store leftovers in fridge. I assume you could freeze these, too.

I admit that I didn't wait quite long enough for them to cool down to the point where I could peel the lining paper off them without sticking, but they were awesome, nevertheless. I'll definitely be making these in the future. I'm envisioning Greek versions with chicken, feta, tomato, and kalamata olives chopped in; Western with bacon or ham, onion, and green pepper; and a deluxe version with bacon, mushrooms, and green pepper. MMMMMM!

I entered the info into Sparkpeople and figured out the nutritional info for you all in case you bother with that stuff. I used XL eggs so make sure you do, too.

Calories in each muffin: 100
7.9g fat
1.2g carbs
6.3g protein

How awesome is that!?!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Four Week Progress

Last Friday (I know, I'm a week late) was our four-week check-in to gauge our progress on the Brutal Beauty Bootcamp program. I'm not going to show all of the pictures, because I'd rather unveil the totally drastic changes at the end of 12 weeks. Instead, I'll show you a photo of what appears to be the most dramatic change that you would actually notice if you saw me on the street. And no, I'm not talking about the haircut. ;)

Taken 8Jan12

Taken 5Feb12

 I can't believe how puffy and fat my face was before! Please ignore the horrible hair, red nose and lack of makeup, too. This was taken mid-cold and my nose had been running like a faucet all day.

Tally to date
Pounds lost: 8.5
Total Inches Lost (measured at neck, bust, underbust, upper right arm, natural waist, at navel, hips, right thigh, and right calf): 9.25

It appears that the initial fat loss has occurred from around my internal organs and off my face. The rest of me looks slightly smaller but nothing so dramatic as my face. I've lost two inches off my waist, but again, more likely from the fat disappearing from my abdominal cavity, not subcutaneous fat. That's the way it works with me. In a couple weeks, once all the extra organ fat has been burned off, the more visible layer will start to go, too.

So - how do I feel? I'm kind of hungry once in a while, but that's due more to poor food choices than anything, I think. On rest days I really need to be mindful of where my calories are coming from. And I also need to stop buying pizza from the shop next door to my new work.  It's going to sabotage all the good work I've done thus far. At least I've been able to resist all those fabulous smelling bagels and donuts at the Tim Horton's that is on the other side of my branch. Sigh.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week 2 Day 5 of BBB

It's late Friday evening, closing in on the end of the second week of Brutal Beauty Bootcamp. I'm pretty pleased with how things are going, notwithstanding that stupid piece of junk in my bathroom that calls itself a scale. Grr!

Ok, ok. I understand that it's a bad thing (supposedly) to weigh yourself every day. I understand that sometimes you can see the scale not move (or even go up!) yet still lose inches. I get it. I really do. But. I weigh myself every day. It's just a thing I do. And it's not because I want to punish myself about what I ate yesterday, or didn't's because, well...I kind of look at this like an experiment.

For example: I've noticed a trend over the last two weeks. The day after a training day, my weight is always up. It seems that the more carbs I eat, the more my weight goes up. It's a positive correlation. My calories are on-target, my protein is nice and high, I'm eating REALLY CLEAN...there's no other reason why I could be gaining weight. So, it must be water.

Last week, when I first noticed it, that weight (plus some) disappeared by the morning of the next training day. Today, I was up a pound from three days ago (the morning of my first workout day this week, the furthest I can get from a carb re-feed).

Last night, I got curious. I can't really tell much by my waistband if I'm losing any fat from the belly. I see some change in my face and neck, but I haven't measured my neck (hmm should do that, now that I think of it). So I measured myself. I was pleasantly surprised. In total, since I last measured myself at the end of December, I've lost an inch off my waist, an inch off my thigh, 3/4 of an inch off my upper arm, and an inch off my bust measurement. Wow. Not bad for - essentially - two weeks of serious bootcamp and one week of half-assed somewhat Paleo eating and a couple workouts!

I'm pretty pleased. I think I'll keep this up!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

End of Week One of BBB

It's Sunday evening, which marks the 7th day of Brutal Beauty Bootcamp. I've completed all three training workouts now - a three-day split, as per my preference. I'm feeling pretty good.

I worked back and biceps on Tuesday, legs on Thursday, and chest/shoulders/triceps on Saturday. I did not get a chance to do sprints, mostly because my legs and arse are so damned sore from Thursday's workout! The crappy snowy weather doesn't help, either. I've asked Gemma for some ideas for some in-house sprint workouts.

I've been within calories for the week - 1200 on rest days, 1500 on training days (plus or minus 200 on a couple days, it all evened out in the end, so I'm all good). I'm working at a deficit because I'm cutting. I'm not aiming to gain a lot of muscle, because you can't bulk and cut at the same time - science doesn't work like that, yo. In any case, I'm aiming to improve my protein intake in the next two weeks to keep it over 100g a day. I'm also going to try to keep my fat below 50g on training days, and carbs below 50 on rest days. The carbs restriction is part of my plan, but the limit on fat grams is my idea. If I lower my fat intake, that'll leave me more room for protein whilst staying within my macros.

So - how am I feeling about the restricted calories? I'm doing pretty well, all things considered. I get occasional cravings, mostly for sweet stuff. Or potato chips. Or bread. But really - it's all the same, right? Carbs = sugar. So I bought some red seedless grapes and froze them, I'll enjoy them on training days. Sweet and crunchy! I also made almond flour crackers, but they're wildly addictive. I might need to be careful with those! Here's a pic of one:
They were super simple to make. 1 cup almond flour, 1 egg white, and a pinch of salt. I sprinkled a bit of salt on top before I put them in the oven. I'll post the recipe later.

I actually seem to feel fuller on rest days, likely because of the higher fat and lower carbs. Did you know that carbs actually activate your hunger pangs? Ridiculous. I'm reading Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet and it's fully of cool geeky science stuff about food and the human body. It's written in a manner that non-geeks will enjoy (or you can skip those parts) as much as people like me (ok, I'm totally a geek when it comes to nutrition and stuff).

I'm losing weight, too. On Friday, I was down 3.5 pounds since my "before' weigh-in. I had actually dropped down 4 pounds but it went up half a pound Friday, probably because my legs sucked water in to repair the damage I caused them on Thursday. Yowza! It will be interesting to see if these incredible losses continue into  the second week.

I'm really enjoying the interaction and support from the other BBB participants and Gemma, the personal trainer in charge of us all. She gave me some tips and suggestions on Friday during my FB Chat check-in.

Are you wondering what a typical meal looks like on a rest day? Here's a photo of my dinner from tonight:
That yellowish/cream blob that looks like mashed potatoes is actually an equal mix of rutabaga and cauliflower with butter and pepper. I love it - it's probably my most favourite side veg! The beef patty is made from pastured beef, a splash of ketchup, and some mustard. It wasn't quite 5oz after I cooked, it, so the calories are probably counted a bit high here. Oh well. Here's a cut and paste from for this meal (beside the items, the first number is fat grams, the second number is carbs, third numbers is protein, and last number is calories):

1 baby carrot, sliced:  0   1.32   0.33   5
¼ C broccoli              0.10  1.73  0.57  8
1 T butter   11.52  0.01  0.12  102
1/3 C cauliflower   1.41  1.72  0.76  21
5 oz ground beef    21.26  0  26.35  305
1/3 T ketchup  0.02  1.24  0.09  5
½ C sliced mushrooms 0.09  1.79  0.29  8
1/3 C rutabaga  0.09  3.76  0.55  17

34.61g fat   
12.72g carbs   
30.14g protein   
479 calories

I am so full, I have no need to eat anything more tonight, so I'll be a little under my cals for the day, which is fine (only by about 65, so nothing serious). I'm boiling water for a tea right now, and will drink a couple more glasses of water before bed.
So - there you have it! One full week done, 11 to go!

Stay tuned for that almond flour cracker recipe (with directions)!