Bacon Herb Paleo Crackers

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Thanks to Neal for this paleo-friendly cracker recipe adapted from Multiply Delicious!

Neal’s comments: “I made a really simple paleo cracker recipe today after doing the CrossFit Total. Super easy and I think these bad boys will help me during my snack blocks (for scooping guacamole, tuna salad, etc). Each recipe makes enough to pack for meals/snacks during the work week when I need lots of prep to make foods easy to eat at the office.”

My only question – why leave out the yolk? I guess I’ll have to try it and find out!

Ingredients
2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons herbs (rosemary, dill, chives – whatever you like)
2 tablespoons water
1 egg white
4 teaspoons bacon fat (melted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the water, egg white, and melted bacon fat. Thoroughly mix the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until dough is stiff, or mix in the food processor until you have a dough ball. Add a bit more water or fat as needed.
  3. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to an even thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Slide onto a baking sheet pan and remove the top piece of parchment. Trim off the rough edges with a pizza cutter or knife, then cut cracker-size squares.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes then turn off the oven and leave the crackers in for another 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven, cool, and dip!

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2nd Paleo Challenge Meeting Notes plus Crispy Nuts & Seeds

The general consensus was that people had been feeling tired earlier in the week but now energy was bouncing back. We discussed strategies for hunger, because this increased for everyone.

Hunger

  • Check out the last meeting notes, if you missed the tips there.
  • Try Niki’s super smart step #1 when she’s hungry – drink some water to make sure it’s not just thirst.
  • She also shared one of her favorite snacks – Plantain chips and guacamole. You can buy plantain chips at Trader Joes or Whole Foods – just check the ingredients to make sure there’s no sugar added.
  • Andy shared that he was having good luck curbing hunger with nuts and seeds, which inspired today’s recipe.

We also chatted about breakfast ideas: eggs whipped and baked in a dish, vegetable smoothies and the infamous bulletproof coffee (of which I am personally a big fan). If you’re interested, here’s a couple links:

Crispy Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great snacks with a few exceptions: 1) Nutrients that block digestion and absorption, 2) A propensity to grow mold when stored, 3) Prepared nuts often have industrial seed oils and other additives that are definitely not health supportive.

That last one is easy to avoid, and for the second – your best option is to buy raw nuts and seeds in sealed containers instead of in bulk.

Dealing with the first issue takes just a little time, and you can make large batches to last quite while. The process in short: soak to initiate sprouting, then dry until crisp. If you have any digestive issues, or problems tolerating nuts and seeds, be sure to give this a try.

nuts

Soak:
Grab a large bowl
Toss in 4 cups nuts or seeds
Add 2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sea salt
Cover with water
Cover and let sit for 7 hours or over night

Dry:
Strain water off and spread nuts/seeds onto a baking sheet or pan
Place in a warm oven (under 150 degrees – a gas oven with the pilot on may even do the trick) for 12-24 hours, mixing occasionally, until completely dry and crisp
If you have a dehydrator, this works better than an oven, but isn’t at all necessary.

Store:
In an air-tight container in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Note: Cashews aren’t really raw, they’ve already been heated, so if you soak them too long they get yucky. So when you’re making cashews do everything the same except soak for only 6 hours and dry at 200-225 degrees.

2nd Note: The first place I discovered this recipe was in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She’s not exactly paleo-friendly, with her strong emphasis on grains, but her book is a wealth of essential information on meats, fats and other paleo foods.

Paleo Challenge 1st Meeting Notes

Paleo Challenge meeting #2 is tonight at 6:30pm – hope to see you there!

Here’s what you missed if you didn’t make it last time…

To kick off, I handed out the guides and then shared my personal story of having given up nutritional counseling because my supposedly healthy diet wasn’t actually making me healthy. Now after a year and a half of paleo eating, I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. So I started back in nutrition work by facilitating individuals in going paleo and saw impressive changes. This is my first time working with a whole group like this and I’m super excited!

Then nobody fell for my trick of asking people to raise their hands if they thought peanuts were a nut, so I shared my favorite analogy for why to try paleo and how to think about it when you do:

Lost in the Woods
When you’re lost in the woods, the first thing you want to try and do is get back to your last known location. The paleo template is our last known location of health and vitality. Archeological records indicate that as soon a humans started farming, health started to decline. Now it isn’t actually possible to return to the diet of our ancestors because their diets were rich in wild foods that we simply can’t access. That said, the paleo template is our best modern approximation of that last known location of health.

Q&A

How can you say our ancestors were healthy, didn’t they just die earlier?
My understanding is – if you take 10 hunter-gatherer babies, 3 of them will die as infants from infection disease, 2 will die as children from exposure to the elements, and 2 more will die as teenagers from warfare. So over all their lifespan was much shorter with only 3 out of every 10 babies making it to adulthood, but those adults had a life span comparable to ours (minus the degenerative diseases and general falling apart that we like to accept as part and parcel for aging.)

When I did the challenge last year my energy dropped and I was hungry all the time, even though other things felt much better – how can I avoid this?

  1. Are you eating enough? If your total intake has dropped significantly, you’re going to feel tired.
  2. Are you eating enough fat. Non-startchy veggies dressed with healthy fats are a great way to increase your fat intake while also adding more bulk that also increases satiety.
  3. Maybe you need more starchy veggies to help you transition into effectively burning fat for fuel – try adding more sweet potatoes and squashes, especially in the evenings after workouts.
  4. Maybe you’re still doing too many carbs – if you’re sensitive to them they can make you perpetually hungry. Try a day or two on less than 50g of carbs and see how it feels.
  5. If you keep a diet diary (there’s a simple example in the back of the guide) we can go over it together and I can give you ideas based on your specific situation.

Eating for Workouts – when and what is best for building muscle?
It really depends on who you are, how you’re working out, what your goals are, and who you ask. If I were to sum up all I’ve encountered on this it would be:

  • Eat soon after your workout, possibly as soon as within 15 minutes
  • Include some protein and some fat
  • Including carbs is a point of contention, and depends on what you’re trying to achieve

I also did a bit more poking around after and found this old but interesting article from Robb Wolf on the topic and this list of non-powdered post-workout options from his nutritionist.

George had an entirely different perspective on this than me given that his background is in performance and mine is in health, so be sure to ask him for his insight.

Off-topic side note: I also discovered these neat guides for trouble shooting.

Are Protein Powders and Dairy Paleo?
Again, it depends. This time on why you’re going paleo and whether or not they work for you. For dairy, many people are sensitive to it without knowing, and the best way to find out if you’re one of those folks is to eliminate it for the challenge and then test it. If you have sinus, digestive or skin issues, I highly recommend you do this.

As for whey, again it depends on how it works for you. There is a ton of really crappy whey out there, so do your research and get grass-fed and low or no heat processed (for example, the stuff at the gym). But even with all that, some people are just sensitive to specific ones. A whey that works for me might now work for you. As with everything in this challenge, the best way to know how it’s affecting you is to take it out and then put it back in.

So finishing the 30-day challenge with a free-for-all is a bad idea?
Here’s the deal, by the end of 30 days you have created an opportunity for yourself to learn from experience how the foods you took out are affecting you. But the only way to do this is to re-introduce the foods systematically, one-at-a-time, and track the effects. I’ll share more later about the specifics

We ended by sharing stories of success, both personal and by association. Our last year’s victor told us how his sense of taste increased dramatically and there were several stories of relative loosing significant weight and seeing impressive improvements with symptoms and labs.

So that’s what you missed! Hopefully we’ll see you tonight!

Protein Bites

HWCF members and Paleo Challengers Katy and Sarah sent over this yummy looking snack recipe today which they modified from myvega.

Since the word protein is in the title, I ran it through the recipe calculator over at myfitnesspal and, just fyi, one bite contains 4g protein, 6g carbs, and 8g fat – without any of the optional ingredients. One thing I’d add is if you need the sweet, raw honey is another option.

When I try it I’m going to see how it works to roll them in shredded coconut.

Bites

Ingredients (Makes 12 Bites)

½ cup almond butter

½ cup ground chia seeds (or flax seeds)

½ tsp vanilla

Optional: agave nectar to taste; unsweetened cocoa powder to taste

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and roll into balls. If the mixture feels too dry, add a teaspoon of water and adjust until you reach a rollable dough-like consistency. Store balls in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer for up to two weeks

Butternut Squash Soup

Big thanks to my friends Lynette and Anthony over at PaleoHabits for permission to post this recipe. They’re a couple of local Paleo aficionados who I met through the Paleo Chicago Meetup Group.

This is a delicious way to get your post-workout carbs and soup really hits the spot for this weather. If you’re avoiding butter for this challenge, feel free to use 1/4 cup of ghee or coconut oil. And if you have an immersion blender things get even easier!

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1″ pieces
1 onion
1/2 stick organic butter
24 oz. beef stock (can use chicken broth)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Parsley (optional)

Instructions:

1. Cut onion into eighths (does not have to be chopped into small pieces since will be blended later) & caramelize in pan with butter for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Add butternut squash, beef broth, & all seasoning into pot, bring mixture to a boil & then lower heat & simmer for approximately 20 minutes until all squash pieces soften.
3. Pour all contents into a blender to puree.
4. Serve with a few pieces of parley on top.

German-Style Simmered Spinach

Big thanks to Russ over at The Domestic Man for permission to share this recipe here! His site is packed to the gills with kitchen inspiration, and his cookbook, The Ancestral Table, is due for release tomorrow, so check it out!

Who doesn’t love spinach? Besides kids, I mean. Actually, funny story, kids are more apt to eat vegetables if they watch Popeye. Personally, I despised it growing up, but now I love spinach in all forms – raw, blanched, or simmered (as in this recipe); it has a mild and unique taste with each preparation.

This recipe is modeled after the German dish Rahmspinat (“creamed spinach”), and it mostly true to the original except for the fact that this particular recipe is dairy-free. So I guess the more appropriate term for this dish would be Spinat. If you’d like to prepare it more true to the original dish, I’ve added instructions below!

serves four

20oz fresh spinach (or two pkgs frozen spinach)

4oz bacon, chopped (3-4 slices)

1 yellow onion, blended

2 cloves garlic, blended w/ onion

1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, ground nutmeg

approx 1 tbsp water or chicken broth (as needed)

1/4 cup cream (optional)

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Your first step is to blanch the spinach. Drop it in boiling water for about 15-20 seconds, then fish it out once it looks softened. Drain and rinse with cold water, then gently squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the little green glob.

Chop your squeezed spinach into 1″ chunks and set aside.

In a skillet, cook the bacon on med/low heat.

Don’t drain the bacon grease as it cooks – we’re going to use it.

Add the blended onion and garlic, stirring everything together.

Add in the salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg, and simmer on med/low heat for about six minutes to sweat some of the onion’s sharp taste out of the dish.

After six minutes it should look much drier and more like a paste.

Stir in the spinach. Add a little water or chicken stock if it looks too dry, maybe 1 tbsp or so. If you are making creamed spinach, this is the time to add 1/4 cup cream. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the spinach should have darkened and softened a little more. Serve immediately, garnished with boiled egg. This dish is often served with boiled potatoes as well. I made this dish while visiting my friends over at Virginia is for Hunter Gatherers, as an accompaniment to their fantastic Hasenpfeffer recipe.

Paleo Resources Online

Explore paleo-land to your heart’s content…

RECIPES

 

MEAL PLANS

 

NEVER ENDING EXPERT ADVISE

VIDEOS

FREE GUIDES

*may require you to hand over your email address

 

VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY

*not necessarily paleo-friendly, but can still be useful

If your personal favorites aren’t listed here, add them in the comments!

Meet Your Nutrition Coach

Shannon Sullivan
Nutrition Coach

“I don’t work out” was self-defining before sheer curiosity and affinity for people who go all out brought Shannon to HWCF in April of 2014. ‘Not working out’ originally meant skiing, rock climbing and mountain biking, including her first coaching job as a ski and snowboard instructor and divisional snowboard clinic leader. But a decade and a half of city living took it’s toll and none of her urban fitness forays stuck. The CrossFit paradigm was an immediate “Yes” for Shannon, and the enthusiasm and support of the community felt like home. Five months later she was cranking out burpees at the CrossFit Level 1.

CrossFit was also the perfect compliment to her practice of nutrition — grounded in awareness, personal responsibility, and results. Even before obtaining her masters of science in nutrition from Bastyr University in 2003, Shannon experimented with food to discover for herself what works. After a wide variety of n=1 experiments over 15 years, from Macrobiotic Veganism to the Weston-Price diet and more, the Paleo approach to diet and lifestyle finally brought success.

Shannon sees again and again that proper honing of diet and lifestyle brings healing and enhances performance. The most repeated comment she hears about Paleo is: “I didn’t even realize that was an issue until it was gone!” She believes that, when approached with respect and curiosity, Paleo plus CrossFit can be a one-two punch for “getting older” and bring people to levels of health and fitness that they never considered as possible.

 Activities Outside of CrossFit:
  • Swing Dancing
  • Dog Training
  • Bodywork and learning through physical awareness
  • Mainlining Nutrition Podcasts
Certifications:
  • CrossFit Level 1
  • CrossFit Mobility
  • Professional Chef’s Certificate — The Natural Gourmet Institute
  • M.S. Nutrition — Bastyr University

 

Moroccan Lamb Stew

Moroccan Lamb StewThis recipe uses leg of lamb because it tends to be a bit less “lamby” in flavor, which is good for introducing this meat to your diet when you’re not used to it. If you love the musky flavor of lamb, substitute 3 pounds of ground lamb or lamb stew meat.

Ingredients
4 lb bone in leg of lamb
2 Tbs ghee (or coconut oil if you’re avoiding dairy)
2 onions
1 cup black olives
10 shitake mushrooms
1″ ginger
3 roots fresh tumeric
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs whole cumin
1 Tbs whole corriander
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs fresh savory
2 Sweet potatoes large dice
Zest of one lemon
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup water, bone broth or stock

Prep
Cut the lamb off the bone and cube the meat (save the bone)
Medium dice the onion
Chop the shitakes
Mince the garlic, tumeric, and ginger
Toast the coriander, cumin and cloves in a dry skillet over low heat then grind in a spice grinder.

Directions
In a large pot on medium heat, melt the ghee and saute the onions until translucent.
Add the shitakes, and spices and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the cubed lamb and saute for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add sweet potatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, water and the lamb bone, turn down the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

3 More Reasons to Consider a Paleo Template

Pre-challenge testing starts today, sign up now if you haven’t already!

If the idea of strict paleo seems seems a bit much, consider challenging yourself to eliminate or restrict these 3 toxins:

If all you’ve got to give this Paleo Challenge is avoiding these three foods, you can still get great results. I’ve seen migraine headaches and chronic sinus issues, the kinds that require medication, resolve within 5 days of avoiding these foods, and that’s in addition to immediate weight loss.

Imagine your detoxification system is a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Toxins, substances that cause damage on a cellular level, are poured into the top and are removed through the hole in the bottom. The size of that hole in the bottom determines how much you can pour into the top of the bucket before overflow damage ensues.

Our modern environment teems with a range and volume of toxins far beyond what our ancestors evolved to process. Dietary toxins are, in part, so relevant to health today because the holes in our buckets were shaped and sized by a pristine environment entirely unlike today’s world.

But equally as relevant are the ways in which we’ve taken wild foods and, through agriculture and industry, significantly amplified the input to our buckets. It’s a toxic double-whammey. And the 3 foods listed above are not only toxic, but happen to make up 70% of Americans’ total daily calories.

I’m not going deep into the science of how these foods are harmful to human health here. I just want to give you the essentials to consider whether or not these foods may be diminishing your personal health and performance.

1. Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite that makes up 80% of the protein in the seeds of wheat, barley and rye. But before looking at gluten specifically, let’s look at seeds in general.

Seeds are a plants means for reproduction, and plants protect their seeds from predators with high concentrations of enzyme inhibitors and other toxins that can

  • Damage your gut
  • Bind minerals to prevent absorption
  • Inhibit digestion and absorption of other nutrients, including protein

And that’s all seeds, either gluten-containing or gluten-free. There are things you can do to make these foods more hospitable, such as soaking, sprouting and avoiding the biggest offenders, one of which is gluten (fyi -another big one is soy).

The issue with determining whether or not gluten is a problem food for you, is that because there are so many different ways it can interfere with healthful processes, there is a very wide array of symptoms it can create. Here’s a list of some things that may resolve or improve if you go without gluten:

  • IBS-like symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, changes in stool frequency
  • Difficulty concentrating and memory issues
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain (non-WOD-related :))
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
  • Eczema or skin rash
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Difficulty with weight loss
  • Blood sugar regulation issues – such as shakiness or weakness between meals

An individual’s tolerance for gluten is affected by many things including genetics, diet, gut flora, immune status and more, so a difficulty with gluten is something that can change over time.

2. Industrial Seed Oils

Consumption of oils from the seeds of plants like corn, soybean, cotton, sunflower and safflower has increased dramatically in the past 100 years. For some plants, like soy, we eat 1000 times more. Many of these oils started their careers as industrial lubricants and manufactured products before branching out into the food market with “heart-healthy” branding. They’re in just about all packaged, pre-prepared and processed foods, and if you find a restaurant who doesn’t use them please let me know.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had diets abundant in seafood, grass-fed animal products that gave them about a 1:1 ratio of pro- and anti-inflammatory fatty acids (pro-inflammatory=omega-6, anti-inflammatory=omega-3). This 1:1 ratio gives balance, since inflammation is a necessary process for healing. The problem the ration of theses molecules in the modern human diet is often as much as 20:1, which leads to a massive increase in inflammation.

The type of inflammation I’m talking about here, chronic, low-grade inflammation, can be hard to perceive – especially if it’s your ‘normal’. Elevated omega-6 consumption is associated with all inflammatory diseases including (but not limited to):

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases

The damage caused by these oils is more of the long-term variety, so the effects of removing them from your diet may not be as dramatic as eliminating gluten or sugar. That said, they do increase your risk for many diseases and increase the overall toxic with which you body has to contend.

Plus you have the same potential for damage to your gut and inhibited nutrient absorption as with all seeds, as well as the potential for additional toxic chemicals depending on the methods of extraction.

3. Refined Sugar

Nobody thinks refined sugar is good for you, right? It’s high in calories, but entirely without nutrients and when you eat it you are compelled to eat just as much of everything else and then even more sugar. (As compared to healthy fats or even healthy carbs with which you naturally replace other calories.)

So let’s keep this part short — here’s a few things you might experience after you get over the addiction hump of giving up refined sugar:

  • A more regular appetite and greater satiety
  • More even moods
  • Less intestinal gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
  • Less of anything related to inflammation
  • Weight loss or loss of body fat

To go more in-depth with this, check out Chapter 4 of Your Personal Paleo Code from your Paleo Challenge Upgrade Bundle. To go straight to Chris Kresser’s sources, visit http://chriskresser.com/ppcnotes#ch4.