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Tis the season to be giving!  And eating seasonal flavors, such as LARABAR’s Pumpkin Pie and Snickerdoodle!  That’s why today I’m giving one of you the chance to win a caddy of 16 mixed original LARABAR flavors.

LARABAR’s were one of my go-to’s for a quick and reliable snack when I was doing the Whole30 challenge, and even after when I was trying to keep my eating primarily Paleo.  Obviously I’ve deviated from that, but I still try to eat clean and healthy. What I love about LARABAR’s is that they have minimal ingredients (less than 9), and are basically a mixture of dried fruits and nuts.  Even with being so simple, their flavors are still diverse and delicious!  They’re also great for people with dietary restrictions; LARABAR’s are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, non-GMO, vegan and paleo (just not the one’s with peanuts).

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Some of my favorites include Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte, Chocolate Chip Brownie and Chocolate Coconut Chew (do you see a trend?…I like chocolate).  LARABAR sent me a couple flavors to try that I haven’t seen in the stores (Pumpkin Pie, Snickerdoodle and Cappuccino)…and I can say I’m a fan of all 3!

To enter, just follow: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends midnight Sunday, November 17.

 

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Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary samples of LARABAR. However, as always, all opinions are my own. 

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About a month or so ago, when my dad was visiting, we went to Bier Garden Encinitas where I had a “Sprout Salad” with pea shoots, sunflower sprouts, kelp noodle, watermelon radish, and tangerine sesame dressing.  At the time, I had no idea what kelp noodles were, but when I got my salad, it appeared to have rice/vermicelli-like noodles.  It was a good salad, but it was one of those things where you pictured the dish differently than it arrived, so you didn’t quite remember what you ordered or what ingredients were used.

Fast forward to recently when I started to see kelp noodles pop up all over the internet (e.g. Grok Grub’s Asian Noodle Salad and Blogilates’ Peanut Miso Kelp Noodles).  I learned they were super low-cal and healthy, contrary to my belief they were just another type of asian noodle.

Last week I finally found some at Whole Foods!  And while I looking in the tofu/fermented/kelp noodle case, I also found mixed sea vegetables.  At a loss for what to make for dinner, on the back of the package was a recipe for a salad that I semi-mimicked (see below) with the addition of mixed greens and kelp noodles (since my whole mission was kelp noodles!).

Basically, this is a long rant about kelp noodles and how I developed this salad.  All you really need to know is that it’s easy, filling, bright and refreshing!

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Kelp Noodle Salad
INGREDIENTS:
2 meyer lemons, juiced
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 package of kelp noodles, rinsed
1 bag of mixed greens
1 medium apple, diced
1 small avocado, sliced
1/2 cup mixed sea vegetables, rinsed
DIRECTIONS:

  1.  In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.  Set aside.
  2. Prepare the kelp noodles (rinse) and cut to desired length.
  3. Mix together the kelp noodles, mixed greens, apple, avocado and sea vegetables.
  4. Toss with the lemon/EVOO dressing.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

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Special word of advice from someone who hates reading instructions: make sure you read the directions for any type of foreign (as in unfamiliar) ingredients you might buy.  The mixed sea vegetables were covered in salt and I thought it was a ridiculous amount.  Come to find out the salt is used to preserve the taste and you’re supposed to rinse it all off completely. 

Do you ever cook with unfamiliar ingredients?

You know those words you never take the time to fully read? Well carrageenan is one of those for me. And it doesn’t help either when you’re trying to talk to someone about it, and the only thing you can remember is that it starts with a c, has some r’s and a g. Somehow I magically turned the word into “carcinogen.”  It might as well just be that.

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that is used as a binder or texturizer. It is sometimes used in place of gelatin (an animal by-product) to make a something vegetarian or vegan. I have primarily found carrageenan in dairy products such as almond milk, coconut milk, etc.

When I started the Whole30, any additives were no-no’s. Carrageenan was specifically identified as a “no-list” ingredient. This meant that I could no longer drink my Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla almond milk. For a while I went to canned coconut milk (only ingredients are coconut and guar gum), a quick and easy fix for dairy-substitutions. However, I finally took the time (and not too much time) to make my own almond milk. This has become my new favorite. In smoothies, protein shakes, in place of coffee creamer.

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After conscientiously avoiding carrageenan in products, I have noticed it’s negative effects when it had entered my diet unexpectedly.

Case Study: I had been making my mocha protein shakes at home with no problem. The amount of coffee had never been too much or provided me with any kind of headache or caffeine overload. However, several times I made this shake at my boyfriend’s using his protein powder (Optimum Nutrition Vanilla Shake), and every time it gave me a headache even before I finished it. I thought it was weird that less than 8 oz of coffee would be giving me headaches, and only when I didn’t make my shake at home.  I finally looked at the ingredients and realized the culprit was carrageenan.

Moral of the story is that I have found carrageenan to be a good for nothing additive that can also be a culprit in GI distress, and supposedly cancer.  So don’t worry if you look at your non-dairy milk and realize the big C is in it.  Almond Milk one of the easiest things to make. All you need are some nuts, agua, a blender and some cheesecloth (or a nut bag)!

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Homemade Almond Milk
Adapted from Oh She Glows
Referenced here and here
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup almonds
3 ½ cups filtered water
½ tsp. vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS:

1. Soak the almonds for at least 2 hours, preferably 8-12 hours or overnight. Make sure to cover them completely (can be tap water, this is different from the water listed in the ingredients).

2. Drain the almonds and rinse with water.

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(nice, plump soaked almonds)

3. Place soaked almonds, filtered water and vanilla extract in the blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes.

4. Place the cheesecloth over a fine-mesh strainer and let the milk separate from the almond meal.

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5. Carefully squeeze all of the milk from the cheesecloth or nut bag.

6. Option to reserve the leftover meal for future recipes (recipes using almond meal see here, here, and here).

7. Pour the milk into a container and use within 3-5 days.

Enjoy your additive free, 100% pure almond milk!

 

This recipe has become one my favorite lunches!  Tossed together with kale, avocado, cucumbers and hemp hearts, it makes a delicious big green salad.  This fennel-apple mixture creates some good juices, so there’s no need to add any dressing to the salad.

Apple cider vinegar has the tendency to remind me of one of my biggest culinary mistakes (absent-mindedly using apple cider vinegar (ACV) instead of apple cider (AC) in a brown sugar apple cheesecake…yuck!) but in this savory recipe, it works well with all of the flavors.

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Fennel Apple Salad
Adapted from the 21DSD
Whole30, 21DSD approved
INGREDIENTS:
1 fennel bulb
1 Granny Smith apple
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Sea salt & pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice fennel and apple into matchstick-sized pieces.
  2. Toss with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Makes 2-3 servings when tossed with other ingredients to make a large green salad.

Have you ever unintentionally used the wrong ingredient?

Yesterday my boyfriend and I traded in our long Sundays runs for a muscle building workout.  We did 3 free weight exercises (4 sets ranging from 12 reps x2, 8-10 reps x1 and 6-8 reps x1) targeting front, side, and back of the shoulder muscles, and then 3 weight machine exercises that targeted the same areas.  Then we did full bicep curls, and half-way curls with wide grips (4 sets ranging from 12 reps x2, 8-10 reps x1 and 6-8 reps x1).  Finally 3 sets of 21’s (7 reps of half-way up, 7 reps nose to half-way down, 7 reps nose to all the way down).  We then ran 4 miles and maintained our anabolic state of fat burning, while not dipping into the muscle burning zone.

After our hearty workout we followed it with a nice slice of bacon pie…

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Bacon-Lattice Frittata
Inspired by Mini Frittata Muffins
Whole30, 21DSD approved
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz white mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 large eggs
1/8 cup light coconut milk (canned)
2 tablespoons of almond flour (or coconut flour)
1 package of bacon
Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re tender and the mushroom juice has evaporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the coconut milk, almond flour, salt and pepper.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and spinach and stir to combine.
  4. Spoon in the frittata mixture, and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the bacon on the stove top over medium heat (Leave it a little under than what you normally consider done).
  6. At 25 minutes), create a lattice with the cooked bacon over the top of the pie and gently press in.
  7. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Double check the frittata is done by sticking a fork into it.  If it comes out clean, it’s ready to be taken out of the oven.
  8. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then cut it up like you would a pie!

How many more acronyms can I use?

Like I said yesterday, meal prep is a big part of success in any type of eating plan or lifestyle change.  I love that this stuff is ready when I need it and most of it is portable and great for on-the-go.  For example, I successfully ate a green apple in one hand, almond butter packet in the other, while I drove from work to yoga.  Talk about talent!  Here’s the stuff I prepped Monday to eat all week.

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Breakfast – Mini Frittata Muffins
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
INGREDIENTS:
Coconut oil, to coat pan and muffin tin
½ pound of cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 large eggs
¼ cup coconut milk (the fatty stuff at the top of the can works best)
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
5+ oz of Prosciutto
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat pan over medium heat.  Melt 2 tsp. of coconut oil.  Add the mushrooms and cook until they’re tender and the mushroom juice has evaporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the coconut milk, coconut flour, salt and pepper.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and spinach and stir to combine.
  4. Brush some melted coconut oil to coat the muffin tin (bottoms and sides). Line each cup with prosciutto.  Make sure the bottom and the sides are covered.
  5. Spoon in the frittata mixture, and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let the muffins cool in the tin.

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Snack – Jicama Fries
From 21DSD
INGREDIENTS:
1 Jicama bulb
1 lime
Sea salt
Cayenne pepper
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Peel and cut jicama into sticks, then toss them with with lime juice, pink himalayan sea salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Great for dipping in homemade guacamole, added to salads, or just eaten by themselves.

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Lunch/Dinner – Mustard-Glazed Chicken Thighs
From 21DSD/Practical Paleo
INGREDIENTS:
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp. stone ground mustard (gluten-free, and I used sodium free)
1/2 tsp. paprika
Sea salt
6 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine melted coconut oil, mustard, paprika and salt in a small bowl to create sauce.
    Starting with the bottoms, brush each chicken thigh in the sauce.  Spread it evenly, and brush the tops.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is heated, place the thighs skin side down into the pan.  Let the thighs cook for around 2-4 minutes (depending on the size of your thighs) until the skin side is golden brown.
  4. Flip the thighs over for about 2 minutes in the skillet, then transfer to a cookie sheet and place in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes (again, depending on the size of your thighs).
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit to cool before you eat or store it.

It’s once again taper week!  Today I shake off my holiday weekend vices (aka big gulps and fro-yo).  I’m trying to keep my Nalgene filled with water and glued to my hand to stay hydrated (and avoid any Diet Dr. Pepper cravings).  My schedule for this week is/has been:

Sun –  6 mi
Mon – 2 mi
Tues – 3 mi
Wed – 4 mi
Thurs – AM yoga
Fri – AM yoga + 2 mi shake-out after work
Sat- AM yoga
Weekly mileage: 17
Sun – Race Day!

Today, let’s talk a little about carbo-loading.

2-3 days prior (so Thursday and Friday for me) you should up your carbohydrate intake to increase your storage of glycogen (glycogen is your body’s most easily accessible form of energy).   I never go all out carbo-loading with pasta dinners or bagel breakfasts, but I do enjoy eating more sweet potatoes and Japanese yams guilt-free.  Plantain chips are not recommended for a low-carb diet, howeverthese are perfect for pre-race “carbo-loading.”  I’ve got these prepped and ready to be my go-to snacks for the end of this week.  If you’re just looking for something to dip and scoop, these baked plantain chips (not fried) provide a healthy alternative to regular potato chips.

How to pick your plantains: unripened plantains are starchier, and ripened plantains have higher sugar content.  Green plantains = firmer, yellow = stickier.  I opted for unripened plantains to ensure that they were easier to cut.photo 1 copy

Paleo Plantain Chips
From Fed and Fit
INGREDIENTS:

2 plantains
2 tsp. extra virgin coconut oil
Pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut off the ends of the plantain, and make 3 shallow slits, just through the skin (this will help to peel the plantain).
  3. Peel the plantain and then cut into thin slices.
  4. Toss the plantain slices with the melted coconut oil, lay out on the baking sheet, and sprinkle with the salt.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Once golden brown, remove from heat, let cool, and eat!

photoIt’s been a relaxing weekend so far.  Filled with running, the Farmer’s Market, movies, cooking, fro-yo, SVU, slurpees, reading, and tanning by the pool.  Today’s lunch was simple and consisted of these spaghetti squash fritters.  One of the reasons I love paleo cooking is how easy it can be.  These, like the paleo pancakes, have minimal ingredients, that you might already have on hand.

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Spaghetti Squash Fritters
by Empowered Sustenance
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup spaghetti squash strands from a cooked spaghetti squash
2 eggs
Sea salt and pepper
Dried herbs, such as oregano and French tarragon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash.  The easiest way to do this is poke holes all over it and microwave for 8-10 minutes depending on the size.  Remove from microwave, cut off the ends, and slice in half.  Remove the seeds.  With a fork, string out the squash.
  2. Mix together 1 cup of spaghetti squash, 2 eggs and seasonings lightly with a fork.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Spoon the batter into pan and cook until golden brown.
  5. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.
  6. Makes 6 beautiful little fritters.  Best served with a little hot sauce or ketchup.

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The past couple of days have been pretty toasty by the time I’m off work and ready to run.  Here are some tips on how to beat the heat, or at least compete with it.  I could have taken some of this advice myself, resulting in a “doh!” moment after the fact.  I probably deserved a Gibbs head slap.

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Tips for Training in the Heat

1. Hydrate!  Either run with a water bottle or mark out a course where you know there are water fountains (and functioning ones at that).

2. Go Naked!  Take off all your make-up.  The other day I forgot my make-up remover wipes and ended up running with a full face of make-up (ok I don’t wear that much, but still).   I was trying to avoid rubbing my eyes on my shirt since mascara stains never seem to come out.  Sweat, running down my face, through my mascara and into my eyes was blinding.  I ended up sticking my fingers straight across my eyeballs to try and blink out any mascara gunk and salty sweat.

3. Breathe!  Let your body catch a breeze by wearing sweat-wicking material and loose fitting fabrics.  Don’t just opt for cotton tees.

4. Lube up!  Sweat, shorts, and fabric rubbing can cause chafing.  Use Vaseline or Body Glide to doctor these problem areas before  it’s too late.

5. Suck it up!  Just kidding.  If it’s really hot, like hotter than what I consider hot (aka anything warmer than 80 degrees), take your workout indoors.  If your training has wiggle room, cross-train instead or stick to the treadmill.  Maybe this is a good time to test out a pool workout?

6. Replenish!  Drink something cool and refreshing, but still filled with protein to aid in muscle recovery.  Try something like my version of a Mango Lassi below.

photoMango Lassi
Paleo and lactose-free
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup coconut water
1/2 cup plain lactose-free kefir
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup frozen mango chunks
DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Add all ingredients in the blender and blend until all frozen ingredients have broken down.  Pour into glass and garnish with mint leaves.  Makes one 16 oz. smoothie.
 
 
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