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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.

 

LBcaddy

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

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!

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Here’s a “What I Ate Wednesday,” but of yesterday.  It was a delicious day that started out with these pancakes that I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF!  I jazzed them up with some banana slices and almond butter in addition to some honey.
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Then after work I was feeling a bit lethargic, but thought I would still feel better after a run.  I ran, sans watch, influenced by Olive to Run’s May Challenge.  It was only 3 miles, but it was just one of those days when you can’t get your legs to move.  I kept turning my wrist in to look at my time…but there was no time!  It was actually quite refreshing and it allowed me to focus on my latest obsession — The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

photoFor dinner I made spaghetti squash hash browns.  Did you know there was even such a thing?  Or that this could be done?  They tasted almost identical and I think this is even easier to make.

Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns
Adapted from Empowered Sustenance
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 medium-sized spaghetti squash (about 2 cups prepared)
2 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. Take half of the spaghetti-ed squash and remove all excess water.  Option to wring using a clean kitchen towel, or I pressed it between a few paper towels, several times until it was dry.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the dried spaghetti squash in an even layer and press down with a spatula.
  4. When you see the edges begin to brown, wait a couple minutes and then flip.
  5. Sautee the other side until golden brown.
  6. Remove from heat and serve as a side with your favorite dish, any time of the day.

6 miles at 6am.  Followed by these delicious babies.  *Insert emoji with heart eyes*
3 ingredients and the easiest pancakes you’ll ever flip.  Plus they’re heallllthy.  Go get that beta-carotene!

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Paleo Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes
From Wellness Mama
INGREDIENTS:

2 eggs
¼ cup pumpkin puree
⅛ tsp. cinnamon
Coconut oil for the pan
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat pan over medium heat.  Melt coconut oil to coat pan (use about ¼ tsp. of coconut oil for each pancake).
  2. Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree and cinnamon.
  3. Use about two tablespoons of batter for each pancake.
  4. Cook until the edges start to firm and appear golden.
  5. Carefully flip and cook on the other side.
  6. Serve with your choice of raw honey, pure maple syrup or ghee.  Makes about 4 pancakes.

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This has been a great weekend for running.  I didn’t have training Saturday so I was able to run 8 miles even though I was kind of stiff and sore.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  Afterwards I treated myself to an acai bowl and a great view at Swami’s.  I kind of wish every Saturday could be like this one!

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Today I ran the same route as Sat, but added an additional mile out, resulting in a 10 mile run.  It was a little gloomier, but pretty humid.  I could have used a little more breeze.  Coincidentally my newfound parking spot makes it oh so convenient to frequent my favorite little hippie/health shack.  Today I went for double trouble with a Lina Spiralina smoothie (apple juice, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and spiralina) and an iced coffee.  Overall, I was satisfied with my ability to run 2 longer runs in one weekend.  This might be a trend for upcoming weekends, as I’m thinking I should start increasing my weekly mileage.

And finally, it’s Cinco de Mayo.  After a day sans-margaritas, mexican beers and tortilla chips, I felt the need to do something holiday-spirited.  So for dinner we made these beauties I spotted on Fed and Fit.  I served them over a simple salad of arugula dressed with lemon and olive oil, some diced tomatoes and oven-roasted orange and yellow bell peppers.  It made for a very festive and healthy iCinco de Mayo!

photoPaleo Stuffed Avocados with Cilantro Cream Sauce
From Fed and Fit
INGREDIENTS:
1 lb chicken breast, cut up into tenders
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 container low sodium chicken broth
3 Hass avocados
1 can {14 fl oz) full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ cup cilantro, chopped
4 limes, juiced
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Preheat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chicken breasts and cook until you start to see white edges around the meat (about 2 minutes).  Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Then add the chicken broth to cover the meat.  Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the meat from the pan and shred with two forks.
  5. Add the cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to the chicken.  Mix together.
  6. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Stuff the avocados with shredded chicken and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
  8. To make the coconut cream sauce, mix together the coconut milk, lime juice and chopped cilantro.
  9. Remove the avocados from the oven and drizzle with the cream sauce.
 
 
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