healthy

No-Knee-Pain Workout

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Another day, another workout. This was a bit condensed from yesterday since I had to squeeze it into an hour:

  1. Light warmup.
  2. 20 mins on the bike set to “random” with an average level at 10.
  3. Circuit x 2:
    1. Kneeling weighted pushups + rows x 10 (10 lbs each arm, totally bummed I needed to keep my knees down, but the one-leg plank didn’t work for the rows)
    2. Leg lift series (per PT):
      Straight-leg-lift-crunches x 10
      Side leg-lifts x 10 each side
      Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side
    3. KB press R x 10 (26.5 lbs)
    4. KB press L x 10 (26.5 lbs)
    5. TRX bicep curl
  4. 10 mins stretching, including leg stretches with resistance band.
  5. Swam 500 meters

It was a good workout. Definitely got my sweat going and I felt like it was a good incorporation of full-body. Reflecting, I feel I should have just done pilates this morning though, since I did a circuit yesterday so I’ve lifted two days in a row, and tomorrow I take an intermediate yoga class at night so it would have been more balanced to do pilates today and then the hard workout tomorrow morning followed by yoga at night. I’ll get a routine going eventually. 🙂

Oh, and I rocked my Vibrams today! First day with them in the gym and it felt great! I usually exercise barefoot or in Vibrams at home so it made me feel much more comfortable.

All About The Juice, Part 2

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Well, I made it through the 3-Day Juice Cleanse! This post will discuss the reactions my partner and I had to the cleanse and it will contain the recipes I used for our dinners. For a full description of the cleanse, including tips and recipes, check out my previous post “All About The Juice, Part 1“.

Reactions:

Goals

My partner and I did this cleanse together. My goal was to clean out my digestive tract after being wishy-washy with my food allergy diet over the winter. I also wanted to see what a juice cleanse was like. His goal was purely to experience the juice cleanse.

His Experience

My partner chose not to do any prep work for this cleanse (which is not advisable) so day 1 for him was also day 1 with no caffeine. This makes it a little tough to decipher the difference between the juice cleanse and caffeine withdrawal. He was very tired the first two days. He felt his sense of smell was heightened as soon as day 1 and that his skin was clearer. He experienced feeling cold the first two days. He also said he had an overall feeling of being healthier but that he couldn’t describe that in specific terms.

He said if he felt the diet was sustainable he would stay on it because he liked how it made him feel. He did experience food cravings though overall he felt like it was such a large quantity of juice that he wasn’t hungry, he was just wishing his food intake was something other than juice. 😉 He also questioned the amount of sugar he was consuming and how that was effecting his body. He experienced bad breath throughout the cleanse (more on that later) and a slight metallic taste in the mouth. He did not weigh himself before/after.

Her Experience

I prepped for 1.5 weeks in advance by getting back on my food allergy diet (no gluten, dairy, cane sugar, coffee, and a few misc. items) and also stopped processed foods and alcohol. It should probably be noted that I’ve been off caffeine for over a year now so there were no issues with withdrawal. In just the 1.5 weeks before the cleanse I had lost 5 lbs, showing how much bloating/inflammation I was getting from eating things I was allergic to (when I first was diagnosed with food allergies I lost 30lbs).

Day 1 I was pretty grumpy. I agree with my partner that the amount of juice we were consuming was a little ridiculous; it was about 20 cups worth per day. I felt like I hardly had a chance to drink water because it took me so long to drink all the juice. Calorie-wise though we were under average for the day so I also felt compelled to drink it all. I was not hungry, though just like my partner I had cravings for fatty foods. I was very glad to have warm foods at night as I was feeling very cold, though I couldn’t finish my (very small) dinner because I felt so full. I also had periods during the day of feeling like I was high and I attribute that to the gut-punch of nutrients in my system.

Day 2 it continued to feel like a chore to make and drink the juices, but the food cravings went away. I still battled with feeling cold so I drank hot water and tried to get some sun. I drank the juices faster so I would have some time in between to digest. As with my partner, my sense of smell seemed heightened and my skin seemed healthy and glowing. I did have a strong metal taste in my mouth and it was bothering me a bit. I still felt very full until after dinner when I finally had a great purging experience. 😉 I feel like I got that colon cleanse I was looking for! After that things got a lot better.

Day 3 I had no problem with the juices. I had a ton of energy and was in a great mood. I felt like if I had the money to afford all those fruits and veggies that I could have continued with the cleanse. I had no food cravings and still felt full most of the day. I continued to have the metallic taste in my mouth until after dinner and in researching it I believe my partner and I were in a state of ketosis. I had not heard of that before and it was a little disturbing but after reading up about it it makes sense. In very brief terms it’s the body’s natural reaction to being starved of fats. That also made me wonder if the sugar intake was actually ok. My partner combated this by taking chlorella often (over the daily recommended dose), which he believed helped. I was taking normal daily doses of chlorella and didn’t notice a difference.

Today I was happy to break the fast with some eggs over easy fried in coconut oil, avocado, berries and a green smoothie. I’m curious to see how I digest that and I intend to eat light healthy meals for lunch and dinner. (*Edit: no problem digesting it, though I didn’t have the appetite for large meals during the day and now, three days later, I still loose appetite faster than usual.u)

Breaking the juice cleanse!
Breaking the juice cleanse!

Dinner Recipes

It’s recommended to eat small meals consisting of just fruits and veggies for dinner while doing the juice cleanse. Tim and I chose to add some healthy fats in as well since our goal was not weight-loss and adding in healthy fats really helps with food cravings. We were also feeling cold during the cleanse so we cooked hot meals. Raw meals are a great option if you don’t feel chilly. These are just the three basic meals I made, there are certainly hundreds of others out there.

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

Mashed Cauliflower with Kale
Mashed Cauliflower with Kale

This is a great comfort meal, not dissimilar to mashed potatoes. In fact, when I’m not cleansing I make them with either butter or ghee instead of coconut oil and it often fools people into thinking they’re potatoes! Note, I couldn’t eat my whole bowl, but my partner had no trouble eating his. I saved the rest and threw it into the last recipe listed here.

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 heads Cauliflower
  • half bunch of Kale, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Steam cauliflower until tender (~15 minutes).
  2. Steam kale until tender (~5 minutes).
  3. Add cauliflower and all remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. I like to leave mine just a little chunky so it has that mashed-potato feel to it.
  4. Toss with kale, top with additional paprika for color.

Simple Skillet Kale with Portobellos

Ingredients (for two):

  • large bunch Kale, chopped into large slices
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 1/2 large Vidalia Onion (or a whole small one), peeled and chopped.
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 large Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms, season with cumin, salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  3. Add kale, garlic and additional salt and pepper as desired. Fold the onions/mushrooms and oil over the kale. Cover and let steam for a few minutes, or until the kale is bright green and slightly wilted.
  4. Remove from heat, squeeze with lemon, enjoy!

Veggie Pasta

Veggie Pasta
Veggie Pasta

I make this meal often in the summer and usually add in chickpeas. It’s versatile, quick and delicious!!

Ingredients (for two):

  • 2 small Zucchini, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  •  2 small Summer Squash, either spiraled or use a peeler to create thin slices
  • 1 Portobello mushroom, chopped
  • 1/2 a Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat until fully melted.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Add onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onions begin to appear translucent and the mushrooms are a bit browned on each side.
  4. Add zucchini and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until it’s warm and bright.
  5. Add whisked dressing and stir to coat. Let cook another 30-60 seconds. Enjoy!
  6. *Note: Mine looks a little creamy in the picture because I threw in the leftover mashed cauliflower that I had. 🙂

If you try a juice cleanse I’d love to know how the experience goes for you!

All About The Juice, Part 1

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Back in January I made a large post on cleansing. Spring is often a valuable time to cleanse to help the body make the transition from winter hibernation mode, which often involves indulging in comfort foods and drink, to the Spring Cleaning mode of enjoying more light and activity. As I mentioned in my post, there are several types of cleanses. Since I keep a fairly “clean” diet due to my food allergies, I decided to go with one of the more intense cleanses and try a three day juice cleanse. Fresh homemade juice is extremely nutrient-dense and a great way to load up your body on nutrients and give your digestive organs a little break by only processing liquid. Even if you have no interest in cleansing, this post will include several tips on juicing and the juice recipes can be used any time in addition to your regular diet.

For any new readers, I want to be very clear that I am not a nutritionist. I have personally learned quite a bit about nutrition over the years from a combination of working with healthcare professionals and dealing with my own food allergies, but by no means do I claim to be a professional. This is all my personal educated opinions.

I’ve been making fresh juices for several years now, but this is the first time I’ve done an actual juice cleanse. I’m doing a very short juice cleanse, just three days, but I began the dietary changes to prepare for the cleanse about 1.5 weeks ago and once I’m done juicing it will still be at least a few days of easing out of it. So if you’d like to do a juice cleanse I recommend thinking of it as a 2.5-3 week process, not just three days. By taking the time to do the prep and post work it’s a smoother transition for the body and I believe it helps make the results longer-lasting instead of just using this as a quick crash diet and going back to eating crap afterwards.

It was particularly important for me to try the juice cleanse right now because since moving back to the Boston area I’ve been cheating on my food allergy diet ~2-3 times/wk and I was really feeling my symptoms coming back. By just going back on my food allergy diet (which is not calorie restrictive) for a week I literally lost 5 lbs and my seasonal allergies (congestion) went away . That’s just a hint of how much bloating and inflammation I get when I’m eating foods I’m allergic to. My hope is that this juice cleanse helps me reset things further by giving me a big boost of nutrients and letting my digestive organs rest a bit.

Pre Cleanse Checklist:

  • Most healthy adults have no trouble with a short juice cleanse. That said, if you have chronic health issues or have not had a physical in a while I recommend checking with your doctor before starting any cleanse. It’s also important to understand that these juices often contain a lot of sugar (albeit fast-processing sugars) so those who are diabetic or prone to yeast may need to alter recipes and be careful to monitor sugar levels.
  • About a week before the cleanse (I did 1.5 weeks) cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods. I personally also cut out dairy and gluten (among other things) due to food allergies. You can wean yourself off things like caffeine to make the transition easier, but I really encourage you to get off it before juicing.
  • Pick a time for the juice cleanse when you can take it easy. There really isn’t much protein or fat in the juice diet so it’s recommended to stop any intense physical activity for the three days that you’re cleansing.
  • Consider taking supplements to support digestion while cleansing. There are several options and you may want to check with a nutritionist to see what’s best for you. I take milk thistle, chlorella, acidophilus, and pancreatic enzymes for digestion, and I also take flax seed oil because my body really doesn’t do well without a healthy fat intake. For those of you doing a juice cleanse in prep for a liver cleanse you would want to skip all fats.
  • Budget. As you can see below in the “Shopping” section, this involves buying A TON of fresh fruits and veggies. Depending on the time of year and where you’re located, this is most likely very expensive. Save up! My partner and I chose to go all organic and I’m a little embarrassed to admit it cost about $150 per person, not including suppliments.

Cleansing

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel with my cleanse, so after reviewing several options I decided to go with “The Weekend Juice Cleanse” from Dr. Oz and Joe Cross. For those who don’t know Joe Cross, he’s the guy who did “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead“, a great documentary on the benefits of juicing. Now, I’m not a huge follower of Dr. Oz, but I will say that after reviewing the recipes and trying the cleanse (I’m on day 2 right now) they are quite nutrient-dense, they don’t all overload on sugar, and there’s a lot of variety to the juices. Again, these could be used as just really great every-day recipes. The only thing I’m noticing is that the quantity of juice seems like it might be too much for me, but I’ll post again once I’ve completed the cleanse and have a better handle on it. I will say this, I haven’t been hungry on this cleanse yet. It’s SO MUCH JUICE!!

You can grab all recipes and a great shopping list here. I’ll also include each recipe in this post.

Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!
Three Day Juice Cleanse for Two People!

Shopping List

For 1 Person for Three Days of Cleansing:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 12 Granny Smith Apples
  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 large Ginger Root (at least 6″)
  • 9 Cucumbers
  • 18 Celery Stalks
  • 42 Kale Stalks
  • 3 Lemons
  • 3 Limes
  • 12 Plum Tomatoes
  • 6 Red Bell Peppers
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 6 Cups Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Large Red Beets
  • 3 Oranges (optional, skip if you have sugar issues)
  • 24 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 18 Clementines, Mandarins or Tangerines

That is A TON of fruits and veggies!

General Veggie Handling Rules

  • Buy organic fruits and veggies when possible.
  • Keeping your fruits and veggies refrigerated will mean your juice comes out nice and cool so there’s no need for ice!
  • Always wash your fruits and veggies before juicing! Juice is raw so it’s important to cold rinse all fruits and veggies and for the root vegetables (i.e. beets) you may want to scrub them.
  • Most veggies do not need to be peeled before putting them in the juicer. It’s really only citrus fruit that need to have the peel removed because it’s bitter.
  • Apples can be put in to the juicer whole (if they fit, I had to quarter mine), though some prefer to core them first since the seeds technically contain amygdalin, which is a cyanide and sugar compound. In small amounts this isn’t a big deal (and you’re not really eating the seeds since the juicer keeps them, but traces could be in the juice), but if you’re juicing daily I would recommend coring first.
  • For peppers, I recommend removing the stem, seeds and ribs as they’re bitter.
  • For lemons and limes I use a hand juicer to squeeze the juice out. If you have an electric citrus juicer that’s an even better option. I just find it’s more of a hassle to peel them and throw them in the juicer than it is to juice the separately.
  • Oranges and clementines/mandarines/tangerines should be peeled before adding them to the juicer. Again, if you have a separate citrus juicer that’s a great option too.
  • The red onion should be peeled before juicing.
  • When adding the leafy greens to the juicer use small batches to not overload the blade and get the juice pusher on fast so you don’t end up with leaves blowing around your kitchen. 😉

Choosing a Juicer

I’m not affiliated with any products, but I can give you my personal opinion that after researching juicers I went with a Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain which has proven to be a good personal juicer (I’ve had it since 1/2012 and it’s still going strong). The benefit is it doesn’t take up a ton of counter space, it’s very easy to clean and it’s powerful. The biggest con I’ve found comes when making large quantities of juice. It stores the pulp in the juicer, so if I’m making a lot of juice I sometimes have to stop and clean it out before I move on. This has made making juice for my partner and myself during this cleanse a little more tedious. Breville does have beefier models (i.e. JE98XL Juice Fountain PlusBJE510XL Juice Fountain Multi-Speed, 800JEXL Juice Fountain Elite)  that excrete the pulp to a separate container which makes it easier to make large quantities of juice. I’d really recommend those if you’re making juice for your family.

DITL (Day in The Life) of Juicing

  • Start each day with hot water with lemon and ginger.
  • Breakfast Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Mid Morning Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Lunch Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Afternoon Snack
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Pre Dinner Juice
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Small dinner of just fruits and veggies (I’ll include recipes in my next post)
  • Drink at least one glass of water.
  • Drink a glass of hot water before going to bed.

Notes:

  • Yes, you will have to pee all day 🙂
  • You can make all of the juices ahead of time in the morning but give yourself a good hour to do so. It takes a long time to prep the foods and clean out the juicer. I wouldn’t make juices more than a day in advance.
  • It’s common to feel cold when doing a juice cleanse. It’s always ok to drink hot water in between juices to keep warm. You can also have hot dinners, recipe ideas will be in my next post.

Recipes

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice (Breakfast)

  • 3 Carrots
  • 2 Apples
  • 1″ Ginger
Mean Green Juice
Mean Green Juice

Mean Green Juice (Mid Morning)

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 4 Celery Stalks
  • 2 Apples
  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1″ Ginger
Gazpacho Juice
Gazpacho Juice

Gazpacho Juice (Lunch)

This one really does taste like gazpacho. It’s delicious, and when not cleansing if you add some vodka or gin it’d make a mean Bloody Mary. 😉

  • 4 Plum Tomatoes
  • 1 lg Cucumber
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 sm Red Onion
  • 2 cups Parsley*
  • 1 Lime

*I suggest greatly cutting down the parsley if you’re pregnant. Parsley in large quantities is used to stimulate the shedding of the uterine lining (e.g. inducing periods). This is usually done via drinking parley tea so in raw form I’m not sure it would have the same effect but if it were me I’d skip it.

Citrus Inspired Green Juice
Citrus Inspired Green Juice

Citrus Inspired Green Juice (Afternoon Snack)

  • 6-8 leaves Kale
  • 8 leaves Swiss Chard
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 6 Clementines (I used mandarines since clementines aren’t in season this time of year)
Sunset Blend Juice
Sunset Blend Juice

Sunset Blend Juice (Pre Dinner Juice)

  • 1 lg Sweet Potato
  • 1 med Carrot
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 lg Red Beets
  • 2 Golden Delicious Apples
  • 1 Orange (optional, skip if you’re sensitive to sugar, it’s sweet without the orange)

Post-Cleanse

It’s important to be mindful of what you eat when you’re breaking your cleanse. If you run out and get a pizza as soon as your three days are up you will probably get sick. Even if you don’t feel sick, you’re shocking your body and basically undoing what you just worked hard to clean out. It’s recommended to stick with small meals of just fruits and veggies for the first 1-2 days off the cleanse and continue to have at least 1 juice per day. Then I recommend adding foods back slowly and notice how they effect your body. For example, if you stopped eating dairy add that back in, see how it effects you, and wait at least two days before adding back another food group.

The overall hope here is that cravings for unhealthy food (food filled with fat, sugar, and salt) will diminish and with the added nutrients from the juice your body will be healthier and digest food faster thanks to speeding up your metabolism. It’s recommended to continue having at least one glass of fresh juice each day to keep your nutrient level up and your cravings for junk food away.

I’m finishing up my cleanse and my next post will include my personal reactions to it along with recipes for dinners during the cleanse. If you try this I’d really love to know about your experience!

Practice What You Preach: An Open Letter to Health Workers Everywhere

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Yesterday during a massage my client mentioned she had attended a healthcare conference and she was surprised by how many nurses and doctors in attendance were out of shape. This reminded me of the plethora of massage therapists who are in the same boat, many of whom don’t even get massage regularly (or ever, in some cases). This really got me thinking about the disconnect between those offering healthcare and how we encourage our clients/patients to be. This is definitely not meant to shame anyone, but to me it really begs the question of why we do what we do.

self-care-survival

I’ve mentioned on this blog that one of the major things that kick-started me into being healthy was going to school for massage. I was suddenly surrounded by personal trainers, nutritionists and physical therapists and began absorbing a ton of information on health and wellness. I also fell in love with the art and science of massage and realized that if I was going to really be successful as a massage therapist I needed to be in good physical shape to avoid injuring myself and shortening my career. Learning proper body mechanics and strengthening my core and upper body, along with adding flexibility to my lower body was imperative if I wanted to work through several hours of deep tissue work without compromising my own health. The #1 thing I learned in school is I have to check in with myself, physically and psychologically, FIRST before I put my hands on another body. Self-care, self-care, self-care.

Yet, somehow, we get out of school and it seems that many of us throw that idea away. It’s easier to be consumed by being too busy to exercise, and being too broke to afford massage. It’s easier and cheaper to grab fast food on the way to the office than to bring a healthy lunch or even stop by the salad bar at Whole Foods. The most self-care we do is shaking out our hands between clients and maybe rubbing a little Biofreeze or arnica on our shoulders. All of our attentions is focused outwards, to our clients/patients, our families, our friends.

And this is where I can finally see a glimpse of what’s going on. Most of us in healthcare are caregivers. We were born with that need to take care of others, often ignoring our own needs. We’re willing to martyr ourselves for the benefit of others. That may seem admirable, but at the end of the day I believe this attitude is back-firing. We’re constantly saying to our clients, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Logically, it’s obvious this doesn’t work. If we really want to help others we have to get a little selfish and we have to start taking our own advice.

They tell you if a plane loses air pressure and the oxygen masks fall put YOUR mask on first BEFORE helping others. They tell you this simply because if you don’t put your mask on first you might pass out due to lack of oxygen before you even get a chance to help your neighbor. It’s common sense. Folks in healthcare, listen up, PUT YOUR MASKS ON FIRST! It’s not news that, especially in the US, we have major issues with illness directly related to poor diets and lack of basic exercise. I’m not saying you need to become a raw foodist, a bodybuilder, and pamper yourself constantly, but it’s time to start making time for your own health. If not, newsflash, your patients won’t listen to you. Actions speak louder than words, right? So if you tell your patients to get healthy, and then you step out back for a cigarette and a coke they will not take you seriously.

If we are in the healthcare profession it is our duty to demonstrate good health. Period. I’m not saying we have to be perfect 100% of the time; we’re still human, right? But we are the army fighting for health and wellness so if our army can’t take care of itself we can’t win a single battle, let alone a war. If you’re working one-on-one with clients or patients who are coming to you for help with their health you are literally the first line of defense. Help yourself so you can really help them.

I beg you to readjust your thinking. You’re probably extremely busy, but if you can carve out even 30 minutes a day for exercise you will have more energy and most likely a more positive outlook (thank you endorphins) so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you eat better you’ll have more energy and a stronger immune system so you will feel better and be better for your patients/clients. If you get regular massage or chiropractic or acupuncture you will feel better and be better for your patients/clientsIs this making sense yet?

Selfcare-300x200

As for the money excuse, this is usually another mode of thinking that needs to be adjusted. As a massage therapist, I get massage regularly because it keeps my body fluid and keeps me from getting injured when I work with my clients. It also helps me connect with other therapists and often introduces me to other modalities. If I can barter I do, because it’s nice to feel things are reciprocal. But, if I can’t barter I happily pay for it because I firmly believe massage is worth the price we charge for it. I rationalize the cost by pretending I did one less massage that week. So basically, it’s a barter in my mind. I gave one massage to a client and I get one massage in return. Done. I mean seriously, how do you expect anyone to pay for a massage from you if you don’t feel you can pay for a massage yourself? Now ideally, healthcare professionals would have a large barter pool with each other so we can take care of each other and I do think long-term there needs to be major healthcare reforms in this country to make care more universally affordable, but that’s a post for another day.

To sum up, remember, you are a role model. When you took your position in healthcare you made a vow to do your best to help make people healthier and you can’t do that unless you are healthy. Start small, start today, if you have to start again tomorrow. You are worth it. Practice what you preach so our society as a whole can get healthy!

My (Paleo) Meatloaf Brings All The Boys To The Yard

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When I was a child I thought that meatloaf was a a gross hunk of meat loaded with fat, carbs and cholesterol and covered in ketchup; gross. As an adult, I’ve learned that meatloaf is one of the easiest dishes to make and be creative with. It can also be an excellent source of protein AND veggies. Oh, and did I mention it’s comforting and delicious?

In all the meatloaves I’ve made, I’ve somehow managed to never make the same one twice. Partly because I never write down my recipe, and mostly because I tend to take the kitchen-sink approach and use whatever I have around the house. In my more recent experiments I’ve also found that slow-cooking meatloaf results in the most tender melt-in-your-mouth experience ever, and is really a “set it and forget it” meal. Yesterday’s meatloaf was no exception.

Image
Paleo GF Slow-Cooker Veggie Meatloaf

Paleo Gluten Free Slow-Cooker Veggie Meatloaf (or just “Awesome” for short)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs grass-fed beef
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 3-4 medium-sized carrots, shredded*
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, shredded*
  • 2 cups baby or regular spinach, shredded*
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or dice a whole sweet onion, I just didn’t have one handy)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
  • 3-4 large dashes of coconut aminos (or if not strict paleo Worcester Sauce still has the best flavor)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp leaf lard, melted, OR 6 strips of bacon (which I was unfortunately out of)
  • 1 jar Paleo GF tomato sauce of your choosing (this is obviously the easy way, you can also make your own tomato paste concoction.

*I throw all of the veggies into a food processor with a shredding attachment to make it quick and easy.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix the veggies with the spices and almond flour until thoroughly coated.
  2. Add eggs, coconut aminos or Worcester sauce, 2 tbsp of the tomato sauce and lard (if you’re using it); mix well.
  3. Add meat and mix it all together with your hands. Form into a loaf-shape.
  4. If you’re using bacon, cut the 6 strips in half and line the bottom of the slow cooker with half. Lay the other half on top of the loaf in strips.
  5. Place in slow cooker and cook on low 5-6 hours or until middle reads at 160ºF.
  6. Warm the remaining tomato sauce and top each slice with a spoonful. Enjoy!

I was so happy with how this came out. It just melted together perfectly! My partner went back for seconds and had to stop himself from grabbing thirds. He also had no idea that almost half of the mixture was veggies. Score! Did I mention it’s only 400 calories with 29 grams of protein per serving? Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you eat more than one serving per meal. 😉

Some additional tips:

  • If you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t worry! You can either still slow-cook it by placing the loaf in a dutch oven or other oven-safe deep covered dish and placing it in the oven on 200-250ºF until it comes to temperature. Or if you’re in a hurry just throw it in a loaf pan and cook at 350ºF for an hour. If you go for the latter, I recommend coating the top with tomato sauce so it doesn’t dry out.
  • This is a perfect freezer meal for work. This recipe makes ~8 servings (unless you go back for seconds and thirds)!
  • Missing an ingredient? Improvise! That’s what meatloaf is all about. I especially encourage you to try different veggies. Zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms are a few suggestions.
  • Why lard? It might seem silly to buy grass fed beef and lean pork and then add leaf lard to it. Well, aside from adding amazing flavor, leaf lard is actually one of the most healthy oils out there, especially when you’re careful about where you get it (I only buy from small farms, preferably local, who feed their pigs a healthy non-GMO/non-antibiotic diet). This article does a good job of explaining the benefits of leaf lard but I encourage you to do some Googling because there’s a lot of great information out there on why leaf lard is an awesome ingredient. It’s become a staple in my home.

Have your own favorite healthy meatloaf recipe? Share it! Thanks for reading!

Barefoot in MA

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Welcome to the newest incarnation of my blog: Barefoot in MA. Moving from Vermont back into civilization to the outskirts of Boston makes it harder to stick to that healthy diet I was used to when I was surrounded by farms instead of fast food. Thankfully, the area I moved to boasts several local (albeit pricey) farms and I’m lucky enough to have a friend in Western MA who can hook me up with fresh grass-fed beef and all-natural pork. It also helps to live right down the street from Whole Foods. All of these things make it much easier to drive on by the chain restaurants and head home to cook a healthy meal. It also doesn’t hurt that we managed to move to possibly the only town within 40 minutes of Boston that only has one restaurant that delivers…and it’s our general store which is just kind of “meh”.

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Quick Indian Spiced Chicken, Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Macadamia Nuts, Red Quinoa

I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes and wanted to share those with you. These are not original recipes but I made some  tweaks. For today, let’s start with Quick Indian Spiced Chicken and Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Macadamia Nuts. Both of these recipes are taken from Real Food Whole Health which I was recently turned onto by my friend, Kym. Most of the recipes on the site are gluten free and paleo. I also made the chicken recipe dairy-free.

Quick Indian Spiced Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (preferably free-range organic, local where available)
  • 1 cup So Delicious plain greek-style coconut yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested (preferably organic)
  • 2 tbsp garam masala or vindaloo spice blend
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix salt, pepper, 1 tbsp garam masala or vindaloo blend and 1 tbsp of the curry powder. Use as a dry-rub on the chicken.
  2. In a separate large bowl, mix yogurt, zest and the remaining spices. Add chicken and coat thoroughly.
  3. Let chicken marinate at least 15 minutes but you can place in fridge and marinate all day if you’d like (note: I don’t like things too spicy so 15 minutes for me was plenty and it had a good heat to it).
  4. Preheat oven to 500ºF.
  5. Lay chicken on a greased broiler pan, or cookie sheet with a wire rack, and roast for ~15-20 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned outside.
  6. Note: The original recipe mentioned cutting the thighs into chunks and/or skewering them. I personally preferred to do this with the whole thighs but the option is yours.

I was a HUGE fan of this recipe. The coconut yogurt was a perfect replacement for full-fat greek yogurt. The spice was nice and warm but not over the top. It was also super easy to make (hence “quick”) and will definitely become a staple in my home. It also went perfectly with the next recipe…

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Macadamia Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • Fat of your choice (I used garlic ghee, the recipe also mentioned coconut oil, butter, or your own favorite)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and shred with your knife into smaller pieces.
  2. Heat oil/fat of your choice over medium in a skillet.
  3. Add sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly browned/caramelized. You want them to be almost to your liking.
  4. Add garlic and macadamia nuts, sauté until the nuts warm through and become fragrant.
  5. Enjoy!

As this blog progresses, look forward to more healthy recipes, workouts and possibly some yoga videos coming soon! If you’re in the Winchester area, check out my new massage and yoga practice, Innovative Bodywork & Yoga. 🙂

Quickie Coconut Milk

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This labor day weekend has found me in the kitchen cooking up a storm and in the yoga studio getting my @$$ kicked while completing the pre-req hours for a yoga teacher training that I’m hoping to begin in January.  So I’ve been sore and well-fed. 🙂

I recently placed an order from Amazon for a Nut Milk Bag and it arrived on Saturday!  This morning, after a brutal ZGYM workout, I made coconut milk from scratch and it came out amazing!!  If you’re like me and have been shelling out too much money on Silk or So-Delicious coconut milk, filled with preservatives and often cane sugar, give this a try.  With a Vitamix or high-powered blender it takes less than 10 minutes and is a perfect consistency.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flake
  • 1.5 cups Warm Water (not hot, warm from the tap or filtered that’s warmed up is fine)
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. Honey, or sweetener of your choice

Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup of the warm water to the coconut flake and blend in a Vitamix or high-powered blender and blend on HIGH for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Over a pitcher or bowl pour the contents into a nut milk bag and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  Note: the milk will be HOT after being blended that long, I squeezed with a towel over my hand.
  3. Add remaining pulp back into blender and add the last 1/2 cup of warn water.  Blend on HIGH another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Once again, pour the contents through the nut milk bag and squeeze the milk out into your pitcher or bowl.
  5. If you want to sweeten or flavor the milk, put the milk back into the blender, add the vanilla and honey (or whatever flavors and sweeteners you’d like) and blend on 8 for ~20-30 seconds.  
  6. Yeilds ~3 cups.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

Just like with the almond milk, I was impressed by how easy this is and how great the results are.  I also greatly appreciate the control I get over the final product.  I like to use a slightly sweetened vanilla milk in my morning smoothies, but I’ve found it’s impossible to find a vanilla coconut milk at the grocery store that doesn’t either contain cane sugar (which I’m allergic to) or artificial sweeteners.  Also, even when I purchase unsweetened coconut milk it has stabilizers and preservatives.  This way I get the freshest product possible catered to my own tastes.

Now, what to do with the remaining coconut pulp? 😉