Tag Archives: paleo

Batch cooking and stuffed chicken thighs

Paleo Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Paleo Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Batch Cooking.  I have to admit that it intimidates me.  I spend a little too long getting ready to get ready to do it knowing that I’m going to be in the kitchen a looooong ass time but just like everything else, I have learned that you just have to get started and do one task at a time and get done what you get done and not get all stressy.  At least that’s what I tell myself to do.

This Sunday I spent 6 hours in my kitchen making a ton of food.  I am hoping that it will pay off and that I won’t have to do any cooking for at least the next 4 days.

Here’s what I made:

Cooked 3 boneless chicken breasts

Cooked 2 packages of chicken tenders

Butternut squash soup.

Roasted cauliflower

Cooked 2 pounds of ground turkey with an onion and then mixed some with bacon and mushrooms and tomato sauce and made 4 stuffed peppers ready to heat in the oven

Pesto

I peeled and cut up a bag of carrots

Zoodles.

By 8:30 I was ready to jump out of my kitchen window but at least now I don’t have to cook and I can just eat and relax the rest of the week. Well, I never relax but at least the food is cooked.

While I did all of that stuff, I also made a big batch of Paleo Stuffed Chicken Thighs.  It was enough for my family of 4 adult sized people for dinner for 2 nights and an extra for my lunch.

Now, a week later, I am glad that I invested the time.  However, the weather is absolutely gorgeous and I don’t want to spend all day in my kitchen today.  Now that I have it down, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get this all done in less time today.  We shall see.

Also, instead of making a dinner for tonight that is more complicated and time consuming, I will pan sear some lamb leg and serve with a couple of veggies.  You can look at this a couple of different ways.  Either you decide you are going to be making a huge mess in your kitchen anyway, so you may as well just make a big dinner too, or you can make a simpler dinner and save this one for when you have a little less going on.  Either way, these chicken thighs are delicious and definitely worth making!

Paleo Stuffed Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

2 packages of boneless chicken thighs

1 lb of thinly sliced prosciutto

2 red bell peppers, roasted and sliced into 1/4 inch strips.  (Do this first).

2 eggs, beaten

Pesto*

24 sun dried tomatoes

1 1/2 cups almond meal

1 tbs nutritional yeast

dried oregano

Himalayan Salt

ground black pepper

garlic powder

Tapioca flour

Coconut oil for frying

Pasta sauce of choice

Pesto

2 cups or 2 hand fulls of baby spinach

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)

1 tbs nutritional yeast

¼ cup pine nuts

2 pinches of Himalayan Salt

ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add it all to your food processor except the olive oil and pulse till well-blended.

Slowly add the olive oil and pulse until a pesto paste like consistency.

Instructions

First mix together the almond meal, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper in a wide shallow bowl and set aside.

Next, open up and lightly pound the chicken thighs with a meat tenderizing mallet.

Set up your assembly line:  Chicken thighs, tapioca flour, pesto, prosciutto, peppers, sun dried tomatoes, salt, pepper and dried oregano, beat eggs and almond meal mixture.

Assemble each chicken thigh by opening up, spreading a tablespoon of pesto on the inside of each, laying on a slice of prosciutto, topping that with about 2 or 3 tomatoes and a couple slices of pepper, sprinkle with oregano, roll up as tightly as possible without losing the goodies inside, and place in a baking dish.

Once they are all assembled, dust each with tapioca flour, dip in egg and roll in the almond meal mixture.

Then when they are all assembled, dusted, dipped and rolled, they are ready to brown.

Heat a tablespoon or more of coconut oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat.  Place the chicken in the pan and lightly brown on each side.  Transfer back to the baking dish.FullSizeRender (4)

Bake covered on 350 degrees for 30 minutes or till chicken is no longer pink.

While that is baking you can heat up your sauce and prep a green salad. A dinner without some greens isn’t dinner as far as I’m concerned and it looks great next to the red sauce!

Serve with sauce and salad and enjoy!

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Breakfast for Dinner Party for Two

FullSizeRender (8)When I’m not sure what’s going on with the gang, I’ll plan some meals for the week and then have one or 2 “back-up” ideas.  Breakfast for dinner is one such back-up plan.  One night this past week, it was just me and my youngest daughter Claire, so we had breakfast for dinner.

Declaring Breakfast for Dinner to Claire is the equivalent of declaring this night a party night!  We both get excited and do a little pre-food food dance that involves a little hip swerve followed by 2 fist pumps, repeated three times, with or without biting the lower lip and ending with a high-five.

It’s fun to do things backwards sometimes and we get to be a little naughty and have some maple syrup, and maybe a liiiiiittle more syrup and maybe just a drop more. And Okay stop it already with the syrup!  The shit is expensive, not to mention it’s sugar and we already know that sugar is a huge jerk.  An expensive delicious jerk.

We had pancakes topped with strawberries, maple syrup and some breakfast sausage that I bought from a local grass-fed farm.  I didn’t include any pictures of the sausage though, sorry.  I took some but ya know, sausage just isn’t very photogenic.  This is true even on other blogs, good blogs, much more sophisticated food blogs.  I think it just ends up looking like poo or like um well, like something else unmentionable and this is not that kind of party.  So you will have to take my word for it, the sausage was really good even if it looked like, whatever.

Nevertheless, Claire and I had ourselves a paleo pancake breakfast-for-dinner partay!  I made sure to text pictures of it to my husband and oldest daughter just to rub it in that we were having a party without them because I’m a jerk.  A big fat paleo jerk.  FullSizeRender (9)

Paleo Pancakes

Ingredients:

3 bananas

3 eggs

¼ tsp baking powder

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup cashew or almond butter

½ cup of finely chopped walnuts

fresh or frozen strawberries

 

How to make them:

In a mixing bowl with a hand mixer, mash the bananas

add in the eggs and blend together

next blend in the nut butter

add in the baking powder, cinnamon and blend and

last the vanilla, blending together till completely blended

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat and melt some fat (coconut oil or bacon fat works)

pour by ladle fulls as many as will fit in you pan without them touching and allowing for even distribution of the heat.

Once they are thicker looking and starting to bubble, and the ends appear to be done, carefully flip with a thin flat spatula.  This is tricky and takes some practice and it’s okay if they break.  I find paleo pancakes are harder to flip than traditional ones but you’ll get the hang of it and if they break, who cares?  You’re going to eat them anyway.

Lower the heat a little after flipping them and when done, keep warm in the oven on 200 degrees until the rest of the pancakes are done.

Serve topped with ghee, strawberries and a little maple syrup.  Enjoy!

You can also get really nutty and top with more nut butter and nuts with apples and cinnamon.  In this recipe, I substituted one banana with 3/4 cup of pureed pumpkin.

 

Paleo banana pancakes with sweet potato and almond butter

Warm up with Paleo Cabbage Rolls

 

Cabbage RollIt has been freeeezing around here!   So cold that schools are closed today.  Right now I’d be at the gym being a beast but my class was cancelled so instead I am being a wuss all snuggled up with a blanket and coffee and feeling cozy.

The holidays are over and you know what that means – Everyone has been getting sick with the flu, stomach bug and other nasty viruses.  What better way to heal, warm up and fill up than with a hot delicious plate of nutritious comfort food!

AND… you can really do well to reduce your chances of getting sick by doing a few simple common sense things:

Eat plenty of greens at every meal all year because they are packed with all things great for a healthy digestive and immune system such as fiber, vitamins A, C, K, potassium, calcium and folate.

Avoid sugar because that is probably the worst thing for your immune system as it is void of nutrition, causes inflammation, causes weight gain, contributes to metabolic syndrome, disrupts sleep and destroys your gut.  Sugar is a huge jerk.

Get proper sleep – at least 7 hours the same times each night in the darkest room possible.  The darker the better because lights disrupt the production of the hormone melatonin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that strengthens your immune system.

Exercise – to strengthen your heart, lungs, muscles and bones, and reduce sickness-inducing stress.

Last but not least, avoid spreading germs with hand washing.  Use regular soap and water not antibacterial because that stuff is not any more effective and only makes the resistant bacteria more resistant.  Unless you have just washed your hands, don’t touch your face or put your fingers in or around your mouth and remind (I mean nag) your kids to stop doing that. Touching your face is a really bad habit, so stop it.  You just did it.  I saw you!

I know it can be really hard to avoid getting sick when everyone around you is sick, but you can reduce your chances and if you do get sick, your body will have the tools to fight it off faster.

So basically,  “Go to bed!”, “Eat your veggies!” and “Wash your hands!” is not just your mom or me nagging you, doing that stuff is truly vital to your health.

Speaking of veggies, I love the smell of cabbage cooking.  I know it’s not a particularly popular smell, but I have heard that your sense of smell is the sense closest linked to your memory and I associate the smell of cabbage cooking with my grandmother’s house.  So this meal is an extra comfort to me as I remember a happy time and place from my childhood.

Paleo Cabbage Rolls

1 cabbage
1 onion chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 head cauliflower chopped into medium small pieces
2 cloves garlic smashed and minced
3 cups baby spinach
Coarse salt (sea salt or Himalayan)
Fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Organic jar tomato sauce (pasta sauce works)
Dash of onion powder and garlic powder
1 tsp raw local honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil or fat of choice
1 pound ground bison, beef or ground meat of choice

Place cauliflower on parchment lined baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and coat evenly with plenty of melted coconut oil.  Roast on 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Remove and set aside.

Heat fat in skillet on medium heat then add onion, dash of salt & pepper, cook 2 mins and then add bell pepper and garlic and cook a few more minutes or till starting to soften.
Add mushrooms and spinach and half a cup of roasted cauliflower and cook till juices incorporate

With a long sharp knife, cut around the core of the cabbage to loosen the leaves then remove each leaf.  It helps to run warm water between them as you go.  Pick out the best leaves for the rolls and place the “rejects” in the bottom of a glass 9 x 11 casserole pan.  These will help the rolls to stay soft and not burn. Also choose some of the larger outer leaves that you will use to place over top of the rolls so the top doesn’t burn either.

Place the remaining leaves in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil.  Let them cook for about 2-3 minutes so they are soft but not falling apart and then turn them out on to clean towels.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a sauce pan and add the jar of sauce, 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, dash of garlic and onion powder and teaspoon of honey.  Heat through on low heat.

Mix together a cup of the sauce and the meat in a bowl and season with salt and pepper and crushed red pepper.  Mix in the cooked vegetables.

Place 3/4 cup of the meat/veggie mixture on each cabbage leaf and roll up by folding in the sides and place in casserole dish.  Spoon sauce on top of each roll, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with remaining leaves.  Now they are all tucked in and cozy.

Bake at 375 degrees for half hour to 40 mins or until you notice it start to bubble a little.cabbage rolls (1)

Mix together a salad of  baby spinach, a tsp each olive oil &  red wine vinegar, dash salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and put on your serving plates.

While the cabbage rolls are baking, reheat the cauliflower for a couple of minutes.  When the cabbage rolls are done, take them out to rest.

Place cauliflower in food processor with 2 tablespoons of turkey or chicken broth and pulse till blended.

Top spinach with a cabbage roll and top the roll with more sauce, olive oil and vinegar if desired.  Put some mashed cauliflower on the side and serve.  Enjoy!Cabbage Roll with Mashed Cauliflower (1)

Hangry Husband & Paleo Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

We’ve all been there.  So hungry that it begins to affect our otherwise wonderful personality.  We steadily reach a point where we become angry, lashing out like a starving animal, ready to rip
the throat out of anyone that would stand in the way of us consuming the flesh of another animal.

This is known as “Hangry.”  Hangriness can affect us all.  Not just the ones who are hangry but also the loved ones of those that are hangry.  When more than one person per household is simutaneously in the throes of hangriness, the atmosphere can become quite volatile so it is best to avoid this situation at all costs.   This past Tuesday evening, hangriness hit my home and the afflicted individual was my husband.    The photo pictured above was just about the last straw for him because it was his god damned DINNER that I was getting in the way of!   This is why you will notice that this photo has that foreboding, dark and scary look to it and the meat is falling out.  I barely got the shot in before that hangry man ripped the cow sandwich away and wolfed it down.

Hangry!

Hangry!

I was like, holy shit man!  Have I been starving you?   After he ate, he was magically transformed back into prince charming.  image

If you have a hangry husband, or wife or child, I highly recommend these savory and satisfying Paleo Sloppy Joes and maybe starting dinner as early as possible.  Also, you can give your hangry loved one some nuts or raw veggies to calm that crazy beast and keep it occupied until dinner is ready.

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Paleo Pizza and Parenting Advice

 

My peeps and I were dying for some pizza!  Hadn’t had any pizza in months and even though I had been perfectly satisfied not having any bread or dairy, I still have a special place in my heart (and my stomach) for pizza.  It’s that combination of italian spices and tomatoes on a crispy but soft and chewy crust with some salty creaminess all hot and delicious that I missed.

So, I messed around with some recipes I saw on line for cauliflower crust and added my own little twist:  Pesto in the crust instead of cheese.  I thought the pine nuts, garlic, salt and oil would help make up some of the texture and flavor of cheese and I was really quite happy with the outcome.  A flour-less, cheese-less pizza that doesn’t taste like crap?  Yes Virginia, it really can be done!

Ta-Daaaa!  Paleo Pizza!
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Now wait a minute!  There’s cheese on that pizza!  Yes there is cheese on that pizza, but that is just my daughter Claire’s portion. Perhaps you think, like my husband, that I am being a bit of an indulgent softy, but I see this as a fair compromise.  She is eating a weird cauliflower

image crust pizza and not what most of her friends are having when they have pizza, so I am going to melt a little cheese on top to say “Thanks for keeping an open mind and eating this weirdo healthy pizza.” And seriously, we are talking about pizza, a party food.  It should be fun.  I’m not being a softy over important life lessons such as responsibility and character.  Some people who are probably just having cheese envy need to speak up and say that they want cheese too and I would totally make that happen.

I do wonder at times,  if when I am being strict, am I being too strict?  When I am being lenient, am I too lenient?    Parenting advice of the day:  Trust yourself!   You love your kids.  Your goal is to prepare them for the world and shape them into compassionate,  successful and self-reliant people.  You are getting them ready for the road and not trying to make the road ready for them.  It’s not being a doormat and a little indulgence here and there is not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s a good example of kindness and giving.  There needs to be a balance of doing little extras for your kids and teaching them that you matter too because it doesn’t help them to let them walk all over you.  So trust yourself and your kids will have confidence in you too.   Kids can totally sense if you are feeling weak and even though they are your little darlings, they are human and therefore will do what they can to get what they want, which is obviously not always what is best for them.   French parents have an expression that I really like which translates into “I am the one who decides.”  Sort of like our “Because I said so.”  except I believe this makes more sense to kids knowing that the parent is in charge.  So trust yourself.  Be kind.  Be in charge.

Back to the pizza.  Truth be told, my husband and older daughter, said the cheese-less portion of this pie wasn’t missing a thing.   They loved it and so did I.

Honesty is the best policy so I must say that if you don’t enjoy playing around with cauliflower and getting a great arm and chest workout from squeeeeezing water out of cauliflower for several minutes, then this recipe may not be for you but I really think you should try it at least once to decide for yourself because, well…………it’s PIZZA!

PALEO PESTO CRUST PIZZA

Stuff you will need:

Nut Milk Bag

Nut Milk Bag

 

2 heads of cauliflower
Nut Milk Bag – or clean dish towel but it’s a pain in the butt with a towel.

You can get a nut milk bag here:

http://www.elliesbest.com

2 eggs

Pesto (recipe below)

Bell Peppers – any and all colors
1 Yellow onion
appx 15 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1tbs dried oregano
splash red wine (optional)

This recipe is for the crust, sauce and topping but you could use whatever sauce and toppings you choose.

This is how you do it:

First, make your pesto. This can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

2 cups of packed fresh basil
1 tbs fresh parsley
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
2/3 cups olive oil

put everything except the olive oil in the food processor and pulse till blended.
Add a little olive oil and pulse till blended and then add a little more in this manner until a creamy pesto consistency.

Prepare Toppings:

  1. Cut the tops off the peppers and discard the tops and seeds
  2. Place them in a large pot of water and a sprinkle of salt
  3. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 5 mins or till soft
  4. Meanwhile slice up your onion to desired thickness. You can dice or have strips of onion if you prefer.
  5. When the peppers are soft, take out of the water and let rest a few minutes to cool.
  6. Slice them up into strips or dice if preferred.
  7. Heat some coconut or olive oil in a pan, add onion first and saute till softened about 5 minutes.  Add peppers, a sprinkle of kosher salt and sauté till heated through.
  8. Set aside.

Then to get things going for your sauce: (or save time and open a jar!)

  1.   Split each cherry tomato and squeeze out the seeds and extra juice and discard.
  2.   Add a tbs of olive oil to a non-stick sauce pan on med low heat.
  3.   Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat till soft.
  4.   Add the tomato paste and oregano and mix together
  5.   Use kitchen tongs to squeeze and stir the tomatoes occasionally as it cooks down into a sauce. Lower the heat a little and continue to squeeze and stir from time to time as you are making your crust.

  6.   At the end, add a splash of red wine and stir.

 

For the Crust:

  1.   Rinse and break apart both heads of cauliflower

  2.   One head at a time, put in food processor and pulse till it looks like rice

  3.   Put in a glass bowl covered in microwave on high 5 mins.

  4.   Let it cool about 5-10 mins.

  5.   Put all the cauliflower in you nut milk bag.

  6.   Squeeze out as much water as possible. You should get at least 1/3 cup of water. If you get more, keep going until you have as much out as possible.  This part is key to the crust coming out right.

  7.   Put all the cauliflower in a large mixing bowl.

  8.   Add the eggs, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper and stir.

  9.   Add about a 1/2 -3/4 cup of the prepared pesto and mix together.

  10.  Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet or round pizza pan and shape into desired shape with your hands or use a rolling pin lightly dusted with almond or coconut flour.

  11.  Brush with olive oil.

  12.  Bake for 15 mins on 450 degrees or till lightly browned.  image

  13.  Place sauce and toppings on the baked crust, drizzle with more olive oil and a little salt and crushed red pepper, fresh parsley and put back in the oven for 5-7 more mins.

Photography Disclaimer:

As you may have already guessed, I am new at the food blogging thing and my camera/photography doesn’t always do all this great food justice.  Thank you for visiting my page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hanger Steak with Asian Marinade, Broccoli, Cashews & Orange Dressing

imageDon’t you just love the weekend?  It’s that little slice of time where you think that you can do everything AND relax too.  We are silly aren’t we?  So this weekend, I am going to go to 3 different grocery stores AND the farmers market, catch up on all the laundry and housework, put up the christmas lights, spend quality time with my family, drive my kids all around the place, do some christmas shopping, cook amazing meals, write a new post on my blog, get together with a friend, go to the gym, clean out my car and my purse, color my hair, do the mail, make toothpaste, deoderant and laundry detergent, oh yeah AND I am going to have some time to sip tea and finish reading Grain Brain and The World According to Garp…. OKAY.  JUST WHO IN THE HELL DO I THINK I AM ALREADY?!   Seriously, there is no way I can do all of this stuff in just 2 days.  When I am elected president of the United States of America, I will make the work week be 3 days and the weekend be 4 days, but until that happens, I guess I will try to be more realistic.

So I made some choices.  The first thing I did was go to yoga because I knew that this would help me to calm the eff down and focus while stretching out my hamstrings.  The other thing that I did was to make a simple yet scrumptious steak and my peeps were all like, “This is good!”  “I love steak!”  So there’s 3 things accomplished right there.  Yoga, family time and steak.

Today I am hoping that I will get all the other stuff done, a chance to take a shower and to read,  yeah right.

 

Hanger Steak with Asian Marinade, Broccoli, Cashews & Orange Dressing

image

1.5 – 2 lb hanger steak (grass fed)
2 cups of broccoli, washed and cut into florets
1/2 cup of raw cashews toasted
2 tbs coconut oil or bacon fat
1 orange (half for dressing and half for garnish)

For the Marinade:
1/3 cup coconut aminos
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbs raw honey
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed and then minced
1 tbs fresh ginger minced
1 tbs finely chopped onion
dash each of kosher salt, pepper and crushed red pepper

For the Dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs raw honey
1 garlic clove smashed and minced
1 tsp fresh ginger minced
salt pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

1/4 tsp onion powder

juice from 1/2 orange
zest from 1/2 orange

Instructions:

First, make the marinade by combining all the ingredients, placing the steak in a glass baking dish, or large zip lock bag, poke some holes in the steak with a sharp knife and then pour the marinade on the steak, turn it a few times. Massage it in if using a bag.  Cover and either put it in the fridge for up to 10 hours, or just keep it on the counter covered for about an hour. I did the latter because I don’t have my shit together like that. If you can think ahead like that, then you’re awesome, but take the steak out an hour before so it can reach room temp before you cook it.

Next make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and set aside. Stir occasionally.

Next cook the broccoli by adding a tbs of the fat of your choice in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the broccoli, salt and pepper and turn it to coat and get a little warmed up. Reduce heat to low and cover. You can add a little water or a tbs of chicken broth if it needs some help cooking.

For the steak, heat a tbs of coconut oil or bacon fat in a large cast iron pan on medium heat. Use tongs to pick up the steak and let the marinade run off into the dish before placing in the pan. Discard the remaining marinade. Cook the steak for about 6 minutes on each side and then about 5 minutes on each side or to desired doneness.

While the steak is cooking is a good time to toast the cashews on a parchment lined baking sheet on 350 degrees for about 5 mins.

Place steak on a cutting board to rest a few mins and then slice against the grain.

Set up plates with the steak and broccoli and then pour some dressing over the whole thing, top with toasted cashews and garnish with a quarter of an orange.

When you serve it to your family, you can smile and say, “Orange you glad dinner’s ready?” They will laugh and say, “Oh Mom, you are so funny and witty and beautiful!” “I want to be just like you.” And then, you will get everything on your to-do list done with plenty of time to relax and enjoy some tea and a good book.

Or, if you are lucky, you will get some help cleaning up the dishes before someone needs a ride somewhere or money for something.

 

Pre and Post Workout Food. The Journey

Workout Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

What do you eat before and after a work out? I have discovered through trial and error that much depends on what type of exercise I am doing and when I am doing it.  For the most part, I work out early in the morning.  Most of my classes are at 5:30 a.m.  Some are at 7 a.m. and if I am able to adjust my schedule, I prefer to attend 9 a.m. classes or 11 a.m. classes when I can. So what in the heck do you eat at 5:00 a.m.?  That is really freaking early in the morning, right?!  It’s hard enough to get up that early much less eat anything.  It takes some getting used to and it is not really the ideal time for our bodies because sleep is so important for our health.  Not getting adequate sleep sets you up for a multitude of health issues, weight gain being one of them.   If you work out early like me, then be sure to be sleeping by 9:30 p.m.  The best schedule is to sleep when it is dark and to be active when it is light out.   However, if you work from 9-5 and/or have children who are in sports and activities in the evenings, and fitness is a priority for you or you just want some me time when no one else needs you for anything, you may find that the butt crack of dawn is the best time to work out.  You can gain a great sense of accomplishment by working out early and having your whole day ahead of you.  First thing in the morning you are your freshest and you haven’t been drained by your job or your kids or your family drama or some jerk face that cut you off in traffic or whatever your day may throw at you.  When I get up early to work out, I am literally putting myself first and everyone that depends on me benefits when I invest in my health and well being. At 5:00 a.m. before working out, I have a small amount of black coffee and maybe a couple bites of a banana.  The purpose of this snack is only to give me a little energy and to keep me from feeling hungry.  The coffee is stimulating and the banana or other fruit provide some quick energy.   I do not want a lot of food that early, especially for a boot camp class with burpees, high knees and running.  If you do a class like this in the evening, you should probably not eat any large meals a few hours before it.  I made the mistake of having a roast beef sandwich for lunch (BP – Before Paleo) and it was fighting back on me at 7 p.m.  Talk about burpees!  Keep your lunch light and have some fruit and nuts about an hour or more before.  Maybe a hard-boiled egg and an apple.

Blueberry Chia Pudding with blueberries and walnuts

Blueberry Chia Pudding with blueberries and walnuts

If it is a body pump class, which is a barbell class, that is later in the morning (9 a.m. or later), I will have a medium small breakfast about an hour to an hour and a half before the class starts such as chia pudding and fruit or 1 – 2 eggs and some greens and maybe a spoonful of almond butter or a few nuts.  I will have already been up for a few hours before the class starts so I need something more substantial to eat and because the class is not usually very aerobic, I am not worried about it staying down.

Grapefruit with raspberries, walnuts, almond milk, honey & ginger

Grapefruit with raspberries, walnuts, almond milk, honey & ginger

Most important for pre workout, especially if it is an early morning (5:30 or 6:00 a.m. workout)  is that you have eaten healthy and kept hydrated the day before. The one thing that I always do every morning, whether I am going to the gym or not, is as soon as I get out of bed, I have a glass of warm water (not hot, not cold, just warm) with 1/4 of a lemon squeezed into it.  The warm water and lemon together get things moving and flowing inside your body.  Lemon is a natural diaretic and is the perfect cleanse first thing in the morning.    Before you are sitting on a bike, or squatting with weights or running or doing high knees, don’t you want to have your bathroom business out of the way?  I know I do and the lemon water works like a charm.

The post work out meal is important because your muscles are most receptive to muscle building protein and complex carbohydrates within the first 15 mins to half hour immediately following your work out.   This meal will restore glycogen to your muscles and protein, which will help build that muscle, keep you from getting too sore and speed up your recovery time so that you can do it again sooner.  I still get sore sometimes and especially at times that I have increased the amount of weight I am using.

I have experimented with different post work out meals and found that a baked sweet potato (or 2 small ones) and 1 cup of plain chicken breast to be the best post workout meal for me because it has lots of protein and restores  glycogen to the muscles.   A banana is best before not after because this type of carbohydrate will only replenish the glycogen to your liver and not to your muscles.  The chicken is perfect because it is a very lean protein source.  It has about 44 grams of protein and if you eat it immediately with some water and the sweet potato you will be getting what I consider to be the perfect post work-out meal. The night before, I put a couple of sweet potatoes in the oven on 400 for about an hour.  Meanwhile,  I take a package of boneless skinless organic chicken, cut up into bite sized pieces and cook it in about a teaspoon per cup of chicken of coconut oil with a sometimes a little salt and pepper.  Then I put a cup of the cooked chicken in a glass container and when the potatoes are ready, I take them out, let cool a bit, wrap in foil and pack it all up for the morning.   I call this meal Work Out Chicken and Sweet Potatoes.  Depending on how many times you will need said Work Out Chicken and Sweet Potatoes, you can make a big batch and put it in separate containers for your week and use the rest for salads or other dishes. I actually eat the chicken and the sweet potato in my car after my pump class or boot camp.  Update:  I started peeling the baked sweet potatoes and just putting them right in with the chicken, because, duh! that makes sense and also I don’t eat the skin PWO since the fiber in the skin  will slow down absorption.

Embarrassing Car Picnic!

Embarrassing Car Picnic!

I know I look like a weirdo but whatever.  People see me having my little car picnic and I’ll admit I feel embarrassed but If I don’t eat right away, I will get really sore.   So pretty much this takes care of the post work out meal and my breakfast at once. I usually bring something to work with me for a late morning snack like some fruit and nuts or raw veggies or I make a green smoothie. If I am doing a 5:30 a.m. spin class, I don’t need to have this immediate post workout meal because that class is mostly aerobic and  doesn’t build up lactic acid like body pump which is mostly anaerobic.   Prior to the class, I will have half a small banana or a couple slices of apple and a little coffee.  I drink a water bottle during the class, refill it and drink another one on the way home.  When I get home,  I have breakfast, which is often a couple of eggs, avocado, and sauerkraut  on top of a small salad or some chia pudding with Maca.

Sauerkraut omelette with avocado and tomatoes

Sauerkraut omelette with avocado and tomatoes

Early morning yoga is my absolute favorite time to do yoga.  What a beautiful way to invigorate and wake up your body while calming and and clearing your mind!  I drink water during and after and when I get home,  I like to have a nice thick and delicious green smoothie that is packed with nutrient dense greens like kale, spinach, collards and arugula and also is thick and satisfying with healthy fats like avocado or sun butter.

kale & avocado smoothie

kale & avocado smoothie

Like I said, I have experimented with different post work out food.  A couple of times I had sardines after a pump class because I am gross.  No.  That’s not really why, but my 18 year old daughter, who was with me of course was totally grossed out and embarrassed that I would do something so weird in my car at 6:30 a.m.   Sardines are actually an excellent post work out meal but not the ones packed in olive oil because the fat will slow down digestion and your muscles will not be able to absorb the protein fast enough.  The same thing is true for nuts, steak and eggs with yolks.  Whey protein powders are great because you absorb them very quickly, but because they are obviously dairy and a processed food, they are not the best paleo post work-out food.  Many people like them best and they are very convenient, not embarrassing like Workout Chicken and not gross like sardines, but you need to select those carefully as many of them contain sweeteners and some of them are contaminated with heavy metals. Everyone is different and should experiment to see what works best for them.  You may find it impossible to eat anything at all at 5 a.m. and just have a sip of coffee or some water.  You may find you prefer the convenience of whey protein drinks for either before or after your work-out and wouldn’t be caught dead eating sardines in your car or perhaps you’re a little bit of crazy and like the idea of eating fish in your car as you watch the sun rise. Most important is that you do eat a lean protein and complex carbohydrate in that 15 minute to half-hour window after your work-out.  And remember to drink plenty of water all throughout the day.

It’s a process for me and  I am still thinking and re-thinking this part of my diet.

Okay so if anyone read all of that they really need to get a life but seriously, it really makes me happy if you did.   So it’s been about a year since I wrote the above and here is where I am at with regard to pre and post work out nutrition.

I am still eating a paleo diet.  I have decided that I am sick of being sore all the time and unable to work out as much as I need to in order to reach my fitness goals so…… I have added dairy back into my diet but only as nutritionally necessary.  Well, that’s a little lie because I had some cheese on my Chipotle salad, whatever.

Every morning first thing:  warm lemon water

Pre work out:  banana and coffee

During:  water mixed with BCAAs

After:  Protein shake:  Whey isolate and glutamine.

I have these supplements for all workout days including spin.

I also consume a small post work out meal of carbs and lean protein:  a sweet potato and about a half of a small chicken breast half, so about a quarter of a breast.

Then I drink more coffee because I just want to but I also drink lots of water all day long.  I aim to have about 60 ounces of water or about seven eight ounce glasses.  Dr. Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain recommends that you drink half your weight in ounces of water per day.  Water can be tea, coffee or water, etc.  In addition to the 7 glasses of actual water I have coffee and tea as well.

The first year of paleo I aimed to be as pure about it as possible, not because I was hoping to win a place in paleo heaven and be the queen of a paleo cult of which I am the only member but because I wanted to see what the long term affects would be on my body from it.  At this time, I am not concerned with being “perfect” at paleo, I am learning as I go and seeing what works best for my body.  So far, I am very happy with the supplements I am taking.  I am experiencing much faster recovery and I am not over eating because I have given my body the actual proteins it needs to repair and I don’t feel deprived.

In addition to the whey protein shake, I have been eating organic full fat plain yogurt as well as a breakfast or a snack.

Other supplements I have been taking for a while are fish oil, probiotics and turmeric.  All good for inflammation, which I have read is at the root of so many chronic health problems including digestive and joint pain.

Living and learning!