Paleo Pop Tarts! (Paleo, AIP, Nut-Free)

Of the many random topics we discuss at Crossfit Iron Will… the other day the debate of “Toaster Strudel versus Pop Tart” came up. I had to search back into my pre-gluten-intolerance days to add in my two cents. Who are we kidding though, Pop Tarts were one of my favorites, and I remember them like it was yesterday! Perhaps, because I made my own paleo version of Pop Tarts… 🙂

I will fore-warn you that these aren’t the easiest to make, (make sure you are’t in a time-crunch for best results) but they are definitely worth it if you’ve been craving a pop-tart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cassava flour (plus 1/4 cup for prepping)
  • 1/2 tsp. natural baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp. himalayan sea salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (solid)
  • 1 egg (plus 2 egg whites)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 TB. local honey
  • 1/3 cup strawberry rhubarb jam (or your choice of fruit preserves)

Instructions:

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees

-In a large mixing bowl combine cassava flour, baking soda and sea salt

-Add solid coconut oil to flour mixture and use your hands to work the coconut oil into the flour, the result will be small crumbles



-In another mixing bowl whisk together one whole egg, honey and water.

-Add the egg mixture into the flour and stir until no chunks remain and a sticky dough forms


-This is where the fun begins! The messier the better… on a clean surface (you can use parchment paper if you’d like but personally I have better luck straight on the counter top) throw down a bunch of cassava flour, and carefully roll out your dough into 1/4 inch thick layer

-Using a pizza cutter, cut rectangles in your dough and carefully transfer the bottom layer of rectangles to a parchment lined baking sheet


-Whisk egg whites in small dish and coat the bottom layers with egg white froth


-Then add your jam to the bottom layer of your pop tarts (you can decide how big or small to make them, in this case I made each about 2 x 1 inches which yielded 9 pop tarts)


-For the tops, make sure each rectangle is slightly larger than the bottom so the edges completely cover the jam and the bottom layer, coat the inside again with egg white before placing over the bottom layer

-Carefully pinch together the top layer to the bottom layer and finish each pop tart with 2-3 slits in the top to allow them to breathe in the oven

-Bake for 15-20minutes or until golden brown


-Let cool (or dont!) and add your favorite topping.. in my case I always enjoyed pop tarts with melted grass-fed butter on top…. YUMMM!!!


Don’t forget to share with your friends- you’ll forever be their hero! 🙂

Spicy Orange Chicken (Paleo)

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! I hope you day hasn’t been a series of awful events, mine has been pretty great… I had the day off from work, didn’t fall down hiking, haven’t run into any walls, didn’t burn down the kitchen… it’s one for the books! Anywho, as people are off to the races trying to stick to their “New Year’s resolutions” I wanted to throw a wrench into your gears and talk about finding balance.

Often in the beginning of the year you see an influx of people hitting the gym, starting new diets, chanting that “this is the year” they are going to make some fitness and nutrition goals and stick to them. But- what are your goals? Are they realistic? What’s kept you from attaining them before? If you have attainted them before why didn’t they stick? I feel like these are the questions we all dig to make excuses for, but ultimately they should be the number one thing you address when you start something new.

Setting goals is something everyone should do, going out and working towards them is wonderful! But keep in mind, you need to do so in a sustainable way. If you haven’t been to the gym in a year and decide to hit it hard for 5 days straight off the bat, you’ll likely find that your body has other plans, and let’s face it, who WANTS to go workout when you’re so sore you can’t get out of bed? Perhaps slow and steady is a better approach…

The same goes for diet changes. Say you sign up for a nutrition challenge, you dive in head first, throw out all of the sugary processed crap in your house, kill it for the first 3 days, and then come home late one night, realize you didn’t prep for dinner and are too hungry to wait, so out of desperation you order the quickest delivered pizza in town and then deem yourself a failure. Perhaps if you took some time to restock your cabinets with canned wild alaskan salmon or sought out places that make fresh healthy prepared meals you’d have a solution to that problem without falling off the diet-wagon for the night, or for good.

With that being said, should you have to be 100% strict on your conquest to being the healthiest, most fit version of yourself? Whats wrong with a taco here and there, a skipped gym visit, or a glass of wine? In my opinion, nothing.

I personally believe that if you want to make a lifestyle change STICK, it has to be sustainable, and to be sustainable, you can’t restrict yourself all the time. You can and SHOULD make better choices most of the time, but you also shouldn’t sacrifice a night out with friends, a family get together, or spend your whole vacation worrying about how your going to burn off the calories in that Pina Colada you just had. You only live once- and your journey to better yourself is a lifelong one, so take the time to plan out your new goals, conquer them, and celebrate with no regrets. Food for thought 🙂

And now to the part you’ve been asking for, the recipe! This is the second time I’ve made orange chicken and I think I finally got it right! Tell me what you think 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. chicken breast
  • 1 Tb. avocado oil
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced (*zest before juicing!)
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 Tb. fresh grated ginger
  • 3 Tb. tomato paste
  • 2 Tb. honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot
  • 1-2 Tb. sesame seeds

Instructions:

-Dice chicken into 1″ cubes

-Add avocado oil and chicken to a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook (turning once or twice) for 7-10 minutes until chicken is no longer pink inside

-While chicken is cooking combine orange zest, juice, coconut aminos, ginger, honey, salt, garlic, and red peper flakes

-Add sauce to the pan with chicken and simmer on low (stirring often to coat chicken) for 5 minutes or until the sauce reduces to about half

-Turn off heat and add arrowroot to thicken the sauce, toss thoroughly to combine

-Add sesame seeds to the chicken, pair with your favorite veggie and rice-variation and enjoy!

 

Apple Pie Tarts (Paleo, Egg-Free)

This past weekend I had an Olympic Weightlifting competition up in Concord, NH. It was a pretty small meet and I’m lucky enough to train with most of the people that were there so it was even more fun to compete with a bunch of friends! Some of the highlights of the trip were getting to see my roommate, Chelsea, and good friend Ryan partake in their first ever Oly meet. They freaking killed it and I couldn’t be more proud of them! Flashback to when I had my first meet and I couldn’t feel my legs and hit only 1/6 lifts, HA! Another highlight was crushing some non-paleo (but still gluten-free) pizza afterwards. I think its a rule that after you almost kill yourself trying to cut weight you’re allowed to consume whatever you want that isn’t going to kill you further 🙂 After this meet my coach and I decided it was time to move up a weight class anyways… sooo ALL the baked goods are coming your way!


Oh… and I wore a poop singlet for shits and giggles 😂😂!

Apple picking is one of my favorite things to do this time of year. But then of course there is the task of trying to eat all of those apples before they go bad! So here is a pretty easy and delicious apple pie tart recipe that I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 5 TB coconut oil, melted
  • 3 TB maple syrup
  • 2 TB almond milk
  • 1 1/2 TB vanilla extract

Filling

  • 2 TB grass-fed butter
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 1 TB apple cider
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large mixing bowl combine all crust ingredients and mix until fully incorporated
  • Grease a mini-cupcake pan (or if you want to get fancy use these tart tins) with coconut oil
  • Take 1-2 TB sized scoops of the crust mixture and press them into the tins to create a pocket for the filling, try to keep the thickness of the dough the same on the bottom and the sides
  • Once the dough is set, heat the butter for the filling in a large pan over medium heat
  • After the butter has melted add the apples and apple cider, cook down for 8-10 minutes or until the apples are soft
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the honey, lemon, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir to combine
  • Add 1-2 TB scoops of the filling to each tart crust
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown (I accidentally over cooked mine.. oops!)
  • Make sure to let the tarts cool for about 3-5 minutes before removing them from the pan, using a toothpick to loosen the edges and wedge them out is very helpful!

You can enjoy these as bite sized snacks or make them into a decadent desert by adding this simple whipped cream:

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whip using a hand (or stand) mixer.

Enjoy!!

two thousand sixteen

Wondering why I took such a long hiatus from blogging? Well… sometimes life happens. While I don’t believe in excuses, I do believe that at different times different things must become a priority.

The last few months of 2015 I ended up buying a house (yayyyy adulting!) For anyone who has been through this process you know how time consuming and stressful it is! Then you add the move, furnishing a new home, trying to grow your list of handy friends to help you when stuff goes wrong, etc. I’ll tell you its even more complicated when you do it without the help of someone else. While I bought this home with someone, that person didn’t put an ounce of effort into any part of it (red flag, if you are in a similar situation). This not only added daily workload stress, but also emotional stress. Long story short- I ended up finding out this person who I was with for 3 years had also been cheating on me. See that curb? It’s now your best friend- bye!! Silly me for not trusting my gut and realizing that anyone who isn’t putting in the same amount of time and effort as you are clearly isn’t worth having in your life. Lesson learned.

I have since refinanced MY house and have some amazing friends living with me. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and though I never wish hard times upon anyone, they often teach us things about ourselves that we likely wouldn’t have realized before. For instance, this was the first time in my life that I had gone through a pretty “devastating” event, and instead of feeling like my world was collapsing on top of me, I used it as fuel to propel myself forward. Let me reiterate: every panick-attack-inducing event in my life has been a huge trigger for me to revert to unhealthy ways of coping. This was the FIRST time I didn’t have ONE minuscule thought about breaking down in that way. A huge mental accomplishment for anyone who’s had a past of behavioral issues! I am thankful that I had the support of many, MANY, amazing people. I was almost overwhelmed with how easy it was for me to move forward initially, though my positive mindset started to fade after about a month or two when more changes occurred and I started to feel a bit lost.

At this time I was working a full time sales job which I enjoyed but it proved to be too inconsistent and at times very costly with the amount of traveling I was doing. My parents reached out for me for help at their store (and of course they wanted me to be around them to ensure I was OK) so i quit my sales job and started commuting back to eastern mass every week to work for them. At first this seemed fine- but then the combination of living in two places, not having any friends around my parents house, and being in a place where I had struggled in the past, seemed to get the best of me. I felt lost, confused, and like I wasn’t moving forward in my life. These things along with trying to “date” again and being let down over and over broke me down emotionally and I ended up relapsing(if you’re new to my blog you can refer to My Story for the background info).

If anyone knows me well, the standards I hold myself to are above and beyond, and to disappoint myself after the years of hard work I’ve put in only made things worse at the time. After some rocky weeks and a lot of friend-therapy I was able to finally forgive myself and start a new chapter. I’ve realized that the only person I can hold accountable for anything is myself, and well, I’m pretty fun and pretty great to spend time with. So this new chapter is pretty selfish- but in a good way. I’ve decided to devote my free time to the things that fulfill me. I have goals and things I want to accomplish in weightlifting. I have this passion for helping others- mentally, physically and emotionally. I love traveling and exploring. And last but not least I obviously enjoy cooking, baking, and making my personal journey accessible to others. I hope that you guys can forgive me for the inconsistency this past year- but it’s a goal of mine to keep sharing my story, recipes, accomplishments, downfalls, etc. in hopes that it resonates with some of you and may help to know that no matter what direction life brings you in, you are in control and you can change it for the better.

Now-stay tuned. Fall is the BEST time for baking and you don’t want to miss all the apple and pumpkin deliciousness that will be coming your way! 🙂

Photo by EricGovePhotography 

Monkey Fuel Bars

Hey everyone! Long time no post, and a long explanation will be heading your way soon, but for now I wanted to pick up right where I left off with a recipe using one of my favorite substitute ingredients: Fuel For Fire.

If you haven’t heard of FFF before, you’re welcome! It’s simply a delicious packet of fruit and protein. I regularly use these packets as pre/inta/post-workout snacks but have come to find out that they are a great baking substitute as well! If you don’t believe me, here’s your chance to try it yourself 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 overripe banana
  • 1 Fuel For Fire Banana Cocoa
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3 TB coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2oz dark chocolate, melted (topping)


    Instructions:

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Add banana, fuel for fire, almond butter, eggs and coconut oil in a large bowl and mash/mix until fully incorporated
    • In a separate bowl mix almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and sea salt
    • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until no chunks remain
    • Pour batter into greased (use coconut oil) 8×8 baking dish (I made a 1/2 recipe and used this amazing baking pan to make the mine)

    • Bake for 17-18 mins, let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
    • Once cool, melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or double boiler

    • Drizzle chocolate over each square (I use wilton decorating bags to help with this) and pop them in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has cooled and solidified again

      Then enjoy!! These make a great “real food” pre or post workout snack containing a pretty balanced amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates! I’ve used FFF for a substitute for bananas, apple sauce, mashed potato, pumpkin puree, mostly anything that is used as a binder. The bananas add a bit more texture but the results are equally delicious either way. I made this recipe without bananas because… I didn’t have any! It pays to think outside the box sometimes, especially when you regularly stock up on things like Fuel For Fire! Check them out!

      Apple & Cherry Stuffed Pork

      Pork has been on sale at River Valley Market for a few weeks now. Depending on when I’m able to get there I usually stock up on whatever is a good deal! Most of their meats are locally sourced, pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free- so the good news is you can’t really go wrong there! Same for the butcher shop in Northampton: Sutter Meats. Everything there is top of the line, although it’s a little more expensive so I tend to just get specialty items there like marrow bones.

      Anywho, the last few times we’ve eaten pork chops the recipes have been super basic: grilled, seasoned and baked, etc. So today I wanted to change things up a bit. I’ve stuffed pork chops with all sorts of things, but growing up I HAD to have applesauce with my pork so for me, pork and apples are like peanut butter and jelly. When I was thinking of other ingredients to add to the mix I quickly shuffled through the usual suspects like pears, bacon, cranberries, and decided to try out cherries! For shits and giggles I googled stuffed pork recipes and what do you know- I definitely wasn’t the first one with this idea!

      PaleOMG popped up as one of the first recipe links so I happily followed her recipe (with a few variations) and it came out pretty darn good! Heres what I used:

      Ingredients:

      • 4-6 thick cut pork chops
      • 1 medium apple, cored and finely diced
      • 3/4 cup red cherries, pitted and finely diced
      • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2 TB coconut oil
      • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
      • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
      • salt and pepper to taste

      Instructions:

      -Preheat oven to 400 degrees

      -In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in 1 TB of coconut oil until translucent

      -Add the apple, cherry, cinnamon, garlic powder and cloves to the skillet an cook until soft, about 6 minutes

         

       -While stuffing is cooking cut pockets in the pork through the fatty side of the meat, be careful not to chop off a finger or cut through to the other side!

      -Season the outside of the pork chops with salt and pepper then stuff them with as much yummy goodness as possible

      -Place stuffed chops on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes

      -Then enjoy!

        
       

       

       

       

      Pumpkin Bacon & Chive Biscuits (Paleo, Nut-Free)

      You might be wondering where I have been the last 9 months… and to answer that in one word, I have been BUSY! There have been a boatload of changes: bought a house, had to buy a new car, started a new full time job while still maintaining two other part time jobs. It’s been a little hectic to say the least. But I am happy to be back and although I haven’t had the time to make many new recipes myself, I wanted to share some that I have enjoyed making and munching on while I’ve been MIA.

      These biscuits are brought to you by The Urban Poser whose blog I peruse quite often to find tasty recipes! So without further ado:

      Pumpkin Bacon & Chive Biscuits (Nut, Dairy and Gluten-Free)

      Ingredients:

      • 3-4 Strips of Bacon, cooked until crispy
      • 1/2 Cup melted fat (Bacon grease works great here!)
      • 1/2 Cup + 2 TB coconut flour
      • 3/4 tsp baking soda
      • 1/4 tsp sea salt
      • 1 TB apple cider vinegar
      • 1/2 Cup  pumpkin puree
      • 3 large eggs
      • 1/2 Cup finely chopped fresh chives (substitute: green onions)

      Instructions:

      -Preheat oven to 350 degrees

      -In a large bowl combine the coconut flour, baking soda and salt

      -In a separate bowl whisk together the cooking fat, vinegar, eggs and pumpkin puree until combined.

      -Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry ingredients then add finely chopped bacon and chives

      -Using a 1/4 cup measure, gently pack and drop the biscuits onto a parchment lined baking sheet

      -Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges start to crisp

      -Allow biscuits to cool for about 5 minutes and then enjoy!

      IMG_2957

      Surf & Turf Stuffed Summer Squash (Paleo, AIP, LowFodmap, 21DSD)

      I am starting to feel myself again after having some time off from one of my jobs and from weightlifting. Not to say those were the issues but it has given me some time to really reflect on things and organize my life. This morning at physical therapy I was finally able to play with a barbell again and given the “OK” to add some lifting back in! I plan on taking my time and really focusing on improving my form, technique, stability and mobility so I don’t end up back where I started. Every time I injure myself I take it as a learning experience and use it to grow stronger and more aware of my body’s capacity. I tend to get so wrapped up my goals that I overlook smaller details in my training that need attention. This past week was quite humbling and a good reminder that I am still recovering from years of being sick and treating my body like crap. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and having strong foundations inside and out is without a doubt the most important. 

      I won’t bore you with too much blabbering about myself today, but stay tuned for an update of my bio within the next week or two. I left it with a little bit of a cliffhanger because I wasn’t sure that I was ready to share my full story at the time. But after the loss of a friend who was a big influence on my life and ultimately some of the reason why I am where I am today, I feel compelled to share in hopes that it might reach some people that are struggling or have struggled with the same issues that I have and give them a glimmer of hope.

      Anyways, to lighten up the rest of this post lets get to the recipe! This is based off of my all time favorite recipe from the 21 Day Sugar Detox . If you don’t own the books or haven’t tried the detox, you need to! I can honestly say that through many years of being Paleo I always continued to struggle with an addiction to sugar. It’s one of those things that is INCREDIBLY hard to shake, probably harder than smoking although I’ve never smoked so I can’t compare personally, but the withdrawals are real! Once you realize that you don’t need sugar for energy, your body can start to fuel itself properly and you will get a whole new and sustainable level of energy!

      Ingredients:

      • 4 large zucchini or summer squash
      • 1 TB. cooking fat (I used coconut oil)
      • 1 celery stalk, minced
      • 1 medium carrot, shredded
      • 1/2 medium onion, diced
      • 2 TB. coconut aminos
      • 3-5 drops fish sauce 
      • 1/4 cup scallions, diced
      • 1 cup shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
      • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
      • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
      • Sea salt and black pepper

      Instructions:

      -Preheat oven to 350 degrees

      -Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out as much of the insides as possible (the more you scoop out the more room for stuffing!!)

        

      -Place the squash face down on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes (depending on thickness) until they are easily pierced by a fork on the inside

      -While the squash cooks, melt the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium heat 

      -Dice the remaining squash and add it to the skillet along with the onion, carrots, celery, coconut aminos, fish sauce, salt and pepper

        
        

      -Satuee veggies for 5 minutes then add minced shrimp, ground beef, minced ginger and scallions to the skillet

      -Continue cooking until the shrimp are pink and the ground beef is browned

        
      -Remove squash from oven when fully cooked and flip them over on the pan

      -Stuff each squash as much as possible! Then broil them in the oven for 2-3 minutes until they are nicely bribes in top

      -Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and some more diced scallions and enjoy! 

        
      Notes: The recipe in the 21 DSD cookbook is called “cabbage-wrapped dumplings”. Diane gives a recipe for a delicious sauce to top these with but I will keep that a secret… Grab the book to find out!😜

      Also- to make this lower FODMAP leave out the white onions and add more scallions. 

        Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (Paleo)

        Well I have some exciting news to share with you all today! I am now officially the nutrition coach for the North East Grid League Springfield Musketeers! If you aren’t familiar with the Grid League, it’s basically crossfit taken to the next level. Teams are drafted and combined to showcase some of the best athletes and their respective strengths. Similar to football in many ways, it gives athletes to really capitalize on what they are good at in a competitive setting. It’s fast paced and uber fun to watch! If you don’t believe me check it out for yourself!

          
        More info to come on that topic, but for now, if you are in the Weatern Mass area come down to Crossfit Swarm on Saturday, June 13th and come chat with me and try some of my delicious treats! I will have a booth at their 80’s themed competition. Should be a great day! 

        In other news this will be the third week of my local farm share delivery from Forty Acres Farm in Granby, MA. I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with some new veggies and cuts of meat! I highly reccomend investing in a local farm share. There is no better way to support local farms and receive the freshest meat and produce possible! Not to mention you can trust that you are getting a high quality product. I suggest visiting the farm and getting to know the farmer. Patrick Benson is the owner and farmer at Forty Acres Farm and be only does he do everything pretty much himself but he is super knowledgable, kind, welcoming, and hardworking. He gave me the tour of of farm even before seeds were really sprouting but was able to express his passion for organic, sustainable farming practices as well as pasture raised meats. His animals are also halal raised and humanely slaughtered. He takes great pride in his products, as he should, they have been outstanding! 

        The first week we got a bunch of rhubarb, which I have surprisingly never used before! I  was eager to make various rhubarb treats but unfortunately most of them needed some tweaking to be at my standards. This jam, however, came out great! I’m thinking it will be perfect to use as a filling or spread on cupcakes, cakes, muffins or maybe even some paleo bread if you have some lying atound! 😜

        ingredients:

        • 1.5 cups local rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
        • 1.5 cups organic strawberries, hulled and cut in half
        • 1/3 cup local raw honey 
        • Juice of 1 lemon

        Instructions:

        -Combine all ingredients over medium heat in a large, thick bottomed pot

          

          
        -Simmer for 15-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing fruit with fork until the jam starts to thicken to desired consistency

          
        -Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy! 

          
        Jam can be kept in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. It can also be frozen in an airtight container.