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 🙂


  • 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


-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!


Parsnip and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Thighs (Paleo, AIP, 21DSD)

Sometimes life likes to throw everything at you all at once, for me this happens quite often. As much as I feel like I handle multiple tasks well, the body isn’t made to be in a constant state of overdrive. If you think about the human lifestyle before the modern convenience of homes, cars, grocery stores and etc, humans hand to find a way to survive and thrive on their own. Hunting and gathering were tasks that involved much walking, short bursts of high intensity movement, and selectively expending energy if the payoff was greater than the loss. Humans slept when the sun went down and woke when the sun came up. They had to expend enough energy each day to achieve deep restorative sleep each night, they couldn’t rely on coffee and energy drinks to get them moving in the morning. The human body works the same way as it did back when life was simply about survival.

When the body is in a state of heightened alertness, it is in fight or flight mode. Essentially your body is turning up its senses and getting ready to react to whatever situation may arise. In this state, the focus is on survival, all other processes like digestion are slowed so the body can react quickly. Your body enters the fight or flight stage more often then you think, this response can be triggered by daily deadlines, important phone calls, incoming bills, making big decisions, or simply running late for work. Most of us live in this state quite often, and even though it may not trigger a panic attack or extreme anxiety that being chased by a bear would elicit, the effect on your body remains the same.

In addition to living in a world where the daily hustle exists in almost everyone’s lives, we tend to stack harmful behaviors against our bodies by not getting the proper quantity or quality of sleep. Sleep is the only anabolic state for the body… deep sleep, that is. Being awake is a catabolic state, meaning our bodies are breaking down daily and the only way to restore and replenish them is by getting DEEP sleep! Can you see how this would be important? Deep sleep is also known as stage 3 and 4, Non-REM, during this stage you typically do not have dreams. Your body can only make growth-hormone when you sleep, and it’s also smart enough to only make this available at night. if you think you can outsmart your circadian rhythm and sleep whenever you feel like it and reap the same benefits, you are sadly mistaken.

Recognizing the importance of getting adequate sleep and spending large parts of the day in rest-and-digest mode instead of fight-or-flight is the first step. Doing so in such a fast-paced modern world presents its own challenges. While I am doing my own experimentation on learning how to find the proper balance to support my body, learning and listening to other people’s methods of relaxation is always helpful. I have recently tuned into a few new podcasts. I highly recommend listening to episode #51 from the Total Human Optimization podcast called Sleep Smarter with Shawn Stevenson. (Thank you Rick for recommending that one!) There are also some great talks on the Underground Wellness Podcast, and tune into the Functional Wellness Summit that will be available to listen to for FREE from April 14-21st, all you have to do is enter your e-mail to receive the link to the interviews. There is always more to learn and educating yourself is the best way to start living a better life.

Now for the recipe! This is another one that came out of the “whatever is in my kitchen” approach, but I have to say its savory, satisfying and delicious! Oh, and its pretty easy! Try it out 🙂


  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thighs (I used skinless but you could also leave the skin on!)
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 package of sugar-free bacon
  • 2 cups spinach
  • sea salt
  • poultry seasoning


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a large skillet, cook 2 slices of bacon until crispy.

-In the microwave or on the stove, steam parsnips until you can easily pierce them with a fork and mash them until no large chunks remain


-When bacon is cooked remove it from the skillet and add the spinach, sauté until spinach is wilted

-Chop the crispy bacon into 1/4 inch pieces and add it to the mashed parsnip

-Add the cooked spinach to the parsnips also, mix to combine ingredients


-Season the inside and outside of the chicken thighs with salt and poultry seasoning

-Place a large scoop of the parsnip mixture in the center of each chicken thigh and wrap with an uncooked slice of bacon (use a toothpick to secure the bacon if needed)


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

-Turn the oven to HI broil and cook for 2-4 minutes, flipping halfway so the bacon cooks on all sides


-Remove from oven and serve! Yum!


Hidden Liver Bacon Meatballs (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

I hope everyone had a great Easter! I spent my day working at Jake’s and baking most of the evening. I did, of course, miss seeing my family and my boyfriend’s family but I plan to see them all another time soon! This past Saturday I had a great Primal Treats and Eats tasting at my home gym, Crossfit Iron Will. It was the last day of the Lurong Paleo Challenge and I was super impressed by everyones improvements and overall results. I love the paleo challenges because it motivates people to try paleo and stick to it for a certain amount of time. Obviously not everyone is successful in staying on track, but at the very least it helps people develop the skills to live a healthier lifestyle. I wish everyone would take these skills and continue on with the paleo diet and lifestyle after the challenges, but if they don’t then I hope they were successful enough during the challenge to see and feel the difference in their body when it is properly nourished. (Here’s where I will remind everyone that gluten remains in your system for about 14 days… if you can’t go 2 weeks without consuming gluten then you will never know how great your body can feel without it!)


Here’s a shot of my setup at CFIW! I love being able to provide people with paleo treats! I do, however, know that treats are treats, and they aren’t meant to be binge eaten just like conventional processed crap. I take pride in making sure all of my treats have only the highest quality, organic, locally sourced (when possible) and nutrient dense ingredients. These are intended to be consumed as treats! They are perfect for special occasions, for a quick boost of energy, and as a reward for a long week of hard work. I bake them because I find that there aren’t many (if at all) good options for paleo treats, and they have become part of a modern lifestyle. I also happen to really enjoy creating beautiful, delicious and nutrient dense treats, and the same goes for meals. Paleo can be fun, interesting, exciting, and challenging if you commit yourself to it. It can also be pretty darn easy! It is what you make of it, and I hope that more people start to realize that you only have things to gain when you switch to a paleo lifestyle.

Today I wanted to share this awesome recipe that I created to work on incorporating more organ meats into my daily life. Organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense foods out there, and it’s a shame that people get so irked by them! I love liver pate but I wanted to make a recipe that incorporated liver and could appeal to a larger group of people, including kids! I think these tasty bacon-wrapped meatballs might be the key, try it out and let me know what you think!


  • 2 lbs. grassfed ground beef
  • 3-4 chicken livers, diced into 1/4 inch chunks
  • 1 package of sugar-free bacon (if your having a hard time finding this try US Wellness meats or Pete’s Paleo)
  •  2. TB arrowroot
  • 1 TB. dried rosemary, finely ground
  • 1 TB. dried thyme
  • 1 TB. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. himalayan sea salt
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except for bacon and mix until well incorporated

-Form meat mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and wrap a half a slice of bacon around each

-Place meatballs in a large rimmed baking dish, with the ends of the bacon slices tucked under the meatballs


-Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 5 more minutes

-Remove from oven to flip back over so the bacon is on top and turn oven to broil

-Return meatballs to oven for 3-5 minutes until bacon is crispy (make sure to leave the oven cracked open when broiling or else the meatballs will be overcooked

-Let cook for a few minutes and then enjoy!


Notes: I like chicken livers because they have a more mild taste than beef liver. I have not tried beef liver in this recipe yet but once I do I will update this post with the results! Also, make sure you are using high quality chicken livers, just like the rest of the meat from the animal, organs of poorly fed and maintained animals should be avoided! Look for locally sourced, organic, pasture raised chickens without hormones or antibiotics. If you live in western mass check out Sutter Meats or River Valley Market if you can’t get to a local farm. If you have a meat grinder feel free to use that to grind up the liver. If not, a sharp knife will work just fine. Also- If you are not avoiding FODMAP’s try adding some sautĂ©ed onions and grated garlic to the meatballs! Yum!

Not Your Average Pizza (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

What better way to celebrate the end of my first Crossfit Open than with some pizza?! Don’t worry I kept it paleo, of course. I know I haven’t posted much at all lately so I’ll use this post to briefly sum up my workouts and experience.

Out of the 5 Open’s workouts I ended up doing 15.1 and 15.3 scaled. I chose to do them scaled because I was coming back from an injury and a reoccurring pinched nerve in my neck. When the opens began I couldn’t hold anything overhead with snatch grip without excruciating pain in my right trap, and the muscle that I pulled in my back was at about 85%. Prior to the opens I had been doing strictly squats (I followed the Smolov Jr. squat program) to let my back and shoulder heal. My mindset going into the opens was to listen to my body and only do things that wouldn’t put me at risk for re-injury. Looking back I think I made the right decisions in deciding which workouts I had to do scaled, but I also know that I am capable of doing them RX’d and plan on taking them on again in the future.

The last two workouts were mentally challenging for me. 15.4 was the only workout I did twice. The first time I attempted 15.4 I hadn’t done a handstand pushup in… months. Even when I did do them in the past I wasn’t very good! I hadn’t practiced before the workout, I was coming off of a long week of work and I was mentally and physically pretty exhausted. I ended up struggling so bad with the HSPU that I only got 6 reps total. For some reason I just couldn’t figure out how to get my feet to hit the wall and stay there! It was the first workout were I have ever felt defeated. The next day I came into the gym and got some lessons on HSPU technique from Heath, the owner of our gym, which helped tremendously. The following monday I attempted the workout for the second time with Heath as my judge, who carefully planned out when I should make HSPU attempts and how long I should rest to be successful at those attempts. I ended up with a score of 15 which is more than double my first attempt. Still nothing to write home about but it was a mental accomplishment for me and it helped give me some perspective on how to navigate workouts like that without getting frustrated.

The last workout of the Opens was a doozy. With there only being a few movements left to choose from, its no surprise that it was thrusters and rowing! A little background on my history with those movements: rowing drains the living daylights out of me, and thrusters give me flashbacks to the first (and only) time I did Fran, as the final workout of a competition that I completely bombed… It also happened to be when my back was still injured and all I remember was pain and embarrassment. So, if you could catch my drift, this is one workout I was not looking forward to. On the bright side, I took the lesson I learned from 15.4 and tried applying it to this workout by taking friday and saturday to work on thrusters, improve my technique, and put some time in on the rower. When Monday rolled around I felt slightly better about the workout but I still had anxious thoughts that I was battling. I went into the workout with a planned rep scheme that ended up going out the window as soon as I started the thrusters but my overall goal was to stay calm and keep the thrusters feeling strong. I ended the workout in 13:38. Overall I am glad its over and also very thankful to have had a great coach (thanks Alice!) who helped keep me calm and focused.

At the end of the day I have learned a lot of lessons from this Open competition! I still have a long ways to go and many things to work on, including my own anxiety when it comes to competition and things that I am not that good at. I came in 2,134 out of 11,255 women in the North East region, not bad for my first opens, room to grow for sure. I am looking forward to seeing how much I can improve in a year, starting with getting stronger!

Now, back to that whole pizza thing. This recipe was based off of some delicious cabbage wrapped dumplings that I made from the 21 day sugar detox cookbook. Its essentially a deconstructed dumpling on top of a crispy, crunchy, nut and egg-free crust.


For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca or arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 TB. coconut oil
  • 1-2 TB. water
  • 1 TB. italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • (optional add-ins if you aren’t worried about FODMAP’s: 2 TB. onion, finely chopped and 2 cloves of garlic)

For the toppings:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups red cabbage, chopped and steamed
  • 2 TB. coconut aminos
  • 4 drops fish sauce
  • 2 TB. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • pepper to taste


-Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place your cast iron skillet in oven to heat up

-While oven is heating, steam cabbage and grate carrots and zucchini with a box grater or mandolin



-In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt coconut oil and sauté carrots and zucchini for 2-3 minutes

-Add pork and chicken or turkey, coconut aminos, fish sauce, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until no pink remains in the meat


-While meat is cooking, prepare the crust

-In a small pot heat coconut oil, coconut milk, water and salt until warm

-Add the wet ingredients to the flour in a large bowl and kneed with your hands to combine

-Add in italian seasoning and continue mixing until a large ball of dough forms (you may need to add some extra water)


-Remove *PIPING HOT* cast iron skillet from the oven and very carefully roll out the dough into a large crust in the pan. I usually keep my oven mits on when doing this to ensure that i don’t burn my hands


-Then add steamed cabbage and meat toppings and bake in 500 degree oven for 12-15 minutes

-Cut and enjoy!



Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup (Paleo, AIP, 21DSD)

This week has finally slowed down for me after many hours of work and baking! I had a great tasting at Crossfit Wingman in Agawam, MA last night during their Friday Night Lights 15.5 throwdown. If you live in western mass you should really check out their gym, they did a great job setting it up and have a whole PRx pro shop with lots of cool stuff to boot! Thanks again, CF Wingman for having me!


Speaking of tastings… next Saturday I will be setting up at my home gym, Crossfit Iron Will in Ludlow, MA from 11-1. If your in the area and want to try out some delicious paleo treats feel free to stop by!

Now, isn’t it supposed to be spring? It sure didn’t feel like it today with the snow showers! Got to love new england. Anyways, what better dish to have to warm you up than chicken noodle soup? This is one of my favorite dishes, any time of the year!

There are a few steps to this recipe, including cooking a whole chicken. You don’t have to use a whole chicken to make amazing chicken noodle soup but if your like me and your life runs a lot smoother with lots of leftovers, I suggest going for the biggest chicken you can find! Also, using the whole chicken ensures that you get a rich, fatty, delicious broth.. highly recommended.


  • 1 whole chicken, organic free range is best!
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TB. thyme
  • 1 TB. parsley
  • 1 TB. oregano
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli


-Combine thyme, parsley, oregano, turmeric, salt and pepper in a small bowl

-Rub herb mixture all over the chicken then place the chicken in the crockpot

-Pour any remaining herb mixture into the crockpot

-Add chopped carrots and water to the crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours


-When the chicken has an hour left, preheat the oven to 400 degrees

-Halve the spaghetti squash, remove the guts and seeds and place it face down on a baking sheet

-Bake spaghetti squash for 45-60 minutes or until the squash can easily be pulled off the skin


-When the chicken is done cooking scoop out the carrots and start pulling the chicken


-Once all the meat and carrots are removed strain the broth into a large pot

-Add the pulled chicken, carrots, steamed broccoli and spaghetti squash to the pot and heat until lightly boiling (if they are not hot enough already!)

-Scoop and serve!


Chicken Garden Burgers (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

This week has been a long one for me but overall I feel pretty good and am looking forward to having a day off tomorrow to catch up on life and relax… well, after I do the Opens WOD, that is! More talk on that tomorrow after I do the workout.


15.2 Chest to Bars

I met up with my naturopathic doctor this week to talk about my health progress so far and to formulate a plan going forward. The good news is that I can start reincorporating things back into my diet (YAY)! The bad news is that doesn’t include coffee… yet. Not that I need coffee to function, I have actually had quite a bit of energy with no caffeine for quite some time now, but I just generally love coffee. Anyways, I am excited to be on the greener side of my healing process and hope that I can maintain my health and continue to improve. I am still waiting on my lab results to see just how far I have “reversed” my autoimmune disease but seeing as my psoriasis is FINALLY starting to go away (after YEARS and YEARS of torture!) I believe the results will be good. Fingers crossed.

Anyways, I had planned to make some turkey burgers for dinner tonight but I ended up accidentally defrosting ground chicken instead so here is my spur of the moment chicken garden burger recipe that came out quite nicely!


  • 2 lb. ground dark meat chicken
  • 1/4 cup shredded jicama
  • 1 cup finely chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients

-Form into 7-8 burger patties


-Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat

-Sear burgers for about 5 minutes per side


-Then transfer the whole skillet to the oven and bake for 8 minutes or until no pink remains



Notes: you can certainly grill these if you would like, but they are more delicate than beef and turkey so I would make sure to oil the grill to ensure that you don’t lose some burger when flipping them! I served them with parsnip buns. To make these I simply cut a (giant) parsnip into 1/4 inch slices and pan fried them in bacon fat until they were soft.

Orange Chicken Meatballs (Paleo, AIP, LowFODMAP, 21DSD)

The hard part of my week is officially over, I finished the Smolov Jr. squat program today and will be testing my back squat next week to see how I have improved. Honestly if I hit my max of 205 again with better form I will be happy with that! The only thing I have left this week is the opens WOD tomorrow. Chest to bar pull-ups and overhead squats… I actually really like the format of the workout but those movements are still pretty questionable for my almost-healed back and pinched nerve that affects my right trap (especially overhead). So, here I am again stuck between the fact that I know I can do the workout RX’d but not sure if thats the best choice for my physical health at this point in time. I plan on trying to mash the crap out of my traps tonight and hope to be feeling good in the morning.

Anyways, I got a bunch of ground dark meat local chicken at the coop the other day and wanted to take another shot at making orange-glazed chicken so here it goes!


For the Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 TB. arrowroot
  • 1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a large bowl combine all of the above ingredients and mix well

-Form meat mixture into 2 inch balls and place on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet

-Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway



For the Orange Glaze:

  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 tsp. ginger, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 TB. apple cigar vinegar
  • 1 tsp. arrowroot


-In a large bowl combine the orange juice, coconut aminos, ginger and vinegar

-Bring liquid to a low boil then simmer for 5 minutes

-While whisking continuously, slowly add the arrowroot until sauce reaches desired consistancy (this is important to do slowly or else the arrowroot will clump and the sauce will not thicken!)

-When meatballs are done, toss them in this delicious sauce and serve!


Ginger Citrus Drumsticks (AIP, LowFODMAP, Paleo, 21dsd)

Today was a great day overall. I got up around 5am to feed the hungry beast, aka our kitten Murph, who as you can see from the pic below, looks like he could be part leopard!


After a fun warm up of cleaning the snow off of my car I headed east to meet my mom at the barn to ride my horse. It’s always a good day when I can hang out with my mom and play with my horse while getting some fresh air! From there I went up to CF Home Base in Canton to participate in Nikita’s olympic weightlifting seminar. Note to anyone that is interested in getting better at Olympic lifting: if you EVER have a chance to lift or simply watch Nikita, do it!! He is an outstanding coach and I learn so much every time I lift with him. Today’s seminar was light and technique based, which was perfect for me as a refresher since I haven’t been lifting due to a pulled muscle in my back. I was pleasantly surprised that I felt pretty good with the exception of the front rack position… a few more weeks of recovery and I will be back at it.

From there I headed back west after stopping at whole foods to grab some ingredients for tonight’s dinner. I usually go for whatever good quality meat is on sale, but there wasn’t much that fell into that category today so I went with chicken drumsticks which I haven’t had in a while.

When most people think of chicken “wings” they often think of a crispy fried wing tossed in a thick BBQ or buffalo sauce. While I have made a delicious AIP BBQ sauce before, I wanted to try something new tonight.


  • 2-3lbs. chicken drumsticks
  • Juice + zest of 1 lime (or half a lemon)
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 TB. coconut oil
  • 2 TB. coconut aminos
  • 3 TB. water
  • 1 TB. minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. cilantro


-Blend together all ingredients except the chicken and cilantro

-Add marinade to chicken wings in a large bag or bowl, then add cilantro. Mix well and let soak in the fridge for at least 30 minutes

-Heat oven to 400 degrees

-Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil and put a wire rack on top

-Place drumsticks on the rack and bake for 40min, flipping halfway

-Switch the oven to broil and and continue cooking for 4-6min until crispy, turning to get all sides


The setup and the finished product, paired with some balsamic brussels and sweet potato fries