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… πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!

 

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! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!

      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. 

        White Velvet Hash (Paleo, AIP)

        Hey everyone! I apologize for neglecting my blog lately I have just been consistently wrapped up in too many things! It’s definitely gotten to me as my adrenals are telling me they can’t keep up. Between long hours of work, cooking, baking, personal training, lifting, WODs, and now physical therapy, there just isn’t enough time in the day! Lucky for my readers and for myself I have decided to (and been forced to) make some changes in order to restore my health once again and to get back to doing the things that make me happy (like THIS!).

        For those of you that know me, I continue to struggle with spinal issues. It’s a work in progress and at this point it just one thing after another, but I hope that eventually my troubles will be much farther and fewer between. Most currently I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my lumbar spine that was causing muscle weakness in my right leg and subsequent knee pain because my right leg was failing to get into the proper position. Since I went back to Physical Therapy (shout out to ProEX in Springfield for being amazing!) I have seen a HUGE improvement in my right leg. In fact I ended up getting a PR on my snatch a few days into PT. On the downside, the pain has since centralized itself to my lumbar spine which is far more uncomfortable than my knee! It’s a process that needs to happen though, and since i have had back pain I have been advised to cease all activity that compresses the spine…. It doesn’t take long to realize that cuts out mostly everything besides a few specific exercises. Luckily I should be able to get back to lifting in about 2 weeks or once the pain is gone. Until then I’m all about them core exercises! And my compex, which has super helpful in muscle recovery and also has strength settings so I don’t feel like I am doing NOTHING for the next 2 weeks!

          
        On the plus side, my relatively nonexistent workout load gives me some much needed time to let my creative wheels turn again in the kitchen! (I’m sure my boyfriend will be happy about this because I’ve been cooking the most basic and uninteresting things lately! lol… sorry Mickey!) Some of you might have seen my recipe for Red Velvet Hash, which was AH-mazing! Well, this one has similar ingredients but a whole different flavor profile, a MUST try!


        Ingredients:

        • 1 large white sweet potato (Japanese or Hannah), shaved
        • 2 medium golden beets, peeled and shaved
        • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
        • 2-4 TB. coconut oil
        • 2 TB. fresh chives, diced
        • 1 TB. tarragon
        • 1 tsp. garlic powder
        • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
        • 1/4 tsp. salt
        • 1.8 tsp. pepper

        Instructions:

        -In a large skillet melt 2 TB. coconut oil over medium-high heat

        -Add diced onion to the skillet and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes

        -Add shaved beets and potato to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice

        -Add the rest of the ingredients (including the rest of the coconut oil if you need it) to the skillet and stir to combine

          
        -Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beets and potatoes are soft

          
        -Add in some cooked meats if desired, top with some eggs or use as a delicious side dish! You could also turn the skillet to high and really crisp up the hash if you prefer it crispy! Lots of possibilities with this one!

          
        Enjoy!