Pumpkin Chili with Avocado Cream

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I was intrigued when I first read through this recipe, so of course I decided I must try it.

My first thought, “Wow, this is a party for my tastebuds.” Really really. Part of the recipe involves making a homemade chili spice mixture. It’s really quite complex. With each bite, there are hints of cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, cocoa… There are also slight pumpkin undertones. And THEN you have the avocado cream. In my opinion, the avocado cream completes the dish. The coolness of the avocado and citrus is refreshing. This makes a pretty big batch. Great for a cozy evening inside when It’s cold and snowy outside.

Recipe found here.  Another Health-Bent win. These guys are paleo culinary geniuses. I am always amazed at the combinations they come up with.

Rest

In public safety, I know that after a long night of running ambulance calls in a snowstorm or fighting a fire which could involve pulling hose or ceiling for hours, it’s really tempting to just get that workout out of the way as soon as the shift is over. We have stuff to do, and that’s the only time we have to workout. Chug some coffee and just get it done.  Not a good plan. It’s not worth it. Ok, you got your workout in, but how effective was it?  Go home, take a nap, get some sleep.  Maybe take a………..rest day.

 Personally, I have a really hard time taking rest days.  Rest days for me are usually just rest days from CrossFit, and I do some other workout instead like Insanity or a 3 mile run.  I get antsy and feel guilty if I don’t get my workout in, which I have found to be fairly common with a lot of people.  It’s something I’m working on.  I realize the importance of giving my body a rest once in a while.  Physically, when you go all out 7/365, you don’t give your body a chance to recover.  Your muscles and joints do need a break too.  Sure you see faster results in the gym now, but what about 10 years down the road.  It will catch up to you.  Sometimes your body just needs a break.  Psychologically, if you actually embrace the time off, you can come back to the gym the next day and have a stronger and harder workout.

Along with rest comes sleep.  Again, this is something I’m working on too.  I strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, however I usually end up getting around 6. I used to take medicine to help me sleep better, but after I started to become more strategic about my sleeping, I was able to quit taking them.  Ha, strategic about sleeping. 

  • Eat clean.  When I went back to the Paleo way of eating, I found that I slept so much better.  I slept more soundly and I slept longer. 
  • Allow yourself time to wind down.  You can’t go go go go go go and then just expect yourself to fall asleep right away.  For me, I read.  It makes my eyes tired. 
  • Turn off the TV.  We have a TV in our bedroom.  My husband can watch TV as much as he wants when I’m gone on my shift days, but when I’m home, no TV in the bedroom.  The bright colors, the light, the noise…I believe that it makes it more difficult to fall asleep.  Before we were married, he used to fall asleep to the TV every night, claimed that it helped him wind down.  Not long after we were married, he told me that although he thought he had to have the TV on to fall asleep, he actually slept better without it.  It took some getting used to, but now he doesn’t need the TV anymore. 
  • Put the phone down. I make a point to send those last few texts, check Facebook for the last time, then set my phone down for the night.  Again, distractions.  I guess I figure that I don’t need to be thinking about work or my schedule for the next day or my upcoming Dr appt or replay that one conversation I had from earlier in the day.  It’s all a part of winding down and relaxing. 
  • Make your bedroom a place of rest. One of my good friends from college told me about this.  Get that computer desk out of there.  Piles of bills, your filing cabinet, your desktop.  When you go to bed, if that pile of bills is the last thing that you see, odds are you won’t sleep as well. 
  • Darken your room.  Blackout curtains, thick curtains, sleeping mask, what have you.  Just make your room dark.  My husband works the overnight shift and has had blackout curtains for ages.   A dark room helps with sleep immensely.
  • Try some ear plugs.  I realize that some people need the white noise, but if you don’t, try ear plugs.  I find that the quiet helps me.  The sounds from the street heater kicking in, the sound of the dog collar…all blocked out.  The rhythmic sound of my breathing helps me to fall asleep.

These are just a few examples of things that I do to sleep better.  Some may work for you, some may not.  My hope is that you find rest.  With rest comes strength.

2 Ingredient pancakes

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Eggs, bananas. That’s it.

You can add a few other ingredients to make them even more delicious. Baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, flax seed, fruit, and so on and so forth. These are a bit of a weakness for me. I can eat an entire batch. Butter and just a little bit of real maple syrup. It’s a win.

Try them. You’ll like em.

Recipe found here.

Paleo Bread

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 I had heard about it, seen it, read about it, but never tried it. 

Mark Sisson wrote about it in one of his “Is it Primal?” posts.  Read it for yourself HERE. He also talks about Psyllium, which I had honestly never heard of.  Psyllium is fiber.  As with any fiber, there may be GI side effects.  I was willing to take the risk.

I was able to find it quite easily in the freezer in the health food section at my local grocery store.  The ingredients are simple and seemingly Paleo, figured it was worth a try. The bread itself doesn’t have much flavor and is somewhat spongy.  I tried to have an actual tuna sandwich (tuna, avocado, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, hot sauce, spinach), but there isn’t any give with the bread, so I just broke off piece by piece and dipped the pieces into the tuna salad. 

My opinion, meh.  If you really crave bread, it’s worth a try I guess.  Personally, I could do without. I’m curious how it is as toast…

Cavegirl Scout Cookies

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After reading about the Paleo Thin Mint variation of  the Mudslide Fudge Cookies, I wondered if anybody else had come up with other Paleo girl scout cookies.  That search resulted in finding a recipe for Paleo Samoa Girl Scout Cookies, which I like to call Cavegirl Scout Cookies.  Samoas are were my very favorite, so I was pretty excited for this clean version of the cookie. 

This recipe was a little tricky. The dough was still pretty gooey after 30 minutes, so I recommend letting it chill for maybe 45-60 minutes otherwise the dough will stick to the parchment paper.  This is what happened to me, so I just ended up putting clumps of dough onto my baking stone then shaping them.  I also cut the hole out of the middle after I baked them.  I didn’t have any coconut nectar, so I just used a bit of honey in the caramel sauce.  It still ended up being runny.  Next time, coconut nectar.  I think it will thicken the caramel sauce considerably, making it easier to drizzle onto the cookie. 

Even though there were a few hiccups and this recipe took an unnecessarily long time to prepare (on my part, not the recipe’s fault), they were pretty amazing.  Every part of this cookie is delicious.  The dough, the baked cookie, the chocolate, the coconut sugar caramel sauce, the toasted coconut.  The flavors go together really well.  It’s a fun twist on the original.  These will be made again.

Recipe found HERE.

B+ Positive

If you google search “the power of positive thinking,” it will result in pages and pages and pages and pages of motivation and self-help.  I think they’re on to something. 

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  This week, I have been bombarded with the idea of staying positive.  A friend recently posted on Facebook that one should begin their day with positive thoughts.  She posted a screenshot of the different alarms that she sets for each day.  Each one had a different title.  Her examples were “welcome to a new day” and “Hooray for good health.”

  This is a screenshot from the alarm clock on my phone.  It’s a bit overkill, but I’d say that’s a pretty positive way to start my day.

 

 

dove

Every so often, I treat myself to a small piece of Dove dark chocolate.  The fun thing about Dove is that inside each foil wrapper is a “fortune.”  This week, this was my “fortune.” 

This took me back to high school after my parents were divorced.  It was a tough time, but my mom thoroughly understood the importance of the message of this “fortune.” At the end of each day, we would have to come up with 2 things that we are thankful for.  Even during the worst of times, there is always something to be thankful for, even the small things like lakes or maps.

Lastly, I have been reading a book about one man’s experience in WWII.  He was in the Air Force.  In one particular section of the book, he goes into detail about his plane crashing into the ocean.  He, along with 2 other men, floated along in their life raft for 30 some odd days.  With little to no food or water, these 3 guys had a tough go of it.  2 of the men decided that they didn’t want to lose their minds, literally, so they would spend hours each day reminiscing about home, recalling in great detail their favorite recipes that their mothers used to make, early childhood memories, singing songs, etc.  The 3rd man wouldn’t participate.  In fact, he wouldn’t really say much at all.  These 3 men were in the same plane crash, the same life raft, had the same amount of food and water, the list goes on…  The 2 men who decided to make the best of the situation survived (I haven’t finished the book, but they’re alive up to where my bookmark is) while the 3rd man became depressed, dwindled to nothing, and eventually died before they were found. 

 This has been my week.  Literally surrounded by the idea of positive thinking.  There have been many times when I have been running ambulance calls back to back to back to back to back.  It can really wear on you.  Most of the time, I unfortunately become growly.  When this happens, my medic partners know I need one or both of these things: food or  sleep.    On the other hand, some of the time, I strive extremely hard to have a good attitude.  I realize the importance of it and how it can often times be catchy.  Even when I pretend to be in a a convincingly good mood, I typically end up less-growly. 

You will have off days.  You will have bad days.  You will get frustrated with clean eating.  You will have a disappointing day a the gym.  Some days you won’t be able to even make it to the gym, despite your greatest efforts.  Keep your head up and stay positive. 

I saw a quote the other day “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Posted in Me

Tell 2 People

A few days ago, I had a conversation with a coworker about how much cancer sucks. He told me a story about how a friend of his was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer, but fought like stink and ended up beating it. He went on to talk about how even though she went into remission and the cancer never came back, she still had to go through regular exams and tests to make sure it was really gone for good. So, in a sense, it always stayed with her. Completely life-changing. He concluded by saying that since then, she made it a point to tell 2 women each day to get a mammagram. A simple, yet potentially life-saving, task.

What did I get out of this story? I am passionate about several things, health being one of them. I realize that back squats and pullups, grain-free and dairy-free aren’t even close to the same caliber as cancer, but they all have to do with a person’s health. I have decided to talk to 2 people each day about health in an encouraging way. Exercise, clean eating, even cancer screening if that’s the way that the conversation goes.

What are you passionate about? Do you care enough to tell 2 people?

Roasted Walnuts

walnutsMy friend, Laura, posted THIS recipe on Facebook recently. I thought hmm…how could I make this Paleo? I decided to use walnuts vs chickpeas. I tossed the walnuts with some olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, and dill weed. Once thoroughly coated, I spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or so. Check the walnuts frequently and stir to precent burning. I stirred them roughly every 5 minutes. They’re done with they’re brown and toasty on the edges. Let them cool for awhile before eating.

There are plenty of spice variations for this. This is a good way to change up your healthy snacking.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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My friend, Kim, told me about this one. Peel and chop a butternut squash as well as one yellow onion. Combine the squash, onion, 2 cans (or 1 carton) of chicken broth, salt, and pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft. Once everything is soft and tender, remove from heat and cool for a bit. Add the mixture to a blender. At this time, I added a bit of heavy whipping cream. You can top it with green onion, chopped apple, or crumbled bacon. Serve and enjoy.

This stuff is delicious. It also reheats quite well. There are all sorts of different Veggies and spices you can add. Experiment a little.

Grain-Free Mudslide Fudge Cookies

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I decided that these cookies needed to be made. I followed the directions completely. Typically my cooking escapades end up looking like the pictures. This time, not so much. After skimming through the comments at the bottom of the page, I came to the conclusion that I should have added one more egg white (resulting in a healthy 1/3 cup). They’re still delicious. I just call them Grain-Free Mudslide Fudge Clumps vs cookies.

I also read that if you add a little peppermint oil, they taste just like thin mints. Definitely a healthy alternative to the real thing.

Recipe found HERE.