Tag Archives: organic

Paleo Diet: “What do you eat?!”

13 Mar

For Lent, I decided to try the Paleo Diet and am blogging about my experiences with it.  With a few weeks under my belt, I finally have stabilized my weight and have a good grasp on what foods to eat, and how much of each food works for me.  I have incorporated this all successfully into my daily routine and now Paleo is second nature to me!

A question I have been getting from a lot of people is this: What the heck do you eat?!  As I stated in my first blog post, I have given up all dairy, legumes and grains.  What does that leave me with?  Well, I am eating a lot of lean animal protein, healthy fats, and a ton of fruits and veggies. 


Things like chicken breast, grass- fed beef, fish and eggs are the main sources of my protein.  I have omitted my post-workout protein shake and now simply have some real food after I exercise, if I am feeling hungry.  I make sure to take in plenty of protein to keep myself satiated during the day.


In the absence of any carbohydrates from grains, my body requires healthy fats to burn as fuel.  I include a fat source with every meal.  Nuts, nut butters, avocado, olive oil and almond flour are my primary sources of fat.  This is, in addition, to any fat I get through my meat intake.  Generally, I eat very lean beef and chicken, so the fat source isn’t significant.  I have been using olive oil, primarily, but have read a lot about coconut oil.  I think this week I will buy some and try cooking with it in lieu of olive oil. [Olive oil goes rancid above 400 degrees Farenheit, so I want to try to save olive oil for room temp use, such as salad dressing].


I eat an enormous amount of vegetables and a considerable amount of fruit.  Since I prepare my food each Sunday for the week, I often will prepare a tray or two of roasted veg to have for the week.  Broccoli, asparagus, carrots, mushrooms, and even sweet potato.  [The sweet potato was one of those foods that I decided for myself would stay in my diet.  Some folks choose to omit them when on Paleo.  It’s whatever works best for each individual!]  I also love to sautee kale, baby bella mushrooms & shallots with a bit of oil and white wine on the stove top. 

Salads have always been a staple in my diet, and they continue to be with the Paleo diet.  I jam-pack my salad with things like: baby spinach, tomato, carrots, mushroom, red pepper, avocado, walnuts, chicken, tuna, salmon, etc.  I have made my own dressing out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & lotsa spices!!!

As for the fruit- I have found that the decision to include or exclude fruit on the Paleo diet is very specific to the individual and her/his goals.  After doing a lot of research and reading from trusted sources, I decided to incorporate fruit into my diet.  This is mainly because I am not trying to drop a considerable amount of body fat and because I am engaging in intense exercise frequently.  Eating a moderate amount of fruit allows my body to get the natural sugars it needs to produce the energy my workouts require.  For other folks who may not be as active and who may be trying to lose body fat, the strategy would be different.  They would limit their fruit intake or omit it altogether.


These two topics were up for debate and personal “tailoring” in many of the articles, blogs, and websites I’ve visited.  I decided that it is not reasonable to cut out 100% of my caffeine intake but I have made strides in reducing it significantly.  I have 2 cups of coffee in the morning with some almond milk, and try to stick to decaf herbal tea for the rest of the day.  In the event I need a caffeine boost mid-day, I opt with caffeinated tea rather than coffee.  I am also limiting my alcohol intake to red wine or Tequila, and am allowing myself to drink on a limited basis.  This is for many reasons- the Paleo diet and triathlon training among them. 

These decisions were made by me, for me, with consideration given to my lifestyle, schedule, and realm of what I could expect of myself.  I know it is different for many folks, but for me this feels like a good happy medium.


Through talking with other folks on Paleo and reading blogs/websites, I have come across some Paleo-friendly recipes for treats that have been both yummy and satisfying!

Paleo Muffins
3 eggs
1 cup of pumpkin puree
2 cups of almond flour
1 tsp of baking power
1 tsp of baking soda
1/2 cup of honey
1 tbsp of allspice

Mix all ingredients without the eggs first, then mix in eggs and put in muffin tray.
350 for 20-30 min depending on your oven.   Top with nut butter, or enjoy with a piece of fruit.

“Oatmeal” Minus the Oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 banana, mashed
1 whole egg & 2 egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (add more if desired)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together egg whites and almond milk and then stir in walnuts, ground flax, banana, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; blend well.
In a medium saucepan, warm the mixture on the stove, stirring frequently, until the “oatmeal” reaches the desired consistency; this should only take a few minutes.
Top with berries, nut butter, seeds, or whatever you choose!


I took the Paleo Plunge!!!

5 Mar

If you read my last blog, you know that I decided to take the “Paleo Plunge” for Lent this year.  I committed to adhering to the Paleo Diet for 40 days and am doing so for several reasons. 

[If you are unfamilliar with what the Paleo Diet entails, here it is in a nutshell: omit dairy, legumes, grains, processed foods from the diet.  Eat lean meats and fish, veggies, fruits and nuts.  The pyramid picture above gives a basic visual idea.  For more detailed info about the Paleo Diet, click on the link !]

Many friends and clients have asked me about The Paleo Diet, and what I think about this approach to food.  I have been able to answer them in a limited fashion, based on what I have read about it and what I have experienced second-hand from other folks on this diet.  I wanted to get a deeper understanding of what, exactly, it meant to “go Paleo” and learn more about how it would affect my body.  Another reason I decided to try the Paleo diet is because it was Lent time and I needed a challenge that would not be detrimental to my health/wellness/fitness, as well as something that I might decide to stick with even after Easter Sunday.  Going Paleo seemed like a great idea, so I started my research and as of Ash Wednesday (nearly two weeks ago), I have been Paleo.

I plan on doing regular blog posts which document my progress and journey; I hope that it will spark discussion, answer questions, & create new questions and thoughts.  Whether you are for or against the Paleo diet, have no idea what it entails, or are on the diet yourself, I encourage you to leave your thoughts, ideas and comments below!

My First 2 Weeks on the Paleo Diet

Week 1 on the Paleo Diet was very interesting, to say the least.  While my pre-paleo diet did not differ drastically from what I’m consuming now, I got a lot of education on what IS and ISN’T paleo.  The major changes I’ve made are omitting dairy [skim milk and Greek yoghurt], grains [Ezekiel bread and any crackers, quinoa, pasta, rice] & legumes [beans, hummus].  It might sound like a big adjustment, but truthfully I eat a LOT of the same foods each week and most of them are Paleo-friendly.  What I found to be the most valuable and interesting part of my first week was trying to educate myself on what “is Paleo” and what “isn’t Paleo”.  It seemed that the more articles I read, the more people I spoke with, and the more I dug for information, the more I realized that there was not one straightforward answer. 

At first, it frustrated me because I wanted to make sure I was doing it “right”.  I am a very competitive person and when I commit to something, I want to make sure I do it perfectly.  But I couldn’t figure out whether or not I was “allowed” to have sweet potato, Kombucha, honey, or a small serving of Greek yoghurt.  I had heard of some people who included these things into their Paleo Diet for different reasons.  But on the other hand, others staunchly said NO! 

What I finally learned was that there is not one simple Paleo Blueprint or Bible to follow.  Instead, it’s all about understanding and following the principles of the Paleo Diet as closely as possible and tailoring it to fit your lifestyle.  One thing that stuck with me, which I heard in an interview was “Don’t get caught up in the minutiae.”  This set me at ease because all I need to remember is that sometimes a situation will be out of my total control and all I can do is make the BEST decision possible in the moment.  Since hearing that, my stress about what exactly is on/off-limits for me has decreased tremendously.  I make most of my meals for the week, so I’m able to use the ingredients of my choosing.  But when I dine out, I no longer freak out if my steak tips were cooked in an oil that is not Paleo friendly. 

There have been noticeable changes in my weight.  Within the first week alone, and almost through to the 2nd week, I have had consistent weight loss.  I generally weigh in somewhere between 138-141lbs.  After one week of Paleo, I was down to 131-133.  This scared me a bit, as I wondered if I was losing muscle mass and questioned whether or not I was getting enough of the proper nutrients.  I have been keeping very close track of my weight (I usually don’t weigh myself every day, but am now monitoring it) as well as making sure I am taking in enough protein and healthy fats throughout the day.  I have kept my normal workout regimen [and will start Triathlon training this week, YAY!] and it seems that my strength is still there.  I think that as long as my weight stays where it is now- 132/133lbs- and my strength remains the same, I find that acceptable. 

I do feel more lean, cut and much less bloated in my stomach.  I am never overly hungry; I eat when I feel hungry, and stop once I feel satiated.  I have removed protein drinks from my post-workout regimen and have started eating regular food instead.  I think that overall, I’m eating LESS food; I’m eating things that fill me up, so I don’t need to eat as often.  I have also cut back on the amount of caffeine I’m drinking.  I have limited myself to 2 cups of coffee on the Keurig machine in the morning, and then for the rest of the day its tea and water. 

It’s been an interesting journey so far…  Nearly 2 weeks in, and I feel great.  I am certainly learning a lot and am looking forward to reading/learning even more!  I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments!

Vitamins and Supplements 101

20 Feb

Vitamins A, B, C, D, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium and Omega-3’s.  Are any of these things familiar to you?  Many of my friends and clients have asked me about Vitamins/minerals and what the “right” amount is.  Should all vitamin/minerals come from food and beverage intake?  Are supplements necessary in order for my body to get enough vitamins/minerals?  Is it possible to ingest too much of one thing? Can too much be toxic?

food supplements

These questions are all excellent, and are only a fraction of those that I hear on a regular basis.  In this post I will try to answer questions in a generalized sense, and based on MY opinion unless otherwise noted.  But PLEASE understand that there is a LOT to know about vitamins/minerals and specific questions should be saved for a qualified professional [talk with your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist].

First off, here are some quick facts about Vitamins (source: www.fda.gov. A full PDF download is available!)

Vitamin Facts

Your body uses vitamins for a variety of biological processes, including growth, digestion, and nerve function. There are 13 vitamins that the body absolutely needs: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). AAFP cites two categories of vitamins.

  • Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, which doesn’t store large amounts. The kidneys remove those vitamins that are not needed.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the use of bile acids, which are fluids used to absorb fat. The body stores these for use as needed.

As a personal trainer and someone who strongly believes in eating a clean diet full of whole, real, natural, organic foods, I believe that a person’s primary source of vitamins and minerals should come from real foods themselves.  Eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins such as chicken, grass-fed beef, and fish will give you a fantastic amount of vitamins, minerals and necessary nutrients.  However, instances such as having certain health conditions, eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, or being pregnant/breast-feeding can warrant necessity of supplements.  There is also a lot of research that supports supplementation of calcium, iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids for women.

I know folks who are intolerant of dairy and take supplements for Calcium and Vitamin D.  Others turn to leafy greens, nuts and legumes to get their share of Calcium.  Some people take Iron supplements due to the fact that their diet is void of any meats.  And still, there are others who find other whole, real foods high in Iron to eat instead.  As you can see, there is no single prescription for which supplements to take.  Depending on a person’s individual diet, their supplement requirements will vary; talking to a doctor or nutritionist about specific supplements is best.

For more guidance on this topic, I check with my go-to dietitian Ashley Bade, RD, LDN, CNSD at Modern Mom Nutrition.  Ashley shared with me an article on the topic of supplementation and whether or not to take vitamins.  Ashley believes in “trying to get nutrients from foods first- versus supplementing, but understand that it can be hard to work it all into some people’s days. I do tend to supplement Vitamin D often with my patients b/c many are obese and we all live above Atlanta which are two factors that can set you up for a D deficiency. I do think some people can benefit from Omega supplements as many people tend to not have a variety of good sources in the diet.”

Vitamins and minerals provide essential nutrients and every person should be aware of which they are receiving in their diet & which, perhaps, need to be supplemented.  If you have specific questions about your nutrition, make a list and be sure to discuss it with your doctor at your next appointment!

Kale Chips Recipe!!!

15 Feb

Hello Lucky13’ers!

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I am a HUGE fan of kale (Swiss chard, and collard greens work too), as it has the most nutrients per calorie of any food!! I have prepared it several ways…my most favorite is sauteing it in a wok with some onions, mushrooms and string beans.

But last week I was itching for something new, so I decided to try making Kale Chips.  They were delicious and So easy to make.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

Kale Chips


1 bunch kale, I used black kale but you can also use Dinosaur kale

1 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.  Remove kale from stem, and chop into large pieces.  Put into bowl and toss with olive oil and sea salt.  Lay pieces of kale in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Use two sheets if need be; don’t put layers of kale on top of one another).  Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp.  Let cool and then enjoy!

New Recipe!! Mexican Stew

31 Jan

If you’ve ever read my blog (or met me for 5 minutes), you’ll know that I LOVE to cook yummy, delicious, healthy recipes.  And you’ll also know that I’m always looking for new things to try, as well as encouraging my Lucky13’ers to share recipes amongst our ever-growing “family”. 

One of my dedicated Beacon Hill Athletic Club Bootcampers passed along this recipe, which I thought I’d share with you all (Thank you Amelia!!).  This particular recipe is great because it can be cooked in a crock pot [read: minimal chance to screw it up!! AND minimal work involved]

 It sounds delish and I can’t wait to try it!

slow cooker

Easy for a crock pot….  It’s one of my signatures.  If you aren’t really into cooking, you really can’t screw up a crock pot. 
Mexican Stew
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can kidney beans  
2 cans diced tomatoes  (with chiles if you want or jalapenos) 
1 large onion diced
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup of tomato sauce
2 pieces of chicken breast
Mix all ingredients in the crock pot except the chicken.  Place the two chicken breasts on top.  Cook for 6-7 hours on low.  Take the chicken out of the crock pot and shred with a fork.  Mix the chicken into the stew.  Cook for one more hour.  The time depends on the crock pot, so just keep an eye on it. 


You Are What You Eat

7 Dec

You are what you eat.

What was the last thing you ate?  Did it come in a package of some sort? If so, read the ingredient list.  What’s on there?  Are they words that you can pronounce?  Words that you recognize and understand?  Or do you see long, complicated words that you can neither pronounce nor define?  Does the ingredient list on your shampoo bottle or cleaning agent look similar to that of your latest snack?  If so, what does that mean for your body and health?  If the food and drink you ingest has an ingredient list composed primarily of chemicals, additives and preservatives, what does that mean for your body???

unprocessed natural food

 When you eat and swallow food/drink, your body immediately goes to work breaking it down, digesting, extracting nutrients and sending them to the proper places.  Then it gets rid of what’s left over.  All of the nutrients your body needs to function are derived from the food (fuel) you put into it.  The quality of the food you put in directly affects the quality of your body’s makeup.  Put in clean, whole, natural, REAL foods and you will find that your skin and hair look healthier, you have more energy, you feel less weighed down and bloated.  Your body is running efficiently because you’re fueling it with foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Your body is easily able to digest, and extract vitamins, minerals, nutrients and energy naturally existing in the foods.  But put in processed, preservative-laden food and you are forcing your body to try to function using chemicals and manufactured flavors.  Not gonna happen. Not very well, anyway.  Chances are, you will feel constantly tired, sluggish, bloated and even hungry.  In addition, your hair and skin won’t have a healthy glow.  I’d also bet your cholesterol, blood pressure and body fat percentage would register at unhealthy levels.
 Organic fruits and veggies, nuts & seeds, organic meats, eggs, and dairy; unaltered, unprocessed and unmodified, these are the best sources of fuel you can put in your body.  Alternately, Kit Kat’s, Pringles, Low Fat Veggie Chips, Chex Mix, Diet Coke and Chicken Flavored Ramen Noodles are NOT.  Eating a McDonald’s hamburger and fries for dinner is not the same as having a baked potato with grass-fed, organic beef.  Rice-A-Roni is NOT equivalent to brown rice.  And sliced peaches in syrup are not comparable to a fresh peach.  Why? Just look at the ingredient list; the box equivalent of the REAL food hardly compares.  The processed versions will have preservatives, artificial flavors and coloring (made of chemicals), and loads of other things that can be damaging to your body.  Some of them may not even contain ANY of the items in the title on the package!  The REAL foods, on the other hand, hardly come in packages and don’t even need an ingredient list!
The examples are endless but it all boils down to the same thing.  What you choose to eat and drink matters.  The food and drink you put in your mouth is the only thing your body is able to use to function.  It can not miraculously change chemicals into vitamins and additives into minerals.  If you put in junk, you will get junk in return.  If you put in top-notch food and drink, expect to be feeling better than ever before.  The slogan is simple, and so is the message.  So, next time you’re about to eat or drink something, think twice about what you are actually about to feed your body.  After all, you are what you eat. 


Mediocre MONSTER Monday

29 Nov

I’m back!! It sure has been a while, huh?  I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus due to my recent vacation to Las Vegas [AWESOME trip…I had a fantastic time] & the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Truth be told, blogging wasn’t the only thing from which I took a week-long break; I didn’t do any formal “in the gym” exercise AND I deviated from my normal clean, natural, organic food intake.  Basically, aside from one yoga class at the Bellagio & lots of walking in Vegas, I took a complete “vacation” from my normal way of living.  It was…..interesting.

The first day I found it very difficult to break away from my normal eating habits and workout routine.  My body craved salad, grilled chicken, water, and a challenging workout.  But after a day or two, I was alright with having a less-than-ideal meal, a few cocktails, and a 2 mile walk workout.  Throughout my vacation and long Thanksgiving weekend, I was well aware that I was taking an extended leave of absence from my normal daily routine; in fact, I can not recall the last time I went more than a few days without exercise.  I was glad that I took a few days to relax and let myself indulge and enjoy while on vacation, but having that directly segue into Thanksgiving was a little excessive.  By Sunday evening, my body was begging for exercise.  I was SOOOO excited to get back into my routine & kick it off with a MONSTER Monday workout. 

I knew my workout pal wasn’t going to be able to make it, but I thought I’d power through and do one of our Crossfit Inspired crazy workouts.  I don’t know what planet I thought I was from, because I half expected myself to be performing with the same level of intensity as before my vacation.  Boy was I WRONG!!!!  Here’s what I mapped out for myself

5 Deadlift/Pushup combo (95lbs)

5 Pullups

20 Box Jumps

25 BOSU Ball crunchs

10 Burpees

5 rounds for time.

The first round was okay but I started to feel fatigued pretty quickly after that.  I definitely didn’t have the endurance I had before my vacation.  I powered through as best I could, recording an unimpressive 38min 17sec time.   I attribute this mostly to my lack of exercise and less-than-ideal eating habits, but also to the fact that I did this MONSTER Monday workout alone.  Having a workout pal there next to me, cheering me on & toughing it out right alongside me TOTALLY helps.  I sure as hell missed her on Monday!  When I was done with my circuit I finished up the workout with 30 minutes of hill intervals on the ARC trainer.  I managed to get in a good sweat & a mediocre workout; I was just happy to be back in the swing of things!

If nothing else, this Mediocre MONSTER Monday workout reminded me that while a few days off & a little indulgence every once in a while is much-needed, too much is just that- TOO MUCH.  Next time, I’ll definitely be incorporating more activity into my vacation and will plan it so that it does not come immediately before or after a major holiday.

How about you? Did you deviate from the norm this Thanksgiving? Did you get back on track??