Category Archives: Food

The origins of action, and an exercise in self awareness

When I sit down to write a post nowadays (yes, meaning 3-4x per year), I first think about what it is I am trying to accomplish. The original intent of my blog was to empower people through nutrition education. While that is still my intent, the way in which I do so has changed. Before, I tried to create simple, delicious recipes to “prove” that healthy food could taste great, and does not have to be laborious. Now, I feel a transition to more informational and contemplative posts. I will always believe that knowledge is power, and education is necessary and empowering. But my professional experience over the last two years has demonstrated that information is not enough. People must both have the motivation to do something as well as the information and tools to follow through for meaningful change to occur.

Motivation is tricky. We are all motivated to do certain things in order to achieve desires, and we usually are cognizant of that connection. What we seem to be blind to is not what we need to do to achieve our objective, or even what are our roadblocks are, but why those roadblocks exist. I get annoyed while reading when an author writes purely in theory and doesn’t clarify with an example, so here is a simple one:

Darla is a bit overweight but eats fairly well most of the time, albeit a sweet tooth. She knows how to reduce carbohydrates and calories to lose weight and wants to lose weight, and realizes that her main barrier is when she that she continues to eat sweets.

WHY she has a sweet tooth may not be clear to Darla. Even if Darla has an idea about what drives her to eat sweets, my experience leads me to presume that it is an incomplete awareness, or a sugar-coated one. And this is a perfectly understandable defense mechanism! When something in our life does not match up to our ideals, it is far less painful to place the blame elsewhere, ignore it, or deny it. The problem with these tactics is that the root problem remains, and breeds increasingly more compensations (problems).

My goal for this post is to challenge you to discover your barrier and at least attempt to identify why it exists. Identifying the barrier is not very hard, but in order to even come close to identifying the root cause of your barrier, you must be incredibly self compassionate. Whatever it is, it is okay, and there is a 100% chance you are not the only one with that challenge/thought/history/desire.

While I am biased in the direction of attacking health issues, you could apply this exercise to any issue in your life or goal you want to meet but are struggling to. I did this for myself and identified a couple deep deep rooted issues that have led to my barriers. I don’t expect to fix these over night, and I realize that one or two may be life long practices, and one or two may fade in and out of my life. And that is okay. The point is awareness, without which we are all relegated to the inertia of now.

Use a real PEN AND PAPER to do this exercise.

  1. Identify the goal you are struggling to reach.
  2. List the steps or parts required to achieve the goal.
  3. Circle the steps or parts that you are not able to complete, or struggle to complete consistently.
  4. For each circled step, draw an arrow outward and write why you are not able to do so. If there is more than one reason, draw multiple arrows.
  5. For each arrow, ask why and draw another arrow leading to the answer.
  6. Ask why 1-3 more times, until you cannot dig any deeper or the reasoning becomes circular.

Below is a fake, common example.IMG_4533

In the sample above, this woman may have identified that her job is no longer fulfilling and her marriage is unhealthy, both exacerbating her emotional eating tendencies. Are these easy admittances? Hell no! Realistically, these things do not usually come out in one, simple exercise, but it is good to get the wheels turning.

I can one hundred and fifty percent guarantee you that you will answer why without any issue and then feel like you are done. You are not be done with this exercise until you feel uncomfortable.

Once you feel slightly sweaty and panicked, you know you have hit the nail on the head.

It doesn’t mean you have to do anything about it today, tomorrow, or ever.

It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you, your past, or your future.

All it means is that you have learned something about yourself, and you will forever be empowered by this information. You can throw away the paper and never think about it again. If you decide to do something proactive, that is fantastic, and I encourage you to seek external help in doing so.

Because if it was easy enough to do on your own, you would have done it already.

Aside

I read the awesome article Bariatric Medicine: Seven Exciting Developments” by Sean Bourke MD on a flight from NYC to San Francisco last weekend. I identified with it enough feel compelled to summarize my favorite points for you all. Dr. … Continue reading

‘duck liver mousse?’ ‘omg so much vitamin A!’

It is almost Wednesday and that means I get to go home to Texas for a week! I’ve been looking forward to seeing family, high school friends, and eating Tex-Mex and BBQ for months now.

Today, though, was wonderful as well. I started the day off with the usual coffee and greek yogurt bowl and then headed to Crunch to workout.

This workout killed my glutes. If you want to build a booty, do this workout 2x a week and get at least a gram of protein per pound of goal weight per day.

  • Barbell squats, 5 sets 0f 15, 95#
  • Barbell lunges, 5 sets of 15 per leg, 65#
  • 100 incline situps
  • Barbell thrusts (where you do a bridge with a barbell laying over your hips), 4 sets of 15, 115#

For lunch, I made a quick, easy and paleo…

bacon butternut squash soup

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Recipe: serves 1

  • 2 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1/2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1 slice bacon, crispy
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth (or more if desired)
  • 1 tbsp yellow onion
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • shake of salt
  • shake of freshly ground pepper
  • optional: for protein, once the soup is prepared, feel free to throw in grass fed beef, chicken, turkey, or even eggs!
  • optional: 1-2 tbsp almond or peanut butter to top (I loved the soup with almond butter)

Directions – Combine the squash, butter, bacon, broth, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Heat and add your protein and/or nut butter topping and enjoy!

After lunch, two my my closest friends from UC Davis came to visit and we went for a walk along the coast.

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nutrition biochemistry nerdz 4 lyfe.

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golden gate bridge

Afterwards, we went to State Bird Provisions for dinner. It is New American fusion served dim sum style, so you order lots of smaller plates. Very cool! I didn’t take any photos of dinner, but it was insanely delicious. We got

  • almond biscuits with duck liver mousse
  • hamachi spring rolls with persimmon
  • garlic bread with burrata
  • seafood salsa with avocado cream
  • glazed pork ribs with chard and togarashi (my fave!)
  • red trout with hazel and mandarin brown butter

Gah, I am salivating just rehashing the details. I should go pack. Have a wonderful  Wednesday!

peanut butter banana bacon bars

Good morning everyone.  I hope your weekend was relaxing and rejuvenating. To everyone, but particularly those most closely effected, I wish you the strength to recover from the recent tragedy and to not let it forever color your vision of this earth. I don’t want to say much more, but it would have felt wrong to not acknowledge the loss.

This past week, I got some much needed girl time and nature. Some women from work and I had a wonderful ladies night mid-week that included Mexican food, a bit of red wine, chocolate, and good conversation. Slumber party style. Even though we are all very different and our ages range from 22-32, we get along really well. I have been missing my friends so much since moving to the city. It can be hard to make new friends when you work a lot and don’t know anyone! Friendships are kind of like spiderwebs, you connect with one, and they connect you to so many more – but you have to start somewhere! You can’ t just pop one out of your rump like a spider, as it turns out.

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Friday evening was the annual Crunch holiday party. Apparently, personal trainers know how to get down…especially when it is open bar. I didn’t take advantage though, I wanted to get home by midnight, so I could rise with the sun for a special trip to Berkeley to CROSSFIT!

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My friend Jameson and I drove to Berkeley on Saturday morning and did a WOD at his friend’s new business: GrassRoots CrossFit. The box was brand spankin’ new and really sleek. The workout was:

  • 12 deadlifts (225# men/155# women)
  • 9 toes through rings
  • 6 wall climbers (I am wretched at these)

We stayed after to work on some Olympic lifting and then went to eat at an awesome Peruvian place called Brasa.

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I ate  a full half of a chicken after that… But it was free range, so it’s okay. ;) I was spent for the rest of Saturday, but today my friend Zoe and I drove down to Santa Cruz to meet up with some friends for mountain biking and hiking to a gorgeous waterfall. I don’t have group photos yet but here is the waterfall:

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I brought one of my zillions of homemade bars with me to most of these gatherings. My current obsession are these

peanut butter bacon banana bars

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They aren’t technically paleo because peanuts are a bean and not a nut. (And stevia baking blend isn’t “real food,” but you know what I mean when I refer to baked goods as paleo: no grains, beans, or dairy.) However, they are delicious and high in protein and fiber and low in carbs. You could use any nut, and if you aren’t a fan of bananas, you can easily leave it out.

Recipe: Makes 8 bars – grain free, dairy free, high fiber, high protein, low carb

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup NuNautrals stevia baking blend
  • 1/2 cup peanut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 3/4-1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • maple extract
  • 2 strips bacon, extra fat trimmed
  • peanuts, to garnish

Directions – Preheat the oven to 375. In a bowl, combine the coconut flour, stevia baking blend, peanut flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add the egg, egg white, and mashed banana, and mix well. Add the almond milk until the dough is sticky, but not pourable. If using, stir in the maple extract. Grease a pan with bacon grease or grass fed butter. Press the dough into the pan until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Trim the extra fat off the bacon and pan fry or microwave until crispy. (I place the strips on a plate with a paper towel over them and microwave for ~3 minutes.) Crumble the bacon into bits and stick into the dough. Press the peanuts into the dough. Bake for 14 minutes, or until cooked through.

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alway hits the spot!

Don’t forget to treat yourself right this week. You deserve to…

Breathe deeply.

Eat your veggies and proteins.

Get enough sleep.

Workout the way you most enjoy.

Do something frivolous – just for you.

Show love and be loved.

Inside-Out Paleo PopTarts

Ta-daaa!

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To be real, calling these bars ‘PopTarts’ is kind of a stretch visually, but the taste brings me back to my PopTart eating childhood each and every time I have one. Which is every morning.

The base is lightly sweet and very high in fiber because it is made primarily of coconut flour and NuNaturals stevia baking blend. The topping is sweet n’ cinnamony, just like the inside of a Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTart. You can change up the flavor of the topping by using sweet potato, canned pumpkin, or butternut squash. I have tried them all and prefer butternut squash.

Inside Out Paleo PopTarts

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Recipe: Makes 6 PopTarts – high fiber, low carb, grain free

The base 

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup NuNaturals stevia baking blend
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • ~1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or just enough to keep the dough together, so it is very sticky)

The filling

  • 1 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash, canned pumpkin, or roasted sweet potato (skins removed)
  • 1/3 cup NuNaturals stevia baking blend
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a few drops maple extract or 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • optional: pumpkin pie spice, a few drops caramel extract

Directions -

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the dry dough ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add the wet ingredients and stir until well combined. Grease a small baking pan (8×12, but it doesnt really matter because if you don’t fill the pan the dough will stick to itself anyway) with butter. Press the dough into the pan until it is ~1/4 inch thick. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just cooked through. In the mean time, combine all of the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix with a stand mixer, hand blender, or conventional blender. Once the crust is done, let cool for a few minutes. Spread the topping over the crust and bake again for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is firmed up.

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I seriously love these bars. They are perfect as a high fiber snack or for breakfast.

My daily breakfast lately has been:

  • 1 cup Straus greek yogurt
  • 1/2-1 tbsp ground Chia (Mila brand) + a splash of almond milk to make a gel
  • 1 paleo poptart or 1 peanutty bacon paleo bar (recipe to come!)
  • 1-2 tbsp of nut butter
  • dash salt
  • optional: some toasted coconut shreds, chopped roasted almonds, drizzle of suga free maple syrup

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This breakfast is so addictive. I guess its pretty girly since men don’t seem to enjoy sweet things for breakfast. Or ever?….

It packs around 500-600 calories, 40 grams of protein, and plenty of fiber with minimal carbs. You will stay full for at least 4 hours guaranteed :). I promise my other meals aren’t sweet-centric!

And that is what I eat Wednesday, and every day :)

mini butternut squash pies + life…

I think about blogging every day and, finally, here I am.

My schedule has been stretched to its limits these last couple months. I work from 10am to 3:30pm for the doctor (still waiting on writing about the details) and then head on over to Crunch, a gym that is also downtown San Francisco.

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I work myself out from 4 to 5pm and then personal train people until 8pm, usually. The days are long, but when you like what you do, the energy to do it all comes from the inner joy! However, I definitely am learning the value of a typical 9-5 job. It would be great to be able to make dinner plans, go to meet ups, etc during the week. We’ll see! The feedback I get from my clients is what really keeps me going. Every time they tell me they lost another pound, feel stronger, sexier, more empowered, whatever my <3 swells.

As far as exercise, I have been doing 4 heavy lifting work outs per week; 2 lower body, 2 upper body. I was stuck in a long plateau, so I enlisted Jay Ashman’s help with programming. With the changes, I have finally busted through and hit some PRs! Bench press is up to 95# and deadlift is up to 200#!!! So excited! On Fridays, I usually do a CrossFit style workout and on the weekends I just want to be outside. I try to pick a new running spot every weekend and have been enjoying getting intimate with San Francisco and seeing some incredible views.

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Baker Beach above, Lyon Street steps below (super close to my house!)

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I started getting some foot pain again a few weeks ago and had a massive freak out that I was re-fracturing my feet. I saw an orthopedic surgeon, got X-rays, the whole shabang, and found out that the pain was simply because I didn’t have enough arch support in my shoes! I slipped in some Spenco insoles and have been pain free again ever since! :) :)

As far as food, I am a Tupperware f r e a k. I have breakfast at home, which is currently a bowl of greek yogurt with a homemade paleo fiber bar crumbled in and nut butter. I pack lunch and dinner to take with me to job #1 and #2. They are always some combo of meat/protein, veg, and fat.

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Proteins: grass-fed beef, eggs or egg whites, salmon, chicken, canned tuna. I aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight since I am trying to gain muscle. For those who are maintaining or losing weight, .8 grams per lb of desired bodyweight may be suitable as well.

Veggies: kale, chard, sauteed onions, steamed broccoli carrot slaw, salad greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts

Carby veggies: Sweet potato, taro, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, roasted beets,

Fats: avocado, olive oil, any and all cheese, nut butters, coconut, homemade salad dressings, ghee, sometimes mayo…

Fun stuff:  Salt (always), sriracha (at least once daily), curry powder, crumbled crispy bacon, smoked African pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, marinara sauce, spices etc.

When you are truly hungry, food tastes good. My meals are pretty ugly (see examples below…) and definitely not food blog material, but they are always delicious & nutritious.

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If people only ate when they were really hungry, they may not feel the need to constantly eat fried, synthetically flavored, and carbolicious foods.

I promise I will start posting real recipes again this week!

I have been hoarding Bacon  & Peanut Bars and inside-out Paleo PopTarts!

For now, you get…

mini butternut squash pies  (GF)

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Recipe: Makes 5-6 mini pies – sugar free, high fiber, gluten free

For the crust -

  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/3 cup NuNaturals stevia baking blend
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp grass fed butter
  • dash of cinnamon + salt

For the filling -

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp grass fed butter
  • 1/3 cup NuNaturals baking blend
  • 1 cup baked butternut squash
  • 1 scoop of vanilla or dessert flavored protein powder (if and only if you LOVE your powder and know it goes well in baked goods)
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of maple and/or caramel extract
  • optional: roasted pecans, to top

Directions –  Preheat the oven to 375. Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. It will fairly dry. Grease a muffin tin with butter. Press the dough into 5 or 6 of the muffin spots. Bake for 12 minutes.

Combine all of the filling ingredients in a blender or standing mixer. Blend just long enough for everything to be combined. Pour the filling on top of the crusts and smooth out the tops. Top with crumbled, toasted pecans, if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pies pass the toothpick test. Enjoy!

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nom nom!

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mongolian beef

Happy Monday dear readers! I hope your weekend was both relaxing and fun and that all of you on the East coast are safe! 

My weekend was packed. Between going out dancing in costume, helping a friend move, going for a lap swim (with my Olympic qualifying room mate…), and watching the Giants win the World Series, I did not sit down! Unfortunately, the state of my room and laundry piles are extremely compelling evidence to the craziness of the weekend. Usually Sundays are devoted to things like cleaning, laundry, and food prep, but I decided to go watch the Giants game at a sports bar in the Marina. I am so glad that I went. I have never seen so many strangers bond, dance, jump, and scream like that. 

The bar after the Giants won. Champagne showers… 

making new friends!

the streets post-game

I have to admit though, I am happy it is the workweek where I can sink into my schedule, work out, and eat healthy, homemade food all week. Today’s workout is going to look something like this:

Booty Building Workout

The squat pyramid

  • 5 squats, 95#
  • 5 squats, 105#
  • 5 squats, 115#
  • 5 squats, 125#
  • 5 squats, 135#
  • to (almost) failure, 155#
  • to (almost) failure, 145# then 135#, then 125#, then 115#, then 105#, then 95#

3 sets of 8-12 at a challenging weight

  • lat pull downs
  • walking lunges holding DB in each hand
  • rows
  • incline sit ups

The recipe for today is not completely paleo but is far healthier than your typical takeout version of Mongolian beef, which is usually loaded with sugar!

Healthier Mongolian Beef

Recipe: Serves  2 – HIGH PROTEIN, DAIRY FREE, LOW SUGAR

adapted from very culinary
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup NuNaturals Baking Blend Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2-2/3 lb flank steak
  • 2 tbsp white whole wheat flour (or tapioca or potato starch)
  • 1 green onion

Directions – For the sauce, heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a sauce pan over medium low heat. Add the fresh ginger and garlic to the pan, quickly followed by the soy sauce and water. Add the baking stevia (or sugar) to the sauce and raise the heat to medium and boil for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is thicker. Remove the pan from heat.

Slice the steak into bite size pieces. Lightly dust the pieces of steak with the flour or starch. Let sit for 5-10 minutes so the starch sticks. During that time, heat up 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and saute for just about two minutes or until the beef is darkened on the edges. Remove the beef and place on a clean towel. Put the pan with the sauce back on the medium heat and put the meat back into the pan to simmer for 1 minute. Add the green onions.

Serve the beef with steamed broccoli and your choice of carbohydrate (like soba noodles, quinoa, rice, potatoes, or more broccoli!). Use the extra sauce for the veggies, etc.