Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bye Bye 2014, Hello 2015!

It's the end of the year, 2015 is right around the corner.  Did you accomplish your goals?  Did you get healthy, lose weight, quit smoking, make more money, be happy, go to college, graduate, learn to knit, learn to ski....?

I can tell you I did not meet all of my 2014 goals.  I was a little too ambitious, lesson learned.
Here is what I did accomplish:

1. Squat 180#.  Did it!!!

2. I didn't learn to do a traditional olympic snatch, but I did learn to do a kettle bell snatch.  So I'm calling that a success.
This is a renegade row, not a snatch
3. 30 min yoga each week...not exactly.  The studio I prefer to go to is expensive, and sometimes just not practical for me to go to.  And I really don't like doing it on my own; it's not as relaxing, and I'm not motivated to do it.  So this coming year, I'm going to try and go on Saturday mornings so I'm not driving in rush-hour, and then rushing back to shower before work.

4. Handstand pushup...nope.  But I can do a wall assisted fore-arm stand.

5. Didn't make it to 20 pull ups in a row, but I can do 10, maybe 12 on a great day. I found that too many pull ups and over-head presses during the week would pull my C2, C7, and a thoracic rib out of alignment and send me to the chiropractor for an emergency adjustment.  Nothing like shooting pain and numb fingers to make you re-evaluate your strength goals.

6. And I think I did a good job of complimenting Ryan every day.  I know he did it for me.

For next year:
1. Compete in a Tactical Strength Challenge
2. Complete a sprint Triathlon or Duathlon
4. Improve my squat depth when I lift heavier weights.  As you may have noticed in the video, I'm barely able to get to parallel and definitely not "hit'n the hole" with that heavy weight.  I can do it with 130-160# but more than that and my form goes.  

5. Speak kind and loving words to my Ryan and Samoa every day.
Samoa loves her Ryan.
What do you need to do to be successful in meeting your 2015 goals?
1. Besides setting SMART goals, I think it's important to write down what it is you want to do, similar to a check list.  Then put that list somewhere in plain sight so you see it every day.
2. Tell someone about your goals, or find people with similar goals; this way you have people to help hold you accountable.
3. Lastly, reward yourself along the way for meeting mini goals.  Celebrate a 10# weight loss by buying a new belt, or a fun kitchen gadget to make your healthy cooking easier.  Or, if your goal is to quit smoking, celebrate each week you didn't smoke by putting the money you saved in a piggy bank.  You'll be amazed at how fast it adds up.

Have a happy and healthy new year!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Grandma's Tiger Butter

It's almost Christmas, and in my family that means Tiger Butter.  A chocolatey, peanutbuttery melt in your mouth and in your hands goodness!  It's like a Reese's Peanut-butter cup melted and smooshed, but better because there's no hydrogenated oils in it.  My grandma Miller would make this every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, now that I live in Minnesota, I have to make my own.

1. Melt 1# white chocolate with 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter.  Spread it onto 1-2 parchment lined cookie sheets.  It needs to be a thin layer, but not too thin.

2. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips (6oz).  Drizzle over the white chocolate and then swirl with a knife or toothpick.

3. Place in your freezer, your super cold garage, or on your deck if it's close to freezing.  After it's hardened, break into bite size pieces and store in your fridge, freezer, or counter top as long as you don't keep your house too warm.
Samoa protecting tiger butter...
But if you put it on your deck...beware, squirrels like tiger butter.

corner eaten by squirrel

  • If you are allergic to peanuts, substitute almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or any other nut butter.
  • If you are trying to really watch your carbs, use choco perfection chocolate, or love chocolate, or use the darkest chocolate you can find.
  • If you like lots of crunch go ahead and add extra chopped nuts to the white chocolate mixture.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cranberry Jell-o fluff

I never liked jell-o when I was kid, plain jello that is.  However, my grandma Miller makes a cranberry jell-o salad (fluff) at Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter that is full of whipped cream, mandarin, oranges, and pineapple. It was one of my holiday favorites.  Forget the sugar cookies and stuffing, just give me her jell-o fluff.  I decided this year to make a "healthier" version of her dish so I called and got the recipe.  Wouldn't you know it...it's really not that bad.  I swapped the raspberry flavored Jell-o package for plain Knox gelatin, and used GT's Trilogy kombucha in place of the water in order to add the raspberry flavor.  This is mostly to avoid the red dye # 40 and artificial flavorings that is in the packaged mix.  I realize that boiling/simmering the kombucha might kill of some of the good bacteria, but really... the purpose of this recipe is not to get in your daily probiotic, it's to eat jell-o salad.   Using kombucha in place of juice helped keep the carbohydrate/sugar content down, but so did making my own cranberry relish/chuttney instead of using canned.  It's kind of like a 2 for 1 special.  I have to say, the final product, is almost exactly like the original.

After Making the relish, served the un-fluffed portion with turkey or pork.  You can get even more creative by stirring it into yogurt, mixing it into BBQ sauce, blending it into a smoothie, or pair it with cream cheese and crackers.

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 orange, quartered
1 tart apple, seeded and quartered
4-6 Tbs sugar, honey, or equivalent stevia substitute

1-2pkg Knox gelatin
8oz Trilogy or Cosmic Cranberry Kombuch
11 oz canned mandarin oranges, drained
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup whipped cream

Day 1, make cranberry relish:
Pulse cranberries, orange (peel and all) and apple in a food processor until everything is a super fine dice/shred but not a puree.  Depending upon the size of your blender or food processor, you may need to do this in batches.  Add sweetener of choice.  Refrigerate the relish, and allow to "fester" for several hours, or overnight.

Day 2, make the gelatin:
1. Gently simmer Kombucha, stir in gelatin.  In a large bowl, pour gelatin mixture over 2 cups of the cranberry relish.  Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour, or until it starts to set and is the consistency of liquid egg whites.
2. Fold in mandarin oranges, pineapple, and whipped cream.  Transfer to your final serving dish.
Cover and refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 hours.  ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Real Green Bean Casserole

Turkey Day is coming!!!  Swap out your old cream of mushroom soup for a real food green bean casserole!  

gluten and dairy free!  paleo friendly, totally delicious

8 oz Bacon, cooked till crisp, and set aside
1 small onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, finely diced
1/4 cup butter, lard, or reserved bacon grease
½ cup cream or coconut milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Ground nutmeg to taste
salt amd pepper to taste
3 egg yolks
1# fresh green beans blanched, or 3 cans French style green beans, drained
¼ cup almond meal or almond flour

1. Melt butter in a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms and onions until starting to brown.
2. Whisk the cream into the mushrooms and onions
3. Whisk in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, garlic, and nutmeg.
4. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken.
5. Pour green beans into a greased 9X9 inch baking dish
6. Pour the cream mixture over the green beans, and mix to incorporate
7. Top with crumbled bacon and almond meal.
8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.
9. Devour

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Insomnia Sucks

Let me start this post by saying, I have never been a great sleeper.  I remember my mom reading to me at night, and she was the one falling asleep mid-sentence.  She would then turn on a cassette tape of Suzuki violin music; which I could listen all the way through some nights before falling asleep.  Even as a kid I would get into weird sleeping patterns; be it not falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night.  I don't remember too many issues in high school.  I was probably too tired from running cross country and trying to fuel myself on skim milk, nutri-grain bars, and hummus sandwiches.

But then college came.  During my freshman year I had severe tendonitis in my right knee.  It got to the point that my leg ached from mid-thigh to mid-calf.  Before bed I would slather on icy-hot trying to dull the throb.  In the middle of the night I would wake up with a racing mind worried about my injury and how annoyed my coach and athletic trainer were at me for not healing faster.  (I wasn't even one of the better runners...)  Ultimately I ended up red shirting, that helped ease some of the stress, and stopped the 2AM crazy brain.  Again, it didn't help that I was still living on processed carbs, fat free milk, and trail mix leaving me depleted in the necessary sleep neurotransmitters seratonin and melatonin.

I've known for years that I like a pitch black room for sleeping.  Even an excessively bright alarm clock will disrupt my sleep.  This spring the birds started chirping and the sun started shining through our blackout curtains at about 4:30, and guess who was awake with them?  Me.  For the rest of the summer it seemed like I was still waking up between 4:15 and 4:45 and simply couldn't fall back asleep.  The strange thing was, that while we camped on the North Shore, I slept great.  While visiting my family in Iowa for two days, I slept great.  Occasionally I'd have mornings here at home, where I slept in a bit more 5:30 to 6.  I felt like I tried everything.  Increasing my magnesium, taking magnesium when I wake up, using amino acids to help calm my mind, practicing a mantra or deep breathing, nothing seemed to help.

Three weeks ago one of my co-workers (Kara) mentioned that my weightlifting routine might have something to do with it.  She said that when she lifts weights frequently it throws off her sleep.  I did a little "research," and it does appear that many people complain of poor sleep when their exercise routine becomes too intense.  Apparently it has something to do with an extended endorphin release after the workout.  So I took two weeks off.  No weight lifting, only walking in the morning sun-shune.  At first I thought maybe it was working, but didn't noticed a consistent improvement.

During another phone conferences with my co-workers (we're all in different offices),  Dar suggested taking more calcium at night.  I had really cut back on it, and then stopped all together; for no real good reason.  Calcium + Magnesium works really well for women in menopause with insomnia.  I've been using NeuroCalm for a while now too, but am now more consistent with it before bed.  Another co-worker (Jennifer) said to added tyrosine in the morning to support thyroid function and help reset my circadian rhythm.  On my own I added 1 tsp of Maca powder in the morning.  Maca is an adaptogenic herb which helps the body balance progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol.  I've felt for a while now that my progesterone is a little low, and my obscure sleep patterns and lengthy menstrual cycle seem to confirm this.  Kara also recommended Bach's Rescue Remedy for sleep.  If I wake up in the middle of the night I spritz 2-4 pumps onto my tongue.  It helps prevent my mind from racing, and is easier than trying to take more neuro calm, GABA, or any other mind calming supplement.

I also started using a sleep tracker on my phone.  It's the free one in the app store.  While I don't like having it by my head at night, it's helping me be more confident in the amount of sleep I'm actually getting at night.

So after 4 nights of different supplements, tracking my sleep, and 1 acupuncture appointment...yup I started acupuncture too.  I'm sleeping better.  Using my sleep tracker I can see that maybe I did wake up at 4:15, but hey! I fell back asleep! for another 2 hours!!!!  Or like this morning, even though my sleep was much lighter from 4:15-4:45, I didn't actually wake up till 5:30, and then fell back asleep till 6:20.  Something is changing, and 8 hours of sleep feels soooooo good.  I don't know if it was one thing, or all the different things, and I don't care.  I'm sleeping, and waking up feeling refreshed instead of frustrated.
Here's to many more nights of good shut-eye.

So here are some tips to help you sleep:
1. Get blackout curtains
2. If you need an alarm clock, choose one with red lighting, or put a cloth over it to block out the light.
3. Take 400-800+mg of Magnesium glycinate or mixed magnesium before bed.
4. Take 500+mg of Calcium citrate before bed.  It works best taken with magnesium.
5. Try amino acid supplementation.  Theanin, GABA, 5HTP or Trytophan work well for most people.
6. If you travel frequently or do shift work, try 1-5mg of Melatonin.
7. Move/Clean/Exercise...expend some energy, or cut back if you participate in high intensity exercise most days of the week.
8. Drink sleepy time tea with Valerian root if you have trouble falling asleep.  I'm partial to Yogi brand.  This stuff will seriously knock you out.
9. Get outside in the sunshine, or use a light therapy box to re-set your circadian rhythm.
10. Maintain adequate vitamin D levels.  50-80 is optimal
11. No electronics 1-2hr. before bed.  Kindles for reading are ok since they do not use blue light.
12. Eat animal protein throughout the day to support your body's own ability to make seratonin, dopamine, and melatonin.
13. Eat a bedtime snack of fat and possibly some carbohydrate. (berries + Cream, Cream Cheese + Apple, Honey in warm Coconut milk, or 1/2 an avocado with sea salt)
14. Try a sleep app on your smart phone.  You might be surprised by how much sleep you're actually getting.
15. Create a calming mantra to think of when you wake up.  It can be anything, even counting star-fish.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hormone Cure Review

I'm finally getting around to writing my review of The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried.  I read and  reviewed Woman Code by Alisa Vitti earlier this spring with some surprising push-back from people saying I was too critical.  But that's the point, to critically review and analyze the book.  If I just said "Yup, it was great...good info... go read it..." that wouldn't be much of a review and would involve no critical thinking skills.  With that said, The Hormone Cure is like the big sister to Woman Code.  Dr. Gottfried goes deeper into the different hormone systems and helps link how one hormone imbalance can lead to another.

After taking her hormone balance questionnaire I was surprised by some of my symptoms.  I expected to have more symptoms of low progesterone, but in actuality the hormones most out of balance for me are High Cortisol, High Estrogen, and Low Thyroid.  The low thyroid I've been wondering about for a while now and will be having that checked in the next month.  While I haven't made huge changes to my diet I have started to switch to either 1/2 caff or decaff coffee in the morning to support adrenal function; as well as to cut back on wine consumption on the weekends.  Not that I was drinking a lot, but instead of two glasses on friday and saturday, I'm limiting my self to 1 or 2 two very small glasses, or none at all.  To address the high estrogen I've started taking Estrofactors, and after only 30 days am noticing improvements in my cycle.

Lets just start with my dislikes so I can end with the positives.

1. Being a nutritionist, I would have liked to see a more diet recommendations.  However, I'm also glad she didn't include much of that, other than telling the reader to go eat real foods (Paleo-ista style), and to increase real fats.  If she had, I think it would have been info overload, and her explanations of the hormones and lifestyle changes would have been lost.

2.  Some people may be turned off or intimidated by Dr. Gottfried's Mind/Body practices to help regulate hormones.  Depending upon the hormone imbalance someone may need to do yoga, practice diaphragmatic breathing, take up HeartMath, practice forgiveness, chant, try acupuncture or get a massage.  Some of these activities (HeartMath/Massage) might be too expensive for certain people.  And others might be intimidated to try a yoga class.  The main message of these recommendations are to RELAX!  This is something I'm trying to work on for myself.  Mostly I'm learning to deep breath when I'm feeling stressed, and working on not sweating the small stuff.  I would love to take a yoga class even 1x week, but at $17 a class, that adds up quickly.  Not to mention that Ryan and I are already paying for a gym membership.  I'm not saying these are bad suggestions; actually they are great suggestions.  I just know some people may find some of them hard to adopt.

3. It's so comprehensive that some people might get overwhelmed.  If that sounds like you, skip any sections (hormone imbalances) that don't apply to you.  Only the sections that apply to you, then follow steps 1, 2, and 3 as prescribed.  Find one or two things in each step that seem do-able and tackle those.  Example: if you have high cortisol, start with step 1. by weaning off caffeine and limiting alcohol (if you drink either).  As you develop new habits, maybe you buy yourself a heart rate monitor (amazon for $35-100) and learn a little HeartMath.  If it's in your budget, get a massage as frequently as possible.

4. I do wish some of these "sub steps" were categorized by importance. Playing off the previous example, is including 40grams of dark chocolate daily as important as me weaning off caffeine or adding a B vitamin complex?  If not, why is it listed first?

What I liked:

1. The Hormone questionnaire.  It's very thorough and can really help direct people to their personal imbalances.  Instead of starting out with expensive hormone testing, which isn't always accurate, take the questionnaire and see if you can address your imbalances that way.  Even if they can't fix it on their own through diet/lifestyle/supplement, it gives them more direction to have a frank conversation with their MD.  And then move on to saliva/blood testing.

2. This book is very comprehensive.  I'm not sure you could get more information out of a grad school textbook.  I never did.

3. I really enjoyed her case studies of patients.  I believe these will help people relate their experiences to those of others and give them hope that yes, their health can improve.  I would have liked a few more examples of younger patients, most of the stories were of middle aged women to post menopause.  I realize that's when most hormone imbalances are occurring, but us younger ladies have issues too.

4. There wasn't an excessive amount of self promotion.  Yes it's a self help book, but Sara did a great job of focussing on the reader, not herself.

5. Sara discusses not only the research behind her supplement recommendations, but also gives recommended doses!  Also, at the end of the book she provides a chart with each hormone imbalance and the recommended supplements.

6. Nothing conflicts.

Ultimately, if you think you have a hormone imbalance, read this book.  If your MD isn't listening to you, or taking your symptoms seriously, read this book then go back to them armed with information.  If you just have a general interest in healthy and physiology, read this book.

Monday, September 1, 2014

No Chocolate Experiment

I spent the month of August sans chocolate.  This was a self imposed deprivation motivated by the fact that I was eating "too much" of it.  By "too much," I mean after lunch and supper I was justifying the consumption of a little dark chocolate.  Many days I would enjoy a small piece (1/4-1/2 oz) after lunch at work, or perhaps have a few chocolate covered espresso beans from Caribou with my snack; or as my snack.  Then, once I got home many nights I found myself having a square or two of Lindt 85% dark chocolate with a spoonful of almond butter or cream cheese on top.  Then another spoonful or two of AB or CC would find its way into my mouth via the spoon.

Why all this chocolate I asked myself?  I knew why...I wasn't packing enough for lunch, and many days I would neglect to bring a large enough afternoon snack or supper.  I often work from 12-8pm and eat lunch at 11 and supper at 4pm, on those days I don't snack, except for when I get home and I don't think I'm hungry, but really...I am. Thus the almond butter and chocolate mini feast by the fridge.  On days when I work 10-6, I do eat a snack around 4 so that by supper at 7pm I'm not HANGRY!

I knew this was getting to be a bad habit.  Instead I took a month off from chocolate.  This forced me to bring more food to work.  Common additions to the lunchbox included: hard boiled eggs, an apple, almonds, deli meat, sugar snap peas, olives, and/or leftover chicken.  There were days when I still didn't pack quite enough, and would end up eating 1/2 a protein bar at work.  Yes, only half.  As I mentioned in my previous post, protein bars typically come packed with added fiber that does a number on my digestive system.  Most of them don't even taste that good; talk about an un-satisfying snack.

The month of no chocolate wasn't that bad.  I discovered that if I actually ate enough at my meals, I didn't crave it.  AMAZING.  (said sarcastically)  There were several nights when I did get home, and all I really wanted was my chocolate and AB.  Instead I settled for yogurt and flaked coconut or an almond flour muffin with butter and jam, or leftovers from whatever Ryan cooked for supper.  The hardest moment was last week when Ryan made oatmeal monster cookies for his co-workers and I came home to a house smelling of fresh baked cookies.  Uhhhh, and they were still warm!  Alas, I finally had a bite of one today.  Fresh from the freezer, it was delicious.

I still love chocolate, and may or may-not go back to eating it daily.  But now I realize that if I'm eating it because I'm legitimately hungry, I need to go in search of some real food.  Be it more protein, fat, or on days I work out, starchy carbs.

What is your trigger food?  Is there a food that is holding you back from reaching your health goals?
Chips?  Crackers?  Wine?  French Fries?  Cheese?  Peanut butter?  Beer?  Coffee?  Ice Cream?
Ask yourself why you crave it, and when you crave it?  Could you give it up for a week, how about a month...or two?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Protein Powder Farts

If you read my first post of 2014, you know that I have my mind set on squatting 180# for 1 rep by the end of the year.  A few months ago I hit 160# for about 3-4 reps.  Since then, I've joined a kettle bell class 2x week, and am continuing to lift 1-2x week.  Therefore...I took a month or two off from really focusing on my squat, but am back at it now with a 5X5 of 155# this morning.
taking a breather between sets.
The point of that ramble is to say that I've had to really focus on increasing my protein intake (approximately 120g/day) to support my strength gains.  In the past I've used protein powders (whey and soy) during my internship in 2008, later from 2009-2011 Ryan and I were big fans of the Whole Foods 365 whey protein powder.  The past several years we switched over to Optimum Nutrition's natural whey and Nutrikey by NWW.  However, after changing my diet to include a lot less processed carbs, beans, and yogurt I found this past spring that I was getting really really really gassy again.  Typically in the middle of the afternoon.
Protein Stash.
After a while I was able to correlate it to the days when I drank a post workout whey protein shake or smoothie.  I checked the ingredients on both the ON and NK powders and figured it could be the flavoring or stevia, so I switched to the NK unflavored whey protein, nope same problem.  Hmmm.... apparently I've got a serious issue with dairy (which I'm still in denial about).  Next I bought the Jay Robb egg-white protein powder, and it seemed that things were a bit better.  Except that just like before, if I drank it more than 2 days in a row, serious bloating and gas would ensue.  This wouldn't be a huge problem, except that being bloated and gassy while sitting in a small office with a client for 1-2 hours is not fun.  I even tried Vega One, a vegan protein powder and that was the worst of all.

So there went my post workout and occasional mid-afternoon snack.  :-(   Over the past two years I've also figured out that I have a very hard time digesting fiber, added fiber in particular.  So switching to a protein bar, even a high quality one such as Quest, Paleo, or Jay Robb which contain inulin, an indigestible fiber are not an option.

Lets be honest, protein powders are convenient, but for some people they just aren't a good option.  I am one of those people.  During several google searches, I only came up with a few poor explanations as to why these powders cause intestinal distress.

1. You're drinking Whey Protein Concentrate which contains more lactose than the isolate form.  If you are lactose intolerant, that might be an easy swap.

2. You're protein powder contains weird thickeners or fibers which are fermenting in your gut and making you gassy.

3. You're drinking casein protein powder not whey.  Casein protein gels in the stomach, slowing digestion.  It can be much more difficult for some people to digest, and it's the protein most people are sensitive too.  Which is why a lot of people can tolerate whey protein, but not actual dairy products that contain casein (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese).

4. You have a dairy sensitivity! Sorry, but other than switching to egg white protein, or Pure Paleo Protein which is made from beef, or Pure Pea protein, you're out of options.  Better go eat some real food.

Why does the unflavored egg white protein powder also gives me gas? I'm not sure, especially since eating actual eggs doesn't have any effect on me.  I don't recommend rice protein powders because they are high in carbohydrates.  And I'm not a fan of hemp protein powder since it is notoriously hard to digest.

So if you're like me, you're going to have to JERF: Just Eat Real Food.  (Thank you Sean Croxton for that acronym).  Below are a few post workout meals to help you re-fuel.  You want to focus on protein and carbs, you're meals shouldn't be high in fat which will slow the absorption of the other nutrients.

Salmon Patties and Sauteed Greens
Turkey, Veggie, wild rice soup
4+ oz Deli meat + small fruit and maybe a few nuts
Chicken and mashed sweet potato
Reduced fat yogurt topped with homemade granola and fruit
Turkey burger topped with sauteed greens and onions
Ground beef Hash with root vegetables
Tuna steak + steamed veggies
Oatmeal + leftover pork chop
Wrap + Salmon Salad
If carb backloading or carb-nighting...pie and low fat ice cream  :-)  Or cereal.

This is the best info I could find on protein powder intollerance

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Port A Potty

Ryan and I recently had our upstairs bathroom semi-remodeled.  The driving factor was the dripping bathtub faucet and cracked grout between the tile.  Not to mention that the tile was pink.  Thank you 1960s.  Needless to say, we've had bathrooms on the brain for a while, which leads me into today's post.
Bathroom Demolition
Wether you call it a latrine, port-a-john, port-a-potty, Mr. P. Potty, or any other name, no one likes using them.  Perhaps they are better than "pop'n a squat" in the woods; which I have done my fair share of.  But only because you don't risk peeing on your shoes, or getting as wet if it's raining.  While camping the other week I made a list of why latrines suck, and it's more than just the smell.

1. You can't check your hydration status.  All that blue dye means I can't see what color my pee is.  After a day of hiking it's nice to know if it's dark yellow (dehydrated) or very light yellow (hydrated), or clear (over-hydrated).  Thankfully, some camp grounds/state parks have flush toilettes and once or twice a day you might try and visit them in order to check.

2. What shape is your poo?  Unless there is a giant pile of other people's TP and fecal matter for your poo to land on, you don't know if what you just pooped is a nice long normal BM or not.

3. Splash point.  Again, if there isn't a TP pile and you go number 2, you may be in for a wet surprise.  Which is gross since it's not just water... nuff said.

4.  They can be far away from your tent site, which means a long chilly walk in the middle of the night.  Lucky for us, they were only 2 spots up from our site.

5. If you drop anything in it (camera, sunglasses, head-lamp, flash light, wallet, phone...) you don't want it back.

6. People who are on the shorter side (< 5' 4"), will not be able to place their feet flat on the floor of the port-a-john when they sit on the seat.  Not a big issue for going numero uno.  However, achieving the perfect 90 degree angle or better yet, squatting position for going numero dos is pretty much impossible.  That is unless you balance on your sitz bones with your feet up on the door of the john.  Now I know you've got some funny images in your brain.  Guess I'll just have to purchase a squatty potty for our next camping trip, or home use.

7. Oh yhea...in the summer, they stink.

Sorry if that's TMI, but you know it's all true.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Superior: Sun, Sweat, Mosquitos, and Smoke

This post is all about our 4 day North Shore camping adventure, (actually 5 days...but we drove home in the morning) as told through our delicious meals, and Ryan's beer.  To prepare for the trip we grilled 2# of chicken thighs, and packed 1.5# of ground beef in 2 separate ziplock bags with their designated seasonings.  We froze these and bacon, and 4 brats overnight and packed them on-top of frozen water bottles in the cooler.  Some of the chicken was made into chicken salad for lunch on our first day.  Everything else (deli meat, cheese, veggies, wraps, and other random condiments) were placed on top of the frozen meats and stayed nice and chilly. To be safe, we bought a block of ice on Wednesday.

Just to let people know, not everything we ate was Paleo or gluten free or NWW "approved".  We were on vacation!  However, if you wanted/needed to maintain a GF/Paleo diet it can certainly be done, even while car camping and traveling.  What I've discovered is that I notice NO difference when I eat gluten, compared to when I don't.  But I know that it's terrible for my gut and binds minerals needed for healthy bones; so I still try to minimize it.  Ultimately, I do feel better when I avoid a bunch of processed foods and excess carbs of any form.  However, when eating off track I do maintain that I eat the best option available:  homemade pie (lard) vs. mass produced store bought pie (margarine).

Day 1: Journeyed from Minneapolis to Split Rock Lighthouse where we explored the lighthouse and ate lunch on the rocks next to Lake Superior.  Strangely enough, it was the hottest day of the year so far and the lake breeze was very refreshing.  But that would change.  I also forgot to put on "sun lotion" as Ryan calls it.  ooops.
Chicken salad on a Rudi's Wrap
Ryan eating fresh veggies
staying hydrated
That night we enjoyed Cajun beef salads, seasoned with the Penzey's Cajun spice mix and topped with store bought guacamole.  I cooked on our Green Pan,  instead of buying a new cast iron for the trip.  I bought it last year at target for $20, and did just fine.  It only needed a little extra cleaning to get the soot off the bottom.
Love Campfire Cooking! 
Day 2: After a night of slightly wet weather (we stayed dry thanks to some good trenching around our tent) but storms farther norther in Boundary Waters caused trees to fall on 3+ campers.  Luckily everyone lived.  In the morning we were in the midst of frying bacon on the MSR stove when it started to rain.  So we finished our coffee in the tent. The Rain didn't last long, and we were off to go hiking at Cascade River State Park.

mmm... True Stone in our french press
Which Way?
Made it to the top!
Deli sandwich/wrap + veggies by the Lake
After walking around Grand Marais and climbing around Artist Point, we were in need of some pie...obviously. Off to the Pie Place!  It was sooooo good.  Although I thought the whipped cream was a little too sweet.  

lake water = 40 degrees
apple al'a mode, strawberry rhubarb + whip
Back at camp, we grilled grass fed beef brats, sauerkraut, and made salads.  And Summit Saga for Ryan, he brought a 6 pack, I enjoyed a few sips.  That night we were very happy to have checked the weather before leaving MPLS.  By bed time it was in the 40s.  Sunday before leaving we hurriedly went to REI and purchased new hiking pants (ours were both 2 sizes too big) and made sure to pack an extra jacket; and mittens for me.
"It's a Summit Summer!"
brat + bread + cheese + kraut + mustard = yummy
brat  +  kraut + mustard - bun = delicious
Day 3: A night of fabulous sleep.  "Why is my face wet?  Oh, that's a lot of drool."  We awoke and scrambled egg whites on the stove, only to be chased into the Fit by the Minnesota state bird.  Instead of packing eggs in the cooler and worrying about crack-age, we brought TJ organic liquid egg whites.  Then it was off to Grand Portage where we wondered around the National Monument, hiked at the state park, drove to Judge C. Magney State Park, at lunch then hiked some more.  We forgot our passports, otherwise we had thought about driving up to Thunder Bay.
breakfast in the Fit
Peace Canada
Working up a hunger for turkey wraps and snap peas 
All that hiking left us tired, and happy to leave the cooking up to the talented folks at The Angry Trout. I'm also neither confirming, nor denying that we also bought 2 slices of pie from the Pie Place and ate them around our camp fire.  
Bent Paddle  Venture Pils
Grilled Lake Superior Herring
Day 4: Another amazing night of sleep.  Seriously, why can't I sleep in till 7 when I'm at home?  While making coffee we were again harassed by mosquitos and chased into our tent where we dined on grilled chicken wraps as fuel for our 3 hour Kayak tour later that morning.  Our Guide was Ken, he was awesome!  He's also a super outdoorsman, hiker, canoe paddler, wilderness EMT, and dog sledder.  He's even written a book 'Sled Dogs to Saint Paul' which I plan to read at some point.  We took his suggestion and ate a late lunch at Sydney's,  But on the way stopped and shared a cinnamon sugar donut.
next time we're pitching the tent closer to the lake
don't tell my boss, but I do love a good donut.
"That's my slice."
Bent Paddle, Black.  It was super good
By the afternoon we were beat.  All that hiking and kayaking and walking around had caught up to us.  After some down time and people watching by the lake, we enjoyed a few drinks at the Gun Flint Tavern (Bent Paddle, IPA). Then it was time for the ultimate final campfire supper, CHILI MAC!  I also beat Ryan at another game of cribbage.  I'd call that a successful evening.
1. brown meat with chili spices and diced tomatoes
2. let Ryan cook macaroni on camp stove
3. Assemble and top with remaining guac from Day 1
Day 5: More great sleep. Wake up, tear down camp while swatting skeeters.  Hit the road after grabbing a cup of coffee from Java Moose.  We enjoyed a late breakfast and time outside of the car at The Duluth Grill.  Now that we are home, it's time to get back on track with better balanced meals and a lot less pie.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Decadent Dessert

Want something delicious, decadent, and crave worthy?  How about berries and cream?  We talk about berries and cream at NWW all the time, but even I forget how delicious this dessert can be.  But right now is the perfect time to incorporate these lower carb fruits into your diet.  
To make whipped cream I've found that pouring the cream into a mason jar and then using only 1 beater attachment on my hand-held egg beater works perfectly.  I get almost no splatters outside the jar, and to store any leftover cream, I just twist on the lid.  Sure I could stand there and shake the jar by hand, but that just leads to leaks and a mess.

Layer fresh sliced berries with homemade whipped cream and top with chopped nuts and a few small pieces of dark chocolate.  Now that's the perfect ending to a hot summer day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Oh Boy! Bok Choy!

Looking for a new green vegetable to add to your arsenal?  Try Bok Choy.  This member of the cabbage family originated in China and therefore is frequently used in stir-fry.  1 cup is packed with 100% of your daily value for Vitamin A and C.  Just like the darker greens such as kale and collards, BC also contain high amounts of vitamin K and folate.

According to my Flavor Bible, Bok Choy pairs well with ginger, rice, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  But it also goes with other green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, snow peas, and zucchini; as well as with any meat, fish, poultry, and nuts.

Lucky for me, I just happened to buy bok choy and snow peas at the farmer's market last sunday.  Not because I like it... until now I've only eaten bok choy 2 maybe 3 times.  When I tried stir frying it, it just tasted like watery, tasteless cabbage or celery.  But being the dietitian that I am, I decided to revisit this nutritious vegetable.  Many parents out there know it takes trying a new food 10-20 times before we learn to like it.

Since It cooks so quickly, I save my BC for Thursday night supper: Stir-Fry BC with broiled Tuna Steaks.  I mostly followed the basic stirfry/braise method used by a lot of recipes.  For flavor I used grated ginger and 2 grated garlic cloves, a little soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh sliced basil, and a little sriracha .  I didn't add any extra liquid since they wilted down nicely and I didn't want to dilute the seasonings.  Unfortunately, even with the added herbs, ginger, etc... they still seemed to just be tasteless, or unexciting.  Alas, still not a hit on my list.  Also, I forgot to take a picture before we ate it, sorry.

While Bok Choy might be native to China, I tried to find other flavor profile/recipes for people who aren't so keen on the soy-sauce, ginger, garlic combinations typically seen when cooking this vegetable.  I think I'll try making a salad or a soup with BC in the future, this stir fry business just isn't working for me.










Monday, June 9, 2014

Rich Food/Poor Food Book Review

The good thing about being me is my very strong circadian rhythm.  The bad thing, is my VERY strong circadian rhythm.  I would have made a great farmer/farmer's wife back in the day.  I'm ready for bed when it's dark, and up whith the sun is.  Unfortunately this means that when I do stay up late (aka 10pm), I'm currently waking up at the crack of dawn...4:30am.  The birds are chirping, sun is seeping between the curtains, and Samoa is getting restless.  That's been my morning for the past 7 days, this is getting old.  Enough complaining.

A client recently lent me her copy of Rich Food, Poor food: The ultimate Grocery Purchasing System (GPS), by Jayson and Mira Calton.  While I haven't read their first book, 'Naked Calories', but I fully intend to now.  RF/PF isn't like any of the other Paleo books on the market which all seem to cover the same topics of digestion, cholesterol, the evils of gluten, and the benefits of coconut.  Instead, the Caltons teach you how to shop for the foods promoted by the Paleo diet.  Some people feel that paleo is for the elite, but really it's not.  Throughout the book Jayson and Mira specifically name brands that can be found at most national grocery store chains.  Yes, some of them are expensive, but they also give the less expensive brands as well.  Not only that, but the Caltons realize that not everyone needs to cut out dairy, so there is a chapter on picking the best dairy.  They also realize that not everyone needs to cut out beans, so they talk about how to properly prepare/buy beans.

This isn't to say that all they do is list foods to buy and foods to avoid.  I still learned some new tidbits of information.

PG 26: The discussion of MSG lead me down a rabbit hole of my own research.  The Caltons quote Dr. Cate Shanahan, stating that 95% of "natural flavors" found in packaged foods are in fact MSG.  I thought, "How can this be?" So I did a little more research at work and discovered that if protein has been processed to contain 99% free glutamate is must be listed as MSG on a label.  However, if the proteins are processed in such a way to contain less than 99% free glutamate then the label will read hydrolyzed protein or natural flavor(s) or any of the other 30 different names the additive.  This is so unfortunate since natural flavors can also include benign flavorings such as lemon juice.

PG 34: I've known for a while now that it's not "healthy" to microwave foods in plastic or to place hot foods into a plastic container. Why?  The chemicals from the plastic transfer themselves into the food.  The specific chemical in question is BPA.  When looking at the number on the bottom of the plastic container (similar to determining recyclability) avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 6, and 7.  I've already identified a few in our house that need to be thrown out.  But also found a few with the better numbers of 2, 4, and 5.  Here's an article a co-worker sent me on the very popular Tupperware.

PG 36: Have you noticed a lot of products boasting "Nitrate Free" or "No Nitrates Added".  Needless to say I have, and it's partially because I buy them.  I had read a few research articles describing how nitrates can be irritating to the gut lining as well as to the lungs.  However, the celery extract or salt used in more 'natural' products contains naturally occurring nitrates/nitrites which prevent bacterial growth. So do these natural nitrates also cause inflammation?  I haven't figured that one out yet.  What I learned is that manufactured nitrites often come ladened with leftover arsenic and lead.  EeeeK! good enough reason to continue to avoid them.

PG 133: Love the discussion of why choosing color fruits and veggies is important and how each color contributes different nutrients to the body and what those nutrients do for us.

PG 153: I was inspired to finally attempt my own mayonnaise. First attempt on my own since my college foods class that is.  All these Paleo peeps keep advocating the use of olive oil for making mayo... have they tasted it?  Sorry, but when you use a high quality expeller/cold pressed EVOO the resulting mayo tastes nothing like my Hains, let alone Miracle Whip or Hellman's.  The product I got is so strong in olive oil flavor I'm sure no one would want it on their sandwich.  I'm thinking of thinning it down with extra vinegar or purreing it with avocado to make salad dressing.  I will definitely be making my own again, however I think I'll find an expeller pressed sunflower seed, grape seed oil, or use MCT oil instead.  Something less flavorful.

PG 237: Ice cream...need I say more? I love ice cream!  But I can't keep it in the house because I will eat the whole container and it gives me a runny nose.  Thanks to the Calton's though, I now know that the compounds used to make strawberry flavoring (one of my favorites) is from the pus that beavers excrete from the oil glands beneath their tails.  EEWWWW!!!  Knowing that makes me want to make my own ice cream even more than I did before.  Therefore I'm going on the search for an ice cream machine at the thrift stores.  No need to buy one new since I'm sure I'll only use it a few times in the summer.

The Calton's are very focussed on nutrient density, this includes salt.  Processed salt does not contain iodine; the exceptionally important mineral needed for fertility, growth, and yes...thyroid function.  Post table salt has been iodized to prevent deficiency (especially here in the midwest, aka the goiter belt).  However, processed salt does not have any of the other micronutrients added back.  So choose unrefined sea salt.  Iodine is found in the ocean/seas and when you choose un-refined sea salt not only will you get iodine but also magnesium, calcium, and even a little potassium.  So I've refilled our salt grinder with pink Himalayan sea salt and am adding a seaweed snacks for a little extra iodine.

So overall, if you are struggling with knowing which brands of cottage cheese, butter, mustard, eggs, ground beef, and even peanut butter to buy, you should seriously buy this book.  I've been recommending it to clients as a way to help take the decision making out of shopping.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shirley's Pork & Kraut

My lovely co-worker Shirley makes this amazing crock-pot pulled pork with sauerkraut.  Earlier this spring she was telling me her recipe and the next time she made it, I got a sample.  The best part, it's stupid easy.  After another weekend away, this time to Chicago for my niece's high school graduation, Ryan and I were in need of an easy, very little effort, comforting meal.

Let me also not forget to mention that nice bacterial + viral infection Ryan contracted right after our North Carolina trip; he gave part of it to me.  So I spent our weekend in Chicago trying not to cough on my relatives.  Two weeks after infection date, I'm still hacking.  It just won't go away!  Any who, it was so nice to come home midweek to a delicious hot meal of slightly salty pulled pork, and lots of warm kraut.  Plus we had enough leftovers for 1 Ryan size meal and 3 Brenna size meals.

Here's how to make your own:

1. Salt and pepper a pork shoulder roast.  I don't know how big ours was, but probably somewhere in the 3-5# range.  Then brown on all sides in your fat of choice (butter, coconut oil, lard, or bacon grease).

 2. Place roast in crock-pot and cover with 2 sliced onions and 1 large jar of sauerkraut.

3. Pour in 1 cup of water or chicken broth + 2 bay leaves.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

4. Serve with a pile of green beans.  Yum Yum Yum.  Now you've got leftovers for lunch!

In other exciting news, I'm done with my Masters!!!  No more early morning class work, group projects, or boring text book reading!  Just a few more letters to add to my name:  MS, RD, LD  

Waiting to watch Jessie get her diploma, it was 50 degrees, and we were chilly.  My sister is in the pink jacket; Love you Amy!!!