Caveman Cookies and Larabars

Recently I have stumbled across some new paleo treats that I wanted to share. I have been preparing for vacation (out of the country) and looking for some snacks I could take that would be packable and a good alternative to a non-paleo meal I may be presented. Both of these you’d want to eat in moderation, but after trying them this past week, I’m happy to say that they are delicious paleo treats that you don’t have to cook!

Caveman Cookies

A friend of mine passed along the Caveman Cookies website to me, so of course I had to buy some. I went ahead and got all three flavors to test them out.

My favorite is the Original. It tastes similar to an oatmeal raisin cookie, just not nearly as sweet. This is actually a plus as your taste buds become more sensitive when you cut out sugar on the paleo diet. The Tropical were also delicious with a sweet coconut flavor. The Alpine are definitely named well as a winter treat with their hazelnutiness.

Beyond the cookies tasting great, the online purchase experience was top notch. I replied to the order confirmation email I received when I realized that it didn’t give me the discount they were advertising on their Facebook page, and someone emailed me back almost immediately to say they had changed the total for my order. Very nice people making some delicious cookies.

Larabars

I posted on my Facebook wall that I had discovered Larabars and that they were “Flippin awesome…..and paleo friendly,” only to be quickly warned by one of the lovable CrossFit Ktown coaches to be careful with these. You really do have to look at which ones you get. The Apple Pie and Blueberry Muffin seem to be two of the lowest in sugar content which is from a natural source, but you definitely want to eat in moderation. These bars are all natural made from fruit and nuts. I picked up the Apple Pie kind at a local Target and was pleasantly surprised by how good and filling they are.

Paleo Challenge Day 42

 

There are so many things that I’ve learned in just a little over a month on the paleo challenge. The last two weeks have been great for me. People are starting to notice that I look leaner – many of whom know that I’ve been doing the challenge, so they know it has a lot to do with the way that I’m eating. That makes me more excited than anything. I know that when I’ve seen people who look lean or healthy, I wonder what their secret is. Are they just naturally that way? Do they work out for hours on end every day? Do they ever eat junk food? I can honestly say that the results I’ve had come from no secret formula – just strict paleo eating and regular exercise. It can be that simple.

 

I’ve been thinking more and more about lifestyle maintenance and balance. I do believe that the most important thing in daily living is a life that is balanced – meaning there isn’t just one thing in life that is your entire life. I think American culture teaches us to often be laser-focused on a goal and work only to achieve that goal in as little time as possible. Not that there’s anything wrong with having goals and working toward them. However, working just to achieve a goal and not taking in everything that happens along the way including changing direction somewhere, could mean missing out on something great.

 

Along with CrossFit and the many outdoor activities I enjoy, I have been practicing yoga since I was 12 years old. Only when I reached my 20s did I actually receive in-depth personal instruction, but the years of practice before then helped me to understand some of the central values of yoga practice. I know a lot of people hear the word “yoga” and instantly think of granola people in hemp sandals and use words like “man” and “dude” a lot. I am sometimes mistaken as a “tree hugger” because of my yoga-practicing-outdoor-loving ways. But that’s okay, because I love so many things about yoga. Yoga teaches you to be present, to release yourself from judgment especially self-judgment, to face challenges bravely because they are essential to life, to always strive for balance, and to not take yourself too seriously (definitely good to smile during yoga practice).

 

The balance I feel in my life at the moment comes from many things – but especially through the things I’ve learned from yoga, CrossFit, and a paleo lifestyle. I feel so very blessed and full and look forward to many more things later in life that may come my way.

Paleo Challenge Day 31

Today marks a full month into the challenge. I’m feeling so good at this point. I wake up between 6:00-6:30 every morning including weekends, and I have enough energy to work or play all day. People everywhere have been asking me how the “paleo thing” is going, and I love it!  That’s exactly what I was hoping for by blogging my way through the challenge. I know how the power of a community can change you and keep you accountable everywhere you go.  So thank you to everyone who has been reading and asking me about it!

For the most part, I’m not missing many of the old foods I used to eat, except for all of the delicious cold summer treats like ice cream. But I think I have to give more credit to the community I’m part of than my own will power. Not only has social media & the blogosphere helped keep me motivated, but the community at CrossFit Ktown is unlike any other. Every time I step into the gym, I’m greeted with happy, smiling faces and encouraging words. I workout with coaches who not only teach this lifestyle, but live it themselves. I’m taking advice on how to eat better paleo meals from someone (rather, a group) who is eating that way too.  It doesn’t feel weird inside the walls of CFKT like it does sometimes when I get that lovely “you’re crazy” look quickly followed by, “What?? You don’t eat any bread?”

I think I’ve heard the phrases, “Oh, I could never do that,” or “There’s no way I could give up bread, cheese, or sugar,” about 100 times. Then today I hopped on over to Mark’s Daily Apple blog. The post is about “The Blame Game” and how easily we opt ourselves out of changing because it’d be too hard. The post starts with an insightful quote,

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

Albert Ellis, psychologist

I found this post particularly inspiring today because I’ve used every excuse in the book to talk my way out of making a real change at different points in my life.  I’m sure I’ve missed out on many really good things because the cost of changing was too high. But I realize now that when you’ve got a community of people behind you who care about you, it makes a world of difference. It doesn’t seem so difficult anymore.

Paleo Challenge Day 22

Maintenance has been the word on my mind today. I like Mark Sisson’s philosophy on diet and working out – it must be something that you can maintain throughout your life. Eating a paleo diet does mean giving up some foods you’ve probably eaten most of your life. However, at the same time it introduces you to a whole new world of foods you never thought you’d like eating on a regular basis. My favorite snacks now are almond butter or salsa on celery, raw carrots, green smoothies, and any foods with turmeric, chili powder, or saratcha hot sauce.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still miss other foods. Some in particular for me are corn tortilla chips and summer treats like ice cream. These are neither one terrible things to eat (there are always worse things), so having a “treat” every once in a while is an option. More than anything though is that you don’t want to “treat” yourself every day. Some people are okay with having one thing here and there, and others have to go cold turkey or it’s an avalanche. On any other diet, I feel like I was in the avalanche boat, but with paleo, it’s a lot easier to have one of something and be done. I wanted ice cream so bad this past Sunday. It was hot outside, and I had just gotten done playing 9 holes of golf. Okay let’s just get it all out in the open – I chased my ball around for 9 holes.  So we decided to break for a treat and get some ice cream. After about 1/3 of the scoop I got, I was done. It was so sweet, I literally got tired of eating it. I’m pretty sure I have NEVER left a bowl of ice cream uneaten in my life.

All I could think about was “is this the very BEST thing I could be eating right now?” I think that’s the way I have to look at food now. Sure, it’s easy to find things that aren’t terrible to eat, but what about the absolute best things you could eat? How much better would you feel after eating those best things? It’s interesting how your palette starts to change. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my food, but I enjoy it for more than just the taste.

Paleo Challenge Day 15

We’re now a full two weeks into the challenge. I honestly thought this was going to be so much harder than it has been. This past week, an interesting thing happened that has made me fall in love with paleo all over again. On Wednesday I woke up and wasn’t really hungry, so I decided to skip breakfast. I normally have to eat something of substance by 10am or I become ravenous. However, this did not happen, nor did I feel overly hungry at lunch. I ate a small portion of grilled chicken and asparagus, a much smaller portion than my usual. I was surprised to be full on such a small amount and stayed full until dinner where I had another small portion of chicken fajitas (no tortillas of course). I started wondering if there was something up as I still didn’t have a huge appetite throughout the next day either. I always notice when anything seems different, so I kept it in the back of my mind.

On Thursday, I took my paleo food journal into the gym to get checked by one of the coaches (we have to have it signed every week to be in the challenge).  Jessie noticed where I wrote down “not much of an appetite today” and asked me about it. I think her words were more like, “So you haven’t been feeling as hungry this week?” I was overjoyed she asked me because I had noticed a difference. So I replied, “Yea, is that normal?” She immediately shook her head emphatically up and down explaining that with paleo, once you begin controlling your insulin you don’t have those huge jumps and crashes with your blood sugar. You are satiated for longer when you are eating high quality foods low on the glycemic index. You actually are full, but a lot of times, simple carbs can make you still feel hungry. It’s the same effect of eating a whole box of cereal and still feeling hungry an hour later. Eating paleo makes you not want to over eat or see the need in over eating. The fullness is a different type of full. You start to eat to fuel your body rather than treat your mind.

This fundamental switch in my approach to food began showing me how some of my connections to food were not in my best interest. Relying on food to fill a certain part of your day or relying on it to satisfy you gives food more weight and control than it should have.  I’ve learned that you do not have to be a slave to food or food cravings. People ask me all the time if eating paleo is hard and if I ever have cravings for things. I can honestly say that if I do, it’s rare and often not in the ways it used to be.  I eat food that makes me feel good, and I’ve become addicted to it. Another added bonus is that in two weeks, I have somehow misplaced 5 lbs. of body weight. Well, I haven’t been able to locate it, but I’m guessing it’s back there with all the breads, sugars, and everything else I used to eat. 🙂

Paleo Challenge Day 8

Today marks 1 full week of the Paleo Challenge. That’s 7 days of “meat and vegetables, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.” I’m feeling seriously awesome at this point. I have tremendous amounts of energy, much more than I’ve had in a while. I went to the gym 3 times this past week and then ran a “fast” (well, fast for me) mile on Sunday. I’m starting to crave working out in any way, shape, or form. I think I’m addicted to the endorphins.

So far, eating has been good, and I’ve only craved something non-paleo this past Saturday when I was in Asheville. There’s a ridiculously good dessert shop called the French Broad Chocolate Lounge that is life changing it’s so good. However, I just walked right on by, begrudgingly, but at least I walked by.

I have to say that this has been the least stressful diet challenge I’ve undertaken simply because of the meal planning I do now. I’ve been spending a little time one or two evenings a week to look up new recipes, make out shopping lists, and plan all of my meals for the week. I just created a table in a Word Doc with the days of the week and breakfast, lunch, and dinner columns. I’m not making every single meal I eat so I’ve also been allotting for business lunches or dinners that I’ll likely eat out.

I made out a shopping list earlier last week, so when I got back in from Asheville on Sunday, all I had to do was grab my list and head to EarthFare. No thinking involved. It was blissful. I’ve started a new tradition of spending my Sunday afternoons cooking. Yesterday I made up some tuna salad and omelet muffins for the week. Then I also washed some romaine lettuce and chopped some veggies to put in Tupperware so I can just grab throughout the week. This is such a tremendous time saver through the week when I need to whip up some dinner after a long day.

I’m already starting to feel like this is a lifestyle I can maintain and that feels really good.

Paleo Recipe: Margarita

If you know me at all, you know my favorite adult beverage is by far a margarita. Soccer Taco, LaCosta, Chez Guavera, all have excellent margaritas but they aren’t very paleo friendly. So here is an alternative to the oh-so-delicious margarita.

Ingredients

Tequila

Soda water or sparkling water

Real lime juice or fresh squeezed

The part that makes this margarita great is the quality of the lime juice. My favorite I’ve had so far is the fresh squeezed lime juice and puree from EarthFare. I’ve also muddled berries and added to the beverage for a fruity flavor.  Your drink should have just a faint yellow color as not to put too much lime juice in. Just a splash does the trick.  Ole!