There is something to be said about a food that can be turned into a bird feeder, be set on your porch beautifully-maimed and lit-up from within, and even still; grace your plate as either faux-spaghetti, a delicious soup, or lasagna.
You can even roast the darn seeds for a snack.
Seriously. What is there not to love about squash? (Other than the name. I feel like perhaps that was an afterthought, because lets face it, unless you are a juvenile delinquent running wild on Oct 31, the LEAST easy thing to do with a squash is…squash it.)
Even my neighborhood squirrels won’t leave my squash alone. There is photographic evidence. The jerks even stole the tops to my carved pumpkins. I wish I were joking.
Here is something else you probably didn’t know about squash. The delicious winter squash we are talking about today, are a member of the species Cucurbito Pepo. (Why not call them pepo’s?!? My squash naming-theory is gaining ground, here.) This includes pumpkins, acrorn, spaghetti, butternut, and delicata squash, to name a few. My paleoista’s will be happy to learn that the lovely cucurbito pepo is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, domesticated species with the oldest known locations being in southern Mexico 8,000-10,000 years ago. Its ancient territory extended north into Texas and up the Greater Mississippi River Valley into Illinois and east to Florida, and possibly even to Maine.It is known to have appeared in Missouri at least 4,000 years ago (thanks, wikipedia). So, our pepo buddies have been around for awhile.
I bet you didn’t realize we could talk so long about squash. This is the home stretch, pinky promise.
Winter squash are chocked full of the micronutrients we love, like vitamin A, calcium (see-no dairy required!), magnesium, and potassium. They pack a ton of flavor, and are a great way to sweeten dishes without using added sugars. Next time you are craving a sweet potato, give butternut squash a try, I bet you will love it, and it is about half the carbs and (natural) sugars. Winter squash also have a RIDICULOUS shelf life. I’m talking up to six months, for some varieties!
How is that for 50 shades of squash?
Go forth and eat cucurbito pepo, people.
Start with this:
Fall in a Bowl
- 1Tbsp kerrygold butter (or coconut oil, etc)
- 1/2 sweet onion diced
- 1T minced garlic
- 2 honey crisp apples peeled and sliced
- 1.5 cups peeled and sliced/cubed butternut squash
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1/2cup broth (I used chicken stock)
- 1t cinnamon
- 1t salt
- Sprinkle of fresh nutmeg
- Sprinkle allspice
- Fresh ground pepper
p.s. First official post from a plane. I feel really.awesome.sauce. Even though I paid $8 and my beautiful pictures won’t load.
Sit down, because I am about to get all up in yo’ business.
Today, we marry two of my favorite things: Psychology and Nutrition.
Whether you walk into Crossfit Retribution as a seasoned crossfitter or a seasoned couchsitter, once inside, you begin to challenge your beliefs on fitness; many of the things you thought you already knew.
Beliefs are a funny thing. Some are ingrained; brought along from the way we are raised- those things our family and friends teach us. Other beliefs we arrive at on our own, as we grow and we challenge ideas and ideals, in order to figure out how they fit into our own personal existence. Beliefs often fall on a spectrum, of sorts. They may be fiercely believed in for a time, until…they are not. (Hint: way your kid-self felt about that jolly guy in the red suit). There are those of us who never question a thing, only believe; and then those of us who require concrete examples and unequivocal proof before buying in.
Regardless of where you fall, and what your beliefs (on anything) may be; beliefs often get in the way.
“Of?”, you ask?
Of rationality. Beliefs can lead us to act irrationally, to think irrationally. And get this:
IT OFTEN HAPPENS WITHOUT YOU REALIZING…without permission.
Here is your example:
You are in line at Starbucks (ordering a black coffee, of course). Someone rams into you from behind, knocking your phone, keys, glasses (and Starbucks gift card) out of your hands and onto the floor. As you scramble to collect your possessions, you are feeling mad…incredulous even. Boiling thoughts race through your head: “what sort of a$$ would do such a thing”; “raised by wolves!”, you think; “wait til I give this jerk a piece of my mind!”; ”NOT AWESOME SAUCE”. You whip around, ready to give this Starbucks Stalker a piece of your mind.
He has on dark glasses and carries a walking stick.
Your incredulousness/anger/irritation vanishes. “Um, err…good morning”, you mutter, and turn back around. You’re now feeling embarrassed, and hope no one noticed your internal temper tantrum.
Now wait a minute, what just happened? You are still wiping the grime off your glasses and can feel where you were bumped into. (Yup-that RAM has turned into a little bump). Yet your feelings are totally different. Time did not rewind. So what gives?
Your thoughts about the incident: your BELIEFS; have changed.
No longer do you think that some no-good viciously rammed into you on purpose (irrational thoughts leading you to emotions resulting in anger, you see). Instead, you realize it was an accident, say good morning, and go about your day. (Rational thoughts leading to emotions appropriate for the Starbucks line.)
Who can control the thoughts (a.k.a. the beliefs), and thus, the feelings(a.k.a the reactions) which occur when events we cannot change have happened?
You, and only you.
WAIT. What website are you on again? How does this relate to nutrition?
Upon joining Crossfit Retribution and/or Westminster Strength and Conditioning, you are introduced to the concept of altering your food intake to: protein and fats, followed by carbs (in the form of veggies and fruits); Meaning: step away from the processed foods… no grains, sugars, legumes, or dairy. Strength athletes are often given the addition of whole milk. You have heard this way of eating referred to as our lovely friend, paleo).
Once your little ears have heard about this new way of eating, your gears start shifting. Without a doubt, you immediately had SOME sort of a reaction…fueled by a feeling. WHAAATTTT? (anger). AWESOME! (excitement). HUH?! (confusion). BUT I LOVE PASTA!! (sadness).
We now know these reactions are occurring because of our thoughts…our beliefs.
Totes, this will be no problem. Sweet, I love bacon! I will fight the s.o.b who tries to keep me from my morning bagel. Wait, no fat-free cottage cheese? Legumes?!What is a legume? My grandparents ate pretty much like that and lived to be ancient! My arteries are going to clog up! Are Lean Cuisine’s processed food?!? How am I going to get a six-pack eating fat?
Well Jumpin Jehoshaphat, it is almost like we are back in line at Starbucks!
- An event has occurred, which you cannot undo: you were told about paleo.
- Your beliefs came into play about this “paleo” event : the good, the bad, the ugly.
- Based on your beliefs, you had a reaction to paleo: yes, maybe, no, or maybe even hell no.
Reactions (feelings) lead to ACTIONS.
Like successfully eating in a new way…or not.
Where am I going with this?
YOU are the only one who has control over your actions in making a shift in the way you fuel your body. YOU lead the fight on making sure your beliefs, and thus your reactions and actions, are rational. If you are happy as a clam and think paleo is amazing and no problemo…then, PLEASE, keep on, keepin’ on. If changing the way you eat is something that a) you worry about constantly, b) a task which feels impossible, c) a task which seems unnecessary, or d) if it sounds like a big fat scam; then it is you who I am challenging…you believe what CFR has taught you about fitness, whether you believed from the beginning or it took until your knees stopped hurting or your weights started coming off the floor with more ease. Would we lead you wrong about your food…?
Do you need to address your beliefs to adjust your reaction?
Good, that is very good. Ask questions. Research. Learn the ‘why’. Make it fit your life. Challenge us. Challenge YOU.
Events will continue to occur.
How will you react?
Until Next Time…(promise it’ll be shorter and maybe even funnier)
The public pools may be closed, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still 3 weeks left of summer.
People are allll ready to jump right into fall with their pumpkin spiced lattes (which now are just psl, because you know, pumpkin spiced latte was entirely too difficult to say. And oh yes, you. Psl’s are Prettymuch Stinkin Lightyears from paleo-friendly. Again-just sayin’).
Today’s post is going to be in tidbit-form. Some info for you to drink in while you sip on the opposite of a psl, which we call BLACK COFFEE. Which happens to be delicious.
- That sports drink you continue to sneak (placing randomly on the gym floor so no one can identify it as yours), likely contains a poisonous chemical which is banned in more than 100 countries. Brominated Vegetable Oil, which is found in sports drinks and flame retardants (yummo!), competes with iodine in our bodies for receptors sites, robbing it of this essential nutrient. Elevated bromine levels have been linked to thyroid diseases, organ damage, birth defects, and schizophrenia-to name a few. Step away from the sports drinks. (Book Plug: Check out “Rich Food, Poor Food” for an interesting and fast read!)
- Coconut water packs a punch of potassium and also contains sodium, two great things to help you hydrate post sweat-fest. But have you been reading your labels? Many of the coconut water-like options on the shelves contain added sugars. Beware of terms like coconut juice, and take a peek at the label before buying. Dead give-away would be something along the line of ‘contains 98%’, or multiple ingredients listed. (I believe you can figure this out, even if the label is in Spanish!)
- Don’t necessarily run out and buy cases of coconut water; plain ol’ H2O is still the bees’ knees of hydration. It’s easy to come by and the price starts at: free. (Unless you were at my house in the last few months, where water was the price of gold. PSA: Have you checked your home for running toilets lately? Go.do.it.now.) Making sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day is essential, and water does the trick. Switch to seltzer or throw in a slice of lemon if you start to get bored. How much water? Listen to your body, when you are thirsty, drink. When it’s hot out or you’ve been lifting heavy shift and WODing, drink. (Remember-you are getting water from all the delicious paleo foods you are eating, too.)
Now that you are appropriately hydrated, here is something to chew on:
bacon! baked apples
These are the perfect treat to serve guests, your kids, or even as a side dish. They are also awesome for a quick breakfast on the go–enjoy with a few hard boiled eggs!
(recipe makes 12 apples)
Preheat oven to 375
For apple filling:
In a med-large skillet on medium heat, add 1tbsp coconut oil. Then add:
3/4 Cup fresh blueberries
3/4 Cup nuts (I used walnuts and pepitas)
1/2 Cup dried fruit (I used diced plums)
1/3 Cup cooked bacon pieces
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (1/4tsp if powdered)
Stir and let summer. Then add:
2tsp local honey (you may omit this!)
Let all ingredients simmer until blueberries begin to burst. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle.
-Core 12 small/medium Apples
-Grease a muffin pan **
-Place 1 cored apple in each muffin space
-Add a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice into each cored apple
Cover w foil and place on a cookie sheet (to avoid drips on your oven bottom!)
Bake for 40-50 minutes. Apples are ready when skins begin splitting and they are soft to the touch. (For a for firmer experience, remove closer to the 40 min mark. If you want an “apple sauce” experience, go for 50+!)
Serve however your little paleo (plus honey) heart desires. Drizzle with coconut milk, find some raw grass-fed whipping cream, or perhaps you’re indulging with a scoop of something frozen. Even alone, they are awesome-sauce!
Hmm…that was an awful fall-like recipe after my Summer snarky-ness…
Until Next Time…
1. Do Not Read Nutrition Labels
What’s that? You thought you were supposed to read all labels, to police for things like gluten, high fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil?
Real food does not have nutrition labels, and cooking paleo does not require them.
2. Crack an Egg
They aren’t just for breakfast, but dang- do they make a good breakfast! Eggs are an amazing source of all things paleo; including an awesome dose of vitamins and omega-3s. Eggs are uber-easy, and work for protein; planned or in a pinch. Hard-Boil a batch on Sunday night and you will have something on hand when time sneaks up on you during the week.
Find a source for local, free range eggs if you can (check out a farmer’s market- you won’t go home empty handed!).
If you can not, then here is a short egg-carton 101 lesson:
The following words on your egg carton are trying to FOOL YOU:
- 100% Vegetarian Fed ( chickens are not vegetarians, so these eggs may be depleted of the essential micronutrients that make them such powerhouses in the first place. Birds also love bugs!)
- Natural (this word is supposed to make you think of rolling hills dotted with the little cluckers, but means absolutely nothing. By default, a chicken and it’s egg is a ‘natural’ entity.)
- No Hormones (no eggs have hormones, even if they cost $1 at the corner Highs. USDA does not permit use of any hormones in any eggs.)
Look instead for these things to assure a better egg:
- USDA Certified Organic These eggs are guaranteed to come from chickens fed all organic feed (NO GMO!!) without antibiotics or pesticide. Chickens must be kept uncaged, with outside access. Yay, BUG access!!
- Pasture-raised An unregulated term, but nonetheless means that the chicken recieved at least some time roaming in a pasture. This allows access to both vegetation and BUGS…a more natural diet…leading to a better egg for you.
- Cage-Free/Free-Range Listed in order of favor, this only means that chickens literally aren’t caged, not that there is outside access. (Ahem…no BUGS.) Still, this is far better than the conditions in which chickens are generally raised. (Google it, if you dare.)
3. Learn to Sautee an Onion
They make boring taste delicious, in no time flat. I prefer sweet onions, but stock up on whatever you’d like.
If you always have:
♦an oven stove-top, ♦an onion, and ♦a pound (or six) of ground meat on hand
…then there is no ‘I didn’t have time to cook” excuse on hand. In less than 15 minutes, you can:
♦dice the onion, ♦throw onion in a skillet on medium heat with butter, ghee, or coconut oil and saute until soft, and then ♦add and cook meat until browned. ♦Season with whatever tickles your fancy and♦ throw on top of a bagged organic salad, or next to some cut up tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers you grabbed from the roadside stand or your backyard garden (Or from Giant, for goodness sake!)
K.I.S.S theory applies to cooking paleo ALWAYS. Keep it simple, son!!!
4. Roast Your Vegetables
- Can you preheat your oven to 400 degrees?
- Can you cut up a vegetable into thumb-sized pieces and throw on a cookie sheet? (avoid all actual-fingers, please)
- Can you drizzle oil and sprinkle sea salt?
- Can you cook until said thumb-sized pieces are soft and on the verge of turning brown? (30-50 mins depending on your veggie choice)
Then YOU, TOO, can roast a vegetable! And it will be a DELICIOUS experience, I promise you. Try it with cauliflower (approx 40 mins), or brussels sprouts (approx 45 mins). You will NOT be disappointed with the melt in your mouth experience. (You can even throw a load of laundry in, fold another, or watch a whole episode of Real Housewives of ___some random place___ while they roast. Or teach someone short and under your power how to do it. 10 sounds like a pretty good age to learn to roast stuff… yeah?)
5. Turn on Your Wife
Easy, now. By wife I mean crock pot. She will be your BFF because when you come home…THERE IS DINNER. And IT IS PALEO. No matter that you are the one who prepped this dinner…you will have already have forgiven and forgotten when you walk in the door with post-WOD-brain (technical term) and instead will have to focus on not kissing the crock pot before anyone else in your family.
Easiest recipe ever?
•Dice one sweet onion and add to bottom of crock pot. •Place 2-3 lbs boneless chicken breast or thighs on top. •Cover with big jar of (sugarless) salsa. •Cook 8 hours on low. •Shred with forks (or a pastry blender from your glutenous-days; that thing shreds chicken like a boss.) •Eat directly from wife. •Or add to soups, salads, lettuce wraps, lunches the next day…you get the idea.
Your wife can even make dairy-free fudge: this is how.
Or lasagna: wow!
What a woman.
6. Buy a Food Processor
Why? Because, you are smart. And you don’t have the dollars or desire to eat out all of the time. Or to spend every.single.second in your kitchen.
Buy a food processor.
With the ‘slice’ feature on your food processor, you can have a heaping pile of sliced zucchini, cucumber, mushroom, carrot…or ‘you name it’, in the amount of time it normally takes you to decide which knife to use. (“Is that the one I always cut myself with…or is it that one?”)
Shred attachment? Suddenly, sweet potato hash tastes even more amazing, because you don’t have a sore tricep from using your ancient, rusting, cheese grater. And cauliflower ‘rice’ is an actual option, one that takes less than 2 minutes to come to fruition. Cole slaw? Coming right up!!!
Pair that slice and shred with the ease of making mayonnaise, salsa, pesto, tomato sauce, pureeing cooked veggies…I could go on and on.
Buy a food processor.
Start small…I have this SUPER inexpensive Hamilton Beach model. One day, I may have something different. But for today, I can’t think of a single thing this $40 model leaves me wanting, other than more time to cook.
Until Next Time…
I feel like this post needs a strong rating. Like an R…PG-13 doesn’t seem to create enough fear. (Have you seen the stuff that is allowed in PG-13 movies nowaday? That stuff is crazy.) I digress. Why an R rating? Am I going to start cussing (more than usual) or showing pictures of naked crossfitting? No. (Sorry Pat and Kyle.)
Here is the why: ignoring the fake words and bad jokes, I spend a lot of time prepping these posts. I read, listen, double check, research, research some more, and try to find the best way to succinctly describe ginormous topics. I have never been more disgusted, in awe, shocked, surprised, scared…lets just say, HORRIFIED, than I was in the last couple weeks learning about GMO’s. The topic is enormous, and reads like a soap opera or a court stenographers’ recording of a nasty divorce battle. Remember. These posts are simply to offer information. YOU can then form your own opinion. Are there right v. wrong decisions when it comes down to what you put in your mouth? ABSOLUTELY. Have I come away with a clear idea of what I think about GMOs,? ABSOLUTELY. Does it comes across loud and clear? ABSOLUTELY. Am I here to judge or make opinions for anyone other than myself? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
SO. Here are the bare bones (How soft is that shirt, Mona and Melanie!?) break down of why you should be paying attention to three little letters, (no doubt put in that nonthreatening form to keep folks from wondering just what on earth it really stands for).
GMO=Genetically Modified Organism.
(YUM. I’ll have that!)
What it is.
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been scientifically altered using genetic engeneering techniques. GM food has had lab-replicated genes from other plants, animals, viruses, etc, added to it to create new, ‘better’ growth characteristics (i.e.; resistance to insects or drought). Once researchers get the results (
which they are paid to find), seeds from said results (ahem, plants) are collected, mass produced, and sold to farmers. Frankenfood. Yum.
Genetically modified (GM) foods first hit American stomachs in 1994. (Around the time CFR’s amazing 1st and 2nd year college athletes were born.) As of 2011, the US lead all countries in the production of GM crops. As of 2013, roughly 85% of corn, 91% of soybeans, and 88% of cotton produced in the United States are genetically modified. Approximately 70% of food found in grocery stores contains GMOs.
Why it is scary.
In what seems to have been a good gone bad scenario, the concept of helping people by improving foods through genetic modification went awry somewhere. As happens, in the midst, big industry, and big money got involved, further complicating the ability for people to CHOOSE whether or not they want to eat GMOs. Why? GM foods are not labelled in the US. Other countries (i.e.; Australia, India, France, New Zealand) have taken very different stances on growing, regulating, and labeling GMOs, with some countries banning them outright. One percent is the labeling threshold decided upon by Australia and New Zealand. The European Union decided on a level of 0.9 percent, while Japan has specified a five percent threshold.
“Though over 90 per cent of Americans are thought to support the labeling of genetically engineered foods, the Food and Drug Administration’s 1992 policy statement does not find GMO foods to be “materially”different from any other-as genetic differences cannot be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.
Since that FDA decision, the food industry has spent considerable resources to prevent GMO ingredient labeling. In 2012, a coalition of biotech corporations spent some $50 million on an ad blitz against a GMO labeling law which was ultimately defeated in California.” (Link)
Since GM crops are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, they pose different risks from non-GM crops. Research has shown that GM crops:
- Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
- Do not increase yield potential
- Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
- Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
- Have mixed economic effects
- Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
- Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
- Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
Put this on your to-read list.
Last word that makes GMOs scary sons’ o guns? There have been no long term studies or clinical trials using humans to show the effects of GMO foods. Check this out for just some of the crazy things which have happened to animals fed GM food (intestinal damage, heavy livers, cancer…and so on).
Where you find it.
There are nine main GM food crops: soy, corn, cotton (used for oil), canola, sugar beets (used in most US sugar), Hawaiian and Chinese papaya, some zucchini and yellow crook neck squash, and alfalfa (used for hay).
Yup, your brains are headed in the right direction… Most processed food contains at least one of those ingredients, very often in the form of soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup. Conventionally raised meat is chowing down on a feed mixture of grains and soy (and other gross stuff).
How to avoid it.
- Buy organic. Foods certified organic are produced without excluded methods (genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.) USDA Organic Labeling Guide can be found here.
- Look for packages labeled ‘Non GMO’.
- Choose organic or local, pasture-raised meat (and dairy products) to avoid GMO-filled animal feed.
- Buy local. Talk to the farmer about their methods.
When should you start.
No one likes to be tricked into doing things they have not made a choice to do. If you choose to eat or feed your family GMOs, that is far different than knowingly consuming foods which are being linked to a rise in everything from leaky gut to autism.
According to US hospital discharges and ambulatory admissions records data, inflammatory bowel disease in the US population skyrocketed by 40% since the introduction of GMOs. Many in the medical community strongly suspect that GMOs are a major contributor.
Family practitioners agree: “We know food allergies are on the rise and also diseases related to common foods, like celiac disease. Patients report that dairy products make them wheeze, or tomatoes give them joint pains. It’s as though our food is harming us. Something is happening. And if the intestines are playing a big role, and we’re getting the sense they are, then any change in our diet becomes a suspect.”
Check out this guide for avoiding GMOs.
You don’t let your kids watch R movies, right? Let’s work on getting back to feeding them G-rated food, too.
Until Next Time…