Basic Recipes & Local Treats

I often turn my nose at the idea of “paleo-izing” items from modern food culture. Bread, brownies, pancakes, noodles… attempting to recreate these items doesn’t allow you to fully change your habits. One of the first rules of new habits: Set yourself up for success. Not failure.

In my head, I either change or don’t change. Eating paleo bread makes me want to choose regular bread when there isn’t a paleo option. While I’m pretty black and white for myself, I understand folks may be easing their way into this lifestyle change or, perhaps, look to such food items for comfort or tradition.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

That said, I’ve been known to bake chocolate chip cookies from time to time. You can find my Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in Paleo Parent‘s first book “Eat Like A Dinosaur” along with an arsenal of approachable go-to’s for families or people with a traditional palate including freezable chicken nuggets, fruit roll ups, waffles and more. I respect their copyright and would encourage you to check out the book for yourself, it’s been one of the most used recipe books in our house! Not to mention, there is a children’s book, their familiar back story of (un)health and an easy-to-read allergy index included on every single page.

Now that I got you all amped up on the idea of a delicious chocolate chip cookie, I’ve got great news for my local friends! Betsy’s Bakery created their first prototype! As soon as I saw their Facebook post about Paleo cookies, I grabbed a kid and headed right over. As the story goes, Betsy has Celiac disease and her bakery is entirely gluten-free! She also has dairy free, vegan and now (the most healthy of all) paleo options!

Betsy's Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten free repertoire.

Betsy’s Bakery in Mechanicsburg, PA has recently added a delicious PALEO cookie to their gluten-free repertoire. Remember to support local commerce for the things you want in your life or don’t complain when it’s lacking.

When we chatted briefly about her chocolate chip cookies, future recipes and marketing to the audience of these sweet morsels, she thought Fridays would be a great day to offer fresh Paleo items. I agreed! As a used-to-be Crossfit’er I know how focused I was during the week, but by Friday it was definitely time for a reward. What better way to celebrate then with a naturally sweetened, protein and (good) fat packed dessert that tastes like a cheat, but isn’t! Remember to refrigerate paleo baked goods – fresh ingredients stay fresher when chilled.

ROASTED VEGETABLES

Paleo eating is easy and shouldn’t overwhelm anyone with ‘how to cook’. I am not, repeat, AM NOT a ‘good cook’. In fact, I didn’t begin really cooking, or understanding how to cook, until I decided to eat paleo. Plants and protein, so EASY. I typically roast or crock pot large proteins, I’ll pan cook smaller portions of proteins, and sauté or roast veggies. The creativity comes in the spice blends, medleys and pairings.

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To roast veggies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Add a dollop of coconut oil or grass-fed butter to a baking sheet
  3. Place in oven till oil is melted
  4. Toss chopped veggies onto sheet
  5. Season to taste (salt, pepper and garlic are my go-to’s, be as simple or creative as you’d like with your spice)
  6. Toss veggies every 10-15 minutes until desired  – typically around 25-30 minutes for most of my vegetables – the softer the veggie the faster it cooks so I may wait to add onions to a sheet until half way through, etc
After greasing the pan, dip your veggie fries in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours with preferred seasonings.

After greasing the pan, dip your fry-cut veggies in egg then a blend of coconut & almond flours and preferred seasonings. It’s definitely a special treat in our house. Who has time for dredging?

Alternatively – and a great way to cook ‘fries’ (sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, etc):

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Chop vegetables to even sizing, add to bowl
  3. Pour melted coconut oil or grass-fed butter on top
  4. Season with preferred blend
  5. Mix
  6. Add to baking sheet
  7. Toss every 10-15 minutes until cooked

CHICKEN on the bone

I get asked how I roast my chicken a lot. I forget how something so simple can feel so scary for a new cook. It wasn’t 3 years ago that I cooked less than 10% of the time and now I do most of the cooking/preparing. Paleo food is EASY and that’s the whole point. While I roast/bake most of my chicken the same way (350 and flip/marinate every 20 minutes till cooked – whole birds I flip every 40 minutes) the wings I made for dinner tonight were too good not to share. I only regret I didn’t take a snapshot, but they were gone before I gave it a thought. Moist and crispy. They were a flavor so delicious the whole family enjoyed them.

I bake my wings and other chicken parts atop a cookie cooling rack, over tin foil on a baking sheet. Sophisticated.

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place wings on rack apparatus mentioned above, or something similar
  3. Brush with coconut oil or grass-fed butter
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Savory Spice Shop‘s Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning: Hickory smoke salt, Hungarian and California paprika, roasted garlic, toasted onion, black pepper, hickory smoke flavoring and oregano OR ANY OTHER SPICE/MARINADE YOU CONJURE UP
  5. Bake for 20 minutes
  6. Flip wings and repeat steps 3, 4 then 5
  7. When timer goes off the 2nd time, flip wings as you place them onto the tin foil covered baking sheet
  8. Wrap wings – I use an additional piece of foil for leaking and insulation – place in oven
  9. Turn heat up to 450
  10. Bake for 10 minutes
  11. Flip foil package and turn off oven – this is when I make salads, get the table set, etc.
  12. ENJOY!
A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! I haven't made them since I originally posted this photo, perhaps I'll make a batch for an impending slumber party.

A friend recently tried my Cookie Bar recipe and was delighted! It’s been some time since I made a batch, perhaps I’ll whip some up for a certain (about-to-be) 5 year old’s slumber party. A special treat packed with protein!


“Everyday is the Fourteenth”

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.

Treat-focused holiday traditions need not apply! This year, my girls took some of their extra crayons, peeled, cracked and tossed them into a silicone heart-shaped mold I happen to have in the house and reshaped them.
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We were crayon making machines until I haphazardly turned the oven on for dinner, while the last batch was still cooling, and almost ended up burning the house down. I coated my oven in wax, melted the molds and yelled for help when I saw flames. The fact that this happens all-too-often was proven when my husband didn’t even come running. Don’t worry, I took care of it…and husband cleaned out the oven a few days later. (WIN!)

For her class Valentine’s, my little one decorated heart-shaped cut outs with cute little faces, wrote her name on the back and taped a crayon to it (they LOVE tape!). My older daughter ended up taping a sticker (yes, taping a sticker) to each of her heart crayons, then adding that and a small box of stickers to a ziplock baggie for her friends.

For my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher, we checked out Pinterest for a few ideas and settled on using items we had in the house. PERFECT. A cleaned out jar, a box of pencils, paperclips and a few binder clips created the perfect setting for a Love Bouquet. I had her write 5 little notes to her teacher on cut hearts and we clipped them to a few pencils. I think it will bring a smile to Mrs. P’s face, my 5 yo agrees!

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“I like math and science” and “I like you because you are helpful” are two sentiments written by my 5yo to her teacher.

Although I agree, “Everyday is the Fourteenth” I will give in and celebrate tomorrow by having a love-fest of our own, beginning (but certainly not ending) with heart-shaped pancakes upon a Valentine’s place setting with special cups, homemade Valentine notes for each of my girls, some stickers, red and pink glitter glue and a fresh supply of TAPE! I bet they are most hype about the tape. We’re fresh out…if you can believe it.

What will you do to celebrate?


There’s an App for that!

I’m on my iPhone all the time. Whether I’m looking up a word in the dictionary, scheduling my calendar, posting to Pushups and Carrots on Facebook or using it to log my workout, everything I want or need is handy! I’m not a junkie, however. I have 1 page of apps. And I’m not a gamer so everything I download is a tool with a purpose.

Here are a few of my favorite apps that help keep me focused, motivated, and in shape. AND THEY’RE FREE.

 

  • dirtydozenDirty Dozen – Simply lists the 12 most contaminated fruits and veggies. 5 servings from this list will bring no less than 14 different pesticides into your body a day. YUCK. You’ll want to buy these 12 plants organic whenever possible. The app also offers a Clean 15 list which you can find deals on since you’re not committed to organic-only options. It’s an easy go-to when I’m in the produce section. They even have a list of 53 fruits and veggies ranked in order of most pesticides. Apples are #1. I believe 5lb bags of organic apples are on sale this week at GIANT. Just saying.

 

  • nongmononGMO – I’m the asshole standing in the organic aisle just staring at her cell phone. I promise I’m doing something valuable, not texting my girlfriends. Typically, I’m comparing brands via my nonGMO app and finding the brand who doesn’t use genetically modified organisms in their ingredients. I am especially interested if this is a non-paleo item, as I want it to be as clean and wholesome as possible for my 4 and 5 year olds’ bodies. Just because something is labeled organic, does not mean it is the best choice. Research your food.

 

  • workoutsWorkouts – This takes the guess-work out of what exercise routine to perform when I’m running behind, only have 30 mins and can’t think straight because I just rolled out of bed. Choose your target area ie; abs, arms, butt, legs, cardio or full body, then choose your length of time 10-30 minutes. Only have 5 minutes? Make it count. The app provides a count down during each exercise so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it also shows a video of the movement along with posted tips for best form and technique. EASY PEASY. Remember to stretch.

 

What are your favorite apps? PLEASE SHARE!


RESOLUTE!

I am a BIG fan of resolutions. Clear, focused goals that will allow you to become a better person or adjust your lifestyle positively; something that is within reason, yet breaks you out of your usual mold; a goal which allows you to feel successful.

I am proud to state that my #1 resolution for 2012 was to get houseplants. More importantly, though, it was to keep them alive indefinitely. Guess what? I DID IT!!! Allow me to introduce a few…

I adopted the bulk of my plants from my mother's lush collection. Most of the little fellers live in the Play Room.

I adopted the bulk of my plants from my mother’s lush collection. Most of the little fellers live in our Play Room.

I think this is a Jade. My cousin-in-law's mother-in-law gifted me a sprig after admiring her beautiful tree.

I think this tall guy is a Jade. My cousin-in-law’s mother-in-law gifted me a sprig after I admired her beautiful tree.

This guy has grown 4xs his size, was repotted twice and is due for another. His little buddy brother has a home in our Living Room.

This guy has grown 4xs his size, has been re-potted twice and is due for another. His little brother has a home in our Living Room and is, thankfully, much less work.

The plants have brought new life into a house that I keep as stark and modern as possible with children and a collector husband living within. They’ve grounded me during a whirlwind year where I closed a business, started school and changed my career. A simple watering schedule provides routine to my week and breathes life into something. Instant gratification. Plus, my plants don’t shout for “Mama!” all day or fight with their sister. They are calm.

'Viva la Paleo!' Robb Wolf

‘ Viva la Paleo! ‘    Robb Wolf

Alas, not all resolutions survive, as starting a blog (THIS blog) was one of them. Well, I started it…and then maintained it…and then I ignored it. I believe my last post was made in July. Half way through the year isn’t too shabby, but no prize. I have received a lot of feedback from the Pushups and Carrots page on Facebook and I appreciate all the love and support, the questions and comments you’ve provided. I felt as if I hit on many of the topics that were a struggle for me as I began my Paleo lifestyle and that was my purpose in starting the blog. I am now finding new purpose through conversations with friends, old and new, and a year of go-go-go wrapping up. I am more than ready for a new year, a new me, and a new purpose!

Despite the odd number, 2013 is being met with zest! I’ve been inspired by so many of you and others who garden (another 2012 resolution which was successful…for most of the harvest) This year, I will grow AS MUCH of the produce we eat as possible. The pay-off is amazing, delicious and creates an immense sense of self-satisfaction to walk outback, cut a few things into a bowl and walk back inside to enjoy it with your family. YUM.  More to come on the crops I plan for 2013. I started my spreadsheet last night! I also look forward to using the results of my Mother’s Day gift from 2012, fresh COMPOST!

Keeping with the gardening theme, my 5yo (the once 4yo who named this blog) came up with a great idea: a garden meant for giving. She would like to bring flowers to people “so (she) can help them”. Adorable and doable! We’ve been gradually planting wildflowers for a number of years now, with a few additional cutting flowers planted, I’m certain we’ll have plenty of bouquets to give out and people to meet in the process.

Fresh eggs!

I pay anywhere from $4-6 a dozen for non-grain eggs.

While the garden is my main focus for 2013, I’d also REALLY like a few Rhode Island Reds. My brother, who has his own brood, offered to help with the coup. Although I’m up against a few pesky laws, I have confidence in my plan. (Keep your fingers crossed!) That being said, I’m also resoluting to hang a proper clothing line and start my year off with a Whole30 as well as 30 days of fitness. Now for the Big Daddy of resolutions, and one I’m not fully confident in (much like the feeling I had about the houseplants, which were a major success, if-I-do-say-so-myself) a year with absolutely NO white sugar.

That shit creeps its way into everything.

All in all, I’ll choose to live by this little mantra I found attached to this afternoon’s tea: “To be great, feel great, and act great.”

2013 Resolutions:

  1. Produce Garden
  2. Flower Garden for Giving
  3. No white sugar
  4. Chickens (shh, don’t tell anyone)
  5. Proper Clothing Line

January specific Resolutions:

  1. Whole30
  2. 30 days of Fitness

BAM! What do you think? What are your resolutions?

I wonder which resolutions will be my biggest successes of 2013 and which will perish amidst the chaos of my new career… Exciting.


Cravings… ugh.

I’m going to approach this post in a different way because I just don’t have the time or energy to write all that I would like on this subject. Cheating? Perhaps, but sometimes cheaters win. It’s true and you know it. At least I’m still offering you the information in the links I have supplied below (READ THEM!). I apologize for not elaborating in a more personal tone – NEXT TIME!

Get your sugar from another source.

Why do you crave unhealthy carbs?  Here you go!

  • 5 Reasons Women Crave Carbs – Easy to read, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I will say, however, that Emily Deans, M.D. once noted the sugar/sweets/carbs craving during our menstrual cycle could relate right back to the nature of the beast: breast milk. Our first taste of sugar. Lactose, is a sugar. Carbs turn to sugar. Lack of nutrition craves food, comfort, taste. You see the cycle here? Eat real food as often as you’re hungry and you will fill the nutrition gap. That doesn’t mean you will lose those cravings, of course, but you will learn the difference between hunger and craving.
  • Why Do I Crave Carbs?  – Put down the carbs. Seriously. Fill your body with fat and protein from optimal sources and it won’t ‘need’ these simple carbohydrates, it will eventually stop craving them. Of course, that takes a long time, but it happens. One day you’ll wake up and that birthday cake just doesn’t do it for ya anymore.
  • Eat Carbs Crave Carbs – Evil little rascals.

Remember: THEY MAKE YOU SICK.

Ideas to curb the cravings?

  • 20 Tips – Here’s a handy flip through, which I’d like to add “Brush Your Teeth” to – usually comes in handy for those late night cravings. Drink a glass of water, brush your teeth, GO TO BED.

Bad habits need to be broken. It can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the habit. Bad habits have immediate payoffs – good habits are established for a reason. All things are possible. REMEMBER: you are in control. The food you put in your mouth doesn’t magically appear inside. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s possible.

Find your motivation. Achieve your goals. Be your best.

Please share your go-to tips for curbing a craving in the comments or on our Facebook page dedicated to Pushups and Carrots. We are a community focused on wellness, become an active participant.


PaleoFX – Robb Wolf

Disclaimer: I’ve had this post written for a while but was hesitant to post it due to the level of frivolity found within. I mean I AM a little obsessed with the guy, at least in a dude-changed-my-way-of-thinking-calls-for-a-little-love kind of way. He’s smart and humble and interested in one thing: education. Back to my point; here is the post he published tonight, why he rocks and the reason I relate to him so strongly:

“How Do I convince Someone to Try”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m up to, what I’m trying to accomplish. And I think it boils down to this: I want people to know they have another option. You don’t need sulfonyurea drugs to “treat” your diabetes.  You don’t need to HAVE diabetes! Not many people are aware of this. I am, and I feel morally obligated to get that message out to as many people as I possibly can. Nicki’s mom died from complications surrounding her Rheumatoid arthritis. THREE MONTHS before Nicki met me. How many testimonials do we have on the blog from people putting RA into remission? A dozen? I know in the blogoshpere there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of examples…and it’s just not happening fast enough because wonderful, good people will die needlessly because I’ve failed to get this idea “out there” faster.”

And here is what I originally wrote about Robb and my experience in Austin, but had yet to publish – why the hell not?

Robb just relaunched his site http://www.RobbWolf.com with a new format.

ROBB WOLF.

A number of years ago, when I was first introduced to the concept of paleo eating, a friend told me to read RobbWolf.com. That address was the starting point from which I began a journey focused on something that had everything to do with the quality of life I was interested in obtaining, and more importantly, sharing that info with others

Long story short: Robb changed my life by being a seemingly laid back guy with just enough sciency know-how to get his point across in a firm and direct fashion. (DIG.) The message made sense and he makes connections with folks, not because he necessarily likes you, but he cares about an individual’s quality of life and if he truly thinks you’re listening he’ll teach you things that will help you. After listening to his podcasts and reading his work, I was delighted to see him in action on a Discovery Channel’s Curiousity mini-series called ‘I, Caveman‘ where they referred to him as a “writer” and not a “bio chemist”. (Okay, you got me, I was more than delighted, I was HYPE!) Robb was super casual, helpful and he killed an elk with an atlatl. I mean, seriously. My harmless obsession has only remained strong as Robb continues to delivery constant, varied and life-saving information. I’m such a geek, in fact, my husband got me a personalized-signed copy of his book last Christmas. Best gift ever.

After witnessing the Ancestral Health Symposium from a far last fall, I decided if there were another gathering of Paleo-minds I was going to be there. Much to my delight, PaleoFX was created and I immediately tweeted Robb, asking if he’d be presenting. His answer: YES. I purchased my ticket, booked my flight and tried to contain my nutrition-geekery for the next 3 months until I was on the plane to Austin.

Imagine my excitement when I saw him in person at the keynote event. (I’m giddy just thinking about it.) He felt very familiar, just standing there in front of me. So, two vodka and limes later, I was ready to creep on him and ask for a photo. My Austin roommate was kind enough to snap a pic with my phone (THANKS CORI!).

Robb Wolf and I - YAY!

I then insisted on a photo of him and one of our new ‘Paleo’ friends, Ben LaMonte of Inside the Box Athletics. He looks like Robb, right? Come on, maybe a brother or cousin? At least when they weren’t standing next to each other, Ben resembled Robb… and in a room where Robb was to be appearing… can you imagine the whispers?

 and

You see what they’re doing there? What a nice guy! Confident and informed and willing to save your life. Have I mentioned he’s expecting his first child? I can’t wait to see how this plays out. Good luck to he and his wife. His daughter or son is in good hands.

Of course there were dozens of other intriguing and informed presenters at this event. I wasn’t there just to see Robb Wolf. I definitely would have stalked him more if that were the case. Glad I got it out of my system on the first night.

 
Also check out Pushups and Carrots on Facebook. 


Good Mood Food

This term is also a slogan of a fast food chain near my home. I cringe every day as I drive by the gigantic sign. The processed, breaded and sugary foods they promote are actually the exact opposite of ‘good mood food’. I challenge you to prove me wrong after turning your diet towards a clean menu. I’ve already told you why I’m committed to Paleo, now let me tell you why the food you choose will help you regain control of your mood.

Medical doctors are not necessarily educated on nutrition, and I’m not sure why, as the food we eat affects our bodies entirely. From weight and disease to behavior and mood, we are able to manipulate so many variables by the food choices we make, not to mention the medications we are prescribed. It’s amazing how the positive effects of natural foods follow right in line with the paleo way of eating. (Are you really surprised?)

Depression seems to be a huge trend among the folks I know and I know it’s not just me. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say 17 million adults experienced a major depressive episode within the last 5 years. Whether it’s seasonal or a lifelong battle, it’s a weight I hate to hear anyone is carrying. Just yesterday, a woman confided she was hospitalized last year because of a severe depressive episode. BREAK MY HEART. She was morbidly obese, pre-diabetic, and riddled with arthritis. All things which clean eating can effect a positive way.

If you’ve read my ‘Committed’ blog then you know I’ve dealt with mental illness for a long time. I am currently experiencing the longest span of clear-headedness that I can remember, with the most control and awareness over my moods that I’ve ever had. It does not come easy, of course, nothing does. I work hard at this. When I become lax in clean eating, which has happened, I immediately see signs of returned illness in the ways of unexplained sadness, lethargy, ease of aggravation and a slew of other unwanted characteristics.

The best “Good Mood Food” I can suggest:

Protein: Proteins rich in amino acids and tyrosine can help boost energy and clear your foggy head, allowing you to concentrate and perform better. Tyrosine helps in the production of dopamine, a mood enhancing neurotransmitter often lacking in folks with depression. Although research is lacking on increasing your tyrosine intake to battle depression, it seems to make sense, no? Protein also fuels your body for longer periods than empty carbs or foods heavy in sugar. There is no spike, either positive or negative, in blood sugar levels when you focus on protein and plants in your diet, also allowing for a stable mood. Foods rich in tyrosine include: poultry, fish, almonds, bananas.

Carbs: Carbs are not all created equal. What I call ‘green carbs’ include fruits and vegetables. Starchy, grain-heavy carbs are where you get your belly fat, weight gain and unstable mood. Fill your body with fresh or frozen produce to allow yourself a healthy and necessary intake of carbohydrates. Choose sweet potatoes or yams over white pots for that heavier/filling feeling a lot of people miss. (The fresher you eat, the less you will miss feeling weighed down and full of stuff.) It may take some adjustments in both desire and habit, but a clean diet is worth it. TRUST ME! Once you detox from sugars and grain, your body will react positively to the increased nutrition it will begin to receive. Mood will be effected immediately. Watch out for those nasty habits, though, take a bite of that sticky bun at the next brunch or office share and your body will crave it all over again. Just say NO (as often as you can).

Vitamin B: Vitamin Bs do not stay in your body, so your daily food intake is imperative to maintaining a healthy level of B. A deficiency in B will bring on fatigue, mania and depression. HELLO! The Top 10 foods heavy in Vitamin B include seafood, beef and eggs. I keep a liquid form of Vitamin B Complex on my bedside table and a pill form on the vitamin shelf. I take then when I feel yucky, bummed or aggravated. I will try to take some in the future when I am overwhelmed by my own energy. It will be interesting to see if that could help the ‘mania’ I experience sometimes, and help to regain control in calming down. Life is an experiment.

Water: Chronic dehydration is more common than you may assume. Coffee and teas, along with many other water based options, act as a diuretic and wash out through urination, instead of being absorbed by the very thing that needs it most, your body. You MUST drink water or you’ll experience things like heartburn, reflux, joint pain or exacerbated arthritis, asthma, constipation and of course DEPRESSION. Any of this sound familiar to you? It all comes back to the production of amino acids needed to produce serotonin in the brain, which take a lot of water to move through the body. Do you drink enough water? 8 glasses minimum. Drink more. I may have to write more about this…

SO MANY simple choices affect our quality of life. Choose wisely. And when you choose poorly, make a better choice next time. No one is perfect, including myself. I don’t waste time beating myself up over poor choices, I just decide to choose to do better. This is ALL about you. You are not failing as long as you are still living. My wish is that you, the collective people of the world, choose to live as healthy, informed, and completely as possible.

It’s a good time.