Monday, March 18, 2013

Cocoa Coffee Chili Rubbed Pulled Pork

Happy Post-St. Patty's Day!  Hope you all had some fun yesterday--I know that the free Guinness the Coach and I got at our local Irish pub ensured we had a great time.  It's been a little while since we've really gone out on March 17th, and the Coach and I rarely go to a bar just the two of us.  It felt nice and date-like, something we don't do often enough :)

Workout

After our celebratory festivities yesterday, I was feeling a bit (a lot) sluggish this morning so I decided to just hop on the upright bike for 40 minutes and finish up my InStyle magazine.  Since I've gotten in better shape this past year, I've learned that you can't force a workout.  Some days I get to the gym and I'm just not feeling in to it at all.  If I'm semi-motivated I'll opt for one of the treadmill workouts I print out and stash in my locker (I'm lucky that my gym is so easygoing--I get to keep my precious jump rope and cardio routines under free lock and key).  When I'm truly feeling indifferent, I opt for some bike action, and I keep extra magazines stashed in my locker for those unmotivated moments.  I find that if I make myself do the tougher workout prescribed in the Coach's program when I'm truly not in the mood, I lack good form and the urge to push myself up in weight.  I'm obviously not waking up at 5AM for nothing, so having some easier back up plans mean I never waste my time.

Eats

I don't use my crockpot all that often when cooking for the Coach, since he once commented that everything that comes out of my slow cooker tastes the same.  Clearly, he's wrong and has since recanted his statement, but ever since I've been hesitant to use it.  Lately I've been relying on my slow cooker buffalo chicken as my lunch protein, but I decided to mix it up yesterday with the hope that the Coach would sneak a taste and be won over by my crockpot skills.  Result?  Win for the Debs today!  I adapted this cocoa coffee chili rubbed pulled pork from Gabby's Gluten Free, and the result was absolutely delicious!

Cocoa coffee chili rubbed pulled pork
Ingredients:
4-5lb pork butt/shoulder
1T ground coffee
2T cocoa powder
1T chili powder
3/4t ground cinnamon
1/4t dried thyme
1/2t salt
1/2t cayenne
chicken stock (enough to go half-way up pork, 1 can for me)
1/4c apple cider vinegar

Mix together all of the dry ingredients and pat on the pork.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with some cooking fat until very hot, then brown each side of the pork (I left the pork on each side for about 4 minutes to get a nice sear).  Meanwhile, add the stock and apple cider vinegar to the crockpot.  Once properly seared, add the pork to the pot and cook on low for 8 hours.  Enjoy!

DSC_1803
http://gabbysgfree.com/2012/11/cocoa-coffee-chili-rubbed-pulled-pork/

 I have a confession to make.  I totally forgot to add the ground coffee to the rub.  I had already browned my pork and submerged it partly in the stock when I realized, so I wasn't sure how to add the coffee at that point.  Enter the Coach's random but consistently correct culinary genius: he recommended added some brewed coffee directly to the stock.  I added probably between 1/4-1/2c coffee and it turned out perfectly.  This pork had such an interesting flavor, with a sweet, savory, and spicy taste that I honestly have never enjoyed before.  Most pulled pork is made with a mountain of sugar, so this is a delicious Whole30-compliant option.  Seriously, if you like pulled pork and are up for something different, give this recipe a try.  I'm pumped to have leftovers in my lunch all week!

Hope everyone's week is off to a good start!  To all those Northeasterner's: drive safely tomorrow!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lime and Coconut Chicken

Alright I thought March was supposed to usher in Spring.  What is the deal with the snow squal Friday night and the brisk temperatures this morning?  This makes me feel like I'm going to wake up one day and it will have jumped straight to 90 degrees.  And then I'll be complaining again.  Who doesn't love living in the Northeast?

Eats

For some reason I really hate marinating foods.  I used to make a huge batch of chicken every week, which I would marinate one night and then cook the next.  I'm not sure why, but cooking dinner and then having to prep the next night's meal right away always gave me dread.  Once food is on the table, I like to be done in the kitchen; this is one reason why I love the Coach--he does chores that I just hate doing, like cleaning up after dinner.  Lately I've been trying to adjust recipes that recommend marinating by simmering the meat in the marinade, thus turning the mixture in to more of a sauce.  This usually works pretty well because I like to eat lots of ruffage with dinner, and veggies take on a lot of flavor by mixing them with the marinade ingredients.  This Lime and Coconut Chicken had a really interesting flavor, and tasted delicious served along side roasted butternut squash.  It went like this:

Lime and coconut chicken
Ingredients:
1.5lb bonless skinless chicken thighs, cut in to bite-sized pieces
3T cooking oil
zest and juice of 1 lime
1t ground cumin
1t ground coriander
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
1T sriracha
1 serrano chili, minced
handful of cilantro, chopped

In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the chicken seasoned with s&p, cooking until a nice brown crust forms.  While the chicken is cooking, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Once the chicken is cooked, take it out and let it rest on a plate.  Add the mixture in to the pan and use a spoon to scrape up the bits, and let cook for 2 minutes to thicken.  Next, slide the cooked chicken back in, reduce heat to medium-low for about 5 minutes to let everything hang out and mingle.  Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

http://chaosinthekitchen.com/2009/07/lime-and-coconut-chicken/


I served this alongside butternut squash mixed with olive and s&p, roasted at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  The sweetness of the squash went really well with the spicy, savory chicken.  The Coach and I really loved this one, and I'm pretty pumped I was able to adapt this recipe to exclude the marinating process I dislike so much.  Delicious!








Workout

Yesterday's workout was a quick combination of 3 circuits that I was able to bang out in 20 minutes.  Love that!

KB swing: 10 reps x 3 sets, max 16kg
Alternating bear crawl hold: 3 x 5ea

Bench jumps: 5 x 3 sets
Push-ups: 5 reps x 3 sets

Lateral bound: 3 x 3 sets
Dumbell plank row: 5ea x 2 sets, 15lb dumbells

Bear crawl holds are basically when you're on all fours but you're holding your knees up off the ground.  The alternating hold comes in when you lift one hand and the opposite foot, squeezing your abs like crazy to keep your shoulders/hips from shifting around.  It's hard, and harder when you're huffing and puffing after swings.  Swings give me crazy red-face.  I ended this workout with jumping rope intervals, 30s on 30s off, 8 times.  Woof, I was a legit sweaty mess after this--who knew you could become so drenched after 30 minutes?

Gah I can't believe it's already Sunday, who else is ready for a vacation?  I'm going back to CT for a few days next week, and I'm SO looking forward to catching my breath with my family for a bit :)

Orange Chicken

Good morning everyone!  I was planning on writing something up last night, but I had a goodbye dinner last night for one of my closest friends who's moving to Connecticut today :(  Very sad, so I just couldn't muster the energy to type up anything remotely positive.  Sigh...life will be much less giggly without you, Kellie...

Anyway, I plan on pushing down my feelings of despair by reliving a delicious meal I made last week.

Eats

I've made Health-Bent's Paleo Orange Chicken before and this recipe is just as successful as the ones I've made in the past.  As usual I made some tweaks because I'm incapable of following a recipe exactly.  This is why I don't bake.  My dessert disasters over the past few years: a batch of brownies that were burnt on the bottom and raw in the center, plus a coffee cake made with the wrong size eggs that caused it to basically become a pudding in a bunt pan.  Luckily I have excellent taste in selecting cupcakes from the bakery.  I digress...here's how this one went down:

Paleo orange chicken
Ingredients:
1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in to bite-sized pieces
3T fat
juice of 2 oranges
zest from 1 orange
1t fresh ginger
1/4c low-sodium tamari (aminos, soy, etc)
1T sriracha
1/4c coconut milk

In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the chicken seasoned with s&p, cooking until a nice brown crust forms (don't move around your chicken too much, because letting it sits is what creates that yummy coating).  While the chicken is cooking, mix the remaining ingredients except the coconut milk in a bowl.  Once the chicken is cooked, take it out and let it rest on a plate.  Add the coconut milk to the pan for 1 minute, using a spoon to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom.  Then add the orange/ginger/tamari/sriracha mixture to the pan and let it thicken for about 2 minutes.  Next, slide the cooked chicken back in, reduce heat to medium-low for about 5 minutes to let everything hang out and mingle.  Done!

Paleo Chinese Orange Chicken
http://www.health-bent.com/poultry/paleo-orange-chicken
 I served this over steamed broccoli and it was delicious.  I increased the amount of tamari from the original recipe and added coconut milk to make more of a sauce that would coat the veg, which results in a thick, creamy sauce that's hard to not scoop up directly from the pan.  Yum.  Now this recipe is a paleo-take on standard orange chicken, and I should warn you that it does not taste much like its sugary predecessor, but I really recommend you try this one because it's just that good. 

Workout

Yesterday's workout was a solid one.  It combined some of my favorite exercises and was quick to boot.  Win-win.  The program the Coach wrote for me this time around is rocking my world. 

1-arm 1-leg KB deadlift: 5 reps x 3 sets, 20kg max
Chin-ups (assisted): 3 reps x 3 sets, 30lb max (or should I call it min, since the goal is to decrease your assistance?)
KB lateral lunge to press-out: 5 reps x 3 sets, 12kg max
Half-kneel 1-arm KB shoulder press: 3 reps x 3 sets, 12 kg max
Alternating side-plank: 3 x 5ea

I have to admit that I can't do lateral lunges.  For whatever reason doing that move, especially to the left, gives me patello-femoral pain.  I'm prone to that since I have super-duper-hyperextended knees and some loose cartilage floating around my right knee that sometimes likes to cause it to lock up and me to fall down.  So I changed that one to a reverse lunge.  Oh well.  I finished the lift up with battle rope intervals, 20s on 40s off, 10 times.  Hello jello arms.

Hope everyone has some fun weekend plans!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Casserole




Hello all!  We've been enjoying spring-like temperatures in this neck of the woods lately, but the rainy weather today gave me a taste of "Summer Debs"--when the weather turns muggy, I become the crankiest monster you've ever seen.  My bad mood is proportional to my hair--the wilder my hair grows (humidity + curls = major 'fro), the grouchier I become.  Total big hair status at work today.  Ugh, here we go.

On that lovely note, I did manage to bang out a hardcore workout today.

Workout


Stability ball leg curls 6 reps x 3 sets
Dumbell rows 5 reps x 3 sets, max 40lb
Dumbell goblet squat 5 reps x 3 sets, max  55lb
1-arm dumbell bunch 5 reps x 3 sets, max 35lb
1-arm farmer carries 30 yard carry x 3, max 16kg

After rack pulls yesterday, my scaps were screaming so the rows and farmer carries were killer.  Farmer carries involve just holding a very heavy weight (in my case 16kg kettlebell), squeezing tight with your hand making sure you shoulders are pulled back and down, and just traipsing around with your abs engaged.  I have a love-hate relationship with carries of any kind, because I have pretty weak grip strength so holding anything heavy for longer than a few reps is a struggle for me.  However, I am passionate about people-watching so I like any opportunity to sneak peaks at what everyone else is up to while strolling around with a heavy load.  Yeah, I'm that gym creeper ;)

I finished this up with a 10 minute walk on the treadmill at 3.5mph and 15 incline.  I felt like I was basically walking at a 90 degree angle, and my arms were pumping a silly amount.

Eats

Sometimes I cook more for myself, other times more for the Coach.  This buffalo chicken casserole was more for the Coach and his love of all things buffalo.  In the end he said the texture was kind of weird, but I was pretty in to it.  It went like this:

Buffalo chicken casserole
Ingredients:
1lb ground chicken
2 boxes of frozen squash puree
1 bag frozen cauliflower (or veggie of your choice)
3 eggs
2T low sodium tamari (soy, aminos, etc)
1/2c Frank's hot sauce

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brown your chicken with s&p.  Then, defrost your cauliflower (you could probably omit this, but I wanted to maximize the veggie content).   Next, defrost your frozen squash puree in the microwave--I stopped halfway through to stir it up, which helps it cook through evenly.  Once everything is cooked, throw the veggies, chicken, eggs, tamari, and hot sauce in to an oven-safe dish and cook for 30 minutes.  Done!


http://fastpaleo.com/buffalo-chicken-casserole/


This picture shows the casserole with blue cheese on top, which I omitted.  The eggs make the casserole nice and fluffy, which was probably the texture that threw off the Coach.  This was a fun twist on buffalo chicken, and I loved that the casserole dish was stuffed with veggies.  Yum!

*          *          *

In other news, I've decided to ditch the nut butters!  I'm so obsessed with the coconut butter I made a couple of weeks ago, and I've been eating it daily as part of my afternoon snack: a scoop of sunflower seed or almond butter, scoop of coconut butter, and a banana melted in to a delicious concoction topped with chia seeds.  Stupid good.  However, I've noticed recently that I'm finding it harder and harder to not go back for extra scoops of the nut butters; the solid-at-room-temp characteristic of coconut butter prevents that from happening.  Plus, after doing lots more reading on paleo/primal websites, I've realized that the health benefits of coconut far outweigh that of nuts/seeds.  The unsweetened shredded coconut is such a steal at my local natural food store, so this sway is way more budget-friendly.  So we'll see how it goes!  Looks like I'll be trying out some new flavors to keep things interesting.  Vanilla coconut butter, anyone?

And with that update, I'm out.  Hope everyone's having a good week so far!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Comfort Noodles



Hello all!  I hope you all had a fun weekend!  I had a little bit too much fun this weekend...definitely over-indulged food/drink-wise Friday night.  And by "Friday night", I mean all week.  Ugh, not feeling so hot about my downfall.  I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to bounce back from Whole30 with an all out binge fest.  Lesson learned.  I foresee another 30-day detox around the bend, but for now I'm sticking to my 1-cheat meal per week plan.  It's been 2 days, so far so good :)

Workout

After getting my diet straight this weekend, I was more than ready to jump back in to the gym today.  Given my state last week (having a cold / feeling like Violet Beauregard due to my overindulging), I stuck to mostly body weight stuff and cardio sessions.  Today I drove in with the Coach to work out at his gym and was bizarrely hyped up about it.  It's rare that I get to work out at the school while the Coach gets his sweat on too, and I meant to snap a pic of us lifting hard side by side but was shaking too badly from the shock to my system to coordinate that.  Oops.

Today's workout consisted of 12lb medicine ball tall kneel forward pass, standing side twist throw, and overhead slam followed by 15 yard sled pushes with 315lb.  Yeah, that feels just as heavy as it sounds.  For those of you who don't know what sled pushes are, this is what they look like (not me in the pic):
www.fitnessbychrisfinley.blogspot.com
Except the weight was so tough my body was basically parallel to the floor.  I had to remove one plate to even get the thing to move because my sneakers were slipping on the floor.  And I loved every second of it.

Next, I did 5 sets of 5 rack pulls maxing at 110lb and 5 sets of 3 anti-rotation presses for core.  I love anti-rotation presses--keeping your gluts tight and your abs engaged while focusing on not letting your trunk shift, you get a killer core workout easy peasy.  I did mine with a band tied to the weight rack, but you could easily do it at a cable column like this random Internet guy:

www.maloneyperformance.com











This was all followed up by 6 bike sprints, 60s on 60s off.  These metabolic finishers absolutely kill me.

So yeah, solid return to the gym.  And you know I loved pounding that protein shake after.  Oh creamy vanilla goodness, how I've missed you...

Eats

Now on to the good stuff!  I made these Comfort Noodles from The Clothes Make the Girl, a website with some killer paleo eats.  She's the mastermind behind the sunshine sauce and paleo pad Thai that I am beyond obsessed with.  I use that sunshine sauce in stirfries weekly now.  Holy yum.  Here's how this one came together:

Comfort noodles
Ingredients:
4 small zucchini, julienned (using the julienne peeler I talked about in this post, or you can use a spaghetti squash)
generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon almond flour or almond meal
cooking oil
2 clove garlic, crushed
4 eggs, scrambled
s&p

Place the julienned zucchini in a colander or wire strainer and toss with the salt until coated. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to drain excess water, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. (You may be tempted to skip this step; I strongly advise against it. This step insures tender, rather than watery, noodles.)
While the zucchini is sweating in the colander, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the almond flour with the cooking oil, sprinkle it with a smidgen of salt, then sauté in the pan, stirring often with a  spoon, until it’s toasty brown, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and save for garnish.
Return the pan to the heat and add the zucchini noodles. Sauté until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Push the noodles to the side of the pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Wait a minute; it’s essential that the pan cools down before adding the eggs. Add the oil and garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds, pour in the eggs and allow them to cook until just beginning to set a tiny bit. Mix the zucchini noodles into the egg and continue to stir gently and continuously until the egg is set and clinging to the noodles. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.
Serve noodles in a bowl and sprinkle with the almond flour crumbs.

http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/08/18/comfort-noodles/
So deliciously good!  Definitely a comforting meal with the feel of decadent carbonara.  I think this could be delicious with some browned sausage as well to up the protein content. 

Hope that everyone's week is off to  a good start and that you all have some yummy meals and hardcore workouts planned!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Long Time, No Speak



Hello there!  I realize I have been a very neglectful blog parent this past week, and I'm sorry.  The weekend was a whirlwind, but a wonderful one.  After work Friday I drove down to CT to my sister's house for my nephew Jonah's 3rd birthday party.  It was so nice to spend some time with the family, and now I'm even more excited to go home for Passover for an extended stay in a few weeks.  Saturday night I went out with my friend Kellie, our last time before she moves to CT for a new job.  Sniff sniff.  Sunday was spent running errands plus looking at townhouses/condos for our ongoing house search.  Fingers crossed that the search will be over soon...  So yeah, lots going on, plus limited workouts and lack of home-run meals since last week = rest time for my comp.

Another big thing that happened this weekend: I finished my Whole30!  The final result is a 6lb weight loss, significantly improved energy and gym performance, and no sugar cravings!  These were all the things I was hoping to get out of this process, so I'm really pumped.  The down side is that I went a little cray cray with eating this weekend...which has continued in to this week.  I celebrated finishing up the grain/sugar/legume/dairy-free month by having a delicious binge fest on all things sugary and gluteny, which I'm still recovering from.  It's a pretty good wake up call to realize why these things are so toxic for my body, in particular.  Once I had one bite of pizza (taste of cake, sip of beer, sensing a trend here?) I felt like I definitely lost control fast.  I've decided to reintegrate protein shakes and some ingredients that have sugar in them that I never found a suitable replacement for (the biggest one being sriracha, since I love cooking Asian food) in to my daily diet, but otherwise I'm going to continue limiting other sources of grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy to one "cheat" meal a week.  We will see how that goes, but I'm hoping that by putting in writing here, all you readers (hopefully more than just my parents, but that would be ok too!) will help me stay honest :)

Workout

So the Coach wrote my a new program Sunday, but after my exploits Saturday night I was so tired by Sunday evening that I crashed pretty early and didn't get time to go over it with him.  Plus, I woke up Monday still feeling rather large and not the least bit in charge, so opted for a simple walking treadmill routine.  This is one of my favorite standbys from Sweet Tooth Sweet LifeIt felt good to start sweating out some of the crap I ate this weekend.

0-5 min, 3.5 mph, 2.0 incline
5-10 min, 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
10-15 min, 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
15-20 min, 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline
20-25 min, 4.0 mph, 6.0 incline
25-30 min, 3.5 mph, 10.0 incline
30-35 min, 4.0 mph, 8.0 incline

I'm struggling with a bit of a cold these days, so I skipped a couple of days in favor of rest and today I opted for a quick body weight circuit courtesy of PB Fingers:
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 20 alternating lunges
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 10 squat jumps
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 20 squats
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 60 sec. high knees
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 10 single-leg dead lifts, each
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 10 burpees
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 60 jumping jacks
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 20 sec. mountain climbers
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 10 push-ups
  • 30 sec. jump rope
  • 60 sec. plank
I followed this up with a 15 min walk on the treadmill to offset the sweets I've been gorging on.  Yeah, fat kid right here.

Eats

Like I said, good/healthy eats have been somewhat limited this week, but I do have a tasty one to share with you.  This recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com took a bit to cook, but was a cinch to throw together.  Here's how it went down:

Stir-fried cabbage, sausage, and apple
Ingredients:
16oz sausage
1 apple, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head cabbage, sliced
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
s&p

Brown the sausage in a skillet on medium-high, then add onion and garlic and cook until the onion caramelizes, about 10 minutes.  Throw in the cabbage and the spices, cook and stir another 10 minutes. Throw in the apple, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes more. 
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fried-cabbage-with-bacon-onion-and-garlic/detail.aspx

The cabbage takes on a yummy sweet flavor which went nicely with the tartness of the apple.  Definitely a good veggie-filled standby!

That's my catch-up for now!  Hope that you all have some fun weekend plans, and that some of you indulge in some sinfully delicious food like I have :)