Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Nuts Rule

Thanksgiving break has been kick ass.

I started my turkey day with my standard (and killer) weekend breakfast (over-easy eggs, Whole Foods black forest dry rubbed bacon, wilted green of choice - this was spinach) and an iced coffee with grassfed heavy cream.

Sophie and I watched the Macy's parade during breakfast (she loved the Rockettes, and loved the AKC dog show afterwards even more) before it was time for me to get down to business with my Thanksgiving contribution: baked bar nuts.

This is OhSheGlow's recipe, which I've made before. It's become my go-to contribution when I'm not sure what to make and need to bring something to a dinner party. I needed enough nuts for two Thanksgiving dinners, so I started with about four pounds total of raw, unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts and Brazil nuts.

I spread the nuts out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and baked them for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. While they were baking, I started to assemble the sauce.

Butter, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, a little cayenne pepper, lots of fresh rosemary, and kosher salt. Melt all but a couple tablespoons of butter together with the other ingredients and whisk together. When the nuts are done toasting, let them cool for a couple of minutes while melting the rest of the butter.

Pour the nuts into a large bowl and toss with melted butter to coat before adding the rest of the sauce and tossing well with a wooden spoon.

Yeah, these babies are amazing.

After everything is coated well, spread the nuts back out on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets and put back into the oven for another 10 or 12 minutes. At the risk of stating the obvious, whatever you do, DO NOT try to taste them as soon as they come out. Hot sugar is REALLY hot. Don't ask how I know this.

These are delicious while they're still warm, but are just as good later on once they've cooled off. And they are addictive. They're definitely not paleo, but they ARE fabulous. And they provide so many opportunities for people to make "that's what she said" jokes. Which we all know is the real goal at Thanksgiving.

Between my gimp foot and my insane work schedule, I hadn't made it into the gym since Sunday's ill-fated intro to oly class. Yesterday, I strung together a little at-home WOD in my guest room - 5 rounds of 5 jumping pull ups, 10 pushups, 60 second handstand hold.

This took me for-freaking-ever, and not just because Cosmo was concerned and had to scope out the situation.

He doesn't really like seeing his parents upside-down, I guess.

This morning I headed to CFCC for a very welcome class. Today was "Heavy Fran" - 15-12-9 of thrusters (135/95) and strict pull ups (+45 for men, deadhang for women). I can bear weight on my foot without an issue but still can't flex it, so I subbed 85lb push presses for the thrusters. God, this was still hard. 15:52, with light+mini bands.

PhillyGuy and I are planning to put our tree up this weekend, and unfortunately I've got to get into work one of these two days...but for now, I'm going to continue to laze around with my pups by my side and keep plugging away at the Marriage Plot while PhillyGuy and I watch football. Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chuck Roast Chili

So, work has taken a turn for the dramatic lately. That means I've been billing an awful lot of hours and using up pretty much all of my mental energy at the office. I work, I crossfit, I sleep, and I repeat. It's not so much a BAD life, it's just exhausting, and it doesn't leave me much creativity for ye olde blogge.

This weekend was a really busy one for two reasons - one, I turned 30 (!!!), and two, I threw my mother a bridal shower (!!!). PhillyGirl'sMom gets married in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to get together with our close female family members to celebrate.

The inspiration for my menu was this recipe for short rib chili that I spotted weeks ago on Cooking in Stilettos. I found the recipe a couple of days before I got my cow share, and I was sure I'd have something great in my 50-ish pound of beef to form the basis for a nice upscale chili.

I ended up taking a large (grassfed, super-delicious) chuck roast and slicing it into pieces, which I coated with kosher salt and pepper.

I browned them in batches in coconut oil in my brand-new, gorgeous orange Le Creuset dutch oven.

I also browned up - and forgot to take a picture of - an osso bucco style soup bone. After the meat was browned, I put it aside to rest while I cooked one and a half chopped Vidalia onions and a few cloves of crushed garlic in the drippings with a little more coconut oil.

After that, the hard work was done - it was a matter of dumping in fabulous blend of spices, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and a beer, and adding the meat back in.

I brought it to a boil and then popped the entire thing in the oven, where it simmered for about two and a half or three hours at 325. Once it was ready, I pulled the meat out and shredded it with two forks before adding it back in and giving it a good stir.

THIS IS SO GOOD. The recipe is a combination of the Cooking in Stilettos adaptation of Giada di Laurentiis's recipe and The Clothes Make The Girl's chili recipe. Here's my final sketched out list - the measurements are definitely not exact, since I never measure anything when I make chili, but the proportions are on.

Amazing Paleo Chili:

- 3-4lb chuck roast, sliced into pieces
- Soup bone, osso bucco style, with shank meat
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Fat of choice (I used coconut oil)
- 1.5 Vidalia onions, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed, or 3~tablespoons of minced jarlic
- One 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- One 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- One 6 ounce can of tomato paste
- One can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- One 12-ounce beer
- Beef broth, as necessary to thin out to your taste

- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice, or 5-6 whole allspice berries
- Salt to taste

I love this combination of spices. The can of chipotle chiles gives this a nice kick, and the cinnamon and cocoa powder make it smooth and earthy. This makes a big pot of chili - for me, it served 12 as one of two entree options, with leftovers for a couple of days. In fact, I just finished the last of it tonight, garnished with full fat Fage Total, a handful or two of raw baby spinach, and crumbled bacon. after I made chili, and after I went out with a bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday...

(god, i can't take a good picture...but the fabulous Kristastes does!)...and after I danced at Woody's until almost 2am...

I went to intro to oly on Sunday morning and, within the first 20 minutes, dumped an empty bar from the top of a snatch. Directly onto my right foot. Which was fine, at first, and then started to hurt about half an hour before class was over. And then started to hurt more once I got home. And then more.

Until I ended up spending my Sunday evening in the Penn ER, with a gimp foot and the Marriage Plot.

And then - miraculously out in two hours! - back home and on the couch with some ice. Verdict: bone contusion. Thankfully not broken, but I'm on crutches for a few days.

Needless to say, between the shower and the ER, I had no desire to cook. So I ended the weekend with my favorite takeout salad (Old Towne/Sanna's, right across the street. Lamb kebab salad...SO GOOD).

And that's my life. Last week, between work and running errands to get ready for the shower, I only made it to CFCC twice. This week, between work, my busted foot and the holiday, it's looking like more of the same. I'm starting to get super stir-crazy, not to mention feeling the stress a little more than usual without my normal outlet. I'm crossing my fingers that the stars align better so I can get to class tomorrow.

Hope everyone's doing well - oh, and MAKE THIS CHILI.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


...didn't I learn about this a long time ago?

I've been eating Paleo since sometime this summer. I used to have some form of gluten-based kip meal once or twice a week, and I used to drink gallons of diet soda. Since October 1, I haven't had so much as a sip of diet pepsi and haven't put anything even remotely sweet in my coffee. I've learned how to cook kale and collard greens. I average three-quarters of a pound of bacon a week, plus beef (ground beef, chili, steaks), chicken (though I'm admittedly kind of sick of chicken), and pork (chops for lunch, ribs from Phoebe's for dinner here and there), and eggs (between PhillyGuy and I, two dozen a week).

Everything I eat is delicious. Everything.

And I've gotten so much stronger. This cycle, I PR'ed my front squat by 25 pounds (!), from 115 to 140, and my back squat by 10 pounds, from 165 to 175. My pullups have improved significantly. I can kip with a mini band (and, if I start rested, can kip one unassisted, though I can't get my chin over the bar a second time without resting) and I can rep out five or more with a light band alone.

Since October 1, I've now lost a total of just over ten pounds. I had already lost some fat before that, though I don't know how much (if any) from a weight perspective since I hadn't weighed myself in months and months, but based on how my clothes are fitting (or, more to the point, NOT fitting), I'd guess that I'm down a total of 15 or 20 pounds, and definitely two sizes.

I feel good. I sleep well. I drink a buttload of water and eat a lot of fat and very little sugar. Since the challenge ended, I've been sticking with meat and greens, but have added cream back into my coffee (and oh, I am so glad I did) and have added dark chocolate (Chocolove 77% is my favorite, but Dagoba Beaucoup Berries - 74% with dried cherries and cranberries and vanilla - is a close second) back to my weekends.

The crazy thing about all of this is that I don't even WANT to eat like crap anymore. Now that the challenge is over and I don't have a competitive deadline to meet, I could eat, say, chips and dip if I felt like it. But I just don't. I love the food that I eat, I love how it makes me feel, and I love how it's making me look and perform.

And I love that it gave me a reason to hit the Theory and J.Crew outlets today and buy a new suit, new blazer and new pants. That too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

ABF Mud Run Recap

Let me tell you a little story. When I was a little PhillyGirl, we lived in the middle of the woods in south Jersey. (Yes, PhillyGirl is really a JerseyGirl, but I've since transplanted.) In about 1992, my parents - at a loss for what to do with us during the summer, and probably out of a sense of mercy to my grandparents who watched us during the day - started sending my brother and I to day camp, also in the middle of the woods, at a fabulous place in Medford called Camp Ockanickon.

That became my favorite place in the world. I was a camper there through about 1995, and then became a CIT, a counselor and eventually the boating instructor (I can navigate a canoe like nobody's business). During the fall and winter, I volunteered at the camp's haunted hayrides and breakfast with santa. I stopped working there when I went to college, since it paid about $2 an hour, but that camp was everything to me - I made some of my closest friends there, developed some of my most important relationships there, and it gave me an amazing sense of identity as an awkward child.

(Seriously. I had a mole and a moustache, liked to read and wasn't particularly athletic. SOMETHING had to give.)

Anyway - this morning, I headed out to camp to participate in my first-ever mud run - the ABF 10k Mud Run. My cousin, one of my brothers, and a couple of their friends banded together with me to form team "I Thought They Said 'Rum'" (yes, I picked that up off of one of those shirts they sell at race expos. I'm not that creative).

Heading to packet pickup/sign in...still so dry and so clean and so warm. I didn't realize it then, but I was.

Camp's not super-conducive to lots of people arriving and leaving and parking, so we started our morning at Shawnee High school, where we met up, grabbed our race numbers and pinned them to our sweet day-glo green shirts. I downed ten grams of BCAA's while we waited for our bus to transport us to the start.

Quick aside: in the morning, I was really unsure of what to wear. Forecast was 40ish and sunny. If I was running in 40 degree weather, I would have worn a fairly light shirt. This black shirt that I ended up wearing is thicker and brushed/fleecy on the inside, which makes it a bit too warm for anything over 30 or 35 degrees. runs don't usually involve a flippin' cold lake, and I knew I'd be wet and soggy. I figured that I'd bring both and make my call there. THIS WAS THE RIGHT CALL.

Pre-race, I gave a little love to CFCC with a one-armed handstand outside Stockwell Lodge.

PhillyGuy came to be our race photographer and our superfan. Unfortunately, the course wasn't set up and/or managed in a way particularly conducive to spectators, and he only got pictures of us at the start...

..and the finish.

In between these amazing shots, here's what happened (besides my shirt stretching out an extra foot in length).

We ran a short distance - less than a quarter mile - to the first obstacle, which they warned us was going to be brutal and involve very cold water over our heads. The actual phrase they used was "you are going to feel like you're going to die, but just keep moving." We slid through a ribbed plastic pipe directly into a fairly narrow portion of the lake, about 20 feet across, and made our way across to the other side, where we turned around and crossed the lake again, balancing between two ropes. THEN we hopped right back in the lake AGAIN, and had to crawl up another length of pipe to reach the top.

THAT was a hell of a way to start. That water was shockingly, shockingly cold. I hit the water and immediately lost all sense of communication with my body. I was trying to swim, but my limbs just wouldn't listen, and my normally-decent freestyle was awkward and splashing.

After that, we went for a fairly long stretch of running (about .75-1 mile, I'd estimate) before our next obstacle, which was...BACK IN THE WATER. This was a short swim, maybe 100 yards? We powered through, even though (i) it is NOT EASY to swim with shoes on, and (ii) IT WAS SO COLD.

We warmed up a bit over the next few obstacles, including a 10' flat wall, a shorter steep ramp backed with a cargo net, and a 10' ramp backed with a cargo net. This is where teamwork really came in.

We had another stretch of running, long enough to warm us up a little, when it was back into the water - this time to wade our way through waist-deep stagnant swampy water. The water was black with dirt, the bottom was mushy with decaying plants, and the entire length was scattered with hidden underwater branches, trunks, roots and logs. YOU SHOULD SEE MY SHINS.

After the swamp came another 10' wall, the "snake pit" with lots of under-log military crawls through the mud and over-chest-high-log clambers. After that, we were treated with a military crawl through mud under barbed wire, more high up-and-overs, and then a nice long stretch of running (about a mile) to our next destination, where we carried tires up and down a giant (for NJ) hill a few times. After the hills, we went for another nice chunk of running, over some submerged logs, balance beam style, and then a few more minutes of running.

Our final deep-water obstacle was another 50 to 100-yard stretch of swimming, this time with logs that we had to pull ourselves over. I had gotten pretty used to the temperature by that point, but found myself beached on one or two of the logs in what I assume was a less-than-flattering butt-up position.

The last couple of miles flew by, with more high walls and climbing obstacles. Our final obstacle was one last stretch of waist-high water, followed by a short (in hindsight) run back to Stockwell Lodge.

We were dirty and soaking wet, but smiling.

I tried to bust out another one-armed handstand, but just couldn't support myself, so I settled for a normal handstand instead.

I got changed (dry sweatpants have NEVER felt so amazing) and then chased my post-race BCAA's with a Sam Adams winter lager.

The sunshine and dry clothes were great, but I was still super-chilled.

I was also STARVING - I decided to run the race in a semi-fasted state, which meant starting my day with some coffee with grassfed cream around 7:30am, and then nothing ('cept BCAAs) until afterwards. Our heat started at 11 and we finished in just over 2 hours and 15 minutes, so by the time I was dried off and changed, I was definitely ready for some food.

Unfortunately, the options at the post-race "party" weren't so great.

With nothing even remotely paleo around, we headed back to the bus and then straight home, where PhillyGuy and I ordered $75 worth of BBQ takeout from Phoebe's (full rack of pork ribs, 1.5lbs of pulled pork, 20 rotisserie chicken wings, a big ass container of spicy collard greens for me and a couple other sides for him). A few ribs, some pork, a bunch of greens and some 77% dark chocolate later, I was ready for a shower and some rest.

This was SO MUCH FUN, guys. SO MUCH FUN. I'm a lot more tired now than I realized I was going to be - the run felt challenging but never too hard. My thighs and shins are COVERED in scrapes and bruises. While the run had a few little hiccups - you could tell this was their first time organizing an event - everything went smoothly and it was a great first mud run. I'm pumped for Tough Mudder in April.

And also for laying in my bed for the next several hours. Go team.

Friday, November 4, 2011

so that challenge

yeah, so, I fell off the face of the earth for a little bit.

I really, really want to recap the fabulous experience that was the CFCC BCCC, but here's the cliff's notes version for now:

- Official stats still forthcoming, but I lost nine pounds during the challenge and inches everywhere - two inches off of my waist, an inch off of my hips, and leaned way out in my arms and legs.

- The challenge officially ended around noonish on October 30, after I was measured and weighed in. Immediately afterwards, I went to brunch with my husband, where I had an omelet (with CHEESE!) and some potatoes and we split a side of the most amazing fluffy pancakes ever. Later, I celebrated with a fantastic sampling of cookie sandwiches from Sweet Freedom Bakery (still pretty darn paleo-friendly, as baked goods go).

- Eating baked goods and syrup on Sunday completely reawakened my sugar cravings, which came back in SERIOUS force on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday I had chocolate. Tuesday I had half a Larabar. Wednesday I realized that if I didn't knock that shit off I was going to keep craving sugar, so I did, and now I'm mostly back to normal...buuuuut...totally going to have more Sweet Freedom goodness tonight at CFCC's Fall Ball (halloween WOD in costumes, followed by potluck).

- Since the challenge ended I've continued to eat mostly the same way as I did during the last ten days, in terms of keeping it to meat and greens only, with the exception of (i) adding small amounts of dairy, like a splash of cream in my coffee and a little full fat Greek yogurt on my chili, and (ii) aforementioned small-ish sugary snacks. According to my scale this morning, I'm now a full ten pounds down.

- I'm so much stronger. I'm front squatting 140 pounds easily (prior max 115), I back squatted 155 for a triple (prior max 165), I GOT MY FIRST PULLUP LAST NIGHT. Okay, so it was a chin up. And it was ugly and I had to kick my legs. BUT I GOT IT. And I'm going to do it again tonight.

In short, this was an incredible experience. I'm saving a buttload of money by not buying soda or lunches at work, and I've never felt better that I felt during the last 30 days, particularly the final week. I'm much leaner - wearing pants I haven't worn in years! - and I've got a great blueprint for leaning out even more.

I guess I'll never be done AW-ing, but that's ok.