Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Green Gazpacho

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I love gazpacho, especially in the summer. It’s super easy to make, and served cold, so it’s perfect for a hot day. It’s also a great way to get a bunch of veggies into your day! Traditionally gazpacho is made with pieces of bread included in the mixture, and I’ve seen gluten-free versions made with rice, however I don’t think you need it, and instead I added an avocado for some creamy richness. Most gazpachos are tomato based, and this one DOES have tomato included, but I used a yellow, and a green heirloom variety, so it stayed a nice green color. I also went heavy on the other veggies, so it really was vegetable based rather than tomato based.

  • 1 red onion – quartered
  • 2 large tomatoes – red, yellow, green heirloom, doesn’t matter, quartered 
  • 8 large radishes – halved
  • 2 bell peppers – seeded and quartered
  • 2 cucumbers – halved lengthwise and cut into thirds
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 bunch celery hearts
  • A generous amount of basil and mint (I used A Lot – but season to taste)
  • Some oregano, thyme, and cilantro (season to taste)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt, pepper

After lightly prepping the ingredients, the rest couldn’t be any simpler! Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend!

Please note, if you don’t have a high powered blender like a Ninja Kitchen Systemor a Vitamix, you might have too chop things smaller. Chances are you will have to blend a little anyway to make room as you go.

Blend until everything is liquefied and well combined. Chill and serve.

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Eating Out Paleo: NYC: Hu Kitchen

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Going out to eat can not only be a challenge, it can be downright overwhelming. What was this cooked in? Is this gluten-free? Does the marinade have soy? Can you serve this without sauce? It can be done, but sometimes it’s a little awkward, especially if you’re out with friends. Locally, if we need to eat out, I have my relatively safe choices, and I can usually at least get a nice salad with some grilled chicken, but when you’re far from home it can be a little daunting.

This weekend, I went to the city (NY) to see a show at Carnegie Hall. I went with Mike, and one of our friends, who I’ve been trying to help eat better. We went into the city a little early, so we could grab dinner, and I went to the interwebs to try to find a place that would be fun and exciting, but super paleo friendly for Mike and I. We wanted good food, but we also wanted something that we couldn’t get at home.

Our usual safe choice is BareBurger. They have a great selection of wild and grass-fed meats, sustainable ingredients, organic veggies, and gluten-free substitutions. I love getting their Baby Farmers Salad with an Elk Burger and an Egg. I highly recommend it, and we considered going there, but I kind of wanted to find something new, and took to a combination of Yelp and Google.

That’s when I found out about Hu Kitchen. Their motto is “Get Back To Human” and they talk about eating the way our ancestors ate before the industry ruined food. They talk about unprocessed foods, minimizing grains, natural sugars (used sparingly) good fats, good meats, ingredient quality, and food integrity. They got me interested. I looked over their website, and definitely noticed the paleo influence, and though they DO serve some grains (such as quinoa ) they are by default gluten-free, soy free, dairy free, and GMO free unless noted. They even offer lattes with coconut milk if you want! I was PSYCHED – we needed to go here!

So downtown we drove to the corner of 5th Ave and 14th St and entered under a sign that said “Food For Humans” and pointed to a door below. The inside was warm with rustic wood accents. There was a bar with organic wines and beers (the ONLY gluten here) as well as a pretty good selection of Gluten Free beer and organic hard cider. They even had KOMBUCHA on tap. Let me tell you….previously I’ve only had the stuff that you buy in Whole Foods, which is yummy, but holy moley, THIS was amazing and totally in a different league. I think it was a jasmine green flavor, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness and punch.

Once I walked past the bar, there was a prepared counter (like in a deli) with TONS of offerings. I tasted the stuffed squash that my friend got, and it was really spot on good. In the back they had a menu hot dinners, and sides, and since I glanced at the menu on the way in, I knew this was exactly where I was going.

I ordered the Wild Meatloaf (wild boar, wild elk, berkshire pork, org egg, onion, garlic, parsley) with sides of Caramelized Pineapple with Cashew Cream, and the Rustic Root Vegetable Mash. I watched them make my plate, and the portions were a lot bigger, much to my delight, than I expected. They even gave me a sample piece of Hu Bread, which is not actually bread, and completely grain free.

I ordered a latte with coconut milk at the bar, and sat down with my food, super excited to dig in!

The meal can be summed up super easy – THIS IS MY FAVORITE PLACE EVER.

Everything was exploding with flavor. The meatloaf, was rich and earthy , the root vegetable mash, was a comforting blend of sweet potato, carrots, and other things that I forget…but it was delightful and a perfect complement. To sweeten the plate up, and round off the meal, there were the roasted pineapples with cashew cream. I don’t know exactly what makes cashew cream, but it was amazing and I wanted to dip everything into it. It was sweet, but not too sweet (and I’m pretty sensitive to sweet things), and complemented the pineapple perfectly. I tasted Mike’s soup, a dairy free Butternut Squash Bisque, and it was so flavorful, I kept stealing spoons from him. The icing on my cake (figuratively of course) was my latte. It was so nice to be able to get something other than Black Coffee. being coconut milk based It’s not as light and creamy as a Starbucks latte, but the flavor is beautiful.

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By the end of my meal, I was stuffed, and beaming with excitement that this place existed in the world. If you are in NY you need to go here. This place needs to exist, and I hope to see them expand closer to me one day. This is exactly the type of place I would open, if I ever had the time, money, and drive to expand out of my kitchen. This place is truly important and doing things completely right.


The CrossFit Games Open 14.4 – My Own Worst Enemy

One of the things that surprised me the most throughout this journey – The CrossFit Games Open – Is the mental places it takes you. I walked in, knowing I wasn’t regionals material, knowing I wasn’t the best in my gym, knowing I probably would be closer to last. I walked in as confident as I could be, knowing it was just for fun. Still, it has definitely taken me places, mentally, that I just didn’t expect. Nothing made this more evident than 14.4 – The Chipper.

20140326-215824.jpgAnd boy-oh-boy was this a chipper. 14.4 was as follows

14 minute AMRAP:
60-calorie row
50 toes-to-bars
40 wall-ball shots, 20 / 14 lb.
30 cleans, 135 / 95 lb.
20 muscle-ups

This was the first time ever that rowing has shown up in the open. I’m not a huge fan of rowing, just because I have short legs and a short stride…so it’s very hard for me to be efficient, but it’s definitely not the worst way to start a workout. That being said, rowing can take a lot out of you, and going straight into that many toes-to-bar afterwards is pretty brutal. I have no problem with toes to bar, I was kind of hoping for them, and actually all the of the movements for this workout (with the exception of the muscle-ups) were well within my abilities, but…the volume. Watching the athletes do the workout during the announcement, and watching one of the coaches do it that night, it quickly became apparent that this combination of movements was way worse than it looked. I made a goal for myself of getting through the toes to bar. I struggle with grip endurance, so I knew I would have to pace this one.

I came into the box on Friday, and I taped my hands up to help with the grip. I wanted to give myself any advantage I could. I asked how people had been doing with it, and the coach mentioned that none of the girls had gotten past the toes to bar up until that point (it was still early in the game though). That made me want to reach my goal even more, but it also made me nervous.

3 – 2 -1 – GO!

I paced myself pretty well through the rowing. I think I averaged pretty solid for myself, and my stroke rate was pretty consistent. Still, it took me almost 4 minutes to pull the 60 calories. Then it was time for Toes-To-Bar. I started off pretty good, doing sets of 3 or 4. It quickly became apparent that the tape was nothing but a problem, so any time I jumped down to take a breath, I ripped some of the tape off. Then, around rep 20 or so, it happened. I hit a mental brick wall, big time. All of a sudden I was essentially paralyzed. I was hanging from the bar, psyching myself out, and this huge feeling of dread and doubt washed over me. I kept feeling like I couldn’t do it, even though I had just chipped my way through almost half of them. With every kip, I couldn’t bring myself to close my hips or swing my legs up. I jumped down and paced. This ate up a good minute of my time. I paced and breathed. I could do this, I can’t give up, Keep going, I kept telling myself. The coaches encouraged me to take my time, and keep going. Finally I broke through and did another rep. I was doing singles at this point. Jump up, rep, jump down, repeat. I didn’t even notice any pain in my grip, just that each rep was taking more and more out of me. Towards the end, I got three or four “no reps” in a row. My body was just giving out, and I couldn’t summon the extra strength or momentum to get my toes all the way to the bar. I pushed and pushed, but I was just done.

Then the time was up. I got through 45 of the 50 reps for Toes-To-Bar. 5 reps short of my goal. I was satisfied, since I had the highest score out of the girls up until that point, (and most people would go one to beat me, but that’s OK), so I felt I didn’t do terribly, but it still would have been nice to get to the wall balls. I think the most disappointing aspect, was that mental wall I hit. On one hand, it was profound and powerful to reach a point like that, and be able to break through it and free. On the other hand, I kept wondering if I hadn’t hit that wall, if I would have been able to reach my goal. I looked down at my hands, which were ripped up badly, and accepted that there was no way I was going to be able to re-do this. Some people can’t even do toes-to-bar, and I should be extremely proud of what I CAN do and have done up until this point.  20140326-215804.jpgNow I wait for tomorrow’s announcement of the final open workout. I honestly have no  clue what they could possibly throw at us. They have really challenged everyone this year, and I have no doubt that whatever they prescribe, I will gladly accept it with enthusiasm and the best of my abilities.


The Crossfit Games Open – My journey so far

Over the past year and a half that I’ve been doing CrossFit, I’ve hit a lot of PR’s and gained not only strength, but invaluable confidence in myself and my abilities. I also walk into the box for every WOD, knowing my weaknesses, but instead of feeling like they are holding me back, they just let me know where I need to work harder. That desire to assess my current ability, and push myself to face movements that still intimidate me, was a big reason I decided to participate with my box in this years CrossFit Games Open. While I know I am not the strongest, or fastest – not by a long shot – and while I’m not a hugely competitive person, at least not against others (against myself is another story) I decided I was curious enough to take on the challenge, just to see where I ended up in the world, and amongst my comrades.

Last year, I didn’t officially participate, but I did a few of the WODs. I don’t think I RXed all of them, but I came into this year, pretty confident that I could handle the weights they threw at me. The idea of being judged both made me nervous and excited. When I work out, I tend to zone out into my own little bubble, so the idea of someone paying so much attention to me kinda freaked me out. There is a fine line we dance on, between being confident in ourselves, and allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable and being judged. At the same time, I feel it helps to keep me motivated to push harder. At the end of the day, I think often an athlete is only as good as their coach, and there have been many times that my coaches helped me get over a hump of doubt and achieve more.

The workouts are announced every Thursday, so I try to perform them on Friday. It makes sense to me, since they get programmed as the WOD for the day and I like to get it over with. For each WOD so far, I’ve gone down to my box to watch the announcement with my comrades, and I’m actually surprised at the amount of anxiety and excitement the events have given me. I feel such a sense of community and family with my box, now more than ever, because I am a part of this great, worldwide event, and we are all in it together. My scores might not help much, but they add something to our team, and for that I am proud.

Leading up to the first workout, I had no idea what to expect. There are definitely movements that I was terrified to see, just because I’m not good at them, or can’t do them. Double unders, chest to bar pull ups, and muscle ups easily fit into this category. The night that 14.1 was announced, I was incredibly nervous and anxious, but I ran down to the box to find out what I was in for. As I stood there, eyes glued to the screen along with a small handful of fellow competitors, of course one of my feared opponents was included in the WOD. It was a 10 minute AMRAP (As many rounds/reps as possible) of 30 double unders and 15 power snatches (at 55# for women).

I can physically do double unders, which I guess is better than when I started out, but I am extremely inefficient. I’m not a cardio person; I can handle myself with weights, but running, rowing, and double unders will never be my forte. The biggest thing that slows me down, is not being able to string them together. I can do a single – single – double pattern, or single – double – single – double pattern on occasion, but even then, I mess up a lot. Double unders are like bracing for the cat – o – nine – tails. jump – jump – jump – OUCH! Anyway, I knew the double unders would be a formidable foe, but I also knew I could do a few of them. I was just hoping that it wouldn’t take me the entire 10 minutes to get through 30 of them!

The next day, as I drove to the box, I felt my heart beating a mile a minute, I was so nervous. I was trying to calm myself down, and warm up sufficiently. I did some PVC mobility, and a few practice snatches, and felt ok with them. I warmed up nice and thoroughly with the jump rope, doing singles, doubles, backwards singles, one leg jumps. Then I rested. It was time. I thought to myself, “Am I ready?” – I was as ready as I ever would be.

3 – 2 – 1 – Go!

The double unders were tough. Sometimes I would get into a good rhythm and bang out 7 or 8 of them before messing up. Sometimes I was a mess. I don’t even want to know how many “No Reps” I got. The snatches were probably 70%  give or take of my max, so they were on the heavy side, but I felt good doing them, and I feel like they were some of my best power snatches ever. I’m pretty sure I maintained pretty good form, which is a big thing. One of my pet peeves with these competitions, is seeing form go to hell. I don’t care if It gets me a few more reps, I’m going to try my hardest to keep it together. I put my everything into the workout, and the coach that was scoring me knew how hard I was trying. I think he felt bad that he had to no rep me so much. I didn’t care, I did my  best. My lungs were burning by the end of it. I crumpled to the floor, my chest heaving, my lungs gasping for breath. It was honestly the closest I’ve come to being nauseous at the end of a workout. I ended up with a score of 90 , and went home feeling good about it.

When I got home, I started replaying the WOD in my head, and over-thinking. “If only I was better at double unders” or “It would have been nice to break 100” and I contemplated. I decided I wanted to try the workout again, to see if I could get to 100 reps. I went back into the box the next day, hell-bent on trying harder. Maybe it was because it was only the next day, without real rest in between but I just didn’t do as well the second time. I had a lot of frustrating trouble with the double unders, and I fell short of my original score by 10 reps. I left feeling a little bit defeated, but it quickly turned to being proud of my initial performance, now knowing that I truly did my best.

The next week was 14.2, and once again, a dreaded foe. This time it included chest to bar pull-ups, which I was pretty sure I couldn’t even do. Basically you had 3 minutes to do 2 rounds of  10 overhead squats (65 # for women) and 10 chest to bar pull-ups. If you got through the round, you would continue with another three minutes, and a 12 – 12 rep scheme. This would continue on, adding 2 reps each 3 minute round, until you fail to complete the 2 rounds. I went into the workout, confident I would get a score of 10 – but not expecting much more, so I wasn’t nearly as anxious. I practiced with the weight, and it was heavy, but very much doable, and I used a light bar and a pvc, to work on my squat mobility, warming up with some overhead squats facing a wall. Coach remarked on my really good mobility doing this, and so I was extra happy. Then I did some pull up practice.  Using a regular grip, I just don’t have the strength yet to bring my chest to the bar. Luckily though, you could use the grip of your choice, as long as you extend all the way, and you touch the bar below the collar-bone. I tried a few different grip variations, and much to my surprise, I was able to get a chest to bar pull-ups, using either an alternating grip, or reverse grip. For the workout, I used reverse.

3- 2- 1- GO!

I power snatched the bar up and started my overhead squats. I wasn’t really sure how heavy it was going to be, since we haven’t worked on our one rep max in a while. Towards the end of last year, my max was 65# so, I figured it would probably feel pretty heavy. It was tough, but I actually managed to do all 10 reps unbroken. I feel like my form was good, and I think all the squat mobility I’ve been working on is paying off. This was the easy part of the workout. Then came the dreaded Chest to Bar pull-ups. My goal was one – I actually got nine! They were hard, even with the reverse grip, but a few times I even managed to string a couple together. The hardest part was actually getting below my collarbone to touch the bar. There were a few times where I pulled high enough to get my neck over the bar, but just could not summon the extra push to get up the last few inches.  Those are the worst No-Reps because you are so close, so darn close, but your body just gives out inches from the top. I would have loved to get to another round of overhead squats, but honestly, I walked out of 14.2 super psyched, because I was able to get way more reps than I expected walking in. I faced my fear, I faced my weakness, and I overcame it. I still have A LOT of work to do on my pull-ups….but knowing you CAN do it, and just need to GET BETTER at it, is totally empowering and is a great boost.

Friday, I walked into 14.3 – a Box Jump and Deadlift ladder.

When I saw the announcement Thursday, I was thrilled! Finally, a workout I can be fairly confident about, I thought. The weights get heavy quick, and I figured, If I get to the 155# round it will be almost at my max (the heaviest I’ve lifted is 165#), but these are movements I can feel good about. For the box jumps, you are allowed to do step ups, and that was a no brainer for me. I am not fast, and with the muscle fatigue from the deadlifts, the added stress of jumping would put too much risk on my back. I tend to land deeper into a squat than some, so It just taxes the muscles and raises your heart rate causing you to waste time having to catch your breath and recoup. I will not sacrifice form for time, and although it’s a competition I need to play smart, especially when it comes to deadlifts. I’m no Sam Briggs or Rich Froning, I’m not going to the games, there is NO REASON to hurt myself for reps. That being said, I knew I would be pushing hard.

Feeling as confident as I did, I was surprised that I was so anxious going in. Maybe it was excitement, but I definitely had workout butterflies. Me and another girl from the gym warmed up, and as we added weight, I got to feel the different weights I would be using. I had no problem with the 95#, it was fairly light. The 135# was heavy, but I thought it was very doable. The 155# was very heavy, but I knew I could do it in singles for at least a couple of reps. Finally it was time for the WOD. I set up the weight so that I only had to add weight, instead of wasting time stripping off plates.

3 – 2 – 1 – GO!

It started out pretty easy, as I thought it would. The deadlifts were at a comfortable weight, and I had a good rhythm with the step ups. I paced myself, and I did the deadlifts unbroken. Then I added the weight to 135# and went for it. I changed up my grip to alternating after the first few reps. I usually never do that, but I think it actually made me feel more stable. I think I stopped to breathe after every five reps, breaking it up slightly, but only for a moment. I was happy about how I was pacing it so far. The step ups were also really useful for catching my breath, and I kept a good pace, alternating legs every one or two reps. At this point I still had 3 or 4 minutes left on the clock. Then I increased the weight to 155#  and it was definitely HEAVY. It wasn’t however, as bad as I imagined it to be. I went through the reps in singles, dropping it, instead of placing it down. I kept a steady pace of lift – drop – breath – lift – drop – breath. Amazingly I didn’t feel any pain or strain in my back, and I think I was able to maintain pretty good form the whole way though. Somehow, I managed to get through all 20 reps, even though that weight is probably 90-95% of my one rep max. I even had time to bang out all 15 step ups. At the end of the box jump/step ups – The clock read 7 min 45 sec – So I knew that even if I wanted to attempt the 185#, I wouldn’t have time to change the weights. I was done with a score of 90 reps! Considering I watched one of the coaches, who I think is in pretty great shape, do 103 reps the night before, I was pretty psyched at my performance. I definitely did the best I possibly could, and honestly, I don’t think I would have even been able to get 185# off the floor even If I had the time.

And so now, the wait for 14.4 begins, and I don’t even know what to expect at this point. The challenges so far have tested my strength, my confidence, and my abilities to adapt. It has shown me barriers, that I have broken, and weaknesses that I have faced and shook hands with at the end. It has given me knowledge of things to work on, and surprised me with how far I have come. I may not be the best, but I am an athlete. I am more of an athlete today, than I have ever been in my 29 years on earth. I am so glad to be a part of not only MY community and MY box, but the rest of the world putting their heart and souls into these workouts week after week. All I can say at this point? Whatever you have for us in the next two weeks – Bring It!


10 Reasons to Bitch About the Whole Life Challenge…and Why You Should Stop.

I’m not a big re-blogger, but I thought this was a great post from Eat, Drink, WOD on the Whole Life Challenge and I think it needs to be out there. Lot’s of wise words here….

Also, I think a few other things need to be added –

  1.  I’ve been finding all these awesome recipes for Paleo –Insert Junky SAD (Standard American Diet) Food Herebut I still feel like crap and I’m not getting results.

Listen, I used to LOVE pizza, cheese, cookies, candy bars – stuffed french toast….you name it. You know what, I don’t care, I don’t miss an ounce of it. I learned this after my first challenge. You know why? Because those things made me feel like CRAP! I learned what feeling good meant, and you know….I wanted to feel good ALL THE TIME! I am a huge foodie, I love awesome food….but there is plenty of awesome, real, healthy food that doesn’t destroy me from the inside out. Paleo junk food, is still junk food. Cut it out. Learn to like real things. Baking cupcakes with 20 lbs of almond/coconut/whatever flour is ridiculous. Do you know how many nuts you would have to eat to get that amount into your system naturally….You’d probably vomit or pass out first.  My challenge to you is be strict, don’t cheat your way through this – find out what feeling good means and THEN tell me shoving 3 slices of pizza…..OR…a bunch of paleo donuts down your throat is essential to your happiness. Neither one of them are doing you any favors. Bonus points are there yes, but you don’t HAVE to use them. Staying strict through the challenge is a healing experience for your body. Using your weekly cheat points and going nuts is only going to hinder your progress. Be in it to win it!

  1. Can I eat this WHOLE CAKE and only count it as 1 point.

No….Do you hear yourself…..does that make any sense. Would you normally eat a whole cake, just because you aren’t supposed to have it? Would you drink a whole bottle of vodka because the label on your medication says you can’t drink? Why does everyone have to try to “Beat the system” – Start caring. I don’t look at portions, count calories, or worry about how much I’m eating, but that’s because I eat real food. Is it possible to overdo it? Sure – I probably shouldn’t eat 20 avocados a day. Do I? Nope – That’s just silly. Indulgence still exists no matter how you eat, but if you are putting the right food in your stomach, you probably would have a difficult time overeating it.

Eat. Drink. WOD.

WLC logoEvery couple months, this thing comes around called the Whole Life Challenge. In short, it’s an 8-week lifestyle challenge that encourages you to eat well and exercise daily along with some other weekly goals like drinking enough water, or trying new veggies. It gets pretty popular among the CrossFit-heads as it promotes a Paleo-based nutrition plan: No grains, no sugar or sweeteners, nothing processed, no diary, no booze. As you can imagine, the lack of beer is my biggest blunder here, but we’ll get in to that later. I really don’t want to spend this time getting into the details of the challenge, as you can simply click the link above and get all the info you need, but for the sake of this post of mine here are the cliffnotes:

It’s a challenge with a point system…because as CrossFitters and ya know, humans, we are competitive. We do better in…

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Paleo Feasting and Playtime (AKA Mental Health Fun) for My Birthday

Alright! How’s everyone’s new year going? I haven’t posted in quite a few days. Mostly because I wanted to give everyone a chance to see the Giveaway Post and enter. So far  it seems NO ONE HAS ENTERED! I’m running the giveaway until the end of January, so you should really take advantage of it. A QUART of good quality coconut oil is a silly thing to pass up! Plus we all like free things….don’t we?

Anyway, I’ll have some recipe posts coming up soon from the past week. Today though, I wanted to share my experiences with some Paleo Celebrating! Well….almost.

It was my birthday last week. I knew I would be treating myself a little, but I wanted to keep to my values, and stay as relatively healthy and paleo as possible. Just because it’s a special occasion, doesn’t mean you have to totally derail yourself from being a healthy human. My birthday was no exception. I wanted to have fun, eat well, and right down to the figurative birthday cake, not have to feel guilty or regretful the next day, of any of my choices. Birthday’s are about FUN and celebrating YOU – so treat yourself accordingly!

This birthday, I was turning 29, the last year of my twenties. While I wanted to celebrate my youth, I also wanted to celebrate the future, and my current state of health. I’m a big kid at heart, and so the first activity on  the agenda, was to spend some time bouncing and playing at a local TRAMPOLINE PARK! Yep, I am an adult, and my idea of an hour well spent is playing on trampolines….and hey, they had a FOAM PIT! These trampoline parks are popping up lately, so it must be a new trend, but that’s A-OK with me, because it’s a great activity for all ages. Not only is it fun, which translates to joy and happiness, and a good mental state (Seriously, try being stressed out on trampolines, it really doesn’t work), but it’s exercise, and good for your body as well.

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Yes….it’s that fun. It was seriously the most stress free hour I think I’ve had in my entire life. I’m not even a very confident jumper, didn’t do any crazy tricks, I just jumped around, bounced everywhere I could, and cannon-balled myself into the foam pit. Super fun….everyone should try it (Safely of course).

For my birthday meal, I had only one thing on my mind – Portuguese/Brazilian Barbeque! There was a nearby restaurant, a Churrascaria, which does one of my favorite things….RODIZIO! It’s basically all you can eat meat, which translates as “easy to stay paleo” to me. If you are traveling and looking to stay paleo, find one of these places, it’s probably a safe bet. They gave us a bunch of sides ( I skipped the bread and rice, and stuck to collard greens, salad, salsa, and a few *gasp* potato things) and saved most of the room in my stomach for the meat. Oh the glorious meat. Everything was perfectly cooked, and lightly seasoned, cooked over coals, or fire, or something. No crazy sauces to ponder, just well cooked meaty goodness! There was chicken, cube steak, tenderloin, short ribs, sausage, pork, and turkey wrapped in bacon. By the end of it, I was pretty darn stuffed. If you wanted seconds of anything, they would bring it to you, but by the end I didn’t have much room. I DID however get a second helping of the turkey wrapped in bacon….because….it was awesome, and a real treat.

Speaking of treats! Let’s talk dessert! I actually had this the night before my birthday, and it was a good thing, since I definitely would have had no room for it after dinner. I kept it simple and small, as well as Gluten and Dairy free. It was just indulgent enough, without being crazy.  I give you the MEGA AWESOME MELISSA’S BIRTHDAY SUNDAY!

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This wonderful bowl of birthday celebration included a moderate scoop of Larry and Luna’s Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss Ice Cream (one of my favorite brands of coconut milk ice cream), A big spoon of Almond Butter, a few squares of dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds (Soy and dairy free, Theo’s Brand ) , toasted coconut flakes, and some mixed berries that I warmed up in a little bit of coconut milk. Absolutely, positively, divine. More sugar than I normally consume yes, but other than that, relatively harmless for a once a year birthday treat.

And that my friends, is how you indulge in a little birthday fun, but keep one foot on the road to good health. Have a little fun, but stay healthy and happy. How do you like to celebrate?

Sorry again for the lack of recipe posts – I’ll have a few of them up in the next day or two – I promise!


Happy New Year! Hello 2014! Product Review and Giveaway!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Update 2/1/14 : contest is closed! I will be going through the comments this weekend and will update with a winner shortly!

Update #2: Congrats to Karen who entered the contest and was the lucky winner of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil, Enjoy it!

Not only is this my first post of 2014, but, it is also post 100! Can you believe it! It’s been a great ride so far, and even if I help a small handful of people make a few healthy, tasty meals, I’ve done my job. I’m really looking forward to 2014. I’m not one for resolutions, and I’m not fond of the “New years gym rush” but I think it’s safe to say that my wish for 2014 is just to grow. I am looking forward with positivity. I will grow stronger, both physically and mentally, build on my foundations as a human being, and become better at living a healthy lifestyle. I hope to become consistent at mobilizing, at being mindful, and at giving myself more time to do things I love like playing guitar or reading. I hope to end 2014 smarter, stronger, and healthier than when I entered it. Anyway, to celebrate such an important post, I decided instead of a recipe, I would host a product giveaway!

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. I am also participating in a referral program through Tropical Traditions. If you order by clicking on any of my links or images and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you. That being said, I think their product is pretty darn awesome and stand behind it with an unbiased opinion, regardless of those facts.

That’s right!  Tropical Traditions has been kind enough to send me a quart of their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil to review ($40 Value!), and has given me the opportunity to sponsor a giveaway so you can get a jar just like the one I got. I use A LOT of coconut oil, so I was psyched to try it out. I have been using it for the past month or two, so I’ve had ample time to build my opinion, and I have been nothing but happy. Seriously, they make a great product.

For those who are new this lifestyle, and haven’t used it yet, you can get familiarize yourself and learn, What Is Coconut Oil ? and How To Use It?

Coconut oil is a great oil to cook with, as it is very stable to use at high temperatures. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil: http://coconutoil.com

Prior to getting this coconut oil, I had been using Trader Joe’s (and was running low), so to really form a proper opinion, I put them against each other and A/B ‘d them properly. I tested them on 3 main criteria: “The Spoon Test” (Straight out of the Jar), “The Egg Test” (Using them to make eggs), and “The Coffee Test” (Blending them in a cup of coffee and drinking). Overall, I definitely preferred the Tropical Traditions.

First Impressions:

Opening the jar, it wasn’t super strong-smelling. Sometimes coconut products strongly smell of coconut. I found the Tropical Traditions coconut oil to be light and pleasant.

The Spoon Test:

I found Tropical Traditions to be much more palatable. There was a certain “greasiness” that came with Trader Joe’s, and it left my mouth feeling funny and made me uncomfortable. It had an aftertaste. Tropical Traditions had a very pleasant coconut taste, and melted nicely in the mouth. I’m still not totally a fan of eating it straight, but Tropical Traditions is definitely the winner.

The Egg Test:

I covered half the griddle with Tropical Traditions, and half with Trader Joe’s. I thought the Tropical Traditions side cooked better and browned nicer. I thought it gave the eggs a pleasant and slight coconut taste. The Trader Joe’s side did not have as much of a coconut taste, but it also spread itself thinner. Mike was more fond of this because he is not a huge fan of the coconut taste that sometimes comes with cooking in coconut oil. I don’t mind it, so I preferred the Tropical Traditions by far. Something like this is really going to be a matter of taste.

The Coffee Test:

By far Tropical Traditions stood out here. It blended better, was nice and foamy, and tasted better. It was less oily, melted better, and even us the coffee started to cool, it stayed light and remained delicious even as it started to separate. By contrast, the Trader Joe’s coconut oil lost it’s foamy texture quickly, was oily, and felt and tasted heavier as it cooled. It actually started to make me gag a little. It got really, awkward on the tongue. Yuck, I had to stop drinking it. Tropical Traditions Hands Down took this round.

The Winner:

Tropical Traditions!
Overall it was just better, and is seriously a great, high quality product. A quart is a large jar of coconut oil, and yet I could never have enough.And now for the giveaway! That’s right, one of YOU will get a jar just like the one I got. Super Cool! Believe me, it is such an amazing deal! The giveaway is running the whole month of January, and the winner will be picked at random and notified by email.

All you HAVE to do is Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Email Newsletter and Like TasteThat! on Facebook. Then comment on this blog post letting me know you did those two things.

As a bonus, and to increase your chances of winning, you can do any of the following things. Let me know in the comments what you did.

Good Luck everyone and Happy January!


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