Weekly Cookup: Old Favorites… A Tried & True Fitness Program & A Trusty TJ Shopping List

Phew! It’s been a few weeks without a legit meal plan in place over here. We’ve had a ton going on (refer to my latest instagram post… more on that later), so we’ve been flying by the seat of our pantalones as far as meal prep goes around these parts.

This week, I’ve got something else up my sleeve. Aside from a few occasional flare-ups, my neck issues are mostly in check (aided by dietary turmeric and topical magnesium supplementation, nutrient-dense whole foods, and an otherwise anti-inflammatory diet, and complemented by consistent Pilates rehab therapy), so I’m feeling strong and ready for a challenge. We’ve got a month left on our gym membership before we make the big move back to the land of CLE, and I’m feeling inspired to make the most of it by once again revisiting my favorite workout of all time, Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer. I cannot say enough great things about this workout program, as I’ve followed it before and saw just how capable and strong my body could be. It was a fantastic feeling. That being said, ANYONE can do this program. Any age, any gender, any shape or size. It’s easily modified to your fitness level, aka, completely easy to start where you are.

With this fitness program plan in place, and with all that we’ve got going on in the next month, I want to have some easy, grab+go meals in the fridge. Lucky for me, a while back I purchased these meal prep containers on Amazon, so I’m all set to make this as simple as possible.

This week’s shopping trip is going to stray from my beloved Whole Foods (gasp! I know!), and over to my OTHER BFF Trader Joe! Why, you ask? Simple! I was going through some old blog posts and found a complete 21-Day Sugar Detox compliant shopping list for Trader Joes, so I thought… why make more work for myself? This weekend is going to involve a (cheaper than Whole Foods) shopping trip to TJ, and a mass meal-prep party to stock my fridge with healthy meals that I can grab and go all week. Who’s with me??!

Curious about that blog post? Read it here, all my favorites from Trader Joes… then stock up and get preppin’!

Have a GREAT WEEKEND!

xx

e

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Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail – The 21-Day Sugar Detox Shopping List

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With the 21-Day Sugar Detox in full swing (yep, the official detox started yesterday), and with my standard routine grocery list coming up in conversation more than once this past week (yes, really), I thought I’d share what I keep on hand at all times for easy Primal eats ‘round the clock.

Trader Joe’s. How do I love thee? I used to trek to Westlake when I lived in Lakewood, OH just to stock up on trail mixes and chile spiced dried mangoes. My list looks a little different these days (yikes, those mangoes have a load of added sugar and don’t even bother looking at the ingredients on the cilantro dressing, just don’t get it), but TJ’s does have a lot of great options if you know what to look for (and what to steer clear of). I’m in love with the fact that there’s a brand new TJ in Palm Beach Gardens so that I can stock up on staples and just visit Whole Paycheck Foods for the rest of the stuff I can’t get at TJ (like Japanese sweet potatoes, Rao’s Marinara, G.T.’s Kombucha, and a variety of other cuts of high-quality meat, to name a few). Here’s what usually ends up in my cart at TJ (oh, and, because I like to be OCD super prepared, I organize my list by how the store is mapped out – it’s a simple trick that keeps me from back-tracking or circling the store a hundred times, and I don’t end up leaving without checking off my whole list!):

Produce (usually organic unless they don’t have it):

  • Kale (in a bag)
  • Chard (in a bag)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts
  • Romaine Hearts
  • Cruciferous Crunch (it’s a shredded blend of cabbage, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts)
  • Rainbow Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Celery Hearts
  • Beets (ready to eat)
  • Portobello Mushrooms or Mini Portobello Mushrooms
  • Granny Smith Apples (if I’m not on the 21DSD, I’ll splurge and get my favorites – Fuji)
  • Bananas (green-tipped for the 21DSD)
  • Sweet Onions
  • Bag of Sweet Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes (sometimes they have mini heirlooms which I love!)
  • Spaghetti Squash (or any variety of squash if they have it – sometimes they don’t)
  • Sauerkraut (in some stores, this is by the meat; others, with the produce)

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Pantry/Snacks

  • Organic Salted Crunchy Almond Butter – It’s so good! (the minimal amount of cashews – less than 1% – in it make me feel like it’s fine for the 21DSD)
  • Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews (not on 21DSD), macadamias, pistachios… and my most recent favorite, TRUFFLE Marcona almonds (I love the rosemary ones too – YUM!). TJs really has a great selection of nuts but be careful to look for dry roasted if you aren’t getting raw! (This is where the NTP in me is supposed to say… you really should soak and dehydrate your own raw nuts for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption… got it? Good.)
  • Plantain Chips (get more than one bag – you’ll thank me!)
  • Broccoli… Chips? Snacks? What are these things? Whatever, they’re good, and they’re Primal compliant – only three ingredients.
  • Olives
  • Organic broths (beef, chicken, etc – for when I don’t have my own homemade stash supply up)

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Meat

  • Organic Chicken – breasts, thighs, variety pack, whole chickens, all of it
  • Organic, Grass-fed Ground Beef (these come in 1lb packs – I get a few and throw a couple in the freezer if I need to)
  • Organic chicken sausages (check the ingredients before picking just any package)
  • Organic, Grass-fed Beef Hot Dogs
  • Bacon – definitely the Black Forest (so good!)

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Dairy

  • Cage-free eggs
  • Kerrygold Butter
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • Crumbled Goat Feta
  • Manchego (unpasteurized sheep’s milk cheese)

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Frozen Stuff

  • Mushroom Medley (contains just mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and parsley! And it’s pretty yummy!)
  • Fish – although I don’t get this as much now that I can get it fresh and local, but in a pinch, the mahi is great (um, also, make this amazing recipe!)
  • Sometimes I get frozen veggies just to have on hand for backup, but rarely… because I like the fresh stuff better!

AND since I know you’re curious… here are a few sweet treats I like to have on hand when I’m NOT on the 21DSD… keep in mind, they’re still considered part of the Primal Blueprint, but just something I like to keep OUT of the house if I’m trying to curb my sugar cravings (because Lord knows I can eat an entire bag of Honey Mints in two days!):

  • Just Mangoes (the organic, dried ones with no added sugar)
  • Honey Mints (um, if you don’t know what these are – you’re welcome. And I’m sorry, because you will soon be addicted!)
  • Dark Chocolate – any bar I can find that is 85% or higher
  • Lara Bars
  • Fruit Leather
  • OCCASIONALLY I grab a bag of Coconut Cashews because I’M HUMAN… but be forewarned there are some not-so-gut-friendly ingredients in those bad boys. I try not to get them often because they are so delicious that Tim and I can eat an entire bag in a day. Or, just I can. Do yourself a favor and ration those puppies if you dare make the splurge.

And there you have it! I usually make one trip a week, and I don’t always get EVERYTHING on this list, because it’s a lot. Buuut, we do eat a lot of protein and veggies! Like I said, I will get the bulk of what fills my fridge at TJs, and then hit Whole Foods or Fresh Market for some special items or for better meat options. Stay tuned for some good ideas of how to prepare this stuff!

Happy shopping & detoxing!

xx e

Revisiting The Primal Blueprint

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I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that I’ve been reminiscing about living in our first apartment in Jupiter, how it has me homesick for Florida and the life we had there. Without getting all philosophical and emotional about the past and present and blah blah, I will say that I’ve been doing a little soul-searching to figure out why things feel so different now and guess what came up for me repeatedly? A major – and I mean MAYY-JORR – contributing factor to living the vibrant, healthy, happy life we enjoyed there was – SHOCKER!! – our diet and workouts. You’d think as a yoga teacher and nutritional therapist, this would be old news to me, right? I mean, duh, Erin. Duhhh.

SO, long story short, I thought back to when I first started getting into fitness and healthy eating, and decided to revisit the first book I ever read on the Paleo diet/lifestyle – that changed the way I looked at food and working out, might I add: The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

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Okay, ignore the cheesy cover – this book is legit.

I first found the book by poking around the internet googling something along the lines of “eat like a female bodybuilder”… I KNOW, I know, make fun of me now, I’m fine with it. I had started working out more (Tim was traveling a lot and I was only working part-time so it became something to fill gaps in my day) but I wasn’t noticing much change in my body. I didn’t actually want to be a body-builder, but I knew my body type was muscular (aka, I was not designed to look like a super-skinny VS model) and I wanted to see what I could do with it. But I was still weak and knew it probably had something to do with my diet because, at that point all I knew of nutrition was the mainstream low-fat, whole grain nonsense… I was clueless (like the majority of the population) about feeding myself for optimal wellness and in this case, athletic performance.

ANYWAY. In my google search, I came across this article, which I could totally relate to… and which led me to this article, which broke down the Paleo diet so I could understand it… which then led me to Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark Sisson’s website. After poking around a bit on his site, I downloaded the 21-Day Total Body Transformation and, as I said above, my life was changed.

Tim and I implemented the lifestyle immediately. I was already getting an organic produce share every week, so my grocery trips to Whole Foods and sometimes Costco meant stocking up on quality meat and fish, healthy fats like organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, and a variety of spices and primal-friendly pantry staples like coconut aminos and almond meal.

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The mother load.

I continued my workouts and noticed changes in my strength and endurance in the first week. I was adding weight to my sets consistently and feeling strong and energized at the end of my workouts instead of depleted and dizzy.

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HA! Nice face. Remember this?! Check my guns, yo!

We followed the advice of the book and started enjoying exercise more by finding things we liked to do outside the gym, participating in group beach workouts and going for bike rides together.

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Six days a week, we ate every meal according to the primal blueprint guidelines, enjoying a glass of red wine here and there, a square of 90% dark chocolate almost every night, and one night a week, usually on the weekend, we’d enjoy a meal at one of many local favorite restaurants. While we tried to stick close to primal blueprint guidelines when we ate dinner out, we knew we couldn’t control what was going into the dish and we didn’t obsess about it. And sometimes, we didn’t stick to the blueprint at all. We were crazy fit, healthy, energized, and happy! Life was seriously our oyster and we were eating it right up… because those are allowed, heyyyy.

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach... and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach… and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

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Eggs (in one of many forms) and veggies for breakfast were ARE the new norm.

***

SIDE NOTE TIME! Now, I will admit that being pregnant has me a little more body-conscious than normal right now, (and that my current total weight gain of 6lbs feels like 20 on my 5’3″ frame) but this isn’t about that. It’s about getting back the energy, the clarity of mind and body, the zest for life, and preparing myself not only for the delivery of a healthy baby, but also for my rebound into a successful run with breast-feeding and optimal post-preg wellness for both me and the babe.

So that is what inspired me, a couple weekends ago, on the way home from our road-trip to Raleigh, to take the 4.5 hours in the car as the perfect opportunity to revisit and refresh my memory of the Primal Blueprint. So that A) I could get re-motivated to clear my kitchen of any lingering first-trimester junk food and replace it with healthy primal-friendly stock, and B) so that I could share with YOU the basic gist of the Primal Blueprint and perhaps persuade you to look into trying it for yourself. (I promise, you won’t regret it!)

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SO, without further rambling (geez, I know, sorryyyy, that was a long intro), here it is.

The Primal Blueprint is about getting the greatest health and fitness benefits you can with the least amount of pain, suffering, and sacrifice […] Today, my goal is to look super fit without having to follow an exhaustive, time-consuming exercise regimen, [and] enjoy the heck out of my meals without the slightest hint of deprivation.  – Mark Sisson

I’m going to outline the key concepts for you here. You can find more information about the lifestyle by visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, or of course, by getting one of the many books he’s written on the Primal Blueprint. (Nope, I’m not being paid to say that.)

Out with the OLD

The Primal Blueprint involves changing your lifestyle, but let me just say this once: IT IS NOT HARD. So get it out of your head that it is. For starters, here’s what you can leave in your past:

  • Grains, sugars, sweetened beverages. All of it. Processed carbs drive insulin production which can lead to inflammation and fatigue among other issues.
  • Hydrogenated oils. There’s the obvious heavily processed snack foods and packaged baked goods along with deep-fried foods, but this also means no more margarine or “spreads”, canola, corn, or vegetable oils either. All this stuff sets the stage for cancer and heart disease, no matter what it says on the label about being heart-healthy, so pitch it! You’ll have plenty of other primal-friendly options in terms of healthy fats that will leave you way more satisfied.
  • Beans and legumes. These babies are just hard to digest, period. They can mess with your gut big time and therefore your immune system and health in general.
  • Dairy. You don’t haaave to get rid of it, but here’s the thing: most commercial dairy isn’t good for anyone. It’s loaded with hormones and other impurities. If you’re lactose tolerant, opt for organic, pastured butter and heavy cream. YES, that’s right. BUTTER. And HEAVY CREAM.
  • Chronic exercise. I’m talking to you, chick on the elliptical. Time to reject your hours spent in the gym and the idea that reaching a certain number of miles, hours, or weekly workouts is the key to fitness. It’s not.
  • Sedentary patternsNow I’m talking to you, chick in front of the computer. Google “sitting disease” and tell me what you find. How about a lot of fat storage, elevated risk of heart disease, joint pain, muscle weakness, and lack of energy? Get up and move.
  • Poor sleep habits. Just go to bed already. Leave the phone plugged in downstairs, use a real alarm clock, and “shut down” at least an hour (preferably more) before climbing into bed.
  • Somber, spartan approach to lifestyle transformationGet it out of your head that you have to count calories, have rigid portion control and specifically timed meals, limited menu choices, guilt, or binging cycles. Does this sound familiar? Well, it’s over. There’s no strict workout regimen, no struggling, and no suffering. Like I mentioned before: IT IS NOT HARD. You’re welcome.

In with the NEW

Is this starting to sound like something you might be interested in trying? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It is that good. Here’s what you can look forward to with  your new primal lifestyle:

  • Primal foodsMeat! Fish! Poultry! Eggs! Veggies! Fruits! Nuts! Seeds! High-quality fats! Eat it up and love your life! Guess what else? You can even enjoy your red wine and dark chocolate, too!
  • Primal eating philosophyEat as much of your primal foods as you want, when you want, however often you want. You’ll begin to notice you’re satisfied with less, after meals you don’t feel stuffed or bloated (you feel amazing), and you can indulge sensibly without having the urge to binge because you’re able to enjoy life guilt-free. If you’re anything like me, this will be HUGE for you.
  • Increase daily movementNotice this doesn’t say, “do this exercise five times a week”. Nope. Did you not read that part above? NO MORE of that. Do what makes you happy. Do what you enjoy. Walk more. Use stairs. Take frequent breaks when you have to sit for a long time (i.e., at work, etc). Basically, get off your behind and move around.
  • Brief, intense workoutsThis may be a curve ball or something new to some of you but give it a shot – it’s essential for maintaining high energy levels and a healthy heart and lungs at any age. Go harder but less often and for less time. So, like a 30-minute (or less) strength workout. Sprint intervals for 15 minutes (or less). That’s all… it’s easy, and you don’t have to do this every day.
  • Calming evening rituals. Like I mentioned above, wind down at night to prepare yourself for a healthy night’s sleep. Turn off the tv, put away the technology, dim the lights, use candles, read, chat with your loved one, take a slow neighborhood stroll. You get the idea.
  • FUN approach to lifestyle transformation. This is your chance to explore exciting new foods, recipes, and establish new eating practices. (Side note: I will never forget the first time we tried sun-chokes or kale… and how my cookbook collection expanded to include what are now some of my favorite recipes of all time!) You’re going to start exercising for fun and energy, and best of all – NO MORE OVERTRAINING! You’re going to PLAY more! And probably best of all, you’ll start to enjoy life more with your loved ones, because you’ll be inclined to be less “connected” and more appreciative of spending time with your family and friends. This really does happen, people! (This is the part where I could go on a tangent about diet and digestion and protein and fat and related neurotransmitter production and mental wellness… but I’ll spare you.) ;)

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What to expect…

So aside from the energy levels and new zest for life you can expect to experience by going primal, what are some other benefits from adopting this new way of life? So glad you asked.

  • Anti-agingI can’t explain this as well as Mark does here.
  • AppetiteYou won’t overeat anymore. You just won’t. Adopting the Primal Blueprint literally cured me of my binging tendencies.
  • Blood markersExpect to see some improvement in your cholesterol. But how can that be, eating red meat and butter?! I’m rolling my eyes at you right now. Get your head out of the low-fat-high-carbohydrate-garbage diet myth you’ve been fed for years and start doing your own research.
  • Body fatYou will lose body fat. Can I say that any more simply?
  • Diminished cravings. People don’t believe me when I tell them I just didn’t want grains, junk food, or sweets any more. Sure, I indulged on occasion, but I didn’t miss them in my daily life. Don’t believe me? Guess you’re going to have to experience it yourself.
  • Digestion. If you didn’t already know, your digestion is probably impaired… yours and nearly 90% of Americans’. The Primal Blueprint follows the guidelines of the diet I recommend as a nutritional therapist for optimal digestion, and optimal wellness. Period.
  • Drug-free. This can mean so many things… you’ll soon be ready to ditch your OTC antacids and pain relievers, then, with your doctor’s support, you’ll be able to work toward eliminating many if not all of your prescription meds, too.
  • Immunity. This goes hand in hand with digestion: healing your digestion leads to optimal immune system function. You’ll probably notice getting sick less often and recovering more quickly if you do happen to get run down.
  • Measurements. If you happen to be keeping track, you’ll see these change, too. Your clothes will fit (and look!) better and looser as you decrease body fat, reduce systemic inflammation, and get rid of the bloating and water retention! Where will you see this first? Tush, hips, thighs, waist – the primary storage areas for fat. (YAY!)
  • Muscle mass. Increase or maintain and sculpt muscle mass while dropping body fat. Um, isn’t that basically ideal and what everyone wants? Awesome.
  • SleepYou’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better and more soundly, and begin to awaken naturally (without an alarm), refreshed and energized. No joke.
  • StressDiet alone affects the way our body and mind respond to stress. The Primal Blueprint will help regulate this and reduce fatigue, burnout, and dysfunction that seems to go hand in hand with a hectic modern life.
  • Total fitness. The Primal Blueprint involves functional exercise and a diet that develops and supports a balanced physique and broad physical competency. See that picture above, the one of me doing my best meathead impression and taking selfies in the gym? Ha. Okay take a close look at the picture of me standing. For most of my life, carrying most of my weight around my hips (like many people), I never used to look like that… even and muscular and balanced from head to toe. And I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction when I carried a huge la-z-boy recliner up a flight of stairs by myself. Simply put, you’ll look good, and you can do more – physically – without risk of overtraining or injury.
  • Optimal wellnessEverything listed above and more. Improved bone density. Glucose tolerance. Insulin sensitivity. Improved blood pressure. Hormone balance. How will you know about all of this if you’re not being tested for it? Simple. You’ll feel the best you’ve ever felt.

So… wow. There you have it. Man, I don’t know about you but revisiting this book has me totally reenergized to get back to that lifestyle.

And you? What are you waiting for?! Get the book and join me!

xx

e

P.S. Nope, I wasn’t paid for writing this. (Sadly!) My opinion is legit. I really do love it and recommend it with all my heart. Go for it.

Weekend FOODIE Recap… and What’s in Store This Week!

Gooood afternoon, fair people of the interweb! Can you even believe it’s already Monday again?! The weekend flew by, as usual.

This happened to be one of three weekends we’ve been able to enjoy alone as a couple since moving into our new house mid-March (hard to believe!). Between visitors and travel, we really needed a weekend of quality time to ourselves, and this weekend delivered.

Since Tim was out of town almost all of last week, we enjoyed a much needed date night (Whaaaat?! Remember those!?!!) at a new-to-us and sort-of-new-to-Sullivan’s-Island restaurant called The Obstinate Daughter. It. Was. Awesome. First of all, they had me at atmosphere – from the nautical rope light fixtures to raw wood, rustic-industrial accents with plush seating and perfectly out-of-place Steve Miller Band and other classic rock playing at a volume high enough to make patrons have to speak up to hear each other… it was pretty perfect.  Custom creative cocktails (in which I did not partake, but I did sip Tim’s) and a simple but SUPER TASTY menu loaded with local ingredients and foodie hot-items like ramps, sorghum, and farm fresh eggs (runny), made this local gem rocket to the top of my new favorite restaurants list. We had the Local Lettuce, Clammer Dave’s Baked Clams, and the Old Danger pizza (which rivals a favorite back home – the Sunnyside at Bar Cento in Cleveland – NOTHING will ever replace you, Sunnyside, but Old Danger was preeeetty good). Love, love, LOVED it. YUM.

photo courtesy of Yelp.com

photo courtesy of Yelp.com – click for link.

Side note: get a reservation – we lucked out somehow and snagged a table… they were supposedly booked up til 10pm when we arrived around 7:30. I secretly think the sweet sorority sister hostesses felt sorry for making the pregnant chick stand… umm, totally fine with using the bump to get seated faster.

Saturday we spent painting the nursery, transforming it from its old, dingy, yellow-orangey tan, to bright and breezy Sherwin Williams “Sprout”. I’m not totally done with the transformation, obviously (hellooo, I need a crib in that crib, a not-hideous light fixture [not pictured], and some stuff on the walls!), but here’s a sneak peek. In case you’re curious, find my inspiration for color scheme here.

Orangey-tan walls... gag.  Also, don't you love my cut-in? I forgot to take a "real" before pic.

Orangey-tan walls… gag. Also, don’t you love my cut-in? I forgot to take a “real” before pic.

 

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I love me a good side note: I’m transforming that chair into a rocker courtesy of a tutorial I found on Pinterest… and also, sorry for the sort of dark pic… that window was messing with me.

I had brined some pork chops for the grill that night (still haven’t perfected my pork chop technique, but they were pretty tasty), and served them up alongside an heirloom carrot and parsnip puree, and some lemony creamed chard (easily my new favorite side… I will share the recipe soon!). Tim was so impressed with my plating that he asked if I was going to take a picture, to which I replied, “I probably should” and then promptly dove in fork-first. Bad blogger.

Sunday, we tested out a new church which turned out to be a pleasant surprise aside from our initial reaction to the crowd requiring traffic direction, and followed up the service with brunch at our favorite dive-y spot on the beach, Acme Lowcountry Kitchen. They are super slow when it comes to putting out the food, but the fried green tomato eggs benedict (sans English muffin for me) is seriously worth the wait. I don’t know how, but their poached eggs are PER. FECT. Every. Time. I need to take lessons from the chef. And their fried green tomatoes are probably the best I’ve had since we’ve been in Charleston… and believe me, I’ve been trying them nearly everywhere.

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com - click for link

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com – click for link

This week is going to be a good one. I’ve got some great posts in store for you, some inspired by re-visiting books on my bookshelf, some inspired by questions and suggestions of friends, and ALL of them inspired by my favorite thing ever: FOOD! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

  • Revisiting the Primal Blueprint – why I’m regrouping and and why you should consider giving it a shot, too.
  • What to Eat – how to look at your meals from a nutritional standpoint to make sure you’re getting what you need, along with some quick and easily customizable meal options.
  • The 21-Day Sugar Detox – we’ve been there before and you know I love it… let me share a few ways it might benefit you and how to set yourself up for success.

So pull up a laptop or a tablet, get comfy, and stay tuned for the good stuff!

xx

e