Tag Archives: fitfam

Jazzy Things: Clean Banana Bread

Alright guys, if you don’t already know, Jazzy Things is just about the coolest chick of the inter-webs.  I started following her Instagram page the day I realized I could get fitness and nutrition info on my favorite social media. She posts websites, workouts, selfies, waffles, and so much more, I gotta say, I’m pretty pissed she moved to California as I moved out.

I’m sharing with you guys today her clean banana bread recipe she recently posted. I saw the post and immediately thought of those browning bananas wasting away in my fruit bowl (there always seem to be brown bananas around–where do they all come from? I can’t keep up with my banana purchasing habits).

The plight of the lonely, browning banana
The plight of the lonely, browning banana

So please, look her up, follow her, find her on Facebook, buy her e-books. You’ll be doing yourself a favor!

Jazzy Things Clean Banana Bread

banana loaf
banana loaf

Courtesy of Jazzy Things Instagram

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas

3 eggs

1/2C coconut sugar

1/4C melted coconut oil

1t cinnamon

1t vanilla

1t baking powder

1/2t salt

1/2C almond flour

1/2C coconut flour

Instructions

  1. preheat oven to 350F.
  2. mash bananas, microwave for easier mashing.
  3. add eggs, sugar, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  4. add both flours, mix.
  5. Bake for one hour.
  6. Enjoy! And go scroll through Jazzy Things ID page while you nom.

    Perfectly cooked and still ooey-gooey inside.
    Perfectly cooked and still ooey-gooey inside.
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Clean Chicken Nuggets

So this recipe comes to you from my amazing Aunt Katie. Not only is she amazing and beautiful but she is also extremely passionate about fitness and nutrition. She has always been an athlete, but began CrossFit about a year ago and dabbles in Paleo as well.

I am very fortunate to have a family that loves to cook and appreciates a healthy lifestyle. We always strive to cook clean recipes with fresh, organic ingredients, and of course, lots of love. At the holidays we always work a hike or long walks into our plans, perfect to help keep up with all of the less-than-clean indulgences.

I’m used to Katie’s christmas delicacies like chocolate rice crispy balls, or her famous anise (ah-nihs) cookies…but she sure knows how to keep it clean in the kitchen too!

I decided to run this recipe by the Tom taste test, not telling him what I was making, or that it was clean, and seeing what he thought. I expected good…but these turned out great! Not only did they receive a serious “yum” from Mr. Picky himself, but they are super clean and totally easy.

Clean Chicken Nuggets

These clean nuggets paired perfectly with waffle-cut sweet potato fries and plain old ketchup.
These clean nuggets paired perfectly with waffle-cut sweet potato fries and plain old ketchup.

Courtesy of Katie Shafer

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 T olive oil

1/2 cup almond flour

1t paprika (not smoked or hot)

1/2t poultry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Did you know that almond flour, or almond meal, is literally just ground almonds? You can make it yourself for cheap with just a food processor. This works with cashews too!
Did you know that almond flour, or almond meal, is literally just ground almonds? You can make it yourself for cheap with just a food processor. This works with cashews too!

Instructions

  1. brush a baking sheet literally with olive oil and place in the oven as it preheats to 400F.
  2. cut each breast into nugget size pieces (about 5 each). Use a mallet to pound thicker pieces so they are all the same.
  3. Combine almond flour, paprika, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper in a bowl, mixing together well.
  4. dip each nugget into the mixture, pressing on so it is fully coated. Coat all nuggets before removing the baking sheet from the oven.
  5. lay the nuggets on the baking sheet and gook 10 minutes.
  6. remove pan from oven, turn nuggets, and bake an additional 10 minutes (don’t overcook!!)
  7. serve them up! Include sauce, sweet potato fries, or veggies!

Rest is Part of the Program

DOMS: T-rex arms and Crossfit

The first thing I thought of when I googled “can’t extend arm after crossfit” and read the term “DOMS” was “ is that some Dom Mazzetti skit again?” It turned out to be less entertaining than that, but it was nicknamed “t-rex arms” which sounded kind of funny.

I was into my first official week of a month-long crossfit membership, when I woke up the morning after a workout to find that I couldn’t extend my right arm beyond 90 degrees without excruciating pain, it was swollen to about two times the size and hard as a rock. First a panicked, and then second, like any millennial, I googled.

It turned out my injury was pretty common, especially in crossfit. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Sure, I’d been sore before, unable to walk up stairs for days, but I’d never experienced anything as debilitating as this. This extreme soreness, it turns out, comes from eccentric workouts…which doesn’t mean unconventional or strange in this case. Eccentric contractions are those where the muscle is elongated at the time of the contraction.

eccentric-contraction

My good friend Lauren is an avid pole fitness fanatic, and she is constantly elongating her limbs while trying to hold herself up on the pole and still manage to look graceful…it’s pretty incredible.

It is that exact type of exercise that is to blame for the beloved t-rex arm. So it turns out crossfit and pole dancing have more in common than I thought? Well…sort of. The day before my injury, I’d been doing toe to bars, a fancy circus form of hanging abs, and the day before that I’d been doing pull ups, and in between them I’d been doing burpees, pushups, and handstands. I like to think I’m pretty strong and tough, but it turns out I can mentally put up with a lot more exertion than I can physically.

As it turns out, the swelling is part of the healing process, and the inability to extend is a protective function to keep from further injury. So does that make it a good thing? Yep! I might be able to push myself hard as all hell, but the truth is, my body needs to catch up to where my mind is at physically, and a few days of t-rex arms is exactly what I needed to take a step back and let my body catch up.

353 Dollars, 13 Pounds, and 5 Weeks

So I last left you at the bottom of Mt. Washington, my friends and I reeling in the glory of our accomplishment, smiles plastered across our exhausted faces. Although my blue toe may have been a blip on my radar at the end of the day, it grew into a much bigger problem. $353 in doctor bills, 13 pounds, and 5 weeks later, I finally began to pick up the pieces after a serious injury.

We all hear about injury protection and worry about over-exerting ourselves. But for the most part, it remains just that: a worry. Now, of course I didn’t go through Tommy John surgery or a broken femur, but I can imagine the experience is similar, on a grander scale, of course.

Suffering through an injury is a grieving process, it comes in stages, it leaves you a better person for going through it, and it hurts like hell.

Stage 1: Denial

“No, babe, I’m fine, I just need to keep it elevated and relax,” I told Tom. My feet were propped up on three pillows at the end of the bed, the right looking normal, and left about twice it’s normal size, flushed, and topped with a dark blue big toe.

“I just need to take a shower first,” I said as I hoped off the bed, hobbling around the room. I couldn’t feel anything below my ankle, so my gait was awkward, clunky, and I relied completely on my right leg. Tom tried to help, but I refused to look weak. Injury? What’s that? After struggling to take off all of my clothes and get the shower started, I stood under the pouring water, bracing myself against the wall. Every movement felt more uneasy than the previous, so I slide down the back of the tub, tuck my knees into my chest and let the scorching water run down my body, finally letting my muscles release. The water burns but my left foot throbs hotter, like it’s soaking up all of the water like a sponge. I think about anything to get my mind off of the pain, what am I going to workout tomorrow at the gym? I’ll probably be pretty sore, maybe it’ll be a yoga day. Or how about some handstand practice? I wonder if my arms will be sore too…

Once it’s felt like a long enough time for a proper shower, I crawl to the front of the tub, turn off the water, and sit there, air drying is a thing, right?

 

Stage 2: Anger

All couch and no gym makes Mia an angry girl. I can barely stand sitting around on a Sunday, let alone every day of every week for about five weeks.

It took a lot for me to accept that I had to go to the doctor in the first place, and then for him to tell me that I basically couldn’t walk for the next three weeks, I was not a happy camper.

“Well, basically we have two options,” Dr Malcom told me, “you need to stay off of it as much as possible, then in three weeks we will have a follow up where I’ll either have to make an incision and fix things manually, or you’ll be good to go!” Well that’s fine and dandy, but what on earth is wrong with my foot? “What we have here is acute frostbite, combined with an impacted nerve.” Who the hell does that happen to?

The anger spiraled from that appointment, to me ordering people around from the couch, to spewing out pure negative energy at all times of the day, every day.

It felt like I had a certain amount of energy that had to be released every day, and since I was barred from the gym, most activities at work, and basically anything aside from watching Netflix, that energy had to come out in anyway possible; unfortunately the easiest way was to just overflow in anger and frustration.

I was mad that I couldn’t do anything, I was mad that I was gaining weight, I was mad that my half hour doctor’s appointment left me with a $100 co-pay and $150 antibiotics. It began to spiral out of control, to the point where I was barking orders at everyone around me, lashing out in any all every capacity.

 

Stage 3: Bargaining

By week three, I was exhausted. The energy I couldn’t place in any healthy capacity began to fade, and was replaced with endlessly restless thoughts. If only I had checked my boots one more time before heading down the mountain…if only I hadn’t worn the liner socks…if only I had said something when my toe started to hurt… At this point, I think everyone around me became grateful that I had quieted down, but the gears were still turning just as quickly. All of the anger internalized, and I tried to think my way out of my injury, fixating on every detail of the hike.

I made a lot of pacts with myself during this stage of the injury. “I will listen to my body more throughout my workouts,” “I will allow myself to rest in order to not over exert myself, “ “I will do yoga twice a week,” “I will stretch after every workout,” and the list goes on and on. This was the fist light of positivity, but the internalized anger began to slowly change into an inner sadness that I slipped into quite quickly.

 

Stage 4: Depression

This is the stage that I got stuck in the most. Self-pity is an ugly thing we never want to admit to, but the sadness overwhelmed me, and soon the gears stopped turning, but I remained silent, stuck in my own head, wallowing in my sadness. I binged not only on crap food I never used to bat an eye at, but even more so on feeling bad for myself. “aw, poor me, I don’t even know who I am anymore” I was completely detached from the woman I was pre-injury.

The pacts I’d made faded away, I stopped writing, and I barely paid attention to the TV shows I spent all of my time watching. My work began to suffer, and even Tom began to suffer, feeling helpless as he watched me fade into a very different version of myself.

At this point, there really was no energy being transferred anywhere. I could no longer identify with myself or anything else; I became my injury.

“Why don’t we just go to the gym and do some abs and upper body?” my good friend and gym buddy, Kara, asked me. “I can’t even put my gym shoes on, I don’t want to be seen in there in Uggs.” I’m sure she could smell the bullshit, but she understood. I would come up with any excuse I possible could to stay in this safe, comfortable depression I found myself in. Not only had I grown a little more fluffy and complacent, but also lazy. It was just easier to be depressed, after all I had an excuse, right? I had freakin’ acute frostbite!

 

Stage 5: Acceptance, Healing

His hands were cold as he poked and prodded at different parts of my foot. The tip of my big toe was still numb, but it was back down to its normal size, no longer throbbing, and the nail wasn’t completely purple.

“Good news,” he started off with, “It looks like the nerve has settles back into place on it’s own, the nail matrix feels in tact, and I don’t think we’ll be cutting anything open today.” I was waiting for the next sentence, the “but…”, the bad news. When nothing came, I asked, “so, can I, like, go to the gym and stuff?” Dr. Malcom laughed a little and just said “yeah.”

In my head I’m thinking, what??? How long have I been able to go back to the gym. I can go back!!! I can use my foot! And although that co-pay was an odd $103, I was dancing out of that office like I had never been injured at all.

Just hearing that I was okay, changed my entire outlook immediately. I finally snapped out of my injury depression and was ready to push my boundaries and get back into action.

Sure, it took another few weeks to get completely back to normal, and I’m still not where I was, physically, but my head was back in the game right away, and a bum foot, or a few extra pounds is nothing compared to a sick mental state. The physical aspect of an injury is just the tip of the iceberg, below there are layers and layers of self-doubt, anger, depression, and so much more. It’s no wonder to me now that there are sports psychologists getting paid millions of dollars each year to work with professional athletes through the pain and frustration of injury, recovery, and re-instatement into their respective sports.

I may still not be completely healed, but I know my body better, and I know my self better.

A Fresh Twist: Pesto

Growing up in a 100% Italian household has always been delicious. Has it always been healthy? That’s a more difficult question to answer. Ever since I began this food and fitness journey, I have sought to stay true to my Italian roots.

One of my favorite Christmas presents finally getting thrown into action
One of my favorite Christmas presents finally getting thrown into action

This recipe takes a fresh twist on an Italian staple and stays true to Paleo guidelines. Also…it was freakin’ delicious!!

The final product, almost as pretty as it is delicious
The final product, almost as pretty as it is delicious

Artichoke Pesto and Chicken

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed

1 large spaghetti squash

1 jar artichoke hearts (I used a small jar)

1/3 C walnuts

5 T EVOO

5 T vegetable broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 handful fresh Italian parsley (NOT cilantro!)

1 handful fresh basil

1 lemon, juiced

5 cups baby spinach

My own brand of Spaghetti Squash?
My own brand of Spaghetti Squash?

Directions

  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. cut squash in half, length wise, and remove seeds and loose strings with a spoon.  Place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 45-50 minutes.
  3. Use a fork to scrape the isnide and loosen the “spaghetti” from the skin.
  4. While in the oven, in a large pan over medium-high heat, add a little bit of the oil preserving the artichoke hearts in the jar and 1 minced garlic clove.  When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the halved artichokes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute for about 5-8 minutes, until sides are slightly browned.
  5. Add browned artichokes to a food processor along  walnuts, olive oil, vegetable broth, and second garlic clove (I threw it in whole). Puree until smooth.
  6. Add the parsley, basil, lemon, and salt and pepper. Puree once more until smooth.
  7. In the pan used to brown the artichoke hearts, cook cubed chicken breasts, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Once chicken is cooked, add a few spoonfuls of the pesto and the baby spinach. Cover and let spinach steam.
  9. Combine “spaghetti”, the rest of your pesto sauce, chicken, and spinach.
  10. Enjoy!

Paleo Lavender Vanilla Bean Scones

Lavender is a perfect image of spring time, reminding us of all of the beautiful smells, tastes, and colors coming to life.
Lavender is a perfect image of spring time, reminding us of all of the beautiful smells, tastes, and colors coming to life.

As you will learn, I have a serious sweet tooth, so I am constantly searching for guilt-free treats. Combine that with my curiosity for new flavors and techniques, and you get stuff like this! I found this recipe on one of my favorite healthy recipe sites paleomg.com

This was my first time working with most of these ingredients, so I did my research careful to learn exactly which part of the lavender plant to use, and how to handle a true vanilla bean.

Another thing to note in this recipe is how easy it is to make your own nut meals/flours. Here we use cashews for their sweet but still robust flavor.

I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by this recipe. I was hesitant about my proportions, nervous about all of the new ingredients, and a little intimidated (still) by clean baking in general, but it turned out to have an incredibly delicate flavor and rich texture that perfectly solved my sweet craving.

So, without further ado…

Paleo Lavender Vanilla Bean Scones

Lavender Vanilla Bean scones topped with homemade raw honey butter and coconut crystals
Lavender Vanilla Bean scones topped with homemade raw honey butter and coconut crystals

Ingredients:

1.5 C cashews (I used roasted, unsalted), ground into a meal/flour

1 t baking powder

pinch of salt

3 T lavender buds

2 vanilla beans, cut lengthwise with a sharp knife, all seeds removed (directions from The Kitchn)

1 egg, whisked

1/4 C coconut oil

3 T maple syrup

2 t vanilla extract

1/4 C arrowroot flour (add extra if your dough feels too wet!)

Scone toppings:

3 T raw honey

1 T butter

1-2 T coconut crystals

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Run the cashews through your food processor until it becomes a slightly coarse meal/flour.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cashew meal, baking powder, salt, lavender buds, and vanilla bean seeds.
  4. Then mix in your egg, almond oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and combine.
  5. Lastly, mix in your arrowroot flour to help thicken.
  6. Add the dough into a ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet then press down to help flatten out evenly.
  7. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let cook slightly.
  9. While the scones are cooling, mix together honey and butter (heating the two up together) and top scones with the mixture and some coconut crystals.

Makes 8 scones