Tag Archives: paleo

Trackers Galore: My Fitness Pal v. Fooducate

Another calorie tracker comes on to the market.
Another calorie tracker comes on to the market.

Healthify your food choices to lose weight! Get independent, objective food recommendations with Fooducate.

I first read about the Fooducate app in the latest issue of Muscle and Fitness Hers-one of my favorite women’s fitness publications on the market. As a regular user of myfitnesspal, and having tried out several of the other apps out there, I had to try this new app!

Let me preview this post by stating that I, personally, use myfitnesspal to track my calories and macros and keep them in line. So I went into a week-long test run of Fooducate with these same goals in mind, to see what this new app brought to the table-or more commonly-the tupperware.

So first things first, it asks you to set up an account, input your height, weight, and goal-all very similar to MFP. Next comes the “home page” of the app, and where the major differences begin.

Fooducate home screen and news feed.
Fooducate home screen and news feed.

Scan, Browse, and Track options look familiar. Unlock Premium Features-of course, gotta pay to upgrade and get the good stuff. Daily Tipsawesome! The whole goal behind Fooducate is to educate the user, and it definitely delivers. Scrolling through several articles, they were all very well written, researched, cited, and kept concise-perfect for the mobile app format and my life on the go.

Not only are these Daily Tips easily accessible on the home screen, but they are also e-mailed out in Fooducate’s newsletter, and posted on their website’s blog for larger-format reading-or printing if you don’t care about trees.

These tips and their high level of quality really ring true to the goal of Fooducate, and set it far, far apart from any other tracker app on the market. Fooducate is definitely something else!

Now, we move on to the actual tracking of food. Continuing on with the theme of education, Fooducate gives foods a grades.

Fooducate's grading system allows for reasoning, education, and alternatives.
Fooducate’s grading system allows for reasoning, education, and alternatives.

Fooducate continues their commitment to quality with in-depth grades that come with explanations. If you’re wondering why the food you snacked on received an A- they’ll tell you right then and there. I also appreciated the note about fiber, which also came with an explanation as to exactly why that was good for you.

Quest bars always get an A++ in my book.
Quest bars always get an A++ in my book.

I couldn’t believe they had given my favorite, Quest bars, a B+. And I can’t track my carbs? So I’ll never know my macro’s for the day? That didn’t sit well for me. There is a screen where you can see a pie chart, giving you an idea of the ratio of our macro’s (but only for food’s fully graded and uploaded into their system-more on this in a sec). But in order to see total fat, carbs, or protein, you have to upload to go pro.

Within my beloved quest bar I found two interesting things.

We need more artificial sweetening warnings.
We need more artificial sweetening warnings.

The app warns the user against artificial sweeteners, a major issue in today’s food industry and something that many new healthy eater’s may not know enough about. I appreciated the thorough yet concise coverage and the links to further reading on the topic. I do, however, wish that Fooducate did separate things like stevia apart from sweet-n-low.

Too much protein? What does that even mean?
Too much protein? What does that even mean?

So clearly this app isn’t designed by body builders, chalk monsters, or bikini competitors. However, as taken back as I may have been, I did appreciate the thorough education behind every single ingredient. Yes-it is true, and I completely agree, that natural proteins are the best for your body. But still, “puffed up with protein” doesn’t seem like a major negative for me. I’m torn on this one! Of course it’s true, but ugh-really? Gimme all the protein!

Fooducate also provides alternative foods to those with less-than-perfect grades, which comes in handy when scanning items at the grocery store-as the app is intended for.

So only pre-packaged Tyson chicken gets a grade?
So only pre-packaged Tyson chicken gets a grade?

As I mentioned earlier, not everything is in the Fooducate grocery cart. Of course, MyFitnessPal isn’t 100% fully comprehensive either, but at least there are fully uploaded, macros counted options for common generic foods such as “chicken breast” “asparagus” or even “banana”. Fooducate focuses on pre-packaged brand name foods, which everything in my nutrition background warns against.

Which brings me to my conclusion. I don’t believe that these two apps belong on the same playing field. They do not provide comparable information or experiences, and Fooducate focuses on a  novice audience, while MyFitnessPal caters to all levels of nutritional education, but does not help inform its users anywhere near as much.

Fooducate certaininly has it’s place in the nutrition app world, but it is a place for health newbies and packaged foodies, and for information and product comparison on the fly-not calorie and nutrient tracking. Still, however, I cannot stress how much I appreciate the high quality content provided by the creators. I think this app is necessary, helpful, and will be extremely powerful in the right hands.

I will be subscribing to the newsletter and keeping an eye on the Daily Tips, but you won’t see me switching over. I’m going to have to give this one to MyFitnessPal due to my personal needs and goals.

The bottom line is: these two apps have different purposes, but can be used in conjunction with each other for an even better nutritional experience than either on its own.

 

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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.

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!

Meathead: Grass-fet Bison Burgers Wrapped in BACON

What do you do when you realize the bison meat you just bought has a sell by date of tomorrow? you improvise!

The best part is, Tom was actually willing to try these bad boys! Unlike 95% of what I cook: “veggies…ew!”

I had looked up a million and a half bison recipes trying to find the most alluring dish, but when it came down to it, I wen’t for simplicity. I’ve definitely learned that simple recipes just work.

These giant burgers are juicy and delicious. Perfect for paleo-ers and everyone else!
These giant burgers are juicy and delicious. Perfect for paleo-ers and everyone else!

And so, I introduce to you: Bacon-Wrapped Grass-Fed Bison Burgers

Ingredients

1 lb grass-fed ground bison meat (found at my regular grocery store!)

1 whole egg

1/2 white onion, finely diced

prepared steak seasoning (yeah, I know its not strict paleo or “clean”…it’s just easy!)

salt and pepper to taste

4 slices thick cut bacon

Directions

  1. preheat oven to 350 F
  2. combine bison, onion, egg, seasonings in a bowl
  3. form into 4 even “patties” but keep them pretty thick! (they will seem huge!)
  4. Wrap each patty with one slice of bacon, it should be the perfect length to not have to cut any excess off. Secure with toothpick for baking.
  5. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and back for 30 minutes.

Chicken Apple Breakfast Patties

In deciding to give the paleo diet an honest go, I’ve encountered more struggles than benefits so far.  Now before you go and tell me that the science behind the “cave man diet” is bogus: I know! But there are still benefits to avoiding dairy and grains that can’t be underestimated. It’s all about trying it all until you find what works for you…and then trying even more just to see!

So my biggest struggle right off the bat has been breakfast. I lived off oatmeal or Ezikiel bread and peanut butter….now all of those have been taken off the table. In order to get a quick and easy protein/carb combo, I came up with these little sausage-like patties that are completely paleo and will make your kitchen smell amazing!

Chicken Apple Breakfast Patties

Three chicken apple patties and some yolk porn
Three chicken apple patties and some yolk porn

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken

1 apple peeled and diced (I used a Fuji apple)

1 T fresh thyme

3 T fresh parsley

1 T fresh oregano

2 t garlic powder

coconut oil

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Using about 3 T of coconut oil in a skillet, cook down the apples with the thyme, parsley and oregano until apples are soft. This will take about 7 minutes. More if you use less coconut oil.

    The smell of the apple, thyme, parsley and oregano is incredible
    The smell of the apple, thyme, parsley and oregano is incredible
  3. Once cooked and cooled, combine apple mixture with ground chicken, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. form into 12 even patties spread out on a foil-lined baking tray
    ready to pop into the oven, consider doubling your batch, as I did, and freezing half for later use.
    ready to pop into the oven, consider doubling your batch, as I did, and freezing half for later use.

     

  5. bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Store either by refrigerating, freezing, or both!

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