Paleo(ish) Walnut Butter Recipe!

Walnuts are acknowledged as a great source of Omega 3’s and in general a great snack for Paleo eaters. Peanuts (and therefore peanut butter) are decidedly NOT Paleo as they are a legume. So, I decided it was time to make walnut butter, because peanut butter is a fond yet distant memory I would like to create.

Why has it taken me literally 4 years to do this? I have no freaking clue.

I’m not a ‘measuring’ kinda girl anymore, so here’s what I did:

How To Make Paleo Walnut Butter

walnutbutter

Total Time: <5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Walnuts (shelled, doesn’t matter if they’re whole, halves, chunks, whatever)
  • Walnut oil (do this to avoid adding another food to the recipe so you follow your 4-Day Rotation Diet easier)
  • Salt
  • Agave Nectar (optional but recommended… Agave Nectar isn’t Paleo because it’s a processed food item, but it’s my preferred sweetener when trying to eat Paleo and needing a little break)

You will also need a food processor (a blender may work too but the blade would have to pretty much reach the bottom of the blender to work right).

Instructions:

  1. Throw your walnuts in your food processor. THROW THEM!
  2. Turn on your processor and let it run until the walnuts are mostly walnut powder (this was like 30 seconds for me).
  3. Add a couple pinches of salt and pulse the processor a few times to get it mixed in with your magic walnut pixie dust.
  4. Through the top hole of your food processor, slowly (SLOWLYYYYYY) drizzle in walnut oil. Watch the mixture – the goal is to get your walnuts to turn into a paste. I had to stop the processor and scrape the walnuts off the walls a couple times to make sure the oil was actually getting into them. This took 2 rounds of scraping and restarting the processor (while slowly adding oil during the blending process) to get the right consistency.
  5. At this point, you would add some agave nectar and blend again if you wish. I thought the agave nectar made the walnut butter incredibly better, but it’s totally up to you and how strict you are with sweetener.

 

That’s it – magic. You can also toast your walnuts ahead of time in the oven to change the flavor of the walnut butter, but I haven’t gotten THAT crazy yet.

Enjoy!

 

Never Too Late to Make a Change

Ticking ClockI have come across a number of people in my life whose weight problems are a very real threat on their health and lifespan. Some of these people have chosen to make a change in their lives and make extreme efforts to improve their health. Other people have not changed their lifestyle choices and continued to get heavier, sicker, and more lodged into their ways. I do not know the specific circumstances each of these people are in, but what I do know is that there is never a good reason to continue in an unhealthy.

I know a woman who for many years was around 200 pounds overweight. She had been in the same downward path for over ten years and made the choice to change her life, even knowing that she the journey would not be short or easy. She has worked through emotional trauma, changed her diet, and started going to a local Crossfit gym. She has taken her health and her future in her own hands.

I view this woman as an inspiration.  She has taken enormous strides in changing her life and has regained her health. She has likely lengthened her lifespan, which is very important to her now as a grandmother. She is happier, lighter, and continues to pursue healthy lifestyle choices.

Taking care of yourself should be first priority. Life can get busy, and hard, and circumstances can change… but if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to enjoy that life. It is never too late to make a change in your life… the benefits are worth it.

The first step is education. Look around this site to learn about basic nutritional guidelines and healthy lifestyle tips. Start cutting unhealthy items like breads, pastas, and sodas out of your diet and getting more meats, fruits, and veggies in your meals.

Start being physically active every day. Taking a 5-10 minute walk each day around your neighborhood is a great way to start if you are not currently very active. Once you feel comfortable with that, try doing some sit-ups and wall-pushups every other day. Eventually get yourself into a good gym where you can take classes and get guidance on the healthiest way for you work out.

Focus on yourself, reducing stress, and making healthy choices. Don’t delay in your decision to make these positive changes – you could save your own life doing so.

3 R’s: Rest, Recovery, Refueling

Are you thinking, “I wanna get fast. I wanna get fit. I wanna get strong.”?  You start training day-in and day-out. Whatever your training method is, you hit it hard. You work and work and work but you never see the results you want. One of the biggest contributing factors to this is you are not resting, recovering and/or refueling well enough.

Rest is essential to gaining strength and endurance. Your muscular, nervous, and endocrine (hormonal) systems need the time to recharge their batteries, and rest is the best way to do that. Your muscles only rebuild and get stronger on your rest days. It takes 24-48 hours for our muscles to repair themselves. Our nervous system can get fatigued by over training. Only when we rest does our nervous system have a chance to “reset.” The hormones released during training, like endorphins and cortisol, are needed for a successful training session, but without the proper rest and relaxation, these hormones continue to be released, never allowing the body to return to homeostasis. Rest can consist of taking a day off from training, sleeping, or just a low impact day like taking the dog for a walk.

Recovery is often related to rest, but looks a little different. Here, we want to do the proper things to recover the muscles (and our mind) from out training sessions. Most of the time, this means stretching, doing tissue work such as self-myofacial release with a lacrosse ball or PVC pipe, or getting a massage. We always hear that you shouldn’t just lift heavy, train hard, and then go about your business. This is very true. Your body needs some “down time” before going back to your every day business. Try spending 5-10 minutes post-workout stretching, lying in “corpse pose” (flat on your back, arms by your side, palms up, heels touching but feet relaxed), or schedule a regular massage session with a therapist who knows your sport. The body needs recovery to prevent getting overly sore, tight or immobile.

Refueling… I can’t tell you how many times people fail to do this right. After a workout, our bodies are craving protein to rebuild muscles, and quick! Refueling with a small amount of clean food within 30 minutes of finishing your workout will do wonders for your training gains. We are talking primal here so when we talk about refueling post-workout we typically aren’t talking a protein shake with lots of milk or whey, and definitely not soy. The best source of refueling you can find is a great mix of lean, clean meat (turkey, roast beef, burger patty etc.) and a small amount of sweet potatoes. Mixing the sweet potatoes with a little bit of unsweetened applesauce is super yummy. There are some cases where no fuel post-workout can be considered but start with this first and see how you feel.

If you are looking for some gains in your training, especially if you have hit a plateau, remember the 3 R’s and you will see progress faster than you imagine. Rest, Recovery, and Refueling are essential pieces to proper training methods and achieving your fitness goals.

New Year Goals

2012

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back to work, school, life… and most likely your diet, too.

We have some exciting news: more people have downloaded our Free Paleo Meal Plan in the first few days of this year than ever before! What this tells us is that a lot of people are including dietary changes in their New Year Resolutions. How great!

It’s a new year and the perfect time decide for yourself what you want to include in your health goals for 2012. You have 360 more days in the year to make your goals become reality, and we are here to help you do so.

Some of our own New Year Resolutions are to post valuable content more frequently, improve our meal plan, and provide personalized support when needed. Because of these goals, don’t be surprised if there are updates and improvements to the site, as well as what we offer you!

Let’s start off the year right by asking you right now, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP YOU REACH YOUR HEALTH GOALS?

Let us know by commenting on this blog post, or sending us an email using the Contact form on the left of your screen.

Best of luck to all of your Primal Healthy Fitters, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sam’s Results from the Paleo Challenge

Sam recently finished his 30 Day Paleo Challenge, and we got to interview him again about the last two weeks of the challenge and his overall results. You can also read our post on Sam’s Progress after Two Weeks of Paleo.

Sam Pointing At You!During our last interview with Sam, he told us he had lost 10 pounds during the first 2 weeks of his paleo challenge. He has sleeping better, had more energy, and no longer had gastrointestinal problems. What progress!

Now that he has finished his challenge, we asked him a few more questions to get a better understanding of his experience with paleo and his intentions for the future.

Were the last two weeks of the challenge easier for you?

Actually, they were harder. I fought more with cravings during the last two weeks of my challenge than in the beginning. I wanted pizza and beer all the time, plus I had a horrible sweet tooth. And believe it or not, this didn’t seem to have much to do with Thanksgiving happening during that time, either. We hired a new baker in the restaurant where I work, and the SMELLS from his baking nearly killed me.

Did you discover any tricks that worked for you and made eating paleo easier?

Whenever I want something sweet, I eat a kiwi. That knocks out my cravings most of the time.

Do you think you can continue with the Paleo Diet? 

YES. Absolutely, because I saw results. There have been a lot of improvements in my overall health and energy, not to mention I lost 16 pounds in a month! I am well on my way to my goal weight of 180 pounds, and I am not stopping now.

What is your plan after this?

I am going to try to eat 100% paleo for 4 days out of the week, most likely in a row. This will give me a sense of accomplishment every week and remind me that it is possible. Then, for the remaining 3 days, I will keep paleo in mind but allow myself some flexibility. I hope this will allow me to have more freedom in my diet while continuing to lose weight and stay on the paleo path, improving my health.

To see all of Sam’s before and after pictures, and read his testimonial, visit the Paleo Testimonials page here.  

 

 

 

 

Beware Cyber Monday!

Happy Cyber Monday, everyone!

Holiday Sale Tag

I must be really out of the loop, because despite being a bargain hunter, I had not heard of this “shopping holiday” until this year. Apparently a recent invention, Cyber Monday is becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Unlike Black Friday, you don’t have to deal with the disasters that usually accompany shopping this time of year because you can do everything from the comfort of your own home!

So what’s the bad part? This “shopping day” is provides one more easy way to rack up holiday debt. If you saved all of your holiday shopping until Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Whatever-Sale-It-Is Thursday, then you will most likely save money this holiday season, and good for you. However, saving money is poor consolation for going over budget.

If you still have people to buy gifts for, go ahead and check out the deals going on online today! But don’t get carried away- if you were planning on spending $20 on your 10-year-old nephew, don’t decide to spend $100 on a Nintendo DS because it’s on sale and you know he will love it. Here’s what I always have to remind myself: the person you are giving that gift to will never know which present they ALMOST got.

Why are we talking about holiday shopping and sales on a health and fitness blog? Because the more wrapped up we get in buying holiday gifts the further over budget we can slide; the further over budget we slide the tighter on money we are in the months to come; the tighter on money we are the more stress we have; the more stress we have the more damage we are causing to our health. The money decisions you are making now are determining your level of stress at the beginning of the new year, and hence determining your health!

On our Stress page, we talk about six main causes of stress and how today’s stressors are very different from the stressors our bodies genetically know how to handle. This holiday shopping topic would fall under the “Material Burdens” category. There is also information on how stress effects your health and how to reduce stress, but what is most important for you to understand TODAY, during the cyber sale of all cyber sales, is that by making smarter purchasing decisions TODAY, you can set yourself up for a new year with less stress, more happiness, and more health.

Our next blog will go more in-depth on holiday debt and ways to avoid it- look for it soon!

Sam’s Progress After 2 Weeks of Paleo

Sam at Work

Sam Jimenez is one of the four subscribers currently doing a 30-Day Paleo Challenge together, and gracious agreed to give us an interview yesterday, at the two-week mark of his challenge. His progress is incredible, and I am so excited to share them with all of you to inspire you to take the step back in time with your diet and try Paleo.

Start weight: 214 lbs

Weight after 2 weeks of Paleo: 204 lbs

Weight lost from 2 weeks of Paleo: 10 lbs

After three days of eating Paleo, Sam noticed he was waking up earlier than normal, without an alarm, and with energy! How many of you would like to sleep better after only three days of a diet change?!

Sam also had gastritis and the beginning of a peptic ulcer before starting Paleo, and says that he has had NO acid reflux, or any stomach pain or cramping since the first week! His frequent burping is also gone.

Sam with Pizza

The occasional cheat is OK!

Sam has not been a Paleo Angel, though. He has had three large cheats (ex: Pizza for dinner), and four small cheats (a couple of beers while watch the Marquez v. Pacquiao fight). This just goes to show you that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to get all that junk out of your system MOST OF THE TIME.

Sam says that he still has cravings, but that they are not as desperate as he thought they would be. He did not remove all of the foods he cannot eat from his house before starting the challenge, so he stares at things like peanut butter (his guilty pleasure), and jelly beans on a daily basis. Despite “not usually having any will power,” Sam has refrained from snacking on these non-Paleo treats… quite a feat!

As for exercise, Sam has done around 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 times a week. We are still talking him into joining Chef Carlos for cross-training in the mornings ;)

The most exciting part is that yesterday his family came to visit him, and noticed that he looked different! Having someone notice a change is one of the most encouraging things that happens during the first few weeks of Paleo, and we are so happy that this happened to Sam so soon, especially from the people he loves most!

We asked Sam if he had any questions for us, and he had a good one:

What happens after the challenge?

We told him that just because the challenge ends doesn’t mean you’re done. It means you get to decide your own commitment level to the diet based on your lifestyle and your goals. However, as Sam’s ideal weight is 180 lbs, we encouraged him to try to stick with maximum two free meals a week. At this level of compliance, he should continue experiencing the same rate of weight loss and other health improvements that he is now, while being able to eat “a normal meal” every few days.

We are so excited to see Sam’s continued progress over the next couple of weeks, and will report back with his final testimonial and results after he completes his 30-Day Paleo Challenge!

Remember, we are a community here, and would love to support each and every one of you through starting Paleo. Feel free to post in the Forum or email us directly using the contact tab on the left of the screen.

Keep up the good work, everyone!

Your Pet’s Primal Diet

Picasso Our CatThose of us with pets understand that these furry friends are part of the family, and that they depend on our care to stay healthy and happy. Why should their dietary needs be any less important than our own?

Our cats and dogs do best with a “primal” diet as well. There are a lot of problems with store bought pet food, the main ones being that they are loaded with grains, and full of unnecessary ingredients and preservatives. You know how happy your cat is when you give him your leftover fish? How about your dog when he gets the scraps from your steak dinner? These are the foods they are MADE to eat, just like us!

I subscribe to Dr. Karen Becker’s “Mercola Healthy Pets” email list and recently received a newsletter titled “What’s Wrong With the New Grain-Free Craze?” and got worried that I was about to read an anti-paleo email. The article I found was actually in support of feeding your pets a primal diet, and that “there’s no way kibble can be an alternative to raw food.”  The main problem with “kibble”, she says, is with the lack of moisture content and low quality protein sources. She sums up her recommendations with this: “A species-appropriate diet for carnivores means it’s grain-free – no corn, wheat, rice, millet, or oatmeal. It is maintained in its biologically correct form – raw, whole, unadulterated, un-denatured meat. It contains all the moisture needed for your pet’s body to process the food with very little metabolic stress. My first recommendation is to feed a raw-food diet. It’s grain-free, moisture rich, living, and of course, it’s fresh.”

This will be more expensive than feeding your pets processed kibble, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. You can buy a lower quality cut of meat, and the chances are they will eat less on their new raw diet than they did of their grain-filled, processed kibble. Most importantly, your pet will be happier, healthier, and leaner than on a processed diet!

 

If you are interested in reading more from Dr. Becker’s article, you can click this link to either watch the video or read the online transcript.

The Carb Question for Athletes

Austin Marathon

I just registered for the 2012 Austin Marathon, which is in about 3.5 months. I am very excited about the race, but this will be my first marathon eating paleo. As I was running this morning, I began thinking about how athletes typically eat before a big event, and I got worried. There’s always a big dinner party the night before for all of the athletes, and guess what they serve? PASTA. What do I eat the night before my race if I don’t eat grains like everyone else? Do I need to just “cheat” so I can “get the carbs I need before the big race”? I KNOW that will make me feel terrible… All of these questions sent me looking for information about paleo for athletes.

I found two pretty good sources: One source says that you can get enough carbs from veggies and fruits (including the starchy tubers we are typically advised to avoid). Eating the starchy tubers is only OK because of the intense physical activity to come, otherwise they’re big trouble. The other source likewise recommends you get your carbs from fruits and veggies, with the added comment that the time to eat “nonoptimal foods” like bread and pasta, is after a hard workout. This loophole to eat grains completely contradicts paleo (and I found it on a site focusing on paleo for athletes). Plus, it tells me to eat grains at the opposite time I used to (after the race as opposed to before the race). In addition, The Paleo Diet for Athletes discusses the possibility that “carbing up” may not be as good for us as we have been taught. So, I’m confused… and I’m the kind of person that has to see it to believe it.

It looks like I am going to have to experiment myself and figure out what works for me over the next few months. My plan is to try something slightly different for both pre- and post-activity each time I go for a long run (over 10 miles). I am going to keep notes on how I fee during and after my runs, and post more blogs with what I find works for me. Hopefully I can get a solid before and after meal by the time February 19th comes around, and help other paleo athletes in the process. Feel free to comment with your own experiences or questions.

Here are the two websites I found so you can check them out yourself:

Paleo Diet Carbs by BalancedBites.com

Quick Guide to The Paleo Diet for Athletes by TrainingPeaks.com

Damage from the Hurricane

Photo credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski at www.12frames.eu

If you have been watching the weather channel at all in the last two days you know that at one point Hurricane Rina was predicted to hit the Yucatan Peninsula at her strongest point. We are operated out of that area, so the last few days have been pretty crazy. Resorts and restaurants shut down and moved all of their equipment into safe storage. People put their storm shutters up or simply nailed plywood to the outside of their windows for protection. Everyone was getting very excited, and last-minute supplies were purchased for the day we expected to be stuck inside.

Well, Hurricane Rina turned into Tropical Storm Rina, and by the time she finally reached us, was no more than a lot of wind and some rain. Not having to deal with a hurricane was such a blessing, and saved all of the businesses here thousands of dollars each in damages. From what I can see, Rina caused no damage here to physical property. However, the storm did cause damage of another sort.

In preparation for the hurricane, I went to the store and bought supplies I needed like candles and matches. I also bought things I very much did not need, like Kraft Mac & Cheese (my #1 comfort food), Oreos, and Dos Equis. Why did I do this? Good question. I supposed I felt like this unusual circumstance (a hurricane) justified unusual action. Is it normal for me to buy candles and matches just in case my power dies on a normal evening? No. Is it normal for me to park myself in front of my TV and watch Pirates of the Caribbean until the power died? Ok, bad example… Is it normal for me to have Mac & Cheese and beer for dinner, followed by Oreos for dessert? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Facing an unusual situation, I made excuses to justify a bad dietary decision. I literally hurt my body by eating those things, especially in such excess. In the last blog I mentioned that I think it’s OK to cheat now and again. One thing I want to clarify though is that the danger of cheating is not necessarily a halt in your weight loss, although that is a result. The danger is that you are damaging your body, preventing it from functioning properly, and making it sick.

Unusual and uncomfortable circumstances often arise in our lives. If we use every instance of this as an excuse to “eat comfortably” and forget the importance of what we put in our body, we will be forever broken. So don’t do what I did when you face a hurricane (whether that means a big test, a stressful deadline at work, relationship problems, or any other situation that tests your resolve). Put things in your body that make you healthy and strong. That way, even in unusual or uncommon circumstances, you have the power to carry yourself through them.

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