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Whole 30 Week 1 Recap

Mahi Mahi, green beans, sweet potato

I started doing the #JanuaryWhole30 because I wanted to kickstart my healthy lifestyle right from the beginning this year.  2016 is ALL ABOUT ME.  Last year was supposed to be that way but I got derailed and let things slide. I didn’t really fall off the wagon but I wasn’t being as proactive as I should have been.

This year is going to be different.  I’ve started Crossfit, which I adore.  And along with that it was time to really dial in my nutrition and get on the right track for all the performance goals I have this year.  We eat pretty well but it could be better.  Whole 30 was a way to put the goal into motion.

I’ve been doing strict Whole 30 for a little over a week now.  This is my first official Whole 30 so I’m following the rules to a T. There are things I thought would be challenging and things that I thought would be easy.  So far, my perceptions were way off.

Black Coffee

Normally I take my coffee with a splash of vanilla almond milk.  I thought that switching to black coffee with a little coconut oil would be difficult.  I even thought that I might have to give up coffee for a month.  This was a breeze. I probably won’t even go back to creamer in my coffee after this.  After a week of having coconut oil blended with my coffee, I can now just have my coffee straight up black.  This is HUGE for me.

No Added Sugar

This is HARD. I’m not a sugar junkie and don’t have issues with sugar in items. I don’t even have a sweet tooth. However sugar is in everything! Finding compliant items like sausages is very challenging. Even breakfast sausage has added sugar.  And you can’t add natural sugars to items so no honey in salad dressings.  This would be the part that I find more frustrating. I really miss breakfast sausage. Boo.

Energy and Sleep

Right now I feel amazing. I don’t know if I would consider this the Tiger Blood mode because I’m still pretty tired and worn out come 4pm.  However, I think that’s because of Crossfit and not diet.  Crossfit just wears me out but in a good way.  I’m tired from working hard not because of diet.

Sleep has been amazing! Night time anxiety has gone way down and I’m able to fall asleep a lot easier when I wake up during the night.

Doing the Whole 30 has finally got me into meal planning and prepping habit.  I’ve tried to do a little before but never really embraced it.  Now, on Sundays I prep a bunch of foods for the week and have my meals planned out. This makes life so much easier, and saves so much time during the week.  Especially in the mornings when I can just reheat stuff for breakfast.

I’m not doing this for weightloss but if that is one of the results, I’m not going to complain.  I have already lost a lot of bloat and a few inches which I’m basing on the way I feel and how my clothes fit, not because I weighted or measured myself.  Saving that for the end of the challenge!

So far I’m happy to have started this challenge and am looking forward to seeing how I feel at the end.

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Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

This smoked salmon and blue cheese ball is full of bold flavors and pairs perfectly with the 2013 Cultivar Oak Knoll Chardonnay that I received as part of their Cultivar Wine Bloggers.

Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

 

During the holidays when I was a kid, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was the cheese ball and salmon ball that my mom made as part of the holiday table.  We only had it once a year and it was glorious.  I liked the cheese ball a lot but the salmon ball was my jam.  It was the only time I enjoyed eating salmon (I’m a grown adult now so things have clearly changed) and I lived for that salmon ball.

My mom was a proper 1960s-70s housewife so of course we had cheese ball when entertaining.  Sometimes jello molds as well but we don’t talk about those.

The cheese ball has died away and I’m not sure why.  Oh sure you may see some store bought concoction with it’s bright orange color and dotted with almonds sitting all alone on a table at a random gathering, but a cheese ball that someone made that’s actually delicious is no where to be found.

I decided to change that this year and created a dressed up version of the salmon ball my mom used to make.  This makes a lot which is perfect if you’re hosting a party or bringing a dish to one.  You can easily cut this recipe in half to create a smaller ball for smaller gatherings.

I used smoked salmon and blue cheese and paired this with 2013 Cultivar Wine Oak Knoll Chardonnay.  The butteriness of this wine balances out the sharp smoke of the salmon and brings out it’s briny bite.  The crisp citrus notes help tone down the blue cheese and helps cut through the creaminess of the spread.

This dish is great for entertaining or just to have as a snack while you binge some Netflix. No judgment here.

Andrea’s Smoked Salmon and Blue Cheese Ball

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 C Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • 6 oz Smoked Salmon* (see note at bottom)
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped, both white and green parts
  • 1 TBSP Prepared Horseradish
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 TBSP Dried Dill
  • Sliced almonds for garnish
  • Dried cranberries for garnish

Add all ingredients except salmon and green onions, to a food processor and process until smooth.  Remove mixture from processor and add to a bowl.  Add in the salmon and green onion, mix till everything is combined.

Place mixture on some plastic wrap and shape into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge.  Allow to set up for at least 4 hours before serving.  Best if made the day before.

Carefully remove from wrap and place on a plate.  Stud with sliced almonds and dried cranberries.  Serve with crackers and veggies.  Keeps for 4 days.

*The smoked salmon I used is from the Honey Smoked Fish Company so it’s not the typical thinly sliced looks almost raw smoked salmon that you’re probably used to seeing.  I personally love this kind of smoked salmon and eat it all the time.  If you can’t find this style of smoked salmon you can certainly try using the other version.  You’ll want to chop that up before adding it to the mixture.  I can’t guarantee the outcome though since I haven’t tested that out.

Dried cranberries are a great addition to this recipe so I recommended being generous when adding them at the end.  That punch of sweetness is a lovely pairing with the blue cheese.

If you’re interested in trying out Cultivar Wine, as a reader of Food Embrace, you will be given 10% off your order.  Use the code, FoodEmbrace at checkout.

Disclaimer: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product or experience. All opinions and recipes presented are my own.

 

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On Starting Crossfit

Crossfit

If you follow me on Instagram, then you have probably seen that I’ve started doing Crossfit.  I needed a change up.  Running was OK but I was still having some hip issues that were frustrating.  I was stuck at 2 miles because of it.

I’m also pursuing a big career change, one that is more manual labor focused.  You would think these would be unrelated but they are not.  New career would require me to carry and lift 50lbs at a time along with other heavy labor stuffs.  I want to be able to do this on my own without asking for help.  I also want to be stronger so I can handle my job safely as possible.

I have tried Crossfit before and had a really bad experience with it.  I lasted about a month and then wiped my hands clean of the whole situation.  I vowed to never do Crossfit again.

Never say never, is the big life lesson that I learned this year.  Sounds cliche as hell but it’s true.

On paper Crossfit is exactly what I am looking for in a workout.  Varied workouts each session, strength training, and something that is going to kick my butt.  Workouts that are scalable to all levels.  This was not my experience the first time I tried it out but that was three years ago.

I have come to realize that not all gyms are the same, each is going to have it’s own dynamic and community.  Because of this new mindset and determination, I set out to find a gym that fits me and my needs.

Fort Collins is not lacking in Crossfit gyms, that’s for sure.  I checked out gyms that are close to where I live because that plays a big factor in motivation.  I’m not going to go to a gym that’s 1/2 an hour away, I have no desire to spend that much time in the car just to workout. Plus that is a huge demotivator (yup, I’m using this word). If it’s snowy or pouring rain, who wants to drive 1/2 an hour to work out? No one.

I found some gyms that were just like the one I tried before.  I had some gyms that didn’t even respond to emails.  Those were immediately crossed off the list.  Then I found MY gym.  And man do I love this gym.  Ask Scott, because I tell him every time I come back from working out how much I love my gym.

It is everything that I was looking for in a Crossfit gym. The workouts are different each time and the coach is great at making sure that they are scaled to each athlete’s level. I look forward to working out and leave each session with the desire to get better the next time I workout.

Oh, so this is what loving Crossfit is like.  Now I get it.

I will also be starting a Whole 30 on January 1st.  Joining Crossfit and doing a Whole 30 are related in an unrelated way.  I’m not doing the Whole 30 because of Crossfit.  I’m doing it because I want to kickstart my new fitness and health journey this year from the beginning.  I want to start clean and eat well because then I preform better in the gym.  This is my year to get fit and strong, Andrea 2.0, now with muscles is my goal for this year.  I don’t want to just lose weight and be fit, but I want to be STRONG.

If you want to kickstart your health in 2016 and are interested in joining my Whole 30 group, just let me know and I’ll add you in! The group is free and there’s a bunch of us starting on the 1st.

Here’s to a new year and starting things off with a bang!

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Bourbon Barrel Maple Vanilla Scones

Bourbon Barrel Maple Vanilla Scones

I was recently contacted by Kite Hill to review their almond milk based yogurts. They are the only company that I’ve come across that makes almond milk based products and I have been wanting to try them out for quite some time.  This gave me the perfect reason to finally dive in!

I know a lot of people who are dairy free for a number of reasons and these products seemed like a nice alternative to dairy based cheeses and yogurts.

I admit that I did go in with some hesitation.  I’ve tried non-dairy yogurts in the past and it hasn’t gone well.  The texture was off and the flavor was a little astringent with a fake sweetness to it.  I put my previous experience aside and went in with optimism.

Kite Hill sent me all of their flavors:

  • Plain
  • Vanilla
  • Blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • Peach

The strawberry I gave to Scott since I’m allergic but all of the other flavors I was able to test out.  I tried it as I normally eat yogurt, by making a yogurt bowl for breakfast.

I have to say this yogurt is pretty spectacular for a dairy free yogurt.  It is a little on the thinner side texture-wise but not by much. It’s creamy and rich with tons of fruit flavor.  It is lightly sweetened and if I had to give a critique, it would be to lessen the sweetness just a tad.

Kite Hill’s yogurts are hands-down the best non-dairy yogurts that I have tried.  These are perfect for those that are avoiding dairy or are looking for an alternative.  Plus there’s no soy in these products either which is a lovely added bonus!

I wanted to see how well these yogurts would work with baking so I decided to make some sweet scones with the vanilla yogurt. These scones are dairy-free, egg-free, grain-free, and vegan.

I win blogger bingo for that!

I also used bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in the recipe.  (drops mic)

Andrea’s Bourbon Barrel Maple Vanilla Scones

  • 2.5 C Almond Flour
  • 1/2 C Tapicoa Flour
  • 1/4 C Coconut Flour
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 TBSP Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup* (see note at bottom)
  • 5 oz Kite Hill  Vanilla Yogurt
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 C Powdered Sugar
  • 4 TBSP Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (If you live at sea level, reduce heat to 375) and line a baking sheet with either parchment or silicone.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the scones and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Sprinkle the counter with a little extra coconut flour and place the dough on top.  Shape dough into a square about 1/2 an inch in thickness.  Cut dough into 8 triangles and place those on the baking sheet.

Place in oven and bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool before adding the glaze.  For the glaze, mix the sugar with the syrup and spread over scones.  This is a thicker glaze, if you want a thinner glaze add more syrup or a splash of almond milk to the mix.

*I purchased the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup at Trader Joe’s.  If you can’t find any or don’t want to use that, regular maple syrup will work just fine.

These scones are great as a breakfast treat or a little nighttime snack.  If you want to freeze them, then do not glaze them until you are ready to serve.

The yogurt did great in these scones providing a nice little sweetness along with enough acid to kickstart the baking soda.  It also provided enough moisture that I didn’t need to add any eggs to the mix.

Kite Hill yogurts are great straight up or you can use them in recipes in place of dairy yogurt.  I believe that currently these are only available at Whole Foods so you’ll have to swing by your local store to check them out.  Definitely try their products to see what you think!

Disclaimer: Kite Hill sent me these products for review.  All opinions are my own and I was not further compensated for this post.

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Planning For Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving dinner

I’m currently planning out our Thanksgiving feast and creating my shopping list.  Both Scott and I have work commitments the week of the official holiday so we’ll be celebrating a little early this year.

Of course there’s the basics like turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes that we always have, but I want to try a few new dishes as well.  Things we haven’t had for a while that I’m going to recreate in a more healthy and primal way.

The above picture was taken several years ago (and yes Off Her Cork was an old site of mine) and features items we don’t have at the Thanksgiving table now.

No rolls, while delightful we have found we’d rather eat more food than bread.  That means stuffing is out as well. Sweet potatoes are saved for dessert in the form of pie.  There’s always fresh whipped cream to go with it!

This year I’m hoping to create a more primal inspired Thanksgiving dinner. Alcohol, while not primal at all, will be around.  It’s the holidays and that makes for a great time to experiment with cocktails and recipes!

Our holidays are always laid back.  The table and presentation might look fancy, but I assure you we are sitting down to dinner in our PJs.  Comfort is most important here at the HQ!

I’ll be sharing more about our holiday later and what was on the table.  So tell me, what is your favorite dish for Thanksgiving?