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For the Love of Food: Whole Foods Salmon Burger with Eggplant and Broccoli Stir Fry

Posted on by Alycia

No meat or fish in your fridge? Running low on time? What to do?!

We suggest stopping on your way home at your local supermarket for the next best thing. When you run out of all the local, grassfed, raised right meats and fish, or when you are on your way home to a hungry family and you have no time to cook, the next best alternative is usually found in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods or Wegmans.

We found these great salmon burgers at Whole Foods that have only a few ingredients: salmon, spinach, pine nuts and feta cheese. Unlike crabcakes, these babies are free of fillers, breadcrumbs, or any other necessary ingredients.

We cooked them on the stove, flipping after a few minutes and serving right away.

Also on the stove, we steamed some strips of eggplant and florets of broccoli. We didn’t even bother to use the steamer – we just cooked them in a shallow pan with some water and a lid, until they were soft. Then, we drained the water, added a little olive oil, and sprinkled on some Italian spices ( thyme, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper) and cooked for an additional 3 minutes.

We ate the salmon and the side dish with a half of an avocado, which melted onto the salmon burgers really nicely.

Not bad, for a quick meal from the store!

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For the Love of Food: Grilled Free Range Chicken, Salad and Eggplant

Posted on by Alycia

This one’s super-simple to prepare, although it does require a few extra pre-cooking steps.  First, head to Reading Terminal Market, or anywhere else that sells free range, locally grown chicken parts ( thighs, breasts, legs). The ones that we used in this recipe were only $2/lb at Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

(NOTE: An in depth look into all of those buzzwords you here these days, like “free range”, “grassfed”, will be in an upcoming post)

Marinate a bunch of chicken overnight in a plastic bag in the fridge with Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing if you’re strapped for time, or make your own dressing with 1-2 T each of Italian spices (oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper) with 2/3  cup of olive oil and a few teaspoons of vinegar ( white or balsamic. keep adding and testing, until you get the amount you like). Save the leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge.   The Newman’s Own version is one of the best store-bought options, but it does include some non-foods in there.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so marinate that overnight. The next night, remove from the fridge and fire up the grill.  While the grill is heating up….

Rinse and chop up some baby spinach and/or arugula and pat dry. Chop up a bunch of salad toppings (red onion, red peppers, baby bella mushrooms,  broccoli, cucumber, or whatever you want!). Combine the greens with the toppings, and add some sundried tomatoes on top, or a little of that Italian dressing that you made the other day ( no, not the stuff that’s at the bottom of the chicken bag). Toss and set aside.

Put the chicken on the grill on a low temperature. Continually check it and flip it. Some good tips are not to let it catch on fire, and to cook it all the way through  :) . For more grilling tips that are specific to the type of grill you have, use Google.

During the first 5 minutes of the chicken on the grill, turn on the oven to 375. ( or, you can skip this part and just use the grill for double duty, if there is room on it).

Slice a purple Italian eggplant into rounds, season with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Lay the pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 min, flip the pieces, then cook for another 15 minutes or so. OR, put them on the grill with the chicken, and flip occasionally. Cook until the edges start to get a little crispy and the middle is really soft.

While the eggplant is cooking, continue to flip the chicken every 5 minutes. The chicken should be done cooking after about 20-25 minutes on the grill. The skin should be crispy and golden brown.

Start with the salad, continue to check on the eggplant in the oven, and when it’s done, enjoy the meal!

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For the Love of Food: Whole chicken on the grill with roasted asparagus and mushrooms

Posted on by Alycia

Chicken is a great source of protein, it’s mild enough for picky eaters, it’s easy to tell when it’s done, and there are a ton of recipes for it. The problem with chicken, though, is that it’s pretty boring and it often dries out if you saute or bake it.

Thankfully, I found a great new recipe for chicken that’s flavorful, juicy, and looks like a leaping frog! I first heard about the recipe when I heard an interview on NPR radio with Maricel Presilla, a food historian ( best job EVER?), who discovered the recipe in Argentina. The recipe is listed here at Gourmet.com.  Since the recipe isn’t one of our originals, I refrained from posting it here, but I did include a helpful tutorial about preparing the chicken for the grill ( also from Gourmet.com) , and some photos from our experience.

“(1) With the drumsticks of the chicken facing you, cut between the body and one drumstick, leaving the drumstick attached. (2) Widen the area around the thigh joint and bend the leg back until it pops out of joint but still remains attached. It’s not difficult to do; it’s actually a matter of feel. You’ll see, the next drumstick will go much faster. (3) Exchange your knife for kitchen or poultry shears. Lifting up the breast, cut through the ribs all the way to the shoulder joint, first on one side, then on the other. Now the bird is essentially in two pieces that are hinged at the shoulders. Turning over the chicken so that it is skin side up, open it so that it’s splayed out on the work surface. (4) With the heel of one hand, press down hard on the breastbone to crack and flatten it. (5) Stand back and admire your work.”

We also roasted some asparagus with mushrooms, black pepper, oregano, olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Combine all ingredients on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes, turning the pieces over at about 8 minutes in.

If you have any questions, or if there is something that you don’t understand from the recipe listed on Gourmet.com, post them below! If you make this recipe, post your thoughts!

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For the Love of Food: Almond Crusted Spicy Pork Chops with a Hot Salad

Posted on by Alycia

Some people, when given a plate full of salad topped with chicken, will say “its not enough. I won’t get full”, or “I don’t like salads”. But if you put a plate of chicken, broccoli, zucchini, squash, cooked spinach, and cauliflower infront of them, they’ll gladly eat it and consider it a meal. Other than containing slightly more variety of vegetables than a salad, the only difference between plate 1 and plate 2 is the temperature and seasonings on the vegetables.

For most people, ‘cooking’ a salad is an easy way to show them that they do, in fact, like vegetables!

On a plate, combine some almond meal (Trader Joe’s has this pretty cheap) with some cayenne pepper, chili powder, cilantro and garlic powder. In a bowl, mix together two eggs. Drag 4 pork chops through the egg, then the almond meal, coating them on all sides.

Cook the pork chops in some olive oil on the stove.  Turn over carefully about halfway through. These were thick, so they took about 12-15 minutes total.

Meanwhile, gather some ingredients that you might put into a salad ( any veggies, really) and chop into small rounds. Rinse and chop a head of green leaf lettuce. I used carrots, zucchini and eggplant, as shown in this picture.

“Roast” some garlic in the microwave by peeling and poking 2 or 3 cloves, setting them on a plate with some olive oil, and putting them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Add them to the sliced veggies and cook in a deep pot, with some coconut oil and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.

Once the veggies have softened, add in the green leaf lettuce.

At this point, your pork should be done.

Put it on a plate and eat it. ( The audible “nom,nom,nom” is optional).

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For the Love of Food: Eat This, Not That.

Posted on by admin

So…we’re your personal trainers. You pay us to make you sweat a lot, lift heavy things, and push your body really hard.  What you DON’T pay us for is our advice and suggestions for a healthy lifestyle outside of the gym. That part we give away for free. ( lucky you!)

Why do we do this? Why don’t we just work you hard and send you home? You sweat a lot while you were here, so that must mean you are getting healthier, right? Kind of. Just about everyone who does CrossFit notices a positive body composition change and an increase in aerobic capacity and strength within the first few months, which is great, but it’s not everything. By only concentrating on what you do in the gym, you’re only reaping some of the benefits of the whole experience.

When you pay close attention to what you are putting into your body, and how your body reacts when that happens, you will be able to tweak your diet to ensure that you will have full nights of sleep, energy all day, and make significant progress in the gym. After all, food is a drug for your body. Food can only hurt or heal your body. And why would you want to hurt your body after you’ve spent your time and money to whip it into shape?

Here are a few guidelines for choosing foods that will help you Feel Good, Look Good, Perform Better and Live Long.

1. Only eat real foods. If you can pick it from the ground or a tree or hunt and cook it, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s a real food.  Examples of real foods are vegetables, herbs, beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil and coconut oil. Edibles that seem like real foods but are NOT are things that require processing before eating, such as grains and legumes (peanuts, beans and things made from beans such as tofu). Also, anything that contains a nutrition label or a list of ingredients isn’t a real food. For example, frozen dinners and pre-made dips and sauces might be made from real foods, but probably also contains some nasty chemicals, fillers and sugars – in which case, you’re better off just making that food at home. Also fruit, nuts and seeds are real foods, but don’t constitute a well-rounded meal. Instead, consider these your real food snacks.

2. If you eat meat, make sure it’s Grassfed and raised on a small farm. Small farms that let their cows and chicken roam free and eat what they are supposed to eat ( grass, seeds, etc)  produce high quality meats that you can feel good about eating.  Plus, if you are choosing not to eat grains, you are shortchanging yourself by choosing meat from factory farms, where the cows are fed grains (ie: you’re just eating grains that have been processed through a cow. yucky.)

3. End your love affair with sugar. We’re talking all added sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, etc. All sugars, even the kinds made from plants, are highly addictive and are out to hurt, not help, your body. Your doctor would never recommend increasing your sugar levels to increase your health. So why do we eat them? Ingesting sugars will raise your blood sugar levels, causing an insulin spike, which signals the body to store away the sugar in your fat cells, rather than using it as energy. The only sugars you should be eating come from fruits, and we recommend to only eat a single serving of fruit per day.

4. No Grains. Ever. At all. We learned from #1 that grains aren’t included in the “real foods” category, but it bears repeating because it’s simple to forget some of the foods that contain grains, such as all breads, cereals, crackers, chips, sandwiches, and anything that contains flour, breading, or the words ‘whole grain’.

Gluten is a protein found in grains that causes some really nasty side effects upon consumption. These sharp little proteins don’t get broken down completely upon digestion, and cause small tears in the lining of the small intestines. This allows nutrients from your intestines to float out into your bloodstream. When this happens, your body doesn’t absorb the nutrients of the food you just ate, and your body recognizes the free floating food particles as foreign bodies, inflammation occurs, and your  body’s  autoimmune response kicks in to help bring things back down to a normal state. Therefore, people who are sensitive to gluten, and even those of us who don’t notice much of a difference either way, are constantly engaging in an internal battle to return your body back to it’s normal state.

Plainly put, our bodies aren’t equipped to digest gluten. More on this here from Whole9, if you’re interested.

5. Beware of dairy. Dairy contains a protein called casein, that acts a lot like gluten and does some pretty bad things to your body. Also, milk contains sugar, which we know is bad for the body. The one exception to this is breast milk, which babies thrive on. Heavy cream and butter from pasture raised cows ( try Kerrygold) contain milk fat, but none of the proteins or sugars that are found in milk, so they are OK in our book, too.

6. Drink Water. And only water. And a lot of it.  It’s the only beverage that will truly quench your thirst without giving you any extra calories or weird chemicals. It should go without saying that all sodas and juices are out, but  sneaky advertising has made many people falsely assume that diet sodas and iced teas are fine, natural, or ‘good for you’. They aren’t. Just stick with water and you’ll start to see differences right away. If you’re attached to the fizz of sodas, try sparkling water. And if you love the sweetness of juices or sweetened iced teas, then squeeze a lemon, lime, watermelon or orange into your water. (Coffee and tea, are also OK in our book. Just don’t overdo it on the caffeine!)

7. Go food shopping often and cook your food every day. Try a new vegetable each week and find a recipe online for how to cook it. Use a slow cooker for meats (they are designed for people who can’t cook or people with limited time). Experiment with new recipes and how to cook and eat meals only using real foods. We have a lot more on the topic of cooking, but for now, we’ll just say -DO IT. It’s surprisingly easy and delicious!

If you’ve gotten this far in the post, you’re might be freaking out a little right now. Maybe you have a ton of questions, of you’re wondering why we recommend you eat this way,  you don’t think this applies to you, or you think it will be impossible to stick to.  Well, the good news is that you don’t have to make the big switch over to this style of eating all in one step.

Over the next few months, we’ll be posting “Baby Steps” to help you through the transition from what you’re eating now, to what your body actually wants.  We’ll explore unhealthy relationships with food, and explain the thinking behind this way of eating.  Finally, we’ll discuss ailments (everything from acne to bloating) and how they can be remedied by eating the right foods.

Now that’s you’ve seen our general diet suggestions, take a moment to read everything over again, absorb the information, and formulate your questions. Post them to the Comments, or email Alycia@crossfitaspire.com for some one-on-one Q&A.

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