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Week 1: Spring 2012 30-Day Real Food Challenge

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Welcome to Week 1 of the 30 Day Real Food Challenge!

My email inbox is empty, which means that hopefully all of you have completed your food shopping for the week, and have a pretty good idea of what constitutes a ‘real food’.

The goal for this first week is to get some new habits in place. The day doesn’t start with a bowl of cereal. There are no drive thru stops, or convenience store raids. This week, you’ll start to cook some awesome meals and you’ll learn how to make enough so that you are NEVER LEFT WITHOUT FOOD. That’s really, really important! Seriously. Never leave the house without bringing food.

Please use the COMMENTS section of this blog post to talk about what you’ve purchased/cooked/eaten this week. The more the merrier, as your meals will help others to think outside the box and cook something new as well.

PICTURES: A recurring segment during the 30 days will be “A Day in the Life Of <insert your name here>”. This will be a photo montage of the food that one of our members ate over the course of an entire day.This is a great way to see what real people eat on a typical day.

We’re looking to include a variety of people – those who cook all of their own food, those who  eat the same thing for all of their meals, those who are gourmet foodies, those who live alone, those who have a lunch meeting/dinner party that they have to navigate, etc. If anyone shoots you a weird look for taking pics of your food, just start talking to your food. They will probably leave you alone after that :)

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email your photos to alycia@crossfitaspire.

WHEN TO SUBMIT: As soon as possible, and whenever you think of it throughout the challenge. If you’re reading this before you’ve eaten breakfast, then today would be a good day to submit some pics. Remember to include your ENTIRE DAY’s WORTH OF FOOD.


Here are a few things that you might want to talk about.

1. The ‘best buy’ (ie: cheapest) for certain ingredients. Where/when to get the highest quality for the lowest price.

2. ‘First Week Fog.‘ This is the lethargic, moody, can’t-lift-weights-for-sh*t state that most sugar addicts find themselves in during week 1. If you have done a challenge before, give our new people some tips or some sympathy notes!

3. Your favorite Crock Pot recipes.

4. The best omelette you’ve ever eaten.

5. Some examples of real food ‘snack foods’.

Happy shopping, eating and talking!

PS - Steve wrote another blog post for all of you newbies. Go over there and check it out!

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111 Responses to Week 1: Spring 2012 30-Day Real Food Challenge

  1. Alycia says:

    I’m making a Chinese BBQ pork roast in the oven now (from Well Fed). It calls for Coconut Aminos as a substitute for soy sauce. First time using them. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

    Best Omelette – 3 eggs, 2-3oz of smoked salmon and half of an avocado. Keeps me full for a while. Add bacon, and it gets even BETTER.

    Real Food Snacks – Hardboiled eggs, Jerky, Trader Joe’s toasted slivered almonds with some blueberries.

  2. Steve says:

    Woman at Whole Foods tonight, to me: “Wow, I am glad I got to the coconut milk for my *one can* before you bought your… What are you going to do with 12 cans of coconut milk?” Me: “Um, we use a lot of it. These will be gone by the weekend.” Based on her puzzled expression, I don’t think she understands….

  3. Jon says:

    Coconut Milk question: last few cans I’ve opened have been essentially solid (solid at the top, liquid underneath). Should I simply heat in a sauce pan till liquid and store?

    Two more important questions:

    1) Could whoever posted the paleo chocolate chip recipe a few months ago on Facebook post it again? I’m going to need a treat like that at some point… ;)

    2) Could we have the recipe for the cauliflower thing that was served at the seminar yesterday?

    Made a really good meatloaf tonight (http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/entrees/beef/fire-roasted-bacon-meatloaf/) and preparing bone broth in the crock pot….

  4. Brianna says:

    Cooked a huge chuck roast in the crock pot with coconut milk and curry paste, that will last me a while.

    Went to 7th heaven farm yesterday and got 2 dozen free range eggs, a whole chicken and some pork chops!

    Favorite Omelette: 2-3 eggs, spinach or kale, peppers, salsa (cooked in bacon fat!) Bacon along with it!

    I like to keep canned wild salmon from trader joes on hand and eat it with some tomatoes, cucumbers with oil and vinegar as a snack if needed. Also, hard boiled eggs and avocados.

  5. Shamus says:

    Jon, coconut milk becomes fully liquid at 97 degrees. You probably don’t need to heat it on the stove, although that will work. Just shove the can down your pants for a while and you’ll be good to go.

  6. Shamus says:

    Now to answer some of the questions Alycia posed.

    My favorite crock pot recipe is fairly simple. I cover a roast with spices and toss it in. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Shamong Red (or your personal favorite red wine, you can substitute Worcestershire sauce if you like) and set to cook. Take it out a bit early – 7.5 hours on low or 3.75 hours on high is best, I think. Let it cool completely before cutting it into meal-sized chunks.

    My favorite omlette uses at least 6 eggs with generous piles of sausage and vegetables. Of course, given the size of the finished result, it’s usually better to scramble it rather than risk overcooking an omlette.

    Snack foods have slowly vanished from my diet. At first I would have nuts or fruit. As time went on, I found it was better to just eat larger meals with more fat. Doing so kept me full longer. In addition, it actually made it easier to work out since I didn’t have to worry about a full stomach or the resulting insulin release at workout time.

  7. Alycia says:

    Jon, I’m sure that those cookies had sweeteners in them ( agave, I believe), but feel free to poke around for other types of whole food desserts. I’d stay away from baking if I were you, and just try to eat things like berries/nuts/coconut milk/cinnamon mixtures. Try to get the bulk of your ‘treats’ from a small amount of fruit + fat for now. Try baking sliced apples or pears and eat them warm with some sunflower butter (from Trader Joes) spread on top. mmmm.

    Julie made the cauliflower, so I’ll let her give a recipe. But there are good cauliflower mash/rice recipes in Everyday Paleo and Paleo Comfort Foods.

    If you are only using 1/2 of the can of coconut milk at a time, then just try to use some liquid and some solid, and then cover with foil and store it in the fridge until you need the rest. If you are using the whole can, then just dump it into the pan and heat it up!

  8. Alycia says:

    Shamus made a really good point (about fat, not about what’s in Jon’s pants. hehe.). If you eat a lot more FAT with each meal, you’ll be surprised at how long it takes you to feel hungry again. Dial UP fat and you’ll barely need snacks.

  9. Steve says:

    Jon, the stovetop heating method was preferred by cave people in the Eastern US, but Shamus accurately describes the legendary “pants,” or, more accurately, “loincloth” method of warming the coconut milk cans that was used in both the western US and by the Inuit. It’s your choice. You could also use the method of my people, The Lazy, who generally just stir it up with a spoon.

  10. Steve says:

    Oh and I guess it is time for what must be the 300th appearance of the World’s Easiest Crockpot Meat Recipe. Brianna just used it. You should too. Anything that makes yr life simultaneously easier and more delicious is a no-brainer. http://www.thepaleodrummer.com/2011/10/world-easiest-meat-recipe-aka-no.html

  11. Jamie says:

    Jon, I usually just shake the can of coconut milk before I open it and then mash up any chunks with a spoon. I’m not eating eggs, so my favorite breakfast is four slices of black forest bacon, a whole avocado and a leftover grassed hamburger (or other leftover meat) and some spinach with decaf coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon in it.

  12. Jon Walka says:

    Bulk Cook for the week:

    Chili with Pork and Ground Sirloin
    3 lbs. Brisket with Ancho/Coffee Rub
    4 lbs. Chili-Lime Pulled Chicken

    I didn’t do any vegetables yet but those can be steamed quickly. I have a lot of meat to last me the week.

  13. Shamus says:

    As an additional note regarding cans of coconut milk: unless you’re like Steve and use six to eight cans a day, you can flip the cans on the shelf every day or two. I’ve found that doing so reduces the amount of solid matter at the top. They will still need to be warmed, stirred or pantsed before use, but the separation isn’t as drastic. Again, this only really helps if you plan to let them sit on your shelf for a couple of weeks, and especially if you use less than a whole can at once.

  14. Alycia says:

    This Crock Pot Ropa Vieja w/ cuban rice looks amazing! I’ll definitely be making this sometime soon.

    • Liz Levinson says:

      Alycia- Saw u post this recipe- Had some pork in the crockpot and didnt know what to do with it- Sautéed the veggies and spices. Added the pork- Awesome! Even my kids (who are not doing the challenge) loved it! Prob better With the “rice” – will try next time. Thanks for posting!

  15. Peggy says:

    While shopping at Whole Paycheck (Foods), a question arose – is “Pasture Raised” the same as “Grass Fed”?

  16. Lisa D says:

    Made Chicken Tikki Masala from Marks Daily Apple. It is awesome and makes a huge batch!

  17. Jamie says:

    It depends on the farm and the animal. Pasture-raised could mean that an animal such as a pig was given access to a pasture and fed some supplement feed. It could also mean that an animal such as a beef cow was raised by a farmer on pasture but then sent to a feedlot and ate grain for finishing. Wegman’s and Whole Foods both carry grass-fed beef. I’ve never seen grass-fed pork in a commercial store. The only place I know of to buy it is Cherry Grove Farms, in Lawrenceville, near Trenton: http://www.cherrygrovefarm.com/. The meat they sell is GREAT. Plus, they’re super cool people and Steve says their raw milk cheese (for after the challenge) is to die for. :D

  18. Jon says:

    Just made breakfast. Today was literally the first time I ever made real bacon (i.e. not something you thrown in the microwave). Three strips that came out crispy – black and crispy ;) Need to work my technique some…

    I then made my eggs in the left over bacon fat. Yum! But that brings up a question: the eggs came out great but there was quite a bit of fat in the pan when I poured in the eggs. Seemed like I could actually save some and maybe use it later. Is that done?

  19. Jamie says:

    Definitely!! We pour any bacon fat from the pan into a coffee cup and keep it in the fridge for cooking veggies and other meats. You can just keep topping it off. :D

  20. Cathy says:

    We had a birthday in my office today, and our normal birthday celebration is breakfast – mainly because no one can wait past breakfast time to eat whatever we are celebrating with.
    Since I knew that this would be Day 1 of the challenge, I volunteered to provide the whole meal, so that I would know that I could eat it.
    I made a tomato, spinach, and broccoli frittata, a pepper and onion frittata, fresh fruit, and lots of bacon. It was a huge hit, and no one even seemed to notice that there were no bagels!

  21. Alycia says:

    Jon – cook it low and slow….on low heat for a while, turning only about 4 times total.
    It might take 15+ min to cook ( if you are using the thick cut stuff from the whole foods deli counter) but its well worth the wait.
    And as you are cooking it, drain out some of the fat into a little pyrex dish that you’ll keep near the store (or in the fridge, if you prefer) to use as cooking fat for other dishes.

    Peggy – the USDA doesn’t define “pastured”. It just means that the animal has constant access to the outdoors, but doesn’t necessarily say anything about what that animal was fed. I’d always look for “grassfed” as a ‘must have’ on the label, and then if it also says other buzz words like pastured or free range, that’s always good too. Generally, if the meat is coming from a local farm and it’s being fed grass, then it’s pastured as well. I believe the Whole Foods numbering system is 1 through 4, with 4 being the ‘happiest/healthiest’ animals.
    Pork is tough because pigs eat all kinds of weird things, and there isn’t a strict definition of what a pig should be eating, etc. I’ve read a lot of varying viewpoints on pork, so I’ll leave that one up to you, the consumer, to ask where the pig was raised (the people at Whole Foods can usually tell you where it came from, if it’s not on the tag in the case) and then you can call up that farm and ask about the quality of conditions and what the pig feed is made of.
    We don’t stress too much over that one. We just try to always buy Grassfed beef and free range / cage free eggs and chicken, and locally raised pork. When possible, we skip the grocery store and go right to the source.

  22. Jon says:

    Day one: I’m about one hour passed my usual morning snack time. Not really feeling like I need a snack :)

  23. Brianna says:

    Thats awesome Jon! It is pretty cool how that works huh? I never really thought I would be able to go without my snacks :)

    • Jon says:

      It’s cool. I’m right at mid-afternoon snack time and, again, not really feeling it today. And I made the coconut milk, blueberry, banana, 86% dark chocolate shake Steve posted about the other week. Hope I develop some room for it soon… ;)

  24. Krystal says:

    I got a comment at Whole Foods too. The guy at the fish counter was like “wow, you sure do have a lot of produce! Are you going to eat all that?” haha, oh well.

    Best omelet…. Ham or bacon, red onion and jalepenos sauteed together, then added to the inside of a 2-3 egg omelet topped off with avocado. Yum!

  25. Alycia says:

    No chocolate on the challenge, Jon! :) Unless it’s an unsweetened chocolate bar. Which would taste awful.

  26. Alycia says:

    …except for the sugar!
    The point of ‘no sweeteners’ during the challenge isn’t to nitpick or be a stickler over 5-10 grams of sugar. It’s to help you start new habits and break old ones. It’s to knock your sweet tooth out of your mouth, so that after the challenge, you’ll resume some of your old habits, but not to the extent that you have them now.
    I gave up my Trader Joe’s Chocolate Lover’s 85% for the challenge. Now you give up yours!

    • Eric A. says:

      You mentioned before that the mini stuffed pepper recipe on here is good for the challenge, but the Wegmans sausage also has sugar listed as an ingredient. Is it still ok?

      • Dave Stys says:

        Eric – I’ve found a chorizo sausage with no sugar in it at Wegmans. I love it.

        • Eric A. says:

          Nice. I just found out from someone that ShopRite brand hot sausage has no added sugar or preservatives also. That’s a huge bonus because it is cheap! Unfortunately I already bought some Whole Foods sausage today. Not sure if they use sugar or not, but I figured it was the best I could find. Next time I’m heading to ShopRite though!

      • Shelley says:

        Tonight’s dinner mistakenly had 2g of sugar in it because I didn’t think to look on the sausage ingredients for added sugar…. Otherwise, it’s good… Sliced up chicken and pepper sausage sauteed with zucchini, red pepper, garlic and chard.

    • Melissa Sharp says:

      Haha I gave that exact bar up too from Trader Joes…. Sean was like does it really count if you eat 2 whole ones in a weekend( talking about how I consumed 1 on friday and one on saturday my response was I had to get it out of the house lol)…

  27. Dave Stys says:

    Last night I made a few recipes from “Make it Paleo” – came out great!

    1. Cinnamon Steak Skewers
    2. over the Arugala and Asparagus salad
    3. added a batch of their Guacamole on top…

    I should’ve taken a photo, but I was too hungry. Looking forward to leftovers tonight.

    Thanks for letting us know about PaleOMG… wow – good stuff there.

  28. Shelley says:

    Everyone’s been way more creative than me.

    For snack foods:
    I baked some bacon in the toaster oven yesterday and put it in the fridge to snack on.
    I also have baby carrots, and cucumber slices, and bananas and apples available.

    I do have some bone broth in the crockpot right now. I don’t eat eggs, so no such thing as a favorite omelette.

  29. Steve says:

    (sound of me spitting seltzer all over my keyboard). Oh wow, Jon….

  30. Shamus says:

    As a note about saving bacon grease, I thought it would be strange to have it in the fridge or to use it for other things, but it’s really the same as butter. I just let it cool in the pan for a while then pour it into a jar and put it in the fridge. It’s the best thing for cooking those sweet potatoes, too.

  31. Jon says:

    Nice discovery by Cathy was organic, grass-fed roast beef at Wegmans deli counter!

    Made some bone broth over the last 24 hours in the crock pot. Do you folks generally consume it straight? If so, just as part of a meal?

  32. Peggy says:

    Thanks Jamie and Alycia for the grass-fed vs. pasture-raised info. I was looking for grass-fed heavy cream, and they were out of the one I usually buy. I noticed the Organic Valley now says “Pasture Raised” and I bought that. Will only get grass-fed from now on.

  33. Alycia says:

    Another note about the sugar included in the curing process of bacon, or a few grams in a sausage. It’ll cook off and you won’t be consuming that sugar. Concentrate much more about the quality of the meat (admittedly, the Wegmans mild pork sausage is definitely not the best option in terms of quality) rather than trace amounts of sugar in it.

    I use the bone broth to cook with, mostly, but Jamie and a few others at the gym will drink it straight.

  34. Steve says:

    Hey Eric, that Shop-Rite stuff sounds great in terms of no-sugar, but I am thinking that in terms of quality pork — you know, non-factory farmed, etc. — the WF stuff blows it away. You can also ask to see the ingredients of any of the sausage in the case in the meat dept at WF, and they don’t even give you *that* look for asking. I think either option is challenge-friendly, but in terms of the quality of what you are eating, I think WF is going to win. Your bank account may, however, lose.

  35. Jon says:

    Put some Za’atar in my eggs this morning – added a nice, middle-eastern kick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Za'atar). Picked it up at Wegman’s awhile back. I grew up with the stuff when I lived in Israel in my formative years…

  36. Shamus says:

    Whole Foods sausage is definitely better than what you’ll find at Shop Rite or other supermarkets. I’ve actually noticed a difference in how I feel with the different brands. To keep things simple, I cook fairly large amounts of one food at a time. Then I’ll use it all up and cook the next batch, eating only that food until it’s gone. Normally one batch of meat will last a day, and I will add eggs or different vegetables at different meals.

    A few weeks ago I bought a large pack of sausage from Shop Rite and cooked it with peppers and onions. After three or four meals, I noticed that I didn’t have the energy I thought I should and digestion was a bit off. As an experiment, I bought the same amount of Whole Foods sausage and cooked it the same way, with peppers and onions. At the end of the day I felt fine, normal energy and no intestinal gurgles or anything.

    If you change the meat you eat at each meal, you may never notice if one particular meat is of lesser quality. I’ll bet that your body notices, though. Just get the good stuff, despite the extra cost. You’ll be glad you did in the long run.

  37. Jon says:

    Continuing the mediterranean theme of the day, I believe we’ll be making this for dinner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakshouka. Basically eggs, veggies, spices. Think I may run out and try to find some mediterranean themed sausage to go along with it…

  38. Steve says:

    In the absence of a “like” button, or better yet, a “BOOM!” button, I will say, “Yeah, what Shamus said.” We tend to similarly go through large batches of one meaty item, one at a time, through multiple meals. A short time ago, some spicy Wegmans sausage was procured by the sloppier shopper in the house (SSH)(named me) who bought too much of it as a goat-cheese-substitute filling for Those Magical Dates. The more-disciplined shopper (MDS) (named Jamie) cannot eat spicy things on her autoimmune protocol. So MDS turns to SSH and says, “Dude, there’s a lot of leftovers to eat because you bought so much more than we needed.”

    It’s rarely good news when she starts her sentence to me with, “Dude….” Fortunately, it is also a rare occurrence.

    But this seemd OK at first. I mean really… torture me with pork products. So I ate and I ate and I ate some more. Multiple sausage-based meals were consumed by the SSH.

    And I felt like crap, or at least a lot closer to crap than awesome. WF sausage never does this to me.

    So yeah…. what Shamus said.

  39. Melissa Sharp says:

    This week I cooked free range organic chicken thighs with coconut milk, curry and ginger, that I will eat for dinner all week with a different vegetable everyday to keep things interesting : ) ; and for lunch I made grass fed beef mexican salad, with pico de gallo, salsa,lettuce, guacomole and my own paleo taco seasoning blend.

    Favorite Omelette: 2 eggs, chorizo, salsa and peppers! (Can anyone else tell I love Mexican Food ! )

    I made a bunch of different vegetables for the week and some paleo roasted pepper dip with paleo sweet potato “chips” as a snack. I also got some berries and made spinach, blueberry, strawberry, 1/2 banana green smoothie that I also am keeping in my fridge.

  40. Jon says:

    Realizing I may have been starving myself in the past. These meals are BIG! I’m not stuffing myself, but I’m definitely eating more.

  41. Jon says:

    Is this receipe ok? I don’t see any sweetners other than the dates….


  42. Steve says:

    Well, I think that as long as the cashew butter has no non-paleo ingredients, you are challenge-compliant with this. If you are asking whether I would eat it, the answer is probably no, because, other than the occasional Larabar with cashews, I don’t eat them, and holy Jebus, that’s a lot of cashew butter. They aren’t a nut, and they aren’t a legume either. They are in kind of a paleo gray zone. I believe Justin views them as challenge-compliant, but I have read that they are potentially — and I think it comes from how they are prepared — loaded with anti-nutrients, even to the extent that if you eat some cashews close in time to other food, you might not properly absorb the nutrients from the other food. Bottom line for me is that a cashew here and there is no big deal, but a steady diet of them, or this many in one shot, seems like a bad idea.

    • Jon says:

      Wow. Thanks! I had no idea – just assumed they were in the nut category. I may still try the recipe but with another nut butter (almond?)

  43. Steve says:

    You seem to be searching for sweet things. Coconut milk over fruit not doing it for you? For me that is the only real “treat” paleo snack worth anything because there’s nothing even vaguely gray-area about it. It tastes decadent but is amazingly good for you. No actual decadence involved.

  44. Jon says:

    it’s a strange affliction, this need to end a meal with something sweet. I have been psychologically conditioned to require it, though at this point I really don’t physically crave that stuff. I thought I’d be grappling with a lot of pangs for bread, dairy and sugar, but that hasn’t happened. And, yet, the meals just don’t seem complete… ;)

    Haven’t yet tried coconut milk over fruit but plan to try it at some point today. Do you chill it prior to eating?

  45. Jamie says:

    Hey Jon:
    We almost always have an open can of coconut milk in our fridge because I use it in my decaf coffee every day. But the fruit is frozen — we get the Wegman’s brand that’s flash frozen and has no other ingredients besides blueberries, cherries, peaches, etc. So it doesn’t really matter if the coconut milk is cold or not. The coldness of the fruit freezes the coconut milk on top of it.

    Since you’re not physically craving sweetness and just want a bit to end a meal, why not try one or two dates, figs or dried mango slices? I think they’d satisfy your sweet tooth and you wouldn’t have to make a whole batch of something that has potentially questionable ingredients.

    • Jon says:

      I’ve actually been eating dates, though I’ve been using around 5 (1 serving per the packaging). Guess I’ll cut that down ;)

  46. Steve says:

    You can chill itif you want, but it’s not essential. If the fruit is frozen, it comes out like ice cream. When the frozen fruit hits the coconut milk, the milk freezes and gets chunky. But it’s not necessary for any of it to be cold. If you wanna try the frozen-fruit stunt, Wegmans store brand is clean. Blueberries, blackberries and cherries all work well. The peaches need a little defrosting or you will need dental work.

  47. Shamus says:

    Jon, not to be a downer, but why not just take the opportunity to break yourself of the habit of eating something sweet at the end of a meal? I’ve known others who were raised the same way. They coud stuff themselves at a meal until they felt sick, but still had to force in a bit of ice cream at the end. I’ve found over time that I crave sweets much less, but it may take a while to get to that point. Eating larger meals helps a lot. If you’re full, you won’t be searching for something else.
    Since you know this is a habit and not some nutritional deficiency, I’d just try to go without. Or you can use your one or two servings of fruit a day as finishers to meals. Try to cut that out over time so you can focus on what’s good in the meal, rather than what’s good at the end.

    • Jon says:

      Oh man…you are a downer….but you also speak wisely ;) I have, to some extent, started that process – this week I’ve just had a piece of fruit as a finisher.

  48. Eric A. says:

    I seriously can’t wait for tomorrow morning, when I combine a locally sourced (local, as in my parents back yard!) venison roast with Steve’s “World’s Easiest Crockpot Meat Recipe.” Nothing beats the combination of free meat and world’s easiest!

  49. Alycia says:

    nom nom nom. That sounds great, eric!

  50. Julie T says:

    Sorry all…a little late in the requests for recipes:
    The cauliflower rice was from “Eat Like a Dinosaur”. It’s marketed as a kids cookbook but really it’s great recipes with ways kids can help. I’d recommend it even if you are not cooking with kids. It is actually a recipe to make with shrimp. I just didn’t add the shrimp and added peppers instead for some more flavor. I also added some pickle brine leftover. We pickle a lot in my house. Not sure if the cookie recipe was mine but I would be happy to post after the 30 day since he chocolate chips have sugar and honey is used.

    Omelette. Anything with eggs and sausage and onions! Love that combo!

    Crockpot. Pork shoulder with homemade paleo BBQ sauce. Delish!

    The alcohol is usually the biggest issue for me however just like the last challenge I find that I obsess over it for a few days then forget about it pretty quickly.

    • Melissa Sharp says:

      So guys…
      I’m having trouble cutting back my fruit intake…. feeling tired without it. I’m ok with everything else. Just used to eating a banana with breakfast a piece of fruit for a snack and 2 servings after dinner…. around 4-5 servings per day. I did cut down to having some berries instead though… Any other suggestions?

  51. Julie T says:

    I took a “cold turkey” approach for the last 30 day. I was super tired and had headaches for the fat week then I felt better than ever. This time I had no issues cutting out fruit. The sugar and sweet stuff you just have to let your body get used to. I found that just cutting it out was not too bad in the end and now it doesn’t bother me at all.

  52. Jon says:

    So I have a Tough Mudder this weekend. I’ve been in two previously and in both instances have come out of the 40 degree water a tad hypothermic (uncontrollable shivering etc). I’ve been able to recover by consuming a granola bar or something similar – I guess the digestion process warmed me from within. Do you think a handful of almonds would work? Any other suggestions? I’d rather have something compact and easy to consume on the run.

    • Blair says:

      A lot of runners drink broth after a long run. It’s super warm and replaces some of the sodium you lost. I would go with something that is pretty easy to digest- banana with almond butter is a favorite post race snack for me.

      • Jon says:

        Thanks but I’ll actually need something during the race. The water plunge is one of the first obstacles with another 2 to 3 hours of running to go.

    • Shamus says:

      Jon, just shove a can on coconut oil in your pants and crack it open after the water obstacle. You can chug it as you run and the calories will help replenish the lost body heat. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest making sure your last meal before the race is high in fat — a little extra high, actually. Think steak, butter, uh – coconut oil, that sort of thing. Make the meal as large as you can handle without risk of throwing up and give yourself about two hours to digest. You should hit the start line still feeling a bit full. That way, when your body suddenly needs energy to warm up, you’ll have a supply in your stomach already.

  53. Alycia says:

    Good ideas, Blair and Shamus. :)
    A larabar might help, if you’re on the go and can’t stop to eat any ‘real food’.
    If you read Dean Karnazes (Ultramarathonman) stuff, he talks about eating an entire pizza while running. If he can eat that, you can certainly eat any other type of food. hehe.
    I think a Larabar or some mashed up sweet potato (in a ziploc baggie, maybe?) would give you quick carbs for a re-fuel during a race.
    And afterwards, a big meal of meat & veggies, and broth like Blair said!

    PS- I love that coconut milk down the pants has become a running joke here.

  54. Dan says:

    Should we be taking any specific supplements? I had really bad muscle spasms in my back over night.


  55. Jon says:

    Just making sure I’m not overdoing it….


    3 scrambled eggs
    1 large sausage from Whole Foods
    A few blueberries with coconut milk and cinnamon
    Bulletproof coffee (which, btw, is much better with unsalted butter ;) )

    Sound reasonable?

  56. Steve says:

    Jon, I am totally stealing this line, but, “Dude, I wiped that much food off my chin after I was done eating.”

    Seriously, that sounds a hair on the small side, especially if you hit CF today.

  57. Jamie says:

    Predictably, I was just thinking what Steve wrote above. :D

    If you did go to CF, I’d suggest adding some starchy carbs to what you eat after, maybe a half a sweet potato cooked in bacon fat or some plantains cooked in grass-fed butter or ghee. I’d also add some green veggies to my scrambled eggs, maybe some broccoli or asparagus and eat one or two more sausages.

    I find that I’m much more hungry on the days I go to CF than the days I don’t, so I eat more. Many times I eat more than Steve. But as long as it’s good, real food, I don’t worry about it.

    I think the bottom line is: if what you ate keeps you full until about noon, it’s reasonable. If you find that you’re hungry again at 10, then you need to eat more.

    • Jon says:

      Thanks! Newbie question: how exactly would I cook a sweet potato in some fatty matter? Çut it in two and face down in a skillet?

  58. Jamie says:

    You can do that. I like to peel the sweet potato, cut it up into chunks and then cook them in the fat that way. I kind of mash the potatoes up as I cook them. Another easy way to bulk cook sweet potatoes is with apples. Use a ratio of three to four sweet potatoes to one Granny Smith (or whatever other cooking apply you like). Peel and cut up the sweet potatoes. Cut up the apples (leave the skins on). Put the equivalent of three to four cut up potatoes and one cut up apple into a covered baking dish. Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour to an hour and a half (it’s impossible to overcook this dish). Everything gets mushy and yummy. I usually do about three pans of these at once so we then have sweet potatoes for a week or so.

  59. Peggy says:

    In work today, home made dark chocolate cupcakes to my left, warm philly soft pretzels to my right, gotta get some bacon…

  60. Steve says:

    Jon, just to double-emphasize one part of what J said, *peel* the sweet potatoes. All potato skins are loaded with anti-nutrients. You should never eat them. They are the potato’s way of saying, “Back off. No eating. And if you try, I will poison you.” This is much less true of apple skins/peels/whatever-you-wanna-call-em, so go ahead and eat those.

  61. Alycia says:

    Dan – its common for people to go from high sodium intake on a standard diet, to realy low sodium on Paleo. If you are low on sodium, your body might not be holding onto enough of the water you drink. So even if you are hydrated, your body is just passing it through and it’s thinking you are dehydrated, hence the muscle spasms. Try sprinkling sea salt on a few of your meals today and see if that helps this week.

    Also, magnesium will relax your muscles. I take “Natural Calm” (found at Vitamin Shoppe) sometimes. Its a Magnesium powder that you mix with water. Careful though – its also a natural laxative. Pay attention to the serving sizes on the back.

    Jon – best sweet potato I’ve had so far was a recipe from Shamus’s friend ( a chef, I believe?). I may have altered it, but what I do is cut sweet potatoes in half, leave the skins on, and cover all surfaces in melted bacon fat, and lie them face down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for up to 2 hours (until the outsides are brown, and you can almost poke your finger straight through the skin. Then, scoop out the insides and eat! It carmelizes the part that was on the baking sheet, and the inside tastes like sweet potato pie. mmmmm. pie.

  62. Shamus says:

    Jon, I think I ate exactly twice as much as you did for breakfast today: 6 eggs, 2 large Whole Foods sausages, vegetables, etc. Since I am not twice your size, I’d agree with Steve that you should add a little food to your plate. I would have had a sweet potato, too, but that bacon grease-coated goodness is still baking, so I’ll have to wait. I find that loading up with a large breakfast keeps me feeling full throughout the day more than eating a moderate breakfast and larger meals later on.

    • Jon says:

      I think that, in addition to getting my body used to the new assortment of foods I’m eating, my body needs to adjust to the amounts. When I was finished with my breakfast as I was fairly full – at this point I can’t imagine, for example, eating more eggs. I guess I’ll see how things progress.

      In other news the lethargic and run-down feeling you can get in the first week on this diet is right on schedule ;)

  63. Eric A. says:

    This is the best “diet” ever! All I hear people saying is, “eat MORE.” haha I’ve got my curry coconut venison roast in the crockpot and I’m already thinking about what other meat I want to cook. Possibly a veal-pork-venison-bacon meat loaf? hmmmm…

  64. Steve says:

    Eric, you probably know this already, but just in case…. for the love of all that is good and right, do not *dare* take that venison out of that crockpot until it has cooked on low for 12 hrs. It will fall apart and be buttery/coconut good. But if you try and shortcut it by reducing the cooking time much, you run the risk of the meat being tougher, especially with venison.

    As for insane bacon-wrapped paleo meatloaf, have you seen this (those with, er, tender sensibilities may want to think twice before clicking):

    There are 28g in an ounce and “mince” is British for “ground.”

  65. Steve says:

    Oh and magnesium…. yeah… good for muscle cramps and sleep. Natural Calm gets good reviews, but I have never tried it. As for tablets, magnesium citrate and magnesium gluconate are both great. Magnesium oxide, which, sadly, is what is in most pills labeled “magnesium,” is hard to absorb and just washes right out of your system. I wouldn’t recommend it. I have heard that if you take any magnesium pills, take them before 3pm or else they can keep you awake, rather than help you sleep. I take them in the morning.

    Also, Alycia is not kidding about watching the dose. You cannot OD on magnesium, but you *can* create a laxative effect that is less than pleasing. The line between awesome and “whoops” is very fine with magnesium. The way to do the pills is to take as much as you can tolerate, but, in order to determine what that is, start with one pill once a day, then add to that slowly — maybe after two weeks. Your body has to get used to it. It is wonderful stuff, but go slow. With mag gluconate, I found I could handle 1100 mg (2 tabs) a day eventually (started with 550 — one tab) but with mag citrate, I can’t make the jump from 800 mg (2 tabs) to 1200 (3 tabs) without unpleasant results so 800 it is.

  66. Shamus says:

    Alycia, I’m not sure if you’ve tried this with the baked sweet potatoes, but when they’re fresh out of the oven the skin just peels right off. Let them cool for a few minutes and then flip them cut-side down on a plate and peel back the edge. It’s super easy and the skin separates from the inside cleanly so there is little wasted.

  67. Alycia says:

    Yeah, I’ve done that. But then I end up pigging out on the sweet potatoes while they are steamy hot and have that little bit of crunchy carmelized sweetness. I think the skins are a protective barrier for me that ensures I’ll eat them in human-like portions. lol.
    They are seriously the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had.

  68. Alycia says:

    This is for all of you non-chefs — I found the EASIEST crock pot recipe ever that’s both delicious and 30-day friendly. Buy the family pack of chicken thighs from Whole Foods (they are cheap) and buy a jar of Trader Joe’s Puttanesca sauce. Put the chicken and the sauce in a crock pot on high for about 4 hours. Eat. Eat some more. Because it’s so freakin good.

    For something a little more daring/involved, I also made Egg Foo Young from “Well Fed”. I should’ve made it mandatory for everyone to buy that book before starting the 30 day. This recipe, and some others in this book, are so good, its hard to believe that I made it in my own kitchen. Seriously, order it on Amazon now and you’ll have a year’s worth of amazing food.

  69. Steve says:

    Not like I haven’t mentioned this 1000 times already, but now it’s in blog form. Paleo “ice cream” (coconut milk and frozen fruit): http://www.thepaleodrummer.com/2012/04/paleo-cream-coconut-milk-and-frozen.html

  70. Alycia says:

    Thanks for posting that – what a great treat for the weekend! Remember to control your servings, people. Depending on your goals, this *might* not be a good idea for daily indulgence. But it’s certainly an amazing idea for every so often. Shamus also makes a great paleo ice cream as well. I dont know if his has sweeteners.
    Also bananas make a great base for paleo ice cream. :)

    Also, READ THIS ! http://crossfitaspire.com/2012/04/5671/ This is the story of Shamus’ transition from standard bodybuilding diet to Paleo, and all of the benefits that came along with it. He now eats 100% Paleo (real foods). That’s part of the reason he looks and performs like he does.

    PS – I apologize for the mistakes in line spacing and picture spacing in all of these nutrition posts. WordPress is making it impossible to copy/paste and add pictures without the spacing getting all wacky.

  71. Shamus says:

    The recipe I use for Paleo ice cream calls for pure maple syrup, though I substitute honey instead. So it’s not challenge-friendly, but perhaps for the afterparty…

  72. Dominic M says:

    Shamus, your article was very nicely written and quite informative-thank you for sharing it. Its premise lined up with a lot of my conventional thoughts on what I “knew” to be healthy prior to having my eyes opened to the Paleo way of eating. 5 days into my first challenge and the most tangible thing I notice is that I am sleeping exactly 8 hours every night and not waking up at all. Head-to-pillow and when my eyes open it is exactly 8 hours later like clockwork every single day of the challenge thus far. Normally I wake up 2-3 times throughout the night and my sleep patterns are all over the place. This is a nice result to have so early on in the challenge as it will be a driving factor in seeing this through beyond just 30 days. I am truly excited to see how I feel after 30 days of dedication. The support and information being delivered on this site by those that have gone down this road already is invaluable and motivating to say the least.

    • Jon says:

      I’m looking forward to that effect. I am a horrible sleeper, though I attempt to sleep around 8 hours a night. I am up multiple times during the night and that is still the case, though last night I think I did a little better – I was up only once.

  73. Dominic M says:

    Thought I’d share an anecdote with everyone that shows my dedication to this way of eating despite any ridicule or ball-busting that is inevitable with the group of guys I work with(I of course am a no stranger to breaking stones at work myself). We went out for lunch today as a group(I am aware the challenge says not to eat out, but I was confident in my ability to pick something that would be challenge compliant). I ordered a wrap that had feta cheese, spinach leaves, roasted peppers, and roasted chicken. I proceeded to tell the waitress, “I will have this wrap with extra spinach, no cheese, and no wrap”. They brought out a plate of chicken mixed with tons of spinach leaves. It looked rather plain but I was satisfied with it. Of course the rest of the guys began to order things like “soup with no bowl”, “chicken salad sandwich with no chicken salad” and asked for a “check with no money”.

  74. Alycia says:

    hahahahaha, love the story! Your work friends sound awesome. Yeah, we all have stories of those moments when your friends/family are like ‘WTF’, and you make the decision to stick to your guns. That’s actually a big part of changing habits on this challenge. Once you make a good decision a few times in a row, it becomes natural to do it, and you stop feeling pressure from friends.

    I got the weirdest looks when I sent back a bowl of penne vodka this past weekend at a bridal shower. “You don’t like pasta? Who doesn’t like pasta? Why did you give it back? You always used to eat pasta. Do you not like the taste? Why didn’t you even have a bite, just to taste it?” blah blah blah. That kind of talk would’ve made me uncomfortable a few years ago. Not any more though.

    Way to stay on track, Dominic. I think you’ll continue to see more health benefits (and aesthetic changes) during the 30 days, and hopefully beyond.

  75. Shamus says:

    Dominic, I’m glad you were able to take something away from my experiences. That was what I hoped for, after all. Since I started eating “different” (or weird, or picky, or as George Carlin said: big pain in the a–) when I was just a teenager, my friends and family barely even comment on it anymore. The people I work with occasionally do, but after getting a couple other people to try Paleo and seeing the results no one seems to say anything negative anymore. In fact, I think they’re hoping I won’t start picking on them for eating like slobs (“Yeah, I’m ordering from . I’m getting the “belly-buster” omlette with extra cheese, toast and homefries, does anyone want anything?”). Of course, I’d like to order a check with no money, too.

    As far as sleep goes, I wish everyone could gain that benefit. Sadly, I think that while we all will benefit in some way (or several ways), it may not necessarily be when sleeping. Still, it’s early in the challenge and if you’re just starting your body is still adjusting. It could well be that you’ll find sleeping easier as time goes on.

  76. Jamie says:

    I’ll throw my sleep experience out there in the hopes that it can help someone else. I, like Jon, was a HORRIBLE sleeper since I was about 10 years old. It was standard for me to wake up five or six times a night at the smallest noise and have a hard time falling back asleep. There was one night when every other creature in the house (Steve, three dogs and one cat) was snoring and I was awake listening to it all.

    On the advice of Liz Wolf, I gave up all caffeine. I drink only seltzer water, decaf coffee and herbal tea and it’s made a HUGE difference. It’s now common for me to sleep all the way through the night, something I never thought I’d be able to do. If I am woken up (because, for example, my spouse has to tell me how his awesome team won the volleyball league championship), I’m able to fall back asleep again in a few minutes. For me, this is amazing.

    I didn’t think I was consuming *that* much caffeine and when I did, it was always first thing in the morning, so I was skeptical that it would make a difference. Boy was I wrong. I am a complete convert now.

    If you feel disrupted sleep is affecting other areas of your life, you may want to bid adieu to Monsieur Caffeine for a few weeks and see what happens.

  77. Alycia says:

    When dining out this weekend, do the best you can to recognize bad ingredients and get a real food-friendly meal.
    It might come with a ‘surprise’ side of non-food (rice, corn, etc). Just ignore it and eat the good stuff.
    And please don’t treat your waitress like this! haha.

  78. Dan says:

    Okay I have been on the eggs bacon and sausage kick for a week and need a bit of change. Saw Paleo pancakes made with Almond Flour, Coconut flour, unsweetened apple sauce and berries.

    Yes Or No?


  79. Steve says:

    Dan, I just answered you over in the week two thread….

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