Drumroll please….I am extremely excited to share with you the King and Queen (winners) of Quantum CrossFit’s GET REAL Challenge!  This year we had almost 40 competitors (our largest group to date!) and I was SO IMPRESSED by EVERYONE’s efforts and results.  It was extremely difficult for us to pick 1 female and 1 male winner because there were so many dramatic changes.  It literally came down to a photo finish to choose the winners.  I am always amazed at everyone’s dedication, commitment and group support, but this year in particular was extra stellar.  You all proved that with solid training (thanks to Quantum CrossFit) and nutrition (thanks to Haute Life…me:)) you can see dramatic changes in your health, performance and body composition in 5 short weeks.   It was a tough decision, but alas we can only have 1 King and 1 Queen.  READY?!?!  Here we go…

The KING of the GET REAL Challenge is Jason!!  Jason is a downtown corporate man who has been a member of the gym for 2 years – he took this opportunity to get his nutrition in check in order to improve his performance and get geared up for a future triathalon….in addition to bringing his abs to the forefront.  He committed to the challenge with gusto and the results are a testament to this commitment.   Dropping 11% of his body weight, he lost the equivalent of at least 1 kettlebell.  Check out Jason’s before picture here:

I am not cruel...Jason gave me this pic to use!

Here is Jason’s actual Before/After pics:

The QUEEN of the GET REAL Challenge is Mary Anne!!  Mary Anne attacked this challenge like Dr. Oz at a whole grain buffet table.  She was a HUGE contributor to the GET REAL forum and provided so much support and encouragement to her fellow GET REAL’ers.  Her commitment paid off as she lost 6% of her body weight and dropped a whole lot of inches.  Check out Mary Anne’s transformation here:

Thank you to both the King and Queen for allowing me to use their pics.  I know they will inspire others to GET REAL!

I asked the winners to answer a few questions about the challenge….

What has the challenge done for you?

J: Attempting not to state the obvious but this challenge really reinforced the value of good solid nutrition forming the base of anything else I want to accomplish in life.  From a physical perspective, I hit a bunch of PR’s –Getting my first ever HSPU (handstand push-up) was a proud moment. So proud I had to show coach KC a second time! Hitting a 205# “Jerk” PR was a nice surprise and 75 consecutive double unders  was another. Generally speaking, I just felt like my frame was thanking me for showing it a little love! In the end, the progress in performance I’ve always wanted in the gym was being held back by my lack of focus on proper nutrition. This competition opened my eyes to that and I’d encourage anyone who missed out to pick the brains of the coaches between now and the next challenge.  I mainly harassed you (Summer) and Pete but Leah, Tyler, and KC are no wallflowers either! I was no different from most coming into CFQ in mid-2010. Couldn’t do a pullup without a green band, didn’t know what paleo was, or what kipping meant. I’ve learned a ton along the way and put it all to work in this challenge . There was really nothing to lose and everything to gain by committing to this.

M: Apart from making me feel better than I ever have, it was really rewarding to commit to something and see all my hard work pay off. Resetting what I ate has given me a new consciousness of my appetite and ‘real’ hunger, and helped me separate that from more emotional eating.

Outside of your waistline, where else did you see positive changes?

J: My productivity and energy in general seemed to increase and/or stabilize. Not having to endure the morning zombi-like feeling or the 2pm energy crash was a win worth mentioning. I should note that I’m not a coffee drinker, and never have been, but I’ve always felt like caffeine shouldn’t be the answer to my energy issues.  My number one goal was to improve my sleep and although I still have my battles as someone with sleep apnea, it’s definitely progressed through this challenge.

M: My energy is up, I’m in a good mood, I feel like it’s helped me be better in every aspect of my life – at work, in the gym, with my friends and family. When you feel good, it’s contagious. I feel more positive and capable all around!  Digestive wise – I used to get “random” stomach aches for “no apparent reason” and I couldn’t figure it out… well guess what, now I know why, and it hasn’t been an issue whatsoever when eating this way. And that’s pretty great.

Did you find it easy to stick to for 5 weeks?

J: I wouldn’t call it easy, but doing this with a group of people definitely made it easier without question. I think in the past when I’ve tried to do something like this, I’ve lost the will or want or inspiration to keep going and keep cooking, and justified a bad choice (aka a trip to the drive through) with some excuse (I’m just too busy, it’s only one meal, most of it’s good for me). This time I just kept telling myself “you only eat what you kill” aka eat what you cook and that’s it. Once things got rolling about a week or so into it, it became routine and in many cases was faster than hitting up Subway or Tim Horton’s because I already had food with me.

M: It was tough at first, getting the hang of really planning things out, and with some events I had to attend. But I got the hang of it and now it feels more like 2nd nature… I don’t have to think about what would make a ‘paleo’ breakfast/meal/snack… it’s just how I eat now. And the more positive feedback I got, the easier it became because I wouldn’t want to go back to feeling crappy again. I may have had a few sweet treats after the challenge was over, but unfortunately (or not?) now I know I feel better without them

What are your goals now that the challenge is over?

J: Keeping my a$$ on the wagon would be at the top of list! I still want to see my 6th ab (oh the vanity!) and until I do, I’ll just stick with it but maybe in more of a 90/10 fashion like you (Summer) alluded to.  I’ve also set my sights on a 2nd shot @ a sprint triathlon in milton on June3rd. I did my first and only triathlon there in 2010 after one month of crossfit at CFQ, so we’ll see how far I’ve come barring any injury flare ups.

M: Get super strong! And keep on keeping it real 🙂

Any plans on how you’re going to spend the prize $?  Perhaps some new pants?

J: I choose meat and some sunshine (future vacay) over oreos…I’d consider that progress!

M: A couple of new dresses… maybe some new kitchen gadgets (I have my eye on that veggie spiral maker!) But mostly I’m putitng it back into CFQ so that I can keep this great experience going.

Congrats to you both…you both did AMAZING!  (And you made me proud….tear)

Until next time, keep it REAL!

Last week we had some awesome recipes from the Quantum CrossFit GET REAL Challenge.  It seems like people are getting more gourmet by the week!  We’ve got some serious winners in this week’s recipe round-up.  Enjoy!

I’m starting with 3 different creations from Jodi….apparently she is gunning for Top Chef Paleo edition and/or to be my personal chef.

Jodi’s “Melt in your mouth Lamb Shoulder Roast”

Ingredients
2lb lamb shoulder roast (mine was boneless)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 full garlic separated into cloves but not peeled
Rosemary
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp chopped capers
Fresh chopped mint

Directions:
Preheat oven to 500
Line the bottom of a roast pan with half the rosemary and held the garlic cloves
Rub the roast with olive oil and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Place roast in pan and top with remaining garlic and rosemary.
Cover roast with tin foil and place in oven. Immediately turn oven down to 325.
Walk away and come back 3 hours later.
Remove from oven and take roast from pan. Leave to sit on cutting board and cover with foil to let set.
Pour fat from roast pan and add almond flour and stock to pan on stove top. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the drippings to be part of the gravy and bring to simmer.
Add capers, and mint (up to you how much to add) and reduce over low heat.
The roast will shred super easily and then serve with gravy over top.

Here is a picture of the Before:

Enjoy!

Jodi’s “Slow cooker baby back ribs”
aka: The way to Summer’s heart.

Before Pic.

Ingredients:
– 1.5 lb baby back ribs
– 4 onions (cut in quarters)
– 2 shallots finely chopped
– 2 shallots sliced thinly
– 1 tsp chopped garlic
– 1/4 cup tamari
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp Allspice
– 1/2 tsp Ginger Black Pepper to taste

Directions:
I started by laying out the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a bowl, mix together the finely chopped shallots, garlic, tamari, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, ginger and black pepper. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and place in a zip lock bag. Pour seasoning mix into bag and seal bag and squish bag around to cover the ribs entirely with the sauce. Empty contents of Zip lock bag into slow cooker on top of base of quartered onions. Top with sliced shallots. I cooked this on the low setting of my slow cooker for 7 hours.

Then the real trick…

When finished cooking, I made a reduction out of the juices/sauce from the bottom of the slow cooker by pouring first into a measuring cup and separating off the fat from the top and then pouring into a sauce pan and simmering until delicious (until it was reduced to about 4 tablespoons) and then drizzled the sauce reduction over the ribs.

The result – perfectly fall of the bone delicious ribs.

Jodi’s gorgeous “Tuna Salad”

This was one of my favourite salads ever. Seared tuna, guacamole, tomato, mushrooms, spinach and pea shoots topped with a home made tamari, olive oil, cayenne pepper and dijon dressing.

Lisa’s “Chicken masquerading as Chili”

Ingredients
– coconut oil
– 2 large onions. diced
– 3 glove garlic, diced
– 2 lbs ground mennonite chicken
– chili powder, chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oak smoked sea salt, pepper
– 16oz mushrooms, chopped
– 1 small can tomato paste
– 1 28oz can diced canned tomatoes
– cocoa powder

Directions:
Saute onion in coconut oil in large pot over medium heat (I did this til starting to caramelize).
Add garlic and saute a few more min.
Stir in ground chicken and (lots of) seasoning and brown. (You can add the seasoning later but I’ve convinced myself the meat tasted better if I put the seasoning on it while it cooks.)
Add in mushroom and cook til mushrooms are soft.
Reduce heat and mix in tomato paste.
Stir in canned tomatoes.
Once heated, taste and add more seasoning as needed (I had to put a ton in mine!)
Simmer on low heat for an hour to two.
Add about 2 tsp cocoa powder partway thru.

Anthony’s “Kale Chips”

Whose having a party? Because I’ll be bringing the kale chips.

Baked at 150 degrees for 3 hrs. Works well but a bit time consuming. Dressed with sea salt, pepper, lemon, and olive oil.

Amanda’s “Mexican Meatloaf”

There is no picture, but I am sure it will make you do this…. (note: I spent far too long trying to find a pic of Richard Simmons in a Sombrero to capture the spirit of this recipe, so I had to settle with this…)

Happy humpday! I took some gf ground beef and a package of sausage out of the freezer this morning with no real plan. Got home from the gym with no real cooking motivation, and threw this together with what I had on hand: Mexican meatloaf! Turned out pretty darn tasty, and will surely help you PR your deadlift.

The loaf:
Lb ground beef
4 spicy sausages (I used Rowe farms hot Mexican)
one minced onion
2 shredded carrots
½ Cup almond Flour
1 or 2 eggs

Remove sausage casings.  Mix all of the above and put in a loaf pan.  See how it fits just perfect?  Oven at 350 for an hour.

The Way Better Than Ketchup Glaze:

Can of Tomato Paste
Salt, Pepper, Garlic
Tbsp of grainy mustard, olive oil and chili powder
Tsp of ginger
½ tsp of cinnamon
juice of 1 lime

Mix and heat for about 15 min.  I added half to the top of the loaf about half an hour in and saved the rest for the side of my plate for reheats.

Note: Since the sausage I used is pretty spicy and zippy, I didn’t add any other seasonings to the meat mixture.  If you try something like Italian Sausages, maybe add some of your own spicy zip.  Ole!

James’ variation on Jason’s Famous Zuc Noodles…

Loved Jason’s idea of zucchini spaghetti and everyone’s variations on it. This version has some diced pancetta, vine tomatoes, arugula as well as some left over ground beef.

Elizabeth’s “Simple Scotch Eggs”

I love eggs but don’t like choking down plain hard-boiled eggs when I need a portable protein snack. These are a super easy adaptation of scotch eggs with no breadcrumbs or other haute mess ingredients.

You need:
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3/4 lb ground pork
salt, pepper
Spice it up: I add about 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, a couple shakes of ground cloves, a couple shakes of garlic powder,1 tbsp of dried onion, 1+tbsp parsley (i use the paste bc I am lazy)

To make:
preheat oven to 375
put your pork and spices in a mixing bowl and mix it up with your (clean) hands. grab a handful, flatten it in your palm, add an egg and wrap it like you are making a snowball.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until it gets crispy and brown.

I have jury duty next week and intend to bring these in the hope that being the smelly egg woman will get me excused quickly.

That’s it for this week!  Stay tuned for next week’s recipe round-up!! 

Last week I recapped the best recipes from the first week of Quantum CrossFit‘s GET REAL nutrition challenge.  Once again, I am so impressed by everyone’s skillz in the kitchen!  People have been scouring the internet and Paleo cookbooks and posting their amazing creations.  In addition, they’ve been channeling their inner Julia Child to come up with some Haute-Ass original recipes.  Without further ado, here is the rundown of the ‘originals’  from this week (in no particular order):

Marina’s “Spaghetti” & Meat Sauce

Ok this was from Friday night and was relatively mundane but so delicious I have to post it. Basically meat sauce with zucchini spaghetti, idea I shamelessly appropriated from Jason and am keeping.

–      1 half pound natural bacon
–      1 onion
–      3 cloves of garlic
–      2 cups cremini mushrooms
–      2 lbs lean beef
–      
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
–      chili powder
–      
cumin
–      salt/pepper to taste
–      about 5 grated zuccchini for noodle simulation

Directions:
Basically I just sauteed bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms, added the beef and spices until cooked through, followed by tomatoes. Picture is sans zucchini. I was going to pour the sauce on top of the noodles but then decided that was too much work (I know, that lazy) and mixed it all together into one big pot of delicious.

Only took 15 minutes to put together, so will definitely be making it into the staple category.

 Jodi’s Awesome Quiche

Mmmmm (with warnings that I never measure when cooking)

Ingredients:
Crust:
About a cup of almond flour
Egg white

Quiche:
Dozen eggs
1 cup almond milk (approx)
coconut oil
12-15 sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups of spinach (cooked and chopped)
4-6 chopped shallots
salt and pepper

Directions:

Mix together almond flour and egg white so that the almond flour is damp but not overly wet and spread over the bottom of baking dish (I used a 9 X 13 pyrex dish). Bake in oven for 8-12 minutes at 375 until crust hardens.

For the filling, I started by cooking the shallots and mushrooms together in coconut oil and then steamed the spinach and chopped it up into small pieces seasoning with salt and pepper while cooking.

Beat the eggs together and add the almond milk. Add a few spoonfuls of the veggies and mix together. I added them slowly and missed because i didn’t let them cool and didn’t want the eggs to cook before it hit the oven, but if you let the veggies cool I don’t think it would be a problem. Not sure how much of a problem it would have been anyway but the baker in me always says if you are adding hot things to egg, do it slowly.

Once everything is added together to the mixture, pour it on top of the crust and bake in oven at 375 for 40 – 45 minutes until firm.

I finished by dividing into portions and wrapped them in saran in individual servings. Cooking for one means I left a few servings out and froze the extras individually ready to be taken out as needed!

Enjoy!

Anne’s Fav Breakfast – Ham Hock & Collard Greens
“The secret recipe for getting HUGE” 

My favourite breakfast.

Slow cook one smoked ham hock from pastured pork in broth, with a chopped onion and garlic, some Frank’s Hot sauce for a few hours. Add two bunches of chopped collards for another few hours. Remove meat from bone and if you like serve with eggs.

Jason’s Shrimp Volcano

My Gameday Submission…

Ingredients:
–      1.5lb bag of shrimp
–      
1/2 head of chopped rainbow chard
–      1 chopped onion
–      1 chopped red pepper
–      
lots of fresh chopped garlic
–      2 tsp curry powder
–      1 can coconut milk
–      parsley or cilantro

Directions:
Made this in maybe 20mins…toss it all together and used some spare pureed cauliflower from last night to put it in the center of.

Just finished watching a flick that was based in Hawaii (The Descendents), made me think of volcanoes I guess when I fired this together.

James’ Chinese Siu Yuk (Roasted Pork)

The best part of this is the crispy skin (crackling). That is what you are striving for when you’re cooking a slab of pork belly for Siu Yuk.

Ingredients:
3-4 lb Pork Belly (I order from Healthy Butcher)
2 tablespoons fermented red bean curd/tofu (optional since it is not strictly Paleo)
(You can get this from T&T or most Chinese/asian specialty stores)
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp white (or black) pepper
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
A little bit of butter or coconut oil
coarse kosher salt for sprinkling

Day Before:
1. Prepare marinade by mixing (be a curd, five spice powder, salt, honey, pepper, garlic together)
2. Boil enough water for pouring over pork belly (I use a tea kettle’s worth)
3. Put belly skin side up on a cooling rack in the sink
4. Pour boiling water slowly on top of the skin to blanch
5. Dry skin with a paper towel
6. Stab the skin all over with a sharp knife – You need lots and lots of holes … (take out your frustrations)
– Try not to stab all the way through the fat layer to the meat
7. Flip pork belly so that meat side is up
8. Every 1-2 cm’s, slide half a cm deep gashes with a sharp knife
9. Rub marinade generously into meat side
10. Flip back onto an oven tray skin side up. Wipe up any moisture or marinade that is left on skin surface. You want it to be completely dry.
11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Day of:

1. Preheat oven to 410 C
2. Prepare a roasting tray with a rack raised 2-3 centres. I use four small metal ingredient cups placed under the rack.
3. Oil the surface of the skin lightly with butter or coconut oil keep it from sticking to the rack
4. Place belly skin side down onto rack
5. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes
6. Take the roast out and flip the belly to be skin side up.
7. Stab some more holes with a sharp knife.
8. Sprinkle some coarse kosher salt on top and place back in oven for 15 minutes.
9. After 15 minutes, raise temp of oven to 430 C.
10. After 15 minutes, turn your broiler on to high.
11. Watch for the skin to crackle/crisp up to a golden colour….it is ok for it to burn a bit.
– Keep an eye on this … it can happen very quickly (within a few minutes)
12. Once you are satisfied with the crackle(ness) … take out
13. Using a butter knife, you can carefully scrape off the burnt areas.
14. Let cool a bit and then cut up into small rectangular bite sized pieces.

Mary Anne’s “cure for the common cold” – Sausage & Kale Soup

Stupid cold just doesn’t want to go away so here’s what’s for dinner: a hearty sausage and kale soup.

– remove casings and brown sausage (I used the garlic farmers sausage but I like it best with a spicy Italian) then throw in onions and garlic until translucent
– throw in a can of whole tomatoes and juice, mash them up a bit. Add broth (I used chicken)
– bring to a boil then simmer for a bit, stirring in chopped kale at the end

Quick, easy and delicious! I love tomato based soups.

Christine’s Gazpacho

I teach an all boys class. 
I am tired a lot (all) of the time and like to have as many ‘sides’ ready to go as possible. There are different ways of making your own tomato juice but I used a bottle.

Ingredients:
-1 cucumber halved and seeded but not peeled ( i have used both field and english versions)
-2 red bell peppers cored and seeded
-4 plum tomatoes
-1 red onion (small)
-garlic (i use 2 small-med or one giant clove)
-3 cups tomato juice
-1/4 cup white wine vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
-1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
Roughly chop the cuke, bell pepper, tomatoes, and red onion into 1 inch cubes. Put each veg separately into a food processor with steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Do NOT overprocess!
  After each veg processed combine them in a large bowl, add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and CHILL (the mixture) before serving. The longer is sits, the more the flavah develops!

Sam’s Bad Ass Bacon & The Most Beautiful Breakfast Bowl Ever

This is less of a recipe and just more of a cooking technique. I love oven roasting my bacon. No spattered cook top and it turns out perfectly every time.

Here is how I do it:

Lay bacon on a foil lined baking sheet. Place in a cold oven and set to bake at 400 degrees. Set a timer for 16 minutes. At 16 mins. Take out and flip. Bake for another 2 mins then check on it. Cook another minute or two depending on how crispy you like it. Keep in mind it will also crisp up a bit more when placed on paper towel for a bit. It’s important to use a timer as you will get it right every time and it leaves you free to prep other food without forgetting what’s in the oven. One last note, if you usually have thin sliced bacon you may want to reduce the initial time to 14 or 15 mins until you see how it cooks.

Breakfast salad: baby spinach, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs, blueberries and raw pepitas.

Stay tuned for more GET REAL recipes next week!!

We have just finished the first week of Quantum Crossfit‘s annual GET REAL Food Challenge.  I am so impressed with everyone’s enthusiasm thus far!  I am even more impressed by the fancy schmancy cooking skills that people are busting out…people have been pulling together some pretty epic meals!  As a result, I wanted to share some of the awesome recipes that some of the participants have been whipping up.  Without further ado (in no particular order:)):

Jason’s “curried meatballs dragged through the garden”

Meatballs:
– 
1lb grass fed ground beef
– 1lb naturally raised pork
– 1/3 med onion
– 1tsp minced fresh ginger
– 
1 clove minced fresh garlic
– 2 eggs
– 2tsp coconut flour
– 
2tsp coconut oil
– handful chopped fresh parsley
– salt, pepper
Directions: As you see fit

, mix all the stuff together, pack the 12 slots on a muffin tin. Toss it in oven at 300 for 15 mins or so and flip over in muffin tin once with a fork.

The Garden:
– 1 can coconut milk
– 
1tsp curry powder
– 2tsp minced fresh ginger
– 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
– 
1 bag fresh spinach
– the rest of the onion
– 1 pint mushrooms halved
– 1 pint grape tomatoes (as is)
– 
handful of chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Toss the stuff in a stir fry pan with 2 Tbsps of coconut oil, along with onion, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms. Then coconut milk, tomatoes and curry powder. Spinach and cilantro go in when you take meatballs out of oven.

Throw it all together and you’ve got yourself a magical meal.

Ashley’s Murg Kari (slightly modified from a retro Time Life book collection circa 1969…true story)

First, some curry-warrior tips from the master (aka: Ashley):

– Prep it all first, then start cooking.
Turmeric stains like red wine on white carpet at a Twister party. Beware! Plastic utensils, countertops, containers, fingers, you name it. It’s also really good for you.
– Replace the oil using whatever your Paelo-ness level dictates. Use the full 1/2 cup though, as the it remains in the pan to fry the onions etc.
– I left the skin on the chicken (out of forgetfulness vs. savvy adaptation). It still worked, it just sticks to the pan a bit. I also just used thights & legs.  I’m not a breast man.
– Use the individual spices (and fresh coriander a.k.a. cilantro & ginger), it makes a difference. On the other hand, buy the Garam Masala premixed at a store, or just leave it out.  I also used chili flakes instead of hot red pepper.  You can get chopped ginger in a jar, or grab a knob from any supermarket – use the back of a spoon to scrape off the skin.
– I leave out the yoghurt now, and it’s still @#%&ing good.  I served it on Cauli Rice, which I finally tried making in the Magic Bullet. It was @#%&ing magic.
– I always forget the lemon, so you may as well ditch it.
– Use a big skillet with a lid. It’s the only pan you’ll need.
OK here we go.

Murg Kari – Chicken Curry (To serve 4 to 6)
–  2 to 2½ pounds skinned chicken legs and thighs and boned, split chicken breasts
– 1 tsp ground hot red pepper
– ¼ tsp ground fennel, or fennel 
seeds pulverized with a mortar
 n pestle
– 3 tsp salt
–  ½ cup oil (Summer: I’d recommend coconut oil)
– ½ cup water
– 1½ cup finely chopped onions
– 1 cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes or substitute 1 c chopped, drained
–  1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
– 1½ tsp scraped, finely chopped fresh ginger root
– 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
– 1 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons of the salt. In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over high heat until a drop of water flicked into it splutters instantly. Add the chicken and fry for 3 or 4 minutes, turning the pieces about with a spoon until they are white and somewhat firm. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

2. Add the onions, garlic and ginger to the oil remaining in the skillet and, stirring constantly, fry for 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Reduce the heat to low, add the cumin, turmeric, ground coriander, red pepper, fennel and 1 tablespoon of the water, and, stirring constantly, fry for a minute or so. Stir in the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the fresh coriander, the yoghurt and the remaining teaspoon of salt.

3. Increase the heat to moderate and add the chicken and any juices that have accumulated in the plate. Pour in the remaining water. Bring to a boil, meanwhile turning the chicken about in the sauce to coat the pieces evenly. Sprinkle the top with the garam masala and the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander, reduce the heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.

To serve, arrange the chicken attractively* on a heated platter, pour the sauce remaining in the skillet over it, and sprinkle with the lemon juice.

*I love these home-maker directions calling out to us from 1969.

Garam Masala (just in case you’re crazy enough to make it yourself)

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1  teaspoon grated nutmeg

In sauté pan, over medium heat, add everything except for the nutmeg. Toast until dark, about 12 minutes, shaking the pan often.  Remove and cool.  Grind the spices in a spice mill or coffee grinder into a powder. Remove and stir in the nutmeg. Yield: about ½ cup..  Source: http://www.Foodnetwork.com

Amanda’s “pot of awesomeness”

no picture, but I’m sure it will make you do this….

I just made a pot of easy seasonal deliciousness (that turned out kinda borscht-ish), so I thought I would share. Food processor required or it is no longer easy!

Ingredients: Shred or thinly slice: leeks, carrots, a sweet potato, shallots (or onions), fennel bulb, beets (I used golden because I’m fancy).

Directions:
Sauté the leek and shallots in a big knob of gf butter or ghee, add other veggies after that magical thing happens when butter and leeks get together over some heat.

Throw in some garlic, a litre of veggie stock (and some water if you need more liquid), and 1 or 2 craploads of dill (bonus points if you have fresh. I used dried) and a can of coconut milk, salt and pepper. And probably more dill.

I like one pot meals, so I mixed and egg with some dill and garlic and s&p and made teeny meatballs that I dropped right in the simmering soup to cook.

It’s pretty boss, you guys.

Lisa’s “Fancy Pork Chops w/ Cauli-Mash Faux-tatoes”

Pork Chops – Ingredients:
– Pork Chops
– Onions
– Garlic
– Lots of mushrooms
– coconut milk
– mustard powder
– Salt and pepper

Directions: Fry some onions, garlic, & LOTS of mushrooms, remove that & brown the chops, throw it all back in and add a cup of coconut milk and mustard powder, S&P, simmer covered for about 10-15min. Serve on cauli-mash.

Garlic Mashed Cauli-tatoes
– 1 head cauliflower
– 2-3 cloves of garlic (your preference)
– grass-fed butter
– nutmeg
– pepper

Throw everything in a steamer until soft (really soft – mine was a little too firm and I ended up with a cross between cauli-mash and cauli-rice), then toss into food processor with a couple nubs of grass fed butter. Some nutmeg and pepper to taste. Process until really smooth.

Jack’s “Tower O Veggies” and other fun stuff

Layer one: Paleo Slaw
1 head cabbage
2 lg carrots
1 cup paleo mayo(homemade)
1/4 grated onion
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp powdered mustard
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp celery salt

1. Shred cabbage and carrots and onion in food processor.
2. In another bowl combine other ingredients.
3. Slowly add resulting mix to ground veggies.

Layer Two: Gai Lan (chinese broccoli)

Fry chopped Gai Lan in coconut oil with garlic and salt.

Layer Three: Burger!
1 lb ground beef
~1 cup almond meal
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

Mix in bowl, made four patties.

Layer Four: Garnish

Chopped onions fried in coconut oil
Half an avocado, sliced.

I would have added more meat in the form of bacon if I did this meal again.
Original Recipes made paleo from old recipes.

Drumroll please….I am extremely excited to share with you the King and Queen (winners) of Crossfit Quantum’s GET REAL Challenge!  Everyone who participated in the challenge did amazing and we saw some fantastic changes across the board!  I loved following each of your blogs and getting a window into what you were eating and how you were feeling.  I was so impressed with everyone’s dedication and commitment.  Your hard work has paid off and it amazes me to see what people can accomplish in 6 weeks.  MAJOR props go to all the people who stayed strict until the end and survived MANY wine and/or cupcake-infused occasions!  (Especially my brother in-law and his girlfriend who had to survive a few dinners with my mother in-law’s plethora of to-die-for desserts…I feel your pain).  It was a tough decision, but alas we can only have 1 King and 1 Queen.  READY?!?!  Here we go…

The KING of the GET REAL Challenge is the amazing Alber!!  Alber is working father of 2 who joined Crossfit Quantum a couple months ago – he jumped into the challenge with gusto and posted one of the most amazing transformations that we’ve seen to date.  Dropping 18 pounds, he practically shed a small person and gained a whole lot of compliments from everyone who was along for the ride.  Check out Alber’s transformation below – Do I even need to tell you which one was the before?

The QUEEN of the GET REAL Challenge is supa-fly Julia!! Julia is a busy nurse that gained her supa-fly status at the gym by competing in the 2011 Crossfit Games Open and other challenges.  She can rock pull-ups and has a mean back squat (…that makes me jealous).  Julia is living proof that pictures speak louder than the that stupid scale…she only lost a couple lbs over the 6 weeks, but she got riiiippped!  Check out her transformation here:

Thank you to both the King and Queen for allowing me to use their pics.  I know they will inspire others to GET REAL!

I asked Julia and Alber a few questions about the challenge to share their advise and experience.

What the challenge has done for you?

Julia:  This challenge has taught me about self control with food.  I thought before I had good control but while on this challenge I was able to test myself by being around large quantities of my “favourite bad foods”.  Just because I want it, and it is available, is no reason to dive in and eat it.  The self control aspect of this challenge was so difficult but in the end really rewarding.

Alber: The challenge has taught me how to treat my body with respect so that it rewards me with high levels of energy, physical power and mental confidence.  I learned what real food is and how the conventional North American diet fails us on so many levels.  I believe eating real food is the best way to allow my body to perform at its most optimal level, to be able to grow in strength as well as health and get closer to my top potential.

Did you find it easy or hard to stick with it for 6 weeks?

Julia: During the week and while at work it was not too difficult, I just had to be on top of planning meals and not leaving myself hungry while out in a public “tempting” atmosphere….Nurses LOVE sharing food and patients LOVE bringing us all sweet treats, which was hard at first.  The most difficult part of this diet was going away with friends for a weekend, or watching a sporting event at a pub.  Those places were torturous for my greasy fat filled taste buds.

Alber: I found it hard to eat only real foods for the 6 weeks.  I had to deny on numerous occasions my desire to eat sugary and carb loaded bad foods because I was dependent on them before.  However the motivation to eat REAL was always there, and with proper science backing up this new idea of “real food”, I was never de-railed from my goal to eat properly.

Where did you see the biggest improvement (how you look, feel or stuff at the gym?)?

Julia: I am not too sure if I saw any concrete improvements at the gym, that we would have to ask the CFQ crew to see if they noticed a difference (insert Summer’s comment: I saw you clean #110 the other day…I’d say you’re rockin it at the gym!), however I did feel WAY more energized in the morning.  I would wake up and feel awake and refreshed, instead of the usual lethargic and hazy feel.  My quality of sleep was definitely better and in so my energy in a day was higher than before.

Alber: I saw the biggest improvement on how I look.  I gained new muscle and lost fat.  I also gained strength throughout my body, which goes hand in hand with the increased muscle.  I can lift more, jump higher, skip better and all other movements have improved; but we are forever in our own skin, so the reminder of how I look better is the predominant improvement.

Summer: I love that you both mentioned how you FEEL and PERFORM better.  It goes WAY beyond just dropping some excess lbs and translates into every aspect of your life.  Yay!

Are you going to keep up with the lifestyle?

Julia: For the most part…YES.  I am so much more aware of the food I was packing away mindlessly prior to the challenge.  I have learned a whole bunch of new recipes and food ideas that are more body friendly then I was previously eating.  That being said now that the challenge is done, I have enjoyed indulging some weekend beers.  Oh beer I wish you were healthy! (Summer: I wish cupcakes were healthy!!)

Alber: I will most definitely keep up with this lifestyle.  I now feel guilty just thinking about eating grain products like bread and pasta because I know the health problems it can cause in both the long and short term.  Sugar is harder for me to stay away from and I have to try harder for me to resist that temptation.  But I look at grains, legumes, dairy and sugar now as one would look at regular excessive drinking or chain smoking: being detrimental to my health.

What is your advice to other people looking to GET REAL?

Julia: PLAN PLAN PLAN.  For the first few weeks making sure you are never left hungry or eating the same ol meals.  Searching for new recipes and being able to 100% say no to any food temptations for the first month.

Alber: My advice to others is to educate yourself on what you are putting in your system and ask hard questions about where the ingredients in your food come from, and learn what your body really needs to thrive.  Don’t give your body less or more then it needs.  Find out what the happy medium between hunger and overeating is, and which REAL foods you like because that will help you reach a new controlled and planned out way of eating that will last forever.  Get a slow cooker, get lots of new spices, start experimenting with easy recipes and try new real foods that seem fun and tasty to you.

What was your favourite REAL food to eat?

Julia: Sounds so lame but tuna was a new food I discovered while doing this challenge.  So easy and filling and you can put anything with tuna to change up the taste. And lets face it, the Healthy Butcher is pricey but the quality of meats I was eating was WAY more tasty….mmm meat…so yummy!

Alber: It’s hard to choose a favourite REAL food but I love sashimi, steak and broccoli.  I eat raw broccoli almost everyday, and for protein I love eating a tenderloin steak or fresh raw fish.

Congrats to you both…you both did AMAZING!  (And you made me proud….tear)

Until next time, keep it REAL!

Today marks the monumental close to Crossfit Quantum’s Spring Leaning 2010!  I would like to give a huge congrats to all the challengers who stayed strong until the bitter end.  It was not an easy 7 weeks – with weddings, birthdays, bachelor parties, trips to LA and Ireland – but you all stayed on track and I’m so proud.  You should be really happy with yourselves.  The winners will be announced on Friday once we’ve had time to review the pic’s and measurements.  I’ve already seen some big losses, so it’s going to be a close competition.  2 people are going home lean in the waist and heavy in the wallet.  The suspense is killing me!!

Now that the challenge is over, it’s time to put a plan in place to keep up the momentum.   You’ve worked so hard to get to this point, so don’t throw it all away by going back to your bad habits.  Here are some tips to keep you going:

  1. Be diligent with your meal planning and grocery shopping – don’t get lazy and decide you’re going to forgo food prep for the week.  As soon as you decide you’ll “just grab takeout for breakfast and lunch this week” instead of making it, you’re putting yourself at risk for getting back into old habits.  It only takes an hour to prep a bunch of good food to keep you going throughout the week. 
  2. Don’t forget the 80/20 rule – Aim for 100% perfection and net out at about 80%. This should allow you to maintain a social life and not go insane.  Be aware of what 20% really means….it’s really only about 2-3 meals per week.  Keep it clean as much as possible!
  3. Cheat smart – I’ve said this before and it needs to continue.  Don’t go on a bender and inhale a huge cake and pint of ice cream.  You can undo your hard work so much faster than it takes to reach your goal.  Save your cheats for something cheat-worthy, like a piece of homemade cake from my mother-in-law.  Not a soft serve from McDonalds.  Better yet, try to reach for a ‘paleo-friendly’ dessert like my strawberry-rhubarb crumble instead of the sugar, gluten and processed crap.  
  4. Be creative – It’s easy to fall into a trap of eating the same 5 meals every week and this can lead to cheating and cravings because you get bored.  Seek out new meats, veggies and recipes to keep things interesting.  It only takes 5 minutes to whip together a marinade that will make your chicken kebabs so much more delicious and interesting.  
  5. Spread the love – people are surely going to notice that you’ve shed some lbs (semi-primal husband is getting complimented like crazy! I’m going to have to carry a taser to keep the ladies away from him.)….tell them how you did it! Celebrate and share your successes in order to keep you motivated to stay on track.  Be proud of your accomplishments!  Spread the love by bringing a paleo-friendly dish to a dinner party to show your friends that it doesn’t have to be boring or weird to be delicious.  I brought a cabbage slaw and this sweet potato pie to a dinner party I was invited to last week…it was a big hit and no one realized it was Paleo-friendly.
  6. Set some more goals – set a new set of performance or body goals that you want to focus on until September.  Keep going throughout the summer and give yourself a new challenge to work on.  I’ve got to do this myself.  Don’t forget to write it down!
  7. Reflect – This process has probably made you realize some interesting things about yourself.  Take note of those things and remember them.   If you started performing better at the gym, slept better or had less cravings, fit into your booty-shorts etc etc, then remember that.  It was likely a result of your nutrition.  Save it as a reminder to help you continue with your clean eating.

Personally, I’ve learned a few things about myself through this process.  Going 30 days with no cheats, no wine or dairy is not easy.  But, I made it through with 100% paleo perfect for 30 days and I didn’t need to stay under house-arrest.  I’m also happy to report that  I didn’t kill anyone or ruin my marriage!  I was shocked that it wasn’t the desserts that I missed, rather it was the wine that I really missed.  Having a nice steak dinner on a Saturday night just isn’t the same without the wine pairing.  My crippling cravings for dessert have subsided and I’m able to be around cake without wanting to rip out my eyeballs.  The results really surprised me because I thought my diet was already pretty squeaky clean – I hit PR’s across all my lifts (except Press) during the challenge.  I got my 5 dead hang pull-ups and 1 hand-stand push-up.  The scale might not be going down for me, but all my other numbers are going up and I couldn’t be happier.  Of course, this is also a testament to the amazing programming and coaching at Crossfit Quantum – awesometown it is.

Big congrats to all the Spring Leaners and cheers to a fantastic summer!!

YAYAYAYAY!!!!!  YAY! Congrats to all our Crossfit Quantum Spring Leaners for making it through the 30 day induction period!!  We’ve already seen some huge gains (or losses!) from some of our participants….Big gains in PRs, LOTS of deadhang pull-ups, and lost inches and pounds!  Congrats to our 1/2 marathon runners who took on their first Paleo-powered run this past weekend!  AND a big shout-out goes to Crossfit Quantum member and fellow paleo-enthusiast Elanna who made it through to the Crossfit Games in California!  We’ve still got 3 weeks left until the challenge ends and that means there is time for even more wins. I’m so happy for everyone so far!

Now that the first 30 days are done, it’s time to check in on your progress. The big questions are: How are you feeling?  How are you looking?  Is your performance improving?  Hopefully you’re seeing positive improvements in all of these areas.  And if you’re not, don’t worry, because we’ve got 3 more weeks to keep workin on it!

The end of the first 30 days also means that we move onto Phase 2.   Phase 2 is where you can introduce some things back into your diet and allow for some ‘cheats’.  Phase 2 is the perfect time for you to figure out the best way to adapt clean eating into your life so that it sticks beyond the challenge.  

Depending on your goals or if you’re looking for more dramatic and fast changes, then sticking with the induction guidelines would be best.  You have to decide what you want to do based on your goals. 

Check out the Spring Leaning page for specifics on Phase 2.  After you’ve checked those out, here are some tips for success:

  1. Try 1 Day and Wait and See:  If you want to try adding some dairy back into your diet, add it in for one day and wait and see how you feel.  How is your tummy?  How’s your #2?  Not so good? You might find that you’re sensitive to dairy…I did this test and realized pretty quickly that I have a sensitivity if I have too much.  If you seem to be OK with some Dairy, it should be in limited amounts and quality is key.  Dairy induces an insulin response and not healthy for your gut – this is why we recommend that you keep it out, however I understand that coffee tastes better with a wee bit of cream/milk (especially Tim Hortons! That stuff is like cow pee when you drink it black….so gross). 
     
  2. Aim to be perfect 100% of the time and net out at 80%-90%.  Allowing for some ‘cheats’ is psychologically rewarding and a great way to have balance in your life.  Having some drinks or a treat once in a while is totally fine.  Put your best effort into making everyday perfect, but when you’ve got a bad craving or social outing don’t feel guilty about indulging…..just keep it to between 10-20% of the time.  So if you eat 3 meals per day, you have 21 opportunities to eat during the week.  Therefore, you could have about 2-3 cheats.  Unless your cheat is a big binge, then limit it to one time.  You get the idea….Use your discretion and always keep your goals in mind.  Check out my Recipe Index for some Paleo-ized desserts!
     
  3. Don’t fall totally off the wagon!  It’s so easy to kick off your Paleo shoes and celebrate the end of the first 30 days by binging on cupcakes, wine, pizza, beer, chocolate bars and chips (maybe it’s just me who does stuff like that? i can be a savage.).   Be smart about it….don’t turn a treat into a bender or a big binge.  You can undo your work so much faster than it takes to get there.  I know I can easily pack on 5 extra Lbs in a weekend, but it would take me a month to lose it.  Don’t forget what you’ve worked so hard for!  Don’t forget how you all felt on Day 1 after your pre-challenge binge…sugar asthma!?!?! And don’t forget how you felt when you got that PR, pull-up or didn’t need to wear a loose blouse to cover your muffin top!
     
  4. Start thinking beyond the challenge.  This is a permanent lifestyle change that will lead to long-lasting health and wellness – now is the time to start planning how you’re going to keep working this program into your life.  Think about what’s working for you and what is not.    If you’re not happy with certain aspects of eating clean (bored? not seeing results?), now is the time to ask for some guidance and support.  

And finally, some deep thoughts from Semi-Primal Husband who is participating in this challenge and has made huge improvements in his eating (I’m so proud!):

“I thought I would miss cream in my coffee the most, but I don’t think I’ll go back to having it.  I’m really enjoying my Americano black.”
“Those olives (stuffed with almonds! paleo bonus!) are really satisfying.  You need to eat stuff like this to satisfy your cravings.”
As we’re eating bacon-wrapped Elk tenderloin…“This is the kind of thing you should give someone starting this challenge to show them that eating this way can feel indulgent and that it doesn’t need to be boring”
“I still miss my beer.” 

Keep up the amazing work everyone!!