Monday, January 30, 2012

30Day Paleo Update, 2 RKC Training workouts and Paleo friendly Meatloaf

It's hard to believe that 3 weeks are down and I'm in the last week of Robb Wolf's 30Day Total Transformation, or the Paleo Challenge as I like to call it.

I can honestly say that this challenge has been EASY!!!!!

I, in no way, shape or form thought I would say that cutting out beans and grains and eating meat would be easy. I'm loving food much more these days and I have a feeling that 30 days will come and go and the "challenge" won't end for me.

I've said before that I don't think I want to give up beans forever, and certainly not unrefined, whole grains as well, but I just need to see how I'm going to feel after I add them back.
In line w.the Paleo lifestyle is Primal, something I'm going to check into as well, after the 30 days are up. I do believe that Primal allows raw milk cheese?? I'm interested in that :) I like cheese :)
Who knows?
What I need to happen is I need to stay on top of my game, nutrition wise, so that I can continue on my road to RKC, which brings us to the last 2 workouts of my program from Mike Perry, RKCII, of Skill of Strength.

From Sat January 28th

3TGUS each side - 12kg - Feeling MUCH stronger TGUs

Chin-ups-5X2 - Was able to complete 4 of these sets pretty easily, last one was hard

KB Deadlifts-4X5, 2 sets w.32kg, 2 sets, uneven bells, 20kg/24kg

KB Presses- 2,3,5 X 2 - 14kg/12kg - Used both the 14 and 12kg bells - getting stronger

Single Arm Swings - 5x6 each side - 16kg, 5x6 each side - 20kg
- Getting better one arm 20kg swings. It's my hand and forearms that are the limiting factor here.

From Mon January 30th
4 TGUs per side, then switch - 12kg - Again, feeling much more confident in my TGU

GTG Chin ups - Sets of 1 - Total 10 throughout the day - Getting them done :), 2 left....

Heavy Single Arm DL 4X5 each arm - 24kg

Clean, Squat, Press Complex 2,3,4X4 each side - 3X12 and 1X14kg - Last time I used the squat into press for power. Mike instructed me not to do that, so I had to drop the weight down to 12kg. This complex is evil!! 4 rounds is pretty tiring :)

Alternate Swings 6 Sets of 16 (8 per side) - 3x16kg and 3x20kg - As I wrote above, my hand and forearms fail first

Without a doubt I am getting stronger, and that's a good thing.....How about some Paleo individual meatloaves? I got some nice grass fed beef from Hardwick Beef, a farm approximately 40 minutes down the road. I decided to make some meatloaves out of it.

1 lb Grass Fed ground beef
3 garlic cloves, run over microplane
2 medium carrots, grated
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup Paleo approved BBQ sauce
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the garlic cloves, grated carrot, and grated onion together.

2. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until only just combined; overworking the beef will result in a tough meatloaf.

3. Split 4 ways into mini loaf pans, or alternatively, form 1 loaf in a 9X5 loaf pan.

4. Bake until cooked through, 160 degrees, approximately 25 min for mini loaves and 55 min for large loaf; best to check w.a meat thermometer.

The addition of the BBQ sauce adds moisture and a smokey flavor. The individual size means you won't overeat :) I served the loaves with baked sweet potatoes and a raw kale and arame salad. The meal was delicious and I wish I had doubled the time for sure, as the meatloaves will freeze great (if they stay around long enough to go in the freezer!!).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

30 Day Paleo Transformation Update, My Wednesday workout this week and Thai Chicken Stew,

I can't believe that it's already Day 19 of my 30 day Paleo transformation (Robb Wolf's 30 Day Total Transformation). I can honestly say that his has been an easier journey then I thought it was going to be.

To recap, Paleo is based on eating lean, grass fed and pastured meats, wild caught fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, healthy fats. It does not include grains, beans/legumes, white potatoes, dairy, processed foods and sugar (though some Paleo/Primal followers include full fat milk , butter, cheese from grass fed animals). I went from about 80% plant based to 80% animal protein based.

I've been eating local, cage free eggs, grass fed beef and pasture raised meats from Stillman's Farm, just 40 minutes from my house, wild caught salmon, sardines, tons of veggies/fruits, including sweet potatoes.

So, yeah, do I yearn for "harder" carbs other then those I'm getting in fruit and veggies? Sure, sometimes I do. But in all honesty, I felt so bogged down when I was filling myself up w.grains and beans and breads and sweets etc. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my body. My workouts have been strong and that was one of my primary reasons for trying Paleo - to get more protein with the hopes of building my strength.
11 more days of the transformation to go.

Here's one of my workouts from this I prepare for the RKC, I'm working with Mike Perry of Skill of Strength. He has written a 3 workout rotation to do for 4-6 weeks.
Wednesday January 25, 2012

Turkish Get Ups 5/5, Alternating sides every time - 3X10kg, 2x12kg - Already a huge improvement in the way the Get Up feels from just last week. My next workout (tomorrow) includes TGUs and I'm ready to try just the 12kg.

Heavy KB Deadlift 2x5...32kg- unfortunately, this is the heaviest bell I have...I have easily DL'd the 44kg bell but do not have access to it all the time....

KB Press 2X5...14kg - feeling stronger...the 16kg press is in my sites....

Goblet Squat 2X5...20kg - felt like I could have gone up to 24kg....

2 Hand Swing Ladder, 8 rounds, 5/5/5 w. 16kg, 20kg and 24kg - felt good, used good hip snap...

Getting stronger!

Now, on to the sustenance....I was inspired to make this Thai Chicken Stew by Adrienne Harvey, of She posted on FB about a chicken coconut soup she had made and so I felt compelled to make one as well. I happened to have just picked up some local (from VT) chicken breasts from Misty Knoll Farms.
I cut the pound of breasts up into smallish dice, 1-2inches, and I marinated them in kaffir lime leaves, ginger and garlic, as well as a few dashes of Red Boat Fish Sauce, for about an hour. Kaffir lime leaves are fragrant and delicious, and add that signature Thai flavor to dishes.

So, here's around 6 leaves, minced, with 5-6 grated garlic cloves, and a 2 -3 inch piece of ginger, also grated:
After marinating, I sauteed the chicken in coconut oil until brown, then added about 1 tsp of a chile paste. For a spicier stew, add more chile paste.

Next I added in my veggies, which were chopped broccoli and zucchini, and let them sweat for a bit before adding in coconut milk, about 2 cups as well as another few dashes Red Boat Fish Sauce. I let it simmer for about 15 minutes, and lastly added in chopped kale. After simmering for about 5 minutes, I finished it off with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some chopped dill. I used dill because that is what I had. I would have preferred to use cilantro, but the dill worked fine as well.

The stew was warming, hearty and really delicious.

It got better over the next few days and made for great lunches for the first half of the week.

Coming up in the blog, a Paleo friendly meatloaf and review of Paleo Snax Almond Raisin Cookies.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adrienne Harvey of posted one of my Chia pudding recipes last week! In case you missed it, check it here: Chia Pudding Parfait

Chia Pudding Parfaits from Sharon Shiner, HKC


A surprisingly easy but delicious treat loaded with nutrition!


1⁄4cchia seeds (Sharon likes to use a mix of black and white seeds for contrast)
1⁄2ccoconut water (Alterntely use almond milk, or slightly watered down coconut milk)
1Tcoconut nectar (Or more if you wish to have a sweeter pudding)
1pnsea salt
1cmixed fresh berries (or your favorite fruit on hand)
2Tshredded coconut, unsweetened (check the bulk bins!)
1 zest of a lemon (just a few pinches will do)
1 zest of an orange (just a few pinches will do)


I enlisted the help of Sharon Shiner, personal fitness chef and HKC to share her favorite creative use of chia seeds. The kind I'll be using are from The Chia Co and can be found at GNC. Delicious!!!

GiryaGirl: I've been sent 10 tons of chia seeds, what to do what to do?!

Sharon: Chia pudding! It's totally yummy. The texture takes some getting used to, but otherwise it's killer.


1. Mix chia seeds and coconut water and let them sit for about 10 minutes. One of the properties of the seeds is that they absorb liquids, forming a gel. This gel becomes the "pudding".
2. Stir in the sweetener and pinch sea salt.
3. Top with berries, coconut and zests.

That's it!!!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review of Improv'Eat Coconut Pure Wraps and RKC Program Update

It's Sunday January 22 - I'm 2 weeks into my 30 Day Total Transformation. It's Day 15.....Had a tough workout today - the Day 2 workout of my plan from Mike Perry, Skill of Strength. He has written a 3 day kettlebell workout plan for me, and I will do it for 4-6 weeks.
Day 2 consists of:
TGU 4 on each side - 3x10kg and 1x12kg

Grease the Gear (GTG) Chinups - done in sets of just 1 - total 10 for the day - during the workout, I got 7 in and finished the last 3 throughout the day.

Single arm deadlift - 4x5 each arm - 20kg (patiently waiting for my new bells (16kg, 24kg, 32kg) from DragonDoor - hopefully tomorrow, then I can go heavier on my deadlifts and swings)

Clean, Squat, Press Complex - not putting bell down until all reps are done in the set,
2,3,4 X 4 sets each side - 3X14kg and 1x12kg

Single arm swing 6x16 (8 each side) - 1x14kg, 3x16kg, 2x20kg

Felt good, a bit tired though.
Things I'm working on: hip hinge, hip snap, and letting bell float on my swings and proper alignment on TGUs.
How'd I do today? I think I did much better hip hinge, snap and letting the bell float. When I single arm swing the 20kg bell, the handle is thick and so I'm noticing my hand and forearm get fatigued very quickly. I hope that as I swing the more, my hand will become accustomed to having the heavier bell in it. I'd hate to be feeling great on my swings, but to be limited by my hand strength.
My TGU is getting better, but still not close to where I would like it to be.

After workout, I immediately had some sweet potato and my CoCa Smoothie to recover (coconut milk, frozen banana, almond milk, raw cacao powder and nibs, raw honey and maca).
Other food today included for Breakfast: eggs, scrambled in coconut oil w.Canadian bacon and regular bacon, Lunch: grass-fed beef taco w.homemade salsa and avocado in a Improv'Eat coconut wrap, Snack: Berries and Dinner: Thai Chicken Stew w.zucchini, broccoli and kale w.a baked sweet potato on the side. Want to know more about the coconut wrap I ate w.lunch? Read on!

Improv'Eat Pure Wraps Coconut Flavor

Improv'Eat is the company that makes the coconut wraps, made simply from coconut meat and coconut water and Himalayan sea salt. The wraps are raw and are gluten free. They come in plain or curry. Since I'm not a huge fan of curry flavored things, I got just the plain wraps to try.
They come 4 wraps to a package for $4.99, so a bit pricy at just over a dollar a wrap. One wrap has 60 calories, 2.5 g fat (Sat fat), 8g carb, less than 1g fiber, less than 1g sugar, 0g protein.

The texture is interesting, sturdy and soft yet pliable. At first, I was worried about putting moist ingredients in the wrap, but they are durable, not sogging up, at all. They are easy to wrap up into a roll up or a burrito.
The taste is not overbearing, with a subtle coconut flavor.

So overall, it's got nice texture, good flavor and it makes a good alternative to a tortilla. The one drawback is the price: 4 for $4.99 plus shipping can get pricy.

Here's some examples of how I used the wraps:

Breakfast Burrito with Scrambled Eggs and Whitefish

Grass Fed Beef Burger Wrap with yellow pepper, avocado and parsley

Good stuff.
Coming up, Thai Chicken Stew and a review of Paleo Snax Almond Raisin Paleo Cookie

Friday, January 20, 2012

Training update, 30Day Paleo Update and Paleo friendly Root Veggie Pancakes

I'm just about done with my first 2 weeks of Robb Wolf's 30Day Total Transformation; today marks Day 13!
In my last update, I reported that I was sleeping great, eating great and feeling strong. Today is no different. What is interesting to me is that (and guys, I apologize for going here), today I started my menstrual cycle. I usually have the most extreme sugar cravings for 3-4 days prior. I did not experience that at all! Amazing, really. Yesterday, I noticed I was extremely hungry, and did have sugar cravings, but nothing like I'm used to dealing with. I also usually get intense cramps on the first day or 2, and so far, I haven't had any!!!
The spike in hunger continued today, but w.out the sugar cravings...the spike in hunger might have something to do workout schedule which looks something like this for the past 3 days:

Wednesday Jan 18, Day 11 - Teach Spin 6:30PM

Thursday Jan 19 Day 12 - Teach Kettlebell classes, 5:30am, 6:15am, 9:30am, then did my own kettlebell workout (detailed below)

Friday Jan 20 Day 13 - Teach Spin 6:15am, Teach Kettlebells 9:30am (where I did ~100 wings w.24kg bell)

So, increase in hunger noted....I am teaching kettlebells again tomorrow morning....When I teach the kettlebell class, I'm not necessarily doing the workout with the class, but I am teaching, moving, demonstrating, concentrating, etc. It takes energy. When I taught today, I managed to get 100 swings in w.the 24kg bell....

I've continued to eat some great meals including pulled pork w.collard greens and onions, grass fed beef tacos and home made salsa, and pan seared wild coho salmon. Food continues to taste amazing. I'm looking forward to the next 2 weeks of the challenge.

RKC Training update
Last week I had a 1:1 training with Mike Perry of Skill of Strength and this week I received the first workout plan from him. It includes 3 workouts per week that I will be doing for 4-6 weeks.
The goal is to build strength and focus on technique.
Since most of my work will be done at home, I had to get some heavier bells and so I am waiting for them to come in - I ordered a 16kg thinner handle bell, as well as (1) 24kg and (1) 32kg bell. While I'm waiting for the bells to come in, I'm doing the program the best I can.

Yesterday I did Day 1: it will be interesting to note my progress in a month's time....The weight I used is in bold.
Turkish Get Ups - 3 reps per side, then switch, spend 5 (s) in each position - 10kg

Chin Ups 5X2 - To date, I am able to do 1 unassisted chin up at a time. I did 3X2 chin ups, resting in between each chin up. My last 2 sets I was just barely coming to top of bar.

Heavy KB Deadlift 4X5 - 44kg

KB Press Ladder 2,3,5 X2 - 12kg

Single Arm Swings, 6 reps each side X10 - I did 8 rounds w.16kg and 2 rounds w.20kg

I'm looking forward to doing this program and hope that I can make some strides in my strength over the next 4 weeks.

Paleo Friendly Root Veggie Pancakes
Because root veggies are so abundant this time of year, I decided to make a root veggie pancake with some of the local produce I picked up at the Somerville Winter Market last week. This recipe couldn't be easier.

I grated a yam, a turnip, a beet and an onion on a box grater, on the largest hole.

To the grated veggies I added 2 beaten eggs, ~ 1/4 cup coconut flour, S+P and chopped parsley.
I formed 1/4 inch thick patties and fried them in coconut oil over medium heat.
They were very yummy....hearty, earthy from the beet and totally satisfying. The pancakes keep well and reheat great in a toaster oven, so it would be worth it to make a double batch and keep them in the fridge. This recipe made 8 pancakes, and they were gone the next day.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can use any root veggies you like. So, if you don't like beet, then don't use it. Some other suggestions would be to use rutabagas, parsnips or celery root.
Let me know if you try a different combo out!
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The easiest salmon you'll ever make!

Just a quick post, since I just finished cooking this delicious salmon and wanted to share it with's a piece of beautiful, wild Coho salmon.
Wild salmon should be a big part of a Paleo diet, and as some of you know, I've been following Robb Wolf's 30 Day Total Transformation, which includes a Paleoithic diet, a diet rich in wild fish and grass fed meats, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.
Eating wild salmon vs farmed salmon will give you more of the Omega Fatty acids, the essential fatty acids that all bodies need. To name a few benefits, the Omega 3 Fatty Acids are supposedly linked to lowering heart disease and stroke,  and are said to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Lastly, the wild salmon is a superfood! It's a great source of protein, being made up of all essential amino acids (those amino acids that can not be made by the body and must be eaten), B vitamins, selenium, Vitamin E and Zinc. Here is the nutritional info for a 1/2lb piece, taken from the Fisherman's Direct website:
Nutritional Information: One ½ lb. fillet of Coho Salmon has 289 calories, 42.8 grams of protein, 11.7 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of saturated fat and 91 milligrams of sodium. 

Here, all I did was season the fillet with sea salt and pepper, lemon juice and fresh chopped dill. I then placed it in a moderately hot pan, with a small layer of coconut oil in it, flesh side down, and seared it off. I flipped it once to finish the cooking. The fillet is about 1.25lbs, and about 3/4inch thick. It was done cooking in about 8 minutes. It's moist, flaky and tender.
If you can find wild salmon, of any type, please try it. It's a "health" food and tastes delicious as well!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Talking Food and Fitness w.Adrienne Harvey of

A couple weeks back, Adrienne Harvey, RKCII, from and I had a great conversation about what ingredient to throw out of your pantry, strategies for not getting bored making healthy meals and working out in Hardstyle fashion....
Here's the sure to check it out, or read below!

Q&A With Sharon Shiner, HKC and Personal Chef with a Fitness Focus

Sharon Shiner and I are twitter friends, and through one conversation or another started talking about kettlebells and food (imagine that?!) I found out more about her -and her HKC certification, her passion for kettlebell fitness, cooking, etc and just HAD to start asking questions. Here's our email conversation for you to check out!

Adrienne: You earned your personal chef degree in 2007 and have quite the collection of certifications and memberships. What's your advice for someone interested in becoming a Personal Fitness Chef?

Sharon: When I started Thyme To Cook 5 years ago, I did it already having the knowledge of how to cook under my belt. What I didn't have was the knowledge on how to run a personal chef business. It was critical for me to learn how to "be" a personal chef on a day to day basis. It was only then that I felt comfortable moving on to get more culinary education such as the personal fitness chef certification and most recently, my certification as a Health Educator in raw/living foods and vegan nutrition. My best advice would be to learn the business side of being a personal chef before taking the plunge.

Adrienne: As a nutrition coach, what's the ONE THING everyone should go to their pantry and throw away or donate RIGHT NOW?

Sharon: WHITE RICE!!! I have a bone to pick with white rice!!! But seriously, getting rid of white rice and swapping in brown rice, or other gluten free grains like millet, quinoa or even amaranth make a huge nutritional difference. White rice is basically devoid of nutrition. One serving of brown rice is going to give you 5 grams of protein as well as 4 grams of fiber…white rice is going to give you nothing but empty calories. It's an easy switch that makes sense. Start with adding the brown rice, then move on to the other whole grains I mentioned.

Adrienne: Or go grain free Primal or Paleo and use the white rice to dry out your phone should it happen to get wet! Just don't eat it.

Adrienne: What do you find is the most common excuse for people eating unhealthy food?

Sharon: I hear many different excuses with a) I don't have time to cook healthy meals and b) It's too expensive to eat a healthy diet, being the most popular. I can understand being overwhelmed with working and feeling like you don't have time to get a healthy meal on the table. What I tell people is to dedicate some time on Sunday afternoons to cook up a big batch or 2 of something that can pull you into the work week, like a chili or a stew of some sort. You can also cook some lean protein which can be morphed into other meals quickly on a weeknight, such as chicken breast or a lean steak, like a sirloin. Use the pre-cooked protein in a quick stir fry with veggies that you've already cut up on Sunday for a fast dinner. It's doable, it just takes a bit of planning.

Adrienne: What's the most popular healthy meal you make as a personal chef?

Sharon: One favorite seems to be what I call Beans and Greens. It's such a versatile dish that can be used for both meat eaters and vegetarians. For meat eaters I use a smoked sausage for flavor and protein, add in aromatics such as garlic and onions, some chicken broth, a bean, such as cannellini and a green, such as kale or collard greens. All those yummy ingredients stew together for about 20 minutes, and it's absolutely delicious. For vegetarians, I just omit it the sausage.

Adrienne: What's your favorite strategy to fight off boredom and bring in variety with healthy meals?

Sharon: One basic thing that everyone can do to keep it real in terms of maximizing nutrition and variety is to rotate your greens, your grains, your protein and your flavor profiles. What I mean is, one day you might have spinach, so the next you have kale, and then the day after that Swiss chard. By rotating your greens, you ensure that you are getting a mix of the different the micro nutrients the different greens have to offer. The same goes for your grains, one day having brown rice, the next quinoa and the day after that millet. Pair your greens and your grains with a mix of lean proteins and veggies and tie it all together with differing flavors; one day use garlic, ginger, soy and cilantro for an Asian flare, the next use garlic, onions, oregano and lemon for a Mediterranean flare, etc. If you approach cooking like that, the possibilities are endless!

Adrienne: You're obviously extremely busy with owning your own business, how do you fit your workouts into your routine?

Sharon: Exercise is probably the most important thing to me and it must be part of my life; I found group exercise in 1984 as a chubby sophomore in high school and it's been with me ever since. I do many of my workouts at 5AM before my kids have to get up for school. It's tough to get up that early to work out, but I understand that if I don't do it then, I will not get to work out at all. I work part time, so on the days that I don't work, I am fortunate enough to be able to go to workout with my peers. Whether on my own or with my peers, exercise is always a part of my daily routine.

Adrienne: What's the best way for someone to find a stellar personal chef with a fitness/healthy approach?

Sharon: There are a couple ways to find personal chefs, one which is, a website dedicated to finding personal chefs based on your zip code. On that site, chefs have the opportunity to list their specialities, such as fitness chef, veg chef, special diet chef (gluten free) etc. You can also just do a search on google for personal chefs in your area. Or if you're in Boston, you can just call me!!! :)

Adrienne: All that talk about food made me want to work out - what's one of your favorite quick kettlebell workouts?

Sharon: One of my favorite quick kettlebell workouts is what I call a 30 (sec) Step Workout. It's a progression workout that is great for building endurance where you work 30seconds, rest and repeat, adding on every 30 seconds. It looks something like this:

30 sec Goblet Squat 30 sec Rest
30 sec Goblet Squat, 30 sec Figure 8s, 30 sec Rest
30 sec Goblet Squat, 30 sec Figure 8s, 30 sec Push Ups, 30 sec Rest
30 sec Goblet Squat, 30 sec Figure 8s, 30 sec Push Ups, 30 sec Swings, 30 sec Rest
30 sec Goblet Squat, 30 sec Figure 8s, 30 sec Push Ups, 30 sec Swimgs, 30 sec RKC plank, 30 sec Rest

Repeat a few times :) Substitute in exercises that would work best for you.

Adrienne: I love workouts with this structure - they're difficult and fun. Thanks so much for sharing all this with me - and I look forward to hearing from you again!

About Sharon:

Sharon Shiner has been cooking for her whole life. 5 years ago she took the plunge and turned her passion into her career, starting Thyme To Cook Personal Chef Service. She is also passionate about fitness, and has been involved in group exercise for over 20 years. Sharon is a certified Mad Dogg Athletic Spinning instructor and in September, 2011, became certified by Dragon Door in their entry level kettlebell program, getting her Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC). Sharon pairs her love for food and fitness, cooking healthy meals for people, giving cooking lessons and seminars and teaching fitness classes in the Boston area. Please visit her website to learn more about Sharon and her services,, and check out her Facebook page, where she posts about all the delicious foods she's cooking.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cube Steak with Wild Mushrooms, Week 1 Update 30 Day Paleo Total Transformation, and RKC update

Paleo Friendly Cube Steak with Wild Mushrooms (Recipe below)
First things first. I wanted to report back after my first full week of eating Paleo, following Robb Wolf's 30 Day Total Transformation.
I've reported a couple times what I have been eating. If you've read those posts you can see that I've been eating very well. That's my first observation following the Paleo diet: you eat well, you eat clean and it's expensive. Buying local meats, including grass fed beef and wild salmon and other fish costs money. For me, it's ok, I can afford it. Not sure how someone who is financially challenged might navigate the price tag though.
Overall, I am feeling great.
I have more energy.
I'm sleeping better.
When I eat a meal, I get filled up faster.
I'm less hungry in between meals.
I feel strong during my workouts.
Food tastes amazing to me, better than ever.
Lots of pluses and not too many minuses, other than how expensive the diet can be. For me, it's worth it. I put food as the highest priority, in line with fitness, for my good health.
For this to work for me, I also need to ensure that the meat I am eating is meat that comes from a local farm, with ethical practices or else I can't eat it.
I'm looking forward to Week 2!

RKC Update
This Saturday, I had a 1:1 with RKC 2 Michael Perry, from Skill of Strength. It was an excellent session. He worked on my Get Up and taught me the Get Up Dance! I need to work on getting the bottom half of my Get Up seamless.
Next we worked on my swing. While doing my swing, right off the bat, Mike noticed my right knee was buckling a bit but the left one wasn't. He filmed me so I could see what he was talking about. So, we worked on correcting that.
He also thought my swing was too squatty and didn't have enough hip hinge. We worked on some drills to get my hips hinging deeper.
Lastly with the swing, Mike made the observation that I need to go heavier. Swinging the 16kg bell isn't enough for me anymore and in order to get better, I need to go heavier.
We then worked on the snatch. Bottom line, I need to use my hips more. I have so much power and I'm not tapping in to it.
To finish, Mike worked on opening up my shoulders/lats a bit as well.
To train for RKC, I'm having Mike write me a program to follow. He is currently training his wife Amanda, from Sistas of Strength for her RKC, and she is doing great!
Updates to follow for sure!!

Now, onto the food!
Here's a Paleo friendly recipe for Cube Steak with Mushrooms - done in pressure cooker, but you could easily cook this in the slow cooker or on the stove.
Cube steak comes from the round part of the beef, which is the rump. It's a thin steak that is usually pounded out to tenderize.

1-2 lbs Cube steak
1/4 cup coconut flour
S+P to taste
1 onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lbs wild mushrooms (I used a mix of trumpet, chanterelles, and oyster)
1 cup beef broth (or more if your pressure cooker or crock pot needs more liquid)
Fresh herbs of choice (I used thyme, savory and rosemary)
Parsley, chopped

1. Season the coconut flour with S+P, then dredge the cube steaks in it.
2. Brown the cube steaks in coconut oil until brown; set aside.

3. Start to brown onions and garlic, seasoning w.S+P. To the aromatics, add the mushrooms and cook down until they start to release their moisture. Add fresh herbs and stir.

4. (If using a slow cooker, transfer the aromatics and mushrooms to the pot now and proceed as directed.) Add back the cube steak and add beef broth. Put cover on pressure cooker, bring up to pressure (15 psi) and cook for 6 minutes with a natural release. If using a slow cooker, cover and cook for 3-4 hrs on high. If using the stove, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes; check to see if steak is done, it should be very tender. Let it cook longer if it's not quite tender enough.

5. After the pressure has dropped for 10 minutes, release any pressure that might remain and open up the pot. The beef should be quite tender.

6. Test for seasoning, adjusting with S+P if necessary. Top with fresh, chopped parsley.

Coming up next in the blog, a Paleo friendly root veggie pancake and a review of Improveat's Coconut Wraps!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pork and Carrot Curry w.Sweet Potatoes and Spinach and a Paleo update

It's Day 6 of my 30 Day Total Transformation by Robb Wolf! I'm feeling good overall. Today I've had some real cravings for sweet bready stuff like cupcakes or cookies...not giving into it though....I'm recognizing the craving and sending it on it's way.
I've been feeling strong in my workouts, which is the goal of this program for me.
And no, I didn't weigh myself to see if I'm going to drop weight. I can see in the mirror how things are going for me. I actually can't believe that I'm almost done with my first week. It has flown by.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day 4 January 11, 2012
Evening workout: Spinning
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, cooked in coconut oil, from Stillman's farm w.Canadian Bacon and mixed roasted veggies

Snack: Vermont Smoke and Cure RealStick....check them out here: MEATSTICK! Basically, it's a mixed beef and pork, cured meat stick. Delicious!! Here's the nutrition info:
1 oz stick: Calories: 80; Total Fat, gm: 6; Saturated Fat, gm: 2.5; Trans Fat, gm: 0; Sodium, mg: 230; Total Carb, gm: 0; Protein, gm: 6
Lunch: Leftover Cube Steak and Mushrooms with Spinach
Snack: 2 Satsuma mandarins and a mix of blueberries and raspberries
Preworkout CoCa Smoothie
Dinner: Salad with greens, carrots, beets, smoked salmon and avocado and a side of baked sweet potato
Day 5 January 12, 2012
Workout was mid-morning, a Kettlebell Fusion workout
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs in coconut oil and Canadian bacon, sweet potato
Post workout - 1.5 pieces Canadian Bacon and the CoCa Smoothie
Lunch: Greens, avocado and hot smoked maple cured salmon
Snack: Handful of pistachios
Dinner: Pork and Carrot Curry
To give you an idea about a typical Kettlebell Fusion workout, here is what my workout consisted of:
A short Joint Mobility warm up....then Intervals of 30(s) work and 15(s) rest:
1) Battling Ropes x2 rounds
2) Swings -20kg /Alt One Arm Swings - 16kg
3) Dead Cleans L/R - 16kg
4) Deadlifts - 44kg/RKC Plank
5) Military Press L/R - 14kg
Repeat all 10 rounds
Then to finish an 8 minute Tabata (20(s) work/10(s) rest), Alt one arm swings -16kg/Pushups
Good stuff!!!!!! HUNGER INDUCING!!
On to the recipe...Paleo friendly Pork and Carrot Curry. I adapted this recipe to be Paleo friendly from Clean Eating Magazine. While it is "clean" eating, the original recipe has white potatoes and Greek yogurt in it.
I switched out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes and used coconut milk yogurt instead of the Greek yogurt. If the idea of coconut milk yogurt doesn't thrill you on the Paleo diet, then sub in coconut milk. I also added in some more "green" to the recipe by adding in spinach. Lastly, I added in smoked paprika to the marinade. It's my secret weapon! Adding it to dishes causes people that eat them to say, What's that flavor??? Try it sometime!
I made the dish on the stove but this would be a great recipe to make in a slow cooker. I will give directions to adapt it for the slow cooker.
  • 1.5lbs pork tenderloin (or 2lbs pork shoulder for Slow Cooker), cut into 1-2inch cubes
  • 8 oz plain coconut yogurt or coconut milk
  • 3-4 TBS fresh, grated ginger*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1-2 TBS ground cumin
  • 1-2 TBS ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 yellow onion, cut in 1/2 and into thin slices
  • 5 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peel on, cut into 2 inch dice
  • 26-28oz diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4-6 oz spinach, sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Fresh lime juice to taste
*Both the ginger and the garlic are easy to grate/mince by using the microplane. Here you can see the garlic, after it has been run over the microplane; it creates a nice texture which melts easily into a marinade such as this one w.the coconut yogurt or milk.

1. Mix yogurt (or milk) with the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric and S+P. Add in pork and marinate for as long as you can, up to 24hrs in the fridge.

2. Season the onions w.S+P and sweat them in some coconut oil, over medium-low heat, covered for 5 minutes. If using the slow cooker, this step is optional. You don't need to sweat the onions first. If you had time, sure, go ahead, but it's not necessary.

3. To the onions, add the pork and marinade, tomatoes w.juice, 1/2 cup water, carrots and sweet potatoes, and stir to combine, again seasoning w.S+P.
**If using the slow cooker, add all of these ingredients into a the pot. Cover, and cook on low, for 6-8hrs. Test pork after 6hrs to see how it's going. If almost done after 6, add in spinach, cover again, and cook for ~20 minutes more. If not done at 6hrs left, let it go longer, adding in spinach with about 20 minutes to go. Then proceed with #6 below.
4. Increase heat to medium, cover, and simmer until veggies are soft and pork is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Stir in spinach and cook for a couple minutes more.
6. Add in chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice; taste for season and adjust S+P.

The finished stew has a zippy taste from the ginger and a warmth from the smoked paprika. The coconut flavor of the milk or yogurt works really well with the warm spices and the lime juice and cilantro rounds it all also makes a delicious post-workout breakfast!!!
The spinach worked great but other greens would also go well here, such as kale or even collard greens. I topped a bowl with avocado which made it that much better.
Next up on the blog, a recipe for Cube Steak and Mushrooms and a review of Improveat's Coconut Wraps!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Robb Wolf's 30 Day Paleo Transformation and Stuffed Squash

As I talked about in my last post, there are some fun and exciting changes going on with Thyme To Cook. I'm training for the next level of kettlebell certification, RKC. It's a rigorous and physically demanding cert. I'm in great physical shape overall, however, I don't feel strong enough to proceed training, so I'm making some major changes to my diet.

I've been about 75-80% plant based, only eating meat on special occasions. I thought I had been thriving on this diet, but in reality, I think I haven't been getting enough protein. After doing Josh Hillis's 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge, I knew I had to switch it up. So over the next 30 days I am following the 30 Day Total Transformation, by author, trainer and Paleo nutrition guru Robb Wolf.
What's it all about?

Well, the program is based on a Paleo diet, which consists of grass fed beef and other animal proteins (lean pork, chicken, lamb), wild fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds and healthy fats (coconut oil, coconut milk, avocado, olive oil). Grass fed meats and wild fish are high in essential fatty acids, the Omega fatty acids; the body can't manufacture the essential fatty acids, so they must be eaten.
What the diet doesn't consist of is: grains, beans and other legumes, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, dairy.
It's clean eating, something that I have prided myself on doing in the past (maybe not so much in the recent present, until now).
So for the next 30 days I'll be eating some lean protein, carbs and healthy fats at each meal and trying to have 3-4 meals a day.

The downloadable program came with a great manual, which includes the ins and outs of the diet, a detailed exercise program, a great food matrix, a month's worth of meals w.links to recipes, shopping lists and as an extra bonus, there are links in the manual to extra reading, videos and audio to learn more about certain aspects of the Paleo diet. I'm on day 3, just finishing it up, and doing great.

Here's what I've been eating:

Day 1 Sunday January 8, 2012 - This is my day off for the week from exercise

B: Scrambled eggs (eggs from Stillman's Farm) with smoked whitefish (eggs scrambled in coconut oil), roasted veggies and cherries

L: Baked sweet potato, salad w.sardines and beets, Satsuma mandarin

D: Grass fed cube steak also from Stillman's Farm w.wild mushrooms and roasted veggies

Snack: 2 satsuma mandarins
Evening: Tea w.lemon and small bit of honey

Day 2 Monday January 9, 2012
B: Scrambled eggs in coconut oil w. Canadian bacon and roasted veggies. I had decaf w.homemade almond milk (almonds, dates, vanilla)

Did an intense kettlebell workout mid morning. Shortly after was pretty hungry so I had a smoothie made from coconut milk, raw cacao, raw cacao nibs, almond butter, banana, a tiny bit of raw honey and maca powder. This will be my go to smoothie on this program and from this point will just be called CoCa smoothie.

L: Salad with sardines, beets, pepper, avocado and hemp seeds

D: Baked sweet potato, small salad w.mesclun greens, pepper and canned, wild salmon

Snack: 3 Satsuma mandarins and some blueberries
Evening: Tea, straight up

Day 3 Tuesday January 10, 2012
Early morning - intense functional movement based workout: intervals including treadmill, body weight, Keiser Functional Movement machine, kettlebells and core slide

B: Scrambled eggs w.whitefish and small piece baked sweet potato. Decaf w.almond milk.

Mid morning snack: CoCa smoothie

L: Salad with sardines, roasted veggies and fermented, pickled red cabbage

D: Baked sweet potato and Ropa Vieja (shredded beef and peppers)

Snacks: 3 Satsuma mandarins and a mix of blueberries and raspberries

That's it so far! I'm doing well, my workouts have been intense and I'm on program. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks kettlebell training.

Now if you're still with me, on to the food! To ramp up for this program, I slowly added in meats to my diet for a couple weeks. One of the meals I made was a delicious stuffed squash. I still have veggies from my winter CSA and lots of great grass fed beef and other meats from Stillman's Farm.
I roasted up some acorn squash until tender and made a filling for them from diced sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, garlic, onions, ground beef and kale, all from Stillman's...I also added in fresh thyme, rosemary and savory, all earthy, delicious herbs.

Here's the beef, browning up with some garlic and onions in coconut oil.
I added in the root veggies to cook for a bit, then added in kale and fresh herbs.

I stuffed the squash and put them back in the oven to heat up.
The finished product was delicious and the leftover filling was great to eat on it's own, with salad.

Who knows where this 30 days will bring me. Do I really think I'm going to have a diet void of grains and beans/legumes? I don't think so, but you never know. I'm an "Everything in moderation" type of might be that I'll add them back and dislike the way that I feel....or maybe I'll feel great....we'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, I'm hoping that my training continues to progress.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Road to RKC, 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge by Josh Hillis

Happy new year and welcome to 2012.....2012 will bring some changes to Thyme To Cook, hopefully positive ones!!

First off,  as some of you know, I recently was certified by Dragon Door in their entry level Kettlebell program, the Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification (HKC). I found kettlebells last November (2010) and knew that I wanted to pursue them in a higher capacity then just being a student in class. They provide an amazing way to get strong, and when you workout with them, feel totally empowered. I will be going for the next level certification, called the Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) in the Fall of 2012. The certification is rigorous and extremely demanding. Therefore, I have begun a training program to (hopefully) ensure that I pass the cert.

To start my training off right, I did the 21 day Kettlebell Swing Challenge, brought to you by RKC Josh Hillis. Josh has some great fitness and fat loss programs, including the 21 day Kettlebell Swing Challenge, and System Six. Be sure to check out his blog, Lose Stubborn Fat for more info. I did the 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge without counting out my days, but interestingly enough, my 21st day fell on December 31st, so it was a great way to end my 2011, and bring myself into 2012. The program was great and very effective. It consists of 21 days worth of kettlebell swing workouts, broken down into beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts, ranging from 5 - 20 minutes. The beauty of working with kettlebells is it's one of the most effective forms of exercise, and a 10 minute workout can burn 200+ calories. I chose to do the Advanced 21 day program, which included swings, one arm swings, push ups, and lunges. The only thing that the plan was deficient in was a front end and back end stretch and/or roll. I started most of the days with a dynamic stretch and joint mobility work, and ended with foam rolling and stretching on my own. My main goal in doing the program was to get stronger in my one arm swing so that I could move on to my next challenge, conquering the RKC Snatch test, a test to pass RKC where you need to do 100 snatches in 5 minutes, using a bell weighted for your specific weight (body weight under 123 lbs can use 12kg bell, over 123 lbs have to use 16kg bell). Check out the snatch here: snatch.

When I first started the program, I was doing it in conjunction to my regular kettlebell classes that I take. This was challenging for me as it meant that on some days I was doing 2 workouts. I got through it just fine though. 2/3rd into the challenge, it was December vacation, so the last 1/3 of the challenge became my workout for the day, or at least part of it. On some of the days where the workout was only 5 minutes, I added in other kettlebell exercises to keep my training on point. My last day was December 31st and I did that workout in a hotel room! I brought my 14kg bell with me and worked out, right there, on my mini-vacation.

Overall, it was a great program. I was successful in building up some strength to the point where I can now effectively move on with my training. I highly recommend this for anyone looking to improve their kettlebell swing and stamina. Josh provides videos for those looking to learn more about how to swing correctly as part of the training.

So, now onto a big change for Thyme To Cook. You know I split my time between cooking/coaching clients and fitness, teaching 2 Spin classes a week and subbing kettlebells when the opportunity arises. I have decided to move into fitness more, adding a personal training cert to my education and I am currently doing the American Council of Exercise (ACE) Personal Training Certification. I hope to train people and broaden my kettlebell teaching experience. Cheers to change in 2012. In my next post I'll talk about changes with my diet! Have a great day everyone!