Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mark's Daily Apple - Iron Chef Challenge

Those of you who have been following Mark’s Daily Apple’s 30 Day Primal Challenge will recognize this entry for his Primal Iron Chef contest. Mark challenged his readers to come up with a primal recipe a la the cooking show Iron Chef America.

Here are the details on the Contest: Primal Iron Chef from Mark’s website:

Cue the dramatic music, take a bite of your favorite vegetable, steel your fiery gaze at the audience, because it’s time to play Iron Chef: Primal Edition!!! (hold for applause). Reader Nate came up with the idea for this one. For anyone not familiar with the popular Japanese import cooking show, chefs are tasked with creating an assortment of dishes that all include one secret ingredient. For the MDA version…

1. Create a recipe using the secret ingredient.

2. Write a step-by-step walk-through describing how to make the recipe in 1000 words or less.

3. Include pictures of the finished recipe as well as pictures showing the process.

SECRET INGREDIENT: COCONUT. In whatever form you choose”

3, 2, 1....Go! Keeping the timed theme of the Iron Chef show, for Iron Chef Primal addition my creation can be made in about 20 minutes. Now that you've changed you lifestyle to eat primal, what do you do with your ice cream maker?  For today’s challenge  I'll show you how to make a great primal dessert...
Coconut Ice Cream!

What you need: An ice cream maker and an already cold insert and a few primal ingredients that you may have on hand already. Coconut ice cream can be made simply with just coconut milk but it gets more exciting when you add a variety of ingredients - be creative with what you have around. In the past I've added unsweetened cocoa, strawberries, bananas, mango, bits of dark chocolate and various nuts to create different ice cream variations. Try one version and see what other flavor combinations you think would be delicious together.

Coconut-Banana-Almond Primal Ice Cream

Ingredients used for today's challenge

1 can of coconut milk

2 bananas (preferably frozen)

1/4c unsweetened coconut flakes

A handful of chopped almonds

Cinnamon for garnish (optional


Pour in coconut milk first

Turn the ice cream maker on, and immediately add the can of coconut milk already chilled if possible. Then add in the 1/4c of unsweetened coconut, it adds some additional texture to the ice cream and keeps the coconut flavor prominent. To freeze bananas, cut them into small pieces first and thread them on a wood skewer, put them in a baggie or container and stick them in the freezer. Keep these frozen bananas for a tasty frozen treat or to make things like smoothies and primal ice cream.  To use the frozen banana, take the banana off of the skewers and mash it up a little bit, to a consistency that you want in the ice cream. I like to mash them a bit so the flavor is incorporated throughout the ice cream instead of eating big chunks of banana mixed in. If your banana is fresh, you should mash it a little more since the banana isn’t already cold.

Mash and then add the frozen banana

Stir the ice cream liquid to incorporate the banana if necessary, and then let the machine do the work for about 15 minutes. You can pass this time preparing another dish, cleaning any dishes you just got dirty, or even squeezing in a few primal sprints outside!  You can serve this dessert to a group of primal eaters or to a group you are trying to convert, it has a great flavor and consistency and will especially appeal primal kids in the middle of summer.

Almost done, nice a creamy

At the 15 minute mark take a look at the consistency, it should be thickening up now looking more like whipped cream than like the liquid you started with. At this point, add the chopped almonds if you’re including them and then leave the ice cream in the maker for another 5 minutes (for a total of 20 minutes).

Turn off the ice cream maker, and scoop the fluffy coconut ice cream into 4 small bowls. Dust with cinnamon if you want to, and serve with a spoon and eat immediately. The final product looks and tastes delicious and is a special primal treat.
Makes 4 servings

Ready to eat!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On the home stretch

Those of you who are doing a 30 day challenge - how are things going?  What new things have you incorporated into your life and foods that you like?  Are you finding it hard to adjust or easier than you thought?  How do you look, feel, and perform?  Have you noticed any changes in your mental clarity, your athletic performance, how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

This 30 Day challenge has been the easiest its ever been for me, since now that I've consistently cleaned up what I eat I have found that when I do go super strict that the things I do miss are the occasional Paleo treat and being able to enjoy a glass of wine  - but its not so bad knowing that I can have them again soon.  I have definitely seen benefits from my clean eating so far - on Sunday Sept 12th I competed in my first Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5K/.93m Swim, 40K/25m Bike, 10K/6.2m Run) and did great finishing with a time of 2hr 45min in the top 12% in my age group and top 12% of females in the race. The race was The Nation's Triathlon in Washington DC and we actually set a Guinness record for the most participants in an Olympic Triathlon with over 5300 athletes competing.  I felt great during the race, and was back to doing a hard crossfit workout on Tuesday.

Laura Left-Center Red Shirt, Kristin Right-Center Pink shirt

This past Sunday Sept 19th I decided to jump in and run the Philly Distance Run - Half Marathon with a friend,  Kristin, that is training for a full marathon in November.  I was taking a small leap of faith that I'd be able to run that far since the most I'd run was 8 miles 3 weeks earlier.  I had just completed the Tri and knew that I could do over 2 hours of "work" so I decided to give it a shot.  Kristin did great and turns out she would have slammed that 13.1m run on her own, I was just along for the ride :)  I was a little sore on Monday, but by Tuesday felt great again.  I really think that the combination of crossfit workouts and eating a really clean diet are the two contributing factors to helping my body repair itself so fast and push itself so often.  You don't have to do a race to notice increased recovery, anyone else noticing better recovery and performance too?  Post to comments what's going on, how you're doing, what you're having trouble with, and any new things that you want to share that others might want to try.

Keep checking out what I'm eating for ideas, the pictures have descriptions of what I'm eating:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Getting Better Faster

As an athlete that is training for running a race, competing in a triathalon, competing at a Crossfit competion or just trying to be better at whatever other sports you do-you should consider incorporating High Intsity Training (HIT) and Intervals into your workouts because it helps you to get better faster.  Most athletes want to get better but don't always understand how.  Too many of us fall into a training rut and continue to do what is comfortable - always doing the same flat 5 mile loop, biking at a comfortable pace, not pushing yourself during a WOD in Crossfit.   So how do you break out of your trianing rut and actually get better and in most cases faster?  In Crossfit we talk about "getting comfortable with being uncomfortable" which allows you to train your body at a higher intesity and reap the benefits of a great workout that doesn't take that much time.  Let's take a practical example, in running if you want to get faster you can't just add more miles of long slow distance.  To run faster you need to practice actually running faster; pushing yourself at a higher intensity and achieving a faster speed - a novel concept right.  How many runners out there actually do this regularly?

So how do you actually do this practicing "fast" stuff?  Through high intensity training and doing sport specific interval workouts lilke 400m, 800m, and mile repeats where you run almost as fast as you can and your goal is to get faster each time, achieving negative splits, with a reasonable amount of rest/recovery in between.  Doing repeats and tempo runs (where you run for a set/goal pace for a set amount of time or miles within a run) are how you get faster when you're training for a race - running longer at a slower speed only gets you to a point where you can cover more distance in a single run - which has its time and place in trainign as well but you don't have to do it as often as you think if you throw in more high intestity workouts.  I have to admit, I find every reason not to do the repeat workout or tempo run that is scheduled into my training plan because they are tough to do - especially on your own.  One reason I like to have a running training plan when I'm training for a race is because it schedules speedwork into my week, so that it's harder to avoid doing it because I have to write on my plan that I missed or didn't complete that workout.  Once I started adding these "speed" workouts to my training regime, I  quickly noticed better results and faster times both in my regular training runs and most importantly in my races.  At first it was difficult for me to realize that I can get a better workout in 20 minutes when I'm working at a high intensity, verses working out for a full hour at a much lower intensity.  Like most people I come from a background where I thought longer was always better than faster; people ask you how far you biked, ran, or swam not how fast you do it.

So how does my Crossfit training fit into all of this?  Crossfit is fundamentally based around the concept of using high intensity training to make you better, especially in workouts like FRAN one of the Crossfit benchmark WODS.  21-15-9 reps of Thrusters (65# Ladies / 95# men) followed by Pull ups as fast as you can is meant to push you HARD.  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Option for a 30 Day Contest

Looking for a different twist on a clean food challenge? Mark Sission (from Mark's Daily Apple) announced today the start of his 30 day Primal Challenge - this is similar to the Whole 9's Whole 30 program but may be something that is a little appealing to you. Check out his blog post that he released today for the details - oh and he's giving away prizes!

Mark's Daily Apple 30 Day Challenge

A few additional things I'm incorporating into my 30 day per Mark's recommendations:
1. Eating Clean and Organic as much as possible
2. Getting adequate sleep - going to bed earlier
3. Intellectually challenge myself - through getting more blog posts research and posted in September

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What I'm eating

This time for the Whole 30 that I'm doing for September I'm not going to keep a food journal but decided that I would try to take pictures of my meals and post them to a web album to give anyone else giving this a try some ideas on other things to eat.

I'm trying to take a picture of everything...but can't promise I'll get everything but I'll do my best.  Post to comments if you try anything or want to add suggestions for others.

Here is the web album where I'll be uploading my food pictures: