Sunday, March 24, 2013

St. Patty's Egg Muffins

Today is the end of CrossFit Open Week 3 of competition. The WOD was AMRAP (12 min) of 150 wall balls, 90 double-unders, & 30 muscle-ups. I don't even come close to a muscle-up so that was out of the question. My double-unders aren't even that great either - I usually do a few singles before the double - so my main goal was to finish the wall balls and then hope for the best with the doubles. I finished my wall balls in slightly under 11 minutes so I had a full minute to try and sneak as many doubles in as possible. I did my usual single-single-single-double and then decided hey why not and just went for it... and got 4 double-unders in a row! May not seem like much, but I'll take what I can get :P  The next day, part of the WOD was AMRAP double-unders in 10 min and I got 8 unbroken! Woo! Getting better, one rep at a time...  

Today was my second race of the year: Chi-Town 10K. It was FREEZING outside (20s) and very windy. I was shaking cuz I was so cold. Took a good 1.5 miles to finally warm up but I still couldn't feel my fingers or toes. The entire run was against the wind... didn't matter if you were heading north, south, east, or west, the wind was there to make you fight. The course got screwed up bc the volunteers mis-directed people, which made for a confusing race. There were also no mile markers or time clocks, and only 1 water station halfway through, but thankfully I had my Garmin and don't drink much in races under an hour. I finished around an hour, which was much slower than what I was hoping for, but coming off the winter season, not running too much due to older adult subject testing all over the city 7am-8pm (furthest run this winter was 4 mi, yikes!), and racing against the wind... it is what it is. On the positive side, I executed my race strategy alright with negative splits and a fast last mile. Then I made it to church in time for Palm Sunday to see the kids choir perform. Soooo adorable!   

So, last weekend was St. Patty's... this post is a bit overdue, but just thought I'd share my St. Patty's-inspired egg muffins!

Egg Muffins

6 eggs & 6 egg whites (feel free to use 3 whole eggs if you prefer)
1 small zucchini
2 c broccoli florets
1 c fresh spinach
1/2 green pepper
1/2 onion
4 green onions, optional
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 muffin molds.
2. Pulse veggies in food processor until finely chopped but not puree.
3. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add eggs, salt, & pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined and pour into muffin tins by the 1/4 c.
4. Bake for 20-25 min or until the eggs are set in the middle.
5. Enjoy your handy breakfast on the go! Tastes great on their own, or add bacon, sausage, or paleo waffles to round out the meal.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paleo Pen Pals - March 2013

It's that time of the month... paleo pen pals recipe report!! (ahem) The premise of the program is that paleoites are assigned a pen pal and they send each other surprise ingredients, then come up with a recipe from the ingredients they receive. My pen pal this month is Kristina, an energetic, sweet southern belle new to the paleo world. Turns out that we both share similar faith values and a love for running. Kristina and I have been emailing each other regularly and we even send each other pictures of our meals! We also share and support each other in the struggles of living paleo in a non-paleo world, which has been really great.

For this month's swap, Kristina sent me a care package of: dried chilis, chinese five-spice, shallots, & garlic. Although the ingredients seemed to go together, I was struggling to come up with an idea that encompassed all of them... so I used my tried-and-true method of throwing random stuff together and was really happy with the result. I love crockpot cooking, especially in winter (yes, it may be March but Chicago was in the 20's with 25mph winds!) so I created Five-Spice Barbacoa in my handy crockpot :) 

Crockpot Five-Spice Barbacoa

2-3 lb beef roast
3-5 dried chilis (depending on how spicy you like it :P)
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp lime juice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 tbsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp s&p
1 yellow onion, chopped
Fire-roasted peppers, chopped (I used red & yellow from a jar)
2 tbsp chinese five-spice
1/4 c chicken broth
2 bay leaves, optional

1. Soak chilis in water for at least 30 minutes (but the longer the better; I did 2 hours). Cut chilis in half; remove some or all seeds if you don't like it spicy. The actual chili pepper itself isn't too hot.
2. In a high-speed blender or food processor, toss in the chilis, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, garlic, shallot, and spices (except five-spice). Whip up until thoroughly combined (it should be a liquid) and chilis have been all broken up.
3. In your crockpot, put the chopped onion & peppers on the bottom. Pour in chicken broth.
4. Sprinkle beef with chinese five-spice on all sides and place on top of onion/peppers.      
5. Pour chili mixture over beef. Add bay leaves if you'd like.
6. Cook on low for 7-8+ hours. Remove bay leaves. Using two forks, shred beef.
7. Serve with salsa, guac (see below for my 2-easy, 2-ingredient guac!), or whatever else your little heart desires.

2-Easy 2-Ingredient Guac

1 ripe avocado
1/2 c fresh salsa (sold in the produce dept)

1. In a medium-small bowl, mash avocado with a fork.
2. Add fresh salsa and mix all that goodness together.
3. Chow down! Phew, that was hard.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spinach-Artichoke Chicken Pasta

Guess what... just got my first postdoc offer!  Also got a campus interview invite (tenure-track faculty position) and my second phone interview for an industry position that I could really see myself doing if I left academia. Craziness! After being on the job market for a discouraging 6 months, it's nice to finally see things materialize. There are definitely feelings of relief, but also uncertainty since I'm still not sure what the best plan is for me. Trust in the Lord...

Today was my first race of the year: Get Lucky 7K. It was cold and windy, then near the end it started to flurry... I couldn't feel my face or toes for most of the race. The start line was poorly organized and half the runners (yours truly included) had to stand outside the start until the race started and there was enough clearance. So, the first half of the race was spent passing people and getting into a good position at a comfortable pace. The race stats said I passed 526 people. Sheesh! Once I finally got settled in, it was time to turn around and head back toward the finish... as soon as I made the turn, the wind hit like BAM! I was fighting against the wind those last 2.2 miles and it was really uncomfortable. Ended up finishing in 45:11 (10:24 pace) which is not my best time by a long shot. But, considering that I haven't been working on my run fitness due to dissertation/CrossFit, suboptimal weather, crappy start, and didn't run all-out, I'll take it. Hopefully I can redeem myself once running season kicks into full speed this spring/summer.  

Also, the CrossFit Open 13.2 workout was posted: 10min AMRAP of 5 jerks, 10 deadlifts, & 15 box jumps. I got 7 rounds (210 reps), which I was satisfied with... definitely better than last week's 13.1. A couple coaches looked surprised at my score and were like "nice, Jess!", which was amusing bc I don't think they expected me to bang out that many reps. HA!  Unfortunately, in round 5, I completely lost it on the 4th jerk (didn't use legs enough) and had to drop the barbell, which took immense effort to get off the ground again. I lost time & reps there, so I'll probably try again tomorrow after church for one last shot... assuming my legs aren't too sore from the 7K ha.

In other news, I tried out a new veggie: artichokes! They were just alright on their own, but tasted great when combined with other things. It was fun experimenting!

Spinach-Artichoke Chicken Pasta with Paleo Garlic Bread


1 medium spaghetti squash
1 lb chicken, diced
1 small yellow onion, dicced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c fresh spinach leaves
1 can artichoke hearts
1 can diced tomatoes with basil & oregano, mostly drained
2 tbsp poultry seasoning (or some combination of salt/pepper/paprika)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
Red pepper flakes, optional
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp olive oil (ideally basil-infused but regular works just fine)

1. Preheat oven to 425. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds/roots, and place face-down on cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 min or until soft.
2. While spaghetti squash is baking, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Melt coconut oil. Sprinkle chicken with poultry seasoning and add to pan. Saute until thoroughly cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Pour olive oil into pan. Add onion and garlic. Saute for 1 minute then add spinach. Saute everything until spinach begins to wilt.
4. Add artichokes, tomatoes, chicken, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir until thoroughly combined.
5. When spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to shred it into "noodles". Serve with spinach-artichoke mixture on top. 
6. Serve with paleo garlic bread...


2 slices of paleo bread (my waffles recipe would also work; feel free to eliminate the veggies lol)
1 tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
4 tsp garlic powder

1. Toast bread on medium setting.
2. Spread butter or ghee on each slice of bread. Butter should melt easily.
3. Sprinkle with garlic powder and use knife to evenly distribute.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Crockpot Turkey Chili

Guess what, I had my first in-person job interview this week!  It was in Boston, which is different from Chicago but definitely a place where I could see myself living/working for the next few years. It was great to have interviewing & job talk experience under my belt since my last round of interviews was for grad school 4 years ago... and the criteria was much different than for postdocs. They're interviewing other candidates though, so we'll see how it goes.

2 notable CrossFit updates... (1) it's Week 1 of the Open! It's where CF athletes all over the world perform a particular set of workouts over 5 weeks and then the top scorers move on to regionals and then to the world championships aka "The CrossFit Games" featured on ESPN. Since I can't Rx most of the skills, I didn't have any expectations for myself except to try my hardest and to push myself beyond my limits. The first workout (13.1) was 4+ rounds of burpees and snatches. The snatch is my weakest of the olympic lifts and the weight for the second round was 10 lbs higher than my 1RM so I knew it would be a struggle... and it was. I got through the first round just fine (100 reps), but then on the second round, for the life of me I just could not get under the bar at 75 lb. Oh well, better luck next time...

(2) Friday's WOD was death by shuttle runs. Turns out I outlasted everyone in the group, including all the boys! Looking over the day's scores (~40 people), I had the top finish for the girls, tied with 2 boys, and got beaten by 2 boys. WOOOO!!  Dissertation or not, it's nice to know that I don't suck at everything at CrossFit lol

Anyway, most of this week (and last week) was spent preparing for my interview, particularly in getting my job talk ready. I cooked really easy meals and ate (leftover) crockpot turkey chili basically everyday... #crockpottime 

Crockpot Turkey Chili

Crockpot chili makes delicious leftovers


1 lb ground turkey (I used .5lb 99% lean & .5lb 93% lean)
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes 
1 c chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers (I used green & orange)
1/2 pack of mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
A few shakes of red pepper flakes, optional
2 bay leaves, optional

1. Heat skillet to medium and brown ground turkey.
2. Take out your crockpot. Add tomatoes and chicken broth. Then add in turkey and the remaining ingredients. Stir until combined.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Remove bay leaves (if using).
4. Enjoy your hot meal!!!  Savor the leftovers... the flavors continue melding in the fridge :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew

Winter = Cold. Or at least in Chicago it does. Nothing beats the winter blues like coming home to a piping hot, hearty meal straight from the crockpot! Some of my go-to crockpot meals are chicken curry and pulled pork, but I wanted to try something different... beef stew! Swapping out the potatoes for veggies was a sneaky, delicious paleo way of consuming extra veggies and I didn't miss the potatoes one bit. #crockpottime

Crockpot Beef Stew

1.5 lb chuck roast (or other stewing beef), cubed
2 c beef broth
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 small green pepper
1 small red pepper
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 c sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp parsley
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
s & p, to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

1. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Melt coconut oil and brown your meat.
2. While meat cooks, roughly chop all your vegetables.
3. Pull out your crockpot and add all the ingredients. Mix well, then toss in the browned beef and mix all that goodness again.
4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
5. Come home (or wake up) to a hot, delicious meal with your name on it!