Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Winter workouts

Well, i'm back after a few weeks of dillydallying..

I was worried that working out was harming my poor torn rectus abdominus and still weak pelvis, so i took time off - but it ends up that aches and pains are just part of being my age (39 - how'd that happen?), and I'd rather be working out and feeling great than not working out and still being achy.

So, because our family motto is "We Do Things The Hard Way" (no seriously, it is...), i woke up early and met Coach at the gym in town before he went to work.

Baby is five months old now, and sleeps like a dolly - so her teenaged sister said she'd listen for her, and twice this week now i've gone in the early hours (today we left closer to five than to six... yikes!) and gotten back to a quiet, peaceful household and a soft, warm little baby still cuddled in her cradle.  So in love....

Anyway, about working out.

Our home gym is pretty chilly now that the snow has come - up North where we live, it's come with a vengeance and i'm shovelling snow (it counts for exercise!) as well as enjoying the warmth and community spirit at the local gym.

We scrape off the cars, drive out to the Multiplex, take off our boots, get our wristbands, and walk upstairs to the gym.  It's warm, music is playing, and even right at 5:30 there are already dozens of people in there - warming up in the calisthenics area, on the treadmills and elliptical machines, on the free weights and weight machines.

I'm choosing to do simple exercises, but i'm having to learn gym etiquette.  At home, we set up our weights and then work a circuit, usually.  But at the gym,  it's considered inconsiderate to set up three machines with your weight and go between them.


So, the smith machine for squats got a lot of work from me today, and the bench press station, but also a neat inverted ab stand (since i can't do jack knife movements), a seated cable row machine, and some kettlebells in the calisthenics area.

I'm even planning to join a friend for a class one of these days!

I think this will be a good way to workout through the winter.  We have the family pass for the pool, but the gym is included, and why not make the most of it?  I'm especially looking forward to the indoor running track, one of these days...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fuel : Thanksgiving Stuffing

I loved Nom Nom Paleo when i discovered it - devoured post after post.  In the end, while i learned a lot, i also got a bad case of jealousy.  I live up close to Santa's workshop, in a city of 100 000 and there are not the restaurants like those she mentions, and going to the Crossfit olympics would be a HUGE financial undertaking for a family of ten :)...

Still, love it.  and it's a treat to look at.  And i do try recipes when i have the ingredients and equipment.  (and i'm drooling over the meat slicer...)

But this Thanksgiving, we had a big potluck with our church family on Saturday night, and on Sunday planned to make a turkey for just our crew.  We got the turkey in the oven before church, and then Coach wanted to pick up some diet pop on the way home.  He said something about stuffing, too bad it wasn't paleo, and it rang a bell for me.  A friend who is eating the GAPS diet had mentioned that she and her daughter made a stuffing that was mostly celery and onions.

But when i mentioned that, he shook his head.  That's not a stuffing...  He trudged into the supermarket, while i waited in the car.  I did a quick search on my iphone for "paleo stuffing" and THIS is what i got!  I sent him the ingredients using the Buy Me a Pie app, and when we got home, he got buy making me stuffing.  Since i guess that's how we roll...

Juli, at has come up with something that is stuffing, that hits all the right notes, but at the same time is even more delicious than stuffing, and is completely paleo!

What a decadent pleasure!

Check out her delicious recipe:

This recipe made enough for a family of ten, with a very big and strong man having at least three separate meals worth between 3 p.m. dinner and 11 p.m bedtime.  With about a cup leftover for me to mix a little in with my eggs in the morning, and Coach to finish up all the rest :).  I love that a single woman makes her recipes big enough for my family!

And from Canada, happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fuel : Paleo Stew

If you're like me (and you probably are if you are eating paleo), you love meat.  And maybe you're feeding a family, and trying to adapt a houseful of standard diet eaters to healthier ways.

Well, this stew wasn't a stretch for my crew.  Nobody complained (or noticed?) that there were no dumplings  - even though  i was a little sad about that - and although i made a huge amount of stew, there weren't enough leftovers for more than two or three people.

Now the leftovers are in the freezer, and i'll write down the very easy recipe in case someone else needs it (or i want to find it again!)

Easy Paleo Moose Stew
4-5 lbs moose
1/2 c. olive oil
8 potatoes
6 carrots
3 stalks of celery
garlic (fresh or granulated)
one onion
freshly ground black pepper
seasoning salt if desired
red wine
bay leaf

You can also make this with beef!  Or presumably elk, bison, deer, whatever you have :)

In a big pot, pour about a 1/2 c. olive oil.

While it is warming up, chop up 3-4 lbs of moose meat into biggish size pieces.  If you chop too small, the little pieces of meat get hard, but larger sized chunks stay tender.

Also, chop up a big onion.

Cook up the onion in the olive oil. Add the beef.  Season with pepper, garlic, seasoning salt (if you want!  I used Costco's applewood seasoning salt), thyme, oregano, rosemary.  (Or whatever spices you like)

While it cooks, stir occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot, but let it get nice and brown.

Peel and chop up 8 nice sized potatoes, and six biggish carrots, and  dice three celery stalks.

Dump all veggies in at the same time and let them cook up a little with the meat.

Pour in about 8 cups of water - enough to cover all the meat and veggies, but only just.  Add a couple bay leaves.

Bring to a nice boil, and let it cook on high for an hour or so, with the lid on to keep the moisture level from evaporating.  If you're not pressed for time, turn heat down and let it cook longer....

Pour in a nice glug of red wine (brandy is nice, too).

Mix up good, and use a ladle to take out two cups of stew.  Vitamix that stew till it's a nice and thick slurry.  (Sorry to use that word in a recipe!)

Pour back in the "gravy", and stir up.  Let cook with the lid off if it's too runny.  It will thicken as the liquid evaporates.

Putting in the celery with the potatoes and carrots will make them go mushy and taste of meat.  I like that.  I love it when leeks or celery really take on the taste of the meat they are paired with.

Put stew on the table, pass around the bowls, thank God and dig in!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fuel: Paleo tips for family meals

I thought i'd take a few posts in a row to update what we're doing with food in our house.  Not that i'm shirking the workout posts because i'm not doing a ton of workouts this month ...  Oh, no!...  Well, maybe just a little bit.

Anyway, this summer i found a pressure canner at a garage sale, and i have been having fun!  I love the aura of my grandma that surrounds the idea of canning, the memories of the peaches and pears my mom canned and doled out like candy to us in the harsh Alberta winters...

But i haven't been canning fruit.  I have bought, so far, three 20 lb boxes of peaches, but with eight children, that box is eaten up in two days.  So, unless i go buy the peaches after the children are in bed, and then start canning through the night, there will be.... shall we say, loss?  I haven't given up on canning peaches, but the season is almost gone - snow is reportedly going to fly this week, probably not to stay, but definitely to call to fall, and i don't know for sure that i will be able to get another box of ripe but not too ripe peaches!

Anyway, three useful tools i've found recently that are helping me to be more disciplined and *satisfied* as a paleo eater are three things i had in my house already.

One, is my pressure canner - the novelty hasn't worn off, and i've made borscht, pumpkin puree, and roasted tomatoes.  I carefully follow the directions, and i've found good recipes online.  Except for the borscht!  I love borscht, and i use Mollie Katzen's Moosewood cookbook recipe.

The second is my dehydrator.  Dehydrated tomato chips are delish - so sweet and tangy!  And kale chips cooked in the dehydrator stay bright green and keep a little of the kale flavour as opposed to oven baked.  If things ever needed storage (i.e. didn't get eaten up straight out of the dehydrator or as soon as they come out), ziplock bags or empty clear containers can wait in the pantry until we're ready to use them.

And the third is this simple trick - use your fridge and freezer!

What i'm doing with good meals is to make sure i put the leftovers in the freezer as soon as the meal is done.  That way, i have individual sized (or a lunch size shared with children) meal that i can just heat up, and it's delicious and homemade, and guilt free.

For lunch, we had leftover pumpkin shrimp coconut curry.  It was just as good as the first time!  I made some fries for the kids on the side, and felt so virtuous.

From the leftover turkey we had the other day, Coach T made turkey soup from homemade stock for Sunday dinner, and i put the leftovers in the fridge in quart jars.  We'll for sure eat that up in the next day.

Tonight, i made stew - instead of flour to thicken it, i took a few scoops of the stew itself out, and put it through the vitamix.  It was a really nice stew consistency, very meaty flavoured, and gobbled up.  I made a whole bunch, so i would have some leftover to freeze - and it's in the freezer.  There's not enough for all of the children and for me but one day maybe next week, i'll let them have noodles or something carby, and i'll eat leftover stew that tastes just as good as it did tonight.  Or, once we have enough healthy leftovers, we'll have a little lunch buffet.

With the chickens we had the other day (we have to make two chickens generally to feed our family), i took the bones and made stock, then froze it in water jugs (i bought half a dozen nice sturdy ones from a restaurant that went out of business) in my big freezer.  Once i have big family sized portions all frozen, i can transfer to ziplock bags, and pop them back into the freezer till i'm ready for soup.

This is how fast food should be!  It's easy because i took a few minutes on another day to put things into storage properly.  I found that when i just shove a container of leftovers into the fridge, that we weren't eating it always in a timely manner, and a lot got thrown out.  This method is making sure that everything gets eaten, *and* appreciated!

Even the canned food doesn't seem to last long - i think i am down to one more quart jar of pumpkin puree, and i will probably put up a few more batches of that, since it's been nice to have fresh pumpkin pie for the littles, and curry for all of us - but the canning or freezing just buys me the luxury of time!  Time to get back into the mood for curry, or stew, or roasted tomato sauce :)

Next post : recipes!  I'm not the queen of paleo eats, but these are hearty, kitchen tested, and not too hard to make :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Workout: countdown...

It's been busy here!  September means school starts, and in this house, it means one principal goes back to school, and mama opens up the one room schoolhouse.

This year, i have grades 11, 9,7,5,3,1, a four year old, and a newborn baby!  So...  between meetings and getting back into the swing of fall commitments, workouts have been grabbed at spare moments, and not always logged at fitocracy.  Or, not done at all...

Last night's was a reminder that it had been over a week since the last workout.  Simple, but hard enough that we cut it in half.  Here is the half i did accomplish!

(sets of 10, 9, 8,7 ,6 ,5 ,4 ,3 ,2 ,1)
ring pull ups
 - these are done with gymnast rings - so hard!  Because there is no stability!  But probably good for me :)
push presses
 - these were done with 20 lb dumbbells, which is pretty much the top of my ability right now.  I could go a little heavier, but i'd need a little more sleep :)

Baby's had a little cold, and she's been up more at night, but hopefully we'll get into a nice autumn routine - i'm thinking more workouts at the multiplex when it gets too cold to be out in the garage... We'll see what Coach T says about that!