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Grilled Green Beans

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

grilled_stringbeansI was asked recently if green beans were Paleo what with them having the word “bean” in them and all. So I did a little research, to find out (a) why beans are not Paleo and (b) if the green ones are.

Generally, legumes are avoided on a Paleo diet because it has been maintained that they were not part of an ancestral diet. Anthropological evidence however supports the theory that early hunter-gatherers consumed small amounts of legumes. Many varieties were available to the Upper Paleolithic foragers and were undoubtedly consumed as this important food source would not have been overlooked.

Legumes are also avoided because they contain lectins, which can damage the wall of the small intestine, and phytic acid, which binds to important minerals during digestion robbing us of nutrient value. The lectin and phytic acid content of beans, particularly when not adequately prepared, make them potentially detrimental when consumed in substantial quantities. Lectins can be thought of as a plant’s natural pesticide and can lead to intestinal permeability. High phytate diets inhibit the body from absorbing important minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Both should be avoided.

Back to green beans. After all that, why would these be acceptable on a Paleo diet? As immature beans, their lectin and phytate levels are quite low. Also, only very small amounts of beans are being consumed as it is primarily the pod that is being eaten. Consequently, green bean consumption would be in keeping with ancestral foraging, and anti-nutrient exposure would be minimal – comparable to that of eating most other fruits and vegetables.

With that said, here is an awesome way of preparing them:

Ingredients for Grilled Green Beans

  • green beans
  • olive oil
  • sea salt


Preheat grill at high heat.

Wash and trim beans and toss in bowl with olive oil to coat and a generous sprinkling of sea salt, or salt of choice.

Toss beans into a grill wok. If you don’t have one, go get one. Go to Target. Or Cash and Carry if you prefer family owned. You will wonder how you ever lived without one.

Place wok on grill and close cover. Check every few minutes and stir until done to your liking. About 8 minutes for done-with-a-nice-crunch. And note: these will continue to soften for a bit after removing from grill.

I guarantee you will want to make these again!

Know Why (Gluten Issue)

Sunday, July 13th, 2014


As an informational society, we are constantly bombarded with “advice.” This advice reaches into every aspect of our lives — nutrition, exercise, finances, career, sleep, raising children and just about everything else. Some of this advice is good, some is bad, and at times it can be quite difficult to determine which is which. Developing a set of sources that you trust is a quick method of validation. It would be impossible to research the validity of every bit of advice you are going to receive, so you will have to sometimes simply trust the information.

Given the above, I still strongly advise that you understand the reasons behind the advice you choose to follow. Often, people take advice without having any understanding as to why. The advice may be good or bad, but in either case the recipient may have absolutely no understanding behind the choice. The humorous video above makes it very clear that many people just blindly follow “advice”, in many cases, from fairly uninformed sources.

So, to avoid any embarrassing appearances on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, allow me to educate you about gluten. Gluten is a protein (specifically, a composite of a gliadin and a glutenin) found in wheat and many other grains. Gluten is a known gut irritant. In extreme cases, individuals are diagnosed with Coeliac (Celiac) disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes an inflammatory reaction that interferes with the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. It is clearly very important for these individuals to avoid gluten. In less extreme cases, individuals may be diagnosed as “gluten intolerant.” These individuals may experience some gastro-intestinal distress of varying degrees when they ingest gluten. Then, there is everyone else, who, even among those who may not be classified as “gluten intolerant” can suffer some gut irritation. This can lead to systemic and chronic inflammation which will have some impact on overall health.


Recent research indicates that gluten itself may be less of a problem than we have been led to believe. Researchers that had originally published significant evidence connecting gluten with many negative health consequences have now published further findings indicating that gluten may not be the culprit. FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, And Polyols - a class of short chain carbohydrate) are another “nutrient” category that may be the cause of many of the ills that have been attributed to gluten. FODMAPs are a topic for another post, but whether the health concern is FODMAPs or gluten, doesn’t change the dietary recommendations we have been making for the past decade. Avoid things like bread and pasta. There are many gluten-free products on the market today, but these may be no better for you than the original products due to FODMAP content. Ultimately, if you are eating meat and vegetation, gut irritation is simply not an issue.

gluten-free-seal-16256523Now, let’s discuss chemical nomenclature so you can more quickly identify nutrients. Food labels will try to hide certain information by using unfamiliar terms for nutritionally deficient ingredients. But, if you know basic chemical nomenclature you can often identify ingredients without having to memorize thousands of terms. First, any word with the suffix -ose is a sugar. Second, the word hydrogenated (partially or otherwise) is a trans fat. Third, any word with the suffix -ol is an alcohol. Many food companies are now replacing sugars with sugar alcohols in certain products. The health consequences of this change is not well researched or understood.

Educate yourself. Spend some time discovering the reasons behind your lifestyle choices. Create a network of trusted sources for those cases where researching the why is unfeasible. Be prepared in case Jimmy Kimmel’s crew comes along and asks you a simple question about your life choices.

Brussels Sprouts Chips

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Nom Nom Paleo chips

Nom Nom Paleo chips

Thank you Nom Nom paleo for this amazing recipe!
I LOVE these chips! This is the perfect snack for anyone that loves chips, but is looking for a healthy alternative.
What you Need

  • 2 cups of brussels sprouts leaves (from about 2 pounds of brussels sprouts
  • 2 cups of melted ghee
  • kosher salt to taste
  • Lemon Zest (optional)
  • How you make them
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Cut the stems off right at the base of the baby cabbages and pull off the outer leaves.
    3. Wash the leaves
    4. Mix the leaves, ghee and salt together in a large bowl
    5. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper. Divide the leaves evenly in a single layer on each tray.
    6. Bake each tray for 8-10 minutes until crispy and brown around the edges
    7. add optional lemon zest
    8. CHOW!!
    I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

    The Accidental Snack

    Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

    frozen_string_beansHealthy snack recipes don’t get any easier than this: Yesterday while unpacking the groceries, instead of putting the string beans in the refrigerator, my husband accidentally put them in the freezer. But what a happy accident that was – they were awesome! After taking the bag out of the freezer and yelling at him (slight exaggeration), I ate one. I then hugged him and put them back into the freezer. It was a perfect snack and an instant hit. My husband, son, and I have since been reaching in for them like addicts, and now they’ve all been eaten. Next time I buy string beans, they’re going straight from the grocery bag into the freezer.

    Blueberries for Muscle Recovery

    Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

    blueberry_ketchupYou’ve just finished a hard workout and probably know you have an hour or so to grab some protein to make sure you start rebuilding muscle to reap the benefits of exertion. What you may not know is that blueberries have been shown to improve recovery as well.

    A recent New Zealand study looked at the effect of blueberry consumption on exercise-induced muscle damage and found that blueberries, in addition to antioxidant support, also speed muscle recovery after strenuous exercise (see abstract).

    So this week I have a recipe for blueberry ketchup to share. Generously slathered over a nice grilled grass-fed burger between two butter lettuce “buns” not only gets you a quick delicious healthy meal but also guarantees some serious muscle repair.


    • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
    • 1 medium shallot, minced
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 fresh ground pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

    Place everything in a pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes; stir occasionally.

    Let cool and purée if desired with immersion blender or leave “chunky” as is my preference.

    Transfer to a jar or other container with tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

    Great on burgers, salmon, fried eggs, over steamed veggies or just as a chutney-on-the-side to liven up any meal.

    Eat at Home

    Thursday, June 19th, 2014

    salmon_kebabsMy grandparents always shared cooking with their kids, grandkids, and anyone in the neighborhood who ran into the kitchen and wanted to help stir. It’s been that way for millennia. We’ve co-evolved with whole, real, hearth-cooked foods filling the home.

    But a dramatic shift has occurred since our grandparents’ day when nearly all meals were prepared and eaten at home. Today, home cooking accounts for only half the meals consumed in the US, and 67% of those are eaten in front of a television.

    One of the best things you can do for your health and your family’s health is simply to sit down to a home cooked dinner. Research tells us that preparing one’s own food reduces calories, saturated fat, and sodium while increasing fiber and micronutrients. Research also shows that kids who have regular meals at home are more likely to have better grades, healthier relationships, 42% less likely to drink, 50% less likely to smoke, and 66% less likely to smoke pot.

    Thanks to the example my grandparents set, I can cook. But they also made furniture and could saddle a horse which I cannot. As the convenience of department stores and the inevitability of cars precluded them from passing these skills on to me, I hope that the food industry hasn’t made prepared food so convenient to my generation that it will leave my grandchildren scratching their heads and wondering how I ever boiled water.

    This week’s recipe:
    Faster-than-you-can-say-takeout Grilled Salmon Kebabs
    (serves 4)

    • metal or bamboo skewers
    • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets with skin removed
    • 3 or 4 pineapple spears
    • olive oil
    • about 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
    • salt to taste

    Clean and oil grill (salmon mercilessly sticks to any grill debris) and set heat to medium-high.

    Dice fillets into roughly 1 inch cubes, and slice pineapple spears into half inch thick slices.

    Toss salmon cubes in a bowl with enough olive oil to coat.

    Thread skewers starting and ending with salmon and alternating with slices of fruit.

    Test grill by holding your hand about 4” from grill and start counting. If you make it to 4 to 5 seconds before having to pull your hand away, it’s ready. Longer than that, not hot enough. Shorter means too hot.

    When ready, place kebabs on grill and let cook for 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then turn 180° for another 4 minutes.

    Sprinkle with cilantro and salt.

    Serve with a simple streamed veggie like kale or broccoli and do a hi-5 selfie for cooking at home!

    Gelato. And it’s Paleo!

    Thursday, June 12th, 2014

    banana_gelatoI feel like I’ve been nagging you guys about sugar, so this week rather than badger and berate, I’ve decided to sweeten the deal with a really fun dessert recipe to put some healthy no-sugar-added sweetness into your sugar reduction process (which I hope is going well!). All it takes is a couple frozen bananas, a little unsweetened cocoa, nut butter and voilà: a natural treat that, no kidding, rivals the richest, creamiest gelato imaginable with no added sugar!

    2 perfect-ripe (not over, not under) bananas

    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

    2 tablespoons nut butter

    dash vanilla extract

    pinch of salt

    Peel the bananas and slice into 1 inch or so sections. Freeze overnight.

    In food processor, place frozen bananas and rest of ingredients.

    Blend a good 2 to 3 minutes until mixture has the consistency of a smooth, creamy gelato.

    Serve immediately; must be eaten cold. And trust me, it will be awesome!

    Fighting Sugar in a Theater Near You

    Thursday, June 5th, 2014

    This past weekend I went to see Fed Up, the Katie Couric movie that sheds mainstream light on what we Paleo folks have known for some time, which is that the amounts of sugar in the average American diet are killing us sweetly with a siren’s song.


    In 1822, the average American ate about the equivalent amount of sugar found in a single can of soda (10 tsp/40g) every 5 days. Given a combination of food industry consumer marketing and intense political lobbying, Americans now consume that much in 7 hours!

    An extremely addictive substance (gauged to be 8x as addictive as cocaine), sugar is being fed to us in tobacco company style. It is estimated that one in three Americans will be diabetic by 2050. That’s well over 100 million, which is a lot of people, which means big business. And if big business gets attached to all these sick consumers it will surely take a grassroots effort to save our lives and our children’s lives.

    Is there an acceptable amount of added sugar?

    The World Health Organization recommends reducing added sugar intake ‘to below 5% of total energy intake per day, or less than 6 teaspoons (24g). But given sugar’s highly addictive nature, a better strategy may be to eliminate it – with the exception of whole food sugar such as fruit – completely. Having done so, I can promise that before long you wake up from the flavor coma sugar keeps you under, and food starts to taste amazingly vibrant and alive and you will never want to go back!

    So what do we do?

    If your child or a dear loved one were addicted to a dangerous substance, you’d probably do anything you could. Start a conversation with children, family, friends.

    Read labels and don’t buy drinks or products with added sugar.

    Don’t be afraid to go through your pantry and refrigerator and throw Oreos out or drain the Dr. Pepper.

    Take your health seriously. Cut back or try the Fed Up sugar challenge. Set an example to those around you, and enlist the support of anyone open to the idea of reducing sugar. And if they’re not, take them to see Fed Up!

    Fats Make Food More Nutritious

    Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

    basil_smoothieIf you’re not consuming fats with your fruits and vegetables, you are wasting your time eating them at all. Since many vitamins and nutrients are fat-soluble, eating veggies in combination with healthy fats increases absorption of these substantially.

    A significant study looking at the effect of adding dietary lipids in the form of avocado or avocado oil to carotenoid-rich foods dramatically increased nutrient absorption: up to 7 times for lutein and 18 times for beta carotene. That’s big. And the absence of co-consumed lipids apparently was a shock, too, as study co-author Steven Clinton noted, “The fact that so little was absorbed when no fat was there was just amazing to me.”

    How much fat you need to get your fruits and veggies working for you has has yet to be specifically determined1, but definitely don’t shy away from drizzling olive oil on that salad, sautéing those veggies in a healthy scoop of coconut oil, or pouring some rich creamy coconut milk over your strawberries. Avoid trans fats, stick with the healthy ones (great pdf chart here from Diane Sanfilippo) and you can’t go wrong. No go eat your veggies!

    Recipe: A Green Smoothie You Can Absorb
    (adapted from Drink Your Greens, NYTimes; makes enough for 2
    • a handful of ice cubes
    • 1 cup coconut milk (full-fat = 40g, light=12, carton=4.5)
    • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
    • 1/2 packed cup fresh basil leaves
    • 2 tablespoons pistachio nuts (7g fat)
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (3g fat)
    • optional: 5-6 drops stevia or honey to taste (but I recommend going without sweetener)
    Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy by itself or have it with a salad or plate of raw veggies for a super-nutrient hit.

    1From Carotenoid Absorption Study: A minimum intake of 5 g lipids/d was suggested for sufficient absorption of β-carotene, whereas other studies recommended the presence of 3–5 g fat/meal for significant β-carotene absorption in adults. In our study, the low dose avocado (containing 12 g fat) was nearly as effective as the high dose (24 g fat) in increasing carotenoid absorption, indicating a nonlinear relation between the amount of lipid ingested and absorption of carotenoids, at least with a moderate fat intake. It remains to be elucidated, however, whether there is a minimum amount of lipid required for optimal carotenoid absorption that can be applied to various food sources.

    Let’s Talk About Goals!

    Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

    Amanda getting the HSPU done

    Amanda getting the HSPU done

    Goals tend to be very personal to the individual who sets them. Whether you want to squat more, or decrease body fat percentage or achieve a new tumbling pass, every one of us will benefit from setting a goal based on what we wish to accomplish.
    Setting a goal for your workout or nutrition program is vital to  success! Setting goals is a great way to analyze your training program, see if it’s working or if you need a course adjustment.  Any one of the coaches here at The Cave are happy to help you set personal goals.
    There are a few goals that would benefit just about every single one of us. By making sure you keep these in mind along with your specific goals tailored to you, you can get the absolute most beneficial results from your workout and diet program this year.


    The first goal you should set is to make an effort to drink more water each and every day, especially with the hotter weather approaching. We hear this specific advice over and over again but very few of us actually take it to heart.
    Did you know drinking enough water impacts everything from the amount of energy we have on a daily basis, to hunger, our ability to concentrate, and how quickly we recover from workout sessions?  Make it part of your daily routine; carry a water bottle, even two; fill them up every time you see a water fountain and don’t leave home before they’re full again!


    You should also be absolutely sure you are resting enough. It’s very easy, especially for the highly motivated to underestimate how much recovery is necessary for optimal progress and to push through fatigue with the thought process that working harder will only make you stronger. This isn’t so. Working harder, when the body can’t keep up, will actually only make you weaker, because when you’re doing additional exercise before recovery has taken place, you’re just further breaking down tissues rather than building them up.
    Do this over too long of a time period and you’ll really be facing some dire consequences such as lean muscle mass loss, a slowed metabolic rate, a lowered immune system, and over-training in general.  Trust me, it isn’t pretty.  Make a conscious effort this year to listen to your body more often. This is the toughest goal for me, one that I constantly struggle with.  If there was an “Over Trainers  Anonymous” group, I would be first in line for it !


    Third, the next important goal that you should set and make a priority during your workouts is:  Listen to your coaches.  It’s essential that you’re always using proper form and your coaches are there to help you.  Listen to them.
    If you aren’t using proper form as you execute your lifts, or skill work, there is a much higher chance that you’re not going to work the correct muscles and could very well end up sidelined with an injury.  Once again, trust me– this isn’t pretty. Even if it means you’re lifting lighter weights, using proper form is a must. Listen to your coaches.  They have the wisdom and experience necessary to help.


    Finally, you should choose at least one overall health goal. While it’s great to set aesthetic goals that you will be able to see on the outside, it’s also critical to remember the impact of regular workouts and a good diet for the inside.
    The big issue for some people who have set an extrinsic, aesthetic goal is that once you achieve that goal, the motivation to keep working out starts to fade. If you set a goal to make  living healthy a lifestyle, you’ll achieve a greater, long-term reward from your effort, which can also help maintain motivation.
    If you’ve ever suffered from, or someone close to you has suffered from, a serious health concern or illness, you will likely find that the health rewards really hit home and serve to keep you going when you’d rather not.  If you haven’t suffered from a health concern yet, it would be wise to make a list of all the health benefits that you know you’ll receive from your workouts and look over this list frequently. This will remind you of what you can achieve by sticking with the lifestyle goal.
    So, as you plan your training program for the coming months, be sure you keep these goals in mind. Goal setting is one of the most critical things you can do to make sure you see success…and it shouldn’t only happen at New Years!