The Cave

The Cave Blog

Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Roger’s Butternut Squash Soup

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

butternut_soupThis is a recipe I’ll always be grateful to Roger for sharing with me as it brings such enthusiastic smiles to my family when set at the table. Not that it’s a big surprise – when the squash comes out of the shopping bag the excitement begins. “Are you going to make the soup tonight?!” Warm, creamy and comforting, the blissful combination of flavors and the serenely smooth texture make this dish beg for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. The only thing I can think of that could possibly make this recipe better is doubling it!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes, about a half inch
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 dense tablespoon of minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 2 small to medium sized leeks, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°.

In a large bowl, toss squash, garlic, and thyme together with oil to coat. Transfer to a 9 x 12 inch pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, and bake for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and just turning brown.

While the squash bakes, cook the bacon in a stovetop skillet until just crispy. Remove bacon and toss leeks into skillet cooking in bacon fat until the leeks are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.

When squash is done, remove from oven and transfer into a large soup pot along with leeks and pan drippings.

Pour stock into pot to cover squash/leek mixture about a half inch over. Add more stock if needed for this.

Bring to a boil then turn down heat and let simmer, partially covered, for about 3o minutes.

Remove soup from heat and purée with immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, until smooth. Add milk and blend another minute or two until desired creamy consistency is reached.

Crumble or chop the cooked bacon and stir into the creamed soup.

Reheat if necessary and serve.

PALEO CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND FLOUR MUFFINS

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

muffINGREDIENTS
2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup Cacao Nibs

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Evenly distribute the batter between the muffin tins.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

Homemade Blackberry Paleo Fruit Roll-ups

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

homemadefruitrollups
These take a while to bake but are worth it!
Ingredients
1. 1 pint blackberries
2. 6-7 mint leaves
3. 1/4 cup honey
4. Dash of lime juice
Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees F.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
3. Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
4. Pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly with a spatula.
5. Bake for 5-6 hours, or until completely dried out but still sticky.
6. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
7. Cut the mixture into long strips. Start at one end and roll up each strip.
Store in an airtight container.
ENJOY!!!

The Cave is proud to announce that we are now selling RAW ORGANIC Coconut water!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Although I have personally never been a coconut water drinker, seeing as I am not a fan of the old socks and grandpa’s sofa flavor, this particular brand of coconut water had me seriously reconsidering my stance.

Sustainably and ethically (Fair Trade!) produced by a local San Francisco-based company Harmless Harvest, this wonderful completely paleo sports drink comes with many benefits, beating your regular post-workout drink out of the water.

It doesn’t taste like old socks: it has a refreshing, nutty-like taste and unlike your usual water, you actually feel immediately hydrated after drinking. Because it is raw (the only raw coconut water on the market), all of the good stuff in it (active compounds) is much more potent than in regular, pasteurized coconut water! Besides a few good carbs to replenish those lost during exercise, there are also plenty of very necessary electrolytes, such as…..

Lots of POTASSIUM (more than a large banana and fifteen times more than Gatorade or Powerade), Magnesium, Phosphorus, Calcium and Vitamin C and a bit of sodium to complete the mix.

It also contains high amounts of LAURIC ACID, which kills bacteria and viruses, and boosts your immune system.
It comes with lots of phenols, which are strong antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation after workouts (keep those DOMs away!) and keep you looking wrinkle-free.

PS…. it’s also a great hangover-cure!

Come to the office or swing by the Crossfit area this week to try a free sip of this awesome paleo post workout drink and see what the fuss is all about. Drink it during or after your workout, and you can even mix it with your favorite protein powder. Large 16oz = $5.00 and Small 8 oz = $3.00
Just remember to keep your bottle refrigerated (remember, it’s raw), and don’t worry about the pink color - that’s created by the phenols when they are hit by light.

ENJOY!

Paleo Italian Beef “Sandwiches”

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
grilled-beef-fillet-with-portobello-relish-r056719-ssIngredients
  • 2 1/2 lbs grass fed beef chuck roast
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried crushed rosemary
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 large portobella mushroom caps

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Combine all the spices together and rub them onto the roast.
  3. Sear the roast on one side for 4-5 minutes. Flip the roast over and sear for another 4-5 minutes. . Place the roast into the slow cooker and add the water and red wine vinegar.
  4. Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
  5. Remove the beef and shred the meat.
  6. Skim any fat off of the juice left in the crock pot and then add the Dijon mustard.
  7. Stir to combine.
  8. Add the shredded beef back to the crock pot and use portobella mushroom “buns” (Drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper and roasted for about 10 minutes at 450 F) for serving.

Tom Kha Gai

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

tom_kha_gaiThis is my favorite soup. It is especially wonderful with the traditional Thai spicing of kaffir lime leaves and galanga. You can find these in most Asian Markets (can be found in the Asian market on Mary St next to Peets and across from Whole Foods in San Rafael). Substitutions for these are noted below; lemongrass can found in Safeway. I keep packets in the freezer of these 3 spices mixed with the garlic which allows me to get this on the dinner table as a meal with kale on the side in 15 or 20 minutes.

I usually included minced jalapeño pepper and red bell pepper, but as nightshades are not Paleo, I’ve omitted these. If you know you are not sensitive to nightshades, they add fantastic kick and color respectively. If in doubt about nightshades, stick with black pepper as that is in the family Piperaceae as opposed to bell pepper, jalapeño, cayenne, et al which are in the Capsicum family and are nightshades.

In case you’ve wondered, the reason these nightshades and others including tomato, white potatoes, and eggplant are avoided in the Paleo diet is because of the potential inflammatory response of the body to lectins which, in sensitive individuals, can provoke an immune system response similar to that toward the WGA lectin in wheat/gluten in folks who are gluten-sensitive or celiac.

Basically, know yourself, listen to how your body responds to certain foods even if they are Paleo approved. This soup is awesome with or without the nightshades!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (I use 4 cubes of TJs frozen garlic)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, fine slice
  • 1 stalk lemon grass minced (if minced, stays in soup and is eaten; alternately – to make things easy – cut into 2” lengths and remove before serving)
  • 1 inch piece of galanga, fresh or dried (fabulous, delicious Thai root spice but if you can’t find it, ginger can be substituted)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons arrowroot, depending on amount of chicken used
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 can straw mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (make sure it’s wheat free)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. After oil is heated, add garlic, scallions, lemon grass, galanga, and lime leaves. (If substituting lime zest, save this until later below.) Heat and occasionally stir for 2 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, slice chicken into bit-sized slices or cubes and toss with arrowroot to lightly coat.

Add chicken to soup and cook for 4 minutes.

Add coconut milk, pepper, mushrooms, fish sauce lime juice and lime zest if making this substitution. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in cilantro and serve.

Balance Your Protein Intake With Gelatin

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

gelatin_snack_2Gelatin is a worthwhile consideration for balancing protein intake. Although it does not have the kind of amino acids needed for post-workout muscle recovery, it does have what is needed for connective tissue health.

In taking a Paleo view of nutrition, our modern protein consumption has become unbalanced favoring a limited diet of muscle meat and its amino acids over the aminos found in organs, cartilage, bone and sinew. We throw a lot of the animal away that would have been consumed by a hunter gatherer. That leaves us deficient in essential building blocks such as glycine, proline and collagen needed to support healthy joints, connective tissue, skin and bone.

Studies demonstrate gelatin’s ability to maintain strong ligament, tendon, and bone integrity providing clear benefits to weightlifters, body builders and other athletes whose joints and connective tissues are regularly subjected to stress. Gelatin builds the strength of our muscle’s supporting structures and reduces joint pain which in turn supports successful muscle-building.

Gelatin can be flavorlessly and texturelessly added to cooking or a protein shake in the form of non-congealing collagen hydrolysate as well as used in the traditional gelling form to make snacks such this week’s recipe below.* I purchase both forms of gelatin from Great Lakes as their gelatin products are antibiotic and hormone free.

Blueberry Peach Gelatin Squares

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh peaches, peeled and diced (I almost threw out my mealy end-of-season peaches before realizing they were perfect for this recipe; any disappointing fruit would work for this!)
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon**
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup gelatin

Combine blueberries, peaches, coconut water, honey and cinnamon in a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Let simmer stirring occasionally until fruit has liquified, about 10 minutes.

While fruit is simmering, add gelatin to coconut milk and let sit for 10 minutes. After sitting, add to fruit mixture and stir for a few minutes until gelatin has dissolved; do not allow to boil.

Pour mix into a square pyrex pan or mold of choice. Chill a few hours then dice as desired and enjoy!

*10 grams a day recommended

**The lovely thing about cinnamon and other sweet-friendly spices such as cardamom is that they enhance the perception of sweetness allowing one to minimize the use of sweeteners in a recipe.

Fried Sweet Plantain Chips

Friday, August 29th, 2014
paleo-plantain-chipspp_w717_h478Start with some green plantains, which I like to think of as a less sugary banana. They’re a bit harder to peel than your typical bananas, so it’s best to use a knife to score down the sides and then peel off the skin. Once you get the skin off, it’s just a case of slicing them. The thinner the slices, the more crispy and delicious the chips and found keeping the plantains in the fridge helped to make them  more solid, and then slicing a bit easier.
Then take a saucepan, and pour enough coconut oil into it so that the coconut oil comes around 1/4 inch up the pan. That should be enough to fry the chips in batches. Medium heat  is enough to get a good frying action going. The slices do tend to stick together so drop them in one at a time, ensuring they each get their own space in the oil. The coconut oil should be hot enough so that as soon as the plantain slice hits the oil, it starts to gently sizzle. Because we’re frying such thin slices, it should take less than a minute for it to be done.  Using a slotted spoon scoop them out the minute they  turn golden. Be careful you’re dealing with really hot oil.  Salt is optional, my kids love them with out the salt but my husband always puts it on when we’re not looking.
Hope you love them as much as I do!

Post Exercise Nutrition (recovery-drink) Part 1

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

rogue-shaker-bottle-2_2It’s hard not to notice the assorted blender bottles filled with some mysterious, powdery concoctions that CrossFitters run to inhale after they finish a WOD.  Have you ever wondered exactly what it is we’re drinking and why?  What is this strange powder? These interesting concoctions are our important post-exercise recovery drinks.  Now, allow me to explain the “why.”

Post-exercise nutrition can improve the quality and the rate of recovery after a serious exercise. The right nutrition ingested immediately following a workout, and up to two hours later, can drastically improve one’s recovery time. Classic signs of poor recovery include fatigue, lackluster workouts, extended muscle soreness, lack of increased strength, and lack of increased muscle mass.  Obviously, we’ll experience certain degrees of these signs at different times, but wouldn’t it be great to minimize them?

First, a little science lesson to aid in your understanding:  From a physiological perspective, muscle fibers are made of protein and will increase in size if the protein is synthesized. Exercise increases the breakdown in muscle protein while decreasing protein synthesis. Exercise also depletes glycogen (consisting of glucose molecules), which is what the muscles use for energy.

The goal of post-exercise nutrition is to replenish the glycogen stores and encourage protein synthesis, or muscle building. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of glucose, the molecule used to build glycogen. By ingesting carbohydrates, glycogen stores are replenished rapidly, which is important because consistently low glycogen stores lead to a breakdown of muscle protein and a loss of muscle mass. Carbohydrates also increase the body’s insulin concentration, which is essential for glycogen and protein synthesis. Carbohydrates also promote the release of growth hormone, which promotes protein synthesis, and leads to increased muscle mass. Finally, carbohydrates decrease cortisol concentration. Cortisol, also known as a “stress hormone,” is released in response to both physical and psychological stress. During a workout, cortisol levels are increased, causing muscle protein to break down.

Adding protein to a carbohydrate mix will significantly enhance the release of insulin compared to carbohydrate alone.  Whey protein is quickly absorbed, while additional amino acids increase their availability to be used as building blocks. An important essential amino acid in a recovery drink is leucine because it works synergistically with insulin to maximize protein synthesis.


What does the the optimal post-recovery drink nutrition look like after a high intensity WOD?  The drink would consist of a mixture of carbohydrates and protein, with no more than a 2:1 ratio. If the recovery drink is consumed immediately following exercise, the rate of glycogen synthesis is three times higher than if it is consumed two hours after exercise completion. Therefore, it is important and more beneficial to consume the drink as soon after exercising as possible.


So, the next time you witness a box full of sweaty, exhausted CrossFitters reaching for their blender bottles filled with mysterious powder, you’ll know they are just making sure to get the most out of all the hard work they just did.

In the next post, we’ll compare and contrast the most popular recovery drinks!rogue-shaker-bottle-2_2

CRAVINGS: BEAT YOUR SWEET FAT TOOTH

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

CRAVINGS: BEAT YOUR SWEET FAT TOOTH
Humans are hardwired to crave fat and sugar.

Perhaps you knew this.  I’ve known it for awhile and tried to convince my sister that we could break the human system.  All she had to do was let me use her son as my control group.  No big deal.
“Hey! I have an idea!!!…”
Sis: “Hmmm…”
“No. It’s cool. You’re gonna love it!…”
Sis: “Hmmm…”
“Let’s do an experiment! You should feed Zach only ice cream, candy, cakes, sugar, basically all junk for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Then, for dessert, feed him salad, veggies, chicken, all things NOT junk.  Then we’ll see if he will only crave good food, tricking his body into thinking that his treats are actually treats when in fact they are healthy foods.  It will be the opposite.  Ta-daaaaaa!!!!”
Sis: “Do you remember mom dropping you on your head at some point?”
“Um, no…why?”
Needless to say, I didn’t get far.  But honestly, am I the only one who feels points (and possibly cash) should be awarded for creatively using a family member in a science experiment while attempting to bio-hack our systems and possibly
save

MAN

KIND?!!!?

Whatever.  I tried.

WHY ARE WE PREDISPOSED TO LIKING THIS STUFF SO MUCH??

Before you get your Paleo panties all in a bunch, remember that these foods were a big part of human survival.  Sugars (fruits and wild honey) and fats (animals, nuts, avocados) ensured high calories and lots of energy.  Since there were no “Cave Cafe’s” to pop in and grab lunch, food was never a guarantee and skipping meals (or more) was a regular event.

We can assume the following conversation never took place:

“Oh, no fruit for me. I’m trying to cut back, get lean for summer. Grok’s been checking me out and I’m really hoping he picks me to club and drag back to the den tonight.”

SAID NO CAVE GIRL EVER!

We ate what we could, when we could, as much as we could. The fattier foods, the sweeter foods, meant health, nutrition and life.  So one could say we are genetically engineered to have a sweet tooth AND a fat tooth.

What’s the problem with that today?  You know the problem.  It’s hanging over your belt right now.  Calories, aka food, is everywhere. Plus, we just aren’t as active as we once were.  No longer are we needing an abundance of calories to chase our protein and forage our carbs.  We sit and sleep 90% of the day.  Not to mention the majority of sugars (carbs) and fats most of the population is consuming these days are coming from highly refined, unnatural sources like…

High fructose corn syrup/corn syrup: soda, candy, “fruit” snacks, cereals, dressing, cough medicine/drops, breads…everything under the sun.

Hydrogenated oils: margarine, crackers, chips, cakes, cookies, Hostess crap, unnatural peanut butter like Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan etc.,  fake cheese (CHEEZ WHIZ), microwave popcorn, non-stick spray…everything under the sun.

Vegetable oil: corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, soybean which is used to cook or is added to everything under the sun.

Agave nectar: Labeled as a healthier alternative to sugar.  It’s not, and here’s why.

Grains and all by-products: flours, baked products, fried stuff, coated crap and all things under the sun.

With the over consumption of these poor choices, it’s safe to say these foods are a huge part of modern man’s demise. HUGE!

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

Stay away from that stuff as often as possible. Just do it.

But Jaime, I like to have a treat every once in a while. Can’t  I…

No.

But…

No.

You’re mean.

Yes.  BUT, I care about your insides probably more than you do.

Look, I understand that on occasion, it’s nice to have a little something outside the meat, veggie regime.  For some, eating Paleo or just real food can seem a little strict, harsh, boring and plain ol’ plain.  And if you’re used to all that stuff I mentioned above, I can see how this could be true, but mostly that’s an excuse because that is poison and real food is not.  Also, why does a ‘treat’ have to compromise our health?  Literally, that stuff is killing us.

Assuming you’re not hungry, not thirsty and not bored, here’s 3 suggestions for feeding your real food or paleo sweet tooth:

  1. A few frozen cherries, berries, mango chunks or whatever.  I like frozen because it takes longer to eat.  If you mix with a few spoonfuls of coconut milk (the real deal out of a can), it’s like fruity ice cream.

  2. 85% - 100% chocolate bar.  The higher the cacao content, the less sugar and better for you.

  3. Dried fruit is not a great option because of the high concentrations of sugar content. But, if you’re the one person who can have a slice of dried mango and be done, awesome…and who are you?

* Keep in mind that if your goal is to lose fat and lean out, then giving into your sweet tooth on a regular basis is not the way to go.  In fact, some folks say you shouldn’t give in to your sweet tooth and that by doing so you are feeding a baby throwing a tantrum.  Instead, try to eat some sort of protein and healthy fat like salmon.  I like this but also find it to be unrealistic at times.  Be smart. Know what you want. Your call.

3 suggestions to feed your real food or paleo fat tooth:

  1. A can of full fat coconut milk dumped in a mason jar and set in the fridge will turn into super thick cream.  AMAZING!  A spoonful of that will do you good. Heavy whipping cream works too, if you’re good with dairy.

  2. Coconut butter or some nut butter on a spoon. Smashed avocados work too.

  3. Animal fat. Seriously.  Maybe you really are craving some meat like a burger, steak, fatty fish or chicken thighs.

*Quality fats like these are not the culprit in our ever increasing obesity epidemic.  It’s the “franken-fats” that I talked about before.  It ALWAYS comes down to the quality of the food.

Feed your real food or paleo…ish fat and sweet tooth.

Sometimes you really do want a cookie, a cake, a triple chocolate fudge bar.  Ok, so figure out how to MAKE it by swapping out the crap ingredients like wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup and margarine, and start using better ingredients like raw honey, grass fed butter, coconut flour, almond meal, whole eggs and dark cocoa powder.

It’s easier than you think.  But, if you need ideas or help, check out Elana’s Pantry for gluten free, paleo, dairy free, grain free baked goods, treats, desserts, breads and all things we, the humans, love.