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Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

April 3rd, 2014 by karen

Cave Cookbook co-author and nutritionist, Susannah Wallenstrom, had given this recipe to me to share back in September, and though it’s taken me a while to get it up at the blog, I’ve been enjoying making it right along. It really is a time saver as well as wholeheartedly delicious!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
from Susannah Wallenstrom


Getting a healthy meal on the table every night is a challenge to say the least, but that’s where a slow cooker can come in handy! I love this dish because there are very few ingredients, it takes 15 minutes to put it together, and my whole family likes it (a miracle!) I put it together in the morning and it’s ready when I get home that evening.

The only ingredient you might not have on your spice rack is garam masala, which is a mixture of spices often used in Indian cooking. If you can’t find it in the spice aisle of your grocery store, you can make your own by combining ½ tsp cumin, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp coriander, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne.

You can serve this by itself, over brown rice or quinoa or over sautéed spinach (my favorite way).

Serves 8

Hands on time: 15 min

Cook time: On High: 3-4 hours, LOW: 7-8 hours


1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped (I sometimes use frozen garlic cubes from Trader Joe’s-so convenient and no mess!)

4 tablespoons tomato paste

4 tsp garam masala

kosher salt and black pepper

3 # boneless, skinless chicken thighs

½ English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 tbs fresh lemon juice


1. In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, stir together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Place the chicken over the tomato mixture, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, depending on how much time you have.

2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ tsp salt and pepper. This can sit in the fridge for up to 8 hours.

3. 5 minutes before serving, sauté the spinach and serve chicken on top

4. Serve with the cucumber relish

Taking Risks Is Beneficial

April 2nd, 2014 by Roger

NOTE:  This post focuses primarily on children and allowance of risky play, but speaks well to how adults should approach some risk as well.

Being involved in a sport with a very high perceived risk factor has caused me to look at safety very deeply.  Subsequently, running a business that involves people participating in activities with very high perceived risk factors, maximizing safety of the program is essential for continued operation.  What I find interesting about the actual data regarding risk -taking and safety, is that our society has swung so far toward trying to make everything safe that we have actually made people more prone to injury.

First, accidents happen.  They are an unfortunate part of life and are unpreventable if your goal is to enjoy the life you live.  Even if we were to remove all physical risk out of a person’s life by locking him in a padded room, the physical and psychological consequences would far exceed any safety benefit.  Yes, the rare, catastrophic accidents influence large aversions to physical risk, but they are very rare.  Since the ’70s, playgrounds have changed dramatically in the spirit of safety.  Yet, reviewing the statistics, these safety measures have not dramatically reduced these catastrophic accidents.  Adversely, they have created kids that are risk-averse and do not have as strong a sense of how to navigate the real world safely.

Head injuries, runaway motorcycles, a fatal fall onto a rock—most of the horrors Sweeney and Frost described all those years ago turn out to be freakishly rare, unexpected tragedies that no amount of safety-proofing can prevent.” ¹ This is a clear point.  I have heard the statement, “All accidents are preventable”.  I completely disagree with this statement.  While we have made great progress toward safety-proofing, (seat-belt compliance, workplace safety, etc.), believing that ALL accidents are preventable is folly, and attempting to regulate safety with this mind-set leads to decisions that can make people less safe.  For example, a Novato elementary school (that shall remain nameless), doesn’t allow children to run on campus at all.  Not allowing children to run may reduce the risk of injury from a fall on school grounds (though this doesn’t appear to be true either), but also leads children to believe that running is fundamentally unsafe,  further contributing to stagnant lifestyles with significant consequences.

Sensible risk-taking is essential for childhood development. Yes, kids are going to get banged up, yet, if we allow them to take some risks while they are small, they can safely figure things out and make informed decisions.  This is so important for children to learn while they are light enough to not cause physical injury or do significant damage.  Kids can take falls that would put an adult in the hospital.  They just get up, brush it off and walk away.  If we don’t let them take these risks, they will never learn to navigate them, and then, when something happens later in life, they will have no idea how to handle the situation and they could suffer more severe consequences.

I speak not only as a concerned business owner, I am also the father of two children with very different approaches to risk-taking.  On the scale of risk-taking, my daughter falls fairly average, being fearful with new activities, but able to gain confidence by working through and overcoming those fears.  On the other hand, my son is of the don’t-look-before-you-leap variety.  He is not cautious about anything.  Therefore, I  approach my encouragement of  their play differently.  I continually encourage my daughter to go ahead and take risks, and caution my son to just think about his risks before diving blindly forward.

Take a good look at what you allow your children to do, and what risks you allow them to take.  Give them room to explore this amazing world they live in.  There will always be the possibility of something horrible happening.  But you must understand that you can not remove this possibility.  If you allow for a steady progression of risk-taking, your children will grow to be very capable adults.

¹The article, The Overprotected Kid, greatly influenced my decision to share this post.  I encourage you to read the article as it holds a significant amount of great information.

Back Flips in Parkour!

April 1st, 2014 by JB

This week in parkour, coach Andrey Pfening set the focus on  wall back flips.  He designed four effective stations where our athletes practiced different skills. The skills were small pieces of the wall back flip skill itself.  This is a picture of your Parkour Fundamentals class (6-7yrs):

img_0910Parkour Fundamentals is a class created for our youngest traceurs (parkour practitioners).  The basics of parkour equal a solid base level of fitness coupled with the maturity to distinguish the difference between a stunt and calculated risk.  We understand that children aged 6 and 7 develop these attributes in many different ways and timelines.  Therefore, students participate in an hour long class designed to build strength, flexibility, and an understanding of how to use their bodies safely, all while having fun in a safe, learning environment.  Curriculum includes, but is not limited to:  Games, obstacle course navigation, and individual skill building stations.

Anthony is mid-way through landing a wall back flip as Derek, Caden  and Liam watch.  Huge thanks to coach Andrey Pfening on his creative and inspiring class set-up and for helping young athletes safely learn exciting skills.

What’s Happening This Week in The Cave?

March 31st, 2014 by Dana

Our office moved!  Read all about it here:  The Office Is Moving!

The Open is almost closed!   Great work to all the athletes that participated.  Join us for our After the Open Celebration Happy Hour next Friday, April 4th, at 4PM.  See you there! (The Silver Peso, yo.)

SAVE THE DATE:  Cave Client Appreciation BBQ — Saturday, May 3rd 1-7PM.  Stay tuned for more information!

Are you looking for some fun activities to keep the family busy during the spring break?  Our Spring Break Camps are perfect for any kid at any level!   Kids love spending extra hours with their coaches or getting to know new ones.
Spring Break Camps:

Register on-line by clicking the links above, OR call 415-927-1630 to sign up now!

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW, - these classes fill up FAST!
Summer Camps:


Swing Mechanics, Part 3 - The Support Swing

March 29th, 2014 by Roger

This article is the 3rd part of a 6-part series focused on swing mechanics and achieving efficient maximum swing on different equipment. Part 2 focused on the tap swing.  This week, the focus is the Support Swing.
A support swing is swinging in a free support between two fixed objects. From this position a swing can approach vertical in the forward swing and reach a handstand in the rearward swing. Working support swings builds support stability, strength, and shoulder mobility.

The Support swing
Start practicing the swing focusing on keeping your body completely straight. Your body should maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your toes. Do not pike in the forward swing, and do not arch in the rearward swing. The goal is not to see how high your feet can go, but to swing your entire body efficiently and effectively, as a unit. In the support your elbows should be turned so that the inside of your elbows are facing forward. This dramatically increases stability and will help prevent buckling as you swing through the bottom.
Once both your forward and rearward swings approach horizontal, you should start practicing the shrug. Through the bottom of the swing shrug your shoulders; then extend them at the top of both forward and rearward swings. This shrug allows for a very dynamic push at the peak of each swing, adding significant power to the movement. Practice the shrug by performing swings with relaxed, shrugged shoulders through the arc of the swing, and then, as it reaches its peak, extend your shoulders. This shrug and push gives additional upward force to the swing enabling greater function.

If you are performing your support swings on parallel bars there is an important skill to learn before attempting to reach a handstand. You should be comfortable with a forward roll on the bars. A forward roll is the safest way to bail out of a handstand that falls forward. Practice forward rolls by first kneeling on the bars. Your knees will be slightly outside the bars and your feet on the inside. Place your hands as close to your knees as possible. Lean forward and lift your hips, stick your elbows out so your upper arms rest on the bars. Push off your legs and roll over your arms, constantly pressing your elbows toward the floor to lock the shoulders into a “shelf” to support you. You will need to let go of the bars as you roll over, but this is a very natural reaction. At the end of the roll you will be in an upper arm support on the bars. Yes, this is uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary skill. The discomfort decreases as you get more proficient with the movement.

As the rearward swing approaches handstand, be sure to maintain a hollow body and push with your shoulders. Done properly this will ensure that the swing stops in the handstand. An arched swing leading with the heels, with the head out can easily swing past the handstand requiring a forward roll or other method of bailing out. A proper hollow swing to handstand will settle in the handstand regardless of how much momentum is behind it. If anything the swing will hop as it reaches vertical as the momentum is upward and not forward. A swing to handstand should be just an extension of a normal support swing. If you have to change your body alignment to get to the handstand, then the mechanics of your swing are not correct and you should continue to practice a proper swing before attempting to swing to handstand.

Next week Rings!

The Muscle Up — The Bane of 14.4

March 27th, 2014 by Amanda

Well, 14.4 has come and gone.   This week, I actually have nothing to complain about!  How amazing is that?  I think I finally decided to start competing…only 4 weeks into the game.  Nice, Amanda.

14.4–The Chipper: 60 cal. row, 50 toes to bar, 40 wall ball shots, 30 cleans, 20 muscle ups, 14 min. AMRAP


Ehren H. has taken the lead over Anthony of most attempts at this workout.  It paid off for him though, as 14.4.1 and 14.4.2 gave him no muscle ups, while 14.4.3 got him 2!  Great job Ehren!

Sera S. got 4 muscle ups in her second attempt.  Huge score for Sera, considering her muscle ups are a fairly new skill.  Awesome.

Mark A. apparently had seconds on the muscle ups and was able to pull out 4!

Martin H. takes the throne on 14.4 with 13 muscle ups completed!  Well done Martin!

Both Lori E. and Mark R. attempted 14.4 again on Sunday.   They improved significantly on their second go at it.

Lygia B. visited us from Outlier CrossFit in San Diego.  After getting used to our rings, she made a muscle up (almost 2) on her second attempt.

Again, so many PRs, so many epic tales.  Cavers, you continue to impress me!  Even if you didn’t make your muscle up, or you couldn’t complete the cleans, the gym performance has been outstanding.  (Some of you even competed sick.)  We’ve got one more to go, so stay in the game!

Here is our leader board:

Amanda’s recap of 14.4:

Competition Friday shaped up to be a good day.  I had planned to race Bo so that I would have someone to chase.  Most of you know about my love for rowing (it’s one of my least favorite activities, next to thrusters), so when I was informed that the chipper started with a row, my heart sank a bit. I was not going to do this alone!

After many graphs, tables, and time trials (thank you to the analysis team Martin, Ashley and Rich), I figured out that I wanted to be off the rower and started on the toes to bar at 3:30.  From there, in a perfect world, I could spend 2.5 minutes on the toes to bar, 1.5 minutes on the wall ball, and 2.5 minutes on the cleans.  This would give me 4 minutes of muscle ups.  Although this scenario was a bit ambitious, I wasn’t too far off.


I tried for the above splits.   I was slower on the toes to bar and a bit faster on the cleans, putting me to the muscle ups at 10:54.  Bo was off the rower probably 30-45 seconds before me, so I was able to chase him down on everything.  I was able to catch up on the cleans.  I tried for a set of 2 muscle ups which felt pretty good.  I was playing it smart by sticking to 2 so that I wouldn’t fatigue.  It hit fast, though, and I was able to complete 7, failing 3.  One of the fails was a fall from the top of the rings–very dramatic.   Bo completed 9.  Win for Bo.


I stuck to the same time plan.  I decided to break up the toes to bar more (because I failed some in the first attempt) and go harder on the wall ball (because I was scared of them on the first go).   I gained 20+ seconds on the toes to bar and wall balls, but used it during the cleans.  I think in the end this was a better idea so I wasn’t as winded for the muscle ups.   I ended up getting to the muscle ups one second faster than the first attempt. This time, though, I did singles.   Bo was faster here as well, having slowed down his row which made the entire workout different.  He was on the rings first getting a set of 5.  My goal was 10.  Doing singles, I was able to complete 10 with no fails and 30 seconds to go.  I went for 2 more and failed them both.  Bo also hit 10.   Tie for BoManda.  Martin still wins.

If I could change anything about my performance, I would have waited a little longer before attempting the 11th muscle up.  I most likely would have made the 11th, and failed the 12th.  I didn’t know I had hit the wall yet.  I ended up ranking 33rd on this workout which only bumped me up 3 places. I now sit at 47th. I was thinking that this would give me a better buffer, but I sit around a tight spread.  Until this week, I sit and pray for something good, but I’m pretty sure I know what to expect…not my favorites.


14.5 = Thrusters and Burpees

How to prepare:

Learn how to feel no pain, and do Tuesday’s programming!

Good luck everyone!

Zaatar and Plantain Bread

March 27th, 2014 by karen

zaatarOne of the many advantages of a caveman diet is a healthy salt to potassium ratio. For the hunter gatherer, sodium – like sugar – was scarce whereas potassium was abundant. Consequently we adapted: our need for sodium is around 200 - 500 mg/day depending on climate and roughly 5,000 mg/day for potassium. Although there hasn’t been conclusive evidence linking a high sodium diet alone to cardiovascular disease, studies compellingly show that it’s the ratio of salt to potassium that makes a difference. A modern diet averages 4:1 sodium to potassium whereas our primal ancestors could boast the exact opposite. And when a healthy balance of potassium to salt is achieved, it’s not just heart health we can enjoy but many other benefits as well including a strong defense against age-related muscle loss, stroke, and osteoporosis.

So for the recipe this week, let’s up the potassium and lower the salt with plantains and za’atar. One 8 ounce plantain has close to 900 mg potassium, and Purely Twins got me started – and I can’t stop – enjoying the easy and delicious recipe below. Za’atar is a wonderfully flavorful Mid-Eastern spice blend made with sumac (can be found at Whole Foods) which has a zesty salt-lemon flavor. Combined with thyme and sesame seeds, this very low-sodium blend is wonderful spread on chicken or fish prior to baking, eggs, veggies, or even just stealing a pinch from the jar!

Za’atar Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac

Oven dry the thyme for a few minutes in a 350° oven. Combine with rest of ingredients in a mortar and pestal, spice or coffee grinder and blend well. Store in a cool dark spot in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

Plantain Bread Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized green plantain (you can use one that’s yellow, but the recipe will turn out very sweet)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350°. Place peeled plantain along with eggs into blender or food processor and mix until smooth. Grease a 9×12” pyrex baking dish with coconut oil and pour in mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy warm sprinkled with olive oil and za’atar.

Parkour Additions!

March 26th, 2014 by JB

the_mega_boxYou might have noticed some recent construction occurring in front of 417.  This last week, we built a new feature for the parkour area.  It is an 8-foot tall wooden box, commonly called a mega box.  The mega box is a multi-use tool that allows us to practice wall runs, climb ups and spider wall.  Plus, the open “windows” on opposite sides of the mega box provide unique climb through opportunities.  We also added more wall features.  The mega box and new wall holds inspired hard work and solid training this week.  I’m looking forward to next week’s improvements and creativity!

Last week, in parkour, all the groups exceeded my expectations in the creativity, focus, and performance categories!  The classes participated in a creative exercise that we call “Add On”.    The Add On exercise works to build both mental and physical capacities by requiring focus in different areas.  The student needs to remember the sequence of movements being spontaneously created by the participants, while enduring the physical performance repeatedly.  All classes were impressive in their own interpretations of the game.  They all started with the same parameters as each group received a blue vault box and a hand rail.  While I made a few initial suggestions for moves, after a few minutes, the traceurs had a great parkour flow going and added moves that we have worked on in the past involving the scaffolding.

The progression of the traceurs in The Cave’s parkour program has been amazing to watch over the past few months.  The skill level just keeps going up!

Try playing Add On with your family at a playground or in your own backyard.  It’s a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and have a lot of fun!

What’s happening this week at The Cave!

March 25th, 2014 by Dana

From Roger:
“The CrossFit Games Open 2014 is coming to a close within the next week. Only one workout remains. We are waiting with anticipation to see what the final workout will be. I’m sure everyone hopes the workout contains at least one element of strength for each of us!  Work hard, stay strong.  Barring a disastrous last workout, our own Amanda N. is heading to Regionals! It will be her second bid at Regionals, initially qualifying in 2012. Let’s hope for a strong finish for Amanda!
Our three Level 6 girls are headed to State Championships on Sunday, March 30th. All three girls have done great in their first optional season. We have gymnasts in two sessions at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. The first session starts at 12pm with Liv and the second session starts at with Ashlyn and Mia. Feel free to cheer on and show your support for our talented, young athletes!”

Are you looking for some fun activities to keep the family busy during the spring break?  Our Spring Break Camps are perfect for any kid at any level!   Kids love spending extra hours with their coaches or getting to know new ones.
Spring Break Camps:

Register on-line by clicking the links above, OR call 415-927-1630 to sign up now!

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW, - these classes fill up FAST!
Summer Camps:


The Office Is Moving!

March 24th, 2014 by Amy

Yes, we’ve expanded again!  This weekend, the office was moved from the “kitchen-bathroom-changing-storage-waiting-back-room area” to a space all it’s own!

Come see us at 405 Tamal Plaza, which is the entrance on the east side of the building, next
to the current pre-rec/toddler room (406). We are super excited about this great new space! You can do everything there that you did in the other “office”:  Check your invoice, sign your waiver, switch classes, get on a wait-list, register for spring/summer camp, pay your bill, and say “hi” to the amazing office staff - Crystal, Carolynn, Sheridan, Mikaela, and Amy.

Going forward, we will do our very best to steer all clients to 405 as The Cave’s new main entrance, as opposed to the back parking lot.  First, the new office space is a clearer, safer entryway than navigating the busy parking lot and entering through one of the multiple doors in back.  Second, on the business end, it just makes sense to enter the gym through the office and get everything done that needs to get done before working out (i.e. waivers signed, fees paid, etc.).  PLUS, you can do some shopping as you stroll in since the pro shop has moved up front as well!

The visibility and openness of the new space is a real plus as The Cave continues to grow. Our office staff won’t actually be hidden ‘in the cave’ anymore from new clients.  Our new space has windows and exposure to the natural light of day. Vitamin D is happiness!  We’ll get plants!  And they’ll grow!

Stay tuned as we continue to acquire more real estate in the 400 building in Tamal Plaza.  Just around the corner is a parkour expansion AND the big build-out we’ve been planning for some time now.  Thank you sincerely for your continued loyalty and patience as we piece it all together.  We wouldn’t, couldn’t, be here without you.