The Missing Ingredient

Here’s a story that I hear pretty often. A friend is working hard at improving his fitness. He’s running 20 miles per week, hitting the gym 3-4 times per week, even paying attention to his diet…but he just isn’t seeing any improvement. At a glance, it seems like he’s doing all of the right things. So what’s missing?

We need to look a little closer, because it isn’t so much what he’s doing as HOW he’s doing it. What do those miles and gym workouts look like? If I had to guess, I’d bet that they aren’t particularly intense…and if you want to see your body really change, both in terms of its composition and ability to perform, INTENSITY is absolutely critical.

If you’re asking your body to consistently work at a level that it is accustomed to working, it just won’t change. Why would it? It already knows how to do what you’re asking of it.

Think of your body like a castle or a fortress. If your fortress is always attacked by an enemy that it can consistently and handily defeat, what motivation does it have to build stronger walls and better weapons? I’m not suggesting that you need to annihilate your fortress and burn it to the ground, that’ll just get you hurt. I am suggesting that you need to occasionally breach the gates and lob a few flaming arrows over the walls. So, how do we do this? I have good news. You can run fewer miles, spend less time in the gym, and still get better, faster results. Here are a couple of easy examples:

Swap out a long slow run for a shorter, faster one.  Instead of running 3-5 miles at a steady pace, try this:

  • Run an easy half-mile to warmup, then…
  • Run one mile for time (as fast as you can)
  • Run another easy half-mile to cool down

Trade an hour in the gym for a 15-minute circuit.

  • Set up a simple circuit of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats
  • Perform an exercise for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds, and rotate to the next exercise, and so on…
  • Complete as many repetitions as possible in 15 minutes (5 times through the circuit)

Your workouts don’t need to be complicated or time-consuming to be effective. Just don’t confuse simple with easy. While these shorter, more intense workouts will save you some time and improve your results, they do require you to work hard. By the end, you should be out of breath and sweating.

If this story sounds anything like you, please try this out for a few weeks and let us know how it goes. If you have any questions or want some more great workout examples, just email us at FitSmithsInfo@gmail.com, or you can always leave a comment here on the blog!

 

 

 

Homestyle Paleo Apple Crisp

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Hailing from the great state of Maine (The Way Life Should Be, The Pine Tree State, Vacationland), I love apple picking. Sadly, there’s not a whole lot of that going on in Florida. I’m still partial to my apple desserts however, so on Thanksgiving I experimented with a paleo version of Apple Crisp. It tasted good to me but I wasn’t really happy with it. I used eggs in the crumble to make it a little more doughy but I just didn’t really like it. I wanted a recipe more akin to the Apple Crisp I grew up with. So I tried again and this recipe I’m sharing with you is amazing. I brought it to a friend’s for dinner and it got 12 thumbs up (including Blayne’s and mine)!

The best Apple Crisp I’ve ever had used oats in the topping, it was amazing. I found some paleo recipes that substituted oats with shredded unsweetened coconut, I chose not to use coconut but check some of those out if you want a crunchy topping.

If you’d prefer to make a French Apple Pie with this recipe just add a pie crust to the pie plate, fill with the apple mix and top with the crumble. There are paleo pie crust recipes out there, I haven’t tried one yet, if you choose to use a paleo crust I’d love to hear about your experience!

**Please note that if you are trying to lose weight and eat a very strict diet, decide for yourself if you want to use sweeteners and Paleo-approved baking ingredients, such as coconut sugar, almond flour, etc. While these are better than the typical ingredients of white sugar, shortening, and white flour, they still should be consumed in moderation and treated as dessert items.

See full ingredients and instructions further down the page, here I’m going to walk you through some tips…

I use Macintosh or Cortland apples because they are soft, not too sweet, and not tart like Granny Smiths. Here is a guide for choosing good baking apples, Apple Guide.

To peel, core and slice the apples you can use an apple peeler, spiraler, or corer if you wish. Personally, I enjoy preparing apples for pie and crisp by hand. I peel using the method my Mimi taught me, pierce the skin with a paring knife and rotate the apple. I then quarter all my apples at once, core them all with my paring knife, and slice in 1/4 inch triangular pieces.

Apple crisp 1
Peel
Apple crisp 2
Quarter
Apple crisp 3
Core
Apple crisp 4
Slice

I use tapioca flour as a thickener in the filling, you can substitute with arrowroot powder, or a non-paleo thickening agent. You can also leave this out altogether, your filling may just be a little more runny.

In this recipe I substitute white and brown sugar with coconut sugar. It’s produced from the sap of a coconut palm tree and has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. Read about coconut sugar here. This is a look at the filling ingredients combined with the apple slices…

Apple crisp 5

This next step is very important… YOU MUST TASTE TEST THE COVERED APPLES. Why? Because they are freaking delicious!!

Apple crisp 6

I’m not sure how others grease a dish with coconut oil but I wear a sandwich bag over my hand like a glove and spread the oil liberally. I  just bought this unrefined coconut oil from Sam’s Club, 54 fl. oz. for $13.98. When I can’t get to Sam’s I usually buy LouAnn’s brand from Publix because its less expensive than the other brands. However, I noticed Publix is now selling their own which might be cheaper than LouAnn’s.

A note about unrefined coconut oil, it has a pretty distinct coconut flavor. Refined coconut oil is very mild and doesn’t have a taste in the final product.

Apple crisp 7

Spread apples evenly into greased dish

Apple crisp 8

At room temperature most coconut oil is gel-like, it is solid if chilled, and a clear liquid if heated. Chill your coconut oil to thicken it up, it doesn’t have to be an absolute solid.

Apple crisp 9

Add 1/2 cup coconut oil to your topping by dropping spoonfuls into the bowl.

Apple crisp 10

Cut the dry topping mixture with the oil, the same way you would cut a mixture with butter. I use this masher and it works like a dream, but you can use a fork just as well. Once the oil and dry ingredients are completely combined, fluff the mixture by scraping the masher or fork along the bottom of the bowl. This will allow the mixture to look more like a crumble.

Apple crisp 11

Cover the apple filling loosely with the crumble.

Apple crisp 12

Bake at 350 for 40 mins till the apple filling bubbles and your kitchen smells delicious : ))

Apple crisp 13

This recipe makes about 6 servings, divide leftovers into tupperware dishes for a quick snack or dessert. You can also freeze it for later. I like to take leftovers like these on the road with me for a snack : ))

Enjoy!

Have you found a great alternative Apple Crisp recipe? Have you tried mine? Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

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Details:
  • Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Servings: 6
  • Approved for: Paleo, Primal, Gluten-free
  • Macronutrients: Carbs (apple, coconut sugar), Fat (coconut flour, almond flour, coconut oil)
Ingredients:
6-7 medium (or 5 large) apples
Filling:
½ cup coconut sugar
½ tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp tapioca
½ tsp nutmeg

Topping:
1 c almond flour
¼ c coconut flour
½ c coconut sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt (optional)
½ c solid coconut oil (or butter if dairy tolerant)

Instructions:
1. Whisk filling ingredients together in a large bowl
2. Peel, core, quarter, and slice apples into 1/4 inch pieces
3. Add apple slices to the bowl with filling ingredients and toss or mix with a spoon (or hands) till the dry filling ingredients cover the apples
4. Grease your pie plate or baking dish with coconut oil
5. Spread apples evenly into greased dish
6. Place the all topping ingredients except coconut oil into a bowl and whisk to combine.
7. Add the coconut oil to topping mix by taking spoonfuls of the solid oil and dropping it into the mixture.
8. Cut the dry mix with the oil, the same way you would cut a mix with butter. Once the oil and dry ingredients are completely combined, fluff the mixture with the masher by scraping it along the bottom of the bowl. This will allow the mixture to look more like a crumble.
9. Cover the apple filling loosely with the crumble
10. Bake at 350 for 40 mins till filling bubbles

Homestyle Paleo-Spaghetti and meatballs

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I love noodles and pasta of all kinds. There’s just something about a warm full dish of spaghetti, a true comfort food. Luckily, if you want to avoid traditional pasta you can still enjoy spaghetti dishes by substituting with spaghetti squash (or zoodles, more on that later). Its simple to make and the leftovers can be used for breakfast the next morning, for pre-packed lunches, and as a side dish. This meal delivers carbs (squash and sauce) and protein (meatballs), round it out with a glass of almond milk (fat).

Spaghetti:

I’ve had people ask, so not to insult anyone’s intelligence but this is a spaghetti squash, found in produce next to other squashes. The one I have here is a bit pale, usually they are much more yellow. If you can’t find them at your grocery store ask an associate, they may be out or they may have some out back they can get for you.

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There are several ways to cook this squash, cooking whole takes longer. I like to halve it, scoop out the seeds, place it cut ends down in a pan containing half an inch of water, and bake on 400 for 30 minutes. I check it at 20 minutes and let it cook longer if needed. You know its done when you can pierce the exterior shell easily with a fork and you can also pull the strings apart easily with a fork. You’ve overcooked it if its more of a mushy consistency. If this is the case, move forward anyway, the final dish will have a different texture but will taste the same.

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Meatballs:

These meatballs substitute breadcrumbs with almond flour. I’ve tried it with flax meal in lieu of breadcrumbs and didn’t like it, the flax taste was too strong and made it taste too…. well, healthy I guess ha! You can add minced garlic and diced onions to your meatballs if you want, I went with the simple version here. Prepare and bake these as you would any other meatball, add all ingredients to a bowl, mix by hand, shape little balls onto a cookie sheet, and cook.

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Sauce:

You can make your own sauce, Google “paleo spaghetti squash recipe”, or you can buy one to use. Personally, I buy sauce, its faster and there are some decent sauces on the shelves if you know what you’re looking for. A few tips for finding a sauce on the shelf:

  1. Check out the ingredients. If you have no clue what something is, you probably don’t want to put it in your body. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils, and any oil that is not olive, grapeseed, or sesame. This example below has citric acid and calcium chloride, I didn’t know if this was bad or if I could live with it but I couldn’t seem to find any without these additives. Upon further inspection, citric acid keeps the sauce red by preventing oxidation of the tomatoes and calcium chloride is salt. I’m ok consuming these, you can read about these and other additives using this handy guide from Paleo Leap.
  2. Look at the Nutrition Facts. This example has 6 grams of sugar which is the lowest amount I could find when comparing to other sauces. If you are concerned about calories and sodium, make sure you know what is acceptable for you and your family. I have feelings about “total calories” that I’ll share in another post : )) But basically, not all calories are created equal.

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This recipe makes about 4 servings, divide leftovers into tupperware dishes for lunch or freeze for later. Leftover squash can be used as a side dish or for breakfast the next morning.

Enjoy!

Have you found a great alternative Spaghetti recipe? Have you tried mine? Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

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Details:
  • Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 30-45 minutes.
  • Servings: 4
  • Approved for: Paleo, Primal, Gluten-free, Whole30
  • Macronutrients: Carbs, Protein
Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash
water for pan
1 lb ground beef (or other meat)
1 egg
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
(other meatball seasonings as desired)
Olive oil to grease pan

Spaghetti sauce

Spaghetti Instructions:

1. Halve and scoop seeds from spaghetti squash

2. Place cut sides down in pan with a 1/2 inch of water
3. Bake at 375 for 30-45 mins

4. Cool until you can handle the squash then rake a fork across the flesh, pulling the “spaghetti” apart and placing it in a bowl

Meatball Instructions:
1. Place ground meat, egg, almond flour, and seasonings into a bowl
2. Thoroughly mix all ingredients by hand
3. Form whatever size balls you prefer, mine are a little smaller than a golf ball
4. Grease cookie sheet or pan by spreading olive oil with a paper towel
5. Place formed meatballs on cookie sheet or pan

6. Bake at 350 for 20 mins, cut one in half to see if its cooked through, cook longer if needed

Sauce Instructions:
1. Warm sauce stove top
Either
Make your own, here’s a simple sauce recipe to follow from Our Paleo Life. If you are making meatballs, eliminate the meat from the sauce.
Or
Buy one following the guidance above.