Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Tides of Change

After three years, I've come to a conclusion... it's time for a change.  With much debate, I've decided to move my blog to a new home with more focused content.  I'm inviting you all to come check out GastroPrimal - fusing culinary science and wholesome, natural ingredients.  Over the past two years, I've found myself drifting away from the kitchen and I want to use this new outlet to reconnect.  It's time for a fresh start and I hope all of my readers are ready to come on the journey with me...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Winning & Ready for Some Changes

Today was a really good day.  Since getting sick, feeling like myself in the gym has been a bit of a struggle.  My strength pared back a bit and my endurance took a nose dive off a cliff.  It's my own damn fault as I completely fell off every wagon during my recovery - working out, nutrition and mobility - and it's been a battle on several levels to get back to where I was.

Tonight's workout was really challenging, but for the first time in a while, I was able to keep a good pace the entire time and finish strong.  Definitely a tick in the win column.

I've also come to the conclusion that The Tipsy Cupcake needs a bit of an overhaul.  Three years ago when I started this blog, I was a completely different person in a very different place in my life.  Although I think it's a great chronology of my journey, it's time to take a step forward and better reflect who I am now and the topics I talk about.

There are some big changes on the horizon coupled with some new projects (I wouldn't be me if I didn't have a new project in the works....)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Back and on track to better than ever...

So first and foremost, I need to apologize for my lapse in blogging.  I managed to hurt myself pretty badly and hostly, the past few weeks I haven't been in the best headspace with regard to sharing my thoughts.

As many of you know from my previous entries, 14.5 was a pretty challenging workout for me.  As it turns on, pushing through that workout gave me a moderate case of rhabdomyolysis (aka rhabdo), a rare condition that's prevalent in crossfitters and marathon runners where you over stress a muscle group and the proteins begin to breakdown into your blood stream.  A normal person at rest has a protein count of around 100 units at any given time, by the time I got tested over a week after the workout, mine was around 3,000 units.

While the experience was far from enjoyable and I'm still slowly ramping back into my regular workouts and weights, I'm just thankful it wasn't worse.  Severe cases of rhabdo can lead to kidney and liver failure, as well as a host of other unpleasant long term side effects.

One thing I've definitely taken away from this, is to really listen to my body.  There's a pretty substantial difference between "I want to stop because this workout sucks but I can push through" and "I need to stop because my body is telling me something is wrong."  Being that CrossFit is a community full of people who love pushing their limits, myself being no exception, the idea of tapping out on a workout isn't an idea I love but I do see the necessity of listening to my body.  During 14.5, I remember hitting a point where I just started crying, not sobbing, but just uncontrollably tearing.  In the future, I've accepted that signs like that are things I need to actually pay attention to.

Lessons learned and moving forward, I know what to look for to prevent ever pushing myself past my body's capabilities again.  I've used my recovery time to work on some things that don't require weights and I must say, my handstands and pistols are looking much better.  Silver linings...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Down... But Never Out

Did anyone get the license plate of that truck that hit me?  CF 14.5... got it.  It's been a while since I was this sore from a workout.  Standing hurts, sitting hurts, breathing hurts... you get the idea.  It's also kind of funny how a little time (in this case, about a day) can change my perspective on things.

I completed workout 14.5 on Monday night, after procrastinating it as long as humanly possible, with less than stellar results.  The workout itself was an awful experience for me and literally brought me to involuntary tears part of the way through.  Once I collapsed after finishing (literally), I remember thinking, "you never, ever have to do that again... silver lining."  Yesterday, while I maintained my fervor that 14.5 was a one time thing, I started thinking about my thrusters.  

I've hated thrusters since I started CrossFit.  I know my form isn't ideal - okay, let's be honest, my thruster form is typically a front squat followed by a strict press - my form sucks.  During the workout, one of my coaches started breaking down what I was doing wrong and how to fix it.  Okay, when i do them right - as in, using your whole lower body to "thrust" the bar up - they're not so bad.  Granted of the 82 reps I preformed on Monday, around 70 of them were still awful, but the 12 or so I managed to clean up actually didn't feel that bad.  

So after another night to sleep on the pain and anguish that was 14.5, my mindset has transitioned from "never again" to "I can do better."  Maybe it's the ibuprofen talking (yep, I'm hardcore), but I see no reason I can't work on my cardio endurance and lifting form to improve this workout.  So, in order to hold myself accountable, here it goes - I'm giving myself six months (that will bring us to the end of September) and I'm doing it again.  This time, my thrusters will be thrusters, my burpees will not be me collapsing in a pile of goo 82 times.  14.5 won this round, but I'll be back.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

14.5... a.k.a. Fran's Drunk Sister

Last night, I completed my first CrossFit Open.  I also engaged in a workout that made me cry, throw up and question my sanity.  For the first time in over a year now, a workout has made me, albeit for a brief moment, consider quitting CrossFit.

14.5 was a descending rep ladder of 65# thrusters and bar facing burpees, starting at a round of 21 and decreasing by 3 reps each time until you reach the final round of 3.  At first glance, I thought the workout looked challenging but not crippling.  I was wrong.  Thrusters have never been a strong movement for me - although they're a work in progress, they tend to be more of a front squat followed by a push press rather than a true thruster per se.  Burpees are well, burpees.  Nothing I can't do, but definitely a movement that slows down drastically once I get tired.  After my first round of 21 thrusters, I was tired.

Usually, I can find a point in a workout where I'm proud I accomplished something, a silver lining if you will.  I'm at a loss here.  It did eventually end.... I suppose that's a positive note.  This was far and away the hardest, most painful workout I've done in my CrossFitting experience thus far.  Well done Dave Castro, well done.  Please don't ever make this a throwback workout in future opens, okay?

On the whole, I'm glad I participated in the open but I'm also glad it's come to a close.  I'm ready to get back to a solid blend of lifting heavy weights, skill work and metcons, which we needed to step away from during open programming.  The open did teach me a lot about my abilities and how far I've come in the past year - I can do chest to bar pull-ups and double unders gosh darn it - but it also brought to light a lot of movements I want to work on more intensively (cough, cough, thrusters cough, cough).  While I'm no where near ready to think about next year's open, I am glad to have the experience of my first one under my belt and I'm excited to see what I can do in the coming year.

I am actually excited for the rest and rehab week we have programmed at our gym prior to jumping back into a strength cycle next week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pole Fitness - Trying a Variation on the Barbell

So yesterday, I joined the Blog & Tweet NH group in a Pole Fitness class at New Perspectives Pole & Aerial Fitness with Juel Sheridan.  I know I've been talking a lot lately about stepping outside my comfort zone and let it be known, this is WAY outside the box for me at this point in my life.  While I did have a few flashback to my time at Coyote Ugly in my early 20's, this was certainly a new experience for me.

First and foremost, I have to give some credit to our instructor Juel for her incredible athleticism and strength.  This woman is amazing and I aspire to have half the quads and core strength she brings to the table.  On top of that, she brings fantastic rhythm and a way of moving from pose to pose that is just flawless.  Unfortunately, I lack anything resembling grace and coordination so my attempts at the routine were far less appealing.

We began the class with some basic floor work that started with a few yoga-based stretches and quickly transitioned to fan kicks and body rolls... moves that can be used in a routine to keep it flowing after you dismount from a spin or lift on the pole.

Once we began working on the pole, my extreme lack of coordination began to shine though... as in, I managed to turn into the pole on a few occasions.  Juel however, was patient and extremely helpful with form so by the end, even though my face may have not conveyed the right level of sex appeal (I was gripping the pole for dear life), I was able to complete the move.

Our class was a crash course in pole fitness that would traditionally be broken up over two or three intro sessions, making the moves a bit less overwhelming for the rhythmically challenged, like myself.

The session was a lot of fun, and definitely something I'd consider doing again but on a regular basis, I think personally, I'm more suited for sticking a heavy barbell on my back and squatting.

If you're in the Manchester area and interested in checking out New Perspectives, they're hosting a grand opening celebration on May 3rd.  You can also check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Find Your Weakness... and Destroy It

Winter in New Hampshire is starting to show signs of drawing to a close... halle-freakin-lujah.  While winter brings a few perks along with it, if I'm not careening down a mountain bound to a board, I'm not exactly a huge fan.  I don't do too well with cold in general.

Last year, as winter was wrapping up, I was just starting to get into my CrossFit routine, which led to a lot of positive lifestyle changes.  While I'm not looking to take on a new activity again this year, I do want to look at this as an opportunity to adapt some positive new habits into my everyday routine. I read a pretty great list this morning on 50 Ways to get Better at CrossFit written by Colin Suckert that really struck a chord.  I've made some really positive progress in the past few weeks and I would like to figure out some steps to keeping that moving in the right direction.  My 30 days of wall balls and pull-ups has yielded some solid results as well - I get far less winded doing wall balls than I had before and my pull-ups have come a long way.  After getting 12 strict chest-to-bars in open workout 14.2, I did manage to link 3 kipping pull-ups together.  I'm still not 100% there but they're definitely coming along faster than before.  This idea of taking my weaknesses and deciding to convert them into strengths might actually be on to something.  When I see pull-ups in a metcon now, I don't panic, I'm actually excited to work on them.  Woot for progress!

Next on the docket, along with continuing work on pull-ups, double unders.  They've transitioned from "I can't do these damn things at all" to "on a good day, I can string quite a few together," but I know there's a lot more ground to gain here.  Cheers to baby steps!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Double or nothing...

At the conclusion of workout 14.2, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet completed 404 reps of the overhead squat, chest to bar pull-up couplet.  I competed 32 reps and I'm probably just about excited as she is with my result.

When I started CrossFit just over a year ago, being able to do an unassisted pull-up was a mere dream, let alone getting my chest up to the bar.  I remember hanging from the rig, trying with every ounce of my being to pull myself up, but alas, I would just hang.  After a long, grueling year of progress, I'm still working on the rhythm of kipping and linking my pull-ups together, however I can do strict ones (with a little bit of a "leg kip" - think of kipping a ring dip, yeah, that's pretty much what I do on the pull-up bar).  Up until Friday, I had managed three chest to bar pull-ups in my lifetime.  Three.  Not consecutively, total.  

When workout 14.2 was announced, I was both nervous and excited.  Nervous because I was dealing with movements I wasn't fully comfortable with and excited because I knew this was something I could tackle.  My goal - more chest to bar pull-ups in that workout than I've ever done in my CrossFit career - basically, 4.  The workout began with 10 overhead squats at 65#, something I knew I could managed relatively quickly, followed by 10 chest to bar pull-ups, then repeated within a 3 minute time cap.  During my first attempt Friday evening, I managed to get a total of 16 reps - that's 6 chest to bar pull-ups!  Along the way, I made 8 other pull-up attempts that didn't quite get high enough unfortunately.  While I was so proud of myself, those 8 no-rep pull-ups were mocking me.  I decided to reattempt the workout on Monday evening, just before the score submission deadline, and guess what - 32 reps!  That was 12 chest to bar pull-ups with every single rep being high enough to count toward my score.  

Like I mentioned before, my 32 reps probably made me about as happy as Camille was with taking first place worldwide in the event.  No, I can't compare my performance to hers as we're not even in the same stratosphere of fitness, but I achieved something I wasn't sure was possible - probably much like Camille taking the event by 49 reps over the second place finisher (damn that girl is amazing).  

This is my first time competing in the Open and only two weeks in, I've learned so much about how to push myself to achieve more than what I previously capable of.  I don't need to be a Regionals contender in order to get the best out of my performance that I can, I just need to have the tenacity and faith in myself that anything is possible.  14.3, I'm coming for you!  (Fingers crossed for some heavy deadlift action...)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Protein Crepes

Since James and I have sworn off gluten and transitioned our diet to being more primally based, there are certain things I've missed.  Decadent crepes stuffed with creamy fruit filling and slathered in Nutella would fall on that list.  This past Saturday morning, I played around in the kitchen for a while while James and the puppies slept in and after some trial and error (there was a pretty good deal of error before the eureka moment, I may add) I concocted a recipe that really hit the spot for curbing a craving without derailing progress.  For a each filled crepe, you're looking at 200 calories, 19 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbs with 4 grams of fiber.  Not too shabby of a way to start your day...  I know it's not a straight up pancake, but seeing that today is National Pancake Day, it only seemed appropriate to share.

Primal Protein Crepes
makes 4 crepes

2 large eggs
3 egg whites
2 scoops Tera's Whey bourbon vanilla organic protein powder
4 teaspoons coconut flour
1 stevia packet or 4 drops of liquid stevia
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
grass fed butter or coconut oil, for greasing the pan

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 oz dark chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut milk

- In a mixing bowl or a blender bottle, combine eggs, egg whites, protein powder, coconut flour, stevia, coconut milk, baking powder and salt and whisk until well incorporated
- Preheat a nonstick skillet or crepe pan on medium heat
- Add one teaspoon of butter or coconut oil to the pan and once melted, coat the entire cooking surface
- Pour 1/4 of the pancake batter into the pan and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned with stiff edges
- Turn your crepe and cook for an additional minute to minute and a half before removing it from the pan
- Re-grease your pan and continue until all crepes have been cooked

- In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the raspberries until thawed - around 30-45 seconds
- Add mascarpone, yogurt and maple syrup to the raspberries and mix until well incorporated

- In a small microwave safe bowl, melt your chocolate in 20 second intervals, stirring each time (do not overheat your chocolate or it will seize rather than melt into a creamy consistency)
- Stir in coconut milk

- Spoon approximately 1/3 cup of filling into the center of each crepe, fold over and drizzle with chocolate sauce prior to serving

Friday, February 28, 2014

Easy Primal Breakfast Caserole

I love breakfast and all foods associated with it.  I also love breakfast food anytime of day and am constantly on the lookout for recipes that are great make-ahead options to incorporate my favorite flavors at any meal.  This crockpot casserole is so incredibly easy and it reheats great.  And just think, how amazing would it be to wake up tomorrow with the smell of maple sausage permitting your home and breakfast ready and waiting for you?  Pretty awesome.  Pretty awesome.

Primal Breakfast Casserole

4 medium sized sweet potatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1 pound of ground breakfast sausage*
1/4 cup maple syrup
12 eggs
1 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon pizza seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
15 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

- Wash, peel and shred sweet potatoes using a course cheese grater
- Finely dice onion
- Combine sweet potato, onion, pizza seasoning, salt and pepper until well incorporated
- In a 6-quart crockpot, create a layer using 1/4 of your potato mixture
- In your next layer, place 1/4 of your ground/crumbled sausage and drizzle with maple syrup
- Sprinkle a thin layer of cheddar cheese
- Repeat this process until you've formed 4 layers in the crockpot
- Whisk together your eggs and milk and pour the mixture over the top of your crockpot layers
- Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 9 hours
- Store any uneaten casserole in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in an airtight container

*you can also remove the casing from sausage links and crumble the meat inside as well

14.1 and my CrossFit-iversary

Last night, The CrossFit Open kicked off with their opening WOD announcement.  To borrow a metaphore from The Girls Gone WOD Podcast, I felt like I was watching the reaping scene in the Hunger Games - however this time, the WODs were not in my favor.

Backing up for a moment, for all my non-CrossFit readers, The Open is a worldwide competition that kicks off The CrossFit Games.  In order to truly crown the winners of The Games, "The Fittest Man and Woman on Earth," you have to technically make the competition open to well, everyone on earth.  Each week for five weeks, they announce a different workout for competitors to complete and record their scores to the leaderboard.  That way, you can see how you stack up agains the other 190+ thousand competitors in the world.  It's a really incredible way to bring such an amazing community together.  I can also say with absolute resolve that I'm competing against Christmas Abbott.  Yup... I'm coming for ya...

So back to this first workout, aka 14.1.  The programming committee thought it was time for a throwback workout.  Let's revisit the first open workout ever, 11.1 - a 10 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 30 double unders and 15 55# snatches.  If I'm speaking Russian to you at this point, check out this video of the workout to clarify.

Now double unders are not a good friend of mine.  We're getting better acquainted lately, but we still have our spats.  I knew they were going to come up in an open workout somewhere, I just wasn't expecting them to be the first move of the first workout.

I made my first attempt at the workout this evening and achieved 170 reps (three full rounds plus 30 double unders and 5 snatches into my fourth round), which I was pretty okay with.  My reaching goal for the workout is to break 200 repetitions but that will take a magical day where double unders and I are getting along splendidly.  I'm going to attempt it again on Monday and we'll see how that goes.

I also wanted to point out that this past week was my one year CrossFit-iversary!  Happy CrossFit-iversary to me (and James)!  We had started working with a trainer a year prior to joining our affiliate and slowly worked our way into CrossFit-like workouts and movements, but the official date of our induction into the CrossFit community commenced one year ago.  It's been quite a ride so far and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future brings!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Now Leaving My Comfort Zone...

So I made a promise to myself recently.  I promised I would stop modifying my workouts in order to do well and force myself to preform the movement prescribed whenever possible.  When it comes to weights, this has never really been a major issue for me.  Lifting heavy things has become one of my strengths [no pun intended] and although my form on many of my lifts is far from perfect, I can preform the movements.  

My issue arises when it comes to body weight and gymnastic skills - pull-ups, hand stand push-ups, double unders and the like.  I'm physically capable of doing a pull-up, albeit ugly, I can get my chin over the bar (and when need be, I can get my chest to the bar).  Are pull-ups easier if I use even the thinest band for assistance?  Of course they are, but I'm never going to get better at doing them unassisted if I keep using that safety net.  The same goes for putting risers under my head during a hand stand push-up.  Double unders have been a slow progression for me and committing to not substitute singles in a work out has probably been the biggest challenge thus far and I have the whip marks to prove it.  

Have my metcon score dropped significantly since I started this new venture?  Yup, but I know that won't last forever.  Last night, I preformed my first prescribed "Jackie" (for all of my non-CrossFit readers, Jackie is a workout consisting of a 1000 meter row, 50 35-pound thrusters and 30 pull ups).  Thanks to the pull-up portion, the workout took me 14 minutes and 21 seconds to complete (I'd like to send out a big thank you to everyone at my gym for cheering me on as I finished - I needed that).  Six months ago, I did the same workout with band-assisted pull-ups in 11 minutes and 25 seconds.  Yes, I was nearly 3 minutes slower, but I'll take the slowest prescribed time over the fastest modified any day.  

Keeping this promise to myself has been hard.  Really hard.  However, I know it's the best choice in actually improving and getting stronger.  While I'm never going to set a world record with my WOD times, I know I will get faster.  It all goes back to something one of my coaches said my first week of CrossFit... "it never gets easier, you just get better."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tea Time

I have always been an advocate of afternoon tea.  Its' a bygone ritual that I feel is due for a revival in contemporary society.  A time to relax a bit, unwind and enjoy a warm freshly brewed cup of tea accompanied by an array of sweet and savory treats.  While our busy schedules may not allow us time for a full daily spread, I did manage to concoct a fabulously textured almond madeline tea cake today that I wanted to share.  Think of it as an introduction to full English tea...

Paleo Almond Madelines

2 large eggs
1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
2 tablespoons grass fed butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk your eggs until they become slightly frothy
- Add maple syrup, melted butter and almond extract, continuing to whisk
- In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, baking soda and salt
- Slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet, mixing well until fully incorporated into a loose batter
- Spoon your batter into a greased madeline pan, recipe yields 12 madelines
- Bake for 12 minutes
- Remove from pan and allow cakes to cool on a wire rack

*Almond extract may be substituted for a flavor of your choosing
**For additional options, try adding orange zest, cocoa powder or dipping the cakes into melted chocolate

My Aerial Adventure

This morning, I participated in the most recent Blog/Tweet New Hampshire networking event [and notably by favorite one thus far] - Aerial Yoga with Kickstart Fitness & Nutrition.  While the 30-minute workshop we participated in was an accelerated version of owner and instructor Karlene Murphy's introductory program, I feel I was able to walk away with both a new found appreciation and interest in yoga several feet off the ground.

Karlene's home-based studio is a beautiful, rustic space set in peaceful Sandown, New Hampshire that puts a student in a relaxed mind-set right from the moment you enter.  Stationed in the center of the room are two slings outfitted with handles at various heights.  Prior to the lesson, she introduced us to the apparatus, which was integral in helping develop a level of comfort.  While there are several options of material for the slings, she choose a parachute-like fabric which provides minimal give and a higher level of traction than a traditional silk.

We began the class with a traditional yoga warm up of sun salutations and dynamic stretching, establishing a center of balance on the ground prior to taking our lesson aerial.  Once completed, Karlene began by showing us a series of traditional yoga poses in the sling - warrior one, warrior two, pigeon and goddess.  With the addition of gravity to the movement, I could feel my body sinking deeper into each stretch, which was fantastic.

She then showed us how the sling could help with splits and inversions - including handstand training [hello!].

Before going into the class, I'll openly admit I was a bit apprehensive.  I have a pretty strong fear of heights and even though the sling is only a few feet off the ground, falling doesn't sound like a lot of fun.  Karlene did an amazing job putting us at ease and helping us understand each pose prior to engaging and made safety her first priority.  It was such an amazing event and I can't wait until my next aerial experience!

For more information or to sign up for your own aerial yoga session, visit Karlene's main site here.  You can also follow her on Facebook and check out her blog.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My CrossFit Security Blanket

As a child, like most, I had my beloved "binky."  Mine was a quilted, yellow satin blanket that I took everywhere with me until it literally disintegrated into a pile of thread and filler.  I'm not sure if it really provided me with a sense of security or if I just enjoyed the way the soft fabric felt but regardless, it took on the role as an extension of my being, traveling everywhere I did and providing a rousing challenge for my mother to separate me from it long enough to do a load of laundry.

For nearly a year, I never understood the value of a weight belt.  I honestly didn't give it much thought at all.  Then after a conversation with a seasoned athlete, I decided to give one a shot - a decision that I wouldn't so much say I regret, but definitely second guess.

I think I've become addicted to my weight belt.  Without realizing it, I let it become my CrossFit "binky," if you will.  The thought of squatting without it gives me a touch of anxiety at this point, making me doubt my own abilities.  On the contrary, when I tighten it up, I feel like I have superhuman strength and can achieve new feats of lifting.

Okay, I do realize that my hot pink weight belt doesn't make me a superhero.  Heck, I think I know deep down that it really doesn't even make that much of a difference, despite my fear of not using it.  As a rational adult, I'm fully aware that my physical performance is a direct correlation of my body, not any accessory, but it doesn't change that twinge of fear I feel at the thought of squatting heavy without it.

I'd love to hear some input from other athletes on their experiences with using belts (or other accessories for that matter) and if it's something they feel they've developed a reliance on.  Do I need to wean myself off it?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Achieving Goals and Some Fabulous Progress

So two weeks ago, James and I competed in CrossFit Earned's "Clash of the Couples" competition, crossing off one of my new year's goals - to compete in a non-[ocn] CrossFit competition.  The competition was broken into RX and Scaled divisions (we competed in the scaled division) with 24 teams in each.  It was definitely a fun day and a different approach to competition.  Since there were nearly ten gyms contributing teams, going in, we had no idea what we were up against.  There was no "chasing down" another team because the couple to our left could have been a clear cut winner or just as easily come in last place.  I loved not being concerned with anyone but myself and it really helped me focus on what I can personally accomplish.

James and I placed 14th out of 24th teams, which I was really happy with.  We both set personal records in our lifts and got the opportunity to both train and compete together, which is sometime I really enjoyed.

In other CrossFit news, I managed to string together 27 double unders on Saturday and while my kipping pull-ups and toes-to-bar haven't fully clicked, I feel like there's definitely progress in the right direction.  I completed my first met con without assisted (banded) pull-ups this week and although my score was low, I know I'm closer to being able to perform the movements prescribed.

Baby steps...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Childhood Favorite Goes Paleo

I'm originally from Rhode Island - the land of hot weiners, coffee milk, bubblers and pizza strips.  If you've never made a stop over in our nation's tiniest state, I may as well have been speaking Russian there, but hopefully I've intrigued you enough that you at the very least keep reading.

A pizza strip is a sauce-covered slice of focaccia bread available at any Italian bakery in the greater Rhode Island area.  The sauce takes on a garlic-y, tomato paste-like quality while the crust, if made correctly, it's slightly chewy and crisp on the edges (the edge pieces are always the best).  When the primary component of a dish is bread, you wouldn't think it would be easily paleo-ified, but though my Pintrest perusing, I was inspired to attempt a recreation devoid of gluten and processed flour.  The result was a delicious doughy strip that while not a perfect approximation, certainly curbed that reminiscent craving.

Paleo RI-Style Pizza Strips

6 large eggs
1/2 cup grass fed butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/8 cup arrowroot starch
1/8 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
Nonstick cooking spray

1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons sea salt
9-10 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Grated romano cheese [optional garnish]

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray
- Combine eggs, butter and vinegar in a large mixing bowl
- Sift together flour, starches, salt and baking soda, slowly incorporating into the wet ingredients
- Fold in garlic and herbs once the dough has incorporated
- Spread the mixture over your baking sheet with a rubber spatula
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown
- In a small saucepan, combine sauce ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes
- Once the crust has baked, spread an even layer of sauce across the top and return to the oven for 10 additional minutes
- Once baked, allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing
- Garnish with grated romano cheese if desired

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Turkey Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Chili

In the spirit of meal planning, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes that only takes about 10 minutes to prep [I love my crockpot].  It's a twist on a traditional chili, taking some of the classic flavors and paleo-ifying with sweet potatoes in lieu of beans.

Turkey Sweet Potato Slow Cooker Chili

1 lb ground turkey meat
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
1 white onion
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8-9 grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon ground smoked chipotle pepper*
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder *
2 teaspoons adobo seasoning*
2 teaspoons ground cumin*
2 teaspoons epizote seasoning*
Chopped scallion [optional garnish]
Sliced avocado [optional garnish]
Sour cream or plain yogurt [optional garnish]
Cilantro sprigs [optional garnish]
Jalapeño slices [optional garnish]

- In a large skillet, combine your turkey meat, salt, pepper and seasonings and cook until the meat is lightly browned
- Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1/2" cubes
- Finely dice the onion
- Combine seasoned meat, sweet potato, onion, crushed tomatoes and chicken stock in a 5-quart (or larger) crock pot and simmer on low for 8 hours (or on high for 5-6 hours), string occasionally to incorporate ingredients
- Garnish as desired, makes six servings

*Taco seasoning may be substituted for individual spices
**Adjust seasoning levels to suit your personal preferences
***Since all crockpots cook slightly differently, periodically check the consistency of the chili and adjust by adding 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock at a time to achieve your desired thickness

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Planning to Succeed

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm a perpetual planner.  I live and breathe by my calendar and to do lists and without them, I feel like a lost puppy roaming the woods.  While I know my tendencies are to lean more toward 'over planning', I do think a little bit of organization is something all of our diets could benefit from.

As much as I love to cook, during the week, it's a challenge to assemble the next day's lunch and snacks along with that night's dinner after a long workday and gym sessions.  Over time, I've learned that the key to our family eating well throughout the week, is to set us up for success before the week begins.  While there are varying levels of preparation and our weekend schedule usually dictates the amount of time that gets devoted to meal prep - ranging from a whole-Sunday affair to utilizing our many crockpots and letting them do the majority of the work.  No matter how much time you have to devote to your meal planning, I wanted to share a few tips that I find have been helpful in keeping our household on track.

Plan Ahead
Knowing how much time you have to commit to meal prep is a great start to figuring out your menu.  As afore mentioned, I'm  a bit of an over planner - right down to our snacks and pre/post workout supplements, but I find creating charts for each member of our household is helpful in laying out a plan.

Having a definitive shopping list when I go into a store has become a huge money saver for our household.  Knowing what our plan is for the week, how much of each menu item I need to make and what meals are already accounted for (lunch meetings at work, prior engagements, etc...) has helped us stop over shopping.  We limit ourselves to only what's on the list and it helps keeps us in check.  Additionally, I like to "shop" in our pantry and freezer prior to planning out our menu to make sure we're utilizing items we already have on hand.  We buy a lot of our meats in bulk from a farm share and often, we'll forget exactly what we have in the freezer.

Setting aside a dedicated time to cook is something I usually look forward to, but that's also keeping in mind that I enjoy the cooking process.  I look at it as a chance to create something wonderful and nourishing that I can share with the people I care about.  I understand that not everyone takes the same pleasure in their time in the kitchen, so try to find ways to make the process more enjoyable for you.  I'll often listen to a favorite Pandora station or a podcast about a topic that interests me.  If you have children, involve them in the cooking process and let them be a part of creating their meals for the week.

Portioning & Packing
Portioning is another step that I'm fully aware I take to an extreme.  I weigh out our food to ensure that we're balancing our macro nutrients and keeping our calories in check, but this might be overkill for some people.  I do find that when I set things up to be more or less, grab and go, we tend to stick to the plan better.  This can be as basic as keeping a stew you made in individual sized containers as opposed to one larger one.  Let's face it, we all like convenience and putting in a little extra time to ensure you'll stick to the plan throughout the week can be well worth the investment.

Avoid Over Prepping
This is something I've been guilty of on a few occasions.  There have been weeks where I just get a bit overzealous and take meal prep to the extreme, preparing so much food that there is no way two of us could possibly finish it all.  Be aware of the quantities your making as to avoid waste.  One tactic is to build a "leftover" meal into your plan to help clean out your fridge before setting up the next week.

You also want to be aware of the shelf life of items your prepping.  Last week, I made enough tuna and avocado salad to last me the whole week, without taking into account that by Wednesday, the avocados had taken on a lovely brown oxidized color - not the most appetizing.

I'm hoping my meal planning tips are of some help on getting you off on the right track.  Also consider taking small steps - just plan out your lunches or dinners for a week and see how it works for your household.  Full blown meal planning can be a big step for some people and easing into it may be the best option.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter Squash Soup & My 30 Day Skills Challenge

This past week, I had a random craving for the butternut squash soup that we served in one of the restaurants I had worked for during my time with Disney.  It was this thick, richly decadent soup that was sweet enough to border on dessert.  Packed with heavy cream, sugar and melted cheese, it masqueraded as a vegetable based soup, but it was truly delicious.  In an effort to recreate the flavors without all the heaviness, I came up with a paleo-ified version that I must say, stood up pretty darn well to the original.

Aside from soup making, I attended the Kill Cliff East Coast Championships this past Saturday in Boston and had the pleasure of being immersed in complete CrossFit culture for the day.  Having the opportunity to watch elite level athletes preform some of the most challenging workouts I've seen in my year of CrossFitting gave me a whole new appreciation for the sport and the fitness level of athletes at the competitive level.  Although I know I'll never hold my own against Stacie Tovar and Lindsey Valenzuela  in competition, watching them made me want to be a better CrossFit athlete.

I started thinking of my shortcomings  and things that I really wanted to work on improving.  My initial list was pretty extensive and I decided that I'm going to pick 2 movements per month to focus on.  (My thought process with 2 movements is that it provides variety in what I'm working on but is still focused enough that I can hone my skills in certain areas).  My choices for February: wall balls and  kipping pull-ups.

For the next 30 days, I'm committing myself to 15 minutes of skill work per day.  Each day, I can choose to work exclusively on one movement or I can break it up, but I have to spend 15 minutes working on form and skill.  I'll keep you posted on my progress as the month goes on.  I'm using my Karen time (150 wall balls for time), currently just over 12 minutes, as a gauge of my wall ball progress.  Currently, I can do a few strict pull-ups, but completely lack the coordination to kip so my progress there will be evident in my ability to preform the movement.

Consider trying your own skills challenge to improve your shortcomings.  I'd love to hear about your goals and aspirations!

Winter Squash Soup

1 medium sized butternut squash
1 medium sized acorn squash*
1 medium sized delicata squash*
1 tablespoon cinnamon**
2 teaspoons cardamon**
1 teaspoon coriander**
1 teaspoon nutmeg**
1 tablespoon kosher salt**
7-8 grinds of freshly ground black pepper**
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1 can coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Peel and chop your butternut, acorn and delicate squash in 1 inch cubes
- In a plastic bag, combine cinnamon, cardamon, coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper
- Shake squash in the spice mixture until evenly coated
- Empty your spiced squash onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash is fork tender
- Allow squash to cool for 15 minutes
- In a blender, combine squash, coconut milk, chicken stock and coconut sugar (depending on the size of your blender, you may have to blend it in batches)
- Adjust the spices to suit your personal taste (I added a bit more cardamon to mine)
- Push the pureed mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any clumps
- Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to a week

*If unavailable, you can substitute a second butternut squash
**adjust to taste once soup is blended

Sunday, January 19, 2014

5 Reasons Every CrossFit Athlete Should Compete in a Competition

Yesterday, I competed in my second CrossFit competition at my gym, [ocn] CrossFit.  Our competitions are designed to be scaled to a level where anyone that wants to can compete and even just from the 2013 Summer Games to yesterday's 2014 Winter Games, I've seen such a growth in both the event and the abilities of everyone at my gym.

First, I want to thank our coaches and judges for putting on such a fantastic event.  Second, if you're a CrossFit athlete and haven't given much thought to trying a competition, I wanted to share a little about my experience and a few reasons you should consider giving it a try.

I'm an inherently competitive person.  I like to have a benchmark to chase, another athlete working in my peripheral vision or a personal best I'm trying to surpass.  In a day to day scenario, I'm usually chasing myself each workout - striving for that feeling once the timer stops, that I could not have completed one more rep, no matter how badly I wanted to.  Competition, no matter who it's with, pushes me to drive harder, move faster and push harder.

After yesterday, I'm so proud of everyone who competed, the three other members of my team, and the progress I've been able to make in the past 6 months since our Summer Games.  Whether you're new to CrossFit or a seasoned athlete, consider finding a local competition suited to your abilities - you'll probably surprise yourself and at the very least, you'll have fun!

Five Reasons Every CrossFit Athlete Should Compete in a Competition

1.  It's a great way to meet new people
Yesterday, we had four gyms outside of our own represented and I love getting the opportunity to meet new people who share the same passion as you.  New friends are cool.  New CrossFit friends are even cooler.

2. You'll really learn what you're capable of when you're put under pressure
In our summer games, we had a clean ladder event.  If two athletes tied in a round, the tie-breaker was a minute of AMRAP burpees.  Prior to the event, my PR clean was 95 lbs.  When the ladder reached 105 lbs, I fell over and failed on my first attempt.  I remember hearing my teammate shouting, "do you want to do a minute of burpees right now?" and I stood back up and managed to get the weight up.  I actually set 4 PR's that day overall and it really sparked a light in me to want to work at getting stronger.

3. It's far less intimidating than it seems
Both of the competitions I've done have been scaled because that's the level I'm at currently and I still feel like I'm going up against athletes who are far beyond me.  Yes, I'm nervous going into an event but so is everyone else competing.  You're all in the same boat and because of that, you cheer each other on and encourage your competitors.

4. You totally get badass points
To anyone outside the CrossFit community, you're already a badass (and possibly a little tapped in the head as far as they're concerned).  When you can tell them you did 30 unbroken deadlifts after completing 40 burpees and 40 box jumps, your badass clout goes up a notch.

5. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride in what you just completed
No one cares if you finish first or last at the end of the day.  Yes, victories are celebrated, but finishing every event is a victory in itself.  You'll learn what your strengths are, where you areas of opportunity lie and how much fight you have inside you - which I guarantee is more than you think.

Photo Courtesy of Sahil Parikh Photography 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gluten Free Maple Sweet Potato Muffins

This past weekend, I was in the middle of my weekly food prep and realized I had a few sweet potatoes leftover from the previous week that needed to get used up.  As much as I love baked sweet potatoes with a bit of cinnamon and honey, I can only eat so many and wanted to figure out a new option for them.  With a little trial and error, I came up with this deliciously moist muffins that weigh in nutritionally under 190 calories each with 8 grams of protein and only 6 grams of sugar a piece.

Gluten Free Maple Sweet Potato Muffins

1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 scoops Tera's Whey bourbon vanilla protein powder
1 cup pureed sweet potato*
1 tablespoon almond milk
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup almond butter, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray (I used coconut oil)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a small bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and whey protein
- In a large bowl, fold together sweet potato, almond milk, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and almond butter
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet in in 1/2 cup portions, folding them in as you go
- Fold in your chopped pecans, if desired
- Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray
- Portion your batter into the 12 muffin cups
- Bake for 22 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and remove it cleanly

*I baked my sweet potatoes and scooped out the soft flesh in the middle once they were fully cooked.  You could also steam or boil them after peeling and then mash to a smooth consistency.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crispy, Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten free baking has been a lot of trial and error over the past few months.  While I find the chemistry behind the reactions of different flours and starches fascinating, it's also a bit mind numbing with regard to getting the right balance to give your baked goods the right consistency.

So far, I've found two chocolate chip cookie recipes that I'm a huge fan of.  One is a delicious, almond-based confection that while obviously paleo in nature, is still quite palatable.  The second has been what might be the best approximation of a traditional tollhouse-style cookie I've managed yet.  The exterior was slightly crisp while the center remained moist and chewy.  I know the blend of flours may seem a bit unorthodox but with each bringing their own properties to the table, it's been the combination that's yielded the most true-to-form results.  Each of them is also available through Bob's Red Mill and can be found in the gluten free section of any larger grocery store.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup toasted coconut sugar
3 tablespoons grassfed butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat silicone baking mat
- In a food processor, pulse the coconut sugar until it forms a fine powder
- In a large bowl, combine your almond meal, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and coconut sugar.
- Whisk in melted butter, eggs and vanilla
- Fold in chocolate chips to evenly distribute them throughout the batter
- Cover the bowl and chill your batter for 20 minutes
- Once chilled, portion out dough into 1 inch balls, leaving a 2 inch circumference around each ball on your baking sheet (the cookies will spread to about double their original size)
- Bake for 18-20 minutes (18 for a chewier cookie, 20 for a crispier texture)
- Allow cookies to cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes to achieve consistency

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Toffee Bar Won the Battle, but I Won the War...

Yesterday, I come into work with my little lunch bag, packed in all it's glory with paleo-rific meals and snacks to get me though the day and am greeted by a 5 pound tub of this chocolate, pecan, toffee, graham cracker confection my boss decided to make and bestow upon our office.  Thanks.  Normally I have a pretty high level of willpower in these scenarios, however if you put a toffee/praline bar in front of me, I pretty much want it in my face.  I think it's my love of butter.  I blame the butter.

Regardless of why I love them, my almond chicken tenders and sardines seemed way less appealing when I have the option of a sweet, butter toffee bar staring me in the face.  The point I'm slowly moving towards here (along with reminiscing about the gooey, buttery goodness), is that yes, I gave into the toffee bar.  I'm human, I have moments of weakness.  I did not however, view it as an open excuse to say screw the whole day and mark it off as a loss.  For years, I've been someone who saw a cheat as derailing the day (and in some cases, if you screw up a day, then the week is shot and you may as well just give up until Monday and start over).  I feel like it's a small victory for me mentally to be able to slip and get right back on the horse and I'm proud of that.

It was a little bit of a struggle to have sardines for my afternoon snack in lieu of going back for a second helping, but I did manage to hold out.  I also decided to hang up a picture of Christmas Abbott on my bulletin board in my office (if you don't know who Christmas Abbott is, you should learn - she's pretty damn badass) doing a perfect pistol squat and someday, I'd like to think that I can be a quarter as badass as she is.  Hoping that will motivate me to just say no to the toffee bar next time... we shall see.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Add a Little Punch to your Lunch

For anyone that knows me, it's no secret that I'm a fan of big, bold flavors,  I wanted to share a few staples that I like to keep on hand when I'm prepping meals to give basic recipes a little bit more pizazz.  While I'm not always looking to add heat to a dish, you can never go wrong with a little bit of flavor.  The other beautiful thing, none of these ingredients will add more than 20 calories to a dish.

Thai Dry Chili Paste

Trader Joe's makes an easily accessible version, but you can also pick up a jar at your local Asian market.  The flavor profile is much milder than a Sriracha or Gochujang paste and it brings a smokey, earthy note to your food.  Try a tablespoon in your next stir fry or mix it into ground beef for burgers with a little kick.  

Prepared Horseradish

Horseradish brings it's own, unique "bite" to food and I've learned that most people have a love/hate relationship with it... personally, I'm on the love side.  While too much can ensue a nasal-clearing sensation, just a little bit tossed into a marinade for chicken will really take a basic grilled meat to the next level.  

Porcini Mushroom Powder 

I adore mushrooms, but once you get past the basic white variety, they can get pretty pricey.  Next time you're walking through the produce section, look for the rack of dried mushrooms - they're a solid value and they don't spoil so you can store them in your pantry for whenever you need them.  White button mushrooms can be a little blah, however if you dust them with a tablespoon of porcini powder, you can elevate them to a higher status.  Try sautéing with some sliced onions and a bit of olive oil for a delicious topping on your next steak.  

 Sherry Vinegar

Anytime I'm looking to add a touch of acid to a dish to balance it out, I nearly always start with sherry vinegar.  It's a great balance of tart with a touch of sweet and the subtle wine notes compliment most dishes quite well.  It's versatile enough to work in everything from salad dressing to marinades.  After cooking over easy eggs, try add a tablespoon to the skillet to deglaze the pan and pour it over your eggs for a lightly tangy kick.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

CrossFit Endurance & Coconut Curry Chicken Tenders

James, in all his craziness, has decided to run a marathon this coming May.  First and foremost, I'm incredibly proud of him for taking on such a massive challenge.  I think he's tapped in the head, but running has very much become one of his "things" and I'm incredibly happy to be supporting him on his training journey.  While I have zero intention of ever running 26.2 miles shy of my life depending on it, I am using his training as an opportunity to help increase my own endurance.

He's decided to utilize the CrossFit Endurance program to help him train, that way he can incorporate running with his strength training and MetCons.  The program starts with a 6-week intro that combines 2-3 sprint interval days with your standard CrossFit plan that, while a bit rudimentary for someone who's been running for a while [James], I think it's a great starting point to help increase my cardio capacity without sacrificing CrossFit workouts.  The other great piece, is you can incorporate cycling and swimming as well over time, which for me, is key in avoiding monotony.  Having completed the first week of running, I will say that the workouts have been quick [around 30 minutes each] and the intervals have felt effective - win.  Let's see if this makes an impact on our [OCN] Winter Games at the end of the month...

I've also been on a chicken kick the past few days and wanted to share another solid, make-ahead recipe that's a great paleo option.

Coconut Curry Chicken Tenders

1 lb chicken tenders, cleaned
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons sweet curry powder, divided
3/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 grinds of freshly ground black pepper

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Whisk together the coconut milk, egg and 1 tablespoon curry powder
- Thoroughly coat the tenders in the coconut milk mixture and allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes
- In a paper bag, toss the shredded coconut, salt, pepper and remaining curry powder together
- Shake tenders in the shredded coconut mixture to coat
- Lay on a baking rack and cook for 22 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Warming Up

So up here in the great frozen tundra known as New Hampshire, we're in the throws of a two-day storm.  While looking out the window, it appears to be a bit better than initially predicted, the roads aren't pretty so it's a "work from the couch and cuddle with the puppies" kind of day.  I wanted to share a delicious, dairy free warm beverage that I've been enjoying throughout the day and at 40 calories a cup, you can indulge without breaking the caloric bank.

- First, brew a cup of Celestial Seasonings Harvest Pumpkin tea, only filling the cup 3/4 of the way.
- Take 2 tablespoons of So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Coffee Creamer and heat it in your microwave for 45 seconds.
- Pour it into a small mixing bowl and whisk until frothy.
- Spoon the foam onto of your tea and pour in the warm liquid.
- Top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and enjoy!

Starting Off With a Bang

Well, I can honestly say, if the first two days are any indication of how 2014 is going to pan out for me, I'd be pretty happy with the end result.

Yesterday, I started out the year with my first [heavily] banded bar muscle up.  Although it took some strong elastic assistance to get me perched over the bar, I'm damn proud of myself for getting up there.  It's a small victory, but it's my victory.  Just being able to get through the motion of a muscle up gave me a glimmer of a hope that I will get to a point where I can eventually do one unassisted.  I've also added 5 pounds to my push press PR and my snatches have actually felt like I think they're supposed to over the past two days.  Woot!  Go me!

I also put a twist on one of my former favorite recipes I've blogged and cleaned it up into a Paleo-friendly version.  My New Orleans-style chicken tenders are a fabulous blend of sweet and spicy enwrapping a moist, delicious tenderloin of chicken.  They weren't as crispy as the previous version that I made with panko breadcrumbs, however I think the flavor and moistness compensated for the lack of crunch.  They also reheat beautifully and are a great make-ahead protein option.

Paleo New Orleans-style Chicken Tenders

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cleaned
1 large egg
3 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot sauce
1 teaspoon melted ghee
2 tablespoons raw coconut sugar
3/4 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
5-6 grinds of freshly ground black pepper

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat together your egg, ghee, coconut sugar and hot sauce
- Toss in your chicken to thoroughly coat it and let sit for 10 minutes to marinate
- In a paper bag, combine almond meal, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper
- Toss the chicken tenders in the paper bag to coat with the almond meal mixture
- Lay on a baking rack as such that none of the tenders are touching
- Bake for 23 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees