Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for CrossFitters

Have no idea what to get the special CrossFitter in your life for the holidays? Well, look no further! Here are some gift ideas to make them smile from ear-to-ear on Christmas morning. These suggestions are a mix of products that I already own and love and things that I would personally like to see under the Christmas tree! 🙂


WODDice: How fun are these!? I totally want a pair for home to help Mal and me come up with workouts to do. You just roll the dice to determine your workout. So cool. And don’t you think every CrossFit gym needs a pair?

HYLETE Performance Apparel: Oh, how I love the gear from HYLETE, and it’s so perfect for CrossFit. I’m totally obsessed with these crops, which actually turn into a full-length tight. And the gear for guys is amazingggggg. I’m actually planning to get these shorts for Mal for Christmas. FYI: HYLETE reactivated my discount code (CNC), so you can save 40% off your purchase (even if you buy just one item). It expires 12/31/2016, so be sure to hop on it! 

Magnetic WOD Smartphone Mount: I also want one of these phone mounts! It’d be great for recording Olympic lifts and other movements to help improve form. And, ok, it’s pretty awesome for taking photos/video for Instagram!

Reebok Mesh Leggings: These are the most amazing leggings, and I get compliments every time I wear them– both inside and outside the gym. Mesh leggings are super popular in CrossFit gyms right now, so the lady CrossFitter in your life would likely really love them!

Speed Rope: A lot of CrossFitters own their own jump rope, but if you’re buying for a newbie, a speed rope is a great option. Most of them are adjustable, so you can give them one that they can later customize to their preference. In addition to the speed rope linked from RX Smart Gear, RPM Ropes, Rogue, and Again Faster also make high-quality ones.

RX BARS: These bars are so friggin’ good, and they’re made with only a handful of whole food ingredients. The outside of the package tells you exactly what’s inside. For example the Maple Sea Salt (my favorite flavor) has 3 egg whites, 5 pecans, 4 cashews, 2 dates, sea salt, and natural maple flavoring. That’s it. And it has 12 grams of protein. I love these bars and think just about any CrossFitter (or fitness fan) would love them too!

Paleo Cookbook: Not every CrossFitter eats Paleo, but many of them are healthy eaters. Some of my favorite Paleo cookbooks: Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook, Practical Paleo, Fed & Fit (my review here), and Well Fed.

BlenderBottle Shaker: It’s no secret that CrossFitters love their protein shakes. BlenderBottle makes some really awesome shakers and they come in, like, 20 different colors, so there’s one for everyone! Pair a BlenderBottle with a bag of SFH vanilla (or chocolate) Recovery protein powder for the perfect gift!

Calf Sleeves: Having rope climbs in a workout means that you NEED some sort of shin protection. Otherwise, you’re ripping up your leg, which does not feel good. (It also looks pretty gross.) Knee-high socks are a great option, but slipping on a calf sleeve is so much easier! I like the compression ones from Brooks, which are the perfect thickness– not bulky by any means, but enough to protect your shin during rope climbs. I always keep a pair in my gym bag.

Handmade Kettlebell Mug: How adorable is this mug?! I know a lot of CrossFitters who would love to own one!

WOD Toys: For tiny CrossFitters! I’m so tempted to buy these for Qman. He loves “playing” with the equipment at Salt Shack as well as in our basement gym, but, of course, it’s not made for two year olds, and I have mini-heart attacks the entire time I’m refereeing the situation. Some WOD Toys would definitely solve the problem!

Designed to Fit Nutrition Gift Card: Give the gift of health! Our custom meal plans are the perfect gift for anyone who wants to lose weight and get healthy in the New Year!

This post contains some affiliate links. As always, thank you for supporting CNC! Smile

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How the Grok Narrative Motivates Me

thinking_of_grok copyThe Primal Blueprint is more than just a health and nutrition blog. You can find thousands of health and nutrition tips online, many of them quite sound. You can read well-researched and cited articles telling you what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, how not to exercise—and following their advice will give you good results. The Primal Blueprint does not enjoy a monopoly on results.

A big reason why the Primal Blueprint resonates with so many people is that it’s not only couched in hard science and useful information. It tells a story to which all of us can relate on a deep and meaningful level.

Back when I started this blog, I didn’t think the idea of Grok would take off. He was just a method for me to “storify” the dietary and lifestyle habits of our ancient ancestors. It made writing easier and more enjoyable. I even worried that people would find it trite, that it might detract from my message.

In time, it became apparent that people really dug the Grok narrative.

I understand why now. I’ve always been a big fan of fiction. I read non-fiction too, of course, but many people are surprised when they hear I probably prefer a good novel to the latest treatise on the genome. Novels don’t relay facts. They reveal deeper truths about the human experience. They distill the desires we share, the trials we face, the existential questions we ask. They engage us emotionally. That’s the power of story, and that is what the PB offers in addition to the actionable, well-researched information about health, fitness, and nutrition: the human story.

How do I connect to the Grok narrative? Apart from providing a unique approach to writing about health and fitness, what does it mean and how does it impact my life and my decisions?

Grok’s Relationship to “Exercise”

If Grok were whisked away in a DeLorean DMC-12 going 88 MPH and dropped off in a present-day CrossFit box or big box gym, he’d marvel at the sheer stupidity of modern exercise.

To you, it’s normal. You’re steeped in it. But try to look at exercise from an ancient perspective. How would a paleolithic hunter-gatherer react to the things we do in the gym?

“Why are those people squatting down and standing back up over and over again? Why are they getting parallel with the ground, supporting their weight on the hands and feet, then lowering themselves until their faces touch the floor and raising back up? Why are they walking on a moving floor? Hey, why’s the floor moving?”

I mean, just writing those descriptions was incredibly difficult. Exercise moves are ridiculous when you stop and think about them. They’re unnatural.

Now, imagine you take the DeLorean back 50,000 years. The things people then were doing would look pretty natural. They might even look like a lot of fun.

They’d be:

  • Walking everywhere, often carrying a load.
  • Climbing trees, rocks, cliffs for honey, bird’s eggs, and other delicacies.
  • Digging for tubers and to bury loved ones.
  • Lifting heavy things, probably an animal carcass.
  • Throwing things.
  • Running really fast for short bursts.
  • Running really slowly for extended pursuits and treks.
  • Playing, wrestling, fighting, dancing.
  • Lounging around, talking story whenever possible.
  • Squatting around the campfire while making tools or just hanging out.

In short, physical work was integrated into Grok’s life. He lifted an antelope carcass because he needed to feed his people, not a barbell because someone on the Internet told him he needed to train his posterior chain. He ran really fast to escape a predator or to race his buddy, not because he wanted to deplete glycogen stores and increase insulin sensitivity. He walked everywhere because that’s how people got around, not because he needed to hit 10,000 steps. He did these things because there wasn’t any other way to live. He didn’t have any other options.

Judging from the health of the few remaining people who “exercise” anything like Grok—extant hunter-gatherers like the Hadza—this type of physical activity is very effective. Despite never touching a barbell, treadmill, or pullup bar, the Hadza are extremely lean, fit, and have excellent metabolic health. Furthermore, modern research shows how beneficial taking a break from training can be, even for your physical fitness.

Whenever I start to stress over skipping a workout, I think about how Grok didn’t really exercise. How he and his people worked hard when they had to but took it easy when they could.

And I feel a lot better.

That’s sort of “reverse motivation.” It motivates me not to get out there and bust my ass in the gym, but to be okay with taking a break—which is more important than people realize.

The MultiGrokverse

People like to use the fact that paleolithic humans lived and ate in dozens of different environments featuring totally different climates, ecosystems, environmental inputs, and sources of edible plants and animals as an argument against the “paleo diet.” Arctic tundra Grok ate and lived very differently from tropical Grok, who ate and lived completely differently than Mediterranean Grok. This was the crux of the paleofantasy criticism: there wasn’t just one paleo diet, so Cheetos and McNuggets are totally fine.

I see it differently. Humans are the ultimate adaptive animal. We can make almost any environment work. Heck, we can thrive in a place as stark and severe as the Arctic and make it home. Thanks to our big brains and our capacity to respond to and overcome the slings and arrows of life, protracted exposure to difficult environments actually selects for a better, stronger, fitter genome. Our time spent in diverse ancestral environments made us who we are today.

That makes me even more gung-ho about heeding the lessons of our evolutionary history. This reality of our past—the multiGrokverse—actually motivates me.

Using “What would Grok do?” as Choice Winnower

I’m a big fan of freedom, liberty, and choice. All that’s great. But modern life presents us with too many choices.

When I’m in decision-making limbo, paralyzed by the overabundance of options, a quick “What would Grok do?” shifts my frame of mind. It doesn’t provide an answer in the moment, but it does break the mental loop of indecision to drill down deep into the essence of the choice. What are my true motivations? What do I hope to get out of this decision? What’s at stake?

Of course, your average paleolithic human wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of the ridiculous things we lose sleep over, like picking a new big screen TV or plotting the next step along our career path. But as a mental exercise, asking the question is helpful. Grok didn’t concern himself with the superfluous because, for the most part, it wasn’t an option. His focus was food, shelter, friends, family, love, beauty, the weather, water, wild animals and enemies. We have a tougher job of discerning the essentials, but they haven’t changed much. And if you’re honest with yourself, most of your concerns come down to those basics.

But what if the Grok narrative is completely wrong?

Human history is a living document. 20000 years ago, the sea level was over 300 feet higher than it is today—given that humans tend to cluster around the coasts, who knows what the sea swallowed up? Our knowledge is only as good as the last discovery, and genetic anthropologists and archaeologists are making new discoveries constantly. So much of what I’ve written about the ancestral environment could change as new information surfaces.

That’s okay, though. Remember what I said about story? Its power lies not in the objective accuracy of the details but in the emotions and lessons conveyed. If a story gets the details wrong but conveys a truth about human nature, relays a moral lesson, or helps the reader become a better person, it has value. 

Every day, I try to relay useful information. Whether I tell a story, make a new product, analyze a study, answer a reader question, or dig deep into a controversial subject, I’m trying to be useful to you guys.

I hope I’m succeeding.

That’s it for me, guys. What about you? How does the Grok narrative resonate most with you and your life? How do you use it to improve your health, fitness, and happiness?

Thanks for reading. Take care.


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Should You Sneak Veggies Into Your Kids’ Food?

Every parent knows the pain of dealing with a picky eater — and the fear that the child will suffer malnutrition from a constant diet of pizza, grilled cheese and noodles. Hence, there’s a great temptation to take the stealth approach to your child’s health by slipping undetectable amounts of produce into those same favorite foods.

Employing this tactic is easier than ever now, thanks to companies like Oh Yes Foods, which markets frozen pizzas whose crusts are loaded with pulverized produce, and Kidfresh, whose frozen entrees of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and cheese quesadillas hide ample amounts of veggies like carrots, spinach and cauliflower. Considering that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 Americans kids fall short of the recommended intake of vegetables, this all seems like a brilliant idea. Yet some experts caution against relying on this technique. “Yes, it’s a good thing nutritionally,” admits Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a psychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “But if children are only exposed to vegetables in ways that mask their smell, texture and flavor, they may not learn to eat them.”

Perhaps the best approach is a two-pronged one: expose kids to actual, whole vegetables on a regular basis, but slip some extra into their food to supplement their intake. And while you don’t have to let them know what you’ve snuck in there, you’ll build trust by letting kids be part of the process.

“If your child is used to traditional mac and cheese, then tell them if you’ve added butternut squash or cauliflower,” suggests Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen. “They’ll get to experience the new flavors, and you’ll avoid the backlash of them not liking the surprise factor.” For toddlers, Amidor recommends including vegetables in kid-friendly foods from the start — that way it will be what they consider normal, and no “sneaking” will be necessary later on. For older kids, get them involved in the meal prep. “Making them part of cooking can help kids embrace vegetables,” says Amidor. “Do build-your-own tacos or pizza and let them decide which vegetables to add.” They may start with a single slice of pepper, but with time — and repeated exposure — including vegetables in their meals will become a habit.

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.

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Mediterranean Scramble Pita Pockets

This is sponsored by the National Milk Life Campaign 

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

The holidays are a time when large families pack into small houses. Along with the extra laughter and coziness comes more mouths to feed, particularly for big breakfasts and brunch, especially Christmas morning brunch! These cute little Mediterranean scramble pita pockets make the perfect addition to your holiday brunch table. They are quick and easy to make – no worrying about burning the waffles or keeping people waiting on that casserole to finish setting! And they will satisfy hunger of all ages.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

I packed these Mediterranean scramble pita pockets with baby spinach, red pepper, kalamata olives, and prepared pesto, so they have quite a bit of flavor inside. Add any extra olives or peppers you have to the platter as a garnish.

To start the day with your best foot forward, have a glass of milk for a boost of wholesome, simple nutrition as your brunch drink of choice. ‘Tis best to start the day off on the right foot. Or add frothed milk to your coffee for cafĂ© au lait or latte or a touch of hot cocoa with warmed milk. An 8-ounce glass of milk has 8 grams of high-quality natural protein, plus other essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, so you’ll be getting good nutrition and comforting warmth all in one.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

The scramble base of these Mediterranean scramble pita pockets is made with eggs, milk, and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Eggs and milk are both ingredients I always have in my fridge, as their versatility and nutrition form the backbone of so many recipes.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Olives and pesto are long-lasting, tasty ingredients that I keep in the pantry and add to dishes for an easy way to boost flavor. And red peppers and spinach are always on my weekly shopping list. Thus, these pitas are made from many ingredients you likely have on hand already.  Use any extras to garnish your table!

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Begin by whisking the milk with eggs and Italian seasoning in a bowl.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add olive oil to the skillet. Toss in peppers and cook for about 3 minutes, until the peppers soften. Add spinach and olives, and cook for another 2 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Pour the egg mixture on top and scramble everything together until eggs are cooked through.

Mediterranean scramble pita pocketsMediterranean scramble pita pockets

Cut each pita in half to create 4 pieces. Cover pita halves with a damp paper towel and steam in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Finally, carefully stuff each pita half with egg mixture.

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets

Mediterranean Scramble Pita Pocket

Mediterranean scramble pita pockets


Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 six-inch wholewheat pitas
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/8 cup Kalamata olives, chopped (from about 8 whole medium olives)
  • 8 tsp prepared pesto
  • Pair each serving with: 8 ounce glass of milk


  1. Whisk eggs, 1/4 cup milk and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl.
  2. Heat nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add olive oil to skillet.
  3. Toss in peppers and cook for about 3 minutes, until peppers soften.
  4. Add spinach and olives, and cook for another 2 minutes, until spinach is wilted.
  5. Add egg mixture and scramble together until eggs are cooked through and no liquid remains.
  6. Cut each pita in half to create 4 pieces. Cover pita halves with a damp paper towel and steam in the microwave for 20 seconds.
  7. Fill each half with 2 teaspoons of pesto and then 1/4 of the vegetables scramble.
  8. Pair each Mediterranean scramble pita pocket with remaining 8-ounce glass of milk and serve.
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Monday In Meals + Tis the Season

Good morning!

It’s time for another edition of Monday In Meals where I recap what I ate throughout the day on Monday with a few random adventures thrown into the mix. Ok, here we go!

Yesterday morning started bright and early at 5:01 AM, which, of course, meant: COFFEE. I added eggnog and collagen to my iced coffee. 

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I worked until about 6:30 AM when Qman woke up. We cuddled on the couch, played, and then I made breakfast for the two of us. For me: Scrambled eggs with broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes with peppers and onions (from Trader Joe’s). I also finish off Quinn’s mango since he wasn’t in the mood for it.

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I ate breakfast so early, I was hungry again right before we were about to leave for CrossFit. I can’t work out on an empty stomach, so I ate half of a RXBAR. The maple sea salt flavor is EASILY my favorite. So friggin’ good!!

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Then, we’re off to CrossFit. Hey, snow! FYI: Quinn wants to wear his (light-up Batman) rain boots ALL THE TIME nowadays. I have a friend with a daughter the same age and she loves her rain boots too. Toddler thing?

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I used #95 for the Squat Cleans and finished in 10:00. Post-workout, I drink a protein shake made with SFH vanilla Recovery protein powder.

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After CrossFit, Quinn and I drive to Whole Foods for a couple of groceries and a $0.25 chocolate chip cookie to celebration National Cookie Day. FYI: Whole Foods is still offering the deal today (Tuesday), so hop on it! 🙂 #cookielovers

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Qman and I start out sharing a cookie, but he is quickly distracted by the bakery case…

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He eyes a Peppered Brioche Bun, points to it, and says “pleeeeaaassseeee” in the sweetest little voice ever. Well, ok. I give him a Peppered Brioche Bun because apparently he’s fancy. Qman eats the bun, so I finish off the chocolate chip cookie. Win win. I also get a half Vietnamese/half decaf cold brew coffee (because I can’t go into Whole Foods without getting one).

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We leave Whole Foods and put our boots to good use by splashing in the puddles near my car in the parking lot. FYI: Hunter Original Tall Gloss Boots are $45 off right now on the Hunter website. All colors!

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Back at home, we play for a bit and then I make us lunch. Qman eats soup, crackers, and sliced peaches. I reheat some Sweet Potato Hash (made with ground beef instead of turkey).


During naptime, I get to work. I eat the other half of my RXBAR from the morning and make myself a decaf eggnog latte (1/2 egg nog + 1/2 unsweetened almond milk, so it’s not a total calorie bomb).

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When Quinn woke up from his nap, we took Murphy for a walk and then met Dada at Target for Day 5 of 24 Days of Togetherness: Get a Christmas tree. Since we already got our real Christmas tree, we decided to get a “niny” decoration and we considered quite a few options at Target before deciding on the best tree yet.


Mal and Qman immediately fell in love with a LED Christmas tree, which I suppose fits right into Day 5’s activity.


I don’t think it was what we were planning, but we definitely love it!


For dinner, we had Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore over pasta with side salads.


After dinner, the boys wants to make the rest of our holiday cookies from Day 3 of our 24 Days of Togetherness. I’m always game for cookies and ended up eating three. THREE. Tis the season, right?

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But, seriously, when I was putting together this post to recap what I ate throughout the day, I immediately thought: Holy cow, I ate a lot of junk/sugar. I didn’t even realize it until I saw it all together. I’m usually not someone who changes my eating habits all that much during the holidays (of course, I’ll eat some treats here and there), and I’m typically pretty aware of what I eat throughout the day, but I totally lost track yesterday. I blame the holidays! Haha! Oh, well. It was a fun day of eating and sometimes that’s what life is all about. Back on track today!

Question of the Day

How much do your food choices change during the holidays? 

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Episode 346 – Dr. Marianne Brandon – Sexuality