Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Periodizing Nutrition: The High Fat Approach

All The Pretty Choices

I am brain dumping on the topic of choices today.

I have come to realize how much I like thinking, planning, and talking about life. And the millions of choices, big and small, we all get to make each day.

There is no class in school about being a human, being an adult, or about living life. We are a diverse planet and one size would not fit all. Life is chaotic and different for every person, yet my brain seeks order and rules. I have always been drawn to systems, and as I wander through the internet I am seeking guidelines, tricks, hacks, and recommendations that I can apply to my own life.

I love reading healthy living blogs because they are filled with great ideas for nutritious food and recommendations for an active life that I can apply to my own.

I follow home, lifestyle, organizing, and minimalism blogs and magazines (and listen to podcasts!) because I am always reflecting how best to live in my own space.

I am obsessed with the Dave Ramsey Show podcast because I love hearing about how other people manage (or mismanage) their money and Dave’s advice for them. His tagline, “a show about your life and your money,” says it all.

Learning how other people do life allows me to reflect, consider, and apply things to my own.

A famous wizard once stated the following to a young hobbit:

I have always been interested in human psychology, and I think it’s fascinating to study the reasons why we make the decisions we do.

Why do we order the fish and chips over the kale caesar?

How do we choose what color to paint our walls or which rug to buy?

What makes us justify purchasing a new iPad or socking away 25% to retirement?

Often it is our choices that set us up for success or failure. And it’s usually not one giant decision but a million tiny choices that push us in one direction or another. Even when you are faced with tragedy, you get to choose which path you will follow in the days and weeks after.

When it comes to how we eat, we live, we dress, we schedule, we work, we love, we manage our money, most of them are the result of a cumulative effect – a snowball effect. Are the choices you are making right this moment moving you towards your overall life goals? Do you prefer a two-steps-forward-one-step-back approach or do you wait until you are sure of your direction and run?

Please reflect and share: What are some of the choices you made today and how are they getting you where you want to go?

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The Best Sneakers for Running & CrossFit

Hi, friends!

I get soooo many questions about which sneakers I wear for which kinds of workouts, so I thought it would be helpful to put my all-time favorites in one blog post for you guys! 

As you’ve seen on CNC over the years, I like to keep things fresh (and fun!) when it comes to my workouts. Recently, I love switching between running, CrossFit, and Orangetheory workouts, and I’ve learned that it’s important to have different sneakers for different types of activity. There’s no “one size fits all” for every workout. Wearing the correct sneakers for the type of activity ensures that your feet, ankles, and even joints are getting the support they need. Think about it: For the majority of workouts, your feet are the body part on the ground making the most impact. You don’t want your performance to be derailed just because you wore the wrong shoes!

Below are my top three tried-and-true picks for when I’m pounding the pavement (both short and long distance) or for when I’m lifting heavy, climbing ropes, and performing high-impact exercises at CrossFit!

Brooks Glycerin (long distance running) 

The Brooks Glycerin have been my favorite running shoes for as long as I can remember. I wore them before I started working with Brooks, and they have passed the mileage test time and time again, carrying me through the Boston Marathon and lots of half marathons since with no major injuries. They provide just the right amount of flexibility and “bounce,” but they’re also stable and supportive in all the right places. Even from the first time I put them on my feet, I knew it was a done deal. I fell in love immediately with their super soft cushioning. Plus, they come in fun colors and are pretty reasonably priced! The fit just feels natural, and they make running feel practically effortless with equal support from toe to heel. There’s no doubt, the Glycerin are the absolute best long-distance running shoes I’ve ever experienced!

Brooks Launch (Orangetheory + shorter runs) 

Though I am a die-hard fan of the Glycerin for long runs, the Launch is perfect for those times when you want to work on speed rather than distance. It’s more lightweight, but supportive with a springy push-off. Basically, they’re the best of both worlds when it comes to a running shoe. And now that I’m not doing a ton of a long distance running, the Launch are my go-to shoe lately. I typically wear them to Orangetheory and on runs shorter than 6-7 miles where I am focusing more on speed. Even though they’re supportive, they don’t quite have the same support as the Glycerin.

If you need help choosing the perfect shoe for you, Brooks has a handy shoe finder tool that I’ve used before and matched me with the Glycerin and the Launch after I was already wearing them, so I think it’s pretty accurate!

Nike MetCon (CrossFit) 

I love the Nike Metcons for CrossFit and bootcamp-style workouts. The soles are firm, so they offer good stability for weight-lifting. They’re durable yet lightweight and flexible, so they’re great for all kinds of functional CrossFit-y movements – everything from kettlebell swings and rope climbs to wall balls to pistols and everything in between. You can also run in the Metcons if you’d like, but I usually keep it short (typically 2 miles or less) because running is not really what they are built for. They’re some cushion and support, but not a ton. If a longer running workout (3+ miles) comes up at CrossFit, which very rarely happens, I’ll wear my Launches. FYI: The Metcons come in rose (so pretty) and they’re on sale right now! 🙂

Question of the Day

What’s your go-to shoe(s) for workouts?

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Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O’ Brien Recipe

These clean eating sweet potatoes o’ brien are the perfect side dish to just about any breakfast!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was in culinary school. One of the first classes I took was a knife skills class. I had a teacher named Hollie who I believe occasionally still reads my blog. (Hi Hollie!) She was a petite woman who could make herself heard from at least a mile away. She had a good command of her students and kitchen and I had a healthy respect for her and what she taught. She always had a smile for you, but could switch gears and “crack the whip” in the blink of an eye. Something a chef definitely needs to maintain command of a kitchen. And definitely something I appreciate in a teacher as well as a person. I’m somewhat of an alpha female myself, so I always appreciate and respect my fellow alphas.

A close up view of this Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O' Brien Recipe in a square, white dish. You see the chunks of sweet potatoes, and green and red bell peppers.

Unfortunately, I eventually had to drop out of culinary school to take care of my mom. And since I no longer live in Sonoma county, I can’t go back to the school I loved so much. Nothing here in the East Bay really compares, even if the programs here are well known for being good programs. I’ve thought about going back, but I would have to start from scratch because the credits I have won’t transfer to any of the programs here. So it’s a little disheartening. But with Mini Chef possibly going back to school next year (I’ve been homeschooling him this year), it’s actually a possibility. So we’ll see. But I digress…

In this knife skills class, I learned many different cuts for produce. And while I’ve long since forgotten the names for each cut (sorry Hollie!!) I haven’t forgotten the cuts themselves.

I will never forget how hard I worked to get the perfect cut for Potatoes O’ Brien. Most of the other cuts I did pretty well with. Even the more complicated ones. But this one, for some reason, I just could not get perfect in any way shape or form. I still try every time I make this, but I don’t make it often enough to make any real progress in that department. So I’m hoping my imperfect cuts will be overlooked by the masses and that my teacher will forgive me if she sees this terrible cut.

This image collage shows three different angles of the cut used on the sweet potatoes in this recipe for Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O' Brien.

The cut for this sort of thing is a 1/2 inch square that is a 1/4 inch thick. Not an easy cut to master. At least not for me. I know some folks prefer to have the potatoes in 1/2 inch cubes, but with sweet potatoes, I find that they don’t cook fast enough if they are cubed. Hence the 1/4 inch thickness here. (And I didn’t even achieve that very well!)

If you are not a culinary student or professional chef or cook, it probably won’t matter much to you anyway. But a uniform cut really helps this cook evenly. Part of cooking is making sure you have the timing down on how long it takes each ingredient to cook. So if you get your potatoes too thick, you’re peppers and onions will be done long before the potatoes are. You’ll end up with either under cooked potatoes or overcooked peppers and onions. So thickness matters for this Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O’ Brien recipe.

I have to say that the sweet potatoes do add a slightly different flavor to this classic favorite. But it’s delicious just the same and possibly even a little bit better in my humble opinion.


Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry


Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O' Brien

This classic dish gets a clean upgrade with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes! You get the same tasty dish with a nutrient upgrade!

Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Vegetables

Cuisine: American

Yield: 4 servings

Calories: 134 kcal

Author: The Gracious Pantry


  • 2 1/4 cup cut sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into O' Brien squares)
  • 1 cup cut green bell pepper
  • 1 cup cut red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • vegetable broth (as needed for cooking - no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste after cooking


  1. Cut your sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic and place them with the oil in a large skillet that has a lid.

  2. Begin to cook, stirring frequently. When the oil is nearly run out, add vegetable broth as needed to continue cooking.

  3. Whenever you are not stirring, cover the pan with the lid to allow the steam to cook the potatoes faster. Just keep an eye on this so that nothing gets burned.

  4. When the potatoes are cooked, toss in the parsley, give it a stir until it's just wilted and remove the entire skillet from heat.

  5. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve.

Recipe Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition Facts

Clean Eating Sweet Potatoes O' Brien

Amount Per Serving (0.25 the recipe)

Calories 134 Calories from Fat 27

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 3g 5%

Sodium 47mg 2%

Potassium 475mg 14%

Total Carbohydrates 23g 8%

Dietary Fiber 4g 16%

Sugars 7g

Protein 2g 4%

Vitamin A 244.7%

Vitamin C 106.1%

Calcium 4.3%

Iron 5.9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Episode 393 – Virta Health Study, Keto for Type 2 Diabetes