Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MMMMM .... Donuts!

Many of you who know me, know that I like to cook. Most of the food, snacks and treats I make are Paleo, or as close to it as possible. And many of you who know me well enough and are around me often have the luck of eating, tasting and trying some of the things I make.

One of the things I make quite often are Paleo Donuts.

This little "hobby" came about last year while on the Christmas in Salem house tours with one of my fellow Paleo eating Crossfit friends in Salem, MA.

We had gone to the Topsfield Fair several weeks earlier and had Apple Cider donuts. As we were walking through some of the houses they had something baking in the oven, or mulling spices on the stove to make the houses smell nice and we both said "Apple Cider donuts would be awesome right now, I wish they were Paleo," and you could see the light bulb pop above both our heads.

We both grabbed our iPhone's and searched for Paleo Apple Cider Donuts and found the same website and recipe that started it all.

The site was and the recipe was relatively simple. The next day I went out and bought my $20 Babycakes Donut Maker from Bed Bath & Beyond and I was off and running. 

I made a couple batches that night, which consisted of about 20 donuts, and shared them with some people the next day and they were a hit.
Paleo Apple Cider Donuts

I continued to make more as the weeks followed and brought them to my gym, Crossfit Wicked, and people were devouring them.

When the Crossfit Open began, which is an international competition that allows anyone to compete for a shot to be in the Crossfit Games, I started making batches of donuts on Saturday night to bring to the gym on Sunday. Over the course of 5 weeks I made close to 250 donuts. Not one of those donuts went un-eaten, I assure you!

Over the next few months I began trying different donut recipes and any time someone would see a paleo donut recipe, they would pass it along to me. I would make them, tweak the recipe if necessary and let other people try them. 

Over the last 10 months I have made close to 1,000 donuts. So, there is that.

Not surprisingly, people like donuts. It's a $10 Billion industry. But obviously, (or not so obvious to some) donuts aren't really, shall we say, nutritious.
Somoa (Caramel Delight) Paleo Donuts

However, eliminating the processed grains and sugars and making donuts and treats made with real fruit, raw honey, nuts and other natural ingredients is something people at my gym and in the paleo community always look for, more nutritious options. So, it got me thinking, and I decided to start a little side project with the poking and prodding of many of my friends. 

The Crooked Lair Bake Shop - Paleo Donuts and Treats.

I'm starting with the members of Crossfit Wicked to see how fulfilling orders in a timely fashion will happen and what quantities I can handle. I'm trying not to over-promise and under-produce right out of the gate. But, hopefully in the near future I can start accepting orders from outside my immediate community. (I don't even want to think about if shipping is even possible right now)

I'm very excited about this and I can't wait for other people to try my donuts and a few other special paleo treats. 

More to come soon...

Paleo Chocolate Cupcake Donuts
Paleo Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting Older, Getting Stronger, Getting Better

I haven't posted any blogs in a while and I have no excuse. So, let's just chalk that one up to a thing called Summer.

Now that summer is over and it's back-to-school time, I've been settling back onto the Paleo wagon. Lets face it, the wheels fell off of the wagon this summer and it was basically up on a hydraulic lift in pieces for 3 or 4 months. It's now time to get back after it.
Izzy and Aidan heading
back to school

With the weather cooling down and the Fall Crossfit competition season heating up at all of the local boxes, I figured it was time to get back to a good food routine. Start cooking more, trying out new snacks, treats and recipes to add to my Paleo repetoire and so far, it's been pretty damn awesome.

One of the most difficult things with the Paleo lifestyle is trying to fend off boredom. Meat and veggies and eggs and nuts can get pretty boring. But, with all of the recipe sites out there and your friendly smartphone, there is no excuse for not trying new things. (Sorry about all the negatives in one sentence... think positive).

Spices are your friend. Remember that, and say it with me..."Spices are your friend". 

Spices can make or break any meal. But most of the time, they kick a bland everyday meal into something amazing.

Recently, I bought a rack of babyback ribs from Trader Joe's to cook on the grill at a party. I season almost every meat on the grill with salt, pepper and garlic. However, I was feeling a little spicy myself, so I got a little creative and added paprika and cinnamon. 

Cinnamon is becoming my "everything" spice. I put it in my coffee, on ice cream (paleo of course), and use it on several other meats and meals. It is definitely a super-spice. Check out some of the health benefits of cinnamon here. 

The other spice I really like is Paprika. I'm not really one for "hot" food, but paprika gives a mild, warm kick to your food. Combined with the cinnamon it makes for a really sweet combination.

Grilled babyback Ribs with sautéed Sugar Snap Peas
If you're having ribs on the grill, of course you need some sort of sauce. There are so many great barbecue sauces out there, but of course, I didn't have any in the house. So, I made one up with what we had. A simple sauce from ketchup, steak sauce, pure maple syrup, salt and pepper. Of course there are some crappy ketchups out there. Make sure you get an organic or all-natural ketchup either made with organic cane sugar or regular sugar instead of any High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Skip anything with HFCS in it. 

The sauce was surprisingly good, and caramelized on the ribs as they browned at the end. Really good stuff and it's difficult to not feel satisfied after a meal like this.

I have been trying some great new breakfast recipes as well that I'll share in another blog post soon along with the ever popular Paleo Donuts.

Since getting back to paleo, and eliminating any grains, dairy, I have definitely seen the lean me coming back. I've also noticed my strength picking up a notch as well, hitting a couple PRs at Crossift Wicked over the last few weeks (Squat Clean - 195#, Snatch - 155#).

However, what I have also noticed is there are things that I haven't been working on regularly that I really need to focus on, like the one most Crossfitters loath... running.

I used to "like" running. Meaning, it wasn't difficult and I could do it relatively effortlessly. As I've gotten a little older (into the Masters Division) I have noticed that running is taking much more effort. Especially combined in a WOD. My cardio gas tank is definitely not as large or forgiving as it used to be. 

What this means to me is work! I need to work on this. It's becoming a goat, and I don't like it. I'm not saying I want to bust out a World Class marathon time. I just don't want to be dragging my feet on a 400m run. I want an easy, steady pace and I know the only way I'll get there is to work on it. Just like everything else, I need to put the work in. I didn't get my PR's by staring at the bar. And I sure as hell am not going to get better at running by talking about it. Time to put the supplemental work into the UN-fun things as well. 

It's pretty crazy to think this way, but as I'm getting older, I'm definitely getting stronger, which a few years ago I didn't even consider being possible. But, I also need to get better. Not just in the gym, but in life too. My kids deserve it, I deserve it, and my family and friends deserve it. The only way that's going to happen is putting in the work. The work may not be fun. It may not be easy. But one thing is for sure, I'm worth it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

+1, as in years

I have been asked several times over the last few weeks why I haven't been posting on my blog. To be honest, I have a lot of things going on that I could be talking about. My kids, Crossfit, new recipes and my life in general. But, I really just haven't felt like there were things that everyone needed or wanted to hear about. Or even things that I really feel I needed to share. 

So, I did what not enough people do in our social media, share everything, crazed world. I kept my thoughts, feelings, emotions and verbal diarrhea to myself. And you know what? I think it was a smart move, for my sake, and yours.

With that being said.... moving on...

It's Crossfit Games season and I'm pretty damn stoked about it. I can't wait to go to the Crossfit Northeast Regionals May 17-19 in Canton, MA. 

If you have never been, or are interested in Crossift, or just like sports events, get there. The fittest athletes in the Northeast are there to compete in individual and team competitions at Reebok World Headquarters. It's pretty freakin' sweet! Plus, it doesn't hurt that there will be hundreds of amazingly fit people there as well. Six packs drinking six packs. Believe me guys and girls, if you like good-looking fit people, it's Eye-Candy Central!

The regional competition is the culmination of the Crossfit Games Open that welcomes all comers from around the world to compete for five weeks in five different workouts which could potentially let you qualify for the regionals. This year, was an amazing five weeks at my Box (or gym) Crossfit Wicked in Middleton, MA.

The Open workout was programmed on Thursday this at Crossfit Wicked this year, but many people did it, or re-did it on Sunday. And our community of awesome members that make up Crossfit Wicked gathered to watch and cheer on other members. It really is an amazing thing to be a part of. Cheering on people to get 10 reps or 100 reps just as loud as the next. It really is what makes Crossfit so great. Everyone is there to compete. Whatever level you are, you can compete and try to be better everyday. The gains mentally, emotionally and physically are truly amazing. And the people around you that experience it with you make it even better.

Of course, another fun thing about the Open were the donuts.

Yes, I said donuts!

This fall, I found a recipe to make Paleo Apple Cider Donuts and they are to die for. My five week total at the end of the open was over 250 donuts made. And the members of 'Wicked were very grateful. It felt good to make it a staple that people looked forward to every week. 

Another memorable moment of those 5 weeks was heading to McDonald's and ordering 20 Iced coffees at the drive-thru only to hear the girl on the other end of the speaker say "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?" Really good stuff!

Now, it's getting to Spring/Summer crunch time and my 41st birthday has passed, time to get back to pretty strict Paleo. Three days in so far, and feeling good, one year older, one year better!

Hopefully you'll see more posts from me on a regular basis in the coming weeks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pan Seared Yumminess!

Sea Scallops are probably one of the tastiest and easiest things to cook. They're good, usually pretty large and "meaty" and ... they're fresh and local, if you're on the coast, of course. It's definitely one of the benefits of being on the North Shore.

Now, if you watch Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey or any of those stupid shows (which I do occasionally watch, they make it seem like it's so difficult to prepare. Really, it's SUPER easy. Here's how...

1 lb Sea Scallops (10-12 scallops)
2 TBSP Butter (Kerrygold unsalted)
1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Clove Fresh Garlic, Minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 lb (or small bag) sugar snap peas
1/2 lb (or small bag) baby carrots
8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms (optional)

Start with the veggies, since your carrots will take the longest to cook.
Use a medium saute pan over medium heat. Melt 1 TBSP butter. Add baby carrots, mix/flip with butter in pan and cover for 2-3 minutes. Stirring occasionally. Add Snap peas and mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally to coat evenly and make sure they don't burn. Turn to low heat and leave covered until the carrots or soft enough to take a fork, but not mooshy. I like mine to still have a little snap to them.

At the same time, melt 1 TBSP butter and add Olive Oil to another medium to large saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the minced garlic and let it brown slightly, 30-45 seconds. Pepper and Salt your Scallops on both sides before putting them in the pan. Be careful of using too much salt... they already have some salt content to them, so don't over do it (especially if you're using salted butter)  then add the scallops to the pan. Place them in the pan evenly on a flat side. 

Allow them to cook for a minute or two to get brown. Use the liquid (oil and butter) and baste the scallops as they cook. You may need to tilt your pan to get spoonfuls to pour over the scallops. This will add flavor and speed the cooking process slightly.

Be careful that the scallops don't stick to the pan. After about 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the scallops) flip them to the other side and continue to baste and allow them to cook. They should have a slight golden brown color. The scallops should be in the pan 6-8 minutes, 10 if they are really big scallops.

Spoon your veggies onto your plate and place the scallops on top, then baste again with the garlic butter sauce from the pan. You can also add a squirt of lemon to give it some sweetness. 

10 minute meal... and pretty fancy too! :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken Fried "Rice"

 Recipe time...
Here is another recipe you can make a dozen different ways. Vary it however you want to make it your own. Add other veggies, spices, proteins, whatever you want or like. 

You can use curry powder or chilli powder to give it an extra kick. Add a couple of scrambled eggs and/or bacon too for some additional flavors. Really play with this one, you won't be disappointed. 

A great tip for these meals too, ALWAYS make more than you'll eat at that time. Leftovers are the key to keeping on track for quick meals. Enjoy!

 Chicken Fried "Rice" (Cauliflower)
1.5 lbs Chicken Breast or Tenderloins Cubed
1 Medium Onion Chopped
4 Medium Carrots, quartered and cut in quarters
lengthwise (2‐3” pieces)
2 Cups Broccoli
1 large Clove Garlic – minced or chopped
½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 Red Pepper Chopped
2 TBSP Ginger (I used powdered)
4 TBSP Soy Sauce
4 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 head Cauliflower – chopped
3 Eggs ‐ beaten

Fill a large sauce pan with water until half full and bring to a boil. Once boiling add the cauliflower to the water and cook until fork tender. (Soft enough to mash – but don’t mash smooth).

Season Chicken with salt, pepper and Garlic Powder to taste.
In medium fry pan, preferably with high sides, add 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat and add chicken once the oil has become hot. Cook the chicken completely. Sides should be a golden brown when done then remove from pan.

In same pan, add 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, clove garlic and red pepper. Heat until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes) mixing as necessary. Then add Carrots and Broccoli. 

Add 1 TBSP soy sauce, mix together and cover for about 2‐3 minutes for carrots and broccoli to become tender, mixing every minute or so to keep from sticking or burning.

While the onion mixture is cooking, drain the water from the cauliflower, add to a large bowl and begin mashing with a potato masher. The cauliflower should be mashed into small pieces but not smooth.

At this point, you may need to combine in two batches depending on how big your fry pan is. (I usually split the ingredients in two and do two batches).

Add the cauliflower together with the onion mixture. Add another 1‐2 TBSP of Soy Sauce.

Add 1 TBSP of ginger at a time and mix. (Be sure to taste before adding all the ginger, it packs a little kick). 

Add additional pepper and salt as needed. (Be careful about adding too much salt as your Soy Sauce is loaded with sodium).

Add the eggs and mix well (if you’re doing two batches, remember to only add ½ of each ingredient at this point). 

Add Chicken and another dash of soy sauce.

Serves 4‐6 as a meal, or could be used as a side dish for other meals, or for plenty of leftovers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"...but you need..." No Buts!

I really needed to post this. I hear from people all the time when I talk about my nutrition (I really don't like using the word "Diet" anymore, too many bad associations) I always hear people say "but you need Milk. But you need fiber. But, but, but" for excuses about needed grains and dairy.

There are so many plants and vegetables that our ancestors ate and that are readily available for us to eat now that provide the nutrients we need to be healthy without eating grains or Dairy. 

It's just a matter of politics when it comes to the Farming and Dairy industries for the government to say "you're right, you don't need those". Those two industries would go apeshit.

So here is some good info on one simple rockstar veggie: Kale.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spaghetti (Squash) With Meatballs!

Spaghetti Squash with Pan Fried Meatballs and Marinara

1 Medium to Large Spaghetti Squash
1 Can Kitchen Ready Tomatoes
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
2lb Ground Beef (85%-15%, preferably Grass Fed)
1-1/2  Tbsp Oregano flakes
1-1/2 Tbsp Parsley flakes
1-1/2 Tbsp Basil flakes
1 Bay Leaf
1 Medium Onion – Diced
3 Cloves Garlic
½ tsp Cayenne pepper (more if you want more of a spicy kick)
1 Egg
3 to 4 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat oven to 375 Degrees.
Cut Squash in half and scrape out seeds. Salt and Pepper the cut side of the squash and place cut side down on a tinfoil covered cookie sheet. Place in pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how large the squash is). Squash is done when you can push on the back of the squash with a spoon and it begins to cave in.

Place ground beef, egg, 1/3 of the onion finely diced, ½ Tbsp of Basil, Oregano and Parsley, 1 clove garlic Minced, salt, pepper to taste (approx. 2 tsp) and cayenne pepper to a large bowl. Combine with your hands until mixed thoroughly.
Roll large golf ball sized meatballs with your hands. Wetting your hands will bind the meatballs and allow the mixture to not stick to your hands as much.
In large Fry pan, add 2 TBSP Olive Oil over medium heat. Place meatballs in pan and brown all sides. Meatballs should be firm to the touch. If they are too squishy, the middles aren’t done and they’ll fall apart in the sauce.

Add 2 TBSP Olive Oil to medium to large stock pot/sauce pan.  Add diced onion and diced garlic into  pan and cook for 3-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, mix well. Then add the Oregano, Parsley, Basil and Bay Leaf over medium heat, bring the sauce to a light simmer, mixing frequently, then turn down the heat to low and allow the sauce to bubble slightly for 20 minutes.
Add cooked meatballs to Sauce. Cook another 10-15 minutes on low heat.
(If you do the meatballs and sauce ahead of time, you will get more flavor in the sauce and meatballs the longer you let it sit over low heat, stirring occasionally).

Once the squash is done. Remove from Oven and let sit 5 to 8 minutes so it cools slightly. Long enough for you to handle it with a dish towel. With a fork scrape the inside of the squash lengthwise into a bowl. The strings of “spaghetti” will fall easily into the bowl. Hollow out entire squash.

Add servings to plates, add salt and pepper as necessary and cover with sauce and meatballs. Enjoy!