Chocolate Banana Walnut Bites

We had a snow day yesterday and it gave me the opportunity to experiment with the green banana flour I bought a few weeks ago. I’ve known about green banana flour for a while, but kept forgetting to order some. Then, I conveniently stumbled upon it at the grocery store. Score!

So far, I am pretty impressed with the flour. It worked well in this recipe and did not yield a strong or sweet banana flavor. It’s actually rather subtle. All in all, the bites turned out intensely chocolatey, subtly sweet, and slightly crunchy. In addition to the wonderful flavor, you get a dose of antioxidants, healthy fats, and resistant starch in these decadent bites. Perfect little treat.

Also, if you’re wondering, resistant starch actually, “resists digestion” and feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut. This can lead to improved blood fats, better insulin sensitivity, increased satiety, improved digestion, and more. Cold cooked white potatoes, fresh green bananas, and green plantains are other great sources. If you want to learn more about resistant starch, visit HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup green banana flour (find HERE)
  • 1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, preferably sprouted
  • 4 large medjool dates, pitted

*Note: if you want these sweeter, you can add a little maple syrup, raw honey, or another 1-2 pitted medjool dates

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the cacao nibs in the food processor. Process until mixture is well blended and clumps together.
  2. Add the cacao nibs and pulse a few times to incorporate.
  3. With hands, roll mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place in the refrigerator to set for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Yields: ~15 bites

 

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Primal Blueprint/True Nature Training Recap

Photo from the seminar. I'm in the blue, second to last row and Jesse is next to me in the teal tank. (Photo credit: Tracy Barksdale).
Photo from the seminar. I’m in the blue, second to last row and Jesse is next to me in the teal tank. That’s Tara speaking, up in the front. (Photo credit: Tracy Barksdale).

This past Saturday, Jesse and I went to a Primal Blueprint/True Nature Training workshop here in Portland. We signed up a few months back after seeing the workshop posted on Mark Sisson’s, Primal Blueprint website. Anytime opportunities like this pass through Portland or somewhere nearby, I try to take advantage of them. I love being reminded of why I live the way I do, meeting other like-minded individuals and inspiring those new to the lifestyle. It’s downright motivating. Not only that, but it’s neat to hear other people’s stories and where they’re at in their life.

The workshop was lead by Tara Grant (Primal Blueprint part) and Tracy Barksdale (True Nature Training part). Overall, the the workshop was great, particularly the discussions. I wish we could have done more of the movement stuff, but we kinda ran out of time, so only got about 60 minutes of the True Nature stuff. Most of the movements are things that I already do and that we implement at Recreate, but it was fun seeing other people’s reactions and approaches to things like crawling, rolling, etc. Ideally, I think the workshop duration should have been at least an hour longer, to allow more time for the movement stuff. Alternatively, it would have been fun to split up the discussion/presentation with a bought of movement (5-10 min. long) every hour or so. Anyway, maybe there is more time usually, but I’m sure a lot of it depends on the discussions and questions. Our group was very engaged and had a lot of comments, discussions and questions, so it took some extra time!

I was so stoked that I won this tank at the workshop! I wanted this when I saw it online a while back, but knew it wasn't essential, so didn't buy it. I'm glad I didn't!
Don’t mind the iPhone selfie, but I was so stoked that I won this tank at the workshop! I wanted this when I saw it online a while back, but knew it wasn’t essential, so didn’t buy it. I’m glad I didn’t!

A lot of the information in the presentation was a refresher for me and things I already know (i.e. why grains are bad, healthy fats, etc.), but I still learned some new things. Here are some things I had in my notes — some new and some just interesting:

  • Our bodies produce 20,000 units of vitamin-D after only 20 minutes in the sun (without sunscreen/block, of course).
  • Vitamin-D2 is an artificial form of vitamin-D and is not useful AT ALL. Vitamin-D3 is where it’s at!
  • “Focus on the present moment to avoid stupid mistakes.” – #9 on Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint list
  • You CAN reprogram your genes! Genes respond to what they’re given and will turn on or off based on our inputs. For example, just because other members in your family have cancer, PCOS, autoimmune conditions, osteoporosis, etc. does not mean you are doomed. It means you are potentially susceptible to such things, but the genes for these conditions can stay dormant based on your inputs and environment. Nourishing yourself properly, managing stress, exercise and sleeping are key here!
  • Your body does not recognize industrial oils (canola, vegetable, soybean, safflower, etc.) as fat, but rather, your body sees it more like plastic.  This is why people can eat endless amounts of chips, fries and other packaged foods, and not feel full. The fat in these products does not satiate you because your body does not recognize it as fat! These franken oils do not register in your body! Fat is filling and satiating, remember? That’s why you feel more full when eating REAL fats or foods cooked in real, healthy fats and are unable to eat endless amounts.
  • Lectins are the origin of nearly all autoimmune conditions. In fact, the formula for AI conditions is diet + genes + leaky gut. Poor diet choices turn on the genes and leaky gut, leading to AI conditions.
  • Lectins sail through the intestinal barrier and take other toxins with it (leaky gut!). In turn, this can also block the absorption of nutrients. This can trigger AI conditions, SIBO, problems with weight gain and much, much more.
  • Phytates bind minerals in the digestive tract and create deficiencies in calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamins A, B, C and D. None of us can digest phytates!
  • Anything that gives you gas and bloating is not normal and is a sign that something is wrong! No, it’s not normal that beans give you gas…we’re not meant to eat them!
  • Tara Grant’s, “Gatorade” recipe – just mix and drink:
    • Water
    • Pinch of sea salt (for sodium, obviously)
    • Squirt of fresh lemon juice (for potassium)

Food Log Assignment Update

Nutrition
Nutrition (Photo credit: The Noun Project)

Remember my nutrition food log assignment I told you about? Well, it’s still going on and the rest of the assignment is due today. I ended up being partners with this fabulous 54-year old woman, who is familiar with the concept behind paleo and has similar beliefs as me regarding food. I admit, it would’ve been fun and entertaining to be partners with someone who doesn’t know about paleo and follows the SAD, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be this time around. Anyway, my partner was not flabbergasted by my food log, whereas most people following a SAD would be. In case you’re wondering, for my three days, my macros were about 55-56% fat (mostly saturated type), 25% protein and 20% carbs (all from veggies and some fruit).

Anyway, my partner used to weigh 300 lbs and lost 100 lbs eating a high-fat, low-carb diet. She said her primary care doctor (she also sees a naturopath) didn’t understand why her blood levels and everything were so great when she switched to eating this way (because of all the fat), but told her to keep it up since it was clearly working. She ate this way for four years, but now, eats a little bit of grains, but not much. She avoids gluten, nightshades (aggravates her RA) and most dairy, aside from pasture butter.

Part of the assignment included us writing a one-day meal plan for each other, based on goals, deficiencies (I wasn’t deficient in any vitamins or minerals…exceeded the RDI for every one!), around a certain event, etc. We could create it the way we wanted to. Anyway, she asked me to create a one-day paleo plan for her to support her activities. She’s a distance runner and for this whole year, she made the goal of running a half marathon every month, which she has done so far. There is one little caveat though, she doesn’t eat a lot of meat and wanted my paleo plan for her to be vegetarian-ish. I still put a little bit of meat and eggs on her plan because she does eat some, but had to be mindful of what and how much I chose. Her plan was paleo-inspired, but tweaked to meet her needs. Paleo can be tough for distance runners, but is doable if one really pays attention to their diet and stays on top of things. That means lots of high-quality carbs, like sweet potatoes, yams, winter squashes, pumpkin, etc. For the really intense crowd, Amy Kubal, a paleo RD on Robb Wolf’s team, says that things like skinless white potatoes, white rice and corn tortillas can be helpful, in addition to starchy veggies and fruit. In this case, there must not be any autoimmune issues though.

People running at the 2007 20 kilometer road r...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To quote Jason Seib, from this week’s Everyday Paleo Lifestyle & Fitness podcast, “It’s hard to do complete paleo [with distance running] because distance running is a less than ideal situation.” Jason says that taking something like distance running, which is unnatural by nature, and mixing it with paleo, which is natural, can be tough.

On a side note, I’ll be curious to see the paleo plan my partner made for me. I told her to create it around a day of air travel and account for little activity that day, since it’d involve a lot of sitting. She liked the idea and said it made things easier for her. I’ll be sure to share her meal plan for me, so stay tuned!

Food Log Assignment

(Photo credit: downtowndoodler.tumblr.com)
(Photo credit: downtowndoodler.tumblr.com)

If you saw my Facebook post the other day, you know about my current assignment in nutrition class. If not, no worries…you’re about to get all the details. Just so you understand the assignment in its entirety, here it is, exactly as given:

Food Log Assignment

You need to keep a food & beverage log/diary for 3 days. Log EVERY item you eat/drink.

  • Include at least 1 day that you would consider to be your “typical” diet/daily consumption
  • Include at least 1 day that you would consider to be “atypical” or maybe your “weekend” diet/consumption
  • The 3rd day is your choice

Enter your entire 3 day food log/diary in an ANY electronic tracking system of your choice – www.fitday.com, NutriCalc Software (from HPE 295), www.livestrong.com, www.choosemyplate.gov or any other system…Explore!

By the way… start to play with various apps – free & paid – to see what’s out there. Your clients & athletes will use these and you need to know which ones are available and good.

Print out your Log & bring it with you to class on 2/28 – you will be trading with another student.

Included in your log should be at least the following:

  • Quantity/Serving per item to best of your ability (this will give you an idea of how hard this is for your clients J)
  • Total Calories consumed each day
  • Macronutrient Information – daily, not per meal/food
    • Grams of Carbohydrate
    • Grams of Protein
    • Grams of Fat
  • Micronutrient Information – daily, not per meal/food
    • Vitamin A, D, E, K
    • Vitamin C, Thiamin B1, Riboflavin B2, Niacin B3, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12
    • Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium (or NaCl), Potassium
    • Iron, Zinc, Chromium, Fluoride, Copper, Manganese, Iodine, Selenium
    • Omega 6 & 3 (if possible)

There it is folks. What do you think? For one, I’ll just say that those electronic food logging systems are annoying and more stressful than writing down what I’m eating. Not only that, but it doesn’t allow me to emphasize the quality of the foods I’m eating, although I was able to find grass-fed ground beef. I tried to find the least bad food logging system possible and was fortunate to find a paleo one called, PaleoTrack. It’s way better than the other options out there and isn’t focused around the SAD. It’s still annoying though, and I hate estimating how much I’m eating. I never worry about calories and quantities, and always just eat until I feel satisfied. Thankfully, it’s only for three days. Food logging short-term isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s long-term food logging that I really don’t like. I believe it creates an unhealthy relationship with food, causes a lot of stress and makes eating seem unnatural. Short-term for analyzing someone’s diet, whatever, fine. But, I still don’t like the electronic logging systems.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how a fellow classmate consults me on my diet. I can see the issue of too much fat and not enough carbs coming up, but it partly depends who I get paired with. I think the majority of students in my class would go that route though. Regardless, it’ll give me a chance to do a little educating and even if they don’t buy what I say, hopefully it will at least make him or her curious enough to some research of their own. It’ll be entertaining to say the least, and what’s really fun is that I get to consult them too. Dun dun dun!

Nutrition Class Assignment

As some of you know, I’m currently taking a nutrition class for my program. Specifically, it’s called, “Nutrition for Fitness Instructors,” and is centered around sports nutrition and recommendations for athletes and active people. I dreaded this class before it started because I knew that it would revolve around USDA guidelines and the standard American diet. Obviously, I’m not a fan and cannot promote either of these things.

I’ve had my moments of frustration in the class, and listening to lectures about the USDA’s MyPlate is darn painful, but the class hasn’t been all bad. Fortunately, my teacher is pretty cool and open-minded. I was thrilled on the day of the carbohydrate lecture when she promoted vegetables and fruits as carbohydrate sources, and went on to mention that some people don’t eat grains, and it’s fine. She said that people forget that veggies and fruit are carbohydrate sources, which is very true. I hope all my classmates were listening at that moment.

Anyway, we were given an assignment recently consisting of 11 scenarios, in which we had to give recommendations based on what we’ve talked about and learned in class. Some questions were fine and didn’t annoy me as much as others, but the two scenarios/questions below irked me a lot, because I know exactly how most people will respond, especially regarding cholesterol. No, my teacher did not come up with these scenarios, rather the authors of our textbook did.

I responded to both of these questions addressing my personal reservations. I could not pretend. If I get marked down, so be it. I don’t know if she’ll necessarily mark me down anyway, but again, I’m not concerned. We already discussed that people don’t have to eat grains or dairy, so I’m sure she won’t think much about my response for that one. I can guarantee many other students will say the woman needs to eat grains though, but not necessarily the dairy. I say this, because I was discussing the questions in class with two other students and they both said, “yes, she needs to eat grains.” I looked at both of them and told them that I disagreed wholeheartedly and went on to tell them that I haven’t eaten grains in 1.5 years. They both seemed very surprised. I was happy to make my point clear that people don’t need grains, and reminded them that carbohydrates can come from sources like vegetables.

Grain products are often baked, and are rich s...
No, grains are NOT essential. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both of these scenarios left out a lot of details. I know the questions are just asking for very basic recommendations, but I would never address these questions or give advice without knowing more information first. I even stated this in my answers. I know, it may seem like I over-complicated the questions, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. The additional information I need regarding their lifestyle and current diet is basic in my opinion.

Also, as you may notice, Julie from scenario #1 is doing way too much cardio. Where’s your strength training/heavy lifting, Julie?

Okay, okay, that’s enough, I suppose. I could probably go on about these questions forever. But, what do you think about these questions? Would you put the “right” answer just to get a good grade or would you say otherwise and stand up for what you believe?

Scenario #1

Julie is interested in losing weight. She enjoys participating in step aerobics, kickboxing, and muscle conditioning group fitness classes 4-5 times per week. She eliminated all breads, pastas, and other grains, as well as dairy products from her diet 4 months ago to help her lose weight. She lost a couple pounds initially, but has struggled to continue her weight loss. Juile’s goal is to lose another 5 pounds while also feeling more energetic during the day at work.

Questions: Does Julie need to start eating grains and dairy again? Please provide justification for your answer. If she refuses to eat grains and dairy, what would you suggest as an alternative?

English: CORONADO, Calif. (Jan. 14, 2009) Fitn...
Julie does a lot of cardio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scenario #2

Calvin is a 19-year old collegiate gymnast. He has been consuming approximately 3,200 calories per day, feels energetic, recovers well and has maintained his weight at 150 pounds for the last 2 years. After a recent blood test, he discovered that his total cholesterol is 235. He is concerned about this result, and asks for your assistance in making the necessary dietary changes to lower his cholesterol.

Questions: How many grams of total fat, as well as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, would you recommend Calvin consume daily? Do you have any other dietary suggestions that would help Calvin lower his cholesterol?

Help Your Friends and Family Understand Paleo

Paleo evolution
Paleo evolution (Photo credit: new habit.org)

Check out this short, sweet and informative video (see link below) that helps explain some paleo basics. Share it with your friends, family or anyone that you’d like to better understand why you eat paleo. To those of you that follow my blog and do not follow a paleo lifestyle, I strongly encourage you to watch it to grasp a better understanding of some basics. The video is under six minutes long, so it won’t take much of your time. Plus, it’s entertaining!

Help Your Friends Understand Paleo

Additionally, listed below is a great resource from The Paleo Mom for those interested in transitioning to a paleo lifestyle, but don’t know where to start. As stated on her blog, SarahBallantyne, Ph.D. (aka The Paleo Mom), “shares her biology, physiology and nutrition knowledge through informative posts that distill the science behind the paleo diet into approachable explanations.”

“I Want to Eat Paleo, but Don’t Know Where to Start!”