Monday, May 20, 2013

Paleo/ Clean Mangonada and Chamoy Pop: South Of The Border Treat!

Whoa there summer! Slow down. It is getting too hot too fast here in south Texas! Here just a week ago we were still enjoying the low 80's and NOW 105 is the afternoon trend. Yuck-O!
Since we live so close to the Mexican border, we have been introduced to so many unique cultural treats and foods rarely seen in the more northern areas of the US.
When we first moved to Texas we found Mangonadas. The local were shocked we had not heard of them and upon googling them, my guess is most of the rest of the world has not either! I feel better knowing I was not totally left out of the trend. Mangonadas are sweet, fruity, refreshing and totally easy to make. My kids like them without sauce so keep that in mind as you construct this easy summer treat.
Hello love!

Usually, mangonadas are full of sugar and mixed with various other fruits to make them unique to each border area. As a purist, I couldn't bare to mix sugar into the already fresh and sweet mango. Chamoy on the other hand, it a topping that is vital to authentic flavor. It is simply lime juice, chili powder and fermented figs.
You can find (I hope) chamoy or liquid chili sauce in your Latin food isle at the grocer or at your local international food market. Every market is international in south Texas! If your in Texas, it is next to the fruit in the produce section.

Here is the recipe:


2 very ripe mangos
1/2 cup water
chili powder or liquid chili sauce (chamoy)

You will need:
small plastic cups or Popsicle molds
Popsicle sticks
large bowl for mixing
freezer (duh)

1. Cut mangos and scoop out flesh. Here is a tutorial:

2. Add mango chunks and water to the bowl and blend into a smooth pulp
bad pic, BAD pic!!
3. If you want the chamoy, you have a few options. If your using plastic cups and pop sticks, save the chamoy as a dressing when you are ready to enjoy. If you are using a mold, dribble a small amount at the bottom of the mold and fill 1/2 the mold with mango mix on top. You can layer this throughout if you like! Fancy pants.

4. Fill the molds or cups 3/4 full and place the pop stick in for freezing. Our recipe makes about 6 pops.

5. Allow your pops to freeze for about 4 hours. 

6. The chamoy will melt faster than the mango so you will have a nice meld of flavors to enjoy dripping down the pop. OR you can dress it on top of the mangonadas cup and let it all melt together. Most locals eat this as a slush cup treat.
We enjoyed them as a pop in the backyard this evening! Please let me know when you try this and what you think! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mango Peach-Berry Soft Serve Clean Dessert

Have you ever tried soft serve fruit based ice cream? I am in love with my Yonanas machine. Never heard of that? It is a contraption that takes most any frozen fruit (mostly banana based due to  mild sugar content) and whips it into a soft serve clean food dream. 

With it in the upper 90's this week in South Texas, the reality of a fast approaching summer was upon us. The kids were pestering me for dessert tonight despite the massive dinner we had. Something about the heat brings out the sugar monster in my kids.
I went into my kitchen to play chef with my Yonanas machine and they got to be the tasters.
We tried a few new ideas and I have more in the works but need to head to the grocery store to try them. We first tried a banana, mixed berry, curry paste, and coconut combo. It was okay, but the curry was a little much...we needed some coconut milk instead of the shaved coconut. Next time.

What we did find to be a winner was:
Mango Peach Berry Soft Serve
1/3 cup frozen Mango chunks
1/4 cup frozen Blueberries
1/2 cup frozen Peaches
basil leaf garnish

Makes 1-2 servings

Mango, Peach, and Blueberry soft serve. The kids and I put in about half cup frozen peach, 1/3 cup frozen mango chunks, and 1/4 cup frozen blueberries. We used the Yonanas to mix things but I suspect a good hand blender would do the trick as well. I am really loving my new basil plant in the window and have been using it in many new dishes. I added it as a garnish to the mango berry mix and it got me thinking about a basil soft serve in itself.

Then I came across a few ideas on Google...
I'm going to make a few tests and combos and see where it goes. MAN, I need to go to the grocery store! This place is full of food...just none that combine to make tasty treats in the heat.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mobility Monday: Two Ways To Relieve Low Back Pain

Do you sit? I bet you sit sometimes. In fact, I bet you sit on your butt a lot. Even if you destroy the gym everyday, my guess is, at some point during the day, you smash your hind end into a chair and chill. Wanna know why we as a civilized nation have so many back problems? We sit in chairs. In third world countries they don't sit much. If the move to a relaxed position, it is a squat...a deep one.
In third world countries there are few slipped disks and achy backs. They have healthy backs despite struggling in other areas of quality of life (according to us...)

So how do we get a healthier back? Strength training and keeping a healthy weight is key of course. But what about healthy muscles?

Your butt is most likely a tight ball of angry muscle.
You gotta stretch that backside! Do this:
The Figure Four
I am my own camera person in the gym...

1. Keep your back strait.
2. Try and stretch that glute by moving the bent leg towards your torso.

You will feel a serious stretch in your butt! Work towards getting that leg to torso and breathing through the stretch for 20 seconds on and off for around 5 minutes each side. EACH DAY! You will fee so much better.
Then, you need to stretch the low back and create a healthy track for your hips to move in. The tighter our muscles get the weaker our hips are and the more out of alignment our hip joint gets. We should take a hint from our third world dwelling friends guessed it, SQUAT!
Pay no attention to my slight butt wink. I'm working on it!

The Paleo Squat, Caveman Squat, Tribal Squat...whatever you call it, is a great tool in getting a healthy, pain free low back.
1. Get low.
2. Push pelvis forward
3. Keep knees wide
4. Hang out down there as long as you can!
5. Hang on to a chair or pole to steady yourself if needed.
6. When you come back up, stick your butt out and use your legs to go up.

Start with about 15 seconds in that low squat and work your way up to around 10 minutes a day. You will be surprised how difficult this drill is. Despite the difficulty, it will do you nothing but good!

After a few days of the figure four drill and low squat, you will find ease in your stance and less pain in your lower back. Don't forget to pace yourself and be patient. Also, these keys are only a few pieces of the puzzle. Take care of your body with good nutrition, lose extra weight, exercise, and lift weights functionally!

I am really hoping for some Google follower love. Please choose to follow my blog publicly so I feel less like a dork. Pick me! PLEASE!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Whole30 Challenge: The Halfway Point

Well, 17 days into the Whole30 challenge is leaving me challenged. I just don't know if I am into the strict regiment it requires. I do feel lighter. I do feel cleaner. However, I have had some setbacks.
I cheat. Yes, I know as a blogger I am supposed to be perfect and DO IT and be amazing with results and all that jazz.
I'm not perfect. I mess up all the time with all kinds of things.
I feel like I am doing the best for me and still allowing a little grace in the process. Am I where I was 6 months ago? NO WAY. A year ago? How about 5 years ago? I am on another planet from the person I was 5 years ago. I am still trying to lose that last 10 pounds. I am still reaching for faster runs and stronger lifts.
The way I approach my nutrition is so much better than it was. I rarely eat grain or dairy. Do I still eat it? Yes. I don't drink alcohol with the exception of high quality beer.

 I have all but eliminated the Diet Coke I was obsessed with a few years back.
I am better.
Am I my best? No.
with a little less than two weeks left in my Whole30 challenge I am going to give it a fair shake. I AM eating clean. I will do all I can to stay in the moment and resist that cheat beer, tortilla, or cupcake. On the other side of this challenge I hope I can look back and see long lasting improved habits and cleaner nutrition as a whole. I know I won't give up dark beer. I know i will enjoy a tortilla every now and again. I will eat a cupcake. I don't need to eat them excessively, and that is huge progress.

I have been making some tasty stuff lately and am trying to decide what to share in my recipe files next.
taco salad with avocado, spinach, and sweet potatoes
Italian sausage and basil spaghetti sauce...over more spinach
Sriracha shrimp cocktail
Paleo banana pancakes

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mobility Monday: Correcting The Push Up Form

I teach a course of my own creation on Saturdays at Shotgun CrossFit. Mo-Yo is a combination class mixing the methods from Mobility Wod and Kelly Starrett plus Vinyasa yoga. I take sad broken athletes, broken from a hard week of CrossFit and workday stress, and mush and stretch them into supple happy weekend warriors.
I figured, since so many folks come in tight as a drum on Saturdays, perhaps a few methods on the ol' site during the week would be beneficial!

Enter Mobility Monday!!

Let's fix some pain.

The Broken Push Up

Here I am a few years ago showing off my awesome push up to the camera. Little did I know, I was totally destroying my shoulder by flaring out my elbows and also missing important triceps work by relying on my chest to do most of the work. Who wants the flabby swinging triceps area? NOT ME!

How do I fix this?! I see so many people begin push ups on the knees and flare the arms out JUST LIKE ME. 
Here are some tests and fixes to get you mobile and on the path to stronger more awesome arms:

The Pretest
-Get in the plank position
-With a strong core and elbows tucked close to the body, lower yourself to the floor and let your chest and thighs touch the floor
-Can you keep that form and go back up?

OK! Keep doing that. This is your new push up position. Keep those elbows tucked in and feel the hot burning love of the triceps.

No?...Keep Reading

How To Get The Better Push Up

1. Say goodbye to knees on the floor. Seriously, this is only a crutch and does not train your core to hold your body tight and strong. 
Again...This is a faulty form. No likey!

2. Lower your repetition capacity. It's time to scale the workout. Your not going to want to do 100 strict push ups with baby triceps. Let's take it slow and work our way back up. 

The Form
- Start in the plank position. 
-keep a strong core and elbows tucked
-Lower yourself to just above the floor. Thighs or chest may touch, but don't flop down there!
-Practice holding the plank in an active position with chest and thighs on the floor. Work up to 10 seconds

The Push
-When you are holding close to the floor, keep your core tight and glutes squished (prison defense here folks)
-Work to push back to the plank position with elbows tucked and tight core

Like the pictures? My 7 year old was helping me today...

If You Can't Do That Yet
-Use the "Snake up"

-Snake your body back to plank by pushing up with upper body leading and legs trailing. It may not be pretty but it keeps the knees off the floor and core stays active.

What Will This Feel Like?
-You will notice your triceps are burning...this means you are using them. GOOD!
-You will feel soreness in your core and glutes too. Good! These are also being used. Awesome.

What it should not feel like
-Pain/ Injury in the front of the shoulder? No! that's bad. Keep your hands under the shoulders, don't place them too wide
-Lower back pain? No! Yuck, that stinks. Save yourself and keep your core active and tight

Continue To Progress
In addition to your regular workouts, practice perfecting your form weekly. Use a 5x5 strength set 3-4 times a week with plenty of stretching and rest in between mini workouts. This simply means, do 5 correct push ups in 5 different sets 3-4 times a week.

In as little as two weeks you will notice your strength increase and your arms feel stronger. Using correct form will keep you strong and save your joints for many years of functional fun.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Training Break And Daydream Adventures

I'm taking four days off. I just have to. I hurt. Really hurt...all the time. I'm doing yoga and mobility daily. I MetCon 4-5 times a week and can usually maintain at that level. But. Since the open my hips just don't feel right. I shift constantly and have stiffness in my lower back. My copy of the Supple Leopard is a wonderful resource to get things on track however...I just need to heal!

Rest is so underrated. I tend to get a little panicky and grumpy when I don't work out daily. I know it is essential for my training and I have been in a process of failure to thrive for a few weeks. I just want to get things back on track. One of my biggest fears is waking up one day and not being able to do what I was able to the day before. As I am sitting here writing, I am also daydreaming of all the adventures I want this summer.

I plan on doing a ton of time at the river. The kids are getting really good at the rope swing.
 The kids play clubhouse on the shore and skip rocks across the surface. Garner State Park is only a few miles from our house so we feel really lucky to have such a beautiful part of Texas so close!

 The current is mild and my little one loves to stack river rocks to make islands in the stream. No, she does not sing the song as she goes. But she should I think!

In addition to river time, we plan to go to the Gulf Coast to explore the sand and surf. In June we are heading to Colorado to visit family and for a few training opportunities. The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO is one of my favorite places. I am so lucky to be attending the USA Weightlifting Coaching Level 1 Certification. I will also be attending the CrossFit Kids Certification at CrossFit Verve in Denver! If you don't know, that is the gym co-owned by Matt and Cherie Chan, some of the best athletes in the world and all around super awesome people.

While in Colorado, we stay as active as possible. We water ski, hike the Incline ,
Go fishing in Leadville, CO, four-wheel exploring, and trail run. I try to volunteer at a few races too. Last year I was lucky enough to work the finish at the Garden of the Gods 10 miler, one of the prerequisites for the Pikes Peak Accent and Marathon.
Summer is so close! It is this time of year I forget how hot it gets and wish for all the fun activities to come. I just hope I can get myself back in the saddle to enjoy being active in the real world with real world adventure. Getting out of the gym to try new things are revisit the things I love to do in warm weather is exactly why being so consistent in the gym is important to me.
So, here I go, trying to rest and rehab till Monday. I MAY do a water workout on Saturday because...Its an adventure!
What are your plans for adventure this summer?