Paleo Banana Bread

I’m back!! A confession is an order right about now. I neglected my blog (sorry!)  for over a year to focus on cell biology and mechanical physics. Ugh gross. I know.  Anyhow, back to the blog.

Now that I’m back, I plan put it all out there; my whereabouts, rants, workouts, meals, cooking, experiments, gardening, things I love, things I hate, hikes, terrariums, food finds, pictures of puppies/kittens/goats/chickens, restaurant reviews, wine tastings, travels, love, hobbies, crafts, all this in no specific order 🙂

For this entry, I will tell you all about a recipe I recreated from PaleOMG. The Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread was just perfect for this lazy, sunny Sunday. I previously  hesitated on this recipe because of the baking component. These past few weeks here in Portland have been hotter than usual (scary, global warming kind of scary), so turning on the oven was just not an option. However, this past week, finally, the weather turned and there’s now a cooler breeze that waffles through the air making it possible to bake without the house being an inferno. For this one recipe I just happened to have ALL of the ingredients needed. Plus, the bananas I had were starting to brown, so I took that as a sign to start baking. This is definitely a treat since the macros are so high. But, nonetheless, since I know exactly what went into making this delicious treat, I would rather eat this all day long  vs a prepackaged alternative.

Here’s my review of this recipe.

The availability of ingredients: easy. If you eat mostly paleo and/or ‘healthy’ you will most likely have all the ingredients in hand. If by any chance you don’t have that specific brand of chocolate chips, I’m sure you can use any other dark chocolate chips brand. Heck, you can even break a dark chocolate bar into smaller pieces and use that instead.

Expense: $. The priciest ingredient in this recipe is the almond butter. You can, however, get a large jar at Costco for around 11.00. That jar will last you a good while. The only problem is that it isn’t organic, but what the hell, a little won’t hurt. The process: easy. I used a food processor for the mixing because I’m too lazy to mix it by hand. I also subbed the double-broiler for the microwave in  the chocolate melt part.

Technique: fairly easy. Unless, you like me, suck at swirling the chocolate. I also didn’t thoroughly read the instructions and only swirled the top of the bread, not the whole loaf pan. Another of ‘my bad’ was that I forgot to add the honey to the chocolate topping. Oops, it’s all good though.

Result: moist, rich, and delicious. I’m kind of glad I got overly excited and accidentally omitted the honey because the sweetness in it is just perfect. I’m thinking it’s because of the ripe bananas.

Macros: wait, before I tell you, I ask you not to judge; fit women (and men) need some good calories in their diets too.  Ladies don’t be afraid of high cals and fats! Oh and just FYI, I used MyFitnessPal to track the macros. This same recipe comes up on this app, but the macros are different than mine. This could be due to using different brands of ingredients and/or the serving size. I cut my loaf in 6. Serving size: 1 slice. Totals calories per slice: 218g, Protein: 13g, Carbs: 39g, Fat: 32g, Sugar: 19g, Fiber: 10g

Proof:

Gather all your ingredients

Gather all your ingredients before you start

The wet ingredients

The wet ingredients

my lame attempt at the swirl

my lame attempt at the swirl

beautiful

beautiful

 

Yum! Enjoyed my slice with Blue Lotus Star Anise Chai and cashew milk.

Yum! Enjoyed my slice with Blue Lotus Star Anise Chai and cashew milk.

My Pixie Haircut

So I did it! I cut my long hair into a pixie cut!

It has been a drastic change, but I must confess that I have been thinking about it for some time now and I’m so glad I did it.

Now that my hair is this short, I feel great. Contrary to what had been culturally instilled in me, I didn’t change who I am or how people see me. I’m freed.

I realized that I spent too much time and energy on my hair. With work, working out, cooking/food prepping, and my friends/family, I just didn’t have time to tame my hair every day, which I would anyway and it would stress me out. So much wasted time!

I feel even more self-confident and self-empowered with my short hair. I don’t need my hair to cover up or to hide me. I am my own person, with or without long hair.

Since my short hair has inspired me so much, I can only advise that no matter what you do, try to find that something that scares you a little and just do it! The feeling is like no other.

My long hair

My long hair. Yep, it’s in a ponytail, and it’s still very long.

Before the hair choppin'

A little nervous before the hair choppin’

Scissors are in

Scissors are in

Stylin' it

Stylin’ it

End result

End result

p.s. If you have over 10″ of beautiful hair and want to donate it like I did, please do so for Locks of Love.

 

 

 

Abs

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Let’s talk abs. Everyone wants them, but not everyone gets them….

The first thing most women tell me is that they only want to lose the fat in their midsection. That they don’t care about the rest of the body, it’s all good, as long as they have a flat stomach.

Everywhere you go, there’s great emphasis on sporting six-pack abs.  It’s like abs are a synonym to fitness. From magazines to infomercials, I can assure you there’s a good looking couple with rock hard abs promoting “30 minutes for chiseled abs” or “the magical electric ab belt” or some type of baloney of that sort.

It’s no wonder that when one thinks of  being in ‘shape’ or ‘fit,’ we automatically think of a statuesque person with a six-pack bulging from their midsection. But is that reality? Certainly not, at least not mine.

You might be asking yourselves how can someone who has a blog called “Confessions of a Fit Girl” possibly make such statement. Well I’m realist. That’s how.

I can tell you from personal experience, and from experience of many fitness competitors, that having abs is usually not an everyday thing. Although, most men are ‘blessed’ in that department, we women have a much harder time keeping that midsection trimmed and tight. But before I go on, let me break it to you, there is no such thing as “spot-reduction.” Meaning, you won’t lose the belly fat by doing ab crunches. Sorry!

Hang on for a moment; let’s think about this a little more. Do you really want abs? Is that something you personally desire? I’ve been told, by both men and women, that they think a full set of abs on a woman looks way too masculine. Others have said women with six-pack abs are very sexy (e.g. the woman from above). And some have shared their preference for a defined midsection-kind of an in-between….Seems like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

Abs are the product of strict clean eating, and for those freaks of nature, pure genetics. They are usually the last show up when dieting and the first to go away after a eating a heavy meal. Temperamental little things.

But, if having a six pack is something you really, really, want, I can only suggest clean eating for weeks on end. That means you won’t be eating cheat meals anymore. The reality is, the leaner you are the more prominent those abs are going to be. I wish I could say there was some magic pill or formula to get you that six pack abs, but there isn’t.

  1. Now to give those abs more definition, you have to work them. If you do a simple google search for ab workout, you’ll encounter a myriad of options. They’re all great. Just remember proper form-no excess extension of the neck when doing crunches/curl-ups! Research shows that because the abdominal fibers are mostly fast-twitch, you should try to overload them and do lower repetitions.
  2. Those abs won’t show up if you can’t manage your stress. “Oh shoot! Here’s another thing to stress about!” Reality is we live in a high-pressure world and the hormone, cortisol, thrives in this environment. Cortisol is released when you go through physical and mental stress, and it, unfortunately, shifts your body into “fat storing mode” right onto your belly area.
  3. You need fiber. I cannot stress enough the importance of this!  You need to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber a day to reduce intestinal inflammation and visceral fat. And by the way, visceral fat is the worst type of fat anyone can possibly have. Basically it’s the fat that wraps around your organs and heightens the risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Really nasty stuff!
  4. Train your whole body. “What? What they heck, I just want abs!” Let’s think about this, when perform squats, Olympic lifts, deadlifts, and chin-ups, you use your abs…and you use them hardcore! You need your abs to stabilize your body when doing these types of exercises. In fact, you can do heavier loads if you consciously tighten your abs when you perform, for example, a squat.

So now that you have some prominent abs…

Make sure to condition them with some sprints. My favorite is 6-8 sets of 400m all out with a 4 minute rest or you can do 6-8 sets of 200m with a 2 minute rest.

Now, here’s my opinion in all this…

I appreciate abs. I think they look amazing on both men and women alike. Do I have a set of six pack abs? No, not always. Is that something I strive for? No, not really.

To tell you the truth, I hardly ever work out my abs- I simply don’t have time for it. I have to rationalize my time effectively between my family, working, lifting, conditioning/cardio, cooking, packing meals, socializing etc.

Ab work=

nobodytime

I consider sprinting the best ab workout ever. Basically you get more bang for your buck! I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m a firm believer of this.  I also do a lot of compound lifts. I love deadlifting and squatting and I eat clean 80-90% of the time. That itself is enough to keep my tummy flat and tight, and in the morning I have indentions on the sides of my abs. I’m happy with that, I need no more.

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Reliving the ab days…

My Favorite Supplements

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Being a natural athlete requires eating the right kinds of foods and supplementing your body correctly. So here are some of the supplements I can’t live without…

Carlson Fish Oil- I take 1 teaspoon every morning with my breakfast. When I’ve had a cheat day, I’ll take an extra teaspoon before bed. Surprisingly, it tastes pretty good-you can even add it to your salads. Orange flavor is my favorite.

Zinc- My favorite has been Poliquin UberZinc and Carlson brand zinc. I take about 15-30mg each morning. Among many other benefits, having an adequate amount of zinc in you will improve your athletic performance, stabilize your mood and get rid of toxic waste from your body.

Fiber-Ah the wonders of fiber! Helps get rid of waste from your body making you feel oh so good!  I alternate every week between brands/types of fiber. Right now I’m taking 3 caps of NOW Foods Psyllium Fiber every morning and evening and  I like to alternate it with Garden of Life, Detoxifiber.

Magnesium-There are a ton of different types and brands out there, but be careful because some will do absolutely nothing beneficial to your body. In fact, some will give you diarrhea. My tried and true has been Source Naturals Ultra-Mag. I take it post-workout and/or before bedtime. Does wonders to relax your body after a workout and get you ready for bed. It also alleviates muscle cramps and muscle spasms and aids muscle contraction.

Vitamin D- I use NOW Foods, Vitamin D3 in 5000IU. Where to start with this one..ok, well you need vitamin d to help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, improve mood, prevent injuries, improve strength, oh and it has been shown that women that have adequate levels of Vitamin D have leaner children! I take 1 gel cap every morning with my breakfast.

Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder- I buy this stuff in bulk from TrueProtein.com. My favorite flavor is plain Cocoa powder with Stevia mixed in. It’s very bland, but then again, I rather have bland than having to drink a mixer cup full of unpronounceable chemicals. I take about 33g of this stuff post-workout only.

L-Glutamine- Here is something you might not know, your muscles are made up mostly of glutamine, an abundant amino-acid produced in your body. Supplementing with glutamine will aid in protein synthesis, help recover from muscle soreness, boost energy and increase levels of Human Growth Hormone. In other words, glutamaine helps increase muscle mass. Here’s more, glutamine helps reduce alcohol and sugar cravings! I’ve never, ever, gone without this stuff. I take about 1 teaspoon with my post-workout shake and when I have sugar cravings, I’ll drink a glass of water with 1 teaspoon of glutamine in it. Optimum Nutrition, unflavored is my favorite.

Glycine- It is too, an amino acid. I like glycine because it helps get rid of waste from working out and it elevates your immune system. It also calms your brain, therefore, helps you get good rest.

Other good stuff that I’ll cycle through:
Vitamin C- I take a tablet post-workout.
Organic Greens Powder-currently on it, I’ll take 1 scoop with my post-workout shake.
BCAAs
Biotin
Vitamin E

Workout hard, supplement right, eat clean and in no time, you’ll be rocking some hard core muscles!

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Disclaimer: This is stuff that has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. This is certainly not a treatment plan. Do your research, talk to your doctor and be smart about what you put into your body.