Author Archives: Steph

CrossFit Open 15.1 Nutrition Strategy

CrossFit Open 15.1 Nutrition Strategy

If you’re participating in the Open, I’ve written a CrossFit Open 15.1 nutrition strategy for you!

It’s safe to say that eating well in the days, weeks and months leading up to the Open is the biggest way to set up a strong foundation for your best performance, but there are definitely some key pieces to think about based on what 15.1 is throwing your way.

If you’re doing The Open, the workout for the first week is:

15.1

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:

15 toes-to-bars
10 deadlifts (115 / 75 lb.)
5 snatches (115 / 75 lb.)

15.1a

1-rep-max clean and jerk
6-minute time cap

This classic metcon rolls straight into a max-effort clean and jerk which presents some unique challenges for fueling.

I competed in The Open three times and made it to Regionals in 2013, so you could say I’m pretty familiar with how to eat for these types of workouts.

Click here for full detailed nutrition strategy for the CrossFit Open 15.1.

There’s still time to get in on my free meal plans for The Open, too! Click here to get yours.

And, if you need some inspiration for meals, check out my award-winning, newly released The Performance Paleo Cookbook or read up on the science behind it in my ebook The Paleo Athlete!

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CrossFit Open 15.1 Nutrition Strategy

 

Are you doing the Open this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Stupid-Easy Beekeeping: Part 1

Steph’s Note: Today’s post is from the lovely Diana Rodgers, author of the soon-to-be-released gorgeous book, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious, Gluten-Free, Farm-to-Table Recipes, and a Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Healthy Food. Diana pitched me the idea of raising bees, and my answer was a resounding yes. I’m a nature-lover at heart and this fits within the confines of not having enough space to keep any other typical backyard critters. I’ll be updating you on my adventures as I go along! I’ve already purchased my hive components, ordered my bees, and taken some classes from local experts. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com

I love finding out that my Paleo friends are into homesteading-type hobbies, like that one time Steph mentioned on my Instagram feed that she really wanted to keep bees. You just never know who loves to get their hands dirty!

So when I included a chapter on beekeeping in my new book, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook, which is all about connecting with our food, I thought about Steph and wondered if she’d be interested in getting her very own colony and then telling me about her experiences.

I sent her a text and got an immediate and excited reply that yes, she was very, very interested. I sent her a digital copy of the book so she could read the chapter on beekeeping (the book lands at stores in March) and suggested she check out the San Diego Beekeepers Association, which has some great links to local beekeeping resources, including a beekeeping supply store right in San Diegolocal place to get a new colony of bees, and lots of online tutorials. How cool is that?!

I’m getting Steph all set up with a hive, bees, and all the gear so that she can have her very own backyard beehive. Not only is honey a delicious and healthy sweetener, but because of pesticides and mosquito spraying, bee populations across the country are in danger, and we need more beekeepers!

If you’d like to join Steph in becoming a backyard beekeeper, read on for an excerpt from The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook. Before you buy any bees or equipment, make sure you have any licenses your town requires, and chat with your neighbors first to tell them about your plans to keep bees. Check out the book for more on beekeeping, such as how to harvest honey and common issues beekeepers face.

Bees FAQs

How far do bees fly? Bees forage in a two- to three-mile radius from the hive.

How many hives should I get? Start with two. There will be losses every year, and having two increases the chance of at least one hive making it through the winter. Also, if one hive is low on honey, the second can help make up the deficiency.

How much honey will I get? You can get up to about 100 pounds of honey from one hive, not including what you need to leave for the bees, but in the first year it’s likely to be less.

How often do beekeepers get stung? Every hive has its own personality; some are more passive or aggressive than others. The hive’s aggressiveness also depends on the weather and the state of the hive. If a hive is healthy, it’s a sunny day, and the bees are busy foraging, then the beekeeper may not need any protection from stings at all.

Do bees really die after stinging someone? Yes, if a worker bee stings you, it will die shortly after. A queen bee may survive after stinging, but it’s extremely uncommon to be stung by a queen.

Ordering the Bees

There are several types of bees, all with different characteristics. If you’re new to beekeeping, I suggest starting with Italian, Carolina, or Russian bees. They are all gentle, productive, and hearty.

Just like chicks, bees arrive in the mail. (Steph’s note: I ordered some that I’m picking up locally.) Place your order in January so that you’ll have them by the time you’re ready to start the hive in the spring.

Your initial order of bees will be about 3 pounds, or 15,000 bees, which is just right for a new hive, and will come in a package that’s about the size of a large shoe box. Be sure to order a marked queen—the dot on her back will help you easily identify her when you check on your hive.

There are many online bee suppliers, but I’ve found that the best way to find one is to ask at your local bee club, which probably has a “new beekeeper” program. Let your post office know that you’re expecting a package of bees about a week before they’re due to arrive, and give them your phone number so that they can call you to pick them up. Make sure you have your hive fully put together before you get the call from the post office.

Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com

The Equipment

The most important piece of equipment, of course, is the hive. I suggest you start with the most common beehive, the ten-frame Langstroth, which sort of looks like a chest of drawers. You can put it together yourself or buy it preassembled. Look for the higher-quality wood versions instead of the ones made from plastic or other materials; they’re built better and will last longer.

Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com

A hive is made of the following parts:

  • Screened bottom board: The bottom board is the floor of the beehive. A screened bottom board, rather than a standard one, helps control mites: When the mites fall off the bees, they can’t crawl back up into the hive.
  • Deep hive bodies: Each contains ten frames of honeycomb. The lower deep is the nursery and the upper deep, which is added later, is the food chamber, where the bees store honey and pollen. Inside the hive bodies sit frames.
  • Frames: The bees build their comb onto the frames, which usually come with a sheet of beeswax foundation to help the bees build uniform honeycomb. Despite the name, beeswax foundation is also available in plastic. Bees are slow to accept a plastic foundation, though, so if you really want uniform comb, use natural beeswax instead. But bees will also create their own beautiful honeycomb without foundation, and the process supports a healthier, stronger hive, so consider buying frames without it.
  • Honey super: This looks like a shallower version of the deep hive bodies and is where the bees store surplus honey. You won’t need it at first; add it to the hive around the end of the second month. You can purchase medium or shallow supers, but keep their weight in mind: when full of honey, a medium super weighs about 50 pounds and a shallow super weighs about 40 pounds. As the bees produce more and more honey, you can add more and more supers to the hive, stacking them on top like Legos.
  • Inner cover: This cover sits directly on top of the super and has a ventilation notch on the front. It’s optional, but it can help insulate the hive.
  • Outer cover: This sits on the inner cover. It is often reinforced with galvanized steel, which protects it from the elements.

You’ll also need to have some other equipment on hand before your bees arrive:

  • Entrance reducer: This is placed between the bottom board and the lower hive body to limit movement in and out of the hive and control hive temperature and ventilation. It can also help bees defend against yellow jackets and robbing bees, since it reduces the size of the entrance. Use the entrance reducer in a new hive and during cold months, to keep the hive warm while allowing bees to come and go. Once the hive is established and when the weather is warm, you can remove it.
  • Queen excluder: Used only during the honey season, this keeps the queen from laying eggs in the honey super.
  • Hive-top feeder: This small box sits directly on top of the upper hive body, under the outer cover—no inner cover is used with a hive-top feeder. Adding sugar syrup to the feeder is an easy way to keep your bees fed. Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com
  • Smoker: Produces cool smoke that helps calm the bees, so it’s easier for you to inspect the hive.
  • Bee brush: It’s optional, but this can help you gently brush bees off the hive in order to access the frames. Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com
  • Hive tool: Use this tool to scrape beeswax off the hive and loosen the parts of the hive, so they’re easier to pry apart. Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com
  • Protective gear: At the minimum, you’ll need a veil and protective gloves. You won’t need the gloves early in the season, though; they’re primarily for honey harvesting, and without them it’s easier to be gentle with the bees. Coveralls are optional and range in price and thickness. If you opt not to wear coveralls, make sure you wear light-colored clothing and tuck it in, so bees don’t crawl inside.

After you purchase your hive and equipment, you’ll need to know how to introduce the bees to their hive, how to check on the hive and what to look for, and how to feed the bees before they are producing their own honey—it’s all covered in The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook.

Even if you’re not in a position to raise your own bees right now, learning about them is fascinating. I’m so excited that Steph is on the path to becoming a beekeeper, and I can’t wait to hear about her experiences.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below!

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Stupid-Easy Beekeeping | stupideasypaleo.com

 

Photographs courtesy of Diana Rodgers.

 

Paleo Meal Plans

Fuel For The Open: Free Meal Plans | stupideasypaleo.com

If there’s one thing that readers have consistently asked me for, it’s paleo meal plans!

And for so long, I resisted writing them. It sort of freaks me out to tell someone exactly what to eat, when. My philosophy is to teach you how to do something so you don’t need me. (That’s why I wrote about how to write a meal plan in this post.)

As time’s gone on, the requests for paleo meal plans have continued to pour in. So, a few weeks ago, I set out to write some. I’ll be honest: It wasn’t easy. I fretted a lot over things like, “Is there too much chicken?!” and “What if this is too much food (or not enough)?”

In the end, though, I’m pretty proud of what I put together, and I think it’ll be a great kickstart for you if you’re looking for a bit more guidance and organization around meal planning.

Get your paleo meal plan by clicking here!

Paleo Meal Plan for The Open

This first meal plan is five weeks long, and I designed it to coincide with the CrossFit Open, the first round of competitions to eventually whittle down the best of the best athletes. From now until the end of The Open, you can snag this meal plan for free!

How is it specific to CrossFit? On the calendar I’ve inserted important dates—like when each new workout starts and when to submit your scores—as well as given you ideas for pre- and post-workout snacks and included carbs on a daily basis.

If you know anything about my nutrition philosophy, it’s that active people need carbohydrates, and veggies, starchy veggies and fruit are the most nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory sources. If you’re looking for a keto meal plan, this ain’t it.

If you’re not a CrossFitter, you can still use this plan. It’s balanced with protein, carbs, and fat. Also, it’s got a cool weekly structure of meal prepping on the weekend, followed by rolling your leftovers forward. That’s a must for anyone who’s just busy and wants to eat well.

The recipes in this first meal plan are a mixture from my extensive Recipe Index (complete with hyperlinks) and from my new cookbook, The Performance Paleo CookbookSo while there’s no charge for the plan itself, you’ll need a copy of the book to follow the meal plan as written.

(Just in case you need a bit of an arm twist, the cookbook is endorsed by multiple NYT best-selling authors, won a Paleo Magazine Best of 2014 Award for most anticipated new cookbook, and has been praised by everyone from active families to Beach Body followers to CrossFit competitors.)

I know it can be hard to wrap your brain around doing this healthier eating thing, so these meal plans are my nod to you. In the future, I’ll be adding more paleo meal plans so keep your eyes peeled!

Here’s a peek…

Fuel For The Open: Free Meal Plans | stupideasypaleo.com Fuel For The Open: Free Meal Plans | stupideasypaleo.com

Get your paleo meal plan by clicking here!

Some FAQ About The Paleo Meal Plan for The Open

Are they free?

As a way to roll these out and make tweaks based on feedback (that’s called beta), this first meal plan for The Open is free until March 29, 2015. After that, meal plans will be available for a small fee. If you like free stuff, snag this one today!

Is it a PDF? How will I get my meal plan?

Each week for five weeks, a new weekly plan is sent right to your inbox and click to come here to the site where the PDF is hosted. From there you can save it. Why am I not giving them all at once? To prevent overwhelm. You can only prep one week at a time anyway!

I want to share these paleo meal plans with my {coach, gym, family, friends, training partner}, so can I just forward them? 

I’m asking for your honest help in having everyone sign up for his / her own. That way, I can track how many folks sign up and get their feedback. If people like them, that’s awesome! Just give them this link and ask them to sign up for their own here (http://stupideasypaleo.com/fuel-open-5-weeks-free-meal-plans/) so I have a good head count. Gracias!

What’s in each plan?

Sunday starts out with a big weekly cook-up. For best results I recommend shopping on Saturday and planning to cook Sunday. You’ll need anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, on average, to prep the food on Sunday. This will net you meals to eat throughout the beginning of the week. Then, there’s a smaller mini cook-up midway through the week to top you up until the weekend.

You’ll see recipes from the Recipe Index here on the blog. Those are hyperlinked right to the recipe! If you’d like, there’s a Print feature on each recipe. Just be sure to hover over and delete anything you don’t want to print, like pictures or comments.

Other recipes come from the cookbook. Those pages are listed for easy navigation. In the future, meal plans may only have recipes from my site, so if you don’t want the cookbook (I’ll try to not be too hurt ;)), hold out for one of those.

Are there shopping lists?

No shopping lists. I know some of you buy in bulk or buy meat from a cow / pig-share or the farmer’s market. You’ll need to sit down and do your shopping lists. At the same time, you’ll be familiarizing yourself with the week.

What if I’m allergic to certain ingredients or I friggin’ hate broccoli?

Food tolerances and preferences are sooooooo diverse. There’s no way possible for me to write a meal plan for everyone that will please everyone. (If I could do that, I’d be sitting on a tropical island sipping frozen drinks long into old age!) If there’s a food you can’t or won’t eat, sub it out. If you’re really stuck and have no clue what to do, send me a little note via the contact form, and I’ll help you.

What if I have really really super duper extra special specific nutritional needs? 

You’ll probably need to hire someone to write meal plans that are specifically tailored to you. These are general paleo meal plans that will work for a broad range of active people, but they’re not personally tailored. That stuff usually costs $100 to $300 a month.

Get your paleo meal plan by clicking here!

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Fuel For The Open: Free Meal Plans | stupideasypaleo.com

Performance Paleo Cookbook | stupideasypaleo.com

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

This Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo recipe is super-satisfying and easy side dish that will compliment any protein.

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

Recently, my pals at Pure Indian Foods sent me some of their new spices to try, and the bottle of Organic Vindaloo Curry Seasoning really stood out in my mind. I’ve also got a few plans for the Organic Tandoori Masala Seasoning coming up soon!

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

I rummaged around the fridge—as one often does when trying to make dinner—and found a head of cauliflower, an onion and some leftover roasted sweet potato to put together. Diced tomatoes, chicken broth and full-fat coconut milk rounded out the pantry goods. (I always have those on hand so recipes like this can happen in a flash.)

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

The result was tender cauliflower perfectly seasoned with the warm spices from the curry, a touch of sweet from the potato, a little acid from the tomatoes, and creaminess from the coconut.

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

This dish feeds four as a side (or as a main for vegetarian friends if you use veggie stock instead of chicken), but if you toss in some cooked diced chicken or canned wild salmon, you’ve got a hearty and satisfying meal that takes one pot from start to finish.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: Serves 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ghee
  • 2 to 3 tsp curry vindaloo seasoning*
  • ½ medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4-5 cups)
  • ½ cup(118 mL) canned diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup (118 mL) chicken broth
  • ¼ cup (59 mL) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 medium sweet potato, roasted, peeled and diced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Handful cilantro for garnish, optional

Instructions
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds to release the oils in the spices. Stir.
  2. Add onion and garlic, cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to turn translucent.
  3. Now add the cauliflower. Turn up the heat to medium-high, cook and stir for about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss in the tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on and cook the veggies for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender.
  5. Remove the lid and stir in the coconut milk and roasted sweet potato until everything is warmed through.
  6. Adjust the seasoning levels with sea salt and more curry powder if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

Notes
*Start with 2 teaspoon seasoning. Check flavor at the end. If it’s not spicy enough, add 1 more teaspoon, to taste.

 

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Cauliflower Sweet Potato Curry Vindaloo Recipe: Paleo & Whole30 | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

Today I’m sharing with you the easiest tips for how to clean a cast iron skillet.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love my cast iron cookware. It’s versatile, cleans up easily, and goes from stovetop to oven seamlessly. There’s something magical about the delectably brown, seared crust you can get on a steak from a cast iron skillet. I don’t use it to cook everything, but it’s in regular rotation in my kitchen.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

Cast iron isn’t perfect though (for example, it tends to heat very unevenly), and figuring out how to clean a cast iron skillet can make even the most brave kitchen warriors a little uneasy. There’s definitely a list of dos and don’ts, but luckily you’ll master the basics quickly.

A well-seasoned cast iron skillet will act almost like a non-stick surface. It’s not going to be slippy-slidey like Teflon, but food should stick minimally and the pan should clean up with some warm water and a little scrub from the rough side of a sponge.

The more you use your cast iron and the more you pay attention to some very basic maintenance, the better it’ll do. If you skillet loses its seasoning because you’ve cleaned it with soap, it’s rusty, or food is just sticking a lot more than usual, it’s probably time to re-season it.

Lodge, known for its cast iron which is made the in the USA, has instructions for how to re-season cast iron on its site. I like to season my cast iron in the oven using Lodge’s instructions when I first get it home anyway.

If you’re looking to get started, I really love this 5-piece Lodge set and you can often find it on sale on Amazon, or check your local Target or Ace Hardware.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

[Note: Lately when I’ve shared photos of Lodge cast iron, I’ve gotten pushback because the company does use GMO soybean oil to season its skillets in-factory. Here’s how I look at it: Am I stoked they use it? Not terribly. But if I suggest buying from a company that doesn’t use soybean oil but the cookware is made overseas, I am scolded for not supporting Made in USA products. If I suggest Made in USA cookware, I’m scolded because of the soybean oil issue. My solution: If you buy Lodge and the soybean issue bothers you that much or there’s a soy allergy involved, remove the seasoning and re-do it with your oil of choice. Directions for that can be found on The Google. Even if you buy vintage cast iron from an antique or thrift shop, you don’t know what kind of oil was used in it before you, so you may want to re-season. Of course, you could always buy foreign-made if the soybean oil issue is that bothersome, but do you really know what oil was used by those manufacturers anyway? My opinion on it: Buy domestic, season it again when you get it home, and move on with your life. Don’t over-analyze to the point it makes you crazy.]

But what if you’re just wondering how to clean a cast iron skillet from normal use? Don’t be intimidated! Follow these steps.

1) Wipe out any excess fat.

2) Use warm / hot water and a dish brush or the rough side of a sponge to loosen any stuck on bits. Alternatively, you can deglaze your skillet if you’ve used it to cook meat that’s left brown bits (called fond) in the bottom and either use that liquid as the base of a sauce or just toss it out.

3) If you have really stubborn, stuck on bits, add a bit of kosher salt as a mild abrasive. You can use a mild soap, too, but be sure to follow step 4. If you use harsh soap, abrasives or the dishwasher, you’ll strip the pan of its seasoning.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

4) Immediately wipe your pan dry to prevent rusting, and add a small amount of oil to preserve the seasoning. The more saturated the fat—think coconut oil or lard—the less likely it’ll be to oxidize. It’ll be ready to go for the next time you want to use it.

How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

Click below to watch my video about how to clean a cast iron skillet!

That’s it! Now you know how to clean a cast iron skillet!

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How To Clean a Cast Iron Skillet | stupideasypaleo.com

Here’s How Self-Talk Can Kill Your Mojo

Here's How Self-Talk Can Kill Your Mojo | stupideasypaleo.com

The power of words can’t be denied.

Whether you speak, write, or think them, they can motivate you to new heights or make you feel like the biggest loser on the planet.

And yes, actions can speak pretty loudly, but when you’ve got all sorts of crazy self-talk rattling around in your brain, it can kill your mojo faster than a New York minute.

I’m talking the chatter in your head about everything from what you eat (pretty relevant since you’re reading this on a food blog) to how you look to the thoughts that cross your own mind on the daily.

“I should really stop eating so much crap.”

“I should really tone up these flabby triceps.”

“I should really stop being so short with my sister.”

I should, I should, I should. Or what’s even tougher: I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

And while, some of these things might be valid, it’s my argument that they way you think about them has a powerful influence on the outcome.

Even if nobody hears you ever utter this kind of negative self-talk, it’s killing your swerve. I mean, have you ever just wanted that voice in your head to shut up for just a minute?! (If you’re like me, then yes. Maybe several times a day.)

Example: I used to race bikes. Downhill bikes. Full face helmet, maximum throttle, adrenalin-pumping downhill bikes. Every time I went into a tricky, bouldery section and thought, “I’m gonna crash,” you know what happened right? I started focusing on all the things I wanted to avoid and…splat!

Thoughts became actions. And while actions are powerful, sometimes we’re blocking ourselves from the outcomes we want to see happen simply because of how we think. (Did that just reverberate in you a bit?)

Our words and thoughts manifest into actions.

Here’s another example: I came to a critical juncture when I wanted to leave my old job and concentrate on Stupid Easy Paleo full-time. I kept thinking, “Everyone will think I’m nuts to leave a secure job. What am I trying to prove? I’ll probably fail spectacularly, Hindenburg-style.”

For a long time, it prevented me from taking action on what I wanted: to do THIS. To teach about nutrition and make yummy recipes and reach out to you with the help you need when you need it.

Finally, someone very special I met through B-School, a coach-turned-friend Allegra, helped me get out of that feedback loop of “negative thoughts beget inaction” and smacked me silly. (Okay, that’s hyperbole. She helped me think it through and get back on track.)

And here I am.

If you’re like I was and want to figure out how to make your passion into a career but you’re feeling stuck, check out these absolutely-free training videos about B-School. I’m not kidding when I say that it gave me the tools to follow my dreams…and brought people like Allegra into my life.

(And if you’re struggling financially, there will be B-School scholarships available so sign up so you get details on that.)

So, my challenge for you today: Remember the power of words. Talk to yourself like you would a trusted friend. There’s a time for firmness, but always a need for kindness.

xo Steph

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Here's How Self-Talk Can Kill Your Mojo | stupideasypaleo.com

Tell me: What questions about mindset can I answer for you?

p.s. If you decide to sign up for B-School and do so through my site or links, I’m giving you an exclusive bonus package of mentoring and awesome goodies because I want you to succeed T H A T much. xo

p.p.s. I did B-School in 2013, and it changed my life. I believe in the program 1 billion percent and in what it can do for you. I’m a B-School affiliate partner, and may earn a referral fee if you sign up for the program using my links. See that chick at the top of the sidebar? That’s Marie. She created the program that so impacted me.

p.p.p.s. This is part two in a 3-part series about turning your passion into a career. Click here to read part one and here to read part two. While you may be here just for the recipes (totally cool!), there’s a chance you might have your own blog, want to be a nutritionist / health coach, have aspirations of owning your own personal training business, or just need some extra motivation in life. I’d love to connect with you more about that!

Swiss Chard Salad with Toasted Walnuts Recipe

Swiss Chard Salad with Toasted Walnuts Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

Swiss Chard Salad with Toasted Walnuts is another recipe I’m sharing with you from my award-winning cookbook, The Performance Paleo Cookbook

The cookbook’s been out for a little over a month and has garnered some very awesome support and praise from everyone from fitness and nutrition leaders to everyday warriors just like you!

I’m so thankful for your support! You can still get some great deals on The Performance Paleo Cookbook if you shop around online a little. (The best prices online seem to be on Amazon and Target.com…wink wink.)

From The Performance Paleo Cookbook

Toasty walnuts, lemon and herbs add flavor to this humble green

Chard is such a versatile leafy green, and it’s great served both raw and cooked. It’s particularly rich in vitamin A and lots of antioxidants. The warm walnut dressing wilts the chard just a bit when you pour it over the greens.

If you’re going to prep the salad ahead of time, warm the dressing back up before you add it to the chard. Can’t find chard? Spinach will work just fine!

Swiss Chard Salad with Toasted Walnuts Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: Serves 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 medium shallot (2 oz [57 g]), finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) avocado oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups (170 g) walnut halves
  • 1 medium bunch Swiss chard (9 oz [255 g]), sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar

Instructions
  1. In a medium skillet over low heat, combine the shallot, garlic, rosemary, avocado oil, salt and pepper. Cook and stir, about 3 minutes, until the shallots turn translucent and soften. Add the nuts, cooking and stirring on low heat until they’re evenly toasted and lightly browned. Turn off the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the Swiss chard with the lemon juice and vinegar. Pour the walnut mixture over the chard and toss well to combine.

Notes
TOTAL RECIPE MACRONUTRIENTS (IN GRAMS PER SERVING)

PROTEIN 11G

FAT 31G

TOTAL CARB 7G

NET CARB 5G

 

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Swiss Chard Salad with Toasted Walnuts Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s your favorite recipe so far from The Performance Paleo Cookbook?

Performance Paleo Cookbook Giveaway

Performance Paleo Giveaway | stupideasypaleo.com

Congrats to Nichol G. of California for winning the giveaway! Thank you to everyone who entered!

I’m supercrazypants excited about this enormous giveaway to celebrate the release of The Performance Paleo Cookbook, and I want you to enter!

I’ve partnered with my favorite brands—the things I personally use, love, and trust—to create one amazing prize package. Since The Performance Paleo Cookbook came out last month, it’s won a Paleo Magazine Award, has been sitting in the #1 spot on Amazon’s Paleo Hot New Releases list, and has been über-loved all across social media. Thank you for all your incredible support!

There’s over $1500 of amazing stuff up for grabs:

Total prize value: Well over $1500!!

How to Enter*

Use the widget below to enter. The more companies you follow, the more times you’re entered.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To help spread the word, pin this image on Pinterest and share it on Instagram! (Those aren’t official ways to enter but it’s always nice to share the word!)

The contest ends 11:59 pm PST on Friday, February 13, 2015.

In the comments, tell me which product or prize you’re most looking forward to trying!

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Performance Paleo Giveaway | stupideasypaleo.com

*The winner will be announced within 24 hours here and via email. You have 24 hours to reply to my email with your full name, shipping address and phone number. If that winner does not reply in 24 hours, a new winner will be selected. Then, your shipping info will be forwarded to the brands involved in the giveaway, and they will each fulfill their listed prize. Open to US residents only.

How To Fall Asleep Faster: 5 Simple Tips

How to Fall Asleep Faster: 5 Natural Tips | stupideasypaleo.com

Wouldn’t it be nice to fall asleep faster?

There’s nothing worse than lying in bed trying so hard to fall asleep but not being able to. Then, the worrying about not being able to fall asleep kicks in, and before you know it, it’s been an hour.

You know you need enough sleep, but sometimes, it’s as elusive as a rainbow-maned unicorn with glittered wings. (And if you’re unconvinced that sleep matters—a whole heck of a lot—click here to hear why lack of sleep is America’s biggest problem. It’s a TEDx talk straight from the mouth of Paleo’s foremost expert on the topic, Dr. Kirk Parsley.)

If you struggle to get to sleep, you’re hardly alone. It’s estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. (source) That’s a pretty sobering statistic, considering that for many people, lack of shut-eye is a completely fixable problem.

Before I went Paleo, my sleep habits weren’t great. I routinely got less than 6 hours in bed, ended the evening by falling asleep in front of the television, and slept in a room that had lots of ambient light.

The thing is, if you asked me if I was doing okay on 6 or less hours of sleep, I’d have sworn I was fine.

A Quick Look at the Science

A 2006 study comparing total sleep deprivation with sleep restriction concluded that the group that was chronically moderately sleep restricted—6 hours or 4 hours sleep a night—performed just as poorly on cognitive tests as subjects who stayed awake for 48 hours straight.

Even more telling, the group that got 6 hours of sleep thought they were doing okay, though their cognitive tests showed they weren’t. Even though you might “feel fine,” you’re likely impaired when it comes to tasks involving thinking, reasoning, problem solving and more.

Tweet: Chronically sleeping less than 6 hours is as bad as pulling an all-nighter.

I was also training hard on fewer than 6 hours of sleep, which was hurting my physical performance, too. Click here to read more about trading sleep for training time, and listen to Dr. Parsley explain how sleep affects performance.

Somewhere between 7 to 8.5 hours of sleep is best depending on the person. I shoot for at least 8, and I’ve made significant improvements to my sleep—falling asleep fast, staying asleep all night, and waking feeling refreshed—using these natural tips I’m about to share with you.

Five Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Faster

1) Develop a routine around sleep.

We create bedtime routines for children, but for some reason, we tend to shun them as adults. By following the same patterns of behaviors around bedtime, you’re training yourself that it’s time to actually wind down and sleep.

What does this look like? It’s totally up to you but make it a low-stress, relaxing routine. Maybe you read for a while, then set out your work clothes for the next day, take a shower and brush your teeth. The point is to build repetition so you know that at the end of the routine, it’s time to sleep.

Another component of this routine is going to sleep and waking at roughly the same time. Erratic bedtimes make it hard to train your body and brain so you can fall asleep faster.

This works for kids of all ages.

2) Consider using magnesium before bed.

Magnesium is a vital mineral implicated in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body and is important for muscle function, electrolyte balance, cellular energy production and more. Also, it helps with a feeling of relaxation, and is great to take before bedtime.

Paleo-friendly dietary sources rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, sea vegetables and nuts. Interestingly, some minerals such as calcium compete with magnesium for absorption, so if you’re taking it internally, avoid calcium-rich foods at the same time. Many of us, particularly if we’re physically active, still struggle to get enough magnesium from diet alone.

There are several popular and safe ways to use magnesium, among them Epsom salt baths, topical magnesium oil and supplements such as PurePharma M3 (use code SEPALEO to save 10%) and Natural Calm.

The types of magnesium in each are slightly different. PurePharma M3 contains magnesium taurinate and gluconate while Natural Calm has magnesium citrate. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate.

I personally find magnesium citrate to be harsher on my digestive system. (It causes the colon to retain water and too much causes diarrhea.) Experimentation has told me that I tolerate magnesium gluconate much better.

It’s best to take your magnesium about 30 minutes before bedtime. It’s part of my routine to take my magnesium before I brush my teeth.

3) Use lavender oil.

Lavender is renowned for its ability to calm and relax the body, and it makes a great addition to your bedtime routine to help you fall asleep faster. Here are some ways to use lavender oil for better sleep:

  • Add lavender to your Epsom salt bath.
  • Mix a few drops in a spray bottle with water and mist your sheets and bedding.
  • Put a drop or two on your temples or on the bottoms of your feet.
  • Diffuse lavender oil while you sleep.

Lavender is one of the essential oils that’s safe to use neat (undiluted) but as always, check for skin sensitivities before using on large areas.

4) Avoid nighttime blue light.

This. Is. Huge.

Nighttime exposure to light, particularly the blue wavelengths that mimic sunlight, is incredibly disruptive to melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping to put us to sleep—and keep us asleep. Unfortunately, the backlit electronic devices that are so prevalent in our modern world are oozing with blue light.

Tweet: Staring at your phone while lying in bed is not helping your sleep problems.

Televisions, computers, tablets and phones are always close by, and they’re negatively impacting our collective sleep. Yes, daytime exposure to blue wavelengths is important because it helps maintain the “awake” part of our circadian rhythms. However, reducing or avoiding blue light once the sun goes down is one key to falling asleep faster.

Here are some things you can do to cut down on the amount of nighttime blue light your eyes get:

  • Install the free program f.lux on your computer. It dims your screen and turns it yellow / orange as dusk turns to darkness outside. It’s not available on most phones—and certainly not on your television—so if you can’t avoid those screens 100%, there’s another option…
  • Wear amber glasses / blublockers. They may look nerdy, but these orange-lens glasses function to block much of the blue light coming from your screens. At $10 a pair for the generic kind, that’s a pretty inexpensive solution to help you fall asleep faster.
  • Eliminate light sources in your bedroom, such as digital alarm clocks, electronic devices with glowing power lights, and ambient light coming through your windows. Blackout curtains are a must.
  • Use salt lamps for soft light sources that don’t throw blue light and aren’t as dangerous as candles.

5) Reduce stress, especially in the evening.

Okay, it’s hard to 100% eliminate stress from you life. I get that. But nighttime stress can make it particularly hard to fall asleep because of the effects of cortisol.

Cortisol, a stress hormone, is also associated with a normally functioning circadian rhythm; it ramps up as morning approaches and peaks in the mid-morning, helping us wake up. When cortisol rises at night, though, it can make us feel too alert to be able to wind down.

Psychological stress is the type we often think of, but physical stress—especially from evening training sessions—can also make it difficult to fall asleep. If you train in the PM and are having trouble sleeping, you may want to reconsider your training schedule.

Some other ways to reduce evening stress:

  • Do some light stretching or yoga.
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation.
  • Avoid suspenseful / physiologically thrilling books and programs.
  • Disengage from work emails, online message boards and social media if it’s likely to stress you out or spike your adrenalin.
  • Read a book or take a warm bath / shower.

Wrapping It Up…

A healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods is the best foundation for getting the hormones responsible for circadian rhythm and sleep in check. If you’re still struggling to fall asleep, try implementing the suggestions in this article before turning to pharmaceutical intervention.

Of course, there are several others things you can try to improve your sleep such as avoiding caffeine after noon time, eating a protein-rich breakfast, getting morning exposure to sunlight, and avoiding alcohol at night. If you continue to suffer from sleep issues, seek the help of a physician or health professional.

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How to Fall Asleep Faster: 5 Natural Tips | stupideasypaleo.com

Which of these sleep tips have you tried? Or, do you have a tip for falling asleep faster that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe

Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

One of my favorite go-to lunches is this Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad. It sounds complicated, but it comes together in a flash with fresh chopped veggies, canned tuna, and a ridiculously simple (and flavorful) lemon tahini dressing. What’s tahini? It’s basically sesame seed butter!

If you’re in the market for a no cook Paleo meal, this is it. It’ll transport well and stay fresh until lunch if you’re preparing it the night before or the morning of. I buy tuna without additives and stick to higher quality albacore packed in water or its own juices. Try for BPA-free cans when you can find them.

Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

Instead of tuna, try salmon! Both are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and I you are adventurous enough to eat the type with bones, it’s another non-dairy way to get calcium. Use whatever chopped veggies or salad greens you like. In this photo, I used a mix of thinly sliced cabbage, carrots, cucumber, red onion and snap peas.

Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: Serves 1
 

Ingredients

Instructions
  1. Arrange the veggies on a plate.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Whisk until well combined. The dressing will be on the thicker side. If it’s really too thick, like a pasta, whisk in a bit of water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it thins a bit.
  3. Add the tuna to the dressing and mix gently until it’s well coated. If needed, add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spoon the tuna on top of the veggies.
  5. If you want to be fancy, serve with some Za’atar seasoning or a bit of preserved lemon.

 

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Paleo Lemon Tahini Tuna Salad Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s your favorite Paleo no cook lunch? Share it in the comments below!

Ch-ch-changes…To the Site

Stupid Easy Paleo Site Changes | stupideasypaleo.com

Wanted to update you about some of the changes you may have noticed happening here on the Stupid Easy Paleo site!

When you spend half a year writing and photographing a cookbook, things can get a little crazy in your online “room.” Dust bunnies accumulate under the bed and clothes pile up, but there’s no mom to scold you. Over the past few months, with so much going on, a lot of “virtual dust bunnies” started to pile up. I spent the time I did have posting new recipes and articles and not so much on maintaining the site.

But now, I’m cleaning house, doing some much needed organization, and implementing some improvements to make your Stupid Easy Paleo viewing experience as awesomeazing as possible.

Let me show you some of what’s new!

Home Page

Stupid Easy Paleo Site Changes | stupideasypaleo.com

1) You may have noticed the “new” logo is finally on the home page! Now, this awesome streamlined logo (created by Yes Design Shop) is front and center. Look for some more changes coming to the header soon.

2) The biggest change is probably to the menu. I realized there were too many things to choose from; quite the opposite of keeping it stupid-easy. Look for changes in the Books and About options, coming soon.

3) We’ve (by the way, when I say “we,” I mean my husband and I; he’s an Apple Genius by day, all-around website badass by night) continued to implement the new site fonts and colors. You’ll notice hyperlinks are now a cool cyan color…much easier on the eyes than red.

4) If you haven’t checked out the video trailer for The Performance Paleo Cookbook yet, it’s nestled at the top of the sidebar.

New to Paleo Page

Here, I got rid of the drop-down menu of Start Here and instead combined this great newbie information all on one page. Those logos are clickable (not here in this post though…they’re just screen captures) and will take you right to the pages with the resources you’re looking for.

Stupid Easy Paleo Site Changes | stupideasypaleo.com

Resources Page

I combined the old Articles menu choice into Resources for one consolidated list of informational posts, free guides and other goodies.

Stupid Easy Paleo Site Changes | stupideasypaleo.com

I combined the old Articles menu choice into Resources for one consolidated list of informational posts, free guides and other goodies.

Other Stuff

We’re working on improving several aspects of posts, such as getting all the recipes into the Easy Recipe format. This will help you print it more efficiently and make everything look uniform. With almost 400 recipes, you can imagine it’s taking a while to retrofit all the old content.

I want to quickly mention mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet displays. We’ve tested the design of this site on basically every browser that exists—even Opera!—and have worked to make it user-friendly for everyone. We’ve also run the site through cell phones, laptops and desktops to make sure everything displays correctly.

That being said, sometimes there are snafus we don’t know about. It’s the Internet after all, and weird stuff pops up that we didn’t anticipate. If you ever notice something not working, would you do me a favor? First, update your browser. If that doesn’t fix the problem, shoot me a message through the contact form, not on social media. Take a screenshot of the issue and when I reply, have it ready to attach. Our devices all display the site correctly so unless we can see the problem you’re seeing, it’s hard to know how to fix it…and we’re all about solutions. Thumbs up!

We’re also working on improving the Shop experience, too.

Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Shoot them over to me in the comments below!

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

The big game is fast approaching, and if you’re looking for some food inspiration, check out these 20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes!

Game day means two things: lots of cheering and the opportunity for tasty eats. Instead of combing the Internets, I’ve compiled a list of twenty of the best recipes to make for your Super Bowl celebration. From appetizers to dips to main course favorites, there’s something for everyone!

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fingers

These amazing little chicken fingers are “breaded” with crushed up pork rinds. I really love these because they’re made from clean ingredients. Serve with your favorite Paleo-friendly dipping sauce.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Jalapeño Lime Chicken Wings

Nothing says game day like wings, and these flavorful little dudes are perfect for nibbles. Make a double batch because these will go fast! This recipe comes with a dairy-free Ranch Dressing that’ll blow your mind.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Devils on Horseback from Nom Nom Paleo

If you’re looking for an appetizer that isn’t the same old boring bacon-wrapped dates, try Nom Nom Paleo’s Devils on Horseback. Prunes stuffed with macadamia nut “ricotta”, wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with balsamic…talk about flavor.

Roasted Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is a great alternative to traditional red salsas, and this one’s special because the veggies are charred slightly before they’re pureed. The result is a smoky flavor that pairs really well with plantain chips.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are great, but sweet potatoes that are roasted until the skin crisps, then drizzled with an herb-infused ghee are even better. Serve these with some Pork Chile Verde or Pomegranate Habanero Beef piled high on top.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Buffalo Chopped Chicken Salad from The Clothes Make the Girl

Mel Joulwan of Well Fed and Well Fed 2 is one of my go-to’s for simple but flavor-packed recipes. This chicken salad is so easy to assemble and will feed a crowd. A little bit spicy and super tasty.

Paleo Garlic Artichoke “Hummus” from Meatified

Dips are synonymous with Super Bowl parties, and this one has all the look and taste of hummus without the legumes. Serve this one with some plantain chips for maximum dipping satisfaction.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Baked Avocado Fries

These sound strange but trust me, they are so good. Take ripe but firm avocado wedges and “bread” them in seasoned crushed pork rinds. Bake until the outside is crunchy for a unique appetizer!

BLT Bites with Chipotle Mayo

Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato. A classic combination. Instead of relying on bread as the base, these little cups use bacon to hold the lettuce and tomato. Finish with a drizzle of Chipotle Mayo!

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Pork Chile Verde

Succulent, tender pork with a bit of tang from tomatillos and a little green chile spice is yours when you make this dish. Pile high on top of baked sweet potatoes and finish with some sliced avocado. Yum.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Chili Topped Parsnip Wedges from Meatified

Instead of chili fries, try this version with parsnip wedges from Rach at Meatified. The chili is beanless so it’s Paleo-friendly.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Shredded Chicken BLA Tacos from Paleo Cupboard

Bacon as the taco shell? Why not! Shredded chicken, lettuce and avocado make for a tantalizing game day snack.

Bacon-Wrapped Crab-Stuffed Prawns from Popular Paleo

Shrimp and crab gets all friendly with bacon in this appetizer from Ciarra at Popular Paleo. Make a batch of these for your Super Bowl party, and I bet there won’t be any leftover!

Paleo Guacamole from Paleo Cupboard

Guacamole is a classic party dip, and Amy from Paleo Cupboard delivers with this simple recipe. Try it on top of the Paleo Pork Chile Verde.

Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef | stupideasypaleo.com

Pomegranate Habanero Shredded Beef

Literally one of the simplest recipes that delivers enormous flavor and feeds a bit crowd, this shredded beef will be a hit with your football fans. It goes really well on top of baked potatoes, and it cooks itself. All you have to do is shred the meat at the end.

Paleo Slow Cooker Taco Soup from Popular Paleo

This satisfying soup is made in a slow cooker so you can set it and forget it until it’s time to eat. Serve with all the tasty accompaniments for a warming dish that’s sure to be a favorite.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Asian Meatballs from Nom Nom Paleo

Meatballs are a classic party food: All you need are some toothpicks and you’ve got perfect bite-sized nibbles perfect for everyone from little kids to adults. Serve these with your favorite dipping sauce.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Plantain Nachos from The Clothes Make the Girl

These are genius! I’ve made Mel Joulwan’s Plantain Nachos and they were super-satisfying: perfectly spiced ground beef, crunchy plantain chips and all the right toppings. Put these on your list!

Pineapple Bacon Poppers

Pineapple, bacon and mini peppers are so delicious together. These are really easy to assemble for a crowd ahead of time so you don’t have to spend the whole time in the kitchen.

20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Glazed Chicken Wings from Meatified

Looking for more wing recipes? This one’s got a simple fruit-based glaze. Finger lickin’!

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20 Paleo Super Bowl Recipes | stupideasypaleo.com

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

The first leg of the Performance Paleo Cookbook book tour wrapped up on Sunday, and it was an amazing experience! (Another cool thing: The cookbook was ranked in the Top 100 Adult Non-Fiction books during its first week!

Ciarra from Popular Paleo—she wrote The Frugal Paleo Cookbook—and I hit the road on January 8 for the first half of our tour. In all eight cities, we chatted about our books and how to use them, and met the most wonderful people. It was really a whirlwind: We had only a day (or less!) in each city, so there wasn’t much time to sightsee, though we did hit up a couple key spots along the way.

We also left signed copies of Performance Paleo and Frugal Paleo in each store we visited, so if you weren’t able to make it out to the events, you still may be able to snag an autographed one if you act fast. (Check below for specific store links / locations.)

The best part of the book tour was meeting you. So much of this job requires sitting behind a computer screen and chatting to you over social media. And while that keeps us connected, it’s nothing like seeing your faces and hearing your stories. Stories about how Paleo has fueled your sport; helped you reverse your diabetes; restored your weight to healthy levels; and given you a new lease on life.

I walked away from each event newly inspired by you. Thank you.

We started with an enthusiastic crowd in Seattle at the Barnes & Noble—Northgate.

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

We stopped next in Portland. Here, we got the star treatment with a fantastic Paleo dinner at Departure, and had a sold out, standing-room-only signing at the Cultured Caveman restaurant!

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

Next it was on to San Francisco for a signing at Book Passage in the Ferry Building, along with friends like Fat Face Skincare, ZenbellyLiving Loving Paleo and Yes Design Shop stopping by.

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

We rounded out our first weekend with a stop in Salt Lake City where we visited our friends Whole30 and signed books at the Barnes & Noble—Sugarhouse.

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

Whew!

On a side note, we had amazing support from some of our favorite companies to keep us fueled up and happy during our journey. We had snacks from Barefoot Provisions, Epic Bar and RxBar; handy fish oil and vitamin D packets from PurePharma; skincare solutions from Fat Face Skincare and essential oils from doTERRA. These are all brands we love, trust and personally use, so check them out!

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

I flew back to SoCal for a few days and Ciarra went back to the PacNW, then we regrouped in Texas for our second weekend.

We started in Dallas where we signed books at Barnes & Noble—Lincoln Park, then made our way to Austin.

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

No trip to ATX would be complete without a visit to our absolute favorite coffee spot, Picnik! A huge crowd greeted us at Barnes & Noble—Arboretum, and we had a quick dinner at 24 Diner with Fed+Fit. Super good!

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

The next day we flew to sunny Phoenix, where we got to meet everyone—including my girl Weed ‘Em & Reap—at the Barnes & Noble—Desert Ridge.

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

From there we traveled to my home city, San Diego. We had another sold out crowd at Barnes & Noble—Mira Mesa, and I finally got to see Paleo CupboardClean Eating With a Dirty Mind and meet friends like Da-Le Ranch and Just Love Your Guts in person for the first time. We rounded it out with a really special dinner at Sausage & Meat, complete with their Bacon Fat Deviled Eggs!

Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

If we didn’t come to your city yet, don’t fret. I’ll be hitting up Orange County, CA on my own soon. Ciarra and I will be back out on the road this spring in the Midwest and on the East Coast. We’re letting the weather get a bit better so we don’t miss any flights or potential connections. Stay tuned for dates! I’ll be posting them here on the blog and updating my Facebook page and Instagram as soon as I know more.

I can’t say it enough: Thank you for supporting this cookbook! It really means so much to me.

With love,

Steph

Which cities are you hoping we visit next? Leave them in the comments below!

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Performance Paleo Book Tour: Part 1 Recap | stupideasypaleo.com

Paleo Mango Jalapeño Dressing Recipe

Paleo Mango Jalapeño Dressing Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

I’m still rolling out teaser recipes from my new cookbook, The Performance Paleo Cookbook, and today it’s Paleo Mango Jalapeño Dressing.

I got quite the awesome surprise when I was told that my little cookbook was in the Top 100 of ALL non-fiction books last week. That’s so crazy! It wouldn’t be possible without your support. So to say thanks, here’s another recipe from the cookbook for you to enjoy. If you’ve enjoyed it, would you do me a huge favor and pop over to Amazon to leave a quick review? Even a sentence or two will be a big help!

If you’d like to see the others I’ve shared, click for Tender Asian-Marinated Flank Steak, Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Herb Ghee, and Smoked Salmon Egg Bake.

From The Performance Paleo Cookbook

Sweet, tangy and a little bit spicy

This dressing was a happy coincidence. When I was developing my Crunchy Slaw With Chicken (page 158), I wanted to add some sweet and spice. Instead of adding chopped mango and jalapeño, I threw it all into the blender and came up with this dressing. It’s surprisingly creamy, and you can customize the heat level by keeping more or less of the jalapeño seeds. It’s perfect for dipping chicken into or as a topping for fish tacos.

Creamy Mango Jalapeño Dressing: Performance Paleo Cookbook
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: Serves 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (92 g) mango, fresh or frozen
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 6 tbsp (90 mL) lime juice
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) light-tasting olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp fish sauce

Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Notes
If you add the entire jalapeño pepper—seeds and inner white membrane— the dressing will be medium to spicy.

TOTAL RECIPE MACRONUTRIENTS (IN GRAMS PER SERVING)

PROTEIN TRACE

FAT 7G

TOTAL CARB 10G

NET CARB 9G

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Paleo Mango Jalapeño Dressing Recipe | stupideasypaleo.com

What’s your favorite recipe from The Performance Paleo Cookbook so far?

Sore Muscles? Help is Here!

Sore muscles are pretty much a given if you’re athletic or training hard. I used to rely a lot on products like Tiger Balm (hello, people could smell me from a mile away!), but now I use essential oils for relieving minor aches and pains. As a weightlifter, it’s not unusual to be a bit sore after a workout, and the same was true when I was doing CrossFit or racing bikes.

Sore Muscles? Help is Here! | stupideasypaleo.com

Interested in learning more about how you can use essential oils for sore muscles? Keep reading!

Using Essential Oils for Sore Muscles

Knowing which essential oils work best and why is really important when it comes to caring for muscles. Peppermint, for example, not only gives a icy hot effect, it can increase circulation and oxygenation to the muscles. Peppermint has over twelve different active compounds, but it’s largest compound is menthol, which has been known to work as an analgesic as well as to increase circulation. (source) This is why peppermint works so well for muscle dysfunction including cramps, spasms, tension, or stiffness. Getting circulation in there fast can help relieve issues in the muscle tissue.

Synthetic menthol and other “peppermint” look-alikes will never be able to compete with real peppermint oil extracted directly from the plant with no other additives or synthetic materials. The twelve chemical constituents found in real peppermint oil work together in the body to fully metabolize. It’s the same as eating whole food. The nutrients, vitamins and minerals all work together to give your body what it needs. When in doubt, stick with what’s real.

Besides peppermint, there are quite a few other essential oils that can have a dramatic effect on muscles and joints. Thyme oil can “suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme, in a manner similar to resveratrol, the chemical linked with the health benefits of red wine.” (source) Thyme is a fantastic anti-inflammatory.

Marjoram stems from the mint family, but happens to have a special combination of chemical constituents that helps with pain, especially in muscles. Historically, marjoram was used to combat spasms, sprains, stiff joints, bruises, and rheumatism. It was also used before bedtime for peaceful sleep.

This is just a small window into the essential oils that can have positive effects on the body.

Other Essential Oils for Soreness

Muscle Overuse, Tension, or General Aches and Pains: 

  • Marjoram
  • Deep Blue blend (contains wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, blue tansy, German chamomile, helichrysum and osmanthus)
  • AromaTouch blend (contains basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, peppermint, and lavender)

Cartilage or Ligament Injury: 

  • Wintergreen
  • Marjoram
  • Lemongrass

Cramps / Spasms: 

  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Cypress
  • Basil

Muscle Fatigue: 

  • Marjoram
  • White Fir

Stiffness or Lactic Acid Build-Up: 

  • Deep Blue blend

How To Apply Them

Many essential oils can be rubbed directly on the skin without dilution, but it’s recommended to first mix with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil to avoid irritating the skin. Because essential oils are lipophilic in nature, they can mix well with a carrier oil and absorb fully into the skin. It’s always best to use only 1 to 3 drops per use of essential oil. The standard carrier oil to essential oil ratio is about 1 to 3 drops of an essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.

For a short time, I’m giving away free samples of Deep Blue blend. Click here to find out more!

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Food Photography Tips: Part 3

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

Welcome to Part 3 of my series on Food Photography Tips! (Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.) I’m on a mission to help beginners make their food photos look better, so we’re going to jump right in with some frequently asked questions. Part 4 will deal with basic editing techniques so stay tuned for that!

Food Photography Tips: FAQ 

Okay, I’m pretty new to all this, and I’m still kind of confused about how to use ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Help!

There’s nothing worse than having to guess at camera settings. Sure, even basic cameras have automatic settings, but when you can learn to adjust them yourself, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. The thing about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed is that they must all be pretty balanced to get the shot.

Yes, editing software such as Photoshop, Aperture, and Lightroom can all help manipulate the final image. However, getting the best shot you can with the camera—then using editing software to make any final tweaks—is not only the best way to really practice, it’s the most efficient way to work.

Let’s look more closely at the hat-trick of settings commonly called “shooting in manual”: ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

ISO

ISO is a measure of your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the easier it is to get a properly exposed shot as light gets dimmer. Now, before you go max out the ISO on your camera, consider this: Higher ISO is generally associated with grainer shots, sometimes called noise.

Full-frame cameras (like my Nikon D610) with larger sensors are the most forgiving at higher ISO setting. Simply put, more sensor area means your camera can make the most of limited light. Higher ISO is also great for lower light situations and vice versa. The catch is that higher ISO settings often mean slower shutter speeds which can make hand-holding tricky.

On the other hand, crop-frame cameras (like my Nikon D3200) have smaller sensors and are therefore less sensitive to light. What does that mean? Generally, you’ll have to shoot with a lower ISO, say 100 or 200. If that’s the case, you may have to work a little harder to make sure your images are properly exposed, such as choosing a slower shutter and using a tripod. Lower ISO settings are also good for bright outdoor shots or action.

Let’s see what adjusting the ISO does since a visual may make the point for you.

Here I shot the same basket of onions from the same location at the same time of day. Note what happens as I adjust the ISO. These are all shot with the same aperture (f / 2.2) and shutter speed (1/400). Also, you can tell I didn’t use a tripod because the camera angle changes slightly, but I wasn’t trying to be super precise.

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

Note that as the ISO doubles, the resulting in the photo getting twice as light. Higher ISO = more sensitive to light which works well in this indoor shoot. Now, could I have adjusted the shutter speed to get away with the photo on the far left (ISO 125) being properly exposed? Yes. I’d have to slow the shutter speed down from 1/400 to say, 1/40 or 1/50. I’d likely need a tripod since the long shutter speed is more likely to result in blur.

Here’s something interesting to note:

Using my photo editing software, I was able to auto- and manually correct the exposure to something that look acceptable. Again, I’d rather rely on the program to make minor tweaks or account for unfortunate lighting when I have no choice, not shoot using trial and error, then hope the software can fix it. But, you have to do what you have to do.

Aperture

In a nutshell, aperture (or f-stop) is how narrow or wide your lens opening is. Apertures come in a wide range and greatly affect the depth of field (or bokeh) a shot has. The best way to describe bokeh is that an object is in focus while the background of the shot is blurred…either a little or a lot.

Your options for aperture depend on the lens you’re using. For example, my old zoom lens had a range from f / 3.4 to f / 11. The Nifty Fifty lens I use most often starts at f / 1.8 and goes up from there. My 105mm macro lens starts at f / 3.

It can be confusing since the lower the aperture number the wider the lens, which means more light gets into the camera. Shooting on a low aperture is one way to make the most of lower light situations. It also results in more bokeh, which can be great for side-on shots but tricky for overhead shots where the objects are all different heights.

The higher the aperture number, the narrower the lens, resulting in less light entering the camera and less depth of field. There will be less depth of field and more of the frame will appear in focus. This works well for overhead shots, but in order to get proper exposure, the shutter speed generally has to slow down to make up for the smaller aperture letting less light into the camera. The solution is often to use a tripod for overhead shots with medium to high aperture numbers, especially if your conditions are a bit on the darker side.

These are all shot with the same ISO (1000) and shutter speed (1/400).

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

Be careful when using aperture. Using a very low aperture value can make it hard to focus on certain objects, especially round or cylindrical things like glasses. And too much bokeh can make it hard to tell what the food actually is!

Shutter Speed

The shutter is the handy dandy part of the camera that closes when you actually push the button to take the photo. Just like you can adjust ISO and aperture, you can also adjust shutter speed.

Shutter speed is generally displayed as a fraction like 1/10 or 1/400 or in whole numbers like 1″ or 2″. A fast shutter, such as 1/250, means the shutter takes 250th of a second to close. A slow shutter, like 1″, takes one second to close. Try playing around with just the shutter adjustment and actually listen. You can hear how fast or slow it closes.

These are are shot with the same ISO (1000) and aperture (f / 3.2). Notice how as the shutter speed slows, the images get brighter because more light hits the sensor. It also means the image is more subject as your hand moves. Using a tripod alleviates this problem quite a bit.

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

Generally, the darker the conditions, the slower the shutter needs to be to allow enough light into the camera to get the shot, and vice versa.

Lately, I’ve been shooting on aperature-priority mode, displayed as an A on your camera’s main adjustment wheel. This means I choose the aperture and the camera decides on the shutter speed.

Usually, I set the ISO ahead of time on that given day depending on the conditions or the job I’m doing. Then I pick the aperture I’d like to use and the camera figures out the shutter. In the image below, I had my ISO set to 1000, then picked f / 2.2 as the aperture. The camera chose a moderately fast shutter to accommodate for more light entering due to a wider aperture.

The image below is unretouched, and I think it’s a pretty good one in terms of overall balance: ISO 1000, f / 2.2, shutter 1/200.

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

 Do you use a tripod?

I have a tripod and use it about 20% of the time. I have a relatively small space to shoot in—on my dining room table or my couch—so a tripod usually gets in the way. I LOVE the freedom that hand-holding the camera gives me. Now, there are some benefits to tripods: It’s easier to create consistent shots in a series when you want to work at the same angle / position, and you’re less likely to end up with blurry shots or things that are out of focus.

If I’m working with low light—say, my aperture is on a more moderate setting and my shutter speed is slower…typically below 1/60 or so—I prefer the tripod because I don’t run as much risk of any hand movement blurring the image. Put another way, if low light forces me to run a slower shutter speed, I usually break out the tripod.

With all this taken under consideration, I tend to use a tripod if I absolutely have to, but I prefer to go without. A great tip is to hand-hold your camera to find the angle you want for a particular shot, then set up the tripod to duplicate it. (Bill Staley told me he’s been using that method lately, and it’s really smart.) Investing in a moderately priced tripod that will last is probably wise if you’re serious about improving your photography.

Here’s the tripod I have. It does pretty much everything I need it to, has many adjustments, and is lightweight.

What’s the difference between RAW and JPEG?

RAW and JPEG are two types of image formats that DSLRs can shoot in.

Think of RAW like a digital negative that’s not processed. It gives you, the “developer,” more options when you’re editing that image. RAW images are intended to capture the subject most closely to how it looks in real life. This all sounds great but just know that RAW files are very large and usually require some external storage device or they’ll fill up your hard drive. (You should be backing up to external- or cloud-based storage anyway, but it’s just something to note about RAW.)

JPEG is a common file format for images, but its downfall is that the image is compressed and doesn’t contain as much original data as a RAW file. Each time a JPEG is edited, the image quality degrades which is why it’s not really suitable for print projects. When you upload photos to a blog or social media site, there is usually some compression that occurs anyway. So, if you aren’t keen on printing, you can simplify the process a bit and work with smaller files if you shoot in JPEG.

Think of JPEG like making a photocopy. Each time you press the “copy” button, the resulting

When it comes to setting your camera to RAW or JPEG, it’s helpful to know what your goals are. If you have any inkling that your photographs will be used for print, you should probably be shooting in RAW.

Stay tuned for Part 4 where I’ll be teaching you some editing basics to take your photos from “meh” to “‘mazin”!

Questions about anything in this lesson? Leave them in the comments below!

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Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com

Food Photography Tips: Part 3 | stupideasypaleo.com