Toeing a line between excuse and reality

It’s been exactly one week since I started BFF’s plan. Well…I guess almost a week. Last Friday, I was super pumped up with some music I found on Spotify that I got home and decided to go for a run. Not the best run in the world, but a run nonetheless. And then Saturday was when the real ass-kicking began.

I have vigilantly weighed, measured, and tracked what has gone in my mouth, while continuing to exercise (and not increasing calories by whatever FitBit/MyFitnessPal told me I burned). Then my schedule was thus:

Saturday – 2-mile run with BFF

Sunday – 4(ish)-mile run with BFF

Monday – Couldn’t move, so rest day

Tuesday – Short morning strength session

Wednesday – Short morning strength session + evening Vinyasa (super challenging)

Thursday – Short morning strength session

Friday (today) – rest day + cheat meal

Friday is also my traditional weigh-in day. After all the effort put in this week, I was anxious to hop on the scale. I woke up, emptied out (ahem), and hopped on. And…

What…?

Up 0.6#.

I was both shocked and not at all surprised. I mean, what has been my pattern recently, anyway? Exert effort, body works doubletime to shut it off. What it FEELS like is that I’ve just messed around so long with diet and exercise that now just everything is out of whack and nothing wants to work. The level of frustration just exploded.

And then I had what is most likely my final WW coaching call (I ended up canceling/nonrenewing, effective next week). And while Coach LG was very nice and helpful, her reaction to the weight gain was more of “What could be happening?” than going for “What did you do wrong?”

Which is fine. Which is what they’re supposed to do. But I also feel like the “What could be happening?” question just kind of gives you something to blame the gain on that is not yourself.

For example, last week, I had a tough week and was up 1.5#. I was/am super constipated (TMI, sorry). Coach LG’s suggestion? Well, it’s clearly the constipation, and just keep doing what you’re doing.

Okay!

This week?

Well, you have been exercising a lot more than your body is used to. Your muscles are probably holding on to a lot of water right now. And it’s nearing that time of the month. And you’re still constipated. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’m sure this is a fluke.

Okay!

But I gotta wonder…does this method totally take all responsibility off me? This week, I tend to agree. I’ve been sore beyond belief and I’ve been drinking a ton of water. And my PMS is in full swing (sorry, The Boy). But if you gain and gain and gain…it can’t always be water weight or PMS.

Really, this method toes the line between reality and excuse.

What is reality?

Well…

  • Even double doses of magnesium isn’t helping my….daily rhythm.
  • My period’s due to start in about 4 days.
  • I have worked out hard 3/7 days, and done strength circuits 3/7 days.
  • I have craved salt.
  • I have tracked food, and stayed within budget, but of course can always measure more carefully.
  • This is the first week since March that I have eaten dinner every night.
  • I had four meals out this week: 2 dinners (Saturday + Sunday) and 2 lunches (Tuesday and Wednesday), plus some soft serve on Saturday, though tracked to the best of my ability.
  • I have not slept well on most nights.

And that’s the god-honest truth. What’s most important right now is being honest with myself. I have even sent nutrition screenshots to BFF to keep me on track.

I hope these are not excuses, and I hope that I AM being honest with myself. But who knows…maybe my muscles ARE being shocked and holding on to a crapton of water. We shall see.

In the mean time, I’m trying not to get wrapped up in fads. Facebook is hard. A few years ago everyone was preaching the virtues of intermittent fasting. And now–surprise, surprise–those same people are preaching the virtues of flexible dieting (i.e., If It Fits Your Macros). These sorts of people and philosophies make me SUPER uncomfortable and self-conscious. Like I’m doing something EXTREMELY wrong, and THIS IS THE ANSWER. I really don’t want to fall down that rabbit hole; while macros are important, I’m not interested in obsessively hitting each goal exactly.

The goal here is to live life, be healthy, look hot, and not obsess/encourage further eating disorders.

Triggers, man.

DK OUT.

PS, have a great and healthy weekend, all! ❤

Got beets? I’ve got slow-cooker borscht!

Borscht!
Borscht!

Um, yeah. Beets. I’m really not super into them.

I know. Almost everyone thinks I’m nuts. Is it one of those vegetables that everyone loves to hate, but actually really truly loves? Like brussels sprouts? I don’t know. I didn’t grow up with them, and their supersweet earthiness is just really weirdly offputting to me.

But the problem is, I keep getting beets in my CSA! So I’m trying to make the best of them. So far, I’ve made a beet-based veggie burger (pretty good!) and roasted beets (meh, but edible). But by far the best beet recipe I’ve tried my hand at has been borscht.

Another food I think gets a pretty bad rap. I mean, as if beets weren’t bad enough, beet SOUP?

The first time I had borscht was last year. It was my first time visiting my boyfriend in the city where he lived, and he took me to a little Ukrainian hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We had borscht for dinner, and it was smooth and sweet and earthy, and just deliciously creamy with some rich sour cream on top. I was pleasantly surprised.

So I’ve got a bunch of beets, we’re recovering from Snowpocalypse, and we’re in the midst of Olympics at Sochi? What better way to pay homage to this unique circumstance than some slow-cooker borscht? Because, you know, why stay home and watch a pot of food all day when you don’t have to?!

Look at the pretty vegetables!
Look at the pretty vegetables!

I’ve made a few slow-cooker soups, and I’m consistently re-convinced that the crock pot is best served using it for broths. It’s simply the best.

This was no exception. The bulk of the labor was simply prepping the ingredients. But then, you just throw everything in the slow cooker and let it sit!

We’ve got carrots, beets, potatoes, and beef. And no cabbage. So, you know, maybe you think that borscht isn’t borscht without the cabbage. In that case, this recipe ain’t for you. I’m more into it tasting good, first and foremost, and this does. Holy crap, does it ever! (Though, worth noting, The Boy has spent time in both Russia and Ukraine, and he tells me that this batch was, I quote, “Exactly as it should be.” Win!)

BIG bowl for meee!
BIG bowl for meee!

And, I gotta say, this is The Boy-approved! AND there’s another super-secret no-no ingredient: Mushrooms. He questioned it for a hot second, but I told him it was just a fatty piece of beef. MUAH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! So, if he likes it, your picky eater will like it, too. Feel good about making, eating, and sharing this recipe. Chock-full of seasonal, inexpensive ingredients. Lots of vegetables…how could it NOT be phenommmm?

Whole ingredients. Delicious. And inexpensive! Are you ready for slow-cooker borscht?

Okay. Without further ado….

Slow-Cooker Borscht

Mmm!
Mmm!

Ingredients

• 1.5 pounds stew beef
• 1.5 pounds beets, peeled and diced (about 1 bunch of beets)
• 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 sweet yellow onions
• 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
• 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
• 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
• Juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or honey/agave/brown sugar, etc.)
• 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed + more for serving
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
• 4 cups water
• Plain Greek yogurt for serving (optional)

Directions

Soak dried porcini mushrooms in hot water for about 15 minutes. Strain water into the slow cooker, and rough chop mushrooms. While mushrooms soak, prep vegetables. Put all ingredients, except for Greek yogurt, in slow cooker.

Set slow cooker to HIGH for about 4 hours, and then continue to cook on LOW for an additional 5 hours, or until vegetables are tender and stew beef is tender and cooked through.

Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and fresh dill weed. Add hot sauce if you like it spicy!

Makes approximately 20 cups of borscht, giving you at least 10 entree-sized servings. Paleo friendly (omit yogurt and potato, if desired), and A-OK for WW peeps doing Simple Start/Simply Filling!

Oh, and PS. We had SO MUCH left over!! Look at my lunches for the next week:

Gorgeous lunches every day this week!
Gorgeous lunches every day this week!

PPS! Did you know that there’s a donate button to your right? If you use it, funds will go directly toward a pressure canner, so I can CAN all of these leftovers and not worry about my itty-bitty freezer.

This one time I made Bacon Toffee; or, This week I gained 3.4 pounds

What kind of baconry is this?!
What kind of baconry is this?!

You guys ready for some massive oversharing? You ready to read your face off? Because this one’s a doozy.

Where do I begin?

So, last week, I reaped major benefits from my new nutrition regime. Recently, I’ve been doing carb-cycling lite. Essentially, that means that I switch high-/moderate-carb days with low-carb days. Every other day is like that. And it works really, really well, but it takes a lot of discipline. The idea is similar to the idea of Crossfit—maximize your benefits by confusing the crap out of your body. Doing this not only kicked me out of a plateau, but it also got me losing at a really satisfying pace.

Anyway, so last Thursday, I go to weigh-in, and I had once again dropped a satisfying amount, bringing me that much closer to my immediate goal. (Here’s where the oversharing comes in: Last week, I got within 2 pounds of being under 200 pounds for the first time in my adult life. Yup, now you know how much I weigh, and if you are sitting there judging me because of that number, go f yourself.) And because I had lost consistently over the last few weeks, my Daily Points Target (i.e., the number of Points I’m allowed to eat each day) lowered by one. Not a huge deal, but enough to notice.

Simultaneously, after three weeks of carb-cycling, I’m supposed to take what is called a “Slingshot” week, during which I eat high/moderate carbs every day, confusing my body further, before getting back on the alternating high- and low-carb days again. This was just perfect because Labor Day weekend was coming up, and I had a lot of fun things planned. (Do you see where this is going?)

I had already planned out my weekend. Sunday would be my cheat day, since I was going to Bacon Fest, and I was 100 percent ready and willing to eat my face off in the name of Pork Belly.

What I hadn’t considered was everything before and after Bacon Fest.

Immediately after weigh-in, knowing that it was a week full of carbs, I decided to kick it off the way any carb-loving lady would: with popcorn and ice cream (duh). The next day, I grabbed lunch with a friend; we had originally planned to go to New World, which I had pretracked a delicious, delicious salad, but the restaurant ended up being closed for lunch. Instead, she took me to the Fountain so she could get a burger. I’m generally pretty good about finding healthy things on menus, but for the life of me…there were NO vegetables on the menu at all! Not to mention the fact that I was hangry, hangry, hangry. So what do I do? Order a pizza, OBVIOUSLY! And then, what? Eat how much? I had a hard time stopping myself at about six pieces. Smallish pieces, but still. Really?!

Then there was Bacon Fest. And granted, as many of us in the area know already, Bacon Fest was pretty much a bust. It would have been a stupendous event, but vendors ran out of bacon by around noon, so I really honestly didn’t eat much there. And I was hanging out with friends, so later on, OF COURSE I’m going to share an appetizer of bone marrow, followed by some tasty, tasty jerk chicken, wine, and then beers around a fire pit. OBVIOUSLY.

And theeeen…and YES, there is ANOTHER then…there was the Labor Day barbecue. Which would have been fine, but…

…I had to bring something, right?…

…and my friend was already bringing a salad, so…

…I had bacon on my mind since I missed out on Bacon Fest…

…and I kinda-sorta…

…decided that making BACON TOFFEE would be a good idea………………………………………..

Yeah.

The recipe for those with strong wills is at the end of this post, but I pretty much immediately regretted this decision as soon as I tasted it.

Because, you see, it’s not a joke when people talk about how the combination of fat and sugar releases the same chemicals as crack in your brain. It’s…addicting.

Now granted, I’m not blaming my poor decision-making skills on some g-d kitchen wizardry or sugar and fat. But it would be a convenient scapegoat.

As soon as I tasted my concoction, I knew I had created a new trigger food. Because I couldn’t get enough of it. And I brought it to the barbecue, and nobody else could get enough of it, either. But unfortunately, there weren’t enough people AT the barbecue to make it immediately disappear. So what happens? I eat more of it, OF COURSE. I eat more of that, and I eat some ribs, and I eat some spider dogs (long story). Oh, and I also eat the salad and my sparkling water (‘cuz I am watching my waistline, after all). And overall, I have a fun time.

Well…next morning is Tuesday, and that’s when I decide it might be a good time to check myself. I hop on the scale, and I almost pass the f out at what I see. I told my leader/friend Jennifer that I had gained five pounds, but in actuality it was 5.8—I was just choosing to round down. She tells me it’s probably mostly salt, and I need to sweat and drink water. Check. I go and work out (and by the by, I never skipped a workout this entire cheat week), followed by walking a 5k (admittedly, stopping halfway for coffee…), and hope for the best. I eat super-duper clean the next two days, and I had definitively decided that I would go to my meeting, but skip weigh-in (OBVIOUSLY).

Then what happens? I wake up on Thursday, and decide to, as my dear bestie Jim would say, nut up, and just weigh in anyway. The bad news was, I gained weight. The good news was, it wasn’t as bad as my check-in on Tuesday morning. This time, the scale indicated I was up by 3.4 pounds. Slingshot week seemed to only slingshot me further away from my little goal, now putting me 5.4 pounds away from it. But I got the sticker, put it on my little weight tracker (yes, I have one), and had my Daily Points Target increased back to what it was the previous week. It was like a punch to my gut.

But I was thinking about it, and this extends far beyond CHEAT WEEK OF DOOOOOOOM, and it extends beyond the pattern of me being pissy every time my Daily Points Target is decreased (historically, every time it is decreased, the next week I gain weight, almost in defiance of the new number, like I’m not ready for it or something, and it’s almost always brought back up for another week or two). And it goes beyond me being irritated that I’m now below 85# net loss (marginally, but still).

This week’s meeting theme was “Believe.” And you know what? I’m not sure where it came from, but I started dropping truth bombs on that meeting, and I almost made myself and Jennifer cry (not because I was bitching anyone out, but because of what I had to say, I guess):

Here’s the thing…I believe I can lose this weight because I’ve already lost a lot. Yeah, that’s not necessarily indicative of the future, but it’s definitely indicative of what I’m capable of, and the fight I have inside of me. So it’s gotta be something else.

Several years ago, I saw a therapist for a few sessions. One of the things we talked about was how I was unhappy being fat, and how I didn’t know the first place to even start because I had so much to lose. We talked for a while about how I should just say no to office treats (this therapist proved to be not very helpful…), but she did ask me one question that’s sort of stuck with me throughout these years: Are you afraid to lose weight?

At the time, I thought to myself, What a seriously stupid and insensitive question. But if it was a stupid question, I wouldn’t still be thinking about it.

My weight, for me, has been used as a shield; it’s always been easiest for me to blame things on my fat.

I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m fat, and all guys like skinny girls. (Or, XXX guy doesn’t like me because I’m fat.)

I don’t like going shopping with friends because none of the clothes fit me, and I don’t want them to go into Lane Bryant with me.

Etc., etc., etc.

Right now, I’m getting to a point where I can’t really blame my fat for the shit that happens in my life. It’s forcing me to deal with things directly, instead of tragically triaging things. It’s requiring me to put on a brave face and pretend to be normal.

And you know what?

I’m fucking scared.

There, I said it.

At the beginning of this post, I said that I’m almost below 200 pounds. Well. Imagine if you had been fat your entire life. The kind of fat where, in grade school, the school uniforms wouldn’t fit me, so I had to get special permission from the principal to shop at a store with similar styles that would fit properly. The kind of fat where you’re given Disney or Nickelodeon workout videos as a kid. The kind of fat where, even at 12 years old, you didn’t want to wear a swimming suit because of the way you thought you looked in it. And the kind of fat where you’ve been over 200 pounds—a lot over 200 pounds—your entire adult life.

I want to put Brave Face on, but let’s be real: I’m scared to be under 200 pounds. I BELIEVE I can get there, but I’m scared to, because I have absolutely NO idea what’s to come after that.

A few years ago, I’d tell people, “Oh yeah, I need to lose weight, but I wouldn’t want to lose THAT much…I think I’d look healthiest as a size 16—12 minimum.”

Well…I’m not a 16 any more, and I’m fitting into 12’s easy peasy. And it’s not good enough.

I’m scared because I have no idea what I’m going to look like and how I’m going to change. I’m only now beginning to know who I am without the extra 85 pounds. Who will I be once I lose another 40? How will I deal with rejection? How will I deal with attention?

And that’s what I dropped on my meeting. I don’t know WHY I said all that stuff, because certainly most of the people there must have been freaked out by my TMI, but it felt right. And it felt good to sort of get it out. It was really emotional, and almost freeing in a way. However, this is still stuff I’m going to have to deal with.

I don’t have a warm-fluffy ending to this blog post, but my point is, I’m scared, and I’m allowed to be scared. What I’m not allowed to do, however, is to sabotage myself, consciously or unconsciously. So I guess that means no more Bacon Toffee….

Bacon Toffee (not for the slight of character)

Ingredients:

• 1 pound (or more) of bacon
• 2 cups butter
• 2 cups white sugar
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 2 cups chocolate chips (or, you know, an entire bag)

Directions:

Cook bacon until it’s crisp. Depending on how bacony you want this toffee, you might want to cook a pound and a half or two pounds. Once it’s cooked and drained, cut or break up into small pieces. Spread pieces of bacon out over a cookie sheet that’s covered in waxed paper.

Next, in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet, covering the delicious and crisp bacon. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted.

Place the cookie sheet and toffee in the fridge to set. This might take about 45 minutes to harden. Once it’s hardened, break into pieces, and try to control yourself.

For WW people, don’t even go here. It has a lot of points. Even if you make 32 servings.

Epic meal time

Epic IRISH meal time.
Epic IRISH meal time.

No, this post is NOT about the YouTube sensation. (Although I did recently introduce my sister to the series…and she was wildly entertained.)

That being said, if I’ve learned anything about myself over the last few months, it’s that I do fairly well when left to my own devices. As in, I think I’ve mastered the art of maintaining my weight—both tracking and not (think: Ireland)—although I’m about 40 pounds too soon from needing to maintain my weight.

And if I’ve learned anything about myself over the last few weeks, it’s that diet, while I don’t want to admit it, is 80% of my success, and the exercise component is 20%. So really, my continued success is a balance of the two, but what I put in my mouth really is seriously important.

I’m good about making good choices when I go out to eat. I’m spending the next six weeks with my family in Portland, and I’m not so worried about the temptations that come with happy hour (although they do make some mean craft cocktails over here!), but I’m still worried. Mostly because I stay with my family.

My family is very, very supportive of my life transformation. Hell, my mom has been trying to get me to change my ways my entire life. This is practically her dream come true!

But this does not change the fact that the things my family considers healthy are not necessarily the things that I consider healthy.

Case in point: My family has an entire drawer in the kitchen devoted to chips. It’s the easiest go-to if you’re looking for a snack. Today, it contained black bean Tostidos, kettle chips, pretzels, roasted seaweed (which they won’t eat anyway), sesame crackers, caramels, dried mangoes, and chocolates. The kitchen pantry contains a box of Honey Smacks, granola, and an array of hot cereals. The pantry downstairs has more chips and crackers, and to my horror, HUGE boxes of both Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cereals—my two favorites, obviously. Oh, and cookies and ice cream in the freezer.

You see, my apartment is a very controlled atmosphere. I don’t keep things in there that I “can’t” eat—and by “can’t,” I mean, “foods I really like, but know are not good to me or for me.” I always have LOTS of fresh vegetables and berries, lots of lean fish and chicken, almond milk, coconut butter, gluten-free hot cereals, and popcorn. I have a drawer of high-quality chocolate, and I treat ice cream the same way.

It’s SUPER difficult to be in an environment that makes picking on foods that will just cause me to be perpetually hungry and inflamed easy.

The other problem is, I’m at that place where I feel hungry often. I feel like this happens more at home, too. Yesterday, no matter what I did, I could not feel sated.

This has happened when I’m in Albany, but that generally occurs when (a) I’m exercising a lot, and (b) not eating the way I should.

Wednesday, it certainly was not from (a).

Here’s what happened:

I woke up EARLY (around 5:15 a.m.) and took our dog for a four-mile walk around the neighborhood.

When I got home, I was STARVING, and made a breakfast of seven egg whites (count ’em) and a bunch of cantaloupe. I polished off the cantaloupe and learned that I had also polished off all the fruit we had in the house.

About two hours later, I’m not just munchy, but I’m once again STARVING.

Unable to find any more fruit to snack on, I make some brown-rice farina hot cereal with frozen blueberries.

About 45 minutes later, I’m STARVING again. I make and eat some popcorn.

Then, I essentially try to bide my time until dinner.

At dinner, I use all the vegetables I can find in the house to fill myself up. I barbecued homemade turkey burgers stuffed with zucchini for volume. Guacamole, bacon, grilled onions, and lots of spinach.

A half hour later? I’m g-d STARVING. AGAIN!

I end my night with a latte and some freaking Honey Smacks, and I’m STILL hungry.

Epic meal time? You betcha!

I do NOT like days like this. I usually try to be a good judge of deciding when I’m hungry and when I’m bored. Today, I was both, but I was definitely hungry for much of it—which is very important to figure out.

In the days to come, it’s going to be important for me to not lose sight of my ultimate goals. Starving myself will also not be a solution. It’s going to be important for me to try to keep fresh fruit and vegetables in the house, and for me to fill up on those—not chips and cereals.

When do I feel best? When I’m eating healthy and have cut out most grains.

It’s not going to be impossible for me to stick to my eating plan while I’m in an uncomfortable food-vironment, but it will certainly pose a challenge. I hope that this will be just another peak that I can victoriously conquer….

[SWEET BABY JESUS!] Sweet Potato Brownies

Good God, YES.
Good God, YES.

Hi, my name is DK, and I’m a chocoholic.

There, I said it.

I mean, I’m a -holic in many ways. I’m a coffee-holic, a Crossfit-holic, a shopoholic, a workoholic, and a music-holic. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to WW/Crossfit in 2010 if I didn’t have food-holic tendencies in the first place.

But some things I’m not willing to give up. Chocolate is one of them. And once in a while, I tend to get cravings for cake, which is never easy, because you never want just a little bit, and it’s never very good for you, and it certainly is never “clean.”

So I just try to do without, often settling for a square or two of my über-fancy chocolates in my secret chocolate shelf in my fridge. (I can actually control myself if the chocolates are in the fridge, and I’ve stockpiled really nice chocolates for when I have a craving, so it’s really good chocolate I’m indulging in and not crappy Hershey’s or penny chocolates. We’re talking stuff from Belgium, the co-op, or Michel Cluizel chocolates.)

Fresh outta the pan.
Fresh outta the pan.

When I started dabbling in Paleo, I sampled many different kinds of baked chocolatey treats, and they were always delicious. But I often couldn’t handle it when I went to look at the recipes. Indeed, they were always Paleo, but most Paleo brownies have a base of nuts or nut butter, which is decidedly NOT Weight Watchers-friendly. (Which brings me to the times when people who were going strict would come up to me to say that they were gaining weight on Paleo, and then two seconds later tell me that they would polish off a jar of almonds every day.)

Anyway, anyway, when Amit sent me this recipe, I just about died. Brownies that were both Paleo AND Weight Watchers friendly? How could it be? Would someone just pinch me, please? Because surely this was a dream.

The base? Not nut butter!

Sweet potatoes.

Yup, you read it right. And damn, are they good. Just take another look:

Mmmmm!!!!
Mmmmm!!!!

Don’t you just want to take a bite of THAT?! I know I do! Good thing I keep these individually wrapped and in my freezer to prevent me from going to town on the entire batch.

These bad boys are cakey and chewy and chocolatey and seriously delicious. And after lots of generous taste-testing from my friends, EVERYONE who tried them LOVED them, never guessed that they were made with potatoes, AND none of these friends are on Paleo. So this is a great sneaky treat to bring to parties when you want a sweet, but don’t want to sacrifice your nutrition. The other great thing is that you won’t be using tons of ingredients, and most of this stuff you will probably already have in your kitchen. These are pretty much all-natural, and definitely all-delicious.

First thing’s first: Gather your ingredients.

Delicious and WHOLE? Yes, please!
Delicious and WHOLE? Yes, please!

Then bake your sweet potatoes.

Japanese sweet potatoes, all cooked!
Japanese sweet potatoes, all cooked!

I actually ended up using Japanese sweet potatoes, which are purple-skinned, and oh-so yummy. You can find them at your local co-op or health-food store. While you can use any type of sweet potato for this recipe, white or golden-fleshed varieties will hold your mixture together better; the typical orange variety tend to make the brownies mushy, but if mushy is what you like, then you should definitely try that.

Ready to puree!
Ready to puree!

Once your potatoes are baked, cooled, and peeled, stick them in your blender or food processor.

Mashed potatoes?
Mashed potatoes?

I found that my potatoes, while totally cooked, were still a bit firm for the blender, so I added the eggs for moisture, and then had no problem pureeing them until smooth.

Delicious chocolate!
Delicious chocolate!

The next step is to take your chocolate, cut it up,

Just about right!
Just about right!

and weigh out four ounces. Or maybe a hair more. Use any dark chocolate you wish. I didn’t want a brownie that was too bitter, so I used a high-quality 53% dark baking chocolate from the co-op. Next time, I might go darker. After trying this batch, I’m convinced they’d still be delicious.

Time to melt down!
Time to melt down!

Then, add some coconut oil and your chocolate to a double boiler. Stir constantly until the chocolate is completely melted.

Paleo brownie batter?!
Paleo brownie batter?!

By this time, my sweet potato puree was fairly firm, and adding the rest of the ingredients to the blender made it too thick to really run well. So I transferred everything to a bowl, and mixed up all the ingredients until it was nice and smooth.

Brownie batter!
Brownie batter!

Stick all the batter into a greased pan. Try not to eat all the batter before it’s cooked!

All baked.
All baked.

And bake until firm. Allow to cool a bit before cutting into 16 pieces.

Oh, and be sure to share! Because sharing is super nice!

Sweet Potato Brownies

Hello!
Hello!

Ingredients

• 2 medium, cooked sweet potatoes (white- or golden-fleshed variety)
• 4 ounces dark chocolate of your choice
• 1/4 cup honey
• 3 eggs
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon coconut flour
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

First, bake sweet potatoes and allow to cool. Peel them and puree in food processor or blender until they are smooth. If the potatoes are too firm, add eggs for moisture and continue to blend.

Once the potatoes are blended, melt the dark chocolate along with the coconut oil in a double boiler. You can also melt the two in the microwave, but to avoid burning, I recommend the double boiler.

Transfer potato mixture, chocolate, and the remainder of the ingredients to a mixing bowl, and mix until everything is well-blended and smooth.

Then, transfer the batter to a greased 8″x8″ or 6″x11″ baking dish. Bake at 325° for 35 to 40 minutes. Check for doneness by doing a toothpick test. If the toothpick does not come out clean, continue to bake in increments of 5 minutes before re-testing. (My batch took approximately 45 minutes to finish baking.)

Allow to cool a bit before cutting into them. Serve with fresh fruit!

Yields 12–16 servings.

For my WW peeps, this recipe will come out to be 4p+ for a batch of 12, or 3p+ for a batch of 16. Enjoy!

Honeyed Sweet Potato Fries

The most delicious thing you will put in your mouth today.
The most delicious thing you will put in your mouth today.

Last week, I decided to go strict Paleo to see if it might help me prepare for the Strongman competition. I fully admit that I have never been strict Paleo. I have incorporated many of its elements into my daily life,  but I will consistently eat products that contain dairy (I don’t drink milk anymore, but I do enjoy cheese, yogurt, and ice cream…) and one or two servings of grain per day (as in, one measured serving of whole-wheat pasta, an English muffin, couscous, or oatmeal).

I figured that going strict wouldn’t be too difficult. WRONG! The first few days were hell! All I wanted all day long was ice cream. Gross, right?

For a while, I’ve really gotten used to my nightly treat of low-fat ice cream with a single-serving brownie (and maybe some Reddi Whip…). I should not be admitting that. But judge lest….

So, needless to say, I needed to find a substitute, stat, and it needed to be good.

I found it!

And I might stay on Paleo a little while longer, just so I can continue justifying eating this all the time.

Here was my thinking:

Sweet potatoes = Paleo

Honey = Paleo

Why not put them together?!

So this is what I did:

I got some sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes.

I peeled them, and then cut them up all pretty-like.

All peeled!
All peeled!

Then I added a bit of olive oil.

And roasted them until they were brown.

Roasted!
Roasted!

And added honey.

Roasted!
Honeyed!

And snarfed them down.

All the deets are in the recipe below, but essentially what happens is the honey sort of caramelizes, and becomes all chewy and toffee-ish once it’s been in the oven for a bit. It is seriously one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Ever. I hope you enjoy it!

Yummmm!
Yummmm!

Honeyed Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

3 small sweet potatoes (the mini ones from the little bags)
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• Sea salt
• 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and either grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into desired-sized slices. I like mine to look like fries! Place potato slices on lined cookie sheet, preferably not overlapping.

Drizzle with olive oil, and generously salt. Roast potatoes for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip potatoes to other side. Roast for another 15 minutes. By this time, your potatoes should be resembling oven fries, with a pretty good brownness to each side. If they aren’t crispy or cooked enough for you yet, place back in the oven for a few minutes.

When potatoes are almost done, remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until honey is bubbly and golden.

Remove potatoes from oven, and allow to cool for about three minutes before serving. The honey will start to stiffen, forming a delectable, buttery, candylike coating for the sweet potato fries. Eat as a side dish or as a dessert! Enjoy!

This recipe creates one generous serving (I can’t stop myself with these things, so I definitely won’t share, but you definitely could if you’re nice), at 8p+, for my WW folks!

Big announcement!

I'm just gonna say that the HU$TLA$ are gonna kill it this weekend, just like this Hobo with a Shotgunasaurus killed it at Laughing Planet.
I'm just gonna say that the HU$TLA$ are gonna kill it this weekend, just like this Hobo with a Shotgunasaurus killed it at Laughing Planet.

Hear ye, hear ye!

A few really big announcements:

Número uno:

OMFG, I’m competing tomorrow in Albany Crossfit’s Fall Face-Off! What the what?! Yeah, I know! Granted, I’m on a recreational team, but I never imagined I’d ever, ever be pushing myself hard enough to be in any sort of competition. Send your good thoughts to my team of HU$TLA$: Carissa, TJ, and Scott. Or better yet, drop by and cheer us on! Fall Face-Off is going all day at Albany Crossfit, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Número dos:

OMFG, I’ve officially been on WW for a frickin’ year. A YEAR. As in, 12 months. Damn.

I’m not having a big to-do today (although it is exactly that anniversary), but I’m waiting just a few more days until my Crossfittaversary. Stay tuned!