Archive for ‘Paleo’

December 8, 2014

Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Harvest Salad
I call this my “harvest” salad in part because it’s seasonal, but mostly because it’s my go-to meal for using up leftovers.  I seem to make one of these for dinner once a week, and it’s a perfect (and fast) post-workout lunch on the weekend.  The bulk of the kale and the fact that it’s warm make it hearty while still being light, and the flavor profile options are endless.  For the one I made yesterday, I used leftover roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts that I had in the freezer, along with some butternut squash I had cubed and roasted the day before.  I was also having a bowl of my Turkey Bone Broth Soup, so I didn’t add protein to the salad, but I often thrown in leftover chicken or open a can of smoked trout.

My current favorite combos are:

Chicken or tempeh with peppers, onions, and chipotle seasoning

Chicken or turkey with roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and curry

Sliced beef steaks with Brussels sprouts and sweet potato




Warm Winter Harvest Salad

Total Time: 10 minutes

Active Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 salad



1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

2 cups curly kale, stems removed

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tsp tarragon vinegar or acid of choice

salt and pepper to taste

Additional spices depending on combo below – curry, chipotle, etc.


1 -1 1/2 cups cooked or frozen vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash, sweet potato, beets, peppers, onions, etc.


1/3 -1/2 cup leftover chicken, turkey, beef, fish, tempeh, etc.



Heat a skillet over medium.  If your veggies are frozen, add them to the skillet with 1/4 cup of water and cover for a few minutes to defrost.  Meanwhile, wash, de-stem, and cut the kale into bite-sized pieces.  When veggies have softened, add the kale and drizzle with oil, tossing a bit to evenly coat.  Add more water if necessary so that there is about 1/4 cup in the skillet.  Cover and steam for 4 minutes, increasing the heat to medium-high.  Mince the garlic and add after about 2 minutes.  If you’re adding protein to the salad, put it in the skillet to warm, along with any additional spices.

After 4 minutes, remove the lid and allow the water to cook off.  Toss the mixture occasionally, but allow it to sit still long enough for some of the kale and vegetables to caramelize a little.  When it’s almost done, add the vinegar, salt, and pepper, and toss again.  Give it one more minute on the heat, and serve.


December 4, 2014

Leftover Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Turkey Bone Broth Soup

Every year when the turkey carcass is picked clean and the leftovers have been put away, I look at the pile of bones and think, “I should make a stock from that.”  By that point in the day, however, the thought of embarking on yet another culinary undertaking always seems like too much.  This year, I was prepared—I had a plan and a slow cooker.

When I roast my turkey, I always throw a mix of veggies in the bottom of the pan with about 1/3 of a bottle of wine and some herbs.  It makes a delicious gravy base, and this year it served double-duty.  My mix this year was celery, carrots, shallots, mushrooms, and a few whole cloves of garlic.  After the turkey had roasted and the gravy had been evacuated they were still reasonably intact.  I threw about a third into the bottom of the crock pot, and put the rest in the fridge for later.  I put the carcass in the crock and added about a quart of water, clamped the lid on, and set it on low.  I let it simmer for 24 hours, and then removed the bones and bits as best I could.  The amount of meat that came off what appeared to be a pretty clean carcass was pretty shocking, but the hard part was separating out the then soft bones and connective tissue from the meaty bits.   Careful work with the slotted spoon eventually prevailed, and I transferred the remaining broth and meat to a stock pot on the stove.  I strained out the veggies that had been simmering overnight and added the ones I had reserved from the roasting pan.  I threw in some of the leftover turkey, as well as fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage, along with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne for kick.  An hour later, I had some fantastic soup on my hands.  I ended up with about a quart and a half, which isn’t a bad yield for something made entirely of the bits I would normally have thrown out.  I also have big plans the next time I roast a chicken…

October 6, 2014


Last week was the final push of my overload month before the taper.  I had strength training Monday, intervals Tuesday, easy run Wednesday, tempo Thursday, and an easy run Friday, followed by the Yom Kippur fast on Saturday.  It took until Thursday for the soreness from the strength training to finally subside, and by Friday I was pretty wrung out and facing  26 hours without food or drink.  To top it off, I had my final 20-miler scheduled for Sunday, which gave me about 10 hours to fuel up and rehydrate.  Oh, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep in there, too.

I’m beginning to think that Paleo might be the answer to Jewish dietary laws, though… It’s easy to find dairy-free meat recipes, Passover is no sweat, and it turns out that being fat-adapted makes fasting much easier.  Friday post run I made sure I hydrated thoroughly, and I made us some Bulletproof herbal tea after dinner to kick up the fat-burning.  I got through it without too much difficulty this year, and as soon as it ended I started pounding water.  Sunday morning I felt surprisingly good, and it was time to get down to business, as I had a tight schedule to keep.

Grete’s Great Gallop – Race Report

I had signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop in Central Park, which started at 9, but I needed to get in another 7 make it a 20-miler.  I wanted it to be as continuous a run as possible, so I had worked out some fine-tuned logistics with Long Run Buddy.  Caveboy and I took the train into lower Manhattan, then started running up Hudson River Greenway toward Central Park.  I was hoping to hold a 9 minute pace for the duration, and getting to the corral on time put some pressure on holding pace.  LRB was also racing the Gallop, and had kindly agreed to pick up our numbers and shirts and handle the bag check.  I arrived at the park about 10 minutes before the start with three quarters of a mile left to run.  After a couple of out-and backs near the start I met LRB at our corral just as the Star Spangled Banner ended.  I was fastening the last pin on my number as our group shuffled toward the line, and we were off.

The weather could not have been more perfect for a race—it was 50 degrees and sunny at the start with a light, cool breeze.  My goal for the run was to do the 20 under 3 hours, and I was hoping the race atmosphere would keep me focused for a strong finish.  The course was just over two laps of the park, run clockwise (not the normal direction), presumably to emulate the end of the New York Marathon.  Looping that way, the hills are shorter and steeper, and I felt a little sluggish on the climbs for the first lap.  I tried to keep our pace right around 9’s, but like the Bronx run, the crowd and terrain made keeping a steady pace nearly impossible.  Also, LRB and I evidently don’t like getting passed.  Right around the start of lap two we caught the 1:55 pace group leader, who seemed to be running too fast and appeared to have largely lost his pack.  We decided to stick with him for a while, mainly just to outsource the pacing duties.  Maybe it was the psychological relief of knowing that I was ticking off each hill for the last time, but somehow during lap two I felt better and better with every mile.  We ended up passing 1:55 Guy a few minutes later and at that point I stopped checking the Garmin for the rest of the race.  I had a bit of a kick left for the finish, and by my watch it was 2:59:43 for 20.2 miles. I still haven’t come down from the high.

This week it’s on to the taper, and I’m planning to follow the Runners’ World recommendations here. I’ve never tapered for more than a few days for a half marathon, so I’m curious how I’ll handle two weeks.  If only I could apply all that excess energy and enthusiasm to cleaning out my closets.


September 24, 2014

A Very Long Run and My Paleo Power Smoothie

Sunday I had another 20-miler on the schedule and decided to reverse my usual route to avoid getting caught in the climate change march.  Perhaps to underscore the theme of the demonstration, the weather had turned unseasonably muggy and I was eager to get an early start.  

My run started with a loop of Central Park, then south along the Hudson River Greenway, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and up to Prospect Park. The uphill climb from the bridge was a bit of a slog, but when I got to Prospect I felt like a new person. I was at 17 miles at that point, and I decided to run the full loop and finished on the uphill, just for added fun. I was about 2 miles from home when I finished, but my legs still felt pretty good and I decided to keep running the rest of the way. I have to say that cutting the ‘unknown’ mileage on race day from 6 miles to 4 seems huge psychologically. We’re T minus four weeks to Baltimore, and I think I’m actually more excited than scared.

Now for the smoothie that fueled all those miles… My go-to recipe has evolved and over the years I’ve tweaked it to really optimize for long run fueling. The basis is black cherries, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties.  The anthocyanins they contain protect connective tissue and may actually be more effective than aspirin as a pain reliever.  A few years ago I started using peach instead of banana for a little sweetness, as it’s lower in sugar and also high in potassium.  I recently replaced whey protein with gelatin, which has been getting lots of play in paleo circles recently.   In addition to providing about 6g protein per tablespoon, gelatin also protects joints and aids digestion.  The ginger root has been my latest tweak, both for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its stomach-settling abilities.  For the liquid component I usually go with almond milk, but depending on your run pace and ability to digest fat on a run, you can swap in coconut milk.

I know there are a million paleo smoothie ideas out there, but I think this is worth adding to the mix:

Modernist Cavegirl’s Paleo Long Run Smoothie

1/3 – 1/2 cup frozen black cherries

1/3 -1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 of one frozen peach, sliced

1/4 cup full-fat yogurt (if you abstain from dairy, throw in more peach for texture)

1 tbsp gelatin

~1/4″ – 1/2″ grated ginger root (I keep it in the freezer)

1/2 – 3/4 cup coconut or almond milk

Throw the ingredients through ginger root into a blender with about half of the coconut or almond milk.  Slowly blend, adding more liquid until desired consistency is reached.



July 14, 2014

Harder than I Thought

I read a quote recently that went something like, “Most things we deem impossible are really just much, much harder than we expected.”  That kind of sums up my long run today.  I’ve been feeling a little sluggish the last few days, but when I left this morning I was confident I could get through 18 miler on my schedule.  The first red flag was that when I got up at 5:45, the thermometer in the back yard already showed 73 degrees and 75% humidity.  I’ve been really lucky that so far this summer I’ve managed to avoid long runs on days with the usual New York humidity, but my streak was apparently at an end.

After my smoothie and butter coffee I headed out on my usual route of Brooklyn Bridge Park to Prospect.  I kind of spaced out for the BBP section, which was my first mistake.  I wasn’t running crazy fast, but I was not focused on keeping my heart rate down, either.  My stomach was feeling a little sloshy, so I also didn’t drink much in the first 5-6 miles, which was Mistake #2.  When I started up Park Slope’s titular hill to Prospect I finally reined in the pace a bit, but by that point I was almost 7 miles in.  The first lap of the park went okay and I actually felt a little better than I had earlier, thanks mostly to the shade on the west side, but I was still sweating buckets.  When I came around to the more exposed eastern side I tried to control my heart rate and effort in preparation for the hill at the end of the lap.

Lap 2 steadily degraded as the temperature continued to climb.  On a side note, I’ve been toying with the idea of switching to a fat-adapted fueling approach for the marathon, and I made a coconut oil-based gel concoction to try on this run.  I had brought two regular gels and two of the coconut oil, figuring I would use some combination depending on how I was feeling.  I was getting pretty hungry by the time I got to Prospect, but fearing a mess with the homemade gels, I waited until I got to the trashcans around the south side to eat one.   I seemed to tolerate the fat just fine, though it didn’t take the edge off my hunger at all. (Mistake #3.)  I should note here that I did a little research after the run, and confirmed that in higher temperatures, the body shifts to burning a higher ratio of glycogen to fat, so this may not have been the best day to start my experiment.

By the end of Lap 2 I was starting to feel very low-blood-sugary, so I had one of the normal gels before starting the last lap.  The sugar combined with the bit of shade and downhill section of the park helped enormously, but by the time I rounded the lake at the bottom I was dragging again.  I was taking walk breaks on a lot of the uphills by that point, and was just trying to pull it together enough to get the job done.  I only had about half a mile left after I left the park, so I had a mercifully short downhill finish.  Even with all the walks at the end, I still somehow finished just under the RLRF 9:32 proscribed pace.  My watch lost two miles somewhere in Lap 2, but this graph pretty much encapsulates the suck-fest that was this run:



Because who doesn’t like an info graphic?


July 1, 2014

Odds and Ends

I realized that I forgot to post my training schedule this week, so here it is:

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Intervals: 5x1K @ 7:13 min/mi

Wednesday – XT/Easy run

Thursday – Tempo: 1 mi easy; 4 mi @ 8:09 min/mi; 1 mi easy

Friday – XT/Easy run

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – 20 mi @ 9:47 min/mi


I did do the intervals today, which were probably the toughest workout (at least mentally) that I’ve had yet.  For one thing, 1K’s have always been a hard distance for me–they’re in that yicky no man’s land between an 800 and a mile, and I never have a good sense of just how long they are or when the next interval is going to be over.  5x1K’s seem particularly evil, since it’s like the pain of a fast 5K dragged out over a much longer time.  (Although, put that way, it does seem like a fabulous training tool.)  Anyway, the pace was not actually painful or unsustainable, but I felt like it must have put me physiologically right in my fight or flight zone.  The only real description I can give is that it felt stressful in a reptile-brain, something’s-about-to-eat-me sort of way.  I really wanted to stop, or at least slow down, but I was aware that although I was working hard, I definitely had it in me to finish.  I tried to be Zen about it and just allow the discomfort to be there, which sort of worked.  I got through it and I did feel a bit lighter when I would remind myself that I could hang out with the feelings while I just did what I needed to do.  I’ll admit to a couple of 30-second walks during the recovery intervals, but I was upstairs (read: hot) at the gym, so all in all, I’d call it a win.

In other news, this weekend my Kindle suggested that I read Beyond Training by Ben Greenfield.  I picked it up without really knowing anything about it, but so far I am very intrigued.  It’s largely a manual of training hacks for endurance athletes that runs the gamut from how to incorporate strength training effectively, to using electrical muscle stimulation for faster recovery.  I haven’t gotten to the nutrition section yet, but his training methods definitely take a primal approach and I’m expecting it to skew somewhat Paleo.  I can’t comment on the validity of his approach yet, but the text provides extensive footnotes and references, and I’m looking forward to delving into the science.  I’ll write a full review when I’ve finished it; in the meantime you can get a taste for Ben Greenfield’s methods from his podcast.

April 30, 2014

Fat-Fueling Your Runs

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see the mainstream endurance community begin to accept a more paleo approach to nutrition.  This article just appeared on

October 3, 2012

Fall Race Plans

I’ve spent the past few weeks getting organized for my triumphant (I hope) return to racing.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I approach training and racing, and I realized that it would be advantageous to approach the entire season with a strategy, rather than focusing on one race at a time.  That should have been obvious, I suppose, but having only run track, and not distance, competitively, periodization and peaking were never really on my radar.  Running 100 meters doesn’t take much planning ahead—you run as fast as you can every time.  One of the things I love about sprinting is that it is best executed with your brain turned off.  The chief challenge of distance running for me has been balancing the careful thought and analysis required to craft a successful training schedule with the need to not overthink the runs themselves.

My greatest strength as a runner is that I’m compelled (yes, it’s probably a bit OCD) to complete my training schedule to a T.  I’ve made an effort this past year to tune into my body more and be flexible about making adjustments when I need an extra rest day, but in general I’m by-the-book.  I’m apt to get nervous before races, or even in training runs where I’m trying to sustain a specific pace, so my mantra for this season is Trust Your Training.

With the goal of approaching the entire season as whole and creating a focused training schedule accordingly, I’ve planned three races for the next few months.  At the end of October I’ll be running the LA Cancer Challenge 10K, which I’ve been doing with a friend for the past four years.  It’s a Halloween race and we’ll be running in costume, but I plan to use it as a time-trial to gauge my fitness a month into race-training.  On December 2nd I have the Nittany Valley Half Marathon, which will be a cold and hilly race back home in Central Pennsylvania.  That race should be a good checkpoint and give me a chance to tweak the next month and a half of running in preparation for the Miami Half Marathon at the end of January.

For the next few weeks I’ll be focused on figuring out exactly where I am, speed-wise, and setting appropriate goals for the races.  It’s been annoyingly hot and humid for the past few months in LA, so it’s been hard to gauge my fitness for much cooler winter races.  The weather should be breaking, at least temporarily, this weekend, though, and I’m hoping for some faster long runs in the coming weeks.

On the Paleo side, I’m doing the October Unprocessed Challenge this year. I think it’s a great message and I love month-long experiments as a concept.  It also makes drinking my homebrew beer seem quite virtuous.  I don’t have too many processed food vices, but packaged energy bars and some of my no-brainer convenience snacks have had to go.  I’m continuing to tweak my pre- and post-workout snacks and meals, although I’m intentionally exempting my brown rice syrup-laden energy gels (it’s the arsenic that makes it good!) from the campaign.  With all the other variables and a new training schedule, I don’t want to mess too much with my nutrition while running.

Now that I’m back on the training wagon (or off it and running alongside?), I plan to post much more frequent updates on my schedule a goals.  Stay tuned!

August 5, 2012

A Milestone and a Fresh Start

I logged my 5,000th mile last week and I kept meaning to write a post about it, but the truth was, I just wasn’t that excited.  I’ve been kind of stuck in a rut lately and generally bored.  Having fought my way back after the IT band injury, I now find myself in the realm of no-longer-injured, but still nowhere near serious race-shape.  I’ve ramped up my weekly mileage a bit and started doing intervals and tempo runs again this past month, and on one level, that feels great.  The difficulty has been that I’m still dealing with a lot of soreness in my hips on top of the normal aches and pains that come with increasing mileage and speedwork.  Rather than feeling like a runner who is actively recovering from an injury, I now just feel like a mediocre runner.

I think I could probably deal with that better if I weren’t always tired and hungry. I’ve been mostly focused on slow runs and strength training for past few months, and to be sure, there have been a lot of benefits to my running as a result.  I’ve put on more muscle, gotten stronger, and I even seem to have improved my hill-running without actually having to run any.  I increased my protein intake by about 20% in that time, and since definitely want to continue the strength training, I will probably need to maintain something near that level.  I’m finding that the added speedwork demands more carbs, however, and I haven’t seemed to be able to hit a balance that’s working yet.  I’ve been thinking that given the muscle I’ve added, dropping a few pounds might help my speed going into race season.  I’ve been trying cutting protein and/or fat, and pretty much the only result has been general crankiness.

After some lack-luster experimentation over the past few weeks, I finally consulted my Paleo Guru friend this weekend.  He sensibly pointed out that the balance I’ve been eating seems to be generally working and, more importantly, is supporting my muscle recovery.  Getting leaner won’t necessarily result in getting faster, and may well just result in me being more tired.  In general, I tend to wake up starving, eat a sizable breakfast, and still not really feel properly full until after lunch.  I usually have a small snack before I run after work, and then eat a dinner to fill whatever nutritional holes I still have left at that point.  The Guru suggested focusing more on refueling from the workout I’d just finished rather than trying to front-load for the day ahead.  If I eat a bigger dinner I should be able to recover more efficiently and also won’t wake up so hungry (which would definitely improve my workday).  He also suggested switching my usual morning smoothie to directly after my workouts, which should replenish my glycogen stores much effectively without adding more carbs overall.  It totally makes sense and I’m looking forward to giving it a try over the next month or so.

I have McConnell’s 10K coming up in a few weeks, which I’m hoping will be a low-pressure event to test out my training and how my hip is responding.  If all goes well, I’d really like to find a half marathon to do this fall.  I have a feeling that getting my nutrition game plan sorted out may go a long way to improving my running overall, and I’m actually kind of excited.

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June 8, 2012

Cave Cocktails

Yes, Virginia, you can muddle bitters and get a damn good Old Fashioned. I think I’m in love.

Paleo Fashioned

(Okay, it’s not really Paleo, but live a little…)

Add one packet of Stevia to a glass. Add two splashes bitters and muddle with a spoon, knitting needle, or whatever’s handy. Add one ice cube. Pour 2 ounces rye whiskey and stir. Garnish with lemon or orange peel. Enjoy.