How to Brown Ground Beef in 5 Minutes Flat

how to brown ground beef

Did you ever play with blocks as a kid?

You know, stacking them up as high as you could, taking them down. Building cities that sprawled across the carpet, constructing the kind of wobbly skyscraper that couldn’t pass a safety inspection.

And inevitably, right when you’d made your architectural masterpiece, your older sister would come and knock it all down.

Continue reading “How to Brown Ground Beef in 5 Minutes Flat”

You CAN Have It All: The Ultimate CrossFit Thanksgiving Guide

Crossfit Thanksgiving Guide

Are you worried about surviving Thanksgiving this year?

Worried about losing all your gains or even moving backwards a few steps?

Never fear! With just nine simple tips and five handy recipes in this CrossFit Thanksgiving Guide, you can safely navigate the Thanksgiving table without missing out on anything.

Here’s how.

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

You awaken to the thundering approach of a 40lb alarm clock.

“Happy Thanksgiving!” screams your 5 year old daughter as she catapults onto your chest.

“Unhhh….” you groan.  “Sweetie, you know this isn’t like Christmas?  You don’t get presents on Thanksgiving.”

“I know,” she says, “but we get to see Aunt Gwendolyn and Cousin Sarah and we have to get there early!”

You roll out of bed and stagger down the hall.  Wobbling towards the kitchen, you start thinking to yourself….

“What’s the gameplan again?  Oh, that’s right.  Last year was a bit of a trainwreck, but this year I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve.”

You check the fridge.  Yep, the paleo pumpkin pie you made is still intact.  Your family didn’t get into it last night…..

crossfit thanksgiving guide 1
Don’t show up empty handed

1st Tip – Bring your own dish:  People might not care if what you bring is Paleo, but making your own dish ahead of time gives you options.  Just make something good and nobody will think twice.  Plus it never hurts to show up with more food.

You verify that the Sophia is getting her clothes on.  Then you step out into the garage for some quick pre-game activity.

The concrete is ice cold underneath your fingertips as you drop to do a set of pushups.  You bang out a few sets of 5 pushups/5 squats and cap it off with 10 burpees.  Total time = 2 minutes.  

You pop back in the house,  pack up everybody, and scoot out the door.

crossfit thanksgiving 2
Try some pushups

2nd Tip – Do a little bit of physical activity before you chow down:  It can help boost muscle insulin sensitivity. Boosted muscle insulin sensitivity drives calories into your muscle cells instead of your fat cells. While doing a complete Crossfit Thanksgiving WOD would be great, 1-2 minutes of physical activity will help you out too.

You roll up the driveway and the kids eagerly jump out of the car.  You grab your dish and some Halloween pictures that you promised to share and head into the house.

Everybody is in full swing.  You give Aunt Gwendolyn a peck on the cheek (wow, she really reeks of Ben-gay this year).  “You look great!” she says.  “Have you been doing that new Zumba stuff?”

“Actually, I got into this thing called Crossfit about 6 months ago” .  You spend a couple of minutes trying to explain it to her but only manage to get her brow to furrow in confusion.  Oh well, at least she paid you a compliment…

You set your dish down on the table and inspect the Thanksgiving spread in all it’s glory.  Wow, it’s pretty impressive this year.  You might need to go ahead and loosen your belt now.

Your mother gets everybody together and says a blessing.  People eagerly grab plates and utensils and line up to chow down.

crossfit thanksgiving 3
Give Thanks

3rd Tip – Count your blessings:  Reflect on your triumphs, wins, and joys from the past year.  It’s good for your soul and will help you get through the next 30 days.

You start with a protein trifecta: turkey, ham, and deviled eggs.  Then you fill in w/ green bean casserole, that sweet potato casserole w/ the marshmellows on it, a dinner roll, and some sort of quinoa salad.  “Seriously?”  you think to yourself.  “Is somebody else here trying to eat clean too?”  

One of the teens is probably doing the rebellious vegan thing this year,  this is your Aunt Gertrude’s attempt to make them happy.

crossfit thanksgiving 4
Eat Your Meat

4th Tip – Protein first:  Build your plate around meat and then fill in veggies and starches.  Protein is very filling, veggies don’t have that many calories, and both will help you keep from eating too much of that diabetic-coma-inducing sweet potato casserole.

You make sure your kids are all squared away at their table and then join the table of grownups in the living room.  

You stare in disbelief as Cousin Joey seems to inhale his plate while hardly even moving his jaw.  He’s like a human vacuum cleaner.  He’s also a hefty 280lbs.  You take your time to chew and converse with everybody else while you enjoy your meal.

crossfit thanksgiving 5
One Bite At a Time

5th Tip – Don’t be a vacuum cleaner:  Chew your food thoroughly.  Your mouth is the first stage of digestion and your gut is going to need all the help it can get today.  Chewing thoroughly will also help you feel fuller more quickly since your brain needs time to catch up with your stomach.

You help yourself to a glass of Chardonnay.  You also grab a glass of water since the quinoa salad has 10lbs of salt in it.

crossfit thanksgiving 6
Have another glass

6th Tip – Drink plenty of water:  It will help limit your alcohol intake (nobody wants a repeat of The Incident of 2007) and will help you stay hydrated.

After a while, people drift away from the table.  Uncle Franko and your brother sprawl out on the couch to watch the Cowboy’s game.  You decide that you don’t want to pass out just yet so you decide to go for a stroll with Aunt Gwendolyn.  She’s 80 and has had double hip replacements.  You shouldn’t have trouble keeping up with her.

crossfit thanksgiving 7
Go for a Stroll

7th Tip – Go for a walk after dinner:  Increases insulin sensitivity (see Tip #2), helps your digestion, and keeps you from feeling like a total slug. “A walk of 100 paces after meals equals a life of 99 years” – Old Chinese proverb

You still manage to fall asleep on the couch after your walk.  Fortunately the kids manage not to kill themselves while playing with their cousins.  They all seem to be having a good time.

When you wake up, your sister is making to-go plates for everybody.  Smart move on her part, otherwise she’ll be stuck with enough food to keep eating turkey through Christmas.

crossfit thanksgiving 8
They Can Keep the Container

8th Tip – If you’re hosting, give away leftovers:  Everybody wants something to snack on later, and you don’t need five pumpkin pies staring at you every time you open the fridge.

You manage to get home at a decent hour and get the kids to bed.  You have a light bedtime snack of turkey and devilled eggs.  You fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow.

The next day, you step on the scale. “Cool, I only gained 2lbs.  It’s probably just water weight that I’ll drop once I get back to my normal eating.”  You reflect on how awesome your Thanksgiving was this year compared to last year.

crossfit thanksgiving 9
1 Day Only

9th Tip – Thanksgiving is only on Thursday:  Get back to your normal eating starting on Friday.  Remember, 3500 calories = 1lb of fat.  Since the average Thanksgiving meal is 3000 calories, you’re unlikely to gain 10lbs of fat overnight.  Any weight gain can be attributed to water bloat that was pulled in from all the starchy carbs you ate.  It will be gone in a couple of days.

Congrats! You’ve safely navigated Thanksiving!

But what if you want to have a Paleo-friendly Thanksgiving while making the meal decadent enough for your nonpracticing guests?  What then?

5 Delicious Recipes for the Perfect Paleo Thanksgiving Spread

Want to wow your guests without making them feel like they’re missing out?  Whip up these five recipes and wait for the compliments to roll in.

  1. Bacon Wrapped Turkey
  2. Mashed Cauliflower
  3. Roasted Root Vegetables
  4. Paleo Cranberry Sauce
  5. Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Bacon Wrapped Turkey

https://vimeo.com/112453826

Equipment:

  • knife
  • small bowl
  • foil
  • roasting pan
  • oven-going meat thermometer

Ingredients:

  • 10 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely snipped fresh sage or 2 tsp dried sage, finely crushed
  • 1 12- to 14-lb fresh or thawed turkey
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut in wedges
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Finely chop 2 slices of the bacon. In a small bowl stir together the chopped bacon, onion and the finely snipped sage. Set aside.

3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Rinse the turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Starting at the neck end of the turkey, loosen skin by sliding your fingers underneath, separating the skin from the meat. Rub onion and bacon mixture under the skin, over the breast, and toward the thighs.

4. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the body cavity. Put sage sprigs and onion wedges inside. Pull the neck skin to the back. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper. Weave remaining bacon in a lattice pattern over breast. Tuck fresh sage leaves into lattice.  Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle, avoiding bone. Cover loosely with foil.

5. Roast 2 3/4 hours. Remove foil. Roast 15 to 45 minutes more, or until thermometer reaches 175 degrees. Remove turkey from oven.

6. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard vegetables from turkey. Makes 8 servings plus leftovers.

Mashed Cauliflower

https://vimeo.com/112355528

Equipment:

  • large pan
  • immersion blender or whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 head of fresh cauliflower or 1-2 bags of frozen
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • Salt, pepper, garlic and other spices to taste

Instructions:

1. Cut up cauliflower into chunks.

2. Bring a couple quarts of water to a boil in a large pan and add cauliflower.

3. Cook until tender.

4. When tender, put into large bowl and add other ingredients.

Use immersion blender or hand mixer to blend until smooth and creamy.

Roasted Root Vegetables

https://vimeo.com/112375268

Equipment:

  • Foil
  • Large flat pan or pan with low sides
  • Peeler
  • Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound parsnips
  • 1 pound turnips
  • 1 pound carrots (to make it fancy, you can use some small carrots with the tops on)
  • 1 pound rutabagas
  • 4 shallots
  • 6-8 garlic cloves or 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 sprigs rosemary or 2 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line pan with foil for easy cleanup.

3. Peel first four ingredients. And chop into 1-2 inch pieces. If you use whole carrots with tops, trim the green tops till 1/2 long.

4. Peel the shallots and garlic. Cut shallots into halves or quarters, depending on the size.

5. Toss the vegetables with the oil and spices. Place in pan in a single layer. Bake 45 minutes, stirring twice. Serves 6.

Special Bonus:

You can add more or less vegetables depending on how many you are serving. Get creative and try different veggies. One time I added beets and even though I loved the flavor, I found it a little hard to eat PINK vegetables. The beets dyed the entire dish pink.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

https://vimeo.com/112355526

Equipment:

  • 2 qt pot

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons raw organic honey

Instructions:

1. Rinse the cranberries and pick out any bad ones and leftover pieces of stem.

2. In 2 quart pot add the cleaned cranberries, water, apple juice, and orange juice and bring to a low boil.

3. Add the ginger, cinnamon, and honey and simmer, stirring often until the cranberries are broken down and the sauce becomes thick, about 10-15 minutes.

4. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, add additional honey to taste.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

https://vimeo.com/112378577

Equipment:

  • Food Processor
  • Pie tin
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spatula
  • Knife

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter or ghee
  • Pinch of sea salt

Filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened organic pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw organic honey
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350.

2. Place the hazelnuts and pecans in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground.

3. Pour the ground nuts into a small mixing bowl, add the melted butter or ghee and salt, and mix into a thick dough.

4. Using your hands and a spoon, press the dough evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

5. While the crust is in the oven, mix all of the pie filling ingredients with a spatula. The coconut milk can be hard to reconstitute. You can open the can and stir it up in a bowl before measuring out 1/2 cup or you can warm up the can in a pan of warm water and shake it till you feel it sloshing in the can when you shake it.

6. Once the crust is out of the oven, pour the filling into the crust, return the pie to the oven, and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

7. The pie is done when you cut a small slit in the center of the pie with a butter knife and it comes out clean.

Final Presentation

https://vimeo.com/112355527

You’re in Control

Don’t let Thanksgiving Day fill you with fear, dread, and feelings of helplessness.

It’s time to enjoy your family, your friends, and your blessings.

Don’t worry about doing all the tips – just pick 1.

Don’t worry about making a full Martha Stewart Thanksgiving spread – just pick 1 recipe and give it your best shot.

And don’t worry about having a perfect day.

Just have fun 😉

Photo credits:
sea turtle via photopin cc
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson / Foter / CC BY-ND
rkramer62 / Foter / CC BY
jules:stonesoup / Foter / CC BY
donjd2 / Foter / CC BY
nattu / Foter / CC BY
Marina(im.back) / Foter / CC BY
sun dazed / Foter / CC BY-SA
DafneCholet / Foter / CC BY

Elite Crossfit Ball Slam Technique Secrets THEY Don’t Want You to Know About

Hope you had fun with that title – I sure did 😉

Ever wonder why we do ball slams?crossfit ball slam

You know, the exercise we use medicine ball slammers for?

Well, not only will I tell you about WHY we do them, but I’ll even cover how to do them properly.

The Purpose of Ball Slams in the Crossfit Curriculum

At my Crossfit Level 1 certification, I was having trouble with dumbbell squat cleans.

I was doing a great job of jumping and getting my hips open, but I kept catching them really high and then riding them down into the squat (instead of catching in the squat).

Enter….ball slams.

I was taught that one of the main takeaways for the ball slam was to teach how to use your legs to PULL yourself down into a squat.  That’s how you do ball slams, you pull the ball with your arms and your legs to finish in a squat and slam the ball on the ground.

Who knew?

How to do Crossfit Ball Slams Correctly

  1. Start with feet in squat position.
  2. Extend ball overhead completely with straight arms.
  3. Pull down close to body.
  4. Release ball around stomach height but keep hands close to ball.
  5. Bounce ball and then scoop underneath to catch.

See also: Crossfit Ball Slams, Crossfit Journal

The Real Takeaway

Yes, it’s easy to half-ass this movement and just slog through it.

But focus on catching in a squat to get the full benefit of the movement.

Just like all the other movements, the devil (and the benefit) are in the details.

Got questions?  Sound of in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

How To Make Paleo Ketchup and Mayo

paeloketchupmayo

When I was transitioning into paleo, I found that the hardest things to break were the little things. I love ketchup, which usually has sugar added to it, not to mention other preservatives.

The following recipes are for a paleo-friendly ketchup and mayonnaise. I say paleo-friendly because there is vinegar in the recipe, which is technically not paleo, but I use it since it does not spike insulin levels like sugars/grains do.

I recommend storing them in squeeze containers, which you can pick up at Chef supply stores (like Chefsmart). They make you look cool and like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen 🙂

Paleo Ketchup

(adapted from here)

1 small can (384 mL/12 oz) of plain, sugar-free tomato sauce
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 tsp vinegar (I used apple cider)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
a pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let cool and transfer to container and then into fridge.

This recipe omits the sugar/artificial sweetener. Also, this does not last as long as store bought (no preservatives) so its good for a few weeks.

Paleo Mayonnaise

This is actually really easy to make with a blender. I adapted the recipe from here (I dropped out the salt). I think this is delicious compared to store bought mayo and now I use it a lot.

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup oil (canola or olive)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. mixed pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Add all ingredients except oil to blender. Set blender to a lower setting like ‘Cream’ and start it up. SLOWLY add oil in a thin stream until mayo starts to thicken, at which point you can add more quickly. Finished mayo will not blend anymore in blender, but will still be runnier than regular store bought mayo. Transfer to container and refrigerate.

This contains raw eggs so it doesn’t keep very long (1-2 weeks). It only makes a cup and I think it tastes great so it doesn’t last that long for me.

Note on oil: I use 3/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup olive oil. Using all canola is a little bland, but using all olive is too strong a taste for me (not to mention a bit pricey). Use whatever combo you like best. I’ve also used the light olive oil with good results (but that’s also pricey).

[Originally Published 10/12/11.  Revised and updated 9/11/14]

8 Essential Steps to Nailing Your First Strict Muscle Up

strict muscle up During one of the breaks at my Level 1 Certification I remember watching the Big Dogs jump up on the rings, each of them banging out a series of kipping muscle ups.

I was blown away. I’d never seen that before…and it was awesome!

Then another guy stepped up and said “Yeah, but can you do it strict?” He then proceeded to hop up, set a false grip, and then slowly pull up and over the rings.

It was absolutely gorgeous. Majestic even, like a unicorn with a flowing mullet, pulling an American flag across a rainbow. And man, I wanted that.

Learn to Do it Strict For Long Term Progress

The muscle up is one of the holy grails for beginners. Most people just can’t wait to get their first one because that particular set of skills (to put it in Liam Neeson terms) is an almost tangible divide for most Crossfitters. Can you do a muscle up or not? Are you in or are you out?

The good news is that if you already have a decent amount of upper body strength, then you can probably just learn to false grip and then kip one out. But the less-good news is that ONLY doing kipping muscle ups won’t get you any stronger. In order to get stronger, you need to learn and practice how to do a strict muscle up from a dead hang.  If you can do one strict muscle up, you can bang out at least three kipping ones. Here is the progression that I use to teach strict muscle ups in our box.

1) Basic Requirements

You need to be able to do 3 dead hang pullups.

2) Mobility

Getting warmed up and prepared for the range of motion required for the strict muscle up is important.  Here are four pieces that I have pulled or adapted from MobilityWod.com.  You don’t have to do all of them before you train; 2-3 held for 1-2 minutes per side should be sufficient.

  • Overhead band distraction
  • Prone bully stretch with kettlebell assist
  • Thoracic spine foam roll
  • Skin the cat or modified skin the cat

For more in-depth information, take a look at the original MobilityWOD videos that these movements were adapted from:

Episode 53
Episode 122 

3) Dip

There’s a two item “Things to Get Good At” list:

  • Ring support – Holding at top with full extension at elbow in 10-15s increments
  • Ring dips – Full range of motion, either with a band or unassisted

4) Transition

Focus on doing slow, tight negatives correctly before turning it around and working positives.  When you are ready to start doing positives, remember that going back up on the positive side should feel exactly like when you came down on the negative.  And keep that those thumb knuckles in contact with your torso at all times.

5) False Grip & Pullup

Setting a good false grip makes hitting that transition a lot easier, because it sets you up to go right into the dip.

6) Putting the Pieces Together

Put the three elements together (pullup+transition+dip) to start doing modified muscle ups.

7) Full Version

Once you get good at the seated L-muscle ups, you can give it a shot on full-height rings.

8) Programming

If you’ve already got the requisite strength (the ability to do dips and pullups) you should just be able to practice making the transitions tight with the seated muscle ups and then be able to do strict muscle ups after a week or two.  If you don’t have that strength base just yet, you are going to have to train consistently (3-6 times per week) for 4-6 weeks.  Build up time in the support, build up your dips, work your transitions, and work your seated muscleups.  Laddering your reps 1-2-3-1-2-3 is a great way to get in volume without burning yourself out. Either way, a few weeks of consistent practice and you’ll be the one people are watching on the rings, each of them thinking “Dang, I wish I could do that.”

Working on that first strict muscle up and have a question?  Already got one and have some advice?  Sound off in the comments.

[Originally published 10/30/12.  Revised and updated 9/2/14]

Tony the Tiger Says “It’s Ghee-rate!!!”

[retweet]
[youtube]http://youtu.be/KehwkRmWu20[/youtube]

15 Bonus Points if you got the Title reference 😉

Today we make ghee!  Ghee is a high heat paleo-compliant cooking oil.  It’s also pretty yummy.

You can pay $10-$15 for a jar, or you can make your own fairly simply for just the cost of the butter.

Summary of Steps:

  1. Gather materials: grassfed butter; pint canning jars, lids, and rings; strainer, plastic lid; cheesecloth; stock pot.
  2. Melt and boil butter in stockpot.  Boil off all the water in the butter.
  3. Skim foam from top.
  4. Pour butter oil through cheesecloth into jars.
  5. Seal with lid and ring.  Let cool on counter until ready to store.

Cheers!


Tuesday’s Workout – Sign In / Log Workouts

Push press 2RM
————————————————–
AMRAP: 9 Minutes
Thrusters: 12 (DB #35/#20)
Toes 2 bar: 12


I Like Big Squats and I Cannot Lie

squat figure
Me Squatting

I have always been a fan of “challenges” – eating clean, working out or otherwise. Besides appealing to the competitor in all of us, they are a way of incorporating positive changes into your life for the long term. One of my idols, Ido Portal, posed this challenge:

Sit in a relaxed squat position for 30 minutes a day, for 30 days.

Why should you accept this challenge? We should all know by now the benefits of the squat position: improved ankle, knee, hip flexibility, digestion, spinal decompression…the list goes on! In many countries around the world, this is a basic human resting position. Watch a two year old for a little while; kids will often use this position as rest without ever being shown to do it by their parents. This position is in our DNA. Unfortunately, in most of the western world, it is socially unacceptable to “pop a squat” in public and therefore many people lose the ability to sit in the squat comfortably or at all.

Back to the Challenge!  Here’s how it works.

Day 1:

Minute 1: 30 minutes, no problem. I’ve got this.

Minute 2: Look, one minute in! No big deal. Only 28 minutes and 38 seconds left. Go me!!!

Minute 3-30 (Broken Up into 1-2 Minute Intervals): This is hell. Are we there yet? When is it over? I can’t feel my feet.

When I first started the challenge I could sit in the squat position for about 1-2 minutes before it became very uncomfortable.

By Day 30:

I was able to hold a squat comfortably for 8-10 minutes at a time and my squat position had improved quite a bit. I was able to keep my chest much more upright, allowing me to focus on my knees tracking out. I can feel the changes in the bottom position of my Olympic lifts and have noticed significantly improved range of motion in my ankles.

More importantly, squatting has become a part of my normal routine. Post challenge, squatting for rest is natural. When I get tired of standing, I just plop down into a squat!


Friday’s Workout – Sign In / Log Workouts

Back squat 3RM
————————————————–
400/200/100/50m Run
20/15/10/5 DB Squat Cleans (35/20#)