All posts by Aaron

Inspired Fitness Gear Speed Jump Rope Review

I am always trying to find the best way to workout.  It’s not because the ways I workout right now are bad, it’s just I am always looking for the most efficient and effective way to workout no matter where I am. Besides, it’s nice to change it up from time to time to make sure that all of your muscles get worked differently instead of only a handful by doing the same exercise consistently.

One thing I have wanted to add to my arsenal is jump rope, but I have a terrible time using a jump rope and could never understand why. Apparently it has to do with the type of jump rope that I was using. I have a rope type with wooden handles, which seemed like the right kind since it was so well made, but I have a terrible time because I have to double wrap the rope around my hands when I jump because of the length, plus it is heavier than I need. How did I find this out? From my new jump rope.

I got a new jump rope from Inspired Fitness Gear and it is so much better and easier. It is a wire frame with a plastic cover, and you can actually move the stopper to make it the right length for you. Plus it is super light, so I can actually jump more consistently. Below is my video review for a look at the item, but I am very happy with it and surprised at how much of a difference the right jump rope can make.

 

Also, as an added bonus, they have created a coupon code for my readers to get $2.50 off of the purchase of their jump rope by using the coupon code AF10YEAH when you get it on Amazon. A very good deal indeed. Let me know your thoughts on the Jump Rope, and this great deal!

 

**I did get this jump rope for free as a review copy, but this is my completely unbiased and truthful review of the product.

Primal Ultra Low Carb Sausage & Egg Cheesy Biscuits

CheesyjalapenobiscuitsOne of my favorite recipe books is Transforming Recipes, and it is meant as a low-carb cookbook with health and fitness in mind. Some of the recipes from the book are on Kiefer’s site, athlete.io, but some aren’t, and the book has a lot of options. The authors actually just put out an ultra low carb dessert recipe book as well, though I haven’t checked it out yet.

But one of the things that I really like from the book is their Ultra Low Carb Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits as breakfast food. I remove the Jalapeno and onion powder since it is a breakfast food, but goodness it is tasty.

So, the first step is to make your biscuits. I used butter instead of coconut oil, and like i said above, I didn’t put in the jalapeno and onion powder. I also used Dubliner cheese instead of cheddar, and love the flavor it gives. It does use butter and cheese, so this is not hardcore paleo, but for those of us who are a little more realistic, and who can do dairy without issue, it’s a good option.  It made 6 biscuits for me, which is enough for myself and some for later.

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Now, as for the goodness on the biscuit itself, I do a pound of sausage typically in even portions to go along with these 6 biscuits, which allows for the sausage to stick off the sides like your sausage should. Then I took 4 eggs and 3 egg yolks and did a hard scramble to allow it to sit in the pan and harden. This way I could fold it onto the biscuits for later without little pieces of scrambled egg falling in my lap.  These biscuits do form quite well, and rise a little bit, so when you cut through them, they will cut pretty well and be pretty fluffy compared to most paleo biscuits that tend to fall apart on me.

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What you don’t see is that i also added some tomato, and you could add some paleo mayo and shredded lettuce for a divine breakfast if you want.  My plan is to freeze them like the picture above, with sausage and egg already prepared, and then heat them up on days when I don’t have time or don’t feel like fixing something, kind of like I do with the Ultra Low Carb Pancakes.

 

The Best Price on Paleo Jerky

Beef_jerkyI am currently looking at jerky options. One of my go-to quick lunches at work when I don’t have the time to sit down to eat, but have to work on the go, is a version of my DIY Primal Pacs that pair with nuts and dried fruit for a good, quick lunch. But I have almost run through my stash of jerky, and am trying to figure out what the best deal would be for replenishing my stockpile. I am sure that making my own would be the cheapest, and I plan to do that in the next couple of weeks, but there are those times where you know that isn’t possible and need something store bought to get you through. So I am compiling a price per ounce on jerky at some of the various jerky suppliers. Some have more of a variety of flavors, and others have just one product, but this will give you some options to look at, and this doesn’t include shipping/tax since that will vary depending on how much you get and where you live.

Primal Pacs – $36.75/15oz = $2.45/oz
Tanka Bites – $29.17/18oz = $1.62/oz
Steve’s Paleo Goods Paleo Jerky – $6.95/2.5oz = $2.78/oz
US Wellness Meats Jerky – $12.59/8oz = $1.57/oz
Caveman Fuel – $12/4oz = $3/oz
Grassfed Jerky Chews – $7/2oz = $3.50/oz
Nicks Sticks – $19.50/6oz = $3.25/oz
Paleo Ranch – $53.76/18oz = $2.99/oz
WellFood Co – $39.49/12oz = $3.29/oz
The New Primal – $7.59/2oz = $3.80/oz

Looks like to me that US Wellness Meats has really gotten their costs down to a very manageable  price for the consumer and win this battle easily.

Now, if you’re looking for good jerky that is not necessarily grassfed, but still gluten-free, here are a few that I have used before with success.

Krave Jerky – $7/3.25oz = $2.15/oz
Kirkland Signature Steak Strips – $10.58/12oz (possibly less at the actual store)= $0.88/oz
Kirkland Signature Pork Strips – $12.69/20oz = $.064/oz

Now, keep in mind that if I buy grassfed beef of something like flank steak, it is about $12/lb, so you are looking at around $.75/oz for that plus seasonings and sauces may get you to $.80/oz. But considering it would pull away all of the liquid you are probably going to be closer to $1.50/oz after the process is done. Not to mention you did it yourself, so that is definitely the most economical, and safest, way to go about it, you just have to devote the time to do so.

Are there any that I missed? Are there any good options out there that I totally skipped somehow? Let me know and I’ll try to add them to the list.

The Case for Long Term Health Through Working Out – Part 1 – Why I workout

workoutmachiinesI obviously workout to look good. End of article.

Okay, maybe not. When someone says they workout, what comes to mind about their ambitions or goals? In my mind, the first thing is that they want to look good to the opposite sex. And, while that may be true to some extent for everyone who works out, it is not the ultimate goal for some of us. I am going to go over the main reasons why I workout, and while looking good is on my list, it is much further down my list than it was even a few years ago.

1) Ability to Play with my Kids – My joints are far from perfect. Ever since high school, my knees have hurt and ached regularly disallowing me to move normally. This has never been more evident than in playing with my kids. When getting up and down from the floor causes me to move in unnatural ways and find something to pull up on, it means I need to do something. I love playing with my kids. I love getting in the floor and roughhousing. I love running around the house or outside with them. And I know that if I keep playing with my kids and showing them how to play, they will take that and expect to play that way for a very long while, instead of looking at me sitting on the couch saying “Daddy’s too tired” or watching me playing a video game or on the iPad. And I am fine with those things from time to time, but they should know that when you really want to play and have fun, it typically constitutes active play, not passive.  And the best place to learn that is from their parents.

2) Long Term Health – As I said before, I have had joint issues since I was a teenager and have never really recovered. And if those joint issues are bad now, in my early 30’s and before, then they are only going to get worse if I don’t make changes. It’s so interesting to go to the supplements store or health store and talk about supplements and health with the workers at the store. Most of the time, these workers are older, and they are shocked that someone my age is actually looking at this. And the line that I typically get is, “I wish I had been interested in this when I was your age”. And I’m glad that I am interested in my long term health and hope that it allows me to see my children grow up, and their children as well. With the widespread prevalence of so many chronic diseases that are treatable, it is even more now than ever, a priority to stay healthy and pay attention to how you treat your body so that it will last a very long time. When I look at other cultures and the health they maintain compared to looking around in America, it means that we weren’t meant to spend our golden years in nursing homes or at doctor’s visits, but instead were meant to share our knowledge with those around us, and enjoy our time here.

3) My Body is a Temple –

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I dont’ know that I need to expand on this, but I will give my two cents anyway. Our bodies were given to us by God, and within us dwells the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we should glorify God with the way we treat our bodies. How we maintain it through input and activity can make a huge difference in the effectiveness and length of our ministry. One overlooked thing in the Bible that most people don’t want to talk about is gluttony. In the south, when there is a big church event, there is always a potluck that is dominated by comfort food and most people end up with multiple plates, eating until they are in pain. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that is not glorifying to God. God wants us to have fellowship as a church, and to enjoy the food he has allowed us to make through his creation, but eating until you can’t button your pants, or eating food-like-substances on the fellowship hall table does not qualify.  We are meant to be set apart from the rest of the world, and this is another example of a way that we can distinguish ourselves from everyone else, through the way we eat and what we do with our bodies.

4) Protection for myself and my family – I never thought about protection until I had a family. I was just like most kids who simply thought about myself. But as soon as you get married, and especially when you bring kids into your life, you start realizing that the world is not a safe place, at least not the world we live in. So you have to start thinking about what would happen if worse came to worse and someone tried to hurt your family. You can buy guns and security systems, and live in safe neighborhoods, but if you are out on a date, even in a nice part of town, and you happen to be around the wrong person at the wrong time, all you have is your physicality. So, you have to strengthen yourself in order to provide for and protect your family in any way possible. I have thought many times about doing some sort of martial arts to help with this one, and it is on my list of things to do, but I haven’t gotten there yet. But protecting my family is a big deal, and doing some sort of training/working out can make all the difference in a confrontation.

5) Looking Good for my Wife – This one is probably up higher for most people as it is all about looking good for the opposite sex, but my wife and I have been together long enough to where this isn’t at the top since we’ve made a vow to each other for life no matter how we look, and we plan to do just that. But that being said, I still want to be wanted by my wife, and even though looks aren’t near as important for women as they are for men, it is still high enough on the list to make me try harder. My wife is a very loving person and she wouldn’t comment on my looks if she knew that I was at all self-conscious, but when I look through her eyes, I want to be able to see someone that she feels lucky to have, instead of someone who has gone downhill since we got married. I don’t care about what other women think, though it always feels good to be admired, but if my wife looks at me in a way that says “You look good!” or admires me when I take off my shirt, my pride shoots through the roof!

6) Feeling Good about Myself – Again, some people would put this higher up the list, but for me, I think this is a perfect spot. I don’t have major self-esteem issues and have never been heavy, but I do feel better and more confident in all parts of my life if I am in shape and really paying attention to how I treat my body. When you sit down in a meeting with a new client and you are self-conscious of your spare tire, do you think that helps or hurts your chances with that client? When you are comparing yourself to everyone else, which we all do to an extent, you can feel good about the way you look and the way you handle yourself compared to your peers who are struggling with so many health issues. Again, for many people who have more body issues, this would be much higher on the list with reason, but for me, this is a bit further down, but still definitely on my list.

7) Be Better at Sports and Activities – I love playing basketball, and other sports as well, but basketball is my love.  Competing in a sport is something that gets my blood pumping and makes me feel good, even if I am not very good at it. I’ll talk about the evolution of sports in a future post, but for now, I simply want to acknowledge that the better shape I am in, the better chance I have to do well in sports instead of being restricted by my aches, pains, and lack of muscles. I play basketball once a week, both for exercise, as well as for the actual act of playing ball. I get to play with some guys that I enjoy being around, and the sport itself has been something I have loved ever since I was young. So seeing progress in my vertical or the speed of running down court on a fast break makes me feel good, especially when it is noticed by my peers to show that I can compete.  So, when I am doing squats at my next workout, I need to remember that this is for my vertical and will help me rebound better the next time around.

We all have different goals and thoughts about working out, but I would wager that many of these that I have listed also fit into your goals as well. Sports may be first on your list, and kids couldn’t be farther from the top of your list, but either way, think about why you are working out, and try to focus on what will accomplish those goals in the long-term.

I know this is a long article, so I have broken it up into a part two of HOW I workout to accomplish these things. It won’t be nearly as long, I don’t think, but keep an eye open for the second part: The Case for Long Term Health Through Working Out – Part 2 – How I Workout.

What are your reasons for working out?

How food allergies fit into Paleo – Top 8

Allergy_foodMy kids, as I have described before, have food allergies, which is one of the reasons why we read labels so feverishly in our house. So, anything related to food allergies have my full attention as I would love for them to not have to worry about foods they put in their mouth creating anxiety with having to always have an epi-pen nearby.

The Top 8 food allergens are Wheat, Soy, Peanuts, Milk, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Fish, and Shellfish. According to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at University of Nebraska, these foods account for 90% of all food allergies in the U.S.

So, how do these fit into the Paleo diet?

Paleo feels very strongly on all of these actually, just not the same way on each one.

The first 3 are looked down upon because of the issues with allergies that a lot of people have and the digestive/hormonal issues that people can get from eating these foods. Wheat, specifically gluten or another protein in wheat, can cause all sorts of digestive issues. Legumes are not allowed on strict paleo, but things like soaked lentils or black beans are gaining some traction. But soy has been shown to have estrogenic effects on hormones that can create havoc if not fermented first, or in the absence of a good amount of seafood. And peanuts are another legume that many people do not respond well to, specifically, 1.4% of the U.S. population have an allergy to this legume, and though the cause is not fully determined, many people think it is because of the mold content that is the major reason. Sounds yummy now, huh?

Then there is milk, which is a gray food that, if full fat and well tolerated, is allowed, but someone starting out on Paleo should avoid to try and make sure they don’t have issues from drinking it or using one of the other products that are milk based, such as ghee, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.

Then there are tree nuts and eggs. These are fully allowed on the Paleo diet, unless you have an autoimmune disease that would handle these things improperly and cause flare-ups. See The Paleo Approach for more info. Eggs are extremely nutritious, but with a leaky gut or an off kilter gut microbiota, can cause problems for the rest of a person’s body. And tree nuts are less useful, but still a good fat for the majority of people, with certain nuts being very beneficial in the Omega-3/Omega-6 scale.

And then there are fish and shellfish, which are extremely beneficial and helpful, and again, if tolerated, can really increase the nutrition of your diet immensely.

So, why are these foods so diametrically opposed?

Some foods are just blatantly bad and not really beneficial for anyone, such as the first three. And I personally believe the reason the really beneficial ones are due to, as I mentioned above, gut problems. If the gut is extremely out of sorts, then it can’t handle the beneficial foods yet, and the more in line the gut is, then the extremely beneficial foods are helpful and can keep you moving toward optimal health. This is why we have kids who grow out of food allergies. My kids just got allergy testing done last week and we found out that my daughter, at this point, is only now allergic to peanuts, according to the blood test. She has a very low allergy to eggs that we are going to test in the coming weeks, but has grown out of her milk allergy completely at this point at almost 5 years old.

My son, who is 2 years younger, has a ways to go. He still has a milk and egg allergy, so we have to watch for things like butter or cheese, and eggs, which are everywhere. So, we are hoping that as we keep giving him good, nutritious foods, we will be able to help him grow out of his allergies as well. The freeing effects of being able to go anywhere and get something would be amazing and cut down on major anxiety for my wife and I.

But both children tested negative for wheat/gluten and tree nuts. So they can have those if need be, but we do notice a behavioral difference in my daughter when she has gluten, so we will continue to avoid it as it is not a nutritious food, and most of the time filler anyway. But tree nuts are something we will delve into further as we move forward. Both children have had almond flour/meal multiple times without issue, and next will be things like macadamia nuts and cashews as that would open up major options for good healthy fats for growing and developing bodies and minds.

So, why do I bring this up? Well, it is obviously on my mind with the kids getting tested, but also, there was a study done with lab rats at NYU Medical Center showing a correlation between antibiotics and food allergies.  Now, my children had food allergies before they ever had antibiotics, so how is this possible?

I have another theory. (I know, lots of theories today) My wife had quite a few doses of antibiotics growing up, which may have affected her gut flora and changed her microbiota. We know that infants get their first gut flora from their mother when passing through the birth canal, so if the mother’s gut flora is off from antibiotics, couldn’t it be theorized that a deficiency in the child’s gut flora at that point could cause the problem with food allergies that has to be grown out of or treated? With our medical system giving out antibiotics like candy for some decades now rather than waiting to see if a sickness is viral or bacterial, I think it’s very plausible that there could be a link here, along with the use of antibiotics in food production as well.

Again, I simply have certain facts at my hands that I can use to conjecture toward a hypotheses, and am not a doctor or scientist. But sometimes it simply takes someone who is invested in a solution, to find a solution.

Paleo Cinnamon Roll Recipe Review

I know I mentioned before how we used to not think too much about what our children ate, as long as it wasn’t too bad for them and they were able to get full. But now that our mindset has changed, it is still hard to get the thoughts of cinnamon rolls and monkey bread out of the mind of my daughter as she still thinks about the tasty packaged food that we used to partake in multiple times a week. One thing that I hadn’t found as a good option was a good Paleo cinnamon roll recipe. There is the anti-paleo gluten free cinnamon roll recipe that I use from time to time that uses the Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Dough mix as the base, but it obviously isn’t ideal. I somehow came across a recipe for Paleo Cinnamon Rolls sometime back and decided to give them a shot. It was from an email newsletter that my dad had forwarded to me since he knew this was one recipe I had been looking for. I am very happy with the results. Unfortunately it isn’t on the site and I don’t feel comfortable posting it since it is part of an overall book, but I’ll link to the site and to the site that sent out the original newsletter in hopes you can find the recipe.

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I know it isn’t perfect, but goodness they were tasty. Again, not the exact same as the cinnamon rolls we used to get, but very tasty and the kids thought they were in heaven!

The next time though, I need to remember to roll them tighter so that I don’t have them fall apart at the bottom like you can see in the pictures. Leaving room in between layers does not do well for shaping the Roll.

Paleo Cinn Rolls

Paleo Hot and Sour Soup Recipe Review

We love oriental food in our house. We love thai, japanese, chinese, we even had some korean food a few weeks ago that was very tasty. But there is something accessible and comforting about standard chinese soups. My favorite is egg drop soup, and my wife loves hot and sour or wonton soup. A few nights ago, she said, “I sure wish that we could go get chinese food, I would love some soup.” So, me being the loving husband I am, I started looking over the internet for a soup hot and sour soup recipe we could have. Mind you, this was at around 8:30pm when the kids were in bed, so this was not a planned meal in the slightest, yet somehow we had almost all of the ingredients for some Paleo Hot and Sour Soup, with a few substitutions.

hotandsoursoup

I told my wife, “It will take about 30 minutes to make, or I can go get some soup which will take an equal amount of time, and we already have everything”. I was off by about 30 minutes, but i’m sure this tasted better than anything from the store.  We both really liked it. We did not have bamboo shoots, pork, sherry or red wine vinegar, so we left our the bamboo, substituted chicken strips, and used rice vinegar, and it came out fantastically. We normally make a Tom Kha soup when we do oriental because the kids like it so much, but my wife thought this was better overall. The kids and I still like the Tom Kha better, but it was a nice change of pace, and I definitely will be keeping the recipe handy for future use.

Paleo Pals Anytime Cookies Review

My daughter is almost 5 years old and for the first 4 years of her life, we allowed her to have a lot of sweets and a lot of standard fare, but this past year we have really tried to focus on nutrient density in a lot of her foods, and if the food doesn’t have a nutritional benefit, then we try to stay away from it. I know this is hard for her as she has seen both sides of the fence, so I am trying any way I can to get her to understand why we are making the choices that we are. And one of the ways I am doing this is by introduction kid oriented Paleo books, Eat like a Dinosaur and Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship.

In each book, there is a good assortment of recipes specifically for kids, where they can help with most of the steps for preparation. My daughter especially loves the Paleo Pals book because it is about super heroes and has lots of good recipes. One of the recipes is a cookie called an Anytime Cookie that is made of whole foods, and isn’t overly sweet. So it truly can be consumed anytime without fear of blood sugar drops hours later.

anytime cookies

They really didn’t take much time at all to put together since it was just a mix and cook process. I really thought they were good, and the rest of the family did too. Now, the next day they weren’t near as good because they were a little mushy from the moisture trapped in the container. Still had the same flavor, but the texture turned my kids off as it was too squishy to be a typical cookie. We actually had these and some bacon for breakfast while we ran out to yard sales.

We will definitely make these again, but I need to try and find a way to keep them crunchy, as I think this would make it an even bigger hit with the little ones.

Maple Brussel Sprouts and Bacon Review

We have a method for making brussel sprouts, but sometimes you want to see what else is out there and see if you are missing something. We love the brussel sprout recipe that we use, but wanted something new. So we came upon a Brussel Sprout recipe that uses bacon, dijon mustard, and maple syrup.

maplesproutsWe liked this recipe. I liked it more than my wife. My wife really likes the one we typically use, so it’s hard to change her mind on things like that. My daughter on the other hand said “Is there bacon in with the brussel sprouts?” as soon as she saw it and gave out an excited yell. She loves her bacon.

We added just a little bit of garlic powder to the sprouts, which we thought was a nice addition to an already tasty dish.

 

Paleo Toasted Ravioli with Yucca Batter Recipe Review

I remember having my dad buy huge cans of ravioli when I was younger as that was one of the few things I could fix on my own that I really liked eating. So I pretty much lived on Chef Boyardee when I got home from school. But since going Paleo, ravioli hasn’t really been on my radar. But I saw a great recipe for toasted ravioli on Predominantly Paleo that peaked my interest.

I know i’ve said it before, I am not a chef, so many times, flavor totally trumps the way a dish looks for me. This is one of those times.

toasted ravioli

Now, while they don’t look too bad, the size was our main issue. Rather than having little bite sized raviolis like the original recipe, we had palm-sized raviolis that were filled with goodness.

We really liked this recipe. Again, it didn’t turn out exactly like we wanted since our sizes were significantly more than the original, but the flavor was fantastic! Plus, dipping it in tomato sauce added a lot of flavor and juiciness that you would expect to get from an Italian dish.

And it was very interesting using Yucca batter for the first time. For those of you who don’t know, Yucca is a root, similar to potato or something else that is crazy looking and typically avoided in the produce area of your grocery store, shunned to the corner with ginger and horseradish root.

You chop and boil the yucca root, then put it in a blender to mash together with oil, and it actually turns into a type of dough. How Jennifer at Predominantly Paleo figured this out is beyond me. But it is really a great grain-free option that works very well. We plan to do a lot more with her yucca recipes as it’s a nutritious way to make dough for things like this.

A couple of things I will do differently next time are make the raviolis smaller, obviously, and in the middle of yucca root is a spine that you have to pull out after it is pulverized or boiled, and I may see if I can “core” it instead to make the whole process work a bit better, because it is a pain to remove it out of the existing batter that has small pieces that may get missed and the kids may find while eating. Not a good combination at all.