New Gut, New Me – Part 1 of my “Healthy Gut Experiment”

Happy Saturday beautiful people! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been in the process of executing a cross-country move, amidst final exams and working full time. Needless to say, I’ve had to put social media on the back burner to spend my time on more pertinent tasks. It has been a nice exercise in mindfulness to step away from the internet and focus on real life.

That being said, today I attended an amazing nutrition seminar given by some great friends Erik and Liza (catch them on the gram: @erikbustillo + @lizafit). The topic was “Healing Your Gut”, one that is quite near and dear to my heart (or to my gut? 🤔) because I have suffered with chronic digestive issues just about my whole life. The past six months or so have been particularly problematic, even though I feel like I eat very healthy about 97% of the time (Note: not an actual statistic).

Yesterday I went to a gastroenterologist for the first time, and they ordered blood work and an ultrasound to try to get to the bottom of this issue. Next week I’ll be going back to do the actual procedures, and then finding out the results several weeks after that. In the meantime I’ve ordered a probiotic called Restora that was recommended to me. I have not taken probiotics in years, so this is something that will potentially have a large and positive impact on my gut health.

Now, I could just sit around and keep eating the same way and wait until the doctor tells me the results of the lab work. But Erik and Liza’s seminar was so interesting and informative (remember I am studying nutrition too so I’m a total geek about this stuff) that I felt called to action. Finding your ideal gut health is just a big experiment, so I decided that I am going to put into practice some of the strategies they recommended. This will be the first post of a series documenting my experiences with this “gut experiment”.

After giving a little rundown of the anatomy and physiology of your digestive system, Erik and Liza talked about common “trigger foods” that irritate peoples GI tract: gluten, dairy, coffee(!!), alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and nightshade vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. (By the way, I literally had no idea what nightshade vegetables were until today – isn’t learning cool???!)

They also talked about how chronic stress of the everyday modern life (traffic, work, kids, meetings, cell phones) activates the sympathetic nervous system – the “fight or flight” response. This literally draws blood away from digestive processes and into your extremities to get you ready for imaginary battle. I don’t know about you, but I feel my sympathetic nervous system being activated at least 13.4 times just about EVERY time I get in my car. (Maybe this means I should be more mindful when I drive?) Long story short, when you’re stressed you don’t digest, which manifests as bloating and irritation of the gut lining.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to commit for the next two weeks, starting TODAY, to implement an elimination diet. I’m going to choose a few foods that I know tend to irritate my stomach and completely remove them from my diet for 14 days to see how it affects my overall health. This means NO CHEESE, NO COFFEE, and NO ALCOHOL. For two weeks. Is it going to be challenging? Yes. My blood volume is at least 54% Cuban coffee at this point (also not an actual statistic). And I could literally house a whole wheel of Brie cheese in one sitting. But today I am choosing my health over these food relationships. Coffee, cheese, wine, it’s not you guys, it’s me. This doesn’t mean we will be broken up forever, but I need some time to work on myself.

Today is day one. I am going to hold myself accountable by posting about my health and progress on this blog. If even just ONE person that is experiencing gut health problems reads this and is called to action to start making lifestyle and dietary changes, I will be happy. It might be gluten, it might be caffeine, but I encourage you to break up with those foods that are causing you irritation and inflammation. Try it for 2 weeks or try it for 30 days. I promise your health is WAY more important than that hunk of cheese calling your name.

Stand by for PART 2, and I wish you all a HAPPY and HEALTHY rest of the weekend!! Go outside, enjoy the sunshine, and don’t forget to eat your veggies! (Except maybe not nightshade veggies…)

Spring Cleaning

simplify.jpg

My life is about to change.  A LOT.  I’ve been in Miami for 5 years and my boyfriend has been in Miami almost his whole life.  We have both been itching to get out and experience living in a different (read: cheaper!!) city.  When we are ready to buy a house there is NO WAY Miami would be an option.  I am from Dallas and recently found out my grandmother’s health is not in great condition, so we saw this as a perfect opportunity to not only move over there to spend time with family, but as a stepping stone to save money for our future house.  All of this has happened rather quickly, and the moving process is well underway.

But this is not the point of this post.  As I have been packing up my apartment, I have been reflecting on just how much STUFF I have.  Clothes, shoes, and jewelry that I never wear.  Hair products and makeup that I never use.  Kitchen tools that I don’t need.  Books I bought six years ago and never “got around” to reading.  This list of utterly useless junk that I haven’t touched in over a year (or in some cases years) is endless.  It is simply not necessary for me to move halfway across the country with all of these material things that are not of use to me.  What’s more, what if they would be USEFUL to someone else? Someone in need who hasn’t been as fortunate as me to be able to mindlessly buy a pair of high heels from Target??? High heels which were worn NOT EVEN ONCE.

All at once the realization hit me that all of these things aren’t just creating clutter in my physical space, but in my mental space as well.  Having more clothes just means more laundry which means more stress.  Unnecessary clutter barrages our mind with stimuli and makes relaxation more difficult.  I’ve been at work the last few days and just trying to mentally sort through all of the crap I have to literally sort through has been causing me anxiety.

I have spent years collecting things, following the misconception that more stuff equals more happiness.  But this is just NOT TRUE.  It is not the new dress or the new pair of earrings that will make you happy.  The memories you create whilst wearing those items will do more for your life satisfaction than the dress or earrings ever will.

The more I box up things to give to those in need, the lighter and more mentally clear I feel.  I don’t need all these things.  Getting rid of these things is allowing those that are truly important to rise to the surface.  I’m not saying you have to literally throw away all your clothes, but if you  haven’t worn something at least 2 or 3 times throughout the last year, I promise you can live without it.  I challenge you to undergo a round of spring cleaning, revisit your closet, your kitchen, your life.  Eliminate those things which are not essential and make room for things that matter more.  Make more room for new clothes, new friends, new experiences.

Get rid of the unnecessary and “It is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life, and your family.”

Cashew Crusted Haddock with Garlic Herb Butter

Snapseed (2)

My boyfriend and I usually don’t deviate much from our routine protein purchases.  As much as I love chicken breast, filet mignon, and ground turkey, sometimes I just want something a little different.  This week our local Trader Joe’s had these super fresh looking wild-caught haddock filets that we HAD to try.  I can’t say that I’ve ever had haddock before or even really knew what it is, but I decided to experiment a bit.  We were NOT disappointed.  I mean, how can you go wrong with crushed cashews and homemade garlic herb butter???  In fact, this recipe ended up tasting SO amazing I couldn’t wait to share it with you all!

The haddock on its own has a very delicate flavor; they do not taste fishy at all.  But topping this fish with a homemade garlic herb butter elevates the flavor from delicate to DELECTABLE.  For this recipe, make sure you have a food processor of some sort on hand (I used my Nutribullet and it worked just fine), as well as the following:

INGREDIENTS


For the butter:

  • 2-3 tablespoons Kerrygold grass-fed butter (literally the BEST butter, trust me)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the cashew crust:

  • 56 g raw cashews – if you don’t already have one, I highly recommend investing in a little food scale! The one I have linked to is not exactly the same as the one I have, but very similar. It is reasonably priced, convenient, and you can weigh out food in ounces, grams, or pounds. 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Add all ingredients for the butter into your blender or food processor and combine until well-blended.  Transfer your garlic herb butter to a bowl and set aside for later.  Make sure you scrape all the extra butter and seasonings from inside the processor to get everyyyy last drop 😉 You don’t want to leave any of this deliciousness behind.
  3. Next, process the cashews until they are finely ground.  Add the salt + pepper into the cashews to give them a little more flavor.
  4. Get out a glass baking dish – I used a 9×13 inch dish – and spray it with nonstick coconut oil.
  5. Rinse the haddock (or whatever fish you choose) with water before laying them flat in the baking dish.  Season the fish with salt + pepper.
  6. Take your garlic herb butter and spread it on top of the fish.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure it’s distributed fairly evenly.  The butter will melt over the fish in the oven and lock in the scrumptious flavor.
  7. Next, evenly coat the top of the fish with the ground cashews.
  8. Now here’s the most important part! Bake the fish at 400 degrees F for ONLY 5 MINUTES.  Then turn the heat up to BROIL (500 degrees) and broil the fish for 5-6 more minutes.  Not only will this make the cashew crust nice and crisp, but cooking the fish for only 10-11 minutes ensures that the fish will be PERFECTLY FLAKY.  Cooking for longer might dry it out.

I only wish the pictures looked as appetizing as this tasted!!  Seriously, I’m drooling just thinking about it.  We had oven-roasted broccoli on the side, but I think you could pair this dish with just about any vegetable, or even rice or mashed potatoes if that’s your sorta thing.

Nutrition per 4 oz serving:
Total calories: 207.5
Protein: 20.55 g
Carbohydrates: 4.2 g
Fat: 13.1 g

Happy eating 🙂 🙂

Ham + Cheese Breakfast Muffins

 

I’ve been mealprepping for over a year now, but if you’re like me I have always found it near impossible to mealprep for breakfast.  Eggs made in advance??? Whattt? I honestly didn’t think it was possible until I tried these muffins.  I go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning, and having these ready to grab & go before work makes life SO MUCH EASIER.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of ham, each sliced in half (I used Trader Joe’s rosemary ham – shoutout for coating ham in literally my FAVORITE seasoning)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder (put as much or as little as you like)
  • Coconut oil nonstick cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add in spices.  Mix well and then add the kale and peppers.
  3. Spray muffin pan with the nonstick cooking spray and lay the ham slices inside each of the cups.
  4. Carefully pour the egg/vegetable mix into each ham cup to make a little muffin.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. This recipe makes a dozen muffins, and I usually eat two-three for one meal, depending on how hungry I am (post workout usually means 3 + a side of bacon).

These muffins are bomb and easily customizable with different ingredients.  I’ve made them with spinach and feta cheese, or they could be made with egg whites only, or whatever vegetables your heart desires.  Not only are they delicious, but also very healthy!  I have calculated the macros for these exact muffins – keep in mind that if you vary the ingredients, the macros would vary as well:

Total calories: 127.25 (per muffin)
Total fat: 8.1 g
Total protein: 19 g
Total carbohydrates: 4.4 g

Well Hello There!

I figured it would only be fair to introduce myself. If you hadn’t caught on yet, my name is Claire and I like to cook A LOT. You could even be so bold as to say I LOVE COOKING. Why? Because I love to eat, of course. I love pizza and probably have a sweet tooth bigger than the entire state of Texas (which is where I am from, coincidentally).

The only problem with this: I have suffered with digestive issues and food sensitivities my entire life. It would seem that gluten and processed sugars do NOT go hand in hand with digestive problems 😖 As I finally started to figure out which foods upset my stomach, I set about on a journey to answer one question: HOW CAN I STILL EAT FOODS THAT I ENJOY WITHOUT INFURIATING MY BELLY?? Why, learn how to cook healthy foods for myself of course! I wanted to be able to eat pizza – so I perfected my cauliflower pizza crust! I wanted to be able to eat brownies – so I spent hours in the kitchen trying gluten-free, sugar-free brownie recipes!

Along the way, not only did I fall in love with the process of cooking and blending flavors together, I also discovered CROSSFIT. Let me tell you, nothing makes me feel more badass than being a 5’1″ girl that’s able to throw a barbell around. But Crossfit has become so much more to me than just a means of pursuing fitness. Crossfit has given me confidence, mental strength, and has gotten me intrinsically hooked on the PROCESS rather than being fixated on any external outcome.

I have found that eating a paleo-ish (lower carb, higher fat, sugar free) diet combined with Crossfit has worked WONDERS for my physical and mental health. I have never felt stronger or healthier, and my goal in writing this blog is to drop a little bit of my passion, knowledge, (and maybe cookies) into your lives!! My only wish is for each of you to find the health and fitness method that makes you feel so radiant you SHINE FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

UPDATE 9/2019: Since creating this site my life has changed in more ways than one! I am now a mother to a beautiful baby boy named Noah David.  This guy is my best buddy, my chunky monkey, and has completely transformed the way I view life.  Being the best mom I can be has become my WHY in life.  It is why I continue to cook and eat healthy food, it is why I continue to lift weights and exercise, so I can be in the best shape possible to keep up with him.  This guy is my everything, and motherhood is the best adventure that I’ve embarked on yet.

Feel free to contact me using the Contact form above. I’m always down to answer questions, provide advice, or listen to a joke. Check out my instagram: @paleoclaire or send me an email at clairelaster91@gmail.com!

Sending you all positivity and good vibes! 🤘🏻