Fun With Cacao Nibs!

I have a confession…I LOVE chocolate. Dark, Milk, Creamy, Hot, Cold; It doesn’t matter, I’m a fan. Unfortunately, I can no longer indulge in some of my favorite treats such as chocolate coated almonds as often as I would like to…or can I? After a lengthy discussion about store bought chocolate coated almonds with some of my fellow chocolate enthusiasts (Lenora Pfeffer & Katie Hunter); I set off on a mission to create my own homemade chocolate covered almonds using Cacao Nibs.

Cacao Nib Tea

My first attempt at making chocolate covered almonds with the Cacao Nibs did not go as planned, but yielded a nice surprise. I put the Cacao Nibs in the microwave and when they did not melt I tried to make them softer by boiling the Cacao Nibs, which didn’t work either. Lesson learned: You cannot melt Cacao Nibs. Can you tell I am not a chef? On the bright side, my mistakes lead me to discover that you can make tea (that is apparently very popular in other parts of the world) by boiling the Cacao Nibs.  Here’s how..

Recipe:

1. ½ Cup of Cacao Nibs (Buy it: Click Here)
2. Approximately 4 cups Water

Directions:

 1. Boil the water at a high temperature.
2. Pour the Cacao Nibs into the boiling water.
3. Set the oven timer for 8-10 minutes.

Thoughts:

I was a little weary at first. I had never heard of this type of tea before, but I soon realized that Cacao Nib Tea is AMAZING. It has a rich chocolate taste with practically no bitterness that the Cacao Nibs themselves normally have. This will definitely be a nice Paleo friendly treat on a cold winter day in the place of sugary hot chocolate mixes.

Boiling Some Nibs & The Finished Product

Chocolate Covered Almonds

                After my detour with the Cacao Nib Tea I finally started to get things right. I bought some powdered Cacao and went right to work.

Recipe:

1. 1 Tbsp of Powdered Cacao (Buy it: Click Here)
2. 1 Cup of Almonds
3. 1-2 Tbsp of Coconut Oil
4. ½ Tbsp of Cinnamon

Directions:

 1. Set your oven to pre-heat to 350 degrees.
2. Lay aluminum foil out on a cookie sheet.
3. Measure the amount of almonds you want to use and pour them onto the cookie sheet.
4. Take 1-2 tablespoons worth of Coconut Oil and work it into the almonds with your fingers.

Setting The Stage

5. Then mix in a table spoon of the Cacao Powder. If you do not want to get your hands messy (don’t be a wimp) then just mix everything together in a bowl with a spoon.
6. Sprinkle half a table spoon of Cinnamon onto the almonds and mix that in as well.
7. Once all the ingredients have been mixed together and your oven is pre-heated place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
8. After the timer goes off take the almonds out of the oven and let them cool off. I ended up putting mine in the fridge overnight.

Things Might Get Messy!

Thoughts:

I really liked the way these cacao covered almonds came out. They have that distinct Cacao Nib flavor, but the cinnamon really helps to counteract the bitterness. They were a nice change of pace from regular almonds and are a lot of fun to make. Do not go into this thinking they will taste like the chocolate covered almonds you can buy at the grocery store because they do not.

I am in no way a chef. I just like to play one in my kitchen from time to time and this was the result. There is probably a ton of ways to make these recipes even tastier and I would love to hear about them. Next time I might try using chocolate protein powder instead of the cacao. Do not be afraid to experiment in the kitchen!

Step Away From The Cake!

Ever have a craving for something you know you shouldn’t be eating so badly that it might be worth committing a crime to satisfy it? I debated this earlier today in Sam’s Club as I stood over a triple layered chocolate cake and its sweet and delicious sibling the lemon pecan cake. Forget spoons and forks.  I wanted to just use my hand as a giant spoon and dig out a giant piece of the stuff and enjoy it right there on the sales floor as people looked at me like an insane person. Fortunately I came to my senses, put down the cake and slowly walked away…

Apparently however this would be a day filled with test to my will power. Soon after leaving Sam’s Club I went to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner. Anyone who has ever been there knows how delicious their bread and cinnamon butter is. Those rolls looked so beautiful on my table glistening underneath the table light. I had to be very strong for this test because not only are these rolls amazing, but they’re free too! I had my friend hide them behind the peanut buckets (no temptation there) and forgot about them for the rest of the meal. I ended up ordering a steak (no sauce), Sweet Potato and Broccoli which according to the rules of “Cheat Meal Burpees” cost me zero burpees.

The final test of the day came at the movie theater. I just recently started working at a movie theater for some extra cash. It has been extremely difficult working there and trying to eat paleo because I’m constantly surrounded by free junk food!. In addition to the free popcorn and drinks the staff is treated to pizza, subs, chips and cookies on a regular basis for doing a good job. Sounds amazing right? Wrong. Tonight at a free movie showing for staff of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (which was pretty good) there was a snack overload. As you can see in the picture below there were M&M’s, Tortilla Chips, Salsa, Amazing looking cup cakes, Sour Skittles, Pretzel Bites with Cheese, tons of popcorn and soda. I’m proud to say that in the face of all that I stayed strong and just had water. Today was the biggest challenge to my diet thus far…and we are only 5 days into the challenge!

Secrets From Arnold

All my life I have always been a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I love to watch his movies and also to read about his past body building exploits. Yes, I know Body Building is the devil to many and I am definitely not a body builder. I just admire what the man accomplished and what he has contributed towards weight training during his career. I also don’t care about what the he has done in his personal life since that is his business. Yesterday I found yet another great Arnold video on YouTube titled “Arnold’s Six Secrets to Success.” I’m not sure where this speech was given, but everything Arnold talked about doesn’t only apply to the gym, but to life in general and it made me think about whether or not I am following all of Arnold’s “Secrets.”

I’m not sure how to put videos into this blog just yet so here is a link instead!: LINK

Six Secrets to Success
1. Trust yourself and do what you love to do no matter what anyone else thinks.
- This has never been a big problem for me. I always do the things I love to do regardless of what others think.

2. Break the rules
- Hmm…I can’t say that I have broken the rules. In part I’m not really sure how I could go about doing this. Suggestions?

3. Don’t be afraid to fail
- I’m definitely following this one. I have never been afraid to fail at trying something and I try to look at all my experiences as an opportunity to learn and grow.

4. Don’t listen to the naysayers
- I have been very blessed by having very supportive people in my life. I don’t think I have ever had someone tell me that I couldn’t do something.

5. Work Hard
- This one at times has been sort of like a seesaw for Working Hard and Hardly Working. In the past I have busted my butt for months and achieved things I wanted to and then at other times I sort of just slacked off. I think as I have become older I tend to work hard more and slack less.

6. Give Back
- I always try to give back in some form to benefit others when I can. I try to give back by participating in a fundraisers, helping friends with a project or going the extra mile for my clients. I’m sure there is more I could be doing too and I believe that this is one point of success that should definitely not be ignored.

Push Through Every Single Second!

I remember during AMRAPS at Albany CrossFit when coaches would yell out “5 seconds left!” that I would notice out of the corner of my eye some athletes stopping their workout. I always tried to make it a point to keep working until I hear the buzzer sound and today was no different. I feel that just because there are only a few seconds left doesn’t mean the WOD is over and if you have 13 out of 15 repetitions done when the buzzer sounds you should get them done too; even if they don’t count for your score. The Gym Boss tells you when it’s over because…well…it’s the boss! Those last few 30, 15, 10 or 5 seconds of a WOD and the work that you can accomplish during them are just as important as all the others. Don’t step off the gas! Push through every single second!

Today I woke up and felt the brutal beating yesterday’s WOD gave my Lats, Chest and Legs. It hurt just to roll over and wrap more blanket around myself. Eventually I decided it was time to get up and soon after to my dismay I saw “Cindy” would be today’s benchmark WOD. The last time Cindy and I crossed paths I ended up having to scale halfway through to band Pull-Ups and modified Push-Ups which ended in 9 completed rounds. This time however I decided to think things through a little bit and scaled at the very the beginning. The band I used is about the equivalent to the green band at Albany CrossFit. After hitting a disappointing 7 Max Pull-Ups I knew that by the time round two rolled around I would be in need of a band. I ended the WOD with 11 rounds completed and 5-10-13 repetitions completed of round 12. I felt really good after today’s workout.

 

Reeling It All Back In

So, after the Strongman Competition up at Albany CrossFit last month, I kind of fell off of the wagon. My last workout was back on December 13th and up until today I have not really moved a muscle over the holidays with the exception of some Burpees here and there. What have I been up to? Well I have been enjoying being done with college, chilling out and indulging in copious amounts of holiday treats.

I won’t lie it has been fun, but now it is definitely time to reel it all back in and today’s WOD was the kick in the butt that I needed. Right after round two of set three I found myself racing to the bathroom where I almost met Pukie the Clown face to face for the first time. Fortunately I managed to control myself before that happened.  Overall however it feels really good to be back on track.

 

Cheat Meal Burpees

Cheat Meal Burpees

So today is the start of the 90 Day Challenge and I thought it would be fun and interesting to put myself through a little experiment while I am participating. What I have set out to do is to find a way to better manage my cheat meals (which in the past have been a little out of control…just ask me about the Graveyard Burger challenge…) and also to hold myself accountable for my actions. The idea I came up with is to have myself “paying” for cheat meals or snacks with Burpees as the currency.

What I hope to Accomplish

I want to find out a few things by doing this. The first is how badly I really want some of these things when I have a craving. If I’m really willing to do a couple hundred Burpees for a Milkshake then that’s a problem! I also want to see how well I can manage my “currency” throughout the 90 Days. This isn’t about punishing myself for having a treat. It is about holding myself accountable for my actions, seeing if a cheat meal is really worth the cost I have assigned to it and if I even still want it after I have paid. My hypothesis is that by doing this I will cheat very rarely because a slice of pizza for example will not be worth doing 30 Burpees in addition to the real money that I am paying for it.

Rules

1.    I have a total balance of 1000 Burpees to work with over the course of the challenge.
2.    If I neglect to do the Burpees then I am charged +25 Burpees for every day that passes until they are completed.
3.    Burpees must be completed before the cheat meal. That means these meals should be planned ahead and not be spur of the moment.
4.    If this is something you want to try you can make your own list of cheat foods and assign them Burpee Values.

Step One: My Favorite Junk Foods

The first thing I did was I thought about and made a list of the poor food choices that I know will be tempting me on a regular basis and assigned them a Burpee Value. A Burpee Value is simply an amount of Burpees that each cheat item cost.

My List

1.    Ice Cream / Milk Shakes = 20 Burpees per Ounce
2.    Pizza = 30 Burpees per Slice
3.    Flavored Water = 15 Burpees per Ounce
4.    Cookies = 10 Burpees per Cookie
5.    Tortilla Chips = 7 Burpees per Chip
6.    Peanut M&Ms = 5 Burpees per M&M

Step Two: Actions & Junk Food

Next I thought about what actions or steps do I take that usually lead me to making poor dietary decisions. I think these things are pretty much universal for everyone and I assigned each one a Baseline Burpee Value. The Baseline Burpee Value is a set amount of Burpees you perform in addition to the Burpees each junk food item is worth.

For Example: If I decide that I am going to make a terrible decision and go to McDonalds for a milkshake then I have to pay for that trip with 100 Burpees +20 Burpees for every ounce in the shake (better get a small one!).

1.    Purchasing Bad Food = 50 Burpees.
-    Bottom line is no one should be wasting money making poor choices at the grocery store, but if you are hardcore enough to do the Burpees right there in the store then cut it down to 25.
2.    Going to a Restaurant = 75 Burpees (Eating Paleo negates the Burpees).
3.    Going to a Fast Food Restaurant = 100 Burpees and +50 for being lazy and using the drive through.
4.    Friends & Family = 25 Burpees
-    I know when I go home to my family’s house there are far more temptations. My mom loves baking cookies & cakes ect… So I have to make sure I do not over do it when I go there.

I’ll be recording how this is going during my updates.

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