Cullen is missing as he was picture taking!
All you followers have probably put together that I kind of like to spend time in the kitchen. I don't really sit in front of the food network for hours a day, or read up on cooking books and magazines. What I generally do is come up with some idea, or take someone else's idea, and then just try to figure it out. For the longest time cooking was something I did for just myself, then for myself and my girl, and while I always wanted to eat good tasting food, I knew it wasn't the end of the world if the dish came out a little wonky. And I've had pretty good success! I am a keep-it-simple type of cook who looks to very slight touches and additions to a classic ingredient to make it new.
I know at some point in my life that I will "retire" to a small restaurant or something of the sort. I just love creating things way too much to have it not be a part of my life. With that in mind, I have actually written up about 4 different ways to involve cooking as part of my life in a greater way than just cooking for me and the ones closest to me. And this weekend was the first step in breaking into that world! A couple weeks back my housemate Cullen proposed we whip up a dish and enjoy dinner together. He suggested stuffed peppers and my mind went wild with all the options of how to do this. A seasoned up some grass-fed ground beef, mixed in chopped bacon, and then cracked an egg over it at the end. Placed it all on top of a bed of sautéed spinach and some avocado and came up with this:
When Cullen posted it to Facebook and someone commented that they wish we would cook for them, it hit me that we should begin a little project. Cullen and I could host a fine-dining experience in the comfort of your own home with a group of your closest friends. We would cook up a 3-course, Paleo-friendly meal, pair each course with hand-selected wine, and ther you have it; the perfect evening! We needed to test it out.
So we invited our closest friends for a trial run. Dress to impress, bring nothing else but your hungry stomachs and the excitement of feasting on incredibly healthy, wonderfully tasting food! Yep, we really talked it up. Now all we had to do was follow through and not suck. We actually thought it'd be funny just to heat up a crappy pizza or something and play it like we really took the time to figure out the perfect meal, but that joke ran its course and we really did prepare something interesting.
Bacon-wrapped scallops with a kick of cayenne and an avocado-lime-tequilla paste
Broiled sirloin over cinnamon and spice mashed sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with a jalepeno glaze
(for our non-red meat eater I offered: pan-cooked chicken breast in coconut oil w/ specially prepared Brussels sprouts)
Warm almond butter-stuffed dates with a chilled strawberry and coconut oil topping
I cannot express how well all this went. To be totally honest, I would have spiced the sweet potatoes a tad more, but besides that, everything turned out freaking perfect. The wines were paired wonderfully. The guests had a night filled with awesome conversation and story-telling at the table. Cullen and I worked seamlessly in the kitchen together and everyone ate their fill and enjoyed each bite. I went to bed afterwards feeling this immense sense of accomplishment that I found something that I am truly passionate about in life. As you all know, I love to do things and share them with people with the hopes that I can motivate and inspire. I love health and learning all about new, fun ways to be healthy while living an exciting life. I love food and the effects it has on your life, inside and out. And I was able to share a passion of mine with a group of people, show them that extremely healthy food can taste wonderful, and walk away feeling like made some form of positive impact.
Cullen and I will be officially starting our journey into at-home fine-dining very, very soon. So if you live in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, are interested in the best ingredients and having a formal night with friends and/or family in the comfort of your own home; there is a new option in town for you!
Here's to following your passions!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
As many of you have either tried, or heard through the grape-vine, I have officially come out with the first ever Paleo-friendly protein bar. Inspired by the incredible taste and ingredients of my good friends at Core Foods (bars that I am still constantly consuming, passing out and supporting like mad becuase they are so good and believe tin what they stand for so damn much), I wanted to see if I could make something that would actually be somewhat edible for the Paleo-conscious eater. Hours of trial and error later, the Courage Bar was created. They are 100% organic, 100% raw, and as the packaging will soon say, 100% awesome! They are totally in the beginning stages of creation, so, if you are not in the general Bethesda area, I am sorry, but you are sort of SOL in getting these things for a while (I am not opposed at all in getting excited emails/calls/comments/texts about how badly you non-DC-area-people want these things and the lengths at which you will go to get some...). Just a heads up to all the Bay Area readers: I will be out there around the weekend of the 17th and will have a LARGE batch for people to enjoy, along with some feedback cards so that I may slowly begin the process of getting these things in your gyms, homes and bellies!But for now, if you are at all interested in giving these addictive bars a try, please let me know and schedule a time when you can come to the gym and pick them up. And you can expect to see them making the rounds at local events, um, holiday parties..., seminars, and so on. So, here's some of the technical jargon:Each 2oz bar is about 275 caloriesEach bar is 100% organic (yep, even the whey protein in the bar is organic)Absolutely ZERO added sugarCompletely and totally raw (most people don't believe this one but it's true!)Ingredients consist of only nuts, coconut, cacao nibs, whey protein, spices and a little banana. That's it!Keep your eyes peeled for the website coming up soon, and how to pick them up. Also, if you are a CrossFit affiliate owner, be prepared for a wonderful discount on bulk orders! Ok, so, the other news now. Courage Performance is officially opening it's doors in a temporary location that is the dream location for all athletic and CrossFit training gyms! A 6,000 square foot, 30 foot ceiling behemoth space, right in North Bethesda! It'll have all the gear yo have come to love of a typical Courage Performance workout adventure, along with a breath-taking collection of baseball;l gear for all you DC area ball players wondering why the hell there are no indoor baseball facilities anywhere near DC! All fitness training begins next week, so if you are interested in getting involved, let me know asap. Info on class times will be posted up in the coming days, as well as times for all other uses and prices. So, spread the word, Courage Performance just went BOOM!Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage
For a bit over a week now I have been back on eating nice and clean. In doing so, my kitchen time has increased quite a bit and I have come up with a few fun creations. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you might remember the old Courageous Meals posts I began doing back when I moved to California. Well, now that I'm back in the kitchen thinking up different creations, I thought I'd reintroduce a couple of those into my posting (the main thing is to just get back to regular posting!), This past week, while very good on the nutrition front, I've been completely out of the gym. I intentionally took a couple extra days off from training, then, got pretty sick and ended up taking the entire week off. I am super excited to get back onto the program this coming week, along with the new-found wonderful meal plan; I am expecting great things!
So, on to a few of the meals I came up with! First, at the start of this whole thing, I was strolling through Whole Foods picking up some essentials, and decided I'd just grab a few things, head back to the house and see what i could make! This ended up being a really fun time. I literally had a bag full of wonderful food, laid it all on the counter and let my imagination run wild, and came up with the following:
Chicken sausage and shrimp collard green wraps
I broiled some great chicken sausage (I learned from my good friend who worked at Whole Foods for a while that their personal sausages are in fact, organic, free-range ground chicken, spices and pork casing, that's it. Totally cool with that!). Heated up some pre-cooked shrimp, chopped up tomato's, onions and jalapenos and put the mess into a large collard green leaf. Wrapped it up and boom, there's your meal! It turned out to be unreal! After that, it was open season in my brain for coming up with some new things (new for me at least, I am pretty sure I have been beat to the punch with all my ideas long ago, but I just don't research this stuff enough, so, I like taking the credit!)
Steak tip over eggs w/ coconut wasabi and asparagus
My lack of grill is killing me, so, it was back to the broiler for the meat. To add to the fun, I cooked up a couple eggs over easy in a pan with coconut oil and steamed the asparagus. The kick to the meal was the wasabi. I found a great little powder at Whole Foods, added water and coconut oil and just like that, a slightly sweet, crazy spicy paste to throw on top of most meats! So damn good! Some great red meat meals led me to realize that I hadn't cooked up chicken in a while, so, I thought I'd try something great!
Bacon-wrapped chicken with Brussels sprouts
Yep, back to the broiler for this, again, this lack of grill is killing me! Either way, I wrapped up my 3-inch cuts of chicken with some thick cut bacon and threw it in the oven for a good 20 minutes. This was paired with halved Brussels sprouts cooked in coconut oil along with some almond slivers. Yet again, another awesome meal (Lindsey is the Brussels sprouts genius of the household by the way, it's great!). But what about a different style of dinner, like a soup you say?
Old Fashioned Chicken Soup
Cubed up a bunch of chicken, cut up carrots, celery, onion and butternut squash along with some finely chopped bacon, and threw the whole sh'bang into a pot with a mixture of chicken and vegetable broth and water. Simmered it for a good 25 minutes and we had a perfect soup for a cold Sunday night! But what about the sweet tooth? My plan and goals for the next few weeks is to avoid this sort of thing as to control my emotional desire for sugar in certain situations (...); but, yesterday Lindsey and I went to a Halloween party and we needed to bring something perfect!
Almond Butter Cups
This was the one that everyone on Facebook wanted to know all about! Go figure, right? You have all this wonderfully good, healthy food posted up, then you post of dessert and get bombarded with questions as to how to make it! Well, if you want to make a quick buck, start a dessert company I guess. Either way, it was super easy (time consuming and messy yes, but easy)! I'll give a little more detail on this one for you all then. And of course, you can expect a few super detailed Courageous Meals posts over the coming month. A note to make before all this: you can use any type of chocolate, depends your taste.
I bag semi-sweet dark chocolate pieces
1 bottle almond butter
Small paper muffin holder things
Put all the chocolate in a large bowl or plate, then place over a small pot with a little water in it. But it on the stove and bring the water to a boil. This will slowly melt the chocolate. As this is happening, take about a cup or two of almond butter into a bowl, add about a quarter cut coconut, 2 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp nutmeg, mix it all up and set aside.
Once the chocolate is melted, let cool for a minute or two, then take about 2 tbsp and pour into the muffin holder things. Use the back of a spoon to coat the whole paper thing as best you can (this is the messy, time-consuming, annoying part). I made about 15 in my batch, just as a heads up. Once the paper things are all coated, set them in the fridge to harden up.
Once they are hardened up, add a couple tbsp of the almond butter mixture into each cup, then coat the top of it with another tbsp or two of chocolate (you may have to re-heat the stuff). Again, use the spoon to make sure the entire top is coated, then, if you want to be pretty about it, add a little swirl to the top to make it look professional! Pop in the fridge and about 15 minutes later you have the perfect Almond Butter Cup! You can make this as healthy or unhealthy as you want really. Mine were pretty damn good healthy for a dessert. No added sugar, just the smallest amount in the dark chocolate. The spices and coconut in the almond butter added a bit of a kick to the whole thing that o think really made these things that much better. Now I am really curious about making these with zero sugar. I'm sure they'll be nasty, but it's worth a try! Let me know how yours turn out!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well, yet again I have failed in the posting-blog-posts-at-specific-times-to-give-a-little-more-order-to-my-life. But, so be it. I'll get there some day. Perhaps when I post up five straight without any grammatical mistakes I can actually call myself a real blogger...! Anyway, I think it's about time I do a little update write-up as a handful of things have gone down in the past week that should be great to share! So, here goes!
I ended up taking last Saturday off from training because my body was beyond beat up. in fact, I was so fatigued that I actually DNF'd my metcon from Friday. Yeah. I am pretty sure that's the first time I have ever done that on a workout that didn't have a time limit. I just had nothing left physically and mentally and I had to call it quits or I probably would have gone crazy. Then, As I began to get in my work on Monday, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was just no physically there. I needed to take a couple more days off and eat about 50 pounds of meat. I think the crazy awesome amount of heavy lifting and technical lifting has just taken it's toll on me. So, took the rest of the workout off yesterday, took toady off (except for a great yoga session and an hour of touch football!), ate a lot of good food and am itching to get back in the gym. I will play it by ear as to whether or not I get back after it tomorrow, or wait until Thursday. The ultimate goal is to be making constant and great progress!
Now, the food thing. Last week, after getting fed up with the amount of sugar I'd been consuming for about a month or so, I just up and stopped. As of last Thursday I am winging the program called Whole 30. This isn't all that tough for me as I realize i was basically doing exactly that program except for the sugar. As motivation, and to get a little support for the whole thing, I started a month-long challenge where I set up a "private" site for a group of people where we can all hold each other accountable. I chose to not start some sort of strict "paleo challnege" thing, just wanted a group of people to submit a collection of nutrition goals, then post up their food intake each and every day. By the way, if you want in for this, anyone is more than welcome to join. Just let me know and I'll get you all the info you need! It's super easy, you don't have to do my program, you just have to commit to a better nutritional lifestyle through specific goals, then use all of us to stick with it as your life changes for the better!
Finally, I'd like to utilize this blog as a place to bitch and moan briefly about the speed-bumps I have hit in trying to open up a larger gym space. Bureaucracy sucks big time!! 'Nuff said. I will share however, I am well on the way to securing an absolutely AWESOME space, not gonna say where, not gonna say when, not gonna say how, just that Courage Performance is about to blow, up! Pumped!
So, ready to get to sleep, get some good work done tomorrow, and, oh, thanks to my food goals, I'll be cooking a good deal more, expect the return of Courageous Meals super soon!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
About a year and a half ago I figured it was time to give the whole Paleo Diet a try to see what all the fuss was about. I was already gluten and dairy free, I just had to cut out sugars, additional grains and legumes. As with most Of my nutrition challenges, I was going to try this out for a month and see how I felt.
Well, almost three months later I dug into a glorious piece of gluten-free pumpkin bread and right then and there I decided to quit the Paleo Lifestyle and head back to the way I was eating before. For me, with the level of activity I had, I just could not handle the lack of carbohydrates, and my energy levels not only plummeted, but stayed down for the entirety of the experiment. Total bummer man! And what annoyed me so much about this not working for me, was that I had known SO many people who had this plan work absolute miracles for them. Oh well I thought, and I was back to minimal grains and legumes, along with higher energy levels and an overall better sense of self.
Now, pushing two years later, I began a program that has worked these miracles on me. Losing 15 pounds of fat, seeing dramatic gains in my lifts, having hoards of energy all day long, and sleeping deeper and better than I have in years. And here's the catch of this post: about three months in (last week sometime) I all of a sudden realized I was eating completely and totally Paleo.
How the hell could this be? How could something completely NOT work for me at one time, then, out of the blue work so damn well? Real quickly (because this post is not about this phenomenon), it's because I was not focused enough on the meal plan. My meals were not balanced, I doubted the plan while doing it, there was no pattern to how I was doing it, and I ate out WAY too much. But how does this tie in to what I am talking abut here? Well, it's the approach. This time around I had a totally different approach in how I decided I would eat to fuel my life. I would eat because needed fuel, not because I craved and desired certain foods. This effected my results dramatically from a psychological standpoint because I was focused on the foods direct impact on my well being rather then if I liked it or not. I wasn't dieting, I was changing my life.
When the dust settled I found that shifting the way I viewed what I was doing completely altered the outcome. For almost two months now (except for around 4-6 meals) I have eaten only food that I could have eaten in the complete wild. Almost all of these meals I have made myself, seasoning to my liking with natural herbs and spices. I have cooked it all by either grilling it, sticking it in the oven, steaming it, or eating it raw. To keep this up while taking on a full client and training schedule, I have found wonderful comfort in spending a few hours every four days or so in the kitchen and out at the grill. I cook up 4-8 chicken breasts, turkey, fish, and bacon (turkey and pork), pounds of broccoli, asparagus and spinach and I hard boil dozens of eggs. They all get stored in glass containers in the fridge, and when it's meal time, I'm ready no matter what! The best part is, I've shared my meals with a handful of people and all have been blown away by the simplicity and taste. Point being, I have yet to even hint at being bored with what I am making.
To add to this new fueling pattern, I have been keeping up with my typical workout schedule. Plenty of gym work for sure, but more often then not, I am outside. I am using the great outdoors more and more as my playground to stay active. Shirtless, drenched with sweat, wielding a sledge hammer and a sandbag in the woods. I then head home to a feast of grilled chicken, mixed nuts and a plate full of leafy and cruciferous greens. It's days like these (most days out of the week) where I have the same thing always running through my mind: I feel like a Warrior; I am alive, I am happy.
I have decided that I am NOT on the Paleo diet, I am not on any diet. I simply live the life that is closest to what I believe we as humans should live. I spend my time outside as often as possible, I eat foods that are found only in nature, and I constantly challenge myself to be fitter, stronger, healthier and happier each and every day. If I had less responsibility I would probably be living in the woods somewhere, wearing little clothing and spending my days just surviving. Warriors were the original athletes. If they wanted to live, if they wanted their communities to thrive, they had to be able to overcome all sorts of physical and mental challenges. They pushed themselves each and every day to not only survive, but to support survival in the people around them.
Eat, train, sleep/recover, socialize, prepare. Let's look at that in a little more detail. Eat (food. Real, good food). Train (get outside and run, climb, crawl, lift, push, pull, swim, throw and slam). Sleep/recover (relax, let muscles and mind regenerate). Socialize (be part of a community that you love and support and that loves and supports you). Prepare (know your surroundings, know yourself, prepare for the unknown and know what to do if you are not prepared).
Become a Warrior.
Never Stop,GET FIT.