Creamy Chicken Salad

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I haven’t run in almost three days. I’m going insane. And it’s my own fault. Okay, so this past Saturday I was having a blast swimming at my aunt’s pool. I was going hard, trying to beat my husband and get more diving rings than him, even though he ALWAYS wins, and felt a slight strain on my lower quad. No big deal. I kept swimming, ran a 5k later that night (setting a PR!), then 10 miles the next morning. Of course the slight strain started to feel a bit worse after all that, so I took Monday off from running. Then Tuesday I got up and pushed through to do a difficult 8.5 mile interval run, followed by work (where I’m on my feet all day), and by evening I could barely walk. Silly me. So yesterday I was stuck laying around all day not running, today I didn’t run, and let’s be honest, I probably shouldn’t tomorrow either. My body has just felt so run down lately, and I should have listened to it and backed off a little on my mileage, but I didn’t. Well now I’m paying for it! I’m sure it will be fine, but just take a lesson from me, and listen to your body. It knows what’s up!

Alright, so enough sadness. Here is a delicious recipe to cheer up this post! Chicken salad is mine and my husband’s favorite lunch ever. Seriously. We have “chicken salad week” about once a month, where we prep 5-6 lbs of this stuff and eat it for lunch every day through the week. It’s really the best. I use my homemade mayonnaise in this recipe, which adds a bit of different flavor than using store-bought mayo. Not to mention it’s healthier. I love to eat this over a bed of greens, though it would be great with lettuce roll-ups or between some gluten-free bread! Also, so long as your mayo and dijon are compliant, this recipe is Whole30-friendly.

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Creamy Chicken Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1½ cups grapes, halved
  • 1 batch homemade mayo
  • 2 tbls dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls dried parsley
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Get your mayo started by bringing the egg to room temperature. While the egg is sitting out, finely dice the chicken and celery and halve your grapes.
  2. Make your mayo accordingly.
  3. Add spices to mayo and stir until well combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, celery, grapes, and mayo dressing.
  5. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and serve later!

 

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Small Steps to Sustainability: Switch Up Your Fats!

When you’re diving into the “real food” movement and trying to learn what’s healthful for your body, it can be so overwhelming. There’s a lot of information out there and even more ways to change your diet and lifestyle. If you are looking to change, it can be very helpful to just start small. No need to overhaul everything at once (though if you are up for it, feel free!) These small changes are much more sustainable in the long run than being overwhelmed by one huge one. When I first started reading about real foods, my mind was boggled because it was just so radically different from anything I had ever heard before. I was committed to trying it though, and I began by making simple changes, such as swapping out bread for a lettuce wrap.

            One simple and fairly easy change that can have a drastic influence is switching up the fats you use. Fats are so important to the proper function of our bodies. Taking it back to high school biology, every one of our cells has a lipid (that is, FAT) membrane, which gives the cell its integrity. It prevents molecules from entering and exiting the cell all willy-nilly. There are a few different kinds of fats:

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-Saturated fatty acids (SFAs). They have no double bonds in their carbon chain allowing them to sit very tightly next to one another and remain stable. Because of this, these fats are often solid at room temperature.

-Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). They have a single double bond in their carbon chain, which throws a “kink” in the chain and makes them slightly more unstable than SFAs. They are usually liquid at room temperature, but solidify when chilled.

-Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). They have multiple double bonds in their carbon chain, causing more kinks and even more instability than MUFAs. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are PUFAs and are necessary in our diets, as our bodies cannot synthesize them.

-Trans fatty acids. These are unsaturated fatty acids that have been hydrogenated in a lab to change the type of double bond in the fatty acid chain from a cis to trans double bond. This removes the “kink” in the chain so that the fat resembles a SFA. These fats are rarely found in nature, and they are very reactive in the body, making them a pretty bad deal. Some countries have even banned them.

 

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So, what’s good or bad?

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are good! We need both in our diets and in our cell walls. SFAs give our cell walls rigidity, while the MUFAs provide enough flexibility to our cells they can slide around without causing damage.

Trans fats (sometimes called partially hydrogenated oils) should be avoided at all costs. They are foreign to our bodies and have been found to be associated with heart disease. There is just nothing good about them!

 

What about PUFAs?

Polyunsaturated fats are… well, it’s complicated. We certainly don’t need a ton of PUFAs in our diet, and what we get from eating a well-balanced, whole foods, diet should provide us with exactly what we need. They are found in nuts, seeds, seafood, and meats. However, because of their instability, PUFAs have a tendency to become oxidize, form free radicals, and wreak havoc in our bodies. This is especially true when you are using high-PUFA oil for cooking and eating, where it has a huge opportunity to oxidize, which can happen anytime it’s exposed to heat, light, or air. Generally, it’s best to steer clear of these types of cooking fats and plan on getting your omegas from food sources, 

 

Now that you’re an expert in fats, here’s a list of some common cooking/eating fats to avoid, followed by a list of what you can use to replace them!

 

Avoid:

-Corn oil

-Soybean oil

-Canola oil

-Sunflower seed

-Safflower

-Grape Seed

 

Enjoy:

-Butter: no one needs to be told how delicious butter is. Now you can eat it without fear!

-Ghee (clarified butter): It’s better tolerated by those with dairy intolerances and great used anywhere you use butter. Ghee also has a fairly high smoke point, making it great for sautéing and roasting. I love roasting sweet potatoes in ghee, cinnamon, and salt!

-Rendered animal fats: lard, tallow, duck and chicken fat… it’s all pretty darn tasty. They are great for frying or roasting, and lard in particular is perfect for baking. Try to source your fats from the best possible source to ensure they haven’t been bleached, hydrogenated, or had anything else weird done to them.

-Avocado oil: this fat is mild in taste while also being quite stable, allowing it to hold up well to heat. It’s great for roasting or for making mayo and salad dressings.

-Coconut oil: coconut is high in SFAs, making it veeeeery stable and excellent for high heat cooking. Not to mention it’s delicious. Try to stay away from the refined and stick to the virgin oil. I use it every day to fry my eggs in!

-Olive oil: it’s no secret olive oil is a good fat! However, it’s best for use at low heat or for finishing a dish and in dressings. It doesn’t have a high number of SFAs, allowing it break down more readily when exposed to heat. Plus, the flavor is much better when it hasn’t been cooked!

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Homemade Mayonnaise

I’ve pretty much been a mayonnaise hater my whole life. Really, I just haven’t been a big fan of condiments in general. They just seemed so strange and full of mysterious ingredients (and this was long before I actually cared about what was in my food). But after I started dabbling in the real food world, I came to realize it was possible to make my own condiments. This took all the mystery out of what was in them and got me thinking that maaaaybe they just weren’t so bad (still never touching ketchup though).

Homemade mayo was my “gateway” condiment into a whole new world of condiment-filled deliciousness. It’s the base for sooooo many fantastic sauces that can take any food from super boring and bland to lick-your-plate good. Once you’ve got plain mayonnaise, you can make ranch, garlic aioli, or southwestern dressing. And then there are the multitude of other recipes you can use it in… chicken salad, potato salad, egg salad… you get the idea. 

Why make your own? Well, most store-bought mayos use questionable fats, like soybean oil or canola oil. Even the ones that tout “Made with olive oil!” on the label are still mostly made with shady oils. They also often have other strange ingredients and preservatives. Homemade mayo is just SO easy, and I must say it tastes a lot better than store-bought. Also, don’t be scared away by horror stories of the egg and oil separating, as this has never once happened to me after a full two years of making mayo. Give it try!

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Homemade Mayonnaise
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: ~1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup extra light olive oil
  • 1 tbls lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • Salt (to taste)
Instructions
  1. Crack the egg in your blender and allow to come to room temperature for at least 20 minutes (this helps the egg emulsify with the oil).
  2. Add lemon juice, mustard powder, and salt.
  3. Turn your blender on low, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a steady stream. It should take around 2-3 minutes to pour in all the oil. At first the mixture will be fairly liquid, but it will thicken as you go. Using a dish towel as a guard may help keep some of the initial splashing at bay.
  4. Blend for one additional minute after the all the oil has been added.

 

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Half-Marathon Training Week 12 + What I Ate In A Day

It seems like I’ve been training for this half-marathon for forever… and it also seems like I still have forever to go. I’ve run around 270 miles since the beginning of June, and boy do I feel it. Sure, I feel the good, like being stronger. But right now I just mainly feel tired. So, so tired. The Hansons were not playing around when they designed this training program. This has been the most I have ever run, and a huge change from my first half training plan, where I only ran 3x week. 

To be honest, I’m ready for it to be over. I know I’m bound to feel this way at least once during a training cycle and this is the time where I need to just dig in and push forward. Despite this, I’m still really enjoying my runs once I get started. It’s just the getting started that is a bit harder right now. Even though I struggle to get out of bed to go running each morning, I find myself researching potential full marathons, which makes no sense whatsoever. Am I insane?

 

What I Ate In A Day

Anyways, let’s move on to talking about food. More specifically, I thought I would share what I ate on a long run day! This particular day’s long run was 10 miles. I use dates as my running fuel source, and I’ve been playing around the timing of consumption and how much to eat on my long runs so that way there aren’t any surprises come race day! I typically only have a few nibbles mid-run, then scarf down the rest once I finish.

Pre-run: one fried egg.

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Mid/Post-run: one coconut date ball.

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Breakfast: PaleOMG’s Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes, bacon, and a fried egg! I ended up having a fourth pancake too… what can I say, I’m always starving after my long run!

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Lunch: A simple garden salad (with feta!) and two chicken gouda sausages. And a pup patiently watching for anything dropped…

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Dinner: I went out to dinner to Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe for dinner with some of my family. I had the chicken feast, which includes a salad, grilled chicken, roasted potatoes (they are underneath the chicken), and tzatziki sauce. I also got an extra order of chicken, which I split with my husband.

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Dessert: I had about 1/2 cup of this AMAZING ice cream. It is seriously so good… and fairly clean. I wish I could eat it all day, every day.

 

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