Fitness, Food, Wine & Travel


Paleo Dining: Speak up! Ask questions! Take charge!

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Dining out can be a little tricky on the Paleo diet. Standard restaurant menus are a gauntlet of gluten, sugar, and dairy laden dishes, not to mention the cheap seed oils that are used to prepare them.

The above slide show is from a restaurant at which my Paleo partner and I dined called Coyote Bar & Grill.

In the title I say, “Speak up!” because in order to stick to the principles of a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, you are often times going to find yourself in need of certain menu substitutions to make restaurant meals work best for you. And THAT IS OK! You are the customer, and you are paying for your meal. You should enjoy it and not fret about what the server or the chef will think of you if you ask for something special.

Of course, substitutions and modifications might not work so much in a chain restaurant (especially fast food) because food is not made to order), but typically most restaurants are glad to accommodate a customer with special dietary needs. Especially if they ever want to see that customer ever again.

When we dined at Coyote, we were very hungry from running in the Carlsbad 5000 5K race. Directly after the race, my boyfriend had conquered a half chicken at Pollos Maria, but it was 4 hours later, and his appetite had come back with a vengeance. And I was ready to eat, too, after running harder than I ever have in my entire life.

For our appetizer, we ordered the “Guacamole Especial”, which on the menu is listed as “homemade guac, cheese, salsa fresca, tortilla chips”. All I had to do was ask if they could substitute some sort of raw vegetable for the tortilla chips, and please leave off the cheese. They were very agreeable and the BF and I were able to enjoy a perfectly Paleo prelude to our entrees. 🙂

For my main course, I ordered the Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled scallops, prawns, fresh fish, mixed greens, Feta cheese, tomato, baby corn & Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. To make it Paleo, all I had to do was ask the server to leave off the dressing, and I picked around the cheese and the baby corn. Everything else was perfect!

BF ordered the Grilled Salmon and asked for double grilled vegetables instead of the wild rice. The dinner also came with a mixed greens salad. We also ordered 4 shrimp skewers ala carte. After my salad, I could only eat one of them. I also wanted to note that instead of dressing, I often mix in guacamole into my greens. That way I avoid sugars and soy oil blends (often GMOs) that are notorious ingredients in salad dressings (even house made ones).

So, remember when you go out to eat, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can choose where to go and several details about your meal (in many cases down to how it is prepared). Don’t worry about being a pain if you ask for something that’s not exactly spelled out on the menu. Ask how things are prepared and stay away from adjectives like “breaded, fried”. Words such as “grilled, raw, steamed” are your new best friends!

Happy dining to all my Paleo friends out there!

PS: If you have any Paleo/Primal dining tips/tricks please feel free to share them below! 🙂

Hot Chocolate 15K, Chicago. So awesome!!

Hello Chicago!!

Wow. Just wow. I just got back from a trip to Chicago to participate in the Hot Chocolate 15K. On November 5th, 2011, myself and a few THOUSAND other runners OWNED the streets of downtown Chicago. I can’t even put into words how magical it was…

I arrived in Chicago two days before the race so I could get situated and adjusted to the time change. On the day before the race, I picked up my bib and my racing packet at the Expo that is held for the Hot Chocolate 5/15K at Union Station. It was pretty cool just to be at Union Station, let alone the fact that I was here with so many others that were all set to run the race the next day.

Everything was so well organized at packet pickup.

Below is the volunteer area.

Below is the merchandise area. I could have gone a little crazy buying shirts/hats/sweatshirts in this area. It was a pretty neat little marketplace.
Below is another shot of the expo. There were shoe manufacturers and other running-centric companies that participated in the expo.

If you look closely, you can see my name and bib number in the middle of the screen. This was also taken at the expo when I picked up my bib. We all walked past an electronic device that validated our bibs. This was one of the most technologically advanced races I have been involved in. The timer was actually embedded in our bib numbers!!

So, at the end of it all…. I am so proud of myself. Running outside for 9.3 miles at under 9 minute pace is a huge accomplishment for me. I consider myself to be an actual runner now. I was thrilled to even be able to finish the race, let alone in such a decent amount of time. If you are interested in my entire race stats, you can click here.

Here are pics of me with some other runners I met at the race, as well as a picture of me after I crossed the finish line. I was ecstatic!!

Do you want to run the Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K? Or maybe want to just walk? Then go here for more information. This race has now gone national, so you could have the chance to participate very soon. Next city? Dallas, Texas on February 11th. Then San Diego, CA on March 25th. For more dates and information, please visit the Hot Chocolate 5 & 15K’s website here.You can like the Hot Chocolate 15K on Facebook here and follow all the latest news on twitter here!

2011 Folsom Great Pumpkin 5K Run & Walk is October 30th

Grape Stomp Half Marathon, 10K & 5K is Sunday, October 23rd, in Livermore

Cake Wreck…

It’s hard to walk away from something when I am passionate about it, talented, and not to mention award winning at it, but it has to be done. See, I’m kind of what you might call a “cake wreck”.

I baked my last batch of cupcakes last Monday night, May 2nd. By “last”, I mean that I am no longer going to bake. I am no longer taking orders. Even from friends. Sorry.

Why do I want to throw in the oven mitts?
I no longer want sugar, dairy, or processed foods in my house.
I believe sugar to be toxic and highly addictive… (and now that I have come to that realization, I do not wish to poison other people.)
I never made any real profit from baking because of high overhead costs, baking in small batches here and there, and the waste of leftover ingredients I had to either eat or throw away.
(And the biggest reason): I am battling a form of bulimia. My triggers are sugar and processed foods. The bulimia I speak of is mainly “exercise bulimia”… I do not binge/purge, as throwing up is just not my style, but I did practice a great amount of “tasting” as a wine taster would.
I am sorry if my decision is an inconvenience to you. Trust me, it’s very hard to tell you “no” when I am a people pleaser, I know I make the best cake in Sacramento, and one of the reasons I bake is to justify eating “forbidden” foods. But I can’t play this game anymore. I am tired of being on a ridiculous cardio/sugar cycle.

Every time I think I am OK and I can handle the baking thing or having butter, sugar, flour, etc, in the house, I blow it. I’m like a two-year-old junkie. I go ballistic. I don’t stop until it’s GONE. All I can figure is that I am truly addicted to sugar in almost any form.

To justify my behavior, I would run miles and miles (burning 800-1,000 calories at a time). The exercise would in turn only make me hungrier and crave more food/sugar. More sugar…more running… more sugar…more running. Have to burn it off, but so exhausted.

So, that is why I have to stop literally running myself into the ground.

I should not be dressing to hide my body. I should not be staying home away from social events because I am ashamed of the way I look, but this has been happening for about 6 months now. I avoid cameras like the plague and untag photos of me that pop up on Facebook when people have managed to sneak and take them. I am only 33 and THIS SO SHOULD NOT BE the story of a semi-attractive, funny, personable woman with several friends. I want to be as fit and beautiful as possible, unashamed of going out. I want to be in lots of photos, smiling, and just enjoying life. So, being as honest as I can with all of you, and changing the way things have been is absolutely essential for me.

I have been following a new plan for the last month and it is working pretty well (albeit achingly SLOW). I am heartbroken I can’t fit into many of my clothes right now from even six months ago. I am down 10 pounds but still have 20 to go. I don’t blame my body for the slow weight loss, being completely confused on what to do with food I actually do eat… as my body is used to being starved and then crammed with sugar and then exercised to death. The weirdest part is that I have understood food and nutrition for years, and yet I have had such an odd, tortuous relationship with food and exercise.

In addition to the weight loss, I hope to also understand the reasons behind my self-destructive behavior, and to somehow reroute my energy when I am anxious, or energize myself without the use of food when I am feeling blue.

The cakegrrl website/twitter handle will go on as it always has. I am grateful to have this website, to be tied to the name, and to be semi-known here in the Sacramento food world. I will still attend events, do restaurant reviews, promote/attend fundraisers, provide food news and occasional recipes. And soon, I hope to post before and after pictures. I will also be starting another food website that is dedicated to the type of diet I now follow, called Paleo.

I hope you all understand.