Thursday, May 31, 2012

Smoky Bacon Chili

Remember the other day how I mentioned my love affair with Juli from PaleOMG? Kidding about the love affair. Maybe kidding.

She occasionally guest-posts and makes cooking videos for a company called Again Faster. They make equipment for CrossFit, produce how-to videos, and write some really thoughtful blog posts in general. Neat site.

Anyway, I stumbled upon her Smoky Bacon Chili recipe recently and decided that was something I needed to have. Now.

I even watched the cooking video. And I rarely spend that much time pre-planning my meals.

And it is perfectly Paleo.. no beans, just meat and veggies. Plus bacon. Did I mention perfect?

I actually had bacon already cooked up, so I just threw some bacon fat in with the veggies and added in the cooked bacon later.

You will notice I only had one green pepper cut up in there. Isn't it great when you cut into a pepper and get a draft of the rancid smell? Especially when you paid good money for a red one over a green one? Sigh. I'll stop whining now.

Mm. Looking (and smelling) delicious already!

Definitely will use these again.

A little extra cayenne and paprika never hurt anyone. :)

It was so good!

So, smoky bacon chili... a la Mariah:

1-lb ground grass-fed beef
6 slices of bacon, cubed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced (more is better, right? kidding.)
1 (14)-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 (8)-ounce can of tomato sauce

Spices, more or less to taste:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and/or pepper

1. Cook the bacon in a large pot
2. While bacon is cooking, chop peppers,onion, and garlic
3. Once bacon is slightly crispy, add veggies
4. After 5-6 minutes, add ground beef and spices
5. Let the beef brown; then add tomatoes and sauce
6. Mix well, and let flavors mix together on low for 8-10 minutes
7. Taste and adjust/add spices if needed

And, as always,
8.. enjoy. :)

The flavor of the bacon mixed with everything else is simply incredible. Plus this all goes together really fast. In my mind, the sooner I get to eat, the better... Who's with me?! ;)

PS. Today I tried doing double-unders. For you non-CrossFitters, that's jumping rope but swinging the rope twice for every jump. Never mind I haven't jumped rope since I was in kindergarten. The closest I got was whipping my shin once. Ouch.

PPS. Yesterday I ran up a mountain. Kidding. Not really kidding. I did :30/:30 intervals up a mountain. I reached new heights. It was pleasant. 480 calories burned? Not bad for 30 total minutes on the treadmill, including warmup.

PPPS. In my next life, I want to be a dog. Mmkay?

PPPPS. Kidding. There's nothing else. ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A day for memories...

Anyone else think they need a day off to recover from a holiday? *raises hand*

Tuesday was brutal! It could have just been the fact Monday I was up and going for 18 hours. Must be getting old.. I am really not used to that anymore. Or the fact that I had to do Monday grocery shopping on Tuesday. Which means I spend a good portion of the day cooking as well. Plus I did laundry. Plus I figured I should probably get some actual photog work done. ;)

Or my crazy hard workout wiped me out Tuesday morning right from the start. *whine* A deadlifting pyramid, which honestly was really fun. I reached my old PR at the top, 205. Apparently that is a good thing. Someday I am going to deadlift for weight again, and blow 205 out of the water. I will be sure to let you know. ;)

Then I did a fun "little" squat-clean plus elevated pushups WOD that took me a whopping 21:40 and left me all scraped up. My squat-cleans got a little sloppy. And although now I might blame it on hormones and lack of sleep, this is the second or third time EVER in my short history of working out that I wanted to cry. I think I assumed "the official CrossFit recovery position" for about 10 minutes afterwards. And then ran intervals. :/

Gasp. Don't look now. I'm showing shoulder skin.

Anyway, it was a pretty normal weekend before the holiday, which I loved and soaked up every minute of it. I am now staring at four weekends of photographing weddings in the face.

I would not trade Monday for anything, though. This Memorial Day was very, very nice. We got to see so many people... Lovely friends. It brought back all these good memories of our few years living in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area of Iowa.

We had lunch with one of my best friends from college... I love this girl! :)

It was very enjoyable relaxing and being a guest at a wedding rather than being the photographer... but I couldn't resist taking a picture or two. :)

Just a little glimpse of their quirky humor... their programs were adorable, as were the little guest sheets that we filled out. Lots of cute details.

Ugh. I swear we cannot take a decent picture.. do we look like we had been awake since 4:30 that morning? My eyes look glazed. No donuts, honest!

This one is a little better... of me, especially. That is what matters, right? Never mind his ADD was kicking in. I should have had them take another one after I looked at it. Oh well.

This is what the dress looks like... I actually went shopping for a dress for a wedding. Score! Does anyone else take pictures of themselves in dressing rooms and text it to their husband/mom for approval? ;) Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Then, after the wedding, we stopped by my brother's bench in George Wyth Memorial Park.

It was great to just sit and remember a little..

But, we had to get on the road back to Wisconsin, so couldn't stay too long.

Isn't this a sweet clouds shot? Thanks, iPhone-tography and Photoshop Express! :)

I know our Memorial Day wasn't filled with picnics, grilling out, and parades, but it was good just the same. It was refreshing to see so many familiar faces and very heart-warming to be back in Iowa again, even if it was just for a few hours. That probably was the perfect amount of time, actually. I do love me some Wisconsin! ;)

Hope you had a great holiday weekend as well.. and remembered the true meaning of Memorial Day.
This truly is the land of the free because of the brave. And I am so grateful for that!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Avocado Brocco-Slaw

It is no secret I am a huge fan of Paleomg. Juli is hilarious, loves food, and writes a mean blog post. She also makes a mean bacon chili, which I also made today.

But this. This was amazing.

Spicy Avocado Slaw

I adapted it a little, but not much. I mostly just wanted to get it down to one serving size. My self-control with avocados is about like my self-control with almond butter. And I have been almond-butter-free for nearly 3 months. "Hello, my name is Mariah..." ;)

Brocco-slaw. Incredible. Nothing against shredded cabbage, or chopping your own cabbage. Broccoli is just amazing.

Mini-photo shoot with the avocado. I swear I will finally be able to spell "avocado" by the time I am done with this post.


Oh, yum.

Does that look appetizing? Hopefully. That's what I was going for. My dad fondly referred to avocado as zest soap for most of his life. There's a reason.

Anyway, here's what I used:

1 avocado
1 cup broccoli coleslaw
Lime juice
Lemon juice
Olive oil, which I didn't use, but only because I forgot it.. Oops.

Spices, to taste:
  Chili powder
  Onion powder
  Garlic powder


Throw everything in a bowl except for the slaw and mash/mix.
Add the slaw.


I ate mine with leftover meatloaf. So yummy.

And check out Juli's page! :)

Ps. Anyone else need a day to recover from your vacation day?? ;) Ugh. Memorial Day post coming soon, I promise.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My personal fitness journey: Interview

A while ago, I was asked to do an interview by Eat Fat, Get Fit on Facebook. I sat down and wrote out a long rambling account of my fitness journey, as it has been so far. The author of the blog edited it down a little, and put it up on his blog with some pictures scattered throughout.

So, if you're wondering about the "motivation" that got me going and my personal process to losing weight this far, please feel free to check that out here: "Interview with Mariah"

Please note: I included "ab" images of myself to prove my point about being lean. Please either don't view this post or refrain from commenting if you're not okay with that. I have worked hard to get to this point and have zero tolerance for disrespect. Mmkay. Back to nice Mariah. :)

Eventually, I will be adding a few more pages to this blog as well. I want to put up the long version of my fitness journey, my thought process about exercise in general, my take on Paleo/primal, and maybe even a page of "benchmarks" of where I am at strength-wise. The last one would be more for me though. :)

Anything else you would like to see on here?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

This is what you're made of...

Phew. It's been forever since I posted. My apologies. Can I blame it on life?

Not a whole lot new. However, things have really picked up with my business... and June is going to be killer. Killer awesome! :) I'll be photographing weddings each weekend, plus starting some senior work.

Last weekend's wedding was a scorcher... (90*, anyone?) but beautiful. It was in an old church in downtown Neenah, which was gorgeous inside and out. Plus it gave me a chance to show off my man-traps in a sleeveless top. If you are like my mom, and wonder if "man-traps" is the style of my shirt... no. ;)

It is a bit funny... I have been "nesting" a little due to my anticipation of crazy June approaching. And NO, nothing about being pregnant involved. ;) I think it's just the fact that I know life will be very crazy... very soon. I did some cleaning, organizing. I even vacuumed! Whoa. This is serious.

This weekend we are semi-free despite the whole holiday thang. So, this week I have been soaking up the last opportunity to squeeze in 6 workouts until July. I love my Saturday met-cons, what can I say? Heh. Apparently this Saturday, I get to do two of them. Sweeeet.

Speaking of working out, that has been going great lately. I am still dealing a little with some elbow/tendonitis issues, but it really hasn't slowed me down too much.

This is the highlight reel:

Yesterday, we did the "Lumberjack 20." Oh. my. word. My trainer, another trainer, and I did this "together." I use quotes because we started at staggered times. I finished last. ;)

7 exercises. 20 of each. Plus running a quarter mile after each one.

Here is what it looks like with our respective weights:

The squat-cleans at the end really got me.. and as I headed out to run my last 1/4 mile, I lost control of my breathing and got a little panicky. Yikes. I actually got mad because I had to stop for about 20 seconds and just force myself to breathe. Wasting time!

You can see my time is 40:57.. my trainer's time was 35:58, and the other guy finished at 30 minutes and change.

But, there are a couple of really cool things about the whole experience:

To date, my heaviest overhead squat is 85-pounds... and I knocked out 20 of them at 75-pounds. "Knocking out" might be too strong of a term. Have you heard the phrase "exhausted to the point of tears?" Yeah. That was what set me back so far, time-wise.

Usually when I do kettlebell swings for volume, I use the 35-pounder. This time, I used the 55. Different ballgame, folks.

Even though I was using a band for pullups, I flew through 10 of them unbroken. That's pretty sweet. Yeah, I know, I am patting myself on the back.

That's a lot of running, too. My running lately has been in the form of sprinting intervals and less about distance. Shock to my system. The funny thing about running, a mantra can really help you keep pace and your breathing on track. Or so I had heard in the past.

It came to me as I was out alone during one of the runs, that "this is what you're made of, to keep going when no one else is around." That somehow turned into "this is what I'm made of, just keep going." And then something about releasing my "inner Froening." Yes. Odd. But it rhymed. And it helped.

Never before have I ever wanted to quit in the middle of a workout. Actually quit. Just stop. My mind literally was playing scenarios in which I would physically not be able to finish the WOD. Freaked me out a little.

But you know what? I did it. I kept going. Never stopped running. Did every single rep.

Definitely tested my limits. And pushed past them. :)

Because "this is what I'm made of. I just keep going."

...and then I ate. It was glorious. Hah!

Moving on from the Lumberjack 20, I have been doing some other cool things too. Lots of volume deadlifts, lots of overhead work. I set a new PR in backsquats not too long ago. 185 for 2 reps. It made me happy. I actually tried 190 today... but failed to stand back up. Apparently that's the last half of doing a squat. Oh, darn. *snaps fingers* Eventually, I'll break 200.

Tuesday, I did some pretty sweet :30/:30 intervals. Just to clarify, that means you work for :30 seconds and rest for :30 seconds. So, the first 12 minutes, I worked up to 11.0mph, which is new. Then, I backed it down to 8.5mph and worked on the incline.. got up to an incline of 10.0, which is also new for me. Nothing like burning 500 calories in 24 minutes, eh? ;)

And today? I got to try my hand at handstand pushups. Ugh. Yes, they were fun. A little. I still need to work on my upper body strength a little, I believe.

I have been trying to overcome some more of my insecurities... nothing like forcing yourself to wear some shorts! I am not going to lie, they are sooo much nicer to work out in, especially when running outside. And neon! This horrid picture does NOT show how bright this top really is. I am trying to quench my inner ninja by wearing more color (and less black) to the gym. Yikes.

Anyway, aside from working out, not a lot going on. We met a bunch of friends for supper Sunday evening, which was a blast. They came back to our place for a while, which is funny, because we don't even have enough chairs for everyone! Oh well. That's what makes it fun, right? ;)

I haven't been too creative in the kitchen either... lots of eggs and meat plus a little full-fat dairy. I keep myself in a semi-ketogenic state most of the time. That just means keeping it pretty low-carb to induce fat-burning. Pretty basic stuff.

However, I did jump off my no-sugar band-wagon at Grandma's on Sunday. But, I think you would have to be dead not to go for a piece of rhubarb-cheesecake pie. Holy Hannah. Definitely worth the sugar crash.

Here's a great article I came across today, actually. I get asked this a lot when I explain how I eat, especially with my family history of heart disease... But what about your arteries?

And a random:
Funny bumper sticker I saw the other day.

"Free punches in the face." Yes. Love it.

I suppose... I better get back to work now. These images are not going to proof themselves. ;)

Have a great holiday weekend! Keep it safe!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eggs, part 2

Remember when I made blackened fish with a non-stick pan? Remember when it stank up the whole house? Remember when I woke up the next morning, and *I* smelled like nasty charred seasoning? Even after a shower? Ugh. Yeah, me too.



Eggs. Part 2.
(Here is eggs, part 1.)

You were warned. More was coming.

I think this was what started it. My personal own egg craze. I wanted to throw something together quick and the hubbs was eating something of his own. I threw together some bacon, peppers, turkey roast, and eggs, of course. It was delicious.

Remember my turkey roast? Remember my meatloaf? These are major players in this post.

Mm. I make up the turkey roast and keep it in the fridge. This was just seasoned with thyme and olive oil.

This meatloaf I forgot to even put an egg in... just veggies and 2 pounds of ground meat, turkey and beef. :)

One time, I added meatloaf instead of turkey. Oh yum.

One day I was really hungry.

So... turkey, bacon, meatloaf, peppers, and three eggs later...

Oh, for the love.

Then, for a bit more protein, I added turkey to my morning mix with sweet potatoes, onions, and sausage. Well, that was just incredible.

One evening, I cooked up just onions with turkey and eggs. Except I forgot I was going to be around people that night. Yikes. Sorry, folks.

One of the sweet gals from the gym gave me some pork sausage links to try... so I did.

They were quite yummy, but I was not too ecstatic about the corn flour in there. Oh well. Better than a lot of pork sausage, and it was nice to know the origin of the pigs. More on pork sausage later, though.

Just another daily breakfast with about double the amount of sweet potatoes I usually eat. I must have been prepping for a cardio day.

Then, just yesterday, I finally procured my farm-fresh eggs. Ahh.

See that lovely golden color? They match my sweet potatoes!

You better believe this was amazing. :)

I am also back to my U.S. Wellness Meats pork sausage. Seriously guys. This stuff = the bomb. (I just said "bomb" on my blog. Will that get me blacklisted? Investigated? Let's hope not.)

I have ordered three different times from them so far... and no, I'm not affiliated with them, meaning I don't make money if you all order from them. Just an honest review here. Although, I think they do offer an affiliate program.. Hm. Interesting.

Anyway, they produce an amazing email newsletter complete with tips, tricks, recipes, and more. If you follow them on Pinterest, they offer all sorts of Paleo suggestions for their products. They also have super fast shipping, and the meat I've gotten has always been still frozen.

Plus. It. tastes. incredible.

This pork sausage literally is a party in your mouth. Playing all your favorite songs. No Taylor Swift allowed. Black lights included.

And see that list? Pork, salt, rubbed sage, red and black pepper. That's it.

I was really impressed the first time I made this. Every other sausage I have seen is a gray, lifeless color. This is a beautiful pink. Mmm.

I think this alone has turned me into a morning person. Maybe. I still hesitate to call myself that, but it's becoming more true. The clock rolls around to 9:00pm and I start getting antsy to go brush my teeth. Or I fall asleep sitting up. Sad.

But if the sausage is not enough...

Hello, bacon! Not just any bacon. And not just any nitrate-free bacon.

Nitrate-free, sugar-free bacon.


Anyway, again, here's the website, please go check them out. They have smartly aligned themselves with not only the Paleo/primal community, but also the CrossFit community. To be honest, there's quite a bit of overlap there. However, I am impressed by companies that know what they are doing in the marketing/promotion/social-media aspect.

They also pride themselves in their grass-fed meats. Read more here about grass-fed meats.

Anyone else hungry now? I think I'll make eggs for supper.... ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Why my dog hates me: blackened fish

Let me preface this first by reminding you all the extent of my knowledge of preparing blackened fish: absolutely nothing.

I take that back. I once had this amazing blackened fish over a Greek salad at this awesome restaurant called Fratello's in Appleton down by the river. That was a lot of adjectives for one sentence. Sorry.

See that? Pure awesome-ness.

So, I knew that I had amazing blackened fish once. And it was seasoned with some sort of Cajun/spicy seasoning. And it was made with some kind of white fish. Yep, that's all I knew.

I was bumming around on Pinterest (where else?!) looking for recipes to try or tips on how to make it.

Found this one, got myself some white fish just for the halibut, some Cajun seasoning and went to work. How many times before the halibut joke gets old? Now? Okay. Sigh.

Did I know anything about halibut? No. Did I know anything about a cast iron pan? No. Did I know anything about smoke detectors. Yes! I did actually already know a little something about that...

So I got to work. Is halibut a good choice? Is it a firm white fish? Sure. There's probably better ones. I still don't know. Definitely not a fish expert here.

Thawed out the filets. Gross. Stupid skin.

Heated the butter. By the way. I can pretty much eat this stuff plain. So yummy. Nutrition tip: butter is slippery. Eat as much as possible to lubricate your arteries and veins.

Got out my brand spankin' new Cajun Creole seasoning.

Mixed it together with (what else?) onion and garlic powder.

Meanwhile, I had started heating my dry pan to medium high. Yes, it was non-stick. Yes, I was scared for it's life.

I dunked each filet in butter and coated each side.

I think my pan had started to smoke at this point. Quick! Must take the picture so I can get the filets in the pan! ;)

Ready for this? Here we go!

Swirling smoke!

The site I had been reading told me to let it fry 1-2 minutes per side, until it becomes flaky. I'm a horrible judge at cooking fish. So I kind of bungled my way through this part and hoped for the best.

Flip, flip, flip, and done.

Oh, did I mention the smoke detector? Heh. The poor dog. And the poor neighbor's cats. They probably thought the house was burning down.

But oh man. Would you look at that? Just look at it.

Simply amazing.

Almost worth wrecking my pan. We'll see tomorrow morning if it's still usable. ;)

In other news, not a lot is happening..

Since I mentioned her, I might as well share these cute pics of Turbs. I don't know how she puts up with us. The hubbs snuggled her in like this. She stayed there for a good 5 minutes (and let me snap multiple pics), probably just happy he left her alone for that long! ;)

Also, last week I got to flip the tire again. So. much. fun. I can't remember if it's 425 or 450 pounds, but it's a big ol' tractor tire that sits outside the gym. And gets water inside it when it rains the day before.

I got nice and muddy... I'm considering it training for the Tough Mudder in September.

Now, I'm off to buy a cast-iron pan... and replace the batteries in our smoke detector. Who's with me?!
Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietician, I do not have any type of medical training, and my workouts and training are only intended for my personal recollection and your curiosity. Anything documented on this blog is my personal opinion or a learned experience. All images are subject to a personal copyright unless otherwise noted and cannot be used without permission. If you read to the end of this, congratulations.