Drunken Chicken Tacos

drunken chicken tacos

Sometimes the world can seem like an uncertain place. People are always fighting about this or that. I think it’s always important to find what you can agree on. Well… I think most of us can agree that everybody loves tacos. There are so many ways to try to make tacos your own.

I’ve recently come back to this blog after a very long time to share some of my newer recipes that are primarily plant-based. I do still eat animal based protein on occasion due to extreme blood sugar issues while being fully vegan. Also, I’m allergic to mammal based meats and dairy… Oh yes! I’m all that complicated and a bag of sweet potato chips my friend! I share all of my fully vegan recipes separately on my blog Work Hard Eat Kind. You can even find the recipe for my Vegan Cashew Sour Cream which is whole foods based so you can avoid all the nasty chemicals in the store bought versions. It’s also insanely easy! You can of course, as always, use whatever the heck you want! That’s what this blog has always been about. But, don’t skimp on the guac dude… Guac is life. ❤

Don’t forget to share in the comments what your favorite taco toppings are!

Drunken Chicken Tacos

  • Servings: 10 Tacos Plus Extra
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

drunken chicken tacos

Ingredients:

  • 6 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning (You can find GF packets at Wal-Mart or you can make your own.)
  • 1 Beer (I used a GF, Vegan Beer from Red Bridge.)
  • Various Toppings & Sauces (Pictured are guacamole, vegan sour cream, pico de gallo, & there is some vegan nacho cheese with cabbage in the taco itself.)

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 F degrees.
  2. Remove the chicken breasts from the packaging and place on a lined baking sheet. (This makes for much easier clean up.)
  3. Add the contents of the taco seasoning packet to a small bowl.
  4. Add in enough beer until you have a saucy consistency. It shouldn’t be like water but shouldn’t be a paste either.
  5. Use a food brush to spread the sauce all over the chicken until well coated.
  6. Stick in the oven for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, the beer can burn.
  7. When it is done, take it out of the oven and shred it. Did you know you can add it to a large sturdy bowl and use your cake mixer to shred it lightning fast?
  8. Assemble your favorite taco toppings and devour. To make this fully gluten free, look for some gluten free tortillas. I love adding some nacho cheese from Hot for Food, folding, then adding it to a hot pan with olive oil to fry the tacos like in the picture above. They get puffy, and as the oil dries they get a little crispy too. Do all the taco things you love most! Most of all, enjoy!

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I’m a Survivor…

After The Tornado

April 27th, 2016 is two years since my life changed with little warning. Two years ago, April 27th, 2014 our home was destroyed by an EF-4 tornado. I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog, but today I wanted to write about being a survivor.

I don’t think anyone can truly understand how difficult this time is unless they’ve been through it themselves. It wasn’t just a damaged house… It was a house that, as you can see above, literally was swept clean. I’m standing where the front door should’ve been, and you’d be looking through our living room.

Funniest story that came from this though (because I’m having a difficult time writing about the negatives)….

We didn’t recover much of anything. You could probably fit everything we found and still have in a tote box. We did, however, find a full, unopened, fully intact bottle of tequila with a couple of our shot glasses from our first wedding anniversary trip. Never saw the fridge that it was on top of… But we found the tequila. We think maybe it’s because it was never opened.

Arial View

There were great people from all walks of life that helped us. There were also a lot of really awful people. But, I still can’t really write about the bad. Sometimes it’s just too much, even now. So let me tell you about my favorite story of someone who helped. My mother-in-law was cleaning up and a very old man walked down the street. I believe she said that he had a white beard. He was looking for my husband, who wasn’t there at the moment. He handed her an envelope. It had $100 in it. He walked back down the road and we have no clue who he was or how he knew my husband and why he decided that was for us. We nicknamed him Noah. So wherever Noah is, and whoever he is… We thank you and appreciate you and your help.

Clean UP

I’m thinking maybe my need to see the bright side is really why I feel that this definition from dictionary.com really dictates exactly how I feel 2 years later.

“survivor-noun: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.”

Rain Shaft

Storms will come. They do. They might even today. I still deal with post traumatic stress. I’m still learning how to deal with it without getting really sick afterwards. The weekly siren test just happened and I had a panic attack. I still have an on-going mental list of what we lost. I still go looking for things that we don’t have anymore. We don’t have many things and most everything we have is hand me downs. (Not that we mind! We have many nice things that are hand me downs.) There’s still many, many things we don’t have the ability to get ourselves on one income, like a bed frame for our bed (which, we’ve come to not mind), or dressers for our kid’s clothes, or new furniture. Our yard is still not recovered and not safe for our kids to play on. But, if I’m being really honest… I’d rather have my kids and husband alive and happy than to worry about the possessions. While needed, they’re not everything. And the yard… Well it’s a lot of hard work and thank goodness for Crossfit being functional fitness… I’m putting all that hard work to use and being functional for once!

I still struggle. I still have a lot of issues. I’m not the only one either. There are still plenty of family and friends that are making their own lists, and stressing any time there’s severe weather. This is not something that you just “get over.” It’s the type of situation that you will remember your entire life.

The Sun Will Rise Again

The Sun rises each morning. Life moves on. It was so hard going through this wanting to live about 3 days at a time. Truly, we can only live one at a time.. Even more so, we only have the moment that we’re in. We have to find the light in life. We can let moments like this in life redefine us for better or worse. We can allow them to make us cynical (been there), angry, depressed (been there too). Or we can allow it to make us stronger. It can give us a stronger resolve to love and enjoy life.

If I get angry about anything it’s that people waste so much time on ridiculous things. It took about 60 seconds for everything to change. It doesn’t matter what you owned, how nice your things were. Each new social media argument/controversy is pointless and petty. What you believe or who you vote for.. It really doesn’t matter. What truly matters is loving people. Appreciating each moment.

We don’t have to be victims in life. We have a choice to over come adversity. We don’t have to settle. We can be amazing. It is a choice. I choose to be a survivor.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook, Tornado Survivor

Be Present for Bad A** Moments

No One Finishes Alone

I’m usually not one to use unprofessional language… But I’ve been thinking on this title for a few days now. So here’s your warning now, if like me, you’re not a fan of curse words. I promise it’ll be mild because I’m not a fan… However, this phrase is really what I’ve been thinking of. I need that intensity to express the level of amazingness that I felt.

So here’s my story. Crossfit on Friday was an experience. I walked in uncertain of how it would go. Friday’s are usually metcons. Metcons are not my favorite. I really don’t like the pace because often times I get so out of breath that it scares me. I’m learning to deal with it and realize even my well in shape friends are just as out of breath. It just means I’m working hard.

So here’s what we did. We started our warm-up with three rounds of rows. We had to hit 100m. If we went over or under, we had to do a burpee for every meter. So, I got 103 and had to do 3 burpees. I ended up doing 3, 3, then 3. Woo hoo consistency!

We skipped stability because our coach knew this WOD would take a long time. The WOD was 5 Rounds For Time. We did a 12 calorie row, and a 200 m sled drag. It sounds simple enough, but we had a great amount of friends there and had to rotate with only 5 or 6 rowers and 5 sleds. The recommended weight for the sled drag for women was 70 lbs.

The 12 cal row went great. Got out to wait on a sled. I went ahead and did the 70 lbs the first round. I had never done a sled drag, but thankfully one of the other coaches went ahead of me, and she’s so awesome, that I just followed her. I was late enough that some people were coming back down the road ahead of me. I almost wanted to just stop and watch them. I looked at them and we usually all say, “Good job!” But…What I think I said a few times was, “Look at you!” I mean really… I wish I could have had a camera so people could see how awesome they were. I was literally surrounded by amazing people.

The first round I did the 70 pounds. It was beyond tough and I definitely struggled. So the next few rounds I dropped the weight. I was looking for sustained ability to keep moving at a reasonable pace. I did 45, 35, then 45 pounds. I got some great advice from another one of the coaches (we had several there this WOD) who told me to pull the straps up and get the sled closer to my body. I pulled from the shoulder through the middle and then yanked up the straps and ran in the last bit. We were supposed to rest for 3 minutes between. But I decided to rest 1 minute to catch my breath then did my row, because we had to wait to switch off the sleds. The last round I decided to up it to 70 pounds and to rock it out. Basically, applying everything I had learned from lowering the weight and using the techniques that worked on the lower weight rounds.

I could’ve stayed there and watched them all day long. I could’ve given a million high fives. I could have stood there with a camera and just shot a thousand photographs or recorded for hours. I was living and appreciating every second of the experience. This was a bad a** workout and my friends, are bad a** people. Not just because of their athletic ability. There were high fives, smiles, and words of encouragement. These awesome people were awesome inside and out. It was like an outbreak of awesomeness.

I stayed present in the moments, second by second. I was appreciating the amazing people around me. Everything else in the world slipped away. It was like a movie where the camera pans around to everything the character notices and you can tell they are so happy and thankful for this moment and it moving in slow motion. Nothing else in the world mattered. There was only good in the world. My troubles fell away. My stress and constant anxiety, stress over my kids, financial issues, my health and weight, anything and everything. In that moment, I was content and happy.

So I invite and encourage you to recognize these moments. Be present in these moments. These bad a** moments! The moments where you feel like you’re at home, right where your heart is. Those moments when you can encourage and accept encouragement. It doesn’t have to be at Crossfit. It could be any moment.

Just a few hours ago me, my husband, and our three kiddos went outside and we all were blowing bubbles. Well… We let the wind blow them because the wind is crazy today. They went around all over and you could see how the wind was moving. We were all smiles. That my friends was also a bad a** moment. I enjoyed every second of it.

Go seek out and recognize your bad a** moments. If you like, share some with us below! I’d love to hear what you think is one of your bad a** moments. I’m sending you lots of love and encouragement from my Common Sense Kitchen to yours. Don’t forget to come back next time and see more bad a** moments whether it’s in the kitchen, the Crossfit gym, or elsewhere.

-Ami M. Lee, Bad A** Crossfitter, Bad A** Momma, Bad A** Wife, Bad A** Common Sense Cook

Sauteed Apple Side Dish (Paleo/AIP)

Sauteed Apple Side Dish

Tonight, I was met with a small dilema. I had all of the ingredients for a really great recipe….Or so I thought. I was actually missing two ingredients. These are the times when you just have to figure it out. Our local grocery store around the corner is horrible and sparse on healthy ingredients. Running to the store was not an option.

This is the true test of a busy parent and home cook. My broiler is my bff when I’m in a pinch. I threw some chicken in for 10 minutes, seasoned with salt and pepper. The true star of this dish is the apple topping. I think this saved the whole dish! It would be great on any type of meat like chicken or pork.

Sauteed Apple Side Dish

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 Sweet Red Apples (Like Gala or Fuji)
  • Basil Infused Olive Oil
  • Fresh or Dried Organic Thyme (Both work.)
  • Pink Himalayan Salt
  1. Add olive oil to a large saute pan.
  2. Sprinkle the thyme leaves into the oil. Don’t go crazy. Just a pinch or two.
  3. Turn on the heat to medium high and allow the pan to get hot so that the apples sizzle when they hit the pan.
  4. Add the apples to the pan and stir frequently.
  5. Add a touch of pink Himalayan salt.
  6. Continue to stir frequently for 10 to 15 minutes or until the apples have started to turn a lovely, golden brown.
  7. Put on the top or side of any dish to enjoy!

This is just a simple trick to keep in your back pocket for nights when you need something extra delicious, without sacrificing hours in the kitchen. It’s fast to whip up and is out of this world! I think the basil infused olive oil gives it it’s extra oomph. You can find this ingredient at local tasting shops, online, or you might look into making your own. (When I learn how I will make sure to share my experience.)

I hope you enjoy this little tid bit of a recipe. I’m sending you sweet side dishes from my Common Sense Kitchen to yours. Make sure you come back next time to see what this Improvising, Infused Olive Oil Love, Common Sense Cook will do. Don’t forget you can subscribe for an email notification, follow me on Facebook and many more social media platforms.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

Chicken Cordon Bleu (Gluten Free)

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I’m sure you might have noticed that I haven’t written a recipe in a while. I have just been in a food funk. I’ve been training for the physical test I’ve mentioned in my previous posts. I’ve stuck with the same old same old. I could write some recipe reviews… But I’ve just needed something that was astounding. Something to knock the socks off my taste buds.

I went to the books I had on hand for inspiration. I had one book in particular that I hadn’t really looked at in a while… I’m not a fan of their recipes because they use a lot of “gut irritants” in their recipes even though they’re technically gluten free. They’re far from Paleo and AIP. But…I keep them on hand. You never know when they’ll inspire you. Anyone who has read a recipe of mine might know… I don’t follow recipes often. I’ve been doing this enough, I can look at a recipe and tweak it to our personal dietary needs.

Here we go…

Chicken Cordon Bleu (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Thinly Sliced Chicken Breast (You can pound it thin with a mallet.)
  • Thinly Sliced Ham
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Swiss Cheese
  • 2 eggs or A Flax Egg (For Egg Free Option: 6 Tbsp. Water, 3 Tbsp. Flax Seed)
  • Finely Ground Almond Flour (Blanched Almond Flour works best.)
  • Blanched Slivered Almonds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F (175 C)
  2. Depending on whether you tolerate eggs or not, mix the eggs with some salt and pepper, or mix up your flax egg. Set it aside.
  3. Use a food processor to turn the blanched slivered almonds into bread crumb sized pieces. Don’t over process or it’ll turn to almond butter.
  4. Pound your chicken breasts thinly between two pieces of plastic wrap.
  5. Add the ham and two cheeses onto the chicken and roll them tightly.
  6. Place a toothpick so that it does not come open and place the roll seam side down.
  7. Dip each roll, carefully, in the almond flour.
  8. Dip into egg or flax egg mixture.
  9. Roll in the almond “crumbs.”
  10. Place in a deep casserole dish, spaced evenly.
  11. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F (74 C). You can check this carefully by using a meat thermometer. If you don’t have one, don’t be afraid to just cut it open. Better safe than sorry with chicken.
  12. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

You can enjoy this recipe with a salad, like picture above, or you could add another of your favorite sides. I think asparagus or cauliflower mash would be very yummy. I remember what the conventional, frozen cordon bleu tasted like. It has that an enhanced flavor with half the over processed ingredients, and 10 times the satisfaction of a job well done.

I do hope if you try it that you enjoy. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below. Feel free, also, to experiment! Try it without the breading. Try it using crumbed pumpkin seeds… Go crazy! You have my permission to make this awesome dish awesome, in whatever way that means for you.

I’m sending you an old family classic, remade, from my Common Sense Kitchen to yours. Come back next time to see what this Paleo and AIP, Crossfitter, Professional Encourager, Common Sense Cook will come up with next.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

Goals, Goals, Goals

The title of this post has been my war cry for the last few weeks. Goals, goals, goals! Any time I’m in Crossfit and facing a tough challenge… I just say, “Goals, goals, goals.” If I think…Oh maybe I could get away with eating a little bit of gluten… Or even some gluten free cookies… Or something that’s just “not the best” when you’re training for a goal… Goals, goals, goals.

I have started to realize that this has helped me keep my goals in mind. Any time I’m sore and want to quit… Goals, goals, goals. And so on…so forth…

So.. Would you guys like to see my progress? Hear some stats? I’m a little excited to share. Can you tell?

Update

I shared this with my family and friends a few days ago. But…What I failed to say was, I know that in the picture in December… I was still happy with that progress. A few months before when I received this shirt from a family member…It didn’t fit right or look right. I was happy in December that the shirt looked much better. I had been walking almost daily for about a month before the first picture was taking.

Now…For the current picture… I was a bit shocked. I haven’t lost weight since starting Crossfit. I haven’t gotten to a smaller pants size but I’m thinking I’m nearly there. (Will probably pull out the next size smaller jeans I have and check soon.) My shoulders look like they’re in better proportion. “The girls” look like they’re happier (thank you new bra). Although…That new bra I mentioned was a cup size smaller and I nearly went down in the band too. Also…For the first time in a long time, I look like I actually have a neck.

What you can’t really see in this picture is my legs. They’ve slimmed down and most of my jeans do not fit in the legs anymore and look quite baggy. My arms have also slimmed up too. I’m also told that my behind looks better…Thank you to my sweet husband for that info.

I’ve been doing Crossfit about a month now and I’ve seen those amazing “beginner gains” that you may have heard of. My first back squat on week 2 was maxed at 75 pounds. Last week I maxed at 125 pounds and probably could have gone up if I would have had more time. I’ve gone from a 35 pound thruster and falling on my rear to doing 75 pounds in time and 95 pounds after time was up. I kept trying for that 95 in time, but I needed a little encouragement just to get under the dang bar. I was able to run this morning (in the rain, mind you) down the road and back, around 400 meters in about 2 minutes and 50 seconds. A great improvement over a month ago. Squats are most definitely my favorite but I was able to do dead lifts on Tuesday of this week for the first time and loved those as well. I pulled 75 pounds for sure. I think I could’ve done more if I wasn’t using the same bar for 10 rounds of other movements too. We’ll see if I get a max on it sometime soon, I hope. Oh, and I did a 500 m row in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Which is not something I think I was capable of a month ago and at the end of a pretty tough workout. I’ve even managed to be able to get my knees up while hanging on the bar (in practicing toes to bar). At first…Any work with the bars (or using the rings) and hanging scared me to death. I can even do jump ropes pretty well. There’s plenty of amazing things I’m probably forgetting that I’m good at too. I still have plenty of new things to learn, I’m sure… But, it makes me feel so good every time I’m able to complete a movement, emom, or amrap.

Am I perfect? No. I definitely have a lot of learning to do on my journey. I think that’s why I like Crossfit so much. I am learning in every class. Questions are never discouraged. Everyone cheers everyone on. We all look out for one another to make sure we don’t get injured. I think the environment is just a healthy for me as the workout.

I think having goals in the gym have been helpful too. Not just my personal goal of passing this physical test. When I went in for back squats the last time, I was determined to get over 10o pounds. I knew I was good enough on form. I just had to get the strength. Mentally and physically. I could’ve stopped at 95. But, I was so determined to get over 100 that I went to 125. Was I sore? Sure was… But I jumped up in the air, and high fived my coach and I knew, right then and there… I AM a strong *bleep* lady! I can hit my goals.

So this mantra of mine… I say it to myself often. It’s just a simple repetition of one word. If I find myself wanting to stray from my path…It’s my song that carries me back to the road. It’s my battle cry.

Even if I don’t pass this physical test on Sunday…I know I hit my goals. I know I’m better in the end. I know there’s next time. I know I invested, time, money, and energy into being my best self. I can have the confidence that I am a truly amazing person.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this to come up with their own little mantra for their goals. What is your goal? What is your short mantra? That one word that could get you back on track. (Do feel free to share in the comments!) How can you keep steering yourself in the right direction? A simple phrase. Goals, goals, goals!

I thank all of you for being on this journey with me. Know that there is a lot of love and appreciation going out to you. None of this would be possible without the love and understanding of my amazing husband, our parents, and a few good friends.

I look forward to updating you guys after Sunday. I can’t wait to see where this journey will take me. I hope you’ll come back and go with me. I also promise…I will try to get up a recipe by then too! Don’t forget you can subscribe and get a notification when I post. Or you can follow me over on Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, or Twitter (links on the About Page and side bar) so that you can follow all of the other shenanigans I post.

Keep Going My Friends,

-Ami M. Lee, Dead Lifting, Back Squatting, Crossfitter, Common Sense Cook

P.S. I seriously, now, want a shirt like Viv (@MissVFit on Instagram) that says, “I Can Dead Lift You.” For real… Check it out. This is a great company… http://thick-to-thin.com/product/i-can-deadlift-you/ (Not sponsored..Just a fan.)

CrossFit: My First Week

Walking

Hello Friends! Yes.. You read the title correctly. This gal went to check out my local CrossFit Gym last week! WOOOOOOO!!!! (Can you ready my level of endorphins?) Let’s back up for a moment though to tell you how I got to this point.

Back in November 2015 I had been listening to an Elliott Hulse video. I had heard it 100 times. If you want to lose weight, start out with going for an hour walk every morning. Listen to audio books and educate yourself while you walk. That one day in November I dropped my kids off at school, pulled in the driveway and something was calling to me. I looked down my little dead end road and took off. Well turns out there’s a new road down there making it much longer than our little street.

I’ve been walking almost every day I could. I even got a FitBit for Christmas that is very helpful. I’ve gotten very consistent. As long as it’s not raining…I’m walking. I’ve done up to 4 miles in one morning. I often hit 5 miles with regular activity walking. I am feeling great! And actually… If you take a look at this picture… I even look a little different. Which still freaks me out a bit… But that’s for another post.

December to February

Left- December 2015, Right – February 2016

A couple weeks ago I decided on a really tough goal. I haven’t really told anyone but the key players in my life what the goal is. But basically, it’s a physical test. Both strength and agility are necessary. It’s a big goal. HUGE goal. Especially considering my fitness level at the moment. But, I have a a little under month.

To reach this goal, I came to the conclusion that I need more help. I can’t do this by myself. I knew CrossFit might be the perfect match of what I need for this test. It has a lot of strength and speed.

But I was SO nervous! I try to stay pretty grounded about where I am at. I’m still 270 pounds. While I know I’ve come a very long way in the last few months… I know I need a lot of work.

I messaged the gym and asked them when a good time would be. I picked up the kids from school and headed that way. I had my workout clothes on just in case. I didn’t know if they’d want to let me try something.

I walked in and met one of the female trainers. She showed me around to the owner. I was a little intimidated but he kept it really cool and put me at ease within minutes. There was no judgment, or questions about my size/health/weight.

We warmed up with rowing. It’s not something I’ve done before and frankly… My rhythm sucks! My husband was a drummer in high school and he has that inner rhythm that is unmatched. I couldn’t tap out a cadence to save my life. Thankfully, the owner was my coach and he was very patient and great at explaining it in easy and understandable language. It was a really great warm up.

Next was wall balls. Fun at first… I loved how the coach gave great tips on form and encouraged me as I was doing the movements. My biggest issue was keeping my heels on the ground. But… Interestingly enough… That’s one of my biggest issues I’ve noticed during workouts on my own for years.

Next, we did box jumps. It was a great, padded box. I’m not sure how high it was but this was one of my goals! Jumping at this weight is pretty scary. I did it several times to learn the movement. Then…

We did a 7 minute circuit of 7 wall balls and 7 box jumps or step ups. Let me tell you… I pushed harder than I ever imagined that I could all thanks to the coach. I got 3 in and thought I was going to have to give up. He says… “I think you can fit in two more. You can do it!” I look at my board… I keep repeating my workout mantra… Your mind quits before your body. Keep going. I got those two more in plus 7. He said my score was a 77. Not sure what that means, but it’s better than just 7.

I was pretty sore the next day but I ended up going back in for a full wod (workout of the day). This was an amazing experience. I was scared. Nervous. Sore as could be. Mainly my quads. Here’s what we did:

  • 100 m rows then 3 burpees for 3 rounds
  • Back squat, 1 Rep per Minute, Maxed at 75 pounds, 2 reps
  • Modified Pull Ups (5) and Push Press, 35 pounds (5), for 7 rounds

I was so proud of myself. I didn’t realize I was this strong! Back squatting 75 pounds!? I thought I would have to stop at 55 pounds but my partner bumped it up and I said…What the hell. I’ll try it. I did it. Twice! I even did modified pull ups for the first time in my entire life! I’ve NEVER been able to do a pull up. I nearly cried because I was given a modification and I was able to do it. I was on top of the world.

Julia Child What The Hell Quote

In cooking and in life…

Well… Shortly after I started to feel like I fell off it and dropped into rock bottom in some other universe. The soreness was terrible. I did the best I could. Magnesium. Epsom salt bath. Valerian Root at bed time.. But it didn’t budge. I was strongly considering not going the next day. I was really struggling with my count down and not wanting to miss one day. That test will be here in no time!

One of the coaches encouraged me to go ahead and come in. Even if you just do some rows she said… It’ll be fine she said. ^__^ So wod number 2, day 3… I barely got through it. I was screaming every time I had to get on the ground. Burpees were more like hell that I could ever imagine them being. Here’s what we did:

  • 1 Minute/1 Rep with Partners, 5 push press, 5 burpees (3 Rounds)
  • Partners, 3 Rounds, plank (modified 1 min, 1 min 10 secs, 1 min 20 secs), Toes to Bars (That I could not do, so alternated raising each knee.) 10 per round, 200 m rows per round

Don’t get me wrong. When I was working out…towards the end, I started to feel better. But, seriously… I was in a ton of pain. I couldn’t make up my mind… Do I work through it or do I need to rest? I told my coach I would probably wait till Monday and skip Sunday yoga simply because I was in pain.

At the time, I didn’t realize how bad it would get. I won’t be doing three consecutive days for a while. I went too far. I couldn’t get up and down off the toilet without screaming. My quads felt like they had been torn in half. My shoulders  and arms were beyond sore and heavy. I kept doing the same things. Magnesium. Epsom Salts. Valerian Root. (Lather, rinse, repeat.) I didn’t end up going on Monday. I felt like I really needed to fully recover. I’m wanting to keep it reasonable with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday so I went back on Wednesday.

I’m so glad I waited till Wednesday. I woke up excited to go. I was so ready to get back in the Crossfit Gym. I was ready to seize the day! I was definitely not disappointed. I really enjoyed this one and while it was tough…I didn’t end up screaming in pain when it was done.

  • 5 Rounds of Running, 1-200 m and 4-100m (I had to cut it down to modify.)
  • 3 Rounds of 10 weighted sit ups and 10 supermans
  • 5 Rounds of 35 pound bar thrusters and 50 cone jumps that I had to turn into cone steps.

I thought I might have to drop the weights on the bar… I thought it was interesting that it actually got easier. I was really trying to keep my corrections in mind. I love that my coaches will give me good advice and will watch me for form. The last thing I want to do is hurt myself because of bad form. The main things I’m thinking about are keeping my heels down, and bending my knees so that I can keep my back straight while lifting. It’s really tough not being able to see myself in a mirror. But, thankfully, if I say “Hey, how’s this look…I feel like this issues is happening…” My coaches are really responsive and helpful and they don’t seem like they’re ever bothered by a questions.

My hips ended up a little sore, but I’ve worked it out. I’m feeling great today! I went shopping earlier, no problems. No problems sitting or standing. I am interested to see how everything turns out tomorrow and the chiropractor. My body has been responding well to the adjustments and my body is holding it’s appropriate balance easier than expected.

Overall, this entire experience has been amazing. I’ve tested my boundaries and pushed myself further than I could. I proved to myself that I am strong. I am fulfilling my dreams and my goals. Best of all, I found a supportive environment with amazing people. I’m not sure how to thank all of the wonderful people at Crossfit Conway and how they’ve positively influenced me in such a short amount of time. Regardless of what happens, I will always cherish this time and being able to feel like I’m not the fat kid at camp.

I can’t tell you how much that matters to me. No, I can’t do what the other athletes are doing. But, they’ve been at this a lot longer. Instead of looking at the others feeling intimidated, me and some of the other newer people say, “Oh look what we’ll be able to do some day.” I feel encouraged, and uplifted. I never feel like I’m a burden or taking away attention from the others. I feel empowered. I can’t wait to go in, in the morning.

Don’t ever give up on your goals and dreams! I never thought I could do this a year ago, or even six months ago. Don’t give up on trying to get better. You may be on the long way round like me, but keep going. Your success story may be beginning now.

I love you guys! Thank you for all of your support in all my efforts to share my journey. Know that you are appreciated and I hope to share more and reveal my goal next month. Be happy. Show compassion. Never forget what Steph Gaudreau says. “Happier. Healthier. And Harder to Kill.” That’s my goal.

-Ami M. Lee, Crossfitter, Goal Setting, The Common Sense Cook

 

Olive Tapenade (Paleo/AIP/Vegan)

Angel's

Angel’s in Hot Springs, AR

My husband and I were married in March of 2013 and while we couldn’t afford a honeymoon, we could afford to go down to Hot Springs for the day. We had a beautiful day with beautiful weather and happened upon Angel’s for lunch. We returned last year on our second anniversary and even though it was rainy, it was a beautiful lunch looking out the large windows. The food is amazing. It’s not really aip paleo friendly, but I happened to pick out a salad that was really great with grilled salmon.

My fondest memory of food at Angel’s is their olive dip. I’ve done a few different recreations of it and have found a great version that works for my AIP journey. If you’re not paleo you could totally throw this on some crusty bread. We enjoy it on some cucumbers and the kids have enjoyed it with carrot chips.

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Olive Tapenade

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Jar of Kalamata or Black Olives (Try both! Already pitted olives makes this recipe a little easier. Check the ingredients for junk. Keep it as clean as you can.)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Green Onions (Or to your taste. I’ve been obsessed with green onion lately.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Olive Oil (Best quality you can afford.)
  • Pink Himalayan Salt and Cracked Pepper, To Taste (Omit pepper for AIP.)

Instructions:

  1. Drain the olives in a fine strainer and rinse with cool water. This can help reduce the chances of finding fragments of pits in your tapenade.
  2. Dry them off with some paper towel.
  3. Use a sharp knife to cut up the olives. You may need to do this a hand full at a time. Take your time and do it how you like. You could puree this, but I’m not a fan of the texture when it’s pureed.
  4. Mince your clove of garlic and your green onions. Add it to a bowel with the olives.
  5. Add enough olive oil to coat the ingredients and stir.
  6. You can eat it now, or throw it in the fridge for a bit.
  7. When you’re ready to eat, pile it on your favorite snack delivery device be it cucumbers, costini, or otherwise. You can also top it with sliced almonds for some added texture and crunch.

It may seem cheesy, but this recipe warms my heart because it takes me back to some really great memories with my husband. He’s the love of my life and this recipe will always take me back to the best moments we’ve shared. Rain or shine, we have each other.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Feel free to add things to this! A traditional tapenade has capers and anchovies and I’m considering trying to come up with something like that soon. I’ll be sure to share if I figure it out. Do you have a recipe that brings back good memories? Share with us in the comment section below!

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

The Fear of Losing Weight

I’ve had my mind on this post for a while… But, like many things (and the 5 drafts I have saved for other posts), I take time to think out what I write. I want to make sure that I know what I want to say on a subject. But this picture below happened and yeah…The fear was a little more real than contemplating how I would feel IF…

Five Pounds Down

It’s taken about a month, but yes. According to my scale, I have lost 5 pounds. I try and go a long time without weighing because I can get obsessively and easily discouraged. I try to wait two weeks between. I weigh in the morning after I go to the bathroom. You know… All the tricks. LOL Because naturally, my weight does go up slightly after breakfast, working out, and just living the day. Why is there fear instead of excitement?

younger versions of me

Red Shirt (15), Green Shirt (13)

I don’t have picture of me younger and these are just because I took a picture and put on Facebook. But, these are pictures of me as a younger kid. Thirteen and Fifteen years old. You can see, I was a big kid. Really, I’ve been a bigger kid most of my life. I mean, I remember in First Grade having a kid make fun of me for me being fat and telling her, “No I’m not! I lost weight over the summer!” I was maybe 6 or 7 years old. High School was probably my best because I actually lost a good amount of weight. I think my lowest was 191 and I could wear size 13 jeans.

But, as life often does, it gets stressful, there’s drama. You end up on your own and dirt broke and unable to buy any food let alone healthy food. It’s the time where you just learn how to survive and in that time my health suffered and my weight exploded.

2008 Jacob's Graduation

This picture isn’t that bad. But, this was before I had kiddos. I was okay with how I looked. I was heavy but it was in all the right places.

Then we have some babies. In the picture on the left I was about 255. I actually lost a lot of weight while I was pregnant. But as you can see in the picture on the right. I gained it all back and then some. The picture on the right was in 2012 and I was beginning my blogging journey. I knew that something wasn’t right and I needed to do something about it…

But a running theme in my life is… Things happen. Life gets stressful. December 2012 was when I met my husband.

I met My Husband

Me and My Husband Nick

We were married, we ended up having a great year of our first marriage. It was like a fairy tale. Then… Are you guys getting this yet? Life turns stressful and stuff happens. Well, a tornado destroying everything we have…happened. We were homeless for 4 months and try as hard as I could, I couldn’t really stay 100% gluten free. This is when I realized that something was very wrong.

I couldn’t stay awake. Probably for a good 4 months or more I slept most of the days away. I just couldn’t stay awake. I had lots of migraines. I discovered a lot of it was contributed to a severe reaction to caffeine. But… I was also not okay upstairs. I figured I had just been through a lot..

Hind sight says (because you know it’s so wise) I could have had an autoimmune flare. I’ve had low thyroid numbers but you know what they say.. “Low but in range…” I think instead of having a lot of emotional issues from the tornado, I actually ended up physically reacting to what happened. But, when our house was back I had a new resolve to get healthy and figure this out. I was going to dedicate myself to Paleo. I got through that whole year without a soda. I thought I could conquer the world.

Unfortunately, this situation lead me right to the brink of my fears. I was standing on a scale in someone else’s house and it happened. And I panicked. I cried. Yes. I’ve never admitted this to anyone…But it said 300 pounds. (So technically, since then I’ve lost 25 pounds in 2 years.)

Well, as you guys may know I’ve been working hard this last year with AIP and discovering food allergies and testing my iron will. I’ve seen a natural doctor and added some supplements. I’m finally on the rebound from all of this. It’s been nearly 6 years of ups and downs trying to figure out how to lose weight. Fighting, clawing, failing, crying, retrying, fighting some more. I may have hypothyroidism and celiac but I’m on the right track to healing.

Flash forward through all that mess and here I am. Just walking. Every day I get a chance. This week was the first week since I started November 13th that I didn’t have any obstacles in my way. I did all 5 days. Which…Yes I’m kind of paying for but you know… It’ll get better. I have been working hard and for once in my long time of working at this..I’m seeing progress. Actual scale victories. There are only so many *bleeping* times you can be like…Well my face is clearer…and you know my mind isn’t so foggy…and you know this non-scale victory that…yeah…

And then this morning… I realized I lost 5 pounds and a twinge of fear hit me. I’ve been through so much I deserve this! But, at the same time there’s the fear I have of actually losing weight. What if I do get down to my goal? I want to lost 80 to 100 pounds. What if I actually pull it off? Hell…What if I just get to my initial short term goal of 250!? I haven’t been there since I was pregnant with Mark in 2011!

My biggest issue is that I am a very self-conscious person. I do not like getting the attention of other men. I’ve gotten attention from men since I was 16 and had started to develop. Yes.. My big ole tata’s y’all. I’ll say it. I am not one to feel flattered. I don’t want your attention. I don’t want to have to catch you looking down. Yes men, we notice. It’s rude. And, I’m not one to often show off my cleavage because of this (rare exception in that picture above…I normally crop it out).

Truth be told…I probably have a stronger reaction to these types of things because I have been sexually abused in the past. While I know I’m stronger physically and mentally…I just really have a strong aversion to getting attention. I wear the baggy clothes. I cover up the tatas. But that fear is there. What if I lose weight and people look at me differently.

There’s also the all too real thoughts about…Will people treat me differently if I am smaller? Don’t get me wrong…I think most of my friends and family will be happy and they won’t treat me any different. But, if the employees at Sephora actually would ask me if I need help….. Yes..It happens. I am always ignored. I think I would just be so very disappointed. Disappointed with people in general.

It takes a lot of self positive talk to get me through a day. You can ask my dear hubsy how many times I rethink an outfit because I want to look presentable. It takes a lot to love myself and be okay with where I am. It’s scary thinking about what I may deal with if I do lose the weight I want to.

It seems silly to think that I have a fear of losing weight. But, I think it is a real feeling that many of us could have. It’s not that we’re so scared we won’t lose weight, or maybe there are. Maybe fear keeps us from trying to reach our full potential weight loss. I think it takes a lot of love and courage to drastically change your appearance and still end up loving yourself at the end of the day no matter what.

Really…Maybe that is my point. The fear is there, but we have to love ourselves right through it. We have to forgive ourselves for years of struggles and not feeling like “we got it right.” It’s a daily choice. It’s moment by moment how we live. We have to choose to put every moment into a positive place. I have to do this for me. That way I can become the strongest version of myself. So that no matter what may come, I can still keep the journey going.

Ami

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say about that. Go shine you’re beauty out into the world. Spread peace and happiness. Do the corny positive self talk. It really does work. Keep fighting. Keep growing stronger. Make sure to come back next time too! I have an epic recipe coming up that I hope you will all enjoy.

Go soak up the sunshine.

-Ami M. Lee, The Common Sense Cook

Judging A Book By The Cover

me in my workout clothes

Me in My New Ostentatious Yoga Pants

I had an experience the other day that’s been on my mind for a few days now. A young girl decided to yell out of her car across a grocery store parking lot “marshmallow!” Now…I was thoroughly confused by this situation for a few reasons. I didn’t see anyone else around. I guess she was talking about me? But really? Marshmallow?

I really was like…. It’s the 21st century. Who in the world yells insults at random people? But, I guess it’s easy for me to forget that there are some messed up people out there. I forget sometimes that there are mean people and that some people encounter them more often than I do. Even if I’m mistaken and I just missed the person they were yelling to. But…Someone out there is probably dealing with these mean people.

You can’t really judge a book by it’s cover. There’s also a lot of back and forth about whether body positivity is a good thing, or allowing people to be complacent. Can you tell if someone who is confident and okay with where they are now is also complacent? Can you even tell who is complacent or who is working their rear off for years on end to get any progress?

Here’s the thing… Could you tell from my picture up there that I did this?

fit bit

It may not be an athletic caliber day, but I’ve done 4 miles just for my morning walk. I may not go beast mode in the gym (yet) but it is a goal.

If you don’t know me, I doubt you could see the struggle I’ve gone through with my health. I haven’t had a soda in 2 years now. Coffee has been out for over a year. I rarely get to eat anything sweet. I rarely ever go off my paleo plan, and usually suffer greatly if I do. I take more supplements than most sick people. I work, read, research, try and try and try again just so I can stay awake during the day. I’ve had no help from medical doctors and have really just had to rely on my n=1 experiments and a local naturopath to get me up off rock bottom.

If you don’t know me, you probably don’t know about the mental health struggles I had before going paleo and that I was misdiagnosed and improperly medicated by a primary care physician. It takes daily self talk, positivity, and help to be able to maintain a positive attitude.

me and the yoga mat

Yoga has been the cornerstone of my positive attitude. Yoga helps me find my center and try to have a better perspective. I also read up on Buddhism because it aligns with how my soul feels how we should be in the world. That unending compassion and recognizing that we’re all human and interconnected.

I think sometimes this is why I forget about those people. I would rather think the best of others. I would rather smile and be that positive influence in the world. I want you to leave my presence a little happier.

Am I perfect? Oh definitely not. I was having a pretty negative conversation about a very negative person the other day. But you know, sometimes you have to have that moment to get those negative thoughts out. Vent in an appropriate way so that if you encounter this person, you don’t have all that negativity built up. You’ve had time to talk it out and deal with your issues.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to say here. There are better ways to deal with your own issues rather than lashing out at others, especially strangers. You have to consider that that mean comment might not go to someone as centered as me. People have and do commit suicide because they feel constantly ridiculed and berated from everyone around them. Nobody deserves that kind of unkindness. If you feel the need to lash out at others, consider what’s wrong with you and your situation, instead of what could be wrong with others.

Making fun of me doesn’t really hurt me. If anything it makes the other person look silly. They don’t know me and know how hard I work. Maybe that’s another great point.

Know yourself. Thankfully I know I’m not a marshmallow (although I hope some people think I’m that sweet…HE HE HE). If anything this has proven that I have great confidence in my abilities. I know what I do. I know I work hard and have gotten my supplements going well. I know I am so far away from where I was 2 years ago. If anything it’s helped me stop and reflect on the amazing things I’ve been able to do.

I may not have lost 100 pounds (yet) and it may take me years to do it. I may not run marathons (yet) or do crossfit (yet). But I work on it daily. I work on my health daily by making good food choices, taking my supplements, getting more active.

What are my results?

I’ve lost about 20 pounds and kept it off this last year. Not much, not enough, but I’m proud of it. I have destroyed the supposed mental disorder I was diagnosed with and doubt that any professional could diagnosis me as such. I am happier. I am better able to handle life. My skin isn’t perfect, but much clearer. I am able to stay awake most days without naps, where I used to pass out for 3 hours every day. I’ve had maybe 1 or 2 migraines all year (instead of every other day). I’ve even gotten my cycle in order. My energy has finally come back. I’m  walk 2-4 miles in the morning 4 days a week and go for 1 mile on off days. I am able to take care of my children. I am able to take care of my husband. They really are the reason I work so hard. This amazing man and our  beautiful children.

DSCN4364

So my friends I encourage you to not judge a book by it’s cover. It could even be the opposite. Really, in the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too whatever. What really counts is how you are as a person. The good you leave in the world. Don’t judge the book by the cover, or the person. Judge it by their heart and their attitude.

That’s it! That’s the end of my ranting and venting. I hope this helps someone out there who may encounter these unkind people. Let it remind you of all the awesome stuff you do and the good that you try to put out into the world. Don’t let it discourage you, let it give you courage to keep going. Keep up your awesomeness my friends.

If anything I love you and thank you for supporting me here on this blog. Now go be awesome and I’ll be doing the same.

-Ami M. Lee, Growing Stronger, The Common Sense Cook