Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Entering the Zone

Today's recipe: Berry Bowl

 UPDATE: CrossFit Santa Cruz and my website were featured in The Santa Cruz Sentinel today!  Check it out here: Healthy Lift: CrossFit Santa Cruz, others touting unprocessed meat, veggies as top diet essentials from 1-12-11.  I'm SO excited and appreciative!

It's post holidays and back on the meal plan of meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.  I usually just eat meat and veggies and lots of healthy fats: omega-3 fish oil, pastured butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.  Over the holidays, some ice cream and gluten-free treats crept in and it was surprising how little it took to completely override my taste buds.  When I am "on the plan," I crave nothing but meat and fat and fatty meat.  When I am "off the plan," sugar supersedes my love of meat and fat and I go hog wild for chocolate and gluten-free fudge cookies or flourless chocolate tortes crumbled into vanilla ice cream.  I know I am on the dark side when I wander the sweets aisle lusting after every forbidden delight.

So now I'm back on track and I've found a great way to get my taste buds back on track in a healthy way.  If I crave sugar, I'll give myself sugar the healthy way: Fruit!  There is nothing so divine as a steaming bowl full of blueberries and coconut milk, sprinkled liberally with Ceylon cinnamon of course! (what don't I put cinnamon on?)

My CrossFit gym is embarking on a new event for a new year: two weeks of weighing and measuring, Zone-style starting this weekend.  For more details on the Zone, check out founder Barry Sear's site:  Basically you categorize foods as either proteins, fats, or carbohydrates (or some combos) based on their highest macronutrient.  Then you try to balance your protein, fat, and carbohydrate at every meal and eat only enough to support your lean body mass.

 Now I've been on the Zone and it has worked great--I was even a gym winner in the Zone improvement challenge years ago.  But then I found the Paleo Diet and became lax on the weighing and measuring and proportioning side of my diet.  I still weigh and measure almost all of my meat on a daily basis so that I don't often indulge knowingly in over 12 blocks.  But I have definitely been slacking in the other areas, lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat.

So here is my challenge: I am going to embark on Paleo-Zone at least for two weeks.  Unfortunately, my last Zone foray was before Paleo-style, so many of my old recipes included grains.  Since I can't fall back on them, this is a fresh new start.

I know I have been splurging a little in the fat department if only a 1/3 of a teaspoon of butter is a block.  Just a little splurging ;)  I also haven't been eating much in the way of carbohydrates according to the Zone.  Right now I fill the skillet with kale and chard in the morning, have a whole container full of arugula or spinach or both for lunch and often have broccoli or cauliflower for dinner, but this is a drop in the bucket for the Zone.  One block of cooked kale is 2 cups.  One block of arugula is 10 cups. One block of cooked broccoli is 3 cups.  So I think if I am going to give this challenge a good try, I have to start eating the other forgotten parts of my prescription: little fruit and some starch.  I'll stick with vegetable-based starches (plantains and root veggies sound enticing) and low glycemic fruits (like berries and apples) as much as possible to get in some more blocks without having to eat 10 cups of greens for every block :)

So my recipe today can be Zoned.  I tried it out with a rotisserie chicken from New Leaf market as my protein (1oz per block), frozen blueberries (1/2 cup per block), and coconut milk (about 1T per block*).  I had my protein SLOWLY to make it last longer before my berry bowl and then enjoyed my berries as if a dessert.  The fat makes it satisfying and the sweet hits your sweet-tooth on the spot.  Delicious!

Berry Bowl shown using a two-block serving

Berry Bowl
Sweet enough to drown your craving for sugar, rich enough to keep you satisfied after you lick the bowl. 
Preparation: 5min using a microwave, probably less than 10min for stove-top

Organic frozen (or fresh) blueberries, 1/2 cup per block
Organic coconut milk (preservative free if possible, read those labels closely!), about 1T per block*
Ceylon cinnamon (for more on why it should be Ceylon instead of regular, old Cassia, see this post: Apple of My Eye), free on the Zone diet (yay!)

Measure your desired blockage of blueberries and place them in a microwave-safe bowl (read: NOT plastic) or small pot or skillet to heat on the stove.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon.

Heat the berries until hot but not mush (1-2min in the microwave if you are going that route, depending upon quantity and microwave).  When they're hot, measure and add your coconut milk (alternatively, you could add it before heating, but I like it thicker like after refrigeration instead of thin like it gets after heating).  Stir, taste, and add more cinnamon if desired and I ALWAYS desire :)  Enjoy a healthy, seems-like-an-indulgence-but-isn't bowl!

Check back for more Paleo-Zone support!

*My brand of coconut milk has 14g of fat for a 1/3 cup, so if I take 3g of fat per block, that's about 4.6 blocks in that 1/3 cup.  Since 1/3 cup is about 5.3 tablespoons, that means one block is just over a tablespoon (assuming my horrendous math skills are correct).  I take that as a green light to be a little bit more liberal in my tablespoon measurement.  But of course, the consistency of the coconut milk would make a difference too: after refrigeration it's thick, but a fresh can might be watery.  Brands vary too.  Therefore, be your own Zone judge.  The bigger picture is just to be mindful of what you are eating :)

Join us for this two week experiment!  To find out more, visit CrossFit Santa Cruz.  For more information on Paleo-Zone, or "Zoleo" as our friends at Nutrionize like to call it, check out their informative post on the subject: The Zoleo Philosophy.  And please ask if you have any questions!

This post and many others are part of Modern Paleo's Paleo Rodeo posted at the end of each week.  Please check it out HERE.


  1. I am working on tomorrows post. I have something on there about blueberries. Yours is HOT (warm) and mine is cold!!! Thanks for sharing this warm blueberry treat!

  2. Sounds great, Lindsey! Can't wait to read it!

  3. Hello Kristy! I'm chiming in from the East Coast, Baystate Crossfit. It is so funny that I happened to check in on your blog today, I have many CrossFit and Paleo/Zone sites bookmarked and can't seem to keep up with them all. But, I teach and we had a snow day today:) Anyway, similarly to you, I have also had experience with the Zone Diet before making the switch to a Paleo Lifestyle. Cutting out dairy had significant positive results for me. I have been eating Paleo for about 1 1/2 years and feel really good, however I just today decided to try a Paleo/Zone diet to reset my portions and see if it has any positive effects for me. I'll be interested to see how this modification goes for you.

    Oh, and your recipe reminded me of a snack that I enjoy... Trader Joe's Spiced Chunky Applesauce, blueberries (or other berries), a spoonful of almond butter, and some egg white protein powder. Yum! I was excited to try your recipe but I was out of coconut milk:(

    It is awesome to be able to find so many like minded individuals through the CrossFit community!

  4. Hi Nicole,
    I'm from New Jersey, so I remember those snow days growing up there. You've had a harsh winter so far! SO glad to have you find my site and start this Zone challenge too! Let me know how the Zone works for you, especially since you are embarking on Paleo-Zone. Your recipe sounds delicious! I will have to try almond butter mixed in with the fruit. I wonder if I can simulate that old PB&J taste I fondly remember! Thanks again for sharing!
    Best wishes,

  5. Just made this with strawberries and bananas and (regular cinnamon) and it was great!! thanks

  6. Awesome, Shirley! Glad you liked it! :)
    Best wishes,