Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bacon Sweet Potato Sexytime!

I love bacon and I love sweet potatoes, especially after a workout. I ate a predominantly meat free diet for over three years and during that time the smell of bacon would drive me wild. A fellow crossfitter gave me a wonderful recipe and while making it, I thought some of the key ingredients would make a great meal by themselves.  I love this recipe since it makes enough for me to eat for a few meals. For an added complexity you can add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup before baking. I give you Bacon Sweet Potato Sexytime!

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
Serves: 3-5


2 Large or three Medium Sweet Potatoes
1 Pkg Uncured Nitrite and Nitrate Free Bacon (approx. 1 lb.)
1 Onion
3 Cloves Garlic
½ Tsp each of Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Smoked Paprika
1 Cup chopped Pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes and place in microwave steamer bag. Dice onions and garlic and set aside. Slice bacon into ½” pieces and sauté in a large skillet. Once the bacon begins to render fat, about 3-4 minutes, add in the onions and garlic; stirring until mixed well with bacon and bacon fat. Continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes. During this time, steam the sweet potatoes in the microwave for 5 minutes. When the sweet potatoes are steamed, they should be soft enough to pierce with a fork but not mushy.  Add the sweet potatoes to the bacon mixture and stir until everything is even coated with bacon fat and mixed well. Add in the black pepper, salt and paprika and stir. Top with pecans and place the skillet in the oven for 25-30 minutes, stirring once during the baking period. If you do not have a skillet that is oven safe, you can transfer the mixture to a baking dish prior to adding the pecans.

To serve, simply spoon 1-1.5 cups per serving into a bowl.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baaaa Baaaa Black Sheep Fell Into My Slow Cooker!

I am literally kicking myself for not taking pictures of this recipe through the prep and cooking process. I guess I'll just have to make it again and post them up! 

First. Not all meat is created equal. Understand this; it'll save you a lot of frustration and long term health problems in the long run. I recently started buying my meat from Fields of Athenry A farm local to my area. They deliver and their meat is amazing! You can buy your meat from your local grocery store. You can even go so far as to buy the organic variety. What you need to understand is that a lot of organic meat, specifically beef, is still fed a diet that is not natural to them. Corn is not what cows naturally eat. Whenever possible, even if you buy meat from a grocer, buy organic grass fed beef and lamb. Buy free range chicken that is fed a natural diet. Not just organic. Pay attention to your meat! (Yeah yeah. Stop giggling...)

Without further ado, a nice little recipe for Lamb Shoulder. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 hours
Servings: 5-7 or lunch and breakfast all week!

3-5 lb. Lamb Shoulder
2 Medium white onions
1 Cup organic beef or chicken stock
1 Tbsp each of Kosher/Sea Salt, Ground Black Pepper & Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
Large Slow Cooker

I leave all fat on the lamb shoulder as this helps to make the meat fall-off-the-bone awesome. You may have to slightly trim the lamb shoulder to get it to fit in your slow cooker. Feel free to do so, but DO NOT discard anything you trim off. Mix the dry spices in a small prep bowl and generously rub over the entire surface of the meat. (I know, giggle giggle.......) Set the meat aside.

Slice onions and scatter in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the lamb shoulder, fatty side down in the slow cooker on top of the onions. Pour the broth into the slow cooker (try not to pour over the meat as you'll wash off the rub). Cover the slow cooker and set the timer to cook for 10 hours.

Once the lamb shoulder is done, using tongs, pull the meat from the slow cooker and place on a plate. You should be able to simply pull the bones out and discard or keep if you want to make soup. Trim off the fat and enjoy! I served mine with roasted Asparagus but you can pretty much serve however you like. Since my wife doesn't eat meat, I have plenty of this for lunches and breakfast throughout the week!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Workout Log 11-17 December 2011

This is the first of my weekly workout logs. My intention is to track my progress through not only the WODs designed by our coaches at CrossFit Reston but also to track added lifting exercises, functional lifting and exercises and any races and competitions. 

Sunday: Functional Training
Cut, split and stack 6 cords of firewood with my father and father-in-law

Monday: CF Snatch: 2,2,2,2,2 First snatch from hang position, second snatch from ground
95, 115, 125, 95, 95 Heavy Lifting: Deadlift 225x8, 275x5, 315x5, 365x3, 365x2, 365x1

Notes: Leverage and firing of my hips with explosive lifting still continues to be an issue. As I have been told, Olympic lifting is not an activity that is learned overnight and need constant practice to master.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: CF 12,15,9 Front squat 155#, Chest to bar pull-ups for time.
135# Front Squat, performed the first round and five of the second round true chest to bar. Then standard pull-ups. Time: 10:57 Heavy Lifting: Log press instruction and practice. 122# log, 5x5, 1x8, 1x7, 1x6, 1x5

Notes: I am thinking that modifying my prosthesis slightly and more practice will allow me to get deeper in my squats.

Thursday: CF 10, 20, 30 reps KB swings (70#) & box jumps (24"). For time. Completed in 7:54 (2 pood & 20" box). Heavy Lifting: Squats 135x10, 185x9, 225x8, 245x7, 245x6, 265x5, 265x1.

Note: Stop being a pussy, pick up the 70# KB and work on the 24" box!!

Friday: Tabata, every rep counts. 8 rounds per exercise. Handstand Push-ups, Toes to bar, Pistol Squats and Row for calories. Total score: 183 reps

Saturday: Rest

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Paleo Friendly Sweet Potato Casserole

One of my favorite dishes for the holidays is the ultra awesome sweet potato casserole with the pecans and brown sugar on top. In my desire to create a paleo version, I came up with this simple recipe. Here's a couple tips. If you want a little more crunch on the top, double the amount of chopped pecans. You can also add a seasonal flare by substituting real natural maple syrup for the honey in the sweet potato mixture.

2 Lg Sweet potatoes
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp honey

Peel and cube sweet potatoes, steam in microwave steamer bag for 7 minutes or until tender. Mash in bowl. Add beaten eggs, coconut milk, vanilla extract and honey. Mix and place in baking dish.

Chop pecans and put aside. mix coconut oil, cinnamon and honey together. Microwave for 15 seconds to liquify. Pour on top of sweet potato mixture and spread.

Add chopped pecans evenly on top.

Place in oven on 325 and bake for 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Risen from the Ashes

“Iraq or Afghanistan?” It’s a question I often hear. And why not? I’m a relatively young guy who is reasonably athletic……oh, and missing a leg. The looks on peoples’ faces when I explain how I came to be an amputee is nearly as priceless as when someone asks me if I hurt my foot as I walk by them and I simply reply, “I don’t have a foot!”

To understand my acceptance of being an amputee, you have to understand who I am and how I came to be an amputee. I joined the U.S. Army and left for Basic Training in February 1998. Being a heavy bastard in basic training is not very fun. I was always the last guy in the chow line and had to stop by the Drill Instructors’ tables before sitting down so they could pirate some of my food. My favorite was sitting down and hurriedly drinking my two 8 oz. glasses of water only to have one of my fellow soldiers start talking, resulting in the hasty evacuation of the chow hall and the disposal of my meal without even getting a bite. I swear I never had a day in those eight weeks where I ate all three meals. Nonetheless, I made it through. It was actually fun, considering.

All my life I have fought the battle between fat and skinny. I was picked on for being a chubby kid but honestly never let it get to me. I first discovered the gym and weight lifting when I was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. I lived for the gym. I helped to lead PT in the mornings and lifted, ran and rucked at night and on the weekends. Hungover from a Friday night party, I would load up my ruck and hit the country roads for a few miles to work it off. I truly enjoyed my active life and LOVED being a soldier.

As I heard the explosion I stood up and looked behind me. At first, I thought the exhaust pipe for the potbelly stove cooked off.  However, I began to hear the screams from outside the mess tent and knew this was something much more serious. As I moved to go see what had happened, the most intense pain I have ever felt shot through my body and I collapsed. My left leg seared with pain. That’s when I realized I wasn’t the only one screaming in pain. I began to apply first-aid to another injured soldier as I was being tended to by my own team members. I was evacuated to the local hospital and moved almost immediately from triage to the operating room.

The next morning, as I came to, I struggled with what had just happened. I had no idea how bad the situation was. I looked down at my right leg, wrapped in dressing with an obvious fresh wound beneath and immediately began ringing for the nurse. When she arrived, I informed her that the doctor had fixed the wrong leg. Horrified, she pulled back the covers, displaying my mangled left leg. I immediately sank in the bed, but not because of shock for my own wounds. I found myself worrying about my fellow soldiers. Had they been injured? Killed? How many? What happened? This was also the first, and only REAL time when I wondered “why me?”

Two soldiers lost their lives that day, while 13 others suffered injuries ranging from minor to severe. I was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where the doctors discussed with me the extent of my injuries along with my options. I could have my leg amputated above the knee or they could attempt to repair my leg. I chose the latter option and embarked on an 8-month journey filled with emotions, severe pain and fear of what the future would hold. My biggest source of inspiration during this time was my new born son and my hope of being able to walk with him and care for him and to be able to play sports with him. My biggest source of support was my fiancée who spent everyday by my side, helping me through it all. After 8 months of extreme pain and hard work, I came to the reality that my leg was useless. I attended a doctor’s appointment and informed the doctor I would like for him to remove my leg. You cannot imagine the look on his face. He reluctantly agreed and scheduled the procedure.

As I lay there anxiously marking my right leg with large words saying “NOT THIS ONE” and “THE OTHER ONE”, I was excited about moving on. I rolled out of the surgery all smiles and hungry to get back to life. Originally I was told I would lose my leg above the knee. As I looked at my limb, I thought to myself, “shit, my thigh is long…..”. I called the nurse and asked about my limb and was informed that the doctors were able to save my knee. Within a few weeks, I started hobbling about on a training prosthesis. Within a month I was wearing a real prosthesis and eagerly went and joined the gym.

Having gained a substantial amount of weight, I was working to not only walk with a normal gait, but to get stronger. I returned to lifting weights but wasn’t happy with myself. In early 2008, I made the decision that I wanted to run again. You see, when I was in high school, I ran so slowly, you would have needed a sundial to time me. At my peak in the Army, I was running the 2-mile run in under 11 minutes. I wanted to be fast again. After consulting my doctors and prosthetic therapist, I was told I needed to drop weight. So, I worked and lost 25 lbs. The day I picked up my running prosthesis, I went to the track and ran two miles. I then spent the next two weeks wondering why the hell I thought that was a good idea. But I continued to run. I ran in the morning. I ran in the evenings. I ran 5K races and 10K races. My wife convinced me to run the 2010 Army Ten Miler. I trained and ran the race in 1:44:48 with a 10:28 pace. I was so happy with myself. But I wasn’t finished. I committed myself to training for and running the Marine Corp Historic-Half Marathon, Bataan Memorial Deathmarch and Marine Corp Marathon. In order to do so, I needed to drop weight and get serious about nutrition. This is when I discovered CrossFit. I started performing the WODs from daily and mixing in running in a training plan. In my first training race before the MC Historic Half, I suffered my first set-back. I had excruciating knee pain, which was attributed to enflamed vascular issues in my left leg. I had to stop training and drop out of the Half Marathon. Bum knee and all, I drove to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and completed the Bataan Memorial Deathmarch; a 26.2 mile march through the dessert. When I returned I continued to excel in CrossFit on my own but something was still missing.

In April 2011, I was informed by doctor I should lay off of running because my knees were both showing signs of degenerative arthritis. This was when I made the decision to drop out of the Marine Corp Marathon. However, I made the decision I was going to run the Army Ten Miler once again.  I then promptly forgot I had registered for the Ten Miler. After discovering Strongman Training, I was talking with a few members of CrossFit Reston and decided I was done doing CrossFit on my own. I joined CrossFit Reston and found a second family of people just as determined and just as hardheaded as myself. In October 2011, after receiving an email, I suddenly remembered the Army Ten Miler, and against my better judgment, I ran the race. I completed the race in 1:39:29 with a 9:56 pace, all without training.

While I have had to bow out of things for safety’s sake, I don’t have quit in my vocabulary. I love to go to CrossFit and have my ass kicked. I love to go for a run and feel my legs and lungs burning. Most of all, I love to be able to help others to achieve their goals by motivating them. I don’t consider myself special or exceptional in any way. I am, however, very determined and very hardheaded.