We are officially at the halfway point of the Alchemy Food Challenge. Over 100 people signed up more than three weeks ago, and to be honest, I was fairly skeptical about how many (including me) would persist in eating a strict Paleo diet for this long. But this group has really impressed me with its enthusiasm and its discipline; the group posts online and interactions during our weekly meeting have been enlightening, inspiring and educational.
Because I’m doing the challenge too — even coaches need to fine tune their nutrition — I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks.
Lesson 1: You can add sweet potato to anything. Overcooking them a little brings out the sweetness. Puree or mash them into sauces to replace sugar/honey/maple syrup, etc.
Lesson 2: I don’t eat enough vegetables. I had come to this conclusion a long time ago on my own, and everybody who has started filling up their containers probably came to the same conclusion. Our bodies seem best suited to more vegetarian lifestyles (https://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html) and this challenge has me eating more vegetables than ever!
Lesson 3: Cauliflower rice is a great alternative to rice, pasta, mashed potato — the list goes on and on. You can use it in a stir-fry or stuffed peppers recipe — it even makes a great pizza crust. Preparation is easy, too. Buy a head of cauliflower, remove the core, toss it in a food processor, pulse until it hits a desired size and then season, sauté it or bake it, and voila, you’ve got a really delicious and healthy alternative to many grains.
Lesson 4: How to better cut an avocado. Humour me if you’ve always known how to do this, but for me learning how to cut an avocado properly has been truly enlightening. For the similarly uninitiated here’s the method: Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Taking half the avocado in your hand use a knife and cut a crisscross pattern down to the skin of the avocado. Use a fork or spoon to scoop out the square pieces and add them to whatever you are eating.
With three weeks left to go in the Alchemy Nutrition Challenge I am sure there will be many more lesson. And as much as we may feel like this is difficult and we’re tempted to complain about the tough times to each other, it’s equally important to acknowledge that this is the very definition of a First World problem. I try and remind myself when I’m tempted to complain that I’m literally griping about “having” to eat too much delicious, highly nutritions food. When you look at it that way, six weeks isn’t a challenge; it’s a privilege.
Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit.