Union Nutrition


UNION NUTRITION – MONDAY – 052316 – Sweet, Salty, and Fatty – RECIPE: The ELVIS BURGER

Sweet, Salty & Fatty 

“Persistent biological signals lead us to overeat sweet, fatty, salty foods while keeping us malnourished. “ – Melissa & Dallas Hartwig, It Starts With Food

Our psychological responses to the food we eat have been adopted from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Because of this, our taste buds play a large role in dictating the type of food that we crave. Here is a breakdown of why we crave certain foods based on what the taste meant for food foragers:

Sweet = safe source of energy (vs. bitter foods which were not safe to eat)

Salty = water conservation when water resources were not consistent or reliable

Fatty = a dense source of calories and a slow energy burn over a long period of time

When our hunter-gatherer ancestors came across foods with these flavors, neurotransmitters sent signals of pleasure and reward to help them remember that those were the foods that led to nutrition.

With the birth of the Consumer Packaged Goods industry came highly processed and engineered fake-foods that capitalized on the responses that our bodies and brains naturally had to sweet, salty and fatty tastes. These fake-foods contain all of the flavor that our taste buds have been trained to love, while lacking the nutrition that our bodies need.

Our body signals are being used against us! Instead of allowing sweet, salty and fatty tastes to lead us to nutritious, whole foods our brains have been re-wired to crave things like candy, potato chips, cookies and jalapeño-flavored Cheetos.

The Union Fitness Nutrition Challenge allows us the opportunity to eliminate processed foods, cook at home more regularly and mindfully choose food at restaurants that source whole, natural ingredients. This is a vital first step into kicking food addictions and developing a lifestyle that promotes a healthy psychological response to food.

Recipe: The Clean King (Paleotized Elvis Burgers)

Elvis Burger



4 Strips of Nitrate & Sugar Free Bacon

1lb Grass-Fed Ground Beef

¾ Tsp salt

½ Tsp ground black pepper

¼ Tsp crushed red pepper

2 Bananas, sliced

½ Cup sunbutter, almond butter or cashew butter (no sugar added)


Mix together the ground beef, salt, black pepper & crushed red pepper. Split up the beef mixture into four equal portions and shape into burger patties. Place an indent in the center of the patty to promote even cooking. Set aside. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, then set aside on a paper towel to drain. Empty the fat from the pan, and place back on the burner on high heat. When the pan is very hot, cook the four burger patties on one side for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 3, 4 or 5 more minutes depending on if you want them rare, medium or well-done, respectively. Remove the patties and set on a plate to rest. Empty the fat from the pan and add in the banana slices to caramelize, about 3-5 minutes. Assemble the four burgers: beef patty, bacon slice, bananas and nut-butter.

-Cara Matsukane, member at CrossFit St. Paul



UNION NUTRITION – MONDAY – 051616 – Breakfast: The Hero of Your Healthy Day – RECIPE: Chorizo Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast: The Hero of Your Healthy Day

Part of the process of eating clean is getting your body re-acquainted with the hormonal regulation that has been disrupted by consuming foods such as sugar, grains and dairy. Appetite, satiation and energy levels are all built in mechanisms that our bodies have to help us determine how much food that we need to sustain our physical activity. Those mechanisms have all been broken by the foods that we normally consume on the standard American diet.

Eating clean isn’t just about what you’re eating; it’s also about when you eat. Starting your day right is the best way to ensure you’ll stick to your plan for the remainder of the day.

Here are some tips to help your body get re-acquainted with the sophisticated technology that’s built-in to help you determine how much you should be eating:

  1. Start your day right with a healthy breakfast consumed within an hour of waking up.

This may be difficult at first if you have a lack of appetite when you wake up – not being hungry when you first wake up is a sign of hormonal disruption caused by your standard diet. Try to eat something until your hormonal responses have normalized – typically that occurs in weeks two or three of clean eating. Focus your breakfast meal on satisfying protein, fat and nutrient-dense vegetables. Avoid fruit for breakfast if you can. This template helps curb hunger, promotes consistent energy levels so that sugar cravings are not as prominent and sets you up for better food choices throughout the day.

  1. Follow breakfast with two other standard meals, plus additional meals if you are participating in rigorous physical activity. Avoid snacking!

A template of three meals isn’t necessarily mandatory, but it allows you to focus on your food intake during three socially acceptable meal times during your day. Plus, by using three meals as a guide and refraining from snacking in between meals you are giving your body four to five hours to allow glucagon to mobilize energy and keep your leptin levels normal. This will promote burning fat for fuel, which in addition to improving your body composition will also allow for more consistent energy levels throughout your day. If you are working out heavily, make sure to consume protein and fat about thirty to sixty minutes before you work out and add a serving of protein plus nutrient-dense vegetables for your carbohydrates fifteen to thirty minutes after you work out. This should be in addition to your three standard meals, not in replacement. Once you have a better grasp on eating clean and the affects of food on your body, you can test out other meal templates such as intermittent fasting.

  1. Stop eating a few hours before bedtime.

Eating right before bed will negatively impact your hormonal responses. It will mess with leptin levels and will impede growth hormone release. Growth hormone release is especially important for CrossFitters, since it helps with tissue regeneration and growth plus cell repair. Eating before bed will also affect how melatonin is released, effectively ruining your sleep patterns and setting you up for failure the next day.

By following these simple guidelines and eating well, you will re-train your body to have the correct hormonal responses that will promote fat loss, consistent energy levels, sleep quality and improved mood!

Recipe: Chorizo Breakfast Casserole

Chorizo Egg Bake

Servings: About eight


2 lbs paleo chorizo (check ingredients for sugar and additives)

1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

1 large red onion, diced

5 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 green bell peppers, diced

2 red bell peppers, diced

2 heads of broccoli, stems removed and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic

Salt and Pepper

16 eggs

1/3 cup coconut flour

¼ cup coconut milk



Preheat oven to 350. In a large frying pan, heat up the oil and brown the sausage. Drain the fat, then add some more oil to your pan and fry up the onion, peppers, carrots, and broccoli until the vegetables are tender and onions translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Mix together the sausage and veggie mixture in a 9×13 casserole dish. Whip together the coconut milk, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and coconut flour in a large bowl. Once they are well combined without lumps, add a single egg into the mixture and continue mixing together until it is a well-incorporated homogenous mixture. Whip together with the remaining eggs, then add the sausage and vegetable mixture into the eggs and stir until the well distributed. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until the eggs are set. Cut into 8 slices and top with guacamole.

-Cara Matsukane, CrossFit St. Paul member



Union Nutrition – Monday – 050916 – The Truth about Cholesterol – Recipe: Oven Baked Broccoli, Mushroom and Prosciutto Frittata

The Truth about Cholesterol 

For decades, the health community has promoted low-cholesterol and low-fat diets to help prevent heart disease and obesity. Recently however, updated research has caused the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to drop its recommendation to limit foods high in cholesterol, like eggs, because they only have a slight effect on blood cholesterol. Here are some fast facts about cholesterol to help quell any fears that you may have about consuming too much through egg yolks, red meat or healthy fats such as grass-fed ghee:

  • Most of the cholesterol in your bloodstream is created by your body, not your diet.
  • Cholesterol is not bad in and of itself! Cholesterol helps to produce hormones, cell membranes and vitamin D. It aids in digestion and helps to form memories.
  • Your liver produces and regulates the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream, so if you consume cholesterol in foods such as egg yolks and meat, your liver will compensate by producing less.

Bottom Line: You do not need to fear the cholesterol that is present in paleo friendly foods such as whole eggs, animal protein and ghee!

Make sure that you are smart about the products that you are choosing to consume, because quality does make a difference in their health benefits. Purchase pastured eggs and chicken, pasture-raised or organic, grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and wild-caught seafood as much as possible.

Recipe: Oven Baked Broccoli, Mushroom and Prosciutto Frittata


Servings: About eight

Olive Oil
1 package La Quercia prosciutto (or other paleo compliant brand)
3 bunches broccoli, stems removed and finely chopped
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package button mushrooms, chopped
16 pastured eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut flour
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with olive oil and line it with the prosciutto, completely covering the bottom and sides of the pan. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and sauté the onions, garlic and broccoli together until the vegetables are tender. Add in the mushrooms and garlic and continue sautéing while stirring frequently until the mushrooms are cooked through. Season the vegetables to taste and set aside to let cool. Whip together the coconut milk, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and coconut flour in a large bowl. Once they are well combined without lumps, add a single egg into the mixture and continue mixing together until it is a well-incorporated homogenous mixture. Whip together with the remaining eggs, then add in the cooled vegetables and mix together well. Pour the vegetable and egg mixture into the prosciutto lined pan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until set.

-Cara Matsukane, CrossFit St. Paul member


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