Chicken and Bacon Salad in Avocado Boats

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This simple salad captures the yummy flavors of bacon and tomatoes and is served in convenient avocado boats! Plus it’s full of protein and healthy fats.

Yield: 4-6 servings  |  Prep: 20 minutes

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  • 2–3 avocados
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish


  1. Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh, leaving about a ¼-inch layer of avocado in the shell. Set the shells aside. Dice the avocado flesh and place in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the chicken, bacon, tomatoes and onion. Gently toss to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken salad and toss to coat.
  4. Scoop the chicken salad into the avocado shells, garnish with green onions and serve.

The post Chicken and Bacon Salad in Avocado Boats appeared first on Paleo Magazine.

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Assessing Weaknesses in Your Lifts

Written by: Kevin Cann

As I was writing my last article about programming, I mentioned that the program was written for the client’s specific weaknesses. This is a very important piece of writing a program to truly maximize your strength potential. Whether you train on your own in the gym, do Crossfit, or compete in the strength sports such as strongman and powerlifting, the big 3 lifts play a major role.

By the big 3 lifts I am referring to the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Whether you are training for life or for sport, these lifts should make up the main focus of your program, in my opinion. I call myself a strength coach and there is no better way to get strong than to load up a barbell appropriately and lift.

While coaching my clients I am always assessing and looking for the weak, or sticking points of the lifts. Once these weak points are identified, we will add in corrective exercises to make those positions stronger. When I mention corrective exercise, I am not talking about a particular stretch (although sometimes that is the answer). I am referring to a particular variation of the exercise to strengthen that position, or accessory work addressing weak muscle groups.

All too often we see some type of technical breakdown in a lift and we just want to throw a corrective stretch or dead bug exercise on top of it to fix it. More often than not people are just weak and need to get stronger. Coach them into good positions, strengthen those positions, and improve upon the positions that they cannot get into with the appropriate exercise.

Someone’s knees caving in on the squat does not necessarily mean they have tight hip external rotators. In fact, this is very rarely the case in my experience. Most of the time they lack the ability to create tension and the motor control to properly execute the movement. Coach them through this and you will be surprised how quickly it improves.

With that said, technique can never be overstated. Having a quality coach watch your reps is very important in maximizing your potential. Now that I have stated that, let us look at the lifts, some common weak points, and exercises that I use to help correct them.


Missing the squat in the bottom: This is the most common spot for people to be weak in the squat. Often times you will see the torso lean forward, knees cave in, and butt slide backwards, making it look more like a good morning than a squat. What happens when we do this is the weight is shifted from our hamstrings and glutes, and placed more onto our lower back. Our hamstrings and glutes are much stronger than the muscles of our lower back (or should be at least) and we want to keep the weight there.

Any exercise that we do to strengthen our hamstrings and glutes here will be beneficial. However, just because we strengthen our hamstrings on a GHR, it does not mean that they will be strong in a squat. The more that we can emphasize these muscle groups in movements similar to the squat the better off we will be.

Exercises that are great for helping to build the bottom portion of the squat are pause squats, wide stance squats, wide stance box squats, sumo deadlifts, 1.5 squats, and using the safety squat bar. Pause squats are squats in which we hold the bottom position for a given amount of time, usually 2-5 seconds. These build our starting strength out of the hole and teach us how to stay tight in the bottom position of the squat.

Wide stance squats, and wide stance box squats are similar. Make your stance a couple of inches wider and squat. The wider stance puts a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. From here perform a regular competition style squat. If you choose to use the box, you need to push your ass as far back onto the box while keeping your back tight. When you sit on the box you should have a negative shin angle. This ensures it is all hamstrings and glutes. Make sure to stay tight when sitting on the box and that you do not just drop onto it.

Sumo deadlifts also utilize a wider stance to put greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. The difference between the deadlift and the squat with wide feet is the bar is starting from a dead stop on the floor. The sumo deadlift looks very much like a squat. This builds starting strength for the posterior chain.

1.5 squats will help teach the lifter how to stay tight into and out of the bottom position. You perform your completion style squat by going down to depth, coming out of the bottom position to the halfway point, going back down to depth, and then locking the weight out. These are brutal and come with some added time under tension. The safety squat bar is a squat bar that is cambered and also has a harness that makes it look like a yoke. It is often referred to as the yoke bar for this reason. This bar is made to push you forward and force you to drive back into it the whole time. You can use this and perform the competition style squat, or any of the other squats mentioned above. If you have trouble with leaning forward in the squat try a narrow stance SSB low box squat.

Middle of squat: If you are missing the squat halfway up then there is something going on with the technique. Often times position is lost out of the hole and this is where the lifter fails. If this is the case, chances are you are weak in the bottom position of the squat. If you do miss squats here try some high box squats, rack pulls, and front squats.

Bench Press

Bottom of Bench Press: The bottom of the bench press is where our pecs are emphasized the most. If you are weakest off of your chest, definitely add in some direct pec work such as flies, pushups, dumbbell bench, and so on. Utilizing a wider grip than your competition style grip can help build the pecs within the movement. This can be as little as 1-2 finger widths wider or more.

Just like with the squats where we paused at the weak position, we can do that with the bench. Utilize the 2-5 second pause with the bench the same way as the squat. In competition you are required to pause the bar on your chest for roughly 1 sec, so I recommend taking all of your reps in training with at least a 1 sec pause. Weighted dips are another good addition if you struggle from the bottom of the bench press.

Middle of Bench Press: Does the weight come off your chest, get a portion of the way up, and then just stop? You can use a pause in this position as well. When I have programmed these in the past take it down to your chest, pause for 1 second, bring it up to the sticking point and pause for 2-5 seconds, and then lock it out. This is where bands and chains can come into play as well. They teach the lifter to push through those sticking points.

I also like using board presses. As a raw lifter you do not need anything more than a 1 board (basically a 2×4). If you lift in gear other board variations can be utilized. Close grip bench press can also help strengthen the triceps and get you past this sticking point. Move your hands in 1-2 finger widths or more and perform the competition style bench press.

Problem at Lockout: If you struggle to lockout those last couple of inches you need to start hammering your triceps. Overhead press and pin presses are also great for getting through this sticking point.


Off of the Floor: This is similar to missing squats out of the hole. Often times you will see the legs straighten, the hips move away from the bar, and the back round. Deficit deadlifts are great at building strength off of the floor. Sheiko recommends a deficit of around 10cm. This is what I use with myself and my clients.

Utilizing an opposite stance deadlift can help make you stronger off of the floor by targeting different muscles. If you pull conventional try sumo and vice versa. May be a good idea to add this in for a month or two to see which stance you prefer more.

With the deadlift, Sheiko has had me use many variations such as deadlift to the knees. This is where you pull the bar off of the floor and pause right below the knee, often for a 2-5 second pause, and then return it to the floor. Building eccentric strength is also a great way to improve your strength off of the floor. One way you can do this is by lowering the bar under control every rep instead of letting it drop to the floor. Also, deadlift + deadlift below the knees.

This is a full deadlift followed by a number of reps where the lifter lowers the bar towards the floor as low as they can without touching the plates to the floor and then locking out the weight again. A good rep range to start is a 1+2 for 4-5 sets. This means you lockout the first deadlift, lower the bar to the ground in a good deadlift position without touching the plates to the floor, and lock it out again. You repeat that one more time without touching the floor. So it is 1 full deadlift followed by 2 reps that do not touch the floor.

Midway: If the bar gets stuck midway, often times the lifter needs to learn how to use the glutes and hamstrings to lockout the weight. Deadlifting off of 4 inch blocks can help here as well as bands and chains. Pausing below and/or above the knees for 2-5 seconds just like the squats and bench press can also help strengthen these positions. I love pauses and feel they should be a staple in everyone’s training regimen.

Lockout: If you get stuck just before lockout, using higher blocks and overloading that position can really help. Bands and chains can help here as well, as they overload that top position with weight.

Assess where your weak points are in your lifts and start to institute some of these exercises into your program. Try to utilize a wide variety of them so that your body does not adapt to the stimulus. I usually rotate these exercises through from week to week. The emphasis changes as the lifter’s strengths and weaknesses change. If you are unsure what to add in or subtract, just utilize a bunch of different pauses at different spots throughout each of the lifts and you will see improvement in all three.

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Episode 321- Eileen Laird – Autoimmune Disease and the Autoimmune Protocol


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Eileen Laird (of Phoenix Helix) joins us on the podcast today to talk about autoimmune disease and the autoimmune protocol.

Download Episode Here
Download a transcript of this episode here

Guest: Eileen Laird



Book: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

ebooks: Reintroducing Foods on the AIP and 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts




30 Day Guide to the Paleo Diet

Want some extra help? Have you been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? We’ve created a getting started guide to help you through your first 30 days.

Buy the book


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Autoimmune Data Aggregation

Guest post written by: Vivek Mandan

The Key to Ending the Autoimmune Epidemic

Most of us know firsthand that despite the estimated 50 million Americans with at least one or more autoimmune diseases, public awareness is practically nonexistent. How could this be? 50 million individuals out of a national population of 320 million is almost 16%. With almost one-sixth of the nation suffering, autoimmune disease is undeniably an epidemic – yet, medical treatment remains limited and research scarce and disorganized. How did this happen silently and unnoticed when we have the most advanced medical knowledge in the history of the world? Let’s dissect this snapshot of the medical status of modern autoimmunity by answering two critical questions: how did we get here and how do we move forward?


Autoimmunity and Medical Specialization

The medical system is segmented into specialties. If someone has a hormonal issue, they go to an endocrinologist; kidneys, a nephrologist; digestion, a gastroenterologist. There are immense benefits to specialization – with a system as complex as the human body, it is impossible to make any progress without systematic specialization.

However, autoimmune diseases were only recognized as a class of disease around 60 years ago in 1957, long after the creation of medical specialties. Since autoimmune diseases tend to affect multiple biological systems and have a shared etiology, dividing autoimmune diseases by the primary physiological location in which the worst symptoms manifest is both inefficient and inaccurate with regards to treatment and research.

This mismatch between specialized providers and multifaceted diseases becomes clearer as we examine the numbers surrounding research and treatment. Currently, autoimmune disease related healthcare expenses come to over $100 billion per year, while cancer costs come to $57 billion. However, research funding for autoimmune diseases are a paltry $850 million, compared to the $5.4 billion for cancer. Why is the funding for cancer over 6 times that of autoimmune diseases, while the healthcare expense of autoimmune diseases is nearly double that of cancer?

Cancers have been grouped together as a class of disease when it comes to research and treatment. While individual treatments vary, investigating the common factors between various cancers has led to tremendous progress in understanding the mechanisms behind them. It’s time to do the same for autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune disease research is fragmented – Hashimoto’s is researched as a thyroid disease, psoriasis as a skin disorder, rheumatoid arthritis as a joint disease. In order to understand autoimmune diseases, the first step is to group them together. For more information, check out Dr. Bonnie Feldman’s excellent article.

Lab tests and the patient experience

The other major challenge in autoimmune disease research is the lack of comprehensive patient information. People with autoimmune diseases tend to have many symptoms that aren’t alleviated by standard medical treatment. As a result, many individuals start doing research on their own to see if diet, lifestyle changes, supplements, and more can make a positive impact on their quality of life. If you have an autoimmune disease, and you’re reading this, you probably fall into this category.

App mock up

The disconnect occurs because researchers and healthcare providers are unable to effectively access a scientific, well organized form of individual information. There is currently no lab test or combination of tests that can account for the myriad symptoms and treatments that patients experience throughout their time outside of the doctor’s office. The problem is somewhat cyclical – research is stifled by inefficient organization of disease information and patients can’t centralize their information without new research technology that addresses the entirety of their condition. How can we make progress and move past this standstill?

Like a Pedometer for the 21st Century

New relationships between autoimmune diseases cannot be gleaned without first establishing a crystal clear picture of each patient’s specific situation. Mobile/web software can make this a reality. Over 68% of American adults have a smartphone, enabling us as a community to gather an unprecedented amount of information, which is why Autoimmune Citizen Science is developing a tool capable of individualized health tracking and powerful data aggregation for autoimmune diseases. As individuals track their daily progress, we can employ data aggregation – the gathering of information for the purpose of statistical analysis – to compare patient experiences across the community as a whole, thus revealing patterns and correlations.


With the AICS app, you’ll be able to track everything you’re trying (medications, diet, supplements, and more) and study how it affects your symptoms and lab tests in detail. The app is first and foremost a tool to help you make sense of your health. While you focus on tracking your daily progress, we’ll be aggregating the data across everyone who uses the app (anonymously and privately) giving you immediate access to real statistics based on real data. This way you’ll be able to see what’s working for other people with the same symptoms and conditions. What we love about this app is that it helps citizen scientists manage their autoimmune diseases right away, and at the same time uses the data they provide to make progress for the entire autoimmune community.

Citizen science is the key to ending the autoimmune epidemic. Through seeing what people with autoimmune diseases are going through and trying on a daily basis, we take the first step toward understanding how to solve the mystery behind these illnesses. The AICS app is currently under development and we have our first beta release planned for May 22nd. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our interview with Petra Chambers-Sinclair. Want to be a beta user? Sign up here. We hope to see you join us as a citizen scientist today.



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PaleoFX Charity Fundraiser Dinner!

Hey folks!

I hope you are all well, just wanted to let everyone know about the PaleoFX charity fundraiser to benefit the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund and Urban Roots Austin. Here are the details:

Saturday, May 28th 7pm – 11pm

Charity Dinner Benefitting Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund & Urban Roots Austin

800 Congress Avenue

Austin, TX 78701

Silent Auction

Live Music by Abbi Walker

Paleo Texas BBQ Menu Created by Stiles Switch

All you can eat

Brisket, Pork Ribs, Sausage, Cucumber Tomato Salad, Lemon Vinaigrette Cole Slaw

Switch Original BBQ Sauce, ringed onions, sliced pickles, and iced tea

Wine Sponsor – Dry Farm Wines

If you are attending PaleoFX please consider attending the event. If you can’t make PFX but live in the Austin area and want to get your BBQ on, you can purchase tickets here for this fantastic event.



Urban Roots

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151: Should Be

Today’s show starts with a special announcement along with documentary and book recommendations. In the News & Views segment, we cover the latest in food labeling news and the Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD), which is designed to slow aging and reduce cancer risk. In the Shinrin-yoku Update, we talk about nature as medicine. In the Moment of Paleo, we explore how our ‘shoulds’ could lead to stress. After the Bell, we hear a presentation about what really makes for a good life.

Links for this episode:

Visit PuraKai to shop for eco-friendly clothing and stand-up paddle boards. Be sure to use coupon code “latest in paleo” for 15% off all clothing purchases.

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