Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How I am Staying on Track when My Body is Saying Hell No (thanks to my loving and overprotective dog)

 Injuries suck. Big time. And none of them are the same so how you approach exercise when you are injured is going to vary greatly based on your injury. But whether you are too injured to work out or just  need to take it down a notch, there are things you can do to make sure your injury doesn't throw you completely off course.

This is what I tried to do after my 80 lb dog  and another large dog decided to not play so nicely at the park. I was knocked down and drug around on my back by two very angry, very large dogs. I ended up being bumped and bruised and sore for almost a week. I knew bouncing around with Chalene Johnson was not going to be an option when I woke up the day after our little party and my back ached.

Keep your schedule in tact 

This might mean taking your typical work out time and going for a walk or changing your workout routine to something your doctor advises (like low impact modifications.) Whatever you do don't use the time to sit on the couch and play games on your tablet or phone (or watch bad tv) because the more of a bad habit you build here, the harder it is going to be to get back into your workout routine when you are back to normal.

I walked. I did yoga because it actually helped my achy back. Don't do anything your doctor doesn't recommend or that causes you pain but talk to him or her about what they recommend. And listen to your body. Mine was telling me to stretch and not sit still (it hurt more if I sat for long periods of time) so I listened. No, I didn't burn crazy amounts of calories with a intense workout like I was used to and that was okay. My body was recovering. I did however keep the good habits I've built these last couple of months in check. And that makes all the difference.

If any exercise is off the table use the time you would exercise to do things like cleaning out the pantry, catching up on your meal planning, reading about health and wellness, planning what workout program you are going to tackle next or to set new goals. Do something that keeps you focused on getting started again as soon as you are cleared.

Eat at the times you typically eat. Keep that meal schedule in tact. I know when I don't feel well all I want to do is eat pizza or mac and cheese (hello comfort food) but giving in to these cravings now will make it that much harder to get back on track later. Besides, let's build some new habits and maybe break the I-got-a-boo-boo-I-deserve-a-cookie habit that was so lovingly formed in our youth.

Tighten up on your meal plan

I looked at my meal plans and saw where I could cut and trim. No extras the week I was off my normal workouts. I wasn't burning the calories to allow the expenditure. I made sure there were no little slip ups with cheese (the one dairy vice I can't quite seem to quit completely) and no extra bread at dinner. I upped my veggie intake and lowered my fruit intake. I tried to eat around 1200-1300 calories a day instead of 1500-1800.  And while I didn't lose any weight, I didn't gain any either. That for me is a win.

Look at what you typically eat and cut out the obvious (and easy) things. No alcohol (which if you are on pain meds or anything like that you probably shouldn't have anyway) no dessert, the little treats we allow ourselves for having a great week need to go when you aren't working out.

Get lots of good quality sleep


Look at your sleep habits and try to improve them while you are healing. Sleep is a luxury in this house (by morning I have a toddler and a terrier fighting for space in my bed!) but sleep can make you feel so much better while you are healing (and our bodies need it!) Plus banking some shut eye also helps with the food cravings and cheats. I know I am much more likely to go off the rails when I am cranky and tired. Being super sleep deprived also has me craving pizza like a crazy person, so sleeping (as well as I can) is a tool I try to use whenever possible.

I was extremely grateful my injury was not severe and I started feeling better within the inside of a week. I was able to walk and do yoga and am looking forward to jumping, punching, squatting and kicking with Turbofire in a few days. I also know that by working really hard to keep my days structured the same as they were when I was working out has really helped me stay eager to jump back into my scheduled workouts (and miss them too!)

Always always always talk to your doctor (or physical therapist) about any injuries and exercise you may want to continue doing or new exercise you want to try. These suggestions are based on my own experiences and what worked for me, personally and are not in any way medical advice.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The next best thing to salt and vinegar chips (and how I handle those crunchy, salty cravings)

I've never been a huge chip girl. I am more of a chocolate or artificial cheese flavored popcorn kind of girl. But every once in a while I get a hankering for some greasy, crunchy chips, preferably salt and vinegar flavored. The stronger, the better. I could eat them until it feels like there is a hole being burned in the center of my tongue from the vinegar-ness. They were the one snack food my mom would cave and buy if I was having friends over. (Typically we lived in a no junk food house.) So eating salt and vinegar chips not only gives me a party in my tummy but there is that deep seeded association that they are for super fun times. (Yay sleepovers!)

I am trying to avoid processed foods and really commit to clean eating, I knew I had to find another way. And since I don't really eat meat, I knew if I could get some more protein in my diet, it would be killing two birds with one stone. I turned to my friend the garbanzo bean. I knew they could be roasted and get super crunchy but I always found that I burnt them before I could get them good and crunchy. They were often burned on the outside and still soft on the inside.

So I channeled a much more patient person and tried to get them to take over my body to cook these
babies for me, because I knew what I had to do. Lower the temp and lengthen the time. (I am so not patient. At all.) I picked a time when I knew I would be home and I knew I would be preoccupied (like sitting at the dining room table and writing a blog post.)

I set the oven temp to 250 and let the oven preheat while I rinsed the garbanzo beans (Typically I use dried beans - it's super easy as long as you think ahead. I had some cans on hand for dinner emergencies and since we are moving across the country again I figured it would be smart to use them up.)

Make sure to dry the beans after they are rinsed. This really helps. I like to cook mine on parchment paper so if the paper gets wet from the beans it takes even longer for them to roast (and for this impatient chick right here, it takes long enough as it is. I don't need to add any extra time to this recipe.)

And I set the timer for 25 minutes. And I stirred them. And I set the timer for 25 minutes. And I stirred them. And I set the timer for 25 minutes and I stirred them (you get the idea.)

They roasted for probably 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This will vary based on your oven temp too. It is pretty easy to tell when they are done. They shrink up really small and sometimes crack in the middle. Once they aren't so hot they will burn a hole in your mouth, test one. If it is crunchy, they are done. If it crunches on the outside and is still soft in the middle, give 'em another stir and stick them back in the oven.

I have also had better luck getting them crunchy dry roasting them instead of tossing them in olive oil. I just rinse, dry and throw them in the oven. When they are done and it is flavor adding time, I can toss in olive oil and any seasoning I am feeling like. Plus I like the idea that I don't have to commit to making a whole batch one flavor. I can flavor them before I eat so I have lots of options depending on what I feel like (and anyone who has traveled with me knows I need lots of options, hence the entourage of suitcases I typically travel with.)

So for the salt and vinegar chip goodness, all I do is toss them with a little malt vinegar and some salt
and whala I have crunchy salty burn a hole in my tongue vinegary goodness. A really great, protein packed crunchy snack that is even good thrown on top of salads.

These babies, although they have lots of good for you nutrients, do have calories. All legumes pack a lot of calories (think along the lines of almonds and other nuts.) I like to have about a 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup of crunchy chickpeas with half an apple as a snack. The apple combined with the protein really helps fill me up.

Happy Eats!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Omnivore's Dilemma (and why we should be thinking about our food in ways other than calories and fat grams)

My favorite reaction when I tell people I try not to eat meat or dairy very often is when they look at me, almost bug eyed and utter (and sometimes whisper) but what do you eat? It is a shock to people that a meal can be filling and full of veggies and grains. This journey of really looking into what my family is eating started about a year ago with the documentary Forks Over Knives. I went crazy for a few months but not in a good way. If it was vegan, I assumed I could eat it. No problems. Well there is a problem when vegan junk food is on the market and sugar is still vegan. I never particularly cared for the taste of meat, but dairy was more difficult to give up. (I still go crazy over some really yummy creamy goat cheese.) Fish and seafood never really left the picture.

But the important part was I started thinking about what I ate. Not in the way of calories and fat grams but what it was and where it came from. So many of our meals are consumed in a rush, on the go, in the car or at our desks while we work and even in front of the television. There is no thinking about what we eat as much as there is let's get shove this in my mouth real quick to get rid of this hunger feeling and move on with what is really important in life.

But our food is important. We spend so much time eating. Our bodies are literally made from what we feed them. From our food is where our bodies get the energy to move, to create new cells, to repair what needs fixed, to fight off infection....what we eat every day could be the most important decisions we make. And it goes even further than that because not only are we affected by what we eat, but we are affected by the food our food eats. The quality, the nutritional value, the taste.... Unfortunately, most of what we eat today isn't what our great-grandparents ate even when it looks like it used to. A steak today is different from a steak 50 years ago. There are farmers out there striving to bring farming back to it's roots and Michael Pollan was able to find one of them.

I just finished reading the The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I actually read the young adult version as that was what was available from the library (libraries rock!) I expected the book to lean away from the processed and toward the real food movement (even toward a plant based diet.) And while Pollan did not hesitate to admit his personal preference after all of his endeavors, the information is presented in a very matter of fact way (which this English major can appreciate.) The book is set up around his four meals. His goal is to eat one meal that is a direct result from each of the ways to produce food. His first meal is a meal that is produced thanks to the industrialized food industry -- McDonald's and is eaten like many Americans eat fast food, in the car.

He starts off visiting the farms that produce the majority of the food here in America. The industrialized corn farm and the industrialized beef farm. He goes as far to purchase a steer so he can follow the steer until it meets his end (where he was not allowed to visit -- journalists, among others, are not permitted in slaughterhouses and on many industrial farms.) He interviews a corn farmer about how working on a farm has changed. And it is explained (in a way that is both scary and fascinating) how a single kernel of corn is processed. How all parts of the corn are used and extracted and turned into something else. Things I didn't even know were made with corn -- like glue and fireworks. (Seriously. Fireworks. Mind blown. This was the part of the book where I kept waking John up every five minutes to spout off something new I learned about corn. He was nowhere near as enthusiastic as I was.)

For the second meal, he visits an industrial organic farm. While many of these farms started out as small endeavors, they have grown into a billion dollar industries and are run much of the same way as non-organic industrialized farms. They do not use pesticides or hormones, they do allow chickens access to the outdoors but it is  a small sad yard that has a tiny door that isn't even open until the chickens are 5 weeks old. For the remaining two weeks of their lives, they rarely venture out doors.  These are not the happy chickens lives and farming practices that consumers are led to believe they are supporting. There is the fact that these farms are brining organic food to places that normally wouldn't have access to it. They are keeping farmlands from being sprayed with pesticides. There is good here and as a reader (and an eater) we are encouraged to take in the facts, do our own research and decide for ourselves if eating seasonally is an inconvenience we are willing to suffer.

His third meal he calls "beyond organic." Pollan found a farm that farms the way farming used to be done. (And apparently I was trying to see how many times I could use the word farm in a sentence.) He visits Polyface Farm in Virginia which practices sustainable agriculture. He has pasteurized beef and poultry and uses a rotation system so the cows don't destroy the pasture and then the chickens clean up after the cows and fertilize the pasture. Joel Salatin, the farm's owner, refers to himself as a grass farmer and an even more than that an orchestra conductor as he is doing the movement and organization but the animals are doing the work. He will not ship his meats instead he truly practices and believes that burning all that fossil fuel to ship his products is not sustainable. He sells directly to consumers, local restaurants and at farmer's markets. And this is what led Pollan to him in the first place. Because Salatin won't ship a steak to Pollan's home in California, Pollan instead visits, stays and works on the farm in Virginia experiencing it all first hand including processing (a nicer way to say killing) a chicken.

When it gets to the fourth meal, I am wondering really what is next. What kind of farm could he possibly visit to finish this book. But he doesn't visit a farm, instead, he chooses to create a meal from things he has hunted and gathered. Who does that now? Being a Western PA girl I am used to meals made with deer meat but not an entire meal that is foraged. Pollan stays true to the course and learns to hunt wild pig,  how to hunt mushrooms and even gather yeast from the air to make bread (again mind blown. Yeast from the air? Crazy business.) He even attempts to try and gather his own salt from the bay.

After being present at all of Pollan's meals through his writing, I was happy to find him encouraging his readers to think about what we are eating. With the obesity epidemic, we are so conditioned to think of food in terms of calories in and calories out but it is so much more than that. This book was a great way to begin to address that rumbling in our tummy in a much kinder way than just shoving whatever we can grab in our mouths to shut it up (and stay under our recommended calories for the day.)

I am eager to read the adult version of this book (and just ordered it in paper form so I can highlight and make notes in the margin and flip back and forth between chapters when I need to. Sometimes there are things an ebook can't provide. Like the lovely smell of an old book. Mmmmm.)

For more information on Micheal Pollan and his work please visit  http://michaelpollan.com/

Monday, June 17, 2013

Betty Goes Vegan Tacos (my adventures into the world of Tempeh)

After reading many recipes and blogs in the vegetarian and vegan world, I started to become familiar with the things that are used to substitute meat. And out here in the Pacific Northwest, many of these things are available in grocery stores. I can find things like bee pollen, veganaise, tofurky and soy yogurt and cheese (yet I cannot find whole wheat lasagna noodles. *shakes head*) I can also find plenty of substitutes for meat. One that I have heard a lot about is tempeh. I have seed many comments on recipes and blogs from people who aren't too crazy about tofu but love tempeh. So I grabbed some at the store. And it sat in my fridge.

Every time I opened the fridge, the tempeh and I kind of had a I know you are there but I am going to ignore you if you ignore me relationship. Then it got to the point where I had to acknowledge the tempeh by either cooking it or throwing it in the trash. Since I am not a big fan of throwing my money away, I chose to attempt to cook it. My default to attempt anything I know nothing about is to

*google*

*google*

*google*

And those searches brought me to ohmyveggies.com which is a delightful site I was happy to add into my rotation of sites to search for dinner ideas. On there I found a recipe for tempeh tacos and who doesn't love a taco (I actually didn't love tacos for a long time. They totally grossed me out. And then I met Moe's which lead to a love affair with Chipotle which has turned into me making vegan/vegetarian tacos in our home a lot and I am always looking for a variation on the black beans as protein.) So this was how I decided to cook up the tempeh in my fridge. It was starting to dare me, all I know you can't cook me. There is no way you can do this.

The recipe I found was from the cookbook Betty Goes Vegan. While I have read and tried things from many cookbooks, this was one I had yet to pick up (or borrow from the library. Libraries rock!) The blog put in lots of pretty pictures and even made me want to use crunchy shells (I am team soft taco.) My trip to the grocery store that carries weird but not basic things out here lead me to find that they do not in fact carry organic taco shells or hard taco shells. Seriously. So I went with wheat because at least the GMO chance there is lesser (as there isn't supposed to be any GMO wheat but the whole thing with the wheat in Oregon make me skeptical.) So soft tempeh tacos it is.

When I took the tempeh out of the package it was slimy and chunky. It has whole and halved soybeans in it and at that point I was missing the smooth texture of tofu. (And trying not to gag - visually the texture- I just can't.) I started breaking it up into pieces and then all urges to be sick disappeared. I mixed it up with the seasonings and the lime juice added some onion and was done. Super easy. (These are the kinds of recipes that make me all I love cooking. Especially when they turn out awesome and it is something that sounds kind of scary -- like tempeh sounds super intimdating. It makes me feel very victorious inside. It's the little things kids. Sometimes they are what you need to get through the day.)

So I threw it all in a pan until it is heated through (another one of the bonuses of meat free cooking. I don't have to worry about if things are cooked all the way through because someone could die. I just have to heat and serve. Whoop!) Then I threw it all in a warmed taco shell with some avocado and olives (for me and B anyway. John is an olive hater.) Balance out with a green salad with a cilantro lime vinigerette and whala dinner is served.

The link to the original recipe is here. I skipped all the liquid smoke and other things that sounded strange and just used what I had in my pantry. Maybe they would have been better had I included these ingredients, maybe not? I also skip the spicy and rely on John to use his own special blend of 85 million hot sauces that live in my cupboard.

Here is what I did:

For the Filling:

1 8oz package of tempeh
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2  red onion minced
3 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried oregano
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs water

You will also need:

Taco shells and toppings (I used avocado, pico de gallo and olives)

Instructions:

Crumble your tempeh into a large mixing bowl.

Then mix in the garlic, cumin, onion powder, oregano and lime juice.

Once the spices are well mixed, add the onion.

Drizzle the water in 1 TBS at a time into your mix while stirring.

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spray a skillet with olive oil  and heat to medium heat.

Add the tempeh mix and stir a few times so it browns evenly.  (About 10 minutes)

While the tempeh is cooking you can warm your taco shells and prep any toppings you may need to prep.

Fill, top and serve.


Once cooked up I really enjoyed the tempeh. It gave the tacos more of a ground meat texture than bean or another meat substitute does. The spices are true to what a traditional taco spice mix would be. All in all it was tasty and I count my trip into tempeh land as a success. (And it might be a place I come back to visit every once in a while. Especially when I am bored with my regular dinner rotation.) I was also so excited to eat my creation that I forgot to take pictures. Luckily, John came home late that night so I was able to play food photographer with his taco creations and I took photos of my leftover tempeh mixture (which was also yummy on a "taco" salad the next day for lunch.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How Jen Lancaster Kept my Mind off New Kids on the Block (and how the Tao of Martha made me want to clean the spice cupboard and make Father's Day Cheesecake)

So it was a rainy Tuesday in Portland. Shocking, right? It seemed like everyone I knew was at the New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees concert in Pittsburgh and I was bummed. Who doesn't want to go relive their childhood with a bunch of middle aged women getting drunk and oogling washed up 90's boy bands?

Instead of mopping and checking facebook like a crazy stalker to watch the newsfeed action, I talked my husband to spending the entire day in Portland so I could see Jen Lancaster. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, this is an awesome experience. She is funny, down to earth and you can really see how her books are written and how her brain works. Mid topic she will be reminded of something else and you will follow her down the verbal rabbit hole until she gets back to the orginal story ten minutes later. All of her books have had places that made me laugh, tears streaming down my face and trying so hard not to shake the bed as to wake my slumbering husband next to me -- some books more than others. This woman can entertain me with antics of her mis-behaved pets, projects gone awry and pretty much anything she wants to talk about for hours.

I was so excited to see her again (I was able to attend her Portland book signing of Jeneration X last year too.) I always have these big things in mind when I see people who I absolutely love. I want to tell them how their work (be it musical or authoring some of my favorite books) has impacted my life or thoughts or gush about how much I love them. Instead, I just stand there awkwardly and don't know what to say. (Or blurt out strange things that probably make them look into bodyguards or restraining orders.) As I stood in line to have my book signed, I kept trying to think of something witty and adorable to say. Something that would make Jen think I wasn't a crazy stalker and that if the time and place were right (for example not when my toddler is running around Barnes and Noble using the escalators as an amusement park ride) that we would be BFF's and go for cocktails. I too could entertain her with tales of my poorly behaved pups. We could bond over a love of Barbies and booze. She would soon become my mentor and guide me into the publishing world (of course in this scenerio I also have a book of poingant yet hilarious stories that is in pristine edited condition in my handbag to share with her.) We can laugh about our husband's crazy building projects and how yes, John and Fletch would probably be BFF's too. She would invite me to her next soiree and we would all fly to Chicago and B could play in her pool with her lovable and crazy pitt bulls and chase her asshole (her word not mine) cats.

BFF plan fail.

After an hour and a half in line all I could think of to say was are you going to Pittsburgh again this year? So now I am in her head as the idiot Pittsburgh girl who is always in Portland.

She did tell me she is going to Primanti's this year if it kills her and I told her the Colossal Fish Sandwich is the best (there may also have been blabbering about minced meat fish and how gross that is. What I need is a BFF to go with me to this and smack me when I start to ramble about gross and inappropriate things.)

So all in all one of the most exciting (and embarrassing) nights I have spent in the Pacific Northwest (and I know I don't get out much. Most of my nights consist putting a screaming toddler to bed, a drink, the dvr and my husband who falls asleep about 7 1/2 minutes after sitting down on the couch. Needless to say, he no longer holds the rights to the remote.)

I really enjoyed The Tao of Martha but it was in no way what I expected. It was much more an Ode to Maisy. If you read her blog or follow her on social media, this will be a sweet (and yes still funny) and sometimes tearful book. If you have no idea about her life or her dogs, I suggest you don't choose this as the very first Jen Lancaster book you ever read. There were less hilarious escapades and more profound moments than I expected. Spending a year looking to Martha certainly taught her a lot and that is expressed in the book along with all the love she had for her first beloved dog.

I was, however, inspired by the trip to the Container Store and storing everything in my pantry in glass jars with super cute labels. That is some organizing I can get behind. I also love the idea of going above and beyond for every party. This is always what I aspire to do and turn into a crazy ball of stress who can't have any fun because the party is not going the way the party should be going in my head. I run around and snip at everyone until John puts a cocktail (or five) in my hand an suggests (orders) me to drink and calm down because everyone is going to leave and never come back and I might not let you ever host a party again.

Her book made me realize that maybe if I was more organized ala Martha and less let's make two dozen jellyfish out of coffee filters and crepe paper for B's Nemo party for three days, things might come together a little more enjoyably for everyone involved. Maybe I need to get my creative brain in check instead of letting it show up to the party a day or two before and insisting I start a bunch of different arts and crafts projects (or making butter molded into the shape of easter eggs and bunnies) when in reality it is too late for such beautiful details. Can I train my creativity to come out to play earlier than it typically does? Wouldn't that be a crazy and amazing thing to do.

Today is Father's Day and as we are pretty much as far away from family as we could possibly be, I wanted to do something special, especially after reading this book. A little what would Jen as Martha do? so to speak. One of John's favorite things is cheesecake and since I have become a teeny bit obsessed with clean eating/giving up animal products/not eating GMO's sugary treats in this house have been few and far between. 2 hours and $50 worth of organic junk food later, I started mixing and trying to convert and Oreo Cheesecake bar recipe into something that could be made a teensy bit healthier (every little bit counts!)

So I cut the sugar in half. Switched the sour cream out with plain greek yogurt and used flax for the eggs. At least my cheesecake will have protein, probiotics and omega-3's (that is if all those things survive the heat of the oven, which I am not positive they do.) And crossed my fingers it comes out for the best.

The recipe I adapted I found on mybakingaddiciton.com and the link is here (if you are interested in going whole hog.)


This is how I rolled:

For the Crust:

1 package Annie's Bunny Grahams in chocolate

2 TBS Earth Balance Spread (or grass fed butter)

Preheat the oven to 325

Pulverize the poor little bunnies any way you choose. I used the food processor to grind them into fine crumbs.

Melt 2 TBS butter

Add melted butter to graham crumbs and mix well.

Press mix into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan (I like to use a fork for the mixing and the pressing.)

Bake at for 10 minutes - (and start working on the filling)

Leave the oven on when the crust is done

For the Filling:

2 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 flax eggs (or regular eggs at room temp)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 (or so) coarsely chopped "Oreo" cookies (I used Newman-O's)

Beat the cream cheese until smooth and slowly add sugar. Mix until the sugar is well incorporated into the mix. (So it's all smooth and not gritty)

Add the "eggs" and mix well (If you are using real eggs the original recipe called for them to be added one at a time. I just dumped all my flax eggs in as I made them at the same time in the same cup.)

Add the vanilla and the yogurt. (make sure to keep scraping down the side of the bowl too!)

Once everything is all smooth and dreamy fold in the chopped Oreo or substitute Oreo cookies.

Pour the entire mix over the crust.

Bake at 325 for 40 - 50 minutes (the middle should still be jiggly)

Let them cool for 2 hours.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.


So there was a lot of time involved for cooling and chilling so this isn't for a last minute I need a desert super quick kind of event. (Luckily my last minute this time was in the morning and not the afternoon as I didn't read the entire recipe through before deciding to make it. This is a bad habit I need to fix.)

But they were really good. Not as creamy as real cream cheese but they made my (desert deprived) tummy and husband happy.

Happy Father's Day all!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Grilling Weekend (a recipe for those of us who might be grill-less, want to go meat-less or both)

Tis the season to fire up the grill! But seeing as we are in the land of it is June and I wake up and still have to put a hoodie on to go outside (and I still might be cold) chilling grill-side isn't really something we look forward to doing. That combined with an upstairs apartment makes you get a little creative around here if you want to grill.

My other major problem when it comes to grilling is finding a meatless patty concoction that holds it's
shape and won't fall apart while cooking (resulting in huge mess on a grill, not that much of a mess in a pan.)

Now I found this recipe on Skinnytaste.com. I dig this website. (When I was eating meat I found a recipe on there for herbed pork chops. They were O-M-geee amazing. Every once in a while the thought of eating that recipe makes me want to cook up Wilbur again. My apologies buddy.) This time I found spinach and quinoa patties. I am always trying to find more ways to get greens into my dinner and into my toddler's mouth. So in burger form with sweet potato fries this was a win-win twinkle in this mama's eye.

A word about quinoa. If you haven't heard about this rockstar grain yet you need to get it into your pantry! It is a complete protein source (which is a huge deal for those of us that don't eat creatures for whatever reason) and super easy to cook. As easy to cook as rice. It make a great rice substitute too (my hubby likes to make quinoa and shove it in his burritos.) Technically, this superstar is a seed and super easy to flavor. Think being able to douse it with cinnamon for breakfast but cooking it in veggie stock for dinner. It is one of my favorite things to eat. And we tell B that they are seeds like birdies eat. So many a times we sit around the table tweeting as we eat (and not the kind you do from your smartphone. Welcome to the crazy house.)

So as my quinoa spinach patties cooked up they got all crispy crunchy on the outside and were still pretty gooey on the inside (a combo that makes my taste receptors go all it's a party.) These babies were great but I don't know how they would fare on a grill. They stayed together pretty well in a pan and once all crunchy on both sides. I was also thinking how it would work if you made them ahead of time and refrigerated so they were a little more chilled together (and if you wouldn't be all quinoa sticky hands in the middle of your grill-fest party.) It was just me cooking for our little family out here so I wasn't too concerned about the sticky hands mess but since I like to have hoards of people around me when I am home (ask John how many time I thwarted his chance to propose because I had to invite everyone I knew to go with us everywhere. The more the merrier - unless you want to get engaged.) I always try to come up with way to make it work in a party or small get together or anywhere I would rather be drinking a beer and hanging out with friends than locked in the kitchen making a mess.

While the texture of the patties was great, the flavor was kind of underwhelming. Since I was tasting as I was mushing my quinoa and spinach and (flax) eggs together I just started dumping in spices. I added (in addition to the traditional salt and pepper) some cumin and extra garlic as well as some basil. I think in making these again I would cook the quinoa in veggie stock instead of water to give it some more flavor. So I highly recommend flavoring these to your liking.

I would also like to try it with more spinach. The spinach was more of an accent in this burger. I wanted it to be the main event. I know there would be a risk that the patties wouldn't stick together as well but I intend to play with adding more spinach next time. You can view the original recipe here.

This is how I cooked them up:

1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used Bob's Red Mill brand.)

2 cups of water (or veggie stock)

4 flax eggs (or regular eggs)

1 onion minced

1 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 cup steamed spinach

minced garlic

salt & pepper to taste

basil to taste

cumin to taste

olive oil (I used my Mistoto spray olive oil in the pan)

Directions:

Rinse the quinoa and bring the 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed the liquid -- about 15-20 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa (you may want to let it cool a bit first) the spinach, the onion, eggs, salt, pepper and any other spices you want to throw in there. Mix it all up and let it sit a few minutes to absorb the liquid and get gooey. Make into patties.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cook each patty about 8-10 minutes on each side or until they are golden crunchy and delicious looking.

Serve with or without buns.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shakeology - The thing I never knew I needed (and the post where I learned that I am really bad at spelling protein and caffeine)

A shake whose tagline is the "healthiest meal of the day." On youtube there are countless videos raving about how great it is. A quick google search will bring up pages and pages of blogs and websites that talk about how great this product is. It is actually hard to find anything that speaks against this product -- and that was what made me completely skeptical.

It was like Beachbody paid someone to delete every negative thing that could be said about this product (or bury it deep in the blogosphere.) I couldn't find anything negative about this product. I went through pages and pages of google results. And then I found I actually knew people who used it. And loved it. And raved about it on Facebook and on blogs. But before I can talk about how I got hooked on Shakeology there are a few things about me you have to understand.

Not so many years ago, I was a breakfast hater. I didn't want to eat when I was dragging myself out of bed. I wanted a gallon of coffee (intravenously if possible.) Caffeine and more caffeine. That was all I needed or wanted, sometimes until mid afternoon. I reached a point where I had read enough and heard enough about how important breakfast was and how to maintain a healthy weight it was necessary (the Special K commercials probably had something to do with that.) Just knowing that wasn't enough. I couldn't take my knowledge and use it to create an appetite. Smoothies were starting to gain popularity so I started throwing some juice and protein powder in the blender and calling it breakfast. And I was hungry. In like a half hour. So I started using juice that had more fiber and that helped a little.

Then I changed up my protein powder to one that was a little pricier but some of my family members had been using and they loved. It was super yummy and tasted like cake. (Yay cake!) It kept me full and I was obsessed. It was worth the price because it did what it was supposed to do. And then I started looking into the ingredients and was bummed with what I found -- artificial sweeteners and the like. I was at the point where I was trying to cut that stuff out. (I was seriously a Splenda addict. I could have my sweet tea and no calories too! Whoop!) I was at a place in my life where I was more concerned about health than weight. (So no more diet pills or crazy starvation diets. Because believe me I tried them all.) I had read enough books to really believe that food should be our fuel and our medicine -- that food should be something more than something that tastes good and ends the rumbling in our tummies. I was starting to expect more from my food.

So I was starting to educate myself on what nutrition meant and had started seeing some of my Facebook friends talk about this shake. Girls I had worked with in the past were posting recipes and talking about how it was nutritious and kept them full and tasted yummy and pretty much did everything except clean their bathrooms. So I thought I would give it a whirl. I did some searching in the land of google and found the price and almost fell off my stool. I remember this moment very clearly, sitting at the small high top table in the corner of my dining room that I have commandeered as my desk thinking, John will kill me.

But I figured if I love it and it does what it is supposed to do and all the crazy claims are right, it is worth it (and I could feasibly keep the cost a secret until the credit card bill came.) I can stop buying multi vitamins and other protein powders and expensive (yummy) fiber filled juices to mix with it. Plus it has a bottom of the bag guarantee (from Beachbody's FAQ page):



So I could return it - the company stands behind it and it seems like everyone who tries it stands behind it too. So I logged on and hit the confirm order button really quickly, possibly with my eyes shut (sometimes it seems less painful when I hit the button quickly with my eyes shut. Yes, this is how my brain works. Scary.)

It came. I tried it with water and ice (which was dumb) and I gagged. All I could taste was the wheat grass (which if you are unfamiliar it tastes kind of like what you would imagine lawn clippings to taste like.) I was sitting on my stool in the dining room again literally thinking, Well I will be sending this shit back and going right back to my yummy cake tasting deliciousness -- artificial sweeteners and all. This is so not going to work for me. But I had that bottom of the bag guarantee in my head and figured if I am going to send it back I am at least going to get everything out of it I can (I like to think of it as being frugal.) The rest of the day my tummy rumbled and I was sick. I thought I had the stomach flu. So I googled and read and there were a bunch of people out there with the same reaction. Their advice - cut your serving in half. Sometimes it takes your body time to adjust to all the "good stuff." (Again with the good stuff -- after researching my thoughts are that I was reacting to the probiotics and the Yacon Root which is known for promoting good digestion.) Plus I was regularly having tummy troubles due to the absence of one gall bladder which was taken that fall. My body was still getting used to digesting everything.

I continued trying the shakes. Day two I was really nervous about drinking it and it took me probably an hour and a half to consume it. I took teeny tiny sips (only using half the serving size) and it was better. No problems. It still didn't taste great. Tastes like a chocolate milkshake my ass.

After about a week, it didn't taste like lawn clippings anymore and I had been messing around with what else to add. A cup of almond milk, frozen strawberries and half a banana seemed to be my favorite. The banana cut some of the grittiness that comes with the vegan formula and the frozen fruit gave it that yummy, creamy texture I wanted in a shake. After one week I was hooked. (And I had lost 5 pounds - never to see it again as I continued on with my challenge group and clean eating journey.)

Before I knew it the month was up and I was hooked. I felt great. My digestive system was running in tip top shape (which is something I could never ever say before) and that whole helping with cravings thing -- so not a lie or a gimmick to get you to purchase. Maybe all those crazy people weren't just trying to bait me to buy from them. Maybe they actually believe in this product.

I went ahead with my order for a second month. By this time I had done a lot more research (and moved across the country.) I also found I could sign up as a discount coach and get this Shakeology stuff for 25% off (less the $15 monthly coach website fee.) Despite the fee, it would still save me a little less than $20 a month. So I jumped on board, because who doesn't want to save some money. (And I wish I would have written about Shakeology before I signed up to coach. The biggest reason I didn't trust it was because it was being endorsed by people selling it. There's a sucker born every day folks, but I am not one of them. I worked in sales. I am onto your shenanigans. Now I guess the shoe is on the other foot because here I am admitting to the blogosphere that I was wrong. (Ask John how I feel about being wrong and then how I feel about admitting it. To people. In writing.)

Shakeology has really changed my habits. It has kept me on track and I look forward to drinking it every day. My two year old also loves drinking "Mom's shake" (I make her a mini version with 1/4-1/3 a scoop of powder instead of a full scoop.) If we every get rid of Mom's shake in this house I may have a world class melt down on my hands, since she asks for it every day.




**UPDATE**

Last night Shakeology announced it's newest flavor, vanilla. This has been in the making for years. And while I am bummed it is a flavor only available in the whey protein (for now I hope!) and I know this won't work for me, the excitement behind it is contagious! I also am really geeked about the fact that they worked so hard to find the right flavors to make it without chemicals and additives. I am so impressed by the quality Beachbody strives for in its ingredients and products. This flavor has been asked for by customers for years. Beachbody could have taken (chemical) shortcuts to meet consumer demand, however they held off until they found ingredients that met the integrity of what Shakeology is all about. This video made me very proud to be a part of this company--And just as excited for the vanilla flavor as everyone else who is going to actually get to use it. (Fingers crossed vegan vanilla is next!) 








For more information on Shakeology check out the link below:

http://doesitreallywork.org/shakeology-review


Send me a message  or an email (I would love to chat with you!)

Or do your own research. Information is powerful and it's up to you to gather it and make your own assessments. (And yes, that is the English teacher in me rising up and taking over. Remember all those research papers you had to write in school? All the note cards you had to make? Who said it would never come in handy...)






No Looking Back - The Clean Eating Challenge

So Clean Eating. I've been talking about it a lot. I've been doing it (with some ups and downs) for almost 3 months and have had some amazing results. I have found that I have more energy. That the "rules" are easy to follow. I don't feel deprived. I love having a plan. And on those days I falter or feel like taking an entire bag of Ghiradelli chocolates to the face, I have my challenge group to fall back on. (Or report to depending on the day and the role I assigned them for that day.) Some days they are my police and some days they are my cheerleaders. And yes, most of them are strangers.

What?

Seriously.

Who is this person that has invaded my body and is talking about people online like they are real and able to do something as crazy as keep me in check and motivate me to be better? Who would've thought? It actually works. (To read more about my personal challenge group experience click here.)

So what exactly is a challenge group?

For this challenge, I am running a 30 day Clean Eating Challenge group. So you commit to me for 30 days. For these 30 days we are going to drink Shakeology every day and we are going to eat clean.

I am going to give you recipes. I am going to check in with you every day to see how you are doing, what you need and give you the support you need to meet your goals. Whether your goals are to start clean eating or to take your clean eating to the next level, we are going to cover that. Together. I am going to be right there beside you rocking some clean eating meals and snacks.

And it isn't going to be just me. There are going to be people you probably don't know in this group and they are going to be working toward the same goals you are. You can ask each other questions and benefit from what others have learned. All of this right there in a convenient, closed Facebook group. (So no one can see what you are posting in there each day, I swear.)

We are going to drink Shakeology - which is one thing I never really knew I needed until I had it in my life - as a meal replacement every day. (I like mine for lunch.) It will help keep you full, keep your cravings in check and make you feel awesome in all sorts of different ways.  And believe me when I say I didn't believe any of this stuff until I tried it. There are all sorts of buzzwords around Shakeology like super foods and the healthiest meal of the day. The marketing alone was enough to make me a skeptic. But I gave it a shot and this stuff seriously rocks. (Read about my experience with Shakeology here.)

We are going to check every day and post two things. If you had your shake and how your clean eating is going by rating it from 1-5 for the day. There will be ups and downs. There will be super awesome days and some cheat days. There will always be support, encouragement and tips on how to do it better tomorrow.

What is going to happen as a result of all this clean eating? More energy, more sparkle and feeling great on the inside and out. That whole foggy, tired I need a nap in the afternoon feeling will be lifted. (To read more about clean eating and the rules we will follow click here.)

So we are going to talk clean eating, share recipes and keep each other on track. We can do this. Together. Nothing is impossible especially when we are in it together. I will not let you fail.

My next challenge group is starting on July 15th and I can't wait! Message me for more details!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gooey, Yummy Orange Sauce (the way Chinese food is supposed to be sauced)

I love Chinese food. So much. But since being exiled to to the Pacific Northwest, I have found that there aren't any crazy good places to get Chinese food out here. So I started googling and Pinterest-ing (is that a verb yet?) and have tried scads of stir fry and other supposed "takeout fakeout" recipes. Nothing has come close to even touching my Chinese food want. The sauces are too runny and thin or they have a blah flavor or they call for way too much spice (probably to mask the fact that there is no real flavor in there in the first place.)

Well I have a huge announcement because I have found a sauce that makes me jump up in down in happy circles (or maybe hum to my food while I eat it and chair dance.) And it was toddler approved, which is a big deal in this house these days.

What I like about this recipe is that it is for a sauce. It is super quick and easy and I can throw in there anything I want. This time it was with a bag of frozen veggie stir fry plus some extra peas for B and whatever veggies I had in the fridge that needed eating (or tossing soon!) I was due for some seafood so I cooked up some shrimp for in there too (easily swapped with chicken, beef or tofu.) Then I threw it all over some brown rice. Done. Dinner in 20 minutes or less. My kind of cooking.

So the origin of this recipe was an article on Yahoo Voice by Natalie Ivette. I made some changes to clean it up and it was awesome. It got thick and yummy and made everything kind of goo together in the best possible way. For the juices, I squeezed my own. There wasn't a ton of juice called for an it only took a few minutes. The recipe called for brown sugar and I subbed honey.  I also used the soy sauce. I have read conflicting things about soy sauce. Some say it's not clean. Some say it is okay in small amounts. Again I use it probably less than once a week so I'm not going to sweat it. If it was something I used all the time, I would be more concerned. I did read the labels and try to find one without scary ingredients. (The one I found had six ingredients and they were all things I could recognize - like soybeans and vinegar.) I have also read conflicting views on cornstarch. Again, I barely use it so I wasn't worried (and that was what I had in my pantry.) In the future, I will probably switch to arrowroot as a thickening agent.

Orange Sauce for Chinese Stir-fry 


- 2/3 cup orange juice (I squeezed some oranges)

- 1 teaspoon lime juice (again from a lime not a bottle)

- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

- 1 teaspoon honey

- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

- 3/4 teaspoon grated ginger

- 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

- 2 tablespoons water

Directions:


1) In a small bowl, combine orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, vinegar and honey. In another, combine cornstarch and water - stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.
2) In a skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat. When really hot, sautee garlic and ginger for 1 to 2 minutes- do not let stick. (I might have skipped this step and it all turned out fine.)
3) Give orange juice mixture a stir and pour it into skillet. Bring to a boil for a minute or so.
4) Reduce heat to low and add dissolved cornstarch, while stirring. (You want to be sure to stir constantly, until completely combined, or the cornstarch could clump while adding to hot liquid!)
5) Turn the heat back up to medium and stir continuously until sauce thickens considerably. It should thickly coat the back of the spoon. 
At this point I set the sauce aside and cooked my veggies, shrimp and rice. I wanted the sauce to get extra thick (I was paranoid it wouldn't thicken as I haven't had much luck in the past.)







Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why I sucked it up and joined a challenge group (And now have to put my foot in my mouth)

What the heck is a challenge group?

Typically that is what I hear (peppered with a tone that reads "you are the mayor of crazytown") when I tell people what I have been up to and involved in the last two months. And a few months ago I would have been the one to roll my eyes and and mock the entire thing. Repeatedly. Because honestly, how are a group of strangers on the internet really going to help me? I have friends. I don't need pretend ones online. How in the hell would this give me any type of accountability or motivation?

But I had been watching some old friends on my Facebook feed talk about these groups and their successes and I reached a point where I figured I had nothing to lose (and yes, I was desperate.) I was working out and counting calories with no changes happening. I was frustrated and angry and decided to put my foot in my mouth when I found that I was indeed wrong about the entire thing.
(And I kept the fact that I joined group a secret for probably a month because I don't like to be wrong. Ever. Ask my husband.)

I sent an email to my friend Katy and asked her if she had any room left in a group she was starting. I didn't really know what I was getting into or what the rules were. Just that she was going to put me into a closed group on Facebook with a bunch of strangers. (And to be honest, I didn't even know what a closed group was. I kept checking my wall to make sure my group posts weren't there for all to see.)

So here are some basics:

A challenge group is a closed group on Facebook. It is either 30, 60 or 90 days. You commit to this group and in doing so commit to trying Shakeology, commit to checking in every day and in some groups commit to doing a fitness program or working out in some way.

When you check in every day you rate your day on 1-5 for your diet, your workout and a yes or no if you had your Shakeology that day.

Some groups are really specific, that all members are completing a certain program together (think Insanity) and are there to complain about Shawn T and pull each other through when you really just don't think you can look at his face anymore.

Some groups are only for clean eating and everyone shares recipes and tips and tricks.

Some groups are super flexible and allow you to do whatever workout you want as long as you workout.

They are all the same in that you participate, set some goals and make it happen.

There were some times I fell off the wagon. Where it would have been easier to quit and not workout and to eat some cake. (Yay cake!) But being in a group like this made me feel like I had to keep going. (Honestly, I probably wouldn't have finished Insanity if it wasn't for my group. After moving across the country and missing 5 days I was so ready to just throw in the towel. But I knew they would know if I quit.) And I enjoyed seeing what everyone was posting and what they were doing. And all the crazies working out 2 times a day made me want to push more.  I was not going to let some stranger get better results than I was. There were times that knowing I would have to post changed what I put in my mouth. If I had pizza for dinner it was totally going to make my food intake for the day go from a 5 to a 3. I know it sounds silly. I really thought so too until I was involved. I mean who would be the wiser if I lied. But if I lied, I would only be cheating myself. And haven't I done that enough already?


So my advice is to get over yourself and join a challenge group. What do you have to lose?





**I am ready to share the love and have new challenge groups starting all the time. Message me for details!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Shakeo Cleanse (and how I kept my inner fat kid out of the candy jar for 3 days)

We traveled. Across the country. And we hooked up with a bunch of family and friends. It was awesome. And filled with lots of food and beers. So after a big old five day party and back to my temporary Pacific Northwest (West Coast sounds so much more glamourous and warm than it really is) residence, this Pittsburgh girl felt like poo. I was tired and bloated and gross from the air travel, the airport food, and all the eating out we did when we were "visiting" our real home and the beer thirty celebrations. So I woke up to a pretty empty fridge and decided to just do it and try the three day Shakeology cleanse.

I have been drinking Shakeology as a meal replacement for about two months now and I dig it. It has done right by me in ways other protein powders and meal replacements have not (think along the lines of helping a lot of my stomach problems.) To do the cleanse, two meals are replaced by Shakeology, for three days. Plus, one of my big time goals is to quit refined sugar. (And keep my fat girl hands out of the candy jar.) I was hoping *fingers crossed* that this would be a great way to get me started on that so hard it makes me want to cry challenging path.

So the layout is this:

2-3 shakes a day made with water and 1/2 cup fruit (this is optional) and ice (as much as you want. Go crazy here folks, cause the unlimited anything is hard to find during the three days).

2 pieces of fruit a day as snacks in between your shakes

Tons and tons of water (again. Be wild. Go crazy. Drink 100 oz of water. Whatever you need to do.)

A big old salad (ok a salad with 3 servings of veggies and a 4 oz serving of protein. Yay protein!)

As I perused the internet I found this cleanse as a 3 day and a 5 day and with 2 shakes a day and with 3 shakes a day. Since I started day one with the 2 shakes/2 fruits for 3 days mindset, that is what I stuck to. If you want to try out something different. Rock it and let me know how it worked. (Because seriously by the time it was over I was ready to stab someone for a piece of bread.)


Below are my day by day frustrations challenges and successes. Go me!

Day One:

Since I am not rushing out the door at the crack of dawn as much as I am running up and down stairs, taking out dog 1, feeding dog 2, feeding dog 1, taking out dog 2, getting B her milk and breakfast, making coffee and taking care of yucky household stuff such as emptying the dishwasher (it is so easy and mindless but I really have a deep seeded hate for this chore.) I like to eat a non-liquid breakfast. It might be an indulgence, since it was something I loved doing on the weekends when I was working M-F, but it is what I do. Plus I dig my coffee and adding a shake to that makes it way too much liquid for me at once. Either my coffee is too cold by the time I am done with my shake or my shake is too warm by the time I am done with my coffee. I just can't find a good balance. My shake usually finds its happy spot as my mid morning snack.

Today, I am jet lagged from traveling over the holiday weekend and crossing time zones for just long enough to get adjusted only to leave again. I cheated and had one (giant mug) of coffee this morning instead of tea. I also had my snack (an apple which B ate probably half of) for breakfast and my shake as my morning snack. This is the first time I used water and not almond milk. Although I did put in 4 frozen strawberries and a ton of ice. It tastes more like a fruit sorbet freezy drink than my normal shake. Which I kind of like. I was dreading using water and afraid the grassy grainy taste (all I could taste the first week I started using Shakeology) would be overpowering again. But it is tasty.

I started counting down to my one real meal (a salad) at around lunchtime. I had my strawberries and found myself watching the clock. Trying to time my next shake to last me to dinner and counting down until when I could have that and my salad. I was hungry and headache-y. I don't know if it was from just the cleanse or from being jet lagged too.

My salad was pretty much the best salad ever. I marinated some tofu and dumped it on top. (I didn't really know how to measure 4 oz of tofu so I kind of guessed based on hand size portioning.) I also probably wasn't allowed the avocado I put on there or the sunflower seeds. But if the only thing I am allowed is a salad, I am having a rockin' salad. I topped it off with some yummy ginger dressing. Yum!

I did cheat a little and shove a banana in my face around 8 o'clock. It could've been a lot worse. Evening time after we put B to bed is my witching hour and when I am most likely to cave and have a big old hunk of chocolate.

Day Two:


Down 2.2 pounds! Whoot! Now I know most of this was probably water from flying etc. (flying always makes me puffy) but I feel better. Less bloated and gross. More "back to normal" and a lot better than yesterday. I have some energy this morning. I didn't have to drag myself out of bed (even though B climbed into our bed sometime in the middle of the night. At one point I found myself clinging to the mattress for dear life. Why do the smallest kids take up the most space. Baby starfish.)

But I was able to do a Turbo Fire workout (yay! I seriously am obsessed with this program.) Since I haven't officially started to follow the schedule yet I just did the 30 minute Fire and the 20 minute Core dvd's (the core dvd is kind of awesome!) I eagerly awaited all my shakes and snacks (like a crazy person pacing in the kitchen watching the clock on the stove) but feel so much better than yesterday until about late afternoon. By then I was tired, something I didn't experience on Day one so much. Maybe it was the workout that did me in? (Light exercise is recommended but since Turbofire is high energy dancy kickboxing fun-ness it may have been the culprit.) But I was hungry all afternoon and evening. (I may have cheated and had some air popped popcorn but I ate it plain so it was like 30 calories. And it kind of gave me that feeling that I cheated and was bad without really doing anything crazy--like taking a bag of M & M's to the face.)

My salad was awesome! (But I do feel like any "real" meal I get to eat at this point would be, in fact, the most awesome tastiest meal ever so I may be a little biased. You have been warned.) I roasted up a big old portobello mushroom cap stuffed with the leftover most amazing to-feta ever (the recipe for it is here) and it rocked. That to-feta is amazing hot. And again with the avocado but I had the willpower to skip the seeds tonight. It might have been the big old hot steaming mushroom just wilting the lettuce right that made it look just right without too many add ons. And the steamy juicy goodness dribbled all over the leaves (mainly from the marinated tofu. I didn't add anything extra to the mushroom) so I used minimal dressing. The dressing was a tart and tangy (no sugar added! And no fake sugar -- no cheating with any of those chemical laden gems in this house) berry vinaigrette. Great stuff.

No cheating after dinner either. I kind of had a headache despite the 6 giant Camelback water bottles full of water I drank so I curled up in bed early. (and by early I mean I passed the reigns onto my hubby and went to bed before my two-year-old.)


Day Three:

I woke up and eagerly jumped on the scale. And it was the same. Not much for a motivator there but I knew I wanted to write about this mini cleanse that everyone loves to hate so I plodded along. I savored my banana breakfast and felt good enough to work out again. So I rocked some Turbofire goodness. (I shot for the 45 minute class and rocked it. The music is so good I could feel like a zombie and it would still light a fire under my ass! love.) Day Three was pretty similar to Day Two. I felt good all morning and then around mid afternoon (I call this my witching hour because all I ever want to do is snack) I started to get really hungry and tired. And again cheated with the air popped popcorn (plain, I swear!) 

And I made this super crazy good Tilapia for protein on top of my salad. Now it was breaded (healthfully breaded) but that probably wasn't allowed either. But it was seriously fantastic. And I was craving something hot and crunchy and this fit the bill perfectly. I am now obsessed with this recipe (read about that here.) I can't wait to make it again. I still added my avocado and some strawberries to change it up a bit. I used the same ginger dressing as I did the first day. 

I went to bed early again. Not quite as early as Day Two (I at least waited until B was in bed this time!) and I laid there are read for a while. No headache tonight either which was good.


Day Four:


Okay so there is no Day Four unless you are following the Five Day Cleanse if there is such a thing. (Sometimes the internet has too much information and it is too easy for everyone to post whatever.)

But for me today was RESULTS DAY! Eeeek! and I was down another 1.6 lbs! Yay! So for me on this cleanse it meant I lost a total of 3.8 lbs. Throw me a parade! And I know most of it was guck I accumulated from travel and that it wasn't real true weight (fat) loss but it put me back where I was before I had my mini vaca -- and then some. In reality, this was the goal. 



I also really felt like it got me back on track much faster than I have ever gotten back on track after traveling in the past. It is hard to get my taste buds away from craving cake and fatty foods even though my body was screaming for salads. Even John was happy with the lighter fare for dinner each night. (Yes I made him eat the same thing. We live by the if you don't like it make your own dinner rule around here.) 

Amazingly enough doing this cleanse has also helped me with my own personal sugar war. I have always had a crazy bad sweet tooth and when my friend Katy told me that Shakeology helped her with cravings I kind of blew her off. I mean, what a sales pitch. It really makes it sound like a gimick or some get skinny fast nonsense. I was already sold on trying Shakeology based on my own research so she really didn't need to try that hard. After almost two months of one a day Shakeo, I did notice that I wasn't thinking about the leftover chocolate buried in the back of the cupboard (where I would have to work really hard to get it) quite so often. There were days and times that I did and I had to fight those urges off (or drag a chair over the baby gate and remove all the pots and pans to reach it.) But after this

two a day Shakeo stuff, I honestly have very little desire for anything crazy and sugary. I also feel like if there was a giant piece of cake with that really good icing (you know the kind I am talking about) I wouldn't have to sit on my hands to keep from shoving the entire thing in my face. Progress! Hooray! 

I am not making any promises that I can keep from eating cake but June is kicking off my 30 days of no  refined added sugar (meaning fruit is still okay and in small amounts so is honey and pure maple syrup--these are my own personal rules for no reason other than I don't want be a sugar addict anymore.) I am really feeling like this may have gotten me off to the right start. Here's to the next 29 days! 


**If you are interested in Shakeology or have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! Message me on Facebook or leave a comment below.



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Crunchy Tilapia (so good it makes me do my happy dance)

So I used to love chicken nuggets and I knew the greasy (yummy) fried ones were really bad for me. That being pretty much common knowledge for everyone on the planet, I started buying chicken and breading it (in Panko! OMG I love panko so much.) and making some awesomely tasty chicken nuggets in the oven free of all the grease, chemicals and stuff that generally falls in the bad for you category. I seriously ate this multiple times a week when I was pregnant and John was traveling for work. It was like my inner child was doing a happy dance since Mom finally let us go to McDonald's and get a happy meal (with a really good toy! And I wasn't allowed McD's as a kid. Or sugar cereal. or anything that might have been tasty in the 80's and early 90's. I literally had a t-shirt that said "if you love me don't feed me junk" Then I was all Mom you suck. Now I am thanking my Mom all the time. And blaming my food crazy obsessions on her.)

For the first half of my pregnancy I pretty much rocked some crispy crunchy panko breaded chicken on a regular basis. Then, towards the middle/end of said pregnancy chicken started to make me gag. Two years later it still makes me gag. I can't touch it, see it, think about it without getting a little gag-y. (All the books and documentaries don't help this situation.) I have pretty much sworn off chicken.

What in the world does all this chicken talk have to do with Tilapia? Well just because the thought of eating chicken makes my stomach cry doesn't mean I don't crave that crunchy nugget-ness that chicken has all the real estate in. What about fish? Fish sticks usually conjure up the image of lumpy soggy gross cafeteria food but there is no reason that fish can't deliver that happy dance to my tummy the way chicken used to.

I told you the pic was totally lickable!
So I have experimented with breading fish and it is really hard to get it crunchy! I don't know if fish just naturally makes things a bit soggier or what but I always ended up with one side kind of crunchy and the other side--well I just scrape all the soggy crumbs into the sink and eat that side naked. But looking at the picture of this recipe in the cookbook, Clean Eating for Busy Families, it made me want to lick the page. (I still want to lick the page, especially now that I have made it and found it to be fantastic.) Since I hadn't been to the store (I was doing a 3 day cleanse - read about that here - and I didn't trust myself not to open a giant bag of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn and eat it in the middle of the isle. That stuff is like crack. I have to avoid walking past it in the store or multiple bags of it seem to leap into my cart on by their own will.) I was working off of what I could find in the house. Frozen tilapia, check. Pistachios umm...no but I did have cashews. Zero eggs but I had flax (which really is an awesome egg substitute.) Whole grain totilla chips--absolutely not (we would have had the popcorn scenerio in the kitchen every day of this cleanse around 3 p.m.) But I had some Panko. Let's do this!

So I did it and it rocked.

This book rocks. Quick & easy recipes. You should get one (or two and give it away as an awesome present!)


Here is the recipe I followed. (Based on Michelle Dudash's recipe in Clean Eating for Busy Families)

Ingredients:

1 flaxseed "egg"

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (I used dried cilantro so I cut this in half)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I used Annie's brand horseradish mustard)

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 ground up cashews (I threw them in the food processor and they made an awesome finely ground powder)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of chili powder (which I skipped cause I don't do spicy)

1 lb tilapia fillets

Directions:

The "egg," cilantro and mustard get combined to make kind of a paste.

So all of rest of the ingredients (minus the tilapia) get combined in a bowl (or a long shallow tupperware as I find it easier to coat the pieces of fish.)

First schmear the fish with the cilantro and mustard goo (this could be super fun & messy job for kids of the appropriate age) then into the breading bowl the tilapia go. Coat well on both sides. (I found it to be easier to goo one side then place it in the breading and then goo the other side and flip it. But however you can get it to work.)

Bake for 14 minutes at 425. I baked them for 8 minutes on one side and then flipped them for the remaining 7. This allowed both sides to get crunchy (which made this heaven for me.)

I would love to try this recipe with the pistachios.  My cookbook tells me they are chock full of protein (1 oz has as much protein as 1 oz of red meat) and since my diet is generally meat-less I am always looking for plant based protein sources.

There is also a simple sauce that goes with it. Since I don't do dairy I would have to come up with a sub for the mayo but I will include it for all of you diary eating folk.

1/4 cup mayo
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 pinch chili powder
1 pinch salt

Blend all ingredients and viola sauce!

So easy. So quick. So great.

(and awesome on top of a big old yummy salad!)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...