Clean Eating Challenge, Days 16 & 17

I’ve hit a wall. I’m frustrated with this challenge. I expected better results than what I’m seeing and I’m not sure if the few days that I haven’t stuck to it hard-core has made the difference or if I’m doing something wrong. The only other thing I could think of is that I’m not bringing in ENOUGH calories. Like that’s ever been an issue before! I’ve added in boxing classes with my running workouts – which now consist of training for a 5K. It’s hard to get excited about something at the moment though, because I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time, energy and money, and I’m not seeing the results I want or expect.

chicken-riceDinner last night was a mix of leftover “tropical chicken” (aka chicken, salsa and pineapple in the crockpot) with onions, rice and zucchini. It was kind of a twist on fried rice? I used rice wine, and rice vinegar, a splash of balsamic vinegar, grapeseed oil, and garlic powder for the seasoning. It was hard not using teriyaki or soy sauce, and I was trying to emulate the flavors I would have gotten from those by also adding sesame oil and salt. It turned out pretty tasty, and I added some sunflower seeds on top for crunch. I think it would have been better if I had used pecans or walnuts, though – I just didn’t have any.

Clean Eating Challenge, Days 12-15

Sorry to all my readers for my lack of posting. Let’s just say, I fell off the clean eating bandwagon face first and am now scrambling to get back on. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were long days of working and foodie temptation.

Let me just start the remainder of this post off by saying, I am going to be confessing to you all, to get rid of my guilty conscience.

Friday, I had alfredo sauce at Olive Garden. Saturday was processed maple syrup on waffles, Sunday was a turkey, bacon, guacamole sandwich and fries, and yesterday was a taco bowl from Qdoba. Now, all of these were screw ups at one meal in the day…so some people would say don’t sweat it. But I don’t agree. This “clean eating thing” I’m doing is supposed to be a lifestyle adjustment, not a fad diet. So while after the 28 days I may indulge in something that’s not clean, during this initial detox period, I need to be less lenient. I wish there was a clean eating friendly restaurant.

stuffed-bell-pepperThat being said, dinner last night was stuffed bell peppers with ground turkey and dairy-free cheese. They weren’t bad! I take my accomplishment from the fact that my hubby said they looked and smelled good. Reminder – stuffed bell pepper is meat stuffed in a vegetable and not the other way around. If you knew him, you’d understand the accomplishment. I didn’t use rice in my peppers, just the meat and veggies (zucchini, tomatoes and spices), and it was really tasty.

Now let’s focus on some good habits moving forward.

1) This morning, I tried a trick I learned from my Arbonne consultant and added some organic peppermint extract to my banana chocolate shake. Add a straw and it tastes like a milkshake! Hello pick-me-up!

2) Oh, and I’m excited because Cooking Light put out a gluten free cookbook!

3) I’m now actively involved in training for a 5K after the first of the year with one of my coworkers, and going to be trying out a Tuesday night boxing class to get moving more often and be held accountable for what I’m doing.

New adventure, here we come.

Clean Eating Challenge, Days 8, 9, 10 & 11

I hate to admit it, but for the past 3 days, my clean eating challenge had to go out the window. But it was for good reason.

Archery Rough Creek 2014zipline rough creek 2014The amazing owners of the company where I work decided to take us on a three-day retreat to work on the business, and it was at this gorgeous ranch in the middle of Texas. Though they were somewhat accommodating to a gluten-free lifestyle, the other restrictions of the clean-eating challenge were much harder to follow and accommodate. I would have been eating nothing for three days. The bright side, is that the chef was a high class chef who made everything in house. I’m pretty sure they even slaughtered their own beef somewhere. Meaning there wasn’t anything processed. And they were bound and determined that we would NOT go hungry. Not that I minded. We ate these elaborate, delicious three course meals with bottomless glasses of whatever we chose, and more food than we could ever finish. The other plus side was that we were active the entire time we were there – walking, running, shooting, climbing, you name it – we did it. Except maybe swimming – that might be the one exception. To be honest, I’m sure that something that I’ve eliminated from my lifestyle is for the better, because there was more than once that my stomach was not pleased with me. I just don’t know if it was potatoes or dairy.

Back to “reality” today, day 11. It’s been 11 days since I’ve had coffee or soda. Eleven days that I’ve avoided fast food and refined sugar, and for the most part, processed anything. I’m pretty proud of myself, but still find that I’m craving junk. I still don’t think that I’m drinking enough water, and the smell of coffee makes my mouth water. I could always be doing better using my Arbonne products and really sticking to a strict intake of food and output of calories. Today I found that I was tired and worn down, and I’m not sure if it was from the trip and the related catch-up at work, or if it was because of what I did and didn’t eat while we were out.

broccoli-pesto-chicken-pastaDinner tonight was simple, but tasty. I made a broccoli walnut pesto, and mixed it with George-Foreman-grilled chicken and brown rice pasta. The pesto was, frankly, frustrating. It didn’t want to blend just right and I’m not sure what I was doing wrong. But once it finally (kind-of) came together, it was really good.

I worry that overall I’m doing something wrong, because in the mornings and afternoons, the shakes are enough to fill me up for a reasonable amount of time. Maybe it has something to do with not working out enough? I want to get up in the mornings and workout, but I also really like getting a full eight hours of sleep and feel like that might be a crucial step I’ve been missing in the past. Sleep is so important to a healthy lifestyle.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Clean Eating Challenge, Days 5, 6 & 7

Woohoo, it’s the weekend! Hence why I haven’t posted in three days. And what an interesting three days they’ve been in terms of this challenge.

Friday, day 5, was pretty easy – two shakes for my first two meals, and then I made hummus and scrambled eggs for dinner, with some leftover roasted sweet potatoes. My hubby came home a little later than normal, and I was nice enough to order him a pizza for dinner. It seemed to please him!

Saturday, we started out at the Farmer’s Market, and then we took a trip to the city, and that was my first experience since starting the challenge of being out and about all day. Note to self, plan snacks better, and bring more water. Our breakfast out was meager, because apparently “light” meals equal egg beaters. Blech. So come 10:30, I was starving and cranky. We ended up at Whole Foods and got some scrumptious brown rice sushi and I was a much happier person! Not going to lie, though, walking around there, I sure do miss bread, coffee and cheese. That store is just an overwhelming happy place with all the smells. We meandered in the produce section and one of the stockers asked us if we wanted to try some of the more exotic fruits. But of course we do! Rambutan, Mangosteen and Gooseberries; each was such a unique flavor profile and extremely delicious! I also got some quinoa, and am going to be trying some Ezekiel bread.

Today, Sunday, I discovered the health food store in town, and it broke all my previous expectations! I thought it would be more like a GNC – all vitamins and maybe some protein powders. No! It was like a mini-Whole Foods! They had all kinds of things, including a small freezer section! (Note my excitement due to all the exclamation points.) I found a raw protein bar that had only good things, and my new tea addiction, peach Steaz. I actually tried one (for the first time) with my sushi yesterday, and am super excited that I found it in town. They also had dairy free cheese and gluten free bread, so I made cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries for dinner – I’ve only been craving a cheeseburger since Tuesday! I was pleasantly surprised by the Udi gluten-free bread, I couldn’t tell the difference. My final experiment for the evening was protein balls using Arbonne chocolate protein powder, gluten free flour, almond butter, agave, a small pinch of cinnamon and a sprinkling of cocoa powder with some chia seeds for crunch. I stuck them in the freezer to try tomorrow, hopefully they turn out! I’m sure this will be a continuous experiment.

The next few days are going to be challenging. I’m going on a retreat for my job, and though I’m super excited about it, I think the dietary restrictions are going to be interesting. They have a gluten free menu, which is helpful, and I’m going to take my protein with me and some snacks, but still. The worst part will be the happy hour and the “s’mores on the patio” – I want to partake and not be rude, but it breaks everything! Dilemmas.

P.S. sorry for the complete lack of pictures. Like I said – busy weekend!

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 4

Day 4, I got my products! It was very exciting to see that huge box on my doorstep! I’m super excited to try it out. I did add some fiber boost to the dinner I made last night, and it really is tasteless and odorless, and the best part, in my opinion, is it doesn’t change anything in your dish – it’s not a thickener, it doesn’t make it runny, anything like that. So it’s not going to affect the dish if you add it.

I did have two shakes yesterday – one for breakfast and one for lunch, and I didn’t seem to have any problems with being starving. At least, not more than normal. It took a few hours, and it was dinner time, and then I was hungry. But I’ve been doing really well with spacing out my meals and snacks throughout the day. It’s almost becoming a second nature. Now I just need to work on drinking more water. Baby steps!

cauliflower-pastaYesterday was (unfortunately) one of those days. And with my emotional eating, all I wanted to do was drive over to Wayne’s, get a burger and a cherry limeade, and eat my feelings. Instead, I went to the grocery store and bought healthy, gluten free ingredients for dinner. Except that one I had to send my hubby for later.

roasted-vegetableDinner last night was a completely different one than I’ve ever tried before, but it was comfort food all the same, and that’s what I needed. Completely vegan and gluten free too! I made a cauliflower “alfredo” sauce, rice pasta, and roasted veggies. The cauliflower alfredo took some toying with – so I’ll post a recipe for that one later. The pasta, though it was rice pasta instead of wheat pasta, was really good! Neither of us could tell the difference and my hubby even went back for seconds – which means it must have tasted good.

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 3

Yesterday was day three and so far the hardest day yet. Normally, on Wednesdays, I go and get some “fancy coffee” and breakfast on my way to work. Instead, I made a shake and headed to work. Thankfully I don’t drive right past the fancy coffee or it would be even harder. We also went out to dinner with some good friends, and the salad that I had, had cheese on it. I read the listing for it, but didn’t even think to ask or skimmed over it without realizing – I’m not sure which. At least the restaurant we went to somewhat prides itself on good ingredients, so I knew what I was eating was a good choice. Surprisingly enough – I didn’t eat the whole salad! Very unusual for me. When I brought this all up to my hubby, he pointed out that I felt bad about it, which would reaffirm the reason I’m doing this challenge, so I shouldn’t be too concerned with a little slip-up. I think he’s right.

I know it’s only been three days, but I can already see/feel some improvement. I wish I would have taken my “before” picture on Monday when I started this – I had decided to wait until I was actually using the Arbonne products (which should be tomorrow hopefully!). I notice that some of the bloat is gone, that I’m not tired all day, that I sleep a lot better, and I’m not eating as much (most of the time) – oh and I’m in a relatively better mood all day. I definitely have to rethink how I see my food, though, because I don’t have any leftovers to eat for lunch on day 4 – so I can’t just run down to the sandwich shop and grab a bite, I need to find an alternative. Maybe I’ll try two shakes.bear-necessities

And with that – I leave you with a reminder. Look for the bare necessities, forget about your worry and your strife. And this dancing bear. Happy Thursday!

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 2

Day 2 was a little more trying than day 1. Though I didn’t get a headache from no coffee! I figured out that I’m an emotional eater, and that is going to come back to bite me be my biggest challenge. Though I did manage to show restraint and not completely blow it! Now I just need to be more consistent with my workouts.

I’ve found that I’m already sleeping better, and by using the schedule that I’m on now, I’m easily getting a full eight hours. I think by continuing on this trend instead of cutting it short to six or seven, the results may be better…but we’ll see – that means that I have to continue to workout in the afternoons.

chicken-fajita-saladSo, dinner last night was fajitas! It’s interesting that Mexican food, in the most traditional, no fluff sense, is the common theme for these meals. Week one had taco salad and enchiladas on the menu, and fajitas was in another week. I think it’s because of the emphasis on vegetables and grilled meats. And not everything has to be covered in a sauce, like in most Tex-Mex restaurants. For my fajitas, I used leftover rotisserie and oven-roasted chicken, cooked everything in grapeseed oil, and added some spices. I served mine over a bed of greens with some of the cilantro lime rice from last night, and Morgan’s was on a tortilla with cheese. It was definitely tough not to have cheese and tortillas with my fajitas, but the flavors were bold enough that I was only missing it a little once I started eating it.

Let’s talk about this picture. See that green stuff on top? Looks like some high-fat, you shouldn’t eat that kind of sauce, doesn’t it? Let me tell you…it’s not! It’s paleo, vegan, gluten-free and clean. I found it on Pinterest, which led me to a blog called Feed Me Rachel, while searching for an avocado ranch. It uses avocados and coconut milk, salt, dill, garlic and onion powders and lemon juice to keep it from turning brown. It was pretty delicious and I still have enough for the rest of the week if I wanted to use it! Didn’t taste exactly like a mixture of avocados and buttermilk ranch, but with these fajitas, it didn’t need to! And it took the place of sour cream – since we can’t have dairy on this clean eating challenge.

A few people have asked me why in the world I’m avoiding coffee, and what is this clean eating thing I’m doing? I’m happy to tell them that I’m doing it for my health, and if weight loss is a side effect, I won’t complain. That it’s called a challenge for a reason – it’s not meant to be easy, and it challenges the “normal” diet of processed food. It is also challenging what we’re doing that seems healthy, like making small substitutions, and forces us to follow a strict, clean diet – almost in an experimental, “Try it and see what happens” sense. I am also sure to sneak in that I’m using Arbonne products to help me along the way.

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 1

Yesterday was day one of the Arbonne clean eating challenge, and “challenge” was exactly the right word for it. It was the first time in months that I didn’t drink a cup of coffee, and I was making conscious, informed choices about what I was eating. My products, like my energy fizz sticks, won’t be here until Thursday, so maybe it will be good for me to get off the caffeine a little bit. I’m also so used to adding flavor to my waters, like the Kool-Aid, Crystal Light or Mio flavor infuser liquid, but once I looked at the ingredients and realized it contained a lot of things I couldn’t pronounce, I decided against it. Instead, I made a big jug of Tazo passion tea.

Okay, so I do have to admit… the food was pretty darn good! For breakfast, I had oatmeal with blueberries. Lunch was leftover kale and hummus salad with sweet potatoes. I snuck in a quick workout after work and a protein shake.

arbonne-taco-saladDinner was the first meal from the challenge recipes, a taco salad, with the addition of all natural ground turkey. Honestly, everything was already what I was used to eating, for the most part. It was a lot of familiar flavors. The taco salad was different because I made the cilantro lime brown rice from the set of recipes (YUM!) and I used rice chips for mine (double-YUM!). (Anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to taste these delicious vegan/gluten free chips… go, buy some now. They’re awesome!) I also made fresh chunky guacamole like I used to make all the time in college… and I’m pretty sure my hubby wanted to lick the bowl.

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I have to admit that I wish results were overnight… but who doesn’t? I’m looking forward to my products getting here so that I can use the fizz sticks and the fiber… I think that will help it feel more like a lifestyle change and less like a challenge. I’m also looking forward to doing some more research on recipes I can use in the long haul.

The Past Few Weeks

The past few weeks have been busy to say the least. I haven’t been cooking much, we’ve been eating corndogs from the freezer, eating out, and the occasional home cooked goodness.

Here are a couple of things I’ve made in the past few weeks.

Image Gluten Free Crock-Pot Chicken and Dumplings

 

Image Home-made strawberry shortcake with whole wheat biscuits and home-made whipped cream

 

 

Image Healthier Eggplant Parmesan – not swimming in sauce, and a touch spicy

Sushi and Sandwiches

DSC_0003This post should have been done a couple days ago, but what can I say, life got in the way a little bit. Last week, we made sushi. And when I say “we,” I do mean WE! My hunny helped – he even made two rolls by himself! I was very proud! This time around for sushi, we got tuna and crabmeat, and we made a spicy crab with avocado and a cucumber tuna, and then mixed the two together. With some edamame, we were pretty much at our limit with three rolls. It was delicious.

DSC_0010Two days later, I made a delicious seared ahi sandwich. The idea came from when I worked at a restaurant in Scottsdale, and they made a very similar sandwich as one of the seasonal menu offerings. It is addictively good, and when I have fresh tuna on hand, I’d be silly NOT to try to make it! It’s creamy and delicious, with just a little kick and will leave you wanting to lick your plate. What I really like about this, is that I could probably make this a completely local meal. Oh, and on the side, I made the PRETTIEST oven baked fries that were so good.

DSC_0008I want to take a second and rave about a little spice shop that I stumbled upon in Key West, Florida. They are called The Spice and Tea Exchange, and they have a whole host of different spices and spice blends, as well as a whole wall of different kinds of salts and teas. I was in hog heaven in this store. I bought a “Pirate’s Bite” blend from them for my buddy who loves spicy food and he adores it, even if it does make him sweat. The spice I used on my fries is a garlic blend from these folks, and I think they are whole-heartedly deserving of some likes on Facebook – they even take orders online. Check them out!

Seared Ahi and Brie Sandwiches

Ingredients

Tuna filets – one per two people, cut in half lengthwise (through the thick portion to create two thin filets)

Really good quality bread, ciabatta is delicious for this, two slices per sandwich about the same size as your filets

1 tart green apple or a pear, cored and thinly sliced

Brie cheese, thinly sliced (make sure to not use the end with the wrapping on it, it doesn’t taste as good)

Fig jam (this is key to balance the flavors!)

A tangy, spicy aioli (For ours, we used mayo, sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, whole grain mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper – all mixed together until it tasted good. A little heavy on the mustard and hot sauce to balance the sweetness of the fig jam)

Instructions – this is so easy!

Make your aioli, to your tastes. It should be a little heavier on the mayo, mustard and hot sauce. You’re going for tangy with a spicy kick.

Salt and pepper both sides of your tuna. Preheat a pan on medium high heat, you want to create that delicious sear and not overcook your tuna. While the pan is preheating, toast your bread, just a little bit. You’re going to toast it again at the end.

Once your bread is toasted, coat one piece with a thin layer of the jam, and the other piece with a thin layer of aioli. Lay a couple slices of cheese in a single layer on the jam side, and the apple or pear on the aioli side.

Sear your tuna. This will only take less than a minute on each side. You don’t want it cooked all the way through, only browned a little bit up the edges. The center will be pink (see the pictures). Once it’s done, put it on your sandwiches and close them up.

Now the fun part. Take your closed sandwiches and put them in the pan, for just a couple seconds, starting with the cheese side and then flip. The goal is to melt the brie just a little and toast up the bread some more. Use your best judgement here.

Serve with your favorite oven baked fries. Sit. Eat. Enjoy.