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.

Advertisements

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.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bake

crockpot-chicken-taco

I actually made this wonderfulness a couple nights ago, but I’ve been eating it through the week. It’s so easy and so yummy! I got the chance to share it with two of my best friends last night and they agreed! James even tried to lick the bowl! A healthy, zesty combination of chicken, black beans and corn, this is a set it and forget it easy weeknight crowd-pleaser. As you can see here, it didn’t need a whole lot to be filling.

Of course, I did get it from Pinterest (I’ve been trying to make stuff I’ve pinned, can you tell?), so I have to give some credit! So I got the recipe from a blog called Budget Bytes, and it’s so easy! Make some rice, top with avocado and cheese and maybe even some sour cream. Yum.

According to the blog, it’s also very tasty with tortillas or taco shells instead of the rice.

Want to see some more recipes I’ve pinned? Follow me on Pinterest.

Chicken Taco Bake

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breasts – I used a combo of breasts and thighs because I like the taste of the dark meat
  • 1 16 oz jar of salsa – Walmart brand Zesty Cilantro is delicious! I’m betting that the black bean and corn or mango salsa would be really good here too.
  • 1 16 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1/2 lb frozen corn
  • 1 tbsp each chili powder, cumin, minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each dried oregano, cayenne and salt
  • (If you don’t have these spices, use a packet of taco mix instead)
  • to taste, cracked pepper
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Avocado, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Throw everything but the cilantro, avocado and cheese in the crockpot, along with a cup of water. Mix it together, make sure the chicken is covered with the sauce. Turn on low for 8 hours. Or high for 4, low for 2 if you have a little less time.

At about hour 7.5, go ahead and make some white rice, either in a rice cooker or on the stove. When it’s ready, shred the chicken with two forks, and serve over rice, topped with cheese, avocado and cilantro.

Sit. Eat. Enjoy. 🙂

Crazy for Some Sushi!

IMAG0654

Sunday night has become watch party night for Walking Dead for my foodie friend and I. It’s a much anticipated night throughout the week as we’ve challenged each other to explore foods from different cultures. This past Sunday was Sushi night! Little did my friend know that I have a cheating contraption that makes it oh-so-easy. Used previously, it worked splendidly yet again. And our sushi was delicious. Both last night and today for lunch.

This contraption is about the oddest thing you’ll ever see. It looks like a caulking gun with a plunger on the end. Basically, you open it up, put the rice and your goodies in, then close it and push out the sushi on to your nori paper. Then roll it up and cut it up

. And it eliminates trying to make the perfect little roll by doing the hard work for you. It took a little bit of exploration to find the nori in this little southern town – I actually had to go to Nashville to get it, at Whole Foods no less. Then I got some wasabi paste and pickled ginger at Publix, along with the tuna and swordfish we used. The tuna was expected, the swordfish came from a suggestion from the fish monger there – he said it was commonly picked up by other customers because it was a milder fish with a flavor similar to Mahi Mahi (which I actually like). It was surprisingly delicious.

We did up the fish three ways – raw, with a tiny dribble of sesame oil for a smoky flavor, and with some lemon-garlic powder and sea salt. I think the third one took the cake in flavor. Although they all tasted great. Our other ingredients included carrots, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper and radish. All chopped in to little bitty slivers. It took some knife skills, let me tell you. And rice? Use the rice cooker – not the stainless pot. It burns when you don’t stir it up and you have an electric stove. Thankfully we salvaged a majority of it. And then make sure you mix in that dribble of rice vinegar for the perfect sushi flavor.

I also made a yummy asian slaw to go with this – though we didn’t get that far – I might have forgotten it in the fridge because the sushi anticipation was killing me and we had been munching on the sashimi already… I sent him home with some so that it didn’t go bad in my fridge and I had some with my lunch. I think letting it sit made it even better. It had some of the same ingredients: cucumber and carrot, with the addition of cabbage, bean sprouts and tangy green apple. I then dressed it with lemon juice (to keep the apple from turning brown), and a vinaigrette made with a tiny bit of mayo, agave, sesame oil, rice vinegar and spicy garlic mustard. Yum.

Zombies and sushi… how is that not the perfect combination??? Fish has the same texture as “BRaaIInnnsSSss!!!” And yes I know I’m an odd bird sometimes.

Chicken Avocado Enchiladas

Yesterday was project day and we tried to incorporate a girls’ dinner too. Mrs. Kelly and I worked on building a bed frame from a Pinterest project that we found, but that can really work up a girl’s appetite! My dad claims that I’m hopeless because I’ll use any excuse to try a new recipe. Fact is, he’s right! These enchiladas have a wonderfully creamy avocado cilantro sauce, and it goes great with chips too. The leftover ingredients we just put together in a bowl and will probably mix in with some rice later this week.

IMAG0607 IMAG0608

If you want to see more about the project, go to our new blog, Crafty Little Army Wives. If you want to try making these super easy enchiladas, just follow the recipe below. By the way, thanks to Gimme Some Oven, the blog that we got the recipe from!

Ingredients:

Enchilada Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced (we used Serrano Peppers instead)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 8-10 (6-inch) flour tortillas (Wheat tortillas were good)
  • 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2-3 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
  • optional garnish: fresh cilantro, sour cream, and/or shredded cheese
Avocado Cream Sauce Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 California avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of one lime

Method:

To Make The Enchiladas:

Prepare the “Avocado Cream Sauce” as listed below. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, poblano and jalapeno, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions are cooked and translucent. Remove from heat.

To assemble the enchiladas, place a tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon or two of the avocado sauce down the middle of the tortilla. Then layer on some of the vegetable mixture, shredded chicken and cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drizzle the top with about half of the remaining avocado cream sauce, then cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tortillas are heated through and begin to harden.

Remove from the oven, then serve individual enchiladas drizzled with the remainder of the avocado cream sauce. You can also garnish with additional cilantro, cheese, and/or sour cream.

To Make Avocado Cream Sauce:

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the flour, whisking until golden and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the broth into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, cumin, salt, garlic powder and pepper, whisking if necessary to remove any lumps. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a blender or food processor. Add avocados, cilantro and lime juice, and pulse until smooth and well-blended. (Be very careful blending hot liquids — the heat will expand! So be sure to remove the lid occasionally so that the heat can escape.) Season with additional salt or pepper if needed.

Stuffed Portobello Rice Bowl

IMAG0573Ok, so the title of this thing already sounds a little weird. I get it. Trust me on this, though, it was pretty darn good.

When I was in the store the other day buying about a million different kinds of veggies, these huge, beautiful portobellos were screaming at me to stuff and devour them. Of course I listened. How can you not listen when food speaks to you?? On my hour-long commute home today, I was pondering what exactly I was going to do for dinner, which turned in to how can I use stuff in my fridge and combine it together to make deliciousness? Per normal, I called on what I know. Here is how the train of thought went (make sure to hop off before it derails!)

My mom makes this stellar Spanish Squash (she calls it), and it’s zucchini and yellow squash with cheese, tomatoes corn, onions and some other stuff that she has told me and I’ve forgotten. Well wait now, I have all that. I can do that. And then put it in a mushroom. But I really want rice. I can put the mushroom on top. Is that too much starch? No. It’s veggies and cheese. Not starch. This is totally doable. What can I add to break up the vegetarian streak? Bacon. Genius! Wait, I need something not hot to bring it all together… Avocado? That could work… or be horrible. No way, it’s avocado, it’s going to work. Maybe a cream? Like a caesar dressing? I have lemon. But anchovies are not coming in to this picture. Too much salt…just a cream… (This is where I stop because it went on like this for the entire ride home).

So once I got home and tried not to kill my four-legged furry kiddos for being bad (you don’t want to know the details), I set to cooking. Got the squash, onion, garlic, and tomato chopped up; drained a can of corn, and cleaned out the moustache of the mushroom. I put those on a foil-lined baking sheet. Everything else hopped in a pan with some butter. And don’t be judging me for butter. I used a whole 2.5-3 tablespoons for the whole recipe, and aside from the good fat of the avocado, everything else is light and healthy! I forgot to mention here that my bacon wasn’t as fresh as I thought it was so it didn’t get added. But it will. Next time. Because that could only add to the awesomeness that is a portobello rice bowl.

Anyway. So everything cooks together. And then I add in spinach, and cheese. And then stuff the mushroom and put more cheese. While it bakes, I mix light sour cream, cilantro and avocado together with lemon juice to make an AMAZING cream which by the way with more lemon juice works great as a salad dressing. Ding! Microwave where the rice goes is done. Take that out, put it in the bowl and leave room for a mushroom cap. Bring those out of the oven. Yep, they’re done. Add to rice. Top with cream. YUM. Promptly devour in 10 minutes flat and sit in my food coma of happiness. I guess I should give you the recipe, huh?

Let me just put a disclaimer on this that when I made it tonight I made a double recipe of the squash mixture because I’ll eat it over the rice in the coming days.

Ingredients:

For the squash mixture:

  • 1 zucchini and 1 yellow crooked-neck squash, chopped somewhat small so it cooks quicker
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 can whole-kernel corn
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Butter/Margarine (whatever you prefer)
  • Shredded cheese (I used the mexican blend) to your liking
  • About a handful of spinach leaves, fresh (Can be omitted if you prefer)

For the Mushrooms

  • 2-3 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned of their mustache, and wiped of dirt

For the Cream

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 c. light sour cream
  • Cilantro (to taste, either fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 a lemon’s juice

Rice – prepared per directions

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep all your ingredients for the squash mixture and your mushroom caps. Put the cleaned mushrooms on to a foil-lined pan, upside down. Add just a small little bit of olive oil and 1/2 a pinch of salt. Too much will dry out the mushrooms.
  2. Add in to a pre-heated on medium heat high-sided pan or a pot the onion, garlic and one tablespoon of butter, along with just a touch of salt and pepper. The salt draws out the moisture in the onion to make them sweat. Stir occasionally until it starts to smell good, don’t let the garlic burn and your onions should be turning transparent.
  3. Add in the squash and another tablespoon of butter. Mix around and cover. Stir occasionally and cook for roughly 10 minutes. At this point, it should be letting out a lot of liquid. Add in your other tablespoon of butter to help speed up the process and draw out liquid. Your desired “done-ness” for the squash is soft, not crunchy – judge your time accordingly.
  4. Add in the tomato and the corn. Stir and cook about another 3 minutes. Then add in the spinach and cheese. At this point, there should be a lot of liquid in the bottom of your pot or pan, it should smell awesome and the squash should be soft. The benefit of cutting it smaller is that it doesn’t take as long to cook. Add in cumin and just a smidge more salt and pepper. Work the spinach and cheese around until the spinach is wilted and the cheese is melted, as well as the spices distributed. Remove from heat.
  5. Add a spoonful or two of the squash mixture to the mushroom caps. They should be heaping. Top with cheese, put in the oven for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted on top.
  6. While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare your cream. In a small bowl, scoop out the flesh of the avocado and combine it with the other ingredients. Using a fork, mash it all together and mix it well until it’s a creamy consistency and very slightly lumpy. If you prefer, add just a pinch of salt to bring out more of the avocado flavor.
  7. Serve the mushrooms with a dollop of the avocado cream. If you’re like me, serve over prepared rice – to really make it a rice bowl. Mix it all together when you’re eating it.

 

Super Simple Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup (2)It was super cold yesterday, and got even colder last night. And it stayed cold, so I am working remotely from home today. Last night, instead of trying to eat something chilly or time consuming, I decided to make soup. Comforting and warm. My super awesome FRG Leader had made this recipe for us ladies one night, and I stole her recipe because it was so easy. What’s really nice is that I will have leftovers for at least a week – the recipe could feed ten people! A little bit spicy, full of protein, and then topped with sour cream, avocado and cheese – it made me happy. Oh yeah, and the most expensive part is probably the cheese, maybe the chicken.

Ingredients:

1 can each: Rotel tomatoes, diced tomatoes (15 oz), cream corn, black beans (Drained) and pinto beans (Drained)

1 packet each: powdered ranch seasoning, taco seasoning (also added a packet of fajita seasoning because it has different flavors)

3 tbsp chicken bouillon

6 cups of water

Shredded chicken – the recipe called for 4 lbs of chicken breast, boiled and shredded, I used a mixture of breast and legs from a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store

Directions:

1. Prepare your chicken, either boil it and then drain and set to cool, or shred your rotisserie chicken. You can also do this after the soup starts cooking.

2. Add in all your ingredients in to a large pot, except for the chicken. Set it to a medium high heat, cover and boil, stirring occasionally. Once it is boiling, turn to a medium heat, and let boil for 20 minutes.

3. At the end of the 20 minutes, add in your chicken and let cook for a few more minutes to warm up the chicken.

4. Serve with cheese, avocado and sour cream, and maybe some cilantro and tortillas or tortilla chips.