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 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, 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.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Bake

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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. 🙂

Food I’ve Eaten with a New Foodie Friend

My blog posts have been lacking lately, but it’s not because I haven’t been eating fantastic food! A lot of it has been with my new foodie friend (continuing with the non-naming trend on this blog), who helps keep me sane, and introduces me to new flavors in the kitchen. We’ve done the from-scratch chicken and andouille Gumbo – his mama’s Louisiana recipe, chicken and tangy kale, fantastic wine with awesome labels, chicken cordon bleu, sushi that is almost too fancy to eat and a big fajita spread. There is also the three pepper salsa that he made for the superbowl, and the fig and brie en croute. My tummy has been supremely happy as of late. Since I keep forgetting to write about this fabulousness – here is a photo montage for you to drool over.

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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.

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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.

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.