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.

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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.

 

Here Fishy, Fishy

IMAG0547Fish tacos. Among most people, there seems to be a love hate relationship with this delight. For me, it depends on the ingredients, how the fish is cooked and the overall combination of flavors. I prefer a crisp, crunchy, clean flavor. And I managed to achieve that with my most recent creation. I looked in my freezer as I was leaving my house at the horribly awful hour of 5 a.m. and decided I should use the fish that has been in there for quite a long time. And for some reason, though I am usually of the mantra “fish are friends, not food,” fish sounded good.

Most of the way home, I was trying to decide what I was going to do with the filets calling me from the freezer – I’ve found that if I really exhaust all the possible cooking options in my mind, I’m less likely to be lazy and stop somewhere to just pick something up. I didn’t think that this breaded tilapia would be good on tacos, and then I realized using my schnoz that it was actually  flavored breadcrumbs. Ok. Now it had possibilities.

One of the other fish that I have in my freezer is cod, and I was thinking about making a hoisin glazed cod as well. So I kind of combined my two ideas by making a slightly tangy/spicy hoisin sauce for these as well. It was definitely the perfect finishing touch that made for the perfect crispy, crunchy, clean, tangy taco that totally hit the spot.

And you can’t see it here but I also had a delicious half of an acorn squash with this. MMM Veggies. MMM Squash really, I really do enjoy just about all the kinds of squash when it’s cold outside.

Hoisin Tilapia Tacos

Ingredients:

Tortilla – one per taco

Lettuce, chopped or shredded – a fresh made, lightly sauced, cold coleslaw would be good here too

1 Tomato, chopped – I made two tacos and had some left over

Avocado, chopped – I used about half an avocado for my two tacos because I’m an avocado freak

Feta cheese, to taste

Breaded (seasoned) Tilapia – freshly made or frozen. I’m lazy, I did my from a frozen state. I used one filet for my two tacos.

Cooking spray in a small Pyrex casserole dish to cook your fish

For the sauce:

Hoisin, about 2 tbsp

Frank’s Red Hot sauce, about 2 tsp… 10 dashes or so?

1/2 tsp horseradish

Directions:

  1. Prepare your fish how you prefer. I stuck my frozen fish in the greased pyrex casserole in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes. While that’s cooking, make everything else.
  2. For the sauce, mix the three ingredients in a small ramikin and adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Prepare toppings, warm the tortillas on a paper plate with a damp paper towel covering them for about 30 seconds in the microwave.
  4. Prepare taco with desired toppings minus the sauce in the warm tortillas. Either put the cheese directly on the tortilla or directly under the fish so that it will melt a little.
  5. Once the fish is cooked, remove from the pan and let sit about two minutes so it stiffens a little bit and gets the nice crispiness. Then cut in half and place on the tacos.
  6. Fold, eat, enjoy. Yum.

On a final note, apparently I’m feeling very hyper today. It’s probably from lack of sleep and coffee. I’ve been talking about a hundred miles an hour and I just reread my post….slowly noticing that I am forcing you my loyal readers to bounce along a very winding train of thought that has no clear final destination. Sorry about that.

My Days Off

Two days off from work left me with a little time to do a lot of things. I bought Marlene Koch’s new cookbook, Eat More of What You Love, and I’ve been wanting to try some of the recipes out of it. I had bought some blueberries from Sam’s Club that were begging to be made in to coffee cake (from her first book) and I had some bananas on the counter that really wanted to be made into banana bread. Well wouldn’t you know it, she had a recipe for that in her new book.

Let me just start by saying, sorry I don’t have a picture of the banana bread. When I took the picture, I couldn’t figure out why it was so dark. I later figured out that I hadn’t changed the exposure back since the concert this past weekend.

But this banana bread used molasses, Splenda, bran flakes and wheat flour instead of the normal sugar, brown sugar and extra stuff that’s no good for you. Given, one piece is still 120 calories, but that’s an after lunch treat I can afford. If you’re a lover of banana bread like I am and have some bananas sitting around that you should have eaten days ago, try out this recipe.

My dinner adventure also came out of her new book, though I altered it just a smidge. Its a chicken sandwich with barbecue sauce and bacon (and healthy?? What??), and instead of the lettuce, I used avocado. I also mixed some hot sauce in with my barbecue sauce.

A.Maz.Ing.

And so simple.

Chicken breast, pounded, and seasoned with salt and pepper then cooked (grill or pan, your choice). Cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, a wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, and a piece of bacon. Done.

Love this sandwich.

So an update about the diet. Weekends as of late, not so great for me. I get too excited about a Saturday and my honey being home and cheat too much on my diet. Or I have a really bad day at work and have a Jack and Coke or two. But during the week, I’ve been really good. Like eating salad every night, and only going over my calorie count by maybe 100, very seldom. Working out, I don’t run as much as I should, but when I do work out, I push it. And guess what? My little accomplishment this morning… I fit back into a smaller pair of my jeans. Not as well as I used to, but before the wedding I couldn’t even get them buttoned. Yay!

Catching Up

Goodness it’s been a long week! Job hunting, working on Christmas shopping, taking care of two new kittens. I’ve been crashing into bed every night completely exhausted, and I’m still not getting everything done that I want to.

But! I did make some pretty tasty stuff this week that I thought I would share with you all. (Healthy stuff!)

Let me just say, if you’re trying to eat healthier, do yourself a favor and invest in a George Foreman Grill. You can get them at Wal-Mart or off Amazon, even at Kohl’s, Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond. If you get the opportunity, find one with removable grill plates, because it’s a lot easier to clean. But! I digress.

The GFG makes cooking healthy stuff super easy. I made chicken on it, that was rubbed with a blend of garlicky spices, and it was moist and juicy and delicious. It’s even better when you pair it with some veggies you made in the microwave in a Ziploc Steam Fresh Bag. Oh yeah, and did I mention it takes a grand total of maybe 30 minutes to make an awesome meal?? If you’re like me and have a hunny that isn’t always home for dinner, you can make two chicken breasts and refrigerate the other one to use later in the week. 30 minutes AND you cut your cook time for another meal in half! You’ll thank me later.

I sound like an info-mercial right now, don’t I? Oh well, totally worth it.

The other pretty awesome thing that I made this week (on my GFG I might add!), were burgers! Homemade burgers! Not the kind that you open up a bag from the freezer. No. Put ground beef in a bowl and get to seasoning! I’ve found that spicy mustard and worcestershire with garlic and little bits of onions make some killer burgers. And then, I stacked it to the sky with cheddar and pepperjack cheese, tomato, lettuce, avocado, bacon, and saute’ed onions and bella mushrooms. I’m pretty sure my hunny didn’t even breathe while consuming his burger in 10 seconds flat.

Oh yeah, and I made coleslaw to go on the side! That was healthy too. It came from my “Eat What You Love” book. I’ve talked about that one before too. In my berry coffee cake post. Delicious.

So the moral of the story is, that if you’re trying to eat healthier, you have to commit, and there is no rule that says your food can’t still be scrumptious.