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.

Must Love Garlic

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To live in my house, you must love garlic. And in this case, lemon. My adventurous side came out and I decided to exercise my “portion control” by virtually steaming chicken thighs in lemon juice. That is, after it seared in garlic oil. Yum. And then served it with a monstrous salad with minimal dressing. When everything tastes good solo, it barely needs to be a dressed up.

This is so simple:

Chicken thighs

2 Lemons Sliced into thin halves

5-7 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

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Salt, Pepper

Olive oil (about a tablespoon)

Pan with a lid

Put the olive oil in a hot pan (medium heat), warm it up for a second and add the garlic. Let it go until it is fragrant, about 1 minute. And longer and it will burn. Salt and pepper one side of your chicken to taste, then put in the pan seasoned side down and season the other side. Sear for a couple minutes – chicken thighs are typically thin and cook quick. After a couple minutes, flip, add in your lemon slices, and cover. Turn heat to medium-low. Let cook for about five minutes and flip. Cook about another 6-7 minutes covered. your lemon juice should be fragrant and seeping out into the pan to boil. Take the cover off and check. If needed, keep the cover off and cook for one to two minutes more to finish.

Serve with a ginormous salad. Remember protein should only be the size of your fist to be a proper portion! My salad had tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado, a pinch of sea salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Delicious. And less than thirty minutes.

 

Experimentation

How many of you are on Pinterest? I got addicted by a friend of mine before it got really popular. Well this recipe came from a post on Pinterest. It’s a no-cook refrigerator oatmeal, in a couple different flavors. The science behind it is that the oatmeal absorbs the liquid while it’s in the refrigerator, and it eliminates the overheating feeling of trying to eat oatmeal in the summer time.

Now, I’m not going to go into too much detail about it just yet – I want to see how it works. But it’s basically a mixture of oatmeal, greek yogurt, milk, and honey with the other ingredients that add the flavor. I made a peanut butter cocoa version, a mocha, a peanut butter banana and an apple cinnamon. We’ll see how at least one of them tastes in the morning.

To continue on the path of yummy, dinner was a taco salad. You know how when you’re eating at Taco Bell, and everything falls out of the taco shell on to the paper? And then you use a spork and scoop it up and it usually tastes better than the taco itself did? Well, that’s what my salad tasted like. And it was amazing. It had a lot more calories than I wanted it to because avocado is expensive on the calories. But it was totally worth it and totally delicious. Avocado, tomato, lettuce and spinach, a mango salsa, ground beef with green bell peppers and onions, cheese and a home made taco seasoning. Try it for a quick dinner on a hot evening.

On a side note, when did Lego come out with Polly Pocket -esque figurines and Barbie-like scenery?

Oh, and dessert! I got dessert!! It’s a glorious day. My friend and I made a chocolate cake yesterday with chocolate whipped topping frosting. It’s delicious, light and moist. And tastes even better after a day in the fridge. Oh and 160 calories per slice. Yay dessert!!

Going Green…

When the hunny is away, the wife will…

Eat salad!

My hunny doesn’t like veggies. Not one little bit. There are a couple that I can get him to eat. Corn, if it’s on the cob, broccoli if it’s only a couple ”trees,” sweet potatoes, if they are fries. Salad, but only when doused in ranch or it’s a caesar with no cheese and minimal croutouns. Just a salad for dinner? No meat or only a small amount of chicken? For-get-about-it. And of course, he has the metabolism of a 12-year-old, so he can get away with it. Sometimes I hate that fact.

So since he’s off doing what he does, I can have a salad for dinner. I’m trying to watch what I eat and not just be on a “see-food” diet, so salad is a good thing. What’s I’ve found though, is that a lot of people who try diets hate salad. But they have this crazy idea in their head that salad is some lettuce and some dressing. And that it’s boring and tasteless and miserable to eat. But one of my favorite things is that you can mix salad with anything. Whatever kind of great flavors you like, it can go in a salad. It doesn’t just have to be tomatoes and croutons.

My salad tonight was a smorgasbord of yummy goodness. I actually made too much, and I’m hoping it will keep in my fridge for a couple days so I can enjoy it again. My salad started out with a mix of romaine lettuce and iceberg lettuce. I like crunchy leaves, but a lot of people like the spicy crispness of arugula. Then some tomatoes went in, followed by dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, bleu cheese, carrots, pecans, and some crumbled bacon. Though not very good all by it’s lonesome, one or two slices of crispy bacon crumbled into a salad adds a nice saltiness and crunch. Everything in moderation people.

So then my salad was topped by avocado (yes, a whole one; I like the green stuff), and grilled (on my George Foreman Grill) chicken breast that was spiced with garlic and some red pepper and black pepper and onion spices. Finally, I took some of the mandarin orange juice, lemon juice, garlic powder, lemon pepper, salt, black pepper, and oregano, mixed it with olive oil, and tossed the salad in a bag so that it was evenly coated. Served with a little bitty biscuit, and I’m a happy girl.

The moral of the story is that a salad doesn’t have to be boring. Mine was bright and vibrant and crunchy and delicious. If you like the flavor of something solo, there is a good chance it could be incorporated into a salad somehow. Ask me, I’ll tell you how.

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year, though not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of my crazy family, was still centered around the food. As it should be. Even though it was only me and my hunny, I still went all out to try and bring in the feeling of being home. I made ham, and green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, a salad, cornbread, and macaroni salad (even if we did forget to eat that). Oh yeah, and used my new Cuisinart Toaster Oven (Thanks Mom in Law!) for an apple pie.

For these big holiday meals, I’ve found that I should have paid more attention to my Mom when she was cooking, because I have called her a lot knowing what I want to make and not having any idea how to do it. Here’s the lowdown on ham:

Buy a ham. (obviously – don’t want to insult your intelligence here, but just stick with me…) Don’t buy the smoked ones, or the spiral cut ones. Buy the one that your instinct tells you is going to be way too much of a pain to cook. It will have one side that is flat and the other will have a big bone in it. It tends to be sitting in a center aisle freezer in your grocery store.

If you don’t already have them on hand, you’ll need whole cloves, dark brown sugar, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a 14 oz can of sliced pineapple (the rings). Oh, and some toothpicks.

So, to put it all together. Take the ham, put it in a big pan (I’m running the risk of rhyming here…) flat side down, and make slices into the ham, creating little squares, just through the fat. In the corners of these squares, put the pointy side of the cloves. After you’ve done that, take the pineapple rings, and using the toothpicks, pin them around the ham. They don’t have to cover it, but they work to flavor the ham and help keep it moist. And then, take the maraschino cherries and pin them into the center of the rings. Finally, take the brown sugar and rub it into the exposed parts of the ham. It creates a yummy glaze.

Once this is all done, cover the pan with foil, and stick it in the oven at 350 for one hour. At the hour mark, take the foil off, and leave it in the oven for another 30 minutes. The fatty part of the ham should be crispy and pulling away from the ham, your cloves will be falling out. Those crunchy skin pieces? They’re the best part.

So, how ’bout a leftovers recipe? Of course you can make some yummy ham sandwiches…but what about Mac and Cheese with ham and broccoli? Doesn’t that sound so much better? I used the recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake, in which she cooks the noodles in the milk and then adds the spices and cheese. I changed it up a little bit though, I added ham and broccoli which I sauteed in some olive oil with onions, and I also did a half and half mixture of milk and heavy cream. I’m thinking she was right about the milk though – the cream is too thick, and I had to add a lot more milk at the end. From previous experimentations, I have found that gruyere and cheddar cheese taste really good together, so I did that too. You all should try it! It makes pretty tasty leftovers too…