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, 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.

Thanksgiving: Every food blogger needs this post

Thanksgiving. That wonderful holiday where everyone eats too much and then passes out on the couch to the sound of football and cheering fans. It’s turned in to a holiday that can sometimes involve a lot of family drama and then the anticipation of fighting the next day over some grandiose deal….even though the day before you were supposed to be thankful for what you already have. Confusing.

Well this Thanksgiving, I spent my day in the kitchen, being thankful that I have friends to surround me while my hunny is away. Otherwise it probably would have been a very lonely holiday. And of course, I got entirely too wrapped up in cooking. To the point that I didn’t take any pictures of the final spread. Including my absolutely gorgeous, brown, crispy and delicious turkey. I would have loved to brag about it, and show it off in all its glory…except it’s gone now. It was devoured, because it was juicy and delicious. I don’t like white meat because it’s usually dry. This wasn’t. I was happy with all portions of the turkey. The photos I do have are from the middle of the day. When we realized we should probably take a couple pictures.

My spread included everything. Turkey, homemade stuffing (mama’s recipe 🙂 ), cranberry relish which I can eat by itself any day of the year, home made bread, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and pineapple (not using canned yams, using actual sweet potatoes), glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, brownies, pecan pie tartlets… mmm delicious.

One of the best ‘adventures’ of the day was the making of the bread. We decided that since I probably already had everything on hand that we were going to need, why not make the bread and save us some money? Great idea. So the bread started out great. Add all the ingredients, and get the kitchen-aid working. Then the instructions said to let it rise, covered, for an hour. Ok, no problem. Punch it down, knead it about five times, flip it on to a floured surface and stretch it out. Then braid it so that you have a loaf, rather than rolls. That sounds awesome. Ms. Kelly and I were very excited about this endeavor. So we did that and set it back to rise for another 30 minutes. Well, when we uncovered it to brush it with the egg/water mixture to ensure it would be golden and delicious, we found our beautiful braided dough had spread out instead of up. Meaning the braid melded back in to the rest of the dough…leaving us with basically foccacia bread. It was still delicious, it still cooked up the way it was supposed to and was great for making paninis…but still. That was not the desired effect. Anyone have any idea why that happened? Hints would be appreciated because I plan on making it again. It almost had a sourdough taste to it. And I love me some sourdough.

Second best thing? Low-calorie dessert. Except for that whole you’re only supposed to have one to keep it low-calorie. Yeah that didn’t happen. We made pecan pie tartlets out of the Eat More of What You Love cookbook. They’re only 200 calories per tartlet. Awesome! Except they are absolutely delicious with whipped cream on top, and two-bites for one. Which make them like Pringles: Once you pop you can’t stop!

Thanksgiving was perfect. A great day. Even if I was missing my best friend, and he was missing his favorite food.

A dish I’ve never made before

Meatloaf! And oh my goodness was it tasty. I would have like to follow mom’s recipe, but I thought I’d create my own. I have found that there are enough variations of meatloaf out there that they kind of become a family tradition of how they’re made. So I thought I’d start my own tradition. Unfortunately, this particular recipe from my noggin didn’t quite make the cut. It needs some tweaking. It almost tastes like it’s missing something. Couldn’t figure out what though. I’m not going to post the recipe, because it’s not mastered yet. I foresee a lot of meatloaf in our future. I may even try making meatloaf bites so I can make lots of different variations!

But here’s what I did anyway: I mixed ground turkey with bread crumbs and an egg. That’s the base. I added minced garlic and diced onion. Although my onion wasn’t small enough. I think also, I might try cooking up the onion and garlic to release the flavor just a little bit. I added in some green bell pepper, minced nice and small. Then lets see…in went some parsley and oregano, about a teaspoon or two of both. Two teaspoons of horseradish, a couple splashes of Worcestershire, a splash of lemon juice, a teaspoon of dried ground mustard. And then I put ketchup, bread crumbs and Parmesan on top before putting it in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. What’s really cool is that it was perfectly cooked. Not too crispy and not pink at all.


Meatloaf with corn. Also served a salad on the side.

Anyone have any suggestions for additions?

Crock-Pot Chili

The much anticipated post about the chili! It’s taken me a while to catch up here, mainly because of spring break traveling. So I decided I wanted chili. The trick was finding a good recipe for chili. Ah hell, who needs a recipe? Make it up as you go!

My want-to-be-Texas-Chili.

I gathered bits and pieces from friends and family and then did my own experimenting. The whole crock pot thing made it unbelievably easy though.

So I fried up some ground turkey and some ground mild Italian sausage. Then I added that to the crock pot. Let me just say now that this recipe is a layering of flavors. Next went in a can of pureed tomatoes, then a can of diced tomatoes, and a can each of drained pinto beans, kidney beans and black beans. Let me thank the dollar store for those.

I followed the canned ingredients with a diced jalapeno (seeds removed because I’m a wimp when it comes to too much spice), minced garlic and half a diced onion. Finally, comes a whole slew of spices. I added in a bay leaf, a beef bouillon cube, parsley, paprika, thyme, chili powder, garlic powder, sage, cilantro, oregano, and cayenne.

Mix it all together, let it cook on high for about 3 hours, then down to low for another two hours and served it up with cheese and sour cream. I was told Italian sausage doesn’t belong in chili, but I kind of liked it. It could use some tweaking, but as the roomie put it, it’s “a good experiment chili.” Here’s the recipe.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana con Carne

That title? Just means eggplant parmesan with meat. But I got it out of a cookbook of Italian favorites, and it is so good. I don’t think I’ve had eggplant parmesan that good. And I’ve never had it with meat. The recipe calls for a couple things I didn’t have, so I improvised with spices. And took down the amount of some ingredients. Either way it was so good!

The eggplant parmesan after it came out of the oven, cheesy and bubbly.

The changes I made from the original recipe include not adding italian sausage – I added italian seasoning, basil and rosemary, as well as a little chili pepper for some heat. I also  used ground turkey instead of ground beef, which saves me some calories. I didn’t have enough mozzarella or fresh parmesan, so it probably isn’t as cheesy as the recipe originally intended, but it was still good. The recipe also calls for canned tomatoes, which gave the meat a sweet taste.

Overall, I give this recipe an 8 out of 10. It’s not the healthiest, but it is filling, and tastes amazing with a salad. If done exactly to the recipe, it would probably be even better.