Cookies ‘n Cream Puppy Chow

After posting so many health-ified recipes lately, I think it’s about time for a good ‘ol cheat day recipe, no?  This is not Whole30-paleo-low-carb-sugar detox-Jillian Michaels approved.  Sorryimnotsorry.  So put on your stretchy pants and let’s get this party started.

My office had a “food day” to celebrate the Cardinals home opener on Monday.  Naturally, I signed up to bring a dessert and headed straight to my Pinterest board to find a recipe I have yet to try.  The lucky winner? Cookies ‘n Cream Puppy Chow.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I have since found that it is actually physically impossible to stop eating this stuff.  Trust me, the struggle is real.

IMG_20140406_195658There are a million recipes on Pinterest for this but of course I had to make a few edits….which basically means I doubled the amount of chocolate.  What’s the point if every single morsel isn’t drenched in chocolate-y goodness anyway?

Ingredients:

For “cookies”:

  • 1/2 box rice chex (about 6 cups)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 10 Oreos, crushed

For “cream”

  • 1/2 box rice chex (about 6 cups)
  • 1 24oz pkg vanilla almond bark
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 10 Oreos, crushed

Directions:

(You will repeat this process twice, once for cookies and once for cream.)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (like this) on the stove, stirring frequently (for a makeshift double boiler, place a smaller pot inside a slightly larger one with a small amount of water in it and heat on the stove, this helps prevent burning of the chocolate).  For an less complicated option, slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl on low in the microwave, stirring frequently.  Be careful, as chocolate burns easily.  Place the chex in a large bowl and pour the chocolate on top, then stir until combined.  Place the powdered sugar and crushed Oreos in a large ziploc bag.  Pour the chocolate covered chex into the ziploc bag, close it and shake until the sugar/cookies are distributed evenly.  Repeat for the other half of the batch.

Combine the “cookies” and “cream” into a large container.  Crush the remaining Oreos (I used a family size package for this) and mix in with the chex.

Now for the most important direction – Eat your little heart out!

 

 

Mud Run Prep – MuckFest MS

You might remember when I completed my first mud run back in October.  I’m bummed I won’t be able to participate in the Battlegrounds mud run with my office again in May (I’ll be out of town) but I’ll be there in spirit…

1973207_10203369756184074_1689439466_oMy dad found this poster of my co-worker and I that they are using to promote the event.  I guess mud is a good look for us. ;) Hilarious.  We actually do look pretty excited to be elbow deep in mud!

At the time of my first mud run, I had been nursing an injury for a while so I wasn’t exactly prepared in the running department.  I can’t lie, 5 miles when I hadn’t run more than 2 in a few months was a little difficult but I pushed through.  Even if you aren’t a runner, there’s nothing wrong with walking parts of the course – lots of people do!  It’s really more about being active, having fun with your team and giving to a good cause.  Oh, and getting dirty.

MuckFest MS is a mud run that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and it is held all over the US.  They created this fun “training guide” for anyone thinking about doing a mud run – first-timers or veterans!

Fun 5K Training IdeasWhen (not if!) I do another mud run, I’ll definitely increase my endurance by running a little more than usual, lift weights, and add more push-ups and pull-ups to my workouts in order to improve my upper body strength for all of those wall climbs. :)

MudRun8If you are interested in signing up for MuckFest MS check out the schedule/locations here.  You can have fun while getting exercise AND helping out a good cause!

Dear Plantains, Where Have You Been All My Life?

It’s official.  I am obsessed with plantains and I have no idea why it took me so long to come to this conclusion.  A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Plantain Chips.  I didn’t think it could get much better….but then came the tortillas….and then the crackers.  I’m not going to pretend like I’m some genius who created these recipes out of thin air.  My (recent Paleo convert) mom told me about the tortilla recipe she found a few weeks ago and raved about them.   She also tried making pizza crust with them, which you better believe I will be doing sooner rather than later.  So of course, I had to share these little gems of recipes with you all!

The original recipe for the tortillas can be found here, at Fresh Tart.  The only difference is I used extra virgin olive oil instead of avocado oil because that’s what I had on hand.

DSC02028I definitely didn’t make mine thin enough but it ended up more like pita bread, which was amazing.  Matt couldn’t get over them!

Ingredients:

(Makes 12 tortillas)

  • 4 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Blend everything together in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency.  Spoon onto baking sheet (I covered mine in parchment paper) and spread until about 1/4in thick, or thicker if you want “pita bread”. :)  Bake for 10 minutes, switch racks and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.

I mixed shredded chicken with avocado to eat with the tortillas and it was really good!

IMG_20140326_185244And because there was a link on the page for Plantain Crackers, I of course had to take a gander.  Since I was in Betty Crocker mode already and my food processor was already a mess (does anyone else despise cleaning that thing?!) I decided to give them a whirl in the same night.

DSC02027I actually think I like these better than the Plantain Chips!  They really feel and taste like crackers and are much easier to make.

I found the original recipe here, at The Paleo Mom.  Again, only difference is I subbed the coconut oil for extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plantains, peeled and cubed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until you get a hummus-like consistency.  Spread on a small baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.  Cut into squares with a pizza cutter and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy. According to the original recipe, sometimes hers took up to 80 minutes to bake.

 

Happy Friday!

Ladder Workout and Whole30 Snack

Sometimes when I go to the gym, all I want to do is put my brain on auto-pilot and get in and get out.  A good workout doesn’t always have to be multiple rounds of multiple reps and…wait am I on round 3 or round 4? Was this exercise supposed to be 30 seconds or 1 minute?  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, intense workout but sometimes it’s nice to put together a short and sweet plan and get ‘er done.

Here’s a ladder workout that requires little to no equipment.  This can easily be done at home, just use a (sturdy!) chair for the box jumps and warm up by doing high knees, running your stairs, “fake” jump roping, etc.

Bodyweight Ladder WorkoutThe Easter egg theme was totally unintentional.  I think it’s my subconscious talking? #comeonspring

I know I’m making this the most random post ever, but I also wanted to share a fun appetizer recipe that is Whole30/Paleo approved! During the Whole30 challenge, Matt and I made it a point not to go out for dinner/drinks because…well, what’s the point?  If anything, the challenge certainly saved us a lot of money!  We did end up spontaneously having a few friends over one night and I was determined to whip up a few snacks that I could eat AND my guests would enjoy….also so I wasn’t a huge hostess-fail. These bacon wrapped dates are good any time, anywhere. Challenge or no challenge.  I mean, who doesn’t love bacon?

DSC02020Bacon Wrapped Dates

Cook bacon in a skillet until halfway done, then wrap around a date (pitted!) and secure with a toothpick. Bake at 350 until bacon is cooked through.  Frying the bacon before baking makes it a little crispier in the end.  I also only used about a half a piece of bacon per date, but it really depends on the ratio you prefer.

 

That’s all for today!  Make it a great one!

WIAW #14: Whole30 – Been There, Done That!

finished-the-w30-fb-cover-660x244

Well, that’s a wrap!  Yesterday marked day 30 of the Whole30 challenge.  That’s 30 days without sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy…and we survived.

Sounds like borderline torture, right?

Wrong.

No, really.  I actually kind of liked it (after the initial shock wore off).  I swear I’m not crazy.

Seriously, once we got past about the 10 day mark, things really started lookin’ up.  Sure, it was hard when people around me were eating pizza and cookies and ordering out…all I wanted to do was dive right in and treat myself like I normally would, but since there was an end in sight, that helped me stay strong and committed to the challenge.

Here are a couple of the meals we ate during the last week, to keep things interesting.  There are plenty more where this came from but I’m trying not to make this the longest post in the history of blogging, so stay tuned. ;)

Sausage, Sweet Potato, Egg and Kale Bake

DSC02005Ingredients:

  • 4 sausage links or breakfast sausage (Whole30 approved, or not if you aren’t doing the challenge)
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 large handfuls of kale, or more
  • 8-12 eggs, depending on how much you like

Directions:

Cook the sausage on the stovetop while you roast the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 20min (until tender) at 450 degrees.  You can also saute the potatoes, I just prefer the texture of them roasted.  Place kale into baking dish, pour the sausage, potatoes and eggs over the top and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and the kale is wilted.

Easy Taco Salad

DSC02014Ingredients

What you see above!  The taco seasoning doesn’t include any sugar and is basically a mixture of several spices.

Directions

Chop pepper and onion and saute in olive oil, or you can cook it right along with the meat.  Add salt/pepper and taco seasoning and you’re done!  Add a little red wine vinegar, olive oil and avocado/guacamole and it’s a super easy, healthy and delicious taco salad!

DSC02016So, why do this you ask?

First of all, I want to emphasize that my intention for this challenge was not to lose weight.  Although I eat healthy 80-90% of the time, I was interested to see how my body would react when I removed processed foods, sugar, etc. all together, without any treats or cheat days.

The result?

We feel great!  We don’t feel lethargic or bloated after meals and we have more energy overall.  Until this challenge, I don’t think we really realized how certain foods affect our bodies.  After week two, I even noticed my post-meal sweets craving had all but disappeared, which I never thought would happen.  I’m interested to see how I think sweets taste after 30 days without them.  Honestly, a cheat meal doesn’t even sound that appetizing to me right now.  Who am I??

I only lost 3 pounds, which was a good thing.  I dropped that much in the first week of the challenge and to be honest, if I dropped any more I was going to think about quitting the challenge all together.  Instead, I tried increasing the size of my meals and that helped me stay even for the rest of the 30 days.  Matt, on the other hand, lost 12 pounds!  He looks and feels great, so I’m proud of him for sticking to the plan with me.  I’m sure some of the weight will come back on once we start introducing certain foods back into our diet, but this challenge was a good jump start to an even healthier lifestyle that we can hopefully maintain.

Now what?

Matt and I both agree that we really like the way our bodies feel with minimal sugar and processed foods, so our plan is to continue to eat this way….most of the time.  It will be nice to have the pressure of the challenge behind us, so if we are running late or just don’t have time to prepare, we can grab a protein bar, smoothie, or order out.   During the week, I’ll cook meals like I have been for the past 30 days and I’m sure we will treat ourselves every once in a while on the weekends.   And dangit, give me my dark chocolate! :)

Thinking about trying the Whole30?

Stop thinking about it and just GO FOR IT!  The whole idea of giving up so much for 30 days can seem really intimidating, but not if you do your homework.  If I can give one piece of advice, it’s prepare, prepare, PREPARE.  That is the absolute key to successfully completing this challenge and doing so with your sanity intact. :)  I constantly searched for new (and easy!) recipes that would keep things interesting and that I could prepare on Sundays for the entire week.

In the end, I’m SO glad we did it.  #1 it’s a great sense of accomplishment when it’s over and #2 I think it has opened up our eyes to an even better lifestyle (NOT a diet) that now we know we can can have.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a glass of wine calling my name….

As always, thanks to Jenn for hosting the WIAW link-up!

WIAW #13: Whole30 – Week 2

Hey hey!

Well, we are knee deep in the Whole30, 16 days down, 14 to go!  No turning back now.  Week 2 was much more tolerable than Week 1. No breakdowns and only minor panic attacks.  I kid, I kid. ;)

Both Matt and I are feeling good, we have more energy and aren’t really having too many cravings, except for the ever-present chocolate for me.  Not sure that will ever go away…and I’m ok with it, because a life without chocolate is a life without living.  Let’s be honest.

I switched it up a lot this week and made sure to have different meal options – something other than just chicken, veggies, salmon and eggs.

On the menu:

Breakfasts and snacks have pretty much stayed the same: almond butter, apples, berries, dried fruit, nuts, veggies, guacamole, etc. LaraBars have been a saving grace at times too, although they are supposed to be used as more of an emergency food, according to the “rules”.  I like to have them as a pre-workout option.  I usually break off part of it before heading to the gym in the morning.  It’s a much better option than a hard-boiled egg and/or almonds at 5am. For me, that’s less than appetizing. :)

Sweet Potato Chili  (SO delicious, you won’t even miss the beans!) I paired it with kale salad…which isn’t as good without the Stevia, I have to admit.

DSC02012Baked Cod (dipped in egg, covered in almond flour and baked at 400 for about 20min.), paired with avocado and veggies.

DSC02013Paleo Beef and Broccoli with cauliflower rice

DSC01998Beef & Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 1 small onion, chopped*
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped*
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt/pepper

*I used garlic, onion and shallots already chopped from Trader Joe’s

DSC01995

Directions:

Cut broccoli into florets and steam, set aside.  Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic/onion for about 1 minute, add the steak and saute until almost cooked through.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined then mix in the broccoli florets.

Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2-1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Cut the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until it looks like grains of rice.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can probably use a blender or cheese grater.  Saute the onion in the olive oil, add the cauliflower and saute until soft.  Add the spices of your choice.

As always, check out Jenn’s blog for more WIAW posts!
 

More recipes coming your way soon, including a new breakfast casserole!

Have a great day!