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

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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 #10: Putting That Meal Prep to Work!

It’s been a while since I have posted my daily eats as a part of What I Ate Wednesday, and today I wanted to feature the benefits of my weekly meal prep. In order to keep myself sane, I have to make the extra effort on Sundays to make some of the food I know I will use during the week in advance.  Less cooking during the week = a much less-stressed Christa.  Trust me, it’s better for everyone involved.

As always, I post most of what I eat throughout the day…aka it doesn’t include the random handfuls of trail mix, extra bites of this or that, and the ever present chocolate. 🙂

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Thanks to Jenn for hosting!

Breakfast

Meal Prep #1: Breakfast “Potatoes”

For the past couple of weeks, breakfast “potatoes” have been #1 on my list of meal prep items. I’ve been trying to change up my breakfasts from the standard eggs and fruit or smoothie to something a little more hearty, yet still healthy. Usually, I make some kind of combination of sweet potatoes, butternut squash, turnips or parsnips.  Today, it was just butternut squash. Chop ’em up, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Then you have an easy and healthy option to heat up quickly in the morning.

DSC01947Of course, I love my coffee and almond milk in the morning; can’t leave the house without it! Target came out with a new flavor that is a MUST try.

DSC01942Paired with my new favorite mug (love the vintage Tiger) and a little vacay reminiscing, and the morning wasn’t allll bad. 😉

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Do I even have to say it? Apple and almond butter, naturally.  Have you tried Justin’s almond butter yet? Delish!

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Meal Prep #2: Crock-pot chicken

On Sundays, I make chicken for the week in a crock pot. It literally could not be easier…7 frozen chicken breasts, cook on low for 6-7 hours and then shred. Sometimes I add in salsa or just olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s so nice to have chicken already made for both Matt and I for the week.

Today added the chicken to a salad and topped it with chickpeas, carrots, zucchini, chopped almonds and chicken.  Dressing was homemade and simple – olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and stevia.

DSC01951I also had a few of these. Trader Joe’s for the win, always!

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Meal Prep #3: Protein Bars

I’ve changed my usual recipe up, eliminating the oats and experimenting with more of a paleo-esque  approach. I’m still making tweaks, so I’ll share the recipe when I think it’s worthy. 🙂

DSC01954Dinner

Mahi Mahi with roasted broccoli and topped with avocado. Avocado is a great healthy fat that I’m going to try and incorporate into my meals a little more. It’s so good!

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That’s it for today! Have a great one!

WIAW #8: New Recipes & Thanksgiving Tips

This week, I broke away from the usual eggs, protein bar and salad combos that tend to fill up my days.  I found a couple new recipes and decided to give them a try, so let’s get to it with this week’s What I Ate Wednesday (really, Tuesday).  Also, keep in mind, I do not list every single thing I eat, there is always a handful or two of trail mix, some Dove chocolate mixed in there.


Thanks again for hosting, Jenn!
Breakfast

I tried this Sweet Breakfast Scramble recipe out this weekend that I found over at Carrots ‘n Cake and really liked it, so I decided to repeat this week.  I followed the recipe, but I only used 1/2 a banana and added 1/2 cup of pumpkin.  It was nice to change it up for once!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • topped with peanut butter and honey

Snack

While I was out running errands this weekend I spotted this protein pumpkin muffin mix at Home Goods and couldn’t pass it up.  Not too shabby for a packaged mix!

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Lunch

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Turkey Chili over at GiGi Eats Celebrities and had to give it a try, especially when they said you couldn’t taste the pumpkin.  I didn’t tell Matt what the “secret ingredient” was and he had NO idea. Winning.  It was so good I had to repeat it for lunch.

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Snack

Apple and peanut butter.  No pictures.  Enough said. 🙂

Dinner

I got home late so just decided to whip up an egg scramble complete with egg whites, spinach, low sodium ham and goat cheese.  One of my favs!  It doesn’t look like much in the picture, but that’s because I forgot to snap one until I was almost finished.  #bloggerprobs.  I also snacked on half of another protein muffin and I can’t forget my Dove chocolate!

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Since tomorrow is Turkey Day, I thought I would leave you all with a few tips to keep it a little on the healthy side. I will preface this by saying that I am a big believer in having everything in moderation, and holidays are no exception.  I try to eat healthy 80-90% of the time, so there is no reason I can’t live a little on days like this….or even on a random Thursday for that matter. 😉  I am definitely not going to tell you to go to Grandma’s house and only fill your plate with turkey and green beans.  If you have the willpower to do that though, more power to you!  For me, the key is portion control.

1. Workout Thanksgiving morning.  Trust me, you will feel much better about indulging if you already got in a daily sweat session.

2. Portion control. Portion control. Portion control.  Don’t skip the potatoes and pie if that’s what you’re into, but it’s all about the portions.  Fill up most of your plate with protein, veggies and greens and then take small amounts of “the good stuff”.  This way, you can have your cake (or pie!) and eat it too. 😉

3. Bring something you “can” eat. My mom and I are all about this.  Bring a dish that you know will provide a healthy alternative.  That way, you know there will be at least ONE dish that you can count on being semi-healthy.  You might be surprised how much everyone appreciates that too!

4.  Take a walk.  After your big meal and after getting a little couch potato/football-watching time in, bundle up and take a walk.  Invite your family members to come along; it would be a good chance to get outside, breath in some fresh air, and catch up with grandma.

5. ENJOY the day!  Holidays are about spending time with family and friends, it shouldn’t be about stressing over what you ate (or didn’t eat).  Sit back, relax and take it all in.  You worked hard for it!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

WIAW #4: Water Challenge & Egg White Muffin Recipe

Today’s What I Ate Wednesday post isn’t going to include as many photos as usual because, well, I wasn’t on my A-game today.  It happens, right?  I think you’ll get the drift. 😉

As always, you can find the link-up here:

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Water

I’ve been going to a chiropractor for about 2 years now for my scoliosis and am so glad I made the choice.  I’ve had scoliosis since I was young and never thought it would be possible for the curvature of my spine to improve.  My scoliosis wasn’t severe enough to warrant surgery or a brace and it honestly hadn’t bothered me until a few years ago.  I started having more pain in my lower back after walking for a long period of time and even sitting was getting uncomfortable because one side of my back was protruding more than the other, which caused one side to touch the back of a chair when the other wasn’t.  There were also visible signs that probably the average person wouldn’t notice but I certainly couldn’t keep my eyes off of the “obvious hump” on my left side…you know how that goes. 😉  Fast forward two years later and my spine is visibly straighter and the discomfort basically non-existent.  Anywayyyy, this long back story brings me to the first part of my WIAW post…water!

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It is National Chiropractic Health Month and to celebrate, my chiropractor’s office is doing a month long event called the Healthy Habits Challenge. Each week they will focus on a different healthy habit and this week, it’s water!  They challenged everyone to at least set a goal of adding 8oz of water every day.  My personal goal is to drink at least 64oz of water a day.  Monday I succeeded and yesterday I probably got 3/4 of the way there.  Baby steps.  I really do feel so much better when I am hydrated so I’m going to carry this goal past this week and make it an ongoing habit!

Tip: if you are feeling slightly hungry but aren’t sure if you are ready for a meal/snack yet, drink a cold glass of water.  Sometimes it’s your dehydration talking, not your stomach!  Obviously if you are still hungry after drinking the water, then dig in!

Breakfast

As you all know, I am always on the lookout for a new quick go-to breakfast option.  I’ve tried making different egg casseroles before but nothing has really stuck.  I made my second attempt at egg “muffins” and this time I think I’ve found a winner.  My first attempt included frozen spinach…I won’t be doing that again.  It made the muffins waaay too runny.  This time I used fresh spinach leaves and the texture is much better.

You can use whatever combination of vegetables, meat and cheese that you want.  I used chopped peppers, spinach, deli meat and shredded cheese.  I subbed the shredded cheese with goat cheese for some of them because I’m obsessed.

Start by spraying the muffin pan with olive oil spray.  Then fill the cups halfway with the veggies/cheese/meat of your choice.

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The fill the rest of the cups with egg whites.

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Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

Egg White Muffins

 

Lunch

My office provided pizza from a delicious restaurant in St. Louis called Dewey’s.  I had two small slices, one with goat cheese (see?!), artichokes and pesto and the other was a BBQ chicken variety.  I only ended up eating part of the goat cheese slice because the pesto wasn’t really doing it for me.  Luckily I also had some kale salad that I brought from home (so I wouldn’t fill up on pizza). 😉 I wish I had paused long enough to take a picture but anything that tries to get in between me and my pizza….

Mid Afternoon Snack

I’m trying to get back in the habit of eating only vegetables and cutting out the fruit after lunchtime.  Celery and peanut butter is a snack that satisfies my sweet tooth and still allows me to get in my veggies.

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Dinner

Roasted green beans and a black bean turkey burger.  Oldies but goodies.  Again, sorry for the lack of photos!  Apparently I was extra hungry today.

 

Have a great day!

 

Sweet Potato Omelette Bake

Breakfast is one of the most important, if not THE most important, meal of the day- at least that’s what everyone says, and I happen to agree.  Eating a healthy breakfast will help curb your cravings throughout the day and jump starts your metabolism (and who doesn’t love that?!).  One of the hardest parts about trying to eat a healthy breakfast on a daily basis is the time is takes.  I don’t know about you, but I am that person who is ALWAYS running late in the morning.  Sometimes it’s 5min, sometimes 15min, but the day I get myself out the door and on the way to work EARLY, I will pat myself on the back and buy myself an ice cream. 🙂  This is why I am always looking for healthy recipes that can be made ahead so Matt and I can just heat it up and go.  I’ve tried crock pot egg casserole recipes before and while Matt really liked them, I wasn’t a fan of the texture.  Then I found this omelette recipe on Pinterest, and it was delicious!  It takes a little prep time, but I will be thanking myself when I should have left the house 5min ago and still end up with a healthy breakfast on the go!

I made adjustments to the original, so here is what I came up with!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

8 eggs

1/2 finely chopped onion

1/2 finely chopped green pepper

1-2 cups spinach

1-2 tbsp minced garlic

less than 1/3 cup shredded cheese

2 thinly sliced chicken sausage links

Instructions:

Thinly slice the sweet potato and arrange it around the bottom of a pie dish sprayed with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

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Saute onion, pepper and garlic until lightly browned.  Add spinach and saute until wilted.  Mix together with eggs, cheese and sausage. Pour omelette mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes.

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Bake at 350 for about 40min and voila!

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