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 #11: Butternut Squash Chili

Time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday! I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photos this time around…it’s all the same, right?

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Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with more roasted breakfast “potatoes”. This time, the mix included sweet potatoes and turnips….I never thought I would like turnips, but they are quite tasty!

I also grabbed a sugar-free caramel almond milk latte (that’s quite the mouthful, isn’t it?) on the way to work. I stayed pretty full until lunch, but also grabbed a small handful of trail mix mid-morning.

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Lunch

I went to lunch with some co-workers and my boss at Crazy Bowls and Wraps, where I ordered a chicken fajita bowl, sans rice…along with a few tortilla chips.  It was really good but a little heavy on the beans and cheese, which I wasn’t expecting. No pics this time. Didn’t want to freak my co-workers out. 🙂

Dinner

Dinner was the highlight of my day. I found this recipe for Paleo Butternut Squash Chili and had to give it a try, especially since we are dealing with yet another snow day around here….is it spring yet?!

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Paired with a kale salad, it was a delicious meal…oh, and a piece (ok, two) of THIS deliciousness. Ohmygoodnessgracious this stuff is no joke. Sorry for the blurred pic. I blame the chocolate.

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I only made a couple of small changes to the recipe, but here’s how I made the chili!

DSC01961Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 lb steak, cubed
  • 3 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 15oz cans fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles, diced
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15oz can beef broth
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Texas chili powder (recipe calls for Chipotle but I couldn’t find it)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • salt- the recipe doesn’t call for it but I added some to my bowl (I’m a salt lover and my husband, not so much ;))

Directions:

Chop all vegetables. Brown meat in a skillet for about 5 minutes, add vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes, or until veggies are cooked about halfway.  If your roasted red peppers aren’t already diced, add them to a food processor or blender and pulse until diced (do not drain). Add the remainder of ingredients and meat/veggie mixture into a pot and simmer for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender.

Again, I do not always post every single thing I eat throughout the day, just the noteworthy meals.  I don’t want to bore you too much to death… 😉

 

Make it a great day!

 

WIAW #7: Healthy Homemade Snacks

Last week, I promised you all a few snack recipes I prepared during my weekly meal prep so I thought I would include them in my usual What I Ate Wednesday post. I’m sure you have been waiting with bated breath (ha), so here ya go. 😉

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I realized recently that, in order to keep myself from turning to packaged chips (even if they are “healthy”), I need to have alternatives on hand that I can snack on when I’m making dinner or just in the mood for a salty, crunchy snack.  It’s all too easy to grab “just a few” chips and hummus…next thing you know I’m elbow deep in the bag and no idea how I got there.  Even though it takes a little extra time on a Sunday afternoon to prep for the week, it really is worth it in the end.  Especially when I don’t have to worry about it during the week when I get home from work. Preparation is key, people!

Crispy Parmesan Edamame(original recipe found here)

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz frozen shelled edamame (I found mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4c parmesan cheese (I didn’t actually measure mine, just sprinkled until it was covered)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Thaw the edamame by running under cold water.  Drain and pat dry then toss in olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Pour onto a baking sheet with foil or sprayed with olive oil spray and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until crispy.

Kale ChipsIngredients:

  • 1-2 bunches of kale
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

It really couldn’t be easier….tear off the kale leaves, place on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray or covered in foil.  Drizzle the kale with olive oil and toss to evenly distribute the oil then sprinkle with salt and/or pepper (if you so desire).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until crispy.  These go from semi-crispy to burnt pretty quickly, so keep your eye on them!

Spicy Roasted ChickpeasIngredients:

  • 2 cans chickpeas (15oz ea)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

**Feel free to add more spice if you want, I found my first batch need a little extra “something”….and that something = more salt. 🙂

Directions:

Drain and rinse the chickpeas in a colander.  Toss the chickpeas in the colander to get rid of any excess water.  Pour chickpeas onto a paper towel and pat dry.  I also let them sit out for a bit, to make sure they are dry because otherwise you will get soggy chickpeas. 🙂  Toss the chickpeas  in a bowl with the olive oil and spices then spread onto a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil spray or covered in foil.  Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes, or until crispy.

 

Happy HUMP DAY!

WIAW: What I Ate Wednesday #1

After seeing many other What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) posts around the blogging world, I decided to finally take part myself!  I love reading what other healthy living bloggers eat on a “normal” day and even though I do post recipes and some of my daily go-to meals, I haven’t posted an entire day’s worth of meals yet.  No better time like the present, right?  So, let’s get to it!

WIAWbutton(Thanks for hosting, Jenn!) 🙂

Tuesday’s Menu:

Breakfast

I started out my morning with one of Matt’s and my favorites lately, non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt with fresh bluberries, chopped walnuts, and a little homemade Peanut Butter Granola.  I threw in a few chia seeds this time too, for good measure.

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Oh, and I can’t forget my coffee, complete with Stevia and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  Anyone else love the fact that Target now has K-cups?  I went with the Caramel Machiatto flavor this time but I also spotted Pumpkin Spice, which you better believe will make it into my little red basket next time. 🙂

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Mid-Morning Snack

Fast forward a couple hours and per usual, I’m hungry again.  For a snack, I paired an apple with one of my new favs, Dark Chocolate Almond butter.  This stuff is no joke.

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Lunch

For lunch, I had had Kale Salad with grilled chicken and a few slivered almonds on top.  To top it off, I grabbed a small handful of trail mix and of course, no meal would be complete without a little dark chocolate.

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Gotta love Dove. 🙂

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Mid-Afternoon Snack

I really take this 5-6 small meals a day seriously, you guys. 🙂  A few hours after lunch, I grabbed a Homemade Protein Bar to hold me over until dinner.  This time, I used vanilla protein powder and added chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Gooey and delicious, just the way I like them!

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Dinner

While I was cooking dinner, I snacked on a couple (seriously, just a couple!) of these new lentil chips I found at the store, with spicy hummus.  The chips were an interesting texture, but pretty good!

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When I was at Trader Joe’s yesterday, I spotted a bag of shredded brussel sprouts.  I always hear about these tasty recipes people come up with for brussel sprouts, but I just haven’t been able to jump on the bandwagon.  I thought maybe they would be better in the shredded form??  I sauteed them with broccoli, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a little Italian seasoning.  I can’t say I’m convinced, but they weren’t too bad, especially after I added a little goat cheese on top.  Goat cheese fixes everything, let’s be real.  I paired the veggies with grilled chicken and a few dark chocolate acai berries for dessert (yum!).

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 Welp, there you have it!  Happy Hump Day!

3 x 3 Full Body Circuit Workout

One more day and it’s Fridaaaayyyyy!!!!!!

I’ve been loving my lunch/dinner combinations the past few days, so I thought I should share.  When I can, I try to find easy/healthy recipes that will make enough food that I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week. I’m such a good housewife, huh? On Tuesday night, I made kale salad so I would have it for lunch during the week, and for dinner I threw together a chicken stir-fry that was just as easy to make as it was tasty. For my lunch the past few days, I have paired the kale salad with plain tuna.  Usually, I would think plain tuna would be gross and boring, but the salad has enough flavor (at least I think so), that I don’t even notice.  For the stir-fry, I used two bags of a veggie mix I found in the produce section that included snow peas, broccoli, sprouts and cabbage.  I grilled it all on the stove, then mixed it together with a low-sodium soy sauce and a little General Tso’s sauce.  Normally, I would try to keep the added sauces and syrups out of my meals, but as long as you don’t over do it, it’s not the end of the world.  I know “food is fuel” (direct quote from my dad) but personally, I prefer my fuel to at least have some flavor. 😉

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Backtracking to my morning workout yesterday, I started out with 15min of light cardio, then put together this full body circuit workout.  For that little extra “kick”, add in 10 burpees or run on the treadmill for 5min in between each circuit!

3x3 Full Body Circuit

 

Exercise Details/Links

Walking Overhead Lunges– walking lunges holding a 15-25 pound plate/weight above your head, arms straight. (I used a 25 pound plate this time)

Superman Planks

Walking Planks  (Plank Push-ups…I have a variety of names for this one, apparently.) 🙂

Plank Spider Squats

Stability Ball Jack Knifes

Walking Push-ups– start standing up, bend over at the waist, place your hands on the ground and walk them forward until you are in straight arm push-up position.  Do a push-up, then walk your hands back towards your body until you are back in standing position, keeping your legs only slightly bent when walking out/back.  That is 1 rep.

 

Have a great day!

 

Skinny Rules

I ran across these “Skinny Rules” by Bob Harper on Pinterest one day and thought I would share!  I realized that I have actually been living by these rules since I started cheering and working with personal trainers and they seriously change the way you think about food and your overall health.  I’m not saying I follow every.single.one of these rules every.single.day of my life (ahem, #1, 12, 13, 18), but try incorporating a few at a time and I don’t think you will regret it!  Not only will you have more energy, you will feel better about your body overall and, if paired with exercise, you will more than likely start seeing the results you want!

Skinny Rules

When I set out to make dinner last night, I realized a common theme…lots and lots of GREEN on the plate!  Doesn’t get much better than that, right?!  Well, of course pizza, french fries and ice cream might be a little bit better, but that’s neither here nor there.  It IS swimsuit season after all…

Dinner consisted of roasted green beans, kale salad and salmon.  The recipes are below and let me tell you, this kale salad is to die for. That is, if you die over things like kale.  Hey, it’s the little things in life right? I will take what I can get. 🙂  All of these recipes are super easy to make.  I don’t know about you but when I walk in the door after work I’m usually starving, so  if I can spend less time cooking and more time eating, all the better!

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Roasted Green Beans

Preheat oven to 400.  Place cleaned and trimmed fresh green beans on a baking sheet that is lined with foil and sprayed with olive oil spray.  Drizzle the green beans with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20min, or until they are on the crispy side, turning once.  Baking times will vary, depending on your oven.

Salmon

For the salmon, I cooked it on the stove in a little olive oil and lemon juice, then sprinkled it with Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper seasoning (because it’s salt free!) and pepper. Ok, maybe I added a little salt too…

Kale Salad

Mix together the following ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Kale (I found mine already cleaned and cut up at Trader Joe’s, I think it was about 10 oz)
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Shredded Cabbage
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 cup Stevia (or sweetener of your choice)

Let the salad chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 min so the flavors have a chance to “blend”.  I sound like a real chef, don’t I? 😉

Enjoy!!!