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. 😉

DSC01948Snack

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

DSC01949Lunch

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!

DSC01950Snack

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!

Roasted Red Pepper Salad

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve!  Mine was spent at dinner with friends and concluded with champagne, competitive board games, and party hats. Pretty good night if you ask me. 🙂

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DSC01616Every year though, I think I look forward even more to New Year’s Day when we get together with our friends for a day filled with football, food and mimosas. Per usual, we had the traditional chili, buffalo chicken dip and more carbs than I could count, but as we’ve gotten a older the spread has become a little more “mature” and a little less unhealthy…a little. 😉 I was really happy when my friend Kate showed up with a salad and I knew I needed to get the recipe to share.

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(She’s too cute not to include in the picture, right?) 😉

It was light, yet full of flavor. If you are on a bit of a detox after the holidays, like me, this is a great way to dress that boring ol’ salad!

Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Roasted Peppers:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano

Directions

Marinate the red peppers in the EVOO, garlic and red pepper overnight. Whisk dressing ingredients together and add roasted peppers. Pour over salad of your choice!

Have a great weekend!