On Monday I shared a few thoughts and several tips that I implement in my “be healthy” routine. Today I’m going to talk about a few of the things I eat and some tips that have made my relationship with food a lot easier.
I have an uncontrollable urge to start this post with a quick blurb about the arch nemesis of the “diet” world…Mr. Calorie. Stressing over calories is detrimental. Hating calories is silly. I prefer to look at calories like a valuable tool that helps me understand my body. For instance, if I’m going to burn 500 calories doing an hour of Zumba, I’m going to need to fuel my body with 500 EXTRA calories of nutritious food. I’m not suggesting restricting calories! Use any of the online tools (myfitnesspal.com) to figure out what your body needs in terms of calories AND nutrition and do your best to stay within the parameters. The world wont end if you don’t, but practicing calorie “awareness” will keep a lot of confusion out of your life.
I try to do a 3 day cleanse twice a year. Cleanses are highly controversial and not for everybody so please do your research and make choices that work for you. PLEASE DO NOT do a cleanse to loose weight. Just don’t. I won’t weigh myself for at least three weeks after a cleanse because its just going to mess with my head. Flat out, playing for keeps …don’t do it. This is what happens to me; I loose 5 pounds. YAY…?? Yeah no. The next week I gain 2 pounds. The week after that I gain 3 pounds. HMMM… Keep in mind that I am keeping track of what I eat and seeing a weight gain of that much can undermine my sometimes volatile determination. Its so easy to give up, don’t chance it. If I’m doing a cleanse (or detox) its because I know I’ve been pumping my system with junk that just doesn’t need to be there (i.e Keystone Light #TheShamefulTruth) or I am having particularly strong cravings for junk food. I feel that after a cleanse these cravings are by far less intense and I have a better handle on my will power. I’m not a doctor so go ahead and ask me if I can back this up with science if you want me to laugh. Honestly, feeling better after a cleanse is probably much akin to the placebo effect but it works for me, so do it I shall (<–Yoda). Click here to read about the cleanse that I do, thats IF you’re interested in cleansing. Do your research or consult a physician. If you’re not interested in cleansing…move along there’s nothing to see here (<-Storm Trooper…sometimes my writing voice reveals my inner nerd).
Breakfast is the easiest meal to skip but skipping will slow down your metabolism. So do yourself a favor and eat. I have a few “go tos” for breakfast. Coconut Banana Bread (see below) steel cut oats, chia seed pudding, and smoothies (just to name a few). If its one of the days that I exercise I eat more protein and more calories so I have plenty of energy… usually the steel cut oats. On days that I know I’ll be eating a hearty dinner I will compensate with my other meals by eating things that will keep me full but have lower calories like a blueberry/banana smoothie.
Lunch is an important meal. Whenever possible make it your big meal of the day. However, average American dinner protocol makes the possibility of this pretty minimal. If I get this done once a month I’m patting myself on the back. Once again, I plan my meals with exercise in mind and make the necessary allowances for it. Mostly I’m eating left overs from dinner.
Heres the bomb shell. I cook two dinners when I need to. It is not fun but I try to plan my meals to make it easier. For instance, if I’m making pizza for my family, I make my quinoa crust pizza for myself (see below). The quinoa has to soak over night so I get the jump on it early. While my regular pizza dough is rising I make my quinoa crust. While my quinoa crust is baking I make my regular pizza. Then I top the quinoa crust and bake them both at the same time. BOOM 2 dinners in less than 2 hours (barring the 12 hour soak time for the quinoa). Its really not ideal but if your family is like mine and roll their eyes at “squirrel food” (those are my husbands words) then really its your only avenue. Freeze your left overs in individual serving sizes! Once you have a surplus of left overs eating healthier is much easier. This is how I do things and is easiest for my family. Do what is easiest for you no matter what.
I would say that I cook 2 dinners about 4 times a week. The other days I am making swaps that are better suited for my daily calorie goals. For instance if we are having tacos, I’ll use greek yogurt instead of sour cream and 2 small flour tortillas instead of the massive burrito size. I also load up on the salsa and jalapenos! Spicy food boosts your metabolism and as I was raised on Tabasco, eating hot food is second nature. Another swap I frequently make is spaghetti squash for noodles. I do this mostly with spaghetti (go check out my recipe for Italian meat sauce).I am really not a squash person but spaghetti squash doesn’t have a strong flavor.
That leads me to the discussion of meat. Obviously, your going to want to go as lean as possible. What do you do when ground Turkey feels and tastes like cardboard? (yes, it does) If you’ve been following us for long you know where I’m going with this. Venison. PERIOD. Very lean and full of iron. My family eats venison at least 3 times a week, plus its very cheap. I cant imagine having to pay for it but would gladly do so if I had to. We butcher our own so I know where its been and calling it “organic” would be severely putting it lightly. Unlike many people, we don’t add pork fat into our elk burger so our meat is extra lean and full of flavor. However, venison is not for everybody because of its taste. It’s always worth a try. Find a lean meat that works for you. Beef on occasion is ok, cheap beef (burger) is not. Watch a slaughter house documentary and see if you can still eat cheap burger, I dare ya.
I am a huge snacker. I always crave a snack at 10am and 3pm. My favorite is dark chocolate chips and whole almonds. I also eat this excellent peanut butter dip made with greek yogurt and honey (see below) and apples. Quantities will depend on…you guessed it… whether I’m exercising that day
I’ll say this ONE BILLION times before this little series is over… make choices that will make you happy. Don’t force mean green smoothies on yourself everyday if you despise them! If somebody says you’re going to loose 10 pounds in a week its a lie. Food should never be something you hate. If we weren’t meant to enjoy food, God would have made us with no taste buds. Eating food that you love AND still being mindful of what you eat is possible. The best tool for this is Pinterest. Pin things that look and sound good to you. READ those pins. If the prep and cook time are not to your liking or they have ingredients you dont like, find something similar that suits you better. Follow people with tastes similar to your own. Start off by checking out our board Mindful eating magic.
Plan your meals. I plan my meals every two weeks to coincide with my shopping trips. I have always done this for my family (Its a great way to save money btw) so this isn’t too much of a stretch for me.
KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL! Monday I talked about myfitnesspal.com. The easy way to keep a food journal and track your nutrition and calories. Log everything and hold yourself accountable for everything you do with your body. MFP logs all your food, exercise, water intake and a whole lot more. I keep 2 food journals. Yeah, I know its a little excessive. It works for me and thats what’s important. I have myfitnesspal.com to take care of where I am with my calories. I have a calendar on my fridge where I write down each of my meals and what vitamins/supplements I take (more on that later) and how much water I drink (also more later). In addition to my food journals, as a reward to myself for a day well done I put a star on the family calendar for each day I keep strong to mindful eating and another for the days I exercise. When I do BOTH I circle that day. As rewards go this is pretty lame but I look forward to doing it everyday. Revel in the small things
I’m going to wrap this up by admitting my most horrible habit that is often the downfall of all my hard work. Eating in bed. Yeah…thats my dirty little secret. I eat in bed. Food is not fuel if your asleep. Don’t eat in bed. Don’t go to bed with an entire carton of oreos and a quart of milk. Dont go to bed with a bag of chips. Don’t go to bed with a stick of celery! Just go to bed.
On Monday I’m going to talk about the odds and ends that keep me feeling tip top.
As I promised heres a few of my favorite recipes.
Coconut Banana Bread
1&3/4 cup flour
1tps baking powder
1&1/4 tsp baking soda
3 large bananas (mashed)
1/2 cup + 2 tbs unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 tbs Coconut oil
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup honey
3 egg whites
2 tbs skim milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I always us Fage)
1/4 cup orange juice
Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, baking powder and baking soda. Combine bananas honey and vanilla. Add egg whites. Mix until smooth. Add Oil. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet. Add yogurt and OJ. If batter is dry add up to 2 tbs of milk. Finally, stir in Coconut. Pour into greased loaf pan and sprinkle 2 tbs of coconut on top.
For the Original recipe click here.
1 pound lean meat (I use Elk burger…always)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup worcestershire
1-2 tbs tabasco
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar, honey (I use sometimes use Stevia too, but thats optional)
1 tbs Cumin
Cayenne to taste (I use about a half a tablespoon or more. Some like it hot)
1 Large can crushed tomatoes
2 cans Black beans, Rinsed thouroghly and squished (I grab handfuls and squish through my fingers until they are all done. The trick is to mash them so they are recognized as beans, so do it by hand not with a food processor)
1 can of tomato sauce
1 12oz can of light beer (optional. Bud Select 55 and Miller 64 will be your lowest calorie option but its for flavor so splurge and go with Michelob Ultra or any other light beer. The cheaper the better )
Brown the burger rinse well and press to remove any grease. Add the next thirteen ingredients. Stir for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 hours.
This is my recipe so if you plan to reproduce it be a doll and source me here with a courtesy link. Thanks!
Quinoa Pizza Crust
3/4 Cup quinoa soaked for at least 8 hours, rinse and drain.
1/4-1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic (Optional but I use way more)
2 tsp Italian Seasoning (Optional)
You HAVE to soak the quinoa. From what I hear this wont work with dry.
Rinse it and drain it.
Add all the ingredients into a food processor (I use my magic bullet). Pulse until the dough resembles pancake batter. Adjust the water as needed.
You can cook the dough in the oven or on the stove top. I’ve only done it in the oven so Click here for the Original post and also for the stove top directions.
I use my trusty 8″ cast iron skillet with a lid. Nothing with plastic! I coat the bottom with olive oil. Original recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons of oil but thats quite a bit so use your best judgement. Put the lid on it and stick it in the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 450. My oven takes a while to heat up but make sure your skillet is nice and hot (10 minutes or so). Carefully remove the hot skillet and pour the dough in. It will sizzle so be careful please. Using the handle (AND A POT HOLDER) gently shake it until the dough is evenly distributed in the pan. Put the lid back on and place it in the oven. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side for 5 minutes or until browned evenly.
I remove my crust and add toppings but if you wanted you could probably add your toppings and keep it in the skillet.
Chia Seed Pudding
1 cup Almond milk
3 tbs Chia seeds
splash of vanilla
honey or maple syrup to taste
Add seeds and milk. Leave on the counter stirring every five minutes for about 20 minutes. Let sit for over an hour then its ready. I eat this for breakfast so I just mix it up the night before and plop it in the fridge and forget it. The original post says that you may need to add extra milk but I never have. I add the vanilla and honey (or maple syrup) to taste.
3 tbs Peanut butter
1 1/4 Greek Yogurt (I love Fage)
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp to 1 tbs honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Throw it all in your food processor or stand mixer and whip it up. I could eat this with a spoon. Dip apples, bananas, grapes…anything works!
For the original post click here.