Search results for 'brussels sprouts'

Resetting Expectations – Clean Eating Challenge

24 Feb

So I started this year out with a big goal of losing the baby weight, but not just that: getting my strong, lean, muscular body and energy back. Unfortunately I did not do measurements when I started so it’s difficult to track my progress that way, so I rely on two factors to tell me how I am doing. 1. the scale (my natural foe) and 2. the way my clothes fit – or don’t fit… So although I have kept up with my resolution to be a better stronger version of myself this year and hit the gym with consistency each week, there were definitely some times when I fell off the wagon with eating right. Like Valentine’s Day weekend when I fell off the wagon into a ditch on the side of the road then rolled into a lake full of dark chocolate covered peanut butter sea salt caramel truffles and cream puffs… and champagne… and steak… and ok, we’ll stop there. So with that being said (and done) I began my 10-day Clean Eating Reset Cleanse on the Monday after Valentine’s Day. I am on day 9 today.

I was first introduced to Clean Eating Reset Cleanse (the name I have dubbed it) by a good friend of mine, Amy who had been given it by a friend. Now compared to The Whole 30 my little reset is kids stuff. This is not a cleanse where you eat nothing for days on end and pretend like you wouldn’t murder your closest friend for a candy bar. This is not a juicing cleanse where you get nothing solid and am supposed to be ‘totally fine’ with that. This is a 10 day return to what is good and healthy and what your body is meant to consume. It is an elimination diet of sorts and that means it’s going to be hard, you are going to miss the foods that you eat all the time, the junk, the bread, the candy, the coffee, the alcohol, etc. You are going to crave them, your nose is going to linger as pass by the bakery at the market, the neighborhood Starbucks, heck, the burger joint your family is going to eat at that you simply does not coincide with your diet plan. I have done this cleanse twice, both with great success, I felt great, I lost weight, and I learned about what eliminating some food categories from my diet could do to help me feel like this all the time.

To help me with my goals, I set myself (silent) alarms on my phone as little reminders at different times of the day, like “make good choices” (keeping myself accountable), “your willpower is stronger than your craving” (for encouragement), etc. Sometimes you just need a little affirmation to help you get past that moment or hour of wanting something that you shouldn’t have. And because I believe in the saying “A goal without a plan is just wish” so I also made sure to make myself a meal plan on excel a couple days before I began the cleanse so that I would know exactly what foods I needed to buy and what I was going to be eating, this allowed me to think outside the box on what different foods I could eat and get some variety. One of the most important things to me is not getting caught in a situation where I don’t have any ‘cleanse friendly’ foods and either lose my mind because I am starving and cannot eat anything, or worse, eat things that are not in the plan. I was able to use the plan to effectively grocery shop in advance to be sure I had all the items I need on hand, since getting to the market after working all day and commuting with two kids under 5 at their dinner time, in the dark – is pretty much my nightmare.

Rules: Never: alcohol, dairy, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, wheat
Day Rule
1,2,9,10 Eat only: white meat, fish, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains
3,4,5,6,7,8, Eat only: fish, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains

Here is a sample of my plan: Day 3:

Breakfast Hard boiled egg(s)
Lunch carrots/celery and plain hummus, banana
Snack natural popcorn- no butter
Dinner Oven baked salmon with roasted brussels sprouts

The original cleanse called for 20 minutes of low impact exercise- such as a walk each day, but I am working out in the gym with cardio and weight lifting as well as doing some videos of no-equipment workouts I’ve found online (thanks Pinterest!)  like this Bikini Belly Bootcamp video from Pop Sugar (fitsugar.com).

For me, the processed foods (i.e. bread and crackers), candy, cookies, and cheese were by far the hardest. I have offered the cleanse plan to friends who are interested in doing something more regimented than just ‘cutting calories’ but often they cannot part with their coffee or soda habits, my very lactose intolerant friend ironically cannot part with cheese for 10 days. I’ve found though that it’s not that your body cannot take the withdrawal, it’s your mind setting up limitations for you. Do I want a grilled cheese sandwich right now? O my, yes! But I know that this is a challenge I can complete and I will.

I know that I can live without these things that are not good for my body, I know that I can be a stronger, healthier me without them. I feel proud that I have not swayed, even though I was so tempted to (with my hubby eating all the remaining  truffles and my niece selling us 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies). I hope that you can take a challenge, this challenge perhaps and feel as good as I do.

Here are some of the meals I have made:

Baked eggs with sauteed spinach, garlic, & red bell peppers.

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Oven baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and a quinoa vegetable pilaf.

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Chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder sauteed with green beans.

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What I Love Now

28 Oct

I love roasting vegetables, I don’t know how I ate veggies before discovering this amazing form of cooking- o wait, I avoided stand alone vegetables back then. If it wasn’t mixed in with something else or a green bean I was like not into it (think valley-girl speak). Well ever since roasting vegetables rocked my world I have been regularly enjoying a bounty of delicious and nutritious vegetables. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy seasonal favorites roasted, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts,  etc the possibilities are endless!

I personally used to hate carrots until I started roasting them and now they are one of my go-to sides. Carrots have a ton of vitamin A which is great for sight. Brussels sprout? Yea, I avoided that like the plague until about a year ago because frankly, I thought they were weird and smelled a little funny. NO, its not true, they are delicious and crazy nutritious. Brussels sprouts have chemicals called indole-3-carbinol which may help to prevent cancerous cell growth. I will literally eat these leftover roasted sprouts all by themselves, even cold right out of the fridge. Butternut squash is so amazing when it’s roasted, it is definitely my favorite way to cook it. Butternut squash is insanely difficult to cut up (so purchasing chopped and prepared fresh packages is great) but they contain a ton of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and potassium.

Roasting vegetables couldn’t be easier also, see below for my tips.

Carrots

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For carrots, I either trim them and then cut them into planks like you can see above or I will halve them and make them into chunks about 2 1/2 inches long. I try to lie them flat in the baking dish so that everyone will cook evenly. I usually toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper, place them in a preheated over at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until softened and in some places browned.

Brussels sprouts
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For Brussels Sprouts I like to trim their ‘stem’, remove any unsightly or yellowed leaves, then cut them in half and rinse them using a colander. I toss them with salt and pepper and olive oil as well and try to have them all in a single layer. I place them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes as well, they should be tender (you can stick a fork in it) and browned where the olive oil coated them.

Butternut squash
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For butternut squash I peeled the skin off, then chopped the squash into smaller even pieces. tossed with salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and olive oil. Roasted them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until tender (check by sticking a fork in it).

Roasting is easy since you literally just cut things up and put it in the oven, no occasional stirring or keeping your eye on it which frees you up for other cooking tasks. Hopefully you will start loving roasted veggies and up your intake of these valuable nutrients.

Lasagna Stuffed Zucchini Boats

1 Oct

I learned today that it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so it felt fitting that I make a vegetarian meal for dinner. Not to mention the calorie laden meal I prepared yesterday that I needed to counteract. I do what I can to try and balance out my meals, even if it’s from one day to another by having light soup or salad or vegetarian meals if I am going to be having heavy carb-filled meals during the day or week.
I have made different kinds stuffed zucchini boats and each time they are light yet filling and mighty delicious. I got the idea for the lasagna stuffed zucchini boats from recipes I’ve seen where you replace lasagna pasta with zucchini slices, I felt like this captured that spirit but was less messy and quicker to make.

Lasagna Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Servings: 4
4 large zucchinis
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg
1-1.5 cups tomato based pasta sauce (I used my ‘everything’ veggie pasta sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice ends off washed zucchini, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Carefully scrape out insides of zucchini but leave enough of a wall to keep stuffing inside (see picture below). Place zucchini in a baking dish. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, and garlic until well blended. Spread ricotta mixture in boats then cover with tomato sauce, cover baking dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover boats with mozzarella, recover, and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

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I decided to serve mine with roasted Brussels sprouts which were a great side dish for this, but you could use orzo, pasta, garlic bread, etc.

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This meal had a great Italian flare but less calories than a traditional lasagna. There are so many great recipes that you can use out there for stuffed zucchini boats that incorporate all kinds of flavors and can give you your own ideas of how to make your own creation – like I did with this one!

The Veg Project: What’s For Dinner?

27 Mar

Since Stephanie & I began The Veg Project (a three week challenge of becoming Pesco-Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians) we have spent quite a bit of time texting each other about what we are eating for our meals. At first when thinking about becoming a vegetarian people tend to say “so I guess I can only eat vegetables” and then picture themselves sat down in front of a dinner plate with a measly stalk of celery as their taste buds die off one by one- this is not so. Conversely there are those that think their life is going to be one pb&j after another until the bitter end- also not true. There are so many awesome things that can be made vegetarian and this is especially true I find for Pesco-Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians because they can still eat seafood, dairy, and eggs.
Some of the things I have been making or ordering include: vegetable lasagna, egg & cheese quesadilla, black bean veggie burritos, shrimp & fish tacos, seared scallops with sautéed spinach and roasted Brussels sprouts, corn, peppers, & jack cheese stuffed portabello mushroom caps with roasted sweet potatoes, spinach salad, bean & cheese burritos, baked salmon, veggie chili, & of course my ‘everything’ veggie pasta sauce, just to name a few. br />
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The Veg Project: week one

23 Mar

Week one of the Veg Project was actually a little tougher than I originally thought it would be. I thought since I was already making meatless meals for dinner often and choosing veggie burritos over chicken there would be little to no temptations to go down the meat path, but it was hard.
I have grown accustomed to making many meat filled meals that have become staples in this house, so grocery shopping was strange as I found myself going toward the meat counter or starting to reach for the turkey bacon. I quickly remembered to steer away. When browsing Pinterest (one of my favorite past times) I would see a recipe for chicken tortilla soup and think, ‘oh I have to try that… Oh wait, I’m not eating that.’ I was especially challenged going to a local restaurant for a meeting with a lender friend and two of my work associates. We went to a restaurant that I go to often, except I have only even eaten chicken lettuce wraps, chicken tortilla soup, or a chicken stir fry. Knowing I didn’t already have a veg standby lined up I thought it was a good idea to check out the menu prior to leaving for the restaurant. I was having a particularly difficult time picking something, but I settled on a couple options and ended up with a roasted veggie lasagna that was amazing! It’s crazy how ingrained my eating habits are, how automatic it is for me to think ‘hmm I’m hungry, I want a chicken taco.’ But I know it’s just something that I need to retrain my brain to do.
Now it wasn’t all bad, there were a couple easy moments this week like eating at a couple burrito places which offer delish veg burritos and making some great meatless meals which included veggie burgers with spinach and raspberry salad, baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts, and spicy corn, peppers, jack cheese stuffed portabello mushroom caps with roasted sweet potatoes. This change of diet has been made easier since my husband has gotten on board. He is not participating in the Veg Project (he’s not converting to be a pesco-lacto-ovo vegetarian) but has been completely fine with me cutting meat out of our dinners and been supportive of me when I had challenging moments.
I have also checked in with my Veg Project buddy and she said she’s feeling good and thinks that the meat free diet is actually helping her with her digestion. Most people don’t choose to go cold turkey when giving pretty much anything up, but I know myself and I know that if I am still consuming the thing I’m giving up that it can be a very slippery slope and I won’t succeed. So cold turkey it is!
Week one: done and no cheating (brownie points!).

salad

Above is one my favorite summer salads: tender baby spinach, tart & fruity raspberries, dry roasted slivered almonds, & tangy low fat honey mustard dressing. Totally refreshing!