Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Whole30 Day 12

I'll try to keep this short and sweet since I was a little long-winded yesterday. :) We rode our bikes to work today so we powered up for our ride with the rest of yesterday's frittata. I had my Iced Americano and a banana when I got to work.

Lunch looked remarkably similar to yesterday's lunch because it was the exact same thing-Health-Bent's Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes and an Italian salad. It was just as yummy on day 2 as it was yesterday.
Yesterday's Lunch...
...Today's Lunch



Lunch Twins!







During this Whole30 I have really tried to incorporate snacks into my day that do not include fruits or sweets. It isn't easy because I have a big ol' sweet tooth, but today I brought sliced cucumber (from our garden!), baby carrots (from not our garden) and Whole9's Cashew Hummus topped with sun dried tomatoes. It got me through the afternoon until dinner.

Dinner was Wellness Mama's Chicken Apple Stir Fry. I added bacon (a lot of bacon) and cabbage to the mix of apples, chicken, onion, fennel and spices and we devoured it! And we got to eat with our fancy chopsticks so that is always fun.


We stayed up late watching the Olympics...again so I had a bowl of bananas and blueberries with coconut milk, shredded coconut and almond butter. If you think I have an almond butter obsession, you thought right. I think I am showing a lot of restraint by only eating about a spoonful a day. It could be worse, much worse. :)


I have been loving the Olympics so far. We watched Missy Franklin take the gold in the Women's 100M Backstroke Finals and caught the first part of Men's Gymnastics before going to bed. It was really exciting.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Whole30 Day 11 and Ramblings on Work, School and Life

I woke up MUCH earlier this morning than I would prefer for a Sunday, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I had places to be and people to see. But first, I had five miles to run. I had a Vanilla flavored Gu before my run. Certainly not Whole30 approved, but I have yet to find a good alternative. I knew I could take it right before I headed out the door and it wouldn't upset my stomach. If anyone has found a way to replace Gu's or similar products please let me know. I'd love to find a way to phase them out, but when you are out on the bike or running there aren't many foods that are both portable and easily digestible.


After my run, I put together a quick frittata of leeks, chicken sausage, green bell peppers and eggs. I topped it with the last of the Spicy Tomatillo Sauce from Friday and I was good to go! As you can see, I ate my breakfast in the car. Good thing this is not a safe driving blog because I think I broke one of the cardinal rules. I am in no way advocating eating breakfast in your car. If I were smart I would have just snapped a picture before I left and then I never would have had to tell you about my unsafe driving practices.

The reason I was in such a hurry was because I am starting a new job next week and I had to go in for some training. I haven't said much about it yet, but I will be working at a local healthcare facility that focuses on a holistic approach to medicine, including naturopathic medicine and nutrition counseling. I think it will be a great fit while I am in school, but I have a lot to learn before I start next week so I went in for a couple hours of training. I drank a smoothie and a cup of chamomile tea while I was there.

Now that I think about it, I am not sure that I mentioned I was going back to school! I have asked Kevin over and over how he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He seemed to have figured it out pretty early on, but I never felt like I knew what I was passionate about. Ever since we started to focus more on our health (i.e. stopped eating fake foods) about a year ago I have not been able to stop reading  and talking about healthy eating. Hell, I started a blog about it. So it pretty much goes without saying that I finally found my passion. I realized that I want to make this a part of my life in a big way and started searching out schools that could help make that happen. I want to learn for myself which foods are healthiest and why, I want to learn how foods prevent and reverse disease, and I want take everything I learn and help others. So I researched a bunch of schools and settled on Hawthorn University's Master of Science in Health and Nutrition Education program. I will start my first class in a few weeks and I am really looking forward to it. I am actually excited about school, that must be a good sign.

My next stop was Quill's Coffee to meet a new friend. I had a blind friend date (friend blind date?) with  Meagan who blogs over at International Loser. We are both members of a group called Healthy Living Blogs and found out we lived in the same area so we decided to meet up. Healthy Living Blogs is a great group of bloggers from all over the world who focus on writing about health, fitness and nutrition. I only just recently joined, but since it got me a coffee date I am already loving it! It was the first time I have met another blogger in person and I am happy to have a real life blog friend. We chatted over coffee (Iced Americano for me!) about our blogs and about life in general and made plans to meet up again soon.


It was finally time for lunch and I knew exactly what I wanted. I have made these Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from Health-Bent a few times already and they are amazing. I made three of them so we would have some for lunch and some for leftovers. Kevin made an awesome Italian salad on the side with a yummy lemony dressing. It was quite a lunch!



After lunch it was off to the pool for my swim. All of this triathlon training is getting in the way of my time watching the Olympics, but hopefully it will pay off in the end. Post-swim snack was a few pieces of dried mango. 

And then I took total control of the kitchen and went full on crazy prepping food for the coming week. As you can see from the picture I really went to work. I shredded sweet potato and zucchini for breakfasts, roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash, made a beef roast in the crock pot and made an arugula pesto. I also made a simple and delicious apple sauce that I saw on Chow Bella's blog during her Whole30. You can find the recipe here



Dinner was salmon and roasted veggies topped with Kevin's famous chipotle guacamole. It was just what I needed after a day of hard workouts. We stayed up late watching the Olympics so I started feeling a little snacky and had an apple with almond butter. 




Have you been watching the Olympics? What is your favorite sport to watch? I love beach volleyball, swimming, cycling and the track and field events.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Whole30 Day 10




We woke up bright and early Saturday morning because I am a huge nerd and wanted to get our bike ride out of the way so I could park my butt on the couch and watch the Olympics all day. I had a small bowl of blueberries, shredded coconut and coconut milk before our ride.


We rode close to 30 miles so when we got home it was time for breakfast #2 which was MUCH bigger than breakfast #1. I made this Poblano Breakfast Hash from Fresh Habits. I topped it with some of the Spicy Tomatillo Sauce that we made yesterday. I may or may not have gone back for seconds. 


Breakfast #2 didn't happen until about 12:00pm so it was basically lunch. So, instead of an actual lunch, I made a bowl of blackberries (fresh from the farmers market that morning!), banana, and almond butter to hold me over until dinner.


Words cannot describe this dinner, but I am a blogger so I'll give it a try. This meal is my new obsession. Gordon Biersch Brewery opened in Louisville a few months ago and I don't usually get exited about any new chain restaurants that open around here, but this is an exception. Kevin discovered this treasure and now we eat there at least once a week. 


We order the Farmhouse Burger, which is a burger, smothered in bacon jam and topped with an over-easy egg. They serve it with arugula and tomato and I always order asparagus as my side dish. I also ordered a house salad because it was really my only second meal of the day and I was hungry.



When I originally asked our server what "bacon jam" was he told me it was bacon cooked in bacon fat and I thought that was pretty much awesome. But Kevin and I were discussing it last night, and I think it tastes like there are some other things in there. Maybe sugar or maple syrup or something. I definitely saw onions and tasted spices so I think I need to ask again. I try to always ask what is in certain dishes because menus can be deceiving, but then I just have to trust whatever the server tells me.



So I've been doing this Whole30 for a week and a half and my sugar has been limited to a couple servings of fruit per day and maybe a Lara Bar every once in a while. For about the first five days I had this nagging, dull headache and I wasn't sure why, but I am pretty convinced now that it was a bit of sugar withdrawal. Which surprised me because I already felt that my sugar intake was pretty low, but now it couldn't get much lower so I think my body just has a little WTF? moment. After a few days it faded away, but I remember feeling the same way when I stopped drinking Diet Sunkist.

I had a major Diet Sunkist habit and when I first tried to quit I just went cold turkey. BIG mistake. It was the week from hell. I was tired, headachy and I couldn't concentrate on anything for more than 5 seconds. My caffeine boycott lasted a few months, but then the Diet Sunkist snuck back into my life. After a couple of years I decided again to quit and this time I phased it out slowly. I went from two or three a day to one a day and then one every other day over the course of a couple weeks. That made the transition much easier when I stopped drinking it altogether. That was a bit of a detour fro my original point, which was that I am curious if anyone else has gone through "withdrawals" during a Whole30.

I've also noticed that my cravings for junk food have gone way up this past week! I hate to say it, but I keep thinking about Skittles, candy corn and chocolate. Oh and cake with thick, sugary frosting. Don't forget the cake. Normally, you can put me in the middle of a birthday party and I barely notice there is a cake there at all. Again, I think these cravings can be attributed to the removal of most sugars from my diet. My body is just adjusting and hopefully the cravings will subside.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spicy Tomatillo Sauce and Whole30 Day 9

This morning we woke up and went to our first official CrossFit class at Clark Floyd CrossFit. I ate a few pieces of cantaloupe before class to get me going.

I've heard and seen a lot about CrossFit since becoming a part of the Paleo community, but honestly it seemed too hard for me and I wasn't sure how it would fit into my already busy schedule of swimming, biking and running. After Kevin's Ironman 70.3 in Florida he really wanted to focus on strength and learning proper technique so we stopped into our local CrossFit gym on a bike ride a few weeks ago. We've been a few times now and are learning the basics. I love the focus on proper form and the sense of community. And I hope to be able to make my body do some of the badass stuff that elite athletes can do. Actually, I just want to do a pull up. Just one. I have never been able to do one in my whole life. So that is my number one goal right now.

After class we had to hurry up and get ready for work so I threw together a hash with shredded zucchini, sweet potato, onion, salsa and the rest of the leftover beef roast. I made enough that I could even pack some up for lunch!

When lunchtime rolled around I heated up my leftovers and ate them over a bed of lettuce greens and Trader Joe's Broccoli and Carrot Slaw. I also threw in some microwaved frozen veggies for good measure.


Snack time was an apple and some roasted sweet potato-the last of the big batch I had roasted last Sunday! We snuck off to the grocery store after work and I picked up a Lara Bar to eat on the way home. I was pretty sure my stomach was going to eat itself if I waited to eat again until dinner.


I was super excited about dinner! Kevin does some amazing things in the kitchen and one of them is this Spicy Tomatillo Sauce that I am going to share with you today. It is full of roasted tomatillo and pepper goodness and you can adjust the spice to your liking. We poured it over grilled ham steaks and sautéed peppers and onions, but you can have it over eggs, chicken, steak, or even as a veggie dip!



Spicy Tomatillo Sauce
Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 lb tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup water

Directions
-Preheat oven to broil.
-Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or coat with a bit of olive oil.
-Place tomatillos and peppers in an even layer on baking sheet and place in oven to broil, leaving oven door open slightly (a good tip anytime you broil).
-After the tomatillos and peppers begin to blister, about 10 minutes, flip everything over and cook for an additional 10 minutes on the other side. Remove from oven and let cool.
-Once peppers are cool enough to handle, remove stems. Add tomatillos, peppers and water to a blender. Pulse until smooth.

>>Modifications
Less spice - cut jalapeño in half and remove seeds before roasting
No spice - omit jalapeño


Whole30 Day 8

Today I actually did manage to get my butt out of bed bright and early to get to a 5:15am spin class. I would much prefer to actually ride my bike outside, but some days my schedule doesn't allow. I ate a Lara Bar on the way over to class and made my Chipotle Salsafied Breakfast when I returned home. This is a great, filling meal and I like that you can tailor the taste based on the type of salsa you use. I've been experimenting with different salsas from Trader Joe's lately - they have Habanero Lime, Garlic and even Smoky Peach (although the Peach is not Whole30 compliant so it will have to wait).

For lunch I brought leftover salad from the previous night's dinner and added some lunch meat and roasted sweet potatoes for carbs and protein. I also made Whole9's Cashew Hummus and brought a bit of that to eat with some carrots and celery. I was skeptical that you could turn cashews into hummus, but it tasted surprisingly good. I made the roasted red pepper version and topped it with sun dried tomatoes.


Tonight was family dinner night, which I love because 1) I get to see my family and 2) I show up after work and dinner is ready! My mom made a roast in the crock pot, salad and roasted sweet potato and jicama fries.


I try not to have an evening snack unless I am actually hungry (and not just because I like to sit on the couch and eat almond butter), but tonight I was just hungry enough and made a small bowl with banana, almond butter, raisins and coconut milk.


One of the big things I have noticed since starting my Whole30 is that there are a lot of sneaky ingredients out there! For example, I made a stir fry for lunch on Sunday and got out the coconut aminos, fish sauce and siracha to mix up my stir fry sauce. No sooner than I had tossed it all in the pan did Kevin start reading the labels and noticed that both fish sauce and siracha have sugar, and siracha has a bunch of preservatives in the form of Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulfite, Xanthan Gum.

You would think that after doing this for an entire year I would be smarter about reading labels, but I think I learned my lesson. Last night at the grocery store I found there were a lot of sneaky little ingredients out there. When I buy tomato sauce I expect the ingredients to be tomatoes and spices, but that is not usually the case. I spent about 10 minutes carefully reading each label until I found a sauce that looked good and had ingredients I could pronounce. The sausage we normally buy has sugar added so I found a sun-dried tomato chicken sausage that seemed to make the cut. It was good to have a little wake up call to remind me to pay more attention to the foods I choose.

Are there any foods that you thought would be perfectly Paleo that had sneaky sugar, preservatives or other ingredients in them?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grilled Ahi Tuna Mexican Salad Whole30 Day 7

I had every intention of waking up this morning and going to 5:30 spin class, but my bed felt just a little too cozy and I slept until almost 7:30. This was a morning that I was so glad I thought ahead and cooked a big breakfast the day before. I made Everyday Paleo's Southwestern Frittata yesterday so I just rolled out of bed, threw it in the microwave and chowed down!

My boss was nice enough to buy us all lunch yesterday so I went out to pick it up. We chose the Chop Shop, which is sort of like Subway, but with salads. They have a ton of yummy ingredients and you just go down the line and choose your toppings. I went with spinach, chicken, strawberries, broccoli, asparagus and green peppers with oil and vinegar on the side.

My afternoon snack was a banana with almond butter while I worked away at my desk!


I was so excited to come home and make dinner because we were trying out a new recipe with some Ahi Tuna from Trader Joe's and I just couldn't wait to make it and share it with you! Kevin, being the grill master that he is, cooked up the tuna steaks while I put the salad together. We had roasted broccoli on the side and it all looked so good that my eyes were a bit bigger than my stomach and I couldn't quite clean my plate.


I had the idea to try a Mexican salad with a chili lime vinaigrette. I took lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pepitas, black olives and avocado and topped it all off with onions and sautéed mini peppers. When the tuna was perfectly grilled, I sliced it and layered the strips on top of the salad. Finished off with a drizzle of the chili lime vinaigrette, this dinner couldn't get much healthier (or tastier)!


Grilled Ahi Tuna Mexican Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


Ingredients
>For the Tuna
Two Ahi Tuna Steaks (about 1/2 lb each)
Dash of salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime

>For the dressing
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chopped garlic
Dash of salt and pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/3 cup olive oil

>For the Salad
1 tbsp olive oil
12 mini peppers, sliced into rings
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 romaine heart, chopped
2 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup chopped cabbage
8-10 black olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)


Directions
>For the Tuna
Heat your grill to medium-high heat.
Pat tuna steaks dry with a paper towel and set on a plate or cutting board.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
When grill is pre-heated, place steaks on grill and cook with lid closed for 3-4 minutes per side, to desired level of doneness.
Squeeze lime juice over tuna steaks, remove from grill and let rest while you prepare your salad.

>For the dressing
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.

>For the Salad
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.
Once hot, add mini peppers and red onions to skillet. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring often. 
Remove peppers and onions from heat and set aside.
Add romaine, salad greens and cabbage to a large bowl. Add olives tomatoes, avocado and pepitas and mix well.
Divide salad evenly among 4 plates.
Top each plate with a portion of the peppers and onions.
Slice tuna steaks on an angle and arrange on top of each salad.
Drizzle salads with dressing and dig in!

Foster assumes his position at the back door to jealously watch us grill


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Whole30 Day 6

Day 6 started in the pool. After seeing my horrible swim form on video I decided to take one of my swim sessions this week and work on my technique. I think I made some improvements. I popped a few dried apricots before my swim and made Everyday Paleo's Southwestern Frittata after. This is one of my favorite breakfasts. If you haven't tried it, I highly suggest it. I also made a smoothie with green tea, coconut milk, frozen blueberries, spinach and a banana. I was a hungry girl!

Lunch was more leftovers! I had the rest of my leftover chicken stir fry from Sunday and a salad. My afternoon snack was a sliced bell pepper with half an avocado and some salsa. Seriously, aliens have taken over my body. I ate a pepper as a snack!

I went for a run after work so I had a quick Lara Bar before my run and snacked on a few celery and carrot sticks afterwards to hold me over until dinner. Dinner was worth the wait! We ate some of the beef roast and roasted sweet potatoes that I cooked on Sunday. We topped the meat with salsa verde and Kevin made some garlicky asparagus and leeks on the side. I was still stuffed when we went to bed.


I have been doing this Whole30 thing for almost a week and the biggest thing I have noticed is that I don't seem to have any digestion problems at all. I never get that too-full feeling or get a belly ache after a meal. Not a huge surprise since I have pretty much removed anything that isn't natural or very minimally processed from my diet.

If you have ever done a Whole30, what was the biggest difference you noticed?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Whole30 Day 5 and Okra Beef Stew Recipe

I was a bad blogger today. I promised to document my Whole30 and I forgot to take any pictures until dinner. I ate plenty, though, so I will just describe it to you!

Our day started with our final Elements class at Clark Floyd CrossFit. I ate a small bowl of blueberries, cantaloupe and coconut milk before our workout. I haven't talked too much about my introduction to CrossFit yet, but I hope to start posting about it more often. We had a pretty tough workout so I snacked on a banana with almond butter right after we left. Breakfast #2 was leftover Zesty Italian Brunch Bake from yesterday. I am really trying to cook more recipes that will leave leftovers because I love waking up and knowing breakfast is already good to go.


Lunch was at my desk and consisted of leftover chicken stir fry from yesterday and a small side salad. As per usual, I just mixed it all together and made one giant salad.

My afternoon snack was snap peas, salsa and a few slices of Applegate Farms turkey. I feel like I don't even know who this girl is that eats vegetables as a snack, but I like her!

For dinner we finished off the Okra Beef Stew from Sunday (see below for recipe). I made a side salad of romaine, cucumber, onion, almonds, olives and cantaloupe. We were lucky to have dinner already prepared because we had to rush right back out the door for volleyball.

After the game, we settled in to watch True Blood! True Blood is my favorite show, equally as favored as Mad Men. Those are the only two shows that I just hate to miss (except for CBS Sunday Morning, of course). Oh, a recent new addition is Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition! Have you seen it? I am obsessed with it. I really like, Chris, the trainer and I like the format of the show. Some of these people drop half their body weight in a year, but I feel like they do it in a healthy way. I never liked The Biggest Loser because I felt like they weren't setting the contestants up with the proper tools to continue their healthy lifestyles at home. But on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition the contestants spend the majority of the year in their own homes, they still go to work and they have to find a way to make healthy eating and fitness work in their everyday lives.

That was a bit of a departure, what I really meant to say was that I had a small bowl of chopped apples, cashews, chopped figs and coconut milk while I watched True Blood. The end.


Okra Beef Stew
Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups chopped okra
1 lb beef stew meat, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce (any kind you have on hand)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped


Directions
Add all ingredients other than sun dried tomatoes to a crock pot. Stir well.
Cook on low heat for 7 hours.
Divide stew between bowls and top each with sun dried tomatoes.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Pumpkin Blueberry Protein Smoothie and Whole30 Day 4

Sundays are my usually my biggest training days because I have the most free time. I had a five mile run planned for the morning and I like to get up really early and get it out of the way before it gets too hot and before CBS Sunday Morning starts because I am a 31 year old nerd and it is my favorite show. I had a few pieces of cantaloupe before my run and then I was on my way.

Maybe I am the only one who does this, but does anyone else listen to podcasts when they run instead of music? My favorites are Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, The Moth, Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution and the Jillian Michaels Show. It just keeps me more entertained than music and I usually learn something, too. Is that weird?

Anyway, I was very smart and put breakfast in the oven before I left for my run. I made my Zesty Italian Brunch Bake and Kevin took over after I left for my run. It was nice to come home to a hot and ready meal! I also made a new smoothie recipe that I am going to share with you today! It is a Pumpkin Blueberry Protein Smoothie and it was a great, Whole30 approved, post-workout treat.


After we watched Sunday Morning and let our breakfast settle, we headed over to the pool to get our swim on. We took the Flip camera and videotaped ourselves swimming. I never knew what a horrible swimmer I was until yesterday - it was great for my self esteem! Kidding, it was good to see what I need to work on.

We stopped for coffee after our swim and after running a few other errands it was 2:00 and we still hadn't eaten lunch. Because I am finally getting more organized with my meal planning I knew exactly what I wanted to make and there was no "What are we going to have for lunch?" confusion. I made a stir fry with chicken, green chili paste, carrots and a frozen veggie mix from Trader Joe's. It was good and because I planned ahead I made enough to take leftovers to work on Monday.

I mostly took this picture to show off our Corny the Cornflakes mascot bowl!

When my snack attack hit later in the afternoon, I had a spoonful of almond butter and a banana. Maybe someday I should try and break my almond butter addiction, but I am just not ready for that yet. Have you had the Sea Salt and Flax Seed Almond Butter from Trader Joe's? Heaven in a jar. Seriously.

I spent the rest of the afternoon prepping meals for the coming week. I am pretty excited about my meal planning system and once I get it all worked out I plan to share it and hopefully it can help you, too. I don't always like having to know ahead of time what I am going to make, sometimes I like to be spontaneous, but we have pretty busy schedules so it really does make things easier. I baked sweet potatoes, made a beef roast, shredded sweet potatoes and zucchini for breakfasts and made an okra stew in the crockpot that I hope to share the recipe for tomorrow.

The okra stew was ready just in time for dinner so I served that up with half a sweet potato on the side. I topped the stew and the sweet potato with a bit of salsa. It was very filling, which is just what I need on my long workout days to keep me from getting hangry.


We watched a documentary about a mountain bike race on the Pacific Crest Trail after dinner and I made a little snack bowl with chopped apple, chopped dried figs, cashews and coconut milk. I heated the apple in the microwave for about a minute and then added in the other ingredients and heated for another 30 seconds. It was warm and cozy and delicious. I also made a cup of mint tea with mint from our garden. It wasn't the same as my Sunday evening glass of wine, but it was pretty tasty.

Back to the smoothie - I thought pumpkin and blueberry sounded like an odd combination, but I've seen pumpkin muffins or bread with blueberries so I decided to give it a shot. The protein comes from powdered egg whites, which can be omitted if you don't have them around. This was a good way to cool down and get some carbs and protein post-workout. What is your favorite post-workout meal?


Pumpkin Blueberry Protein Smoothie
Serves: 2
Time: 5 minutes


Ingredients
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup loosely packed spinach
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions
-Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
-Sip and enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Salsa Verde Sweet Potato Hash and Whole30 Day 3

My third day of the Whole30 started with a small bowl of bluberries in coconut milk, topped with shredded coconut. I was headed out for an early workout and wanted to eat a small meal beforehand.


When I got home, I made a breakfast that we make pretty often around here, Salsa Verde Sweet Potato Hash. We have a thriving zucchini plant in the backyard and always stay fully stocked on sweet potatoes and this is a fairly quickly way to enjoy them together. The recipe is at the end of this post so that you can enjoy it, too! I had my daily caffeine fix on the side.

When lunchtime rolled around, there was no ready-to-eat meat in the house other than a half chicken from the roasted chicken we made the other night from this recipe. I normally prefer Kevin takes the chicken apart until it no longer resembles a cute little chicken and I don't feel so bad about eating it. I have always struggled with eating anything that still looks like the animal it once was. Kevin was nowhere to be found, though, and I was STARVING so I took out the chicken, CUT THROUGH THE BONE, and pulled the breast meat away from the poor little guy. I must have been hungry.


I added the shredded chicken to a salad with chopped romaine, cucumber, carrots and salsa. After lunch, I was in a hurry to get out of the house because I was volunteering at an event for Girls on the Run so I ate an apple with almond butter in the car to hold me over. I am in no way condoning eating while driving. Especially dipping things into almond butter while driving. It can be very dangerous. Do not try it at home, I am a trained professional.

The Girls on the Run event was a lot of fun. We had a booth at a local health fair and we were running a hula hoop contest. I expected the girls and boys who entered would be able to hula hoop for a few minutes, maybe 10 minutes if they were really good. The girl who was winning as of the time I left hooped for 1 hour and 12 minutes! We were all cheering her on and had a great time getting other kids to come up and give it a try.

After the health fair, it was time for my monthly book club meeting. We always bring different food with us depending on the theme of the book, but since I was in a hurry I took the easy way out and stopped at the grocery on the way there. I brought snap peas, carrots and celery with an avocado salsa verde for dipping. Unfortunately it was the only thing there that I could eat other than some yummy little blueberries so I scooped up a healthy portion of veggies and dip.

My Mom invited us over for dinner and made her now famous Cumin Spiced Tilapia (if being featured on this blog makes you famous...which it doesn't), roasted sweet potatoes and salad. The meal was excellent and we all had a good time catching up. Kevin and I made our weekly Trader Joe's run on the way home and I was still feeling a bit hungry so I snacked on a Lara Bar on the way home. I don't know how people feel about Lara Bars on the Whole30, but I am fine with them in a pinch or during long bike rides. They are dense and portable and during a long workout it is still the most efficient way I know of to get in some quick calories.


What are your thoughts on Lara Bars during Whole30? I know it is only dates and nuts and other fruit flavorings, but is it Paleo-fying a treat? Is it too much sugar?

I know one meal that is definitely Whole30 approved - this Salsa Verde Sweet Potato Hash!



Salsa Verde Sweet Potato Hash
Servings - 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes
Total Time - 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 slices bacon
1/2 red onion, diced
1 sweet potato, shredded
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cabbage
4 eggs, beaten

Directions

-Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp, flipping often, about 5 minutes
-Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel covered plate
-Add onions to pan and cook in bacon fat until translucent, about 3 minutes
-Add shredded sweet potato, zucchini and salsa verde to pan and sprinkle in cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes
-Add shredded cabbage and cook for an additional 2 minutes, until cabbage has softened
-Divide hash evenly between four plates
-Spray the same skillet (or a separate one) with cooking spray
-Add eggs and cook until scrambled
-Top each plate with some of the scrambled egg and a slice of bacon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Whole30 Day 2

I can do anything for two days. This way of eating really isn't that different from how I have been eating since starting Paleo. The biggest difference for me is my snacking. It is easy for me to do a lot of mindless snacking between work and dinner and after dinner when I am reading or relaxing with Kevin. Being on this Whole30 forces me to be even more mindful of the food I eat than I already was and I think that will be a good thing for me.

Day two started out with a HUGE Blueberry Pumpkin Protein Smoothie, recipe to come soon. I needed some hefty fuel for our bike ride to work. Of course, we walked to the coffee shop for my morning Iced Americano fix and then I headed to work.

Lunch was leftover from last night's dinner (chicken, tomatillo sauce and roasted sweet potatoes), but for lunch I served it over a bed of lettuce to stretch the leftovers out a little bit more.


Of course I had to have my snack, which was carrots and almond butter. Sounds like a weird combo, but it is oddly tasty.


We rode our bikes home without being pelted by rain and showered up for a little date night. We started at Feast, a new barbecue restaurant near our house. I am not embarrassed to say I ordered the Teddy Roosevelt, which includes two meats, two sides and slaw. I had brisket and chicken and ordered two side salads as my sides. Everything was delivered to my table in about four different containers and I proceeded to dump everything out onto my plate and made one giant salad. Oh, and they have vinegar slaw, which is awesome, because I love slaw. I cleaned my plate/giant tray of salad without any problem.


Our next stop for date night was the new Batman movie. I usually treat myself to something special for movie nights - dark chocolate covered almonds or Trader Joe's popcorn with salt and olive oil. But those are both no-no's right now so I went for dried apricots and almonds. I probably could have survived without a treat, but I like my snacks. The movie wasn't too bad, either. :)

Whole30 Day 1

So I didn't start out documenting my Whole30 so well, mostly because I just jumped right into it without preparing much. After I do some meal planning and shopping over the weekend, I should be a little better organized for documenting my journey. But, hey, we all have to start somewhere...

My first morning on the Whole30 started with a yummy scramble made with tomatoes, onion, spinach and basil. The basil was from our own garden so that was fun. Kevin and I rode our bikes to work so, honestly, I was hungry again by the time we got to work. We walked to the coffee shop for Iced Americanos (my favorite!) and I grabbed a banana to hold me over until lunch.

Lunch was a mix of random leftovers from the past couple days. I had a salad with blackberries and cucumber with oil and vinegar dressing, and a bowl of sautéed zucchini, onion and sun dried tomatoes that I mixed with a packet of tuna for some extra protein. It was a huge lunch, but I stay hungry all day when we ride our bikes to work so I was fine with that. :)


I am a big snacker. I know a lot of people start eating Paleo and say they don't need to eat between meals and can go hours without eating, but I was born and bred to take a snack with me if I was going to be away from home for more than an hour (thanks, Mom)! I was pretty pumped for this snack and it was super simple.


An apple, chopped and microwaved for one minute. Stir in crushed beef jerky and cashews. Ta da! That is it - a sweet and salty protein-filled snack! Can you tell I eat at my desk a lot?

We got caught in a thunderstorm on the way home so I only rode my bike a little ways and we had to wait it out under the awning of some random building. Once it let up a bit, Kevin rode the rest of the way home and got the car to bring me home. My hero! So that gave us a super late start on dinner, unfortunately, but we had planned to do a tomatillo sauce and roasted sweet potatoes with chicken legs from a whole chicken we had roasted earlier in the week. We didn't eat dinner until about 9:30 and I was starving by the time we ate, but it was delicious. I think we will be making the sauce again this week so I can post the recipe.

All in all, Day 1 wasn't that much different than a normal day of eating for me, but I was more mindful of what I was eating and didn't reach for a square of dark chocolate or an after dinner snack just because I was craving something sweet. I ate when I was hungry and ate until I was full.

I have also decided to write a Whole30 haiku for everyday of my Whole30. I'll post them up on my Facebook wall! Please don't ask me where these ideas come from. There are some scary recesses of my brain that you just do not want to visit.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cumin Spiced Tilapia and Hello Whole 30!

Yesterday started out like any other day, but it ended with my commitment to eat a super strict Paleo diet for 30 days. How did this happen, you ask? I'm really not sure, myself. :)

If you aren't familiar with Whole30, according to the website, it is a "short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food." You can learn more about which foods to eat and which are off limits here. I have read about the Whole30 before and followed Cassie at Chow Bella recently as she completed her first Whole30. I was intrigued, but felt like I am active enough and eat well enough most of the time that some treats here and there weren't really hurting me.

But for some reason last night I began to look at it differently. Kevin and I have been doing this Paleo thing for about a year now. When I think back on how much better I look, feel and perform I really can't believe how much difference a year can make. If I can feel that much better by eliminating most grains, dairy and legumes from my diet, I started to wonder how good I could feel if I took it to the next level. No sweeteners, nothing I can't pronounce and maybe a little less almond butter. :) What could it hurt? Absolutely nothing!

I didn't even give myself one last day of treats and sweets to get used to the idea. I went to bed last night with the intention of starting my Whole30 this morning. And I'm not alone! Kevin is going to join me, as well as Brent and Heather from Virginia is for Hunter Gatherers and Brittanie from Three Diets. One Dinner!

I am already wondering if, after 30 days, this will just be my new way of eating. It will all depend on how I feel. I didn't weight myself or take all of my measurements before starting so I can compare them with my measurements when I finish. That isn't why I am doing this. I am pretty happy with the way I look, I am more concerned about how I feel. I am really excited to see what comes out of all this.

On that note, the blog will most likely become a little more Whole30 focused for the next month. I hope to put together some grocery lists and meal planning tips to share with you, as well as some new recipes. Speaking of recipes, Momma What I Gather (ummm, my Mom) came up with this awesome pan cooked tilapia recipe and loves me so much she cooked it for us this week! We try to get together at least once a week for dinner.

Since my Mom is so nice (must run in the family) she shared the recipe with me so I could share it with you. She seasoned the tilapia with cumin and lemon juice and then topped it with chopped cabbage and red bell peppers. It tasted great-very fresh and light!

Have you ever completed a Whole30? How did you feel?



Cumin Spiced Tilapia
Serves - 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 15 minutes
Total Time - 25 minutes

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tilapia filets
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp cumin
Juice of one lemon
8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 red bell pepper, diced


Directions
-Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.

-Sprinkle both sides of fish fillets with salt, black pepper and cumin. Squeeze lemon juice over filets.

-When skillet is hot, add tilapia filets and mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Fish is cooked through when it flakes easily with a fork.

-Place tilapia filets and mushrooms on a plate. Top with shredded cabbage and red bell peppers.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cedar Plank Salmon with Honey Glazed Peaches

I am embarrassed to admit that, even at 31 years old, I don't know how to turn on our grill, much less cook on it. I prefer to leave the grilling to Mr. What I Gather (AKA "The Grill Master"), but I really wanted to learn how to work that thing. You never know when you might get caught in a grill emergency! So on Friday evening we spent some quality time together on the back deck, and by the time it was all said and done I had gotten a full lesson on the art of grilling!







He didn't take it easy on me, either - for my first lesson we cooked salmon and peaches on cedar planks. I've been bugging Mr. What I Gather to share one of his grill recipes on the blog for a long time so I followed him around the kitchen with a notebook and tried to keep up with him as he sprinkled a bit of this and drizzled a little of that. What resulted were spicy, citrus-laced salmon filets and honey-sweet peaches. I went back to more familiar territory (the kitchen) and cooked up some green beans and swiss chard pesto to round out the meal.

Did it take you a long time to master the art of grilling? What are your favorite grilled meals?

Cedar Plank Salmon with Honey Glazed Peaches
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 35 minutes

Ingredients

2 Cedar Grill Planks (We used these)
1.5 lb of salmon filets (about 4 filets), skin on
1 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp honey, divided
Juice of 1 lime, divided
Dash of salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 peaches

Directions

-Soak planks under water for one hour. While planks are soaking, prepare your salmon and peaches and preheat the grill.

-Place salmon on a plate, skin side down. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tsp of the honey and juice from 1/2 of the lime. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. Rub the citrus and spice mixture into the salmon. Set aside.

-Cut peaches in half and remove the pits. Place on a plate cut side up. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and remaining 1 teaspoon of honey.

-Preheat grill to 350 F. Add soaked planks to grill rack. Cover and heat for three minutes.

-Flip planks over. Place salmon, skin side down, on one plank and peaches, cut side down, on the other. Close grill lid and cook for 15 minutes.

-Open grill and squeeze remaining  lime juice onto salmon. Close grill lid and continue to cook until salmon is cooked through. Salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center. Timing will depend on the thickness of your salmon filets, but we cooked ours for about 30 minutes total.


I will leave you with this photo of our Aussie/Border Collie mix, Foster. This is what he does if we go outside to play without him. He looks so sad.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blueberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

We have been coming home from the farmers market with a big basket of blueberries for the past few weeks now. We both love blueberries, but I was ready to see what I could do with them other than mixing them into a smoothie or topping off a bowl of Paleo Cereal. I was inspired by a post on the Whole Foods blog that highlighted recipes for cooking with berries and decided to try a chicken salad with caramelized blueberries and onions. I eat a lot of salads because I quite enjoy eating and by including nutritious, but low calorie vegetables in my diet I can put down some fairly sizable meals and that makes my belly happy.

I do have a good reason for being so hungry lately - I am training for my first triathlon! It is still a few months away, but I am already working out twice a day most days. I might swim or run in the morning and then ride my bike or lift weights in the afternoon. Luckily I have my very own Ironman to show me the ropes! I couldn't even swim a full lap in the pool when this all started a few weeks ago, but my husband has been a great coach and now I can swim five full laps without taking a break. I'll have to swim about 10 laps in the race, but I think it is a good start for someone who, until recently, didn't use the pool for much more than laying out in the sun.

Anyway, back to this salad. :) We made this for dinner and found that it was more than enough to make a full meal on its own, but it would also be great with some sweet potatoes or asparagus on the side. Bon appetit!


Blueberry Balsamic Chicken Salad

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes


Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tsp and 1 tbsp of olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp chopped thyme (fresh is best, but dried will work)

1 medium cucumber, diced

6 cups arugula


Directions

-Preheat oven to 375 F.

-Brush chicken breasts on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake on a baking sheet for 35 to 40 minutes, until no longer pink in the center.

-While chicken is baking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat

-Add onion, saute until translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often so it does not burn.

-Reduce heat to medium/low. Add blueberries, vinegar, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper to pan and stir well to blend. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occassionally. Blueberries will break down and create a thick sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

-Remove chicken from oven and let cool slightly. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, shred and mix with caramelized onions and blueberries.

-Divide arugula evenly between four bowls or plates. Top with chicken mixture and diced cucumbers. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top of each salad and finish with a spinkle of pepper. Can be served warm or cold.