quick and easy meals

Detox Day 4

It’s a good thing that my blogging voice has nothing to with my actual voice. Because I hardly have one. It has been a long few weeks of sickness. And to top that off, I know have a complication with a 3 year old root canal. There’s an infection in my gum line because either my root canal is fractured or there’s decaying roots in my gums. I’m an utter mess from my top lip to my collar bone. Fortunately, all of these weird issues have made it pretty easy to stick with my detox diet. The first three days were easy, I ate lots of smoothies, salads, Larabars, and potatoes with beans (It was the easiest thing to make that felt good on my throat). I even came up with a healthy and filling baked apple dessert. Today, however, has been more of a struggle. I had another pb&j smoothie for breakfast, a Larabar as a snack, and then a simple veggie chili for an early dinner/late lunch.

Simple Veggie Chili with Avocado

Simple Veggie Chili with Avocado

It was pretty good for being so simple. (Sorry for another terrible pic, it bubbled up in the microwave and I didn’t feel like dirtying an extra bowl just to get a better looking picture.) I mixed salsa, veggie broth, and great northern beans with some cumin, paprika, and chili powder. After a couple minutes in the microwave, I topped it with about 1/3 or an avocado, sliced. Sadly, it just didn’t hit the spot. Now here I am, sitting on the couch snacking on potato chips (just potatoes and oil!). I know it’s time to add in some more nutrients. I need some meat. And I need my carbs back! Surprisingly, I don’t miss dairy too much.  I’m going to add back in a little bit of dairy. I’m going to finish out today strong, and then tomorrow I’m going to add a few servings of meat, dairy, and grain back each day.

I feel a little bad that I couldn’t keep this up for a full 7 days, but I was only planning on 3 and I’ve done 4! My cravings for sugar have pretty much gone away, my skinny jeans fit again, and I’ve lost almost 5 pounds! I’d call that a success. Just 3 more days of really healthy, balanced eating, and I think I’ll be totally back on track!

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Detox Day 2 + Dessert!

Things are getting interesting. I’m feeling a lot better than I was yesterday, so that’s a plus. I got about 10 hours of sleep last night which helps! I’m still not feeling quite well enough to workout though. I’m hoping tomorrow evening I’ll be up for a run. Unfortunately, I am fiercely craving chocolate today and I’m well enough to get off the couch and get it. I won’t, but feeling better makes it easier to think about. This detox diet I’m sticking to has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Beside the chocolate cravings, I’ve felt very satisfied and enjoyed what I’ve eaten. Today, I had almost the same foods that I had yesterday:

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Wow, weird lighting thing going on… Sorry about that. You get the gist.

Salad, peppers and hummus, a Larabar, and almonds to bring to work. And I made another smoothie this morning. This one was a green peach smoothie with ground up cashews, Bolthouse Farms’ Green Goodness juice, a frozen banana, and frozen peaches. I ended up putting in too many peaches and had to add more juice so it was a 20 oz smoothie instead of a 16oz. I ended up being so full from my late breakfast that I never ate the pepper and hummus, almonds, or Larabar I packed! Dinner was another baked red potato with refried beans, cumin, and guac. It was so good last night  I had to have it again!

Since I skipped my snacks and had an early dinner, I made myself a good, filling dessert. Yes, I had dessert during my detox! I found this recipe online and modified it to work within my diet. Here’s my modified recipe:

Baked Apple Detox Dessert

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 small apples, sliced (I used Fuji)
1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
1 tbsp real vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used a combination of peanuts, walnuts, and cashews)

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1. Melt coconut oil in medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Add apples and stir to coat apples in oil.
2. Add apple sauce, vanilla, and cinnamon and mix together. 
3. Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes or until apples are soft.
4. Remove from heat and mix in nuts. 

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This made 2 servings (275 calories each in case you’re counting). I had initially thought I’d want to eat the whole pot when I saw how small my serving would be, but I was stuffed after eating just half of this recipe. I’m learning that I eat a whole lot less when I’m not consuming empty calories!

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Like I said before, this detox thing really isn’t so bad. I’ve had to be a little creative, but everything I’m eating tastes so good. There are a lot of things I was planning to make and still haven’t (like veggie chilli and southwest stir fry). I might actually keep this going all week! We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

Simple, Balanced, and Delicious

Since I’ve gone to part time and my whole meal planning routine has gone out the window, I’ve been working on easing into a new system that will work for us. I used to plan breakfast for my husband, breakfast for me, and 3 dinners that I’d double so I could have the leftovers for lunch. Everything but my husbands sandwich and snack stuff would get prepacked into tuppeerware containers in the fridge at the beginning of the week. I’d spend about 4-5 hours one night (Sunday or Monday) and make everything all at once with my husband’s help. It was seriously efficient, rigidly structured, and a huge time saver throughout the rest of the week.

Post-cooking frenzy fridge.

Post-cooking frenzy fridge.

I thought that when I went to part time, I’d figured I’d be so excited to have more time to make these meals. I wouldn’t be up doing dishes at midnight on a Sunday night after making 4 meals. I’d be able to make even better food cause I’d be able to try out new recipes and make more from scratch. Now that I’m actually working part time, I’m enjoying a slower pace of life. I don’t want to stress myself out cooking extravagant meals. I don’t want to spend my mornings washing dishes. I’d rather be reading a book, writing a blog post, working out, spending time with family. So I’ve adopted a new mantra when it comes to my eating/cooking/dieting:

Simple, Balanced, and Delicious

There are tons of benefits to eating this way.

  • It’s cheaper! Eating simply made meals require far less ingredients. For example, this past week I made a turkey breast in the Crockpot with roasted red potatoes and a side salad. Total number of ingredients – 9 (plus seasonings). Total cost = about $12 (for six meals!) I’ve been spending about $65 a week on groceries at Aldi instead of my normal $85-100 at Meijer. And we have plenty of food stocked up. In a couple weeks, we’ll probably just need to buy some cereal and milk and lunch meat. We could probably cut our grocery budget by 30%!
  • Less clean up! By having cereal, milk, and a banana for breakfast I only have one bowl and one spoon to wash. When we’d make more complicated breakfasts, there’d be extra pans, knifes and cutting boards, skillets, pans and even appliances to clean up. An easy egg bake which we probably would make every other week would require me to wash a knife, a cutting board, a skillet, a casserole dish, and then a plate and fork for each serving.  That’s a whole lot more than a daily bowl and spoon!
  • It satisfies cravings! Back when I would meal plan for an entire week, I’d have three options for all of my lunches and dinners all week. If I got sick of a meal, I’d have to eat it anyway. If something didn’t taste as great as I’d hoped, I’d choke it down. Now, if I want Italian (like I did last night), I throw some turkey sausages in the Crockpot with sliced peppers and marinara, along with a small scoop of whole wheat pasta, dinner’s made, craving’s satisfied, and I’m less likely to binge later.
  • It’s fresher! Almost all food will last in the fridge for a week, easily, cooked or uncooked. Not that our tupperware food ever tasted bad because it sat in the fridge for a few days, but fruits and veggies have a much better texture when you eat them right after they’ve been cooked or chopped. This week, we made tacos and I threw together a zucchini/corn saute to top them with. There’s no way the soft and crunchy texture would have been the same after sitting in it’s own juices in a tupperware for 4 days. Edible, yes, delicious, not really.
  • It saves time! Meal planning, grocery shopping, and managing the food in the cabinets/fridge (putting groceries away, clearing out stuff that had gone bad in the fridge, etc.) used to take me 3-4 hours a week. And that wasn’t even cooking anything or cleaning up! Now, I grab a quarter and my reusable grocery bags, shop without a list (the horror!) at Aldi, take a few minutes to clear out the old stuff from the fridge, put the groceries away, and I’m done for the week. It takes me at most and hour and a half. Even if I need to stop at another store for a few things, it takes me maybe another 45 minutes. Still way less time than it used to take me.
  • Less Waste! Since there’s no meal plan, I use what I have. When I grocery shop, I just get the basics. No fussy ingredients. I’ve found that everything fresh gets used up quicker and we throw out a lot less!

Sure, there are a few downsides to eating this way too:

  • Tracking calories may be harder. I haven’t been tracking my calories lately, just watching my portions. But if/when I do start to track them, I won’t just be measuring and weighing out 3 meals a week, it’ll be potentially 4-5 dinners a week plus breakfast and lunch. I’m hoping to lose a little more weight before I begin training for my marathon which will mean some serious calorie counting for a few weeks. Things could get a little dicey.
  • Forgetting to plan ahead. Sometimes my husband works a day shift at one job and then an evening shift at another. If I’m not careful, he won’t be home for dinner and there won’t be any leftovers for him to take to work for dinner. Not a huge deal breaker, but something I need to work on for his sake.
  • More processed food. I was on track to eating almost exclusively all non-processed food. I still stick with foods that have fewer ingredients, but I am buying more premade foods. Mostly sauces, pastas, and some snack foods. I’m always careful to watch for high sodium and added sugars.

All in all, the pros outweigh the cons. And it fits for my current lifestyle. I imagine this is actually how most people “meal plan” and eat. What about you? Are you more of a strict planner/shopper/cooker? Or a fly by the seat of your pants/shop without a list/eat what you crave in moderation kind of person? How does it work for you? Anything you’d like to do differently?

A Good Start

Someone needs to go back to Kindergarten for calendar time… Yesterday I announced that in exactly 7 months I’d be running my first full marathon. In exactly 7 months, I’ll actually be at my sister’s wedding. Whoops! Equally as exciting, but not the same thing. The 2014 Chicago Marathon is actually on October 12, making it less than 7 months away! Okay, that’s still a ways away, but I’m sure time will fly (whether I’m having fun or not).

Today I felt pretty motivated about my workout. I had a great day at work and when I got out, it was a lot warmer out than I expected it be. I hadn’t really planned any workout per se, I just wanted to do something. There’s no avoiding it now, I’ve gotta stay in shape! I decided to keep it simple and go for a run in the ‘hood. (AKA South Hammond). You can imagine my excitement when I realized that there was no more snow on the sidewalks! I took off fast and kept on going. If weren’t for a midrun phone call, my pace would have been just over 9 minutes per mile. I ran 3.15 miles total in 30 minutes on the dot. Not too shabby! Especially since I was once again experiencing asthma-like symptoms.

This afternoon, I wanted to experiment a bit to see when I start having symptoms and if anything lessens them. I’m going to try tracking this for a few weeks before going to a doctor because I’d rather not be on meds or have to use an inhaler. I’m also planning on doing some research on breathing and lung expanding exercises. With the popularity of natural medicine, there’s got to be something I can do without meds right?

Back to my workout, after my run I popped in a Pilates DVD I’ve had forever and did the 10 minute arm toning portion. Big problem. I’m totally inflexible and I my hand weights aren’t heavy enough anymore. So I guess that’s one little problem, and one good problem. I didn’t feel like it was that great of an arm workout, so I’ll be scouring Pinterest soon to find some 10-20 minute weight sessions. And I’ll be investing in some 5 lb hand weights.

My eating has been sort of okay lately. I haven’t been worrying about calories too much, just really watching my portions. I still have a major sweet tooth I need to deal with. But with training for a new job and an extra little side project in the works, I don’t really have the mental strength to focus on my sugar intake. I’ll get back there eventually.  Yesterday, I made a turkey breast in the Crockpot, roasted red potatoes, and a side salad for dinner. I even made my own dressing. It was delicious! Tonight’s dinner was “tacos”. I feel like tacos aren’t really tacos when you add beans and veggies to them, but my Mexican husband assures me that they can still be considered tacos. So we used flour tortillas, and added refried beans, taco meat (with my own seasonings instead of the packet), sauteed zucchini and corn, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), and medium taco sauce. I had two. Since I only had a bowl of cereal with almond milk for breakfast, and a banana with a blueberry muffin Larabar for lunch, I think my dinner was just right.

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I realize this may look fairly unappetizing, but I promise, it was fantastic!

All in all, a good start to the week! What meals do you have planned this week? Any suggestions for my asthma symptoms?