Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No Sugar November - 30 Day No Sugar Added Challenge!

Hi guys!

I've decided to challenge myself to a no sugar meal plan for the next 30 days.

Why?? you may ask.  I'll tell you.

 I'm 37 weeks pregnant now, and have been highly indulgent throughout the last nine and a half months.  For those of you who know me, this is definitely not my eating style.  I want to prepare my body for returning to a healthy lifestyle asap.

I was watching In Defense of Food on Netflix yesterday and it gave me the perfect idea - why not challenge myself to eating foods with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners for the next 30 days?  It's a short amount of time to commit to, and I figured it would help remind me how much added sugar is in all of the packaged and processed foods that we turn to on a daily basis to make our lives easier.  In reality, those "convenience" foods are making our lives a lot more difficult by contributing to a wide array of health issues that are unnecessary - sounds pretty inconvenient to me.

Ok so where do I start?  I didn't exactly leave myself a whole lot of time for planning since I only made this decision yesterday, on Halloween, a night filled with sugar!  I quickly did some research online and found a great website to help with some meal and snack ideas.  I was feeling pretty pumped, and ready to go.

I woke up this morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and all things considered, I'd say today was a success!

Here is what I ate:

Breakfast - overnight oats
I took 6 mason jars (for the hubby as well) and filled each of them with 1/4c steel cut oats, 1/3c plain greek yogurt, 1/3c almond milk, 1T chia seeds, 1/4 chopped apple, raisins, and a pinch of cinnamon.  I mixed them up and put them in the fridge.  The hubby can add agave to sweeten his, but these are perfect as is for my breakfasts for the rest of the week.

Lunch - homemade turkey soup
I have a large amount of portioned soup in the freezer - I don't have a recipe for you but it's a veggie packed soup with some turkey added.  Delicious.

Dinner - Mazithra
This is a meal I grew up on, and my Dad made up the name because of the cheese used. It's a super easy pasta that uses noodles (I used Catelli protein spaghetti), canned diced tomatoes, margarine, and a healthy dose of salted Ricotta (or Mazithra) - so easy and so good

For snacks I had an Eat Nak'd bar, some raw almonds & cashews, and a nutrient dense smoothie (consisting of kale, zucchini, dates, almond milk, almond butter, kefir, grapes, a banana, half an avocado and a pinch of cinnamon)

For "dessert" after dinner I had a tangerine because I wanted something sweet.

So here I am now at the end of day one, still feeling good. I'll post every few days with updates, what I ate, and how I'm feeling.  I'm looking forward to this, and knowing it's temporary really helps me stay motivated. 

I enjoy challenging myself for short periods of time, just to test my will, and to push my body.  I can't do anything extreme while pregnant so this seemed like a great, clean option.

Feel free to join me, watch the documentary, or at the very least start reading your labels - you'll be shocked to see how much added sugar you are actually consuming! 

I'll leave you with a few shocking sugar facts:

  • 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon
  • 1 serving of low fat yogurt has 47 grams of sugar - that's 12 teaspoons people!!
  • most large flavored coffees available at your local coffee shop contain about 25 teaspoons of sugar!!
I 'll give you more facts in my next post...that's enough for you to digest for now (pun intended!)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Magic Bars

Guys, if you're looking for a sweet fix, something easy and no fuss, you're going to love this.  No measuring, no mixing, and no dishes to clean up afterward.  This is by far the easiest, most forgiving dessert "recipe" out there; trust me.

All you need are graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, butter & shredded coconut - the rest of the add-ins are up to you!

Preheat your oven to 350.  Pour some melted butter into your baking pan (mine was 13x9 so I used about half a cup - adjust the quantity based on the size of pan you are using).  Pour in your graham cracker crumbs, enough to soak up the butter.  Sprinkle the crust with chocolate chips, and whatever else you want - I did mini m&m's, mini reese's pieces, and mini peanut butter chips.  You can add nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, candies, whatever you want.  Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk over top, then evenly cover with shredded coconut.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let them cool about half an hour before you cut them.

That's it!  I made these yesterday, and there are only a couple left.  They are so addictive, and so bad for you, but my gawd are they ever good!!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Spinach & Artichoke Quinoa Bake - and Updates!

Well hello!  Long time no see!
It's been a while since I've posted, and a lot has happened.  I'll fill you in quickly.

To start, I'm just over six months pregnant.  So that happened.  We are super excited about this new bundle of joy, and are looking forward to what the future holds.

Oh, and I'm a vegetarian.  For the time being.  I went and watched What The Health on Netflix and boy did that do a number on me.  It changed my family's eating habits as well - they're still eating meat, but milk?  Not so much.  Watch the documentary, you'll understand.

Anyways I'm hoping the vegetarian thing doesn't stick permanently.  I'd like to get to a place where I am informed about what I am putting into my body, and that includes meat - where the animal was raised, how it was raised, and where it met it's demise.  I'm not there yet, in fact I'm quite enjoying the many vegetarian options, but all in due time.

I made this recipe the other day, and it was delicious.

I changed a couple of things - I used 120g of Edam and 120g of smoked Gouda as my cheese.  And instead of cream cheese I used Sheese Herb & Garlic which is a non-dairy cream cheese-like spread. Other than that I pretty much followed the recipe to a T and it was great!!

Stay tuned for more vegan and vegetarian recipes...and hopefully some carnivorous ones in the near future.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a pair of shoes that our teenage daughter picked out for the baby today.  So cute...

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Middle-Eastern Feast - Ground Beef with Hummus, Tabbouleh Salad, and Pita

I love Middle Eastern food - the spices warm you up from inside out and this meal is a super quick one to pull together.

I know that most people use couscous for their Tabbouleh, but my new favorite grain is barley, so that;s what I used.  In particular, I prefer Snappy Grains as they have created the only quick-cooking barley on the market.

For the Tabbouleh recipe, check out their website here.  They have a ton of ways you can use this barley, and it's so good for you!!  Just a side note - I always add feta to mine, although in their recipe they say it's optional (but when is cheese ever optional??)

For the ground beef and hummus, I used a recipe I saw on You Gotta Eat Here (best show ever!!) - you can find it here - thanks Dr. Laffa!!

Toast up some pitas, and your meal is ready to go!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Balsamic Honey Chicken Legs With Parmesan Spaghetti Squash

Chicken legs are so quick and easy, and so versatile - they carry flavors well and really, anything goes.  I threw together these balsamic honey legs in a pinch, and added the perfect low carb side dish, spaghetti squash!

For the chicken legs, I seasoned them with seasoning salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes.  I also had my (whole) squash in there, after being in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it up a bit.  While those babies were cooking, I made the sauce for my chicken.  I brought 2 cups of chicken stock to a boil, and added 1/2 a cup each of balsamic vinegar and honey.  I let that simmer on low until the chicken was done, and the sauce had thickened.

Once the squash was done, I took it out of the oven, cut it in half, scraped the seeds out, and scraped the flesh into a hot pan.  I added shredded parmesan, and tossed everything together, then at the last minute I added some cherry tomatoes.  I added salt and pepper, and voila!

For the chicken, once taken out of the oven, pour the sauce over top and serve with the squash.  Easy, healthy and delicious!

Oh and there is also baked plantain in the pic - we had some leftovers from another dinner.  Send me a message if you'd like to know how to make them, but they are super simple and you can find many easy ways of preparing them online.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cheesy BBQ Meatballs With LOW CARB Spaghetti

So I'm completely obsessed with a new-to-me product called Nupasta.  If you haven't tried it, and are living a low-carb lifestyle, I suggest you get to a grocery store stat and pick some up.

Here's a little info on the product taken from their website:

What is Nupasta and how is it different from traditional pasta?
A full plate (210g) of regular cooked pasta contains about 300 calories and 2g of dietary fibre, the same amount of NuPasta contains 25 calories and 6g of dietary fibre.  NuPasta is also gluten free. Regular pasta is made with wheat, a starch that is high in calories.  NuPasta is made with the root of the konjac plant which is rich in dietary fibre and has no starch.  The absence of starch is the reeason why NuPasta is so low in calories.

If you like rice noodles, you'll love NuPasta, and I don't miss real pasta at all anymore!

Moving on, I was in the mood for some serious comfort food, and what's more comforting than spaghetti and meatballs?  I don't really like the traditional tomato sauce though, so I decided to change it up a bit and do more of a bbq sauce.  With cheese.  Lots of cheese.  Particularly this cheese....

Orkney Scottish cheddar is SO good.

I also didn't feel like seasoning my own meatballs, so thank goodness me and Mario are trusty pals...

I used the spicy mix.  This product is also gluten free (like the NuPasta) - and it's delicious!

So here's what I did - 

I mixed up some ground pork and big chunks of Orkney Cheddar with my Mario's Meatball Mix and formed the meat into balls. I reserved some extra meat for the sauce.  I baked them at 350 for 20 minutes,  While they were baking I made the sauce.  I sauteed some onions and peppers in canola oil, and then added the leftover meat.  Once that was cooked up nicely I added a can of tomato sauce and about 1/2 a cup of bbq sauce.  I let it simmer until the meatballs were done, then added the balls into the sauce and let that simmer for about 10 minutes.  I then rinsed my Nupasta off, warmed it up, and topped it with my meatballs and sauce. It was delicious, and was exactly what I was looking for.