21 Day Fix

What I Learned During the 21 Day Fix

I took the 21 Day Fix challenge. I fit in my 30 minute workout everyday and I stuck to the meal plan. (With the possible exception of day 20 in which I cannot confirm nor deny that I might have exceeded my “blue” container, a.k.a. healthy fats, in the form of cheese and a possible “unhealthy” white sauce that I did not mean to order on top of my vegetarian style eggs.) Was it fun? I had some creative menu planning moments, but no. Was it easy? There were without doubt better days than others, but no. Was it educational? Absolutely.

Here is a little about what I’ve learned…

  1. I eat too many carbs. Apparently if you have oatmeal for breakfast, you are not supposed to have a wheat pita at lunch if you are going to have rice for dinner. But that’s really the least of my concerns, because I like muffins and pastries. My daily intake of refined sugar (even in the form of organic cane sugar) and all purpose unbleached organic flour is just too high. I’ve got to face the facts.
  2. I don’t eat enough whole grains. Just because I have been buying whole grain organic bread for over a decade doesn’t mean I’m really eating whole grains. I have pasta, pita chip, cereal, cracker and tortilla opportunities just to name a few. Alas, what’s a girl to do?
  3. My portions are out of proportion. So this one is not a shocker. Yes, I have a tendency to get carried away at a breakfast buffet, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There is too much of a good thing, meaning you can even overdo it with healthy meals. For example, some salad dressings are caloric nightmares. It’s a work in progress.
  4. I don’t exercise enough. I can honestly say I feel like I’m on my feet all day. I do dishes, laundry, chase my one year old, make snacks and meals- clean them up, make beds… the list goes on. But getting your heart rate up and sweating for just 20-30 minutes is a different beast. Granted, I am not naturally prone to loving that, but I think know I need more of it.
  5. I need to drink more water. I don’t drink half of my body weight in ounces on a regular basis. (Because you are probably good at math, I won’t tell you what that is; let’s just say it’s over the standard 64 oz.) There are days I can reach that goal, but I really need to push myself. Thankfully this program has no restrictions on coffee, tea (unsweetened and without cream of course), and flavor infused waters- even carbonated. I’m actually fortunate that way, I am completely satisfied with just those options. If I could only drink more water…
  6. My attitude could use an adjustment. I was doing this to better myself, reset my habits so to speak. I started off with excitement and optimism. I made fun and healthy, (and delicious) snacks. I made some separate food for myself, but to be realistic I’d have to create dinners my family would eat also; which I really enjoyed. Knowing I was doing good for them too was heartwarming. I made it through my birthday, Mother’s Day, my brother-in-laws birthday, a weekend getaway- streaming my workouts mind you, a church pizza party… Yet, somewhere along the way I fell out of love. Around day 15-17, I got pretty grumpy. I started having thoughts like “A little pita with this hummus would be nice. I can’t help it if the restaurant doesn’t serve whole grain…” and “If I wanted to workout on vacation in ‘real life’, I would go to the hotel fitness facility, instead of exercising in the dark while my children are sleeping.” It turned into more of fulfilling my commitment than bliss.
  7. I am going to apply more of these principles into my life. I definitely need to incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet. I’ll be honest, if I eat oatmeal for breakfast and a wheat pita for lunch, I’m not going to worry about having a little rice for dinner- but I need to pay attention. I can’t have a daily intake of waffles for breakfast, french fries with lunch and pasta at dinnertime followed by dessert- on a regular basis without knowing it’s going to have an effect. The program suggests the 90/10 rule; if you follow the guidelines 90% of the time you can treat yourself 10% of the time. And I think until I reach my goals I’m going to try hard to follow that.
  8. It works. The results are in the “chia” pudding. I’ve lost over 5 pounds. (Not the most dramatic results in weight, but it’s only been 21 days.) However, in three weeks I have lost over 3 inches in my stomach, and over 2 inches in my waist. That’s amazing! I think some mom’s like myself (and certainly women who are not and men too) start to think “this is just my body type now.” The truth is we CAN do something about it.

I still have some work to do to achieve my goals, but this was a great platform and eye-opener. The knowledge that it can happen is encouraging. I can do this! (And I am really looking forward to this week “off”… I earned it!)

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Bites

I love zucchini. It’s a green vegetable with a creamy, almost buttery, texture when baked. Top it with a little pepper and salty Parmesan, and well you’ve got yourself a tasty treat. But let’s take this one step further and serve it with a side of marinara dipping sauce. Oh my goodness! Guiltless indulgence is like an oxymoron when it comes to healthy eating… but it does exist!

As organic as possible:

Snack serves 2 (or a hungry 1) 

Olive oil cooking spray

2 Medium Zucchini, washed, dried and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

3 oz. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarse Kosher salt

Freshly ground Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly sprayed with olive oil. Place zucchini rounds on the oil-misted parchment paper, not touching eachother. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pinch a tiny mound of Parmesan cheese to top each slice of zucchini. Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until Parmesan turns golden brown. Serve warm with a side of marinara. (And maybe an iced glass of S.Pellegrino?) Indulge.

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Turkey Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes were kind of a staple growing up in my house. It’s game night and the cheerleaders are coming over for dinner, what are we going to have? Sloppy Joes! We had a big test in school today, and I could sure go for some comfort food, what’s for dinner? Sloppy Joes! Or it’s been a particularly busy day, mom hasn’t had time to prepare a huge meal for dinner, what should we have? Sloppy Joes! To be fair to my mom, maybe we had them 2 times a month at most, but it always felt like the best answer to me. Yummy comfort food, great for a crowd and easy to pull together. That just so happens to be my favorite kind of food to feed my family today. Here’s just a delicious and healthier twist, because eating healthy should be comforting too!

As organic as possible:

Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium Green bell pepper, finely diced
2 lbs ground Turkey
1 1/2 T granulated Onion
1 1/2 T granulated Garlic
1 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Black pepper
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1 14.5 oz can Tomato sauce
1/4 cup Ketchup (I use organic with a cane sugar, and I think it gives the mixture a little depth of color and flavor, but for die-hard clean eaters feel free to omit)

Whole grain Hamburger buns

Coat a large frying pan with olive oil spray over medium heat and add the green pepper and turkey. Start to separate the turkey with a wooden spoon (or utensil of your choice) and add the granulated onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano. Continue to incorporate spices into meat mixture as it browns.

(Side note: For Sloppy Joe’s made with beef, I prefer to use freshly diced onion and minced garlic. However, I like the concentrated flavor of granulated onion and garlic for ground turkey. Also, I like to flavor the meat as it is browning- I think it tastes better. Could you add the spices to the turkey after it has been strained -so you don’t lose any- along with the tomato sauce and ketchup? Yes… but I wouldn’t.)

When turkey is mostly cooked through (because turkey has a tendency to dry out, and it will continue to cook in the sauce) strain the majority of the excess fat- a little keeps some flavor… (Who knew Turkey Sloppy Joe’s were so technical?) Add the tomato sauce and ketchup. Stir until combined and saucy. Allow to simmer on low for at least 15-20 minutes.

Serve on whole grain buns, because there is no reason to cut corners on our healthy meal. And if I may, I suggest a side of baked sweet potato fries because they are awesome.

21 Days of Crazy

Alright so I’m using the term “crazy” loosely. I mean I guess it’s only if you think getting healthy is deranged. Or trying something new in fitness and diet to bring balance and wellness is cuckoo. But I’ll be honest and tell you I’ve never been so nervous about a dietary commitment in my life. When my 30 year old sister told me she wanted to do the “21 Day Fix”, and that she wanted me to do it with her, I jumped on board. “Who can’t do something for 21 days?” she asked. Did I mention I am almost a decade her senior? But I’ve been wanting to shed some baby weight for a while. It’s particularly disheartening since I’ve practically gained 20 pounds since my lowest number on the scale after having my fourth child. I’d like to place the blame on a few different reasons. Yes, I have hypothyroidism. Yes, I have PCOS (confirmed even after my last pregnancy; which BTW could be a post in itself… because everyone loves to read about other peoples’ trivial health woes). And not to name names but I have a finger pointing at a little food blog I’ve come to know too. But in reality, I need to take responsibility- and I know what I have to do; especially with a few odds stacked against me! I need to concentrate on eating healthy and exercising, because -as I have admitted in the comments section of a previous post- I will be 40 next year. And I have 4 little children, the youngest who will be 2 this year… I owe it to them, and myself to try hard.
I have followed multiple plans before, but not with such limitations on food and never with this strict of an exercise regimen. Which I realize is major. I have exercised in the past… but not quite like this- not since high school anyway; which wasn’t because of a diet. Anyway it’s all new. And let me tell you what I like about my new endeavor: They list all of the foods, along with portions, that we can have. So initially you’re like “Wow, look at all of this food!” instead of focusing on what you can’t have. Mentally I appreciate that. When I look closer at the plan, I can see it has eliminated refined sugar, white flour, butter, etc.. It limits the amount of starches and healthy fats I can intake everyday. The plan encourages lean proteins and definitely more vegetables than I eat on a regular basis. Actually, that seems to work for me, because if I am counting calories I am often likely to cut out nutritious food to save 100 calories on something sweet; which isn’t necessarily bad, except I have a tendency to rob myself of nutrients that could actually make me feel better for “empty calories”.  Something else I like, as opposed to other popular plans I’ve tried, is there is no calculating, just measure and stick to the list. But the best part is, if there is something I really want, I tell myself “Eat that in your 7 days off!” Because the program, if I should choose to stick with it after my committed 3 weeks, is 21 days on and 7 days off. So I don’t feel like I have to banish some of my favorites or deny myself treats for the rest of my life. The idea is that if you are  eating right and making healthy choices the majority of the time, you will reap the benefits. Of course you’re not supposed to go bonkers during you’re time off. Am I going to eat fettuccine Alfredo and onion rings? Maybe. Just probably not all at once, and in moderation, because who wants to squash all of the hard work they just put in? Not me!
Here’s the skinny: (haha) This morning was 1 week in. I’ve lost 2.4 pounds and even more excitedly 2 inches down in the stomach. I still have a way to go before I reach my goal, but I am doing something to get there. Is it easy, no. Is it doable, yes. So I’m doing it, because I can; and really that’s something to be grateful for… but not nearly as gratifying as the results. I think I might just be crazy enough to stick to it a little longer. 😉

Szechuan-Style Green Beans

This dish is amazing. Yes, you can serve it as an awesome side. But I am telling you this dish could stand up to being a meal in itself. Seriously, it is that good and flavorful. Even better, it’s easy and quick! Yay! The original version can be found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Easy; which I am loving btw… It’s makes healthy eating fun! A couple of the ingredients might not sound familiar, so here’s a quick note: you could probably replace the tamari with soy sauce and the sambal oelek with a chili paste (such as Thai). Enjoy!

 

As organic as possible:

Salt

2 tsp minced fresh Ginger

2 tsp Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Tamari

1 tsp toasted Sesame oil

1 1/2 tsp Maple syrup

1/2 pound Green Beans

3 Tbsp Olive or Peanut oil

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)

 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the green beans.

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, sambal oelek, tamari, sesame oil, and maple syrup to make the sauce.

Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook just until the water comes back to a boil, about 3 minutes; drain well and dry on a kitchen towel.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the green beans and cook until sizzling and beginning to blister, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn off the heat, and let sit for 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Life

I’m not gonna lie, lately I’ve been distracted. I’ve been making dinners and not taking pictures. I’ve hardly done any blog reading. I’m day 4 into a 21 day fix eating/workout challenge, and my out-of-shape self is really sore!


All of the kids (okay 3 out of four) have started their sport programs. (Between that and church, there are my weekends.)

I’ve redecorated my downstairs bathroom, and around my fireplace. My “country cottage” look is finally taking shape! (I can’t wait to tackle the kitchen.)


The yard is screaming for some attention. Thankfully that is not my yard in the picture. But spring has sprung and a couple of my flower beds have (almost) as many dandelions!


You know that saying “there just aren’t enough hours in the day,” it’s true- at least concerning all of the warm weather outdoor play time.