Category Archives: food

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

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As you read this I’ll be on my way to Florida!

I’m spending the week relaxing on the beach with my sisters and the kiddos before my new job begins. I’m also escaping just as New Jersey gets hit with even more snow :)

This weekend involved a lot of laying around and cleaning. I’m totally the type of person that needs to make sure everything is organized and tidy before I leave on vacation or start something new. I scrubbed down the kitchen, swept the floors, went through everything in my closet – best feeling ever!

On Saturday I was also able to make it to the park for a quick bout of fresh air. I didn’t stay long though – I was underdressed and it was freezing!

park

It felt good just to be outside and remember that spring is coming, albeit very slowly.

These dudes didn’t seem to mind the weather.

geese

There was also some successful kitchen experiments.

A few weeks ago I wrote that I started eating quinoa for breakfast. Previously,  I only enjoyed the grain in savory preparations,  but eating it for breakfast completely opened my mind to new possibilities. The following recipe is pretty hard to mess up, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen.

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Cups

Makes 14 regular sized ‘muffins’

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (!!!)
  • 3 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp stevia

Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare the quinoa using the directions on the package and start brewing some coffee, or use the leftovers from breakfast.
  3.  In an effort to make as little mess as possible, throw all the ingredients into one giant bowl and stir it up! If the batter doesn’t start coming together, add more coffee. 
  4. Pour the gooey chocolate mixture into muffin tins (I recommend silicone baking cups!) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the tops of the muffins harden and the inside is no longer gooey.

chocolate protein quinoa cups

I usually loosely follow some kind of recipe when I cook, but this was my first time truly just winging it and the results were great! These not only taste chocolatey and delicious, but are packed with protein and whole grains. They make the perfect breakfasts, post workout snacks or even desert.

Happy Monday!

 

Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

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I have a whole bag of wheat bran to use following last weekend’s bread baking adventure and am putting it to good use.

The thing about baking is, it typically involves bunch of ingredients I don’t often have on hand and don’t particularly want to eat like butter, sugar and milk.

Health-ifying recipes for your needs is easy enough when you’re fearless in the kitchen and know the right substitutions.

bananaAlmond milk for regular milk.

Flax seed for eggs.

Oil and mashed banana/apple sauce for butter.

Stevia for sugar.

The outcome is low calorie, satisfying and delicious.

banana bran muffins

Banana Bran Muffins (sugar free!)

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbs liquid egg whites
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp white stevia powder (Nunaturals brand – I have no idea about the taste of other brands)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the flour, wheat bran, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl until combined.
  • In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas.
  • Combine the milk, egg whites, vanilla, oil and bananas with the dry ingredients and stir until the batter comes together. It should be clumpy and thick.
  • Spoon the batter into your muffin tins all the way to the top – these won’t rise much.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Whole30 recap

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My Whole30 challenge came to an end pretty much the same way it started – too much wine :)

It certainly wasn’t an entire 30 days. There was the pizza run, a few times where I was desperate for coffee at work and added in splashes of milk, and one time where I accidentally ate edamame because I had forgotten it was on the “no” list and had already paid for it in an overpriced salad.

I also cut it short on Sept. 27 for drinks with my former coworkers. The next day I visited the Chobani Soho yogurt bar, followed by froyo for dinner at Love & Yogurt in Hoboken while waiting for my train to Fair Lawn.

The very next morning, it was back to oatmeal for breakfast.

With all that being said, in 26-ish days, I still feel like I learned a lot from my experience.

For one, I didn’t count calories for the majority of September. Seeing as I’ve been counting calories daily for almost two years, this was a huge change!

It was…interesting. At first it was great, but there were some days I wish I had tracked.

If you don’t already know it, here’s the quick explanation on my feelings about calorie counting: I love it, I don’t get obsessive about it, if I’m hungry I eat even if it’s over my calorie allowance for the day. For me, recovering from a past where I had a terrible relationship with food and binged and emotionally ate all the time, calorie counting is an excellent tool that I can use to feel in control. 

After three weeks, I began calorie counting again. I still have weight loss goals to reach (100 pounds!) and I’ve been in the same 5-pound range for MONTHS. Seriously, it’s plateau hell up in here.

Ok, back to Whole30.

The biggest change was in my taste buds!

I can’t believe how much I enjoy unsweetened chocolate. Also, I used to need a whole banana plus chocolate protein powder and usually some other fruit to drink a green monster, but I’ve really grown to like the taste of a less sweet green monster with lots of spinach.

Also, I always had to add sweetener to pumpkin, but when I started eating again a few days ago I thought it tasted delicious!

I find that I can pick up in the subtle sweetness of vegetables much easier. It’s pretty cool.

I did get sick of eating eggs for breakfast every day – although scrambling them in coconut oil is now my new favorite way to enjoy them.

I also felt weighed down by the amount of meat I was eating. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably notice that I’m not typically a big meat eater. It’s more expensive than other types of protein and I just don’t really enjoy it as much as someone who is going paleo should.

Give me beans, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts, and eggs and I’m a happy girl. I don’t see pork or red meat ever being staples in my life.

But, each time I’ve done a paleo challenge, it reminds me how important it is to eat enough fat.

It keeps me full. It tastes really good, and too many times I go without it because of my former failed experiences (ahem, Weight Watchers) with losing weight.

The benefits of cutting sugar, grains, legumes and dairy out of your diet are eye opening. I was never tired during the challenge. My energy stayed consistent throughout the day. I was never (seriously EVER) so hungry that I felt light headed, even when I went really long stretches between meals.

Overall, I ate more whole, nourishing foods than I normally would have during September – and that’s a success!

The strictness of the challenge helped me stay away from free cookies and bagels at the office, desert and wine during a family dinner, and it saved me money because it got me out of the habit of buying coffee everyday and I think I ate out twice the whole month.

In the end, I came to the same conclusion I came to before: Paleo is not for me.

I got really cranky toward the end of the month and all I could think about was eating sugar. I started to feel deprived, angry, blah blah blah. Also, there is just something about starting my day by cooking oats on the stove that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t know if it’s the routine of making it or the actual food, but there’s no denying it, oatmeal just makes me happy.

I’m lucky. I have no allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, etc., so there is no reason why those foods can’t be a part of my balanced diet.

I probably wouldn’t do it again – but I would recommend that others give it a try! A lot of people really benefit from the paleo way of eating. Also, there is something to be said for sticking to a challenge.

The whole experience reinvigorated my resolve when it came to the way I want to live my life. It got me to question why I was reaching for certain types of foods. I don’t have to eat the free cookie, or indulge in desert, even if everyone else is. I don’t have to feel pressured to drink if it’s not something I want to do.

At the end of the day, I deal with the consequences of my choices. It’s really easy to just go with the flow when it comes to eating out or drinking, but I don’t have to. I can enjoy life just as much whether there is glass of wine is in my hand or not.

Putting myself first, taking the time to prep meals for the week, turning down other plans to work out or eat home instead of at a restaurant, I like living like that. For too long I had this sort of apathy about myself, but my health is not something I’m willing to be passive about anymore.

Some days it is just about another day of getting up, eating right, making time for exercise, but when I stop to think about it, about how I used to live, I realize it’s always about so much more.

Happy Friday, friends.

What’s cookin’?

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This weekend was about extremes.

Extreme saying goodbye to my job and coworkers.

Goodbye desk!

Extreme shopping for new business appropriate clothes.

And Sunday brought extreme cooking.

One of my biggest fears with this new job and new schedule is that all my healthy habits will be threatened by two excuses.

Too busy. Too tired.

As in, “I’m too busy to cook breakfast/lunch/dinner.”

As in, “I’m too tired to go to the gym after commuting into the city.”

Which is why yesterday’s cooking madness happened.

Instead of worry, I whisked.

Instead of stress, I stirred.

Instead of getting worked up, I grated.

Two and a half zucchinis later…

Instead of breaking down, I baked.

Cooking has to be consistent for me to be successful with weight loss, this I know.

That’s why I took extra care today, extra time, to make sure that my fridge was stocked with food to throw together for quick meals.

Zucchini bread for breakfast.

On the right, almond flour/paleo zucchini bread. On the left, whole wheat/oil free zucchini bread.

Five lunches prepped for packing.

Sorry for the fridge full of Tupperware, roomie!

A week’s worth of turkey meatballs for easy dinners.

Hello, lovelies.

I’m determined not to let too much change as I adjust to a new schedule.  You won’t see any frozen meals rotating in the microwave in this apartment.

That being said, it’s time for me to head to the train!

Details of all this delicious food on Wednesday. See you then!

 

All in a day’s eats – WIAW

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Hi there!

Let’s talk food :)

I have a confession to make, I get stuck on certain foods and just want to eat them over and over and over again.

Oatmeal? Every day.

Zucchini? Three a week.

Bananas? Can’t imagine a world without them.

My penchant for wanting the same foods over and over has solved a few common challenges that people run into when starting to eat healthier – mainly price and time.

There’s a myth that choosing healthy foods costs more money and that cooking (especially for one) takes a lot of time, but this could not be further from the truth.

I change up what I eat from week to week, but within the week I eat the same meal for lunch every day and the same meal for dinner every day. I’m on strict budget with grocery shopping and have a crazy work schedule, but this method of meal planning has been a savior for time, money and my weight. Here’s why:

1. Meal planning saves money. Every Sunday I browse Pinterest and some other recipe sites for meal ideas. I make my shopping list on my iPhone and then go into the supermarket knowing exactly what I need. I always want to try new foods, and if let loose I would buy up the entire fruit and produce section, so having a plan helps me stick to my budget. Before I started cooking I used to waste so much food because it would go bad before I could eat it, but that never happens anymore.

2. Meal planning saves time. With my plan set, I can prep all my lunches and dinners on the weekend so they are grab-and-go ready for during the week. This has helped me break any dependency on frozen meals, convenience foods and it ensures that I’m never tempted to eat out. Sometimes I’ll make one big dish (like soup or chili or a casserole) and portion it out to easily reheat during the week but other times I’ll have a set protein (like a turkey burger, chicken sausages or shrimp) and a few different veggies that I know I can quickly throw together for quick and simple dinners.

Why am I talking about all of this? Because I’ve decided to participate in the blogging phenomenon What I ate Wednesday. Below is every single thing I ate on Tuesday. I get questions all the time about what a typical day of food looks like for me – so here it is!

Breakfast: Stove-top oatmeal (1/2 cup oats; 2 tbsp flax meal; 1 banana; 1-1/2 cups water; tons of cinnamon). A giant cup of coffee with a generous pour of unsweetened almond milk. I also had another coffee with soy milk mid-morning.

Lunch: 2 hard-boiled eggs; a container filled with broccoli, carrots and cucumbers; 1/4 cup hummus (homemade – so much cheaper!); 1 cheese stick; 1/2 oz raw almonds

Snack: 100 g of grapes; 30 g of avocado (Yes, I really do weigh everything. I would cry if my food scale broke)

Dinner: 2 chicken sausages; 1/2 zucchini; 10 asparagus

Dessert: 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; 1oo g blueberries

It’s also…weigh-in Wednesday…so here we go:

The Numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 166.5

This week: 167

Change: +.5

Total loss: 76