Quick Meals & Sweet Snacks

Before you read; This post isn’t all about chicken. But naturally, I rant about it for a solid half hour.

IMG_3842

Chicken is a pretty touchy subject for those who eat it all the time. When I first started becoming more aware of my eating habits, my focus was mostly on counting calories. Chicken seemed to be something that fit my macros appropriately. I could also eat a larger portion of chicken for a lower amount of calories than, say, ground beef. I always favored chicken… chicken breast, chicken thighs. I’d have chicken for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Chicken for days. And I mean…DAYS. So here I am, making my grocery list, and realizing that I have to buy some chicken. Buzzkill of the century. It’s more the thought of chicken that’s been pissing me off. In reality, when I sit down and eat it, it’s not that bad. I go through stages with my diet. Sometimes my go-to is chicken and sometimes it isn’t. I realized it’s because I never really experimented enough with chicken. Pictured above is chicken I seasoned with Lemon Juice, Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning & Mrs. Dash Spicy Seasoning. The lemon juice adds some moisture to it, and the mix of seasonings keep it exciting.

IMG_4679

Pictured above is a dish that looks a lot more fancy that it is. It is, simply, 5 cups of Kale, 2 cups of Mushrooms, under 1 pound of chicken, seasoned with Lemon Juice & Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning.

IMG_4692

I cooked this dish on 400 degrees for I don’t know how long. Estimate 25-30 minutes. Depending on the intensity of your oven. Anywho, I cut the chicken up into slices, added more lemon juice, and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to ensure that the chicken was fully cooked. (I realize I need to start writing things down when I cook them so I don’t forget how to cook them. On my way to be the number one cooking blog in America..)

IMG_4697

I served my dish over a mixture of brown & wild rice and quinoa. It was very tasty and the chicken kept it’s moisture! Nobody likes dry chicken.

IMG_5415

This chicken dish was prepared in my cute little crockpot. I stared at my chicken for a solid ten minutes because I couldn’t figure out how to cook it and the last thing I wanted to do was cook these babies whole. Shredded chicken was my best bet. I put a pound and a half of chicken in my crock pot with 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth. I added Lemon Juice (obvi), Basil leaves, and Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning. You haven’t lived until you’ve used Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning… it’s a game changer. I let it cook on low for about 8 hours. I then changed it to warm and let it sit, which is something I’m never gonna do again because it wasn’t nearly as juicy as it should have been. So, next time, I’ll probably cook it on high for about 5 hours max and take it out. In the middle of the day, I slowly started shredding the chicken. Once it was cooked through, I shredded it completely and let it sit. The flavor was perfect but the chicken was slightly overcooked. I think I’m gonna try again today. I would have taken pictures of the finishing project but it was gone in 60 seconds or less. I’ll document when I’m more successful.

IMG_5421

Oh, tilapia. I have the same opinion about tilapia as I do with chicken. I cooked 7 ounces of Tilapia in Mrs. Dash Italian Blend seasoning and lemon juice. I put my tilapia over sliced celery, and a delicious slaw I’ve been buying from Kroger! I added lemon juice, hot sauce and horseradish mustard to the top and mixed it like a salad. It was delicious! I’ve been doing this with my tuna, too. The slaw adds a perfect crunch!

IMG_5619

I cooked about 3 pounds of Ground Turkey meat with Lemon Juice, Basil Leaves and a blend of italian seasonings that my mother gave me while I was home last weekend. The seasoning is delicious and has no sodium! Pictured above is just 6 oz of Ground Turkey with asparagus and carrots. I added hot sauce to my ground turkey. Perfectly portioned meal. Meat & veggies, you can’t go wrong!

IMG_5622

Pictured above is the same ground turkey meat I cooked, over rice and veggies, and a little bit of Mia’s Basil Marinara sauce! This meal gave me my italian fix, without the splurge! This was about 6 oz Ground Turkey, 3/4 cup rice, and two cups veggies! When I eat rice I typically eat 1/2 cup (measured cooked) brown rice.

IMG_5630

Onto some more “sweeter” options. Everybody likes a sweet every now and then. We’re only human. Sweet potatoes aren’t exactly a “sweet”, but they taste like candy when cooked to perfection! I turn my oven on 400 degrees and let my sweet potato sit for about an hour. I take it out when it starts oozing. (Oozing? Ew.) I haven’t made sweet potatoes in awhile, but I’m back on that bandwagon.

IMG_4830

Rice cakes have been my go-to snack lately. It may be one of those obsessions that I will soon get tired of, but right now I’m on a roll. I have been limiting my nut butter to, barely, twice a week. Rice cakes are also a great snack choice when eating nut butter because you are less likely to overeat. I just spread one tablespoon of nut butter on one rice cake, add some jelly, and I get my peanut butter and jelly fix! I haven’t been eating nut butter because it is so easy to overeat. You’d be lying if you said you’ve never sat there with a spoon and your jar of peanut or almond butter. Once I stop eating nut butter for a week or two, I stop craving it. Allowing myself to have it every now and then keeps me disciplined. I know I can eat it, but the less I have it, the more likely I am to have it in moderation. Portion control.

IMG_4831

I might do a whole blog post about Quest Bars, so I’m going to keep this light. This is a Cinnamon Roll Quest Bar, baked in the oven on 350 for 6 minutes, with 1 tbsp Nut Butter & 1 tbsp Jelly on top. I’d talk about it, but all you have to do is look, and you get the picture.

IMG_5296Last but not least… Cucumbers? As many of you know, there is a huge community of “fitness freaks” on the social media site, instagram. #FitFam #EatClean #InstaFit I recently saw someone post a bowl of cucumbers with…cinnamon? I thought it was weird, but then I heard from a friend how delicious it really was. So I cut up my cucumbers, added cinnamon and liquid stevia, and holy crap it was good!

As you can see, all of these meals are very healthy, easy, and diet friendly! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun! You just have to get in the right mindset and you’re halfway there. Enjoy!

Yours Truly,

Stef

IIFYM, Eat Clean, Paleo – What’s Next?

I recently got a little made fun of for my “Clean Eating” mantra, which inspired me to briefly go over what it means to #eatclean. So there are a million different ways of eating out there, and I’ve tried a few of them.

IIFYM_zpsf8c8ae3d

I started dieting with an IIFYM approach. At the time, I had no idea that I was even following this fad. For those of you who are out of the loop, IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. I don’t like to get all scientific, but this ones science. You need a caloric deficit, Calories in, calories out, yadda yadda… “science”. Anyways, IIFYM promotes flexible dieting. It is a GREAT approach for beginner dieters, and those who are just starting their journey towards awesomeness.  IIFYM was the main reason I was so successful with my weightloss journey. I counted my calories on an app called My Net Diary. In my About Me, I listed a few foods I ate that helped me get in the groove and drop a few pounds. Because I wasn’t completely restricted to chicken and broccoli, dieting became fun. I have undiagnosed OCD, and my diet was something I had complete control over, and I liked that. I fit Special K cereal into my diet, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a healthy serving of pasta and chicken for dinner, all as long as it fit into my available macronutrients! I was not limiting myself, but I was controlling my portions and measuring serving sizes to make sure I was on track. Paleo people cringe at the thought of IIFYM. That’s because it technically allows processed foods, dairy, gluten, anything and everything. If you really wanted, you could have a pop tart for dinner. If it fits your macros. Fitness competitors also use IIFYM to make “gains” in their off season. From my research (brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc), IIFYM seems to be commonly used by those with an already fast metabolism and those who are just discovering the calorie counting process and benefits of changing your diet. It seems that many people start with IIFYM, and move on to a cleaner diet eventually when they want to reach some serious goals. Though IIFYM is often abused, I have no negative thing to say about this diet strategy because it is all about what works for you. If Pop Tarts and Reeses get you to where you need to be, so be it.

image

And this is where my thoughts collide. I’ve recently been trying to find a balance in my diet and mind about food. As I said before, I started with an IIFYM approach. Now, I often find myself cringing at the thought of processed foods. Not to mention, I am gluten and dairy intolerant, so IIFYM would make me just as limited. So yeah, you’re following science. You might be eating chicken and veggies for lunch, but Reeses and ice cream for dinner. Ah! Filling your body with chemicals you can’t even pronounce? You might be fitting in your calories, but your insides are not thanking you. There is actual research that proves that these foods are poisonous to your body. They are also very addictive, as well as chemically made. Not real food.

eat-real-food-300x294

So you opt for a bowl of cereal instead of a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Yeah, they might have the same macronutrients, but there are more cons than pros. One including, those processed foods increase your serotonin levels (I’m talkin’ science, people). Serotonin causes you to be drowsy, tired, and lazy. When I follow my #eatclean way of eating, which is as close to Paleo as possible, everything gets better. And yeah, I mean everything. I feel energized. My skin shines, my hair looks healthier, my thoughts are positive and clear, and my body just feels right. But also, who the hell can eat one serving of Reeses cereal without going for round two? Not me. Reeses are the bomb dot com. Anyways, what I was trying to mention in the top of this paragraph was that I’m trying not to be so gosh darn anal about what I put in  my body. Yes, it’ll help me in the long run, but sometimes you have to throw your chicken and broccoli out the window and stop at Taco Bell. Also, nobody wants to go out to eat with someone who isn’t going to eat. For example, Friday night we went to a Burlesque show at one of my favorite local restaurants, Jackie O’s. They have an unbelievable gluten free menu. I was wondering all week about what I was going to eat there, because I am really trying to follow my plan! There’s a difference between a healthy lifestyle and trying to lose weight. When you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t throw out your chicken and broccoli for Taco Bell. It is important to follow your diet to the best of your ability, your body will thank you later.

IMG_4838

I thought maybe I would just eat dinner before we went, but then I thought about how not fun it would be watching everybody chow down on pizza. They have burgers, so I ordered the morning burger, which is a burger with an egg on top! No bun, no cheese. And yeah, I ate the chips, thanks Chardonnay.

1334702413114_1201131

Okay, back to clean eating. Clean eating doesn’t mean you spray your food with windex. Clean eating means you opt for food with as little ingredients as possible.

Eat-Clean-300x188

I started getting into the #eatclean fad when Instagram became more popular. Sophomore year I would follow all these profiles with great clean eating recipes that looked delicious. I was in the dorms, so I started #eatingclean with the best of my ability. Our market at school sucked. There were no fresh fruits, veggies, or meats. So I bought what I could at the market and the rest at the grocery store. When I went to the dining hall, which wasn’t that often, I would get a salad or a deli sandwich on wheat bread. I was lucky if they had chicken and brown rice. In my dorm room I would have oatmeal for breakfast, or Smart Start cereal with added FiberOne cereal and fruit. I also got egg beaters and microwaved them with broccoli and would make sandwiches with those Whole Wheat Flat Out wraps and thins.  I was obsessed with Wasa Crackers and the Laughing Cow Cheese wedges. I would spread those on the Wasa crackers with some Deli Turkey meat and have a baggie of carrots and broccoli for lunch. My snacks were apples, veggies, bananas, or granola bars. I was trying to follow a low-fat diet at the time, so I didn’t have peanut butter as much. But when I did I would make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. For dinner I would have the One Minute Ready Rice cups, with microwavable chicken and veggies. I steamed my veggies by putting them in a microwavable bowl with water for about five minutes.

Eat_Clean_No_Processed_Foods_Chemically_Chemicals_Enhanced_Artificial_White_Flour_Sugar_He_and_She_Eat_Clean_motto

My body slowly started craving more fresh foods, and by junior year I was in full force with my clean eating lifestyle. Not to mention, I actually had a kitchen to cook in. Perks. So I started really cooking for myself my junior year. Breakfast was omelets, with Feta cheese! (Oh how I miss cheese sometimes) Sometimes I just had oatmeal or yogurt with granola. That was before I got into putting protein in almost every meal. For instance, sometimes for dinner I’d have soup and salad. Sometimes the salad would have a protein in it, sometimes it wouldn’t. I still would enjoy a nice sandwich every now and then (I may or  may not have just started drooling because I really want a sandwich now, it’s the little things).  My junior year is also when I started getting a lot more into Crossfit and lifting. I was gaining a little muscle and getting stronger without even realizing it. I started researching how to eat for performance, and started eating like an athlete. For instance, I started making protein and vegetables my main focus, and keeping carbs involved for performance and recovery.

83545668

Once I started noticing the gains I was making from Crossfit, I couldn’t stop! And that’s how I got into Paleo. Somehow, Crossfit and Paleo are paired up. After my research (also brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc) I now realize that most crossfit athletes don’t even eat a Paleo diet. Anyways, I grew a girl-crush on Juli Baurer’s PaleOMG website, and really thought Paleo would help me lose weight!

Paleo

You figure if you’re eating meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit and fish, and healthy fats, you would lose weight, fast! Well I didn’t exactly lose weight. I’ve heard of many successful weightloss stories from the Paleo diet, but my results were not consistent and I learned that it was not for me. My body changed though. I realized what it actually felt like to be happy, mentally and physically. My physique changed. My booty lifted, my shoulders broadened. I started to actually look like I at least worked out from time to time. (Which is all why my diet is still mostly Paleo, anyway) Any fitness nerd has that goal in mind. You want everyone to see how hard you work, and your body is a reflection of that. I think that’s my biggest frustration with my body. I kill my workouts, but my stubborn body is not giving me the results I KNOW I can get. Hence my recent diet change. I’m putting everything I know that has worked together. Lifting, HIIT, Cardio, a clean diet, a meal plan, counting calories, and a few moderate treat meals here and there! I know that I have accomplished a lot, and I am more than proud of myself for doing so! I’m hopefully on the road to the body that I have worked so hard for.

IMG_4904

I know I’ve mentioned this a million times throughout my blog, but I can’t stress this enough. It’s not what you’re friends are doing, not what your instagram idol is doing, and sometimes… it’s not even 100% what your nutritionist is telling you to do. It’s what works for you. You have to be well rounded. You aren’t going to get anywhere by depriving yourself, but you also aren’t going to get anywhere by constantly rewarding yourself with food. I’ve shot and missed a million times, and eventually you start knowing your body better than any advice column can tell you.

Yours Truly,

Stef