Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 30 & Life after Whole30

I made it! Today is Day 30, the last day of my challenge. Overall, it went very well. I spent a lot of time looking up recipes, prepping food, cooking, and doing DISHES! Cooking at home for so many meals definitely added up to many more dishwasher loads than we usually have.

Here are my takeaways:

  • It was a great way to get my bad eating habits in check, which was particularly useful after the holiday season. I got in the habit of eating 3 meals a day, with little to no snacking between meals. 
  • Although I didn't really FEEL different, I could tell I started to look different. My skin was clearer, my body was less bloated, and I'm sure I've lost a few pounds. 
  • The composition of my diet changed from mostly carbs, to mostly protein & fat. Although tracking food/calories is discouraged on the Whole30, I (mostly) still continued to track my food at MyFitnessPal, just because it's habit for me. It was interesting to watch the change in nutrients. 
  • I learned to recognize my Sugar Dragon! I have always had a sweet tooth, but cutting all sugar out for 30 days made me realize how loud it usually roars! I knew sugar is a pervasive part of the Standard American Diet (also known as SAD, haha), but reading labels really opens your eyes. I found ONE type of sugar-free bacon, and had to make my own ketchup!
  • Overall, I think it is a well-designed program, with lots of information and resources. I signed up for the daily emails, which I think was a worthwhile $15 investment. I would recommend it to anyone looking to improve their diet. I will likely do another one in the future! 

What I Ate

I tried to focus on the suggest meal template of a protein, fat, and vegetables. I usually added a piece of fruit to my lunch as well. 

Breakfasts: At-work breakfasts were usually a casserole or frittata. When I started to get sick of them (after 5 days in a row!), adding the homemade balsamic ketchup made it more interesting. At home, i usually made omelettes. I ate So. Many. Eggs! This coming from a girl who used to HATE them. I did find a local vendor who make chicken sausage, many without sugar. I picked up some Chicken & Sage patties, which were delicious. 

Lunches: I've always enjoyed a nice salad at lunch. For the Whole30, I did tuna salad, spinach salad with grilled chicken, a Greek chicken salad, a buffalo chicken salad, a BLT + Avocado salad, and a salsa chicken salad. At home, my go-to meal was Applegate organic turkey hot dogs + balsamic ketchup, with homemade sweet potato chips. 

Dinners: We tried many different recipes for dinner. I used my new spiralizer to make zoodles (zucchini noodles), which we had with meatballs and shrimp scampi. We made three kinds of no-beans chili, including a white chicken chili. We did Thai red curry stir-fries, and chicken tikka masala with cauliflower. We tried a pizza spaghetti pie with spaghetti squash. We made beef stew, and chicken fajitas over cauliflower Mexican rice. I made a batch of (amazing!) salmon cakes and froze them for a quick easy option. 

Favorite Recipes

Here are some of my favorite recipes, that I plan on keeping in the rotation! I've linked back to the original source. Some of them had to be revised in order to be Whole30 compliant. 

Overall, it was a success! I don't plan on doing the formal reintroduction, but just seeing how I feel overall, and trying to keep eating as clean as possible. It's been a worthwhile challenge, but I'm glad it's done for now! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Whole 30

After a long, indulgent holiday season, I needed to reboot my system with a strictly clean eating diet. My sister introduced me to the Whole 30 plan, which focuses eating only whole foods for 30 days. At first, I thought it was going to be too much meat for a semi-vegetarian like myself, but I think having all the protein will be the key to staying satisfied throughout the day.

The Whole 30 plan restricts legumes, dairy, alcohol, grains, and soy. The plan encourages you to have a protein source for every meal, a large portion of veggies, and a small amount of fat. Fruit is allowed in moderation. Their website is filled with tons of information, and there is also a book that explains more of the science behind the plan.

A plan like the Whole 30 requires a lot of research and prep work, which are two of my favorite things! For weeks beforehand, I scoured the internet for Whole 30 compliant recipes. I created a meal plan for the first week of my program and prepped much of it on Sunday evening so I'd be prepared for my first week.

Weekly Meal Planner
MondayBreakfast HashSaladSpaghetti & Meatballs
Protein2 eggs, chicken sausageAvocado Tuna Saladmeatballs
Vegetablessweet potato, kalespinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepperszucchini noodles
Fatghee, avocoado oilavocado oil, avocadoavocado oil
TuesdayBreakfast HashSaladChicken Tikka Masala
Protein2 eggs, chicken sausageAvocado Tuna Saladchicken breast
Vegetablessweet potato, kalespinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepperscauliflower, broccoli(?)
Fatghee, avocoado oilavocado oil, avocadoghee, oil
WednesdayBreakfast HashSaladShrimp Scampi
Protein2 eggs, chicken sausageAvocado Tuna SaladShrimp
Vegetablessweet potato, kalespinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppersZucchini noodles
Fatghee, avocoado oilavocado oil, avocadooil
ThursdayBreakfast HashSaladSpaghetti & Meatballs
Protein2 eggs, chicken sausagesalmon salad/cakemeatballs
Vegetablessweet potato, kalespinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepperszucchini noodles
Fatghee, avocoado oilavocado oil, avocadoavocado oil
FridayBreakfast HashSalad
Protein2 eggs, chicken sausagesalmon salad/cake
Vegetablessweet potato, kalespinach, tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers
Fatghee, avocoado oilavocado oil, avocado
SaturdayPaleOMG Spaghetti pie
Proteinitalian sausage
Vegetablesspaghetti squash, mushrooms, bell peppers

I made the breakfast hash, tuna salad, green salads, and meatballs on Sunday.

My Week 1 Meal Plan

Whole 30 Day 1:

Sweet potato hash with kale & chicken sausage, topped with 2 eggs fried in organic ghee

Avocado tuna salad over spinach with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, & radishes

Meatballs with marinara sauce over zucchini noodles
Chicken Tikka Masala over cauliflower rice
Shrimp Scampi  over zucchini noodles
Pizza Spaghetti Pie

I had to pay extra attention when shopping for food...sugar is in everything! I was able to find a compliant marinara sauce at Trader Joe's, and sugar-free chicken sausage and bacon at Whole Foods.

I'll be sharing my meals on Instagram at @WhatKarieEats, so feel free to follow along!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Going Green

In honor of Earth Month, I decided to write a post on my efforts to live an environmentally friendly life. Admittedly, I am not nearly as green as I'd like to be, but I'm proud of the few things I do for my part in protecting the planet. Some of the things I'd like to mention are:

Recycling: I think the is one of the most important thing our society needs to focus on. We have become a 'disposable society.' We buy more than we need, in much more packaging that is necessary, and toss it all in the landfill once we finish. I do try to buy things with less packaging, and use reusable packaging when possible, but I mostly try to just recycle everything that I can. Although the city does not offer curbside recycling quite yet (but it's finally coming this year!), we save up our recyclables and haul it to the nearest recycling dumpster about 2 miles away. I also collect certain items at work (yogurt cups, cardboard packaging) and recycle that as well. I recently found out that some of the items I was recycling are not actually recyclable at SWACO or Rumpke (the 2 Central Ohio recycling companies), so unfortunately, I've stopped saving those. Hopefully they will update their facilities to be able to accept all plastic items, #'s 1-7 someday!

Reusable Bags: This is one thing that I've greatly improved on in the last few years. I almost always use reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. I've collected lots of bags, and I keep them all over. I always have some in my car, so in case I forget to put them back after using them, I still have a few backups in the trunk. For produce, I use these mesh bags, which prevent me from having to use the plastic bags at the store. Also, my sister has given me a few fold up bags and I always keep one in my purse. It doesn't take up much room , and its saved me many times from having to use a plastic bag for a small purchase. Some places, like Target, even give discounts when you byob (bring your own bag). I will admit that sometimes I still get a bag from Target because their bags are sturdy and great for cleaning the litter box. Oh well, at least I'm reusing, right?

Reusable Water Bottle: I've always had some sort of Nalgene bottle, but lately I've been using all of my water bottles lots more! At work I use a stainless steel Camelbak that my sister gifted to me last year and I love it. The straw bit took some getting used too but I've found it helps me to drink more. The stainless steel case keeps the drinking fountain water cold longer than a plastic one. I also fill up a water bottle for every road trip, to have on hand for when I finish my obligatory coffee drink! My new favorite way to use a water bottle is when flying. Instead of paying airport prices for bottled Dasani, I throw an empty water bottle in my carry-on, and fill it up at the first water fountain I see after the security checkpoint.

Of course, there are many other changes I'd like to incorporate into my green initiative. I'd like to replace all of my beauty products with eco-friendly versions, buy more things in bulk to eliminate packaging, drive less (or get a hybrid!), compost food scraps, and grow more of my own food. Being environmentally conscious is a process, but it's an important one, so hopefully all of us can strive to make each of our lives a little greener. And not just during Earth Month, but every month!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Week of Salads

One of my favorite things to have for lunch during the week is a giant salad! Getting a full bowl full of veggies in during the day really helps keep me on track with healthy eating. Every batch of salads is different, but they are all made the same way.

First, I assemble all of the ingredients (so I don't forget anything!). I usually buy whatever is on sale or things that sound good.

I start by rinsing and spinning the greens and spreading them out between the 5 bowls. I absolutely love the 2 salad bowls I have! I got them at Bed Bath and Beyond a few years ago. I will eventually get 3 more so I have enough for the work week, but for now, I just use reusable ziploc containers.

Rinse and chop all of the veggies. I try to make sure my salads are as colorful as possible. Different colored veggies have different kinds of nutrients, so the more variety, the better! It's easy to think of the food rainbow. Here I have red tomatoes, orange carrots, yellow pepper, white mushrooms, and green broccoli, spinach & celery. A red onion or purple cabbage could be added for purple. Blue is hard to get in a salad, but I love blueberries, so that's usually how I get my blue color in!

Usually the veggies I add are all zero PointsPlus on Weight Watchers, but sometimes I like to add extras. This week, I added sunflower kernels. I used raw, unsalted kernels, which I roasted on low for about 15 minutes.

Once the salads are assembled, I add the toppings & dressing. Goat cheese is my favorite cheese on salads, but I also like blue or feta cheese as well. I weigh my portion to get a half ounce, which is just 1 PointsPlus. I also measure out 1 or 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and a glug of balsamic vinegar.

I used to think I could never enjoy a salad dressed only in olive oil and vinegar, but now I love it! I think it helps to have all of the different veggies, and of course, the creamy goat cheese. Plus, it helps me get in my healthy oil Good Health Guideline for Weight Watchers! Also, a lot of the vitamins in the veggies are fat soluble, so having the oil helps the body absorb the vitamin.

Making a week's worth of salads on Sunday does take awhile, but it's absolutely worth it! After cleaning up Sunday night, I don't have to worry about making lunches for the rest of the week. The veggies hold up very well, as long as the dressing stays separate. Sometimes I pair the salad with a turkey sandwich, a bowl of soup, a greek yogurt, or some Popchips (if I'm feeling snacky).

I hope I've shown you how simple it can be to prepare 5 salads at one time!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Giving Up Diet Soda

Since February is a short month, I decided to use the opportunity to quit drinking soda for the month. So far, it hasn't been too bad. I made the decision a few days into the month, after I realized I hadn't had a soda yet. (Please note that this was completely unintentional...I was out of Diet Coke at home. Normally I would have a DC every day at lunch, and usually a Sprite Zero with dinner.) I gave up soda last year for Lent, and it was a looong 40 days! I am hoping the rest of February doesn't seem quite as long.

I've drank soda for as long as I can remember! As a kid, we always had a separate fridge just for pop. My grandma kept hers stocked with every possible soda option, while ours at home had Coca Cola Classic for my dad and sister, and Diet Coke for my mom and I. In college, my dorm room fridge held a case of Mountain Dew. It was only during the last few years that I've started questioning what is actually in the soda I'm consuming.

Maybe it's just my new found awareness of the food ingredients, or maybe it's a general increase in the availability of information, but it seems like there is a lot of information out there about the mysterious ingredients in Coke and Diet Coke. Diet drinks in particular are worry-some because of the artificial sweeteners. While aspartame is approved by the FDA, it is generally thought to be somewhat unsafe. Recent studies have concluded that artificial sweeteners can actually cause weight gain, rather than reduce it. "Artificial sweeteners could have the effect of triggering appetite but unlike regular sugars they don't deliver something that will squelch the appetite" (source).

All things considered, it is hard to consider healthy living while continuing to consume sodas (diet or regular). The ingredients in soda contain no nutritional value, and may possible even cause harmful side effects. I wish I could say I will never drink a pop again, I am sure that will not be the case. I do hope, however, that once February is over and my soda ban is up, I can drastically limit my diet soda consumption, and focus on drinking more water and tea instead.

Further Reading:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pilot Post

Welcome to my venture out into the blog world! I decided to start blogging so I could share some of my daily life with anyone who's interested. Over the past few years, I've been striving to make my life healthier by losing weight, quitting smoking, and becoming more active.

July 2009 (178 lbs)
November 2011 (138 lbs)

This blog will follow my journey to be healthy and maintain a positive outlook. It will highlight things that have been helpful to me along the way. I will share ideas and recipes, struggles and victories. Healthy living isn't always easy, but it will always feel better in the end!