Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Perfect Eating:” There is No Such Thing

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I have not always had the best relationship with food. In fact, during a particular difficult period of my life I used food to “deal” with stressful situations, and it got me in a whole lot of trouble as I gained quite a bit of weight.

Back then, I ate too much food (not necessarily unhealthy food) every single day and also used “special occasions” to justify eating extra food. There were way too many special occasions that I came up with…

To lose the weight, I managed to let go of “stress eating” (through some real soul searching and finding true stress relievers such as long walks and yoga), and I also no longer justified eating extra food because it was a special occasion. I made special occasions all about people instead of food.

For a while, everything was “perfect.” I ate very healthy foods in the right amounts for the right reasons (to nourish my body and because I was hungry.)

However, at one point “real life” happened, and I overate. Not a lot. But still. I overate. At first, I panicked. I was terrified of going back to my unhealthy relationship with food. One bad meal could be the beginning of the end in my mind. And, honestly, it could if I let it get out of hand.

But eating too much on one occasion can be easily dealt with. It happens once in a while. It’s normal. And it surely doesn’t have to lead to weight gain.

On Thanksgiving I ate too much for dinner. Not an outrageous amount of extra food, but I definitely felt too full. However, I had also planned for a bigger dinner, walked a lot, and made good choices the next day.

I started Thanksgiving like I start most days (ever since I did the Conscious Cleanse in January) with 32 ounces of warm lemon water and a big green smoothie. A little later I had some Greek yogurt. Lunch was on the go and consisted of carrot and cucumber sticks with cashew “cheese” (soaked cashews ground in my mini food processor with lemon juice, garlic, spices, and water). A couple hours later I had some grapes.

Dinner started with a creamy mushroom soup (delicious but certainly not low calorie and quite substantial), which was followed by a salad. Honestly, I probably could have stopped eating right then and there and would have been perfectly satisfied. Instead, I ate some turkey, mashed potatoes, yams with maple syrup and pecans, and green beans. I had seconds of the yams and green beans. At that point, I was definitely more than full. But there was dessert, and I had the inside of a slice of pumpkin pie as well as a small piece of marzipan. Plus, I had 1.5 glasses of sparkling wine.

We decided to go for an after dinner walk, bringing my step total to over 16,000 for the day. I definitely felt a lot better after the walk. The rest of the evening I made sure to drink a lot of water.

Since we were out of town, I couldn’t start Friday with my usual lemon water and green smoothie ritual. Well, maybe I could have, but I didn’t plan for it. Instead, I drank a lot of water. Then I ate a banana and a bit later some leftover turkey slices.

I also did a strength/core/yoga workout, consisting of pushups, squats, kicks, planks, and a yoga flow. Then we walked some more.

Lunch was at a restaurant, and I got a salad with thin steak slices and a portobello mushroom. I made sure to hydrate with lots of water.

In the afternoon, the older kid asked for some “iced coffee,” and I decided to make some blended mocha with ice, milk, instant decaf coffee, unsweetened cacao, and stevia. Naturally, I had a glass, too…

For an early dinner, I had cucumber slices with cashew “cheese.” The rest of the evening I had lots of warm water with ginger slices, a new favorite.

I wouldn’t call either of the two days “perfect,” but the overall food intake over the two days was okay I think. I definitely didn’t eat enough greens, and I’ll make sure to fill up on them in the next few days. I also didn’t gain any weight, despite some indulging.

I think the lesson I learned many years ago is that you don’t have to eat “perfectly” every single meal, but in the end things have to balance themselves out. In other words, you’ll have to compensate for splurges. But beating yourself up over splurges certainly doesn’t work. Instead, I try to plan for extra food and usually eat a bit “cleaner” for a couple days following the splurge to compensate for calories as well as nutrients the splurge may have lacked. Overall, I try to do nothing drastic but get back to pretty much my normal eating with doable modifications. I also make sure to truly listen to my body and look at my soul food, a concept I learned by doing the Conscious Cleanse.

Finally, here are some photos from our Thanksgiving weekend. If you follow my on Instagram, you may have already seen some of them. I’m very thankful that I got to spend Thanksgiving with all my boys.

Questions: What strategies do you use when you eat “extra food?” If you are in the U.S. or celebrated Thanksgiving elsewhere, what was your favorite part of Thanksgiving? What are your thankful for today?
Be well,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Simple Foods and Arctic Zero

We’ve been eating a lot of simple foods lately. Ground, spiced turkey with veggies like asparagus or green beans. Or big salads with salmon or tuna on top. There have also been lots of soups.

I still prep a bunch of foods that are easily assembled into meals a few times a week. Here is a recent lunch: spaghetti squash, sautéed kale, sautéed mushrooms, and spicy black beans. Everything is in the fridge in glass containers, and it’s super easy to put it into small containers to take to work or on a plate to eat at home.

Simple Meals 01

Arctic Zero
Right after we had started the Conscious Cleanse, we got a big package of frozen desserts to try sent by Arctic Zero. Arctic Zero is made with whey protein and non-GMO ingredients and is gluten free and fat free. The products are sweetened with cane sugar and monk fruit concentrate. One pint of Arctic Zero has only 150 calories and the frozen dessert bars have only 85 calories each.

Hubby was very disappointed that he had to wait a few weeks  to try these desserts. Once the cleanse was over, we had fun taste testing all the different flavors: chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, coffee, cookies & cream, mint chocolate, strawberry, and, vanilla maple.

Of the pints, we liked cookies & cream and coffee the best as they tasted most natural, but our favorites were definitely the frozen dessert bars.

The frozen dessert bars come in packs of four, with two flavors each: one pack has 2 strawberry and 2 orange cream and the other has 2 chocolate and 2 vanilla. While the frozen dessert bars aren’t super creamy, they are a very nice, satisfying frozen treat with a thin chocolate cover. They are a great low calorie, cold and slightly chocolaty treat, and I’ll be looking for them at the store.

Questions: What simple foods have you been eating lately? What’s your favorite frozen dessert flavor?

Be well,

[Disclaimer: I received the frozen desserts for free from Arctic Zero. I was not paid to write this review, and all opinions are my own.]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Creamy Potato Leek Soup and CSA Box

I love soup, and I make at least one big pot of soup every week. I like to eat the soup with a salad on the side or over some brown or black rice. A small cup of soup is also a great snack.

Creamy potato leek soup tastes decadent, but is a healthy dish that lets the veggies in it shine.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

  • 4 - 5 leeks, cleaned carefully (lots of dirt can collect in between the leaves) and then sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 5 small potatoes, sliced
  • 5 cups veggie broth (I used homemade veggie broth) – I like my soups thick, if you like your soup “soupier,” use more broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Chives (optional)
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the leaks, potatoes, and garlic and mix everything and sauté for about 5 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Add the broth to the pot, cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 15 – 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft.
  5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender.
  6. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon, a dash of nutmeg and additional salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the soup and sprinkle with chives.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I used to get a CSA box for years. Then sometime last year, there were a few mix ups and issues involving my credit card, so when we went on a longer vacation, I canceled. But I always meant to sign up for a CSA again, and I had been looking into several options, but I never acted on anything.

So when my old CSA contacted me, it didn’t take much convincing to make me sign up again. And I’m glad I did because the box always makes me eat veggies and fruits I probably wouldn’t buy or eat at that moment.

To make a CSA work for you, it’s important to have a plan so that produce doesn’t get “lost” in the fridge. More than three years ago I wrote a post about how to make a CSA work for you.

Here is what was in this week’s box and what I did with it. I realize how very lucky we are in California that we have year-round CSAs and Farmers’ Markets.

  • apples – apple pear sauce
  • pears – apple pear sauce
  • mandarins – lunches
  • lettuce – big salad with cashew dressing on Friday for hubby and me; the lettuce was super fresh and delicious. In the past I learned that it’s best to use the lettuce right away.
  • broccoli – this will be one of the kid’s lunch and dinner veggies for the week. He loves raw broccoli.
  • bok choy – stir fry with onions and mushrooms
  • kale – I made kale chips, and they were gone soooo fast.
  • carrots – carrot sticks for lunches
  • potatoes – potato leek soup
  • leeks – potato leek soup
Questions: Do you like soup? If so, what’s your favorite soup? Links are welcome! What’s your favorite “rediscovered” veggie at the moment? I love leeks, but for some reason I haven’t bought them in a long time. I’m really glad that they showed up in our CSA box this week!

Be well,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheap, Easy, & Tasty Veggie Broth

Several months ago, I started making veggie, veggie/chicken, or veggie/beef broth in my slow cooker. For the veggies, I use the peels and end pieces of organic produce that I use to make salads, stews, soups, etc. I freeze the peels and end pieces until I’m ready to make the broth. It feels good to not waste so much produce.

One large Ziploc bag fills up almost my entire slow cooker. To the veggies I add water, salt, pepper, and various herbs. This veggie bag contained celery, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, and garlic.

I cook everything on low overnight or longer. Then I strain it, squeezing the liquid out of the veggies.

The result is a flavorful broth that I like to drink by itself and also use in other soups and stews. There are some veggie pieces and herbs floating on the top, which I don’t mind, but you could pass it through a cheese cloth to make it clearer.

Exercise Update

In the last few months, my main form of exercise has been long walks and hikes, yoga, some barre classes, and mainly body weight workouts. I notice that push ups are getting easier, and it’s time to increase the number I strive for doing a bit.

Questions: Do you make your own broth? I make veggie or veggie/bone broth almost every week. I’ll post a bone broth recipe soon. I really enjoy having my own broth. What’s your current exercise regimen? Is it time to adjust thing? 

Be well,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Conscious Cleanse Food and Portable Salads

Even though I have posted what I eat on the Conscious Cleanse before (Conscious Cleanse food and more Conscious Cleanse food), I have been getting questions on what I eat in a typical day, so I thought it would be fun to show you what I ate yesterday.

The day started with 32 ounces of warm lemon water. Since water is pretty boring to look at, there is no picture.

Then I had a green smoothie with lots and lots of greens. Yes, we are cheering with our smoothies! Smile

Green smoothie

I had a huge salad for an early lunch. I made the Garlic Caesar dressing from the The Conscious Cleanse book (p. 251). The base of the dressing are soaked cashews that are pureed in a food processor with garlic, lemon juice, dates, water, and spices. It’s very good.

When we have salads, I often prep them the night before by cutting everything up and putting it in a bag. That way it’s quick and easy to grab. This mix had romaine lettuce, a large grated carrot, sliced mushroom, cucumber slices, and sliced celery.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 002

I put some dressing in the bag and shook it to dress the salad.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 003

Not pretty, but it gets the job done.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 005

I often get to eat lunch at home since I do most of my grading and prep work from home. But you could take the bag and a small jar of dressing anywhere, and Andy (hubby) has taken it to work this way.

Here is my huge salad.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 008

In the early afternoon, I had some carrots and cucumbers with hummus.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 014

Around 4 p.m., I had an early dinner consisting of baked halibut and sautéed onions, mushrooms, and bok choy. I marinated the halibut in some sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, salt and pepper and then baked it at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Conscious Cleanse food Arctic Zero 013

Conscious Cleanse Thoughts
Last Wednesday was the first transition day for the Conscious Cleanse. That meant that on Thursday, which happened to be Halloween, we couldn’t eat anything with added sugar. I think this made for a very rough start for Andy.

Instead of focusing on all the great veggies and new dishes he could eat, he focused only on what he couldn’t eat for a while there. I think he is slowly coming around though. He has also been having a hard time with drinking the 32 ounces of warm lemon water. Since we follow the lemon water with a big smoothie, I can understand that it’s a lot of liquid.

For me, it’s much easier to drink the 32 ounces of warm lemon water since I  drink it all the time. Also, I have gotten used to getting up very early so that there is some time between my lemon water and my smoothie. Between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. is my most productive time of the day.

I like that the cleanse has made me already more organized than I  normally am. Plus, I really like that I’m eating more veggies and paying a lot more attention to my water intake.

Questions: What beverage do you start your day with? What’s your favorite salad dressing? I like simple vinaigrettes, but the Conscious Cleanse Garlic Caesar dressing is becoming a new favorite.

Be well,