Week One on SmartPoints

So you guys, I have to say, I’m really proud of myself. Something I’ve seriously struggled with in the past is how to balance losing weight with keeping up with my life. If I’m being “good” and recommitting to weight loss, I tend to shut myself away, avoid social situations, and honestly, get scared and overthink any hurdle that might come my way. I avoid going to happy hour or going out to dinner, and try to suggest doing something healthy like a workout for my social time, rather than making time for a workout earlier in the day, and letting my social time be, well, social.

This time around, I’m trying to be more reasonable and think long-term. Am I going to avoid going out to happy hour with friends forever? No. Am I only going to see my friends if I can convince them to join me for a workout? No. (Especially because my best girlfriends have fallen in love with SoulCycle and while I tried it once and liked it fine, I cannot bring myself to pay $33 per class without feeling sick at the thought.) Am I going to eat a small, well-portioned meal at home before meeting friends out for dinner and just order seltzer at the restaurant and seat myself as far away from the bread basket as possible? Nope.

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So, this last week, I took a looser approach to following SmartPoints and did the best I could, while still having a wonderful time with my friends, going out to eat much more than normal, and even taking a work trip to Boston. Last Thursday, one of my best friends from college who lives in NYC, Leah, came down to DC to visit for the weekend. Thursday night she came over and we ordered Mexican food. I ordered a healthy meal – chicken fajitas – for my main course, and even got queso and guac to share for starters. And I had chips and queso and guac, but I tried to be mindful while I was eating it. I made myself slow down a bit and stop before I overdid it, and even saved part of my fajitas for another day. In my past life, I would have fixated on avoiding the queso so bad that I am sure the stress alone would have added on several pounds.

Leah was around for the rest of the weekend, which included girls night Friday with wine at a friend’s place and dinner out at the Homestead (omg so good if you are local to DC) and brunch at The Republic on Saturday followed by some day drinking and snacking.

Cheers

We called it an early night Saturday and then I got back on track on Sunday. I went grocery shopping, planned out a few meals for the week (including Skinnytaste’s Banh Mi Rice Bowls which I hiiiiiiiighly recommend) and took my dog for a long walk.

Then, Monday I took a trip to Boston for the night for work and got back late Tuesday night, and again, normally this work trip would stress the hell out of me when I was first getting back on track. In my past weight loss attempts, I would have figured out how to fit in a workout, located a grocery store that I could get to easily once I got there, called my hotel ahead of time to ask for a refrigerator, overthought the meal options, and overly stressed myself out for a work trip I would have to take regardless of how it affected my weight loss efforts. Instead, I just took it for what it was and tried to be as healthy as I could with the options I had, drank plenty of water, and stayed on my feet a lot. I even met another best friend from college, Lindsay, for dinner on Monday night at Lincoln (SO GOOD!) and had a lobster roll for lunch during the work event on Tuesday.

Lobstah Roll

I hadn’t weighed myself at home once during the week since last week’s weight in, and with all the friend time, meals out, and travel, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to weigh in this morning. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I stepped back on the scale today and was down 3.4 pounds from last week! I honestly got giddy on the scale even though I still have a ways to go, and it made me feel confident that I can do this. Again.

Thrilled with The Gain

Going back to Weight Watchers to weigh in for the first time in a while can be pretty daunting for anyone, but I have been putting an extra layer of pressure on myself because I used to be a Leader, and was so afraid that someone might recognize me and wonder what the hell happened and where I went wrong.

When I feel the negative self-talk rise up and I know I am being hard on myself, sometimes I try to imagine that a close friend is sharing those same emotions with me, and I try to think through how I would respond to them. And usually, it’s quite different from what I say to myself (in my head mostly, luckily) and it helps me to change my tune.

I would say, “Don’t be ridiculous. Going back is a huge step in and of itself and it’s something you should be proud of, not scared of! Trust me, I know it sucks to have to face gaining weight back, but no one will be nearly as critical of you as you are. And honestly, even if someone does recognize you, what’s the worst that could happen? It would probably be refreshing more than anything because as anyone who has to lose/has lost a lot of weight genuinely understands, it’s not easy. Stop being so hard on yourself. I’ll be happy to go with you, if you like.”

I won’t share the self-directed commentary I had floating around before forcing myself to snap into gentle-mode, but suffice it to say that the version for my close friend was much kinder than the insults swirling around in my head.


As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’ve been in a join, quit, rejoin, quit, rejoin cycle with Weight Watchers for the last year and a half plus. I went a few times throughout the year in 2015 where I saw the biggest gain from when I was Lifetime (about 35 pounds up from my goal weight), and then I went on April 26 and May 3 of this year (two weeks in a row!) and actually lost 3.8 pounds in that week, but that was followed by crickets… until yesterday.

When walking in, I honestly didn’t know what to expect with regards to what the scale would say. I haven’t been weighing myself regularly, and am not sure that I’ve been on a scale since May 3 to be honest. So, with baited breath I stood in line and soaked in the new-to-me SmartPoints merchandise while I waited for my turn at the scale. I saw a journal with a quote from the founder of Weight Watchers, and it helped reiterate that I was indeed making the right choice.

Choice Not Chance

My turn came, and as I walked over to step on the scale, I exhaled a bit when I realized that I had never laid eyes on the woman about to weigh me in my life, so she couldn’t possibly know who I was. She pulled up my profile and directed me to step on the scale, and then she goes, “Aww bummer. You’ve gained this time.”

Luckily, I had prepared myself for that, so I didn’t collapse on the spot. I did sheepishly remind her that I hadn’t weighed in since May 3 and had just recommitted the day before, and then I took back my booklet and sulked away from the scale.

But then, I opened up my booklet not sure what number would be there, and I had in fact gained weight, but it was only 1 pound since May 3! It could have been a LOT worse. I am pretty sure that’s the happiest I’ve been in my whole life from gaining a pound, so I’ll take it.

Where to Begin?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve started writing this post, either on a computer or in my head, over the last year a half (!) since I last posted here. When healthy living and weight loss are not front and center in your life, it’s REALLY hard to figure out how to maintain a blog that’s supposed to focus on those very things. But let me just cut right to the chase – I need to figure out how to make those things central again.

You know the all-too-familiar drill.

Giving in to the pizza for lunch at work one time instead of eating your pre-packed lunch, which somehow leads to being unable to recount the last time you actually packed a healthy lunch to bring to work.

Skipping one workout after work one night to do something more fun with friends somehow leads to getting so far out of your healthy routine that it’s a constant fight to just get yourself to the gym one time.

One pound leads to five pounds, which leads to being scared to know how many pounds it actually is because it’s been too long since you’ve even stepped on the scale.

And let me tell you, it’s definitely not for lack of trying, or thinking, about how to get back on track. I’ve joined, quit, rejoined, quit, and rejoined Weight Watchers during this last year and a half. (I’m currently in the “rejoin” category but haven’t yet fully committed even one of those times.) I’ve joined a new gym and a new-to-me yoga studio. I’ve tried lots of new recipes and meal planning techniques. I even tried a 15 day challenge, which required me to stock up on protein powder, which are currently half full in my pantry. But all of these things have been half-assed, if I’m being honest.

I really do want to lose the weight again. I want to be back to where I once was, where I’d be excited to see pictures after an event with friends, instead of feeling a sense of panic when I get a notification that I’ve been tagged in a photo, for fear of how fat I might look in the picture. I want to feel good when I look in my closet to get dressed in the morning, instead of feeling on the verge of tears with my limited clothing options that fit. I want to be the person who feels that something is missing when they’ve skipped a workout, instead of feeling like a champion if I make it once.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t one filled with answers and advice. It’s just a post that’s a real, honest account of how much I’ve been struggling to get back on track. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who asked me what piece of advice I would have for someone starting out on their weight loss journey. Though I don’t feel like I am qualified to dole out advice at this point, what came to mind is something I needed to remind myself of, so I wanted to put it out there for you, too.

Know that you’ll mess up and fall off the wagon, more times than you expect. What matters is not that you are perfect or that you don’t mess up, but how quickly you make yourself get back on the wagon after you fall. Dust yourself off as soon as you are able, forgive yourself, and make your next choice a healthy one.

Question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received or given about getting (re) started on a weight loss journey?

I’m Just Gonna Say It

I need to lose weight. Again. Ugh.

While 2014 was a decent year for me overall, I really let my health fall down the list of priorities, and in turn, this blog. You can pretty much rest assured that if I’m not blogging, it’s because i’m not being good. Even though I KNOW that, and I’ve admitted it again and again, I somehow still possess the power to successfully trick myself into actually thinking the two aren’t related.

I remain an all or nothing person. When I’m on track and losing weight, i eat, breath, and sleep weight loss. When I tried to move into “coast” mode with weight maintenance, it was really difficult for me to navigate having healthy living be just a part of my life and not front and center. It happened slowly at first, missing a workout here or there, or ordering pizza after a night out on the town. Then it evolved into not making it to the gym once while traveling for work for a weeklong stretch, to ordering delivery becoming a regular part of the rotation. And then, here we are, and I can count on one hand the number of times I worked out in 2014 and healthy, home cooked meals have become less and less the norm.

I’m not ready to share the number on the scale yet, and I wish so bad that i didn’t feel a twinge of pain/guilt with saying that. I know exactly what I would say to anyone who came to me and said, “I am so embarrassed that I’ve gained weight back and I don’t know what to do.”

Your weight is just a number.

Your weight doesn’t define you.

There are so many other ways to measure health.

Set goals based on where you are now.

Don’t waste time wishing you were in a different place. You’re not. Accept it.

And even knowing all that and being ready with those forgiving words at the drop of a hat to someone else, I still have trouble saying them, and meaning them, to myself. So I guess I’m still working on just accepting it myself before I can share it with you.

In more upbeat news, a few concrete things I’m doing to help with my vague health goals for 2015 are:

  1. Set up a Beth’s Journey DietBet to start on Monday, January 12, 2015.
  2. Rejoined Weight Watchers.
  3. Looking into getting a Fitness Tracker – interesting discussion on this FB post: https://www.facebook.com/bethsjourney/posts/824367797624679. I still haven’t decided, but that conversation definitely tells me that people are passionate about their fitness tracker, whichever one it is!
  4. Signed up for the 2015 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler for April 13, 2015. Yikes.

A Peek Inside My Food Bag

Oh, hi! I have a lot to update you all on, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to come back when you’ve been away for a while without some grand gesture (post?) and I realized I can’t let that stop me, because I have to start somewhere.

Yesterday I got back from a four night trip to Hilton Head Health and I cannot tell you how serendipitous the timing of that trip was for me. I got invited to check out the facility with a group of other bloggers, and here’s a photo of the six of us who went, courtesy of the Hilton Head Health Facebook Page.

Bloggers
Andi, Monique, Sarah, Nicole, Lisa, …and Me

I’m still gathering my thoughts on the trip to share with you, but I will say that I left feeling very refreshed, excited, and recommitted to being healthy, losing weight, and getting myself back on track!

When I got back yesterday, I really wanted to cook for the first time in a while. It helped that I had also promised my friend Stacy, who watched Stella while I was gone, dinner, so I decided to sketch out a meal plan and then go to the grocery store.

Usually when I make a meal plan, I map out what meals I’ll be eating when, but I rarely stick exactly to it. So this time, I decided to just come up with a couple meal ideas for breakfast and then lunch/dinner, without plugging them into specific days/meals. This way I have the ingredients and ideas ready to go, but I’m not tied to having a certain meal at a certain time if I don’t feel like it.

So here’s what I came up with to carry me through most of the week:

Breakfast:

  • Steel cut oatmeal (I made 3 servings)
  • English muffin w/egg, spinach, and cheese
  • Smoothie w/banana, berries, spinach, skim milk, and almonds

Lunch/Dinner:

  • Chicken chili (just made this up as I went and this is what I made for dinner last night for Stacy, but I have two servings leftover)
  • Skinnytaste Creamy Lentil Soup (this is amaaaaazing. I made it last night for the first time and it’s so, so good.)
  • Chicken breast with cranberries and butternut squash (inspired by this recipe, but I’m too lazy to go through the whole process there)

And then, to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies (trust me, I have ’em too), I wanted to give you a peek inside my food bag that I’m bringing to work today.

Lunch Bag

Keep in mind that I am in my office only Monday through Wednesday, and I’m lucky to have a fridge there I can leave things in overnight.

Closed Contents

I’m trying to get back into the habit of bringing in a few extra things at the beginning of the week, and then just supplementing as needed the next couple days.

Contents

Clockwise starting with: Honeycrisp apple, steelcut oats with pumpkin and cottage cheese, creamy lentil soup, chicken chili, raspberries, vanilla Chobani yogurt, Cilantro (garnish for both soups), Banana, Babybel cheese, reduced-fat sour cream (garnish for both soups), shredded cheddar (garnish for chili).

Are you more of a map every meal to every day, or just plan a couple meals for the week and make them as you feel like it? Any fun recipes you’ve tried lately and/or are looking forward to making soon?

Whole 30: Day 24 + Meal Ideas

You guys! I can’t even believe I’m writing in on day 24 and I’ve made it this far. I feel good. My skin has cleared up times a million, and I am definitely feeling less lethargic and more energetic than before. That said, I definitely don’t feel any miracles, but I still do have a week left, and I am very glad I’m doing this as a reset. I really needed something that would help me take pause and evaluate everything I was putting into my body, because I was slipping into some bad habits that I needed to kick to the curb (especially diet soda and processed foods in general). When I posted after one week on the Whole30 and admitted to stepping on the scale, a few people suggested that I really not weigh myself because it would make me focus on the wrong things, so I did actually put my scale away and haven’t weighed myself since. Just wanted to share that side note.

The Whole30 has truly helped reinspire me in the kitchen, too. Prior to Whole30, I was eating out A LOT (bad for the waistline and the wallet), not cooking very much, and eating a lot of convenient, packaged foods. Since Whole30, I’ve been diligently grocery shopping every week and doing a ton more cooking in my kitchen. I’ve gotten excited about my weekly grocery trip, gotten back into meal planning, and have ventured to the farmer’s market, Wegman’s and Aldi (first time ever). It’s been pretty awesome! Also, Whole30 helped me to make homemade mayo for the first time ever (using this recipe and because most store bought mayo contains soybean oil) and also purchased a spiralizer (this one) that I am obsessed with and use all the time.

A lot of my meals have been simple and straightforward, and looked something like this:

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2 eggs fried in coconut oil, sugar free bacon, 1/2 avocado, 1 sliced bell pepper, 1 sliced kiwi, seltzer water, and coffee with coconut milk

But I have come up with a couple more exciting meal ideas, and while I haven’t done up detailed recipes and taken step by step photos, I wanted to share anyway.

Slowcooker Mexican Shredded Beef

This is probably my favorite creation from all of Whole30. I purchased grass fed beef chuck from Whole Foods (it was on sale!), and then I did a simple prep and cooked it in the slower cooker. I chopped up an onion to throw at the bottom, and then seasoned both sides of the meat with cumin, corriander, chili powder, and a little salt, and put the seasoned beef on top of the onion. I added a little pico de gallo on top of the meat, and turned it on low and left for work. When I got back 9 hours later, my apartment smelled amazing and I had the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth shredded beef that I’ve ever had. I had Shredded Beef Lettuce Wraps, and stuffed butter lettuce with the beef, bell pepper, pico de gallo, guac, and mango salsa. If I could eat like that every day, Whole30 would be a breeze.

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Shredded beef, homemade pico de gallo, guac, mango salsa, red peppers, and butter lettuce leaves

Sweet Potato Egg Bake

This is a dish I’ve made a couple different times, and is perfect for bringing to work for breakfast. I shredded a sweet potato in the food processor, then added in scallions, eggs, and sausage from the farmer’s market that I cooked in a pan first. You could throw in any veggies you like to this, but the sweet potato was AWESOME and made it unlike any egg dish I’ve ever had. It almost tasted cheese-like, and added a very stick-to-your-ribs element that helped me stay full for hours. This will be in the regular breakfast rotation for sure.

Shredded Brussels with Bacon

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The picture here does the dish no justice, but this was probably my favorite veggie side dish. I mean it’s probably not a big surprise since there’s bacon, but only a few slices! I cooked 3 slices of (sugar-free) bacon in a pan, and then put the cooked pieces on a paper towel. In the same pan with the bacon fat still in there, I added a bag of shredded brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s, and cooked those for a few minutes until they softened a bit. I crumbled up the bacon and tossed it back in, and voila! I had this with a few eggs on top, and also as a side with meat a few times. Delish.

Chicken Salad

Boring, I know. But eggs can get kind of tiring if you have them for breakfast every day, and I still have trouble wanting to eat something more lunch/dinner-y first thing in the morning. Chicken salad turned out to be a good middle ground, because it was light enough for breakfast, but substantial enough to keep me full for hours. I poached chicken breast (first time ever!), and then sliced it up and tossed it with some grapes, celery, and bell pepper. I mixed some curry spice into the homemade mayo, and then tossed the chicken salad with the mayo. I served it over a bed of greens to get a little more veggies in there, or else just ate it as is.

Egg Salad

This is not the most exciting thing on the list either, but I feel like it deserves a shout out because it’s a meal i’ve eaten several times a week all along the Whole30. Just like chicken salad, it’s something that I can eat for breakfast if I don’t want regular eggs, and it’s really easy to throw together. My favorite combination to date is 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 red bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, 1 dollop homemade mayo, and 1/2 avocado. So delicious and something I haven’t gotten bored of yet!

Ten Takeaways from Week One

So week one of Whole30 is in the books! And I have to say, I am loving it. While there have definitely been some challenges, overall I am feeling really good, am already waking up easier in the mornings, am feeling less bloated, and my skin is improving a lot. I’m also learning a lot about the food that I eat and am feeling like I’m getting that reset that I was looking for with Whole30.

Even just one week in, it’s really been eye-opening with the things that I classify as healthy and good for my body. I’ve struggled a little bit with realizing that I can in fact survive without a carb-based breakfast, and that I don’t have to skimp throughout the day so that I have more calories/points left for the evening. I know those things come naturally for a lot of people, but i’m not one of them and it’s been an interesting mental shift.

Here are 10 great things from this week that I would like to keep up, even after the Whole30:

  1. fruit infused water – it makes me feel fancy, and is less boring than plain water. I’ve done orange, kiwi, cucumber, lime, and some combinations of those so far, and it’s made me drink way more water and actually enjoy it. not sure why i didn’t start this sooner!
  2. reading the ingredient list – I have always been waaay more focused on the nutritional label than what is actually IN the food, so it’s been pretty different for me to flip a package over and go straight for the ingredient list rather than browsing how many calories and fat are in the item, and I kinda love it.
  3. less snacking – the goal is three meals a day, and no snacks unless you need them, which is way different than my normal practice. While i’m not sure I’ll ever be completely snack-free, I do like the emphasis on more satisfying meals and less grazing.
  4. meals at the table – I’m normally really, really bad about this and will eat my breakfast and lunch in front of my computer at work. Whole30 calls for you to sit at the table for each of your meals, and while I haven’t been perfect in this department, I have at least considered sitting at the table for every single meal, and have done so about 80% of the time, which is a huge jump from 0% pre-Whole30.
  5. no fake sugars – this was another bad habit I had slipped back into – diet soda. My office has a fully stocked fridge of soda, which includes diet coke, coke zero, and fresca – and I had gotten into the habit of having 1 or more a day when in the office (3 days/week). I’ve replaced this with fruit-y water (see #1) when I feel the need for something with flavor, and I don’t want to go back.
  6. prioritizing meat on my grocery bill – this was something I didn’t expect to have as much of an impact. I am normally such a bargain shopper, so I was always looking for the cheapest option of healthy proteins, and would very rarely hand over the money for meat at the farmer’s market. Whole30 very clearly instructs that your meat, seafood, and eggs should be your first priority with your grocery bill – ie. grass-fed / free range meat over organic produce. Reframing my thinking in my grocery budget and going straight to pick out the protein first has revamped the way I’m appreciating the meat, and I can definitely tell a difference in the taste, too. It’s really easy to turn a blind eye to where your food is coming from (and something I am particularly skilled at, especially when I’ve classified it as healthy), and I like that I’ve taken steps to change this for myself.
  7. focusing on veggies at each meal – i love eating so many veggies again. it just makes me feel good and healthy, and I get excited to discover different ways to prepare them in delicious (Whole30 compliant) ways. i missed being excited about veggies!
  8. not weighing myself as much – confession – i didn’t make it 30 days without stepping on the scale. But! I was more curious than anything to see if the scale was going to show the same thing i was feeling because I am eating in a different way than I’m used to. i really did go into it neutral – i wasn’t going to be upset if it was up. (Told you I’m good with excuses.) I really love that Whole30 is about how you FEEL for the main source of feedback, and not what the scale says. It’s very refreshing.
  9. sunday meal prepping – An old habit I’m glad has resurfaced. This weekend I hard-boiled a bunch of eggs, poached chicken, prepared several different veggies for grab-and-go options, and got ingredients for easy meals during the week (shout out to my slow cooker that is currently tackling an <organic> pork shoulder).
  10. cooking nice meals for myself – anytime people are coming over for dinner or I’m going to a potluck, my mind swirls with delicious ideas of what to make and I get excited about putting something together. but when i’m cooking for myself, it feels… unnatural? self-absorbed? to put that much effort into making a meal. But this past week, I’ve cooked a lot more than I had been, and while I did share some of the meals with others, a lot of them were for me and only me. I feel like I put the same amount on emphasis on prepping all the meals, and I would sit down at the table (hello #4) and be pretty happy to be eating something nice. again, not sure why this one took so long to figure out.

You’ll notice “not have a glass of wine with my girlfriends” did not make the list of habits I want to keep up after these 30 days. 😉 More to come!

Needing a Reset

Lately, I’ve been feeling in need of a reset.

I’ve been so swamped with work and life that I haven’t really been focusing on myself or my health (or this blog… elephant in the room) in quite some time. This is not to say I’ve gone completely off in the deep end or anything, but I’ve just been feeling more tired and less focused than I want to be lately. I’ve put on a few pounds, and also my skin has been awful with breakouts lately. (And I’m 30! wtf) Besides the short-lived “I’m going to try not eating carbs!” and “I’m completely recommitted to Weight Watchers!”, nothing has really stuck. I’ve been eating crappy food more than not, not exercising as much as I should be, and just not taking the best care of myself. I’ve been toying with lots of ideas on different approaches I might take since the usual suspects have not been sticking around long enough to help snap me out of this rut. And yesterday, I finally took the plunge and started something new.

Whole30.

I first stumbled across the program several months ago, but immediately dismissed it because it seemed so extreme and wasn’t something I was even willing to consider. But Whole30 kept coming up again and again in my searches, and I started reading a little more about it each time. The tagline of the program is, “let us change your life” and while I’m still feeling really skeptical, I’m willing to give it a try. You can click on over to the site to read all about the specifics of the program (its free), but it’s basically a strict 30 day program where you eat very clean and detox your body from all potential allergens. That means no gluten (bagels), dairy (cheese), legumes (chickpeas), sugar (all), and the clincher – no booze (wine). (In case you were wondering, I put my favorite option from each category in parentheses.) By eliminating all of these items from your diet, you give your body a chance to reset and start to feel better, more alert, and just generally healthier. Also, you lose weight because of the kinds of food you’re eating. At the end of the 30 days, you reintroduce the groups back into your diet one by one to see how you react to them and figure out what foods affect you negatively. Please don’t tell me my results are cheese and wine. And bread.

So what can I eat? Nothing. Ha, just kidding!

But really, what I can eat is meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, and some fruit. That is it. Each meal has to be built around a protein source and then have a few types of veggies and a fat source (like avocado, coconut, olives, or nuts). Fruit is optional and can be part of your meals if you wish.

For me, the equally compelling part of the program besides the lose weight, clear up your skin, and feel less tired part, is that it claims to break psychological holds food has over you, too. I’m not allowed to weigh myself for the duration of the program, and I am supposed to eat three meals a day (no snacking unless really hungry). While this leaves me partly terrified, it’s also partly exciting because it takes the guess work out of it all. I am not allowed to cheat or have slip ups for the 30 days, and I kind of love the strictness of that because I think it’s a good test and I really feel like I can give 30 days if it makes so much of a difference.

Anyway, while it does seem drastic in a way, I’ve never been one for moderation, so this is no exception. With that said, it really isn’t THAT drastic – it’s just a focus on eating real food for 30 days straight and paying very close attention to everything I’m putting in my body. It’s already been pretty eye opening to be reading the labels on foods (I’m not talking nutrition labels) and see how many random things are added to everything that has a label. Also, I don’t know if I should be afraid of putting this out there on the record, but the thing I’m most worried about giving up is the booze! Maybe that should say something.

I’m planning to document my Whole30 experience and will definitely share menu plans, results, struggles, reflections, etc along the way, but if you have any specific questions feel free to ask.

Day two!

Avoiding Boredom With Minimal Effort

Anytime I am being good about cooking healthy meals at home, I find myself eating the same things for meal after meal. I tend to make a few things at the beginning of the week and then eat leftovers for several meals to come. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can get old kind of fast if it’s more than a few meals in a row. But, it can be tough to cook for one with enough variety to keep me from getting bored, while still using up all the ingredients and keeping the effort minimal. This week, I figured out a way to take three super simple staple ingredients and make them into several different meals that were easy to prep side by side.

I started with 1 pound of lean ground beef, 1 can black beans, and 1 bag of frozen brown rice.

photo 1 (12)

I cooked the beef in a pan with half of an onion that I found in my fridge. After it was browned, I set aside about half of it, and then mixed some of the brown rice and black beans into the beef left in the pan.

I stuffed that beef/rice/bean mixture into two green peppers, and added one can of tomato sauce underneath and on top. I cooked those stuffed peppers for 45 minutes at 350 and that was it.

photo 2 (15)

Then I took the rest of the black beans and brown rice and mixed them in the same pan I cooked the beef in until they were heated through. That left me with a good amount of rice and beans, plus the rest of the beef.

photo 3 (14)

I made a salad with some of each of those to eat right away, and then added some sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and shredded cheese. I ended up packing up ingredients for a repeat salad for a future lunch.

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Tonight I’m going to make fried rice with what is left of the rice and beans, plus an egg and whatever veggies I can find in my fridge to throw in there.

So this meant I was able to stretch those three staple ingredients into two stuffed peppers, two salads, and fried rice, so basically 5 meals for one person. And while each meal has a lot of the same ingredients and are fairly similar, adding in a few extra things for each dish makes it feel different enough.

How do you keep from getting bored with your eats?

Avocado Deviled Eggs

So remember when I used to post a lot of recipes on this blog? It’s been something I’ve been struggling to get back into, so when I saw that the California Avocado Commission was hosting a recipe contest for the attendees of FitBloggin’, I knew it was the perfect chance to get back into it! Not only do I love avocados and coming up with simple and delicious recipes, but I also love me a contest with a chance to win some pretty sweet prizes.

For the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest, we had to come up with a recipe featuring California avocados, and I’ve been toying with different ideas for weeks. Here’s what we’re being judged on:

  • Creative use of California Avocados
  • Simple ingredient list with less than 7 components
  • Variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Recipe Photo Quality

As you probably know, I absolutely love everything avocado, but I generally use it in super simple ways that would barely constitute a recipe. So for this, I wanted to come up with a recipe that uses the California avocado as a staple ingredient in a way that I wouldn’t normally think to use it. I also wanted to use it in a way that would make the recipe healthier, but wanted to keep it pretty simple since those are the kinds of recipes I like (slash am capable of making).

Enter deviled eggs.

While traditional deviled eggs use mayo to smooth out the egg yolks, I thought the creaminess of an avocado might be a great replacement to still get that same satisfying consistency, and it worked out perfectly. Seriously, besides a slight green tint to the yolks, no one would ever know you slipped an avocado if you went with the traditional accompaniments of Dijon mustard, lemon, and cayenne. Trust me, I tried it.

But for this, I wanted to go a little further and use some other flavors to play off the avocado, so I went with a Mexican twist.

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In addition to the egg yolks and avocado, I used lime, cilantro, cumin, and jalapeno for the filling and it was AWESOME. The filling was so creamy and flavorful, and the thin jalapeno slice added a nice crunch as a garnish. You could also top these with a tortilla chip, or leave the garnish off all together, but I loved the idea of using some of the ingredients already in the mix on the top. I had a few taste testers, one who apparently is very critical when it comes to his deviled eggs, and he said these were “actually awesome”. I’m told that was a deep compliment. I’ll take it.

Without further ado, here’s the final recipe!

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  1. 12 large hardboiled eggs, peeled (I use this method)
  2. 1 large ripe California Avocado
  3. 1 lime, cut in half
  4. 1 tbsp cumin
  5. 1 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish
  6. 1 jalapeno (I used a red one)
  7. salt to taste

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Directions:

1. Cut the hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and separate the yolks from the whites.

2. Combine the egg yolks, California Avocado flesh, juice of the lime, cumin, cilantro leaves, and as much as the jalapeno as you like. If you don’t want it too spicy, you can discard the seeds and only use half the pepper. I cut off a few rings for garnish and threw the rest in there and it was perfect for me.

DSC_00233. Combine all ingredients until smooth. Use a food processor for the best results, but if you don’t have one or don’t feel like cleaning it afterwards, you can also mash it together with a fork, use an immersion blender, or use a regular blender.

4. Spoon the mixture into a plastic bag, cut off a small diagonal edge, and squeeze the mixture into the egg whites. You can also just spoon it in if you don’t want to go through the trouble.

5. Garnish with sliced jalapeno and/or cilantro, if desired.

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6. Enjoy! These will go fast.

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