Change is Good for the Soul

I’ve been running since I was a young girl, that’s all I really did.  I did track team for some time in junior high school, but didn’t wish to continue in high school.  I was never a fast runner, slow and steady was always more my speed.  I liked the longer distances, where I could just settle in and enjoy the solitude out on the road.  I was devastated and completely stressed, when I thought I’d never be able to run again.  I definitely went through a very hard time emotionally and soothed myself with way too much food and wine.

Crawling out from the mess I made has been particularly hard this time.  I’m not getting any younger and the older I get, the harder it is to rectify months of poor eating choices.  Gone are the days where I could just burn it all off in a month.  It seems these days, no matter how hard I work or clean I eat, the pounds stay put.  But, if nothing else, I am a very determined woman.  I will get myself back to a comfortable running weight no matter how long it takes.

Long time readers, know that I am not a huge fan of change when it comes to exercise and nutrition.  I like things to stay the way they are and love to get into a routine.  My military/police dad really did drill routine and structure into my brothers and I, especially around our meals.  To change my workout routine and my nutrition at the same time is a huge undertaking for me, but at this point what have I got to lose – except a few inches and pounds.

Instead of running and risking yet another injury, I decided to give Crossfit a try.  I started going at the end of June and have been going at least 4 times a week.  This month, I’ve tried to up it to 5 times and if I can’t make it to the gym, I do the WOD at home.  Remember, we have a full gym set up in our basement, so with my husband spotting me I can do the work – no excuses.  It’s hard, but oh so motivating to do these workouts each day.  They are always different and you never know what you will get, other than drenched in sweat and spent.  They really break up the monotony of doing the same workout over and over again – think running.  The most interesting thing that happened is the more I go, the less I miss those grueling long runs.  I’m truly not at a long run weight right now anyway, so I’ve just been sticking to 3 and 4 mile runs when I can fit them in.

As for my nutrition, I just couldn’t get that darn scale to move no matter what I did.  I know from reading The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain that there are many foods that are thought to be healthy, that may not be healthy for my body.  These past two weeks, I’ve really dialed it in and cleaned up what I was eating and guess what that scale budged.  More importantly, I feel better and actually stopped craving that glass of wine at night.  Foods that I never really wanted to eat are becoming more appealing to me.  Yes, I have been doing a lot of cooking, but I’ve kept the recipes simpler.  Best of all, I think I will be able to maintain these types of meals when I return to my full work schedule.

Today, it is pouring rain outside.  After I came home from the gym, I decided to make three meals to have some pickings for the week.  I roasted some sweet potatoes with onions and garlic to be used as a nice base for poached eggs during the week.  902861B7-BA30-466B-A048-78AAF8033856.jpegI also have the crock pot going (which I haven’t used in forever) to cook some nice boneless chicken thighs with homemade BBQ sauce.  Finally, I’m roasting a tray of vegetables.  These vegetables include butternut squash, sweet potatoes and spinach with cauliflower cream sauce (dairy free).   It smells incredible in my house right now and I’m looking forward to dinner later.

Sometimes, change is good for the soul.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel rejuvenated and ready to keep pushing through this rough patch.  Each day I feel that much stronger mentally and physically.   If you are stuck in a rut, like I was, try something new.  You don’t have to try it all at once like I did, but believe me you will find that spark again.  Here is the recipe for the roasted vegetables I made today in case you want to give them a try.6A2B45FF-DE48-41AA-8CDD-F42CDB15E843.jpeg

Squash Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 head of caulifower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To make the cream sauce, place a couple inches of water in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, place steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 12-14 minutes, until completely tender.
  3. Drain and return cauliflower to the pot. Add the almond milk, stock, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the pot.
  4. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine the ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a separate pot of water to a boil. Add the butternut squash and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft .
  7. Stir in the spinach to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.

To Assemble:

  1. To assemble, grease a large baking dish with coconut oil spray.
  2. Spoon a thin layer of the cream sauce over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange a layer of half of the butternut squash.
  4. Top with half of the spinach mixture, and then all of the sliced sweet potato.
  5. Drizzle with the cream sauce.
  6. Add the remaining half of the spinach, followed by the rest of the butternut squash.
  7. Drizzle the rest of the cream sauce over the top.
  8. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  9. Bake for 50-60 minutes until browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*Recipe courtesy of PaleoGrubs.com

Check out The Plant Paradox to rethink some of what you thought you knew about healthy eating.  I find it very interesting and does make sense with the struggles I’ve gone through.

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

Change Your Eating, Change Your Life!

Last week, I talked about how I needed to reevaluate my current nutritional intake and begin to make further changes to improve my health.  I am off for two weeks, so I have more time to read, learn and come up with a new plan of action.  My current goals are to: 1) Improve my health; 2) Improve my sleep; 3) Feel stronger; 4) Lose weight.  I have to accept that though I love to cook, my work schedule makes it hard to do much during the week.  I also admitted to myself that I do not wish to spend my entire Sunday, especially in nicer weather, cooking for the week and/or meal prepping.  I am looking to simplify my life, but make healthier choices by avoiding quick fixes.

I spent my first week off, reading and creating my plan of action for the remainder of the summer.  I will try out this routine while my work schedule is not a full one and hope that I can create some solid habits for when the school-year begins.  I mentioned last week, that I really liked a few of the recipes on the Paleogrub website.  They seemed to meet my criteria of healthy, simple and delicious.  Further, they do not require massive amounts of obscure ingredients.  In fact, I had many of the staples already on hand.  I decided to purchase the Paleogrub Cookbook and their ten week meal plan.  The meal plan is simple to follow and tells you exactly what you need to prepare all meals.  It gives you a specific plan for each day that includes recipes and directions for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The Paleogrub Cookbook is digital and once downloaded includes a search feature that is very helpful.  You can follow it exactly as written, or as in my case select the meals that you like.

I know that it is not realistic for me to think I will cook every single meal included in the daily plan.  Some days, I just want a smoothie for breakfast and that’s fine.  Also, what they say serves two people really serves my husband and I with enough leftover for lunch the next day, which is perfect for my work week.  Depending on how much you actually eat, I think you may not need all the lunches listed.  What I did this first week was preview the week and make a plan for what I wanted to cook.  I selected three dinners and one breakfast.  Knowing I will have leftover for lunch, I only selected one lunch this week simply because the photograph looked so appealing.  The plan also conveniently creates a shopping list for you, but I found that it included items for the entire plan as written for the week.  Since I am customizing, based on our personal likes and needs, I did have to modify the shopping list.  This was easy enough to do though, I simply emailed the list to myself and did an edit.

I do not make any money recommending this plan to you, I merely wanted to share that I thought it was good.  The meals are laid out separately by week and I downloaded them to my computer and now have them to return to.  I have noticed the scale moving down this week, which makes me happy.  I don’t feel hungry, or deprived and I feel like I look forward to both cooking and eating my meals.  Here are two recipes that I enjoyed eating this week.5E61D052-1C6F-4EF7-B01C-F7D8B8E13C6B

Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • For roasted carrots
    • 1 pound carrots (assorted colors or just orange ones) peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
    • ½ tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
    • 2 garlic, minced
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • Rest of ingredients
    • 2 small avocados, pitted and sliced or cut into chunks
    • 3 cups arugula or salad greens mix
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • ½ lime, juiced
    • salt, black pepper to taste

I followed this lunch recipe pretty much as written, with only two changes.  Instead of arugula, I used spinach and chopped romaine.  Additionally, I only used one avocado as I felt that was enough for us.  The salad had a bit of a kick as written, so either I added too much red pepper or it needs a bit less.  My husband loved the kick, so it was fine, but next time I will use a bit less red pepper.  I measured by eye, so it could be that I added too much.  Always adjust to your personal taste preferences.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Peel the carrots and cut them into ½ inch pieces.
  3. In a bowl mix the ground cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots and toss to combine.
  4. Spread the carrots into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 25 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl, place the avocado, arugula or salad greens and warm carrots.
  6. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and lime juice and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  7. Divide the salad between serving plates and serve.

This recipe made enough for two to eat salad with ample leftover for next day’s lunch.

ThaiPorkPatties

Thai Pork Burgers

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. minced pork
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green onions, finely chopped 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp honey

I followed the recipe pretty much as written, with just one change.  I was not able to find fish sauce and googled what a substitute could be.  I used coconut aminos in place of the fish sauce, but you can use soy sauce as well if you don’t have that on hand.

Directions:

  1. Heat the grill to medium heat.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl and stir well.
  3. Using your hand, form 6-8 small patties.
  4. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve hot.

I got four nice size patties out of a one pound package or organic ground pork.  This dinner recipe was enough for two with leftovers for lunch the next day.  The patties had a very nice taste.  We topped ours with a spoon of homemade paleo mayonnaise with a pinch of onion powder, garlic and cayenne pepper.

If you try either of these recipes, please let me know how you enjoyed them.  If you have a recipe to share, please leave me a message below.

 

To check out Paleogrubs recipes and meal plan, please visit their site at – Paleogrubs

 

 

Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

They say the third time is a charm.  I sure hope that’s true as I’m starting my marathon training for a third time next Saturday.  I hope that this time I can make it to the starting and finish lines.  I’ve been working hard on my functional strength training to avoid injury and on my nutrition.  I am full of optimism but won’t lie that my nerves are getting the best of me most days.  I’ve lost ten pounds to date, but need to lose a bit more to be back at my comfortable running weight.  I’ve been taking an online nutrition course and have been learning a lot about how my body responds to certain foods.  These past two weeks of eating plant based meals, with one to two animal based protein choices, has been interesting to say the least.  The one thing I’ve enjoyed most is learning how to cook new meals and the fact that the plant based versions take far less time to prepare than my normal fare.

Today is Sunday and generally we eat Sunday Sauce in one of its many versions.  Since I haven’t had any animal based protein today, I decided to have a shrimp dish I found on a paleo recipe site.  I’m super excited that I have all the ingredients and am ready to cook without a trip to the market.  Today’s Sunday dinner is just for my husband and I, as we saw the family yesterday at my future daughter in law’s birthday party.  Gracie and my son Stephen have known each other since they were freshmen in high school.  When he first brought her home back then, I knew she was the perfect girl for him.  She has those qualities our family looks for – funny, kind, down to earth and honest.  She’s also a great match for my son Stephen. We are more than thrilled that they were engaged at Christmas and are looking forward to a May 2019 wedding.A3ECB322-39C1-4651-83DB-7170B9B8DA5F.jpeg

I found several keto and paleo recipe websites and I’ve been selecting things that I want to cook.  Today’s recipe is a paleo based recipe I found at paleonewbie.com, but I modified it to fit the ingredients I had on hand in my home as tomorrow is my shopping day.  It had a great flavor and one of the spices is a favorite – Old Bay.   In under 30 minutes I had dinner on the table.  That is so far removed from the hours I generally spend on Sunday gravy. Most meals so far have been so easy and quick, that I don’t need to spend my Sundays meal prepping.  Maybe we will go for a nice walk outside today with the time saved.  (Disclaimer here – I still love my Sunday sauce recipe found here – Sunday Gravy )  I’ve just learned that I can eat a variety of other foods that may better fuel my training right now.

Shrimp & Sausage Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of medium or large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 6 oz of Hot Italian turkey sausage, sliced
  • 2 sliced red bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • Olive oil or unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil or unsalted butter
  2. Season shrimp with Old Bay SeasoningC1EABF88-31F8-4959-8C94-CF215439F957.jpeg
  3. Cook shrimp about 3-4 minutes until opaque – remove and set aside
  4. Cook onions and bell peppers in skillet with 2 Tbsp of olive oil or unsalted butter for about 4 minutes418C087F-4295-42B3-82F0-160592401093.jpeg
  5. Add sausage and zucchini to the skillet, cook another 5 minutes
  6. Put cooked shrimp back into skillet along with the garlic, and cook everything for about 5 minutes
  7. Pour chicken stock into pan and mix through
  8. Add salt, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
  9. Serve immediately

We ate ours plain, but you could serve this over salad, or zucchini squash.  It has a beautiful flavor and I bet will taste delicious tomorrow for lunch.67F21806-9752-42ED-AD56-4FD29BE52F43.jpeg