Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cheat Meals...Cheat Weeks

The past few weeks a very common topic on pretty much all of the blogs & Facebook clean-eating sites I follow has been about cheating on clean eating...what you do in xyz situation (i.e. parties, dinner out, travel, etc...).  I think this is a natural topic given the upcoming holidays and sugar-festivals (i.e. Halloween). 

When I began learning about Clean Eating I understood that this was a lifestyle change.  I was choosing to eat a certain way for health purposes, with the final goal being optimal health.  It was a hard transition but I finally made it to being mostly clean/raw and that lasted a few months - I was doing great, working out, losing weight, etc...  Then I started reading these articles about cheating.  I've long said if there's a way to cheat (on just about anything), I will find it.  So these discussions about cheating on Clean Eating planted seeds in my brain that "cheating is ok" and "as long as I'm doing well most of the week, a cheat meal is fine" and "cheating once doesn't ruin the whole day, it just ruins that meal... get back on-track with the next meal".  All of that is 100% true BUT those seeds planted in my head added to my sister's leaving the country for a week (she supplies me with a lot of my raw eating!) I started a really bad downward spiral.  A cheat meal turned into a cheat day which turned into a cheat week...   You get the picture.  Hence no blog posts for the past 2+ weeks.

That doesn't mean I've totally stopped eating properly.  It means I've eaten pizza, more pizza, Panda Express, hamburgers, and sugared coffee drinks occasionally through the last two weeks.  In comparison to how I used to eat, this is really nothing BUT I feel gross.  And I've gained 3 lbs (figures...right after posting my progress report).  And I know it's not right for my body.  So in essence, eating these things is sinning for me.  I know that God has made my body (A+ blood type) to eat a certain way and when I go against that, for me it's a sin.  Wow - that punches me below the belt (so to speak).

So today I sat down and re-evaluated what I've been doing wrong, what I was doing right that I've stopped doing, and what I need to change.  Then I got busy in the kitchen.  Step 1 for me to get back on the right track was to stock-up on the right foods so that I won't be as tempted to cheat.  Step 2 was to add back in 2 shakes a day.  I'd unthinkingly cut it back to 1 a day.  Here's what I prepared that will carry me through the next week:

Starting with the strawberries, going clock-wise, I made:

  • fruit dip (Greek yogurt, cream cheese, peanut butter, maple syrup and cinnamon)
  • walnut pate (walnuts, green onions, red bell peppers, celery, salt)
  • hummus (chick peas, garlic powder, tahini, salt, olive oil, lemon juice)
  • crunchies (i.e. granola...oats, chia, flax seeds, chocolate chips, honey, peanut butter)
  • peanut butter bars (granola, oats, honey, peanut butter)
  • Gingersnap Raw Cookie Dough Balls, middle item (almond butter, molasses, honey, ginger, coconut flour)
Color-wise, it's all monotonous.  But once I add other fruit, Kefir, chopped veggies and whole-grain tortilla chips to it, each item becomes a colorfest!  And they taste so different and are full of nutrition.  Now I'm stocked with my favorite foods and excited about the Clean Eating week to come!

On a side note, I've been having problems with my legs giving out on me as I walk.  I'm working out regularly and my muscles are getting strong so I was starting to worry a lot about this problem.  I finally went to the dr this week and she said it's compressed nerves.  So I followed up at the Chiropractor and he agreed - compressed nerves in my back.  He says after such a huge change in eating, exercise and weight loss, this is a very common side-effect.  So if someone is experiencing the same thing, don't worry - just get to the chiropractor!  He said, as you lose a lot of weight, your frame has to adjust to the different shape of your body and frequently nerves get caught in the process.  I'm going to add his office info into my Resources page, if you're in the West Valley of Arizona...great doctor!  Check him out (and if you go - please mention my name!  Amy I can participate in the referral program)!  (Avondale Health Center)

But the reason I mention this...both the doctor and the chiropractor said the way I've been eating is 100% correct and the way everyone should eat!  They said this nation eats WAY too much protein, processed foods, sugars and fast food.  And they both encouraged me to keep it up.  So...cheat meals will happen.  It's a fact of life.  But I'm not going to let a cheat meal turn into a cheat week again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Progress Report

I get asked a lot "So, is eating like this working for you?"  I think it's kind of a funny question because anyone who has known me longer than 10 months has seen the change in me physically.  So in a way it's a redundant question, mostly from sceptical people who don't want to have to do what I'm doing.  However, I am kind of excited to report today about some more milestones I've finally met. 

When working hard to be healthier and to lose weight, it's easy to get "stuck" and become discouraged.  You work and work and work and see no apparent those moments it's so hard to keep going.  It would be easier to give up and revert back to old (and bad) habits, and for years that's exactly what I would do.  But let me tell you...when you keep going and keep striving to attain those goals, it's so worth it in the end!  I'm not at the end YET but...It's still worth it! 

So the weather has turned cold(er)...if you can count 78 degrees as cold!  And yesterday I was beginning to wonder what on earth I'm going to wear when winter hits since ALL of my winter clothes are for a 40+ lb heavier me.  A few hours later a friend who is moving gave me a bag of pants and Capri's, most with tags still on (if you read this - THANK YOU!!).  They were size 10's (a BIG 10, she told me) but still...the number was 10.  The last 10 I fit into was my wedding dress 11 years ago!  And I bought it 6 months before my wedding and could hardly fit into it for my wedding.  I really didn't think I'd fit into these size 10 pants but thought they'd be a great motivation for me.  Last night I decided to see how much farther I had to go AND THEY FIT!!  Some were still a little tight but still THEY FIT!  I wore a pair to church today and could hardly believe my legs got into those things with room to spare!  THAT is a miracle!

Well, one of my big goals in this whole journey was to be able to wear my wedding ring again.  I "outgrew" it (if you know what I mean) during my first pregnancy 6 years ago and haven't been able to wear it since.  I tried it on 2 weeks ago and couldn't get it past my 2nd knuckle.  But yesterday I figured, what the heck...I got into size 10 pants, let's try on the ring.  AND IT FIT!!!!  I wore size 10 pants AND my wedding ring today!  Can you tell I'm excited?  And you want to know the craziest part?  I fell this week and sprained my foot and haven't been able to work out in 6 days.  It's funny how you work and work and see no results and then suddenly BAM they sneak up on you.

So if you've grown frustrated or discouraged, keep at it!  You can do this!  Keep your goals in sight.  Weight loss hasn't been my only goal attained.  I was digging through my bag today and found my inhaler.  10 months ago I was using it 2 times a day and, really, it wasn't helping at all.  I couldn't catch a breath for days on end, was seeing 3 specialists to figure out what was wrong, etc...  Now I can't remember the last time I used it.  Several months ago at least.  Clean/Raw eating has helped me overcome the asthma issues I struggled with for awhile.

So it's a pretty good progress report for this month! Share with me your progress for this month.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kids' Snacks

Autumn is totally in the air, and that's saying a lot for the Valley of the Sun.  Autumn around here is more like 2nd Spring.  Trees and bushes burst into bloom again, birds and ducks start flocking to the area and the weather cools to wonderful temps.  Strange things happen like, one day it's 104 as the high and the next it's 76.  Welcome to life in Phoenix!  So why am I not outside enjoying?  Honestly, all the great weather just makes me want to sleep!  So I'm doing the next best thing and that's catching up on my blog.

Kids' Snacks (I'm writing it in the plural since I have 3 of them!  Kids that is...)

This is a little harder topic than the "Snacks for Me" one.  I love trying new healthy things and then making a bunch and stocking my freezer so I can just pull something out on the fly and munch away.  (As I was just doing with my Muffin cookie slathered with clean icing!)  My kids are a LOT pickier and they generally don't like homemade foods.  This is my fault since I have spent most of their little lives stuffing them full of Jack In the Box, Taco Bell and various other processed and sugary foods.  Kids are no different than we are.  Their diet can't just be changed overnight.  If I've trained them to eat poorly that's my fault and it will take time to undo the damage I've caused.  They'll go through detox just like I did.  Step-by-step I continue to adjust their foods to be healthier.  It takes time and patience, both on their part and on mine.  My kids are slowly but surely getting there.  Foods that they used to call "Mommy Food" they now embrace as their own (i.e. oatmeal protein pancakes) and they've stopped asking me "What's in it?" every time I offer them something new.  BUT the battle isn't completely won, YET!

So finding snack food that they will eat and that is healthy and fast has become a huge mountain that I am bound and determined to overcome.  Here are some of the things we've found to date that are either organic and/or made with whole foods (no sugar, corn syrup, food coloring, preservatives, etc... this is what I look for...this is what I've found although I'm not totally positive on the preservatives and food coloring part).

Annie's...  We love just about anything that Annie's makes!  From their mac & cheese to the bunny fruit snacks, bunny crackers, bunny cereal.   Oh my goodness...if it has a bunny on the box my kids are ALL over it!  Costco used to stock Annie's products and that was the best price to get them at and in bulk, but recently I haven't seen them (such a bummer!).  I'm hoping that's a seasonal thing and that soon they'll be back on Costco shelves again.  Locally I can find Annie's products at Sprouts, Fresh & Easy and Fry's in the organic section.

Clif... Gotta love this guy!  Clif and Annie should seriously get married.  Imagine what kind of organic empire they could control!  I love the Clif Mojo bars, personally.  My son loves their chocolate chip bars so I'll often cut one in 1/2 and stick it in his school lunch.  But their Clif Kid Z Bar is just fabulous!  It doesn't matter what flavor, my kids will down them and they are very satisfying.  They also have a Kid Z Fruit Stick.  Easily portable, not too sticky, full of fruit.

Here you can see what I'm talking about with the Annie's and Clif Kid Z products:

Also pictured is the Bare Fruit dried apple chips and pre-packaged all-fruit leather.  Both I found at Costco.  I also get the freeze dried apple, pear and strawberry chips at Costco.  All pre-packaged and easy to grab on-the-go or pack in school lunches.

In the lower right corner of the photo are vegetable chips I buy at Sprout's.  They are cooked in oil but it's a decent kind of oil and the kids enjoy eating them.

Crunchies are also a snack my kids will never say no to.  I've posted the recipe before...basically it's homemade granola but I add extra honey to make it clump into bigger cookie-like pieces.  Someday I'll post the recipe on the watch!

My kids' have made the adjustment from Gogurt to Greek Yogurt.  Today we were in the store and my 6 yr old picked up the box of Gogurt and announced to everyone that we didn't eat it anymore because it has sugar in it.  Then she chose some honey Greek yogurt for her snack for later.

I can't end this blog on kids's snacks without mentioning fresh fruit and raw smoothies.  What healthier food is there than whole fruit...just whole fruit!  Bananas, apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries...either whole or blended in a smoothie.  It gets them the crunch they want, the sweet they want and satisfaction I want them to have.  My littlest (3 yrs old) guy's  new favorite snack is "blueberry milk".  Flavored Kefir in a cup with blueberries or raspberries floating inside.  He takes a spoon, digs the fruit out and drinks the rest.  SO good for his intestinal tract...and a combo of two "mega foods" in one snack.

I'm always on the look-out for other kid-friendly, healthy, clean (or almost clean), sugar-free snacks.  What have you found?  If it's a product or a recipe, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Kind of Snacks

Snacks are my very favorite topic in the whole world... because they're my very favorite foods in the whole world!  Through October I'll be posting about what I feed my family for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks.  But to be quite honest, snacks are probably 75% of what we eat so I figure I'll go ahead and start there.  However, this is such a HUGE topic, I'm breaking it into two posts.  Snacks for ME and Snacks for the Kids.  Of course I'm going with the ME ones first! :-)

When I first started Weight Watchers, finding snacks that fit the points I could have was very difficult.  I'm a grazer.  I'll eat all day if I can.  A bite here, a spoon there, a donut now, and another one, and another one...  You get the picture.  Starting WW and learning the points system made me realize I was eating in one day the amount of points I was allotted for an entire week!  I had to drastically change something.  I've already mentioned before that I'm the world's biggest Sugaraholic.  Sugar is (WAS!) literally my drug.  Figuring out how to snack my way through life in a healthy way became a huge challenge for me.  One I have, mostly, conquered! 

BUT it wasn't until I began to learn how to Eat Clean, and more specifically, eat Raw, that I found the key to overcoming my sugar intake issues.  The first Raw Foods party I attended was a cookie event (big shocker there!).  When Haley (Living Raw by Grace) talked about how she was a grazer and ate all day long, and COULD eat all day long because of eating Raw, I thought "this is the perfect way for me to eat!".  And I've not been able to get her words out of my head since.  I literally CAN snack my life away when I'm snacking Raw, and if not Raw, then Clean.

So...what ARE my favorite snacks?  Oh!  I'm so excited to tell you...and in some cases, show you!

Typically on a Sunday or Monday I'm low on snacks so I make out my list for the week of what I want to be eating.  And then I make a few both days to last me through the week.  The very first recipe I found that I loved was from Skinny "Fatkids".  It was called No-Bake Banana Berry Oat Bars.  Click HERE for photos and recipe.  These were so filling and so yummy that I decided snacking clean was going to be awesome!  And I went in search of more recipes.

I fell in love with The Gracious Pantry and Chocolate Covered Katie.  (click on either name to visit their sites - but don't forget to come back!)  I found a huge variety of raw, gluten-free cookie recipes on both sites.  I've made most of them and just love them!  In fact, here's one I made for this week:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Balls

The recipe for those came from Chocolate Covered Katie but I make them with my own little twist.  She also has a fabulous sugar-free, dairy-free ice cream recipe that is so fast to make, I've now developed a new daily addiction!

When I need a salty, crunchy treat I go for Kale Crisps.

I love fruit in smoothies but I really don't like just eating whole fruit.  It's not a viable snack to me.  So I found a wonderful recipe in The Clean-Eating Magazine a few months ago that I just loved.  It was originally a filler for French Toast but I thought it was amazing enough to use as a fruit dip.  So that's what I do!  Apples and Fruit Dip. (but unfortunately I don't have a photo...yet)

I don't know about you but my all-time favorite desserts ever are cupcakes.  I could eat a whole plate of cupcakes by myself...and I'm really not exaggerating here.  So I had to come up with a substitute for that.  I found an awesome recipe for pumpkin muffins (can substitute zucchini too).  They're great served with dinner and then I freeze the extra for snacking.  So one day I decided to try the fruit dip on top of the muffin and woilla! I had a cupcake!  And it was healthy!!

Back to the photos...  These Candied Pecans are easy to pack up and take on-the-go.  And they're so popular I just filled 3 orders for them from friends!

Crunchies have become a mainstay in my house.  I pour Kefir over and add berries, eat as cereal with milk, eat on top of Greek Yogurt...or just eat by themselves!  My kids find them packed in school lunches at least 2 days a week.

Then there are Breakfast Cookies, which are actually good any time of the day:

Hummus...which I love with raw crackers, sliced bell peppers, whole-wheat pita bread, etc...

Guacamole (with chopped cilantro and tomatoes) is an awesome snack with chopped veggies, raw chips, whole wheat pita bread, etc...

Homemade Lara Bars....

Well, I hope you're getting the picture that there are so many snacks to be enjoyed while eating Clean/Raw.  And all of these are 100% sugar-free and made with whole, natural ingredients.  I (almost) never leave the house without having something in my bag.  Most of these snacks are easy to pack-up and take on-the-go.  Over the next few months I'll post recipes for some of these snacks so that you can enjoy them too!

Pre-packaged Snacks

Whether I like it or not, there are just days/weeks where I don't have the time or energy to cook and/or pack up homemade snacks.  So I've chosen some pre-packaged snacks that I keep at-the-ready in the cupboard.  I usually have one of these hidden in my bag for emergency situations.

  • Lara Bars (I prefer the chocolate ones!)
  • Mojo Cliff Bars (or just about any Cliff Bar!)
  • Raw-Revolution bars

You can also see my Resources page for links to places that will make amazing snacks and ship them directly to your home.  Shops like Twin-Cakes Bakery (what I wouldn't do to get my hands on some of their recipes!) and Brad's Raw Foods (great raw crackers).

Share: What is your favorite healthy snack?