Does that now make me grilled chicken, broccoli and fresh spinach? haha!
So if you really are what you eat, wouldn't you rather be something healthy or clean? Not drenched in grease or sauce in order to be tasty? I mean really. We all shower daily so as not to be greasy. Just sayin'.
I was looking at my groceries in my cart at the store the other day and thinking about how different my cart looks from the way it did when I started on this journey. I get alot of questions about exactly what to eat - and I don't prescribe to any specific diet, but I will tell you that I try to follow a few simple rules when it comes to how I eat:
1) No processed foods. By "no" I mean "mostly no." Because I still like marshmallows from time to time. And I don't think they are really food. In all seriousness, think about the aisles at your local grocery store. Most are lined with boxed products or pre-cooked dinners. I know we live in a fast paced society but fresh is still best. It's not usually BOGO (buy one get one free) but eating food that is fresh and has less preservative in it is BFU (better for you - pronounced BuhFoo). And yes, I totally made that up.
2) Eat out rarely. I cook at home at least 6 nights a week. You may be saying, but I'm waaay too busy to cook that often. Well, I work at least 40 hours a week, drive almost 10 to get to and from work, exercise about 6 hours per week and still manage to keep my house decently clean and my family happy...and yes, I cook dinner almost every night. How? By planning in advance. Like tomorrow is payday so I will be making my menu for next week, then building my grocery list from that. I hardly waste any food anymore. And its so easy when you don't have to just wing it. Winging it leave you open to ordering takeout on a whim...which typically will not end with healthy decisions. Trust me, I know. We do have to eat out every Sunday after church since our church is almost an hour from home (my husband is the Pastor). But I always make healthy choices. Our favorite mexican restaurant near church serves grilled chicken and steamed broccoli.
3) Lots of fruits & vegetables. Apples are incredibly sweet to me now. I think because I don't eat as much refined sugar - now natural sugar tastes even sweeter. I also love bananas and strawberries. Favorite veggies include dark lettuce (the herb mix in the box is my absolute fave), fresh spinach, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, and brussel sprouts. I really love more veggies than that, those just happen to be my staples. Most will be found in my cart when I'm grocery shopping, depending on what is freshest. I try to have a serving of veggies at every meal and fruit at least twice a day.
4) Protein is your friend. Invite Carbs to the party too, though. Listen to me. Potatoes are NOT evil. It's what we DO to potatoes that makes them evil. I don't eat potatoes every day - but one of my favorite recipes is Loaded Baked Potato soup - and it is pretty healthy actually. It's when you eat huge honking servings of potatoes or fry them that carbs become the enemy. It's not potatoes' fault that we take advantage of them and make them unclean. (sorry this is getting out of hand, I'll stop, but I'm sure giggling over here). ok, seriously, I'm a fan of protein. I try to take in between 60-132 grams a day (per my SparkPeople recommendation). The days I eat more protein, are the days I end up in the lower end of my calorie range. One of my favorite protein snacks is Oikos Greek Yogurt - a 4oz serving has 19 grams of protein. Did you hear that? 19! My chicken and spinach enchiladas tonight had 52 grams of protein per serving. Nice! Protein makes you feel fuller so you eat less. Simple concept. But don't go all low carb on me - especially if you have a workout schedule like mine. Your body needs carbs. GOOD carbs. Like whole grains (no white bread!) whole wheat pasta, etc. With the food out there today there is no excuse for eating white anything that will turn to sugar. I'll take my sugar straight, thank you. :)
5) Don't treat every meal like it is your last. I think this is how I became so heavy in the first place. Every brownie I saw in every meeting was the last brownie I might ever eat. So I'd better get one. Today our offices were covered in boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts. These used to be an issue for me - in fact, I have to tell you this, I used to think the "hot fresh" sign being on meant it was fate and I HAD to get a donut. Ridiculous, I know. The last time I ate a KK donut was sometime last year and within 5 minutes I had a migraine. Back to the point, I know that when I cook something, or eat out somewhere, that I will eventually eat there again. It isn't the last time I'll ever get to try something. If something looks amazing, I might try a bite. But more than likely I won't if it isn'tpart of my day. And now I'm so used to making good choices its not really about them being "good" its about eating the way I eat - regardless of who wants me to supersize or try the new 256 ounce milkshake. I'm not on death row, this isn't my last meal, God promised there wouldn't be another flood, so you know what? It's grilled chicken for me here at La Leyenda. And I like grilled chicken so that works. :)
6) Just say no. This whole thing about not wanting to offend the cook - or make people feel bad when you don't eat something offered to you - GET OVER IT. Other people usually aren't trying to intentionally sabotage you - but in reality, we all know misery loves company, so if someone is going to "be bad" with what they eat, they don't want to do it alone. And the last thing they are thinking about is YOUR healthy lifestyle and YOUR goals. I don't at all feel bad for them. I was one of them. But guess what? My overall health is WAY more important than being someone's enabler or getting people to like me. By like a million times. So I say no alot. Sometimes I try stuff or say yes if I really want something. But by usually letting it be my idea, it never gets out of control. Last week a friend was heading out to pick up lunch and was getting cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes. I opted for a small cheeseburger and ate the apple I had brought. I tried a fry or two of theirs and reminded myself of why I didn't miss them in my regular food habits. Day ruined? Nope, I was within my calorie range. But my tummy troubles later tells me that its not worth going away from my plan. Darn the cold rainy day. I didn't plan my lunch well that day. And I paid for it. Just say no to the surprises most of the time and you'll do well.
7) Diet food is not your friend. Think about it. In the last 2 decades, TONS of money has gone down the drain buying low sugar, low carb, low fat diet food. And has America gotten skinnier. NO - WE HAVE GOTTEN FATTER. So, the diet food isn't working, folks. The only light things I buy are: light sour cream (as I happen to like the flavor) and I like part-skim ricotta when I'm making a lasagna. I eat REAL butter when I eat butter, not margarine (which is one molecule away from being plastic, did you know that?) and not buttery-like spreads. I also don't do light cheeses overall (excpet for low moisture part skim mozzarella which isn't really light but is lighter than full fat). Cheese that doesn't melt is just scary to me. We love cheese - we just eat full fat cheese in moderation. My overall rule - if the label has 3 or more ingredients that I either can't identify as food or pronounce without help, I don't eat it. So I end up avoiding lots of diet food for that reason - there is so much non food crap in it. Oh, and I can't do artificial sweeteners. No sugar free this or that, no aspartame, splenda, etc. as I found these are migraine triggers for me. If it isn't real food, it isn't good for you. And if it is diet food, chances are, it has lots of non food qualities in it.
So what is left for me to eat then? Gosh! Lets look at that.
Here is what this week's menu looked like for dinners:
Sunday - Loaded baked potato soup
Monday - Taco Salads (using leftover chili from the weekend)
Tuesday - Homemade whole grain mac'n'cheese with diced ham and broccoli
Wednesday - Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas
Thursday - Venison cube steak, asparagus and baked sweet potato fries
Friday - homemade pizzas loaded with veggies
Saturday - breakfast for dinner!
So after reading that, does it look like I'm a crazed diety person? No - you might even be looking at it and wondering how I lose weight. Well, its because every one of those recipes I've tweaked and made into a healthier version of what it used to be. I enter the ingredients on Spark people and let it calculate the nutrition info for me. It makes it that much easier to track my food. And my family LOVES the way I cook. Every meal has healthy elements, tastes awesome and everyone's happy.
What do I snack on between meals?
Here is a list of my favorite snacks:
*dry roasted almonds (1oz - sometimes just half an oz if I'm not too hungry)
*Cheese stick (mozzarella, low moisture, part skim)
*dried plums (yes, prunes, but don't be gross, they are good and good for you)
*Oikos Greek Yogurt, 4 oz container, Caramel flavored
*hummus and crackers or veggies
My favorite breakfast(s):
*Larabar - Chocolate Chip Cookie dough - these are completely natural with just a few ingredients. Dates, almonds, dark chocolate - yum. I order them in bulk from Amazon.com. I eat one of these along with a banana most days, or eat my yogurt an hour after the bar. They are great for being on the run and still being healthy.
*Healthy Quiche - this is a weekend thing as I don't always have time to cook breakfast during the week - it has spinach, feta, mushrooms, eggs and whole wheat tortillas. So good and half a quiche is only 300 calories. Will share that recipe one of these days. :)
My favorite regular treats:
*dark chocolate - I either throw a bag of dark chocolate hershey kisses in the freezer and eat a few at a time (remember a serving is 9) or I break a square off of a bar I keep in the pantry. The freezer thing is safer, just fyi... :) I eat dark chocolate EVERY day. In moderation.
*hot tea - my current fave is apple cinnamon, but I also love peppermint and lemon and earl grey and berry flavored. tea is the bomb. And since I don't do artificial sweeteners, I take the 15-30 calories (one or two teaspoons) of real sugar and its perfect for me.
*hot cocoa - when I don't have the calories left for a piece of dark chocolate but really want something chocolate-y.
So there you have it - a list of some of my personal food guidelines and the foods I eat. Scroll down and I'll give you the recipe I made up for my Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas. I'll get a picture with the next recipe but trust me - these are yum.
Clara's Chicken & Spinach Enchiladas
3 Chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1 can plain tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
1 packet taco seasoning (working on making my own but in the meantime...)
2 cups fresh spinach
6-8 tortillas (depends on how full you want them)
1 can green enchilada sauce
1.5 cups shredded cheddar (we like sharp)
Light Sour Cream
In the morning place the first 4 ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for at least 4 hours. Preheat oven to 375. Spray down a glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Shred the chicken in the slow cooker and mix up well. Shred the fresh spinach and mix into the chicken mixture. Spoon the mixture into a tortilla, roll it up and put the open side down into the dish. Line them up in the pan. Pour the can of enchilada sauce evenly over the enchiladas, then add the cheese evenly over it all. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of light sour cream. You can add chicken and tortillas if you have more people to feed than I do (just me, my hubby and my 7 year old girl). We love leftovers, so I always make things that have around 6 servings in them.