Step away from the diet.

Too many people are on a perpetual diet.  Constantly being a slave to a reduced intake.

The problem is you cannot always be on a diet. Diets are not meant to be a long term thing and they stop working if you are on them too long.

News flash: your body does not give two poops about your physique goal. It actually does not want you to be lean.  The body wants homeostasis, and it will do just about anything to maintain that.

According to Dictionary.com: homeostasis is the tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes.

Also known as why the eff does our body make this so freaking hard!?

The good news is there is an easy thing you can do. You can trick the body into not maintaining homeostasis and take a break from dieting at the same time. This wonderful thing is called maintenance mode.

In order to maintain homeostasis our bodies will start to compensate for the reduced caloric intake.

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Mmmm, berries. 

It’s not so neat.

One way this happens the body naturally decreases its NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis).  NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or planned exercise. It is the mindless fidgeting, toe tapping, walking and playing that we do day to day. It is not planned movement, but the activity we unconsciously or spontaneously decide to do.

When we decrease the energy we put in our bodies, our bodies will decrease the energy it expends (In other words: eat LESS burn LESS). There will be less walking, less unplanned movement.  Even something as simple as tapping your foot or twitching your fingers while working can be decreased.  These movements don’t seem like much, but they add up. NEAT can account for 15-50% of your daily caloric burn. (That could be roughly anywhere from 200-900 calories!)

Increased Perceived Exertion

While on a diet, especially long term, eventually our workouts can suffer.  You will no longer be burning the same amount of calories as you previously were even though the workout may feel harder.  When we are in a caloric deficit or super low carb for a period of time we tend to have a higher perceived rate of exertion (how hard a workout feels). We think we are kicking butt in the gym when in actuality we’re not. Caloric deficits (and extreme low carbing it) can also enhance fatigability which make us feel tired and we think the workouts feel harder than it really is.

I’m hungry.

When in a deficit appetite will go up, this is true especially for women. Leptin is the hormone responsible for our hunger signals.  As our body fat decreases, our leptin increases.  Increased leptin means we feel hungrier.  (Remember our body wants us back at the previous weight, and it is telling you to eat to get back there.)

What often happens when the appetite ramps up, we eat. Sometimes we are not even aware we are consuming more food. Cravings can become more intense, and those occasional indulges become less occasional.

When our appetite is high we tend to indulge in more licks, bites and nibbles.  Like licking the peanut butter off the knife. Having a bite of the kids’ dessert. Nibbling on some leftovers while pondering what to make for dinner. Individually those things don’t seem like much (and there not) but repeatitively they add up! And when leptin is high the tendency is to have more licks, bites and nibbles, sometimes without even being aware of them.

How your body reacts will be unique to you, but here are some signs you’ve been on a diet too long and it’s time to back away:

  • You’ve been in a caloric deficit for 12 week (or longer).
  • Your progress has stalled.
  • There has been a loss of strength.
  • You’ve started showing signs of hormone disruptions. (blood sugar swings, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you are retaining more water.)
  • Ladies your menses may have changed.
  • Loss of libido.
  • Loss of appetite OR feeling like you are absolutely ravenously starving and unable to feel full.
  • Cravings are through the roof, and they may be uncontrollable at times.
  • Binge eating
  • Mental fog, grumpiness
  • Physique is starting to look flat and deflated or puffy and swollen.

So, what do you do now? Back away from the diet!

SERIOUSLY TAKE A BREAK.

Maintenance is where the magic happens.

You need to return to maintenance mode. Maintenance is the amount of food you need to eat to stay at your current body weight.  (Not where you hoped to be. Not what you needed to eat in high school. But what you need to eat with your body as it is today.)

The pros to maintenance mode:

It gives your body a break

It gives your mind a break (which allows the next time your diet to be easier)

Now maintenance mode is NOT a free pass. It is not a time to go crazy.  Absolutely do not think of it as a cheat.  Or as a chance to eat all the things. It is maintenance. (if however, you find you cannot stop binging during maintenance mode, your previous diet may have been too restrictive).

Diet with maintenance

A very fancy and non scientific line graph demonstrating how much better it is to include periods of maintenance in you life.

Two ways to approach this.  Calorie and macro counting or intuitive eating.

Intuitive Eating

The easiest way is to return to a more intuitive way of eating.

The rules are simple:

  1. Eat when hungry, but before you are starving.
  2. Eat protein at every single meal. (Men should aim for 6-8 servings/day and women need 4-6 day)
  3. Stop eating BEFORE you are full.
  4. Load your plate with lots of veggies and fruit. (6-8 servings a day!)
  5. Fill the rest in with healthy carbs and fat.

The trick is you really need to listen to your body.  Especially your hunger and fullness cues.  That is when your body tells you it is hungry, before you get hungry. And it tells you to stop eating BEFORE you feel overly physically full. If you and your body haven’t been on good speaking terms lately then food tracking may be a better choice for you.

Food tracking.

This would be setting a prescribed set amount of calories and macros and logging your daily intake.  This takes more work, but it is best if you don’t have great appetite cues (ie: you don’t know when you are hungry and or when you are almost full)  or you just prefer tracking.

1st: make sure you are consuming enough protein.  If you are consuming less than .8 grams/LB of body weight bring that up first. (Ex. If you are 150 pounds 150x.8=120)

Once you have been eating at least .8g protein/Lb for 2 weeks, then assess your carbs and fat.

Pick one, either carbs or fat to bring up. (If your fat intake is under 35 grams start there otherwise start with carbs.)

You can bring up the fat up by for 10-20 grams or carbs up by 25-50 grams.  Continue to eat that amount for 2 weeks.

Watch your weight, measurements and progress photos.  Objectively watch your body (this is hard and can help to have a second opinion). Using mainly scale weight and progress photos, once you notice you are no longer losing weight and it is holding steady, you are in maintenance mode.

Optimally  you’ll stop increasing your intake right before you start to gain weight back, but if not it is no biggie just back pull back a little. (If you were low carb editing, I don’t recommend just going by scale weight, as an increase in carbs can cause the numbers to creep up BUT it is not fat, just the body replenishing glycogen)

Once you hit maintenance you should try to hang out there for at least 2 weeks.

Both methods can work, you just need to chose the best that works for you.

So, quit trying to white knuckle it through your perpetual diet and take a break! You will find that you will bust through that plateau and then next phase of dieting is even easier to adhere to.

 

If you would like more personalized help, fill out the contact form and I will get back to in 24 hrs and we can chat about your personal situation.

Low Carb, High Protein Make-ahead Zucchini Fritters.

Need an easy grab and go breakfast when the morning rush got you like whoa? I got you covered with these make ahead low carb high protein zucchini fritters.

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These zucchini fritters make for an easy on the go breakfast option.

These make-ahead zuke fritters are not only great straight out of the pan they are also pretty delicious cold from the fridge the next day. (And the day after that too!)

You can eat them as they are (may I reccomend a sprinkle of salt and dash of hot sauce?) or as a bun for a sausage patty. I personally eat them alone, one handed. Usually while rushing to get my oldest to the bus stop on time.

They can make a nice lunch too. As an accompaniment to a BAS salad or bowl of soup.

My favorite part of them is their volume.  One serving is eight fritters. Yes, EIGHT! They make me feel like I am eating much more than I am, helping to keep my full for hours.  If 8 fritters seems like too much for you, no problem! Just have a half serving.

Alright, let’s get to it:

 

Low Carb, High protein Zucchini Fritters
  • 2 Tb coconut flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 TB egg white
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 large zucchinis, grated (should be about 4 cups)

 

  1. After grating the zucchini, using a paper towel squeeze out the excess water. (The drier you can get it the better).
  2. Using a whisk (or fork) beat the eggs, whites, coconut flour, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and pepper.  (The coconut flour will want to clump, just keep whisking).
  3. Heat a large skillet over med high heat and spritz with cooking spray.
  4. Using a ¼ cup OR an ice cream scoop, scoop and put in hot pan. Light press them out, into a 4 in pancake. (my skillet can only hold 4 at a time, so plan to be batch cooking).
  5. Cook for 3-4 mins per side.
  6. When done, set on paper towel to cool. If storing, wait till fully cooled. Blot again with paper towel and store in fridge for 3-4 days.

Makes 16 4 inch fritters.

Nutrition for 8 (YES, that’s right I said EIGHT fritters): Calories: 260 Fat:14g Carbs: 12g Protein: 22g

 

Inspired by Zucchini Pancakes in Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

 

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Quick and Easy on the Go Protein

It happens to be back to school time around these parts, and I know (first-hand) how chaotic mornings can be.  So real quick I wanted to share with you one of my meal preps that help me have a healthy breakfast even when we are running late and no one can find their shoes. (Seriously, what is it with the shoes?!)

All you need is a carton of egg whites, silicon muffin tray, spray oil and an oven.  If you are a bulk store shopper (like at Costco or Sam’s) you can buy a case of egg whites and freeze them.  Then each week I just take out what you need.

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Easy peasy and versatile egg whites

These egg white muffins will cook in 15 minutes and will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 5 is days.

These little unassuming things are incredibly versatile.  They are pretty bland, but that is part of what makes them so versatile.  If you wanted you can easily add fresh veggies or meat and cheese to them.

I personally like to put one or two on an English muffin with a slice of Canadian bacon and eat while sitting in the school carpool lane.  Sometimes I even enjoy them straight from the fridge with a generous sprinkle of salt.

You can also put them in a burrito, add to a sandwich, or smear them with avocado or hummus.

 

Each patty has only 17 calories with 4 grams of protein.

Easy Peasy Make Ahead Egg White Thingies
  • 1 12 oz carton liquid egg whites
  • Spray oil
  • Silicon muffin tray or silica muffin liners (I don’t recommend
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Spray silicon muffin tray (or regular tray with silicon liners) with spray oil.
  3. Pour equal amounts egg whites into each tray.Cook for 15-18 minutes. They are done with the tops are fully set (I prefer mine to start to get a little crispy around the edges.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes.  Once cool blot with paper towel and store in sealed container in t

Cinnamon Bun, 5 Minute, High Protein Mug Cake

Mug Cake Monday again!

Today we have a high protein, 5-minute cinnamon bun mug cake.

China-bun Mug Cake

5 minute, high protein, cinnamon bun mug cake!

Just like last week’s mug cake, this baby can be made in the microwave in just over a minute and they are a great pre workout meal. (If you missed last weeks, we had a double chocolate peanut butter one you can go check out here.)

I am a big advocate for fueling your workout. Optimally, 1-2 hours before your workout you should have a meal that consists of carbs and protein.  In most cases 25-50 grams of carbs, 15-30 grams of protein and less then 10 grams of fat. This mug cake fits the bill.  Plus, it is freaking delicious.

This mug cake has 14 grams of protein, for those who need more pre workout, a scrambled egg white or a glass of skim milk is a perfect accompaniment.

By supplying your body with fuel before your workout, you are more likely to work out harder and in turn get a better workout, than if you were to do it fasted.  Multiple studies have shown there is no great benefit to fasted training. [1][2]

Again, I used Kodiak Cakes power cake mix since it is higher in protein.  You can use any pancakes mix that you want, just know it will alter the nutritional breakdown.  I have even made these with Enjoy Life’s allergy free pancake mix and they came out great.

5 min Cinnamon Bun Mug Cake

Cooking spray

½ cup Kodiak power cake mix

1 tsp coconut sugar (any sweetener of choice will work here)

½ tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp melted coconut oil

¼ cup cashew milk (and dairy like beverage would work)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

 

  1. Generously spray the insides of a large microwave safe mug with cooking spray.
  2. Mix in pancake mix, 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In separate microwave safe cup mix milk, oil and vanilla. Heat in microwave till coconut is melted.
  4. Add the liquids with dry ingredients. Gently mix till just combined, making sure in mix in all the dry power off the bottom of the mug but do over stir!
  5. Top with additional cinnamon and sugar and cut in with a knife.
  6. Microwave at 75% power for 90 seconds.
  7. Let stand for 1 min, then enjoy!

 

Nutrition for one mug cake:  275 calories 41 carbs 8 fat and 14 protein

 

Works Cited

[1]Paoli A1, M. G. (2011). Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 48-54.

[2]Schoenfeld B., A. A. (2014). Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 54.

5 Minute, High protein Cinnamon BunMug Cake

 

5 Minute Double Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

For the next few Mondays, I will be sharing different high protein mug cake recipes, because sometimes Mondays just need some cake!

Double chocolate mug cake w/ PB frosting

Chocolate cake in just 5 mins!

Mug cakes are just that, a cake made in a large coffee mug!

To keep the protein high in these I use Kodiak Powercakes Mix, it has 14 grams of protein per serving and can be found at major grocery stores (including Costco, Target and Amazon).

You can use any pancake mix you want (including gluten free.  I have even made these with Enjoy Life’s pancake mix).  Just know different mixes will change the nutrition.

Now for that cake…

5 min Double Chocolate Mug Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup Kodiak Cake Power Mix
  • 1 Tb Cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar (any sweetener of choice will work here)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cashew milk (can use any unsweetened milk)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 2 TB mini chocolate chips
  • 2 Tb PB2 (defatted dried peanut butter)
  • 1.5 Tb water

 

  1. Spray an extra-large microwave safe mug liberally with cooking spray.
  2. In mug, mix Kodiak Cake mix, Cocoa, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate dish warm the cashew milk and coconut oil in the microwave (the oil should be melted but not boiling)
  4. Add the vanilla to the warm milk. Stir.
  5. Gently pour the liquids into the mug and stir gently. Mix till just combined (Do not over stir, or it will be tough.)
  6. Fold in chocolate chips
  7. Microwave at 75% power for 90 seconds. Let stand in the microwave for 1 min.
  8. While that nukes, mix the PB2 and water. Use as much water as you need to make a frosting like consistency.
  9. Gently side a knife around the edges of the cake and dump it on to a plate
  10. Frost with peanut butter frosting
  11. EAT CAKE!

 

Nutrition for the whole dang thing:

335 calories, 48 grams carbs, 9 grams fat, 20 grams protein

Slow Cooker Blueberry Crumble, Gluten free and Vegan

Vegan Gluten Free blueberry slow cooker crumble

Or is it a cobbler? Or a crisp? I don’t know. I’m not sure if it’s the that fact that all those words start with the letter c, but I cannot ever keep them straight.

So, I consulted The Kitchn. According to them:

Cobblers generally have biscuit topping dropped on the fruit. Crisps and crumbles are very similar.  They both contain fruit and streusel like topping. They only difference is crisps contain oats and crumbles do not.

That settles it! This is a blueberry crumble then.

A vegan gluten free slow cooker crumble no less!

I recently made this desert for my husband’s birthday. I happened to post in on my insta stories and got tons requests for the recipe.  I decided instead of messaging everyone with the recipe I would just post it here.

Note this is not, low calorie, low fat or low carb. But it is damn delicious! And what is life without some dessert every now then.  We are all about moderation over here.

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Fruit cobblers are perfect way to use up summer’s berries.  I used blueberries in this, but I don’t see why you couldn’t sub out any other berry.  You may need to double check the sweetness, however, if you do.

Now let’s be honest, in the dead of summer do you really want to turn on your oven for an hour? Not me.  So, I recreated this quintessential summer dish using the slow cooker. It took 3 hours on low in mine, but if your tend to run a little cooler it may take longer.

This dish is both vegan and gluten free. And white it does contain nuts, it could easily be adapted to be nut free also.

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This is not an overly sweet dessert.  If you would like it sweeter, add more maple syrup to the berries. Or if you want a sweeter topping, add more sugar.  I have tested it with up to twice the amount of sugar, we just prefer less sweet around here.

Gluten free Vegan Slow Cooker Blueberry Crumble

Cooking spray (I prefer coconut oil spray)

2 pints blueberries

2 Tb arrowroot powder

4 Tb maple syrup, divided

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tb lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 1/3 cups Oats, old fashioned or rolled (not quick oats)

½ cup Almond flour (could sub out gluten free flour if avoiding nuts, but I didn’t try it.)

1/2 cup Sugar (both cane sugar or coconut sugar will work)

¼ cup chopped pecans

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tb COLD coconut oil (if it warm where you are, throw in the freezer for 5 mins till it firms up)

 

  1. Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Dump in 2 pints of blue berries.  Try not to eat them all.
  3. Toss the berries with the arrowroot powder, lemon zest, lemon juice and 3 Tb of the maple syrup.
  4. In a separate bowl make the crumble topping. (the best part IMHO)
  5. Mix oats, almond flour, sugar, pecans and salt.
  6. Using your hands, mix in coconut oil till crumbled. Taste test and adjust sweetness if needed, but try not to eat it all. Seriously try hard.
  7. Sprinkle the crumble on top of blueberries and drizzle the remaining 1 Tb of maple syrup on top.
  8. Cook on low for 3 hours.
  9. After 3 hours, turn of the slow cooker and let it sit for 15 mins.

Serve with a scoop of dairy free whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

 

Nutrition for 1/8th the recipe (not including the whipped topping/ice cream):

 

343 calories. 18 grams fat. 46 grams carbs. 5 grams protein

recipe is adapted from Minimalist Bakers Grain-Free Berry Crisp

Slow cooker, gluten free, vegan

Plant Based Protein Powder Review

Let’s be honest it is no secret that plant based protein powders can taste like butt.  It is easily the number one complaint I hear about them.  The number two complaint is the belief that plant based proteins are not as healthy as animal based ones.  It’s time to put those complaints to rest.

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Strawberry Banana smoothie made with our new favorite plant based protein powder

My kids and I went on a mission taste tested over 20 plant based protein powders in hopes of finding a good one. It was A LOT harder than expected.  We ended up having to take an extended break from testing tasting, because some of the powders were just so bad the kids began refusing to try any more. In the end we did find a couple that not only we liked, but they now are in regular rotation in our diets. Scroll on down to see our picks.

 

First off, its important to know: no matter what your goals are, consuming adequate amounts of protein is imperative. Regardless, if you are aiming for fat loss, muscle gain, better performance or just to look better/feel better you need protein.  (For more info on protein in the diet, including how much you should eat, check out my previous article here).

But why powdered protein?

Powdered protein supplements can be helpful when you struggle to get enough protein in your diet from whole foods.  (*You should always aim to meet your needs with whole 1st first!)

They are just so dang convenient. What other protein can you just throw in your gym bag or purse and go? Chicken breast? Not quite.

Are plant based proteins as good as animal based?

Short answer, yes. The biggest con is their taste and texture.  They tend to taste like dirt and have a gritty mouth feel (hence why we went on this massive taste testing mission. The good news we did discovered one that tastes good, doesn’t have a funky after taste and isn’t gritty)

Plant proteins may not be as rich in some amino acids as animal proteins, like whey and egg. They also are slightly less digestible. Proteins are evaluated on a scale from 1-0 based on their amino acid content and digestibility known as their protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS). The animal based ones (whey, egg, casein) all score a 1, as does soy.  However, the plant based sources score a little lower.  Pea isolate is .89, and rice is .5 and hemp is a .46

What about complete protein?  So, the bro at your gym told you they are waste because they are not a complete protein?  Tell that bro to read up in his science.  True some do not have complete amino acid profile when they are consumed alone. (Complete amino acid profile means they contain the 9 essential amino acids. Essential amino are the ones we must get from our diet, as our body cannot make them.)  As long as you are eating a variety of protein sources, you will get all the amino.  If this is something that especially concerns you, look for powders that have combined pea and rice as they each supply the other’s lacking amino acids and together make a complete protein. Or consider soy. Soy is a complete protein on its own.

Ok then, knowing all this why choose plant based protein?

Allergies, intolerances, variety, ethical reasons.

If you are allergic or intolerant to animal proteins, you will need a plant based one.

You probably already know if you are allergic to an animal protein but just in case if you experience any of the following: hives, itching, eczema, tightness in throat, swelling then those are clear sign you need to avoid that protein (and consult with a medical doctor, duh)

If you are lactose intolerant. If you experience nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains or excessive burping or flatulence after consuming a dairy based protein, you may be lactose intolerant.

If you find yourself feeling bloated, stuffy/congested, excessive mucus production or general stomach upset after consuming a protein powder (dairy especially) those are all signs you may be intolerant.

And ethical. Many people choose to avoid animal based proteins based on ethical and environmental beliefs.

In the end, variety is the spice of life. As long as you get a variety of sources of protein throughout your day you are golden.  Not only will your decrease your risk of developing intolerances you also will get a balanced nutrition.

You can develop intolerances later in life, so just because you did well with dairy in your 20’s doesn’t guarantee you can handle in in your 40’s.  There are studies out there showing people who do not have variety in their diet (especially with protein) are more opt to develop intolerances later on. So mix it up.

What to look for when picking a plant based protein?

Watch out for powders called meal replacement powders (MRE). Usually they will be very high in carbs/ sugars and fats.  I am in the camp of adding in my own carbs and fats to my personal liking or needs.  Also this enables us to mix it up not get bored with any one flavor. Chocolate peanut butter today strawberries and cream tomorrow! Also since plant based powders tend to taste like dirt, a lot of companies will add in extra sugars and fats to help make them more appeasing.

Watch those ingredient lists, especially if turning to plant based proteins due to intolerances or allergies. Many brands have a huge list of extra ingredients.  Anything from a complete vitamins and minerals to a bucket list of “super foods”.  The longer the list the bigger the chance of having a reaction. (FYI if you are also avoiding gluten, be very wary of any product that contains wheat grass. And a lot of these powders do contain wheat grass.  Long story short it is VERY difficult for a company to produce truly gluten free wheat grass. But that is another story for another day)

Our Winner winner vegan dinner.

We decided to only test pea, rice and hemp brands and skip soy proteins.  Many people who are intolerant to dairy are also intolerant to soy.  Also soy proteins just don’t taste as bad as the other plant based powders.

All taste tests were conducted the same.  One serving protein of vanilla flavored plant based protein mixed in a blender with 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries and 6-10 oz. plain unsweetened cashew milk.

DSC_0054In the end the family unanimously agreed that Garden of Life SPORT was the winner. (Be warned, however, there were two other Garden of Life brand proteins that ranked as the worst).

This protein was tasty enough, we were even able to use it in making a healthier, higher protein, lower carb Chex Muddy Buddies by subbing out half the  powder sugar with protein powder.

higher protein lower carb Chex Muddy Buddies

A higher pro, lower carb muddy buddies by subbing 1/2 the powder sugar with Garden Of Life plant based protein powder.

 

Runner up:

Vega One All-in-one came in second place. I personally was not a fan, but the kids were ok with it.  I felt it has a funky after taste.  Who knew I would be the picky one in this.

 

In the end remember:

Variety is good.

Don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to benefit from including plant based proteins.

And contrary to internet bro science you can still gain lean muscle mass while consuming plant based proteins.

Just watch those ingredient list and nutritional breakdowns.

 

 

One Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Canadian Bacon and Egg Breakfast (Paleo friendly, Wheat free, Dairy free)

Mornings are tough.  Eating healthy in the mornings can be even tougher.  The real trick to a smooth morning is prepping as much as possible the night before.

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Since we don’t need to make the morning any more hectic, this recipe  only dirties one pan. Less clean-up is always a win. Plus, it doesn’t require constant supervision while cooking.  Freeing you up to do other, more important things.  You know, like convincing children to put on their clothes. Or taking a shower.

For this one pan brekkie, prep the Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and ham the night ahead.  You can even prep the ingredients a few nights ahead of time.  The trick is using time when you have it available. I personally like to do some prep work every night while I am cleaning up from dinner. The kitchen is already in disarray so I won’t have to clean it twice.

But veggies for breakfast?!

We really need to be eating vegetables at every single meal.  Yes, that includes breakfast. Not only do they provide much needed micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient) they also can help us feel full and have less cravings later in the day.

Vegetables are relatively low in sugar while being high in water and fiber.  Both water and fiber can help us to feel full. When we feel and satisfied not only are we less likely to overeat. Also when we regularly include fibrous veggies in out meals we naturally will eat less of the more calorically dense foods.

Where’s the grain?

Not everyone does best with grains based breakfasts.  Some people find, when they start their day off with certain foods, even if they are generally considered healthy, their cravings are more ravishing all day long.  The trick is to experiment and find what works best for you.  You may find that by omitting grains (cereals, toast, oatmeal) you feel better. Or perhaps, you may feel hungry all day long if you forgo your usual grain based breakfast.  Try both and find what works well for you.  If it turns out you need those grains in the morning, just swap out the sweet potatoes in this recipe for a slice of toast.

 

Roasted brussels sprouts, sweet taters, Canadian bacon and eggs
One Pan Brussels Sprouts, Sweet taters, Canadian bacon and eggs

 

1 lbs Brussel sprouts

1 Tb olive oil

Salt

2 cups chopped diced Sweet potatoes (about 200 grams, or one large)

8 oz Canadian Bacon (look for a lower fat variety, like Niman Ranch or Boars head)

4 Eggs

 

The night before:

Chop clean and prep the Brussel sprouts. Cut the bottom of and cut in half.  Throw in the fridge.  Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.  Throw in pot of water and boil till JUST for tender.  (I like to do this to a bunch of potatoes, then I have them ready all week long). Chop the Canadian bacon. Place all prepped items in fridge.

 

In the morning:

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt.  Spread out on pan, in a single layer.  Put in oven for 15 mins. This is a great time to hop in the shower, make coffee or try and convince the children to put clothes on.

After 15 mins give them a stir.  Toss in Canadian bacon and sweet taters. Cook for 10 mins.

Remove from the oven and make four wells, and spritz the wells with cooking spray.  Crack eggs in to wells and put back in the oven.  Depending on how you like your eggs cook 5-10 mins.  (I found at 10 minutes the yolks were fully set)

 

Nutrition for ¼ the pan:

298 calories. 28 grams of carbohydrates. 11 grams of fat. 25 grams of protein.

 

one pan roasted

 

Deconstructed Taco Salad Bowl with an Avocado Lime Dressing (Dairy Free, Wheat Free, Egg Free, Paleo Friendly)

 

Let’s get straight to the point; tacos are delicious. The problem with tacos is not only can they can be calorically dense but they also tend to be lacking in the vegetable department.  One way to combat this: turn your tacos into a deconstructed taco salad bowl.

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Taco salad bowl with a dairy free and egg free avocado lime dressing.

Even with the bowls, however, you have to watch those toppings. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado and the deep fried shell all add up fast.

Here are a few ways you can lighten up your taco bowl:

  • Replace deep fried high fat shell with homemade chips (if paleo, replace with plantain chips.)
  • Replace multiple high fat toppings with an avocado-lime dressing.
  • Replace high sodium taco seasoning with homemade.
  • And add in lots of veggies.
homemade_chips

Homemade tortilla chips have less fat and carbs then store bought chips.

To assemble your bowls, just fill with whatever veggies you have in your fridge.  I like a mix of romaine and spinach. Then I throw in some tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas (for that crunch!), bell peppers, green onions.  Add meat of your choice. I used ground beef for this one, but flank steak or chicken breast with some tex mex seasoning goes great (Check out my tex mex seasoning on Instagram here). Drizzle some avocado lime dressing over it, maybe a little pico de gallo or salsa and grab a handful of homemade chips. And there you have it, a healthier more satisfying version of your standard taco.

Recipes

For the chips:

Corn tortillas

Spray coconut oil

Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cut tortillas into triangles or strips
  3. Spritz with oil and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Cook for 8-10 mins.  Keep an eye on them, they can burn quickly.

 

Taco Meat:

2 pounds extra lean ground beef or turkey.

½ onion finely diced.

3 garlic cloves

1 Tb cumin

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp oregano

2 tb tomato paste

1 cup tomato sauce

  1. In a large, deep sided skillet brown the meat. Breaking it up into small pieces. Add onion garlic and seasonings. Cook till onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Cover and cook on med low for 1/2 hour. Taste and add salt and spices as needed. (This recipe is kid friendly so it is very mild.)

 

For the Avocado lime dressing:

1/3 cup nondairy plain unsweetened creamer (I used the Nutpod brand, but you can replace with a mixture of coconut milk and nut milk.)

1 avocado

1 bunch of cilantro

1/2 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

2 scallions

1 tb olive oil

juice from 1 lime.

  1. Throw everything into the blender and blend till nice and creamy.  You may need to add a few tablespoons water to thin it out to desired consistency.

 

 

 

 

THE NEW YOU

Simple Extra Crispy Oven Roasted Chicken Quarters

Poor, poor chicken. It gets so hated on.  Too dry. Too plain. Too boring. Well yeah, I suppose it could be all those things if you don’t do anything to it and just threw it in the oven.  With a little creativity chicken can be great again.

One of the problems with chicken, is we tend to always reach for the same cut of meat.  It is a good idea, not only for the taste buds, but also for our bodies to mix that up once in a while.

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The extra crispy skin on these chicken leg quarters make it extra tasty. 

Dark meat gets a bad rap as being less healthy then white meat. While dark meat does have more fat, it also has more iron, zinc, niacin and riboflavin.  Plus, it does not have a huge amount more fat.   100 grams of chicken leg, roasted without the skin has 8 grams.  While 100 grams of cooked chicken breast without the skin has 4 grams.  The trick here is not to serve chicken legs with a fatty side dish.  If you are serving chicken legs, you need to consider the meat your protein and fat source for the meal.

Now about that chicken skin.  It is crispy and delicious. It’s super fatty and unhealthy, or is it?

One chicken leg roasted with the skin on has 9 grams of fat (3 grams coming from saturated fat) and that same chicken leg cooked without the skin has 5 grams of fat (1 gram saturated).  So, yes it does have more fat, but not tons more.  In the end, it really is ok to eat the chicken skin occasionally!

If you are still uncomfortable with that amount of fat you can do skinless. Just do not by the overpriced skinless meat.  Remove the skin yourself and you can save quite a bit of money.  I find it easiest to grip the skin with a paper towel and pull. However, when roasting or grilling the meat I advise you do not remove the skin off before cooking. Cooking with the skin intact helps keep the meat tender and flavorful. You can remove it prior to eating.

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Below is my simple chicken quarters recipe, but it would also work for chicken breast.  You might balk at the use of dill here, but it goes really well with the soy sauce. I promise.  The soy sauce helps to make the chicken skin extra flavorful and crispy.  If you are planning  to remove the skin before eating then, make sure you put the seasoning UNDER the skin.

 

Simple Roasted Chicken Quarters

  • 4 skin on, bone in chicken leg quarters
  • soy sauce, about 1/3 cup
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill weed

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Using paper towels pat dry the chicken.  Gently slip one finger between the skin and the meat and loosen the skin from the meat.  Making sure skin still stays attached.
  3. Place chicken pieces on large glass baking dish.
  4. Using a marinade brush, brush under the skin with soy sauce.
  5. Brush entire legs with remaining soy sauce. (You don’t need to use all the soy sauce. Just until the chicken has been completely painted)
  6. Sprinkle with seasonings. (If you plan to not eat the skin, put the seasoning under the skin)
  7. Place on middle rack and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour.
  8. If the skin did not crisp up, increase oven temp to 400 and continue to cook for about 5 to 10 mins.  Keep a close eye on it so the skin doesn’t burn.
  9. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temp of 165.

 

Crispy Oven RoastedChicken Leg quarters