A Quick and Easy Diet Change to Get Through a Plateau

Intermittent fasting for weight loss

Hi friends! Today I want to share an easy, pain-free diet change that can help you bust through a weight loss plateau: intermittent fasting. This quick change helped me break through my weight loss plateau and I also experienced a couple of great side effects that I never anticipated. But before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a little bit of background on how I decided upon intermittent fasting to help me reach my weight loss goals.

A few months ago, at nearly two years postpartum, I had hit a plateau in my postpartum weight loss and general toning (I’ll address why this took so long in another post!). I had been doing the Jillian Michaels Body Revolution for a couple of months, and though I was going through it more slowly than was suggested, I knew I was getting stronger and making gains in my aerobic conditioning. Still, I just wasn’t seeing much of a change in the way my clothes fit or in the numbers on the scale. I certainly don’t obsess over my weight, but I do find that it’s one of many tools to help keep me accountable in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Around this time that I was experiencing my weight loss plateau, I came across a Facebook post by Lindsay Brin, whom I had become a fan of in my postpartum fitness journey (and whose Prenatal and Postnatal Specialist certification I’m currently taking!).  As her program had helped me correct my mild diastasis recti, I definitely trusted her guidance. In her post, she talked about how she does a modified intermittent fasting, eating at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM. I had heard of intermittent fasting before, and even experimented with it a bit, but never really gave it a chance. I found the idea of fasting until the afternoon overwhelming and also probably unhealthy for me given my history. But her approach of simply stopping eating at dinner and having a later breakfast? This version of intermittent fasting seemed to be a very reasonable approach!

Not only did I find her approach to fasting reasonable, I was happy to think of my breakfast and lunch being a bit closer together. I have always aimed to eat every 3-4 hours, with wiggle room if it doesn’t work out just so. That means that on most days, I would eat breakfast at 7 AM, but often have a hard time waiting until 11:00 for lunch (because I mean, lunch before that is just weird).  Eating a snack at 10:00 and then lunch later never worked because that meant that I usually ended up eating two snacks and three meals, and that just didn’t agree with my body (I’d get hungrier, gain weight, etc.).

Breakfast cookie dough

I decided to ease myself into this intermittent fasting by gradually making my breakfast later and later. I am one of those people who never understood how anyone could skip breakfast because I usually woke up SO HUNGRY, so I knew I needed to take it slow. Even waiting to eat at 7:00 when I usually wake up around 5:30 can be tough. So, on the first day of fasting, I only waited until 7:30. On the second day, I had breakfast at 8:00, and then I continued this pattern of increasing by a half hour until I had reached 9:00. The first few days were the hardest, but it quickly became easier to the point that it’s now become second nature. I no longer feel hungry at 7:00 and I now tend to eat breakfast between 9:00 and 10:00.

The harder part, though, was cutting myself off from eating after dinner. This time of day has always been tough for me and I’m guessing it’s tough for most of you, too. We’re tired, our willpower is low, and damnit, we deserve it after everything we do! I started having an after dinner dessert-like snack (usually plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter and some chocolate bits thrown in-yum!) while I was pregnant and purposely continued it for the first year of breastfeeding to support my low supply. Of course I didn’t need the calories to support breastfeeding my daughter in the second and now third year, when food was her main form of nutrition, but I still allowed myself this indulgence most of the time.

Yogurt cookie dough dessert

Committing to trying intermittent fasting was the kick that I needed to get help get me out of this automatic habit. I started by having my snack immediately after dinner only if I was still feeling hungry. Then I challenged myself to skip it altogether. That was definitely tough, so I gave myself some leeway and now I will either skip it OR have a little something at the end of dinner. This approach has worked best for me as I find all or nothing to be a bit too restrictive.

There are definitely still times that I eat at 7:30 or 8 if I’m hungry (though I try not to eat much past 8:00). During just this past week, for example, I was craving something sweet in a big way. We had had a stressful weekend with house hunting and had ended up putting an offer on a house that morning. The husband and I were both physically and mentally exhausted, so when I saw that he had bought some gelato that afternoon, I did a little happy dance. Yes, gelato was just the thing.

Talenti gelato

We sat down on the couch that night around 8:00 with our reasonably sized portions and enjoyed the heck out of that gelato. It hit the spot in a big way and I indulged guilt-free. My point? Even though I’m now following intermittent fasting, I give myself a break. I tried perfectionism once a long time ago and I ended up with an eating disorder. And speaking of eating disorders: if you have a history of one, approach intermittent fasting with caution.  This may not be the right choice for you.

So what have my results been with intermittent fasting? I’ve lost weight more steadily than I had been before, and made it to my pre-pregnancy weight, give or take. The biggest change, though, has been fat loss. I know that part of this firming up has been the Body Revolution program, but I do believe intermittent fasting has helped it along. I’m seeing more definition in my abs and arms than I was previously and seeing change (as I quickly saw in the picture my husband took below) is always a big motivator for me to keep going.

Intermittent fasting results

Like I mentioned earlier, I also experienced some additional, positive side effects from intermittent fasting that I hadn’t anticipated. First, my digestion seems to have vastly improved. Though I haven’t experienced the incredibly painful bloating of my pre-gluten-free days, I had been experiencing some mild bloating that was regular enough to make me wonder if I needed to look at other foods as culprits. Now? I feel so much better! Sure, I still get the occasional bloat, but I can usually attribute it to a certain time of the month and when that happens I try to keep an eye on my salt intake and drink more water.

The other side effect I’ve experienced from intermittent fasting is one that seems counter-intuitive: I don’t get as hungry between meals any more. I get hungry, but not I-need-to-eat-right-this-second-or-I’ll-lose-my-mind hungry or get what I call the “hungry shakes” as a result of (what I assume was) my blood sugar being low.

And in case those reasons weren’t enough, do you want to know about another benefit of intermittent fasting? Reducing my risk of cancer and other diseases as well as increasing my longevity.  Being in cancer research, we’ve heard a lot of buzz around fasting as potentially helping not only keep cancer at bay, but also helping those who have developed it (assuming they don’t have a compromised nutrition state, which some patients do have). More research needs to be done, but the research so far looks promising.

So, that’s my approach to and results of intermittent fasting in a nutshell. Have any of you tried a form of intermittent fasting before? Like it? Loathe it? Tried something else instead? Have you experienced a weight loss or fitness plateau? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments!

Intermittent fasting for weight loss

Five Favorite Baby Books (plus one you don’t need)

Happy Friday, all (better yet-the Friday of a holiday weekend!)! Woohoo to a post two weeks in a row! Since this post was only crafted over a week instead of months like the previous one, it will be a little shorter, but quick and to the point.

Five Favorite Baby Books

I wanted to share my five favorite baby books, or really, just my favorite baby books (there happen to be five, which is a nice number for a list). So, without further ado, these are my five favorite and most recommended baby books:

  1. Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman

Us Americans are obsessed with the French. They seem to do everything so much better than us, don’t they? Their food, their clothes, their art… There are so many books about “The French Way of XYZ,” but I have to say that I was on board with most of what Druckerman reported about the way Parisians raise their children (and am seriously jealous of free, quality daycare, complete with food included!).

The new version of the book also includes Druckerman’s second book, “Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting,” so you can purchase two books for the price of one! In Bébé Day by Day, Druckerman takes all of the little nuggets from Bringing up Bébé and puts them in a quick and easy reference list of sorts.

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

This was the second baby book that I read. I pulled it out when my daughter was only a few days old after the doula who did my placenta encapsulation had suggested doing the 5 S’s with our daughter to help comfort her. I would read it when I was stuck under a baby nursing or with her sleeping on me. Karp’s theory on the aptly named “fourth trimester” made complete sense to me and helped me feel better about the tough newborn period.

I had completely forgotten at the time (blame sleep deprivation?), but we had rented the video while I was still pregnant, but obviously hadn’t thought to give it a try. Did it work? Sometimes. I think that’s partially because it ended up that our daughter was crying due to not getting enough to eat and from silent reflux, and also because she didn’t like the swing that we were using at the time.

3. Baby Care Basics

My husband picked out this book for us to be a reference for all of those mysterious baby things that we didn’t have any experience with. What I loved most about it were the pictures to help us out with the, “is this normal?” questions that would come up in those first few weeks. It was nice to have, for example, a picture of baby acne to reference to know she wasn’t breaking out in a rash. One caveat with this book is that it is written by doctors working in Canada, so while it follows United States and American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) advice pretty closely, be sure to check with your doctor or nurse for any conflicting advice.

Though the book includes information for the first year, we found ourselves only using it for the first few months. Because, you know, we were experts by then, right? 😉

4. Baby Day by Day

Not to be confused with Druckerman’s Bébé Day by Day, this is a daily update on what’s going on with your baby. While there is information on pregnancy and baby care in the front of the book and references about illness in the back, I enjoyed reading the “meat” of the book, which was a nice little snippet of what was going on with my daughter as she grew. It gave me something to focus on and appreciate when I was sleep deprived, home alone, and trying to soothe a crying baby. It wasn’t as convenient to read while she was in my arms as it’s a rather large book, but it lived on our coffee table for the first twelve months.

I figured out that this book is either written by someone from the UK or Canada as it referenced going back to work at 6 months postpartum and something about an “add-on formula.” So, again, there may be some slightly different advice than from the AAP (or the giant difference of most of us American moms returning to work at 12 weeks postpartum), but I enjoyed using this book to follow my daughter’s development through the first year. Below is an example of what a daily entry looks like.

Baby Day by Day book

5. Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting by Janet Lansbury

This book, by far, has been my absolute favorite book. I had never expected to be taken in by Janet’s approach to parenting, but it seemed second nature to us. For those unfamiliar with Janet, she is a proponent and teacher of the RIE method of parenting. RIE stands for “Resources for Infant Educarers,” a title that make me cringe, and is pronounced “wry.” You could call it whatever and I would still love it.

In a nutshell, RIE is about seeing a baby as a person from the very beginning and treating them with the respect that you would afford any other person. My husband and I did this instinctively from the moment our daughter was born. It just came naturally and this is what worked for us. What do I mean when I say treating a baby like a person? An example that comes to mind is not using baby talk. “Hew wow widdle girl. How are youuuuu? Wook at the cute doggie! Look, look!” is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Instead, my husband or I would tend to say “Hello, (insert child’s name here). How are you doing today (pause)? Oh, I see that you’re looking at that dog over there (pause). I like watching dogs, too.” See the difference?

This isn’t an attack on how other people choose to parent; this is just what works for us and what seems to come naturally. I found a lot of similarities between RIE and Bringing up Bébé, so we knew that we were onto something. Janet has proved to be an invaluable resource when we’ve come across a new behavior that we don’t know how to approach, such as throwing food (Normal? Ignore it? Acknowledge it?). We would take the suggestions and make them work for us.

Just like many philosophies out there, I don’t buy into it 100%. An example of one big RIE thing I don’t do, and actually can’t even stand to listen explained, is “sports casting,” which is a neutral way for a parent to describe what’s going on in a conflict between two children. I find it annoying to hear someone do it and think that as a child, I would find it incredibly irritating to hear someone narrating what’s going on (no offense, Janet!). I prefer to observe and step in if need be, either giving my daughter some tools to figure it out for herself or exerting more of myself in the situation should it be necessary.

Finally, I’d like to tell you about a book that I don’t believe you need: The Wonder Weeks. I had bought this book when my daughter was a few weeks old after someone telling me about all of the very quick developmental milestones that happen in the first few months and how that could help explain when a baby is being extra fussy. Anything to help me to understand the constant crying!

I had also downloaded the app and throughout the course of the first year, I found the app more than sufficient to help me out. The book became very repetitive and each section was incredibly long so that by the time I was done reading that week, she was already onto the next one.  There were quotes from parents (actually, only moms) in each chapter that didn’t seem to add much value, so I would end up skipping whole pages at a time.

Those are my five favorite baby books in a nutshell. I’d be happy to tell you more if you have any questions. What are your favorite baby books? Anything that you were surprised by?

Blogging Hiatus Update

Helllloooooo blogging world!

Here’s hoping this is just like riding a bike, because it’s been a long time since I was last here! So much has happened in the past two and a half years since I unconsciously left this blog behind. Why did I stop blogging? Life had taken some unexpected turns and my focus turned to somewhere else as you’ll see below.

July 2015

We went on a second trip to Europe, this time to Austria and Germany!

Neuschwanstein Castle.jpg

I attended the Gluten Free and Allergen Friendly Expo that I had blogged about earlier.

We went through a round of IVF with ICSI after almost two years of the emotional roller coaster of unsuccessfully trying on our own to start a family (<-this is the reason).

IVF meds.jpg

August 2015

Our first round of IVF was successful!

IMAGE_4558.jpg

I’m diagnosed with ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) after a middle of the night emergency room visit for difficulty breathing and need to go on a high protein/high salt/low carb/electrolyte liquid only diet. Not exactly fun when all you’re craving is some simple carbs to settle the stomach, but I tell myself this is the price I have to pay to be pregnant, which I’m so, so grateful to be.

September 2015

OHSS continues. Another visit to the emergency room for vomit-inducing flank pain.

After meeting with an advisor, I decide to forego nursing school for the year. I would get an incomplete if I was unable to finish the year, and since I’m due at the beginning of May, that’s a very real possibility. I’m sad, but also less stressed knowing that I’ll be able to be more present for this pregnancy.

October 2015

OHSS continue. Two more visits to the emergency room for the flank pain.

I am finally diagnosed with ovarian torsion (twisted ovary) and am transported to Boston for emergency surgery. I end up losing both an ovary and fallopian tube, but not the baby!

Here I am a couple of days after the laparoscopy, with a belly full of air from the procedure, still feeling pretty awful, but so grateful that I am twelve weeks pregnant.

ovarian torsion surgery

November 2015

I’m feeling fabulous for the first time in my pregnancy. We’re able to announce to the world the news that we’ve been wanting to shout from the rooftops: that  we are finally going to be parents!

December 2015

I make it to the halfway point in my pregnancy and am finally showing after a lot of weight loss in the first trimester.

February 2016

We go on a local-ish babymoon to western Massachusetts.

Eric Carle Museum

April 2016

Our daughter shocks us by arriving a few days earlier (I was convinced I’d go late) and by being a GIRL (we didn’t find out the sex and we were thinking it might be a boy)! We have an amazing intervention-free Hypnobirth (aside for lot of blood loss requiring a transfusion the next day).

Hypnobirthing

 

May 2016

Holy $hit. This newborn/fourth trimester thing is not joke. Our daughter continues to lag behind in weight gain, necessitating constant, round-the clock breastfeeding and pumping to increase my supply. Cue mommy blues, stress, and, worst of all, mixed feelings about this parenting thing. I had my placenta encapsulated in the hopes of it increasing my milk supply and helping keep away postpartum depression. While it didn’t help my supply, and I did suffer the normal “baby blues,” I’m thankful that I didn’t experience any PPD or PPA.

Placenta encapsulation

June 2016

Breastfeeding and baby’s weight gain continue to be hella difficult. We have her tongue tie fixed, but it doesn’t help. Finally, at the urging of our amazing nurse practitioner, we start to heavily supplement with formula. She’s also diagnosed with silent reflux. It still pains me to look at pictures of her from this time because looking at them now, I can see how underweight she looks. I didn’t know any different at the time; all I knew is that I was trying my hardest to give her everything I had and thought that if only I tried harder, maybe I could make enough.

July 2016

Our daughter is finally thriving on the combo feeding and Zantac, just in time for me to go back to work. I join the ranks of working, pumping moms and discover a whole new sisterhood. The husband is still home on school break, thank goodness, or going back to work would have been even more challenging. Things are still hard, but we are all much happier.

Spilled milk

When your supply is low, there is crying over spilled milk.

August 2016-March 2017

So many firsts, so much stress, and so much joy. I won’t bore you with the details right now, but suffice it to say that the first year of parenthood is a whirlwind! We start to find a parenting style, almost by mistake, that aligns with the way we feel about our role as parents, and quickly adopt many of the principles (but not all–we still need to go with our gut!) of RIE parenting. Janet Lansbury has become our go-to for any issues that arise.

April 2017

WH Baby’s first birthday! We also made it a year of breastfeeding, a goal I never thought I’d reach in those first few tough months, and continue to breastfeed through the present time, something I never thought in a million years that I would do.

First birthday

Summer 2017

We take our fist official family vacation! It was just a quick-ish trip to North Conway, NH, but it’s still a break from everything and the mountains just do something to revive the spirit.

North Conway, NH

Cheers to vacation!

After finding out late at 11 months postpartum that I had a mild case diastasis recti, it is now nearly gone, with a small 1.5-2″ gap still around the umbilicus, which is in the normal range. A huge part of my recovery was using Lindsay Brin’s Postnatal Slimdown, especially the progressive core exercises.  She also has a lot of free resources right on her YouTube page.

April 2018

I can’t believe that WH Baby, now WH Toddler, is already two! This little one is my absolute joy and what started as a tough relationship in those newborn days has developed into one of the greatest loves of my life. I am so grateful for her every single day and I’d go through everything again to have her.

Spring 2018

Whew….and here we are!

You may have noticed that I don’t share pictures of my daughter’s face here or on social media. I’ve struggled with this, as of course I think she’s the cutest thing around and want to show her off, but decided to err on the side of caution to protect her privacy and her wishes. Maybe when she’s older she’ll give me the okay to share her beautiful face with the world. But I want it to be her decision (and no judgments made to those who show their kids, because I love seeing them!).

I’m not sure what the future holds for me with blogging, but just writing this was a lot of fun. I would like to share my struggles with infertility, OHSS, a bit of my pregnancy and fitness and nutrition during it, giving birth, as well as the early struggles of parenthood, breastfeeding, and finding myself as a mother. I know that so much of my pregnancy, postpartum, parenting, and general life has been helped by reading others’ stories and I would like to pay it forward and do the same, especially if I can warn someone about OHSS.

Did anything here resonate with you?

What’s Your Body Type?

Whenever I would open a magazine and see an article titled, “The Best Clothes/Food/Exercise for you Body Type,” I’d devour the article, thinking it would give me some insight into what was best for my body. Was I Kapha, Pitta, or Vata? What about Ectomorph, Mesomorph, or Endomorph? Don’t even get me going on the fruits and vegetables! There’s the usual apple, banana, and pear, but I’ve also recently seen carrot enter in into the equation. Maybe it’s where I held my fat–abcentric, hipcentric, glutecentric, or omnicentric? The list goes on and on and the more I’d read, the more confused I would get. How are we supposed to keep all of these straight? How are we supposed to fit perfectly in one category?
Body type workout

The ONLY time I ever found a label that fit me was in an article in a fitness magazine back in the late nineties. Based on the descriptions of the body types, I was a “spark plug,” which basically meant on the shorter and more compact side. Finally there was a name that I could grab on to and define myself. I was also drawn to this name because I felt it described my personality–someone with a little bit of sass.

Vitruvian woman

Spark plug (shorter with thick limbs)

Despite finally having a “label” for myself, though, I’ve sometimes found myself envious of other body types. Wouldn’t it be nice to be a bit curvier, with slightly rounded hips and a larger bust? A friend of mine has this body type and I think she looks fabulous–so feminine with her curves, someone who looks like they’d give the most wonderful, comforting hugs.

What about a long, lithe dancer-type body? These women always seem so elegant with their endless slim limbs. Again, I have a friend with this body type and she owns it, but this will never be me.

And then there are the people who seem to have muscle all over. Wouldn’t it be great to evoke a sense of powerfulness just with the way your body looks? People would think twice before messing with you and you look like you could conquer any physical feat. Though I don’t have any friends like this, Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake comes to mind.

A body-type thing I have learned from this picture: spaghetti straps do not properly complement my shoulders!

A few recent conversations have led me back to what I, what we all, need to remember, however: we’re all unique, with our own quirks, our own advantages, and our own weaknesses. We shouldn’t long after having another person’s body because we will never have it. I’ll never have Jillian Michaels’ abs, but she’ll also never have my butt (which, believe it or not, is the body part she doesn’t like!). I’ll never be taller, my arms will never be longer, and I will always have a short neck with a round face. In fact, I distinctly remember my doctor telling me way back when that I would couldn’t change the fact that I had a round face, no matter what. Life is too short to get hung up on what we don’t have instead of celebrating what we do have.

Buffalo Bill train

The things you can do with strong legs and arms

So I’ve been trying to celebrate parts of my body that I may take for granted. I have these strong legs that have always been that way. I even jokingly call them “thunder thighs,” but in a positive way. As in, “Check out my thunder thighs! They could squeeze you to death!” I’m trying to feel lucky that I don’t have to worry about busting out of tops or having inappropriate cleavage thanks to my insanely small bust. And as I admire long, elegant fingers and compare them to my “doll hands,” as my father-in-law calls them, I remember all the little places I can put them or pry things open that someone with larger fingers can’t.

We need to honor our bodies just as they are. Treat them with respect. Properly fuel them and move them and love them.

So, at the end of the day, I’ve finally found my body type: me!

Questions: Have you gotten hung up on finding or understanding your “body type?” Have you found ways to celebrate your unique body? What are you most thankful for about the way your body was built?

Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Discount and Giveaway

Note: updated with later entry date!

How’s that for a wordy title? 😉 I’m so excited to chat with you today about the Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo that I’ll be going to later this summer as a member of their official Blogger Team! I’m looking forward to trying some delicious gluten-free food, meeting some fellow bloggers, as well as making connections with the great people and companies who help get the gluten-free food out there for those of us with gluten intolerance and celiac.

Official Expo Blogger badge

This expo is the largest gluten-free and allergen friendly event in the United States! They take place at many cities throughout the country, so there’s sure to be one near you! I’ll be at the Worcester, MA event on Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. I’ve recruited a good friend of mine, who has celiac disease AND lactose intolerance, to come with me to help me judge some of the products. I want to be able to give you more than one opinion on the items at the event. Plus, it’s fun to hang out with a great friend who gets what it’s like to be gluten-free!

Gluten Free & Allergen Friendly Expo Worcester

This event is being put on by the Gluten Free Media Group which is same company that has the super helpful Find Me Gluten Free app and website that I often use, in addition to the fabulous Send Me Gluten Free Box that I reviewed and fell in love with last fall.

Send Me Gluten Free box opening

There are some great perks for all of my readers! They’re letting me offer you a discount on the tickets AND five lucky people will get to go for free! Please note the discount codes and free tickets are for the Worcester, MA event only.

Ron Popeil but wait there's more

Hold the phone because it gets even better! Anyone who purchases tickets through the links below will also get a free one-year subscription to Delight Gluten Free Magazine! Talk about an awesome deal!

Delight Gluten Free Magazine

Click the pictures below to purchase your tickets. Note that the 30% off link is only good through June 24 and the 20% off link is good up until the day before the event (July 24).

30% off GF & AF expo

20% off GF & AF expo

Finally, time for the giveaway! To enter, simply comment on this post and tell me what your current favorite gluten-free item is, whether it’s something you make or something you buy. Five winners will be randomly chosen on June 23 July 10!

Free tickets to GF & AF expo

Hope to see you there!

What to Eat For Breakfast When It’s Hot

We had our first taste of summer on Mother’s Day–a hot and humid one with temps in the 80s. Despite our ridiculously cold and snowy winter and spring, humidity will never be met with smiles from me. Give me cold over hot humidity any day!

Don’t let the trees fool you–it was hot!

The change in weather, coupled with the fact that the A/C hadn’t been set to go off at work, left us with a very stuffy office on Monday. I was glad for the cool breakfast I had already eaten (smoothie), while my coworker waited for her breakfast (oatmeal) to get to room temperature so she could enjoy tolerate it.

This got me thinking about some good grab and go breakfasts for the warmer weather and wanted to share some of my favorites. The best part is that they’re all easily adapted to what you’re in the mood for and can be made a day or more ahead if that’s how you roll. You know, like when you set up your breakfasts assembly line style.

Yogurt parfait assembly

Smoothie

My basic formula is:

  • protein powder
  • greens
  • fruit
  • fats
  • liquid

In the mix below is Garden of Life RAW Organic Protein Vanilla (here’s a review of the protein powder), a heaping teaspoon of almond butter, frozen banana chunks, giant handful of mixed greens, about a tablespoon of hemp seeds, a heaping teaspoon of shredded coconut, and about a cup of unflavored, unsweetened almond milk.
Green smoothie

A variation of this is the smoothie bowl. You usually use yogurt as your protein source and don’t add a liquid so it stays thick enough to eat with a spoon. I made the delicious blackberry coconut smoothie bowl below using a recipe from Hello Natural.

blackberry smoothie bowl

Yogurt Parfait

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how much I love my yogurt parfaits! I have a basic formula for my parfaits:

  • Plain full fat yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Omega fatty acid
  • Sweetener
  • Nuts

Here’s a view of the layers:

strawberry yogurt parfait

This one had flax, a handful of oats, a handful of almonds, about 1/2 tsp royal jelly, frozen strawberries (made the night before, so they thaw overnight), and yogurt.

Overnight Oats

I love that this breakfast is adaptable for cold and warm temperatures. When it’s cold, I microwave it in the morning to warm it up and when it’s hot outside I’ll eat it cold or warm it up just a little bit in the microwave so it’s a little below room temperature. The formula:

  • Old fashioned oats
  • Chia Seeds
  • Fruit (usually frozen banana)
  • Liquid
  • Spices
  • Separate container of nuts and/or seeds for topping

overnight oats in glass container

The key is to use a 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid. Above specifics include almond milk, banana, and cinnamon topped with walnuts and raw pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas). The used Bonne Maman preserve jar makes for a great (and free!) container for this purpose. I also use them for my yogurt parfaits.

Breakfast cookie dough cereal

This is a bonus one that I make on the weekends. I could make it on the weekdays and then wait to add milk at work, I suppose, but I oddly like having something different on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I use Fitnessista’s recipe and will often throw it (figuratively, of course) in the microwave on cool mornings or eat it cold on warmer mornings.

Here’s how it starts out once you add the nut butter:

Breakfast cookie dough cereal

I’ll admit it’s a little bit of a pain when you’re really hungry and can make a bit of a racket, but the results are worth it! Once you’ve broken up and mixed in the nut butter, it should resemble something more like this:

Breakfast cookie dough cereal

Mmmm…now we’re talking! Then it gets even more fun–pick your toppings and drown it in milk! Below I’ve added raw shredded coconut, pepitas, walnuts, and raw cacao nibs.

Breakfast cookie dough cereal

This is one of the few times I use cow’s milk instead of almond milk. I don’t have anything against cow’s milk, I just find I like different liquids for different situations. And cereal is definitely the right occasion for regular milk for me!

Questions: If you had to deal with either bitter cold or hot and humid weather, which would you prefer? Do you change up your breakfast routine when the weather changes? What are some of your breakfast go-tos?

Blogger’s Block

Holy smokes! Over a month without a post and not a good excuse in sight! I’m done with classes for now, but I still haven’t been posting more frequently. Why not?

I definitely have some legitimate reasons: trying to reduce my screen and sitting time when I already sit at the computer over eight hours a day, using my lunch hour for walks instead of blog posts, and avoiding extra computer time on the weekends for fear of triggering some tennis elbow symptoms.

Things I also know? Despite all of these reasons keeping me away from this blog that I love, I think part of the problem may be that I’m starting to second guess myself. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say? What makes me an expert? What if I’m the only one that finds this information interesting?

Then I remembered something…

doubt quote

So I’m going to just go for it from now on. I’m going to remember my very first post on not waiting until it’s perfect. Maybe some posts will be short. Maybe some will be long. Some won’t have many pictures and others will be littered with them. Some may be unpopular with a lot of readers, but will perfectly capture my voice. Maybe I’ll miss the magic “optimal time to post” for the week and that’s okay. It’s all okay, because it’s the passion in it that really counts.

Questions: Do you start to pull away from things when you doubt yourself? How do you deal with self-doubt? Is there something you wished you stuck with when the going got tough?

 

Friday Favorites

Aaaaaaaand it’s Friday again! After a busy week (and a somewhat busy weekend), I’m looking forward to chilling out tonight! Meanwhile, here are some of my recent favorites, following a similar format from my last Friday Favorites post.

Celebrating…Saint Patrick’s Day! We went out to dinner with my grandmother (the one who made me 1/4 Irish!) and chowed down to corned beef boiled dinner and shepherd’s pie. I even dressed up my fridge for the occasion. Contributing to the green: mixed greens, spinach, dill, beet greens, kale, pepper, fennel greens, dandelion greens, romaine, and celery. Nearly half of that food is for Wilbur to share with us.

St. Patricks Day fridge

Lots of green for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Watching…Vikings

This is the show that holds us over while waiting for Game of Thrones to come back on. It’s not always the best acting or the best plot, but it’s interesting to watch this culture we know so little about. One of my favorite parts of this culture is the strength of the women, whether it’s the female warriors (“shieldmaidens“) fighting beside the men, a female earl, or the ones left back at home to rule while the men are away plundering. I’m trying to convince WHH to do a couple’s costume for Halloween.

Vikings logo

Reading…A Dance with Dragons (aka Game of Thrones book 5). As you may remember, I’ve been slowly getting through this series since last year and I’m nearly done! I’m pushing to finish before season 5 premiers on April 12.

Listening…to A Dance with Dragons. Yes, I know. Pretty ridiculous. I knew I wouldn’t get through the entire book on time for the premier, so I got the free month on Audible and now listen on my drive to work, my lunchtime walk, and my drive home from work. I have to say that even though I don’t love the voices the narrator does (characters seem to be either English, Scottish, or Irish), I am that much more obsessed with the series because I’m able to be that so immersed in it every day, even consulting A Wiki of Ice and Fire whenever I need more information or a memory refresher of one of the previous books.

A Dance with Dragons Audible

Eating…three new recipes this week, all of which I failed to take pictures of! I made Baked Maple Chicken with Wild Rice and Pear Pilaf, Late Winter Harvest Quinoa Bowl, and Curried Chickpeas with Spinach. My favorite by far was the quinoa bowl. I had never tried nutritional yeast before and I’m definitely digging the cheesy flavor. I have a lot of the almond “cheese” left over that I will be sprinkling on top of salads and soups!

Late harvest quinoa bowl

Source

Running…this pyramid interval on the treadmill. I’ve learned that I need to be very careful with my treadmill running. In addition to changing my cadence, running on the treadmill also changes my stance and I do find that it bothers my IT band and previous glute injury site a bit, so I need to be careful and not do it too often. But after an insanely cold winter that still isn’t letting up, I needed to get in a run. This kept me from getting bored and though not overly challenging, it was enough to get on a good sweat.

Planning…our summer vacation! With the Euro way down, me about to be in nursing school the next two years, and some major purchases being probable in the next few years (next house, cars) we decided to seize the opportunity and travel to Europe again! After falling in love with Switzerland the last time around, I knew I wanted to hit up Austria in the future, so that’s on our list of possibilities, along with Germany, Prague, and Budapest. Price will determine where we end up since we’re not as decided this time around as to our destination(s). Any suggestions?

Salzburg

Source

Questions: Did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, whether you’re Irish or not? Do you prefer to read books or listen to them? Made any new recipes recently or tried any new workouts? Are you making any summer vacation plans?

Plated Review

Spring is (almost) sprung! We have finally had three days of above 30 degree temps and it’s been glorious!

Spring is sprung

Today I wanted to share with you my experience with Plated, a meal subscription service. The subscription part is relatively new–when I ordered it about a month ago, you could buy individual meals. Now, you need to subscribe to weekly deliveries, which makes me a little bit less of a fan.

Plated logo

I decided to try it out because I wanted to expand our palates (as mentioned in my goals for this year) as well as learn new cooking methods. I saw a coupon for four free meals when you buy eight, so I decided to buy it as a birthday present to myself.

To get started, I chose the dates I wanted my meals delivered. Every week they release a new week’s worth of recipes going out four weeks.

Plated delivery dates

Next, I checked out the offerings each week. Plated offers seven items each week and you filter them based on the protein. As you click on each item, you’ll get a better picture of the recipe as well as additional details.

Plated weekly menu details

The recipe will tell you what they send, what you need (usually very minimal), calories, and any potential allergens.

Plated meal details

Given that I wanted to try new ingredients and cooking methods, I ended up ordering:

  • Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice
  • Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice
  • Seared Pollock with Blood Orange, Olives, and Grapefruit Salad

Altogether, it cost $54: $24 for 2 plates at $12 each and $30 for 2 plates at $12 each plus $6 shipping. This included the 4 free plates with free shipping on one order. Not a bargain by any means, but definitely less than four meals at a decent restaurant, not to mention the convenience of having everything ready to go and a couple of delicious meals planned for the week.

I couldn’t wait to get my first box! Unfortunately, it arrived a day late. That was a bit of a bummer since I was planning on making one of the meals that night, but when I asked the Plated crew where my box was, they gave me a $12 credit for the inconvenience.

Plated box

Upon opening, I was greeted with the recipe cards.

Plated box opening

Further down, underneath some spacey-looking insulated wrapping, were the ingredients. Beneath them were three huge (reusable!) ice packs. Note: each package only contained two recipes (seared pollock and curry rice) as I ordered two separate shipments of two recipes each.

Plated box contents

I wanted to try the seared pollock recipe first. I got out all of the items needed and read the entire recipe card.

Pollock ingredients

 

Pollock greens

(The pollock was busy defrosting)

Pollock recipe card

How delicious does this look? And all kinds of professional in our new, non-toxic pans!

Seared pollock

Et voila!

Plated Seared Pollock with Blood Orange, Olives, and Grapefruit Salad

The consensus in Whole Health Household? Delicious! I’m not normally a fan of grapefruit, but it really added some nice bitterness and acid to this dish. We kept the recipe card and look forward to making this again in the warmer months!

How did the rest of the dishes fare? Let’s start with the other meal in this order, the Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice.

Plated Thai Peanut Chicken Curry with Sticky Rice

It’s not much to look at, but it was pretty good. It didn’t blow my hair back, but it was a good dinner. I ordered this to get me out my spicy comfort zone. I’m only one-quarter Irish, but you would think I was 100% with my intolerance to spice! I’ve been pushing myself the past year and have definitely gotten better, but I still begged WHH to not put in all of the gochujang (a spicy red chile paste) and I was glad I did.

In our next box, we had the two remaining meals. This box also came a day late, so I yet again emailed to ask where our delivery was. They let me know it would come the next day and I was credited $20. I was really excited to try the Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice, so I made that dish first.

Plated Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde and Spanish Rice

So I now know I’m not much of a fan of quail. There’s hardly any meat on them (I didn’t realize just how small they’d be) and not much flavor. The salsa verde was also rather tasteless. It needed more seasoning, so I ended up throwing some salsa in it. On the plus side I used the remaining two quails for a delicious stock that I then reduced by boiling to make a sauce to drizzle over a stuffed “airline supreme” cut (aka Statler chicken cut). Now that was yummy!

Airline supreme stuffed chicken

And finally, we have the Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds.Plated Braised Cod with Swiss Chard, White Beans, and Almonds

This was also quite yummy and the second recipe card that we ended up keeping. My only complaint would be that there weren’t many differences in texture aside from the crunch from the almonds. Everything else was about the same texture and I don’t know about you, but I like when my meal varies in texture. I might choose to roast the onions instead of saute.

All in all, we had a lot of fun trying new recipes, flavors, and cooking techniques. The meals themselves were definitely quality and I felt like I was dining in a nice restaurant. The only downside is that I felt incredibly wasteful recycling or throwing out all of the materials that held small quantities. The lack of delivery on the promised shipping days was frustrating, but I appreciate that they take customer service seriously and credited my account without me asking for any compensation. We’ll see if that improves as I have two new meals coming at the end of the month thanks to the $32 credit (I was fine with paying an additional $22 for shipping and the remaining dish prices). Next up we’re trying Pan-Roasted Za’atar Chicken with Spinach Feta Twice-Baked Potatoes and Ginger Trout en Papillote with Miso Butter, Sweet Potatoes, and Snap Peas!

Questions: Have you tried a meal service? Would you ever try one? Have you made any new and exciting dishes lately or anything that you thought would be delicious and ended up kind of meh?

Back to Basics

Hello again and happy Friday! I am so excited to finally get back to you since microbiology is now done! Let the celebrating begin!

Bancroft cocktail

I don’t know about you, but with the snow, cold, and shorter days, my body has not been acting like itself. I was just about recovered from my holiday metabolic whiplash, when the Super Bowl and my birthday came along, and I was happy to have an excuse to indulge again. Ever since then I feel like I’ve been on one bad roller-coaster of cravings and increased appetite. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the incredibly cold temps, but I’m sure a part also has to do with my higher than usual sugar intake.

Chilly with text

I’m so sick of it that I decided to go back to basics to reboot my system a bit. Nothing crazy, just more accountability. For me, that means logging food in MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal logo

The biggest problem I found after a few days of logging my food? Not eating enough at breakfast and at lunch. No wonder I’d be so hungry once I got home! How did that happen? I think I started playing the comparison game (never a good one to play!) as I looked at other peoples’ breakfasts and lunches on other blogs. The thing I failed to remember, though, is many people graze throughout the day. I don’t–I eat only four times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner) because I only eat every three to four hours, so each meal needs to have a solid 300+ calories.

Breakfast smoothie calories

The other inkling I had that I my eating was a bit more off? I seem to have a little more jiggle in the middle even though I’m more or less the same weight. Perhaps it’s my body’s ancient response to the cold, thinking I need to hold on to body fat to make it through the winter. Perhaps having a bulk of my calories at the end of the day and being so hungry caused me to overeat. Again, it’s most likely a combination of things.

Paleo oatmeal

Paleo oatmeal to help fill me up!

The other part that’s helpful about using MyFitnessPal is being able to see where my macros are going. I thought that I was eating more protein than I actually was, so increasing my protein will also be a focus for me. Protein always does a fabulous job of filling me up, and add in a good dose of fiber and fat? I’m good to go for hours!

Pollock over arugula

Protein and fat-filled dinner with a good dose of fiber

Another tool up my sleeve? I signed up to rent five fitness tracker through Lumoid. I want to see how many calories a day I’m actually burning so I can get a better idea of how much I should be eating. Depending on the calculations out there for my height, weight, age, and activity level, I should be eating anywhere from 1500-2000 calories. That’s a big difference! The service is also a great way to try out fitness trackers if you’re considering buying one. I’m already not digging wearing a tracker visibly on my wrist, so I don’t think the Jawbone UP is for me.

Jawbone UP

As I’ve always said, it’s not about the weight. It’s about feeling good and I just feel off. Tired, a bit stiff and achy (thanks again partially to the cold I think), weirdo appetite, and a bit softer than I’d like to be. I’m not soft by any means, but you know when you just don’t feel right in your skin? Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to make better. And I know that with a few minor tweaks, I’ll be there.

I’m sure the fact that spring is around the corner will help as well. I always find that once the warmer weather hits, the sun is out more, and I’m able to be outside more, my appetite and energy levels naturally regulates itself. Just having the warm sun shine on my face feels so good!

Questions: Do you have problems with your appetite in the winter? Do you usually stay on track? Do you use any tools to keep yourself on track?

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