Peanut butter “fluff”

This stuff is so good, it should be called “crack fluff!” My boyfriend was complaining that he can’t take apples as a snack to work because he can’t find this whipped peanut butter he likes to dip it in anymore. Of course it is some sort of processed thing and I’m sure loaded with sugar. I decided to search pinterest and I found this awesome recipe!

It’s so good! I, of course, changed it up. I used:
1/2 cup Fage 0% greek yogurt
3 Tbsp Earthbalance natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp local honey

I’ve never used agave nectar and I actually just read an article about how it’s no better than any other type of sugar. I also like using local honey because supposedly it helps with allergies. I have no idea if that’s true or not but the local stuff is also a really good price at the local co-op. I think I will add a bit more peanut butter next time, the tangyness of the greek yogurt still really comes through. I used a little less than 2 T of honey, probably more like 1-1/2 to 1-3/4. The original recipe at Cookin’ & Kickin’ notes that it keeps in the fridge for 4 days. If it lasts 4 days, I would be very surprised! My boyfriend actively resists healthy things, he doesn’t like greek yogurt, so I suggested he modify the recipe to 1/2 cup sweetened vanilla yogurt and 3 T peanut butter. If he makes it, I will report back about that. Make sure you’re not using a peanut butter that has sugar or sweetener in it, if you do omit the honey!

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Getting back on track

In the last ten months, a lot has happened! Some really good – I met and got into a relationship with a wonderful man whom I love very deeply; I graduated from grad school with a Master’s in Social Work; and some not so good – unfortunately I gained 16 pounds. 😦

I didn’t intend, as I’m sure no one does, to gain “new relationship weight.” I definitely didn’t plan on slacking off on my workouts and eating ridiculous amounts of processed food and wheat again, but that’s what ended up happening. I started out that my boyfriend didn’t really cook much, so when he made me super highly processed packaged ramen, something I would normally never put in my body, it was so sweet that I ate it. When he made grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, I ate it.

Of course, I did stick to some of my more rigid dietary choices; I definitely didn’t start eating meat again even though he was a pretty big meat eater when we started dating. Part of my not eating meat is a moral thing though, so that made it easier. Little by little, he started trying vegetables and learning to cook things like quinoa and grilled salmon. As it turns out, he’s a pretty amazing cook, he rarely uses a recipe unless I send him one on pinterest. He hadn’t been an adventurous eater at ALL and like a lot of men had simply refused to try vegetables but I got tired of him saying “I don’t know…” ever time I asked if he liked something, so I started giving him bites of stuff that I was eating. He was quite surprised to learn he actually kind of likes zucchini and that artichoke did not kill him. Unfortunately, his apartment is right down the street from Baskin-Robbins and I also started indulging my love of their reece’s peanut butter cup ice cream a bit too much. Overall, 16 pounds in 10 months is not the worst thing that could happen, but I’d rather have not gained it at all. So now I’m pushing 200 pounds again and my fitness level is something that makes me really start to mentally beat myself up. But I’m not going to do that!

Grilled Salmon Salad that my boyfriend made me!

The one good thing is that I know what I need to do, I just haven’t been doing it. Grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream and gobs & gobs of pasta all taste amazing but there’s no way to eat that way all the time and stay healthy. Unfortunately for me that means weight gain, in addition to really not being healthy. So back to clean eating and working out regularly. It can be really demoralizing to lose weight that one has already lost and re-gained. I’ve lost and gained and lost this 16 pounds before. (check out my “how I lost 30 pounds” post.) Every time I lose it I say that I’m not going to gain it back. I guess what I’ve really failed to do is making my clean eating and working out a lifestyle. Truthfully, I don’t love exercise. I do love a salad with grilled wild salmon on it though, and as the memes say: Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym. How we eat is very, very important both for weight loss and for overall health. I do want to make this something that sticks this time. I’m not sure how to keep from being derailed except to be more mindful about it. It’s all a journey, so I figure it’s time to learn whatever lesson I’m not getting. Maybe to quit turning to sugar when I’m sad and when I’m happy!

Here’s the plan:

    • Log everything I eat in the SparkPeople app
    • At least ten minutes of some kind of exercise every day. I will add more to that later, but right now all I’m “requiring” of myself is to do something for ten minutes. It’s easier to convince yourself to move if you say “I only have to do ten minutes.” and it’s pretty easy to make yourself keep going after ten minutes.
    • Clean eating – back to what I know. The less processed the better. No more ramen; only sprouted grain wheat products and limiting those quite a bit; balanced protein and veggie-heavy meals. Healthy snacks.
    • Sweets only on the weekend, and only ONE THING. I’ve gotten bad about having a frapuccino and other stuff too, knowing full well a frapuccino is basically a milkshake.
    • Balance meals that aren’t as healthy with ones that are. No “cheat meal” if I want pasta I plan for it and adjust throughout the day.

Citrus mineral water, interesting swap for plain water

That’s basically it because that’s basically what is needed. Paying attention and saying “no” to bad stuff is what I had stopped doing and I have to start doing it again. One thing I’ve already done is giving up diet soda. In grad school, I started drinking it again but two weeks ago I started brewing green tea for the week and drinking that unsweetened instead of diet soda. I’ve also realized I love cucumbers, so I have been eating half a cucumber with some salad dressing for a mid-morning snack every day. I also organized my pinterest boards. I realized that having 300 recipes on a “healthy food” board was too overwhelming and difficult to find things, so I broke them down to categories like healthy shrimp, healthy sweets, quinoa and tofu, etc. This makes it a lot easier to find a great, clean eating recipe based on what sounds good at that moment. My boyfriend made this Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake and it turned out so good he made a stovetop version of it for his kids. They were very suspicious of it but both (10 and 15 years old) said that it was really good and they were impressed. They ate it scooped up with tortilla chips. Not the healthiest thing ever but certainly better than Taco Bell!

I’m not thrilled with myself, but I know that the best way to sabotage myself is to beat myself up and be negative. So I’m back on the healthy eating track, and I will be posting my progress! Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Total Cheat – Chocolate Bread Pudding

My instagram followers might remember the Coconut Tres Leches cake that I made for Mother’s Day.

Coconut Tres Leches cake

I found three different recipes that I liked the sound of, and combined them. I think if I had left it at that, it would’ve been ok – but I decided at the last minute to make it gluten free and use coconut flour. It made sense, it’s a coconut cake, why not use coconut flour? Different websites cautioned that using coconut flour is tricky and it’s best to stick with proven recipes, but the main problem is that the items turn out dry and I figured I was soaking the cake in three milks so that wouldn’t be an issue.

WRONG!

I made the only dry Tres Leches cake in the history of the world. My mom loved it, but it was very disappointing to me. Another mistake I made was making it a two layer cake. I found one of those lifestyle blogs that makes even the most chic, together women feel like they’re shabby underachievers (you know the ones I mean, Goop anyone?) She made a lovely two layer Tres Leches cake, I’m not sure how. I made a cake where the top layer slid around when you tried to slice it, partially because the cake ended up dry to the coconut flour but partially because whipped cream icing doesn’t work as well on a two layer cake. I should’ve known, the restaurants make their Tres Leches cake in a rectangle pan, I needed to do it that way too.

When Father’s Day rolled around, I had learned my lesson. Sometimes, we want to indulge. A cheat can be all cheat, especially for holidays and special occasions. So I decided to make chocolate bread pudding, in all it’s gluteny, unhealthy glory. My father is huge fan of the Double-chocolate bread pudding from Red Fish Grill in New Orleans, the whole family is! I found a recipe that seemed simple enough and decided to see what happened.

Bread

Chocolate Bread pudding

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
ΒΎ c. packed light brown sugar
Β½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk (normally I’d sub almond milk, but I didn’t want this dessert to disappoint!)
4 cups cubed stale bread

Melt 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, I did this in the microwave. Add, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, eggs and milk. Add bread and let stand 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. Ladle half of the bread mixture into a loaf pan. Spread remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips on top. Ladle the rest of the bread mixture. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on the top.

Bake about 55 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 10.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, it was actually on BeliefNet. I don’t like mixing religion and anything else so I’m not linking to the original recipe but you can find it by googling “Chocolate bread pudding beliefnet.” This recipe turned out AWESOME. It was a big hit! I ate mine with some vanilla ice cream, my dad opted for ice cream and whipped cream both. It’s definitely not low-cal, or gluten free, or sugar free, or dairy free (although I think it would be fine with almond milk!) but it was very yummy for a special occasion, every-once-in-a-while cheat.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

The case against wheat

Last year, I gave up gluten for three weeks. I have several friends who are gluten free for health reasons, so I wanted to do what I considered to be impossible – completely give up gluten and then reintroduce it to see if I had an intolerance. I was convinced I did. It turns out, luckily for me, that I don’t but the experiment taught me something important: a lot of the foods I thought were necessary really weren’t. I thought it would just be too weird to eat eggs without toast or a tortilla, but it wasn’t that bad. I didn’t really keep bread in the house before, but I ate a lot of tortillas and whole wheat waffles. Now I avoid wheat most of the time, because I’ve read a lot of stuff about how wheat isn’t that great for humans. A lot of the things we consume really aren’t – it’s funny how what we eat is dictated more by society and what the manufacturers make than what we actually need to survive. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat pizza now and then, or a sandwich, but on a daily basis I don’t eat much wheat. (Although my favorite morningstar farm veggie sausage contains gluten and is probably more processed than I should be eating – boo!)

Movie theatre pretzel

It turns out, wheat probably isn’t that great for us. For one thing, the grains of today are not the same as they were 100 years ago. This makes sense, if you think about it. If you try to avoid GMOs (aka A genetically modified organism, an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.) wheat is a definite offender. A study conducted in Britain found definitive evidence that consuming wheat products caused bloating and abdominal pain in patients with irritable bowel disease. You can read about the study here, and it includes a link to the abstract. Normally I only link to what I consider to be “credible sources,” a newspaper, a scholarly journal, something that it would be ok to cite in a paper for grad school, but because this site summarizes a scientific study and I can’t access the study, I decided I would in this case. I was hoping I could actually get a PDF of the study to provide here but unfortunately it’s not available online or in my college’s library.

There’s also a great article by Mark Hyman, MD on the Huffington Post about why wheat is so bad for us. I really recommend reading it!

Brownie dessert

It’s true you can also find as many articles about why wheat is fine and the gluten free craze is just a fad. I agree on one count, just buying cookies and crackers and processed crap that’s gluten free is not better than eating gluten. You’ll notice that my first post, the gluten free waffles, were still a cheat meal. Even though they don’t contain wheat, the various gluten/wheat-free flours still pack a lot of calories. Gluten free doesn’t always mean healthy.

I will never give it up 100%, I do like to indulge occasionally, but wheat will never be a part of my daily diet again. One thing I found when I gave it up was that my food cravings went away. Not cravings for rolls and pasta, but all cravings. I didn’t get hit by the urge that I just had to have french fries that wouldn’t go away. It seemed odd to me, but that’s what happened. It’s easier to make better choices if you don’t have a hankering for something specific and unhealthy. I think everyone should give up gluten for a while and see how they feel. If nothing else, it allowed me to realize that I don’t need a roll with dinner or a tortilla with my fajitas and that saves me calories!

Overnight oats (review)

Tropical overnight oats

Overnight oats are something that I was a little hesitant to try. I haven’t eaten oatmeal since I was a child, back then the instant maple & brown sugar was a favorite. A couple times over the years when I was trying to be “healthier” I’d read something about how oatmeal was healthy and grab a variety pack of instant oatmeal from the grocery aisle. I always added sugar, and it never seemed like anything special to me so I usually ate a few packets and then forgot about it.

Cut to my Pinterest obsession. Like a lot of things, I was behind the crowd with Pinterest. I love instagram, but Pinterest just seemed like a waste of time – sharing things that other people shared didn’t make a lot of sense. But during my internship this spring, a fellow intern was telling me about all these creative ideas she had for decorating her new apartment, and they all came from Pinterest! So I checked it out, and unlike the first time I looked at it, I was hooked.

I started my Healthy + Fit board full of things that I wanted to try, healthy recipes and different workouts. That’s where I came across overnight oats.

peach cinnamon overnight oats

I was intrigued at the idea of just mixing up some oats and almond milk with fruit and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. It seemed so simple, would it be any good? I decided to try it because I had purchased some rolled oats and then couldn’t remember where I had seen a recipe that called for them. (oops!) I saw Oh my veggies Coconut Mango overnight oatmeal on Pinterest so I decided to give it a try. Typical of me though, I modified the recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever made any recipe I’ve ever found without modifying it in some way! I changed this recipe because I couldn’t find unsweetened coconut in my regular grocery store, my mango got mushy before I sliced it, and I wanted to use honey rather than agave. This was a lot of poor planning on my part – it really could not have turned out any better though!

peach cinnamon overnight oats

I am eating this 5-6 days a week for breakfast now. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s versatile, it’s vegan, it’s healthy – there’s really no downside to these! They have a hearty feel to them without being heavy. I feel like I’m having a good breakfast and they taste amazing.

My tweaks are pretty simple. I like sweet foods but for breakfast, I don’t want something that tastes like dessert, so 1-1/2 tablespoons seemed like a lot to me. I drizzle about 1 teaspoon of honey on the oats prior to adding the milk & fruit and stirring it all together. The peach cinnamon combo is really simple.

Peach Cinnamon Overnight Oats

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon honey
half a peach, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 scoop unflavored protein powder (optional)*

Stir it all together, refrigerate overnight, and then sprinkle some cinnamon on it the next morning before you eat it.

Nutrition:

225 calories
8 grams protein
39 grams carbs
5 grams fat
* don’t forget to add nutrition info for protein powder, if used.

coconut overnight oats

It’s less clean, but to make these take literally less than a minute to make, instead of using fresh fruit use a fruit cup. Read the label on those though. They’re ALL different. It’s obvious you don’t want the one that’s packed in syrup, but watch what they’re packed in! One little cup can easily be over 100 calories, some have artificial sweeteners, some are packed in juice and have more calories but no artificial sweeteners. I’ve only come across one that was packed in water and had no artificial sweetener. Each fruit is different with the same manufacturer too, so don’t expect Del Monte mandarin oranges is the same as Del Monte peaches. Always read the label! For the first photo above, the tropical overnight oats, I used a Del Monte tropical fruit in juice, so it’s a few more calories than a no sugar added cup but it as no artificial sweeteners.

For the original, tropical recipe, please visit Oh my veggies. I’m new to this whole food blogging thing, and I don’t know the etiquette of writing about and using other people’s recipes but since I didn’t really change much about this one I don’t feel right about reposting it πŸ™‚

30 day plank challenge!

Starting tomorrow (May 1st) I’m doing this 30 day plank challenge! I started this challenge a couple months ago, but then I was sick and slacked off and never picked it back up. I definitely am not letting a plank challenge get the best of me though – so I’m starting again.

30 day plank challenge

If you want to join in, “like” my facebook fan page and check in with me every day! It’s a great way to keep going when it gets tough, when you know other people are holding you accountable.