Diary of My Healthy Eating Day

I talk a lot about food and my ongoing effort to eat healthy and not return to my former eating habits. Plant-based diet, mindful eating, sugar reduction, whole foods, and macro tracking are all methods I have borrowed from to retool my meals. I avoid thinking in terms of ‘banned foods’ even as I certainly had removed some of my favorite meals while in weight loss mode. Cutting out foods had more to do with deciding between more food volume with lower calories to keep me full and get the right nutrition. As I moved into and now live in maintenance mode I keep the same trade-off mindset but I also think about portion size to keep things under control.

There is nothing boring, bland, or measly about how I eat. A healthy food addiction won’t allow any of that. And, I do change things up where my lunch looks more like dinner or I eat a big breakfast and then lighter meals the rest of the day.  I’m a petite woman so the amount of food I can eat is drastically lower than the average woman. The challenge is to keep my calories within 1400 per day and only allow myself 1600 on a given day when I have a particularly active week (climb a mountain one day, or paddle all day, or go on a longer run than usual). To be honest, if I didn’t run at least 4-5 times per week (get in at least 30 minutes) I would be eating 1200 – 1300 calories just to maintain. Doesn’t that sound like dieting?

While I talk/blog about all these things, sometimes it is easier to show what a typical day of eating looks like for me. Maybe it will help and inspire you to enjoy eating whether you are trying to maintain or on a weight loss program. Disclaimer, I arranged the food to look pretty for you but I am usually more interested in eating than creating food art. Calories and macros are from my MFP tracker.

Breakfast: Bagel and Cream Cheese with Lox and Strawberries
296 Calories 42% Carbs 31% Fat 26% Protein

My favorite meal has always been bagel and lox. On Mother’s Day my family knows that they need to always have this ready when I come down in the morning, its that important to me. Typically, a bagel when trying to lose weight is a big no-no – calories and big carbs. In keeping with my mantra of no banned foods,  I can get thin bagels at the market that are less than half the calories of regular ones. I can also use 1/3 less fat cream cheese. In addition, by right sizing my calories there I give myself room for strawberries.

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Lunch: Antipasti Plate 
211 Calories 38% Carbs 26% Fat 36% Protein

My favorite meals are nibbling meals using my fingers. In fact, last night for dinner my kitchen table looked like it belonged in Tuscany rather than a suburb outside of Boston. Italian meats, cheese, tortellini, roasted vegetables, olives, pickles, ciabatta, dipping oil, shrimp, and of course a bottle of Italian wine. Picking up on what was left over, I arranged my lunch plate with cold asparagus, cold ginger garlic carrots, plums, shrimp and smoked gruyere. You might not be able to tell, but this is on a regular dinner plate. Lots of food. Also a bit distorted, the fruit and vegetables is actually 2/3s the plate.

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Snacks: Anise Cookie, cut off piece of Framingham Baking Co cheese Pizza
Calories 196 58% Carbs 29% Fat 13% Protein

Yes, I do splurge. The Framingham Baking Co. is an institution and has some nostalgia for me. Celebrating its 100th birthday this year, my history with this gem started 30 years ago in high school. Me and my friends would jump in the car and head over after school for a big slice of focaccia pizza baked fresh that day. My son Matt is now hooked on the pizza himself. Today, I made a stop and picked up pizza, cookies, and homemade pasta. Not being able to wait until I made it home, I snuck an Anise cookie and took a strip off of a pizza slice (full slice shown). Yes, it was before I could have my lunch, but so worth it!

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Dinner: Chicken and gravy with mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and polenta, Can of Guinness
Calories 379 40% Carbs 28% Fat 32% Protein

We sat down to a Thanksgiving style meal (sub chicken for turkey) complete with mashed potatoes, butternut squash, stuffing, green beans, roasted carrots, and yes, gravy a few nights ago. Well, I have a lot of chicken left over and what better to do with it than turn it into chicken and gravy. I love a creamy garlicky polenta, but the boys don’t, so they had open faced hot chicken sandwiches while I had polenta. A small variation that isn’t hard to adjust for and we all get another fall comfort meal this week. And, let’s not forget that it is dinner, so what better to pair with this meal than a cold creamy Guinness.

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So far I’ve had 1182 calories. I’m going to add 100 ghost calories since I was tasting my food as I cooked and I’m still not completely sure that I got the calories right on my cookie and pizza. That brings me to 1282 – lets just round up to 1300. The plan is to chill with Tom watching Mr. Robot and then grab a chocolate pop for dessert with a few strawberries. That gets me to almost 1400 calories.

Chloe's Dark Chocolate

So that is it. A bit short for the day, but I’m full, enjoyed my meals, and feel like overall I succeeded in staying the course.

 

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Vegan Can Be Yummy

Give me a Five Guys Burger and you can’t go wrong. But, getting healthy has definitely changed my taste buds and tolerance for protein heavy and fat heavy meals. My body craves vegetables. Tom tells me my gut flora has changed and it is telling me what it wants to eat. Whatever…

The thing is, I really like my veggies. Even those veggies that I tolerated (eggplant, yellow squash, mushrooms) and those I hated (kales, swiss chard) are regular visitors to my meals. I can even eat tofu, although I have to say it is not my favorite and is only in the tolerated column. In fact, if you look at my meals, and even some of my days, I’m definitely on the verge of a vegetarian diet and not always so far off from a vegan diet.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud those that morally live by veganism. I just don’t have that moral fortitude and am happy to keep my omnivorous ancestry alive in my diet. I love eggs, cheese and fish. What I will own up to is that if you take away the moral argument and only apply the healthy argument, then verging on vegan is possible and not at all a restriction.

Case in point. Heading to San Francisco, the restaurants know their customers and recognize that vegans are a dominate group – for moral and health reasons. It isn’t uncommon to see menu items with vegan symbols to make it easy to find dishes to eat when dining out with your non-vegan friends. In fact, restaurants are going out of their way to create amazing vegan food that rivals non-vegan menu items. It is almost hard for the non-vegan to ignore these delicacies. I can’t!

Always searching for healthy menu items to avoid travel spread, and formerly trying to still lose weight while on the road, restaurants that had vegetarian and vegan items were a god send. Being in California is always the easiest, and this visit was no disappointment.

Anku, an Asian restaurant inside the Hotel Nikko, not only has an entirely healthy menu, but also has vegetarian options that can easily be converted to vegan dishes. Purple Cauliflower Soup and a Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Purse surrounded by baby carrots, asparagus and yellow squash sitting in a vegetable puree  (the purse is swiss chard) was my dinner.  The lack of meat wasn’t noticeable. The flavors and textures were surprising and wonderful. Along with a glass of French rose wine and my meal was every bit as good as a steak dinner. The fact that my meal was preceded by complementary nuts, olives and pickled purple cauliflower made it that much better. Really!

I’m not saying you need to give up your meat. I am only saying that there is enough evidence that too much meat has health risks and cutting your 10 oz steak down to 3-4 oz and loading your plate with vegetables or creative vegan delicacies isn’t the hardship your mind keeps telling you. Don’t deny yourself, just nurture your body a bit more.

Be a vegan for a day. It can be yummy.

 

 

Surviving a Weekend of Gluttony

This weekend we traveled down to Nashville for my son’s graduation. After 13 months in an intensive master program at Vanderbilt’s Owens School, we celebrated his degree in healthcare administration. I don’t know who was more proud, us or him. But it really doesn’t matter. The thing is he did it!

As celebrations go, this was fraught with food and drink gauntlets and time constraints on exercise. A crazy frantic rebooking of our flight at the last minute due to weather issues meant getting to the hotel at 1:30a. We then had to scramble in the morning on less than 5 hours of sleep to get over to the ceremony. No time for breakfast at the hotel, we instead relied on the helpful description of the graduation that light fare would be served before and after.

When we arrived, light fare consisted of coffee and donuts. Coffee, I can do. Donuts? Oh well. I pulled a glazed donut off a peg and took a bit of the sweetest pastry I have had in months. The sugar from the first bite almost gave me a head rush. I could immediately see why I loved these things before. The problem is that eating just the one, even with the coffee, made me hungrier. So, I pulled everyone to the other side of the room so as not to see and smell those treacherous things.

The ceremony was perfect, a tight hour and a half and I got to see my son give a quick speech and thank yous. It was then back to the entry hall for food and drinks.  Mimosas, champagne, beer, and wine were all out. The tables were laid out with ham and cheese finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and grilled asparagus, portabella mushrooms and peppers. I think there was something in a chafing dish, but honestly don’t remember what was in there. I loaded my plate with the grilled vegetables and grabbed a fruit cup along with a glass of wine. So proud of myself!

That is where the rest of good eating ended. Lunch took us to Hattie B’s, one of Nashville’s hot chicken institutions. Mild, medium, hot and shut the cluck up are your choices for spicy level. Then you have the choice of chicken meat and tenders. Oh, and don’t forget the sides, you get two of those. I opted for a mild wing and chicken tender along with 2 sides of coleslaw. I avoided the bacon cooked collards, French fries, macaroni and cheese and the other assorted but yummy sides looking more for a pallet cleanser as a way to feel better about my meal. Riiight! I scarfed the chicken down along with half the slice of toasted buttered bread it sat on in my basket. Then ate three bitefuls of slaw. Oh my, it was so good.

We had a few hours between lunch and dinner so we headed back to the hotel to laze in the pool with cocktails. Yes, we could have walked Broadway or other Nashville thing. But, we’ve been there several times and didn’t really have enough time to do it justice. With the day at 85 degrees and a bit humid, the idea of the pool and cocktails was too much of a pull.

Dinner, that was heaven. Butcher & Bee is this great place in East Nashville. The food is so fresh, tapas like and perfect to share over conversation and drinks. Just what you want to do when getting together with family and friends to celebrate. Braised lamb, couscous, sweet roasted carrots, fried smoked okra, homemade hummus with fried chickpeas, pan fried fish, potato salad all washed down with this mucha muchacha cocktail (2) had me turning to Tom with a tight belly (food coma) and numb cheeks (liquor induced) to seek his driving abilities. Good thing he was fine.

Back at the hotel, we gathered at the hotel bar for a whiskey and brownie sundaes. While I didn’t eat all of the two scoops of ice cream, two brownies, bananas and glazed walnuts drizzled in fudge and I think carmel too, I did give it a nice dent.

The carnage hit me in the morning as my stomach rebelled from all the grease, fat and sugar. I’m sure my cocktails had something to do with it as well. No, I didn’t throw it up, but I was queen of the throne. So much so that even through I’d set my alarm for 6:30a so I could head out for a guilt laden run to work off my gluttony, I stayed on the throne too long and missed my window.

We got ourselves together as best we could to meet my son and girlfriend for breakfast at Noshville. A NY style breakfast/deli joint with the right amount of Jewish delights brought me back to my childhood. I ordered a plate of matzo brei and fresh fruit with coffee. For those of you that don’t know what matzo brei is, it’s matzo which is a really big water cracker broken up into pieces, quickly soaked in water, drained then mixed with eggs and fried/scrambled. A Passover staple, it is so good that it has made its way into a year round breakfast. After the day before, some of my control was gone. So I also took a bite of Tom’s potato pancake and a large bite of my son’s bigger than Texas toast French toast.

The rest of the day home I was good with only a cup of soup and carrots for lunch, small bag of chips on the plane, and tuna on a sandwich thin for dinner. Guilty for missing my morning run and too wound up after sitting on a plane most of the day, I ran on the treadmill immediately when we got home (we have a heat wave in New England and I was not going to sweat my oldie self to death outside).

This morning I needed to come to terms with anything I did over the weekend. You can’t stay on the wagon if you aren’t honest with yourself. If the scale goes up, that is the incentive to work hard to bring it back down. If it doesn’t, then it means to keep to my steady state plan.

Friday weigh in: 110.8 lbs
Monday weigh in: 110.9 lbs

I have no idea how I did it. I am only going to thank my lucky stars that all is normal and well. The guilt I have over my gluttony is still with me and paranoia over pound creeping is still very much there. I feel like I amazingly dodged the bullet.

This morning I had my veggie pancakes with applesauce and German rye for breakfast (293 calories). The plan, I’ll stay with a vegetarian diet for a couple days just to cleanse my system of the weekend lapse.

*Sigh*

 

Did I Say I Hate Kale?

Never say never. Never say hate. It’s what I learned growing up and as an adult I became arrogant enough to think I could be so definitive in my position. Such is the moment that I ate crow – I mean kale.

Heading out tonight to do some last minute shopping for our RV vacation and the hangries came on. Lo and behold, Wegman’s was right across the shopping plaza with their seemingly endless buffet of goodies. I could be really bad and throw healthy living to the wind by loading up on the mac and cheese or Asian bar. Instead I sought out the vegetarian options.

kale-and-quinoa-patties-everydaydishes_com-HSitting in front of me were these cute little cakes. The sign above said Quinoa and Kale Cakes, 150 calories. At first I moved past them to inspect my other options as the word kale just brought me to bitter, muddy, indigestible memories of my attempts to eat kale. I mean, putting it in a green apple smoothie didn’t even help. But, options at the food heaven were crowding out my choices and I turned back to those cakes and bravely placed one in my clam container. The reasoning, great protein source and packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Here’s the thing, it was delicious. Flavorful, creamy, great texture from the quinoa and perfect with some Asian vegetables and gyoza. The perfect substitute for rice or noodles, and yet it didn’t feel like a substitute.

I didn’t taste the kale. Or, maybe I did. But, the fact is, I ate the kale and I liked it.

So, I found the recipe for Wegman’s Quinoa and Kale Cakes. I also found another from Everyday Dishes. Check them out. So yummy.

Chubby Girl Tackles Dieting in an RV

Dieting is such a dirty word to me right now, but it seems like the only way to describe the day in and day out effort of losing weight and getting healthy even when traveling. Vacation season is upon us and our summer is a combination of mini RV weekend getaways and a big 2-week road-trip starting on Saturday. So, while I talk a lot about getting and staying healthy while on the road for work, I haven’t quite gotten around to the other part of living on the road.

First, living on the road. We have our RV, Bertha. She is named as such due to her big rear. Just about every weekend we pack her up and head to the beach or mountains. bertha.jpgIt’s our summer cottage on wheels. We can stay at a state campground right on a state beach (Salisbury or Scusset in MA), or head up north to the White Mountains and stay at Echo Lake in Franconia NH. On Saturday we will be trekking down to Ashville, NC and stopping along the way at state and national parks in PA, OH and KY for hiking, kayaking, and seeing the caves. A little bypass from nature to the city (Columbus) should bring biking and a beer crawl. Have you seen how many breweries are in Columbus? Then we’ll head back up and stay at a resort in VA before making it home.

Anyway, for the most part, having a built in kitchen is perfect for me. I control my meals. However, there are times when I want a vacation too and being the full-time chef is not on my list of an awesome vacation. This weekend was the great saboteur. A rainy cold day on Saturday down on the cape meant we needed to get out of the spacious, but still tight RV quarters. We headed to Fisherman’s View in Sandwich. My downfall? The manager let us order off menu to let us have a Fisherman’s Platter. It was filled with fried fish, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Not to mention the fries. Even splitting this massive plate, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many calories I ate. Add to this the Fisherman’s View Summer Ale and life couldn’t have been better.  The guilt afterward was crushing.

How did I handle this lapse of judgement and debauchery? I made sure I ran every morning and toned it down the day before and day after with clean eating. Results? I was down a 1 1/2 this week. I’m officially in the teens now!

But, I feel lucky. That was a single day. It was also right after a horrible 3 week plateau where I seriously considered calling it a draw with my body and going into maintenance mode. I’m still cringing at how I wolfed down that amazing seafood. But, let’s be clear, I regret the act. I absolutely enjoyed every bite! Too much!

It’s the road trip where things are going to get interesting. Yes, I can cook. But, there are a number days where we have 6-7 hours of driving. That is a lot of sitting. I also haven’t a clue how I will get my runs in. I’m leaning on, and looking forward to, getting out on the local trails, but I’m also nervous that I don’t know the area and a little girl out in the woods by herself could run into a big bad wolf. I’m not a big pond and lake swimmer. I like clear water and clean beach. Some places we stay have pools, but I’ve typically found RV campgrounds (even the cushiest) have highly chlorinated pools that kill my eyes (too much peeing going on in those pools).

So, this week I’m building my plan to offset the days when we do go out and have some local grub and watch our butts spread across the RV seat. Not sure how this will work, but I’ll report during and after the trip. I’m hoping I can pull off at least a pound if not two over the next two weeks. We’ll see. Wish me luck.

Need My Veggie Hash

I’m not sure why we don’t see more hash recipes out there. I don’t mean the corn beef and potato hash from your childhood breakfast. Or, even that hash always has to have potato in it. I’m talking about the throw the kitchen sink of vegetables into a hash and chow down.

My biggest problem with vegetables growing up was that they were always overcooked to the point of mush and bitterness. The ultimate was when Mom would put a can of asparagus in a dinner serving dish and call that vegetables. In all honesty, the only time I bought canned asparagus was to make kitten food which seems like the only thing canned asparagus is good for. You can’t get any grosser than that.

How I learned to love vegetables (not kale, don’t love, never will), is to cook them only as long as you have to. Keep them a bit crunchy. They keep their color, flavor, and fill you up better. So, my new food obsession is the veggie hash.

Veggie hash is basically any mix of chopped and/or riced vegetables with a chopped up veggie burger or other protein thrown in. Think:

  • Riced cauliflower, riced sweet potato, riced broccoli, corn, chopped tomato and chopped mushrooms  with chopped veggie burger mixed in.
  • Chopped beets, corn, black beans, celery, tomato, avocado and chopped egg (or fried egg on top).
  • Chopped grilled eggplant, chopped olives, chopped zucchini, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, toasted pine nuts and lean ground turkey. Sprinkle with parmesan if you like.

It’s kind of a warm twist on the boring salad. It can be completely vegan, vegetarian or the lighter side of carnivore. The best part is that this kitchen sink approach let’s you use up those leftovers. Got left over grilled veggies? Chop up and throw in. Got left over corn on the cob? Scrape down and throw in. That left over burger? Its hash tonight. And yes, those left over potatoes can be added in to.

Seasonings I tend to do simple salt/pepper/garlic (SPG), soy sauce, pesto, or some random sauce in the fridge. I can even throw in some fresh herbs like cilantro and mint for a little kick.

Anyway, for meals under 300 calories that fill you up, are healthy and tasty, can’t beat a veggie hash.

Oh Wow – Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

Not sure if it was because I had just finished my workout, was hungry before my workout, or if I just outdid myself, but my dinner was sooooo gooood!

I have a confession, I have an obsession with cauliflower rice. I don’t even think of it as a substitute anymore. I’ll take cauliflower rice over real rice, couscous, pasta or potatoes any day. My other recent obsession if going full on Beyoncé but instead of putting a ring on it, I put a fried egg on it. Well, tonight, I put these two obsessions together and I ate it so fast I couldn’t even take a picture and share.  But, I will share my recipe.

Michele’s Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

I made this for one, but you could easily multiply this for four based on my measurements. I am also using some leftovers but you can substitute for fresh.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 head of cauliflower (will make about 5 oz ‘rice’)
1 oz baby spinach
2 T pine nuts
1/4 cup marinara sauce (scooped from a half used jar)
1 large egg
1 1/2 oz cooked hamburger (took a quarter from a portabella swiss burger made the night before)
1 T chopped garlic
pinch kosher salt
pepper from pepper grinder

Directions:

Cut cauliflower roughly and add to food processor. Pulse until it is chopped. Add in spinach and pulse again until spinach is chopped and cauliflower is the consistency of rice.

Place pine nuts on a aluminum foil and toast in the toaster oven for several minutes until pine nuts become a toasted color. Keep an eye on them as they easily and quickly burn.

Cut up a cooked gourmet portabella and swiss burger into quarters. Take one quarter and chopped up. You can use any other pre-cooked leftover burger or simply cook up some fresh ground beef.

In hot pan, spray with cooking spray and add in cauliflower and spinach mixture. Sprinkle in the kosher salt and grind the amount of pepper you like. After about two minutes, add in garlic, pine nuts and chopped burger. Saute until cauliflower is tender and then pour onto a plate. Then add the marinara sauce over the hash.

In same pan, spray again with cooking spray and fry the egg. If you like, sprinkle egg with a bit of kosher salt and grind pepper over ( I do ). When egg is starting to brown at the edges, flip over to form a fast crust over the yolk. You want the the yolk to still be saucy.

Remove egg and lay over the top of your hash, then prick the yolk to allow it to flow over. Then eat!

Nutrition: 306 calories according to MyFitnessPal log

Ideas:

I could easily have changed out the burger for shrimp, chicken sausage, or ground turkey.

If you don’t like pine nuts, I’ve also added chopped cashews and pistachios. But I’m sure walnuts could also be good.