Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confessions of a Clean Eater

'Tis the season!  Labor Day has only just passed and already we are seeing all the great holiday recipes floating around the internet.  On your Facebook news feed, on Pinterest.  It's hard to look away sometimes, isn't it?  Soon and very soon, I will post some great holiday treat recipes, but for now please let me share with you why you may want to avoid all those sugar filled recipes clouding your view....

I am just going to be straight up about this.  If we don't all stop eating so much processed junk, we are going to wear our parts out way before their time!  I know we can get new knees and hips.  There are lots of meds we can take to combat hypertension, diabetes, and heart issues.  But wouldn't it be great to go into our old age without any of that or at least less of it?  I know that not everyone's issues and ailments, whatever they may be, are food related.  But I do know that we can do a better job of taking care of our bodies so that at least perhaps less medical intervention is required.  I personally know people who have been able to stop taking many or all of their medicines (with their doctor's okay) because they chose a clean eating lifestyle.  I'm sure no doctor, or any medical professional (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn once), but from my own personal experience I know how much better I feel in general when I focus on eating whole foods.

My knees have been a problem for me for a very long time.  And my hips have let me know they are not much happier.  I don't know if I will be able to avoid replacements forever, but I knew a long time ago that I didn't want to go down that road any sooner than absolutely necessary.  So two years ago I finally made shedding some weight a top priority.  All it took was a switch to clean eating.  Foods as close to their original form as possible, and no white flour or sugar.  I started subbing in stone ground whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, honey, blackstrap molasses, and dried fruits.

After a couple of years though I found that I had stalled, and even started picking up a few pounds again.  No.  We are not going down that road again!  You see, even clean treats are still treats, and I kind of lost sight of that I think.  So lately, and here is that big confession you have been waiting for, just since about Labor Day actually, I started paying more attention to my carb intake.  Now I know I always say the beauty of clean eating is that you really don't have to count anything.  And that is generally true.  But I just felt that I had gotten off track a bit so I wanted to start monitoring things more closely for a while.  I finally decided to give in and start using myfitnesspal app.  This really takes the work out of keeping track of things!  So at least it's been easy to break down and accept some help.  And boy howdy have I gotten some help!  This little tool is so cool!

As far as limiting my carb intake, it really has been mostly about limiting treats and increasing my protein.  And I truly have not felt hungry!  There is nothing worse than "dieting" and craving what you cannot have.  It just hasn't been the case.  And, to be clear, I am not going to low carb forever, nor am I going to track forever.  I am way too lazy for all that.  But for now, it is helping me return to my fighting weight and that is making me happy.

As I have traveled the low carb path I have found lots of amazing and oh yes so easy recipes to help me through!  Please allow me to share some favorites!

Meatballs ready to go in the oven!
First up, the ab-fab can't be beat meatballs alla parmigiana.  Holy moley, Batman, there is no denying these are the best meatballs I have ever had. Truly, madly, deeply!  I am lovin' these meatballs.  I had them for supper one night and for lunch the next two days.  I was sad when they were gone!  I put them together with my go-to marinara sauce and this meal was the bomb!!!

And they really didn't take that long to make and bake.  You can fry them in a pan or bake them in the oven.  I kind of combined the two methods so they would brown a bit more.  So amazing.

The quickest and easiest thing I have "discovered" is caprese salad.  I have had it before, but for some reason it has really hooked me lately.  And, in keeping with most things I do, it  is so easy!  Slice some fresh mozzarella, top with slices of fresh tomato, throw on some fresh basil, and drizzle a little olive oil over it.  MR likes a bit of sea salt sprinkled over the top as well.  Lunch in a minute!!!

Okay, and one more before I tempt you with a treat...  This soup was yet again very easy, and I love love love it!  Now don't let the name put you off.  I am not a gourmet cook so some combinations sounds odd to me, but this pumpkin chipotle soup was another winner.  (I have kind of been on a roll this week for finding great recipes!)  I actually made it the day before because it makes my life easier to prepare on the weekend as much as possible and then reheat during the week. I was concerned that the cream would not reheat well but I was oh so mistaken.  We just heated it slowly and stirred occasionally.  Quite good!  Quite good!  Doesn't taste pumpkinny (new word I just made up) but that chipotle gives it a great kick!

And now that treat I promised you!  I have been really really good for about three weeks, feeling even better than before, and shedding some weight, so yes I made a treat last night!  Remember moderation!  But these coconut chocolate bars will not totally ruin any progress you have made, that's for sure.  Minimal ingredients and you can sub whatever granulated sweetener you prefer.  I did use Stevia this time but may try coconut sugar next time.  These are not super sweet at all, but definitely allow you to feel just a little decadent!

Tonight I am using leftover grilled chicken to make pesto chicken salad. I haven't actually tried this recipe yet but I think it sounds so good!  I will forego the bread and put it on Romaine lettuce.  MR will enjoy some sourdough with this.

What are you eating today?  Whatever it is, Keep it Clean!

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