Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sustainable Change

Those of you who know me personally know how much I love to cook and bake.  Now that we're eating clean again, I've decided to extend the healthy cooking to health baking.  This is a big step for me, a woman who believes wholeheartedly in white sugar, real butter, and full-fat cream!  I do ok with the cooking transitions, taking recipes that I've used for years and making adjustments to make them taste as good but with healthier ingredients.  But the baking...well, that's entirely new territory into which I've heretofore never really had the inclination to venture!  

Til Today.  

We were headed out to our usual favorite breakfast place for our Saturday morning tradition of a late breakfast lingering over coffee (I've cheated the last two Saturdays' and had a single cup of coffee with breakfast...sssshhhhh...) and THIS is what was happening:  

And it's sticking this time.  A nice, slow, steady snow with those big fat dry flakes that tend to pile up fast.

But inside Casa de Chatwell, it smells like a winter day should.  Like spicy pumpkin muffins and apple pie.  And this time, without the lingering scent of guilt that usually accompanies it!!!  :)  Here's the recipe:

Guilt-Free Baked Apples

5 Granny Smith apples, washed
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. fresh cranberries
1/2 c. steel cut oats (the big ones)
Large dollop of honey to taste (you can also use Stevia)

Heat the oven to 350.  

Slice off the top of each apple.  Using a melon baller, remove the core.  There really isn't a lot to an apple core. It's essentially the very very center of the apple, so a couple of twists of the wrist and they're out.  Using the melon baller, remove the rest of the apple guts and place them in a pan with the the 1/2 cup water and Tbsp of coconut oil.  

You can cook the apple innards while you're preparing the remaining apples and just keep adding apple to the pan until all five are hollowed out. Remember to leave enough of the inside of the apple INSIDE THE APPLE so that the sides don't cave in while they're baking.  The entire thing is going to be edible.  

Coarse chop the fresh cranberries.  These little
suckers roll, so stand close to your cutting board and use a big knife as shown.  

Add them to the pot along with the spices and salt and cook on medium until the water cooks down and the apples are soft but not yet quite falling apart.  This takes about 10 minutes or so from the time you've added the last of the apples.  

Add the oats and the honey in at about the last 2 minute mark.

Once the apples are cooked well, take them off the stove and you're ready to stuff the now gutted apples.  You should have exactly enough filling to fill the apples as the guts have cooked down a bit, but you've replaced that loss with the cranberries and oats.

Set each filled apple in a glass baking dish.  Put about a 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the dish, and put the whole thing in the oven for about 15 minutes.  

When they come out, THIS is what they'll look like.  They'll keep in the fridge for about four days and heat nicely in the microwave.  They're perfect for that afternoon snack that usually finds you at the vending machine or scrambling through drawers trying to find that one piece of halloween candy you might have missed, or the few chocolate chips that fell out of the bag...yeah, that's personal experienced speaking right there.  :)

And that smell....Mmmmmmmm.  THIS is what winter should smell like.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Ok.  So it's been 11 days now that I've been doing the Advocare thing and I'm feeling good!  The first part of the program is an herbal cleanse.  You eat well (no processed foods, no sugar, no coffee or soda, nongluten grains, high lean protein, etc.) eating every 2-3 hours or so which is something I'm not generally consistent with.  In fact, I think I probably don't eat enough calories to lose weight on any given day which may be part of my issue when it comes to losing.  You replace one meal a day with their meal replacement shake which meets your requirements for calories, protein, and other key nutrients.  You drink a TON of water (they suggest a gallon a day, but I drink so much anyway that I've just been doing what I normally do and average about 90 oz a day anyway).   For eight of the first 10 days, you do a fiber drink, and also do a probiotic for most of that time also.  There are supplements to take for extra energy that contain herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other goodies.  And that's it!  It's pretty simple.  

Here's the breakdown:

I feel good!  (said in the voice of James Brown).  I wake up wide awake (though that may still be the hypnosis I did a while back!)  I'm at my desk working by 0630 every morning, and I haven't physically missed my coffee in the sense that I haven't had any caffeine withdrawals at all.  I've been using an Advocare product called Spark, a drink mix that tastes a lot like KoolAid, in watermelon (my favorite), grape, and citrus, and it's kept me going. Though I've gotta say, I sure miss the smell of that delicious stuff brewing every morning. And I'm guessing that the coffee place in Oregon where I buy my favorite coffee beans that they roast and ship on the same day, Cafe Mam, is missing me just as much!  I'm sure that the added supplements are helping in this area also.  I have a nice, steady energy throughout the day with no crashes.  The one thing I've noticed  though is, come bedtime, I'm wiped out.  As in last night I got in bed to read and fell asleep before I could even turn on my iPad.  And the night before, I was crashed out on the couch by 7.  Not sure what's up with that as I haven't been working more than usual or been stressed about anything.  Actually, this week has been less hours put in at my desk than the past four weeks. So it may just be coincidental.  


I seem to be sleeping okay, too.  I haven't noticed a difference overall in the quality of my sleep when I do sleep.

Not noticed any change at all in my mood.  No highs or lows.  Just my usual self :)

I weighed yesterday at 10 days and found that I've lost a little over four pounds.  That's a nice, steady weight loss that isn't the product of 'crash dieting' and when I do lose weight like this, slow and steady, I tend to keep the weight off.  I'm pretty excited about that only 10 days into the program.  

Here's the part where I'm the most excited.  I've not only lost the 4+ pounds, I've also lost 2 inches from my chest/upper back (which is where I tend to carry extra weight), two inches off my waist, and a half-inch off my hips and thighs.  THIS is the biggest difference. I'm starting to see a change in how my clothes are fitting which was my biggest goal.

Honestly, the first few days on the program I was SO hungry.  But there's a good support system on Facebook that the friend from whom I purchased the program hooked me up with, and they suggested that I just eat more which I did.  That helped a lot.  I lost weight, so I'm guessing that I didn't do any actual harm by going outside of the recommended amounts to consume.  It was strange for me though as on any given day, I don't generally get hungry in the sense that my stomach growls.    And this leveled off after the first few days and didn't continue to be an issue.  I'm guessing that a lot of it was psychosomatic:  My brain saying, "Oh!  You're not gonna give us exactly what we want whenever we want it?  Here:  Take THAT!".

If you follow the blog, you know I do my cooking on the weekend, so it hasn't really taken me any extra time.  I've had to make some extra brown rice and quinoa this week to get me through as I didn't make enough on Sunday when I did my cooking.  But that's super easy.  Both of the two meals that are eaten (rather than the meal replacement shake) consist of 0.5 cup of complex carbs (for me that usually means brown rice), 4-6 oz of lean protein (I grilled chicken with different rubs and seasonings on Sunday and also grilled some tofu), and either 1 cup of vegetables and/or fruit (raw or cooked) or 2 cups of leafy greens.  This gives you quite a bit of leeway for variety.  I've made turkey burger/beef hamburger meatloaf, pot roast, and last night was a nice, hot chicken soup with a little bit of rice noodles.  It's actually quite a bit of food for me considering how I normally eat, and the crock pot has been my biggest friend this week.  I'll throw something in right after lunch and it's ready by dinner.  We even went out to dinner to a Mongolian grill one evening before a movie and I just made sure to load up more on veges than anything and try to keep my sauces on the lighter side.  But it hasn't taken any more time for me than eating well usually does.

                                                Bottom Line
The bottom line is that this has been very easy.   I seem to be getting results.  And that's really all that matters!  

Today started the second half of the program which means b'bye to the fiber drink (not gonna miss that one!) and hello to more and different supplements.  These came in a box full of two weeks' worth of supplements that come in four packs per day with each pack's instructions written on them for how and when to take them.  Before breakfast supplements consist of two separate metabolic enhancers and a probiotic.  Before lunch it's three more supplements for metabolism, three different vitamin/herbal mixes,  and an omega-3 softgel.  This will be added to the usual metabolic caps that I take three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and right before bed), and the two omega-3 capsules with dinner.  Like I said, it's a lot of supplements (about 25 total per day!).  But it isn't a lot of hassle.  

Almost halfway through the program now, so I'll keep you posted.  Will try to add some new dessert recipes that I've come up with this week to combat my sugar cravings, though those seem to be getting fewer and further between.  See ya in a few days!

Monday, November 03, 2014

That Damn Wagon

You know... the one we keep falling off of.  

Well, now the cold(ish) weather is back and we're done being irresponsible and are trying to do better about eating.  Since we last spoke, Rik had shoulder surgery which put him out of exercise commission for almost five months, and with it apparently both of our ability to eat healthy.  (To put it mildly, we're on a first name basis with the Dominoes driver.  Well, to be completely honest, with all of them.) and I'm still not cleared from the spine surgeon to work out again.  

A friend of mine tried a diet/eating system called AdvoCare.  She sold me on it when she told me what great results she had.  She's in my age bracket and had the same issues losing weight after 40 that I've had.  So I purchased the program and started my 24-Day Challenge today.  (If you're interested, please send me a private message for more information as I am now a distributor as well).

Rik will again be doing the T25 eating plan.  Both programs focus on portion control, no processed sugar, and healthy meal choices.  Rik's will be high in protein.  Mine will follow the program exactly which requires a 1/2 cup portion of complex carbs, 4-6 oz of lean protein, and 1 c. of vegetables per meal with one meal being replaced with a shake that I purchased with the program.  Since I don't generally eat a big breakfast, I'm using the meal replacement shake for that meal.  

So it's been a full day.  I was a little (I'm lying about the little part) sad about not making my coffee this morning.    

However, the replacement energy type drink that I purchased more than made up for any energy lag, even for a Monday morning.  Gotta say, I was pretty impressed!  I purchased the Watermelon Spark and the Citrus Spark.  This was the watermelon.  It tastes a little bit vitamin-like, but it's good.  And I didn't miss the caffeine that I normally get from my coffee.

So here's the day:

Rik on the T-25 Eating Plan
Breakfast:  1 cup of cooked oatmeal

Morning Snack:  2 hard boiled eggs

Lunch:  2 small pita pockets with homemade egg salad using               Greek yogurt instead of mayo

Dinner:  8 oz Turkey/Hamburger Meatloaf (recipe below)
               1.5 cups steamed broccoli and yellow squash with Butter Buds

Me on the Advocare Eating Plan
Pre-Breakfast:  Three Catalyst supplements
                           Watermelon Spark

Breakfast:  Fiber Drink from the program
                   Vegan Chocolate meal replacement shake blended with
                  1/4 cup fresh raspberries
                  1/4 banana

Morning Snack:  15 Hazelnuts

Lunch:  1 cup cooked barley
              1 cup steamed asparagus
              5 oz. grilled chicken
              Three Catalyst supplements

Afternoon Snack:  1 Granny Smith apple, sliced and baked at 350 degrees
                              sprinkled with 1 packet of Truvia and about 1 tsp of cinnamon

Dinner:  4 oz Turkey/Hamburger Meatloaf (recipe below)
               1 cup steamed broccoli 
              Three Catalyst supplements
              Two OmegaPlex supplements
(I accidentally ate too big a serving of carbs at lunch so I cut them out of dinner)

Evening Snack:  I'm allowed an evening snack, but I'm not sure I'll eat it.  However, just for the sake of thoroughness, its:  
               Chia Seed Pudding using:
                           2 Tbsp Chia seeds
                           5 red raspberries, smooshed
                           1 Medjool date (chopped, placed in hot water, and then blended)
                           1/4 tsp. vanilla
                           3 Tbsp. Coconut milk
                           1/4 cup coconut water

Before Bed:  Three cleanse tablets

Here's the meatloaf recipe.  If you're looking for step-by step with pictures, you can click here for those along with another recipe for meatloaf which is super tasty too.  This one just caters to the no bread (I usually use bread crumbs) that are a requirement on my Advocare eating plan.  

Healthier Meatloaf  
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 of a Granny Smith apple, grated
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 cup oat flour 
1/4 cup reduced-sugar ketchup (a bit extra for the top)
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Basil

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*Mix all ingredients well and press into a 9 x 9 glass dish.
*Bake for 20-30 minutes until done in the middle.
*Pull the meatloaf out about 10 minutes before it's done and drain it well.  Before putting it back in the oven, lightly coat it with some more ketchup.

So!  I'll keep ya posted.  So far so good.  We're still a bit limited on the working out part, but we're back eating clean.  I'd gained back some of the weight I'd lost originally and found that previous tricks just weren't working like they did the first time.  So this time, I'm saying goodbye to my weekly visit from my friends Ben & Jerry, and my usual Friday trip to Noodles and Company (b'bye Japanese Pan Noodles no shitake) :(  But I've gotta say, it feels good to be eating right again.