Tag Archives: healthy eating

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan & DELICIOUS Pumpkin Oat Muffins!

Hi everyone!

These muffins are a re-make of my whole wheat pumpkin muffins that I LOVED before I went gluten-free to resolve a pretty severe gluten intolerance. I love what going off gluten has done for my body and mind, so I’d never go back, but sometimes… you just want a muffin. These are amazing and can fit pretty much any diet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1.25 c rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water [or just use 1 egg]
  • 1 can pumpkin or 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c almond milk or water
  • Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and any other spices desired, to taste. I like a lot of cinnamon!

Mix up your ingredients and bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Each muffin has 125 calories, 6g protein, and 5g fiber. Enjoy!

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A Vegan Crockpot Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry for Fall

This vegan crockpot curry recipe is perfect for fall. I made it earlier this week, and it was a huge hit! It freezes well in single servings. I’m definitely keeping a batch on hand for busy, cold nights. It’s really flexible; feel free to add more vegetables if you have them on hand.

 

Ingredients

  • 2-4 cups of chickpeas (If you use canned chickpeas, use 1-2 cans. I make mine from scratch to avoid sodium & BPA.)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, washed and chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped (or one can of diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1 zucchini, chopped (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced (optional)
  • 5-6 cups water or vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 tablespoon curry (or more to taste)
  • A little salt and pepper if desired

 

Dump everything in the crockpot, stir it around, and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until done. Enjoy!

 

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Reflections on 9 Months of Weight Maintenance

In January of this year, I hit the 120s for the first time since I was ten years old. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. Part of me assumed I’d regain at least some weight quickly. A weight that started with “12” just seemed so … low.

But time went on, and I felt great. I maintained my weight within a few pounds despite job changes, a stress fracture, and a little bit of indulgence in delicious summer foods.

About a month ago, I dropped below 125… and stayed there. At one point. I saw “120.2” on the scale. That was too low; my skirts for work hung way too low in the back. But now, I’m around 123-124, and it’s… comfortable.

What’s even more important is: weight maintenance is no longer a struggle.

So what’s changed? One word… plants.

After reading Michael Pollan’s books and The China Study, I have, without even realizing it, begun to cultivate eating habits that approximate those of a vegan. My use of animal products has become smaller and I’ve eliminated most without even intending to do so. I replaced the chicken in my buffalo chicken quinoa with chickpeas. I eat serving bowl-sized salads on the weekends with cranberries, walnuts, balsamic dressing, chickpeas, and apple slices. Lunch is frequently a bowl of steel-cut oats with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and 2 cups of berries. (Talk about a power bowl – this gives me energy all afternoon!)

Will I stay 90% vegan? Who knows. It’s possible. I feel great, my skin looks good, and I have tons of energy. I take a multivitamin with iron and vitamin B. My wallet is certainly better off without eating meat. We’ll see how things go – I’m excited to explore a plant-based diet!

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Dinner in 30 minutes: Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowls

One of the main complaints I read often about real food is that it takes a long time to make. While many people don’t have time to cook up extremely elaborate meals, you can feed your family good, nutritious, homemade food without spending hours in the kitchen.

Here’s a recipe that takes 30 minutes from start to finish, and produces enough leftovers for at least a few extra meals. It’s outrageously good, ridiculously cheap, filling, and nutritious. What’s more, you can make this for a weight-loss or weight-maintenance diet while still feeding your spouse/partner the same meal. I enjoyed one serving of this for dinner, while my husband got the nutrition he needs by doubling his portion of quinoa, adding more cheese, and eating a roasted sweet potato on the side.

Directions:

Cook up about 1c dry quinoa (makes 3c cooked -great for leftovers, and it freezes well!)
Meanwhile, bake your chicken. I bake mine in the oven for 10-15 minutes & then finish them on the stovetop.
Chop up a few cucumbers and carrots, plus some celery if you have it on hand. (I didn’t.)
When the quinoa is done, portion it into bowls and top with goat cheese or blue cheese.
Stir the cheese around so it melts in the hot quinoa.
Fold in the chopped vegetables and chicken.
Top with buffalo sauce of choice and stir well so that everything is mixed together.

One serving is 3/4c cooked quinoa, 1 chopped chicken breast, 1-2 tbsp buffalo sauce of choice, and 1/2c chopped cucumber plus any other veggies you want.

I used organic quinoa from Costco, a 4-oz Perdue frozen chicken breast (also from Costco), 1 tbsp of Wing Time buffalo sauce (medium), 1 oz goat cheese from Whole Foods, and 1/2 c chopped cucumber with the peel.

Nutrition facts: 11 g fat (4g saturated), 34g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 646 mg sodium, 33g protein, 9% vit A, 8% vit C, 3% calcium, 27% iron. Cost: $2.00 for 6 generous servings

I served this with roasted summer squash on the side for extra vegetables. I roasted the squash while I cooked the chicken, so that didn’t add any extra time. It 30 minutes from start to finish and was well worth the minimal effort.

This would also be delicious with blue cheese instead of goat cheese!

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A delicious breakfast

I have been so negligent about posting lately, but wanted to share my amazing breakfast from this morning!

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One roasted sweet potato with raw almond butter. It was so good that I had seconds. It sounds like an odd combination, but it was absolutely scrumptious.

Lunch today will probably be a salad. Snack is a lemon Quest bar and a diet coke. Dinner? Who knows.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

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Weight Loss & PCOS

I get asked frequently about my weight loss tips for women struggling with PCOS. I have a particularly nasty case of it. After being diagnosed 8 years ago, I immediately started putting on weight. It was really unpleasant. I craved carbs 24/7 and indulged that craving pretty much every day. Breakfast would be something like two bagels with fat-free cream cheese. I’d eat a Subway sandwich, Chipotle, or 2 hot dogs for lunch. An afternoon snack would often be something like 1/2 a pound of chocolate covered peanuts. Dinner would be two lean cuisines (ha!) followed by half a bottle of wine and extra dessert.

One would have thought that I was allergic to vegetables or anything that didn’t come from a box.

I’ve written this before, but — before I lost the weight, I had a rash on my neck and underarms from insulin resistance/pre-diabetes. My neck looked dirty all the time from skin discoloration.

A digression: I will never forget getting ready to go to a wedding 5 weeks after my son was born. I was 240 pounds and my stomach was still soft and large from pregnancy. I had bought a cotton dress from Target to wear, but even that wasn’t enough to hold back the sweat in the 90 degree heat.

I got out of the shower that afternoon and saw that my neck still looked like it wasn’t clean. I stood in front of the mirror, scrubbing away with a washcloth and soap… it wasn’t dirt. It was the byproduct of high insulin levels…. terrifying.

Losing weight with PCOS is often a little more complicated. I’ve read so many blogs by women whose doctors told them it was “basically impossible.” How I wish medical professionals wouldn’t say that – it’s not true! Yes, you have somewhat different concerns, but it’s completely possible.

After I lost weight… my cycles are still messed up, but the physical pain and discomforts are GONE.

I don’t have the terrible abdominal bloating anymore.

I no longer have the incredible pelvic pain that kept me from wearing pants.

I don’t have terrible cramping in my upper abdomen at the end of the day.

My blood sugars have normalized, although I still get low blood sugar from time to time.

It is pretty awesome.

So that said, here’s my advice…

1. The most difficult time for me was the first two weeks. IT WILL SUCK. There is no getting around it. It feels like a detox. Your carb cravings will be insane. Don’t give in. After the first two or three weeks, it will start to feel much easier.

2. Simple carbs are evil. Sugar isn’t great for anyone, but if you have PCOS, it will mess you the heck up. Eating sugar feeds the carb cravings that can get so bad. If you’re looking for recipes, avoid those that focus on chemical, sugar-packed substitutes for real foods. I have found that “low fat” products are usually fine, and non-fat plain Greek yogurt is great. But the “fat free” stuff is usually packed with sugar. Don’t go for the non-fat stuff because it has fewer calories.

If you do go for simple carbs, try to avoid having them at breakfast. That’s when your blood sugar will take the biggest hit.

3. Exercise is so important. Do what you can. If this is walking outside on flat ground for five or ten minutes after a meal, that’s awesome. Slow walking after meals is probably the best thing you can do to help your pancreas process sugar. I noticed a huge drop in my blood sugar numbers when I started walking after dinner.

4. If you need medication support, by all means, take advantage of it. I used Metformin to help with my blood sugar levels until I was about 155 pounds. If the Metformin upsets your stomach, see if you can take 1/2 your dose (or the entire dose) right before bed with a snack.

5. Recognize that the scale might fluctuate a bit as you get started. It can be really discouraging when you start working out and eating well and the scale goes UP. Everyone will tell you it’s because your gaining muscle. This isn’t quite true – what’s probably happening is that your muscles are gaining glycogen storage. Every time I take a break from exercising, I drop 2 pounds overnight from loss of glycogen. And then when I start back up, I gain the weight right back. If you go up more than a few pounds, re-examine your calories. But don’t worry about weight gain at the start – it’s likely temporary.

6. TRACK AND MEASURE. This is critical for most folks when they start a “diet” or “healthy lifestyle” or whatever you want to call it. For PCOS women, it’s even more important. Portion control is probably my #1 challenge, still, now that I’m maintaining. You can get a cheap set of measuring cups and a little digital food scale at Target for under $15 total.

 

Do you have PCOS? What advice would you give to PCOS ladies on how to manage the condition?

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Healthy Eating is Not (Really) About Deprivation or “Balancing”

If I had a nickel for each time I read something like, “I had ice cream this weekend because I’m balanced and don’t want to deprive myself!” … I would have a significant amount of money at this point.

Y’all. Healthy eating is not about deprivation. It’s not deprivation to make the right choices for your health and for your body. It’s not deprivation to turn down a craving for processed simple carbs and pick whole, fresh foods. It’s not “deprivation” to skip the office doughnuts and snack on a Greek yogurt instead.

And yes, in a way, I am absolutely seeking to “deprive” myself of things that will negatively affect my health.

You wouldn’t try to “balance” your intake of cyanide, for example – why try to “balance” your intake of foods that don’t nourish your body and spike your blood sugar?

We need to redefine the vocabulary of healthy living.

Healthy eating is not about deprivation. It’s about positive choices that affirm your body’s worth and nourish your whole self.

Healthy eating is not about balance. It’s about recognizing the importance of food and filling your plate with truly nourishing items.

Healthy eating is not about denying yourself. It’s about expanding your palate, trying new things, and making good choices.

Healthy eating is also not about following anyone else’s “diet rules.” Do what works for you. (If you’re motivated to make good choices by knowing that you’ll have an ice cream cone on the weekends, that’s awesome. That type of motivation, however, doesn’t work for me.)

When I was about 135-140 pounds, I struggled so hard to “balance” my eating. I really thought I could and should indulge in desserts, chips, extra bacon, etc. in order to balance all the healthy foods I was eating.

What I finally realized was that I don’t want balance. I don’t want to have a subtraction (unhealthy food choice) for every addition (healthy food choice) I make. I want the highest quotient of healthy foods possible.

That’s my goal.

And when I figured that out, the last ten pounds came off with very little effort on my part.

And today I’m 125 pounds.

Down 135 pounds from my highest pregnant weight and 125 pounds from my highest non-pregnant weight.

I don’t restrict, I don’t “indulge,” I don’t eat crap that I know will spike my blood sugar, induce future cravings, and leave me with less energy.

And for the first time in my life… I’m at peace with my body.

It’s a good feeling.

Today’s Menu

Breakfast: spinach shake (1 c almond milk, 2 tbsp PB2, 8 oz baby spinach, 1 c water, ice, frozen banana), coffee. ~260 calories

Snack: 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 Chobani blueberry yogurt (I prefer plain, but the flavored ones are cheap at Costco). ~200 calories.

Lunch: 4-5 c baby arugula, topped with 1/2 c chickpeas, ~1/2 c edamame, balsamic dressing, 2 tbsp slivered almonds. On the side: 1 banana & a hard-boiled egg. ~500 calories.

Snack: 1/4 c vanilla frozen yogurt + 1+ c berries YUM YUM YUM. ~200 calories.

Dinner: to be decided later depending on what’s in the fridge.

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