Find Something that Works: Part 2

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my journey into Intermittent Fasting.  When I eat is just one small part of my new adventure into weight loss and jeans fitting.  Drastically more important than WHEN I eat….is WHAT I eat.  I’ve only been working on fasting since January 22nd.  I know it’s only been 2 MONTHS, but I can already see and feel a big difference.  Nothing is set in stone, and life is about living and being flexible.  Mental flexibility is something I’ve always struggled with, but learning and working through diet and nutrition has taught me a ton about being flexible with myself.

I briefly mentioned the other week that I’m trying to eat a ketogenic style of diet.  Trying would be the key word here, but let’s dive into exactly what a ketogenic diet means.  In it’s simplest terms, a ketogenic diet involves getting the majority of your daily calories from fat sources.  Typically, 70ish% of your daily calories should come from fat.  The next largest percentage is protein, with carbohydrates make up a very small percentage of a strict keto diet.  The goal of the diet is to force your body into using fat for fuel.  The lower you keep your carbohydrate intake, the more your body is forced to use fat, both consumed and stored, for an energy source.

Now, I’m just a normal girl, trying to live my best life, fit into my jeans without looking like a can of Pillsbury biscuits, and keep my booty looking good in yoga pants.  I’m not a fitness model, an Instagram influencer, or a liscensed nutritionist.  Eating well and looking good is important to me, but my life and livelihood doesn’t depend on it!!  I’ve done some research online, made myself an action plan, and I’m just trying to live my best life…..WHILE STILL LIVING MY LIFE!  As with anything, there’s a serious way and a casual way to pursue things.  Some follows of the ketogenic diet go all out, buy urine test stripes to test for ketones, and run in the opposite direction at the mere sight of bread and noodles.  I, am not one of those people.

Do I sometimes eat more carbs than I should….yuppers!  Do I usually not manage to eat a high enough percentage of fats…….mostly everyday.  Do I skimp on my protein…..rarely!  I am trying to take all my research and work out and tweak a system that works for me.  I care less about the style of dieting I’m doing and more about the results I’m seeing and achieving.  I’ll show you some average days of my eating….you’ll see that I’m far from perfect, but it’s a journey!

I have the macro settings in my app, My Fitness Pal, set up as ketogenic percentages.  Even though I almost always eat more than 20 grams of carbs…..I like leaving the settings that low.  I find it helpful because when I enter foods that are higher in carbohydrate percentages the app flags up an alert.  I rarely change what I’m going to be eating, but it helps me be mindful of things.  If I’m having something carbohydrate heavy for lunch then I will eat something fat and protein heavy for dinner and snacks.  As far as my workouts go, I feel much better and stronger if I make sure I am at or very near my protein requirements every day.

I also don’t make a ton of restrictions to what I’m eating.  If The Engineer and I make burgers at home, I just skip the bun….but I still eat all the rest of the toppings!  If we make tacos at home I will have one regular, on a tortilla, and if I’m still hungry I’ll make one salad style with just a extra bit of lettuce.  Easy peasey and low stress and effort!  I just try to not eat processed carbohydrates.  That means generally avoiding buns and noodles, but occasionally The Engineer wants raviolis…..so we have raviolis!  Life is no fun without the occasional drink and sauce covered noodle……and I like living my life!  As far as restrictions, that’s really all I do.  I don’t feel like I’ve had to change the way I eat  or adjust to a whole new style of eating.  I try not to make it too hard on myself, and I also try to not stress if things don’t always line up for a day or a weekend.  Stress can cause you to hold belly fat…..so don’t get too caught up and worried!

As far as my daily goals, I try and keep my carbohydrate consumption to under 100 grams, and I try and keep those sources natural…..fruits, veggies, those sorts of things.  I also try to be very conscious of my sugar consumption.  The app currently allows me 60 grams a day, but typically I consume 30 or less grams.  Carbs, protein, and sugar…..that’s all I focus on and it’s easy and manageable.  I do also track calories, but that takes some researching and finding out what your body needs, so I’ll cover that in part 3.

So far all seems good in the hood!  I have been able to slightly increase my weights at the gym, all my jeans button, and I’m feeling much better overall.  There may come a time when I bump my calories up higher and try to gain more muscle.  To really gain muscle you have to eat more calories than you burn, but that process is a ways off in the future for me.  The more you google the more you realize that there’s no easy or set way to navigate any of this, but as of right now I feel pretty good on the track I’m on.  I’ll post some links below to some of the websites I’ve used to help figure out my macro percentages, what I use to track my food, and some other links that have been helpful on getting me started.

Adding in your favorite recipes and workouts is also very easy, and you can customize your macros to suit whatever your needs are….ALL FOR FREE!  There is a subscription version, but I just use the basic free one!!

 

 

Slicing and Dicing the Blues

I like cooking.  I might even love cooking, but it’s sometimes a hard thing to wrangle when you’re single.  Yes, I could come home from work every night and whip myself up something yummy, and yes I would probably be happier for it in the long run.  But, a single person doesn’t need to have a fridge that’s over flowing with food all the time.  This is why I’ve rather come to enjoy hosting parties and holidays at my house.  It gives me the ability to go to town in the kitchen without having to deal with all the fruits of my labor.

In an attempt to combat the huge quantities of food I sometimes manage to create, but mostly because Lil Sis had a 50% off coupon….I decided to give Blue Apron a whirl.  If you aren’t familiar, they are a food delivery company where you select the meals you’d like every week and they ship all the ingredients to you in a single box.

 

I HATED IT!

Okay, hate is maybe a strong way to put it….but I didn’t really enjoy the process or understand the point.  Yes, it was nice that they shipped only two portions of each meal, yes it was nice to try some new recipes with spices you wouldn’t normally purchase, yes all the meals are sent with very specific instructions to assist even the worst at home chefs, but overall the meals weren’t all that great and the whole process left quite a bit to be desired.

The way I see it, part of the cooking process is going to the store and picking ingredients.  I know that Blue Apron is shipping out thousands and thousands of boxes each week so they don’t have time or the ability to pick through all the veggies and check everything, but that’s the perk of being able to go pick your own.  I received wilted green beans, zucchini with a big, mushy portion, and herbs that were looking slightly past their peak.

Speaking of herbs, I love using fresh herbs, garlic, and ginger….but all are much more convenient to purchase in pre-minced varieties.  I might love to cook, but I don’t enjoy mincing garlic and peeling ginger.  Although, there is something satisfying about whacking cloves with your knife for easier peeling…….I’m not sure that people who aren’t familiar with cooking often would have an easy or quick time of making up any of these recipes.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we…..Week 1 meals

 

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I’m not sure that my salmon really ended up crispy….although I mean a filet of salmon is always delicious.  The major issue I had with this dish was the orzo salad.  Now….I generally like everything that went into the salad:

  • Orzo
  • Green Beans….which arrived wilted and sad 😦
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Lemon
  • Sour Cream

However, as you’ll notice, my salad ended up much…creamier….than the salad they have pictured.  The first few bites of the salad seemed okay, but the longer it sat the worse and worse it got.  I actually didn’t even eat the second portion of the salad.  I’m not sure if something happened to the sour cream during shipping….or if the addition of the lemon juice caused it it curdle….I just know it became essentially inedible.  Needless to say, I wasn’t off to a great start.

 

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These tacos….specifically the spices used on the meat…where quite tasty.  Sour cream was included to top the tacos, and I skipped it to avoid the same disaster as the first meal.  I might make a variation of these in the crock pot sometime using like a pork roast instead of the sausage.  The sausage was a bit greasy…as sausage is, but I think a pulled pork style taco would be delicious!  Also, the quick slaw was easy and had good flavor.  Overall, this wasn’t a bad recipe which could be improved on and added to my standard rotation of cooking.

 

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A perfectly fine dish.  Wasn’t amazing….wasn’t bad….could have probably used more spice and zip, but I used all the ancho chile powder that had been shipped.  Again, I’m not sure that getting corn off of the cob is something that everyone knows how to accomplish….so I’m not sure that “Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob” is really going to be enough of an instruction for anyone trying to use Blue Apron to learn how to cook at home.  Even for those of us who know how to accomplish the task….it’s messy!  Again, I made the lime crema…..but didn’t use it on the dish.  I might whip this up again, I might not……but it’s good to have recipe options laying around for when you need to spice up the routine.

I didn’t mean to receive an additional week of meals…especially at full price….which is quite a price honestly, $60!!  

But, I didn’t get it cancelled in time, so….on to Week 2 meals!

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I don’t love mushrooms…..I don’t mind the flavor, it’s the texture that really gets to me.  A bit like eating rubber bands if I’m honest.  Luckily, the large slices were easy to pick out and around.  Again, this was a nice little dish that I might try again, maybe using a different style of noodle.  The main perk I got from Blue Apron was the ability to try spices like togarashi without having to commit to buying a huge quantity of it.  We’ve all done that…..found a recipe that sounds good and bought a dozen random ingredients only to discover that we hate it.  Then the spices just sit around, and we know we will probably never use again.  The quick pickles were crunchy and well spiced.  I’m also a huge fan of cooked celery and radishes, so that didn’t hurt this recipe at all either!

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Sorry for the less than fancy picture…I made this late one night and just split it into portions for lunches.  It’s just a fancy version of breaded, fried chicken and a warm potato salad.  This potato salad I might make again.  Actually, these were the first brussels sprouts I think I’d ever had!!  Again, it had celery which I do really enjoy.

Much like the blackened chicken with corn salsa…..it was good, not great.  I will probably keep it around just to add some variety to my life.  I was briefly debating adding this potato salad to my Thanksgiving spread, but I’m not hosting this year due to some family shuffling around.

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My cousin and I made these sandwiches as part of our booze and crafting weekend.  The idea of a turnip sandwich was good, but I’m not sure they worked out all that well.  Again, we skipped the crema, because by now I’ve just realized there’s something always a bit off with the creams they send.  Therefore, there was no goo keeping the sandwiches together, so when we flipped them in the pan everything just sorta exploded out.  The slaw was basically just dressed in oil and lime juice.  It was light and fresh, but there wasn’t much to it.  We both ended up adding some shredded cheese onto the sandwiches which added the creamy, gooey-ness we both thought they were missing.  I’m not sure I’d make these again, but if I saw it on a menu I might order it.  It was sorta a bland ending to what was a disappointing food weekend of crafting, bitching, and booze with my cousin!

The other thing I find particularly annoying about Blue Apron is the inability to select any 3 of the 6 meals that they offer each week.  There are usually 3 meat options and 3 vegetarian options.  However, you can’t mix and match any of the recipes, which as someone who eats both vegetarian and non vegetarian food, I find annoying.

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The two combinations you can’t see are Beef and Potato Latkes and Harissa Chicken Skewers.  I just find it annoying the I couldn’t have latkes and burgers.  I’m not sure why that is.  There is actually an option to select that you eat strictly vegetarian and then I’m sure they adjust the given recipes accordingly.  Frankly, any omnivore, the meal plan I selected, who wants to try a veggie burger isn’t going to care if the veggies get shipped along with the meat to make the latkes.

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Heaven forbid you would want to have spicy shrimp linguine and squash curry in the same week!!!  

It’s just stupid little things like this that annoy me, but when the options are either paying $60 a week to have limited options, or going to the store, probably spending less money, and being able to eat anything in any combination that I want…..the answer seems pretty clear to me.  It’s especially easy because the major grocery store here now offers online shopping.  You can either schedule a time to go collect your preselected food from the store, or they also offer delivery options which can be free if your total bill is large enough.  I don’t use these services as I don’t at all mind grocery shopping and I have plenty of time to be doing it, but they are offered and basically serve as a DIY Blue Apron for those who use them.

I Made Pineapple Salsa….Solid First Effort

Over Superbowl weekend I was staying with my best chemistry girl in Nebraska!  I ended up getting snowed in there an extra night, and we had to scamper out to the grocery store for food and football snacks.  I found a tub of pineapple salsa, and I’ve been having cravings for more ever since.  I bought some from a store up here last week, and it was a sad, sad situation!

I’m done with school for a couple weeks, found myself with some free time, a pineapple in the fridge, and decided to get to business.  I didn’t take any pictures of the process, because well….this could have ended badly.  However, it didn’t!  Frankly, I might never improve this recipe because it was easy and fast, and sometimes you need a healthy snack now!

 Ingredients:

  • One Jalapeno, Seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • About One Quarter of a Pineapple
  • One Half Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • Plenty of Salt and Pepper

I don’t have a food processor or blender, but I have an off brand Magic Bullet!  I threw about half the pineapple in a bullet cup with the cilantro and spices.  I started with half the jalapeno….because again….questionable activities here!

The bullet is hard to pulse on, so the first batch got a bit too runny.  The salsa from the grocery store was a bit chunky, and I have to say I’m a fan of the chunky salsas.  In an attempt to remedy the texture, I threw the other half of the quarter pineapple in the bullet with the rest of the jalapeno, and tried my best to get a rough chop with the magic bullet.  It wasn’t a super successful attempt at chunky salsa…..there is no good way to chop with a magic bullet apparently.

Well, there it is folks.  Five ingredients and a cheap magic bullet gave me a quick, yummy salsa, albeit one with a smoother texture.  I’ll take the easy Wednesday win!  Now time to vacuum up some fur bunnies and curl up with my Scout baby for a movie.  It’s good to be us this week.