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Sugar Free

So I have set another 2 week challenge! Sugar Free for 2 weeks! By sugar-free, I am defining that as processed sugars. So natural occurring sugars such as in fruit, honey or maple syrup are okay.  The hard bit about this is that sugar is in EVERYTHING! Just read a couple food labels and you’ll see what I mean! Often it’s mixed right in there with the daily staples, like bread, cereal, yoghurt, candy (ok, so that one maybe shouldn’t be daily).

So for 2 weeks I’ll be scrutinizing food labels, and making from scratch if need be! Usually the first week just sucks as the body goes into craving overdrive for some cookies, and cakes and sweets oh my. But after that, it starts to realize “hey, I don’t need that stuff. Wow look at all this energy I’ve got.” And that’s exactly what I’ll need leading up to Kids Camp!

Kids Camp is an awesome 4 days away with about 40 kids – but you can’t really over-estimate just how exhausting it is! So, the more energy I have, and the more my body is functioning healthily, the better!

So 2 weeks…here we go! And yummy suggestions of sugar free food (either to buy or make) are more than welcome! Just post a comment below with your thoughts!

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Summer Challenge

In case you hadn’t noticed…summer is almost upon us! Which means it’s almost time for shorts and t-shirts and possibly swim suits!

In just over 4 weeks time James and I will be flying cross the Atlantic and back to my home in Southern Ontario.  I know Canada is stereotypically known for being covered in 8 feet of snow all year round (which is actually closer to the truth this year apparently), however we also get some incredibly hot summers! And not just the nice dry heat where you don’t really realize you’re all that hot, but humidity which makes it feel like you’re swimming in the air!

That said I’m hoping to spend a good few days at a beach or in a pool! So it’s time to shape up! Now please don’t read this as  me having a “fat day” and just complaining and wanting sympathy from friends and readers.  I have full understanding that I’m not fat, and I’m not looking for “oh you don’t need to do anything” (but not mean “fatty” posts either! hehe). What I am looking to do is just take these 4 weeks to eat healthily, and do some exercise so that by the end of it I’m feeling healthy and perhaps a little more toned up!

I also find it much easier to consistently post on here when I’m in the midst of a challenge! So what I’ll try to do it post any exercise routines, and specifically healthy meals.  Note – I don’t really like exercising, so it’s not going to be “Insanity” style routines. On the other hand, I know that there isn’t such a thing as a quick fix.

So, let the 4 weeks of fitness begin!

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Vegetable Garden

Veggies in Pots

Veggies in Pots

So I think I may have been bitten by the gardening bug….let’s hope my gardening genetics don’t come from my mom though…or I’m about to kill a lot of plants!  I still don’t really like flowers..they’re nice in other people’s gardens…but I can’t be bothered with them, and I’m more for simplicity and practicality!  So veggies it is!

This is two-fold. I think it will be a fun little project, but the plan is that this substitutes buying veggies from other people (stores).  It seems to me a lot easy to walk out to a garden and pick what you need then going to a shop and buying it from who knows where.

So…this will be my attempt at planting a vegetable garden!  My handsome man is going to build me a little enclosed garden area (since we have a concrete courtyard…obviously we need to start with some dirt!).  But most of the seeds I purchased suggest planting indoors first, so I started that today (aside from a couple that say sow directly).

My garden will consist of
-Tomatoes (I hate tomatoes – so does James, but I can use them to make sauces)
-Peppers
-Carrots
-Kale
-Lettuce
-Green Beans
-Broccoli
-Cucumber
-Spinach

And of course the pumpkins I started last week (nothing new on them yet…apparently they are “germinating” according to the package).

I’ve also got a few herbs started that I’d like to grow on the trellises
-Dill
-Parsley
-Coriander
-Chives
-Basil
And I’ll decide on probably about 3 more in the next few days.

 

Can’t wait!! One day when we have our own place…or at least a place with a decent garden space I would LOVE to have a proper vegetable garden/greenhouse that could actually supply our fruit and veggie needs…but I guess we’ll see how this goes first!

Since I’ve never done this before…anybody who has planted their own veggie garden…your thoughts and input are very welcome! Especially with what plant can/do grow vertical, which ones take over gardens and need space and/or any other helpful tid-bits!

I’ll keep you posted!

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Clean Eating Day 12

(This post includes recipe for Curried Coconut Chicken)

 

Well it’s Valentine’s Day and I have to let you know – I allowed myself a cheat today! I mean, what is valentine’s without chocolate!! But, I found the darkest chocolate I could – which didn’t have much sugar in it – and then I actually didn’t end up eating much of it.  But I’m very proud to say this is the first REAL and intentional cheat I’ve done. I think I could have easily have made it another 2 days without any chocolate or sugar, I wasn’t really craving it, but we thought we’d have a nice chocolate fondue…and obviously you need chocolate for that!

So other than that…here is the rest of the day

BREAKFAST: Homemade Granola & Yoghurt

LUNCH: Leftover Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups.

These were just as good reheated. I chose to reheat them in the oven so that the crispy bits stayed crispy (as in the cheese that gets crispy while cooking).

DINNER: Curried Coconut Chicken

I definitely played with this recipe. The original is from Bless This Mess, but due to personal taste…and forgetting to get a few things in…I adapted! I think it tasted brilliant, the only thing I would have to adjust is that it ended up a little runnier, so I would need to add in bits to thicken in up a bit!

Curried Coconut Chicken

Ingredients
-3 Tbsp oil (peanut, olive, coconut)
-2 Tbsp curry powder
-1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp garam masala, divided (didn’t have this so, but would try to find it next time)
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 chicken breasts cut into bit sized pieces
-1 14oz can coconut milk
-1/2 cup tomato passata
-1 cup chicken broth
-1/2 tsp salt

Directions
1. In a large dutch oven or stock pot (although I only used a skillet), heat the oil and curry powder and 1 Tbsp garam masala over a medium heat.  Cook for 5 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan, add in a bit more oil, you do not want it to burn. Add the onion and garlic powder and cook for an additional 5 minutes – if it starts to stick, add a bit of oil.
2. Add the chicken and cook until it is no longer pink in the centre.
3 Add the coconut milk, passata, broth and salt. Stir it all in to combine is evenly.
4. Cook at a low simmer until the mixture thickens – about 45 minutes to an hour. 5 minutes before serving stir in the last tsp of garam masala.
5. Serve over hot rice

Notes
-The original uses a can of diced tomatoes rather than passata, as well it adds in squash pieces and cherries.  I didn’t have any of these…but I don’t like tomatoes anyway..so I improvised.
-Because there was nothing to help absorb some of the liquid, I added in about 2 tsp of cornflour to help thicken it slightly.
-Curry flavours get better the longer they have to cook, so simmer it as long as possible! And reheating left overs the next day will have even better flavours.

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Clean Eating Day 11

(This blog includes recipes for Crock Pot Beef Taco Salad)

Today was a day of temptations! I was away all day at an event – which was a catered event. Now some of you are going to think what I did was a little over the top and, honestly, I agree with you. However, because this is only a 14 day challenge, I thought I need to stick to this 100% and give it my all, even when it’s inconvenient. So after these 2 weeks, while I will still try to eat clean and healthily, I know there will be days that it is more practical to not – or days of going out for meals. However, today…I packed my own bread, so transferred the fillings from the catered sandwich to my own. I made my own flapjack last night and brought that with me instead of eating the store bought kind. I brought plain raisins instead of eating chocolate covered raisins. And I ate a healthy, clean, banana bread bar instead of a Krispy Kreme donut that was bought for me. I also resisted the temptation when a certain friend literally trying to force feed me store bought flapjack! Granted…it’s not all that tempting to eat something from someone else’s fingers while being shoved into your lips!

BREAKFAST: Homemade Granola and Milk

SNACK: Smoothie
This was so good to have today. While everyone else was munching on chocolate covered raisins and goodies, this kept me full but also satisfied any sweetness craving.

LUNCH: Sandwich, flapjack, fruit
Ham and lettuce on my own wholewheat bread. My homemade flapjack, and thankfully they did cater in fresh fruit kebabs!

SNACK: Banana Bread Bar

Banana Bread Bar

Banana Bread Bar


My mother-in-law bought me these for this week, which was very kind of her! She searched Tesco to try to find some type of “clean” snack! And they are, there is nothing “unclean” in the ingredients.

DINNER: Crock Pot Beef Taco Salad

I got the basic idea for this recipe from Eat, Live, Run, but adapted it for my own use. This recipe is for actual tacos, but I didn’t have any wraps on hand, so I just turned it into a salad.  Here is the recipe I used and this was enough for 2 people. It might be enough for 3-4 when you add in the wrap calories, but they would probably be smaller portions.

Crock Pot Beef Taco Salad

Ingredients
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-1 1/2 tsp cumin or smoked cumin
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
-1 tsp salt
-300g Rump Steak
-1 green bell pepper
-Lettuce
-Cheese

Directions
1. Mix all the spices together then rub into each side of the steak. Use all the mixture. Place the spice covered steak into the bottom of a crock pot.
2. Add in peppers (and onions and jalapenos if desired).
3. Cook for 7-8 hours on low.
4. Once cooked, remove the steak and shred with two forks.
5. Serve as desired – hard tacos, soft tacos, salad. Top with desired elements – cheese, salsa, veggies, etc

Notes
-I have a bad habit of not properly measuring spices when cooking, I tend to just go on what looks good. But that is partially the point of spices, so the measurements are adjustable depending on your taste buds!
-I used Rump Steak, but you can use almost any kind of steak. Because it’s done in a crockpot, even the typically tougher meat cuts will be just fine!
-If you use a lean meat, you may need to add a bit of beef stock so that it doesn’t dry out during cooking.
-Once you’ve shredded the meat, you can serve immediately, or return it to the crock pot for up to a few hours until you are ready to serve
-I would add in the green pepper later in the cooking. I’m sure it added some extra flavouring to the meat, but I found they were just a bit too mushy for my taste with a full 8 hours in there.

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Clean Eating Day 10

(This post contents recipes for BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad, and Butternut Squash Lasagne Roll-Ups)

The BBQ Ranch chicken salad was supposed to be last night’s dinner. However I wasn’t home and James only have Chicken on Salad. So I made the dressing this morning to use for my lunch, so I’ll include that recipe here instead of last nights blog.

BREAKFAST: Homemade Granola and Milk

Just can’t go wrong with this at the moment! I just LOVE it! And I’ve made more Yoghurt as well, so I will be adding that again!

SNACK: Fruit Smoothie

Making healthy…or more healthy…by using spinach and chia seeds in it as well!

LUNCH: BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

This was top!! It was so good! I will definitely have this again and even just make the dressing on it’s own again as well! This recipe was originally on Bless This Mess and she does it a little different and adds a few other things as well…why not check her out if you’re looking for a bit more. I also halved the recipe for just the two of us…but the dressing will probably last for about a week, it makes tons!

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad

Ingredients
For the Dressing
-1/4 cup sour cream
-1/4 cup mayonnaise (can be substituted for plan yoghurt – especially your homemade stuff!)
-1/8 cup buttermilk
-1/6 cup barbecue sauce
-1/8 tsp garlic powder
-1/8 tsp onion powder
-1/4 tsp dried dill
For Salad
-2 hearts Romaine lettuce (we used baby spinach)
-1 Cucumber, diced
-1/2 green pepper, chopped
-2 chicken breasts, bbq’d from night before

Directions
Dressing: add all ingredients together and whisk together until smooth
Salad: add veggie together in a bowl and toss. Add chopped chicken on top. Dress lightly just before serving.

DINNER: Butternut Squash Lasagne Roll-Ups

This was so good! I’ve never been much of a squash fan (other than a good ol’pumpkin pie!) so I was a bit skeptical but gave it a go anyway, and it turned out delish! This recipe is also from Bless This Mess. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this one!

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups

Ingredients
-3 Tbsp butter
-1/4c whole wheat flour
-2 cups whole milk
-dash nutmeg
-salt to taste
-2 cups finely pureed cooked butternut squash, well salted
-9-12 lasagna noodles, cooked
-1/3 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
-1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking dish
2.In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat.  Once the butter melts add in the flour and stir until it’s all combined. Let the butter and flour cook for about 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk in the milk. Add a dash of nutmeg and the salt to taste. Whisk over medium heat and allow just to start bubbling. Cook another 2 minutes then remove from heat.
3.To assemble the roll-ups, lay out the cooked lasagna noodles on a counter top. Spread about 2 Tbsps of the Squash puree over the top of each then sprinkle with the Parmesan Cheese. Start at one end and roll the noodle. Place the rolled noodle, seam side down, on to a greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
4. Once all the noodles are in the dish, pour the sauce over top. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top then bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and everything is hot and bubbly. Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving up.

Notes
We decided to make our sauce a cheese sauce, which we think was a brilliant idea.  Make the sauce as directed, then just add in some grated cheese and allow to melt.
Also, we didn’t have mozzarella, but cheddar cheese worked just as nicely!

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Clean Eating Day 9

Here is another post all about leftovers.  Tuesday’s are just VERY busy days. I’m not getting home until about 9:30-10 at night, so James is on his own for dinner and I need to bring something with me from the beginning of the day. We all know that these days happen, and it’s great to have leftovers in the fridge! Even to prepare to have leftovers by making just a little bit more the night before! So there are no new recipes in this post – although there is meal, but I’ll post the recipe on Day 10.

BREAKFAST: Homemade Granola and Milk

This granola is lasting so long, and it’s so good! I’ll definitely be making it again!

LUNCH: Left over burgers.

Just packed up some burgers and a bun and some chips and there was lunch for the day! Burgers are just as good re-heated!

DINNER: BBQ Chicken Salad

When we BBQ’d the burgers the night before, I stuck on 2 chicken breasts as well so they would be ready to use!  Now, I wasn’t home in time to each this tonight, so I saved mine for Lunch tomorrow. James had his portion- however without the homemade dressing which ended up being DELICIOUS (he really missed out on that!) Since I’ll be making the dressing in the morning to go with my lunch, I’ll post the recipe there!

 

You don’t have to rely on packaged, or frozen or take out on days when you’re busy. Just plan ahead a bit and you can still eat well! It only takes a few minutes to add a bit extra the night before!