Archive | February 2014

My favorite oats on-the-go

Hey friends! I hope you all had a great start to your week and/or had a relaxing day off if yesterday was a holiday for you. It happened to be a holiday for me and I was psyched! I got back from visiting my twin sister in Connecticut late on Sunday night so after a day full of travel, I was happy to have a day to ease back into things on Monday.
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Kimmie and I at dinner over the weekend
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Beautiful Mom and beautiful Deb

Speaking of the weekend…my Mom and I had a memorable few days with my sister, her puppies, and her fiancé at their home in Connecticut.To say we were sad to leave is a definite understatement; family time is truly the best time. Anyway, we weren’t planning on staying for as long as we did, but because of the storm warnings we had heard in advance, we actually left our house in Maine at midnight on Wednesday night and drove through the night to beat the storm, arriving around 5:00 a.m. in CT.  (Yes we are a bit crazy, but we beat the storm.) We got a great greeting from the puppies, too, so it was worth it!
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It was important for us to be there because her wedding is now less than 100 days away!  Wedding preparations were our mission this weekend, and wedding prep we did. Veil and garter shopping/buying, seating plans, invitation prep, wedding band hunting… you name it, we discussed or accomplished it. It was an extremely productive few days. I love this beautiful bride-to-be.

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I have to admit, our fun-filled weekend made it a bit challenging to stay on track food-wise.  Just to update you, I’m still mostly following the “clean-eating” plan I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. I say ‘mostly’ because I’ve occasionally had some dairy and gluten (and chocolate and champagne…oops), and this weekend was no exception. In all honesty, though, as strict as I felt this plan was at first, it has gotten easier and easier with time. Now I simply feel that I’ve adapted to this way of eating and I just really enjoy it and the way I feel, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to deprive myself from my old favorites once in a while. (Favorites such as pink bubbly and cookie dough Oreos).

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While in Connecticut, the three of us squeezed in a couple of at-home workouts together which was great, but food-wise, when you’re near New Haven, CT and have the opportunity to eat their pizza (literally voted #1 in the USA) how could you not eat it? My gluten-free and dairy-free guidelines were pushed to the wayside that day, which I was perfectly happy with because it was truly worth it to me! 

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My plate x 2 (at least)

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with staying on track food-wise when they’re traveling, so I felt like this would be a good topic to address. This weekend was the first time since starting the clean-eating plan that I would be traveling, so it was a true test, that’s for sure. However, I tried to strategize my meals as much as I could.  For example, something that always seems to help me stay on track food-wise when I’m on the road is keeping my breakfasts and lunches consistent with what I’m used to eating.  We did this in Connecticut, too, by starting the day with protein shakes and fruit for breakfast, and having big salads for lunch. It filled us up but didn’t slow us down, something so crucial when you’re busy!

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This is something that helps me during the school week, too. My class schedule this semester is pretty much all over the place, since Mondays and Wednesdays I’m gone from roughly 8:30 am-10:00 p.m., and Tuesdays/Thursdays I have night class and I don’t return home until around 9:00 p.m on those nights, either. Needless to say, starting my days off with a wholesome breakfast and packing ‘real’ snacks and hearty lunches  is integral to fueling me through the days. That being said, overnight oats have become my staple lunch at least 3 days a week. I love them because I can prepare them the night before and just grab-and-go the next morning. They’re wholesome, protein-packed, versatile, and just so-darn-delicious. Here’s my go-to recipe :

Cinnamon-Almond Overnight Oats
Ingredients:

-Small to mid-sized container (I use a glass jar)
-1/2 cup gluten free old-fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
-1/2 cup of Almond Milk (original or vanilla Almond Breeze) Use enough to immerse the oats. Add 1-1.5 tbsp. water if oats are not immersed in liquid fully.
-1/2 TBSP chia seeds (optional)
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
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Toppings
(Feel free to mix it up with different fruits, nut butters, and nuts; these are just suggestions!)

1/4 cup blueberries
1 TBSP almond butter
1/2 TBSP silvered almonds

Directions:
Add oats, almond milk, water, chia seeds (for added protein), and cinnamon to your jar or container, stir well, and store in fridge overnight. Add desired toppings the next day before eating. Store in cold space before consuming.
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The next morning when you take your oat jar out, you’ll see that your oats have soaked up a majority of the liquid and they are now a thicker consistency. If they seem too dry, stir in a little more almond milk or water, that will help. Trust, me, they may not look pretty but they are delicious,  full of protein, and will keep you satisfied for hours.

Most days I top my overnight oats with almond butter and blueberries, but on other days I’ll choose apples, raisins, and walnuts. The possibilities are endless.  Plus, I can easily tote these in my school bag without worrying they’ll be crushed (unlike a sandwich or something of that nature), or I can leave them in my car to keep them cold. All I do is bring a spoon along with me, and I’m golden. I’ll be enjoying these today for breakfast or lunch, I can’t decide yet!
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Are you a fan of overnight oats?
Do you struggle with staying on track with your eating habits when you’re on-the-go?

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Valentine’s day shake

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! I hope you have all had a special day today. I know some people don’t like this holiday, but I do…any excuse for an entire day to say ‘I love you’ to your loved ones is a great day in my book!  Although I am missing my valentine this year, I’ve been able to ‘celebrate’ V-Day with him two days in a row because of the time difference…can’t beat that!  Plus, I’m spending the weekend with my sister and Mom, so that is helping to fill the void for me. We just popped some bubbly and cooked a dinner of roasted veggies and fresh haddock. Yum. Yum. Yum.
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I always find it fun on holidays to look back at the previous year and reminisce , so today I did just that in my camera.  On Valentine’s Day last year, Brandon made me my very own edible arrangement and cooked a wonderful coconut shrimp dinner. I much prefer eating in and celebrating together just the two of us on this holiday, so it was perfect.  I’ll never forget it! Love you, B.

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And just for fun, this was our first  official Valentine’s Day together:
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You know how college is…eating carbs before you drink your weight in booze….whoops, guilty! ; )

Anyway, since I’ve had a very busy last two weeks between three exams, applying for grad school, and maid of honor duties, I just haven’t had the opportunity to blog. I’m planning on doing  a catch-up post this week for sure, but with a spare few minutes tonight, I wanted to share this delicious Valentine’s Day protein shake I made this morning for my Mom and me as pre-workout fuel. It’s choc-full of strawberry and chocolate, gluten-free deliciousness, and I enjoyed every sip. I hope you do too!

Valentine’s Day Shake
(Serves 2 as a snack)
-2 scoops Arbonne chocolate protein powder (or any chocolate protein powder would do)
-1/4 cup-1/2 cup almond milk (plain or vanilla)-I used Almond Breeze vanilla, and started with 1/4 cup. Then I added a little more at the end of blending.
-1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
-1 scoop Arbonne fiber boost (optional) 
-8-10 frozen strawberries
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-handful of spinach
-1 tbsp flax (optional)
Crushed ice (to thicken if needed)

Instructions:
1) Put all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or ice water as needed. (I tend to like my shakes thick, so I always add less liquid. To me, a shake is best eaten with a spoon!) However, if you prefer a more liquefied shake, just add more water or almond milk. If you’d like it thicker, just use less.
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2) Optional: Garnish with a strawberry to make more festive and enjoy!

What are you up to this weekend?
Did you have a fun valentine’s inspired meal today?

We are cheer’sing our girls weekend tonight, and tomorrow we are off to go veil shopping. Yay! Oh, and we are snuggling with the puppies : –) I will also be indulging in some Valentine’s Day caramels tonight…can’t wait!

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two weeks of cleansing: the good, the bad, the hungry

Hello, hello! How is Monday going for you? Today I am semi-celebrating because today I made it to day 14 of my cleansing goal. I am psyched. Plus, I feel great too.

I want to back-up for a minute and briefly explain why I started this clean-eating cleanse.  My Mom recently started a ‘clean-eating 30-day detox’ plan with her clients, and since it’s a part of her business, she practices what she preaches. Personally I think it’s wonderful that she participates in it right along with them, even though she doesn’t necessarily have to.  Anyway, at first, I really was not into the whole “cleanse” or “detox” idea. I never have been simply because I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. I always eat 3-5 fruits a day, I drink a lot of water, I do my best to eat healthy fats at each meal, etc.  You know the drill…however, after hearing multiple testimonials regarding how great people were feeling on the cleanse, I decided it might be a good idea for me to try. Besides, since I live with my parents right now and basically eat the same meals as my Mom anyway, it was a lot easier to do the cleanse than to not do it.
These are some of our cleanse-friendly dinners: (please excuse the Christmas plates!)
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Another reason this was important for me to try out was for health reasons. A couple of years ago I underwent serious testing for celiac disease (all of which came back negative), but some of my issues surrounding it haven’t gone away. I figured two weeks of this cleanse might help me self-diagnose myself. Am I gluten intolerant? Is my dry skin a result from that? Is dairy affecting my skin?
So I began. Two weeks of no gluten, no caffeine, no dairy, no artificial sweetener, no corn.
At first, I was like um…can I eat anything? Little did I know, I could eat a lot of things!
These foods became my staples:
-Almond milk
-protein powder
-gluten free oats
-fruit (blueberries, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, grapes, clementine’s)
-Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, squash, cucumbers)
-Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
-grains (quinoa, brown rice, lentils)

The good of cleansing
-The cleanse forced me to try new things.
I am pretty much a creature of habit when it comes to food. For instance, I have eaten oatmeal and fruit with yogurt for breakfast about 6 days a week for the last 4 years of my life. I never imagined drinking a protein shake for breakfast would be appealing to me. However, after doing this for 2 weeks straight, I now look forward to making my daily shake. A few of my favorites are blueberry vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, both made with Arbonne vanilla protein powder (recipes coming soon!)
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Plus, I am now a fan of vegan cheese, gluten free pizza crust, rice chips, and more.
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-My skin improved
May I just say that this is the thing I am most happy about? The past few months I’ve had some skin issues, including breakouts, dryness on my face and hands, and unwanted bumps, all of which caused me serious frustration. Why was I have skin issues at 27? My answers: dairy and gluten. I’ve never had clearer skin and my dry hands are 10 times better. I’m certainly not going to cut dairy or gluten out of my diet completely, but I’m going to lower my intake of them, and stick to almond milk!

-I broke some habits
I was well aware I had a caffeine (iced coffee) addiction before this cleanse. It was such a habit for me to make a stop at Dunkins’ on my way to class. Well, not only have I shaken my caffeine headaches, I’ve also saved a lot of money by eliminating my coffee shop trips. Since coffee wasn’t an option for me on the cleanse, I branched out and drank a lot of caffeine free tea. Well, I am happy to say I now have a new favorite. Have you ever made a chai tea latte at home? I hadn’t, but now I am addicted. Here’s how:
Ingredients:
1 cup vanilla almond milk  ( I used almond breeze)
1 decaf spiced chai tea bag
Directions:
1) Warm almond milk until steaming on the stovetop.
2) Place teabag into mug, and then pour the steaming milk into the mug with tea bag. Let sit for 1-2 minutes.

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Voila, you now have an 80 calorie chai tea latte. You can thank me later! Smile

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-You become much more aware of what you’re putting into your body
I love meal-planning and food-planning, so I enjoyed this aspect of it. Plus, I’m now much more conscious of my choices and the nutrients I’m consuming.

The bad of cleansing
-Breaking food habits is HARD. For the first few days, I felt like I couldn’t be in the kitchen. I was having peanut-butter withdrawals, I just wanted a peppermint patty, and I really wanted to snack on my skinny-pop popcorn. Also, the lack of iced coffee in my life was not fun for the first few days. Caffeine headaches are some of the worst headaches in my opinion.

-You have to be prepared
If you’re normally an organized, prepared person, then this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! However, if you’re not, you have to be aware that preparation is a key to a successful cleanse. I packed my food bag for classes every night before bed.
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If I hadn’t prepared, I would have been hungry, and most likely would have deterred from the cleanse. Packing ample amounts of fruit, almonds, almond butter brown rice tortillas, overnight oats, gluten free crackers, and protein bites for my long days helped me to stay on track, even when I wasn’t home.
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-Socializing can be challenging
How hard is it to go out to dinner and drinks and not have your favorite cocktail or glass of wine? It’s pretty hard for me. Luckily, I’ve laid pretty-low socially for the last couple of weeks due to my exam schedule and family commitments, but there were a few nights in particular (ESPECIALLY on the Super Bowl, when I REALLY wanted a glass of white wine).

-It’s really  important to pay attention to food labels
I love reading food labels (guess I’m going into the right career!) but if you don’t, this might take some practice. Reading is key to see if a particular food or product contains dairy, gluten, artificial sweeteners, corn, etc. You will be very surprised at what certain things include…quite frankly it’s frightening!

The hungry (like my spin on the good, the bad, the ugly ? hehehe!)
-For the first few days, you might feel constantly hungry.
I certainly felt like I did, but looking back I think this was my mind craving the things I wasn’t eating (peanut butter, popcorn, chocolate,  yogurt, etc.).

-It may be a bit expensive at first
Buying gluten-free, dairy-free items can tend to be pricey, at least when stocking your cupboard and fridge. However, you won’t have to buy oatmeal, crackers and bread each week either, those things will last. The things you’ll buy weekly, things such as fresh fruits and vegetables ,cost A LOT less than boxed, processed foods, and since you’ll be eating in quite a bit, you’re saving yourself money there, too!
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Our gluten-free, vegan,  homemade pizza

-If/when you tell people you’re cleansing, be wary of the reaction.
People may be excited for you, or wonder what it is about, or may think you must be starving yourself or simply have no interest what-so-ever. That’s okay, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Just stick to your goal.

Overall,  I truly never felt like I was food deprived or starving. I’m so happy I followed through with the cleanse, and I’m looking forward to continuing to implement the things that I learned, in addition to trying new cleanse-friendly recipes. Although I will slowly introduce dairy and gluten back into my diet, I’ll eat them in lesser amounts, and choose gluten-free when I can. Oh, and I am most definitely enjoying a margarita tonight with my Mom!

Have a great Monday, friends!

Have you ever tried a cleanse? If so, how did you like it? If not, would you do one?
Are you gluten or dairy intolerant? If so, have any fun recipes to share?