Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cleaning Up the Diet

You may remember that I did the Advocare 24 day challenge last Spring. I cleaned up my diet, lost almost 10 pounds (and several inches), gained a lot of energy, and got a jump-start on getting rid of those last pounds I gained with the twins. I gained a good bit of weight during that pregnancy and once I turned 30, it was NOT easy to get rid of!! So I decided to start the new year, another challenge was in order to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and to get healthier. 

After the 10 day cleanse phase, I was down 4.6 pounds. I lost a lot of bloat and felt so much better and healthier!

I've got 1.5 weeks left in the challenge and I'm still going strong. I'm down 6 pounds since starting the challenge. I started eating the "advocare way" (lean proteins, lots of fruits/veggies, small amounts of complex carbs) 5 days before starting the challenge, and since then I've lost 8.6 pounds. I'm below my pre-pregnancy weight now and once I get to my ultimate goal (which, to be honest, I don't even really know what that is) I plan on working to tone up and tighten.

I wanted to share some of my favorite Advocare-friendly recipes with you. 
Some are just links to other sites, and some are my own.

These zucchini boats are awesome! I've seen recipes for a taco version but I made mine Italian with some natural marinara sauce, and some Italian herbs and spices. 
And these could not be easier. 
- Cut the ends off your zucchini and slice them in half. Spoon out some of the core/seeds so your meat sauce has a little "ditch" to sit in. Bake for about 10 minutes at 375. You can sprinkle some herbs/spices on them as well to help add even more flavor to this dish.
- Meanwhile, brown your lean ground beef or turkey, add in any italian seasonings you like, and pour in jar of marinara sauce. I used Alessi's all natural chunky marinara, but you could make your own. 
- Let your sauce cook together for several minutes, then spoon meat sauce into "boats". 
- Throw back in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until zucchini is to your preferred tenderness.
You can definitely serve this with a small portion of whole wheat pasta, but I usually like to skip carbs at dinner. Top with a little cheese if desired. It's delicious without it, though!

I love me some ground turkey!! One of my favorite things is a good lettuce-wrapped turkey burger. Using a whole wheat bun is totally fine, but on this particular night, I did have a baked sweet potato with it, so I held the bun.

Last week, I made a tasty chicken stir-fry and it could not have been easier.
I diced up some boneless skinless chicken breasts and let them brown. 
Then I dumped in a bag of frozen Asian vegetable medley, seasoned it all up with some garlic powder, ground ginger, a little sesame oil(a little goes a long way), soy sauce, and a little bit of bottled teriyaki sauce. I added in some extra broccoli for even more veggies. 
It was so good and filling. I served it over just a little bit of brown rice and it was delicious!!!

Last night, I made "Cracker Barrel" chicken tenders. They were really good, but I'm not sure they taste too much like CB's.
There are 573(I may be exaggerating) different links with the exact same recipe. Search Pinterest and you'll find them. Basically, you marinate chicken tenders in some Italian dressing, honey, and lime juice. I let mine marinate for almost 3 hours. Cook them in a skillet, but be careful! That honey will make them burn and your skillet will be a mess. 
Some people say to pour the entire contents of the bag (chicken and marinade) into the skillet. I did not do that. Just my preference.
I served them with some cauliflower mash and sliced tomato. If you haven't discovered cauliflower mash, you MUST try it. 
I boil an entire head of cauliflower florets in water (add in one chicken bouillon cube) until fork tender.
Drain and return to pot and hot stove to let some of the water cook out. These things hold in the water like something awful! You have to let the extra liquid cook out.
After it's cooked out a good bit, I added just a splash of unsweetened almond milk, some minced garlic, seasoned salt, and I did add in a tiny bit of shredded cheese. This seems to help take out that cauliflower flavor. (I hate raw cauliflower) If you're craving some mashed potatoes but want a healthier alternative, I'm telling you...these are amazing!!! Look up recipes on Pinterest for more inspiration.

One of my absolute favorite recipes I've discovered is Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps.
A lot of times, I'll use ground chicken. My husband prefers the chicken over the turkey. Tastes the same to me, but I pick my battles. :)
This is great served over brown rice as well.

I also made some simple taco bowls last week. Brown lean ground beef (or turkey) and add in low sodium taco seasoning packet. I added in a can of rotel, some diced green bell pepper, and black beans. You can add in some corn, and anything else you would like in a taco bowl. I added the mixture to some shredded lettuce and a little brown rice, topped with a small drizzle of salsa, and a few jalapeƱos. So yummy!

Once the 24 day challenge is over, I plan on sticking with this way of eating. I will certainly incorporate coffee back into my morning, 'cause I'm not depriving myself of something I love that much. I am doing without it for this challenge, though, and I must admit that I miss it. 
My fruit punch Spark drink helps keep me energized, though. 

I firmly believe you should allow yourself one cheat meal a week. If you've got that reward to look forward to, you're more likely to stick to eating healthy the rest of the week. Plus, life is too short to deprive yourself of the things you love. You love a good cheeseburger? Have it. That PSL from Starbucks float your boat? Enjoy that. Want a yummy "Hot Now" donut for a treat?(chocolate iced, with kreme filling, in case you're wondering what kind I like) Dive right in. Just eat right the rest of the week and have that little reward waiting on you one time a week. One of them...not all of them. ;)
I've already decided my first cheat meal will be some yummy, cheesy pizza!!! Mmmm.....

If you're interested in learning more about Advocare, go check it out for yourself. I'm not a distributor and I don't sell it or have any financial interest in it. I just like passing things along. :)
Hope 2015 is off to a good start for you!!!