Experiencing each day, surprises & all

Category Archives: Th(is) Clean Eating

We had friends over for dinner the other night, and I made a bean salad adapted from a recipe that my friend Katie had shared with me (from here). With the leftovers, I created lunch the next day. The combination of beans and quinoa made for a light, yet satisfying, healthy meal, and the mangos (picked from our own tree!) added a delicious, yet not overpowering, sweetness. I definitely make this again (intentionally, as a complete dish).
Three Bean Tropical Quinoa

Tropical 3 Bean Quinoa Salad

  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 2  cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 2-3 mangoes, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2-3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  1. In a medium bowl, mix salad ingredients.
  2. In a shaker/blender bottle, combine dressing ingredients and shake well to blend. If you don’t have a blender bottle, whisk in a bowl to combine, streaming the oil in to the other ingredients. Taste dressing and adjust ingredients to taste.
  3. Pour over salad and stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
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What I learned the first time trying to eat clean-ish was that I needed to be ready with snacks to meet my cravings head on. Especially in the first week when the body is crying for sugar and salt and everything naughty. In order to be ready to curb my sugar cravings, I whipped up some delicious fauxkies (faux cookies. May or may not be a legitimate word, but I feel wrong calling these cookies). I made two different sets based off of recipes that I had Pinned.

Cookie dough bites

Raw Cookie Dough Bites are a go-to for me. I make these even when I’m not eating clean. They really do taste like you’re eating raw cookie dough, but are safe because there’s no raw eggs in them. I make them fairly similar to the original recipe, which you can find linked below, with some swap outs that keep them clean and, let’s be honest, allow me to avoid the grocery store.

Raw Cookie Dough Bites

  • 2/3 cup raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 2/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup raisins
Raw cookie dough bite ingredients

Imagine there’s cinnamon there …

Put all ingredients, except for raisins, in food processor and blend. You’re looking for everything to be well incorporated. This may cause the “dough” to form a ball.

Ingredients in bowl

If the dough forms a ball, spread it out a bit in the food processor. Sprinkle with raisins and pulse to chop them up a bit/incorporate into the dough.

Put the dough into a freezable container and place in freezer for 15 – 30 minutes. The dough is a lot easier to handle if its thoroughly chilled.

Chilled

Once chilled, remove from freezer and form into small – maybe pecan sized – balls. You should have somewhere between 20 – 24 balls.

At this point, you could either just leave them as balls, or flatten with a fork for a more cookie-ish eating experience. If you are going to flatten, spray the back of the fork with a small amount of cooking spray. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of dough stuck on the back of your fork.

If you don’t eat them all in one sitting, refrigerate.

(adapted from here)

This was the first time I had made the Raw Cookie Dough Babies, and I really didn’t follow the recipe. At all. It called for 80g/scant 2/3 cup of pitted dates, but the box I had was 120g, and it seemed silly to save 4 dates. Also, I discovered that they really weren’t sticky enough to form cookies with that amount. So I used the whole damn box. Nick brought me home some cocoa powder from Grenada, so instead of chocolate chips, I used it. And unsweetened coconut? Why not. So, if you would like to try the original recipe, I highly recommend following the link found below, because this is a total, yet yummy, bastardization.

Raw Cookie Dough Babies

  • 120g pitted dates
  • 2 tbsp organic cocoa
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • tiny pinch of salt (can be omitted)
Date Cookie Ingredients

Place all in food processor and blend well until incorporated.

In food processor

Put the dough into a freezable container and place in freezer for 15 – 30 minutes. The dough is a lot easier to handle if its thoroughly chilled.

Chill the dough

Once chilled, remove from freezer and form into small – maybe pecan sized – balls. You should have somewhere between 10 – 12 balls.

At this point, you could either just leave them as balls, or flatten with a fork for a more cookie-ish eating experience. If you are going to flatten, spray the back of the fork with a small amount of cooking spray. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of dough stuck on the back of your fork.

If you don’t eat them all in one sitting, refrigerate.

(roughly adapted from here)

I’m still working on my salty snacks, so I’ll bring you those later.


So with about a month ’til “The Big Move”, it’s time for me to get serious about what I put into, and do with, my body. I bet you thought I was going to say it’s time to pack. Or clean our current living situation. Or start preparing in any sort of way for a cross Atlantic/Caribbean move that would be of actual value.

But nay, I am getting ready to move to a place where I will routinely be clad in minimal clothing – potentially often bikinis – so my main focus right now is, in fact, diet. You may say I’m using this renewed focus on my midsection as a way to avoid doing any of the necessary move stuff. I may say you’re at least partially right.

Here’s the thing. In the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve lost about 40 lbs by introducing exercise and reducing my calorie intake (revolutionary, I know). But that 40 lbs was split almost directly in half by life events. As in, while I’m not a crash dieter by any means, I work better with a purpose. Purpose one, and the first 20-ish pounds, was our wedding. Nick and I both gained weight when we met (me, about 20 lbs, him, closer to 50. He was tiny when we met.) It’s that whole fall in love + never leave the house + eat a lot of takeout/hearty home cooked meals = fat equation. I didn’t realize how much weight I had gained until I went to buy a wedding dress. And accidentally ordered the wrong size, which was a size too small (I legitimately wasn’t a “I’ll work out and fit into it!” girl. I didn’t have that much faith in my ability to lose weight. They didn’t have my size in the dress when I tried it on, so we estimated, and then couldn’t get into it when it came in. Rather than send it back, I took it as a sign that it was time to get my fat ass moving). We both worked out, and ate carefully, in the six/seven months following what I like to refer to as “the dress catalyst”. I refused to crash diet, and other than a one week partial cleanse (still involved eating, y’all. I wasn’t willing to go that far), we did it what I consider to be the right, sustainable way. Obviously, what’s right for me may not be right for others, but there you have it. I never reached my ultimate goal weight in that first round of weight loss, but I did walk down the aisle in my backless dress back-fat-roll free. And that, my friends, was enough at that point.

We continued to work out some, and eat mostly healthy, during our first year of marriage. But when we realized that the pounds were starting to creep back a little, we started running. In the morning. Blech. I have never been, nor did I ever have the desire to be, a distance runner. I can no longer say that I will never be one, though. I may not be to the love it point yet, but I do enjoy it. And running, paired with a renewed vigor for watching what I ate, got me down another 10 – 15ish pounds.

Then Nick left for Grenada. I honestly felt like I had fallen apart, and in the past, that would have meant lots of pasta and ice cream. But, with my ticket purchased for an April visit, I decided to focus on looking great when I got there. So I started doing ab routines in the morning, going to the gym at lunch some days to lift, and training for a half marathon. Until I tripped over a curb and fell out of my high heels, hurting my left foot, in my first week of training. Six long weeks of no running. Bye, half marathon. Hello recumbent bike. With the reduced activity, I decided to give up “dirty” eating for Lent, or, add “clean” eating to my routine. Let me first say that I am not Catholic, although I did marry into a Catholic family (and was living with the in-Laws during this period of time), so while I didn’t have a true commitment to God to make sure that I didn’t lapse in my Lent goal, I did have people that got the whole Lent thing to hold me accountable. And to try to break my resolve on Sunday for a “cheat” day. I did the clean eating for a few reasons – to feel better, to see if I could, because I wanted to give my body better fuel, blah blah blah – but mostly, it was because I had a feeling that sugar, and processed flour, and all that “dirty” food I was eating, was what was keeping that last layer of fat from coming off, no matter how much I watched my calorie intake or how many crunches I did.

And you know what? It worked. I went to Grenada feeling confident in my body. Sure, my boobs were now virtually non-existent, but so was my persistent tummy. For the first time ever, I felt good in a bathing suit, because not only had I reached my original goal weight, but because I felt strong. I come from a line of athletes, and I feel like I’ve tried to fight that body type, tried to be skinny without muscle, but now I realize that it’s the way my body is made and that is OK. It’s better than OK, it’s good. My chest may have shrunk away, but my legs are long and lean with defined muscles, and my shoulders are strong. I feel powerful.

And then a few weeks later, Nick came home. And after four months of deprivation of his favorite foods (no McDonald’s! No Mutt’s! No Chow’s! No Cow Calf-Hay!), Nick was ready to eat. And eat we have. I’ve tried to stay kind of careful, so I’ve only gained about 3 lbs. since his return, but that gross fatty layer is back on my stomach. It doesn’t help that with him here, the desire to wake up early to do crunches is gone. And that I am easily talked out of going to the gym.

So, it’s back to the clean-ish eating for me. Starting today, July 1st, I will be eating my approximation of clean for a month. No refined sugar, no fake sugar substitutes (bye, diet soda), no refined flour, no ingredients that can’t be easily identified, no alcohol. Except on special occasions. July is my birthday month, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to have a drink, or tasty treat, on my birthday. It’s also the fourth of July, so there’s that, too. And our anniversary is on the 11th, so I may have a break then, too. But other than that! Let’s do this thing.

I’m nothing if not a planner, so in addition to making sure I had one last sugary treat last night, I’m also going to be making a crap ton of healthy, sugar free treats to have on hand so I’ll be less likely to break. I’m not so sure that Nick will be going along with this dietary plan (other than the not drinking part, he has that down pat). The one other time I tried to force a radical diet change on him it was Lent two years ago, when I decided to give up red meat, and everything was going great until I mentioned it. I mean, we had made it two whole weeks with no red meat without him even noticing (this is actually a lot easier than one might think when you’re the one doing the meal planning), but as soon as I said anything about it, he needed a hamburger. I got something along the lines of “give up red meat! No way! We’re having beef tomorrow!” (edit – I’m apparently less sneaky than I thought and he totally knew what I was up to, he just really started to crave meat at that point). So we’ll see how this goes. It’s easier to do when the people you live with are doing it with you, but it’s not impossible if they’re not. No one in this household (Nick’s mom, dad or aunt) were eating clean with me this spring, and I managed. Mostly with being the weekday meal planner/chef of the house and finding healthy and tasty recipes while avoiding the fried pies they brought home to enjoy themselves/tempt me with.

Wish me luck. I’ll be posting my healthy snack swap outs soon. As soon as I can figure out which board I Pinned their recipes on …



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