Been A While

Wow! It’s been some time. Since I last posted, my husband and I participated in a 5k mud run, visited Japan and relaxed on the beach in St.Lucia.

We’ve been non stop – on-the-run and I am trying to understand how to balance me time, free time, work, and relaxation. Isn’t adulting so hard? Sometimes I want to be a kid and have nap time. Why don’t grown ups get nap time?

Anyway, let’s discuss vacations and food. Worry and panic over food and weight gain is an understatement. It consumes me…all day, every day and these vacations were no exception…oh, my poor husband. Bless his beautiful, sweet, loving, patient soul. He listens to me talk about food all the time. Unfortunately its my reality. It’s my life and my struggle.

Japan was our first vacation since I’ve lost 100 + pounds. Can I tell you how good it felt to sit on the plane?! There was so much seat belt left, so much butt room and leg room. I felt like I was in my own personal first class seat.

Food that I packed:

I packed the food in a small lunch bag that can stay cool up to 10 hours. It worked perfectly and did not take up much space.

Japan was great in the sense that we walked 8-10 miles a day… so I never had any guilt about not going to the gym. Vacation breakfast is always the best meal of the day (IMO) because there is always eggs and bacon/sausage, fruit, and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner were the hardest- 1. Main ingredient in most dishes was fish (I don’t eat fish) 2. I am very picky with meat and most of the meat was either doused in sauces/gravies or fried…It was good because my food choices were limited but bad because I was tempted to eat udon noodles. But I prevailed. No noodles for me. I just limited my portions of fried/saucy meat and loaded up on veggies. The strangest thing in all of this is, I gained 6 pounds but lost it within 2 days of returning. Maybe it was the long travel, time difference, etc… It all went back to normal right away.

St.Lucia was another beast to tackle. This was my first island trip… first bathing suit trip…We did not exercise as much as I had wanted but come on… I need some R&R! I approached this trip the same way but made sure not to snack at all since there was very little working out. I did not gain one pound. NOT ONE PEOPLE!

Aside from the food battles, both trips were amazing. Japan was incredible and life changing and so beautiful. We will definitely visit again.

This was our second trip to St.Lucia and just as beautiful and romantic as the first time. We climbed one of the Pitons which was crazy. Rock climbing is definitely not my thing but the view was worth it.

 

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My Husband petting an Owl at an Owl Cafe in Japan
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Universal Studios in Japan!

 

 

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We climbed the longest staircase to get to this shrine. Felt like we were on top of the world!
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We climbed that! Pitons in St.Lucia
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And finally, a sunset Kiss

xoxo,

Rachel

Life and….Cauliflower Fried Rice

I want to apologize for not being around lately. I’ve been super busy with family gatherings, work out/training, work… life in general!

Around 9:30 last night, I said to my husband, “I haven’t sat down yet and it’s almost time for bed.” That is mentally draining for me. I need some time to decompress or else I get anxious and impatient. Definitely the opposite of my usual bubbly self.

I didn’t get to meal prep this weekend (so sad) but Serge and I did accomplish one thing that’s been tearing at my soul: Spring cleaning!

We got rid of so much crap. I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders and even though the scale hasn’t moved down, I feel like I’ve dropped a ton of weight by getting rid of “things”.

Thanks for listening to my mini rant. I’ll get to the good stuff now.

My Mama and I go nuts over cauliflower, especially when they are so crispy right out of the oven! My Grandma recently nailed the whole cauliflower pizza thing (thanks Grandma for keeping the pizza dream alive!)…So you could say that cauliflower is sort of a big deal. I mean how can it not be a big deal? You can make rice, pizza, mashed “potato”, buffalo cauliflower bites, etc… etc…

So, making cauliflower rice isn’t hard. It’s just time consuming and you need to clean all the gadgets and stuff you use to make the rice. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Thanks to Green Giant and Target for making my life so much easier.

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Image taken from Green Giant (click link to see product info)

The only thing I got to make in advance this week was chicken cutlets… easy enough… fry them or bake them and you’re set.

People at work have been eating Chinese food this week and Serge ate Chinese food this weekend. It’s haunting me. I made cauliflower fried rice and thinly sliced a chicken cutlet on top.

I’m sure if you search the web you’ll find tons of recipes but I had zero patience and energy to do my research so I took my chances and did my own thing. Came out pretty awesome. Only problem is, I don’t have measurements for you.

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So heavenly looking… like it could almost be hash browns… mmm hash browns and eggs…  you’re welcome. another idea for ya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Bag of cauliflower rice
  • diced veggies (I used onions, garlic, mushrooms and scallions)
  • One egg
  • Protein of choice (I used chicken cutlets… you can do shrimp, tofu, beef, pork etc)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • EVOO
  • Soy Sauce
  • Optional *Hot sauce/ red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Heat EVOO on skillet
  • Sautee veggies of choice
  • Cook cauliflower rice as directed on bag while veggies are cooking
  • Dump “rice” onto skillet
  • Add seasonings to taste
  • When cauliflower is cooked (I like mine extra crispy), crack an egg on top and mix all together
  • Add protein of choice

Yummy yummy yummy! This is my lunch for the next two days. I get to eat mock Chinese food without the extra calories and carbs and bathroom attacks (was that TMI? well, I don’t care… I know you all suffer from stomach issues after Chinese. WE ALL DO!)

 

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Make ahead Chicken and Quinoa Stew

A few things before we get started on this DELICIOUS recipe.

  • This is a make ahead recipe. YAY! Do it on Sunday and it should last a minimum of 4 meals. So, you either got dinner covered Monday through Thursday or your lunches covered… However you decide to split this meal up, you end up with some free time on your hands 🙂
  • Healthy- you get protein/grains from quinoa and brown rice, protein from chicken, you get veggies and cheese and poblano peppers and tomatoes. EEEEE!!!! So good.
  • This recipe was adapted from the Cooking Light April 2016 issue. They called it King Ranch Chicken and Quinoa Casserole. My husband and I both agreed that it tasted more like a stew.
  • Final point- the pictures do it no justice. Stews always look like a mish mosh of stuff. But stews are usually so delicious. So here ya go!
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Stew/Casserole cheese laying situation happening here
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Crispy quinoa and brown rice final layer
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Final layer of cheese

1.5 cups per serving about 4 servings in this dish

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of rotisserie chicken chopped/shredded or homemade shredded chicken
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 5 tbls EVOO
  • 3 poblano peppers chopped and seeded
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tbsl minced garlic
  • 2 tbls all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1- 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1- 4 ounce can of mild chopped green chiles
  • 3.5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8inch square baking dish
  • Optional: chopped scallions on top

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Mix 1 tbls EVOO with cooked quinoa and spread across baking sheet and bake for 10-15 min (this step is really optional… it just gives a crispiness to the quinoa). We also used a quinoa/brown rice blend because that’s all we had on hand and it came out delicious… so if you don’t have quinoa, think about substituting it with brown rice.
  • Heat a dutch oven with olive oil, add poblano peppers, onion and garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir flour, cumin, chili powder. Then add stock, tomatoes, and green chiles. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in chicken.
  • Pour half the mixture at the bottom of the dish, top with half quinoa/brown rice and add 2 ounces of cheese. Repeat layers once more.
  • Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes

I seriously wanted to eat the entire thing in one sitting. I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did.

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Cheesy Cauliflower!

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I have these moments where I need to clear out. Get rid of everything! I don’t like things… I’m pretty sure in one of my most recent posts I touched upon my hatred of chachkas. So this post is dedicated to shopping in your own kitchen.

It’s unclear why we have bags and bags of frozen cauliflower but I was determined to use it this week. Clear out the fridge/freezer and spend less on food shopping… Yes, please!

Disclaimer– this recipe is addictive. In my opinion, it tastes like a really healthy version of macaroni and cheese. If you’ve always been open to sharing your plate with others, this will change everything. You will become selfish and overprotective of your food. This will bring out a different side of you.

My husband hates cauliflower… I was tempted to make him try this last night to change his mind. But beast mode came out and I kept this to myself. More cauliflower for me….More faux mac and cheese for me.

My only regret is that since it was a test recipe, I made very little of it. I will only have enough for 3 days worth of lunches but I want it for lunch forever and ever and ever.

Low Carb Chicken Cauliflower Casserole adapted from here

Recipe yields 3 cups. I recommend doubling up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower (I used ShopRite steam in bag)
  • 4 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup cooked chicken (I bought rotisserie and shredded it)
  • ¼ cup salsa verde (I used Herdez)
  • Pinch of salt, black pepper, paprika and garlic powder
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Although, if you like a kick, maybe some pepperjack cheese!
  • *Optional: Chopped scallions (which I used) and chopped red/green peppers
  • *Optional: Red pepper flakes (which I used)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Microwave cauliflower as per directions on bag
  • Place cauliflower into an ovenproof dish (Pyrex is my fave)
  • Add the cream cheese, microwave for another 20- 30 seconds
  • Mix cream cheese and cauliflower together
  • Add chicken, salsa verde,seasonings, shredded cheese and the optional ingredients
  • Mix everything together and cook for 20-30 min. I like mine more crispy and crunchy so I cooked it closer to 30 minutes.

Let me know what you think and if you added any other ingredients.

 

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Snack Attack!

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We are reaching the finish line, guys! It is almost 5pm. We are 1 hour and 12 minutes away from the weekend. We made it! Another week, another dollar! We all make such a good team.

Just a few moments ago I was craving a snack. I hate snacking. Snacking = empty calories. But I wanted something…. something sweet. My immediate thought was to have a Mission clean protein bar . I like these bars because they are high fiber, low carb, and 0g sugar alcohol. My favorite flavor is the chocolate brownie (190 cal and 20g protein). Grab one at your local GNC.

This got me thinking, we are always on the run, spend a lot of time commuting, and sitting at our desks… what do you keep in your desk, bag, or car?

Currently, I have a Mission bar and Emerald Nuts- 100 cal pack in my desk drawer. I usually keep a bag of jerky in my gym bag (quick protein post work out). I live about 1.5 hours away from my Parents so for those long car rides I’ll pack some fruit and nuts and cheese if we crave something to munch on.

Like I said, I am not a huge fan of snacking but I understand that with this “always on the go” routine we have, we need to have something to eat! If I am going to snack, it is going to be something healthy that will keep me full for a long time.

I used to be the kind of person who would get fast food during my car rides home. Something about eating fries in traffic used to be so comforting but it was taking a toll on my health and it was always sooooooooooooo embarrassing when someone was like “what did you eat?” “were you eating fast food?” or how about all the wrinkled oily bags in the back seat. OMG, so gross! We’ve replaced fast food bags with protein bar wrappers and empty water bottles… which reminds me, I need to clean the back of my car ASAP.

Snack food that you will most likely find in my work space:

  • Protein bars
  • Nuts
  • Jerky
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Dried edamame
  • Hummus   (Click link for coupon)
  • Tuna snack pack
  • In the work fridge: oranges, apples, and cheese

What about you? What is your go-to snack food? What do you keep at your desk or on the run? If you have any more ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

 

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Oodles and Oodles and Zoodles of Fun!

The hardest part about living a low carb lifestyle is the pasta limitation. I have to be honest though, the part about not eating pasta doesn’t bother me as much as the convenience factor. It’s so easy to boil pasta and toss sauce or meat with it, right?

We have some pretty awesome alternatives that offer way more nutrition and way less carbs and calories. Zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, carrot and sweet potato noodles to name a few. Let me know if you have any other veggie noodle ideas, I am always open to trying new things!  

I wanted to make something quick, easy, and light for dinner.

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Shrimp Zoodle Scampi

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 onion-chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce (we like our food with a kick!)
  • 2tbsp evoo
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup chicken broth or white cooking wine
  • grated parm cheese (optional)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  • Spiralize zuchini and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, season with a pinch of salt and put to the side
  • Heat 1tbls olive oil and cook onions and garlic till translucent
  • Add broth/wine, juice from 1/2 lemon,hot sauce and shrimp
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper
  • Cook till shrimp begin to turn pink and curl this is about 5 min (don’t over cook or it’ll become too rubbery)
  • Remove shrimp from heat and add 1tbls evoo and zoodles
  • Once zoodles are cooked, toss the shrimp back in, add butter, red pepper flakes and parm cheese

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Self-control…the saga continues

Self-control and food always remind me of a very dramatic telenovela. “I love you food!” “I hate you food!” “Pizza, don’t leave me. I was just overreacting!”

Omg, what about those dreadful 2am booty calls…you walk to the pantry and just eat everything.

How do we break the cycle from overeating, eating after a meal, eating when you are not hungry, and eating like crap when you have that urge?

Here are some ideas that have helped me:

 

  • Get rid of all the goodies in the pantry. Remember, you are eating clean now. Stock the pantry with cans of tuna. I promise you, it won’t be as appealing as a bag of chips at 2am. If you are desperate enough to open a can of tuna and eat it, well, I won’t judge you and good for you, keep up the high protein intake! You are welcome for this life hack.
  • I know there is a big debate on eating breakfast v not eating breakfast. For me- eating breakfast helps. I like a protein rich breakfast like eggs or a protein shake. Eggs are awesome because they keep me fuller longer and less likely to graze and snack between breakfast and lunch. Stop with the empty calories, you don’t need them! A hardboiled egg, serving of oatmeal (slow digesting carb) and some berries or 2 tablespoons almond butter or natural peanut butter on a whole wheat toast with a fruit. I’d say you are a morning champ and you get a gold star in my book!
  • Grazing is way different than having a nutritious small meal or snack. Grazing to me is empty calories and not satisfying. Eating a bag of pretzels if you are hungry is not the solution. I always have three meals a day and two snacks a day. Sometimes three snacks if I train that day (my trainer turns me into a ravenous beast). Space out your meals and snacks accordingly so you have no time to be super hungry and no time to sit and think about other foods. If your body is satisfied, your mind will be too. Awesome snack ideas: Serving of nuts, hummus and veggies, cottage cheese and fruits, I know this may sound weird, but cottage cheese and chickpeas or another type of bean. Someone gave me this idea a while back and it works. The combo is filled with fiber and protein.
  • Drink, drink, drink and drink some more water. If you are not drinking this minute, your gold star has been taken back and I am very disappointed with you. You must stay hydrated, water will keep you fuller and longer in between your meals, it will help flush out the toxins. “But Rachel, I am so full… I can’t drink anymore!” Excuse me, why are you complaining? You just said you were full. If you are full, there is no reason to be snacking. Oh, and none of that sugary stuff. Please, I know you are smarter than that.
  • I know you are craving a little piece of chocolate or a bag of chips… but hear me out before you indulge. Many years ago, the great Oprah was discussing bad food habits. The Specialist on the show said, it takes 21 days to break the habit. That always stuck with me. I know it will be hard, addictions are hard to control but you can do this. A few months back I discovered a protein ice cream (sorry folks, I will not be telling you what it is because I am here to help you break the habit not start one), while it wasn’t that bad for me (low in sugar and calories), it also did not provide me with the nutrition I needed that you would get from a bowl of let’s say, grilled chicken and veggies. It became a meal replacement and I found myself craving it 24-7 and eating the ice cream over “real” food. I gave myself a deadline to finish what was in the freezer and as of January 1st, I will kick the habit. The first few days were awful and I was having a hard time deciding what to eat because I was not interested in much but it got easier and I don’t even think about it anymore. Feed your body= feed your mind.
  • Set a goal. I feel like looking forward to something always helps control my actions. For example, my Husband and I are going on vacation in a few months. I want to be as fit, healthy, and hot as possible. Sorry in advance, babe, but I will be clothing shopping before the trip.
  • Sleeping is important. I know you all love sleep. I am still trying to catch up to all the lost sleep as a child. Why did I ever fight sleep? Sleep is one of my BFF’s next to my slow cooker. I can put food in the slow cooker and then go to sleep. If sleep and the slow cooker were actual people, I think they’d also be best friends. I noticed if I don’t get good sleep, I crave carbs. If you deny yourself sleep, the evil hormone, Ghrelin attacks and handcuffs you to a box of donuts. I know donuts are so delicious but let’s say this out loud, all together now, and “We-are-stronger-than-this. We –are-kicking-the-habit.”
  • Eat something fermented. How about those kimchi pancakes from my previous post or a pickle? Fermented foods help stop sugar cravings. Drink greens. Green smoothies are all the rage! Don’t you want to be one of the cool kids? Nutrient rich foods increase energy levels and curb sugary cravings. I love this book http://www.amazon.com/10-Day-Green-Smoothie-Cleanse-Smith/dp/1501100106 and the recipes. Even though it is a 10 day cleanse, the Author does state that this can be a snack or a meal replacement option. You do not need to do a full cleanse!
  • Protein and good fats help keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Have a healthy portion of protein, veggies and a good fat like avocado for lunch.
  • My wise mom once said, “Are you sure you want to eat that? Five seconds of pleasure is a lifetime in the hips.” Ok, fine, I’ll admit it, I ate whatever it was and it did go to my hips and I am still working it off… but we all learn from our mistakes. Why are moms always right?
  • Please pack a high protein snack after you work out and eat it within half hour of working out. No, that McDonald’s on the way home is not a mirage, it’s real and it’s testing you. Just keep driving. Again, let’s say this out loud, all together now, and “We-are-stronger-than-this. We –are-kicking-the-habit.” Easy food for after the gym: protein shake, protein bar, beef jerky, or nuts. Doesn’t require refrigeration, filling, and easy to consume while driving home.

 

What do you do to help curb your cravings? I am always open to new ideas.

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