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(Paleo!) Chicken Soup

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I decided to come home for the weekend and it is cold.  And also my dad’s fridge was completely empty and he is out of town until later tonight.  So I decided that today would be a great day to make my chicken soup because it’s super ridiculously easy and we had some of the ingredients on hand.  And noooooow, I am going to have to cook again because my (non-Paleo, mind you) family helped me eat the whole pot.

So, on a cold day when you’re craving some chicken noodle soup – make this.  I promise you won’t even miss the noodles. My carb-loving sister says she didn’t even miss the noodles.

Paleo Chicken Soup

  • 8 cups chicken stock/broth (look for a “clean” chicken stock if you don’t make it yourself – no added sugar)
  • 2 medium size carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Boil and shred your chicken thighs.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.  When it has warmed, add the chopped celery, onion and carrots.  Cook in the pan until the onions become translucent, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the chicken broth or stock, chicken, parsley and thyme and allow to come to a low boil.  Add the shredded/chopped cabbage and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the cabbage is done to your liking.  Feel free to add salt to taste.

Enjoy.

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Dairy-Free Tomato Soup (And Some Notes on Non-Competitive Self-Control)

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So here is something I forgot to mention about my competition eating rules in the last post: I ditched dairy.  My boyfriend has been off dairy for quite sometime, mostly because it makes him break out.  And it hasn’t ever done great things for my asthma, so I decided to give dairy-free a shot for at least the length of the competition.  The weirdest part is how much I haven’t missed it as a daily staple.  Sure, I totally love a cheeseburger every now and then, but I don’t really miss my Greek yogurt or cheese sticks like I thought I would.  And my asthma has been a lot better (even through allergy season!), so I’m going to keep dairy in the “treat” category.

Speaking of keeping things in the treat category: I am missing having a specific, measurable reward to work toward.  The great thing about participating in the competition at work was that I had a concrete goal that came with a specific timetable and monetary compensation if I won. Now, the only thing keeping me honest is . . . well. . . me.  The strange part is that I don’t want my lady abs any less, it’s just that there’s nothing on the line if I don’t get them pronto.

Despite constantly thinking “I could eat a giant bar of chocolate if I wanted to” or “I don’t really have to work out today”, I’ve actually managed to carry all of my well-established good habits over into this week.  I have just had to spend a lot more time looking at my fitspiration board on pinterest (link is on the right hand side for anyone needing some motivation) and reminding myself how absolutely crappy I felt after lazing around and binge-eating all last weekend.  My stomach looked puffy for days.

And here’s the biggest thing: I don’t want to screw up my progress by eating poorly.  I’m working really hard at least 4 times a week at CrossFit, and I am not working that hard and dealing with perpetually sore muscles to look the same.  I am working this hard to look better. Fitter. Sexier.  I am also not working this hard to suffer from headaches and nausea after eating a boatload of crap.  I am working this hard to feel as good or better than I look.

So, I persist on my quest for lady abs and optimal health.  This week, luckily, that quest was aided by this delicious soup.  Which, incidentally, was my first successful batch of tomato soup from scratch ever.  And it also helped me use up the rest of the tomatoes my dad gave me from his garden, which were starting to look a bit less than ideal.  Anyways, here’s the recipe.  Make. Eat. Enjoy.

This soup is Whole 30-friendly, Paleo-friendly and Vegan-friendly.

Dairy-Free Tomato Soup

  • 12 large tomatoes (you could use canned tomatoes in a pinch, but I highly recommend roasting fresh ones)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • basil (fresh would be best, I only had dried so I used that)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 375°.  Cut the tomatoes into halves and toss with olive oil (season with salt and pepper if desired).  Bake for 25-35 minutes until well roasted.

While the tomatoes are roasting, finely chop the onion and garlic and sautee in a large pot.  I let mine begin to caramelize before adding the roasted tomatoes from the oven.  Once all of the tomatoes have been added, let cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes.  Blend until smooth with an immersion blender (you could transfer to a food processor for this if you don’t have one).  Add coconut milk, bay leaves and as much basil and black pepper as desired.  Turn heat to medium-low, cover (to prevent soup from getting all over your stovetop) and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

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When brainstorming ideas of what foods I should make and put recipes of on my blog, I consulted my boyfriend, Chris (who I think is going to end up benefiting greatly from my blogging ventures).  He immediately answered: muffins!  It is, he argued, the perfect time of year for muffins and quick breads.  They’re warm and hearty and satisfying.

You can’t argue with that.

Read the rest of this entry

On Weight Loss. . . And Finding Out What You’re Made Of

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I’ve been perusing healthy living blogs for a while now, and I’ve decided that two things are absolutely certain.

1) I don’t have anything new or earth-shattering to add to the collective knowledge of the internet.  I’ve been successful pulling resources from hundreds of websites.  Everything I have to say is just re-hashed knowledge.

And. . .

2) That doesn’t matter and I’m going to blog about my life and experiences anyway.

In a real way, I’m not even doing this to try to benefit the world of people trying to lose weight or eat healthier.  The things that got me inspired enough to commit to a blog are the people who have asked me for recipes or advice, and my innate need to talk. A lot. About myself. All the time.  And one of the most remarkable things about me (and certainly the thing I love to talk about the most), has been my transformation from a hopelessly clueless, overweight, depressed girl to the me I am today: not perfect, but working on it.  I love to eat healthy, and am learning to love physical activity.  I am at a healthy weight.  My depression is now under control thanks to my healthy habits, and I have been anti-depressant free for over three years.

Just about four years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  I had been overweight as long as I could remember, but going to college and gaining the dreaded freshman fifteen saw me topping the charts at 215 pounds.  The only reason I even knew my weight at the point was because I went to the doctor, and had to step on the scale.  I had no idea that I weight that much.  At 5’7 and 215 pounds, that gave me a BMI of 33.7 . . . solidly in the obese category.

Obese? Me?  I had always had a weight problem, but the term Obese was so. . . harsh.  I tried not to focus on it too much.  Instead, I started reading websites about weight loss.  I signed up for SparkPeople and started tracking my calories.  I tried eating less carbs.  I ate pre-portioned snack packs of everything.  I ate sugar free jell-o.  The weight began to come off, but I still felt like something was missing. I was still hungry all the time.  I was cranky even more often than I was hungry.

I had been walking regularly with a friend of mine, but decided it was time I signed up for a gym membership for times when that wasn’t convenient.  They, of course, wanted to try to sell me a personal trainer.  One of their tactics for getting you to sign up is to take your body fat with their little hand-held scanner.  Had I had the money to afford a personal trainer, it would’ve worked.   44% body fat.  Almost half of me was made of fat. And I had already lost 15 pounds! It took a lot of self-control not to run out of the gym right then.  I waited until the end of the session to let the full realization of that number settle in.  And then I walked outside, got in my car and cried.  I cried the whole way back to my apartment.  I cried for nearly the rest of the day.  And then I cried some more about it the next day.  How had this happened?  And, more importantly, what was I going to do about it?

For months, I obsessively counted calories and tracked calories burned at the gym.  Over time, I began to figure out what made me feel best.  It wasn’t eating a certain amount of calories, but eating things that were good for me.  I switched my emphasis from wanting to lose weight to wanting to be good to my body.  Because, despite how I might have felt about the way it looked, it was doing everything I asked of it.  It was amazing. And now we’re to the ongoing part of my development: eating whole foods, exercising regularly.  Being as good to my body as possible.  Because, so far, it’s been good to me.

Before and After:

 

Then: 215 pounds.  44% body fat. 33.7 BMI.

Now: 150 pounds. 25-ish% body fat. 23.5 BMI.