Wednesday, October 30, 2013

100 Days of Real Food Day 10!!

It's day 10!  I know I already said that, but seriously people--it's DAY 10!!  WAHOO!!

I gotta say, I'm really proud of myself.  SO proud of myself!  It's 7pm on day 10, and after tonight's dinner (bacon and eggs tonight--antibiotic-free eggs, all-natural bacon!) it will be officially 10 completed days.

I'm looking forward to starting my next 10 days tomorrow!  I'm thinking of these 100 Days of Real Food in terms of 10-day groupings--10 of them to be exact.  10 days isn't so long right?  Something we think I can't possibly do for 100 consecutive days, I can do just for 10 (or 1 if necessary!) consecutive days.

The first 10 days have definitely had their difficult moments, some not too bad, some fingernail-hangers.  One of the mistakes I made was not making enough food to get me through the workday.  Let me tell you, it's a LOT harder to say no to junk food (which is available at work) if you're not hungry.  Hungry + craving = very grumpy me!

I've also learned to make sure I have real-food treats to eat, as well as my meals.  Home-made granola, muffins, etc are a really good idea to have around.  Tonight or tomorrow I'm going to make brownies for that exact reason.  Stay tuned for the recipe!

Another thing that's been occurring during the second half of this 10 days is that my body has begun to detox.  For a couple of days the symptoms were things like lots of tinkle breaks, runny nose and coughing.  As of this afternoon, the body blahs and headaches have started.  I've been here before, so I know it's not me getting sick (though it feels like it), and it's really a good thing, but that doesn't mean it's pleasant!  Hopefully it doesn't last too long.

Although I wasn't blogging the past few days, I was still taking pics of some of the things I've been eating, so here they are in no particular order:

I had fruit for breakfast one workday.  I had 2x this fruit, and the stuff in the container is raw almond butter.  The only thing in the ingredients list of the almond butter was almonds. :)

Another weekday breakfast I had home-made waffles.  I made these the previous evening, and just re-toasted them.  The sauce is simply real maple syrup and frozen strawberries, zipped up in a blender.  It was delicious!  It surprised me--I didn't see how I could like anything as much as butter and maple syrup, but this was seriously good!

Yesterday, I made a different salad than I've ever made before!  It was SUPER DUPER DUPER easy.  Like a 6-year-old could do it!  It's called Detox Salad, and you can find the recipe on Oh She Glows! a great food blog with lots of amazing vegan recipes.  Even if you're not a vegan (I'm not either) the recipes are definitely worth checking out.

I made half of the recipe in the evening for lunch the next day (and the next--I ate it twice!) and I did as she said, and only added the drizzle of maple syrup the next day.  Unfortunately, the veggies etc in the salad soaked up all the lemon juice, and somehow all the flavour was gone!!  When I make it again (because I will--it's so good!) I'll be adding the lemon juice as well as the maple syrup the following day.  It makes a HUGE difference in flavour.

I think during the next 10 days (and probably more than that) I'm going to check out the recipes on Zain Jamal's blog.  She's a fitness model who also clearly knows that good, clean, whole foods don't have to be boring!  Her recipes look un-be-lievable.  I'm SO diving into THAT!

...17 minutes later...

Sorry, I got side-tracked on Zain's blog.

Anyway, tomorrow I think I'm going to take it a little easy on the food front for the day.  I think I'm going to make a sauteed vegetable dish that my sister turned me onto a few months ago for breakfast.  The great thing about the dish is that it can be made the night before, and it re-heats really well, so I'll bring it to eat at work.  I'm also going to make a smoothie for lunch.  Haven't decided what is going to be in it yet, but I'm kind of feeling some kind of spicy banana and coconut concoction.  Or maybe pumpkin pie with real pumpkin...  We'll see!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

100 Days of Real Food--Day 7

Good morning!  Happy start of day 7 to me!

Today is a lazy, rainy, chilly, late October day.  Normally, I'd be a bit unhappy about it, since it's the weekend and I'd rather not be stuck inside (I'd much rather be getting some sun!), but today, I'm actually pretty happy with it.  Why in the world would I be happy?  Because today I want to make ravioli from scratch for the very first time, and I would love to make home-made pizza crust too!

The idea behind making pizza dough isn't to use it tonight--I plan on making dough balls and freezing them, to be used in the future.  They freeze and thaw really well, and the crust actually gets its toppings when it's still raw, and then goes into the oven all together for about 15 minutes.  Don't get much fresher than that!  You can read about my first pizza crust adventure, as well as find the recipe, here.

There's a huge benefit to making your own pizza crust, aside from knowing what goes into it--it's WAY cheaper.  The recipe says it makes 2 crusts, but I cut them into single servings, which means 8-10, depending on how thick you like your crust.  I like it thin, so it's around 10 crusts I get out of the recipe.  Unlike many other pizza crusts, it also requires a lot less kneading, which is great for the shoulders!  I highly recommend making it.  Don't be afraid--it's really easy.  Trust me--I'm not baker, and pulled it off. :)  Oh and it stays good in the freezer for a month, and it actually makes nice little individual loaves too, if you find you need to use it up before the month is out.

On another note, I can't believe that I'm on day 7 already!  There have definitely been some challenges, no surprise there, but so far so good I think.  I'm in the beginning of my PMS time (sorry to any guys reading this!) so my "need" for food has risen a little, but by HOPE is that with my not eating junky foods, that I won't be bat-shit-crazy over wanting to eat them constantly!

Before I started this 100 Days of Real Food, I fought very nearly every single day with junk-food cravings.  So far, I'm finding that there are still cravings, but not nearly as many, and other than on Day 4 (which was a toughie), I haven't had as much of a struggle as I thought I would.  It's early going though, so I'm certainly not going to take it for granted that it's going to be smooth-sailing from now on!

My body is already feeling different too.  I feel...more compact if that's the right word.  Less bloated from sugar and excess salt is probably why.  My mood is better, and yesterday when I bought my groceries for the week, I felt downright proud of my cart!  Not judgmental of what others purchased, just really happy for mine. :)  I knew that everything I bought would do my body good, and it was a very nice feeling.

Last week I had $33.10 left over from my weekly budget, which I've safely deposited in my wee tin.  I won't use that, or any other money I have left over, unless I'm in danger of starving to death.  Hopefully that won't happen!!

Yesterday was grocery day, and as I thought, I used up much more of my budget than I did last week.  I'm still using what I have in-house, as well as what I purchase for the week, but I ran out of a few necessities and had to buy them again.  I considered waiting, but realized that now is the time to re-fill those things, since soon enough I won't have any pre-100-days food left, and won't really (maybe) have any money to replace them.  Trying to plan ahead!

The iceberg lettuce I got for $1.50 (!!) so I decided to also get some baby arugula.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to get excited about salads again, and as Jamie Oliver said in the video I posted the other day, it's all about making the salad interesting.  Arugula has a peppery flavour that I enjoy, so I thought what the heck!

You'll notice that I didn't buy much meat.  Just 1 lb of sirloin and a package of natural bacon.  I don't eat a tonne of meat, not because I have a problem with consuming animal products (provided that the animals were treated well before slaughter) but I know it's much better for us as humans, and for the planet, to eat mostly plants.  Plus my body just is so much happier with mostly plants, including some grains, seeds and nuts, and also a bit of meat. :)  Plus meat is expensive!

Money remaining for the week: $10.20.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

100 Days of Real Food--Day 4

Today was an interesting day.  It started out bright and unseasonably cold, then it snowed (?!), then it rained.  Then the sun went down.

It was a similar kind of day for me.  One of those days where it seems that everyone you work with wants something from you right this very second and theirs is the most important thing!  Well I was answering my phone, having people stop by, running up to reception, all while trying to do my normal work (yeah right!), and trying to also not lose my mind.  Then about 230 pm I found myself absolutely RAVENOUS.  And worse, my sudden hunger coincided with a MASSIVE craving for junk food.  No specific thing--it moved from fries to chocolate to pumpkin lattes--but junk food in general.

Normally, I would have given up at this point.  Why put myself through that right?  But I told myself there was no way I was going to give in.  Not at day 4, not at day 40, not at day 94.  This time, I'm going to see this to the end.  Nevertheless, it was very hard to do!  I felt kind of sorry for myself, but also very determined, and in the end I had a bit of protein powder and water, and an orange.  It didn't really fill me up, but it helped take the edge off.

What I learned from that, is to be ready, both with enough real food to keep me satisfied, and also have little treats available to myself if I find myself in a craving spiral again!  I think I'll also have a couple of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge at work.  Preparation is key people! :)

On another note, I bought an inexpensive waffle maker today!  I've been considering it for literally the last few years, and today I finally got it.  I figured that since I LOVE LOVE LOVE waffles, and the commercial frozen ones are BAD BAD BAD for you, I'd buy a waffle iron, because I know for sure there are really great clean, real food recipes on the Web.  Head off the unhealthy cravings by having delicious healthy versions ready to go!

I'm even thinking about making a few ahead, and freezing them.  That way they can be ready any time!  Aren't I brilliant?!

Of course I had to try out the waffle iron like 10 minutes after I got home, and this is what happened.  Try #1 wasn't quite filled enough, and try #2 was much better.  #1 kind of looks like a zombie waffle doesn't it? LOL

Zombie waffles they may have been, but they sure didn't taste like zombies!  Well, I haven't really made a lot of meals out of zombie parts (only a few really...just kidding), so I don't really know what zombies taste like, but my very first 2 me-made waffles were delish!  I couldn't believe it!  Honest!

Yesterday I had to top up my groceries, while still working through the fresh stuff already in my fridge.  I bought organic old cheddar, sourdough whole grain bread, 2 packs of fresh mushrooms, and a 2 lb bag of yellow onions.  I keep wanting to buy random stuff that calls my name, but if I don't want to be eating freezer frost and dust bunnies for the last couple of days of the week, I can't be spending my money on impulse purchases!  

I will have more money at the end of this week than I likely will any other week, owing to 1) that my week started on Monday, not Saturday, and 2) that I have food in my fridge that I want to use up.  I will be "jarring" the extra, and will start fresh on Saturday.  

Money remaining for this week $33.89.

So, though the day was odd, and quite challenging in many ways, I'm happy with how it turned out.  And I'm happy I stuck to my guns!

Here's the Belgian waffles recipe, from The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Belgian Waffles
(Makes 6 waffles)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

3 egg whites
1-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon active dry yeast


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

100 Days of Real Food Salad Video!

I used to love making interesting salads, then suddenly they got boring and I got bored, and I stopped eating them!  After watching this video, I think I may just start again next week!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

100 Days of Real Food--Day 2

Today is day two!  I'm so excited to be doing this!!

Anyway, now that you think I'm a huge nerd, I'll let you know what's been happening the past 24 hours or so.

Yesterday afternoon I needed a snack.  Nothing big, but something.  I saw popcorn kernels and thought, "Score!" and sat down to enjoy them...with fake dill powder.

So that's a lesson learned--don't just focus on one part of your snack!

For dinner yesterday I made a vegetarian dish--barley and roasted root vegetables.  Except I didn't have any barley so I used spelt berries.  It actually worked, thankfully!  It was a very unique-tasting recipe, but I liked it, and shared it with a co-worker.  And best of all, it wasn't really expensive, and would have been even cheaper if I'd had barley, since barley is really cheap.  Just make sure you use pot barley NOT pearl barley--pearl barley has been processed.

After dinner I threw together a pot of Scottish oatmeal (only takes about 15 minutes total).  I made enough to feed me for 3 or 4 days, for just pennies a day.  I chopped up an apple and roasted it in the oven with cinnamon and a little bit of pure maple syrup, to put on my oatmeal this morning.  It took about a minute to chop, so that's not exactly time or labour intensive!  I also put some of the granola I made on the weekend, and some raw cacao nibs in a little container to add some crunch.  This morning I just threw it in my bag and went to work!  Tomorrow I'll do the same, since I still have more to eat. :)

I also made my morning tea at home, and brought it in a travel mug.  That was a change from the norm for sure--I usually (well, I used to usually) get my breakfast (bagel and tea) from a coffee shop across the street from me, but that's obviously out right now, since I don't know what the bagel is made of, and also because I can't afford it on my 100 Days of Real Food On a Budget!

Today for dinner, I made a delicious lentil loaf I found on Oh She Glows.  The recipe will be at the bottom of this post.  Don't get overwhelmed by the ingredient list--just prepare everything before hand that needs to be grated, chopped, etc, and you'll be fine.  The recipe makes 8 thick slices, so I've already paid for 7 more meals for the future!  Into the freezer they go!

I also wanted to make a mushroom gravy...but I have no mushrooms!  This is becoming a habit!  Instead I made onion gravy, with my last onion.  Must remember to buy mushrooms AND onions!  I'd never made onion gravy before, though I have eaten it, and the recipe I made was pretty good.  You can find that recipe at the end of this blog too!

One of the things that I find helpful, both for time and for cost, is to make enough food at dinner, for lunch the next day.  Cook once, eat twice!

I'm pretty happy with how things are going so far.  I really wanted a pumpkin latte today, which was kind of tough, but it will be there still next year, just like last year.  OR I can try making a real food version of it this week (if I can afford to!) and share the recipe if it's good!

It's a new day people!  Changes are a-happenin'!

Money left for the week:  $51.85.

Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf (From Oh She Glows!)

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 TBS ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk or green onion, chopped finely
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1/3 of an apple, peeled, grated (makes 1/3 cup grated apple)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup regular oats, ground into a flour
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs

Click here for directions!

Onion Gravy (my recipe)

1 large onion
Spritz olive oil
2 tbsp Bragg’s liquid amino’s/all purpose seasoning
Ground pepper
½ to 1 tsp ground thyme
½ to 1 tsp ground sage
2 cups water

· *  Heat oil on medium heat, and sautee onions until semi-cooked, about 5 minutes.

· *  Add sage, thyme and black pepper, and sautee about 1 minute.

· *   Add bragg’s and water.  Stir to combine thoroughly.  There should still be lots of liquid.  If not, add another ½ cup.

· *  Lower heat to medium-low or low (depending on oven) and cover.  Simmer gently until onions are translucent, about 20 minutes (keep an eye on it!)

Real Food Defined Infogram!

Monday, October 21, 2013

100 Days of Real Food--Day 1

Welcome to real food day !

The next 100 days will be all about eating real food--nothing processed, nothing "frankenfood", and lots and lots of delicious, real food.

I live in a northern area of the world, where there is an abundance of local fresh, gorgeous fruits and vegetables available in the growing season, and only local fresh snow the rest of the time.  Most of the fruits and vegetables available during the winter months are either frozen, or imported.  There are a few autumn harvests which are available through the winter months--winter squash, potatoes, kale--and I'll definitely be availing myself of those.  The rest, unfortunately, I will have to use non-local things, which means it's not 100% the same as the original idea of 100 Days of Real Food, but as this blog is about doing things in the real world, that's reality for me. :)  Doesn't mean it's not worth doing!  I'm certainly not willing to eat no fruit or veg until next spring.

So!  On Saturday I thought I'd try my hand at making granola.  Commercial granola is notorious for being incredibly unhealthy, and somehow has many ingredients which are unpronounceable, which of course means that it has no place in my 100 days of real food!

I wanted to make maple granola, with a buttery undertone (flavour), but without using butter, because it would mean that the granola needed to be refrigerated and would have to be consumed within the first few days.  I've never made home-made granola before, let alone without a recipe!  I was a little nervous, but it turned out to be delicious!  Here's the recipe:

Home-Made Real Food Maple Coconut Granola
All ingredients are adjustable, or swappable.  You don’t need to stick to the recipe exactly, but this version is very good, if I do say so myself!

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw buckwheat
½ cup nuts of your choice
¼ cup no-sugar-added coconut flakes
2-3 cups quick-cook (NOT instant) whole-grain oatmeal (ONLY oats should be on the ingredients list)

Dash of sea salt
1/3 cup coconut oil
½ to ¾ cup real maple syrup (or to taste)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (for a buttery flavour)

Pre-heat oven to 250F.
Mix dry ingredients (except salt and nutritional yeast) together in a large bowl.
In small, microwave-proof bowl, combine coconut oil, sea salt, nutritional yeast and maple syrup.  Microwave for ONLY about 5 seconds on high—just long enough for the coconut oil to liquefy. 
Mix wet ingredients thoroughly, and add to dry ingredients.  Mix all ingredients until well blended.
Spread out mixture onto a cooking sheet, making sure it’s even.

Bake for approximately 1 hour.  Does not need to be turned, but you can if you want. J

If I do say so myself, it was delicious!  I was really surprised, actually--I fancy myself a decent cook, but I only really learned in the past 3 years how to cook.  So I guess I'm still kind of a newbie!  And this experience will be FAR beyond what is my comfort zone--I'll be learning new things, creating/discovering new food combinations, and hopefully creating/becoming the person I've always wanted to be, and living the life I've always wanted to live.

Today, which is Day 1 of 100 Days of Real Food, I'm very sore and stiff from walking my first-even half-marathon, but I'm not going to let that stop me from sticking to my commitment!

This morning for breakfast I had egg breakfast burritos and a sliced-up orange.  The eggs are antibiotic-free, the tortillas are whole-wheat, and the milk in the scrambled eggs and in my tea, is organic.  I got up late today, owing to my looooooong walk yesterday, and only finished the orange portion of my breakfast at 12:45, so other than maybe a little snack in the late afternoon, I won't be eating another meal until dinner time.

On a related note, my commitment to eating only real food for 100 days also includes doing it on a budget.  For me, that's $80 CAD.  This means some adjusting for me, since I've gotten used to getting my breakfast to go from a local coffee shop (not very healthy), and spending about $5 per weekday on it, which is definitely not in the budget any longer!
So I'm going to have to get used to making breakfast at home, either that morning, or the night before.  It's been many years since I've done this, so it will definitely be a challenge!

So far I've not used much of my budget, partly because I haven't done a proper shopping trip yet, but also because I want to use what I already have in my fridge and to a lesser extent in my freezer.  There's a lot of stuff in my fridge which needs to be used up (broccoli, onions, 3/4 of a honking butternut squash that I got for $1.50 (!!!) from the farmer's market last week, about 8 oranges, the same amount of apples, 1 bunch of organic purple kale which I hope is still good, a few lonely peppers, and some other stuff which may or may not still be good, which was pushed back to the dark, scary region at the back of my fridge).  My hope during these 100 days is also that I no longer forget about/waste fresh food in my fridge!

I'm finding the idea of a full 100 days a bit daunting, but I'm also excited.  I can feel my creative juices starting to flow for the first time in a long time.  I'm slightly worried about how other people in my life will respond to this, as I know from past experience that people have pretty varying opinions of food, and in some ways it's just as much of a minefield as talking about religion or politics.  I can't control that, and I'm not going to try to.  This is what I'm doing, I'm not forcing anyone to do it with me, nor will I judge how others are eating, and it's going to be amazing!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

100 Days of Real Food

Over the past few years, I've learned about healthy eating, how to cook healthy foods, and about having a healthy body.

I'd learned to love good, whole, clean foods.  But I never totally embraced it--I always wanted the junk food, and more often than I would like, gave in to it.

Then around this time last year, some challenging things happened, and I found myself on a downward slide with my healthy food, and healthy life.  I still enjoyed good food, but the ratio was changing.  The slide continued, and I found myself immersed in many of my old habits--habits that in the past, had gotten me to the point of being very overweight, and very unhealthy.

Yesterday I came across 100 Days of Real Food, a wonderful blog written by a woman, who along with her family (husband, 2 kids) embraced 100 full days of eating nothing but real food (nothing processed whatsoever, no matter what), not once, but TWICE, and blogged about it all.  They did it twice, because after the first experiment, many people commented that there was no way they could do it on a budget.  They took the challenge, and even asked for a vote as to how much their family of 4 would be allowed to spend each week on groceries.

This idea really spoke to me.  I've been struggling with getting away from processed and "convenience" foods for quite a while now, and I admit the idea is kind of scary.  But the fact that it IS scary is one of the reasons why I considered it.  My immediate thought was, "Oh I can't do that" which is claptrap, and the idea of not consuming anything junky makes me a little panick-y (No pumpkin lattes? No chocolate?), but then I realized that that mindset was actually one of my issues.  It's not that I can't have pumpkin lattes and chocolate.  It's that I have to find ways to enjoy these things, but only when they're made with REAL ingredients.

I've always had that mindset--clean eating = no room for anything else.  I rarely even make home-made banana bread, or home-made brownies, for instance.  I know how to make them delicious and clean, and yet what do I crave (or think I do)?  The store-bought stuff.

Clearly I need to change my mind about food, and about what I really DO want, instead of what I THINK I want, if that makes sense.

I also had to really consider if this was something I wanted to commit to.  I'm not talking, "Oh, for sure, I'll do it...until this event happens, or someone comes into work with cake, or or or...".  If I'm going to do this, I'm going to DO IT.  I need to make a change.  I need to commit to leading the clean life I've been dreaming of these past 3 years.

But will I COMMIT to 100 days?  Will I REALLY commit to 100 days, knowing that it will take me through Christmas?  Knowing that I'm going to have to tell anyone at whose house I may be eating at, that I'm committed to it, knowing that they may take the mickey out of me for it/make me feel like I'm being ridiculous/constantly hear "you only live once" or "just this one thing"?

Really thinking about it, considering what it will mean, I'm saying yes.  Why?  Because I need to do this, I WANT to do this, and this ISN'T about denying myself anything, it's about learning to HAVE EVERYTHING, to have ABUNDANCE, just in a different way.

Yes.  I'm doing this.  I'm doing it starting Monday (because I have events today and tomorrow which are out of my control, and though I will do my best, I won't have time to plan alternatives, and I want to commit 100% to it).

I'm also not rich, so I'm doing it on a budget.  I will be keeping track of my spending each week, and will not go over $80 CAD for the week.  If I'm under, then great, I'll put that money in a wee jar, and save it in case I suddenly run out of something and replacing it would be over budget.  If I don't have the money...well that item doesn't get replaced, and I will live without it until the next week (my weeks will start on Saturday, other than the first week, because that's farmer's market day).

I don't mind saying, this freaks me out a little.  Committing to these 100 days means that I'm committing to doing a pretty darned big overhaul of a lot of my life.  It won't always be easy, but you know what?  It will be SO worth it.  I'll be so much healthier than I am now, will have so much more energy, and just as important, I will have added my experience to others, that proves it CAN be done, and it CAN be done on a budget!

I'm going to blog about it, and be completely honest about all of it--the ups AND the downs, because that's real life, you know?  Not everything is rosy all the time.  It may not always be pretty, but it WILL ALWAYS BE REAL.

So there you have it.  I commit to 100 days of real food, starting day after tomorrow, Monday, October 21st, 2013, until January 27th, 2014.