In spite of all of my good intentions, I am a flawed human being. Remember all the resolve of my last blog? Well that was undone by a lack of ingredients in my cupboard to craft something with and a Snicker's bar from before the diet buried deep in the recesses of my fridge. Walk to the grocery store, buy ingredients, and then cook? Or Snicker's bar? C'mon honestly, what would you do?
happy hour anyone? All of my willpower can go drain the drain when I'm offered sangria... sigh...
As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel pretty crappy every time I cheat. (And by crappy I mean bloating and digestive issues, not just guilty.) I just haven't fully been able to make the connection in my mind between eating the sugar/starch and the consequence of feeling yucky that inevitably follows. A good friend of mine has food allergies. When she cheats on her diet she ends up with a painful rash on her hands and her head feels all foggy, like it's hard to concentrate. She told me it took her two years to finally get to the point where cheating isn't worth it. It's nice to know I'm not alone in struggling with this. I just hope it doesn't take me two years to master it.
On a more positive note, I am excited because a friend and I are starting a fitness challenge on Monday. We both have a little ways to go until our goal weight. Here's the scoop: everyone interested is each are putting in 50 bucks, and whoever has lost the highest percentage of body weight at the end of the 12 weeks wins the pot. We are in the process of gathering a few more ladies to raise the stakes. Let's face it- $500 is much more enticing than $100 (which is really only $50 since $50 is mine). We are up to four people, so the pot's at 200 bucks. Hello new skinny jeans! We met earlier this week to set goals. She is putting herself on a similar diet to me by avoiding refined sugar and flour. We are both trying to eat more veggies, eat a salad a day, and exercise an hour a day. Plus, my goal is to not cheat. That's right people- no cheating for 12 long weeks. I think if I can do that it will be a major step in finally kicking this sugar habit for good.
To help in this quest I called on an old friend for their family salad dressing. During summers I would hang out a lot at the Walker house, and my favorite summer dinner at their house was a big salad with BBQ chicken, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, and the Walker family's ranch dressing. Trust me, it's wayyyy better than anything in a bottle. My friend graciously shared her family's recipe with me.
Walker Family Ranch:
mix equal parts buttermilk and mayo
add a capful of apple cider vinegar, a dash of garlic powder, and a handful of chopped green onions
add salt and pepper to taste
A note on the ingredients: it's important to use full fat buttermilk, since all of the reduced fat versions I found had modified food starch in them. Also, it's pretty difficult to find unsweetened mayonnaise. I looked through literally every brand on my local grocery's stores shelf: Kraft, Best Foods, Miracle Whip, Smart Balance, Hollywood, Kroger, Nalley. I even looked at something called Baconnaise. (Since when do they make bacon mayo?) They all had either sugar or corn syrup added, and some had both! Finally though I stumbled on The Ojai Cooks Lemonnaise. It's unsweetened and comes in 4 fun flavors. I bought the Latin Lemonnaise since I was going for a southwest type of salad. It's totally delicious!
Here's my salad of greens, grilled chicken, diced bell pepper, chopped tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, and chunks of avocado.
If salad isn't really your cup of tea, here's another summer menu I love:
-Mustard glazed chicken
-Lemon roasted asparagus
-Seasonal berries with cream cheese topping
Mustard glazed chicken:
Preheat oven to 350.
Place 5 frozen chicken breast tenders/pieces in a pan.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Coat the chicken with heaping spoonfuls of unsweetened gourmet mustard. I like Trader Joe's garlic aioli mustard sauce and AJ's all natural Walla Walla sweet onion mustard.
Top the chicken with 2 cups of chopped mushrooms and 1/2 of a medium onion, diced.
Cover the pan in foil and bake ~25 minutes, or until chicken is done when tested with a knife.
Lemon roasted asparagus:
Preheat oven to 450.
Wash and trim your asparagus.
Toss 1 bunch of trimmed asparagus with olive oil.
Add the juice and zest if 2 lemons.
Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Asparagus should be slightly crunchy when done.
You can also add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or a balsamic vinegar blend. I liked this recipe with Bistro Blends garlic balsamic bistro oil (available at Pike Place Market).
Seasonal berries with cream cheese topping:
Cream cheese topping:
1/2 cup neufchatel cheese
1.5 TB milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Truvia packets (or other stevia packet)
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
Blend ingredients with an electric mixer. Top your berries with this and voila! I like to serve mine in a martini glass because it feels fun and fancy. Enjoy!