Spring Clean Eats Total Recap

Mixed green salad

Veggie noodles in a peanut sauce with curry shrimpThe Spring Clean Eats challenge is officially over.  Thirty days of clean eats with some restrictions and limitations.  I purposely did not go crazy with the restrictions because that would have set me up for failure instantly.  My goal was to succeed and document things that I noticed.  Failure wasn’t an option.  I needed this reboot so I could get back to making more meals at home and start to feel balanced again.

Our move, which is hands down, the best decision we ever made, did strip me of all motivation to cook and to exercise.  I don’t know why but there was a definite slump.  Spring Clean Eats helped me get rid of that slump.

There are some things that I did well and there are some things that I didn’t do well.  It happens and now I know where my biggest struggles are which means I can work towards overcoming them.

Alright, let’s get started!

Personal Changes

There was no weight loss, I’ll state that right off the bat.  I assumed there would not be as I’m not the type to lose weight that quickly.  My metabolism needs to catch up and then when it does the weight loss follows.

I felt more grounded, balanced, and also more confident while I was doing this challenge.  Confident is a weird thing to throw in there, I know, but this challenge definitely effected my mood.  I felt better which directly translated into how I approached others and how I viewed myself.   I also had more energy and there was no 3pm slump.

I was able to finally break that mile hurdle and run a full mile.  And I’ve been able to do it consistently.  Eating more at home and adding in more protein was key.  Without doing that I would still be stuck at needing walk breaks.

I slept much better at night.  When I woke up in the middle of the night (which is a given, I will always and forever wake up during the night), it’s been much easier to fall back to sleep and stay asleep.

My skin has cleared up a great deal.  The month while I was doing this challenge was the first time in a long time that I didn’t break out during “that time”.  I also wasn’t moody or experienced any PMS like symptoms.

My skin also has more of a glow and natural shine to it that wasn’t there before.

Thoughts On The Food

Minimizing grains and adding in proteins to meals was definitely interesting.  It also presented some cooking challenges which I loved exploring. I learned that I love having a savory breakfast in the mornings.  It was more satisfying to me.  That said, after a while I did get tired of having meat all. the. time.  I needed a break and needed something different for breakfast.  Making paleo scones and granola was perfect for that.  Still protein based but not as intense as a portion of animal protein.  Breakfast soup was great as well to provide substance without being too heavy.

The meals also kept me full for longer periods of time.  I wasn’t hungry three or even four hours later.  Oatmeal, no matter how big of a bowl I had, never kept me full that long.  Ever.  Protein at breakfast is way more satisfying and long lasting.

That said, there were many times where I only ate two meals a day.  While that started off alright, I found that I really missed actually eating lunch and having that salad and smoothie mid-day.  So I’ll be playing around with breakfast more and adding in some variety.

Hardboiled eggs in water

Eating more protein based meals and more grain-free means that you will eat a lot of eggs.  A lot. Get to know your local farmers because you’ll need a supplier. We’ve increased our egg and chicken intake so much that we joined a chicken CSA.

The only two foods that I missed were yogurt (ok and sour cream) and cheese crackers.  I like having yogurt in the mornings sometimes and I like nibbling on cheese crackers on occasion.  Other than that I did not miss sandwiches, pastries, or things are that are carb/grain heavy.

Over all the diet went really smoothly.  I didn’t feel restricted nor did I feel like I was having to force my way through the challenge.  The 30 days went really fast!  The only thing we “craved” was some pizza and that was easily satisfied.

GF asparagus quiche

Take Aways

I never gave grains much thought.  I’m not a big fan of them and have never really enjoyed sitting down to a huge sandwich or big plate of pasta.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.  I know I feel bloaty after eating pasta and that grains affect my runs but other than that I didn’t really feel like I had a reaction to it.

The other day Scott and I split a waffle (a super large one) for breakfast, then we had sandwiches for lunch.  Because lunch was late it served as dinner and I had some junky snack later that evening.

The next day I woke up feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  I had a raging headache, I was nauseous, and had very low energy.  Normally I would have brushed it off thinking I shouldn’t have had beer after 9pm (I’m oldish, what can I say).

But now I know that isn’t the case.  I actually don’t handle that much carbs and grain all that well.  My body is not a happy camper when it’s fed stuff like that.

That’s a very interesting result that I didn’t expect to happen at all.  While feeling like crap wasn’t pleasant, I am glad that I experienced that because now I know more about what my body can and cannot tolerate.

I feel that’s the best thing about challenges like this, it opens us up to experimenting and learning more about how we function.  What our bodies respond well to and what they hate.

Will we be sticking with this diet?  Pretty much.  It works for us and we feel good while doing it.  I’ll be experimenting more in the kitchen and seeing what tasty things I can create!

 

Spring Clean Eats: Day 30, We Made It

Paleo scone, banana, coconut cream

Hooray!  We made it to the last day!  Yesterday was a pretty awesome day.  I started the morning off with a great run which always sets my day up for success.  I need to remember that more.

Paleo scone, banana, coconut cream

Breakfast was the same as yesterday, a crumbled up paleo scone with sliced banana and some coconut cream.

Mixed green salad

Lunch was a gigantic salad with:

  • Mixed greens
  • Cucumber
  • Carrot
  • Tomato
  • Red Onion
  • Cheddar
  • Bacon

I was really craving that bacon so I made sure to sneak some on the salad.

Dinner was something that Scott and I haven’t had in a while, tacos!

Tacos

And just tacos.  When we were discussing what to have as a side neither of us really wanted one.  We wanted to focus on tacos! I have no problem with this at all.  Ground pork tacos with guacamole, lettuce, and pepper jack cheese.

Scott and I also have not eliminated corn from our diet.  Both of us tolerate it just fine and both of us like it.  The corn tortillas were 365 Brand and the only ingredients are corn and oil.  Since this isn’t something we eat everyday, I’m ok with this.

We are not paleo perfectionists nor will we ever be.  We are ok with that and you should be too.

I will fully admit that I’m so glad to not have to photograph all of my eats any more!

I will be writing up a full recap post (it will be long, brace yourselves) and that will be posted on Friday morning.

Spring Clean Eats: Day 29, Steak Salad

Banana, paleo scone, coconut cream

Even though Sunday was miserable with dreary skies and wet heavy snow falling all day long, Monday was much more manageable.  It was sunny, warmer and all the snow melted.

Thank goodness!

We need to get the heck out of April and into May because I’m not enjoying the spastic weather at all.  More snow on the way Wednesday night.  Good times.

Banana, paleo scone, coconut cream

Breakfast was a crumbled up paleo scone with sliced banana and drizzled with some coconut cream!

Steak salad

Lunch was a huge salad with leftover fake’em steak’um on top.  This time when I heated up the roast beef, I added in some dijon, horseradish, and a little stock.  This made a nice little sauce that I used as a dressing for the salad.

Since lunch was late (and hefty) we had a light dinner.

Veggie tray, sausage and cheese tray

Fruit and veggie tray, some prosciutto, sliced cheddar, and some cooked sausage.  The sausage ended up having a weird texture that neither of us liked so it sat on the side mostly untouched.

Today is the last day of the challenge!  Hooray!

Spring Clean Eats: Days 26-28, Fake ‘Em Steak ‘Um

paleo_scones_test

I needed a break from the computer last weekend but it was worth it because I got a chance to experiment with recipes!

The good: I experimented a lot in the kitchen and made some delicious things these past few days.

The bad: I totally forgot to take any pictures of food on Saturday.  I spaced and was more into eating than I was taking pictures.  Whoops!

BREAKFAST

Sausage, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoesDay 26: Scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, and chicken breakfast sausage.  I really like the Al Fresco line of sausages.  They are flavorful, minimal ingredients that I can pronounce, and are gluten free. If you see them out, give it a shot!  Lots of flavors to choose from.  The roasted red pepper and asiago sausage is  great on pizza!

Day 27: Unpictured but much of the same.  Replace the scramble with hard boiled eggs and add in a big bowl of mandarin oranges.

Grain free scones and baconDay 28: Paleo scones with coconut cream sauce and some bacon.  More mandarins on the side.  I experimented making the scones and they turned out really well!  I want to play around with the recipe a little more but I’m on the right track.  Finally got some bacon! I’ve been meaning to make it for ages and had the chance on Sunday morning to cook up a huge batch.

Kitchen Tip: I make 2lbs of bacon at a time.  I bake it in the oven for more even cooking and less mess.  Cooked bacon also freezes really well and can be reheated quickly and easily!  Once you have a stash of cooked bacon in the freezer, you can pull out as much or as little as you need.

No lunch on any of those days because breakfast was filling!

DINNER

Paleo Chicken Enchiladas Day 26: Paleo Chicken enchiladas!  Recipe coming up once the challenge is over.  This experiment I am very proud of!  The benefit of using paleo tortillas is that it makes the dish way more satisfying.  I couldn’t even finish two entire enchiladas and Scott was “very full” after eating his two.  Definitely will have to make double batch next time!

Day 27: You know Saturday is Odell Day!  We got a growler and some fries and sausages from Common Link.

Steak lettuce wraps and roasted asparagusDay 28: Fake ‘Em Steak ‘Ums with roasted asparagus!  Applegate sliced roast beef, when cooked in a skillet tastes exactly like old school steak ‘ums to me.  Of course, Applegate is much healthier than the questionable “beef” from the Steak ‘Um boxes.  For me personally, thin steak with caramelized onions is one of the best combos.  I rolled with that for Sunday dinner.

I caramelized some onions in ghee and some leftover bacon fat (hell yes), then I added in a pound of the roast beef that I also chopped.  Cook for a bit and added a little Worcestershire sauce.  Placed that on some romaine lettuce leaves with shredded carrot and a small sprinkle of shredded pepper jack cheese.

Dinner was filling and satisfied an old school craving.

Getting close to the end of the challenge! Two more days!

 

 

 

 

Spring Clean Eats: Day 25, Bad Choices, Interesting Results

Paleo Tortillas

Fried eggs, guacamole, mandarin orangesWe are in the home stretch! This is the last week of the challenge and I admit that I’m pretty excited about that.  Not because I’m going to go crazy and have foods that were not allowed on the challenge (spoiler alert: I totally won’t) but because posting everyday takes a lot of planning!

I’ll be posting a follow up post about the challenge once it’s over.  Then I will be posting all of the recipes that I developed during the challenge.  If there’s a particular one you’d like to see first, let me know!

On to the eats!

Breakfast was one of my favorite combos, eggs with avocados.  Two fried eggs topped with some quick and dirty guacamole and hot sauce. Two mandarin oranges on the side.

I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen developing a paleo tortilla recipe.  I was getting frustrated with recipes I was finding online and decided to see if I could create my own.  I’m proud to say that my experiment was a success!  Here’s a sneak peek, recipe will be posted after the challenge.

Paleo TortillasAfter walking the dogs yesterday, we swung by Odell to pick up a growler of a pilot beer that just got tapped.  It’s all kinds of barrel-aged and we couldn’t pass that up!

The Waffle Lab was there and we also decided to get some waffles.  Now I didn’t swear off grains completely for this challenge.  I said my goal was to limit them.  Since I haven’t had any grains, save for some small tempura shrimp, I didn’t have a problem getting waffles.  The Waffle Lab’s waffles are damn good!

Scott also came back with chicken and waffles.  I also didn’t think much about this till I opened the container up.

Waffle Lab's Chicken and WafflesOh snap! I had no idea this dish would be covered in sausage gravy.

That’s a lot of food.  A lot of heavy and very rich food.

I had a couple of bites and then had to call it quits.  Don’t get me wrong, this dish is tasty and done very well.  However that was just too much for me to handle for lunch.

Way too heavy.

That was the first time in almost a month that I’ve had that much grain and gluten.  Again, didn’t think much about it but my body sure let me know that it was too much too soon.  Interesting reaction!  While I’m not a big carb eater normally, I really didn’t expect to have such a strong reaction to it when it got introduced again.

SaladI ended up making a small salad because I needed some veggies STAT.

SmoothieAnd then later I had a smoothie.  Not the prettiest thing ever but it was tasty and did the trick.

  • 1C Carrot Juice
  • 1C Water
  • 2 Large Handfuls of Spinach
  • 1C Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Frozen Banana

Blend, makes 2 smoothies.

When I asked Scott if he also wanted a smoothie, he practically yelled, YES.  So I know it was sitting a little heavy for him too. Which is also interesting because he’s not one to notice stuff like that.  I did feel bloaty and blah the rest of the day.

5 more days left! Whoo!

 

 

Spring Clean Eats: Days 23-24, Eat Gorgeous Food

Veggies noodles in a peanut sauce with curry shrimp

Yesterday I was out running errands most of the day and didn’t have a chance to write up a post before leaving.  I had a big shopping trip to do and I was trying to make it as quick as possible.

That naturally didn’t happen. Which always seems to be the case when grocery shopping.

But let’s get started! We’ve got two days to cover!

BREAKFAST

BBQ Pulled Pork and kaleDay 23: BBQ pulled pork with sauteed kale.  I found some leftover pulled pork in the freezer so I served that up with some sauteed kale.  It was delicious!  Some sort of pulled pork is probably my favorite protein to have at breakfast.

Grain free pancakeDay 24: Grain free pancake topped with almond butter and drizzled with maple syrup.  I used Elana’s recipe for almond meal based pancakes.  This was an interesting experience for sure!  The pancake turned out very well.  Filling but not nearly as filling/satisfying as an animal based breakfast (for me anyway).

LUNCH

Veggie noodles in a peanut sauce with curry shrimpDay 23: I was still craving some shrimp (sushi wasn’t enough) so I made a big lunch featuring shrimp.  Carrot, squash, and zucchini “noodles” coated in a peanut coconut sauce from this recipe.  The shrimp was dusted with curry powder and then sautéed up in some ghee.

Day 24: No real lunch.  I snacked on some leftover fries, a big apple, and some Applegate pepperoni while I was putting away all of the groceries.

DINNER

Chili cheese friesDay 23: There was still a tad bit of chili leftover so I turned that into chili cheese fries.  Oven baked fries topped with chili, a little cheddar, and green onions.  I really missed having some sour cream to dip them in!

Pork chop, parsnip mash, roasted carrotsDay 24: I had a meeting before dinner so by the time I got home, I was ready to eat my arm off.  Thankfully dinner was substantial!  Bone-in pork chop (from our hog share), roasted carrots, and parsnip mash.

I am in love with parsnip mash!  I even love it more than the good old favorite paleo cauliflower mash.  Don’t worry, I’ll be talking about it more after the challenge.  I cannot get enough of it.

EXERCISE 

Both days I got a chance to run!  YES!  And I can still bust through an entire mile without stopping.  Hooray! I’m definitely on my way to being a runner again.

One take-away that I learned these past few days is that the more colors on the plate, the more I am excited to dig in and start eating.  It’s not just about, “Eat The Rainbow”.  We all know that we need variety but when you have lots of colors that pop on a plate, it makes you feel better about what you are about to eat. You know you’re getting something good.

And since we are headed into summer, I can’t wait to start exploring more colors and adding to our plates!

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Clean Eats: Day 22, Moar Sushi

GF granola, blueberries, almond milk

GF granola, blueberries, almond milk After spending two days in a conference room this past weekend, I very much needed a “me day”.  Or as I refer to them, Hermit Days.

Hermit Days mean the only person I’m talking to is Scott and sometimes the dogs.  It also means that I sack out on the couch and either read all day or watch Law and Order.

Yesterday was a Law and Order day.  I caught a few episodes of Criminal Intent and it’s like L&O from another planet.  I don’t really care for that version at all.  Thankfully SVU came on and was on for the rest of the day.

Mmm Stabler is much much better.

On Hermit Days I try to keep everything low key and as easy as possible.  Breakfast was the last of the grain-free granola (already on my to-do list to make more) with blueberries and some almond milk.

I did some work and researched some blog stuff then it was couch time.  The pups and I hung out all day.

Scott had to run out to mail some packages and when he came home, he came back with some sushi.

I did not complain.  Easy late lunch early dinner and I still got to watch SVU while eating.  Score!

Tempura Shrimp SushiTwo rolls of tempura shrimp with avocado and one avocado and cucumber roll.

It was a perfect and much needed recharge day.

Today the sun is out and the weather is supposed to hit the 70s.  The pups and I are going to hang outside all day long!

Spring Clean Eats: Days 19-21, Catching Up

Scrambled eggs and sausage

I’m back!  Thanks for being patient while I was squirreled away for the weekend.  I was at the blogging conference put on by The Scoop Blogs this past weekend and when I got home in the evenings I was wiped out.  Sitting down at the computer was the last thing I wanted to do!

So I sat on the couch with Scott and the pups instead.

Let’s get caught up on the past three days!  I’m going to break this up by Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  A little easier that way.

BREAKFAST:

Blueberries, GF granola, coconut creamDay 19: Blueberries, grain free granola, and coconut cream.

Scrambled eggs, mandarin orangesDay 20: Scrambled eggs and mandarin oranges.

Scrambled eggs and sausageDay 21: Scrambled eggs and sausage

LUNCH:

Turkey, beets, asparagusDay 19: Turkey, golden beets, and asparagus.  All sauteed in ghee then I added a little splash of stock, dijon mustard, and maple syrup to create a sauce.  Delicious!

Duck poutine and 90 ShillingDay 20: Even though I was at the conference, I was still able to have Odell Day on Saturday!  Pulled Duck poutine with a maple bourbon gravy (From Common Link) and a glass of 90 Shilling.  Thanks to Kristin for being my lunch date!  Both of us were not about to pass up some duck poutine!

Day 21: An unpictured (because I was too hungry to take one) salad from Avogadro’s Number.  And a little side of sweet potato fries which were alright.

DINNER:

SushiDay 19: Sushi!  We tried out Jaws Sushi and loved it.  I had an avocado roll with cucumber and a shrimp tempura roll with avocado.  It wasn’t till after I ordered that I realized that the shrimp probably isn’t challenge friendly.  Regardless it was delicious! And I’ll probably have more. Sorry I’m not sorry.   If you’re curious Scott had their spicy tuna roll and  The After Burn roll.  He enjoyed both of those.

Chili and cheddarDay 20 & 21: Chili both nights!  I put together some chili on Saturday before I left for the conference because I knew I wouldn’t want to have to cook when I got back in the evening.  Thank goodness for prepping ahead and leftovers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Clean Eats: Day 18, Salmon Experiment

Turkey and collard greens

Turkey and collard greensNot nearly as exciting as the previous day.  There was some experimenting but only one dish.  Spoiler alert, it worked!

As I was digging around in our freezer that’s attached to the fridge (it’s a drawer freezer and I hate the ever lovin’ crap out of it.  Whoever thought that was a good design clearly didn’t cook actual food) and found some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.

Uh, yeah that needs to get used up.

I cubed some up added in collards (that I prepped the previous day!), sauteed it all in some ghee.  Sprinkled with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Some hot sauce too for some kick!

Oh man, I love greens but collards are my absolute favorite.

It was a pretty crappy over cast and windy day yesterday but we still managed to get the pups to the park and on the trail for a walk.

Another two meal day with a really late lunch that I counted as dinner.

Salmon mousse and veggiesI made a salmon mousse and paired that with some veggies.  The purple and yellow veggies are carrots.  I was in love with this dip!  Recipe will be posted once the challenge is over.  It’s challenge and Paleo friendly!

I’m very ready for my house to look like this again:

New HouseGreen grass surrounding it and trees that actually have leaves!  Some things are starting to bud which makes me extremely giddy and I know that spring and summer are fully on the way.  I’m itching for more sun, warmer days, and grilling!

Winter is going out kicking and screaming this year it seems.

Spring Clean Eats: Day 17, Experimenting

Califia Farms Almond Coconut Milk

Grain free granola, blueberries, coconut creamSame old breakfast which was totally delicious and filling!

Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing my recipe for the granola and the coconut cream sauce once the challenge is over!

Yesterday was pretty exciting around here, it turned into an impromptu kitchen day full of new stuff and experimenting.

  • Made stock
  • Roasted beets, prepping them for salads
  • Boiled some eggs
  • Cooked up some collards

I didn’t have a full lunch while I was in the kitchen, I snacked.

Califia Farms Almond Coconut Milk

First I tried out a new to me product, it’s almond and coconut milk by Califia Farms.  I’m still debating the dairy in my coffee.  Do I give it up or go strictly grass-fed?  Anyway as I was looking at milk alternatives at the store I spotted this line of almond milks.

One of my biggest hesitations going to back to factory made almond/soy/coconut milks is that they contain a lot of extra ingredients.  Preservatives and thickeners and all kinds of stuff I don’t really want.  This is why milk is more appealing at the moment because it’s just milk.  Period.

I looked the ingredients over on the Califia Farms almond milks and they are amazing.  They contain nothing but almonds and water.  Score! So I bought the almond and coconut milk combo.

smoothie

It’s definitely different tasting but it’s not bad.  I decided to test it out in a smoothie.

  • 2C Almond Coconut Milk
  • 1C Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Large handful of spinach

Blend, makes 2 smoothies.

This was really sweet!  I probably could have used more spinach and either just blueberries or just a banana and it would have tasted just fine.  I definitely liked the milk alternative though.  I’m going to give their other flavors a try as well and experiment with it a little more.

Hardboiled eggs in water

I also snacked on a hardboiled egg (sitting in cold water after cooking) and an apple.

After doing all that it was time to start working on dinner.  Scott and I both are missing pizza and seeing commercials for it doesn’t help.   I decided to increase my cooking skills and play around with a grain-free pizza dough.

I found this recipe by The Domestic Man and used that as a base.  I made only a couple of changes (and kept my fingers crossed it would still work).

For the dough the changes I made were:

  • 1/2C milk instead of 1/4C Cream + 1/4C Water
  • 1/4tsp Garlic Powder and 1/4tsp Italian Seasoning instead of 1/4tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4C Tapioca Starch and 1/2C Almond Meal instead of 3/4C grated Parmesan

The recipe split the dough and made two pizzas.  I greased up a baking sheet with some butter and made this into one pizza.

The dough was interesting! I’ve never used tapioca starch before so I had no idea what to expect.  It’s smooth but it doesn’t really stick to your hands and you can manipulate how you like.

This wasn’t a dough I could roll out.  Instead I dumped the dough onto the baking sheet and spread it with my fingers until it filled the sheet. This took some time but it worked.  I made sure to make the dough thin but not have holes.

Grain free pizza

I followed the directions on baking and walked away with a pretty good looking pizza!

Grain Free pizza

You can see that this is a very thin crust.  It had a light chewy texture to it.  I didn’t go crazy with toppings because I had never worked with dough like this before and I didn’t know how it would turn out.  I still wouldn’t load it down with toppings but it could definitely handle more.

I would like to play around with the idea of a grain-free pizza dough, something that has a yeast base and could be rolled out and cooked on a pizza stone.  Can it be done?  I don’t know but I’d like to experiment and see!

Yesterday was a pretty good day!