Month: March 2015

My Review of the 21 Day Fix

I was really surprised by this program. I did not expect to love it…but I love the 21 Day Fix! And I don’t know anyone who has completed the program that doesn’t love it!

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The 21 Day Fix was also the program I chose for the first Facebook accountability group I started on my own. And I love that group. One of the participants had the following to say about it:

“i can’t believe we are done with round one. i am pretty damn impressed with myself and ready for round two. my scale moved and i feel great. i have never worked out everyday. the most i ever got to the gym was three days a week. i have learned so much…..
here is what i learned
1. working out everyday is doable when you have a plan
2. you will not die from working out a little everyday
3. you do not need to drown your salads in salad dressing. it is actually nice to be able to taste the vegetables.
4. a baked sweet potato is very yummy with out two pats of butter
5. having buddies keeping you accountable really works”

She was and still is one of the highlights of the group- always posting, always commenting positively, posting recipes and motivating quotes. And when she posted this, without me asking her to, I loved it! It’s a great summary of what you can get from the 21 Day Fix.

There are so many great things about the program (I like Autumn- the trainer, I like Kat- the modifier, I like the daily quotes on the chalkboard in the background) but here are a few points I think it’s important to mention…

  • One of the great things about the 21 Day Fix is that it’s 21 days. A longer program can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new or just getting back to exercise. It feels manageable.
  • Another great thing is that you can get results fast. And that’s motivating. It makes you want to keep it up.
  • The eating plan spells it all out for you. The 21 Day Fix containers make it easy and kinda fun; having a new knickknack adds a certain something to planning it out.photo-6
  • You can still eat all types of food- you’re not cutting out any food group. You can have carbs, just not with every meal.
  • The workouts are totally doable. First of all, they’re 30 minutes so it’s not too daunting and you can usually find that kind of time in your day. Second, there’s a modifier, so even if you could push yourself, you know you can modify and take it a little easier if you want to.
  • There’s a different workout each day. You don’t get sick of the workouts, because they’re different each day.
  • The format of the workouts makes the time pass quickly! Most of the workouts are done in rounds, with a given number of exercises in each round. This is also nice if there’s one exercise your really hate! You know you only have to do it twice and then it’s done…until next week:)
  • You learn lifelong good habits. Like the quote above, you learn to like salad with less dressing, vegetables with less butter or cheese. You eat vegetables more often than you used to.
  • It teaches you balance. You can eat anything you want, just not all the time. I can eat pizza. I can eat pizza every week. But…if I know I’m having pizza on Saturday, and I find myself faced with pizza on a Friday, I can choose to eat pizza then and there or wait and have it Saturday. If I’m having ice cream and cake for a birthday, I’ll try to avoid carbs during the day. And none of it is deprivation; I am making healthy choices and I feel good about them.

This last one was a big eye-opener for me. For the last few years I have been eating really healthy foods. Most of the time. Because of that, I sometimes felt entitled to eat junk as if it didn’t really count. But junk adds up. If we have pizza once a week there’s a splurge. If we make cookies and I have a few (or eat some cookie dough, or both) there’s a splurge. If my mom brings over a bag of Double Chocolate Milanos, there’s a splurge. If I have tea with my friend and she buys a bag of Double Chocolate Milanos (can you tell they’re my favorite?), there’s a splurge. If I buy pink Hershey’s kisses for Valentines Day to put in my kids’ lunch boxes and happen to eat 3 or 4 or 27 there’s a splurge. And this could all happen in one week. And not seem like I was really being so bad, because it was over the course of a week. And it wasn’t like I went out to dinner and had fettucine alfredo and chocolate cake for dessert. It was dribs and drabs, but they add up.

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The 21 Day Fix forces you to be more mindful of your food choices, and to see each individual choice as part of a bigger picture.

The 21 Day Fix workouts are as follows:

  • Total Body Cardio Fix- works the whole body using weights
  • Upper Body Fix- focuses on the upper body, uses weights
  • Lower Body Fix- focuses on the lower body, uses weights
  • Pilates Fix- my favorite Pilates ever. A nice change of pace, but you will feel it!
  • Cardio Fix- cardio, no weights
  • Dirty 30- lots of cardio, with weights, challenging
  • Yoga Fix- a nice yoga workout; you’ll feel great at the end.

They are all challenging, but not so hard that they’re daunting. I’ve been working out with Beachbody programs for over 2 1/2 years and it was a good, challenging workout. I have friends who are in better shape than I am, and used to exercising hard, who love this program. But you could do it if you haven’t worked out in years, if you have a lot of weight to lose, if you are completely out of shape. I would really recommend it to almost anyone!

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The 21 Day Fix is a total package. It is so healthy. The first few days you might feel a little hungry, but it’s never terrible. You really do get to eat a lot of food. And after those first few days I remember saying, “I feel amazing!” You will feel healthier, stronger, you can almost feel the results happening right there in that first week. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Last Week’s Dinners

I tried a few good new recipes this week! I love when a new recipe ends up being something you’d make again, even better when it’s one you could see putting in the weeknight dinner rotation. Easy clean-eating weeknight dinners are the best!

I would like to remind you here that I am not a chef. I am not a foodie. Cooking does not come naturally to me. When we have a holiday dinner here, my husband cooks. My interest in recipes comes from two places- my interest in health and clean eating, and my desire to make something different for dinner (please for the love of God just tell me what to make for dinner and I’ll make it! oh to not have to decide what to make for dinner again…) I have learned a lot over the last ten years or so, and I’ve gotten better. But these dinners are not fancy. If you are a more gourmet kinda cook, this is not for you!

Sunday- Ginger Cranberry Pork Roast

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This was different enough to be a nice, change-of-pace weekend dinner, but easy enough to be a weeknight dinner. And it’s made in a crockpot! The recipe as written was to be used as a make-ahead freezer meal. Those are great to have in for busy weeks!

I bet you could swap out the fresh ginger for ground ginger, too, if fresh ginger isn’t something you usually have in the house. (It’s not something I usually have in the house and you should see the obscene amount of fresh ginger I bought because I wasn’t sure how much I’d need!)

I found this recipe here at mamaandbabylove.

Monday- Turkey Chili

I love making turkey chili on a Monday, because it makes a ton and we always have a bunch of leftovers to use for lunches during the week.

I brown 1 pound lean ground turkey in a big, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. When it’s browned, I season the meat with a generous amount of chili powder. Turn the heat to low. Then I add 1 giant can of dark red kidney beans (drained), 1 bag of frozen mixed peppers, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 can of crushed tomatoes. I mix it up and season again with a lot of chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, basil. Just a very unscientific shake once or twice over the mixture! I also add about a tablespoon of brown sugar. Brown sugar is not clean, but I haven’t tried using turbinado yet (it seems too grainy for something like this) and using coconut sugar doesn’t seem to go. I know logically that brown sugar is not any cleaner than white sugar, but it seems like it should be doesn’t it? I used it anyway!

Let it cook for 30 minutes or so covered. You can leave it on the stove for quite a while on low heat.

You could make this using fresh vegetables and it’s even better. But the ease of this, and the convenience of being able to have all the ingredients in for a list minute dinner, makes it our go-to recipe. I serve it over quinoa or brown rice with a little shredded cheddar to sprinkle on top.

Tuesday- Chicken & Asparagus Stir Fry

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This was soooooo good! I will definitely make this one again. I found this recipe here at skinnytaste.

This isn’t as simple as other recipes, but it’s worth it. And I imagine the next time I make this it will be even easier and faster.

Wednesday- Baked Cajun Chicken & Cauliflower

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I have realized these last few weeks that I don’t make baked chicken nearly often enough. It’s so easy! I always felt like chicken had to be part of a recipe, or at least breaded. Well, this was the easiest chicken ever, and so tasty. All I did was mist a baking sheet with some olive oil, put the chicken on it and season one side with Cajun seasoning, flip it and season the other side. Cook at 400 for 15 minutes; turn the chicken and cook for another 10 or so minutes. You may not even have to turn it!

I made my own Cajun seasoning; it’s very easy and you can make a big batch to have for several dinners. But I think it’s pretty easy to find a “clean” Cajun seasoning too. Just watch out for MSG and other sneaky additives.

Roasted cauliflower is delicious; it’s really like a treat. I cut up the cauliflower, toss it in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan. Spread it on a baking sheet and cook at 400 for about 20-25 minutes. You may want to give it a shake halfway through. My daughter loves this! And it was in place of a carb at dinner:) Serve with a salad and it’s a great healthy meal.

Thursday- Skinny Chicken Alfredo

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This was so freaking good, too!! It was comfort food, it felt like an indulgence, but it’s healthy! I even used whole wheat flour when making the sauce. This would be perfect for a chilly day or a day when you want something hearty and savory. I found this recipe here at iowagirleats while looking for another recipe I used to make. This is a definite do-over.

Friday- Tuna Wraps and Salad

Friday afternoons tend to be busy, so we usually have grilled cheese or tuna fish or pizza. Some tuna fish made with homemade mayo and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla is a nice healthy dinner!

I confess I have not made homemade mayo yet…but I am going to very soon. I will have to do it secretly, because I know my husband (who is so into all health food stuff) will refuse to even try it. He’s loyal to Hellman’s and won’t even talk about the possibility of a healthier alternative.

I don’t even like mayo in anything other than tuna fish. But the store bought stuff isn’t the healthiest and I like tuna fish as a meal option, so I’m going to give it a try. This “Magnificent Mayonnaise” recipe from Dr. Oz has been recommended by a friend.

Saturday- Saucy Susan Pork Chops

IMG_1881My mom often made pork chops in the crockpot with Saucy Susan and it was very tasty. She would use bone-in pork chops and the meat would just fall off the bone. And how easy is that- to just put the pork in and throw in a bottle of Saucy Susan?

Alas, Saucy Susan is not clean. It has high fructose corn syrup and lots of ingredients. So I made my own version, and while it wasn’t as tasty, it was pretty good. I think with some tweaking I could get it even closer.

I used boneless pork chops (only because the bones kind of gross me out- I think the bone-in chops are a little tastier in this kind of recipe). I put them in the crockpot, and added 1 jar of Polaner All-Fruit Apricot jelly, which is only fruit and fruit juices, no sugar added, plus 1 jar full of water. Then I added 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and soy sauce. Next time I would probably add a sweetener like turbinado at this point. Cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for about 4 hours. After cooking, you may want to strain the liquid and add it back to the pot with 2 tablespoons or so of corn starch. This made for a nice, thicker sauce. I served it over quinoa with steamed broccoli. Again, could use some tweaking, but pork chops & apricot all-fruit in a crock pot is a good base for an easy crockpot dinner.

I hope my week’s worth of dinners gave you an idea or two! I’d love to hear about your favorite weekday dinners that are quick and easy, too!!

 

My Clean Eating Breakfast Ideas

We’ve all heard how important breakfast is…the most important meal of the day. It’s not only important for energy, but also to get your metabolism moving after a night’s rest. Here are some of the clean eating breakfast ideas I turn to most often…

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My favorite breakfast of all is plain greek yogurt, blueberries, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and homemade granola. Delicious! I could eat it every day! It’s pretty simple really, but to make it even quicker I measure out the yogurt into mason jars and top with frozen blueberries. Then I don’t have to thaw the berries or anything in the morning. I just pour a container of granola over it and eat it right out of the jar. I use my 21 Day Fix containers to keep my portion sizes in check, but you could just use your own measuring cups. I recommend that you do measure because it’s easy to go overboard…especially with the granola!

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I also love my little egg muffins. I make these ahead of time and eat them as breakfast or mid-morning snack. They are so easy and they even give you a serving of vegetables! To make you simply mix 6 eggs, about 3 cups of veggies (I cook up a box of frozen chopped broccoli and add that), a splash of milk, and a little bit of shredded cheese. Pour into generously greased muffin tin (I use coconut oil) and cook at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. Then reheat before eating (I like them hot) for about 1 minute in the microwave. I’ve seen this recipe in a few places, but I think I first found the recipe here at 4EverFitMom. These were a lifesaver on the 21 Day Fix!

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Another option is 1 piece of toast with sun butter (or nut butter) and fruit, maybe a banana or 1/2 banana. Some people like to put the banana on the toast. “Clean” bread can be hard to find. I was happy to find this sprouted sourdough that is also made in a nut-free facility.

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Oatmeal or steel cut oats is very healthy, and relatively quick and easy. You can make a big batch ahead and portion it out in containers, too. To keep it clean, add a little bit of maple syrup for sweetness, as well as some fruit, nuts, or seeds. I like to add sunflower seeds for a little bit of crunch, along with cinnamon and banana slices. Try having some hardboiled eggs with your oatmeal so you get more protein in at breakfast.

Overnight oats used to be my favorite go-to. It is similar to yogurt and granola, but softer. There are several recipes you can choose from at The Yummy Life.

Good old scrambled eggs and turkey bacon with a side of fruit or a piece of toast is very filling, and very tasty. You can also wrap your eggs up with some salsa in a whole wheat tortilla for a little breakfast burrito.

For a weekend breakfast, I love greek yogurt pancakes. They taste like a cross between pancakes and french toast, with a nice protein boost from the yogurt. Drizzled with some maple syrup they are soooo good. You can find the recipe here.

If you’re looking for a cereal option, I think Kashi’s Autumn Wheat is one of the best out there. There are only three ingredients and it’s delicious with cinnamon and milk!

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Shakeology or a smoothie are great options, too. I love how much nutrition you can get in at one meal! They’re convenient to take with you or just to sip as you get ready for the day if you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast.

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I love breakfast! I wake up hungry and look forward to any of these choices, but especially my yogurt and granola. It is just so good. Remember to eat breakfast within an hour of waking. There are other ideas I’d like to try, like protein pancakes you can make ahead of time, and oatmeal in the crockpot. When I’ve tried out some new ideas I’ll let you know…