The Whole Life Challenge

Thank God the Whole Life Challenge ended before Thanksgiving…er, Christmas (I’m a little behind). Thursday would have been miserable; me and my pile of turkey eyeing everyone else and their starches and pies. I’m not kidding; not a single item on that table was compliant (besides the avocado deviled eggs I made that nobody else ate). It’s not that I was overly interested in the green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, but I would have been downright hangry if I hadn’t been able to eat anything besides meat.

Now let me back up a few months, I decided to participate in the Whole Life Challenge with my coworkers. I don’t do diets, but I had been wanting to cut out white sugar and this seemed like a good way to keep me accountable. I was also curious — I wanted to gauge my current eating habits against a Paleo-inspired diet. Would it make me feel amazing? Would my skin start glowing, instead of just sparkling (get the vampire reference)? Would I have more energy? Would I lose weight? Cutting out white potatoes, white sugar and cheese seemed doable. Cutting out milk and honey sounded miserable. There’s nothing better than a bowl of banana-peanut butter oatmeal covered in whole milk. And if I couldn’t have honey, how on earth was I going to satisfy my sweet tooth (because you know I have one ugly monster of a sweet tooth)? No dark chocolate, no Stoneyfield After Dark Chocolate frozen yogurt, no PB&Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams… damn you, sugar.

Now all of those things are what I consider “better-for-you” treats. There is a butt load of research on the benefits of dark chocolate. Would I like to protect my skin against the sun? Improve brain function? Lower my risk of cardiovascular disease? Yes, please. I can eat the entire container of Stoneyfeld frozen yogurt for 400 calories. YES, I SAID 400 CALORIES. I don’t, but the point is that I could and I’d still feel better about myself than when I indulge in a Scratch cupcake. And this treat, my friends, tastes like a Fudgesicle from Schwan’s. Mmm…childhood… Anyone out there know what I’m talking about? Lastly, Dark Chocolate Dreams is a-mazing on bananas, toast, a spoon — it could probably even make celery taste good. Because let’s be honest, even with a heaping amount of peanut butter and raisins, it’s still stringy and chewy and pretty much completely unsatisfying.

After my chocolate-white sugar-white potato-soybean-milk-cottage cheese-artificial flavor-preservative abstinence I lost a whopping ZERO pounds. Yes, you read that right, not a single pound was shed in eight weeks (I was suppose to lose 7 lbs and 6% body fat). To be fair, I had my cheat moments, but they were mostly for things like milk and peanut butter banana toast (link to my fave); things I should not have to feel guilty about. So all of this to come back to where I started: Enjoy things in moderation, steer clear from long ingredient lists, fuel your body with what it needs, eat as “whole” as possible and indulge when necessary. Because your weight is just a number and the formulas are not one size fits all.

… and when someone tells you to lose 6% of your body fat, tell them you like the way your jeans fit (if you’re nice).

On a good note, the WLC did motivate me to try some of the 842 recipes I have pinned. Some of them needed some small tweaks — like swapping white sugar for coconut sugar — but most are WLC compliant. To find more recipes that I have tested and approved, visit my Pinterest board.

Peanut Butter Cookies // Swap white sugar for coconut sugar and you’re golden. These were a LIFESAVER.

Guacamole Deviled Eggs (or Grunder family fail) from I Wash You Dry

guacamole-eggs-watermark

Vanilla Poppyseed Cake Doughnuts from the Urban Poser. They look too good to be true, right? They are actually very easy to make — don’t be intimidated!

stacked doughnuts 2

 

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from My Whole Food Life // The first time we made these we were really confused. They are nothing like a cupcake — they’re mushy — so don’t be alarmed when you pull them out of the oven. I never bothered to make the frosting because they were so good mixed in plain greek yogurt with a few slices of banana on top. I also heard they are basically the bomb.com when frozen.

 Sweet Potato Cornbread from Leite Culinaria // Two things: 1) I tried baking the cornbread in muffin tins and they turned out dry. It really does taste better in cast iron skillet. 2) It works best to puree the sweet potato and butter in a small blender before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet and Spicy Sausage Stuffed Peppers from Fast Paleo // This sausage mix is fantastic and can be eaten with over easy eggs in the morning or plain.

Taco Pie from Paleo Newbie

Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad from Two Peas and Their Pod

Southwestern-Grilled-Sweet-Potato-Salad-6

Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast Casserole from Cooking Quinoa // It’s weird that you don’t cook the quinoa, but you get over it once you taste it.

 

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Something Green

[Prologue]

I’m a goal-oriented person but I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because in 2010 I made a simple resolution: floss once day. And I did…until May. Finals came around and flossing was apparently at the bottom of the priority list, which doesn’t even make sense — it’s good for you, it takes all of twenty seconds, and it takes zero mental capacity. Seriously, I’m a dentist’s daughter. What’s wrong with me?

– – –

I have a new goal. Actually I have three.

1) I’m going to eat something green every day, even if some days that means green frosting.

Here’s the deal: vegetables are hard for me. Sure, I get my 2-3 servings of dairy, I drink plenty of water, I pop blueberries like candy and I fuel my body with nuts and lean protein BUT I can go days without eating a green vegetable. This is a problem. Sunday I decided to do something about it. I made a meal plan, went to the store and bought some green stuff. I came back with avocado, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, peppers and brussel sprouts. Let’s do this…

Sunday I made Creamy Southwest Quesadillas, but I swapped the cream cheese for Neufchâtel (and only used 4 oz), pepper jack for sharp cheddar, sautéed spinach to replace corn and added chicken. They were freakin’ delicious. And I should give myself double points for this because I added avocado on top. YUM. You can find the actual recipe here: http://chocolateandcarrots.com/2014/01/creamy-southwest-quesadillas

Monday night I made Spaghetti Bake, but I added mushrooms, green pepper and sautéed spinach in place of some of the noodles. Speaking of noodles, I used Ezekiel elbow macaroni; they look questionable and leave your water kind of grainy (and your stove a mess — I let my water boil over twice…oops), but you can’t tell the difference from regular whole wheat pasta. I should have cut back on the ricotta though, this one turned out a little cheesy: http://chocolateandcarrots.com/2014/02/easy-baked-spaghetti

Tuesday night I had a massive kale Caesar salad with salmon from Table 128. It was a whole lotta kale. (PS If you live in Des Moines you should check this place out. It’s GOOD.)

Wednesday I had leftover quesadillas. Yes, they were still delicious.

And on those frosting days, maybe it’s buttercream with green food coloring, or maybe it’s chocolate avocado frosting. 😉

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate mini chips (optional)

2) I’m going to make a significant effort to “be (more) present”… which means not thinking about the million other things I should be doing and enjoying what I’m doing right now.

Yeah, yeah, this is hippie-granola-yogi Kayla talking, but for real, this is something we should all try to be better at. Do you ever think about how good it feels to take a deep breath? Try it. You’ll like it.

3) Floss

Yep, I’m going to try again. I’m a grown-ass woman. I can do this.

And my #tbt for the day. I can’t help it, we are 30 days from our first-year anniversary! xo

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Small Victories

With less than three weeks (yes, only three weeks!) left of our trip I finally made it back from the grocery store without pretending to check my phone or hoping for a red light at the crosswalk (just so I could set my over-stuffed bags down and rest). Which means I finally figured it out or I’ve gotten stronger, either way, it’s a victory for me. I can’t count the times that I broke a sweat and got finger cramps from carrying those damn grocery bags. You know, they really shouldn’t even make the bags that big, they are at least twice the size of the ones we use back home and are just asking to be stuffed full of healthy goodness. Of course, Jay doesn’t always appreciate my choices (today I came home with kale, eggplant, cous cous, mushrooms…); my favorite is when he comes home after I’ve brought back two big bags of groceries and can’t find anything “good” to snack on. 🙂

I’ll be posting pictures of our trips to Italy and Spain soon! xo