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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Our vacuum smells like barf.

I have never liked vacuuming. It’s probably my least favorite household chore. Which is silly, I know, there seem to be so many worse things:

• pulling slimy hair out of the shower drain (this actually might put vacuuming at my second least favorite)

• sticking a hand down the garbage disposal (only then do you realize you should have thrown that oatmeal* in the trash instead)

• cleaning behind the toilet (because you have to get your body so close to the actual toilet — always a good idea to sanitize from front to back)

• tearing down spider webs (because you know the spider it belongs to is still out there crawling around your house and will probably be seeking vengeance in the middle of the night)

• cleaning the stove top (this one is mainly just infuriating, who can ever get that thing completely clean?)

I bet you all can name 12 more, but I’ll stop there. I think my distaste for the vacuum stems from childhood. While my Mom will tell you that she vacuumed often (ahem, every day) because of our allergies and it was good for the carpet, I will argue that she just really enjoyed it; that, or it was her dirty way of trying to get us to turn off the TV and play outside (which usually didn’t work). Either way, that vacuum was so loud and it was always conveniently in use during one of my favorite TV shows (Full House, Saved by the Bell, Boy Meets World*). This inevitably led to words being exchanged about the TV volume. I couldn’t miss a word that Zack Morris was saying, so I had to turn it up when she turned on the vacuum. But you know how vacuuming goes, you have to turn it on and off, switch outlets, move furniture… which meant that Zack Morris often went from volume 20 to 50 every 45 seconds. This usually didn’t make either one of us happy. Needless to say, I wasn’t quick to get out the vacuum when we moved into the flat, but after two weeks of ignoring the blue Goblin in the closet I knew it was time. While it looked a little questionable (most things here did at first), I was not prepared for what happened next. After about 15 seconds of use I couldn’t take it anymore. It literally smelled like someone had vacuumed up their barf. Of course Jay didn’t believe me — I have very sensitive olfactory system — and he thought I was overreacting. So I let him do it. He didn’t last much longer than I did before he decided to empty it out. It helped for a while, but then we vacuumed again yesterday (don’t worry, it has been used more than twice since we have been here… but not much more than that… sorry, Mom), and it made the whole apartment smell. I had to light a candle and only use it for small amounts of time.

It didn’t really matter anyway. It’s not like it actually works. Worst vacuum ever.

Sorry Mike and Andy, we tried.

*Seriously, don’t put oatmeal down the drain. Even though it unclogs your pipes, It will clog your sink’s. True story.

*Did anyone else read that Disney is talking about a new Boy Meets World based on Corey’s son? Heck yes.

On a side note, my recent posts have made it very clear I can’t bake (in England), but I can cook (sort of). I wanted to share some recent success stories. Don’t laugh at how easy these are…

BBQ Chicken Quesadilla (it’s kind of like a lower calorie version of BBQ chicken pizza, and who can resist that?)

Whole Wheat Tortillas – you pick how many

Shredded BBQ Chicken

Mozzarella Cheese

Onion (mine was already in my BBQ chicken)

Minced Garlic (already in BBQ chicken)

Corn

Black Beans

Your Favorite BBQ Sauce

Greek Yogurt

Avocado

I made BBQ chicken in the crockpot and had a significant amount of leftovers. I also had a crap ton of tortillas to use in the fridge — everything goes bad much more quickly here — it reminds me that we must have way too many preservatives in our food back home. Anyway, because I only have one pan to use that isn’t rusted out, I could only make half a quesadilla. So I tossed one tortilla into the pan with a little butter (real butter, not fake stuff) and then mixed up my sauce. I used (roughly) a 1:3 ratio with my BBQ and Greek yogurt (the more greek yogurt, the tangier it is) and then spread a small amount (too much and the toppings will slide out) on my tortilla. Then I layered my cheese, chicken, black beans, corn, a little more cheese and then folded my tortilla over to cook. Once it was browned on both sides and the cheese was melted I took it off the stove and topped it with avocado and more yogurt sauce. Delicious!

Cheeseburger Quesadilla

Lean Ground Beef

Onion

Minced Garlic

Cherry Tomatoes

Avocado

Mozzarella (or any other cheese)

I told you I had a lot of tortillas. This one is even easier. Ground your beef with onion and garlic and slice your tomatoes (smaller the better). Put your tortilla in the pan and let it heat up with some of your mozzarella. Add your beef and tomatoes then top with more cheese. Once the shell is browned (crispy) and your cheese is melted top with avocado and dip in ketchup — or anything else you like to eat on your burger!

I can’t really take full credit for either of these, I was inspired by a local restaurant and Pinterest, but I’m positive my version is better. 🙂