I want to write a couple of posts over the next few days to reflect on the last 30 days. First, as a matter of practicality, I want to consolidate the food into a giant list so you can see what 30 days of “Healthy” eating entailed for me. Not all meals might actually conform to the healthy label, but regardless they still formed the backbone of my success.
Note: If you see a number in parentheses after the food item, it is the amount of times I ate that particular food over 30 days. For greater ease (namely for ME…in the future) every meal that has a recipe is linked to the day that the recipe appears in.
Starting the Day Right:
I began every single day of this challenge with a cup of Nespresso coffee with up to a 1/4 cup Coffee Creamer (I know…it’s a lot, but we drink really strong coffee) that touted itself as “Fat Free”. I gave up my morning latte and went with something where I could count the calories accurately. This morning beverage averaged around 250-300 calories – so it probably wasn’t very efficient in the end. HOWEVER, in its defence, I always looked forward to drinking the only extremely sweet thing in my diet every morning.
- 3/4 cup of cereal with one cup almond milk and a fruit: plain Cheerios, plain oatmeal (2), Bran Flakes, Kashi Go Lean (3), Power Protein Vector (on days when I was extra hungry in the morning there is a tablespoon of nuts or seeds added)
- Refrigerator Oatmeal with cup of milk: Raspberry/Vanilla, Blueberry/Maple (3), Peanut Butter/Banana
- Smoothies: Peanut Butter/Banana with Coconut Milk, Dying for Chocolate
- Open-faced toasted Sandwich with fruit and a cup of milk: Avocado/Tomato on Rye, Bacon-Scallion Omelette on Rye, Tomato/Goat Cheese on Whole Wheat English Muffin, Over-easy Egg on Whole Wheat (2), Smoked Salmon/Cream Cheese on Whole Wheat Baguette
- Protein Waffle with fruit
- Hard-boiled egg with fruit and nuts
- Just Fruit
- 1/2 a Breaded Eggplant Sandwich on a Kaiser (complete with peppers, onions and hot peppers first thing in the morning!)
- Assorted French Pastries including: Butter Croissant, Pain au Chocolate, Almond Croissant (2)
- Egg McMuffin (no meat)
Notes on Breakfast: I’ve ordered the food items from favourites to least likely to eat again. On day 5, I stumbled upon Refrigerator Oatmeal, and although it is not my absolute favourite (as I still prefer cereal) – it was a new choice favourite. The overnight, no cook refrigerator oatmeal is more work that just pouring a bowl of cereal in the morning, but it is wonderful and delicious. The mixture of chewy oats, chia seeds that have plumped up and snap between your teeth and the richness of greek yogurt (no, I didn’t use low fat) was so good in the morning. Each open-faced sandwich was very good. I made them, I enjoyed them, but in the long run they’re way too much work first thing in the morning, I’d only make them if I really needed something different. I also enjoyed a couple of smoothies through the month: thick rich smoothies with nothing like just ice, skim milk and some fruit (gross!) – these smoothies used alternate milks like coconut and almond with protein powders and bananas, cocoa and peanut butter to make them extra rich. When I want sweet…I want a smoothie.
Unpleasant surprises on the breakfast list include the Protein Waffle which obliterated my waffle iron for days (maybe even a week), an Egg McMuffin without ham is truly even more disgusting than the original, a hardboiled egg is not sustaining enough even with fruit and nuts, and eating just fruit is a recipe for starvation disaster. On the breakfasts where we went a little nuts — well, they were all delicious (except the aforementioned McYuck).
- Grain Bowls: Quinoa/Salmon/Peppers, Quinoa/Chickpea/Broccoli (2), Quinoa/Tofu/Tempeh, Quinoa/Chicken/Artichoke, Green Lentil/Artichoke/Turkey, Black Bean/Trout/Tomato, Brown Rice/Tempeh/Arugula, Quinoa/Artichoke/Tofu
- Wraps: Grilled Steak Wrap with Roasted Shallot and Peppers (2), Grilled chicken skewer, hummus and roasted artichokes, Pulled Pork and Kale-Cabbage Slaw
- Salads (mixtures of raw fruits and vegetables were in each salad: red, orange, yellow pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, dill, even a pear snuck in) : Romaine and Crab , Red Leaf with Chicken and Feta, Iceberg and Chicken, French Lentil Salad, side Garden Salad
- Soups: Split Pea Soup with 2 crackers and 1/2 avocado (2), 9 Bean Soup, Middle Eastern Lentil Soup with Fresh-baked Pita
- Open-faced Sandwiches: Turkey/Avocado on Rye, Eggplant/Veggie Spread on Whole Wheat, Hard-boiled egg on Whole Wheat
- Full Cibatta Bun/Deli Meat/Sun-dried tomato sandwich
Notes: For the most part lunches were a complete success with regards to healthy eating. On days when all my other meals were falling-off-the wagon, I still did okay with lunch. I attribute this almost solely to the introduction of the Grain Bowl as my new go-to lunch. I was finding salads tasty, but boring; soup is really good, but you only want it occasionally, and strangely, sandwiches did not fill me up, were gross (a hard-boiled egg mashed on bread is seriously wrong), and without butter or mayonnaise…what’s the point? When the Pressure Cooker loaned to me started cooking up grains, my life kind of changed. I could make quinoa, rice, dried beans…pretty much any grain in under 5 minutes in huge quantities. To say I loved that is kind of an understatement, I went crazy making huge batches of dried legumes when most of my Grain Bowls were a mere 1/2-3/4 cup of quinoa, lentil, bean or rice. Didn’t matter to me, everyone in the house was eating up everything regardless. The beauty of the grain bowl is an entire universe of toppings that just inspired me to eat lunch happily every day I made one; they accounted for 1/3 of my lunches on this challenge – and there was no comparison – they were the best lunches. Besides being heads and shoulders above as far as delicious they were also extremely useful, everything that was left over the from supper the night before that needed to be used usually easily combined into the next day’s grain bowl with fresh additions. Grain bowls were also my go-to eating out solution. I made at least 3 trips to the restaurant Urban Herbivore to pick up a grain bowl so that I could make it to supper without going outside the bounds of my challenge. I’m not done…I have even MORE to say about grain bowls (I have praises to sing folks): using a wide assortment of homemade dressings altered the flavour of quinoa dramatically enough that it never got boring. Here they are:
All you really need to make a great dressing is a mason jar you can shake really hard and a little time. The time spent making dressings, in my mind, is always worth it – they are always delicious. They are kind of like pizza that way, even a bad dressing is still good and better than anything you find pre-made in a bottle at the grocery store.
- Vinaigrette (a mixture of olive oil, different types of vinegar and different types of mustard in a 1:1:1 ratio mixture)
- Greek vinaigrette (a mixture of olive oil, a wine vinegar, and greek yogurt (1:1:1) with oregano)
- Straight aged balsamic (used sparingly when I needed a shot of sweet in my salad)
- Lemon-Dijon-Tamari Dressing (Tamari or soy sauce if you don’t have Tamari, really changed flavours for me when I needed a more salty dressing)
- Feel like a Million Vinaigrette (olive oil, Red or White wine and dijon – just to get a little fancy and use leftover wine)
- Garlic-Herring Dressing (that day I decided to mash up fish for my salad dressing)
- 1000 Spices Dressing (a mortar and 20 minutes necessary)
- Aioli Dressing (make your own mayonnaise!)
- Lemon-Tahini Dressing (a million calories laying inconspicuously on your salad)
- Caesar Salad Dressing (European-style — my go to dressing for going on 2 decades)
- Lemon is Nice Dressing (for potato and spinach salad)
In retrospect, looking over my list of dressings – I think that I’m not that into cooking, I’m actually into making dressings. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at suppers