Kicking the Habit

So, if you are here, you are likely making an attempt, maintaining, or considering a clean eating lifestyle. Hey, me too. But is there something (maybe more than one) in your diet that you know for darn sure it isn't within the guidelines of eating clean? Sure, I'm sure there is. Maybe it's that' Diet Coke you just have to have every day with lunch. Or, perhaps you really can't live without an occasional Dairy Queen Blizzard. Well, nobody is perfect. I've been clean eating now since just after the Thanksgiving holidays. Yes, I went for it at a very difficult time of year. I stopped eating candies (yes, when my boss gave me a coffee cup filled with Hershey Kisses, I did eventually eat them all gone - but I gave some away too), I stopped drinking soda of any kind (fell off that bandwagon though last week and I had ONE Diet Coke because my daughter, aka the temptress, bought and brought home a case and left it sitting on the kitchen table), and I stopped eating white flours (and that's been pretty easy).

All that went out the window - mostly - on vacation. But I digress as that is a post all on its own.

But what about that one vice, that one thing one can't live without? Tosca Reno herself has one - and it's coffee. For me, it's my little pink packet (and it MUST be the pink kind) of artificial sweetener in my two cups of coffee first thing in the morning. Before I drink my water, before I eat my breakfast, before I work out on my treadmill... I have two cups of freshly brewed, wake up full on caffeinated, hot cups of coffee with a dash of milk and a pink packet of ultra sweet goodness.

For the first four weeks, I thought - later, later I will give it up. The fifth week I said, now. So, I bought some Agave syrup thinking that was the sweetest stuff described. And for 10 days I tried it. I hated every cup of coffee. But I kept drinking it - it's my thing - it's what I do. I went to Costa Rica for a week this month and while there I decided, well, since there is no agave, and I don't want to revert to my artificial ways, I'll try the unrefined pure cane sugar they had. No dice. I hated every single cup. So, I returned home (and on the trip I brought Tosca's book to read), and thought about Tosca and the plan.

It's clear that for Tosca, she was unwilling to give up her coffee. She made many other good choices, but that one, that very one was not going to budge. I started thinking about my development. I realized, I eat damn healthy 98% of the time. I've given up artificial sweeteners in my fake cookies, my low-fat false ice creams, my diet sodas, my diet iced tea drinks, my powerade/gatorade drinks - from everywhere else, it has been eradicated. So, is it completely and totally necessary to give it up in my coffee? I've decided, no. But I've reduced. I've learned that having a Hazelnut coffee, or a coffee dusted with cinnamon before brewing provides natural sweetness. So, I only need a 1/2 packet per cup to still love my coffee.

So, there you have it. Sometimes, it's just allowing yourself a simple pleasure that can keep you right on track.


Grilled Chipotle Chicken and Spinach

ok, so maybe the two don't go together but whatever. it's yummy! and, just so you know, if it ain't simple i'm not going to make it! this is SIMPLE!!!

  • Chicken Breast (i make like 6 pieces at a time and eat them over a few days)
  • Chipotle Chili Pepper Seasoning
  • Fresh Spinach Leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

(i don't measure things really, sorry!)

  1. Trim fat off chicken breast. Rub about 1/2 tsp of chipotle seasoning on each chicken breast, both sides.
  2. Grill or bake until done.
  3. heat 1 tsp. olive oil in pan and sautee garlic. Add spinach leaves until wilted.
  4. EAT!!!

super simple, right? and super yummy! Enjoy!


Meal Planning

I wanted to talk a little today about what I believe the foundation is of successful Clean Eating. Yes, that's right - it's the meal plan. With one of the main components of eating clean being munching on 5-6 meals a day, I realized early on that I needed a more organized way to keep up with all that food intake. I know a lot of people at least plan their dinners for a week, but I'm here to say that planning all 5 meals makes this girl one successful clean eater. I have snacks at work, my kid just looks on the fridge and has a plethora of lunch and snack ideas from which to choose, and I come home and already know... "what's for dinner?"

As soon as took the Clean Eating plunge, I knew I was going to need guidance, so I immediately subscribed to Clean Eating Magazine (which coincidentally is published by Robert Kennedy publishing which hmmm, also happens to be the name of Tosca Reno's husband... but that's a story for another day isn't it). I also went to the bookstore and picked up an earlier issue of the magazine knowing that my subscription would be lagging and I wanted to soak up all the information I could. So, here is where I discovered the meal plans. If you check out the website you'll see the link to my very first meal plan. In each issue, they include 2 weeks worth of meal plans and coordinating shopping lists. So, I've adapted those plans and shopping lists based on: 1. my personal food choice tastes
2. my budget
3. what I might have in the house, or in particular leftover from the week prior.

And for all of you who say, I hate grocery shopping... this does work best if you shop 1/week, but I can see making a plan that you could stretch into two weeks - just means using more frozen fruits and veggies.

Tips for adapting meal plans:
1. Start with dinner - this allows you to more easily plan lunches, especially if you are a small family like ours. There are sure to be leftovers and you can use them elsewhere.
2. Vary the menu - I mean, introduce yourself to one or two new recipes or foods each week. You might surprise yourself in what you or your family are willing to eat.
3. Stick to the plan at the grocery store - this helps you manage your budget and be less impulsive when shopping (for me it means fewer frozen dinners and other sugar/preservative laden convenience foods thrown in the cart).
4. Commit to the time for planning - use your own cookbooks, search online (I particularly like cookinglight.com for easy to adapt recipes).
5. Add notations to your plan for easy and fast cooking such as where to find a recipe you've included.
6. Planning at least one slow cooker recipe with a larger serving amount works great for freezing foods and having them available for future planning.

Here are 3 examples of my meal plans - the first two are fairly close to the ones from the Nov/Dec issue of Clean Eating magazine, but the third is my own. I used several recipes from the magazine, but also from two of my cookbooks (CrockPot and an all-time favorite The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook)

Ok - so now that I set you up for the grand finale of the post, I've spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how to post my Meal Plan files, and it just. won't. work. So, instead... I will link you to my personal blog... where I KNOW how to post my meal plans and will do so now.

Happy Eating everyone!


My Story

Allison here! aka - Ally, aka - scrapally. Thanks to Liz for starting the blog where we can all chat and share our tips, recipes and ideas. Love it!

I thought I'd make my first post more of an introduction and explain my motivation for eating clean. About 14 years ago (age 31), I was in the best shape of my life - and I mean the B.E.S.T. I was 95# (I'm only 4'9" so don't freak out too bad) and 16% body fat (athletic for a woman). I was buff and I ate whatever I damn well pleased. I probably ate about 3500+ calories a day. But overall, they were low fat, low/artificial sugar, lots of lean meats, etc. What I considered a "healthy" diet. Yes, I would indulge, but I tried to think in terms of nutritional value. How does one under 5 foot gal take in 3500 calories and maintaing that body you may ask? Exercise. Lots and lots and lots of exercise. I was working out 6 days a week. 60-90 minutes of kickboxing and advanced step aerobics and then another hour of weight training - the real stuff - squats, bench presses, dumbbell flies. You get the idea. But that's a lifestyle that I couldn't continue, nor do I want to return to that kind of exercise regime. So, it didn't last. It was HARD to retrain my eating habits back to a normal amount of calories, and I continue to struggle with viewing my body (which is healthy, but not tone and on the higher end of the scale from which I am comfortable) in a way that I accept.

I'll be honest, a month ago I was fluctuating between 115-117. Yeah, yeah, I know, you all would kill for that. But when you look at my BMI, it's right on the cusp of that every dangerous 25. So, it's not where I want to be. It's not where I am comfortable. Again, I always considered myself a healthy eater. Once I got serious about getting my body to look as healthy as I thought I ate, I searched for the solution - I knew it included exercise and I'm good with that. But I wanted a regime that allowed me and my busy schedule to all work together. I tried Weight Watchers. And that worked. But if you've ever done WW, you know it's all about the points and because of my weight and size, guess how many points I was limited to - 18. A mere 18 points. That leaves no room - and those extra points each week? If I used them, I didn't lose - only if every day I stuck to 18 points. It just wasn't enough food and I could never keep it up for the long haul.

Around the time I was getting serious and searching I saw a book at the grocery store. I was always picking up anything that looked like a cookbook with healthy recipes. And this book piqued my interest - Clean Eating. But whoa, what was she saying? No processed food, no chemicals? Yeah right. Everything's got stuff in it. That sounded like a silly, fanatical idea.

Fast forward about 3 years. Here is Liz - posting her amazing transformation and guess what she was talking about? Yup, we all know the answer - clean eating. I'd been getting more interested in the whole buy local, use farmer's market, etc trend and this whole idea suddenly made complete and total sense. 5 meals a day? I'm sure not going to feel hungry! All fresh? I LOVE fresh veggies and fruits. And I already typically picked up whole grain breads and tortillas, why not everything else?

So, here I am. I'm making it work. I'm finding what does indeed work for me and what doesn't. And bonus - in the last 3-4 weeks of clean eating? I've lost 4 pounds. Yeah, now that's good motivation. What's yours?