The Funny Thing About Calorie Tracking…

I’ve been reading this book called Intuitive Eating, which, if you’ve read other “healthy living” blogs, you’ve probably heard of. It’s a great book about why dieting doesn’t work, and has tips and encouragement on listening to your body. It’s about allowing yourself to eat anything you want when you want it, and not restricting your diet.

And that’s such a cool concept… except when it doesn’t work.

I was surprised with all the comments on Wednesday’s post, to hear how many other people track their calories/food. Honestly, it made me feel a little less crazy for being so into this calorie tracking thing. It’s something I’ve done on and off. I’ve tried the whole “intuitive eating” thing… and I love the concept. I think it can work for a lot of people. But some of us just love food a little too much, healthy food or not.

So now that I’m back on the calorie tracking, I can already identify where some not-so-great-habits slipped in. Those multiple glasses of wine while watching tv, the endless handfuls of granola as I walked into the kitchen, the extra snacks I eat at my desk, because they’re there, not because I’m hungry… it all starts to add up.

Maybe one day I’ll fall into that intuitive eating thing. I honestly do think it’s a great idea, and I think it’s fantastic that there are so many people that can actually be trusted around a giant bag of granola, I just have to accept that I’m not one of them. And that’s ok.

As part of the Get Well Challenge, we had a “Goal Setting” session last night, and I outlined a few goals.

Get Well Challenge Goals

  • Get back to my “fighting weight” ;) (I’d rather not talk numbers on here!)
  • Take at least one group fitness class each week (I push myself way more in those classes!)
  • Track my calories/protein/etc. every day and learn what foods give me the most energy

We have weekly weigh-ins at the Advanced Wellness Center, so that should help keep me motivated! I plan on using the Livestrong/Daily Plate App to track my calories. I’ve played around with SparkPeople and MyFitnessPal (which I know a lot of you love!) but for some reason, I always end up going back to The Daily Plate!

Phew. Now enough of that heavy stuff. What are some of the calories I’ve been counting loving?

These pickles that I picked up at the Carytown Farmer’s Market on Sunday. Not only were the guys selling them super nice, these pickles are freaking amazing. Maybe as good as the ones I had from the Magna Carta Food Truck. Maybe.

Oh yeah and this pizza was amazing. Be proud that I stopped myself after one slice.

Flames 231 deserves a whole restaurant review. But I’ll save that for another time…

What are some of your goals, fitness or otherwise?

Food Journaling- The Details

Fair warning: This might be an annoying detailed post. On Wednesdays I normally show you a round up of what I’ve been eating, but today I’m going to get a little more detailed. Why? Because yesterday was my first official day of food journaling.

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I was accepted into the Get Well Challenge sponsored by Ellwood Thompson’s (the local natural food store). I’m really excited. We check-in with a wellness expert every week, meet with a dietician every month, and get tons of help from local fitness centers, including Hot House Yoga, Om On YogaCrossFIT RVA and FIT Richmond.

To kick things off yesterday, I had a body assessment at The Advanced Wellness Center, where I weighed in, and they used these electrode things to measure my body fat percentage. It was pretty cool, and pretty simple! We have a meeting on Thursday to officially set our goals, so I’m thinking of what those should be.

Now back to the food journaling…

Breakfast was eaten in the car, since I had to fast before the body assessment.

1 banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 scoop protein powder, 2 cups raw kale, stevia, 1/2 tbsp raw cacao coconut butter.

~300 calories, 15g protein

Lunch was my current favorite salad:

Romaine, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, chickpeas, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

I’d estimate this to be about 350 calories (mostly from the chickpeas and cheese) and 12g protein.

Snack

Apple & low fat string cheese - 100 calories, 7g protein

Dinner

Lindsay and I were going to the Content Strategy Meet Up in the West End, which meant dinner had to be on the go. We decided to meet at Moe’s which is the kind of place that can be healthy, or a total disaster. I tried to go healthy!

We don’t need to talk about the fact that Chipotle is way better than Moe’s, do we? I didn’t think so. But still, this wasn’t bad. I got a “naked” burrito, and used the nutritional calculator they provide online to check the stats before I went.

450 calories, 15g protein (and a whopping 16g of fiber!)

Since I ate an relatively early dinner, I knew I’d want a little snack when I got home. I had a small bowl of plain greek yogurt, with some blueberries and a bit of granola.


That came in at 160 calories and 15g of protein.

We’re also tracking our workouts, which for me was a quick 30 minutes on the Stairclimber thing at the gym.

Total: 1,300 calories, 66g protein. This is less than I normally eat. I think just being aware of what I was taking in made me resist my normal snacking habits. I’ll also have to add in some extra calories on days that I’m running!

Disclaimer: Everyone’s body has different needs and requirements. What my body needs is different from what your body needs. I’m no medical expert, so don’t go crazy thinking you should be eating more or less or the exact same!

Have you ever used a food journal?

A New Challenge + Fall Shortcuts

I love challenges. I’ve been working on my half marathon training, and it’s been fun literally running towards a goal. I knocked out 7 miles over the weekend, which is the farthest I’ve ever gone! My Brooks shoes seem to be working out really well, because my shin pain is basically gone. (Thank you to the sales staff at Roadrunner in Carytown for helping me pick those out!)

All this fun around challenges makes me even more excited to tell you about this new opportunity! I was selected to participate in the “Get Well Challenge” sponsored by Ellwood Thompson.

We have the kick off meeting (and a yoga class!) tonight, so I can’t wait to tell you more about it. I promise I’ll be passing along some healthy tips and tricks that I learn along the way.

Anyways, since it’s Monday, and everything seems harder on Monday, I’m going to share a fall short cut with you, because I’m super nice.

Ready for this?

You can instantly transform your everyday desserts into festival fall treats, with this one simple trick…

Pumpkin.

Don’t believe me? Check out these cupcakes that my roommate and I made last night:

[Festive] Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (prepared as directed)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 can prepared frosting (about 1 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • sprinkle of nutmeg (optional)

Yep, it’s your traditional cupcakes… pumped up with pumpkin. You just prepare the cake mix as directed, but add in cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Then take your standard frosting, and add a little pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice into the frosting and voila. You’re ready for a fall potluck.

As recipe suggestions are flooded with pumpkin, let me tell you, just take your favorite recipe, and add some pumpkin pie spice.

What’s your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

Kale Addict

Oh my gosh you guys. I have some exciting news.

And by news I mean recipe. And by exciting I mean easy.

Ok so I’m mostly just proud that I’m eating kale with something other than that tahini dressing. (Yes, I’ve eaten that pretty much every day, for the last month. ) I think I’m actually addicted to kale. It was starting to get awkward. This poor leafy green has so much more potential. I clearly needed to try something new.

Luckily, when I was swinging by my local Trader Joe’s, I came across this new bag in the frozen aisle- actually, by the sample stand. (Don’t worry, if you don’t have a TJ’s you could still make this, it would just be a little more work.)

Pumped Up Kale Salad

  • 2 cups raw kale
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup multigrain blend with veggies* (see note for non-TJ’s substitutions)
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp shredded romano cheese (optional)

I sautéed the kale in the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic until just wilted (don’t cook it too much, you still want it a bit crunchy) and then I put that aside in a large salad bowl. In the same pan, I lightly warmed the multigrain mix. I sprinkled it with a little salt as well, but that’s up to you. Then I just tossed all that on top of the kale. It was delicious just like that, but later on I added a little Romano cheese, and that was also quite delicious. You could eat this hot or cold. I ate part of it right away while it was warm, and then I put it in the fridge and finished it a few hours later cold. Both delicious.

Note: If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near by, don’t fear. You can do this, you’ll just have to make your own mix. It’s really just a blend of rice, barley, corn, peas, etc. You could still use a bag of frozen veggies + rice.

Dinners don’t get much easier than that. Especially since it’s good warm or cold! I made enough to pack up for lunch tomorrow, as well.

As for the half marathon training, I have a 7 mile run on the plan for today! This will officially be the farthest I’ve ever run! Wish me luck :)

What’s your favorite Trader Joe’s product? (If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near by, what do you wish you could try?)

Trading “Healthy” Foods

The other day, I was thinking about how I ate in college, and how different it is from what I eat now. I was very “healthy” in college… meaning I lived off of 100 calorie pack snacks, and low fat Pasta-Roni. From a calorie counting perspective, I was probably doing “better” than I am now. I never ate nuts (too many calories) I avoided anything that didn’t have a  nutritional label (how would I be able to tell how many calories were in it?) and I lived off of “light” products (lets replace real food with a bunch of chemicals and try to achieve the same taste!)

With a new season, comes new habits… so let’s take a look at college vs. now.

I’ve come a long way. And while I still keep things like calories in mind, they’re not what drives my eating habits anymore.

Breakfast

In college, I would have a container of Carbmaster yogurt, with blueberries, and Fiber One cereal. Ok, not that bad, but after comparing the ingredients of the “Carbmaster” yogurt with Chobani… it’s no contest. I don’t need to be filling my breakfast with aspartame. I still love a bowl of yogurt with blueberries, but now I look for plain greek yogurt, and I top it with wholesome granola, rather than “diet” cereals.

Lunch & Snacks

More often than not, I packed a mini whole wheat bagel (ok, not so bad) topped with Better’n Peanut Butter. Oh my gosh I can’t believe I used to eat that stuff! If I try it now, it tastes like plastic.
And of course, I’d wash it all down with a diet coke.

Now I try to pack leftovers from dinner, or I get a salad from the salad bar at work. And no more low-fat-ranch dressing. I literally crave the taste of balsamic vinegar!

Peanut butter isn’t scary. Just because it has a lot of calories doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place in your diet. And real cookies are so much more satisfying than those little wafers.

Lunches like this are just as easy to make, but are packed with nutrients. Forget those low-calorie-excuses for dressing. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar + olive oil and you’ve got a simple, tasty dressing.

Dinner

Sometimes my dinners were actually pretty close to what I eat now. Alexa and I often lived off of chickpeas and black beans, (yay for cheap food!) but I also did eat entirely too much Pastaroni. I have no idea why I loved that stuff so much. I’m sure I’d still enjoy it if I tried it today.

I’ve since moved on to bigger and better things. Such as this smoked gouda panini from Ipanema Cafe.

Holy yum. So what if I don’t know the exact nutritional info for this? It was so tasty and filling, I only needed half, and I packed the other half for lunch. Real foods are just so much more satisfying.

I still eat lots of fruits and vegetables, because I’ve always loved those. But I’ve made an effort to eat what I’m really craving, rather than substituting it with some chemical-artificial-substitute. My tummy, and my tastebuds are both happier that way.

What do you think about “diet” foods?

Mark’s [5-ingredient] Guacamole

First of all, meet my brother:

Don’t let his face fool you… he loves me.

I wouldn’t say he’s a health food advocate (ok, not really at all. Although his wife does keep him in line.) but when our family got together, he announced he’d be making his “world famous guacamole” for us. Obviously, I was excited because 1. I love guacamole and 2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my brother make anything but popcorn and macaroni and cheese.

He picked out his ingredients, and started chopping things up in the kitchen.

It was only a few moments after he put the bowl on the table, when we all went crazy for it. It’s some seriously delicious stuff, and it’s also simple enough to be added to the “5-ingredients or less” recipe list!

Mark’s World Famous Guacamole

  • 4 avocados
  • 1/2 purple onion
  • 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno
  • salt

He scooped out the flesh of the guacamole, and mashed it all up. Then he diced the onion and the jalapeno. For our family, he only added half the jalapeno, but on his own, I’m sure he throws it all in. (My brother and I share a love of hot sauce.) Then he just squeezed in the juice from the lime, and added salt to taste. So easy, but so delicious.

 

This recipe is so simple, but so delicious. I have no idea why people think guacamole has to be complicated. I’ll definitely be recreating this at home soon.

And now, I’m heading out for a run with Brittany! I’m more excised than usual, since it’s finally cool enough for me to wear my new Lululemon running capris :)

It feels good to be starting the week off with a run! (Even though morning runs generally only happen if I have someone holding me accountable…)

Are you a guacamole lover like me, or do you prefer salsa?

Exploring Boston

Hello from Boston! (Or more specifically, Spencer, Massachusetts)

I spent all day Thursday exploring the city with my parents.

 

We walked around the city, toured the Statehouse, and, oh yeah, apparently Boston has a baseball team that everyone loves ;)

 

Now I’ve gotta keep this short, because my dad has a mug of coffee waiting for me out here…

 

 

I hope you’re all having a great week!

Pre-vacation Eats & Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Ah, the last few days before a vacation. Desperately trying to use up all the produce, avoid the grocery store, and eat relatively clean, knowing that vacation will probably include plenty of indulgences…

I’m leaving for Boston this afternoon, so I tried not to fill up my fridge this week. I just bought the essentials (bananas, almond milk, kale, and Chobani) and I’ve been eating those things in a pretty solid rotation for the past few days. I know it’s pretty boring, but I like to eat my favorites until I’m sick of them, and it means I won’t come back to a bunch of spoiled groceries.

To avoid absolutely boring you with a recap of the same old thing, here’s a quick snap shot of the things that haven’t changed:

Breakfast- I don’t know if I’ll stop craving these once the weather gets cold, but for now, I’m sticking with these green smoothies.

Lunch- I literally can’t get enough kale these days. Tossed with a little quinoa for extra protein. So good!

Dinner- I was craving Chobani + Protein Powder + Blueberries + Love Grown Granola, so that’s exactly what I had for dinner.

Snacking- I made another batch of this Samoa Granola and I forgot how addicting it is…(Note: it’s much easier to eat after the chocolate sets up a bit ;) ) I also had a few handfuls of Wholesome Goodness Yukon Mix while Lindsay and I sat on the porch sipping wine.

Despite my rotation of old favorites, I did whip up a new kind of nut butter. Not because I didn’t already have four jars of various nut butters in the pantry, just because I hadn’t made some in awhile, and it’s fun! I had been craving honey roasted peanuts for some reason, which were a childhood favorite of mine, so that was my inspiration for this concoction!

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional but I liked the subtle flavor)

If you have a Vitamix, this will only take about 5 minutes. If you’re using a regular food processor, it can take up to 15 minutes, but it should still work. Just combine everything in the blender or processor, and let it run on high. You’ll probably need to scrape the sides every 2-3 minutes. If it feels really try, you can add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil, but give it time. You don’t want to add too much oil, or your end product will be too wet. If you want crunchy peanut butter, reserve 1/3 cup of the peanuts, and add them in the last minute or two of blending.
Nothing like fresh peanut butter to inspire some snacking…

My favorite way to enjoy it is simply with an apple or a banana. I also usually have a scoop of PB along side my morning smoothie. The added protein + fat helps keep me full longer. Then again, the easiest way to enjoy it, is right out of the jar ;)

Do you try to use up all your groceries before a trip?

New Kicks

I’m happy to report that I’m taking this running thing pretty seriously.

No, I’m not going to bed early, I’m not waking up early for training runs, I’m not skipping out on parties in order to rest up. But Friday, I bought a pair of running shoes, even though they didn’t come in neon colors.

Ok, a little part of me died inside, when the best running shoes I tried were not the cutest. I swear I run faster in purple. But I decided if I really wanted to do this training-thing, I’d have to suck it up and go with it.

So I settled on these Brooks running shoes. I wanted something with more support than my Nike Frees (which I’ll still use for my living room circuit workouts) and after lots of awkward running around Roadrunner, having the sales people watch my run, the Brooks were the clear winner. I’ve been having a little bit of pain in my shins, and I wanted something that would prevent that.

I knocked out a 5 mile run on Friday after work, and I didn’t have any pain at all. So far so good!

I’ve been loving some new-to-me songs recently. Here’s what’s been blasting in my earbuds:

I’ve already blogged about how much I love Spotify, but it’s seriously transformed my workouts, since I always have a fresh playlist. (And yes, KEEP GOING is the title of this playlist. Trust me, it works.)

What’s your current favorite workout song?

[Healthy] Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

This might be one of my favorite new creations. I wish I’d thought of this at the beginning of summer. (Maybe then I wouldn’t have been called out by Foursquare for going to Sweet Frog 3 times in one week.) Oops.

I had some cream cheese left in my fridge from making these truffles, and I needed something to do with it. I could have made more Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries, but I was in the mood for a frozen treat.

So a little experimentation, a few failed attempts, and I finally created my new favorite frozen treat.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Serves 2

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup almond or soymilk (or regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 6-8 drops vanilla stevia (or sweetener of choice)
  • Optional: pinch of xanthan gum for thickening

Ready for this? The instructions are laughable. Throw everything into a blender, and pulse until combined. Then you can either eat it right away, or for a more “ice cream” like treat, put it in the freezer for a few hours until it firms up a little more.

Can we talk about how a serving of this stuff only has 80 calories? I mean, you could eat the whole recipe in one sitting, and still be eating less calories and fat than just a mere 1/2 cup of “premium” ice cream. And who eats just half a cup? I really don’t know who those servings are for. For the full nutritional info per serving, click here.

I think next time… I’ll try it with blueberries…

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?