The Simple Dish

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I don’t always use recipes to create my healthy meals. Sometimes it’s so much easier to put together the foods I enjoy into a dish. Sometimes I have eaten out and really liked that meal. One of my all time favorites is the Tequila Lime Chicken from Applebees. We would sub out the rice for broccoli and ask for no chips on top. This meal also became a staple to make at home. There is no recipe. In general we would grill up a chicken breast then  melt cheddar cheese on top. We would create a pico de gallo with tomatoes, onions and cilantro and a squeeze of lime and a mixture of salsa & sour cream for the sauce.  On top of the grilled chicken melt the cheese, top with the salsa mix and scoop on the pico. The side was of course steamed broccoli. It’s so simple and easy and usually pretty inexpensive.

Now since I had quite a lot of the cilantro left over from this meal, I was trying to come up with another dish that would use that herb. I decided on shrimp tacos. At Meijer salad shrimp were $4.99. I cooked those up in some butter and garlic. I splurged with 2 corn shells. I cooked the shells on a skillet, melted some cheese on top of that, scooped out the shrimp then I added pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa, and a squeeze of lime. These were so good we made them again tonight for dinner. This time I used romaine lettuce shells instead of the corn shells, saving about 12 carbohydrates. It was still delicious.

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It doesn’t always take an extravagant meal to eat healthy. Pick out the foods you like, sub out the no-no foods with healthier choices and enjoy!

 

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Great Start

On Monday I officially went back to consciously watching what I eat. I had been disappointed that by throwing all caution away I gained 8 pounds from Christmas day to January 4. I didn’t even think that was possible! I kept thinking when I wake up one of these days I’ll have lost 6 pounds in water weight and be much closer to my goal. That didn’t happen though. But after watching what I ate and even adding in some exercise, including a 40 minute kettle bell work out I have already lost 2.8 pounds in 4 days. I feel really good! Thankfully I had no cravings and it was really easy to get back to healthy eating again. I think my body was just really done with junk food.

Firstly, I want to go back to that first dinner I made on Monday, which was all really delicious. You can find the recipe here. One of the parts to it was cauliflower rice. I have been wanting to work with cauliflower for a while but haven’t yet. For this meal I had to put pieces of it into a food processor to finely chop it up. This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. You can also shred it on a grater. Once it was all pieced out, I then saute it in a pan with some olive oil and salt until it softened and turned brown. Then I added fresh lime juice and cilantro. This was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. I was trying to cook the chicken while eating large spoonfuls of the cauliflower. The kids didn’t like it but I LOVED IT!

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My first suggestion about eating healthy is don’t be afraid to try something new. This entire recipe took longer than I thought it would but we ended up having a chicken that my son would finally eat and a new side dish that is phenomenal.

Next I want to mention a few of my tricks.

  1. Drink lots of water. I also really like to add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon to my water. This makes me feel like I’m drinking something fancy and it gives me a boost of vitamins.
  2. Figure out your tricky foods and see if there’s something to sub in instead. Like my family loves chips and salsa but chips are not allowed right now. I use celery sticks to eat these snack foods. They are also really great for guacamole.
  3. I think one thing I do that most don’t is I don’t swap in fake foods. Many times I hear folks eat disguised treat foods and say things like, “it’s low fat”, “it’s low carbs”, when in fact it’s just really loaded up with fake stuff. Read the labels, if most of the ingredients aren’t whole foods, I tend to not eat it.
  4. I eat eggs. I eat a lot of eggs. It’s sort of my staple food. There’s a report from the Department of Health and Human Services that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans will not include a caution about cholesterol.  This is pretty good news since I eat avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs and butter.
  5. This year, I will be adding in exercise. I didn’t do that last time and still lost 18 pounds. I’m excited to see how this will effect my over all health. As a photographer I really need to be able to stand for long periods, as well as squat often, run, lay down, maybe even climb a tree.
  6. Don’t think you need to eat regular foods. Sometimes I like a spinach salad for breakfast. Yesterday I was thinking, well, what food do I think of as a fun food and guacamole came to mind. So I decided to incorporate that into my breakfast.

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Finally one of my hardest things is just keeping the food I don’t want to eat, out of the house completely. I know how hard that is though! I have twin 10 year olds and they love snacks. But I think it’s good practice to have them try some of these new foods and eat healthier. They may not like them all but it’s worth a try!

Feeling Good In My Skin

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Ten years ago I gave birth to twins. Despite putting on the minimum suggested weight I still gained 50 pounds with this pregnancy. I was also almost 36 years old.  For the next 10 years I would attempt to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. As I aged into my 40s I became convinced I would never go back to my “normal” size and that I should become comfortable with this “new” size. I found hope in the idea that I maintained this weight very well. That’s good, right? Then two winters ago I noticed my weight creeping up. I thought, like I’ve done in the past, I’d reduce my carbs and sugars and any weight gain would go away. This time it didn’t. As I reached weight amounts I had never been to before, even during my twin pregnancy, I began to panic. I became frustrated. I tried all my old tactics and nothing worked! I am mostly a healthy eater. I don’t drink pop, I gave up beer 5 years ago when I found wheat created unwanted health problems, I eat vegetables (a lot), I rarely over eat because I hate that feeling. I like carbohydrates though and I like a sugary treat every once in a while. I’ve tried to maintain a very low carbohydrate diet when I can. It seems that my issue is that my family really likes their carbohydrates too. So when I found I was doing well for a couple of days, they would come in and request cookies, or ice-cream or something of that nature and I wasn’t strong enough to let them indulge and not partake. I also hated the idea of me not participating in a family fun food activity. I never wanted to be the mom who wouldn’t eat ice cream with their kids. I felt trapped.

Last year my husband decided that he had had enough with the extra weight himself. He’d also gained extra weight during the twins’ pregnancy and wanted to really work to lose about 30 pounds. As we rounded the new year he and I together began to make better choices. We cut out all the starchy carbohydrates, all sugar, all white foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, flour, sugar).  We added back in breakfast meats, which we had stopped eating the year before to try to lose a few pounds. And he immediately started losing weight. It took me 3 months and then I also started losing weight. Once I got all the tricky foods out of my system and out of the house, I also lost weight. After being on the strictest diet I had ever been on for 6 months I had lost 18 pounds and was well on my way. My husband had also lost 20 pounds. Then summer hit. I think we both felt pretty good about our weight loss and decided to take a break.

We didn’t add in terrible foods. It was more like fruit, a bun here and there, some lemonade. By Halloween I had gained back 4 pounds and my husband had gained back 6. Not too bad. So we decided we’d just enjoy ourselves for the rest of the year and then January 4, 2016 we’d start all over again. We indulged in cookies, pies, cocoas, candy, buns, desserts and pretty much anything we wanted. It wasn’t in huge quantities but it was consistent. And it did make a huge difference. By January 4, 2016 I had gained back 12 of my 18 pounds and my fat percent was right back where it was a year ago. I had almost undone all the work I had done the year before. I was (am) very disappointed. I’m not sure it was worth it. I know I went through some hardships like my grandma passing away and eating comfort foods just felt right. So maybe it was worth it. Honestly, I’m not sure it matters. It is what it is, as people say.

The good news is I’m not discouraged. In fact, I am really excited to start all over again. This time I will know exactly what will happen if I push it too far. I will know how to tweak it to make it work for me better. I am also attempting to journal the progress a bit better. So that’s what this is. If you’re interested in my recipes, tips, secrets,  progress or even just being voyeuristic I would love to invite you to follow along.

Today, January 4, 2016 I have  begun keeping the tricky foods out, my carbs down and my head held high. My goal is to lose 20 pounds by May.

In my research for preparing to start I found this wonderful recipe:

Key West Grilled Chicken

which I will be making right now. For lunch I ate at Panera and had the Greek Salad plus chicken. I will be using the apps MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun to keep track of exercise and food consumption. I also have a Fitbit. I found today that when I went to add my Panera salad that the app actually used the GPS on my phone to bring in information about where I was. Once I got past the freakiness about my technology knowing so much, I thought it was pretty cool that these devices all worked together to make this data inputting a lot easier.

I know that weight loss is a hot topic issue lately, but for me, I need to feel healthy. I want to love my skin. I want to be the mom who can run and play and not get winded. I will still be curvy, I will still be soft, but I will be happy for reaching my goal to be a healthier version of myself.

So here we go!

Thanks for your support,

Ariniko

Winter Fitness

IMG_2037I am the first to admit that winter truly means hibernation. All I feel like doing is stay nestled in bed, warm and plump from all the extra comfort foods. It’s the perfect excuse to eat foods high in sugars, flour and more sugar. Vegetables? Well they’re really not in season, right? On some of these cold, snowy days it seems to take all of my energy just to get out of bed, let alone eat right and maybe exercise. This year has been a little bit different. The first difference has been the weather. This has been one of the wintery winters I’ve ever seen. There has been continuous snow on the ground since the end of November. That never happens. This makes certain activities possible every day this winter.

ariniko_DCP_0276My favorite is cross country skiing. I tried it a very long time ago with my younger children. We went to Hawk Island and they would let you rent skis. I don’t recall it being very expensive. Unfortunately, budget cuts have left Hawk Island and Lake Lansing North unable to offer ski rentals any more. This is truly a shame as it is a fantastic way to get families active outside without putting a huge investment into it. Burchfield in Holt and Harris Nature Center in Okemos still offers rentals. You can check out their details here and here. This winter I have been able to ski 5 times. The last three years I wasn’t able to get out at all! My husband found a used pair of skis for $4 and I used my birthday money to buy the boots. This allows me the convenience of going to Lake Lansing North which isn’t charging an entry fee right now. So it’s all free. That makes it really nice. I like to take the “blue” trail. It’s the longest route and takes me about an hour if I don’t stop to take photos on my phone. The distance is just about 4 miles. There are shorter routes too. It’s a great place to get outside and enjoy the peace and quiet.

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Another activity I like is sledding. I was able to take my youngest two out yesterday. Again, we go out for about an hour and that really is a great workout. I chose Gier again, because I just love it there. Some other areas to sled are Granger Meadows, Hawk Island, Wavery Hill, Frandor Hill, Quinten Park, North Meridian Rd Park and Forest Park. I am sure there are more. I saw someone using the snow piles from their driveway to sled on.IMG_2501

Winter walks are also quite nice. There’s a little more need to watch where you walk so you don’t slip and fall, but it’s a great way to be outside and get fresh air. I love the Lansing River Trail for walking.

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As for eating your vegetables, I think you might be on your own for that. There are quite a few choices available even in the winter. I bought zucchini which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in the winter before.  Use this time to try something new, like winter squash. If you cut a spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil then bake meat side down on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour it turns into a great pasta substitute. Once it’s cooled scrape it with a fork and all the meat comes out like spaghetti. We use it all the time with our spaghetti sauce.  Or try a Jicama. It tastes like a radish or turnip.

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Just remember we’re almost done with winter and as much as some will be happy for that, I know I will, the chance to actually enjoy winter will be over. And who knows what it will look like next year!