Trying Something New

Well, as much as I was ENJOYING the Dine N Ditch meal plan service, they unfortunately closed up shop just a few weeks in. Not a permanent close (I hope), but they needed to relocate their kitchen, hire new staff, and take a step back from the service for a few weeks to restructure the entire business model.

I was doing exceptionally well on the meal plans, dropping almost 10 lbs in my first four weeks, but after the deliveries ended and I was left to my own devices …well, you can imagine what happened.

Today’s weight: back up to 141.2.

Yikes. It’s hard to believe that just two years ago I hit my all-time low of 123.4, and now I can barely get (and stay) in the 130s anymore.

I know it has been a combination of factors: stress, overeating, and, shockingly, overexercising.

For those of you who have followed the blog a long time, you know I’m a cardio-junkie and, as my weight started to slowly climb at the beginning of 2015, I started to seriously step up my cardio, hitting more than 3 or 4 hours on some days.

Well, as I’ve learned, you not only can’t out-exercise a bad diet (or, in my case, a healthy diet, but in MASS quantities), over-exercising can actually sabotage weight loss by making your body freak out and think you’re fighting for your life on a daily basis. Hence my weight creeping up and up, even when my diet was in check. Yeaaaaaah, that fucking sucks, if you don’t mind me being frank. Ugh.

So, with less than 5 weeks until my 32nd birthday, I am trying to switch things up and break out of my rut.

For the next 34 (well, basically 33, since it’s 11:35 pm EST as I write this) days, I am going to drastically reduce my cardio (think 10-30 minutes per day, versus my usual 90+) and look to integrate substantially more strength training, yoga, and stretching. My body has been in a perpetual state of stress for over a year as I pummeled it with intense bouts of cardio, so now I’m going to try to give those slow-twitch muscles a bit of a break and focus on building lean muscle mass.

In addition, I’m attempting to modify my diet slightly, increasing my fat in take and leaning more toward a Ketogenic plan. Not full Keto – which involves like 70% of your calories from fat – but definitely hoping that incorporating more healthy fats, like avocado and coconut oil, will help with satiety and appetite control.

Yesterday was a rough start, only because I have absolutely no will power when it comes to nuts, so my “single handful” of almonds before bed turned into half of a can, but today’s been better:

Calories: 1,611
Carbs (total, not net): 72g (about 17% of my daily calories)
Protein: 136g (about 33% of my daily calories)
Fat: 93g (about 50% of my daily calories)

I prepped all of my food for the next two days (salmon and green beans, chicken and broccoli, shrimp and sauteed cauliflower, etc), so hoping that having quick, easy to grab meals will help me stay on track. I’m aiming for 1,350 calories per day, but happy as long as I stay under 1,700, as I am exercising pretty consistently.

Fingers crossed I can reset my system and get back into the 130s before I hit 32. I feel like it’s only getting harder with age, so I need to really get control of my weight now before it becomes an impossibility, you know?

Any advice, suggestions, or feedback is always welcome.

Bon appetite, my friends!

~ Tori

P.S. The photo is totally my dinner tomorrow night: shrimp sauteed with basil, garlic, coconut oil over a bed of chopped cauliflower and orange pepper. Much noms. Many yums. So delicious.

Meal Delivery, Week One

On Sunday, I began my quest to regain control of my eating disorder (and return to a healthy body image and weight) by utilizing a meal delivery service.

I selected Dine N Ditch, a locally-based company that caters to athletes and busy, working-adults who care about clean eating and overall wellness.

I signed up for the 6oz meal plan, which consists of five meals per day, six days per week (30 total), with one day scheduled for “normal eating.”

Dine N Ditch delivers every Saturday morning (between 9am and 12pm) and Wednesday afternoon (free of charge), right to your house.

One of my main issues with meal-planning is the repetition, but I have to admit right off the bat that this will not be an issue with Dine & Ditch. Every three days I’m provided with a totally different menu and never have to repeat the same meal more than three times in three days.

For example, this was my menu for Sunday-Tuesday:

  • Crustless Egg Quiches (mini-muffins) with turkey sausage and herbs.
  • Grilled Mexican Chicken with carrots and fresh pico de gallo.
  • Roasted chicken with homemade pesto and sauteed zucchini.
  • Baked cod with cream sauce and sauteed green beans.
  • Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots with mushroom gravy.

Every dish is gluten-free and they’re a pork free (and shellfish free) kitchen! As someone with a pork allergy, this is a big deal to me. I never have to worry about cross-contamination with Dine N Ditch, which is a huge worry off of my plate.

And did I mention the food is incredible?

Not too shabby!

Each meal is between 250-350 calories, has 25-35g protein, and is under 25g carbs (maximum).

But here’s the real kicker: the meals are so filling and satisfying, I haven’t been able to eat all five in a day! In fact, I’ve managed to save one meal each day since Sunday, so I actually won’t need to worry about taking a “cheat day,” as I still have three meals leftover that I’ve frozen to use later.

With eating four meals per day (roughly 1000 calories), I’ve given myself a 200 calorie allowance to be human – which I’m using daily with a piece of raw chocolate (under 50 calories) and a spoon or two of almond butter (between 90-180 calories) so I don’t go crazy and binge later.

So, how am I doing so far?

Monday, 4/25 Weight: 143.6

Today (Wednesday, 4/27): 141.0.

Already 2.6 lbs down in two days? Not too shabby.

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Product Review: Quest Chips!

Protein Chips.

Yes, you read that right: protein-loaded potato chips. Not only do they exist, they’re also ridiculously delicious.

As you probably know if you’ve followed this blog for a while, I’m a big fan of Quest Nutrition. They sell flavored protein powders (the caramel is to die for), protein bars, and, like a gift from Heaven, protein-infused potato chips and candy.

If you’re like me, you’re probably VERY skeptical about the idea of a protein-packed salty snack, aren’t you? Lord knows I was. But, trusting in the delicious quality of the protein bars I’ve had in the past, I decided to order a couple packages of Quest Protein Chips on Amazon.com.

I ordered the BBQ flavor and the Sour Cream and Onion Flavors:

bbq sco

Needless to say, Quest delivered on their promise.

While the crunch isn’t the same as your favorite, high-fat kettle-cooked variety, these chips definitely deliver the potato-chip like texture you’re craving. I’d compare them to Pringles – thin and airy – but flavor-loaded.

When I read the ingredients (and saw the Whey protein), I was worried these chips would have a chalky or awkward aftertaste, but I am pleased to report they were perfect. The seasoning blend was not too salty, but still packed a punch. My husband preferred the BBQ (he said it tasted like a spice-rub from his favorite restaurant), whereas I was absolutely hooked on the Sour Cream and Onion.

They have a few other flavor options (Sea Salt, Salt & Vinegar, and Cheddar & Sour Cream) and I can’t wait to try them and see how they compare.

As a note: the chips are very light, so I would *not* recommend them for dips unless the dips are very soft. I tried dunking the Sour Cream & Onion chips into some Greek yogurt dip and they cracked pretty easily, so I’d suggest a different alternative if you’re trying to recreate your long lost nachos.

All in all, I’d strongly suggest stocking up on these (they’re super cheap on Amazon, especially if you use Subscribe and Save for bulk purchases), especially if you’re a sucker for salty indulgences. There is nothing to feel guilty about with these chips, and you’ll wonder how you survived so long without them!

Bon appetit, my friends!
~ Tori

High Protein, Low Carb Brownies

Alright, folks, I’m on day three of my low-carb, high intensity workout regimen and, amazingly, I haven’t caved and scarfed down my stockpile of Cadbury Creme eggs …yet.

I have, though, suffered from some pretty intense sweets cravings, which has led me on an internet search to find something sweet that won’t break the carb bank.

I found a few low carb recipes, but nothing really blew me over and most of them were RIDICULOUSLY high in fat and calories (basically pure-butter blocks!), so …I decided to improvise and make my own!

Tori’s High-Protein, Low-Carb (grain-free/gluten-free) Brownies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Splenda (it is low carb, after all)
  • 4 oz of unsweetened, pure dark chocolate (melted)
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter or ghee
  • 2 full scoops of your favorite low carb Chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of egg whites (or egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free chocolate syrup (aka, nectar of the gods)
  • 1/2 cup Walden Farms brand sugar free caramel syrup (tastes like melted dulce de leche ice cream!)
  • 1 cup of fat free cream cheese, softened (but NOT melted!)
  • 1 dash chili powder
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray (a godsend!)

Directions:

I’m the first to admit that I’m not much of a baker, so I definitely am not one to “sieve” this, or “whisk,” that, and –by some miracle of the pastry heavens– this recipe came out perfectly by just combining ALL of the ingredients in one giant bowl and beating it into a creamy oblivion.

Hint: the harder and longer you whip, the fluffier the brownies will be.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray your pan (use a brownie dish for THICK, moist brownies, or a COOKIE SHEET for thin, crispier brownies – my preference) well to ensure nothing sticks.

Pour in well-beaten batter and gently rock pan to get the better evenly spread out.

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Tiny little cream cheese lumps survived the beating, but they didn’t impact the flavor or texture at all!

If using a smaller pan, bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 MINUTES. For a cookie sheet or larger pan, bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes. I baked mine for about 18 minutes in a cookie sheet and thought they turned out a little well done, but still SUPER delicious.

And, seriously, don't these look perfect?! Hard to believe they're completely flourless.

And, seriously, don’t these look perfect?! Hard to believe they’re completely flourless.

I could barely wait for them to cool, and managed to cut this tray into TWENTY FOUR giant servings (think 2×2″ brownies!).

Calorie/Nutrient Content for one brownie (assuming 24 servings in total):

  • 81 Calories
  • 5.3g fat
  • 2.2g carbs
  • 4.6g protein

I’m going to keep playing with the recipe to see if I can boost up the protein a bit more (maybe Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese? more protein powder?) and reduce the fat a tiny bit, but only 2.2g carbs for a solid 5 bites of brownie is a win-win in my book!

On that note… bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Best Paleo Shake, EVER!

In an effort to eat clean (i.e. as much natural and fresh fruit/veggies as I can) as well as stick to a mostly Paleo lifestyle, I’ve been making myself a fresh Paleo protein shake for breakfast every morning.

I’ve become such an ADDICT to this particular flavor concoction, I just had to share it with my fellow yo-yo dieters. 🙂

Tori’s Fruity Paleo Protein Shake:

  • 1 scoop Paleo Protein Powder (pictured below). I prefer using a MIX of both the Vanilla Almond and Triple Chocolate flavors, but you can do a solid scoop of either flavor if you don’t have both options!
  • 2 cups raw spinach. (I promise, you won’t taste it once blended!)
  • 1.5 cups of mixed frozen fruit. (I use a blend of mango, strawberries, pineapple, and peaches, but you can use a berry blend or bananas, too!)
  • 2 cups unsweetened cashew milk.
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (optional, but it’s great for digestion).
  • 1 tbsp bee pollen granules (great for boosting immunity and energy).
  • 1 cup of ice (to make it both large and extra thick).

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I start by putting the spinach into the blender first. This ensures it’s chopped VERY well, and guarantees there’s no green chunks floating in my smoothie.

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Next, I layer on the fresh fruit. Again, I use a pre-mixed bag of peaches, mango, pineapple, and strawberries, but you can use any mixed blend you prefer. I really like blueberries and strawberries when I use just the Triple Chocolate protein powder.

protein

I add a full scoop of protein powder on top (I blend my Triple Chocolate and Vanilla Almond), then add a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of bee pollen granules. We happen to have a farmer’s market that sells local bee pollen granules (best for combating allergies!), but you can find it at Whole Foods or any health food shop if there isn’t a convenience farmer’s market nearby.

On top of the powders, I add roughly 1 cup of ice (make sure you still have about 2 inches from the top of your blender to ensure proper mixing), and then I pour 1.5-2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk on top. I like Silk’s unsweetened cashew milk, as it’s just 25 calories per cup and has added calcium.

Blend until well mixed, which is about 2 minutes for my crochety old blender.

It tastes so good, I often just toss a straw right into the blender and drink it straight:

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Nom, nom, Paleo goodness!

And, yes, I do drink the entire thing… over 36 ounces and roughly 350 calories! I stay full for HOURS thanks to this baby!

Bon appetit, my friends!

~ Tori

Super Simple Paleo Breakfast Quiche

Tired of Greek yogurt every day, I decided to throw together these super simple crestless quiches for breakfast during the week.

Seriously, these took less than 5 minutes to prep and only 15 minutes to cook. They are endless customizable and store well in the fridge or freezer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A cupcake/muffin pan
  • Cupcake liners (these are optional, but the clean-up is MUCH easier)
  • 12 whole eggs (or 6 whole, 8-10 whites whipped together)
  • Chopped turkey bacon, turkey sausage, or meat of your choice.
  • Assorted chopped veggies (onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc)
  • 1/2 cup low fat cheese (or, if you’re strict Paleo and don’t use dairy, Daiya-brand cheese alternative works!)

Instructions:

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  • While it heats, put the cupcake liners into your cupcake pan.
  • At the bottom of the liner, add in crumbled turkey bacon or a few (small) pieces of turkey sausage. I used Jennie-O Turkey Sausage links and could only fit about 1/2 of a link into each tin.
  • If you’re mixing in veggies, make sure they are THAWED or cooked. These cook too quickly to use anything frozen. I’d recommend no more than 1 tbsp of chopped veggies unless you’re using a BIG muffin tray.
  • If you’re using WHOLE eggs, crack a single egg into each cupcake liner. If you’re using the egg white/whole egg blend, fill the tin to 3/4 full.
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I also added a 1/2 tsp of onion flakes, as well, because that’s my thing).
  • Right before you toss in the oven, sprinkle on a tiny bit of cheese/cheese alternative. I didn’t even use the full 1/2 cup I had set aside, but you can be as generous as you’d like.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. I checked mine a few times, as I was trying to keep my yolk soft and my whites cooked, but you can cook it a little longer (up to 16 minutes) without the egg becoming rubbery. Don’t OVERCOOK them if you plan to store them, as reheating them in the microwave could make them tough if they are already well-done.

 

Here’s what my finished product looked like:

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Using whole eggs and a 1/2 turkey sausage link in each, my crustless quiches were roughly 95 calories each. Not bad! I had two for breakfast this morning and plan to enjoy them over the weekend, as well. I’ll freeze the extras for future enjoyment or a quick and easy snack.

These are great for Paleo dieters, low-carb friends, or anyone that needs a quick, protein-filled breakfast in a hurry.

Bon appetit, my friends!

Tori

Insanely Delicious, Low Fat (and high protein!) Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ever since the Superbowl, I’ve been craving tailgate food with a passion. I’m not a football fan, but I’m a huge fan of the snacks that correlate with America’s favorite past time. Burgers, wings, dips – oh my!

A major favorite has always been the infamous Buffalo Chicken Dip. You know, that crockpot dish with a thick layer of oil and fatty goodness just waiting for you to dunk one (or hundreds) of tortilla chips in it?

Yeahhhh. I’m salivating at the thought.

Desperate to recreate the rich flavor and not consume 2,500 calories on a snack-size portion, I decided to concoct an experiment in the kitchen. Let’s just say it was a BIG success.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 1 lb of chicken breasts. (I used about 1.25 pounds in my batch.)
  • 2 containers of fat free plain Greek yogurt. (I used Chobani, but any brand works.)
  • 2 cups of Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce, Buffalo Flavor. (They make a regular, a mild, and an extra spicy. I opted for the regular in mine and then added more heat post-cooking!)
  • 1 packet of Kraft Ranch seasoning (A huge calorie saver compared to using the dressing!)
  • 1 tub (8 oz) of fat free cream cheese.
  • 1 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • 1 cup of 2% reduced fat Sharp Cheddar (or fat free cheddar, if you REALLY want to cut the fat content down to nothing).

Super Simple Directions:

In your crockpot, add the chicken breasts and 1.5 cups of the hot sauce. It should be just enough to cover the surface of the meat but not drown it. If it’s a little short, add the full 2 cups.

Cook on HIGH for 2 hours. At this point, the chicken should be fork tender and should easily shred with a little stirring. If not, allow to cook another 1/2 hour or so.

Once you’ve shredded the chicken, stir in the remaining ingredients: cream cheese, Greek yogurt, Ranch packet, and cheese. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook another 15-30 minutes, or until all cheese has melted.

Stir well and serve with sliced veggies, baked tortilla chips, or just spoon it right out of the pot!

Based on MY recipe (I used 2% fat cheddar and 1.25 lbs chicken), the entire crockpot was about 1,600 calories and nearly 300 grams of protein. I divided the pot into 8 GENEROUS servings and froze four of them (in gladware) to enjoy the next time the craving strikes. I swear, you CANNOT taste the difference between this version and the full-fat version. If you’re a blue cheese fan, you can sprinkle in a 1/4 cup of blue cheese in lieu of 1/2 cup of the above-mentioned shredded cheese. I’m personally not a huge blue cheese fan (it’s an overpowering flavor), so I opted for sharp cheddar as the base to my flavor.

Test out the recipe and let me know what you think! If you make any cool substitutions (I debated adding sliced jalapenos), tell us about them.

As always – bon appetit, my friends!