Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Perfect for a hot summer day, very simple and the yummy leftover salsa is awesome on fish, nachos... whatever. Add in some chunks of avocado and you're stylin', because frankly, avocado makes everything better.

Marinade for chicken:
Adapted from Weber's Way to Grill
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Whisk that all together in a bowl, put chicken breasts (or thighs, whatever you'd like) in said bowl, toss to coat and let sit in the refrigerator for 30-minutes to an hour. Take out, grill on medium for 5-6 minutes on each side until fully cooked.

Pineapple Salsa:
1/2 a fresh whole pineapple, diced
1/2 a red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a bowl, season to taste, serve over chicken.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Glorious Pizza and Farmers' Market Meal Planning

The most important thing first - pizza. The detox week has ended, I feel wonderful and all I've wanted is pizza. Thanks to LocalGinger.com, we had a $30 coupon (bought for $15) for Oregano's Pizzeria in Newburyport. Above is the Margherita Classico and a glass of yummy Monetepulciano wine. I went simple with the pizza, didn't want to kill the now detoxed stomach too much. My husband had the Quattro Carne, a feast of meat on pizza which looked fabulous. My taste buds are sharper now and they loved that pizza. Fabulous first real meal back among normal eating.

Newburyport Farmers' Market 6/27

Sadly - it's the end of strawberry season. I got my one last pint here from Applecrest Farms. So yummy, so tasty, will go great with the spinach and cucumbers I picked up from Farmer Dave's. Also from Farmer Dave's - blueberries... yum!! It's so refreshing to buy and eat mostly local. I was able to pick up fresh 5-grain bread from the Savory Kitchen for my sandwiches and toast this week. I stopped by Arrowhead Farm's stand to get broccoli and green onions for the week. Heron Pond Farms provided my sugar snap peas, which I'm currently obsessed with (see link to oregano chicken recipe for a great link to a snap peas with fresh mint recipe). Blue Egg Baking Co. provided awesome dessert with my favorite Lemon Ginger Biscotti, and a Hostess-like chocolate cupcake. It's was so fabulous to chat away with all the great vendors.

A quick shout out to Fowles Market on High Street in Newburyport where I picked up my fresh turkey deli meat on the way home - they're amazing as a deli and butcher shop. Their sausages are the best.

So what am I going to make with all of it? I'm not totally sure yet. I know Penne with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe is on my list. I'm dying to bake with the berries somehow. I've already made up an awesome salad with the spinach and cukes I bought, and TOMATOES from the tumbler plant I got from Heron Pond Farms in our backyard. Yay, summer!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Detox DONE!

That, my friends, is the entrance to the park where I finish my walk every day. It's right near our house, the pugs love it, and it's beautiful.

Well, the detox is over. I've learned a lot from the experience. I know a lot of people continue this lifestyle (at least the wheat/soy/dairy exclusion) after the detox; I don't think that's for me. I give them all the credit in the world. I thought about it, because I feel great. However, I love cooking, baking, food so I'll go back to bringing everything back into my diet, but in more of a moderation.

So what are the results of this experiment, you ask? I have a ton of energy, a lot more than before. I've lost 6.5 pounds which is fairly impressive for a week. I've learned I have willpower. I didn't cheat once during the past week. I've learned that moderation really means just that, moderation. I've learned to eat mindfully, and watch the effects of food on my diet. I've also learned that I do love food, all kinds of it, and the beautiful way it fits into our lives. I'm more appreciative of that now.

Today is day 1 post-detox. I continued with my green tea and smoothie in the AM. I like the liquid breakfast and think I'll keep with it. I have to say I was a little disturbed with myself because I was being neurotic about what I ate first that I had been excluding. I don't like being that obsessed over food, it's not healthy to me. Everything in moderation has always been, and will continue to be my motto.

We had a cookout to say goodbye to a huge member of our staff that has to sadly leave us tonight. I had one tortilla chip with salsa, and 2 bites of pesto pasta salad and a chocolate covered strawberry. My stomach is rumbling a bit, but that's the be expected. However, I feel good. Just a couple of bites was perfect... and flavors are stronger now.

It was a wonderful experience. It was amazing, and I feel great. It's unbelievable the impact food has on us that we never even realize. I'd like to do it again, maybe six months from now.

Now it's on to Week 2 of the Mind & Body Challenge. Next week's challenge is at least 7 servings of fruits and veggies a day and more whole-grains. I'm also going to start Couch to 5k (a running plan) to up my cardio a bit. I'm happy and motivated - it's all I can ask for. Pin It

Detox Days 6&7 - The Home Stretch

Do I have a snappy photo to draw you in with? Sorry, not this time folks. My liquid adventure continues.

Day 6 - Mango Smoothie - This isn't bad, although the little bits of kale are kind of gross. I think more mango, omitting the kale, and you might be on to something. Almond milk is one of my discoveries throughout this journey, it's pretty good. Honestly, you can take that coconut water though, it's pretty bizarre. Day 6 also brought something that I very much enjoy, which is quinoa. This recipe is pretty good and I'll take with me from this whole experience. It's tasty, filling and high in protein and low in fat. Not bad for a humble seed.

I didn't exercise on Day 6 as an experiment. It was definitely one gone awry. I felt good, but was sluggish. I craved more than usual. It remains to be seen whether it's because I didn't sleep well, or I didn't exercise; either way, it wasn't good.

Day 7 - Back to the Energy Smoothie from the first liquid day. This might be another recipe I take forward with me. This time I added more peach, less almond butter, less ice and a couple of drops more of agave syrup. All of this equaled a pretty good concoction. I had my leftover quinoa, even better on the second go-around.

I walked today, and did my yoga. I felt super-energized today. I had a great night's sleep (finally) last night, and the exercise pushed me over the edge. It's pretty bizarre how at this point, I really have no cravings. You'd think after 7 days without some of my most favorite foods, I'd crave. At this moment, at the end of Day 7, I really have no cravings. I'm satisfied.

So tomorrow I start transitioning back to three solid meals. Although, I may keep the smoothie for breakfast and slowly re-introduce wheat, dairy, soy and naughty sugar. I feel so good, I think I'm going to be a little neurotic about what I add back into by diet.

My wrap-up and take-aways from this little experiment will come tomorrow. I'm also curious to see if I've shed any weight from this little plan. If I did, great. If not, no biggie. I feel 100-times better than when I started this whole ordeal. Pin It

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Detox Days 4&5 - The liquid days

Really appetizing huh? Truthfully, it's not that bad. That's Whole Living's energy smoothie, a mix of almond butter, peaches and other stuff. So, days 4&5 of this detox plan includes a liquid breakfast and dinner, with a solid lunch. I have to admit, I feel great. I'd kill for bread right now, but I have a lot of energy. Here's a recap:

Day 4 :
Energy Smoothie for breakfast and lunch (12 hours apart or at least near that) and for my solid lunch I had leftover oregano chicken chopped up with leftover sugar snap peas. I snacked on raw almonds, fruit and veggies throughout the day to keep me going. Instead of am coffee, it was green tea in the morning and midday. I did a 30-minute walk and yoga, felt awesome. All day, I had energy, felt clearer. Is it the exercise or the exclusion of certain food groups? No real cravings today.

Day 5:
Didn't sleep well last night, wonder if it's because I had my liquid dinner at 10pm? I'm supposed to keep 12 hours between lunch. I think I just couldn't turn my mind off. So today, Avocado-Pineapple Gazpacho for breakfast and lunch. It sounds bizarre but it's pretty yummy, although I found it doesn't keep well for dinner. Solid lunch was more leftover chicken, this time with grilled zucchini. Another 30-minute walk, and nighttime yoga this time. Cravings were a bit out of control today. I couldn't stop thinking about fresh salsa on chips with cheese. I still had the energy and clarity, however, today. I'm wondering if it's the exercise though. I think I'm going to cut out the walk today and just do yoga and see how I feel. Honestly, I'd be happier to find out it's the exercise giving me more energy rather than the exclusion of some food group. We shall see. Pin It

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Detox Day 3 - Oregano Chicken with Cinnamon and Paprika

What's that you ask? That's our lovely dinner tonight. Detox-approved and it just happens to be one of my favorite meals, score! Since this really is a cooking blog, let me give you the recipe for my last solid dinner for the next 4 days (detox means a solid lunch instead).

Grilled Chicken with Oregano, Cinnamon and Paprika
Source: Bon Appetit June 2000

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Whisk first 7 ingredients to blend in 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Add chicken to dish and turn to coat with marinade. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour, turning occasionally. Spray grill with non stick spray; prepare barbecue (med. high heat). Grill chicken until cooked through, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Notes - I've let it marinate for both an hour and overnight (but in the fridge of course). Both are fantastic. Marinating overnight will give you a tad more flavorful chicken, but you can go either way!

Oh - that lovely side you see in the picture is snap peas with mint. Recipe can be found here:

Snap Peas with Mint

If I wasn't in detox, I'd definitely kick this with some crisp, cold, sauvignon blanc or chardonnay.

So enough salivating. Detox Day 3 went pretty well. Herbal tea for breakfast with apples and almond butter. Lunch was a pre-made quinoa salad from whole foods (every ingredient a-ok for this plan). Dinner, well you saw that above.

I nearly cracked at the local farmers' market this morning. Along with all of the beautiful fresh produce are several local bakeries that make you weep with their products. Did I mention there were cider donuts? Yup, there were. I passed them all by with a pledge I would be back the following weekend and I *will* indulge.

By mid-afternoon I could have killed for pizza, or bread. I believe the exact words I said to my husband were, "I'd cut a b!tch for pizza." He laughed and was horrified all at once. Apparently, I have real issues with avoiding wheat of any variety. I crave bread. I wasn't hungry all day, but the cravings were a tad out of control. It proves to me while I can do this for periods of time - I can't give up my pasta and wine. However, for this week, I will prevail.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

The 28-Day Mind & Body Challenge Day 2 - Weekend Survival

Like my zen image from the beach today? Fabulous, eh? So here we are, day 2, which just happens to be a Saturday. Usually that means drinks and apps, drinks and dinner out, usually eating something not-so-healthy. This detox thing is a lot harder on the weekends, that's for sure.

However, I started my day with a green tea (with a touch of agave nectar) and set out on the plan's fitness test. Here's the deal - step up and down on a step for 3 minutes, sit down, take your pulse. The result for me? Average. The same goes for arm strength (modified push ups) and flexibility. The core strength test? Failed that miserably. Ah well, this is about improving all of that right? I then moved on to a sequence of so-called detox yoga poses which actually felt great. It was my first "downward dog" in quite a while and I certainly missed it.

I started my food for the day with an apple spread with almond butter, and a handful of cherries. Very yummy, satisfying. I snacked on almonds and fruit throughout the day until I reached dinner. We went to a sushi spot we love, and I was faced with a lot I couldn't eat. I settled on a salad (rice vinegar as dressing) and avocado-cucumber rolls made with brown rice. All very yummy, very filling and all detox-approved. Dessert was more cherries and some coconut water (which is kind of strange).

It was a lot harder today, a lot of temptations. I feel a pretty good about the way I persevered through all of them.

One more day of pre-detox then the real stuff. I'm going to kill for pizza by Wednesday I think. Pin It

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 1 Challenge Update - the Shopping Trip

I should take a picture of my overflowing Whole Foods bags, or the receipt that would make you fall over. So I'd like to update my progress here on day 1, mostly for me, but if you're following this little insane journey you might like it too.

So I hit the largest Whole Foods on the East Coast (Dedham, MA for those wondering) to stock up on detox-approved foods. The hardest thing I found (other than the price tags) was finding acceptable things that were both gluten/wheat-free and soy-free. I think I succeeded with a lot of the ingredients for my smoothies and lunches... but I had to pick up something quick for lunch and dinner today (pre-detox ok, so nothing off the exclude list). I picked up an "ancient grain medley" salad and a buckwheat noodle salad. I think the ancient grain medley may have some tofu in it somewhere. So here's the message - cooking for scratch, not so bad to get the stuff for - anything easy and prepared, it's not easy.

Oh, the other message here - it's expensive. I'll go full-disclosure here. It was about $130 for all the stuff I picked up. If you have things like agave syrup and stevia and certain spices around (cardamon is expensive) then you might fare better than I did. I hope some of the more expensive stuff becomes staples in my pantry. That's kind of the goal here. I'm not going to adopt this eating all the time, but I'm looking for honest and good substitutions for some of the not-so-healthy things in my life.

But I'm armed with my unsweetened, organic, iced green tea and vat of whole foods raw almonds (they really are worth every penny), sitting at my desk right now. I'm ready to take this b!tch on, hells yeah. Pin It

The 28-Day Mind & Body Challenge Day 1

So, that's me, with Gabbie the pug, on vacation. I'm happy on vacation, but I've noticed that even on vacation my energy is lacking, where it should be restored. To me, that means my body is revolting. After about 3 vacations in the last few months, it's time to lay the smacketh down upon myself. After getting some great insight from a friend, I've decided to detox. No, not the drink cayenne pepper and maple syrup type detox; but a whole-foods, organic, packed full of fruits and veggies and none of the bad stuff detox.

So I introduce to you Whole Living's 28-day Mind and Body Challenge. It uses real food, incorporates fitness, yoga and meditation. It's right up my alley for what I want. I need to find what's sapping my energy, and this looks like a good deal to figure that out. Hey, if I lose a few pounds along the way, I won't cry either, but that's not the goal here. The goal here is energy, and a kickstart to fueling my body in a much more efficient manner.

So here we come to Day 1 of the plan. I, of course, misread, and should have given up my morning coffee and cheerios and milk this AM. I didn't, so we'll dub that "the last meal" (well that an copious amounts of tatziki and pita last night at work). From this point on, I give up caffeine and alcohol, dairy, wheat, and lots of other fun stuff for at least a week. At that point, I'll slowly re-introduce them. For those that know me, I love food... love to cook... love to eat, so this will be a good challenge for me.

So cheers to me, and seeing how this all goes. I'll be sure to update (though I might be cranky) along the way. Pin It