Monday, June 25, 2012

Beginning Again

My last post was about cheat meals. And how it's ok to have them.

What's not ok is to have a cheat meal, and turn it into a cheat day. Then the next day, have another cheat meal. And then, for the better part of a week, justify having one cheat meal a day, vs. one cheat meal for every 9 healthy meals. That's the kind of week I'm coming off of.

When I fessed up to Alvaro yesterday, his words were simple. "I'm pretty pissed off that you did that". Well, that makes 2 of us. I struggle to figure out how I can go for months eating clean and staying on the right track, then next thing I know the wheels on my wagon are wobbling and threatening to toss me off. Everyone kept telling me through my juice fast that I was so dedicated & determined. I kept saying "no, I swear I'm not!". This is the not dedicated and determined Megan you're seeing right now. Give me an inch, I'll take a mile. Which is why the juice fast was so easy for me. The rules were simple, and strict. No 10% cheat meals.

So, after the better part of a week spent alternating between healthy food and crappy (and by crappy, I mean delicious) food, I find myself at the start of a new week, ready to rededicate myself and set a new intention going forward of mindful eating. I could easily dwell on how disappointed and pissed I am at myself for slipping, but I'm going to focus on the positives. I did eat some healthy meals; I didn't abandon my eating plan entirely. I also did some amazing things this past week, that I would rank up there with the most meaningful actions I've taken in my whole life. So, in the spirit of being "off track", I'm gonna go with the flow and make this a non-food related post.

Back in April I saw a picture of a Siamese kitten shared on my vet's Facebook wall. It was instantaneous love at first sight. He was being fostered by a volunteer with the Animal Adoption League. Sammy has since become my best bud, and always puts a smile on my face. Despite the concern that seeing their frequent posts of homeless animals would tear me apart, I became a fan of the AAL Facebook page. I kept my distance, until a few weeks ago, when the story surfaced of a cat hoarding situation here in my small town. Suddenly nearly 40 cats were displaced and set up in a 1,000 square foot office building as a temporary measure. There were needs for towels, food, cages, but most of all volunteers, to come clean the cages, feed the cats, and give them a bit of loving through a very stressful situation.

For the first time, I thought "maybe I'm strong enough to do this". I don't know why I thought that, being that when I took a stray kitten to the Humane Society a couple months ago I had to sit in my car for a solid 10 minutes to stop bawling my eyes out so I could drive. This is different, and I'm not sure how. My couple days of volunteering at the "cat house" that first week went really well. All the kitties were surprisingly loving and playful for having spent a life in a very unsavory situation. They put smiles on my face and made waking up at 7:30 seem like an ok thing to do. A couple weeks later the call went out to sponsor, or satellite foster, some cats. The regular AAL volunteers were overwhelmed, with 40+ bios to be put on, applications to sift through, and home visits to make.

I volunteered to take 2 kitties under my wing and help find them homes. Sameach and Moonshine were crate-mates, and Sameach specifically caught my eye the first time I went to the house. All of these cats LOOK well adjusted given the environment (some are, some aren't as much). Sameach was the only one that visibly had been affected by his former living environment. The first time I saw him he was missing skin all over his neck and face, and his skin was covered in red, raw, oozing wounds. He looked horrible, and it made me want to cry. It also made me wonder who in the world, seeing all of these other healthy looking kitties, would choose to adopt this guy with the skin problems. And I became very concerned about the kind of home he would have- would they be compassionate enough? Would they understand that he'll probably have to be on a special diet for skin allergies, and be patient enough to give him the care he needs? I felt very strongly about finding Sameach a good, loving home. And Moonshine... he's a giant ham. He's the social butterfly of the house, greeting each cat, and demanding attention and belly rubs. He's an easy cat to love. Seeing them in this cage was no good, and I knew that the best way I could help (since my house is at maximum cat-pacity) (sorry, I HAD to!), was to find them a good home of their own.

I posted a picture of Sameach, Moonshine, and some kittens on my Facebook page. How lucky that one of my friends saw Sameach and it was love at first sight for her, just like it was for me with my Sammy. My dear friend Melinda, and her fiance Shannon, had been wanting to even out the balance in their household of 2 humans, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. I explained Sameach's special needs, and sent pictures of his skin condition to Melinda, worrying that she might want a healthier cat with no issues. Well, she's a crazy pet mom like me. It didn't matter what Sameach looked like, or what kind of special care he needed, she was sure that he was the one that was meant to make their little family complete. I can type this and be completely honest about this fact: the process of Melinda's application coming in, being reviewed and approved by the other volunteers, and taking Sameach to his new home was easily the most rewarding thing I've done in my life. The feeling that I have from knowing I helped a homeless cat (much less one with special needs) find not just any forever home, but one of the best homes I know of, is overwhelming and humbling. And totally, completely, addicting. 


Opening the door to Sameach's crate last night in the big basement room Melinda & Shannon had set aside, I fully expected him to be shy and skiddish and hide. He'd just been dewormed an hour ago, and ridden in a scary car (he was a fantastic passenger!). The opposite happened. A cat I hadn't seen at the cat house emerged- supremely curious, incredibly playful & energetic, and trusting & loving. I'd seen glimpses of these traits in Sameach before, but with only 20 minutes or so of playtime and surrounded by dozens of other cats, it's hard to get a true picture of each cat's personality. He was so overwhelmed by the space and the toys, he couldn't decide if he wanted to explore or play with his toys. This is a cat who's never been the center of attention, never had a family go out and buy a toy just for him. He's never had his own water & food bowl, never had his own bed. He relished being the center of attention, and by the time I left, he was head butting and rubbing on his new parents. Despite being scrawny and scruffy and having skin allergies, his new parents were smitten, too. Within a few hours I received a picture of Sameach sitting on his new mom's lap, cuddling.  I truly look forward to many years of pictures and updates of him enjoying his new life with a really great family.


On Saturday we held an adoption event at a local cat-friendly business to help raise awareness for these "Cat House" kitties. It was a huge success! By the time I arrived, several had already been adopted, and a young single guy and his parents were looking at cats. I heard them mention Moonshine, so I went into full sales-lady mode and gushed about how awesome this cat is. They took him back to a room to play with him, and came out 15 minutes later. Sharon (Sammy's foster mom!) was carrying Moonshine in a carrier, and the young man and his parents followed. She had a big smile on her face and told me that yes, he wanted to give Moonshine a home. I spoke to he & his family for a while- his parents were visiting from Mexico, and he lives in Rock Hill. He grew up with the family cats, and felt like it was time to have a companion of his own. He is a really nice guy, and seemed genuinely excited to give Moonshine a home. After completing the application, they were off to PetsMart to buy Moonshine his first very own litter box, bed, & toys. This afternoon I take Moonshine to his new home, and I can't wait to see how he takes to being the center of attention for the first time too. 

To say this has been a rewarding week would be the understatement of a lifetime. It's easy to get caught up in the sadness of this situation, but the smiles that these guys put on my face makes it well worth it. Seeing them find their new homes, and knowing I had a hand in it, is indescribable. I hope to continue helping in any way I can- I know a few other cats at the house need a sponsor, so once Moonshine is all settled I look forward to getting my new "foster" kitties to help find forever homes.

So, I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about a weeks worth of some bad food decisions. My next blog will include a "cheaty" type recipe, as a send off, but it might be one of the healthiest & most delicious desserts you've had (think local peaches & blackberries!). I have a back-log of recipes (that were definitely healthy!) to share from fabulous meals I made this week- vegan & gluten free pizza, and some raw cherry & chocolate energy bites. Stay tuned for some more fabulous foodage, and I ask my friends to help me stay accountable to my goals and help get me back on the right track! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cheat Days

Cheat Days. Everyone has them. Even the most dedicated, strictest dieters. I've had 2 of them... in a row.

With the 90/10 diet I'm on I stick to the rules 90% of the time. Basically, for every 9 meals I eat following my rules I get a cheat meal. Up until this weekend I'd eaten 31 clean meals and 2 cheat meals. Pretty much perfect, and even better than my allowed ratio. 

Then the weekend happened. I was in an awesome weekend of Restorative Yoga teacher training (read: lazy yoga. No calories were burned this weekend!) which took up 27 hours from Friday through Sunday. Meals Friday and Saturday were on task, and I was very much looking forward to the big cheat meal Sunday night we had planned for a sushi extravaganza at Akahana. Although I'd packed a healthy lunch for training Sunday, we decided to get out of the studio at eat at Krazy Fish (which is krazy awesome). That resulted in a delicious bowl of green curry coconut mussels (and the delicious white bread to soak up the juice), and tacos of fried sea bass and falafel shared with Melanie. Yummy. Delicious. Not playing by my rules.

(Look! It's me! Upside down in a supported, no weight on the c-spine headstand! Oh, how I love you, Restorative Yoga).

Akahana was pretty awesome, as it always is, but honestly I didn't enjoy the sushi as much as I wanted/hoped to. I'm not sure if it was because I'd already had a cheat meal earlier in the day and was starting to feel a bit crappy from it, or because things like white rice just don't appeal to me anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love sushi, and Akahana does it better than almost anyone in Charlotte, but it'll probably be a while until I make a cheat meal out of sushi again! Meanwhile, enjoy this picture of Jeremy throwing up gang signs with the chopsticks while saying "I'm on a boat, y'all!"

After double-cheats on Sunday, that brings us to today. We were lucky enough to be invited to the wedding of one of our student's and his fiance (who we're also lucky enough to consider friends!). They had a sweet ceremony in a park uptown and then we headed to City Tavern for a really amazing lunch. An 8 ounce filet mignon, parmesan risotto, and grilled asparagus. Plus the rosemary focaccia, olive oil & balsamic. Plus the 2 types of 'Smore's wedding cupcakes. Plus the glass of champagne and red wine. Holy. Cheat. Meal. I have no food pics for this blog, so enjoy this one of what I've termed "15-pounds-lighter-skinny-faced-Megan" and Jeremy at The A Team's wedding!

This was my first consumption of beef in over 2 months, I believe. I actually don't remember the last time I had it. I'm interested to see how my digestive system handles it. I can tell you that mood-wise, my body isn't reacting well to 2 solid days of cheat meals. I've been lethargic, grumpy, short of patience, and otherwise a little bit bitchy. It's amazing how my mood really is affected almost immediately by what I choose to eat.

On top of all of this, my planned menu for last week fell to pieces, thanks to my total lack of ability to eat a normal size meal (my portions are so tiny now!) and my crazy schedule. I ended riding it out on leftovers for days. I did, however, make this awesome Vegan Stuffed Portobello Pizza with a Basil Cashew Cheese Sauce. It was YUM. Really, seriously good, and takes about 5 minutes to throw together and another 5-10 to cook. I grilled it rather than broiled, but the 'bello's I used were a bit thin and kind of shrunk down to mush on the grill. It was a messy dish, not picture-worthy, but the taste more than made up for it. I could eat the basil cashew cheese sauce with a spoon (and maybe I did.... don't judge!).

I've been holding steady at between 5-7 pounds gained back since ending the fast. They say gaining about 33% of what you lost is normal, from water weight and holding food in your digestive system, so I'm within normal range. I've got 2 more juice fasts planned before the wedding (in 75 days!) in the months of July & August. I've really been enjoying the running, and the fact that longer distances are getting easier, and I'm not willing to sacrifice the running on the next 2 fasts. So, I'm currently working on how to plan an intelligent, effective juice-based fast with weight loss as the primary goal (rather than detoxification) and continue exercising on it. I'm thinking it might include some carb and protein loaded smoothies on run days and/or some raw food meals here & there. Still working out the details and I'm sure I'll have to tweak as I go to find what works for me! I'll probably start the next one a little earlier than intended since I don't plan to do juice only.

My goal this week is to clean the diet back up, get back on track with the 90/10 (which means sticking to my rules and no cheat meals for another week or two!), and up my running distances and yoga intensity. I hope to have a new menu planned out to share with you in a couple days, but I've still got another portobello pizza prepped in the fridge, tons of salad makings, fresh squash and zucchini's from friend's gardens to grill, and ingredients for avocado & chicken salad wraps. I won't have to grocery shop for a couple more days as I want to eat up what's left in my fridge before filling it up again.

On a final note, the June Salad Challenge is in the final two weeks. I inadvertently missed getting a salad in on Friday and didn't realize till Saturday. Due to that I'm -1 on the challenge which means I need a double salad day to get back on track. It's much needed coming off of these cheat days! I'm not beating myself up about my cheat days... they're needed in more ways than one. It's important to treat myself to food that I love (especially when it's good quality!) to help me stay on track in between cheats. It's also helpful to see how immediately my cheat meals effect me, both physically, mentally, and mood-wise. It's my body telling me that it much prefers the clean, healthy eating it's become accustomed to!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Goodness

Today I started my new week's menu! (I'd planned to start yesterday but I still had plenty of leftovers from the previous week to chow through). At the bottom of this post you can find my menu plan for this week.

Today started with a crust-less kale & quinoa quiche (that's a tongue-twister!). Really it is a frittata, but who am I to argue with the author of the blog I stole the recipe from? This was a super simple recipe with a very short ingredient list that packs a ton of flavor and protein (thanks quinoa and eggs!). What a great way to start out the day with some lasting energy. Plus it makes a ton, so you'll have enough for several breakfasts, or plenty to share with another healthy eater in your house (I don't happen to have another healthy eater in my home, so I'm going to share with my friends. First come first served!)

As you can tell, Bruno and Samson thought they were my friends I intended to share with and jumped all over it. Seriously, my cats show interest in people food from time to time, but are rarely adamant about eating something that they're not supposed to. I don't know what in the world it is about this breakfast, but you would have thought it was the last food in their kitten lives... they went bonkers over it! About a millisecond after I snapped the picture of Bruno sniffing, he grabbed the whole slice in his skinny little mouth and ran away with it. Luckily I reacted quickly and salvaged the majority of it, but he did get a little morsel. Meanwhile, on the stove, Samson licked the little bits that remained in the pan that I used to heat my slice under the broiler. And, once I'd done my part in devouring the slice, Samson and Bruno teamed up to lick the plate clean. Such weird cats. But, I will agree with them, this is a DAMN tasty breakfast!

It would not be the only time today that a plate was licked to get every ounce of "yum" out of a meal. Admittedly, it was I who licked my lunch plate clean with no shame this afternoon. (What, the cats looked like they really enjoyed it? And lord knows they're not going to judge me!)

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and spent the afternoon prepping some food for the week (the kale & quinoa quiche being one of the meals). The other meal I threw together was a couple portobello mushrooms stuffed with kale, roasted tomatoes & goat cheese. (You'll see when you get to my menu at the bottom, but I'm pretty sure almost every meal this week has kale in it. I have a (healthy) obsession with it now). I was originally following a recipe I'd found online but quickly threw it aside and did my own thing. This was a hugely satisfying lunch today, and it's so quick and easy to throw the 'bello on the grill or under the broiler. Lunch comes together in a matter of minutes!

For a side I sliced a heart of romaine in half and grilled it along side my portobello. Holy cow that was insanely good! Scroll down past this picture for the recipes/instructions to re-construct this lunch of champions:

Kale, Roasted Tomatoes & Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobello
makes 2 stuffed shrooms

Approx 1 bunch of kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen or so cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 TB grated parmesan cheese
2 portobellos

I already had roasted cherry tomatoes on hand from a baked egg breakfast FAIL over the weekend. I tossed a whole container of cherry toms with some olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. I roasted them in the oven for a little over 2 hours at 250 degrees, shaking the pan around every half hour. If you didn't want to do this, you could probably throw the toms in the pan with the kale and achieve a similar, less roasted, result. 

Chop the kale and garlic and throw into a pan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil. Toss or turn the kale with some tongs to coat in the oil. This will need to cook for about 10 minutes to really soften up the kale. Once it's wilted down a good bit add the tomatoes (if pre-roasted), goat cheese, and Greek yogurt and stir well so that all of the kale is coated in the creamy cheesy yogurty goodness. It should all come together to form a nice stuffing. Season with salt & pepper.

Remove the gills from the portobellos by scraping the black stuff out with a spoon. Divide the stuffing into 2 portions and load each 'bello up. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over top. These would hold for several days, either in a tupperware or covered in saran wrap. 

I threw one on the grill today for about 10 minutes, and ended up finishing it off under the broiler to get the top nice and crisp (my grill wasn't getting hot for some reason today. I think I need a grill doctor to come give it some love!). I was surprised by how filling this dish was!

Grilled Romaine with Lemon Tahini Dressing

This doesn't even need a recipe (well, the romaine part), but I will humor you! 

You take a romaine heart and cut it in half. With the cut side down on the plate or cutting board, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with your seasoning of choice (I used salt, pepper & a nice Italian herb blend I picked up at the awesome Savory Spice Shop). Flip it over and repeat with the oil & seasoning. Put it on a medium hot grill, with the cut side up, for about 5 minutes or until you start to see a bit of grill marks on the leaves and the color starts to get bright. Flip it over, repeat. Depending on how hot you have your grill this could take 5 minutes or 10 minutes. 

I had a double batch of Lemon Tahini dressing on hand from prepping my Weekend Glow Kale Salad yesterday (from my new most favorite blog ever!). I figured it would be nice paired with the grilled romaine, and boy was I right. It has the consistency and mouth feel of a nice Caesar dressing, and actually tastes similar to it as well with the bright lemony-ness. However, unlike most Caesar dressing, this one is not only not-bad for you, but it's actually GOOD for you! 

A little drizzle of dressing and a few shavings of fresh Parmesan and this simple grilled salad was good to go. Honestly, you could eat it as-is with no dressing, or even just squeeze half a lemon over it and let it mix with the olive oil for a ready-made vinaigrette. I have a feeling for the rest of the summer, any time I'm cooking on the grill, a hunk of romaine will be sharing the grates!

And now, behold, the menu for my week (subject, as always, to change based on ingredients available, leftovers, and my fickle cravings)


Breakfast: Kale & Quinoa Quiche + citrus juice
Lunch: Kale, Tomato & Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobello with Grilled Romaine Salad
Dinner: Weekend Glow Kale Salad


See Tuesday. Repeat. 


Breakfast: Kale, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Hash with Poached Eggs
Lunch: Avocado Chicken Salad in a Collard Wrap with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado Salad
Dinner: Grilled Pizza Stuffed Portobello, Grilled Zucchini & Squash, Green Salad


See Thursday. Repeat.


Breakfast: Coconut & Banana Quinoa Breakfast
Lunch: Yoga Teacher Training, who knows??
Dinner: Over The Rainbow Cabbage Salad


See Saturday. Repeat.

My guess is I'll have tons of the Kale & Quinoa Quiche left over and I'll probably enjoy it for breakfast or snacks throughout the week. Hopefully every meal will be as yummy as today's were and I won't mind at all eating the same thing 2 days in a row!

I want to take a quick minute to say how proud I am of everyone in the June Salad Challenge!  There have been tons of delicious looking salad pictures shared and nearly 40 of us are holding each other accountable to eating at least one salad a day in the month of June. It's not too late to join, there are still 18 days left which means 18 wonderful salads!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Breaking the Beer Fast

So, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I spent the day at the US National Whitewater Center with Beth. It started with an apple, walnut & gorgonzola salad at the River's Edge Bar & Grille with Jeremy and Kyle, that was HUGE and pretty yummy.

Beth & I got in a run, which would have been way more awesome if my pesky asthma that's been non-existent lately had decided to stay non-existent. It would have also been more awesome had I not just devoured a huge salad immediately before hand. We took one of the most hilarious and wild rafting trips I've ever had at the USNWC, and, for the first time in probably 2 dozen rafting trips, I finally was catapulted from the boat, and subsequently demonstrated a yoga pose I've been struggling with for a while: full wheel. By where my feet were in the boat, my spine curved in a perfect back bend over the side of the raft, with my shoulders, head, and arms underneath the boat. Thankfully Beth realized I was probably drowning and released my feet, but I do want to thank her for the effort of keeping me in the boat. This particular trip included 5 runs (rather than the usual 4), and we surfed just about every rapid on the 2 chutes. We were smacked in the face with another boat, received nasal enemas, I fell into the matrix, Beth fell out, I fell out, Beth punched me in the jaw, and I nearly lost my shorts. It was good times for sure.

After the rafting we went back to the car for a yummy "picnic" meal. Mine was mostly prepared by Nourish- the Jambalaya salad with my home made honey mustard balsamic vinaigrette, Nourish potato salad, and Nourish marinated veggie kabobs. I grilled the veggies along with some shrimp which I added to the top of the salad. This ended up being a super delicious and extremely nutritious meal to help replenish some energy that we'd spent.

After our picnic we met up with Sean and hit the zipline. It was the first time I've finally been able to do it, and I've gotta say: way more fun than it looks! I could probably go about 10 times in a row, and thanks to my handy season pass, I can definitely do that! Finally, Beth and I rinsed off in the shower and changed into some dry comfy close, and took up our spot on the lawn near the stage as the bluegrass band began. Robin showed up when she got off of work, and I commenced to breaking the beer fast, which has been in effect for over a month.

I was terribly sad when I first arrived at the USNWC to find that the beer I'd been looking forward to trying for a month was no longer on tap. Bummer. So, my first beer what a local wheatbier that was light and tasted amazing. Beth snapped a photo of my very first sip. About halfway through this beer I had a thunderous burp, which was the first good burp I've had since before the fast. Weird, I didn't even realize I hadn't been burping!

From prior conversations with Jeremy and our friend Kathy, the overwhelming opinion was that my tolerance would be shot and I'd get shit-faced in a hurry. I decided I wasn't going to set out to "get drunk", just enjoy some beer (whether that was one or several). Kathy bet me $15 that I would get wasted off of 3 beers. Well, Kathy.... I think I owe you at least $10. I was noticeably feeling some affects about halfway through my first drink. Not quite tipsy, but certainly a bit more buzzy than I've been after half a beer in a long time!

After the wheatbier I enjoyed "Son of a Peach" which was exactly what it sounds like... a peach flavored wheatbier. It was also scrumptious. Upon going in to the restaurant a 3rd time, Sean excitedly pointed at the row of taps: behold, Hell or High Watermelon, the beer I've been fantasizing about for weeks, was back on tap! So, I grabbed a tall glass of it, and headed back down to enjoy it. It was as delicious as I hoped that it would be, the perfect summer beer. I really, really enjoyed it. The night came to an end and Jeremy picked me up. He will tell you at this point that I was drunk. I maintain that I was not. We went to Mac's for a late night meal, where I enjoyed yet another salad (3 for the day!) and another pint of Son of a Peach. I couldn't even finish it... I left about 1/3 of it on the table. Sad, but I'd definitely met my capacity for filling my stomach for the day.

It's apparent that my overall tolerance for alcohol has decreased fairly significantly. In the past year the quantity and frequency with which I drink has decreased all the way around, but my tolerance really hadn't changed. I'm totally fine with being a "lightweight" now- less money to spend, less calories to consume!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healthy Dessert!

Quick post as I'm headed to the White Water Center to meet Beth for some outdoor fun and sun! I meant to post the recipes for these scrumptious little dessert bites last week but forgot.

These are so simple and the perfect small dessert for eating healthy in the summer time. They do take a little while to make if you're doing a large batch like I did, but they'll last forever in the freezer.

4 bananas, sliced into 1 inch rounds
1 cup almond butter
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used organic 75% cacao)
3 TB coconut oil
1/4 C coconut flakes

Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a small pot over low heat. The coconut oil will keep the chocolate a little softer once it's hardened again.

Slice the bananas and lay them out on a cookie sheet or plate. The easiest way to put the dollop of almond butter on top is by letting it soften and putting it into a ziplock bag or icing bag. Cut the tip off of the bag and squeeze a bit of almond butter to cover the top of each banana round.

Once all of the bananas have been covered with a nice hunk of almond butter, put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Once they're well chilled, commence to dipping!

Using a fork as a little lift under each banana round, place the banana over the pot and use a spoon to dump a delicious flow of chocolate over the banana/almond butter nugget. Once the banana is covered in chocolate, place it back on the cookie sheet. After you've covered a few with chocolate, take a pinch of coconut shavings and sprinkle a bit over each treat. Repeat until all bananas are covered with chocolate and topped with coconut, then freeze for an hour. Once frozen, put into a freezer bag and seal up.

Enjoy frozen, straight from the freezer. Or, let them sit out for 10 minutes for an ice cream consistency, or even longer for an ooey gooey treat!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ups & Downs

I know this for certain: life was so much simpler when I was on the juice fast. There weren't all these menus to plan, hard decisions to make, wondering if I'm eating the right thing at the right time. As I lay in bed last night, I strongly considered waking up this morning and starting the juice fast again. Or at least backing way off of "real food" and only eating 1 meal a day, in combination with more juice. It's kind of weird, and maybe it's just my body and mind adjusting too slowly, but food just doesn't feel right, right now.

I still find myself overeating. I could probably eat 3 bites and consider that overeating, because I'm just not getting hungry. I don't have much of a desire to eat food, which surprises the hell out of me. I WANT to want to eat food. But if I'm honest with myself, I'd be much happier with a nice glass of juice. I'm unclear as to whether this is just a normal part of transitioning back to solids, or my body telling me that it still wants to be on a juice fast. For example, I bypassed my delicious Nourish Brinner that was supposed to be my breakfast this morning and opted for a fresh fruit smoothie. I'm finding it fairly frustrating, to say the least.

The upside of eating again is that it means I can get back to training like I want to. Yesterday Alvaro and I hit the trails near my house for a run. The trail was 4.5 miles down & back, and I figured he'd want to do the whole thing (being the long distance runner that he is), but I figured I'd run till around 2.5 or 3 miles when my body told me to start walking, then do a run/walk combo the rest of the time. Alvaro had different ideas. And, much to my delight, my body not only cooperated, but did so enthusiastically! The last few times I ran was 2.5 miles to work back at the beginning of my fast (and that was the first time I'd run in a month or two). I was taking 1 to 2 walking breaks for 2.5 miles.

Yesterday, I busted out 4.5 miles like it was nothin'! Well, with the exception of this one asshole hill that came with about 1 mile left to go. Not only did we run the entire distance without walking, but we were able to carry on conversation for the majority of it. Which, as Alvaro pointed out, meant that we could "shut the fuck up and run faster if we wanted to, but then we wouldn't be having as much fun"! My knee did start feeling a little tweaky with a mile to go, and was very slightly swollen at the end, and still a bit achey this morning, but other than that I felt fantastic! I was barely winded by the end, my breath returning to normal cadence soon after we began walking to the car.

Running 20 pounds lighter was.... awesome. My elbows weren't brushing up against my sides or getting caught on my love handles every so often. My thighs weren't rubbing together and bunching up fabric, and my hips felt fantastic. At no point, with the exception of asshole-hill, did I feel like I needed to take a walking break. The last time I ran even close to 4.5 miles was February, and the time before that was probably in training for the 10k I ran back in 2006. So, in addition to my weight goals, I now have running goals (which are imperative to reaching my weight loss goals!). The goal is to run about every other day, some shorter, some longer, getting to a point where 5 miles is an easy, normal run for me.

After mine & Beth's conversation last week and officially moving "complete a half marathon" to the bucket list, I feel one step closer to that, and feel like it's totally in reach.

As far as my weight goal, the next goal is 145lbs. Standing on the scale at 147, I could see that my ultimate goal, 135, was not a total joke like I thought it was the first time Alvaro and Jeremy mentioned it to me. No. 135 is completely realistic, and I think I'll meet the best, most powerful Megan at 135. I've got a bit further to go now, as the scale has been creeping up since I began eating food, and is now sitting around 150ish. I'm ok with that because I understand I've not been using the best methods to get back to eating, and I've set out to change that.

I've been going WAY too heavy on the grains (yes, I'm talking to you, quinoa). IF I eat grains or legumes, which should be minimally right now, it should be in the mornings. Lunch is the time to go more "paleo"- no grains, no legumes, no dairy, but this is my time for meat or seafood if I want it. Dinner is all veggies, all the time. 100% plant based meals, the more raw, the better. BIG thanks to Alvaro for helping me work out this equation. I'm hoping that after a few days of following this eating pattern I'll start to feel a bit less heavy. All I know is with the grains I've been eating I feel like there's a bowling ball in my stomach!

I've revamped my meal plan for the remainder of the week, and started in on next week's menu, following my new rules. I spent the evening last night building yet another board on Pinterest to help me out with my dinner selections. If you'd like to see what Pure Plant Based meals look like, check it out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Foodgasms. It's a new word that I've invented to describe the feeling you get from eating food for the first time in 3 weeks. It sounds similar to another word we're all familiar with, and with good reason!

Yesterday I broke my fast with the beautiful Almond Berry Quinoa salad for breakfast. I broke that recipe down in my last blog. It was so delicious, and the perfect compliment to starting my day with a vigorous yoga practice (that I made up by myself!). The picture doesn't do it justice, I promise. I added some hemp seeds, chia seeds, and goji berries on top to give it some super-food power!

Between breakfast and lunch I enjoyed some of my Sunshine Juice (another recipe in my last blog). For lunch I sat down to my much anticipated Nourish "Brinner" that I froze last week upon delivery. It is Nourish's take on a breakfast Benedict, with a hash of roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, leeks, and spinach, served with a chickpea and flax seed cake, topped with roasted asparagus and a vegan hollandaise. Holy hell, that was delicious, and I had to show massive restraint to keep from eating the second portion.

Another juice, with beets and greens, to fill the time between lunch and dinner. I haven't felt "hungry" in so long, weeks, and it was odd that my stomach started reverting back to expecting food so quickly. Granted, I didn't feel hungry nearly to the extent that I USED to, and I easily could have downed a glass of juice and hot tea and gone to bed without complaint. I was mildly hungry, and since I'd gone to the trouble of pre-making my food on Sunday, (and since I was REALLY looking forward to this meal!), I decided I might as well eat!

Here's an area that's kind of shady for me right now, since this is my first experience coming off of a fast and back to food. Should I be eating even if I'm not really hungry? I don't know the answer. I think my body gave me the answer last night, but I'll get to that at the end of the blog!

First up: Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad, from a jar. Of course.

By the time we got home from work I was so ready to dive into this salad and was thankful I'd prepped it ahead of time. About 60 seconds after walking through the door, the salad was shaken up, dumped into a bowl, and I was sitting at the table enjoying what has now become the most scrumptious salad I have ever eaten in my entire life. It remains to be seen if this salad is actually the best salad ever, or if it just tasted that way last night because food is still totally new to me right now. All I know is it was a huge salad and I should have eaten just that, but I kept going. I got about 90% through my salad and left at the bottom were some berries, blue cheese, pecans, and a few chunks of avocado and some spinach, with plenty of dressing. Jeremy wondered in as I was putting some oil in a pan to prepare my entree and asked what kind of salad it was as he picked at it. I told him (leaving out the avocado, he doesn't like them, which is how I know he's insane), and I also said it was the best salad I'd ever eaten. Next thing I know he's sitting in my chair, polishing off the last of the bowl, and agreeing that it was, indeed, a damn good salad.

This nearly knocked me off my feet for several reasons. #1 being Jeremy typically doesn't like my cooking, no matter what it is. #2 being that he rarely if ever likes anything that is healthy or resembling plant matter. #3... I don't know. But him digging into the last of that salad and enjoying it was the last thing I expected, and I was elated! I asked him if I made it again, would he eat it too, and he said yes! Finally, a healthy, plant-based meal we can enjoy together! As you can see, the original recipe calls for bacon, which I omitted this time around. I can't begin to imagine the heights that bacon would have taken this salad to. It would have been too much for me last night, surely, and I would have melted into a puddle of foodgasm rather than stay strong for my encore.

I should have listened to my body when it said "holy shit, this salad is awesome and huge, and this is more than enough to fill me up, thanks!". But I did not, because I was so insanely excited about what came next and couldn't fathom NOT eating something I've been daydreaming about for close to a week. Dumb, and this is how I got to be overweight in the first place. The rules were so SIMPLE when juicing, and it was nearly impossible to "over eat". Alas...

May I present to you, the magical deliciousness that is Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa.

Don't judge my lack of photography skills. I'm dealing with an iPhone and Instagram, it's only going to be mediocre. Please click on the link above and look at HER photography of this meal, which is excellent. Regardless of the fact that the photo of this dish looks like crap, it tasted AAAHHHHHMAZING! I was making the craziest noises while consuming this, and had goosebumps the entire time. Ugh. It was SO good. I asked Jeremy how it was possible that my culinary ability had improved so much over the past 20 days, because I think between the salad and the sweet potato cakes it might be the best meal I've ever eaten that came from my own kitchen. He cracked up at this, and we're pretty sure my tastebuds are just on overload. Although who knows, fasting could have brought me some super-chefdom that has long been dormant.

Was eating this final entree worth it? Yes and no. It has been years since I've enjoyed a meal to the extent that I enjoyed dinner last night. In that respect, yes. It was totally worth it. Should I have stuck with the salad, listened to my body, and been satisfied? No question, that's the route I should have taken! Immediately upon finishing my meal I experienced my first "food coma" in well over a month. Lethargy set in. My stomach began to balloon up. I mean, I got bloated, and FAST! Looking in the mirror I felt and looked like I'd gained a good 10 pounds in one sitting, and I wondered what the hell I'd done to myself! There was regret. There was a message sent to my experienced juice-fasting friend Matt, asking if this was normal.

I awoke this morning feeling significantly less bloated, but still regretful. It took less than 24 hours to over-eat, which is a huge problem I need to overcome. I started this morning with a small glass of juice, and about half the portion of Berries & Almond Quinoa Salad that I had yesterday morning. A little more juice before my first run (which will be in less than 1 hour!), and I'll enjoy the second jar of the fantabulous Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad for lunch. Still plenty of "afternoon juice" left for later, and a Nourish delivery to look forward to. I'll be doing very little cooking over the next couple days, thanks to good ol' Nourish, and I've got 2 more awesome meals left of the sweet potato cakes.

I've gained some weight back, which is to be expected, as my digestive system needs a minute to jump start and it's much easier to retain water when you're eating actual food again. I'm up to 149.8, so just over 2.5 pounds from my lowest. I expect realistically to gain about 5 pounds back and stabilize. I also wonder if I've added whole grains back in to my diet too quickly (right off the bat). The meal plans that are published on are strictly veg and fruit, no whole grains. We'll see... this is all a learning experience. I've never done a juice fast before 20 days ago, which means I've never transitioned off a juice fast before either. Bear with me as I figure this out, by trial and error. Hopefully you'll be able to learn from my mistakes!