Saturday, April 28, 2012

28 Day Whole Foods Challenge // Favorite Meals

Today is day 14 in my whole foods challenge and I feel great! Last week I battled fatigue and hunger for several days, but this week my body felt nourished and energized. I learned how to balance my meals a little better…including adding more calories to each meal. So now I am not snacking as much throughout the day.

I wish I had an amazing recipe to share with you from the past week, but my meals were pretty uneventful. Instead I will just list some of my favorites with short descriptions so at least you get an idea of what I’m eating.

Favorite Breakfast
Plain Organic Yogurt with Strawberries, Walnuts and Honey
I’m not a fan of yogurt, but I do desire it’s health benefits  (calcium, vitamin D and probiotics). So I learned to dress it up with fresh fruit, add some texture with nuts and drizzle it with honey (raw and local) to sweeten everything. Some days I will eat it without the berries and it is just as good!

Photo Credit

Favorite Lunch
Spinach & Egg Salad with Fresh Fruit or Yogurt Side
Completely unexciting right? But I love spinach and I love hardboiled eggs…and it’s a pretty energizing meal! I just sprinkle on some salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil to wilt the spinach a bit. It would probably be good with balsamic vinegar or a homemade mustard dressing. I might try that this week.

Favorite Dinners
Quinoa & Veggies
This is my go-to meal…I always enjoy it. I start by sautéing squash and/or zucchini in a pan with olive oil. Then I add black beans and sometimes corn. Last, I add in cooked quinoa. I season it all with salt and cayenne pepper, then melt some cheddar cheese on top. Served with a bit of sour cream, salsa and avocado…it is a filling and delicious meal!

Potatoes & Egg on Spinach
This is another egg and spinach salad but with a lot more flavor. The potatoes are the best part: sliced red potatoes and onion drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with herbs (I think I use parsley, rosemary and thyme…or just whatever I feel like in the moment). I bake in the oven at 425 degrees until the potatoes are soft, then serve with hardboiled (or fried) egg on top of spinach. I think this would also be great with some yogurt or sour cream. Yum!

Photo Credit

Best Snacks
Coconut Milk Smoothie
This was an experiment that turned out pretty good! I don’t have any measurements but I used coconut milk, strawberries, mango and plain yogurt. The yogurt makes the smoothie creamy and adds just a little bit of tartness. (The photo credit link below looks like another great smoothie idea!)

Photo Credit
Homemade Strawberry “Sorbet”
I found a site on Pinterest claiming a recipe for strawberry ice cream using banana and almond milk, so I decided to give it a try. It isn’t ice cream - but it was still tasty! It might make a differences how you mix the ingredients? Instructions: Use 1 cup strawberries, 1 small banana and 1/3 cup almond milk. Mix, freeze then eat! “Mix” is not expounded upon…so I put everything in the blender and ended up with a sweet sorbet-like frozen treat.

My Cheat Meals
Determining what is a cheat meal and what is not has been kind of tricky. Especially when portions of a meal are definitely whole food and other portions are processed. I am also giving myself some grace when it comes to dairy (used sparingly) and bread products (definitely choosing whole wheat and homemade as much as possible). Since my goal is to eat 80% whole foods, I simply keep track of the foods that are “cheats” and make sure they don’t amount to more than three meals-worth per week. Good enough for me. I am already experiencing the benefits of eating “pure” foods. More on that in a bit…here are some of my favorite cheats:

Moe’s Burrito with Chips and Queso
This is a meal I divided up when counting what was cheating and what was not. Moe’s uses grass-fed beef and high quality, fresh veggies. They serve brown rice and even offer whole-grain tortillas. The tortilla is an unknown however – it is obviously processed to some extent and I have no idea what ingredients are included. And those chips with queso! Not that great for you, but how can you say no to Moe’s queso? I can’t…I enjoyed it!

Homemade Fried Chicken with Potatoes & Gravy and Green Bean Casserole
This is one of my husband’s favorite homemade meals. I love it too! And it is not all bad. The chicken is Publix Greenwise brand which I dip in flour and egg then pan-fry in olive oil. Then I make my own gravy out of the drippings with flour and milk. The potatoes are real (have to be real), but I do add milk and butter when mashing them. The green bean casserole is probably the worst offender with cream of mushroom soup, cheddar cheese and those yummy french fried onions. While this isn’t the best meal for our health, I am glad I can include some “healthier” elements by making it all at home.

Benefits of Whole Foods
I already mentioned that I am seeing the benefits of eating whole foods. First of all, I feel great all day every day, even after meals. When I eat meals that are processed and full of additives, I feel drained and sometimes bloated. This happens when I eat too much dairy too. But when I eat whole grains, fresh veggies, fruit and “pure” meats, I feel refreshed!

The other benefit of eating whole foods is healthier skin. I’ve always battled troubled skin and blemishes. Eating a diet that is nourishing helps my body take care of itself and fight off imbalances that cause problems like skin conditions. When I eat foods high in sugar, processed ingredients, dairy or fried foods – I notice a flare-up in skin problems (blemishes, more oil production, redness). In just the past two weeks I have noticed a reduction in blemishes and oil. I have also changed a couple other habits that promote healthy skin (that's for a different post), but all these changes are working together quite well.

I’m looking forward to learning new recipes this week. I think I am going to come up with some more snack options. Coming off of candy, ice cream and chips has left me with some big cravings! Time to learn some replacements before I cave.  Anything yummy, I will be sure to share!

Previous Posts in 28 Day Whole Foods Challenge
28 Day Whole Foods Challenge (First Post)
Whole Foods Challenge Recipe // Quinoa Berry Salad 


Anonymous said... Reply to Comment

check out the energy balls recipe on my pinterest. They are delicious and healthy :) I made them with mostly organic ingredients too. --Kristina

Valerie said... Reply to Comment

@Anonymous Thanks Kristina! I've seen those but never got serious about making them. I'll be sure to pick up ingredients this week. I need something yummy to snack on! :)