Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You have to fail to succeed?

I'm still on the fence about the truth behind "healthier" baked goods. But at the same time, I'm giving these alternative recipes a shot, just to see. This past weekend I tried this recipe for almond meal pancakes that I've heard such great things about. I had purchased a bag of almond meal based on Tina's experiments that she deemed great successes. I don't know what I was thinking, but for some reason I had it in my head that almond meal was going to taste like flour. I whipped up the recipe and set to work on my first two pancakes, and when they were done, I dove in.

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Surprise! These taste like ALMONDS! How strange... The thing is, I the only way I like almonds is if they are coated in dark chocolate or ground into almond butter. These pancakes were dry and crumbly and nutty. NOT what I was looking for. At least I gave them a shot. Now what am I going to do with the rest of my almond meal??

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Chicken Caesar Salad

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I had my annual physical today with my primary care physician. She was pleased disappointed to announce that I have gained EIGHTEEN pounds in the past year. Ohhhh dear, it's worse than I thought. Last year when I went to visit Dr. V, I was in the middle of my stint with the Paleo Diet. I was slim and feeling great. And then I met Bill and it all went to the french fries. Time to clean it up again. Fortunately we're both on the same page and trying hard to eat healthier and get more exercise.

With that said, I'm on the hunt for new recipes to add to my Pinterest boards. Last week I stumbled upon this gem from my friend Liz. I was so excited too because I can't tell you the last time I had a Chicken Caesar Salad, and I looooove it. This is a recipe for gluten and dairy free Caesar dressing and not only is it SO good, it's really easy to make. I bought some Gillian's GF/DF croutons, grilled up some chicken and tossed it all together with some romaine lettuce. All that was missing was some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I actually would like to try this with some freshly grated Pecorino Romano which is similar to Parmesan but made with sheep's milk and I have found that I tolerate goat's/sheep's milk quite well.

I don't exactly know what the plan is going to be as far as losing weight goes. I've done Weight Watchers, calorie counting, Paleo, South Beach... so many different diets. I don't want to diet, I want my lifestyle changes to actually stick. The Paleo diet was supposed to be that change, but it just wasn't. The bottom line is, I'm not just going to go crash dieting to drop these 20 extra L.B.s. I'll keep you posted on how it's going. Keep in mind that I rarely step on the scale, so I'll just let you know if my pants are fitting any better. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's cookin, good lookin?

blueberry muffins

Here's another Pinterest find - Insanely Good Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins. I followed the recipe almost exactly, using Bob's Red Mill GF Oats, Better Batter for the flour, frozen blueberries and honey instead of agave. My only fault was that I didn't put the oats in the food processor first. I mean, I meant to do that. Yeah, I wanted chunky oat filled muffins! No I didn't really, I just didn't read the instructions CAREFULLY before a began and I had the oats soaking in the milk before I realized I was supposed to process them first. Oh well. These came out pretty good, nothing mind blowing by any means.

This brings me to another topic of discussion. A lot of foodies out there are trying to make "healthier" baked goods. This recipe is certainly one of them. People are reducing the fat by taking out butter and adding apple sauce, using less sugar, replacing refined sugar with "natural" sweeteners... and so on and so forth. However, lately I've started to see a shift in that people are now saying if you are going to bake muffins, bake traditional muffins! That's what you're craving, and the "healthier" version is probably not going to satisfy you. Not only that, but is the proclaimed "healthier" version actually that much better for you? What I've found is that most of these recipes are still loaded with sugar, just in various forms. Removing the butter and adding applesauce is a big one, you are replacing fat with sugar. Yes maybe that sugar has trace amounts of vitamins and minerals from it's original form, but is it enough to count? I'd argue that butter in it's most natural form is better than processed sugar any day.

Are there truly healthy snack options out there? I'm sure there are. Do they compare to the real deal? Most often, no. I think the bottom line is that we just shouldn't be eating the sweet stuff that often, and when we do, go big or go home, I say. This blog has always talked a lot about sugar, I eat way too much of it and I have done more than enough research to know that it's bad stuff, no matter what form it comes in (honey, agave, raw sugar.... etc). I'd love to hear what YOU think about it. Share with me your healthier yet still tasty treats!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ok Pinterest, You Win

It's been five months since Bill and I moved in together. Living with a guy after eight years of the single life has been an adjustment, but a lot of fun, especially since we have our fur baby to keep us company.

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One of the biggest adjustments has been the one to my ass. It's huge. I'm not kidding. I've put on no less than (and possibly more than, at this point) TWELVE POUNDS. Good heavens! I have been losing and gaining the same 20 pounds for 10 years and I'm back on the gaining end. I blame french fries. And sugar. And Bill. We finally had to agree to only eat junk food one day a week. Sundays are for indulging. We also have been terrible about keeping to a food budget, especially on the weekends. This week we sat down and hammered out our budget and agreed to be much more strict about eating what we buy at the grocery store, and limiting the trips to Chipotle to once or twice a week at the most. 

Having said all of that, I have been terrible at coming up with creative meal ideas. Pork chops, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts was getting old. You would think after all these years of blogging, I'd have an arsenal of great recipes. And you'd be right, I do! But they are all tucked away in folders on my laptop and looking at the file names just doesn't do much to spark inspiration. Enter Pinterest. 

I am in LOVE with Pinterest, and do you know why? The PICTURES! When I am deciding what to make for dinner, looking at a board filled with beautiful food photos gets me very excited about cooking again. I'm inspired! Now when I see a recipe I like in google reader, I pin it. And it's working! I'm cooking up a storm. Bill is partial to the crock pot recipes, which I'm totally fine with. Not only is it ridiculously easy to make crock pot meals, but coming home after work to a house that smells amazing is a major bonus. Also they are a lot harder to screw up... I'm not a horrible cook, but I'm not the best either. 

My FAVORITE so far is this super simple shredded chicken recipe. All it takes is chicken (I used 6 boneless, skinless thighs), taco seasoning (Old El Paso is GF/DF) and a jar of salsa. Seriously.

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I made my lazy man's homemade guacamole, and added df sour cream (tofutti), and the sauce leftover from the crockpot. Served in corn tortillas. SO DELICIOUS. I could eat these every single day. 

Jen's Lazy Guacamole

1 Ripe Avocado
Some Garlic Powder and Onion Powder
The juice of one Lime
A spoonful of salsa
A little salt and pepper

Smash it all up and top off your tacos. It's not the best guac, but it's quick and easy and pretty tasty!

You can pin that if you want too... ; )