Yoo hoo -- here I am!

As a blogger, I think there's nothing worse than the "So where have I been?" post, but where HAVE I been?

No worries -- I've been kicking ass on the work and weight front.

I just wrapped up the 10 in 4 Challenge, which is an "anti-diet" plan to get your head screwed on straight(er) about weight loss and eating healthfully. It dovetails perfectly with what I've been doing via the Superfood Swap, in that there's a big emphasis on whole, clean foods and lots of vegetables. 

10 in 4 dinner
One of the dinners on the 10 in 4 Challenge.


It's a 4-week plan, which gives you recipes, strategies, daily emails and loads of support through a Facebook group, and while I didn't hit the "10" I did lose a little over 5 pounds, which for me is great. I also picked up a few new tools for my healthy toolbox that I'll be using from now on.

I don't want to give away too much about the plan, but trainer Dave Smith has you focus on vegetables first. Hungry in the afternoon? Vegetables. Looking to beef up your dinner portions? Vegetables. Lately I had gone a little fruit crazy, but this plan has me hitting the vegetable bin first now (and if you've never made carrot fries in an air fryer, you're missing out on a great snack!).

The other two people on the support team are Jennipher Walters and Kristen Seymour of Fit Bottomed Girls -- and speaking of FBG, I've been doing a lot more work at Fit Bottomed World -- not only writing, but editing, social media and graphics. That's what has been keeping me busy.

If you want to find out more about the program, you can read this post from Kristen. A new 10 in 4 Challenge starts May 1.

But, man! I need to prioritize the whole work-life thing. It's super easy to stay up too late, roll out of bed into workout clothes, start working and, ummmm, never get around to the working out thing. (Hey, at least I look the part!) And I need to schedule those workouts in because my right IT band has flared up something awful and I know it's NOT from working out. It's from NOT working out.

So I pulled out my PiYo program because I need something that'll work me out and stretch me out. I've had the program ever since it came out but never did it because I saw one pretzel-like move and thought "No way." Had I actually popped the DVDs in, I'd see that there are modifiers galore, so I'm finally going to give it a go.


Gimme a B (Corporation)!

I am a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club and was a sent a selection of B Corp products for this post.

 

B corp stuff
I just got a care package from Stonyfield -- in addition to two containers of Stonyfield's new 100 Percent Grassfed Greek Yogurt (yum!), was granola, a toothbrush, fragrant hand soap, gluten-free flour, matcha tea, and a coupon for a carton of eggs.

Now, I suppose I could test myself and see what I could make with all the products (some sort of soapy granola yogurt tea parfait omelet?), but what these products REALLY have in common is that they're Certified B Corporations.

What is a B Corporation? The B Corporation website sums it up pretty simply:

"B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk."

(And here's a little video to further explain things.)

Turns out, many of my favorite companies are certified B Corps -- King Arthur Flour, Pukka Organic Teas, Method cleaning supplies, Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs, Preserve Products (the toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt cups!) and my new favorite granola maker, Purely Elizabeth. That blueberry hemp ancient grain granola is fabulous -- especially sprinkled over the yogurt. 

Stonyfield b corp
Stonyfield says it felt a need to join forces with a like-minded group of businesses around the world who believe they have a responsibility to others. After poking around on the website, I'm not entirely sure what the "B" stands for, but the assessment has been developed to Measure What Matters and allows B Corps to compete to be the Best for the World, so my guess is that B is for Best.

I'm one of those persnickety shoppers who looks for things like organic, sustainable, Fair Trade, bee-friendly, etc., so this new certification is something to B on the lookout for when you shop for ethical products.


How 'bout a Breakfast Banana Split?

Breakfast banana split cover shot labeled

I partnered with Stonyfield and Woodstock Foods for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

Hey! Long time, no see!

I've been doing a lot more work for the Fit Bottomed World of healthy-living blogs, which is great. It's a combination of graphics, copy editing, writing and back-end stuff, so that's been keeping me busy (and apparently away from the blog). 

I've also been hitting the gym more frequently and staying up far too late watching MSNBC. 

Another thing I've been doing is working with my teenager on cleaning up his eating -- totally HIS decision. I have a post scheduled soon at Fit Bottomed Mamas that goes into more detail about that, but even though he has zero weight issues, he doesn't want to end up with one, so he's making cleaner choices for his meals and snacks.

Lately he's rediscovered yogurt, something he hadn't eaten since he was a toddler. Grabbing a cup of Greek yogurt for a quick breakfast or an evening snack is a good protein-rich choice, and he can choose from a variety of flavors.

He hasn't gone hardcore, like I have.

I pretty much stick to plain yogurt -- be it Greek, regular, nonfat or whole milk. I've been cutting back on my sugar intake and I can honestly say I like plain yogurt now, maybe with just a tiny drizzle of honey or sprinkle of stevia, depending on what I'm eating.

Breakfast banana split watermark
Breakfast banana split ingredients watermarkedI came up with this idea for a fun breakfast or even a dessert. It's a healthy twist on the classic banana split, which uses Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt and Woodstock's almond butter and Hiker's Harvest Mix trail, which is a blend of organic pumpkin seeds, raisins, apples and almonds with no added oils, salt or sugar. I added a little drizzle of honey.

I had this for breakfast right after my photo shoot, but I think the kid will enjoy it, too.

Breakfast Banana Split

  • 1 medium banana, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt (or any other favorite yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon natural almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons Woodstock Organic Hiker's Harvest Mix
  • Drizzle of honey

Top banana with yogurt, almond butter, trail mix and drizzle the whole thing with honey.

Makes 1 serving.

 


I have seen the future and it tastes like vegetables

(Yeah, I know I said "coming Monday" but my blog platform ate my post, so here it is on Wednesday!)

Hey, it's 2017! Happy New Year! Time to start anew and all that. I've had the same resolution since about the age of, oh, 10, and you can figure out what that is:

Crouching woman hidden scale

(Seriously, what is up with this "woman crouching on scale" stock photo pose? That is not how you weigh yourself, and if you can squat like that on a little scale, then honey, you don't need to worry about a number on the scale.)

Here's where I veer off and do something differently than I've been doing lo these many years.

  1. I unloaded a huge pile of diet books, sticking some on Amazon for sale and donating the rest to the library's used-book sale.
  2. Threw out all the pitches for big, corporate diet plans that came in the mail and the email.
  3. Left various diet-related Facebook groups. Don't want to have too many different plans fighting each other in my head. It's an ongoing issue for me.

So what DID I do?

Fitness planner

Bought a cool new fitness-themed planner. Michael's had a massive sale on them so I got this kit for around $14.

Made a doctor appointment with a new primary-care physician who seems -- at least on paper -- to be more focused on preventive care and weight loss.

Decided I was going to follow the advice of Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian who just released a new book called The Superfood Swap. It's NOT a diet; instead it's a non-crazymaking plan to eat dishes you like, only much healthier versions of them. There's no points, no calorie counting, no macro obsessing -- just good, healthy food. 

And a big part of that good, healthy food is produce -- vegetables to be precise. I can eat fruit all day long, but it's vegetables that don't often find their way into certain meals, like breakfasts and snacks.

So I kicked off Tuesday with this:

Spinach eggs

Buried under all that spinach is a couple of eggs, which I plopped on top of a couple pieces of sprouted grain bread topped with avocado. That breakfast held me for hours.

I ended the day with this:

Open face arepa
 That's an open-faced arepa at a new place near us. It was hard to get all the veggies and chicken to stay on the arepa so I just mixed everything up like a big salad and put bits of it on the arepa. 

I started and ended my day with a load of veggies. And my afternoon snack was one of Dawn's "produce and protein" combos -- 2 clementines and a 100-calorie pack of unsalted almonds.

How many calories were in this meal? My day? Don't know. Dawn says to be "calorie conscious" instead of running that calorie or macro calculator in your head all day. What I did when looking at my dinner was focus on the two things that would be the most calorically dense -- the arepa and the shredded chicken. Around 110 for each thing. The rest was vegetables and a little extra for the Latin cole slaw. 

(Check out this article from Dawn on how to free yourself from obsessive calorie counting.)

When I do calorie count I get hung up on how many I have left at the end of the day and end up trying to make up for any shortfalls at night, even if I'm not hungry. By not tallying up the day and instead being conscious of the relative total at each meal and snack, I'm far less inclined to eat what I am "allotted."

I did get on the scale New Year's Day and found that even with the little tweaks I made to my eating last week, a couple pounds came off pretty easily. 

As for the gym, my IT band issue flared up last week, and I'm guessing it was from NON-use instead of overuse, so I've been focusing on core, glutes and legs to strengthen and stretch the area with a day of rest between each workout. I got the discomfort down to one little spot on my quad, so whatever I'm doing seems to be working.

So to sum it up, 2017 is:

  • Lots of vegetables, with "produce and protein" snacks.
  • More time at the gym.
  • Playing with stickers and pens at night in my planner instead of eating.

Pomegranate-yogurt muffins

Pomegranate muffin trio labeled
I partnered with Stonyfield and King Arthur for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

I love pomegranates but am not a big fan of trying to bust them open and harvest the arils (those are the juicy, little gems inside). So I spend the extra money to buy cups of Pom Poms, especially when I've got a coupon.

They're great mixed into plain yogurt with just a drizzle of honey or maple syrup but I wanted to know whether I could bake with them. I had no idea what to expect. Would they burst open? Bleed all over the batter? Get hard and inedible? 

Happily, none of the above!

Muffins baking
I adapted one of my muffin recipes and added a cup of pomegranate arils to the batter and the result was great. The arils stay intact, don't sink to the bottom of the muffin and provide an interesting texture to the muffin with a mild tartness.

And they're really pretty.

LevoonsIn addition to the flour and the yogurt coupons, Stonyfield sent me a Silpat silicone baking mat (as you can see above, I'm all about baking in and on silicone) and a set of Levoons. The Levoons are very cool, in that they're self-leveling measuring spoons. Each spoon has a tiny scraper attached to it that levels off the spoon so that you don't need to grab a butter knife or even use two hands.

This recipe makes a dozen fairly large muffins with a cakelike texture. The muffin cups are filled nearly to the top with batter and they rise even higher than that. The batter looked a little thick so I added a little orange juice to thin it out. I couldn't really taste the juice, but orange and cranberry is a great combo and next time I may throw in some orange zest as well.

I used Stonyfield plain nonfat Greek yogurt for a boost of protein; you can always substitute regular yogurt or even whole milk varieties of either yogurt for some added richness. Each muffin is 145 calories, half a gram of fat and 5 grams of protein.

Broken muffin
Pomegranate-Yogurt Muffins

  • Ingredients2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. 

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla, orange juice and applesauce.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix just until it's combined -- don't overmix the batter or you'll end up with hockey pucks. Gently fold in the pomegranate arils.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin; cups will be very full.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.


Tunes for Tuesday: Cult of Personality, by Living Colour

Oh, hi there! I haven't blogged much the past few weeks. I had a killer head cold, then my eyes went all wonky and I got one of them lasered (It's still a little hard to see the computer screen but I'm coming for you next month, left eye!), then I got caught up on writing and am working on other, much bigger "stuff," now it's Thanksgiving week. But this song keeps popping into my head, especially after what happened a few weeks ago.

image from kudo_detective_office.c.blog.so-net.ne.jp