Semi Homemade Dieting with Gretchen

One of the first things I came to realize when I started this blog (oh so many eons ago) is that when it comes to weight loss–and healthy living in general–everybody’s got an opinion. Everyone has a different method that worked for them, everyone has feelings about this or that or the other. Low fat! Low carb! Paleo! Atkins! South Beach! Weight Watchers! Jenny Craig! Home food delivery services! Gluten-free! No sugar! Cheat days! Meatless Mondays! 100% clean eating! Don’t eat white colored foods! Only drink clear liquids!

And, sure, that’s a lot of options (and really I’ve just skimmed the surface), but it’s kind of a great thing, right? I mean, it’s wonderful that there are so many different methods and programs and diets and lifestyles that people who are looking to lose weight, get fitter, feel better, whatever, have to choose from. The thing is, once you become open about your own health/weight loss goals (like by, um, writing a blog about it, I guess?) all those opinions… start heading your way. And that’s when it starts to get a little overwhelming.

For a long time, I’ve been pretty firm in the mindset that I don’t *NEED* a program in order to lose weight. I considered myself the queen (princess?) of fad diets for so long, once I started this blog I swore (in the dramatic, stamp my foot on the ground, fist in the air kind of way) never to rely on another person or program or instructional pamphlet again. I mean, sure, calorie counting in and of itself is a kind of method, I suppose, but it’s not dictated by anyone other than myself and, like, science. And I don’t need to pay anybody to do it. But, that said, we all know that for the past year+ my weight has just been going in circles without any real PROGRESS. And not trying something on principle or out of stubbornness is pretty bratty (though, let’s be honest, so am I). But! I really am trying to become more open minded about the whole thing. A few of you guys have encouraged me to give Weight Watchers a try, others continue to show what the golden rules of Paleo can lead to. And I really am looking into things and trying to figure out what might work best for me, because I don’t want to be stuck anymore. But in the meantime, until that point, I know I just have to try–and I mean really TRY, not the complacent half-assery that I’ve been doing for the past Lord-knows-how-long–to stick with what I know works. What worked for me in the past, and what should work for me again if I actually stuck with it for more than like, a day. (And I’m three days strong so far, so HA!)

See, pretty much every single thing in my life boils down to the fact that I am incredibly lazy. So when we talk about cooking at home, sure, I get my moments where I want to play Top Chef in the kitchen and craft transcendentally delicious meals with plating so beautiful it would bring a tear to Tom Colicchio’s eye. But most of the time I’d rather zap up a bowl of Chef Boyardee in the microwave and call it dinner. Mmm-mmm-good? You betcha. Healthy? Not so much. And sure, I bet there are a lot of you out there that are like, well, you just have to MAKE yourself be good. You just have to FORCE yourself to cook at home 6/7 nights a week and to buy only “good” things at the grocery store and be healthy… and eventually you’ll train yourself to WANT those things. But, and here’s where that innate brattiness comes back in, I don’t like to be forced to do anything. In fact, I my innate response to trying to make myself do something is to say, “Screw you, self! I do what I want!” and then order a pizza.

So, instead, I find the happy balance. I embrace the fact that I’m never going to be the kind of person who hand-prepares 100% of her meals, and when I do, they’re not always going to be infallibly mean, clean, and green. But most of the time, they’ll probably be pretty close. So isn’t that good enough? I mean, hey, if Sandra Lee can make an entire Food Network show out of mixing homemade with store-bought, why can’t my diet be like that too?

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Let’s take what I ate yesterday, for example. For breakfast, I had two strips of local bacon, a slice of whole wheat bread with Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, and a bosc pear. For lunch, I had fresh strawberries and some chili that I bought from the farmer’s market. For my snacks, I had a laughing cow cheese wedge and an entire container of hummus with baby carrots (granted, I should NOT have had the entire container, but let’s not really focus on that) Then, for dinner, I cooked up a thai chicken sausage (that I also got at the farmer’s market), 1/2 a cup of coconut rice, and a salad with red onion, pineapple, and poppyseed dressing.

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And yes, I’m a terrible blogger and only managed to take pictures of my dinner. HOWEVER! If we look at everything I ate yesterday, I think I struck a pretty good balance between whole, clean foods (pears, strawberries, carrots, hummus, salad, and arguably, bacon) and convenience foods (bread, laughing cow, salad dressing, and arguably, white rice). The chili and chicken sausage I’m torn on because I did buy them pre-made (essentially) but they were made from all whole foods with no preservatives or unpronounceable things on the label. So you guys can decide, haha. Regardless, I came in with my net calories for the day being around 1562, and was pretty happy about the amount of food I got to eat.

So! What I’m trying to say with this overly wordy post is that, until I decide to really commit to a different way of managing my diet–and I honestly am looking into various options–I think I’m okay with sticking with what I know. A happy mash-up of convenience and clean–a semi-homemade diet. Still with room for eating out upon occasion because, as you all know, I fracking love to eat out.

What diet/program/lifestyle/food philosophy (ha!) do you subscribe to? And I’m interested in hearing whether you consider it to be for life, or if it’s for weight-loss specific purposes.

It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World

I’ve been bad lately. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use terms like “good” and “bad” when it comes to food, since it hearkens back to the days when my relationship with food was, uh, less than stellar. But I’ve got to be honest with you folks (that’s kind of my M.O. here, after all) and while “bad” may not be the best word for it, it sure hasn’t been good. With all the emotional drama of the past couple of weeks, I’ve barely been cooking. And we all know that cooking for ourselves is an integral part of weight loss (and health, in general!) So, y’know. Bad Gretchen.

In order to remedy this, I made a triumphant, if belated, return to the grocery store! And yes, I do realize that for normal, non-crazy, non-lazy people, the act of going to the grocery store isn’t exactly something worth celebrating. Buuuuuut, my blog, my rules. So we’re going to make a big deal of it anyway, goshdarnit! BEHOLD!

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Brussels sprouts, apples, limes, a lemon, a red onion, and asparagus. Can you believe that b. sprouts stalk?! Let’s get a closer look at that sucker:

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Whoosh!

Totally worth the extra dollar and a half I probably paid just for the stalk, haha. It’s kind of hilarious (in a sad way, not an actually funny way) that I always gripe about how much I’m spending at the grocery store for two weeks’ worth of food, when I easily will drop $10 at Chipotle for a single meal. Just another thing I’m continually trying to remedy, friends.

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Almond milk, eggs, bacon, and a salmon fillet.

Now, please note that this shopping trip was also done in the wake of yet another dental visit (6 months on the dot!), so I can’t be held fully responsible for some of the things that may have crept their way into my cart.

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Pretzel crisps, pita chips, hummus, garlic hummus, and a box of just-in-case Velveeta (kekeke.)

Case in point.

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Evaporated milk, pie crust dough, heavy whipping cream.

Though to be fair, something epic is going to be happening with these ingredients (plus two important additional ones that aren’t pictured) this weekend. Any guesses? Prepare thyselves for greatness!

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Tofu of the silken, firm, and extra firm variety, and balsamic vinaigrette.

One of the perks of being a blogger, besides the inflation of my ego and getting to meet awesome people I would never have met otherwise, is the awesome amount of coupons that I get my hands on before failing to ever actually use them. So thanks to remembering to actually try to save monies for once, I picked up the above bottle of salad dressing and not one, not two, but THREE cubes/packages/blocks (?) of tofu for FREE! Stay tuned for the amazingness that will be coming out of my recipe box (why does that sound dirty?) utilizing those puppies.

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In fact, the dressing has already been used in a red cabbage dish that I made alongside the salmon (prepared in the same way as my dill-icious lemon tilapia recipe!) and some particularly beautiful swiss chard that my sister gave me from her CSA. Yay for finally getting my act together and cooking for myself! I had almost forgotten how much I like doing so!

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Recipe for the braised cabbage to come tomorrow!

How do you dig yourself out of a cooking (or lack thereof) rut?

Olé!

Okay, first things first: thank you all so much for your waywayway too kind comments on yesterday’s post about the Navy 5 miler. Not only am I proud of myself for finishing, but you guys make me feel like Wonder Woman! Even though we all know it wasn’t the best race ever (um, I think I’ll try actually training next time.) Best. Readers. Ever. 🙂

So unfortunately, last night I had plans to meet up with some old friends for, you guessed it, sushi that didn’t end up happening. My dinner plans may have fallen through, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t do up something grand(é). It wasn’t long before our cucina was hustling and bustling with alimento mexicano!

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Taylor suggested we make homemade Chipotle for dins, and I couldn’t say “sí” fast enough! I looooove me some Chipots, but I certainly don’t love dropping $8 per bowl (when did they make the switch from calling them burrito “bols” to “bowls”, by the way?) We got to save some dinero and ensure some clean, lower-sodium eating in one fell swoop! (How are you liking the remnants of my 8th grade Spanish peeking out here? De nada.)

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More kitchen therapy for me! Mince, chop, slice!

Now, we’re no homemade Chipotle n00bs here, but our recipe is definitely still a work in progress. We get closer and closer every time we make it though! The only thing that I think we’re still unable to get a close match on is the chicken.

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Not that our chicken isn’t mighty tasty, but it’s just not quite the same. We’ve been seasoning it with a chile powder blend + ground chipotle pepper. Anybody know the secret? Maybe a wet marinade?

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I guess for now we’ll just have to keep taste-testing. Hey, it’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it!

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One thing I do think we have down pat is the corn salsa. Muy delicioso. Who says salsa needs tomatoes?

Corn Salsa: Step 1Corn Salsa: Step 2Corn Salsa: Step 3
Onion, jalapeño, corn, cilantro, salt, pepper, and just a squeeeeze of lime!

Making this kind of dinner at home can be time consuming, just because it has so many components. But if you have the time to commit, it’s totally worth it!

Fixins

Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Dinnertime

All together now:

Me Gusta

In total, and from the bottom up, we have: cilantro-lime rice, black beans, peppers & onions, chicken, plain nonfat greek yogurt (a healthy, lower-cal sour cream substitution), corn salsa, and a pinch o’ cheese.

Burrito Bol

Salud!

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Gretchen tested…

Thumbs up!

… and brother approved! Te gusta. Er, gusto? Okay, okay, I give up.

Let’s instead focus on the slightly disturbing fact that Ben and I essentially have the same haircut right now. Awk.

What’s your favorite at-home restaurant re-creation? You’d think that homemade sushi would top my list, but unfortunately the level of difficulty (I mean, if you think this was time consuming…) doesn’t exactly make it a feasible go-to. So homemade burrito bowls are definitely my #1, followed closely by home-baked pizza. Trader Joe’s ready-to-go pizza doughs just make it so easy!

Daily Eats – 9/26/2011

Breakfast

Forbidden Fruit
Apple (70)

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Mini Cascadian Farms bar (80)

Snack

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Green bell pepper with lemon tahini dressing/dip (~75)

Lunch

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Leftover roasted red pepper pasta (300)

And an unpictured banana (70)

Snack

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Grande soy no-whip pumpkin spice latte (280: worth it!)

Dinner

Me Gusta
Homemade Chipotle bowl: rice, black beans, peppers & onions, chicken, greek yogurt, corn salsa, and a little bit o’ cheese. (~450)

Dinner

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Canteloupe! (~100)

Total: ~1,425! Wheeee!