I was never a big coffee shop person. Sure, when I was traveling, I would pop into a Starbucks but it was never part of my daily schedule. I also never drank my coffee over ice. I really was just a traditional, make it at home and hot kind of girl.
When I was in law school in Miami, I was introduce to Cafe con Leche, which is the better, Cuban version of a Latte. I recently discovered the amazing Cuban place we order from routinely (Black Bean Cafe if you are in the area) had an amazing Iced Cafe con Leche. Then, during the pandemic, they came up with bottled Cafe con Leche, which I immediately fell in love with. I loved being able to have this speciality coffee drink at my own home!
The only issue I have with a daily Iced Cafe con Leche is the amount of sugar and calories. Generally, it calls for regular sugar and whole milk, which can make this pretty heavy! Of course you can play with the ingredients to reduce the calories and sugar and still keep it a sweet treat. You can even try a caffeine-free version!
Another drink I recently started making at home is Chai Tea Latte. I prefer the Tazo “skinny” version. Pair this with unsweetened almond milk and the drink is around 75 calories and 18 carbs or so. Of course, with the weather getting warmer in Florida, I am drinking this iced but you can make it hot as well. I’ve found this at Publix, my local grocery store.
I am so excited that my new Air Fryer came yesterday after being back ordered for what seemed like forever. I wanted to take my air frying to another level, especially with my husband catching so much fresh fish lately.
When I bought my first air fryer (which was the cheapest one with a decent rating on Amazon), I started with frozen fries and tator tots. Once I started to get the hang of it, I graduated to fried fish, pickles and zucchini. Then, I expanded into cookies, sausage and peppers and even burgers!
One source that I will be looking to for my recipes is Brandi’s website at Stay Snatched. She also has a great cookbook that is available through Amazon. Check out her links on her website to order. This is my go-to air fryer recipe site and everything I have made has been delicious. She is basically a magician in the way she turns comfort food and bar favorites into healthy and easy recipes. Check her out!
I’ll post some of the best recipes as I go so stay tuned. Let me know what your favorite air fryer recipe is!
Back in January, when I decided to do Dry January, I thought why not couple it with the 21 Day Ultimate Reset. This program is by Beachbody and is touted as a no-starvation cleanse to help (and this is a direct quote) “restore your body to its optima; ‘factory settings.’” You can purchase the kit directly from Beachbody and comes with multiple supplements as well as a meal guide/cookbook to last the 21 days.
A Note: I did the Ultimate Reset last year, back in March and since we all remember how March 2020 went, you can imagine all of the good habits I was working on went straight out the window! I did more of the daily recipes then where I am doing more “Reset in a Crunch” or being repetitive with recipes for ease this time.
The Reset is broken up into three one-week sections: Reclaim, Release and Restore. There are daily recipes and each week comes with different dietary restrictions and enhancements as well as supplements. The first week, you have animal products until Day 4, and then you are vegetarian. By week 2, you are vegan and week 3, you cut out a lot of carbs and protein and are mostly eating fruits and vegetables. Some days your calorie intake is pretty low however this is offset by the lack of major physical activity. For example, if I eat 1000 calories on the Reset but only burn 50 calories doing restorative yoga, it is actually less of a deficit than the days I eat 1500 calories but burn 600 in an hour long circuit training class.
The supplements: You are also told to drink distilled water, adding a supplement called Mineralize to it. The other supplements are Revitalize (helps with digestion), Detox (supports natural detoxification and healthy liver function), Optimize (nutrient absorption) and Soothe (digestive health). Every afternoon you also drink Power Greens (helps support the body’s acid/alkaline balance). A note of caution: none of these claims are FDA approved nor do they have to be, so the descriptions are straight from Beachbody.
It is recommended that you don’t do strenuous exercise during these 3 weeks. Restorative yoga, walking, swimming and tai chi are all that is recommended. This is because your body is working harder on the inside and since exercise technically damages your muscles, you don’t want to ask you body to do too much. I personally did yoga every day of the Reset. This help me rediscover my love for yoga and well as it’s restorative benefits. This is one of the many things I have kept after the Refresh.
For a day by day description, scroll down, but if you want the summary, here it is. My digestion was immensely improved, almost immediately. Gone was the constipation and bloating. I also fall asleep much easier (and without interruptions, I sleep much better). As warned in the materials, I actually was able to process some emotional things as well. It’s amazing how much mental space you free up when you no longer have to think about what you are eating or what exercise you will be doing. I also lost almost 15 pounds. There were days I wanted to quit the restrictive diet and there were a few times I went off program (I blame Epcot) but overall stayed the course.
What am I left with, a few months down the road. I gained about 4 of the pounds I lost back and I was not surprised. I still can fit into all the clothes I could in mid-February. I drink much less alcohol than I did before. My snack cravings are still gone and my stress eating is a thing of the past. My digestion is still very good. I can fall asleep much better. I have a healthier relationship with food and myself! I will more write about that in the near future.
Final Thoughts: Will this Reset be the end all be all? Probably not. On the Facebook groups, people talk about how they do it every year because they ultimately fall back into old habits. Will this help if you are committed to making a major change? Absolutely. Will I do the Reset again? Probably not, although there are a few recipes I continue to use. I would recommend this to anyone that is looking to get some help in making a major dietary change or someone who wants to challenge themselves with dietary discipline. It’s akin do doing Whole 30 or something similar. You are going to change your diet and restrict many things you normally eat for a set period of time.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 – I ate breakfast according to the plan but I ate a leftover FitLife lunch and instead of salmon according to the menu, I made a piece of salmon I had in the freezer. I also had a protein shake for an afternoon snack. Otherwise, I took all the supplements and water according to the timing required. I forgot that the Power Greens you take in the afternoon are a little gross but I think I added too much water to this blend so there was more to drink! I did 20 minutes of yoga and had a great night sleep without melatonin or any sleep aids.
Day 2 – I ate everything according to plan: oatmeal & blueberries for lunch, salad with chicken & pine nuts for lunch, a shake for a snack and Southwest veggie tacos for dinner. This is almost too much to eat for dinner and I am not able to finish it all. This dinner is one of my favorites and one I will repeat this week. I had a little headache throughout the day and I was so tired. Like laying on the couch not wanting to do anything tired.
Day 3 – Eggs, spinach & toast for breakfast, salad with pine nuts and miso soup for lunch, berries and yogurt with cinnamon for snack and the veggie taco again for dinner. You are allowed to repeat meals within the week you are in so I am definitely taking advantage of that! Tonight, I was able to finish the whole taco! I wasn’t tired today but did have a headache off and on throughout the day. I also did 30 minutes of yoga.
Day 4 – I slept terribly last night and woke up with a headache but it went away quickly once I drank some water in the morning. I repeated breakfast and lunch but missed my snack because of work meetings. I also had a lot of back pain today, like you feel when you are sitting too long. I remember I had this pain last time I did the reset and I think it has something to do with your kidneys working hard. Stirfry, quinoa and a sweet potato for dinner will make up for the missed snack.
Day 5 – I slept a lot better but the back pain was pretty intense. Upon waking and moving around, it felt better but I still utilized a heating pad through the day to help, especially since I had a lot of Zoom meetings today. Other than that, I felt great and the meals were really good. I ate mostly from the Reset in a Crunch list today. I had yogurt, oatmeal and berries for breakfast, a salad and miso soup for lunch, a shake for a snack and stir fry, brown rice and more miso soup for dinner (the actual day 5 dinner). I skipped the Nori Gomasio because I could never find the seaweed needed for the recipe, but that was minor. I ended the day with some yoga. (I am really enjoying the Apple Fitness app and will write a review down the road when I test out some more workouts.)
Day 6 – Still sleeping great but still having a little back pain so the heating pad worked well today. I repeated the oatmeal, berries, yogurt breakfast, had soup and salad for lunch again and repeated the veggie taco for dinner. No yoga today because I just decided to rest.
Day 7 – Last day of Phase 1 and I am feeling a clarity of mind and body I haven’t felt in a while. The back pain is gone and I’m feeling really good. I switched up my breakfast and had a chocolate protein shake (my preferred brand is Shakeology) with strawberries and it really tasted like chocolate covered strawberries. I always just mix my shakes with water. I’ve never been a big fan of milk in the shakes. Not sure why. I repeated yesterdays lunch and dinner for ease and fit that 30 minute yoga session in as well.
Day 8 – Beginning of Phase 2 – Release. Release changes the supplements a bit where it is adding in a Detox drink before each meal. It actually has a pleasant taste and it much easier to drink than the power greens! We also start cutting down on protein a bit. For breakfast, I had a giant plate of fruit. Today, I had pears, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries which surprisingly kept me full until lunch. I kept the same salad and miso soup but dinners are going to be more heavy on the veggies from now on. So today’s dinner was brown rice with pinto beans, steamed zucchini and green beans with lemon. I’ve been skipping the snack for the last several day because the meals are keeping me full and I just wasn’t hungry for an afternoon snack. I’m getting more consistent with the yoga but I actually did it in the morning today to ensure I fit it in. In case you were wondering about weight status, I am down a total of 5 pounds so far.
Day 9 – This plan is really becoming a habit now and it doesn’t feel restrictive at all. My daughter ordered lunch from Panera today and I wasn’t even slightly tempted to add on my favorite cookie! Instead, I had 1/2 serving of the pinto beans and rice from last night and a salad (in addition to my fruit breakfast). The salad recipe today called for toasted pumpkin seeds. I couldn’t find raw pumpkin seeds and the store so I purchased some already toasted. They tasted really good just out of the bag but putting them on the salad was a total fail – it just didn’t taste right. Next time, I will just eat these on the side (because I am definitely repeating the pinto beans again). For dinner, I was supposed to eat this homemade sweet potato bisque. My plan was to buy an organic sweet potato soup but of course the store was out of it. I instead substituted a butternut squash soup that was vegan. This was paired with some asparagus roasted with a small bit of olive oil and salt topped with almonds. This was by far one of my favorite veggies by far and one I will definitely keep around. Yes, I did my yoga but because of my terrible WiFi, the first session froze so I finished with a 10 minutes session so it wasn’t as satisfying as I was hoping for. I plan to make up for it tomorrow!
Day 10 – Almost halfway through. This isn’t feeling like I’m denying myself anything because the food is so good, but it could just be that I was definitely ready for it. In the Facebook groups, people are already dreaming about their Day 22 meals. The program recommends that you to the Refresh in reverse or at the very least to ease back into caffeine, animal proteins and alcohol. My plan is to do a full week of FitLife meals before going back into fully cooking for myself, just to keep on track. Anyway, Day 10 started off with the chocolate and strawberries shake. I had a salad with cucumber and some butternut squash soup. For dinner, I had a favorite: stir fried veggies with liquid aminos and a sweet potato. I also did 30 minutes of yoga.
Days 11, 12 & 13 – Fruit for breakfast, my salad and miso soup for lunch, shake and strawberries for a snack and a repeat of the stir fry for dinner. I miss the brown rice in the stir fry these past few days so I added it instead of the potato on Day 12 and have pinto beans and rice on Day 13 instead. 30 minutes of yoga both days.
Day 14 – Fruit for breakfast, Leftover pinto beans and rice for lunch and stir fry with rice for dinner. I skip the snack but fit in 30 minutes of yoga. End of Phase 2 – DOwn
Day 15 – Beginning of Phase 3, which means mostly fruit and vegetables. Fruit for breakfast and this is a huge plate of fruit! A salad with avocado and sunflower seeds on the side for lunch. No yoga today but the hip pain I’ve been feeling for years from running isn’t there today for the first time that I can remember. We end up staying the night at Disney and I forget my supplements so nothing tonight and tomorrow through dinner. We go to an all you can eat place but I stick with mostly veggies and salmon. I do have a cookie and a glass of wine, which ends up giving me a huge headache the next day.
Day 16 – Breakfast at Disney of pineapple, coffee and a mini Mickey waffle with peanut butter. For lunch, I cave because of my headache and get some Mongolian beef with broccoli and rice and nibble on an egg roll. For a snack, I pick a yogurt parfait with berries. I ended up skipping dinner because of the wine headache! No yoga but we did walk almost 20k steps around Epcot. I did drink the Power Greens when we got home around 6:30 and went straight to bed.
Day 17 – Back on the Refresh fully. Fruit for breakfast, salad with avocado and pumpkin seeds for lunch, 1/2 a shake and strawberries (1/2 shake is recommended in phase 3 to cut down on the protein) and stir fry, sweet potato and miso soup for lunch. I still have a headache from the wine two days ago, although it comes and goes throughout the day. I decide to do 45 minutes of yoga hoping to banish the headache through sweat. It doesn’t work.
Day 18: This is the first day I’m really feeling over it but I think it has more to do with my choice of being repetitive with the meals rather than the Reset itself. Maybe it was eating “regular food” on Saturday or the two-day headache from one glass of wine but I’m really looking forward to being done. I’m already planning some meals from Week 1, especially that veggie taco!
Days 19 & 20: I’m basically eating the same thing every day: Fruit, then salad and miso soup and ending with stir fry. Most days I am fitting in 1/2 a shake for a snack, some with strawberries, some without. Yoga has been a great addition, although I only fit in 10 minutes on Day 20.
Days 21 – Finally! I am so happy to be done that I actually add some shrimp in with my stir fry tonight. I also do the first workout of a new program instead of yoga but do incorporate stretching at night. It was nice to get in a good heavy workout and lift weights again.
Days 22 onward: I went back to Week 1 for my breakfast and lunch recipes, eating eggs and wheat toast for breakfast and making the Southwest taco into a rice bowl for lunch. I met some friends out for dinner so I ate a burger a little quicker than I planned but left out the bun and fries and instead ate brussel sprouts and beet humus. Instead of FitLife Foods, we started ordering from Hungry Root, which I will write more about later. I am more mindful about my fruit and vegetable intake, where I could easily not eat either on any given day. I plan for healthier snacks and overall feel really good!
This is a new, easy breakfast which is perfect on those busy mornings.
My daughter loves a good Eggo waffle but I used to shy away from them because they weren’t “nutritious.” I was late to the game discovering protein waffles. There are mixes and frozen and if you look online, tons of great recipes filled with protein and fiber.
For this breakfast, I am using Kodiak blueberry frozen waffles. Kodiak is widely available and come in many varieties. I also like Birch Benders frozen waffles, but so far I have only found them at Whole Foods. For 2 waffles, Kodiak has a bit more calories and a gram more of protein but 11 or 12 grams of protein puts protein waffles on the same level as 2 eggs!
To complete the meal, I drizzle a little maple syrup, add fresh berries and then a dollop of whip cream on the top. This meal is around 350 calories. For macros, it’s 51% carbs, 35% fat and 14% protein. For comparison, 2 eggs, 1 slice of Killer Dave’s wheat toast and the same berries would be 304 calories (44% carbs, 33% fat, 23% protein). Adding butter to the toast overtakes the waffles in calories but makes it almost the same macros.
So don’t fear a sweet treat for breakfast and check out some high protein options!
For those mornings I don’t have a lot of time (which is most lately), I premake these egg muffins. They are super easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you prefer.
For these, I beat two eggs and pour them individually into a muffin tin that I prepared with some cooking spray. I do this for portion control but if it’s easier, you can just beat 12 eggs in a large bowl and pour into a six-muffin tin. I also added chopped tomatoes, chopped veggie sausage, chopped spinach and a pinch of shredded cheese into each.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F. I test mine with a toothpick to make sure they are cooked firmly. Let them cool and then refrigerate. While I reheat mine in the microwave before eating, my husband often grabs them right out of the fridge.
I promise one of these days I will do another non-breakfast recipe!
My omelet is two pasture raised eggs, one vegetarian sausage and a pinch of cheddar cheese. I bought this egg cooker from Amazon, which is amazing. While my omelet is cooking, I steam my zucchini and season with salt and pepper. For my carb, today I ate half of a Killer Davie’s Bloomin’ Berry bagel but I also add sprouted wheat bread or a veggie muffin. Depending on how hungry I am, I may add some grapes or berries as well. I often eat those right after my workout so they are sort of a pre-breakfast and then eat this breakfast 30 minutes after that.
I’m actually surprised at how much I am enjoying zucchini for breakfast. I used to add steamed spinach but never loved that as part of my breakfast. If I am ever not very hungry, I may add spinach or broccoli to the omelet to get those macros in!
I recently started a new job and am remembering how to juggle everything again. One thing that has helped me through is meal kits. There are so many now days to choose from, how do you decide?
There are a bunch of meal services out there. We previously used Hello Fresh, which definitely made life easier, but eventually stopped after we started gaining weight because of the high caloric and carb content of the meals. This was several years ago and I know that Hello Fresh has added lower calorie meals to their menu since then. Another downside is many of the recipes took multiple pots and pans to complete so the cleanup took as long as the cooking! A good thing is that you could choose which meals you wanted each week and pause the service if you were traveling or didn’t need it. There are many services like this, many which offer vegetarian and other specialized types of meals.
There are also meal kits where the food is completely cooked. We used FitLife foods until my Husband grew tired of microwaving dinner every night. They had a wide variety of foods (and three different sizes) but it was still something you had to heat up. FitLife also offers free diet and health coaching, which was a nice added plus. One I have wanted to try is Trifecta, which makes meal plans with carefully balanced macronutrients and is used by many athletes. These precooked meals are still much better than something from the frozen foods section.
Even the grocery stores have gotten into the game during the pandemic. This week we purchased three meals kits from Fresh Market: Chicken Marsala, Szechuan Shrimp and Thai Coconut Chicken. All three were very flavorful, took 15-20 minutes to prepare, only needed one pan and had a good balance of protein, veggies and carbs although I did add more broccoli to the mix each night. The X factor with these recipes are the sauces, which don’t have a measurable macronutrient, carb or calorie count to them. I didn’t worry about it too much since it’s a small amount.
Many of these plans offer free delivery as well as discounts for your first order. There are so many others out there that I didn’t mention, so let me know if there’s a meal delivery company or meal kit that you loved (or hated!) Hopefully, you can save some time in your meal prep without blowing your nutrition plan!
Carbs are almost a dirty word in todays society. There are just about as many no or low carb diets as there are carbs themselves! Whether you did Atkins or South Beach decades ago or you are keto now, some people swear by the no-carb life.
I was watching the Netflix show Down to Earth with Zac Efron. While they were eating pasta in Italy, Zac mentioned that when he was filing the movie Baywatch, he didn’t eat any carbs. The carb-filled diet of the centenarians in the town they were visiting was the opposite of what any trainer had told him. His diet made a lot of news at the time but he also said it made him crazy and even depressed. I know competitors in fitness competitions carb cycle in the weeks before to enhance their physique. I have never thought of a no or low carb diet to be sustainable long-term.
The problem with cutting out all carbs is that some carbs are good for you. Following a balanced macronutrient diet, like I do, carbs can account for 50% of your diet! (I am usually between 40-50% each day). Carbs provide you with glucose for fuel and fiber for digestion. They also help to keep you full and satisfied so you aren’t tempted to over-eat on unhealthy foods.
We also try and watch carbs in our house because we have two people with Type 1 Diabetes, which is a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is needed to break down glucose into fuel. Type 1 Diabetes has no known cause or cure. Although people with Type 1 Diabetes can eat whatever they want, they must inject insulin to “cover” the amount of carbs they eat or drink.
How do you choose which carbs to eat? In our house, we know that most cereals or refined/processed carbs are going to spike blood sugar levels. Same with fruit juices or sugary sodas. I look at these types of carbs as empty calories. I prefer whole grain bread to white bread. There are low-carb or vegetable pastas, even cauliflower rice (although we eat plenty of brown rice).
Some people avoid fruits because they contained carbs. I avoid fruit juice because it only has the carbs but the fiber has been stripped away. We eat a lot of berries, apples and pineapple. Also good are melons and oranges.
In reality, there are many ways to reduce bad carbs still eating the foods you love. Using some of the carb substitutes mentioned above is one way. If you season your cauliflower rice correctly, you can make it tasty, I promise! I have a spiralizer to make zucchini pasta, although there are plenty of options at the grocery store. Even a burger or sandwich can be lower carb by removing the top bun or piece of bread or putting it over a salad. I promise you, as I write earlier, a taco over a salad is still delicious!
For those of you using the Ultimate Portion Fix container list, I usually have whole grain toast as one of my containers. Other popular carbs are sweet potato, black or kidney beans, lentils, brown or wild rice and quinoa. Of course, when you have a glass of wine or beer, that counts as a yellow container, so plan accordingly!
Also, check out this article from the My Fitness Pal blog about the top myths about carbs.
Don’t forget to check out some of my recipes that are filled with good carbs, including cheesecake! Keep checking back for more delicious recipes and let me know if there’s a particular food you would like to see a healthy carb version of!
A great summer grilling recipe that comes in just over 200 calories per serving and has tons of flavor!
Cut 1lb of raw chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Put it in a reusable bag or container with 1/4 reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 2 tsp. of grated fresh ginger and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I don’t always have ginger on hand so it’s not essential to the recipe. I also usually end up making more than 1 pound of chicken, which is completely fine. Just adjust the amount of sauces (i.e.) 2 pounds of chicken should have 1/2 cup soy sauce and 4 tsp. of sesame oil. Don’t forget to cut a few more vegetables as well.
Cut up 1-2 bell peppers and 1/2 a red onion into kabob size pieces. Take those pieces, your chicken and a can of pineapple chunks and alternate them on to a bamboo skewer until there are two of each of the ingredients on each skewer. (I actually fit three of each ingredient but when you are factoring portion size, calculate 2 skewers with 2 ingredients each for the portion size.) Throw those on the grill and you are good to go.
Each serving is 214 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 carbs and 26 grams of protein. For Ultimate Portion Fix, the container counts are 1/2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 red and 1/2 spoon. You can add some brown rice for 1 yellow if desired.
A cheesecake with only 244 calories that tastes like one with 1000 calories? It’s possible and this one was a favorite with everyone! When I make these again, I am going to skip the jam and just add more mixed berries to the top. So easy and amazingly delicious!