Simple Swaps for Dinner, Drinks, Desserts!

Man, the gym has been a dream this week. Like literally a dream- we’ve been so exhausted and comfy cozy in bed I have only made it once plus my SoulCycle class. 5 AM is not normal to wake up!! I need to figure out a schedule that works for my body. My gym buddy hasn’t exactly been the most motivating either…

This weekend will definitely mean time in the gym and we’re laying relatively low anyways after our last weekend. I did get to enjoy time with my sorority alumnae group yesterday at a brewery- they also brew kombucha! So since I’m still in “I never want to see alcohol again” mode, that is what a took part in. It was delicious!

Now onto the simple swaps you can make whether you are eating out for dinner or cooking at home, as well as swaps for drinks and desserts that accompany your meal!

  • We know deep fried foods are bad right? Like you shouldn’t REALLY be eating anything fried- french fries, corn dogs, etc. Look for “pan-fried” on menus or cook food yourself in a skillet with a little health EVOO (that is extra virgin olive oil for you noobs).
  • This is something I need to work on, but if you have access to local produce via farmer’s markets you should take advantage! They have less preservatives and potentially more health benefits than veggies you get at the supermarket.
  • This is one of my favorite swaps because I always have Greek yogurt on hand! Instead of sour cream on your Mexican food (or anything that calls for it)- sub Greek yogurt. It has more protein and less fat, plus healthy bacteria for your gut. I swear, you will not be able to taste the difference.
  • Whole grain swaps are so easy- no more white rice or white pasta. It’s all brown rice and whole-wheat pasta from here on out! I try to not even order rice or pasta when out to eat because they normally don’t have these options. And when you are eating pasta? White sauce is a no go- there are so many extra calories that come with all that cream. Marinara sauce or another tomato based sauce is your best choice.
  • Eating out? You do not have to end up in a food coma! Get a doggy bag to go- this is something that I do struggle with and need to get better at. Reminding myself of how bad I feel after stuffing myself at a meal should help.
  • Asian food on the menu? Give the chopsticks a chance! They will slow you down way more than eating with a fork. It will help with that speed-eating habit.
  • Trying to cool down in the summer with popsicles for dessert? Try sticking grapes in the freezer- they really do come out tasting like mini popsicles. They’re very satisfying and have way less sugar and more health benefits!
  • Soda fiend? Well STOP IT. I gave up soda for Lent in high school once and have never looked back! If you must get that carbonation from somewhere, swap it for sparkling water or flavored sparkling water. But watch out- too much sparkling water can damage your teeth (so can soda for that matter), so keep it to under 1 or 2 servings a day. Also- if you are reaching for an energy drink- just stop. The chemicals and sugar in them are crazy. Take a power nap instead.
  • Alcohol on the agenda? Red wine or beer is a better choice than a sugary cocktail- especially a margarita. Honestly, since I only really enjoy vodka or tequila cocktails, they all end up tasting the same. I’d much rather have a really good glass of wine. They tend to be cheaper as well!

I shouldn’t have to say this but I will- now that we are wrapping up swaps for our three meals a day, please eat three meals a day! Plus snacks! If you skip meals and just snack throughout the day, you will end up feeling unfocused, tired, cranky, and no one wants to be around someone like that! Also, if you’re just grazing throughout the day instead of sitting down and focusing on a well-prepared meal or snack, you will consume more calories than you think.

Some other tips that I think help when it comes to food-

  • Never grocery shop on an empty stomach (it’s a recipe for disaster)
  • If you find yourself reaching for comfort food (for me, it’s ice cream) or emotionally eating, check in with yourself for just 5 minutes. Meditate a little- dim the lights, close your eyes, clear your mind, and ask yourself who or what is driving this urge for comfort. Maybe you just need to go for a walk, maybe you need to call a friend, maybe you need a nice long hot shower. But that check-in could be all you need to not slip down a 1,000 calorie path. If you can’t get on board with the whole “meditation” thing, try journaling. When you’re a couple cookies deep, pull out a notebook and write down what you’re thinking about. Not only is it distracting but you may realize the void you are trying to fill can be filled in other ways.
  • Skip the plastic silverware at home- even if you have take-out, use your fancy stuff and you may be more aware of what you’re eating and slow down because you’re not in a rush at a fast-food place.
  • Remember- everything in moderation. If I deprive myself, I binge. So giving myself the leeway to indulge on vacation, have dessert or alcohol every so often (but not all the time), keeps me trim. TREAT YO’ SELF!

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon, strawberries, and protein powder

Coffee at work

Snack- almonds

Lunch- salad

Green tea

Snack- Apple with 2 string cheese sticks

Snack- KIND bar

Dinner- leftover casserole and some pineapple. 2 Kombuchas at Lenny Boy Brewing. 

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Alternative desserts

Has everyone cranked up their spice factor?? I dumped a bunch of Sriracha on my stir-fry last night and I definitely felt the burn!!

So today, we are going to discuss an alternative to eating chocolate every day. Let’s be real- while it is definitely something that fits in with a healthy lifestyle, sometimes you need to do just a little bit more to ditch those last few pounds or to supercharge your weight loss in the beginning. Even just cutting 10 calories a day can add up to weight loss, so this is an easy swap. Also, now that you’re (hopefully) only treating yourself with that chocolate at night, your cravings have gone down for other desserts! This is all part of the plan 🙂

So what can you have after dinner instead that will still satisfy that sweet tooth? Fruit! Fruit naturally is high in sugar and has that sweet taste that many of us desire after a meal. But because it’s a fruit and not a processed sweet, it also has beneficial uses to our body like fiber and potassium which helps us lose bloat by flushing out excess sodium and reducing water retention. Certain fruits, like pineapple and papaya, have enzymes that ease digestion by breaking down proteins so it moves through your system faster, which can also decrease bloating- all the more reason to end your meal with them! I have a feeling that once I get back from NYC I will need all the help I can get, so I will be switching out my chocolate stash for a fruit one!

It’s almost Friday everyone- what do ya’ll have planned for the weekend??

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- oatmeal made with unsweetened almond milk topped with a spoonful of tahini, two chopped dates, some pecans, cinnamon and a tsp of maple syrup

Coffe

Mid-morning snack- apple & 2 tbs peanut butter

Lunch- salad

Mid-afternoon snack- Greek yogurt with strawberries & flax

Dinner- pork, broccoli, cabbage and zucchini stirfry, half the 180 cal dark chocolate bar and 2 glasses of Pinot Noir

 

 

Adult breakfast or child’s dream?

Happy Monday! Just kidding. What Monday is happy? Did everyone have a fantastic weekend? Mine was the perfect mix of social, relaxing, and productive- plus I got two workouts in!

Now it’s back to the grind- but still packing lunch, writing down what I eat, eating chocolate, drinking wine, smelling my food (anyone else slightly struggling with this??), taking a break from the gym a couple of days a week and having a gym buddy, all while losing weight! What’s next? OK, this one is a controversial one but hear me out- have dessert at breakfast.

Now, notice I’m not saying have dessert FOR breakfast. But apparently there is science that backs the idea that if you have a big breakfast, which includes protein and carbs, along with dessert, you will lose weight. Now, the reason behind this is because in the morning is when your metabolism is at  its peak so you’re better off burning calories versus having dessert after dinner, when your metabolism is slowing down before bed (so you can’t have it both ways). If you cut out sweets entirely, you end up craving them (which is why we eat chocolate daily, right!?) and there becomes a cycle of addiction.

I repeat: the key here is to indulge in the morning, when the body’s metabolism is at its most active and we are better able to work off the extra calories throughout the day. Attempting to avoid sweets entirely can create a psychological addiction to these same foods in the long-term and if you add dessert items to breakfast, that can alleviate cravings throughout the rest of the day. As many of us know, if you restrict a bunch of foods, you’ll likely fall off the wagon and overindulge, putting all that weight back on. With this, you’re more satisfied and full as a result and you don’t crave sugar and carbs, causing you to cheat on your diet. This goes along with everything else I’ve been saying- in order to adopt a healthy eating LIFESTYLE it must be realistic and fit in with the rest of your life!

 

So I’m not saying to go eat a giant cupcake every morning with your eggs. But, when faced with a high calorie treat, you’re better off consuming it in the morning than you are later in the day- something to keep in mind when an office birthday rolls around! Hm…maybe I should be having my chocolate squares in the morning then??

Let me know if you guys try this out and what your results are! I for one will be eagerly awaiting the next time I get to try this.

Yesterday’s food journal

Breakfast- 2 whole-wheat waffles with peanut butter and a banana

Lunch- 2 spicy black bean veggie burgers on a 100 calorie whole wheat English muffin with 2 part-skim mozzerella sticks as the “cheese” (I ran out of shredded!)

Dinner- Chicken with bacon, roasted Brussels sprouts and half a sweet potato with leftover garlic lemon mayo. 2 dark chocolate squares and 2 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon

Fall Things

So Autumn in Austin is crazy different than the Northeast- and not just because its still 80 degrees in November. There’s no fall foliage and there isn’t apple picking unless you want to drive 6 hours- the horror! To make up for the lack of apple picking (and therefore the lack of apple cider and apple cider donuts), I dragged the BF to Barton Hill Farms for pumpkin picking and a corn maze.

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This place is ideal if you have children- which we do not. There are tons of activities for them. But we still had fun, playing corn hole, listening to the live band, getting lost in the corn maze, and picking out our pumpkins (however, they are not in a field, they are pre-picked). Oh and the barnyard animals! Come on, seeing little squealing pigs is always fun.

Pigs

Despite the lack of fresh picked apples, I was not going to be deterred from making apple-based deliciousness. However, I’m trying to be as healthy as possible so I found this recipe for a low-cal version of apple pie- apple pie trifles (from Dashing Dish) that legit took ten minutes to make (just cut the apple pieces fairly small). It was awesome and got the BF’s seal of approval despite him not being the biggest sweets fan.

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Other notes:

  • If you actually get large apples, I only needed 3 to make the 4 trifles
  • I used agave as the sweetener
  • I didn’t have pumpkin pie spice, so I doubled the cinnamon
  • I didn’t add any extra sweetener
  • I cheated and used Cool Whip (my grocery store is a little less than health-focused)
  • I used crushed low-fat graham crackers as the cookie layer

For the first big fall holiday (Halloween obviously), we carved the pumpkins we got at Barton Hill Farms. At first, we weren’t going to pick up kits- we were just going to go at them with knives and pretty basic designs. But the kits were super cheap at Wal-Mart and I’m glad we did. If you’re carving two pumpkins at the same time, definitely get a double kit or else it won’t be very fun waiting for the tools. We also both attempted pretty intricate designs- I did an owl (my sorority’s mascot) and he did a Day of the Dead sugar skull. I was always so intimidated by these kinds of designs but as long as you have some patience it’s not so bad! Our biggest rookie mistake- we carved them way too early (due to friend visits and his business travel plans). The humidity in Texas (coupled with a couple crazy storms) sped up the process. Next year, I will definitely be using bleach to make them last longer!

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The last Halloween DIY I subjected the poor BF to was also Halloween related- making our costumes! We decided to go as Andy and Brandon from The Goonies- a movie we both love and grew up with. His costume was pretty simple- and mine just included some cutting of felt and gluing! Voila- a comfortable, cute, and not-slutty Halloween costume.

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Stay tuned for more fall fun- I plan on making some more low-cal (and not) treats, subjecting the BF to more fun fall dates, surviving Thanksgiving without gaining weight, and navigating my way through my new ATX life (in my new car!)

Housewarming!

As another weekend starts, I am finally able to recap the last one. It’s a vicious cycle.

Last weekend was a good one. Friday night was spent watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (finally a movie I’ve seen that the BF hasn’t!) and then Saturday we got breakfast tacos at El Chilito before prepping for the event du jour- our housewarming party!

Our housewarming was basically an excuse to show off our new digs to all of the BF’s friends- and to cook even though I knew most people would be coming from dinner. I made watermelon cups with feta and mint (they were a little hard to scoop out without destroying the cube and tasted a little bit meh) and chocolate vodka soaked strawberries (which were a big hit).

Watermelon with feta and mint Chocolate vodka soaked strawberries

But the biggest hit (and something I would highly recommend making) was the Carolina peach sangria. It was polished off by the end of the night- and I doubled the recipe!

Sangria

The biggest bummer was that since our apartment’s management office hadn’t put us in the call-box yet (after 3 requests) the BF kept running up and down escorting guests into the building. But all in all, it was a great night and we ended up at Violet Crown Social Club with their $4 frozen creamsicle drinks (delicious).

Check the napkins (Charming Charlie’s)

Sunday, we got brunch at Arturo’s Bakery & Cafe- a hidden gem on UT’s campus that has delicious migas and eggs benedict (and I will be back to try their French toast!) Then we stumbled upon the BarkHappy Charity Doggy Ice Cream Social right next to our apartment! It was an event benefiting Austin Pets Alive! and Service Dogs Inc. For only $10 per person there was free craft beer (which made the BF happy), a dog ice cream eating contest (which Moxie did not participate in but she did enjoy the free dog ice cream from Amy’s Ice Cream), a K9 agility course, free dog treat buffet, free nail trimming, games, raffles, food trucks, a photo booth, temporary dog tattoos and more! Of course the amount of people and Moxie’s patience limited the amount of things we could do but all in all it was a cool event.

Happy about the grass

Since the humans didn’t get any ice cream, we stopped by Lick for the first time. I got a delicious two scooper of PB&J and Pecans n Cream. Both were to die for but a little icy. I’m eager to get back to try more flavors.

Not sure when I've been more Insta-basic
Not sure when I’ve been more Insta-basic

Posting tomorrow the review of VOX Table where we went for our anniversary. (Spoiler alert: it’s amazing!)