Chicken Salad . . . On A Salad

So today I want to share with you an AWESOME healthy recipe using leftover chicken! I often have leftover shredded chicken hanging out in the fridge that needs to be used up. Today it happened to be a rotisserie chicken that we never got around to eating much of. Whether you used leftover chicken or cook it fresh to use (or use canned) this recipe is a healthy version of your typical deli chicken salad!

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Basically I used this recipe but modified it. And, by modify I mean not measuring anything, using green onions instead of regular onions, and adding a few dashes of curry powder. Other than that, I just chopped everything up and added an amount that looked good!!!

063I started by pulling all the extra meat off the rotisserie chicken and chopping it up into small pieces.

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Put a large dollop of Greek Yogurt on top!

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Add your onions, apple, grapes, almonds, cranberries, salt & pepper, garlic powder, and any other spices you want!

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Mix it all up! Add more Greek yogurt, or lemon juice, or spices/seasonings to get the texture you want.

Now, here comes the best part, especially if you need a healthy alternative to the mediums Chicken Salad is normally served on. I LOVE croissants. In fact, it was difficult to pass them up at the grocery store today knowing I was making Chicken Salad for tonight. But, croissants are not the healthiest option, despite how delicious they may be. I also didn’t want to eat a too many carbs for dinner tonight and use another type of bun/bread/roll, so i decided to put my Chicken Salad on top of salad!!! I have never done that before, but paired with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread topped with a slather of Brummel & Brown spread made it a perfect healthy dinner!

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So YUMMY!!!!

There are SO many ways you can use Greek yogurt as an alternative to certain ingredients (like mayonnaise). Greek yogurt is what makes this Chicken Salad unique and delicious! I may have added a lot of apple and grape, but that is because I love apple and grape! You can add whatever else you want to your chicken salad to spice it up (celery, various seeds, veggies, hard-boiled egg, etc.) to fit your taste and or macros.

And . . . the other reason I wanted a healthier dinner was to make room for this:

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Leftover carrot cake from last night! Enjoy!

Phase 2: Eating Healthy & Fresh Food Grocery Haul

3 months.

14 weeks.

Plus or minus 90 days.

And baby girl is going to be here!!! And no, we haven’t decided on a name yet. That probably won’t happen until we see her cute, wrinkly little face.

On that note, at my last Dr. appointment I had another reality check regarding my lack of enthusiasm in the healthy eating department. I’ve gained almost all the weight you’re supposed to when pregnant, but still have a trimester to go. And last week I decided I needed to make a change! Not only for me, but for baby girl.

I know you don’t want to hear my excuses because they are lame. The bottom line is I was so frustrated with my situation (see my last post) that I just didn’t care. And there I was buying things at the grocery store that I NEVER buy. Even my husband was wondering what was up, and he came out and told me to stop using pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I told him I wasn’t. Perhaps I was in denial.

So, today started phase two of my “deal with this situation, and make the most of it”, and that is cleaning up my eating! For those of you who have followed my blog . . . you know I’ve done meal planning & macro tracking and both of those things require you to count & track your calories, meet your daily macro goals (the amount of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber you need to eat), and to choose healthier alternatives to all the junk that is out there. THIS TIME I am not going to be tracking anything πŸ™‚ But don’t you worry, I’ve got a plan. In the rest of this post I am going to cover three things:

1. My plan

2. Execution of said plan + fresh food grocery shopping tips

3. Display of my $100 fresh food grocery haul!!!

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My plan is simple. Though I’m not tracking anything, I am choosing to eat only fresh fruit & veggies, meats, complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread & other baked goods, pasta, etc.), and other staples like greek yogurt, cheese in moderation, eggs, almond milk, etc. On a daily basis I am cutting out simple carbs, and sugary foods and will reserve those for my “treat” day, in which I can eat whatever foods I want, including treats, during one meal only (not the entire day).

But, I get to eat as much as I want of all that good food, but will focus more on the practice of Intuitive Eating. Basically, I can eat whatever I want when I am hungry, but to stop when I am satisfied or full. You can check out more about this book here! I decided that for me, right now, meal tracking or hitting my macro goals isn’t the best option for a ton of reasons I won’t go into.Β  But, giving myself the option to eat whatever I want choosing from healthier options! Pretty simple, ya?

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I want to start of with some tips, because really, this is how you execute a plan like this.

  1. Don’t buy it – Can’t eat it:Β Basically, don’t put those unwanted food items into your grocery cart. Don’t even putΒ  them in there if you’re indecisive about it and think you will make the best decision at check out – you’ll end up buying it. If unwanted food items don’t go into your cart, they don’t go through checkout, and they don’t end up in your cupboard, or on the counter, or in the fridge/freezer to stare you down when a craving kicks in.
  2. Don’t shop hungry: I know, I know, everyone has said this at least 3-4 times to another person or to themselves. But it is SO true. In fact, I was super hungry before my grocery trip today, and I knew in order for it to be a success and in line with my new plan, I needed to eat first. So I did, and guess what, I did not pick up a single item that was not on my list and I did not go over budget (except for that one item I actually forgot to put on my list – greek yogurt). I was not swayed by the cookie aisle, or the cracker aisle, or heaven help the ice-cream aisle.
  3. Don’t go down that aisle: Seriously! Don’t go down those aisles that contain all those unwanted foods. I avoid the ice-cream aisle because that is my weakness. Really, the only time I am ever in the frozen section is for veggies and berries. I would rather not have to look at all the rows of ice-cream and goΒ  through another debate in my head of why I did or didn’t need that treat.
  4. Make a list: Make a list, only put healthy items on there or your planned food items, and stick to that list. Period. (Unless, like me, you forget to put a healthy item on that list in the first place, like Greek Yogurt. Then that is ok.)
  5. Shop the fresh food sales: Find out what your grocery store is having a sale on for produce and only buy those things! That is how I determine what fresh fruits and veggies we will eat for the week and I go Pinterest crazy to find recipes to coincide with said fruit and veggies. But, don’t stop there! Today Albertson’s was having a sale on chicken breast at $1.59 a pound. Call me crazy, but I was only allowed to buy 10 pounds, and I bought 10 pounds. Now, that is more than we’ll eat in a week, probably even two weeks, but dang, you can’t beat chicken at that price! I may go back later this week for more!
  6. Farmer’s Market: So, I live in Southern California where Farmer’s Markets are practically year round. I checked out a local one last week, and was planning shop there this week, but didn’t due to being out-of-town over the weekend, needing to restock with limited time to do it. BUT, how can you resist all that fresh produce at a farmer’s market? Go CRAZY! Buy all that good stuff that looks fun to eat. Buy something you’ve never tried before & Pinterest a recipe for it! Great deals, great produce, healthy you!
  7. Prep: One day I am going to devote a post or two to food preparation, because it is that legit. When you get your bulk chicken home, this is the time to freeze some, cut up some, and marinate some for a future meal. I am the type of person that likes to cook a staple food (like chicken – can you tell I eat a lot of chicken?) in bulk to use throughout the week. I throw it in my crock pot with some seasoning and spice and maybe some marinade or other fun flavors, shred once cooked, and store for 2-3 days to eat during the week in various different meals. You can do this with any type of meat (can you also tell how important, I think, protein is in your diet?) and use in any type of meal. A couple weeks ago I made some crock-pot Italian chicken. Throughout the week I used that chicken to make Hawaiian haystacks, bbq pineapple chicken sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, and some type of chicken pasta dish. There was also some leftover for whatever else we wanted to eat! Fresh fruits and veggies are so easy to prep and to throw into a meal. I also like to cut up my favorite snacking veggies so they are easy to grab out of the fridge when I’m feeling the munchies.
  8. Don’t Throw Away Food: And what I mean by this is don’t throw away those unwanted food items already in your house. Some people recommend a complete purge, but I come from a family that taught me not to waste and not to throw away food. If that doesn’t bother you, then by all means, toss the junk – see #1. But, for those of you who don’t want to throw away those foods, or maybe it is your kid’s or spouse’s favorite and they would be mad at you if you did throw it away, here is what I do. I’ll be honest and tell you I have cereal, chocolate chips, some crackers, and a few other packaged goods hiding in my cupboards.Β  I don’t keep a ton of food on hand, since there are only two of us right now, and I have habits that have kept my pantries clean for the most part. So, even if I did purge my pantry, I wouldn’t be throwing out much. I am going to save those unwanted foods for my treat meal, and I also like to hide them (do it the morning of a busy day so you forget that you did hide it) because I forget quite easily (pregnancy-brain), and keep them out of plain site. If I do really want one of those treats, I mentally ask myself why I want it, if i’m really hungry, and if there is a healthier alternative that would satiate that desire. Put up reminder notes to question yourself until you can do it off-hand. Ask yourself if you can save it for your treat meal – and chances are you won’t even want it then.
  9. Enjoy: I plan on enjoying all of my food and being happy with the choices I am making. I plan on eating a variety of healthy foods and getting the most nutrition from those foods to fuel my body, and keep baby girl growing strong and healthy.

 

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I, like most people, have a budget for groceries. Otherwise I would spend way too much $$ and a lot would probably go to waste. I often have to put back things I wanted, or decide between two items, which can be a healthy exercise for your self-discipline. Anyways, everything pictured here I got for just over $100. And I want to show you all the healthy fresh food you can get for that much! And, this will probably last Sam and I at least one to one and a half weeks.

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Ok, so maybe it doesn’t look like much, but it is! Not pictured is 5 lbs of chicken & some steak that I already put in the fridge. Here is a list of everything pictured and I have put a * next to items I don’t normally buy in a weekly shopping trip.

  • Almond milk, eggs, cream cheese*, block of cheddar cheese, chobani yogurts* (I normally buy the plain greek yogurt, but with being pregnant, it is easier for me to have individual cups that I don’t have to add anything to when I need a quick healthy snack. Cream cheese is for a special recipe, recipe unkown as of now, and it was on sale!)
  • 10 lbs chicken breast, 1 lb ground beef, 1-2 pounds steak (love me some meat! We eat a lot of it in this household)
  • Yams, sweet potatoes, mango*, apples, lemons, oranges, cherry tomatoes, mini watermelon*, pineapple*, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, baby spinach/spring greens mix (The starred items in this list are seasonal sales I took advantage of! Love mixing up my fruits and having something new to try)
  • Rice, unsweetened applesauce, olives, canned pineapple, cornstarch* (I like to have both white and brown rice on hand, and my husband drinks applesauce, but I always get the unsweetened kind!)
  • Rotisserie chicken* (this is for when I don’t have time to cook after my grocery shopping. It is nice to have a precooked chicken and you can use rotisserie in SO many things!)

There you have it! With my water bottle hiding in the back πŸ™‚ I drink lots of water. There are no crackers, cookies, cereal, candies, and anything like that in my haul and I am SO proud of myself. There were Cadbury cream eggs at the checkout stand and I had to tell myself no!

Other healthy staples I normally have on hand include: oatmeal, cream of rice, whole wheat flour, pastas, other canned goods, etc.

 

It really isn’t that hard to make the switch to eating healthy fresh foods! You may have to do a little more prepping, cooking, and cleaning, but your body will thank you. I promise.

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I have some exciting things coming up on my blog! I am finally out of my slump and excited for making this all work for me! Next up is a post about Phase 1 – I know you guys thought pregnancy brain had me all confused, but the truth is I started phase 1 last week, continued it today, but am keeping it a surprise until later!!! Check back for that post or subscribe so you know when I have new posts! πŸ™‚

And She’s Back!

I have had so much going on in my head over the last few months. I can foresee a super long blog post . . . but I want to save you from that (because by nature I love to write and I can write a lot!). So, I’m going to break it down here:

*** My vacation home was AWESOME! Not only did I come home .2 pounds lighter, but I was able to manage not eating everything in sight. I did my best to plan and prepare my meals, but really wasn’t too strict about it. I was super surprised to have come home without gaining a pound! Thank you Isobag! I was able to hit the gym a few times I was close to one and did some boot camp style workouts at my family reunion to counteract the carb fest we were having there. Between 4 different states, staying at 6 different places in 3.5 weeks, I’d say I did pretty darn good. I had such a blast visiting all my family, but am so glad to be home now.

My niece and I at the family reunion.

My niece and I at the family reunion.

My siblings and me team-climbing this wall!

My siblings and me team-climbing this wall!

*** My birthday was fantastic! And I am proud to say that I DID NOT eat as many sweets and treats as I had planned. My birthday was about 2.5 months from when I started my 360 Days of No Sugar and you can bet I was creating a list of all the things I wanted to eat on that day, and it was LONG. The treats I had were most definitely fewer but high quality. Yes, I got my ice cream. Yes, I got my Bruges Belgian waffle covered in fresh strawberries, blueberries, and creme fraiche. I also had homemade white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, which was DIVINE. I think there were a few other treats thrown in there, but they were small and inconsequential. All in all . . . I have to say I won. The only thing I didn’t get was my Chic Fil A cookies and cream shake. But, that’s ok . . . November is coming soon!

My birthday waffles at Bruges

My birthday waffles at Bruges

*** This summer I am happy to say I reached one of my goals! For the longest time I have never been 100% satisfied with my body and my physical appearance. I’ve worked really hard over the last year and just a few short months ago I came home from working out and looked in the mirror and felt happy about what I saw FOR THE FIRST TIME. I honestly believe that every woman struggles with her image. And even though we have people close to us constantly tell us how beautiful we are . . . those words don’t truly sink in until we see it and believe it for ourselves. And for me, losing a little fat, gaining strength and muscle helped me get there physically and mentally. It may seem sad, but I am finally comfortable in my own skin because I feel that I am at a place that my body was meant to be. I’ve finally reached my vision of how I always wanted to look. I do not have a competition physique, you can’t see my abs, and I am ok with that right now. I like my body and it feels good, it is empowering, and it has propelled me to work harder in the gym and in the kitchen to continue reaching my next goals.

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*** I have been going 114 days strong. Almost 4 months. Almost 1/3 of a year done with my no sugar challenge! And what a challenge it has been. But, honestly it has gotten easier. I am so glad that I decided to do this since it has opened my eyes to a sustainable way to approach my nutrition habits. Perhaps a little less strict in the future. BUT, my main goal was to see if I could stay away from eating excessive sugar and I have. I am SO glad that I set the perimeter to not eat anything that contained more than 5-6 grams of sugar per serving. Originally I outed foods like Chocolate and ice cream . . . but then I found super healthy alternatives within my guidelines. And that, to me and according to my goals, is not cheating. I found Stevia sweetened chocolate (Stevia is a natural low calorie sweetener – not chemically made), date sugar (which comes from just dates, of which I have yet to use), French jams sweetened with fruit concentrate and are super yummy, super awesome protein ice cream sweetened with stevia by HaloTop, and I have fun with making new recipes courtesy of Jazzy Things (follow her on Instagram & Facebook!).

Protein Pancakes with Halo Top Icecream

Protein Pancakes with Halo Top Icecream

I have found so many ways to make healthy alternatives to my favorite treats, and I really don’t crave them that often. But, when I do I know I am making a better choice than some sugar laced food item. I am always working on improving the recipes to make them taste better (and to increase their protein content). Actually, my secret goal is for these goodies to pass the husband test. If he doesn’t like them its back to the drawing board!

Jazzy Things Pumpkin Choc Chip Protein Bread

Jazzy Things Pumpkin Choc Chip Protein Bread

Blueberry Chia Seed Muffins

Blueberry Chia Seed Muffins

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA . . . But, I am back! I have been working these last 3 weeks on a new training program and nutrition plan and things are going awesome! Life is good.

360 Days & Blueberry Pie

So we have this AMAZING blueberry patch about 10 miles from my house and let’s just say I’ve been there picking blueberries quite frequently. Well, my friend Nanci and I found this one row that had deliciously sweet blueberries. They were SO sweet and I thought to myself what a great pie those blueberries would make.

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BUT

I can’t have pie because it has sugar in it. I thought to myself . . . what if I made a pie without sugar in it? Surely these blueberries were sweet enough by themselves, this could work, couldn’t it? So, I picked and picked until I had way to many blueberries and hustled home to get some in the freezer (ok, I actually didn’t get them in the freezer for a few days) to patiently await their shining moment to be part of the most amazing sugar-free pie ever!

Well that time came this last Sunday. Nanci invited me over on account of both our husbands being busy with studying. And we decided it was time to make that pie. We didn’t put sugar in the crust or in the pie filling. I’m thinking this pie is looking awesome and couldn’t wait for it to get in the oven. We did decide so mash some very sweet pineapple and added about 1/4 cup of the juice to the pie to help with the sweetness factor.

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Into the oven it went and in the meantime we made some banana oatmeal cookies that turned out to be more like banana oatmeal breakfast bars on account of the limited ingredients (bananas and oatmeal). When the pie FINALLY came out of the oven it smelled SOOOO delicious! The filling oozed out a bit so we let it rest and cool before eating. Then we DOVE into that sugar free blueberry pie. And I just want to say that we did not add ANY sugar at all. No white sugar, or brown sugar, or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia, or truvia, or splenda. We didn’t add any of that stuff.

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Sure looks scrumptious. But, looks can be deceiving and they were. We bit into our pie expecting this melt-in-your-mouth buttery dessert and it just did not meet that expectation. AT ALL. We decided that it was more like a breakfast pie, but in order to be a dessert in definitely needed sugar. Too bad for us, that sweet tooth was not satiated.

Lesson learned – a pie without sugar is not dessert. And treat without sugar is not dessert.

Nice try I guess.Β  A girl can dream right? And this is part of my 360 days . . . to experiment with commonly eaten foods and make them healthier! My pie didn’t turn out how my imagination wanted it to be, but hey, at least we tried and now we know! At least the crust turned out all buttery and everything nice like that πŸ™‚

Keep On Keeping On! 24 days STRONG!