the miracle of bulgur

I’m taking Jaime’s lead and posting about healthy grains today. Interested in the protein blast of farro? Check her blog to find a great breakfast option using this nutty alternative to oatmeal or rice.

Alternately, I’ve been working through a mountain of cooked bulgur I scored from Steph’s Oscar party on Sunday night. They had a crazy amount leftover from the deliciously healthy tabbouleh salad, so I offered to use it up in my own kitchen this week. Upon researching I was beyond thrilled to learn that an entire CUP of cooked bulgur only has 150 calories, making it the lowest calorie grain I’ve found yet. (Note: A cup of cooked brown rice has 210 calories.) So far I’ve used it as a warm breakfast grain, stirred into yogurt and tossed with fire roasted tomatoes and parsley for a light lunch. And tomorrow night Eli and I will incorporate bulgur (rather than breadcrumbs) into turkey meatballs.

Here’s what wiki says about bulgur (the USDA does consider it a whole grain – more good news!).

The last portion of my bulgur-tomato-cucumber-parsley-feta salad:

bulgur

30 Day Challenge update: What day are we even on? I’m losing count! Today I pushed back into the 170’s (on my scale, which undoubtedly reads lower than my doctor’s scale, but this is still really good news), and partner Jaime has lost three pounds! We are two very happy gals. ūüôā Curious to hear how my mama’s challenge is going over there in Wisconsin?? Anybody who can limit sweets and booze through that miserable weather is a winner in my book! And cheers to anyone else secretly cutting back on her indulgences… We are with you!

85th Annual Academy Awards

Well folks, another one of Steph’s Oscar parties is in the books. I still can’t believe how over the top she goes – the movie-themed swag bags, mix CD, menu, Oscar-shaped cookies and chocolates, and even a printed picture book of the year’s most handsome leading men – it’s just the best ever.

And my 30 Day Challenge left enough wiggle room to enjoy most of the menu. No boozey cocktails, french wine or mango pie for me this year. But Philly Cheesesteak pizza? Yes, please! Or hushpuppies? YAY! And this year I also contributed with homemade pita bread to pair with the super healthy Tabbouleh salad. I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for these.

pita

Well done Kent and Steph on this outrageously planned spread:

Amour: Vegetable Crudites
Argo: Canadian bacon wrapped dates and “O Canada” cocktail
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Hushpuppies with pepper jelly, shrimp/cocktail sauce and “Hurricane” cocktail
Django Unchained: “Polynesian Pearl Diver” cocktail
Les Miserables: Fromage Fort with baguette and French red wine
Life of Pi: Mango Pie
Lincoln: “Marry Toddy” cocktail
Silver Linings Playbook: Crabby Snacks and Homemades (cheesesteak pizzas)
Zero Dark Thirty: Tabbouleh, hummus, pita and Oakshire’s “0 Dark Thirty” ale

Back to calorie counting today, obviously. ūüôā

Chocolate Chia Pudding

This is about as hippy-dippy as I get in the kitchen. But I’ve read so my positives on¬†Chia seeds¬†that¬†I’m trying to incorporate them into my routine as often as possible (usually 1/2 T stirred into my morning oatmeal). If you like the consistency of tapioca, give this a shot. There is a ‘slime factor’ here which I assume is a major deal-breaker for some people.

Just because I cut out sweets DOES NOT mean I cut out dessert. Enter Chocolate Chia Pudding! It’s easy and totally does the trick after dinner…

3/4 cup almond milk unsweetened plain
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
unsweetened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 packets Splenda or Stevia

Optional: coconut cream, sliced almonds

Directions

Whisk together the almond milk, cocoa, chia, vanilla and stevia in a small bowl. Pour evenly into 2 serving glasses or mason jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled topped with coconut cream and almonds.

Nutrition Info [without toppings]

Servings: 2* Calories per serving: 90* Fat: 6g* Fiber: 7g* Carbs: 8g* Protein: 3g*

On deck for dinner this week: Coconut Cauliflower Bisque

Simple and sassy and easy to manipulate to your personal tastes… Stay tuned for the review!

Day Three: Feeling the love.

I just love y’all. Tonight I feel so grateful to feel so connected to some of my favorite ladies I (sadly) don’t see nearly enough. A heart-to-heart text sesh with my mom, a rapid-fire catch-up-immediately-because-we’re-still-besties-even-though-we-aren’t-coworkers-anymore PHONE chat with Ty, a random remember-when question from Mandy, Breezy touching base on a major raffle ticket investment we’ve ventured into (fingers crossed!), and a pair of wonderful ’30 Day Challenge’ support text messages. Check out the love:

From Jaime M (my ‘Challenge’ partner, most likely referring to the overload of sweet treat food porn): ¬†Day 3 – Note to self: Stay off Pinterest!!! I won’t even¬†describe¬†the things I saw on there…

From Jamie A:  I channeled you this afternoon and had carrots instead of a cookie. Man, your challenge is tough. Love you!

Left me grinning from ear to ear! How’d I get so lucky?

Sweedeedee

Well just about the cutest little breakfasty coffee joint opened a few blocks from my house, and now I’m in love. The french press coffee comes with a side of steamed milk, and the oatmeal is decorated with every tasty treat you can imagine (including pears). Staying true to my “no sweets” policy, I let Sara indulge in the sugary warmth of the steel cut oats, while I had the lighter eggs and beans dish. Everything is homemade, with just the right touch of Portland love.

Come visit! Sweedeedee brunch is on me!

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baked eggs and baked beans

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lady nylin and fresh table flowers!

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so precious, so portland

Day Two

So far, so good! I’ve informed all the major players of the Challenge (roomates, besties, boyf, beautiful blog readers)… And now all support systems are in place. Eli even suggested a digestion walk after dinner; it felt so good to groove outside after hanging in the gym all evening. (Thanks Nicole for joining me at Bodypump!)

Cheers to a great day of living in control!

Ok… now I just have to walk by the kitchen without opening the fridge or pantry. Deep breaths………….. Off to bed. G’night.

Thirty Day Challenge

Oh man, Jaime Martin just challenged me to thirty days of no sweets or alcohol. Misery loves company, right? We’ve both claimed a ‘cheat’ day due to pre-planned events. I’m going on vacation in March and will take mine then.

We’re starting today and accepting other participants!

Update! Jaime has a blog, too! Check it out: Not Yo’ Momma’s Healthy Living Blog¬†— Love it!

crying into my chicken soup

Well not really… but I wanted to!

You know when you go to the doctor and she asks why you’ve gained so much weight recently? Yeah, that’s what happened today after I weighed in at 193 pounds during my appointment. Talk about a depressing reality check.

Both my food addiction and appetite are in full swing these days, and I’m trying to take some deep breaths today to evaluate what my best plan of attack should be. (Do I even have the mental strength right now to take on such an attack?) So far I’m thinking I need to cut out alcohol all together. Not only is it a waste of calories, but it really inhibits my ability to manage my food intake. And last year when I was doing the hyper-calculated Medifast diet, I definitely attributed my stamina and discipline to the no-drinking policy.

Even with all the extra baggage, I’m so happy to say that exercise is still a big part of my routine, and my ankle feels strong as ever. Eli and I went on a five mile coastal hike yesterday, requiring only a few ibuprofen to rebound from. I count that as a major positive, something to be extremely grateful for!

halfway to Cape Falcon

halfway to Cape Falcon

The views were just spectacular. And it was warm(ish) and sunny! As for post-hike snacks, we had Cesar chicken wraps made from a chicken I roasted on Friday night. And that same chicken was the base for the soup I made tonight. You will like, I promise.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Quinoa

makes 6 large bowls of soup

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup chopped sweet potato
2 cups sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
10 cups chicken broth
1 lb chopped boneless skinless cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup quinoa , rinsed
6 tablespoons lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 T dried tarragon
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cups chopped fresh kale
1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the carrots, sweet potato, celery and onion in the olive oil for about 7 minutes. Add chicken broth, chicken, quinoa, lemon juice, tarragon and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is tender, 20 minutes.
2. Add kale and cook until tender.

Dear blog and blog readers,

Sorry I’ve been neglecting you. There is an unfortunate and direct correlation between the attention I pay to this blog and the number I see on the scale. As one goes down, the other most certainly goes up. Guess it’s time to quit slacking and restart this fading engine of mine.

So here I am. Checking in tonight to confess that I just went to my first Bodypump class of 2013… and now the odds of moving comfortably tomorrow are quite slim. I’m expecting even worse aches for Thursday. Oooofta. And in a major effort to curb my appetite, I managed to stay under calories both yesterday AND today. Who am I?! And can I possibly keep this momentum going?? I sure hope so. Not sure what I would do without the website Myfitnesspal.com — it is my savior when it comes to tracking and journaling my intake and output. If you join, we can follow each other! Keri and I have been doing it together occasionally, which is fun and a nice way to stay connected and motivated.

Overall though, I’m so grateful to feel so healthy these days as many of those I encounter (both at home and work) are sickly sad folks right now. **Obviously knocking on wood for that.**

What else is happening this week? Here’s a link to the Valentines cake I’m whipping up for my Valentine. Let’s hope he doesn’t offer me any. And as much as I’d love a giant box of chocolate covered heart shaped salted caramels, I’m also banking on the fact that he knows better than to torture me with such sugary indulgence.

But seriously, does it really get any better than this? Oh my, isn’t it just the happiest little love note you’ve ever seen? ¬†ūüôā

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