Here I Go Again!

Hey Friends, I wanted to let you know that although I haven’t been writing frequently lately, I am not slacking! Those of you that read my previous post know that I spent the month of October and the first few weeks this month completing a step challenge. It was a very simple idea, work toward getting the recommended 10,000 steps in daily. It was a bit harder for me than it sounded because I tended to get my activity done in ways my Fitbit doesn’t track. No worries, though, I made a conscious effort and hit the target all 42 days. Since I last posted, I continued to walk or hike daily, oftentimes with friends…

  

Even after the challenge wrapped up, I continued to find myself hitting the 10,000 step target every day…great new habit! One that put a crazy idea into my head…more on that in a moment.

I made another great investment of time lately too. A couple weeks ago, I joined a new maintenance support type of group made up of folks just like me who were members of the weight loss program I completed. We have come together to help one another through the holidays and beyond, keeping focused on our health and wellness. Our first meeting two weeks ago featured a healthy potluck. Ordinarily, the thought of a potluck terrifies me because I already know my choices will be few and far between. But this time was very different…not only were all the offerings healthy, the salads and main dishes all included recipes and nutrition info. Here’s a glimpse at one of the two bountiful tables!

This was the first potluck I ever felt safe about, if you know what I mean. So this program is simple, come together twice monthly to discuss challenges and successes, share helpful tips and weigh-in. We were also offered a food journal and encouraged to use it.

I should mention I joined this group because I not only wanted to maintain what I have left of my weight loss from these past 5 years, I want to forge ahead and drop more pounds. So this is what my first two weeks looked like…

I pretty diligently recorded my eating. I wrote most everything down nearly every day. I didn’t really begin with a calorie target for each day, but tried to keep it under 2000 calories.

I refocused my fitness efforts too. Just a few weeks back, my gym began a major renovation, one I couldn’t help thinking kind of symbolized my renewed goals too. I looked closely at my workout habits and routine and gave it some fine tuning. Beyond continuing my 10,000 daily step goal, I scheduled my strength training workouts and classes into my planner. This has been instrumental in my consistency. Because before I wrote these into my week, they were much less likely to happen.

I’m excited to report I’ve had two tremendously successful weeks. The scale dropped 5 pounds, my active wear fits much less like touniquets and I’m seeing some fun definition changes already…

Although the gym changes are obvious, you may not notice any with me. But that’s okay, I FEEL them and I know they are there. Even better? I’m driven to continue through the holidays and beyond.

One thing I’m so excited to share is that I remembered my why. Not only that, I remembered how excited I am to work toward some short and long term goals. I set an INSANE milestone goal for 2022 when I turn 50. It’s so damn crazy, I’m not going to tell you quite yet what it is. Just know I haven’t done much of anything lately that scares me, and this thing is well outside my comfort zone. Way beyond this continent even!

Friends, when’s the last time you refocused, redefined and reset? If you are spinning your wheels, maybe the time is now. It is making all the difference for me and is another great way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Buddha Garden Salad

Friends, I’ve been playing around with Buddha bowls and various salad recipes all summer.

Now, with the bounty of cherry tomatoes in my garden kicked into high gear, I’ve had ample opportunity to craft the pinnacle recipe. This salad is bursting with freshness; the flavors vary from one bite to the next, but each is equally refreshing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Print

Buddha Garden Salad

Course Side Dish
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 7
Author Carla Anderson FIT BFFs

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup dried quinoa, prepared
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 medium avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small sauce pan, prepare according to package directions.

  2. In large bowl, combine blueberries, cherry tomatoes, corn, cucumber, garbanzo beans, garlic, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Add cooked quinoa and mix.

  3. Salad can be refrigerated at this point until served; mix in avocado just before serving.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Info...

Calories: 147 per 1 cup serving

Fat: 4.4g. Fiber: 5.8g. Protein: 5g. Carbs: 25g. Sodium: 66.1mg.

Time-Saving Smoothie Hack

Hey Friends, I just got out of the kitchen. I had the ingredients out for my lunch smoothie and figured since I had a little extra time, I’d invest it to save for later!

By pre-measuring and pre-packaging some ingredients, I’ve saved myself the time of taking these out and measuring the next 12 times I prepare a smoothie. I’ve been enjoying this hack for the past two years. If you’d like my little smoothie booster recipe, click here.

Streamlining a task creates efficiency, affording me more time to do the things I love! Friends, that’s just one more way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

Quinoa and Black Beans

As March winds down, I am completing work on a Nutritional Scavenger Hunt I’ve been chipping away at all month. The challenge was provided by the dietitians at my local gym and has really motivated me!

One of the tasks was to prepare some provided recipes, and when I tried this one, I knew I had to share it with you. I’ve been doing a lot with quinoa lately. I don’t know why it took me so long to get on board with it, I avoided it thinking it was complicated. Friends, quinoa couldn’t be simpler to work with and the results are delicious and nutritious!

Quinoa and Black Beans

Ingredients:

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 – 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic to saute until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Stir frozen corn into saucepan, continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in black beans and cilantro.

This recipe yields ten 1/2 cup servings at 76 calories each with 2.6 grams of protein and 1.9 grams of fiber.

Dietitian Store Tour

I’ve been working my way through task after task of a highly motivating Nutrition Scavenger Hunt this month, created by dietitians at my local gym. One of the suggested activities on the list is to attend a grocery shopping tour with a dietitian at Hy-Vee.

I knew Hy-Vee stores employed dietitians, but have never really known what they do there. I recently emailed Sara from one of our Rochester locations to schedule my shopping tour. She met with me earlier this week with her intern, Deanna, to give me a store tour from a dietitian’s perspective. Here, they introduced me to Bolthouse dressings (I brought home the mango chipotle…YUM).

In my 4 1/2 year get-healthy journey, I thought I knew a great deal about the multitude of products available to those who care to make more mindful choices. I’d like to think I know my way around a grocery store too. But this store is a giagantic recent addition to Rochester, and having been intimidated by its size, I shied away from it. Until now!

I mean, check out this bulk area for instance…it houses 997 items. I stood there wondering where a person would even start. But with Sara by my side, she zeroed in on one of her favorites…

Organic red lentil beans, something I never knew existed, but was glad she pointed out, because some of those went home with me!

Spending hours in a store on your own, attempting to make healthy discoveries can seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there so many times. But strolling through the isles with these knowledgeable ladies was a treat. They pointed out so many products that offer lower calories, lower sodium content and a cleaner list of ingredients! Take for instance this awesome tomato sauce, it contains tomatoes…and that’s it! Better yet, only 10 mg of sodium!!!

Yup, that went home with me too!

As Sara and Deanna steered me down the chip isle, I joked (actually quite seriously) there couldn’t be anything healthy in that isle! But Sara led me straight to these…

Although the calorie range is equivalent to other chips, these contain only a few ingredients, the first of which is whole navy beans! Must be why they have 5 grams of protein and fiber in each serving. I went home with the white bean chips with hint of lime flavor. I ate some last night…delish!

Snacks can sometimes get me in trouble, but these flackers were developed by a doctor to promote health in a multitude of ways…how cool is that?!?

The tour lasted an hour, but Sara and Deanna’s recommendation list went far beyond! I’ve become aware of so many new super food items, many with convenience in mind…like this ready-made quinoa.

And these amazing cauliflower crumbles that save time and mess!

I’d show you the spiralized veggies that intrigued me, but I can’t; when I went back to choose some, they were sold out!

I’m happy to know there are some great products out there to replace others that didn’t fit well in my diet, like these seasonings to help me avoid salt.

And how about these instead of tortillas? At 60 calories and a plethora of flavors, I’d reach for these every time!

It was eye-opening what I learned in an hour. Sara, many thanks for your expertise and willingness to spend an hour with me, so glad Deanna accompanied us too. I’ve gained much valuable insight!

I’m freshly inspired knowing there’s even an ice cream out there that aligns with my goals!

Shout out to the Rochester Athletic Club dietitians for such an innovative way to observe National Nutrition Month; I’m off to complete another task on the scavenger hunt!

The Garbacado Sandwich

Hey, Fellow FIT BFFs, I’m working on a cool Nutrition Scavenger Hunt that’s taking place at my gym this month. One of the tasks included is to prepare one new recipe a week from the in-house dieticians’ cookbook. I opted to modify the recipe to include the Seedtastic bread I found at Aldi last week. If you missed my excitement over that bread, you can read about it here.

It’s no secret…I LOVE avocados; this is a great meatless recipe that incorporates that love! Here’s my modified version…

The Garbacado Sandwich

Ingredients:

1 slice Aldi Seedtastic bread, toasted

1/4 avocado

1/4 cup garbanzo beans

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

salt to taste (I used Himalayan salt)

 

Directions:

Mash together garbanzo beans, avocado and salt, mix in chopped cucumber. Cut toasted bread in half. Place garbacao mixture on bread, enjoy open-faced or classic sandwich-style.

Contains 232 calories, 36 grams carbs, 8 grams fat, 9 grams protein, 11 grams fiber

Fantastic Friday Find: Seedtastic Bread

Happy Friday, fellow FIT BFFs! You know how much I LOVE trying new things and when I discovered this latest find, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!

Let me back up a moment to inform newer readers and remind returning folks that I make it my mission to try at least one new item every time I grocery shop. This keeps me from falling into food boredom and helps me stumble upon my new favorites. I should also mention that I am a fan of the incredibly low prices and wide selection of healthy options Aldi offers…makes eating healthy so simple!

Speaking of simple, Aldi carries their own line of organic products called SimplyNature. Yesterday I discovered this Seedtastic bread containing an impressive 21 whole grains and seeds! I’ve been in the mood for avocado toast, so that’s exactly what I thought of when I spotted this bread.

Friends, it did NOT disappoint! It was so good, in fact, that I decided to take the avocado one step further today. For those of us observing meatless Fridays, check out this little avocado toast/egg salad number I created for lunch.

It was so easy…toast a slice of Seedtastic bread, slice up 1/4 avocado, mash a hard boiled egg and mix with 2 tbsp light mayo, place over the avocado, sprinkle with paprika and voila…a nutritional powerhouse containing a mere 285 calories.

I’m so glad to have found this bread, I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning’s peanut butter toast!

Friends, next time you’re in the grocery store, challenge yourself to purchase at least one new item. I’d love to hear what you choose, so leave a comment when you do! And remember, trying new things is one more great way we can all put our Best Foot Forward!

 

Thumbs Up, Panera!

Friends, before I began my weight loss journey, I ate out all. the. time. I based my choices on what looked good and never made informed decisions. This mistake weighed heavily on my health…literally.

I’ve learned occasional dining out can be a wonderful adventure as long as one employs mindfulness. When planning to dine out, I simply take a moment to browse the restaurant’s online menu to determine what choices would best suit my nutritional needs. Many restaurants offer very accessible info…I LOVE that!

Some restaurants take it one glorious step forward by posting calorie information on their menu boards. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate that. I took the opportunity to meet someone for lunch at Panera today. What a wonderful feeling to know I can quickly skim their menu board and order something delicious and nutritious!

Take a look at this BOWL OF AWESOME!

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten there, so this salad was new to me. You are looking at their BBQ Salad with Chicken. It comes in this enormous bowl and with the sheer volume of food and the amazing flavor, I never would have guessed there were only 470 calories in that giant salad!

It is one thing to pick an item based on its calories, it’s totally another to choose it because it’s phenomenal. Guess what I’m ordering next time?!? Way to go, Panera!

I’ve noticed other restaurants beginning to post calorie info on their menu boards too.  These are the places I will choose last minute because I know what I’m getting. Friends, eating out doesn’t have to be a disaster for your goals. Take time to make mindful choices so you can enjoy your meal even more…just one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!