Love and Lemon Bars🍋💕

I think homemade food is one of the greatest gifts of love there is. We have almost completely lost touch with cooking and baking from scratch because of how our lifestyles have progressed. It’s sad to me that kids now think cookie dough comes in a plastic tube from the grocery shelf. Or that soup comes from a can or box. When we prepare food for ourselves or for others we are literally putting our energy into the food. That’s why a home-cooked meal can feel so comforting. Especially when it’s made for us by someone we love.

On Mother’s Day I packed up all of the ingredients to make lemon bars and took them to my mom’s house. I know she loves them and I wanted her house to smell good from the baking. This was my gift to her and I poured love into every step.

  
It wasn’t long until my boyfriend started bugging me to make him his own lemon bars. He requested several times and because I love him I made them yesterday just for him. I am not even eating them right now because I’m on a clean 2 week meal plan.

Baking has always been therapy for me. It’s meditative and consuming. It’s hard to worry about “big stuff” when you are measuring out spoonfuls of powder and mixing up yellow batter to a frothy foam.

This recipe is super simple and basic. Real ingredients, real lemons, real love

  
Base:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and press into an 8×8 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes

Filling:

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

Juice of one whole lemon

1 tablespoon lemon zest- use a grater lightly over washed lemon skin

pinch of baking powder

Pour over crust and bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Lightly sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

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Sexy Sunday Omelette

What’s not to love about a Sunday morning? The slow awakening, the lingering in bed, staying in pajamas until we feel like it, the breakfasts……Oh the breakfasts are the BEST part of my Sunday morning!

buckwheat waffles

During the week my breakfast is the same every morning: Oatmeal with berries and cinnamon and 5 egg whites with spinach and avocado. I follow my clean-eating meal plan pretty strictly during the week so on Sundays I like to mix it up a little bit and take my time in the kitchen. Cooking in pajamas is sexy, right?

I still want my protein and carbs but every once in awhile I will have a delicious buckwheat waffle or pancakes as a treat. Or maybe even a mimosa if it’s a very special Sunday.

Today I made a lovely, high protein, chicken, spinach, and feta cheese omelette. I started by placing 1 cut up grilled chicken breast in a heated skillet.

grilled chicken

I used 10 eggs, but only 3 yolks. This was for 2 people. Just typing this I realize how much food we put away together. You may not want/need 10…..

eggs

Add about 1 and 1/2 cups baby spinach to chicken and stir over medium heat just until spinach begins to wilt.

spinach chicken omelette

Add egg mixture, black pepper, garlic granules and cover to steam for 5 minutes.

spinach chicken omelette

Add crumbled feta cheese and re-cover. I only used about 1/3 cup. I use cheese very sparingly, if at all. It’s a treat and not something that I need in my daily food intake.

Flip omelette over after edges begin to brown and firm up.

spinach omelette

Cook thoroughly with pan covered until firm and fluffy!

spinach cheese omelette

I served this with sliced white and sweet potatoes browned in coconut oil- YUM!

8 Weeks of Clean Eating

As my 8 weeks of clean-eating is coming to a close I am anxiously awaiting my next bod-pod test. I took my first test October 1st and got an accurate reading of my muscle mass, body weight, and fat percentage, none of it where I wanted it to be for my age and activity level. This led me to following a protein rich meal plan that upped my metabolism, while cutting back on fiber-filled empty calories. In 2 days I will know how my efforts have paid off. In the meantime here are some random thoughts on the last 8 weeks….

1. There’s only so much you can do with chicken breasts. I baked, grilled, marinated, sauteed, and pan-seared. I used herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, and lots of hot sauce. But at the end of the day- chicken is chicken- get used to it and embrace the bird.

grilled chicken breasts

2. Kitchen confidence is a huge side-effect of clean-eating. I feel I could successfully cook for a family of 12 now. As much cooking, preparing, and shopping as I’ve done for just me, I am now confident I could handle any amount of people at any given meal-time.

3. Oatmeal turned into a decadent treat. With no sugar, honey, or sweeteners for the last 8 weeks my morning oats, warm with cinnamon and berries, began to taste like a heavenly dessert. I looked forward to breakfast everyday for the warm, gooey, spicy, naturally sweet goodness of my oatmeal.

healthy breakfast

4. Greek yogurt is a great mayo replacement. I made a killer lean tuna salad with water packed tuna, plain greek yogurt, dill, and lemon juice. The more it marinated, the “creamier” it got and I never once wished for mayo.

5. With so much shopping, I feel very at home in my neighborhood grocery. My car seemed to automatically park where it knew it should, my feet led the way to the greens, the chicken, the tuna, and the eggs every 4 days. The clerks began to recognize my parsnips and quit asking what they were.

6. If you don’t like structure, you will not enjoy clean eating for very long. If you are an “eat on the run” type, or grab whatever whenever the mood hits you, you will have trouble sticking with the timed meals of this plan. I ate almost on the dot every day at the same times and I happened to love the structured routine of this. It took the indecisiveness out of what and when to eat.

7. Progress comes slooooowly. I had to stop checking the mirror every day to see if my abs were any more defined. I realize the body works at it’s own pace no matter how hard I willed things to “change”. Change happens on it’s own whether we are monitoring it or not.

farm fresh eggs

8. Real food is really simple. Meat, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, oats, berries. This was my diet for the last 2 months. There was no stevia, mixes, protein powders, syrups, breads, spreads, soups, chips, or bars. It was food made to eat with a fork and a knife as my boyfriend says. No finger foods, no wrappers or containers. Simple. Satisfying. Energizing.

Results and photos coming soon!

Clean Eating Cooking Essentials

I believe that in order to stick with something it needs to be simple enough to fit into YOUR lifestyle. If you have to change things around so much that your life does not feel like your own, then chances are you won’t stick with it. Whether it’s cooking, eating, or working out, make sure your plan makes sense for your schedule and life. I believe in keeping things super simple and convenient, especially in the kitchen.

Here a few of my favorite things that I always keep in stock in my kitchen to ensure clean and healthy cooking and eating all week long. 

Fresh Lemons

fresh lemon

1. squeeze the juice on greens, chicken, and fish. I use it before cooking and also right before serving 2. squeeze on fresh avocado or apple slices when storing to keep from turning brown 3. Use a slice in warm water in the morning for a gentle cleansing 4. Drink with water during the day as a natural appetite suppressant and source of vitamin C

Non-Stick Cooking Spray

I love the coconut oil spray! It smells good but doesn’t over power the flavor of food. I use on pans before cooking eggs every morning or spray in a measuring cup before honey or other sticky substance.

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

It sounds super healthy but I use it more as a flavor enhancer.  It actually contains essential B vitamins that are great for you. It gives greens, broccoli, or cauliflower a slightly tangy, “cheesy” taste. I sprinkle it on the veggies when they are warm and ready to be served. You could also use it on chicken or fish before baking.

Mrs Dash and other Herbs

I love me some Mrs Dash! She has saved my mornings by making my egg whites more exciting! It comes in many flavors and can be used on anything in the place of salt. Get comfortable trying new herbs and spices in your foods, you may never go back to salt.

Herbal Tea

herbal tea

I like to keep a good variety of flavors to help with cravings and for when I need to relax. I sometimes crave sweets really bad after a meal and I will use a nice herbal tea blend to help soothe that need. It’s also a good replacement for that nightly glass of wine.

A Variety of Oils

I use extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil for cooking. Each one has a slightly different flavor so it helps keep the daily chicken and veggies exciting.

Comfortable, Sturdy Cookware and Knives

I say “comfortable” because your cookware should feel great to YOU. It doesn’t matter if it’s from Target or Williams Sonoma or Goodwill. I use knives from a garage sale years ago and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Find what feels good in your hands and is easy to clean and store. Shopping for cookware can be intimidating so use your intuition, don’t buy something you don’t know how to use or clean.

I have 3 more weeks on my meal plan before getting tested again in the bod-pod. Goal is for my body fat to lower by 5% and muscle mass to increase from 88 to the high 90’s. Here is week 5 photo update

week 5 clean eating progress photo

Amazing Buckwheat Waffles

This Sunday is my last Sunday to post to WordPress so please be sure and sign up by email if you’re not already to keep getting my lovely posts delivered to you. My new website will be up very soon and this blog will continue there!

Last night I did something I haven’t done in a very long time- I stayed out late. I was shocked to see how many people were out at midnight running around, dressed up, full of energy, and mostly drinking. How quickly I’ve forgotten that lifestyle. I am so happy when I get to go to bed early! This morning started slowly and I was craving something hearty so I made these buckwheat waffles. I was SO HAPPY with how they turned out- thick, fluffy, and grainy- just how I like them.

buckwheat waffle

I started with 1/2 cup of whole buckwheat in the blender until finely ground. Add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, cinnamon.

To the dry ingredients I added: 1 egg, about a cup of almond milk, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 tablespoon honey. It was still thick so I added a smidge of olive oil and a few drops of water.

They took a long time and a lot of steam was coming out of the waffle iron so I knew they were going to be nice and dense. I topped with my usual fruits, organic syrup, walnuts, and greek yogurt.

buckwheat waffles

Was this enough of a Sunday breakfast though? Where was the protein?

I whipped up an 8 egg omelette with chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese. I used feta and sprinkled cheddar on my man’s since he is lifting heavy and wanting to add calories.

cheese omelette

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I ended up only eating half of my waffle because they were so thick and dense. Next time I will make a smaller size rather than filling the whole iron with batter.

buckwheat waffles

I work with some people who are afraid of grains and carbs. They think “This will make me fat” or “Carbs will lead to weight gain” but nothing could be further from the truth. Simple carbs like sugar, processed foods, crappy packaged snacks, and diet food will do that but not good quality whole grains and vegetables. Whole grains are fiber and keep us feeling full! Carbs are fuel that we need for energy. Energy = Movement = Calories burned and muscles built.

Don’t be afraid to try new grains in your diet. The caramel colored “whole wheat” bread in most grocery stores just doesn’t cut it. Some of my favorite whole grains are buckwheat, oat groats, steel cut oats, whole oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

Have food, Will travel

Remember that commercial for dunkin donuts when the man gets up every morning day after day and says “Time to make the donuts”? That is sometimes how I feel packing my lunch. Or my dinner. Or my snacks. It seems I’m always packing food of some sort to carry with me wherever I go. I like to eat. And I eat often and I eat clean so there’s no stopping in a convenience store for a hotdog or running through a drive-thru for me. And I don’t like to be hungry, it makes me very grumpy. It’s not good for your body to starve, it will literally shut down your metabolism in order to store calories. So in my car I carry almonds or fruit. In my purse you can usually find more almonds or a tightly wrapped Sticky Ball or sometimes a small banana.

Lunch is a tuna or turkey sandwich or a variety of veggies with protein. Usually cottage cheese and egg whites. Now for your visual pleasure……..

Seeds and avocado for healthy fats, protein and carbs

leftover salmon with lentils and quinoa

Colorful cherry tomatoes with cottage cheese for protein

more avocado, grilled chicken, spinach and strawberries

If I’m working a full day I will also pack a 2nd breakfast of oatmeal or a peanut butter wrap. Afternoon snack is greek yogurt or nuts. (I didn’t realize how much I ate baby carrots!)

So it takes some planning and preparation and sometimes can be a pain in the *** but it is so much better than being starving and wanting to chew off your own arm. Or waiting hours between meals and letting your blood sugar plummet.  Or worse yet- eating some highly processed, chemical filled “convenience” snack from a vending machine.

What do you carry with you to eat? More than gum I hope….

Avo-Egg-Hummus wrap

This is an easy preparation snack that has good fats and high protein readily available for times when you need something quick and healthy. I came home from the gym tonight and didn’t have anything ready to cook and I remembered my friend’s recipe for this spread. Luckily I always have hard-boiled eggs in my refridge because they are the perfect go-to protein source. I boil a half dozen at a time and keep them in a separate carton that I’ve marked so I don’t have to worry about an accidental raw egg cracking mess.

Mash 2 or 3 hardboiled eggs in a bowl. I use 1 yolk for 2 whites.

Add hummus and avocado and mash some more. I like to keep it a little chunky. By the way, I didn’t use that whole container of hummus, it was almost empty…..seriously…..

Spread on whole wheat tortilla and enjoy!

SUPER SIMPLE! You can add tomato, lettuce, sprouts or any other vegetable you’d like. I really just wanted it in my mouth.