Category Archives: Food

What the heck does Yeast-Free Mean?

My friend, Abby, just finished a 30 Day Yeast-Free challenge. Since I’ve written about clean eating and gluten-free lifestyles, I asked her to share her experience during the challenge.

Hi Fitscally Responsible Followers!

I’m Abby, from This Life in Motion.

Anna was kind enough to invite me to be a guest blogger for the day! Hopefully, you’ll all enjoy the story of how I adopted a yeast-free lifestyle.

I always have the goal of living a healthier life.

Lately, my diet hasn’t exactly been healthy. When I was was keeping up with my running and weight training, I didn’t think too much about what I was eating because I was working out a lot. But, we haven’t been making it to the gym for the past few months…okay maybe 6 months or more, and now I’m really starting to see just how much what I eat affects me.

Living with someone who is an extremely picky eater (think cheeseburgers, french fries, chicken strips, etc.) can make eating healthy a challenge! It’s a lot of work to make 2 separate meals, so gradually I’ve adjusted to an unhealthy diet. Lots of fried and processed foods. Less and less fresh fruits and vegetables. And, waaaaay too many sweets and treats.

I started noticing that my energy levels were low, I would come home from work and be extremely tired, and not really want to do much of anything. I wasn’t sleeping as well as I used to, my stomach was often upset, I gained a few eight pounds, and stress was really building up.

I’ve always wanted to try a cleanse of some sort to jump start a healthy eating lifestyle, but I knew I didn’t want to do anything too crazy. You know those diets that are super restrictive, the ones where you can only eat grapefruit or soup. Not my style. I knew I wouldn’t be successful doing anything that was unrealistic.

Late last year, I stumbled upon this blog: BEAUtiful Mess and after some additional research, I learned all about a Yeast-Free diet. I thought it sounded like something I could do! And after learning all about the effects of yeast overgrowth in the body and the aftereffects of eliminating yeast from your body, I was convinced.

Here’s some of the effects of yeast overgrowth in the body:

  • Poor digestion
  • Mal-absorption of nutrients
  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Worsening of allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Body pain
  • Weakened immune system
  • Lack of mental acuity

After I did a ton of research and convinced myself to eat yeast-free for 30 days, it was time to figure out what the heck I was going to eat!

For the 30 day cleanse, there were a couple rules:

  • No fruit or butter for the first 2 weeks
  • For 30 days, no sugar, yeast, dairy, fermented or alcohol products

I knew some of the toughest things for me were going to be:

  • No cream or sugar in my coffee
  • No diet soda
  • No potatoes or pasta
  • No fruit for 2 weeks!

Yikes, it sounds intimidating, but it really wasn’t too bad. The toughest day for me was Day 3. My cravings for sugar were so intense on this day it was crazy! Additionally, the first week and a half or so were not very pleasant. I lost all energy to do anything, I was extremely fatigued! I remember one day when I had to have Aaron carry the laundry basket downstairs for me because I couldn’t come close to working up the energy to do it. I. Was. Exhausted.

And then, without warning, everything changed. I felt great! I was sleeping soundly though the night. I was waking up early with loads of energy (even before I got my morning cup of coffee). I was more focused at work. My moods were better. I stopped experiencing fluctuations in my energy levels throughout the day. In general, I felt better. Oh, and to top it off, I had lost 13 pounds. It was extremely enlightening to feel the effects that food/drink have on my body. I never really noticed it before because I never really felt great. While eating yeast-free, I was eating to fuel my body. My body learned to tell me when it was time to eat, not because I was hungry, but because I needed nutrients. This was new for me, and it felt good.

Okay, I’m guessing you’re wondering what I ate for 30 days?

Here are some of my staples:

Eggs, Turkey Bacon, Tomatoes, and Avocado

Baked Cauliflower and Avocado & Tomato Salad

Chili with Avocado

Taco Meat, Spinach, Tomatoes, Avocados, and Peppers & Onions

Mexican Spaghetti Squash and Cucumbers

Steak, Asparagus, and Pepper and Onions

Almonds

Natural Peanut Butter...My Savior!!

Truvia...for my Coffee!

Obviously, I ate A LOT of avocados! They make everything better! I also survived the lack of sugar in this diet by eating natural peanut butter. I’ll admit it, I had a spoonful, everyday! Yum!

I’m sure you’re all wondering if I’m still eating yeast-free. I’m sad to say that I’m not. When I started working food back in, it would really upset my stomach and I knew I didn’t want that to happen while I’m on vacation in Las Vegas. So, I’ve decided to give myself the time off, and when I return from vacation I’m going to try to eat yeast-free during the week and allow myself some indulgences on the weekends.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely! The best part of the diet was learning how my body reacts to food and feeling better than I’ve ever felt.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll swing on over and follow along at This Life in Motion!

Sources for additional information: http://www.theyeastdiet.com/, http://www.candidafree.net/index.htm. Note that different websites, provide slightly different recommendations on what to eat and not to eat.
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Chipotle Faux-rito

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Ok, it’s a real burrito and it is from random stuff in my kitchen, not Chipotle. But, it tastes great and is only five points so it doesn’t seem real. It has the basic ingredients of a burrito but I’ll give you the rundown anyway:

• Multigrain Wrap (2 points). Brand: Tumaros
• Black beans with jalapeños (1 point for 1/4 cup). Brand: S&W.
• Greek yogurt as a sub for sour cream (1 point for 1/8 cup). Brand: Yoplait.
• Brown rice (1 point for 1/4 cup)
• Lettuce
• Red onions
• Cilantro

The best part of this burrito is it was completely thrown together at the last minute (and it is just as good as the quesadilla that was my very first post!). Yay for having pre-cooked brown rice and extra cans of black beans at the ready. 🙂

ps, part of the reason I am doing this short, random post about dinner is so I can see what a blog post from my phone looks like :).

My day of maximizing points

I’ve been battling a cold for a few days so I decided to work from home today for quick access to a bed if I needed a nap to get through the day.  This meant I got to enjoy my breakfast and coffee while cruising through my work emails in the morning!  This is a relaxing part of my day that I’ve missed since I stopped eating breakfast at work last year.

BREAKFAST = 4 POINTS

I started my day with my former staple before I discovered protein shakes last year – Oatmeal.  It was three points for 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal, zero(!!!) points for the banana, and one point for 1-1/2 teaspoons of peanut butter.  This is a good example of where I eat healthy but have a problem with portion control.  Before Weight Watchers, I would have two tablespoons of peanut butter in my oatmeal.  Then, I discovered that was a bajillion points so I stopped adding peanut butter.  This morning, I had the bright idea that I could still have peanut butter if I just have LESS of it!  Genious!  (and, wouldn’t you know, it was still a good amount)

I switched to black coffee about six weeks ago so my coffee is now zero(!!!) points too.  It was only one point when I added skim milk, but somedays that one point can make all the difference in the world (or my day – I guess there is no need to get dramatic here).

LUNCH = 6 POINTS

I missed my morning protein shake so I had one of those for lunch 🙂  I can’t miss out on my 18g of fiber + 20g of protein in one delicious meal.  You can check out my love for my shake in a prior posting of mine.  My morning shake is six points – four for the protein powder, zero(!!!) for the berries, one point for 1/2 cup milk, and one point for the fiber powder. 

SNACK = 2 POINTS

Throughout the afternoon, I just munched on carrots.  A lot of carrots.  I love carrots AND I bought a gigantic bag at Sam’s Club on Friday.   Oh yeah, then I ate two thin mints for two points.  Yummm…. 

DINNER = 6 POINTS

By the time 5:15 rolled around, I had to kick it into high gear to get out of the house for my Blogging for Beginner’s class (being taught by Jen of Prior Fat Girl).  Luckily, we put our new rice cooker to use over the weekend so we had some leftover cooked brown rice.  I threw 1/2 cup of brown rice (2 points) into a bowl with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese (1 point), 1/4 cup raisins (3 points) and some cinnamon.

I mixed the ingredients together, microwaved it for 60 seconds (stirring halfway through) and quickly enjoyed my warm delicious dinner.  The cottage cheese melts a little so it ends up tasting like rice pudding.  YUM.

But, now I have 8 points left for the day!  That is a lot.  Most days are not like this because I tend to use 6 points at breakfast, 8 points for lunch and 12 points for dinner.

It looks like I can enjoy a few more thin mints and maybe some hot chocolate before I head to bed 🙂   

Did you have a healthy start to the work week?  What is a meal you can quickly throw together in 15 minutes? 

Clean Eating: The Basics

Since my big declaration on Thursday included a guideline that I would eat two clean meals per day / 5 times per week, I thought it would be good to write about clean eating.  When I started researching the various opinions about clean eating for this post, I was surprised to see there are so many different opinions on the subject.  How can so many people differ on a topic that seems so simple?

What I actually found is the experts differ on strategy, but not on these basic principles:

  • Say no to:
    • Refined sugar
    • Added Sodium
    • Processed foods
  • Say yes to:
    • Lean Protein
    • Complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta
    • Fresh fruits and veggies
    • Healthy Fats
  • Don’t go more than 4-5 hours without eating (some say 3 hours, some say 4-5 hours but none of them believe it is healthy to go beyond that)
  • Stay within your daily nutrition quota for fat, fiber, carbs, sugar, sodium and protein (thank you, Mayo Clinic!)
  • The benefits of clean eating are: more stable blood sugar (say good-bye to the afternoon crash!), healthier skin and teeth, increased energy, and healthy weight (with controlled portions, of course)

The most popular clean eating strategy seems to be The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno.   The principles of this diet are:

  • Eat 5-6 small meals per day
  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Lean protein plus complex carbohydrate at every meal
  • Eat enough healthy fats
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Carry a cooler packed with clean eats
  • Depend on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for complex carbohydrates
  • Stick to proper portion sizes

Most of these rules are basic for anyone trying to lose weight or be healthy (especially water and breakfast!), but it is still overwhelming to start a lifestyle change with a set of rules.  The thought of carrying a cooler with me everywhere I went was a deal breaker for me when I bought this book last year (however, the book does have a lot of good information and meal recommendations).

The good news is what I mentioned earlier in my post is really what clean eating is about – focusing on unprocessed foods and getting your daily nutritional needs taken care of.  There are no strict guidelines on how often you have to eat or pairing certain foods together.   I am a person of moderation, which is why I try to eat most meals clean but not all of them.  Sometimes I will get into a pinch and need something quick or my travel schedule will restrict my options (or sometimes I just want a bagel or something nice and sugary).

When I first started learning about clean eating, it sounded like chicken and vegetables every night.  Thanks to the two cookbooks from Clean Eating magazine, that is not the case for me!  (no, they aren’t paying me to say that – I just love the cookbooks THAT much!).  The Gracious Pantry also has a very good menu plan.  If you check it out, you will see there are actually a lot of great foods you can eat!

Why am I relying on Weight Watchers to shed those last 15 pounds if clean eating is so wonderful?  Portion control is what I struggle with the most.  WW forces me to measure my portions.  If I simply relied on eating unprocessed foods, I would be polishing off a bunch of homemade tortilla chips with a bowl of guacamole every night.

Well, enough heavy topics for the weekend!  Have a great Saturday! I am headed to the Juvenile Diabetes walk at the Mall of America this morning.

What is your experience or opinion of clean eating?  Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend?

(disclaimer: I am not a doctor or nutritionist.  This post represents my interpretation of the information I’ve gathered.  You should consult with a doctor if you have health concerns).

Salmon Patties with Sauteed Squash & Zucchini

This is what tonight’s dinner looked like in the cookbook:

This was my outcome:

Sooooo….. not my most successful culinary attempt.  It still tasted pretty good but I included a few suggestions in the recipe below that I think will ensure a more successful attempt for anyone else.  🙂

(The musical pairing with tonight’s cooking routine was Brandi Carlile.  A nice dose of Mumford & Sons or Fine Frenzy might also go well with this dish.)

Salmon Patties with Sauteed Squash & Zucchini.  Serves 4.  Hands-on time: 30 min.  Total time: 30 min.

Nutrients per serving (1 patty and 3/4 cup vegetables): Calories 210. Total Fat 4.5g. Sat Fat 0.5g, Carbs 30g, Fiber 6g. Sugars 6g. Protein 16g. Sodium 340mg. Cholesterol 25mg.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, half diced and half thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 (6-oz) can salmon packed in water, without bones or skin, drained.  I used tuna instead of salmon since neither of us are big fans of salmon.
  • 2 egg whites, whisked.  I used Egg Beaters egg whites for convenience.
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated.  I used baby carrots since I got them on sale and also bring them as a snack to work.
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro, divided.  1 tbsp will go into the patties and 1 tbsp will go with the sauteed vegetables.  
  • Olive Oil cooking spray
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced, or 12 baby patty pan squash, cut in half
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Additional fresh herbs or green onion curls for garnish (optional).  I was too lazy to do this and didn’t miss the garnishes.  

STEP ONE:  In a large bowl, mix together diced onions, salmon, egg whites, mustard, bread crumbs, carrot and one tablespoon cilantro.  Using your hands, form mixture into four large patties, each about four to five inches in diameter.  I made four patties and think they would have cooked better if I had made them smaller and made five patties.

STEP TWO:  Heat a large nonstock or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat for one minute.  Mist with cooking spray.  Place all four patties in pan and cook for two to three minutes on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove patties from pan and set aside.  We set ours on the table while we cooked the vegetables and they were cold by the time we ate them.  I would recommend putting them in the oven on a low heat to keep them warm while the vegetables are cooking, or cook the vegetables in a separate pan at the same time.  The second suggestion would also be a time saver 🙂

STEP THREE:  Wipe out same large nonstick or cast-iron pan with paper towels, then heat over medium-high heat for one minute.  Mist with cooking spray again.  Add squash, zucchini, and thinly sliced onions.  Saute for about two minutes, then add one tablespoon water.  (The water will help steam the vegetables and cook them more thoroughly.)  Cook for another five minutes or until squash and zucchini are tender and onion is translucent.  When vegetables are just finished cooking, add remaining tablespoon cilantro and mix.  Remove from heat.  Season with salt and pepper.

STEP FOUR:  Serve one patty with three-quarters of a cup vegetables.

The Clean Eating cookbook has additional suggestions that go with each recipe.  I skipped over it when I put my grocery list together and wish I would have paid closer attention because it sounds so good:

Cookbook suggestion: Eat these delicious patties unadorned, or dress them up with a simple fruit sauce.  Combine one-quarter cup no-sugar added fruit preserves (strawberry or raspberry works best) with one-quarter cup water.  Cook preserves in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until thickened and warm.  Remove from heat and drizzle over patties.  Yum, why didn’t I see that earlier?  

This gluten-free stuff sounds crazy

Before last year, I had no idea what gluten was or why someone would want to live gluten-free because it sounds crazy!  What?  Who are these people who would willingly give up pasta and beer?!  However, the more I learn about gluten, the more I realize there is A LOT more to it than I thought.  The most important thing I learned is it isn’t a weight-loss diet.  It is a lifestyle change some people have to make due to Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.

Let me start with some basic information about gluten:

  • Gluten is a mixture of proteins in wheat, rye, or barley (buckwheat is gluten-free)
  • Common foods that contain gluten: pizza, pretzels, beer, crackers, most baked goods, pasta.  Click here for the Mayo Clinic’s list of what is allowed and not allowed on a gluten-free diet.
  • A person can still have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity even if they don’t have Celiac disease.
  • Symptoms of someone who has a gluten-intolerance may include: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, acid reflux (sounds fun, right?)
  • There is data that suggests eliminating gluten can improve behaviors of people with Autism, mood disorders (like Schizophrenia), and ADD/ADHD.

My unscientific survey of my gluten-free friends says that, if you have a gluten intolerance, eliminating it from your diet will make you feel 1000x better.   At the age of 29, I’ve already had two colonoscopies so I eliminated gluten (with the support of my doctor) for a few weeks last March to see if it solved some of my long-standing gastro issues.  It was almost an immediate improvement.  As uncomfortable as that is to share with the world (or all 15 of my readers), hopefully that lends credibility to the impact eliminating gluten can have on some people.

How does gluten impact the body?  The small intestine has hairlike structures called villi that absorb important nutrients.  For people with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance, gluten causes the body to attack the villi and shorten or completely flatten them.  This reduces their ability to absorb nutrients.  You are what you eat, but more importantly you are what your body absorbs.

How do you find out if you have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance?  You can get tested for Celiac by your doctor but the test is not accurate if you eliminate gluten before getting tested.  If you want to determine whether you have an intolerance, eliminate gluten from your diet for 1-2 weeks and see if you notice a difference.  If you notice a difference and decide to live gluten-free, talk to your doctor about whether he/she would recommend any additional supplements for you.

The good news is there are actually a lot of good foods out there that don’t contain gluten.  When Matt and I tried gluten-free, we discovered a lot of new dishes which we might not have otherwise tried (like spaghetti squash, which is now one of our favorite foods!).

For example, these are some delicious gluten-free (and dairy-free) Almond Joy bars I ate at a party last night:

so moist and delicious that I ate two

If you want to see more gluten-free foods, you should check out Elana’s Pantry.

Why am I not gluten-free?  I have limited my gluten intake and increased my fiber intake, which has been a good balance for me.  I’ve seen the most improvement in my health by trying to “eat clean”, which I will go into more detail about in a later post.

I feel like I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on this topic so here are some additional resources if you’d like to learn more.

Roasted Eggplant & Kale Penne

Today was one of those days where the last thing I wanted to do after work was cook.  Luckily, Matt took control of dinner prep tonight because this dish was worth it!  Ok, I haven’t had a dish from Clean Eating that hasn’t been delicious so I feel like that is just stating the obvious.

(yes, we went overboard on the kale but I don’t regret it)

The dish itself was really good, but I wasn’t a fan of the prep.  The cooking times listed in the recipe were true (about 30 minutes), but it is the type of dish where parts are prepared separately and mixed together at the end.  We have a small kitchen and our counter space is limited so this can test our patience with each other (especially toward the end of the work week!).  Overall, the meal was still worth the dirty dishes.

I was, however, a big fan of the leftovers!  Hooray for lunch tomorrow and Saturday!  By the way, in case you’re wondering (and even if you aren’t), Snapware is great.

Roasted Eggplant & Kale Penne (with toasted pine nuts & feta).  Serves 6.  Hands-on time: 30 min.  Total time: 30 min.

Nutrients per serving: Calories 215, Total Fat 8g, Sat. Fat 1g, Carb 34g, Fiber 7g, Sugars 2g, Protein 8g, Sodium 216mg, Cholesterol 1.7mg

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8oz whole wheat penned (we used a low carb white pasta because it is what we had in our cupboard)
  • 1 bunch kale, stalks removed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (time saver: use a garlic press)
  • 2 oz reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp torn fresh oregano leaves (we didn’t use fresh and it still tasted good)

STEP ZERO: I am adding this in because we always end up spending more time on pasta dishes than expected because we forget this step.  Start boiling your water now!

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 400F.  Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, careful not to burn (we slightly burned ours and they still tasted great!), three minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and set aside.

STEP TWO: Drizzle eggplant with one tbsp oil and season with salt and black pepper.  Toss to combine.  Spread eggplant out in a single layer.  Roast in oven at 400F, stirring once, until soft and starting to brown, about 15 minutes.

STEP THREE: Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions, until tender but firm.  Reserve half-cup cooking water and drain pasta.

STEP FOUR: Chop kale roughly.  Heat remaining tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add crushed red pepper and garlic and cook for one minute.  Using tongs, fold in kale and season with salt and black pepper.  Add one tbsp water and cook, stirring occasionally, until kale wilts and becomes soft, about three minutes.

STEP FIVE:  In a large serving bowl, combine penne, eggplant, kale, pine nuts and quarter-cup reserved cooking water, adding more if necessary.  Top with feta and oregano and serve.

Let me know what you think if you cook this meal!