Regroup

It’s probably not super surprising to learn that I have not been feeling very motivated the past few weeks. Summertime is so fun and feels  carefree, and I’m very easily distracted. For a while I was on vacation and then I got back to the inevitable post-vacation blues (and the intense allergy attack that always greets my return to the Midwest). So I was lax in my dietary restrictions. I kept telling myself I wanted to get back to eating clean and avoiding foods that aren’t cleansing, and then I’d say, no, it’s okay, I’ll start tomorrow for sure. I don’t know if I was really bad compared to other people, but last week was certainly my least healthy week in months. This past weekend I was finally feeling like I was tired of not trying so hard, and I’m sure my less than great eating wasn’t helping my sinus situation. However, I had a lot of social obligations this weekend, which made it a really great weekend until Sunday morning came around and all the carbs, saturated fats and alcohol sugars really made themselves known. Honestly, I was worried my motivation was gone forever.

Today I woke up feeling the most congested I thus far. My voice was hoarse and my head was heavy. But, today instead of letting myself drown in comfort food and self-pity over not feeling good, I took some meds and decided to get it together.

First, I cleaned our whole house. I worked on areas that are nearly perpetually cluttered or grimy that we usually overlook. It helped so much. It’s hard for me to feel like keeping my body clean when the place where it spends 80% of the time is dirty. But now, the floors are shiny and the table tops are cleared and I finally feel that energy I’ve been missing the last three weeks or so. I was still so energized after the cleaning was done that I went to the gym, even though I hadn’t planned on it for today.

This new inspiration for clean living also meant eating well at every meal. For breakfast, I didn’t have enough fruit to make juice or a smoothie, so I ate half an avocado that was about to go bad. Maybe not the most conventional breakfast choice but it’s better than pancakes. For lunch I went to the market to pick up some things, and while I was there I grabbed a Greek wrap, which is literally a Greek salad wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I supplemented it with some hummus for protein. For dinner, I decided to make an effort for the first time in probably a week. Dinner was roasted broccolini with garlic, quinoa and cherries.

Roasted Broccolini with Garlic Quinoa (and some cherries)

The quinoa was a recipe I made up on the spot. I’ve talked about quinoa before, but I’m always trying to find new ways to make it interesting.

Garlic Quinoa

Servings: 3-4

  • 1/2 cup Dry Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (I use Trader Joe’s Organic)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 TBL Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Garlic quinoa, after the liquid evaporates

Add everything to a small saucepan. Set stove to high heat, bring liquid to a fast boil. Stir. Reduce heat to low-medium/simmer, cover the saucepan, let it simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally (takes 15-20 minutes). I recommend watching it after 15 or 16 minutes because if it cooks too long some of the quinoa will stick to the bottom. I think stirring will also help with that.

The result is a sort of orange-ish color quinoa that is very fragrant (and delicious!). I’ll probably mess around with other spices in the future, maybe red pepper flakes or paprika.

Along with the quinoa, I roasted some broccolini and garlic in 1.5 tablespoons of oil. Set oven at 400, roast for 20 minutes, stirring once in the middle. I tried not to get it too well done because I wanted it to maintain all its nutrients.

I’ve only recently started considering broccolini. I grabbed it at the grocery last week because it looked good, so I decided to do some research. It turns out, there are a lot of rumors about our new friend, broccolini. It is for sure a hybrid. The child of broccoli. But I guess it is the soap opera star of the vegetable world because nobody seems to know for sure who his daddy is. One site I read said he was a mix of broccoli and kale, which excited me because I am always looking to increase my leafy green intake. Another site said it’s broccoli and asparagus. A third site then said it is a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli, which appears to be a different kale-like green leafy vegetable in the cabbage family. I’ve essentially decided it doesn’t really matter because either way, it is crazy healthy, and that’s the goal! My entire life is one big Cold War against iron deficiency, and broccolini is an awesome iron-rich weapon for my stockpile.  But this is off-topic!

So the entire day was a success, which I needed! Today was the kind of day I should be having every day, and as a result I feel the best I’ve felt in a week, if not longer. I realize eating so lightly every day might not be realistic, but hopefully my inspiration is back for good, and I can keep thinking of ways to make clean eating enjoyable, rather than seeming like a burden the way it has of late. So, hopefully this is a real turnaround moment, and this renewed positive attitude sticks around!

-lj

Resistance Band Workouts

Ever since my horrible experience with the personal trainer, I have been looking into different ways to work on strengthening. Even though the trainer was awful, I like circuit training with the weight machines fine. Still, I thought I would “shop around”. In the past, when I have been in really great shape, it’s been largely due to group fitness. In college, I went to yoga classes four times a week, plus three or four cardio workouts (at different times). Sometimes I would also go to Pilates class, which I really loved. At the second generation of my strong physical fitness, I went to a class that was essentially a cardio core class, that combined strength-training into an aerobic workout. That class made a lot of use of rubber resistance bands. I really loved that class as well.

This time around, when I started out three months ago I was in (probably) the worst shape of my life, as I have written about before. I had to consider realistic possibilities for working out. I practiced yoga as a spiritual exercise as much as a physical one, and while that is important, I am not really in the same place right now–not to mention I seriously doubt the lunchtime yoga class at my big chain gym focuses on cleansing the spirit. As for Pilates, quite frankly I am insecure about my size and ability still and am not sure I am ready to surround myself with 40 girls with the dancer’s physique, which is how I imagine Pilates class will look…even if I also know it isn’t.

So when I was looking for alternative strength training, I asked a friend about it who used to make her living as a personal trainer. (I would have pulled her out of retirement but 200 miles and a serious hip injury make it futile.) Anyway, I asked her what she thought I should do and she suggested resistance bands, which reminded me of the third type of fitness class I really loved. So I did some web-searching, and furniture drawer-searching, and found a pretty thorough list of both new and old exercises to do with resistance bands.

The bands are great because they allow you to use your own muscles as resistance. This obviously objective website points out that with free weights a lot of the resistance is gravity, but with the bands, things are more fluid. You can move them in more directions and do more things with them.

I’ve been using the bands for several weeks now and I still think they are great. After my walk or cardio workout at the gym, I pick several of the exercises below and do three 15 rep sets of them, using as many different poses as will fill up a 43 minute episode of Law and Order on Netflix. Or sometimes I will just do all of the exercises listed below and skip the cardio. I should probably have more of a routine but currently I do whatever fits my mood (and guilt counts as a mood).

Here are the exercises I currently do, using this band:

Go Fit Brand Resistance Band (came in a set of three)
Standing
  1. Bicep curl: stand with middle of band under feet, hold end of band in each hand, curl arms up
  2. Tricep Extensions: put one end of band under left foot, hold other end in right hand, face arm toward ceiling (inner arm next to ear) extend arm up at elbow
  3. Shoulder raise: band under left foot (with ~8 inches out to the side bc i’m short) other end’s handle in left hand, put other foot out in front of you, bend upper body at 45 degree angle, keep back straight. Raise arm straight out until arm/shoulder are in straight line and parallel with floor
  4. Shoulder drop: band under left foot (with ~8 inches out to the side bc i’m short) other end’s handle in left hand, put other foot out in front of you, bend upper body at 45 degree angle, keep back straight. Hold arm out to side, parallel to floor. Lower arm.
  5. Cross-body Twist: one end of band under left foot, other end in right hand, start in semi-crouched position (knees bent) with core facing ~10 o’clock, rise and straighten, bringing arm across the torso and ending up over head.
  6. Standing Row: stand with middle of band under left foot. step right foot back a step. Bend upper body at 45 degree angle with back straight. Hold band w one handle in each hand, pull band up and back in rowing motion, squeezing shoulder blades together
  7. Squat: Two options: 1. Middle of band under feet, handles in hands, hold so hands are near clavicles, shoulder level, with elbows out, then squat. 2. Same start, but start standing with arms at sides, then pull in bicep curl up as squatting down.
  8. Butterfly Press: Hold arms at 90 degree angles at shoulder level, parallel to floor. Hold band at the middle, wrapping excess around wrists until the band is tight, move arms in until they touch, slowly move back to starting position
  9. Front Kick: Stand with feet hip-width apart, foot band around feet; open legs to point of tension. Step on one end of handled tube with left foot; grip other end behind back with both hands, palms up, elbows forward. Bend right knee and raise leg, thigh parallel to floor. Extend right leg slowly as you press arms overhead (as shown). Return to start.
  10. Back Kick: Stand with feet staggered, left foot in front of right, foot band around feet. Place center of handled tube under left foot and grasp handle in each hand, knuckles up. Lift right foot about 6 inches off floor behind you, knee slightly bent, toes down. Lean forward as you extend right leg straight back and curl arms toward chest
  11. Side Leg Lift: Tie resistance band into a circle and place it around both of your ankles before lifting one leg at a time out as far as you can against the band. Use the wall/the back of a chair/some other furniture piece for balance if necessary. 
  12. There should be some lunges listed here but they hurt my bad foot so much I cannot include them! 

Mat

  1. Pelvic Push: Lie flat on back, with band flush against hips, hands at sides holding either end. Keeping hands/band ends pressed into mat at sides, slowly raise hips toward ceiling. Slowly come back down.
  2. Leg Lower: Start with back on mat, legs facing ceiling at 90 degrees to body. Wrap band around feet, criss-cross ends in front, hold handles one in each hand at sides (near hips), slowly lower legs to ground (not quite resting heels on floor) raise back up.
  3. Tricep Push Up: Start in modified (girl-pose) push up position. Wrap band around back, with one end under each hand. Raise body with arms (do a push up), then lower back down.
  4. Chest Press: Lie on back with band under chest, one handle with each arm. Alternating between arms, raise arm up toward ceiling.
  5. Side Leg Lift: Lie on one side, legs one on top of other. Place top foot in band handle (or tie band around foot). Either place the other handle around the bottom foot or place the band under bottom heel (if you are short like me and using the whole band is not enough resistance). Lift leg as far as possible. Lower and repeat.
As I said I really enjoy the resistance band exercises. I’m probably to a point now where I could keep up with an hour of Pilates, but for the most part I enjoy the bands and will keep going with them. In fact, although I did want to give a much needed exercise update, I mostly wrote this entry so I could have an easy to access place for my band routine.
If anyone has any other exercises they like to do with resistance bands (or any other great strength training alternatives!) I’d love to hear them!

Compromising for the win.

Well, after nearly three full weeks of feeling unmotivated and lackadaisical about my healthy living goals, this week I finally have pulled it together.  I was planning to do another cleanse, as a sort of jumpstart to re-amp my routine. But life got in the way, and what I think I have instead is even better. I finally feel like I’ve found common ground. I’m not depriving myself absolutely, but at the same time I am being very cautious. I think this is the best technique because I don’t risk feeling like I can overindulge when a cleanse is over after a certain amount of time. This is a more lasting solution (hopefully!).

Since I laid out my formula several weeks ago, I haven’t changed what I am doing for my diet. I’m still avoiding sugar, gluten, dairy, meat, processed foods and alcohol as much as possible. That’s a long no-no list, and I realize it is crazy to think I can sustain like that for too long. But the difference between two months ago and now is that I am willing to compromise. Last night, a friend was in town unexpectedly and wanted to go to dinner. I was supposed to be cleansing this week, but rather than sit there and stare at the menu, feel sad, and end up cheating more than I intended, I got the healthiest salad on the menu that still sounded appetizing, and I put a piece of salmon on it, because I figured I might as well have the protein while it was around.

I’m compromising in other ways, too. A big cheat for me for the last two months has been through trail mix. Nuts, dried fruit, and something sugary. Not too bad. But the problem was portion control. I’d get a half a pound meaning for it to last half the week, but instead it would last a day and a half. Instead, I’ve been eating larabars. It’s so much easier to monitor portions because it’s a bar, a singular piece of snack. They are mostly made of dates, and then there are a variety of flavors. Currently, I am partial to chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate chip peanut butter. But the thing about them is they contain neither cookie dough nor peanut butter. Just dates, a few chocolate chips and either cashews or peanuts, respectively. I have come to accept that a small handful of chocolate chips will not cause my entire demise, and it’s a lot better than a Snickers. FYI they look like this-

I’ve also found compromises in the other direction. Last week I talked about my guilt over eating my friend’s delicious pasta dinner. It really was so good though, so I got the recipe from her. However, instead of using wheat-based pasta, I used spaghetti squash. Even though it still tastes a little like squash, it is a fantastic substitute for noodles, because after it is cooked it breaks apart into noodle-shaped strands. I wasn’t too confident in this recipe because I didn’t know how the ripe, springy tomato-basil taste would mix with the more autumnal flavors of the spaghetti squash, but I was not disappointed. It was perfect. The original recipe calls for parmesan cheese, but in the spirit of compromise I left it out. I missed it a little bit but not enough to change my opinion on this meal’s success. Plus, the whole thing is crazy easy to make, and will be a lovely dinner when it starts getting really hot out in the summer.

Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro

Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro

Serves 2.

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 Cups OR 3/4 Carton Cherry Tomatoes (I used a whole tub but that was too many.)
  • 1 Tbsp Diced Onion
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Basil (you can use less, I just like basil)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven for 375˚F. Grease a baking pan. Poke a few wholes in the squash. Bake the squash in the pan for about an hour. Cut the squash in half “on the equator” and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, scoop out the pulp and seeds. Once they are removed, use a fork to scrape down the sides of the squash. The fork will help get the noodle effect you want from the squash. Place in bowl, mix with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and salt & pepper.

Chop all tomatoes in half. Mix with diced onions, garlic, and 1/3 of the basil. Top with salt (if desired). Then cover in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and mix.

Finally, add the tomato mixture to the spaghetti. Drizzle with remainder of olive oil. Mix. Top with black pepper and the remainder of the basil. Enjoy!

I really like this recipe, and I like that it is different from what I normally eat. The flavors worked together surprisingly well. And even though the squash takes a while to bake, the prep time is not too extensive. Definitely recommend!

So, hopefully my new upswing will last a while. I expect ruts are a natural part of this process and I can deal with that. But I’m hopeful that if I keep finding nutritious ways to trick myself, like Larabars and spaghetti squash, the downswings will be fewer and farther between.

-lj

Exercise Philosophy

It’s been a while since I posted! I have been really busy with work. Also, to be honest I hit a sort of rut for a couple of weeks. A lot of it has honestly been that eating healthy can be such a time commitment, whereas eating still-sort-of-healthy but not up to my goals is a lot easier. But this week I’ve been working on getting back on the right track.

One thing I did do right is join a gym, and that’s what I want to talk about. It’s been mostly great so far! I’m still walking outside a couple of times a week because I like to be in the sun. But a few times a week, 2 or 3, I’ve been going to the gym to do cardio. I generally do 35 minutes on the elliptical and anywhere from 10 to 25 on the recumbent bike. I like the sense of accomplishment I get from going to the gym, even though sometimes the walk seems like just as intense a workout.

I’ve been avoiding any kind of strength training so far, though. I haven’t really felt good enough in my body to do it, so I was planning on continuing with cardio and nutrition until I lost a little more weight, and then I would work in weight training, Pilates and yoga.

However, I joined LA Fitness, a national chain, and they offer a free workout with a personal trainer for new members (standard practice for big gyms). I thought it wouldn’t hurt to see what a trainer would have to say about what would be good for me and what kind of things I should focus on.  So, I went. And unfortunately it was a really terrible experience.

My trainer asked me first thing when I got there, if I was interested in pursuing a personal training program full time. I told him, honestly it would depend on pricing. I am a poor little freelance writer and don’t have a lot of extra cash to burn. Well, immediately I could see that the direction of my training session was going to take a brand new course.

Granted, there were some things that were my fault. I didn’t eat enough beforehand, having only had juice and some fruit all day. I also forgot my water bottle but there were plenty of drinking fountains in the room, so I thought it would be fine.

I went to personal training hoping to get a good idea of what would be useful for me personally. What are good exercises someone with my level of fitness and my size. He was not interested in helping me with any of that. I tried to tell him how much I have accomplished so far on my own but he interrupted me and changed the subject. Instead of helping me as an individual, he took me through the training session of someone who already uses a personal trainer. At every machine the weight was one step higher than it should have been, so I could barely complete the last half of each segment. And, he was going so fast, I didn’t have a chance to note which machines we were using (I know most of them, but some were new to me) and more importantly I didn’t get a chance to see what weight I was using. On top of that, he took a very militaristic approach, yelling at me and calling me a quitter when my muscles would give out. This was yesterday. By last night I was too sore to move much and for most of today I couldn’t get out of bed. I am typing like a tyrannosaurus rex with just my wrists and fingers because I have very limited movement in my arms.

Now, this is extreme. He was horrible and instead of making me feel great about the future of my fitness journey and feeling confident in all I’ve accomplished already, he made me just feel weak. To be honest with you, I was practically in tears by the time I left the gym. Although that might have been partially due to low blood sugar.

Now I’ve had a little time to process everything that happened. More than one loved one suggested I complain to the gym’s management about how many ways that trainer upset me. But, I’m not really interested in that, since I have to keep going to this gym and potentially seeing him.

What I am interested in, is figuring out what can be learned from this experience. The first thing is that, even though he was an unfriendly stranger who was not interested in providing guidance, he accidentally was useful in one way. He was a reminder that I do have a long way to go. Not knowing me, not knowing how much I’ve accomplished already, I probably looked like a lost cause to him, just there because it was free and that was that. I certainly don’t want people making assumptions about me (especially negative ones) but it’s not so incorrect. For all that I’ve done already, I’m really only just starting. I’ve made it maybe 10% of the way so far. That’s not enough.

The other thing it made me think about was how I want to proceed with working out. I don’t want to be a body builder, but I do understand cardio isn’t always going to be enough. Maybe it would be enough for weight loss, but I want total wellness. Things like strength and balance are as much a part of that as everything else I’ve been doing. The trainer said if you aren’t pushing yourself every time you work out, there’s no point. I can’t decide if I buy into that philosophy. Certainly it’s not productive to have 24 hours of injury for every 45 minutes of weight train. But at the same time it was kind of a wake up call that maybe it’s time to rise up to a next level.  I haven’t totally decided what the next level is but I will work it out.

-lj

(Un)Comfort Food

I’m having a bad day. Not the worst day ever, but it’s Monday and cloudy and I didn’t get any sleep because I was up all night working on a project for work. So, although today is a much needed day off, where I had a long list of things I needed to accomplish, literally zero sleep and stress and grouchiness have replaced motivation with self-pity.

On that long list of things to do was grocery shop. I’m not completely out of food, but all the good stuff is gone and most of the other stuff is wilty (or simply not edible without the aforementioned good stuff). I already had a rice cake with peanut butter, because I didn’t have enough produce for juice, so I didn’t want that again for lunch.

Basically the entire day was a spiral toward take-out comfort food for lunch (and dinner, let’s be real.) My ultimate comfort food also happens to be the most accessible food in the midwestern United States: the pizza. For particularly raucous pity parties I like to order a cheese pizza topped with extra mozzarella.  I mean, I seriously love this stuff. Sometimes when I am tired of salad and feeling blue I stare at this photo that I keep on my phone:

Image
I assume other people do this with pictures of say, pets or loved ones.

Luckily my favorite pizza joint in town delivers straight to my house, with the added bonus of online ordering so I could stay as clear of society as humanly possible. In a fit of guilt I amended my order to the healthy crust option, which is made from whole grains (I think mostly whole wheat). We’ll get to that in a minute.

I was pretty excited about it when it arrived, but immediately upon eating it I noticed three different evolutionary changes in my relationship with my closest ally, cheese pizza.

1. It is not as delicious anymore. I had an exact taste in my sense memory deposit, but for some reason when I bit into this reality, it just did not live up to expectations. I think, honestly, it is a combination of two things: 1. guilt. 2. I’m just not used to eating any of those foods anymore. Maybe I’m just not used to the taste of bread or cheese anymore. Or maybe the pizza place was having an off day? Today’s version did not look as vibrant as the picture above. But really I think that my heart is just not in it anymore.

2. I have a longstanding feud with my respiratory system. I am well known amongst my circle of friends for being sick almost once a month. I get sinus infections like no one’s business, probably 3 or 4 a year. Since my cleanse last month, I have been cautiously optimistic maybe I had alleviated a lot of these problems through my dietary changes. I don’t wake up congested or with a sore throat very often, whereas before this was literally a daily event. Last week my mom told me I didn’t sound like I had a cold on the phone for the first time in like 25 years. But today eating this thick whole wheat bread, my nose started running immediately. It was nuts! It could also have been exhaustion/outdoor allergies, but I think it was the bread.

3. I did not find comfort. I did not find solace in the warm tasty gooeyness of my lunch. Instead I felt even more tired, which I didn’t think possible, and bad about myself because it was a little early in the week for my cheat meal.

I only made it through 2 pieces, though. Which is a great testament to how well my diet is doing. Normally I could get through four or five of those within two commercial breaks. Now I am more conscious of what and when I am eating, and my stomach is just not prepared for a full capacity adventure like half a large pizza anymore.

So now, I have two obstacles: six pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge and a void where my old comfort food standards used to be. I tried the opposite approach at dinner, but my super green veggie smoothie did not really make me feel better either. (Although I did feel like it was a success getting through it!) So now, the important thing for days like today, is to find something that is delicious but will help my stress, not add to it.

Suggestions are welcome, by the way!

– lj

Another Recipe Post (Still About Black Beans)

Over the weekend I posted about the giant pot of black beans I made. I also made a big pot of quinoa but the process is infinitely less exciting. Anyway, turns out that when you make food, you are supposed to actually eat it! Thus this week I have been trying to think up/find some delicious healthy recipes for black beans and quinoa.

I use Pinterest for these kinds of things a lot. It’s a great medium for finding recipe recommendations, so it is a go to for new ideas. When I thought of black beans & quinoa I automatically thought of a recipe that was all over the place on Pinterest a few weeks ago. The Superfood Salad. It was one I’d wanted to try for a while so I was happy to finally give myself the opportunity.

The thing is, I had been thinking about making this for so long that I thought I had the recipe memorized. I was wrong. First of all, I used mango instead of oranges. I left out the shrimp and corn. There were probably some other differences too. So basically I only remembered 4 ingredients and went with them!

Still, it turned out deliciously and was easy to make.

Quinoa Mango Salad

The recipe (my version!) was absurdly easy:

Quinoa Mango Salad

  • 1/2 Cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Black Beans (see previous post)
  • 1 Small Avocado
  • 1 Cup Diced Mango
  • 1/4 Pomegranate Arils
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Vinaigrette

Dressing:

  • Lemon Juice from 1 Lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons EEOV
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • Pinch Salt
  • Pinch Pepper
  • Put in small mason jar, shake, refrigerate extra

First, to cook the quinoa, you can either cook a whole bunch to store away or just make the amount for this recipe. Add the quinoa, 1/2 tablespoon of oil, and then water at a 2:1 ratio. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until there is no water left (about 15 minutes). Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set aside to let it cool while you chop everything else.

Chop avocado and mango, and prepare dressing. I buy the pomegranate arils at Trader Joe’s already pulled from the fruit, but if you buy the whole fruit, extract the arils.

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix if you want. Cover with 1 tablespoon dressing. Eat. Enjoy!

Note: This is a very large helping and was almost too much for me. Also if you haven’t noticed yet I love avocado so you could put in less if you want!

Another recipe I wanted to try, came from my imagination. Lately I have been really missing my beloved Mexican food. So, I decided to try and make something reminiscent, using the ingredients that are allowed in my diet and are already in my fridge. The result was a combination of taco salad and the superfood mix listed above.

Mexican-Style Power Salad

This salad was really good and insanely filling. The mix of quinoa, black beans and corn provides a a perfect protein, meaning it contains all of the necessary amino acids the body needs. Normally it is difficult to get all of these at once in a vegan diet. In my Mexican craving I broke down and added some reduced fat shredded cheese to the salad, but honestly I think it was unnecessary and I would probably keep it off next time. That’s right, I’d rather NOT have the cheese next time. This is what we call personal growth, ladies and gentleman!!

Mexican-Style Power Salad

  • 2 Handfuls Romaine Lettuce, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 Cup Black Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Corn
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded “Mexican Mix” Reduced Fat Cheese (Optional)
  • 1/2 Medium Tomato, chopped
  • 1 small Avocado (or 1/2 a large one)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Red Onion
  • Couple dashes of cayenne pepper (optional)

I thought about adding a lime vinaigrette (olive oil, lime juice, cayenne, salt) but I honestly think this salad worked better without it. These flavors are strong and blend together well, and if your avocado is ripe enough, it should be creamy and oily enough to seem like dressing, especially mixed with juice from the beans and the tomato.

I’ll be honest. Despite the fact that I could have done without the cheese on this salad, it didn’t take away my craving for some creamy saturated fat filled cheese sauce over a deep fried chimichanga. But now that I really think about it, even imagining eating that makes me feel tired and greasy, which is not a feeling I enjoy too much. So I think if I can just work past the cravings, and keep finding ways to substitute and compromise, I should be in good shape! (Pun definitely intended.)

-lj