Weeknight Chopped Salad

Happy Friday morning! I am three weeks out of my January Whole30 reset and I may have fallen off the wagon a little more than I would have liked to. After January was over I went straight onto vacation and I never knew how much southern comfort food Florida had. When I say one morning, I had the largest biscuits and gravy meal I had ever seen, I’m not lying.

But now that I am back, home for a little more than a week, I decided to make sure this week was off to a good start. I made one of my favorite go-to’s and it’s perfect for meal prep earlier in the week. This huge chopped salad is a whole head of lettuce, a can of garbanzo beans, grape tomatoes halved, diced cucumbers, a can of olives halved topped with a little bit of feta. (A girl can’t be away from her cheese for too long.)

Making this salad on a Sunday or Monday allows me to have a quick lunch of dinner whenever I need it throughout the week and to change it up throughout the week, I change the protein I put on top. One day I had grilled sirloin, and one night I had scallops. Grilled shrimp and chicken are always easy to have ready to cook and throw on top also. And of course, to keep it as Whole30 friendly as possible, and because it’s one of the best store bought dressing I’ve ever had: Primal Kitchen’s Dreamy Italian dressing. I mean…. worth every penny.

 

How an Eating Schedule is Helping me Succeed with Whole30

Happy hump day friends! It’s that time of year again. Resolutions, new goals, diets. For the past few years I have been doing Whole30 every January. In 2018 I didn’t do such a great job (I think I only lasted two weeks) and I didn’t even try to do it again in September like I normally do. Well now I am 15 days in (I always do it January 2-31) and I am feeling great.

Okay, well maybe great isn’t exactly the right terminology, but it is definitely doing its job. This weekend I cheated a little bit on my weekend trip to Philadelphia and man did I feel the pain of that cheese steak. I mean you can’t go to Philly and not try a cheese steak but damn, definitely not worth it.

What I like about Whole30 is that it isn’t a normal diet. It’s not here to make you loose weight. You are eating clean so you get rid of your bad eating habits and feel better. So, when I had my greasy steak and cheese, my body freaked out and didn’t know what to do anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a cheat day, but maybe I should have had half of the sandwich instead of the whole thing.

This time around I have created a pretty good eating schedule which has helped a lot.           

   7am – Breakfast
2 cups of black coffee, hard boiled egg or Whole30 frittata
11am – Snack
Larabar or RXBar for a snack to hold me over for a few hours
    2pm – Lunch
rolled lunch meat and veggie sticks, protein and roasted root veggies, salad with protein
  6:30pm – Dinner
spaghetti squash with shrimp, Asian stir fry with cauliflower rice, protein and veggies

This week I meal prepped hard of Sunday. I made a Whole30 meatloaf to head up for lunches or dinners throughout the week, a veggie frittata to have for breakfasts and The Defined Dish’s Whole30 Tom Yum soup. The amount of ingredients intimidated me a little. I am a pretty decent cook but I like to stick to 5 ingredients or less, but wow! It was so easy! I would definitely recommend it.

In the evenings, I usually end up snacking on something, but for the past two weeks I’ve been sticking to hot water with lemon, decaffeinated tea, avocado and tomatoes with TJ’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, or dried mango or plantain chips from Trader Joe’s.

15 more days!

Simple Six Ingredient Fall Dinner

The end of the year is crazy for me at work. Lots of long hours and events, and I generally don’t feel like cooking big dinners once I get home. Because of my big Trader Joe’s haul a few weeks ago, I am fully stocked up on the fall flavors TJ’s have to offer. Last week I cooked up a simple six ingredient meal that had me wanting more. I discovered this Gilbert’s Bourbon Apple chicken sausage, added some gemelli pasta, and Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce and there you had it.

2 Gilbert’s Bourbon Apple chicken sausages
½ shallot, chopped
½ lb Barilla Gemelli
1 cup Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce
¼ cup half & half
½ bag spinach

  1. Boil pasta to the directions on the box.
  2. Sauté shallots in oil and add chicken sausage on medium high until browned.
  3. Once browned add pasta sauce and half &half. Lower heat to medium low and allow to simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and fold into sauce. Allow to wilt down.
  5. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Fold together and serve.

Trader Joe’s Fall Finds

It’s here!!! Some people count down until the day Starbucks releases their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or the holiday menu in November. I count down until Trader Joe’s bring out their harvest treats. I love pumpkin. I am a believe that you can add pumpkin to anything and I t will taste good. So, this year I super stalked my local Trader Joe’s until someone would give me the release date on all of the pumpkin products.

Last year I thought I did good on stocking up on some of these products but I was all out by the new year so this year. With the long winters we have here in Connecticut. I need my pumpkin coffee 5 months out of the year, but damn is it hard to come by. When I went to my local TJ’s there was only ONE pumpkin coffee left in the tin. I always try to get coffee grounds rather than pods just because it goes so much further. But in this case I had to grab some boxes of pods for back up. Someone behind me even got upset that I took the last one… sorry about it.

The pumpkin bread and muffin mix is another awesome go to. Actually I’m a big fan of their corn muffin mix too. I am not a baker so this is the perfect, easy mix to have one hand for a quick breakfast or to bring to a brunch when you’re in a pinch. And you can always add chocolate chips to the pumpkin mix to make it a little more of a dessert.

Trader Joe’s Greek Yogurts are by far my favorites. Again another quick breakfast idea so I had to pick up a few of these along with some new tries. I’m not sure if this Pumpkin Soup is new or if I’ve just never seen it before but I can’t wait to try that. Something else that I saw for the first time was this Harvest Spice Trek Mix. It looked perfect for my flight tomorrow. I am off to Canada and with a whole day of travel, you know I like to have something in my back pocket to snack on. What are your favorite fall finds at TJ’s?

Whole 30: Week Two

Each January I take full advantage of it as a time to reset. I blame it on my time in retail where January was the time of year we could take vacation freely, work 30-hour weeks if we want, and had very little work. My January reset is kind of a big deal to me and I use it to plan a lot of my upcoming year. The new year means no more holiday excuses when it comes to food, not working out, and just being straight lazy.

Two years ago I did Whole 30 for the first time and it was amazing. I learned a lot about myself like a. I have very little self control and b. it’s a lot harder to teach an old dog new tricks than I thought. But two years ago, I did a lot better than I had expected. Last January I did Whole 30 again but I went on a trip home in the middle of the month and when you only get to eat your Italian mom’s cooking a few times a year, you eat as much pasta and cheese you can.

This December I indulged more than I have in the past. My job was slow, the cookies seemed to be endless and the wine was often. And hello an extra 10 pounds.

I am two weeks into Whole 30 and just like with anything, there are things I am winning at and things I am sucking at.

Biggest changes since the first time I did it

The biggest change that I have made since the first time I did Whole 30 is something that definitely affects me every day, and something that I didn’t really know ever affected me before. I have cut a lot of dairy out of my daily diet. I drank creamer in my coffee and now I like it black. I cut back a lot on ice cream, which is a big difference in my life. (Ice cream was really the only dessert I was allowed growing up and I worked at an ice cream shop while in high school. Ice cream was like a religion before.)

Since cutting back on dairy I’ve switched solely to almond milk for everything I need milk for. My protein shakes and even my Kraft Mac and Cheese gets almond milk. (I said I cut out most dairy… cheese is still in my life.) It makes me feel 100 times better. I never realized the way dairy slows me down and really just makes me feel like crap. Now cheese doesn’t affect me at all, which I am beyond grateful for. (Have you ever had non-dairy cheese? Yuck!)

What I’m buying

I do most of my grocery shopping at Trader Joes which is a great spot to pick up ingredients for quick and easy meals on Whole 30. Most of my lunches are salads with a protein. I love topping TJ’s turkey burger on a salad or chicken. Here are some of my other go tos:

Proteins: chicken sausage, chicken, ground turkey, salmon, shrimp, eggs
Veggies: zoodles, riced cauliflower/broccoli, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, butternut squash, avocado, broccoli slaw
Snacks: dehydrated fruits, almond butter, rice thins, Larabars, salsa verde, apples

Where I’m cheating and where I’m not

Okay, if I am completely honest I would have to say I am 85% complaint on Whole 30. I have cheated a few times when it comes to small ingredients. If I’m out getting dinner with friends or having dinner at my parents I use real salad dressing. I try my hardest to keep the main part of my meal complaint but a restaurant has a oil and vinegar based dressing, I’m going to go for it. I’m not about eating romaine lettuce with some lemon and calling it a day.

I also have cheated with dairy based butters. I was at my mom’s and she only had yogurt butter spread. Girls got to do what a girls got to do. And I figured that’s already better than real butter so it’s only halfway cheating. Right?

But there are some parts of Whole 30 that I am not even walking the line of cheating. My biggest problems, for sure, are cheese, carbs, and alcohol. So far two weeks in I haven’t touched any of them. I mean what I would do for a dish of pasta and a good glass of wine, but I’m halfway done with my 30 days so it’s all up from here.

The key is introducing these back into my diet in moderation. It’s been pretty easy for the alcohol. It has been beyond cold here so instead of a glass of wine, I’ve been opting for some hot tea. And not many people do much in the winter in New England as far as going out to dinners or bars, so meal prepping has been my best friend.