Saturday, June 24, 2017

Marinated Summer Veggies

This is definitely my favorite time of year. I love how for our family; our schedules slow down a bit now that school is out and our evenings don't feel quite so rushed. I also love all of the fresh produce available during these months. Every Saturday morning my family knows to expect making a trip to our local farmers' markets, whether they decide to join me or I happen to get a few moments to myself. It's a favorite part of my weekly routine.

I haven't always loved vegetables as much as I do though. It was about seven years ago when I really started to become interested in sourcing local foods, learning more about farmers' markets and gardening. Sure, I've always liked a good veggie tray and corn on the cob is a must here in Iowa. But vegetables like asparagus, eggplant, kohlrabi and zucchini. I just had never tried them before.

Growing up, mom made plenty of meat and potato type meals. Lots of pot roasts, mashed potatoes and maybe even some steamed green beans on the side. I don't ever recall trying some of the grilled veggies we now like to make. It honestly took me a long time before I came to like cooked vegetables. You could give me any of them to eat raw, but the mushy texture of anything cooked made me turn my nose away.

It wasn't until the last several years that I've started to change my mind. Now we eat so many different varieties of vegetables each week, plenty of them grilled, roasted and even raw. I think it just takes time, trying new methods and new recipes. The kids aren't always the greatest at eating them cooked. I tend to have them try a bite and if they don't want anymore then that's fine. They'll come around some day, just like I have. The hubby has come full circle too. In the past few years he's gotten so much better at eating healthier foods, as long as I let him drizzle hot sauce over those veggies. Hey, anything to sneak in extra nutrients.

Most of the time during the summer we'll just slice up the veggies, toss them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then throw them into a grill pan. They don't need much else as far as seasoning. But I did try a new little marinade this past week. It was a nice change up from our typical side dish yet still let the natural flavors from the vegetables shine through. It was also nice to assemble ahead of time, I always appreciate having dinner ready to go. Gives us more time to spend with each other in the evenings.

You'll want to pop on out to your local market and gather some of your favorite veggies for this marinade. It's very versatile, use what's in season and those that your family enjoys most.

Marinated Summer Veggies

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini,sliced
1 medium summer squash, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into small pieces

In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic. Set aside.

Add all chopped veggies into a large gallon ziploc bag or into a medium sized pan with a lid. Pour marinade over veggies and toss all together. Cover and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes before preparing.

When ready, add veggies to a prepared grill pan lined with foil, season with salt and pepper, and cook over heat for about 15 minutes or until veggies start to soften. You can also cook them over the stove top in a large skillet.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My 3-Day Refresh Experience

Last week I did something a little scary, but really was an eye opening experience for my body. I followed a three day cleanse program, it was my very first... and I survived.

So, you might be wondering why on earth I would want to do such a thing? Well, since I've started on my fitness journey I have heard many friends and fellow coaches talking about this particular three day cleanse and I just have been interested in giving it a try. Now, I understand the body naturally detoxes itself, but this was much more than that. I have been getting some great results through my workout programs and getting my nutrition back on track. But through this experience, I really feel like I've been able to break through any sort of sugar addiction my body still had from when I very first started.

I decided to use the days after Memorial Day to focus on getting back on track. I had just came off of finishing a ten week fitness program, but I did splurge more during my extra long weekend. As you can see from my starting point photo, my stomach was looking and feeling a little extra fluffy that morning. It's amazing what a few adult beverages and a couple treats can do.

I took the afternoon on Memorial Day to prep all of my food. It only took a matter of a couple hours and it was a wonderful feeling to have everything ready to go in the fridge. I'm really not sure how successful I could have been if I wouldn't have taken the time to prep. Included in my program box I received a booklet with all the foods I could choose from. It made it so simple and took all the guesswork out of meal planning.

I chose to eat a lot of the same things throughout those three days, not only because it was cheaper on my pocketbook, but I also really enjoyed the foods I picked out. Breakfast each day was my daily Shakeology drink I typically have, this time it was only prepared using water, a little ice and a serving of fruit mixed in. Mid morning I would drink a quick fiber sweep. It did typically fill me up because I was used to just having a few almonds and yogurt to snack on when I get hungry in the classroom. I had to make sure to quickly drink it though because I have heard and could tell it would get very thick if I didn't. Lunch was a fruit (usually watermelon) and veggies (typically bell peppers) and a healthy fat (avocado) plus my vanilla fresh. It was similar to my morning shake, lots of nutrients included: 200 calories and a good amount of protein. I always felt satisfied after eating lunch. After work I would have a snack of almond butter and celery sticks. It was a sweeter snack that filled me up and let me think I was also getting a treat. Then dinner each night I chose to make a salad, it was one of the larger looking options in the plan.

Going into day 1 was a little exciting and a little scary all at the same time. I did go through spurts in the day where I'd feel hungry, even tired and by the end of the day I had a pretty bad headache. I don't drink coffee, nor caffeine or really any pop at all; so I doubt it was a caffeine withdrawl. But sugar was most likely the cause. I ended my evening with a little peppermint tea and went to bed. By morning I was feeling much better.

Day 2 started off pretty good but I quickly felt really irritable, lousy and just plain hungry by pretty early in my morning. It was also our planning day at school where that day just generally drags anyways plus there was an ice cream machine with all the toppings in the lounge and it was our end of the year potluck celebration. I had decided to make a coleslaw to bring for everyone, but I was sticking to my plan and enjoyed my own prepared lunch. After I got my fiber sweep in later that morning I really started to feel better and really felt great after lunch. I was proud of myself for resisting all the temptations that day.

I couldn't believe how much my stomach had gone down just from the first day and by the time I woke up on day 3, I realized how amazing I was sleeping. I generally do sleep pretty well, but this was a completely different feeling. From not having any added sugars and all the carbs in my diet, I was really feeling wonderful. And I really was not craving anything like I thought I might have been. I will admit that it got a little tempting when cooking my family supper. By the end of my cleanse, I was really just wanting more food. Not that I was feeling really hungry, but I just wanted my typical piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast.

In the end, the scale was down 5 pounds. My husband noticed my face seemed thinner and I could tell a difference in my waist and the pants I wore.

Following last week, I obviously have not kept up with that strict of a diet. I've since added back in some carbs, like my daily piece of toast. The scale has not gone back up. Over the weekend I did enjoy an adult beverage and an ice cream cone. I will say that Sunday night my stomach felt a little bloated and yucky from adding some of that back in. But by morning, it was feeling back to normal. It's just proving to me that I can't eat all the foods, especially on a daily basis, that I used to. I feel so much better when I fuel my body the right way. And while it might not always be the most fun, in the end I'm much happier.

Would I do it again? I think so. Not often, but maybe anytime I'm feeling I might need to clean up my nutrition. It's a great way to get back on track. And I'm glad I gave it a try. I think I learned quit a bit about what my body needs.

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