A Life Changed

It took me a long time to get the guts to write this post because, frankly, I didn't know how to approach it. "I'm baaccckkk" sounded too cheesy and flippant (and like something from "The Shining?"). Ignoring my absence entirely (approach option #2) just seemed odd and apathetic, not something I want this blog to ever be. And, as much as I want this blog to be about big health issues and wellness, I would be kidding myself if I thought I could accomplish what I want to accomplish without being personal because:

A. It's not who I am. and

B. It's not real.

When I read other people's blogs, I look for authenticity, honesty, and people who just seem to...I don't know, not BS about their lives. I don't exist in a vacuum.  So, let's make a deal. Although I won't put a spotlight on my personal life and loved ones, it would be rude to not to set the stage for 2015.  So this is me, setting the stage about where I'm at this very moment, 4 months from my last post:

I am currently sitting in a small office in a different apartment from where I was 4 months ago. 

In the course of those 4 months, I have ended a relationship and begun a new one; suffice it to say that it was a rollercoaster of epic proportions.  (But undeniably worth it)

The comfy t-shirt I am currently wearing is not my own but it is oh so comfy :) 

I no longer serve at a restaurant downtown. Instead I work at an independent grocery store that specializes in local and organic foods - it's as great as it sounds but can be a bit monotonous at times. (what job isn't?)

I am sitting cross-legged in my first pair of Lululemon pants, feeling 10% guilty about buying into a fad, but 90% awesome because they're awesome :)

I juice now!

A couple weeks ago I weighed myself at my new gym for the first time in a year and I was so proud at myself for not freaking out over a number #winning :)

I am toying with the idea of getting certified as a personal trainer...?

I applied to the masters in nutrition program of my choice and am now anxiously waiting for a decision. (emphasis on anxious)

My hair is still short and I still have my goofy, ever-so-slightly-fatter cat, Luna. (Don't ask me how those two thoughts are related, I couldn't tell you) 

I still am in love with my morning oats. I know you were worried ;) (lately it's pumpkin oats *drool*)

My wake-up time has shifted from 5:30am to 8-9am - I feel a little closer to normal now.

But basically, I am just happy :)

Love,

Aly

 

 

 

One-pot Sausage, Veg, & Rice Skillet [Yes, I eat meat.]

Happy Monday everyone :) 

Even though my life is a kinda sorta spiraling vortex of class/work/class/lab, I wanted to stop by today to say HI, take a little bitty break from my Diet Discourse series, and let you in on a quick recipe for great dinners and lunches and it involves, wait for it, meat. Yup, meat. 

Now, if I had a nickel for how many times people have expressed surprise over me eating meat I'd have a good chunk of my student loans paid off :) While I think it is awesomely amazing that our culture is beginning to emphasize the importance of non-animal foods (lame phrase I just came up with), I am a firm believer that meat can have a place in a healthy diet. Now, before I turn an army of vegetarian-vegans against me (love you all!), I just want to set a few things straight:

1. I do not eat a meat-based diet. Some weeks I don't eat hardly any meat, other weeks I'll have something with meat in it. I go with the flow people. This Wisconsin girl has cravings that cannot be denied! [I like to think of it as my own loose interpretation of Mark Bittman's VB6 diet]

2. I believe in getting the best-quality (organic, pasture-raised) meat you can and using it to flavor dishes, not so much to be the superstar in them. Want to know how this works? Let me explain via my great recipe below :)

3. I dabbled in vegetarianism, even veganism, but honestly, my body feels best when I do not put restrictions on it. If I'm craving a brat, I eat one. If I want cheesecake, I'll have a slice. This does not mean that I will eat these things all-day every day, but goodness people stop denying yourself of some of life's pleasures!

Alright, now for the recipe!

One-pot Sausage, Veg, & Rice Skillet (serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 sausage (eater's choice! I love brats, italian sausage, chicken sausage, anything really!)
  • 1 cup chopped kale 
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped red bell pepper*
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp-1 tbsp tomato paste (optional
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (optional but not really)

Method

  • Squeeze the sausage out of the casing and into a medium-sized saucepan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and start cooking, chopping the sausage into chunks with a spatula and stirring often to ensure even browning. 
  • Once the meat is cooked, toss in all the veg and turn down the heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes, or however long it takes until the kale wilts and the bell peppers soften. 
  • Toss in the cup of brown rice and tomato paste, if using, and stir. Cook for a minute or two to heat the rice up.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melty.
  • Serve!

*Feel free to use whatever veg you want! I happened to add a little summer squash to mine and it was fantastic! Mushrooms, spinach, onions, zucchini would all be great substitutions/additions!

Step-by-Step Photos

Assemble the team! (Note that you will not use a whole zucchini or bell pepper for this recipe. )

Assemble the team! (Note that you will not use a whole zucchini or bell pepper for this recipe. )

Squeeze out the meat from the casing and start cookin' over medium-high heat!

Squeeze out the meat from the casing and start cookin' over medium-high heat!

Once the sausage is cooked, toss in the veg and turn the heat down to medium. Stir occasionally and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and peppers soften. 

Once the sausage is cooked, toss in the veg and turn the heat down to medium. Stir occasionally and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and peppers soften. 

Throw in your brown rice and tomato paste and continue cooking for another couple minutes, until the rice is heated through.

Throw in your brown rice and tomato paste and continue cooking for another couple minutes, until the rice is heated through.

Toss in the cheese, stir, and serve!

Toss in the cheese, stir, and serve!

Have a great day everyone! 

 

Diet Discourse: The Low-Carb Diet [Part 2]

Wow, I cannot believe how fast this week went by and now another Monday is upon us! Which can only mean that it's time for another edition of Diet Discourse! Are you excited? No? Okay, well maybe you should read this first and then come back here, reassess your level of excitement and anticipation, and then proceed...

Alright, (now that everyone's up to speed) so I made myself a guinea pig and put myself on a low-carb diet for experimental purposes to see what the big fuss was all about. Big whoop. And what do I conclude? Well let's slow it down for just two seconds and chat about what I did, how I did it, and the pros and cons of my experience. 

[Note: Everyone's experience regarding diets will be different so please do not take my word as fact. This, and really this whole blog-thingy, is a representation of my opinion. Go your own way people- like Forrest!

What I Did

Simple version: I ate a generally low-carb diet.

But what does that even mean and how does it translate to the plate and eventually to our bellies? Well, after much internal hemming and hawwing, day one I decided to count exactly how many carbs I would be eating that day and I clocked out at around 150 grams. (I googled some numbers for what can be considered "low-carb" and that was within the range I saw most often) While originally I did not feel like this was a necessary or compelling first step, I realized quickly that most of these diets are hinged on numbers. So I crunched them. Bam.

Things that were higher in carbs that I cut down on in my diet were ingredients such as bread and fruit whereas lower carb items such as eggs, nut butters/oils, and veggies I amped up. Note that, because I do not really consume any refined/processed carbohydrates to begin with, these were the ingredients I cut down on. Obviously it would be a different process for another individual but you gotta start somewhere!

How I Did It

25 house points to whoever gets this reference!!! (Source: http://www.hauntiholik.com/Laboratory/Lab0.jpg)

25 house points to whoever gets this reference!!! (Source: http://www.hauntiholik.com/Laboratory/Lab0.jpg)

To me, this was (in theory) the easy part. I simply replaced every slab of bread with some carrots and peanut butter or a dollop of greek yogurt or a hard boiled egg. Why did I sacrifice my (more than daily) daily bread? Well, while baking your own bread and all is a fine hobby, it leaves one with a, how to put it, constant craving. Try having the yeasty scent of rising dough greet you when you get home from a long day of chemical equations and carbon reactions and not give in to just a slice. (or five) Not happening.

Prior to this week, bread was what I grabbed for a snack or paired with any meal. And, the sad thing is, bread (even the whole wheat kind we make) is really easy to overdo. I mean, just thinking about a slice slathered with drippy peanut butter is making my mouth water as I write. So I just said no for a week. And that was that. Well...sorta. Let's just talk about some pros before we address that though, kay?

Pros

  1. My bread cravings that I thought for sure would haunt me vanished. -After I stopped relying on bread to get me through the day, my cravings for more of the doughy stuff just dropped off like that. This is probably due to #2.
  2. I depended on a more diverse diet to get me through the day -Prior to this week, my consumption of good quality proteins was lackluster at best so boosting my intake via eggs, yogurt, peanut butter really helped me stay full for longer than normal. In addition to this, I also added more vegetable-based snacks and dishes to my diet that paired them with healthy fats. Again, this kept the tummy happy and my infamous hangry-ness at bay.
  3. Did I mention I wasn't really ever hangry? This was a BIG DEAL that I did not realize until late in the game. I guess the concentrated amount of carbohydrates I was eating before this week was really doing a number on my blood sugar. Good to know!

Cons

  1. Counting carbohydrates is not a sustainable (or fun) practice - In fact, it pretty much sucks the fun out of everything so, once I got a roundabout idea of how many carbs I would be eating in a day, I did not count anymore. And frankly, it was too much to think about and it took me back to those dark calorie-counting days of my past. I'll pass on that thankyouverymuch!
  2. Saying certain veggies and fruits are off-limits? For real? How about not. Now, this is just my opinion here, but I am a staunch believer in eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. So calling some off limits is a tad ridiculous to me. I aim to eat a wide variety of foods every day and I think that if you focus on eating in balance you will be just fine. So go ahead and roast up that acorn squash for lunch even if it has 45 grams of carbohydrates in it. Do it! 
  3. The social ramifications are a bit of a drag. Like srsly. And that's why, when Dane's parents came down for the day yesterday and we went to this incredibly cutsie cafe, I got baked eggs with pumpernickel toast. Yup. It happened. And you know why? Life is short.
Cutsie right???

Cutsie right???

What am I taking away from this experience? Well, here's my thinking:

I'm thinking that I'm probably going to stop eating so much bread because there's so many more delicious foods in the world! (Although I'm still thinking about that drippy peanut butter and toast...)

I'm thinking that I'm not really going to count carbs/fat/sugars or anything because it's not fun and I don't really want to be that person. You know?

I'm thinking that if there is good bread to be had, I'm gonna have a slice. (I'm looking at you pumpkin bread!)

I'm thinking I'm going to focus on eating more protein because it stops me from transforming into the hangry-monster.

Oh! And you know what I'm really thinking???

That I am so incredibly stoked to have Gilmore Girls on Netflix!!!! October 1st cannot come soon enough :D

Have an amazing Monday!!!!