Sunday Cookup 1: Hi Ho Hi Ho

It’s back to school I go.  Tomorrow.

Last year around this time I started a tradition of Sunday cookups, spending Sunday afternoon in the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to think about what to make for dinner after working all day.  

I loved it.  

I loved having knife time, getting the fridge organized, and I especially loved always having something prepared and healthy  when I got home.  I usually followed up with a Facebook post about what I made, which got a lot of attention both online and in real life.  People who I didn’t think paid any attention to my FB posts would ask me about what I made or give me a nice compliment about how pretty the pictures were.  It also got me thinking about starting a food blog.

So now that I have to return to my professional job, the Sunday cookup is back.  My plan is to follow the cookup with a blog post.  I hope this gives you ideas of what to prepare in advance, and see if I can become more efficient with my weekend knife time.

A few months in to weekly cooking last year, I started doing a big cookup on Sunday, followed by a mini-cookup on Wednesday nights.  Why?  Because eating a lunch on Friday that I packed on Sunday is gross.  

So here’s what I cooked today.  I started around 11:30 am and finished around 2:00 pm.  That’s too long.  Room for growth, yay!

Breakfasts

When I got home from church I wanted almond flour pancakes with fig jam.  Don’t judge.  I’m not doing a W30 right now.  I’m also pretty certain that paleo pancakes won’t make me miss IHOP.  I used this recipe sans syrup, ate a small stack, and thought about adding banana.  So I defrosted a frozen banana, mashed it up in the batter and cooked the rest.  Better without the banana.  

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I also made a dozen egg cups with diced peaches and Aidell’s chicken apple sausage.  I used a cup of egg whites and 6 whole eggs, not because I’m worried about fat and cholesterol, but because I have an open carton of egg whites in the fridge. 2014-08-17 18.45.06

Lunches

I made Vietnamese Cabbage and Chicken Salad.  Oh emm gee.  So good!  The flavors remind me of the dishes we eat at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant.  I would almost say our favorite Vietnamese place can suck it, but it can’t.  We’ve been going there for years.  I followed the recipe as written.  I’m not sure what savoy cabbage is, so I used 5 cups of regular green cabbage.  I omitted the sugar and used a squeeze of Sriracha instead of a red chili.  Yes, I used rooster sauce.  I’m not on a strict W30 right now.

I packed three bento boxes with this salad, cherry tomatoes and more chicken.  I will not get tired of this.  I packed a tiny container of dried-tomato mayo to boost the fat content of my lunches.  No one wants to be starving at 3 o’clock.

Nom Nom Viet Nam
Nom Nom Viet Nam

Ready to grab and go in the morning.

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I packed a small peach and 4 figs in my lunch bag too.

Dinners

I made a big booty salad.

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And some green Italian dressing.

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I have no idea who gets credit for this dressing.  I saw it on Facebook, took a screen shot and made a pin a long time ago.

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This dressing smells like herb heaven and is delicious with raw greens, but holy garlic and onion, Batman!  Next time I am going to roast the garlic and onion before mixing.  Meanwhile I will keep the vampires at a safe distance.  What you see in the jar was mixed with mayo to tone down the raw garlic and onion flavor.

Hubs and I grilled burgers for dinner tonight and made extras for a quick weeknight protein.  We also grilled some potato slices, one sweet and one yukon gold I had laying around.  I am making a sad face because we didn’t have more potatoes.  We ate them all except for two sweet potato slices.  Grilled potato slices, yum.

It doesn’t look like I have much planned for dinners, but we have Applegate hot dogs, Aidell’s sausages and a big ol’ Costco bag of salmon fillets in the freezer.  Sausages only take a minute and no one wants reheated salmon.

During my cookup I also made and gave away a jar of fig jam because my trees are still going nuts.  I’d share the recipe but I don’t measure.  Figs, dates, freshly squeezed OJ, lemon juice, salt and ground chia seeds.  I cut the figgies in quarters, put them in a pan with a little water, add the other liquids and let it boil down for about 30 minutes.  Then I use an immersion blender to smooth out the chunks and add the chia seed powder at the end.  It’s the bomb.com on a sweet potato, or mixed with oil and balsamic to make a salad dressing.  I try to avoid eating it by the spoonful.

Snacks

Just kidding.  That’s been my weakness since finishing my July W30.  For some reason I can abstain from snacking only when I’m counting days and keeping a blog of every single thing I eat.  I don’t want to keep counting days, but I want to be accountable for my snacking habits.  So I am going to challenge myself to not eat any snacks this week.  I will report back.

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Sir Isaac’s Fig and Coconut Bars

Note: I would stay away from these during a Whole30.  The ingredients are compliant but they could become a cookie replacement.  They’re also incredibly snackable.  If you’re training for a grueling athletic event and can stash a few to keep going during workouts, by all means.  But if you’re like me and would be too tempted to sneak a few during commercials, wait until your 30 days are over.

The trees in my backyard are exploding figs right now.  It’s glorious.

Not my fig tree.
Not my fig tree.

Hubs and I chow down on them fresh from the tree, I’m giving away ziplock bags full, and I started to dehydrate them.  But other than snacking, what to do with dried figs?

I’ve had this idea to make a fig Larabar for a while.  But one thing was stopping me.

They’re sugar bombs.  Homemade or packaged, they’re ground fruit and nut bars held together with date paste.  A Cashew Cookie Larabar has 23 grams of carbs, 18 from sugar.

I have the diabetes.  I avoid anything with 18 grams of sugar per 3-bite serving.

So how do I make my own with less sugar and still holds together?

Here ya go.

Grind 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a coffee grinder.  Shake the chia powder in a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of water and stir.  This does not look appealing.  Let the chia goo hang out and gel while you keep on trucking with the other ingredients.

A stock photo of whole chia seeds.  Pulverized ones are not this pretty.
A stock photo of whole chia seeds. Pulverized ones are not this pretty.

Dump one cup of dried figs in the food processor bowl.  I sliced these guys in half and dehydrated them for about 20ish hours.  You can also buy them.  It may be necessary to soak dried figs in warm water or zap in the microwave to soften.

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Add a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes.

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Add a cup of cashew flour.  I use flour to avoid keeping whole cashews in the house.  I don’t stand in the freezer at 3am shoveling spoonfuls of cashew flour in my mouth.  Whole cashews are another story.

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Add 5 dates to the processor bowl.  Next time I make these I am going to try leaving them out.

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Add salt and lime juice to taste, then process until a crumbly mixture forms.  Add the chia goo and pulse until combined.

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Line a small rectangular container or baking dish with cling wrap, add the fig and coconut mixture, place another sheet of cling wrap on top and press down.  I use an otherwise abandoned can of beans to pack down the mixture.

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Chill for an hour or so before cutting into bars.

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Line a dehydrator tray with parchment and put the bars on top.

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Dry for about 7 hours.

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Result is a Larabar-cookie hybrid.  Not as sweet as a Larabar, toastier, and holds together.

Tell yourself that these are post-workout treats only, and avoid a casual walk to the kitchen between meals.

Sir Isaac's Fig and Coconut Bars

  • Servings: about 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2T chia seeds, ground in a coffee grinder
  • 2T water
  • 1c dried figs, soaked in water or warmed in microwave to soften
  • 1c unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1c cashew flour
  • 5 dates
  • salt and lime juice to taste

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, combine the pulverized chia seeds and water.  Set aside for about 10 minutes.

2.  While the chia goo is forming, mix the dried figs, coconut flakes, cashew flour, salt and lime juice in a food processor until crumbly.  Add the chia goo and pulse until combined.

3.  Line a food storage container or baking dish with cling wrap.  Scrape out the fig mixture, cover with another sheet of cling wrap and press down mixture.  Use a glass or a can to provide extra pressure.

4.  Chill for an hour or longer.  Remove mixture from the container and with the cling wrap still on the bottom, place on counter to cut into bars.

5.  Cover a dehydrator tray with parchment paper and place bars to dry for 7 hours or overnight.

6.  Store in a sealed container.

Rice and Shrimp and Pineapple, oh my!

I finished my last Whole30 a week ago and fully intended to keep going.  That’s easier said than done.  I told myself that I’d continue eating grain, dairy, legume, alcohol and processed food free, but it’s so easy to cheat when I’m not counting days and there’s ice cream in the freezer.

Now that the ice cream is tossed out digested, dairy is definitely off the table.  As crazy as it sounds, if I eat dairy I will be in pain.  After last night’s workout I had plantar fasciitis pain with a vengeance.  I barely felt it at all during the W30 and ice cream is the only cheat food I’ve had.

Goodbye ice cream, goodbye cheese.

So here’s my goal.  I want to enjoy three “template” meals per day, avoid snacks, and plan like I’m on a Whole30.  I will allow myself limited SWYPO dishes like these amazing grain-free tortillas, but I won’t make brownies with date paste.  My blood sugar doesn’t acknowledge a difference between dates and plain old white sugar.

I’m also going back to work soon and will bring back the weekly cook-up.  My plan for the blog is to share how I plan my meals on Sundays.  I also want to reserve one weeknight  each week to cook and then share a new recipe or review of an existing one.

So here goes.  I made cauliflower rice with shrimp in a pineapple bowl.

I started by ricing a whole cauliflower in the food processor, using Melissa Joulwan’s Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice recipe.  I made more than I needed so I could have more on hand.

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I chopped 1/2 of a large onion, 2 cloves of garlic and a thumb-size knob of ginger.  I gave it a long, slow saute so I didn’t bother pushing the garlic and ginger through a press.

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I had green onion, two skinny eggplants and a zucchini on hand so I chopped and added those too.

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I used a pineapple corer to separate the edible fruit from the shell and then sliced it longwise to make two bowls.  I’m not promoting that specific corer, I found one at Aldi once.  Excuse the stock photo, I didn’t take my own picture of this step.  I recommend popping the pineapple bowls in the oven so the whole dish is served warm.

pineapple

Made my yummy sauce with light olive oil, lemon juice, coconut aminos, fish sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

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Chopped 1/2 cup of pineapple and added it to the skillet.

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Added the shrimp being careful not to overcook and finally the sauce.

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Dished one ladle of cauliflower rice in my pineapple bowl and topped it with the shrimp and veggies.

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And of course I did the same with the other pineapple bowl.

This, my friends, is as close to an exotic vacation as I can get from my own kitchen.

Cauliflower Rice with Shrimp and Pineapple

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1T coconut or olive oil
  • 1 pineapple shell plus 1/2 cup chopped pineapple meat
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • Any leftover veggies hanging around (zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, bok choy, bell peppers, carrot or celery would be delicious)
  • 10-15 raw shrimp with shells and tails removed
  • 3T olive or avocado oil
  • 2T coconut aminos
  • 1t lemon juice
  • 1t fish sauce
  • 1t sesame oil
  • palmful of sesame seeds

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Using the pulse function on a food processor, pulse the cauliflower 10-15 times until the cauliflower looks like rice.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil and transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes or until rice is slightly brown and toasty.

2.  While cauliflower rice is baking, chop the onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute in a large frying pan over low heat for 15 minutes.  Add any other veggies you like and saute until softened.

3.  Using a pineapple corer, remove the top, bottom, core and meat from the pineapple.  Cut core in half lengthwise to make two bowls.  Chop 1/2 cup pineapple meat and add to frying pan.  Heat the bowls in the oven with the cauliflower if desired.

4.  In a small bowl, whisk together the 3T of olive oil, coconut aminos, lemon juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

5.  Push the veggies to the side of the frying pan and add the shrimp.  Turn as soon as they turn pink, add the sauce and remove from heat as soon as the shrimp are cooked.

6.  Scoop one ladle-full of the cauliflower rice in each pineapple “bowl” and fill with the shrimp and veggie mixture.

7.  Serve with a loved one and plan your next tropical vacation.

Day 30: How Did This Happen?

Please excuse the narcissism.

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I can’t help it.

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And here’s my food recap of days 29-30.

Breakfast:  Veggie omelette with onion, chopped mini-peppers and dehydrated cherry tomatoes.  Fried plantains and bulletproof coffee on the side.

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PWO:  A protein shake with a frozen banana, 1/3 cup egg whites, light coconut milk and 1/2 scoop super greens powder because I’m out of kale.  The banana really helped disguise the taste and smell of the powdered greens.

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Lunch:  A really big salad that has no photo.  I had spring mix, sweet potato chews, tomatoes, homemade pickles, a whole avo, sunflower seeds and leftover seared bok choy.  I had this with a side of pineapple rings.  The meal was a little high in fat, but it kept me fueled during a busy shift at work.

Dinner:  Aidell’s sausage, garden squash and pineapple cooked on the grill.  I also had a sweet potato cake and some pickles.

The sweet potato cakes were supposed to be inspiralized buns, but uhhh, this is real life.  Mine didn’t quite turn out Pinterest-worthy.  I used my spiralizer to make sweet potato noodles (which took some muscle), steam-sauteed the noodles, added an egg and garam masala.  Then I made rounds with a silicone mold.  I did this before work and let the rounds chill in the fridge.  I made 4 of them.

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The sweet potato rounds spent too much time in the fridge with only a piece of parchment covering them.  They looked a little gray when I got home.

I fried them in a cast iron skillet with coconut oil before dinner.  They were definitely not a bun, but I probably will play around with this again.

Meanwhile Hubs manned the grill.

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And this was my plate.  The pineapple was still cooking.

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Leftovers were a great egg-free breakfast this morning.

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I haven’t had anything but water since breakfast.  I exercised outside and my body really wasn’t digging it.  All I wanted to do was puke behind a tree.  But I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I quit.  That whole ‘listen to your body’ wisdom?  Ummm, yeah.

Maybe I should go eat something.

Day 28: Back in the Whole30 Life Again

I celebrated my 40th birthday on day 26.  The following is an interview I conducted with myself about my birthday shenanigans.

Did you cheat?  yes.

Was it with alcohol?  no.

Was it a gross binge-fest?  nope.  I had a small serving of birthday cake and chocolate ice cream.

Did you enjoy it?  meh.  It didn’t feel like food.  It was weird to eat something that required no effort.  Whole30 food requires chewing and eating it feels like nourishment.  The cake just felt like mouth entertainment.

Are you starting over?  I was going to go another 30 days anyway.

Do you feel any affects?  I woke up with wheat belly.  Plantar fasciitis flared and undiagnosed IT band injury started to hurt again.  I don’t know if it’s gluten, dairy or sugar that causes it.  Probably all 3.

What did you eat today?  Aha!  Perfect segue into today’s blog post.

Breakfast:  Two eggs over easy over a bed of leftover pineapple fried rice.  A small handful of cherries and a big cup of bulletproof coffee not pictured.

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PWO:  Sweet potato chews (slices of roasted and semi-dehydrated sweet potatoes) and a protein shake.  I know, I know, I know.  I’m not supposed to drink my food on a Whole30.  But egg whites are an easy lean protein.  This shake is about 1/3 cup egg whites, a frozen banana, a big handful of kale and a short pour of light coconut milk.  Is it really that bad if I put extra greens in my liquid food?

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Lunch:  Salad in a bento box with spring mix, tomatoes, mini-peppers, cucumber slices, Wild Planet tuna, and avo half, black olives and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  I did not have (sugary) fruit with my lunch.  Score!

Some reader will argue that cucumbers, avocados, peppers, tomatoes and olives are all fruits.  I will call you a smartass.

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Dinner:  Mixed squash noodles with shrimp and dried-tomato infused olive oil.  Ohhh, fancy.

I got a new zoodler for my birthday.  I would’ve been thrilled with the $14.99 Vegetti, but my sweet Hubs bought me the Gefu Spiralfix.  This thing is amazeballs.  Look what it did to my yellow squash and calabacita.

2014-07-28 21.51.39Calabacita is just a fancy word for Mexican zucchini.  It’s a little bit bigger and the skin is a lighter shade of green.  That’s why I like to use it for zoodles.

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This little squishy-face helped me with the veggie scraps.

I spiraled my squash earlier this morning, massaged a palmful of salt in it and let it sit in a colander for about 20 minutes to let excess water release.  Then I gave it a good rinse and let it sit in the fridge for most of the day, still in the colander so any more water could drain.  I also defrosted some raw shrimp.

I had leftover tomato slices from my birthday party.  I previously dehydrated them overnight and let them soak in light olive oil for about 24 hours.

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When I got home from work today, I dumped the contents of the ramekin in the Ninja and let it rip.

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I added the tomato oil to my skilled, added a chopped clove of garlic, and when it was hot I cooked my shrimp and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I only cooked it for about one minute on each side.  I can’t stand overcooked shrimp.

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Then I added my zoodles.  I didn’t add salt in case I didn’t rinse well enough after the salt  scrub this morning.

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Next I added semi-dehydrated cherry tomatoes and gave the whole dish a generous squeeze of lemon.  Zoodles only need a few minutes to cook.

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I put a huge pile in my bowl and garnished it with chopped parsley.

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And I inhaled it (while being mindful, present and in the full spirit of Whole30 mealtime.)

That tomato oil is so delicious I already have another sliced tomato in the dehydrator so I can make more.

When I finish my current batch, I’m going to make dried-tomato mayo.

What would you do with dried-tomato oil? 

Day 24: I Got New Toys

At the tail end of this W30, I am starting to experience the blissful W30 sleep.  Problem is, my body likes going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8.  Adjusting back to my school schedule is going to be ugly.

I had some great eats yesterday that I’m excited to share with you.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs with prosciutto and cherry tomatoes, avocado and pineapple chunks not pictured.

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I tried to crisp the prosciutto in a frying pan to make “bacon,” but it was way too salty.  It’s better mixed with eggs, or wrapped around fruit.  I also had only 2 eggs left and a husband to feed, so I used two whole eggs and 1/3c of whites (from a carton.)  I couldn’t tell much of a difference.

I had to skip my workout due a dentist appointment.  It may be due to better flossing habits, but W30x2 = shorter time in the dentist’s chair and no lectures from the hygienist.  Cutting out sugar obviously affects dental health, but there has to be more to it.  Ever notice during a W30 that gum cravings disappear?  Even if the meal was loaded with garlic, do you too feel less need to ask for a mint?  I noticed this the first time around, and as soon as the 30 days were over, I needed to chomp on gum to clean my mouth after eating.  And that affect in my mouth that I can sense, does the rest of my body feel that clean too?  Another reason not to quit.

I brought lunch to work for Hubs and I: spring mix, baba ganoush as dressing, avocado chunks, leftover pork tenderloin, kiwi and orange slices to share.

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I was hungry again in exactly four hours.  I couldn’t wait to get home and wrap up dinner, pineapple fried (cauliflower) rice.

Before I left the house yesterday, I riced a head of cauliflower.  (Easier than it sounds, I pulsed raw cauli in the food processor until it was rice-sized.)  I’ve had watery results in the past, but I remembered reading this blog post from The Clothes Make the Girl about making cauli rice in the oven.  The only part I disagreed with was using two wooden spoons to combine the cauli and coconut oil.  Warm that waxy stuff in your hands and give that white veggie some lovin’!  Then go wash your hands.

Okay, you know you’re on a Whole30 when roasting cauliflower and think to yourself, “wow, it smells so good in here.”  The lovely tanned cauli rice came out of the oven right before I had to leave.  I let it steam for a few minutes so it could dry a little more, wrapped it in foil, covered it with a dishcloth and let it hang out on the stovetop.  Don’t do this if you have a great dane.

I used the Neely’s recipe as inspiration.  I haven’t had cable TV in years, but I used to love their show.

I sauteed a little green onion (from the stalks that sit in water in my kitchen window) with about 1/4 vidalia onion in coconut oil.  I added garlic and ginger after pushing them through a garlic press.  Then I dropped in two stalks of chopped bok choy and about a cup of chopped pineapple.  I walked away and let it turn golden brown and delicious, Alton Brown style.  Right at the end I added leftover grilled squash and eggplant and finally the cauliflower rice.  It all got a sprinkle of coconut aminos, sesame oil and fish sauce.  I put a ginormous chinese-restaurant sized portion in a bowl and topped it with pork tenderloin slices.

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Know the best thing about cauliflower rice?  I can eat all I want with no blood sugar surge.  A serving of regular rice half that size would have me passed out on the couch, chugging water and going for another injection after mustering the energy to stand up again.  Suck it, rice.

If you’ve never had cauli rice, it does not look, taste or feel like rice.  It’s cauliflower.  But it’s delicious.

I  may or may not have eaten a handful of nuts while watching Netflix last night.  I need to toss that bag of nuts in the trash.

Oh, and I bought some new toys yesterday.  There is an Aldi down the street from my dentist’s office, so I stopped in for eggs and kitchen sponges.  I walked out $50 later with two dozen eggs, a pack of sponges, avocados, cherries, organic spring mix, organic kale, a pineapple, mini peppers more stuff I can’t recall right now and some toys.  Aldi is selling food dehydrators for $19.99.  I couldn’t walk away from that.  I also got one of those pineapple corer/slicer thingies and a 4-pack flexible cutting boards, because I am constantly washing cutting boards.

Last night I made kale chips, jicama chips and dried plantain slices.  The best kale chips I ever had made topped my baked eggs this morning.  Jicama chips are SWYPO.  They won’t make me run for a bag of Lay’s, but I ate the whole batch before I noticed what I was doing.

Today I am going to try dried sweet potato, tomatoes and oranges.  Then I will be mindful about eating it.

Come back for adventures with a cheapie food dehydrator!

 

 

Day 23: I Burpeed

Unlike my last Whole30, eating like this has just become what I do.  I’m not counting down to when I can have beer again or using inappropriate language because I can’t put cheese on anything.

Cheese.  Meh.

I started my day with my new favorite, baked eggs.  I lined a small baking dish with two slices of prosciutto, added some garden tomatoes and leftover sauteed spinach, cracked two eggs on top and baked at 400 for 20 minutes.  I think 15 minutes would’ve been better.  I had this with a side of pineapple and avocado.  You know those skull-sized avocados that are watery and taste like melons?  It was one of those, since they were the same price as the regular ones.

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Am I tired of eggs?  A little.  I wasn’t in love with pumpkin souffle and I’ve never been a fan of dinner leftovers for breakfast.  Maybe post W30 I can go back to paleo breakfast cookies or muffins.  But then I will miss eggs.

I went to the gym after working playing in the garden. (I live in an urban area in the US and own land.  For me, having a garden is a hobby; in much of the world it’s survival.  I refuse to think gardening is a chore.  It’s a joyous opportunity to connect with the earth.  Yes, I’m weird and off-task.)

Oh yeah, the gym.  I did circuit training, 20 one-minute circuits with 5 burpees in between each circuit.  I’m used to running laps between circuits.  At first I thought this was a break, then I realized that 5 x 20 = one hundred effing burpees?!?  With the effing pushup?  That’s insane  no way  suck it up  Hells yeah!

Is any fuel after a hundred effing burpees a cheat?  I know I’m not supposed to drink my food and I know starchy veg is better than fruit post workout.  But there’s a time to reap, a time to sow and a time to make a protein shake.  I blended 1/2 frozen banana, a whole mango, a generous pour of egg whites and just enough light coconut milk.  Three weeks into a W30, and that tasted sweeter than birthday cake with cool whip icing.  If raw egg whites sounds in a protein shake sounds gross, it’s because you’ve never done it.  I promise, you’d never know.  And you get to pretend you’re Rocky for a minute.

Then I went to work.  I ran dogs up and down the hill and then I finally finished the landscaping project I started over a week ago.

Lunch was a bento box with salad, leftover baba ganoush as dressing and a few slices of pork tenderloin.  I also brought orange and kiwi slices for Hubs and I to share.  Too much fruit?  Did you do a hundred effing burpees and then shovel mulch?

I stayed at work longer than planned so I whipped up a simple dinner.  I cooked some garden squash and eggplant in the grill pan and warmed up pork tenderloin slices.  Baba ganoush on grilled squash is amazing.  I put some on my eggplant and realized I eat eggplant with my eggplant.

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I might have still been hungry after dinner and may have eaten a handful of nuts on the couch while watching a movie.

But I did a hundred effing burpees.