Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baby Step #2: Sayonara Sugar & Farewell (Bad) Fats

Okay brothers and sisters. It's time for Step 2!

IF you're following the game plan so far, the GMOs should be gone (or almost gone) from your kitchen. I'm super proud of you! Hopefully, you've noticed more energy and maybe some change on the scale? If not, don't worry. It will come!

This week we'll remove the refined sugars and fats.

I used to love cream and sugar in my java. My husband pointed out to me exactly how many extra calories that was. Now, I use stevia because it's a natural alternative sweetener. I have learned to enjoy it but it isn't for everyone.

If you reach for a bag of sweetener, remember to read the label and avoid maltodextrin!! Some good natural sweeteners include honey, agave, and maple syrup.

As for baking, there are options. If you bake with yeast, you'll need a form of real sugar to feed the yeast. Honey, maple syrup, and agave are all good options. If you're craving quick breads or cookies or any other batter-based baked good, then check out fruit purées like pumpkin, banana, or unsweetened applesauce. Some mashed fruits and veggies can also be used to replace fats, too.

Clean and lean usually, though not always, go together. Good fats are good for you! Fat helps to regulate hormones and lubricate joints. This becomes more important as we age. When eating super lean, adding a little extra virgin olive oil to chicken and rice (and some spices) can help to make it more exciting! You can learn more about the benefits of fats here.

Shortening is not advised. There are some non-hydrogenated versions but they can be pricey. My favorite fats include extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. If you've never tried coconut oil, rest assured it has very little taste to speak of so your dishes won't taste or smell like the tropics. Coconut oil can handle a little bit higher heat than olive oil.

Avocado is a good replacement for butter and cheese. Next time you're jonesing for cheese on your taco, try a dollop of mashed avocado! I've seen, but haven't yet tried, brownies with avocado in place of the butter that's usually called for.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments. Stay tuned for Step 3 and don’t worry about counting calories yet. That's coming.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Healthy Eating Hacks: Burger & Fries

I love to eat sweet treats and the occasional burger and fries. Are they good for me? Um, not as much as I would like. That is why they are meant to be enjoyed once a week when you're trying to lose weight.

But sometimes we just can't wait until Sunday (cheat day at our house). You want comfort food but you need it to fit in your macros and calories. Enter their clean cousins! This list isn't meant to be comprehensive. It should help to give you ideas and get you thinking.

Let's start with one of my favorites. Most restaurant burgers are beef on a fluffy white bun and the fries are not drained well. Take four ounces of ground chicken breast or ground turkey breast and form a patty with it. Season as you like. I stress using breast meat as it's lower in fat if your budget allows for it. You'll find a nonstick pan and just a little cooking spray are your friends. Cook your patty to an internal temperature of 165°.

In place of that fluffy white bun, you have some interesting options. There's the stereotypical whole grain bun. Great if you can fit it. Another option is to use a lettuce leaf. This is a good option for paleo, gluten-free or low-carb diets.

Cheese is an option but avocado or Walden Farms Mayonnaise (zero calorie) are tasty, too.

Fries are still on the menu, brothers and sisters. Bake them at 400° for at least 20 minutes or as long as 40 depending on your spud of choice and how thick you cut them. Sweet potatoes make yummy fries but are high in sugars. Russet, or white, potatoes are lower in sugars but are better as a post-workout meal as the body uses them faster. You need to decide which is better for you. I toss mine with no more than a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil for the five of us. A single serving may only need a teaspoon. This will help them to have a crispy exterior.

Comment below if you've got a favorite meal for me to makeover! I love a challenge!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fitspirations: Who Inspires You?

Fitspirations. Yes. I made up that word. We all have people who inspire us to be a better version of ourselves. I thought I would share my list with you as my way of saying thanks. It is my hope that this post gets seen by them and they know they've made a difference in the lives of others.

Thank you all!

 First and foremost, after God, is my amazing husband, +Jeff Lee . We've been together for fifteen years. I love him immensely and don't have words enough to express it. He gets up and trains six days a week in sickness and in health. He keeps all of us on track.

Second is my favorite female bodybuilder, +dana linn bailey . She has an amazing physique but she is also crazy strong for her size. I think she's shorter than me. I watch her videos and know that someday I might be a powerhouse, too. Go go girl power!!

The next athlete on my little list is +Hugo Rivera . He co-wrote the very first book I read about bodybuilding and transforming my life titled "The BodySculptimg Bible for Women" with James Villepigue. I've got the first edition (bought at a used book store) and want to get the most recent edition.

Last, but not least, is +Lee Labrada . He's helped countless people to change their lives for the better with his simple approach to diet and exercise.

Who inspires you?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baby Steps to a healthier you (Step 1)

I was going to make this series about losing weight but when I showed my husband, he said that my idea could be used by everyone. So it is my hope that these posts will help you to be a healthier version of you. I will be sprinkling in weight loss notes here and there for those of you on a weight loss journey. This is how I lost over 100 pounds.

Step 1: NO more frankenfoods!!

I'm a firm believer that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are bad for you. They are hard for the body to digest. This includes soy and corn in it's many forms (high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, and maltodextrin, to name a few). If you're vegan or vegetarian and soy is a big source of your protein then try, as your budget allows, to stick to organic or Non-GMO Verified. Corn is out. If a cow with four stomachs can't digest it then I have no business even trying!!

You can learn more about the Non-GMO Project and check on foods here: They have a lot of helpful information about GMOs. I have them bookmarked in my browser.

When you eliminate corn, you eliminate a lot of junk food from your diet. If you have it in your cupboards, eat it up or give it away. I would never advocate tossing food in the trash. When it's gone, however, it should stay gone. Find another alternative or go without.

Always read the label! Fat free items tend to make use of cornstarch as a binder. Make room for a little extra fat. Your body needs good fats for health.

Do this until it becomes a habit. This may take two to four weeks. It may take longer but it is so very important for your health. It is the hardest step of all.

Stay tuned for the next step!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Product Review: Simple Truth Chocolate Bar

I love chocolate and was thrilled to receive a chocolate bar in the mail. I was asked by Simple Truth and +BzzAgent to review some of the products in exchange for free products.

My BzzKit included a bottle of Guayusa Tea Energy Tea, the chocolate bar pictured in this post and coupons for free bread and Greek yogurt by Simple Truth.

I may have just found a new favorite chocolate bar for snacking! This bar is a beautiful combo of sweet and salty rolled up with all of the healthy antioxidants found in dark chocolate. This bar is organic and made with real sugar!

The only thing that would be better in my humble opinion is to find baking chips with sea salt!

A serving size is 10 squares. There are about 2 1/2 servings per bar.
Fat: 16 g
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Protein: 2 g

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Back to business...

I am so excited to be starting a new training program tomorrow! I've been sick for the last week and am starting to feel better. I'd train today but this is a day of rest in our house that is strongly defended by yours truly.

I was using +StrongLifts during my bulk. Tomorrow, I'll begin the Shortcut to Size program by +Jim Stoppani with added cardio on my rest days. I enjoy the split and his meal timing and training methods.

Since this marks the beginning of my cut, I've tweaked my calories and macronutrients. I'm starting at 1700 calories on 40% carbohydrates, 35% protein, and 25% fats. I'm pleased at this point with the amount of muscle I've put on. I just need to shed the fat (while preserving as much muscle as possible) and we'll be good to go!

I'm on BodySpace as fitheidi1974 if you'd like to follow along. Stay tuned for a full day of eating for weight loss! I'll be posting more recipes that will fit a healthy lifestyle.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Product Review: belVita Breakfast Biscuits

This is sure to be the first of many reviews. Let me start by saying I received this item for free because of Kroger's Free Friday Download. The opinions are my own.

The +belVita Breakfast Biscuits are made by Nabisco. My family and I tried the Soft Baked Banana Bread flavor. I was pleasantly surprised by how big they are and by how closely the flavor actually resembles banana bread! The ingredient list is decent in terms of clean eating as pre-packaged items go.

In our quest to eat clean, very little processed food enters our house. I love freebies and so we tried them. I would be more inclined to eat these on the daily if they were non-gmo verified. I should mention that these are surprisingly low in sugar at only 9 grams per biscuit for the banana bread flavor. Other flavors have varying amounts of sugar but they're all around 10 grams or so. That's refreshing to see since most breakfast items that are similar have as much or more sugar than a chocolate bar!

You can learn more here:  The macros would make this a good fit with Greek yogurt or a whey shake on a busy morning.

Serving size: 1 biscuit
Per serving:
Calories: 190
Fat: 7 g
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Protein: 3 g

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Healthy Stovetop Pizza

Let me start by saying Happy New Year to all of you!!!

New Year is a time for new beginnings whether on a grand scale like starting a full body transformation or just cleaning up our diet after a bulk. We all need good eats to fuel us regardless of our goals.

I love pizza but frozen and delivered options are generally NOT friendly to clean living or losing weight. This is more of a technique than recipe. You'll be able to tweak this to your macros so I'm not posting them as ingredients will differ.

You'll need tortillas, sauce, cheese, protein, and maybe veggies. I have a few caveats about sauce and cheese. BBQ sauce is yummy but it can be high in sugar so I often mix it with plain tomato sauce in equal parts or one part BBQ sauce to three parts tomato sauce. As for cheese, you may be tempted to reach for fat-free cheddar. It's been my experience that it doesn't melt well so I save it for salads. Reduced-fat cheddar and part-skim mozzarella are favorites at my house.

I use a cast iron griddle and the microwave here when I don't want to heat my house or wait for the oven to heat up. If you don't have cast iron, then a non-stick pan is a must. You can use your oven if you like. I came up with this method when the pizza craving hit in the middle of summer and have been perfecting it since then. I cook for five so if you're cooking for less, you may be able to do it quicker.

Spray your tortillas lightly on both sides. Get your pan good and hot. You'll be turning it down to melt the cheese. Get your tortillas good and crispy. Got them all crispy? Good! Set them on your counter or cutting board. Now put about a tablespoon or two of your sauce of choice, then your protein and then about an ounce or two of cheese. No more or your pizza may not turn out.

Here is where you have a choice. You can either return your pizza to the pan with a lower heat under it OR you can microwave it until the cheese is melty. If you opt for the pan, you'll need to cover it with a lid and babysit it. If you use "Chef Mike" (the microwave), you will find that it softens your crust a little. Use full power to minimize the time spent in the microwave and your crust will stay crispier.

The topping options are endless. Depending on the size of your tortillas, you can fit about 2 to 3 ounces of shredded chicken without collapsing your crust. I find 8 inches to be a good size for this method. I should also mention that keeping the amount of toppings down is beneficial for the same reason.

Share your favorite toppings below as I'm always looking for new ideas and I would love to hear from you!!