Tag Archives: diet

The Big Diet Myth

I was never big on New Year’s resolutions until about two years ago.

Gross as it may be, I used to only floss my teeth right before going to the dentist for a cleaning.  I would inevitably get the speech of “you should floss regularly for healthy blah blah blah.”  But one day I actually listened and decided to make a New Year’s resolution to floss my teeth every night for a whole year.  It took a lot of hard work and determination, but I did it!  Now I’m an avid flosser and I’ve kept that resolution (with the exception of a few days) ever since.

Most people make resolutions to be more active and to eat better.  I was one of them.  I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t concerned about my weight.

I ran a lot and tried really hard, but I still wasn’t happy with how I looked.  I would cut calories, but always got discouraged by the lack of results.

My mom and I stretching for a 10K. 2015

One day, I was so upset that I didn’t eat the entire day.  That night I looked in the mirror only to see that my pooch and love handles were still there.   I just felt squishy and hungry all the time.

 

Thankfully, I found a better way.  My definition of eating healthy has changed a lot over the past year because I changed the misconception that was hard-wired into my brain by magazines and media.

I used to eat salads for two meals a day, and try to avoid sweets.  I was always hungry and craving something I couldn’t have.  I love salads, but it’s very hard to get enough calories eating ONLY veggies.  I thought I was being healthy, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I was starving myself, and that isn’t mentally or physically healthy.

I was under the impression that the less I ate, the more I would lose.  

This method for losing weight is widely preached among women, but it doesn’t bring long-term results.  It’s a myth.  You may lose a few pounds but you will inevitably hit a plateau.  That’s because you are in a habitual caloric deficit. Your body realizes that it isn’t getting enough food to continue burning calories efficiently, so it learns how to burn fewer calories to complete the same tasks.   Your metabolism drastically slows down, and you gain weight — even though you’re always hungry.

Thankfully, it’s very simple to reset your metabolism.  It only takes one or two weeks.  Ever since making this one simple change in my diet, I started seeing results.  I’m full.  I’m happy.  And I’m still skinny! I don’t count calories, I eat as much as I want, and I have actually lost inches.

I discovered it’s more about WHAT you eat than how much.  I started cooking for myself every day.  I eat fish, a LOT of chicken breast, veggies, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, avocados, almonds, some fruit, some red meat, protein shakes, and eggs.  I make sure to eat a good amount of protein at each meal so I’m FULL when I finish eating.  I usually don’t even want dessert.  I used to eat 1500 calories a day.  Now my diet is closer to this.

It’s taken most of 2017 to adjust my taste buds, but now I actually prefer healthy food.  Sweets don’t seem as appealing, and when I do indulge, a small amount will usually satisfy me.  Veggies don’t need salt, and sweet potatoes don’t need butter because I’ve gotten used to enjoying their natural flavors.

It took almost a year to get to this point, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  I’m so much happier now that I’m not hangry (hungry/angry) all the time and I’m fueling my body with nutrition.  I encourage you to give it a chance in 2018.

Now I make resolutions like “get a six pack by 2018.”  I never would have dreamed that was even possible a year ago.  But now it’s a realistic goal.

This is just a quick summary, but I wanted to share it with you because of how it’s helped me! I didn’t know it was possible to eat so much food (I eat all the time) and be happy with how I look.  If you want to learn more about tips for eating right, please leave a comment so I’ll know how to post more of what you want to hear!

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for chicken breast to help you get started!  The pineapple juice tenderizes and caramelizes.  It’s great with white rice and roasted asparagus. Be sure to read the notes and give it a try!

-Abby Hughes

Hawaiian Chicken
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
A great make-ahead meal with minimal prep. Designed for those with a busy schedule. Healthy and delicious! Goes great on salads, in stir-fry, or stand alone!
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 6-oz. Chicken Breast
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 3 TBS Teriyaki Sauce
  • 3 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar or Balsamic
  • 1 TBS Minced Fresh Garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup Hot Sauce (optional) (I like Valentina hot sauce)
Instructions
  1. If you are using large chicken breasts, cut it in half horizontally through the thickness of the breast. This is called butterflying.
  2. Set the chicken aside, and whisk together all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss chicken in marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 days.
  4. Preheat a pan by putting it on high heat for about 2 minutes. This will help sear the chicken and get good caramelization.
  5. Meanwhile, drain the chicken.
  6. Once the pan is hot, drizzle some olive oil and add the drained chicken (it should sizzle).
  7. Saute for about 2 minutes on each side (or till browned), then reduce heat to medium.
  8. Cook just until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Be sure not to overcook so the chicken will be tender and juicy.
  9. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
Notes
A food thermometer can keep you from overcooking chicken. Even lean chicken breast is moist and tender when only cooked to 165 degrees. But you should also avoid undercooking chicken so you won't get sick.
Preheating the pan is important. The sugars in the pineapple juice should caramelize and create a nice brown crust on the chicken. Don't miss that step.
This is great for making ahead and leaving in the fridge until ready to cook. This marinade also works well on pork and steak.

 

Vegan Dark Chocolate

This is my initiation post, so I thought it would be fitting to share a couple of things about myself.  First of all, I really like eating healthy.  I love working out and running and eating well because it makes me feel good.  Second, I REALLY love chocolate.  Especially DARK chocolate.  Almost anything with chocolate in it is irresistible to me.  I think most of my teeth are sweet teeth.

You may think these two loves are contradictory.  For a long time, I did too.  But do they have to be???  I’ve recently been learning a lot about nutrition from my boyfriend, Tim.  He’s a personal trainer who is way more committed to eating healthy than any sane person should be. But, he showed me that one of the keys to a healthy diet is making sure you get enough of the “good” fats. WHAAAAAAT??? There are good fats!?!?  Good fats are like a fun little diet cheat code.  There are even some diets that require you to eat a tablespoon of oil twice a day… it’s pretty gross, don’t try it. Anyway, healthy fat is found in things like avocados, coconut oil, olives, and nuts.   I think fat gets a bad rap because of it’s unfortunate name. But, contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat!  When used in moderation, it can actually aid in weight loss! Maybe we should rename it “phat” so people will think it’s cool again.  Really the only two things you need to be cautious about is making sure it’s the right kind of fat (not the grease dripping off your pizza, unfortunately), and to regulate the amount (because it is calorie dense, but still crucial to a healthy diet).

So, one day I remembered this recipe from my good friend, Mr. Fleisher. Back when I was in college, he would make me this heavenly freezer chocolate.  The only ingredients are coconut oil, cocoa powder (antioxidants), and a little bit of honey! It occurred to me… that fits my macros!  It’s a great way to get healthy fat in my diet AND curb my abundant chocolate cravings!

It’s a super simple recipe with just 4 ingredients that you probably already have. Plus, it’s easy to adjust amounts because it works off ratios!  People are always saying “try this recipe, it’s THE BEST.”  But they just say that.  THIS ONE REALLY IS THE BEST!  If you like chocolate, you have to try it.  That is all.  If you don’t try it, it really doesn’t affect me.  But I just always have this in my freezer and I think it could easily be a staple for your family too.  🙂

Between my brother and me, chocolate doesn’t last long at our house.

Before I give you the map to paradise (aka, the recipe), just a few things.  You can easily change the sweetness by adjusting the honey.  It won’t effect the chocolate setting up.  If you like it dark, add less honey.  If you don’t like bitter chocolate, add more! — it’s that simple.

I usually make a 1-1-0.25 ratio of coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey.  That is sweet enough for most dark chocolate lovers.  However, I believe the original recipe was a 1-1-1 ratio (very sweet).  If you aren’t sure where you fall, I would recommend making a smallish amount the first time for a taste test.

The second thing is that you can get creative with the flavorings!  It’s fun to add sliced almonds or chopped pecans, and you don’t have to use boring old vanilla.  If you want to get really crazy, there are a plethora of flavors to choose from!  Orange, Baileys, Jack, caramel… just use your imagination.

Finally, I would LOVE to see someone try this recipe in a cute little mold! Someday I’m going to grow up, get fancy, and invest in some nice molds, but for now I’ll eat chocolate no matter what shape it’s in.  However, if you are one of those “Pinterest Perfect” people that I envy,  PLEASE send a picture or leave a comment of the mold you use!  I know you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I have!

 Abby Hughes

Vegan Dark Chocolate
 
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A delightful not-too-sweet treat to always keep on hand.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Serves: 15 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 TB vanilla
Instructions
  1. Line two sheet pans with wax paper or parchment.
  2. Melt the coconut oil over low heat just until almost melted.
  3. Whisk the honey into the coconut oil for about a minute until the honey is warm and all the coconut oil is melted and well mixed. Take off heat [if it gets too hot it will get grainy (seize)].
  4. Whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla.
  5. Pour chocolate onto the prepared sheet to evenly distribute into a thin sheet.
  6. Freeze on a level shelf until the chocolate is set. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container in the freezer.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
Also works well in cute little molds, but I really like the texture and melt-in-your-mouth effect of the thin chips.