on what I’m giving up for Lent

What?!

Yes, Lent.  Never observed it before in my life.  (And, actually, I’ve always kind-of regarded it with a bit of a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude as if to say, “Don’t you know giving up soda doesn’t get you anywhere with God?” Confession #1 of the evening right there.)

Anyway.  I am, in fact, giving something up for Lent this year.

DESSERT…

Six days a week.

I realize that giving up sweets/dessert entirely would have been so much more, well, climactic, but it would also be setting myself up for almost immediate failure.  Setting realistic goals is a no-brainer, and this three-times-a-day sweets girl going cold-turkey would have disastrous ramifications.  And I also realize that for some of you out there, giving up dessert 6 days a week is nothing.  (My husband included.)

But let’s get to the heart of the matter.  (Because that’s really where it all starts.)

I’m halfway through week three in my Made to Crave devotional, and have been sensing that I need a change.  I’ve been so dedicated to waking up early, putting my devotional time first, yet the scale isn’t going in the right direction.  I realize it isn’t about the number on the scale, but it is an outward reflection of my inner obedience to God.  High scale numbers = mindless munching and emotional eating I’m not supposed to be doing.

So, when I realized that Ash Wednesday was a matter of days away, I figured sacrificing something I hold near and dear (and have always been so hesitant to give up, right Emily!?) like dessert was just what this girl’s heart needed.  I’ve been indulging in too many sweets all over the place, and it needed to stop.  However, the thought of giving up EVERYT SWEET THING FOR SIX WEEKS terrified me.  Like, seriously.  It wasn’t until my friend, Regina, and I discussed over coffee (and, OK, some treats) and came up with our plan:

-Limit dessert (TRUE dessert) to ONCE a week–this turns dessert into what it should be: an occasional indulgence, not an every-night-because-I-want-it thing.  And it will give me something to look forward to each week, perhaps even a dessert date with Andrew

-Bring back the measuring cups! Regina said her mom always told her to introduce something new while giving something up during Lent.  We’re getting back to portion control as a way to be obedient to God in our eating habits.  It’s hard to mindlessly munch if you have to measure it all out ahead of time.

-Stick to structured meals and snacks.  This isn’t exactly something we put on paper, but it’s a good rule of thumb: If it isn’t part of a regular meal or pre-planned snack, avoid it.  It’s fine (good, even) to snack on an apple and cheese stick on the way home from school, but really, Holly, do you need the extra Wheat Thins while prepping dinner, too?

So, that’s the plan.  Six weeks of putting God first over our cravings for sweets, comfort foods and boredom eating.

What do I hope to gain?

-A deeper relationship with my God, who I’ve been seeking half-heartedly for awhile now.  Despite my diligence with Made to Crave, I feel like it’s going in one ear and out the other.  These ‘checks’ are a way for me to demonstrate his power in my life.

-Control over my diet.  I talk a big talk about healthy eating, but I have some deep-seated eating issues I need to deal with before it’s ever going to be under control.  If I want to one day help others be healthy, I need to be healthy, too–and that includes my head and heart.

-Perhaps I’d like to LOSE a few things, too….  I’d be lying if I didn’t hope this six-week sacrifice also helped me lighten up a little.  Again, the number on the scale is a reflection of how much I’ve let God fill me and not food; shedding a few pounds is an indication that I’ve sacrificed.  KEEPING THEM OFF IS AN INDICATION I’VE CHANGED.

I appreciate your prayers (and I’m sure Regina would, too!) as I embark on a journey that could truly be difficult for me.  I’ll keep you posted every once in awhile 🙂

 

super healthy Super Bowl

How ’bout that game!? Only in New Orleans…

Anyway, I hosted our family for the event because I had a neat idea: only healthy food! I’m working on self-control when it comes to eating, but it’s also nice to have healthy options, too.

First, I need to brag on Andrew: he vacuumed AND mopped our living room that morning in anticipation of our guests. I love him.

Andrew’s dad suggested homemade pizzas, and I ran with it.

20130204-105026.jpg

I set out a prep station and then got the appetizers ready:

20130204-105108.jpg

Chips and salsa and Cooking Light’s Hot Artichoke Dip with triscuits. Andrew’s mom brought a veggie tray.

20130204-105219.jpg

I made a pepperoni and banana pepper Stromboli:

20130204-105342.jpg

20130204-105403.jpg

What is the difference between a calzone and Stromboli, anyway?

I made a sausage and bell pepper and red onion pizza with red sauce:

20130204-105529.jpg

And I tried to mimic Pasquale’s white pizza, with onion and tomato and a pesto-olive oil sauce:

20130204-105646.jpg

All of the crusts were a 50/50 white and wheat mix from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.

For dessert, we had angel food cake with fruit:

20130204-105812.jpg

And I made a lightened chocolate pudding from Ellie Krieger:

20130204-105900.jpg

It tasted better than it looked, I promise! And everything is better with a little cool-whip…

Overall, I think we all enjoyed our lighter football-game fare. At least I’m pumped for healthy eating the rest of the week 🙂

starting the new year off LIGHT

Happy February, all!  (OK, where did January go???)

This post has been in the works for awhile now, and I’ve been dying to get it up here.  What set out to be a few snapshots of some of our ‘photo-worthy meals’ (yes, Andrew and I refer to them that way) has become a compilation of healthy meals we had in January.  I’m really proud of myself (and Andrew) that we have faithfully stuck to the “Meatless Monday” and one fish-dish per week goals I set for the new year.  And that we’ve–for the most part at least–stuck to the weekly menu plan and haven’t ordered pizza when the schedule got crazy.

Going forward, I’m adding one more weekly goal:  fix one meal from our list of ‘favorites.’  Andrew’s biggest complaint, by far, is that I make awesome stuff and save the recipe, but he never sees it again because I’m too busy trying new things.  It’s completely normal for me to put together five or six meals of completely new recipes, including side dishes.  That’s like 12-15 new recipes a week!  (I’m exhausted.)  And I love my husband and want to (finally) listen to what he wants.  So, a few of our favorites will be making a comeback 🙂

So, without further ado, here is my tribute to our healthiest month yet:

(Note: And all of these meals were planned AND eaten before I even saw Cooking Light’s current Jan/Feb “Start Your Year Off Light” spread.  I’m a little behind…what can I say?)

BTW–Cooking Light had THREE contributors this month with “RD” after their names…perhaps that will be ME one day!

Anyway, all that to say that we’ve been eatin’ pretty healthy around these parts so far.  Not that we were fast-food junkies, or even really needed to overhaul any part of our diets (OK, except my dessert habit, but that’s my own burden to bear), but I really wanted to add a little more structure to our weekly meals and, of course, make them even healthier.  But not less tasty.

Enter ‘Meatless Monday.  You can read my post for the co-op about it here, which includes the link to the actual ‘Meatless Monday’ site.

In short, I made two resolutions this year pertaining to our weekly dinners: to eat fish once a week, and to (purposefully) go meatless once a week as well.  I say purposefully only because I wanted to use MM as a chance to explore new ingredients/sources of protein, as opposed to using it as an excuse to make pancakes or spaghetti and marinara for dinner.  (Not that either of those are bad options–in fact, we had pancakes for dinner last Saturday night with the Nyes!

So anyway, here (in no particular order), are some photos of what we’ve been eating lately, as well as the link to recipes when possible:

IMG_3526

Everyday Food Mag’s Fish Tacos and Spicy Slaw.  I’ve made this a couple times now and Andrew is a huge fan, believe it or not.  Served with blue crunchy corn shells and avocado, as well as spanish rice.

IMG_3474

BTW, this is our new favorite wine: Layer Cake’s “Primitivo.”  Emily gifted it to me because of the name, and it’s a mild red both Andrew and I like a lot.

IMG_3499

Quinoa and Lemon Soup from my Quinoa 365 cookbook.

IMG_3490

Tilapia cooked with basil olive oil and lemon vinegar (Christmas gifts from Heather!) in a foil packet.

IMG_3481

Morningstar Farm’s Spicy Black Bean burgers served with spinach and all the traditional burger fixins’ on homemade bread.  I don’t normally buy “vegetarian” burgers at the grocery store, but Mrs. Nye gifted me with a box of these from her freezer, and I sensed if I didn’t use them they would succumb to freezer burn.  Don’t know that I would buy them again, but not half bad.  Andrew ate it, but didn’t want seconds.

IMG_3558

Mustard-roasted Chicken with Vegetables: an old-school, back-pocket classic.  This is one of three chicken recipes I cut from a Real Simple magazine forever ago that I make over and over again.  The other two are: Barbecue Apricot Chicken and Chicken Paprikash.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.

IMG_3572

Roasted asparagus, broiled salmon and a Barley and Fig salad from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.  Andrew really liked the salad, which featured dried figs, green onions and a lemon dressing.

IMG_3605

This one was a toss-up, but Andrew ate it nonetheless.  It’s Cooking Light’s Smoky Black Bean and Butternut Squash Salad.  I’ve had it in my ‘to-try’ binder for more than a year and decided it was time to try it, Andrew’s dislike of beans be darned!  It was quite spicy–chipotles in adobo will do that!  Add avocado next time and it would be even better.

IMG_3638

Cooking Light’s Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry, served with Spicy Cabbage Stir-Fry.  The chicken stir-fry was pretty good, although I totally overcooked the cabbage.

IMG_3644

Cooking Light’s Seared Scallops with Bacon, Cabbage and Apple.  My photo of my plate didn’t turn out well, but the color I got on the scallops was beautiful.  I’d never made scallops before, and Andrew had never tried them.  Can you believe he admitted they “weren’t fishy at all,” and that “I’d eat them again” came out of his mouth?  I almost fell out of my chair.

IMG_3648

A couple nights ago I made CL’s Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili, and can you believe Andrew had TWO BOWLS?! It featured pinto beans (which I find to be much milder than kidney beans for chili), zucchini and roasted bell and poblano peppers.  The flavor was traditional chili, but more vegetable-y.  Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein, so it’s an excellent option for meatless dishes.

Last night I made CL’s Beef Stroganoff, which is a dish I loved growing up, but I’m sure my mom made it with Cream of Mushroom soup and sour cream.  This healthier recipe featured a flour/beef broth mixture and just a tad bit of sour cream (I used plain yogurt instead).  I thought it was wonderful, but since Andrew picks around mushrooms, I don’t know that I’d make it again.  It was nice, however, to feel like I could make something I really wanted and that Andrew would eat it despite the offending ingredients.  He’s maturing like that 🙂

In case you’re wondering, I don’t keep all the recipes I try.  In fact, I barely keep any of them.  I make it, and unless Andrew and I are blown away, it goes right in the trash.  The truth is, I have too many cookbooks, magazines and already-torn-out recipes to keep any that aren’t absolutely fantastic.  I try to remember particular methods or ingredient pairings (like how coarse-grain mustard is excellent for pork or roasted potatoes) and then toss the recipe.  I’m also aways on the quest for “the best” recipes, like the best chili or butternut squash soup, so I’m constantly trying and comparing new and old recipes.  For every 10 recipes I cook, 9 are new and maybe only 1 is from the “favorites” binder, much to Andrew’s chagrin.