Thanks for muffin

There are several of us on this Whole30-like challenge that share our experience, eating habits, nutritional issues and cravings with each other. Sometimes it feels like everything we want to eat is banned.

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We all have our own problems. My biggest problems are limited options as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, no legumes or quinoa for at least the first part of the challenge (self imposed rule), not wanting to rely only on eggs for protein and rarely having time to eat during the day at work day (non-stop meetings asking for red lines to be drawn with green inkconference calls and no time to actually do the work). I need to have food with me otherwise I will snack on the food around me (all carb loaded refined white flour food and sweets) or not eat. Because I need to leave work on time to pick up my daughter, I don’t have time to run out and grab a meal or take a break.

The program nutritionist suggested that I add protein powder to my water that I drink throughout the day so that I am giving my body that protein regularly rather than sporadically. I’m going to give it a try.

Others have a hard time because they rely on take out or what’s around them because they don’t cook. They need simple dishes or something they can pick up at the store.

I like to cook as much as possible from scratch, to experiment and create and I do like dishes with layered flavors that  take time to build. But not everyone does.

Healthy eating does not have to be complicated but it does require some commitment, thinking outside the box and planning, especially during these challenges.

It can be as simple as a pre-made sandwich, some lettuce and some condiments. Just be sure to read labels and make sure there are no chemicals or preservatives or sugar. If you can’t find any, then buy some pre-made guacamole, or an avocado and mash it up with a fork, some lime and salt and it can serve as a condiment. If you eat meat it’s even easier. If you don’t, often deli counters have some roasted veggies. Put the sandwich contents into a piece of butter or romaine lettuce and now you have a sandwich. Use chard instead of lettuce for variety. Use cabbage for a crunchy “bread”. Protein is harder to add into sandwich form for a legume/quinoa/dairy-free veghead on the fly, so be sure to add avocado or have some nuts and seeds on the side. Or add them to the lettuce wrap for texture. If you eat quinoa or legumes, then add tempeh or quinoa.

Spiralizers are awwwwesoooome!  They range in price for $15-$70, but the less expensive ones work well and they are often on sale. Use zucchini (or other veg) to make “noodles.” Depending on the veg, for the most part they only take 3-5 min to cook. Some pesto or jarred tomato sauce can be a life/time saver (make sure it does not have any sugar, chemicals, etc. Trader Joe’s, Pavillions and Whole Foods have some good options). Add some pre-cut veggies from the salad bar or in packages to the sauce for added nutrition and fiber, and if you eat meat, add meat. If you don’t, add some mushroom, sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast for protein and nutrients.

These are the kind of tricks I use on busy days or busy weeks.

The possibilities are endless but planning is essential – it is hard to make decisions when we are hungry and wanting our comfort food, and even harder to think on the fly. In my experience, at first the planning seems time consuming and tedious, but eventually it becomes part of the normal routine, like brushing your teeth. And it sets your mind at ease because you won’t be worried about what you will be eating and you will feel good from what you eat.

If you have a craving for something, think about how you can incorporate those flavors into something you eat or recreate it.  One girl in our challenge wanted pizza, so she incorporated a pizza sauce into her eggs. It’s not exactly the same as pizza, but a part of the brain will be satisfied for the time being. Eventually your brain will rewire it’s desires. As a New Yorker, I crave pizza all the freaking time. But I have rewired myself to want specific types of pizza – all home made pizzas which prevents me from eating pizza every time I see it (which is often at work). I now only indulge (off challenge) in the real deal when I know it will be out of this world.

A scientific study showed that though it ranges from about 15 days to 254 days (8 months) takes about 66 days – or 2 months – to form a new habit. It will take that long to retrain your brain to not crave pizza as often. These 30 day or 6 week diets and challenges won’t get you there, but they can help you recognize your patterns, your cravings and help you change your ways. It is up to you to keep them going after the challenge is over to make a new change.

In the past I have developed many good habits over the course of dedication for 9 months (From experience, I know it takes me between 6 to 9 months to develop a new habit). Sometimes we lose our way – I lost my way with food, specifically sweets, dairy and carbs, between work and being a new mother. I am using this challenge to help me find my way again. I am being strict for the 6 weeks that challenge asks for, paying attention to myself and experimenting with my food and nutritional intake. After the 6 weeks is over, I plan on continuing this journey, but incorporating a “day off” in my schedule to give me the room to enjoy that pizza, that hand rolled pasta, that piece of cake or whatever it is I want. That idea is to not let that day off  or treat become a slippery slope. And that slippery slope is on a steeper incline than you think. It is very easy to slide down if you allow yourself to – I have slide down many a time in the past. We all make mistakes and slide. The point is to get right back up and not slide down further. That is what I am trying to do.

These life changes are not easy. And our minds resist change. I just hope you try to stick with it – and if you slide, it’s OK – just don’t beat yourself up about it and get right back up. So I will get off my soapbox for now. I just want you to know it is not easy and we are all in this together. This peptalk is more for me than it is for you. So I thank you for your support, by sticking with me thus far.

I usually keep my freezer stocked with goodies – usually homemade in my case, but it does not have to be homemade – that I can easily defrost and use for a meal, whether it be lunch or dinner. That way I am never worried on days when I am too tired or don’t have time to cook.

OK. So in my opinion, healthy eating comes down to three things. Commitment, planning and freezing.

What do I freeze? Sauces, pestos, patties, muffins, and more. I like especially to freeze snack for on the go. I don’t always have time to boil an egg. And I certainly don’t have time to add a veg to that. So instead I’ll freeze egg muffins (eggs beaten with veg, salt, pepper and spices added, baked in muffin cups at 400 degrees F until fluffy)

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I love healthy muffins for on the go. There are so many kinds of healthy awesome muffins – and many recipes out there in on the interwebs. The butternut + nutbutter recipe could be made into muffins. I wanted to make some that were chunky and high in veg but sweet like typical carrot/zucchini muffins and not completely savory. So I made zucchini lemon blueberry muffins. Except for the fact that they are a baked good, these are Whole30 compliant. You can adjust sweetness, use honey, brown sugar or maple syrup as desired, add butter, have fun with it!

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Zucchini Blueberry Lemon Muffins

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 large zucchini shredded (I used the food processoe)
  • 1 lemon for both zest and juice, about 1/3 cup juice
  • 3 soaked dates blended with water
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1 vanilla bean for seeds (or extract, side note: if not using fresh bean, I prefer paste to extract )
  • 1 tsp baking soda (or carbonated water if you don’t want to use baking sodas/powders)
  • 1.5 cup almond flour
  • 0.5 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg or  a pinch of freshly grated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • walnut pieces (optional)

Make about 18 muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil

Whisk together all dry ingredients, except walnuts.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs and then add lemon juice, zest, dates, banana, ghee and mix together thoroughly. Add zucchini, and mix.

Fold in blueberries and walnuts.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for about 30-40 min, depending on ovens.

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