Clean Eating

So Maria called me before the first of the year and proposed another challenge for me.  “Let’s do the 30 day Paleo challenge.”  Great – another challenge by my beloved daughter.  Do I really want to do this?  I have been very successful with Weight Watchers.  But then I thought it would be a great idea to start the new year off with a new challenge.  I am always up for a challenge and was interested in  what was involved.  Here is the link to the Whole 30 program. I read the program and saw what was good to eat and what I had to avoid.  And I new I could implement this with Weight Watchers new Simple Start.

Mostly the Whole 30  is eating lean meats, fish, vegetables, nuts and fruits and healthy fats.  Here is the kicker.  NO WINE!  Ok, I can give up wine for 30 days.  I have given up my wine before and it actually has been hindering my weight loss. So no problem.   Also on the Whole 30 there are no grains, legumes, dairy or additives.  No sugar substitutes.  So that means not only do I have to give up my wine, I can’t have sugar free gum, sugar free popsicles, diet tonic water and my Greek Yogurt (which I absolutely love).  I am ok giving up legumes and grains.    They have not been a big part in my diet anyhow.  But I will admit giving up my Greek yogurt, sugarless gum and sugar free popsicles and diet tonic water will be a challenge.

Before I go any further I want to clarify my few diet products that I enjoy.  I chew maybe one piece of sugar free gum a day.  I usually will pop a piece in my mouth early in the afternoon when I get a sweet craving.  My sugar free popsicle is a treat for after dinner.  And my one glass of diet tonic water was only drunk before dinner to replace a glass of wine.  Greek yogurt was my go to breakfast with strawberries.  Oh and I usually would sweeten it with one packet of Stevia Raw (which is also a no no).

My go to drink is now water, water and more water.  I fill a gallon jug of water, cut up limes and lemons and put them in the jug.  I love it.  It tastes fresh and is very refreshing.  Did you know that you are suppose to drink 1/2 your body weight in water?  That is in ounces not pounds.  So If I weigh 154 pounds, I have to drink around 77 ounces of water a day.  That is a lot of water.  But I have been easily drinking that amount daily and enjoying it.

Now I am not a perfect human being and I did choose to have a few items on the no no list.  I did have my Greek yogurt three times in ten days.  There are just so many eggs I can eat for breakfast.  I also don’t like meat or fish every morning for breakfast.  So that is a challenge.  We went to the movies yesterday and I didn’t even think about having popcorn.  Which is an absolute no no.  But I really was craving a diet coke which I very rarely drink.   After a few sips, I was noticing a horrible after taste.  I never have an after taste with my lemon water.  So I don’t think I will be having any more diet soda.    I finished my last sugar free popsicle last night and I will not buy any more.  I won’t even talk about me loving light lemonade.  I have totally given that up.  Now my sugarless gum might just have to stay in my program.

I think more than anything on this challenge is to not add any additives to your food. So here is what I am trying to do.  In my smoothies, (a great treat mid morning snack with one cup of almond milk and a cup of blueberries) instead of my Stevia Raw  I could add 1/2 of a very ripe banana.   How sweet it is.  I could also cook down some very sweet apples and add that and that would be a very natural sweetener.

I am now 10 days into this challenge and here is what I have learned.  Paleo Whole 30  is very easy to stick to.  It is a very healthy way of eating.  I am never hungry.  I LOVE NOT BEING HUNGRY!  I have not weighed or measured or tracked any food for 10 days and I am loving it.  And this definitely goes along with Weight Watcher Simple Start program.  I feel absolutely FREE.  I just eat my lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and my olive oil.  It is so simple.  I don’t think about food 24-7.  I do take time to make sure my refrigerator and freezer are well stocked with great wholesome foods.  I have enjoyed eating new foods.  My absolute favorite is Butternut Squash chips.  Which is a great snack when I come home from work.

I am enjoying my Clean Eating.  I feel great.  I am sleeping better.  I feel like I have a bit more energy.  The best thing is that Whole 30 is VERY EASY.  Weight Watchers Simple Start is also very easy. In my world of chaos and confusion, very easy is my favorite place to be.

Salt, Pepper and Garlic

For all of you that really know me well, I am not the best cook.  Salt, Pepper, Garlic.  Those are my main ingredients in EVERYTHING I cook.  I am not a terrible cook.  I am just a plain and simple cook.  I cook every night.  Usually a lean meat, a vegetable and a salad.  I may splurge and bake a sweet potato for me and a russet potato for John.  And if I am really on a roll I will not microwave them but bake them in the oven.  You would never expect that I came from a family of chefs.

My father owned an Italian Restaurant in Evanston, Illinois called Michelini’s.  In my opinion it had the best Italian food anywhere.  On Sunday’s (his only day off) he would home cook a family meal that still to this day makes my mouth water.  All Sunday meals had several courses.  The first course was always a pasta dish.  My favorite was rigatoni with the best tomato – meat sauce.  This delectable meat sauce had just the right amount of everything in it.  Onions, garlic, tomatoes and meat.  The next course was the main dish which was usually roast beef cooked to perfection (always on the rare side) with a thick dark brown gravy.  It was always accompanied by the creamiest mashed potatoes.  Our vegetables were sautéed broccolli ladened with garlic  and olive oil and  a  tossed salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing.  A loaf of crunchy french bread and butter always completed a Camastro meal.

My mother on the other hand could not cook.  She did not need to since my father did all of the cooking.  But what she did was bake.   She made the best Chocolate Chip cookies that were so crunchy.  I love crunchy cookies. She baked a lemon crisp cake that accompanied most of our Sunday dinners – because it was a light dessert.  Fudge was always a holiday treat. And she baked the best biscotti.  I am not that fond of biscotti because the cookie is not sweet enough for me.  But I will say the almond and anise flavor were delightful.  My sister, Rose, has carried on the biscotti tradition.

My brother’s Paul and Carl joined my father in the restaurant.  The two of them are also amazing chefs.  I love it when they come to St. Louis to visit because I always make them cook.  They just seem to throw things together and magically an incredible, delicious meal is presented.  We are not talking low calorie meals either.  They use the real deal.  Real butter, real cheese, real bread – you get my drift.  Everything they cook is absolutely delicious.  

My nephew, Timothy, owner of Rollin to Go in Evanston, Illinois (the best sandwich shop) is also a chef.  He makes the best sandwiches anywhere.  My favorite is the Portabella on Ciabatta.  I do not know why Diners, Dives and Drive Ins has not found out about him.

And we get back to me.  I tend not to follow directions (a life long problem) and I season through tasting.  Most of the times I do not measure the ingredients.  I just shake or throw in the spice until it looks or tastes right.  One can never go wrong with Salt, Pepper and Garlic.

I will be adding my favorite weekly recipes to my blog.   I have found these recipes in the Weight Watcher web site and other Healthy Living sites.   I am not taking credit for any of these recipes.  I will always give credit to the chef.   Because you and I know that the chef is not me.

My first recipe is the best “FRIED CHICKEN”.  I love this web site LaLoosh  It is chalk full of healthy recipes that are all Weight Watcher friendly.


Buttermilk Ranch Fried Chicken   

Just because you are a weight watcher doesn’t mean you have to give up the good foods. The trick is just finding healthier, low calorie, low point total versions of your fattening favorites. And this Buttermilk Ranch Fried Chicken Recipe will be sure to satisfy your craving for fried chicken, but will use up only 6 of your daily points. We all know that traditional fried chicken recipes are loaded with fat and calories giving them very high Weight Watchers Points Values. I’ve seen some as high at 16 Points for ONE piece of chicken! Crazy. Instead, try this version, and you’ll be in fried chicken heaven. The key is that this Ranch Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe is not actually fried – it’s baked. But trust me when I tell you that this chicken is so yummy, you won’t miss the grease! And though it’s not an official one of Weight Watchers Chicken Recipes, it’s still a great meal idea for anyone who wants to enjoy tasty food at a lower calorie count.

Buttermilk Ranch Fried Chicken Recipe

– 12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
– 2/3 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
– 1/3 cup Fiber One bran Cereal
– 1 packet Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
– 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
– non fat cooking spray, butter flavored

In a Tupperware container, or large Ziploc bag, mix the buttermilk, salt, pepper and dried parsley flakes. Add the chicken, and coat it well. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with the butter flavored nonstick, non-fat cooking spray. In a food processor or blender, and grind the Fiber One cereal to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Pour the crumb mixture into a large bowl and add in the Panko bread crumbs and Ranch Salad Seasoning Mix. Remove each individual piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and dip it into the crumb/seasoning mixture. Make sure to coat each piece thoroughly. Lay each coated piece on the baking sheet. Give them all a quick once over spray with the butter flavored non-fat cooking spray. Bake for about 1-12 minutes on each side, or until the edges are crispy.

Entire recipe makes 2 servings
Each serving = 6 Point Total

photo credit: Food Network

LISA’S TAKE   This is by far one of my favorite chicken recipes.  My husband also loves it.  I also used this recipes with chicken thighs but that adds more points.
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