Kale and Dumbells » A journey of health and fitness.

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  • WELCOME!

    Thanks for visiting me here at Kale and Dumbbells! Over the last year and a half, I have been on a journey of health and wellness and lost over 40pounds. I also happen to love food. OK, that might be a bit of an understatement. I really really really love food.

    It has become a bit of an obsession of mine to find ways to make food both healthy and tasty for me and my family. Here is where I will share recipes and talk about food, fitness and maybe a few things in between. I'd be thrilled to have you follow along on my journey. You may also want to visit me on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

    If there are any recipes that you'd like to see or questions you have, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. I'd love to hear from you!

  • ARCHIVES

Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchiladas

I was initially inspired to make this dish when I saw this amazing recipe by Perry’s Plate. I’m not much of a recipe follower, but I tucked this idea away and spun it into my own version. This dish is pretty easy to make (the best part being that this is prepared lasagna style instead of rolling the tortillas…so much quicker and easier!), can be made ahead (which is always a bonus for those busy days) and is loaded with veggies. A definite win in my books! I use this fabulous Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce, but it’s pretty easy to make your own and I’ve seen lots of recipes floating around on the internet. If you do buy a pre-made sauce, be sure to read the ingredient labels, and in particular, check the sodium levels.

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I have made this dish two different ways, and both have been successful, although I prefer the preparation as written in the recipe (sauteeing all the veggies with the sauce prior to baking in the oven). You can assemble this dish without pre-cooking the veggies, however I found the flavor wasn’t quite as good. If you’re running short on time though, it certainly is an option. Just cook at a slightly lower temperature (325-350degF) for 60-75 minutes.

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Veggie Loaded Chicken Enchiladas
An easy to make enchilada dish with lots of veggies!
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Ingredients
2-3 cups cooked diced chicken or turkey (leftovers work great!)
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 medium peppers, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed
1-2 ears corn (or 1 can, rinsed)
1-2 cups shredded cheese
10-12 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 bottle enchilada sauce (or homemade)
1-2 avocados
cilantro
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375degF
2. Saute onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes until they start to soften
3. Add zucchini and saute for 2-3 minutes
4. Add beans, corn and chicken or turkey, and saute until warmed through.
5. Stir in enchilada sauce.
6. Spread some of mixture on the bottom of your 9x13 baking pan.
7. Layer corn tortilla strips over the pan (does not need to be covered, about 3 tortillas per layer)
8. Add more of the vegetable mixture, and continue to layer until ingredients are gone.
9. Sprinkle cheese on top.
10. Bake in oven until warm through and cheese is melted.
11. Serve with sliced avocado and cilantro.
Notes
Feel free to add additional veggies of choice...kale, spinach, mushrooms, etc are all great additions to this dish.
Kale and Dumbells http://www.kaleanddumbbells.com/
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October 8, 2013 - 8:52 am

Natalie - Awesome, Rachel! Looks fabulous!!

October 8, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Jacoba - Leftovers? What are those? :) Looks delicious!

Time to Get Back on Track!

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I hope you have been enjoying summer as much as we have! Despite my husband’s super crazy work schedule this summer, we managed to fit in some camping, day trips, and time with family and friends. Our last camping trip of the summer is this weekend, and then next week school starts. eek! It’s been a low-key, laid-back summer that I may have enjoyed and indulged in a little too much (if you know what I mean!). But September is right around the corner, which means routine is on the way (whether I am ready or not!). September seems to be a time for resolutions, kind of like New Years. This year especially for me as it’s going to be a much-needed fresh start as I tackle my summer muffin-top.:)

This summer I was not on plan…I barely made it to the gym (although I did fit in some hiking, biking and walking) and it was a bit of a free-for-all when it came to food. And guess what? I can tell. My energy levels have dropped, the scale is giving me the stink-eye, and my clothes are feeling a little (or a lot) snug. September is going to be my time to reboot, and here is my plan to get back to exercising, clean eating and dropping a few pounds:

Workouts: Gym 2-3x’s per week, plus workout videos at home, and walking/running/hiking. GOAL: Total activity 4-5x’s per week

Drinking water: 8-10 glasses per day, plus 2 cups of green tea per day. Little to no alcohol.

Clean eating: Focusing on lean protein, veggies and fruit. Reducing caloric intake, plus less grain products, and cutting out unhealthy snacks. Focusing on lean protein, veggies and fruit. Eating every 2-3 hours, and planning ahead so I am not tempted to snack.

Tracking: This is always key to my success…using My Fitness Pal to track my food and exercise (feel free to join me there! It’s a great way to have accountability). GOAL: track every day of September, even if it’s a bad day.

So….want to join me? Follow along here on my blog, Facebook and Instagram, as I share my food, tips and tricks and my progress. I would love it if you joined me! For me accountability is important (which is why I am sharing this). If you have a few pounds to lose or want to start (or get back on track) with clean eating, leave a comment and we can cheer each other on!

I will be back September 2nd (first day of school here) with my first day back on track. Hope you all have a lovely long weekend and enjoy your last hurrah of summer.:)

August 28, 2013 - 10:15 am

Ali - Missed you on Fit pal!I was good about working out but not so much with the eating! Btw we have the same website template! :-)

August 28, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Jacoba - Sure, I’ll join you! Got a run in October to train for and need to get back on track with some cleaner eating as my energy is pretty low. Also…need more sleep. As usual. :)

August 28, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Judy Vanderpol - I was reading your “story” and just about fell off the couch. Your story spoke volumes to me…and also…Jeremiah 29v 11 is MY verse!…(there is a story there)…
I struggle in a very big way with my health..I do eat pretty healthy during the day…not enough water though…Green Tea?…but it is the night time snacks that do me in…I actually get hungry at night..after dinner…
Your facebook “Time to get back on Track” tapped my shoulder pretty hard….thankyou…

August 30, 2013 - 8:27 am

Jenn - I’m in! I don’t think I’m going to food track but I so want to get stronger again. Looking forward to seeing your updates starting up again next week!

September 1, 2013 - 8:50 am

Arlene Johnston - I’m in too!! I started cutting out the evening snacks but I really need to get serious now. I joined a gym and am ready to go, also work out with Ty when he leads his circuit training at his gym. Burned 506 calories yesterday in one hour, it was crazy!!! Looking forward to your eating tips. Have a great weekend.

Guest Post: Our Whole30 – Review by Jacoba

I am super excited to have a guest post to share with you today!!! And yes, there are multiple exclamation posts, because a guest post is just what I and this blog need. I am feeling a little stretched on time and energy these days, but wanted some fresh and interesting content to share with my readers. Enter Jacoba, a long-time friend of mine, who recently undertook a month long journey of super clean eating Paleo inspired plan by Whole9 Life. If you are looking for a great way to kick start your healthy eating lifestyle, you may want to consider trying a program like this!

I am thrilled that Jacoba has agreed to share her experience with us. I know that lots of people are looking forward to reading this and hearing how Jacoba survived the month! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments, and check back for Jacoba’s responses.

 

Our Whole30 ‘Adventure’ – April 2013, by Jacoba Leyenhorst

The Background Story

While checking out the Simple Mom blog this past March, I noticed a reference to the “Whole30” plan. I clicked on over to the Whole9 site where a couple named Dallas and Melissa Hartwig have lots of information, not just on the Whole30 program, but on the Paleo lifestyle in general. Before I knew it, I was trying to talk my two sisters into signing on to this plan for the month of April – seeing as April, with its convenient length of 30 days, seemed tailor-made for the plan. Amazingly enough, they agreed to try it with me. Good thing, because once I read the plan in more depth, I realized that there was no way I was going to get through this without a support group!

So, what is the “Whole30”? It is described as a “nutritional reset” – basically a 30-day intensified version of the Paleo way of eating, based on the book It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  How intense? Well, the short version is: No grains (this includes rice, quinoa, corn), no dairy, no legumes (including peanuts), no soy, no sugar or sweeteners of any kind (even natural ones like honey), no alcohol/tobacco, no MSG, sulphites (preservatives) or carrageenan, no white potatoes, and no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices (such as coconut-flour pancakes, almond-flour muffins, etc.). Or, as my husband would say, “No Fun”!

Yikes. When I would give people this rundown, the next question they would invariably ask (after giving me that sidelong ‘you’re a bit of a weirdo’ look) was, “What CAN you eat???” It is a pretty daunting list, that’s for sure. So why sign on to a plan like this anyways? Well, I like a challenge. Just kidding – I don’t, really. The main thing for me was my love affair with sugar. I have major sugar/carb cravings that I can’t seem to control. I’m not a person who can say ‘no thanks’ to dessert, or have just one Oreo from the bag in the cupboard. I also was experiencing a distinct lack of energy most days. Plus, I had been having a lot of unexplained stomach aches – often after breakfast…that is, if I even ate breakfast. I was generally not hungry in the morning at all, delaying breakfast until 10am or so, or skipping it altogether. According to most of the info I was reading, this was not a sign of good health! And so I thought that a month long focus on healthy eating, a ‘cleanse’ from all the junk I had been eating, would be a good thing for me. Other reasons for trying this plan might be to jump-start weight loss, or to try and figure out what foods you might be sensitive to.

 Preparing for The Adventure

And so we stocked up on ‘approved foods’ and tried to menu plan as best as we could. My sisters and I shared our weekly food plans (breakfast, lunch, dinner), which was great for ideas. The Paleo way of eating wasn’t too new to me, as my husband has been eating this way for some time. However, even a lot of those recipes had to be tweaked to include the new, stricter guidelines. The Hartwigs’ book has a lot of recipe ideas, and most libraries have a lot of Paleo/gluten-free books to test out Some of the ones I found helpful were: Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, and Eat Like a Dinosaur by the Paleo Parents. There is also a great blog called Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam – great because she’s very funny and her food photography is crazily good with lots of step-by-step photos. The best part is that she’s done the Whole30 twice now, and so has a ton of recipes that work for the program.

In a fit of ambition, I even signed up for one of the many forums on the Whole9 website – one that was started for anyone beginning the Whole30 on April 1. The more support the better, right? Especially after spotting this photo on the site:

An overview of our month

Day 1: I wish I could say that I wisely planned ahead, eating sensibly the weekend before April 1 (a Monday) and weaning myself off my beloved lattes. However, the weekend before happened to be the Easter weekend, which, as usual, involved lots of family get-togethers and bucket loads of candy. And so April 1 came around all too quickly for my taste. Let’s just say that it was not a good day for all of the kids to be home from school (Easter Monday holiday)! Coffee is allowed on the Whole30, as long as you drink it black. Since I only like ‘fancy’ coffee drinks, or, as my sister wisely pointed out, ‘vehicles for milk and sugar intake’ (ouch!), coffee was now out for me. Black tea is also okay on the program…but just doesn’t do it for me. So there I was, one cranky sugar/caffeine/carb-withdrawing mommy. My poor children. I must say that I absolutely crashed, with a massive headache and a brain fog lethargy that glued me to the couch (hey! I thought that was for Day 2!). Even my husband was a little bit worried for me…or maybe he was just scared of me. I did read at some point that the more junk you ate right before the program, the worse you would feel when you started…and I am the living proof of that!

By the second day I wasn’t feeling much better, but made my own mayonnaise. Seriously! I didn’t even know you could do that. I got the recipe from It Starts With Food, and even watched a tutorial online. This is also mentioned in the Nom Nom Paleo blog along with links to video tutorials for using a regular or an immersion blender. No one was more amazed than I was when it actually worked (apparently, it often doesn’t)! I must say that I didn’t absolutely love the taste, but it did open up some new food possibilities, including things like tuna salad, coleslaw and dip for veggies. Plus it just felt cool to say that I made my own mayonnaise. 

At this point I was ready to sell my youngest child (okay, maybe the second-youngest) for some coffee…when I noticed some comments on Paleo sites about drinking coffee with coconut milk. Hmm…I had a sudden vision of a latte made with coconut milk (no sugar)! (Yes, I was very excited.) I made the mistake of mentioning this to my rule-following, hardcore black-coffee-drinking hubby who expressed some concern about my willingness to “cheat”. Yes, he said “cheat”! I thought I was being quite creative with this “loophole” – anyways, the long and short of it is that we had to bring in a neutral third party (hi sis!) to make the call. Sadly, she was not near her computer to answer my desperate plea…and so, as Chief Whole30 Food Purchaser/Manager/Chef, I made the executive decision that coconut milk lattes were now on the menu. And it was so very good. And I was so very much easier to live with! Did it count as a ‘paleofied’ junk food? Not sure! Didn’t care! 

 

Meals, meal planning and snacks

To keep things simple, I ended up eating basically the same breakfast every day – a recipe my sister found for sweet potato hashbrowns that I ate with a fried egg, some avocado, and of course my beloved latte. Eating a substantial breakfast every single day was a pretty new thing for me, and something I ended up really enjoying. Plus it was nice to genuinely not feel hungry until lunch time. I did get a little annoyed when I was pressed for time, but some pre-planning really helped (like grating the sweet potato ahead of time)…and waiting until after the big boys got on the school bus so that I didn’t burn everything when I got distracted with helping them to get ready for school!

Lunch varied according to what I had in the house – my husband usually snagged the dinner leftovers so I had to come up with something else. After wallowing in self-pity and boiled eggs for a few days, I got a little more motivated and branched out into home-made soup, salmon cakes in lettuce wraps, and tuna-egg salad (please excuse my less-than-stellar photos!). Much like breakfast, I had really not been good about actually sitting down and having a ‘proper’ lunch – I would grab something quick, eat a yogurt, and wonder why I was so hungry at 3pm. So taking the time for a good lunch was also a new thing – it actually really felt like a treat.

Speaking of treats, the Whole30 programs encourages (okay, strongly suggests) that you do not snack at all. Yes, brutal, I know! My days generally go from snack time to snack time…so this was quite a change. Although I was not able to cut out snacks entirely, I did stock up on raw nuts and some dried fruit. I even got used to carrying a little bag of them in my purse for if I got too hungry. Raw nuts with nothing added to them can be a little tricky to find sometimes – most nuts are roasted and have various oils added to them. The dried fruit is actually kind of a ‘cheat’ item – the program recommends no sulphites (preservatives) and it is very hard to find any dried fruit without them. Plus, a lot of dried fruit has sugar added to it. Anyways, I compromised with buying some dried apricots (no sugar added) and some figs each week. This did become a bit of a problem for me in that I was trying to cut out sugar cravings, and yet when I craved something sweet, I would eat some dried fruit or some raisins. So if I do this program again in the future, I think I will leave the dried fruit out as it’s kind of a crutch for me! All in all, the rules about snacking did make me very aware of how much I eat without really thinking about it – like finishing off my kids’ bread, for example, or eating a bunch of Goldfish crackers as I make a snack ready for my youngest.

You might be wondering what our kids thought of all this. My husband and I decided that we would not expect the kids to follow this program, because, let’s face it, that would be even more work and fairly cruel (to us, not them!). We did always have a Whole30 compliant dinner, and so the kids had to eat what we were eating. But we would often substitute certain items in or out of the meal, depending on what we needed. For example, if we had fajitas, the kids would have ordinary wraps with sour cream and cheese if they wanted, while we would use Romaine lettuce leaves as our ‘wraps’ and stick to just salsa as a topping. For starches/carbohydrates, the kids would have pasta, rice, or potatoes, while we would have spaghetti squash, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, or none! I actually had to start making more acorn squash, as my oldest tried it and loved it. The kids were pretty game to try most things, although there was some complaining about why I didn’t make certain things (like pizza) any more  I also loved that we ended up eating way more vegetables than usual – and we all got used to eating raw veggies without dip.

That being said, if you do follow this program, be prepared to spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen! Although a lot of the meals weren’t complicated, they often did take more preparation time because you can’t use a lot of convenience items (cream of chicken soup, anyone?). With all of the veggies involved, there is also a lot of cleaning and chopping to do. However, if you can plan and cook ahead, it makes sticking to the plan, especially for lunches, a lot easier. So if I had some extra time (ha!), I would make some extra soup or some salmon cakes so that my husband and I had something easy to grab for lunch. It also made it easier if I had to be at someone else’s place for lunch – I would just bring my own rather than worrying about finding something there that worked (and being a pain in the neck for the host!). I even made several batches of “breakfast sandwich” patties – made of ground pork and spices. These were great for breakfast with a boiled egg and some avocado.

Results of the Whole30

I have been asked a lot about how I felt while on the program – did I feel better? Worse? More energy? Less? Well, as I mentioned, I felt pretty terrible at first. Some might refer to that as a “carb-withdrawal” or detoxing – which may be the case, as I was coming off of a pretty lousy way of eating. After a week or so, I did start to feel pretty good. I wouldn’t say that I felt completely different, or suddenly had more energy, though. I will say that it felt good to figure out that it was possible to go without all of the junk food I had been consuming – for me it was so much easier to not be able to have any rather than to try just eat less of something. I didn’t have many social events during most of the month, which definitely made it easier. When we had some events near the end of the month, I was a lot more used to this style of eating, and so it wasn’t too hard to make it work. Plus, if everyone around you knows that you are on this program (hello Facebook!) you feel a lot more accountable!

My stomach aches did clear up, aside from the time I bought a new kind of dried fruit than ended up not agreeing with anyone’s stomachs! I did catch a bad cold in the middle of everything, which made me realize just how hard it is to find throat lozenges without sugar/sweeteners in them. My energy level did not really improve, and when I attempted a run later in the month, I felt like I was just dragging along (“That’s because you need carbs,” a friend helpfully pointed out). I did finally get a chance to check out a new organic grocery store, Nature’s Fare, in Langley, where I was able to find quite a few items that I had only seen online (like coconut aminos to replace soy sauce). I still had to really carefully check (and reject!) most items to see if they were Whole30 compliant. My new addiction (and, if I’m honest, semi-cheat) has become Larabars, a fruit and nut energy bar. Although several varieties were okay for Whole30 ingredients, I think they most likely still rated as a ‘paleofied’ junk food, with a fair amount of fat, calories and carbs. But handy, especially if you were stuck…that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

So if you’d like to try this for yourself, I encourage you to do so! Many people have said to me, “I could never do that!” but I think that most people can. That being said, it does help to have a fellow group of sufferers, I mean supporters, to share ideas with and to talk you down off of that sugar ledge. As I mentioned, I did join a forum on the Whole9 site, but after checking it out a little, I left it alone. The group was way too large, and it involved a lot of bickering about what was or was not allowed. There were a lot of very hard-core people on there who felt that if you had so much as licked a bit of jam off of your finger (as you made a sandwich for your child, for example) you had failed and so had to start the program all over. Yes, really!

You can expect to lose some weight during the month – although you eat a lot of meat and healthy fats, you are also not eating any processed foods, sugar, or snacks. If you are someone who does not actually want to lose weight during the 30 days, you might have to be more careful about making sure that you are getting enough calories. If nothing else, this program will really get you thinking and evaluating what you eat, why you eat, and how you eat! It is also helpful for if you are trying to pinpoint some food sensitivities – It Starts With Food recommends slowly re-introducing food categories (i.e. dairy) after the 30 days in order to see how your body reacts.

Whole30 Follow-up

So what happens after you complete the Whole30? Well, the authors of the book recommend maintaining the eating plan while you re-introduce one food group at a time. So, for example, keep everything the same but add in some dairy and see how you feel. Then, take dairy out again, and try add in wheat/grains and see how you feel. I decided to do this with dairy as I was wondering if that was the source of my stomachaches. So, as much as I wanted to be ‘done’ at that point, I just added in some dairy to begin with. I felt okay, until I ate some flavored yogurt – after which I had a significant amount of stomach pain! But that seemed to be the only dairy product that really bothered me. I would love to say that I was disciplined enough to try this with wheat (gluten)…but two big birthday celebrations happened right at the time and I *might* have gone a little crazy (one was my own birthday, so I had very little resistance!). 

It was very strange to go back to ‘regular’ eating after doing this plan for 30 days. It felt like cheating to be able to eat anything I wanted – I actually felt like I didn’t really know what to eat, and so still stuck mainly to the same plan, especially with breakfast. Dinners are also largely the same, as my husband prefers to eat gluten-free if possible. However, I slowly began to go back to my old way of eating – with some modifications. For example, I now make sure to actually eat a substantial breakfast that includes a lot of protein, as opposed to grabbing something quickly as I leave the house, or just having a latte if I am staying at home. Lunch goes well if I have taken the time to make some lunch items ahead of time, such as soup or salmon cakes. However, I am still not doing too well on the lunch front, and often just kind of graze throughout that time of day. I find that there are a lot of things like BBQ’s this time of year, too, and it is usually just easier to eat what is there than to have to plan ahead all of the time. 

One of the main reasons I wanted to try this plan was to see if I could gain some control over my cravings for sugar and sweets. I don’t feel like I have been very successful in this regard – as I mentioned, I would still turn to things like dried fruit if I was craving something sweet, which didn’t really help. With regard to things like cookies/snacks, it was much easier to have none than to try and limit what I consume – and I am definitely losing on this front! I did a little more reading on some of the Whole30 forums, and many people suggested that if your cravings had not decreased by the end of the 30 days, you most likely need to do a longer program, such as a Whole45 or a Whole60. I think there’s merit in that, and it is something I will consider the next time I try this.

Thanks for reading along about our food ‘adventure’ – feel free to ask me any other questions you might have about the Whole30. And let me know if you decide to try it yourself! 

 

May 23, 2013 - 6:47 pm

Hannah - I am Jacoba’s sister and I also did the Whole 30 but with somewhat different results. I ended up losing 10 pounds over the month and did feel like I got control over my sugar habits. Completely cutting out sugar greatly reduced my desire for it and I found myself easily saying no to things I usually adore. When I really wanted something sweet a mango popsicle (pureed mango only) hit the spot.

May 23, 2013 - 7:08 pm

Karrie - Thanks for sharing Jacoba (and Hannah). I keep putting this program off and going on with eating my chocolate – now the willpower needs to kick in! Congrats on making it!

May 23, 2013 - 9:15 pm

Leanne - wow, kudos to you (enjoyed your sarcasm throughout)…not too many people can stick it out…I hear you on the breakfast lunch thing..although I always ate breakfast, I realized it often isn’t enough (small bowl of oatmeal) as well as lunch. I have found eating a big breakfast and eating every two hours has curbed my after dinner cravings, but don’t think I have the will power to do this diet…way to go Hanna too!

May 23, 2013 - 11:01 pm

Nicole - Way to go Jacoba and Hannah! That’s superb! Kudos to you both for sticking it through for 30 days. I wish I could do something like this, but I know based on my life – style of work, teaching and shuttling kids :-( I would virtually fail in the first week. But I’m sure that everyone can learn some great tips for clean eating generally. Thanks for the good read. You write well Jacoba! Do you have your own blog? Would love to read it if you do!

Easy Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted but I am trying to not feel guilty over neglecting this space while life has been busy. I am also coming out to the other side from some frustrating injuries…I will just say that injuries suck and I really let them affect my head-space in a negative way. After lots of stretching, icing, physio, chiro, working with my trainer (and maybe a few tears!), I am finally starting to feel back on track and hope to start posting more regularly again!:)

This was a super quick and healthy recipe I pulled together last week when it was warm outside and feeling a lot like summer! It was the perfect light lunch for a warm day, although normally it would be considered an appetizer. I absolutely love Vietnamese food, but I loved it even more that I saved myself some money by making this at home instead of eating out! Next to my beloved green papaya salad, this is one of the healthiest items on the menu. It’s easily adaptable based on the vegetables and meat (a great way to use some leftover chicken or turkey) you have in the house, so don’t feel that you are restricted to the ones mentioned in the recipe. And the best part is truly the sauce (which is also very much ‘to taste’…I add a little of this and a little of that until it tastes just right!). I made extra, and the next day I thinned it out with some rice wine vinegar and served over a salad with similar ingredients (see image #2). It was so delicious! This definitely qualifies as a two-for-one meal, especially if you cut extra veggies for your salad when you are preparing them for your rolls.

** Let me know what you think of the recipe format I used below! Do you like the option to print your recipe? Any comments or feedback appreciated. Thank you!

Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce
A light and fresh make at home Vietnamese summer roll with a delicious peanut sauce
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Summer Rolls
4 rice paper wrappers
12 cooked prawns, or cooked chicken/turkey/pork
1 julienned or shredded carrot
1/3 julienned cucumber
1/2 julienned red or yellow pepper
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
handful of tender greens (lettuce, spinach, pea shoots, etc)
optional: mint, thai basil or cilantro
Peanut Sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp sweet Thai chili sauce
1-2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce (I use Bragg's no sodium)
a few drops of sesame oil (optional)
Instructions
1. Prep all vegetables.
2. Dip rice paper wrappers, one at a time, into some lukewarm water until soft (approximately 1 minute)
3. Shake excess water off and lay your wrapper on a plate or cutting board.
4. Fill wrapper with veggies and prawns or meat.
5. Wrap tightly like a tortilla.
6. Mix all the remaining ingredients together for the sauce.
7. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
- For the rolls, feel free to adjust based on vegetables you have in the house...crunchy is nice. Most restaurants also use rice noodles, but I prefer a lower carb version.
-The peanut sauce is very much a personal preference when it comes to the amounts of ingredients to use. Adjust to taste! This will make extra sauce, which can be thinned with some rice wine vinegar for a great vinaigrette for salad.
Kale and Dumbells http://www.kaleanddumbbells.com/

What is healthy eating?

This is a very good question! We are bombarded with so much information, that it can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out what is good to eat and what isn’t. For many years we’ve been told such a variety of different things: “Fat is bad for you!”, “Dairy is bad for you!”, “Eggs are bad for you!”, “Carbs are bad for you!”. And the list goes on. Sometimes it’s hard to sort out the truth from the marketing campaigns (and there have been many false marketing claims…remember Nutella’s healthy breakfast campaign? Or watch kid’s TV to see how they try sell sugary cereal!).

The first thing I’m going to say is: there’s no one right answer. However, I truly believe that eating as clean as possible is the best route to go. In other words…Eat real food! There has been such a shift in how and what people eat (particularly over the last 50 years or so), with so much of the North American diet relying on packaged food instead of real food. Packaged and processed foods are full of food coloring, preservatives and chemicals and are far from the food our bodies were created to eat. My goal is to try reduce my family’s intake of these ‘foods’ as much as possible, and I want to encourage my readers in this area as well.

The definition of healthy is going to be different for many people. Some people might choose a Paleo diet , the raw food diet, gluten free diet, a vegetarian diet, or a diet based on food sensitivities (and I could go on, there are so many different ‘diets’ out there!). There are a lot of variations to healthy eating based on your lifestyle and personal food preferences. However, I am a little suspect of crash diets, or eating plans that cut out entire food categories (not based on food allergies and sensitivities of course) or super low calorie diets (ie under 1,000 calories/day)…I don’t think these are necessarily sustainable eating or weight loss plans. Since the beginning of my weight loss journey, I have believed that in order to have sustainable long-term weight loss I needed to make a lifestyle change that involved clean eating in addition to exercise.

I think an important thing to remember, is that everyone is different. What works for me, may not work for you. I aim to eat a higher protein/lower carb diet, with a focus on clean eating and less processed food. My body seems to respond best to eating this way in terms of weight loss, and I feel better overall when I eat clean. Carbs tend to make me feel bloated, and it’s not unusual for my scale to go up a few pounds if I eat out and/or have a few drinks…mostly due to water retention, but also the impact of alcohol on my digestive system. It’s a good reminder to me when I do make these choices, that there is a negative impact on my body.

I would highly recommend working to see what foods work and don’t work for you. Tweak what you’re eating (and for more than a few days…it can take weeks or even months for your body to adjust and recover) and see if you notice a difference.

Image from www.targetyouth.ca

Finding what works best for you is key. If you are just starting to look at how you can improve your diet and/or lose weight, I would encourage a focus on clean and healthy eating rather than just weight loss alone. With a combination of the two, I can almost guarantee you will see some positive changes as you remove these processed foods from your diet and replace them with wholesome healthy foods.

Here are some of the basic truths about healthy eating that I believe in:

1. Water is the best drink for you. Soft drinks and juice should be limited or avoided. Coffee and tea are ok in moderation and alcohol occasionally (afterall, red wine is good for your heart, right?):)

2. Avoid as much processed and pre-packaged foods as possible.

3. Eat your veggies. Lots of them! My motto is: “When in doubt, add veggies!”

4. Stick to whole grain products, and avoid ‘white’ foods that contain white flour and white sugar.

5. Fruit is good for you, but remember that it can contain a lot of sugar. With just 2-3 servings per day you will hit your daily sugar intake. Low sugar options (Berries, grapefruit, etc) are great choices.

6. Choose proteins that are lean (or lean cuts) such as turkey, chicken, lean beef, pork, eggs and fish.

7. Healthy fats are important! Coconut oil, avocado, nuts and nut butters are good for you.

8. Read your labels…if you can’t pronounce something or don’t know what it is, chances are it probably not be good for you.

9. Natural sources of fiber are essential!

 

What are your healthy eating truths? What have you found that works best for you?

April 22, 2013 - 10:21 pm

Nicole - Hey Rachel – I totally concur with you on this one. In the past I had tried many different diets to lose weight ….and it would help – but only temporarily — they were never sustainable, and ultimately, the weight would come back on. In the last 9 months, my weight loss has come as a side benefit to getting healthy by eating healthier. I still eat everything – but try to limit certain carbs…..and go heavier on veggies than I ever used to. And when it comes to snack foods, I’m just choosing healthier. I still need my salty/crunchy foods ….so choosing “organic popcorn” for instance, or “veggie sticks (chips)”, or even organic tortilla chips, gives me the satisfaction without the added crap that other snack foods have in them. I also find that while embarking on eating more real food with the kids, I’ve had to start baking more — home-made granola bars, “power balls”, etc ….and find that I can maintain my weight even while enjoying something like that. THIS is more sustainable in the long run — and like you, I definitely feel better!!
(still gotta have my Coke Zero though ….maybe one day I’ll be able to give that up!)