May 042015
 

In Mid-April, I began the #ProteinChallenge, a 30 Day guided challenge that aims to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.  Some of the more remarkable benefits of eating protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless eating. Also, meals with protein helps to build muscle and reduce body fat.  You can read more about the challenge and our participation in this #ProteinPartner collaboration from my RD partner, Melissa Joy Dobbins here: Join Us on the 30 Day Protein Challenge

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Monday April 27 – Sunday May 3

This Week I Learned… a few different things, all thanks to it being a week of CELEBRATION!  Tuesday was my birthday [Bar-thday Trivia trip included!], followed by a 5-day vacation from the office; the best gift I could have given myself! 

Birthday Collage
The whole week/long weekend was filled with lots of celebratory eats [and drinks!] and I decided going in that I was going to aim for my protein goals according to the challenge schedule each day, but I wasn’t going to stress over any specific meals that I might not have control over.  Celebrating #THS32 > worrying about any one plate of food.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily hitting my protein goals came to me, especially on meals I was dining out.  I am a sandwich lover and ate my fair share of them over the past week, especially when out for lunches and dinners with friends. 

Favorite Meal of the Week: Here’s a tip for me fellow free-food lovers – if you sign up for the Moe’s Southwest Grill E-World, you’ll get a coupon for a free entrée with the purchase of any size soft drink for the days surrounding your birthday.  I love Moe’s for a lot of reasons and the coupons that come to my inbox throughout the year is one of them.

moes

Another reason I love Moe’s is the fillings/topping choices.  This time around I got a steak burrito with grilled mushrooms, peppers and onions, pinto beans, corn salsa, guac, and chipotle sauce on a whole grain tortilla and it was FANTASTIC.  And also giant size so I had plenty of food for leftovers. 

One last note – the current seasonal salsa flavor at Moe’s is Pineapple Cucumber and it is RIDICULOUSLY delicious. I want to sneak in a ball jar and fill it before they swap flavors. [Or you know… just make my own version at home like a normal human.]

Snacking Notes: I have mentioned it before, but I definitely see a difference in my hunger levels and a lack of mindless-afternoon snacking on days where I eat 25-30 grams of protein at both breakfast and lunch.  And I like that difference!  I have found myself gravitating towards protein heavy meals even on days that are scheduled as “rest” on the calendar because of it.

In terms of celebration snacks, I did treat myself to a fancy coffee at The Happy Cappuccino while I was out running errands one early morning last week – the April flavor special, the Samoa, which happens to be my favorite girl scout cookie.  Fancy, over-sugared coffee beverages are one of life’s sweetest, simplest pleasures in my mind.

happycapp

I also took advantage of the luxury of being on vacation and spent 15 full minutes just sitting in the window of the coffee shop, listening to the music that was playing [something instrumental and lightly jazzy], enjoying the people watching, and not reading, writing, making, or taking.  It was glorious and a reward I plan to treat myself to in the coming months after completing personal goals, for certain. I

Also, on a protein note – I’m estimating this large iced whole milk latte had between 12-16 grams of protein. BOOM!

#ProteinChallenge Reflections: I’m getting more and more comfortable being able to estimate where my meals are going to be protein wise before I track them, which is great for the goal of understanding protein in a “make a lifestyle change” type of way.  Being out and about a lot this week wasn’t all that scary because I was familiar with the ingredients I was eating and could estimate the protein content based on my previous tracking and journaling experience.  

ICYMI: Some protein recipes and resources from around the web I came across this week:

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  Though this post is NOT directly sponsored by The Beef Checkoff, my participation in the Protein Challenge does full under my Bureau membership activities, which is a paid position.

Apr 272015
 

In Mid-April, I began the #ProteinChallenge, a 30 Day guided challenge that aims to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.  Some of the more remarkable benefits of eating protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless eating. Also, meals with protein helps to build muscle and reduce body fat.  You can read more about the challenge and our participation in this #ProteinPartner collaboration from my RD partner, Melissa Joy Dobbins here: Join Us on the 30 Day Protein Challenge

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Monday April 20 – Sunday April 26

This Week I Learned… a little planning goes a long way.  Last weekend, I looked at the Protein Challenge calendar as I was meal planning and spent time choosing lunches and planning dinners that were sure to meet the 25-30 grams of protein each meal for the days that I was looking to “protein shift” to meeting 25-30 grams for two of my daily meals according to the challenge schedule. 

“Protein shifts” were on the schedule for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  On Sunday and Tuesday evenings, I spent 5 minutes writing out my planned eats for the next day while tallying up my projected protein intake.  Already knowing my meals were hitting the protein goals, I had no problem sticking to my menu for the day.  Friday I ate repeat meals from earlier in the week, so I knew my choices were hitting the protein totals needed in the shift.

foodjournal

Favorite Meal of the Week: I ended up over achieving and hitting my protein shift for all my lunches last week because I food prepped Mexican Quinoa Bowls [errrr…jars] for five lunches (30 grams) and had pizza for two (26 grams.) 

The Mexican Quinoa bowls were my FAVORITE meal of the week.  I made a batch of quinoa and divided it into five ball jars, then added diced tomatoes, black refried beans, sautéed peppers and onions, sweet corn, and 1.5 ounces of leftover pork tenderloin.  So tasty! 

Snacking Notes: I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my hunger levels in-between meals on days where I managing to spread my protein intake in more evenly earlier throughout the day.  As a notorious day long office snacker this is a bit new to me.  I kept a lot of snacks on hand last week, but didn’t find myself reaching for them on days when my breakfasts and lunches both were above 20 grams of protein for the day.

preplanned

#ProteinChallenge Reflections: It’s oh-so-clear to me that planning ahead so much this past week was a HUGE help to hitting my protein goals, and therefore keeping my hunger at bay.  The week ahead is a bit more crazy for me; I don’t have a whole lot of “regularly scheduled” days in week 3 thanks to some PTO days and celebratory events eating out and away from home. I have a feeling keeping protein heavy snacks on-hand to pair with any possible light-protein meals will be key as I move through the coming week.

ICYMI: Sound Bites Podcast – Episode 005: with Protein Partner Heather Shugarman – Melissa has released the first of three podcast episodes we’re sharing through our #ProteinPartners experience!  In this episode we’re conversing about how starting the challenge went for each of us, along with discussing the challenges and solutions we each faced when it came to breakfast while starting the #ProteinChallenge.

Along the way we talk a bit about mindful eating, the desire for brownies at breakfast, what we’re loving most about the challenge. Please give it a listen and let us know what you think! 

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Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  Though this post is NOT directly sponsored by The Beef Checkoff, my participation in the Protein Challenge does full under my Bureau membership activities, which is a paid position.

Apr 202015
 

In Mid-April, I began the #ProteinChallenge, a 30 Day guided challenge that aims to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.  Some of the more remarkable benefits of eating protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless eating. Also, meals with protein helps to build muscle and reduce body fat.  You can read more about the challenge and our participation in this #ProteinPartner collaboration from my RD partner, Melissa Joy Dobbins here: Join Us on the 30 Day Protein Challenge

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Monday April 13 – Sunday April 19

This Week I Learned… It doesn’t matter how many times I start and stop food journaling/tracking, whenever I go back to it I always learn SOMETHING.  This time around there were a few things I noticed on day 6 of the challenge when reflecting on the first 5 days of journaling.

Off the bat I was surprised at how most of my breakfasts were really close to my goal of 23-30 grams of protein without trying.  I found that most of my morning meals hit at about 18-25.

Reflection on my journaling experience also helped me realize that I had fallen into the eating for the sake of eating habit.  Where did my intuitive eating awareness go?  I’m thankful for this wake up call pointing me back in the right direction of paying attention to the reasons I am eating what, and how much, of what I’m eating.

I was also reminded of my natural habit of healthy choice making becoming easier and more frequent whenever I’m focusing on any one specific area of my diet [upping my greens, leveling sodium, or in this case, counting my protein intake.]  It also helps that I’m in a healthy choice making challenge with some good friends and giving myself POOOOOOOOOOOINTS! every day for certain healthy decisions I make while also trying to log #100MilesbySummer along with many of friends who love TIU so much that they’ve convinced me to play run along.

proteinchallenge

Favorite Meal of the Week: I’m going with breakfast as a whole.  I recently spent one day of a 3-day weekend doing food prep, specifically filling the freezer with microwavable breakfasts.  I was pleasantly surprised when I first started adding the breakfasts I made into my food journal and saw that I wasn’t far off from my protein goal for the meal.

I made four different freezer breakfasts and I’m loving them all:

Omelet and Potato Breakfast Bites from Ella Claire Inspired
18-23 grams of protein, 320-390 calories for 2 bites, depending on mix-in combos
I used the base of this recipe and cleaned out the freezer [shredded hash browns and sweet potato tots,] the crisper drawer [broccoli, peppers, and spinach,] and the deli drawer/leftover spot [shredded cheese, feta, leftover sausage and shredded beef] to create a bunch of different muffin tin combos. I love how you can totally go wild with the mix ins here to bring variety in.

Baked Breakfast Taquitos for the Freezer from Healthy Delicious
10 grams of protein, 230 calories for 2 taquitos // served with 6oz Greek yogurt = 24 grams of protein, 380 calories
Unique and absolutely delicious, I’ve been eating these at times outside of breakfast, too.  It’s really nice to not have every breakfast be the exact same as the day before and these flavors help mix up the week for sure. SO GOOD.

Loaded Breakfast Biscuits from Richly Rooted
12 grams of protein, 320 calories for 1/8th of recipe // served with 5.3 oz non-fat Greek yogurt = 22 grams of protein, 420 calories 
These would be easily customizable, but I stuck with the recipe and am loving eating a couple of these smeared with fruit preserves or dipped in barbecue sauce [because, honestly, I dip EVERYTHING in barbecue sauce.]

Deli Meat Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches – see my recipe below!
23 – 26 grams of protein, 304-310 calories  each sandwich
These are so easy and would be a great way to use leftover roast or ham in the future, too.  Our local market has great deli counter sales every week so I’ll likely rotate the kind of meats I use based on the sales paper for sure.

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Snacking Notes: Thanks to a freebie from the Blue Diamond Tastemakers Program, I have fallen obsessed with these Honey Dijon BOLD almonds.  BOLD is right, they are super flavorful and 1 ounce of almonds [about 28 almonds] brings in 6 grams of protein.  I can see myself reaching for some almonds to add on to my lunches or breakfasts  when they fall a little short of my goal 25 – 30 grams.

Other between meal snacks include pieces of fruit [I’ve been big on oranges and pears lately!] and crackers with sliced cheese [I’m digging this Farmhouse Reserve and White Oak cheddar blocks from Cabot.]  Overall though I’ve noticed I’m not reaching for snacks as often because I’m paying closer attention to what I’m eating and how hungry I am when I’m reaching for food.

#ProteinChallenge Reflections: One of my favorite things about this challenge is that it is realistic for a busy lifestyle.  You don’t jump in on day one and expect to devote 100% of your priority and focus to a new way of living.  The focus is really on making a lifestyle change by shifting the protein you are eating over the course of the challenge.  Take a look at the 30-Day #ProteinChallenge calendar to see what I mean.  You’ll see lots of days of “eating as you normally would” or “rest days” which help from challenge-burnout and creating effective, lasting change.

And now – BREAKFAST!

DIY Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches

DIY Frozen On-the-Go Breakfast Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 package Arnold’s 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins
  • 8 Eggs
  • 6 ounces deli meat of choice [I used half Boar’s Head Buffalo Chicken and half Gabriel’s store-made Roast Beef]
  • 8 slices cheese of choice [look for a cheese that has 5-8 grams of protein a slice]

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a large muffin tin with nonstick spray in eight cups.
  • Add one egg to each copy, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on your egg preference.
  • Meanwhile, prepare either 8 small freezer bags or eight squares of both parchment and aluminum foil, placing an Arnold’s Thin on each.
  • Add 3/4 oz of deli meat on each sandwich, half using buffalo chicken and half using roast beef.
  • Add a slice of cheese to each sandwich.
  • When eggs are done in the oven, remove and place muffin tin on cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool for several minutes before spooning one egg onto each sandwich.
  • Wrap and stack in freezer.
  • When ready to eat, remove from freezer, wrap in paper towel and microwave for 90 seconds.
    Cooking time may vary in your microwave.

Nutritional Info

  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 304.8
  • Total Fat: 14.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 224.3 mg
  • Sodium: 402.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 23.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
  • Protein: 24.6 g

View full nutritional breakdown of DIY Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches calories by ingredient

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  Though this post is NOT directly sponsored by The Beef Checkoff, my participation in the Protein Challenge does full under my Bureau membership activities, which is a paid position.