Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tatted Mom's Experiment in Healthy Eating

Like millions of others around the world, I made new year's resolutions. So far so good, but we're only 9 days into January. I'm still positive, not overwhelmed, and finding that the more that I do, the better I feel, so it motivates me to do more.

One of the biggest challenges for us, I felt, would be healthy eating. Hubby and I decided to eat vegetarian a few nights a week, and I had no idea how the kids would react to this. To be honest, I had no idea how Hubby and I would react to this. Don't get me wrong, I love a salad... smothered in ranch dressing with cheese, croutons and bacon... and beside a baked potato... which is beside a chicken breast covered in bacon and topped with cheese... not the poster meal for healthy eating. The words 'tofu' and 'quinoa' freaked me the hell out.

I asked a friend of mine who is a yoga and healthy eating genius (vegetarian, yes) for some help. She pointed me in the direction of a great website, Mind Body Green, and while the recipes she sent were vegan, I knew what substitutions to make if we didn't want to go full vegan for those few nights. I went to the store, stocked up on beans, lentils and tofu, and the food experimentation began.

So far, in the last 9 days of meals since the new year, we've eaten vegetarian 4 times. I seem to end up cooking a regular meal one day, vegetarian the next. The result? Brace yourselves...

My family LOVES it. I know, I'm shocked, too.

The first night we did a tofu stir fry, and with the exception of mushy tofu (I emailed my friend later to ask if I
had done something wrong in cooking it, and I had. I didn't squeeze out he excess watery stuff the tofu sits in prior to cooking it.), everyone ate it up without a negative word anywhere. The weekend came and we made black bean quesadillas, followed by eggplant parmesan 2 nights later.

Peppers, onions and tofu with Italian seasoning and garlic.
Tofu and peppers in sauce over rice.
Yesterday I took experimenting with vegetarian food to a whole new level. My family loves stuffed peppers, but the peppers out here right now are all gnarled and do not make good bowls for the rice/sauce/meat mixture. So, I replaced the meat with tofu (yes, squeezed out the excess watery stuff this time), sauteed that with fresh chopped onion and a bunch of sweet peppers, put it in spaghetti sauce, and we poured that over basmati rice topped with shredded cheese. The result was amazing! It tasted just like stuffed peppers, and no one could tell the difference between the tofu and the usual ground meat. Hubby even took some to work with him last night, and as he was heating it up, he said guys all around him asked what the amazing smell was. My kids ate the peppers without complaining this time, and I was ecstatic that my experiment hadn't gone horribly wrong.

I never in a million years would have dreamed that my family was so receptive to eating healthy and eating vegetarian. They have no problem trying whatever I cook up, and the word 'tofu' is no longer a four letter curse word.

What's my personal result been after the last 9 days? Honestly, I have no idea. I refuse to weigh myself. And lucky for me, this whole starting the healthy eating thing coincided perfectly with the bloating and weight gain associated with my time of the month, so I have no idea if I'm losing weight as my pants fit exactly the same. I know I feel amazing, eat less, and with the exception of an extreme donut craving on Saturday, I'm eating healthy overall throughout the day. If I want something sweet, I have an orange or an apple with peanut butter. If I want something salty, I air-pop us some popcorn or have pistachios. And even on the nights we do eat meat, I'm pairing it with fresh vegetables sauteed in olive oil or a nice garden salad with avocado and oil and vinegar (minus the cheese, bacon and ranch). Avocados have become my best friend, too. Their texture is that of cheese, so I add them to salads, wraps, pasta salads- anything I can. I've also limited myself to one cup of coffee a day... okay, some days it's 2- a cup in the morning and a cup of decaf at night. I'm trying to increase my water intake but I'm not a big drinker, and each morning when I wake up, and the last thing I consume each night is a glass of hot water with fresh lemon in it. It's supposed to detox the liver and help with food cravings. It's routine for me now, so I end up looking forward to it when I wake up and before bed at night. I make fresh juice when I remember, and snack on almonds, fruit and hummus with carrot sticks during the day.

Thinking about it now, if I haven't lost weight, it's time to see the doctor about a hormonal problem or something. I decided when I started this that I would only weigh myself every 2 weeks, so I still have until next week before I see how things are coming along. My mindset isn't as much on losing the weight as it is nourishing my body and eating healthy in general. I know that weight loss will be a result of that if I do it right.

I've been trying to come up with some easy-to-follow tips for y'all to help the conversion to healthy eating if you want to give it a try, but I just can't think of any generic steps I've taken. So, if you have questions, leave them below and I'll be sure to answer them!

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  1. Sounds like you're doing great! It totally helps when your family gets on the same program. I'll be starting a Gluten Free program in Feb. and when I announced it to my family all I got were big, speechless, round eyes staring back at me. Wish me luck! I do have a suggestion though- weigh yourself every day. It's a greaty motivator and once your body starts responding to the new eating program you will actually see a weight difference daily. Just be sure to do it at the same time every day. I find that the most accurate time is in the morning before I've eaten anything. If you are curious and weigh again near the end of the day- it is typical to see a 3 pound difference. Don't let that number on the scale factor. Good luck!

  2. I think no matter how many other resolutions you've made, just following this one is fantastic! Changing how you eat (personally and as a family) is a really big job. I love that you've chosen meals that you know your kids will have a chance of enjoying too, as this encourages them to be more receptive to new menu choices. And the fact you feel better about yourself is great positive feedback confirming the choices you've made. Have fun with your new cooking adventures!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Kristina :)

    P.S. I love the recipes from this site, and often go here for inspiration: