#Mealprepmondays: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

#Mealprepmondays: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Make life a little easier for yourself with some #mealprep

img_20170130_174117_503To stay on top of my no sugar game, I need to be more diligent in my planning and meal preppin’. Every Monday my Mom and I get together and make meals for the week. I’ve been noticing that my meal prep photos get the most social media love, so I figured I would explain my process a bit in hopes to inspire you to do a little (or a lot) of prep at home.

I always see those people that make themselves a week worth of chicken and broccoli, salmon and broccoli, broccoli and broccoli – kudos to them! However, I would go crazy eating the same thing nearly every day for a week. If you hadn’t noticed already, I love food. I love trying new things and experimenting with recipes. So my meal prep might be a little more involved than others, but I think the little extra planning involved is worth it, so I’m not dreading my meals or choking down dry chicken breast and broccoli every night (sorry broccoli, I have nothing against you).

Meal Preppin’

Throughout the week I pick up inspiration from my favourite foodies on Instagram and take mental notes and screenshots of recipes I want to try. By the weekend I make a quick list of what I want to eat that week, typically with one new recipe to try out or a favourite20170130_162634 meal we haven’t had in a while. This week I went for an old favourite: unstuffed cabbage rolls. I don’t really have the patience to make cabbage rolls, so this one is more of a – throw it all in the pot and enjoy the magic that comes out at the end – kind of recipe.

This week we also made a mixed veggie stir fry, with cauliflower rice for me and quinoa for my parents. I’ve been adding more spices as the stir fry meat cooks or adding coconut oil to the rice. It gives enough flavour that I don’t have to add any sauces, most of which are full of sugar anyways! We also did a paleo sloppy joe mix with turkey and sweet potatoes; kale, roasted beets and broccoli sprout salad; and I made my mom and brother some protein granola bars. We always portion out the meals so we can quickly grab suppers and lunches throughout the week!

Super Simple Recipe

I’ve had a few people ask me for the unstuffed cabbage roll recipe. If you google it you can find tons of different recipes with slight variations, some a little more stew-like and some a little thicker. This dish is great because you can go super simple or add in spices and herbs to suit your taste buds.20170201_192048

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of tomato sauce 8oz (be sure to double check the ingredients for sugar)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes 16 oz
  • ½ – 1 whole cabbage depending on size
    Optional Ingredients
  • Bay leaf
  • Wakame (it’s seaweed, you don’t taste it, but it adds a healthy burst of awesomeness to any soup)
  • Mushrooms
  • Any other spices you like – I’m not the boss

Cook the beef in a large pot over medium heat along with the onion and garlic. Chop up your cabbage and throw it in along with the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and any spices/extras you want to add. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. Simple stuff.

I like to serve it on a bed of rice or cauliflower rice. This week I cooked up some cauliflower rice (which is actually just shredded cauliflower) in a frying pan with a lot of coconut oil, turmeric, and black ground pepper. The oil and pepper help our bodies use the turmeric to its full anti-inflammatory potential, and it tastes super yummy.

This is such a warm and filling meal, perfect for these cold winter days!

Taking these few hours a week to prepare some meals helps me to hold it together during the week. I’m not even cooking a whole weeks worth of meals. Just a few to get me through those busy nights. If you can’t spare a few hours in one day, you can always pick out a few things to prepare the night before: c20170130_163427hop up extra veggies to keep in the fridge; roast up a big batch of potatoes and veggies;
make the sauce for your pasta the night before. Every little bit helps. Even if your meal prep is just making lunch for work the next day, you are ahead of the game! Be sure to pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your healthy lunch instead of scrambling to beat the line-ups at the closest fast food joint!

Stay awesome friends!

Sugar-free Halloween!

Sugar-free Halloween!

Spooky pumpkins

Happy Halloween to those of you that take part in Halloween and Happy Monday to those of you that don’t!

There is nothing spookier than spending Halloween without my good ol’ pal sugar. I seriously feel like I am being haunted by sugar! Every store I go into has a bucket of free candy by the till – including the city building when I paid my taxes, grocery stores are full of candy displays, even on the radio – hosts have been discussing the best candy for the past two weeks, this morning on my way home from the gym, the radio hosts were eating candy while doing the morning show. Maybe it’s a good thing listening to people eat grosses me out, although I did still feel that little pinch of sadness that comes when I remember I’m not eating sugar.

Today I want to share with you today a little recipe for sugar free “turtles” that are helping me through this day! As of today I have been  sugar free for two months and although there have been some really difficult moments, overall it’s going quite well! I’ve managed to get through camping, thanksgiving, and my birthday without sugar – but come on – Halloween? It’s practically a day made for sugar!

A few tactics that have been helping me forget about the white beast:

Not having it in the house.

We are actually not handing out candy this year, partially because I don’t want a box of the most tempting chocolates ever laying around the house, but also because I think kids will be getting enough sweet treats tonight. Instead we are giving out play dough! We were able to find a pack of mini play dough at costco which was similar in price to all the candy treats. Last year we handed out chocolates and play dough and the kids were just as happy, so hopefully this year the play dough alone goes over well!

Just say no.20161030_190617

My husband and I opted to have a quiet night in instead of partaking in the costume parties this weekend. I had a busy week leading up to the weekend, so it was a very welcome, relaxing weekend of scary movies, carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds! I’m not saying to give up sugar you have to forgo fun social events, but at this particular time – for me – it felt like the right thing to do. I get the most cravings when I am stressed and I often have a hard time saying no to anyone or anything, so I’ve been practicing my no’s and letting myself enjoy a bit of downtime. This is helping to lower my stress as well as avoiding sugary drinks and party treats!

Making my own treats!

I want to share this little recipe with you, it’s super yummy and will help me to feel not so left out when my hubby indulges a little tonight on his Halloween goodies. You may have seen my Instagram post recently of my snack of dates and pecans. This is taking it one step up and drizzling it with chocolate!20161031_103815

You’ll need:
6 Cupcake liners
6 Medjool dates
12-18 Pecan halves
3-4 Tablespoons of coconut oil
1 Tablespoon of vanilla
Raw cocao powder
Sprinkle of salt

To make:
Cut the dates in half and remove the pits. Place them sticky side up in the cupcake liners, one date per liner. Put two or three pecan halves on top of the dates.

To prepare the chocolate, scoop the coconut into a saucepan on medium-low heat and add in the vanilla. Stir until the oil has melted completely and is just liquid. The amount of cocao you use is up to you, start with a tablespoon of and stir in until smooth. You can taste test here and add until it suits your taste buds. Cocao has a very strong taste, since I love it, I put in a little more than you might if you are new to it. Note: if you add too much cocao, just add in a little more oil to dilute.

Once you have found a happy balance for your chocolate sauce and it is smooth, pour the sauce over the dates and pecans. Sprinkle with a touch of salt on each one as you go. Pop them in the freezer until they have firmed up and they are good to go!

I recommend keeping them in the freezer as the chocolate will tend to want to go back to a more liquid state if left out too long at room temperature (depending of course on how cold you keep your house).

These bad boys are a perfect combination of crunchy, chewy, chocolatey and salty. They are doing a great job of keeping me distracted from the ghost of Halloween sugar!

Yours in health,
Susan

I feel like I deserve a trophy for saying no to Zazubean’s new holiday flavours

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Week One (and a bit)

Week one (and a bit).

Day one was awful to be honest. I was so panicked about preparing foods for a long weekend of camping, that I totally blanked on day one and forgot to even pack a lunch. I spent so long at work trying to decide what I could buy that was compliant, that before I knew it, my stomach was growling and getting to that hangry stage that no person should ever get to. I ran out and got a wrap that was not sugar free. Normally I would get completely hung up on a stupid mistake like that,  but I need to take it one meal at a time, or else this will be a verrrry looong year! I’m being completely honest with you because nobody is perfect!  That night my husband and I made up some sugar free meatballs, pasta sauce and spaghetti squash and I moved on.

In order to prepare for camping, I wrote out a list of meals for the weekend and my husband (I should mention that although my husband is being super supportive, he is still eating sugar) and I got to work on pre-making meals so I had no reason to start reaching for hotdogs and marshmallows. After packing up all the food and labelling each container instead of feeling relieved and accomplished, I felt like a complete crazy person! What have I become? is this really weird? do I have that virus from cats that makes people do crazy things? By 10:30 the night before we left, I just had to laugh at myself as I packaged up my kale chips (why is there sugar in so many store-brand chips?!). I think I’ve gone full crunch.

The weekend went well! We definitely had enough food and aside from getting a little sugar sprinkled on me by some friends, they were really supportive and I think I did a pretty good job avoiding it. Full disclosure: I was still having some drinks, but I stuck to gin and water with lemons and limes.

Being prepared is really going a long way. It is a little tedious, but it’s worth it and knowing exactly what we need at the market and grocery store makes it a lot faster to just run in and out.

As far as any detox symptoms, I have been slightly moodier and by slightly I mean very moody. I have also been a little more tired during the day, especially at work. I think being outside in nature during the whole first weekend really helped to get my mind off of things and helped reduce the headache-style sugar withdrawal symptoms. There have been a few times this week where I thought I should delete everyone on my Instagram that was posting pictures of food, and a very close moment when I found some remnants of a Zazubean chocolate bar in with my snacks – but I stayed strong.

This Sunday was tough – normally on Sunday husband and I will eat a massive brunch and not really need to eat again till supper, but this week we ate a smaller breaky and I had no toast with mine. By the time we were out and about checking out the Halls Creek Art Festival, my stomach was growling and I was surrounded by booths selling and giving away candy. I found the Habitual Chocolate booth and tried some of their 100% sugar free chocolate, but it wasn’t enough to fill me up. It took all my will to not pick a fight with my husband who bought himself an amazing looking brownie. We raced home and I whipped myself up a delicious smoothie – crisis averted! I think I’ll have to keep a container of trail mix in my purse from now on.

I haven’t been bloated since starting…err finishing (?) with sugar and that to me is totally worth it. I’m down about 5 pounds already as well, which is great!

These first few weeks I am going easy on myself, but next week I’m going to commit to the 21 Day Sugar Detox which is a little more restrictive in terms of fruits and starchy vegetables. I think it will be helpful to do a complete reset and retrain my palate.

Yours in sugar-freeness,
Susan

My impossible challenge – No sugar for a year!

It has been 9 days since I’ve had sugar. September 1st has been described as the other New Year’s or even the real  New Year’s in terms of setting new goals and getting back on track after a summer of BBQs, camping trips, patios, a few too many ice cream cones and sugary drinks. This year I have decided to embrace this fake new year – and commit to a year of no sugar!

I feel like I spent the whole winter getting in shape – and the whole summer getting out of shape. All of my summer activities were just barely enough to offset the aforementioned summer indulgences and I was getting stuck in a rut of bad habits and letting stress control my eating.

One night after watching the show Addicted to Pleasure on Netflix, it really hit me that I needed to make a change. The series discusses different sources of pleasure that people get addicted to, including Whisky, cocaine, tobacco, and sugar. The back story of all these addictions had eerie similarities. The host of the show is a diabetic and talks about how he knows that he shouldn’t be eating a lot of sugar, but still does. It makes you think to yourself, “Come on guy, get it together, can’t you see that sugar will kill you. It can’t be that hard to just not eat sugar?!”

…or can it? It was one of those ideas that stuck with me and I mulled over it for a few days before telling anyone. It was making me nervous and scared, but excited all at once, so I knew it was the right thing to do.

I have done the 21 Day Sugar Detox using Diane Sanfilippo’s guide and I felt amazing staying away from sugar, but it seemed to creep its way back into my life and once I started eating it again I became an uncontrollable sugar monster. I want to see what life will be like with no sugar for a year.

What better way to keep myself in check, then to share my no sugar year with the internet? I’m going to be posting updates, food pictures, progress reports and any awesome recipes I come across. So I invite you into my life for a year to see how this plays out and we can learn together about the effects sugar has on our bodies!

Yours in Awesomeness,
Susan