Tag Archives: healthy eating blog

Day 8: Food of the Week – Pico de Gallo

I’ve been making an effort to cook a lot more since I re-started this challenge. I would normally come home from work and just have a salad with some smoked salmon or something, but that’s not so appetizing when it’s dark and cold outside. (Well, cold-ish. Let’s be serious, we’re in California. It never gets full on cold. Like you Ireland. Teehee. Smug emigrant moment happening.) 

However, I typically don’t feel up to cooking a huge meal when I get home either. During the week I’m all about simple and easy but nutritious and wholefood-ious (totes a word). This is not an easy task! BUT there is one thing that has greatly contributed to the healthy eating cause and that is…drumroll…Pico de Gallo – my food of the week!

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Actually, full disclosure, it was Mags who pointed out the amazingness of this food

For those of you unfamiliar (and I would imagine that’s everyone in Ireland as I had never heard of this before coming over here) Pico de Gallo is a fresh salsa (or salad) made from tomato, onion, serranos, coriander leaves, salt and lime juice. Hailing from Mexico it’s got an amazing zing to it, and is perfect for jazzing up the most boring of dishes. (A lot of zing-ing and jazzing going on with this – I’m obviously excited about it.)

This is so easy to make (see recipe here), but if you’re really, really lazy like me, you can buy it ready-made from Wholefoods. This week I paired it with some frozen, white, wild-caught fish I bought from Trader Joes, roasting them in the oven with some cherry tomatoes and capers. I also steamed some green beans to accompany it. All in all 25 minutes to make. And I made a second one for the next night!

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Any other good uses of pico del gallo out there? I have a half a tub left!

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Today was a good day – but then again Mondays always are! I always feel like if I have too much fun on a Monday (both in terms of food-fun and fun-fun) it throws me off kilter for the week. I really tried to eat fewer calories today as my weekend was probably a little excessive.

Food and exercise

  • Hot water with lemon and fresh ginger
  • Breakfast: 1/2 cup of scrambled whole eggs, 1/2 scrambled egg whites, steamed kale
  • Lunch: Salad with veg, 1 cup of chicken, tbsp olive oil, tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Celery and carrot sticks with little container of baba ganoush
  • Exercise: 35 mins spin class
  • Dinner: See above
  • Snack: 6 almonds
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Day 6: The importance of a work out buddy

Workout buddies – there to share the pain of your hill run, high five you after a new deadlift PB, compete with you on squat reps and most importantly…save you from your hangover.

Sometimes some tough love is needed

Sometimes some tough love is needed

Yes, the inevitable happened. After the excesses of Day 5’s night out at Zeitgeist I woke up with a hangover. I felt cheated! Surely that’s not supposed to happen when you only drink vodka soda(s x 3 large ones). As soon as I woke up and felt my head pounding I groaned into my pillow. Today was Barry’s Bootcamp day – the first one after the holidays and guaranteed to be horrendous even for normal-headed folks.

After lying there for a while, trying to assess the damage, I sent a message to Mags, my workout buddy, who had also been out with me the night before.

‘There’s a small family of leprechauns having an actual Ceili in my actual head. I don’t think I can do Barry’s today.’

Confident in the knowledge Mags would also be in the throes like me, I dragged myself down to my fave Noe Valley diner Toast for some consolatory eggs and smoked salmon. (Healthy.) Just as I was about to tuck in, a smug little smile on my face, squirming in my seat with happiness, Mags replied.

‘None of your guff, girly – I’m feeling amazing. Friends don’t let other friends skip Barry’s Bootcamp.’

(FYI – Mags is also Irish, hence the excessive Irish-ness of our conversation).

Goddammit, I thought. Fine, fine FINE! I’ll go. I’d never live it down if I skipped out. (How she managed to escape the damage of those three vodka sodas is beyond me. I’m convinced she’s a genetically superior human being).

So, we went to Barry’s, we ran, we lifted, we squatted, we crunched. I would lie if I said it was enjoyable at the time. It was disgusting. And I felt like puking. But the victory was in participating as far as I’m concerned. And as we walked out, with our skinny peanut butter protein shakes in hand, I had to admit- my workout buddy done good. Without her I would have certainly gone back to bed after Toast, followed by a day of unhealthiness and self-loathing.

Thanks Mags!

Trying to take a selfie at the Bay Bridge. 8 pictures, no bridge.

Trying to take a selfie at the Bay Bridge after the class. 8 pictures, no bridge. Well maybe a corner of a bridge

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On account of the hangover the day was probs not as healthy as it could have been. BUT I didn’t go mad. The unhealthy things were an English muffin and then sushi and more alcohol later on when I went out for Karaoke. Could have been worse though.

Food and exercise:

  • Breakfast: Lox scrambler from Toast, with an English muffin and fresh fruit
  • Exercise: 1 hour Barry’s Bootcamp
  • Snack: Skinny protein shake (unsweetened almond milk, no sugar peanut butter and vanilla protein powder)
  • Lunch: Sweet potato with a handful of pistachios (random I know)
  • Dinner: Split with Lysbet – edamame, miso soup, poki salad, 2 sushi rolls, sake
  • Drinks: 2 x glass of wine
  • Entertainment: Karaoke at Encore, a go of a friend’s massage chair and Super Mario (also random.)

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Day 4: Exhausted, but a healthy SF take out saves the day!

Day 4 and I’ve been slammed by a wave of exhaustion. Naively, I had convinced myself that I would be able to cheat jet lag, bounce and frolick my way back into a healthy, daily routine, go to my 8 exercise classes and cook balanced meals from scratch. Hah!

Turns out I’m not quite the super-food cooking superhero just yet.

Instead, I’m more like this.

I love this crazy looking creature.

I love this crazy looking creature.

I’ve gone through similar periods of exhaustion in the past, so I’m all too familiar with the havoc this can wreak upon a healthy living resolution. In an effort to simply keep your eyes open, all you want to do is to eat carby, sugary, starchy, fatty (DELICIOUS) food- and the last thing you want to do is to cook it. Inevitably, this leads to a stop at the local burrito place on the way home from work or a sneaky take out that usually involves pizza.

I am extraordinarily happy to report that good sense and and great health prevailed in this instance. Whilst I did order take-out it was of the very healthy variety. Actually, scratch that, it was of the very, very healthy variety. And it doesn’t get much better than very, very healthy.

Enter Thistle – the pioneers (in my mind – maybe there are others?) of genuinely healthy fast food. I’ve been using them for a while now. They have a variety of healthy, vegetarian dishes that you can order online and have delivered to your doorstep in 30 minutes (or less, more often than not). The dishes always provide a balance of veg, healthy carbs, fat and protein. Honestly speaking, I always feel 100% satisfied afterwards, and never want anything else after.

Jaysus, this sounds like it’s a commercial, but it’s not, I promise.

My dish of choice was the Power Bowl – steamed quinoa, marinated kale, mashed sweet potato, black beans, carrots, housemade kimchi, sunflower seeds, and tahini sauce. I also got the Snow drink (almond milk with peppermint) and I got the Verdance green juice for the following morning.

Thistle is great if you need a quick fix, but in the future I plan to have a freezer-load of healthy meals on hand, ready to defrost when the need hits.

But I’ll get to that when i’m less tired…

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Whilst I did a good job on the eating front, exercise failed miserably. I had signed up for two exercise classes, canceled them, asked some friends if they wanted to go for a walk, canceled that and then ended up on the couch for the night. But you know what – needs must and sometimes you just need to listen to your body.

Food and exercise:

  • Hot water with lemon
  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs (whole and whites), kale, two large coffees with milk
  • Lunch: Salad, with fresh veg, chicken and some fried plantain (healthy? Probs not…but only a small bit), sprinkle nuts and seeds, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Chobani Greek yogurt and handful almonds
  • Dinner: See above
  • Exercise: channel surfing…

Day 3: Sweating the holidays out with Bikram Yoga in the Mission

During some kind of a jet-lagged fueled, manic episode I decided to sign up to no less than 8 exercise classes this week. One of these being Bikram Yoga. No better way to rid yourself of your holiday demons than sweating them out of you.

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My friend Katie, suggested we check out the Bikram Yoga class at Mission Yoga in San Francisco. We managed to get an amazing deal on Groupon – 25 classes for $108. Score! (There’s also still time remaining to get the deal FYI).

This wasn’t my first time doing Bikram, thankfully. I used to do it quite regularly while living in Dublin and I loved it. I think if it had been my first time, I would have suffered even more than I did.

For those of you who refuse to call something a workout unless it involves lifting serious lbs or sprinting 5 miles – let me enlighten you. Bikram Yoga is not for wimps. It’s badass. I find that it gets my heart racing as much as a hill run or a round of wall balls . The class consists of a continuous flow of 26 postures in 40 °C (104 °F) heat with a humidity of 40% for 90 badass minutes. That’s right…badass.

More often than not it’s the heat and humidity that’s the most difficult part of the class. It gets hot! And the postures themselves can be pretty challenging. There’s contorting, squatting and oodles of balancing postures. For those of you who know me you’ll know I don’t do balancing that well. I sometimes fall down even when standing still.

This all being said, Bikram Yog is still totally do-able and accessible to everyone, regardless of fitness level. You’re encouraged to take it at your own speed and sit down whenever you want. I spent half of my first few classes sitting on the mat.

In addition to the physicality I find that there’s something that happens to you on an emotional level when you practice Bikram. Bear with me. My friend Marie used to tell me that she found it to be amazing for unlocking pent up emotions. Sure enough, at the end of the class as we were lying in the dark in the savasana pose I could feel the tears pricking my eyes for no reason at all. It wasn’t a bad thing necessarily – I felt like something had been dislodged, emotionally speaking. Strange…

Anyway, suffice to say I thought the class was great and I’ll definitely be going back again. I really want to get better at it! I want to be the teachers pet, and be the one to hear ‘You there in the back, that’s the best tree pose I’ve seen this side of India.’

Like I said – lofty goals this year.

In other yoga related news I just saw they’re running a weed-fueled yoga class in SOMA on Wednesdays. This is so San Francisco, it hurts! Something to put on the bucket list I think.

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Today was again quite a good day for healthy living. I managed to eat healthfully and do two exercise classes. I did have a brief moment though, as I was eating my raw vegetable snack, when I thought I couldn’t stomach any more veg. But I persevered! 3 good days so far – not bad!

Food and exercise

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  • Hot water with lemon
  • Snack: Small handful walnuts
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs and Kale, 2 large coffees
  • Exercise: 1 hour PT
  • Lunch: Salad with veg, chicken, roasted brussel sprouts, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Raw veg with lemon hummus
  • Exercise: 90 (badass) mins of Bikram Yoga
  • Snack: Handful pecans
  • Dinner: White fish, green beans, half an avocado

 

Day 1: The Rules

The first rule of the 100 Healthy Days in SF challenge is that you need rules. I love rules. I’m a Canadian (more or less)…And I ob-eh’ the rules.

Obey the rules

A lot of people have asked me what the rules of my challenge are, and more specifically, what I mean by ‘healthy’. Whenever I try to explain, it gets a bit muddied and unclear – obviously because I’m unclear myself.

As such I need a list of rules. And a mission statement.

(Actually, I’m slightly tardy with the mission statement – for life in general, not just this challenge. Everyone living in San Francisco needs to have a mission statement. If you don’t have one, and if you haven’t written it down, laminated it, or tattooed it somewhere on your body nobody will take you seriously as you obviously haven’t found your purpose in life or business. You also need to have a solid idea for an app.)

So, here is my mission statement:

“I will strive daily to make the healthiest choices possible, that benefit my mind, body and spirit, whilst living life to the fullest in San Francisco.’

And here are my three simple rules:

  • Eat as cleanly as possible – ie, food that has not been heavily processed
  • Do some form of exercise every day
  • Don’t become a hermit

There will be sub-rules in addition to these (like only drinking vodka-soda on a night out), and mini tasks that I set myself along the way (like giving up sugar for a few weeks) but as long as I stick to these principles my challenge should have an impact and also be sustainable for a happy, fun life.

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Today was all about getting back on track on trying to cast the demons of bad living out of my body. My primary strategy was to hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more. Water is holy. At any one time I had two cups of herbal tea at my desk. It worked as I was able to make healthy choices all day.

What I wasn’t able to do is go to the spin class I had signed up for. Jet lag is a bitch!

Tonight was the first time my roommates and I were all back after the holidays so we celebrated with a lovely home-cooked dinner (thanks Venessa!!) and some present giving. So lovely. It was hard to say goodbye to Ireland after the holidays, but I’m also happy to back in SF!

What you see there, in addition to lovely roommates and a tasty dinner is a book light. An actual book that is also a light. Fascinating.

What you see there, in addition to lovely roommates and a tasty dinner is a book light. An actual book that is also a light. Fascinating.

Too many meals at my computer. Terrible habit!

Too many meals at my computer. Terrible habit!

Food

  • Snack: Green Juice from Pressed Juicery
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (25% whole eggs, 75% egg whites), steamed greens, chia seeds, 2 x large coffees with almond milk
  • Lunch: Salad with lots of veggies, grilled chicken, walnuts, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Raw veg and handful of almonds
  • Dinner: Vegan tamales, salad, avocado, rice, red wine
  • Loads and loads and loads of water and herbal teas (dandelion, peppermint, green)

Exercise:

  • Getting off at a bus stop farther away than my usual one. Lame, I know. But I was exhausted from stupid jet lag.

New year, new start, new post

Nothing quite like the 1st of January (or, ahem, the 5th of January), of a brand spanking new year to kick-start (or kick-resume, in actual fairness to myself) a healthy living regime. Yes, I am that cliche, how embarrassing for me.

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But, regardless of how ridiculous new years’ resolutions can seem, particularly when viewed through the lens of years of dismal failures, it’s almost impossible NOT to make them. There’s no denying there’s a reason it all happens on January 1st.

Yes, yes, yes there’s obviously something very alluring about the fact that it’s a brand new year, a brand new month, a nice blank canvas upon which you can start to paint the masterpiece of your year ahead – your best work to date.

However, let’s face it – it’s almost 100% due to the fact that you’ve just spent one whole month (or maybe two if you’re particularly precocious) poisoning your body and mind with too much fun. Boozey fun. And chocolate. And booze filled chocolate. And, em, probably some cheese.

And so, when the 1st of January dawns upon the candy wrapper and champagne bottle-strewn wreckage of the holiday season, you feel so diseased and disgusting you determine that you will henceforth become THE 2015 HEALTHIEST HUMAN BEING THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.

My other new year’s resolution is to set loftier goals for myself.

The good news is I’ve been living the healthy lifestyle already, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get back into the swing of things. I know my last post stopped on Day 43, but it was more to do with limited time as opposed to falling off the wagon. (Since I last wrote I managed to give up sugar for 5 weeks! More on this to come in another post, as I’m going to attempt to do the same thing again.)

So, here I am, back on the 100 healthy days challenge, on Day 1.

Wish me luck!

Mx

Day 42: Combatting sugar cravings with water

For a while now I’ve been battling some serious sugar cravings. Have you ever experienced this? The ‘can’t sit still at your desk, about to claw your nails down your face or throw someone down the stairs just to get to the granola jar faster’ kind of feeling.

sugar

When I first started the challenge I didn’t suffer from this at all. I actually wrote a post on Day 13 about the evils of breakfast cereal and boasted about the fact that I was able to breeze past the jars in work, and not be tempted to grab some.

Oh how cocky and naive I was!

What happened? Why am I suddenly afflicted like this? What was I doing differently back then?

Thinking back, I was more motivated, certainly – I was all keen to do the best job I could with the 100 Healthy Days Challenge. All the enthusiasm of someone starting out on a new project.

But I don’t think motivation, or lack thereof, is the reason.

What I really think was different was the water I was drinking. I was making a massive effort to drink water and herbal teas – nettle, dandelion and mint predominantly.

So, as an experiment I decided to drown myself with water and tea today. I constantly made sure I had a bottle of water and a herbal tea on the go. I probably drank more than I would normally, or felt like I needed.

And, good news – I didn’t have any sugar cravings today! I was once again able to breeze past the granola jar, mentally giving it the middle finger and a big #$% you. I’m hesitant to start the celebrations just yet. All too often I think I’ve solved my sugar issues, only to find myself nose deep in a cereal bowl.

Let’s just call this an interesting observation. And let’s just try it again tomorrow and see how we get on.

This is going to be my strategy for upping my water intake:

  • Keeping a large glass of water by my bedside and drinking the full thing as soon as I wake up in the morning.
  • Whenever I have a coffee, I’ll make sure to have a glass of water with it. Italians do this in bars all the time!
  • Drink water flavoured with natural fruit – we have lots of this in work. The new thing is basil flavoured water. Kids these days!
  • Carry a bag big enough to fit a bottle of water and make sure I have one when going out.

FYI – I also tried the below things as well, which apparently have an impact on blood sugar and sugar cravings.

  1. I did not eat any fruit
  2. I started taking a good probiotic
  3. I started taking Omega 3s
  4. I put cinnamon on everything!
  5. I upped the protein and healthy fat amounts in my salad – extra chicken, avocado and added in pumpkin seeds and olive oil

Fingers crossed we can have another good day tomorrow!

Food and Exercise

  • Snack: 10 almonds
  • Exercise: 45 mins spin with light weights
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (made with olive oil), steamed egg whites, chia seeds, steamed mustard greens and kale, raw peppers, large coffee with half and half
  • Lunch: Green salad, with chicken, avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar
  • Snack: Hummus with crudites – including PURPLE CAULIFLOWER
  • Dinner: Kale salad, cherry tomatoes, sweet potato, cannelini beans, goat’s cheese, olive oil and apple cider vinegar
It's PURPLE

It’s PURPLE