The BuzzFeed Clean Eating Challege was 14 days long. I made it to day 10. There are a few reasons we ended early.
1. We didn’t go to the grocery store to stock up for week 2 because we got our first produce box (from Dominion Harvest) on Friday that had a lot of produce in it that we would have to use throughout the week before it went bad, and a lot of that stuff wasn’t used in the remaining 5 or 6 days of the challenge (stuff like swiss chard and broccoli raab, which I’ve determined I just don’t like…) So since we didn’t go to the store to get the produce we would need, we also didn’t get some of the other things, like more hummus.
2. The challenge ended on Sunday, and we left early Saturday morning to travel to Evansville, so those two days it just would have been impossible.
I’m okay with the fact that I didn’t finish the challenge, but mainly because I feel like I learned what I was supposed to learn, including portion size control (minus the bit mentioned below), a lot about what is ‘clean’ and what isn’t, and more.
I did determine that for me, with working out and lifting 4-5 days a week, that 4oz of protein at any given meal isn’t enough. I need more than 1 egg with breakfast, and I think I need at least 6 oz of protein with lunch or dinner. Otherwise I get really low on energy.
So what were some of my favorite recipes??
1. Shaved Asparagus Salad with Shallots and Fried Eggs – this recipe, hands down, was one of my absolutely favorites. Add some bacon and chicken, and this is totally a one pot meal. It would also be good to take as a side to a get-together (as long as asparagus is in season). It was a pain ‘ribboning’ the asparagus, but definitely worth it.
2. Roast Chicken Bowl with Quinoa and Kale – this was a great way to use up a bunch of kale, and the Orange Vinaigrette really takes it up a notch. Next time I think I’d add some onions or mushrooms (or both).
3. Kale, Chickpea, and Fennel Salad with Orange Vinaigrette – this was an easy, throw together lunch that I’ll more than likely do again, only I’ll add chicken or tuna. The flavors go so well together, and again, the orange vinaigrette adds an awesome kick. Not to mention, I had no idea I liked fennel.
4. Lemony Avocado – SO EASY and SO GOOD. Seriously. It’s filling, tasty (if you like avocado, that is) and so simple.
5. Scallion and Feta Omelet – I made this several days (even when I wasn’t supposed to) – it is very tasty with strong flavors that meld very well together, and very quick to throw together in the morning. I’ll definitely be making this again. Maybe with mushrooms.
6. Lentils – These lentils went along with the Cauliflower Steaks, which were good, but cauliflower, to me, is a vegetable, and not a substitution for meat. That said, these lentils are AMAZING. I honestly had never had lentils before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they are so flavorful and make awesome leftovers. Robert asked for them again last night but by the time we got around to making dinner, it would have taken too long. Maybe we’ll make them tonight. SO yummy.
7. Turkey-Basil Meatballs with Collard Greens – I had a feeling these would be good, and I was right. Even Brooke really liked them! The only thing with these is that I personally like them the day I make them. Left over, they were kind of tough and dry. But an awesome, easy dinner! I’ll probably make these again with thinly sliced cabbage (roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper) instead of collard greens. I like collards, but I don’t LOVE them.
8. Shakshuka – Wow. This was awesome. I hadn’t ever heard of this dish but I’m so glad I know about it now. So much flavor. Honestly, I think this would be awesome for breakfast. No changes needed. You could always add in more veggies (we used a lot more asparagus than the recipe calls for) but its really just an awesome dish.
9. Kale and Shrimp Bowl with Mushrooms and Avocado – this is another awesome way to use kale. And I love avocado and shrimp. Next time I’ll use more shrimp (for more protein), but this was really good. This might be more of a good side than an entree (maybe with a pork chop or something?)
What I didn’t try that I wish I had – and will:
1. The Apple Omelet
2. Black Bean Chili with Greek Yogurt and Zucchini Ribbons
3. Fried Quinoa with Snap Peas, Mushrooms, and Scrambled Eggs
4. Asian Style Cod in Parchment with Bok Choy
5. Spicy Tamari Shrimp Lettuce Cups
6. Portobello Mushroom Caps with Feta, Tomato, and Mint
7. Chicken, Snap Pea, and Mushroom Stir-Fry
I also loved some of the snack ideas, like carrots and cucumber with hummus, or strawberries with almond butter, or a pear with almond butter, and even hot chocolate (1 cup unsweetened almond milk with 2 squares of 70% dark chocolate melted in). I also loved that a bit of dark chocolate in the evenings is good to go. I’ve kept up with that part of the challenge 🙂
This challenge made me see that just because I don’t eat perfect all of the time, or that some nights I might not want what I’m supposed to have, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other healthy options that WILL work. And that food that is good for you can also taste really amazing. I did lose a couple pounds while doing the challenge, and am happy to report that I now weigh less than I did before I got pregnant with Brooke (woohoo!) and since June 8th of last year (2013) – the day I gave birth, I’ve lost 67lbs. I’ve got a ways to go still and I have my goals, but not every day will be ‘good’ in terms of nutrition or working out, and I’m TOTALLY okay with that. I’m not perfect. I don’t expect to be. Life won’t lend itself to be perfect. And that’s what I like about it.
I’ll continue to document some clean eats to give you guys some new ideas too, since it seems like these last few blog posts with the clean eating stuff was pretty popular. A big thanks to BuzzFeed and Christine Byrne for creating this challenge!