So I am still doing my 28-day challenge, in fact I am reaching the end of it and I definitely have to say that is has produced the results I wanted. 28 days ago I was struggling to get into my summer shorts and thinking I was going to be forced to buy new, bigger clothes, which was giving me anxiety. After these days of cutting all sugars, alcohol, dairy products, fruits, red meat, carbs & processed foods I am able to fit into my shorts and have been feeling great.
Throughout the challenge I slipped a few times. I had sweets twice, had four alcoholic beverages (patio season was starting, how can I resist?) and carbs twice. But I am very proud of myself for sticking to it. I am even thinking of doing another 28 days and turning it into a 56-day challenge. Oh yes, I am also trying to keep active, maybe not by doing the same crazy exercises I was doing before, but at least walking and running on the treadmill, doing core exercises and walking by the lake. having a device that counts your steps helps as you know how much you have to walk to reach that 10,000 step goal every day.
This challenge also opened my eyes and it helped me realize that even though I thought I was eating healthy, how dependant I am on carbs and cheese, especially when I want to grab a quick snack or make a fast meal. This is something that needs to stop, as I have experienced first hand what cleaner eating really does. I never, throughout these 28 days, felt bloated, super full, had heartburn or had digestive problems. That really says a lot as I am known for having some of these problems.
The challenge also opened my culinary mind to using new ingredients to substitute things I like a lot or crave as well as to make and develop new recipes while avoiding some of the staple foods I would fall into. Some of the changes and substitutions I did include: making zucchini noodles instead of using regular pasta, using crushed unsalted roasted cashews instead of grated Parmesan cheese, grating carrots and using them in scrambled eggs instead of cheese, topping things with salsa, fresh herbs and seasonings, and always keeping a well stocked pantry with fresh produce and lean proteins.
A couple of times I made warm salads, which can be very satisfying as it is easy to get sick of regular salads when you are eating veggies and protein in all your meals. Below is one of my favourites, a Warm Eggplant, Bell Peppers & Parsley Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing.
Always challenge yourself! Continue learning! Make this recipe and let me know what you think!
Yield: 2 servings as a main course or 4 servings as a side dish
1 ea Eggplant, diced
1 ea Red bell pepper, diced
1 ea Orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 ea White or yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp Grape seed oil
1-2 tsp Paprika
2 1/2 Tbsp Tahini paste
2 ea Lemons, both juiced, one zested
1/2 bunch Flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
As needed Warm water
To taste Kosher salt
To taste Fresh ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium-heat. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add the bell peppers and eggplant and continue sautéing until the eggplant softens. Season lightly with salt and pepper and at this time add the paprika. Mix well.
Add lemon juice and deglaze the bottom of the pan.
Make a well in the middle of the pan by moving the vegetables to the sides. Add the tahini paste and mix. Most probably you will need to add warm water to dissolve the tahini, this will depend on the brand and type of tahini used. Keep adding water until the tahini is dissolved and incorporated into the vegetables. It should not be runny.
Turn the heat off, add the lemon zest and parsley and mix one last time to incorporate everything. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
Can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish. Serve on it's own or on top of couscous or rice.
Serve chunky or puree in a food processor and enjoy as a dip with pita chips and vegetables.
Add chickpeas or serve with light white fish to add protein.
Tastes great warm or cold.