Japanese Salad Bowls

Since completing Whole30 and getting back from Southeast Asia I’ve been craving simple, nutritious meals that don’t skimp out on flavor. I’m also in the beginning of training season (I have two half marathons at the end of the Summer and am currently debating signing up for the Chicago Marathon) so it’s important to have a balance of carbs, protein, and fats. I’ve also been on a bit of an unintentional vegetarian/vegan kick, as I just haven’t really been in the mood to cook lots of meat lately.

I love Cookie+Kate and Minimalist Baker as sources of inspiration for vegetarian meals that are fun and flavorful. I made this Japanese Salad bowl as a combination of Minimalist Baker’s Buddha Bowl and Cookie+Kate’s Vegetarian Sushi Bowl, and it turned out so well I had it back to back nights for dinner this week. Here’s the recipe:

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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooke Time: 20 minutes (45 minutes if cooking sweet potato)

Makes 1 serving:

Salad:

1 1/2-2 cups kale, stems discarded

1 Japanese sweet potato

1/3 C frozen edamame

1 green onion thinly sliced, stems discarded

1/2 bell pepper, cut into slices

1/4 avocado

2 tblsp olive oil

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Dressing:

1 tblsp sesame oil

1 1/2 tblsp tahini paste

1 tblsp soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos

1 teaspoon sweetner (honey, maple syrup, agave)

1 tblsp water (to thin)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400* and bake your sweet potato for about 45 minutes (you can always meal prep your sweet potatoes in bulk on Sundays and heat one up quickly in the microwave). I like to wash it, pat it dry then wrap it in foil and simply put it on a baking sheet.

Slice the bell pepper into strips and throw into a cast-iron skillet with a dash of high heat oil (I love avocado oil). Sauté for about ~10 minutes, depending on how much you like to cook your bell pepper (you can always have it raw). Heat a pot of water and boil the edamame for about ~7 minutes. While these both cook, slice the green onions and your avocado. Massage the kale with olive oil and a dash of salt (this will help take the bitterness out of the kale and trust me it makes the world of difference).

Once your sweet potato is done heating wait a few moments to let it cool and slice it into rounds. Using the kale as your base add the edamame, green onions, bell pepper, sweet potato. To make the dressing, simply add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the salad, and you’re done!

You can always double the recipe, add your choice of meat or fish, add sliced cucumber, carrots, etc. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

With love,

Brittny

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Whole30 Graduate

For the month of January I did Whole30. I gave you a week 1 recap and then didn’t give you a week 2 or 3 recap. My bad. But! I’m happy to report that I stuck with it for 30 days straight; I haven’t had grains*, gluten, soy, dairy, alcohol, added sugar or legumes. 95% of the meals I ate in the month of January I cooked. That’s right; to ensure I was compliant with Whole30 I cooked almost all of my  meals at home, and if I did go out to eat it was to grab a salad, or the like. Needless to say it was by far the healthiest month of my life.

So, was it hard? Ab-so-freaking-lutely.

Would I do it again? Probably.

So why exactly did I do this?

Well I’ve mentioned here before that after the marathon, running took a back burner in the fall. Combine that with going out quite a bit on weekends and eating all.of.the.things, come December my body was in desperate need of a break and reset. I was feeling extremely puffy and bloated, and it started to affect my mood and my self image and confidence. Unfortunately, it got to the point where I was the unhappiest with my body than I’ve been in years.

Emily brought up the idea of doing Whole30 for the month of January and I told her she was crazy. But, due to the aforementioned feelings above, I knew I needed a hard reset and to do something I’d never done before. I had been putting off my health for months, letting vacations or fun events be an excuse. But in January all my weekends were free and the excuses had run out. It was time for me to focus on making myself healthier and happier. So while Whole30 was a bit of an extreme way to set out to accomplish this goal, desperate times call for extreme measures.

What did I learn, exactly? Well, over the last 30 days I’ve gained a lot of perspective. I think a lot of people share this mentality when it comes to treats: that a bite won’t kill you. But for me, a bite turns into 2 or 3 bites, and I regret all of them later. “Treats” weren’t special anymore and I wasn’t saving them for what they are; a special food to celebrate a birthday or a really shitty day. Not to celebrate that I got of bed that morning and was a functioning human. Before Whole30 I was taking the “treat yoself” mentality a little too liberally. I was saying “yes!” to everything out of fear of feeling FOMO or looking silly (I don’t know about you, but when something is in front of me I have a really hard time saying no). Yes, I’m that girl who enjoys the half of a cupcake for a few minutes and then is on the bus home after work regretting it. But what I realized was underneath that was disappointment in myself that I didn’t have control or that I let FOMO get the best of me.

I had to learn to get comfortable saying no. Instead of giving in I remembered my goal and why I was doing this in the first place; why I was on this restrictive diet and reset. I would remind myself “You’ve had a cookie before. What you haven’t done before is said no to indulgences that you’ll regret later.” So with that, I politely said no more times than I ever had before and explained I was doing Whole30. And you know what? Everyone supported me. And I began to be okay with “missing out.” I put myself and this dedication to my body and mind first. I’m really proud of that. Perhaps the most important learning and accomplishment of Whole30 is that I have more willpower and determination than I’ve ever given myself credit.

Taking the time to mindfully think about the foods I was putting into my body was also a welcome perspective. I’ve circled back on the realization that my food is my fuel. You already know running and my performance is important to me. So, yes, while I did PR the morning after a day of day drinking last fall, I’ve also been able to wake up every day for 30 days without the excuse of a hangover to skip my morning workout. I’m also someone who gets MAJOR anxiety after they drink, so that anxiety relief has been amazing as well.

So did I lose weight? Yep. About 6 pounds. And while I’m thrilled, I’m more grateful for the loss of anxiety, learning to put myself first, and getting comfortable with saying no. It feels great to accomplish something so big for me personally to start off the year.

I bet you’re wondering if I’m eating a donut as I’m writing this reflection post. Not exactly. I’m following the Whole30 reintroduction and will start to slowly add back in the foods I haven’t been eating. So instead of a donut I’m eating homemade granola. And it is GLORIOUS! On Friday I’m going out for sushi and am adding back in legumes, and after my race on Sunday I’ll have my first drink since January 1st.

Cheers to 2017 already off to a healthy and accomplished start : )

*Disclaimer: I was eating quinoa for a few days there. As I’m training for a half my body needed some type of grain carb.

“Whole 30” Week 1

Last Monday I started Whole30. If you haven’t heard of Whole30, I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Paleo” Diet. And if you haven’t heard of Paleo, you’ve at least seen a meme of people talking about the latest fad diet they’ve either tried or are currently on. Not to diminish Whole30 as a fad diet, but you know what I mean. Anyway, Whole30 is basically a more intense version of Paleo that lasts for 30 days. It’s no grains, dairy, soy, added sugar, legumes, and alcohol. People use Whole30 to lose weight, obviously, but also to reset their metabolism, learn which foods that may be causing them discomfort, and change their relationship with food.

Ah, relationships with food. I won’t get too far into it because that isn’t the point of this post. But here’s a quick rundown: when I graduated from college and moved home, I noticed that point blank I was chubby. I tried the South Beach Diet in combination with starting to run. One of those lasted for a few weeks, the other I fell in love with and still torture myself with today. When that didn’t work, I stumbled across Tone It Up, and this program spoke to me. A program led by two women whose main goal is in the name: to help women tone up. I purchased their nutrition plan and have essentially been trying to live by the lifestyle for years now: 5 meals a day, eating fruit and carbs in the morning, leaving fats for the afternoon, and eating lean, clean, and green dinners. Sure their stuff can be cheesy, but there are millions of Instagram tags and posts of women who are bonding over a shared goal of getting healthier. I find that the program empowers women and is a safe platform for encouragement and community. The world needs a lot more of that, in my opinion; a space for women to share their insecurities, to know that they are not alone in their struggles with loving and accepting their bodies.

When Emily moved in last August, we discovered that we both followed Tone It Up, among other things: a shared bond over our love of fitness, yoga, healthy and indulgent cooking, Lululemon, acai bowls, Taylor Swift, etc. We’re sort of the two most basic girls in San Francisco. And it’s lovely.

Flash forward to December, and Emily decided we would be doing Whole 30 in January. I quickly said yes, because over the last few months I’ve gained about 10 pounds. Since the marathon, running has fallen behind and I’ve consistently felt bloated and puffy. I’ve let fun weekends and trips be an excuse to indulge, while not making my health a priority. I’ve wanted this for a while; a reset, some discipline, an accountability partner, and to get back to a healthy place with food again.

So! Week one went great. I’m really proud of my self for outlining all of meals, grocery shopping, and meal prepping on Sundays. I will say, I AM EATING QUINOA! I’m training for the Kaiser Half on February 5th, and I need some sort of carb other than sweet potatoes to fuel my training. However, that is my only deviance form the program, and I feel really great. I feel less bloated, have a ton of energy, and I’m not really missing anything too much. Sure, I had to walk away from my coworker the other day when he had mac and cheese for lunch, and I was eyeing the mint flavored Oreo’s at work today (and I don’t even really like Oreo’s!), but I’ve been able to get over it quickly. It’s all about remembering why you started. Here are some of the meals I ate last week:

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Lunch: kale, avocado, whole30 approved mayo with tuna, roasted butternut squash and cauliflower

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Dinner Cauliflower rice bowl: cod, roasted butternut squash, and avocado

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A dinner my friend Mandy made! Whole30 butter chicken, roasted zucchini and brussels sprouts, salad, and quinoa

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Breakfast quinoa bowl: quinoa, sliced almonds, chia seeds, cashew butter, frozen cherries, and unsweetened coconut flakes

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Sunday Supper: short ribs, quinoa, and mashed sweet potatoes

I’m planning on following Whole30 until February 5th (or at least not consuming alcohol until then) so I’ll keep you all posted each week!