Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sassy does Chicago (and tips for travel)

Happy Hump Day!

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Chicago, and I'm so excited! My colleague and dear friend, Apryl, and I are attending the American Library Association (ALA) conference. There are so many great sessions we are planning on attending, and some fun things in Chicago we have planned, and of course, pizza!

Also, Sarah Jessica Parker is going to be there speaking about a new book club initiative ALA is doing. Would my Carrie-inspired skirt be too much to wear to that session?

We'll be gone for six days, then I'm home for 3, and gone again, traveling to NY for my sweet niece and nephew's baptisms. I haven't been home for the 4th of July in I don't know how long, and I'm looking forward to fireworks on the pier. We're also planning on taking the babies to the zoo, and a few other things (like Sullivan's curly fries and ice cream!). It will be nice to enjoy some summer days in NY, where it isn't as stifling hot outside as it is North Carolina.

I thought I'd do a quick post before I'm gone for a bit on my tips for traveling. It is obviously a lot more difficult to "stay on track" while traveling; however, here's my plan:

1. Eat a solid breakfast. This is one of my tips in general, as I discussed in an earlier post. I'm going to shoot for a high-protein, low carb breakfast. There will be an amount of pizza and other treats consumed, so having a solid breakfast will still ensure that I'm fueling my body with some of what it needs. This will be especially important in Chicago, as we plan to do a lot of walking. We're also going to be spending hours, in some cases, at the conference, sitting in sessions, so I'll want to make sure I eat something good that sticks with me.

2. Drink water. Don't use traveling as an excuse to slack on your water intake. I already have my water bottle packed. I feel better all around when I'm getting in my water, so this will be especially important since my nutrition and sleep are not going to be as solid as they usually are.

3. Don't drink your calories. This goes along with #2. I'm going to be eating enough; I don't need to waste empty calories on beverages.

4. Get in veggies when you can. Our plan is to check out Snap Kitchen and Protein Bar  for breakfasts and lunches, which are both super close to our hotel. They both have really great healthy(ier) options for breakfast and lunch, which all look so good!

5. Pack snacks. I have protein powder, tuna packets, cheese crisps, and nuts already packed and ready to go, and of course Spark. These travel well and will keep me out of the shops at the airports (where everything is ridiculously expensive, anyway) and will be great to tuck away in my bag while at the conference.

6. Get a bit of exercise in when you can. We will be walking quite a bit in Chicago, and our days are pretty jam packed, so I probably won't be making any gym trips; however, when we go home to NY, I can certainly get a few runs, at the very least. The last time I was home in March, I bought a guest pass for the week at the gym, and I may consider doing that again.

7. Embrace Grace.  Don't miss out on 95% of your life, to weigh 5% less. Realize it's a vacation, but not a free-for-all. Enjoy yourself, but don't go overboard.

8. Stay off the scale when you get back. Don't feel guilty about enjoying yourself because the scale is up a few pounds. Most of it will be water, and will come off pretty quickly once I"m back in a routine. I've also already ordered a cleanse so that I can hit the reset button as soon as I get back.

This week will also end my adventure into strict keto. There are certain aspects of it I have enjoyed (more cheese, please!), but I don't love the amount of water I'm retaining, the number on the scale, or the fact that my muscle definition has decreased. However, I have discovered that I do have a gluten intolerance, so this will certainly change the way I incorporate carbs back into my diet. I also can't do sugar alcohols, so a lot of the "keto friendly" treats are off limits to me. I preach moderation and this has me feeling a bit restricted.

I will be mostly doing what is known as Targeted Keto  and consuming my starchy carbs around my workouts. I am going to lower my fats (sad face) and up my protein, too. I'd really like to get to a point where I don't have to track everything I'm eating, but we aren't quite there yet.

Tell me, what are your tips for staying on track while traveling? And, who has been to Chicago? What are my must dos?

See you in a few weeks, friends!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Easy Keto Biscuits

Happy Thursday, friends!

I promised a keto-friendly recipe this week and here it is!

Recipe adopted from:

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter (melted)

Seasonings of choice

1/3 cup shredded cheddar 
1/2 teaspoon garlic

  In two separate bowls, mix together your dry and wet ingredients.  Be sure your wet ingredients are well combined.

My almond flour is a combination flour/meal. I used a fork to mash out the clumps. Nobody wants a clumpy biscuit.

Then combine your wet and dry ingredients.

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray and spoon in your mixture. I got 12 muffins out of one batch.

Cook in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
Viola! Perfect!

I did not add the optional cheese to these, but I did add some garlic, onion powder and pepper. I think some cheese in them would be awesome, very similar to a cheddar biscuit from Red Lobster. I'm definitely going to do another batch of them for dinner like that.

 To go along with these, I cooked up some eggs that could easily be cut up and rewarmed. I mixed together eggs and egg whites.  I did a total of 9 eggs and 7 servings of egg whites. You can adjust to fit your calories/macros. I did enough to cover a cookie sheet.

Be sure to spray your pan really well. I cooked in the same 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

 I'm not sure if my pan is uneven, or my oven rack, but I've yet to have these come out with an even thickness. One end is always thicker than the other.

 I used a pizza cutter and sliced them into 20 

For breakfast for the week, I sliced the biscuit in half....

...and topped with egg, cheddar, and of course, bacon. Reheated in the microwave for about a minute. Yum!

A word of caution. Because these are keto, this breakfast is a bit higher calorie than you may be used to. Remember, fats are 9cal/gram. The biscuits came out to 121cal/10.8fat/2carb/4protein each. I did two for breakfast, with 2 eggs, 2 slices of cheese and 2 pieces of center cut bacon. That being said, they kept me full until lunch, so I was okay with a higher calorie meal. I'm finding with keto, I'm eating bigger meals, less often. 

What else do you guys want to see? I'm thinking of showing a few of the "Fat Bombs" I've made for treats. Thoughts?

Next week, I'm heading out to Chicago and then I'll be home for 3 days before driving north to NY for the week of the 4th. 2.5 weeks of travel is going to prove to be challenging, for sure. But, I'm not going to stress about it, and I'm certainly not going to go to Chicago and NOT have pizza. Or, to NY and NOT have Sullivan's curly fries. That's why losing weight needs to be a lifestyle change, not a "diet." Will eating pizza and french fries help me reach my goals? Probably not. But, do I eat them every day? No. They're a treat. And, trying to deprive myself of things, especially treats when traveling, is going to make me resentful. I am planning on packing some snacks- tuna packets, nuts, jerky, to have on hand, but I'm not going to stress about it. The point of getting healthy is so that you can enjoy life, and while enjoying a few treats, and not tracking my macros for a few days may set me back a little, it's not going to completely undo everything I've worked on. Especially if I get right back to it when I come back. 


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Giving Keto a Go

Hi, there!

It's my birthday week, so I decided to give In the Kitchen a little facelift as a gift. I hope you enjoy the new look! I also bought myself a domain name, you can now find me at I'm excited about these changes and hope you are too!

To those of you joining me after seeing my interview on Yahoo!, welcome! Thanks for coming along for the ride. I'm really humbled by the opportunity to be able to share my story and I hope you enjoyed reading it!

If you haven't already read it, check it out here.

I posted a few weeks ago on Instagram that I was toying with the idea of trying Keto. Keto is a high fat/moderate protein/very low carb way of eating (remember, I hate the word diet).

Let's get one thing out of the way- Carbs are not the enemy. They are your body's preferred source of fuel. They are important and have their place. Also, remember that carbs are more than just potatoes and cake. Fruits, vegetables and sugar are all sources of carbohydrates.

With that being said, I know that the sugary, starchy carbs are my trigger. Once I have them, especially sugar, I can't stop. I have such an all or nothing personality that manifests itself in so many ways in my life; if I'm into something, I'm ALL IN with it. Food is no exception. I also know that my body doesn't react that well to a lot of carbs, as much as I may enjoy them.

I am also feeling a little bored/burnt out with counting macros. I've been counting macros for almost two years and while I love the freedom it affords a weight loss plan, basically allowing you eat anything so long as it "fits," mentally, the planning, tracking and playing food Jenga in order to hit my numbers was starting to burn me out a little.

I've been hearing a lot of chatter about keto. Now, I'm very much anti-fad diet (there's that word again). I KNOW there is no quick fix. I KNOW you have to commit to making a lifestyle change. If you try to do something quick, or go on a "diet," as soon as you stop, you're going to find yourself right back to where you were, and, in some cases, even worse off.

With that being said, I was still intrigued, and thought it would add a little bit of a challenge to just straight counting macros. Also, counting net carbs (subtracting fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams) was new, so that would also be a bit of a change.

In a very short explanation, going keto means getting your body into a state of ketosis. The goal is to become "fat adapted" so that your body is burning fat for energy. The number of carbs you can consume and still be in ketosis varies from person to person, but typically its under 50 net carbs a day; however, when just starting out, you usually need to be somewhere between 20-30.

Like everything, there are different ways to do this. Some people totally frown upon anything processed, while others don't care so long as they are staying under their net carbs for the day. There are also ways to cycle and have one high carb day a week or cycle in fast acting carbs during your day so they are right around your workout. There is obviously a lot more to it, and you can find a lot more online. Or, ask your friendly neighborhood librarian, and she can probably help you out :)

I did have my macros recalculated for me for keto. One thing that I've read over and over again is that since you are eating so much fat which is filling, it is difficult to overeat on keto. You're supposed to listen to your body, eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Snacking is generally frowned upon; you're supposed to be eating enough at your meals to keep you full until your next meal. If you find that you're hungry, you're not eating enough fat at your meal, and should add some in.

So, how did I do?

For the most part, I found it pretty easy to follow. The less starchy/sugary carbs I had, the less I wanted, and really by the end of the week, my cravings for sugary things diminished.  I really thought I'd be miserable and by day 2 would have had enough, but I'm truly loving eating cheese, bacon and avocado. I can really see myself sticking with this for the long-term with some modifications; I feel better, I'm sleeping better and I'm for the most part not hungry (more on that below).

What did I eat?

In short, a lot of cheese, coconut oil, heavy whipping cream, and of course, bacon.

I made egg sandwiches for breakfast. I beat eggs, egg whites, heavy whipping cream together and poured them onto a large cookie sheet. I baked at 425 for about 20 minutes. When it was done, I used a pizza cutter and made five portions. I stuffed the egg with turkey lunch meat, cheese, spinach and avocado and heated. I also had a glass of iced coffee with heavy whipping cream (HWC) and coconut milk. YUM.

For lunches for the week, I made a cabbage/ground turkey/cheese/taco bake. Recipe adapted from here:

Dinners consisted of: Steak with asparagus and spinach, Creamed spinach with mushrooms and bacon over chicken, BBQ (no sugar added sauce) chicken thighs with bacon wrapped asparagus, and fathead pizza.

My breakfast was great, and kept me full until lunch. I actually didn't eat lunch until about 2pm most days this week.

Lunch, on the other hand, while delicious, did not keep me full through the afternoon. It may be because I did use a 93/7 ground turkey to make it and if I would have used a fattier cut of meat, it would have been more filling. By 3:30-4 every day I was looking for something to munch on. I did come prepared with almonds, cheese, and tuna packets, so I was able to stay keto compliant.

Dinners were great! I generally tried to save most of my carbs for dinner and then filled up on veggies with a protein. They were, for the most part, pretty easy, and I was able to just easily throw them in the oven or on the grill after work.

What's the catch?

Full disclosure, I did stop tracking my macros. I actually found it a little overwhelming trying to hit all three numbers, while keeping my carbs so low, so I really just focused on my carbs for the first two weeks. So, to be honest, I have no idea if I was over/under eating calorie wise. I did drop 5 pounds the first week, and then kind of just hung out around there the second, so I may have been eating at my maintenance, or my body can just be adjusting; I know it takes my body a while to catch up with what I'm doing, especially since I'm SO close to where I want to be on the scale. Now that I think I have a little better handle on things, I'm going to work on hitting all of my numbers.

Another downfall I discovered is how absolutely miserable you will feel if you go off plan. We celebrated my trainer (book your free class with her here) and friend, Von's, birthday on Saturday. I didn't think one little piece of birthday cake would do too much harm, but I was wrong.  I felt miserable on Sunday- I had the worst headache and felt so run down. So, lesson learned. If I'm going to do this, I have to 100% do this or suffer.  I'm not sure how this is going to play out in the long run, because I'm all about balance and living life.  I don't want to feel miserable for an entire day for simply eating a piece of cake.

So, that's my experience so far. I'm going to keep up with it for now, and see what happens. I'm going to Chicago next week for work, and then home to NY for my niece and nephew's baptisms, and the 4th of July, so I'm not sure that I'll be able to stay totally on track, but I'm up for the challenge.

Tell me, have you heard of Keto? What are your thoughts on it?

Look for a recipe post later this week where I'll feature a keto friendly biscuit I made for meal prep this week!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Quick and Easy is the name of the game!

Happy Sunday, friends!

If you had a busy weekend like I did, you may be looking for something quick and easy to add to your menu this week. Here's a good one I made last week, with my suggestions for improvements. It was delicious, quick, easy, nutritious, and husband approved.

The recipe is a Pesto Chicken with Zoodle Salad. This time of year, we all have zucchini coming out of our ears. It's really easy to dress it up to match whatever dish you're making. Get you a zoodler and have some fun!

Recipe adapted from:

I love making my own pesto. I throw fresh basil leaves, olive oil and garlic in the ninja, and just pulse the heck out of it.

I spread the pesto on the chicken breasts. The next time I make this, I'm going to season my chicken breasts before I spread the pesto because they were kind of bland. I would sprinkle the breasts with some garlic, salt, and pepper. Maybe a bit of parmesan cheese, too.

Top with a few slices of roma tomatoes.
 I added some zucchini, that I had ran through my zoodler, and some mushrooms.

Since I used thin sliced breasts, they only needed about 15 minutes or so in the oven at 425.
 When the chicken was just about done, I topped with mozzarella cheese and put them back in the oven until the cheese melted.
Viola! I served the chicken with a zoodle salad I made that had tomato, mushroom, mozzarella cheese, pesto, and zoodles of course. I sauteed everything but the cheese in a pan for about 10 minutes, and added the cheese at the end. You could also have the salad cold, too.

Enjoy, and as always, let me know if you make it and love it!