Tag Archives: Food

Les Mills 21-day Nutrition Challenge

Les Mills, the genius people behind my beloved Grit, has a 21 day challenge which basically involves going squeaky clean, low-carb paleo (with the addition of a post-workout shake) for 21 days.

I’ve been thinking of doing a Whole 30 or similar lately & when this was raised at Gritshed, I thought it would be an ideal way to reduce the number of sweet potatoes I was ploughing through & have a break from my nightly dark chocolate anti-oxidant habit.

Normal paleo rules are in play but there’s also guidelines around portion sizes and timing of meals, as well as reducing your starchy carb intake.

Here’s the lowdown from Les Mills food dude Corey Baird:

So who’s with me?

I’m kicking this off on Wednesday March 19th & will be rolling through until Wednesday April 9th. For those clever cats playing at home, yep, that’s 22 days. Why is that? Well, it’s our anniversary in early April & we have a deluxe dinner booked at our favourite local restaurant Subo. While they do the most deliciously delicate meals of mostly locally sourced ingredients, I’m not missing out on a decadent feast due to possible traces of starchy carbs.

That’s my declaration of my only off-the-plan meal. I’m making the choice here to indulge in something I’m planning & totally looking forward to. This is vastly different to chowing into a block of chocolate at 9pm, or devouring a parcel of hot chips for a lazy dinner. And this is the secret to staying on the clean-eating bandwagon.

We’ve all had our slip-ups, felt like crap & ate our feelings.

The difference we want to develop with this challenge & with eating going forward is that you can & will be able to make a choice about everything that goes into your mouth. This isn’t about being hyper-aware of calories or ‘bad foods’, it’s about making choices. If you genuinely want that piece of chocolate, or that 7-course degustation in my case, & it is a choice you are consciously making, get in there & don’t feel guilty, enjoy it!

If you do fall victim to a carbalicious convenience food or a stray pile of deep fried business, get over it & get straight back on with cleaning up your act ahead of your next meal.

Don’t wait for the next day. Don’t wait for the next week. Don’t give up

Until launch day, I’m going to be posting a bunch of tips & bits to help you prepare for the challenge. Preparation is a big part of eating this way & even though it might seem like a load of work to start off with, you’ll get used to it pretty quickly & find the best way to make it work for you.

Once things are underway, I’ll still be posting regularly both here & via Instagram to share my experiences & delicious discoveries.

Let’s change the game.

Week of eats: 16 Feb 2014

Every Sunday, I plan out & shop for the majority of our meals for the week ahead. Here’s the best-of last week.

To kick things off on this rainy Sunday evening, as promised here’s the Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta from Let’s Eat Paleo by The Merrymaker Sisters. I added in some zucchini & served it with sweet potato noodles & it was super tasty. Quick & easy to put together, this dish has already made the menu again for this week.

Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta

The recipe was for four people so we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day. A few cherry tomatoes, a handful of baby spinach & a sprinkle of some leftover pomegranate seeds & it was the second best lunch I had all week.

Leftover Creamy Chicken & Salad

While I put together the Creamy Chicken & Tomato Pasta dish, I let a pot of Chocolate Chili simmer ready for a speedy heat & eat dinner the next night. A day in the fridge to sit and flavour-mingle is the key to getting the most deliciousness out of a dish like this I reckon! This recipe is available online but I totally recommend Well Fed 1, the cookbook this is also in. (And FYI, the leftovers of this one took out favourite lunch of the week)

Chocolate Chili

Breakfast seems to be the biggest gripe new-to-paleo people post about online: “How do I do breakfast without Pop-Tarts, Coco-Pops & Wonderbread?” Behold the whatever-is-in-the-fridge scramble: sliced up leftover tomato-y meatballs, a handful of kale & 2 eggs scrambled with a plop of coconut milk. I’d have that over some sugar-laden cereal any day!

Kale & Meatball Scramble

One of the best cookbooks of last year would have to be Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. We’ve made a lot of awesome dishes out of it & I was surprised we hadn’t given this particular recipe a spin yet. Braised Eggs with Lamb, Tahini & Sumac was an absolute ripper of a dish which Michael could not get enough of. Toasted pine nuts & pistachios tangled with spiced-up mince & roasted tomatoes, topped with eggs: Sold.

Braised eggs with lamb

Finally, although Valentine’s Day is a bit of a non-event in this household, I couldn’t resist making a chocolatey extravaganza for dessert on Friday night. This Coconut & Chocolate Tart was simple to put together & when topped with some figs & crushed macadamias, went down a charm with my Valentine. (Pro tip: drizzle coconut butter on top… Yeahhhh)

Coconut & Chocolate tart

Hope you’ve got some delicious things planned for dinner at your place this week!

Things I Love Thursday: 12 Sep

Here’s what’s been floating my boat this week 🙂

  • Researching all things Paleo! This meal planning template was a particularly useful find.
  • Pinterest funnies, especially this:

  •  Celebrating the birthday of my best friend since forever on the weekend. Friendship established 1992 & still going strong!
    Nina's birthday

    Here we are as chubby-faced primary schoolers 🙂

  • LOVE GRIT! Is it a tough workout? Here’s my post-GRIT face… Pooped!post grit
  • This Paleo Pizookie recipe with this banana ice cream recipe… Decadent but still a tick in the technical paleo book!

Paleo pizookie

  • And on banana ice cream: OMG!? I’d seen this article from The Kitchn before but just thought it was a bit of a beat up, or that I’d need some fancy-schmancy Thermomix-style blender. Ahhh no! It is pure magic! I shared the recipe with a workmate & he’s now using it as a bribery tool with his toddler. Bribery with just a frozen, blended banana – so simple! Just make it. You’ll see.

21 ways to get from paleo to delicious

The internet is rife with all manner of paleo resources – the good, the bad, the delicious and the downright ridiculously devilish (Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, I’m looking at you).

Even though the guidelines of paleo eating may sound restrictive, there’s so much you can do beyond a slab of meat & a pile of steamed greens. I thought I’d put together this little slideshow of some of our paleo meals from the last few weeks to stoke the fires of creativity & point out some great paleo websites I’ve discovered along the way.

One more thing we crack on, I’ve read a lot around the traps about this way of eating being known for an over-reliance on meat. Long before starting to align our eating with paleo, we had enjoyed a tradition of a weekly “Meat Free Monday” dinner where vegetarian food was the no-excuses order of the evening. Interestingly given this criticism of paleo, we’ve continued this tradition without too much of a battle and I’ve included a few of these meals below.

The next chapter: Hello Paleo!

There’s change afoot in our household.

For the last 3 weeks, we’ve been eating to Paleo rules. That is:

  • Lots of vegetables & fruit
  • Plenty of meat & eggs & seafood too
  • A good dose of nuts & other healthy fats

Sounds good right?

Well, there’s only a slight catch. Excluded from paleo eating are:

  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Grains
  • Sugar (mostly refined – some occasional honey & real maple syrup are cool)

So, other than for a couple of celebrations where we indulged a little, we’ve binned the tinned chickpeas, left the dairy farmers in the lurch and kept the bag rice buried in the top of the pantry.

“But for what incredible benefit would you now avoid blue cheese??”, I hear you cry. Well, we’ve been really surprised at the benefits of eating this way and, to be honest, how easy it’s been to stick to.

For the last few years, I’ve had a gluten intolerance so that’s kinda helped us get used to the no grains bit a little but, don’t get me wrong, we did have brown rice, polenta and oats queued up, along with tins upon tins of cannelini & kidney beans, lentils & corn kernels.

Like I’m sure many young women do, I’ve always tried to stick to low-calorie options, squirming whenever more than a quarter of an avocado came my way & trying to think happy thoughts when chowing into fat-free tuna in springwater with cucumber on paper-thin 60-calorie wraps.

It feels positively wild putting 150 grams of chicken and half an avocado in a hearty salad at lunch time but you know what, it fills me up so much more than the traditional low calorie, low fat diets we are normally pushed towards for optimal health. I no longer snack between breakfast & lunch. I have a pre-gym snack before I leave work in the afternoon & a recovery mini-meal post-gym. And then it’s dinner time. We haven’t given up the two squares of quality dark chocolate after dinner but beyond that, we’re paleo all the way, baby!

We’ve lost a couple of kilos, actually feel hungry by meal times but never hangry (a major issue for me previously!) and, this is purely our experience, but we’re finding our tastebuds have been totally re-invigorated.

This is merely the beginning – we started out thinking we’d stick to it for a month & see how things went but now, after 3 weeks, I can’t think of eating any other way.

I’ll post more about our paleo adventures here. Don’t worry, it’s not all zucchini and beef: there’s some seriously indulgent things you can do with a bag of almonds, a handful of dates and an avocado.

You might have heard of caveman style eating? This is it. Forget all processed “food”; if it needs more than a quick steam or a sizzle in the pan to become edible, there’s a very good chance it ain’t paleo, sister. If you want to read more about the whole deal, hit up paleo gurus Robb WolfStupid Easy Paleo or Eat Drink Paleo for more information.  

Melbourne: 19-23 June

For my birthday this year, we escaped to Melbourne for food, footy & adventures. We stayed at The Grand Hotel (lives up to its name!), bought Hawks scarves to fit in with the locals at the AFL & ate beautiful food at Rosetta, MovidaCumulus Inc, (& boozed at it’s upstairs brother, Cumulus Up) and plenty of other quality locals. That’s one thing about Melbourne – you really can’t go wrong!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins

Now do I have your attention?

Ha! The Gluten Free Goddess appears to have had a little makeover and I needed a re-visit after a long day spent recovering from a gluten hangover (Well if I have to eat your pizza, I have to eat your pizza!)

While I was looking for dinner inspiration, this recipe for Gluten-Free Chocolate Muffins quite obviously distracted me. Definitely one to print off & try!

Summer gazpacho

Along with a leopard-print blouse, lilac nail polish & a $39 glass of Veuve, today I purchased lunch at Sydney’s 3-hatted Est. restaurant: workplace of my chef brother Josh (@mrniland on the Twit).

While I only ordered 2 dishes (salt cod beignets & the mulloway fillet with witlof & agro dolce – both of which were awesome, especially the beignets) the kitchen also sent me out these two dishes:

The prettiest, daintiest gazpacho ever…

Scallops served with ribbons of cured tuna belly…

Needless to say, after eating the majority of Sydney’s seafood quota for lunch, I was ridiculously full & could only manage 2 of the 5 delish petit fors served with my dear-lord-please-help-me-digest-this-feast peppermint tea.

Partying on a school night

A Chinese feast, a bottle of Sangiovese rose & one of the best gigs I’ve seen in a long time add up to one fabulous Monday night!

Breakfast beauty: Chorizo omlette

Damn straight I’m awesome in the kitchen. Ima gonna make me a good wife someday!

30 pounds of mac & cheese

So apparently Oprah did eat the whole wheel of cheese*. More specifically, she ate half an Olsen twin worth of mac & cheese when she started spiraling into depression years back. (Watch the interview snippet for more)

When it comes to comfort food, I’ve found that the best benefit comes from eating tasty goodness that has some nutritional qualities; ie, not plastic cheese-coated pasta.

Did you know brown rice is loaded with magnesium, a mineral which does wonders for ones mental health & anxiety levels? Or what about raising a sweat, upping your metabolism & getting some vitamin-boosting veggies into you with a chilli-laden stirfry?

If cheesy carbs assist you like nothing else to lift your mood or enable momentary wallowing though, try mashing potato (bonus points for using sweet potato!) with a whack of minced garlic, a good sprinkling of salt & pepper and a spoonful of ricotta – slightly cheesy goodtimes with a lot less regret than that which comes with 30 pounds of mac & cheese.

Honestly. Is that some kind of record? That’s a preschooler!

*Anchorman reference. You really should’ve known that already though. If you didn’t, get thee to blockbuster, stat.