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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Tag Archives: cooking

Let’s talk sweet tooth.

I think most of us can agree that there are some things you hate passing up on, but at the same time you wish there was an alternative. I feel this way about doughnuts and cupcakes, but I won’t lie those are sacred and I will never try to find a replacement.

When I started flexible dieting the idea of protein cheesecake was one of the most glorious concepts ever. I’ve tried different recipes,  one or two maybe posted on this blog, but as I’ve evolved in my knowledge of flexible dieting and exhausted myself in the kitchen, I realized some things can’t be completely left out just to make something healthy taste like the real thing.

Right now I’m talking about fat.

Last week, I played with a new protein powder I bought on sale – mocha cappuccino from Optimum Nutrition. It’s a whey isolate, which is different than a blend. It’s thinner for one, but it also doesn’t add fluffy or thickness like a casein blend does when mixed with other things.

To make cheesecake no- bake I couldn’t use whole eggs, but I knew I needed to keep fat somewhere otherwise the texture would be spongey and while I can tolerate that, I don’t want to if I don’t have to. This is something I’ve dealt with when making other recipes, but I’m over that nonsense. Either it needs to have some fat to be smooth or I don’t want it.

My fat source was light cream cheese, enough fat to have flavor and texture, but less than normal so that my macros wouldn’t be blown out of the water.

What happened in the kitchen was magical and I felt kind of silly for not trying to find a no-bake recipe sooner. So here it is. Play with it and let me know your thoughts!

What You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces of cream cheese – I used the store brand’s light cream cheese
  • Vanilla extract to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda – or any sweetener
  • 46g of egg whites/3 tablespoons of egg whites
  • 2 scoops of protein powder – I used whey isolate
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – I used 0% to bring the overall fat content down
  • Keebler graham cracker crust pieces

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add cream cheese. Put in the microwave to soften. Heat for 20-30 seconds at a time. I needed about a minute and 20 seconds.
  2. With a hand blender, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add yogurt and blend. You don’t need to use 0%, but if you’re trying to keep the total fat content down then it’s highly suggested.
  3. When thoroughly mixed add vanilla extract. I used 2 teaspoons, but this is completely on preference. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add in egg whites and 1 tablespoon of Splenda. At this point it should taste like cheesecake, this is the basic form.
  5. Pick your protein and add it slowly while blending with the hand mixer and scraping the sides as needed. I used a whey isolate, using a casein blend may make it thicker – if that’s the case a little almond milk or water may help with consistency.
  6. Since I track my macros very closely I weighed the total batter and then divided by the amount of servings I wanted. For this I wanted 4. These macros are slightly rough, but it’s really the best way to be as accurate as possible.
  7. I divided the filling into 4 mason jars for easy storage and travel. I let them sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before consuming.
  8. I topped the cheesecake filling with 1 tablespoon of crushed graham cracker from Keebler. You could also use the mini pie shells Keebler makes or Goldfish grahams.

Macros for just the filling: 9.6F/5.8C/15.5P – nutrition may vary depending on protein and cream cheese used.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! What protein do you think you would want to try using for your filling?

❤ Cristina

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Yesterday marked the last day of my third week reversing my diet since the Cutler Classic. To say this week was easy would be a lie, but to say it was hard would be a stretch too.

At the beginning of the week I was traveling for work. Just like prep, I researched what was around my hotel as far as food options, I looked into a gym facility because getting my workout in even when traveling is important to me. Lastly, I packed snacks and loosely prepared meals i.e. pancakes for Pancake Monday.

I hit the gym like I do every Sunday morning, but it was important that I get in and out and home to pack. My flight took off in the afternoon, just before dinner, so I knew that I needed to have something to eat on the plane. My last meal at home was lunch and knowing that my flight wouldn’t land until 8 with an additional hour of driving in the car, I spread my meals out a little differently.

Lunch was higher in protein and lower in carbs because I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of food too fast.

Sunday’s lunch: chicken with mushrooms, peppers and onions topped with salsa and jalapenos

For dinner, I essentially packed the same thing I had at lunch, sans jalapenos and I used a different spice blend.I had never been more thankful that dinner didn’t smell as I was when I opened the bag on the plane. No one wants to be that guy.

I also packed some snacks. Sarah sent me S’mores Boom Chica Pop Popcorn and it was a great snack to try on the plane. It says “I can be dessert if you pretend I am.”

And because I know I get hungry at specific times of the day, like 8ish at night when my dessert usually takes place, I packed a protein bar to try on my drive to the hotel. It was a newly released bar and I was so excited to try it. Sadly, this one just didn’t hit the spot an I may have reviewed it on Instagram.

But have no fear, I do eat a lot so I had dessert when i got to the hotel room. I was able to try my 5th Cookie Department Cookie. It’s called Tough Cookie and is their peanut butter cookie. Amazing. Soft and chewy and I mean just amazing. This was really winning and probably the best way to close my macros for the night.

But, my night didn’t end at the hotel. The room had a number of issues, the biggest one being the door wouldn’t shut and close properly. I had no faith in the manager on duty, so I called a different hotel to check on room availability and I left. That was the end of that night.

I started my Monday off the best way I know how – at the gym. Since I was traveling and knew my options were limited, I snagged a day pass at Planet Fitness. It’s not my favorite place at all, but I figured I could get the job done.

I thought they were kidding when I saw this sign. However, when the “lunk alarm” went off around 6 am I knew they weren’t kidding. I have no idea what set it off because I was in the zone, but it scared the hell out of me and kind of made me uncomfortable. So I got in and our as fast as possible.

The rest of my trip was pretty amazing actually.

Like I said, I packed my pancakes, which always starts my week off right and I was happy to find some whip cream in the eating area of the new hotel.

I had some time and I explored for the beach.This was the first time in about 3 years that I had gone to the beach in a swim suit. I felt pretty awesome and to me, it was meaningful. I also brought Bella along for the sun and she enjoyed it too!

We explored the area a little bit and because I am a planner, I knew where to find a cupcake shop! We picked up a gorgeous chocolate cupcake and had it late Monday night for dessert.

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Tuesday started of with a beautiful sunrise before we headed back home.We also had a chance to celebrate Taco Tuesday at the airport! #IIFYM

After a flight of binge watching the Food Network, I came home and was prepared to get creative in the kitchen, but only after I hit the gym first.

Egg white and raspberry omelette with cream cheese, topped with blackberry and blueberry reduction sauce

I do love traveling for work, but there is something about grocery shopping and making your own food. I had a ton of fun making meals this week. I also got the latest issue of Food Network Magazine, which only furthers my addiction of getting busy in the kitchen.

Feta and Spinach Salmon burger with sriracha mayo and a glass of sweet red

Breakfast grilled cheese was a thing this week (recipe already posted!)

I tried some new to me foods this week.

Oh Yeah! has other bars that were much better than this one…

Sarah understands my desire for all the peanut butter.

I went to lunch with my coworkers and was able to make some pretty great decisions.Surprisingly, I do really well with eating out. Even through prep this wasn’t an issue, it was just a matter of looking ahead to make sure I had options. I loved what I tried, but I can’t wait to go back see what else this restaurant has to offer.

I celebrated a coworker who recently finished their masters degree. No one knew what snacks would be at the party we were having and I figure it was better to bring something than wish I had. So I made a protein brownie and stuffed it with break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough. There were a number of good decisions made for that dessert to happen. Also, when I got to the party the only healthy item was a bowl of strawberries, there were cakes, brownies and rice crispy treats otherwise. Planning ahead works for me and I’m glad I didn’t wing it.

Try About Time protein brownie with break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough

Even though I had gone out to lunch and had an office party, I had promised myself I would get out of my apartment Thursday night. I’m a part of MeetUp in my area and they had planned a social at a new restaurant in town. I had planned to go to this specific event a few weeks ago and was able to build a beer into my macros, which was an excellent way to finish them off. I also had some great conversations and got a few numbers so I can hang out with other locals outside of MeetUp.Being social locally is something I struggle with because I don’t work in the city I live in and I’m not originally from the city I live in. Going to the gym is easy; it’s my alone time and I don’t have to have a buddy to with, but exploring would be nice with a partner. Also, this gave me an excuse to wear jeans for the first since Sunday.

Friday brought more experimenting in the kitchen.

Egg whites and pumpkin spice Nuts N More on a cinnamon raisin English Muffin

Caramel Turtle Oats for lunch

I had my second pre-op appointment Friday afternoon and I talked about that here. Overall, I’m excited for the surgery. This surgery is necessary for my peace of mind, for me to feel comfortable with myself. I say it all the time, I’ve worked so hard the past few years and I’m so thankful that there’s a permanent way for me to show off the hard work. There are definitely a few things that make me nervous, such as the eating, but that’s why I’ve worked with my coach on a plan. We’ve talked about my macros in relation to recovery and no exercise and will be adjusting them accordingly. JP and I have talked about some things that he can make for me that will be nutrient dense so that I can reach my macro goals or come close to them.

In preparation because I am that planning girl, I have a box of some snacks I want eat through recovery. They include some Cliff bars (carbs), Combat Bars and FitCrunch (protein). There’s a few other bars I’ve added. We have also talked about pancakes and oatmeal as great carbs and protein sources that I can eat without too much effort. One piece of feedback I’ve gotten from a number of women who have had a similar surgery is that eating was a lot of effort and that they felt nauseous. I have been prescribed a medication to help with that, but I also have some small meals planned so I can eat quickly and not worry about the “rocking the boat”feeling.

Saturday brought my last exploration before surgery. I went into Boston with Bella to see the Boston Public Market, Fanueil Hall and to go to lunch. I also had the plan to pick up cupcakes because cupcaking has been something I’ve been enjoying since prep ended.

 

 

Lunch at Durgin Park

Farmer’s Market outside the Public Market

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August 2012 versus May 2016

Lastly,  while I sent in my progress photos and weight to Alaina in the morning like I do every Saturday, I did my write up for her last night.I’m just as impressed as she is that I’m handing this reverse to well. It’s 3 weeks post show and I’m only up .2 pounds from stage weight. I’m also eating more. Before my check-in I was up 5F and 33C. I knew that with this check-in that we would be increasing something this coming week. Proud to say that my body is loving these increases and we’ve increased fat again by 2g and carbs by another 10g.

Now, please don’t think this is all sunshine and cupcakes. After having focused on losing weight and being in a deficit for so long, increasing my food is hard mentally.  I love food and I think that’s clear by how I get creative in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get intimidated. I still believe in balance and vegetables and lean meats are a huge part of my diet, but now I can have a little more fun with other foods. That’s why I have been cupcaking about once a week since prep ended. I’m making up for lost cupcakes!

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am enjoying all aspects of food. I’m using it as fuel for my workouts, but I’m enjoying the experience of having a really great cream cheese frosting. I have grown in so many ways, but the past 3 weeks I haven’t really feared food or been concerned with weight gain like I believe I was early in my journey. Every day has new challenges, but I’m trying to live every day and have some fun. There is more to life than working out and while yes that is a big part of my life, I’m excited that I am enjoying all the other labels I am – cook, girlfriend, lifter, competitor, writer, movie lover.

It’s going to be an interesting summer, but let’s get through this week first.

Surgery is in 4 days. The countdown is real.

❤ Cristina

 

 


It’s only Saturday and I already feel like this weekend has been super productive. Not only did I clean the WHOLE apartment last night and clean 4 loads of laundry, today I cooked up a few things for the upcoming week.

I’m taking the necessary steps to prepare for a great week. Here’s the top 10 things I’ve done to keep myself sane.

1. Clean clothes are necessary and my papasan is cleaned out :]

2. I made paleo brownies (mix from Trader Joe’s) so I have a fun dessert this upcoming week to have with my lunches.

3. I booked my spot for the group training class at my gym for Wednesday. There were only 2 spots left last night, I’m so pumped that I got one of them!

4. I went for a run yesterday and it sucked, but it reminded me of why I constantly push myself. You’re not going to be successful every time, but the failures will make you try harder.

5. I love bacon, but I remembered why I don’t cook it often. The windows have been open ALL day. Still, it was amazing with my breakfast and my dinner tonight :]

6. Staying hydrated keeps me happy. I know this sounds funny, but I drink a lot more fluids when I’m home than when I’m away from my house. My energy levels are typically higher and my skin looks clearer. I’ve been best friends with my pitcher of unsweetened ice tea today.

7. I have a Netflix binge watching problem.

8. I went through my closet and posted a bunch of dress clothes on eBay and put a bunch in a box for donation. Size 8 here I come!

9. Making decisions that push you outside of your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing, it just means that you need to learn how to face those kinds of choices. Here’s to developing better relationships, with myself and others.

10. I’m going to late night happy hour with my friend Molly, bring on the sushi.

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paleo brownies!

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baking made easy

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Chicken, bacon and tomato wraps with low sodium bacon

Story of my life

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Vanilla coconut milk ice cream with sunflower butter and bananas. #almostpaleo

 


Seriously? Is it just me, or does this week seem to be flying by a little faster than it should? I’m not complaining because I love the weekends like the next person, but I kind of want to be like, can I get off this ride, it’s nap time!

Last night I had a work event so I was out super late and didn’t get to bed until later (11 ish, I’m getting old!), so I thought my lack of sleep would make today drag, but it didn’t. By the time I looked at the clock it was lunch time and I drooled over Don Draper watched Mad Men and ate my lunch. The afternoon went by just as fast as the morning and I got a chunk of work done.

Since I didn’t have to work at my retail job, I knew I wanted to get to the gym, but I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for tonight. I texted a friend of mine who teaches Zumba and does a class on campus a few times a week. I had taken her class when I was at my old gym and we stayed in touch. She said she was teaching tonight and I should come by. MUSIC TO MY EARS!

As soon as I got home, I got straight to business- changed into my workout clothes and made myself some dinner. Her class is from 730 to 830 and dinner after was out of the question.

 

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I made buffalo chicken salad with extra Frank’s Red Hot. I’m obsessed with hot sauce and I’ve been craving wings lately, so this was a good alternative. While there is some cheese on my salad, everything else I’ve eaten today was squeaky clean so a tiny bit wouldn’t hurt and I would rather get rid of it faster than have it sit around or throw it out (world hunger and all).

After all the eating I did today I feel pretty good. It’s day 3 and I’m way less bloated than I was on day 1. Changing my workouts up a bit is also feeling pretty good too. I’m pushing myself without feeling like I’m going to far or have the chance to injure myself.

After dinner I worked on a recipe post from the other night and then headed off to Zumba. I had never done any of the routines in this class, but I picked it up pretty fast. We did the Footloose line dance, and OMG your left leg gets such a workout! There needs to be a change up when you switch sides and use the right. I’m sure I’ll feel this in the morning.

I had some awesome energy after class so after I got home and showered I made two things to eat over the next few days: another pizza and paleo breakfast muffins. I put onions and mushrooms on this pizza because I had some left over veggies in the fridge. I definitely let it cook a little longer than the one from the other night, yay for crispy crust!

The breakfast muffins are actually on my 50 recipes in 2014 list and something I found on Pinterest, but the post is from another fellow WordPress blogger. Check out my post and check out Pop an Egg on It, the blog I got the recipe from.

Well with the momentum of the first three work days, tomorrow is packed so I’m heading to bed. Happy Hump Day!

 

❤ Cristina