I have (somehow) completed week 1 of the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve been following the daily preparations since last Saturday evening when I bought the veggies and greens, washed them and packed them accordingly. It felt good; less bloated, less stomach rumbling or discomfort after eating, better bowel movements, fewer hunger storms because of stomach satisfaction and a general feeling of well-being.
If you think I’m taking this challenge to lose weight, you are partially wrong. The main reason behind it is to eat well and eat enough. Not more nor less. It’s true that I cook but I am not always well prepared for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Whenever I don’t cook (which is happening quite a lot lately) I take from whatever mom cooked the night before. Otherwise I choose from the various bland similar tasting dishes at the cafeteria at work or go out and grab a burger or a pizza at some place close.
It’s not only about lunch, breakfast is hassle too when I don’t feel like a sandwich every morning. Because I wake up late most of the time and have no time to make and eat breakfast, I used to end up most of the time having coffee and digestive cookies on my desk. Same thing for the afternoon snack. I’d finish half a pack a day.
HELLO EVEN BIGGER BELLY!
I’ve been promising my body to stop these things and eat better.
Every single Monday.
Do these promises ever work?
I guess that’s why this challenge starts on Sunday. I’ve done 6 days and I haven’t cheated despite the temptations. I have to say though I craved a cup of coffee one day and a fatty fast food meal on another. It was not my body craving them, but my mind. It even made me smell those cravings while I’m at the office and nothing of that is close. My mind played tricks on me. Although I was having way less calories, I was getting enough food to keep my full between meals. In my head I wanted more.
During the week, the meal planning cuts down carbs, sugars and fats (except those from avocados and olive oil), a change from my previous diet routine. I weighed myself and I was surprised to see that I’m 3 kg less than what I weighed 2 weeks ago. If only I paired this with some exercise I would have been feeling and looking a lot better but the past week has been busy with preparing my dinner and lunch for the day after and some extra work I had to do after my day job.
I recommend this planning. It’s easy and there’s nothing fancy in the process. The instructions are detailed and cooking is a breeze when everything is planned ahead. If you read the comments on buzzfeed you’ll find people nagging about the high cost and insufficient calories. It is low in calories indeed but the types of food included are studied to keep you full until your next meal. Concerning the cost, you are buying unprocessed food and making 3 meals per day including snacks for 7 days. You need around 100$ for the first week keeping in mind that one should have the basic ingredients like salt, pepper and oil and basic utensils like an oven, a stove, some pans and lots of storage containers. I allowed myself to replace a few ingredients like cooking dry chickpeas instead of using canned, using carrots, strawberries, peaches instead of asparagus, blackberries/blueberries, and mango for unavailability or ridiculously high prices. I bought oats, chickpeas and nuts in bulks, used quinoa from my pantry and made my own almond butter.
The only things you’re not allowed to have are alcohol, red meats and coffee. I had to order TEA at Starbucks. Blasphemy. But it was OK, I had good tea. I stopped the detox on Saturday and had coffee and ate the same food my family is eating.
The good thing about this plan is that it used all the fresh ingredients. Nothing is wasted. It asks you to prepare big batches ahead of time and use in recipes in the days after which saves a lot of time. Prepare the next day’s breakfast, lunch, and snack while preparing dinner.
Speaking of dinner, here is one recipe I never expected I’d like:
CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH LENTILS
Makes 1 serving
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
- 1 cup Big Batch Cooked Lentils (recipe below)
- Preheat oven to 450°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the cauliflower head stem-side down on the cutting board and cut two 1inch-thick slices of cauliflower from the center (the biggest part), starting at the top and cutting through stem end.
- Rub the two cauliflower steaks with ½ tablespoon of olive oil (total, so ¼ tablespoon on each), transfer to the parchmentlined
- baking sheet, and sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Roast the cauliflower steaks for 15 minutes, then flip the steaks and roast for another 15 minutes.
- The steaks are done when they’re browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
- Put the cauliflower steaks on a plate and top with 1 cup of the lentil mixture, then sprinkle with parsley.
BIG BATCH COOKED LENTILS
Makes 2 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely minced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup dry lentils, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons tamari, divided
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- In a medium saucepan with a lid, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add minced shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and starting to soften, about a minute.
- Add paprika, lentils, water, and 1 tablespoon tamari, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 4555 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
- Remove pot from the heat and let the lentils sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon tamari and the apple cider vinegar.
- Cool completely before storing leftovers. Lentils will keep for up to 5 days refrigerated in an airtight container.
The rest of the cauliflower is roasted and used in an omelette for breakfast and the lentils for dinner days after.