Dang good healthy treats

Just recently, my husband and I got away and escaped life for a few days in the mountains. It doesn’t happen very often (time off) so we were stoked. :-)
Getting ready for our three nights away I started to gather a few healthy recipes that I wanted to try, this would be my first ‘vacation’ since going strict with- no grain or dairy in February of 2011. Even though I have been low-carb for 5 years, I always ate whatever I wanted ‘in the mountains.’ Not so anymore. Bye-bye splitting pizzas for dinner, eating waffles for breakfast, grilled cheese sandwiches and chips for lunch and ice cream for late night snack. I knew it was going to be tough because I had come to identify ‘time-off’ with these foods. So I made sure I had plenty of nuts & dates (my favs), some coconut milk ice cream and a couple of healthy treat recipes. (Along with proteins, veggies and fruit, of course.)
So what recipes did I try? Two.. Sweet potato brownies and Caramel pecan bars.
Both from a new (to me) website called Paleomg.com that you MUST check out. There are a ton of awesome recipe sites for healthy eaters that I’m discovering and some oldies but goodies that I go to regularly as well. (I’ll post the links in a bit)
So back to my baking. Oh wow. I LOVED these recipes!

First up- Sweet potato brownies
If you’re wondering if you can taste the sweet potato, the answer is no. And baking the sweetpo vs. boiling or microwaving worked best for me with just the right moisture level. I used a medium sized potato but I wouldn’t stress about the size too much. :-)
I also added half a cup of pecans to mine, because, well, I love nuts.. in everything.

These were also great heated up with some coconut milk ice cream on top and of course some more nuts. lol

Next up: Caramel Pecan Bars
Ok, these were sinful. straight up. I ate a lot of them and didn’t apologize for it. It’s probably because I love dates and nuts so much.. nah, forget that, my husband even loved these beauties! Juli recommends cooking them in a loaf pan, the only thing I would change would be to cook them in a 8×8 glass cooking dish, it will make them a little thinner but they will go a little farther, lol.

I didn’t have a food processor for the ‘caramel’ topping, just an Ultimate Chopper, remember those? Yeah, I’m old school. Well, that’s why you see chunks of dates in my caramel vs. Juli’s. And for some reason my bars came out darker, but I wasn’t complaining, they were dang delicious.
So, give these two recipes a go if you’re in the mood for a healthy treat! The Sweet potato brownies freeze very well, for you know, portion control, lol and the Caramel pecan bars, I have no idea, there were non left over to freeze. gulp. :-)

Here’s a few of my favorite recipe sites, check them out!
Paleomg.com
The Urban Poser
Your Lighter Side
Civilized Caveman Cooking
Fast Paleo
I’m sure I forgot someone.. grr.
What are your favorite healthy cooking websites or recipes?

Here’s me.. in the mountains. Catrina+mountains= Happy. :-)

Staying on track at a party

Even if you didn’t know what the date was, you would know the year-end holidays were right around the corner by all the articles that pop up about surviving holiday parties when you’re dieting. They’re everywhere. But as I’m writing this, we’re heading into Summer, which for my family means lots of back yard birthday bar-b-ques, etc.
So what do you do when you’re heading to an event where you know there’s going to be lots of forbidden foods? Do you just say, “oh, well.” and plan on getting back on track the next day? Do you try and tough it out? How much is too much?
So here are some standard tips:
1. Don’t go hungry.
2. Don’t drink your calories.
3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.
5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
These are all good tips, but lets break these down a little bit..

1. Don’t go hungry.
I happen to think this is a really great tip (this also could be applied when going to the grocery store, by the way), because when we’re hungry, our defenses our down, we pretty much want to eat everything in site because, dang-it we’re hungry! Something happens when we get to that level of hunger, we don’t think as clearly, we stop thinking about our goals and all our hard work because all that’s on our mind is eating. This seems like such a simple tip, one that would be so easy to do, just grab 2-3 ounces of protein or a handful of nuts before you walk out the door so you’re not starving when you get there. But I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people (who are trying to lose fat) say, “oh well, I can start over on Monday.” Or a hundred other ways to say- “I have no self control.”
You already know this but do you mind if I say it again?

Your success will be equal to your work

Little work will always equal little success and lots of hard work will always equal great success. This doesn’t just apply in the gym where we tend to think of the ‘work’ it also pertains to what we don’t do and what we don’t eat.  For me, that’s just as tough. But I approach an event or party the same way I approach a workout, with determination and grit. It’s no different to me. I want to succeed in my workout just as bad as I want to succeed in not getting off track at a party.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that once you’ve tried something that’s forbidden (and this can apply to anything) it gets easier and easier to give in to it, till your defense is completely gone. Well, the opposite is also true, when you resist something that’s forbidden you get stronger and every time you resist it,
it gets easier and easier to do so, till it’s no longer a temptation.

Off the top of my head I have successfully stayed on track through 7 events in the last 2 months. What, am I counting? Uh… yeah! I love being able to say that. While so many around me are making excuses and already regretting, I’m holding the line. I’m just as proud of that number as I am for new personal records I set in my workouts.
So, that got a little long winded, bottom line: eat something healthy before you go (no really.. do it!) and approach your eating with the same determination that you do your workouts.

2. Don’t drink the kool-aid, i.e. stick to drinking water.
You’ve heard it a thousand times- don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories, don’t drink your calories. Right? You know that, right? :-) They’re more concentrated and you can easily go overboard with one sugary beverage (and who drinks just one soda?). So… what are you doing… drinking your calories? Try sticking to ice cold water (Yum!) or unsweetened ice tea with lemon to get you through, you’ll be glad you did.

3. Don’t hang out by the food/snack table.
This  is pretty obvious, but in case it’s not, let me explain. You’ve heard the expression- out of site out of mind, right? Well, that makes the opposite, also true. If its right there within eyesight and you can see the food and smell the food, etc. it’s almost impossible to resist getting seconds or thirds, or grazing when it’s so close by. It’s also, nearly impossible to stop thinking about the food and focusing on it and telling yourself- one more wont hurt. Just try getting your food, walking away from the table, sitting down with some friends and making the event about relationships and good times without the food being the focus. After all, it’s usually the conversations that make a get-together memorable, not the food.

4. Allow yourself one small treat so you don’t feel deprived.. well, maybe.
If you’re someone who can eat just one cookie or one small handful of chips, this tip is for you. If you’re not, it’s not. Some people can eat a very good meal even in the face of great temptation if they know they will get to have a small treat afterwords. Small being the key word. While others, cannot have that treat without it sending them into a downward spiral. So basically you need to be honest with yourself. You know you best. For me, it just depends on the day and I have to be honest on that day about which category I fall into. Typically though, I steer clear of all goodies and bad foods and go with an extra portion of fruit salad. While fruit is allowed on a Paleo/Primal diet, I don’t eat very much, so this would be a treat for me. This decision can really make or break your success, so decide before the event what you’re going to do and ask someone to hold you accountable for it.

5. Offer to bring food to the event so you’ll at least know you have something to eat.
This is a fantastic way to prepare a delicious dish that everyone will love AND make sure you have a side to enjoy with the meat that’s served. When you tell everyone it’s healthy and that YOU made it, they just might stop looking at you funny for eating your hamburger without the bun. Well, maybe.
Here are some great sites  that I use for delicious, healthy recipes:
http://www.yourlighterside.com/

http://fastpaleo.com/
http://www.civilizedcavemancooking.com/
Don’t be put off by the fact that these are low-carb or Paleo/Primal recipes, that just means that they use real, whole ingredients instead of processed ones, i.e. they’re healthy for you. :-)
So there you go, have a great time at your next event and approach it with confidence that you can not only survive but thrive with these tried and true tips. I would love to hear your strategies, and don’t forget to tell me in the comments below or on facebook how it went!