Sunday, January 25, 2015

whole life challenge week 1: and i didn't even kill anyone

Week one of the Whole Life Challenge is done -- I survived a week without dairy. A week without bread. A week without added sugar. Okay, if I'm being honest -- a week with MUCH less added sugar. As much as I've been label reading to cut down on sugar, it's impossible to nix it entirely, and I refuse to drive myself crazy trying.

I went through some pretty terrible sugar and/or carbohydrate withdrawal earlier this week. I was lethargic, cranky and had an awful headache for two days straight. I felt like death for all of Tuesday. I was so tired by the end of the day that I had to take a 15 minute nap in my car before going climbing. By Wednesday, my energy levels were starting to rebound and my headache was just letting up and then.. I started sneezing uncontrollably. Of course I have since come down with a nasty cold. I doubt that one is related to the other but the cold has really made me crave carb-y comfort foods. I'm also trying to deal with the fact that things aren't as sweet as I'm used to. Sounds obvious, since I've cut out most of the added sugar from my diet. I'm hoping that eventually my taste buds will "reset" and I won't crave overly sweetened foods.

Despite the headaches and coming down with the plague, I managed to have a good week. I even had the chance to do a little experimenting in the kitchen.
  • Mint Chocolate Larabars: I learned a few lessons from this one: 1. Soak the dates before using them and 2. CUT the dates before throwing them into the food processor -- not doing so resulted in me almost destroying my little food processor (which is okay, because it led me to purchase a nicer, bigger one with a more powerful motor). If I had soaked and chopped the dates before starting, then I probably would have been able to get everything to the correct consistency. Texture-wise they start to crumble when they get back to room temperature. Taste-wise? They're delicious and I'll definitely try this recipe again.
  • Coconut Chia pudding: I don't have a link because I combined a few different recipes. I used 1 1/2 cups almond/coconut milk, 1/4 cup chia seeds, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, and a handful of blueberries. I put it in a jar and shook it every 10 minutes for the first half an hour and then let it sit in the fridge overnight. 
  • Banana Coconut Macaroons: I didn't use full fat coconut milk, so I found the mixture to be waaaay too watery. I made the executive decision to add some unsweetened cocoa powder and that seemed to hold it together pretty well. I love macaroons - though of course the ones I usually eat are full of added sugars, so I wasn't sure how much I'd like these. I was pleasantly surprised - the very ripe banana that I used added a good amount of sweetness. These are great for those times when I just need a little snack. 
  • Green smoothie -- with a twist: I've made a lot of kale and/or spinach smoothies, but this time I tried something new: I added half an avocado to a mixture of banana, kale, peanut butter, and coconut/almond milk. And you know what? It was delicious. Creamy, rich, and perfect for breakfast. 
For week two, I'm going to focus on getting a little more creative with my dinner options. Last week consisted mostly of turkey chili and and chicken noodle soup (hold the egg noodles -- my favorite part!). I have a few ideas in mind, starting with mashed cauliflower and buffalo chicken quinoa. I also think I need a few more meals that involve bacon because, well, bacon.

Have you ever done the Whole Life Challenge, or something similar? Any recipes that you love and want to pass along? Share 'em!  

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