Manic Monday (Cinch Core day 3)

Meal Plan for the next 3 Days:

Meals  Time
1) Almond butter blackberry toast  7 am
2) Cinnamon walnut apple crisp  11 am
3) Ricotta primavera penne  3 pm
4) Black bean tacos with cilantro-jalapeno-guacamole  7 pm






Today’s Workout:  Strength-training (upper-body) + 3-mile interval training with hill sprints! 


No matter how much you prepare, Mondays are always a little manic aren’t they?  It seems like I’m always rushing out the door in the nick of time.  Thank goodness for my well-stocked fridge…


Breakfast: Almond Butter Blackberry Toast.  Here’s some advice – don’t make it while wearing light-colored clothing!  Berry stains are the worst and somehow always end up on you.  I couldn’t quite imagine the blackberries staying put on the toast, so I portioned a little less than a cup and added a tiny bit of agave nectar, then mashed them into a jam before spreading them on my almond-butter toast.   I subbed almond butter for peanut butter because I prefer the taste, plus all we have is regular peanut butter with added oils and sugars and I don’t really want to invest in yet another jar to clutter up my pantry or fridge.  It was so yummy that I forgot to take a picture!  But then again, it just looked like an open-faced PB&J.  I was supposed to also have it with milk, but milk is also called for with my snack later, so I instead had a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese for my dairy. 


SnackCinnamon Walnut Apple Crisp.  I made 3 of these yesterday, so they were ready to go this morning.  I did not mix them entirely, since I was worried about the oats and walnuts getting soggy, so instead I chopped the apple and mixed it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon (I used a little extra lemon juice to prevent browning), then put the walnuts and oats in a separate snack-baggie and put both into a tupperware container.  Then when it was ready to enjoy my snack, I heated the apples in the tupperware, then mixed in the oats and walnuts.  It was very good, although I think it would be better if I were home and could bake it for a few minutes. 

(Whoops, forgot to show the walnuts, which were hand-picked in my grandmother's yard. It doesn't get any more natural than that!)


Lunch: Ricotta Primavera Penne.  I really wasn’t sure how good this would be re-heated, plus I ended up over-cooking the veggies and the finished product looked kinda ugly.  However I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually really good.  A couple of comments about the recipe… first off, how do you measure 1/2 cup of cooked pasta when it’s raw?  Sometimes there’s a handy little diagram on the box that shows you how much dry product to cook for a serving, but not this time.  I decided just to cook the whole box and then freeze the leftover (which I’ve done before and it works just fine).  Also, does anybody else wonder why so many recipes seem to call for an abundance of onion?  Not just Cinch, but a lot of recipes!  Don’t get me wrong – I like onion – but a 1/2 cup in a single bowl of pasta!?  I ended up using a 1/2 cup for all 3 servings combined and the flavor was just right.  I guess you have to be your own judge.  Also, be sure and only cook the veggies for a few minutes until “slightly tender”.  I ended up cooking them too long until they were soggy, but still tasted pretty good when it was all combined.  I’m sure it would have been even better if eaten immediately rather than cooled and re-heated.

As one reader pointed out, I haven’t mentioned my daily chocolate indulgence.  Yes, I’ve definitely been eating it!  Actually, I’ll be doing an entire blog about my dark-chocolate comparisons later this week.  I decided that I like my chocolate best right when I get home from work.  I’m usually hungry by the time I get home, so it’s my sinful little treat that holds me off until dinner.  Check back to see my chocolate taste-test… mmm.

Dinner: Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro-Jalapeno-Guacamole.  They aren’t pretty but they sure are tasty!  I was so full after I ate this, it felt like I’d completely blown my diet!  I wasn’t sure about the spinach, but it was actually really good.  I added 1 extra-small tomato for some color, plus I just love tomatoes.  I also decided to use a tiny bit of coconut oil (about 1 tsp) instead of the veggie broth to saute’ my veggies.  I work out a lot, so I figure I can afford to add a tiny bit extra with a couple meals a day to supplement my calorie deficit and prevent starvation mode.  I guess you can tell I like to sub.  =)  I know some of you are worried about subbing, and that’s understandable, but I’ve spent 10 years learning how to eat and sub healthy ingredients in recipes.  If the scale doesn’t budge for a couple of weeks, however, I’ll stop subbing and stick to the recipes.  I also made my “meatitarian” husband a version of this, omitting the onion, mushrooms, and avocado (all of which he does not like), and adding chicken and cheese.  He loved it!  And I was happy because he ate something besides meat and cheese!

Now it’s off to bed, full and happy from another successful day!

Cinch Core, Days 1 & 2

Weekend Workouts:  7 mile jog / walk + a few stregnth exercises (Saturday); P90x leg / back video (Sunday)

Just like Detox, the second time around is much easier.  However, I feel like I’m constantly watching the clock, wondering when it’s time to eat again.  Weekends are especially tough because my schedule is so much later.  During the week, it’s pretty easy to stick to a 7am / 11am / 3pm / 7pm schedule, because my work day is very structured.  Weekends, however, start later and often have a flurry of activity during the day that doesn’t allow for a home-cooked meal.  This is where healthy subs and learning how to make the right choices at restaurants will come in handy.  So now let’s discuss the food! 

We had the Fruity Waffle Sundaes for breakfast both days, one of my favorites so far!  I made them as directed in the Shape Magazine, except the first day I subbed a big spoonful of no-sugar-added Comstock cherries for the dried version, and pistachios for pumpkin seeds.  I’m pretty sure Cynthia would not recommend these cherries for her recipes since they’re loaded with artificial sweeteners, but they are delicious, and I had a 1/2 can in my fridge that needed to be used.  On Day 2, I used the dried cranberries, as listed in the book.  My husband’s larger version (2 waffles instead of 1) is shown below.  Also, I finally found fruit-juice sweetened cranberries on Amazon, and they are DELICIOUS!!  Click on the cranberry picture below to see them on Amazon.

Fruity Waffle Sundae (man-size with 2 waffles)


For snack, we had the Parmesan Popcorn with Cranberries, with a few alterations.  I chose to use Smart Pop Kettle Korn instead of making my own, and used a drizzle of coconut oil instead of sunflower.  On day 1 we paired it with dried cranberries and on day 2 we had fresh grapes.  Also, the parmesan cheese seemed like an odd combo with the coconut popcorn, so we instead had a Laughing Cow cheese wedge (35 calories each), which I had bought for the Sonoma Snack later this week.  I chose the Queso Fresco Chipoltle variety.  YUM!! 

Do you like coconut oil?  I discovered it about a year ago and have been using it in place of butter and other oils ever since, but only recently discovered the Nutiva brand, which is hands down the best I’ve tried.  First off, I discovered in the Cinch book that there is a big difference in processing between regular coconut oil (like I found in the baking aisle of my grocery store) and Virgin coconut oil, which is cold-pressed and not mechanically processed, similar to the process for producing olive oil.  The taste difference is also a huge factor.  The other brands I’ve tried are basically tasteless, but the Nutiva has a slight smell and taste of coconut, which I LOVE!  Click on the coconut oil below for a link to see on Amazon.

Popcorn Snack ingredients

Popcorn Snack (for 2 people)

I subbed the 3rd meal for a Black Bean & Mango Salad (see recipes page) so I could use up some leftover items in my fridge.  Once again, it provides all of the puzzle pieces.  Black beans provide both complex carbs (in place of whole grains), plus protein and fiber, then the mango, peppers, onion, and jalapeno provide the produce, and a little olive oil is the plant-based fat.  It’s one of my very favorite recipes – check it out on my Favorite Recipes page!

The last meal of the day is the Avocado Tostadas, which were really good and tasted very fresh.  However, as depicted below, the 1-cup of lettuce basically took over the plate!  I ended up folding them like tacos, forcing the gob of lettuce inside.  I also made my husband his own version, adding some chicken and basically leaving off all the veggies (he’s a self-proclaimed “meatitarian”), but he did eat a salad (loaded with cheese, bacon, and ranch).  Anyway, back to my dinner… has anyone else struggle to find decent tomatoes this time of year?  I recently discovered Campari tomatoes at my local Kroger (see below / click picture for more info), and they’re worth the extra money.  Lime was also a big hit in this dish.  I added some to the avocado and then also squeezed some more on the finished tostadas. 

Avocado Tostadas

Campari tomatoes (click on picture)

All of the recipes this weekend were very, very, good…. but small.  It’s going to take some time to adjust to the smaller meals.  Don’t get me wrong, I was full once my food digested, but after a lifetime of infrequent, huge meals, it just felt like I needed more food.  It was nice, however, not to have that too-full, bloated feeling. 

I spent about an hour this morning prepping food for the next 3 days.  My fridge is full and beautiful!  Enjoy your Sunday!  I’m off to the grocery for a few forgotten ingredients…