Generic trail mix is the worst

Let’s talk about snacking for a hot second.

I love snacks. Okay, really I just love eating. Eating is my jam. So most times of the day you can find me close to a meal or a snack. I have a solid rotation of healthy (or healthyish) snacks that I turn to and one such snack is trail mix.

I don’t mean to be a brand snob but I rock the Planters Nut & Fruit Trail Mix on the regular. It’s a pretty classic trail mix; the kind your momma used to make you. Or the kind you made for yourself in bulk as a college student when you when spent your summer at a stage combat  workshop and needed to take in like 3000 calories a day because helloooo flailing a broadsword and shield around all day is no easy feat my friend.

It’s not trying to be a cool super healthy trail mix that doesn’t have any sweets. It’s a relatively healthy snack, better for you than chips, and provides some healthy fats and energy. It’s not one of the “less peanuts” versions because peanuts are a high-fat nut and everybody is mad at them and almonds are all the rage for nut butter or whatever.

Recently, I wasn’t able to buy the standard Planters fair (Oh Costco and Target have good ones too) and was relegated to buy the store brand at the crappy market by my house.

To sum it up: basically my life is the worst right now with this stupid trail mix. I don’t want to be super wasteful so I just keep eating it. I’m mad because it’s turned my two-step trail mix eating process into a three-step process which also is basically the worst.

Let’s break it down.trailmixx

I typically sort my trail mix serving into two piles. The M&Ms in one pile and the rest of the trail mix in the other. This allows me to grab one small handful of the “other” pile at a time, mixing in an M&M every handful or so to keep it exciting. This also makes sure that I have at least a tiny pile of M&Ms at the end. Because really, I’m only eating the trail mix as an excuse to pretend I’m healthy while eating M&Ms.

Yes, I know I have disordered eating tendencies. No, this is not the only example. Let’s just move right along.

  1. The nuts and other bits. Some nuts. Some raisins. Pretty standard fare trail mix sort of things happening. There’s more of this stuff than chocolate, per the rules of trail mix, but you really kind of just gave up here, didn’t you, generic trail mix maker? I mean sure, all I really want is the peanuts but you’re supposed to add in some almonds are cashews or something so I can feel better about it.
  2. The chocolate. I want to say M&Ms because no trial mix is complete without M&Ms but this is store brand so you know these aren’t M&Ms. These are like, “chocolate coated candies” or some shit. They’re not winning any chocolate awards (are those a thing?) but they’re acceptable. That’ll do, pig.
  3. The seeds. Holy seeds, Batman. You’ll notice in the picture that there is a pile of seeds, #3, and that there are also seeds in pile #1. Why are there also seeds in pile #1? Because this is the correct ratio of seeds to trail mix. This is the pile that I will allow to mix with my chocolate coated candies. Why is there an entire pile of seeds otherwise? Because WHY ARE THERE SO MANY SEEDS IN THIS BAG?!? Look, maybe you’re trying to make your “Sweet & Salty” mix look cooler since you didn’t throw in almonds, or maybe the person in charge of approving this mix is really into seeds, or maybe you just said “Let’s rain down on them with seeds. SEEEEEEEEEDS.” I don’t know what your deal is but I’m over it, generic trail mix. I’m still eating a large portion of this mix because I don’t want to be wasteful but what in the actual anything am I supposed to do with a leftover carton of sunflower seeds? Sprinkle them around when I take the dog out for a walk like I’m Johnny Sunflowerseed? Bag them up and take them to a food pantry? WHAT, I ask you. WHAT do you expect me to do with this nonsense?

I can’t even with you right now, generic trail mix. You continue to force me to pay extra for my pre-mixed bag of things I could totally mix together myself if I wasn’t so damn lazy.

You’re ruining my life.

Does anyone want some seeds?

 

Failventures: frozen Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is kind of a big deal these days. Everyone with an interest in healthy eating is all about Greek yogurt. And — unlike other hip health foods — it’s not totally disgusting (I’m looking at you, coconut water). It’s chock full of protein, incredibly filling, and you could try a new Greek yogurt recipe every day for the rest of your life and still not try them all.

Peoples be loving the Greek yogurt.

So, as a person with an obsession for frozen yogurt and a desire to eat healthier whenever I can, I’ve dabbled a bit in using Greek yogurt to make my own frozen yogurt concoctions at home. Some of them are great (peanut butter yogurt omnomnom) and some of them… well some of them are failventures…

>> cue swipe graphic

After stalking Pinterest for my standard 500 hours a week, I had two brilliant ideas I decided to tackle. Watermelon frozen yogurt and chocolate frozen yogurt.

They sound delicious, right?!

IMG_7279Re: Watermelon

There’s a zillion recipes online that call for mixing some variant of a Jello powder (or Jello) with Greek yogurt.

Re: Chocolate

There’s a zillion recipes online that call for mixing Nesquik with Greek yogurt.

The interesting thing about both of these is that it seems people on specific diets (South Beach, maybe?) and diabetics have a lot of input. They’re big on making these two things happen in a sugar-free kind of way. I have no interest in using either sugar-free Jello or sugar-free Nesquik.

Sugar-free is not my jam. I’ll occasionally get down with sugar-free if it’s sweetened with Stevia but even then it’s a stretch. I eat regular, wild and crazy, white sugar. I know that as far as the blogging world is concerned sugar is basically the devil and whatever, but I’m fine with sugar. To a certain point. I’m not going to be eating your “fruit flavored” yogurt with 32 grams of sugar in it. Hard pass. But sugar in moderation is fine by me. I’m not a fan of fake sweeteners and I have no reason to use them because I have no dietary restrictions regarding sugar.

TO THE SUGAR MOBILE!

So anyway, if you take a gander online you can find a plethora of recipes for both strategies. Some people mix other things in, some people use actual Jello instead of the packet, some people cook the Jello or Nesquik powder with water before mixing, some people wear the containers on their heads as tiny hats (you do you, bro). There’s a lot of suggestions and I decided that since I’m not particularly fancy I would go ahead and keep it simple. I was just going to mix the powders into the Greek yogurt.

Not the same Greek yogurt. That would be weird.

And so…

I used one container of Greek yogurt because I didn’t want to make a bunch of either flavor and end up throwing a bunch out. I have a knack for making too much of stuff only when it’s really gross.

Then, because the internet can’t agree on any guidelines here, I made up my own numbers (#idowhatiwant). I mixed 3 oz of Greek yogurt with ½ tbsp of watermelon Jello powder, then did the same with the Nesquik.IMG_7295IMG_7300

I really wanted to make popsicles but apparently the world doesn’t make popsicle molds that I can buy out in the world anymore, so I took over one of our ice trays. I let the yogurt cubes sit in the freezer for one episode of The Daily Show and two episodes of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt before giving them a whirl.

Fun fact: ice trays and frozen yogurt don’t quite mix. To get the yogurt cubes out I maybe had to use a very sharp knife and maybe almost broke the ice tray and maybe almost stabbed myself.

IMG_7318I tried the chocolate and David tried the watermelon.

It occurs to me that I didn’t actually need to freeze them before trying the flavor and I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble had I thought of this prior to right now.

Results?

The chocolate tasted mostly like bitter and plain Greek yogurt but sometimes with chocolate hints. For a non-sugar-free chocolate powder it sure tasted pretty unsugar-y. It wasn’t good enough to eat another one (or to make more) but it also wasn’t so bad that I didn’t finish it.

The watermelon tasted like bitter watermelon powder. David said I could try it if I wanted, but I decided just to take his word for it. He then spit out what he was eating and left the rest to melt in the sink. The rest will be melted along with the remaining chocolate bits. Too bad chocolate and Jello aren’t good for dogs. Chewy would love these things…

So basically, they were both gross and I’m glad I only wasted one container of Greek yogurt on the experiment. I’m also glad I gave it a whirl. The peanut butter Greek yogurt experiment was a resounding success in this household and I just know there’s more ways I can turn this tub of probiotics into delicious desserts.

I think I might try an actual recipe line-by-line for one of these things some day when I’m ready to get back on the frozen Greek yogurt cubes horse again but I think I’m going to need some time to recover.

And by recover, I mean stuff my face with the professionally-made frozen Greek yogurt in my fridge (with lots of chocolate chips and maybe some coconut flakes).

Taking the power back from the food police

 

food-collage-1

Food is neither good nor bad. Food is neither clean nor dirty. You do not love food and food does not love you back. Food is food is food. It is either delicious or it is not. It is either nutritious or it is not. Food should not exist on a spectrum of morality.

Let’s stop making the practice of eating – something we all need to do to survive – something worth being shamed for, something worth feeling guilty over. This is damaging future generations and us. Food is food. Make your own choices without vilifying others.  I have been guilty of this before. I have been misguided and misinformed and encouraged others to do and be the same. I want to make a change.

Know what you are putting in your body and feel no shame for the food choices you make. Sometimes I eat chicken and vegetables for dinner. Sometimes I eat Velveeta shells and chocolate chip cookies for dinner. And it is a constant struggle not to feel guilty for what I choose to eat – nutritious or not. I obsess and analyze every single piece of food or drink that I take in. I obsess over whether or not I am living healthy or eating “good enough.”   

I am not a fitness or figure competitor. I am not a body builder. There is no legitimate reason to obsessively monitor my intake or follow restrictive eating guidelines. I am not performing I am just working on existing as best I can and constructively as I can.  I am trying to make a difference in the world and I should be worrying about that instead of how the brownie I ate at lunch isn’t going to help me on the path to a flat stomach.

I hope that I can stop this cycle for me some day, and for my future children.  Anyone care to join me?

Join me in making incredibly health dinners and enjoying them.

Join me in making incredibly unhealthy dinners and enjoying them too.

Join me in appreciating the taste of whatever delicious food you just happen to be enjoying that day.

Join me in moderation and denouncing food morality. For us, for our own sanity, and for the children that shouldn’t ever know a world where they obsess over their food and use it to qualify their worth.

Eating better plan of action

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past month or two saying I’m going to start eating better. I’m going to make better lunches. I’m going to cook dinner more often. I’m going to do a lot of awesome, wonderful, organized things. Except I never did any planning. And as you may know, lots of broad and generalized ideas accompanied by zero planning will get a person approximately nowhere. 

So now, it’s time to plan. I figure if I lay it all out here then, 1) I can get my thoughts and plans organized, 2) I have more reason to hold myself accountable , and 3) maybe I can help someone else struggling with the same issues too. Since no one step is any more important than the other, I’m just going to lay them all out here and hope that it all comes together smoothly.

groceries

1. Buying groceries for the next 3-4 days only. I try to eat more real food than processed food which my body loves but my fridge does not. Whenever I start planning my meals I always end up buying an entire week’s worth of food. Over the course of a week I might skip making a meal because I’m tired or too busy but that food is still there. By the end of the week I’ve only made four, maybe five of my intended meals but all of the fresh food I bought is wilting away. To the trash it goes and my guilt rises.  Getting this under control means we’re less wasteful and I can save money because I’m not buying excess food that’s never eaten.

2. Perfecting my recipe for a Chipotle burrito bowl copy. My first note was to perfect recipes for my fast food favorites but really it’s just Chipotle that I’m concerned about. I go there weekly and I know that making it at home I could not only save money but make a healthier alternative. I haven’t made my at-home version in a while but I have some new recipes that I can’t wait to try out to make happen. I found an easy recipe for their hot salsa which I think is going to make all of the difference.

3. Making sure there are leftovers. I – like most other nonchefs on the planet – don’t want to cook dinner every single night. But that doesn’t mean I want to be relegated to frozen food or sandwiches either. My mission is to make enough food each dinner for two nights. This means eating the same dinner two nights in a row which is a-okay with me and cuts down on the fuss and planning. Plus, it uses some of the endless mountains of tupperware living in our tupperware cabinet.

4. Have a variety of breakfast foods available. Here’s the deal: I don’t like breakfast. Well, okay that’s not entirely true. I love all the unhealthy breakfasts: chocolate chip pancakes, waffles, homefries, etc. Regular breakfast is boring and I really don’t love eating in the morning but I do it anyway because if I don’t then I reach a point about an hour after waking up where my stomach is slowly dying from the inside out. I usually just have an apple and a cheese stick but after a couple of days in a row I get so angry at the idea of eating another apple and cheesestick that I don’t eat breakfast at all or I grab fast food or pick something weird to eat that I didn’t really want anyway but hey at least it wasn’t an apple and a cheese stick. I’ve created a list of a couple of easy breakfasts that I can alternate between to hang on the fridge so I don’t have to keep fretting and I always have an option. The important part for me with breakfast is making sure I can eat it on my way into work so everything is easily transportable.

– apple, walnuts, cubed cheese
– English muffin, egg, cheese, sausage patties (turkey, chicken, etc)
– quesadilla – tortilla, cheese, diced peppers, salsa
– English muffin, tomato, cheese, egg
Almond Apple Spice Muffins

kyaraben_panda5. Make lunches interesting. I end up eating tons of Chipotle because I give myself one or two of the same lunches to eat all of the time. I need affordable, mostly easy-to-make, quickish-to-prepare lunches that vary throughout the week and are also delicious. I also would love to use tupperware because I have an obsession with organizational containers of all times (don’t even get me started on my love for canvas tote shelves). Cue: bento boxes. I’ve seen them around for a couple of years now and keep saying I’m going to start making bento box lunches but I just… haven’t. I’m going to try them out for a week starting on Monday to see if it’s a manageable new addition to my life and I have high hopes. And, since I’m feeling crazy, I’m going to make lunch for David while I’m at it too. We all win here. I’ve already pinned my face off so if you want to follow my Pinterest board for bento box lunches check it out here.

 

I could probably make more steps but I think starting with five is good enough – no need to overwhelm myself right out of the gate. I’m hoping that these changes help me to get it together and get back on the food train in the right ways. I’d love to hear about your own food planning, bento box, grocery shopping trials and triumphs so leave them in the comments below or tweet me @fitlaughlove.