Thursday, February 23, 2012

21 Day Challenge–Week 1


Being healthy, what exactly is that?  It’s different for everyone in achievement but the base is essentially the same.  I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian or a personal trainer just a blogger/baker/runner.  I mean is a past life, i.e. university, I took 4 years of physical and health education from the University of Toronto, so I have a basic knowledge of what’s good for you.  Since then I’ve tried to stay healthy and with everything there have been highs and lows and I’m not just talking weight :)

So when I challenged myself to 21 days of healthier eating by reducing sugars and bad carbs as well as getting back to daily exercise I knew it would be tough.  Those first few days were excruciating.  I honestly didn’t think it had gotten that bad but when the withdrawal hit, I knew it was one of those definite lows.

It’s now 7 days later and the sugar desire has decreased immensely but every now and again it peaks and I drink a glass of water.  I won’t lie, I didn’t follow the menu I posted to the letter but did stay with the mini meals throughout the days and no sugar but for the odd taste of whatever I was baking.  That really was when I suffered the most.  Only because the last few things I baked were really tasty.  Yesterday’s oatmeal cookies were evil indeed.  I gave a dozen to the teachers at Rowan’s preschool, some to our babysitter and kept 6 for the girls.  I also made some really yummy dinner dishes too that I thought I’d share with you (at bottom of post) to make as they are high protein, low carb and delicious.  I stayed pretty close to the 1500 calories, skirting on the high side mostly but at the end of 7 days I feel so much better.  My jeans aren’t as tight but mostly I feel better (ribs not withstanding).

I also tried to increase my activity but not as much as I would have liked because the girls had an extra long weekend due to the President’s day holiday.  We did take Dartagnan to the lake a couple times and walk the loop and I got to play tennis a couple times.  My ribs are still sore and the longer I play, the worse I get.  My goal is to go to the gym once or twice next week plus do a few more loops around the lake with Dartagnan and then end the week with my first tennis match in 12 years.  Should be interesting.

The menu for this week will be similar to last week, so go with the general outline and try a few of my recipes below.  Mix it up and the biggest change would be to mix up the egg breakfasts with a protein smoothie (recipe below).  Have fun with it.  It’s not set in stone and if you can’t be home for every meal, choose appropriate meals and more important serving size.

Recipes: The nutrition values are estimates only and based on 100g of meat(salmon, lamb, tuna etc).  So don’t quote exacts, as I’m so not a nutritionist and used the packaging to get numbers.

Steamed Salmon with red peppers, zucchini’s and dill

  • Salmon fillet
  • Red peppers and zucchini’s thinly sliced.
  1. Thinly slice peppers and zucchini’s and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1tsp dill
  2. Place 1/2 the veggies on a large piece of aluminum foil.
  3. Place salmon fillet on top of veggies and then place remaining veggies on top of salmon.
  4. Salt and pepper
  5. Seal foil around salmon fillet and bake at 375 until done.  The larger the piece the longer.  Check at about 15 minutes and remove when done.  Salmon should be medium rare.

Nutrition: Calories 220; Protein 25g; Fat 12g; Carbs 6g

Tuna Salad:

  • 1 can tuna in water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp non-fat yogurt
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 celery finely chopped
  1. Drain tuna and place in bowl.
  2. Add vinegar, yogurt and veggies.  Stir completely.
  3. Can be used in sandwich or eaten straight up.

Nutrition: Calories 130; Protein 20g; Fat 1.5g ; Carbs:7g

Braised lamb with Lentils: Ok, this recipe is higher in calories, but it was so good.  The nutrition value I based on 100g of lamb and 1 cup of cooked lentils.

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large lamb chops
  • Salt and Cracked black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • One 15 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 1 1/4 c. lentils
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Season generously with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or heavy-lidded pot, brown the lamb shanks in batches in the olive oil. Make sure they get a dark red color when browning. Transfer the chops to a platter.
  3. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and coat the vegetables in the fat from the lamb. Saute, until browned in spots, for 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the thyme and the bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute more. Add in the tomatoes, wine and stock, and raise heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil for 4 minutes, incorporating flavors.
  4. Return the chops to the pot. Cover the shanks with enough parchment paper to touch the lamb shanks and hang out over the edge of the pot. Set the lid in place and put the pot in the lower 1/3 of the oven. After 1 hour, turn the shanks over on their other side.
  5. Meanwhile, place the lentils in a sauce pan with 6 cups of water, 1/2 tbsp. of thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring water to a boil, and them reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Drain water from lentils and put on a plate to cool. Set aside.
  6. When the lamb has been braising for an hour, remove pot from oven. Remove chops from the pot and stir in the lentils. Season with black pepper. Place the chops back in the pot and cover with parchment and lid. Cook another 45 minutes, until lamb is falling off the bone and lentils have a slight bite.
  7. Serve!

Nutrition: Calories 652; Protein 46g : Fat 29g; Carbs:79g  (this is based on 100g lamb and 1 cup of lentils)

Protein Smoothie: Great for after a workout or for breakfast

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 8 oz of water
  1. Puree together and drink!

Nutrition: Calories 280; Protein 22g; Fat 2g; Carbs 56g

So there you have it.  Week 1 was tough.  Week 2 should be easier, at least I hope.  Two weeks until I celebrate, I hope you will join me!  See you then :)

Thanks for looking!


  1. Congratulations Karen! I know you will continue to tackle this head on with great success. Best wishes in that upcoming tennis tournament. Keeping my fingers crossed for you:)

  2. I am really proud of you! It's not easy that is for sure, but you are doing great. Keep it up.

  3. Great job for sticking with it through the withdrawal part. You're doing great!