Happy Friday, friends! As a snowstorm approaches Denver today, we are eagerly counting down the days until we can be somewhere warm and toasty. After all, summer is right around the corner and with the quick pace that time seems to be moving at, it’ll be here before we know it!
Our goal for this summer is to be in decent hiking-shape (enough to conquer a 14-er), so we’ve been spending our winter sweating and toning at fitness classes. But we knew that alone wouldn’t cut it: our diet also had to be overhauled if we were going to reap any long-term benefits. Now, if you’ve been following our blog, you know that one of our resolutions for this year was to eat cleaner and less processed foods. But where do we start?? Eating raw kale and drinking meal replacement shakes 24/7?? THANK YOU, NEXT. We refused, mostly because we were so afraid that the recipes we found online would sacrifice flavor in favor of bland and/or raw food (which we didn’t particularly want), and thus we haven’t exactly made any major dietary changes until now.
And that’s where Kayla Itsines’ latest book comes in. We were walking around the library last weekend, and they had a recipe and habits guide by Kayla on display. I had seen her all over Instagram touting her 28-day Bikini Body Guide (BBG) and I know of people who swear by her workout guides. I was intrigued, and wondered if her food guide was any good. So we decided to check out the book and follow her *expert* guidance and post about our thoughts on each recipe. Think “Julie/Julia” type blog posts, but not as cool because let’s face it, that bar was set pretty darn high & Brandon and I can’t see ourselves being actors anytime soon ;)
So with that introduction, HERE WE GO FRIENDS - our thoughts on week 1!!
We were super excited until we got to the shopping list for the week. I kid you not, you guys, it was close to 160 items! SAY WHAT. Kayla, we love you, but GUUURL…..this list HAS to be paired down. She gives you 5 recipes per day (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner). And EACH day has a different recipe, serving one person. In theory, this is great if you are a super picky eater who refuses to repeat meals through the week but we decided to be a liiiiiittle more budget (and environmentally) conscious. So instead of all this ~variety~, we took Day 1’s recipes and ate it throughout the week. It takes a little bit of math (her recipes are enough for one serving), but simple enough to scale as we needed.
On the docket this week was: blueberry pancakes for breakfast, crackers and dip for a morning snack, lettuce cups for lunch, chocolate banana mousse for an afternoon snack, and salmon over quinoa for dinner (which we didn’t make because I don’t eat fish). I wish she had provided vegetarian-friendly alternatives….but since she didn’t, we just made enchiladas instead.
Week 1 Breakfast: Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes: The recipe was super easy to follow - we just (1) mixed together whole wheat flour (which we purchased at Trader Joe’s), baking soda, mashed bananas, milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, and blueberries (2) let it sit for 10 minutes, and then (3) made them like traditional pancakes (minus greasing the pan with butter; we used Pam non-stick spray). She allowed for 2 teaspoons of maple syrup to eat them with, which was no where close to being enough for Brandon (he usually SMOTHERS his pancakes in syrup). Overall, the pancakes took a little longer to cook (and were a teeny little bit gummy in the middle), but to our surprise, they tasted verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry similar to regular blueberry pancakes.
RATING: 4 ♡ / 5 ♡
Week 1 Morning Snack: Rice Crackers with Arugula & White Bean Dip: This was our absolute favorite recipe, HANDS DOWN, from this week. To make the dip, we just blended together a can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), a handful of arugula leaves, 3-5 cloves of garlic (depending on preference), a pinch of cumin, a dash of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. We paired these with adorable (and delicious) rice crackers from Trader Joes’s, which honestly were quite addicting all by themselves. But because Kayla said to only have 12 rice crackers, we diligently portioned it out and hid the rest away (PRO TIP: if you are food prepping for the week, keep the crackers separate from the dip. We combined the two and stored it in the refrigerator which made the crackers stale…lesson learned).
RATING: 5 ♡ / 5 ♡
Week 1 Lunch: Lettuce Cups: If there was one recipe we were skeptical of this week, it was this one. The ingredients seemed so basic that we both doubted if there would be enough flavor. Surprisingly, we both enjoyed this meal more than we had expected to, and were pretty happy with the outcome! The base consists of pearl couscous, which we cooked according to the package directions, mixed with cannellini beans, black beans, 1/4 of a red onion, 1/4 cucumber, 1 red bell pepper, a handful of sweet corn, chopped cilantro, a pinch of red pepper powder/salt/pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice. We mixed this all together and ate it like that, even though Kayla called for serving it over lettuce leaves…but like ECOLI so we didn’t do this (SORRY NOT SORRY, thx CDC for having our backs). It was filling and yummy and we would totally make it again!
RATING: 4.5 ♡ / 5 ♡
Week 1 Afternoon Snack: Chocolate & Banana Mousse: So if there was one recipe this week that threw my taste buds in a loop, it was this one. You blend together bananas, cacao powder, soaked and pitted dates, bananas, and vanilla extract and then top it with cocoa nibs (Kayla recommends layering with yogurt like a parfait, but we didn’t do that). Brandon loved it from the get-go, likening it to a chocolate pudding, but it took me two to three days of snacking on this to really enjoy it. At first, the combination of cocoa/bananas just seemed somewhat off to my taste buds, but the more I ate it, the more I came around to this recipe. By the end of the week, I was HOOKED. It was an eye-opening recipe to both of us, because it showed us that eating raw/unprocessed chocolate was actually encouraged and good for you (when I Google-d it, apparently raw cacao nibs are an antioxidant powerhouse….who knew?!). Next time I have a chocolate craving, I’ll be reaching for this snack.
RATING: 4 ♡ / 5 ♡
Week 1 Dinner: Pistachio Crusted Salmon with Zesty Quinoa: we had to skip this one since I don’t eat fish, and we didn’t know what to substitute for it to make a filling meal. If there was one suggestion we have thus far, it would be to offer alternatives for vegetarians!
How do we feel after the first week? Because we both ate the same serving size, Brandon ate a little less than he usually does (and was hungry for the first two days as his body adjusted), and I ate more than I usually do (and was consequently feeling stuffed - but not in a gross, greasy way if that makes sense). We both have more energy, and the prospect of consuming clean food has both of us happy that we are doing right by our body.
Come back next week, and we will share our thoughts on: a chocolate & mint smoothie bowl, homemade trail mix, cajun-flavored wraps, pita triangles with baba ganoush, and chickpea, tomato & kale soup. Until then, stay warm friends! ♡