I tried Eat Purely for the first time, here's what happened.

eatpurelycubansteak

Y'all know I find lots of joy in cooking. But cooking every day is exhausting. Meal prepping in advance is great in theory, but does not play out as often as I would like. Make enough for leftovers? Yes, great idea until your husband eats it all in one sitting (love you, boo). Then what? You don't necessarily want to blow your healthy eating on some indulgent carryout. You still want to keep "living the lifestyle" but you don't want to cook right now, dammit. Where can I get healthy delivery for dinner?

Does anyone remember Sprig? It was in Chicago a couple years ago and I was OBSESSED. It was super healthy, organic meals delivered. But they closed down in Chicago, and I cried. I don't know how it is possible they closed because I was probably single-handedly keeping them in business. I'm still so sad I still haven't deleted the app off my phone. Pathetic. I have been looking for a replacement since they closed down. Cue: Eat Purely. 

I had heard about the service a bit and I had been meaning to try it for awhile. Last week, the perfect opportunity arose. It had been a busy productive day, but no time to grocery shop. I was tired. I didn't want to go anywhere. But it was a weeknight- aka "you need to keep it clean, Alexandra". Then boom! Epiphany- I could try Eat Purely. 

Okay so what exactly is Eat Purely? From their website: "artisan chefs use fresh, seasonal ingredients to create a diverse range of restaurant-quality meals and sides. Select from a daily rotating menu of locally-sourced meals. Order on demand or schedule up to a week in advance. Meals arrived chilled so everything stays fresh. A few minutes in your oven or microwave and dinner is piping hot when you're ready to eat.

Okay so that sounds great but is it healthy? 

"Our chefs create food that never relies on excess salt, fat, or refined sugars to taste great. We’d rather let our locally-sourced ingredients do the talking... Our vegetables are fresh and seasonal. Our animal proteins are raised, not grown. Our meals are made without chemicals, preservatives, or GMOs."

Hmmm... well this sound good theoretically. Seasonal and locally-sourced is important for produce. Interesting that they don't use the term "organic" if everything is made without chemicals or GMOs. It's great that animal proteins are "raised" but what are they really committing to? It's hard to say because I couldn't find any further information on the website. :/

At the end of the day, this information was good enough for me. Why? Because this sounds about equal to the standard I hold myself to. I try to make sure that my animal proteins are grass-fed, no hormones added, and raised humanely- but even at Whole Foods this is hard to accomplish sometimes. You do the best you can for where you are at. And its helluva lot better than most carryout. 

I went on the app and instantly found a #shedapproved* meal - an incredible looking Coconut Glazed Salmon- but alas- sold out. 

eatpurelysalmon1
eatpurelysalmonnutrition

I was looking through for another option that would be comparable. I landed on the Cuban Steak. It looked great- gluten free, dairy free, grass-fed meat! And if you follow me at all- you probably know I'm obsessed with sweet potatoes. So this meal is looking pretty fantastic. Unfortunately, when I looked at the nutrition facts, it has more sugar than I would've liked. 15 grams- but sweet potatoes add sugar. The key distinction was the addition of brown sugar. Brown sugar is not #shedapproved and is in the middle of the ingredients list. Bummer. The was rice was tricky too- it seemed by the look of the photo to be brown rice- but the ingredient list said it was "long grain"- which could be both white or brown! What a conundrum. 

eatpurelycubansteak
eatpurelycubansteaknutrition

I order it anyway because I was very hangry (no time- for debating) and it comes incredibly fast. I think it was 15 minutes. I set the oven for 350 degrees per the "heat and eat" directions. I put foil on the top of the container and put it in the oven. I followed the directed amount of time (8-12 mins) but it wasn't hot enough. So I put it in the microwave (no aluminum foil! lol) for a minute and that did the trick.

It came in this pretty container. 

It came in this pretty container. 

Straight out of the box, still has pretty presentation! #impressed

Straight out of the box, still has pretty presentation! #impressed

It was realllllly tasty and was super satisfying. I loved that there was a variety of veggies. I really was "eating the rainbow": from the sweet potatoes, salsa verde, black beans, to the parsley and pickled onion salad- we got quite a few colors/nutrients in there. By flavor alone I would definitely order again. It is definitely healthier than 95% of most takeout (please don't take that stat seriously). 

Conclusion? While I love the service and the quality of the ingredients- it is not the easiest to eat #shedapproved meals. You still have to be vigilant checking the ingredient list to see if you are eating within the elimination guidelines. It IS possible to find great healthy options, but don't just order anything off the menu. I also support this for Shed maintenance meals 100%! 

In the end, it tasted like brown rice to me, so I'm going to stick with that for now. :) 

If you do decide to give Eat Purely a try-  use my promo code for a $20 credit for you and for me! :) Promo code: ALEXANDRAS21

Hmmm looks like white rice in this photo! 

Hmmm looks like white rice in this photo! 

*(It was month 1 approved- soy has gluten- which makes it a month 2 nono)

**LEGIT - No one paid me to write this. I wish they did, though.**

 

Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup


Please enjoy my first foray into the movie making world. Lol, it's just my Instagram story turned feature film- and it's less than a minute! Note: I mention quinoa stuffed acorn squash - saving that one for another day! Apologies for poor lighting- I finally got a food light for evening meals!


This soup is 5 (store bought) ingredients and is perfection. Great for cool end of summer evenings, and maybe one of the easiest recipes EVER. So fast. So easy. It's perfect for a weeknight. 

It is approved for both months of the program, but don't use any cheese garnish if you are in month 2. I promise, this soup is so flavorful- you will barely notice it! 

Ingredients

  • I used 3 small, 4 large heirloom, 2 medium tomatoes …  on average 9-10 med sized tomatoes. Use heirlooms if you can for amazing flavor. 
  • 6-8 (depending on size) garlic cloves, peeled and whole
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion, quartered 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-6 basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • Option: sprinkle of parmesan cheese, grated
  • Option: try with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and cut tomatoes, placing in a shallow baking dish cut side down. Add onion pieces, garlic, and basil to the pan. Drizzle vegetables in the pan with olive oil (and optionally with balsamic vinegar.) Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables (tongs are great for this) in food processor bowl or blender. Pulse until you reach desired consistency. I made mine thicker, and it felt very hearty! An immersion blender also works very well. 

The soup will be hot without reheating necessary. Serve garnished with cheese if desired.

What to eat at Chipotle

So you think you have the guidelines down, but then you go out to eat and have no idea what to order. This is one of the biggest hurdles I see clients try to overcome.  What can be simple at home, becomes overwhelming when you are out. I am your guide to help you make better decisions when you aren't able to cook (or just don't want to!). 

One of the more common restaurant options all over the good ole USA is Chipotle. I thought this is a great place to begin demystifying eating out. Chipotle has higher quality ingredients and has lots of available combinations that are #shedapproved. 

I am going to walk you through, section by section, as if we were in line together. Let's start:

1. Salad, bowl, or burrito?

  • Salad: It's just a base of lettuce. So that is a resounding "yes" there. I would skip the vinaigrette- ingredients are okay but just adds more calories (and sugar) that you do not need for the substantial amount of food you get. 
  • Bowl- always a "yes".
  • Burrito - that's a "no". The tortilla adds a significant amount of calories, and it is not an unrefined whole grain. 

2. Choose brown rice or no rice. Brown rice is digested slower in the body than white rice - keeping your blood sugar stable. It is also a whole grain where as white rice is not. A-ok if you would like to abstain from rice altogether. 

3. Beans! I will admit here, I will stand corrected to what I said in the Instagram story. I always thought that the pinto beans were refried beans- prepared in bacon fat. According to Chipotle's ingredient list they actually are vegan! So feel free to have pinto or black beans. Protein packed and so satiating, you can't go wrong. Also, in this section are the fajitas. Mo' veggies, NO problems! 

4. Ahh the animal protein/ tofu options. This part is interesting. I always go for the chicken. Why? Because it is lean, and I don't like to overdo pork products. Steak is also approved on the program, but you should be keeping your red meat consumption at 1-2x a month (better for your arteries and for the environment!). Barbacoa tends to be on the fattier side - so I would choose steak if you are opting for red meat. Lastly, what's wrong with the sofritas? Tofu is a great option if you are trying to cut back on meat consumption (me, all of the time!) but it is a processed food, so I try to not eat too much of it either. Bottom line: eat what you like, but be mindful of what you choose in the bigger scheme of what else you are eating in your life.

5. Salsas? Any and all! Enjoy! 

6. Sour cream and cheese? Although both these are technically approved in month one- I would advise against it. Month 1 treats dairy as a garnish- Chipotle employees very rarely listen when you say "just a little". I wouldn't waste your dairy intake here. 

7. Guacamole? Always a yes- get those healthy fats!! Lettuce? Obvs- get in those greens!

Lastly, eat until you are full. Listen to your body! You may need to finish the bowl, you may not. Every day and every meal is different. It is all about mindful eating and eating slow enough for your body recognize the cues from your stomach to brain! 


More thoughts on Chipotle

The best part of Chipotle? Their dedication to raising their animal products humanely and healthfully. The following are excerpts from their website. 

"We buy meat from farmers and ranchers who raise their animals without antibiotics and added hormones. If an animal falls sick, our protocols require that farmers bring them back to health in the most responsible manner possible."

"We set minimum space requirements for the animals producing the meat and dairy products that end up in our restaurants. We work with our suppliers to ensure the highest possible animal welfare standards, and are always setting the bar higher.

If, due to supply shortages, we have to serve conventionally raised meat, we clearly post signs in the affected restaurants."

I know this is still far from where we should be in terms of the treatment of livestock- but Chipotle is very advanced compared to most other fast casual restaurants. I respect the progress they have made in the industry. 

On the other side of the spectrum - I would be remiss if I didn't call attention to one of Chipotle's bigger problems.  The oils they use in almost all of their cooked foods (and even the dressing!) are problematic. They recently eliminated GMO soy oil (cheers and applause!) and replaced it with Rice Bran Oil. It is not a terrible choice, but it is an "industrialized" oil - which wasn't seen in generations past. It may also contain trace amounts of arsenic. For more information on Rice Bran Oil check this out.


At the end of the day, no food is perfect and no restaurant is perfect. You make the best decisions you can depending on what is going on in your life. Overall, Chipotle is actually a really great option if you are shedding and you are on the go!  I hope these tips help you make soulful healthy eating decisions when you aren't at home.

What do you think about Chipotle? Will you eat it while you are shedding? Leave a note in the comments below! Have a great day, babes!

chipotlebrownrice.JPG
chipotleblackbeansandfajitas.JPG
chipotlechickensofritas.JPG
chipotlesalsas.JPG
chipotlesourcream.JPG
chipotleguacamole.JPG
chipotleguacandbowl.JPG
chipotlemeal.JPG

Banana Pancakes

bananapancakestack.JPG

Did someone just hear Jack Johnson? Oh that was just in my head. But I seriously am pretending that it's the weekend. Rainy mornings, sleeping in, and banana pancakes. (Jk I didn't sleep in. Boo. And I ran in the rain. Double boo.) BUT this is my favorite weekend treat that I am thinking about integrating to the work week, just to make it more fun.

Seriously guys, these are so easy. First you take bananas, then you mash them. Then you add eggs. You grease a griddle or pan with a little bit of olive oil spray or just oil up a paper towel and wipe it down. Key: make sure the griddle is hot enough- you can test a little bit in the pan to see how quickly a little blob cooks. Then take 1/4 cup of "batter" and place on the griddle/pan (whichever you use). You can add cacao nibs or blueberries for an extra fun batch. The trickiest part is flipping them- 2 spatulas are necessary because they are very delicate. Make sure the one side is cooked thoroughly before attempting the flop. The good news is, even if they aren't pretty, they still taste ah-mazing. You have the option for a slight drizzle of 100% maple syrup- but in my opinion you really don't need it! And I am a sugar person, TBH. 

 Instagram story breakdown below:

While these are relatively high in sugar content compared to most other items on the plan- it is all natural fruit based sugars, and paired with protein from the eggs, they prevent the blood sugar spike and drop that causes hunger and weight gain. These will keep you full until lunch! 

bananapancakessyrup.JPG

See below for the full recipe. Ready to give them a try? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 


Banana Pancakes

serves 2 (6 pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil spray (alternative, put oil on a paper towel and spread on pan/griddle)
  • ½ cup of blueberries or sprinkle of cacao nibs (optional)
  • lil bit of 100% maple syrup

Instructions

Mash bananas in a big bowl (some small lumps are OK). Add eggs. Mix together completely.  

Heat pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil spray. Test a small spoonful- if it solidifies quickly, it is ready. Fill a ¼ measuring cup with batter. Pour onto heated pan/griddle. Add blueberries and/or cacao nibs. Cook on each side until slightly brown. You may need two spatulas to flip, they are delicate. 

For an extra treat serve with a dab of 100% maple syrup. 

 

Bol Provincial

boldeprovinicial1.jpg

Last night, doing my favorite "make up a recipe that fits my CSA box ingredients" I started to make what I thought was going to be a great vegetarian soup. What I ended up with was ANOTHER buddha bowl! (If you follow my instagram, you will find that I have a problem.) I can't break the addiction even when I try! But I'm so glad because it is so much more interesting than the other BBowls I have been making as of late- AND IT'S VEGAN! So many wins. 

(I got a little antsy, the quinoa mayyyy not be totally cooked...not the best for digestion. Whoops :) 

(I got a little antsy, the quinoa mayyyy not be totally cooked...not the best for digestion. Whoops :) 

Came through in the clutch! 

Came through in the clutch! 

I don't typically do several grains- but I have been out of my bulk grains since we were in Colorado last week and had this Near East brand quinoa blend that my boo had accidentally bought. It's really easy and the rice is pre-cooked, so you don't have to wait forever for the rice to be ready. {Side note, if you buy the blend, don't use the spice blend. It has soy and gluten in the spices (why?) - and it will mess up this recipe's flavor. If you don't use the blend, I would go straight quinoa or minute rice in the same quantity.}

Long story short, I ended up making these amazing caramelized onions, and I knew that broth would ruin their perfected sweet and savory flavor. Solution: I skipped broth and made a bowl instead. Ah comme ci comme ça. The beans make this dish hearty and filling - and hello protein! I was able to use the herbs from my garden which gave the bowl freshness and gave me so much joy! It has this simple, rustic flavor that made me feel like I was not in the city of Chicago, but in the French countryside sipping red wine and overlooking fields of lavender, thus the name. 

Without further ado, recipe below. Bon appetit!  


Bol Provincial

serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3 onions (I used 1 sweet and 2 red), chopped
  • 5 small carrots, sliced
  • 1/3 cups dry quinoa and brown rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • Sprinkle of Herbs de Provence 
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary 
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 8 large basil leaves, chopped

Instructions

In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat, add onions and carrots. Stir occasionally until onions are browned. Add herbs de Provence (use enough to cover the carrots and onions, rosemary and balsamic. Let simmer until qrains are finished cooking. 

While onions and carrots are cooking, bring quinoa rice mixture to a boil. Boil gently for 19-22 minutes until water is absorbed. 

Add cooked grains to the the large pot, mix together. Add beans and basil leaves and mix again. Serve warm! 

boldeprovincial2.JPG

I drank Apple Cider Vinegar for 6 days. Here's what I learned.

I realized I was hyping apple cider vinegar (ACV) in my Instagram stories last week - but I never actually gave you any good info on why you should take it! To catch you up to speed, I took 1 tbsp of ACV in 6-8oz of water for 5 days and I had a fancy ACV morning shot (with ginger, stabilized oxygen, gingseng, raw honey, and Ceylon cinnamon) from my local juicery for a 6th day. Some people like to shoot it - but that can burn your insides and damage your teeth (for more info on teeth, see case in point below). 

Here are just a few of the benefits from drinking ACV: 

  1. Great for gut health by adding good bacteria (just like your fave kombucha!)
  2. Boosted immunity (mostly from great gut health)
  3. Detoxifies your liver (great for Monday mornings... :)) 
  4. Lower blood sugar and blood pressure
  5. Can be great for weight loss by helping curb cravings

What I noticed after 6 days of ACV: 

  • I felt way less bloated - and I just felt lighter! I didn't weigh myself, but I felt good! 
  • I did feel like I had more energy throughout the day
  • I did get slightly sick, so I'm not sure if increased immunity had time to kick in yet
  • I noticed that I felt increased sensitivity in my teeth- even with using a straw! In all fairness, I didn't use a straw every day though.
  • I am already pretty regular (sorry if TMI), so no change in gut status. 

There are so many more great health perks from ACV- I for sure would recommend adding it into your wellness regimen. That being said, it is not going to be an every day thing for me. Every other day, or a few times a week sounds like a good balance for my own life. What do you guys think? Will you be giving ACV a try?  

For more great info on ACV check out this great resource. 

In other news- I am getting ready to relaunch the website with a whole new look and with services included! I'm very excited to finally be able to bring you in to my Shed for the Wed universe. It's been a long time a comin'! 

Have a great week, babes! 

 

 

 

Weddings on my mind... A 2016 reflection

Hello again, dear friends! 

Well, 2016 was not a year of blogging for me, clearly. However, That does not mean we were not hustling! 

Shed took on quite a bit in this past year. We ran 3 rounds of beta program, constantly refining the program so it can be everything you need and more. Collectively, we lost more than 100 lbs! I was astonished by all of you incredible people who did the program with so much joy and intention. I am so excited about what 2017 will bring for the program and you soon-to-be-brides-to-be. 

On a personal note, Conor and I attended 8 weddings this year, with many of our Shed brides! It just about killed us. We traveled all over the country from Northern California to Cape Cod, Detroit, Indianapolis, Washington, North Carolina, and lastly, good 'ole, sweet home Chicago. It was busy (and we are pretty much broke now) but we had the best year celebrating all of our favorite couples. Our hearts are still bursting from all of the love we witnessed throughout the past year. It has been an adventure. 

I should also note - my wedding mantra is "Good people, beget good people" TM - and that couldn't have been more accurate for a description of all of the beautiful souls I spent my time with over the past year. At its essence, this is why weddings are the best. More friends, more cake, more dancing, and more love. 

Oh, and did I mention the CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES?! 

2017, bring it on. We are ready for you. 

2016weddingrecap

2016, hello beautiful

Hello, friends! 

First, I want to apologize. I have basically taken a 1-year hiatus from blogging. I never stopped writing, but I realized that I wasn't dedicating enough time to creating actual Shed programs, which is why I even started to blog in the first place. So, I apologize, for not doing. Full stop.

But January (ahem... February) is here. And with this new year comes renewed commitments. We have our first ever beta program in progress. So Bridal Bootcamp is FINALLY going to be launching this Spring. I could not be more excited. 

With that, you will be hearing from me more. I will have more recipes, tips, and wedding fun coming your way. More blogging. More programs. More everything. 

Cheers, 2016!

Alexandra

 

photo credit: Jessica Zoob

photo credit: Jessica Zoob