This year is obviously a very important one for me, as I’ll be getting married in June! I’m definitely one of those women who has always dreamed about her wedding, imagining it to be a magical and special day ever since I was a little girl. While those sparkly dreams have come down to reality a little (holy $$$$), I still want to make the day as special as possible!
That being said, I really want to make sure I look my best and am in my best shape on the big day and for all the fun events leading up to it. That means that as soon as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, I felt the pull to start working on my diet and fitness to make sure I’m happy with myself by June. Of course I probably didn’t need to start working on that in January, but I have my bachelorette party in early March and dress fittings around then too, and with the momentum of the rest of the world and their New Year’s resolutions behind me, I decided it was as good a time as any to crack down.
Luckily, my good friend Vic was my secret Santa this year in my group of girlfriends, and she sent me something to help me get started: the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse cookbook! (Psst – there’s also a shorter, online version of the plan here!)
This book was put together by Sara Dickerman, a Bon Appetit staff member, and a registered dietician to provide two-week meal plans for each season of the year to help you focus on nourishing – but delicious! – food. The introduction to the book explains that the word “cleanse” often makes you think of gross juice cleanses and the like, but this meal plan is about bringing nutritious, balanced meals back into the rotation without sacrificing flavor. After all, this is a cleanse for food lovers! The recipes take advantage of bold spices and herbs in lieu of salt and fat (though there’s plenty of healthy fats included in the book). It sounded perfect for me, and I couldn’t wait to dig through it.
One other thing I love about this plan is that all of the meals have a balance of macros. One of my goals for 2017 – in addition to just generally eating healthier and upping my fitness game – is to pay more attention to macros and try to include a balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fat in every meal. I love that this book makes it easy!
Between Christmas and New Years I poured through the two-week plan for winter, which takes advantage of produce that’s cheap and readily available at this time of year (I love that there are spring, summer, and fall meal plans too!). To be honest the plan looked a bit intimidating at first, as there were a ton of recipes to cook. Luckily the book breaks everything down into lists showing what items you can make in advance, what recipes you’ll use multiple times throughout the week, and even what your grocery list should include.
I went through the plan with a notebook and a pencil and made a few modifications (I didn’t feel like buying all the ingredients on the list since we had some similar items already on hand) and then hit the grocery store! I did a lot of prep work the night before starting the plan, and then felt ready to take on the week ahead!
(BTW, I’m not planning to totally stick to the plan on weekends.)
Last week was my first week following the meal plan, so I thought I’d share a recap of how it’s been going so far.
First of all, you need a LOT of tupperware and have to really plan ahead for your day.
Breakfasts have been really tasty and I like that they are so varied. I’m such a creature of habit that I usually have the same things over and over again for breakfast, so this has been really good for forcing me out of my comfort zone.
Some mornings I’ll have plain Greek yogurt (full fat) with chopped up apples and toasted quinoa…
…and other days I’ll have two hardboiled eggs with a delicious walnut pesto that I made in advance (FYI – the pesto gets used in a bunch of recipes).
There are also a few oatmeal combos: one with pumpkin spice puree and nuts, and one with toasted coconut flakes, coconut milk, and cocoa nibs.
Everything has been delicious and really filling!
Side note: I’ve also been trying to make an effort to eat a couple dates with peanut butter before and after my workouts to make sure I’m fueling and refueling my body properly.
Lunches have mostly consisted of leftovers from the night before but thrown into a salad. I really like this approach because it’s the one meal I don’t really have to think about. I just cook a little extra food when I make dinner (which is already accounted for in the recipe) and then in the morning before work I throw it all together into a salad. Lunch = done!
There’s also plenty of room for snacks on this plan, which I also love. Some days it’s a pear with a little goat cheese, and other days it’s hummus with all-rye crackers or plain Greek yogurt with this delicious cashew/sunflower seed/pumpkin seed savory granola. Yum.
Then there are the dinners! This is by far my favorite part of the meal plan since everything is so darn tasty! I have noticed that some of the recipes take a while to put together – almost like Blue Apron – but some of them are super easy and come together in a flash. If you’re going to follow this plan, I would just recommend making the recipes according to your weeknight plans!
Here are some of my favorite dinners from the plan so far: miso flank steak with kale/mushrooms and the most delicious acorn squash puree (seriously, that acorn squash puree is one of my new favorite recipes ever).
Then there was a delicious tomato chickpea concoction with sauteed kale with leaks and onions. Truthfully Fabio and I both expected to feel kind of meh about this dish, but we actually both loved it! I even went back for seconds on the chickpeas and practically licked my plate clean. It was so good!
The plan also encourages us to eat more fish and less meat, so one night we had tahini-braised flounder with carrots and brussels sprouts and other night we had broiled salmon with cabbage slaw and spicy black beans.
All in all, I would say the dinners are the home run of this plan for me, as everything has been very balanced, fresh, and, most importantly, delicious!
Oh – and you can’t forget about dessert! The plan leaves room for something sweet after dinner, whether it be a mango, orange, a couple of dates, or a piece of dark chocolate.
I don’t have something sweet after dinner every night, but last week Fabio and I shared a couple of mangoes and oranges which was really nice. Plus, chocolate!
As you can probably tell, I’ve been really happy with this meal plan so far! I feel like I’ll probably keep it going for a little while after the two weeks is up, but I’m still trying to figure out what kind of meal plan I want to follow as it gets closer to the bachelorette party, wedding, etc. For now though, this is working and helping me feel a little more comfortable in my clothes post holiday-treat bingeing. Woohoo!
Question of the day: Are you trying to eat healthy post-New Years? How are you doing that?