A healthy lifestyle can be as sweet as candy!

Team Player

Whenever a holiday rolls around I give myself an unspoken pass to eat whatever and whenever I want. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Labor Day it’s somehow so much harder keep my healthy diet principles in check. Although I try to be realistic with my diet and avoid extremes at all cost, I really wanted to make this Fourth of July different.

Let me backtrack for a bit. I have to admit I am a serial yo-yo dieter, or at least I used to be. In my past I have lost a lot of weight and I have gained a lot of weight, I’ve been a slave to extremes and have battled everything from restricting to binging. Living in extremes is exhausting, frustrating, and frankly dangerous (it is also surprisingly common.) Pushing your body’s limits through extreme dieting is not only physically dangerous, it is mentally debilitating and can lead to feeling of intense guilt and self-loathing. It fosters an odd hatred within yourself, and against yourself, when all you really need is to be on your body’s team.

This time, I’ve made a pact with myself to take my weight-loss journey slowly. Just like any other person, I would love to see quick results and be done with it. However, I know now that I’ll end up right back at the start, or worse. I am sick of working (too) hard, just to lose all of my progress when I grow exhausted of my unrealistic expectations. I am sick of creating a battle between my mind and my being. I am sick of not being on my body’s team.

I have a long way to go, mentally and physically, but I am loving the journey more than I ever have. I was much thinner when I look back on the times I have succumbed to extremes, however, unlike the past when choosing what to eat was stressful and the need to workout was unquestionable, I am happy.

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Now that this Fourth of July weekend is over, I can look back on the holiday guilt-free. There were times when I didn’t stick to my diet, and there were times that I did. Ultimately, I am proud to say I listened to my body’s needs, I stayed focused on my health goals, I avoided living in extremes, and I am ecstatic to say I feel like I am officially a new member of my body’s team!

What is interesting to me is, in the past, if I somehow broke my diet I would buckle in deep feelings of guilt and failure. Lost in intense guilt, I would most always resort to poor eating habits for long stretches of time, and in turn undo all of my progress (because what’s the point if I can’t do it, right?)…Wrong! Now, if I happen to succumb to a burger or some tortilla chips, I reset the next day through motivating myself a little harder to stay on track. I can’t express how liberating this has been for me, primarily mentally…because I am not perfect, and I DON’T HAVE TO BE.

Now that my rant is over, here is a recipe of one of my faux-comfort food dishes…Spaghetti and Meatballs! It’s a plate full of veggies and you won’t even know it!

Zoodles with Vegan Eggplant ‘Meat’balls

3 zucchinis

cooking spray

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb unpeeled eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cooked white beans (or drained, rinsed canned)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Roasted Tomato sauce

Heat the oven to 375°. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the eggplant and 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and one teaspoon of garlic powder and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor

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Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the skillet with the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the food processor along with the drained beans and parsley and pulse until well combined and chopped, but not pureed.-5-8

Combine the mixture with the panko and remaining teaspoon of garlic powder. This is a good time to taste the mixture to make sure it is properly seasoned. Roll into 12 meatballs, about 2-inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake until firm and browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.

-6-7

While the ‘meat’balls are in the oven, use a spirilizer to turn your zucchini into noodles. Add zuchinni to a sautee pan with one teaspoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high heat until soft.

Plate your zoodles with the roasted tomato sauce, and ‘meat’balls. i also added Parmesan crisp crumbles for some crunch! (Using my toaster oven I broiled a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan cheese on a greased tray until crispy.) Enjoy!Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 10.08.31 PM

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