One of the issues I’ve been having with “dieting” lately is feeling deprived. I don’t mean the “I’m denying myself food” kind of deprived. More of the, I’m not eating smart and it’s leaving me feeling unsatisfied and hungry. I wrote about this a little while ago and talked about eating more protein and healthy fats. While I do that most of the time, I find that Monday-Friday I pack my food with calories in mind. I have breakfast at home, then bring a morning snack to work (usually fruit) then I have a low calorie lunch and if it’s a gym day I have an afternoon snack.

This has left me feeling low-energy, cranky, irritable, moody AND HUNGRY. I think Michael got sick of hearing me complain about being hungry all the time so he asked me if I’d be willing to try eating “his diet” for awhile. I said maybe. I feel pretty stuck in my ways, honestly. Eating low calorie foods. I’ve gone back to eating soup or Lean Cuisine type lunches at work that never really stick with me too long. BUT they were portion controlled and I knew how many calories I was eating. Besides, it worked for me 8 years ago, right?!? So why isn’t it working now?

Probably because I’m used to eating more. After I reached goal weight and spent 6.5 years in maintenance mode, I was used to eating a little bit more. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, really. Maybe lose that fluctuation I saw but it was never more than 5 pounds.

Also, my activity level is way different NOW than it was 8 years ago when I first started working out AND of course doing 30 minutes of swimming was going to shock my body into losing a lot of weight because it wasn’t used to activity like that. Now? After 8 years of having a fairly intense workout regiment, my body is used to this. So losing is harder.

It’s not that I was unwilling to give Michael’s ideas a try, it’s really just that I can’t let go of the calorie counting. IT WORKED. For a long time. It’s easy, I know how to do it. It’s become a habit that is part of my normal every day routine. He was asking me to ignore counting calories for awhile while I just focused on eating a high protein, healthy diet of whole foods.

Sounds good in theory right?! But ignoring calories is how I gained 15 pounds on my honeymoon. That and the daily pina coladas and Bloody Mary’s… 😉

Anyways, I decided to give it a try. I was definitely in a food rut so it couldn’t hurt, right? Plus I was tired of feeling tired, hungry, cranky and unsatisfied during the week from a too-low calorie intake. (Which would inevitably lead to me eating crap at work.)



I picked up some ground chicken at the store. It came in a tube, like the breakfast sausages (think Jimmy Dean sausage). It was made of chicken thigh and breast meat and didn’t have a bunch of weird ingredients in it. I cooked it up in a skillet with grapeseed oil and some chopped onions. It cooked up exactly like lean ground turkey meat. The color, consistency and taste was pretty close to turkey, too.


The package of ground chicken had 4 servings in it, each serving 140 calories. I was getting a little more like 5 or 5.5 servings out of what I cooked up. I added some of the ground chicken to two scrambled eggs and topped it with hot sauce. It was a low calorie, high protein and VERY filling breakfast.

CALORIES: 365 total (that number includes my cup of coffee with creamer in it).


So during the week I had two different kinds of lunches: the gym days and non-gym days. Non-gym days didn’t have carbs. An example of a lunch for non-gym days was lettuce with low-calorie dressing and a fillet of blackened salmon. (Salmon blackening below, the ground chicken for breakfasts on the right.)


CALORIES: Around 400 calories (for the salad, salmon and dressing).

Gym days: Michael made me this crazy delicious salad for gym days. It was quinoa, chickpeas, kale, carrots and chicken with pesto. Having carbs on gym days was required. This was the second week of food prep:

Carrots, blanched kale, chopped red cabbage, chopped pickled beets. The quinoa was cooking, the chicken was baking. The second week Michael skipped the chickpeas and added raw spinach to the salad and I added some raw peppers. It’s a delicious salad!


This hasn’t changed much. A protein and a vegetable.

One dinner Michael made was a burger with a piece of bacon on top of a bed of lettuce with a fried egg on top, topped with some hot sauce. Talk about protein! It was absolutely delicious and filling, despite lacking any carbs.



I was still sticking with the fruit for snacks at work. Pre-gym snacks were either pre-packaged servings of hummus from Costco (they are 150 calories) with veggies or plain Greek yogurt with some fruit in it.


This is where I fall short. The sugar. I am trying REALLY hard not to indulge in candy at work and trying to skip the desserts at home. Protein shakes are dessert on gym days. This is also beneficial for days I lift weights. 🙂

Will it Work?

I’m on week 2 of this diet, with a few slip-ups due to the holidays and parties. I am trying not to beat myself up over that because for most of the week I was doing well and sticking with it. I was also limiting my sugar successfully! That’s a huge thing for me. Right now I am just trying to get through the next two weeks of holiday foods and festivities and hopefully I’ll start to see some real progress in January.

Anyways, I wanted to share some of the foods I’ve been eating lately because it’s been really delicious and satisfying. So much more so than frozen meals…

Pork Three Ways

I was never a huge fan of pork. In fact I didn’t eat any pork products (except bacon) for years–even years before I ever became a vegetarian. I just didn’t like it. It’s growing on me though. In the past year with our journey to eating more REAL FOOD I’ve grown to enjoy eating pork again.  It helps finding tasty recipes to try.

Here are three ways we’ve done pork in the recent months. I’m always looking for new recipes to try, and if are interested you can see more recipes I’ve tried here.

Basil-Garlic Grilled Pork Chops

I saw this recipe and it was simple–which I like–and I almost have all the ingredients at all times. I used fresh basil from our garden and garlic I’d gotten at the Yakima fruit stands.

  • 4 (8 ounce) pork chops
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Marinade for 30 minutes before grilling. There really is no such thing as “too much garlic” so I went a little nuts on mincing the garlic and tore up the fresh basil to marinade. I used the juice of one lime.

Simple, real, and tasty.


Simple Pork

The “usual” way we do pork chops (boneless or bone in) is with a simple grilling seasoning. It’s meant for beef but it goes great on pork chops. Preparing the pork chops this way is both easy AND it means our side dish can be anything we want. Everything goes well with a seasoning that’s basically salt and pepper–salad, grilled zucchini, steamed veggies–anything.


Pork and Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette

I altered this recipe because we didn’t have asparagus but we had TONS of zucchini from the garden.


  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 3 shallots, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard


  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Season the pork with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, turning, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Transfer the skillet to oven and roast until the pork is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
  4. Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus and shallots with 1 tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  5. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer and roast, tossing once, until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and remaining ⅓ cup of oil. Serve the pork with the vegetables and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Calories: 465; Fat: 32g; Protein: 39g; Carbs: 8g; Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 4g

This recipe was okay. It wasn’t the best pork recipe we’ve tried but I enjoyed the tangy-ness of the mustard vinaigrette. I mixed Dijon mustard with stone ground mustard.

I was unsure if Apple Cider Vinegar is the same as cider vinegar–but a quick tweet on Twitter confirmed it was the same thing (and that I shouldn’t use red wine vinegar!).

Instead of asparagus I chopped up fresh zucchini from the garden and half a shallot. I put them on a baking tray as instructed and baked them in the oven.

I have to say, the combination of shallots and mustard vinaigrette is AMAZING. Loved the flavors! I want to find more recipes that call for shallots. Yum.

I made us salads to go with dinner. Fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, balsamic and oil. My favorite summer salad.

The only reason I say this recipe is “just okay” was because Michael said it wasn’t his favorite that we’ve tried. Usually I call a recipe a winner if we both take a bite and say “WOW this is fantastic” and since we both didn’t agree on it, it’s “just okay.” I liked it but it wasn’t the best mustard sauce I’ve made.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite pork recipe?