Monday, January 31, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan Recap!

My 30-day Alzheimer's Solution NEURO Plan ends today! For the last 30 days, I've been eating unprocessed foods, avoiding sugar (except around workouts), limiting alcohol, meditating for 10 minutes per day, learning chess and Spanish (when I have the time! I found a great learn Spanish podcast that I've enjoyed while running), and moving my body with daily runs and daily yoga.

Most of what I've eaten since my last post has been leftovers, so I won't bore you with that. But here are a few things I've had over the weekend. On Friday night, I got my pre-Saturday run carbs in with a bowl of Chili Spaghetti. I used the leftover Hearty Bean Chili from the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution cookbook. Topped with nooch!

On Saturday morning, I had a breakfast Drs. Dean & Ayesha Sherzai (the book's authors) probably wouldn't recommend —White Bagel with Cashew Cacao Spread (with a bit of sugar in it). I decided during my reset that I would still allow processed carbs and sugar pre-workout because that's when your body needs quick-digesting carbs for energy. 

On Saturday night, I had another Totally Possible Burger and a side of Chili Fries (using more of that leftover chili). This hearty meal hit the spot after my 12-miler. Yes, my burger bun was upside down. Ha! 

And, on Sunday, I had a post 5K Mushroom Chickpea Bulgur Bowl after my friend Megan and I ran the Winter Off-Road Series 5K trail race. This has bulgur, roasted chickpeas, roasted kale, pan-seared broccoli and mushrooms, and a dill tahini sauce. It was fantastic! Bowls like this are my fave.

Also for January, I set out to do a 31-day run streak, running at least one mile (or more) every day. This morning, I finished my streak with a 4-mile run through Overton Park. I also did Yoga with Adriene's Move 30-day yoga series in January. So lots of good eating and healthy movement!

Tonight, I'm rewarding myself with KFC's Beyond Nuggets and I cannot wait! But I hope to carry some of these healthy eating/living habits forward. I'll definitely continue to limit sugar and keep my meditation practice going. And I hope to continue good bedtime hygiene for better sleep. I still struggle with that, but I'm trying!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 23-25

On Monday (Day 23) of my 30-Day NEURO plan from The 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution (which focuses on whole plant foods, no sugar, lots of great sleep, brain activities, and unwinding activities), I woke up early and had a banana and coffee before my 5-mile run. Post-run, I had a strawberry PB protein smoothie (with Complement Protein). Morning snack was dried apricots and almonds at my desk at work.

And lunch was the last of the Chickpea Barley Soup. Dinner was a new recipe from the book — Spicy Squash & Portabella Tacos! These have roasted bellas and butternut squash with avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds. I had a small salad on the side. 

On Tuesday (Day 24), I had a Blueberry Larabar before my morning gym class, followed by another new recipe — Tempeh and Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole — with toast and tahini. This non-traditional breakfast casserole has chunks of tempeh, sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, garlic, onion, ginger, and spinach mixed with a noochy cashew cheese sauce. It made enough for four breakfasts, and it really hit the spot!

My morning snack was extra fun! I made the Fermented Cashew Cheese from the book. This aged cheese spread was made with probiotic capsules and cashews, and it was supposed to firm up after sitting out for 48 hours. It didn't firm, but that was okay. It was still very tasty! I had some (topped with dill) with Mary's Gone Crackers SuperSeed Crackers and fresh blackberries as my snack at work.

Lunch on Tuesday was another Totally Possible Burger with a salad, and dinner was another new recipe — Hearty Bean Chili with Cashew Sour Cream and Cornbread Muffins. All recipes were from The 30-Day book. The chili was a classic bean chili, and the muffins were sugar-free and low-salt. I thought they turned out great, but Paul wasn't a fan. He's not big on things tasting healthy, and he prefers sweet cornbread.

I washed it all down with an n/a Hellraiser Dark Amber ale from Well-Being! Beer and chili just go together!

On Wednesday (Day 25), I had another day of leftovers. I had a Mango Green Protein Smoothie after my 5-mile tempo run. Lunch was leftover chili and corn muffins, and dinner was leftover tacos (with red wine)!

Next Monday (the next time I blog) will be my last day of this plan, so I'll check in with a recap then! I'm also starting a new job on February 7, so this is my last week at my current job at Crosstown Arts. Lots of endings and new beginnings!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Day 22

Sunday was Day 22 on my 30-day NEURO plan from The 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book. I've been eating lots of leftovers lately, but on Sunday, I finally had time to do some cooking! On Sunday morning, I went for a one-mile run for my running streak, and then I made the last of the Chickpea Omelets. I'd portioned out the dry ingredients the week before for quick breakfasts. This was stuffed with tomatoes, mushrooms, and spinach and served with hummus and fruit.

Breakfast was more like brunch (10 am-ish), so I just had a light salad for lunch. This has cooked buckwheat, carrots, beets, mixed greens, and toasted almonds and pepitas, plus a tasty Roasted Carrot Dressing from the book. I made a big batch of the dressing for salads this week. It's oil-free, but I plan to add some olive oil to it because the texture was really thick without oil. Tasty though!

Though I've been drinking some red wine during the 30 days, I've been alternating with alcohol-free beers. My favorite brand so far is Untitled Art, and this S'mores Brew is the best one yet! It tasted just like a s'more! I enjoyed this while my dinner was in the oven (and while we watched Good Will Hunting — can you believe I'd never seen it???). 

That dinner was Totally Possible Burgers from the Alzheimer's book! Isn't that a clever name? Don't get me wrong. I love Impossible Burgers, but since this meal plan is all about whole plant foods, these Totally Possible Burgers were a nice alternative.

They're made with black beans, chickpeas, lentils, oat flour, mushrooms, beets, and spices. I love how the beets give them a meaty look. The patties were pan-fried and then baked for a firmer texture. I served them on Ezekiel sprouted buns with red onion, mixed greens, pickled jalapenos, and whole grain mustard. Plus, some sweet potato fries on the side!

Monday, January 24, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 18-21

I'm getting so close to the end of my 30-Day NEURO plan from The 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book. Next Monday is the last day! Today, I'm recapping four days on the plan because, for most of those days, I ate leftovers. 

On Wednesday (Day 18), I had a post-run smoothie for breakfast, leftover chickpea barley soup for lunch, and another tempeh farro bowl for dinner. 

On Thursday (Day 19), I had another chickpea omelet for breakfast. But for lunch, I went out on a late Christmas lunch with the leadership team from work. This was my first dining out experience in January since I've been sticking to this meal plan. We went to McEwen's, which isn't the most vegan-friendly place, but I was able to get a couple things that fit pretty well into the parameters of my plan. I ordered the Jungle of Greens Salad without chicken. This has a base of napa cabbage with lots of veggies and peanuts and a ginger sesame dressing. The dressing probably had some sugar, but that's okay! Loved that pickled ginger on top! I didn't eat the little crostini though because it appeared to be spread with dairy butter.

The soup of the day was vegan Vegetable Curry, so I ordered a cup of that as well. It was a very cold day, so this hit the spot.

Later that night, I had a bowl of post-gym class oatmeal with Complement protein, PB, and berries for dinner. 

On Friday (Day 20), I had the last of the strawberry rosewater chia pudding for breakfast, the last of the chickpea salad over greens for lunch, and the last of the Plantastic Neuroplastic quinoa-sweet potato meatballs over pasta for dinner (with a glass of red wine!).

On Saturday morning (Day 21), I had some white rice with Bragg's before my 10-mile run. During the run, I fueled with Plant Bites (real fruit snacks for endurance athletes), and afterward, I had this Berry Whole Grain Smoothie Bowl from the book. This has mixed berries, avocado, quinoa, buckwheat, Complement protein, and cardamom. Very tasty!

My smoothie bowl was my lunch since I finished my run around 1:30 pm, and my dinner was the last of the tempeh farro bowl leftovers (and another glass of wine!).

I'll be back with a Day 22 (Sunday) recap tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Day 17

Tuesday was Day 17 on the 30-Day NEURO Plan for brain health! On Tuesday mornings, I've been attending a morning bootcamp class at my gym, so I got up at 4:30 am, did yoga, and snacked on a Cashew Cookie Larabar. And then I headed to my class.

After class, I refueled with this Strawberry Rosewater Chia Pudding from the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book. This base has blended strawberries with almond milk, chia seeds, monkfruit sweetener, and rosewater. I made the rosewater myself by boiled dried rose petals. The recipe doesn't call for protein, but I added some Complement Protein since this was my post-workout.

Morning snack was dried apricots and almonds. And lunch was leftover Chickpea Barley Soup. In mid-afternoon, I had some Lilly's stevia-sweetened dark chocolate at my desk.

Dinner was awesome! I made the Tempeh Farro Bowl from the book. This has farro (another favorite underused grain!!), kale, broccoli and cauliflower, pan-seared sweet potato slices, and marinated tempeh slices, plus avocado. The recipe didn't call for a sauce, but I may use my leftover almond-chipotle sauce from last week over my leftover farro bowl tonight! Oh, and I also had a glass of red wine. Just one!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 15-16

Ooooh-ooooh, we're halfway there! Ohhh-ohhhh, livin' on a prayer! Sorry, I can't help but sing because I've surpassed the halfway point on the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution NEURO Plan. Since January 2, I've been avoiding processed foods and (mostly) avoiding sugar, working on increasing my meditation time, running and doing yoga EVERY SINGLE DAY, learning basic Spanish, playing word games, learning chess (!!), and attempting to get restorative sleep — all in an effort to set myself up for a good year of healthy habits aimed at preventing dementia. I'm using Dean and Ayesha Sherzai's 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book for the 30-day plan and recipes. 

On Sunday (Day 15), I slept in and then woke up to a Chickpea Omelet with mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes with a side salad and homemade hummus. I've always loved a good chickpea omelet, and this one was fantastic!

I had an afternoon 3K race as part of the annual Memphis Runners Track Club Winter Off-Road Series 3K, so rather than have a big lunch, I had a bowl of Fruit Salad with Peanut Butter Tahini Energy Bites (from the book). Fruit and nuts are the perfect pre-race fuel. The energy bite is made with PB, tahini, oat flour, monkfruit, and cinnamon. They're really good. They're soft and don't really hold their shape well, so I've been stashing them in the freezer.

At 2 pm, I met my friend Megan at Overton Park for the 3K race. A 3K is just 1.8 miles, so this was a quick race. It was all on trail, and we had a snow dusting Saturday night, so we got VERY muddy!

After my run, I had some Protein Plant Bites (from Complement). And for dinner, I turned my Plantastic Neuroplastic Meatballs from Friday into a burger on a sprouted Ezekiel bun with sweet potato fries! The burger was made with sweet potato, quinoa, beets, spinach, and cilantro.

I washed that down with an n/a Juicy IPA from Untitled Art. So far, Untitled Art has the best n/a beers I've tried!

I was off work for MLK Day on Monday, so slept in again. And then I made a Cherry Matcha Smoothie as my pre-run fuel. I'm avoiding sugar on this plan, but I did add some agave to this since it was pre-run. Sugar breaks down for quick energy, so I'm not counting workout nutrition in my no-sugar rule.

After my 6-miler, I had a Chickpea & Seeds Sandwich with a side salad.

And dinner was Chickpea Barley Soup with Cashew Cream! This hearty soup has pearled barley, collards, chickpeas, mushrooms carrots, celery, and leeks, and it really warmed me up on this cold night! I love the texture of barley. It's probably my favorite grain, but I so rarely cook with it. This was a reminder that I need more barley in my life.

Monday, January 17, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 11-14

I'm still chugging ahead with the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution NEURO Plan! Today (Monday) is day 16, so I'm past the halfway mark. Yay! But here's a recap of days 11-14. 

Day 11 was Wednesday, and I started the morning with a hill work run and a mango berry protein smoothie. Snack was veggies and hummus, and my lunch was a leftover Spicy Cauli Tofu Bowl. Dinner was the last of the Mushroom & Radicchio Pasta Bake. No pics since it was all leftovers.

Day 12 (Thursday) was another day of leftovers. I had the last of Zucchini Chickpea Pancakes for breakfast, a snack of dried apricots and almonds, the last of the Spicy Cauli Tofu Bowl for lunch, and a post-bootcamp bowl of oatmeal with almond butter and berries for dinner. Oatmeal has become my standard late-night dinner when I have to eat an hour before bed (due to my workout schedule and early bedtime).

Day 13 was Friday! When I made the Golden Waffles on Day 1, I saved one in the freezer. So I toasted that waffle in the toaster and topped with sugar-free homemade strawberry sauce, fresh berries, and tahini. Yum!

Back when  Paul was in the hospital in November, I made a batch of Blueberry Muffins from Dean and Ayesha Sherzai's first book, The Alzheimer's Solution. The 30-Day book that I'm using now is a complement to that original book, which has a few recipes (including these muffins). I froze some leftovers back then, and I enjoyed one as a snack on Friday. They're sweetened with stevia.

Lunch was Chickpea & Seeds on a sandwich with air-fried tortilla chips and salsa. This chickpea salad has a "mayo" base made from sunflower seeds, and it's so yummy!

For dinner, I made the Plantastic Neuroplastic Meatballs to serve over whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara. I had my long run on Saturday, so I wanted carbs! These meatballs are made with quinoa, sweet potato, beets, spinach, and cilantro. They were really good! I froze some for next Friday! Oh, and I also had a Brewdog Hazy AF alcohol-free beer.

On Saturday, I woke up early to get my long run done before the cold rain. I had a bowl of white rice with toasted sesame seeds before my run. And during my 8 miles, I had one snack of Cherry-Date Plant Bites (an all-fruit run fuel snack).

Post-run, I made the Mighty Smoothie Bowl from the book. This has a base of banana, mango, Complement Protein, and kale, and it's topped with kiwi, blueberries, apples, and walnuts. It was pretty cold during my run, and I shivered as I ate this bowl. But it was good!!

The rest of the day was leftover snacks, and I had the Plantastic Meatballs over pasta again for dinner with a glass of red wine. I'm having limited alcohol on this plan, and the authors recommend sticking with red wine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 9-10

I don't have a lot to share for Days 9 and 10 on my 30-Day NEURO Plan! I mostly ate leftovers on Monday, so I have zero pics for Day 9. But I can tell you that I started Monday with a banana with almond butter and coffee before my 4-mile run. After my run, I had a cherry almond butter smoothie.

Lunch was leftover mushroom and swiss chard pasta, and dinner was leftover split pea soup. I had a community development meeting Monday night, so I was glad to have leftovers for a quick meal.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and had coffee and a Larabar before heading to my body burn class at the gym. Afterward, I had some leftover Zucchini Chickpea Pancakes topped with spicy green hummus, salad greens, salsa, and tomatoes. An excellent breakfast!

Lunch was the last of the leftover split pea soup, and dinner was this amazing Spicy Tofu Cauli Bowl from The 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution. This has a base of brown rice, topped with sauteed cauliflower, kale, pinto beans, and smoky-cumin tofu, plus an almond-chipotle sauce that was to die for! So glad this recipe made enough for a few days. This may be my favorite meal from the book so far!

Leftovers are crucial for me surviving a meal plan! I don't have time to cook every day, so I often need to have a couple of meals batch-cooked for the week!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 7-8

Here's a recap of my first weekend on the 30-Day NEURO plan from The 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book. This plan is all about unprocessed, whole plant foods, no sugar, limited booze, restorative sleep, meditation and yoga, and brain challenges.

On Saturday morning, I had a 10-mile run on the training plan, so I woke up and had coffee and a bowl of white rice with Bragg's and sesame seeds. They Sherzais, the authors of the plan, don't recommend white rice (they prefer whole, intact grains like brown rice). But I'm making exceptions for pre- and post-run fuel. Simple carbs, like white rice, offer quick energy and are easier to digest before hitting the road. 

During my run, I fueled with Plant Bites, which are made with just fruit! So that was plan-friendly. And after my run, I had this Berry Amaranth Smoothie Bowl from the book. The base has cooked amaranth, mixed berries, almond milk, chia, orange zest, and cacao, plus I added some Complement Protein. It's topped with puffed amaranth (which I popped myself!), sunflower seeds, and fresh strawberries.

That smoothie bowl was my lunch, so I didn't eat again until dinner, when I heated up some of the leftover Creamy Mushroom & Radicchio Pasta Bake with some steamed kale. Sorry for the crappy pic! These are the kind of pics food bloggers don't want you to see. But real talk ... this is just what the plate looks like sometimes. 

Although I'm allowed a little red wine on this plan (they don't recommend drinking but say you can have some red wine if you must), I'm attempting to avoid booze as long as I can. If a social situation calls for it, I may have a glass. But for now, I'm experimenting with n/a craft beers. I found a good selection of them at Joe's Liquors. This Well-Being Sports Brew was really good! N/A beers have come a long way!

On Sunday morning, I got my one-mile run in for my run streak on the treadmill because it was rainy. I don't mind running in the rain, but I didn't want to shower right after. So I stayed dry by running inside. Afterward, I had some Zucchini Chickpea Pancakes from the book. These were like pudla! Made with chickpea flour, shredded zucchini, and chopped jalapenos. I served them with Spicy Green Hummus and avocado.

I had a late breakfast, and Paul wanted to go see the new Spider-Man movie in the theater. So for "lunch," I made a big bowl of popcorn and snuck it into the theater! I popped it with olive oil because the plan doesn't allow for coconut oil (due to the saturated fat).

When we got home, I whipped up a big bot of Spicy Yellow Split Pea Soup with Pomegranate and Spinach from the book. This was as tasty as it looks!! It was a beautiful dish, and it tasted that way too!

Monday, January 10, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Days 5-6

Here's a quick recap of Thursday and Friday of last week on the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution NEURO plan for brain health! 

On Thursday morning, I did my Yoga with Adriene video and then had some leftover Mediterranean Tofu Scramble with Sprouted Grain Toast spread with Spicy Green Hummus. The hummus recipe is in the book, and it is loaded with cilantro and jalapenos!

Morning snack was Apricots and Almonds.

And lunch was a big salad with leftover Taco Quinoa.

I had an evening workout class at my gym downtown, so I got home kinda late for dinner. In the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution book, they say that you shouldn't eat within a couple hours of bedtime for optimal sleep. But if you must eat late, avoid high-energy foods. They suggested oatmeal because it's easy on the digestive system and promotes good sleeop. So I had a bowl of protein oats (with Complement Protein) for dinner!

On Friday, morning, I did another yoga video (plus my one-mile run for my January run streak) and then had the last of the scramble for breakfast. 

Morning snack was Blackberries & Almonds.

And lunch was another salad topped with the green hummus!

I typically have a glass of wine after work on Fridays to kick off the weekend, but I'm trying to avoid alcohol on this plan, so I found this Simple Truth Zero Sugar Kombucha! I had no idea that was even possible! I'm also avoiding sugar on this plan, so this was a great find. It tasted great! It was sweetened with erythritol, which is all-natural and my favorite sugar-free sweetener so far. 

Dinner was fun! I had my long run planned for Saturday, so I selected a pasta dish from the book for carb-loading. I made the Creamy Mushroom & Radicchio Pasta Bake. But I couldn't find radicchio anywhere (looked in three stores!), so I subbed Belgian endive. This also has mushrooms, chard, and a tasty nooch sauce.

I'll check in with Saturday and Sunday eats tomorrow.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

30-Day NEURO Plan, Day 4

Wednesday was my fourth day on the 30-Day Alzheimer's Solution NEURO Plan. I started my morning with coffee (sweetened with monkfruit!), a bowl of pineapple, and a handful of walnuts. Then I did a Yoga with Adriene yoga video (I'm doing her 30 January challenge), followed by a 5-mile tempo run.

After my run, I had a Berry Cocoa Green Smoothie. This has unsweetened almond milk, strawberries, banana, cocoa powder, flax, spinach, monkfruit powder, and Complement protein. Not a pretty color but tasty!

Morning snack at work was a handful of Dried Apricots and Raw Almonds

And lunch was the last of my leftover Pinto Bean Quesadillas with Steamed Kale. The quesadillas were stuffed with pintos, bell peppers, corn, spinach, red cabbage, and cashew queso. I'm sad to be out of quesadilla filling.

In the afternoon, I had more Dark Chocolate Orange Pistachio Truffles. And then dinner was more leftovers! I had some leftover Taco Quinoa on a salad.

Not as exciting of a food day, but it was definitely an easier day in the kitchen since my meals were based around leftovers. I'm trying to make sure I have enough of each dish to last for a few days because, in the past, I've done meal plans where I was cooking new dishes every night, and that was exhausting. I also go to bed so early now (8:30 pm) that there isn't much time to cook or meal prep on weeknights.

This challenge is not just about the food though. It's also focused on exercise, unwinding, restorative sleep, and optimizing the brain. For the unwinding part, I'm working on increasing my time in meditation. I've meditated for five minutes a day for several years. But I'd like to get up to 10 minutes before this challenge is over. So each week, I'll be increasing my meditation time a bit. I'm also committing to putting my phone away during meal times. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, I'm reading magazines or books during my meals.

The sleep portion is still a struggle. I get to bed most nights at 8:30 pm (and wake up between 4:30 and 5 am), so I'm working on putting my phone away 30 minutes before bed. I'd also like to invest in a better white noise machine. Right now, we use Alexa for fan sounds at night, but my wifi is crappy, and it typically cuts out for a few seconds in the middle of the night and shuts Alexa off. That always wakes me up. Definitely something I need to look into!