Why you should give yourself a cheat meal

It’s been months of sweating, grinding, working and slaving away. The gym has become your fortress. The kitchen is the place for meal prepping. And all you really want is a big slice of pizza.

Why you should have a cheat meal - by Strong Sweet Caroline

That’s a normal face David makes. And if I had to pick, I’d pick him over the pizza as the prettier of the two 😀

No more chicken and rice or beef and potatoes. Rice cakes can stay in the cupboard for an evening. Let’s plan to indulge a bit and bump up the calories.

If you have a personal trainer or coach, your meal plan is probably pretty rigid. Sometimes, that is the best way to start a routine! I actually enjoy structure because it holds me accountable and takes the thinking out of eating and cooking. I do more of that for my own clients and boyfriend than for myself. 🙂

With added stress during the week, mentally and physically, how do you determine if you NEED a cheat meal? A downright dirty, greasy, salivating entree?

  • Listen to your BODY. I cannot preach enough that the sooner you can learn your body, how it feels on a daily basis, what effects it positively and negatively, and what it needs, the sooner you will be able to optimize your health. I know certain locations on my body that become tight from daily stress, specific foods that will cause me to bloat and ones that won’t. The more keen you are on learning your body, the happier you will be.
  • Coach told you so. Competing in bodybuilding competitions has given me a new appreciation for feedback. When someone else is accountable to witness and inspect your progress, they often notice things you would never see with your own eyes. We interpret our bodies different than others. Sometimes we judge ourselves too hard. Other times, we don’t see the real picture enough. With build up of cortisol, it can impact the body tremendously. Incorporating a cheat meal can actually help your body’s chemical balance, when done appropriately and within means of your long-term health. Binge eating on the weekend is not appropriate, as I’ve said before. Just need to be careful. We get one body. Let’s care for it.
  • Reason to get out and do something new. I admit, I like to stay at home, spend time alone and work. But, sometimes to get re-energized and motivated, you need to get out of your element, find a new environment and enjoy life in a new form. David and I decided to explore around the Little 5 Points area and to our delight, we tried Savage Pizza. Oddly enough, neither of us had eaten there before. WE WERE MISSING SOMETHING INCREDIBLE! Not only was the food delicious, but the superhero themed restaurant did not disappoint with its eclectic surrounding.

We decided to go all out with some breadsticks, Greek salad and a large Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza with extra chicken of course!

Who wouldn’t see gains from that? The bathroom was pretty neat by the way. Covers of superheros!

Before full out food coma set in, we walked around the town, enjoyed some live music and night life.

Why you should have a cheat meal - by Strong Sweet Caroline

What is your favorite cheat meal? How do you strategically incorporate it into your lifestyle? It works well either right after a heavy workout or the day before a heavy workout. Then, it’s on to meal prepping for the new week!

I am launching a new Meal Prep 30 Challenge! Want to join? Sign up through this link by June 29th and more information will follow. You don’t want to miss out on some great prizes and even better learning opportunities!

Meal Prep 30 Challenge with Strong Sweet Caroline

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Super Food Pumpkin Granola & Thanksgiving

This is the season for gratitude. Alright, every day and moment should have some gratitude! With Thanksgiving this week, it’s more important than ever to be grateful for the people, things and opportunities we have in life.

I think it’s easy for people to get caught in the whirlwind of our day to day. It’s the grind right? Different days of the week, as well as highs and lows each day, get us axel-wrapped. But all it comes down to is one life. One.

I think Thanksgiving is being heavily overlooked this year. Christmas decorations put up almost immediately after Halloween, Black Friday deals being blasted for weeks and numerous other distractions keeping us preoccupied with what matters most.

If you are like me, you might need a break from it all. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk in a nature park. Do some yoga. Drink a cup of hot tea. Read a new book. Just sit in quiet with your loved one(s) taking in the environment.

Then, come back and remember that love and appreciate you experienced in the little moments. Live each day finding things your are grateful for–make a list of three things at the end of each day or just think about them in your head.

It makes you feel better, right? As you may have read in my last post, the kitchen is one of my muses and I recently felt unattached. My boyfriend David helped me find reconnection and reminded me why he is one of the people I am most grateful for in life. He cherishes me more than anyone and helps me find my inner self and overcome any challenge, even when he travels and is states away.

My latest recipe got me excited to cook and work towards what I’m grateful to work towards — inspiring others to make health simple. David liked it too, even though he isn’t a big pumpkin fan. 🙂

Strong Sweet Caroline | super food pumpkin granola and gratitude

Here is a recipe perfect for Thanksgiving: pumpkin granola! Make ahead of time and put in separate bags for gift giving, sprinkle on top of some yogurt for a dessert or use at home as a breakfast like I did topping my egg whites.

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What are you most grateful for this week? Thanks for reading and look forward to more gratitude and positivity in the blog and each day in your own life.


Super Food Pumpkin Granola

Makes 10 1/2 cup servings

Macros: 158 calories, 4.7g proteins, 22g carbs, 5.8g fats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled or quick oats
  • 1/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and patted dry with paper towel
  • 2 Tbsp agave
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1/4 c raw pepitas
  • 1/4 c chopped nuts
  • 1/2 c dried berries

Process

  • Preheat oven 325 degrees.
  • Spread oats and quinoa on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes in oven.
  • While oats toast, in a small bowl combine agave, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, spices, salt and vanilla.
  • Pour the toasted oats into a medium bowl and add chia seeds, pepitas, nuts and fruit.
  • Pour the sweet pumpkin mixture and stir in until oats and seeds evenly coated.
  • Spread on baking sheet again and bake additional 20-30 minutes until golden.
  • Granola will crisp as it cools.

Quality cooking time and spaghetti squash DIY video

How do you define quality time spent with loved ones? Is it that you run errands and go shopping together? Do you watch the same television show? Host parties and get-together’s? Since David and I have been dating, we have shared a bond over quality cooking time.

As bodybuilders, yes, we eat a lot. Yes, we spend more time in the kitchen than the average couple. However, we also make time for quality cooking time.

What I mean by that is, we commit to usually once per week where we will cook one nice meal together. None of the recipe will have already been “meal prepped” for the week. It will start from scratch, beginning to end.

What works for us is assigning specific parts of the meal each of us will prepare. Since I cook 99% of David’s meals while he is gone for work, he usually takes charge of the protein. He has also become quite fond of our new cast-iron skillet, which somehow, I STILL have not had the pleasure to try!

But, nonetheless, David works the oven and I will gather up vegetables, side dishes and, my specialty–desserts.

The meal we prepared a few weeks ago was homemade Greek flatbread pizzas.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and Vlog

We used Naan flatbreads, fat free Balsamic dressing, fat free feta cheese, shrimp, chicken (which was precooked), spinach, onions, garlic, peppers and dry spices. In about 45 minutes, the meal was made.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and VlogStrong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and Vlog

Dessert consisted of our favorite, Enlightened Ice Cream. If y’all have not tried it, it is a competitor to Halo Top. And in my opinion, way better. More creamy and satisfying flavors.

This week, while David’s been gone for work and I’ve been working my jobs and checking off priorities for launching my company, it dawned on me. We are the lucky ones.

Why is that? Because after dating for 10 months, both 25 years young, we understand and prioritize “quality time” with loved ones. I’d say that is pretty uncommon, wouldn’t you?

David and I are putting together a series of weekend videos. The latest shows some of our shenanigans with me cooking spaghetti squash, his breakfast routine and some farmer’s market fun.

How will you make the most of quality time? Do share in the comments, subscribe and follow our adventures!

 

– Strong Sweet Caroline