Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Bye-Bye, Sugar!

The next three blog entries were previously written in October & November, but were never posted. The truth is, I wanted to document my attempt at the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) and talk about getting fit and healthy but I was scared I would fail and I only wanted to post them if I was successful (I know, I have issues, but I also have a high failure rate when it comes to eating healthy). I wrote them as I went along and saved them to my computer….only to be completely ignored as life (and grad school) got in the way! Now that I have a few weeks off from school I felt like working on my neglected blog and I thought it was important to share some of the stuff I’ve been doing over the past few months.

October 12, 2014

My blog has been sadly ignored and abandoned. I am back today because I am about to do something extremely crazy (ok not really!) and just felt the need to write about it.

But first, over the past few months I have made some important changes in my life. Somewhere along the way I had this epiphany….I need to exercise (DUH!)! A new gym was being built close to our home and Hubs expressed an interest in joining. We thought for sure we’d be successful if we joined a facility that we had to drive past every day and was only a 2 minute drive from home. We both got excited and were ready to get our exercise on…we checked it out and I suddenly had a premonition…I would go for a month or two committed and enthusiastic…I would get on the treadmill one day, the bike the next day, I would be afraid of the weights and weight machines and then I would be bored and discouraged from lack of progress….just like every other gym experience I’ve had. This gym really had nothing to offer besides location and I just didn’t feel it was a good investment….but I wanted to do SOMETHING!

I started to give some thought to CrossFit, which is a popular trend right now. Although I hate being a conformist, it seems that I always end up on the latest fad bandwagon, whether it’s a new popular diet (pretty sure I still have some nutrisystem food lying around, which will come in handy for the end of days, that stuff will never go bad!!) or some new exercise fad (anyone need some P90X DVDS…only used one time!). That’s not to say everything that is a fad is bad and it’s important to  objectively research and learn what you can about it; which is just what I did.

Crossfit Humor

It was difficult to find objective information on Crossfit. The internet is overflowing with two types of Crossfit articles: those that are anti-Crossfit and those that are overzealous about Crossfit. Despite this, I was able to come to my own unbiased conclusion and started to look for a Crossfit program in my area. I recognized that Crossfit is not for the faint of heart…that it wouldn’t be easy…but it just felt “right” to me (try listening to your instincts some time…they work!). For the first time I felt excited about making a commitment to getting my body in top shape. So when Hubs asked what I wanted for my 35th birthday (please don’t tell anyone I’m not 24!) I told him “Crossfit!” I know he was skeptical because he knows me…Oh. So. Well. I’m sure he was thinking “here we go again…another thing for her to start and quit after a few months.” However since he is a rockin’ husband he supported me and said “of course dear” and paid for me to take the two week introductory class. I survived “On-Ramp” where I learned a lot of the basic moves and we focused on proper form….and although I literally could just barely walk for two weeks (and did you know your elbow muscles can get sore?) I knew I had made the right decision.


I have been doing the regular Crossfit classes for about a month now. I feel good. And strong. And sometimes sore….well most of the time sore…but it has been worth it. Hubs calls me his “Little Meathead” and I take it as a compliment. I ran a half mile without stopping for the first time ever in my life (I couldn’t even run 200 meters when I started)!! I am actually starting to get a butt (bye-bye flat ass!) and my hour glass shape is slowly making a reappearance. I have more energy and actually exercise on my “off-days” by walking/running with Gemma Pooches. This may not seem like a big deal to some people who do not struggle to exercise (or just to get off the couch!)…but to me it is huge! My small victories are what keep me going. In the next year I intend to be in the best physical health I have ever been. Nothing’s going to stop me now!!

Well…maybe one thing…

My bad eating habits and love of junk food.

eating habits ecard

The strange thing about getting fit and exercising regularly is that it actually makes your body want healthy foods…but then your brain and your emotions take over and say “ignore your body; you NEED that second slice of pizza!!” “You had a salad for lunch. You can have ice cream for dinner (or a cupcake, which I’ve done…more than once).” Even since starting Crossfit I just cannot get my act together and eat right. A lot of people in the CrossFit community eat a “Paleo” diet and so I started to look into it. Although I am not sold on following it completely I am definitely in favor of eating “real food!”

cookie dough ecard

That’s what brought me to what I am about to do in few days…the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo. When I came across it I remembered a friend’s sister had done it and blogged about it. I went back and read her blog post and I was sold! Since I’ve known her as an acquaintance I felt that if she can do it then I can too. I purchased the book, read it in one sitting and started to prepare. The thing that I love is that the book validated all the things I suspected about myself….that my body cannot handle processed food and my blood sugar levels are on a constant roller coaster ride and as much as I do not want to admit it “I am a sugar addict.” I used to think part of me was crazy…how could I possibly eat a large McDonald’s value meal and be hungry 2 hours later…it had to be mental…but it wasn’t. I was genuinely hungry! After reading the book I understand how these processed and unnatural foods work (or actually don’t work) in the body and are keeping me overweight and still hungry! I highly recommend this book. It is written in a way that is easy to understand and you can really see the effect sugar has on the body.

I am excited, but anxious at the same time….the same way I felt when I made the decision to start Crossfit. It’s a good anxiety because I just know this is something that is going to be the start of a new me!

So with that said, I will be back with my experience and hopefully my success. In honor of healthy new habits here is a quick and yummy smoothie recipe.

Cinnamon Pear Smoothie

1 pear

½ banana (frozen optional)

½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or add up to 1 cup for a thinner smoothie)

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg


In a blender combine all ingredients and blend well.

Serve immediately.


Warm Weather Means Cool Treats!

As the weather warms up, I have been getting back into eating Smoothies for breakfast, as a healthy snack or sometimes even as dessert. There are a million and one different smoothie recipes out there but today I’ll be sharing my personal favorites.

(BTW, I haven’t snapped any photos of my smoothies so this was one I found on a free photo site.)

This past week has been a struggle….and I’m not sure why, but I have been feeling so hungry. I did drop 2 more pounds, and really didn’t go off the wagon (stayed in my WW “points” budget despite eating fast food and indulging in some “Faturday” treats! Thanks WW!). I feel like I am eating a lot, but still I am hungry!  I’ve increased the amount of veggies and fruits I eat (since they are 0 points and packed with fiber) but it just doesn’t seem to be helping.  I know all the nutritional information out there says that fiber-rich foods will fill you up but this just does not happen for me!

Which brings me to protein powder…

I do sometimes add vanilla whey protein powder to my smoothies, especially if I make them for breakfast so as to help keep me fuller. I’ve read a bit here and there about protein powders in regards to the average person (not athletes or body builders) and there is a lot of mixed information, including some studies that say protein powders do not work and that you are basically just consuming chemicals….hmmmm…interesting.

So based on what I’ve come across I choose to believe:

  • They can be harmful if over used or not used properly.
  • They should not be used for weight loss (i.e. don’t replace all or most meals with protein shakes) and they should only be used if you are not getting enough protein in your diet.
  • They do make you feel fuller.
  • As long as I am not ingesting more grams of protein than I should be in a day, then I will use them every now and then.

And as I’ve mentioned before, when I begin the “healthy phase” of my transformation (that is when I am finished with my diet, have dropped all the pounds I need to, and work towards a healthier lifestyle), I will try to find an alternative, as I do not think they really fit into the category of what is genuinely “healthy”.

Speaking of alternatives….

I’ve started to switch over to Greek yogurt which has much more protein than regular yogurt. At first I really didn’t like it, but it has grown on me and I do like to use it for baking (it’s awesome in pancakes & waffles!) and now in my smoothies. So if you use Greek yogurt you definitely would not need the protein powder because you’ll be getting a large amount of protein from it. For the recipes in this post that use yogurt, my personal favorite is Dannon Light N’ Fit Vanilla, but you can use whatever you like.

One last note about using a blender…the most important thing to do when using any type of blender is to follow the instructions that came with your blender. They should include instructions on how to crush ice, as well as what order to put the ingredients in. For example, in the case of smoothies or things with ice, you typically would put in the liquid ingredients first and building up to the ice last. Until I realized this, I could never get my stuff to blend well….even with a decent blender.  After getting fed up I turned to the instruction manual and learned that I had been doing it all wrong.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothies are and please feel free to share your own thoughts on making these delicious treats!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie (WW pointsplus: Without protein powder = 4; With protein powder = 7)

1 cup light chocolate soy milk

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup ice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

Splenda, to taste (optional)

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until ice is crushed and it reaches smoothie consistency.


Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie (WW pointsplus: with protein powder = 7; Without protein powder = 4)

½ cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

1/3 cup fat free cottage cheese

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. splenda

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

1 cup frozen strawberries

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1. Add cottage cheese to blender and blend for about 30 seconds until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Top with whipped cream.


Strawberry Banana Smoothie (WW pointsplus = 5)

½ banana, sliced, frozen

½-3/4 cup frozen strawberries

½ cup fat free vanilla yogurt

½ cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

2 tbsp. splenda


  1. Add all ingredients to blender and run until well combined and smooth.


Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie (WW pointsplus: with protein powder = 9; without protein powder = 5)

1 cup fat free skim milk or almond milk

2 tbsp. PB2 or  reduced fat peanut butter

1 tbsp. Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsp. splenda

1 cup ice

1 scoop protein powder (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and run until smooth.


Tropical Fruit Smoothie (WW pointsplus =  5)

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

1 cup frozen mixed fruit (like the kind by Dole)

1 cup ice

1-2 tbsp. splenda (optional)

  1.  Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.


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