I've made so far: The chocolate chip pancakes. Amazing tasting, speedy and a great breakfast. Breakfast nachos! Better than expected and took all of 5 minutes. Sausage Biscuit, a more time intensive meal but I found the end result great. I actually used the leftovers to make things other than sausage biscuits such as a reasonably sized sausage sub for lunch as well. The biscuits were so good that I ate a couple on their own!
I decided to make it while my older boys were at baseball practice (so they wouldn’t see what I was making) and then give them a piece after dinner and get their feedback. They. Loved. It. When I told them it had a can of Diet Coke in it, their jaws hit the floor! You can use any kind of diet soda and any cake mix too – I’m already thinking of the yummy combos! Strawberry cake mix + orange soda, funfetti cake + lemon-lime soda, I mean seriously the list goes on and on! I’m a chocolate freak and currently trying to maintain a healthier diet, so this really hit the spot!
Don’t try to “work it off.” We’ve all been there: you eat a few too many cookies, then pledge to hit the gym extra hard the following day. Bad news: you can’t out-exercise a poor diet. In fact, exercising is the least efficient way that our bodies burn calories. So what should you do? Don’t worry about it. In order to gain one real pound, you would have to eat 3500 calories over your caloric limit. That’s over 5000 calories in a day! As long as you’re not going over your calorie budget on a regular basis, one day won’t derail your diet. So forget about cookies of the past and just keep sticking to your plan.
I just read through this whole exchange and I understand both (all three, rather) sides of the point. As someone who has trudged my way through binge eating disorder-turned-bulemia-turned binge again, a few short years ago, my goal was reduced to the smallest nutshell of wanting freedom with food–not freedom from it. I have been through layer after layer of motives, belief systems regarding food and exercise, victory and despair. I currently find myself in a place of peace. On the way, I was the person who could not forgive herself for her poor decisions, learning the hard way that my unforgiveness only compounded those choices and led to further destructive behavior. I think folks who identify with that mindset are the author’s intended audience. As far as Mandy’s point about tough love, I had many points at which I would have given many things to have had someone in my life offer some accountability. If I got it, I certainly did not recognize it. I married a beautiful man who had no grid for my struggles. He wrestled competitively for most of his life, a crazy high metabolism and no problems with eating whatever he wanted. His weight has not fluctuated more than 5 pounds in the 11 years I’ve known him and he has no ailments outside of a bum knee from an old injury. He does not go work out and never thinks twice about what he eats despite having a sizeable sweet tooth. His version of tough love was to tell me to put up with the trigger foods because my choices were my own. I had to climb a steep mountain to keep foods in the house that I considered triggers. There is a great chance that I would be much slimmer now if I had been feeding only myself and had total jurisdiction over the pantry’s contents. However, if not for that scenario, I may not have been nudged into deeper freedom. I found myself with an opportunity to take advantage of a rigorous situation: how do I get myself to make good choices in an environment over which I did not have total control? I learned that there is an idealism in me which is strong enough to override impulses and bad habits. I don’t even know how to articulate what it was, but the notion was implemented with the question, “would I be happier if I did eat “x” or if I did not eat “x?” Sometimes the answer has been yes, sometimes it’s been no. I had to repeatedly search deep within myself to discover what is really important to me. Asking myself this question turned a new page in my life. It isn’t my focal point anymore, but from time to time I find myself asking it again. I transitioned into a different stage where my internal dialog became “You are a grown-a!$ woman and can make a decision you’re willing to stand by,” haha. This question has not been limited to regarding my food choices, either. I have had to find my own unorthodox inspiration to pursue joy in my life. Along these lines, I learned some other things about myself. It turns out movement, not merely exercise, is something I cherish, so I make it a priority in my day. I discovered that the only reason I was so concerned with my body image was because other people made it their business to criticize me (I went through a season of heavy criticism at a sensitive age. Not all had to do with my body, but much of it did). Once I moved past being so self-conscious, I didn’t mind being a little chubby. In fact, I like my curves and they do not get in my way! Something I never expected began to occur as soon as my attitude settled into contentment. Every couple of weeks I think to weigh myself. And you know what? I am a few ounces less each time! I know that this rate of progress is not for everybody, but for me it is golden. It simply confirms that if in my mind I am free, the rest really does take care of itself. My greatest motivator is, has been and will always be joy. It doesn’t matter if there are chips, kale, cookies or quinoa in the kitchen; what matters is that neither healthy nor unhealthy food control me. Also, I have learned that it is wise to be okay whether or not those around me are.

Rich and delicious, this vegan carrot cake is filled and topped with a thick layer of dairy-free cream cheese frosting for extra creaminess in every bite.

Get the recipe for Vegan Carrot Cake with "Cream Cheese" Frosting


The goal is not to demonize any kind of food. There is nothing wrong with a cookie or a piece of pizza. However, it is important to be mindful of how much and how often we eat certain foods. Seek balance and practice moderation. Remember that food is necessary for both nourishment and enjoyment. Work on not only having a healthy body, but also on having a healthy relationship with yourself and with food.
The Most Decadent Diet Ever! is actually NOT a diet book! It tells the story of how I’ve lost over 70 pounds and kept it off WITHOUT dieting! Then it offers over 125 incredibly decadent recipes – the stuff we all crave (like Buffalo Wings and Chocolate Layer Cake). It’s the perfect book if you think that healthy food can’t be insanely delicious AND/OR if you love to bake (though there are plenty of “real food” recipes too). The recipes are simple, but many do take a bit of time.

This delicious and decadent vegan salted caramel apple crumble tart is absolutely perfect for fall, but definitely one to add to your arsenal year round!

Get the recipe for Vegan Apple Crumble Tart with Salted Caramel


Using the peanut paste, you can smear it on apples, bananas, or rice crackers. You can also replace the peanut butter in your favourite Thai noodle sauce with PB2, or use it in its powdered form in baked goods. If you go the baked goods route, make sure to swap out about ¼ of flour the recipe calls for since you’ll be adding extra powder with the PB2.
If you want to beat food guilt, think about why you have it in the first place. What triggers your guilt? It might be specific foods or it might be an internal feeling. Now think about why. Do you feel bloated after you eat it? Did someone once tell you that X food was healthier than Y food and now you feel bad after eating Y food? Once you find the root of your guilt, you can start to alleviate it.
The research on the Health Halo - the idea that we make generalized assumptions about the health of a food based on a few trendy claims  - isn’t new. In the past, we’ve studied a similar phenomenon in people, being that we assume when we meet a person who is physically attractive, we also assume that the are also social, friendly, fun, competent etc. (a discussion for another day). But newer research is showing that we make these same generalizations from claims on food packaging. Foods labeled as ‘low calorie’ ‘fair trade’ ‘organic’ ‘natural’ we infer that they are superior in many ways to their shelf competitors. But not just superior - we assume it’s overall lower in calories. With fair-trade chocolate bars, there was an assumption that they ‘fair trade’ version was lower in calories - even though the way chocolate is farmed and traded doesn’t have much to do with it’s caloric content - we assume it does based on the claim!
The recipes include a selection of comfort foods and indulgent treats that have been made healthier by reducing their levels of fat and calories. For example, a typical slice of chocolate cake has 746 calories and 38 grams of fat, whereas Alexander’s recipe for Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Buttercream Frosting has just 294 calories and 6 grams of fat.
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