Thursday, December 13, 2012

Healthy Tipping Point

I picked up my latest read a few months ago at Barnes and Noble, and have slowly been able to read through this great book by Caitlin Boyle titled, The Healthy Tipping Point. Boyle provides a refreshing holistic approach to developing long-term health goals.



She provides great insight based on the notions that you have to be in the right frame of mind regarding your health, you can't focus too strongly on your errors or engage in self-sabotage by restricting your diet, giving in to negative self-talk, or use compulsive exercising as atonement.

Think about the diets you may have tried in the past. Did you stick them out? Did you ever feel like you were missing out on something by restricting certain important foods from your diet? Short-term diets and fads don't leave rooms for imperfections. It's really ok to have dessert, bread, and appetizers- but in moderation! Don't choose all three, just choose one.

Popular diet advice that is tossed around the mainstream media frequently focuses on being "perfect"- such rigid thinking is bound to end in disappointment. Being happy doesn't come from physical attributes, it comes from peace within and eating, exercise helps to get us there.

Boyle points out, statistically speaking, the vast majority of diets are failures. The diet mentality can't compare to a long-term, holistic view of health- which is something I've learned within the last few years.

Something that really stuck with me while reading this is to reframe your health goals by changing the way you see, instead of simply changing the way you look. Positive changes begin in the mind. I've come to realize healthy living is about the emotional aspect of life as much as the physical side.

Einstein once famously said, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." If you want to truly change your behavior, you have to change your motivational methods. Remember this when you start feeling yourself slip away from your healthy holistic approach- Believe that small decisions can add up to something amazing.

If you're interested in learning more or just want to keep up with Caitlyn Boyle, check out both of her blogs either here or here

Morning rituals

During my high school days, you could always find me taking part in some kind of physical activity whether it be cheerleading, softball, volleyball, weight training, or doing stadiums at the high school football field.

All of the team activities I participated in, my coaches would always emphasize the importance of stretching before and after physical activity. Even on the days of rest, it was always good to stretch. 

Nowadays, I'll stretch occasionally, but not nearly as much or for as long as I should be. For the past few weeks, I have been trying to rethink my morning routines. Instead of waking up at the last minute and having to jump out of bed in a rush and quickly get going in the mornings, I'm trying to remember to set my alarm about 20 minutes earlier than normal to slowly wake up. Did you know stretching warms up your joints and increases your blood flow while simultaneously awakening your mind?

Stretching in and of itself can actually be a form of exercise. So instead of hitting the snooze button in the morning, take the extra 10-20 minutes to stretch and get the juices going and easy away any stress or tension from the previous day's activity or a funky sleeping position.

You can keep your morning stretches simple without  even leaving the bed! Try these 5 simple stretches tomorrow morning:
  1. Sitting indian style, cross your fingers and raise your arms above your head, palms facing the ceiling. Breath in and out for 10 seconds.
  2. Remain in the indian style, and slowly roll your neck from side to side- loosening the tension and muscles in your neck and shoulders.
  3. While lying on your back, start with your right arm extended out to the side, palm down and bring your right leg across your body to stretch your lower back and gluteous maximus. Hold for 10-20 seconds and rotate, stretching your left side.
  4. Most people are used to stretching their quads while standing up, by standing on one leg and bending your opposite leg (knee facing the ground) while holding onto your foot/ankle behind your back, but it's also something you can do while lying down on your side. To really maximize your quad stretch, squeeze your glut max while engaged in the stretch. Since quads are one of the most overworked muscles in the body, make sure to stretch them every day.
  5. I love a good hamstring stretch! Make sure that when you do this stretch your pelvis is square (keep your hips centered and flat). Think of this stretch as a way to wake up your legs. Circle your ankles a few times in each direction, too to help with circulation, and strengthening. 

ViSalus inspiration

In October, I shared with you some of my favorite protein shake  breakfast options. Usually I like to have my protein shake in the mornings. I'll drink half before a run, and finish the other half for my post-workout snack on most days. Other days I might feel like having something a little heartier and go for a peanut butter and sliced bananas on whole-wheat toast- very satisfying!

Through Facebook I've been following the company ViSalus, which is the supplier of my protein powder. Every day they usually post a new recipe for their Vi-Shakes or something to motivate their readers to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

They've been coming up with some super delicious looking shakes and other protein treats, and I figured I would share some of my favorites with you! Hope you enjoy!

First up is the awesome Pumpkin Pie Shake I tried last month to get me in the Thanksgiving spirit:


Ingredients:
  • 2 scoops Vi-Shake mix
  • 8-10 oz almond milk
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 ice cubes
Directions:

Combine all ingredients except the ice cubes in the blender, and pour into favorite glass over ice.



The Apple Pie Vi-Shake was to die for! It tasted of sweet, cinnamon apples- and while drinking it, I pretended I was indulging in a scoop of my favorite vanilla bean ice cream :)


For all my fellow pineapple lovers, this one's for you! This shake tastes just like the real deal without overindulging in all the calories.

The next three treats will help you get into the Christmas spirit!



In the picture ^^ it's not as much a Christmas time shake, but can you really turn down this Frappuccino shake?

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed ice
  • 8 oz almond milk
  • 2 scoops Vi-Shape protein powder
  • 2-1 oz shots of espresso or use 3/4 cup of double strength (strong) coffee and increase crushed ice amount by 1/4 cup
  • 2 tbsp Splenda
  • Use flavor coffee like caramel
Last, but certainly not least- my favorite December shake, Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino...


Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp sugar free peppermint syrup
  • 1 tbsp coffee (optional)
  • 8 oz almond milk
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1 tbsp Ovaltine malt mix
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Happy Holidays!!



Running With Technology

Through my journey of training for my first 5k, I have come across some useful tools to help me track my workouts. Recently there was a Groupon for a pedometer, so at half off I was able to purchase it to track my daily step counts, the distance I run, and time my strides. Even if I lost myself in a good run and let time slip away the pedometer has a digital clock to help me stay on track with my busy schedule.

My route for running goes from my house, into a near-by park, but I was never sure how far I was running. In order to prepare better for the 5k, I wanted to be able to set weekly running goals and work up my endurance with different walking to running timing intervals. At the beginning of the training the pedometer was just what I was looking for. Until my best friend gave me an early Christmas/birthday present :)

After loosing two iPod's to water incidents, I was lost trying to run without any tunes to motivate me. My dear friend gave me the best gift I've received in a long time, an iPod Nano 7th generation! My other two iPod's were nothing compared to this one.

Now not only can I keep track of all my music, but I can also stay updated on my favorite tv shows, movies, podcasts, and home videos, keep track of my fitness without getting tangled in headphone cords with the new Bluetooth technology, and tune into FM radio.

It seems like the possibilities are almost endless with this device that is about the size of a credit card. But don't let the size fool you, this new nano boasts a new multi-touch screen that's nearly double the size of the previous iPod nano. The best part about the whole thing are all the fun colors the new nano comes in...


You can't forget the case convenient for running and exercise. The purple arm band pictured below is more of a fashion band that can be purchased on Amazon for $12.85.


Or you could go for a sportier version from Belkin found on Amazon and Best Buy for $29.99.


This iPod Nano has been my favorite workout partner so far. It gives me some much needed musical motivation and provides real-time feedback. With the Nike+ support and built-in pedometer, there's no need   to connect a receiver or use a shoe sensor to track my steps, distance, pace, time and calories burned. 

With the Bluetooth technology, I can connect wirelessly to heart rate monitors and headphones- this makes running with my hyper Jack Russell so much easier! And at the end of my workout, I sync my iPod Nano to nikeplus.com to track my daily activities and goals, check my NikeFuel, and monitor my fitness progress against my friends.

I have also recently downloaded Endomondo, which is an app for iPhone users which is very similar to the nano. The only difference I've found so far is that the app tracks my path and can provide satellite images of my run to share with my friends. Pretty cool! 





Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How to stay on track during the holidays

Excluding the month of September, the other three months ending in "ber" all seem to pose health challenges for me. It starts cooling down outside making me crave stews, chicken and dumplings, and all other cooler weather comfort foods; my closet starts rearranging from shorts and tanks to pants and sweaters, making me less aware of the trouble areas that are hidden by my clothes.

 And to top if all off, with Halloween in October it seems every where I turn there's some kind of candy or chocolate shoved into my face. With all the casseroles, pies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and everything else in between Thanksgiving and Christmas with cookie parties and such- by the time you're into January, no wonder why everyone's New Year's Resolution is losing weight.

But all of this doesn't mean the holidays have to be an unhealthy time of year. In fact, in order to get anywhere with your health goals you have to think long-term goals and try your hardest not to lose track of that, otherwise you'll spend the first few months of the new year trying to just get back to where you started. It's important to keep long-term health goals in mind. Try having a healthy holiday! The first simple and effective step towards that goal is do not use the season as an excuse to splurge.

Just a few simple tools can put you in control and gliding through the holidays with a positive, can-do attitude. Through my subscription to Weight Watchers I received a very helpful email that gave me a brighter outlook on my health options for this holiday season.

Challenge yourself to use these easy tricks:

  1. Always eat a healthy dinner before you go to a holiday party.
  2. Bring healthy foods to potlucks.
  3. At appetizer tables, choose two or three of your favorites and put them on a small plate, or even a napkin. Then, walk away.
  4. When you're done with your food, throw away the napkin or take your plate to the kitchen.
  5. Avoid large plates.
  6. At a buffet, cover most of your plate with veggies and fruits. Then find room for smaller portions of the high-calorie main dishes.
  7. Watch out for times when you feel guilty for overeating. Just because you slipped up at lunch isn't license to overindulge all day. Remember: one meal is one meal. One day is one day.
  8. One the nights you decide to have a drink, limit yourself to one or two. Don't indulge every night, and choose your drinks wisely.
  9. Drink extra water to help flush out the excess sodium you consume during rich meals.
  10. No matter how busy you get, make time for a healthy breakfast. Eating a morning meal will help control cravings later on.
  11. If baked goods are your holiday weakness, consider hosting a cookie party: Ask every guest to bring one batch of his or her favorite cookies, plus the recipe, and share. This way, you and your family get a variety without having to bake loads. You could also challenge your guests to bring low-fat or low-calorie cookies.
  12. Store healthy snacks at the front of your fridge and pantry, and go for them before you treat yourself to the splurge stuff.
  13. On heavy-eating weeks, add some strength training to your routine. Building muscle will help your body continue to burn calories while at rest.
  14. Add health-related gifts to your wish list this year, they could help make for a slimmer, healthier new year.

Land and Sea

Recently, a few friends have been asking for dinner ideas that can fit into their college budgets. For the last six years I've been a college student, and it wasn't always easy to maintain a healthy way of eating on a tight budget. It has taken every bit of those six years to figure out a easy, practical, and affordable way.

In the beginning of my college career, the poor eating habits that I picked up while being away from home for the first time wasn't completely contributed to lack of funds. The main problem stemmed from not having enough time to grocery shop, and cook during the weekdays. It was more convenient between my studies and job to swing by a fast food joint. Or so I thought...

Two years ago this Christmas, my mom gave me a pre-paid Sams membership card which I absolutely love having! That blue and white little piece of plastic has come in handy on so many different occasions. We're even finding some great deals on beer, liquor, and wine for our wedding from Sam's.

Ok, I'm starting to sound like a commercial (at least I could hear my Fiance saying that to me right now!), and Sam's is definitely not paying me to write this post :) But I do recommend a membership. When it came time to renew last year, I believe it cost about $40 for membership renewal.

So for example, last week I took a trip to Sam's, which is less than 15 minutes from where I live, and stocked up on a 3 lb bag of boneless fillets of tilapia, a 2.5 lb skinless salmon fillet, and 5.8 lbs of boneless/skinless chicken breasts.

*Salmon fillet*

This land and sea trio set me back $30, but when considering I purchased the tilapia at $4.26/lb, the salmon at $2.48/lb, and the chicken at $1.77/lb I feel I got a great deal. Especially knowing that will last us for about a month, and if we were to go out to dinner and purchase any of these meats as an entree, we would be spending over $30 every meal out.


Since this only covers part of the meal, you can take my advice from my post in October on saving money at local farmers' markets and produce stands. By shopping locally at produce stands and farmer's markets, your putting more money back into the local economy and supporting your local farmers by allowing them to keep on farming. And as a added bonus, you can spend another $20 on fruits and veggies for accompaniments that will last you about two weeks, or depending on the fruits and veggies ripeness.

*Chicken breasts and salmon fillets*

Now let's recap... $30 for a months worth of meats, and $20 for two weeks of fruits and veggies. If my math serves me correctly, we're looking at $50 for two weeks of eating right, and then another $20 for the other two weeks' supply of fruits and veggies, puts you at $70 for a months worth of healthy meals.

The picture above was taken after I had already cleaned the chicken of fat, cut the tenders off (top left bag), and split the chicken breasts in half. The breasts are so large, one could be just one meal for two people. After prep, label the ziploc bags with the date and freeze the meat for later use.


So far we've created two light and healthy meals with the chicken. We cooked up the chicken tenders on the stove with some Adobo seasoning, and Italian dressing atop a bed of spring mix lettuce, sliced plum tomatoes, cucumber and carrot slices, and chopped walnuts for a crunch all drizzled with Wish Bone's Light Honey Dijon, my new-found favorite dressing.


Another night, we decided we enjoyed the flavor of the chicken so much from the salad, we prepared it in the same seasoning and dressing and cooked the chicken in the oven with the fresh garlic broccoli, and sliced red potatoes.

Hope you enjoy the lighter side of college budgeting and are able to take a few tips from here! 




Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WW Slow Cooker Chili... and something for leftovers

Just as the weather began cooling down, my cravings for all of the comfort foods that go along with the fall and winter seasons were right on cue. Fortunately with the subscription to Weight Watchers, I can satisfy these cravings without having to forfeit a high number of points.

This recipe comes from my Weight Watchers mobile app, and is listed under the Featured Recipes tab. With this awesome tool, I have come across several tasty meals that I will be filing into our personal cookbook. This Slow Cooker Three-Bean Chili is a vegetarian dish that is a cinch to prepare. Leftovers are innumerable with this meal, and chili always tastes better on the second day!


Although this can most certainly be a vegetarian dish, in our household we're meat lovers, so we tried it with lean ground sirloin. This recipe has a value of 6 points, serves 10 with a prep time of 15 minutes, and cooking time of 180 minutes.

Ingredients:
  • 1 large uncooked onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with chilies (optional)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 oz spiced seasoning mix, chili variety
  • 14 oz frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Instructions:
  • Combine onion, garlic, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasoning mix in a slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours (or low heat for 4-6 hours).
  • Add frozen corn during the last hour of cooking
  • Stir in lime juice and add cilantro just before serving.
  • Top with fat-free sour cream and shredded cheese, optional.



For lunch the next day, I was able to reuse the leftovers to make a delicious burrito. I stuffed my burritos with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. You could also use the leftovers for tacos, too. I've never been a fan of eating leftovers the next day, but after finding my creative side I'm digging the leftovers!





Pre and Post Workout Snacks

We've always been told the most important meal of the day is breakfast, but for those who manage to squeeze some gym time into their routine, pre- and post-workout foods can be of similar importance. The right snacks can offer a balance of carbs, fats, and protein to satisfy hunger, fuel workouts, and aid in recovery. Although it is true everyone's nutritional requirements are different depending on their goals and activities, these snacks can be very beneficial to the ones who burn more calories daily.

Just to clarify, a pre- workout snack usually means grabbing a snack about 30-60 minutes in advance, depending on its size and contents, and how much that stomach's actually grumbling. You really don't want to eat too much, just focus on something that isn't greasy and will give you the fuel it needs to gain muscle, burn fat, and recover as best it can.

Here are 10 of my favorite pre-workout snacks:


  1. Protein Creamsicle- Blend 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice.
  2. Fruit-sation Shake- Blend 1 scoop vanilla whey protein flavor mix-in, 1/2 cup ice, 1 cup frozen berries for a sweet energy boost.
  3. Dressed-up Oats- Load up on carbs for a longer workout with 1/2 cup cooked steel-cut oats topped with 1 tbsp dried fruit, and 1 tbsp shaved almonds.
  4. Yogurt parfait- Top 1/4 cup non-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup whole grain cereal, and 1/2 cup fresh strawberries.
  5. Yoberries- Perfect blend of carbs and protein. 1 cup non-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt (often packs more protein and probiotics than regular plain yogurt) with 1/2 cup fresh blueberries.
  6. Eggs n' toast- Craving something heartier? Try 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast.
  7. PB Apple- For a quick carb fuel-up slice 1 medium apple and serve with 2 tbsp all-natural peanut butter.
  8. Energy bars- With so many options in the aisle, try opting for a bar with the most natural ingredients. While protein count is key, also check the sugar content!
  9. PB&B- My favorite pre-workout snack! 1-2 tbsp of all-natural peanut butter and half a sliced banana on whole-wheat toast.
  10. Rice con leche- So good, highly recommended! If you're going to run a long distance try 1/2 cup cooked rice, covered with 1/2 cup milk (or soymilk), a scatter of raisins, topped with a dash of cinnamon.
Always try eating a healthy post-workout snack within two hours after exercise. The following are some great post- workout snacks which are an important way to restore energy, rebuild muscle and tissue:

  1. Chunky peanut butter shake- 1 medium banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 cup low-fat chocolate soymilk blended with ice.
  2. Protein bar- Again, just watch the sugar content. Look for bars with 10-30 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of sugar, and the fewest number of ingredients you can't pronounce!
  3. Tuna crackers- Make a batch of light tuna salad for a quick bite, and add two heaping spoonfuls to a handful of whole grain crackers.
  4. Bagel and egg whites- Half a medium-sized whole grain bagel with 2 egg whites makes for a great post-workout sandwich.
  5. Rice cakes- Spread a heap of natural peanut butter over a brown rice cake and top with raisins.
  6. Milk and cereal- Any time is a good time for cereal, as long as your not eating the fruit loops or any of the other high sugars options. Add 1 cup of low-fat milk or soymilk to 1 cup of whole-grain cereal.
  7. Black bean omelet- Four egg whites, 1 oz low-fat cheese, and 1/4 cup canned black beans- then spice it up with your favorite natural ingredient salsa.
  8. Egg McMuffin- Just drop the Mc or any other fast food options, and opt for 1 whole egg, fresh spinach, 1 slice low fat cheese, and 1 slice Canadian bacon served on an English muffin.
  9. Apples and cheese- On the go? Go for a medium sliced apple and 1 stick of low-fat string cheese.
  10. Veggie Egg Scramble- 2-3 whole eggs scrambled with a handful of chopped onion, spinach, and bell peppers.

Holiday Goodies

For Thanksgiving this year, I really wanted to take it up a notch with my ideas as to what to bring for our family gathering. Personally, I can't go a Thanksgiving or Christmas without my favorite dish, broccoli casserole. For the past few years this has been my go-to holiday recipe, and everyone always requests me to bring that dish of cheesy goodness.

I'll even admit that in years past I always used frozen broccoli. So this year I decided on going with fresh broccoli, and I even used fresh cauliflower too! After substituting fresh for frozen, I don't think I'll ever use frozen again. The freshness of the veggies really gave this dish the makeover it needed. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture of the broccoli cauliflower casserole.

After figuring out what everyone was planning on contributing to the feast, I quickly realized there was a shortage of desserts on the list. I just so happen to have an awesome recipe for traditional cheesecake from my Cuban grandmother that I have perfected over the years, but I really wanted to change it up a bit. My sweet tooth kicked in immediately, and after perusing some Pinterest ideas for scrumptious recipes, pumpkin cheesecake won the vote.



While searching through Pinterest boards for sweets, I also came across holiday festive libations. The in-laws are big on wine- it seems like everyone brings their own bottle, because by the end of the night when you can tell everyone is feeling a little toasty there are still several bottles left over.

After giving it some thought I figured making sangria would be a big hit with these wine enthusiasts, and it would add a little variety to the drink menu. I wanted something that had a Fall feeling to it. What screams Fall more than apple cider sangria?


So you want the recipes, huh?! Ok, I'll share :)

Holiday Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs- I used gingersnaps!
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
Ingredients for Filling:

  • 2 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine gingersnaps, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar, and press on to bottom and halfway up sides of 8" spring-form pan. Bake 5 minutes.
  2. Beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Gradually add brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and spices.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Add salt, beat until creamy, and pour mixture evenly into crust.
  5. Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is browned.
  6. Transfer cheesecake to wire rack, and cool 10 minutes. Loosen cheesecake around edges with a knife.
  7. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate.
Apple Cider Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bottle of white wine- I used Pinot Grigio
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup ginger brandy- or regular brandy will work too!
  • 3 honey crisp apples, chopped
  • 3 pears, chopped
Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir, stir, stir!
  2. Refrigerate over night.
  3. Stir continually the next day.

I hope this post gives you the inspiration needed to get creative and festive with your Christmas menu!

Happy Holidays!










Tuesday, December 4, 2012

5 Reasons to Drink Water in the Mornings

Growing up, I always remember my mom would carry one of those 64 oz mini cooler kegs filled with water and would drink about 3 of them every day. Personally I drink a lot of water, but not nearly enough what I should be consuming. I'm one of those people that get bored with water occasionally, and sometimes I'll spruce up my water with fresh cucumbers, or other fresh fruit. You could also try adding a few squirts of Mio, a fruit flavor water enhancer.

I read once, it generally takes about 27 days to develop a habit. As it is with developing any other habit, it takes time, discipline and commitment to train yourself to drink enough water every day. So I've been thinking maybe by drinking water regularly in the mornings when I wake up may help build this habit. After reading a few articles I found drinking water can also lead to several health benefits as a result.

Here are 5 top advantages I came across of drinking water in the morning:

#5- Drinking water on an empty stomach purifies the colon making it easier to absorb nutrients.

#4- Increases the production of new blood and muscle cells.

#3- Helps with weight loss. Drinking at least 16 ounces of chilled water can boost your metabolism up to 24% in the morning.

#2- Glowing skin. Water helps to purge toxins from the blood which help keeps your skin glowing and clear.

#1- Balances your lymph system. These glands help you perform your daily functions, balance your body fluids, and fight infection.

You might be asking yourself, "how much water should I be drinking?" It's a simple question with no easy answer. The amount each person needs, varies for factors such as your health, how active you are and even where you live. You want to make sure you're drinking enough water, but at the same time drinking too much water may not be the best thing either.

According to the Mayo Clinic there is no single formula that fits everyone, but knowing more about your body will help you estimate how much water to drink daily. The Institute of Medicine suggests that the average, healthy male living in a temperate climate should take in roughly 3 liters or 13 cups, and for women about 2.2 liters or 9 cups.


People who are particularly active or live in hot climates may need more.A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water that you never feel particularly thirsty and your urine is colorless or nearly colorless.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Egg Cupcakes!!

Now that I have your attention, do I have a treat for you! After doing a little research for quick and easy, on-the-go breakfast inspiration for a variety of palettes- I came across the most ingenious idea ever that could most definitely be a crowd pleaser, Egg Cupcakes!

The weekend before Thanksgiving my soon to be brother-in-laws and their wives take a trip to Miami-Homestead for the Nascar Championship every year for the past 13 years. Never really being a fan of Nascar, I'm actually happy to say I have made it to the last three race weekends and look forward every year to return.

To keep costs down everyone brings some food items that can easily be reheated, or we'll do hamburgers and brats on the grill. The last couple years we've volunteered to cover breakfast. Last year after making a breakfast egg casserole, I had to learn the hard way the majority of my male soon to be in-laws have very sensitive stomachs. When you're staying with them in close quarters, you don't really want to make the same mistake twice. 

With that being said, this year we took our breakfast casserole idea and basically made individual egg casseroles, or what I would like to call- Egg Cupcakes! The cupcakes were a huge hit since they are prepared in muffin pans we were able to make them to each persons liking with a variety of mix-ins. I could see this working well with kids who have selective tastes, too. 


The cupcakes were quick and easy to make. We decided to prepare and bake them at home, then storing two to a ziploc baggy. They held up nicely in the cooler on the four hour drive to Miami. Then when we were ready for them in the morning, we just popped them into the microwave for about 2 minutes.

What you'll need:
  • Silicone muffin pan or metal muffin tin (12-15 muffins)
  • Muffin liners
  • 12-15 eggs
  • Milk as desired
  • 1-2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups grated low-fat cheese (I use sharp cheddar or cheddar jack)
  • 3 green onions, diced small
  • Blanched broccoli, mushrooms, spinach- optional
  • Diced meat- optional (I used cooked crumbled turkey sausage)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In muffin cups layer 2/3 full the optional ingredients: Blanched vegetables, diced meat, cheese, green onions.
  • In large bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, milk, and pour into cups 3/4 full.
  • Bake 25-35 minutes.
  • Microwave on high for 2 minutes to reheat.








Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sorry for the inconsistency

While there definitely has not been a lack of cooking going on in my home, there definitely has been a lack of blogging about what I've been up to in the kitchen. And for this, I am sorry.

I promise to get you caught up on all the wonderful recipes I have come across, and have made an attempt of recreating.

Unfortunately, I have been finding it rather difficult to keep up with the blog. Blogging has surprisingly become a hobby that I really do enjoy. I just wish I could find more time to dedicate towards my blog.

On the other hand, I am proud to say I have come a long way with wedding plans, focusing on my relationships with my family and friends, and getting everything for my classes finished in time for the end of this grueling semester.

So while I am sorry for the inconsistency of this blog, I can't say I am sorry for using my valuable time wisely for the important tasks and projects I have been able to accomplish in the last few weeks.

Crockpot Chronicles Part 2

Back in October, I posted my first recipe to the revolutionary Crockpot Cooking. That week I was able to save a Sunday afternoon for chopping vegetables, and prepping for five crockpot meals. The first trial run with the Orange Chicken went over very well, and was definitely a crowd pleaser.

In this installment of Crockpot CookingI am featuring the recipe to Santa Fe Chicken. We've been seeing more of those hectic days around here lately, and I thought it would be a great time to introduce a new crockpot meal in case anyone is in the same busy boat as us.

The ingredients to this recipe were already chopped, portioned, and waiting in the freezer. The night before, take the bag from the freezer to the fridge to thaw out. When you're ready to put the meal in the crockpot, if it isn't completely thawed out, run it over cool water for a few minutes.



In the bag:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, optional
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, optional
To cook:
- Add contents of bag, plus 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, 1 medium jar of salsa to a crockpot. Cook on high 3-4 hours, or on low 6-8 hours. Serve over rice.

Although my fiance and I both enjoyed the Santa Fe Chicken, between the two recipes, our favorite so far has been the Orange Chicken.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The method to my madness

The whole idea behind the spaghetti and meatballs, was my craving for a meatball sub! The leftover turkey meatballs from the WW Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs recipe had time for the flavor to set in over night, and the meatballs were even more scrumptious the next day for my sub at lunch. 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut the hoagie (I decided to use wheat bread) down the center and stuff with the turkey meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown. 

The guys at Firehouse Subs really inspired me to try this recipe after hearing several commercials over the radio about them ranting over their meatball sub. Instead of caving in and going completely off track, I made a healthier choice by turning to Weight Watchers to create my own meatballs for this sub. I saved myself from a higher amount of calorie, sodium, and saturated fats intake. 

Many corporate restaurants are now including nutritional information about what their serving on their websites. If you know ahead where you're going to eat out, and don't want to wreck all your hard work on one meal out, you can try making healthier decisions by looking up this information beforehand. Doing this will keep you from having to browse the menu and fall into the temptation of ordering something not as good for you. Follow this link to see Firehouse Subs nutritional information chart.





Monday, October 29, 2012

WW Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs

This recipe had two of my favorite words in the title, super and easy! There was no passing this one up. Spaghetti is a classic Italian dish that generally makes for an easy weeknight meal. The majority of the reviews gave this recipe a great rating. One member on the website even said, "This is a delicious, easy to prepare dish. I love the fact that the meatballs can be cooked in the oven. I like it even better that they can be made in advance and stored in the freezer. The taste is excellent. Love it!"

Although this dish was a little higher on the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value scale, I've been learning how to keep track of my points and balance the point system a little easier. I'm proud to say after about three weeks of steadily using the mobile app, I've been able to track my weight and I'm down 6.6 pounds!

I modified this recipe by choosing to use lean ground turkey for the meatballs instead of the lean ground beef which the recipe called for, only because we were already planning on having red meat later in the week. To make this an even easier recipe, the website suggests baking a batch of these meatballs over the weekend for a quick weeknight supper the whole family will love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb uncooked lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup dried plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 lb uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 24 oz bottled reduced-fat pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh bail, chopped

10 PointsPlus Value
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 15 min
Serves: 6

To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or line with aluminum foil lightly coated with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine beef (or turkey), breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, Italian seasoning and salt. Roll into about 30 1 1/4- inch meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, shaking pan every 5 minutes for even browning, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook spaghetti according to package and pour sauce into a large saucepan over medium-low heat to warm while the meatballs are baking.

When ready to eat, toss meatballs with sauce and serve over spaghetti; garnish with basil. Yields about 5 meatballs and 1 cup spaghetti with sauce per serving. 


The Super Easy P'sghetti and Meatballs pairs well with a delicious bottle of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon or obviously Killians for the non winos :) Enjoy!



WW pork chops

Weight Watchers Online is really beginning to click for me! Since my first post about joining Weight Watchers I've downloaded the mobile app, which I've been taking full advantage of, and have been experimenting with the featured recipes section.

The first meal I prepared was surprisingly simple, yet delicious and budget friendly. Coming in with a total of 6 PointsPlus value points, we are featuring the One-Pan Pork Chops with Fennel, Onion, and Apple. You can't beat the ease of this one-pan recipe which garnered a 4 out of 5 star review. The website even suggests trying it with pears and chicken another time.

When picking up the ingredients for this recipe, I wasn't able to find fennel bulbs which this recipe called for. Instead, I went with an unexpected craving and swapped out the fennel for brussel sprouts without having to change anything else for the recipe.

The brussel sprouts looked so appealing at the farmers market, and later I read brussel sprouts flourish in cooler weather which definitely gave these cabbage like greens their appeal factor. Sprouts are high in protein and fiber, they help lower cholesterol, and in recent research, sprouts were found to contain glucosinolates which are phytonutrients that are chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protective substances.

Servings:4
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Difficulty level: Easy

Ingredients according to Weight Watchers:
  • 1 large uncooked red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium fresh apple, cored and cut into thick slices
  • 1 medium uncooked fennel bulb, cut into 1/2" thick slices
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic herb seasoning, or steak seasoning
  • 1 lb uncooked lean boneless pork chop(s)
  • 1/8 tsp table salt and black pepper, or to taste
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine onion, apple, fennel (or brussel sprouts), oil and seasoning; toss to coat and spread out on a large nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, season pork to taste with salt and pepper.
  • After vegetable mixture has cooked for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven and toss.
  • Move vegetable mixture to sides of pan and add pork to middle of pan.
  • Bake until pork is cooked through and vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Yields 1 pork chop and about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture per serving.






Thursday, October 25, 2012

FRO-Yo

While strolling down the dairy aisle, I can't help but notice the prime real estate that yogurt seems to have taken over. I would definitely agree there has been a "yogurt phenomenon". Many people are substituting heavy creams and cheeses for the creamy, tangy goodness of yogurt.

Yogurt adds nutritional goodness, a distinctive taste, creamy texture, and wonderful moistness to your cooking. The possibilities range from simple combinations of yogurt and fruit to dishes made with Greek yogurt or homemade yogurt cheese.

Yogurt has many health benefits including probiotics which are living organisms found in yogurt, and helps your digestive tract with the "good" bacteria. According to WebMD, yogurt may help prevent osteoporosis, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, yogurt containing active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, may discourage vaginal infections, and will help you stay more full for a longer period of time.

Next time you find yourself reaching for the chips and dip, reconsider your decision and go for some fruit to dip in yogurt instead. You can make the perfect snack by pairing high-protein yogurt with a high-fiber food like fruit and/or a high fiber breakfast cereal to add to your yogurt.

If you want to customize your own flavored yogurt, start with your favorite plain yogurt and stir in all sorts of foods and flavors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add chopped strawberries (1/4 cup) and 1/8 tsp of vanilla extract to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Strawberries and Cream Yogurt.
  • Add canned crushed pineapple (1/8 cup) and a tbsp of flaked or shredded coconut to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Pina Colada Yogurt. 
  • Add 1 tbsp of cool espresso or extra-strong coffee and 1 tbsp of chocolate syrup to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Mochaccino Yogurt.
  • Add 1/4 cup chopped orange segments or mandarin oranges and 1 tbsp reduced-sugar orange marmalade to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Orange Julius Yogurt.

One of my favorite fruits are strawberries. For dessert tonight and snacks for tomorrow, I decided to create FRO-Yo Strawberries! I also decided to make FRO-Yo Dip'n Dots. Can't wait to give these a try...


Shake what your momma gave you!

A couple of weeks ago, my mom introduced me to ViSalus Vi-Shape nutritional shake mix that is geared toward weight management and healthy nutrition. Shortly after seeing and hearing about her transformation with ViSalus, I purchased my first Shape-Up kit. ViSalus provides options for five varieties of challenge kits: athletic performance, transformation, core, shape, and balance kits.

These shakes aren't your traditional dieting drinks found in your local supermarket like Slim-Fast, or those Special K shakes that leave a bad taste in your mouth. You can actually tailor these to your tastes preferences by adding in your favorite fruits, or try giving your Vi-Shape shake a burst of flavor and a nutritional boost with Shape-Up health flavor mix-ins.

Choose from Strawberry Phyto Power, Banana Energy Charge, Peach Complexion Mix, Orange Everyday Defense and Chocolate Cardia Care. These awesome mix-ins are super-concentrated with vitamins and extracts. Get creative and mix-and-match for custom shake flavor combos, or add them into your oatmeal, cottage cheese, frozen yogurt or other of your favorite foods and drinks.


Combine 2 scoops of protein
2 ice cubes
Top with fruit
Fill with unsweetened soy milk

For the past two weeks I've been replacing breakfast with these tasty protein shakes, and can really feel the difference. Between the extra vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber packed into these shakes I have been receiving healthy energy and hydration, to help my body fight fatigue while staying energized. Additionally, I'm also getting optimal support for heart health, cognitive function, and joint health. The nutritional support also helps curb my hunger, and burn fat. These shakes are the perfect breakfast after a morning run!




      


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shop local and SAVE BIG!

If you haven't heard yet, buying fresh fruits and vegetables locally is the in thing to do. You have probably been told  at least once you should be buying locally grown produce. Chances are, you probably have even been seeing local farmers markets (like the one in the picture below) sprouting up around your neighborhood! But why should you buy local? What's the benefit to you, your community, and the environment? For starters, here are a few reasons to dump the big-name grocery stores, and stick to your local farmers markets:



1. Local food is cheaper.
   According to How Stuff Works, buying local can save you money with fewer hands that are involved. Unlike chain supermarkets, the farmer doesn't have to split up the profits between the packer, the transporter, and the store employees. The savings goes right back into the consumers pocket.


Today, I hopped on the long-board and took a quick ride up to the local farmers market, and picked up all these fruits and vegetables for a whopping $10.61! Not only did I save on a good deal, but look at the vibrant colors on the tomato, bell pepper, and mango- that's when you know they're going to be deliciously full of nutrients.

2. Locally grown food tastes better and is more nutritious.
    Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Produce that is flash-frozen just after harvest is often more nutritious than "fresh" produce that's on the supermarket shelf for a week. Since local produce is sold right after it's picked, it retains more nutrients. When local produce is picked in the last couple of days, it makes for crisp and flavorful fruits and veggies. Produce that travels long distances are days older, which allows the sugars to turn to starches, plant cells to shrink, and produce loses it's vitality and flavor.

3. Buying local boosts the economy.
    Buying local is more than just a feel-good notion. Many communities around the nation and the world are increasingly dependent upon consumers buying local. When that happens, "those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive," according to an interview with David Boyle, author and researcher for NEF (New Economics Foundation) in an article in Times magazine.It's no wonder why farming is becoming a vanishing occupation- it can't be easy making a living which requires so much overhead cost when you're getting less than 10 cents to every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, in turn helping farmers to continue farming.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orange you hungry?

Last week, we were able to make time for so many other, more important things on our ever expanding to-do list without having to worry about dinner plans. I must say we were definitely on top of our 'A' game preparing for our weekly freezer to crockpot cooking. We prepared five meals, but only had a couple of hectic days last week where we actually needed to turn to the crockpot method.

Tuesdays are my longest days, usually beginning with homework in the mornings, followed by a full 8 hours on campus going from class to library. By the time I arrive home at almost 10 p.m., the last thing I want to do is cook. This past Tuesday, I threw one of the prepackaged meals in the crockpot sometime in the morning and let it cook all day. The cleanup was as easy as preparing dinner- using the crockpot eliminates mounds of pots, pans, and other cooking utensils. Some readers may suggest this is a lazy way of cooking, and I would reply that this isn't lazy, it's smart and revolutionary! Why work harder, when you can work smarter?

Spending a couple hours one afternoon grocery shopping and prepping the food, allowed me more time for studying, wedding planning, and for quality time with family and friends. On top of that, we still have three nights of dinner in the freezer! What has been so great about all of this, is that the other half is actually getting involved with all the cooking I have been doing. He usually likes being in the kitchen anyway, so cooking together has always been something we love to do.

Not only were these meals so helpful in keeping me organized, but my Fiance agreed that these mouth-watering recipes definitely made the list of favorites into our personal cookbook. The first recipe we put to the test was packed with vitamin C; we cooked up some juicy Orange Chicken.


Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 hours on low
Difficulty: Easy
Serves 2

In the bag: Combine 1/2 green pepper, 1/2 onion, 1/2 red pepper, 1-1/2 cups carrots, 2 trimmed boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 cloves chopped garlic, salt & pepper (to taste).

To cook: Add bagged ingredients to crockpot. Then add 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/2 cup of water. Cook with fresh orange, halved. Can serve over rice, or with fresh stir fry veggies as a side. 


We served our take of Orange Chicken with a house side salad that included a variety of unsalted nuts, fresh mushrooms, tomatoes, and a light italian dressing.

Hope you enjoy as much as we did!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Modified Breakfast Cookies

Last week I posted about finding the recipe for Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies. These healthy little "cookies" turned out to be surprisingly better than the expectation I had for them! I'm a huge fan of peanut butter cookies, my other half, however, is not. In an attempt to keep him happy, I decided to exchange the peanut butter for Nutella, whey protein for soy protein, and I also added raisins to the ingredients.



Benefits of raisins:
After doing a little research for adding something that could boost my energy level, I came across this helpful website dedicated to raisins. The natural sugars of raisins are a great source of energy, and they also contain potassium to help maintain proper blood pressure. Tartaric acid is found in raisins and benefits colon health. This acid works together with fiber to help maintain elimination for digestive health. Who knew raisins could be packed with so many health benefits!

Benefits of adding soy/whey protein:
If you're trying to decide if soy or whey protein is more efficient for you in your diet/exercise goals, first consider what you're trying to accomplish with your specific diet plan. If your goal is to bulk up and gain muscle, then try incorporating the right amount of whey protein according to your exercise levels. Soy protein is used more when your diet and exercise goal is to slim down and obtain leaner muscle. According to Top Form Nutrition Supplement, soy protein comes from soybeans, while whey protein comes from milk as a diluted by-product of the cheese making process.


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 16

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole ripe bananas, mashed until creamy
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vanilla soy protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cup quick oatmeal, uncooked (I used maple and brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nut you desire)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed banana and Nutella until completely combined.
  3. Add in the applesauce, vanilla protein powder and vanilla extract; mix again until completely combined.
  4. Add in the oatmeal, pecans, and raisins to the banana mixture and combine. If you want the chocolate chips mixed in, now would be the time to do so.
  5. Let "dough" rest for 10 minutes
  6. Drop cookie dough by spoonfuls, and if you want the chocolate chips on top of the cookie, press them into the cookie now.
  7. Bake cookies for 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  8. After letting the cookies cool, serve and enjoy!








Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line

All the preparation of eating healthier, and daily cardio I have been doing is leading up to this... I'm finally signing up for my first 5k, and I could not be more excited about it! With the exception of the month of September, I have been regularly rotating my mornings with either an hour run or an hour walk since my engagement in November, and I actually have been able to keep off 8 pounds since. Somehow, September flew right by me without sticking to regular exercise. Although, I have been staying on track with healthier eating habits, so as long as I get back into my work out routine, I should be fine to run the race in December.

Since it's the beginning of a new month, I've decided to find the time again around school and work to get back into the right mind frame of no excuses, and just making the time to incorporate daily exercise. Especially since my good friend just invited me to join her in December for this race to be held at the beautiful Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Fl, close to where she lives.

This course isn't your typical Florida flat-ground run. No, Clermont is surrounded by rolling hills. Which is sure to make this course just a tad bit more difficult. The course I will be registering to run includes 3.1 miles of rolling hills, paved roads, and trail running. For the more experienced runners, you also have the option to run a 10k or a half marathon. Since this is my first run, I will be starting with the 5k, and maybe one day soon I'll be able to work up to the half marathon.

Deena Kastor, long-distance Olympic medalist, holds the American record in the marathon and half marathon, and knows a thing or two about race day. Kastor says, "No matter the sport, the best thing you can do to have peace of mind on race day, is to really put the work in with proper training," she continues, "I'm never really nervous because I know I've optimized every day leading up to the race and have the training behind me."

As a first time race participant, of course I'm feeling a little nervous- I think that's probably natural. As a race newbie, stepping up to the starting line can definitely be intimidating. But as long as I stick to my guns, take advantage of the Weight Watchers running for fitness tips and techniques, while taking advice from Deena Kastor and keep training, I'm sure I'll do just fine.

If you're interested in participating in this race you can find more information here regarding registration, pricing, time and date of the race.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Joining Weight Watchers

The commercials got me! I gave in and purchased a subscription to Weight Watchers Online a couple of days ago. To be completely honest, I haven't even taken advantage of what it has to offer. Weight Watchers does have a mobile app for iPhone users, so I downloaded it, and now I can keep track of what I'm eating on-the-go.

With this program I can keep track of my food in-take, activity level, weight, and view my progress. They also provide helpful tips for food and recipes, even budget friendly planning and shopping, cheat sheets for eating out and restaurant tips. Now that I've taken some time to explore the website, I can't wait to get started!

Stay tuned for healthy tips provided by Weight Watchers!

A great way to push through your day!

For my breakfast routine, I usually have a protein shake which keeps me full for a few hours. Lately, I've been getting a little hungry in-between breakfast and lunch. I'm a server at a Cuban restaurant that makes really delicious empanadas, and most days that I work I find myself snacking on...you guessed it- empanadas!

Although they are so yummy, I need to find a substitute for my mid-morning snack. Thanks to Pinterest, I found some really healthy (and yummy looking) Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies that I can't wait to try!


These morning cookies are flower, sugar, and egg free. While still containing the sweetness through the applesauce and chocolate chips. I'm sure I'll even be finding myself snacking on these as a dessert replacement too!

Revolutionary Freezer to Crock-pot Meals

If you're anything like me, then I'm sure you can relate to just how difficult it can be to be a full-time student, work a full-time job, land an internship, plan a wedding, maintain somewhat of an exercise routine, and keep up with family and friends, and things at home- which is why at this juncture of my life, I couldn't even imagine throwing kids into the routine! I have a hard enough time answering that dreaded question: What's for dinner?

While doing some research and reading up on some blogs for freezer to crock-pot cooking, I stumbled upon Kirstin from kojo-designs which has this really great post that includes a variety of meals, recipes, and grocery lists for freezer to crock-pot cooking to free up some of your time in the evenings, help stay organized, and cross off that daily question "What's for dinner?". I must say, Kirstin sure does have a valid point when she says this freezer to crock-pot dinner plan is "revolutionary"!

Below is a sneak peek to the recipe for orange chicken from Kirstin, that I can not wait to try! They all sound so yummy!



IN THE BAG- 2 cups carrots, 2 cups bell peppers, 1 lb cubed boneless skinless chicken breasts, 3 cloves garlic, 1 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, 8 oz. orange juice concentrate (orange pineapple will work as well)
TO COOK- Cook on low in crock pot, 4 to 6 hours
TO SERVE- Garnish with clementine slices (use 4 clementines) or mandarin oranges (two cans) and green onions (two, chopped). Serve on rice. Stir fried veggies make a great side.
Stay tuned--We'll be starting this week with this line-up of 5 crock-pot dinners: 
  • Coconut Curry Chicken 
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Orange Chicken
  • Lime Salsa Chicken
  • Santa Fe Chicken


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First taste of Fall

Alright, alright...I know it's not quite Fall, yet. As a Florida resident for almost a quarter of a century in November, I'm also fully aware that in Florida we don't really have seasons, but this is week 4 of football season, and according to my planner (which of course is beach themed) the First Day of Autumn is this Saturday! Although I hate to see my beloved summer slipping away from me on the horizon, I do enjoy all the excitement that comes with Fall-decorating, stews, soups, holidays, family, friends...the list could go on! And in my opinion, us Floridians have the best of both worlds because we get to enjoy all the hype of fall, and still get to take beach days until October :)

So for the first taste of Fall I would like to introduce the Fiance's favorite fall dish: vegetable beef pot roast. I have been cooking up this recipe for the past couple of years, and he was asking for it while we were grocery shopping last week.  This dish comes from the collection of my mother's recipes. When I first started making this meal I would strictly follow her measurements and duplicate her exact recipe. To give this meal a healthier twist I added some extra veggies, left out the cream of mushroom soup, and serve it over mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or rice.

What I love so much about this meal is how quick and easy it is to put together. My favorite tool in the kitchen is without a doubt the crock-pot--it saves on so much time, and produces some really great tasting food. This recipe can serve up to 4-5 people, but it was just the two of us so we were able to freeze half of our leftovers for a future dinner, and decided to make pot roast hoagies for lunch over the weekend (delicious!).


 Pot Roast Ingredients:
  • Boneless round roast- 2 lbs
  • Chopped carrots- 2 cups
  • Chopped celery- 1 1/2 cups
  • Baby bella mushrooms- 1 cup
  • French onion dry soup mix- 2 packets
  • Coke- just enough to submerge the roast in
First, place the roast in the crock-pot, and cover the roast with the dry soup mix. Next, chop the veggies and add them in. Then all you do is add the coke, set it and forget it for about 6-8 hours on low. For a shorter cooking time, set it to high for 4-6 hours. Allowing the meat to cook for a longer time will let the meat soak up both the flavor of the french onion and the coke together. This allows the meat to become more tender, and will fall apart easily. Serve over mashed cauliflower.



Mashed Cauliflower:
  • One head of cauliflower- chopped
  • Olive oil- 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Chopped garlic- 2 tbsp
  • Margarine, melted- 1tbsp
  • Milk (for consistency)
*Note: This was my first attempt to make mashed cauliflower. I've been looking for healthier substitutions to starches, and I am very pleased with my findings for this recipe! 


 Preheat the oven to 350. Begin by chopping the cauliflower into florets, and place them in a shallow baking pan lined with foil. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and roast for 20 minutes- stirring once after 10 minutes. The cauliflower is done when it can easily be pierced with a fork. Next, combine the cauliflower, salt, pepper, garlic, melted margarine and at first, about 2 tbsp of milk to the food processor. Pulse until blended smoothly. To reach a similar consistency of mashed potatoes, you may have to add more milk as you go.


The best part of this recipe, is when you come home from a long day your house smells amazing!

Serve and enjoy!





 









Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh. Hi there!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Today begins my blogging journey of sharing with the online community some of my favorite recipes, nutritional information, and how to keep off the weight and have fun doing it with several exciting workouts. Many recipes I will use come from three generations of my family, I will also be sharing recipes from my childhood (because we all know, no one cooks as good as mom!), and recipes that have been created by my Fiance and I.

In sticking with my personal fitness goals in an attempt to maintain a healthier lifestyle and get ready for my upcoming wedding day, I will do my best to find and create recipes for cooking on the light side. With that being said, from time to time we all need rewards, I am human, and sometimes I crave for the not so healthy; therefore, occasionally I will be doing some cooking for those days I find myself needing some "comfort food".

Not only will I show you which ingredients are interchangeable for a healthier option to the recipes, I will also discuss the health benefits of a variety of foods. After hearing and seeing several commericals about how easy it is to stay on track with your health through this new program Weight Watchers has launched, I've decided to join the wonderful world of Weight Watchers Online to see for myself just how easy it is to stay on track, even for those who are always on-the-go.

For the last month, I have become more serious about running and have devoted most of my mornings training myself to participate in some upcoming 5k runs. Recently, I also purchased a Groupon good for 10 kickboxing classes. In an attempt to get myself excited about working out, from time to time I will post different material pertaining to running and workout routines.

I hope you find my blog to be entertaining, and useful!