Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back in the Saddle!!

By The Numbers...

So, I haven't been on here since February 6th...and I've missed blogging about my foodie adventures in the kitchen, so it's great to be back!!

My son broke his leg and had emergency surgery on February 9th...I spent 12 days in Utah helping him through the ordeal, and when I got back, life got away from me.  So I made the decision that I was going to get back at this, because honestly, I have really missed it!

Remember way back when, in January, when I first started this blogging adventure??  I shared that I had started the P90X workout series at work, and at that time made the decision to change the way we eat, how I had been cooking, and to share those adventures with anyone who cared to take a look...

After 90 days of the workout program including the changed diet...
Here's the update for you, by the numbers:
Pounds lost=26
Inches lost=15.75
Blood Pressure=100/76  (used to average 140/110)
Cholesterol =167  (was 204 a year ago)
All other numbers are in range...just don't remember the details!!

I am proud to say that I have never felt better in my adult life.  I have made the decision to continue the P90X series of workouts, and I have continued to develop recipes that are mostly carb free, high in lean protein, low in fat and include lots of great options for those of you who hate to diet.  It can be done, you don't have to give up on tasty meals...nor do you have to give up on meals you enjoy when dining out.

We follow this simple motto:
Do your best, forget the rest!!

What this means for us is that we make an effort every day to exercise, eat healthy, and take care of ourselves.  We also remember that it's important to take those days for enjoyment, too...we dine out occasionally~having our favorite Mexican or Sushi dishes.  Everything in moderation and you don't have to cut anything out.

I have about 8 recipes to post, so check back later this week!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Devil's Squash-ta...

So "what" you ask is "Squash-ta"???
To quote Jessica, "Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking":
Squash-ta (noun): From the Native American word 'squash' and the Italian 'pasta'. Used in reference to the delicious goodness that is spaghetti squash as a non-starch pasta substitute: "Did you try the squash-ta salad? Its amazing!"; "I think squash-ta sounds good for lunch."; "I would love some pasta but I don't eat wheat.... maybe I'll have the squash-ta."

We have been "pasta free" for 5 weeks now.  And I won't lie to you...we miss it!!  We used to hunker down on a cold Sunday to a steaming bowl of 'sketti, with meat and mushroom sauce and some big ol' hunks of garlic bread...Mmmmmmm!  But no more.  I have been searching for something to replace this tasty meal, and after reading many blogs and recipe sites about the wonders of Spaghetti Squash, I knew it was time to give it a whirl...And this my friends, is my version: The Devil's Squash-ta

The Devil's Squash-ta
1 large Spaghetti Squash
1 jar Bertolli Arrabbiata Spicy Tomato Red Pepper sauce (This is where the "Devil" comes in...this is a spicy little gravy!!)
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Wash the outside of the squash and pierce with a knife about 8 times all over the squash.  Place on 2 paper towels in the microwave.  Cook on HIGH power for 15 minutes, turning the squash 3 times.  (Turn it over even if you have a rotating table in your micro)

Check at 12 minutes...just in case...you'll know the squash is done when it has a little give to it. Kinda like when you feel the end of a cantaloupe...

Let sit in the microwave, once it feels this way, for 5 minutes to allow the inside to continue to steam.

Be Careful!!  It's gonna be HOT, HOT, HOT!!

Pour your sauce into a saucepan, and heat over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.

Cut in half, lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds and "gunk", just as you would a pumpkin.

Using a fork, start pulling the sides of the squash away from the shell.  You will not believe how the strands just start coming to the middle like a hot, heaping pile of spaghetti!!  It is the coolest thing!!

Repeat with the other half. 

Fill your pasta bowls, ladle on some sauce and give a few healthy grates on the Parmesan to top it off!

This is an incredible meal!  The squash-ta has a little bit of a crunch, but takes on the sauce just like a regular bowl of pasta.  

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 
Serving size: 2 cups Squah-ta; 3/4  cup sauce

234 Calories
10 g Carbs
5 mg Sodium
3 g Protein

4.5 g Fat
11 Carbs
450 mg Sodium
2 g Protein

Surprise!! Fabulous Fiesta Bowl...not what you'd expect!

Fabulous Fiesta Bowl
Muy Grande Sabor!!

Who can pass up a good Mexican flavored meal?  We are kind of missing our weekly trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant and we aren't willing to give up our healthier lifestyle to do so...this means I had to come up with something healthy as an alternative that would be tasty, but not kill us with carbs and calories.  So, I did a little experimenting today, and this is what I came up with:

Fabulous Fiesta Bowl
19 oz. Honeysuckle White 97% fat free Ground Turkey
1 can Rotel Original Tomatoes with Chiles
1 can Goya Black Beans (I know...carbs...bad....but read on...), rinsed. 
1 head Cauliflower; flowerettes only
Penzey's spices: Adobo, Cumin, Chipotle Pepper; 1/2 tsp. each
Liquid Smoke
Olive Oil

Top with: Sliced Avocado and just a sprinkle of shredded sharp cheddar or 1 oz. Queso Fresco

Serves 8

Using your food processor, put 6-8 pieces of the cauliflower florettes into the processor.  Don't put too many pieces in, nor should you use really large pieces.  Pulse in short shifts and watch as the cauliflower chops into rice like pieces.  Don't over process--you'll have cauliflower sand!  Put into a bowl after each batch is chopped.  Repeat until all cauliflower is "riced".  Add Adobo, Chipotle, and Cumin.  In a large skillet, pour about 1 Tbsp. juice from Rotel tomatoes and a scant turn of Olive Oil.  Heat skillet well, and pour in bowl of cauliflower.  Begin mixing together right away, stirring continuously to mix spices through and through.  Remove from heat.  (Don't cook until soft...you kind of want to "fry" the mixture)

Give a large skillet 2 turns of Olive Oil and heat well.  Brown ground turkey, breaking up with a spatula as it browns.

Add Rotel tomatoes, black beans and the cauliflower mixture into the skillet with the browned turkey. Add just a few shakes of Liquid Smoke. Fold all ingredients together, keeping heat on medium high.

Once all ingredients are mixed well, serve immediately...Top with avocado slices and cheddar cheese/Queso Fresco cheese. 

I know, I know....the black beans!!!  The carbs!!!  But look at this way:  This recipes makes 8 servings (4 if you're really hungry)...and we didn't serve it with rice, which is a killer for carbs and calories....

Here's the breakdown per serving:
208 Calories
8 grams Fat
51 mg Cholesteral
522 mg Sodium
10 Carbohydrates
2.4 G Fiber
21.3 G Protein

NOT BAD, huh??!!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Super Breezy; Quick and EASY!!

Looking for an EASY, really great meal???  Here's your ticket!!

Caramelized Onion and Gouda Cheese Chicken Burgers 
with Tri-Color Peppers

Amylu Caramelized Onion and Gouda Cheese Chicken Burgers; 1 per person (get these at Costco)
1 each: Red, Yellow, Orange pepper; cleaned and sliced into 3/4 inch slices
Olive Oil

Give 2 turns of Olive Oil in a skillet and heat well.  Add all peppers and begin to saute; allowing for browning of the peppers...being careful not to burn.

Toss often while sauteeing.  Add the burgers right into the skillet with the peppers; browning on both sides.  They are already fully cooked, so they will brown quickly. Turn once or twice.

I thought this would be a nice addition to the blog, just because it is so darn easy. Sometimes, there's nothing better than knowing you can put together a delicious, nutritious meal in just a few minutes flat.  After working all day, who doesn't want to come home and have a hot meal without a lot of fuss?!!  

The chicken burgers are only 140 calories.  Although they have 6.5 grams of fat, they also have only 3 carbs and 22 grams of protein.  This is perfect for you carb watchers and those on high protein diets!!  

This quick and easy meal is a perfect family dinner and another one that the kids can get into the kitchen and give you a hand cooking!!  YUMMY!!

Can't Miss Turkey and Swiss!

A different take on traditional meatloaf...

We've decided that the age-old meatloaf just isn't for us anymore.  Besides, we don't really do red meat and since we are pretty hooked on Ground Turkey, I figured out a way to make a delicious stuffed mini-meatloaf.  Of course, I'll never "diss" traditional meatloaf because my mom makes a killer loaf!!  So, here's to you, Mom!!

Can't Miss Turkey and Swiss
1 pkg. 98% fat free Ground Turkey
1/4 cup bread crumbs
8 Flipsides crackers, crumbled + 14 additional crackers, crushed; set aside
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 cup Mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup Swiss Cheese, grated
Olive Oil

Mix first 5 ingredients together.  Divide into 2 equal portions.  Form into "large burger shapes"; creating a well in the middle.  Fill the well with equal parts of mushrooms and swiss cheese.  Gently begin to push the sides of the burger up and over the filling, continuing to keep the burger shape.  Continue this until you have covered the well and stuffing, and have reformed into a solid burger shape.  

Put the 14 additional crushed crackers into a shallow bowl.  Take each burger and press into the crackers, covering both sides and also the edges.

Give a skillet 2 full turns with the Olive Oil and heat well.  Place burgers into the skillet, browning until a crispy brown on both sides.  Also, using 2 spatulas--turn burgers onto their sides and brown the sides as well.  You will need to add little additional drizzles of the Olive Oil as the burgers continue to brown so that they don't burn.  Once you get the initial browning, cover with a lid.  Turn often during cooking. 

Cook until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

We served ours with steamed broccoli.

Let me tell you....traditional meatloaf has NOTHING on this new version!!!  The cracker crust creates this toasty, crunchy outer shell that holds in all the juices and melts the cheese with the mushrooms into this yummy, gooey center. Those flavors all melded together into such a satisfying blend!!  There weren't really words to describe how absolutely tasty this meal turned out!!

Definitely worth the time and effort to prepare; don't hesitate to try this one!!

De-constructed Lettuce Wraps...A Dave Fave!!

A new take on the old Lettuce Wraps!!

Today we planned to have one of our favorite meals: Lettuce Wraps...with our favorite Asian-inspired coleslaw.  We set about preparing the dinner and much to our dismay, we discovered that our Butter Lettuce had frozen in the fridge.  Big Bummer.  Nothing is worse than frozen, translucent lettuce!  So, I decided to compromise...

De-constructed Lettuce Wraps
Using the recipe from my earlier post for Lettuce Wraps, prepare the Ground Chicken as directed.  While the  meat is browning, prepare the following Coleslaw recipe:

1 bag Coleslaw ready shredded cabbage
1/3 bottle of Lighthouse Toasted Sesame Ginger dressing

Mix slaw and dressing together.  Set aside.

Julienne carrots and green onions into matchsticks for toppings.

Once your meat is prepared as directed for Lettuce Wraps, turn off the heat.

Place about 1 cup mixed slaw in the bottom of the bowl.  Top with about 1/2 cup ground chicken mixture.  Top with carrots and green onions.

We were so pleasantly surprised by this dish...Dave immediately declared it one of his favorites!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.... also known as Green Salsa Chicken Soup!!

EASIEST soup.  Ever.

We are soup lovers. There is nothing like a steaming bowl of soup on a cold day to warm your tummy.  We have been making soup all winter...Cream of Chicken Wild Rice, Poblano Corn Chowder, White Chicken Chili' Black Bean Soup...and boy, let me tell you: every one of them is delicious.  But, we also realized that those soups are not really the healthiest for us.  But again, we are soup lovers.  And why shouldn't we be with soup like this?  This is the easiest soup to make and you can whip it up in no time flat.  We thought that anyone with kids should bring them into the kitchen and let them have at it!!  It's a great way to get them cooking!  Also...it's kind of a "cheater" soup...all the ingredients are really ready to go, you just need to put it together.(Just don't tell anyone how easy this was!!)  Give it a try~you won't regret this one!

Green Salsa Chicken Soup
1 Roasted Chicken; pulled and broken into bite sized chunks
6 cups Chicken Broth; fat free, low sodium
2 cups Green Salsa
1 can Great Northern Beans; drained
1 can Light Red Kidney Beans; drained
1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans; drained

Avocado Slices
Queso Fresco Cheese; crumbled
Tortilla Chips (3 per serving...this is healthy, remember?!)

Throw it all in a soup pot. Stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Top with all or none of the suggested toppings.  Serve immediately.

That's it!  Super duper easy and a big hit with my hubby!!

Breakfast: It Does A Body Good...The Modified Skillet

Our version of the traditional Skillet Breakfast...it may look a little wonky, but it was FABULOUS!!

So, I doubt that there are many people who would argue the fact that going out for breakfast is one of those time honored traditions that are hard not to partake of.  Breakfast made by someone else is just such a perfect way to start the day; a good cuppa Joe and a plate full of eggs, potatoes, veggies, and sausage...oh, and bacon...and cheese!!  Mmmmm....comfort food!!

But I doubt that there are also very few people who would argue that the aforementioned delight is also a heart attack waiting to happen!!  We decided to make it at home; a healthier, better for us version of the breakfast skillet.

Here ya go!!

So, remember those Egg Cups/Mini Quiches about 10 posts ago??  Hope you have some on hand...you'll need them.  They've already got most of the ingredients in them: eggs, turkey bacon, veggies...

Modified Skillet Breakfast (serves 2)
5 Egg Cups; chopped up
6 "Banquet brand" turkey sausages
Queso Fresco cheese; 2 ounces crumbled
Olive Oil
Hot sauce to taste

In a skillet, cook sausages according to package directions.  Once the water has cooked out of the pan, drizzle just enough Olive Oil to coat the skillet, lightly.  Put the chopped Egg Cups into the pan, keeping the heat closer to high; stir or toss continuously to heat all the way through.  Scatter Queso Fresco over the top and cover; reduce heat to low to allow cheese to soften.  This cheese doesn't really melt all the way, but rather, the crumbles will soften into little blobs.  Splash with hot sauce and serve immediately.  

If you are watching your diet as a high protein, reduced or carb free eater, this is a perfect breakfast for you.  It is filling and every so tasty!!  We would recommend it as a Saturday Staple!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy!!! Tilapia and Salmon especially!

This is tonight's dinner: Baked Tilapia, Cauliflower Mash, and Sauteed Asparagus

If you're really wanting to incorporate fish into your diet, but are afraid that you can't successfully cook it...Read on!  It is so much easier than you might imagine, and while they taste completely different, both are so yummy and easy to prepare.  The really cool thing about Tilapia is that is will take on the flavors of whatever you are marinating or sprinkling on top of it.  It is a really versatile fish and you will not get any "fishy" flavor that tends to worry people.

We use Tilapia as the main protein 9 out of 10 times...but let me tell you...Tilapia Tacos are awesome!!  If you aren't living on the healthy side, go for it!  I will include that recipe on a future blog...one of my FAVS!!

Citrus Inspired Tilapia
4 Tilapia fillets, thawed (We get them at WalMart, frozen)

1 Orange; juiced

2 toes Garlic, minced

1-2 teaspoons Soy Sauce (depends on how much you like Soy Sauce)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Tilapia in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Add all other ingredients.  Press air out of bag, and seal closed.  Marinate in refrigerator for about an hour, turning a few times.

Spray cookie sheet with Olive Oil spray, and place Tilapia fillets on the sheet.  Spoon additional marinade over fillets.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with your favorite sauteed vegetables; we LOVE asparagus with this particular dish!  If you aren't watching carbs, Jasmine or Basmati rice (Uncle Ben's in the pouch is Oh So Easy!!) is a great compliment.

Seasoned Dill Salmon
2-4 oz. Salmon portions, skin on.

Olive Oil

Dill seasoning

Seasoned Salt (We use Johnny's...it's different than Lawry's)

Parmesan cheese if you're not watching the healthy side of life  :-)

We grill this fish.  Get your grill HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

Place portions skin side down on heavy duty aluminum foil (don't oil the foil...you want the skin to stick)

Lightly rub with Olive Oil

Sprinkle with the Dill seasoning as lightly or heavily as you would like according to your taste.

Lightly sprinkle with Seasoned Salt.

If you like Parmesan cheese, lightly coat entire portion.

Place foil on the grill and cook for about 7-9 minutes.  Don't overdo it; nothing is worse than dry fish!!

Serve on your favorite bed of lettuce or with a side of sauteed Spinach and fresh garlic....This fish is low in fat and carbs and super high in protein and Omega-3!!  Salmon is a meatier fish, firmer in texture and pink in color.  It isn't fishy, but isn't as mild as Tilapia.  It, too, can take on other flavors, and I will include a future post with a recipe for marinating.

Give it a try...don't be afraid of fish; it isn't afraid of you!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

P90X Progress Update

So, when I started this blog, I shared that I had also started the P90X workout program.  I am proud to say that after 3 weeks, I am still going strong!!  I have not missed a single workout; and on weekends I continue to workout at home.  It isn't easy, I won't lie.  Most days I come home and I feel like a semi ran me down.  It's all  I can do to make it to 9pm for bed!!

But I will tell you what helps: I am working out with my best friend, Linda; and about 40 other people that I work with.  It is so easy to just jump into my workout clothes and head next door to the empty room with my stuff and off we go!  We continually support each other and because we are all there for the common goal of being healthy and fit; it flies by each afternoon.  It has been the best thing to happen for me in terms of taking time to care for myself.

My other great support is my husband, Dave.  While he isn't a "P90X'er", he is continuing to work out and in this past year, he has lost 97 pounds!!!  It has been a wonderful transformation for him.  Watching him lose weight and gain a greater self esteem and pride for himself has been remarkable.  It is truly inspiring to have him by my side to encourage me every day and to hear him tell me that he is proud of me.  In reality, I am completely proud of him.  Now, we are on our mission together!!

We are committed to this new regimen. We are following our workout routine every day and in addition to that; we are following an entirely healthy but delicious diet.  We have cut out carbs, which is great for Dave who is diabetic.  No rice, pasta, bread, crackers, chips, etc.  Was it hard?  Heck yeah!!  But after this week, I have realized that I really do feel so much better.  We are eating lots of protein and it is easy to find foods that are not only low in fat and carbs, but high in protein, too.  Fish like Tilapia is a staple in our house and it is so versatile.  Anyone can successfully cook this firm, sweet fleshed fish.  We are also eating chicken...chicken breasts, chicken meatballs, chicken sausages...we never knew that it was so low in fat, calories and carbs!!  And we also use ground chicken and turkey in place of ground beef.  Truly, the possibilities are endless...

We are also big veggie lovers.  We grill them, saute them, bake them...you name it.  Nothing is off limits!  And as an alternative to the traditional "lettuce" salads, we have started to use shredded cabbage.  It is a great change of pace, and makes a tasty salad.  Often, we use very little dressing but add a healthy bit of hot sauce to our salads!!

One other important change is that we eat breakfast every day.  Not a big breakfast; we eat an Egg Cup every morning.  These are fantastic little treats that you make ahead of time...like on Sunday...and you have enough for the entire week.  This recipe can be found in an earlier posting. I never used to eat breakfast.  I felt like I was starving all day if I ate breakfast.  But now that I have changed my habits and cut out the carbs, the breakfast piece is totally important.  Don't skip it...make it a habit!

So...Monday is day 20.  We weren't supposed to weigh ourselves this whole time.  But you know what??  I am IMPATIENT!!!!  I can't wait that long for anything.  Heck, I'm the kid at Christmas who used to untape the presents Mom wrapped because I could just not stand it!!  So, yeah.  I weighed myself.  Many times during the past 3 weeks.  And the results?  I have lost 12 pounds.  I'm happy with these results right now.  I am looking forward to measurements, though.  I really want to know how those have changed.

I am inspired.  Not only by the chance to be fit and healthy, but by the realization that it is a possibility.  We certainly are sleeping better.  We certainly aren't starving by any means.  We are working for our future as a healthy, happy couple!!  Hooray for us!!

It's What's For Dinner...and it was FANTASTIC!!

Doesn't this look YUMMY??!!  It was still steaming when I took the picture....Mmmmmm!!

So, after Dave and I decided we were very ambitious, and we had come back from a 5 mile walk on "Old Plank Trail" in the snow, we were starving.  Really.  I was so cold and that walk wiped me out...I could have eaten cardboard at that point, but decided that something much healthier and tastier was in store for us...

Chicken with Sauteed Veggies
2-3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts; trimmed.

1 pkg. Trader Joe's Brussels Sprouts; trimmed and halved.

1 pound fresh Asparagus; woody ends removed, break in half.

10 mushrooms; cleaned and halved.

Penzey's Greek Seasoning

Olive Oil

Garlic infused Olive Oil (or 2 toes fresh garlic, minced, if this isn't available)

Fresh Ground Black Pepper and Sea Salt to taste

Trim chicken breasts and rub with Olive Oil.  Sprinkle freely with Penzey's Greek Seasoning blend on both sides.  Give 2 full turns of Olive Oil in a skillet with a lid and heat over high heat.  Add chicken breasts and cover.  Turn when a good, golden sear has happened. Keep covered for moist chicken. Sear second side and reduce heat.  Cook until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.

In another large skillet, give 2 full turns of Garlic infused Olive Oil and heat on high.  Add all veggies and toss to coat with oil. (Add the minced garlic here, too, if you don't have the Garlic infused oil)  Continue to cook on high; tossing often so veggies don't burn, but do get a nice bronzed color to them.  Cook to desired tenderness...we like them crunchy!!  Much more flavor!!  At the finish, a few healthy grinds of fresh black pepper and a sprinkle of Sea Salt will complete the dish.

Serve immediately with chicken...for an additional little pizazz; freshly shredded Parmesan is a lovely topping!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside......SOUP sounds fantastic!!

After dragging myself out of the cocoon of warmth this morning and into the blast chiller we call Friday, I decided that it would be a good day to share one of my most favorite soup recipes.  Not only is it DELICIOUS...it is one of the easiest recipes to follow.  It's really actually a very healthy recipe as well....you can make it less healthy with the "toppings" that you add...the choice is yours!!

Best Chicken Tortilla Soup...EVER!!
1 roasted chicken (Costco is the very best)
6 cups fat free chicken broth; low sodium...organic...any are fine.
2 cups Salsa; mild, medium, hot...suit your sass on this one!!
1 can black beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed thoroughly
1 package Taco seasoning (use the lower sodium if you're watching salt intake)

Pull all meat from the roasted chicken, making sure to "squeegee excess fat off with your fingers", and break into bite sized chunks.  Put into large stock pot.  Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve with the following possibilities:
Sliced avocado
Julienned radishes
Sliced green onions
Chopped cilantro
Queso Fresco cheese; crumbled
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Hot Sauce
Tortilla chips; crushed

**Healthier tortilla chip option:  Use corn tortilla, spray lightly with Olive Oil spray, bake at 400 degrees til crispy.  Cut into strips for topping.

If you have kids who want to get into the kitchen with you, this is one of the best recipes to start with.  It's easy to follow, measurements are simple, and the result is always a success!!  So, hunker down, stay warm and have a great meal, too!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Super Side Dishes...Mmmmmm, Good!!

So, if you find yourself dreading mealtime because you are cooking the same things over and over again...here are some great side dishes to liven up your grilled chicken or fish!

Mashed Cauliflower...totally never eating Mashed Potatoes again!!
1 head Cauliflower
2 pats of butter
2-3 Tbs. Half and Half or Heavy Cream (such a little amount that it's almost negligible in the overall nutrition count)
Salt and Pepper to taste (We always use Sea Salt and fresh ground Pepper)

Trim cauliflower and cut or break into large chunks.
Add to pot of lightly salted, boiling water.
Boil until tender and drain immediately.
Put into large bowl, add butter and cream.

Using potato masher, mash away!!  Mash until it becomes the consistency you prefer.  We leave it a bit "piecey" because we like the texture.
Hardly any fat calories and tons of fiber....and more yummy than you can imagine!!

Brussel Sprouts...YEP, that's what I said...Brussel Sprouts!!!!
1 pkg fresh Brussel Sprouts
2 toes fresh garlic OR Garlic Salt...we prefer fresh...
Olive Oil

Pull all "soft" outer leaves off of the sprouts and trim off the woody stem.  Cut each sprout in half, lengthwise (with the stem at the bottom, so that you cut through the stem)

In a large skillet, give about 2 full turns of Olive Oil, and heat through.  Add all sprouts, and if you're picky, turn them all flat side down so they get nice and browned.  Saute for about 8-12 minutes; less if you like 'em crunchy, adding fresh garlic about halfway through the cooking time.  If you use the Garlic Salt, wait until they are nearly done cooking (last 30 seconds...)
Toss with just a drizzle more Olive Oil and serve.  We eat these 1-2 times a week.  Tons of fiber, very few calories and hardly any fat, which comes from the Olive Oil...so it's the "better fat"!!

**For a different twist on this dish, you can also slice up mushrooms and saute them with the sprouts.

Squash-ta Aioli....Gotta love that pasta replacement!!
(And thanks to Jessica; Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking; for the name given to the squash)
1 Spaghetti Squash
2 toes fresh garlic (more if you're a big garlic lover). Minced or shaved works well.
Red Pepper flakes
2-3 Tbs.Olive Oil

Cut squash in half, lengthwise and remove seeds.  Bake with cut sides down, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove squash from its skin using to forks to shred into "spaghetti".

In large saute pan, heat Olive Oil, add Garlic and Red Pepper flakes.  Saute for 1-2 minutes, watching garlic so it doesn't overcook.  Add "sqaush-ta" and toss to coat with mixture.  Serve with your favorite grilled fish or chicken.  Such a great pasta alternative!!!

Hopefully, these will inspire you to give up some unhealthy side dish choices; all the while, enjoying your meal so much more!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Egg Cups (Mini Quiches...Kinda)

Having never been a big breakfast eater...unless someone else was cooking it for me; I quickly realized that I needed to feed my body the right way when I started this "P90X'ing" stuff!  Without breakfast, by the time the afternoon rolled around and the workout time drew near; I was hungry and out of energy.  Sure, I had eaten lunch, but that didn't seem to matter.  Everything I read about healthy living and taking care of the body said that I needed to eat breakfast.  And a healthy one at that.

But, there is this little hurdle in my way called work.  Which I leave at 5:30 am to get to....So, of course, that has always been the biggest reason for not eating breakfast.

Well, thanks to Jessica (Mastering the Art of Paleo Cooking), I found a honkin' little breakfast treat that is SOOO easy to make and so yummy to eat.

Here's what's cookin:

Egg Cups

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using olive oil, coat the wells of a 12 muffin tin.  I use the square muffin/brownie tin :~)


9 eggs plus 1/4th cup water blended.  I use my hand mixer for fluffier eggs.

4 slices Turkey Bacon, browned and diced

4 large or 8 smaller mushrooms, coarsely chopped

3 green onions...whites and greens chopped (original recipe calls for 1 tomato, but we preferred the onion)

Salt and Pepper to taste...try it without...these are yummy!

Brown bacon, dice small and distribute into bottom of oiled wells.

Evenly distribute chopped mushrooms and onions into bottom of oiled wells.

Divide egg mixture among all 12 wells (we found that our 1/4 cup measure was about right).

Stir gently to mix ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees about 20 - 25 minutes, until puffy and sides are pulling away from pan.  Sides and bottoms will be lightly browned.

Transfer to cooling rack until cool to the touch.  Store in ziplocs or tupperware in the fridge til you're ready for them.

We eat these every morning for our "on the go" breakfast, and they are just the right amount of flavor and the right size to start the day off right.  You can make them on a Sunday afternoon and be ready for the week!!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snacks, choices, staying on target...

After having a 3 day weekend, I realized that being out of my "scheduled" daily routine was really hard in terms of eating right!!  I am used to foraging all day long in the pantry and the fridge, eating all kinds of junk food!!  Even popcorn is far worse for me than I knew...

So, I spent some time thinking about healthy snacking and looking into what kinds of things we could have throughout the day that wouldn't totally blow all the hard work we've been doing.

Here are some tips for great snacks...

*Hard boiled eggs...protein rich, easy to keep a lot on hand.  Boil up a dozen on the weekend and peel right away so they are easier to grab on the run.  (Then you also have them for eggsalad...Mmmm!!)

*Raw Almonds...1/4 cup is the perfect snack size.  Almonds are one of the "good nuts", so you don't have to feel bad about the higher levels of fat you'll find in them.

*Hummus...check the labels for the nutrition info...Trader Joe's White Bean and Basil is a really healthy choice.  Serve with celery sticks for a quick, healthy snack full of flavor. (Hummus is also a great substitute for mayo on your roasted turkey sandwiches!!)

* Avocados...another "good fat" food.  Try to keep a rotation of ripening avocados on hand to eat as a snack just sliced up plain or with a dash of your favorite salt free seasoning, also great to add to salads or morning omelets.

*Greek Non-fat Yogurt...yes, it tastes a little funky, but try the Dannon Blueberry to start.  No fat, 100 calories, 13 g protein, and really not that bad.

*Cottage Cheese-2%...this also has 100 calories per serving and 12 g protein.  You can drizzle a little honey on top and throw in some of those raw almonds chopped up...such a tasty treat!!

*Raw veggies...step outside the box here: Raw asparagus, raw green beans, jicama, radishes, and any colored peppers are all great for snacking on.  You can make a healthy dip using the plain greek yogurt with your favorite dry spice thrown in (Penzey's Arizona Dreaming is the bomb) too, if you don't like your veggies plain.

These are just some of the things we have been indulging in the past 2 weeks.  Hang in there, and feel free to share your low cal, low carb, high protein snacks, too!!  Happy Snacking!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

We fell in love with Lettuce Wraps at PF Chang's, and I decided that I could make a much healthier version at home. I also use all my spices from Penzey's...you can find them online. Using fresh spices makes a ton of difference if you really want to flavor your food with "compliments"...
(In this picture, they are shown with Jasmine Rice; which we are now no longer eating....but for those of you who can enjoy carbs; it's a yummy addition!!)

1 pound ground chicken (you can also grind your own chicken breasts in the food processor)

2-4 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 pound mushrooms coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

1 teaspoon Sweet Curry Powder

Chipotle Powder to taste if you like a little kick...

Garlic salt to taste

Head of either Boston or Butter lettuce (use the hydroponic if you can find it)

Julienned carrots

Julienned radishes

Julienned cucumbers

Brown ground chicken with half the olive oil. Add in the chopped mushrooms and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add in the peanut butter and soy sauce, and stir through the mixture. Add additional olive oil if needed to help blend mixture.

Add Paprika and Curry...taste often. You may add more if your taste likes these flavors.

Add Garlic Salt just a bit at a time...don't want to overdo it.

If the mixture is still a little tight, you can drizzle in warm water slowly while you mix. You want the mixture to be tight...but not dry.

Wash lettuce leaves and pat dry. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce cups and garnish with carrots, radishes, and cucumbers.

These are a huge favorite, especially with our kids! Once you get the hang of it, they are so easy to make.

If you aren't staying away from the carbs, serve them with Jasmine or Basmati rice for additional yumminess!!

Fennel Salad with Citrus Dijon Dressing

I have watched the Food Network for years, and always thought that Fennel looked interesting...and all those cooks said it was so yummy...so we tried it this past week. Here's my quick and easy recipe for a little side salad that is a great compliment to my Stuffed Turkey meatloaf or a few good Chicken Sausage links....

1 large bulb Fennel, which you can eat all parts of....

2 teaspoons Coarse Ground Dijon mustard (Trader Joe's is yummy)

Juice of 1/4 navel orange

Olive Oil...about 1 Tablespoon

Cut fennel bulb into quarters and slice across the wedges into 1/4 inch strips.

Whisk Dijon, orange juice and olive oil together until mixed well.

Pour over fennel and serve!

Crunchy, licorice flavor of the fennel mixed with the dressing makes a great side salad...

P90X Healthy Eating...

So two weeks ago, I started the P90X series of workouts. Needless to say, I have experienced all the muscle pain and weariness that goes along with this adventure! But, I also admit that I look forward to it every day.

Since I am going to be wreaking havoc on my body, I also decided that we would start following a much different plan for eating. I already cook pretty healthy meals; but felt that we should really work on lowering the carbs and increasing the protein. Not necessarily the easiest task! But nonetheless, we are forging ahead.

I have been researching foods, websites, and recipes every day, and my mission is to bring those recipes to you. When I include recipes from other places, I will give credit to those authors or sites.

There are lots of great options for changing the way you eat, and once you get into the habit, it's actually kind of fun to challenge yourself to be creative.

Today I will share some hints for great as well as easy foods to help get you started...

You need to keep in mind the following tip which came from our P90X instructor: "If it's white and doesn't have a mother....DON'T EAT IT!!!" This really is helpful.

For example, you should stay away from breads rices, and pastas...loaded with carbs and empty calories. And they're mostly white.

Most all fish is white....and have moms....chow down!

Chicken, beef, and uncured pork...all have moms....good to eat!

Veggies may not have moms, but all are good for you....try roasting root veggies brushed with Olive Oil and sprinkled with Sea Salt (lower sodium) and fresh ground pepper....or boil a head of cauliflower til tender and then mash with just a hint of butter and heavy cream...delicious!!

Check out Trader Joe's for wild caught, cooked salmon...super low in calories and carbs....big time protein. Their fresh chicken sausages (all flavors) are low in fat, calories, carbs and rich in protein.

And finally, today...keep a dozen hard boiled eggs on hand all the time. Great, protein rich snacks...and you can make a killer egg salad using coarse ground Dijon mustard and fresh prepared Horseradish for a quick, healthy lunch.

Check back often! We will be posting recipes as often as we can....in the meantime--stay healthy!