RECIPES

  • EASY SPAGHETTI SQUASH DINNER

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    I figured since I wrote about spaghetti squash Tuesday I’d share one of my favorite quick & easy ways to enjoy it. 

    First, cook your squash {easiest way for me is to poke holes in it all over using corn skewers, set it on a plate & microwave for 5 minutes.  Turn it over & microwave it again for 5 minutes.  Let cool a bit, cut in half, scoop out & throw away seeds, scrape out squash in spaghetti-like strands with a fork & store in a tupperware container in your fridge}.squashandtunaQuick Tuna Squash Dinner Bowl

    Put 1-1.5 cups spaghetti squash in large bowl.  Heat it.
    Add 1 tsp. fave oil {olive/coconut/avocado} or 2 tsp. fave light butter {healthy fat}
    Open 2 cans tuna & drain.  Add 1.5 cans to your bowl {feed leftover half can to your cat or kids-they’ll love it!}
    Sprinkle with lemon pepper & 1/2 T. parmesan cheese.
    Heat again for 20-30 seconds.
    Easy, healthy, delicious!  ENJOY!

  • OUR WEEK IN DINNERS

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    Confession: Last week I didn’t do a menu and I totally paid for it.  I didn’t realize what a huge difference being prepared in that way meant for me.  It was big. 

    It’s not that I went totally off plan, but I’d say about 50%.  Not cool.  And, my treadmill finally died Thursday which was totally sad because I just don’t get the same workout on the elliptical {but made myself do 45 minutes each day anyway}. 
    So, I felt a bit off.  Anyway, this morning I knew that being prepared & planning ahead would be one of the keys to making this a winning week.  Here it is-hopefully it will help someone else, too.

    Monday:  Leftover Ground turkey/French bread boats, green beans

    Tuesday:  Gone for a meeting; husband making breakfast-for-dinner with kiddos

    WednesdayChicken Fajita Salads

    ThursdayCilantro Lime Shrimp, Mashed Cauliflower

    {picture via Eat Yourself Skinny}

    Friday: Asian Lettuce Cups + fresh fruit

    Saturday: Date night

  • THIS WEEK IN DINNER + SOME FAVE FOODIE SITES

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    Last week I posted our weekly Menu and I hope it was useful.  It was helpful for me to have them written in one place where I could easily click the link & have the recipe up in full view while preparing & cooking.  So, here’s this week’s edition.  Maybe you’ll get some inspiration! 

    Monday: Skinny Chicken Divan {+ taking THIS to 2 families in our community who are sick}

    Tuesday: Chunky Beef Stew {sans white potatoes} + Rolls

    Wednesday: Grilled Kabobs {with shrimp instead of chicken} + baked sweet potatoes

    Thursday: Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken {last time I made double, so this is already done in the freezer} + Salad

    Friday: Cauliflower Pizzas

    Saturday: Date night Out

     

    Some of my favorites:

    Eating for Life {cookbook}

    Dashing Dish {blog}

    SkinnyTaste {blog}

    Eat Yourself Skinny {blog}

    Sandy’s Kitchen Adventures {Blog + Great for clients on TSFL}

    Our Best Bites {cookbook + blog= mostly for free days/meals}

    The Pioneer Woman {Blog: for free days/meals-her maple cinnamon rolls are my very favorite}

    What are your favorite sites/cookbooks? 

    Oh yeah, did I mention….

  • THIS WEEK IN DINNER

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    Confession:  I hate to make dinner.

    I know, I know, worst wife/mom ever, right?  It’s just that I always put it off and never have any ideas and then I look at the clock between 4 & 5 PM and think, “Dang…what should I make for dinner?”  No wonder it’s stressful!  About a month ago I started making a meal plan menu for the week on Sunday nights.  I’d grocery shop Monday morning for that week & be all prepared.  No more waiting til the last minute to plan & prepare.  Each morning I’d set out whatever I needed {thaw meat, put stuff in crockpot, cut & store veggies, etc.} and then the late afternoon/evening prep was much more enjoyable!  What a surprise, right?  I’ve got to be the first woman ever to have figured this concept out! (;

    The last couple weeks were all thrown off because of the communicable disease that chose to run rampant in our home {ha!} and I got out of the habit.  Last night I sat down & worked it out again though, so I thought I’d share.  Enjoy!

    {PS: Dinners around here consist of a lean & green friendly meal for myself & the same for the husband and kiddos, but with an added carb to theirs.}

    Monday: Baked cilantro/lime Tilapia, {using this recipe, but subbing tilapia for shrimp} Green salad, baked sweet potato

    Tuesday: Crockpot chicken, Asparagus, Wheat pasta

    • 24 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
    • 1 celery stalk
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 16 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth

    -Put all ingredients in crock pot, chicken broth until chicken is covered, add additional seasonings as desired.  Cover & cook on high for 4 hours.

    Wednesday: Ground Turkey boat with French bread

    Thursday: Chicken & veggie stir fry, brown rice

    Friday: Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce, corn

    Saturday: Leftovers/Date Night

    Sunday: Veggie &/or cheese Omelets & wheat toast

    I’d LOVE to hear what’s on your menu for the week.  Feel free to share your recipes, too!

  • THE GOOD GREEN STUFF

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    Confession: I LOVE salad

     

    I recently found a great new healthy resource blog-this girl rocked my socks!  I LOVE her blog and can so relate to her.  There is a lot of reading there, but so worth it when you have the time.  Anyway, as my title says, I LOVE SALAD.  Seriously.  Good stuff.  However, it’s easy for me to get discouraged about it for two reasons:

     

    1. Keeping veggies on hand fresh

    2. Getting bored with the same old thing every day

     

    Until.

     

    I found Andie’s salad post.  My world is spinning thinking of the possibilities.  I am totally using her method of fixing the HUGE salad at the beginning of the week & then keeping it fresh.  I think I am in LOVE with this idea.  Because I LOVE salad.  For the very same reasons Andie mentioned.  So without further adieu, I’m letting her tell her story with her words.  Because she just nailed it.

    {Everything-including pictures-within quotes is taken directly from Andie’s blog}

     

    3 Reasons Why Salad Makes the Best Healthy Lunch Option:


    1. Volume. Nothing fills me like a brimming bowl of fresh vegetables with lots of mix-ins. Not sandwiches, not soups, not even cake.*

    *I’d be willing to give this one another shot.

    And for lunch, when I need to feel ultra-satisfied, yet still light enough to go about my day in as energetic a way as I can (which is to say, not very), salad brings the heft and the nutrients like no other.

     

    2. Variety. Salads to offer a world more variety than other things. I start with a base of every fresh, raw vegetable I know of, and then I layer on my favorite toppings- whatever sings sweetest to me from my fridge on that given day. I’m unlimited in flavors and textures. And remember that volume thing? Yeah.

     

    3. Ease. These buckets of vegetables, they make my life breezier in two ways:

     

    a.) I prep a massive load of salad every Sunday, so that I have the base all ready to simply grab a few handfuls each day, toss them in an over-sized resealable bowl, and then add whatever toppings strike my fancy. The trick to this is to dry the cut vegetables well with a towel (paper or cloth), and to cover the top with a dry paper towel before sealing the whole salad in a closeable container. The dry paper towel will soak up any excess moisture in the bunch and keep your greens from wilting. Replace the paper towel every 1-2 days as needed. This salad lasts me through Friday.

     

    b.) I use up all the leftovers from my dinners throughout the week. Here, I get creative. Stir fry last night? Tomorrow I’d add the saucy chicken and vegetables to a base of greens along with a can of mandarin oranges (should my cupboard be so fancy and well-stocked), and then I’d whisk together a super simple dressing with equal parts soy sauce, peanut butter, and water. Brisket or pulled pork in the fridge? I’ve been known to plop them directly on a bed of greens with some sort of pungent cheese- blue or feta or gorgonzola- and then dress the whole mess in barbecue sauce. Barbecue chicken leftovers? I’m opening a can of black beans, adding in some frozen (defrosted) corn kernels, diced onion, and avocado. This bowlful will get all gussied up in hot salsa and sour cream for a burrito bowl.

     

    I’d try to sound fancier, but honestly, I’ve been known to lay my favorite hot meatballs and marinara on a big bowl of greens.

    Get creative. Whatever sounds good together, whatever flavors your craving- that mix will work just fine on top of greens. Show me your fridge and I’ll show you an unlimited salad bar.

     

    Here are a few basic principles I follow when fixing myself a veg fest:

     

    Constructing a Balanced Salad:  400 Calorie Breakdown

    salad-01

    100 calories: vegetables

    • greens: romaine, baby spinach, mixed baby lettuces, arugula, frisee, red or green leaf, butter, bibb
    • carrots (grated, sliced thinly on the diagonal, or shredded with a vegetable peeler)
    • peppers: any color
    • red cabbage (shaved)
    • cucumber (seeds removed, halved and chopped into crescents)

    salad-05

    100-150 calories: protein

    • 3 oz of chicken, beef, pork, tofu, tempeh, or fish
    • ½ cup beans or lentils
    • 2 hard or soft boiled eggs
    • 1 can tuna fish
    • 1/2- ¾ cup cottage cheese (I buy 4% milkfat because the more velvety texture is unmatchable in lighter versions- so creamy, so thick)

    sunflower seeds (1)

    100-150 calories: fat

    • 1/4-1/3 of an avocado
    • 2 tablespoons any dressing (all will generally clock in around 150 calories on average)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped nuts/seeds: almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pepitas
    • 3 tablespoons full fat sour cream (excellent topping for a Mexican salad along with salsa)
    • 1 ounce or ¼ cup shredded/grated/crumbled cheese: any kind

    salad-11

    100 calories: fun

    • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
    • handful croutons
    • mandarin oranges and fried wonton sticks (if I’m lucky to have them on hand for an Asian-style salad)
    • ¼ cup hummus
    • sweet beets
    • 2 crisp slices bacon, crumbled

    salad-08

    Dressing:

    Now, here’s an interesting part of my salad-making. I don’t often use traditional dressings- bottled or homemade. This is mostly because I’ve gotten accustomed to using thicker, more concentrated flavors in the form of:

    • hummus (¼ cup makes a creamy topper)
    • guacamole (¼ cup)
    • fresh salsa (and often full fat sour cream- this combination becomes creamy sweet with the right amount of acidity)
    • peanut butter (1 tablespoon thinned with equal parts soy sauce and water (1 tbsp each) and a ¼ tsp ground ginger)
    • cottage cheese (½ cup of 4% milkfat- what I find to be the richest, creamiest variety)
    • sweet preserves: jams, cranberry sauce (at Thanksgiving), orange marmalade, apricot preserves, honey
    • ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce (excellent on a meat or veggie burger salad with cheese and all the fixin’s you’d normally find between a bun next to fries)

    BLTizza (4)

    The beauty of using these thick creams and spreads is that they add much more to the vegetables in terms of mouthfeel. Whereas vinaigrettes and other dressings might be fairly high in calories (for such a small portion) and light in terms of ‘wow’ flavor, these thick creams coat the vegetables in a more pronounced, distinguishable way. They’re saucy rather than just slippery.”

     

    Awesome, huh?  She totally inspires me.  And because I’m all about motivating ourselves in the best & most healthy ways, I love to share these awesome motivators when I find them.  Go over and leave Andie some love on her blog!  I guarantee you won’t go away feeling like you wasted your time.

     

    And, GO EAT A SALAD!  Then share with me what you did!

     

  • WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU?

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    Found this awesome resource for peeps who are using Take Shape for Life to lose their weight and become healthy.  Lynn from “Escape from Obesity,” posts all sorts of Lean and Green friendly meals and they look delicious.

     

    On our menu for tonight? Low Carb Cauliflower “Potato” Salad.  I’ll let you know how it is.  What are you eating for dinner?

     

    Cauliflower “Potato” Salad

     

    2 and 2/3 cups steamed cauliflower
    3 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, chopped
    1/4 cup finely diced celery
    1 hard boiled egg, chopped
    3 Tbsp light mayonnaise
    1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp black pepper
    sprinkle of dill
    If you are starting with a head of fresh cauliflower, you can quarter it and steam it for about 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Texture is key here; you want it to be about the same texture as cooked potatoes would be for potato salad. Not too firm, and definitely NOT mushy. Use a fork to test it as it cooks. As soon as it is tender, remove from the heat and rinse in cold water for several minutes until the cauliflower is all cold. Then set on paper towels to drain, and pat dry if necessary. You don’t want it to be wet when you add ingredients.
    Chop the cauliflower into small bites (like potatoes in potato salad). Place in a bowl with the scallions, celery, and eggs. Gently toss together. Then add the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper; fold together gently with a spatula until well combined. Sprinkle a little dill over the top. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
    This recipe makes two very large ( 1 1/2 cup) servings or four smaller 3/4 cup servings.
    One large serving (half the recipe) contains:
    140 calories
    11 g carbs
    9 g fat
    7 g protein
    So, 1/4 recipe (3/4 cup) has 70 calories, 5.5 g carbs, 4.5 g fat, 3.5 g protein.
    The breakdown for Medifast is:
    1/2 recipe yields 1 full Green (3 veg servings), 1/6 Lean, and under 2 1/2 condiments.
    *notes: I thought it could use a little more salt, maybe some onion powder; season to taste. If you can stand some extra calories/Lean serving, I think adding another hard boiled egg would be great! Whatever you use to season YOUR potato salad, you can use in this recipe; some ideas are Dijon mustard instead of yellow, chopped Dill pickles or pickle relish, paprika, or a slice of crumbled, crisp bacon. I actually needed some extra protein when I ate these as leftovers the next day, so I added another chopped egg and some chopped dill pickle and it was fabulous! Enjoy!

  • REALLY GOOD SANDWICH

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    One of the things I crave a lot of times is a really good sandwich.  I’m a carboholic & bread is one of my mainstays.  I prefer chicken over beef, and one of my favorite not-so-great foods for me is a chicken sandwich.  Crispy, please.
    I came up with the following & it is just as satisfying as a Crispy chicken sandwich…without the stomachache & guilt afterward!

     

    -In a pam sprayed frying pan, cook a sweet carmelized onion Chicken burger {Amylu brand-from Costco} by searing on medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side.

    -Toast one 100 calorite Bagel or Sandwich thin {whole wheat}

    -Spread one wedge light laughing cow swiss cheese on one side of the bun

    -Spread 1 T. BBQ sauce {I like Sweet Baby Ray’s} on the other side

    -Lay burger on the bun, add lettuce & sauteed peppers if desired, & eat.

    -Serve with a side of steamed veggies and ENJOY!

     

     

  • PEANUT BUTTER CUPS

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    Okay, a friend shared this recipe with me tonight & I tried it.  Wow.  I think I’ll have one at least every other day.  DELICIOUS!

     

    -Spray small ramekin with Pam spray

    -Mix 1 packet MF hot cocoa with enough water to make it like cupcake icing consistency.  I used probably 3 tablespoons or so.  Not too liquidy & not too thick. {I used a small wire whisk in a bowl & it worked great}

    -Use a spatula to put half the cocoa batter into the ramekin.  Shape & pat it nicely into the bottom.

    -Spread 1 T. Peanut butter on top of the batter

    -Spread the remaining chocolate batter on top

    -Freeze for 1.5-2 hours.

    -Top with 1-2 T. fat free spray whip

     

    You end up with an amazing extra large “peanut butter cup” that tastes absolutely divine.  Seriously good!

     

  • CHICKEN/FISH PARMESAN

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    A friend shared this recipe with me & it will definitely become a regular in our dinner rotation.

     

    -Beat 1 egg in a bowl

    -Dip chicken or fish {I used tilapia} in egg & coat

    -Roll in a mixture of Parmesan cheese & italian seasonings

    -Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes

     

    *Also good as leftovers the next day.  Spray a pan with Pam or olive oil spray.  Set stove to medium-low & put chicken/fish from the night before in the pan.  Cover & let warm through.  Spray occasionally with a calorie free butter spray.  Flip & warm other side, spraying as well.  Sprinkle fish with lemon juice.  YUM!

  • MAINTENANCE BROWNIE

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    Cook 1 Medifast brownie as package directs.

    Let cool for 5 minutes.

    Put in a ziplock baggie, seal, store in freezer.

    Leave in freezer at least 4 hours, overnight is better.

     

    When ready to eat, remove from freezer.  Cut a slit in brownie package.  Pull off frozen brownie.  Spread 1-2 tsp. peanut butter on top of brownie.  Finish off with 1-2 T. fat-free spray whip topping {5 calorie/Tablespoon}.

     

    Absolutely divine.