A Little Bit of Prep…

26 Mar

…goes a long way!

I really wish I could be one of those people who plans out their entire week’s meals in advance. I might need to add this to one of my lists, but for now I know it just isn’t realistic for my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean, however, that I can’t plan ahead sometimes and make my week a little easier with a little bit of prep!

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I ran home from work today and it was gloriously light out the whole way. I decided to swing by the supermarket before heading home to pick up a few random things and I was back at my apartment by 7:45. I started pre-heating the oven immediately and then did some quick slicing, measuring and heating. In no time at all – and with minimal effort – I had a bunch of things cooking and I saved myself a lot of time the rest of the week. Not the greatest picture, I know, but I was able to roast eggplant, bake a sweet potato and make hard boiled eggs and quinoa.

These may not be full meals that I was able to plan ahead for the week, but they are all still great additions to what I will eat over the next few days and I have so many options to keep me focused and eating well.

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Make the Right Decisions for Yourself

24 Mar

Call me crazy, but sometimes the hardest person to be is yourself. I recently received an email from someone who had read this post and they wanted to share their personal Golden Rule: “never eat something to make someone else happy.” This is so important, and really could be taken even further. When it comes to health, fitness and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, you need to make the right decisions for yourself.

Don’t eat something you don’t want to just because it takes more effort to explain why you’re turning it down, you will regret it. Don’t skip a workout just because your friends make you feel guilty, its not worth it. Resolve to do what you need to do. You will be empowered by your own commitment and this will make these moments easier. Overtime people will roll their eyes less and stop hassling you. You will be happier and stronger, and they will support you more.

Like Cold Stone … Sort Of!

20 Mar

It used to be a real struggle for me to eat vegetables – I used to flat out refuse anything green. I slowly worked to incorporate a little here and there into my meals and one of my favorite ‘sneaks’ was turkey burgers. I used to chop up some onions, mushrooms and a little spinach and mix it right into the patties before cooking them up. These days I eat vegetables willingly and happily, but I still like the old standby recipes (if for nothing other than convenience)! So I was excited when I saw this recipe for Turkey Basil Artichoke Meatballs from PaleOMG – they looked delicious, and it was a bunch of new ingredients and flavors I hadn’t thought of adding into a ground turkey mixture before.

Turkey Basil Artichoke Meatballs 
(Makes 20 Meatballs – 4 Meatballs/4 PointsPlus)

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Ingredients:
1 pound, ground turkey (93-97% fat free)
1 (14 ounce) can, artichoke hearts, diced
1/4 onion, diced
4-5 tablespoons, fresh basil

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place skillet over medium heat, add diced onions and artichoke hearts. Once onions are translucent, remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.
3. In a large bowl mix together ground turkey, artichoke hearts, onions and basil.
4. Scoop the mixture out with a spoon, and form 20 meatballs with your hands. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

This recipe is really great and easy to make. I really liked using artichokes in the mixture since it was a new idea for me, but it also shows the endless possibilities for ingredients to add right in – just like Cold Stone … sort of! Once the meatballs are baked you can eat these plain, wrapped up like a hero, or with pasta. I served mine with spaghetti squash (my favorite, ever) and a little parmesan cheese!

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Recipe adapted from PaleOMG

The Little Things

19 Mar

Sometimes it’s just the little things that make such a difference. I saw this on the sidewalk on my way to work in the morning and it had an affect on me. Something small and insignificant, something that other people probably just walked right over – I noticed it, I appreciated it, and it meant something to me. photo (28)

I have learned so many things in the last four years: about being healthy, about sacrifice, about self-respect and also about my relationships with other people and my surroundings. It isn’t always easy but the little things can really help.

I Get Knocked Down

12 Mar

So I actually had a very different post in mind for today – I had my 90’s song all picked out but the theme was going to be about getting re-motivated and finding balance for a healthy lifestyle. And then something shocking happened to me.

After work I went to donate blood for the American Red Cross. This is a new thing I have been trying to do every few months – I think it is so important, and such an easy way to give back. I had just finished and was sitting down for a few minutes, when I heard a bone cracking thud. The guy next to me had fainted face forwards onto the floor. I had never seen someone faint. I know it’s common after donating a pint of your own blood, but this was a first for me. When he came to he bolted up immediately and tried to stand, terrifying all the nurses around him.

It’s not funny and I know that, and I was glad to see he was okay afterwards, but it was just so in keeping with my planned blog title for the night so I couldn’t help but share. And as I walked home I hummed: I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down… 
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I tried this new recipe on Sunday night because I am still working on keeping my motivation up and getting back on plan –  jumping back up after a fall, you could say.  These delicious Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins came from a blog that I love and have followed for a while, Fannetastic Food. They are easy to make, really filling and satisfying. Check them out:

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:
Dry:
1 1/2 cups, whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup, brown sugar
1/4 cup, chopped pecans
1/4 cup, dried cranberries
2 teaspoons, ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon, ground cloves
1 teaspoon, baking powder IMG_4900
1 teaspoon, baking soda
1/4 teaspoon, salt
Wet:
1 1/2 cups, unsweetened applesauce
1 cup, shredded carrots

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl, and the dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Then combine, adding wet to dry and stirring gently until the mixture is uniform. Spoon the mixture into a non-stick or sprayed muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes or so, until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.

Note: I made a few small changes to the original recipe based on what I had in my kitchen!

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Recipe adapted from Fannetastic Food

Spice Up Your Life!

11 Mar

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Losing weight is hard, no secret there. Maintaining weight loss is also a challenge. It can be a lot of work to stay motivated and keep up the momentum. I have found that trying a new food, testing out a recipe, or running a different route can keep things exciting and helps me focus. Sometimes you just have to spice up your life!

My routine has become boring lately and I knew it was time to switch things up. I had friends coming over for dinner and I wanted to make something we could all enjoy and that I would be comfortable eating – plus I could use the leftovers throughout the week! This recipe is simple and delicious, and all the flavors from the spices really help step it up.

I prepped the chicken and onions this morning and let it marinate all day while I was at work. When I got home, everything was ready to go and just needed to be cooked – super simple. The original Weight Watchers recipe is for kebabs but I just cooked it on the stove. I served the chicken with roasted eggplant, quinoa and homemade tzatiki sauce.

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Moroccan Chicken ‘Kebabs’ (4 servings/5 PointsPlus)
Ingredients:
1 1/4 pounds, uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon, unsweetened orange juice
1/2 teaspoon, ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon, ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon, ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon, ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon, table salt
1/4 teaspoon, garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper
1/2 uncooked large onion

Instructions:
1. Cut the chicken and onion into 1-inch pieces.
2. Mix the chicken, onion, orange juice and all spices in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.
3. Saute the chicken and onions together on the stove top until chicken is cooked through.

PS – look forward to a week of 90’s hit music themed blog posts. Ginger Spice is really excited and you should be too. 

As Delicious As It Sounds

10 Mar

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Thinking back, this may have been one of my very first more ‘risky’ baking attempts. That isn’t to say it is very difficult, because its not, but these are definitely a step up from your traditional chocolate chip cookie.

These pillow cookies are brownie stuffed chocolate chip cookies – yes, that exists. And it is as delicious as it sounds.

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Ingredients:
1 cup, butter
1 1/2 cups, packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon, vanilla
2 1/2 cups, all purpose flour
2 teaspoons, baking powder
1/2 teaspoon, salt
12 oz bag, semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 package, brownie mix
Instructions:
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1. Make brownies according to package directions and let cool. Cut into squares.

2. To make the cookie dough, begin by beating butter with a mixer until creamy.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and mix. Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.3. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a measuring cup, scoop the batter by the 1/4 – 1/2 cup (depending on size you want). Place the dough on parchment paper – work quickly so the dough remains chilled.

5. Make an indentation in the cookie dough and place a brownie square in the center. Press the brownie gently down and work the remaining cookie dough around the brownie. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. If your dough gets too soft, you can chill the rolled dough balls for a few minutes before baking.

6. Bake the cookies for 18 minutes and let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Then cool completely on a wire rack.

Just to note, these cookies do come out pretty enormous but I think they could easily be made smaller. I recommend trying to cut them down a little.

Recipe adapted from Bakerella

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