#PlankWithNikki Challenge

It’s the time again…

Time for me to challenge you with 30 days of something to make your body a little stronger!

Since I’ve had a good response to plank challenges in the past, I figured why not kick off the beginning of spring with one. For the next 30 days, I challenge you to follow the graphic below and do a plank-a-day, with the goal of being able to hold a 5 minute plank by day 30.

#PlankWithNikki Challenge

As you can see, I am not asking for much time per day. You can squeeze this into your day very easily, especially since most of the month only requires 2 minutes or less of your time. That doesn’t sound too bad right?

I will be posting a daily accountability post over on the Facebook Page and I invite you to check-in daily. Accountability is so important to staying on track. Plus, you just might inspire someone else to get their plank done, by posting about yours!

Use the hashtag #PlankWithNikki, especially when posting on Instagram. I love being inspired by others and would love to see what you are up to!

Questions or concerns about how to hold a proper plank pose? Check out this post from the archives or post a message to me over on the Facebook Page.

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#FFMarchMiles = 100 Miles in March

I’m a believer that things come into your life for a reason and I received proof of that yesterday.

I’ve been day dreaming about running again. It’s been about 2 months since I’ve laced up and felt the wind on my face and I’ve been a little depressed about that. To me, there is nothing like the quality time I spend alone, with the sunshine and the fresh air, while pushing myself to new limits.

Last year I ran all winter and I loved it. I actually did better when it was cold out, but this year, the Polar Vortex temps have made it to dangerous (in my opinion) to go out and enjoy myself.

Yesterday, while checking Instagram, I saw that FitFluential posted a new challenge for March and the focus was running!

I instantly got excited about this, since I’ve been daydreaming about hitting the pavement again. I tagged a few runner friends I’ve met on Instagram and they all responded yes to the challenge, so I’m really stoked to have not only a goal, but a support and motivation team too!

#FFMarchMiles

The challenge is to walk, run or hike 100 miles in the month of March. I know that sounds like a lot of mileage, but it breaks down to 3.2 miles a day. They even made a training calendar that changes up the mileage and makes it super easy to know what you need to do each day! CLICK HERE FOR THE CALENDAR

If you would like to participate, use #FFMarchMiles when posting to Instagram or Twitter, because FitFluential has teamed up with Reebok for this challenge and two lucky participants will win some amazing Reebok gear!

Now grab your running shoes, find a sidewalk, trail or treadmill and get moving!

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Sneak Peak: Brett Hoebel’s 20-Minute Body Workout

Brett Hoebel 20-Minute Body Demo

Back in January, I had the opportunity to head into NYC during the Polar Vortex, to workout with Brett Hoebel, again. For those of you who remember, Brett took my FlyWheel virginity last June, so I jumped at the chance to meet him again and learn more about his new 20-Minute Body workout.

As I entered the hotel gym where the demo was taking place, I received the warmest welcome from Brett and I was shocked that he remembered me from FitblogNYC as well as FlyWheel. I may have internally fangirled for a moment, but I kept my composure and happily engaged in some fitness talk with him and the other bloggers who were there for the small session. I was surprised by how intimate the class was. I was expecting a large group, but it was only myself, two other bloggers, Brett and his fitness model doing the workout (who was such a sweet person. I truly enjoyed chatting with her after class). In all honesty that made me a bit nervous because I couldn’t hide in the back like I normally do during group fitness events….I really need to get over this phobia!

During the first few minutes of the session, Brett went over the basics of this 20-minute program and explained what we would be doing. His passion for fitness and the Brazilian art of Capoeira, which is a form of self defense based on martial arts, acrobatics, and dance, really shined through here and I found myself getting excited and nervous to give this a try. One of the things I loved about my prior class with Brett, was his selection of music and he didn’t disappoint for this workout either…the electronic dance music was playing and you could feel your energy begin to flow listening to it.

To get the blood pumping on this frigid NYC day, Brett started us off with a cardio series full of crosses, upper cuts, jab, sidekicks and some fancy footwork, which my two left feet didn’t handle too well. At the end of the cardio warm-up, Brett enthusiastically pumped us up and then bumped up the intensity for the next round. The circuit he did with us was called the “4×4″ and consisted of four sets of 1 minute long, explosive isometric moves, featuring low runner’s lunge-squat combos, crossover walking planks, jump squats and of course abs. Brett increased the difficulty each round by slightly tweaking each move and added a “shake ‘n bake” shimmy with a kick, to the ab roll-ups and a mountain climber variation to the plank holds.

Don’t be fooled by the 20-minute aspect of this program….it will kick your ass, quite literally…my booty was killing me after this routine, but in a good way! The best part? All you need is 20 minutes a day, a 4 foot-by-4 foot space and your own body-weight to complete these moves.

As you know, I’ve been a big fan of these shorter workouts! They are perfect for busy mom’s, like myself and after doing programs like Focus T25 and P90X3, I can’t wait to try the full 20-Minute Body program….saving those 5-10 minutes could mean the difference between blowing drying my hair or tossing it into a pony tail before running errands!

Here is a sample of what we did (note: You may recognize Rachel from Insanity in this demo!):

You can also catch the “Fit Minute” segment, that Brett did on CBS’ The Couch, the day after I did the demo with him, by clicking HERE.

20-Minute Body is expected to be released Spring 2014 and will feature different levels of workouts depending on where you are in your fitness journey, a journal to track your progress and of course a nutrition guide.

If you are interested in learning more, why not join Brett’s 20-Minute Body Challenge? Click the graphic below to sign-up today!

20 Minute Body march2014

 

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Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

I apparently have two speeds when it comes to this blog, over productive and complete slacker. I truly apologize for that.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Between snow storms, everyday tasks and studying for my certification, I’ve been highly overwhelmed and stressed. When I get that way, I try to remove things from plate that aren’t essential to day to day living, so blogging tends to take a back burner, which I hate, because I enjoy doing it.

With that, I’ve still been in the kitchen and sticking with clean eating (with the exception of the Papa John’s Pizza and the burger I had while at Super Bowl Boulevard the other day – more on that soon) and I have a new recipe to share with you!

I found the inspiration for it on Pinterest of course. It’s more like a crustless quiche than a casserole but I’ve never made a quiche so I can’t say for sure, therefore we shall call it a casserole.

Sausage and Vegetable Casserole

Sausage and Vegetable CasseroleIngredients:
1lb Italian sweet sausage (you can use hot if you prefer)
¾ lb broccoli florets (about 4 cups)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 small pepper (any color), chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
3 free-range organic eggs
½ cup milk (you can use non dairy)
A handful of fresh basil, chopped
A pinch ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Place sausage on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 mins (Turn them halfway through cooking. Slice into 1/4 round pieces, like the zucchini)
3. Grease an 8×8-inch baking dish and set aside.
4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add broccoli florets, zucchini, pepper, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of salt, red pepper flakes and about ¼ cup of water.
5. Cover with a lid and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes stirring often. The vegetables should brown a bit and must be thoroughly cooked, but still retain some of their crunchiness. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
6. In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, ¼ tsp of salt and nutmeg for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Add chopped basil and stir to combine.
7. Add the sausage and vegetables to baking dish and spread them on an even layer. With the back of a spoon press them down gently.
8. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if desired).
9. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

This was a quick a simple recipe to make. You could add any vegetables you have on hand to it and you could even use chicken if you prefer. I was craving sausage and peppers but I didn’t want to have bread or pasta, so this worked out perfect.

I haven’t tried too many new recipes lately. Since I’ve been so pressed for time, I’ve been sticking with what I know and keeping meals very simple.

If you have tried any new recipes that you loved, please send me a link to them! I’m always looking to try new things.

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{Slow Cooker Recipe} Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork

There are days that I don’t know what I would do without my slow cooker. Those days are usually Mondays. I don’t know what it is about Monday that usually leaves me running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Maybe it’s getting back into that weekday routine after being relaxed all weekend, or maybe it’s because I tend to cram everything humanly possible into the few short hours that the kids are in school. My guess is a combination of the two, but thankfully, the invention of the slow cooker makes one Monday task an easy one.

As I mentioned in my Eating Healthy On A Budget post, I like to purchase meat in bulk. I have staple meats that are always on hand in my freezer, ground beef, pork loin, chicken thighs and chuck roasts. These are staples for me because they can be prepared using different cooking methods, and are perfect for tossing into the slow cooker while still frozen!

Sometimes I plan my week with grand intentions of trying tons of new recipes, but then I wake up with a headache, end up having to go out somewhere or just flat out don’t feel like cooking (I know, that last one is crazy, but it happens from time to time). Those are the times I thankfully for my supply of frozen meat options, my slow cooker and my collection of recipes on Pinterest!

This recipe is actually intended for pork ribs, but I didn’t have pork ribs…I had a pork loin roast, so I figured why not?!

Asian Five-Spice Pulled Pork
Recipe Inspired by The Clothes Make The Girl

Asain Five-Spice Pulled PorkIngredients:
2-3lb pork loin roast
2 tsps Chinese five-spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder (I used a garlic pepper combo)
2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsps coconut aminos
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper
1 sliced jalapeno (optional – I used some jalapeno hot sauce because I didn’t have a fresh jalapeno on hand)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, Chinese five-spice, and garlic powder, then massage the mixture onto the pork.
2. If using the jalapeno, toss the sliced piece into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the vinegar, coconut aminos and tomato paste. Stir well to combine the tomato paste with the liquids.
3. Add the pork roast and cook on low for about 8-10 hours.
4. When the pork is done, shred and mix with the juices in the slow cooker. Serve.

This pork had a wonderful, sweet flavor with just a hint of spice from the jalapeno. I served this with sweet potato mash and sauteed spinach, but this is yet another dish that would work perfect as a lettuce wrap. There are really very few meats that wouldn’t work well as a lettuce wrap, right?!

I’ve clearly been on a Asian kick with my meals this week. I think it might just be an excuse to eat lettuce wraps and Sriracha, because that is exactly how I used the left overs from this meal today.

Do you own a slow cooker? If so, do you use it a lot or does it just sit on a shelf in the pantry?

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Easy Korean Style Beef

Yesterday was one of those days where time just got away from me. I meant to do my meal planning and some meal prepping, but I ended up taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning up the living-room. Before I knew it, the Broncos vs. Chargers game was on and I still didn’t know what I was cooking for dinner. These are the times I am thankful for Pinterest!

I opened up my laptop, plugged in the words healthy, ground beef and recipes and I had plenty of options to choose from. I knew right off the bat that chili was not an option since Mike is not a fan of it. I was not in the mood for red sauce so meatballs were out. Thankfully I stumbled on this recipe inspired by Korean Bulgogi, which is traditionally made using thin slices of marinated beef.

Easy Korean Style Beef
Recipe adapted from Kim Kim Cooking
Serves 4

easy korean style beefIngredients:
1 pound lean grounded beef
1 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions:
1. In a pan or wok, add oil and heat over medium heat.
2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add beef, stir well.
4. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, and water. Stir will to mix with the beef.
5. Cook for 7 minutes over medium-high heat, until cooked through.

This meal was super quick to prepare and cook. I made some jasmine rice to serve this over, and I added snap peas to the pan as I cooked the beef. Of course I topped everything with Sriracha, because…..Sriracha! The Sriracha actually balanced out the sweetness of this dish really well. Today I had the left over beef and snap peas as lettuce wraps for lunch, and that was a really yummy too!

Meals like this just show that you don’t have to spend a ton of money or time in the kitchen to have a healthy meal. What is your favorite quick, healthy meal?

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Eating Healthy On A Budget

Eating Healthy on a Budget

If you are like me, you don’t have a ton of extra cash and that money tree you attempted to plant last spring just never bloomed.

One of the most common things I hear from people is “There is no way we can afford to eat healthy on our food budget.” I get it! I really do. I lost my job almost a year ago and while I didn’t make a ton of money, it helped to cover things like groceries, especially once I switched us to organic produce and grass-fed meats. Now I’m forced to really think about where we spend our money and quite honestly, we don’t go out to eat as often (it was just hindering my goals anyway) and we were forced to prioritize where our money went. Groceries are more important than almost anything I can think of (after the mortgage, car payment and utilities, of course) so in my case, that is where my extra money is allotted to.

So how do I feed my family healthy foods without breaking the bank? Well…. here are a few of the techniques I’ve been using, as well as a few I would like to begin implementing soon.

1. Meal Planning: I’ve spoken about meal planning a little bit on here before. I’ll sit down and figure out a weeks worth of dinners (with enough leftovers for Mike to take to work) and make a shopping list based on them. I usually try to choose recipes with similar ingredients but different flavor profiles, so I can buy items in bulk and we don’t get bored eating the same thing over and over. The upside of meal planning is that you are creating a plan. This plan helps you to save money at the grocery store (as long as you stick to the list), plus you’ll save time in the kitchen because you’ll know what you are cooking each day. You will also save money by being prepared because you’ll have dinner on hand and you won’t need to order a pizza or go to the drive-thru. As much as I love pizza and a good greasy burger with fries from time to time, they hold very little nutritional value, but they have a decent sized price tag when feeding a family of four.

2. Meal Prep: Many people meal prep these days. You know it’s becoming popular when Rachel Ray makes a cookbook and show about the topic, right?!  (She has some good options and ideas on the show but she tends to be heavy handed on the cheese and oil, so please adjust those recipes to fit your goals if you watch that show or have the book.) Meal prepping is taking your meal planning a step further. You do a bulk grocery shopping, lay out your recipes and then have a marathon cooking session, usually on a Sunday, so you are all set for the week. There are two different approaches to this that I have seen. Some follow recipes for casseroles or slow cooker meals and prepare everything to be either tossed into the slow cooker the morning they plan to eat that meal or reheat the casserole when they get home from work on a particular day. The other method is to roast, steam or sautee large batches of vegetables, grill, roast or sautee chicken, ground beef or other proteins and cook large batches of rice or pasta. They use a general seasoning (usually just salt and pepper) to the foods to keep them generic, then when packaging them into plastic containers (try to make sure these are BPA-free) they may add different seasoning and combinations or sides to change the taste profile of the meals. Both techniques are excellent, I think it just depends on your lifestyle to see which fits better. I tend to use both, since I like to have options ready for me at lunchtime, but I also need full meals for dinner. Here are two of my favorite meal prep lunches.

3. Buy Food in Bulk: I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t have a membership to Sam’s Club, Costco or some other warehouse club. If you don’t have one, you probably have a friend or family member who does, so ask them if they would mind taking you one day. While these stores don’t always have grass-fed meat and organic produce, I’m okay with that. As much as I would love to buy everything organic, grass-fed or free range, it’s just not possible and I take the time to wash non-organic produce well (make sure you use white vinegar mixed with water to remove the pesticides). Buying in bulk gives you a big bang for your buck. It may seem like a lot of money to lay out at once, but if you purchase items you use on a day to day basis, you’re going to save money in the long run. I tend to purchase nuts, oils, spices and produce there. I also like to stock up on meat. I save a ton of money by buying club packs of meat and then breaking them down and freezing them. I buy chicken thighs with the skin and bones and just remove them myself when I get home. I’ll buy thick boneless pork chops and slice them in half to make thinner ones because it saves a ton of money. Yes, it’s a little time consuming, but I save money and still get to feed my family real meals each night, so it’s worth it! If you use a lot of dried fruits, whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, coconut or almond flour I would recommend looking for bulk options and purchasing them that way.

4. Shop The Reduced Produce Rack: Every grocery store has a reduced produce rack. These may not be THE freshest produce items in the store, but most of the time there is nothing wrong with them and they just get bumped back there to make room for the newest shipment. I use a lot of bananas so I always shop the reduced rack when I need them. Most of my bananas go into smoothies, so when I get them home, I take the peel off, toss them into a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. I get ripe bananas for pennies compared to the green bunches that have to sit on the counter for days before they can be used. As a matter of fact, I purchase a lot of vegetables from here. Peppers are perfect because I just take them home, cut them up and toss them into a freezer bag as well. If they have spinach or green beans back there, grab them, par boil them and freeze them!

5. Buy Frozen: When vegetables are out of season, they cost more. What’s worse is that they cost more and they aren’t even really fresh. They’ve traveled halfway around the world to get to your local grocer store. Do yourself a favor and just buy frozen vegetables when they are out of season. Frozen veggies are usually picked and then flash frozen so they most likely have more nutritional value than the “fresh” produce that travel the world to get to you. They also go on sale all the time! Many grocery stores have their own brands and you’ll only pay around $1-$2 per bag. You can also keep an eye out for sales and manufacturer coupons and then stock up. I would be lost without my stock of frozen vegetables in my freezer!

6. Buy Locally: Buying seasonally is a huge money saver as I mentioned above in the reduced produce and buy frozen section, but so is buying locally! Spring is the best time because that is when many local farmers markets open up. In summer, they are in full swing and there is an abundance of fresh produce available. Talk to the local farmers, get to know them and ask questions. Many times their produce is only minimally sprayed (or not sprayed at all) but they can’t afford the organic certification. If you plan on buying in bulk, be sure to speak to them because they may be able to cut you a deal. To find local Farmer’s Markets and when they open near you, visit Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide.

7. Join A CSA: I have not yet joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but it’s something I’ll be looking into. CSA’s have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. When you join a CSA you usually receive a box, bag or basket consisting of local, seasonal vegetables, but other farm products may be included. If you are a big fan of shopping at local farmers markets, joining a CSA might be a logical next step for you. For more info on CSA’s visit Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide.

8. Grow Your Own Food: I know not everyone has a yard but there are different options for growing your own food. I have tried my hand at this but I lack a green thumb. I seem to only have luck with herbs and it’s better than nothing. I found a website while lurking around on Pinterest called Square Foot Gardening and it’s something I plan on looking into more this season. I would love to be able to plant my summertime staple vegetables and be able to control the full growth process AND have the fresh from the vine when I need them. If you already grow your own vegetables, I would love to hear some of your tips and trick for keeping the squirrels away!

9. Use Whole Grains and Legumes: Unless you are following a Paleo or Gluten-Free lifestyle, using whole grains and legumes in your recipes will help you to stretch your dollar without sacrificing nutrition. They are filling and can be found in a ton of vegetarian recipes, so incorporating a “meatless monday” into your schedule can help cut back on the money you spend on meat, as well. I’m pretty sure if you are here and reading this far into the post, you know that white, processed pastas, breads and rice are not your best choices and that you should be opting for whole grain versions. Stock up on these in bulk and make them the stars of your dishes, but like everything in life… use them in moderation!

10. Avoid Processed Foods: While these foods seem like they fit into your budget easier, they leave your body nutritionally starved and begging for nutrients.  You end up eating more of these foods because your body is never truly satisfied by them due to the lack of nutrients. These over processed foods are filled with sugar, ingredients you can’t pronounce and unnatural food coloring. They are also designed to make you crave them, so you end up eating more, so what are you really saving by buying them?

When you do your grocery shopping, avoid the center aisles of the store. That is where the majority of the over processed foods are. I know that 10 for $10 seems like a budget saving deal, but in the long run, it is not unless we are talking plain ol’ frozen vegetables. All of those frozen diet entrees should be avoided like the plague. Ever flip one over and look at the ingredients?! It’s disgusting! They are full of gross additives and sodium. Skip them. Another area to skip is the yogurt in the dairy section. If it has a name like red velvet cake, boston cream pie or cherry cobbler, that means it is loaded with sugar. I don’t care if it says it is fat free. You can’t only look at one component of the ingredients. If you like yogurt, stick with plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit to it. Juice is another pitfall. Most commercial juices are full of sugar and additives. Your best bet is to purchase foods with less than 5 ingredients in them. If you can’t pronounce and ingredient, leave it in the store. Potatoes, strawberries, carrots, spinach, chicken and ground beef all have one single ingredient to them. That is the key to eating healthy and it is possible to do on a budget, you just have to plan a little more and be creative.

Here is list of produce you should try to purchase organic versions of because they are known to have the highest levels of pesticides:

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes
  10. Imported spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Don’t worry if you can’t get the organic versions all the time, it’s not the end of the world. Just take the time to clean them properly with equal parts water and white vinegar or a commercial veggie wash. Pesticides are designed to withstand rain, so just rinsing them with water is not enough to remove them.

If you have any tips for eating healthy on a budget I would love to hear them! Please share them below or over on my Facebook Page.

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{Slow Cooker Meal} Jerk Chicken

Yesterday afternoon, I was doing my workout and began debating what to make for dinner. I remembered I had a recipe for Jerk Chicken that I wanted to try. So as soon as I was done, I ran downstairs, mixed some recovery drink and began prepping my spices and chicken for cooking.

Now the recipe I found wasn’t a true Caribbean style jerk chicken, but it has spice and looked really tasty, so I had to give it a try.

Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken
Recipe from Ancestral Chef
Serves 6

jerk chickenIngredients:
12 chicken legs
4 teaspoons of salt
4 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on how spicy you like your chicken)
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of thyme
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoons of black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix all of your spices together in a bowl to make a rub for the chicken.
2. Rinse your chicken legs in cold water, then place into a bowl. Sprinkle the chicken with the spices and rub them into the meat thoroughly. Make sure you try to get it under the chicken skin, too.
3. Place your rubbed chicken into your slow cooker (no liquid is necessary to cook this dish)
4. Set the slow cooker on low heat and cook for 6 hours or until the chicken meat falls off the bone (slow cooker times and setting vary so adjust accordingly).
5. You can serve the chicken on the bone, or remove them since the meat falls off so easily.

This recipe made my kitchen smell amazing and was very moist and flavorful. I used the full teaspoon of cayenne pepper and didn’t find it to be very spicy, but feel free to use less if you are sensitive to spicy food. You could even substitute with other spices that are more traditional to the Caribbean style if that’s what you prefer. Play with it. Have fun! That’s what cooking should be about!

I served the chicken with some mashed cauliflower, and steamed snap peas. Everything was simple, quick and healthy, which is so important to me.

What kind of recipes do you tend to gravitate to? Do you like to try new things or do you tend to stick to what you know?

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{Healthy Comfort Food} Pot Roast & Mashed Cauliflower

Thanks to the polar vortex nonsense, it’s been super frigid across the country and what is better on a cold day, than watching movies, cuddling under warm blankets and eating some yummy comfort food?!

For this recipe, I substituted the usual decadent, mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower and I really enjoyed it!

Garlic Studded Pot Roast
Serves 6

pot roastIngredients:
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2/3 beef stock or red wine

Directions:
1. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make 10 small slits deep all over the pot roast. Insert the garlic cloves as deep into the slits as possible.
2. Season the roast on all sides with the salt and pepper.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat. Carefully add the meat and sear on all sides until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
4. Add the vegetables, carefully add the stock or wine and cover the pot.
5. Reduce the heat to low to medium-low and cook until the roast is very tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Turning 2 or 3 times during the cooking process. (Add a little more water, stock or wine as needed so that a little liquid always is on the bottom of the pan.)
6. Allow the meat to rest 10 minutes. Slice or pull the meat apart into serving pieces and serve with the vegetables over the mashed cauliflower (recipe below).

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
2-4 Tablespoons pastured butter ( I used coconut oil because that’s what I had – you won’t need as much)
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Cut the cauliflower into large pieces.
2. Place cauliflower in a pot of water. Make sure it is fully immersed.
3. Bring water to a boil. Let cauliflower cook for about 15 minutes. (It should be very easy to pierce it with a fork.)
4. Drain the water from pot. Leave cauliflower on low heat, and mash with a potato masher.
5. Add butter and seasonings.
6. Mix well. Serve hot.

I was a little unsure if Mike would like the mashed cauliflower, instead of traditional mashed potatoes, but he really enjoyed them and said he didn’t feel overstuffed like usual after eating dinner. That’s a big win to me…now if only I could get the kids to eat them…sigh!

Have you tried making your favorite comfort foods healthier? If so, what have you substituted?

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Baked Chicken Fajitas

Everyone has those nights when they need something quick and easy to make for dinner. You may not be into meal prepping yet (which is a life saver) or maybe you just don’t feel like eating what you prepped again, but you also don’t want to sabotage your healthy eating. This recipe is perfect for those nights!

Baked Chicken Fajitas
Serves 4

baked fajitasIngredients:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 tbsps olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp mexican oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno, sliced (you can remove the seeds if you prefer less heat. I used a small can of fire roasted green chilies because I didn’t have a jalapeno on hand)
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
2 medium peppers, cut into thin strips (use any color you have on hand)

Directions:
1. Place the chicken strips in a gallon sized zippered bag.
2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, and salt. Sprinkle over chicken; toss to coat.
3. Put in the refrigerator to marinate 30 min. to overnight.
4. When ready to bake, Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then coat a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray and place the marinated chicken strips in.
5. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, onion and peppers to the dish and stir to combine.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.

This recipe came in handy yesterday! I was busy studying for my midterm most of the day and didn’t think about dinner until late. Mike and I started working out together at night, so I was able to prep this, toss it in the oven and by the time we were done with our P90X3 workout, our post workout meal was ready and waiting! How perfect is that?!

If you are following a paleo or gluten-free lifestyle, serve these as lettuce wraps and top with a little guacamole, a squeeze of lime and hot sauce, if you desire. If you are non-paleo, but gluten-free, you can use white corn tortillas and if you are just eating clean, serve these with whole-grain tortillas and top as you wish. This is really a great recipe for entertaining too, since it is easy and healthy, but can fit different nutritional lifestyles with ease.

Do you have any healthy, easy, go-to recipes that you rely on when you’re short on time?

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Filed under Health & Fitness, Main Course, Recipes