Tag Archives: Dining

Guiltless Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is right around the corner! For many people, this is traditionally a family event, where more savory, less healthy foods are served. Turkey is usually the featured item in most Thanksgiving feasts (hence the term “Turkey Day” and why many of us look to run a “Turkey Trot” the morning of). Stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn, rolls, and various pies are commonly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. There is also the pre-meal watching of football with Hor d’oeurves, followed by the post-meal football watching, where people typically complain about being overstuffed and drift off into a tryptophan coma.

Don’t stuff yourself like a turkey this year! Opt for everything in moderation with these tips:

  • Water is your best friend! Water helps control your appetite by making you feel fuller faster. Drink plenty of it to stay fuller and keep your cravings under control.
  • Eat Slowly! It only takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full. Make sure you savor your food, and slow down. This teamed up with drinking lots of water will keep you from going overboard and over stuffing yourself. It will also give your mind a chance to catch up with your body and realize that you are full. Eating is not a race. The slower you eat the more you will enjoy your meal, because you will take the time to enjoy bite and the flavors it offers.
  • Eat Before the Feast! Don’t go to dinner starving. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast (high in protein and fiber) and a low calorie snack before heading out to your Thanksgiving destination or your guests arrive.  Eating a healthy breakfast and snack will help to ensure you won’t be starving when it’s time for your holiday gathering.
  • Opt for the Special Stuff! Don’t waste your calories on large portions of food you can eat every day. Focus on smaller portions of the favorites your family makes only once or twice a year. Keep in mind that some holiday foods are better choices than others, but don’t deprive yourself of higher calorie favorites that are special to your family. Just remember it’s all about moderation! Sometimes, just a small taste is enough to satisfy the craving.
  • Say No to Seconds! If you eat slowly and drink plenty of water with your meal, you shouldn’t feel the need to go for seconds. If you’re visiting and your host keeps pushing you to have seconds, politely say, “No.” and compliment the meal they served.
  • Avoid Finger Foods! Hor d’oeurves can be very high in calories and fat. If you forgot to have a snack before arriving at your destination, opt for crudité. This is also a great option for you bring with you. Your host/hostess will appreciate the offer when they invite you and you’ll ensure that there is a healthy snack for you to enjoy while watching football and waiting for the main course to be served.
  • Stop When You’re Full! It sounds obvious, but stopping when you’re full is probably one of the hardest things to do at the Thanksgiving table. It’s difficult to do when so many “special” foods are present and everyone else is helping themselves to seconds. It will be easier to stop if you slow down and enjoy each bite, drink lots of water and avoid wearing pants with an elastic waist!
  • Limit Alcohol! Alcohol impairs your thought process and makes it that much easier to justify a third helping mashed potatoes or another slice of pie with ice-cream. Let’s not forget that it can also be high in empty calories and removes your brain to mouth filter (which might not  be the best thing when surrounded by family!) Have a glass of wine, a wine spritzer or enjoy a light beer or two. Between alcoholic drinks, enjoy some sparkling water so you stay hydrated, limit alcohol calories, and stay sober.
  • Make Healthy Choices! Thankfully, many Thanksgiving staples fit into a healthy meal plan. Turkey is a great source of protein, and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A. Just take a minute and think before you eat. If you’re preparing the meal, cut back on salt and butter in the side dishes. Try to use whole-grain breads whenever possible and remember that herbs and spices add a lot of flavor without added fat and sodium.

As you head out to your Thanksgiving feast or open your door to host family, remember it’s okay to say “No”, just be polite when doing so. Some people show their love through food and will insist on you having seconds. Others may feel threatened by your healthy lifestyle and pile food onto your plate because it makes them feel better about themselves. Politely saying “no” in these situations shouldn’t produce hard feelings. If you’ll be visiting family, offer to bring a healthy side or the crudité to ensure you’ll stay on track. Some of the other guests might also appreciate this!

Above all, creating a calorie deficit by exercising to burn off extra calories before you head out and face your favorite foods is key. Sign up for a Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving, go for a brisk walk, head to the gym or do your favorite workout DVD. Treat that morning like you would any other and stick to your workout routine. After dinner, invite family to take a walk around the neighborhood, instead of heading to the couch or recliner and drifting off to sleep. It is a wonderful way for families to get some physical activity and quality time together. Have a lot of kids at your gathering? Bring a football, head out into the yard and throw the ball around, instead of just watching it on TV. Be creative and innovative! Have fun, stay active and look for the healthier options at your Thanksgiving meal. Your waistline will definitely thank you!

Don’t forget the #EarnThatTurkey Challenge that is going on now! Join us and stay active in the days leading up to Thanksgiving!

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Kale vs. Spinach: Which Is Healthier?

I’m a fan of both of these leafy greens and tend to interchange them in recipes and smoothies. I mostly lean towards spinach as my go to green, but I’ve always wondered which was actually better for me. I stumbled upon this infographic and thought I would share!

 

Kale vs Spinach

Kale vs Spinach 2

 

*Infographic courtesy of Prevention.com – Click on the image above to visit the original*

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Grilled Ratatouille

The warm weather of spring and summer bring about lots of time spent outdoors. We love to grill in the summer and we also visit farm stands and farmers markets more often. I tend to gravitate towards meals that showcase the great veggies I pick up at these stands or that my neighbors drop off.

I’ve typically always thought of ratatouille as a meal prepared in the oven (as well as a Pixar movie), but I love the spin that this recipe has put on a classic meal.

Grilled Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • This photo is from when I prepared it on the stove, but it's still super tasty!

    This photo is from when I prepared it on the stove, but it’s still super tasty!

    Salt

  • Pepper
  • Cajun seasoning, to taste
  • 3 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed with press or minced
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 large orange or yellow peppers, quartered
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions:

  • Prepare your grill for direct grilling on medium-high.
  • In small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, and garlic.
  • Cut onion crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices. Trim your zucchini and eggplant, then cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Brush half of the vinegar mixture on one side of onion, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with cajun seasoning.
  • Grill tomatoes 6 minutes, zucchini and eggplant for 10 minutes, and peppers & onion for 12 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender and charred, turning over once.
  • Transfer vegetables to a cutting board. Cool slightly, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. (I remove the skin from eggplant at this time)
  • Toss with vegetables with remaining vinegar mixture, parsley, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

You can serve this with pasta (you would toss the pasta along with everything in the last step. Or serve over rice.

I’ve made this on the stove when the weather wasn’t good for grilling and it came out just as good (just a little less char). I also love picking up the pre-marinaded chicken breasts or thighs from Wegman’s to cut up and toss in with this. My current favorite are the Cilantro Lime ones….so yummy!

 What is your favorite way to prepare fresh vegetables in the summer months?

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A Day In NYC for #FitBlogNYC (Part One)

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This past Thursday, the day I had been waiting for, finally arrived…. FITNESS magazine’s Meet & Tweet, also known as #FitBlogNYC!

I woke up bright and early to catch the bus and head into Port Authority. From there, it was a quick walk over to the venue and the meeting spot where some of us had agreed to meet. We grabbed some coffee, exchanged business cards and just chit chatted before heading over to the Mercedes Club, where the event was being held.

#FitBlogNYC 2013

Some of the amazing bloggers I got to meet before the event. To name a few @ExSoyCise, @SusanFishback, @TreadmillRunway, @weightsover, @MsHealthyWife, @BlondesRun, @DianaAntholis and @Frolic_Life_Syl who was kind enough to be my buddy for the afternoon. I know I forgot a few people here, but my brain is still in overload, my apologies.

Upon arriving, we headed upstairs to check-in. We received our ID badge, an awesome Camelbak water bottle and there were morning snacks/refreshments for us. After grabbing a muffin and some juice, we headed outside to the rooftop patio where the speakers would be presenting.

First up, were introductions by FITNESS magazines Editor-in-Chief, Betty Wong (@FITNESSBetty). She introduced us to the lovely Heather Muir (@PYTbeauty), who is the Beauty Director at FITNESS as well as Sarah Lucero (@stilaPROartist), who is a celebrity make-up artist and Executive Director of Global Artistry for Stila Cosmetics, as well as a Stage 3 Breast Cancer survivor.

Top: Betty Wong telling us about the day in store. Bottom: Heather Muir (L) & Sarah Lucero (R)

Top: Betty Wong telling us about the day in store. Bottom: Heather Muir (L) & Sarah Lucero (R)

During their seminar on “Insider Beauty Secrets to Get You Glowing”, they discussed ways to get pulled together in a flash, even when it’s 95 degrees outside. Their top tip? Less is more when it’s hot out!

  • Match the weight of your make-up to the weight of your clothing.
  • Use waterproof/water resistant beauty items.
  • Always carry blot papers with you as well as a refreshing mist.
  • Use sheer foundation – Don’t try to cover up every little imperfection!
  • PowerPout” is hot this season! Use a punchy orange to achieve the look.
  • Use vibrancy in your lip & eye color by using neon or pastel colors.

We also learned Sarah’s Top 3 Beauty Secrets:

  1. Make sure you get enough rest (8-9 hours of sleep per night)
  2. Use a good moisturizer or balm that is multitasking and color correcting.
  3. Wear the same color tone on your check and lips.

“Believe in the Beauty of the Future”

Our second seminar featured, FITNESS magazine’s Senior Editor, Lisa Haney (@FITNESS_Lisa) and Jennifer Ashton, M.D. (@DrJAshton), who  is an ABC News Senior Medical Contributor, ob-gyn, triathele and author of the book, “Your Body Beautiful: Clock Stopping Secrets to Staying Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 30s, 40s and Beyond” as well as “The Body Scoop for Girls” – which I plan on picking up for my daughter.

Lisa Haney & Dr. Jennifer Ashton, speaking about being "Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 20s, 30s and Beyond"

Lisa Haney & Dr. Jennifer Ashton, speaking about being “Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 20s, 30s and Beyond”

They hosted a seminar on “Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 20s, 30s and Beyond”. Dr. Ashton gave her down-to-earth advice on a holistic approach to health and why you need to be able to talk to your doctor as if they were BFF.

Some of the topics covered and take away points included:

  • Angelina Jolie’s recent mastectomy.
  • You need to treat the whole person, not just the symptom.
  • Your body needs to move, rest and be nourished.
  • Size and body weight does not matter. It’s about the type of fuel you put into your body.
  • Bad carbs in excess are not our friends.
  • Alcohol increases your risk of Breast Cancer
  • Follow a 5/2 diet. Eat healthy 5 days a week & enjoy the weekends. This will help to curb the unhealthy food cravings over time.
  • 2.5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your risk of Breast Cancer
  • Birth Control pills can reduce your risk of ovarian cancer, which is why Dr. Ashton prescribes them for her gay patients, despite not needing the birth control aspect of them.
  • Grapefruit juice interacts with many medications!
  • You can Google “Drug Drug Interactions” to check if you have any. Make sure you include all supplements you are taking, even OTC!

“Life Is An Olympic Event and We Have To Train For It”

Our third seminar was one I was looking forward to! It featured FITNESS magazine’s Digital Director, Christie Griffin (@ChristieGriffin) – who is one of the sweetest people ever! – Dana Weiss, Possessionista (@Possessionista), Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen (@SmittenKitchen), Jill Hanner who is a Ford Fiesta Agent and YouTube guru (@JillHanner) and last but not least, Erin Whitehead from Fit Bottomed Girls (@FitBottomedGirl) discussing their unique success stories and how they turned their passions into profit, during “My Blog Is My Business”

From Left to Right: Christie Griffin, Dana Weiss, Deb Perelman, Jill Hanner and Erin Whitehead

L to R: Christie Griffin, Dana Weiss, Deb Perelman, Jill Hanner and Erin Whitehead

Some of the biggest take away points from this seminar where:

  • Don’t blog for money. Blog, then make money. – Dana
  • Make what you want to talk about the center, then make money. – Deb
  • Have a strong message and know who you are! – Erin

Don’t Waste Your Time:

  • Worrying about what other bloggers are doing.
  • Comparing yourself to other bloggers.
  • Obsessing over numbers or followers.
  • Give too much weight to negative comments you may receive.
  • Ignore search engine optimization offers.
  • NEVER pay to rank in a search engine.

Tools They Love:

  • Skimlinks: It’s Dana’s “Magical affiliate fairy” and allows her to focus on content, instead of links.
  • Make sure you auto-redirect if you change your RSS feed! – Deb
  • Google is Erin’s best friend. She uses Google Docs, Analytics and more.
  • Jill is also a fan of Google but mainly uses Instagram and Twitter as her tools.

How To Pitch Yourself to Companies:

  • Email links of your work with other companies when reaching out.
  • Make sure you be yourself!
  • If you are offered a book deal, make sure you write a proposal.
  • Be passionate with your blog. It’ll bring new followers and eventually bring money.

Other Tips They Offered:

  • For Pictures – Use a DSLR camera with a 50mm lens. It allows for a good photo, even when less lighting is available.
  • On YouTube – Lighting and Sound are key! Also just like with your blog, BE YOURSELF!
  • BlogAds is a site that sells ads for you and can formulate a starting price based on readership.
  • Should I blog for free? – You bring value to these companies. Make sure you know your value, however, if you would write about them anyway, don’t push for more money.

“Don’t Blog For Money. Blog, Then Make Money.”

Our fourth seminar featured  FITNESS magazine’s Deputy Editor, Mary Christ Anderson (@FITNESS_Mary) and Celebrity Trainer Brett Hoebel (@bretthoebel), Founder of Brett Hoebel Fitness, featured trainer on The Biggest Loser season 11 and creator of RevAbs.

Mary Christ Anderson and Brett Hoebel discussing the Extreme Fitness Trend.

Mary Christ Anderson and Brett Hoebel discussing the Extreme Fitness Trend.

The topic of discussion here was “The Extreme Fitness Trend: Should You Try It?” They discussed how going to extremes is the new thing in fitness today…but does it work? We learned how and why 20-minute workouts can get the job done better than long, all-out sessions.

First off they discussed CrossFit:

  • CrossFit took fitness and turned it into a sport.
  • CrossFit is competitive but has a strong community base.
  • CrossFit is AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) or Time Based.
  • Shorter means it must be tougher!

Then they moved into the Tough Mudder trend and how many people where doing them for social media bragging rights. Brett’s advice was to “Know what you’re getting into when doing Tough Mudders”.

Programs like P90X and Insanity were also discussed, since they are also extreme in nature. The subject of lack of time being the biggest excuse when it comes to not working out was discussed, too. Brett said that 20 minutes is the magic bullet for many busy moms and people who are short on time. It allows you do a few rounds of moves with maximum benefit, but you HAVE to get breathless while doing it!

When asked about his thoughts on TRX, Brett responded “I thinks it’s amazing!”

“If Want Results In A Short Amount Of Time,
You Have To Get Breathless!”

Our fifth and final seminar was all about food, and you guys know how much I love food and cooking! It was hosted by FITNESS magazine’s Executive Editor, Pam O’Brien (@FITNESSPam), along with Rocco DiSpirito (@roccodispirito), who if you don’t already know from Food Network, is one of FITNESS’s favorite celebrity chefs, author of “Now Eat This! Italian” and star of the AOL web series “Now Eat This! Italy“.

Pam O'Brien and Rocco DiSpirito discussing how to Eat What You Love - And Still Lose Weight!

Pam O’Brien and Rocco DiSpirito discussing how to Eat What You Love – and Lose Weight!

In this seminar, they discussed how to “Eat What You Love – and Lose Weight“, and Rocco revealed secret ingredients for speedy, healthy meals, as well as cooking tricks that slash the fat, but keep the flavor!

Some of the advice given to us during this segment were:

  • Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. (Check out this link, from his tweet above in the photo, for 10 Healthy Foods Under $1)
  • Always say no bread at restaurants.
  • When eating out, split meals to go, when ordering, this way you won’t be tempted to over-eat.
  • Make sure you are eating 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain foods.
  • Juicing is good, but blending is better. Blending keeps all of the fiber from fruits and vegetables

Items to keep on hand in the kitchen:

  • Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Non-fat cottage cheese
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – Tip: Use a micro plane to grate instead of a box grater! A little goes a long way.
  • Low calorie, Stock in a box
  • Herbs and Spices. These are calorie free/guilt free and big on flavor.
  • Vinegars
  • Dijon Mustard – Only contains 7 calories per tablespoon!

Two of Rocco’s favorite ways to prepare Spaghetti Squash are with garlic and oil – OR – with butter and parmigiano reggiano.

As you can see, the morning was full of amazing and informative speakers. I feel so lucky to have been invited to this event and to have listened, met and spoken with so many inspirational and wonderful people.

I will be sharing information on the wonderful and generous sponsors from #FitBlogNYC in my next post ….so keep an eye out for it!

CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO!

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{Bucket List Experience} Peter Luger Steakhouse

Last weekend, we drove into Brooklyn to celebrate my brother-in-laws 50th birthday, at the all mighty Peter Luger Steakhouse in Williamsburg. He is a steak lover and has always wanted to dine there, so my sister-in-law arranged a surprised dinner in his honor. There might have been a toddler style tempter tantrum thrown by him that resulted in this idea, which was one of the entertaining stories told over dinner, but I digress.

Happy 50th Birthday Larry!

Happy 50th Birthday Larry!

If you haven’t heard of Peter Luger’s, you most likely live under a rock, as there are few New York City restaurants as well-known as this steakhouse. The name itself is synonymous with steak, and they’ve been doing steak for over 125 years! Peter Luger has a few other proteins on their menu but don’t try to order them unless you want your waiter to scuff at you. They do steak, and by steak I mean porterhouse. They offer a “single steak for one” but as my husband and I found out when we attempted to order it (by our oh-so-rude waiter), “It’s not special…you need to order the steak for two”…..oh…um….okay. Then again, the waiter also seemed annoyed that we wanted menus. I mean, how often do you go to a restaurant where you are asked if you want a menu? Isn’t having a menu placed in front of you when being seated part of all dining experiences? Clearly, we were not ready for Peter Luger’s.

As you  can tell, our waiter was a pleasant man, which the restaurant is known for. (I hope your sarcasm font is working right now.) He brought all new meaning to the word rude, but it gave us something to laugh about as we sat around the table enjoying the yummy bread that was brought out by a different waiter, who had a great personality, by the way!  Speaking of bread, it was some damn good bread. The basket contained three different kinds, onion, oat and one with salt and caraway seeds on it, but don’t expect it to be served warm. It’s a good thing I workout, cause spreading cold butter on cold bread is not an easy task!

Peter Luger is also known for their bacon by the slice, so of course we all ordered some as an appetizer. It was truly delicious, especially when teamed up with their famous Peter Luger steak-sauce (which my husband said tasted like it had a cocktail sauce base). The only drawback to this part of the meal was once again our waiter, he dripped hot bacon grease all over my other brother-in-law’s girlfriend, with no apology at all. Oh…and many will say you have to order the tomato and onion as an appetizer, heck, your waiter will most likely guilt you into it as he did to us, but skip it. It’s not worth the $20 they charge for it and only one person at our table even touch it after it was served.

Back to the porterhouse, which they do their way. Your waiter will ask you how you would like that cooked when you order, but it doesn’t matter. You will get your steak served medium or rare and you’ll shut your mouth and like it. Thankfully, this was not a problem for anyone at our table. My father-in-law actually complained to us because he didn’t think it was rare enough, and of course it wasn’t because it’s served on a plate so hot you can keep cooking it right there at the table. You want it well done, leave it on the edge of plate to continue cooking!

The steak is served family style and comes to the table pre-cut. Your waiter will serve each person a few pieces and warn you not to touch the piping hot plate. He will then spoon the buttery/oily sauce that the steak arrives in over your slices, and if you are lucky, he will be kind and make sure that he is not dripping butter sauce into your beverage (unlike our wonderful waiter). The sides are also served family style at Luger’s. My husband and I ordered the German style potatoes, which are just hash browns. They were good, but would have been better if they weren’t burnt. The steak was very good, but lacked seasoning to me. I’m not a steak expert by any means, but I didn’t taste anything special about this steak…I guess I don’t understand the hype surrounding it.

Peter Luger Steakouse

Top Left: Bacon by the slice, Top Right: Bread Basket, Bottom Left: Steak served family style, Bottom Right: My plate

Despite being stuffed after our meal, we ended up ordering some Chocolate Mousse Cake and New York Style Cheesecake for dessert. I REALLY wanted to order the Holy Cow Sundae, which many around us were having, but there was no way the button on my jeans could handle that after all of the food I already ingested. Dessert is also served family style and comes with Peter Luger’s famous “Schlag”, which is whipped cream. Upon arrival of your dessert, the waiters toss gold, chocolate coins onto the table as a finishing touch. Too bad they can’t be applied towards the bill.

Dessert at Peter Luger

Left: Dessert Menu, Top Right: Dessert served family style, Middle Right: Close-up of gold coins, Bottom Right: Chocolate Mousse Cake with “Schlag”

While this blog may seem like we had a horrible time, we didn’t.  Peter Luger Steakhouse is one of those bucket list experiences. It’s been one of Zagat’s top restaurants in NYC for over 27 years and people rave about it all the time. Being as we were born and raised in Brooklyn, NY – you kinda feel like you have to eat there at least once, and now we can say we have.

If you plan on going to Peter Luger Steakhouse just be prepared for a nostalgic, somewhat “German beer hall” atmosphere, wobbly tables, uncomfortable chairs, surly waiters, high prices and don’t forget to bring cash, because they don’t accept credit cards. Make sure you order the bacon, skip the tomato & onion, don’t order anything but the “steak for two” (or more) and save a little room for dessert.

Ultimately, it was a nice afternoon filled with beautiful skylines during the drive, family and lots of laughter.

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{Recipe} Chicken “Bruschetta”

It’s been a while since I’ve tried a new recipe, so I hit the web in search of inspiration for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts I bought on-sale the other day.

Not seeing a particular recipe I liked, I decided to take a little of this and a little of that, from the ones that did catch my eye. The result was pretty tasty so I decided to share it.

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Chicken “Bruschetta” served over whole-wheat pasta

Chicken “Bruschetta”

Ingredients:

8 ounce bag of spinach
3 Tb chicken stock
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped garlic (use as much or as little as you like)
onion powder
Italian seasoning
2 large tomatos, coursely chopped
1 small onion. chopped
1/4 cup Roasted Peppers (I used frozen ones from Trader Joes)
1/3 C fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the spinach in the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking pan.  Drizzle with the chicken stock, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange the chicken on top of the spinach and season well with the salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and Italian seasoning.  Add the chopped tomato and roasted peppers, then top with the parmesan cheese

2.  Loosely tent the pan with a piece of aluminum foil.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Serve immediately.

I made some thin, whole-wheat spaghetti to serve with this and it was very yummy. I liked the ease of this dish and how you can easily change the ingredients to fit your taste-buds.

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Do you have a go-to website to find dinner inspiration?

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Pancakes! Pancakes! Pancakes!

Today is National Pancake Day!

Normally I would love to toss the kiddies into my truck and head over to iHop for some pancake delishiousness, but that’s just not happening. Instead, we have decided to make some for dinner tonight, right here in the comfort of our home.

The boy has requested traditional pancakes, the girl will most likely want chocolate chip and I’m going to have a banana protein version.

Of course I had to hop on Pinterest to see what they had for inspiration and as usual, they didn’t let me down. I found a paleo version of the pancakes while just browsing thru what the people I follow pinned. (Thanks Jackie!)

So here is the I found and what I’ll be using in the kitchen tonight:

choc chip pan

This stack of fluffy goodness is made from 4 simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand!
Photo and recipe from RecipeBoy.com – Click on the photo to view both!

I’ll be using this recipe to create all three variations I mentioned above (unless the picky boy sees me, then he’ll be having Bisquick pancakes….don’t judge!) I think I’ll add some cinnamon and a scoop of vanilla protein powder to my banana pancakes….think a healthy version of banana bread!

Do you have a healthier version of pancakes that you love? Care to share your recipe? (wink wink)

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What’s Your Super Bowl Game Plan?

game playIt’s quickly approaching! Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner and that means Super Bowl parties and snack food galore!

You know what I’m talking about…. Nachos, Wings, Dips, Pizza, Chili, Chips, Desserts….you name it! All lined up on a table, waiting for you to stuff your face with them while you scream, laugh, curse and catch up with family and friends.

If you are one of the many people who made getting in shape your New Years resolution, it means you’ve been putting in some serious gym time and watching what you eat. Why toss that all out of the window for one party? Granted, some of you are reading this and thinking, “I’m entitled to a cheat day!” or “One evening of eating these foods won’t kill me.” and you’re right…but why waste all of those calories or tempt yourself to travel back down the road of poor eating habits when you don’t have to?

What you need a is a healthy game plan!

Here are two links to some recipes that look great and will save you calories, while giving you the flavors and foods you associate with Super Bowl parties:

Better Homes and Garden: Healthy Game Day Snacks

Eating Well: Healthy Super Bowl Recipes and Menus

For the most part, it comes down to using lower fat/calorie dairy products or substituting some Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, baking instead of frying and using as many fresh ingredients as you can. You will always have more control over what you put into your body if you are the person preparing it because you are in charge of the ingredients. I know it’s easier to pick up the phone and order a few pizzas, but I highly recommend preparing some items from scratch, on your own. (If you do order, at least opt for a thin crust with veggies….please!)

If you are hosting the party, or just staying home to watch, you’ll have a little more say on what gets served for the game watching festivities. However, there is nothing wrong with bringing something to party if you are invited somewhere. Your host will appreciate it and you’ll know there is at least one healthier option for you.

Also, don’t forget that beer can eat up a lot of your calorie allotment for the day, plus it also contains a lot of sodium. If you choose to have a few beers during the game, opt for light varieties and don’t forget to drink water between drinks!

Another tip? Don’t skip your pre-game workout! Hit the gym or go for a run before you head out for the big game. Doing so will not only burn calories, but it’ll start your day off with a healthy mind set and you’ll be less temped to sabotage yourself once you arrive at the party!

If you try any of the recipes from the sites above, please let me know. Also, if you have lighter versions of football snack food favorites, please feel free to share a link to the recipe on your blog or post the recipe below!

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Healthy Baking Substitutes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and that means many of us will begin baking for family events, holiday dinners, office parties, cookie exchanges and quite honestly, just because it makes us feel festive.

That sweet tooth and favorite cookie recipe doesn’t have to be ignore this season. All you need to do is change your perspective on food and make a few improvements on those sugary, overly processed ingredients our recipes normally call for.

Here’s a handy list I found on Pinterest:

It’s amazing how much sugar and how many calories you can save with these simple substitutes. What’s even more amazing is that you can’t even tell you changed anything with most of them.

Do you have any healthy holiday baking tips?

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Filed under Recipes, Snacks & Treats

Chicken Scarpiello with Fusilli

Did you know that this month is National Pasta Month? I certainly didn’t and I almost felt ashamed because I am Italian and I do LOVE me some pasta! I can thank the lovely @ComplicatedMama, @PastaFits and the #PastaFits hashtag over on Twitter, for pointing this out to me. In celebration and to get in the spirit of the #PastaFits Twitter party, I whipped up one of my favorite recipes for dinner:

Chicken Scarpiello with Fusilli

Chicken Scarpiello with Fusilli

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Jar of Roasted Red Peppers
  • 1 Chicken cut into parts (I actually cheat and use chicken tenders cut into chunks)
  • 1 Pound of Sweet Sausage, cut into pieces
  • 3 cups of white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of flour
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 cup of homemade tomato sauce or good quality store bought sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley or (1 tablespoon of dried)
  • Fusilli Pasta (or similiar shaped pasta)
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the peppers into 1/4 inch strips and set aside.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
  3. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. (Reduce the heat as needed to keep the skillet from burning). Toss in the mushrooms and cook along with the sausage, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the peppers and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, broth and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any juices. Cover and simmer, gently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes (a little less if using the chicken tenders method like I tend to).
  6. While everything simmers, prepare the pasta according to the package directions for Al Dente. Strain and toss with the chicken, sausage and sauce.
  7. Garnish with parsley and parmagiano cheese.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it comes together really quick and easy. I love that this dish makes a lot of left overs for my family and I love most pasta dishes even better the next day.

Do you have a favorite pasta dish? Worried about enjoying pasta while trying to reach your fitness goals? Don’t be! It’s all about portion control and making some simple substitutions to lighten up some of the heavier, more calorie dense recipes out there.

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Filed under Main Course, Recipes