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Adventures in Keto

In my last post I mentioned that I started doing Keto and if you’re like me, you’ve heard the term on social media and know it has to do with eating large amounts of fat…but you don’t really know what it’s all about.

I’ve been friends with people who follow a ketogenic diet on social media for quiet some time and I thought they were insane because all they ever posted were chicken wings, crazy amounts of cheese, bacon, steak and butter. Now there is nothing wrong with any of those items…. I’m actually a huge fan of all of them! I just couldn’t wrap my head around how eating those could possibly help you lose weight and be healthier. Then I met a dude who was super passionate about Keto and how it helped him and he explained it all to me. I mean he totally explained it all… like science nerd explanation complete with YouTube videos and books! After falling down the YouTube rabbit hole and taking a shit ton of notes I decided I couldn’t judge these people on Instagram without trying this and the science behind it all actually made a ton of sense to me.

I am not about to attempt to explain it myself. While I’ve read tons and watched a bunch of video AND took notes, I’m too new to actually explain it. So if you want to learn more about ketosis, read this: What is the Keto Diet 

Prefer videos? Check out Thomas DeLauer on YouTube he is easy to understand (and easy on the eyes) and really gets into the science behind the ketogenic diet.

Now as a sugar junkie, carb loving woman, my inner fat girl threw a hissy fit when I decided to give this a try. No pizza, no bread, no sugar….how was I going to survive?! No really…. I was pretty sure I was going to die. (I can be quite dramatic at times.)

But I didn’t. As I type this I am just about a week into it, intermittent fasting and all, and I gotta tell you, I feel awesome! I am never bloated, I don’t get hungry during my fasting (except for that one I baked a cookie cake before I even had my first cup of coffee, lol) and eating a ton of healthy fat is a lot easier than I thought it would be. Yes, I did have some “keto flu” symptoms. I had a headache one day and brain fog another. I also had some bad charlie horses in the middle of night because I need more electrolytes and I had this feeling that I can only really describe as “energy buzzing”  for a short time on days 3 and 4, but all in all it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Granted, having a Keto Guru in my corner helped A LOT in figuring it all out and answering all of my dumb questions when I was too lazy to Google them. (Thanks dude!)

As you know I’m also a total Pinterest junkie so of course I did my “keto homework” and found lots of “fake keto” recipes. What’s fake keto you ask? Well, it’s recipes that are keto friendly but simulate the delicious carb heavy foods that you love! Recipes like the ones below have been my saving grace in all of this because if I can simulate a carb or sweet treat, I’m a happy camper. These Fathead bagels and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fat Bombs have been staples in my diet this week! They are sooooooo good!

Want the recipe? Check out Wholesome Yum’s blog here!

Want the recipe? Check out PaleoMomNoms blog here!

So  stay tuned for more Keto updates from me as well as life saving recipes that I try along the way. If you’ve done Keto before or currently follow a Keto Lifestyle, I’d love to hear your best tips and tricks to making it through the first few weeks!

 

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Avocado Bacon Stuffed Turkey Burgers

The temps are slowly rising, the yard is getting cleaned up and we picked up a new propane tank, so that means grill season is coming!

My love for Pinterest is still strong so I’ve been collecting recipes to try and I’m happy to report that this one was a winner! I looked at quit a few of the avocado turkey burger recipes on there and decided to create my own by taking a little from each and the results were moist and delish!

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I mixed everything except the avocado together first to ensure that the garlic and onion was distributed evenly, without working the avocado too much.

Be sure the spray your grill with some nonstick spray or wipe down the grill grates with some oil so there is no risk of sticking.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large ripe avocado – cut into chunks or gently mashed
  • cooked, chopped bacon
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Add all your ingredients  to a large bowl and gently mix together. If patties seem really moist and won’t form together well for you, add ⅓ cup bread crumbs but they will no longer be Whole30 compliant.
  2. Shape into patties and grill, making sure to cook the turkey meat completely.

These burgers were super moist and full of flavor! They are also paleo friendly and Whole 30 friendly (if you use Whole 30 approved bacon).

We served these up with some sweet potato fries and I served mine over some baby spinach and topped it sriracha ketchup.

For those of you who follow the 21 Day Fix, these could be counted as 1 Red and 1 Blue container. (Counts are for 1 burger only without a bun)

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Hot Pepper Jelly Pork Roast

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. Life tossed our family a bunch of curve balls in December and the dust is finally settling, so I thought I would get back to posting here. My goal is to share more recipes here, especially recipes that fit into the 21 Day Fix meal plan. The program has become so popular and the nutrition portion is so important that it’s pretty much taken over Pinterest. These posts may get lost in the 1,000 of other you can find or they may help someone. I don’t know, but I certainly hope that they help!

To kick things off, I want to share a Hot Pepper Jelly Pork Roast recipe that I recently tried. If you have never heard of pepper jelly or tried it, it’s really good stuff. I personally had never tried it before this recipe, but a friend of mine owns her own pepper jelly company, Jennifer’s Kitchen, and was nice enough to hook me up with a jar of her new low sugar line.

Doing the 21 Day Fix? I used my red container to measure out my portion and topped it with a spoonful of the sauce and some of the onions, counting it as a RED and 2 teaspoons.

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This pepper jelly packs a nice punch of sweet heat, which is the perfect pairing for pork or chicken. I happened to pick up some pork at the grocery store the other day, so that’s what I decided to use for my first pepper jelly experience.

Italian Style Pork Chops

Ingredients
4 Boneless Pork Chops
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 Tbsps pepper jelly (start with less if you don’t like a lot of heat)
1 tsp of basil
sea salt
sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Heat oil in pan for a minute on high.
2. Add pork chops and sear on both sides. Remove pork from pan.
4. Lower heat to medium; add onions – cook until translucent.
5. Add garlic, pepper jelly, tomatoes and basil and cook for 2 mins.
6. Return pork to pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Spoon tomato mixture over each piece of pork and serve.

Fresh basil would be so good in this, but I didn’t have any on hand.

I served this with Parmesan Spinach Orzo, but if you want to keep things low carb, serve with zoodles.

We really enjoyed this recipe a lot. This particular jelly was hot, so if you use a hot pepper jelly and aren’t a huge fan of spice, you may want to cut back on how much you add.

If you are a fan of pepper jelly, I would LOVE to hear how you like to enjoy it. I’m hoping to try using it for chicken wings next.

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Oven Fried Chicken {Healthy Comfort Food}

Oven Fried Chicken

Forget greasy fried chicken! This oven fried chicken recipe has all of the juiciness and crunch you’d expect from fried chicken, without the added fat and calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray
  • 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup cornflakes, crushed finely
  • 1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, four 4-oz pieces*

* I’m a huge fan of dark meat, so I use boneless skinless chicken thighs. 2 thighs per serving.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, Cajun seasoning, pepper and cayenne pepper together in a medium size bowl. Place buttermilk and corn flake crumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls.
  3. Roll chicken in flour mixture and evenly coat each side. Next dip chicken into buttermilk and then corn flake crumbs.
  4. Place coated chicken on your prepared baking sheet. Spray chicken with a light coating of the cooking spray.
  5. Bake until chicken is tender and no longer pink, about 25 to 30 minutes (there is no need to flip the chicken during baking).
    Makes 4 servings.

For those of you using the 21 Day Fix this is roughly 1 yellow and 1 red.

Once you have your first round of the program under your belt, try not to stress out over your containers. Life should be about balance and making healthier choices to keep yourself headed toward your goals and this recipe does that…even if you don’t have exact container counts.

Anytime you skip the KFC drive-thru, search for a healthier recipe and go to the store to buy the ingredients to make it, you’re on the right track!

What would be your side dish of choice with this chicken? We opted for some zoodles quickly sauteed with garlic.

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Shepherd’s Pie {Healthy Comfort Food}

Healthy Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie and comfort food go hand in hand to me. Mashed potatoes, beef, veggies and a creamy sauce….yuuuuum!!

In this version, I have lightened things up a lot. There is no butter, milk, cream or sour cream to be found, but there is still a lot of comforting flavor!

Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

Potato Topping:

  • 2 lbs Yukon gold or Russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsps Greek yogurt
  • salt & pepper to taste

Meat Filling:

  • 1.5 lbs 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas & carrots
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes in a medium pot of salted water until cooked and soft. Drain and mash with chicken broth, Greek yogurt, salt and pepper, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. In a large saute pan brown meat over medium high heat, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté on medium heat about 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the flour, frozen vegetables, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Simmer on medium for about 8-10 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  5. Spread the meat filling on the bottom of 9×13 casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, then place under the broiler 1 to 2 minutes until the potatoes turn golden. Remove from oven and let it cool 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings.

21 Day Fix and Fix Extreme Containers: 1.5 Yellow, 1 Red, 1 Green

For those of you following the 21 Day Fix, you can cut back on your yellow container and tack on an extra green by cutting the amount of potatoes and adding mashed cauliflower. The two mix together wonderfully and you keep the great potato flavor without going over on a yellow container.

Want to cut all of the potato? Top with just mashed cauliflower. Not sure how to make mashed cauliflower? Just steam your cauliflower, toss into a food processor with the Greek yogurt and broth and pulse it all together until creamy. (Reserve a little cooking water or add some more broth if it is too thick.)

You can also substitute mashed sweet potato for your topping!

This is a really a forgiving dish and a great way to use up veggies that you may in the fridge.

I hope you are enjoying this Healthy Comfort Food segment. Don’t forget to share YOUR favorite comfort food with me below, so I can try and share a healthy alternative to it.

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Portuguese Kale Soup {Healthy Comfort Food}

Portuguese-Kale-Soup

Fall is the official beginning of comfort food season. The temperatures drop, we dig out the sweaters and there is something about casseroles, soups and baked pastas that just warms our soul as we kick off fall.

This time of year also tends to be the start of weight gain season for many. The sweaters hide the bulge, the leggings have give and stretch along with us as we indulge in these comfort foods and baking season, which isn’t far behind.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring healthy comfort foods that will help you to combat the cold weather weight gain. These hearty meals will satisfy your cravings while keep your waist line in check. PLUS if you’re doing the 21 Day Fix, they will also be plan approved!

There are so many reasons to love this Portuguese-inspired kale and sausage soup. As with many soups, this recipe tastes even better on the second day. For that reason, this soup is great for meal prep. It makes enough for a whole week of lunches or dinners, and freezes well.

Portuguese Kale Soup

Total Time: 48 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 38 min.
Yield: 6 servings, about 1¼ cups each

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. turkey kielbasa sausage, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 medium leeks, chopped, just white and light-green parts
1 bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, torn (about 4 cups)
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, no added salt
6 cups low-sodium organic chicken (or vegetable) broth
Ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

Preparation:
1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add kielbasa; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned.
3. Add garlic, leeks, and kale; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft.
4. Add kidney beans, tomatoes, broth, and pepper (if desired). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Nutrition-PortugeseKaleSoup

Doesn’t that look and sound delicious?!

Personally, I think the best part about this recipe is that it is meal prep friendly. If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I am big on meal planning and meal prep, especially when doing the 21 Day Fix. It truly is the key to staying on plan and avoiding temptation during the week, when things can get hectic.

If you’re new to the 21 Day Fix, be sure to check out my 21 Day Fix Planning tools.

Been thinking about trying 21 Day Fix but have questions? Feel free to contact me with them! I’d be more than happy to help you figure out if it would be a good fix for you….plus it’s on special this month and I have a new accountability group beginning on October 26th!

What’s your favorite comfort food once the temps start cooling down?

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Football Snacks to Keep You on Track

Football

Are you ready for some football?!

I know I am!

This month I was going to run a 7 day group focused on football snacks to keep you on track, but I didn’t have any takers for it (insert sad Nikki face here). As a result, I decided to turn my idea into a blog post that might help some football fans who I have not personally connected with on Facebook yet.

(Hint Hint…you can like my Facebook page OR leave a comment below so we can connect!)

Fall equals football season, there is no denying that. Some of us can’t wait for Saturdays, so we can cheer on our favorite college teams, some are die hard NFL fans, some are into both and let’s face it…there are people who don’t care about who’s playing or who wins, they’re just in it for the snacks and the beer. I don’t know many of them, but I hear they do exist.

Personally I have always been into the NFL more (Go Broncos!) but over the last few years, I’ve been watching more Big 10 games and trying to keep all of the college rules and teams straight. I married into a family who takes football very seriously and likes to trash talk, which is really a lot of fun. Getting together with others on a Sunday to talk smack and drink a few beers is a great way to catch up and socialize, but the food that is typically served at these gathering can really screw up your week if you are trying to be healthier.

Below are some links to recipes that I love to make, as well as some that I plan on trying the football season. The goal is to help myself stay on track, while not feeling like an outcast who only eats steamed chicken and broccoli. I hope you give them a try and if YOU have any favorites that I did not list, I would LOVE to hear about them in the comments section below!

Football Appetizers

Healthy Football Appetizers:

Football Main Dish

Healthy Football Main Dishes:

Chili, Pizza and Taco’s just come to mind when I hear football. For you, it might be burgers or sausage subs. When you select your main dishes for game day, just keep a few things in mind:

  1. Keep it lean. (Sub turkey for beef or go 90% or leaner with ground beef. Turkey sausage is also super yummy!)
  2. Keep it hand held or easy to eat. (Sliders are a perfect way to enjoy burgers on game day!)
  3. Keep it simple. (You’ll want to watch the game, not be chained to the kitchen!)

As you can see, I kept things simple and flavorful. Good fun doesn’t have to be fried, full of fat or time consuming to make. These recipes are just the tip of iceberg and I encourage everyone to search Pinterest for more ideas, share some your favorite healthy game day snacks or even share an unhealthy favorite that you might need help cleaning up!

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box by using cauliflower pizza crusts, offering Energy Bites or Cookie Dough Dip as a sweet treat instead of cookies or using mini peppers to make some Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers!

My final tip is something that you already know…… LIMIT EMPTY CALORIES FROM BEER AND ALCOHOL! I know having a beer while watching football makes the experience feel complete, and it’s okay to have one or two. It’s when you begin drinking to excess that you run into problems. As with everything in life, moderation is key!

Have fun with your food this football season and best of luck to your team!

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FIXATE Cookbook Revisions

Long time no post…I know, I know. Bad blogger!

The summer is a crazy time of year, as everyone knows. The kids are home, you sleep in (if you’re lucky), you move at a slower pace and there really isn’t much structure or a schedule to stick to. As a result, I didn’t have much time to write and tried to stayed focused on my nutrition and activity as best I could (I’ll do an post on what I’ve been up to shortly…I promise!)

Today, I wanted to share some revisions to the 21 Day Fix companion cookbook, FIXATE.

Myself, as well as all of my clients were filled with joyed when the announcement for this book was made. I ordered a copy as soon as it was available and I snagged a few copies while I was in Nashville for the annual Beachbody Coach Summit, to pass along to future clients. During the flight home I cracked it open and begin making a list of everything I was going to make when I got home and that’s when I realize something wasn’t right.

If you have been doing 21 Day Fix for awhile and are comfortable with the container system, you can tell by looking at a recipe roughly what the container counts should be and certain recipes just weren’t adding up. Thankfully, Autumn Calabrese (creator of 21 Day Fix) addressed the issue on message boards and they began answer questions regarding the container counts for the recipes in the book. Hence this post featuring FIXATE Cookbook revisions!

Below, is a .PDF revision for the book, so if you own it, be sure to save this, print it out or use it to manually change the container counts/colors in your FIXATE book.

Fixate Revisions

FIXATE Revisions

Another great resource that Autumn supplied to us, was this video which explains WHY certain foods become counted as a purple or orange container, even though the food items is actually on the green or blue container list.


I hope these revisions and video help you on your 21 Day Fix journey! If you have any other questions about the cookbook and or the 21 Day Fix program, please feel free to ask them below! I have monthly support groups each month and would love to have you join my next one.

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{21 Day Fix} Beach Friendly Snacks

Pool Snacks
Let’s talk beach & pool food!

You’re working out hard, doing great with your meals and then your friends or family want to hit the pool or the beach to cool off and enjoy the summer weather. You begin to freak out because this is out of your norm and you don’t want to ruin your progress with the 21 Day Fix or your fitness routine.

Don’t worry! Here are some healthy options to pack and take with you for a little fun in the sun.

21 Day Fix Beach Friendly Snacks:

  • Fruit & veggies teamed up with some hummus, PB, guacamole or yogurt dip are all quick, simple & nutritious option to prepare the night before.
  • Clean out old PB jars or use a mason jar to pack celery, apples it baby carrots with some PB or hummus. (This will also help to reduce getting sand in your food at the beach)
  • Plastic soda cups with lids make awesome salad containers. Just layer your ingredients (put your dressing on the bottom) and stick a fork in the top, for easy grab and go lunch!
  • Wraps are another great option. One of my favorites is nitrate-free turkey or ham with hummus, lettuce, tomato and a little broccoli slaw for crunch. Want something lower carb? Ditch the tortilla and use romaine lettuce as a wrap instead.

All you need is a cooler with some ice-packs, a little prep time the night before or the morning before you leave and you’ll be on track to avoid buying a hot dog, pretzel of other junk options that you typically find at either location.

Do you have a favorite pool or beach snack? If so, please share below!

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FIXATE on 21 Day Fix

fixate

Yesterday, the creator of the popular 21 Day Fix and 21 Day fix Extreme, announced her new FIXATE cookbook, which will be released this summer. It is going to feature 101 new Fix Approved recipes, complete with container counts.

I can’t tell you how stoked I am about this! If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know how much I have embraced this program and how much I love trying out new recipes!

The demand for 21 Day Fix approved recipes is insane. There are tons of recipes all over Pinterest and chances are, that’s how you found my blog. The program can be a little overwhelming and let’s face it, the first Fix didn’t really offer much in the recipe inspiration department, which can leave people who are not used to cooking feeling very overwhelmed.

Thankfully help from the creator is on the way!

Fixate will teach you how to make healthy, delicious meals that fit into your busy lifestyle. And every recipe includes container equivalents to use with 21 Day Fix, as well as nutritional information you can use with any Beachbody fitness program.

So what inspired Autumn to assemble this culinary masterpiece? Check out this Beachbody interview with Autumn to find out…

PERSONAL PASSION

Autumn reached into her family history for inspiration. “My family was in the restaurant business, so I basically grew up in the kitchen,” she explains. “I was able to take my family’s recipes and make them healthier.”

“We took our time, tested the recipes and I love every single one of them,” she says with pride. “It’s not fancy cooking; there’s a variety of everyday go-to recipes and special recipes for special occasions.”

How many recipes are in the book, you ask? Try 101. Some were creations of a chef very close to Autumn’s heart: her brother. “That makes it even more sentimental for me,” she says.

Each of the recipes comes complete with detailed instructions, mouthwatering photos, nutritional information and container equivalents. What’s more, Autumn has added icons to each recipe that will let readers know if they are paleo, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.

TARGET AUDIENCE

“This book is for everybody,” says Autumn. “You don’t have to be graduates of 21 Day Fix or 21 Day Fix Extreme. You also don’t have to be a chef or great in the kitchen. It’s for anyone who wants to make healthier versions of the foods they love.”

According to Autumn, “Everyone will use the book differently. For some, it will become their “go-to” cookbook they use every single day. Others may use it when they’re going to a special event like a barbeque or party.”

And in addition to all the amazing recipes, Autumn has also included a detailed checklist for her absolute must-have kitchen and pantry staples, as well as the basic utensils and tools that every cook needs.

COVER TO COVER

Inside Fixate you’ll find a section for every possible meal you can imagine: simple breakfasts, on-the-go lunches, sit down dinners, soups, salads, as well as healthy snacks like kale chips and protein bars.

Autumn insisted that all the “on-the-go” lunch recipes be easy and fast for working moms. “I based all of the lunches off leftovers from dinner and even breakfast,” she reveals. “I turned them into delicious, easy-to-make lunch recipes.” Autumn adds, “I also included a few of my favorite Shakeology recipes—even some Fix-approved skinny cocktails.”

And then there’s the desserts. “I have a big sweet tooth so I was really pleased with them,” she says. “I especially love the brownies (made with chick peas), peanut butter cookies and cake recipes, and the desserts are all gluten-free so absolutely everyone can enjoy them.”

As you can see, Fixate is going to be a really valuable tool for anyone following the 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme or any other Beachbody program. Heck, the cookbook is going to be an amazing tool for anyone looking to clean up their diet, gain control of their portion sizes and just eat healthier!

Want a sneak peek? Click here to download 5 recipes from the book!

Make sure you keep an eye on this blog for updates about the book (I’ll be snagging an advanced copy of it in July) and you know I’ll be cooking up a storm and sharing my thoughts on it.

If you have been considering the 21 Day Fix, have questions about it and need someone to coach you through it, please feel free to contact me. There are some great specials on it this month and I’d love to help you see if it’s a good fit for you!

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