Friday, January 31, 2014

Sweet Potato Nachos

Recently I saw a picture on Pinterest of nachos that used sweet potato chips instead of tortilla chips...but there was no recipe.  So I decided to try and create my own!

First, I made some sweet potato chips.  I don't have a mandolin so it was quite a difficult task.  Plus the potatoes I bought were gigantic and basically impossible to cut.  So my chips were a little uneven/oddly shaped.  

I thinly sliced the potatoes and laid them in a single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Then I sprayed them with olive oil and sprinkled with salt & paprika.  

I put them in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes, then flipped them and cooked for another 12 minutes.  After 24 minutes some of the potatoes were turning brown so I took those out and set them aside, and let the bigger pieces cook for about 10 more minutes.  (Next time I make these I will probably cook them longer at a lower temperature- I had a few chips burn and a lot of chips that didn't get crispy enough.)

While the chips cooked I cooked 1/2 lb of ground turkey.  

I seasoned it with homemade taco seasoning (recipe via The Girl Who Ate Everything).

To make the nachos, I put the chips on a plate and topped them with the ground turkey and a little bit of reduced fat Mexican style shredded cheese.

My sister also made Chipotle's Guacamole recipe to go with our nachos.  It was fantastic!

Despite the half-burned, half-soggy sweet potato chips, it was a perfect Friday night dinner!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Workout Update and Meatballs

Today was finally my day off!  Wednesdays never come fast enough after working the weekend.  This morning I did Day 15 of the Body Rock 30 Day Challenge.  It's hard to believe that it's halfway over...and that I've actually kept up with the workouts.  I'm definitely feeling stronger.  Even though I'm still doing pushups on my knees (working on that), I can do way more pushups than I could a few weeks ago.  When I watch the videos I sometimes think "there's no way I could do that"...and then I try it and find that I can.  Can't wait to see how I feel after the next 15 days!

My sister and I got Chipotle for lunch, which I haven't had since probably June.  Way too long.  My sister on the other hand had it yesterday, ha!  I had a salad with black beans, barbacoa, corn salsa, sour cream and a side of guacamole.  YUM.

For dinner tonight I made Chicken Parmesan Meatballs from Dinner: A Love Story.  I love these meatballs.  I don't add the fennel seeds (not a fan) or lemon zest. 

I also use Muir Glen pasta sauce to brush on the meatballs, then use the rest over spaghetti squash as a side. 

This recipe also gave me a reason to use another Christmas present...a new pastry brush!

These meatballs are pretty big too, so it's definitely a filling meal.

Spaghetti squash is a great side instead of pasta to keep the calories in check!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taco Tuesday (and Monday!)

For dinner last night I made Chicken and Black Bean Tacos from Undressed Skeleton.  These tacos are full of flavor and they are super healthy.  Baking them makes them the perfect amount of crunchy.  Plus, they are much easier to eat than a typical hard shelled taco.  And bonus, they were delicious as leftovers!

I used my all-time favorite salsa:

And some reduced fat mexican shredded cheese:

I left out the jalapenos because they are a little too spicy for my tastes.

I think it's easier to lay out all 8 tortillas and put on the toppings so everything is even.  Here is my "taco making station":

And here are all the tacos rolled up.  I didn't think they would all fit in my 9x13 pan but I squished them all in!

Dinner is served! With some Wholly Guacamole and light sour cream :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crunchy Ranch Chicken Fingers

Up until the age of about 18, I used to order chicken fingers at every restaurant.  Seriously, everywhere...even at steakhouses.  With 3 sides of honey mustard.  I actually used to have a ranking of restaurants based on deliciousness of honey mustard.  While I have (mostly) grown out of that phase, I do still love chicken fingers now and then.  So I decided to make a healthier, non-fried version.

Here's what you'll need (for 2 servings):

3/4 pound uncooked chicken tenders
1 egg
2 cups cornflakes
1 packet ranch dressing mix
Pam cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Pour the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them with your hands.  Add the packet of ranch dressing mix and combine.  Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and whisk.

3. Dip a piece of chicken in the egg, then roll in the cornflakes.  Place the chicken on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

4.  Once all the chicken is coated, lightly spray with Pam.  

5. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Turkey Burger Saturday!

It's turkey burger day again!

I tried something a little different today.  After making meatballs on Thursday, I had a bunch of leftover shredded zucchini.  I saved it because I didn't want it to go to waste, but I wasn't sure how to use it.  Then I had a stroke of genius- add it to the turkey burgers!  The meatball recipe used the zucchini to help keep the turkey moist, so I figured it would do the same in a burger.  

I mixed two turkey burger patties with about 1/2 cup of the shredded zucchini and some garlic powder, paprika, and cumin.  The zucchini definitely made the burgers juicy.  It also gave the burgers some more volume (aka bigger burgers) for not many added calories, which is always a plus. 

We had them with my new favorite side, a baked sweet potato with butter and garlic salt.  YUM!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thai Style Meatballs

I realized that I haven't had Thai food since I moved in August, which is crazy.  My sister and I used to get takeout from our favorite Thai restaurant at least once a month.  Specifically chicken panang curry.  Yummm.  I haven't found a recipe for that yet, but I did stumble across this recipe for Thai Turkey Meatballs from iFoodReal.  

I halved the recipe for the meatballs but kept the same amount of sauce, mostly because I didn't want to waste the coconut milk.  Instead of making 14 meatballs, I made 16 slightly smaller ones so I could divide the recipe evenly into four servings.

I finally used the plate attachment on my food processor to shred the zucchini, and it actually worked really well!  Now I am going to have to find other ways to use it.

This recipe was absolutely delicious.  The meatballs were moist and the sauce was creamy.  What more could I ask for?

P.S. Check out this adorable bowl
I got for Christmas...


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Comfort Food Cravings

I have been craving comfort food the past few days.  It probably has something to do with the snow storm we had yesterday.  Cold weather always makes me want a bowl of something cheesy and full of carbs.  Lucky for me it was my day to make the meal plan and shop for the week, so I could pick something to satisfy my craving.  I chose Spaghetti Squash Alfredo from Food Doodles.  This is one of my favorite dinners to make.  At one point it was on my menu every week!  I love it because it feels so indulgent but I don't feel guilty since the vehicle is a vegetable instead of pasta!

Look at that beauty!

A few things I do differently with the recipe:
1. I cook my spaghetti squash at 450 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  After cutting it in half, I spray it with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper (using my new Misto set I got for Christmas, thanks Mom!).  

Then I place it cut side down on a baking sheet, no water needed.

2. I leave out the cream cheese.  Even though I used to add it, I forgot to buy it once.  When I left it out and didn't notice any difference, so I decided not to add it anymore. 

3. Instead of pouring the sauce into the spaghetti squash halves, I just scoop the squash right into the pot with the sauce.  The first time I made this I didn't cut the squash evenly so I decided just to combine it all together and then divide.  Also, since I'm not a patient person, I didn't want to pour it back into the boats and then broil, so I just served it as is.

Served with a side of broccoli and a sprinkle of garlic salt...heaven! 

In other news, I have been keeping up with the BodyRock 30 Day Challenge.  I have completed every day so far and I am super proud of myself.  I'm starting to feel stronger, though the workouts are still kicking my butt!  I can't wait to see what the next week brings! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pizza Night!

Ah, another pizza recipe.  I do love pizza. :) Tonight I made a pepper and mushroom pizza on a cauliflower crust.  I like making a cauliflower crust for a few reasons.  First, it's a great way to get in some extra veggies.  Second, homemade pizza dough is a lot of work and I don't have the right equipment (like a rolling pin or pizza stone).  And third, it's a great way to save on some calories if you do it the right way.  Most recipes for cauliflower crusts have like 2 cups of cheese which sort of defeats the purpose of making it healthier.  However, I found this recipe from The Detoxinista that only uses 1/3 cup of goat cheese and an egg to hold the crust together.  This is the second time I've followed this particular recipe, and it is definitely better than the first one I tried (that had way more cheese).

Here's what you'll need:

1 Cauliflower Pizza Crust (via The Detoxinista)
10 tablespoons pizza sauce
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 to 5 baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced

1. Make the pizza crust.

Making the cauliflower rice

The "dough"

The key to making this crust so good is definitely ringing out the water.  The first time I made this, I burned my hands when ringing out the water.  So I learned from my mistakes.  After draining the cauliflower, lay it out on a towel and let it cool for a few minutes.  This way, when you squeeze out the water and it gets all over your hands, it won't still be boiling hot.  You're welcome. :)

2. While the crust cooks, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and sautee until golden, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the crust from the oven.  Top with the sauce, cheese, and vegetables.
4. Put the pizza back in the 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Slice and serve immediately.

I served with a salad (romaine, fat free feta, organic italian dressing) to round out the meal. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Veggie Pot Pie

TGIF!  Tonight's dinner was veggie pot pies.  A few months ago I was pretty sick for about a week and not willing to cook.  And when I can't cook, it's super easy to fall off the healthy train.  Plus, all I wanted was some comfort food.  So my sister and I were browsing the freezer aisle for dinner and we picked up some Marie Calendar pot pies.  Well whaddya know, those little suckers are 900+ calories.  They were pretty delicious, mostly owing to that flaky crust, but I knew there had to be a way to indulge in the taste without all the calories.   

Here's what you'll need:
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 large onion, diced into large chunks
1 bunch asparagus, cut into thirds (bite sized)
Olive oil spray (I used my new Misto!)
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons Smart Balance butter (or regular butter is fine)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon thyme 
5 sheets phyllo dough
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place butternut squash, carrots, onions, and asparagus on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes, until tender.  After removing from the oven, pour the peas on top of the hot veggies.
4. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook for one minute, whisking constantly.  Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk.  Add the vegetable broth, parsley, and thyme along with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Stir the vegetables into the sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the mixture into a 8x8 baking dish.

6. Lay a sheet of phyllo dough on top of the dish, folding or trimming to fit.  Spray with cooking spray; repeat with the remaining sheets of dough.  Cut a slit in the middle of the layers of phyllo dough.
7. Bake about 20 minutes, until the top is golden.  Divide into four squares and serve immediately. 

Adapted from Yummy Mummy Kitchen

A yummy dinner, and definitely not over 900 calories!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BodyRock Challenge and Enchiladas

So thankful for a day off today!  After grocery shopping for the week, it was time for dinner.  Since I had time, I made Zucchini Boat Enchiladas from SkinnyTaste.  

It is a more involved recipe but it is so worth it!  The only thing I did differently is use canned enchilada sauce.  I served the enchiladas with light sour cream and guacamole.

Today I am starting the newest BodyRock 30 Day Challenge.  BodyRock did a 30 day challenge in October.  I only completed about half and I wasn't doing it religiously, but I definitely started to feel stronger.  And fitter.  When I saw they were starting a new challenge, I knew I wanted to try it out.  My goal is to be more committed this time around.

Well the verdict on Day 1 is...that 12 minute workout was exhausting!  My heart rate was super high by the end of the third round.  But I also felt great after finishing.  Not to mention, I had my favorite post-workout treat to keep me motivated...chocolate milk!  If all the workouts are short I think I should be able to fit them in daily.  No excuses!

Monday, January 13, 2014

English Muffin Pizzas!

I made some delicious english muffin pizzas for dinner last night!

Here's what I used:

2 Ezekial Sprouted Grain English Muffins
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen brand pasta sauce)
1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
Turkey pepperoni
Sliced onions and peppers

1.  Split the english muffins in half and toast until crispy.
2.  Spread 1/8 cup of sauce on each english muffin half.
3.  Sprinkle 1/8 cup of cheese on top of the english muffins.
4.  Top with pepperoni slices, peppers, and onions.
5.  Place under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese melts.

This recipe is super easy to adapt to any tastes.  I (accidentally) bought finely shredded mozzarella cheese but it ended up working out really well.  The Ezekial english muffins were really good as a pizza crust.  We ate them with a Caesar salad.  

A perfect Sunday meal :) 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Catch Up on Dinners!

For dinner on Thursday, I made Philly Cheesesteak Baked Potatoes from SkinnyTaste.  Instead of using beef I used portabello mushrooms.  They were delicious!

Yesterday, I made Crockpot Beef and Broccoli from Skinny Fork.  I love this recipe.  The flavor of the sauce is my favorite of any beef and broccoli I've made and the meat gets really tender.

(I forgot to take a picture!)

Tonight, I made turkey burgers.  We usually eat turkey burgers every other Saturday because they are quick meals to make when I get home from work.  Funny story, I once made my meal plan to have turkey burgers on a Sunday and I had to keep reminding myself for the rest of the night that it was not Saturday!

I buy ground turkey in premade patties.  They come in packs of 4, so I make two at a time and freeze the other two for the next turkey burger night.  This time, I mixed garlic powder, paprika, cumin and worcestershire sauce.  The worcestershire keeps the turkey from being dry and cumin is my favorite spice of all time, so it just makes sense to add it.  I topped the burgers with a slice of reduced fat cheddar cheese.  Perfect.

Because I'd rather eat a potato than bread, I served the burger with a baked sweet potato and some steamed broccoli to satisfy my veggie requirement.  Yum! 

Do you have any "go-to" meals?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Quinoa Chili and Treadmill Intervals

For dinner tonight I made Quinoa Chili from Damn Delicious.  I left out the kidney beans because I'm not a huge fan (and neither is my sister, who I live with/cook for regularly), only used half a lime, and left out the sugar.  The best part about this meal is there is a ton of leftovers, which means lunch for a few days!

I think my favorite thing about cooking is that all this...

Turns into this...

Quinoa was perfect in this chili, and the flavors were amazing.  A perfect meal on a cold winter's night!

A few hours after dinner, my sister talked me into going to the gym.  We have a small "gym" in our apartment which means there is little excuse to not go.  I'm lucky to have someone to motivate and push me.  It definitely helps to have someone to keep you accountable.  We decided to try an interval workout on the treadmill.  I was a little nervous because I haven't run since October, but it actually felt really good.  It was much easier to get back into running than I thought it would be.  Here's what I did:

5 minute warm up walk
30 seconds running/sprinting
30 seconds rest (standing on the side of the treadmill)
Repeat x10
5 minute cool down walk

Because I was nervous, I did my first "sprint" at 6mph.  Typically I run at 5.4mph, so this was faster for me, but I knew I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.  So I increased my speed for every sprint by 0.2mph until I got up to 7mph.  I'll definitely be doing this again when I need to get in a fast workout, but I will be pushing myself to do faster sprints now that I know I can!

What's your favorite quick and effective workout?