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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Breakfast Tongue Twister

Hello, blog world, long time no see! I've been really busy with school and work, so I've mostly just been posting my photos on Instagram because it's just much more convenient. It's been sort of same old, same old for me these days, but I have been lucky enough to have the time to try out some new recipes! Those of which have included soups, pastas, salads, and, my favorite, breakfast recipes.

Since today is Sunday and I usually like to relax and get work done today, I enough a nice breakfast, preferably one that I can share with my whole family. I should note that certain members of my family are, how shall I say it, stuck in their unhealthy ways? *Cough cough* DAD! But I do try and expand as many food horizons as I can.

All weekend I have been dying to make pancakes, and today was the prefect occasion to take my time and try out a new recipe I had been working on. I got inspired by a recipe I found and decided to combine it with another recipe from one of my favorite food blogs. Then I put my own spin on it and viola! Whole Wheat-Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes (say that ten times fast!):

(I topped mine with coconut butter :) )
Serves 1 (can easily be doubled or multiplied to any amount)
  • 1/4 c. Whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. Old fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Brown sugar, packed, but broken up after measuring
  • 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spice (I just did a few good dashes)
  • 2 Egg whites (or one whole egg)
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk (I just used a little splash of almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp. Pumpkin pure (4 Tbsp= 1/4c. I just did it to eye)
1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and sift together.
2. Add wet ingredients and whisk with a fork until smooth.
3. Spray your griddle or skillet with oil and put on medium heat. 
4. Spoon batter onto heated griddle and let cook until bubbles have formed in the batter (about 1-2 minutes), then flip. 
5. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for an addition minute or two. DO NOT FLIP PANCAKES MORE THAN ONCE! Doing so will flatten your pancakes, and your want them to be light and fluffy. 
6. Once fully cooked, place pancakes in a stack and top with your favorites (butter, syrup, PB, fruit, anything!) and enjoy!

The oats in the batter give the pancakes a chewy texture, which I enjoyed. But If you would rather a more traditional version, you can use 1/2c. of whole wheat flour instead of adding the rolled oats. That's actually what I did when I made a new batch for my parents this morning. As I mentioned earlier, my father can be a toughie when it comes to try new things, ESPECIALLY health foods. But he really enjoyed the pancakes! He even asked for seconds! Small wins, people, it's all about the small wins.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Simple and Flavorful

I may consider myself a vegetarian, but I also eat fish, so technically I'm a pescetarian. But I rarely tell people that, simply because of the confused looks I get in response. 

Anyway, I love salmon. It's one of my favorite fishes and it's full of nutrients like the healthy omega-3 fatty acids and rich protein. And as far as seafood goes, it's on the lower end of the scale for mercury count (even lower if you eat canned tuna). Not only is it good for you, but it has a lot of great flavor, so simple seasoning can take a filet a long way. The texture of salmon is also a good deal firmer than most other fish, so if you're a big meat eater, then salmon is a great choice for a fast and healthy dinner. 

Honey-Mustard Salmon with Indian-Spiced Zucchini 

Usually when I make salmon, I season it with an Italian blend of seasonings, like garlic, lemon, basil, thyme, rosemary, etc., or more often then not, I go with a spicy blend that includes garlic, crushed red pepper, and hot sauce. But sometimes I'm in the mood for something different. 

Honey-Mustard Salmon
4-6oz. Salmon filet
Garlic, minced, to taste
2 tsp. Spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. Honey 
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Place fish on a baking sheet that is lined with non-stick foil. Season salmon with all ingredients. Amounts listed are very general, so just eyeball and taste to see what you prefer more or less of. 
3. Cook salmon in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Do not over cook your fish, so keep checking on it  until the entire outside is a light pink color, this way the fish will remain most. If you aren't sure if the fish is done, cut it in half at the thickest section to see if it is cooked through. (Note: eating salmon that is a little rare in the center is perfectly safe, the fish will be more moist and will finish cooking even after you've taken it out of the oven.)

I just love to eat salmon, I wish I could eat it every week! Just keep in mind when shopping for salmon, or any kind of fish, that fresh is always best. Always check at your grocery store to see if the fish that you're about to buy has been previously frozen or not. I always buy fresh fish when it's on sale, this way I can portion it out, and freeze pieces for later meals. There are so many things to keep in mind when buying and consuming seafood, so if you're a lover of our yummy friends from the ocean, make sure you do some research on mercury content and wild-caught versus farm-raised fish. 

Something to think about: Do you get your daily dose of omega 3's from fish or fish oil?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Snack or Entree?

I would like to just share a quick recipe that I have fallen in love with recently, and it involves tofu. So many members of my family are repulsed by tofu, and most of them have never tried it before. I don't understand why people are so afraid. I mean, I can understand if you've tried it and didn't like the texture, but tofu can taste like whatever you want it to. Case in point: Roasted Tofu Nuggets. 

This recipe is so simple, and so fast it will make your head spin. Please note, that the spices you put on are totally your prerogative, there are no rules. I prefer mine with some spicy or savory seasonings, but you may prefer breadcrumbs or grated cheese. 

Roasted Tofu Nuggets
Extra-firm tofu, patted dry (any amount works)
Pam/olive oil spray
Garlic powder
Curry powder
Chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
2. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes, or whatever size you prefer (bigger pieces will take longer). Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and place cubes on top. Sprinkle with seasonings, then flip cubes over and season the other side. 
3. Place in oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how soft/crunchy you want your nuggets. 

I've eaten these nuggets by themselves, on salads, and I've made bigger slices for sandwiches. Every time I make them, my mother always notes how good the kitchen smells, and then she is always shocked to hear that it's tofu. Hopefully one day her curiosity will drive her to give tofu a try. 

Something to think about:
Is there a food your afraid to try because you think it will taste bad?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Don't Even Know What To Call This

If I've never mentioned it before, I'm just going to say it now: I am an unconventional cook. Most meals, I just through whatever I have into a pot, pan, bowl, whatever, and hope that everything turns out well. Usually it does, but trust me, over the years I have encountered many recipe flops due to my nonchalant cooking style. But those experiences never stop me from taking risks in the kitchen and trying new things that sound weird, but at the same time delicious. 

Taken with Instagram

Like the title of this post says, I seriously don't even know what to call this, except maybe some version of a vegetable casserole/bake. Besides that, I got nothing. So instead of naming it, I'll just tell you what's inside my cute little dish (the picture makes it look huge, but it's about the same size as an average bowl): quinoa, chickpeas, asparagus, diced tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and grated parmesan. Yeah, it's kind of a little bit of everything. 

I cooked the quinoa in a separate pot, and while that was cooking I sautéed the chickpeas, asparagus, and tomatoes in a pan with olive oil, garlic, and onions (what my grandmother and I refer to as "The Holy Trinity"). I seasoned everything with some Italian seasoning, fresh pepper, and a few red pepper flakes for some added zing! Then when everything was done, I mixed the quinoa into the pan, added some lemon juice and let it simmer on a low heat. I had already preheated the oven to 450 degrees, so when I was satisfied with the simmering, I emptied the ingredients that were in the pan into my mini casserole dish, topped it with some walnuts (that got toasted in the oven) and some parmesan cheese. 

Since everything was already cooked, and all I wanted to do was let the flavors marry and get my top a little crunchy, I let the dish sit in the oven for 5-10 minutes, and then quickly broiled it for a couple of minutes on a low flame. When I removed it from the oven it was hot, hot, hot! So I let it cool for a minute or two until I dug in. And the verdict...a success! The walnuts toasted to the perfect crunch that I was looking for, and the flavors had blended well, but they were also still distinct. Even my brother, who always sticks his carnivorous nose up at my unusual concoctions, said it smelled and looked good. Double success. 

Something to think about:
What are your cooking fears?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's a Fiesta

There are some healthy goods that are so delicious that sometimes you feel guilty about it. And then you quickly remember how good it is for you and the guilt goes flying out the window. That's how I feel about avocados. Creamy and full of fat- it's like the room temperature version of ice cream, except it's so much better for you than that Blizzard from Dairy Queen (yuck! Trans fats city!). 

When I first started dieting, I made a big mistake. Yes, I too make mistakes even though I may look like the picture of health. During my first few months of dieting, I cut back on my fat in-take way too much to try and save calories. Even the healthy fats, like olive oil, nuts, and avocados took a serious backseat so that I could eat more carbs and protein to fill me up. 

Since then, I have made a complete turn-around and have been eating more fats than ever before. A few months ago I would've been nervous to eat half of an avocado at one meal, but now I can't get enough. Since I've upped my fat intake, I've noticed that my mood is brighter and my personality is starting to remind me more of the person I was before my weight loss. Not that dieting and losing weight changed me into a miserable bitch, but there were definitely a lot of days where I was feeling antisocial, or not as fun-loving as I usually am. So I guess the answer to the meaning of life is fat? 

That being said, everything should be practiced in moderation. I would never just eat fats all day long, it's all about a balanced diet. I've come to discover that that balance is different for everyone. I may need more fats and protein than carbs, but the next person may need a lot more carbs for their optimal diet. My motto is eat everything. Have your fats (mostly healthy!), lean proteins, whole-grains, vegetables, and fruits everyday. Learn to listen to your body and see what kind of balance it functions best on. Everyone's body is uniquely different, so why would we all follow the same diet? I may be a vegetarian, but that may not be the best lifestyle for a lot of people. What it comes down to is trusting your gut. 

Now on to the fat attack!

Taken with Instagram

Open-Faced Fiesta Veggie Burger
Boca Grilled Vegetable Burger
1 Slice whole-wheat bread, toasted
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Red onion, sliced
Baby sweet pepper, sliced
Romaine leaf
2 Tbsp. Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
Hot sauce
Lime juice

Everything is pretty self-explanatory, except the spicy faux-sour cream that I made from Greek yogurt. All it is is the greek yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, to taste, and the juice of half a lime. Then once everything is assembled, pour the sauce on top and dig in! A fork and knife is a must with this...and maybe even an empty room because it does get a little messy, but there's nothing wrong with a little mess in the kitchen. 

This meal really is a great balance for the average diet. Who knew the face of nutrition could fit on one slice of bread? Even if that nutrition had to be scooped up with a fork during consumption. 

Something to think about:
Do you have a balanced diet?
Are the fats you're eating healthy?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Mighty Return Of An Old Friend

Broccoli rabe, where have you been all my life?! Okay, not all my life, but seriously, broccoli rabe, where have you been the past few months? As my favorite vegetable, you think that you would at least stop by every once in a while to say hello, or text me to tell me that you miss me. Because Lord knows I have missed you, and thanks to Costco's giant bag of rapini for, like, four bucks, you have returned to my plate.

Taken with Instagram

For dinner the other night, I was way too excited to finally have broccoli rabe in the house again. I opened the bag and my nostrils were immediately flooded with the most incredibly fresh smell. I was actually very surprised by this since it was from Costco. It's great when you can get quality with a great quantity. 

I sautéd the rapini with olive oil and garlic (I mean, is there any other way?), then added chickpeas, mushrooms, and tomatoes to complete the meal. Obviously the star, and best part, of the meal was the broccoli rate, and I was not disappointed. Just the right amount of bitterness, it was exactly what I was looking for. 

What's on the dinner for tonight? Broccoli rate, of course! I mean, it would be a shame to let that big bag go to waste... Honestly, I'm trying my best to not eat it at every meal so I can enjoy it for as long as I possibly can. 

Something to think about:
What's your favorite vegetable?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Overhaul

Boy, have I been a busy little bee lately! I know I've neglected blogging, but lately whenever I seem to have a free second, there is always something else that needs crossing-off on my to-do list. 

So, here I am, with a free moment to finally blog again!

I should probably start by saying that I am so thrilled that Fall has arrived. Because Fall means pumpkins and I am obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored. 

In the mornings, I make sure I wake up early enough to make myself a filling breakfast that will stay with me throughout my classes. And this past week, with my trusty can of pumpkin by my side, I've been whipping up some interesting creations. 

To start, there was the Pumpkin Pie-Cake Oatmeal:

Taken with Instagram
1/2 c. Rolled oats
1/2 c. Canned pure pumpkin 
1/2 c. Water or milk
2 Egg whites
1 Tbs. Chia or flax seeds (optional-will need more water if using)
Pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon
Pecans for topping (optional

1. Mix oats, pumpkin, water, chia seeds, and spices into a bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes.
2. While the oatmeal is cooking, separate two egg whites and whisk them so they get frothy.
3. Let the oats cool for a minute and then slowly pour in the egg white, stirring constantly and quickly until everything is incorporated. Then return your oats to the microwave and heat for another minute, watching to see if the "cake" rises. Continue to microwave until oats seem firm. 
4. Be careful because it will be very hot. And just a warning, you will not be able to stir the oats because the steam from the "cake" will cause then to get a little watery at the bottom. Just eat it like you would a piece of cake-one section at a time. 

This bowl of oats was super delicious and truly filling. I think I ate it around 7am and wasn't hungry until 12! That's a new record for my new metabolism. 

But if this seems like a lot of work and you just want pumpkin in your oatmeal, just make your oats how your normally would and add in 1/4-1/2 c. of pumpkin, depending on your taste. 

This morning I had this lovely bowl of Peanut Butter Pumpkin Oatmeal:

Taken with Instagram

It's no secret that I love the creamy, nutty goodness of a spoonful of peanut butter, and the combination with the pumpkin sent my tastebuds into overdrive. 

1/3 c. Rolled oats
1/3 c. Canned pure pumpkin (estimated, it was all I hd left of my first can of pumpkin ): )
1/2 c. Water
2 Tbsp. Natural creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp. Chia seeds (optional)
Pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon

Just made the normal way! The melty peanut butter was so good I didn't want the bowl to end, but alas, it did, and I had a full belly to start my day. 

I can't believe it's almost October, but I'm definitely looking forward to wearing big comfy sweaters, drinking hot tea, and eating pumpkin until I burst in celebration of Fall and the oncoming holiday season!

Something to think about:
What are you most looking forward to in Fall?

I'm gonna queue up some more blog posts to help keep the food coming while I'm so busy, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A day off from work, at long last! I enjoyed waking up early this morning to head out to the gym. Call me crazy, but I love mornings. I use to hate waking up early, but ever since I lost weight and got active,  my every has picked up significantly, especially in the early hours of the day. It's a good thing I enjoy mornings now because tomorrow I start classes for the Fall semester and every weekday I will have class at 8am. I'm strangely excited to begin classes, probably because it will give me something else to do besides work and cook. It will be interesting to see how I balance classes, school work, regular work, and staying healthy all at the same time. When I was losing weight I didn't have a job to commit time to, so it was easy for me to get my work done and still have time for the gym. This will just force me to plan a little more so my days go smoothly. 

Speaking of planning, it was nice to not have to pack meals or snacks to take to work today. But I have gotten into the habit of repeating recipes that I'm really into lately.

It's no secret that I love oatmeal in the morning (or any time of day!), but yesterday I tried something new and I fell madly in love with this new bowl of oatmeal. 

I wanted some extra protein in my oatmeal, and instead of adding yogurt or cottage cheese, I wanted something that would pack a bigger punch for less calories. Solution: egg whites!

Taken with Instagram

Introducing, Fluffy Whipped Oatmeal. I couldn't believe how fluffy and dense the oatmeal had gotten after I added the egg whites. Definitely one of the best decisions I've made for breakfast in a very long time. This bowl included 1/2 c. of oats, 1 1/3 c. water, 1 T. chia seeds, 3 egg whites, 1 banana, 0.5 oz. pecans, and cinnamon. So filling, I can't even begin to describe how perfect this was. You can add less egg whites, different fruit, or substitute milk for water for whatever you're in the mood for. 

If you want to add egg whites to your oatmeal, the best way to do so is buy cooking everything stovetop. Add your water and oats and bring to a boil. Continue to stir and turn down the heat, this is when I added the chia seeds and a little more water. Once all the liquid has been absorbed, remove the pot from the flame. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they have become a little frothy, then slowly pour them into your oats, stirring quickly and constantly. You will be able to see the egg whites turning white, but keep stirring so they mix in with the oats and don't scramble. After that, I added my mashed banana, and instead of waiting for the oatmeal to heat on the stove again, I pour the mix into a bowl and microwaved it for about a minute. Finally, I topped it with my pecans and cinnamon and chowed down. 

The egg whites make the oatmeal fluffy, and slightly doughy. If you love oatmeal and have a little extra time in the morning (cooking them stove top only took me about 5 minutes), I highly recommend adding some egg whites. The protein will keep you satisfied for hours, I promise. 

For lunches, my go-to meal has become salads. They're easy to make before work, and I can easily throw on top a huge bowl of greens whatever is in my fridge for a filling meal. 

Taken with Instagram

Taco Salads are a staple in my diet because I love Mexican food and I love salad! A typical taco salad includes romaine lettuce, black beans, red onion, bell pepper, salsa, guacamole, cilantro and lime juice. Occasionally I will add brown rice, Boca Crumbles, reduced fat cheddar cheese, or tomatoes, depending on my mood. 

This summer I have really gotten into using eggplant in a lot of my meals, usually as the star ingredient. Lately, I have been turning back to the same recipe because I just can't seem to get enough of it!

Taken with Instagram 

Balsamic-Lemon Eggplant with Chickpeas, Tomato, and Mushroom. This picture was actually taken before work because I made this for my dinner, hours in advance. The recipe includes cubed eggplant, 1 whole tomato, 1 portobello mushroom cap, 1/2 c. chick peas, garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Everything is cooked in one sauté pan and it is delicious. I think I had it three times in one week!

Well, I've shared some of my new favorites, do you have any favorite recipes that you never get tired of eating?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I am so tired, but it's something I'm trying not to think about. I just want to push through and keep on truckin' until I drop!

Not really, but I really could use a break right now. The fact that I know I have less than a week until classes just makes it worse. That's when the real fun starts. Classes, homework, work, cooking, working out. Blogging? Sleeping? Hopefully.

Clearly, my posts have becoming more sporadic, it's just hard to cook during the day and work nights and make time for the gym AND find time to blog about what I've been eating. So, I think I'm just going to try to give quick overviews of my days as far as food goes. Recipes will be rarer, but hopefully seeing what I'm eating will inspire you to try a variation of what you see here. Just try and bare with me over the next few months, I'm sure the adventure will be interesting and telling.

It's only quarter to ten on a Thursday night and I'm already ready to hit the hay. And I'm going to do just that!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Work, Work, Work

I'm really happy that work has consumed my weekend, and I'm not being sarcastic at all. Being that this weekend I would have been moving back into college, I have a lot on my mind. It's better to keep myself busy right now. 

And with many hours of work comes many packed meals! 

Yesterday I had lots of snacks that included almonds, pecans, carrots, cucumber, and a Kashi chewy granola bar. And for dinner, I made a quinoa bowl before leaving my house. 

Taken with Instagram

With my quinoa I had shrimp, broccoli, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Even though I had to eat it cold, it totally hit the spot last night. The protein from the shrimp kept me satisfied for the rest of the night shift. I will definitely be making this again!

Today I had a peanut butter sandwich on a deli flat, made with PB2, almonds, carrots, and peppers for lunch, and a Kashi bar for a snack. But what I was looking forward to the entire night was the dish I made this morning for dinner. 

Just looks like a bunch of chopped veggies, right? Well, there's actually an entire can of sardines mixed in too! This sardine and veggie mix has chopped cucumbers, carrots, peppers, onions, radishes, grape tomatoes, and green pigeon peas and alfalfa sprouts tossed in. All of this was combined with veganaise,  spicy brown mustard, lemon juice, and fresh ground pepper. And let me tell you, it was delicious! Now, if you're totally apposed to the thought of eating sardines, you can easily make this with canned salmon or tuna (salmon has way less mercury, so try that first). 

This salad is more of a typical lunch for me, but I wanted to have a higher protein meal for the end of the day (eliminates late-night snacking). 

See? It is totally possible to eat healthy with a busy work schedule. The key is planning. Yes, it takes some time, and preparing all of your meals takes more effort than running to Subway on your lunch break, and I promise you, it will keep you fuller longer. Not only is it beneficial to plan your meals when you're busy, but also making sure than you have healthy snacks with you throughout the day will keep hunger pangs at bay. Even if you're going out to run some errands, take a handful of nuts or a granola bar with you, this way you won't be tempted to go through the drive-thru for that greasy bag of french fries. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Rant About Vegetarianism

Can I just get something off my chest? Thanks.

It really bothers me when people assume the reason I lost weight was because I became a vegetarian. Yes, vegetarianism cut-out a lot of unhealthy foods from my diet, like Big Macs and deep-fried chicken tenders, but there are still a lot of unhealthy foods that don't include meat. Things like chips, fettucini alfredo, and Nutella are all fine in moderation, but when you have no control over your portions and eat junk until your stomach is about to regurgitate, it doesn't matter if you're a vegan or a carnivore, you will not lose weight.

Yes, becoming a vegetarian helped open my eyes to healthier options, but it didn't stop me from eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting. There has to be a moment in your life, a turning point, when you look yourself in the mirror and say, "I need to get healthy," and then you need to focus on doing just that.

I thought I had that moment many times in my life. I can't tell you how many times I started a "new" diet throughout my short lifetime. But there was a moment, back in November of 2011, that changed my life forever.

I was sitting in my college dorm room with my roommate and it was around 11:30, 12 at night. We were watching SNL and talking about food, when my roommate looked at me and said, "Ya know what I could go for right now? Ice-cream." I agreed, having ice-cream always sounded like a good idea to me, it was my favorite food. After gushing about all the delicious ice-cream we could be eating, I looked at my roommate with this crazy grin on my face and asked, "Wanna go to Quick Chek?" And with that, we were off, no hesitation necessary.

Because I was obviously thinking about my health that night (ha-ha), I opted for Ben and Jerry's Half Baked FroYo. I'll spare you the gory details of how I devoured the entire pint like I was going to the electric chair, but like a drug addict, I forced myself to finish the entire pint, even when I started to feel full. Mind you, there are four servings in a pint of ice-cream. Immediately after, I went to bed. With an entire pint of frozen yogurt sloshing around in my stomach.

The next morning I felt like I had been hit by an eighteen-wheeler. I looked in the mirror and I hated who I saw staring back at me. This was not the person I wanted to be, I didn't even know her. That was the moment I knew I needed to change. For good.

Looking back, I don't regret that night because it showed me that I had hit rock bottom. Climbing out of that hole I had dug for myself over the years was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it. I learned so much about myself, fitness, and nutrition throughout the journey, and today, I can proudly say that that sad girl who glared back at me with tears in her eyes is no longer lurking behind my mirrors.

The reason for this long rant is to remind everyone that trying a new fad diet, cutting out carbs, or becoming a vegetarian will not solve your weight loss problems. Moderation, portion control, and exercise will, and if you don't want to put in the effort to get to your goal, then you haven't reached rock bottom. It's not about going on a quick-fix diet. It's about changing your life forever, and you need to be ready to take on that task.

So if weight loss, or getting healthy is something that you've struggled with, I ask you to look at yourself in the mirror, right now, and ask yourself if that person is the who you want to live with for the rest of your life. If not, then it may be time for you to re-evaluate your lifestyle. I can tell you from experience, it will be the greatest thing you ever do for yourself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

McDonald's Anyone?

Pssh! Why buy the grease from McDonald's when you can make something a lot healthier at home? I will never understand why our nation relies on fast food so much. Yes, it is convenient, and yes, it is cheap, but even with a hectic schedule and a budget, you can still eat healthy and nutritious foods. Eating well should be a priority in people's lives and it saddens me to think about all the people that are so apathetic about what they put into their bodies.

I have been striving to make healthy eating easy and accessible for even the most stubborn of eaters, and I think I may have finally bridged the gap. Introducing: the McDonald's Snack Wrap- Vegetarian Edition!

Boca Burger (cut in thirds), multi-grain wrap, guacamole, red onion, tomato, and sprouts, all rolled up burrito-style. In total, I think this lunch took me about 5-10 minutes to assemble and a lot less to devour it. 

I used a Boca Original Vegan burger, but you could use any kind of meatless burger (like black bean) when creating your own. If you eat fish, you could easily cook up a salmon burger, it would just take you longer. And if you're a carnivore, I would recommend a chicken or turkey burger if the thought of a veggie burger makes you a little nervous. 

My Snack Wrap was pretty unconventional by McDonalds' standards, so if you wanted something a little more traditional, fill your wrap with whatever you would normally put on a burger.

Easy, accessible, fast, and familiar. Now you really don't have an excuse for going through the drive-through when you can make something healthier in the comfort of your own home!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wrap It Up

With being so busy from my new job (manager at a frozen yogurt shop), I've had to make a great effort to make sure I'm still eating right when I'm on the-go.

I got this idea for a snack when I was in need of some food before work.

Veggie Lettuce Wrap

I simply took two big leaves of romaine lettuce (I only used the dark, leafy green parts), spread two tablespoons of hummus in the center of them, and filled the wrap with tomatoes, peppers, onions, broccoli, and alfalfa sprouts. Then all I did was fold it up burrito style and chow down. 

I had lunch earlier than usual, so this was the perfect snack to hold me over until my snack at work (a Kashi bar), and then I would finally eat dinner when I got home around 7:30. 

This snack wrap would also be good with some avocado slices, or some guacamole. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Absolutely Exhausted

I have completely neglected my pretty, little blog these past few days. It's just that I've been so tired that whenever I get free time, I just want to lay around and watch TV. Today is no exception. 

Don't get me wrong, I haven't just been laying around in my pajamas, eating bon-bons, watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I've been busy. Today, I thought was going to be a more relaxing, re-charge kind of day, but it has not turned out that way. 

I woke up totally energized, ate some dry cereal and the best peach I've had all summer, and headed out to the gym. My spirits were so high this morning that I knew I wanted to have a decent run today. I've been cutting back on my running because my knee that bothered me when I was overweight had been acting up. But today I had a nice run during my workout, and even though I really pushed myself, I still had a lot of energy. 

Like I said, I wanted to re-charge today, but after I had my breakfast, a delicious bowl of oatmeal (of course), I realized that I had a project that I needed to get a move on. My mission this summer has been to paint my bedroom furniture that I've had for about 15 years. It use be my mother's from when she was a child, so the set is about 50 years old. I did the night stand about two weeks ago, and today I did the tall chest of drawers. Emptying, cleaning, sanding, painting = exhaustion. My legs are very angry at me for running and then doing physical labor on top of it. Needless to say, I will sleep well tonight. 

But enough about me, this is a healthy living blog! 

Need some ideas for a quick lunch? Well I have two that I made this week that can easily be customized to suit your taste. 

A Taco Salad is always my go-to lunch when I want to get a filing meal in one bowl. 

A salad like this for me usually always includes romaine lettuce (One small head), brown rice (1/4 c. dry), black beans (1/3-1/2 c.), chopped peppers and onions, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheddar (very rarely), cilantro and hot sauce. This salad has so many toppings, there is no need for a dressing, but you could always drizzle it with a little lime juice to moisten it. It's just like getting a burrito bowl at Chipotle (minus all the extra sodium and grease). 

If you're not in the mood for a salad, or you're just a lunch-time sandwich eater, I made a Quick Shrimp Sandwich

This simple and fast sandwich is only 4 cooked shrimp (tails removed), 100 calorie deli flat, guacamole (as a condiment), red onion, tomato, romaine, and crushed red pepper flakes. Including the time it took for me to boil the frozen, raw shrimp, this sandwich took less than 10 minutes to assemble. And the lean protein will keep you satisfied until your afternoon snack or dinner. When I ate this, I also had fresh veggies, a small sweet potato, and a small handful of cherries for dessert. Totally stuffed. 

Something to think about: Do you make sure to get a healthy lunch when you're busy or in a hurry?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

My post-work out breakfast is always oatmeal, but today I decided to switch things up...kind of. 

Last night, I was browsing through Kath's blog (one of my favorites) and I stumbled across a recipe of hers, the Dough Boy Smoothie, and as soon as I stopped drooling, I headed to the kitchen to prepare it. The breakfast is a cross between overnight oats and a smoothie, so I was still going to get my oatmeal fix after the gym. 

Apparently, I was so excited to make the recipe that I misread the instructions. The recipe says to stick all the ingredients in the blender and let it sit in the fridge overnight, to thicken, then blend in the morning. I blended everything the night before, then put the mixture in a bowl in the fridge. Whoopsie! 

I realized this soon after I finished, but I definitely was not going to waste everything to make it again. So I went to bed last night a little nervous because I didn't know what I was going to find the next morning. 

To my surprise, everything in the bowl still thickened like it was suppose to! I was definitely thanking my lucky stars as I headed to the gym. 

When I got home, I emptied the mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and boy, it sure was thick. I live for super thick oatmeal so I was on cloud nine scooping out this new creation. The original recipe says to add more milk in the morning, blend, and serve cold. But I figured, since I already made the recipe my own from the start, I might as well just keep on following my crazy ideas. 

So, I popped my oatmeal in the microwave. And as I heated and stirred, and heated and stirred, I realized that a cake-like texture was beginning to form. This was the final result...

My oatmeal had blueberries and a half of a banana, hence the color. It definitely was no longer a smoothie, but it also wasn't a traditional oatmeal. Therefore, I introduce to you, the delectable, the delicious, the decadent, the Overnight Oatmeal Cake!

I loaded this "cake" up with sweet, salty, and savory toppings, as you can see. By the first bite, I had died and gone to heaven. Toppings include: walnuts, broken-up Kashi dark mocha almond chewy bar, PB2 (with extra water to make it running for drizzling on top), and puffed kamut cereal. Like I said, I'm currently sitting on an oatmeal cloud, blogging this from nirvana. The topping superstars were definitely the Kashi bar, with it's chocolatey goodness, and the slightly salty and melting PB2. I gave myself a pat on the back for that combo. 

Now, if you're on a diet, you may not want to add as many topping as I did because my bowl was a whopping 630 calories (oatmeal cake by itself is 345 calories). But I love having a hearty and filling breakfast that will fuel me for the rest of my day, so if you're just managing your weight like I am, go right ahead and fill-up your bowl. 

Overnight Oatmeal Cake
Adapted from Kath Eats Real Food
  • 1/2 c. Rolled oats, dry
  • 1/3 c. Plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4 c. Milk (I use plain, un-sweetend almond milk)
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1/3-1/2 c. Fruit of choice, or other half of banana 
  • 1 T. Chia seeds, or ground flax seeds (essential for a more cake-like texture)
1. Add all ingredients in a blender, mix, then store overnight in a bowl so it can thicken.
2. The next day, heat the thickened mixture in a bowl until hot.
3. Add toppings and enjoy!

The texture of the oatmeal is a cross between a cooked cake and cake batter. It's not in any way runny like batter, but it also isn't light and fluffy like a cake. This recipe make a very dense, very moist cake. I cannot wait to make this again.

Something to think about: Have you ever made a mistake in the kitchen that turned out to be a miracle?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Experimenting In The Kitchen

When I'm not in a hurry to make a meal, and I have time to plan it out, I usually take more risks and try new combinations.

Yesterday I had to make my dinner in the afternoon so I could re-heat it for later because I was going to be out and wouldn't have time to make my meal later. I knew I wanted to make quinoa with some vegetables, but instead of the same old dinner that I had been making as of late, I wanted to jazz it up a little

TA-DA! Okay, so it just looks like your average bowl of quinoa and vegetables, but there is a teeny-tiny secret ingredient lurking amongst the fluffy quinoa. What is it, you ask? Chia seeds! I usually always add chia to my oatmeal because it gives it more volume, so I feel like I'm eating more without stuffing my face with carbs. 

I cooked the quinoa like I normally do, and then added the soaked chia seeds (1 T chia + 5-6 T water, stirred until gel forms), a few more drops of water, and let that simmer in a pot while I finished cooking the veggies. 

Lemon Chick Pea Quinoa Bowl
  • 1/4 c. Quinoa, dry
  • 1 T. Chia seeds
  • 1/3 c. Chick peas
  • 2 c. Spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. Grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 c. Yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice of
  • 2 t. EVVO, separated
  • Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)

Once your vegetables and chick peas are cooked and seasoned, toss in the quinoa/chia mixture and stir everything together. Add the lemon juice and the remaining teaspoon of olive oil (the other is used for sautéing) and make sure the ingredients have all married together before serving.

Nutrition (makes one serving): Calories: 390, Total fat: 14g, Sat. fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 144mg, Total carbs: 56g, Fiber: 14g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 15g

I was so looking forward to eating this when I got home yesterday, and I have to say, it was really nice to know that dinner was already made when I walked in the door. The chia seeds definitely did their job because I was already getting that full-feeling even before I finished my bowl! The lemon added a nice light flavor, and I highly recommend adding the crushed red pepper because it added just enough zing. I can't wait to add chia seeds to my quinoa all the time now! Seriously, if you've never had them, do yourself a favor a buy a bag off of amazon. You can thank me later.

Something to think about: How often do you switch up your "staple" meals?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Throwin' Hummus, Hummus

No, this dish does not involve throwing hummus, but it does involve eating it!

All summer I have been having an affair with portobello mushrooms. I can be seen sautéing them, steaming, or, my personal favorite, stuffing them. 

Portobellos are one of my new favorite foods because they can be used in a side, or as the entree; they can be cooked quickly if you're in a hurry, or nursed if you have plenty of time on your hands. 

Fast Greek Stuffed Portobellos
Serves two
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, stems and some of the innards removed
  • 1/4 c. Hummus (I used Sabra Tuscan Herb)
  • 1/2 c. Chick peas
  • 1 oz. Crumbled feta
  • 2 T. Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • Basil 
1. In a microwave safe dish, heat the mushrooms for about two minutes, or until enough water has been released. 
2. In a small bowl, mash the chick peas and add the hummus and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix until preferred consistency.
3. Remove mushrooms from the microwave and pat them dry. Divide hummus mixture between the portobellos, top with feta cheese and a pinch of basil. 
4. Heat the finished product in the microwave to warm the hummus and cheese. It should take about 30-45 seconds. Serve when heated to preference. 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total: < 10 minutes

Note: This recipe can also be done completely in the oven at 450 degrees, but it will take much longer.

Nutrition: (One portobello): Calories: 210, Total fat: 8g, Sat. fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 323mg, Total carbs: 24g, Fiber: 9g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 12g

Just looking at this makes me hungry! I think it's time for a snack now...

Something to think about: What's your favorite type of cuisine?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Little Bit of Old & Little Bit of New

Today was a pretty busy day for me. This morning I got up early and went shopping at Brave New World for their 50% off sale with my mom and brother. I was a little weary about going because when I was heavier, I always had a hard time finding clothes that could fit me there and that kind of shopping experience left a bad taste in my mouth for a long time. I always felt out of place whenever I went inside.

Nevertheless, I went because I desperately need clothes, still. Long story short, I found some great clothes! Even two pairs of jeans, which was a shock because finding jeans that could fit both my waist and my thighs and hips is still a problem I have. And I have to say, it was one of the greatest feelings in the world to button those jeans and have them fit like they were made for my body. Never before have a smiled so widely in a dressing room.

In the afternoon I went out to lunch with my friends Regina and Jesse for some much needed catching up. We went to The Beanery, and because I'm a creature of habit (and it was calling my name), I got the same veggie sandwich I got last time. Once again, my tastebuds sang with pleasure!

This talk about my lunch today brings me to the heart of this post—yesterday's lunch.

Now before I tell you what it was, do me a favor and keep an open mind before you read on. If you asked me last year to eat this, I'd probably make a yucky noise and tell you to take a hike. So what changed my mind? After learning about the health benefits of this food, and being in search of something new to try, I knew I just had to try...sardines. Yes, the little fishes that come in a can. And guess what! They were absolutely delicious, and have easily made the list of my favorite healthy foods. I was so nervous that they were going to taste too fishy, or too salty, but I thought they were perfect.

These small fish have an extreme nutritional density. Sardines pack in more healthy fatty acids per ounce than salmon, they're a good source of calcium, are low in mercury, and, like all fish, are a great source of protein.

For those of you that still think I'm crazy: all I'm going to say is, don't knock it until you've tried it.

I used a can of Bumble Bee sardines packed in water for my lunch. And after reading some recipes online, I decided my best bet was to keep it classic and make a sandwich.

Don't let the skin scare you! Sardines are so tender that you can't even tell the difference between the flesh and the skin (they have a texture similar to flounder and tilapia). And the bones that are inside are so small and mushy, it's just like eating the flesh. There's no need to buy boneless and skinless sardines because it's completely safe to eat them, and a lot of the calcium from the sardines comes from those very sources. 

As you can see, I kept my sardines whole, but you can certainly mash them just as if you were making tuna salad. 

My sandwich was open-faced with two slices of Ezekiel bread, one can of sardines packed in water (water must be drained out), spring mix, red onion, mustard, and veganaise. 

My mother thought I was going to hate them, but it was quite the opposite—I am madly in love with sardines. I was actually shocked by how much I enjoyed them. I highly recommend them to anyone. My sandwich was great, but I think next time I'm going to try them in a pasta dish! 

Something to think about: What was the most adventurous thing you've ever eaten?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Cup of Yum

Okay, so it's 3:30 and the hunger pangs have set in. You've already had lunch, and dinner time is hours a way. There can only be only solution: an afternoon snack. I adore a good snack that can keep hunger at bay without making you feel like you've stuffed your face.

Cue the yogurt parfait. Parfaits are fun because you can add whatever you want and you don't feel like you're eating a plain-boring bowl of yogurt. 

The Perfect Parfait
  • 1 c. Plain yogurt (Greek is optional)
  • 1/2 c. Fruit
  • 1/4-1/2 c. Crunchy topping, like granola (I used 1/2 c. puffed wheat)
  • 0.5 oz. Nut topping, optional (I used raw sunflower seeds) 
1. Layer ingredients however you like and dig in!
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total: 2 minutes

This snack can easily be packed in you're own the-go. But if you find yourself like me (salivating over pictures of food on Pintrest), this is the perfect afternoon or morning snack when you're at home. 

Something to think about: What's your go-to snack during the day, or at night?