Monday, April 30, 2012

Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers

So, you're probably thinking... when did this become a recipe blog?? HA! Well, that was never my intention but since prepping my food each week has become such a large part of my weight loss success, I figure I might as well share what I'm eating!

With that said, in the coming weeks I will be blogging less food and more LIFE so get ready for the ride! ;)

First, I want to share a recipe I've been sitting on for 2 years now! The date stamp on the bottom of the page says I printed it on 4/19/10.  It's from Whole Living aka Martha Stewart and is now a family favorite. Yes, family!! I'm always seeking out new recipes to feed this crowd and this one is sure to be repeated!  My 1 year old completely devoured her entire burger and the 3 year old turned up his nose at first and then happily dug in.  Amazing!

The best part about these is that you can prepare (and not cook) them up to a day in advance and then cover and refrigerate until you're ready to eat them. 

Photo credits to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers

Serves 4

1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
1 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
6 scallions, thinly sliced
15 oz great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon ground cumin
coarse salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 pitas (6 inches each)
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally

In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil: add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed about 12 to 14 minutes. Set aside 

In a food processor (You will definitely need a 7+ cup processor for this recipe), pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add quinoa, half the scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Pulse until combined but still chunky.

Form mixture into 4, 3/4-inch-thick patties. If too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes to firm.  In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook burgers until browned and cooked through about 8 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice and the remaining scallion; season with salt and pepper. Serve burgers in pita topped with cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick Sesame Teriyaki Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps

This recipe comes from one of Jonny Bowden's cookbooks, The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes On Earth. I've been a big fan of Jonny and his cookbooks ever since I started getting serious about my health 5 years ago.  I urge you all to check him out! 
The picture doesn't do this one justice, but you get the idea.  I am no food photographer that is for certain! But I can assure you that everything I post here has been taste-approved by me and my entire family.  Even the almost-1-year-old was a fan of this one! The leftovers were just as delicious as eating it straight from the crockpot.  I highly recommend this high protein, low carb, low calorie meal.  It's a winner!

Quick Sesame Teriyaki Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps

Servings: 6

3/4 cup high quality, low-sugar prepared teriyaki sauce 
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 package slaw mix (broccoli, carrots and cabbage)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 small head red-leaf or Bibb lettuce

In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce, water and ginger.  Lay the chicken thighs in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour the sauce evenly over the top.  Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and very tender. Shred the chicken with two forks and add the slaw mix.  Stir and combine, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir in the sesame seeds and serve over individual lettuce leaves.  


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork

In an effort to clean up our diet even more than we already have, I went on the hunt for some new cookbooks.  What I found were a handful of really great, clean eating cookbooks. 2 of those are for slow-cooker recipes only.  This particular recipe is from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker aka Tiffany from The Gracious Pantry.  I love Tiffany's blog and this recipe does not disappoint!! I wish I had a picture to share, but just imagine you are looking at any ole' BBQ Pulled Pork picture.  This one looks the same but I can assure you the taste is nothing like what you've had from a store-bought sauce. The taste is out of this world!  Delish!! 

BBQ Pulled Pork from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker

Servings: 8

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce, no sugar added (I used Meijer Organics brand)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 top pork loin chops (I used a 2.5 lb pork tenderloin)

In your slow cooker insert, mix together ingredients except for the chops/loin.  This will create the barbecue sauce.  Please note this makes a lot of sauce.  If you feel it's too much, simply save some of it for another use.  Do not reduce by more than half.  (NOTE: I did not reduce it and found it to be a perfect amount for my 2.5 pound loin). Place the chops in the sauce. Cover, and cook on low 4-6 hours or until internal temperature of meat reaches at least 165'.  Meat should easily pull apart when done.  

*I serve this on either a Rudi's Whole Wheat Sandwich Flat or an Ezekial Hamburger Bun.  It's absolutely delicious, filling, high in protein and low in calories. WIN!! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Food Prep Sunday

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers, Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes, Quick Sesame Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps, BBQ Pork, Pineapple, Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread, Cantaloupe, Celery, Grapes and Cucumbers

Another Sunday = prep day!!  I love it! <3

I've been going through my cupboards this past week in an effort to 'clean' things up a bit.  We are pretty good about eating clean, 75% of the time, but it's those little things that lurk that I wanted to get rid of.  One of them being high-fructose corn syrup.  It's in everything!! The vanilla extract you bake with?? The soy sauce you season with? It's EVERYWHERE.  I ended up ditching marinades, sauces, extracts and anything else with a long ingredient list.   I also decided to check the expiration dates on my spices. WHOA.  We've lived in this house for 6 years and I had spices that have traveled houses! YIKES! I got rid of the old, made a list and now we have a beautifully stocked spice cabinet.   

I also picked up a few new 'clean eating' cookbooks.  I tried 2 new recipes and so far they're winners.  They are both crockpot recipes since I seem to be obsessed with slow cooking lately.  BBQ Pulled Pork and Quick Sesame Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps.  The Lettuce Wraps are from "The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes On Earth" cookbook.  I have another one of Jonny Bowden's cookbooks and neither one disappoints!  The BBQ Pork is from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker, which is the new cookbook by Tiffany from The Gracious Pantry. I love Tiffany's blog and her cookbook is great, too! I'll share the recipes later on this week.  

If you haven't checked out the Black Eyed Peas with Ham recipe, make sure you do! I made it on Friday and as I sit here on Sunday night, the entire batch is GONE.  This family devoured it!

After a nice relaxing weekend I'm looking forward to another fabulous week.  Make it a great one, folks!

Fergie-less Black Eyed Peas

:D Yes, these black eyed peas are without mediocre vocals, I promise!

I found this recipe while perusing Skinny Taste, which just so happens to be my new favorite recipe blog.  Oh, Gina...she's got so many great ideas and I've been pinning her creations a lot this week.

This particular recipe caught my eye for a few reasons.  For one, I'm recently obsessed with my slow cooker.    (You'll see more of that in my prep post later on)  Secondly, my kids love beans. And while Black Eyed Peas might sound like a "pea" they are definitely a bean.  Charlie and Cece are big fans and I'm always happy to serve beans because of their broad nutritional profile.  This recipe does have ham in it which is also a bonus with the kids.  Meat is not #1 on the list with either so I welcome the opportunity to sneak it in.  :) Also, this recipe is versatile! You can adjust the heat to your liking. Go for the jalapeño, jack up the chili powder and feel the heat! Add more veggies if you wish. Leave out the ham. Play around with it and have fun! It tastes a lot like white chili...but with a TWIST! Serve it as a soup by itself or over brown rice.

My kids LOVE it and so do we! It's low in calories and fat, high in folate and a good source of protein.  WIN!

Slow Cooked Black Eyed Peas with Ham  (from Skinny Taste)

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 161.4 • Fat: 1.6 g • Protein: 9.3 g • Carb: 29.2 g • Fiber: 6.7 g

8 oz. smoked lean ham steak, diced
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and trimmed (I left this out because I am serving it to my kids)
1 tomato, diced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste

Soak peas overnight in 6 cups of water. The next morning, drain peas and add to slow cooker. Add 4 cups of water, bay leaves and ham. Cover and cook on high 6 hours or until the beans are tender.

After 6 hours, in a large frying pan, add oil and sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and tomato until soft, about 6 minutes. Add to the slow cooker and season black eyed peas generously with salt, cumin, chili powder and black pepper. Cover and cook on high 1 to 1 1/2 more hours. Discard bay leaves and serve. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A new week, a new plan!

Food prep was pretty low-key yesterday. We had such a busy day with Easter festivities, egg hunts and just enjoying each other on a beautiful Spring day.  I planned around that and as a result we have a fairly basic meal plan for the week.  I ended up doing Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread, Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes, Hot Chicken and Broccoli Slaw Salads. I chopped fruits and veggies and steamed some carrots for the kids. We have plans to use the grill 2 nights this week for fish and steaks. I like easy-going weeks in the kitchen!  Next week I have plans to try a few new recipes that I'm excited to share here.

Today also marked Day 1 of our 2nd round of Les Mills' Pump.  We started Pump on January 1st when the program was first released by Beachbody. Our results from Round 1 were awesome! I lost another 8 pounds and 13 inches!! My legs and rear-end are firmer than ever and my waistline is shrinking.  I was able to buy a pair of pants in a very unfamiliar size the other day! We are enjoying it too much to stop now, so Round 2 here we go! We weren't great about taking our pictures last time so this morning we woke a little early and snapped photos, stepped on the scale and took our measurements.  It's always daunting to do this at the beginning of any workout program but I have learned that having the pictures and measurements to look back on later is a huge motivator to KEEP GOING!  As I get closer to my goal weight the scale isn't moving at such a rapid pace anymore. This is where the measurements come into play.  Losing inches is what matters MOST, so I like to keep my focus on that instead of the scale loss. 

We are also continuing our 5k training as well as taking a Sunday outdoor bootcamp that lasts 7 weeks. In June I'm heading to Ohio for a weekend camp with my Phit-N-Phat girls.  I'm excited, but I've got to prepare for that weekend of getting my butt-kicked :) 

Also, being the uber-geek that I am, I decided to laminate our schedule for the next 90 days.  There is something very satisfying about checking off each workout as you complete them.  As you can see, Day 1 is DONE!  Laminating machines and dry-erase markers make me happy! Wheeeee!! :D

(If you are wondering what Kia Kaha means, that's a Māori term meaning Be Strong.  It's used by the Les Mills' folks (as Pump originated in New Zealand) and it's a term that has become familiar around our house, too.) 

Have a great week and KIA KAHA!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

We are tuckered out over here!! Charlie skipped his nap in lieu of some Easter egg hunt fun with his cousins.  We got home this afternoon and I asked him if he wanted to head into bed with me to lay down and watch some TV.  Without hesitation, he obliged my offer :)  

We meandered upstairs and got comfy under the covers.  It didn't take long before both of us were sleeping. I looked up after a nice nap and realized that this was the first time in a LONG time where my buddy has actually slept next to me.  I picked up my phone and snapped a quick photo.  His breath and his movements were so soft and peaceful.  Those of you that know kids, especially 3.5 year old's know that peace and quiet are hard to come by! It was such a sweet moment for me...and even more special on Easter Sunday. I am SO wonderfully blessed and today was a beautiful reminder of that. 

Plum Tuckered Charlie

This picture made me laugh out loud. Taking family pictures is getting much more difficult as both kids get older.  Out of the large set we took this was the best shot.  Hey, at least 50% of us are paying attention, right?? ;)
  I'll get back to my food prep and plan of action tomorrow!  

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

Another Sunday, another day of prepping our food for the week!  This week's food prep was pretty easy-going as I have some fish and a flank steak planned this week.  Both of those items take very little time to prepare, so today was focused on chopping fruits and veggies and making a few other breakfast and lunch staples for our week. 
Above you will see red/orange peppers, pineapple, cucumbers, strawberries and grapes.  For the main dishes, I did 12x Crockpot 3 Bean Turkey Chili from SkinnyTaste, Turkey, Spinach and Feta burgers and Breakfast Egg Muffins from Kalyn's Kitchen.  

The egg muffins were SO easy.   I chopped up some onion, green, red and orange pepper and sauteed it for a bit.  I diced up some lean ham and some cooked turkey sausage.  I did 6 cups with ham and 6 with sausage.  I added a little sprinkle of cheese and then the egg mixture.  What an easy, delicious, grab-and-go breakfast!! These will be especially great for my little ones. 
I have some tomatoes and a red onion from last week's Doorganics delivery.  I also have a 2 lb. flank steak from our farmer that's been in my deep freeze for a few months. In my effort to clear out my deep freezer for the upcoming summer stock-up, I decided to try this Grilled Flank Steak with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic recipe.  It seems to be a perfect recipe for these mild Spring evenings.  I'll report back and let you known how it was!

Have a great week and as always, leave your questions in the comments :)