Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Clean Eating Sweet & Sour Chicken

On my never-ending quest to find recipes that my 4 year old and almost-2 year old will eat, I came across this one in my Clean Eating 2 Cookbook.  Knowing the kids love for pineapple, I figured this one could be a winner.  It does have peppers and onions in it, but that didn't deter me.  We have a "you take one bite" rule in this house.  I've written about my own picky ways and I want my kids to try things even if they don't appear to look all that delicious.  This is one of those recipes that I immediately got kick back from based on looks, but once they both tried it?  Well, a picture speaks a thousand words! He even requested to have it again tonight! Winning :)  

If you aren't ready to make this right away, you can pre-chop your vegetables and marinate the chicken for up to 8 hours before you throw it all together for dinner.  I prepped this on Sunday after letting the chicken marinate on Saturday night. The leftovers are quite tasty so don't hesitate to add this one to your Sunday prep routine.  Also, the marinade in and of itself is pretty awesome and I think I'll be using it again for stir-frys and other Asian-inspired dishes. 

Clean Eating Sweet & Sour Chicken
Serves 6

  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breasts), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 cup) (*I omitted this)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, optional
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken, tossing gently. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and marinade and sauté for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add bell peppers and onion and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender. Add pineapple and cook for 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately over rice for a complete meal, if desired.
Nutrients per serving (1 1/4 cups chicken mixture; not including rice): Calories: 161, Total Fat: 1.5 g, Sat. Fat 0.25 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.25 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5 g, Carbs: 17 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 13 g, Protein: 21 g, Sodium: 404 mg, Cholesterol: 48 mg 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clean Eating Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole

Food prep was a lot of fun this past Sunday! I prepped 3 new recipes in hopes of trying some new things to add to my weekly arsenal of good eats.  This one I prepared ahead of time on Sunday and covered it up and stored in the fridge for dinner last night.  It was a total hit! The kids loved it, the hubs loved it and I loved it as well. We call that a win in our house :) 

You can also double this batch to use up the ground beef and an entire package of pasta. I opted to use the 6 oz of lean beef that the recipe called for and then just browned the remaining beef with some onion and garlic for easy grab and go for salads, wraps and other things this week.  

I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but you can see it there in my prep pic.  If you are following me on Instagram, you've already seen this photo. If you're not following me, please do as I post pics of my prep and other goodies throughout the week!

Clean Eating Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole 
Serves 6:  263 Calories 7g Fat 15g Protein 

cooking spray
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti noodles (8oz)
2 cloves garlic
1 c fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 oz Parmigiano-Regiano cheese, finely grated, divided
1/3 c low fat cottage cheese
6oz extra lean ground beef
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 Tbsp skim milk
1/4 c finely diced red onion
2.5c jarred strained and crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf

(Note: the recipe doesn't call for salt or pepper, but I recommend adding a bit to the sauce to zesty it up!)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly mist an 11c casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely chopped. Add basil and pulse again. Add oil and half parmesan cheese. Pulse until well blended. Remove 1 Tbsp basil mixture and reserve in a medium bowl. Add cottage cheese to food processor and process until smooth and blended.

3. Add beef, wheat germ, and milk to bowl with reserved basil mixture and  mix gently until blended. Form mixture into rounded teaspoon size meatballs (24 in total). Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Mist skillet with cooking spray and add meatballs and onion. Cook, turning occasionally, until meatballs are browned and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to skillet, reduce heat to medium and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

4. Spoon 3/4c tomato meatball mixture into bottom of prepared casserole dish. Toss spaghetti with remaining mixture and transfer half of it to the casserole dish. Dot top layer of noodles with half of basil mixture then cover with remaining spaghetti mixture. Dot top layer of noodles with remaining basil mixture and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to cook until top is browned, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

On Loving Yourself

At the very end of this week I will celebrate another birthday.  One more year of growing older and maybe a little wiser.  As I was getting ready this morning, it was hard not to notice the lines around my eyes and mouth; the saggy skin from growing 2 humans from a tiny speck; the way my hair is slowly fading into a light blonde gray.  I'm peeking peaking into my mid-30's and it's starting to show. The age.  The years. And then I look again.  My smile is still bright and shiny; my teeth straight from the braces I wore almost 25 years ago.  My hair is long and flowing down my back.  My skin while saggy and wrinkle-prone is still full of youth and dewy sheen.  I am a woman. A mother now. Maturing and growing up and still ready to pick at my own flaws.  Why is it that we do this? I know it's not just me.  So many women are constantly at war with themselves, nitpicking every nook and cranny of their wonderful being. But there's so much more, I tell myself. So much more to LOVE.  

I remember when I started my weight loss journey so many years ago and all that I wanted to was to be happy in my own skin.  To look in the mirror and love what I saw. I was much younger by the years then; much harder on myself.  I wondered what might happen if I lost the weight and even if I found that magazine-ideal, what would I feel INSIDE? Would I be HAPPY? What I've learned is that happiness has to begin on the inside.  You can't expect that losing the weight will somehow fix what is going on between your ears.  We can be our best cheerleader or our best critic. It's a choice each day how we speak to ourselves.  I remember several years ago I shared a video in a blog post here about ending FAT TALK.  (I encourage you to watch the video there) If I dial my brain back a bit, I feel like this was a turning point in my journey not only to get healthy for good, but to love myself exactly how I am in each and every moment.  Each and every? Really, you ask? YES.  If you don't love yourself at 230 pounds, you aren't going to find happiness at 160 pounds either. It's got to start inside of you first before the outside can start to develop and take it's shape.  Otherwise, we're just constantly at war with ourselves and how much fun is that? Yeah, not so fun.  The cycle will only repeat until you decide that you are okay with who you are RIGHT NOW.  If you can't find anything that you're loving about yourself, ask your friends, your husband or your family.  I can bet you they will be able to point out a million non-physical traits that make up a perfect, unique version of YOU.  Don't try to be anything other than that right now. Just be YOU.  Embrace yourself, your flaws--both physical and internal, your beauty and your strength. As Angie Gooding recently said, "There's nothing wrong with working toward having a body you're proud of. However, problems arise if you believe this ideal body will bring you happiness exclusively or when the pursuit of the body you desire becomes an unhealthy fixation."  There is no exclusive happiness in an ideal body!
In my yoga practices, there comes a point after doing a certain pose or inversion where the instructor tells you to give yourself a big hug.  You know, grab your knees while laying down and squeeze!!! hard.  Even if that's what you need to do today, do it.  Walk into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I love you."  Then, give yourself a big ole' hug.  I know, it sounds wild, but if you can't love on yourself, how can anyone else possibly love you?  You're worthy of your own self-love. 

As I step into another year on this Earth, I'm thankful for those that love me---flaws, quirks and the whole mess included.  However, I'm even more thankful for the understanding that it's okay, no, not just okay, that's it's NECESSARY to love who I am at any stage in my life. Unconditional Love of Myself.  None of what you are seeking on your healthy journey can compare to finding true love with yourself. Inside and out; beauty and flaws and the whole mess that makes up your unique self. It's worth it.  You are worth it.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Training Tidbits

I talk so much about food here and I realized that I haven't written much about my current training program or about my big 2013 goal! I'm currently running a Facebook accountability group and I post a lot of my workouts and other things up in that group as well.  It's time to share here!

2012 was a year filled with the Les Mills Pump program at home (2 rounds) followed by a little running and another round of ChaLEAN Extreme. When January hit, I had already committed to a huge goal for 2013.  My first triathlon.  I'm a swimmer through-and-through after many years of competing but it was something I hadn't focused on in a long time. I figured why not go big or go home in 2013 and committed to this (huge) goal. The triathlon is on July 20 so I still feel as though I have some time before I hit up my training hard.  January and February have been committed to swimming, running, spin classes and strength circuits.  I've taken my focus away from the in-home programs I have grown to love to focus on this endurance goal.  As I head into Spring and the summer, my workouts will continue to reflect the swim/bike/run mantra with a couple of days of lifting in there as well.  I've built up some nice lean muscle and I'd like to continue getting stronger while also working on my endurance.  

This is an example of my week:  

I often get asked how I get it all done.  How can I work a full-time job, take care of 2 kids, keep the house running and on and on.  I get it.  I understand that it seems like a lot to handle for a working Mom of 2 and I'm not going to lie and say that it's easy. I am fortunate to have flexibility at my job, a husband that goes above and beyond at home and a network of supportive friends and family that encourage me daily.

There's one thing I've learned since I committed to changing my life some 20 months ago.  Nothing worth having comes easy.  If you want it, you'll get after it and if you don't, well it sure is easy to find an excuse.  I was sick of taking the easy way out like I did for so many years.  When you commit to the lifestyle, it's a change in mindset that goes far beyond losing the weight.  It goes even farther beyond keeping the weight off.  It's in my soul that I am going to wake up each morning and get up and live my best life.  God gave me this body and it's up to me to put it to use everyday in the way He intended.  I can no longer imagine going through life without seeing the strength and amazing things that my body can do.  I'm living it and most importantly, I'm LOVING it! No time tables, no end in sight, just everyday doing what I know needs to be done to stay healthy and fit for many years to come.

If you have questions for me, are interested in joining my Facebook accountability group or would like to contact me at all, please click that button to your right and send me a line! I'd love to help in anyway that I can.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crockpot Italian Sloppy Joes (and further proof that the kids love FoodPrep too!)

Wow. Over 2 weeks since my last blog?? I seem to start writing posts and then there they sit in 'draft' form and I never finish them. Aye! Kind of like the 4 books I'm reading concurrently right now. :/  Ah well, it's been a busy February, but I hope to not go that long without posting again in 2013! (You can always stay connected with me via Instagram and Facebook, too!)

Today's post is another Food Prep Sunday favorite that I've adapted from... where else? Skinnytaste, of course! (I swear I make other recipes, but Gina's food photography gets me every time! Such pretty foodie pics.)  Plus, I know the family will always eat whatever I make from her website. She has a family of her own and her recipes are family-tested and approved which is encouraging when you're dealing with 2 semi-picky eaters.   This dish is another crockpot favorite and you can either used store-bought Sweet Italian Sausage or make your own from the Skinnytaste recipe below. 

I decided to make my own on Sunday after making this recipe previously with the store-bought links.  The homemade was delightful! We served this recipe over spaghetti squash "noodles" that I also prepped on Sunday.  A wonderful, delicious, healthy meal that the entire family can enjoy! The proof is in the picture here :) Cece most-definitely approves! 

Homemade Italian Turkey Sausage

Servings: 5 • Serving Size: 1/5th
Calories: 129.4 • Fat: 6.1 g • Protein: 16.7 g • Carb: 2.2 g • Fiber: 0.4 g • Sugar: 1.3
Sodium: 180.6

  • 1.25 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (I use "Budapest's Best" Sweet Hungarian Paprika)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/8 tsp dried marjoram leaves
  • 1/4 tsp dried fennel
  • 1 tsp sugar 
Combine turkey, garlic and spices and mix well using your hands.

You can form them into patties or use this in recipes where sausage is called for. 


 Crock Pot Italian Sloppy Joe

  • 1 lb Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing OR use entire recipe above
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
For serving:
  • 6 whole wheat 100 calorie potato rolls**
  • 6 slices reduced fat provolone (Sargento)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • OR 1 hefty cup of cooked spaghetti squash "noodles"
In a medium non-stick skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up as it cooks into small bits until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Add onions and garlic, and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker and add the bell peppers, crushed tomatoes, rosemary and fresh cracked pepper.
Cover and cook on low 4 hours. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

To serve, place heaping 1/2 cup of meat on a roll and if desired, top with cheese and baby spinach.
Makes 6 servings.
**Use gluten-free bread to make this gluten-free.