Beginning Anew

Standard

So it has been almost a year since I have posted. I stopped shortly before returning to college for my senior year, and after a whirlwind, crazy, wonderful year, I have decided to jump back on the bandwagon and start again! I’ve been thinking on it for a few months, and I have truly missed sharing the activities I enjoy with any of you readers out there! (I’m looking at you, mom).

I joined a gym today near my work – Steuben Athletic Club. I am hoping that it is a good fit, so far it seems to be – it was the only option even remotely close to my commute with options for classes (boo, Planet Fitness, for not having an upgradable package that includes group classes!). Bright side, this gym is two blocks from my workplace! ((No Excuses now))

There’s a variety of classes offered, and I am going to pick up the self-defense class, the PiYo class and the Spin class – they meet on random days, at 6:30 am, 12 pm or 5:30 pm. I’ll be sure to post any tips that I gather! Also my fit friend Oorin is sending me Insanity, which I can do on the Squash courts of the gym it seems no one uses.

After registering for the gym, I was feeling particularly health-minded, and as such I stopped at the grocery store with the intention of making dinner for my family. This requires calling every family member to ensure that they come home and aren’t already planning a meal! It is nice to enjoy their company at dinner time – it is a comforting feeling, akin to being an (adorable) kid again.

Stephanie, my beautiful sister, who I am grooming to be as much of a house wifey as I am, was enlisted after coming home from the office to help me prepare dinner. She’s a natural.

Oven-Baked Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Bulgur

accompanied by a lovely homemade pesto sauce made by Stephanie, with basil grown by my dad. Serves 4 – I tend to not measure when cooking – leave that to baking and have fun!

1 ½ pounds of salmon fillets – (I bought 2 pounds, but my mom and I aren’t huge salmon eaters [we’re trying!] so we had a half pound of leftover fillets I didn’t even bother cooking – freezing for another time!)

1 cup of Bulgur – originally I was searching for quinoa pasta – couldn’t find it in the grocery store – so I resorted to quinoa – couldn’t find that – and then said ScReW it and tried this foreign grain – turns out we all love it and were planning what recipes it would be perfect for – healthier addition to meatballs than bread or breadcrumbs, sub for rice in stuffed peppers, etc.)

1 pound of Asparagus Spears

1 Lemon

Olive Oil

Fresh Basil – about 2 cups

Garlic (4 cloves or 1 tsp garlic powder – this amount is reliant upon your love of fresh garlic or the powdered variety – it is only going into pesto)

Pine Nuts (1/4 cup)

Shredded Parmesan Cheese (probably about a quarter of a cup)

Dill and Thyme (Fresh or dried – I use dried, did not measure, just make sure to put enough to satisfactorily season the outside surfaces of the fillets)

Salt and Pepper

Optional: Lemon Balsamic Vinegar from Saratoga Olive Oil Co.

                 Your favorite wine (Our light bodied merlot stood up just fine to the grainy bulgar and the meaty consistency of the salmon)

-Make pesto by combining the garlic, basil, pine nuts, cheese, salt and pepper in a food processor with enough olive oil drizzled in to give a thick, cohesive consistency. Set aside.

-Combine 1 cup bulgur with 2 cups cold water into pot. Bring to boil, once boiling reduce to a simmer (low on our stove), put lid on and set timer for 15 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees

-Wash asparagus and chop off ends – discard. Cut into bite size pieces and place in foil lined baking dish. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon balsamic (or lemon juice and a little balsamic vinegar does the same thing). Toss to coat and then toss in oven. (I also put the remnants of lemon in the top of the dish – why not)

-Leave skin on salmon fillets and cut into individual portions if not already done in store. A serving of meat should be around the size of your palm.

-Place salmon fillets in glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, dill and thyme. Toss to coat both flesh side and skin side. (Leaving skin on keeps nutrients – your choice to actually eat the skin or not). Place lemon slices on top of each fish portion and then pop in oven next to asparagus.

-Cook for 14-16 minutes.

-Around this time, bulgur should be finished. Remove lid, turn off heat, fluff with fork, put in a little butter/butter substitute/olive oil/nothing/a light dressing and salt and pepper. Recover and let sit until you’re ready to serve dinner.. it’ll be fine.

          *Directions said to drain any excess water – I did not have any excess)

          *After cooking, I realized that we could have foregone the extra fat from butter by substituting vegetable or chicken broth for the water. It would lend delicious flavor. (we only used 2 pats of butter in the bulgur – half a pat per person and it was rich and smooth)   

-Once time on the oven is up, check to make sure fish is cooked (light pink color and oh so flaky) (if unsure that it is completely cooked, one could heed my sister’s advice that no one cares if it is a little under done .. ‘duh what do you think sushi is?’)

-Serve and enjoy! The pesto originally was meant to go on the salmon, but with the lemon and herbs it did not need it. it was a wonderful, welcome side all on its own – it was good with the quinoa. Save the leftovers and use on a turkey sandwich .. trust Stephanie and I on this one.

-This meal is rich in omega 3 fatty acids from the olive oil and the salmon, antioxidants from the fresh herbs and lemon, and whole grain goodness from the bulgur.

I hope you enjoy this healthy, well rounded meal as much as we did! It’s good to be back.

❤ Jill

Advertisements

Lunch

Standard

Follow up to my post about healthy wraps, I logged in on my lunch break to share what I’ve made myself because it is super filling, tastes So refreshing and delicious, and it is healthy!

Whole Wheat Hummus Wrap

Hummus, 1.5 tbsp 35 3 2 2 Remove
1 Med. Green Bell Pepper, 0.4 serving 12 3 0 0 Remove
Mesclin,Mixed greens, Baby Spring Mix (salad with spinach, etc.), 1.5 cup 8 2 0 0 Remove
Hannaford American Cheese Singles, 1 serving 60 2 5 3 Remove
Almonds, 0.1 cup, slivered 62 2 5 2 Remove
10″ Whole Wheat Tortilla Wrap, 1 serving 170 28 4 4 Remove
Lunch TOTALS: calories: 347 carbs:40 fat:16 protein:12

*(I actually think the wraps I bought are 140 calories, not 170. I just chose the wrap they have listed as I am too lazy to insert my own.)

*I also sprinkled on my steak seasoning I’ve mentioned in posts before. I use it on everything, it makes anything taste really yummy. Obsesseddd . It is McCormick Perfect Pinch Steak Seasoning.

I cut and pasted the nutrition information from my nutrition tracker on SparkPeople.Com. I’ll keep plugging Spark People because now that I’ve gotten used to using it, I LOVE it. It holds me more accountable for my meals and is a great resource for any questions you may have or if you need reassurance during a time of weakness.

TTFN!

You look like a Female Bodybuilder.

Standard

Well, not quite. But doing the regular circuit for arms at Planet Fitness is leaving the tops of my shoulders (ahem … the Trapezius muscles) starting to look bulky. So I looked into it, and there’s specific exercises you can do to femininely tone your arms into looking like a perma-chicken winged pic. I’ve included some examples so you understand what I’m referencing. My friends have perfected the sexy chicken wing, as you can see. Sidenote: I find it unbelievable the ability my girls have in executing a perfect skinny-arm even when ghost face wasted.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now, for some toning, not bulking, tips so we don’t look like this:
 

I talked about this a little bit in the Victoria’s Secret regimen post. Their trainers forbid them from doing any sort of resistance training, as it adds bulk. They focus much more on exercises that stretch the muscle out while toning – like specific cardio and particularly Pilates. If you are looking to tone all over, it seems Pilates is the thing to do. My new yoga studio (Heartspace on Madison Ave. in Albany! $10 per excruciating class for students!) offers a PiYo class on the weekends, and I am thinking of going to one of those. (Pilates and Yoga Combo).

Since we are all not Victoria’s Secret models, there are some arm exercises we can do, on machines or off, that tones our arms in the feminine way we are looking for. Push ups are great for this, however it is hard for many girls (i.e. me) to do pushups. You can do these on the wall or “modified” with the knees down until you build up some strength. Diamond pushups are supposed to be exceptionally good. (Make your indexes and thumbs form a diamond on the floor). Another exercise you can do is rowing. The rowing machine at my gym is one of my favorite ones, and it also builds back muscles, something I look for because of my scoliosis.

One more is a chest press. Lying on your back, choose 2 8 pound weights. Put your arms out to either side, and bent (coincidentally, probably at the chicken wing angle). Inhale as you bring your arms up over your head, and exhale to return them to your side. 2 reps of 15.

My friend Ali and myself did this one to prepare for prom our junior years in high school: Overhead Triceps Extensions – Stand upright, with you feet shoulder width apart. Hold your dumbbell directly above your head with arm fully extended. Clasp elbow with free hand for support. Slowly let your elbow fold so the dumbbell is lowered behind your head. Extend your arm back to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps and switch arms.

Do you have any tone arm tips? Share!

Chicken Stir Fry

Standard

Stir fry’s are a great meal to make, because you can make a large amount for a healthy meal, and then have leftovers a a brown bag lunch until you use it all. I made this chicken stir fry monday night, and had it for lunch tuesday and wednesday. Today I have an avocado spinach salad that I’m looking forward to.

3 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into chunks

1/2 Squash, peeled and cut into chunks

~20 Asparagus stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into inch long pieces

2 handfuls of snow peas, washed with ends cut off, then sliced in half

1 bell pepper, “

Sesame seeds

Garlic and Onion

Bag of whole wheat rice

Soy Sauce

Red pepper flakes

salt, pepper

*We have this Yoshida’s asiany-teriyaki sauce at my house that is unbelievably delicious, but full of sugar. I put around 1 tbsp. in as an indulgence and I do not regret it one bit 😉

(I also bought pineapple chunks to put into this, but I ended up not using them as a game time decision. I’m sure they’d be great, I’d just probably omit the squash and red pepper flakes.)

-Put chicken into skillet/wok with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, cook on medium-high heat until almost all done.

-At the same time, cook rice. Follow package directions – there are just so many kinds.

-When rice is cooked, pour into serving bowl and set aside.

-Add the asparagus into chicken and let cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.

-Then add all remaining ingredients into skillet/wok, save the liquid.

-Keep stirring quickly for around 7-8 minutes, making sure all the vegetables are getting completely cooked. 

-Add liquid – I used probably 2-3 tbsp of low sodium soy sauce. Let it bubble until the chicken all looks like it has soaked up soy sauce – probably around 3-4 minutes

-Pour on top of rice and enjoy!

-I thought at my new office we had a microwave, so I could reheat this meal. However, on Tuesday I realized it was a toaster oven so I would not be reheating. It was so satisfying cold that I had it again the next day.

Stuffed Turkey Peppers

Standard

Stuffed bell peppers are BOMB. I made them for my dad and myself for dinner tonight, and it fits into the low carb lifestyle he lives. If you’ve never had them before, or if you’ve had the traditional with ground beef and rice – try mine with ground turkey and sans rice! They are so full of flavor you wouldn’t even know how great they are for you. I made them with my dad’s homemade pasta sauce, which made them even better, however if you use store bought they won’t be worse for the wear. Also, don’t be afraid of different spices – they add a lot of flavor in the absence of fat.

Stuffed Turkey Peppers

Serves 2

1/2 pound ground turkey

7 ladles-full of red sauce

1/2 of  a medium sized zucchini

1/2 of a medium sized yellow squash

2 green bell peppers

3 cups of baby spinach or regular spinach – I used baby because it was what we had

2 tbsp grated part-skim mozzarella

1 tbsp. olive oil

PAM

Sage, Oregano, Rosemary, Tarragon, Salt, Pepper

Either minced onion and garlic or powdered.

Chopping board, knife, 2 mixing bowls, skillet, spatula, baking dish.

 

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Carve tops off of bell peppers and clean seeds out. Make sure the top of the bell peppers are sliced clean off, so that the opening is as big as possible. Reserve edible part of the top and chop it up – put into a bowl.

-Take spinach and chop into small shreds – put into same bowl. Peel zucchini and squash, chop up and put into bowl.

-Put the bell pepper cups in the baking dish, sprayed with PAM. Cover with foil and put into oven to pre-cook for 15/20 minutes.

-Put skillet on medium. Spray with PAM, put turkey in. Work on breaking up with spatula while it cooks, so it is in little crumbles when it is done cooking – about 10 minutes.

-Push turkey into a bowl, in the same skillet put the olive oil, heat up and pour in bowl of veggies.

-Add spices in. I didn’t measure…

-Cook for 5-6 minutes, until it really starts CoOkIn. Put red sauce in skillet, stir it all together. Get it bubbling for a couple of minutes, then put ground turkey back in and stir.

-After a couple minutes all together, when the mixture begins to cook down, take a spoonful and do a taste test. Adjust spicing as needed.

-Take bell peppers out, and ladle the mixture into peppers. Fill to brim, and any extra just pour into the bottom of the baking dish. (*Save this at the end of the meal, if you wish, and have for a brown bag lunch the next day over rice. Yum!)

-Sprinkle a tbsp. of cheese on top of each pepper. Put foil back on top.

-Put into oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

-Take out, remove foil and enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Stoup

Standard

Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it makes up for it.

I just made such a yummy summer meal and I wanted to share it. I made a lot thinking we could have the leftovers as a side dish tonight for dinner… But I legit just
downed the entire thing! It was that good. I always said I hated zucchini growing
up, and I truthfully had never tried it. I love cooking with it now and making it
as delicious as I can – to make up for lost time.
Summer Vegetable Stoup
Rachael Ray coined this phrase I believe, and I greatly enjoy and support condensing two words into one. Mines more of a liquidy dish though, like it should be eaten with a spork (yes! Another one.) Wanna know my favorite? Legiterally.
Ok here’s the recipe.
Probably feeds 2 people as a meal.. Or if you just had my appetite 1 person, haha.

1 zucchini (peeled or unpeeled, I couldn’t decide so I partially peeled it.)
Half container cherry tomatoes
2 small potatoes, peeled
Some onion – I minced mine but you could leave it in big pieces too – up to you
1 clove garlic, minced
Bay leaf
EV Olive Oil
Water/chicken broth/veggie broth (whatever you have on hand .. broth/water mixture gave great flavor)
Salt, pepper, oregano, really whatever seasoning you like. I used a bunch. We have this delicious steak seasoning that’s kind of all purpose and has a bunch of spices in it already so I put that in about half of every meal I make..addicted.

-Chop potatoes and zucchini into chunks. Set aside.
-Put a little olive oil in skillet on medium. Just enough to cover the bottom.
-Chop up garlic and onion.
-Put them into skillet and cook for a bit.
-Add potatoes and let them chill out for about 5 minutes.
-After this, add zucchini, seasonings, bay leaf
-Pour about a cup of liquid in. Could do more or less depending on whether you’re
looking to eat out of a dish or a bowl. If you use more get a bigger skillet.
-Put top on and simmer on medium for 15 or so minutes..Until everything is cooked thru.
-Pour cherry tomatoes in and disperse thru out.
-Put cover back on for a minute or two, until the tomatoes burst open.
-Remove bay leaf + enjoy!

Easy right? You can add anything in you want! Could make it heartier with sliced
chicken breast..if we had bell peppers or carrots or peas they for sure would’ve
gone in..you can always omit the potatoes if you’re making solely for a side dish.

Eat your veggies!!

Healthy Breakfast and Lunch Wraps

Standard

I made a yummy breakfast wrap this morning, and I got to thinking of how versatile this type of meal can be. A whole wheat wrap would go well with a sweet breakfast, and a spinach wrap would be great with a savory breakfast. I also have a few ideas for yummy lunch wraps. The wraps we have at my house are probably about 7″ diameter, I’m not talking those huge Moes wraps. We also buy ones with lots of fiber, and calorie compare. You could also use pita bread, or spring roll papers.

Thanksgiving Wrap – turkey breast, cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes. Gravy if you wish, although it would make this less healthy.

Monkey Wrap – peanut butter smeared on middle of whole wheat wrap, toss in banana slices and raisins. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Could also add granola/Fiber One in.

Middle East Wrap – Plain Greek yogurt [NOT vanilla, the bland stuff] mixed together with lemon juice and some curry powder. Add diced cooked chicken, apples, celery, grapes into the mixture. Put lettuce in wraps, spoon on chicken salad.

*Try Tzatziki on anything.. it isn’t bad for you and it is legit one of my favorite things on this earth. Souvlaki Wrap MMMMMM!!!

Fiesta Breakfast Wrap (what I made this morning) – dice up onion and bell pepper and chunks of ham. Turn skillet on medium/md.low and spray with PAM. Once hot, crack in 1 whole egg, and then crack another egg and add the egg white; dispose of or save the egg yolk in a plastic sealed cup in the fridge for meatballs, etc. (You could also use egg substitute, I use it at school sometimes and it isn’t bad.) Add a couple small splashes of skim milk, then add salt and pepper, and a chili seasoning blend. We have a McCormicks that we use for chili, and I just added a couple of shakes. Once this gets cooking a little, throw in the chopped veggies and ham. While you are cooking these, smushing with a spatula to break up and scramble it, take a wrap and spread it on a plate. Pile a heaping spoon of salsa in the middle, and throw a little bit of shredded cheese on top. Put in microwave for 25 seconds. When you take it out, pile the contents of the skillet into the wrap. (It also makes sense to mix salsa in to the cooked egg mixture, it may make the dish a bit less messy). Fold up the bottom part, then tuck each side in. (Kind of like how you wrap a baby in a blankie, haha.) This would be yummy if you made with turkey sausage too, but that would take a bit more preparation. These would freeze well; just pop one into fridge the night before you want to eat them to defrost, and then microwave in paper towel until hot (probably a minute or so.) They’re actually delicious.

Pizza Wrap – pepperoni, mozzarella/parmesan, marinara sauce. Beef it up with mad veggies like pizza toppings: olives, bell peppers, onions, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, etc.

Veggie Wrap – portobella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, garbanzo beans/hummus/provolone. Thinking of you Jax :*

BLT Wrap – turkey bacon, cherry tomatoes, dark lettuce, avocado slices mushed with a little mayo to make a spread.

Southwest Wrap – Turkey chili, beans, rice. Yum. This would probs be delicious in a lettuce wrap. Butterhead lettuce works best!

I think a wrap with sauteed spinach, pine nuts, garlic, ricotta, salmon would be really yummy also.

Caesar Salad Wraps are great too. You can make buffalo chicken wraps that are healthier with a low fat blue cheese and Frank’s on grilled chicken. Don’t rule out cold cut wraps, as these can be great loaded with veggies, and with mustard instead of mayo. We have this jalapeno mustard at my house right now, and I am not kidding when I say it is [almost] better than mayo. Way more flavor! Speaking of mayo, I don’t rule it out completely..we use Olive Oil Mayo at my house, and it tastes legit exactly the same as regular mayo, at least the Hellmann’s does because I haven’t tried any other ones. It has about half of the fat and calories. However, it has modified starch added in, which isn’t an ingredient in the regular one. Lower the calories of full-fat mayo if you don’t want to give it up by mixing a lesser amount with mustard.

That’s a wrap folks