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Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Casserole

spaghetti squash casserole recipe

Steve and I have recently discovered spaghetti squash (yes, I’m a bit behind!). So now we’re on a spaghetti squash kick! Steve can’t get enough of it, and for only 42 calories a cup, you can’t really beat it!

On our weekly “Sunday Food Prep Day” I began to get creative in the kitchen, thinking of ways I could use spaghetti squash. We were going to dinner at my parents house last night so I wanted to bring a new healthy flavorful dish to introduce to the family. I was in the mood for some Italian, so I began brainstorming and concocting, and this is what I came up with.

I was cracking up because no one knew what it was. My sister asked what the “squishy stuff” was, saying it was really good! My aunt also was perplexed, as she was asking who made “this dish” as she points to it. She took a plate home to her son (my cousin) and said he lapped up the plate, and he too wanted to know what the mystery dish was too. So, even though no one could place it, everyone liked it and there wasn’t a drop left of it to take back home with us, so I guess this creation is a keeper! Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: As always, I did not follow a recipe and was just making this up as I went along – which often means, I add a dash more of this, and a pinch more of that. This recipe is what I came up with to the best of my recollection. I hope you can recreate it and enjoy it too! 

Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients:
1 Whole Spaghetti Squash (makes approximately 4 Cups)
1 Bag of Marzano Tomatoes (approximately 20 Cherry tomatoes)
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons Basil Paste (or fresh basil leaves)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Cracked Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt 
Shredded Cheese (optional)

Directions:
spaghetti squashCut the squash in half and take the seeds out. Place face down in a microwave safe dish and add one cup of water. Cook for approximately 15 minutes in the microwave until soft. Let it cool before handling.

While the squash is cooking, you can slice the Marzano tomatoes and measure the black olives, combining them in one container for holding. In a separate small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, cracked pepper and salt. Add a small portion (maybe a teaspoon), along with the vinegar, to the tomatoes and black olives in a small container. 

spaghetti squashOnce the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash out in spaghetti strands into your mixing dish. Mix in the olive oil mixture until the squash is fully covered. Add vegetables and parmesan cheese until mixed evenly. 

Measure cup by cup to (for tracking calories) into a baking dish. My ingredients added up to 5 cups, making 10 1/2 cup servings. Sprinkle a very light layer of cheese (I used a little regular cheddar with some shredded parmesan cheese) on top and back on 350 for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. 

Serving Size: 1/2 Cup
51 Calories (not including the cheese on top)
Only 6.4 Carbs

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31 Days of Motivation: Feel as Good As You Eat

feel as good as you eatSomething I heard once that stuck with me was when my sister said “I never realized how bad unhealthy felt until I discovered how good it felt to be healthy”. This is something I had never thought of at the time, and her insight opened my eyes. She wasn’t talking about feeling good because she looked good, she was talking about feeling even after only a couple of weeks of eating healthy. She basically immediately started having more energy and feeling as healthy as she was eating – way before the weight started coming off.

Not only does unhealthy food not fuel you properly but it weighs you down – literally. Overweight bodies are tired from the weight alone. Then couple that with being tired from the lack of energy from eating foods that lack nutrition, and you’ve got one tired, sluggish, heavy, unmotivated person. Yet, as soon as you start eating healthy, you immediately start benefiting from the nutrients you are putting into your body. People go from having no energy at all, to having TONS of energy when they begin to FUEL their body instead of just feed it.

Nowadays, when I have a period of time where I’ve been cheating or eating poorly (like over the holidays), I truly crave healthy eating because of how it makes me feel. I miss the way my body feels on a higher quality foods.

I challenge you to not just think of healthy eating as “dieting”, but choosing foods that will energize you, and give you the fuel you need to feel your absolute best! You’ll be SO surprised of the difference good fuel makes!!

Hale the Kale Salad

Thank you Offerdahl’s for the inspiration! Loving this salad!!!!

kale salad1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked with a splash of lemon juice, salt & garlic powder)
2 cups chopped kale
4oz diced chicken breast
1 heaping tablespoon of chick peas
1 tablespoon chopped sweet onion
1/2 tablespoon low-sugar Craisins
1/2 tablespoon goat cheese crumbles
Squirt of lemon
1 tablespoon Honey Roasted Almond Accents

Dressing Options:
Honey Lime or Lemon Vinaigrette
Light Honey Dijon dressing (I used Publix brand, but I also make my own)

Toss all the ingredients together with the dressing and top with the roasted almond slices. YUM!!

CLICK HERE for 10 delicious Kale Recipes!!

Eating Healthy Isn’t Enough

Healthy-EatingIf I had a nickel for everyone struggling with their weight who responds with “I eat really healthy” when I ask them how many calories they eat. What that means is – they have no clue how many calories they are eating.  But they want me to know how clean they eat and how hard they work in the gym, so they can try to convince me they are the exception to the rule and that they are just unable to lose weight like everyone else. This is when the Red Flag Goes Up.

Listen, I’m not saying everyone has to count calories. I’m also not saying eating healthy is wrong. Gosh no! Eating healthy is AMAZING – and can change your life. BUTTTTTT… what I AM saying is, if you have no idea how many calories you are eating, there is no way you can expect to lose weight. Guessing just doesn’t work. Eating clean alone probably won’t change the scale much. Eating organic can be super healthy, but not affect your waistline. Going on the next fad diet won’t always work either. Working out like a maniac alone won’t cut it either. (again, I’m not saying it NEVER works – some people will luck out and lose weight by just making healthier choices, but most people will not be as lucky)

When it comes to weight loss, most people can’t get results just on making healthier choices alone. The only way weight loss works is when you eat fewer calories than you are burning. You can either just HOPE you are eating less than you are burning, or you can count calories and KNOW you are eating less than you are burning.

Balanced-DietIf you can’t tell me how many calories you are eating every day, don’t tell me how healthy you eat, don’t tell me you never eat fried food or sweets, don’t tell me how much protein you consume, don’t tell me how you don’t eat carbs or how you’ve gone Paleo. While all of those things are great, and I bet your next doctor’s visit will be a good one, they tell me nothing when it comes to whether you should expect to lose weight or not.

How Much Did You Spend?

target-shoppingHere’s an example: Let’s say I just come home from shopping. I bring all my bags in the house and Steve’s eyeballs pop out of his head and he says “How much did you spend?” and my response was, “I shopped at Target. All the items I got were on sale. I didn’t buy anything outrageously expensive. I didn’t get anything frivolous – everything I bought I really needed and was very practical. I made a lot of smart choices.” I can tell you right now, Steve’s response would still be “so, how much did you spend?” 

You see, Steve doesn’t care what I bought, he wants to know how much I bought ($$$$). He doesn’t care how how much stuff was on sale. Our check will bounce whether it was a smart choice or a dumb one. We either have the money or we don’t – whether I needed the items or not. All my bank account cares about is what’s coming in and what’s going out – it doesn’t care what I am spending the money on or how hard I work for the deposits.
checkbook

This is how your body works. While healthy food will help your body look and feel better, your weight is your body’s account balance. You can either afford items, or not. If you can’t afford the extra calories (whether it’s in Snickers bars or grilled chicken and rice), you will gain weight.

So, next time you want to feel sorry for yourself for eating so clean, but not losing weight, it’s time you start managing your body’s account like you manage your checkbook. 🙂

Are You Up for the Challenge?

Not everyone needs to count calories. Some people are lucky enough to be able to make smart choices (because they really enjoy eating low-calorie foods) and do well managing their weight naturally. Some people are able to make healthier choices simply because they don’t struggle with some of the temptations others struggle with. HOWEVER, if you battle overeating, binging, sweets, carbs, laziness or yo-yo dieting, I believe you should count your calories to help you stay accountable and manage portions, high-calorie items and exercise. Remember, it’s not something you have to do forever – but it will teach you SO much!

If you have tried eating better, eating smaller portions, working out more, etc but you’ve reached a plateau, maybe it’s time you start counting calories. You’ll be AMAZED with the results! Believe me, I’ve seen this time and time again – and I’ve watched people who have worked insanely hard not get results until they started counting calories. Are you ready to start moving that scale?! Commit to counting calories for 30 days. Unsure you can do it? Start with 14 days of calorie counting and then decide if you can do another 14 days then. I bet you surprise yourself!

count calories

Visit www.LoseIt.com today and download their app on your smartphone. I promise, it can change your life forever.

Food Prep Basics for Healthy Cooking

Bonnie PfiesterMany of you know Sundays are food prep days at the Pfiesters. I love to cook! I also love to eat! But, since I don’t LOVE to workout, that means I need manage what I eat very closely so I don’t have to workout any more than I have to! ha!

If I want to eat healthy, I have to plan well. That starts with shopping and ends with food prep, including measuring everything out and tallying calories so I know exactly how much I can have without packing on the pounds. This is probably the last week of fun cooking for the Pfiesters. After this week, we’ll be cooking even cleaner, plainer and more strict as Steve prepares for his next bodybuilding show. So, this is our last healthy hurrah.

Yesterday, I posted everything I cooked on my facebook and people asked for more details – so here they are!

Food Storage:

First up is storage. When I tell people what I cook for the week, often times people’s first response is “won’t it go bad?” If you don’t have a husband that eats your weight in meat, then you may want to divide your cook days up, freeze some of it, or trim down the food prep a bit. Below are some recommended storage times from Food Safety so you can determine how much you should cook at once.

refridgeratorSafe Storage for Cooked Food

Poultry: 3-4 days (4 months in freezer)
Poultry in broth or gravy: 1-2 days
Ham: 7 days for whole ham, 3-5 days for 1/2, 3-4 sliced
Fish: 3-4 days (4-6 months in freezer)
Smoked Fish: 14 days
Gravy or broth: 1-2 days
Left Over (carry out) 3-4 days if refrigerated within 2 hours of serving
Pasta: 4 days
Beans: Up to a week
Casseroles: 3-4 days
Rice: 3-5 days
Hard Boiled Eggs: 7 days

Food Prep

Ok, say this with me: “If you fail to plan, then plan to fail”. I know, I say this all the time, but it’s SO TRUE! If I want to eat healthy during the week, I have to shop and cook healthy on the weekend. Here’s what I prepared, along with what I plan to serve it with. You’ll notice we eat most of our higher carb meals during the day, when we need the most energy, and save our meat and green veggie meals for dinner since you don’t need a lot of carbs to sleep.

My Meal Plans:

Chicken & Pear Arugula SaladLUNCHES: Turkey Taco Meat for soft tacos using low-carb tortillas or served over a baked potato
LUNCH: Salmon to eat with sweet potato pie
LUNCHES: Turkey Joes to eat alone, on sandwich thins or on top of half a potato
LUNCH OR DINNER: Caribbean Chicken to eat alone, as a burrito or served over rice
DINNER: Turkey Taco Salad
DINNER: Grilled Chicken to eat with asparagus or broccoli or putting on salads
DINNER: Tilapia to eat with a green veggie
SIDES: Steamed Jasmine Rice
SIDES: Sweet Potato Energy Pie
FREEZER: Marinated Orange Chicken (to cook later)
FREEZER: Marinated General Tso’s Chicken (to cook later)

Here are the fresh ingredients I will need later:
Arugula, Spring Mix & Kale
Asparagus
Broccoli
Cabbage
Ingredients for Soft Tacos or Burritos (light Sour Cream, salsa, onion, etc)

The Process:

Marinaded chickenSome of you asked how I could cook everything in less than 2 hours, so here you go! If you don’t care about the process, the short story is I multi-task. I am cooking several things at once and making the most of my time. I had the grill, stove, crockpot and rice steamer all going at once. That’s the short story if you want to skip the next 3 paragraphs and get to the recipes. 🙂

First, I started browning the turkey for the taco meat. Then I started filleting half the chicken for the grill and dicing the other half of the chicken for the Caribbean Chicken dish. I divided up the filleted chicken and threw them in ziplock bags with marinade and through it in the freezer, which I’ll cook later in the week. Then I threw the diced chicken in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients. By this time, the turkey was done and I put it in a tupperware container to cool. (Let food cool before you place in your refrigerator to prevent your refrigerator from working overtime)

Grilled ChickenOne round of turkey done. Now it was time for the second round. While I had the chicken marinading and the grill heating up, I diced up the onion and threw it in the pan with a little olive oil. While the onion was cooking, I put rice and water in my steamer and the quinoa on the stove. Once the onion was sautéed to my liking, I added the ground turkey and put the chicken on the grill. Then I threw a bag of sweet potatoes in a big pot to boil while I finished the turkey up. By the time the turkey and chicken were done, so was the quinoa. I then added the quinoa, and the rest of the ingredients, to the ground turkey and put everything in containers.

By this time I had the taco meat, Turkey Joes, grilled chicken, rice and quinoa all done. All I had left is the sweet potato and fish. I slapped the tilapia on my grilling pan with some lime juice, olive oil and seasonings and left it on the grill while I cleaned up the kitchen and finished boiling the potatoes. Finally, Steve cooked the salmon while I mixed the sweet potatoes together and my work was done! Later that night the Caribbean chicken was done and ready for storage too. Time for bed!

Recipes

Banana in my earFirst, I need to tell ya – I love to cook, but I’m not a chef. I just want to eat health AND enjoy my food. I am a very creative cook who rarely follows a recipe. I make stuff up as I go along and enjoy the creation process (which admittedly makes it hard for me to share what I make because I’m adding a dash of this and that as I go). I’m working to improve that! I cook as simply as possible to limit ingredients and calories. I LOVE seasonings and I love trying new things. I also know if I make something taste TOO good, we have a hard time eating the correct portion. So, I try to cook smart and I avoid cooking my favorite dishes too often. My goal is to cook food for fuel and not just always for entertainment. Here is what I cooked yesterday.

Turkey Joes RecipeTurkey Joes:
2.5lbs ground turkey
2 Cups Quinoa
1 Cup Anna Mae’s Smokey Sweet Sauce
1 Onion
1 T Stevia
1 Tsp Salt (or more to taste)
2 Slightly Firm Avocado (diced)

This is a 1st-time creation and Steve LOVED it! Steve liked to add avocado to his meals to add quality fat for energy. This is great served over 1/2 a baked regular OR sweet potato! 

Made approximately 7 Cups, 14 1/2 cups servings.
206 calories, 22g protein, 19 carbs, 5gm fat.

Turkey Taco Meat:
2.5lbs ground turkey
1/4 cup lime juice
2 packets of taco seasoning

Makes great taco salads, burritos, low-carb tacos and toppings for a Mexican baked potato with light sour cream. YUM!

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken:
Fileted Chicken Breast
1 Cup Kikkoman Triple Ginger Marinade
1/8 -1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Always a staple in our house! Last night I put a breast over a bed of arugula with slivered pear, onion, turkey bacon bits and honey roasted sliced almonds with plain balsamic vinegar on top.

Caribbean Chicken & BeansCaribbean Chicken:
1.5lb Diced Chicken
1 Small Can Diced Pineapples with juice
1 or 2 Cans Black Beans drained
1 Can Cilantro & Lime RoTel Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Lawry’s Caribbean Marinade
1 T Stevia
1 tsp salt (to taste)

Serve over your preference of rice or quinoa.

8 Servings:
2 Cans of beans – 240 Calories, 23g p, 30g c, 3g f
1 Can of beans – 187 Calories, 19g p, 20g c, 3g f
(2 cans if eating alone, 1 can if you plan on putting it over rice, or putting it in a wrap)

Sweet Potato Energy Pie: 
This is Steve’s preferred carbohydrate source – especially before his workouts. We purposely add nuts to add healthy fat to slow digestion so that it lasts longer (stays with you longer, which helps you feel fuller longer and give you a longer lasting energy). This is NOT going to be like the high-calorie ooey gooey pie grandma makes. It tastes great, and is much tastier than just a plain sweet potato, but this recipe is about making a yummy fuel source that is easy, tasty & healthy.

Mash the following ingredients together
8 Sweet Potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/3-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 T of light butter
2 T Light Maple Syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2-3 T Sugar Twin Brown Sugar (0 calories)
1-2 tsp Salt (to taste)

After the potatoes cool, I peel them and mix everything in a big tupperware container. I don’t bake it or top it with anything. I eat it as is! 🙂

12 servings: 116 calories
Note: I determine serving size based on # of potatoes used. I don’t want to eat the equivalent of 1 potato, but prefer portions to be 1/2-3/4 a potato. 

More About Safe Storage 

FRIDGE-INFOGRAPHIC

121-Calorie Waldorf Chicken Salad

When I go to the trouble to cook and dice up all the chicken and ingredients that go into a chicken salad, I want it to last – so that means I make a LOT of it! Here is a MONSTER recipe to cook for the masses (or, in my case, to cook for Steve Pfiester).  🙂 ENJOY!

Low-Calorie Waldorf Chicken Salad

Low-Cal Waldorf Chicken Salad8 Chicken Breasts Diced in Cubes
2 Medium Apples
7 Celery Sticks Diced (one bunch)
1/2 Cup of Diced Onions
1/3 Cup Craisins
1/3 Cup Nuts
1/2 Cup Chobani Yogurt
1/2 Cup Hellman’s Mayo Low Fat
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
2 TBS Lemon Juice
1/8 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBS Stevia
Salt to taste

Dice your apples (the smaller the pieces the more apple you get in each bite!) and pour lemon juice over it. Combine the apple, chicken, Craisins, Onions and nuts together in one big bowl. In a separate bowl, blend Mayo, Yogurt, Orange Juice, Stevia, vinegar and salt. Slowly fold into the mix until the mixture is well coated. (NOTE: You don’t necessarily need to use ALL of the dressing if you want to save even more calories).

Low-Cal Waldorf Chicken SaladMakes 17 1-Cup servings:
121 calories (1 Cup)
13.5gm protein
3.5gm fat
7.5gm carbs

Today, I scooped 2 cups per tupperware so I could easily track calories throughout the day. That way, when I finish my container I know exactly how many servings I ate, instead of putting it all in one big container. Perfect for meals or snacks on the go!

OR put a cup on top of fresh greens and drizzle some straight balsamic vinegar over the top for a low-calorie salad. It only adds about 50 calories!

DIET DANGER: Beware of Yummy Low-Cal Food

sad foodOne major misconception is that dieting is boring, tasteless, unfulfilling and borderline torturous. Although we really don’t consider the way we eat “dieting”, but just “eating clean” – it’s more than satisfying and definitely not tasteless or boring. However, sometimes yummy healthy food can be too much for a dieter to handle. So, for some people bland may be better. Here’s why.

Bland is Better

bowl_of_oatmealWhen something tastes great, we want more of it – plain and simple. I don’t care how low-fat, low-cal, high-protein, organic, paleo, it is. If you are trying to lose weight, sometimes it’s best to keep foods a little boring so you don’t overeat. Does this mean you don’t enjoy your food? No. It means, that every single meal doesn’t have to be a celebration on your tongue.

I believe we think WAY too much about what we WANT to eat and what we WANT to taste, when we should be focusing on what kind of fuel our body needs. Since our body needs the same thing day after day, I venture to say there are some components to your eating habits that should remain the same too.

dreaming of foodSadly, when people go on a diet, it’s like they are so fixated on what they are going to be missing, that they spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out a way to still get what they want, and get the results they want too. Is it possible to eat yummy healthy food and lose weight? YES. Is it harder? YES. So why make it harder on yourself?

Keep It Simple Stupid

Grilled Chicken & asparagusOf course, meals don’t have to be yucky, but they should be simple. It’s hard to mess up whole foods & simple meals, like a meat and green veggie. However, if you start getting too fancy with the cooking, before you know it you have not only added more calories, but you’ll likely eat more of it. That’s two unnecessary obstacles you don’t need if you are trying losing weight.

thinking of foodIn addition to food being too yummy for you to resist seconds, adding too much variety can make tracking calories more difficult. Repetition is easier to manage. When you repeat meals and snacks, there is less chance of missing calories or messing up.

Lastly repetition frees our mind from thinking about food more than we already do. As soon as you start exploring new things, our mind goes WILD. If you want to spend less time thinking about food, stick to what you know so you don’t have to think about it at all.

More Diet Tips:

Check back this weekend for 7 Diet Tips to Help You Stay on Track or Subscribe to get more tips and motivation!

Kitchen Tips: Preparing for Diet Success

groceriesAs I always say, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – and if you are trying to eat healthy, planning is a necessity.

It starts at the grocery store, but that’s not where it ends. I know a lot of people who buy healthy food that ends up rotting in bottom of the refrigerator. So, you not only need to shop healthy, you need to buy stuff you know you will actually cook – not stuff you hope you will eat. Good intentions won’t help you lose weight. Follow through will. And once you cook up your food, it still doesn’t stop there. You need to make sure you have all the tupperware you need so it goes where you go. Plastic forks, spoons, lunch bag – you name it, if it helps you stick to your diet, it’s worth being properly stocked.

With that said, cooking is definitely the hardest part of the process. It takes time, but it is SO worth it. This why we set aside time to cook for the week – and Sundays are those days for us. It’s our chance to cook up all our meat for the week, and box up our meals so we stay on track, no matter what craziness comes our way.

Since many people ask me what we make, I thought I’d share our shopping list, as well as what we made for this week.

My Shopping List:

grocery shoppingMixed Greens
Avocado
Grapes
Mango
Onions
Bell Pepper
Asparagus
Sweet Potato
Mushrooms
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Balsamic Vinegar
Almond Butter
Chicken
Tilapia
Salmon
Ground Lean Turkey
Lean Cuisines (for emergency)
Egg Whites/Egg Beaters
Oatmeal
Granola (for sprinkling o yogurt)
Dasani Drops
Edamame
Soy Sauce
Light Balsamic Dressing
Roasted Almonds
Kosher Dill Pickles
100 Calorie Popcorn
130 Calorie Packs of Pistachios
Starbucks Coffee
Sugar Free Creamer
Stevia
Greek Yogurt Snack Packs
Low-Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sticks
Anderson Pretzel Stix
Beef Jerky
4 Gallons of Water

Once I get my groceries, then I prepare the meat. My focus is to have a meat and one vegetable for each meal. I save my higher-carb items (like sweet potato) for lunches, and stick to leafy greens with a meat at night.

Meat for the Week

Grilled Filleted Fajita Lime Chicken
Large Grilled Salmon with Ginger and Wasabi
Grilled Tilapia with Lemon & Mojo Mama Blacked Dry MOJO
Roasted Curry Chicken & Vegetables
Breadless Low-Calorie Turkey Meatloaf
Curry Chicken Salad

As always, I played in the kitchen and created meals based on what I was in the mood for. I rarely follow recipes, and I almost never measure anything, unless I am following a recipe. So, bare with me as I try to recall what I did, in hopes it at least gets you on the right track. 🙂

Cook Healthy to Eat Healthy

curry chicken roastRoasted Curry Chicken
Chicken Breast (I cooked 8-10)
1 Can Lite Coconut Milk

2 Onions Sliced Thick
2 Sweet Potato (peeled and diced in 2″ chunks)
3 Bell Peppers Sliced Thick
2 Cans Water Chestnuts
A Butt-Load of Curry Powder 🙂
Sprinkle of Cayenne Pepper to add zip
Sprinkle Stevia to sweeten (to taste)
Salt to taste

Put in a roaster or crock pot. After the food is done, I add more stevia, curry and salt until I get the taste I want, which is a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. If it’s too sweet, you may need more salt to balance it.

After the chicken was all done and absorbed the yummy flavors of the curry and vegetables, I took out 3 breasts and chopped them up in cubes for a curry chicken salad. Here is what I put in it.

Curry Chicken Salad

curry chicken salad3 Chicken Breast
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/8 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup light mayo (or yogurt) 
1 C chopped grapes
1 T stevia
1 T curry powder
salt & pepper
Cucumber (optional)

Mix it all up and pop it in the fridge to chill. Cut a cucumber in half, longways, and scoop out the seeds with a tablespoon until it makes a nice boat. Serve the chicken salad on the cucumber boat. Serve with wheat thins if you are serving guests. Dieters skip the chips and just enjoy it as is.

Paleo Approved: Breadless French Toast

Breadless French ToastIf you are like me and you miss your sweet breakfast when going Paleo or reducing carbs – then this is for you! My breakfasts have always consisted of oatmeal, greek yogurt, breakfast bread, bagel and peanut butter or a protein shake. Since we’ve been giving the Paleo diet a test run, I can’t have any of those things so I’ve been beside myself trying to find a breakfast that I really can enjoy. Many Paleo eaters are content with eating scrambled eggs, omelets, steak and eggs and anything else eggy. Not me. That is not my idea of yummy. Although I do eat eggs, they aren’t my favorite.  So, I decided to scout out some breakfast ideas.

First, I found a recipe for protein bars at FastPaleo.com. I loved the idea it had a ton of eggs in it, but wouldn’t taste like traditional eggy meals. Also, the sweet potato idea intrigued me – especially since I was looking for ways to put more healthy, low-glycemic carbs in my meals. I loved that it was low in fat and didn’t have a ton of nuts, seeds or fruit in it too, like many other recipes I found. Then I played around with the ingredients I saw on one of their recipes, added in some of my own ideas, and came up with a great new way to eat eggs that I could enjoy. The end result was breakfast that tasted a lot like french toast without the bread, fat and extra sugary calories! (take note parents, this may be a great way to trick your kid into eating more eggs!)

Paleo breakfast

Here’s what I did…

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Eggs, beaten (I used egg beaters)
  • 2 Tbs Almond meal
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tbs honey to sweeten (non-paleo peeps can add stevia or more honey)
  • 1 scoop of natural unsweetened whey protein

Directions:

Mix all ingredients (I used a mixer to make it more of a french bread consistency). If you look at the original recipe, you can see I went off plan. I mashed my sweet potatoes instead of  used shredded yams. I didn’t have coconut flour, so I used almond meal, and I added protein powder to beef up my protein content. I also added the honey to sweeten it up a bit.

Heat for 25 minutes on 350, let cool and cut into squares. I cut mine into 15 bars. 2 squares = 82 calories, 9.1gm protein, 8.7gm carbs, 1g fat. This is a great breakfast you can cook in advance for a quick microwaveable breakfast on the go! Eat alone or top with a drizzle of honey and a few berries for a really delicious low calorie breakfast!

I encourage you to play around with the ingredients yourself. Also, share with me your favorite Paleo breakfast ideas. I’d love to try them and I’m sure there are some really great recipes out there I’d love to add to my collection of yummy fun!

Why Paleo? Paleo eating is simply good healthy eating – it is low in carbs, high in protein, low in bad fats, and high healthy fats. It is gluten-free, free of processed foods and a lot of junk that causes health issues and inflammation in the body. It forces you to get more nutrients from whole foods and to not be so dependent on unhealthy quick fixes. I’m still a newbie, but I have to admit, despite the huge learning curve and having to make serious changes – I’m liking it so far. I feel healthy and strong!

My unofficial disclaimer:  I must confess, I am not a chef. I LOVE to cook, but I make stuff up as I go and don’t follow the rules. I am a simple, creative cook who just enjoys playing in the kitchen and eating healthy. If you want a chef, go see Paula Dean. Don’t hate, appreciate! ha! 🙂

 

Easy Food Prep Tips

In this video, I share what food prep day is like at the Pfiesters, including this paleo meal I made for our food exchange at our club, which I found this recipe found at http://www.PaleOMG.com. Prepare to succeed.

Ropa Vieja & Cuban Cauliflower “Rice”

ropa vieja

For the ropa vieja (Approximately 300 calories for 5 oz)
  • 1.5-2lbs chuck roast
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cuban rice (6-8 servings, 62.5 calories/serving)
  • 1 head of cauliflower, stem removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 thick sliced of bacon, diced  (I skipped the bacon)
  • 1 (4 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the cooking directions & get more healthy Paleo meals.

5 New Healthy Eating Habits for Weight Loss

Are You Eating Backwards?

People who struggle with their weight often find their evening meal to be the most challenging. When it comes to dieting, most people don’t have much of a problem watching calories throughout the day. Then they come home and BAM! They eat more calories in one sitting than they did all day long.

One reason this happens is we’ve been conditioned to eat big meals for dinner. Normally that means a meat, a couple of sides, and sometimes bread or dessert – but who said a meal has to be a 7-course meal? It must have been the same person who invented the Pop Tart for breakfast – and they have it all backwards.

Let’s look at food as fuel. Do you need a lot of fuel to power you to sleep? No. Do you need fuel to power you to work? Yes. So why would we have a small breakfast and big dinner? It’s completely opposite from what our body needs.

5 Healthy Food Habits for Weight Loss

Here are small changes you can make to your daily eating habits that can deliver BIG results.

1. Eat a 300-400 calorie breakfast with a nice balance of fat, protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Stock up on breakfast foods like Egg Beaters, oatmeal, bagel thins, low-carb wraps, grits, Chobani greek yogurt, Designer Whey vanilla protein, peanut butter, granola and fruit. Plan ahead and be creative. Cooking breakfast in advance and utilizing leftovers (like spinach, asparagus and meats) can really help create fast fixings.

2. Splurge for lunch. Instead having your biggest meal at dinner, schedule cheat meals at lunch. At least you will have several hours to burn off what you ate, instead of eating at night and hitting the sack on a full stomach. Even if you are eating healthy, try to save your high-carb meals, like sandwiches, pastas and potatoes, for lunchtime.

3. Simplify dinner. Don’t over-think your evening menu. If you are trying to diet, limit meals to one white meat and one green side. Use a little olive oil or natural fats, like avocado, to help the meal stay with you longer. Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, spinach, zucchini, collards, cabbage and salad greens are normally lower in calories. Be very sparing with beans, even the green kind. Peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and kidney beans are all higher in carbohydrates and calories. One green bean that’s an exception is the soy bean (edamame). Edamame has a excellent balance of carbs, fats and protein. YUM!

4. Just skip it. Sometimes people eat just because they think they are “supposed to”. Just because it’s meal time, you don’t always have to eat a traditional meal. If you come home late at night, or you really aren’t that hungry, sometimes it’s OK to just make a protein shake and call it a night – especially if you just left the gym. Or maybe you decide to just have a few almonds and a piece of fruit, or some yogurt to curb your appetite. Although you do need to keep a steady small amount of calories coming in to keep your metabolism revved, they don’t have to be anything fancy or complicated.

5. Choose only one 100-200 calorie evening snack. If you are like me, you can snack the entire night away if you let yourself. Instead, choose your snack wisely. Do you crave sweets? Then a sugar-free fudge pop, jello pudding or fruit may be the way to go. Do you crave salty snacks? Then you may prefer 100-calorie popcorn as your go-to snack. Whatever you choose, try to limit your calories to only one 100-200 calories, and only choose one item – that includes drinks. Even if you WANT to snack, you won’t die if you go without snacking – and those little after-dinner calories add up quick so be stingy with them.

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