I go ape for bananas. I love banana bread, banana & peanut butter sandwiches and banana pudding, so when Quaker started making banana and cream oatmeal, I finally made oatmeal a part of my daily nutrition plan – until I started dieting. While dieting for my competition, I’ve had to strip away any sugar and keep my foods simple and clean. When you diet for 3 months to this extreme, I get creative so I can still enjoy food without feeling deprived. As I brainstormed on ways to spruce up my plain oatmeal, I decided to make my own healthier version of Quaker’s Banana & Cream Oatmeal.
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Quaker Oats
3 tsp Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1/4 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Protein
1/4 Banana (thinly sliced)
1-2 tsp Sweetener
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
(Optional) Couple of Drops of Butter Extract & Banana Extract
Cook the oatmeal in the water as directed. Reduce heat and add the banana, followed by the almond milk and protein powder, mixing over low heat. Add salt, sweetener and extracts. Add more almond milk if needed (depending on your preference of consistency). Poor into a bowl and sprinkle cinnamon on top to serve.
My Oatmeal vs Prepackaged Oatmeal
4.6 sugar vs 9g sugar
21g carbs vs 26g carbs
7.5g protein vs 3g protein
3.1g fiber vs 2g fiber
Log your food into the LoseIt app and track your calories with me!
Since I’ve been craving salty snacks, I decided I’d make a salty, meaty protein snack similar to beef jerky. This is whey Vaca Frita came to mind. Vaca Frita, which literally means “Fried Cow”, is one of my favorite cuban dishes. Basically, it’s just shredded flank steak and onion cooked in lime juice and then seared with oil on a griddle until crispy – so it’s not so healthy, but super yummy.
So, I started brainstorming on ways to make a healthier version of this yummy Cuban dish. Since I LOVE grilled chicken (because I love the crispy charred flavor), I decided to make a grilled version of Vaca Frita with chicken. Here was what I cooked up.
Vaca Pollo Ingredients
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 1/2 onion, finely slivered
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (Optional)
- Freshly ground pepper
Cook 4 chicken breasts (I grilled them on the grill after marinading them in lime juice and olive oil). While cooking the chicken, cut the onion up into really thin slivers and set it aside.
(Note: I didn’t use as much onion as I would like to because I wanted to make it as high-protein as possible while I’m dieting.)
Next, in a mixing bowl, mix lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves (and the optional olive oil, which I didn’t use). Once the chicken has been cooked all the way through (keeping it nice and juicy, but not worrying about it being browned or charred on the grill). Shred the chicken up into small pieces and combine with the onion and lime juice mixture until evenly mixed.
Finally, spread the shredded chicken out evenly on tinfoil. Mist with olive oil and dust with salt. Place it back on the grill (I turned my grill up really hot to quickly brown the chicken without over-drying it), occasionally stirring the chicken so it browns as many pieces as possible. Remove when you feel the chicken is crispy but not dehydrated, and let cool. Serve with wedge of lime.
3 Ways to Enjoy Vaca Pollo
Vaca Pollo Snack:
Let the meat cool. Measure out 2oz portions and put in ziplock bags for an easy-access high-protein snack.
Vaca Pollo Salad:
Top mixed greens with 3 – 4oz shredded chicken, 2 T goat cheese and 1/c cup finely sliced pear and top with a light balsamic vinaigrette.
Vaca Pollo Meal:
Top 1/2 cup jasmine rice with 3 – 4oz shredded chicken and serve with a healthy serving of grilled asparagus.
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
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)
Cut 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.
Once 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
We Pfiesters are always looking for high-protein snacks and easy meals. This is why chicken salads are a hot item in our kitchen. Last weekend I made a Low-Fat Buffalo Chicken Salad that Steve LOVED, and this weekend I made a Curry Chicken Salad. Throw it on a cracker for a snack or scoop a cup out on a bed of greens for a meal. Either way, this is one great low-cal recipe that makes dieting pretty darn easy! The only hard part will be not going back for seconds!
Curry Chicken, Grape & Apple Salad Recipe
1/2 Cup Chobani Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Chopped Grapes
1 Cup Chopped Apple
6 1/3 Cup Chopped Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
4 Packets Truvia (or your favorite sweetener)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Whisk the yogurt, curry powder, 2 (of the 3) tablespoons lemon juice, salt and sweetener together until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the grapes, chicken, apple and the final tablespoon of lemon juice together. Then stir both together until well-coated and mixed. Chill before serving.
TIP: I’d add walnuts if I wasn’t dieting, but they crank up the calories quick, so no nuts for us. I do have some nuts, but I don’t put them in our food because they are too hard to count accurately in a recipe. Instead, I add them on top so I can adjust my fat as needed for that day.
Makes 8 cups, or 16 1/2 cup servings. We do 1/2 cup servings because we often eat them as a snack. 2 servings with salad greens is great for a full meal.
97 servings per 1/2 cup serving
15g protein, 1.8g fat, 3g carbs
5 More Chicken Salads
A few months ago Steve and I went to a restaurant and ordered a pear and goat cheese flat bread, simply because it was such an odd combination we just HAD to try it. We were amazed how tasty it was! Although I really didn’t remember what was on it exactly, I tried my best to recreate it last night with Steve and it was DELISH! So here are the basic ingredients I came up with…
2 FlatOut Flatbreads
2 Tbsp Sweet BBQ sauce
1/3 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/2 Onion Thinly Sliced
1/2 Can of Pears (no sugar added)
2 Cups Chopped Grilled Chicken
1/3-1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
First, throw the sliced onion in a small frying pan with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. I also added a dash of salt. Cook them until they are nice and soft and brown. These are like candy to me! YUM!
Grab one of your nice cookie sheets (or pizza stones) and set the oven to 375. Spray Pam on the pan and place the 140 calorie Flatout flatbreads side by side on the pan. (PS: they also have 7gms of protein and 3g of fiber!) Add in ingredients in the order listed above. Don’t use too much BBQ or it will make it too soupy. 1 Ttbs per flatbread should do it. Spread it all over the flatbread so that every piece has a thin layer of sauce. I used just a light sprinkle of cheese to help things stick. Then I began to layer the ingredients.
The smaller the pieces of pear and chicken, the less you’ll use if you are counting calories. Steve went a little overboard with the goat cheese, but I’d recommend just sprinkling a little on top. Finish with a light drizzle of balsamic glaze on top and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the pizza crust begins to harden.
Cut in triangles and enjoy!
Tag me in pics if you make it! I’d love to see your creations!!
Eating healthy is always easier when you plan ahead. Part of my planning ahead includes making a healthy breakfast that’s easy to heat and eat! This week, my breakfast of choice is a low-fat spinach quiche made with Daisy low-fat cottage cheese.
One thing I love about adding Daisy Cottage Cheese to my quiche is because it’s packed with protein (13gms per 1/2 cup 90 calorie serving). Since I like to get the majority of my protein from whole foods, Daisy Cottage Cheese is a great way to boost protein in your diet naturally. (FYI: Daisy Cottage Cheese has no preservatives, thickeners or additives and only has ingredients, where other brands have more than 10).
Shopping Tip: Look for the LIGHT blue lid (that’s the low fat one. Daisy’s regular cottage cheese has a dark blue lid). Also, alway look at ingredients when shopping. Less is more! I took a photo of the ingredients for Daisy (below left) compared to another popular brand (below right). Look at all the extra ingredients. Who wants to eat Xanthan gum and Guar gum? lol
63 Calorie Quiche
16oz Bag of Defrosted & Drained Spinach
1 Cup Egg Beaters
2 Cups Low-Fat Daisy Cottage Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Crushed Crackers or Croutons
6 1 Medium Tomato, Diced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Cook the spinach in a pan and drain well. Mix spinach in with all the ingredients. Pour in well greased muffin pan (I use Pam) and cook on 325 for 45 minutes. The recipe makes 12 63-calorie yummy low-fat, high-protein, low-carb mini quiches! BAM!
Change it up
Use this same recipe and just make some subtle changes to make your own new creations. Swap cheddar cheese for feta cheese or tomatoes for mushrooms. Change spinach for broccoli or asparagus. Dress your recipe up but adding a sliced cherry tomato on top. Don’t care about calories? Use 2 cups of cheese instead of 1/2 cup of cheese to richen the recipe (NOTE: that will make each quiche 120 calories instead of 63 calories).
Enjoy 2 quiches for only 125 calories, 16.4g of protein, 3.9g carbs and 4.8g fat. Look at this awesome pie graph! See all that light blue – that’s ALL PROTEIN!! WOOOT!
I log my recipes in the LoseIt app to track calories and nutrients. What I love about making quiche in a muffin pan is that I have 12 perfect individualized portions, making tracking calories a breeze!
10 Ways to Cook With Cottage Cheese
1. Use cottage cheese instead of sour cream to add creaminess and a bunch of protein to a baked potato.
2. Use cottage cheese to thicken homemade dressings (using blender)
3. Use cottage cheese in place of Ricotta cheese in Italian dishes. (90 calories per half cup vs 216 calories)
4. Add a nice dollop of cottage cheese to a salad.
5. Use pureed cottage cheese instead of sour cream for a creamy healthier chip dip
6. Add cottage cheese to your smoothie for a creamier protein shake with even more protein.
7. Use cottage cheese in place of oil when baking.
8. Use cottage cheese instead of mayo when making tuna salad. (Puree it to make it creamy if you don’t like it chunky)
9. Mix cottage cheese with salt, pepper and herbs for a yummy and healthy cracker spread.
10. Mix or layer with fresh pineapple, apple sauce, peaches, pear or mandarin oranges and top with a dollop of whipped cream for a healthy dessert or breakfast.
HOW DO YOU EAT COTTAGE CHEESE?
Join us in our Twitter Chat! Daisy wants to know how you “Power Your Way Through the Day”. Getting the proper fuel we need can be hard on the go. Getting protein, outside of eating meat or having a protein shake, can also be challenging. Daisy Cottage Cheese is the perfect protein source. Daisy is extremely versatile and can help power your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and pre/post workout. Learn more about the Daisy Difference April 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm EST #DaisyDifference! See you there!
I love potatoes. Honestly, I think they are probably one of my favorite vegetables. BUT they are super high in calories and carbs, so I try to limit them. One baked potato is a whopping 270 calories – that’s most of my allotted calories for a single meal when I’m dieting (which is around 300-350 calories/meal) – and that’s without butter, sour cream or anything extra!
A medium French Fry from McDonald’s is 360 calories!! Sadly, I have to admit, when I get fries, my eyes are bigger than my brain and I feel the need to order a large fry because I like fries more than the darn burger. However, that large fry will cost me about a 5 1/2 mile run! A large fry had more calories than my sandwich – 537 calories (Super Size is 610 CALORIES!)!! Needless to say, if you are counting calories, it doesn’t take long to realize you need to limit potatoes from your diet if you want to lose weight.
With all that high-cal potato talk, I got a little creative last night and made a potatoless Shepherd’s pie. Honestly, if I had cauliflower, I would have made mashed cauliflower. Instead, I started my meal out like I always do. I look in the fridge and pantry to see what I have and then I start brainstorming. Yesterday, I ended up with Ground Turkey & Cabbage Shepherd’s pie and it was a success. Steve loved it, and he liked the carb to protein ratio – so here it is!
Potatoless Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 head of cabbage chopped (made 4 cups)
- 4 cups cooked and seasoned lean ground turkey
- 1 1/2 cup yellow corn
- 1 1/2 cup lima beans ( didn’t have peas!)
- 1 tablespoon butter/margarine
- 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon of Stevia and Splenda
- Salt & Pepper
- Badia Complete Seasoning
First I combined cooked and seasoned turkey meat with cooked corn and limas (cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper) and put that in the casserole dish. (I seasoned my meat with lemon juice and Badia Complete Seasoning). Then, in a separate pot, I boiled the cabbage with seasonings and the Stevia until really tender and soft. I drained the cabbage reeeeeally well and added the butter to add a little fat, as well as a buttery flavor. Next, I spread it out on top of the meat mixture, topping it with the sprinkle of cheese and baked it on 400 for 20 minutes or so (just to melt the cheese and do the final bit of cooking).
After you pull it out of the oven, drain off any fluid (from the cabbage) and let it stand for a few minutes. If you can’t wait, you can serve it right away, but it will be a messy meal. If you let it cool, it cuts in nicer squares. I let mine cool completely and stored it in the refrigerator. Then I cut it in squares and put it in tupperware (cuts beautifully when cold). Steve loved it and it was darn tasty!
9 servings: 278 calories 25g P, 15g C 13g F
12 small squares: 209 calories, 19.1g P, 11.3g C, 9.9g F
NOTE: Fat slows digestion, helping you feel fuller longer, as well as provides you with more lasting energy.
Since yesterday was the first day of boot camp and Steve’s schedule was jam-packed with non-stop training from 5:30am to 6:30pm, I thought I’d make him his favorite meal – a grilled steak salad. I actually had never made one but planned to replicate a salad he once ate at a restaurant and loved. It was absolutely DELISH so I thought I’d share it.
First I cut the vegetables crosswise to make onion and pepper rings. Then I marinated my steak, onions and green pepper in a Honey Teriyaki Marinade and I sprayed olive oil over everything, dusting it all with a season salt. I placed the steaks and veggies straight on the grill. After flipping the steaks and veggies, I took the veggies off as soon as I felt they were nice a charred like we like them, and left the steaks on to finish cooking. As soon as the steaks were ready it was dinner time!
I threw the mixed greens in a big bowl with a little cheese crumbles, Craisins and almonds and tossed my homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette in with it. Once all the ingredients were well coated, I put the salad mix on plates and topped them with the sliced steak and grilled vegetables. The end result was quite a yummy treat!! Steve will keep me for at least another year! ha 🙂
I have to admit I don’t use measuring cups, and really have a clue what I put in last night’s dressing, but if I had to guess, it was something like this. Feel free to alter it or play with it 🙂
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup Balsamic Vineger
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2-3 Heaping Tbsp of Light Hellman’s Mayo
1-2 tsp Stevia (depending on how sweet you want to make it)
1 tsp honey
A few dashes of Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
Note: Most dressings call for a lot more oil – sometimes more than twice the amount of oil than vinegar. I add water to cut the vinegar instead of a lot of oil to save more calories. Then I add light mayo to help thicken the dressing. Sometimes I don’t even use honey and just use more stevia.
Blend in a blender until the consistency turns a light tan and thickens slightly. Enjoy!
Here’s a similar recipe I found online (from someone who actually measures! Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe
4 Salad Tips for Dieters
1.) Avoid big clumps of gorgonzola, or blue cheese, crumbles. You can get more taste in each bike with smaller crumbles. I like Stella Gorgonzola Cheese Crumbles.
3.) Don’t go nuts for nuts. I love Almond Accents because they are super thin. Regular whole, or chopped, nuts don’t go as far, which means you will eat more to get a similar taste. More nuts, means more calories.
4.) Toss, don’t pour. I use SO much less dressing if I toss it in my salad instead of pour it on top. Tossing your salad in dressing allows the dressing to coat every leaf so every bite has flavor.
For more tips and salad recipe ideas, check out my latest article for DetourBar, “Tips for Salad Lovers“
Sometimes you just want a nice cool crisp pasta salad to munch on that isn’t loaded with calories. Yesterday was one of those days, so I whipped this little creation together and it came out super yummy!
Box of Rotini Whole Grain Pasta
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cup Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
1 Cup of Chopped Scallions
1 Chopped Green Pepper
28 Slices of Turkey Pepperoni (14 slices per serving)
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic
Salt & Cracked Pepper (to taste)
Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Boil the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and let it cool. Add all the cold ingredients and chill for nibbling later! Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and serve! I added diced grilled chicken (seen here in this pic)! YUM!
Two weeks ago, Steve was playing around with his LoseIt app to figure out what ingredients he’d need to make the ultimate nutritious meatloaf that was not only high in protein, but had a healthy dose of carbs and some healthy fat too. After he did the math, he gave me the list of ingredients he wanted is muscle meat dish to have, and said “make this taste good” with a smile on his face. 🙂
• 5 lbs Ground Turkey
• 4 Cups Cooked Quinoa
• 3 Avocados
• 1 Cup Egg Beaters
Steve was on a quest for one dish that had it all, so he could get the protein he needed for muscle repair, but still have a nice amount of energy, which would come from the fat and carbs. I have to admit, I wasn’t totally sure about the avocado, but I was willing to try – and I have to admit, this might be the best meatloaf concoction we’ve made yet! Here is what I came up with.
5 lbs Ground Turkey
4 Cups Cooked Quinoa
1 Cup Egg Beaters
3 T Apple Cidar Vinegar
1 Large Onion
1 Large Bell Pepper
1 Small Can of Green Chilies
2 Diced Jalapeños
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 T Cumin
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Fresh Minced Garlic or Garlic Paste
1/2 Can Rotel Lime & Cilantro Diced Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Ketchup
3 Tablespoons Stevia or Sugar Twin Brown Sugar Replacement
Mix all the ingredients together and put in 2 large baking dishes. Cook on 350-375 for 1 hour. Top with a touch of your favorite ketchup, BBQ sauce or a yummy hot sauce for an added KICK! I topped mine with this sweet and hot curry Brown Sauce (below), from a recipe my BFF gave me. Thanks Kristie!! It was DELIIIIISH!!
Servings: Makes 16 servings (8 pieces per dish).
50/30/20: This dish is approximately 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% fat.
288 Calories Per Serving: 40gms Protein, 20gms Carbs, 6gms Fat
Trevor’s Insanity Hot Sauce Recipe (Brown Sauce)
12 fresh habanero peppers — roughly chopped (unless you want to die. I used 4 habaneros! ha)
1 ripe mango — peel, pit, mash
1 cup yellow prepared mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar — packed (I used Sugar Twin Brown Sugar)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared curry powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and freshly cracked black pepper — to taste
I blended it in my blender and it made a great thick sauce that was the PERFECT topping for this dish!