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I started my Friday not so bright but very early – when my alarm went off at 5:10 AM. I wanted to get an early start at the office so that I could leave at 3pm to start my weekend. I started my work day before 7am! I was in the car and headed to Wegman’s a few minutes after 3 o’clock.

I had three recipes to make for Friday’s dinner and they were all from one of my favorite websites, http://www.skinnytaste.com ! I just love SkinnyTaste and thankfully a lot of my friends do, too. We are always trying new recipes and reporting back to each other and I always have old favorite recipes that I go back to on a constant basis. During the winter I was using the crock pot recipes on a regular basis and loving them. I will probably continue to use them during the summer – the crock pot is a great tool to have when it is really hot and you don’t want to turn on your oven and heat up the whole house.

On Friday I was planning on making the Asian Meatballs, the Cauliflower Fritters and Zoodles for the first time. I was super excited about all of the recipes – but especially excited about the zoodles. After stopping at Wegman’s to get all of the produce, I stopped at Starbucks to get an iced latte which I hoped would keep me awake while I was cooking. I could feel that I had woke up very early and I didn’t want to fall asleep while I was cooking! I had a free drink on my Starbucks Gold Card so I ordered a vent skim iced latte! Yum.

I started making the meatballs first because I figured they could stay warm in the oven as I made the rest of the dinner. This was definitely my favorite part of dinner. I just LOVED the flavors of the meatballs and the dipping sauce. A huge success!

The meatballs were also super easy to make. I did all of the chopping (cilantro, scallions, garlic, etc) and threw everything in a big mixing bowl…

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I mixed everything up with my hands, formed the meatballs and threw them into the oven. So simple! But when you are rolling the meatballs, make sure that your hands are wet – otherwise the meatball mixture will stick to your hands and it won’t be really smooth.

Once the meatballs were in the oven we moved to the cauliflower fritters. We steamed a head of cauliflower and I chopped it up once steamed. Then we mixed all of the ingredients together:

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We cooked up the fritters on our non stick pan with a little olive oil and cooking spray:

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I have to say one thing about this recipe. I did not like the type of cheese the recipe called for. We used the cheese that the recipe called for Pecorino Romano, and I didn’t know much about the cheese, so I just bought it at Wegman’s and took it home. It is a very strong cheese and it really turned the whole recipe into something that I did not love and this made me so sad. I am definitely going to make this recipe again – but I will just make it with a different cheese. I loved the rest of the recipe.

After making the cauliflower fritters, I decided that the zoodles would have to wait. I was exhausted from cooking for hours! The meatballs were really easy but the fritters were kind of involved and the time they took to make surprised me. So this is what my dinner plate looked like on Friday:

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Two fritters and three meatballs. (The dipping sauce was on the side) I ate the fritters with some hot sauce. It was a very filling dinner! I think I will make the zoodles today to go with some of the grilled chicken we have for dinner tonight.

I am so excited for the warmer weather which means great produce and grilling – fantastic times are ahead, stay tuned!

If you recall, I made dinner last Saturday and I promised a report back on how things turned out…

Everything turned out so well. I can’t tell you what my favorite part of the meal was. My friend Katherine and I ate a lot of the salad and did not have a lot of room for the chicken lettuce wraps, but we managed to have one each. The salad was a huge hit and I ate the rest of it at work on Monday.

The salad was pretty simple – but lots of great flavors worked together to make it all wonderful:

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The salad had raw red onion and dried apricots in it. I cut the red onion and dried apricots and soaked them in white vinegar. I also cut up pita bread and almonds, and sautéed them in olive oil and a little butter. The dressing was a dash of olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of kosher salt. It was fantastic!!

The chicken lettuce wraps were also a big hit, and had great flavor. I got the recipe for this from the cookbook Bountiful. It came out perfectly and I love this recipe because it has amazing fresh flavors and it is on the light side:

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One of the great thing about cooking is taking the amazing left overs for lunch the next day:

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I added some cucumbers and tomatoes to my salad because there was not a whole lot left of the original salad (because it was AMAZING) and I ate the chicken mixture without the lettuce to wrap it up – a great source of protein.

Overall this dinner was a great success and it really got me back into cooking fresh and healthy food. I am so glad that it is spring time and that I am feeling more inspired these days!

Spring Anyone?

I broke up with winter a couple of weeks ago…. It is April 5th and I think winter possibly just got the memo that we are done with each other… at least for this year. It doesn’t quite feel like spring yet, but we are making progress.

What are you looking forward to now that spring is almost here? I am excited for fresh produce, warmer weather (seriously, I would take a day in the 60s) and longer days. I just love that the sun sets at 7:15 today. It is light out until 7:30. That helps me get a run in after work – and that is definitely a good thing!

So it has been a while since my last blog post. This winter has been long and I lost some inspiration when it came to cooking. Being healthy can sometimes be a little boring and can feel like the same thing day in and day out. But now that spring is here I have gotten the desire to cook new, different things and share them! Today I am making THREE new recipes. One from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and two from Bountiful by Todd Porter and Diane Cu.

Last night I set my alarm even though I did not have to get up at a certain time. I clicked the alarm on for 9:45 AM. A funny thing – I find that I sleep better when I set the alarm even on the weekends. If I don’t set an alarm for Saturday or Sunday morning I wake up a few times in the night to make sure I am not sleeping away the entire day. If I don’t set an alarm I could easily sleep until 11am – and that would really feel like a waste of a weekend day!

I woke up naturally at 9:20 AM and I felt so well rested! I started my coffee, threw in some laundry and started looking through my cookbooks and making a shopping list. This is the perfect Saturday, in my book! I also made a really good and fairly healthy breakfast for myself:

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Whole foods blueberry waffles with fresh blueberries and blackberries. A little Brummel & Brown on top and about a tablespoon of maple syrup. This breakfast felt decadent and really hit the spot.

I headed out to Whole Foods with a shopping list in hand. It was very busy at WF but I was able to find everything I needed for dinner. When I got back, I put everything away and started on my dough for the knot bread I was going to make to go with dinner. I also put together a quick lunch with leftovers from last night. WF couscous, grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, spinach, a drizzle of evoo and some freshly ground pepper. I think this might be a go to meal now:

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This lunch was SO. GOOD. In the afternoon I went out to Seven Stars to pick up a brownie that will go with dessert tonight, and I ordered a chai tea latte as an afternoon pick me up.

I started making my knot bread because it was something I could do ahead of time:

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The food scale came in really handy… and I also needed a ruler. Who knew!? Both of these tools were very helpful. I’m going to wrap up this post so that I can get back into the kitchen to start prepping a few more things for dinner. Stay tuned – I will post tomorrow to show you how the rest of dinner came out!

Hi there blog readers – Happy Sunday to you all! This week and weekend has gone by so quickly. This weekend I have spent a good amount of time in the kitchen making healthy food, and it is nice to know that I will be able to start my week off in a healthy way because of all of the work in the kitchen.

I made an interesting discovery about my eating habits thanks to the wonderful app My Fitness Pal. When you enter everything in to My Fitness Pal, as I do on most days every day for the last month!) you can get a complete read out on all of the nutrients you consume on any given day. Last weekend I was looking at the vitamins and minerals I was eating and what I was supposed to be consuming and came to a rather alarming discovery – I was never getting anywhere near the correct amount of Iron in my diet. I quickly wondered if this was why I was often tired or feeling run down. (Of course the other reason might be that I get up so early in the morning and can never quite fall asleep as early as I want to the night before.) On my weekend trip to Target, I started reading every label of food I ate to see how much iron was in everything. I made some choices on that trip to incorporate more iron into my diet. I bought a box of Blueberry Bliss Luna Bars (40% of iron in one bar) and Special K (45% of iron in one cup of cereal). I also treated myself to a box of one of my favorite ‘healthy’ desserts – vita top muffins! Lots of iron in one of those, too. This week I have been looking at my amount of iron, and I’m definitely getting closer to what I should be eating. I hope if I eventually start getting the correct amount of iron in my diet that it might improve my energy levels.

… So, I started writing this post three days ago!! But let’s see if we can jump right back into what I was going to tell you about :)

On Friday night I hung out with one of my best friends for one of our annual “we need to catch up” dinners. Normally when we get together for these dinners we go out – mostly to Not Your Average Joe’s or one of the two locally owned Mexican restaurants by our houses. But we are both trying to be really good about what we eat, so I offered to host our dinner and I made us healthy burritos. I used the random crock pot chicken that I made on our Wednesday snow day last week for the base of our burrito. We each used half of a Joseph’s lavash roll up, 1/3 C brown rice, a cup of spinach, the chicken, crushed tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese for our burritos. They were great and satisfying. I drank a lot of tea while we talked. I also snacked on some Trader Joe’s reduced guilt popcorn – I love this stuff, a little goes a long way!

On Saturday I weighed in and was thrilled to see that I have lost a total of two and a half pounds so far. I’m so pleased with this steady progress. I had my Special K and fruit with milk for breakfast along with a cup of coffee. Soon after breakfast I changed and headed out for the gym. I cannot wait to be able to run outside again!! At the gym I did the elliptical machine and weights. Then I ran over to the grocery store for fresh produce and shrimp. I already had an idea what I wanted to make for dinner!

Dinner on Saturday was my version of “healthy” take out. In my mind I was eating dinner from my favorite Thai restaurant. It was a vegetable stir fry with shrimp and couscous. (Yes, I shelled and deveined all of the shrimp myself.) The final product:

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This dinner was so good and I loved watching the Olympics while I ate this. The vegetables really added volume to my dinner which is always really helpful!

On Saturday I picked up all of the ingredients to make a new recipe that one of my friends told me about. I am so thankful to my friend Sara for sharing this Turkey meatloaf recipe with me – it is definitely one of my new favorite things and will be on my menu quite a lot from now on! Here is the recipe:

(adapted from the Weight Watchers website – for the original recipe, click here.)

Turkey, Zucchini, Quinoa & Sage Meatloaf

Ingredients:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup chili sauce (I used sriracha!)

1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium uncooked zucchini

1/2 C uncooked red quinoa, rinsed

1 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used less)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 pound lean turkey (I used 99% lean)

1 tsp mustard (I used a spicy mustard)

Directions:

Cook the red quinoa according to its directions (make sure to rinse!) Fluff the quinoa with a fork once it has finished cooking. Let it cool slightly

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray foil with cooking spray.

Sherd zucchini (I used my new Kitchen Aid box grater which worked really well!)

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Squeeze the zucchini dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Add egg whites, 1/4 C sriracha, onion, sage, salt and pepper. Add the turkey and quinoa and mix well.

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Shape the mixture into individual meatloaves (I just LOVE that these are individual portions!) measuring about 4 inches x 2 1/2 inches. I made eight loaves – but the recipes says you will make about six. Place ovals onto the treated cookie sheets.

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Stir together the remaining 1/4 C sriracha or other chili sauce with the mustard. Spread over each of the loaves. Bake until meat thermometer registers at least 165 degrees. 30 – 35 minutes.

(I cooked my loaves for 30 minutes and they registered at about 180 degrees – they still tasted delicious!)

The final product was extremely popular and I have already been asked to make this recipe again! Fantastic – I highly recommend making these today!

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Well, that about wraps it up today! We are in the midst of yet another snow storm right now. This winter is really a bit crazy. I cannot wait for spring :)

Week in Recap

Hi there readers! The week sort of whizzed by and I owe you a couple of blog posts! I concentrated on eating really well this week and getting to the gym as often as I could. That means Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I got to the gym. Thursday and Friday I went for walks because I felt really done with the gym and the weather had warmed up nicely! Every day this week I was well past my 10,000 step goal (tracked via my amazing Fitbit!)

The week went really well, and my food choices were all really solid. In the mornings I had green smoothies:

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(a cup of spinach, a handful of blueberries, half a banana, a scoop of Whole Foods vanilla whey protein, 1/4 plain 0% greek yogurt and a teaspoon of ground flax in each smoothie. Ice and water added so the mixture would blend in the Vitamix.) The smoothies were great even if it was a little cold for them.

Normally I would have a morning snack around 10:30 which would either be fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries or an apple) or a handful of a healthy something from my nature box. Normally I would pick the roasted chick peas. I love them! By noon I would be so ready for lunch. Thursday and Friday lunch was a turkey roll up with spinach and a thin slice of reduced fat swiss cheese – but I was lucky enough to have the left over spaghetti squash until Wednesday.

Dinners were sort of creative this week. Monday and Tuesday were salads with chicken breast for dinner:

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Wednesday night I was kind of done with salads, but I wanted to make sure to have protein and vegetables in my dinner. So I made 1 egg, 1 egg white and sautéed vegetables to go with it. It was a great dinner! I could eat this quite often. I put everything into a wrap:

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It rolled up so nicely!

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The one sad discovery I made this week was regarding my go to wrap – the Joseph lavash. Because I am tracking everything (yes even the random M&M I might have!) in my fitness pal, I get a really great read out regarding all of the nutrition I’m taking in. I never go over the allotted sodium, but because of these darned lavash wraps – I am eating way more sodium than I prefer to. Each wrap has 520 mg of sodium – and when you pair that with reduced sodium turkey (even reduced sodium turkey is full of sodium!!!) that brings your lunch to 961 mgs of sodium for one meal! Ugh. So I am going to search for some alternatives. I will let you know what I find.

By Thursday I was in a mood! I could feel that my body was kind of low on carbohydrates… I kept up with my normal routine during the day. I skipped the gym because I was already above my 10,000 step goal and I was exhausted. Was my body running low on fuel? I thought that was a possibility – so I made a good and healthy dinner…. with pasta! One of the things I love about doing a healthy eating routine on your own is that you can eat anything you want – in my book it’s just about portion control. So I wanted pasta, and I only made 1 cup of pasta. That was plenty for me to enjoy. I sautéed red peppers, garlic, and grape tomatoes. I meant to add spinach to the vegetables but I forgot! I also grilled 1 chicken sausage (I love the al fresco brand). This is how dinner looked when I was all done (the whole kitchen experience took about twenty minutes – another bonus, a quick meal! Of course there was clean up on the other end… maybe another ten minutes):

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This dinner was fantastic. It was really what I needed – I’m glad I listened to my body.

On Friday I continued to eat healthy. Friday night I set to work in the kitchen and made a very healthy and hearty soup for dinner. Another butternut squash and red lentil soup! This time I topped the bowls with scallions, cilantro, crispy things (to add some texture) and a couple of pieces of chicken sausage. This soup is SO GOOD.

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I followed my own recipe to make the soup again and it came out perfectly. Find the recipe for this soup here. I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try! It was such a perfect meal and the leftovers are really amazing, too! (Lunch today!)

As of Friday I had lost 1.6 pounds. It certainly is a slow slog but I think that is the best way to lose weight because you have a better chance of keeping it off. The battle continues!! Stay tuned. :) Happy weekend, everyone!

A Healthy Monday

I am writing with a little sense of accomplishment tonight. I have had a successful Monday! After feeling under the weather most of the weekend, I started my work week off on the right foot! I guess all of the sleep and rest over the weekend might have payed off. (Fingers crossed – here’s hoping this is not just a one day fluke!)

My morning started early. I was awake even before my alarm went off. That is always a mixed bag for me. My alarm goes off so early that I really hate being awake before it goes off. But at the same time, it is nice to not be woke up from a deep sleep by a really disturbing alarm. Anyhow. So, at 5:30 AM I was up and getting ready for work. My day at work was productive. My food choices were healthy. It started with breakfast. A bowl of oatmeal, 1/2 a tablespoon of peanut butter (I decided to cut back on nut butter today!) and a banana. I almost got through until lunch without snacking – but at 11:15 I did have a handful of roasted chickpeas (I just love these babies from Nature Box!)

My lunch was pretty healthy – left overs from last night. Spaghetti squash, homemade tomato sauce, and three lean turkey meatballs. I had two little pieces of a baguette and a light laughing cow piece of cheese:

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So, I didn’t really need the bread – but I felt like it really completed the meal. I think the cheese (with the protein and calcium – I’m always struggling to get enough calcium in my diet) helped tide me over for most of the afternoon.

I had a protein shake on my way to the gym on Monday afternoon. This really kept me going while I was on the elliptical machine, and shopping through Whole Foods for healthy dinner ingredients after my trip to the gym.

I was really doing a good job of talking myself out of going to the gym during my work day – I was so glad that my friends encouraged me to get over not wanting to go and just get to the gym. Woo! I felt so much better after going. I have taken over 16,500 steps on my Fitbit today!

Dinner tonight was a really great salad full of vegetables and grilled chicken (thanks to Whole Foods):

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This was a fantastic salad and I had been excited to eat it most of the day. Really – yes, I am that person that thinks about the amazing salad I am going to make for dinner and how good it is going to be. I’m just weird – I admit it.

The highlight of the evening was my new obsession, aka “dessert”. This is what I enjoyed while watching Rachel Maddow:

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OK, first of all – this is a very small bowl. To give you an idea of portion control, the bowl is sitting on a normally sized coaster. These are the bowls I used to use for ice cream – but I’m trying not to eat ice cream much these days as I am trying to shed the extra pounds. So what is in this bowl that looks sort of (super!) delicious, you ask? 3 tablespoons of truwhip, 3 strawberries and a sprinkle of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate chunks (think chips). I just loved that this dessert was rather healthy (strawberries) and just tasted so good. I could have done with more berries – but I saved some for tomorrow night :) Oddly enough, this entire dessert was exactly 100 calories (thanks to My Fitness Pal I did the calculations…) How perfect! It really hit the spot.

So, I’m going to sign off. I am going to try and keep up a good routine of getting enough sleep this week so I can stay healthy. Happy Monday evening, everyone! Hope your week is off to a good start so far.

We had quite the comfort food meal for our Sunday night dinner. We have been working on some home improvement projects, and for a couple of hours today that meant being without heat on a really cold day… so I thought what better excuse to whip up some real heart warming comfort food.

I was lucky enough to escape our fringed house for a while thanks to errands to Trader Joe’s and a few other places around town. I came back mostly empty handed, but with two paper bags full of groceries (and a few snacks thrown in too, because Trader Joe’s just has the best snacks ever.) Once I got home I threw on my scarf (it was cold!) and apron and got to work in the kitchen.

On the menu tonight – homemade turkey meatballs. I was going to do our favorite bison / turkey meatballs, but TJ’s does not seem to carry ground bison anymore. I did not fret when I found this out and just got a pound of all natural and very lean turkey. Making your own meatballs involves getting your hands dirty. Seriously gewy. It is not the most photo friendly thing to make. I washed my hands probably seven or eight times during this process – and I wasn’t even taking photos of what I was doing (and I am sorry for this – it just was not going to happen today!) For the record, I did stare at my camera and tripod for a moment, trying to think about setting everything up and just decided against it.

Once you have mixed all of your ingredients together, you can heat up some olive oil in a non-stick pan and sear the meatballs before putting them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper…

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One pound of ground turkey, two eggs, onions, garlic, tomato paste, spices, the zest of an orange, 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, all came together to make a lot of meatballs!

I cooked the meatballs in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. They were nice and browned when they came out of the oven. I had half of one to make sure they were ok. Were they ever!

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Once the protein was out of the oven, I cut a spaghetti squash in half and took out the seeds and membrane. I sprinkled it with kosher salt and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

Once it came out of the oven, I prepared the squash and I was so happy with how much “spaghetti” there was to eat! Plenty for dinner and two more meals (at least!) I just love healthy leftovers – especially when I haven’t thought ahead far enough to think about lunches for the week. A plate full of squash:

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During this process, I had also been making my homemade tomato sauce. I chopped up an onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 3 cloves of garlic and sautéed it all in olive oil. While the vegetables are cooking, add a sprinkle of salt (maybe a teaspoon) because that helps the vegetables “sweat it out”. The kitchen always smells amazing while this is happening. I just love sautéed onions, celery & carrots together. Every so often I think “I could eat this for dinner”… but normally I stop myself before that is the case.

The tomato sauce eventually came together, and after a couple of hours of cooking we had a complete meal – and it was healthy and delicious. On my plate: about a cup of spaghetti squash, half a cup of sauce, 3 meatballs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese as a garnish:

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This was such a great dinner and I have leftovers for tomorrow – my idea of a productive Sunday afternoon. See you soon!

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