Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week 17- finally!

Yesterday, I had one of those moments that sort of validated what you are doing.  It felt good and I wanted to share.  While the baby was asleep at home with daddy, I took my little boy to the playground near our house.  I knew this was my chance to sneak a workout in while he played, so here's what we did:  He rode his bike to the playground (probably .5 mile) while I ran beside him.  Then as he played, (mostly independently with my close supervision), I proceeded to climb the playground equipment, run around by chasing him, and use the park bench to do other exercises (such as tricep dips, push ups, squats, step ups, etc).   Most of the time we were alone, but other parents came and went.  It didn't stop me - at my age, I've learned to really not care what other people think.  But one dad stopped and said something to me, a point I've been trying to drive home in my Healthy Home posts.  He said, "Got to fit in a workout wherever and whenever you can, right?".   YES!!!  That's exactly what I've been talking about and he gets it.  So don't get discouraged if you don't make it to the gym, or get out alone for your run.  Find a way to make it work - it is possible!  Even if the other parents at the park are staring.  Ha!

So enough about fitness, let's talk food.  I love to try new recipes so this week (and most weeks from now on) will be a combination of new recipes and recipes I've already posted.  I have more evening events than usual which means I'm not doing as much cooking for dinner.  I'm hoping to make something yummy for myself to enjoy at lunch time, so I'll keep you posted if I squeeze in any of my ideas.  Have a great week!

Happy Cooking!

Week 17 - April 28, 2013

Sunday:  date night

Monday:  last parent/teacher meeting at my child's school - dinner and childcare provided

Tuesday: girls night out

Wednesday: Italian Baked Chicken, garden salad, roasted broccoli

Thursday: lemony shrimp risotto with arugula, caesar salad, roasted asparagus

Friday: pizza night

Saturday:  leftovers

 And if the day allows for it, here are a couple lunch ideas I would love to give a whirl:
Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes & Avocados

Chicken, Pesto, and Spinach Quinoa

Saturday, April 27, 2013

No-fat Added Breakfast Muffins

A friend of mine emailed me this recipe and I just had to try it.  We love muffins in this house.  I love to eat them with peanut butter for a quick breakfast and I love to give them to my children for a snack.  This recipe is awesome and very versatile.  Make it your own and feel free to make substitutions, additions, or omissions.   So yummy and satisfying!  And they are so moist you would never know they have no added fat!  Awesomeness!!!  I'm going to make them again this weekend using applesauce instead of pumpkin and adding in some wheat bran.  I'll let you know how they come out. 

Happy Baking!

No-fat added Breakfast Muffins
based on this recipe from the pioneer woman:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup round flaxseed/flaxseed meal
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 banana, mashed
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup of apple sauce, so use whatever you have in your house)
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (I only sprinkled 1/4 walnuts on half the muffins - I wanted the baby to be able to eat some and she can't eat nuts yet)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin (I used Pam baking spray).  In a medium sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.

In a larger bowl, mash the banana and add the other wet ingredients (buttermilk, egg, pumpkin, molasses).  Whisk together to ensure that all the wet ingredients are well incorporated.  Now add the dry ingredients (and nuts if you are adding them to all muffins) to the wet and stir only until combined.  Don't over mix or you'll get a tough muffin.  Using an icecream scoop or a large spoon, divide batter evenly in the pan (this recipe should only yield 12 muffins).  
I forgot to take a picture of the steps along the way, so here is one of the empty mixing bowls!  HA!
Almost ready for the oven...
I topped 6 muffins with some crushed nuts.  I needed to keep some nut-free for my kids, but I LOVE nuts!  Yummy!!!

Bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or until cool to the touch.  Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Low-fat Mustard Dill Potato Salad

What screams summer and barbeques more than a good potato salad recipe???  But who wants all the calories of the traditional mayonnaise laden recipe.  I used a popular trick these days and instantly took have the fat and calories away - I substituted half the mayonnaise for greek yogurt.  The best part?  No one knew the difference!!!  Not even me...and I'm picky.  I will only use one type of mayonnaise that rhymes with shmellmans because I can tell the difference in flavors.  I really can! I've tried a lot of different kinds of shmellmans too.  I don't mind the kind made with olive oil, so that's what I buy.  It does save some fat and calories from the regular version.  The light and other versions just taste yucky to me...but that's just me.

Now back to this delicious potato salad!  Of course you need to like two things for this to be your new "go to" recipe:  mustard and dill.  If you do, then you are in luck!  Give this recipe a try and you won't be disappointed! 

Low-fat Mustard Dill Potato Salad
recipe based on
3 pounds small white potatoes
Kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise (use light, made with olive oil, or any version you can tolerate or usually have in your fridge)
1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 dill pickle spears, finely chopped (like a relish consistency...use 1/4 cup of dill pickle relish if you have it and save yourself the pain of chopping 2 pickle spears)

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Allow the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the towel and allow the potatoes to cool down.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters or in half, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, start assembling the rest of the ingredients.  Add the celery and red onion.  
Add the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, buttermilk, Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, dill, dill pickles, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  (I did not add any salt because of the dill pickles and dill pickle juice, but you may find it needs more salt - my husband did). 
Lot of dill!!!
more chunky ingredients...
And the dressing after everything is added. Only thing missing is the potatoes!
While the potatoes are still warm, pour enough dressing over them to moisten. 

Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend.   So yummy!  Enjoy!

Crockpot BBQ Babyback Ribs

My husband LOVES ribs and I've never attempted to make my own before Wednesday.  Baby back ribs were on sale at my grocery store this week so I thought I would give them a whirl.

After our first baby, good friends brought us dinner - ribs.  They were beyond good so I asked her how she made them.  She said she used her crockpot!  Seriously???  I did some research and found a recipe that looked promising.  I didn't use her BBQ sauce recipe because I didn't have time before our scheduled playdate.  Instead, I used a bottle of our favorite BBQ sauce.  Again, not the healthiest choice, but I needed to save time.  You can find the full recipe at:

These were amazing!  Even the baby was gobbling up the meat.  I made 4 lbs and we hardly had any leftovers.  I served them with roasted broccoli and a low-fat mustard dill potato salad.  And with the warm weather back, it's grilling season!  So instead of starting or finishing them up in the oven, use your grill!   I hope you give them a try!

Happy Cooking!

Crockpot BBQ Babyback Ribs
4 lbs of baby back pork ribs
1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
1/4 cup water

Before we stick these bad boys in the crockpot to slow roast and melt in your mouth for 8 hours, we need to give them some color.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the rack in half (this makes it easier to fit in the crockpot later).  Sprinkle both sides with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. 

Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for 15 minutes more.  The fat with render out, leaving it on the baking sheet and not in your crockpot.  This step also caramelizes the meat which will give it good flavor in the long run.  Place the ribs in the crockpot and pour the BBQ sauce on top.  Fill the bottle with 1/4 cup of water, shake the bottle, and pour it into the crockpot to get the remaining BBQ sauce out.

I forgot to take a picture of them when they came out of the oven, but you can tell by the pan that they browned up nicely.

Cook on low for 8 hours and try not to take the lid off.  Let the ribs just be and they will be falling off the bone tender. 
At this point you can serve the ribs as is, with a side of the BBQ sauce from the crockpot.  However, you can also caramelize the sauce some more and throw them back in the oven at 400 for 10-15 minutes. (Or throw them on the grill for some grill marks, caramelizing, and great smoky flavor). 

As you can see, they look great before I put them in the oven.
And after...who's ready to eat?
Serve these with your favorite sides.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Skinny White Chicken Chili Enchiladas

Looking for a delicious, low-fat, easy, at-home, creamy enchilada recipe?  This is it!  So yummy and I almost forgot to mention, easy on your hips too!  Each enchilada comes in at less than 300 calories!!!  Definitely worth a try.  My husband really enjoyed them and even asked to take the leftovers for lunch (and he's not a big leftover person).  Yay!  I made these on Tuesday and I've been enjoying them for lunch this week too.   I should also mention that my toddler helped me make these, almost every step of the way.

So there is one aspect of this recipe I'm not proud of - I'm not a huge fan of using cream soup from a can, but I did crack under pressure and use it for this recipe.  If you are completely opposed, just make a simple bechamel sauce (such as this recipe  But today I needed to save myself the time and just use the dreaded can of soup.  I served this fantastic creation with some fat-free refried beans (I had left over from the baked tacos last week) and sauteed greens.

Happy Cooking!

Skinny White Chicken Chili Enchiladas
recipe based on
16 oz. fat free sour cream
1 can fat free cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast (recipe I used is below)
1 small onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can diced green chilies
8-10 low carb tortillas (my recipe made 10, but my tortillas were small)
1 cup shredded reduced fat pepper jack and colby cheese blend

If you have some leftover chicken, then go ahead and use it up.  But if you are like me and need to create some shredded chicken for this recipe then please see below for my quick and easy cilantro lime poached chicken.

To poach the chicken:  Fill a large frying pan half way with water.  Add 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed of all fat) and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper.  Then add the following to the poached liquid:  2 cloves of garlic cut in half, 1/2 small onion cut in half, 1/2 lime cut into 4 pieces (juice squeezed into pan and rind thrown in) and 4 sprigs of cilantro.
My quick cilantro lime poached chicken, before the poaching began
Cook covered over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through. 

And they are done!
Remove the chicken from the pan and shred.  Set 2-2.5 cups aside for the recipe and save the rest for salads.

Now to the enchiladas:  We will continue to use the same frying pan for this entire recipe, (especially since I'm always looking for a way to cut down on the number of dishes to wash).  So wipe the pan out with a damp paper towel and put back on the heat.  Add 1 T of olive oil and the chopped onion.  Cook the onion until translucent.  Add the canned tomatoes with chilies and the can of chilies.  Stir to combine.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. 

Take off the heat and add the shredded chicken.

Time to stuff and roll the tortillas.  You can see from the picture below that I put about 1/2 cup of filling in each tortilla and roll (no burrito folding, just roll).  Place the enchiladas in a 9x13 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Continue to form enchiladas until the filling is gone.  The recipe should yeild 8-10, depending on the size of tortilla used and the amount of filling in each.

Here's the kind of tortilla I used this time!
Now it's time to make the white chili cream sauce.  Using the same pan again, (no wiping out this time - you want all that goodness and flavor) add the sour cream, cream soup, and chopped cilantro.  Mix until well incorporated.  Continue to stir over medium heat until warmed.  Be careful not to bring to a boil, just allow it to heat up. 
My little guy working hard to help mommy!
The sauce should look like this when ready to go:

Now pour the sauce over the enchiladas and spread evenly.  It may look like a lot, but it will settle as it cook in the oven. 

Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melty. 
Sprinkle with more fresh cilantro, if desired, and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with your favorite sides.
Tonight we had some refried beans and sauteed greens on the side (no need for rice - there are enough carbs on this plate!).  So yummy!  And I really loved the white chili cream sauce with the greens too. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mushroom Agnolotti with Spinach and a Light Lemon Wine Sauce

This dinner just came to me as I went along, using ingredients that were in my fridge and things on sale at the grocery store this week.  And no - I didn't make homemade ravioli.  I'm not about to attempt that with two kids on my own.  Maybe when they get older and their attention span can handle it.  Ha!  For now, it was store-bought that was on sale this week.  Although this recipe only uses 1 package of fresh ravioli, it feed 2-3 adults (2 in my house as we are big eaters).  If you want to feed 4 adults or 2 adults and 2-3 kids, then double the recipe.

So yummy!!!  It was a simple meal that even beginners can make and it will look and taste like you ordered it at a 5 star Italian restaurant - I promise.  Of course you will need to be a mushrooms lover to eat this version, but you can make substitutions (a different kind of ravioli and no mushrooms added, maybe another veggie instead).   I hope you give this one a try!

Happy Cooking!

Mushroom Agnolotti with Spinach in a Light Lemon Wine Sauce
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp herbs de Provence
Salt & pepper to taste
1 clove of minced garlic
the juice and zest of 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 cup dry white wine (I use what I like to drink - Savignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
1/2 cup pasta water
6 oz baby spinach
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
9 oz wild mushroom agnolotti (look for it in the refrigerated pasta section of your local grocery store)

Boil a large pot of water for the ravioli (I add salt and some olive oil).  Meanwhile heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil.  Add the sliced mushrooms, herbs de provence, and salt & pepper. 

Stir to combine.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing the mushrooms to cook down until tender and golden brown.  Now add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Then add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and white wine.  Stir to deglaze the pan and bring to a boil.  At this point you want to add the fresh ravioli to the boiling water, as it will only take 4-5 minutes to cook as you finish off your sauce.  Remove 1 cup of pasta water (after you've added the pasta - you need the starch to bring the sauce together).  Add the pasta water to the mushrooms and sauce, then immediately add the spinach.  Stir and the spinach should cook very quickly.  Once the spinach has wilted, remove the sauce from the heat. 

Once cooked according to package directions, drain the ravioli and add it to the sauce along with the Parmesan cheese. 

Stir to combine and allow the ravioli to sit in the sauce for about 5 minutes (at this point, add more pasta water if you need to create more sauce).  Cover with a lid to keep hot.  This allows the pasta to absorb some of the flavor.  Serve with more cheese sprinkled on top. 

So yummy!!!  I served this dish with a side of roasted asparagus, my favorite spring vegetable!  Enjoy!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 16 - Sweet Simplicity

Last week was a long week, not just because of the Boston Marathon bombings and the days that followed, but because it was school vacation week and my baby girl was teething.  The boy is back in school this week, but baby girl continues to be very needy (hopefully its only teething and not another ear infection) and my husband is working long hours.  I'm looking for simple meals to get me through this week. 

My fitness routine has changed slightly - I've began to include the following strength workouts to compliments any other kickboxing or running/walking I'm able to fit in with my children.  I've been finding all of these workouts at Peanut Butter Fingers...awesome routines on her blog!!!
 - This one will work your whole body:
 - Another great full body workout with cardio mixed in:

 - This one includes cardio and strength that targets your abs:

- And this final routine is for your arms only.  I add it on to the end of a cardio session (after I run/walk, bike, or at the end of the cardio routine listed in the next section of this post):|workout|tonearms|11-06-12

I always warm up before and stretch after.  And I'm still exercising every day, fitting it in anyway I can (taking baby girl for a walk/run in the stroller, exercising with the kids, taking them to the tennis courts and chasing tennis balls around...anything to get to 30-40 minutes a day).   And here's a quick 10 minute cardio routine that you can do while you are having a dance party with the kids:

Back to week 16 meals:  You'll find my weekly meal plan below along with any links that inspired me.  Remember that you can substitute any vegetables for ones that you love, but always have vegetables be at least half your plate at lunch and dinner.  You'll feel more full for very few calories.  Have a fantastic week!

Happy Cooking!

 Week 16: April 21, 2013

Sunday: date night

Monday: store- bought ravioli (on sale at my local grocery store) tossed with a little olive oil, garlic, sauteed mushrooms and spinach.  Served with roasted asparagus.

Tuesday:  skinny white chicken enchiladas with sauteed greens

Wednesday: crockpot BBQ ribs, skinny dill potato salad, roasted broccoli  (all original recipes that I will post)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: roasted chicken, couscous, salad (chickens are on sale AGAIN, so why not take advantage?)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Strong

It has been a rough week here in Boston. The kind of week that makes you hold your family closer, makes you anxious every time you hear a siren, makes you cry with the families who have experienced terrible loss, and celebrate all the good witnessed as the tragedy unfolded.

Monday was a holiday in the state of Massachusetts - Patriots Day. A day that celebrates our forefathers and the freedoms they fought for in the revolutionary war. A weekend that celebrates, commemorates, and reenacts the opening battle in Lexington and Concord. It was also a day that thousands planned on celebrating the completion of a milestone in their lives - running the Boston marathon.

For those of you who haven't ever been or aren't familiar with the Boston Marathon scene, it is a HUGE event for people of all ages. It is more than just a marathon, it is a Bostonian social event.  The marathon bombing not only injured, maimed, and killed athletes and their families, it effected those spectators in the surrounding area there to celebrate the day and an entire city watching.

These days that have followed have been just as tough.  More bomb scares, false arrest reports, and then today - waking up to complete chaos.  Boston is a ghost town.  We've been asked to be on "alert" and stay in our homes.  Some areas are being evacuated and thoroughly searched as police are pursuing the remaining suspect.  More lives lost, more injured, and the fear remains.

Obviously, food and what I'm cooking for dinner tonight doesn't matter this week.  Safety of our friends and family matters.  Talking to my family on the phone, hearing their voices, and knowing that we are alright for now, that matters.  Cuddling with my children and telling my husband how much I love him matters. 

Please keep Boston in your thoughts and prayers.  Please hold your loved ones close and call those you haven't talked to in a while.  Life is short and unpredictable.  Live in the moment and love deeply.

Stay strong Boston!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 15 - keep on keepin' on

This week I'm just going to keep on doing what I've been doing - eating healthy (mostly) and working out daily.  My focus has always been on a healthy lifestyle for me and my family.  Losing weight was just a side-effect of my lifestyle changes.  Now I'm going to start changing up my fitness routines again, adding more strength training with cardio.  My personal fitness goal for the next 12 weeks is to work on defining my muscles more.  I'll keep you posted on some new workouts I'm going to put into practice.

My meal plan this week is going to focus on some lower-fat comfort food classics that I've already blogged about.  I'll post this weeks plan and links to the recipes.  If I make any changes to my recipes I will post the revised version.  Otherwise, I'll be blogging about my life and fitness a little more than usual.  Have a great week!

Happy Cooking,

Week 15: April 14, 2013

Sunday- leftovers

Monday - pan seared salmon, sauteed spinach, whole wheat couscous, sliced tomatoes

Tuesday - date night

Wednesday- turkey meatballs with whole grain angel hair, light caesar salad, and roasted broccoli

Thursday- oven baked tacos, tomato & avocado salad, sauteed greens

Friday - pizza night

Saturday-  leftovers

Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas

The name says it all!  These were easy, healthy, and delicious!  No seasoning packets, just fresh ingredients and the oven does all the work.  Less than 15 minutes prep and you are ready to go!   The chicken was so good, even the baby girl was gobbling it up. 

I served the chicken fajita filling with brown rice, black beans, homemade guacamole and roasted brussel sprouts.  (To make a quick homemade guacamole, just mix two ripe hass avocados with the juice of 1/2 lime and salt to taste - super easy and really yummy!) You can make fajitas in a whole grain tortilla, or build fajita bowls with beans and rice like my husband and I did.  My toddler had a chicken "Taco" (no peppers and onions for him) with a giant bowl of brown rice and beans - his favorite!  I bought a can of cuban style black beans, all ready to go - check the ingredient list and make sure your can has nothing you can't pronounce.  You will LOVE this recipe!

Happy Cooking!

Easy Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas
Sarah's original recipe inspired by 
1.5 lbs or about 2 large boneless, skinless, chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced (or enough to make the amount of peppers and onions about the same)
2 T olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
assorted toppings such as salsa, reduced-fat shredded cheese, lettuce, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole
whole grain tortillas or rice & beans for serving

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.  Place the cut up chicken in the pan and sprinkle all the seasonings on top. 
Toss the chicken together with the seasonings.  (I hate touching raw meat, especially raw chicken, so I use disposable medical gloves - the kinds you can get at any pharmacy.  Now I can touch the meat and then throw the gloves away.)  Set aside.

Slice the peppers and onions and place in the pan.  Toss with the chicken until well combined.
Try to cut up equal amounts of pepper and onion.
Ready to go in the oven!
Bake the chicken fajita filling for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through, stirring every 10-15 minutes.  The cooking time will vary slightly, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.

Serve immediately!  Yummy!!!
Serve with your favorite vegetable on the side, tonight it was brussel sprouts.

And if you would prefer to have a fajita bowl over a wrap, then layer the brown rice, black beans, and chicken mixture.  Top with your favorite toppings (cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, etc) and serve!  Enjoy!!!