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Mediterranean Zucchini Boats…Delicious

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A couple of weeks ago, I saw a recipe for zucchini boats in a magazine, and book marked the idea away in my brain until a later date.  Earlier this afternoon, I was just feeling kind of not like doing much…including cooking dinner, when suddenly this recipe idea popped in my head.  I decided to give it a try…and it was a success!

Zucchini is such a summer vegetable to me.  I love it raw with dip, steamed with salt and pepper, baked with cheese on top, mixed in with marinara sauce, cooked into a quiche, and baked in bread.  Just about anyway you can prepare it, I will eat it.  With the summer weather lingering here in Indiana, a zucchini dish seemed perfect.

Mediterranean Zucchini Boats

Yields:  4 total boats, 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 small-medium zucchinis
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp of garlic salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/5 block of tofu (pressed and cut into small pieces)
  • 2 cups of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat feta

Directions:
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.  Cut each zucchini length wise, and scoop the center out of each half of the zucchini.  Place on a baking sheet.

In a medium skillet heated to medium high heat, place the balsamic vinegar, bell pepper, tomato, tofu, garlic salt, and basil until slightly browned.

Once browned add in the spinach and allow the spinach to wilt.  Once the spinach is wilted, add in the cottage cheese and combine thoroughly.

After the cheese, tofu, and vegetable mixture is thoroughly combined, scoop even portions into each zucchini boat. Top each zucchini boat with the feta cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  This meal was delicious, light enough to be summer meal, but filling enough to be a dinner.  Quinoa makes an excellent side dish with this meal.

Nutrition per 2 boats:

Calories–163  Fat–8.2g  Carbs–14.1g  Protein–18.4g

Go ahead…give this meal a try 🙂  You won’t regret it!

Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Feta and Quinoa Salad

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Today has been a busy day from the get-go, but first I will recap about last night’s dinner, because it was pretty tasty.

I noticed recently that with my crazy and unpredictable schedule and teaching classes at night, I often let dinners kind of fall on the wayside and end up making less than exciting things to eat.  In an attempt to change that, I found a couple of recipes that looked nutritious and delicious.  Both important factors 🙂  Last night’s dinner was a new-to-me recipe, once again inspired by Clean Eating magazine.

Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Feta and Quinoa Salad

Cook Time:  about 1 hour

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of prepared quinoa
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup of kale, just the leaves removed from the hard stems, rinsed and dried
  • 4-6 oz of wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup low fat feta cheese

Directions:

In medium sauce pan, prepare quinoa according to package.  Once cooked, spread quinoa out on a plate or baking sheet to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a glass baking dish (9×13) toss tomatoes, cauliflower, ball pepper, onion, and garlic.  In a separate small bowl combine the mustard, vinegar, olive oil and pepper.  Toss the mustard dressing with the vegetables.  Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven on the lowest rack.  Allow to cook for 15 minutes.  Then, remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes.

On a nonstick baking pan, spread out the kale.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  In a separate pan, place the salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place both in the oven on the top rack for about 15 minutes.

Break salmon into large flakes.

Add the quinoa and the feta to the vegetable mixture.  Divide the veggies into two or three dishes.  Top with kale and salmon.  Enjoy!!!

Nutrition:

2 Person Serving Option Calories:  369.3    Fat:  13.2g   Carbs:  37.2g   Protein:  29.2g

3 Person Serving Option Calories:  246.2   Fat:  8.8g   Carbs:  24.8g  Protein:  19.5g

 

Now, back to my busy day…recap lata gata 😉

Body Combat Obsessed and a Photo Shoot

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Hello!  Long time no see.  I have had a busy couple of days full of driving to Fort Wayne, group fitness classes, Vera Bradley, and birthday celebrations.

On Tuesday, as soon as Brian was finished with class, we loaded up the car and headed to Fort Wayne so that I could be a part of the Vera Bradley Fall into Fashion photo shoot.  Last year, around this time I was apart of their Winter 2011 catalog shoot, and I had a blast doing it!  When I saw that they were looking for more models for their Fall 2012 shoot and that the shoot was taking place in Fort Wayne, I had to apply…and I was selected!  So, Brian and I headed to Fort Wayne a day early to spend a little quality time with my Mom.

 

Last time I visited Mom, I attended a Body Combat class with her.  Body Combat is a Les Mills class that is pre-choreographed to music.  The types of movements used are “fighting” moves like punches, jabs, and kicks.  The workout really gets the heart rate up and makes you sweat.  On top of that, it makes you feel like a badass (excuse the language but it really does).  Since Brian was with us, I thought it would be fun for him to try out this workout class, and I am so glad that we decided to do that!

This time, the classes intensity was ramped up by about 1000%.  The instructor turned the lights out, gave all of the new people glow sticks to holding in their dominant punching hand and cranked the music.  It was awesome!  We all had such a great time doing it, and I can’t wait to visit Mom and go again.

After the class, we were all pretty sweaty and hungry.  Luckily, Smoothie King had free samples waiting for us on our way out 😉

Mom and I after Combat

We headed home, and Mom whipped up a quick and delicious dinner of lettuce wraps.  They kind of reminded me of a saucier version of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wrap appetizer.  Mom and Brian’s wraps were made with ground beef and mine were made with tofu.  I have never been a big fan of red meat, so the alternate menu was much appreciated 😉

While Mom was cooking, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to put together a batch of chocolate protein muffins, however, when I asked my mom to preheat the oven to 350 degrees she accidentally preheated the oven to broil, so the muffins were a little overdone.

In order to let our food settle, we then headed out with my puppies for a little walk.  Mom showed me her raspberry and strawberry bushes…I can’t wait for those babies to grow berries!

We then threw a couple of balls around with the dogs (well Mom and and Brian and I spectated) and headed back home.  Brian unwrapped a couple of belated birthday presents from Mom, and then we all had a little bit of homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert…this dessert is so light and delicious, it really screams summer to me.

We then headed to bed so that we could have our beauty rest for the Vera Bradley shoot.

Vera Bradley

We arrived to the shoot at 7:30am, which honestly allowed me to sleep in a little bit compared to my usual group fitness class time of 6am.  Like most photo shoots, there is a lot of waiting and patience involved, so I occupied my time by practicing my Body Pump combinations.  I always carry some sort of notebook with me, but for some reason I didn’t have one with me at all yesterday…so a napkin had to do the trick.  They also had Luna bars for snacking, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

After a long day of waiting, the end of the day began to near and it was finally my time to be put to work.  Although there was waiting involved, it was still a great experience because of the kindness of the people working for Vera Bradley, the other models, and being able to watch the entire shoot take place!  I love all of the new patterns (literally!) and I cannot wait to see the outcome of the shoot 🙂

We finally arrived home around 5:30pm and Mom had dinner waiting for us.  Tilapia served along side roasted zucchini with cheese on top.  Those little zucchini medallions were probably my favorite part of the meal, and I could have eaten the entire plate.  Somehow, I contained myself.

We also had a tasty side salad.  Gotta love the veg 😉

 

After dinner, we loaded up the car once again and headed back to Indianapolis.  I practiced a bit more Body Pump in the car, but I was beat!! I fell asleep on the way home, and then as soon as we got home, I hit the hay.  It was a fun, exciting, but long and tiring day.  It’s tough life being a model 😉

Today

Today, started bright and early so that I could review the most recent tracks I have added to my Body Pump repertoire.  Because I woke up so early, I ate my oatmeal breakfast before class.  Usually, it makes me nervous to eat a full meal before exercising, but I had more than an hour to digest and everything was completely fine.  Plus, I woke up hungry, and being hungry during Body Pump can make it harder for me to put in my full effort.

I actually cooked my oats this morning rather than making them the night before.  I added a bit of my Plant Fusion protein powder, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, stevia, 1 Tbsp of Greek yogurt for creaminess, and some chocolate PB2.  It was delicious and tasted like cookie dough. 🙂  Just the way I like to start my day!

I then team taught Body Pump, and had a great time doing it!  I made a small mistake, but because I knew my choreography I was able to recover and continue on. My next goal with Body Pump is to be able to teach the first 5 tracks of class.  My next team teaching session is Saturday….let’s see if I can do it!

I then came home and practiced more Body Pump so that I can achieve my goal on Saturday, and when I was bored of doing that it was time for my run.  I had 7 miles on the schedule today and I was feeling good.  I know we all have those days when running is literally the last thing that on the list that we want to do, and my last attempt at running more than 5 miles was one of those days, so I was a bit nervous starting out.  But as soon as the first Broadway tune (yes, I listen to Broadway while running 😉 ) hit my ears, I knew it was going to be great.

I found my pace, and for me, when I find my pace it is like finding the rhythm of your body.  Once I get in that groove, there is no getting out and the entire run just feels like you are coasting through the air.  I LOVE that feeling!

Completed:  7 miles in just over 1 hour…not too shabby if you ask me.

I then showered, and made myself some lunch.  Lunch was basically the usual, tuna, hummus, and veggies.  I also had a LOVE bite for some healthy fats and a little something sweet.

 

I then headed out to a little coffee shop called Mo’ Joe so that I could change the usual scenery while I did some job hunting and cleared out my e-mail inbox.  To give me a little extra fuel, I sipped on Mo’ Joe’s most popular drink the Honey Bee iced latte.  A cinnamon and honey latte made with skim milk…I can definitely understand why it is the most popular!

I hope you all are having an amazing Thursday and are getting ready for the weekend!

Of Possible Interest:

 

 

Picky About My Equipment

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Yesterday evening I did something fun and unique…

I sang the National Anthem at an Indiana ICE hockey game.  In high school, me and my group of friends called ourselves the Lemon Sistas and sang at nearly every sporting event that needed the National Anthem in high school.  We also sang at churches and events throughout the community.  Even with all of that experience singing The Star Spangled Banner, I realized last night that this was my first  time singing at a sporting even alone.

It was an excellent experience!  I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about slipping on the ice, but once I was out there everything was fine.  As I was singing the lyrics though, I started to think about the words too much, and realized how easy it really could be for someone to forget the words to a song we all know so well.  Luckily, I didn’t leave any words out 😉

Dinner

Last night, I made Brian his birthday dinner because tonight (his actual birthday) we are going to to eat with his parents.  Brian never really craves certain foods, or offers much input while I make the menu and grocery list for the week, but when I suggested salmon for his special meal he was quick to agree!

My mom had a salmon rub at one point (literally years ago) that had a touch of cinnamon in it, but it was sooo delicious.  The hint of cinnamon mixed with the salmon simply complimented so well and made for a flavorful dish.  Last night,  I tied to recreate that rub:

Cinnamony Salmon Spice Rub

Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and rub onto the salmon before baking.

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Ground Red Pepper

I am not quite sure of the measurements because I just started mixing and pouring and tasting, and when it finally tasted good to me, I rubbed it on the fish.  No oil needed! 

Served with asparagus, my favorite springtime veggie, this meal hit the birthday spot.

Workout

Today, I revisited an old friend, the elliptical.

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In my college days, the elliptical was my go-to.  Since I have graduated, I have been much more involved in running outdoors, and spinning when it comes to cardio.  It was nice to zone out on the elliptical for 20 minutes before I lifted some weights doing my 4 move shoulder routine, but I must say I am a bit picky when it comes to elliptical selection.

I like to be able to move forward and backward and change the incline and resistance myself so that I can create a little routine.  This machine, however, shut off whenever I switched directions or resistance, and I couldn’t adjust the incline.  At least I got a little sweaty 😉

Breakfast

For breakfast this morning, I tried something new for the second time, and both times it just hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to.

I have been trying to make Make-Ahead Oatmeal Smoothies, and they are just turning out really runny….and I know why.  It is because I am not using chia seeds.  I thought I could get away with it, I even tried to use hemp seeds instead….and it just isn’t cutting it.  The chia seeds absorb liquid and create a gel like substance, so they are great as thickening agents in these overnight concoctions, but without it…they simply get runny.  Looks like I am going to have to invest in some chia seeds…soon!

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!  I will be spending the day on the golf course with the Maestro Open for the Indianapolis Symphony…hopefully the weather holds out!

Question of the Morning:

  • Are you picky about your exercise equipment?
  • What do you do to get your cardio in?  Run outside, bike, elliptical, walk, group exercise???

 

The Same Foods Over and Over

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This morning started the way I prefer every morning to begin…with a sweaty workout session.  When I complete my workout in the morning, I just have a lot more motivation throughout the rest of the day to stay productive, and today I need that extra motivation.

My workout this morning was another BodyPump class.  The reason I am attending so many BodyPump classes is because these classes are choreographed to music, and when Saturday rolls around I need to have the class memorized and be ready to teach it…basically.  So the more repetition I can get in…the better!  But I still don’t want to over-do it so that on Saturday and Sunday I can actually work.

After coming home from the gym, I showered, and refueled with the same breakfast as yesterday.  My Overnight Oats in a Jar. When I find something I like, I could usually eat it every. single. day.  My mom thinks I am crazy for that, because she likes a lot of variety in her diet 😉 What can I say…I know what I like!

I even added the peaches again.  Prepping my breakfast the night before really streamlines my morning when I have a lot of things to get done.

Off to start my busy day!!

 

Question of the Morning:

  • Do you like to eat the same foods everyday, or do you try to switch it up???

 

Creative Protein Ideas

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Good Morning!

This morning I headed out bright and early to another BodyPump class.  I know it is best to give your muscles a day of rest when training, but last night at the Les Mills new release launch event we only did half of a BodyPump class…and I wanted the full thing, so I came back for more today.  I must say…the new shoulder track is killer!  But in a good way 😉

I had a startling experience this morning.  It was dark as I walked out to my car this morning.  Finding my car and remember where I have parked is always a little bit of a challenge…even in the day light.  So, this morning I walked out to my car, and I looked down and noticed that a hub cap was missing!!

Now, before I left for the cruise I had two missing hub caps.  While I was gone, my parents kindly replaced them for me, so when I looked down to see no hub cap my hear dropped.  How did this happen?  I couldn’t remember hitting any curbs lately.  I was baffled…until I looked at the body of the car and realized it wasn’t mine!  My car was parked next to this car, and they were both a similar color (and it was dark!).  I was sooo relieved that I had not lost a hub cap.  What a  dramatic way to start the morning!

Breakfast

After BodyPump, I headed home and it was time for breakfast.  A little overnight oat action is what I decided on for today.  Or should I say “in the morning oats” because I didn’t actually prep them last night.

Today’s mix-ins were half an apple, 2 tsp of homemade peanut butter, and Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder.  It certainly hit the spot!

Protein Powder Ideas

Lately, I have been finding all sorts of ideas and recipes for protein powder.  Spark People has a list of 15 new ways to use protein powder, which definitely got my recipe creating brain thinking.  The recipe that intrigued me the most?  The protein cookie!  I am going to have to create a recipe for that.

Here are some of the ways I use my protein powder to make it a little easier to incorporate protein into my diet without having to eat a ton of meat.

Overnight Oats

Regular Oats

Smoothies

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Homemade Protein Bars

 

Question of the Morning:

  • What are some of your favorite ways to use protein powder?
  • Have you ever walked up to the wrong car and thought that it was yours?
  • Have you ever lost your car in the parking lot?

Overnight Oats Tutorial

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I was first introduced to the idea of overnight oats through the blog world.  Many bloggers (myself included) really enjoy a morning bowl of the nutritious whole grain, and it seems as though we are always coming up with a new way to prepare them.  Overnight oats are simply your regular oats that you make oatmeal with soaked in twice the amount of liquid in the refrigerator overnight.  That is the basic formula, but the variations on this equation are ENDLESS!

How to Make Overnight Oats

Begin b by measuring out your oats.  I typically start with either 1/2 cup.  Then pour that into your bowl, or container of choice.

Next, measure out your liquid.  This will be double the amount of oats that you put in your bowl.  Now, this is where you can start to get creative.  Most of the time I just combine 1/2 cup of oats with 1 cup of water, but you could do 1/2 cup of milk (almond, cow, soy, etc…) with 1/2 cup of yogurt for extra thick and creamy overnight oats.  You could even use some pasturized egg whites to get some protein.  Do whatever your taste buds desire!

When I don’t use yogurt or egg whites, I mix in some protein powder so that I can get adequate protein in my morning meal.  Just one scoop will do!

I then like to add in vanilla extract, maybe some stevia, cinnamon, or other flavorings so that they can really soak through the entire bowl of oats all night.

The last step is to simply place in the fridge and wait until the morning! (This process can also be done in about an hour if you forget to do it the night before.)

In the morning, simply remove the bowl from the fridge and add your toppings.  My toppings are usually fruit and nut butter, but yours can be whatever  you want!  Crunchy cereal, nuts, granola, the possibilities are unlimited.

Cinnamon and Blueberry toppings

Cinnamon and Blueberry toppings

Apple topping

These oats are so simple, and great to make if you don’t have a lot of time in the morning.  If you love oatmeal for breakfast in the winter, but hate the thought of something hot for breakfast in the hot summer months, then overnight oats is a great thing to have in place of your regular hot oats.  This breakfast is a thick, creamy, delicious way to enjoy your morning bowl of oatmeal.

Other Overnight Oats Ideas:

Breakfast

Oddly enough, I did NOT have my overnight oats for breakfast this morning, I had a smoothie bowl 🙂

Strawberry Almond Smoothie Bowl:

  • 1/4 cup Vanilla Almond Breeze
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 frozen banana
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 scoop pea protein powder
  • splash of water
  • 3 ice cubes

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend away! Once my mixture was thick and creamy I added 2 tsp of crunchy Maranantha Almond Butter on top.  Delish!

 

 

Hump Day Hummus

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Good Hump Day Morning!

This morning, I woke up bright and early to another bowl of…overnight oats (tutorial coming soon!)

Smooth and creamy, just the way I like it.  This morning, I opted for no fruit, not for any specific reason…I just opted out.  And on the workout front, I will be completing today’s routine this evening.  I am teaching a class for the first time at a new-to-me gym, so I’ll take advantage of the timing and squeeze my workout in beforehand.

And on to other news…here it is, the recipe for Cauliflower Hummus!

This past weekend, I attended my first wedding shower EVER!  It was such a fun way to celebrate the upcoming wedding.  When I heard there was going to be a shower, me being me, I automatically started to brainstorm a snack that I could bring along to share.  Not only do I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, but I love cooking for other people.  I figured there would probably be plenty of dessert, so I would make something more savory….then I stumbled upon an idea on the internet…Cauliflower Hummus.  What a unique idea!  But I had to give it a try, I thought it tasted delicious, Brian thought it could use a little less garlic.  Make it to your own tastes and enjoy the creaminess of this delicious vegetable dip.

Cauliflower Hummus (Original recipe from The Cavewoman Cafe)

Ingredients:

  • One head of steamed cauliflower
  • 4 large cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped (this is where  you might want to adjust the flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Make sure the steamed cauliflower is tender and almost falling apart.  While the cauliflower is steaming and cooling, in a blender or food processor combine the garlic, almond butter, lemon, olive oil, and spices.  After the cauliflower has cooled, gradually add it to the mixture in the processor or blender until it becomes the consistency that you prefer.  Store in the refrigerator and serve chilled with veggies, or dippers of your choice!

Enjoy your day and do something active 😉

Calling All Easter Recipes!

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I need some Easter inspiration…but first we will talk about Breakfast.

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of overnight oats:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup Chobani 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a dash of cinnamon and about 3/4 cup water

This morning I then added, chopped pear, and 2 tsp of peanut butter.  The cinnamon and chocolate really complimented each other well making for a delicious breakfast 🙂

Easter Recipes

For Easter, most years, I make some sort of fancy dessert.  I really enjoy the creative process of picking out the perfect recipe and design, getting all the ingredients, making a tasty baked good, and then decorating it like a work of art (at least it’s art to me!).

 

In the past I have made chick cupcakes:

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I have made the classic bunny cake:

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And I have made the traditional carrot cake:

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All three were delicious, but this year, I am fresh out of ideas!  My mom and I are planning on preparing a brunch for everyone at my apartment, but I don’t know what I want to make.

I know that I want to make another special baked good this year, something that takes a little bit of skill, and uses some of my creative juice that I have flowing.   Also, my mom and I are looking for menu ideas.  I would have to say though, that my tastes differ a bit from the rest of my family’s when it comes to “healthifying” certain recipes.  They tend to enjoy things a bit more decadent than I do, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle.  I want to have a brunch menu to impress, but I don’t want it to make everyone feel completely weighed down afterward.

 

So here is the part where I ask for some help!

 

Does anyone have any delicious, secretly healthy, or beautiful and impressive baked goodies that I could make for my family on Easter??

 

I love getting creative in the kitchen, healthifying my own recipes, and seeing how they turn out, but I would love to hear what you all have tried 🙂

 

 

Easy as…Quinoa

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After my afternoon run and smoothie, I headed out to turn in some resumes and job applications.  I then made a trip to my alma mater, Butler University, to hit up one of the group fitness classes called Pilates Barre Fusion.  Pilates, I know, but the Barre Fusion was all new to me.

The class was great!  It was a mixture of pilates and dance moves (such as plies and some leg extensions) that really focused on core and total body strength.  We did some exercises with just our body weight and some with light hand weights.  At one point, we even got up and used the ballet barre.  It was a fun new way to incorporate strength training into my weekly routine.

After the class and running a couple more errands, it was time to come home for dinner.  Somehow, I didn’t make it home until 8pm!  That is super late for dinner, so I was glad that I prepared it earlier in the day.

It was a simple mixture of quinoa, raw broccoli, raw tomatoes, red onion, left over haddock from last night, all tossed together with salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, and lemon juice.  Very simple, light and flavorful!

How to Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is so simple to prepare, and it is a great source of vegetarian or vegan protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
Directions:

Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 15 minutes (no peaking!).  And that is it!!! Then, your quinoa is done and you can eat it any way you like 🙂

 

Now, I am off to prepare for a group fitness instructor audition that I have tomorrow and read more of the Hunger Games.

 

Have a great evening!