Hummus & Gym Membership

For some reason, I was craving hummus a few days ago. I’m not a fan of store bought hummus so I decided to make my own for the first time. I used this recipe from Inspired Taste, went off to the store and gathered the ingredients but discovered that a 16 ounce jar of Tahini was 9-effing-dollars at Hannaford. No thank you. I googled a substitute and found that peanut butter would work, which was perfect because I always have a jar of natural no sugar added peanut butter on hand. I followed their recipe to a T, except I replaced the 1/4 cup of Tahini for 2-3 tablespoons of that wonderful natural no sugar added peanut butter, and I didn’t add more olive oil for serving. Ugh, the hummus was so good and so easy. Better than any store bought hummus. TRY IT. I also made Quinoa Stuffed Peppers the same day, but I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

hummus

Now for random thoughts: I’m debating on a gym membership. I’ve never wanted a gym membership because they’re costly and I’ve never had the extra money for one, and I’ve always preferred exercising at home. I’m three weeks into my new full-time job, and I’m struggling to keep up with my exercise regimen. I tried getting up earlier to exercise but I hated it, and I wasn’t giving it 100% because I was so sluggish. I’m doing my best to exercise a lot on my days off and do less on my work days, but all I’ve been doing on my work days is 15-20 minutes of Yoga or Pilates. Yes, it’s at least something, but to me it is definitely not enough. My plan is to get a membership at HealthLinks, and while it’s expensive, I think it would be worth the money. I would go after work on my way home. I need to do more strength training, and the 10-pound dumbbells aren’t cutting it anymore. I don’t want to keep buying a new, heavier set every month. So, I think a gym membership will be worth it. Also, I heard great things about The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I bought the book the other day on amazon.com, and I’ll follow that program.

nrolfw

 

And now, since it’s my day off, I better get my ass moving. Today’s workout: Jillian Michaels’ “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism” followed by strength training and body weight exercises. Maybe Pilates a little later if I’m feeling up to it.

Crustless Quiche Cups

Today was my day off, yay! I started my morning off by relaxing on the couch watching this week’s episode of “The Following” with my big cup of coffee. And then I made some Crustless Quiche Cups for breakfast! Perfectly pre-portioned, low carb and high protein. I made mine in a 6-cup jumbo muffin pan, so if you use a 12-cup muffin pan, be sure to adjust the cooking time.

securedownload (9)

What you need:
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
6 eggs
1.5 cups liquid egg whites (~8 egg whites)
1/4 cup milk
Thin slices of cheddar cheese (~2 ounces total)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin pan using cooking spray and set aside. Heat oil in a medium sized frying pan on low.
Add garlic, veggies, salt and pepper and saute for 8-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

securedownload (15)

 

While veggies are cooking, whisk together eggs, egg whites and milk.

securedownload (14)

 

Divide egg mixture evenly between your muffin cups, and spoon veggies into each cup.

securedownload (12)

 

securedownload (11)

Top with thin slices of cheese

securedownload (10)

 

Pop them in the oven for 25 minutes or until the centers are set!

securedownload (8)

securedownload (16)

 

YUMMY!

Calories: 153
Fat: 9 grams
Carbs: 3 grams
Protein: 16 grams

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

For years, I ate Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers almost every day. And then I discovered a recipe for Black Bean Veggie Burgers, and I haven’t looked back. Frozen veggie burgers are ridiculously expensive ($5 for 4 burgers? No thanks.) Plus, I’m making a conscious effort to not eat any convenience food. I’m not sure where I found the original recipe, but I’ve tweaked it to my own taste, and I love it.

What you need:
1/2 medium sized onion, cut into wedges
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into wedges
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
Salt and pepper to taste

Pulse onion, pepper and garlic in a food processor a few times. Add oats and set aside. (Don’t pulse – let the oats soak up the juices from the vegetables. You could transfer the veggies into another bowl and add the oats, but I don’t like doing extra dishes.) Place beans in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher until it’s somewhat pasty. Add veggie/oat mix, egg, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to beans. Stir well to combine. Shape into 6 patties. Either wrap each individual patty in plastic wrap and freeze or to cook, heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a frying pan on low. Cook burger on each side for 5-7 minutes. Avoid flipping more than once – burgers can fall apart pretty easily. Check to make sure the edges are brown before flipping!

securedownload (7)

Perfect consistency of the mashed beans

securedownload (5)

Big, goopy mess before it turns into beautiful burgers.

securedownload (6)

This is how I freeze them – they don’t get stuck together, and they don’t take up a lot of room.

Oneonta-20121105-01978

Even Baby wants my veggie burger.

Oatmeal Blueberry Banana Bread

I was in the baking mood yesterday, which can be dangerous. I looked through my Healthy Food board on Pinterest and picked out an Oatmeal Blueberry Banana Bread to try out. So delicious. I made it yesterday afternoon, and there’s only one slice left. My mom and I pretty much devoured it. Oh well.

Image

Head on over to Ambitious Kitchen for the recipe. I highly recommend it! The only slight change I made was that I used half whole wheat flour, half all-purpose flour and a cup of frozen berries instead of 3/4 cup. Next time, I want to use all whole wheat flour, and I also want to bake them as muffins, which are more portion controlled than a loaf of bread. (I kept taking a huge slice and thinking “hmm, close enough to on serving.” See? Baked goods don’t stand a chance around this girl.)

Vegan Chili

I started making vegan chili a few years ago. I had never had chili before, never had black beans, so I didn’t know what to expect but I tried it out and loved it. I’ve tweaked the recipe a little since the first time making it, and I change it up every now and then by adding tempeh or other beans or veggies, but generally this is how I make it. This can make two big portions or three decent sized portions.

20130207-204311.jpg

What you need:

2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
Cumin
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes

(I don’t really measure the spices. I add some then add more as it cooks to my personal taste.)

Saute the garlic, peppers, carrots and onions in olive oil for 7-10 minutes on medium-low heat until the onions become slightly translucent. Add beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth and spices. Stir and cover, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for an hour or so. Check on it frequently to stir and add more spices if necessary. When the carrots aren’t crunchy anymore, it’s done! Serve by itself or over brown rice. You could also make this in a slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours, but saute the veggies first before throwing everything in.

20130207-204240.jpg

20130207-204249.jpg

20130207-204257.jpg

20130207-204303.jpg

20130207-204324.jpg

One of my favorite meals to have in the wintertime!

Perfect smoothies

Smoothies are wonderful. The options are endless. Almost any fruit combination works, and you can add anything from spinach or kale to flax seed. I make mine with greek yogurt (protein, yay!) and a combination of fresh/frozen fruit. Never ice or milk. Ice never crushes that well in my blender, plus it gets watered down. Milk always got too frothy. Yesterday I made a yummy smoothie, and I thought I’d share. What I used:

One cup of frozen blueberries

20130205-140803.jpg

One medium banana, sliced (my slices were slightly frozen)
20130205-140810.jpg

One cup fresh strawberries
20130205-140823.jpg

One cup plain greek yogurt and a splash (~1/4 cup) of juice to get things moving a little easier.

20130205-140831.jpg

Yum. Blend away!
20130205-140837.jpg

Perfect consistency, thickness, and it tasted damn good. 
20130205-140844.jpg

No added sugar (unless you count the splash of juice, which contained probably 2 grams of sugar) and full of protein, vitamins and minerals. Perfect snack!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Ice Cream”

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana “Ice Cream” – another one of my favorite healthy alternatives! This stuff may or may not be one of my favorite things ever. I love ice cream. Way too much. Unfortunately, there’s REALLY nothing about it that makes it remotely healthy. I could practice portion control and moderation, but just like any other decadent sweet treat, once I start, I can’t stop.

I discovered this pseudo-ice cream recipe on Pinterest, tried it out, and fell in love. Chocolate, peanut butter and bananas are one of my favorite combinations.

20130204-213425.jpg

All you need for one serving:
1 cup frozen banana slices (approximately 1 large banana)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

(You might want to let your bananas thaw slightly for 20-30 minutes prior to making.) Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Either serve right away for soft-serve consistency or freeze. You can make multiple servings ahead of time and keep in the freezer to enjoy at a later date. (My bananas weren’t frozen enough, so it wasn’t as thick, but it still tastes amazing.)

20130204-213433.jpg

So good! And it has healthy fats, protein and carbs. It’s a well balanced dessert. Win-win!

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

A few months ago, I found a recipe that would be the perfect alternative to traditional homemade mac and cheese, which is one of my all-time favorite meals. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! I found the recipe on SparkRecipes.com and fell in love. I love butternut squash, so if you don’t, you may not like this recipe, but it’s worth a try. This is the original recipe, but I made a few changes here and there. Mmm, doesn’t it look good?

20130128-224947.jpg

_______________________________
What  you’ll need:

3 cups cubed butternut squash (about a pound or so)
1 cup vegetable broth
1.5 cups milk (I use 2%)
1 12-ounce box whole wheat pasta
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add pasta and cook when the water is ready.* Meanwhile, combine squash, milk, broth, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil and let it simmer until squash is tender and turn off heat. Mash contents of saucepan, and add the cheddar, Parmesan and ricotta cheeses. Drain pasta and transfer to 9×9 casserole or baking dish. Stir in squash/cheese mixture and mix around so it’s evenly distributed. Top with mozzarella cheese. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serves 8.

*I under-cook my pasta by a minute or two. It will continue cooking once it’s in the oven. If you don’t want mushy pasta, under-cook it a little!

Calories: 378
Fat: 17 grams
Carbs: 40 grams
Protein: 20 grams

Traditional Mac and Cheese can have upwards of 600 calories and 30 grams of fat for one serving. I love my healthier alternative!

Plyometrics, barbells and groceries

This won’t be a very informative post; my energy and excitement is minimal today. A few months ago, we found out that my 14-year-old kitty has oral cancer, and he was doing okay for awhile but it seems like he’s starting to go downhill more and more each day. Just looking at him makes me want to cry because I know what we’ll have to do eventually.

I distracted/tortured myself with a 20-minute Plyometric (jump training) workout. I love (and hate) Plyometrics. I compiled a list of 20 Plyo moves, and I did each one for 20 seconds and rested for 10, and did that sequence twice (after a brief 3 minute break between sets). I felt like my legs were going to fall off…but in a good way. I might post the workout tomorrow, so stay tuned. AND THEN, after that torturous 20-ish minutes, I ventured down to the basement to dust off and use the old bench down there. But first I had to move all of the booze and soda. How ridiculous is this? It didn’t go as well as I had hoped; there’s simply too much junk down there so I have to relocate it or relocate the junk.

20130124-193032.jpg

And what makes me happier than Plyometrics? Grocery shopping for good food. (Chocolate is a vegetable, okay?)

20130124-193744.jpg

I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies from How Crazy Cooks, which is what the chocolate was for. And I loved them! I had to pop them in the freezer or else the entire batch would’ve been gone by tonight. Sigh, hopefully tomorrow I’ll have a better blog post.

Vegetarian Meatballs & Creamy Avocado Sauce

I used to LOVE a good, creamy Alfredo sauce from my favorite Italian restaurants. I miss it sometimes, and then I remember that almost any Alfredo dish from a restaurant is upwards of 1,000 calories and 60 grams of fat. I found a good alternative that is plentiful in flavor and heart-healthy fats (unlike traditional Alfredo sauce that is full of heavy cream and butter – saturated fat). Main ingredient? Avocados! Avocados ARE high in fat, but they contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as well as potassium, fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and folate. My dearest friend, Emily, and I made this sauce last week and I loved it. So I made it again today and paired it with my Vegetarian Meatballs! Florida Avocados were used both times for the sauce, but you could definitely use a California Avocado.

20130123-134326.jpg

What you need for the Avocado sauce:

1 Avocado
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 garlic clove
Juice from half a lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Dash of salt and pepper

Throw everything in a food processor and blend until everything is smooth and combined. Cut up and/or mash the avocado first, which makes blending it a little easier. This makes 2 servings, so you might want to share this with someone, eat the entire batch yourself or wrap it snugly with plastic wrap touching the sauce so that it doesn’t brown. Since there’s lemon juice in the sauce, it will also help it from browning. Mix with hot whole wheat pasta (the sauce can’t really be heated up – avocados don’t do well with heat.)

(Sauce only, nutrition info for pasta not factored in)
Calories: 314
Fat: 27 grams (like I said, heart-healthy fats!)
Carbs: 14 grams
Protein: 9 grams

Now for the Vegetarian Meatballs. It’s weird that I made these because I’ve never had real meatballs, not even when I ate meat. But the idea came to me and I just went with it. They turned out yummy!

1 15.5 ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 of a medium sized onion, cut into wedges
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3 handfuls of fresh Kale
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for blending
Salt and pepper to taste
One egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or old-fashioned oats

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil and saute kale in frying pan. Cover with a lid to allow it to wilt slightly. You might need to add a little water in the pan to keep it from getting too crunchy. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mash the beans with a fork or potato masher. Add the beans, onion, garlic, Parmesan cheese, wilted kale, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and a little sprinkle of olive oil in a food processor; blend until smooth. Put this mixture in the bowl you used to mash the beans. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg then add to bean mixture. Finally, add the breadcrumbs or oats and stir well to combine. Form into 8 balls. You can either make them right away or freeze them. I made these yesterday afternoon and froze them, then popped them in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350 degrees, flipping halfway through. This afternoon, I fried them in some olive oil (not calculated in nutrition information), which makes them taste even more awesome, but it increases the calories and grams of fat. Keep that in mind!

(One meatball)
Calories: 135
Fat: 3 grams
Carbs: 19 grams
Protein: 8 grams

  20130123-134318.jpg

20130123-134332.jpg

YUM.