Friday, August 31, 2012

Favorite 4 Light Dessert Ideas!

It's Friday!  I had a pretty good week, and I hope you did as well!  Now we have a nice long 3 day weekend, love those!  Are you doing something fun for the weekend?  Maybe grilling?  Check out a past blog post about fun ideas for grilling here (and also if you missed it, the story of the snake IN MY house!).  We are completely remodeling the house we bought in the spring, and have some fun projects planned for that this weekend.  I tell you, carrying sheet rock, wood, bags of thin set, and all the heavy stuff is quite a workout!  Also, I can move, carry, and help with way heavier things than I previously could thanks to CrossFit.  Definitely helped me get ready for this huge undertaking!

Anyways, today I wanted to give you some ideas for healthy desserts if that is what you are in charge of for your labor day BBQ or picnic, or just having people over.  First, when I think healthy desserts, I think fruit.  Fruit is naturally sweet, and can keep the calories lower while still being delicious.  Especially at this time year!  You can still get great deals and tasty picks.  Here are 4 very different desserts that can all be amazing, and still lower in calories than other desserts (think cheesecake at 350-400 for a small slice!)  

1. Banana Split
Start with a small sized Banana, top with low fat or no sugar added ice cream or frozen yogurt, a little whipped topping (no need to do fat free here, only a 10 calorie difference usually from the highest calorie to the fat free!  But, check saturated fat, and keep that low or none), some chopped almonds, and a small drizzle of chocolate syrup (try Hershey's Syrup Lite, it is 50 calories for 2 Tbsp, compared to 100 calories for 1 tbsp of most hot fudge, even the sugar free varieties).  For total calories, lets say you do a small banana, 1/2 cup of light ice cream, 2 Tbsp of Whipped topping, 2 Tbsp of chocolate, plus 1 tbsp chopped almonds, you are right around 240 calories.  Not bad!  You could make it a monster banana split and still come in less than than the cheesecake!  (I'm picking on cheesecake, but it really is my favorite dessert for a splurge, instead of birthday cake, I have always asked for a cheesecake!  But...not too often!)

2. Angel Food cake with Berries (my favorite option)
Those nice easy little angel food cake cups at the grocery store, are only 100 calories each!  You can also buy the round cake, and for about 1 inch slice, you are looking at about 100 calories.  Not bad at all!  Top with Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or a combo of them.  About 1 cup of berries is 60 calories, and you probably wont fit a whole cup on there!  Top with whipped topping (same advice as above), and you are way under 200 calories for a wonderful dessert!
Picture from health.com

3. FiberOne Brownies topped with Strawberries
Have you tried FiberOne brownies?  They are actually pretty good, and they only have 90 calories, plus 5 grams of fiber!  (They also now have chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chip, both of which would be awesome too!)  For the chocolate brownie, I have found I love it best heated up in the microwave just a little bit.  It has chocolate chips in it that get all melty and yummy!  Top the brownie with sliced strawberries and some whipped topping, and again, amazing dessert!  For this, if you use a brownie, 1 cup of berries, and 2 Tbsp whipped topping, you are only at 160 calories!
4. Peach Crisp
The trick to making Peach Crisp a healthier option is to try a few substitutions to your favorite recipe.  First, watch what sugar you put on the peaches (try to find really ripe ones, and use no sugar!), this time of year, that is so easy!  Next, try a whole wheat pastry flour in place of your white flour, or for a different twist, try All bran or Fiber one Cereal (the 57% DV Fiber option) in the food processor for a few pulses (not too fine), and combine that with your oats and flour.  It will add bulk and fiber, with less calories!  Next, for the butter you put over top, try a lower fat option.  In a recipe like this, it works perfectly to swap out.  I like Brummel and Brown Yogurt Butter (in the blue container), or Blue bonnet makes a light butter in stick form, which is really easy to measure.  A few swaps like this, and your recipe is much lighter!

What is your favorite light recipe for summer?  Share in the comments below!  

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading! If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right. Also, we would love to have you join us! Join this site in the "followers" box to the right. "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and Pinterest using the the boxes on the right. Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Workout Wednesday - Fighting Fitness Myths! (my top 3)

Happy Workout Wednesday!  I recently got new workout shoes (good anniversary present right??  We both got workout shoes, staying in shape together!)  I love them.  They have been awesome and are so comfortable and flexible and they don't even feel like I have shoes on (in a good way).  Here is a quick picture... 



Today I wanted to address a couple of the workout myths that I hear most frequently.  If you have any other questions, please send them to me, or comment below!  

Myth #1 - (Especially from women) Lifting heavy weights will quickly add muscle weight and make you "big".    

This is simply not true.  Most women do not have the the chemical make-up for this to happen.  There is too much estrogen in our systems to become big and bulked up.  

Myth #2 - Squats give you a big behind.

Again, NO!  You know what is going to give you a big behind, and it isn't doing squats.  In fact, squats will help lift, tone, and firm up your behind, as well as your legs.  Always remember when doing squats to not let that knee come over your ankle!  (A post devoted solely to squats coming soon!)

Myth #3 - Crunches will get rid of tummy troubles.

To fight the bulge of the belly, you have to incorporate cardio, reduce simple starch intake (think sugar, white, refined products, and things like potatoes), as well as include a variety of ab exercises.  The best bet is this three pronged approach for a flatter stomach!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading! If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right. Also, we would love to have you join us! Join this site in the "followers" box to the right. "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right. Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Healthy Breakfast on the Run

So your alarm didn't go off.  You hit snooze one too many times.  Or maybe you just didn't want to get up today.  Regardless you are running late, and barely make it out the door dressed.  Does that mean you have to skip breakfast today??  Not at all!  Increasingly, fast food places are offering breakfast, and they are even trying to give you some healthy options.  Below are a couple of my picks for those mornings when you just have to stop...

1. Starbucks
This is such an easy one because there is a Starbucks on every corner!  When stopping here, try the Spinach and Feta Wrap for only 290 calories, an impressive 19 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber to help keep you full.  If you are in the mood for oatmeal, try Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal.  It has 140 calories, 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  Light, filling and easy for on the go!




2. Subway
Subway has a large variety of breakfast options.  One good for you and yummy option is the Sunrise Subway Melt.  Get it on an english muffin with egg whites and you come in at 210 calories, 6 grams of fat (which includes cheese and bacon!), 19 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.  Not bad at all.  How quick and easy.  You can add extra veggies to it to up the nutrients.  Try spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and onions!

3. McDonald's
Careful here!  Most of the breakfast sandwiches are over 500 calories, some topping 1,000 calories, not to mention the amount of saturated fat and sodium.  But, if it is one of your only places to stop, try the fruit and maple oatmeal, without the brown sugar.  It comes in at 260 calories, with 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.  If you need some caffeine, go for the nonfat latte with sugar free vanilla syrup.  A medium (16oz) will only be 90 calories, but gives you 9 grams of protein and a good boost of calcium (35% of your Daily needs).

Do you have a healthy, tasty, go-to choice when you have to grab breakfast on the run?  Share in the comments section!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Monday, August 27, 2012

Greek Style Couscous

Happy Monday!  Can you believe next Monday is Labor Day??  How did that happen?  I'm already mourning the end of summer, but trying to remember all the awesome things about fall!  Apple picking anyone?  Amazing pumpkin recipes?  Can't wait to share those with you.  I'm a big fan of seasonal eating, and I will dive right into what I consider fall recipes in a few weeks.  Today's recipe is the Greek Style Couscous to go with the Lamb from last Monday (find it here).  I had every intention of sharing this last week, but I ended up with no phone or internet service on the Lake!  (I will post some pics later today from the lake trip, it was a blast, and I got to do so many fun things!)  So, I apologize for the delay, here is the perfect side for the lamb recipe!

Greek Style Couscous

Ingredients 
(enough for at least 8 people, or yummy leftovers to top a salad!)
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tsp oregano
2/3 cup diced peppers (about 4 small sweet peppers)
1 cup chopped mushrooms (about 5 button mushrooms
1/2 onion diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
2 small tomatoes or about 1 roma tomato
1/2 cucumber chopped (about 3/4 cup)
Mint (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Start by bringing 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth to a boil
When boiling, add in 1 cup couscous and 1 tsp oregano and remove from heat.  Cover, let sit for 5 minutes.  (watch it because too long sitting and it will become gummy)


If Couscous seems expensive, try buying it out of a bulk bin!  Try looking at the grocery store, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe's, or anywhere around you that sells bulk.  I find it at a fraction of the price!

While your stock is coming to a boil, dice 1/2 an onion, peppers, and mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in fry pan over med high heat.  

Add onions and peppers to pan, with 1 tsp minced Garlic.

If you want to use mint, add 1 Tbsp chopped mint to onions and peppers (I use it and love it, but sometimes it is hard to find!)

Add mushrooms to pan after onions and peppers have cooked for 4-5 min.

 While vegetables cook, chop two small tomatoes or 1 roma tomato, and dice 1/2 a cucumber.

Once vegetables are tender and couscous has sat for 5 min, add couscous to fry pan and stir to combine.  Add lemon zest and lemon juice.  Let cook together for 1-2 min.

 Move couscous and vegetables to large serving bowl, and stir in tomato and cucumber.  

Serve immediately. This is delicious with crumbled feta on top and/or diced olives.  Brings the Greek out even more!  Enjoy!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Don't Eat Out, Stay In - Cedar Plank Salmon

Ready to cook at home instead of going out?  How about Seafood this weekend?  You can make this for a fraction of the price, and it is so simple.  When I ask people what they are eating for dinners, most don't mention fish, which is a shame!  When I ask about fish they more often than not tell me they do not include it because they don't know how to cook it.  This method turns out flaky and tender every time!  Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which most of us don't get enough of from food!  

Have you ever cooked with a Cedar Plank before?  They add an amazing flavor to whatever you are cooking on them!  You can find them at any grocery store, usually by the seafood counter.  I recently purchased some at Costco, they were 6 for $9.95.  (one time use, good to stock up!)  The cedar planks need to be soaked before use, they say 2 hours, but I can't say I have ever gotten it in the water 2 hrs prior to eating.  Usually I soak for about 30 min, and keep an eye out for flare ups.  You can cook anything on the cedar plank!  Any kind of protein or veggies work very well.  If you don't like salmon, give the cedar plank a try for chicken or pork!

For dinner in, try serving this Salmon with Quinoa and grilled Asparagus.  A simple, tasty recipe for quinoa can be found here.  You can do the asparagus on the grill right next to the salmon (or on the rack above).  Simply wash, break off the woody ends, lay on tin foil, lightly drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic.  Wrap up, and grill for 9-10 minutes!  Easy!

Simple Cedar Plank Salmon
Ingredients
1.75-2lb Salmon Fillet
2 tsp Olive Oil
Lemon Pepper
1 Lemon (optional)
1 Tbsp minced Garlic
Season All (McCormick seasoned Salt)
Also - 1 Cedar Plank

Directions
Soak the Cedar plank according to directions (about 1-2 hours)

I usually dress the salmon off to the side and transfer to the Cedar plank right before going to the grill.  Start the grill heating up to high.  You want to grill Salmon on high heat, 450-500 degrees F.


Drizzle with 2 tsp Olive Oil.  Use the back of a spoon or a brush to rub olive oil over the entire fillet.

Sprinkle with Garlic and again, rub over entire fillet.

Cover Fillet well with Lemon Pepper seasoning.  If you want more Lemon Flavor, Zest a lemon over the fillet, then cut a lemon in half and squeeze juice over fillet.  This is optional, depending on if you have a lemon or not.  I highly recommend it though!

Sprinkle Season All over the fillet, covering well.  The Season All has sodium in it, but about 1/2 as plain old salt.  If you are watching sodium, you may want to measure, and limit this one.  Season All also has chili pepper, celery seed, nutmeg, coriander, onion, paprika and a little garlic in it, it is a great combination on proteins!  It also has no MSG.

 Transfer Salmon to soaked Cedar Plank, and place plank directly on grill.  For 1 inch thickness, cook for 10-12 minutes, for 1 1/4 inch thickness cook 12-13 min, and for 1 1/2 inch thickness, cook 14-15 minutes.


Enjoy!

 Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Workout Wednesday - Fitness Gear in Sight!

It's Workout Wednesday! I have a quick fit tip for you today to help get that workout in more often.  Try keeping all your exercise gear out, in plain sight.  Keep your shoes, clothes, and or equipment out,as an easy quick reminder to get it in!  Obviously, I'm not recommending that you have your exercise clothes all around your whole house!  Try picking two easy places to have a visual cue waiting for you.


Image from here

For me, having my workout shoes and clothes next to my bed so they are one of the first things I see in the morning helps me get an early workout in.  I also have a jump rope and stability ball next to the tv in my family room.  They remind me to do something while I watch tv, or better yet to just do the workout instead :)  With so many things competing for your attention, sometimes having the visual reminder really helps get it in, even though it seems so simple!

Where can you keep something to remind you?  Maybe even in your car?  What can you try to help get that workout in more often?  Share below!


Don't let this happen to your yoga pants! :)

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

10 Easy Cooking Swaps

Ever look at a recipe, really want to make it, but can't get past the amount of fat (saturated fat especially), sugar, or whatever else is in it?  I do this all the time.  Especially with family favorites that are passed down (sorry grandma!).  There are some ways to lighten up your dishes while keeping flavor/texture/look intact.  Here are some of my favorites that I use often, and how much they will save you in calories and fat.  Some make a HUGE difference in calories for your recipe.  Worth giving it a try, right?


What substitutions do you make that turn out well in recipes?  Share in the comments section below!  (Couscous recipe coming later this week!!)

 Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slow Roasted Lamb with Tzatziki Sauce

Happy Monday!  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Do anything fun?  I celebrated 6 years of happily ever after with my sweet heart on Saturday!  I have no idea how it has been 6 years already, time really does fly!  We went out to dinner at an awesome new restaurant.  It is called Wildflower, and they have sort of the new American cuisine.  Very creative.  I had a farmers market salad to start with, and it was amazing.  It had quinoa on it (i'm going to by trying that on my own more often!), goat cheese that was perfectly balanced with the vinaigrette, tons of farm fresh vegetables that are all grown locally.  Amazing.  Can't wait to go back!    Here is a picture of us out celebrating :)


Now, on to food.  I'm super excited to share these recipes with you today (That's right, TWO!)  Slow roasted Lamb, and Tzatziki Sauce.  Now, for those of you that are more on the beginner side of cooking, this is super easy, I promise you can do it!  This is the way to to do cheaper cuts of Lamb too, if you don't want to spend a fortune, which sometimes lamb can be.  Slow roasting it in the crock pot is perfect for the shank, shoulder, or other tougher cuts.  It allows it to break down and become beautifully tender.  The Tzatziki sauce compliments it nicely, and I think I have finally figured the perfect combination.  (after a bit of trial and error)  This recipe goes nicely with mashed potatoes, or a Greek couscous, which is a recipe I will be sharing probably tomorrow.  This is a recipe packed week, so check back frequently!  

Tzatziki Sauce
You are able to make this ahead and chill for up to 3 days.  At the very least, let it firm up a little before serving.
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 tsp lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh Dill
2 tsp salt (for the cucumbers)

Directions
Peel and dice either 1/2 a long english cucumber or 1 smaller regular cucumber.  

Place 1 cup diced cucumber in a strainer and cover with 2 tsp salt.  Toss gently so all is coated.  We are trying to get some of the water out of the cucumber so it doesn't make the sauce runny.  Cover strainer with a paper towel, plate, and something heavy, and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.


Once cucumber is drained, combine the following in a blender or food processor.  I have this handy little ninja that is the perfect size.  Add 1 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

Add 1/2 tsp lemon zest.  To zest a lemon, you can either use a microplane, a zester, or the really small side of a cheese grater.  You want to move quickly around the lemon, and only get the top yellow part.  Under the yellow is the pithy white stuff, which is bitter and not the flavor we are looking for!  After zesting, cut the lemon in half and add the juice from one half. Careful not to get the seeds!




Add 1 tsp minced garlic.

Add 1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (Love that smell!), and 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh Dill.  You can also add about 1/2 tsp dried dill if you already have that on hand.


 Pulse that a few times to start having it combine.  Now take your cucumber and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Add the cucumber to the yogurt mixture and blend till smooth. 


Served chilled, and like I mentioned above, it can stay in the fridge for about 3 days.  It is yummy with the lamb, but also on vegetables, wraps, as a dip, and any other way you can think of!  

Slow Roasted Lamb
Ingredients
1.5-2 lbs lamb shoulder or shank (boneless, if there is a bone in there, go for a little heavier)
1 onion
5-6 Stalks Celery
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white wine or Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Garlic
Rosemary

Directions
Turn the crock pot on, either 4-5 hours at a high heat, or 6-7 hours on low.  Lamb is rare if the temp is 145 F, well done at 165 F, so keep an eye on the temperatures with a meat thermometer if you want a specific done-ness.  For this method, it is more on the well done side, but you can pull it out earlier if you wish.

In a fry pan, start 1 Tbsp of olive oil, over medium high heat.  

Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

When oil is heated, add lamb to fry pan and cook 1-2 minutes on each side to get a nice brown.


Pull lamb out, but don't add to crock pot yet.  

Slice one onion, it doesn't have to be thin, just big pieces to go under the lamb.  Add 1 Tbsp of Olive to same fry pan as the lamb, when heated, add onions and allow to cook 5-6 minutes or until caramelized, but not clear yet.  Remove from fry pan and add to crock pot.

Coarsely chop 5-6 celery stalks, and add to fry pan after the onions.  Let cook about 5 min, until slightly caramelized  and add to crock pot.


While veggies are cooking in the fry pan, cover lamb with minced garlic (at least 1 tbsp, more if you love garlic like I do), and sprinkle with Rosemary.  Again, about 1 Tbsp, more to taste.  You can do this step before putting it in the fry pan, but I have done it both ways, and I like adding it after.  Sometimes the garlic gets burned in the fry pan, and that makes it pretty bitter tasting.

I didn't get a picture of the crock pot, I can't believe I forgot.  Sorry!  Add the lamb to the crock pot on top of the veggies, and add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine or vegetable stock.  Cover, and leave it alone!  Cook according to above.  When it is done cooking, remove from pan, and let rest for about 15 min before slicing.  Enjoy with the Tzatziki sauce!

Hope you got your daily dose of nutrition today, and thanks for reading!  If you enjoy the blog, please share using the buttons below, or in the box to the right.  Also, we would love to have you join us!  Join this site in the "followers" box to the right.  "Like" the blog on facebook, and follow me on twitter (@jennasteprd), tumblr, and pinterest using the the boxes on the right.  Thanks, and have a great day! ~jenna