Wednesday, February 27, 2013

20 Questions (Healthy Living Survey)

I thought I'd jump on the "survey bandwagon" and complete the Healthy Living Survey I've seen passed around.

***Random Fun Fact of the Day***
Origin of the "Bandwagon Effect
 Literally, a bandwagon is a wagon which carries the band in a parade, circus or other entertainment.[6] The phrase "jump on the bandwagon" first appeared in American politics in 1848 when Dan Rice, a famous and popular circus clown of the time, used his bandwagon and its music to gain attention for his political campaign appearances.

Yeah, okay, the survey:


1) What did you eat for Breakfast today? 
Today, I wanted a lighter breakfast - it was a Meal Bar, a Banana, and, of course, lot o' coffee. 
2) How much water do you drink a day?
Oh, gosh. Just call me "camel." I carry my Camelbak water bottle with me everywhere. Even if I just go to walmart, to church, everywhere. My motto is, "I'm just a naturally thirsty person." I haven't ever measured precisely, but a good estimate is at leat 16 glasses. Seriously. The poor waiters at restaurants....

3) What is your current favorite workout? Tina Reale's Best Body Bootcamp! Love that she efficiently "kicks my butt" and the workouts are already planned for me. 

4) How many calories do you eat a day? Um, more since BBB. I range from about 1700-1900 calories, maybe. I usually keep a "rough estimate" but don't keep up with it precisely. I used to be a calorie micro-manager but now focus more on being strong and eating whole foods. 

5) What are your favorite healthy snacks? Apples are one of my snacks almost daily - Crunchy and sweet. I also like carrots, grapes, peanut butter crackers, greek yogurt, and snack bars with protein. What can I say...I'm a snacker.

6) What do you usually eat for lunch? Varies. It can be soup, freezer meal, or whatever - it just needs to be relatively healthy and have a decent amount of protein. Today was leftover cheese ravioli w/ garlic bread (last night's dinner). 

7) What is your favorite body part to strength train? Oooh....the WHOLE lower body! Fine, I shall be more specific - I'd say my butt and quads. and legs. Okay, lower body except the calves. (ha!)

8) What is your least favorite body part to strength train? Um...upper body in general, but not a lover of training the Deltoids. (Ouch!)

9) What are your "bad" food cravings? CHOCOLATE! Pretty much sweets in general. I have a bad habit of wanting a bite of something sweet after dinner. *sigh* I am one of those people who needs a tiny bit of sweet every day. I should probably get a "handle" on that. Eh. 

10) Do you take vitamins or supplements? 
Yeppers (well, when I remember). B Complex, Multivitamin with Iron, Chronium Picolinate, and sometimes Glutamine. 

11) How often do you eat out? 
About once or twice a week on average (I have a restaurant-lovin' hubby.)

12) Do you eat fast food? Not really. Unless we're traveling or "out and about" and the Hungry Monster hits. 

13) Who is you biggest supporter? 
Hubby as far as education, sound judgments, and other life moments. As far as fitness? Probably my friend Camee. 

14) Do you have a gym membership? 
No, currently where we rent our apartment has a free gym. I miss my gym membership and the environment, but currently...Free is winning. I like free, don't you?

15) How many hours do you sleep a night? About 7 hours during the weekdays and 8-9 hours on the weekend. Zzzzz. (Yeah, I have 0 kids, obviously.)

16) Do you have a "cheat" day? I allow "cheats" everyday. I try to make more balanced decisions and listen to my body when it's hungry. No, I don't eat cake every single day, but I try to eat healthy most of the time...the 80/20 rule. 

17) Do you drink alcohol? 
Not often at all. On a few occasions, but very uncommon. 

18) Do you have a workout buddy?
Use to, but I moved to a new state (miss you, Camee!!!)

19) What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a Healthy Lifestyle? I am more aware of the nutritional content of food and what is "healthy" and was is not. Because growing up, I honestly wasn't raised to be aware of calories, nutrition, or fitness. It's like "a whole new world" (Aladdin, anyone?)

20) What is the last healthy thing you did? 
Worked out yesterday (today was a rest day).

What about you? What is the last healthy thing you did?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rich Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

First off, let me apologize for the picture...
I really should have taken the time to give you a better glimpse of this deliciously rich and moist Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake. 
Because it really is truly delicious.

This cake is not one of those deceptive chocolate cakes.
Oh, you know the kind. 
The ones that look amazing, chocolate-y, sweet, moist and fudgy, saying to you, "Oh, come hither and have a bite (or slice, or two)." 
But, down deep they are just flavorless and disappointing. 
Let's call them "Shallow Cakes."
I know I am not alone in my disdain for the not-so-chocolate shallow cake. 

This cake is everything those cakes are not. 
This Rich Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake is...
Amazing

Chocolate-y
Sweet

Moist
and 
Fudgy

Are you drooling, yet?
Good. 
Now, go make this cake!


P.S. This cake is super moist. I made the cake on Wednesday evening and it was still delicious and not dry on Monday. Yeah. Seriously. 
P.S.S. The Peanut Butter frosting recipe makes a stiff frosting (too stiff for frosting properly, in my opinion). I recommend adding more milk/cream to loosen up the frosting for easier spreading. 
Moist Cake + Stiff frosting = no bueno. (Hence my not so beauti-mous picture.)
Loosen up that frosting, baby! *wink*

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili


I know what you're thinking....Another Sweet Potato recipe?
What can I say, I'm on a kick and I looove sweet potatoes.
I think the Hubby is catching on to and getting a bit underwhelmed by all the Sweet Potato Recipes.
He's says things like, "Didn't we just have something like this?" and "I'm just in the mood for something else..."
Yeah, yeah. I hear ya!
So, I think I will give us a break from sweet potatoes (just for a bit, though). 

Nonetheless, this recipe, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili from Taste of Home, is stellar!

I followed the recipe (SHOCKER!) - except made half of the recipe and made this in my crockpot (4 hours on low).
I usually follow Taste of Home recipes quite closely because I know they are always spot-on with their seasonings and recipes.  
This recipe was no exception - I didn't need any additional spice; perfecto!


Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili is SUPER healthy, low cost, and easy!

But, you know what I really like about this recipe?
It's got this balance of spicy-sweet to it. 
And, I'm a HUGE fan of spicy-sweet.
It has honey, chili seasonings, & coffee. 
Don't freak out. I promise it "works" and you don't taste the coffee. 

Say, "Hello" to chunky, tasty, balanced and healthy chili. 
YUM!!!


1) Chopped up my (unpeeled) sweet potatoes.

2) Added my diced onion. 

3) Added the rest: Seasonings, canned black beans, canned tomatoes, coffee, and honey (plus a *touch* of beef broth).

4) After 4 hours on low in the crockpot...YUMMY!
I enjoyed mine sans cheese. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paleo Mexican Hash Egg Bake/Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash

Man, have I been on a Sweet Potato kick lately!
They are sooooo good!

The original name for this recipe per PaleOMG is 
"Mexican Hash Egg Bake." 
However, I seem to like the name 
"Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash" better. 
I think it sounds more appetizing in my opinion. 
Agree or Disagree? 
I need to know what I should call this spicy yummy. 

I originally planned to make a Sweet Potato and Chorizo soup, but nixed the idea. 
The more I looked at that recipe, the more I didn't want it. 
Time to "change gears."
I searched the internet with the combination "Sweet Potato Chorizo Recipe." 
After looking at several recipes, I decided on this recipe at PaleOMG
(Click the link for the original recipe and a MUCH better picture.)


Here's my version - less Chorizo and more spices!

Serves: 4-5
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz pork chorizo (I found it at Walmart for, like, a dollar. Seriously.)
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fat of choice (I used olive oil)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (Lovin' this stuff!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat up a large skillet or cast iron skillet under medium heat.
  3. Add your fat, toss in your onions, sweet potatoes and chorizo to begin to cook down.
  4. Use a wooden spoon or whatever you have on hand to break up the chorizo and mix around to incorporate everything. Cover to help steam the sweet potatoes.
  5. Let cook for about 6-8 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. Add your tomatoes and spices and mix together.
  7. If you are not using a cast iron skillet, pour your hash into a baking dish.
  8. Use a spoon to press into the hash where you want your eggs to go.
  9. Crack your eggs directly on top of hash.
  10. Bake for 5-8 minutes depending how runny you want your eggs. Just press on the egg yolk with your finger to see how done it is!


Okay, if you are like me a sometimes lack some finesse, your eggs may not come out whole/unbroken as the recipe implies. 
Honestly, 3 out of my 6 eggs were whole - half broken and half not! 
No need to fear, it still tasted yummy!

I also cooked my eggs too long...on purpose. 
The Hubby is not a huge fan of eggs (unless they are deviled....Don't ask me why he only prefers them that way and not any other way). 
So, I intentionally overcooked the eggs so they wouldn't be at all runny (i.e. rubbery). 
*Sigh* 
The things we do for our spouses. 

Next time, I think I'll make about half of the dish with my runny eggs and the other half sans eggs (for the hubby, of course). :) 

Oh, yeah, I served with a loaf of Cheddar Cheese Bread (courtesy of Walmart Bakery)

***
So, what's the recipe verdict?
Yummy!!!
Yep, I would make this again. 
This recipe reminded Aaron and me a lot of the Turkey Chili and Sweet Potato Pie I made a few weeks ago. 
The difference between them is... 
1) the Chorizo Hash is a tad bit spicier , but not too much, just a hint of spicy (Me like-y mucho.)
2) the Chorizo Hash is easier, cheaper, and quicker to make
But...
I think I prefer the taste of the Shepherd's Pie slightly more. 

That being said, the Sweet Potato & Chorizo Hash may make an appearance more often for it's
1) simplicity 2) cost savings and 3) short prep & cook time

P.S. I had a friend "pop over" for dinner and she thought it was tasty, too. 
P.S.S. Sorry, for the not-so-great picture...like I said, friend. at dinner. didn't want to look "weird" snappin' pics of our meal...
I was too busy yappin' instead of snappin', yo. (ha!)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

White Chocolate, Cherry, & Almond Cookies


White Chocolate & Almond Cookies are one of my "regular rotation" cookies. 
I have made them a few times, that's for sure!
But this time, it was for Valentine's Day. So, I added a new twist...Dried Cherries 
Thus, they became.... 
White Chocolate, Cherry, & Almond Cookies
YUM!

The "secret" or "star" ingredient in the cookies is defintiely the Almond Extract. 
Let me just say...I. Love. Almond. Extract.
Like, a lot. 
Probably more than vanilla extract (But Vanilla is more versatile by far). 
Try added some almond extract in your oatmeal, smoothies, or cake next time...Aaaamazing!
*Note: Please, do NOT buy imitation almond (or imitation vanilla, for that fact). Just. don't. do it. Don't. 

These cookies are love
The cookies remind me of a perfect "tea party" cookie - perfectly round and proper, neat and pretty, and have a "shortbread" type of texture. 
They're not your standard or usual cookie such as chocolate chip, oatmeal, etc.
They're a tasty combination that makes people stop and say, "Oh. Oooohhh.


The colors of these White Chocolate, Cherry, & Almond Cookies correspond perfectly with Christmas and Valentine's Day (or any other time you get a "hankerin'.")

Delicious!
Here's the link for the recipe (just add about 1 cup of dried cherries, if desired): Click Here!



P.S. Like I mentioned earlier, I usually make them without cherries, so either way works great. I promise, they are delicious both ways...make however you prefer!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

BBQ and Rosemary Chicken Pizza on a Sweet Potato Crust


Lots O' Chicken and Bacon

Chewy, Thick Crust

*Singing* Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got pizza in my tummy...Ooooh! 
(....And, stop.)

Looking for a tasty,different, and non-traditional recipe?
I've got one for you!

 BBQ and Rosemary Chicken Pizza on a Sweet Potato Crust

In the past week or two, I've felt a little bit "uninspired" regarding cooking savory food. 
I had a "great new recipe week" a couple of weeks ago and, lately, just kind of felt "okay" about the recent ones. 
Nothing grabbed my eye that I just "had to make." 
Until now...

I was at work discussing dinner (naturally), and mentioned to a co-worker, "I guess we're having chicken and bacon of some sort tonight..." (b/c it was literally the last meat to cook in the house). 
Then, I said I really wanted pizza and a friend had given me a recipe for a Sweet Potato Crust
The co-worker suggested combing the two and making a BBQ Chicken Bacon Pizza on the Sweet Potato Crust.

Sccccrreeeeeeetch!
Come again?
What a fantastic idea, I say!

So, I came home and whipped this baby up.
But let's be honest, I hadn't prepped for this recipe, so, it did take me a while to cook  
How long? Oh, about 1 1/2 from start to finish-easy peasy, right? (I hope you detect my sarcasm). However, a little prepping the night before and this can be done in less than 45 minutes*. Just saying. 

Although a bit more time consuming than I expected due to my lack of planning, the end result was very yummy.

Check Out Those Toppings!

Step 1:
Make the Sweet Potato Crust <---- Click for recipe 
Ingredients:
  • 1.5 cups mashed sweet potatoes (~2 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 1.5 cups almond flour (I used sprouted spelt flour which is suppose to be about same as measuring for AP flour)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used 5 Cheese Italian blend, but any kind would work)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Your choice of toppings
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well.
  3. Cover a pizza pan/baking sheet with tinfoil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. (I used tinfoil because my pan had holes in it, and I didn’t want the dough to fall through, but you could probably nix the tinfoil if you’re using a regular baking sheet.)
  4. Using a spatula, spread the dough evenly into a large circle about 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until center is firm and edges are lightly browned.
  6. While the Crust is baking, cook your chicken and bacon in the oven, as well. (MOVE TO STEP 2)

Step 2:
Cook the Chicken and Bacon
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 lb of chicken breast/tenderloins
  • 4-6 slices of bacon (I used center-cut)
  • Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Rosemary, and Olive oil (to taste)

  1. Place chicken and bacon on a cookie sheet.
  2. Coat Chicken with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil.
  3. Bake until bacon is crispy and chicken is cooked (No Pink!)
  4. Remove from oven, let cool, and dice into chunks. (MOVE TO STEP 3)

Step 3:
Assemble and Bake the Pizza
  • About 1/2 cup of BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (any kind, but I used yellow)
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (Again, I used 5 Cheese Italian blend)
  • Cooked Chicken and Cooked Bacon (from above)
  • Pepperocini Peppers, as many as preferred
  1. Remove crust from oven, add toppings, and bake for another 5-7 minutes until cheese is completely melted.
  2. Remove pizza from oven, slice and enjoy!

Um....YUM!

*To save time I suggest:
-Cooking and mashing the sweet potatoes the night before or utulizing the ol' crockpot
-Cooking the chicken and bacon the night before (or using pre-cooked chicken and pre-cooked bacon, although not my first choice).




***
We started the 3rd Phase of the 4 Phase Bootcamp at the beginning of this week. I LOVED workout B and have been running more this phase (5 miles each on Tuesday and Thursday - whoo hoo!)
Now, if I could a better, more determined approach to my diet....(*ahem* bbq pizza *ahem*).
This program rocks!
And guess what?
Enrollment for Best Body Bootcamp 5 starts on February 25th!
The program begins in Early April and you can do the workouts at home (a bit of equipment is generally required).
Click the link and check out her blog...definitely one of the best $25 I've spent.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Various Kitchen Creations....

Chicken Coconut Curry - from Eating Well
 Spicy Pineapple Pork Chops - by More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow
 Sweet Garlic BBQ Turkey - by More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow
 Protein Pancakes - by Fitnessiesta
 Olive Oil and Rosemary Potatoes - a version of a More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow
 Ginger Teriyaki Salmon - by ME! :)


Finally.....
This is not food - But Hilarious! I actually saw at Cabela's. It's for camping.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PERFECT Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


Seriously.
I don't use the word "Perfect" lightly. 
These are truly PERFECT Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
I will look no further for another Oatmeal Raisin recipe 
(Well, unless dire circumstances are present, i.e. As if the sky falls.)

After I made the Snickerdoodle Cookies a couple of weeks ago, a co-worker asked me to make some Oatmeal Raisin cookies. 
Sure thing!
Hubby doesn't like oatmeal. 
(I know. I know. It's amazing an oat-lover and an oat-hater can cohabit. But, alas, we find our ways.)

So, me, lover of oats, jumped at the chance to 1) Bake and 2) Make Oatmeal.
I searched until I found this recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
Ohmigosh.
The rating on www.Food.com are 5 starts with almost  1K reviews. 
Um...Winner!

If you love some Oatmeal Raisin Cookies... 
MAKE THESE NOW!


 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Baked Salmon w/ Lime, Jalapeno, and Sour Cream Sauce



You've probably noticed almost all of my Seafood dishes are Salmon recipes. 
What can I say, we are a Salmon-eating duo. 
It's one of the hubby's favorite fishes to eat.
(P.S. I really like Trout, too, but it's not as readily available as salmon). 

I'm a bit pickier in choosing fish at the grocery, than, chicken, beef, or pork, because you know when fish goes bad. *Ick*
This last trip, I purchased fresh salmon from Sam's Club - thought I'd give it a try.
I think that's where I'll do my future salmon shopping - very good, reasonable priced, and not frozen. 
Winner-winner. (No, I will not finish with "Salmon Dinner.")  :-)

I wanted to make something a bit different than Dill Salmon or hubby's favorite BBQ Salmon. 

Did you notice the original recipe has Chive?
Well, this chica did not have chive en la casa.
(Dunno why I just switched to espanol...maybe it's the Jalapeno.)

Nonetheless, I omitted (of course). 
I followed the recipe, but used less butter and less jalapeno ('cause I ran out of that, too! Fancy that.)

The dinner was tasty.
I served with a side of Roasted Broccoli (um, yum!), Herbed Bisquick Biscuits (I seasoned with garlic, onion powder, dill, and basil), and Rice-a-Roni (classy, I konw) fajita rise. 
Arriba!

So, we had a very loosely Mexican meal (Jalapeno, lime, fajita rice) mixed with American (Roasted Broccoli and Herbed Biscuits)???
Maybe odd, but it worked. 
I totally snagged the leftovers. 

Check out the link for the recipe!
Yum!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Peanut Buttaaaaa!

Who here loves PeAnUt BUtTeR?
I know I do!
While this isn't a "recipe post", I feel the need to share some deliciousness I have recently found.

*****

Display Numero Uno: Caramel Latte Nut Butter - made by Sarah at The Smart Kitchen .

Yeah.
Caramel AND Latte AND Nut Butter
My sweet and thoughtful co-peanut butter lover and friend, Camee, surprised me with this yumminess via the USPS postal service. She simply said she had a surprise for me, it was food, and it would arrive in the mail.
I pondered what could it be? I was so excited to find this Caramel Latte Nutty Butter!

This butter not only has peanuts, but almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and of course, coffee (and more!).
It's natural and homemade. Each month Sarah makes 2 flavors available for purchase and home delivery.
January was this flavor and a Chai Nutty Butter. Can't wait to see what the February flavors will be!

It really is good. I like it straight out of the jar, but also enjoy it stirred in my oats. Order Here.
Display Numero Uno
*****


Display Numero Dos: Smuckers Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
I LOVE this stuff. It is by far the BEST peanut butter this mouth has ever tasted!


Usually, I buy the peanut or almond butter at a health food store (i.e. Fresh Market or other local health store). You know, the kind where you push the button and it grinds the nuts into nut butter right. in front of you?
Awesome.
I still like that stuff, but since I've found this?
Smuckers blows the competition out of the water.
It's so good, you'd expect there has to be something unhealthy hidden in there? But nope - Just Peanuts and a bit o' salt. That's it. 
I still wonder how those 2 simple ingredients can taste that delicious. I mean, what's the Smucker's secret? Whatever it is, let the Smucker's keep at it.
To top it off, I purchased Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter  from the ever accessible Wal-mart! Not a fancy-smance grocer.

Look no further for a tasty, healthy creamy,  lick the jar, nothing's better peanut butter...Smuckers Natural is where it's at! (Plus, it is cheaper than the ones sold at the health food stores. Smucker's scores more points!).
 





Kind of sad, but I bought this jar less than 2 weeks ago ------->
This could be dangerous!!! :)




This week: Making more Chewy Peanut Butter Granola & Greek Yogurt Parfaits.