Thursday, March 21, 2013

One step forward, three back...

     This has been such an unhealthy week for me. Both my aunt's birthday and Mike's birthday were this week. The celebrations have been fun, but definitely not healthy.

     On Saturday we had some of Mike's friends over for the GSP vs. Diaz fight and his birthday. Taylor (who is Mike's best friends girlfriend) and I decided that we were going to cheat (hard core) and just make what we felt like....bad decision.

Oops, I forgot to mention that on Friday night Taylor and Tyler came over to watch Maryland whoop up on Duke. We were disgusting that night. Mega fries (fries packed with cheese and bacon) and a Cheeseteak Stromboli dripping in grease. I was even so disgusting that I dredged my fries in the grease, too. GO TERPS!! Boo grease...

     Taylor made some AMAZING "Crack Brownies" or so we dubbed them. It's a chocolate chip cookie topped with a Reese's cup topped with an Oreo and covered in brownie batter. Ummmm...can you say cardiac arrest?? But, they were amazing. I was good, however, and only ate one. But that one was sooo delicious!!
     I made my go-to (and Mike's favorite) Buffalo Chicken Dip. Then, I found a recipe for Cowboy Caviar (which I hope to post later) and paired that with some lovely tortilla chips. And finally, we made some coconut shrimp, another of Mike's favorites. Not to mention the pizza, jelly beans, and another dessert that our other couples brought. :)
     The night was a very fun night. I think I owe some of that to the GSP win (everyone else was a Diaz fan) and the Vodka Monster, my go-to drink. I really want to figure out a healthier drink for my weekends. I think alcohol may be one of my problems with losing weight. Not that I get drunk all the time but I love a good glass of wine or a beer or two while making dinner and eating. It helps me relax. (Mike had a take a psych test in order to become a CO. He tells me this is a red flag. lol. I say "boo you".)

     On Sunday we celebrated my Aunt's birthday at my brother's house. Mike and I had spent the day in bed recovering and got up only to pee and eat. My brother's house is always so fun. I am so in love with my niece and nephew. They are probably the funniest people I know. Now that they are in day care they say and do the darndest things.
     Logan took Mike back to the bedroom to organize his diapers,  he loves the Oscar ones, and then brought them out to show all of us. Somehow in the chaos that is Auntie and Uncle Mike, Logan's pants fell down. Of course we all laughed which provoked Addy to moon us as well. What a lady :) They get that from their father....hand's down. Logan went to get his potty and decided he was going to try it out. Unfortunately, no luck yet, but it was so fun to watch him get excited and try. Addy was also soooo excited for her brother. She kept telling him, "You know what you get if you go pee-pee? You get a Reese's Pieces!! Go Logan Go!!". Such a mom.
     Dinner was lasagna. I loaded up my salad and skipped the cake trying to compensate for the night before. Strawberry cake too, my favorite. :( The whole family sang "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar" about 17 times. Addy was very adamant about who stole the cookies.



     Tuesday night we celebrated Mike's birthday again, only this time at his parent's house. Mike had a craving for ham, cabbage, and potatoes so that's what we had along with some cornbread and green beans. I actually found out that it wasn't that bad for you. Sirena (Mike's mom) boiled everything only in water and little broth. It certainly tasted amazing, however. I'm sure the vanilla cake with chocolate icing wasn't healthy...but it was gooooood!!

     Last night was Mike's "real" birthday. I wanted to do something special because, although we had already celebrated twice, it was his actual birthday. So, I spent the morning coming up with a plan for dinner. I had originally wanted to make it healthy, but I also wanted to be 100% certain that it tasted good. So, I kinda splurged on this one. We had bruschetta for an appetizer and then the main meal was: steak and shrimp with a garlic cream sauce, twice baked potato casserole, and an asian vegetable medley. For dessert we had bread pudding with a vanilla cream sauce. The bread pudding was amazing!! I took a pic but it's not that great. I might decide to put it on the blog anyway, though.


     So....all this brings me to my post title. One step forward, three back. I started working out in January. I haven't been paying too close attention to the scale because I know I have been putting on a ton of muscle. In 3 months I have lost about 6 pounds. I weighed myself this morning. In one week, I put back on 3 pounds. Back to Beastmode!!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I didn't want to...but I did...

     I feel like, lately, things have been very busy and I haven't really gotten to do anything fun for the blog. So...I figured I would post about my latest accomplishment. :)

     As I mentioned many times before, I have started to think about my body a little more and decided to get back in the gym. Contrary to what I originally believed would happen (and many other people too, I'm sure) I actually have stuck with it!! I owe a lot of that to my freakin' awesome workout partner, Taylor, who keeps me motivated to get off the couch. She has had an AMAZING transformation in the past year and I strive to have the same results. Most of this she did from her own home with the Insanity workout videos, but has recently gotten back in the gym with me. I feel so lucky to have someone like that as my BEASTMODE partner.

     As many of you teachers know, these past 2 weeks have been our Maryland State Assessment testing. It has been a dreadful interesting few weeks. :) Our class schedules have changed to allow for each testing class to still get specials (A.K.A. classroom teachers getting planning) and the change is horrendous!! First off, our normal planning time of 8:45-9:30 has been taken away moved to a later date (taken away). Testing starts at 9:15, however, we have to go get the testing materials and students, and before that set up the room. So...picking up what I'm putting down??(taken away) Then, for the next 2-3 hours, I get to sit in a little room and stare at 2 students while they take their test....captivating. When testing is all finished we get lunch (maybe) and start the rest of the day. 11:45 - 3:35. Straight. 5 classes. In a row. No breaks. 3 hours and 50 minutes. 4 days of this. Call you feel my exhaustion??

     I'm telling you this story for a reason. Promise. Keep reading...

     During my hour drive home all I could think about was how badly I wanted to put on my PJ's and sit down with a beer and a book. But, despite that, I got home and changed right into my gym clothes to prepare for our workout at 7:30. After eating dinner and relaxing for a few, Taylor sent me a text that she didn't think she could make it that night. "THANK GOD!!!!" I told her! Best. news. ever. 

...and then I looked down...
...I was already dressed. I had already talked myself into it. Ugh!!...

     So, at 7:30, when I should have been at home in my PJ's with a beer and a book, I headed in to the gym. I know there was no point in doing our weight lifting routine for the day, since we would just do it again tomorrow, so on the elliptical I went. 35 minutes, 473 calories, 3.5 miles, and 4 buckets of sweat later...I rejoiced in my accomplishment!!

     You see, the old me would have taken Taylor's text as a sign. This new me...she took it as an opportunity!! (or something


Monday, March 11, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole (the healthy version)

 

      Mike LOVES cabbage. I had never had cabbage until I met him. (I guess my parents didn't like it??) The first time I had cabbage his mom had fried it. It was delicious. Then, we tried stuffed cabbage that, once again, his mom had made. Again, very good. We don't have it very often, but when I came across this recipe on Skinnytaste I immediately thought it was something that I would do for him. While also, ultimately, keeping it healthy for me. ;)

     The recipe didn't seem that difficult, however, it definitely took some time. In fact, after rereading the recipe, Mike ended up having to make this one. We wouldn't have eaten until 8 o'clock if I did it.

My schedule is awful these days. Mike works nights, I work days,
and I have an hour drive home from work every day. So, on the days Mike
goes into work, I hit up the gym when he heads into work. On the days Mike doesn't
work, I hit up the gym on my way home from school. This leaves little time
for meal preparation. Luckily, I have an awesome man who doesn't mind cooking
and is actually really good at it. Is that how you wanted me to say 
that, babe?

     The casserole turned out really good. I even made the comment to Mike that it was one of the first things that we made that actually looked like the picture!! What an accomplishment!! It tasted good, too. I have to admit it isn't my favorite cabbage recipe (or maybe that's just because someone else didn't make it) but it was definitely good. And it makes a ton!! Plenty of leftovers, for sure. 


Stuffed Cabbage Casserole (the healthy version)
INGREDIENTS:
     1 lb. 95% lean ground beef
     2 tsp. olive oil, divided
     1 large onion, diced
     1 tbsp minced garlic
     1/2 tsp. dried thyme
     1 tsp. paprika
     salt and pepper, to taste
     1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
     1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
     1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
     1/4 cup water
     2 cups brown rice, cooked
     2 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

     Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large baking pan with nonstick spray. 

     Brown ground beef in a skillet, remove and set aside. In the same pan, add 1tsp olive oil and diced onion and cook until onion is translucent. Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Then, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and ground beef. Pour in water. Simmer about 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

     Cut cabbage in half and cut out the core. Roughly chop into 1 inch pieces. Heat remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the cabbage. Cook over medium heat until cabbage is wilted and half cooked turning frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When meat mixture has cooked and thickened, stir in brown rice. Add half the meat mixture to the casserole dish, then top with half the cabbage. Then layer again. 

     Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes or until casserole is starting to bubble. Remove foil and sprinkle on cheese. Bake another 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
     

Skinny Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

   

     I know what you're thinking....not possible...but it really is!

     Mike and I had a VERY long weekend. Not sure if I've mentioned before but Mike races cars. He has been into racing long before we even met and has had a variety of cars that he loves to take to the track and race. During the spring, summer, and fall months we often take his weekends off to go to the local race track and watch the races since he hasn't had a car of his own. Last summer, however, he bought another race car so he could participate. He's not one to hold on to things long and eventually he came across an even faster race car. So, on Saturday we made the long trip to CT in order to trade his '86 Mustang (runs in the 9's) for an '88 Mustang that he can race Ultra Street this year. We left our house at 5am and were on the road. 6 hours later we arrived at the guy's house for the trade. Then, after about an hour of comparing cars, we were back on the road headed home.

(For those interested...here is the pic of "The Changing of the Guards". Mike's Our old car is the one with the black stripe and the "Proline" sticker. The darker one is the new one.)

     After all of our "excitement" on Saturday we wanted to lay low on Sunday. We called Mike's parents and convinced them to come out to breakfast with us. Then, we somehow convinced them to make us dinner as well!! I agreed to make some sort of dessert, which was hard for me considering the whole "healthy eating" thing we are trying to do. But then remembered the amazing Skinnytaste website!!

     We looked and looked and finally agreed upon the Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake. I, of course, added my own twist to it, but mostly because raspberries were so expensive!!!

Here it is!!

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars
Nutritional Facts: Servings (9) Amount per Serving - Calories: 181, Total Fat: 7.1g, Cholesterol: 14.9 mg, Sodium: 145.9 mg, Potassium: 99.5 mg, Total Carbs: 24.6g - Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g, Sugars: 16.8g, Protein: 5.5g

INGREDIENTS:
     4 low fat graham crackers, crumbled
     1 tbsp light butter
     1/4 cup, sugar
     8 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
     1 tsp vanilla extract
     6 oz fat free vanilla yogurt
     1 tbsp flour
     2 egg whites
     1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate (for drizzling)
     9 strawberries

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a square baking pan with nonstick spray.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and the butter and press into the bottom of the dish.

Slowly beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Then, gradually add in egg whites, flour, and yogurt. Do not overbeat!!

Pour over graham cracker crust (I needed to spread mine out a little with the spatula to make it even).

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until center feels almost set. Cool to room temp and then put in fridge for a few hours.

Cut pie into 9 equal bars (I made mine a little bigger and couldn't finish the whole thing). Melt the chocolate and then drizzle on top of the bars. Add a few strawberries and confectioner's sugar for garnish.

   

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

     Mike and I have been struggling with trying to find more ideas for healthy meals that aren't so boring. We have had the quiche a few different ways lately and we have also made the pot pies a few times as well. It also seems like most of the ideas that I find from Pinterest don't always seem all that "healthy". So I went on a search...

     I came across a website that I have now fallen in love with. Skinnytaste.com is AMAZING!! They have so many wonderful ideas that are definitely family-friendly and easy to make. On each recipe it provides you with nutritional facts. It also gives Weight Watchers point information in case you are keeping track of that. Now, I don't have to worry so much about trying to figure out all that information myself. It's right there for me.

     Tonight I decided I was going to try one of the dishes that has been catching my eye. It's called Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side. Now, normally I'm very cautious of pasta recipes, however, this one really did seem like it would be healthy. I was able to find some whole wheat linguini noodles so it might even be a little healthier than what they say. It also looked quite easy, and with the week this has been that was exactly what I was looking for. (Too bad I have to hit the gym tonight because a bottle of wine would be AMAZING with this dish....and this day.)


Cajun Chicken Pasta
INGREDIENTS:
     8 ounces whole wheat uncooked linguini
     1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
     1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning. (I just used a little bit of homemade stuff I had)
     garlic powder to taste
     1 tbsp. olive oil
     2 medium bell peppers, your choice in colors, sliced thin
     1/2 red onion
     1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
     1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
     1/3 cup skim milk
     1 tbsp flour
     3 tbsp light cream cheese
     fresh cracked pepper
     salt to taste
     2 scallions, chopped

DIRECTIONS:
     In a small blender, make a mixture of the cream cheese, milk and flour. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

     Season chicken generously with cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and salt. Cook pasta in salted water according to directions on the package.

     Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Sauté chicken until done and set aside. Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add in bell peppers, onions, and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Season with salt, garlic powder, and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

     Reduce heat to low-medium and add chicken broth. Pour in the cream cheese mixture and stir for about 2 minutes. Return chicken to skillet and season accordingly. Cook until hot, then add linguini and toss well to coat. Top with chopped scallions.

     Enjoy!!