Thursday, January 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken

I'm not always in the mood for heavy pastas and sauces. When you're  looking to serve something a little lighter for dinner, but  don’t want to sacrifice the zesty Italian flavor you've come to love, this Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken does the trick! This slow cooker recipe is easy to make, healthy, and tastes delicious. Chicken recipes do not have to be boring. Slow cooker foods are a great way to pack a lot of flavor into lean chicken breast. The end result of this balsamic chicken recipe is a moist, flavorful dish your entire family will love!
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (about 40 ounces)
  • 2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced (Not chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (for gluten-free use White Balsamic Vinegar which doesn't have caramel coloring)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil, and rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • ground black pepper and salt to taste

Pour the olive oil on bottom of slow cooker, add chicken breasts, salt and pepper each breast, put sliced onion on top of chicken then put in all the dried herbs and garlic cloves. Pour in vinegar and top with tomatoes.
Cook on high 4 hours, serve over brown rice or quinoa.

Yields 10 Cups | Serving size: 1 Cup | Calories: 190 | Previous Points: 4 | Points Plus: 4 | Fat: 6g | Saturated fat: 1 g | Trans fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 53 mg | Sodium: 121 mg | Carbohydrate: 5 g | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 3 g | Protein 26 g

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why we're hooked on garbage!

It's safe to say that junk food addiction is a very real thing. The first place to look for proof is the ever-mounting pile of scientific evidence, including a recent study out of Sweden showing that the hormone ghrelin, which activates the brain's reward system and increases appetite, reacts similarly to sugar and alcohol.

Then there are the increasingly decadent foods we have 24-hour access to. In his book The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler theorizes that manufacturers have, over the years, engineered the balance of fat, sugar, and salt in junk food to the point of making it irresistible. He refers to our gluttonous response to this crackified food as "conditioned hypereating."
Most of this current thinking revolves around physiological factors, such as the fact our brains are hardwired to seek out highly caloric foods as a "feast or famine" instinct left over from caveman days. Unfortunately, human beings are slightly more complex than our primitive ancestors. By adulthood, most of us are a hodgepodge of neuroses and psychoses for whom a Twinkie has become a security blanket, so this urge to splurge will never completely vanish. Sure, you can retrain your body to crave healthy food, but your psyche may never stop seeking validation, Hostess® style.

How to keep that addiction under control

Luckily, a well-trained body goes a long way towards helping a slightly off-kilter mind. For example, if I were to force down that half package of Nutter Butters®, I'd get physically sick. After years of clean eating, my digestive system has lost its ability to handle the toxic effects of a sugar hit like that, not to mention the preservatives and additives. Thanks in part to these newfound "limitations," today I can walk away from the cake or limit myself to one or two bites—but that's taken years of training.
But it wasn't easy. If you're going to break a sugar habit, it's going to take time, patience, and willpower. But take it from a guy who used to work his way through an entire box of Cap'n Crunch® for breakfast: If I can do it, so can you. Here's where to start.

1. Clean all the junk food out of your home. Think of the stereotypical image of the woman getting dumped by her boyfriend and climbing into bed with a tub of Ben & Jerry's®. If that tub wasn't in the freezer to begin with, odds are that our protagonist would have instead settled for a soak in the tub.

There's also "unconscious eating" to worry about—when you just grab a bag of fried carbs while you're sitting in front of the tube and stuff your face for no reason. If you don't have access to the junk, the only bag you'll be able to grab for will be filled with baby carrots. If someone brings some junk over for a dinner party, enjoy it with them and dump the rest when they leave.

2. Make 80% clean. Relax with that other 20%. Just because your kitchen cupboard no longer looks like a movie theater concession stand doesn't mean you can't live it up sometimes. If most of your diet is super tight, you're doing great, so cut yourself some slack. When I made my first big push to clean up my diet, Friday was Cookie Day. I ate like a saint 6 days a week, but every Friday I had a giant chocolate chip cookie and a latte.

Knowing I had Cookie Day to look forward to made all the veggies on the other days much more palatable.                                                                                                                      

3. Make a comforting ritual out of eating healthy. The fact that Cookie Day was a ritual was also quite helpful. Unhealthy eating is often ritualistic—something comfortable and constant that you can depend on. Not only can you have your own Cookie Day—a conscious, controlled, weekly moment of indulgence—but you can replace unhealthy rituals with healthy ones.

For example, I used to drink at least two servings of soda a night. I'd have a glass with dinner and then another one when I was sitting around reading or watching TV. When I realized that second drink wasn't doing me any favors, I replaced it with a cup of green tea. The 21-days-to-form-a-habit thing has no scientific backing, but eventually a behavior pattern will set in. In my case, after three weeks I stopped missing that second soda. Then, after a few more weeks I really started craving the calming, peaceful feeling my cup o' tea gave me. Now it's a nightly ritual.

4. Carry healthy foods with you at all times. If you carry a purse or a backpack, throw an apple or some raw nuts in there. In this Fast Food Nation, it's pretty easy to find yourself in situations where you're hungry and, shucks, you just have no choice but to buy a donut because that's the only thing you have access to.

You don't have that excuse if there's a snack in your pack. Here are a few to consider:

  • Fresh fruit (Apples and oranges travel well!)
  • Dried fruit (It all travels well!)
  • Raw nuts
  • Whole-grain crackers
  • A Shakeology® packet
5. Discover new, yummy fruits and veggies. There's a lot of weird, healthy food out there. Sometimes, we avoid fresh produce because either we're either bored of the same old oranges or there's a stigma associated with particular produce. Dad just forced you to eat asparagus one too many times. If this is a problem for you, buy fruits and veggies you don't recognize. If you don't know how to prepare it, do an internet search for "(produce name) + recipe." You might stumble on a new flavor that completely blows your mind.

For me, that magic fruit was the cherimoya, or "custard apple." They're green and scaly on the outside, thick, white, and creamy on the inside, with a rich taste as sweet and satisfying as the richest sorbet. My mouth is watering just writing about them.

6. Binge on healthy foods. I'm probably the only person who will ever give you this advice since it's a wee bit questionable. Every once in the while, something emotional triggers me and I need to eat junk. Someday I might completely conquer this urge, but not yet. When I feel this happening, I hit the fridge and "pre-binge" on healthy foods, mainly raw veggies. Sooner or later, the ice cream or chips come out, but by that point, I'm so full of broccoli that I'm not physically capable of doing too much damage. Dysfunctional? Maybe, but a vast improvement over the alternative.
You might be one of those lucky souls who just decided to walk away from the candy counter and never looked back. Good for you. I'm not one of those people. Eating right is much easier than it was 20 years ago, but it's still a process. That said, the rewards are innumerable, so why don't you set down the pudding pop, grab a peach, and join me?
Article courtesy of Team Beachbody

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Brown Rice and Beans

This is a great dish for whole the family or make a big pot at the beginning of the week and have it for a quick lunch or dinner!
  • 3 c. brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 medium bell pepper, seeded and diced (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can green chiles
  • 2 19-ounce can black beans, or  red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  salt & pepper

    1. Cook rice according to package directions.
    2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, for 1-2 minutes. Add bell pepper, ground cumin, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add beans, broth, vinegar, salt and pepper; green chiles, and cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the hot rice; mix well.

     Try it with pork or chicken, or sprinkle with cheese and wrap in a flour tortilla for lunch or a vegetarian supper.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    Cauliflower Breadsticks

    I’m a little bit too excited about this! I was inspired by Celine's Cauliflower Crusted Pizza and so I decided to go for it and try to achieve the same yumminess in a breadstick. There are hardly any calories for the whole pan!

    •1 large head of cauliflower
    •2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
    •2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    •4 oz low fat mozzarella cheese
    •1/2 teaspoon onion powder

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Chop the cauliflower into chunks and place into microwave for about 5 minutes or until soft. Place the cauliflower into a food processor and blend until it’s a mashed potato texture.

    In a medium bowl, stir together cauliflower, eggs,cheese, and seasonings. Lightly spray a baking pan with spray oil and coat with the mixture (about 1/2 inch thick)

    Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the top starts to brown

    *Add additional cheese to the top and enjoy! (Tip, its delicious with homemade marinara sauce!!)

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    Clean Fried Rice with Yum Yum (Hibachi Style)

    O. M. G. - Since starting to eat clean back in July, I've so missed heading to Aki, our local Hibachi restaurant where I love getting steak and chicken hibacki with rice smothered in Yum Yum Sauce!! But lets face it, it can't be clean right? Wrong, I found ways to tweak it so it is clean and we celebrated my mother-in-laws birthday last week with steak (haven't had red meat in months) and this recipe. Everyone loved it and there were NO leftovers. I mean it, they loved it, so much that we had this same meal two night's later at the request of my 5 and 6 year old. It is awesome!!

    (Clean) Yum Yum Sauce
    1-1/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (the original non clean version calls for Hellman's Mayo)
    1/4 cup water
    1 teaspoon tomato paste
    1 tablespoon melted Organic butter
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon raw sugar
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    dash cayenne pepper

    Using a fork or a whisk, blend all ingredients together thoroughly until well mixed and the sauce is smooth. **Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to blend. Bring to room temperature before serving.

    Easy Fried Rice

    • 2 cups cooked brown rice *
    • 2 Tbs sesame oil
    • 1 small white onion, chopped
    • 1-2 c. frozen peas and carrots, thawed
    • 2-3 Tablespoons Amino Acids (or Low Sodium Soy Sauce)
    • 3 egg whites
    • 2 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)

    1. Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Pour sesame oil in the bottom. Add white onion and peas and carrots and fry until tender.
    2. Slide the onion, peas and carrots to the side, and pour the beaten eggs whites onto the other side. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, mix the egg whites with the vegetable mix.
    3. Add the rice to the veggie and egg mixture. Pour the amino acids/soy sauce on top. Stir and fry the rice and veggie mixture until heated through and combined. Add chopped green onions if desired.
    * For the rice they suggest day old rice. I usually cook mine in the morning or night before and refrigerate. It will still taste great if you are not able to do this.
    Let me know what you think if you try it!




    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Butterfinger Shakeology

    • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology

    • 2 tablespoons sugar free fat free butterscotch pudding mix

    • 1 tablespoon PB2

    • 1 tablespoon natural Peanut Butter

    • 4 ounces almond milk and 4 ounces water

    • Approx. 5-6 ice cubes (thinner less ice and thicker more, but I like mine thick like a smoothie!!)


    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Pumpkin & Coconut Black Beans and Rice (Slow Cooker Recipe)

    O.M.G. this is a new favorite for sure, especially with the cold weather we've been having. The pumpkin and coconut make a subtle, comforting sauce for the beans. My kids ask for seconds every time we have this.

    Prep time:
    Cook time:
    Total time:

    Serves: a crowd
    • 1 green pepper, chopped (Optional. I’ve done it both ways, and either way is great.)
    • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 lb. black beans, rinsed
    • 1 or 2 cups pumpkin puree (How much do you like pumpkin?)
    • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1 tablespoon curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you don’t have little ones)
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 can coconut milk
    • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
    • 3 cups chicken stock
    • 3 cups water or 6 cups if you don’t have stock
    • Cilantro
    • Plain yogurt

    1. Saute green pepper and onion for 5 minutes.
    2. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
    3. Add sauteed vegetables and all other ingredients except cilantro and yogurt to slow-cooker
    4. Set the slow-cooker on high and let it go about 8 hours.
    5. Check water level from time to time, adding more if necessary to prevent burning.
    6. Garnish with cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt.

    I noticed an acidity problem the second time I made this. If you notice your broth lacking a little something, try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Serve over brown rice or quinoa with a big dollop of plain yogurt on top. Don’t skip the yogurt. It’s important. Garnish with cilantro if you don’t hate the stuff.  I do, LOL, and won’t allow it within 100 feet of our kitchen.