351. Veggietastic Breakfast Bowls

Yesterday I mentioned one of the things that is really working for me is eating a massive amount of vegetables.  One of the ways I do this is to load up my breakfast with 3 – 4 servings of veggies through these “Veggie Breakfast Bowls.”  This isn’t really a recipe so much as a method because you can use pretty much anything you want to create these bowls.  I like to switch it up week to week based on what veggies I have on hand and so I don’t bored.

Aside from being loaded with veggies, one of the nice things about these veggie bowls is that you really can make everything in advance, throw the bowl together and pop it in the microwave for a couple minutes if you don’t have a lot of time to make breakfast in the morning.

So here’s how I roll in the mornings:

  • First, grab a large-ish bowl and add about ½ c of your grain of your choice.  This week I went with quinoa that I made ahead on Sunday, but in the past I’ve used grits, couscous, and even oatmeal.  Since the grain was the only pre-made element of this morning’s breakfast, I just heated it in the microwave for 90 seconds.  If the rest of your ingredients are pre-cooked microwave it all at the end.

  • Next up, top the grains with 2 – 3 cups of veggies.  This week I’ve been using about 1 c of slice baby bellas and 2 cups of spinach which I sauté together in a splash of olive oil.  I’ve also used Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and leftover roasted veggies.

  • Now top your veggies with an egg.  I like to use over-easy or poached eggs so I get a nice runny yolk to mix in, but if runny egg yolks aren’t your thing you could definitely use scrambled or even hard boiled.

  • Top it all with some cheese (or don’t).  I bought a giant bag of Cabot 50% Reduced fat Sharp Cheddar Snackers at Costco a couple weeks ago so I crumble one of those on top.  Feel free to add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, or other seasonings as well.  Sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t.

  • Finally, mix it all together and enjoy!

Depending on the grain I’m using, the whole bowl clocks in at 6 – 7 points plus and usually keeps me full for several hours.  (I eat breakfast about 6:30am and generally don’t start getting hungry again until at least 10:30!)

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334. December to Remember Weekly Update 2

Alright, executive decision has been made: December to Remember Challenge updates are now being posted on Tuesdays.  I should know well enough by now that I’m really not a weekend blogger.  I just don’t have/ make time for it.  Oh well, an update is an update right?

I’m still struggling with the fitness side of the challenge.  Remember back in, like, September when I joined a gym that was supposed to be opening in mid- to late November?  Well, November came and went and the gym hadn’t opened.  However, I was then told the grand opening date would be December 15th.  So, truth be told, I planned this challenge around the expectation that my gym would be open for at least half the month of December.  This was where I was planning to get most of my strength training and cross training done.  Well, it’s not December 20th and this gym still is not open.  I called the location, and they told me it would be open this Thursday.  I emailed X-Sport corporate, and they told me the 26th.   In any case, the point is that I’d been counting the gym to be open and it isn’t which means I’ve had to get creative on my cross training and strength training.  I’ve been taking the dog on longer evening walks, and I’ve been running up and down the stairs in my condo at the suggestion of Laura.  (I’m also pretty sure my neighbors think I’m bat-shit crazy.)

The one area I’m lacking in most is miles run which is a bit ironic as I figured that would be a piece of cake goal.  I’m trying to be positive about it, but I think it’s almost unrealistic to hit that goal at this point…at least without injuring myself.  Oh well, I’m going to try.  The month ain’t over yet.

The Goals

  1. Run 75 miles – 15/75 (20%)
  2. Cross Train 250 minutes – 115/250 (46%)
  3. Strength Train 150 minutes – 40 /150 (27%)
  4. Hold a 2 minute plank – 45 seconds
  5. 2 “real” push-ups – I can get halfway down and back up twice
  6. Hold a 90 second wall squat – 45 seconds
  7. Track food/ points 25 complete days – 19/25 (76%)
  8. Make 15 new healthy recipes from my cookbook stash – 7/15 (47%)
  9. 160 servings of fruits and veggies. – 100/160 (63%)

 

332. December to Remember Weekly Update 1.5

I know I’ve owed you a December to Remember updated since Saturday.  Sorry friends.  It was a crazy gingerbread filled weekend that ended with my car being trapped in my garage.  Sounds like fun right?  Well, it was a blast until that last part.  Anyway, I do have an update for you all.  I have to admit; I’m off to a bit of a slow start especially on the fitness side of things.  I really need to pick it up because I desparately need more winter gear!

The Goals

  1. Run 75 miles – 7/75
  2. Cross Train 250 minutes – 70/250
  3. Strength Train 150 minutes – 20 /150
  4. Hold a 2 minute plank – 45 seconds
  5. 2 “real” push-ups – I can get halfway down and back up twice
  6. Hold a 90 second wall squat – 45 seconds
  7. Track food/ points 25 complete days – 11/25
  8. Make 15 new healthy recipes from my cookbook stash – 5/15
  9. 160 servings of fruits and veggies. – 54/160

I promise an actual Saturday morning update this week!

320. Make It Monday: From Around the Web

I’ve been a busy lady lately which means I haven’t been cooking a great deal.  (Remember when I ate out 6 out of 7 days in a week?!) And when I have been cooking, it’s been straight from recipes with minimal adaptations.  However, the stuff I have been making has been really tasty so I wanted to let you all in on the secret.

BBQ Beer Chicken from How Sweet It Is
Crockpot BBQ Beer Chicken from How Sweet It Is served on pretzel rolls.  This makes a ton of chicken.  I actually packaged up about half this recipe and brought it to my friends Jennie and John who just had a new baby.  I also have some in the freezer to eat at a later time. (Photo Source: How Sweet It Is)

Creamy Tomato Soup from Eat Live Run which was, of course, paired with a warm and gooey grill ham and cheese.  This has become my go-to tomato soup recipe.  It’s so quick and easy to make.

Portobello Cheesesteaks from Back to Her Roots
Portobello Cheesesteaks from Back to Her Roots also served on pretzel rolls.  I’ve never had a true Philly Cheesesteak, but I would venture to guess these are an amazing veggie substitute. (Photo Source: Back to Her Roots)

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes from whisktogether over at Tasty Kitchen.

This Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese recipe from Cooking Light with these substitutions from The Candid RD.  I did actually make one substitution of my own on this one, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I had several bags of mozzarella on hand so I used that instead of the gruyere.  I love mozzarella, but it just doesn’t have a strong enough flavor for this recipe.  It was good, but there was much more squashiness than cheesiness.

I suggest you go and make all of these things as soon as possible.  In fact, I just made your meal plan for the week.  You’re welcome.

301. What I Ate Wednesday on Thursday


Welcome to my first What I Ate Wednesday!  Here’s your first opportunity to see how I spend my daily points.  This is actually what I’ve eaten today.  Enjoy my crappy sub-par phone camera pictures!!

In my haste to actually go eat my dinner I failed to hit publish last night.  #EpicFailWhale.

Breakfast

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2 egg + 2 T cheddar cheese omelet with about 1/4 c of peach mango salsa with a side of vitamin supplements.  This is pretty much my breakfast every day.  I need a pretty protein heavy breakfast otherwise I’m starving an hour or two later. Points+ value 6

Snacks

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Before lunch I had a banana that went unphotographed.  It was an ugly banana anyway all bruised from being transported in my bag.  After lunch I had this awesomely delicious oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookie.  My boss’s wife stopped by the office to visit with their son, and she brought these cookies.  It was seriously the best cookie I’ve had in a long, long time.  I asked my boss to obtain the recipe for me.  Apparently the secret ingredient is lots of butter.  Points+ values 0 for the banana and about 6 for the cookie.

Lunch

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Lunch was a salad featuring leftover Grilled Margherita Portobello Burgers from last night’s dinner.  Tasty and filling  Points+ value 2 points

Dinner

P1010979

Dinner has not actually been eaten yet, but it’s this delicious looking slow cooker BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (recipe on Monday) on homemade sandwich thins with Trader Joe’s sweet potato chips on the side.  Points+ value 7 for the BBQ pork, 3 for the sandwich thin and 4 for the chips.  14 points+ total for dinner.

Total Points+ Used 28.

Next week I’ll do a better job with photos, and ya know, actually posting on Wednesday.  I promise.

299. Make it Monday: Banana Soft Serve Obsession

Lately, I have been obsessed with banana soft serve – like, I’ve eaten it every day for a week obsessed.  I usually have a stock pile of frozen bananas in my freezer; they’re gone now.  Usually I stick to the classic bananas and vanilla extract, but this week I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different flavors.  These two recipes have been my favorites so far.

Salted Chocolate Banana Soft Serve
adapted from Banana Soft Serve
makes 1 serving | 1 points+ per serving

A little bit salty and a little bit chocolately, it’s hard to believe this isn’t real ice cream.

Ingredients
2 bananas, frozen
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Process frozen bananas in the food processor according to the original recipe.
  2. After 1 – 2 minutes of processing, when the bananas are broken up into fine little chunks or balls, stop the food processor and add the vanilla.  Continue processing
  3. After another 1 – 2 minutes of processing, add the cocoa powder and salt mixing in the cocoa powder just a bit to prevent it from getting blown onto the side of the bowl when you start the processor again.  Continue processing until smooth and creamy – 1 – 2 more minutes.

Chocolate Cherry Banana Soft Serve
adapted from Banana Soft Serve
makes 1 serving | 1 points+ per serving

Subtle chocolate and sweet cherries…what more can you ask for?

Ingredients
2 bananas, frozen
1 teaspoons cocoa powder
8 – 10 fresh cherries, pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Process frozen bananas in the food processor according to the original recipe.
  2. After 1 – 2 minutes of processing, when the bananas are broken up into fine little chunks or balls, stop the food processor, scrape down bananas if necessary and add the vanilla.  Continue processing
  3. After another 1 – 2 minutes of processing, again scrape down the sides if necessary and add the cocoa powder and cherries mixing in the cocoa powder just a bit to prevent it from getting blown onto the side of the bowl when you start the processor again.  Continue processing until smooth and creamy – 1 – 2 more minutes.

I like to eat my banana soft serve out of a mug, wine glass or fun and fancy bowl, but I’m also a little bit crazy sometimes.  If you’ve never made banana soft serve, you should make one of these recipes right now.  It’s a great substitue for soft serve ice cream if you can’t (or don’t) eat dairy or are just looking for a healthier option.

Also, a note regarding the points+ value, I couldn’t actually find a points + value for cocoa powder that wasn’t hot chocolate mix.  I used 1 points+ as the value for these recipes just to make sure I was accounting for the cocoa.  This may actually be 0 points+ since it’s fruit!

297. A Brownie Sundae by Any Other Name…is Still a Caloric Nightmare.

This isn’t a new topic – to me, the healthy living blogging community, or society as a whole – but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I’ve been diligently (and less than diligently) tracking my Weight Watchers points: availability of restaurant nutritional information.

Laws in place in New York require calorie counts be on the menus at restaurant and fast food chains.  (I’d completely forgotten about this until we were at Applebee’s in NYC!  I was actually confused by nutrition information on the menu until I remembered it was required by law.)  There have been studies that show it doesn’t have a huge effect on people’s selection – about one in six people use the calorie information and select lower calorie options.

Truth be told, the majority of the time when I’m going out to eat, I’m not really trying to be healthy.  No matter how healthy you try to be at a restaurant, it’s still not going to be as healthy as something made at home.  It is what it is.  Generally, we eat out at most once a week.  I consider this my splurge meal, and I’m going to get what I want.  Having the calorie count on the menu isn’t likely to dissuade me from ordering what I want unless it’s absolutely ridiculous.  That said, I still want to be able to track my food and assess the “damage” I’ve done.

I appreciate the laws that require restaurants to include calorie counts on their menus and signage, but what I would really like to see is a shift in the restaurant industry to readily providing more healthy options and easy access to complete nutrition information.  I don’t even necessarily care if it’s on the menu.  There are plenty of other ways to make nutrition information available to your customers without making it “in your face” which is another complaint I’ve seen about calories being posted on menus.

  • Provide a booklet at each table – like the dessert or drink menu – listing all the nutrition information.  If the customer is interested it’s at their disposal.  If they’re not, they can ignore it.
  • Make it easily accessible on your website by a downloadable PDF – the key here is easily.  Don’t make the customer dig around for it or request it from you. (I’m looking at your Buffalo Wild Wings!)
  • Even better, provide “meal builder” function on your website.  Panera posts calorie counts on their menu boards, but their website has a feature that allows you to determine the complete nutritional information for your entire meal, and it’s fully customizable.  If you substituted your bread, you can swap it out in the meal builder tool; did you leave off the sauce?  You can subtract those calories quick and easy.
  • Electronic kiosks with the nutrition information are another option.  I believe au Bon Pain has these, but I could be wrong.

In any case, don’t tell me I can’t have it.  (This statement was originally directed at Friday’s, but I just discovered they now provide complete nutrition information on their website.  Kudos!)  I understand that for smaller restaurant chains and family owned restaurants providing nutrition information can create an additional burden, and in this case, I can generally estimate.  However, large national chains have no excuse.  Plus, refusal to provide me with nutritional information makes me wonder what they’re hiding.

What do you all think?  Is the availability of nutrition information important to you?  Was it important to you before you shifted to a healthier lifestyle?  Would/ do you let nutrition information dictate your choices at a restaurant? Do you think if in your face nutrition information became the norm people would think about it more, or do you think that would make it so common place it would be just as easy to ignore as if I weren’t there at all?

I’m really curious.  It seems like such a simple idea – provide people with information about what they’re eating, but a lot of people seem to get really bent out of shape over it.  It also wasn’t something I gave much thought to prior to 2009.  I knew eating out meant high calorie dishes, but I never realized that some of those desserts (my beloved brownie sundaes!) often contain an entire day’s worth of calories!