Losing It Lasagna Roll

Things are about to get crazy around here! I am having a wedding in exactly 13 days from today! We have all really been trying to watch what we eat around here so we can fit into our wedding day attire. We’ve had an abundance of veggies and PEACHES! (There is a peach farm on the way to Dallas on I45 which I have frequented at least once a week for some deliciously juicy, local, homegrown peaches. MMMMmmmm) We have also been parking at the very back of the parking lots to clock in just a few more walking steps in our day.

So with our upcoming event, we were in dire need of a yummy recipe that wouldn’t make us loosen our belts too much. I found this recipe for lasagna rolls with my whole foods app and just chose healthier ingredients so it was truly a guilt free meal. It is a really fun meal and not too terribly time consuming.

I made my own marinara sauce from scratch but did not post a recipe for it because I have no idea what I put in it! If you are feeling adventurous this evening, just google marinara recipes and you to may create an all veggies and herb sauce. Or if you don’t really have the time just go for an organic, healthy sauce that is low in sugar).

Ingredients:

8 to 10 uncooked 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 C fat free ricotta cheese
1 1/2 C prepared marinara sauce
Baby spinach
1/2 C low fat mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until done. Drain water thoroughly and move noodles to a work space (you may want to pat the noodles dry and lay them out individually onto a sheet of wax paper so they don’t stick together).

3. Grease a small casserole dish and set aside.

4. Lay out all of your noodles length wise on your work space and spread about 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese and then 2 tablespoons of marinara on each noodle.

5. Lay out the spinach on top of the marinara and then roll each noodle snugly from one end to the other.

6. Arrange in the pan seam-side down to hold them together.

7. Pour remaining sauce over the noodles and then top with cheese.

8. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

And remember folks: It’s ALL about proportions!!! Did you hear me?? IT’S ALL ABOUT PROPORTIONS! Don’t eat all 8 in one sitting. Have one or two with a side salad and fruit for desert 🙂 Happy cooking!

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No Sweat Gnocchi

Something quick? – Definitely! Looooong day!
Something easy? – Ya not so savvy in the kitchen…
Something that is healthy? – Always! Gotta keep my body fueled properly with all this wedding planning!
Something tasty? – If it doesn’t taste good they won’t eat it.

On the menu tonight: Traditional Gnocchi with green beans and tomatoes

This dish is so good your guests might just mistake your kitchen for a little cafe’ in the middle of downtown Firenze. It’s a little higher on the calorie chart than most of my meals but it is definitely healthier and lower in calories than the majority of Italian dishes.

Just in case you didn’t know, gnocchi is a pasta primarily made of potatoes with a small percentage made with flour. Of course I always use the whole wheat potato gnocchi.

This pasta is almost like an Italian dumpling but still has somewhat of a pasta texture. You can find it in most grocery stores in the refrigerated pasta section or in an airtight container on the pasta aisle. It is so quick to make and there are so many ways to prepare it. I just found this recipe on the back of a Racconto Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi box. It is a real treat and does not take that much to fill you up. I recommend only eating about 1-1.5 cups for you meal. Accompany this meal with a small salad, vegetable, or fruit.

Ingredients:

1 package of whole wheat gnocchi (about 17oz) cooked according to the directions on the package
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 fresh roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 lb fresh or frozen string beans, steamed (I didn’t have time so I used a can of organic green beans which worked just fine)
1/8 C grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
2. Add onions and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes and string beans. Saute for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the cooked gnocchi to the sauce mixture.
5. Sprinkle with grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
6. Remove from heat and serve.

* I cooked my pasta while my onions were sauteing. It only takes about 2 minutes to cook after the water is boiling.

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My Life is Forever Changed: I Am the Proud Owner of a Vitamix!

I just have to brag! My Wonderful future in-laws gave us our early wedding present: our very own Vitamix!!!

Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? Google it right now! It is basically the Rolls Royce of blenders. Except calling it a blender doesn’t even suffice. This magical machine actually chops veggies, makes and heats up soups, juices fruit and veggies, and also makes smoothies, peanut butter, ice cream, sorbets, soy milk, flour, and a billion other things! They should hire me to do their advertising 🙂

Ok ok so I might have gotten sucked into a two hour long demonstration at the state fair BUT I watched and tasted everything they made as living proof!

So now I have my very own and tonight I made peach sorbet and banana drop cookies which were both DELICIOUS! My parents couldn’t even believe it. The most amazing part is that the sorbet didn’t have any ice in it just frozen peaches, fat free milk, vanilla, a tiny bit of sugar. When you put something cold in it, the blades create so much friction that it freezes it even more turning it into a sorbet or ice cream. As if that weren’t cool enough, when you leave something blending in the machine for more than 4 or 5 minutes the prolonged friction heats up whatever is in the blender! AHHHH! I’m still freaking out!

It also came with a pretty hefty recipe book filled with only whole food nutritional recipes. That is probably what I love most about the company. They truly support my philosophy of eating only whole food nutrition made of primarily fruits, veggies, and whole grains. I just LOVE the fact that I can open the recipe book to any page and know that I will be making a healthy, low fat, and delicious treat! They are VERY pricey but VERY much worth it! Start saving up! You’ll save money in the long run.

Here is the banana drop recipe from my Vitamix recipe book. I don’t know if it will be as good blended in a regular blender 😉 (now I’m just rubbing it in) but it’s worth a shot!

Ingredients:

2 bananas
1/4 C extra light extra virgin olive oil (the extra light doesn’t have the distinctive taste of regular olive oil)
1 t vanilla
2 C uncooked rolled oats (separate into two 1 Cup portions)
1 C raisins (regular or golden – we used golden)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Blend bananas, olive oil, vanilla, and 1 C oats until smooth.
3. Add raisins and the rest of the oats to the mixture and stir by hand.
4. Form into twelve balls, place on cookie sheet, and press to flatten slightly.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes. It’s okay if they’re “doughy” because there is no eggs that need to be cooked.

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Fantastic Fajitas: Make a Bad Meal GOOD!

I LOVE to make bad meals good! It’s kind of like flipping a house. All you have to do is take a meal that is typically high in calories and make small changes to make it healthier.

Tonight on the menu is just a plain ole fajita, but I have to tell you that there was a unanimous vote that it was one of the best fajitas ever. I have to agree that it is quite tasty and rather easy to prepare.

Ingredients:

1. 2% Cheese
2. 100% whole wheat tortillas (I only go for the homemade ones!)
3. Fat Free, Organic, Plain Yogurt (Sour cream substitute – just trust me on this one. You won’t be disappointed.)
4. Homemade Guacamole*
5. Black Beans (Fresh is healthier but if you don’t tend to plan ahead like me then just go for the organic ones)
6. Grilled chicken
7. Tomatoes

Preparation:

1. Grill your chicken for about 8-10 minutes. I marinated my chicken in extra virgin olive oil, worcestershire sauce, and seasoned pepper.

2. Prepare your guacamole. I used 4 small avocados, 1/2 chopped tomato, 1/4 finely chopped red onion, juice from 1 lemon, and garlic salt and seasoned pepper to taste.

3. Lay out your tortilla.

4. Pile on the fixins! Especially the beans and veggies.

Beans

Guacamole

“Sour Cream” (you don’t have to hold back this time because it’s fat free yogurt!)

Tomatoes

Cheese

Chicken

Making small choices like substituting whole wheat for white tortillas, 2% for regular cheese, yogurt for sour cream, and black beans for re-fried beans can make a big difference! It’s all about the small choices. Enjoy!

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Treat and Trick Yourself: Waffles with Blueberry Sauce

There are two important truths that I believe in:

1. Treat yourself every once in a while. Don’t deprive yourselves for so long that you go on a crazy binging streak. I know too many people that do without and starve themselves from the things that they love for several months and then one day someone puts a cookie in front of them. Before they know it they have inhaled twenty cookies and officially fallen of the wagon. So allow yourself a treat every once in a while but make sure that it is in moderation and try to make it yourself as often as possible (no processed junk food: Oreos, Little Debbie snacks, etc). Go for the all natural and organic ingredient treats or make it yourself! My general rule is that I can have it if I make if myself. This means that I have to set aside the time and energy to make it. This also assures me that I know exactly what ingredients are used and that there are no preservatives.

2. Sometimes you have to trick yourself. If you have been eating like my family and I have been eating for 20+ years then sometimes it can be really difficult to cut out the ‘bad foods’. Therefore, it can be helpful to create the foods you love with a healthier twist.

With that I introduce you to my homemade waffles with fresh blueberry sauce. This is a great recipe because you don’t typically order waffles if you are trying to lose weight. It is a perfect example of tricking and treating yourself.

The ingredients are almost exactly like my banana blueberry and applesauce pancake recipes but you have to make sure that your batter is a little thicker. These recipes are not an exact science so you really have to use your cooking eye to determine if you need to make the batter thicker or thinner.

Waffle Batter Ingredients:

1 banana
1/2 C oats
2 eggs

Directions:

1. Blend banana, oats, and eggs in a blender until smooth. If batter does not look thick enough add oats a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved.
2. Spray waffle iron with an all natural olive oil spray.
3. Pour batter into blender and cook until done.

*If you prefer crispier waffles, you can pop them into the toaster for a few seconds until crispy but not burnt.

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

1 C fresh blueberries
2 T simply orange juice (no sugar added)
1 T honey
1/4 t cornstarch

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan, cook down blueberries and orange juice at medium to high heat.
2. Once the blueberries begin to break down and boil, add the honey and cornstarch.
3. Turn down heat to low and cook until sauce thickens.

Now drizzle your sauce over your waffles and enjoy your treat while your dieting friends are eating eggs and plain toast for breakfast.

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The Secret’s in the Sauce…

Calling all middle-class Americans! Put down that Big Mac and get back into the kitchen RIGHT NOW!!!

In a world of fast food and delectable gourmet chain restaurants we Americans have unfortunately lost our touch in the kitchen. We depend on a mystery ‘chef’ to prepare a mystery meal that has been picked, processed, cooked, frozen, thawed, frozen, thawed again, and reheated for a fee of 2$ to 25$. But do we ever once stop to think: “What are the ingredients in this?”, “Where did the ingredients come from” or “How long ago was it prepared?” No. We simply take what we pay for and cross our fingers in hopes that it is going to satisfy us, save us time, and provide at least some nutrients.

Why is this? Do we actually save any money?? Are we helping our bodies to grow stronger?? And is it REALLY saving time and energy to go to the restaurant, wait in line, order, and then wait for your food? Maybe. One of these three factors may come into play but chances are that all three are not a definite yes.

So how can we do things differently?

Get back into the Kitchen! Introduce yourself to your dusty old skillet and dig up your spatula from the back of the kitchen drawer.

What are the benefits you ask??

1. Knowing what you are putting into your body. This means knowing how many calories you are REALLY consuming, knowing what nutrients your body is getting, and being aware of how fresh your food is.

2. Saving money. You are able to buy ingredients that you know you can use for a whole week. You can even make a meal and (heaven forbid) eat it two days later for left overs!

3. Have the opportunity to spend some quality time with your family cooking and eating a meal at your kitchen table in your own home. This is also a concept that has been lost in our fast-paced lives of soccer practices and PTA meetings.

This is a very heavy topic that deserves SO much more attention and discussion but for now all we need to begin to do is cook. We wonder why people in France and Spain are so much thinner than Americans. It’s because they take the time to prepare their own meals and they don’t miss an opportunity to be active or walk.

So for today I have a challenge for you: Get creative and make your own spaghetti sauce. Everyone loves spaghetti and it is so quick to prepare (especially if you buy the canned sauce). When you take something like spaghetti sauce and get creative in the kitchen, you have the ability to not only improve it, but add so many wonderful vegetables that you do not normally find in spaghetti sauces. Sure you’ll have a lot of mess ups and throw out dishes at the beginning, but mistakes come with learning anything new. We need to start facing our fear of failing in the kitchen and reteach ourselves how to feed ourselves.

Here is my homemade recipe for spaghetti sauce. Let me know what you come up with!

Ingredients:

12 mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 head of broccoli
2 T fresh finely chopped basil (about 7 leaves)
3 T fresh finely chopped parsley (about a handful)
4-5 large tomatoes (I used 2 large tomatoes and 5 small tomatoes grown from my Grandfather’s garden) finely chopped
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t Italian seasonings
1/2 t salt
1 t pepper
A dash or two of garlic salt
1/2 C water mixed with 2 T all natural tomato paste
1 can organic chopped tomatoes (including the juice)

Directions:

1. Heat large skillet with olive oil.

2. Saute garlic and onions on medium heat until vegetables are slightly softened.

3. Add broccoli, mushrooms, basil, and thyme. Continue to cook on medium until mushrooms are cooked down and broccoli is softened.

4. Gradually add salt, pepper, garlic salt to taste, Italian seasonings, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and water/tomato paste mixture.

5. Cook down until tomatoes are thoroughly cooked down and it begins to represent a sauce-like appearance.

6. Serve with your favorite pasta. I used brown rice pasta because I try to consume as little gluten as possible. If you were wondering brown rice pasta tastes almost exactly like white pasta.

7. Top with a touch of fresh Parmesan. Make sure you use a sharp cheese instead of a mild one such as mozzarella, so you get more flavor with just a small amount.

*Make sure you limit your portion of pasta and increase your portion of hearty sauce!

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12 Minute Torture

This workout will leave you dripping with sweat! It is really short but really intense. When you workout for only a short amount of time, you really want to make sure that you are keeping your heart rate up for the entire workout so that you are burning the max amount of fat. This means no to little breaks! Stay strong!

This workout consists of 6 exercises that are to be done for 50 seconds with a 10 second break in between each one. After you finish all 6 exercises you will go through them one more time for a total of 12 minutes. I have also added a special little bonus round that I did at the end of my workout if you are up for a little challenge. I have a special timer on my iphone called GymBoss that keeps track of the time for me (it is a free app). Try to get as many reps in as you can for each exercise. You want to push yourself as hard as you can! Make sure you warm up and cool down for at least 5 minutes before and after.

Have a great workout!

1. Surfer (I did 9 the first round and 11 the second round)

2. Snowboarder (38 the first round and 40 the second round)

3. 1 Leg Toe Touches (25 the first round and 20 the second round)

4. Pike Pushup/ Regular Pushup (8 the first round and 10 the second round)

5. Monkey Shuffles (45 the first round and 44 the second round)

6. 10 Reverse Knee Tucks/ 10 Plank Knee Tucks (4 sets the first and second round)

Bonus Round: 6 rounds of speed rope at 50 seconds each with 10 second breaks in between each round.
(round 1 = 99, round 2 = 100, round 3 = 108, round 4 = 114, round 5 = 121, round 6 = 124)

Surfer:

Start on your stomach with your arms, legs, and core extended and tight. Lift your chest as you squeeze your elbows towards each other keeping them at a 90 degree angle. Do 2 back squeezes and then push up into a plank, jump your feet in, and then jump straight up with your arms and legs extended. This is one rep. After your jump, squat back down, jump your feet out, lower down to your stomach and begin again.

Snowboarder:

Squat down in a snowboarders position. Jump straight up as you rotate 180 degrees and switch leading legs. Touch down in front of you each time.

1 Leg Toe Touches:

Lay on your back with your arms and legs in full extension. Keeping one leg on the ground, lift the other straight up and reach for your toes. Switch legs each time.

Pike Pushup/ Regular Pushup:

Starting in a pike position do one pike push up, crawl your hands out, and do a regular push up (your feet will be a little wider). This is one rep. Crawl your hands back to a pike position to begin your second rep.

Monkey Shuffles:

Start in a low squat position with you knuckles touching or hovering over of the ground. Shuffle over to the side keep your legs slightly bent the whole time. Each time your legs are wide you will tap the ground with your knuckles. I shuffled 4 one way and then 4 back the other way. You can do this depending on how much space you have.

10 Reverse Plank Knee Tucks/ 10 Plank Knee Tucks:

Start in a reverse plank with your whole body tight. Bring one knee to your chest while keeping your hips and arms in the same position. Switch legs each time for a total of 10. Without dropping your bottom onto the ground, rotate over to a plank and do 10 knee tucks. 10 reps of each exercise counts as 1.

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