Spaghetti Squash Bake

Happy Tuesday! How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours started out really good and then ended kind of a low note…my strep throat returned and a busted tail light :-/ Womp womp!  Hubs accidentally backed my car into his…the worst kind of accident. But luckily, everyone is okay.  Easy (but pricey) fix.
fenderbenderI started feeling kind of crappy on Sunday when I woke up, but pressed forward with baking cookies with my little darling.
IMG_2530After that adventure and cleaning up the kitchen, I was exhausted and could feel my throat starting to swell up.  I called my doc to call in another round of antibiotics, so hopefully this round will do the trick.  I have a half marathon to run this weekend and I want to go into it feeling 100%.
To continue on with celebrating National Nutrition Month, I want to share an amazing recipe using spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
Both pasta and spaghetti squash have their own nutritional benefits.  For example, pasta is a better source of folate, where as eating spaghetti squash will provide you with more antioxidants.  Both are low in fat, but if you’re watching your carbs, spaghetti squash would be the better choice.  There are 7 grams of carbs in spaghetti squash compared to pasta’s 31 grams of carbs.  And calories? 1 serving of pasta (and let’s face it, most of us are consuming more than the recommended amount) packs in 158 calories, while spaghetti squash contains 27 calories. (source)   Overall,l if you’re trying to eat low (complex) carbs, low-fat, gluten-free or whole, unprocessed foods, I would say that spaghetti squash is the way to go.
Last week I made this delicious number.
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I cut 1 spaghetti squash in half (lengthwise), brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes.  While that was baking in the oven, I cooked up some italian chicken sausage, spinach, and pasta sauce.  Once the spaghetti squash was out of the oven, I took a fork and “fluffed” up the “noodles”.
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Then spooned the chicken sausage mixture over top and then added a sprinkle of goat cheese crumbles.  And voilà! Dinner :-)
What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? I used to scoop it out onto a plate and eat it like spaghetti, but I found this way to be much more appetizing and EASY!

Beet it!

Happy Fat Tuesday!! How are you celebrating? I started my morning off some juice and eggs :-) Wild & crazy over here, I know.

Since March is National Nutrition Month, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite foods & the benefits you reap from eating them, starting with beets.

beetsIt wasn’t until I was pregnant with Madelyn that I started to like beets.  I was at the farmer’s market and thought to myself, ‘those look fun!’ So I bought them, googled how to cook beets, and the rest is history.  I eat them in salads, as a side, and in JUICE.

beetjuiceMy favorite Beet Juice Combos

  • 1 sweet potato, 1 carrot, 1 red bell pepper, 2 red beets, 2 apples, 1 orange
  • 2 beets, apple, 2 carrots, cucumber
  • Apple, carrot, beet, ginger & lemon

Benefits of Eating Beets

  • High in vitamins & minerals.  Folic acid, iron, fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamins A, B, C; etc…Beets are very beneficial for woman who are pregnant because they help replenish the body’s iron supply and the B vitamins help create new cells.
  • Detox the body.  Beets help detox your liver, purify your blood and can even prevent some types of cancer.
  • Stomach Acid Indicator.  You might notice, that if you eat a lot of beets or drink a lot of beet juice, your pee turns pink.  This is an indicator that you have low stomach acidity.  However, if you’re drinking/eating beets and your pee afterward is clear, this is a sign of high stomach acidity and it’s time to start thinking about your diet/lifestyle.
  • Beets make you happy.  They contain betaine, the same substance that is used in some treatments for depression.  Beets and also lower your blood pressure and give you a “sense of calm”.

Do you eat beets? What is your favorite way to eat them? I usually steam mine, slice them and add a little sprinkle of goat cheese :-) Makes the perfect side!

 

Asian Chicken Salad

Happy Tuesday!  How was everyone’s weekend?  Ours was pretty busy over here, with drill and the last of our work holiday parties plus taking care of a sick kiddo.  Let’s just say, I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Last week, I was on a mission to use up some of the pantry items I’ve had on hand for awhile.  There were a lot of random meals being made and at one point, I said to hubs as we sat down to dinner, “I have no idea how this is going to taste, but all these things sounded like a really good idea.”  And it was.  I did, however, make one meal that I knew would be a for sure winner.

Every time we have a big family gathering, my grandma makes this Oriental Salad and it’s always a hit.  The salad is made with a pack of ramen noodles and you use the flavor packet as part of the dressing.  It’s amazing.  I would like to experiment with making the dressing completely from scratch one of these days just because I know how much sodium is in that little flavor packet.  If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears!  To serve as a main meal, I cut up two chicken breasts into bite size pieces and sautéed them in sesame oil and black pepper.  The chicken definitely added some staying power to the salad.

IMG_2488Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bag angel fine cole slaw
  • 1 pack oriental flavored ramen noodle
  • 1/2 c diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 c honey roasted sesame sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c roasted almonds sliced

Dressing

  • 1 flavor pack that comes with noodles
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c oil

In a large bowl, mix up all of the salad ingredients.  Crush the ramen noodles up for garnish if you want to.  It adds a nice crunch to the salad.  In a separate smaller bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and stir.  Mix well into the salad.  Add in the chicken.  There you have it!  A salad packed with flavor that has some staying power.  Win win!

This week, my meals are well-planned out but my workouts are kind of all over the place, but I’m getting it done!  Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

Monday: PF Chang’s Asian Lettuce Wraps (thumbs up!) + Interval Barre & Running 3 miles

Tuesday: Runner’s World Meatloaf  (sooo good!) + foam rolling & stretching

Wednesday: leftovers + barre bee

Thursday: Jerk shrimp stir-fry + my Air Force PT Test!! (I’m anxious to see how all the push-ups in barre have helped me!)

Friday: Mexi night + Barre & running maybe?

I’ve been putting my Runner’s World cookbook to use!  I have yet to make a disappointing recipe from it and can’t wait to try out some of the desserts.  It was one of the most useful birthday presents that I received last year.

Question of the night:  What’s your favorite recipe book?  I could always add more to my collection!  My favorite would have to be a gift from my grandma.  One year for Christmas, she made up books for all of the women in my family of all of her best recipes.  It’s a cookbook I will keep forever!

Timing is Everything

Happy Sunday!  I hope you’re enjoying your weekend.  Ours has been pretty relaxing.  Madelyn and I bundled up and headed out to the gym yesterday for a 6 miler on the treadmill, while she ran around at the kids club.  I’m ready for winter to be OVER.  The only thing that got me through 6 miles on the treadmill was reading Runner’s World on the iPad.  Today, my mom came over and watched Madelyn for me while I tortured my thighs at Barre…in a good way of course ;-)

So yesterday, after my run I was pretty proud of myself for having another good long run on the treadmill.  I texted my sister if she wanted to come celebrate with me by drinking some wine and eating gourmet frozen pizza, compliments of Trader Giotto’s.  She happily accepted :-) I usually reserve my few glasses of wine for the weekends.  I’ve found that when I have even one glass during the week, when I have to wake up super early, I’m extremely tired in the morning and all day long.  Totally not worth it.  Last Thursday, a co-worker texted me and asked if I was drinking wine…I responded with “No but, should I be?”  Instead, I was drinking camomile tea while reading Runner’s World in bed.  Wild, I know.  29 going on 70 here folks!

While I was browsing Facebook the other day, I came across an article that really put a damper on my weekend wine consumption: alcohol slows down fat-burning and your metabolism!  I knew it wasn’t good to drink if you were trying to lose weight, but I figured it was just because of the sugar/empty calories.  I tried to go back and look for the article so I could link it, but I didn’t have any luck :-/ To sum it up, it basically said that the timing of your drinks after a workout really mattered, but if you wait too long and drink too close to bed time, it can disrupt your sleep.  So what’s a girl to do?  Luckily, I’ve been getting my weekend workouts done first thing in the morning so it’s not too much of an issue.  It also helps that after one glass of wine, I’m feeling pretty good :-)  I am also making more of an effort to switch over to water a few hours before bed.  I hate feeling tired on the weekends.

wine

So what’s on the workout schedule/menu this week?

Sunday: Barre Bee / Beef & Broccoli with brown rice (recipe up this week!)

Monday: Barre Bee + Run 3 mi / Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tuesday: A new to me workout…stay tuned!

Wednesday: Barre Bee + 4 mile run

Thursday: Run 3.5 miles + gym workout with my mom!

Friday: Interval Barre

I didn’t share too many meal ideas for this week, but I went to the store and bought a bunch of random things :-/ So much for meal prep this week.  I have a lot of stuff in my refrigerator and cupboards that I’ve been wanting to use up.  So, dinner’s kind of a toss up this week.  We’ll see what kind of creations I come up with :-)

I’m off to go finish watching the Grammys and later on, GIRLS!   Have a great night!

Meals & Workouts for the Week + a Cardio Playlist

Oh Monday…so nice to see you :-)  To say it’s been a long week and weekend would be an understatement.  A long week followed by a drill weekend is no bueno, but it did end on a high note:

GIRLS

GIRLS is back on TV!  So excited and thrilled to see what’s in store for Season 3.

Last week’s workouts consisted mostly of low-mileage runs and barre classes.  I’m just getting over some kind of sickness and my lungs were just not feeling it.  I didn’t complete a run longer than 4 miles.

This week, I’m feeling better and am starting to train for a 1/2 marathon I have coming up in March.  I’m hoping to get outside today for a run since it’s so nice!  I can’t remember the last run I had outside.

Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

Monday: Strength train plus run 4 miles / Spaghetti with veggies & pasta sauce
Tuesday: Run 3 miles + Abs and lower body / Slow cooker Sweet potato Chili
Wednesday: Barre Bee / leftovers
Thursday: 3 mile run + abs /Meatloaf from Runner’s World Cookbook
Friday: stretching & foam rolling

One of the things that’s been getting me through runs on the treadmill are my playlists that I’ve made on Spotify.  Inspired by some of the music I heard at barre, I decided to make a DIVAS cardio playlist.  It’s pretty much awesome.

Turkey Chili

As I sit here and write this blog post, I’m waiting for two dozen cookies to cool off so that I can throw them away.  cookiefailHashtag cookiefail.  I will be the first to admit, a baker I am not.  If you look at the top of the page and scroll over “Recipes”, you will see very little under the desserts section.  Cookie baking has never been my thing.  Cookie eating on the other hand?  Well, that’s a different story.  It’s probably a blessing that I’m not great at baking cookies.  On Monday, I tried out a new cookie recipe and they turned out fabulously!  And on the first try too!  The only problem with them was, they were a little crumbly.  So this time around I added more butter and, well?  Not so good.  For the next batch I added a little less butter and a tad bit more C4C flour and they’re looking much better.

As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen,  cooking is more of my thing.  The star entree of the week has been the turkey chili that hubs requested for Monday.  It was a definitely a chili kind of day…14 degrees?  That calls for chili.  I was browsing recipes online and either we didn’t have the right kind of peppers or it didn’t sound good to me.  So I decided to “wing it” and see what happens.  Verdict? So good, the recipe is worth sharing :-)  I was successful at something this week!

Turkey Chili
Ingredients

  • 3lbs ground turkey meat
  • 1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp Chili seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 15oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 2 15oz cans kidney beans
  • 2 15 oz cans pinto beans

Directions
Place ground turkey in a stock pot and brown the turkey.  Season it with italian seasoning and chili powder.  Add in the garlic, onion, and peppers.  Stir until soften.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then place on simmer for about 45 minutes.  You can choose to garnish it with cheese and sour cream if you wish.  We tried a little bit of gorgonzola and it was amazing!

turkeychili

I’m off to finish the rest of my cookie baking!  Wish me luck, I’ll be needing it ;-)

Special shout out!  I’d like to thank the peeps over at For Two Fitness for making me a brand ambassador.  I am honored :-) I am a HUGE advocate for exercise, especially when growing a little bambino (IF okayed by your doctor of course!).  I sported their super cute and comfy exercise tops while I was pregnant with Madelyn and will be proud to put back on my “Sweating for Two” when the time is right ;-) Head over to their website and purchase something for that pregnant person you know in your life or for yourself!

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WOAH BELLY!!!!

A Working Mom’s BFF

Hey guys! How’s your week going so far? Last night, I bundled myself up and headed to Barre Bee Fit’s Barre Interval class. My cousin met me there and we had our butts
handed to us. This class had two cardio intervals sandwiched between a strength segment.

I almost died…but in a good way. I love being put through the ringer when it comes to a HIIT workout. Proof of a tough cardio session:

BBF burnSo tonight, for dinner, the chefs of Whole Foods in Milwaukee prepared our meal for us. While I was bopping around WF’s on Sunday after drill, I came across a life-changing dish.  A pre-prepared slow cooker meal for 4.  They had an assortment to choose from.  I ended up going with the Verde Stew.

verde stew

Verdict?  Not too bad.  It wasn’t out of this world, but it was good.  I felt like it was missing something but I couldn’t pinpoint what.  Everyone in our house ate it so I consider it a win.  I think if I go this route next time, I will try another variety.  I love my crockpot and plan on using it more now that it’s freezing cold here.  I have another crockpot meal planned for later this week.  I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to have dinner all ready to eat after you’ve worked a 10 hour day.  I’m gone about 12 hours and when I come home I like to spend as much time with Madelyn as I can, so I don’t like to cook too many “Involved” meals during the week.  We like to keep things simple over here :-)

I’m off to work on a Pinterest IRL project!  Don’t forget to enter the Erin Condren $25 giftcard giveaway!  It ends this Friday!     

5 Things Friday 12/6

The weekend is here!!! Any fun plans? I have some fun fitness things planned, dinner with friends and of course it’s drill weekend!!!

So, I’m jumping on the 5 things Friday bandwagon.  I’ve actually discovered some great new products this way from other bloggers so I thought I’d play along :-) I won’t always feature new to me products…mostly 5 random things I’d like to share with you from my week. Continue reading

Leftover Turkey Soup

Hi guys!  I’m so so grateful that I have Mondays off.  Our weekend was so jam-packed, it was nice to play catch up today-a day full of running errands, working out and cleaning.  This morning, I met up with a friend for a gym date.  I got there a little early and did 30 minutes of light cardio on the elliptical.  She met me afterward and we did a killer lower body workout.  It’s so much better doing resistance training workouts with friends!

Continue reading

Thanksgiving Recipes 2013

Happy Holiday weekend!  Anyone score any great black friday deals?!  This is the first year I partook in the madness that is black Friday/Thanksgiving night shopping and I nearly got run over at Kohls’ for the last Shark steam mop.  On Friday, hubs and I enjoyed a much leisurely shopping experience at Home Depot where we got a great deal on a dishwasher. Ours broke a few months ago and we’ve kind of put it on the back burner until now.  Dishes aren’t too bad in our house since it’s just the two of us and the munchkin, but it’s nice that we will now have options.

This was my second year hosting Thanksgiving, but a first in our new house.  Overall, everything went fairly well.  We had a few misjudgments about the turkey, but having a double oven really helped out with things.  I don’t think I will ever be without one ever again.

With Madelyn being dairy-free, this year posed some new challenges, substitutions and lots of finger crossing.  I wanted her to be able to eat anything on the table.  Our first dairy-free Thanksgiving was a HIT!!  Everyone raved about my sweet potatoes and had some requests for the recipe, so here it is!
sweetpotatocasserole

Dairy Free(gluten free) Soul Sweet Potato Casserole (Serves 15)
Ingredients

  • 8 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups of coconut cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups pecans chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted dairy-free butter (I used Earth’s Balance)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 and place potatoes on baking rack.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.  When the potatoes are finished, place on a big cutting board and let them cool. Once they’re cool, cut all of the sweet potatoes down the center and scrape out the inside.  Place the insides of the sweet potatoes into a very large mixing bowl.  Increase the oven temperature to 400.

Next, add in the sugar, coconut cream, eggs, vanilla and salt.  MASH the mixture up with a potato masher until all ingredients are combined and somewhat lumpy.  Spread the sweet potato mixture into a square or oval baking dish.  In a separate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a fork until thoroughly mixed through.  Sprinkle the crumbly mixture over the top of the potatoes.  Bake it until the top is golden brown, about (45 minutes).

The next dairy-free dish I made was dessert.  Hubs requested a traditional pumpkin pie so I made that with dairy.  But for Madelyn and anyone else who wanted some, I made dairy-free pumpkin pecan pie bars.  They turned out really good, and I will definitely make them again.  I preferred this pumpkin pie filling over the traditional actually and couldn’t even tell that it was dairy-free. Coconut milk and cream is a great substitute for pumpkin desserts.

dfgfpecanpumpkinbars

DF & GF Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares (Serves 12)
Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used C4C)
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can (15oz) pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pecans chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • soy whipped cream

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.  Combine flour, oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar and butter into a small bowl.  With a hand mixer, beat at low speed for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is crumbly.  Take the mixture and press on the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 baking pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

Next, combine the maple syrup, pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice in a larger mixing bowl.  Beat at a medium speed for 2 minutes and pour over crust.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Combine the pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a smaller mixing bowl.  After the 20 minutes is up, sprinkle pecan topping over filling.  Continue to bake for about 20 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Cut into 12 bars and serve with whipped cream.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend and spending quality time with family and friends.  Today, we ventured off to Sprecher Brewery for a tour with Madelyn :-) She did surprisingly well and was a hit amongst our group.  I’m off to watch some Christmas movies on the couch with Larry.  Have a great rest of the weekend!