Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Lasagna

Bacon. Yes, I said bacon. I've never been a big fan of the stuff, but can appreciate what this salty smoky food can add to the right dish. This one was no exception!

I was pleasantly surprised when I did some nutritional calculations for this dish and found it wasn't terrible. Although you're getting 27g of fat and too much sodium, you will get in some great vitamins (112% of your vitamin A for the day!) and 35% of your calcium for the day - all in one generous just under 500 calorie slice.

I found this recipe on a food blog and made a couple adjustments. Here's my version:

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Goat Cheese
serves 6

6 slices of uncooked bacon
2 cups smashed roasted butternut squash (I actually had roasted and frozen some awhile ago and this was perfect for this dish once defrosted - but you could easily roast it right before as well.)
8 ounces soft goat cheese (not crumbles, but the kind that comes in a roll-shaped package)
1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 TB minced fresh sage, plus 2 sprigs of fresh sage
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 cups marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's chunky marinara 25oz jar)
12 no boil lasagna noodles (or use regular and just soak in hot water first)
2 cups shredded mozzarella (use part skim if you can, I couldnt find any so mine was regular)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Fry the bacon in a nonstick frypan over medium heat until it crisps up. Remove to a plate covered with paper towel, set aside.
  3. Remove leaves from the 2 sprigs of fresh sage and add to the hot bacon drippings after you remove the bacon. Fry for about 45 seconds til they crisp up. Set aside with bacon.
  4. In a bowl combine goat cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, 2 T minced fresh sage, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  5. Prepare a 9x12 casserole dish with nonstick spray and add a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce to the bottom. Put a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce (I fit 4). Spread 1/2 of the squash over the noodles, break up 2 slices of bacon and spread, 1/2 of the goat cheese mixture, 1/3 of the marinara and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Repeat another layer. Then top with a layer of noodles, then sauce and mozzarella.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with bacon bits from last 2 slices of bacon and fried sage. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
492 calories, 27g fat (13.4 saturated), 89.5mg cholesterol, 1151mg sodium, 330.1mg potassium, 38.6g carbs, 5.6g fiber, 8.6g sugars, 26.3g protein

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Farro Roasted Veggie Salad

This is one of those dishes that turns out better than you think it's going to, and Thad gave his stamp of approval, saying it's the first dish with mushrooms that he's really loved (he generally is not a mushroom fan, but these did it for him!). I actually made this for lunch one day this week. What a nice treat to have a freshly cooked new meal for lunch instead of leftovers (don't get me wrong, I LOVE leftover lunches, but variety is nice too!). One of the nice things about Thad working from home is that we got to sit down to enjoy lunch together.

This recipe came from a food blog, I don't even remember whether I saw it on Tastespotting or it was linked from another site - but I'm glad I found it either way!

Farro Roasted Veggie Salad
serves 2

  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked farro
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • fresh thyme leaves from 2 small sprigs
  • baby spinach
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta

  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Toss mushrooms, tomatoes and shallots on baking sheet with 1/2 TB Olive oil, a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and browned. Let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile combine 1/2 cup uncooked farro with 1 1/2 cups water, 1/4 tsp salt in a small pot. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add roasted veggies, balsamic vinegar and thyme to bowl with farro. Add 1/2 TB olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt and several grinds of ground pepper. Toss gently.
  5. Pile a handful of spinach on each plate. Top with a scoop of the mixture and sprinkle with the crumbled feta. Enjoy!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Steak & Spinach Pasta

Some of my favorite flavors all combined in one dish - can I even tell you how excited I am that we have tons of leftovers for at least 1, maybe 2 lunches?! 40 minutes from prep to table too!

This recipe came from a blog I found after searching on Tastespotting, then I added a few things and suddenly it's a new dish. What I really enjoyed is that the spinach just wilts, the feta melts, and the pasta gets a little crunch to it. Here's my version:

Steak & Spinach Pasta
serves 8

1 1lb box of whole grain rotini pasta
1 lb flank steak
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts
6 cups baby spinach
olive oil to drizzle, plus 1/2 TB
8 oz feta cheese
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp Spike Seasoning

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the steak on a baking pan (I use my Pampered Chef bar pan) and surround it with chopped onion.
  2. Cook steak until medium-rare to medium, 8 minutes each side. Remove steak and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly.
  3. Reduce heat to 375.
  4. While steak is cooking, boil pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain.
  5. In a non-stick pain, heat up 1/2 TB olive oil. Toss in mushrooms and cook for about 4 minutes.
  6. Combine the pasta with the steak, onions, artichokes, feta, spinach, mushrooms, and pasta water. Season with thyme, rosemary, Spike Seasoning and salt and pepper. Mix well. 
  7. Spread in a large casserole/baking dish (I had to use two). Drizzle olive oil across the top (about 2 TB). Bake 20 minutes until top is slightly brown.
420 calories, 17.5g fat, 48g cholesterol, 654mg sodium, 361.9mg potassium, 42.1g carbs, 6.4g fiber, 2.2g sugars, 24.5g protein.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Makes Transformation Work

In my quest to understand my yoga practice more, I started reading Thad's copy of Journey Into Power : How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life With Yoga
by Baron Baptiste. As I began Chapter One, "Where Transformation Begins", a sentence jumped out at me that truly defines why my own personal transformation has been successful this time when I had failed so many times in the past.
"We can try all different kinds of techniques to transform ourselves, but unless we address the underlying structure, we are just moving the pieces around."
When talking with people about my weight loss and the general change in my disposition overall (happier, centered), everyone wants to know what I did. In fact just the other morning I was at a Jazzercise class and saw a woman I hadn't seen in a couple months - she commented on how great I looked - and then the questions began, even as the music was starting for class -- What plan did I follow? What am I doing?

They want to find a quick fix, the solution that will finally work for them - their holy grail. If it worked for me, it will work for them, they figure. I always tell them the basics of what I've done - eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods, making exercise a mandatory part of my day that I enjoy, learning what in life truly matters and letting go of the rest - but I also explain that it was a total life change for me. And that's something that's going to be very personal to everyone. I can't tell you what is going on in your personal life, what issues you are working through, what relationships might be causing stress, what is going to really matter for you - because it's individual - and when you find that answer - that's when transformation is going to work and everything else will just fall into place. Truly. Baron just nailed it on the head - when I read that quote, I thought, that's EXACTLY what it is.
"If you only change what you do, all you get are temporary alterations to your actions. Shift your inner viewpoint, though and your world transforms."
When your inner viewpoint changes - there's no stopping it. So, to the lovely well-meaning people who tell me how great I look and they don't see that I need to lose more weight - that's the part that I have a difficult time explaining - my body will become its best version of itself on its own now that I've made these changes in my life. I'm not obsessed about the next 25lbs (even if I am perhaps impatient to get there already!) because I know they will come off. I have no plans to return to my former sedentary, high stress life that included unhealthy foods on a daily basis. It just is not me anymore, and it really is that simple - and so my life has transformed.

So much of this book totally clicked with what I've found to be true, as well as goals I have as I continue to grow.  I look forward to continuing to learn more about myself through my yoga practice and become a better person through it. There are many lessons to realize as a beginner that I struggle with, and I know that they will also help me in my life off the mat. I'll write more soon about some of those lessons and goals to share with you.

Cookbook Challenge - Week 8 - BBQ Pork Chops

I went looking for a quick dinner using what I had at home - and this recipe for BBQ Pork Chops from a cookbook that has been shown no love in my kitchen - The All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide.  The recipe was simple and the results delicious! I will use this recipe again on pork chops or chicken. Thad said it reminded him of bbq from L&L (a Hawaiian bbq chain in California). We were so hungry I forgot to snap a photo!

BBQ Pork Chops
serves 6

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 TB low-sodium soy sauce

Remaining ingredients:
6 (6 ounce) bone in (or boneless) center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Preheat broiler
  2. Prepare sauce and place 1/4 cup of sauce in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. Trim fat from pork. Combine thyme, garlic salt, pepper and sprinkle over pork. Place on broiler pan coated with cooking spray, cook 6 minutes each side, basting with remaining sauce. 
  4. Serve pork chops with reserved 1/4 cup sauce.
244 calories, 11.3g fat, 24.6g protein, 9.9g carbs, .2g fiber, 77mg cholesterol, 1.5mg iron, 649mg sodium, 22mg calcium

I served with steamed green beans and brown rice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Cake

I made this chocolate cake recipe a few weeks ago and we all declared it the best chocolate cake ever. I vowed to make it again for Valentine's Day. This time I even got out the food color and made a pink cake! I will never be the talented cake decorator that my sister in law is, but I was pretty happy with how this turned out and how yummy it was!

We had my parents and my aunt over yesterday for dinner - it's become a Sunday night tradition. This cake combined with Guernsey Ice Cream's Moose Tracks made for a decadent dessert (and perhaps a sugar coma!). I sent them home with the other half of the cake, but I do look forward to the next holiday and making it again!

Best Chocolate Cake EVER
serves 12-16

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk (I use almond milk, but regular would of course be fine)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot, brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. In a large bowl of electric mixer sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder.
  3. Add oil, milk, vanilla, coffee, and eggs. Beat well. Batter will be thin. 
  4. Pour into 2 9-inch round greased and floured pans. (I use a baking spray that has flour in it)
  5. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes or until top springs back when done. Cool on wire rack.
After the cakes cooled, I sliced each layer horizontally to make 4 layers, then wrapped each layer in plastic wrap and stuck in the freezer.

The next day I made the frosting and frosted the cake. This helped reduce the crumbs I had to deal with greatly!

I used Wilton's buttercream icing recipe (doubled it) and added in some pink food coloring for Valentine's Day. I did have some leftover icing, but had I made 1 batch I would not have had enough to frost 4 layers.

Okay, maybe not the healthiest dessert - I don't think the canola oil and almond milk really lend that much healthy-ness to it - but it was delicious for a special treat!

Cookbook Challenge - Week 7 - Tilapia with Fresh Herbs

Since I've been going to yoga class with Thad a few evenings a week and working a few days, I've had to look for recipes that could be prepped in advance or cook quickly. This recipe from Jillian Michaels' The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook  fit both of those requirements (plus I had everything in the house for it!). Only slightly adapted. (plus I only used 3 tilapia instead of 4 and only did 9 mushrooms instead of 12 since I was serving 3, not 4-- but the recipe below is calculated for 4)

Broiled Tilapia with Fresh Herbs, Mushrooms and Tomatoes
serves 4

3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
4 garlic cloves
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
12 baby bella mushrooms
4 (4oz) tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups grape tomatoes

  1. Spray baking sheet with olive oil or canola spray (I use my Pampered Chef large bar pan)
  2. Place basil, parsley, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper in food processor and process until uniformly chopped and well combined.
  3. Remove stems from the mushrooms. (I saved them to throw on a stir fry the next night). Fill each mushroom cap with 1/4 tsp of the herb mixture. Place on baking sheet.
  4. Arrange tilapia on baking sheet and spread herb mixture over them. Flip and spread the remaining mixture, making sure they are completely covered. Scatter the tomatoes around the fish.
  5. NOTE: this is where I got to in the photo. I then covered the sheet in foil and stuck in the fridge so that I could just throw in the oven when I got home from class. 
  6. Arrange rack in oven 6 inches from broiler. Preheat broiler.
  7. Broil until the fish is firm and flakes easily - about 10 minutes. Place 1 tilapia, 3 mushrooms and some tomatoes on each plate and serve. (I added a side of brown rice as well that I had cooked earlier in the day).
237 calories, 13g fat, 25g protein, 6.6g carbs, 132mg sodium (not including brown rice)

I didn't get a photo after it was broiled and plated - we were too hungry and I forgot! It was very flavorful and a nice light dinner to have when it's a late evening. I will definitely make again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's a Mind Game

Oh the mind games we put ourselves through while we're working out!

I've been thinking about this lately (and no, this is not one of the things I was thinking about during Jazzercise or yoga). I've heard friends who are runners say that it's a mind game pushing themselves to keep running moreso than a physical one. I have yoga instructors that start class in child's pose talking us through getting out of our daily lives and onto our mat. I started thinking about - what do I really have going on in my mind when I'm at Jazzercise or when I'm at yoga, or perhaps out walking or on the treadmill? what is motivating me?

I usually start Jazzercise class by getting there early, claiming my favorite spot and doing some stretching. At this point I'm usually thinking about my day and what I have planned, or maybe chatting with one of the other women before class begins. As our first warm up song starts I'm listening to the instructor and the music, but my head isn't yet 'in the game' - still running through my mind is often that to do list for the day. By the second song I'm focused on doing the moves correctly and giving all my energy (after all, it's not worth going if you're going to half-ass your workout, imho). By the 3rd song I'm feeling great and thinking how happy I am that I came to Jazzercise today. As we move into 'heavy' songs, I'm completely focused on what I'm doing - breathing, my energy and effort, getting the steps and moves correctly - basically doing my best! I start to run little challenges in my mind - staying at high impact for the entire song, lifting my leg up higher, holding my tummy in, jumping a little higher, bending a little lower, using heavier weights, etc. At some point during a really tough class when I'm dripping sweat, breathing heavy and running for my water bottle, hoping the next song isn't as hard, I might even sneak a glance at the clock - and then feel instant guilt because I AM enjoying myself and I am doing something good for my body. Usually about that time the next song slows down and I'm happy again. Then somewhere in the middle of a killer leg or ab routine on the floor or on the ball, I start wondering again when the song is going to end, then the next second thankful I came to class and how strong and healthy it makes me feel. What am I striving for? Perfection in some way I suppose. Imitation of the instructor. Perhaps it all stems from dance classes as a child, or my general work ethic that I've approached any task with - to excel and be the best. The best what? The best me, of course, but I admit, it's difficult not to compare yourself to others as a gauge for how well you are doing too and what your progress is. I've just always done that in so many things in life, it's like my mind is trained to do so.

And so we come to my biggest mind game right now. Yoga. It's totally different from Jazzercise. Intellectually I realize that I have to make it all about me and celebrate my own personal progress. Yoga is a very personal thing. I am at class early, stretching, coming into my own mind and place on my mat, blocking out everything else - it's about me. I get that - intellectually. Really, I do. I've read all the 'tips for beginners' or posts on Yoga Journal's website about 'what I wish I realized as a beginner', or commentary on some of the blogs I read. I understand what they are all saying. Thad tells me the same thing - after a class when I'm frustrated, he gets angry with me for being so hard on myself. I just don't know how to convince myself to feel differently is the problem. I'm frustrated I can't do poses it seems everyone else can do - even trying to practice resting on the top of my head to attempt being able to do tripod or a headstand at some point ever frustrates me - I can't even get to crow pose, everything else seems impossible that I'll ever be able to do it. I'm annoyed with myself that I don't seem to have the upper body strength to properly and completely go from high plank to low plank in the essential chatarunga flow - something so simple. I feel like I'm in such good shape right now, maybe even better than high school in some ways - and I get into a yoga class and feel like I've been a couch potato or something. Maybe I just hate being a beginner at anything. I don't always feel comfortable asking for help or  a question because everyone in the power yoga class feels so beyond where I'm at - I don't want to waste their time and I don't want to call attention to myself and what I can't do either. ugh! I still get a lot more out of the power yoga class than when I've gone to a basics class though, but sometimes that means I just feel like I don't belong there. I also realize that others in the class probably do not think that at all. I know it's probably these feelings that are going to make it even harder for me to move forward in yoga, but I just am not sure how to get beyond them. I leave class feeling good, but also often frustrated with myself. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of points in class when I'm feeling pretty great - when my balance is 'on', when I feel myself deeper in a pose, twisting further, taking a chance and trying something, figuring out how a pose is supposed to feel, strong on my mat and enjoying a stretch - those are all great things and make me happy that I'm at yoga. And another wonderful thing - when I'm at yoga, my mind is entirely 'there' and on what I am doing - I'm not thinking about my to do list or how much time is left in class - I'm living in the moment - (I suppose that proves how it's all about the mind-body connection). It's just the frustrating moments and the feelings of inadequacy that seem to be getting in the way and I just don't know how to make myself not feel that way and instead just feel good about what I am progressing with. It's all in my mind. Just not sure how to fix it. ugh.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

A beautiful butternut squash was just sitting on a shelf in my pantry begging to be used for dinner. I saw a recipe recently on a blog for squash enchiladas so decided to create my version of them using mostly what we had at home (I did have to stop and get a jar of salsa verde though). Verdict = Thad told me I could go up against Pilar's (a local Ann Arbor tamale restaurant - she cooks delicious interesting variations of tamales using local organic sources for ingredients). Okay, he might be biased being married to me, but these were pretty awesome, and I'll take the compliment!

Butternut Squash Enchiladas
serves 6

1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil or canola oil
1 medium butternut squash
6 burrito size flour tortillas
1/2 cup chipotle salsa (or I'm sure any salsa would work, but that's what I had 1/2 a jar of in the fridge!)
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar salsa verde
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
6 oz low fat ricotta
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (or mexican cheese)
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds. Spray a baking sheet (I use my Pampered Chef bar pan) with nonstick spray, place squash, cut side down, on sheet and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, let it cool.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet, add onions. Saute for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add minced garlic, stir for about 30 seconds and remove from heat.
  3. Scoop out squash into a large bowl and mash with a fork so that it's smooth (but no need to whisk it to be creamy, just get out any chunks). 
  4. Mix in the onion/garlic mixture, 1/2 cup chipotle salsa, corn, cumin, nutmeg, ricotta, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well.
  5. Prepare a casserole dish with 1/4 cup of salsa verde spread on the bottom.
  6. Warm up tortillas (I microwave for 30 seconds)
  7. Spread 3/4 cup of the mixture onto each tortilla, roll up and place seam down in casserole dish.
  8. Pour the rest of the jar of salsa verde over the top of the tortillas. Using the back of a spoon spread it around to cover evenly. 
  9. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the enchiladas.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or 425 degrees for 15 minutes).
per serving: 326 calories, 9.4g fat, 19mg cholesterol, 821mg salt, 520mg potassium, 51g carbs, 6g fiber, 3g sugar, 12g protein.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Avocado Pesto over Linguine

I took advantage of a great one day sale Friday at Whole Foods on organic avocados - which meant I went searching for a good recipe to use avocados in a new way. I found one on a food blog I follow, "Oh She Glows". As a bonus, it was another chance to try out the food processor. The very best part of this recipe may even be the fact that it took no more than 10 minutes to make - from gathering ingredients to sitting down to eat! It was delicious! This could be served with hot or cold pasta. I adapted it slightly.

Avocado Pesto over Linguine
serves 4

  • 2 avocados
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB fresh shredded parmesan
  • 8oz Al Dente Pasta Egg Linguine (2/3 package)
  1. Bring water to boil in large pot. Add in pasta, cook for 3 minutes. Drain and plate the pasta portions.
  2. In food processor, process the garlic cloves, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Add in the avocado, basil and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. (note: if you don't want the sauce to be thick, you could add in some water to thin it down).
  3. Spoon sauce onto pasta on each plate, grind black pepper and sprinkle 1/2 TB parmesan over each plate.
Due to the nature of avocado - do not reheat, serve immediately.


468 calories, 26g fat, 31mg cholesterol, 351mg sodium, 493mg potassium, 51g carbs, 8.2 fiber, 1.5g sugars, 11g protein.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cookbook Challenge - Week 6 - Walnut Crusted Chicken Breasts

Again this week I'm cooking from my new favorite - Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients.  I had my parents and my aunt over for dinner and served this - it is now their new favorite meal to request (and in fact I'm making it again tonight for them!). It also gave me a chance to try out using a full size food processor. I had a small one for years, used it a few times but found it more trouble than it was worth to get out, assemble, then clean for what it could accomplish, it wasn't saving me any time. The past several months I've been contemplating getting a large one, but I really hated the thought of spending that much money and then maybe not liking it or not using it enough to justify it. I had this conversation with my friend Maddie and she offered to let me borrow her large food processor for awhile so I could test it out. This recipe was the perfect one for it. I only adapted it slightly, so here's my version below:

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breasts
serves 4

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast cutlets - 4-6 ounces each (if you don't have cutlets, pound regular boneless skinless chicken breasts to be a thinner and even thickness)
  • 2 slices whole grain bread (if you don't have any 'day old' bread that has dried out, toast it in a 375 degree oven for a few minutes, turn off the oven and leave the bread in there for 10 minutes - it will dry).
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 TB freshly grated Parmesan
  • coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a food processor bread, walnuts and parmesan, season with salt and pepper. Process until fine breadcrumbs form. Transfer to a shallow bowl or plate. 
  • In another shallow bowl, beat egg white until frothy.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each breast into egg white and then into breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere.
  • In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, 1-3 minutes each side. 
  • If your skillet is ovenproof, put skillet in oven, if not, use a baking sheet (I use my Pampered Chef stoneware bar pan). Bake until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 8-12 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from oven, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the breasts and serve.
note - their recipe used 6-8oz breasts rather than 4-6oz, so these calculations are probably a little high for my recipe as written I also used olive oil where they used grapeseed oil. 
per serving: 331 calories, 1.9g saturated fat, 9.6g unsaturated fat, 101mg cholesterol, 8.5g carbs, 44g protein, 603mg sodium, 1.6g fiber.

I served this dish with another recipe from the book, Farro and Mushroom Dressing. This recipe was also a huge hit and we enjoyed leftovers for a couple days with other meals too! I did substitute baby bellas instead of cremini, I did not use ham, and I substituted low sodium chicken broth for the white wine because I didn't have any.

We also had a salad and roasted asparagus with it as well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Soup Swap Party

I ran across this idea in early January and thought it would be so much fun! This year was the 5th annual National Soup Swap. I decided to host a party this past Sunday and invited everyone local to me to come and bring 6 quart size containers of their soup. There were 7 of us that participated (and my Mom, Aunt and Vern came just for the party!). I made a crockpot full of pulled pork, a broccoli slaw and sweet potato fries for us and my Mom and Aunt brought some melt in your mouth petit fours to share. A great afternoon was had by all and everyone went home with 6 quarts of homemade soup to fill their freezer with!

My Mom serving up petit fours

Cousins - Katie, Mary & Kelly
Here's some of the soup recipes:

January - a month of Struggle!

I never planned that January would end up being a month of struggle for me for weight loss and exercise, but it ended up that way.

I had such great intentions as the year began - I made it to Jazzercise every day until I pulled my calf muscle and was waylaid by it for several weeks. Last week I made it back to class 3 times and this week I have already gone twice (although today is cancelled due to snow). My calf feels back to normal, thankfully. It was very frustrating to deal with the injury, but I am thankful it was not worse. The silver lining in all of this is that I've begun going to yoga regularly, am really enjoying it and already see improvements in my practice. I've also gotten on the treadmill at home a few times to walk and do some running intervals to get some extra cardio in. So, overall on the exercise front in January - not too bad considering.

At the same time this month, there seemed to be a lot of celebrations and more meals out than usual. New Years, then my Mom's birthday, Vern's birthday, a night out with friends, a delicious dinner at other friends', a soup swap party at my house - all added up to more indulgences than I'd planned for January. I know, you have to live a little, right? :) I'm not beating myself up about it --I also ate very healthy other days. However, it does add up.

It all added up to a weight loss of 6.2lbs for the month - which I realize doesn't sound bad at all - except that I was up and down within about 5 lbs over the holidays as it was, so it's only 6.6 lbs down from the middle of November - and that's what's frustrating for me right now after having averaged a loss of 10lbs/month for most of 2010.

At the same time, I knew (in my mind) that as I got closer to my 'goal', my weight loss would likely slow down a bit, but that doesn't change how I feel about it. So, here's to a better February!

Steel Cut Oats

I've been 'meaning' to try these for many months now - well I finally did this week and I love them! 12 minutes cooking on the stove and you have a yummy bowl of oats ready to top with more yumminess. Steel Cut Oats are very nutritious - they are low on the glycemic index, high in soluble fiber (8g/serving) and protein (6g/serving). (I bought Arrowhead Mills Organic Steel Cut Oats) Many of the food blogs I read regularly feature some delicious bowls of oatmeal they make, so I was well inspired. Today it was a TB natural peanut butter, 10 raisins, 1/3 banana and a drizzle of honey. The other day it was a TB of plain greek yogurt, a handful of blueberries and a drizzle of honey. Another day I used sunflower seed butter and banana. I also plan to add some chia seeds, ground flaxseed, almond butter, or walnuts. The possibilities are endless and what a great way to get a nutrition boost in the morning.

Here's a great breakdown of the different terms for oats that I saw today on Tastespotting.