Saturday, March 29, 2014

Low-Carb Egg White Muffin

I know I mentioned yesterday that I don't typically eat a large breakfast, but rather enjoy having a little something small, just to get my day started.  With that being said, these little egg white muffins worked out perfectly!

This is definitely a recipe that I've been wanting to try for awhile now, mostly because they seemed like they'd be a great, make ahead, grab and go dish.  So, what finally inspired me to break down and give them a try?  That's easy.  My best friend for the past 29 years, Christina, is visiting us this weekend and I really wanted to make something that was not only healthy, but would also be a breakfast that we could enjoy whenever.

Overall, I'd have to say that it was a success!  These mini muffins are quick, easy, and reheat incredibly well.  I also love the fact that they're only around 60 calories a piece!

Low-Carb Egg White Muffins
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(Makes 12)
8 whites
1 egg
¼ cup fat-free cottage cheese (or less)
¼ cup chopped baby spinach
4 TBSP. chopped onion
¼ cup (or less) chopped green pepper
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 TBSP. Feta cheese
3-5 TBSP. mini ham cubes
2 turkey sausage patties, chopped into pieces
2-4 TBSP. bacon bits
Dash of: chili powder, black pepper, and garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously spray a muffin/cupcake pan with a nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine the egg, and the egg whites and then whisk together until well combined.  Set aside.

Heat a skillet, with about 2-3 tsp. of olive oil, over a medium to high heat.  Next, add in the green peppers and let sauté until they begin to look a little tender.  This should take about 3-5 minutes.  You don’t want to let them cook fully, because you still have other ingredients to add.  After the peppers have cooked some, add in the chopped up onion.  Once the onion appears soft and translucent, add in the spinach leaves and continue to cook until the leaves begin to wilt.

In the bowl with the egg mixture, add in all the remaining ingredients, including the warm veggies.  Whisk, or stir together, until everything is well blended.  Pour the mixture into the muffin tin, filling each well about 1/2 full.  Once ready, I sprinkled on a little extra mozzarella cheese (that’s optional, but delicious)

Next, place the pan into the oven and let bake for 25-30 minutes.  Once complete, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for around 5 minutes.  After that, pop the muffins out of the pan and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Eat. Drink. Love.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Rise and Shine Protein Smoothie

Unless I'm on vacation, or it's a special occasion, I've never been much of a breakfast person; which seems weird, at least to me, because I'm one who absolutely LOVES breakfast foods!  I'd have to say that it's definitely my all-time favorite category of food, which I know I've mentioned before!  So why don't I usually eat it then?  I'm just never really that hungry so early in the morning (I get up at 4:20).  

I don't skip that meal entirely, I do eat, it's just typically something small like a few hard boiled eggs, or lately, when I get home from the gym, it's been something like this delicious protein shake!  Not only does this shake contain a great amount of protein, which I like to have a lot of first thing in the morning, but it also contains lots of good vitamins and minerals to help get me started for the day.

Tip *Please feel free to substitute Orange Juice in place of water, I just like to cut down calories wherever possible.* 

Rise and Shine Protein Smoothie

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup water (or orange juice)
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Almond Breeze)
½ - ¾ banana
½ grapefruit (I ended up just squeezing the juice from the half of the grapefruit, instead of tossing it all in the blender; which ended up giving me more liquid, and no pulp!  It’s up to you.)

(If you want your smoothie a little bit thicker, you could always add in ¼ cup Greek yogurt)

Toss all your ingredients into a blender, or in my case, a Nutribullet, and blend until everything is well combined.

Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Protein Packed Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes (Low Carb)

Can you say YUMMY!!!!

So far, living my healthier lifestyle is going well.  It's been just over a week since I gave up sweets and other unhealthy foods, and I'm feeling great!  Just because I took this step though, doesn't necessarily mean I have to sacrifice the flavors I enjoy, and I definitely proved that while I was experimenting with my basic protein packed pancake recipe.

I just so happened to be purging my pantry this weekend, of some food that I no longer wanted in the house, when I stumbled across a few unopened packages of Sugar Free Jello Cheesecake Pudding.  That's when the idea struck me!  Strawberry cheesecake pancakes!  I just so happened to have some fresh strawberries, which I love, in the refrigerator, and was planning to make protein pancakes for lunch anyway, so why not give it a try?

I'm so glad I did too.  These pancakes turned out absolutely delicious!  Not only that, but they are incredibly healthy and filled with protein, which I love!

Protein Packed Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes

3 egg whites
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Whey Gold French Vanilla Crème)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ - 2 TBSP water
1 tsp. sugar free Jello cheesecake pudding mix
1 tsp. old fashion or instant oats
Fresh strawberries

In a Nutribullet, magic bullet, or something similar; combine all the ingredients until well blended.

Next, heat a skillet, on the stove, over a medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  (I always use Organic Olive Oil Pam)  Pour in some of the batter and let cook.  You will know it’s time to flip the pancakes over once they start to puff up and bubble a little.  Repeat this process until all the batter has been used.

Top with some fresh strawberries and some sugar free maple syrup!  Delicious.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (recipe makes 1 serving):
Calories: 195
Carbs: 8 grams
Protein: 35 grams

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snickerdoodle Protein Shake

A healthy sweet?  Now that's what I call an oxymoron.

I've had it!  This post officially marks a change in my lifestyle.  I've decided that I need to do something different.  I'm like a drug addict; except for the fact that my drug is sugar; which studies have shown can actually be just as addictive as cocaine.  I know that I've blogged about eating healthy, which I do, but if I'm 100% honest, I've caved to my sweets cravings numerous times since the beginning of the year.  This is never a huge deal for me though, because I work out a lot, but I'm finally sick and tired of it.

It's for this reason that I tried giving up sweets (mostly chocolate) for lent, but honestly, that lasted all of 3 or 4 days; which to me is absolutely pathetic!  I personally know that I have more will power than that, but for some reason its been lacking lately and I'm over it.  I've finally come to the realization that I just need to cut out sugar all together.  I can't fool myself any longer and say that I can have only one little bite of something sweet; that's just not true (at least for me).  It'd be like giving a drug addict one little dose of crack and saying that they'll be fine.  It can't be done.  So, to give you an idea about how bad my addiction can sometimes be, let me just say that I can easily eat an entire package of Oreo cookies in one sitting and I'm not even joking.  It's shameful!

In addition to this, the really sad part is that I workout like crazy.  I'm talking 3-4 times a day, for an hour or more.  If I'd just eat clean in addition to exercising, I know I'd show better results.  I seem to go through spurts though.  I've been on and off the bandwagon so many times, (as you can probably tell from previous posts), but this time I'm really going to make it work.

One of the main reasons I'm so dedicated to focusing on nutrition is because back in October, after 9 years of teaching, I finally decided to leave the profession and now I've figured out will be next.  I'm going to become a personal trainer; which I guess is kind of like a teacher, only you don't have to deal with all the politics.  I've been fortunate enough, through my husband's job, to work with personal trainers for the past 3 years and have really been into physical fitness for the past 5-6.  I'm what some might call a fitness fanatic and have lost around a total of 40 pounds; although depending on my food consumption, that number can sometimes change, which is why I'm determined to be healthy in all areas of my life.  

Therefore, I've decided that I need to focus on dedicating my life to practicing what I preach.  I know what sugary and non-healthy foods can do to ones body, especially my own.  It doesn't take long either for all that sugar to change my physical appearance and vice versa.

1 Month Transformation after eating right and exercising
The picture on the left is the beginning of the month, the center photo is the middle of the month, and the right photo is day 30.
You can definitely see the weight loss in the face, arms, legs, hips, and thighs.

I often use this photo as my reminder of what sugar and unhealthy habits do to my body (It was taken last June).  Due to this, I'm currently on day 6 of no sugar or sweets and I'm once again feeling great!  In fact, other than an occasional protein bar (I love Questbars), or a Greek yogurt, I've had no packaged foods.  Day 2 was especially difficult though and here's why: I had little to no energy, ended up crashing in the afternoon, and almost ended up caving, mostly because I knew that something with sugar would give me the temporary rush I needed.  It was difficult, but I'm happy to announce that I stayed strong, making it over the hump and through the withdrawals, and now I plan to continue going.  

Don't ever give up, it's all about determination and willpower!

With that in mind, let's get to today's recipe.  I've been really into making protein shakes lately and not only was this particular one delicious, but it's healthy and is a great energy booster.  Enjoy!  There will definitely be more to come soon!

Snickerdoodle Protein Shake

1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use almond breeze, 40 calories per cup)
¼ cup water
1 tsp. sugar free Vanilla Caramel Coffee Mate Creamer
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6-8 ice cubes
*Optional – 1 tsp. Just Great Stuff (Organic powdered peanut butter; 45 calories a serving, which is 2 TBSP, compared to the traditional 190 calories a serving for 2 TBSP)

Add all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the ice has been pureed.  Pour into a glass and garnish with a little extra cinnamon.  Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Maybe I Will

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cinnamon-Vanilla Protein Packed Pancakes

I feel like I've died and gone to heaven!!!!

One of my all-time favorite foods, has always been, and will always be, pancakes!  I absolutely LOVE pancakes!  So much so, that a friend of mine actually had to pay for my breakfast once because he bet me that there was no way I could eat the huge stack of pancakes that came with my morning meal.  Sadly, he underestimated my love.

My love of pancakes started when I was young.  Growing up I can remember staying the night with my grandparents and in the morning my grandpa would make us all pancakes!  To this day, I still have never had a pancake that even comes close in comparison to his.  They're definitely my all time favorite and I miss them a ton.  Actually, I miss pancakes in general; or at least I did, until yesterday.  You see, once I started really watching what I ate, I kind of decided to give them up.  To me, pancakes just have too many empty carbs. (even though they're delicious).

However, I'm always on the lookout for a lower carb. version and the other day I just so happened to stumble across one that looked interesting; mostly because it contained no flour.  I decided right away to give it a try, and oh my gosh, I am absolutely addicted!  I already plan to make them for lunch again today!  Looking at the recipe, you might think, "how is it possible that it will form pancakes?", but I promise you, it does.

Nutrition:  The recipes makes 1 serving, which equals about 10 pancakes, depending on the size you make them.  Each serving is around 170 calories (depending on your protein powder choice), 34 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs.

I topped mine with a tiny bit of Log Cabin sugar free maple syrup; which only added about another 10 calories.  Absolutely delicious, and very filling!

Cinnamon-Vanilla Protein Packed Pancakes

3 egg whites
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Whey Gold Vanilla Crème)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ - 2 TBSP. water

In a Nutribullet, magic bullet, or something similar, combine all the ingredients.

Heat a skillet, on the stove, over a medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  (I always use Organic Olive Oil Pam)  Pour in some of the batter and let cook.  You will know it’s time to flip them over once the pancakes start to puff up and bubble a little.  Repeat this process until all the batter has been used.


Source: Adapted from Muscle and Fitness Magazine

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Wontons

Happy Mardi Gras and "Fat Tuesday" everyone.  I guess that means it's time to overindulge and then of course, give it all up tomorrow!!!

I like to tell myself that one of these days, I'll go to New Orleans and partake in the festivities.  I've been there once before and had a good time; it just wasn't during Mardi Gras.  I think it'd definitely be fun though, which leads me to today's funny story, or at least it's funny now, but maybe not at the time.....

With it being Mardi Gras, I attempted to make my first traditional 'King Cake', for a party, and believe me when I say that it did not go well.  I usually consider myself a pretty good cook/baker, but for some reason, I  just could not get the pastry dough to rise.  I originally made one cake on Saturday night, but was not satisfied because it did not turn out the way I wanted (it seemed doughy).  Therefore, I tried making 2 more batches on Sunday morning, and neither one of those rose.  I was definitely getting frustrated (poor Jeff), and about to make a 3rd attempt when I figured I should get some new yeast.  Jeff was nice enough to run to the store for me, and then I tried again.  Long story short, I attempted to make a total of 8 King Cakes, and still was not 100% satisfied with the final result.  I've determined that anyone who can make them look pretty is amazing to me.  I apparently am not meant to live in New Orleans and definitely am not meant to make these on a regular basis or ever again.

That's enough of my kitchen failures though, so let's move on to my successes......

With it being "Fat Tuesday" and all, I decided the other night that I wanted to cook something for Jeff using a method I typically avoid, which is deep frying.  So what did I deep fry?  Jalapeno popper wontons to be exact.  This dish is traditionally meant to be more of an appetizer, but seeing that I wasn't going to be having any, it was more than enough for Jeff to eat as a main meal.  In fact, he actually had leftovers to take for lunch.  Mostly because this recipe yields about 30-40 wontons; which he added, were absolutely delicious!


Jalapeno Popper Wontons

Wonton wrappers
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese (I always use 1/3rd less fat)
3 jalapenos, minced (seeds removed)
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Dash of garlic powder (not too much) - optional
Dash of cayenne pepper - optional
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sea Salt, for garnish

In a small to medium bowl and using a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth in texture.  Add in the jalapenos and cheddar cheese (plus garlic powder and cayenne pepper; if you desire) and mix on a low speed until just incorporated.

Lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time, and add about a teaspoon of filling onto the center of each wrapper.  Using your fingers, fold the wrappers over, to form a triangle and smear a little water around the edges to seal the two sides together.

Heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat, until it reaches around 350 degrees.  Fry the wontons in small batches until they turn a nice golden brown.  You may need to flip them over while in the oil, just be careful as you do so.  Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel to remove the excess oil.  Garnish with the sea salt while they are still hot.

Once they have slightly cooled, serve and enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Taste and Tell