Archive | July, 2013

Cajun Chicken Pasta

23 Jul

I have to say, I have had this recipe in my “to make” list for a LONG time… like, a few years. For some reason, I never made it. I guess I was skeptical of the idea of making alfredo sauce for some reason. Tonight, I’m SO glad I made this. It’s a delicious alternative to one of the most prohibitive pasta dishes. I hope you enjoy as much as I did 🙂

Ingredients:

-1 lb chicken breast (I used tenders this time)
– Cajun Seasoning (I used Old Bay)
– 1 box (8 oz) whole wheat fetuccini or linguini
– steamed broccoli (I made 1/2 a bag from the produce section)
– Sautéed peppers, onion (I made red, and yellow peppers, and purple onion)

Sauce Ingredients:

– 6 wedges laughing cow cheese- original swiss, lite
– 1 cup 1% milk
– 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

– 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
– 1 tsp garlic
– 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Season chicken with the desired amount of blackening seasoning (I was generous, I like spicy)

2. Preheat grill or oven for chicken

3. Sautee veggies on stovetop.

4. Start a pan of boiling water for pasta.

5. Mix all ingredients for sauce together in a small sauce pan, and heat on low, stirring often. Cook sauce until all ingredients are blended, melted, and somewhat thickened. About 20 min.

6. In the meantime, when water begins to boil, break noodles in half, and cook until done to your preference.

7. While noodles, veggies, and sauce continue to cook, grill or broil the chicken until done.

8. Steam Broccoli toward end of cooking process.

9. When everything is done, pour drained noodles into large pan or bowl, and pour sauce over noodles. Add Peppers and onions here if you like. Stir all these items together.

10. Portion out into 4 equal portions, and top with sliced chicken. Add broccoli on top, or as a side.

4 Servings= 575 Calories per serving

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Cherry Cobbler- Under 200 Calories

21 Jul

Ingredients
-1 Jar of “no sugar added” Cherry Pie Filling

Crust
– 1/2 cup flower
– 2/3 cup oatmeal
– 1 egg
– 1 tbsp. honey
– 1/2 cup splenda
– 1 tbsp. “no fat” butter spray (like I cant believe it’s not butter spray)

-1 container of Oikos Vanilla greek yogurt for topping, optional (adds 25 cal per serving).

Directions:

1. pour cherry pie filling into a casserole dish (9×9 is too large, I used an oval 8×11).

2. in a separate bowl, mix all the crust ingredients together.

3. spread crust ingredients over top of filling.

4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

5. Top with vanilla greek yogurt. I split one single serve container 4 ways, adding 25 calories per serving.

4 Servings= 194 Calories per serving (without yogurt)

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Caribbean Jerk Chicken Kabobs

20 Jul

Ingredients:

– 1 cup Caribbean Jerk Marinade (I love the Kroger brand)
– 1 Purple Onion, quartered and divided into 8 pieces
– 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes about 1.5 x 1.5 inches
– 1 fresh pineapple, cut into cubes about 1.5 x 1.5 inches

-4 wooden or metal skewers, soaked for about 10 min in water before prepping.

Directions:
1. Place chicken pieces and marinade in a large ziplock back. Marinate at least 30 min. I usually do this about 8 hours.

2. Preheat Grill to Medium heat.

3. Alternate Chicken, Onion, and Pineapple onto skewers.

4. Grill, turning regularly, for about 12 minutes on medium, or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Turn grill up to high, and cook an additional 5 min or so, turning regularly. This allows pineapple to caramelize a bit, and onion and chicken to get a nice char on them.

Serves 4= 205 Calories per serving

*As you can see, I used the “before” pic, but forgot it when actually making the kabobs….*sigh*…. there’s always next time.

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Grilled Pineapple skewers

19 Jul

This is a Delicious Side on a hot summer evening. Goes great with teriyaki chicken, or grilled fish. Serve with vanilla greek yogurt or froyo for a great low cal dessert too! I bet this would be great with some low-fat coconut ice cream…

Ingredients:

– 1 fresh pineapple, sliced into chunks, about 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch
– 2 tablespoons of honey
– 1 tsp Olive Oil
– 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 4 metal or wooden “skewers”

Directions:

1. If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 10 min or so before putting kabobs together. This keeps the ends of the sticks from catching fire during grilling.

2. Preheat grill and set it to medium temp.

3. Mix last 5 ingredients together in a small bowl. mix well to break up cinnamon.

4. String pineapple chunks evenly onto skewers.

5. Brush marinade mixture onto pineapple skewers evenly. If you have some left over, you can re-apply halfway through grilling.

6. Apply non-stick spray or oil to grill surface to avoid sticking (please be careful and don’t spray aerosol spray directly into open flame of your grill. Use a paper towel to appy oil, or remove grill grates to spray with non-stick)

7. Place the skewers onto the grill. Cook over medium for about 5 minutes, turning pretty regularly to avoid burning.

8. After 5-7 minutes, turn heat up to med-high and allow marinade to caramelize under higher temp. Your pineapple should be turning a beautiful shade of caramel brown on all sides. turn frequently to avoid burning.

9. Once you’ve reached the color you’re happy with, remove from the grill, and serve warm.

Goulash

18 Jul

My Grandma and my Mom both made Goulash when I was a child, so I guess it’s probably a “comfort food” for me. It’s hot, hardy, delicious, and a little sweet. Really hits the spot on a fall or winter evening. There are a lot of different types of goulash. Some folks will argue that by “hungarian goulash” terms this isn’t a goulash at all. However, I guess this is “hillbilly goulash” because…this is what we ate in Kentucky when I was a kid, and in my house still today. When I first calculated the calories after coming up with a “slimmed down” recipe, i was excited to see just how calorie friendly it actually can be. Serve with a mixed green salad with lite dressing if you want.

Ingredients:
-1 lb lean beef (i use Laura’s lean, 97% ff)
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1 green bell pepper, chopped
– 1 can of tomato sauce (about 1.5 cups)
– 1 can of diced tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups)
– 1 tsp brown sugar
– 1 tsp (or 3 packets) of splenda (you can use more brown sugar, but I used splenda in the calories)
– 1 tsp paprika
– salt and pepper to taste

– 8 oz of barilla elbow macarroni noodles

Directions:
1. brown beef, onions and peppers together until done. Drain fat. At same time boil noodles al dente.

2. Add noodles to beef, then add all other ingredients.

3. Cook on medium until noodles are soft and flavors are well blended.

4. Divide equal portions into a bowl, and enjoy!

4 Servings= 430 Calories per serving

Note: I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes my Granny would add a can of pineapple tidbits or chunks to this recipe. If you’re feeling a little culinary-adventurous, go ahead…drain a can of pineapple and dump it in there 🙂

What is “Basal Metabolic Rate” and Why Should I Care About It?

17 Jul

What I Recently Learned about BMR and Weight Loss

So, as many of you know, I’ve been on my “weight loss journey” for about 6 months now, and I’ve lost a total of 50 lbs. And, also, many of you know that I use a program called “loseit” to track my daily calorie intake and also my exercise (my fitness pal is similar).
Loseit (and MFP) allows you to enter information about yourself (height, weight, age, etc) as well as a rate at which you’d like to lose weight. (ie anywhere from .5 lbs per week to 2 lbs per week) And in turn, it uses that data to calculate the number of calories you can eat per day, and achieve that weekly weight loss goal.

When I started, I had a LOT of weight to lose. I only consider myself to be “halfway to where I’m going” after 50 lbs. That said, I began my journey with a weight loss goal of 2 lbs per week, and for about 4 months I met that goal religiously. About 4 weeks ago, I noticed that my weight loss had slowed down to about 1 lb per week on average. This didn’t make sense to me since I had been following the same program, the same way, for 6 months. My curious nature led me to do some research so I could better understand what my body needs to resume quicker weight loss.

What is BMR?

BMR Stands for “Basal Metabolic Rate”. Essentially, your BMR indicates how many calories a day your body specifically requires simply in order to exist. It’s the number of calories burned by breathing, circulating blood, blinking, regulating body heat, etc. Simply put, if you were in a coma, and remained motionless for a full day, your BMR would be the # of calories you would burn during that time.

BMR is also the formula programs like “LOSEIT” and “MY FITNESS PAL” use to calculate your daily caloric intake recommendations.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

I assumed, as many do, that I could stay on loseit forever and continue losing 2 lbs per week, as long as I followed the recommended calorie budget. I was wrong. What I learned is that the rate at which your body processes calories changes, based on how big you are, essentially. That being said, when I began my journey, I was very big, and I could afford to have the sort of calorie deficit that causes a 2 lb loss. However, as you get smaller, your body can’t function properly at a deficit that high. Meaning, suddenly I reached a threshold where my body couldn’t sustain a 2 lb loss every week. The smaller you get, the slower you lose.

You need to really pay attention to what your BMR is, and adjust your weekly weight loss goals to match it. Ideally, your daily calorie budget should be about 100 calories above your BMR. (because BMR doesn’t take into account calories burned by doing things like brushing your hair, getting dressed, walking to your car, etc, so you need to allow enough calories to perform those functions).
For example: If you weight 230 lbs, your body can function with a large calorie deficit, and continue to lose at a rate of 2 lbs per week. However, if you weigh 180, a more reasonable goal would be 1 or 1.5 lbs per week.

See, if you don’t adjust your goals to match your MBR, you run the risk of falling into what people refer to as “starvation mode.” This is where you find yourself consuming less calories than your body requires to perform basic functions (breathing, sleeping, regulating temperature, etc) and as a result, your body stops burning the calories you DO eat, because it needs to use them all to keep you breathing. If you consistently eat significantly below your MBR you will see a stop in weight loss, and possibly negative physical side effects (like hair loss, which is one of the first signs of malnutrition). Or, in my case, if the deficit is less significant, you’ll just see a slow or stop in your losses.

How do I really know what Weekly Weight loss Goal/Calorie intake is Right for me?

1. Calculate your actual BMR. You can use this site to help: What’s My BMR?

2. Visit your weight loss program (MFP or Loseit in this case) to see what your daily calorie budget is.

3. If you daily calorie budget is less than your BMR, you need to adjust your “weekly goal” until they are within 100 calories of one another. (ie, I had to drop from 2 lbs/wk to 1.5)

I have to tell you: I wasn’t happy about the idea that I was going to lose more slowly. But, the fact is, that I was only losing 1 lb per week regardless. I came to terms with the idea that losing 1.5 consistently is better than expecting to lose 2 and only losing 1. Plus, at 2 lbs per week, I’d gotten to a daily budget of just over 1300 calories, which just wasn’t sustainable for me. It is AWFUL hard to stay at or below 1300 calories every single day. My new budget is about 1570 Calories, which is much more reasonable. Plus, my body needs those calories, which means, my body needs to slow down and lose at a rate that is appropriate for me NOW… not me 50 lbs ago.

One final thing I’ve learned before I go: you need to LOG YOUR EXERCISE so you know how many additional calories you’ve burned. And you need to EAT THOSE CALORIES so your body has enough calories to fuel that additional activity. If not, you’re just on the treadmill using up calories that were meant to help you breathe, or, keep your hair from falling out….. This will also keep you from losing. Most sources recommend eating about ½ of the calories you earn by exercising.

I know this is long. Thanks for sticking with me. I hope this has been helpful or beneficial to at least one of you out there in cyberspace. I know it’s really hard to adjust to the advice that “if you want to keep losing, you have to increase your calories and accept slower weight loss.” But essentially, that’s what I’ve found. Happy calorie-counting, and best of luck on your own journey!

PS: I’m not a doctor, a dietician, a nurse, a personal trainer, or any other kind of expert. Just a curious lady trying to lose weight who googled some stuff. If you have more questions, have a look around the internet and do some research on BMR.

Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing

10 Jul

Ingredients:

-1 1/4 lbs of chicken breasts (boneless)
-1 box of stovetop stuffing, any flavor
-1/3 cup skim milk
-2/3 cups water
-1 can of 98% fat free cream of mushroom Soup

Directions:
1. place chicken breasts in crockpot.
2. Mix milk and Soup together and pour over soup.
3. Mix stuffing mix and water together in a separate bowl.
4. Spread wet stuffing mixture over top of chicken and soup.
5. Cook on low 6-7 hours.

Note: THIS LOOKS TERRIBLE… it’s not at all pretty to look at. So, consider yourself warned (lol) BUT it tastes great. Just scoop it all out and eat it together with a veggie on the side.

4 Servings= 475 Calories per serving