Winter Wrap-Up + Snowday Cookies

It’s March and winter won’t let go! Yesterday we had ice and snow and today the snow has stayed because it’s so cold. That is not normal this time of year. It seems all I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to stay warm! I’ve been gravitating towards warm, comfort foods and vitamin C packed citrus. (Oh and the snow day prompted me to bake cookies!)

My yoga student brought me some oranges and grapefruits fresh from an organic grove. I’ve been cutting way back on fruit since following my lean meal plan, but I couldn’t not try these. I split the grapefruit in half, sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar on top, and broiled for 3-4 minutes to let the sugar caramelize.

broiled grapefruit

It was so good and juicy! The oranges were like candy and I limited myself to 2 of those.

I’ve also been enjoying healthy bowls of food for simple lunches and dinners. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of this, he likes a knife and fork,  but I love the idea of throwing everything together in a bowl and sprinkling with nutritional yeast. It’s simple and easier to clean up. I start with rice or a grain, then add a protein, and top with cooked veggies. I’ve made this with tempeh and tahini and called it a “Buddha Bowl” 

Buddha Bowl

Lola got a spring haircut a bit too early. She is shaved down to a slick coat and it’s still pretty cold out, but I think she loves it- her energy level is way up and she’s acting like a puppy. She’s been curling up with us on the furniture whenever possible as if she knows how cute she looks.

Peke haircut

The ultimate snowy day activity for me is baking! I have not baked in a long time and yesterday it was so fun to make these chocolate chip/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Recipe:
1/4 stick butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 peanut butter, 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

Mix all wet ingredients, add flour, coconut, chips and oats. Drop on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 375.

They are SO good and I love that there is no white sugar or white flour in them. Check out my other healthy cookie recipe for Tahini Cookies 

Enjoy!

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Sexy Sunday Omelette

What’s not to love about a Sunday morning? The slow awakening, the lingering in bed, staying in pajamas until we feel like it, the breakfasts……Oh the breakfasts are the BEST part of my Sunday morning!

buckwheat waffles

During the week my breakfast is the same every morning: Oatmeal with berries and cinnamon and 5 egg whites with spinach and avocado. I follow my clean-eating meal plan pretty strictly during the week so on Sundays I like to mix it up a little bit and take my time in the kitchen. Cooking in pajamas is sexy, right?

I still want my protein and carbs but every once in awhile I will have a delicious buckwheat waffle or pancakes as a treat. Or maybe even a mimosa if it’s a very special Sunday.

Today I made a lovely, high protein, chicken, spinach, and feta cheese omelette. I started by placing 1 cut up grilled chicken breast in a heated skillet.

grilled chicken

I used 10 eggs, but only 3 yolks. This was for 2 people. Just typing this I realize how much food we put away together. You may not want/need 10…..

eggs

Add about 1 and 1/2 cups baby spinach to chicken and stir over medium heat just until spinach begins to wilt.

spinach chicken omelette

Add egg mixture, black pepper, garlic granules and cover to steam for 5 minutes.

spinach chicken omelette

Add crumbled feta cheese and re-cover. I only used about 1/3 cup. I use cheese very sparingly, if at all. It’s a treat and not something that I need in my daily food intake.

Flip omelette over after edges begin to brown and firm up.

spinach omelette

Cook thoroughly with pan covered until firm and fluffy!

spinach cheese omelette

I served this with sliced white and sweet potatoes browned in coconut oil- YUM!

Comforting Spinach Stuffed Shells

Comfort food is traditionally eaten food (which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it),[1] or simply provides the consumer a familiar meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both. (wikipedia)

Hopefully being with family evokes feelings of nostalgia and comfort. When my sister visited this weekend so we could plan my mom’s upcoming birthday party, I definitely must’ve been craving comfort food. I wanted to cook a big Sunday dinner with no regards to counting calories and watching ingredients. I managed to keep it simple, yet still comforting with these savory, stuffed shells.  This recipe is not complicated but always impressive! Great for leftovers too.

Boil Jumbo Shell Pasta until soft. Not too soggy, but firm. Drain and let cool.

Jumbo Shell Pasta

Prepare sauce by browning meat (I used ground turkey), onion, garlic, tomato sauce, and spices. I added a little red wine and a tiny bit of agave to the sauce.

red sauce

In a large bowl combine 1 container ricotta cheese, 1/2 container cottage cheese, 1 egg, dash of nutmeg, and 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach. Mix well. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and mix well.

ricotta cheese stuffingUsing a small spoon, stuff each shell with cheese filling and set in a large rectangular oiled baking dish.  Line shells closely together, “stuffed” side up.

stuffed shells

Spoon meat sauce over shells evenly.

stuffed shells with meat sauce

Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

stuffed shells

Cheese should be melted and edges beginning to crisp

stuffed shells

3 or 4 shells are a good serving size so this is good for a large group. I don’t eat like this often, but I love cooking this when I get the chance. Vary the ingredients by adding other chopped vegetables to the cheese or make vegetarian by skipping the meat.

spinach stuffed shells

Clean Turkey Chili

It’s cold. Everywhere. The holidays are over and normal activity has returned. Here is a super simple recipe to make for a winter’s night meal that will not get you off track of your clean-eating meal plan. Start it early and let it cook while you go to the gym!

Clean Turkey Chili

Brown 1 lb Extra Lean ground turkey and 1/2 white onion in skillet.

In a slow cooker combine:

1 can no salt kidney beans

1 can no salt crushed tomatoes

1 can no salt tomato sauce

Add browned meat/onion mixture

Stir in:

2 Tbs Chili powder

1 Tbs Cumin

1 Tbs Garlic Granules

Dash red pepper flakes, black pepper

Cook on high 3 hours. To cook longer (for more gym time) set to low.

Serve topped with plain greek yogurt if desired, or spoon over brown rice or quinoa for more complex carbs.

5 Healthy Things I Did Last Year

Last year I explored and discovered a lot of new things. As I was building my practice and yoga teaching, I experimented with many different ways of eating and moving to see what felt best to me and what I most wanted to share with people. I realize that everyone is different, and what works for one, may not work for another. As I tried different things I found the ones that worked for me and I found amazing things that can help others too. Some of these I keep in my life, others I recommend to those in need. Here are some things you can try:

1. I varied my work-outs. I tried new things like High Intensity Interval Training, running, bootcamps, restorative yoga. All kinds of things I thought I would never do. It’s good to switch things up so your body doesn’t get accustomed to the same thing.

Jacobs ladder

2. I added more meat into my diet. I started the year basically a vegetarian, eating meat only occasionally. I was eating mostly plants and a lot of fiber but I wasn’t feeling lean or fitting into my clothes like I wanted. I began eating more meat on a daily basis and upping my protein intake. My energy levels went through the roof and I reduced my body fat by 10%

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

3. I got more sleep. I stopped falling asleep on the couch and instead I took myself to bed early. Sometimes so early I felt ridiculous if anyone found out I was in my pajamas at 7:30pm. But my body responded amazingly and I began waking naturally with the sun and not needing caffeine. I enjoyed my nightly ritual of reading and meditating in bed, falling naturally into a restful 8 hour sleep. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I do pinterest in bed and it totally relaxes me. It’s my digital vision board–  Don’t hate. sleep well

4. I gave up mindless snacking. Just because I cook and bake healthy things with healthy ingredients doesn’t give me a green light to nosh all day. I stopped keeping sweets around my house because I found myself grazing all day and not being hungry enough for real food. This changed the way I fed my body and in turn changed the way my body feels and looks. I have more muscle mass, more energy, and less fat.  Now I enjoy sweets as an occasional treat, not a daily staple.

oatmeal cookies

5. I surrendered to what is. This is a big one and didn’t really happen til the end of the year. I am an ambitious capricorn who loves to push and pursue my goals. I found myself getting very frustrated when things didn’t move as quickly as I’d like them to, or when things just didn’t go the way I thought they should. I finally resolved to let go of control and let things unfold. I became very grateful for what I have, not what I want. I became engrossed in the present circumstances and gave them my full attention. I LET GO when things felt wrong. It feels so much better than holding on.

love stones

What are you going to try this year to get healthier? For more info please visit me at www.CreateWholeHealth.com

It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

I changed my way of eating in October to include more calories from real food. I began eating 5 times a day and include a lean protein, complex carb, and healthy fat in each meal. The results have been phenomenal as I have lowered my body fat from almost 29% to 18%. I’ve written several posts on the topic and shared tips on clean-eating and meal prepping. So……now what? I don’t want to go back to my previous way of eating that gave me lots of fiber but not enough muscle building protein.

It’s time to begin to incorporate my new way of eating into a lifestyle. The good thing is: It already is! I have been shopping, cooking, packing, and eating like this for 11 weeks and it really is my lifestyle now. That’s the secret, you don’t ever go back! And why would I want to? I am enjoying everything I want and indulging once a week in something that wouldn’t be on the plan. Sometimes it’s thai food, or gelato, or maybe a yummy muffin from a favorite coffee shop. And those treats are so much more special now than when I mindlessly indulged.

pumpkin nut muffins

It’s not a diet, it’s not restricting, and there is not end date. It’s a new way of nourishing and feeding myself that works WITH my body, not against it. When people go on a diet and have an end goal, there is always a feeling of great accomplishment, followed by celebration, followed by a lack of commitment, followed by a regression to old behaviors, eventually ending up back in the same place they started. Then the cycle starts all over again with a new and different “miracle” diet.

The next time you are tempted to try the next trendy diet or fast that the media is promoting try this instead:

Eat to fuel your body. Eat when you’re hungry and eat real, whole foods. Stop eating when you’re full. Break up your meals to eat several times a day. Choose home-cooking over restaurants. Eat simple foods without the sauce, butter, or salt.  Begin to make small changes that you can fit into your lifestyle. Remember, there is no time limit, you are trying to change how you eat for life, not 7 weeks.

take care of yourself

If you are interested in exactly what I ate everyday please contact me and I will share more with you, or  you can read more on www.createwholehealth.com

Herb Stuffed Turkey

I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is probably tired of turkey but not me. I’ve eaten so much chicken and fish in the last 8 weeks that my holiday turkey was a welcome change. And I don’t want to wait for a whole year to make a turkey again, why do we do that? It’s such a great source of lean protein with a richer flavor than chicken. Plus I love the fact that I can eat it for about 4 days and it still tastes just as good.

I made a clean version using fresh herbs from my garden and some lemons. Super simple!

1. Wash and remove any extras from the bird including plastic bag with giblets.

2. Pat dry and place in a large baking pan.

3. Stuff bird with a bouquet of fresh herbs, stem first. I used about 10 stalks of rosemary but thyme, oregano, and sage would also be really good.

Herb Stuffed Turkey

4. Place one lemon cut in half inside next to herbs. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over bird and sprinkle skin with garlic, herbs de provence and cracked black pepper.

5. Cover with foil and place in 350 oven for about 3-4 hours depending on size of turkey, mine was 12 lbs. Read the instructions on the packaging for accurate cooking time. I also watched the little pop-up thingy that comes up when it’s done. Remove foil for last 20 minutes to allow skin to brown slightly.

roasted turkey with herbs

The lemon and herbs gave the meat a nice, subtle flavor without overpowering it.

I  found this magic wand of brussell sprouts at TJ’s and roasted them with olive oil after using it to cast a spell  on my chihuahua. But she still barks.

brussel sprouts wand

All in all it was a  relaxed day with very little over-indulgence. I am not as tempted anymore to go crazy over foods that I once thought to be “forbidden”.  It’s amazing how our bodies really want to be treated and fed well and reward us with health, energy, and vitality.

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