chicken

Excellent Recipes Celebrating Mardi Gras and Lent!

It is NEVER the wrong time of year to try some new things in the kitchen! Boredom is absolutely one of the number one reasons people fail to stick with healthy habits, so mix things up with some new recipes and take in the spirit of the season!

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is well known as a holiday for binging on heavy foods in preparation for the fast of Lent, but we have some delicious recipes for you to try out that will delight your taste buds AND protect you from regret!

Gumbo

This fantastic Gumbo Recipe combines Shrimp and Chicken with a bunch of veggies and BIG flavor to create a dish you won’t forget!

Jambalaya

What’s the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo you might ask? While Gumbo is more of a stew, Jambalaya is more of a rice-based dish essentially.

This Jambalaya Recipe may just become a year-round staple as it is light and filling at the same time, packs big cajun flavor and that Andouille Sausage is just the icing on the cake so-to-speak!

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday. For many, this is a day of an abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat, along with each Friday during lent.

There are many meals that are complete and tasty that don’t include meat! From a non-religious standpoint, many people choose to practice Meatless Mondays, or just choose one day a week to abstain from meat consumption for health or environmental reasons.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got a Whole-30 Approved, Veggie Power Bowl for you! And best of all, it’s simple:

Roast a pan of vegetables, make a simple sauce (whisk lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, small amount of water and salt), and serve with hard boiled eggs or beans like garbanzo or black beans. Check the recipe here!

Lenten Fridays

Lent has begun for many, and some have a tradition of fish on Friday’s! Another great many of us just need an excuse to incorporate more fish in our diet.

Fish is a great part of a balanced diet with high protein and low fat. Even fatty-fish (like salmon) have huge amounts of beneficial omega-3 fat that helps offset our often high omega-6’s that can come with overconsumption with red-meat. Never tried fish tacos? You’re missing out!

Check out these Mahi-Mahi Blackened Fish Tacos! Going low carb? Skip the tortilla and make it into a bowl with extra cabbage!

While EVERY day may not be a holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t be grateful for every new day and new beginning!

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research, finding happiness and gratefulness in each day literally changes our brain and makes us healthier and happier!

Let’s be grateful for the impending return of Spring, and don’t forget Sunday, March 10th begins Daylight Savings Time! Set your clocks ahead when you go to bed!

It’s time to leap ahead into spring cleaning our mindset, simplifying our lives and homes, and start planning your spring garden!

Simple Tips That Will Change Dieting Forever

Not Sure Where To Begin?

We have all been there. It is time to make a change. You feel like you need to make a major shift in the way you eat. A friend had great success with this or that extreme diet, while someone else you know had terrible results.

There is so much information, and honestly so much BAD information out there with regards to dieting and proper nutrition that sometimes it can be overwhelming. Making drastic changes, cutting, slashing, restricting, etc can lead to a very short-lived diet change for most of us. Try taking it one step at a time and incorporating these basic ideas!

1. Eat Intuitively!

Intuitive Eating is associated with lower body fat and better relationships with food. Eat intuitively by rating your hunger on a scale from 1 (weakness/dizziness has set in) to 10 (you may have to roll me out the door/filled to the point of feeling sick).

Really listening to your body before eating, to determine if you are truly hungry, and while eating slowing down to let your body detect fullness levels, will keep you on the right track with intuitive eating. Try it at your next meal!

2. Think Abundance Instead of Restriction!

Start by adding an additional serving of vegetables to your day. Once that becomes habit, add two servings. When eating intuitively, the vegetables will start to take the place of more calorie dense food choices like starches or junk food!

3. Check Your Portions!

Our friends at Precision Nutrition suggests a palm of protein, a cupped hand of carbohydrates, a fist of vegetables, and a thumb of fat for most. If you are still hungry, add another fist of vegetables. Click the image for a great article on portion control!

Still hungry after intuitively eating? Add a small amount of protein. It will take a number of weeks (maybe even months) to work through and find the amounts and timing that works best for you body, lifestyle, and schedule. There is no one-size fits all in nutrition, but start from a baseline and build from there.

4. Don’t Give Up All Your Favorites!

The IDEA Fitness Journal suggests “Flipping” your ingredients. Instead of that traditional burrito, ask for a burrito bowl which puts all the ingredients of a burrito into a bowl instead of a wrap.

Instead of eating ice cream with fruit on top, try a spoonful of ice cream on top of a bowl of fruit!

Instead of a steak dinner with a side of potato and vegetable, try a salad with sliced steak and cubed potatoes on the side.

(Source: Padgett, Cassandra MS . “Nutrition Hacks Based on Hard Science” IDEA Fitness Journal, January 2019: 46-49. Print)

5. Beware of False “Health Food”!

Be cautious of “Food Halos” – foods high in sugar or artificial ingredients that are packaged to appear healthy and may even be lurking in the “health food” section of the grocery store!

Tuna and chicken salads for instance are often laden with heavy amounts of mayo. Making your own? Try swapping out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.

Think instant oatmeal is a healthy go-to breakfast? Be watchful of high sugar levels! Consider using one pack and adding plain rolled oats, walnuts, and berries to balance out the load…even better, start with plain oats and build your own oatmeal so you are aware of what is going into it!

6. Build Healthy Habits!

The most important thing to remember is that building healthy habits and determining the right path for YOUR body will take time. Determine your priority in nutrition. Where can you make an easy change that will have significant results for your health and wellness?

Is it more water every day? Maybe you drink several sodas per day and just swapping them out with water will yield you incredible benefits!

Need to eat more vegetables? To trim out the excess snacking or late-night eating? Work on ONE habit first and do not move on until it’s mastered. For many, this will take at least a week or two. In some cases, much longer.

It may take more time than you’d like – scratch that, it WILL take longer than you’d like – but in the long run when it’s just part of what you do and you are well on your way to your goal, it will seem like a blink in time.

Take it one step at a time…

Stir Fry: Quick and Easy Healthy Cooking!

Stir Fry is a Chinese technique of cooking in a small amount of oil, over high heat, in a bowl-shaped pan (wok) while being stirred. Stir fry can be a great component of healthy eating since it usually contains lots of veggies and lean protein. The stir fry technique allows veggies to retain their color, crunch, and most importantly nutrients!

Step 1: Choose Your Protein, Seasonings and Veggies

This is the foundation of all stir fry, and a fantastic base for healthy eating! Below you’ll see we’ve got beef, chicken, and even veggie stir fry with chickpeas and snow peas for a protein boost!

Step 2: Prep Your Ingredients

Any given recipe uses about a pound of protein, 1 tablespoon of aromatics, and 4 cups of vegetables. Stir fry comes together quickly, so you need all of your ingredients chopped and ready to go before you begin cooking.
TIP: Consider buying pre-chopped onions, matchstick carrots, etc if you are strapped for time!

Step 3: Make Your Sauce

Sauce…maybe the biggest factor between eating and dining! A basic stir fry sauce would include garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar/honey, stock/water, and cornstarch. Get creative! Just make your own whenever possible because pre-packaged sauce often comes with unsavory ingredients.
TIP: Cook up a huge batch of brown rice when you have extra time and freeze it in storage bags. If you whip together a last minute stir-fry, pull out of the freezer, cut open the bag and microwave covered for about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Time to Stir Fry

Cook your protein for a few minutes alone until browned and set aside (does not have to be cooked through). Add oil, aromatics, then veggies until cooked, but crunchy. Recombine, add sauce and simmer a few minutes. Voila!
TIP: Aromatics are ingredients like garlic, green onions, shallots, ginger that are heated in some sort of fat/oil to release the flavor, cook these by themselves in the oil for 30 seconds to a minute, being careful not to burn them before adding the veggies.

Step 5: Serve and Enjoy!

Add a little culinary flare to your dish with garnishes such as cilantro, green onions, or sesame seeds for flavor and presentation. Enjoy a speedy, flavor packed meal!

Why a Wok??

The shape of the pan and constantly stirring helps make sure things aren’t over-cooked so veggies can retain their crunch and the aromatics don’t burn! When it’s time to add the sauce, push the contents to the side of the pan so they stop cooking on the most intense heat, and pour your sauce in the middle until thickens/boils before mixing it all together!

Recipes for Starters!

Hot Summer, Cold Salads!

Now don’t get us wrong, the grill has a special place in the Summertime rotation, but sometimes you are just too hot to stand over an open flame and what you really need is to cool down!

This week we have a bunch of excellent, COLD salad recipes for you so you can give a major boost to your nutrition this summer, cool down your body, and delight your taste buds!

Vegetable Bean Salad

Try this large batch veggie-loaded cold salad with a sweet, and optionally spicy kick!

Check it out: Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, corn, avocado, cilantro and beans get topped with a dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, raw honey, hot sauce/chilies (to taste), garlic, and salt/pepper. This was a huge family hit! (The proof is in the picture…) It goes great with almost any main protein meal since you now have your vegetable, carb, and fat taken care of!

TIP: Try using unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It is known to have many medicinal properties, including easing GI distress.

Get the full recipe here!

Zoodle Salad

Zucchini + tomatoes + basil + mozzarella balls topped with balsamic vinegar. So simple! Sooo good…Get the recipe here!

TIP: Balsamic vinegar is traditionally made in Italy from unfiltered, unfermented pressed grapes (not fermented alcohol like other vinegars) and aged like wine. The older the vinegar, the sweeter and more syrupy – not to mention more expensive. Beware: a lot of cheap balsamic vinegar is just an imitation, made by adding color to white wine. Look at the label for words like “grape must”, “aged grape must”, “Mosto d’Uva” or “DOC.”

Cold Shrimp Salad

Shrimp is a good source of protein and a nice change of pace. This recipe can be made even quicker with precooked shrimp, then simply toss with a healthy dressing and served over lettuce leaves or as a salad topper/dressing.

Shrimp with celery, red onion, and dill + dressing. We love simple – had you noticed?

The dressing is made with mayo (could also part plain Greek yogurt part Mayo), lemon, and dijon.

TIP: This recipe was tested using 1/4 c Greek yogurt + 1/4 c Mayo, however 1/8 c mayo would likely have been enough.

Click here for the recipe!

Greek Salad

Who doesn’t love the classic taste of cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta? Today’s Greek Salad has a dressing that can be used for any lettuce salad: red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, oregano, and salt/pepper.

TIP: Red wine vinegar, as the name suggests, is made from red wine that is allowed to ferment. It’s one of the more popular vinegars with its sharp taste, making it great for vinaigrettes, salad dressings, and marinades.

Unfamiliar with this classic recipe? Check it out here!

Quinoa Salad

A terrific way to use your garden surplus, create a satisfyingly filling dish, plus get a protein boost from the quinoa!

Quinoa + cucumbers + tomatoes + onion, avocado, feta, and parsley. This cold salad offers a light creamy feel yet light for summer. Serves well with chicken on the side or incorporated right in! Rave reviews from the kids and adults alike!

Get the recipe!

Bonus Tuna Salad

This is one refreshing take on the timeless classic. Red onions, dill pickles and hot sauce pack a serious punch of flavor that make this recipe particularly enjoyable. Try wrapping it up in some romaine lettuce!

Full recipe here!

Hack Your Summer with these Cool Tricks

Are you ready for fun in the sun??

But really, are you ready for all that comes along with that? The beautiful weather lures us out in the heat, but lurking everywhere all Summer long are cold, sugary temptations like ice-cream and popsicles! And spending all that extra time out in the sun is sure to affect your hydration – which as we’ve learned in the past has drastic implications for our health and fitness goals.

But fear not! We have some great tricks you can use this Summer to keep you cool, well hydrated and most importantly satisfied all Summer long without boosting your sugar intake.

Protein-Packed Coconut Popsicles

Few things are more satisfying than an ice cold popsicle on a hot, dry day! Boost your protein and energy with this delicious alternative to popsicles containing all kinds of additives, preservatives etc. It’s super simple!

– Blend 2 Scoops of Bio-Whey with 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
– Pour into popsicle molds and serve frozen

Frozen Grapes

Hands down one of the easiest ways to cool down with a delicious treat is to freeze your grapes! Wash beforehand and pat dry so they don’t all clump together. Put in the freezer and enjoy them straight out of the icebox! Or if you want a slushier texture let them thaw a couple of minutes before eating.

Protein Packed Yogurt

Greek Yogurt is another great way to keep cool, and you can boost the flavor and nutrition by mixing in a scoop of Bio-Whey and 1-2 tsp of water to thin a little. 37 grams of protein come packed into this combo!

Stay Well Hydrated

Like the glue that holds together all of your sound nutrition choices, hydration is essential for ensuring your body is working properly and handling the nutrients you are giving it in an effective way! If the taste of water just doesn’t do it for you, consider flavoring it with some citrus! And if carrying a lemon around with you is not really your thing…maybe try something like True Lemon. True Lemon contains no artificial sweeteners, real fruit flavor, and no preservatives; their new crystallized citrus comes in lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange flavor.

Tired of the ice melting in your water bottle within moments of stepping outside into the hot sun? Fill it half full and freeze your bottle over night lying on it’s side. That way when you fill it up the long, vertical ice cube will keep your water refreshingly cold much longer!

Now, no Summer post would be complete without a suggestion for the grill, so save time and flavor up that boring chicken! Before freezing your chicken, toss in your marinade! As the chicken thaws it will be soaking up the tasty flavors. Try lime juice, soy sauce, and ginger OR a lemon juiced w/ zest, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and salt/pepper.
https://www.noshtastic.com/grilled-paleo-lemon-chicken-thyme/

Ellipse Fitness Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Ingredients
 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 3/4 tsp. dried basil
 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
 1/3 cup reduced sugar ketchup
 1/4 cup raw honey
 Pinch red pepper flakes
Directions
1. Whisk together the garlic, basil, soy sauce, ketchup, and honey.
2. Add the chicken to the crockpot.
3. Pour the sauce over and mix everything together.
4. Cook on low for 4 hours. If at any point the chicken seems to be drying out, add a little chicken broth.
5. For crispy outside, spread onto a baking sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes.
Servings: 8 servings Serving Size: about 2/3 cup Nutritional Info: 177 calories, 3g of fat, 16.6g of carbohydrates, .2g of fiber, 24.6g of protein

Spicy Chicken Wrap from Ellipse

Spicy Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
  • 4 multigrain wraps
  • 2 cups chopped roasted chicken breast
  • 1 cup thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 1 cup sliced green onions (about 7)

Preparation:

1. Combine yogurt and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl.

2. Spread mixture evenly over half of each wrap.

3. Top yogurt mixture evenly with chicken and remaining ingredients.

4. Roll up and secure ends with wooden picks, if desired.  Yield 4 servings (1 wrap)

Nutritional  Information:  Each serving: 289 calories, 10.1g. fat (1.5g saturated), 32g protein, 24g carbs, 10g fiber, 887mg sodium, 65mg cholesterol, 3mg Iron, 63mg Calcium

 

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

For the chicken:
24 Oz. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 Celery stalk
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic
16 Oz. Fat-free Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Hot sauce (i.e. Frank’s Hot Sauce)

For the wraps:
6 Large Lettuce Leaves, Bibb or Iceberg
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Carrots
2 Large Celery Stalks, cut into 2 inch matchsticks

Directions:
In a crock pot, combine chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic and broth (enough to cover your chicken, use water if the can of broth isn’t enough). Cover and cook on high 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from pot, reserve 1/2 cup broth and discard the rest. Shred the chicken with two forks, return to the slow cooker with the 1/2 cup broth and the hot sauce and set to on high for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups chicken.

To prepare lettuce cups, place 1/2 cup buffalo chicken in each leaf, top with 1/4 cup shredded carrots, celery and dressing of your choice. Wrap up and start eating!

Serves: 6
Exchanges: 4 Extra Lean Protein, 1 Vegetable

Chicken Grilling Packets

Chicken Grilling Packets
4 Chicken Breasts
3 Cups of Asparagus, cut in 1″ pieces
1 Large Onion, cut into large pieces
2 Red Peppers, cut into large pieces
2 Green Peppers, cut into large pieces
Salt & Pepper (or Mrs. Dash Seasonings!)

Lay flat two pieces of heavy tin foil and spray lightly with PAM cooking spray. Lay 4 oz. chicken breast on foil and season with salt, pepper, and/or Mrs. Dash Seasoning. Top chicken with vegetables. Fold foil sides together to form a packet. Place on grill and cook until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

SERVES: 4
Exchanges: 4 Extra Lean Protein, 2 Vegetable

Chicken or Turkey Tortilla Soup

 Hi Everyone,

  Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are working towards your fitness, nutrition, and weight loss goals, it is important to remember that today is just ONE meal.  Enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving Day fixings in moderation and then get back on track with your normal eating.  The holidays do not have to get out of control with eating and drinking.  Set yourself a limit and stick with a plan!  Have leftover turkey?  Here is a great recipe to enjoy!

Chicken or Turkey Tortilla Soup

       Non-stick Cooking Spray
4    6-inch Corn Tortillas
2    Tbsp. Olive Oil
3/4 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1    Cup Chopped Onion
1/2 Tsp. Oregano
2    Garlic Cloves, minced
1    Green Bell Pepper, diced
2    14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes w/ jalapeño
4    Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1    Cup Frozen Corn
1    Pound Diced, Cooked Chicken Breasts
1/4 Cup Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Stack the tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips; toss with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, 1/4 tsp. of the cumin and salt.  Place on baking sheet and bake 12 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a soup kettle.  Add remaining cumin and the onion, oregano, garlic and bell pepper.  Cook, stirring about 3 minutes, or until slightly softened.  Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the corn and chicken; simmer 10 minutes.

Ladle into separate dishes, sprinkle with cheddar, and top with tortilla strips.

 Serves:  4
Total Calories: 371   Carb=38g Prot=35g Fat=11g