Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rice Rice Baby!

Hey y'all! Next time I post it will already be February so time is moving quickly as usual. I have managed to stay away from the scale and even though I'm curious, I think it's a positive thing that I have strayed. I still plan to weigh in on Valentine's Day so I'm hoping my hard work during the week and slightly less hard work on the weekend will have payed off in the numbers but if not, I'll try to hold it together mentally.

I'm going to be talking about cauliflower rice and a slightly weird recipe below so if you can't stomach cauliflower, feel free to skip. I will say, if you think you hate it but you've never tried it, at least give it a shot in a burrito bowl or something with flavor. You may not hate it. Anyway, before I get started on the cauliflower, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Carina for recommending the Lemon Cake flavor of Halo Top. Not only is it on of the least caloric flavors, it has the most similar, creamy taste to ice cream. I really enjoyed this one! I probably wouldn't have tried it without the recommendation. My freezer looks like the ice cream pint section on the freezer aisle at Target.

Ok, so the first picture is of a massive burrito bowl I made with cauliflower rice. It's nothing I haven't made before but this night I was ravenous and I got to eat this huge bowl for around 5 or 600 calories. It's got the pre-made cauliflower rice, lean beef with taco seasoning, salsa, guacamole, olives, a tiny bit of sour cream and cheese for the top and 2 crushed tortilla chips. I also sprinkles some chives on there to be fancy. Y'all. It was so good.

One other recipe that I made last week involving cauliflower rice horrified Ian to his core. He hates fish, cauliflower, olives and mushrooms so when I told him what I had for lunch he lost color in his face and only managed to get out a meagre, "Ew." I got some Alaskan Cod on sale at Fresh Market and prepared it by seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then I coated it in a mixture of jarred Alfredo and chopped peanuts. I added it to a non-stick skillet and cooked a few minutes on each side. To go with it, I heated up some cauliflower rice, which was already flavored with Italian Cheese (I didn't see that on the bag when I bought it). In a small bowl, I combined jarred Alfredo, grate parmesan, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mushrooms and Greek olives. When it was all combined, I mixed it with the cooked cauliflower and then heated that up in the microwave for about a minute. Look, I'm not obsessed with jarred Alfredo or anything but it was leftover in my fridge and it's only 35 calories for a couple tablespoons. It adds a creaminess to the cauliflower so it had a mushroom risotto vibe to it. I served it with a big pile of fish on top and again had a huge lunch for between 6 and 700 calories. The kitchen smelled like cod for awhile but it was worth it. I used that same recipe for cauliflower rice to go with my steak last night. Look at how much I could have without feeling guilty! Plus, a healthy side meant I got to have a New York Strip. I'll take that trade off anytime.

I promise I won't talk about cauliflower rice again next week but when I say it is worth a try, I mean it. It's not just me convincing myself a diet product is good. You need to add flavor but once you do, there aren't many limits to what you can do.

Have a good week y'all!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Day in the Life when I'm Doing it Right

One day it's Christmas and then POOF, we are over half way to February. I am guilty of wishing time away but noticing how quickly it goes, it makes me want to change that and not just go through the motions of life. It can be hard sometimes. Now that I'm back in school, I'm looking to quick food solutions so I admit that sharing products with you today rather than a recipe is simply because I haven't made the time to cook. I will make sure to change that for next week. Even though I would rather show you a fully home-cooked meal where I meticulously weigh protein, measure ingredients and count calories, I have to say, I have been eating pretty well with shortcuts. In fact, I dare say I've been a picture of calorie maintaining perfection so far this week. The end of last week and the weekend weren't too shabby either. I finally weighed on Friday the 13th and found out I gained around 6 pounds over the holidays. It's not lost on me that I waited two weeks into the new year to weigh which means I probably gained more than that but who's counting, right? In terms of healthy eating, I've got a positive attitude right now. I've decided to weigh monthly so as not to get obsessed. That means on Valentine's Day morning, I will hopefully see some fruits of my labor but I'm trying not to hope for too much. My goal is to lose 5 pounds this month and I think that is manageable. I'm all about small goals. If it's more, great but if it's not, I need to keep going. I already feel better and I plan ahead so I don't let myself feel deprived. I know how fickle a mindset can be so I'm rolling with my dedication and positivity right now. We shall see how it goes. It is a new year after all.

I wanted to first show you something my Mom gave me. Breakfast on the run is a real thing and it's helpful to have frozen alternatives to turn to. Yes, an ideal breakfast would include freshly made eggs or a warm bowl of homemade oats but sometimes, you have to shove something in the microwave while simultaneously trying to put pants on. Jimmy Dean makes some nice sandwiches but they also make a Farmer's Recipe Egg White Omelet. My mom got these at Sam's and at 180 calories, they are awesome! I made one piece of low cal toast and plopped this guy right on top. It took almost no work and as my mom pointed out, cheese normally gets lost in a frozen breakfast but that is not the case with these. There's a sizable slab of cheese and the rest of it tastes good too. I highly recommend them.

So, I finally got my hands on Halo Top Ice Cream. I have heard about it for months. Tuscaloosa finally got some in and didn't sell out before I got to them. If I'm correct, I think the only places they are available in T-Town are Manna Grocery and Cravings. I bought three pints and I'm ashamed to say my total for those 3 was over $24! I couldn't believe I forked over my credit card for that because that is outrageously expensive but if it tastes like ice cream and doesn't have a ton of calories, it's worth it, right? At this time, I've only had the birthday cake and the strawberry. The strawberry was OK but for some reason, I got a medicinal taste from it. The birthday cake had awesome flavor and while it has a weird texture, it does have a creamy mouthfeel (which makes me giggle to type). The best part is that giant bowl of ice cream in the picture is only 140 calories. Does it taste like Ben & Jerry's? HECK NO. Is it a good alternative? Yes. I know sweeteners are the devil and what not but this ice cream is packed with protein and oddly, SUPER filling. I was stuffed after I ate it and if you know me, that is absurd. The only caveat is that it tore my stomach up. I'll spare you the details. This isn't a miracle ice cream but it's one I want around I think...especially if I ever just want to eat ice cream from the pint.

It would be crappy if I didn't give Ian a shout out for being the master of dinner making lately. I have weird hours this semester. I work at home starting around 9 or 10 am and then I have all afternoon classes. I go to class and then workout which means I get home RAVENOUS around 7. He has dinner ready for me every night. Ian doesn't do a lot of cooking but finds it easy to grill or bake a protein and then pop side dishes in the microwave. Fine by me, especially if I don't have to do anything but eat. One thing I've been chowing down on is Birdseye Ranch Flavored Broccoli. The buffalo cauliflower was a bust but the ranch broccoli has a nice tang to it. The whole bag is 150 calories and goes well with anything. In the first picture, Ian made Chicken Venezia (which is stuffed with spinach, ricotta and parmesan) that we bought for $3 a piece at Fresh Market. All he had to do was bake it in the oven around 30 minutes. He served that chicken with the broccoli (he had mac and cheese) and the individual crinkle fries from Ore-Ida. Then, I sacrificed carbs one night to have a giant New York Strip (purchased on sale at Fresh Market for $6.99) and the broccoli went well with that. It takes about five minutes to have a veggie with flavor to just pile on your plate. I like that kind of convenience.

Finally, I bought some French Onion Helluva Good Dip the other day. Ian is always eating mounds of chips and ranch dip and I get jealous. I noticed this stuff was only 50 calories for two tablespoons and I've found it quite versatile. I cut up a cucumber and used it to dip in the French Onion Glory. I've also been adding it to my Everything Bagel toast as a side dish for soup. FYI, that soup in the bowl is Panera brand chicken tortilla and it's filling and DELICIOUS!

The point is, there isn't always time to cook an elaborate meal and that's OK. Processed foods aren't ideal but more and more, companies are making frozen or pre-packaged health foods that save you a ton of time. I hope you all have an awesome week and I'll be back next time!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hodge Podge

Hey y'all! It's my first day of school so I kind of cheated today and didn't really make a "recipe" exactly but I have a random smattering of food that has been in my life the past week. Alabama lost and I'm sure I will walk into the classroom today and see a sea of sad faces as Alabama doesn't lose much and students are rarely excited about the first day of school. I haven't weighed in several weeks so on Friday, I will see what the scale says and then make a small goal for myself. Things are going well in the diet world so far this week so I hope to keep up the momentum and detox from the holidays and Ian's 30th birthday, which I think he enjoyed.

First, I wanted to share the last Blue Apron meal from the batch we had at the beginning of the month. Y'all I don't mind a few pieces of kale in a soup but I just can't find a way to enjoy eating it. Maybe it's me but when I make it as a side, it's chewy. It's not so much the taste but the fact that I chew until my teeth hurt and the stuff doesn't break down. The other part of the meal was good. Oven baked chips and steak that was covered with a mustard, peppercorn sauce. All of that was super tasty. I think we are getting one in a few weeks so if we do, I will share what we have.

I also wanted to give out a big warning in regards to frozen "buffalo" flavored cauliflower. I could have guessed that it wasn't going to be good but now I can confirm it. I think you're much better off making a buffalo cauliflower recipe at home. This stuff was basically inedible and tasted a little like vomit. BIG THUMBS DOWN.

I have a thumb ALMOST up for miracle "rice." I've done a lot of bashing Shirtaki "miracle" noodles. It's definitely a texture thing. I have to say though that the rice isn't awful. These little gelatinous balls have to be soaked in cold water, then get a bath in boiling water a couple minutes and THEN finished off in a dry skillet before they get rid of their stank but I made a burrito bowl with them last night and with all of the flavors, it wasn't so bad. I think I would still prefer cauliflower rice but I had them in the pantry and with the whole bag being zero calories, it worked pretty well in the burrito bowl.

Finally, I find myself singing the praises of Fresh Market again. And, PSA, I'm going Saturday so I can get steak, Wild Alaskan Cod, Tuna Steaks, Bone-In Pork Chops and oranges on sale and pretty excited about it. Last time I was there, I picked up some of their soup. Soup isn't always ideal because of the high sodium counts but it's great for when I need a quick lunch. I ate the whole thing (even though calorie counters should beware, there's two servings in a cup), added exactly 4 teaspoons of grated parmesan (because that's where I'm at right now) and served it with a side of low cal toast with two pieces of thinly sliced cheese that I broiled on top. My belly is full and all of that was 468 calories. I also bought their chicken noodle that I'm looking forward to trying.

I did a little decorating for Valentine's Day so my house is decorated with more cheesy hearts than usual. Tis the season.

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Breadless McMuffin

Welcome to 2017, y'all! I truly hope this is our best year yet. This year I have big plans and personal goals that I have decided WILL happen. My positive attitude waivers from day to day depending on the weather and how much sleep I've had. I'm feeling good about things today though. School starts back next week and I have done some changes to my syllabus and I'm excited about trying new things and becoming a better teacher. I'm grateful it's starting back because too much time off makes me crazy. I get up every day and do at least 2-3 hours of writing or preparing for school to stay sharp and not watch Food Network for 12 hours. In terms of weight, I was planning on weighing NYE but decided it would more than likely make me depressed and I'm not letting numbers do that anymore. I am giving myself some time to let my body recover from the holidays and then see where I'm at on January 13th. I've done pretty well this week so far. I'm taking things slowly. I'm healthy so there's no rush. As I always say, one day at a time.

I want to give a quick birthday shout out to my dog Major, who turned 7 on Monday and my main squeeze Ian who will be celebrating the big 3-0 on Sunday! Yes, I'm robbing the cradle by a couple years. I hope he has a great weekend. I have some surprises in store so I think he will!

This morning I went old school and made a low-carb breakfast that is super easy, filling and tasty. I've made similar meals before but using ham at the base is a little different and it's one that I like. All you do is pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, grab a muffin tin, spray 4 spots with non-stick cooking spray, add a piece of deli ham to the bottom, and add a small piece of cheese on top of that (I used smoked white cheddar but you could go with something else). You are essentially making a little cup. In a bowl, whisk two eggs, add a little water to make it stretch further, add some chopped green onion and chopped spinach. You could use any veggie you want (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc.). Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Take the egg mixture and pour it into each cup. Pop it in the oven around 15 minutes and that's it! I had 4 of these bad boys for around 300 calories. It's got lots of protein and "they" say that is key to a healthy breakfast to start your day.

We've also made two blue apron meals this week and a Little Big Meal from Fresh Market. If you haven't explored the Little Big Meal from Fresh Market, give it a try. I sing the praises of Fresh Market all the time but I don't do all my shopping there. I only do the sale stuff. The first picture, which is the result of the Little Big Meal is a steak salad. For $20, I got a pound of fresh steak strips, a huge thing of mixed greens, a container of shaved parmesan, a salad veggie pack (broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes), 8 sourdough rolls and 8 strawberry strudels. I mean, it doesn't get much better than that. The second picture is Blue Apron's sesame chicken. I'm glad the serving was smaller than usual on this because I could have eaten three times the amount that I did. The third and final picture is Blue Apron's creamy fennel pasta. It was garnished with ricotta, garlic bread crumbs and green olives. We have one dish left this month but those two were super tasty. I like when all the ingredients for a meal are handed to me. I can only afford Blue Apron once every couple months though.

My Dad called me randomly on the 30th and asked me if I wanted to go to Bama's playoff game against Washington in Atlanta on NYE. I said yes and so we went on an impromptu trip. I'm so glad we did! It was a long day. We left around 7 and then drove back after the game. I was home in time to go out and party with friends in Tuscaloosa. The atmosphere was awesome and Alabama won! I'm really grateful my Dad, brother and I got to experience it. Alabama plays Clemson AGAIN on Monday 1/9 for another National Championship.

Roll Tide!

Have a great week!

Until next time...