Recipe: Pineapple Chicken Skewers

A great summer grilling recipe that comes in just over 200 calories per serving and has tons of flavor!

Cut 1lb of raw chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Put it in a reusable bag or container with 1/4 reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 2 tsp. of grated fresh ginger and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I don’t always have ginger on hand so it’s not essential to the recipe. I also usually end up making more than 1 pound of chicken, which is completely fine. Just adjust the amount of sauces (i.e.) 2 pounds of chicken should have 1/2 cup soy sauce and 4 tsp. of sesame oil. Don’t forget to cut a few more vegetables as well.

Cut up 1-2 bell peppers and 1/2 a red onion into kabob size pieces. Take those pieces, your chicken and a can of pineapple chunks and alternate them on to a bamboo skewer until there are two of each of the ingredients on each skewer. (I actually fit three of each ingredient but when you are factoring portion size, calculate 2 skewers with 2 ingredients each for the portion size.) Throw those on the grill and you are good to go.

Each serving is 214 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 carbs and 26 grams of protein. For Ultimate Portion Fix, the container counts are 1/2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 red and 1/2 spoon. You can add some brown rice for 1 yellow if desired.

Happy Grilling!

My Favorite: Breakfast

One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast is also one of the easiest! If you want to be fancy, you can call it a yogurt parfait but basically it’s yogurt, granola and fruit.

Loved the mixed berries this week

I usually use Siggi’s Mixed Berry Yogurt, Kind granola and whatever berries I buy. The only thing missing is some veggies but I usually make it up by adding spinach to my smoothie later.

What is your favorite breakfast?

Recipe – Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This was a fun and easy recipe that really hit it out of the park! The whole family loved them.

SERVES: 24 (1 ball each) Prep Time: 20 min.

1 cup all-natural smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3⁄4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
Hot water
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, 62% cocoa or higher, chopped
2 tsp. extra-virgin organic coconut oil, unrefined

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine peanut butter, cornstarch, coconut flour, and maple syrup in a medium bowl; blend well with a spatula until mixture forms a uniform dough.
  3. Using clean hands, shape dough into twenty-four 1-inch balls; place a toothpick in the center of each ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. Fill small saucepan with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Place a heat-proof mixing bowl over saucepan. Add chocolate and oil. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just melted. Make sure water does not splash into the bowl.
  6. Remove balls from refrigerator. Hold a ball by the toothpick and dip into chocolate, swirling to completely coat. Return to baking sheet. Repeat with each ball. (For any uncoated areas, coat carefully with a spoon dipped into chocolate.)
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until chocolate has hardened.

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

TIPS:
• You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Place morsels and oil in microwave-safe container. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds or until just melted. Do not overcook.
• To prevent the balls from sticking to your hands when you roll them, lightly coat your hands with nonstick cooking spray.

NUTRITIONALINFORMATION(perserving):Calories:134 TotalFat:9g SaturatedFat:4g Cholesterol:0mg Sodium:57mg Carbohydrates:12g Fiber:2g Sugars:8g Protein:4g

Containers: 1 yellow and 1 spoon per serving

I did not chop the chocolate chips, just melted them by stirring frequently over heat. I also recommend a little more than 20 minutes to harden the peanut butter as the toothpicks weren’t in there solid enough to swirl in the chocolate without the help of a spatula. I would also recommend taking the toothpicks out after the chocolate is on and before you put them back in the fridge.

Happy snacking!

Meal Planning – Vacation Style

On Sundays (and sometimes Mondays), I meal plan for the week. This week, my husband and I are on vacation so I will be planning on lunches for him as well but I plan on incorporating leftovers and treats. Stay tuned for some new recipes I’m trying out, including peanut butter cups!

I know a lot of people are intimidated by meal planning but I promise, you don’t need to be. You already do a little bit of meal planning when you buy your groceries, whether or not you mapped it out in advance. It only takes a few minutes to plan out the week. You can get started by planning out the first few days and then expanding to the week from there. You don’t have to cook it all at once and I often switch things around during the week if we have a lot of leftovers or feel like getting takeout one night.

I start my meal plan by writing down different ideas I have for things I want to cook that week. Then, I fit them into a day that makes sense at the time. I also know which meals will give us a lot of leftovers and will skip a night of cooking. I also cook things that work for everyone’s tastes at that time. So where I may eat something over a salad, my Husband may eat that same thing with a wrap or bun.

Since this is a vacation week, I want to make sure we’ve got plenty of food for lunches and snack as well. Since I have extra time because of vacation, I’m going to be cooking every night and saving the leftovers for lunches. It’s also my Husband’s birthday on Friday so we are planning a fantastic night of takeout along with cake and celebration!

Of course, this vacation week is different than years past since we will be at home all week. Normally this week of the summer is spent at the beach but I still meal plan when we are away. We know when we are going to splurge at the breakfast buffet, when we are going to eat away from the hotel (and where) and when we are going to grab a quick something from the beach cafe. Traveling to somewhere you haven’t been before can be a little trickier but you can always have a flexible plan and check out the menu before you dine.

Happy meal planning and have an awesome week!

Let’s Talk Cocktails – Taco Tuesday Edition

I love a margarita as much as the next person but a regular margarita can be 200-300 calories and more than 30 carbs per drink. These are empty calories with no nutritional value and the sugar would probably give you a stomachache!

So what are the options? There’s the famous Skinny Girl margarita, which started by just adding a lot of lime juice to some tequila. This may not be for everyone. Looking at some “light” margarita mixes, most still have at least 200 calories and a high amount of sugar. I basically gave up thinking about margaritas by the pool.

That is until I found the light margarita mix by Master of Mixes. This is a very tasty mix and is actually light! It has 10 calories (yes, 10!) for a 4 ounce pour and only 2 carbs with no added sugars. When I mix mine with an ounce of Casamigos tequila, the entire drink comes in under 80 calories! This is also a great mix for those watching carbs, including people with diabetes.

While you shouldn’t over-indulge, this is a great mix to have a tasty cocktail or two. So enjoy your (healthy) tacos with a great margarita this Taco Tuesday without any extra sugar and without all those empty calories!

My 3-Day Refresh

I have been feeling a little off lately, not sleeping well and bloated, so I decided to do a 3-day refresh. This is a Beachbody program that involves lots of fruit, vegetables, water and fiber over a 3 day period. This is not a cleanse but more of a reset to balance your digestion and hydration. I started mine on Tuesday. So what did it entail?

  • Start each morning with 8-10 oz of filtered water
  • Breakfast: Shakeology blended with water + one serving of fruit
  • Optional morning tea (one hour after breakfast)
  • Fiber Sweep digestive drink (one hour after tea)
  • Lunch: Vanilla shake blended with water + one serving of fruit + one serving of vegetable + one healthy fat
  • Afternoon snack: One vegetable + one healthy fat or raw juice (at least one hour after Lunch)
  • Optional afternoon tea ) one hour after snack)
  • Dinner: Vanilla shake blended with water + Dinner recipe list
  • Optional evening tea

The program provides the list and serving sizes of the fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. It also provides the fiber sweep, vanilla drink and Shakeology along with an instruction book, recipes and a post-refresh maintenance guide.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 6am and drank a large glass of water. Then I had a vanilla vegan Shakeology with mixed berries added to it. Around 8:45 am, I had a glass of green ginger tea. (I found when I have done this in the past, the tea really helps with any hunger pains.) A little after 10am, I drank the Fiber Sweep. For best results, you really need to put this in a shaker cup and make sure it’s mixed thoroughly. Otherwise, it’s thick and clumpy. This is definitely my least favorite part! It has a lemon flavor to it but it’s best to drink it fast. Then around 11:45, I had my lunch of a vanilla drink, one fruit, one vegetable and one healthy fat. I added cinnamon to my vanilla drink (a “free” flavoring” and only a few ice cubes so it was more like a drink and not a shake). For my fruit, I was going to have 1/2 an apple but both red apples were rotten in the middle! Luckily we always have plenty of strawberries and a serving size on the Refresh is 12! Carrots and hummus round out what is actually a decent lunch.

At 2:30 I sautéed some zucchini in avocado oil for the veggie & healthy fat. Dinner was at 5pm and was a nice little veggie stir-fry with another vanilla drink. I kept with the cinnamon since it was so good at lunch. The dinner choices are all plant based and range from different steamed or roasted veggies or various salads. There’s also an option to have vegetable broth with fresh herbs. I wasn’t hungry or wanted anything else so I didn’t have tea in the morning of afternoon.

Days two & three I ate the same breakfast, lunch and dinner but I switched out steamed cauliflower for my afternoon snack with a scoop of nut butter for my healthy fat on Day 2. I didn’t feel hungry at all these days and didn’t have any tea.

Generally, it is recommended that you only do a light workout or none at all over the three days because you are only consuming about 900 calories, but I did my normal 40 minute leg workout on Thursday and I added my Recover drink after my workout. BOD has a 3-day yoga program specific for use during the refresh.

So overall, what did I get out of this? Even during the first day, I could feel the bloat dissipating and by Day 2, my digestion was much better and my bloat was completely gone. Night 2 was the best night sleep I have had in over a month. Overall, I also lost 4 pounds. I also feel like my sweet tooth cravings are diminished. I never felt deprived or overly hungry. It was much easier than the 21-day Ultimate reset that I did back in March! This is something I would be more than happy to do if I ever feel “off-track” again.

Going forward, I am looking forward to having healthy carbs and protein again but I feel this was a good building block to help me get back on track with balanced macros and helped to cure my cravings. If you are interested in trying it out, you can purchase it here.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Courtesy of Carrie Underwood’s book Find Your Path

3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons raw honey
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix oats and chocolate chips together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat peanut butter over low heat in a small sauce pan, stirring occasionally. Once it is runny, remove from heat and stir in the honey. Drizzle over the top of the oats mixture. Sprinkle with the salt (I used less) and mix everything together. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Remove from fridge and form into eighteen 1-inch balls. You can store these in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze them, but they never last more than 2 days in my house before they are devoured!

Nutrition Facts: (per piece) 137 calories, 9 g fat, 10 carbs, 4.6 g protein, 2.3 g fiber, 5 g sugar

When a pandemic gets your nutrition out of wack

Did you start out when the stay-at-home orders came down thinking you were going to learn new skills, cook amazing and healthy meals and get that six-pack you’ve always wanted? I know for me, I was more stressed then ever, working from home and trying to help my daughter with distance learning while running a household and dealing with my husband working longer hours than normal. It was so stressful!

I don’t know about you, but this is my first pandemic so I wasn’t sure what to expect! I think we’ve all had a bit of tears, a bit of boredom, a bit of alcohol and a lot of Uber Eats! OK, probably a lot of alcohol too! What we probably haven’t had as much of is fruits and vegetables!

At a certain point, I decided we had to get back to a little bit of normality. No, we didn’t head to Disney last weekend when they opened and we still haven’t eaten at a restaurant but I am back to meal planning, although it’s a little different than before. Where I would cook 6 chicken breasts in the Instant Pot on Sundays and divvy them up for the week, I am taking meals day by day but I map out what we are going to eat on which days. I also keep lots of vegetables on hand to roast or steam. Our favorites are broccoli, carrots, asparagus and zucchini. I also make a large salad and split it up into small containers. My husband likes to grab one and eat it while dinner is being prepared and I usually eat one as part of my lunch.

Cooking lots of veggies!

I keep my grocery list on my Amazon Echo, so as I see things are needed, I can just say “Alexa, add broccoli to the shopping list” then access the list from my phone while I am at the store. There are also a lot of other grocery list apps you can get on your phone or put it right into your Instacart order as the items come up. Just make sure you have a list so your planned meal doesn’t get derailed and then temptation to eat that frozen pizza overtakes you!

The meal planning sheet, which I purchased from the Pop Flex store, has a grocery list you can write on the side which is easy to tear off and bring with you. The back is also stick so you can put it on the fridge. There are a ton of subscriptions you can buy to help with your meal planning as well. I have used the 131 Method and subscribe to the Monthly Fix on Beachbody, both which layout a weekly meal plan for you along with a shopping list. I also use a macro tracker called LifeSum which has several meal plans you can choose from. I usually don’t follow these meals plans to a tee, but I do pick the meals that I know everyone in the family will like.

This week, I am going to be doing a 3-day refresh to help kick my sugar cravings that have re-emerged since the pandemic started. This does blend well with what my family will eat. I just add a protein to their dinner while I will stick with the veggies. I will link a rundown of the 3-day refresh here for those who are interested.

Another trick is that I plan for leftovers. One of my daughter’s favorite recipes is a homemade Mac & Cheese with flat egg noodles. I put that in the meal plan for Wednesday night and they can eat that Thursday night too since it makes a large pan. I always fill the cooking sheet with veggies to roast as well so we have those for lunches (or even breakfast) and snack for days.

Here’s a peak at my meal plan for this week. It’s a little light because of the 3-day Refresh, which is just a lot of fruits and veggies. The stir-fry is a classic, easy recipe which you can look for on the site soon! You will also see a plan to order from UberEats on Friday, which is a nice way to treat ourselves after a long week. There’s always a healthy way to eat out so stay tuned for tips on that as well.

I always say putting a plan together is half the battle! So happy meal planning and please stay safe and healthy!

My Favorite Cookbook (or 2)

I like to do home workouts using Beachbody on Demand (BOD) fitness programs but what most people don’t know is there is a cooking show in the BOD lineup called Fixate. They also have 2 cookbooks, Fixate and Fixate 2. There are recipes for everything from breakfast, lunch & dinner to snacks, cocktails and even holiday favorites. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there is plenty in there for you and a lot of the recipes are gluten-free, if that is important to you. They even have spice and dressing recipes!

I love these cookbooks not just because they are full of yummy recipes but because they breakdown two measurements that make my life easier: nutritional information, especially carbs, and container counts.

Nutritional information: I cook for two people with Type 1 Diabetes so knowing how many carbs are in foods is essential. Most mainstream cookbooks don’t have this information (love you, Chrissy Teigen!) so I don’t use those books as often. Most “diet” cookbooks have a breakdown but the foods are often boring and bland. All of the Fixate recipes have the nutritional information broken down so if you are counting carbs, calories or macros (more on macros to come), it’s perfect!

Container counts: I can hear you saying what the heck are container counts? Well, you may have heard of a fitness program called 21 Day Fix. This goes hand-in-hand with the Portion Fix way of healthy eating, which is what I follow most days. The containers make it easy not only to measure the portion sizes of what you are eating but to balance your macronutrients. The Fixate cookbooks spell out the container counts and balance for you.

I promise to do a whole post on macronutrients and the containers in the future. Another nice thing about counting macros using the container system is you can Google any recipe and add “Fixate” to it and you will likely come up with a bunch of recipes someone already invented, with the container counts already figured out!

I will be trying out some new recipes as well as sharing some of the family favorites. For now, I will leave you with the donuts we made last weekend. These are only 226 calories per donut with 32 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber! Compare that with a Dunkin Donut which is 360 calories, 41 carbs and 1 gram of fiber. These were super easy to make and so delicious!

If you want to purchase either Fixate or Fixate 2 from Amazon, please use my affiliate links. The containers are also available on Amazon.