Monday, September 3, 2012

Healthy Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash!

Healthy Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash

I am sorry that I haven't had a post in a while. I went camping and have been really busy getting everything ready for going back to school later this month! It has definitely been interesting, and I am a little nervous but excited to see how my healthy eating habits will follow me into this next quarter of nursing school. Any help and/or tips in this department would be much appreciated!

Anyways, onto this fabulous staple in my meal plan. I have recently been making at least one spaghetti squash a week and using it for meals throughout the week. Spaghetti squash is a fabulous replacement for any pasta recipe! Some people like to add whole grain pasta to off set the squash but I find that it is perfect all by itself and you can save yourself so many calories by simply leaving pasta out all together! And I promise you won't even miss it!

What you will need:

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 can Light Ragu Pasta Sauce (Or other pasta sauce with 60 calories per 1/2 cup serving)
1 stick light mozzarella cheese
1 lightly breaded chicken breast frozen (I recently bought these from Schwann's and they are amazing and only 150 calories each. For those that need a good grocery find for this I would pick Perdue Lightly Breaded Chicken Breasts.)
Optional sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (I used the kind by Kraft)

I know I usually take a picture of all the ingredients, but I totally forgot to this time! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below...

First off, preparing the squash! (this is just a plain picture of spaghetti squash I found on Google)

I usually make the spaghetti squash before hand since it takes an hour for it to cook in the oven. I know that many people know how to make a spaghetti squash since it seems to be pretty popular at the moment. However, I just learned the easiest way to cook it and that is to preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then use a fork or other pointy kitchen object (I used a corn on the cob holder) to poke holes throughout the entire squash. Then put the squash in a baking pan with some water on the bottom. After that wrap the whole squash pan with tin foil and place in the oven, let it bake in there for an hour. Once it is done baking take it out and let the squash cool off a bit, then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and use a fork to scrape in the sides of the squash. The end results are strands of squash that look almost identical to cut up spaghetti pasta!

Okay so now the squash is done and you have your "pasta" part of this dish out of the way.

The next thing you will need to do is preheat the oven to cook your chicken. The chicken I used needed to be cooked at 400 degrees for about 22 minutes.

While the chicken is baking in the oven, prepare your cheese. I do this by grating the mozzarella cheese stick so I can sprinkle it over the entire recipe when I am done.

Once all of your ingredients are cooked and ready to be devoured, place the squash in a circle in the middle of the plate. Lay the chicken on top of the bed of squash, add a 1/2 cup serving of pasta sauce over the chicken and squash. Then sprinkle the grated cheese over the entire thing.

I wanted my cheese to be gooey so I put it in the microwave for a few seconds to let the cheese melt. I also added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. And let me tell you it was delicious! It felt like I was eating a chicken parm dish from a restaurant! I have made this every week since. I highly recommend if you haven't  had spaghetti squash yet you make some as soon as possible. It is good for you and low in calories and is a great pasta replacement!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Healthy & Low Calorie PB & J

Healthy Plus Low Calorie PB & J 

I know that I can't be the only person out there who loves a good peanut butter & jelly sandwich! However, if you're trying to watch the calories you are taking in, it can be hard to eat a reasonable PB & J without breaking the calorie budget! However, I have found a perfect lower calorie version of this favorite sandwich and I am going to share what I use with you all.

First off, I use a lower calorie Peanut Butter alternative. I know some people use PB2, however, I bought some of that and it just did not taste right to me personally. Instead, I use a product called Better' N Peanut Butter Spread. It has 100 calories per two tablespoons servings. This works for me because I typically only use one tablespoon on sandwiches (I weigh out the exact grams on my kitchen scale to be absolutely sure).

Then I pick out a lighter bread option, typically one that has 45-50 calories per slice. I have just bought some Franz light 100% whole wheat bread which was really good. I will probably stick to this one from now one the bread was soft how I like it. (:

And of course I used my low sugar homemade strawberry jam that I had just made that is 20 calories a tablespoon. So all in all this sandwich had right around 170 calories. 100 calories for two slices of bread. 50 calories for 1 tablespoon of Better'N Peanut Butter Spread, and 20 calories for 1 tablespoon of low sugar jam. 

To make it a healthy lunch, I usually add something to it. Maybe fresh fruit, small salad, yogurt, etc. On this particular day I added one serving of Pop Chips. (: 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Low Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam (:

Low Sugar Homemade Strawberry Jam: 

The first thing that I want to say in this post is that I did not come up with the recipe on my own. It is a recipe that I got off these cute freezer cups from Ball's Canning Supplies. Once I seen the recipe I knew I had to try it, the fact that it has only 1 cup of sugar in it compared to the 4-6 cups of sugar in most jam recipes really made me curious! And all I have to say is wow, this stuff tasted amazing. It tastes a lot more like the delicious fresh fruit that you put in the jam, rather than tons of sugary strawberries. And for those of us trying to cut back on calories a little, you can't go wrong with fresh, homemade low-sugar jam. (:

Above is the recipe, I did do some slight modifications which I will explain in a minute. However, I also liked the option they gave of using Splenda or Stevia for a sugar-free option for those who need it or to make it even less calories! I opted to use one cup of sugar, and using that made the recipe come out to be right around 40 calories for 2 tablespoons of jam, not bad and it matches up to most Low Sugar Jams that are sold in supermarkets without all the added preservatives. 

So let's get started...

What you will need:

2-1/2 cups crushed Fresh Strawberries (I got mine from the local Farmer's Market)
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
3 Tbsp Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin

First thing to do in the jam making process is, of course, mash those strawberries! 

I usually mash up about a cup of strawberries at a time, and then I measure with a liquid measuring cup. Once you've mashed up enough for the called for 2 & 1/2 cups crushed strawberries you put that aside. I then put the remaining mashed up strawberries in an airtight container in the fridge to use as a topping for my yogurt, as I told you guys a couple days ago. 

Now that you have the strawberries add in the one cup of leveled granulated white sugar, stir it in very well. Here is where some deviation from the recipe comes in, at this point I place the mixture into the microwave and microwave it for 2 minutes. This helps to dissolve some of the sugar so that it does not have a grainy taste. Once it is done in the microwave take it out and stir some more. Finally add the 3 tablespoons of Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin and stir for 3-4 minutes. 

Then ladle the mixture into three 8 oz (1/2 pint) freezer friendly jars. This recipe makes exactly three. Place the lids on the jars very tightly and then let stand for 30 minutes to one hour. This allows the jam to set up and thicken, once it has done this you can place one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. Don't forget to label the jam with the month and year it was made! 

Later on in the day I tried out my homemade jam (1/2 Tbsp which is around 10 calories, since 1 Tbsp has around 20 calories) on 1/2 thin bun (w/ 50 calories) along with my daily smoothie. It was a perfect snack with only 60 calories! And what can I say, it was amazingly delicious! I am so happy that I did this recipe and it will become a staple in my fridge. 

Do any of you make homemade jam? If so, is it low in sugar? What are your favorite types of jam to make? I think in this next week I am also going to try Seedless Blackberry Jam, using the same recipe. I will keep you posted!! 

Cheers! (:

Low Calorie, Great Tasting Hawaiian Pizza

Healthy Hawaiian Pizza:

I have been making this for dinners for quite some time now, and thought it might be time to share. I know a lot of individuals that are trying to maintain a low-calorie diet are always looking for pizza options that they can enjoy without feeling guilty! I think that this is the perfect option. Pizza with canadian bacon and pineapple is my all time favorite and so those are the toppings that I always use. I do want to try a low-calorie BBQ chicken pizza recipe soon, and when I do that I will definitely post it. 

And so we are on to how to make this delicious pizza! 

What you will need:

1 Slice of Arabic Bread (I use this since it is larger than most pita pockets and only 140 calories! But you could also use an alternative to this if you can't find Arabic bread.)
1/4 cup Light Pizza Sauce w/ about 30-40 calories per serving (I use Ragu.)
1 Light Mozzarella String Cheese (I love Sargento cause it melts well, but there are many different options to choose from.)
2 Slices of 97% FF Canadian Bacon (For 5 slices it should be around 60 calories for nutritional info)
Handful of Frozen Pineapple Tidbits
Any type of seasonings for pizza, I use Garlic & Onion Powder and Penzy's Pizza Seasoning when I have it.

The first thing I do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While that is heating up I gather my ingredients and start the pizza making process! 

After I have gathered my supplies, I grate the string cheese as shown in #2 above. Then I spread the 1/4 cup of sauce onto the arabic bread and add the seasonings here so they have a chance to cook into the sauce in the oven (#3). Then add the cheese, slice the 2 pieces of canadian bacon and put them on, and then sprinkle the pineapple tidbits around the pizza (#4 & #5). After the pizza is assembled I put it into the oven for about 10 minutes. Then it is ready to eat! I have to say this goes amazing with a side salad with a boiled egg on top. Which is usually exactly how I eat it. 

I calculated this pizza as being right around 280 calories.
Here is the breakdown:

1 Arabic Bread: 140 calories
1 Light String Cheese: 50 calories 
1/4 cup Light Pizza Sauce: 40 calories 
2 Slices 97% FF Canadian Bacon: 24 calories
Handful of Pineapple: 26 calories 

All in all it is a very filling dinner and it makes you feel as though you are really indulging in a fattening pizza, but it is very healthy and guilt free. Pair with a salad or some soup and you've got a full meal. 

Do you make your own pizzas at home? If so, which kind do you make? What are your favorite toppings? Let me know below in the comment section, and enjoy this delicious pizza! 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strawberry, Banana, & Pineapple Smoothie

Strawberry, Banana, & Pineapple Smoothie

I know what you guys are already thinking, another smoothie? But yes! I made this one today and I have to say it is a tasty snack! I am really a fan of smoothies lately and I love the fact that I can whip up fruits and vegetables into tasty concoctions for a simple lunch. Plus, it is ready in minutes, who doesn't love that?

What you will need:

4-5 Frozen Strawberries
1 Small Frozen Banana
1/4 cup Frozen Pineapple
1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze Milk

Place all ingredients into a blender (I used the Magic Bullet). I found it easier to place the strawberries in first, then banana, pineapple, and pour milk over everything. This way the milk tends to soften the fruits and it is easier for the ingredients to all blend together smoothly. I have to say this one is really tasty!! I also love the bright pink color of this smoothie, and you can never go wrong with the wonderful fruit that is in this one.

I think it might be a great idea to make a few of these smoothies at once and then freeze. That way if I ever have a day where I don't have the couple minutes it takes to pack lunch, or make a smoothie from scratch I can just take out the already frozen smoothie and in a couple of hours I will have a meal ready to go! I usually always pair a smoothie with some other healthy snack.

Here is one of my favorite low-calorie snacks of the moment:

I swear that this popcorn tastes almost exactly like the movie theater popcorn, but way better for you since it only has three ingredients! Of course the fact that it is low in calorie also makes it guilt free for us that are trying to watch our figures! (: 

Which is your favorite type of smoothie? Do you usually have it as a snack or a meal replacement? Also, are there any low calorie, healthy snacks that you're willing to share? Comment and let me know. (:


Healthy & Low Calorie Breakfast Meal

In the mornings, I tend to really want a nourishing, filling meal that will last me till lunch time. I have been making these bagel thin breakfast sandwiches for awhile now and thought I would share what I use in it, the calorie info, and what else I add to most of my breakfasts to make it a complete, well rounded meal.

What you will need:

1 Bagel Thin (I use Thomas Bagel Thin Everything)
1 Egg (I usually use 2 servings of egg whites with about 50 calories, but I didn't have any today)
1 Slice Thin Colby Jack Cheese (Sargento is my favorite, it melts well)
2 Slices Turkey Bacon ( I use Butterball or Jenni-O Brand)
1/2 Wedge Laughing Cow Spreadable Cream Cheese

After I gather all my supplies, I pop the bagel into the toaster and get to work cooking up the egg and bacon. I spray both skillets with Pam and turn them both on to get a little warm then put the egg and bacon on to cook. While these are cooking I spread the 1/2 wedge of Laughing Cow Cream Cheese on one side of the Bagel Thin, and place the thin cheese slice on the other.
Once the bacon is slightly crisp and the egg is fully cooked, I put them both on the Bagel Thin. And there you have it, a healthier, low-calorie breakfast sandwich that is so good its addicting!

This sandwich has around 300 calories, using egg whites instead of a whole egg will save you an additional 20 calories, making the sandwich 280 calories. I also plan on using fat free cream cheese once I use up all of the Laughing Cow Cream Cheese Spread, which will save the sandwich an additional 15 calories. As can be seen there are a lot of different ways to make this sandwich even more low calorie, it's all completely up to you!

In addition to this sandwich I usually always have a side of fresh fruit. Whatever I have recently bought at the farmers market or grocery store, which this morning happened to be strawberries and grapes. I also enjoy a low-calorie iced coffee in the morning. I typically brew Starbucks Veranda Blend Blonde in the Keurig K-cups, put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Then I add it to my Starbucks cup with ice and add 1 tablespoon of Sugar Free Coffee Mate French Vanilla Creamer and 1 tablespoon fat free Half & Half.

I also really enjoy having greek yogurt in the morning, it has a ton of protein in it and will keep you full for quite a while. Sometimes I use Chobani 0%, however, I have recently found Yoplait Greek 100 calorie yogurt which I love! I have tried Vanilla and Strawberry flavors and both were very good. I hope that they keep this product around for awhile and I hope that they end up making lots of new flavors!! These are kind of difficult to find at least in the area where I live, but I have had luck finding them at my local Albertsons store.
Let me know if you have tried any of the Yoplait Greek 100 flavors, or which one is your favorite. Also, let me know your favorite add ins to put in. This morning I put on mashed up strawberries that were leftover from a jam making process.

This is what my breakfast ends up looking like in the morning.


Vegetable Fill-Ins (:

Adding vegetable fill-ins to smart frozen dinners is a great way to bulk up the meal, make it more filling, and get another dose of super food!

Last night I decided to try one of Amy's Light & Lean meals with spaghetti and veggie meatballs. I had some zucchini around from my boyfriend's mom's garden so I decided to grate some up and put it in the meal.

What you will need:

Any Amy's Light & Lean Frozen Entree Meal with any type of pasta
Vegetable Add-Ins of your choice (zucchini, squash, carrots, broccoli slaw, etc.)

Since there is usually extra sauce in these types of meals adding quite a bit of the grated zucchini (at least a cup) made it truly delicious! I will definitely be buying more of these meals and keeping vegetables around to add in. This will be especially amazing when my busy school schedule starts up at the end of next month when there never seems to be enough time for a healthy, low calorie meal.

Don't be afraid to try these meals since they are vegetarian friendly. Trust me you will not even miss the meat, it tastes exactly like real spaghetti and meatballs and has a fabulous taste. Plus, you can enjoy this meal with only 240 calories by itself or with an added cup of grated zucchini it only adds about 20 calories to this perfectly proportioned meal, making it 260 calories.

You can find these frozen meals at any grocery store, but I bought mine at New Seasons Market.


Blueberry, Spinach, & Other Fruit Smoothie

Blueberry, Spinach, & Other Fruit Smoothie

This is the first post that I am going to be doing for my blog. I have been trying to find a perfect smoothie recipe that involves spinach since I know that it offers a lot of good benefits and helps to boost weight loss efforts. And so I was experimenting last week and came up with my most favorite smoothie yet. I thought I would share it with everyone in case you wanted to try it out!

Ingredients You Will Need:

1 Frozen Small Banana
1 Small Kiwi
3-4 Fresh Strawberries
1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze Milk (or other low calorie milk substitute)
1 Cup Blueberries dipped in nonfat greek yogurt and frozen
2-3 Cups Spinach

The first thing that I do is slice a banana and kiwi up into a bowl and let it freeze for at least two hours.

After those are done freezing I gather all my other ingredients that I use in the smoothie. The one thing that I find makes this smoothie better tasting then other smoothies I have tried, is that I use blueberries that I have dipped in greek yogurt and then frozen (and yes I got the idea from Pinterest, but I do not like the way these greek frozen yogurt blueberries taste on their own, and so I added them to a smoothie and it turned out amazing!!).  I usually do this a couple of days before I will be making the smoothie.
Now you are ready to blend all the ingredients together. I usually put the blueberries on the bottom, then build up with the rest of the fruit. Pour the almond milk in before adding the spinach to the top. Like this...
It typically takes a bit of time for me to get all the ingredients blended together well and then liquified. I don't have the best blender though, so that is the problem. If the blender stops working I just move the food around until it all gets blended together smoothly. I like to enjoy this healthy smoothie almost everyday as a lunch. It really is filling and makes me feel like I am doing my body right, by getting in a lot of fruits and a serving of super spinach! (: 

Please try this smoothie out and let me know what you think. Keep in mind that there will still be a taste from the spinach, but along with the other ingredients this smoothie tastes really good. I like to top mine with a  tablespoon or two of fat free reddi-whip which makes it even sweeter.