Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quick & {Healthy} Sweet & Sour Chicken

I initially started this with the motivation to make my own sauce...but then saw a bottle of sweet & sour sauce when I was grabbing some produce at WF and I caved. Especially since I'm not making dinner until 8pm! I saw this as an opportunity to make something even faster, easier for families and individuals on the go and healthy to boot. 

What I used:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, skinless and trimmed of extra fat, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1T soy sauce
  • 1/2 Cup prepared sweet & sour sauce (I used Kikoman) 
I pretty much prepared my recipe using the same as what was suggested on the bottle, but I modified it by using chicken breast (pork would be a lean white meat option too), removing the corn starch and halving the amount of sauce used (really, you don't need all of that). 

Heat large skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick cooking spray or a little olive oil. Add chicken, onion powder and soy sauce, browning on all sides. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes stirring occassionally. Add vegetables, pineapple and sweet & sour sauce, mix well, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 5-7 minutes until heated through and sauce has reduced a little.

Serve with some 90 second Ready Rice and you're set for a healthy quick meal in about 30 minutes! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

{Healthy} Peanut Butter Brownies!

If you're like me, you always need to have a little somethin' sweet after dinner :) So I've been trying to buy and make more healthy dessert options, keeping the sweet treats around 150 calories or less. With that said, I also like to try to be all natural if possible and avoid anything processed or artificial. Some of my new favorites have been Diana's Bananas (chocolate dipped frozen bananas!) and Almond Dream Lil' Dreamers.

On my quest for an easy and healthy brownie I came across quite a few good options...calorie-wise...but many contained artificial sweeteners or had too many ingredients that I just know I would only use a pinch of and not have any use for the rest! I don't really LOVE to bake so for me, the easier the better. Then I hit the Hungry Girl website and found a perfect recipe for me! The only thing I didn't have on hand was the box of cake mix! After my grocery shopping trip to WF here's the adapted recipe I made, with yummy results:

  • 1 box organic chocolate cake mix (Such as Dr. Oetker)
  • 2T cocoa powder
  • 1 can (15oz) pumpkin (Libby's)
  • 1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2-3T light soy milk
Mix together the cake mix, cocoa powder and pumpkin well (batter will be thick). Spread into a greased 9x13inch cake pan. Mix together peanut butter and soy milk and pour on top of brownie mixture. Swirl together. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Make sure not to overbake these! Allow to cool and cut into 16 pieces. 

Each brownie: ~150 calories, 2.6gm fat, 3gm fiber, 3gm protein and cholesterol free!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lots of Loves!

So many new things I LOVE this week!

First, I got a new phone. After years of swearing against it, I broke down and bought a smart phone. I won't lie....I LOVE it. So many fun apps and games! I can check my email anytime, find restaurants, shops, etc. Texting is better, call quality seems better...but what am I talking about? Everyone has one now so I'm sure you all know this :)

My favorite thing though has so far been the MyFitnessPal application. It helps you figure out your calorie goals based on the amount of weight you want to lose or weight you want to maintain, factors in your daily activity along with any additional exercise, and tracks your calories. It has thousands of food items including top brand names. It will even calculate out your recipes that you make! You can save your favorite foods, recipes and exercises and it graphs your progress. So far, I'm in LOVE.

Second, my new favorite snacks...Emerald Breakfast on the Go (180-200 calories/pack)! Mini Babybel Light cheeses (50 calories per round)! Diana's Banana Babies (delicious chocolate covered half bananas for only 130 calories)!

Third, my red wine spritzer! To keep my glass of wine around 90 calories while still feeling more satisfied here's what I did: Measure out 4 oz red wine (I used a sweeter red called House Jam that I had opened over the weekend) and add 4oz seltzer (I used a raspberry flavor). Its nice and light yet a lot more volume, while still keeping your calorie and alcohol intake in check.
And finally...this beautiful Baltimore weather! Honestly, this week has been perfect and I've been trying to enjoy it as much as possible! Low 70s and sunny?? I'll take it! I've been walking for at least an hour every night this week and I feel SO good!

Lots of LOVES this week as I said :) Let it continue...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surprisingly {Healthy} Pizza

Yep you read that right. Healthy. Pizza. It can be done!

I love pizza every which way...deep dish, thin crust, meat lovers, veggie lovers, stuffed crust, Chicago style, New York style...any style! If it's pizza, I love it. But it can be a high calorie, high fat, artery clogging indulgence if you don't watch out.

Here are my tips on making your pizza a nutritious, good-for-you-and-your-family meal:

  • Go with thin crust whenever possible. It really will cut down on calories while giving you just the right amount of carbohydrates in your meal. Choosing thin crust over original can cut out approximately 80 calories per slice! 
  • Try whole grain pizza dough when making your pizza. It will bump up your intake of whole grains which gives you more vitamins, minerals and fiber while reducing your glycemic load. Check out Eating Well for a good recipe. 
  • Veggies, veggies, veggies!!! Top your pizza with all your favorite vegetables (and fruit!) to make your pie healthy and delicious. I love broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, onion, olives, tomatoes and more on my pizza. I also love adding some pineapple for a sweet and savory combo. 
  • Use lean meats. Try out turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, chicken breast, lean ham or canadian bacon or even veggie-meat alternatives like Smart Deli Pepperoni
  • Top with a low fat shredded cheese like a part skim mozzarella or your favorite reduced-fat variety. Remember to go easy on the cheese and only use a light sprinkle. A 1/4 cup is still around 70 calories! 
  • Boost flavor by adding seasonings. Try Italian seasoning, garlic, red pepper flakes, etc to really increase the taste without piling on fat and calories.
I used a large ball of pizza dough bought from my local pizza shop (such an easy way to make homemade pizza...the dough usually comes out perfect!). I know it isn't whole grain but i did stretch it out to be as thin as possible using a large cookie sheet sprayed with a bit of nonstick cooking spray. I then used my new oil mister to spray a thin layer of olive oil (about 1tsp) on top of the crust before I put on my toppings.

After mixing the pizza sauce with some fresh minced garlic and spreading evenly over the dough (don't use too much or the crust will get soggy), I layered spinach and mushrooms along with reduced fat monterey jack cheese over my crust. To top it off I sprinkled on a healthy dose of Italian seasoning and some crushed red pepper. Bake at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until golden and bubbly. Yum!

How do you like your pizza?? What tips do you have for making it healthy?