Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Restaurant Healthy: Cracker Barrel

What's the only place where you can play a game of checkers in an rocking chair while waiting on your good ole' country cookin' to arrive? Where you can browse all kinds of candy in vintage packaging? Where you can get an old fashioned orange creme soda in a frosted mug?!? Cracker Barrel of course. It's one of my favorite places to eat, and it doesn't matter where you eat it at, the food tastes the same. Cracker Barrel isn't exactly known for their salads, but I figured I'd give one of them a try. My choice: the Grilled Chicken n' Fresh Vegetables Salad (no dressing, of course). It has corn. God, I love corn. Needless to say, that sealed the deal for me. 

Calories: 550
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Carbs: 10 g
Protein: 40 g
Sodium: n/A

Note that this nutritional information is not from the Cracker Barrel company itself, it's from My Fitness Pal, so the numbers may be a little off (the source says it has 0 mg of sodium, but I find that hard to believe). Overall, the salad was the shizz-nit. I loved the corn, no big surprise there, but the salad was just very fresh and flavorful. The only thing its that there were like 3 chicken tenders on there. They weren't big either. But hey, you can't have it all, sometimes. I'll live, don't you worry. This was a very enjoyable salad, nonetheless. 

Cracker Barrel's Grilled Chicken n' Fresh Vegetables Salad: A- (I'm sorry, those three little breasts (hee hee) really got to me, and something tells me there is something off with that nutrition info.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Remix Your Workout: Song Remixes that will Get and Keep You Pumped Up!

Listening to music is something I look forward to when working out. Usually when lifting weights I skip the tunes, so I can concentrate more on counting reps, but when it comes time for some cardio, it's time to PUMP UP THE JAMS! I like working out to upbeat songs with a fairly high BPM (beats per minute), because it gets me energized and ready to go. So, without further ado, here are my go to remixes for working out:

"Glad You Came (Alex Guadino Remix)" The Wanted 

"I'll Say It (Majik Boys Club Mix)" Kathy Griffin

"Wannabe (Motiv 8 Dubslam Mix)" Spice Girls

"1234 (Van She Remix)" Feist

These songs are the bomb dot com when it comes to cardio. I'm a firm believer that the music you listen to while you workout influences how you work out, and these songs prove just that. So what's stopping you from having a better workout? I-tunes is waiting!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Restaurant Healthy: Chili's

Although my first choice is to prepare myself a meal at home, so that I know what goes into it, I still adore eating out because, hey, I don't have to cook! So, I am going to start chronicling my healthy eats at restaurants. First up, Chili's. It's not fancy, it's not expensive, but it's some decent grub. Like many chain restaurants, Chili's has a "Lighter Choice Menu" with low calorie meals. My choice for lunch today: a simple grilled chicken salad without the cheese, and with no dressing.

Calories: 430
Fat: 22 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Carbs: 22 g
Protein 39 g
Sodium: 1160mg

The salad tasted amazing! And I'm guessing that I didn't eat as much fat (especially saturated fat) because I skipped out on the cheese, and since I ate it sans dressing, some other areas were probably somewhat less than what is listed above. Looking at the nutrition information, I'm impressed until I get to the sodium. It's probably used as a preservative in the chicken, and this salad was one of the entrees with the smallest amount of sodium. Other than that, everything else seems decent when it comes to the nutrition of this salad. I'll definitely get it again! 

Chili's Grilled Chicken Salad: B+ (because of the ungodly amount of sodium!)
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Pineapple Green Smoothie

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and in my case, it's also the sweetest meal of the day. I eat all of my fruit for the day in the morning before I workout, so that I'll burn it off later, and those sugars don't turn into fat. Cue the fruit smoothie! I've worked for a while to perfect this smoothie recipe, making it taste the best, but also be as healthy as possible, and "By George, I've done it!" If I say so myself, and I do, this is the perfect green smoothie.

1/2 Cup Water
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
3-4 Ice Cubes (Optional)
4-5 Cubes of Pineapple
3 Large Tablespoons Greek Yogurt
1/2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds
2-3 Heaping Handfuls of Spinach or Kale
(I pretty much pack as much green as possible into my blender!)
*Print this recipe here*

Put ingredients in a blender and blend away!

This smoothie is delicious, and oh so creamy! I've made smoothies with milk and a crap-load of Greek yogurt and they weren't as creamy as this baby is, and I don't know why. But hey, I'm not going to question it. The smoothie gods gave me a creamy smoothie, and I'm taking it! And the thing I love about this recipe is that there's not much sugar at all; the pineapple and Greek yogurt have less than 10 grams combined, so you could even have this for lunch or a mid-morning snack after your workout, because there isn't much sugar to burn off in the first place. Score!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marvelous in My Monday

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a great marvelous weekend and an even better Monday! My weekend was pretty chill, but it was marvelous nonetheless! 

You want to know what was marvelous? Here 'tis:

I took a trip to Trader Joe's earlier this week and found some new whole grains to try. My breakfast on Saturday was Almond Butter Breakfast Bulgur with Berries. It rocked my world, and was a great start to my Saturday!

I also picked up a can of Chickpeas on an outing to Target so that I could roast them. I was not disappointed with this protein packed, crunchy snack!

On Sunday the weather was fantastic, so I figured it was time for a nice run outside around town. After 6 miles I found myself back at my car, and donating $1.50 by also using Charity Miles was the cherry on top of a great Sunday afternoon workout.

After my run I went to the movies to see Monsters University. Don't judge me, I only ever go to the movies to see the newest Pixar film; those guys are genius! Adding to the the amount of marvel in my Sunday was the fact that I didn't load on the calories because I took some Roasted Chickpeas to snack on.

So, as you can see, it wasn't a very eventful weekend, but it was marvelous nonetheless!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Roasted Chickpeas

Every time I need beans and go to get them at the store, I'll glance right over the Garbanzo beans as I'm looking for my desired legume. I've never had them before, but I've always heard Chickpeas are pretty good for you, so I figured I would roast them, like I've seen others do. I usually like roasted things, and the best part about this recipe is that you don't add fat by using oil! That part won me over!

1 (16 oz.) can Chickpeas
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Chili Powder 
1/2 tsp. Cumin
*Print this recipe here*

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Drain and rinse your Chickpeas.

3. Place the drained Chickpeas in a bowl and add the spices.
4. Toss the beans to evenly coat all of them.

5. Spread the beans out onto a cookie sheet.

6. Roast for 40 minutes, or until crispy.
(Use a spatula to occasionally move/flip the beans, so they roast evenly.) 

7. Remove from oven, let them cool, and enjoy!

Yes, I know mine look a tad bit burnt, but they didn't taste that way! I've found myself a new healthy snack with a crap-load of protein. Chickpeas have almost 20 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, which is great, because I'm always looking for a snack that will fill me up. Just store these babies in an airtight container and eat them as you please. I even took some with me to the movies to have instead of popcorn that is basically laced with saturated fat, and I also saved about twenty bucks! Don't judge me.

My Rating of Roasted Chickpeas: 9/10

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Almond Butter Breakfast Bulgur with Berries

Wow, I just realized there are a ton of B's in the title of this post. All alliteration aside, I took a trip to Trader Joe's a few days ago and hit the whole grain jackpot! I found all types of quinoa as well as the Trader Joe's brand of Buckwheat, Bulgur, and Farro that cook in only ten minutes! I almost passed out from over excitement. I picked up some Farro and Bulgur to start with, because I figured that buying all those whole grains at one time would probably make my head explode. Any who, this recipe today is a easy Bulgur recipe that's perfect for breakfast. It doesn't taste like it's good for you, either!

1/3 Cup Bulgur
2/3 Cup Water
1 Tbsp. Almond Butter
1 Tbsp. Hot Water
1/2 tsp. Honey
1/4 tsp. Chia Seeds
Strawberries (or any other fruit you desire)
*Print this recipe here*

1. Combine Bulgur and 2/3 Cup of water. Bring to a boil and let the Bulgur simmer for 10 minutes or so, until it is full cooked and the water has been absorbed.

2. Meanwhile, combine almond butter, hot water and honey until the mixture is creamy.

3. Add the chia seeds to the almond butter mixture.
4. Mix the almond butter mixture with the cooked Bulgur.

5. Top with strawberries, or fruit of choice.

This was amazeballs! The almond butter taste was so great, and the berries gave it a sweetness that sent my taste buds over the edge. This breakfast is up there with buttermilk pancakes and cinnamon rolls, and unlike the other two, it's healthy! I would completely recommend this to anyone, and now that I think of it, bananas would also go super well with this; it would probably resemble a peanut butter and banana sandwich. You could do so many things with this recipe, so I definitely see more Bulgur in my future!

My Rating of Almond Butter Breakfast Bulgur with Berries: 10/10

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Give Back with your Workout

Often times when we workout, we know we are doing something good for ourselves, but what if we could be helping others as well? WE CAN! I was surfing the app store on my phone, browsing the free health and fitness apps, and found two ways to give back with your workout; all you have to do is download the free app!

Every Move
Every Move is a free app that allows you to earn points by working out. After every workout, make sure to log what you did and for how long on Every Move, and you will be rewarded points that you can redeem for rewards. A lot of the rewards are for you, and only you, but there are also rewards that go towards charity like donating $5 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation for 1500 points. This is a great way to give back (and get your own occasional reward) with every kind of workout! Learn more about Every Move here.

Charity Miles
Charity Miles is another free app that allows you to donate directly to charities, but is geared at runners and bikers (sorry weight lifters). Whenever you go on a run (not on the treadmill) or a bike ride, just turn run the Charity Miles app while you exercise, and for every mile completed, bikers donate 10¢ and runners/walkers 25¢ to one of the plethora of charities that are available through Charity Run. You can donate to Habitat for Humanity, Feeding America, ASPCA and many more charities! Learn more about Charity Miles here.

Now that you know how you can give back to charity while giving yourself the gift of good health, what's your excuse?!?! Go download Every Move and Charity Miles, today! They're free, and give you the ability to help others while helping yourself; it's a win-win!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spicy Lime Chicken

Having grilled chicken for a meal is one of my favorite things to do because it's super easy, and it can be prepared in so many ways. All you have to do is whip up a marinade, let the chicken soak in it for a few hours and grill it. With so many spices out there, the possibilities for grilled chicken are endless! So I came up with a marinade for a Spicy Lime chicken, and it doesn't disappoint!

4 Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
1 Tbsp. Water
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Chili Powder 

Directions (As if you actually need them!)
1. Wash and trim chicken breasts.
2. Mix all ingredients together in a resealable plastic bag. 

3. Place the chicken in the bag and massage to coat all pieces with the marinade.

4. Let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
(I like to poke holes in the chicken breasts so that the marinade can soak into them.)
5. Put those babies on the grill and cook them until their done to your preference.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Wam bam, thank you m'am! That's all it takes to make some good grilled chicken. And this recipe is completely versatile; you could use lemon juice instead of lime juice and use almost any spice to season. I will say that this was an extremely flavorful dish, and I loved the kick that the cayenne pepper gave the chicken.There were hints of lime here and there, but I think if there would've been too much more of the lime taste it would've been overpowering. In retrospect, this recipe was a winner!

My Rating of Spicy Lime Chicken: 9/10

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vacations and Fitness

This Fourth of July weekend was fantastic! The family and I went to the beach for a few days with the sun, sand and ocean....there were also some Krispy Kreme doughnuts (four dozen to be exact), one and a half pounds of fudge, trail mix, cake, and lots of saturated fat. Needless to say I came home with a beer gut that had not been there when I left. However, I am proud of myself when it comes to the fact that I only skipped one day of exercising! I jogged two times at the beach to try and maintain what was left of my physique, and it worked very well.....NOT. I had an epiphany, however; I realized that eating all of these horrible foods is not for me anymore. I went to bed every night with a stomach ache, and when I went for a run, it felt like I was slowly dying. So with that being said, here are my tips for staying lean on vacation:

  1. Don't deprive yourself. Have a doughnut, and some fudge, just don't have 48 doughnuts and one and a half pounds of fudge. Go off your diet, just don't go insane.
  2. Exercise.....if you want. I enjoy going for a run, so doing so at the beach was even better because of the beautiful scenery, which made up for me feeling like someone had kicked the breath out of me when I ran. If you're not feeling it, don't do it. A break is good every now and then.
  3. Don't make yourself sick! This should be obvious, but like I mentioned before, I went to bed every night with my stomach hurting. Going from a healthy diet to such an unhealthy one really shocks your body, so balance the healthy with the unhealthy. 
  4. Make your vacation about taking a break from everyday life, not about food. I've made this mistake one too many times. I always get myself hyped up about vacations because I know that I'm going to go off my diet, but I'm actually just taking away from the vacation. Don't make your vacation about food, make it about getting away!
Don't use vacations as an excuse to eat whatever you want whenever you want it. But with that in mind, INDULGE while you're away. Food isn't the only way to have a good time on vacation.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chipotle Lime Chicken

I was at the mall this weekend and passed by this expensive looking cooking store called Sur la Table that I thought would be way to expensive for my taste, but I went in anyway. There was a sale and I only ended up spending $25! Any who, one of the things I got was this Chipotle Seasoning mixture to try on chicken! 

So, naturally I came up with my own recipe using this spice for a baked Chipotle Lime chicken. 

4 Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
Tim Love's Chipotle Lime Seasoning (to sprinkle on chicken)

1. Wash and trim chicken breasts; preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Mix together olive oil and lime juice.

3. Brush olive oil and lime juice mixture over chicken breasts and sprinkle
with the Chipotle Lime seasoning so that the chicken breasts are lightly dusted
with the seasoning. 

4. Pop those babies into the oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
(Please forgive me as I was unable to snap a shot of these after
they were done. They got eaten too fast.)

These chicken breasts were good. Not great. I didn't taste the lime juice as much as I thought I would, and the seasoning wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be, but it was good. If I didn't have these expectations as to what it would taste like, I would've loved it! But still, it's a good recipe that I'll definitely use again, maybe as a marinade for grilling instead of baking.

My Rating of Chipotle Lime Chicken: 7/10