Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Go-To Kitchen Gadgets

You'll find quick and easy recipes all over this blog, but part of the reason they're so quick and easy has to do with nifty little kitchen gadgets that help speed up preparation. Without some of these tools, my recipes wouldn't be nearly as simple and easy, which is no good! Unless you want to spend all of your free time in the kitchen (I don't). So, here are my little kitchen helpers that speed up cooking!

Hand Chopper- Who wants to spend all that precious time chopping vegetables? Moreover, who wants to sit there bawling their eyes out while chopping an onion? Maybe Giada De Laurentiis or Rachael Ray, but not myself. That's why I have a hand chopper! You cut whatever needs to be chopped into large chunks, then throw them in the bottom of the chopper and slap away! Side note: this is also good stress relief.

Mini Cutting Board- Who wants to lug out the big chopping block when you only have a few things to cut (especially when you minimize knife chopping with the slap chopper)? I always keep my mini cutting board handy if I'm ever cutting up some cucumber slices for a snack or chopping a few veggies to throw in a salad. When I'm finished, I rinse it off in the sink and dry it, but I'm aware of germs so I throw it in the dish washer once or twice a week!

Giada De Laurentiis for Target Paring Knife- I know her recipes aren't always the easiest or the healthiest, but my girl Giada has great cutlery. I got this paring knife on sale at Target a while back and it's amazing! It's pretty much the only knife I use anymore because it cuts most anything with complete ease. I don't even have to use a fork to hold my chicken breast when I use this knife; it's just that sharp!

Lock & Lock Tupperware- These days, nine times out of ten, I cook things in bulk and save them to eat on later, because all I have to do is reheat them in the microwave. I love these Lock & Lock storage containers because they come in so many different sizes that it's impossible to not be able to find one you need, and they don't accidentally open if they're dropped! No mess, no stress; it's just perfect! 

So there you have it. If none of these things existed, I would be spending almost every waking hour of my life in the kitchen. Well, that's a little dramatic, but I want to live life, and I can't do that if I'm in the kitchen all the time, and neither can you!





Monday, August 26, 2013

Individual Turkey Breakfast Meatloaves

If meat loaf were a person (with the exception of the musician), it would be a husky man with a beer gut who wears cut off plaid shirts and ripped jeans. At least, that's what I would imagine. Although meatloaf may not be too desirable of a person, it sure is a good meal! I decided to switch things  up and make meatloaf for breakfast in muffin tins; how apropos. This dish is a good way to get protein in the mornings, and can also be refrigerated and easily heated in the microwave. Works for me!

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves 
1 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt 
1 raw egg
Print this recipe Here.

Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 325 ºF. 

2. In a large bowl combine the onion, green pepper, ground turkey, sage, thyme, nutmeg, garlic, black pepper, salt and egg. Mix well with your hands. 


3. Fill a greased muffin pan with the mixture, filling each cup almost all the way, but not quite. Make sure the meat is packed well into the cups. 

4. Bake the meatloaves uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the temperature in the middle is at least 170 ºF.

All this recipe was, was chopping a few things and mixing some stuff together in a bowl. After that I had my breakfast for the week! And it was tasty as well! I didn't even need ketchup with it, but I did get my tomato fix by eating some cherry tomatoes with my meatloaf today. But anyhow, this recipe was a complete success!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kale Chips with Rosemary and Thyme

Kale is all the rage lately in the world of leafy greens, and I pack it into my smoothies everyday, but I don't ever actually eat kale that often. So, KALE CHIPS TO THE RESCUE! Chips were never anything that I ate in abundance before I got in to living healthy, but chips are good. I looked around on the web for directions on how to make kale chips, and they seemed simple enough. I played around with some spices, and concocted my own recipe for kale chips with Rosemary and Thyme. 

1 Bunch of Kale
1 Large Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-1/2 tsp. Rosemary
1-1/2 tsp. Thyme
Pinch of sea salt (I used Himalayan Pink Salt)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Wash kale, and remove from stem into small pieces.

3. Toss kale in olive oil.
4. Add in spices, and toss again.

5. Place kale leaves on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet. 

6. Bake for 7-10 minutes (maybe a little more), until kale has browned and is crispy.

7. Remove from oven, eat immediately or store in an airtight container.
**TIP: Put some rice in the container with the kale chips to keep them dry and crunchy.**
Print this recipe here.

If I say so myself, and I do, these chips rocked my world! In my honest opinion, they don't taste like a vegetable at all and the pinch of salt gives them a taste that mimics that of a regular, fattening potato chip. So, easy? Check. Healthy? Check. Delicious? Check. What more can you ask for? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Paleo 101 Smartphone App

Someone who is just starting out with the Paleo diet, like myself, has a lot of questions. Of course it would be perfect if all of the answers were in one place, but they're not. However, what if I told you there is a smartphone app with answers to plenty of your questions? It's called Paleo 101, a beginner's guide to Paleo. It explains in depth the Paleo diet, from what it is, to beginner mistakes and the Paleo lifestyle. You can find guidelines on what the best foods to purchase are, a quiz that tells you if you should start Paleo all at once or gradually and how to go about starting each way, recipes, meal plans, how to eat Paleo in social settings or at restaurants, articles on stress and sleep, and how to go Paleo for families. A lot of features, right? That's not even the half of it! This app is a must-have for Paleo beginners! It not only helps you learn about the Paleo diet, but about yourself as well, so you can live the best Paleo lifestyle possible. And, it's free!












Monday, August 19, 2013

Restaurant Healthy: On the Border


On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
¡Hola! Sorry, that's the extent of my knowledge of Spanish. But if we can't speak the language, let's talk about Mexican food! It's basically a south-of-the-border heaven in your mouth. I love chips and salsa, quesadillas, tacos, burritos, black beans, rice; I love Mexican food, you get the point. One of my fav Mexican restaurants is On the Border, and finding a healthy dish that didn't require me to compromise on the great Mexican flavors was a bit challenging. I experimented with a salad, some chicken tortilla soup, and finally the Chicken Salsa Fresca. The latter was the winner. A grilled chicken breast with a salsa on top, and two sides of grilled veggies (instead of rice). It's fresh, spicy, and everything else that's good about Mexican food. So here's the 411 on the Chicken Salsa Fresca:


Calories: 520
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Sodium: 2410 mg
Carbohydrates: 60 g
Fiber: 12 g
Protein: 50 g

In my opinion, this nutritional info seems pretty accurate, but there probably wouldn't be as much calories, sodium, or carbs with the extra side of veggies instead of the Mexican rice. It tasted phenomenal, and if I'm being honest, I would get this instead of some cheesy quesadilla or taco any day. On the Border's Chicken Salsa Fresca shows you that eating healthy doesn't mean eating bland. And on the up side, this recipe is mostly Paleo (the oils in was prepared in are probably not)!

On the Border's Chicken Salsa Fresca: A++++ (I'm overlooking all the sodium.)
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Vegetable Chili


Chili is one of my favorite foods, and one of the first things I thought about when I realized I wouldn't be eating beans while on the Paleo diet. I searched around for Paleo chili ideas, and found a great recipe on Multiply Delicious, a blog dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle. Since it's the first official day of me going Paleo, I decided it was fitting to post a recipe of one of my favorite foods, Paleo style. I made some changes to the recipe to fit  my liking, however. Anywhoodles poodles, here 'tis!

2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb. grass-fed, ground beef
2 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. Paprika
1 Tbsp. Cumin
2 tsp. dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Zucchini, diced
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and diced
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Chicken Broth (low sodium or regular)
Recipe adapted from here.
Print this recipe here.

Directions
1. Place a big pot over medium-high heat and add oil. 
2. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.

3. Add beef and chop into crumbles. Cook until no longer pink. 

4. Add in spices, zucchini, carrots, sweet potato, red pepper, crushed tomatoes, and broth. Stir.

5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. (I let mine simmer closer to 30 minutes to make sure the sweet potatoes get cooked to my liking.)

I'm never fixing regular chili again. This stuff was Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse good! It's gonna be my lunch for a few days this week, and I can't friggin' wait for lunchtime tomorrow! It's just the right amount of spicy, and has the texture of regular chili with beans. If you don't try this, your taste buds will never forgive you....so, GET TO MAKING THIS EFFING AMAZING CHILI.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Paleo Grocery List

In preparation for my trial run of the Paleo diet, I've spent a few days brainstorming/researching all of the foods that I can eat, and those that I can't. I have read over and over again that planning is crucial to completing the first 30 days of the Paleo diet, so that's what I'm doing! I made a grocery list of all the items that I am going to buy and eat while on living Paleo for a few weeks. I didn't go too heavy on the fruit because of all the natural sugar, but also keep in mind that berries have a very low sugar content when compared to other fruits. Also, I didn't include any seafood under the meat category because I'm simply not a fan of seafood. So, without further ado, here is my Paleo grocery list: 


Print the list here!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paleo Central Smartphone App

I absolutely love incorporating technology into my quest to live healthy, and when I decided to go Paleo, one of the first things I did was search the App Store for Paleo apps. I was bombarded with tons of apps, but I chose to get Paleo Central because of the rave reviews. I usually don't purchase apps, but this one seemed like a good investment, and I can already tell it is! This app gives you the low down on the Paleo lifestyle, and has a huge database of food that you can search from, and it will tell you if the food you searched for is Paleo or not. You can also browse different foods that are Paleo without having to search for them. 






Neat, huh? Whenever I have a few spare minutes, I'll sometimes go to this app and just browse different foods that are Paleo, and whenever I think of a certain food that I'm questioning, I go straight to Paleo Central to search for it. I've got a feeling that this app is going to be a lifesaver on my Paleo journey.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Restaurant Healthy: Logan's Roadhouse

As I scoured the menu at Logan's, I was bombarded with a crap-load of items with fat, fat and more fat. Eating healthy here was going to be a challenge. So, I went safe and got a salad. I try not to eat too much red meat, so I skipped out on the steak, and nothing else on the menu looked healthy. My choice: the Kickin' Logan's Chicken Salad without egg, cheese or bacon bits.

Notice the basket of rolls in the background; I had NONE!
Calories: 578
Fat: 16 g
Saturated Fat: n/a
Sodium: n/a
Carbohydrates: 29 g
Fiber: n/a
Protein: 91 g

Logan's doesn't post the nutritional information of items on their menu, so I had to outsource the best that I could. I'm gonna say what I ate did't have as much protein because I didn't get eggs on my salad, and the fat number may be a little large. I think this information is in the ballpark of the actual nutritional info, though. Also, I didn't eat all of those tortilla strips; in fact I removed most of them, but I wanted a little crunch in my salad! Overall, this salad was good. Not great, amazing or anything along those lines, but I liked it. 

Logan's Roadhouse's Kickin' Chicken Salad: B

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Breakfast Farro

I love whole grains! They're like a blank canvas that you can spice up any way you want; you can really use your creativity. I also love chocolate! It's like the paragon of paint, going back to the canvas analogy. So, with my love of whole grains and chocolate, dark chocolate strawberry breakfast farro was born!


1/3 Cup of Farro + 2/3 Cup of Water to Boil It
About 1/2 oz. Dark Chocolate
1/4 tsp. Hot Water
3-4 Fresh Strawberries, Cut into Pieces

Directions:
1. Bring Farro and water to a boil in a pot. Let simmer for 8-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile place your dark chocolate in a small, microwaveable bowl.

3. Microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted. Stir in 1/4 tsp. of water.

4. Drain Farro once it is cooked, and transfer to a bowl. Stir in melted chocolate.

5. Slice fresh strawberries and top you chocolate Farro with them.

I have to be real with y'all, this felt like more of a dessert than a breakfast. It was good, though. It tasted similar to a chocolate covered strawberry, which I adore! Ding, ding ding! We have a winner in the breakfast category. I'll definitely be having this for breakfast again, or when I'm craving chocolate! Bon appetit!

My Rating of Dark Chocolate Strawberry Breakfast Farro: 9/10






Friday, August 9, 2013

Track Your Sleep With the Sleep Cycle App

You may not be workin' on your fitness when your snoozing away, but a good night's sleep is the foundation for a good workout and healthy life. That's why I use Sleep Cycle. This app, by Maciek Drejak Labs, uses your body's movements during the night to track when you go to sleep, and what phase of sleep you're in. All you have to do is place your phone in your bed, with the app running, and Sleep Cycle will analyze your sleep. You can also use the app as an alarm, setting a time window (from 10 minutes to 90 minutes) in which you need to wake up, and Sleep Cycle will wake you in your lightest state of sleep, leaving you feeling awake and refreshed. After five nights of using the app, Sleep Cycle gives you charts and graphs that analyze your sleep patterns. Other features include using your own music as an alarm, recording sleep notes, a sleep aid (soothing noises to help you sleep) and ability to record your mood when you wake up.

Set your alarm.

Data of your night's sleep.

Sleep quality analysis.




When we become busy and have so much to do, we often have to give up certain aspects of our lives. One of the first things to go is usually sleep. Don't be that person who is always tired and irritable because you don't sleep. Catching some zzzz's is what gives us energy for our day, and not having enough energy isn't just tiring, it's unhealthy. So get some sleep, and sweet dreams!