Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Happy Blog-a-versary!

imagesIt’s been one year since we launched Something To Chew On! Thank you for continuing to stop by and read, comment, or share my blog posts!

What better way to celebrate than with cake, right? After all, we can have “everything in moderation.”  Before I get to my amazing gluten-free cake recipe, I want to address a few concerns regarding the definition of moderation. The whole “moderation rule” implies that you can eat anything you want, as long as you consume the less healthy foods “in moderation.” One big flaw with this statement is that everyone seems to have a different definition of what moderation actually is. For example, many think that moderation is having only a couple of chocolate candies every day instead of the entire bag. I’ll note that this is showing better portion control; however, this isn’t necessarily moderation. This is a habit. You have to look at the big picture,when analyzing your moderation skills. I’ve had patients state they only have cookies a couple of times per week, but they also had pancakes, ice cream, pizza, fast food burgers, chicken tenders “a couple times per week” as well. Try to limit unhealthy foods to no more than 2-3 times per week. This encompasses all unhealthy foods combined, not individuals foods as mentioned previously. This may be somewhat strict for some people, but it will really help open  your eyes to how much unhealthy food we are accustomed to consuming on a regular basis.

Another problem with this is that there are some really bad foods out there that we should try to limit as much as possible, such as sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and processed white grain products, to name a few.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a perfect diet, but I do practice good moderation with less-healthy food items. I do enjoy ordering French fries when I dine out; however, my husband and I only dine out about once a month. We both also love pizza, but typically only have pizza once every 2-3 months. We didn’t always practice this type of moderation; believe me, when you start eating clean, unprocessed home cooked meals on a regular basis, your body will feel on top of the world. When we go out for something that is unhealthy, I almost immediately feel bloated, sluggish and experience abdominal pains.

This is a gluten-free chocolate cake that I made for a celebration. Like all sweets, this is something that should only be enjoyed occasionally and good portion control should still be practiced. This is certainly not the healthiest recipe I have submitted, but if you have children that have celiac disease, then you know how hard it is to find a good gluten-free celebration recipe.chocolate_cake

Chocolate Gluten-Free Cake-Brownies

  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is preferred)
  • 1 stick of butter (grass-fed is preferred)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF.

2. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter together. Heat for short intervals and stir together until melted.

3. Stir cocoa powder, honey, eggs and vanilla into melted chocolate and whisk together until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into a small baking dish (8″x8″),or smaller if you desire a thicker cake/brownie.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes (cooking longer will make the cake set more).

6. Remove from heat and set aside for cooling.

7. Enjoy a 2”x2” inch square with friends and family.


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Trying New Things With Chicken

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a chicken recipe. We’ve been eating chicken all right, but I’ve had a handful of recipe fails lately that did not make the cut to be featured on the blog. For weeks, I have been craving a solid honey mustard chicken recipe. It took me fives tries before I came out with this one, but that didn’t stop me from continuously trying to make the perfect chicken recipe. Whether your challenge is training for a ½ marathon, making strength gains at the gym or, like me, cooking new recipes… remember, taking on any new challenge can have its own set of triumphs and letdowns. It’s important to not let those set-backs get in the way of you achieving your goal and boy, am I glad I didn’t quit. My husband has already asked me to make this recipe again since finally nailing it! It’s quick, simple and can be served by itself or prepared in a salad.

Maple Honey Mustard Chicken

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  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup (not the generic syrup we’re most accustomed to)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp of fresh rosemary or 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Lightly season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and lay in cooking dish.
  2. Meanwhile whisk together mustard, syrup and red wine vinegar. Pour mixture over chicken breasts and cook for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle rosemary on top of cooked chicken and serve warm.


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Start Making Healthy Changes Now

Woman Tying Measuring Tape Around Her WaistI am not an advocate for “quick fixes” like weight loss supplements, juice cleanses and the like. While quick fixes may result in fast weight loss, these results are only temporary and chances are, your depressed metabolism will cause you to rapidly gain the weight back…and then some. Seven-day or 21-day weight loss plans typically instruct you to drastically cut caloric intake and often severely limit the variation of food in your diet. Once these week-long or month-long fast diets are over with, most people resume their previous eating habits and unfortunately circle right back to square one with their weight loss efforts.

What’s unfortunate is these quick diet plans do not teach you how to eat for the long-run. You can’t drink a “body by Vi” shake forever; eventually you’re going to have to learn how to make real food for your meals. Research has shown that a multitude of different diets such as low-calorie/low-fat, high-fat/low-carb, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet, paleo dietetc., can all help individuals lose weight. Sometimes, losing weight is not the problem; it’s keeping the weight off. This fact stresses the importance of lifelong habits that one must take on, not quick diet fixes, in order to maintain their weight loss efforts. Here are some “quick” healthy changes that you can make today and turn into lifelong habits.

1. Start your day with protein. Breakfast is the most commonly missed meals reported by Americans of all ages. And when we think of breakfast, we typically think of a large bowl of sugary-sweetened cereal and a tall glass of orange juice. Breakfast meals high in these simple sugars can lead to a quick drop in energy come 9:00 a.m. Try to find ways to incorporate more protein with your breakfast meal. Add nuts into oatmeal, make a veggie omelet or pair fruit with high-protein Greek yogurt.

imgres2. Switch to water. Water is essential to one’s health and its benefits far surpass the simple purpose of hydration. Drinking more water is a habit I have been working on for quite some time now and it’s really sticking. As ashamed as I am to admit it, I previously was consuming about 4 diet sodas per day. To wean myself off of the diet soda, I would tell myself for every soda I consumed, I would have to drink a bottle of water. Now I keep a water bottle with me at all times so there are no excuses for not drinking enough water.

3. Stop serving multiple starches with meals. This is an easy fix that will help you naturally control your carbohydrate intake with your meals and make them more well-rounded. Our typical American western diet revolves around meat, potatoes, bread or some other starch like noodles and rice or corn and peas with most of our meals. Begin your meals by choosing a healthy lean protein, add one starch (preferably a healthy starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruit, if preferred.

4. Bring your own snacks to work. It seems almost every week, someone brings in a new “Pinterest-inspired” sweet treat to share with everyone at work. Sure, these decadent treats look great, but consuming these items regularly as snack choices can lead one to a spike in blood sugar followed by a drop in energy. Plan ahead and make sure you always have healthy, nutrient-dense snacks packed with you for your workday. If you feel bad about turning down your co-worker’s cheesecake bites, you can politely decline by saying you had already packed an apple with almond butter for your snack today. Or a simple, “No thanks, but thanks for asking,” always does the trick too!

exercise_02F026015. Exercise. Daily physical activity is one of the most important keys for a healthy metabolism and weight management. It’s time to put the “excuse book” away and start moving today.


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Perfect Savory & Sweet Dish

photo 1Sweet potatoes are a perfect combination of filling and healthy carbs that add a touch of natural sweetness to any dish. Typically, I enjoy my sweet potatoes sautéed in some coconut oil with a pinch of salt and pepper or roasted in the oven with garlic and onions. I usually avoid recipes for sweet potatoes that call for additional sweet ingredients like brown sugar and cinnamon because I feel they are then too sweet. But, boy oh boy am I glad I tried this recipe–out it’s became another instant favorite in our household. This dish is a little bit higher on the carb side so make sure you serve it with a lean protein and non-starchy vegetables (green beans, salads, broccoli, etc).

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Raisins, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Raisins, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

  • 3 lbs of sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp of melted coconut oil
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ c. raisins
  • 3-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425oF. Place cubed sweet potatoes in pan and toss with melted coconut oil, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until slightly crispy.

2. Meanwhile place raisins and balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes so vinegar reduces and raisins plump up. Be sure not to overcook the vinegar as this can scorch your pan.

3. Once sweet potatoes are done, place in serving dish and toss in raisins, remaining vinegar, goat cheese and rosemary. Serve warm. (But it was also quite tasty cold the next day!)

For more delicious and healthy recipes head to our Pinterest Board.


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Keep an Open Mind

 

photoOne thing I have been trying to work on is being more open to recipe ingredients I am less familiar with. When I first looked at this recipe, my immediate reaction was “fennel seeds?…next please.” It’s a good thing I am overcoming my fears, because this chicken dish was a burst of citrus, fresh air for these cold snowy winter days.

I used the leftover lemon for my haricot verts (basically fresh green beans) and this became one of my new favorite side dishes. Haricot verts are a low-cost, low-carb side dish that goes well with any entrée!

Chicken and Haricot Verts with a Lemony Twist 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 chicken breasts


For the Haricot Verts:

  • 1 lb of fresh green beans/haricot verts (I use a 1 lb bag of haricot verts from Sam’s Club)
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Mix first 5 ingredients for chicken recipe together in a small bowl. Pour ingredients over chicken and coat evenly.

2. Place chicken in oven and cook 30-35 minutes.

3. While chicken is cooking, place steamable bag of haricot verts into microwave and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add shallots, garlic and onion. Sautee for a few minutes until onions and shallots become tender, but do not brown.

5. Add steamed haricot verts to skillet and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir into mixture for a couple minutes and serve warm. Optional–you can garnish this dish with chopped almonds or tomatoes.


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For That Special Someone

The Quickest Way to my Husband’s Heart…is through his Stomach

My husband has been such a trooper with me trying out so many new chicken recipes lately; I decided to surprise him with a meat dish. This recipe does take a bit of prep time; but, the flavors are so phenomenal, it is well worth the time and patience when you taste your finished product. Whether you want to treat yourself or treat someone special in your life, this recipe gets a grade A stamp of approval from both me and my husband. Serve this dish with your favorite green bean recipe, side salad or sautéed vegetables.

Balsamic Glazed Steak Rollssteakrollup

Steak Ingredients

  • 1 ½-2 lbs flank steak (this is one of the leanest and thinnest cuts of steak, which makes it perfect for this recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Any steak seasoning you like (I used BWW’s Chipotle BBQ dry rub)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Vegetable Ingredients

  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 zucchini, julienned
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 green onions, thinly sliced (green parts)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp shallots, finely minced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ cup beef broth

1. Begin prepping your steak. Trim visible fat and pound thin (only if other type of steak is used instead of flank). Season both sides with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.

2. Slice vegetables into thin, matchstick-like strips. You will be lightly sautéing these prior to rolling them in the steaks.

3. For the sauce, melt butter in sauce pan. Add shallots and stir for 2 minutes. Add the rest of sauce ingredients. Once the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the temperature and continue to stir as sauce thickens, another couple minutes. Once sauce is at desired consistency, transfer to separate sauce dish.

4. In the same pan or separate pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and sliced vegetables (except for green onions). Add Italian seasoning and a sprinkle of salt and sauté for a few minutes. Once slightly cooked and softened, remove vegetables from heat.

5. Assemble the steak rolls by placing marinated steak down on cutting board and laying vegetables (and green onions) in middle of steak. Roll over steak and secure with toothpick.

6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 Tbsp of oil. Place steaks seam-side down and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Add special steak seasoning to rolls as they are cooking. Cook until desired.

Recipe adapted from: http://picturetherecipe.com/index.php/recipes/balsamic-glazed-steak-rolls/


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Weather Influenced Meals

download (1)While standing in line at the grocery store, I overheard two individuals talking. Normally, I tune most outside conversations out, but these women happened to be talking about food, so of course my ears perked up. They were conversing about the meals they were going to make because it was so cold outside. One woman stated that she was going to make some homemade chicken and noodles and the other one replied that she was planning on making a tator-tot casserole to “warm her belly up”. These women illustrated a simple principle that occurs winter after winter, year after year; when the weather’s cold outside, we tend to crave entrees that are warm, cheesy, starchy …our comfort foods.

Having the occasional indulgent dish from time to time is perfectly fine, but when we consume these meals on a frequent basis, a caloric imbalance takes place and weight gain can occur (especially if you’re not exercising-another common downfall of the cold weather!) We also tend to wear more layers of clothes and if you’re not weighing yourself or closely monitoring how your clothes are fitting, a few pounds of weight gain can occur almost unnoticeably. When this pattern is repeated year after year, one may begin to notice that their summer clothes just don’t fit as good as they use to.

Some of the most common culprits to these high-calorie or high-starch meals are: cheese, potatoes, rice and pasta. Try to go for these healthy swapportunities that will help keep both your belly and waistline happy this winter.

Use spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles in place of pasta. When replacing a starch with a vegetable, you gain the benefits of 1) lowering the caloric content of the meal 2) lowering the carbohydrate amount for the meal and 3) improving the number of servings of fruits and vegetables one consumes each day.

Try switching rice for chopped cauliflower. All you need to do is finely chop up a head of cauliflower or put the florets into a food processor to make it “rice-like” size and then microwave it for a few minutes so it softens in texture. It is really that simple! Liquids can sometimes waterlog the rice-cauliflower, so it may not retain the same consistency if used in a casserole. Try to use it as a side dish or mixed with veggies and protein in a stir-fry or Mexican side dish.

YEAST

Have you heard of nutritional yeast? I know the name sounds unappealing, but this is a nice substitute in recipes when one is used to sprinkling cheese on top of their meals. Start by using it like you would use parmesan cheese and then explore its uses in your everyday recipes.

Pick sweet potatoes over regular potatoes. A sweet potato  has roughly the same amount of calories as a regular white potato, but it certainly wins when it comes to having more fiber, more antioxidants and a lower glycemic index when compared to regular potatoes. It’s still a good idea to be mindful with portion control when consuming these nutritionally-dense spud alternatives.

 Winter Vegetables Bakevegetable bake

  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • ½ butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
  • 6-8 gloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients in baking dish and toss evenly.

2. Place mixture in oven and bake 40-45 minutes. (I did add a couple strips of cooked cut-up bacon for a fun little twist but this is optional.)

3. Serve with your favorite protein and green side dish.


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Living and Breathing What I Teach

Living healthy, active lifestyles is not only something that I encourage on all my patients, it’s something that I value in my own life. I strive to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, not only to set a good example for my patients but more importantly to lead a long, healthy life for myself and my family. To show proof, here is how I spent my Friday.

5:15am:Alarm clock! Yes, I did snooze for 9 minutes then quickly got up, dressed, brushed my teeth and out the door we go to Crossfit.

6:00am: CrossFit WOD

Bench Press (close grip) 4-3-2-1
    (75 lbs, 85 lbs, 95 lbs, 100 lbs)

Thruster 8 min EMOM (every minute on the minute) 3-5 reps
(4 reps @ 83 lbs)

5 Minute AMRAP- 1 Turkish get up (each arm), 3 strict pull-ups, 10 wall balls (14 lbs)
3 rounds

7:15am:1 scoop of whey protein powder + 8 oz of almond milk.

9:30am:Breakfast (in between patients) of 5 eggs whites sautéed with mushrooms and spinach and ½ cup sweet potatoes + ½ avocado. I always make my breakfast and lunch meal the night before so I am stocked up and ready for the day.

photo 2

12:30pm:Lunch. Typically I have leftovers that consists of meat and veggies but since the leftovers are used up at the end of the week, I threw together a salad and plan on cooking tonight. Salad ingredients: mixed greens and baby spinach, artichokes, craisins, mushrooms, avocado, grilled chicken and walnuts with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.photo 4

2:30pm: Snack time. Gala apple with peanut butter.

photo 5

5:00pm:Pack up and head home but not before having a little fun after clinic-hours. Who doesn’t do a handstand after work to celebrate on Fridays? I also munched on some mixed nuts on my ride home and to the grocery store.

handstand

6:30pm:Dinner is fixed. Kept it simple tonight with my rosemary herbed chicken, garlic-roasted butternut squash and garlic mashed cauliflower. Can you tell my love for garlic??

photo 3

9:30pm:8 oz of chocolate almond milk–delish!

10:30pm:Lights out. Early morning Crossfit workout and lots to do on Saturday!

Eat clean, move more, spend time with family, value your sleep and make a point to have a little fun each day!


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Chicken For All Ages

photoChicken nuggets and chicken tenders are food favorites for people of all ages. The downfall for these menu items is that they are breaded and fried and rank low in nutritional value. Even if you bake these items, remember that they were originally fried and then flash frozen to preserve freshness. Keeping up with my goal of exploring a new chicken recipe each week, I found this healthy and gluten-free alternative. Instead of using exact measurements when seasoning the chicken, I simply coated each piece of meat evenly with the spices.

Coconut Dusted Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce
3-4 chicken breasts

Salt

Pepper

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Smoked Paprika

Ground Cumin

2 eggs

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup almond flour

Honey Mustard Sauce

5 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375oF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Season each chicken breast evenly with spices. Meanwhile, combine coconut and almond flour in mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk both eggs together.

2. Once seasoned, dip each chicken breast in egg mixture and then dip into coconut mixture. Make sure each side is coated evenly.

3. Bake for 35-40 minutes. (The thicker your chicken breasts are, the longer time is needed to cook thoroughly.) These will not brown up like regular chicken tenders. If this is desired, then cook an additional couple minutes under the broiler setting.

4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the honey mustard sauce ingredients and set aside.

5. Serve with your favorite vegetable side dish. I chose mashed garlic cauliflower garnished with chives with a mixed green salad.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.paleonewbie.com/recipe-entree/paleo-chicken-strips-honey-mustard-sauce-recipe/


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Figge’s Favorite Groceries

grocery shoppingWith the success of  Figge’s Favorite Things blog post, I thought I would follow up with a list of some of my favorite foods that frequently occupy my shopping list. Years ago, my diet heavily consisted of processed luncheon meats, frozen dinners and snack bars. Today, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are typically what fill up my grocery cart. This was no overnight process, but slowly, I began to step outside my comfort zone and taught myself how to prepare and cook with fresh ingredients. To stay healthy, I rely on clean, minimally processed foods. Combined with a healthy dose of physical activity each week, clean eating helps keep my cholesterol down, energy up and promotes a good night’s sleep.

  1. Eggs. Eggs have been hounded over the years for their fat and cholesterol content. However, with today’s research on eggs, we are learning that 1) the cholesterol found in eggs is not what is causing high cholesterol in individuals and 2) the benefits of the yolks include a Vitamin B12 source, eye-healthy lutein , zeaxanthin antioxidants, and choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function.
  2. fresh-spinachSpinach. This green giant gets sautéed in with my eggs each morning and makes several appearances in other meals throughout the week.
  3. Peanut or almond butter. If I could eat almond butter every day, I would; but because the cost of it is often more than peanut butter, I tend to go back and forth between these heart-healthy fat and protein snack additions.
  4. Cauliflower. My kitchen often looks like a cauliflower war zone. For those of you that regularly cut up cauliflower, you know what I’m talking about! My preferred way of cooking it is steaming in a sauce pan and then mashing it in my food processor. Add a pinch of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, butter and garnish with chives and you have a great vegetable side dish (not to mention for the cost of $3 or less!)
  5. Spaghetti Squash. We have been having a lot of fun with spaghetti squash this winter. It is a great substitute for pasta in recipes. To me, it is not very tasty when served plain, but if you add mixed vegetables, seasonings, sauces or a homemade mayo to the mix, you’re set-to-go for a delicious meal.
  6. Chicken. This is the most popular protein consumed in our household. For that reason, I am constantly finding new ways to season and prepare it. We also consume beef, pork and fish but chicken definitely takes the podium for most consumed.
  7. Apples. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants and soluble fiber. I usually have at least one and sometimes two apples a day with my peanut or almond butter for heart-healthy, filling snacks.
  8. Whey protein powder. Since both my husband and I do Crossfit, we need a quick source of protein for our post-workout snacks. One scoop of protein powder poured in 8 oz. of almond milk allows my body to quickly refuel after a workout, promote lean tissue growth and speed up recovery time.
  9. Ground flaxseed. This antioxidant powerhouse can be easily mixed into recipes or sauces or can even be sprinkled on top of foods to add fiber, omega-3 and healthy lignans to any dish.
  10. Sweet potato. These Vitamin A giants interestingly are most often consumed with my breakfast meal. I’ll sauté a medium-large sweet potato in 1 Tbsp of coconut oil on Sunday nights and then portion out servings to grab and go for the week. NCI5_POTATO
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