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Healthy Bites with Holly: Crazy Pizza

22 Apr

When you are trying to let go of unhealthy eating habits, the siren song of the fattening foods call out to drag you to the dangerous shoals.  Pizza commercials are my siren songs.  I cannot change the channel fast enough to stop my mouth from watering when I see the cheesy goodness of a hot slice of pizza on the screen.  I am so glad I finally found this amazing recipe.   It is easy to prepare, the ingredients are not exotic or hard to find, and the result is a moist casserole that tastes just like pizza (or maybe even a little better).

Even better, I can vouch for the family friendly nature of this dish.  Back in the day, when my children were still in grade school, I had to find low calorie dinners that would fit in my diet plan that my family would eat and not complain about.  Over the years, this became their favorite “momma’s on a diet” recipe. It is no surprise that this recipe eventually became a family staple, even after the diet stopped.  You really need to try this…it tastes sinfully delicious.

Crazy Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces ground turkey or for a nice twist, try 8 ounces spicy turkey sausage1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper (chopped) (you can add any vegies you like on pizza, like mushrooms or zucchini)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (or more depending on your taste)
  • 1 (7 1/2 ounce) can Pillsbury Reduced Fat refrigerated biscuits
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a non stick large skillet brown the turkey.  Add the granulated garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add green pepper, onion and any other vegies you are including. Continue to stir fry until the onions are slightly opaque.
  4. Stir in stewed tomatoes and the rest of the spices.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture is hot and flavors are throughout.
  5. Open biscuit package and separate biscuits.   Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces.  Place biscuits in the bottom of the oiled baking dish.
  6. Pour the meat mixture over the biscuits.  Ensure all the biscuits are covered with the mixture.
  7. Place baking dish into the preheated oven and bake 20 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese over the top and continue baking until cheese melts, about 5 minutes

This dish makes 4 plentiful servings.  Serve this with a side salad with shredded parmesan cheese on the table and you will make yourself (and your family) very happy that you are eating healthy.    Do you have a tried and true low cal/point recipe that you and your family loves?  Leave me a comment and a link and let’s share.

Nutritional Information per serving:   Calories:  268   Fat:  2.5g   Total Carb:  31g  Dietary Fiber:  4g  Protein:  5g  – Weight Watchers Plus Points:  7

Download the .pdf of this recipe: Crazy Pizza

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

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Healthy Bites with Holly: A Few of My Favorite Things

15 Apr

As I was shopping this week, it occurred to me that I have found new favorite foods.  Yummy, nutritious things to eat that are now my go-to foods.  You know those foods…the stuff you HAVE TO HAVE in your cupboards or refridgerator every day.   In order of importance, here are my must haves:

  1. Greek Yogurt:  Bar none, greek yogurt has become the food I most look forward to eating daily.  My preference is Chobani brand Greek Yogurt.   If you compare regular yogurt to greek yogurt, per ounce greek yogurt has only 2 more calories, but half the sugar and twice the protein.  This means that for just a few more calories, it satisfies me longer.  And feeling fuller means that I don’t want to cheat and eat a donut. (Photo Source)
  2. Edamame:  I love me some edamame!  You can buy these unshelled soy beans pre-cooked and frozen in small little packets.  I buy them from Costco and pop them in my freezer.  And then, when I need a little mindless snack, something to replace high fat, empty calories like potato chips, I just zap them for 2 minutes in the microwave and I have fun, tasty thing to eat that doesn’t pack on the pounds. The best thing is that edame is very low in sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin K, Folate and Manganese. (Photo Source)
  3. Low Fat String Cheese:  Wanna play with your food?  And eat healthy?  Add low fat string cheese to your diet.  I love the different ways that I can eat it.  Sometimes, I cut it into little coins, and eat them slowly, one by one.  Sometimes, I peel off the strings, and eat them like a kid.  And sometimes, I zap the cheese for 15 seconds in the microwave, and eat it warm and a little melty.  My very favorite thing is to take a few low fat cracker, such as Low Fat Wheat Thins, and add a piece of string cheese, and then a piece of jalapeno pepper on the very top.  The crunch is satisfying and feels like a little hors d’oeuvre.  MM Good!
  4. Bananas:  I think the banana may be the most perfect food.  It is easily digested, contains nature sugars for energy, high in protein, high in potassium.  It is portable, has it’s own wrapper and contains almost 20% of your daily vitamin C need.  And it is great to help you regulate your, um, bathroom products.  Which can come in handy when you are first trying to lose weight and your body rebels.  I have at least one banana a day. (Fact Source)
  5. Water Bottles:  Technically, the water bottles I purchased are not a food, but they have helped me so much to drink the water I need every day.  At first, I tried to use recycled water bottles, but they were thin, and easily collasped.  The caps became harder and harder to screw on, and sometimes they leaked in my bag.   I found these particular bottles at Bed Bath and Beyond. They are thick, and easy to clean.  The caps are very strong and have a silicone seal to keep the water in the bottle.  These are designed to work with their new SodaStream soda maker, but you can buy them separately.

Do you have a “Go-To” nutritious food or product that has helped your healthy eating goals?  Drop me a line and let me know!

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

Healthy Bites with Holly: It’s the Little Things

8 Apr

I am looking over my weight loss book. Every week I am consistently losing a little over a pound, and yet I am not starving. I even occasionally eat out, and have a margarita. Looking back, it has been three months since I made the decision to eat healthy and save my life. The decision was a big one, and one that I had made in my mind and heart a hundred times before. What is the difference now? I think it is the small changes, about a 100 little ones, that have finally made the difference.

The philosphy of small incremental changes towards constant improvement is called “kaisen”.   Toyota, and other companies use this philosophy to reach goals.  Kaisen is where flexibility, simplicity and the quest for constant improvement become the driving goals.   This means that instead of my ultimate goal being the loss of 90 pounds, I changed my goal to focus on the process– on make those constant small improvements every day.  Committing to writing this blog every Friday is a part of that.

Looking back, were are the things I slowly added or changed:

  • I drink 8 cups of water or more a day
  • I save my calories for food and do not drink anything that has calories
  • If given a choice, I buy whole grain products
  • I do not buy bread or bread products.
  • I try eating at least 90g of Protein a day
  • I cleaned out my kitchen and removed all the high fat, high carb items that were too much of a temptation (like peanut butter and high sugar cereals)
  • At night, when I want to snack for no reason, I pick up my knitting instead to keep my hands busy
  • I buy pre-cut, ready to eat vegies and put them in the front of my fridge so they are the first things I see when I open the door.
  • I eat breakfast now to avoid being over hungry at lunch
  • Every week, I try a new healthy food I have never tried before
  • I now eat high protein greek yogurt instead of high fructose corn syrup yogurt

Nothing on this list is earth shattering, and perhaps many of them you have heard before.  But every day, every week, I make a very slight change.   And by keeping my focus on the changes, and not on the scale, I hope to wake up one morning and find that I have achieved a healthy weight.

Have you made a change that has helped you lose weight?  Please comment below and let me know.  I’d love to hear about your success.

To read more about how engineers apply Kaisen: http://www.engineeringtalk.com/news/sod/sod105.html#ixzz1IthyL5u3

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

Healthy Bites with Holly: Sauteed Shrimp with Quinoa

1 Apr

Kwin-no-a”…crud! That’s not right. “Quin-oh-ah…?” No. I am still not saying it right. Well, it’s tough to say, but easy to cook and very, very good for you. It’s called Quinoa, and it is a whole grain that is high in protein, and high in fiber. And as a bonus, it is gluten free, for those of you who have to worry about that.

I have never seen quinoa on a menu in a restaurant, nor heard a commercial extolling it’s virtue. None of my friends have ever cooked it or tried it. How could I live to be 46 years old and never heard of this food before?

Quinoa is a very small seed like grain that looks like sesame seeds. It comes in white or in red. (I bought Eden brand Organic quinoa in white at my local grocery store) A recommended serving size is 1/4 cup dry quinoa, which cooks to about 3/4 cup. The consistency of the cooked quinoa is unique. It is soft and fluffy, but has a firm round feeling in your mouth. They felt like little mini-tapioca pearls.

For my first receipe using quinoa, I created my own dinner receipe. And I was so pleased with the results!

Sauteed Shrimp with Quinoa

(7 Points Plus per serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 1/14 cup of water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 ounces raw shrimp
  • 1 cup broccoli (any vegies you have available will work)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 can of non-fat chicken stock
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Rinse the dry quinoa with cold water a few times. (Tip: my colander had huge holes, so I lined it with a clean cloth, which worked great) In a medium sized sauce pan, bring water to boil. Add the rinsed quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan to medium high (7/8) and add the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper and saute for just a few minutes. Quickly add the shrimp, and “stir fry” the ingredients together. When the shrimp is turned pink/white and loses translucency, add the chicken stock and spices. Stir together.
  3. Check on the quinoa. The water should be absorbed, and the “seeds” round and a little chewy. Dump the cooked quinoa into the pan with the shrimp mixture. Stir together and cover. Reduce heat. Allow the flavors to permeate the quinoa for a few minutes before serving. Makes 4 servings.

So here is what I have discovered: Quinoa is pretty flexible. You can cook quinoa for breakfast, and add sweet things like raisens, brown sugar, fresh fruit. And you can add savory flavors for lunch or dinner, and add a protein, garlic, vegetables. It is nutritious, easy to cook, and can replace any receipe where you would normally use rice. All you need now is how to ask for quinoa at the store. Just ask for “keen-wa”. Ta-da!

For more receipes: http://www.cookingquinoa.net/quinoa-recipes/

Nutritional Information for Quinoa: Calories: 170 Fat: 2.5g cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 0mg Total Carb: 31g Dietary Fiber: 4g Protein: 5g

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

Healthy Bites with Holly: Tofu Smoothies and GIVEAWAY WINNER!

25 Mar

Back in January, when I first started with Weight Watchers, I sat through the introductory talk where they tried to explain to me the importance of what they call “power foods.” Power Foods are “high energy density” foods that have high nutrient content and help satisfy your hunger with relatively lower calories compared to how full you feel after you eat them. In this program, power foods are things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein items. I’ll be honest here and share that I didn’t fully pay attention early on, and had a vague image in my mind of the 1990’s Power Rangers (Go, Go, Power Rangers) and promptly ignored their guidance. Instead, I only focused on staying within my points (I get 40) and kept eating the same kinds of foods that I always ate.

A few weeks later, when my weight loss was less than a half a pound a week for several weigh-ins, I was pretty upset. I was going to the meetings, I was staying within my points, and I was hungry most of the time, which didn’t feel good. But only 0.2 pounds lost? What in the heck was I doing wrong? I had to sort this all out and luckily, after the meeting, the leader was willing to review my food diary for that week. “Hmmm..low cal bread…100 calorie crackers…pasta…white rice…sugar free cookies…” she read out loud as she reviewed my food choices. “You really like those carbs.” I must have had a blank look on my face, so she explained that it was more than just how many points (calories) you eat, that WHAT you eat is just as important. “You need to eat more protein and fiber, and less carbohydrates and fat.” She then patiently reminded me about the power food list and pointed out the low fat protein choices.

Eating more protein has been challenging to me. My natural food choices and likes and dislikes did not include many protein choices. Here are the foods I added easily to my daily diet:

  • Hard boiled Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt (much higher in protein than regular yogurt btw)
  • Low fat cheese (Mozzarella is my personal choice)
  • Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Tuna

Another good source of low fat protein is Tofu. Yuck! I could never understand how anyone ate tofu. It was like rubber to me. I struggled with the consistency, and the lack of flavor. And I didn’t know what do with it, how to cook with it and so I avoided it. But now that I needed to focus on adding more protein, I decided to give it a try. After a little research, I discovered that there are several types of tofu: Silken, Tub or Brick. Tub tofu comes in different thickness or consistencies and is packed in water. Brick tofu is very very firm and can be sliced, crumbled and can even be grilled. But so far, silken tofu is my favorite. It is soft, and a little “runny”. It looks like very very thick sour cream. It has very little flavor, and when mixed with fruit, it makes an awesome smoothie. And for it’s calorie count, it packs a lot of protein in your diet in a good way.

When first making my new protein smoothies, I made a few mistakes along the way. After seeing once of those blender commercials where they show how the high powered blender can make anything taste good, I decided to blend up the following:

  • Flash frozen, no sugar added cherries
  • 6 ounces of Silken Tofu
  • Splash of Soy Milk
  • Two handfuls of raw spinach leaves (yes– that’s right–raw spinach!

I have no idea what I was thinking. It was green, it was thick and it tasted like cow feed. UGGHH! Do not make that smoothie.

My next attempt was much, much better:

  • 1 cup of flash frozen fruit (your choice) without added sugar
  • 6 ounces Silken Tofu
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/2 water (as needed to help blender chop ice)
  • Three packets of artificial sweetener (I prefer Truvia)

Blend this up and you will not be sorry. I really like this in the evening, after dinner, for my dessert. It fills my tummy, and keeps me away from snacking on other less healthy things. And the fresh fruit flavors cannot be beat.

The best news is that once I finally followed the nutritional advice and upped my protein, I had much better weight loss results at the scale. And I am very rarely feeling those hunger pangs I experienced with my high carbohydrate diet. Give tofu a try and blend yourself thin!

Nutritional Information (with flash frozen no sugar added cherries): Calories: 141 Fat: 6g cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 2mg Total Carb: 21g Dietary Fiber: 2g Protein: 8g

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, I know you’ve all been clinging to the edge of your seats for this one: the Sweet Mother Nature Giveaway Winner!!!

According to the Randomizer, our winner is: Amanda!!!!

Congratulations to you, Amanda, and a special thanks to all who participated.

To the winner: expect an email from thefrugalflambe(at)gmail(dot)com within 24 hours- it’ll include the contact info of Sweet Mother Nature, and you can send your address directly to them to get your FREE bag of dried apples! Yummy!

Healthy Bites with Holly: Steel Cut Oats

18 Mar

Happy Friday! My name is Holly, and I am a recovering bad eater. I am a 46 year old empty-nester and in January, I was 90 pounds overweight. It was those damn Christmas holiday pictures that finally pushed me over the edge. I was shocked at how old and tired (not to mention large) I looked and I realized that if I wanted to have enough energy to chase after my 2 year old grandson, I would have to make changes. This isn’t my first time trying to lose weight–all other attempts were intense but short lived. My number one priority is this time around, I need to focus on making changes that I can live with FOREVER. Even if the weight loss is slower.

With this in mind, I started my journey by enrolling in my local Weight Watchers meeting. Keeping myself grounded by weekly weigh ins seemed like a good idea. Weight watchers has a great program, but they allow you A LOT of choices. And my choices in the past have not been that great. I needed to expand my food knowledge and expand my healthy food choices. So I started to research. I bought many of the popular diet books, searched for internet information, and I talked to all the skinny people in my life. I realized quickly that I didn’t have a clue about healthy food. I didn’t know where to buy it, how to identify the healthy stuff, and I certainly didn’t know how to prepare it.

I started slowly with Special K cereal for breakfast, frozen low calorie meals for lunch, and salads for dinner. But after only two weeks of this, I was craving more choices. Now that I was not overeating at night, I found myself ravenous hungry in the mornings. I heard someone talking about steel cut oats, and how filling and nutritious they were. Steel cut oats?? What is that? Well…I learned that steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. The benefits to steel cut vs rolled is that you get more fiber and nutrition that are processed out in the rolled oats. Okay…that sounded pretty easy to add..just boil some oatmeal, and there you go. Off to Costco I went, found a big bag of “Coaches Oats” and ran home to check them out.

I started to panic when I opened the bag. Ummm…it looked like little pieces of chipped wood. NOTHING like oatmeal to me. My stomach started to rebel just from the look of it.

I read the package and was reassured that you could cook this stuff in the microwave in 4 minutes or less. The next morning, I made time to zap me a bowl. 4 short minutes later, I tried to eat it. It was lumpy and it was tough to chew. In short, I hated it with a passion. I was just about to throw the steel cut oats out in the trash, when I happened to mention my experience in the lunchroom at work. One of my co-workers suggested I cook the oats on the stove instead…and for a lot longer than 4 minutes. I wasn’t thrilled with this news. Cooking oats on the stove for 10-15 minutes every morning wasn’t going to happen.

I am happy to report that I have found a way to have my oats and eat them too (every morning) without standing at the stove every morning. I visited my local dollar store, and picked up 8 ounce plastic containers with snug lids. And on Saturday mornings, I boil six cups of water, and 2 cups of oats. I add in 6 packets of artificial sweetener (one for each serving) to make it taste yummy. (You can add more or less, according to your sweet tooth) and I boil the oats for at least 15 minutes. At the 10 minute mark, the oats are very thick, and I add one more cup of water to extend the cooking time. (The longer you cook them, the less chewy they become) .

And finally, in keeping with portion control and being accountable for what I eat, I weigh each portion (1 portion is usually 6.5 ounces-depending on how thick the oats are). My final addition is a handful of organic, flash frozen, no sugar added blueberries to each bowl. And voila! 6 ready to microwave bowls of nutritious goodness for every morning, filled with high fiber, protein, and anti-oxidants. This just might be the most perfect breakfast food on the planet.

My oats are the only the first new thing I have added to my food list. And I am happy to say that it’s been 8 weeks now, and I have consistently lost an average of 1 and half pounds a week. Every week I add something new to my diet…some additions are a great success, and some are total failures. The great news is that I am not bored…and I am learning healthy eating skills that will hopefully carry me to my ultimate weight loss goal of the whole 90 pounds.

Join me here every Friday and let’s continue learning how to eat healthy without your stomach going on strike.

Nutritional Information (without the blueberries): Serving size 1/3 cup dry oats. Calories: 160 Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 10mg Total Carb: 27g Dietary Fiber: 2 Protein: 6g

Holly is the mother of three grown daughters, and has recently embarked on her own journey of weight loss and healthy living. Convinced that the key to her success is smart, but manageable, eating choices, she is now a regular columnist for The Frugal Flambe- you can catch her posts every Friday right here! Join her every week as she shares her triumphs and successes, and maybe a couple of stumbles along the way. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be horrible- Holly can do it, and so can you.

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