Tag Archives: Health

Almond “Breaded” Chicken Tenders

Have you ever had a craving for some good ol’ fashioned chicken strips?? I did the other night, and after scouting out a few recipes I found one that I liked, jazzed it up a bit, and went to town making a healthy version of chicken strips.

Almond “Breaded” Chicken Tenders

Adapted from EatingWell 

  • 1 lb of chicken tenders (or chicken breast, sliced into smaller strips)
  • ¼ cup almost slivers
  • ¼ cup rough chopped roasted almonds
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup Panko crumbs
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Cooking spray



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (this helps with cleanup, I would NOT skip this!). Coat a wire rack with cooking spray and place it on top of the foil-covered baking sheet.

2. Place almonds, flour, Panko crumbs, and spices in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the seasonings are well distributed. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

3. Whisk eggs in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders a few at a time and make sure they are each coated in the egg mixture. Transfer tenders one-by-one to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture after you are done…yuck).

  1. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

These are not fried chicken strips by any means, but they are tasty and an excellent healthy substitute for when the craving hits ya :)

Enjoy!

-Melissa

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WIAW: A Grown Up Kids Meal

Hooray for another WIAW post! I’m just thankful that I remember to take pictures of all of my meals once a week. That is a miracle, my friends.

I decided to spice things up about on the breakfast routine. Usually I enjoy my own version of the McMuffin, but lately I’ve been craving sweet potatoes, so I concocted my own sweet potato hash to accompany my eggs in the morning (recipe coming soon!). It…was…awesome.

I mixed up the hash with one egg and 1/2 cup of egg whites and a touch of cheddar cheese. Yum. Then, it was off to work where I got hungry at the usual 9:45. I snacked on a ThinkThin bar, which is full of protein and tastes delicious. I needed the extra protein to prep for my heavy leg workout that evening. ThinkThin bars are fairly yummy, especially the Creamy Peanut Butter flavor. They contain sugar alcohols, which can upset some stomachs, but for a quick snack they’re perfect.Lunchtime rolled around, and I found myself staring at a protein-less fridge when I came home. Luckily, I had tons of veggies from my Sunday Night Prep, so I mixed those up with a small breakfast sausage (that was supposed to be for my husband…oops…what’s mine is yours, right?), some avocado, and half of a whole-grain English muffin. This turned out to be one of my favorite lunches. The avocado made everything so creamy, and the veggies were super tasty.

My afternoon snack was a fairly big one for me. I knew that I needed to seriously fuel up for my workout, so I went down to the kitchen at work and toasted up the other half of the whole-grain English muffin from lunch, topped it with 1 TBS of Peanut Butter, a banana, and cinnamon. It was delicious, and really helped me get over my afternoon slump.

After my heavy leg workout, I came home and was REALLY in a nostalgic mood. I just had to have chicken fingers and mac’n’cheese. HAD TO. So, I whipped up my own healthy version of chicken fingers, paired it with some Annie’s and green beans and called it a day.

This was definitely a “grown up kids meal” and I loved it. Sometimes you just need a little comfort food :)

What did YOU eat today? Anything that brought back some memories?

Talk to you soon!
-Melissa

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WWG 6.4.12

Weekly Workout Goal time!!! WWG…I like it :)

I didn’t do so hot on my WWG’s last week. I was SO sore from T/W/Th that I took Friday off (which is ok!), but then the weekend got busy and unfortunately T/W/Th were my only workout days. This week will be better though, that’s for sure.

Here are my goals by day. For the week, my goal is to hit 6 out of 7 of these days. I know I need a rest day, but I’m not sure which day will work out best, and I don’t want to plan one just yet.

  • Monday: Boot camp (weights + cardio day)
  • Tuesday: Boot camp (cardio day)
  • Wednesday: Gym (heavy legs)
  • Thursday: Boot camp (weights + cardio day)
  • Friday: Gym (HIIT sprints + upper body weights)
  • Saturday: Boot camp (weights + cardio)
  • Sunday: Gym (heavy legs)

If I take off a day, it will probably be Saturday. Or I may do heavy legs Saturday and take Sunday off. We shall see :)

What are your WWG’s this week?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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WIAW – Memorial Day Weekend Cleansing!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! We are so blessed to live in a country that values personal freedoms, and that we have men and women choosing to fight and lay down their lives for those freedoms.

My weekend was jam-packed, to say the least. It started on my Friday off, when I drove down to Houston to watch one of my best friends and old college roommate graduate from MEDICAL SCHOOL!! That’s right, Sarah became Dr. Sarah. It was such a great moment for her, and I’m so glad I got to be there. It also was a rude awakening, that we had been out of college for 4 years already :(. Ha!

Hey graduate!

What made an amazing moment even MORE amazing, was that as soon as my best friend walked across the stage to graduate, I got a text saying that my precious little niece had been born! I am officially a first-time aunt, and I could NOT be more excited! So, after spending Friday night celebrating Sarah’s awesomeness, I woke up Saturday morning and immediately trucked back up to Dallas to meet sweet Georgia Eve.

She is the most precious gift!

After spending too short of time with my girl, we headed off to Tyler, TX to spend the remainder of the weekend with friends at the lake! Needless to say, as jam-packed as the weekend was, it was FULL of blessings and friendships and I wouldn’t of changed one thing about it!

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Speaking of jam-packed…my weekend was ALSO jam-packed full of unhealthy eating :( Between road trips, celebratory dinners, and meals on the lake, I came home Monday night craving fruit, veggies, and my healthy eating routine. I spent Monday night grocery shopping and food prepping, so when Tuesday rolled around I was ready to go.

Breakfast was amazing, per usual. It is my FAVORITE meal of the whole day. I had my own version of a McMuffin, with one whole wheat english muffin topped with 1 egg and 1/2 cup egg whites (scrambled!). I also added a tiiiny bit of breakfast sausage to give it some extra yummy-ness. Oh, and coffee. Duh!

A few hours later, I was working away and got hungry again (naturally), so I grabbed a Luna Bar. I was SUPER excited about this one: Peanut Honey Pretzel. All of my favorite things rolled into one bar. It was more amazing than I thought it could be. I highly recommend this flavor!!

For lunch, I was able to go home and put together a bowl full of some veggies that my awesome husband grilled for me, and one Al Fresco Chicken Sausage (sun-dried tomato is my favorite!). I topped it off with a little bit of cheddar and I was good to go.

I was still pretty full by the time 4:00 rolled around (heck, I was probably still full from the weekend!), but I knew I needed to grab something to eat before I headed to boot camp, so I snacked on a banana with 1 TBS of PB2
(powdered peanut butter…if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly suggest you do!).

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That snack definitely helped fuel my body for my ridiculously hot, humid, intense, cardio-filled workout. I was DYING the entire hour, but so glad that boot camp has started back up! There is honestly no better workout, in my opinion. But I definitely had to pause a few times to keep that banana down, if you know what I’m sayin’ :).

Due to my near-death experience at boot camp, I wasn’t in the mood to whip up an extravagant dinner by ANY means, so protein smoothie it was! I blended some Advocare Vanilla Meal Replacement Protein, ice, water, 1 banana, 1 TBS PB2, and 1 TBS cocoa until smooth, and slurped that bad boy down. It was so refreshing after the super hot workout.

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So, there you go! That was my first day back to normal eating. I woke up today feeling much better about myself, all after one day of eating well!

What are some ways that you “detox” from a food-filled weekend?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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Heavy Legs + A New Gym

As I mentioned before, I recently joined a new gym, which is kind of a big deal for me. I haven’t been to a gym in over a year; I’ve stuck to my outdoor boot camp in order to get my workouts in. However, I realized that I missed doing heavy lifting workouts. My boot camp has 3 weight days a week, but we do so many reps within the hour that I only use one set of 12’s and that’s it. I missed squats and leg presses with the big kid weights!

Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a weight lifting pro. If anything, I’m a beginner. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy lifting, or aspire to be better at it. So on my first day back at the gym, I eased into things with a fairly basic but VERY effective leg workout.  I based it loosely around Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer, taking out some of her exercises and replacing them with a few of my favorites (such as sit down squats and Bulgarian lunges!).

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See these links for some of the lesser-known exercises:

Believe you me, I am FEELING this one today (2 days later!). Walking up the stairs (and let’s be honest, sitting on the toilet) is killing me. So I guess this means that it worked!

I suckered my husband into going with me on my first day at the new gym. I’m not sure why I get so anxious when it comes to gyms! I’m intimidated or something, I suppose. Either way, I’m over it now thanks to my dragging him with me, and I’m really enjoying the place. I will have to come up with a schedule that fits in both the gym and my boot camps!

Do you incorporate heavy lifting into your weekly workout schedule? How many days a week do you lift?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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Crockpot Chicken Taco Stew

Some of my favorite meals come from crock pots (despite how not-so-easy they can be sometimes :)). They’re fix-it-and-forget-it and they make a TON of meals, so I’m good to go for quite a few lunches and dinners. This week, my husband Preston requested that I make my Chicken Taco Stew, since he was craving something healthy and warm. So, I thought I’d share it with all of you!

Crockpot Chicken Taco Stew
Adapted from Skinny Taste

You will need:

  • 1 white onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 16-oz can black beans (drained slightly)
  • 1 16-oz can pinto beans (drained slightly)
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 12 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 3 bell peppers (I used green, red, and yellow) chopped coarsely
  • 2 14.5-oz cans Rotel tomatoes w/ chilies
  • Several tbs (3-4) of homemade taco seasoning
  • 24 oz of chicken tenders (I feel better using tenders as opposed to breasts…then I know they’ve cooked thoroughly :))
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional!)

What you do:

Throw beans, onion, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.

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Chicken, taken out of the slow cooker to be shredded

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Post-shred process! Just take some forks to it and get to work.

Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro. Stir it all up and enjoy!!

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I like to eat mine just as it is, in a big ol’ bowl with some fresh avocado on top of it. I’ll even stir in some plain Greek yogurt sometimes to give it a more creamy texture. Other options would be to bake up your own tortilla chips to serve with it, or top yummy brown rice with the mixture. The possibilities are endless!

What are some of your favorite recipes from the crockpot?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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DIY Taco Seasoning

JUST SAY NO!!

…to packaged seasonings, that is!

The first time I made my own taco seasoning, I was actually annoyed with myself. Why hadn’t I done this sooner? The ingredients make plenty, it’s way cheaper than buying taco seasoning in the package, and it cuts WAY down on the sodium in your dishes. Win, win…win (subtle reference from The Office, anyone?).

Helpful hint, buy the below ingredients in bulk at your local Whole Foods, Central Market, or Trader Joes (or maybe you’re super lucky, and your neighborhood Kroger or Publix carries bulk spices as well!). It saves money since you aren’t paying for a brand or packaging, plus it’s easier to control how much you’re buying.

Anywho, without further ado, please read the below recipe, create, and repeat.

DIY Taco Seasoning:

1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1/8 cup ground cumin
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs sea salt

Put ingredients into a cute mason jar and shake, shake, shake! I say mason jars (or any jar, for that matter) because the seasoning can seep into plastic containers and stain them, plus I feel like glass jars just hold the freshness better. So trust me, glass jars :) Plus, they’re cute!

***FYI: 3-4 heaping tablespoons of this will equal your average packet of taco seasoning!***

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*Just a note, the ingredients above make MUCH more than what is pictured in my jar. I just use it ALL of the time!

These make great little gifts/stocking stuffers/etc. I poured some of the seasoning into tiny jars for my mom, sister in law, and mother in law, and they loved them!

So, as I said before…just say no! And make your own seasoning today…like, now!

Smile

What are some of your favorite DIY seasonings or spice mixes?

Talk to you soon!

-Melissa

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Crockpots & Tuesday Mornings

My Tuesday morning was entirely too eventful for my liking.

I had the bright idea last night, since crock pots are so easy, that I would just throw stuff in it this morning to make Chicken Taco Chili (recipe later!) and it wouldn’t take me more than, say, 5 minutes.

Ha.

Things always work out so well in my head. Alas, upon waking this morning I realized that I hadn’t chopped ANY of the veggies, and that opening 6 cans with my handheld can opener was going to take more than 5 minutes on its own. Sheesh. So, after chopping peppers and onions and painfully cranking open multiple cans of beans and tomatoes, I finally got everything dumped into the pot in around 15 minutes or so. Then, as I’m taking the chicken out of its bag to throw on top of my veggie/bean/tomato mess, the juice (ick) goes EVERYWHERE. Literally,everywhere. Being the germaphobe (bacteria-phobe?!?) that I am, I spent at least 15 more minutes scrubbing down my counters, hands, and hands again until I was positive there wasn’t e-coli raging throughout my kitchen.

I’m fairly certain there is, which is why I will probably clean it AGAIN tonight.

Needless to say, my crock pot adventure took MUCH longer than expected. But I still made time for my favorite breakfast ever; a whole wheat English muffin topped with cheddar, 1 egg, and plenty of egg whites. Yum.

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After a late arrival to work, I tackled my inbox and assignments until lunchtime rolled around. I live super close to my office (about a 6 minute drive), so I was able to run home today and whip up a yummy lunch of Annie’s mac ‘n cheese, Al Fresco Chicken Sausage, and TONS of veggies from my prep night!

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This may be my new favorite lunch :)

The rest of my day will include finishing up at the office, watching The Bachelorette on my DVR (since my husband will be out and I won’t have to hear him complain), then hitting up a NEW GYM to get my leg workout on! I’m always so anxious to try a new gym…it’s intimidating to me, and I can’t really figure out why. Luckily Preston will be going with me, so hopefully it’ll be less “scary”.

How is your Tuesday going? Does trying out a new gym make you anxious as well, or do you love it?

Talk to you soon!
-Melissa

 

 

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Sunday Night Prep

I’m an odd bird (in more ways than one), but sometimes I actually crave the consistency and routine of the workweek. It is so nice to know what your schedule is going to be (food/exercise-wise, not necessarily while AT work!). So since I can easily plan what and when I’m going to eat during the week, I try to use Sunday nights as my “prep night”. This is usually only for lunches, as dinners are usually prepared by both my husband and I (yes, he’s amazing and helps me cook!) and we can’t ever decide what we want until that day!

My typical lunches while at work consist of one of the following meals:

…I think you’re seeing the trend here. Basically a protein, a whole grain (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup), and veggies. Since I try to bring my lunch 4 out of the 5 workdays (or 3 out of 4 if it’s my Friday off), it’s easier to prep my food all in one night, divide it up into containers, and then just grab and go in the mornings!

Sunday mornings I’ll run to the grocery store and grab the essentials for the week, then come straight home and spend maybe 30 minutes or so on my prepping. That’s IT!

First, I dice up all of my veggies into chunks. My go-to veggies include squash (duh!), zucchini, bell peppers (of ALL colors!), onions, snap peas, carrots, and occasionally broccoli and broccoli slaw. I then throw them in my HUGE wok (thanks, wedding registry!) and sauté away! I try to use as little olive oil as possible, but some is necessary to get a good sear on them! A lot of times I’ll add a little low-sodium soy sauce to give it some flavor (actually, I do this MOST of the time!) The result is a LOT of veggies!

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Next comes the protein! 9 times out of 10, I can sucker my husband into grilling me chicken on the outdoor grill, but this time he was feeling a little under the weather, so I grabbed a rotisserie chicken at the store and he gladly ripped it to shreds for me Smile.

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Next, I boiled a pot of water and cooked up some quinoa (my grain of choice for the week). I usually do about 1.5 cups of dry quinoa to cover 4 meals.

Then…VOILA! All done! I pack it into 4 separate containers, pop them in the fridge, and enjoy the rest of my Sunday!

Some people find it hard to eat the same thing every day for lunch, but to me it helps me stay on track! It’s also nice to not to have to worry about what I’m going to bring. Also, I always leave at least one workday where I can go out with coworkers and eat lunch with them, so as not to be completely anti-social Smile.

A side note: the TONS of vegetables that I sauté are definitely not just used at lunch! Preston and I incorporate them into our dinners too. Check out these yummy veggie tostadas we whipped up for dinner tonight!

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Do you have a “Sunday night prep night” as well? What are some of your favorite bulk meals to whip up?

Until next time!

-Melissa

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The Workout Challenge

In my quest to build up muscle and lower my overall body fat, I decided that I should brainstorm some sort of reward-based system to help me stick to my workout goals. I like rewards. I also like to have accountability with my workouts (hence group boot camp sessions), so I enlisted my husband to join me in this little endeavor. We decided that every week, we would plan what workout we would do each day (gym, boot camp, bike ride, etc), and if we were able to stick to the plan perfectly, then each of us got $10 to put in our “gift pot.” That means that by the end of each month, we could each potentially have $40 in our Gift Pots! Then, we would buy fun gifts for each other out of the money earned. So if I am super diligent and meet my goals EVERY week, then there will be $40 for Preston to use to buy me something special! It motivates us to work out, plus gives us fun money to spend on gifts for each other. Also, there’s a little competition in there to have more money in your pot than your spouse :)

So, I decided to share my workout plan with you guys for EXTRA accountability! Feel free to donate $10 to my Gift Pot as well, if I stick to these goals. Ha.

This week is “off week” for my boot camp, so most of my exercises will have to be at the gym or at home. Since I was out all last week with HORRIBLE allergies, I’m fairly certain that this workout schedule will kick my hiney. Good riddance, hind quarters.  I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted on my progress as the week goes on!

What are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated to workout?

Talk to you guys soon!
-Melissa

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