Health kick

I’ve been on a serious health kick lately. I really don’t know how these things happen. One day I’m stressed out and eating everything in sight and the next day I’m super happy and healthy. Well, I’ve been happy and healthy for 5 days straight now (is it sad that I’m counting?) and I am loving this feeling!! I think the key for me is to plan to make food I’m truly excited about. Planning insures that I’m not winging some random flavorless meal and also makes me have something to look forward to (because I know what’s coming!).  For example the cheesecake brownies I made yesterday helped me easily say no to dessert after Adam and I had a glass of wine at Church last night, and I was also able to pass by dozens of bakeries on our walk around town today for the same reason. I knew I had a great little healthy-ish treat waiting for me at home so it was all good. With that said, I’ve also been trying to truly listen to my cravings instead of eating “what I’m supposed to” (this mostly implies for snacks). The result? I’ve been eating better than the week prior to that and a lot less cranky :) Lastly this healthy attitude applied even to exercise for me this week. I missed my workouts on Monday and Tuesday but instead of obsessing over that, I just let it go and made sure to add a few extra minutes on Wednesday-Saturday (I still haven’t gone to the gym today… hopefully I’ll make it there, but if I don’t, I’m sure that means I’ll be doing something else productive like planning for the week ahead and that’s important too!). I attempted to go for a 6 mile run on Saturday but quickly got bored and unmotivated. Instead of beating myself up and trying to talk myself into finishing “what I planned” I ran half-way to my destination (3 miles), took a little break and then ran another 1/2 mile up hill (man that was tough!) and finally finished my workout by jumping on an elliptical at my gym at home for 20 minutes. I worked up a sweat, burnt a lot of calories and felt great afterwords. That’s all I can ask of myself!

Anyways, this intro got a little too long. I have Friday’s eats for you! Friday was such a wonderful (eating) day that despite it being Sunday already, I want to share it with you. Hope your weekend was lovely. Mine definitely was :)

Breakfast started with a great bowl of PB&J oats. I’ve made a variation of this combo before but I think Friday’s oats were the best thus far (thank you, Inna, for reminding me of PB&J oats :) ). In the bowl: 1/2 cup rolled oats made with 1/2 cup of vanilla soy milk, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 banana + a handful of dried blueberries… topped with 1T of Jiff’s natural pb (I really like it! It’s like Barney Butter but with peanuts… nice and smooth) + 1T berry fruit spread (I forget the brand name and am too lazy to get off the couch right now to check ;) ) I love how gooey nut butters get when you top them over warm oatmeal. This was nice and sweet, like dessert for breakfast. Yum!

pb&j oats

the perfect bite

[403 calories]

Since I didn’t make a real dinner on Thurday, there were no leftovers to take for lunch. I know some people hate leftovers but most of the times I really like them (the times when the meal is delicious) because I don’t have to think about lunch – it’s already pretty much pre-made for me. Well, we were running low on groceries and I really didn’t want a random uninspired salad, but after a quick brainstorm I came up with this little combo: chicken quesadilla (used 2 TJ’s low carb whole wheat flour tortillas, 2 oz grilled chicken + 1oz Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar, all toasted in a toaster oven at work) + veggies on the side. It was SO satisfying. This was a great lunch!

chicken quesadilla with baby carrots + grape tomatoes on the side

mmm queso :)

[330 calories]

Mid-afternoon I decided to make Friday a Cookie Friday, just like Tina :) Good call! I was a happy bee for the rest of the work day, despite the fact that I had to work a little late :evil:

Paradise Bakery cookie + coffee

choc chip cookie closeup

[326 calories, incl. coffee]

For dinner I’ve decided to use some more of the Gimme Lean sausage I had left since making this dish. I fooled my husband once into thinking this was real sausage. This time I decided to go with Ellie Krieger’s recipe for beef and bulgur stuffed zucchini, subbing Gimme Lean sausage for beef. I saw her make this on her show a few weeks ago, and it looked like the perfect way to use up some of that “sausage” (and it did work quite well). Hollowing the zucchini was kind of fun! I was in a very relaxed mood so I found it almost therapeutic… I don’t, however, suggest making this dish when you’re in a hurry or very hungry. On Friday I was taking my time (munched on a few unpictured cashews to tide my hunger) and giggling at pretty zucchini balls I was making. Don’t they look cool?

hollowed zucchini

Here is the final dish.

stuffed zucchini

[223 calories]

I found this meal to be pretty creative in its form (de-constructed I guess it’s just bulgur, beef and zucchini with tomato sauce). It was fun; I enjoyed making and eating it, but I’d say it wasn’t mind blowing amazing. I will not be saving this recipe for future use. I like to be truly excited about what I’m eating!

Dinner was super low in calories (although VERY filling) so after a little while I got hungry again and I munched on this Kashi chocolate coconut bar + an unpictured pistachioats cookie and an apple (not all eaten at once – we went to bed very late).

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[120 calories + 146 calories for the cookie with apple]

Total calories eaten: 1643

Oh and last thing I did want to mention is that I was listening to Jillian Michael’s podcast today and she said they brought Daniel from season 7 of the Biggest Loser back to the ranch for season 8. I think that’s SO cool! The kid lost over 100 lbs already but definitely needs to lose more. I’m very happy that the producers did this. Any other fans of the show? I can’t wait for the next season… it’s totally one of my guilty pleasures!  All right all right, I think that will do it for this post! “See you” later :D

Dreaming of cheesecake

After writing this post last night right before going to bed, I was literally dreaming of cheesecake all night long. I woke up, of course, craving cheesecake like crazy! I had no choice but to make some ;) Instead of boring you and my test buds with the same recipe, this time I made some cheesecake brownies. Two of my loves – cheesecake and brownies combined in one recipe, I was giddy like a little kid on Christmas morning while making these! I used this recipe from Cooking Light for peppermint cheesecake brownies, but didn’t use the peppermint extract. I like peppermint but I was craving plain cheesecake this time. My friend Katie has used this recipe in the past (I blogged about trying it here) so I knew this was a good one. And I’m happy to say that mine came out just as well. I don’t think I’m ever buying cheesecake ever again, knowing how easy it is to make the lighter versions at home. :D

Would you like to see some progress pics? Ok, since you asked so nicely ;)

BROWNIE BATTER

* I recommend making that first if you’re using a Kitchen Aid to beat everything (saves you one bowl to clean since you can just transfer the finished batter straight to the pan you’ll bake it in)

Brownie batter ingredients:

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Combine the dry ingredients…

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Combine the wet ingredients and beat them with a mixer…

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Add the dry into the wet…

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Brownie batter done! Pour it into your baking pan…

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Oh and don’t forget to save 1/2 cup of brownie batter for the top! :)

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CHEESECAKE BATTER

All the ingredients (yup, it’s that simple!):

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Beat all ingredients with a mixer, starting with room temperature cream cheese, and adding sugar, eggs, then flour (one by one)…

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Cheesecake batter done! It was a bit runny and I was concerned but after sneaking a little test taste I knew this was a winner :)

COMBINE THE TWO AND BAKE!

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Pretty swirls :D

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Doesn’t it looks like art? :) Here it is after baking…

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And cut into slices… I divided this into 12 pieces (some triangular, some rectangular) although you can cut it up to 16 (that’s Cooking Light’s suggestion). I like slightly larger pieces because this way I’m truly satisfied and only eat 1 piece instead of going for a second one because “they’re small.”

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I had this last guy for dessert with lunch (which I kept extra light knowing I had a special treat!). Oh yeah, these are awesome! I’m a proud cheesecake brownie mama ;) What’s your favorite dessert?

Making honey yogurt cheesecake bars

I promised a separate post of the honey yogurt cheesecake bars I made for my birthday dinner last Saturday, and here it is. In case you were too lazy busy to click the link to my previous post, I’ll mention again that I used this recipe (and Ashley, again, you are a genius!). They were a great success at my dinner party and I’m going to admit that I had a few too many the day after. The leftovers didn’t last long! :)

So cheesecake, at least to me, sounded like an intimidating project but I was really craving it and decided to take on this challenge. Apparently, making cheesecake is a piece of cake. Ha, I didn’t even mean to make this pun :D So here are some progress pics, to give you a little courage to make your own cheesecake. This recipe is a really good one… and it’s healthy too!

All the ingredients:

all cheesecake ingredients

Make some graham cracker crumbs (I used about 7 cracker sheets to make 1 cup of crumbs)…

graham crackers in a food processor

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Combine crumbs with oil and honey (+ cinnamon if you want – I didn’t use any)…

combine crumbs with oil and honey

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Press into a greased pan…

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Than bake for 8 minutes. Yummy crust, great start :)

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The filling… mix cream cheese, honey and maple syrup (I used 2T honey, 2T maple syrup instead of 1/2 c honey in the recipe). *Make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature – it makes it easier to beat*

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Beat 1 egg + 1 egg white into the mixture until well blended…

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I was getting excited when I saw the pretty whisk peaks :D

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Add greek yogurt…

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+ vanilla extract…

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The filling is done! Now top the graham cracker crust and bake.

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Post baking and cooling…

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And cut into pieces and served to my guests…

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Mmm, cheesecake!

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The whole recipe (based on the ingredients I used) is 2,315 calories. I cut this into approx. 10 bars of a decent size.  This cheesecake was so incredibly creamy and rich and oh…. I seriously can’t get it out of my mind. I keep craving the stuff! There may be more cheesecake in my life in the very near future ;) I highly, highly recomend this recipe!

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