A Healthy & Happy End to Summer

Image result for end of summer bbqSummer’s (sadly) coming to a close. I’m sure by now you think you have it all figured out and can throw the best BBQ party anyone has ever been to. However, I’m willing to bet there are many things you haven’t even thought of when it comes to hosting a healthy feast for your family & friends. In this post, I’ll give you some of my tips as well as some healthy ideas to end the summer of 2016 with a bang! Let’s get started!

One of my favorite ways to cook is on the grill. I wish that I lived in a climate that made this possible year-round but since I don’t right now…I’m stuck with it being summer only. Grilling gives everything such amazing flavor and it’s super easy for prep and clean-up. When people think of BBQ, they typically think of burgers and hot dogs BUT there are so many more options! You can make chicken, turkey burgers, vegetables, fish…virtually anything your heart desires. You can also use this BBQ time as meal prep for your week ahead. Grill some extra meats and you will be set for the entire week! The best advice I can give anyone when preparing for a Labor Day BBQ…or any get together – spend a little extra time planning the menu. Think of your guests and what they like…but also think of healthy options. Make your list, check local sales, and head to the store for those items. By being a little prepared, you will end up being a lot less stressed and your entire event will run much smoother.

In addition to the grill, you will need to think of snacks. One great option to pair with platters of chips, pretzels, & crudités is Chobani Mezé Dip™. Mezé Dips™ are made from Greek yogurt and real vegetables with only natural, non-GMO ingredients and no artificial flavors or preservatives. They come in flavors such as Roasted Red Pepper, Chili Lime, Three Pepper Salsa, and Smoked Onion Parmesan. Best of all, they are low in calories and good for you! Try that instead of traditional dip or hummus this weekend 🙂

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As far as side dishes go, have your guests bring something they love. This will keep everyone involved and cut down on your own prep time…and expenses.

Now then…the drinks. I’ve written about this in a previous post however this is such a common diet buster at get-togethers…it’s worth mentioning again. You have to be smart about it. Enjoy a light beer or skinny cocktail but save the calories for the delicious food instead. Trust me, you won’t regret that choice!

Lastly, and my least favorite – cleaning up. The best part of a BBQ party is how low maintenance it all really is. Head to your local Dollar Tree or dollar store and stock up on paper goods – tablecloth, napkins, plates, utensils, cups – get it all. While you’re there, get a few bowls and aluminum tins as well. When the party is over, you can throw everything away!! The only clean up required will be your grill (and putting away any leftovers, of course).

No matter where you go or what you do this weekend, make sure to enjoy every second. Life is too short to spend it unhappy. Stay safe  & stay healthy everyone!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

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Summertime Shred Recipes

The first week of my Summertime Shred is in the books!! While I may be loosely following a workout plan from Bodybuilding.com, I decided to create my own meal plan for this 6-week shred. After the last shred I did in 2014, I couldn’t deal with the crazy restrictions. No more poverty macros and minimal calories for this girl! I created a flexible diet plan which is high in protein and doesn’t leave me hungry every night. I’ve also come up with a few amazing recipes that are sure to jazz up even the strictest diet. Whether you are following along with my shred or just looking for some healthy recipes, these will satisfy even your toughest critic. Best of all? You can make them all in 30 minutes or less! Check them out and let me know what you think!

 

Chili-Lime Chicken Burgers

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*This recipe can be used for tilapia as well. Just coat the fish with lime juice first then add seasonings before placing in a grill pan.*

  • 1 pound/package of ground chicken (I use Perdue)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or more if you prefer things spicier)
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • parsley, optional
  1. Combine spices and ground chicken together. Divide meat into 4 parts  and create burger patties.
  2. Lightly coat the bottom of a grill pan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Place burgers in pan.
  3. Cook each side until brown (approx 5-8 min per side), then lower heat to medium and cover.
  4. Continue to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
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Chili-Lime Tilapia

Butternut Squash Soup

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*This recipe is for 1 serving…and is absolutely perfect for a quick meal! I roast the squash ahead of time using a little cinnamon and black pepper. I place in a container and portion it out for the week. However, if you used the entire batch, it would serve at least 4. You will have to add more liquid, accordingly.*

  • 1 cup of cut butternut squash (I use Trader Joe’s pre-cut variety)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cashew or coconut milk
  1. In a blender (or magic bullet), combine squash and 1/2 cup of milk. Blend until creamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine blended squash with remaining milk. Heat on medium and stir. Continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until heated through.
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Roasted Butternut Squash

 

Turkey Chili

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*I’ve posted this before, but it’s so good that it’s worth posting again 🙂 I serve mine over brown rice but you can enjoy a nice, hearty bowl of this chili without the rice and it will taste just as good!*

  • 1 pound/package of ground turkey
  • 1/2 can of diced tomatoes (approx. 7 oz)
  • 1/4 cup of frozen bell pepper strips
  • chili powder
  • parsley
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  1. In a large saucepan with a little olive oil (to coat the bottom of pan), combine turkey and spices. Cook on medium high heat and brown evenly.
  2. Add diced tomatoes & peppers as well as hot sauce, if you choose. Add a 1/4 cup of water and lower heat to simmer.
  3. Cover & continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Serve over brown rice (optional) and top with your favorite cheese.

 

Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

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*Serves 1 – to serve more, use additional potatoes.*

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled
  • cinnamon/black pepper, to taste
  1. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut sweet potato length-wise into strips. Place strips on cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

 

Have suggestions for what I should cook up next? Email me at TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com and let me know!

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina

Game Day Essentials

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One of the hardest things about being on a weight loss journey is learning to make healthy choices with food. Whether it’s a simple dinner at a restaurant or a celebration it can be really hard to make smart choices with so many temptations in front of you. It can be especially hard while watching sporting events. I was reminded of just this with the Superbowl this weekend. I read somewhere that the average person consumes 5,000 calories during the big game. 5,000. That’s insane! We are all working way too hard on our fitness and/or health goals for that nonsense. I have come up with several healthy alternatives to typical Superbowl snacks. Try them out and let me know what you think!

Buffalo Chicken:  You can’t really have a Superbowl party or watch any sports without buffalo chicken. The normal version is deep fried chicken wings/tenders. Well…not mine. I have two different ways to give the same feel…with a fraction of the calories.

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For the wings, I marinate the wings in the sauce early in the day. Then about 1-2 hours before kickoff I get them going in an oven on 375. I take care to flip often so they are evenly cooked. Then about 30 minutes before I take them out I turn the oven up to 450 and let them crisp up. The wings pictured are BBQ and Buffalo flavored. I also make boneless version of this. I marinate the chicken in buffalo sauce then using a regular grill pan, I cook the chicken breast on the stove. Once it’s cooked, I pour a little more sauce on top before serving. The key is also to making your own buffalo sauce. Hot sauce contains a lot of sodium so the key is to marinate the chicken and let the excess drip off. I also don’t put a lot of butter in my sauce. This weekend, I used a butter alternative but if that is not available to you, use one pat of the real deal and that’s it. Butter is only used to make the sauce coat the chicken better anyway. Add pepper, parsley, and other seasonings to your taste thereafter.

Mac N Cheese: I LOVE mac n cheese but let’s be honest – it’s not the best for the waistline. Now, all pasta will contain the carbs but I have found a way to make the cheese sauce a lot less fattening.

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I use whole wheat pasta to start then in a separate pot I combine fat free american cheese and a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cashew milk. Yes, cashew milk. I have become a HUGE fan of that stuff…it is super creamy and I swear it makes everything taste better. I also mixed in a sprinkle of shredded cheese to thicken it up a bit, rather than using flour, and I added a little black pepper and parsley. The result was incredible!

Dips: This may be one of the biggest killers at a party. You just mindlessly dip the assortment of snacks as you watch the game…ignoring the crazy amount of calories consumed. You can make your own dip by subbing out the sour cream for Greek yogurt…or you can avoid it altogether, as I did. I made hummus and guacamole. Both contain the essential good fat and taste great.

Next time you host a party or attend a sporting event, do your best to make healthy choices. While it’s okay to indulge from time to time, it’s important to not go so far overboard that you ruin all of your hard work. There are always better alternatives available so it’s up to you to be strong and actually take them. Remember your goals and keep your eye on the prize – it will make the decision to be healthy that much easier.

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

Gina
TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

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I’m not usually into meatless alternatives. I may not eat red meat…but I DO like my poultry and fish. However, this made me a believer!

I was given Textured Soy Protein. I had no idea what that was or what to make with it so I went to Google. When I saw this pop up from AllRecipes.com, I knew I had to give it a try! As per usual with me, I put my own spin on it to adapt to my own liking and health needs. Feel free to do the same – and let me know what you think! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ❤

Vegan Stuffed Peppers
Serves 1

Ingredients:
2 tbsp brown rice (uncooked)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup soy or vegetable protein
1 bell pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt & pepper, to taste
**I also topped mine with a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese. To make this totally vegan, use a soy or vegan cheese alternative.

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, add rice and water on medium heat. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
2. While the rice cooks, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep cookie sheet or baking dish with foil. Seed and cut bell pepper (length-wise.) Place pepper on covered dish/sheet and set aside.
3. In a medium pot add oil, protein, and parsley on medium heat. Stir in tomato sauce. Let simmer.
4. Add semi-cooked rice to protein mixture along with salt & pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
5. Spoon protein/rice mixture into each pepper half. Cover with foil and place in oven for 40 minutes.
6. Remove foil and sprinkle cheese on top. Cook for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
7. Remove from oven. Serve and enjoy!

Gather ‘Round the Dinner Table

Dinner just may be my favorite meal of the day. There’s so many options and so many different foods to enjoy. Being on the #Whole30 diet hasn’t changed that. In fact, I’m learning to appreciate the beauty in all of the colorful foods that are compliant on this diet 🙂

I try to make enough at dinner to yield me leftovers at lunch. If that isn’t possible, I usually make my lunch while I’m making dinner to save time. Since grains are not allowed and I’ve been eating sweet potatoes earlier in the day, dinner always consists of a protein and vegetables. A lot of vegetables. I have also been on a balsamic kick since starting this diet. I had no idea that you could use it to make SO many things taste amazing!

As with my breakfast plan, these recipes all serve one but I am more than willing to assist you in making these recipes work for you and your family.

Tilapia Bruschetta
1-4 oz. Tilapia filet
1/2 can of diced tomatoes
Italian seasoning
Black pepper
Paprika
Pinch of salt
Crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic powder
Parsley

  • Begin by drizzling olive oil in a small pan; heat on medium-high
  • Season tilapia with pinch of salt, black pepper (to taste), a drizzle of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of paprika for color.
  • Place in pan.
  • Cook for 5 minutes then flip for another 5.
  • While that cooks, grab a small pot. Place diced tomatoes, pinch of salt, red pepper flakes (to taste), and Italian seasoning in pot and place over medium heat.
  • Remove fish from pan and top with sauce. Serve alongside your favorite veggies and enjoy 🙂
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Tilapia Over Italian Stirfry

*I make this all the time. When I’m not doing the #Whole30 I place fish over brown rice and serve with asparagus.*

Balsamic Glazed Chicken Cutlets
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1- pound (or a package) of chicken cutlets (or a 4 oz. chicken breast)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt

  • Begin by drizzling olive oil into a grill pan and placing on medium-high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.
  • Place chicken into pan and season the other side.
  • Cook for about 5-7 minutes (for the cutlets; about 10-15 if it’s a whole breast) and flip. Cook through.
  • Once chicken is just about done, add balsamic vinegar. Flip chicken to completely coat. Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from pan and serve over salad or alongside your favorite veggies!

Grilled Eggplant
*this recipe can serve 4…or yields many leftovers!*

1-medium eggplant
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Black pepper, to taste
Pinch of salt

  • Begin by peeling the eggplant and slicing into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  • Drizzle olive oil into a grill pan and heat on medium.
  • Season eggplant slices with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
  • Place slices in pan, seasoned side down. Season the other side. Cook for approximately 5-7 minutes and flip. Cook through and remove from pan.
  • Continue this until all eggplant slices are cooked.
  • Serve alongside other veggies or as a side dish with chicken. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash:
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1- medium spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Pinch of salt
Black pepper, to taste

  • Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees and lining a baking sheet with foil.
  • Slice the squash length-wise; scoop seeds out of middle and discard.
  • drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place both halves cut side down onto baking sheet and place in oven.
  • Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until fork tender.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Using a fork, shred the inside of the squash, making “spaghetti”
  • Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Sides:

Brussel Sprouts:
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These have a terrible stigma. I saw a bag of frozen sprouts in Trader Joe’s for only $1 so I took a chance….and it changed my life. They are phenomenal! Here’s how I cook mine:

1/2 bag of frozen sprouts
pinch of salt
black pepper
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
drizzle of olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees; cover baking sheet with foil.
  • Place sprouts on sheet; season with salt and pepper and drizzle the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss to coat evenly.
  • Bake sprouts for approximately 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • Remove from tray and serve alongside chicken or other veggies

Kale Chips:
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1/3 bag of kale (I use the one from Trader Joe’s)
Olive oil
Pinch of salt
Black pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Spread kale onto baking sheet. Drzzle with oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Serve as a snack or alongside your favorite protein dish.
    **I tend to use frozen veggies most often but frozen kale WILL NOT work for this. Trust me…its not pretty.**

String Beans: These are an absolute staple for me. Since being on this diet, I’ve eaten them every day for lunch and many times I also eat them for dinner. They are extremely versatile and I prepare them in many different ways. Some examples of this are: balsamic glazed, steamed and seasoned simply, and Italian style (with diced tomatoes). Typically I buy a bag of frozen whole green beans and go from there. They take hardly any time to cook and are delicious!

Italian stir fry: I wrote a blog on this a couple of months ago however it’s worth mentioning. I basically call anything with zucchini and tomatoes my Italian stirfry 🙂 Depending on what I have available, I add things such as peppers, mushrooms, and diced eggplant to that mix. This is a quick and tasty addition to your dinner table.

I hope this has been helpful. I will continue to post new recipes as they come to me. This diet isn’t easy and it may eliminate many of your favorite foods. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate flavor. Spice things up and make them look pretty and you won’t even miss some of that other stuff 🙂

Stay strong & stay in the fight!

-Gina

TheFight2BeFit@gmail.com

Soothe your Soul

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! I am finally starting to feel like myself again, after being out of commission all week with a bad throat infection and a mild case of bronchitis.

I don’t do well with sitting still so I’ve been climbing the walls. Obviously being so sick meant no working out this week…and it also meant no food shopping. My stock was running so low! I finally made it out to Trader Joe’s yesterday and I can FINALLY begin my quest on the Whole 30 diet this week

Anyway, with a low food supply I had to make do with what I had…but I managed to create a healthy, delicious soup…and it may even cure what ails ya! This soup is inexpensive to make and you can make it to your personal preference. For example, I used chicken broth but you can certainly sub that out for vegetable stock if you prefer. Make it for yourself or for a loved one. Enjoy the rest of this 3-day weekend everyone 🙂

Pastina Kale Soup

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Ingredients:
-1 can chicken broth (or 2 cups) (I use Swanson 100% natural)
-1 can (or 2 cups) of water
-1/4 cup pastina (any small pasta will work)
-1/2 cup kale (I used frozen but use what you have!)
-Pinch of salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder
-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:
-In a small pot, add chicken broth and water along with seasonings. Bring to a rapid boil.
-Add pastina. Stir until broth boils again. Add kale.
-Cook for approx 6 min. Carefully drain most of the broth into a container. Add the rest along with pastina and kale to a bowl.
-Top with some grated cheese and enjoy 🙂