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Zucchini Lasagna

27 Jun

One of the best things about the blogging community is its infinite amount of inspiration.  There are so many bloggers and countless recipes that the possibilities are truly endless.

This recipe is the love child of two stellar recipes, Lightened-up Lasagna from meals & moves and Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna from Peas and Thank You.

I love the idea of using zucchini in place of noodles for the added nutrition and flavor.  And using cottage cheese in place of ricotta is brilliant since it’s chock full of protein!  I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate protein into my diet.  (Vegetarians; you could even leave out the meat and still be left with a protein rich meal.)

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 zucchini slices into strips, lengthwise
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend.)
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place an oiled skillet over medium heat and cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain fat once the beef is cooked through and add the tomato sauce to the skillet.  Heat thoroughly.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cottage cheese, egg, and parsley through pepper.
  4. Lightly oil a 9×5 loaf pan.  Begin layering your ingredients; start with a single layer of zucchini, then add half the cottage cheese mixture, and half the beef mixture.  Repeat once more and top the final layer with shredded cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble.
What recipes blog-inspired recipes have you created?
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On the Lighter Side: Deviled Eggs

23 Jun

Deviled eggs always remind me of picnics.  When I was a kid, my mom would make them as a special treat to have along with our sandwiches and juice boxes.  We’d eat them on top of a picnic blanket while waiting for the 4th of July fireworks or in the backseat of the car after a fun day at the amusement park.

While I love my mom’s version and they’re great for an occassional treat, I decided to make a lighter version that can be enjoyed more frequently.  In place of mayo, I used protein packed Greek Yogurt which made for an extra creamy filling and a little bit of hummus provided a whole lot of flavor. 

These deviled eggs would be great as a healthy appetizer served before a meal off the grill or as lighter finger food when you have a few friends over.  You could even make a meal out of them, much like Alex and I did.  You and your guests won’t be disappointed.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%)
  • 1 Tbsp hummus
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper and paprika

Directions:

  1. To hard boil the eggs, place them in a saucepan and fill the pan with cold water just until the eggs are covered.  Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.  Leave the cover on for 12 to 14 minutes.  Drain the hot water and dunk the eggs into ice water.  Let them sit in the water until they are cool to the touch.  Peel the eggs.
  2. Slice the eggs lengthwise and place the yolks into a small bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except paprika, to the bowl and mix with a fork.  Fill each egg white with a scoop of filling and dust with paprika.

Do you have food that reminds you of summer time picnics?  Do you like deviled eggs?

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

21 Jun

Without question, the combination of fresh mozzarella, plump tomatoes, and fragrant basil is divine.  Caprese salad is the quintessential summer salad; summer being the peak season for each component.  It is refreshing and satisfying without weighing you down. 

What better recipe to share for the first day of summer than a chicken dish inspired by this delightful salad?   

Caprese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of fresh mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, diced
  • 2 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice chicken breasts open on the side so that a nice, long pocket forms.

Cover the interior of the chicken breast with one tablespoon of pesto.  I used Buitoni.

Next, slice the mozzarella and dice the basil. 

Insert one slice of mozzarella and one tablespoon of basil into each chicken breast.  Season the exterior of the breasts with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Sear the breasts for one minute per side then cook the breasts on a greased baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top each breast with about two tablespoons of tomato sauce.  Cook for another 15 minutes and then top the chicken with a slice or two of mozzarella.  Cook for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

This dish was so flavorful!  The pesto on the interior of the chicken breast added so much to the dish but the true star of the show was the mozzarella.  It was perfect melted both on top and inside the chicken.  I’ll definitely be making this dish again!

Have you ever had caprese salad?  Do you have any derivations from the traditional recipe?

99 Miles to Philly

2 Jun

Last night Alex and I found ourselves in the East Village.  We headed downtown after work to meet up with a potential DJ for the wedding.  I have to say, it’s been nice to explore different neighborhoods due to wedding planning!

A few months ago, Alex went to 99 Miles to Philly with a friend and has been raving about it ever since.  In fact, we’d already agreed that we’d go sometime and last night turned out to be the perfect opportunity.

One of the great foodie accomplishments of Philadelphia is its cheesesteak sandwich.  The simple combination of steak, cheese and grilled onions has won the heart of many, my fiance included.

Before last night, I’d never had a classic Philly cheesesteak and some might argue that I still haven’t.  For one thing, I was still in NYC and another thing is that I ordered my sandwich with chicken.  Regardless, it was still pretty fabulous.

99 Miles to Philly is a small restaurant with limited seating.  It wasn’t an issue for us as it seems they do a lot of business through pick ups and deliveries.  When we walked in, we headed straight to the counter as that is the only place to find a menu. 

They offer three basic starters for a sandwich, steak, chicken, or vegetable.  From there you have the choice of three different cheeses, American, provolone, or Cheez Whiz.  I went with provolone as I’m quite partial to it.  And finally you can add any number of veggie; onions, mushrooms, sweet or hot peppers, etc.  Essentially, you’re building your own Philly cheesesteak.  They also offer a number of side dishes, such as waffle fries, chili, potato salad, etc.

The portions are huge!  The picture above is only half of the sandwich.  The rest was still wrapped up on the right.  I was only able to make it through half and gladly took the second half home for leftovers.

I found the food to be great.  It came out piping hot and full of flavor.  There was plenty of meat and a decent amount of veggies.  I also liked that it wasn’t overflowing with cheese as some places are wont to do.  The service was great; very quick and friendly.  We’ll definitely be back soon!

Have you ever had a real Philly cheesesteak?  What’d you think?

Sights and Bites

27 May

Yesterday morning, as we were getting ready to head to the airport, I got a call from the lovely people at US Airways.  They called to notify me that our flight was delayed an hour.  Boo, I’m not a fan of delays but these things happen and at least we knew before we headed to the airport!

Even though we headed to the airport an hour late, we had some time to kill before our flight.  Alex hit up Dunkin’ Donuts…

… and I decided to take an obnoxious number of self portraits.

I’ve spared you from the bulk of them 😉

After a brief, “one hour” delay, we were on our way to visit with my aunt and grandparents.  The flight was surprisingly smooth and quick, which is all I could have asked for.  I’m an incredibly nervous flyer!

My aunt picked us up from the airport and took us back to her place to serve up lunch.  She had a great spread from Whole Foods of salad, cheese, bread, and fruit.  It had all of my favorite elements and I was in heaven!

After lunch Alex and I took a walk around Old Salem.

Old Salem is a part of Winston-Salem that was once the home to the Moravians that settled in Salem several years ago.  Many of the old buildings and gardens have been preserved.  We were able to walk around and get a feel for life as it used to be.

Naturally, our first stop was to the bakery.

Alex bought a piece of their chocolate pound cake and I bought some strawberry fig preserves.  I can’t wait to dig into the jam once I get home!  We also bought some souvenirs for my family and made friends with the locals.  Being New Yorkers, we’re not used to strangers that are so open and have a tendency to overshare, haha.

We continued on and walked through a good portion of the grounds.

The town has been maintained beautifully.  I loved all the greenery and architecture.  We had a great time walking around but in the end we were ready to head home.  It was so hot out!  We needed to recuperate inside with some water and AC.  It hasn’t gotten this warm in NY yet and we just weren’t ready for it.  But it’s a great sign that summer is just around the corner.  I’m totally ready for that!

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting with my grandparents.  This was the first time they’d met Alex.  They were both thrilled to have Alex and I visit.  I’m glad we were able to make the trip down here as I’m not sure if they’ll be able to make it to our wedding.  So, it’s nice to have some time with them now 🙂

Later in the evening we headed to a cute, little Italian place for dinner.  After browsing through the menu, I decided on the spinach calzone.  I love me some cheesy bread!

The calzone was huge!  I barely made it through half.  But naturally I saved room for some dessert.

This place was very similar to one of my favorites in NYC, 16 handles.  They had a large variety of yogurts to choose from and dozens of toppings!

I didn’t hold back.  I started out with cookies ‘n cream and cake batter ice cream and topped it with Reese’s peanut butter cups, cookie dough, and some Jelly Bellys.

Hmmm, not really in line with my goals but it sure was delicious!  Besides, I’m on vacation; all bets are off.

That about does it for our first day in NC.  Today we’re going to spend some more time visiting with family and I hope to get a tour of the downtown area.  Alex and I love getting a feel for each city we visit and what better way than by foot?  (Haha, I just typed “food” instead of foot.  You know where my mind is!)

Have you ever been to North Carolina?  If so, what part?

Dessert for Breakfast

25 May

I started the day off on the right foot; I had dessert for breakfast.

Looks like a brownie sundae, right?  Well, it’s probably the healthiest sundae I’ve ever eaten.  For the “brownie” part, I made a chocolate protein muffin a la Smoothie Girl Eats Too.  This recipe is seriously great.  The “brownie” always comes out moist and chocolatey!  The only change I made was to add a boatload of cinnamon.  I love that stuff.

Now, the “ice cream” part was none other than greek yogurt ice cream.  I mixed 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt with about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk and 10 drops of vanilla stevia.  Then, I poured the whole mixture over my “brownie”, dressed it with some fresh organic blueberries, and dug in.  This breakfast sure made for a sweet morning.

On the way into work, Alex and I passed a group of Jamba Juice employees passing out new samples of their natural energy drinks.  I ended up with the Pomegranate Blueberry flavor.  The nutrition facts aren’t too bad as the ingredients appear to be real food.  What I don’t love about the stats is the high sugar content.  Most fruit juices have a large amount of sugar.  I usually don’t drink anything besides water, herbal teas, and the occasional glass of wine for that reason.

But, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it.  In truth, I didn’t really like it.  The first sip wasn’t so bad but by the third or fourth sip all I could taste was the sugar.  The drink had a very strong berry flavor and left a strange aftertaste.  I highly doubt I’ll drink it again, even if it’s another free sample.

Moving right along to lunch.  Today I ordered another salad!

Shocking, I know, but seriously salads are such a great way to eat lots of veggies.  And since I’m going away for a few days, I’m not sure how many veggies I’ll be consuming in the near future.  Today’s salad included:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green peas
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Grilled chicken
  • Egg whites
  • Low fat tex mex ranch dressing

It was delicious and protein packed 🙂

When snack time rolled around, I had one thing on my mind.  Another protein muffin.

Seriously.  So good.  Have I mentioned that?!

And I also had some fruit salad…

After work I headed to the gym for another Chisel class.  Tonight’s class was taught by a great instructor.  She’s only a sub so I’m never sure when I’ll get to see her but I’m glad I made her class tonight.  She made us work!

For dinner, I knew I needed something protein packed to refuel and it also had to be quick.  So I made pasta with meat sauce.  It’s the easiest thing to make since PB&J.

First up, I chopped up half an onion and sautéed it over medium heat for about five minutes.  Then I added 1lb organic grass-fed beef and cooked it until the beef browned.  After draining the fat, I added about 1 to 2 cups of tomato sauce and cooked it on low until it was heated all the way through.  Meanwhile I prepared some whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli.  It was ready in less than 20 minutes and it was darn tasty!

Now I’m snacking on a small bowl of Kashi GoLean, almond milk, and blueberries.  I’m heading to bed very soon since we’ve got an extra early wake up call tomorrow!  See you from North Carolina!

Have you ever had dessert for breakfast?

Will you hold me accountable?

23 May

Hello there!  Welcome to another week.  This week is going to fly by for me because I only have to work three days.  Love that.  This Thursday, Alex and I are flying down to North Carolina to visit some of my family.  Then on Saturday, we’re hitting the road to Hilton Head, South Carolina to see some of his family.  It’ll be a whirlwind trip as we’re due back in NYC by Monday evening.  Phew!  I’m looking forward to it and hope to blog a little bit about it on the way 🙂  Do you have any plans for Memorial Day weekend?

Because I’m going to be in and out all week, I thought I’d discuss my daily eats.  I also want to start using the blog as a way to hold myself accountable.  I know I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’d like to lose a little weight before my wedding.  (What bride doesn’t, after all?)  Unfortunately, I’ve found that since I got engaged my weight has been going in the wrong direction.  Now I know that the number on the scale isn’t the best measurement of overall physique.  After all, muscle weighs more than fat.  But I’ve noticed that my clothes are a little tighter and my energy levels are lower.  So, I’m going to work hard to change things up and I hope this will help me stick to it!

My latest challenge has been to cut back on the amount of nutbutter I consume.  I know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats but I think I’ve been over doing it lately.  Changing up the proportions of each micronutrient will help me a lot.  My plan right now is to aim for 30-40% protein, 50-60% carbs, and about 10% fat.  I do not have any support for those numbers besides what’s worked well for my body in the past.  (Please remember that I’m not a nutritionist and am not recommending you do the same.  Be aware of your own body and do what’s best for you.  But please read along as I try to figure what’s best for me!)

Let’s start the day, shall we?

Breakfast

For breakfast I made one of my latest (and greatest) creations.  Greek yogurt ice cream!  I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy for eating “ice cream” for breakfast, but allow me to explain.  What you’ll need is 3/4 cup greek yogurt (I use Fage Total 0%), 2 to 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk, and 10 drops of stevia vanilla.  Mix until all three are well incorporated.  Now taste and tell me that doesn’t taste like ice cream!  On top, I dumped 1/2 cup Kashi GoLean, 1/2 cup Fiber One, and 1/4 organic blueberries.  Yum!

Lunch

Today’s lunch is brought to you by Tossed.  Tossed is a great salad and sandwich place located in midtown.  They have a wide variety of ingredients and a nutritional calculator so you have an idea of your micronutrients.  Very nice.  Today’s salad included:

  • Roasted Chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Apples
  • Bean & Corn Salsa
  • Egg Whites
  • Fat Free Raspberry Vinaigrette

I also munched on a fuji apple that went unpictured.  But I’m guessing you know what an apple looks like 🙂

Snack


Today’s snack was a treat!  I had a chocolate chip protein muffin.  It was just as scrumptious today as the day they were baked.

I also nibbled on a couple handfuls of Kashi GoLean because my stomach was still grumbling.

After completing a full workday, I still had energy to work it out at the gym.  Tonight’s class was Chisel.  I may have mentioned this before, but just in case I didn’t, this class uses weights and calisthenics to sculpt and shape muscles.  Woo hoo!  It was a tough workout and just what I needed.

Dinner


Now dinner is not as in line with my new goals as I would have hoped but I had to clean out the refrigerator since we’ll be gone for a few days.  Besides, a little cheese, bread, and wine never hurt, right?  I think “a little” are the key words there.  Alex and I shared the above plate and had a glass of red wine each.  It’s such a nice indulgence that we both really enjoy 🙂

That’s about all for today.  I might try to find something in the way of fruit for dessert.  Hopefully I’ll find something good!

How do you hold yourself accountable when it comes to healthy eating?  I can use all the help I can get!