3/28/09

Crockpot and Panini Maker

If you don't have a crockpot...go get one! Right next to our Panini maker, the crock pot is one of our favorite kitchen gadgets!
All credit goes to Karel for the first recipe because he made thie meal in our crockpot. The second recipe is vegetarian friendly and one I am sure EVERYONE can enjoy...PB&J panini! Enjoy!

Chicke Cacciatore with Veggies
Ingredients:
Chicken breasts
Potato
Peas
Garlic
Carrots
Onions
Can of Sloppy Joes sauce
Tomato sauce
Seasoning soup mix (watch sodim when adding seasonings)
Pepper
Parsley

Throw everything in the crockpot and cook for 6 hours and viola!








Beer for prep...and dinner




PB&J Bagel Panini

1 whole grain bagel (less than 240 calories)
1 tbsp natural skippy peanut butter
1-2 tbsp low sugar strawberry jelly
1-2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sliced almonds
dash of cinnamon


Turn on Panini maker to medium heat. Spread PB on 1 side bagel and 1-2 tbsp jelly on other side of bagel (the jelly side will lay down on the bottom of the panini maker and the PB side will be on top. Put a dash of cinnamon on jelly. Sprinkle raisins and almonds on jelly (bottom of the bagel) and close sandwich with PB side of bagel.
Cook on panini for a few minutes.
YUM! I recommend 8 ounces yogurt (I like vanilla) with this sandwich.
I love making PB&J for our road trips..a yummy filling meal ;)

3/27/09

Recipe!

I thought I would take a break from questions (more to come next week!) and post a few meals that I have created in the past week. Enjoy!

Healthy Pot Pie

I was feeling a little creative the other day. I wanted to use a package of reduced fat croissant rolls that I have had in the fridge for a while. Usually I use the dough for croissants w/ jelly but this time I wanted to make a meal for Karel.
I thought about doing a croissant bread pizza but I've done that before. So I made this recipe up as I went along. You can use whatever lean meat you choose for the inside and for my vegeterians you can use veggie meat or tofu.

Ingredients:
*1 package reduced fat pillsbury (or generic brand) croissants (usually by the eggs and cream cheese in the grocery)
*1 cup low sodium vegetable soup
*Lean meat (I used 96% fat-free, low sodium Deli Ham for Karel)
*Veggies: Chickpeas,peas, corn (about 1/4-1/3 cup of each. You can use frozen veggies. Beans can be substituted for chickpeas)
*1-2 clove garlic (chopped)
*Cheese
*1 tbsp. Olive Oil
*Seasonings: Cayenne pepper, chili flakes, pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cook veggie mixture and garlic(you can use whatever veggies you want) on a non-stick pan w/ 1 tbsp. olive oil. Cook on medium heat for about 10 min. (stir occasionally). Turn off heat and add lean deli meat or tofu).
3) After draining soup from can, pour 1 cup of vegetable soup in veggie mixture. Stir in soup. Add seasonings (cayenne pepper, chili flakes and pepper). Leave pan covered.
4) Open croissants and use 3/4ths of the package. DO NOT roll out the dough!
5) Spray a cooking pan w/ Pam (2-3 quick sprays).
6) Lay dough on pan. Use fingers tips and palm of hand to spread out dough. You may want to spray you hands with Pam (1 squirt) to prevent dough from sticking (take off your rings!).
7) Cut dough in half.
8) Slowly spoon veggie mixtur/soup mixture on the middle of the dough until most of the dough is covered.
9) Top w/ 1 slice cheese (or 1/8 cup shredded cheese)
10) Use other piece of dough to cover veggie mixture. Press down edges with fork.
11) Bake for 10-15 min or until the bottom gets a little brown and top feels firm. If your oven has a broil setting, switch to broil after 10-15 min and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes until top is slightly brown.







Croissants

Since I didn't use the entire package of croissants, in order to save calories (yes-Karel ate the entire pot pie and asked if that was it...even with a large fruit, veggie and nut dark green salad.) I wanted to use the rest of the dough for desert. You can use whatever low sugar or sugar free jelly you want (I like grape and strawberry. Smuckers makes a reduced sugar strawberry jelly in a squeezable container which is a bit cheaper than the jar of low sugar jelly). I added nuts and dark chocolate chips ontop of the jelly. You fold the croissant from the bottom part of the triangle toward the pointed top.
I cooked the jelly-filled croissants at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Check around 10 minutes so that you don't burn your croissants. You will know they are ready when the top is golden brown. The jelly may run out when the croissant is finished cooking. I had a little extra dough so I made a nice breadstick that I snacked on with my dinner salad.
Enjoy!
*Who said that healthy eating has to be boring???



3/25/09

Snacks!

Here is another great question from a blog reader...

QUESTION:
I have a generally good idea of what I should be eating on a daily basis - hot cereal in the morning and a balanced lunch and dinner. Where I struggle is in the snack department. I wouldn't say I eat copious amounts of unhealthy snacks, rather the problem is that I don't snack too much at all. I think this is leading to me overeating on my lunch and dinner. If I have fruit I just wind up feeling hungry again so that isn't helping. I know I need to add protein in, but I need some help getting creative with my snacks. For awhile I was eating an apple with natural peanut butter all the time…but that got boring and I quickly dropped that practice. Any suggestions on how to keep things interesting, healthy and satisfying all at the same time?

ANSWER
I can't tell you how many people email me regarding snack ideas. In my opinion, a snack is useful to keep the blood sugar stable. So many times people forget about snacks because meals are over-portioned or too high in fat and there is no desire to snack. Although this may seem like a good thing because you are not eating calories between meals, there is a greater chance that a missed snack will add calories later in the day.
Since Americans LOVE to eat meals (hence why portions are so big), my idea of a filling and healthy snack is a mini meal. I don't find that a piece of fruit is a good snack. Sure, you can have fruit for snacks but an apple or grapes for a snack will leave you hungry and starved well-before dinner.
I recommend that all snacks have a combination of carbs and protein. Instead of choosing bars which lead you to believe that you are receiving a great amount of protein, choose quality protein sources which provide your body with essential amino acids that your body can use for repair. Most protein in packaged food is broken down several times during digestion and that 20g protein bar may give you 5g by the time you are done processing it. However, eggs, milk, whey protein, cottage cheese and beans have a great higher biological value of protein compared to boxed and packaged foods.
Be sure your carbs are complex and high in fiber or whole grains. Avoid sugary cereals if you are choosing to top your yogurt off with cereal. Avoid white bread, even if you are getting 45 calories per slice. Nature's Own Double fiber bread has 50 calories per slice, 5 grams fiber, 1g sugar and 4grams protein!
I recommend that your snack is around 125-250 calories, depending on how many snacks you are eating between meals. If you are a routined person, who eats meals at the same time every day, I recommend around 200-250 calories for your snack in order to keep you satisfied between meals. If you rarely know when you will eat lunch or dinner, work out at lunch time or mid-morning/mid-afternoon, or go more than 5 hours between meals, I recommend having 1 x 125-150 snack every 2-3hours, so that you are snacking twice between meals. I always recommend a small protein or fiber snack (around 50-75 calories) around 15-30 min before a meal to prevent overeating, but having a healthy snack every few hours will keep your metabolism going and blood sugar stable.

*Before I give my snack options, always be sure that you are drinking plenty of water during the day. We tend to eat when we are thirsty so always have a big glass of water before, during and after meals. Carry two sport water bottles (around 20-24 ounces) of water with you at all times during the day.

Here are some of my snack ideas (mix and match to give you the calories you need to keep you satisfied between meals:

*1 Wasa cracker w/ 1/2-1 tbsp natural PB and 3-4 slices of banana
*1 Wasa cracker w/ 1 tbsp. whipped cream cheese w/ 4-5 almonds
*60-80 calorie low fat yogurt w/ 1/4 cup dry cereal/granola
*60-80 calorie low fat yogurt w/ sliced fruit (2-3 pieces of small fruit, sliced)
*100 calorie bag of popcorn w/ seasonings (cayenne pepper, pepper, chopped garlic, paremesean cheese, etc.)
*1/4 cup fat-free or reduced fat cottage cheese w/ sliced almonds, cinnamon and raisins
*1/4 cup fat-free or reduced fat cottage cheese w/ 1/4 cup canned fruit (rinse and drain fruit before using)
*1 sugar free/fat free chocolate pudding w/ 1/4 cup trail mix or granola
*1 slice high fiber bread (Nature's Own) w/ 1 tbsp PB and 1 tbsp low sugar jelly (open face sandwich)
*1 slice high fiber bread (Nature's Own) w/ 1-2 thin slices lean deli meat (or 2 thick slices of tofu) w/ 1 tbsp. hummus
*1 slice high fiber bread (Nature's Own) w/ 1 thin slice deli meat (or 2 thick slices of tofu) w/ 1 tbsp. hummus and 1 thin slice of deli mozarella or swiss cheese
*1 cup of your own trail mix (mix in container: puff cereal, granola, dark chocolate hershey kisses, nuts, raisins) w/ 1 glass skim/soy milk (around 8 ounces)
*1 string cheese w/ sliced apples or pears
*10-15 sliced veggies (medley of carrots, cucumbers, edemame, celery, tomatoes, onions, brocoli, etc.) w/ 1/4 cup salsa
*10-15 sliced veggies (medley of carrots, chickpeas, edemame cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, onions, brocoli, etc.) w/ 2 tbsp hummus
*1/4-1/3 cup oatmeal w/ 1 tbsp raisins, topped with 1/8 cup granola or dry cereal
*1/4-1/3 cup oatmeal w/ fresh fruit
*100 calorie sugar-free oatmeal (found this at Wal-mart)
*1/2 scoop whey protein powder w/ 8 ounces skim milk (mix in shaker)
*1 cup skim/soy milk w/ 1 ounce dark chocolate
*1/2 sport bar (be sure the bar is less than 220 calories and without a thick icy-coataing to avoid sugar alcohols or unhealthy calories) w/ 1/4 cup trail mix
*3 egg whites w/ 1 string cheese
*2-3 egg whites + 1 whole egg scrambled (cook in microwave for 45-90 sec. Spray bowl with spray butter or pam to prevent sticking) w/ 1 slice high fiber bread or 2 WASA crackers
*1 veggie burger w/ sliced veggies


I'm sure I will think of more snacks as I go on the rest of my day.
Here is a pic of my afternoon fruit snack which I LOVE after a hard morning of training...


A snack from Karel's lunch:



I'd love to hear your snack ideas!

3/24/09

National Nutrition Month Part 2

I received a lot of great questions last week from various blog-readers and I'd like to post a few of them.

Here is a great question for all the mothers out there with newborn babies and/or future mothers (and fathers). Laura (from the healthy cooking post) answered this question since she has a lot of experience from working with WIC and other various pediatric clinics.

QUESTION:
"I have a 20 month old daughter who only weighs 19 lbs. The pediatrician says if the baby doesn’t start gaining weight soon it could lead to developmental problems. Currently she is in the -3% range for weight, and 40% for height on the charts. But not even being on the chart for weight is kind of scary. So do you know of any healthy way to make a baby grow? I don’t want to just start giving her mcdonald’s and ice cream just to put junk pounds on the kid."

ANSWER
First we have to know how much her baby is taking in caloric wise-how many glasses of whole milk she is getting in a day and what her food intake is? It is likely that the baby is not receiving enough calories. There is a small chance that the parents are giving her enough and she is not growing right now, but may have grow spurt. However, there could be other causes as well.

Based on the age/weight she gave me 19 lbs (8.63 kg) her estimated needs ~900 kcals (102 kcals/kg) for appropriate weight gain and ~11-14 gm protein/day (1.2-1.6 gm/kg/day). This is based on the RDA recommendations.

Age range 12-23 months requires:
Dairy: 4-6 servings (serving =4-6 oz whole milk-NO SKIM or 1%. The baby is still developing fat to cushion the brain up until 2 years of age and fat is important).
Meat and other protein foods: 2 servings (1/2-1 oz meat, 1 egg, 1/4 cup legumes; peanut butter is NOT recommended at this time (choking hazard)
Breads, cereals, and starches: 6 servings (1/4-1/2 slice bread, 1/4 to 1/3 cup rice, pasta, or dry cereal
Fruits and vegetables: 4 servings (3 oz juice (limit to one serving juice), 2-3 tablespoons fruits and/or vegetables. Avoid crunchy foods if the baby is not ready.
Fats and oils: DO NOT LIMIT-but obviously healthy fats-which infant should get from whole milk should be appropriate
I never recommend the 'miscellaneous' category to children-this would be candy's, sweets, soft drinks.
Small amount of appropriate age cookies or cake at a birthday party would be ok.

I do not usually like to recommend Pediasure because it tends to fill the infant up and they would rather resort to the pediasure versus the good food-causing a delay in development.

I think if the baby is being underfed-which is very common, especially in new parents or "health consciou" parents, you should let the physician know and ask for other suggestions. If a baby is born premature, the baby might be right on target, but you still need to add some additional calories to her diet.


I think Laura did a great job answering this question. I'm syre there are lots of mom's/nurses/dietitans who can related to this problem and offer other suggestions. But the theory that "this worked for this person, so it should work for you" doesn't always work. Just like the struggles with "adult" weightloss (or weight gain), what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for other people. Even if you aren't pregnant and this question doesn't or will never apply to you, I think we can all take away that healthy REAL WHOLESOME foods are always recommended, from the first days of life, as opposed to microwaved, boxed, canned, pre-made or frozen. But, when people (or baby) are not receiving adequate nutrients in the diet for various reasons, then supplements are required.

Thanks LAURA!

3/22/09

A whole lotta cycling!

This weekend was filled with a lot of bike riding and very little rest. I am finally sitting at the computer with my feet up and listening to the TV in the background. Campy is sleeping next to me and Karel is out with his guy friends here in Tampa Bay, enjoying a few beers.

First I will start with my weekend, which is much less entertaining than Karel's weekend.
My workout on Sat was tough. I am finally training for an IM. With a 3:30-4 hour ride and 45 min run on the schedule I was actually looking forward to training on the roads outside of my parents house and sticking my legs in their pool when I was finished.
I think brick workouts are SO important for IM training and even though I still have a LONG way to go until the "Big" brick workouts, every brick is important.
My ride went by super fast because I had certain sets for my entire ride. I had certain power zones to stay at but here was the set:
30 min. warm-up
50 min tempo w/ 10 min recovery
2 x 20 min sub-threshold (lower end) w/ 10 min recovery
5 x 5 min threshold w/ 4 min recovery
Total: 70 miles, 3:45
The wind was blowing like crazy so I made sure to break up each of my sets so half was in the tail wind and half in head wind. I wanted to practice staying in my zones and really working on my comfort level of knowing what my zones feel like, regardless of tail wind.
After the ride it was time to run. I ran for 22 min and felt really good. My hamstring got extremely tight on Wed during the first of 3 x 1 mile 10K pace runs. I decided to not take a chance on injuring myself and I was SO happy that I didn't act like the stubborn athlete that I once was. I took thurs and fri off from running and took into account this brick workout. My hamstring felt great and I was really lucky that I was smart about this one.
After 22 min it was time to get Campy. Off we went for 15 min to give me a hot 37 min. brick run. It was nearly noon and I was ready for breakfast.
This morning I slept in (6:58am) and headed out for my 2 hour run around 7:30am. The run went really well and I had a lot on my mind. I was zoning out the whole time. I ran for 1:52 and finished my run with Campy for a nice 2hr and 5 min. I told Campy we wouldn't be running faster than 8:30 min/miles for the end part of my run but he ignored me.

Ok-now the exciting stuff (with pictures).
Karel raced in the annual Tampa Twilight Criterium in downtown Tampa last night (Sat). Karel LOVES crits and especially when they are at night. The race started around 6:40pm and the race was 65 min. + 3 laps. For those who have never seen a criterium (which I recommend if you ever get the chance to watch part of a cycling race), the racers race for 65 min and then they have 3 laps left. So much went on in the first 65 min. but it was around 30-40 min that a 4-man break away took off and eventually, in the last 3 laps, they lapped the field. So, the whole group was back together and the main field (which were racing with the 4-man break who lapped the field) were racing for 5th-10th place (to be in the money).
The course was also really technical in one area of the course. The street was super windy with cobblestones and then a right turn with barely any room to move. It was scary to watch but of course, that is where all the spectators like to stand. My parents and I (and Campy) walked all around the course so we had lots of great views.
I took a lot of pics and most of them were blurry cause the Pro guys were racing way too fast for me..and it was getting dark. However, I did get a few good ones.
Karel's second race was in Pinellas Park at 1:30pm. The race was close to 100K which means the guys raced 28 laps for close to 60 miles. Crazy!
Unfortunately, I was pooped prior to the race and Campy could barely keep his eyes open. I felt so tired and cranky and Karel told me to just go home. I didn't want to leave and I really wanted to stay but I was just fading away by the minute. The race was late so we were there for about 1:45 before it started and after about 45 min. of watching them pass by every 4 minutes, it was time for me to head home. I felt so bad and I guess the training caught up to me. What a bummer but I think it is just part of IM training. You can't be 100% all the time and hopefully, for all my IM athletes, you have to have supportive friends and family. You can't use the IM excuse all the time but I'm learning that I need to rest every now and then.
Well, to sum up the weekend, Karel placed 8th in the twilight crit which was amazing! We couldn't believe it with such competition out there!
Karel placed 9th in the circuit race today! Top 10 once again..seems like a phase he is going through this season. I'm so proud of all his top 10 finishes. There were around 75+ starters at each race and I'm so amazed that Karel can sprint to the line with Pro's who train and race full-time (without working 45 hours a week, like Karel).
Enjoy the pics!