Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

One thing I love about the first few weeks of January is that the grocery stores seem to have more healthy foods on sale than normal. I take advantage of the savings by stocking up on the healthy things we eat regularly, and also by trying some new things. Like a lot of other bloggers, I opted to stay in yesterday rather than brave the winter wonderland. That gave me plenty of time to check out some of those new-to-me finds.

Breakfast was a new-to-me treat, Kashi 7-grain waffles.

I’ve never bought these before because they’re a bit on the expensive side so it was a treat to see them on sale. I usually buy the “other brand’s” low-fat waffles. They’re pretty good when I want a waffle fix, but don’t keep me full for very long. These new waffles were delicious! They had tons of flavor and kept me full for several hours. The ingredients were much less processed and, for those who are wondering, they’re the same number of PointsPlus values  as “those other” waffles. I’m definitely going to watch for these to go on sale again and for coupons.

For lunch, I decided to fix something I’ve read about quite often in the blogosphere, but never tried until yesterday. Tempeh!

The cooking directions on the package were a little vague so I wanted a tried-and-true way to eat it. Most recently, I remembered reading about tempeh on Cynthia’s blog. A quick search led me to her directions for Banh Mi. I didn’t have any spinach and I don’t really like carrots so no banh mi for me. However, I did get the inspiration to put my tempeh in a wrap and I heated it according to her directions. Inside the wrap I layered romaine lettuce, sprouts, the tempeh and dijon mustard. The tortilla was so full that I couldn’t really get it to wrap and ended up eating it like a taco.

I really, really liked the tempeh and will definitely buy it again, on sale or not. Cynthia informed me (via a reply to my comment on her post) that tempeh had a “different texture.” She was absolutely right, but I found it to be a nice texture. It’s very hard to describe the flavor, but there’s lots of it! If you haven’t tried tempeh, I’d encourage you to give it a go.

With my tempeh wrap, I had a mug o’ lentil soup from the batch I made on Sunday.

This was also a new-to-me recipe from The Volumetrics Eating Plan. My husband bought this book a few years ago when he first became interested in eating more healthy. We successfully made a few recipes and then sort of forgot about it. I revived it in my recent quest for new recipes and found a lot of dishes I want to try. This one is definitely a keeper.

Together, it made for a wonderful, filling lunch.

My husband got home from work pretty early and we headed to the gym for a triceps and chest workout. He recently downloaded the free JEFIT app for his android phone and has been torturing me with it sharing it with me. We haven’t really even begun to dig into all the features, but we’ve figured out the basics.

Basically, the app lets you view and select exercises by the part of the body you’re aiming to target.

The app has several predefined workouts which you can do as is or add/remove exercises to suit your needs. You can also start from scratch by selecting individual exercises to create your own routine.

If you’re not sure how to perform a certain exercise, there’s also a free downloadable player that allows you to view animations for each move.

So far we’ve done two of the preset workouts using this app and I must say that I’m impressed. My husband has some experience with weights and likes the way it’s put together. I’m fairly new to “real” lifting and it’s still easy for me to use. It’s helping me build my confidence around the free weights and machines which is a huge benefit in my mind.

After our workout it was home for dinner, also a new recipe. This one came from the same cookbook as my lentil soup from lunch. Italian Turkey Spirals were time consuming t0 prep, but fun to assemble and tasted delicious!

As suggested in the recipe, I also made the Tomato and Fresh Basil Sauce (a separate recipe in the same book) to go with the spirals. Served with whole wheat spaghetti, this was the perfect mix of protein and carbs for a post-workout meal. Oh, and there are green beans hiding in the back there for some veggie goodness.

My husband was super impressed with this dinner and I really liked it, too. I’ll definitely make it again. Since we didn’t use much of the sauce, there was enough left over to freeze and use later for another meal.

What new food or fitness ideas have you discovered in 2011?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a Dr. Weil audiobook! Entries close Friday at midnight EST.


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Hellllooooo 2011!!!

So what if I’m 4 days late. 🙂

Normally I don’t find New Years’ to be especially exciting. Sure, there’s the bash to watch the ball drop and welcome in the new year, but to me January 1st has always been just another day. Until this year. While I don’t make New Years’ resolutions, I’m feeling completely refreshed. It’s like a mental “airing-out” that’s made me really motivated in all areas of my life, food & fitness included. I don’t know what brought this on, but I like it!

My husband went back to work yesterday after a two-week holiday vacation. It was bittersweet. I’m going to miss having him around every day, but it felt really good to fall back into a normal routine.

I started off the day the same way I’ve started every day since Christmas. With this amazing specimen of coffee-making genius:

This Keurig may seriously be the best Christmas gift my husband has ever bought for me. It’s changed my life. You laugh, but I’m not kidding. Okay, I’m only kind of kidding. It makes the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted, coffeehouse or otherwise. The funny thing is, I’ve always sworn that I didn’t want one. I thought those little K-cups would be too expensive to keep up with my caffeine habit. My mother-in-law mentioned that she saw that you can now buy a little contraption (that grey thing in the top row of the carousel) to brew your own coffee grounds. Once I learned that, I wanted one. When I told my husband, he said maybe we’d pool our Christmas money and get it. Sneaky little booger. Turns out, he’d already bought it for me and stashed it at his sister’s house. It’s been so much fun to try all the different varieties. I try to limit myself to one or two K-cups per day and then use my own grounds beyond that. So far, the Emeril’s Big Easy Bold has been my favorite.


I sipped my coffee and read my book for about an hour, just enjoying the quiet. It was glorious. I love spending time with family and friends during the holiday season, but I also love my down time. That’s something I haven’t had much of lately and it was nice for my first “normal” day to start that way. Another great part of the morning was sharing a leisurely breakfast with Peanut when she woke up. After that, it was time to get down to business. Peanut had serious playing to do and I was ready to exercise.

The last few months of 2010 I felt like a hamster on a wheel when it came to fitness. My workouts were half-hearted at best. I knew that the exercise was good for me and I was doing it as often as I could, but I wasn’t excited about it. The switch didn’t really flip in my brain until January 2nd when I made myself accept my sister-in-law’s invitation to go to Zumba. I had all kinds of excuses running through my head for reasons why I couldn’t go, but I didn’t let myself bail. I went and, when those endorphins kicked in, all of the reasons I love exercise came flooding back to me. Suddenly I was excited about getting back into the swing of things. I came right home and jotted down a workout plan for the rest of the week. This is something I used to do every week. Unconsciously, I’d started to let it slip sometime around Thanksgiving and by Christmas I’d quit doing it altogether.

Yesterday reinforced to me how wonderful having that plan can be. I knew exactly which DVD I needed to grab: the original Power 90 with Tony Horton. I did the Sweat session followed by Ab Ripper 100. Definitely got my blood pumping and geared me up for the rest of the day. It also made me hungry.

I’ve found several recipes lately which sounded delicious to me, but that garnered an upturned nose from my husband when I showed them to him. I put those back as possible lunch options when it’s just me at home. Using this original recipe from Real Simple magazine as my inspiration, I made several modifications and came up with a lightened-up, simplified version based on what I had in the pantry.

Rotini with Arichokes and White Beans

(makes 4 servings)

  • 5 ounces whole wheat rotini
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 15.5-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered, rinsed & drained
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly to keep the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the beans, artichokes, salt & pepper to the saucepan. Cook until heated through, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the reserved water and artichoke/bean mixture to the pasta and toss.

In keeping with my attempts at eating more veggies, I plated mine with some torn romaine lettuce which I stirred in after I snapped the picture.

I portioned out the leftovers and popped them in the fridge. Now my lunches for the rest of the week are no-brainers which really helps me stay on track. 

After lunch I cleaned. And cleaned some more. And cleaned even more while catching up on DVR’d shows. We got a last minute invitation to go out to dinner with some church friends and accepted. The food was mediocre (I’m talking to you, Tumbleweed.), but the company & conversation were fantastic. It was a great end to a great day.

So far, it’s been a great beginning to a great year. Bring it, 2011!


What has been the best part of your 2011 so far?

Oh, and one more thing…




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I don’t mean this kind of rebound:

While we’re on the subject…congrats to the Duke men for winning the NCAA championship last night! I’m not a big basketball fan, but I do tune in during March Madness.

I’m really talking about rebounding after a disappointing workout.

I had a bad run last Friday. I’m talking HOR-RI-BLE! I set out to run the same route I’ve been doing for a week or so, but just past halfway I was complete toast. My legs felt like Jell-O, my feet felt heavy and I couldn’t slow my breathing no matter how hard I tried. When I looked down, my heart rate monitor was reading a little over 200. Being in the 190s when I run isn’t uncommon for me, but I’ve never seen a number that high. I decided to walk a little to calm my body down. When I tried to pick up a run again, I immediately felt exhausted. I walked the rest of my running route, then doubled back around to cool down. The whole time I was mentally beating myself up and questioning my ability. “Why couldn’t I run that? I did it just fine two days ago.” This one subpar run had me doubting whether I could ever really get back to where I was pre-baby.

One thing that kept me from completely berating myself was knowing that I’m not alone. Just last week, Caitlin posted about the first race in which she bonked. The week before, Allison posted about her less-than-stellar marathon training run. Granted, these ladies are running a LOT further than I am, but I admire both of them (through their blogs) and asked myself WWHLBD (What Would Healthy Living Bloggers Do)? Did they quit running altogether? Nope. Did they use that fluke run to define themselves as runners? Nope. They’re both still running…and kicking booty!

I very easily could have slipped into a funk over my lackluster run. Instead, I started my “rebound” as soon as I got home.

  • Positive Self-Talk: We are our own toughest critics, but we can also be our own biggest cheerleader. When I walked in the front door, I vowed to only say positive things to myself about the workout. I applauded myself for getting out the door and exercising in the first place. I mentally thanked myself for getting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. I commended myself for how far I’ve come in the 7 weeks I’ve been back to running. “Remember when you couldn’t even run for a minute?”
  • Retrace Your Steps: While I was showering after my workout, I tried to think of anything I’d done differently that day that could have had an impact on my workout. The four things I identified were 1) not drinking enough water throughout the day; 2) eating lunch about 30 minutes before running instead of my usual snack before, lunch after schedule; 3) running in the late afternoon rather than late morning; 4) first day of 80+ degree temperatures rather than the 60ish I’ve been running in lately. I didn’t set out to find excuses for hitting my wall. Identifying these things just gave me an awareness of how my body might react to certain variables.
  • Look forward, not back: A funny thing happened when I started being nicer to myself. I started getting excited about going on my next run. The “bad” run was over. Done with. Finito. Dwelling on it would accomplish nothing. I laid out a complete workout outfit on top of my dresser (including my running shoes) for the next time. Because there would be a next time. I was NOT giving up.

That “next time” came yesterday and guess what happened? I rocked it! Not only did I run the whole route, I actually added an extra .25 miles or so to the end. I took hydration and eating schedule into consideration and ran at my more usual time of day. Those might have helped, but I know that setting out with a positive attitude was the most crucial key to my success.

Post-run lunch was a humdinger of a salad:

~organic greens
~cherry tomatoes
~1/4 cup Sabra Hummus with Roasted Pine Nuts
~1oz. President fat free feta cheese

The star of dinner was the spinach & asiago chicken sausage I reviewed yesterday. I cut the three leftover links into rounds, then cut those in half (to form crescents) and reheated them in a skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil. + a jar of spaghetti sauce + a handful of mushrooms = delicious spaghetti sauce! My husband raved about it’s deliciousness.

(Sorry for the blurry pics. My camera battery is going.)

Have you ever had a disappointing workout or race? What did you do to rebound?

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a clean home.

I do a little cleaning every day, but it was nice to spend the entire day working around the house. Call me a big weirdo, but I love to clean and organize around the house. Decluttering calms me and using elbow grease is great stress relief. At the end of the day, looking around at a clean home makes me very, very happy.

Let me rewind a little bit. I got out of bed all geared up to run. The weatherman had predicted sun & warm temperatures so it looked like a perfect day…until I looked out the window. It was grey, cloudy and drizzling rain. Weatherman = dirty liar. I don’t mind running in a little rain, but there was no way I could take Peanut out in the elements with me.

I didn’t forgo exercise altogether, though. I did a little strength training (320 calories burned in 50ish minutes) with this DVD:

The post-workout hungries hit me pretty hard and I whipped up a little pasta dish:

~whole wheat penne
~can of diced tomatoes
~splash of white cooking wine
~spinach & asiago chicken sausage (review coming soon)

I watched Food Revolution last Friday and was in tears. Yep. I cried. Huntington, West Virginia is only about 2 hours south of where I live. The mentalities I saw in the show are mirror images of the attitudes I encounter on a daily basis. The show brought out every frustration I have with trying to eat healthy in a small town culture that just doesn’t get it. It’s not that people are stupid. They’ve just never been taught any different. I’m so glad that Jamie Oliver is finally stepping up and saying what needs to be said, regardless of whether or not people like it.

Dinner last night was inspired by the show.

Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham


~2 sprigs fresh thyme
~2 skinless chicken breasts (I used boneless, skinless.)
~Freshly ground black pepper
~1 lemon
~1 1/4 ounces grated Parmesan
~6 slices prosciutto (I only used 4.)
~Olive oil (I used EVOO.)

Preparation: Grate your Parmesan. Pick the thyme leaves off the stalks. Carefully score the underside of the chicken breasts in a criss-cross fashion with a small knife. Season with a little pepper (you don’t need salt as the prosciutto is quite salty). Lay your breasts next to each other and sprinkle over most of the thyme leaves. Grate a little lemon zest over them, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Lay 3 prosciutto slices on each chicken breast, overlapping them slightly. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining thyme leaves. Put a square of plastic wrap over each breast and give them a few really good bashes with the bottom of a pan until they’re about 1/2 inch thick.

Cooking: Put a frying pan over a medium heat. Remove the plastic wrap and carefully transfer the chicken breasts, prosciutto side down, into the pan. Drizzle over some olive oil. Cook for 3 minutes on each side, turning halfway through, giving the ham side an extra 30 seconds to crisp up.

SOOOO good. A definite keeper. My husband and I were both in absolute heaven. Besides tasting great, this only took about 15 minutes start to finish. It’s the perfect example of how good, healthy food can be prepared at home in the same amount of time it takes to make a frozen pizza. We cut each chicken breast in half which was a perfect portion. Mr. Oliver recommends serving with “mash and green veggies or a crunchy salad.” We served ours with baked potatoes (sweet for the husband, Yukon gold for me) and steamed broccoli.

Do you think the area where you live impacts your efforts at a healthy lifestyle? How? Is it in a positive or negative way?

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I wasn’t expecting to have my husband home on our actual anniversary because it fell on Monday and he would typically be at work. Well, he ended up having jury duty, being released early and calling to see if we wanted to meet him in town for lunch. Peanut and I were headed that way to run errands anyway so we met up for a bite to eat and then he went with us to pick up some things I needed for baby shower projects. Heck of a guy, my husband. He willingly went to Hobby Lobby and entertained Peanut while I hunted, compared and decided. By “entertained” I mean raced the cart around the store while she giggled uncontrollably. 🙂

No pictures of lunch. Just for the record though, the veggie burger at Max & Erma’s is NOT as healthy of an option as you would think. I asked ahead of time whether it was grilled or fried (It’s grilled.) and ordered it with no guac. I consider myself a fairly nutrition savvy person and I know what to look for when I dine out. It’s still so hard to know what you’re getting when you eat out. I knew it wasn’t going to be super low-cal or anything, but I was still shocked with the stats when I got home and looked it up online. I wish more restaurants would make their nutrition information readily available in the restaurant instead of just on their website.

We just hung out at the house for most of the afternoon, enjoying each others company. It was too cold to take Peanut with me on my run, but my husband volunteered to keep her and I took him up on the offer. No land speed records were set. Still, it felt good to move and the breeze, even though it was cool, was refreshing. My new shoes did wonderful on their maiden voyage. It felt like I had clouds strapped to my feet.

The fabulousness of my husband continued when he offered to prepare a special anniversary dinner. I knew it was going to be good when he fired up the grill. He put on quite the spread:

Grilled tomatoes & mushrooms:

Grilled shrimp, half with Old Bay & half with Tastefully Simple Grill Seasoning:

Whole wheat pasta:

All together:

I threw a little bit of everything together and topped it with some Colavita olive oil and fresh chopped parsley.

My posting and commenting may be sporadic (or non-existent) this week. The baby shower I’m hosting is on Sunday and I’m in full-on prep mode for the rest of the week. I’ll do what I can, but don’t be surprised if I disappear until Monday.

Giveaway Alert! – Holy amazing, Batman! Lindsey over at SoundEats is giving away 4 fantastic prizes from Beachbody. Check it out!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

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Baby Blogger

Wow! It’s been a busy week in the UFC household. There hasn’t been any one major event, just lots of little happenings that have kept me from sitting down at the computer for quite some time. I’ve been eating a lot of repeat meals and leftovers so you haven’t missed much in the creative food department.

I attempted to make a dent in my Google Reader this morning. My favorite bloggers have been super busy so I had well over 150 posts. Needless to say I’m not all caught up yet, but I did get to a few. I had help for a while. Peanut sat on my lap and slapped at the keyboard so I apologize if anyone had random letters in comments I left. I can’t take responsibility for that. LOL

Blogs don’t hold her attention quite as long as they do mine. She fell asleep, head-first on the keyboard:

She’s down in her crib so I’ll take this time to update you with (most of) yesterday’s eats.

I like Larabar‘s on their own, but I like them even better mixed into my oats. I crumbled up a Chocolate Coconut Chew and added it while the oats were still hot. When I stirred it up, the chocolate melted and it got ooey gooey like a brownie. Yum!

Pasta sounded good for lunch. Okay, pasta always sounds good 🙂 , but it sounded especially good when I remembered I had Buitoni 100% Whole Wheat Three Cheese Tortellini in the refrigerator.

I could easily eat these plain, but I wanted to bulk it up with some veggies. I diced a tomato, sliced some mushrooms and broke some fresh green beans in half. I threw all of that into a saucepan with EVOO, garlic and a couple splashes of white wine. I surprised myself with how great it tasted, plus the veggies made the meal extremely filling. I love when a food experiment works out!

I didn’t take any pictures of dinner, but I found this one courtesy of Cooking Light:

O.M.G. This was sooooo good. It had so many delicious flavors that blended together perfectly. It’s going in the recipe file as a definite “make again” meal.

You can find the original recipe here. I substituted 3 slices of turkey bacon for the applewood smoked bacon and cooked the chicken in a little EVOO rather than the bacon drippings.

Well, sounds like someone is awake so I’m off to do my motherly duties. Hope everyone has a fantastic day. See you all again tomorrow!

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CHECK IT OUT: Bidding for Erin’s Bake Sale & Auction has begun! All money raised is going to the fight against cancer through our mutual friend Beth’s Jimmy Fund Walk. There are sooo many yummy & fun items on the list so be sure to view the items and place your bids!

Every single time I see the word auction, I can’t help but sing (in my head) the John Michael Montgomery song, Sold! Country fans? Anyone? No?

Yesterday started off pretty sad for me. I got word that the OB I’ve been seeing for all things baby passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. It appears to have been a heart attack. I was so saddened by the news and my glum feelings matched the grey, cloudy, rainy weather outside. Dr. K was truly a remarkable man. Not only was he an MD, but he was also a practicing Catholic priest. As if that wasn’t enough, he did tons of charity work. He touched the lives of many and will be missed greatly.

I was in a hurry to pack lunch and snacks for yesterday which resulted in very unexciting eats. Breakfast (not pictured) was a toasted whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and Amish blueberry jam.

My morning snack was a Chocolate Brownie Clif Z bar. I picked up a few different flavors of these at the grocery last weekend. They’re designed more for kids than adults, but I like that they’re low in calories, still very filling and quite delicious. They taste more like a chewy cookie than a traditional bar and this one was VERY chocolaty.


Lunch was another English muffin topped with a Boca Chik’n patty, Laughing Cow Light Swiss and yellow mustard. I’ve been through 2 boxes of these Bocas in just a little over 2 weeks. Can we say addicted? On the side I had a 100 calorie bag of Smartfood White Cheddar popcorn. My grandma used to stock this in her house and it was a favorite snack of all us grandkids. Brings back some fun memories.


My afternoon snack was an entire package of blackberries. I brought it thinking I’d eat half and save the other half for another day. They were perfectly sweet and tasted so good that I just couldn’t stop myself.


Dinner was hijacked from my parents’ house. Mom made way too much goulash and said there was no way she and my dad could eat it all. She sent a generous container home with me which made dinner quick and easy at our house. Mom’s version is made with macaroni noodles, Classico Four Cheese pasta sauce, sliced mushrooms and grated Vermont cheddar cheese. We topped ours with grated Parmesan cheese from the Amish store and paired it with fresh-from-the-oven French bread


Salad on the side as the veggie.


Group photo!


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