The Sound of Fitness

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Amen!

Asian Lettuce Wraps Recipe

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ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS

I am crazy for these things! They are so flavorful and addictive, I could eat them every week. Using large lettuce leaves as your wraps instead of tortillas, and cooking with ground turkey instead of beef makes this a nice and healthy meal! If you are cooking for more than 3-4 people, or if you are like me and enjoy packing leftovers for lunch the next day, I would suggest doubling the batch.

Ingredients

Boston Lettuce

1lb ground turkey (or beef)

1 large onion

1 bunch of scallions

2-4 garlic cloves (I am obsessed with garlic so I tend to eyeball it until it looks like enough to meet my needs. I would suggest 2 if you aren’t as big of a fan)

2 teaspoons pickled ginger

1 can (8oz) water chestnuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup hoisin sauce (this is another one that I eyeball. I usually end up adding a little more than 1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Asian chile pepper sauce (optional, but recommended for the spice!)

Peanuts, halved

Carrots, shredded

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First things first: chop, shred and process everything that needs chopping, shredding and processing! This will make your life easier once the skillet is hot. I chopped my onions and scallions, drained and chopped the water chestnuts, shredded the carrots, and used a food processor on the garlic and ginger. Also, take WHOLE lettuce leaves from your bunch and rinse and pat dry for later.

Over high heat, warm the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the ground turkey (or beef), stirring often. Drain, remove from the pan and set aside for later.

Using the same pan (without wiping out any leftover juice from the meat) cook your onions over medium heat until slightly brown. Add the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and chili pepper sauce (optional), and stir. Reduce heat if necessary.

20130523-100021.jpgMix in your chopped scallions, water chestnuts, and sesame oil. Your mixture should look like the image to the right. Nice and saucy!

Next, add your shredded carrots and peanuts before finally mixing in the cooked ground turkey or beef. Stir until evenly coated.

This is when I get a little wild and throw in a little more here and a little more there. I tend to drizzle in more hoisin and chili pepper sauce for the texture, flavor and color. This, of course, is based on preference. I prefer a little bit of a spicy kick. If you don’t, stay away from the chili pepper sauce!

While this steeps for a few minutes on low heat, arrange your lettuce leaves on a plate. Pile large spoonfuls of the meat mixture in the center for presentation and you’re ready to eat!

Healthy Quinoa & Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I have been thinking about making stuffed peppers for weeks now, and I FINALLY did it tonight. Best decision ever. This was one of the yummiest meals I have ever made.

I perused a whole lot of recipes online and finally came up with a combination of many that seemed satisfying to me. The end result was to die for. I am already daydreaming about the leftovers I packed for lunch tomorrow.

Oftentimes people make stuffed peppers with beef. I substituted ground turkey. I also substituted regular rice with a quinoa and brown rice combination. This makes for a healthier meal.

Ingredients: Bell Peppers, Ground Turkey, Quinoa (with Brown Rice, optional), Chopped Onion, Garlic, Canned Diced Tomato, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce, Olive Oil, Cheese (optional), Salt & Pepper.

First and foremost, preheat your oven to 350-375 degrees. I often forget to do this and kick myself when I am halfway through food-prep and realize that I am going to have to wait while my oven heats.

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Heat your quinoa in a sauce pan. I used a quinoa and brown rice combination. Many recipes call for oil or chicken stock, but I just used water. Quinoa is a seed (rather than a whole-grain) and is a great substitute for rice, with a higher amount of protein and fiber.

In the meantime, cut the tops of your bell peppers off and remove any additional seeds. Place each hollowed-out pepper into a dish… I would suggest spraying the bottom of your dish with a cooking spray. Be sure not to toss the tops of the peppers, because what’s left can be used for the meat mixture, depending on your taste. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and sauté your garlic. While your quinoa is heating and your garlic browning, chop up your remaining pepper tops and onion. I chopped mine up pretty small so that I wouldn’t find any huge chunks in my mixture. Add your pepper and onion combo to the garlic and let sit for about 3 minutes, stirring every so often.

20130501-214631.jpgNow you are going to want to add the ground turkey, the worcestershire sauce (at your discretion), salt and pepper to your garlic, pepper and onion mixture. Many of the recipes that I came across required 1/4-1/2 cup of the sauce, but I would adjust that depending on your taste. I ended up using a little less than 1/4 cup and used a sauce that was low in sodium.

Once your meat has browned, add your tomatoes and tomato paste. I used Hunt’s Tomato Paste and Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies for a little bit of a kick. If you don’t like spicy, I would advise against this. If you do, Rotel is the best!

Once all of the liquid from the meat and the tomatoes is absorbed, add the quinoa (and brown rice if you so choose) to the mixture. Make sure to stir it thoroughly so all of the tomato paste is evenly distributed. 20130501-214420.jpg

When all of the above is complete, fill your hollowed-out peppers with spoonfuls of your mixture.

I cooked my peppers for about 20 minutes before switching it over to convection bake for 5 minutes. I then added the shredded cheese to the top of each pepper (I was careful to be light on some, regular on others) before heating the dish for another 5-10 minutes. Cheese is optional for this recipe. Because it is relatively healthy as a whole, I figured… why not?? I used a 6-cheese Italian Combination that included Parm and Asiago. The total cook time is about 30-35 minutes, depending on how brown and crisp you like it.

The final product was AMAZING and filling! I was sure that I was going to have to eat more after I finished my first pepper but almost didn’t make it through one! This is such a yummy meal and I am definitely going to have to save it for future reference. Let me know if you try it!!

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Bad Katie! Cheating On Myself and Making Up For It

I was bad this weekend. I cheated BIG TIME on my diet and deserve a big ol’ spanking. I know that it is OK to treat yourself from time to time but I more than treated myself and felt absolutely disgusting by Sunday afternoon. Just goes to show that in-the-moment “wants” may not be worth it at the end of the day.

My recommended daily calorie intake is 1,200. Boy did I surpass that. I went out of town for the weekend and because I was staying in a hotel, I ate out for every meal. In addition to eating out, there was an array of wine and cocktails. And you know I enjoy my wine.

On Friday night before my misbehavior ensued, I squeezed in a quick workout substitute for my regular routine. The gym at the hotel was smaller than my freshman year dorm room and was extremely limited, but I made do with what was available. I did a quick warm up on the elliptical, deadlifts maxing at 60lbs (with dumbbells rather than my regular bar), and weighted lunges. Better than nothing, I guess.

I have learned just how easy it is to think that you’re eating healthy by choosing the green item on the menu, only to find that oftentimes… you’re doing the exact opposite! We went to PF Chang’s on Saturday for lunch and I ordered the Thai Beef and Noodle Salad. I knew that it would likely be a little high in calories, especially due to the toppings and the dressing (I usually get the dressing on the side and use very little of it but forgot to ask this time), but didn’t realize how bad it actually would be.

I had eaten about half of the bowl before I thought to check and see what the calorie count was on the MyFitnessPal app. It was enough to make me full then and there. One of these salads totals to 870 calories… GROSS. More than 2/3 of my daily “allowance” in one meal. I don’t use this app religiously – it’s mostly so that I can have a general idea of what I am consuming. I told myself I wouldn’t be a calorie counter. But, I am very happy that I checked before scarfing that whole bowl down.

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I am a sucker for the bad stuff. The rest of the weekend included nachos, wings and burgers. I had a regular salad and a grilled chicken caesar wrap at other points but those unfortunately did not cancel out the aforementioned high calorie meals and appetizers.

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When I got home on Sunday afternoon I was NOT in the mood to exercise. I felt so full, exhausted and just plain yucky from the weekend that I just wanted to veg out on the couch and watch Netflix. But I figured… what is an hour of my time? If I can find the time to watch TV for an hour then I sure as hell can kick my ass into gear and do SOMETHING that gets me on my feet and moving.

This weekend was the first Saturday I had skipped in two months and I would have felt so terrible if I went two days in a row without exercising. SO, with my future 5k in mind, I set out for a run. Well, it was more of a run/brisk walk but I think I did alright for my first time out for the season.

Using my MapMyRun app, I mapped out a route that is just a little further than a 5k. I think I will use it to train for ColorMeRad because it has a good flat:hilly ratio. I went 3.47 miles in 44:19 at a 12:45 pace, burning 511 calories. I reached 3.1 miles (5k) in 40:26. Now, I know that the time doesn’t sound too impressive, but I am not exactly in the best running shape… yet. I imagine that my running mile is probably between 10-11 minutes. Not too terrible for someone who is just getting back into the swing of things! After my run I did 4 sets of 12 push-ups, alternating between diamond and regular.

All in all, I will definitely be paying for my slip-ups this week! I plan to kick it to the next level at the gym. Wish me luck!

Cravings

Don’t you hate when you are on a health kick but you have one of those days where you would like nothing more than to dive head first into a pool filled with saucy buffalo wings, greasy pizza and maybe even some cheesy nachos? Yea, me too.

I would kill for a plate of wings for dinner tonight but I know that tomorrow’s Katie will be kicking herself. I know that it’s OK to spoil yourself now and then but I promised myself that I would save the bad calories for the weekend.

20130424-155510.jpgSO, I headed to Pinterest (obviously), and found a cheater’s “buffalo wing” recipe. The kicker? The chicken part is actually cauliflower. Now, I know this probably doesn’t sound very appetizing to the saucy fried chicken lover. Trust me, I am one of them and would be lying if I said I am not a tad weary to try this mysterious recipe and taint my love for the buffalo-y goodness of real wings. But I am picturing my beach bod and am crossing all fingers and toes that this may actually be halfway decent.

Wish me luck!

Homemade Grilled Chicken Gyro

I am a fan of ordering a meal out just as much as the next person. But, after a while it becomes a little heavy on both the pocket and the waistline.

Right across the street from my workplace is the best little Greek restaurant, and my co-workers and I love to buy their gyros from time to time. Well, turns out that a lamb gyro with all of the toppings can amount to anywhere between about 420-560 calories alone depending on where you get it and how much “stuff” you put on it. While the toppings consist of mostly veggies, it’s the Tzatziki sauce that makes it the best… and possibly the worst. According to the MyFitnessPal calorie counter, one serving of Tzatziki sauce  can be anywhere from about 40-60 calories. So if you’re a into slathering on the sauce, this could add up!

Last night I decided to put on my Greek hat and try making my own gyros. Rather than using lamb, I grilled up some chicken and I made a homemade Tzatziki sauce. Let me tell you… to DIE for. I just finished eating leftovers for lunch as a matter of fact.

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After doing a little research, I found that one white pita bread amounts to about 160-165 calories on it’s own. I bought Joseph’s Flax Oat Bran & Whole Wheat pitas which  only has 60 calories in each.

I sliced and marinated the chicken in a mixture of fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, just a sprinkling of seasoned salt and garlic garlic garlic (my fave).

While the chicken soaked up the yummy flavors I made the sauce using STRAINED low-fat plain Greek yogurt, shredded cucumbers, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, fresh dill, a tad of olive oil, a dash of cayenne pepper, some seasoned salt (or celery salt) and more garlic (yay!). This sat in the fridge while I cooked the chicken and heated the pitas.

Top your pita with chicken, fresh tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onion and some tzatziki sauce (go light on the sauce if you want to cut back on some calories) and voila! Totally filling, cheap and healthier than buying lunch! Homemade is the way to go.