A twist on cheat meals

I went out to dinner on a cheat meal night and was craving a burger. The restaurant burger and fries totaled to 1273 calories. Mind you, it would have been a little less without the bacon and fried egg but some cheat meals are worth the extra calories!

During the week one day I was craving a burger but it wasn’t a cheat meal day. So I decided to make a healthier version of the cheat meal I love. The burger is topped with a little cheese, cilantro, tomato, onion and a tsp of chipotle catchup. The fries are lightly tossed in olive oil, pink salt, and pepper, then baked. The homemade burger and fries totaled to 599 calories. That’s less than half the calories of the restaurant version! This is a great trade for the restaurant version if wanting a healthier twist on a cheat meal!

When you’re doing a healthy diet, you don’t have to eat boring meals. Granted I wouldn’t recommend eating a homemade burger and fries every day. That’s a little more red meat than you need and there are better options than white potatoes. But this is definitely a great option on occasion. I love to take my favorite restaurant foods and mimic them at home in healthier ways. It beats eating baked chicken, rice and broccoli every day like I used to do! Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. You just have to be cautious of what you are putting into the meal or on the meal.

Happy eating!

Smoothie Truth

It kills me when one of my friends says they drink a smoothie on a regular basis instead of eating meals. I will admit I grab a smoothie sometimes when I’m out and about because it’s convenient. My husband does it too. We love them! Smoothie king is our guilty pleasure! BUT we try to eat regular meals as often as possible and not supplement a smoothie in place of a meal.

Smoothies tend to have way too much fruit in them. They also have syrup which the fruit was sitting in, that’s incredibly high in sugar. I don’t know many people who get veggies in their smoothies so you’re basically getting an overload of sugar. The average fruit smoothie is 500-600 calories with around 49-60g of sugar. That’s twice the amount of sugar you should have in a day!

If you are making smoothies at home, this can be a different story. I will still argue that they shouldn’t be replacing meals. However, you can work them into your diet to your benefit! I make a “smoothie” protein shake. In my protein shake I mix protein powder, fruit, spinach, milk and sometimes an avocado. This is my post workout drink. The difference is that there is WAY less sugar than the smoothie places! I measure out the amount of fruit I need for one serving. I also add in spinach for extra magnesium and iron which is great for you post workout!

Remember, just because it has healthy items in it, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Read your nutrition labels. Check the sugar and fats! And for goodness sake, don’t replace meals with smoothies on a regular basis. Occasionally is ok. Eat your fruits and veggies in the proper portions!

Mustard vinaigrette chicken

Ingredients:

•1/2 oz apple cider vinegar

•8 oz asparagus

•2 boneless, skinless chicken breast

•1/2 oz feta cheese

•1 tbsp grainy mustard

•1/2 oz light brown sugar

•2 zucchini

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400. Trim ends off asparagus and dice zucchini. Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.

Combine vinegar, mustard, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper and 2 tbsp olive oil in a bowl.

Grill chicken on grill (I used stovetop cast iron) for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to baking sheet and baste with 1/2 vinegar mixture. Place in oven for 15 minutes.

While chicken cooks, place asparagus on baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook asparagus for 10 minutes.

Toss chopped zucchini in a bowl with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place zucchini pieces on stove top grill. Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes.

Once food is cooked, plate food and top chicken with remaining vinaigrette and top asparagus with feta. Enjoy!

The grocery store diet

I love telling people I’m on a diet. They always ask “which one?” I respond with “the grocery store diet.”😂 I typically get a confused or blank stare. Then I explain it’s where I go to the grocery store, buy food and that’s what I eat.

People often confuse the meaning of the word diet. A diet is what you eat! If you eat only fast food you have an “unhealthy diet!” If you follow something like Atkins, it’s called a “fad diet.” If you eat a balance of fruit, veggies, etc you have a “healthy diet.”

When I go to the grocery store I get 90% of my food from the walls of the grocery store. Next time you go to the grocery store, look at how it’s laid out. If you follow along the wall you’ll see veggies, fruit, meat, dairy, etc. In the middle of the store, where the aisles are, is all your processed foods. I try to avoid those aisles unless I’m getting something like crackers or tuna. Plus, if I roam the aisles I’m sure to get something not on my list that I really don’t need!

Next time you go to the grocery store try the “grocery store diet” and stay along the walls when getting food. Happy shopping!!

Note: Some produce departments are spread out in one area and they have just the veggies along the wall. The fruit will be on islands. I still consider this “the wall” because it’s not in an isle. 😉

Treat yourself

I always tell people, never go to the grocery store hungry. Guess what I did yesterday………I went to the grocery store hungry. 🤦🏼‍♀️ I got everything on my list plus two little treats. I’m sure some people are looking at these and saying “but they’re organic” or “it’s better than candy.” Not always! They are still high in sugar and fat! In moderation things like this can be a little better than eating a bag of candy. Fruit sugars are definitely better than refined sugars. However both are processed in the body the same.

Always watch your portion sizes. I make sure to portion things like this out into sandwich baggies when I get home. When I want a “treat” I grab a perfectly portioned baggie! This is to assure I don’t over eat. Because honestly if you leave the bag in front of me I’ll eat the whole thing! 😂 Treat yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. But do it in moderation! And don’t go to the grocery store hungry!!

Summer salads

I’m not a huge fan of vegetables. I’d rather have a burger. But let’s be honest, my health would suffer quite a bit if I ate a burger every day instead of vegetables.

During the summer when it’s really hot here in Texas I crave salads. I don’t like that heavy full feeling when it’s hot out. I love topping salads with grilled shrimp because it’s protein rich and high in water content. Not to mention they are quick and easy to cook!

This salad is a spring mix with strawberries, mango and pineapple topped with grilled shrimp. Sometimes I’ll add a little slivered almonds to my salads as well for a little more texture. One is my favorite salads is a chicken salad with hard boiled egg white, dried cranberries and slivered almonds (homemade of course). 😍

I’ve seen a few premade salads at Sprouts recently that are high in protein, low in calorie and low in fat. They actually look pretty good. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to make your own salads, these might be a good option for you! I know other grocery stores like Tom Thumb and Trader Joe’s carry them too!

Foods you should always buy organic

Some people buy everything organic. This isn’t necessary. However there are a few foods you should always buy organic. Not sure which you should buy organic and which you don’t have to? It’s easy. If it has a thick skin that you don’t eat, like an avocado, you don’t need to buy it organic. Pesticides cannot penetrate the thick skin of an avocado so it’s protected. Same for bananas, spaghetti squash, oranges, etc. Foods like tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, etc with skin you do eat, you should always buy organic. It is also recommended that you buy meats and dairy organic to avoid any added growth hormones that are given to the animals.

Materials and practices not used in organic farming include:

1. Synthetic fertilizers

2. Sewage sludge as fertilizer

3. Synthetic pesticides for pest control

4. Irradiation to preserve food

5. Genetic engineering

6. Antibiotic or growth hormones in livestock

Organic tends to be a little pricier most times than the non organic. But wouldn’t you rather pay a higher price to protect your body from unnecessary and harmful chemicals you could potentially ingest?

To learn more I recommend reading the USDA blog post on organic foods!

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means