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Latest creation: pumpkin turkey chili!

6/29/2012 *Sara-Marie* 2 Comments

A year or so ago, I remember adding puréed pumpkin to some chili I had made and ended up really liking it. Unfortunately, I don't believe I documented anywhere what I did to make that dish! So today, the idea came to mind again and I decided to document the whole process so I could repeat it in the future! And since Mark has been working ALL DAY, I have some time on my hands.

This recipe is based on ingredients I had on hand:

20 oz ground turkey breast (super lean), 3 peppers, 1 onion (not pictured), 1 can of organic pumpkin, 1 large can of diced tomatoes, spanish olives, sofrito (blend of cilantro, garlic, and peppers), sazon packet, chili powder, red pepper flakes, ground cumin, cumin seeds, oregano, salt and pepper.

 Step 1: Roughly dice all fresh veggies and set aside

3 different colored peppers and 1 small onion
Step 2: Brown ground turkey and season with all spices
Since the ground turkey breast is so lean, you will need to spray a good amount of cooking spray in your sauce pan to prevent sticking

I don't really measure out my seasonings, so use your judgment. I would be careful with the cumin seeds (just a pinch) since that gives A TON of flavor. Also, I added a couple shakes of the crushed red pepper. Feel free to add more if you like it really spicy. Otherwise, everything else I just sprinkled on until I felt like it was enough.
 Step 3: Add the whole can of diced tomatoes and all veggies.  
Add salt and pepper to the veggies before mixing in with the ground turkey. 
Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

I love colorful meals. They excite me.
Step 4:  Add the whole can of pumpkin.
Stir thoroughly, cover, and let simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes.

pumpkin adds good carbs, fiber, vitamin a, and tons of other good for you stuff!
Step 5: Do a final mix and taste test.  
Add more spice or salt/pepper if needed. 
Mine came out perfect and didn't need anything else ;)

steamy goodness!
 Step 6: Eat up!
I decided to serve my chili with an ounce of ripe avocado, and 1/4 ounce of shredded cheese.


Because I used ground turkey BREAST, this meal was seriously low in calories and fat, but high in protein! Adding the avocado really helped keep me full since it added the necessary good fat to my meal (and amazing creamy flavor!). The whole recipe makes about 8 servings of about 1 1/4 cup each.

According to my recipe app, here are the nutritional stats for 1 1/4 cup WITHOUT the avocado and cheese:

136 calories  | 0.6 g fat  | 11.9 g carbs  | 2.7 g fiber  | 19.5 g protein  |
All stats are estimates

Since I had plenty of calories left for the day, AND I did some strength training today, I went for 2 servings with dinner.

All in all, not because I made it, but this dish is really delicious. The pumpkin flavor is very light and it has just enough spice to complement the slight sweetness of the pumpkin. You should try it and let me know of any wonderful variations!



Guilt-free dessert: banana-pineapple sorbet!

6/29/2012 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

This is so me and Mark! When it comes to ice-cream, he doesn't understand portion control! Love you babe!

There is something about having an after dinner treat that just resonates with so many people. Mark LOVES his ice cream so the temptation is always in the house.

For a couple of months now I've been researching how to make healthy ice cream alternatives at home and I believe I have finally perfected my recipe! AND, it's so stinkin' easy too.

What you will need:
1/2 frozen very ripe banana*
1/2 cup to 1 cup of frozen pineapple chunks (no sugar added, just straight up fruit)
Drizzle of honey
A really good blender, food processor or ninja blender like I have.

*when your banana turn too ripe to eat, peel the banana, cut in half, stick in freezer bag and freeze so you always have some frozen bananas on hand! They work best in this recipe when they are really frozen so make sure to freeze for at least a few hours before attempting.

Step 1: Add frozen banana and frozen pineapple to blender/processor

Step 2: Start processing slowly until small chunks form. With a spoon, scrape down sides and continue pulsing away.

Trust me, this will turn into something wonderful, despite how it looks now.
Step 3: Keep pulsing until all of a sudden it turns into a creamy, ice-cream like substance! It could take a while but don't give up!
Only two ingredients: frozen banana and frozen pineapple!
Step 4: Serve in a pretty glass and drizzle some honey!
Now, ain't that the cutest thang!
This is really delicious and satisfies my sweet tooth! It also works amazingly well with frozen mangoes! I've tried with frozen strawberries, and while the taste is good, the consistency is not as creamy as with the pineapples or mangoes. Don't know why! But I'm sure any combination would be wonderful!

Do you have any guilt free dessert recipes up your sleeves?


It's been a while!

6/28/2012 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

It's been a busy couple of weeks and I haven't had the time to sit down and update everyone on my ever-so-interesting life ;) !

I just downloaded the blogger app on my phone to see if maybe it is easier to do quick blog posts on the go. Especially since Mark's MacBook died and he has taken over mine! (because reading video game strategy guides and YouTube videos are SOOO much more important!)

Anyway, over the last two weeks I did gain 1.2 lbs, but I'm not that concerned. I traveled two weeks in a row for work and tried my best to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Usually I gain a lot more during my travel weeks so I'm actually surprised it was only about a pound. After getting back to PA on Sunday night, I've been really good with my food choices and I've been getting my exercise in! As of this morning, I lost 1.4 lbs, so I know I'm on the right track!

On Monday, at work, we also started a company wide fitness challenge over the next 12 weeks. (It's called "Ready. Set. Go!") We created teams and are competing in three categories: steps taken, exercise minutes, and percentage of weight loss. My job even sent me a fancy pedometer!

My personal goals for this challenge are to take 70,000 steps per week, 150 exercise minutes per week, and lose 1 lb per week. There are some cool prizes for the team that wins in each category so I'm pretty excited! A little competition is healthy! I will be updating my weight loss tracker page to reflect the new weight loss goals (1 lb per week, 12 pounds loss by 9/16) and will be posting weekly on my progress!

And for those that are interested in what I've been eating lately:

I bought like 3 pounds of sweet potatoes the other day for less than $2 so I've been getting creative with them. This was absolutely delicious - I'm calling it sweet potato salad? I diced and roasted sweet potato, zucchini, and cauliflower. Then I made a slightly spicy roasted red pepper dressing and mixed in some fresh cilantro. It was amazing. Sweet + Spicy = WIN!

This was a one egg scramble with left over baked sweet potato fries. Quite good and filling!
what we like to call the paleo style burger: lean, grass fed beef burger, guacamole, salsa, 1 slice of bacon, in between two large slices of romaine. It's messy, but fun to eat and you DO NOT miss the bun!
steak salad with mangoes and avocado
post workout dinner: 1/2 sweet potato (good, clean carbs), steamed broccoli (veggies), guacamole (good fat), and lean steak on a bed of greens (protein). Oh and by the way, if you've never tried sweet potato seasoned with salt, pepper and  rosemary, you definitely should. Like RIGHT NOW. Go.
Crispy Kale Chips and country style boneless beef ribs

1/2 sweet potato, 3 oz of sliced turkey, and 1 egg plain omelet
Another steak salad with a side of cauliflower that I made on the grill (wrapped in tinfoil)
More salad! This time with yummy grilled chicken.
2 eggs scrambled, 1 slice of bacon, 1 watermelon wedge and some berries. Very satisfying breakfast!


Eggs on the grill? Yeaaaaa, buddy.

6/16/2012 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Grilled Eggs in Red Pepper Halves

This morning I was feeling a little creative and I just LOVE using our grill. To me, it makes every meal just a little more enjoyable. So this breakfast (or lunch or whenever meal) is really easy, but definitely a bit tricky. After posting this picture on facebook, I got a number of comments of friends wanting to try it and a few private messages on the recipe. I definitely think this recipe is a work in progress, since it was my first time attempting to make this.

Turn on grill - medium heat

Step 1: Wash, cut off top, and remove seeds from a red pepper. Now I decided to cut my red pepper lengthwise, because I wanted to be able to use both sides of the pepper. HOWEVER, it would probably hold the egg a lot easier if you cut it in half, the other way. As long as the bottom was perfect and would stand on it's own on the grill. Then I guess you could figure out something to do with the other half that doesn't have a bottom.

Step 2: As you can see in the picture, I kept the top of the pepper I had cut off (minus the stem) and actually used it to lean my two pepper halves on while I cracked one egg into each. (This part of it is not pictured since I had moved them to photograph them). Leaning them on the top will help to keep the egg from spilling out all over your grill. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Close the grill lid.

NOTE: Now, I didn't know how long it would take the egg to set so I kept checking it very often. Turns out it takes a little while -- and it was probably taking a lot longer because I kept opening the lid!

After about 10 minutes, it still really wasn't setting so I decided to cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. This really did the trick. I would recommend doing that from the beginning!

Step 3: Once the egg is mostly done, I added a tiny sprinkle of shredded cheese and recovered with the aluminum foil. Once it was bubbly, I removed the egg peppers from the grill.

Since, the egg peppers were on the grill for about 20 minutes, my red peppers got pretty charred. Had I covered with the aluminum from the beginning and left the lid closed for most of the time, the egg probably would have set much faster and my pepper wouldn't have been so charred. However -- the pepper tasted AMAZING! So sweet and developed just an amazing flavor. CON: While you can easily peel off the black skin off the pepper -- it was a little difficult with your lovely egg inside. Plus it was a little bit of work to do before being able to enjoy your meal! Again, I will cover loosely with aluminum foil from the beginning to create a pocket of heat around the egg which will hopefully cause the whole thing to cook much faster.

I didn't try this, but I think it would be delicious with some salsa or guacamole on top or maybe even both! Or maybe adding some chopped turkey breakfast sausage or crumbled bacon before adding the cheese. Yummmy. I will definitely have to try again soon!


Despite the fact that I didn't make it to the gym ALL week and I was in MA Tuesday - Friday, I still lost 0.2 pounds! I know it's not a lot but I usually come back from work travel with a few extra pounds. I'm proud of myself for practicing self control and I'm grateful for my in-laws who are very supportive of my eating habits!

Here are a few meal highlights from before heading up to Boston:

Mixed greens, avocado, diced chicken breast, strawberries, pineapples, blueberries, green, red, and yellow diced peppers. Served with the homemade dressing below!

This is so easy and you know it's not filled with extra crap you can't even pronounce! 1 tbsp each of stoneground dijon mustard, organic honey, olive oil and white wine vinegar = delicious honey mustard dressing. I only needed 1 tbsp for my huge salad above. Very tasty.

We LOVE guacamole in this house. And my recipe is kinda the bomb. Why ruin a healthy treat with salty, oily chips? Keep the crunch and scoop it up with yellow and red peppers.

Mark kept his pasta, but I substituted with cauliflower "rice" to go with the turkey sausage and broccoli.

Simple salad with my honey mustard dressing + bacon wrapped chicken kabobs. Try it. 

While I was in MA, Momma Pops and I made a healthy and delicious meal together:

Lemon chicken with Broccoli - WW Recipe - 4 points a serving

Roasted cauliflower and roasted tomatoes. Amazing. I think roasting cauliflower is my favorite way to have it. It was so good, this was all that was left by the time dinner was ready! 

Once I got back into PA last night, I went STRAIGHT to the grocery store to stock up on veggies and fruits. In order to stay on track, I have to have lots of healthy options at my finger tips. Luckily, the nearby Aldi's has a great produce section with ridiculously good prices:

Some highlights: those 2 lbs of red, seedless grapes = $1.78; pint of blueberries = $1.99; bananas at .35 cents a pound; 2 lbs of red plums = $2.39; crazy, right?! 

And I just want to add how much I LOVE red plums:

and, you can have like 3 for under 100 calories!

Alright, that's all I have for you today!

Happy Father's Day to all of the fathers out there! But most importantly to MY amazing father! His love and faith is inspiring; truly a man of integrity; a man of God.



Short & Sweet

6/09/2012 *Sara-Marie* 0 Comments

Keeping this post short and sweet since I need to go out for a quick run before getting ready to start my busy day. This week had it's ups and downs, but as of this morning, I still managed to lose another 1.6 pounds! Just 2.6 pounds away from getting back to where I was before the wedding - and being able to start on my next goal!

Here are a few pics of some of my meals this week:

2 'pan-fried' eggs seasoned with salt, pepper and ground cumin; sauteed veggies with fresh basil; 1 slice of honey cured bacon

Tuna with low fat mayo and dried cranberries, in romaine lettuce cups

BEST SALAD EVER: spring mix, mango, avocado, grilled boneless/skinless chicken thighs, peppers, 1/2 slice of bacon; no need for dressing!

Grilled peach with honey, cinnamon, and slivered almonds

no clue what to call this, but it was yummy! Tons of veggies, some diced chicken, and some fresh mozzarella on top. Baked in the oven until the cheese melted.

BEST SALAD EVER 2.0: broccoli instead of spring mix, added some chopped fresh cilantro on top. YUM.

Mashed garlic cauliflower; baked plantains; steak with peppers and onions

Grilled veggies! Grill once, eat many times!

Paired my grilled veggies with some left over grilled balsamic chicken

1/2 sweet potato with cinnamon; left over grilled veggies; 1/2 cup of corn; bacon wrapped filet

Grilled pineapple; honey; cinnamon. This was AMAZING. Really felt like a dessert and satisfied my sweet tooth. It was my first time peeling a whole pineapple -- it's so much easier than I thought!

Have a safe, healthy, happy, and blessed weekend!



When you analyze yourself, you find yourself!

6/02/2012 *Sara-Marie* 2 Comments

My last post about two weeks ago was a frustrated one. I had gained weight three weeks in a row even though I thought I was being pretty diligent with my eating and exercise routine. I received an overwhelming positive response from friends and family that really motivated me to keep going, instead of baking some brownies and calling it a day.

Over the past couple of weeks, I analyzed my food intake with a fine tooth comb by continuing to count points, but also by counting calories, fat, protein, carbs, etc. I'm an analytical person by nature so I actually enjoyed it. The calorie counting app that I have suggests that I eat around 1410 calories a day to lose 1 lb a week. What I did notice was that usually equated to 28 points -- exactly what I'm currently allowed on the Weight Watchers plan. So in reality -- it's the same darn thang.

However, I did go back through my food journal for the weeks that I gained weight and I had a few AH-HA moments.  First, there were a few days that I consumed close to 1800 calories, but my points tracker still only said 28 points. How could that be? Those darn "free" bananas and mangoes. On the new WW plan, all fruit is zero points. I agree with this concept because it does steer me towards having a banana instead of eating a piece of bread as a snack. HOWEVER, there were multiple days that I was abusing the rule. Kinda like when there's a sale at the grocery store, but they limit your purchase to 4 so you don't abuse the sale. Yea, the plan should have a limit like that so that we are aren't abusing the free fruit. Maybe they have given participants a limit, but I haven't heard of it yet. SO I'M GIVING MYSELF A LIMIT.

Now, there's NOTHING wrong with "cheating on your diet" with some extra fruit -- in the grand scheme of things it's always the better choice. But I didn't realize I was going overboard, because my points tracker said I was good. And when I'm making green smoothies where there could easily be 3-4 servings of fruit (and 2 servings of vegetables), I have to be mindful of the calorie intake! This was my first epiphany.

Second epiphany: I was not eating enough vegetables. My current fruit to vegetable ratio (3 to 1) HAS to be flipped. I should be eating 3 servings of vegetables for every piece of fruit, not the other way around. At least, if I want to lose weight and get all of the nutrients my body needs to function properly.

Third: On days that I earned activity points, I was too quick to use them back up in food. Now, I know you're allowed, but there has to be a deficit if I want to lose weight. If you want to maintain your weight, then, sure eat more on days you work out. But for me, I need to be more diligent in almost pretending that I didn't work out and just stick to my points target/calorie goal. The calorie deficit is what is going to bring results!

So after realizing these things, I began to implement changes into my diet immediately. I am happy to report, that as of this morning, I am down 2.2 pounds since my last post. WOOT :)

I'm still 4.8 pounds away from getting back to where I was before the wedding, but I know that with my new outlook and focus, I should be there in no time. I just can't wait to get there, so I can then focus on losing more!! I really want to get into the best shape of my life!

So here are my new healthy eating guidelines which I will be posting on the refrigerator:

Mark doesn't know it yet, but this is going to apply to him too! After all, I am the one who does the cooking and grocery shopping around here!
For a while now, we've been trying to ween ourselves off of over processed, sugar and chemical filled foods. We started buying full fat foods (and practicing better portion control) after comparing the list of ingredients and realizing that the "fat free" versions are full of fake stuff -- our bodies weren't designed for tons of fake stuff.

So now, I'm making an even more conscience decision to try to eliminate, as much as possible, processed foods. God designed us to be 100% satisfied by the things HE created in nature -- why then am I stuffing my face with so much 'man-made' stuff in an effort to be healthy? This was my final epiphany for the week.

Since this post has been extra long, I will end with some pics of how I incorporated these changes into my diet over the last two weeks! Enjoy!

To make it easy to add veggies to all of my meals, I spent 15 minutes prepping on one day and put them in these compact little containers. Made it sooo easy to add to salads, marinara sauce, eggs, etc throughout the week!
Check out all of the veggies and fresh herbs that went into my veggie marinara! Yum!
Veggie marinara after adding the tomatoes -- this was delicious over my spaghetti squash!
Bought this awesome julienne peeler that turned my zucchini into spaghetti like stings in minutes!
Spaghetti squash, spaghetti zucchini, veggie marinara and a roasted drumstick. Delicious.

Caprese salad, grilled asparagus, grilled chicken and baked polenta

Roasted balsamic chicken over a bed of spinach and grilled zucchini

Turkey burger salad: spinach, turkey burger, feta, roasted red peppers, and hummus. No dressing - the hummus gives enough flavor!

Another caprese salad (grilled plum tomatoes this time) and put it over some salad greens, grilled asparagus and roasted drumsticks.

 Until next time!

God Bless and Enjoy Your Weekend!