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Friday, September 26, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Chili

Bring on the flavors of fall! It has finally cooled off and I've got my new riding boots and sweaters on hand. You can usually find me scouring pumpkin recipes on Pinterest lately, just happy not to be sitting in a pool of sweat. I don't usually complain about the weather since it's something I have no control over, but the first couple weeks of school were totally unbearable! I think I had a religious, sweat lodge-type experience at one point. One more day of it and I was going to invest in some essential oils, turn my classroom into a therapeutic steam room, and start charging admission. For the moment, things are cool, comfortable, and delicious...
Sweet Potato Chili
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
1 yellow onion, diced
2 bell peppers, seeded and diced (I used a yellow and an orange)
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small can of tomato paste
1 T peanut butter
1 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1 T crushed garlic
1 t cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 T olive oil (I used garlic-infused)
2 C water

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook until soft. Add remaining ingredients, saving the water for last. Make sure you have enough water to cover everything. Cover and simmer over low-medium heat until the sweet potatoes can be pierced with a fork. I like mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of shredded cheese!



Friday, July 18, 2014

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

I can't remember where I heard this, but it has become my mantra. Even with the best intentions, lack of preparation can leave you vulnerable to making poor food choices. You know what I'm talking about...

Breakfast:  You're strapped for time in the morning, so you run out the door without breakfast only to discover an hour later that you're STARVING. You rummage around in your car, purse, or desk only to discover old gum, cough drops, and some leftover Halloween candy. Giving in to that gnawing feeling in your stomach, you pop a Kit-Kat and feel a little bit better, but it's not enough. You walk into the lounge at work and see a box displaying the most beautiful doughnuts you've ever seen and you think, "Perfect! This will do nicely for breakfast. Don't mind if I do!" Well, I mind if you do. Your decision not to have a healthy breakfast not only drove you to make bad choices in the morning. That sugar high that you're going to go on from starting your day with processed garbage is going to set you up for failure the rest of the day. You're going to crash once the sugar is processed through your body and you're going to be on the hunt for something to pick you up. Which leads us to lunch.

Lunch:  Not only did you run out of time to eat breakfast, but you had nothing in the house to grab for your lunch today. Some friends at work are going to a nearby restaurant, so you decide to tag along. There, you will likely indulge in a lunch portioned to serve a family of four, and maybe a bread basket on top of that.

2-3pm slump:  That heavy lunch is making you wilt like a flower at your desk so you're looking for a little pick-me-up. A diet soda, something that comes in a wrapper from the vending machine, back to the lounge to see if there are any doughnuts left... We've all been there.

Dinner:  You come home exhausted from the day and are just looking for simple. If you don't have healthy staples on hand, this could end up being a frozen pizza, a box of macaroni, or worse.

The moral of this sad story is that failing to plan ahead is going to lead you to fail yourself and all that you sweat and strive for. Taking just a little bit of time each week to shop smart and prepare some healthy grab-and-go items will save you time, calories, and even money! 

Some ideas to consider:

*Keep washed and cut fruits and vegetables in the fridge, already portioned into zipper bags or containers

*Hard-boil a dozen eggs, peel, and keep in a bowl in the fridge

*Whip up my favorite kale salad recipe and portion it into containers to keep in the fridge:  http://gymjunkie-katie.blogspot.com/2014/04/kale-salad.html

*Make a batch of veggie burritos, place in individual zipper bags and freeze to grab for a quick lunch or dinner:  http://gymjunkie-katie.blogspot.com/2014/04/veggie-burritos.html

*Portion out nuts and seeds into zipper bags - store them in your cupboard, purse, glove compartment, and desk

*Place 1 C milk, 1/2 C Greek yogurt, 1 C kale, 2/3 C frozen fruit in the blender at night and store in the fridge. In the morning, blend it while you're putting your shoes on, grab it and go.

*Grill some chicken breasts and keep them sliced up in the fridge to grab for salads and sandwiches

Okay, okay... easier said than done, I know. This is especially easy to say when it's summer break and all this girl has is time! I realize it takes time out of your day and week. My food prep day during the school year is usually Saturday. I spend a couple of hours every Saturday morning when I get home from teaching my Spin class chopping, baking, blending, packing, etc. BUT, that's all the time I spend all week! My nights are free (to do work) and my mornings aren't rushed so I can get a good, long sweat in before heading to work. If you don't take the time for your health, who will?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pillows

These are as light as air! I love the flavor and texture of these little sweet treats. And at only 30 calories per cookie, you can even have more than one :-) I received the recipe as a clipping from one of my Spin class participants, so I don't know who to credit for this one, but I'd like to shake this person's hand!

Chocolate Chip Pillows
4 egg whites (real egg whites, nothing from a carton - learned this the hard way)
1/2 t cream of tartar
1 t vanilla
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C mini chocolate chips

Directions:  Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a hand mixer, whip together egg whites and cream of tartar until light and very fluffy; this may take several minutes. Add vanilla and mix again. Add sugar 1/4 C at a time as you are mixing. Once all the sugar is added, continue mixing until batter is glossy and very fluffy. Stop mixing with hand mixer and fold in chocolate chips with a spoon. Drop batter by spoonful onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minutes; they should be slightly brown as shown below. Remove, let cool, and store in an airtight container - while they last!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Black Bean Brownies

These brownies make me want to quit my full-time teaching gig and just bake all day. Well, bake and work out all day so that I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. With recipes like this one, you don't have to feel guilty because you're not sabotaging those sweat sessions. In fact, you're giving your body some protein and fiber - all good fuel for the gym. These brownies are so good in fact, that you can pass them off to your family and friends as regular old brownies and they will be none the wiser! I did... But then I always ruin it because I love telling people what's in these and seeing the looks of disbelief :-)

Black Bean Brownies
2 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
5 T ground flax (flax meal) mixed with 12 T water
6 T melted coconut oil
1 t olive oil
2 T almond milk
2 t balsamic vinegar
1 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t ground coffee
1 C (heaping) sugar
1 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 C chocolate chips, divided


Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 2 regular-sized muffin tins with oil. In a large food processor, pulse flax meal and water a few times and let it sit. Next, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Process until very smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Once smooth, stop and fold in half of the chocolate chips. Fill muffin tins about halfway full, sprinkle with chocolate chips and bake for 25-30 minutes. They are done when they are cracked on top and starting to pull away from the sides of the tin. Store in an airtight container in the fridge


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sweet 'n Spicy Cashews

I love the way the sweet and spicy flavors of these combine with the satisfying crunch of chia seeds. What?! Yup, chia seeds. I was feeling experimental... Turned out quite delicious!

Sweet 'n Spicy Cashews
4 C raw cashews
1/2 C honey
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 T sriracha sauce
2 T chia seeds

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together everything except cashews. Once thoroughly combined, fold in cashews and coat evenly. Spread in one layer on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring a few times throughout. Once browned, remove from the oven and let cool. They should be stored in an airtight container. They are sticky, but very good!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Kale Salad

I might just as well call this Crack Salad because I think that's probably how addicting it is. It is slightly modified from a recipe in Bon Apetit magazine sent to me by a friend.

My Saturday morning routine looks like this:  get up and have a cup of coffee, go to the gym and teach my Spin class, come home and make my kale salad. This makes enough for me to bring to work every day for lunch, and the occasional serving for dinner on rushed nights when there isn't time to make something else. My coworkers have threatened an intervention if I don't find another side for lunch, but I just can't stop! There are worse things to be addicted to than kale, right?

1 10 oz. bag of shredded brussels sprouts (pictured)
1 10 oz. bag of kale (pictured)
1/2 C olive oil
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 shallot, minced (see directions below)
1 t bottled, minced garlic
2 T Dijon mustard
1/3 C sliced almonds
1 C finely grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by gently processing the bagged kale in a food processor until shredded, but not completely ground up, maybe 3-5 seconds; you might have to do 1/2 the bag at a time. When done, toss into a large bowl with shredded brussels sprouts. If you can't find shredded sprouts, shred them yourself in the food processor.

To make the dressing, I have cut down on work time by doing it in a magic bullet blender. If you don't have one, try a regular blender. If that doesn't work, chop shallots separately and add to the salad. Put shallot, oil, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into the blender and process until dressing becomes smooth.

Toss greens with dressing, nuts, and cheese. The sturdiness of the greens will hold up under this dressing for days, but if you like things a little crisper, feel free to add the dressing as you eat the salad. Store covered in the fridge.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Veggie Burritos

I am obsessed with this recipe! A friend recently made me these burritos that were full of veggies and had this flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on... I asked her how she made them and she said she just threw them together without a recipe. Upon further prompting, I discovered the magic ingredient was cinnamon! I tried my best to recreate what she made, and I think I did a darn good job! These are easy, portable, freezable, and very filling. I use a tortilla that my mom actually sends me from Minnesota because I can't find them anywhere here (pictured below). Try to find one with minimal ingredients that is low carb, low calorie, and high in fiber.




4 medium sweet potatoes
1 T Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
12 ounce container salsa (I used a mild one with onions and cilantro, pictured)
2 avocados, peeled and cubed
2 C brown rice
1 t cinnamon
1 C shredded mozzarella
10-12 tortillas (see picture)

Directions:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cube sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Roast on a cookie sheet until tender, 20-30 minutes. Check and stir every 10 minutes to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, toss remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potatoes once slightly cooled. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Once everything is mixed (see picture - oooooo, colorful!) distribute about 1/2 C of mixture into one tortilla, roll and place seam-side down in baking dish. Repeat until gone (my batch made 11 burritos this time, I've gotten 12 before). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. I like to wrap these individually in foil and freeze. I grab one in the morning for my lunch and just reheat for 2 minutes.