Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Egg-White Omelet with Goat Cheese & Red Pepper Spread

So, again, I have to credit my friend, Ferial, for this one.  :)

I usually do my regular breakfast: an egg & cheese breakfast sandwich and yogurt. A few weeks ago, Ferial gave me a bite of her egg-white omelet that she makes using a Roasted Red Pepper spread and Chevre goat cheese from Trader Joe's, and I was sold on it. It's just as easy and fast to make (though not something you can take and eat on the road), very filling, very low-calorie, and tastes downright gourmet. I listed the nutritional information at the bottom of this post, but FYI, the omelet itself is only about 90 calories. I  eat this with a slice of toast made with Sara Lee Delightful bread (with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray), and a container of Dannon Light & Fit yogurt, for a total of about 210 calories.

After finally venturing out to the new Trader Joe's in Omaha (I hadn't been there yet because they opened when I was still dieting and I didn't think I could resist all the delicious cookies, chips, breads, and other carbs that they also have) to pick up the spread and cheese (a very similar goat cheese is also available at HyVee, so don't fret if you don't have TJ's near you--you can probably find a similar spread that you like at your local grocery store), I started making this omelet Every. Single. Day. The red pepper spread adds good flavor and just a little bit of kick, and the goat cheese makes it creamy, with just a slight sour-cream/cream cheese taste.

Egg-White Omelet with Cheese and Red Pepper Spread

3-5 Tbsp Egg Beaters 100% Egg Whites (or a generic version)
             (or you could use the whites from 2-4 eggs)
1 Tbsp Roasted Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic from TJ's
1/2 oz  (less than 1 Tbsp) Chevre goat cheese

Heat small pan over med-high heat. Spray olive oil or non-stick spray in bottom of the pan (I have to spray up onto the sides to make sure the edges don't stick). Egg white is pretty delicate, so even though I have "nonstick" pans, I still spray them lightly with my Misto olive oil sprayer.

Pour egg whites gently into the pan to cover the bottom. I usually use about 4-5 Tbsp of my Egg Beaters (approx 1.5 servings).  Also, you'll notice my omelet looks yellow here. I had accidentally purchased the Egg Beater's Original, an egg substitute made with egg whites, which isn't the same thing (though it tastes the same). I have used that container up, and am now using the 100% egg whites. Let your egg cook until soft but not liquid-y. Spoon 1 Tbsp of the red pepper spread over 1/2 of your eggs.

Using a fork, break up some of the goat cheese and sprinkle over the top of the red pepper spread.

Fold the omelet over to cover the spread and cheese. Continue to cook for about a minute to heat the spread and cheese.

Remove from heat, and enjoy!

Nutritional Information for the omelet:
(using 1.5 serving of Egg Beaters, 1/2 oz goat cheese, 1 Tbsp red pepper spread)
Calories: 87.5
Fat: 3.5g          Sodium: 207.5mg          Carb: 3.5g            Fiber: 1g          Protein: 9.5g         

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grilled Pineapple

Here is the secret to the easiest, healthy, summer dessert: grilled pineapple. You can serve it several different ways (alone, with ice cream/froyo, with other fruit, with whipped cream, etc.), and it's so sweet and delicious that you really feel like you're eating something more decadent and unhealthy--you truly feel like you're getting a treat.

Since we were planning to grill out anyway, I went ahead and picked up a slightly under-ripe pineapple from the store (as most fruit is sold here in Nebraska. *sigh*) as well as some Reddi-Wip. Ben sliced off the "skin" of the pineapple, but left the crown (the green, leafy part) on as a way to help grasp it on the grill, and then laid it on it's side over med-low heat on the grill.

As a side would start to brown and/or blacken, he would rotate the pineapple, taking it off the grill after all sides have been exposed to the heat. Back on the table, we cut up the pineapple, added some Reddi-Wip (only 15 calories for 2 Tbsp!), and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. DELICIOUS! The heat from the grill softens and sweetens even an under-ripe pineapple, causing it to carmelize a little bit (to be honest, the slightly more "charred" pieces are my favorite--they're sweet enough to be compared to toasted marshmallows, even).

According to Livestrong.com, 1 cup of fresh, diced pineapple is approximately 75 calories. Add 15 calories for the Reddi-Wip, and you have a summery, light, easy, delicious dessert for under 100 calories!

Next time, I think I'd like to make homemade spiced whipped cream from scratch, sweetened with stevia and spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. But to keep it easy, Reddi-Wip certainly works well, too. :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan

This recipe comes from my friend, Ferial. Ben and I had some friends over to grill out the other night, and I was trying to think of an easy vegetable side dish (other than grilled veggies--we weren't going to have room on the grill for anything other than the burgers and steaks we were serving!); luckily, Ferial suggested this super-simple roasted cauliflower.

As you may remember, I had mentioned once before that I thought I hated cauliflower. Up until this year, the texture of cauliflower--whether raw or cooked--just always grossed me out. But after making (and loving!) cauliflower crust pizza, I decided to give it another chance. I discovered that I also kind of like steamed cauliflower, as long as it's cooked until it's mostly soft. So, when Ferial described her roasted cauliflower to me, it sounded simple enough that I decided to give it a try--and it was a big hit, with me as well as our friends. :)

Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan

1 or 2 crowns of cauliflower (depending on how many people you are trying to feed)
olive oil (I used my oil mister with olive oil in it)
kosher or sea salt + pepper to taste
1-3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 or 450 degrees (I did 450 degrees, but my oven tends to run a little cool). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Break apart/cut up cauliflower into mostly bite-size chunks. EITHER toss cauliflower in olive oil, salt, and pepper and then put in an even layer on the baking sheet, OR spray the baking sheet lightly with olive oil, then place the cauliflower in an even layer, spray with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until cauliflower starts to look brown and have some crispy edges. Remove from oven, move cauliflower to a serving dish, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve while still warm, and enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad

I love salads that use lots of dressing with mayo or Miracle Whip--potato salad, tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad...mmmmmm.

This is a much lighter chicken salad that uses Greek yogurt for the base of the dressing--which, I've decided, actually tastes better than the heavier versions we grew up with.

I found this Greek grilled chicken salad recipe at How Sweet It Is, a not-always-healthy-but-definitely-always-delicious-looking foodie blog. I love to drool over many of her concoctions and am interested in a lot of her combinations of foods that I'd never have thought to try (dark chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate ganache and candied bacon on top!?? What??). But some of her recipes are pretty do-able for someone watching what they're eating.

I didn't include a lot of pictures this time because, honestly, her pictures on the blog are fantastic. I also didn't make many changes--the only thing I did was omit the onions, just because we hate red onion and I couldn't find any Vidalia onions. I didn't want to use regular yellow or white onions, either, because I didn't want them to overpower the other flavors in this dish.

This recipe makes 2-4 servings (depending on your serving sizes, of course). This was a great dinner to have on a warm evening--it didn't heat up the kitchen, and the yogurt, lemon juice, tomato, and cucumber made for a cool, light, tasty summer meal.

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chopped tomato
3/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup feta
for chicken marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
for quick tzatziki
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cucumber
1 teaspoon fresh dill
salt and pepper, if desired

30 minutes to 2 hours before servings, season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a ziplock bag or baking dish and cover with the marinade ingredients (oil, lemon, zest, garlic) and marinate. While chicken is marinating, combine the tzatziki ingredients (yogurt, oil, lemon, cucumber, garlic and dill) in a bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside or back in the fridge until ready to use.
Once chicken is ready to cook, heat the grill (or a grill pan) to medium-high heat and grill chicken about 5-6 minutes per side. Set aside and let cool, then cut into chunks. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, onion and chicken. Add in feta. To bring the salad together, add the tzatziki in 2 tablespoon increments. I used about 3 tablespoons total, but feel free to add as much as you’d like. Just continue to mix until the salad comes together. Serve on toast or in pitas.

I had mine in a whole wheat pita, with about 2oz off steamed broccoli (only 2oz instead of my normal 4oz because I had been munching on broccoli and carrots with hummus while Ben grilled the chicken), using those nifty Ziploc Zip’n Steam bags I had written about a while back.  :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Catching Up: A really long post

My last "official" day at work was May 30th! This means I finally have time to take a breath, relax a little, and catch up on things that have fallen by the wayside...such as this blog (insert sheepish look here).

March 17, 2012 -- 2nd 5K!

So, let's catch up on everything I've been doing, shall we? :) To start, I finally have a picture to post from when I ran the Blarney Stone 5K on St. Patrick's Day in March:

I've also been working hard on my yoga certification training. I am supposed to be done at the end of June--except I have to miss the very last weekend of training, so I'll probably make up the class sometime in July. Then I'll be a 200-hr certified yoga instructor!!

Yoga has changed my life and my body, and the certification training has been interesting to see myself continue to grow and develop even more strength and flexibility than I imagined I would have. I can now do an occasional arm balance, and am halfway to a headstand (I can balance on head and hands and pull feet off the ground, but have yet to bring my feet all the way up...but I'm working on it!). Here are some yoga snapshots for you, too:
Vrkrasana -- "Tree"
Trikonasana -- "Triangle"

Bakasana -- "Crow"

Also, just to help you see what yoga can do--and to make you cry a little bit--here is an amazing video that has continued to inspire me, even during the particularly difficult or disheartening parts of my training:

If this didn't inspire you or make you cry, then I don't know what will.

Moving onward with my updates...
I made a semi-drastic change to my appearance. Well, drastic for me, anyway. For years, my hair (which used to be so, so long when I was younger) has been my "security blanket." No matter how I felt about my weight and how I looked, I always got lots of compliments on my hair--the length, the color, the texture, the curls...all of it. So I got a little co-dependent on my hair, I think.

Unfortunately, due to the very strict diet and drastic life changes I have made, my hair started to thin out. A lot. It didn't happen quickly, and it actually didn't even start to really happen until I had started on my maintenance phase last summer--but I read that it can take time for hair changes to catch up to stress and/or major life changes, so I'm pretty sure it's diet and lifestyle-related. Anyway, starting toward the end of last summer, my hair really started to thin out.

New, short haircut!
Finally, I couldn't take how very thin the ends were looking; I felt like it made me look older, and made my hair difficult to style. Also, it made me super-self-conscious. So, last month, I asked my hairdresser to cut it off. And it turns out, I LOVE it!

I feel like my hair looks cute, sassy, and professional now. It's like I've finally grown up. :)

Oh... Oh! And the biggest update I've got: I finally hit a total of 100lbs of weight loss. 100. Pounds. Let me repeat that again: I HAVE LOST 100 POUNDS! I started this journey in the fall of 2010 at 263lbs (trust me, I never thought I'd get to a point where I'd be announcing THAT information to ANYONE. I don't think even Ben knew that), and now I'm weighing in at 163 pounds. I went from a size 22/24 to a size 12 (but almost a size 10! Almost! And definitely a 10 in some brands, lol!). This is skinnier than I was even when at my skinniest in high school, y'all. And the best part: I'm in the best physical shape of my life. I'm strong, I'm flexible, and I can run for 30 minutes without walking.

I feel good; I feel like I can keep up with life, finally.

And you know what? I've been on "maintenance" since last summer, and it hasn't been as painful as I thought it would be. Here's a perfect example... I babysat my younger nephew, Joey, today. He wanted Runza for lunch, so I grabbed a protein bar (I wasn't terribly hungry, or I would have gotten a salad there), and he had a kid's meal. Then he wanted frozen yogurt from Orange Leaf, so I took him there. I had about 2 tablespoons each of the raspberry lemonade frozen yogurt and the pistachio frozen yogurt. I thoroughly enjoyed my less-than-1-serving-size treat while watching my nephew attempt to eat his dessert:
What 4-year-olds dream of at night.
And I didn't feel deprived, or sad, or crave more than what I had (and I certainly didn't crave what he was eating. Ick.). I was fine for the rest of the day and then came home to have a healthy dinner.

My world did not end, and I still get to eat pretty much whatever I want. Just a lot less often than and in much smaller portions than what I was eating.

Well, this turned out to be a really long post, and I don't want to start getting all preachy about diet and exercise, so I will end here. I'll definitely be posting tomorrow about the Greek grilled chicken salad that we had for dinner tonight (light, easy, and perfect for summer), and posting more frequently in general, so be sure to check back!

I will leave you with some of the inspirational (and one funny) quotes that have helped keep me going on this journey: