First, it’s important to know we all have different goals. Right now, I’m trying to reduce my body fat. I started at 18% body fat and I’m now down to 14%, but I still have to get even leaner for the LiveExercise shoot on August 21st. I’ve consistently lost about 2lbs a week, while maintaining muscle mass (according to the InBody body composition machine we use to track progress). I actually even gained a pound of muscle during the process.
My diet is based on 1200 calories a day. Right now I’m doing 7 cardios a week and strength training 4-5 days a week. With that said, here’s what I’ve been eating & doing…
BREAKFAST: (Budget: 200 calories)
5oz plain Chobani greek yogurt, berries & 3 T granola (198 calories)
OR protein shake with orange juice & protein powder (181 calories)
OR egg beaters with spinach & tomatoes (or 2 63 Calorie Quiche)
LUNCH: (Budget: 200-300 calories)
Pinwheels: 4 ounces of fresh lunch meat (rolled up) with 1/4 avocado or cream cheese
OR 4 ounces of grilled or smoked chicken with avocado, lime juice, garlic, tomatoes and salt
OR the above meat, avocado over greens with vinegar
SNACK (3-4PM): (Budget: 100 -150 calories)
100-150 calorie snack like 140-calorie progresso light soup, grapes & cheese stick, more pinwheels, 1/2 banana & 1 tsp peanut butter, or a few almonds.
PM WORKOUT – LIFT WEIGHTS (4-6PM)
Post workout protein shake (1 scoop) or one Cocotein protein drink by IsoPure (100-140 calories).
Grilled Chicken with one green side (asparagus, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green beans, kale or salad greens). Read 25 Low-Cal Greens for more ideas. (200-250 calories)
Note: I season my greens a few different ways: #1 – lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper (tasty on cabbage), #2 soy sauce & olive oil (perfect on green beans), #3 Badia Complete Seasoning & olive oil (good on everything), #3 Steam with salt, garlic & butter spray, #4 Balsamic vinegar, olive oil & seasoning (great on asparagus), curry, stevia, olive oil & salt (yum on brussel sprouts) or #5 lemon juice, parmesan cheese & salt (yummy on broccoli). I grill and steam my veggies a lot. I personally like my veggies crisp and a little charred from the grill. :)
100-150 calorie snack (100 calorie popcorn, Veggie Straws, Weight Watcher’s Smoked Mozzarella string cheese, big dill pickle, cucumber chips in vinegar, hot tea, pretzel sticks or caramel rice cakes (minis). NOTE: I don’t need ANY of these snacks, but I budget in a salty snack because I enjoy it! ;)
My meal plan is based on a daily budget of 900 – 1200 calories – 1200 calories on days I exercise and 900-1000 calories on days I don’t workout. My goal for my substrates (protein, carbs & fats) for what I’m training for is 40-50% protein, 30-40% fat & 20-25% carbs. A simple 33/33/33 would be perfectly fine for most people (and you’d still get insane results). The more extreme split is VERY HARD for me. Every day I strive for this, and most days I miss it, but I learn every day and I do better than I would if I wasn’t trying! :)
Please realize this is not a prescribed diet. This isn’t a diet at all. This is what I am eating. I treat my body like a science project and adjust my food according to how I perform, how I feel and the results I’m getting. If I am low on energy, I boost my healthy fats or increase my healthy carbs. If I’m losing muscle, I check my LoseIt app and look to see if I need to increase my protein. However, I RARELY increase carbs – that’s one area I seem to have NO problem getting enough of! lol So far, at 1200 calories a day, I’m loosing weight and feeling great, so I’m pretty much sticking to the same things since I know they work for me.
When I reach maintenance, I like to continue this format during the week (with a little more room for extra fun calories) and have a cheat meal once a week. It’s all about checks and balances. The more you learn to maintain balance, the happier and healthier you will be. Some people cheat a little everyday but never cheat big (this is more me). Other people like to be strict during the week and cheat big on the weekends (this is more Steve). The key to success is finding what you can live with long-term because fitness isn’t supposed to be something you do for a season, it’s a lifestyle. Sure, you can lose weight for a competition or photo shoot, and have extreme moments, but you should be programmed to go right back to a healthy balance of a healthy diet and lifestyle you can maintain long-term. :)
For YEARS I poured balsamic vinegar on my salads having NO CLUE they had so many calories in them. I thought, like apple cidar vinegar, they were ZERO calories so I thought I could pour on as much as I wanted. Well, imagine my surprise when I looked at the back of my vinegar and saw that 1 tablespoon had 20 calories in it! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I use TONS of the stuff – and at LEAST four times that much for a salad. Yes, 80 calories in what I thought was calorie-free bliss – PLUS I added olive oil too! Cha Ching (that’s me racking up the calories!)
The good news is, this isn’t the case for all balsamic vinegars. Balsamic vinegar just has more sugar in it than white vinegars. I bet you are thinking “Oooooh! THAT’s why I like it so much better”. Yep, that’s probably right!
Last night I was checking out labels of some of the salad dressings I had in they fridge, and low and behold, this yummy poppy seed dressing had HALF the calories of plain balsamic vinegar!! See! You NEVER know unless you take the time to study labels.
VINEGAR: The Search for Calories
I did a little homework on various vinegar for you. Here’s what I found.
Calories for 2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar:
Balsamic Vinegar, Of Modena: 0 Cal
Balsamic Vinegar, Roland: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Of Madena, Monari Federzoni: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Pompeian: 10 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Bertolli: 30 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Alessi: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, White, Alessi: 20 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Ages, Colavita: 10 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Regina: 40 Cal/2 T
Balsamic Vinegar, Holland House: 30 Cal/2 T
Average Calories Per Tablespoon (for all types of vinegar)
Cidar Vinegar: 3 Cal/1 T
Red Wine Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T
White Wine Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Balsamic Vinegar: 14 Cal/ 1 T
Distilled Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T
Rice Vinegar: 1 Cal/ 1 T
Malt Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Sherry Vinegar: 0 Cal/ 1 T
Champagne Vinegar: 3 Cal/ 1 T
A few months ago Steve and I went to a restaurant and ordered a pear and goat cheese flat bread, simply because it was such an odd combination we just HAD to try it. We were amazed how tasty it was! Although I really didn’t remember what was on it exactly, I tried my best to recreate it last night with Steve and it was DELISH! So here are the basic ingredients I came up with…
2 FlatOut Flatbreads
2 Tbsp Sweet BBQ sauce
1/3 Cup Shredded Cheese
1/2 Onion Thinly Sliced
1/2 Can of Pears (no sugar added)
2 Cups Chopped Grilled Chicken
1/3-1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
First, throw the sliced onion in a small frying pan with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. I also added a dash of salt. Cook them until they are nice and soft and brown. These are like candy to me! YUM!
Grab one of your nice cookie sheets (or pizza stones) and set the oven to 375. Spray Pam on the pan and place the 140 calorie Flatout flatbreads side by side on the pan. (PS: they also have 7gms of protein and 3g of fiber!) Add in ingredients in the order listed above. Don’t use too much BBQ or it will make it too soupy. 1 Ttbs per flatbread should do it. Spread it all over the flatbread so that every piece has a thin layer of sauce. I used just a light sprinkle of cheese to help things stick. Then I began to layer the ingredients.
The smaller the pieces of pear and chicken, the less you’ll use if you are counting calories. Steve went a little overboard with the goat cheese, but I’d recommend just sprinkling a little on top. Finish with a light drizzle of balsamic glaze on top and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the pizza crust begins to harden.
Cut in triangles and enjoy!
Tag me in pics if you make it! I’d love to see your creations!!
Eating healthy is always easier when you plan ahead. Part of my planning ahead includes making a healthy breakfast that’s easy to heat and eat! This week, my breakfast of choice is a low-fat spinach quiche made with Daisy low-fat cottage cheese.
One thing I love about adding Daisy Cottage Cheese to my quiche is because it’s packed with protein (13gms per 1/2 cup 90 calorie serving). Since I like to get the majority of my protein from whole foods, Daisy Cottage Cheese is a great way to boost protein in your diet naturally. (FYI: Daisy Cottage Cheese has no preservatives, thickeners or additives and only has ingredients, where other brands have more than 10).
Shopping Tip: Look for the LIGHT blue lid (that’s the low fat one. Daisy’s regular cottage cheese has a dark blue lid). Also, alway look at ingredients when shopping. Less is more! I took a photo of the ingredients for Daisy (below left) compared to another popular brand (below right). Look at all the extra ingredients. Who wants to eat Xanthan gum and Guar gum? lol
63 Calorie Quiche
16oz Bag of Defrosted & Drained Spinach
1 Cup Egg Beaters
2 Cups Low-Fat Daisy Cottage Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Crushed Crackers or Croutons
6 1 Medium Tomato, Diced
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Cook the spinach in a pan and drain well. Mix spinach in with all the ingredients. Pour in well greased muffin pan (I use Pam) and cook on 325 for 45 minutes. The recipe makes 12 63-calorie yummy low-fat, high-protein, low-carb mini quiches! BAM!
Change it up
Use this same recipe and just make some subtle changes to make your own new creations. Swap cheddar cheese for feta cheese or tomatoes for mushrooms. Change spinach for broccoli or asparagus. Dress your recipe up but adding a sliced cherry tomato on top. Don’t care about calories? Use 2 cups of cheese instead of 1/2 cup of cheese to richen the recipe (NOTE: that will make each quiche 120 calories instead of 63 calories).
Enjoy 2 quiches for only 125 calories, 16.4g of protein, 3.9g carbs and 4.8g fat. Look at this awesome pie graph! See all that light blue – that’s ALL PROTEIN!! WOOOT!
I log my recipes in the LoseIt app to track calories and nutrients. What I love about making quiche in a muffin pan is that I have 12 perfect individualized portions, making tracking calories a breeze!
10 Ways to Cook With Cottage Cheese
1. Use cottage cheese instead of sour cream to add creaminess and a bunch of protein to a baked potato.
2. Use cottage cheese to thicken homemade dressings (using blender)
3. Use cottage cheese in place of Ricotta cheese in Italian dishes. (90 calories per half cup vs 216 calories)
4. Add a nice dollop of cottage cheese to a salad.
5. Use pureed cottage cheese instead of sour cream for a creamy healthier chip dip
6. Add cottage cheese to your smoothie for a creamier protein shake with even more protein.
7. Use cottage cheese in place of oil when baking.
8. Use cottage cheese instead of mayo when making tuna salad. (Puree it to make it creamy if you don’t like it chunky)
9. Mix cottage cheese with salt, pepper and herbs for a yummy and healthy cracker spread.
10. Mix or layer with fresh pineapple, apple sauce, peaches, pear or mandarin oranges and top with a dollop of whipped cream for a healthy dessert or breakfast.
HOW DO YOU EAT COTTAGE CHEESE?
Join us in our Twitter Chat! Daisy wants to know how you “Power Your Way Through the Day”. Getting the proper fuel we need can be hard on the go. Getting protein, outside of eating meat or having a protein shake, can also be challenging. Daisy Cottage Cheese is the perfect protein source. Daisy is extremely versatile and can help power your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and pre/post workout. Learn more about the Daisy Difference April 10, 2014 at 9:00 pm EST #DaisyDifference! See you there!
What typically goes in soup? Well, let’s think… Potatoes, Carrots, Corn, Peas, Lima Beans, any kind of bean, rice, pasta…basically all high carb vegetables. What do you not see in soup that often? Low-carb veggies like Brocoli, Cauliflower, Spinach and Cabbage. Why not? Did someone make a rule? Are there only a few soup-approved veggies? NO! People just like their carbs. A high-carb meal is a high-calorie meal, so i decided to make a low-carb soup that would entertain my tastebuds without costing me a few miles of cardio to burn off. This soup is perfect for those nights I had a post-workout shake and don’t need a lot of calories, but still want a hot meal when I get home for the gym.
4 Quarts Vegetable Broth Base (I used Knorr Vegetable Mix)
1 Bag of Frozen Cauliflower (or 2 cups fresh)
2 Cups frozen chopped spinach
2 Cups chopped brocoli
2 1/2 Cups Ground Turkey (20 oz)
2 Chopped Zucchini
2 T Splenda/Stevia
2 T Hickory Liquid Smoke
Salt/Pepper to taste
Makes 25 Cups
59 Calories per Hearty Cup!
I entered everything into my LoseIt app. Here is the profile :)
I love potatoes. Honestly, I think they are probably one of my favorite vegetables. BUT they are super high in calories and carbs, so I try to limit them. One baked potato is a whopping 270 calories – that’s most of my allotted calories for a single meal when I’m dieting (which is around 300-350 calories/meal) – and that’s without butter, sour cream or anything extra!
A medium French Fry from McDonald’s is 360 calories!! Sadly, I have to admit, when I get fries, my eyes are bigger than my brain and I feel the need to order a large fry because I like fries more than the darn burger. However, that large fry will cost me about a 5 1/2 mile run! A large fry had more calories than my sandwich – 537 calories (Super Size is 610 CALORIES!)!! Needless to say, if you are counting calories, it doesn’t take long to realize you need to limit potatoes from your diet if you want to lose weight.
With all that high-cal potato talk, I got a little creative last night and made a potatoless Shepherd’s pie. Honestly, if I had cauliflower, I would have made mashed cauliflower. Instead, I started my meal out like I always do. I look in the fridge and pantry to see what I have and then I start brainstorming. Yesterday, I ended up with Ground Turkey & Cabbage Shepherd’s pie and it was a success. Steve loved it, and he liked the carb to protein ratio – so here it is!
Potatoless Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 head of cabbage chopped (made 4 cups)
- 4 cups cooked and seasoned lean ground turkey
- 1 1/2 cup yellow corn
- 1 1/2 cup lima beans ( didn’t have peas!)
- 1 tablespoon butter/margarine
- 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon of Stevia and Splenda
- Salt & Pepper
- Badia Complete Seasoning
First I combined cooked and seasoned turkey meat with cooked corn and limas (cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper) and put that in the casserole dish. (I seasoned my meat with lemon juice and Badia Complete Seasoning). Then, in a separate pot, I boiled the cabbage with seasonings and the Stevia until really tender and soft. I drained the cabbage reeeeeally well and added the butter to add a little fat, as well as a buttery flavor. Next, I spread it out on top of the meat mixture, topping it with the sprinkle of cheese and baked it on 400 for 20 minutes or so (just to melt the cheese and do the final bit of cooking).
After you pull it out of the oven, drain off any fluid (from the cabbage) and let it stand for a few minutes. If you can’t wait, you can serve it right away, but it will be a messy meal. If you let it cool, it cuts in nicer squares. I let mine cool completely and stored it in the refrigerator. Then I cut it in squares and put it in tupperware (cuts beautifully when cold). Steve loved it and it was darn tasty!
9 servings: 278 calories 25g P, 15g C 13g F
12 small squares: 209 calories, 19.1g P, 11.3g C, 9.9g F
NOTE: Fat slows digestion, helping you feel fuller longer, as well as provides you with more lasting energy.
When I want to enjoy a hot meal, but I don’t want a lot of whole food in my stomach, I go the soup route. The fluid fills me up, without putting a lot of whole food through my stomach. As a result, I eat fewer calories and my stomach flattens out. I headed to the kitchen, looked to see what I had and started creating. Here’s basically what I came up with.
Please note: I didn’t measure as I went. I was just shaking, dumping and stirring stuff in, using what I had in the pantry and doing what I do best – make stuff up as I go along. I tried to guestimate what I did after I realized I probably should share what was brewing – especially since it was SO yummy and only 107 calories a cup, 8.5gm protein, 15.6 carbs and 1.2g fat! :) Feel free to adjust the seasonings, water and lemon juice to fit your tastes. As for the 2 cans of soup. I often use a can of soup as a base for my pot-luck soups. You can use pretty much any vegetable soup as a base, or skip it altogether and just add more seasoning, diced tomatoes, bullion or powdered soup mix. :)
Tangy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
DIET TIP: Scan food as you cook to track calories in your LoseIt app. Remember to adjust serving size to match the ENTIRE can or food product.
4 Chicken Breast pulled (boiled in lemon or lime juice, water, salt and seasonings)
(1-2 Cups of the broth from that soup can be used for the base)
1 1/2 Cup Yellow Corn (limit corn to limit calories)
1 Can Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 Can of Vegetable Beef Soup (that’s just what I happened to have)
3-4 Cans Water (depending on desired thickness)
2 Cans of Black Beans (dieters use 1 can)
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Can of Dices Green Chiles
1 Cup Yellow Rice (optional)
3 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1/3 Cup Lime or lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Sonny’s Sweet BBQ Sauce (optional – gives a chipotle taste)
1 1/1 tsp Splenda or Stevia
Fresh Cilantro (to taste)
A few shakes of Red Pepper
Salt to taste
Should Make Approximately 23 1/2 Cups
Boil the chicken until the chicken falls apart. Chop it up, pull it apart and combine it with all other ingredients in a huge pot. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for a couple of hours. The longer it stews, the more flavor the chicken and veggies will have. Don’t do final tasting until it has cooked for a while. The taste of the broth will change as it adopts the flavors of the tomatoes, chicken, corn, black beans and green chiles. Once it has had a chance to simmer for a while, then you can determine if it needs more lemon or lime juice, or seasonings.
After I finished cooking it, I measured out (one cup at a time) into a tupperware container to find out how many cups it made. Add more chicken to increase protein, or decrease corn and beans to decrease carbs. You can add sliced avocado on top as a garnish if you want to increase fats. The key is finding out what your diet needs and making adjustments to fit your needs.
One cup makes a great snack. 1.5-2 cups is a filling meal!
Beef up the meal and protein by combining 1 cup of soup with 3 oz side of chicken for a 277 calories, 31g protein, 27gm carbs and 5g fat. (pie graph above shows the breakdown of nutrients)
DIET TIP: LOWER CALORIES EVEN MORE
Use 1 can of black beans (instead of 2), 3/4 cup of corn (instead of 1 1/2 cup) and no rice (instead of 1 cup), and you’ll reduce your calories to 78 calories per cup. (29 calories less – lower carb). Add broccoli to add more fiber and consistency with fewer calories.
It’s Dinner Time!
When we are in “diet mode”, salads are our first pick for supper. Since we try to minimize carbs, and predominately eat protein, greens and fats at night, salads make a perfect filling (and delicious) dinner. However, you can only eat a traditional Chef salad so much, so I’m always making new creations to entertain our taste buds. This is when I open the fridge up, see what I have and start brainstorming on what I can create based on what ingredients I have on hand.
My Salad Formula
After I see what I have to work with, I first choose my “style”. Then I pick my greens. To help me manage calories, I normally choose one sweet item (like Craisins, apple, pear, mandarin oranges, etc) and one fat (like goat cheese, avocado, nuts or olive oil). Then I add in “freebies”, the extras that don’t have a lot of calories like tomato, onions, cucumbers, seasonings, etc. Lastly, I top it with protein and choose a light dressing to toss everything in.
Last night, I was in the mood for Oriental! So here’s what I whipped together for Steve and I! I have to admit, I couldn’t get enough and was super sad when it was all gone! :)
2 Cups Shredded Cabbage
2 Cups Finely Chopped Kale
1 Can Low Sugar Mandarin Oranges (chopped up slightly)
1/2 Chopped Sweet Onion
2 Small Grilled Chicken Chopped (I smoked chicken rubbed in Curry & Seasonings)
1/3 Cup Cooked Quinoa
Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Lite Dressing
1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds
Almond Accents Sliced Almonds
In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, vinegar and about 1 teaspoon of splenda. Let the cucumber marinade while you mix the salad together. In one large bowl, toss together all the salad ingredients accept for the chicken and almonds. Divide the salad into 2 servings and top with chicken and the cucumber topping, sprinkling the almond accents on top for a nice added low-calorie crunch.
Is Your Salad Making You Fat?
Something I heard once that stuck with me was when my sister said “I never realized how bad unhealthy felt until I discovered how good it felt to be healthy”. This is something I had never thought of at the time, and her insight opened my eyes. She wasn’t talking about feeling good because she looked good, she was talking about feeling even after only a couple of weeks of eating healthy. She basically immediately started having more energy and feeling as healthy as she was eating – way before the weight started coming off.
Not only does unhealthy food not fuel you properly but it weighs you down – literally. Overweight bodies are tired from the weight alone. Then couple that with being tired from the lack of energy from eating foods that lack nutrition, and you’ve got one tired, sluggish, heavy, unmotivated person. Yet, as soon as you start eating healthy, you immediately start benefiting from the nutrients you are putting into your body. People go from having no energy at all, to having TONS of energy when they begin to FUEL their body instead of just feed it.
Nowadays, when I have a period of time where I’ve been cheating or eating poorly (like over the holidays), I truly crave healthy eating because of how it makes me feel. I miss the way my body feels on a higher quality foods.
I challenge you to not just think of healthy eating as “dieting”, but choosing foods that will energize you, and give you the fuel you need to feel your absolute best! You’ll be SO surprised of the difference good fuel makes!!
Hale the Kale Salad
Thank you Offerdahl’s for the inspiration! Loving this salad!!!!
1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked with a splash of lemon juice, salt & garlic powder)
2 cups chopped kale
4oz diced chicken breast
1 heaping tablespoon of chick peas
1 tablespoon chopped sweet onion
1/2 tablespoon low-sugar Craisins
1/2 tablespoon goat cheese crumbles
Squirt of lemon
1 tablespoon Honey Roasted Almond Accents
Honey Lime or Lemon Vinaigrette
Light Honey Dijon dressing (I used Publix brand, but I also make my own)
Toss all the ingredients together with the dressing and top with the roasted almond slices. YUM!!
CLICK HERE for 10 delicious Kale Recipes!!
Since Steve LOVES BBQ flatbread pizzas, I thought I’d work on whipping up a healthy version that would satisfy his tastebuds, and his waistline.
1 tbsp Sonny’s Sweet BBQ Sauce
4 oz Smoked Chicken
1/8 cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Preset the oven to 350. Place the flatbread on a baking sheet and cook for 4 minutes. While the flatbread is cooking, slice the onion up very finely and caramelize in a frying pan with the balsamic vinegar and pam or a little olive oil (optional). Pull the flatbread out of the oven and top with a thin layer of BBQ sauce, cheese, caramelized onions and diced chicken. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until the flatbread is firm and has crispy edges.
More flatbread recipes to come – including the Balsamic Veggie Flatbread (the flatbread pictured on the right). :)