I go ape for bananas. I love banana bread, banana & peanut butter sandwiches and banana pudding, so when Quaker started making banana and cream oatmeal, I finally made oatmeal a part of my daily nutrition plan – until I started dieting. While dieting for my competition, I’ve had to strip away any sugar and keep my foods simple and clean. When you diet for 3 months to this extreme, I get creative so I can still enjoy food without feeling deprived. As I brainstormed on ways to spruce up my plain oatmeal, I decided to make my own healthier version of Quaker’s Banana & Cream Oatmeal.
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Quaker Oats
3 tsp Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1/4 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Protein
1/4 Banana (thinly sliced)
1-2 tsp Sweetener
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
(Optional) Couple of Drops of Butter Extract & Banana Extract
Cook the oatmeal in the water as directed. Reduce heat and add the banana, followed by the almond milk and protein powder, mixing over low heat. Add salt, sweetener and extracts. Add more almond milk if needed (depending on your preference of consistency). Poor into a bowl and sprinkle cinnamon on top to serve.
My Oatmeal vs Prepackaged Oatmeal
4.6 sugar vs 9g sugar
21g carbs vs 26g carbs
7.5g protein vs 3g protein
3.1g fiber vs 2g fiber
Log your food into the LoseIt app and track your calories with me!
Since I’ve been craving salty snacks, I decided I’d make a salty, meaty protein snack similar to beef jerky. This is whey Vaca Frita came to mind. Vaca Frita, which literally means “Fried Cow”, is one of my favorite cuban dishes. Basically, it’s just shredded flank steak and onion cooked in lime juice and then seared with oil on a griddle until crispy – so it’s not so healthy, but super yummy.
So, I started brainstorming on ways to make a healthier version of this yummy Cuban dish. Since I LOVE grilled chicken (because I love the crispy charred flavor), I decided to make a grilled version of Vaca Frita with chicken. Here was what I cooked up.
Vaca Pollo Ingredients
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 1/2 onion, finely slivered
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (Optional)
- Freshly ground pepper
Cook 4 chicken breasts (I grilled them on the grill after marinading them in lime juice and olive oil). While cooking the chicken, cut the onion up into really thin slivers and set it aside.
(Note: I didn’t use as much onion as I would like to because I wanted to make it as high-protein as possible while I’m dieting.)
Next, in a mixing bowl, mix lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves (and the optional olive oil, which I didn’t use). Once the chicken has been cooked all the way through (keeping it nice and juicy, but not worrying about it being browned or charred on the grill). Shred the chicken up into small pieces and combine with the onion and lime juice mixture until evenly mixed.
Finally, spread the shredded chicken out evenly on tinfoil. Mist with olive oil and dust with salt. Place it back on the grill (I turned my grill up really hot to quickly brown the chicken without over-drying it), occasionally stirring the chicken so it browns as many pieces as possible. Remove when you feel the chicken is crispy but not dehydrated, and let cool. Serve with wedge of lime.
3 Ways to Enjoy Vaca Pollo
Vaca Pollo Snack:
Let the meat cool. Measure out 2oz portions and put in ziplock bags for an easy-access high-protein snack.
Vaca Pollo Salad:
Top mixed greens with 3 – 4oz shredded chicken, 2 T goat cheese and 1/c cup finely sliced pear and top with a light balsamic vinaigrette.
Vaca Pollo Meal:
Top 1/2 cup jasmine rice with 3 – 4oz shredded chicken and serve with a healthy serving of grilled asparagus.
Steve and I have recently discovered spaghetti squash (yes, I’m a bit behind!). So now we’re on a spaghetti squash kick! Steve can’t get enough of it, and for only 42 calories a cup, you can’t really beat it!
On our weekly “Sunday Food Prep Day” I began to get creative in the kitchen, thinking of ways I could use spaghetti squash. We were going to dinner at my parents house last night so I wanted to bring a new healthy flavorful dish to introduce to the family. I was in the mood for some Italian, so I began brainstorming and concocting, and this is what I came up with.
I was cracking up because no one knew what it was. My sister asked what the “squishy stuff” was, saying it was really good! My aunt also was perplexed, as she was asking who made “this dish” as she points to it. She took a plate home to her son (my cousin) and said he lapped up the plate, and he too wanted to know what the mystery dish was too. So, even though no one could place it, everyone liked it and there wasn’t a drop left of it to take back home with us, so I guess this creation is a keeper! Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: As always, I did not follow a recipe and was just making this up as I went along – which often means, I add a dash more of this, and a pinch more of that. This recipe is what I came up with to the best of my recollection. I hope you can recreate it and enjoy it too!
Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 Whole Spaghetti Squash (makes approximately 4 Cups)
1 Bag of Marzano Tomatoes (approximately 20 Cherry tomatoes)
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Sliced Black Olives
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons Basil Paste (or fresh basil leaves)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Teaspoon Cracked Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Shredded Cheese (optional)
Cut the squash in half and take the seeds out. Place face down in a microwave safe dish and add one cup of water. Cook for approximately 15 minutes in the microwave until soft. Let it cool before handling.
While the squash is cooking, you can slice the Marzano tomatoes and measure the black olives, combining them in one container for holding. In a separate small bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, cracked pepper and salt. Add a small portion (maybe a teaspoon), along with the vinegar, to the tomatoes and black olives in a small container.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash out in spaghetti strands into your mixing dish. Mix in the olive oil mixture until the squash is fully covered. Add vegetables and parmesan cheese until mixed evenly.
Measure cup by cup to (for tracking calories) into a baking dish. My ingredients added up to 5 cups, making 10 1/2 cup servings. Sprinkle a very light layer of cheese (I used a little regular cheddar with some shredded parmesan cheese) on top and back on 350 for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Serving Size: 1/2 Cup
51 Calories (not including the cheese on top)
Only 6.4 Carbs
We Pfiesters are always looking for high-protein snacks and easy meals. This is why chicken salads are a hot item in our kitchen. Last weekend I made a Low-Fat Buffalo Chicken Salad that Steve LOVED, and this weekend I made a Curry Chicken Salad. Throw it on a cracker for a snack or scoop a cup out on a bed of greens for a meal. Either way, this is one great low-cal recipe that makes dieting pretty darn easy! The only hard part will be not going back for seconds!
Curry Chicken, Grape & Apple Salad Recipe
1/2 Cup Chobani Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Chopped Grapes
1 Cup Chopped Apple
6 1/3 Cup Chopped Chicken Breast
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
4 Packets Truvia (or your favorite sweetener)
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Whisk the yogurt, curry powder, 2 (of the 3) tablespoons lemon juice, salt and sweetener together until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the grapes, chicken, apple and the final tablespoon of lemon juice together. Then stir both together until well-coated and mixed. Chill before serving.
TIP: I’d add walnuts if I wasn’t dieting, but they crank up the calories quick, so no nuts for us. I do have some nuts, but I don’t put them in our food because they are too hard to count accurately in a recipe. Instead, I add them on top so I can adjust my fat as needed for that day.
Makes 8 cups, or 16 1/2 cup servings. We do 1/2 cup servings because we often eat them as a snack. 2 servings with salad greens is great for a full meal.
97 servings per 1/2 cup serving
15g protein, 1.8g fat, 3g carbs
5 More Chicken Salads
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!!
Transformation Requires Surrender
People love to learn what they can do to improve their life. They hunger for tips that are easy to apply, like read this devotional, attend this service, do this workout, take this supplement – but BOY do they NOT like to hear what they shouldn’t do, what they need to give up, what they need to CHANGE.
Most people are willing to work a little harder to get something, but most people are not willing to surrender. Surrender requires giving up something you like. Christianity requires giving up doing whatever you want. Fitness requires giving up eating whatever you want. The gain is worth it, but so many people resist surrender, holding on to what is really making them miserable to begin with.
That’s where the bondage comes in. We hold on to it, and it holds on to us – paralyzing us, and preventing us to be all we can be. In both cases, it’s not about doing, it’s about surrendering. Once we surrender, then and only then, can we experience real freedom. After we surrender, major life-changing transformation can begin.
Let’s establish one thing first. Food is good. Food is a gift from God. Food is to be enjoyed. Food becomes bad only when we abuse it. Excess food is damaging. Unhealthy food eaten often is damaging. When food begins to rule our life, reshape our body, destroy our self-esteem, control our thoughts, affect our health and slow us down – food is wrong. It’s sin.
I know, harsh words from the skinny girl. Food is a big topic in our house. It’s a constant struggle for us too. We love food. We love to eat, but we can’t let it control our life.
Did you know God talks about food and gives specific commands and advice about it? Why? Why does he care what we eat and how much we eat? Simple! It’s not about giving a list of things to avoid, giving us more rules to be mean. He knows what it does to us. He knows we can’t be who He called us to be while we are fat, out of shape and miserable. He knows what’s BEST for us – and He wants us to have a flourishing, healthy, happy, long, vibrant life! He is not a God of rules, He is a God of love. The same way you want your loved ones to feel good and be healthy, He wants the same for His children.
10 Scriptures Concerning Food & Our Body
Even if you don’t believe in God, there is not one person who can deny that every word written is for our benefit. That it is helpful and good. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.. Even if you just feel it’s a good self-help book, it’s words have great value and shouldn’t be taken lightly. And if you DO believe in God, then you REALLY want to take this even more seriously. Check it out…
If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. Proverbs 25:16
How many people could we feed if we shared our food instead of kept it to ourself. It’s amazing how much we are not willing to share. I bet I could feed an entire family every single day with the leftovers I should be leaving behind. Instead, we prefer to eat until we are stuffed…eating more than we even need.
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. Philippians 3:19
In verse 18, Paul actually calls these people enemies of Christ. ouch! Could it be that our testimony is affected when we don’t practice self control and when we feed our fleshly desires in such a way we are more controlled by our stomach than we are by God? hmmmmm…
…make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14
The New International Version says “do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh”. How often do we think of how much we want to indulge, planning our cheat meal, dreaming of food. We should be thinking of ways to resist it, practice control and think of things that are helpful to us and others.
#4 STUFFING YOURSELF:
When dining with a rich man, be on your guard and don’t stuff yourself, though it all tastes so good. Proverbs 23:1
Matthew Henry explains this verse, “The sin we are warned against is luxury and sensuality, and the indulgence of the appetite in eating and drinking, a sin that most easily besets us.” The next verse (vs 2) says “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.” Don’t freak! It’s not saying slit your throat here and just kill yourself if you can’t control yourself. Matthew Henry explains it beautifully saying, “We must alarm ourselves into temperance and moderation: “Put a knife to thy throat, that is, restrain thyself, as it were with a sword hanging over thy head, from all excess.” It is clear scripture takes this topic very seriously.
They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. Psalm 78:18
The people were rebelling against God, being unappreciative. They wanted meat. This is when God sent down manna, but it wasn’t long before they were complaining about that too. Can you imagine? Complaining about God giving you a miracle of food falling from the sky. Ironically, we do it all the time. God has given us a miracle too. Each plant that sprouts up from the ground and delivers us a beautiful piece of fruit is a miracle, a gift. When did eating fruit and vegetables become such a bad thing? Do we demand the food we crave and have we become unappreciative of the food God has given us? What lengths are we willing to get it?
#6 FOOD ANXIETY
“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25-34
How much do we stress about dieting, eating healthy, being around unhealthy food, dreaming about eating foods we love and anxious about eating healthy? I love this line: “Is not life more than food? Powerful!”
#7 FOOD ADDICTION:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Many are enslaved to food. We look at food like “we have the right to eat whatever we want. What scripture is saying is you “have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial” you “have a right to do anything, but do not be mastered/controlled by anything”. Sure, you have the right to eat a cookie, but does that cookie control you? Ouch again!
#8 GLUTTONY & ALCOHOLISM:
Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for they are on their way to poverty, and too much sleep (laziness) clothes them in rags. Proverbs 23:20-21
This tells me 3 things. One, it’s wrong to drink and eat too much. Two, it’s wrong to be lazy and sleep too much. Three, we shouldn’t even hang out with people that eat and drink too much. Why? It’s not because we are too good for them or that they are bad necessarily. I think it’s because God knows it’s too tempting for us to join them.
#9 UNHEALTHY CHOICES:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Eating too much and eating unhealthy foods destroys our body – plain and simple. We have an obligation to protect God’s temple, to protect our body.
#10 GOOD CHOICES: (Make God proud!)
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
How wonderful to think I can honor God even in what I eat and drink. If we never thought he cares about what we eat or drink, this scripture corrects that. He does care, and He desires us to honor him even when we eat and drink. People are always watching what we do, and He knows we can even be a good example at the table. Awesome!
Please know I struggle with this too. You aren’t alone. I hope you were encouraged by these scriptures. I know some of these scriptures seem harsh, but if your kid jets out in traffic, do you think you’d be gentle and whisper? No! You’d yell and yank them back to safety in a heartbeat. God wants to yank you to safety! He cares about you – even what you eat and drink. What LOVE! <3
This topic excites me SO much! I would love to write a book on this and a matching devotional! I pray someday I can do this!!!
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!!
Sometimes you just want a nice cool crisp pasta salad to munch on that isn’t loaded with calories. Yesterday was one of those days, so I whipped this little creation together and it came out super yummy!
Box of Rotini Whole Grain Pasta
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cup Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
1 Cup of Chopped Scallions
1 Chopped Green Pepper
28 Slices of Turkey Pepperoni (14 slices per serving)
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Minced Garlic
Salt & Cracked Pepper (to taste)
Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Boil the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and let it cool. Add all the cold ingredients and chill for nibbling later! Drizzle with the balsamic glaze and serve! I added diced grilled chicken (seen here in this pic)! YUM!
“I have a MAJOR issue with sugar from cookies, cakes, frosting etc. It is more of a psychological thing for me, because I used these kinds of food to comfort myself as a kid. The connection here is food is the only thing that loves me, so when things go bad and I need to feel loved I pig out on these types of food. Can you please give me ideas on how to STOP eating sugar?“
“Food is like an ex-lover that is just no good for me. Not just any ex, but a really sexy ex. When I think about him (food) all I remember are the good times. I forget how much pain and guilt he would cause. And after an incredible night together full of passion, he just leaves you crying on the living room floor in the fetal position full of guilt. And yet, late at night… I still want him so, so bad”.
Could this not be any better of a description of some people’s relationship with food? Loralie nailed it! You don’t have to necessarily be in an abusive relationship to get this. Any relationship that is not good for you is a great example of a bad relationship with food.
No More Compromises
I have to admit I have been pretty lucky over the years. The guys I dated were all pretty great guys, but even good guys can be BAD for you if they aren’t RIGHT for you. For instance, I dated one guy that was really an amazing guy before I met Steve. He was talented, smart, handsome, had a great family who embraced me, and was perfect – for someone, just not me.
I found myself compromising my values and settling for just a little less. Since he really was a super sweet guy, it was easy to think of all the good stuff, and easy to forget the bad. Then, one day, I realized we were both wasting precious time focusing on what was right, but ignoring what was wrong. We could either address the bad stuff right then, or we could deal with it later. Either way we were going to have to deal with it.
Good Doesn’t Mean Right
For me, it meant coming to grips with the simple fact that we were both good, but not good for each other. We were not in a healthy relationship. He was going to make a great husband – to someone else, but not me. And, I realized someone would love me exactly the way I needed to be loved, but he wasn’t going to be that guy.
I broke up with him that day, but it wasn’t easy. I cried and cried and cried – for days and weeks! BUT, I knew it was the right thing to do. It didn’t mean I wasn’t going to miss him and it didn’t mean that I would stop thinking about him. And, knowing I did the right thing was going to make it any easier. Even though I had a tremendous peace about my decision, it still hurt just the same.
I Don’t Need You Anymore
Food that isn’t good for you, in many ways, is just like a boyfriend that isn’t good for you. No matter how wonderful it makes you feel at times, it will ALWAYS let you down. Unfortunately though, we make compromises even though we don’t like the way it makes us feel.
Maybe it’s time you treat food like a bad ex. Remember, as much as you may love it, it will never love you back. Not only does it not love you, it will hurt you – leaving you feeling a little worse day by day. The only answer is to say goodbye. The longer you stay away, the stronger you will become. As you lose weight, as you get healthier, you will discover a new confidence – and you will love the new you more than you ever loved food.
It’s Time to Move On – and Move UP!
Shortly after breaking up with that guy, I met Steve. He was everything I ever dreamed of. He was romantic, loving, sensitive, funny, passionate, smart, handsome, and loved me completely. I could have NEVER imagined how good it would feel to be loved this way – and I would have never discovered his love if I didn’t first turn away from what I thought I loved at that time.
If you hold on to what just feels good right now, you may never discover just how great things could be. Healthy food loves you back. Fitness loves you back. Unhealthy food will always leave you unhealthy, and in a pit of regret and shame. Don’t let the initial taste of something sweet fool you, and lead you to a bitter end. Maybe today is your day to end your love relationship with food.
When you have chicken nearly every single day of your life, you crave change. Since red meat isn’t that healthy to eat too often, I turned to the “other white meat”, pork.
Yesterday I threw some boneless pork chops in my slow roaster to cook up some scrumptious garlic and parm chops – and OMG! They were not only super tasty, they practically fell apart they were so tender.
Garlic Parm Chops
6 Pork Chops
1/3 a stick of butter or margarine
1 finely sliced onion
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1 Packet of Instant Soup (onion or cream of chicken, optional)
1 Cup of Water
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt to taste
I mixed the water and the soup mix for the liquid base. Then I placed the pork chops and onion into a slow roaster. Lastly, I added the butter and all the seasonings on top.
I cooked it on 325 for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. I stopped to taste it, and dusted more salt, onion powder (I would have added garlic powder, but i only had minced garlic) and parmesan on top. Then, I cooked it for a few more minutes allowing the flavors to settle in. The end result was pork chops that not only were tasty, but they practically fell apart when I picked them up. TOTALLY YUM!
It’s not quite as good as garlic and parmesan chicken wings, but it’s pretty darn close! Hmmm, that makes me think! I bet dipping it in blue cheese or ranch dressing would be good!! Forget I said that! Baaaad Bonnie! Baaaad! :)