Wednesday, January 30, 2013

20--- Queso Blanco Salsa

If you've followed my blog for some time now, you know that I have a love of faux cheese. Queso dip to be exact.

Yep.  The artificially colored shelf-stable stuff that comes in a jar combined with salsa.  I know. It's bad.  But it's so gooooood.

In my world, you get to have a vice.  AND if your vice isn't that bad (as in, compared to heroine) you get two.

And even though I know that I can indulge in my vice from time to time (I AM trying to avoid is as much as possible during pregnancy and breast feeding), I strive for better.

Here is my very real substitute.  Just in time for Super Bowl!

Queso Blanco Salsa
Serves 8

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green chiles (from a can), your choice of heat
1/2 cup half & half
10 oz queso fresco (whole milk variety), cut into small cubes
4 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 vine-ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt & fresh ground black pepper

In a small food processor, combine onion, jalapeno, and red pepper and chop finely.

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add chopped onion and pepper combination, and saute until fragrant, ~ 3-4 minutes.  Stir in green chiles and half & half.  Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium and stir in cheeses.  Continue stirring continually until all cheese is melted 

Stir in tomato and cilantro, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Heat through, stirring continually for additional 5 minutes.

*If you are going for spicy add a few dashes of cayenne pepper.

Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

STEP FIVE: Zzzzzzzzzzzz

This is STEP FIVE in my six-part series on living a healthier life!

Sleep is so important. It's a basic, primal need. It probably should have been STEP ONE. 

If you don't sleep well, it's difficult to make good decisions about food (and life in general).

And it's difficult to have enough energy and motivation to exercise (STEP SIX).

How much do you need?  Studies have shown 6-8 hours is adequate for the average person.  And those are uninterrupted hours.

You cannot "catch-up" on sleep on the weekends, or when you retire.  Our bods do not work like that.

Do what you have to do to get your hours!  

Go to bed earlier.  Sleep a little longer.  Yes, you DO have the time to sleep.  If you can honestly not find the time for sleep, something in your life may need some tweeking.  

Stay tuned for the final step next week!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

80--- Skinny Eggplant Parmesan

I believe that vegetarian cuisine should be healthy.  I mean, besides the animal-rights bit, isn't that really the point?

Traditional fried Eggplant Parmesan is not.  I lightened it up without sacrificing flavor.  Why yes, I am that good, thank you for saying so.

Skinny Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 2

1 medium eggplant, stemmed (both ends), and cut into quarters lengthwise
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed and minced
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Olive oil spray

1 tsp olive oil
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup baby kale leaves, chopped
2 cups marinara sauce (I suggest if you do not make your own to find one in the grocer's refrigerated section and make sure that sugar is not one of the first 5 ingredients)
2 Tbsp pine nuts (toasted if you wish in a nonstick pan)
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs (make your own if you wish or eliminate for gluten-free)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow covered dish.  Place eggplant slices in dish and flip to ensure they are coated with marinade.  Place covered in refrigerator for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet lightly with olive oil spray.  Place marinated eggplant on sheet, skin-side down.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until flesh is softened.

While eggplant cooks, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add chopped spinach and kale, and saute until softened.  Add marinara sauce and heat through, then reduce heat to a simmer until serving.

For serving, place eggplant slices on a plate, then drizzle each with 1/2 cup marinara sauce.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp bread crumbs over each.  Garnish with pine nuts and shredded Parmesan cheese.


Nutrition Info per 2 slices: 317 calories, 18 g fat (8 g monounsaturated, 5 g polyunsaturated), 12 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber

Thursday, January 24, 2013

80(ish)--- Faux Cinnamon Bun

I've been trying to health-ify the cinnamon roll for some time now.  But everything I've thought of just wasn't enough. Whole wheat flour can only do so much nutrition-wise.

Then I found this idea from Chocolate-Covered Katie and I ran with it.  It turns out that it's actually a decently-balanced breakfast! AND gluten-free.

Faux Cinnamon Bun
Adapted from Chocolate-Covered  Katie
Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp chopped pecans
1 1/2 Tbsp light brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

4 oz 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously spray two ramekins with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together oats, almond milk, applesauce, pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Scoop even portions into each ramekin.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Turn over each ramekin to gently remove each "bun".

For frosting: use a handheld mixer to whip powdered sugar into Greek yogurt in a small mixing bowl.

Spoon "frosting" over "buns" and sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon.

Nutrition Info per 1 bun with topping: 349 calories, 10 g fat, 13 g protein,  49 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

STEP FOUR: Eliminate the Junk

This is STEP FOUR in my six-part series: STEPS to a Healthier You!
You are halfway there! Do you feel healthier?

Now that you have added in the good (fruits and veggies) hopefully you have already made advances in pushing out the bad.

By bad I mean processed.

A large amount of "useless" calories comes from processed foods.  Limiting those foods in your diet will leave room for more nutrient-dense, less calorie-dense, foods!

How do you know that a food is processed?

Here is my easy guide:

-- If a food is in a can, box, bottle, or bag.


-- It contains one ingredient that is unfamiliar and scientific-sounding.

This is not fool-proof but pretty close!

Shopping the perimeter of your grocery store is a good way to start (processed foods are typically found in the aisles)!

Eliminating processed foods also includes eliminating FAST foods. 

Yes, cooking with whole foods and eliminating processed foods is a bit more time-consuming.

But you are worth it!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

80--- Mexican Butternut Bisque

Butternut squash is full of antioxidants! Perfect for the cold and flu season.  This soup is so easy and a new twist on an old favorite.

Mexican Butternut Bisque
Serves 5-6

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed and minced
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
(2) 4 oz cans diced green chiles
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (you may use regular if you wish)
Fresh ground black pepper

1 large tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a soup pot.  Add cumin seeds, garlic and chopped onion and saute until fragrant, ~ 3 minutes.  Stir in red bell pepper, carrots, green chiles, and squash.  Add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and saute for additional 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining vegetable broth, chili powder, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until squash is soft.  

Use an immersion blender to puree soup. As an alternative, you may add batches of soup to a blender and puree, then return to the pot.  Reduce heat to low after pureed.

In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients.

Serve soup garnished with 1 Tbsp topping.

Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups: 165 calories, 2 g fat, 10 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 6.5 g fiber

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Albion Fit Hoodie Winner

Congratulations to Laura Ferrin! You have won yourself a hoodie from Albion Fit!  You will be contacted by them via email for your hoodie choice.

Thank you everyone! Please keep sharing Eighty Twenty! When I hit 1000 likes there will be another fantastic giveaway!

Friday, January 18, 2013

80--- Loaded Tuna Melts

Sorry for this photo! Not sure about where you reside, but here in MT it gets dark-ish at 4:30pm. And then I have to bust out my trusty light kit....which does not do food justice.
When I say "loaded" do you think "bacon"? Why IS that? Us darn Americans.

Let's change that.

Loaded= more vegetables

Loaded Tuna Melts
Serves 6

3 cans albacore tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped red onion (~1/2 medium onion)
1/2  cup chopped baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup chopped baby kale leaves (if you can't find it use regular kale- no it won't kill you)
1 vine-ripe tomato, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed and minced finely
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 Tbsp capers (use more if you love 'um)
1/4 cup pepperoncinis


3 Tbsp olive oil mayonnaise (sorry- had to)
2 Tbsp dill pickle juice
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp dry mustard

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 slices whole grain bread, toasted (Dave's Killer Bread is my fave)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together tuna salad ingredients in a medium bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients separately in a small bowl, then add to tuna mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Spoon ~1/2 cup tuna mixture onto each slice of toast and top with 3 Tbsp cup shredded cheese.  Place each loaded toast onto a baking sheet and bake for ~10 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.


Nutrition Info per 1 melt: 227 calories, 8 g fat, 26 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

STEP THREE: Fruits and Vegetables
This is STEP THREE in my six step process to a healthier life.  Please start with STEP ONE.

Now that you're aware of what's going in, let's make a few additions.  Does it seem odd that we are adding food in before taking it away? Well. By filling up on the good stuff, it pushes out the bad stuff. Doesn't mean we won't have to trim the fat down the road.  But for right now focus on getting in the goods.

How much produce should you eat every day? A load.  

It should take up the majority of your diet.

But let's start with 5 servings.  Fruits and vegetables.  Total.  Not five of each (unless you CAN right out of the gate- then go for it).

What is a serving? 

Vegetables: one cup of raw, 1/2 cup cooked

Fruits: size of a baseball, one cup of berries or melon, small banana

Try to get in the whole stuff and don't default to juices.  For the fiber! And for filling your stomach!

And try to get as much COLOR and variety as possible.  

And one last thing: potatoes and corn are NOT vegetables.  At least not in this sense.  They are starches.  

May your week be very fruitful. And vegetableful. 

STEP FOUR coming next week!

Monday, January 14, 2013

20(ish)--- Lemon Chia Seed Mini Muffins

I tried my darndest to make these muffins without using oil or butter.  Nothing really worked that didn't change the flavor or texture.  So I decided to just make them mini and the "ish" comes from practicing the principle of moderation.........and the chia seeds.

Chia seeds are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  Add them to your oatmeal or smoothies for a little nutritional boost!

Lemon Chia Seed Mini Muffins
Makes ~30 mini muffins

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, use a handheld mixer to combine butter and sugar.  Mix in yogurt, eggs, and vanilla, then finally lemon zest and juice.

In a smaller mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

Use a whisk to gently mix dry ingredients into wet.  Add chia seeds and mix until just combined (do not over mix).

Spoon batter into greased mini muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool prior to storage in an airtight container.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

GIVEAWAY- Albion Fit Hoodie

As promised, since I have reached 500 "likes" on my Facebook page........................................

Albion Fit is a family-owned workout clothing company in Utah that specializes in women's fitness and swimwear.

I am what you may call a hoodie-aholic.  I love me a good hoodie.  I live in the Artic (actually Montana but this time of year they are one in the same, as I write this is it -8 degrees) and NEED me a good hoodie.  Or five.

This is one.

Qualifiers of a good hoodie:

1. It is soft
2. It has a bit of stretch
3. It fits close to the bod and doesn't look like I'm wearing my hubby's sweatshirt
4. It has nice detail
5. It has thumbholes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Albion's Signature Hoodie fits the bill.

Do you want one?

I will give you one in the color of your choice:

All you need to do is "like" Albion Fit's Facebook page AND comment on this post as to which of Albion Fit's products you like best off of their website.  You MUST include your email address along with your comment (I promise I will not solicit you in any way except to give you things).

AND everyone gets a $10 off coupon code for their website!!!
Enter eat802010 at checkout (expires 3/1/2013).

Love me a sale too.

Winner will be chosen randomly and announced in ONE WEEK on Saturday, January 17th.

This giveaway is sponsored by Albion Fit, however all opinions and review comments are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

80(ish)--- Lighter Cream of Mushroom Soup with Chicken

Cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken? Now you don't have to choose.

Mushrooms are a wonderful source (plant source!) of vitamin D.  The nutrition of a mushroom varies greatly depending on the soil it is grown in.  How do you know? Well, you don't unless you grow your own.  Just cross your fingers when you eat funghi and hope for the D!

Don't wash your mushrooms until you are ready to use them! The dirt will actually help them to ward off bacteria (much like a berry) and keep them fresher longer.

Lighter Cream of Mushroom Soup with Chicken
Serves 8

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp olive oil
3 leeks, whites chopped, greens discarded
2 lb mushrooms (any variety you choose), washed well, stemmed and sliced (~4 cups sliced)
3 Tbsp white flour
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups skim milk
16 oz light sour cream
2 cups shredded white meat chicken
1 cup frozen peas (because peas belong in soup)
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or to taste

In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, then stir in leeks.  Saute until leeks are softened slightly, ~ 3 minutes.  Add in mushrooms and 1/2 cup broth and saute until mushrooms soften slightly, ~5 minutes.  Sprinkle in white flour, coating mushrooms and leeks.  Saute an additional 3 minutes.

Pour in vegetable broth and milk, then whisk in sour cream.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Continue to heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in frozen peas and shredded chicken and cook until heated through. 


Nutrition Info per 1 1/2 cups: 225 calories, 7.5 g fat, 19 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

STEP TWO: Write It Down

This is STEP TWO in my six-part guide to a healthful lifestyle.

Keeping track of your diet is key to making changes to it.  Even if you know that you eat really healthy, write it down for a few days and double-check!

Research has shown that individuals who track their intake and physical activity have more success with weight loss and weight maintenance. 

So grab a little notebook, or purchase a food journal.  You can also use a website (such as my personal fave) to track it.  However, from my experience people who take the time and put pencil to paper have more success.

After one week you will see trends and then be able to make solid decisions as to what needs to change.  Track serving sizes, and time of day that you are eating also.

Stay tuned for STEP THREE next week!

Monday, January 7, 2013

80(ish)---Saffron Coconut Sticky Rice

White rice may not be the most nutritious grain.  But it can add good flavor to a meal, without being heavy in calories and fat.  This sticky rice is a perfect addition to any Asian meal.

Saffron Coconut Sticky Rice
Serves 4-5

1 cup medium grain white rice
1 can lite coconut milk
1 cup water
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Mix all ingredients in a medium nonstick saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently so that rice does not stick to the pan.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Stir frequently and cook for ~15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit for ~5 minutes prior to serving.

Nutrition Info per ~1/2 cup: 160 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber

Saturday, January 5, 2013

80--- Berries & Cream Fridge Oats

Do you love oatmeal but don't have time to cook it every morning? Then fridge oats are for you.  Make them the night before and eat them cold in the morning.  No more excuses for skipping breakfast!

Berries & Cream Fridge Oats
Serves 1

1/4 cup steel cut oats
3 Tbsp old fashioned oats
1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk (I used vanilla unsweetened almond milk- my fave!)
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
2 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Place all ingredients in a covered glass container, cover and shake to mix.  Place in refrigerator overnight (8-12 hours), then eat in the morning!

Nutrition info per 1 serving: 385 calories, 12 g fat (6 g monounsaturated, 3 g polyunsaturated), 19 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber

Thursday, January 3, 2013

80--- Vegan Lentil Taco "Meat"

Lentils are fun.  They soak up the flavors of whatever you cook them in.  Toss them in your slow cooker and after 8 hours you have a meatless meal with lots of flavor and fiber.

Vegan Lentil Taco "Meat"
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups lentils (I used beluga lentils)
3 cups vegetable broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (low sodium preferred)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Dash cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Place all ingredients into your slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours.  Serve in a tortilla, on nachos, in a taco salad, etc.

Nutrition info per 1/2 cup: 83 calories, 0 g fat, 7 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Step ONE to a Healthy Lifestyle

So you want to be healthier? No matter what that means to you, the steps are all the same.

Step ONE:

 Set a GOAL

1. Set a long-term goal.  Is that goal weight loss, more exercise, etc? What would the FINAL and ULTIMATE goal be? Set a realistic time to that goal.  No, losing 30 lbs in a month is not realistic.  But losing 4-8 lbs is (see #2).

2.  Break that long term goal into smaller, reachable goals.  Key here is reachable.  If you set a goal too high and fail, you may be less likely to continue towards your long term goal.  Set dates to your smaller goals, much like your longer goal.  Want to run a marathon next summer? Then set a goal of a 10K in two months.

3.  WRITE IT DOWN.  Make a "contract" with yourself.  Put it somewhere visible.

Use this week to put some serious thought into the above items.  Stay tuned for Step TWO next week..............