Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hey there!

I'm just updating to say that today I'm starting to be more strict with my diet and exercise and keep you guys updated with my results/progress.  I eat and cook healthy the vast majority of the time, but if you've read my other blog, Journey to a CPA, you'd know I've been pretty stressed out lately with studying and balancing life.  The past few days I ate very poorly.  When I am stressed out and overwhelmed I crave carbs, sweets, anything I can get my hands on.  After about 4 days of "letting myself go" I knew I had to get back on track.  I took my test yesterday and ended my streak of binge eating. 

I started off today with fruit for breakfast (watermelon, strawberries & blueberries) and for lunch I had a salad with grilled chicken, avocado, red onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and baby lettuce with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Now I'm munching on pomegranate and more strawberries and blueberries.  The main things I plan to almost eliminate from my diet (at least for a few weeks until I'm satisfied with how I feel inside and out) are chips (even the "healthy kinds"), breads, pastas, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and any full fat cheeses.  Basically I'm limiting my intake of not-so-good-for-you carbs, cheese (which I normally don't go a day without), and watching with the sweets, even frozen yogurt which I LOVE!!! After a few weeks, once I feel back on track, I will slowly begin to incorporate some of these foods back into my diet in moderation.  I just feel like I need a good "detox".  I am not one to juice or do a cleanse, and frankly if you eat clean foods and exercise, I think you'll feel better and get greater results!  Can't wait to hit the gym tonight! 

"The race is long and in the end it's only with yourself."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Snack Time!

Hi Everyone!

Sorry it's been a few days, I have been busy studying for my upcoming test---YIKES! 

Hope your holiday weekend was a great one, the weather was sure to please!  I wasn't able to make it to the beach but nonetheless I enjoyed some good times with my boyfriend and his friends, picked up my new car and had a Memorial Day BBQ :) (new recipes soon to come). 

For now, I wanted to share with you all two of my favorite energy/food bars, Raw Revolution's Organic Live Food Bar (Spirulina & Cashew Flavor) and Greens + Chia Energy Chocolate Bar.  

I came across the Raw Revolution bar at my local Stop and Shop.  I was attracted to it rather than the 30 other bars on the shelf because it's made with all organic and live foods.  The ingredients include dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, spirulina, and sprouted flax seeds among others.  

One of my favorite ingredients is the spirulina due partly to its high protein content.  Spirulina is a complete protein, which means it has an adequate amount of all nine essential amino acids necessary for dietary needs.  Spirulina is packed with essential fatty acids, as well as number of B, C, D & E Vitamins.  Regular spirulina intake has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure and also be effective in reducing allergic rhinitis, which can often lead to chronic sinusitis.  

I'm also a big fan of flax seeds, which are in the Raw food bar as well.  Flax seeds can be found in a number of foods today--bars, chips, crackers, granola and almond butter (amongst others).  Flax seeds have numerous components which them beneficial to your health, but the three items which outshine the rest are their Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, Lignans and Fiber.  

As many of you may already know, Omega 3 Fatty Acids are the "good" fats we should all be consuming to keep our hearts healthy.  Flax seeds contain more lignans than any other plant food.  These lignans contain many antioxidant qualities.  Lastly, diets rich in fiber help regulate your digestive system and satisfy cravings.  

Now that you know some of the chemistry that makes up the Raw food bar, how does it taste? Surely it cannot taste great if it's THAT great if it's that healthy for you is what you're probably thinking.  Well, in my opinion, it's not molten chocolate lava cake, but it is pretty good.  The texture is rather "soft/mushy" but it's not too gritty and the cashew and other nut flavors dominate any plant taste one might expect from the spirulina.  At only $1 and change at local supermarkets, this fully organic, no sugar added bar is definitely one of your best bets.  I pack one in my purse at all times and whenever I need a pick me up, or just feel hungry, I munch on one. 

Now, the second bar I mentioned, Greens + Chia was actually given to me as a gift.  I received a box during the holidays from a friend and was apprehensive to try them.  Boy was I wrong!  If you're looking for taste AND nutrition, this is your choice.  The one I prefer is the chocolate energy bar.  This bar is packed with super-foods and coated with chocolate... what's there not to like?  The ingredients are too voluminous to name individually, but I will definitely point out some pros of this bar. 
First, contains no processed sugar, salt, corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, synthetic sweeteners, preservatives, or genetically-modified foods of any kind.  High fructose corn syrup, as well as added sugars in general, have been shown to cause adverse side effects--weight gain, cavities and even higher triglyceride levels making you at greater risk for heart attacks.  High fructose corn syrup has also been shown to be addictive which explains why people become so dependent on certain foods to lift their moods and make them feel satisfied.  Making sure the bars/snacks you choose are free of corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners is crucial. A little thing to watch out for when reading nutrition labels is "corn sugar."  Many companies have decided to remove the term "high fructose corn syrup" from their labels because educated consumers began thwarting products which contained HFCS.  People who read "corn sugar" may be tricked into thinking the item contains the vegetable "corn" & natural "sugar".  This isn't the case, and is just a fancy way companies are attempting to market their less than healthy items. 
 Next, because the bar does not contain any hydrogenated oils, your cholesterol levels are not at risk.  Foods containing hydrogenated oils (margarine, fried foods, processed foods & commercially baked goods to name a few) contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disease and even memory loss.  My goal here is to show you that this bar is made from the most organic, raw foods around and has nothing in it that will harm your body.  It's a flavorful, filling snack (or meal replacement if two bars are consumed) that will give your body energy and nutrients to push through a workout or even simply beat the afternoon blues at work until the clock strikes 5pm.

In a later post, I will include a how-to on homemade protein bars.  I've ventured down this path once and the results were pretty good.  Next time I make them, I will document the process and detail the recipe and steps so you can give it try for yourself!

Have a great (short) week everyone :)        



Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Monday!

Hope you all had a delightful and relaxing weekend.  I spend Friday night with my boyfriend having "date night."  I prepared our meal the night before so we didn't have to spend time cooking and cleaning.  I made grilled chicken breast and vegetable skewers accompanied by a light salad (recipe/preparation to follow below).  Saturday the two of us completed a 7 mile run together which was nice since the weather was so pleasant.  My mom actually worked on Mother's Day so I spent the day home studying preparing for my upcoming exam (while tanning in the yard as well).

 As far as this "recipe" goes, it's pretty effortless and customizable to your own tastes/wants.

For the chicken breast, I tried something new.  I marinated them in olive oil, cumin, ground cloves, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper.  You can let this marinate for hours depending on when you prepare it and want to ultimately cook it.  

Chicken Marinating
As far as the kebabs, if you use wooden skewers like myself, you must soak them in water for about 30-45 minutes.  This will ensure they don't catch fire on the grill.  If you are using metal skewers then you save yourself this step!  I skewered the kebabs with sliced zucchini, yellow onion, orange pepper, cherry tomatoes, and Baby Bella mushrooms.  These are some of my favorite veggies but obviously you can pretty much substitute in any veggie you wish.

Skewered Veggies

I grilled the chicken breasts on high for about 10 minutes, flipping them once or twice making sure there are visible grill marks.  

I cooked the skewers on the top rack of the grill so they aren't in direct contact with the flame.  These take a little longer to cook than the chicken does so you want to throw them on about 10 minutes prior to the chicken or you can cook them with the chicken and just keep them on a little longer after you remove the chicken from the grill.  

A new salad I tried out included cherry tomatoes, scallions, watercress, and cucumber.  I halved the tomatoes, diced the cucumber, and chopped up some scallions and watercress.  I drizzled the salad with olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Simple yet tasty and refreshing.

Cucumber Tomato Salad
This meal was light and low in fat and carbohydrates.  The preparation is on the easy side, as most of the work lies in skewering and grilling the veggies and chicken.  The grilled veggies and chicken work great as leftovers too.  An easy meal to make on a gorgeous day whether it's just you and your significant other or a group of friends.  Everyone's sure to love it!

I came across a great quote today, "Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who are patient."  I find it so true!  Waiting and being patient are two different things.  No matter what life throws at you, where you are and where you want to be are all decided by YOUR hard work and determination.  Nothing good in life comes without struggle or persistence.  You can apply this to life in general, to your health and wellness goals or to a particular situation you may be facing.  For me currently, it's a little bit of each!  I know with hard work and patience my efforts will pay off in the long run in terms of my career, health and personal life.  So keep in mind that you must stick with whatever it is that you desire, and in the end with enough hard work you will obtain what you set out to achieve :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Friday! (& Happy Birthday Mommy!)

Good Afternoon Fellow Bloggers/Followers! Are you as happy as I am that today is Friday!?  I just wanted to share a quick afternoon snack that I am currently having at work which is a sliced banana drizzled with Natural Roasted Creamy Almond Butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. 

This snack is great because not only is it super tasty, the components are packed with vitamins, nutrients and overall health benefits.  Bananas are filled with dietary fiber (which aids digestion and curbs overeating), Vitamin B6 (which acts as an anti-inflammatory decreasing chances of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity) and potassium (which aids in bone health and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels).  As you can see, there are many benefits to eating bananas.  

The Almond Butter has many of the same benefits as bananas plus more! It's good for your heart, can help lower blood pressure, contains antioxidants, and can help you maintain a healthy weight because of its high protein content which makes you feel full longer.  

Last but not least, you can't forget about the cinnamon!  Many people are surprised to find that incorporating a little cinnamon into your diet daily can add some great benefits.  A few of the benefits of cinnamon include it's ability to regulate blood sugar, reduce LDL cholesterol levels,  reduce pain linked to arthritis, lessen menstrual pain, increase fertility, and studies have also shown it may reduce chronic inflammation linked with various neurological disorders.

So why wouldn't you want to eat this delicious snack? I mean, if you're like my good friend Pete who's allergic to both bananas AND tree nuts (eh hem, ALMONDS)...well then you just suck!  Don't worry, I'll feature a great snack idea for any of you who are like my friend in the near future.

Anyways, I hope you all have a good weekend and Mother's Day, the weather looks very promising!  I will be off to happy hour in less than two hours which I am very excited about :)

Remember to make healthy choices this weekend! I'll be back towards the end of the weekend with some more yummy recipes and/or health tips.  Adios for now! 

"Being weak is a choice, so is being strong!" -Apply this to any goals you set, mentally or physically.  Whether it's running an extra mile or turning down that chocolate chip cookie, remember it's your choice, challenge your will power and you will appreciate the results.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On-The-Go Breakfast Smoothie

I love breakfast smoothies, though I don't always have the time in the mornings to make them.  When I do, I try to vary the ingredients and come up with new combinations.  Today I tried something new and I actually loved the result!  Remember, it's never too late to start or get back on track with your health and fitness goals.  As Mark Twain once said, "the secret of getting ahead is getting started."

- 1/2 Cup Water
- Crushed Ice
- 1/2 Banana
- Dash of Cinnamon 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  This smoothie will keep you full for hours because of the high protein concentration.  Though the kefir is on the sour side, the pumpkin butter, cinnamon & vanilla protein powder balance this leaving you with a refreshing, slightly sweet smoothie even KIDS would enjoy, yes, I said your kids would enjoy this! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it kick starts your metabolism and sets the pace for the rest of your day.  Don't deprive your body of it's needed nutrients.  Fuel up and tackle whatever the day may bring!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yummy Zucchini Parm

If you're like me, you LOVE anything "Parmesan"! Here's a healthier take on the traditional eggplant Parmesan which is usually breaded and fried/baked.  My version uses zucchini instead of eggplant (a personal preference, feel free to substitute) and does not have any breading or involve any frying.  It's a filling option as a main dish (vegetarian) but can also work well as a side dish.

Top Layer of Sliced Zucchini
1 Lg. Can Crushed Tomatoes in puree
4-5 Large Green Zucchini (Squash)
1 Med-Large Cont. Fat Free Ricotta Cheese
1 Bag Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Bag Reduced Fat/Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Chopped Parsley 
Fresh Chopped Basil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
1 Egg

  1. Preheat Oven to 375*
  2. Begin by cleaning zucchini and slicing it lengthwise (see pictures for how sliced zucchini should look).
  3. In a bowl combine ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, egg, salt, pepper & some garlic powder.  Stir until egg is combined throughout mixture and mixture is slightly creamy.
  4. Spray oven safe tin or glass tray with Pam Spray to ensure items do not stick.
  5. Line bottom of tray with a thin layer of the crushed tomatoes.
  6. Arrange a layer of the sliced zucchini on top of the crushed tomatoes.
  7. Spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini and spread across the tray.  
  8. Add a layer of the shredded mozz. (I like to put 1/2 fat free and 1/2 low fat)
  9. Add another layer of sliced zucchini and top with remaining crushed tomatoes.
  10. Cover tray with tin foil and bake for about 30-35 minutes (until zucchini becomes tender).
  11. Take tin foil off tray, top with shredded mozzarella and turn oven up to 400*
  12. Bake uncovered until cheese melts and becomes light golden brown.
  13. Set aside for a 5-10 minutes before cutting to allow cheese and ricotta mixture for harden slightly. 
  14. ENJOY :)

Spooned On Layer of Ricotta Mixture (Step # 7)

Finished Product, YUM!
***Skipping the breading and frying traditionally associated with Eggplant/Zucchini Parmesan save a ton of calories, as does swapping fat-free and low-fat cheeses as opposed to using the whole/full fat versions restaurant undoubtedly use.  I made this for my boyfriend and all he kept asking was, "Is this low fat cheese? Is there oil? Are you sure this is low fat?"  This is really one of those dishes you can make for people and they won't be able to tell is "healthy" or will keep their waistline in check***

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tuesday's Workout & Breakfast for Dinner Recipe!

After my long Sunday run, I decided to take Monday off from working out.  I had worked out 6 days last week and was feeling pretty good and my body definitely needed a days rest.  Not to mention, yesterday was Day 1 of studying for my last section of the CPA Exam.  I sit for the last part May 30th, so balancing my career, studies, working out, cooking & eating healthy are no doubt going to be a little more difficult for the next month, but it's a task I am willing to tackle!  Tonight I am working out at my gym, 24 Hour Fitness, which I have been a member at for over 3 years now and I absolutely LOVE IT THERE.  When I'm not on one of the cardio machines you can find me taking a number of their Group X Classes.  These classes range from spin to strength and barbell training classes.  Without these classes and the dedicated instructors, I would not be at the fitness level I am at today.  Working in groups gives me extra motivation and that extra push to make myself a better me inside and out.  Tonight I am taking one of Les Mills classes called "Body Attack" which is a high intensity cardio and old school aerobics class. I have taken it a few times in the past and it definitely kicked my butt, so I am looking forward to the challenge tonight.  After that, I am partaking in a new boot camp-styled class that my gym has been offering over the past month or so titled "Ghost Recon."  This class challenges all muscle groups with numerous strength and cardio training drills.  My first time taking the class was last week and I am excited to be back for more this week!  The class is definitely taxing on your body but after a few weeks of attending I'm almost positive you will love the results and progress you'll see. 

I didn't have much time to food shop or cook an elaborate meal, so I had "breakfast for dinner." Here's my recipe for a heart healthy, veggie pack frittata that brings me back to spending the weekends with my grandparents. (My Nonna would often make frittata as part of dinners which I always loved!) Enjoy!  Add or subtract veggies to your own taste :)


  • 4 Whole Eggs (Yolks and ALL!)
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 Medium Green Squash Diced
  • 1 Bag Baby Spinach Cleaned/Dried
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus Diced
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion Diced
  • Few teaspoonfuls of water 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Heat skillet with a few teaspoonfuls of the olive oil over medium heat.  Throw in squash, asparagus and onion.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes until veggies are tender and golden brown. 
  2. In the mean time, preheat oven to 375* and beat together whole eggs, egg whites, water and salt & pepper (I am not CRAZY about egg whites alone, so I usually incorporate the yolks from half of the eggs as in this case 8 eggs, 4 yolks).
  3. Toss spinach with veggies until wilted and pour beaten eggs into skillet over veggie mixture.
  4. Cook eggs over medium heat being sure to lift eggs from the sides of the skillet and cooking until eggs are pretty much formed and solid (like an omelet)
  5. Place skillet into oven and let the frittata finish cooking - about 10 minutes until top is no longer runny and eggs are fully cooked. (Make sure your skillet is oven safe and if the handle is rubber cover it with some tin foil before placing it in the oven)
  6. Take the frittata out of the oven and either slide the entire thing onto a large round plate, or you can simply cut little triangles straight from the pan and enjoy!
This no-brainer frittata is loaded with protein and healthy veggies.  The possibilities are endless for add-ins, I also enjoy frittatas with tomato, mushroom, peppers, cheese, the list goes on.  It's truly a quick, easy and customizable breakfast, lunch or dinner!