Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vegetarian Lasagna with Meat

I. Am. So. Full.

So full in fact, that this blog post is going to be much shorter than I originally planned. Because I can barely move.

And by that I mean I'm going to be too busy shoveling another piece into my face.

Quick backstory. I saw this recipe for Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna on my Aunt Becky's Facebook wall about a week ago. It seemed like a GREAT idea...that is until I realized my slow cookers had gotten left behind in Wisconsin when I moved. No problem! I'll just adapt the recipe to regular lasagna.

1 16 oz container of ricotta cheese
1/2 cupish real parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 envelope of Lipton Recipe Vegetable Mix
1 lb of ground turkey
1 jar of your choice of spaghetti sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 container for fresh mushrooms
2 large stalks of celery
1 chunk of diced onion
1 bag of frozen spinach (defrost and squeeze out remaining liquid)
12 lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat noodles)
An unidentified amount of shredded mozzerella cheese

Because I've been trying to eat SUPER healthy, I try to pack in LOTS of veggies. I hit the produce aisle once a week at the grocery store to keep everything fresh. I added the ground turkey for the protein since I'm doing some pretty intense cardio workouts lately.

Here's what you do...

1) In a bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, the egg, and the Lipton mix. Set aside.

 2) Brown ground turkey in a frying pan. Add various delicious Penzey's spices. Add jar of spaghetti sauce. Add can of diced tomatoes.

3) At a same time, throw a little olive oil into another frying pan with onion. Add mushrooms. Add celery. When veggies are nice and colorful, throw the spinach on top.

4) Add veggie frying pan to meat/tomato fry pan.

5) Don't forget to boil your noodles sometime.

Do you see my layers?
This made me two 8x8 pans. One I'll eat now. One is going into the freezer. Spray your Pyrex container with Pam Olive Oil before layering.

6) Put down a layer of noodles.
7) Put down a layer of meat/veggie mixture.
8) Put down a layer of ricotta mixture.
9) Sprinkle on mozzerella cheese.
10) Repeat as necessary.

I threw it into the oven at 400ยบ for about 20 minutes.

Take out of oven. Use oven mitts. (Just a friendly reminder because you're going to be so excited to eat this.) Eat. Enter food coma.
Thanks for reading. I need to go eat some more. Yum!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Yum yum nom nom...Salsa Covered Chicken!

If you've read my blog before, you'll know that I wrote a post back in March where I brought up some of the struggles that I have had with maintaining a healthy weight, as some of the successes that I'd experienced thus far. That was four months ago.

A lot has changed in four short months...four months, two job offers (both of which were incredibly difficult decisions), buckets of tears, "one last" beers, a cross country move, a fallen bathroom ceiling, late nights, early mornings, a triathlon (which resulted in a 3 week sickness), a quarter marathon (see the picture at left), Summerfest, Brewers games, spending as much time as possible with the people I love, trying to become familiar with a new school, new routines, new procedures, more security codes than I can remember, etc. Let's just say that the last month I was in Wisconsin I didn't practice the healthiest habits. I enjoy more Spotted Cow than I normally would...because you can't get it outside of Wisconsin. Taco Bell became a regular stop because it was cheap and easy and delicious and my kitchen was already packed. Working out became a thing of the past and was replaced with packing late at night so that I could spend as much time as possible with people during normal daylight hours.

Needless to say, by the time I had gotten to Arizona and had partially unpacked (I say partially because I am still using boxes as furniture...I really need some bookcases) I hadn't totally fallen off of the bandwagon, but I was headed down a poor path. So...after only having been here three days, I went off in search of a gym. I visited a couple different ones, considered the different pricing vs. what I was looking for. I decided that my priorities in a gym were (in no particular order):

  1. Pool. I have bad knees and ankles and it's important for me to have low-impact workout options available.
  2. Hours. I need a place that I always have access to with my soon to be crazy schedule that is fairly close to home.
  3. Environment. I was looking for a place where I could make some connections with people...since I was now living in a state where I could literally count the number of friends (that weren't 1800 miles away) on one hand. I also wanted a place environment where I could just go and get my sweat on if I didn't feel like talking to anyone.
  4. Cost. I gotta be able to afford it, or at least rationalize the cost into my budget.

I joined the Lifetime Fitness on Tuesday, July 16th. (Seriously check out the website...it's GORGEOUS. They even had a rock wall. I love all the pools.) I have been to the gym everyday since. It's my sanity. Lots of perks when you join. One of the things that's included is a basic health assessment. They draw blood and break down things like fat and cholesterol to see what changes inside yourself you need to make, in addition to what you want to make on the outside. (I'm currently working on upping my "good" cholesterol" in case you were wondering...everything else was great numbers-wise.) Well, my metabolic specialist (fancy, right?) knew I wanted to work on dropping some pounds and suggested the 90 day weight-loss challenge that was about to kick off. I figured this was a great way to throw myself back into my healthy eating habits, feel better about myself, and even meet some new people (which I totally did tonight!) Each Tuesday you weigh in, they record it, and they offer some sort of class/seminar on either some sort of physical activity or positive eating habits.

Long story short (or long story long), I'm signed up. Last Saturday morning was my weigh in (181.1 pounds) and tonight when I weighed in (which I was dreading because I HATE weighing myself at night) at 177.9 pounds. Wow. That's the last thing I expected to see at the end of the day. Yay me!

Now before y'all jump on me and tell me that's too much too fast, and I start to get the "are you eating enough" texts...let me assure you. I am eating plenty. But I've changed when I'm eating. Nice thing about starting over in a new place, is that you start over in your kitchen. If it's not healthy (with the exception of Magnum bars...bachelorette tradition with my cousin), I don't buy it. If I don't buy it, it's not in my kitchen. If it's not in my kitchen, I can't eat it. If I don't eat it, problem eliminated. On the plus side, I am eating LOTS of protein (yes little A...the means lots of chicken breasts), tons of veggies (lots of colors), a variety of fruits (mostly berries), fats that are good for me, and I'm taking my vitamins and fish oil everyday.

All of this has been a VERY long intro for the recipe that I made tonight which was SO delicious that I wanted to share it with all of you. The main body of the recipe came from my friend who is on his own journey of healthy cooking. (Side note: It's awesome to have someone to get healthy recipes from and bounce cooking ideas off of...I highly recommend!) All measurements can be altered to your particular preference...there's no wrong way of making this one!

Yum yum nom nom Salsa Covered Chicken
2 large roma tomatoes
1/2 a cucumber
1/3 green pepper
1 stalk of celery
1/2 red onion
1 chunk of fresh mozzarella (emphasis on fresh...don't get the cheap brick stuff. The difference is worth it.)

Dice all ingredients. Put into bowl. Drizzle with olive oil (I used light). Season to liking. I used Penzey's Sweet Basil (French), a dash of Penzey's Oregano (Mexico), Penzey's Shallot Salt, a little Penzey's Onion Powder, a couple shakes of salt. Oh! And Penzey's Garlic Powder. Stir. Carefully. Really more like fold the ingredients together. Gently.

While those flavors were all infusing together. I threw some chicken breasts that had been sliced on my griddle. Those got Penzey's Chicago Steak Seasoning sprinkled liberally on them while grilling. Once they were done, I cut them up, gave one last stir to the salsa, and then generously put the salsa on top of the chicken. (If you are not cooking with Penzey's Spices, I insist that you stop reading for a moment and locate your closest retail store. Your cooking will never be the same. The picture at right is my cooking spice rack. There's another section for baking spices!)

Oh. My. Goodness. 

It was really good. And this from a girl who isn't particularly fond of tomatoes. I seriously couldn't shovel it into my mouth fast enough. Filling, healthy, light, and relatively easy to make (I made enough for my lunch tomorrow too)...I have a feeling that this is going to become a regular in the Arizona version of this Opps' House. And yes...I'm eating on a paper plate. Busy girl. Less clean up, more healthy cooking time.

Anyway, I should head to bed. Sleep is ALSO an important part of being healthy! Please check back (or share with others!) if you enjoyed my ramblings tonight. 89 days to go. I'll *try* very hard to keep everyone up to date on how it's going, as well as more recipes I try, and whatever else might be on my mind at the time. I'm just me...a work in progress. =) Happy Hump Day everyone!