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Healthy Cooking Challenge

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I just joined the Official Healthy Cooking Challenge. I think it will help me branch out more with my food choices and find some new favorites. One of the tasks for the first week was to clean and organize your kitchen. Well yesterday I did this in an all-day cleaning marathon. I inventoried the freezer and fridge. I arranged the freezer into sections for fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, frozen yogurt (in the door), and other items. Already it is easier to find what I'm looking for. I also set aside the stuff that I used to enjoy eating, but now don't want to eat because they are pretty unhealthy. I gave those all to my dad. LOL I organized the pantry so that only the food I will actually eat is in the top 2 shelves. The rest can be used by my mom or dad when they visit. I organized the canned goods, drink mixes, snacks, and other items and made them convenient to grab and go. The spice and baking cupboards got a makeover so that everything looks neat and orderly and the things I use most often are at the bottom so I can reach them. I moved all the cookbooks from the cabinet above the oven, where no one can reach, to the corner cupboard. All the cookbooks look neat and organized so I can find what I'm looking for quickly. All the changes will make it a little difficult to get used to, but I think this will make it easier to find food I want and make it easier to figure out what I need from the grocery store.

My goals for the first week are:
1. Pack 1-2 healthy meals and 3-4 healthy snacks per week.
2. Try at least 1 new recipe per week.
3. Makeover at least 1 recipe per week.
4. Try at least 1 new healthy food (fruit/vegetable/grain) per week.

I am addicted to waffles with whipped cream and strawberries for breakfast, and I'm tired of trying to find healthy waffles at the stores (3 of the stores I frequently shop at do not have any that are even close to whole grain). I also wanted to add things like flaxseed so that they are healthier and maybe lower in calories. I bought a heart-shaped waffle maker at Walmart (for $15!) and now I needed to find a recipe. After a lot of searching, I finally found one similar to what I wanted. I tweaked it (as usual) so that I could get in the ingredients I wanted: whole wheat flour; flaxseed meal; applesauce and olive oil instead of butter, margarine, or shortening; skim milk; etc. So technically that fulfilled two goals: making a new recipe and making over a recipe. :P They were so yummy with the whipped cream and strawberries and only 40 calories each!! I made 37, ate 6 (haha), and froze the rest so I can easily reheat them in the mornings.

Another goal is from my New Year's resolution, which I am not doing so well on. Well at least the blogging part. So I'm determined to try a new food once a week. I have a few to blog still: leeks, starfruit, kumquats, plantains, and fennel. Hopefully this challenge will kick me into gear for this particular goal!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KELLY_KLW 2/13/2011 3:15PM

  Good Luck, sounds like you are really going for it emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/13/2011 3:15:25 PM

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Making recipes healthier

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So I'm not the greatest cook, but I do love food, and do love baking (especially cookies!). I love my favorite foods from growing up, but they're not always so healthy or low-cal. So I've been testing out making healthier versions of these recipes. I think I've come up with some really good ones.

Today I decided to make over one of my favorites from growing up, a casserole made with boxed mac & cheese, canned tuna, and cream of mushroom soup. Boxed mac & cheese? I don't think so. So I used whole wheat macaroni and made my own cheese sauce with olive oil instead of butter and whole wheat flour. I also used reduced fat cheddar cheese. I used canned tuna (white albacore tuna) that was canned with water instead of oil. And instead of sodium-filled cream of mushroom soup, I used fresh mushrooms. I think this recipe turned out even better than the original - although I did miss the potato chips on top a little. Maybe next time I will add some whole wheat bread crumbs on top.

I love crepes and enjoy making them as well. Our family favorite has always been crepes filled with fresh fruit (like strawberries) and whipped cream. But crepes are usually made with butter and white flour. I changed the recipe around a little and used water instead of milk to thin the batter. It takes some experience with making the batter the right consistency, but the results are amazing! Each whole wheat crepe I made had only 20 calories! Instead of whipped cream, I used Dannon Light & Fit vanilla yogurt and of course stayed with the fresh fruit. You can eat quite a few of these (I ate 10 the first time I made them) without going overboard on calories. Our whole family enjoyed these crepes for Christmas breakfast (instead of our traditional fruit fondue) with fresh strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, and honeydew melon. Yummy!

Another favorite is one that many people also have as their favorite cookie, the Nestle Toll House original recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies. These are fabulous right out of the oven or reheated for a few minutes in the toaster oven after being frozen (so you can enjoy those cookies for a long time). I decided to try the extremely challenging task of making these healthier. I try not to mess much with cookie recipes because substitutions can often totally ruin a cookie. I decided to replace some of the fat with applesauce (next I want to experiment with replacing the shortening with something without trans fat), reducing the amount of chocolate chips and also making half the chips butterscotch (I love butterscotch), and reducing the size of the cookies so you can better decide how many calories you want. In the future I not only want to experiment with the shortening, but also replace some of the white flour with whole wheat flour. But this version of the recipe has only about 50 calories per cookie!

The last recipe I manipulated that I will share here is a yummy breakfast choice. My mom and I used to make these muffins during dear hunting. The original recipe made a HUGE amount of muffins and the batter could be saved in the refrigerator to bake later on. I replaced the fat with half olive oil and half applesauce. I replaced one egg with flaxseed. I reduced the amount of sugar, replaced the buttermilk with nonfat milk, and replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour. I couldn't find 100% Bran cereal, so I used Raisin Bran instead, which also added a little dried fruit (raisins). Even though I don't like raisins, I thoroughly enjoyed the muffin, and didn't even notice the raisins. I keep these muffins in the freezer and reheat a couple in the toaster oven in the morning (you can set them out the night before to thaw). Then just spread them with some healthy jam/jelly/preserves and enjoy! The original recipe was over 110 calories each, the healthier version is only 80. This means you can enjoy more muffins! :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLAMSLAM2 1/22/2011 3:59PM

  Nice! Thanks for sharing.

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Today I'm thankful for...

Friday, January 21, 2011

I woke up to no electricity and didn't have any power until 6 hours later. We forget about how amazing electricity is and all it can help us do until it's gone! I think my turtle, fish, and snails are thankful for the electricity again too since I had to move them back and forth into a different tank and keep heating water to add (electric water heater usually keeps it warm).

The weekends
I like being busy during the week, getting everything done so I can achieve my goals. Making money, taking classes, getting another degree... it all adds up. Luckily, I work in a field where I won't work nights or weekends. So I need to cherish those times when I'm not busy, busy, busy. I keep getting mad at myself for not accomplishing all the things I think I will do on a weekend, but I need to remind myself that I deserve some time to relax and "recharge my battery".

Cell phones with internet
Seriously, what did we do without the internet and cell phones? Since the power was out, I couldn't see school closings on the TV or connect to the internet on my computer. I didn't have the phone numbers for my co-workers to see if someone could cover my shift either. Luckily my cell phone still had a charge and I could actually get on the internet to find the email with the staff phone numbers. It's crazy because I hardly ever even get a signal to call at my house, but I not only could call the electric company and my mom, I could also use the internet even though there was no power for wifi. Sure, the battery was dead before the power came back on, but I would have been totally stuck if not for my phone!

Today certainly made me think about all the things we have and think we "need" that people survived thousands of years before they were invented. I learned how to make a fire today (yes I didn't know until 25 :P) which seems kinda silly. Many of our stressors have been created from our modern "conveniences" and we have become obese because we have invented ways to take the work out of everything. Is our world really a better place because of these things, or do we just want to believe these things are worth having?


Today I am grateful for...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Got this idea from this blog:
I am trying to become an optimist after years of being pessimistic. I try to find the positives, but some days are really hard (like today... TGIF!). So here is me counting my blessings.

Today I am grateful for:
- A regular job (well actually 2 regular jobs)
Unlike many people, due to the recession, I have 2 jobs that pay the bills and keep some money in the bank. I don't have to worry about applying for jobs and interviewing for those jobs. I don't have to stress about when I will finally find a job to pay for groceries. I may not have a stress-free job (who does?), but my jobs do give me paychecks every 2 weeks and one pays most of my tuition so I can hopefully attain a higher paying job in the future.
-An education
I was able to finish high school and get myself through college as an undergrad. It might not have always been easy (which it's not supposed to be) making time for class, work, homework, and actually having a life, but I made it through and have a Bachelor's degree and a teaching license. And I'm almost done with my second license and working on the Master's degree. No matter what, I still have an upper hand on those that don't have a degree, so even if the education system dies (yeah right) or I start hating children (that might be more likely, haha just kidding), I still will be most likely to be hired at McDonalds. ;)
-My family
No matter what happens, my family will always be there to back me up and support me. I may not always agree with them, and they may not always agree with me, but they will still love me. Even if I were to go bankrupt, my parents would still let me live with them and eat their food for free. Even if I was ostracized from the whole state (which is fine since I don't like this state anyways), they would still love me and let me hide out in their basement. LOL

So yes, I am feeling a little better now. Things could always be better, but they could also always be worse. I think I'd rather not have things worse, so I better appreciate them as they are.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    It's not always easy to see the glass as being half full but you seem to be on the right track. Try doing it every day...your outlook will permanently change.

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28-Day Bootcamp Challenge - Day 7

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I can be quoted any day to say, "I hate exercise!" The only thing I like to do that's cardio (that's G rated, haha) is dancing. My back has sucked for years and now I have neck/shoulder injuries. Adds more to my lack of desire for exercising. But I told myself I would do this bootcamp and get into exercise again so I can have some muscles (I have to admit I really want six-pack abs!) and not be so out of breath in everyday activities. In my job, I have to chase after children all the time, pick up and carry infants to preschoolers, and provide a good role model when the children are in the gym (therefore I should be doing something physical).

Well I've been faithful to my 10 minutes a day of toning/strength training and 15 minute of Yoga stretching. Also have been trying to do as much cardio as possible. I find exercise so strange because after doing exercise of any kind, you should be exhausted. Which is usually true. However tonight, I'm not feeling tired. I worked this morning with my preschoolers and then infants. Chasing after certain ones and trudging through the snow. I park my car and then walk back and forth to and from work (usually about 6 blocks, but I found a closer spot today). Then I went to the other job where I picked up a jump rope and tried it for the first time in probably 10 years. I was actually quite good at it. Hard with all my work stuff on, though. Before I even left work, I was over 10,000 steps. Came home, ate, and then did 30 minutes of kickboxing. Usually I'm yelling at the lady to stop being so cruel with the exercises, but this time I really enjoyed it. Then did the toning and Yoga. I should be tired, or at least I would have been a few weeks ago. But tonight I'm feeling pretty energized. My shoulder hurts a lot from upper body toning yesterday, but otherwise I feel pretty good. I think I might actually start liking this exercise thing. And kickboxing helps me punch out my aggressions from the day... Yoga helps me focus. Yeah I think I could get into this!


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