Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Jump-Start Your Day With Food

We have been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It jump starts our body and minds; making us alert and energized. Studies have even shown that eating breakfast can help us to stay at a healthier weight. Does that mean that starting your morning with a donut or scone and a latte will get you on the right track toward swimsuit season? We could only wish. Unfortunately, for most of us, that is not the case.

All breakfasts are not created equal. There is a great commercial out now where it takes you through 2 possible eating days for a young, professional woman. On one side, she chooses the donut. On the other side, she chooses a Nutri-Grain bar. As the day goes on, the scenario where she chooses the donut just leads to day of continuous poor choices. The Nutri-Grain day motivates the woman to make healthy choices for lunch, snacks and dinner. In the end, she is feeling energized and happy, unlike the run-down donut-choosing version of herself. Is there any truth to this?

I believe that there is. When I start our day with a healthy, balanced breakfast, I’m more likely to continue to make smart food choices throughout the rest of the day. I like the way I feel when eating well. Over-processed foods loaded with fat and sugar only bring me down. I can really feel the difference a “not-so-good” breakfast can make. Sure, that Southern Style Chicken Biscuit sure does sound good on my way to work, but by 10am, I am ready for a nap or looking for something (sugary sweets) to bring me back up. It isn’t worth it to me to eat this way on a regular basis. We are busy people. Who has time to feel tired and run-down? I need all of the extra boost I can get!

If breakfast has been more of an after-thought for you, challenge yourself to starting the day off right with a low-fat breakfast including whole-grains, protein and fruits or vegetables. Try it for a week and see how you feel. I would love to hear if focusing on your first meal helped all the others fall into healthy place. Welcome a great breakfast back into your morning!

For more information on healthy breakfasts, visit this article from http://www.mayoclinic.com/. It discusses the benefits to eating a healthy breakfast and offers ideas for fast-easy food choices. Check it out!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Bobby's Goulash

As I write this post, I have a very happy tummy since I just finished off some left-over Goulash for lunch. This stuff is unreal...even the day after! My husband kept saying, "What is in this?!?! It is so good! What's that flavor?!?" Well, it's a whole lot of things, but one thing it's not is an unhealthy meal!
There wasn't much I had to do to make this lean (Nice work Paula!). Believe it or not, there was no butter in it for me to leave out. So what did I do? Just by choosing lean ground beef, using whole-wheat noodles and low-sodium soy salt, this dish made an easy transition into the cookin' lean category. Thanks for another great dish, Paula! Check out Paula's recipe here.

Serves 3 (I cut Paula's recipe in half.)

1/2 tablespoon Paula Deen House Seasoning (see bottom of page for recipe)
1.5 tablespoons LOW-SODIUM soy sauce
1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1.5 cup water
1 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 lbs lean (95/5) ground beef
1/2 tablespoon Paula Deen Seasoned Salt
1 cups WHOLE-WHEAT elbow macaroni, uncooked

In a Dutch oven, saute the ground beef over medium-high heat until no pink remains. Break up the meat while sauteing. Spoon off any grease. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1.5 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, soy sauce, House Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Everything about this dish was fabulous! I think it may have had a little to do with Paula's line of spices that I was able to use. My sister gave me a late Christmas gift just last week; a collection of Paula Deen sauces and spices. Most of the time I make do with what I have, so it was fun to actually use her stuff. If you are interested in trying this recipe as is, you can find her spices at pauladeen.com.

I hope you decide to give this a try. It is an easy recipe that everyone can enjoy! Plus, it makes for great left-overs.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):  441.3 calories;  9.04g fat;  49.21g carbohydrate;  40.67g protein;  7.47g fiber

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Hungry? Why Wait?

You have probably heard the Snickers commercials where they ask you two very important questions, "Hungry? Why wait?" Well, these are two things really we should be asking ourselves. When we do ask, most of the time the answers sound a little something like, "I don't have time" or "I forgot to pack something" or "I am planning on eating a big meal later." If these answers sound all too familiar, then you are going to want to keep reading.

The truth is that we have busy lives, which makes it difficult to always eat when we need to. When we are truly hungry, we need to eat. Now I am not saying to follow the commercial and grab a Snickers bar, but there needs to be something fast and affordable to take care of the hunger. When we put off hunger, we are increasing the chances of making poor nutritional decisions later (over-eating and junk food). It also slows down our metabolism. Since our metabolism is what helps us burn calories, we definitely want to keep that cranking! When training for figure shows a few years back, the most important rule to follow was to eat ever 3-4 hours. This kept that metabolic engine running on high. And it worked. This rule can apply to everyone... not just fitness nuts.

Planning ahead and keeping healthy snacking options around can really make a difference in your overall diet. The most ideal snacks are around 100-200 calories and include all nutrients (carbs, fat & protein). Here are some examples of snacks to keep handy:


Light Cheese Stick & Reduced-Fat Wheat Thins- Only 2.5 grams of fat and 60 calories for the cheese!
Banana- the easiest fruit to bring along and only 80-100 calories/1 gram of fat
1 serving of Pretzels- 100 calories
1 serving Almonds- the protein and fat keep you satisfied longer
Pria Bar- At just 100 calories, they are a delicious way to satisfy hunger. Try the mint variety. It tastes pretty close to the Girl Scout's Thin Mints (a personal fav!). Plus, all three nutrients...bonus!
1 Rice Cake with Tbsp. Peanut Butter- Protein, fat and carbs...all right!

The list of healthy snacks could go on and on. The main idea is that if you plan ahead and have something easy to grab, you won't have to wait when hunger hits. Nobody likes to be ignored...including your hungry tummy. Otherwise you'll find yourself attacking the cookie jar or telling the drive-thru person to "Biggie Size It". Let's not let it get to this. Smart snacking is one of the simple tricks to livin' lean. Snack on!

Thanks for stoppin' by for the very first Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday

"Serving up the skinny on food, fitness and so much more!"

I am so excited to start a new thing here! For some time I have been toying around with the idea of writing about more than just lean cookin'. After all, we know that a healthy lifestyle is not just about what we cook in our home (although that is a bit part of it). It is also about what we do to get activity, how we handle stress, what we order when we eat out, the things we choose to snack on and so much more. Being lean is about livin' lean. And livin' lean covers a lot of topics. Therefore, starting next Tuesday and every Tuesday after that, I will be discussing topics related to livin' a happy, healthy and fabulously lean life.

I really hope you decide to join me on Tuesdays for some great tips and discussions on livin' lean. Don't worry; I will keep the Lean Deen recipes coming! You should see the stack of recipes in my "to-make" file. There is a lot of good stuff right around the corner!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Homestyle Chicken and Bacon Gravy

It is a true love story. Cookin' lean meets gravy...and it was love at first bite. This was my first attempt at gravy. The truth be told, my Mother-In-Law makes the best chipped beef gravy I have ever had. In fact, the only I have ever had. It doesn't matter, it is fantastic and very hard to top. Anyone would be intimidated, which is why it has taken me so long to just go for it and take a stab at making a batch on my own. Well, I finally did...and it was unreal! I never thought it was possible to make a "healthy" gravy and still have it taste good. I was wrong, 'cause this recipe is unbelievable! Rarely do I say this, but the taste is really too good to be true. Please, see for yourself. Here is all it takes...

Makes 2 Cups of Gravy


4 strips reduced-fat bacon (center cut)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup Fat Free chicken broth
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cook bacon in a large skillet. Remove bacon and reserve drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Add flour to drippings and wisk for about 2 minutes, or until browned. Gradually add milk and broth. Wisk constantly over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Once thick and bubbly, stir in salt and pepper. Serve over biscuits and top with crumbled bacon.


Now, you are talkin' about a man that grew up on gravy. But to see and hear his reaction...it was unbelievable! He couldn't believe the flavor. Rudy (AKA Hubby) admitted to thinking it was goin' to be bland. You can't blame him. Tell someone that you are making gravy lean and they can only imagine a tasteless pile of mush. Well, think again. This is a certifiable, A+  breakfast gravy recipe. It is thick and flavorful. You wouldn't believe anything was missing from it.
To save on fat and calories a little more, I made my biscuits out of Reduced-Fat Bisquick mix. With only about 2 grams of fat and 130 calories per biscuit, it doesn't get much better than that.
I really hope you decide to give this a try.
On a side note, I do want to apologize for not posting often. It is not that I have taken a break from cookin', it is just that I have been cookin' for Paula Deen's Real Women of Philadelphia Challenge. It is a lot of fun and if you haven't already, please do check it out. Every recipe that I make must include Philadelphia Cream Cheese. But don't worry, I am still staying true and keepin' it lean.
Take care and please try this gravy!

NUTRITION FACTS (1/2 cup per serving): 72.25 calories;  2.88g fat;  6.28g carbohydrate;  5.71g protein;  .1g fiber

This recipe comes from the March/April 2010 issue of Cooking with Paula Deen, page 52. Hoffman Media, LLC.


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