Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: New Year's Resolutions

When referring to the Merriam-Webster's definition of "resolution", it appears that for something to be a true resolution, there must first be a problem that needs to be solved. Take a look. This is copied directly from the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Are you getting what I am getting here?

Image from
1swim2bike3run.blogspot.com
Definition of RESOLUTION


1: the act or process of resolving: as
a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
b : the act of answering : solving
c : the act of determining

This does make perfect sense when applied to our New Year's Resolutions. People who are vowing to manage debt better as their NYR (New Year's Resolution) are more than likely having some difficulty in that area. Those who choose to loose weight as their goal are the ones having trouble keeping the pounds from creepin' on. People who are super stressed may decide to dedicate more time a week to yoga or meditation. Whatever the "resolution" may be, we are all going to have to do one thing in common to meet these goals; change.

Change is tough. A lot of people fight it because it makes us feel uncomfortable. It can scare us. So as we call on ourselves to make this change, let's consider the reason behind the resolution. After all, Merriam-Webster does define resolution as an "act of analyzing". Is this a change that is needed to improve the overall quality of my life? If it truly is, then go with it. Go all the way and stick with it. The impact of your change will only remain for as long as you are implementing it. Let's face it, if it is a really important NYR, then we want it to more than a year. What we want is more like a new life resolution!

In my own true fashion, I must end on a positive note to this whole New Year's Resolution thing. You know, when we try to think of one, we end up focusing on the negative. What can I do better? How can I look better? You get the picture. Try this. Think about the great things you are doing. Pin-point the positive aspects in your life and make a New Year's Resolution to keep doing them. We already work hard at what we do. Let's not forget that. Deciding to continue something can be just as valuable as opting for a change.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and wonderful New Year! And best to you...whether you go for a change or vow to keep doin' the same fabulous things.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Chicken Fried Steak with Parsleyed Cream Gravy

First, you have to understand something about the house I grew up in. My mother is a former PE teacher ( the apple doesn't fall far) and Jazzercise instructor. My dad has always been and still is a crazy runner. To put it simply, we were a healthy home that valued good-for-you meals and an active lifestyle. With that being said, it should come as no surprise that I was unaware that chicken fried steak even existed until I was in my mid-20's. The other surprise; it's not even chicken! It's beef! Part of this lack of skillet-fried knowledge is due to my geographical location in Virginia. The other blame lies is my mom's cookin'. Don't worry though, my husband's mother has made up for it by being very generous with sharing her knowledge of gravy, fried chicken and cookin' with bacon grease. I have no been completely deprived. Instead, I consider myself lucky to have had exposure to two types of cooking; both wonderful in their own way; which combined created my won style.


I wasn't quite sure how I would like chicken fried steak. So I started with a Paula Deen recipe, 'cause if anyone can be an expert on these things....it's gotta be her. Here is my lighter and leaner version of Paula Deen's Chicken Fried Steak with Parsleyed Cream Gravy from Paula Deen's Best Dishes-2010 (page 15).

CHICKEN FRIED STEAK with PARSLEYED CREAM GRAVY
Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:


Cooking spray
6 cubed steaks (about 2 pounds) Round, not chuck
2 teaspoons steak seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Parsleyed Cream Gravy


2 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup FAT FREE/REDUCED-SODIUM Beef Broth

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray liberally with cooking spray.

Season the steaks by sprinkling them with steak seasoning and garlic powder. In a shallow bowl (I like to use a pie dish) stir together flours and baking powder. Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture and shake off excess flour.

Fry steaks in the pan (probably 2 at a time) for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Be sure to respray the skillet with cooking spray each time. Place the steaks in a dish and keep warm in the oven while fryin' up the rest.

Once the steaks are all fried, use the same skillet for making the gravy. Reduce to a medium heat. Whisk milk, beef broth, flour, salt and pepper into the skillet. Whisk constantly for about 6-8 minutes or until it has reached desired consistency. Stir in the parsley and cook for another 3 minutes. Serve over steaks and mashed red skin potatoes.


RESULTS:

We all LOVED it! My brother and husband were just blown away with both the appearance and taste of this dish. To completely eliminate the vegetable oil for frying and to make a light gravy that is still thick and delicious was just amazing to them.

When shopping for your cubed steaks, look closely at the label to make sure you are getting the leanest cut. The chuck cubed steak is going to have roughly 11 more grams of fat per serving than the round. The reason being is that the round steaks come from an area of the cow that is more exercised. The more exercise, the less fat. Makes sense, right?

To make this dish complete, I would suggest serving over some simple red skin mashed potatoes. Just cube and boil your potatoes, drain and mash. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon ICBINB and saute a chopped garlic clove. Stir in a little milk and pour onto the potatoes. Mash together with a pinch of salt and pepper and you have the perfect platform for your Chicken Fried Steak with Parsleyed Cream Gravy! YUM!!

I hope you enjoy this slimmed down version of a very classic dish.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):  374.5 calories;  13.4g fat;  23.4g carbohydrate;  37.7g protein;  1.7g fiber



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: What Drives Our Cravings?

With a degree in Exercise Science and a devoted interest to health and nutrition, it probably won't shock you to know that I love watching Discovery Channel-type television. So much of that stuff is fascinating to me; especially when it relates to the human body. Scientists are still discovering so much about us and how we work. Who knows what we will learn to know about ourselves 20 years down the road? See, that just excites me! I am a science geek at heart. So anyway, back to the question: What drives our cravings?

While watching Human Body: Pushing the Limits with Brain Power, they used a real-life story of a man stranded at sea to illustrate how the brain tells us what to eat. Essentially, our brain detects nutrients in our bodies that are deficient. The brain then sends us messages telling us what to eat based on the nutrients found in the food. We call these messages "cravings".

The man at sea was fortunate to have an emergency boat, some food, water and fishing equipment. However, when the food ran out, he was left only to eat fish. At least he had something to eat, right? Sushi! Well, unfortunately the meaty part of the fish doesn't contain enough of the nutrients for his body to survive. The good news is that the other parts of the fish (fins, scales, eyes, liver) do. To survive, he had to eat those other parts of the fish. After some time, as he grew weaker, something in his brain told him to try eating those other parts. What he found was that those "other parts" which he had once found revolting were actually delicious to him. His body needed the nutrients found in the "gross parts", so his brain told him they tasted great. His brain saved his life and allowed him to stay healthy for 75 days until he was rescued. Isn't that cool?!?
Watch the segment from Human Body: Pushing the Limits HERE.



There may be a real nutritional deficiency going on in our bodies that is driving what we eat. I can't imagine this is all the time, but I'm not the expert here. You just can't tell me that there is something in this box of Christmas cookies on my desk that I absolutely need. Regardless, my brain is telling me to eat one and I should probably listen to it!

The next time you crave something, it would be interesting to consider what nutrients are in that particular food. It could be a legitimate message from your brain telling you that your body is lacking something. Our brains are incredible things. I don't doubt they tell us what to eat without us even knowing it.



Monday, December 20, 2010

A Cookbook Starring...YOU!

This is not a typical post, but something so cool I just had to share! Last night, I created an adorable photo book all about my daughter on http://www.kodakgallery.com/. Let me tell ya, I had the best time putting this thing together. The site is super easy to use and what I love most of all is how you can save projects to finish later! That is a feature a woman like me definitely needs.

Kimber graces the front cover of her Kodak Photo Book.
Well, while I was having a blast strolling down memory lane and thinking about how the past 2-1/2 years have really flown by, I got to thinking about others books I could make. I could use the Kodak Photo book maker to compile a cookbook! How fun would that be!?!? The Photo books with SmartFit technology make putting together a professional-looking book a piece of cake! There are so many cute and stylish backgrounds and layouts to choose from. There are even layouts that allow space for text...or RECIPES!!

I just had to share this because if you are a cook-a-holic like me, then I just know you have fun putting together your own little cookbook. You don't need to be a famous chef or food star to have your work in a hardcover book. You just need to be you....and to go to the Kodak Gallery to get started! I plan on compiling my Food Foto Book over the holiday break. With such affordable pricing, high quality and user-friendly features (live help is also available, if needed), I have a feeling this is just the beginning of my photo book-makin' love affair.

***Until 12/23, they are running a special with savings up to 50% off. Hurry up and get going on those books! I was able to save $9 on mine last night!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Paula Deen's Lean: Brie en Croute #2

Since my husband and I will take any excuse to throw a get-together, we invited family and friends over for the ACC Championship football game on December 4th; turning it into an all-out sport enthused, charitable holiday event. Rudy and I wanted to use this gathering as a chance to collect sport-related toys for our local Toys for Tots, hoping to make this holiday a little merrier for children in our community.



Along with the football and toy collection success, there is one more victory that needs to be celebrated; the lightening up of Paula Deen's Brie en Croute #2! My friend Karen and I rocked this recipe and had those football fans scrapin' the platter. Who said you can't serve Brie at a tailgate? It was simple and delicious, yet it looked like it took great time and skill. Now I am not down-playin' our culinary skills, but this recipe doesn't require the use of them. Check out how quickly and easily you can serve this fancy appetizer to your guests. I guarentee you will be staring at your creation just like we were; completely impressed with ourselves and loving how much people enjoyed it.


BRIE en CROUTE # 2
Serves 10




INGREDIENTS:
1 can (8 oz) Reduced-Fat Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls


1 tablespoon "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" light

1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1 small (7-ounce) PrĂ©sident® 7 oz Light Brie


1/2 cup SUGAR FREE raspberry jam


2 eggs whites, beaten

 
DIRECTIONS:
Heat oven to 350°F. Unroll dough and separate crosswise into two sections. Pat dough and firmly press perforations to seal, forming 2 squares.


Place 1 square on ungreased cookie sheet. Place Light Brie on center of dough.


Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute nuts in "ICBINB" light until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Place nuts on top of Brie and spread jam on top of nuts.

With small cookie or canapé cutter, cut 1 shape from each corner of remaining square; set cutouts aside.


Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese; fold bottom edges over top edges. Gently stretch dough evenly around cheese; press to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg. Top with cutouts; brush with additional beaten egg.


Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with whole wheat crackers or sliced apples and/or pears.


RESULTS:
I am telling you, I LOVE brie! And when I found out that almost every ingredient in this recipe could be replaced with something lighter, I fell in love all over again. The fat content in the cheese has been reduced by 50% and in the pastry.... around 60%! Let's not forget how we cut the saturated fat in butter by 70% and the sugar in the jam by 100%! I can't tell you how satisfying it is when an all-time favorite like this, one that I have deprived myself of or felt guilty about eating for so long, comes out just as fantastic in it's lighter form. I really hope you love it as much as we did. ENJOY!


**Note: Want to cut a little more fat or have a nut allergy, leave out the butter and nuts. It is still going to knock your socks off!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 154.2 calories;  9.2g fat;  13.7g carbohydrate;  7.5g protein;  .26g fiber



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Are You an Emotional Eater?

 
Image from fantashak.wordpress.com

I'd be lying if I told you that food and I have always had this beautiful, perfectly-balanced relationship. Friends and family can back me up in agreeing that there have been some ups and downs in my past. They have witnessed the roller coasters in my wild ride with weight and food. Now that the ride has ended and I can reflect, it is obvious to see the strong relationship between my feelings/emotions and my feelings toward food. Although oblivious at the time, I can now see that my weight was a reflection of what was going on inside me; emotionally. I find it interesting that right about the time in my life when I met my adorable husband, accepted my first job and bought my first house...my overall health improved.

 I was happy, in loooooooove, busy and full of life. Therefore, food was not a constant thought on my mind. It wasn't my go-to when things weren't going so well. When feeling upset, a chocolate shake did not call out "Lindsay" and promise to comfort me. When stressed, I didn't over-do it on Chinese take-out because I deserved it for working myself into the ground. Instead, food took on the role it was intended for; nutrition for the body. When all other aspects of my life found their place, food found it's place. From there, it took on a domino effect; improving my eating, energy level, sleeping, attitude and overall well-being. All of this because my emotions were finally in check.

The following quiz was sent to me, along with a book by fitness expert, Andrea Metcalf (Review coming soon!). I haven't taken this quiz yet, but I would say based on what I have shared with you and reading over it, I was an Emotional Eater. Sometimes "over" and sometimes "under", but no doubt, emotional. Our emotions can have such power over what we consume. The first step in addressing this would have to be coming face to face with our emotions. Are they controlling what, when and how much we eat?

Think you are a consistent emotional eater? Take the quiz and find out.
Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body
Are You an Emotional Overeater?
By Andrea Metcalf,
Author of
Take this short quiz to find out.

I turn to food when I'm sad, disappointed, or lonely. Yes ___ No ___
I often eat past the point of fullness. Yes ___ No ___
When I'm upset, I crave sweets or salty snack foods. Yes ___ No ___
When I go to parties or dine out with friends, I tend to overeat. Yes ___ No ___
If I eat too much, I feel guilty afterwards. Yes ___ No ___
I eat more than I should when I'm home alone or bored. Yes ___ No ___
My moods have the biggest influence on when and how I eat. Yes ___ No ___
I like to nurture family and friends with food. Yes ___ No ___
I think about food a lot. Yes ___ No ___
I am unhappy with my weight, but I overeat anyway. Yes ___ No ___
Eating is my favorite activity. Yes ___ No ___
I tend to clean my plate; I don't like to waste food. Yes ___ No ___
I binge habitually. Yes ___ No ___
The large amount of food I eat embarrasses me. Yes ___ No ___
Sugary foods tend to calm me down. Yes ___ No ___

SCORING
Count up your yeses and your noes.


If you answered yes to eight or more questions:
Your feelings of anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness, boredom, or even happiness might be causing you to overeat. And you are probably an emotional overeater. You may be eating too much or eating chaotically, but what you are really feeding is something in your life: relationship problems, broken dreams, financial worries, or problems at work. Try the strategies in this chapter, but don't be afraid to seek professional help.


If you answered yes to four to seven questions:
You may be struggling with some emotions from time to time. You are a borderline emotional overeater. At this point, it will be easier to get your eating habits under control by applying some of the strategies in this chapter.


If you circled three or fewer yeses:
You probably aren't an emotional overeater. You may occasionally use food to cope, but for the most part, it doesn't interfere with your ability to manage your weight.

The above is an excerpt from the book Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body by Andrea Metcalf. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
© 2010 Andrea Metcalf, author of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Days Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body.


So, how did you do? I am excited to check out this book and let you all know what I think. I already like the title with the words "Lifestyle Program". That insists it is a change for life, not just a one month diet. We all know that if you want to make changes that stay, then the good habits need to stick around too!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Laughing All the Way


I try my best not to take certain things in life too seriously. Learning to laugh is definitely great medicine for the soul, so I've learned. Life is a lot more fun that way. But did you know that laughter is also pretty good for the body too? Ever laugh so hard your stomach muscles hurt or smile so long your cheeks were sore? It's 'cause you are workin' those 'happy' muscles! Now, I'm not saying that watching Elf or Christmas Vacation can substitute for your exercise routine this holiday season. Oh, if it were only that easy. All I'm doing is giving you one more excuse to choose a lighter approach to life. Laugh a little. It will help keep you healthy in both mind and body.

Other than burning a few extra calories, laughing can benefit the body in several other ways. Take a look!

 Physical Benefits to Laughing:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.


Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.




I hope you are all having a beautiful holiday season so far...laughing all the way! HA, HA, HA!



** Reference for laughing facts:  helpguide.org.

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