Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Show a Sister Some Love

I believe that every woman wants to feel beautiful. I believe every woman has the right to feel this way and CAN feel this way. But I also know first-hand the power of words and the influence they can have on self-esteem and self-worth.

I have a little story to share...

Just this weekend, my friend told me that while shopping at Talbot's, she witnessed a horrific scene. A beautiful woman in her early 50's stepped out of the dressing room; confident and glowing. Her husband (who I will mention was no George Clooney), gave her a look in disgust. You could almost see her confidence crumble around her as she said, "I know. You don't want me to buy this until I lose more weight." He insensitively responds, "Yah. Much more weight." Oh, boy! This had my friend fired up!!

My friend wanted to run to her and tell her just how amazing she looked. It killed her to see that this man, who is her husband and should be making her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, had just crushed her spirit! My friend regrets not saying something to her, but feared what would come out in the direction of the husband. She had some words for him too!

The reason for this story is inspire you to show a sister some love! We work hard to keep healthy, stay fit and feel great about ourselves. There is no need to have people like this guy bringing that down. Give out compliments and positive words to women in your life. You never know where they are inside. They could have just had a band shopping trip with their clueless husband.

A little something I was inspired to write...

If you have ever battled with self-image, I hear ya.

If your weight has ever been a struggle, I've been there too.

If you have ever stacked yourself up against another women and could see only your flaws, join the club.

If at times you have relied on the approval of others to determine your self worth, I can relate to this too.

If the words of another have ever made you feel anything less than beautiful, you are not alone.

We are not alone in all this.
These thoughts & feelings DO creep into our head.
But thanks to the positive, supportive words of a sister
We can fill it up with confidence & beauty instead.

Stick together and support each other...like sisters.

Have a fabulous Tuesday! You are beautiful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Adapting Eating Habits

This year I am beginning my 8th year as an elementary physical education teacher. I can't believe it has been that long already. Crazy. Anyway, each year presents a new schedule with different break times and allotments for lunch. There is usually a nice 30 minute window in the morning for a little snack and at least 40 minutes for a decent lunch. My last class ends a little before 3, so this allows for a small mid-afternoon snack session. As you can see, my work schedule has allowed time for me to eat every 3-4 hours; keeping my energy steady and my tummy happy. Since we aren't allowed to eat around children (especially anything containing nuts due to allergies), up until now, eating properly has been super easy.

This year...things are going to be tricky. No nice morning breaks. I'm lucky if I can run to the bathroom between classes! It is one class after the next from 8:30 to 12:00. Starting at 12:00, I have 25 minutes to throw down some lunch and then it's "go time" again until 2:25. So does this mean that my healthy habit of regular eating is going to go out the window? No, no, no! I am going to have to adapt.

I am going to be a shake lover this year. I haven't gone on the shopping trip yet, but my plan is to find a shake that can substitute as my "snack" in the morning. I may not be able to eat my usual trial mix, fruit or protein bar, but I can have a plastic bottle with a delish and nutritious shake in it! I want something that offers a good amount of protein (10 grams), a moderate amount of carbohydrates (18-25g) and is low in fat (less than 5 grams). The protein will keep me full and satisfied, while the carbohydrates will give me just the right amount of energy to get me through to lunch. That takes care of morning snack, but what about lunch?

The key is going to be preparation. Instead of mixing my chicken or tuna salad at work, I am going to have to pre-mix. The key is to have my meals ready to go. No assembly required! Even better...no heating up required. I want to still keep my lunches fresh and avoid falling into the microwaveable cuisine trap. I am going to get in the habit of packing my lunch the night before. Less time assembling at school will give me more time to eat. I'm not a fan of inhaling my food.

As always, there is going to be a constant intake of water. Water helps keep you full and functioning. It also aids in preventing fatigue and headaches. My job is fun, but let's face it, a gym full of 50 loud children running around and making noise all day long can sometimes be a bit much. Can you see where the fatigue and headaches may come into play? I'm just gettin' real here.

Overall, this change in my professional life has caused me to adapt my eating habits. Life can throw curve balls. We just have to step back, readjust and come back to the plate with a plan on how to handle it. No curve ball is going to send me out of the game! Eating well is an important part of my life; our lives. Adapt. Make it work. Stick to the goal.

Have a healthy and happy Tuesday!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Paula Deen's Lean: 4 Cheese Souffle

I'm a food-competition-television-show-lovin'-geek. I know. You're surprised, right? My most recent addiction has been Master Chef. I am just blown away by the talent from these home cooks! They know how to cook everything. They may be home cooks now, but I'm a little suspicious. There may have been some professional training earlier in life. Still, these cooks are crazy-good!

Anyway, one of the challenges or "pressure tests" was to make a perfect souffle. Chef Ramsey built this up to be one of the most difficult items for a chef to master. Naturally I was intrigued and felt the need to accept the challenge as well. I went straight to my girl Paula for a recipe to work from and an hour later...I had a pretty nice lookin' cheesy souffle. Wanna give it a try? You can do it! Show Chef Ramsey that you are a Master Chef too. Here's my very simple recipe adapted from Paula Deen's 4 Cheese Souffle.

Makes 4


1 onion, diced


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

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons WHOLE-WHEAT flour

1 cup  FAT FREE half-and-half

1 cup 2% Four Cheese Mexican Blend

Salt and pepper

5 eggs whites


Fat Free cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute onion in olive oil and ICBINB until translucent.

Whisk in all-purpose and whole wheat flours to form a roux. Gradually whisk in the FAT FREE half-and-half until thickened. Add cheeses and season.

Remove from heat and beat in Egg Beaters. Allow to cool.

While Egg Beaters are cooling, beat whites to stiff peak. Gently fold in whites to cheese mixture.

Add mixture evenly to 4 sprayed (with FAT FREE cooking spray) oven-safe ramekins and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.


Rudy admitted to not expecting them to taste that great...but he was wrong! There is a lot of flavor in these souffles. They looked great coming out of the oven, but they did fall down a little during the photo shoot. Maybe that is what Chef Ramsey was talkin' about. Keeping the souffle from falling may be the challenge....or maybe it's just me.

 I am thinking it has something to do with using "low-fat" substitutes. If any of you know anything about the science of the souffle, PLEASE SHARE! Still, they tasted really good and saved on fat and calories. This qualifies as a success in The Cookin' Lean Kitchen.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving/ 1 souffle):

BEFORE: 451 calories;  34.27 g fat; 12.25 g carbohydrate;  23.33 g protein;  .45 g fiber

AFTER: 294.5 calories;  14.4 g fat;  19.09 g carbohydrate;  21.94 g protein;  .7 g fiber
SAVES: 156.5 calories & 19.88 g fat 

ADDS: .25 g fiber

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Start Fresh, Move Forward

With another school year starting (and for me it is tomorrow), I find it appropriate to talk about fresh starts. The beginning of something is always a time when we think about starting fresh. Whether it be the beginning of a calendar year, a change into a different career or even the start of a brand new day, I think it is important to begin with a fresh outlook. Let go of the heavy baggage that you held onto the day before. Leave what you can not change and look forward to the things you will make happen. Each morning is a fresh start for me, which is probably why I am such a morning person. It is a new day. A day that has the potential to be something great. This is coming from a "how I try to live a happy life" perspective. But the same concept applies to fitness and food.

This past weekend was a blast for us! I spent Saturday in Baltimore with my Hubby and Kimber; checking out the aquarium and enjoying some yummy food.

Checkin' out turtles in the Rain Forest @ the National Aquairium.
Then I went out to celebrate my great friend Allison's 30th that night. Wow, it feels like not too long ago we were throwing down at Elon celebrating 21st birthdays. Anyway, we had a lot of fun, as you can see!

On Sunday, I traveled back home with the fam to host a birthday cook-out/party for my Mom, Dad and many friends. Nope...the weekend isn't over yet! Monday was a day off for Hubby, so that means that the two of us had a date day. We ran some errands, went out to lunch, had some drinks and finished the evening out watching Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef while eating ice cream.

Notice that at no point in the recap of the weekend did I mention anything about a healthy, home-cooked meal or an amazing workout. That's because it didn't happen. This weekend was full of fun, but I splurged a bit in the food and drink department. It wasn't waaaay over-the-top, but it definitely wasn't the usual routine for me. So instead of getting up this morning, feeling sluggish and guilty about my weekend shenanigans, I made today a fresh start!

I woke up a little before 8 and had a healthy breakfast of oatmeal. Then, I hit the treadmill for a 4.5 mile run and ended with some upper-body weight training. In just matter of a couple hours, I am back on track! The weekend didn't ruin me. It was actually really fun to let lose a bit. But I can see how it could be easy to fall into some unhealthy patterns. Thank goodness for fresh starts.

So, the point I wanna make here is don't go beating yourself up about splurges and moments of weakness. So what if you ate a little something you don't noramlly have or drink a few more than you should?!?! It's not the end of your life as a fit and fabulous person. Each day is a fresh start and a chance to live your healthiest, happiest life. Start fresh and move forward.

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Kimber's Korner: Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes

Hello! I'm back to share my favorite type of dish --- Macaroni and Cheese! Only with this recipe, we are taking Macaroni and Cheese, then baking them into little cupcakes topped with delicious veggies! Mom found the inspiration for this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. You can see Giada's version by clicking HERE. Now, if you are ready, watch the video below to see just how my Mom and I make Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes in the Cookin' Lean Kitchen.

Serves 8

  • Fat Free veggie cooking spray
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounces WHOLE GRAIN pasta shells or elbows
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 cup grated 2% Cheddar
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli, blanched

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 (12-cup) muffin or cupcake pans with veggie cooking spray. Using 1 cup of the bread crumbs, coat the inside of each muffin cup with bread crumbs, shaking off any excess.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl. Stir in the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the prepared pasta mixture into the cupcake molds, filling evenly to about 2/3 full. Arrange a few pieces of  cherry tomato and broccoli into each cup. Top with a thin layer of the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and carefully unmold with a spoon onto a serving platter.


These are great! I left out the turkey 'cause mom knows I don't like it in my Macaroni and Cheese...but you might like it. Try adding a little Jennie-O lean ground turkey by cooking it up and stirring it in with the cheeses. That's how Giada does it.

I really hope you liked our cooking video. If you want to try making these with your little ones, just print out the recipe below and get started. It's a great recipe where they can really help out, just like I helped out my Mom.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Rainy Day Activity

We haven't had many this summer, so as I look out my window and see the rain coming down, I can't say that I am upset. We need the rain! But there is one little girl that might not appreciate the rain as much as I do...and that is Kimber. Even though she understands that the trees and the flowers are thirsty, it still doesn't dismiss the fact that rain cuts into pool time. Tuesdays and Thursdays are our pool days. She knows the routine by now. We pack up the pool bag after lunch and head over to the neighbor's house for a couple hours of Mommy-Kimber swim time. It is a blast! Now what? In case it doesn't clear up, I need to think of some rainy-day activities to keep us moving! Here are some that might work for us today. If you see any you like, keep them in mind for your next rainy day home with the kids.

Rainy Day Activity Ideas for You & Your Little Ones
Panda Bread from Gourmet-Mom-on-the Go.
  • Cook Somethin'! ~ OK, you knew this was going to be one, right? Find a kid-friendly recipe to make with your kids. This is a great time to teach kitchen safety, nutrition, science and even some math! Check out some of Kimber's recipes or stop by my friend Mandy's blog at Gourmet Mom-On-the-Go. She has really cute ideas family fun in the kitchen.

  • Edible Art ~ My friend Anne wowed me with this great idea for an art project for kids that may still eat paint if you let them use it. Take some Cool Whip (sugar free, naturally) and put a big spoonful in a few pinch bowls. Drop a little food coloring in each, creating multiple colors of "finger paint". Get a white plastic place mat or cutting sheet and let them go to town decorating their canvas. If the hands go in the mouth...no big deal! It's just Cool Whip! Love this idea. Smart.

  • Clean Up, Clean Up ~ Maybe my child is a little different, but she LOVES cleaning! If this sounds like your child...use it to your advantage. Start cleaning and ask the little ones to join in the fun. General cleaning can burn around  215 calories per hour (150 pound woman), so if you can't fit in a work out, this is a nice alternative. Check out how your exact calorie burn with this calculator from SELF

  • Just Dance ~ For Kimber, we can just throw on some music and dance. Laughing and dancing burns calories, plus it is very entertaining to see the new moves that little ones will bust out. If your kids are a little older (late elementary to middle), you could try making up a dance routine. They can practice for hours and even put on a big show when they have it down to perfection! Just think, Dancing with the Stars-Kids Edition in your living room. Priceless. Don't forget to charge the video recorder!

  • Places to Go ~ You don't have to stay home. You can always take the little ones out and about. Try bowling, skating, an indoor playground, a pottery decorating  place or museums.These are all activities done on your feet; giving you and your children more activity than just going to the movies.
I better get going on our rainy day activities! Kimber and I are cooking something fun today for Kimber's Korner and then (if the weather doesn't improve) we are heading out to Kidz Play, which is a fun indoor playground full of those inflatable bouncies found at birthday parties and carnivals. Fun!

Have a great Tuesday and remember that rainy days do not have to be lazy days.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Just Add Water...and a Little Fruit

Water should be an important part of your diet every day of the year. But during these hot days of summer, water is needed more than ever. Staying hydrated is critical. Even if you are not thirsty, you should be drinking water. The problem is that not everyone likes water. Some people would prefer to drink tea or diet soda. I get that. Yet nothing can top the health benefits of pure water. So what do we do about it not liking the taste of water?

We add fresh fruit!

Fresh slices of lemon, orange and raspberries can add just enough flavor to your water to make it taste great for all those people needing a little somethin' sweet. I like plain water, but it MUST be ICE, ICE COLD. But adding fresh fruit to ice-cold water is THE BEST! When I think about it, I love to add fresh fruit to a pitcher of water and keep it in the fridge. I will definitely drink more water on those days. My favorite part about fruit-infused water is that it reminds me of being at a spa. Gotta love that!

Don't have time to make your own fruit water? Want to have fruit water on-the-go?

Pic from www.drinkhint.com
Last night I was up (way too late, by the way) watching a show about a mom who started her own company bottling the fruit water she would make for her kids. Her children loved this healthy alternative to sugar drinks...and so did their friends! Eventually, parents were calling up asking where they could get the yummy fruit drinks their children were having at her house. That was this mom's AH-HA moment! With the help of her hubby, Hint was born! So inspiring. You can find Hint in places like Whole Foods and Starbucks all over the country.Where I live in VA, they are at Sheetz. Yes, I already hunted them down. Check HERE to see where you can find Hint where you live. No preservatives. No sugar. No artificial sweeteners. It's just water with a "hint" of fruit flavor from REAL fruit. I can't wait to give it a try! Have any of you had it yet? I love discovering new, healthy products!

Want a little more motivation to drink water? Here are some great reasons to pour a glass of H2O right now!
  • Keeps skin lookin' healthy (Carrie Underwood swears by it).
  • Protects your joints and organs.
  • Helps nutrients to get to all the organs.
  • Regulates body temperature.
  • Helps relieve headaches.
Since well over half of our body is made up of water, it makes sense that we would need to keep supplying it with water for it to work efficiently. Treat yourself and make a big pitcher of fruit water today. Your taste buds and your body will thank you!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lean Libation: Watermelon Killer Chiller

Watermelon made into a delicious and refreshing cocktail? Why not?!?! I loved the look of this Watermelon Killer Chiller from the first moment I saw it in the pages of EveryDay with Rachael Ray (June/July 2011 Issue; page 20). Yes, I am saying I experienced love at first sight with a cocktail. That's right. But with such bright fuchsia coloring, accented with a slice of green apple...I just couldn't help myself. This cocktail is absolutely fabulous! It's another one of those "sit outside on a hot summer day or evening to enjoy" type of drinks. And in true "Cookin' Lean fashion", we have made this a skinny cocktail. Check it out!

Makes 4 Glasses

  • 10 ounces fresh cut watermelon
  • 1 lime; juiced
  • 8 ounces vodka
  • 2 cups SPRITE ZERO
  • green apple; thin slices for garnish (see picture)

Place watermelon in a blender and puree until smooth.

Strain puree over a large bowl or pitcher.

Add vodka, lime juice and SPRITE ZERO to the watermelon juice. Stir well.

Pour the mixture into four glasses over ice. Garnish with an apple slice. CHEERS!


We were four happy adults with this "lean libation". Don't want the alcohol? No problem! It is great with or without (Alcohol accounts for most of the calories. Leave it out & save 128 calories per serving!). This drink is light. It is refreshing. It is a winner! I took a shortcut by buying the watermelon already cut up, but that's just my style. If you are doing this for a party, try cutting the top 1/3 of the watermelon off and taking out all the flesh or what I like to call, "the good stuff". When the drink is ready, serve it in the hollowed out watermelon; using the watermelon as the punch bowl. It's not only cute, it's clever. Now you can throw "the bowl" away when the party is over (in other words...one less dish to wash).

Just check out what we saved by using SPRITE ZERO and changing the amount of vodka used. Don't worry...there is still plenty of kick!

Nutrition Facts (per glass):

BEFORE: 340.75 calories; .25g fat;  22.36g carbohydrate;  .79g protein;  .5g fiber

AFTER: 166.25 calories;  .25g fat;  9.48g carbohydrate;  .79g protein;  .5g fiber

SAVES: 174.5 calories & 12.88g carbohydrate

I believe you have a cocktail to try this evening! Have a great Monday!


Related Posts with Thumbnails