Friday, January 28, 2011

Kimber's Korner: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

What kid doesn't like pizza?!?! If you are like me and love pizza, then you are not going to wanna miss these Pepperoni Pizza Puffs. They really are bite-size pizzas! My mom and I made them with pepperoni and cheese, but you can have fun with it and make them your own. Ham and pineapple? Sausage and green peppers? It's up to you. Just have fun in the kitchen whipping up this delicious and nutritious recipe. We sure did! Check out the video:

Makes 24 Puffs
Original recipe ~


3/4 cup whole wheat flour (Or 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/4 cup all-purpose)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup 1% milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

4 ounces KRAFT FAT FREE mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

4 ounces TURKEY pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1 red or green bell pepper, sliced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs and red pepper slices with the pizza sauce for dipping.

*RECIPE PRINT OUT* Click HERE for a complete recipe and bonus activity!

Thanks for stoppin' by Kimber's Korner! ~  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cooking Light with Ina Garten: Cheddar Corn Chowder

It was just one of those cold, snowy days where a big batch of soup just sounded perfect. Not just any soup though. It had to be a hearty soup; something similar to a potato soup. When I stumbled across Ina Garten's recipe for Cheddar Corn Chowder, my search for the perfect soup was over. This turned out to be just what we needed to warm us up on that snowy afternoon. I bet it will do the trick for you too!

Serves 12


5 ounces Jennie-O Extra Lean TURKEY bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

4 tablespoons "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Light

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)  

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

12 cups FAT FREE/ REDUCED SODIUM chicken broth

6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)

1 pound bag frozen corn kernels

2 cups FAT FREE half-and-half

1/2 pound REDUCED-FAT sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (Suggested: Cabot 75% Reduced Fat


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter; cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon (and maybe a pinch of reduced-fat or fat free shredded cheddar).


This soup turned out to be filling, flavorful and delicious. A great choice if you are craving a creamy-based, chowder-y soup. By making some simple changes to a few ingredients, we are able to cut the calories per serving by more than 50%! Here is the nutritional breakdown based on dividing the recipe into 10 servings:

BEFORE:  641 calories; 35g fat;  58g carbohydrate; 28g protein

AFTER:  238.17 calories;  6.82g fat;  31.19g carbohydrate;  14.81g protein;  3.43g fiber

SAVINGS: 402.83 calories;  28.18g fat; 26.81g carbohydrate


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Fitness Frustrations

At some point or another, I think we have all been there. I am talking about the place where you are running down a list of all the things you have been doing to get your rear in gear and STILL, the results just flat out stink! With all the miles you have logged on the treadmill or all the desserts you have passed up, it just seems fair that you should get some compensation in the form of a rock-hard body in return. I mean, not having bread for a month can drive anyone crazy alone. Add no physical results ontop of that and now we are talking pure insanity! In this quest for a better body, our perceptions of reality can tend to become a little fuzzy. The reality is that even the bodies which we idolize and aspire to have are not even as perfect as we think. Unfortunately, we are thrown these images of people with "perfect" bodies; creating this unrealistic ideal. How can we expect ourselves to look like that when they don't even really look like that?!!? We can't. So let's stop beating ourselves up about it.

Image from "I May Not be Perfect...";
It's natural to feel discouraged when our fitness related goals are not being met. Perhaps it isn't us failing at our goal; instead, it is the goal failing us. Doing two things have saved me from surrendering to fitness frustrations; setting realistic goals and being more thankful for what my body allows me to do rather than for what it looks like while doing it. I have accepted that my backside will never resemble that of Hiedi Klum, yet I don't rule out the goal of my rear-end running a half-marathon in the near future. There are things we can control and there are things that we can't. We can spend time annoyed with our bodies inability to become what we want them to be or we can embrace what they allow us to do. I have wasted too much time in my younger years worried about the small stuff.
Really, what matters is that all of this working out is making us stronger, healthier and happier. Keep it up! Even though our bodies may not show it in places we were hoping, I promise, your body thanks you for all the hard work.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Sliced Steak Gyros

Gyros are probably one of my favorite foods that I don't ever make. That doesn't really make a whole lotta sense, but sometimes I don't make a whole lotta sense. Maybe it's just a case of, "these are so good I don't want to mess 'em up with my lack of cultured culinary skills". Who knows?!? Anyway, when I think about my trip to the Taste of Atlanta back in October, the first thing that pops into my head out of all the things I ate that weekend, were the gyros. Maybe it's the Greek in me, but there is just something about this sandwich that is unlike any other sandwich out there. Whatever it is, I love it; which is why I was so excited to test out Rachael Ray's twist on this Greek classic with her Sliced Steak Gyros. Traditionally, a gyro is made with lamb, but using a sirloin is a nice variation...especially with the feta-infused yogurt sauce. YUM!

Oh...and in case you are wondering how to say "gyro", it is pronounced "yee-roh". Don't be embarrassed. I have said it incorrectly for years; trying out all the creative ways I could think up. Finally, I just got on YouTube and found a video to help me practice. You gotta love the Internet. I think I have it now!

Serves 5


  • 1 pound 1-inch-thick sirloin steak

  • 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 cup REDUCED-FAT crumbled feta cheese

  • 3/4 cup NON-FAT Greek-style yogurt

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 clove garlic, grated

  • 2 sprigs oregano, stems discarded, leaves chopped

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce

  • 5 large WHOLE WHEAT pitas or flatbread (Suggested: Flatout Flatbread)

  • Toppings, such as thinly sliced cucumber, tomato and red onion; chopped chiles and kalamata olives; shredded romaine lettuce hearts; flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 4 lemon wedges


    Preheat grill  or grill pan to medium. Drizzle the steak with the 1/2 tablespoon EVOO; season with tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, turning once, for medium-rare, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then thinly slice.

    While the steak is cooking, using a food processor or blender, puree the feta, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander and hot sauce. Transfer into a bowl.

    If desired, char the pitas or flatbread under the broiler or on the grill. Top with the steak and your choice of toppings. Serve with the lemon wedges and yogurt sauce.


    Sliced Steak Gyro on Flatout Flatbread.
    I absolutely LOVED this recipe! Other than cooking the sirloin, there really isn't much to it. Just toss the ingredients in a blender or processor and let it do all the work. The secret to a great gyro is in the sauce, and this my friends, is an excellent sauce!

    Two major changes I made with this recipe were in the number of servings it makes and in the amount of sirloin used. In the original recipe, two pounds of sirloin makes four gyros. That equates to 8 ounces of meat per gyro; twice the size of one meat serving. Way too much! Instead, one pound of sirloin can be split up to make five gyros. Fill the rest of the gyro by topping with vitamin-packed, low-cal toppings such as cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Sometimes a little portion readjustment is all that is needed to make a recipe go from heavy to healthy.

    In addition to these changes, simple substitutions were made with the yogurt, feta and bread choice; giving us the following savings per serving (before veggie toppings):

    BEFORE: 574 calories;  22g fat;  31g carbohydrates;  61g protein 

    AFTER: 298 calories;  11g fat;  19g carbohydrates;  37g protein

    SAVED:  276 calories; 11g fat;   12g carbohydrates        
    Want to try knocking off a little more fat? Try using grilled chicken breast instead of sirloin. A boneless/skinless chicken breast is very lean; averaging about 1 gram of fat per serving! Also, if you can find a fat-free Feta, this will also save around 3 grams of fat per serving.


    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Sweet Rewards

    Having a sweet tooth can be considered a weakness by some when trying to maintain a healthy diet. It is easy to see why that may be the case. Sugar is the main source of sweetness for most "go-to" treats such as candies, cookies and cakes. We are always hearing about too much sugar being bad for us. It leads to weight gain and other problems. But what if there was a real sweetener that offered satisfaction for your sweet tooth AND health benefits?

    Being that we are right in the middle of winter (or sick season), no time is better than now to introduce our bodies to immune-boosting maple syrup. Real maple syrup is high in manganese and zinc, which both protect our muscles and boost the immune system. How's that for a sweet deal?

    Next time you are thinking about something sweet, try using maple syrup! A whole-grain waffle with a tablespoon of maple makes a great snack. Maple syrup is also a healthy sweetener for things such as Maple Green Beans or Pecan Pie. If you need something quick, try this quick sports drink found in Runner's World Magazine (January 2011):

    Sweet Sports Drink: Mix 12 ounces of water with 3 tablespoons of real maple syrup.

    A sweet tooth may be trying to tell us something. Perhaps your immune system needs a little boosting! Of course, it could be some dark chocolate that our bodies are looking for....but that is a topic for another Tuesday.

    Have a great day!

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Monte Cristos

    So what started out as a craving for grilled cheese somehow turned into me trying out Rachael Ray's Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Monte Cristos. Sometimes this sort of thing happens. I don't fight the pull of a craving. I go with it. Now, there is absolutely nothing boring about two slices of bread held together by melted American cheese. The traditional grilled cheese is a classic; one of the very first things I ever made over the stove. But last night, as I am mentally going through my refrigerator during my exciting commute home from work (sense the sarcasm?), I realized there was already enough at home to put together a more elaborate grilled sandwich. Once I got home, I went directly to my most recent copy of Everyday with Rachael Ray and turned to the section I had marked; Breakfast for Dinner. With a quick check to make sure I really did have everything I needed, it was confirmed. Grilled Cheese Night had just gotten an upgrade to Monte Cristos!

    Serves 4
    Just a pinch of powdered sugar makes a pretty finishing touch.


    12 slices center-cut bacon

    8 slices White Wheat Bread 

    4 slices Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese 

    4 slices Fat-Free (or Reduced-Fat) Swiss

    2 Golden Delicious or Gala apples, cored and very thinly sliced

    3 large eggs; egg whites only

    1/2 cup fat free half-and-half

    A little freshly grated nutmeg

    Non-Fat Cooking Spray

    Warm lite or sugar-free syrup, for drizzling


    Cook the bacon however you prefer (pan, microwave, broiler, etc) just until crisp. Arrange four slices of bread with one slice of Swiss cheese and the apples on top. Beat the egg whites with the milk (or half-and-half) and a little nutmeg.

    Heat a large griddle pan over medium heat and spray lightly with non-fat cooking spray. When ready, arrange three slices of bacon on each sandwich and top with one slice of RF Cheddar cheese and four more slices of bread. Coat each sandwich in the egg batter. Grill the sandwiches until deep golden on each side and the cheese has melted. Halve the sandwiches and drizzle with a little bit of lite, warm syrup.


    I remembering ordering Monte Cristos as a young teenager and never being able to eat but half of it. The sandwich was always monstrous; way too much for one serving. Even knowing I was only going to eat half, it didn't stop me from ordering my favorite sandwich. Now that I have this recipe, I know it is possible to recreate those same flavors in a leaner, portion controlled way. With this recipe, believe me, there were no left-overs or waste. The added bonus; the ingredients are common enough that on any given night, I could make this sandwich as a last minute, care-free dinner without having to make another trip to the store. You busy bees gotta love that!

    What the nutritional breakdown for this one? Take a look!

                                                                  BEFORE                                  AFTER

    CALORIES                                           904.50                                      423.50
    FAT (grams)                                           41.35                                        15.00
    CARBOHYDRATES  (g)                       92.10                                        46.50
    PROTEIN  (g)                                          40.00                                        30.75

    * Per Serving = one sandwich

     Want to cut the fat a little more? Try substituting Canadian bacon or thin-sliced deli ham for the bacon.

    I hope you enjoy this lean twist on the Monte Cristo. To me, it is the perfect sandwich for those cold, winter days.

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving using light bread & fat free cheddar): 327.75 calories;  8g fat; 47.25g carbohydrate;  24.89g protein;  8.65g fiber

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Welcome to Kimber's Korner

    "Where even if you're 2, there's still so much you can do!"

    Hi everybody! You all may have seen me around here from time to time. I'm Kimber!

    For as long as I can remember, my mom has really been into cookin' and sharing what we do around here with all of you. I love helping her out in the kitchen. She lets me stir, pour in ingredients, wear a cute little apron and even sneak samples of what we are cookin' as we go! It's really cool being a part of Mommy's blogging thing, but I was thinkin' that it would be even cooler to have a place of my very own in The Cookin' Lean Kitchen. A place for kids that love to cook...just like me! Well, I shared my idea and Mommy said, "I love it! Go for it!" So friends, I am proud and pumped to announce the unveiling of my very own spot here at . Welcome to Kimber's Korner!

    Please come by and visit me here at Kimber's Korner; where I will be sharing tips, recipes and how-to videos for many of my favorite, kid-friendly dishes.

     Thanks, friends!  ~ 



    Naked Fitness Giveaway Winners!

    The two lucky winners of Andrea Metcalf's newest book,Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body, are....drumroll please...


    Tanya @ StarryEyed

    A huge "THANK YOU" goes out to everyone that entered this giveaway! If you would like more information on Andrea Metcalf's fitness programs, please visit her at  

    **Winners, please email your shipping information to as soon as you can!

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: The Real Reason for Livin' Lean

    Although I can't provide you with any accurate statistics on the matter, it would be safe to say that most diets begin with a negative criticism of one's physical self. We don't like the way our behinds look in a bikini. Or we cringe at the sight of our arm that keeps waving good-bye even though our hand has stopped. These physical attributes that we label as imperfections are the driving force in what tells us to restrict our diets, join the gym or even explore more drastic measures of physical change. Believe me, I know. I have been known to think in this way from time to time. But what I have grown to understand over the years is that when it all boils down to it, none of that stuff really matters.

    So what does matter? Why bother exercising and eating well if not to make yourself look better? I'll tell you why. Because life is too short as it is. Each day is a blessing and if I can help my chances of gaining more days by taking care of myself, then I am going to do it. Life has given me an incredible family, loyal friends, an amazing husband and a daughter that has taught me what life is all about. Taking care of ourselves and our families is one thing that we can control in a world where there are so many things that we cannot. Eating well, exercising; this is all part of an effort to stay healthy and enjoy life for as long as we can. Having a kick-ass body to walk around in is just the added bonus. It is not the main motivation.
    In my opinion, gym commercials should depict images of everyday people, like you and me, enjoying an active life. Aside from seeing shots of people in the gym, commercials need to show people playing in the yard with their kids, riding bikes on the beach, playing tennis with their friends, taking hikes in beautiful places...all the fun things we can do in life when we are fit and healthy. These are the things that can truly motivate people to get movin'; realistic goals everyone can attain. Six-pack abs can be a pretty sweet reward for eating well and working out, but it's not the real reason for livin' lean. The real reason resides in giving yourself the best life ever. I see my reason every morning; waking up to my husband and daughter and being thankful for being given the gift of another day. If that's not a good reason for livin' lean, then I don't know what is.

    Make today a fabulous one!

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Cooking Light with Ina Garten: Eggplant Gratin

    Even with being as big of a health nut as am, it still took me a little over 30 years to finally give eggplant a try. The only time I ever really had the chance to try eggplant was in Eggplant Parmesan. But since I am a little like my husband when it comes to proteins, if given the choice between Eggplant Parm and Chicken Parm, I am definitely going with the bird. That is probably why it has taken so long for me to try this veggie. So what did I think? One things is for sure, if it tastes as good in other recipes as it does in this version of Ina Garten's inspired Eggplant Gratin, than I am now officially an eggplant lover for life. Check it out!

    Serves 4


    fat free cooking spray (suggested, olive oil cooking spray)

    3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick

    1/4 cup  FAT FREE or SKIM ricotta cheese

    1 extra-large egg

    1/4 cup FAT FREE half-and-half

    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

    Kosher salt

    Freshly ground black pepper

    1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce (Like Newman's Own Marinara Sauce)


    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    Heat a very large frying pan over medium heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to a platter. Spray again and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

    In each of the 4 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/4 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, 1/4 the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

    Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.


    This recipe makes a fantastic side dish! In Ina's recipe, these amounts make 2 servings. If you are going to make this for two, then you can go ahead and call it the main course. Serve it with a little garlic bread and a glass of wine....YUM! But by breaking this recipe down into 4 servings, you are able to create an impressive, low-calorie, low-fat side. Let's just say that I am in love with Eggplant Gratin! In fact, I ate the left-over dish for my snack after school. So I guess it makes a great snack too!

    Look below and see how the nutritional info breaks down. Just by swapping out the whole versions of Ricotta and half-and-half for the fat free variety, we are able to save around 66 calories and 7.5 grams of fat per serving! See how easy it is eat great while cookin' lean! 

                                                  BEFORE                           AFTER  
    Calories                                  190.0                               123.5
    Fat                                              12.0                                    4.5
    Carbohydrates                        14.0                                  15.0
    Protein                                      11.5                                     9.4

    As you can see from the numbers, fat and calories were significantly cut by making these simple changes. It is also important to note that the carbohydrates increased by 1 gram and the protein was reduced by almost 2 grams. Although we don't like to see the protein go because of how great it is for our bodies, the savings we are making in other areas makes the protein loss worth it. Even so, we are still getting a decent amount of protein from this lightened version of Ina Garten's Eggplant Parmesan. I really do encourage you to give it a go...especially if have managed to avoid the eggplant like I have.


    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Spicy Bacon-Cheddar Butterflies

    A recipe title with the words "bacon" and "cheddar" just can't be bad. If you are familiar with anything I have shared about my husband's palette, then you know he was all for this recipe makeover. Bacon and cheddar are great on their own. But imagine wrapping them up together in a warm, buttery crescent roll. YUM! I love this recipe because it is quick, easy and just looks so darn cute. Check out how to make your own "leaned-up" version of Rachael Ray's Spicy Bacon-Cheddar Butterflies for your next party!

    Makes about 20


  • 1 package Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Crescent Rolls

  • 1/4 cup shredded  2% cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup shredded FAT FREE cheddar cheese

  • 10 pieces cooked crumbled CENTER CUT OR TURKEY bacon

  • 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • non-fat cooking spray


    Roll out crescent rolls, blending the seams together with your fingertips; making; making two rectangles. In a small bowl, mix together both the Reduced-Fat and Fat Free Cheddars. Sprinkle each rectangle with 1/4 cup cheese, 5 pieces cooked and crumbled bacon and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Roll up the crescent roll just to the center, then repeat with the opposite side. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; then place on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake at 400° until golden, about 10-15 minutes.


    These were a hit! I took them over to a neighbors for New Year's Eve and everyone who had one loved it. Not having any to bring home is always a good sign. The only area where I would caution you would be with the cayenne pepper. Cayenne packs a very powerful punch in the heat department. If spicy isn't your thing, just leave it out. They are still delicious without. In fact, for the party, I made one batch with and one without. Those who are not big on spicy were thrilled to have a "not so hot" version.

    Another flavor option, aside from the cayenne pepper, would be to spread about a tablespoon of light or fat free ranch dressing on the crescent before adding the cheese and bacon. Just remember that with the added flavor will come the added fat and calories. If you use a light variety, it won't be significant, but be sure to factor that into the calorie calculations.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION: The following calculations are for the entire recipe before and after the makeover. "Per Butterfly" is referring to a nutritional estimate of the "lighter" version.

                                     BEFORE                 AFTER        PER BUTTERFLY

    Calories -                  2184                        1105                     55
    Fat -                              160.5                          56                      3
    Carbohydrates -          85                             99                      5
    Protein -                         88                             57                      3

    I hope you enjoy these little butterfly bundles. They are simple, fun and really open up possibilities for the standard crescent roll. This recipe has definitely got me cookin' up new ideas. Cooking sparks such creativity. Don't you just love it?!?!?


    **Nutritional information entered and attained from These are not exact calculations; only close estimates.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    It's Giveaway Day: A Copy of Andrea Metcalf's NAKED FITNESS

    Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free BodyAs promised, today is the first day of the NAKED FITNESS  giveaway. Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body, written by fitness and nutrition expert, Andrea Metcalf. This is a great read for the beginner and the experienced alike. Andrea writes in a way that speaks to everyone; in a style you can connect with. No matter where you fall on the fitness spectrum, you are gonna want a copy of this!


    1- Leave a comment sharing your biggest challenge with eating and/or exercise to be counted once in the drawing.

    2- Follow Andrea on Facebook or Twitter...and I will count you twice.

    3- Follow Cookin' Lean on Facebook or Twitter....and I will count you one more time!

    This prize in more valuable than $$ can describe. You just can't put a price on the information, advice and inspiration found in the words on these pages. It's more than a book; it's your health. What is more valuable than that?
    I really do encourage you to enter this giveaway. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

    Giveaway open to US residents only. All comments must be entered before 12:00 am ET on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. The TWO winners will be announced on Thursday, January 13th. Good luck!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: A Great Book for a Fresh Start

    Over winter break, I was able to read a smart, motivational book by fitness expert, Andrea Metcalf. This is especially exciting for me because as a doctoral student, most of my reading is mandatory and not always all that fun. This was a much needed change of pace. The book, Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body, reinforces the many truths about living a healthy lifestyle and loving the body you are in. I made a real connection with this book. When it comes to health, nutrition and exercise; Andrea has got it figured out! 

    Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free BodySee, the things we need to do in order to look and feel great are not a well-kept secret. Information about the foods we need and the amount of exercise required are very accessible. There are plenty of resources out there (this book being one of them) to create the perfect plan for each of us. Once we find the plan that works, the real secret lies in finding, and maintaining, the right attitude to stick with it.

    Andrea devotes a large part of the book to getting you mentally prepared for the Naked Fitness program. It involves facing the truth, facing the mirror, finding what you love about your body and pinpointing the things you don't. It also involves finding the motivational words to help push us along; the mantras. Actually, the part of the book I loved most was the section of inspirational, motivational quotes. A lot of them really resonated with me and where I am in my life. I truly believe that these phrases can push us to our best life. Never underestimate the power of words.  

    Some of my favorites taken from Naked Fitness: The Proven 28 Day Lifestyle Program for a Slimmer, Fitter, Pain Free Body:

    “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions” - Albert Einstein

    “If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces,never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. " -Flavia Weedn

    “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” -Michael Jordan

    “It's never too late to be what you might have been.”-George Elliot

    In addition to getting down to the bare truths about the mental and emotional sides to fitness, Andrea also shares an easy-to-follow exercise guide and nutrition plan. It is written and organized in a way that makes it easy for anyone to follow and understand. There are even pictures to help with the exercise portion! Not only has does this book serve as a great source of information, it will also be a great reference for years to come.

    The most important point to understand about Naked Fitness is that it is not a diet. It is a life change; a change that you can live with. The whole idea is that you are able to stick with it. It is not a rigid diet and exercise program that banishes all of the fun in life. It is a lifestyle that promotes clean eating and daily activity, while allowing those wonderful splurges we look so forward to. A lifestyle that Cookin' Lean recipes work just beautifully in! 

    With a sea of expert advice, it can be overwhelming at times to know who to follow. Know this; Andrea is an educated and experienced fitness professional of 27+ years. Her list of credentials is impressive to say the least,  and by just looking at her,  you can see that she clearly practices what she preaches. When you read Andrea's book, you can be sure you are getting reliable information from one of the best of the best in the industry. 

    Does this sound like a book you would like to get your hands on? If so, please check back tomorrow for the Naked Fitness Giveaway where you could be one of two winners. See you tomorrow!!

    **To learn more about Naked Fitness and Andrea Metcalf, visit the following links:

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Portobello Pizzas

    Welcome to the first post of 2011! Hopefully you had a wonderful time ringing in the New Year. We sure did!

    Looking forward, I am full of excitement and optimism for all that is to come. One of the things coming your way this year will be a brief nutritional analysis of each recipe that receives a "cookin' lean" makeover. At the moment, I don't have the resources available to give you a 100% , fully-detailed, professional analysis.  What I can do is tally up the calories, fat grams, carbohydrates and proteins for each recipe using information provided by the USDA and food manufacturers. This is something I feel is very important in helping you healthy cooks out there to really see what happens to these recipes, based on the numbers. Even though these recipes are "lighter" and "leaner", this is not a free pass to eat as much as we want. Paying attention to nutritional information is still a key component to livin' lean. is the first recipe for 2011; Portobello Pizzas inspired by Rachael Ray!

    Servings 4


    4 large portobello mushroom tops, stems removed and gills scraped

    1 tablespoon Extra-virgin olive oil

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    3 links Italian TURKEY sweet sausage (Shady Brook Farms or Jennie-O)

    1/2 pint grape tomatoes

    1/2 FAT FREE half & Half 

    1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded or torn

    1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano

    Preheat broiler.

    Dress the mushroom caps with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper. Broil the portobello mushrooms 5 minutes on each side until tender.
    While caps are broiling heat skillet over medium high heat and spray with non-fat cooking spray, add sausage and brown and crumble the meat, then add tomatoes to skillet and cook another few minutes until they burst. Add half & half to skillet and reduce 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the sausage from heat and fold in basil. Fill mushroom caps and top with cheese, place under broiler to brown 2 to 3 minutes then quarter caps and serve.


    Rachael's version is intended for appetizers; which you could very well do. However, when I look at this recipe, I see a meal! Serve these pizzas along with a small salad and you are set. They are packed with protein and veggies; plus low in carbohydrates (good for meals later in the day). Check out how the nutritional values break down per serving (1 pizza):

    Calories ~ 208.25
    Total Fat ~ 11.1 g
    Carbohydrates ~ 8.7 g
    Protein ~ 18.6 g

    Not too bad, right?!?! You get a lot of bang for your buck with these. So where did I cut back? If you check out Rachael's original recipe, she calls for at least 2 more tablespoons of EVOO; which can add about 7 grams of fat per serving. Swapping turkey sausage for regular sausage and fat free half & half for cream, we are able to find two more places to really save on fat and calories. By saving so much with these changes, we can still afford to keep all the cheese; which to me is the best part.


    **Nutritional information for ingredients in this recipe were found on


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