Monday, January 31, 2011

Not Your Mom's Chicken and Rice

Today was my husband's first day back to work after stand down and when he came home I was starting dinner (I'm such a good wife) so naturally he asked what I was making. I told him "Chicken, rice, and a salad." Sounds like diet food, I know. The great part about eating healthy is that it doesn't have to be boring! If all you ate was grilled chicken breast and broccoli for a month you'd go crazy!! So here is a super easy dazzled up version of chicken and rice to keep your tummy and your tastebuds happy.

This meal consists of three parts: chicken, rice, and a salad. It's been proven that you feel most satisfied when you eat a meal that combines multiple flavors and textures so here we're mixing sweet and spicy flavors. The contrast of the warm meat and rice against the cool crisp veggies is also a plus. Feel free to modify them however you like, I'll just go through what I used.

  • Rice
  • Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Red Pepper flakes
I use long grain brown rice which takes about 45 minutes to cook so I start this first. I started with 3/4 recommended water and 1/4 orange juice. I prefer orange juice whose only ingredients are orange juice. Add all ingredients to the saucepan and cook as otherwise directed.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast, preferably free range, raised without antibiotics
  • Orange juice
  • Sliced onions
  • Grated cheese (any kind) for topping
 Marinate the thawed chicken in enough orange juice to cover it for a few hours. Grill the chicken til cooked through. We use the griddler by Cuisinart. In the last few minutes, put the onion slices on the grill to tenderize.

  • Your choice of greens; I used romaine and spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Zuccini
  • Almonds
By the time you're done chopping your vegetables the chicken and rice should be just about done. Today all our plates were miraculously in the dishwasher so we ended up with a rather unattractive pile of salad, rice and chicken in a bowl. It was still delicious so I'll explain it anyway.

I put the salad in the bowl and refrigerated it for a little bit (about 10 minutes) so the veggies would stay crisp even with the addition of warm chicken and rice. After refrigerating I added a few lightly salted almonds for crunch and a little pure balsamic vinegar. Then I scooped a half cup of rice on top of the salad and placed the chicken breast on top of the rice, salt and pepper to taste. Top the chicken with the grated cheese and the onions.


Low Fat Chocolate Brownies

This entry isn’t as all-natural whole food-y as I like to be but it’s a quick and easy favorite. We love our chocolate and nothing beats a warm, gooey, fudge brownie when the craving hits. You can probably make these from scratch but sometimes it’s nice to be lazy. What we do is bake brownie mix without the oil. Good oil in small amounts is very healthy but a typical 120 calorie serving is only a tablespoon. When your brownie mix calls for a half cup of oil, you’re looking at almost 1,000 calories of pure fat. What we do is skip the oil and substitute it. We’ve used many substitutes but the one we used today is natural unsweetened applesauce. It works to bind the ingredients together while keeping the brownies moist. 

We started with a basic box of brownie mix that called for 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup water, and 2 eggs. We mixed the brownie mix with the 1/4 cup of water but instead of adding 1/2 cup of oil we added 1/2 cup of applesauce. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make the brownies taste like apples! 

You could use the eggs or egg whites but we used egg protein powder instead for an additional nutrition boost. We just mixed one scoop protein powder with an extra 1/4 cup of water.

We mixed it all together and poured into a greased brownie pan and baked according to the directions. It took about 45 minutes to cook and we let it cool 10 minutes before serving. You’ll know they're done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. 

The brownies turned out great! They baked up a lot - almost like a cake. They were chocolatey and moist so we didn’t miss the oil or eggs at all. 
A few other concoctions to try is mixing the brownie mix with a can of diet soda. We’ve done this with ginger ale and they turned out well but personally we’re more likely to have the applesauce on hand than soda. We’ve also used brownie mix and a can of low sodium black beans. These are personally my favorite! They have more calories than using applesauce and water but they are packed with fiber, fairly high in protein and are super fudge-y. 

Prepared as directed
Prepared with substitutions
14.5 g
4 g
38 g
39 g
26 g
27 g
These stats are comparing the package to our substitutes. The applesauce does add a little sugar and therefore a little more carbs. If you're diabetic you'll want to look elsewhere because the bulk of the sugar is in the mix already. The mix also considered a serving 1/20th of the pan. In our 8 x 8 inch pan 1/20th would be a mouse bite! These calculations are for a more generous 1/12th pan serving. You could also experiment with nuts, fruit, oatmeal, peanut butter, different batters the possibilities are numerous. Bring these to your next get together and no one will believe they’re low fat!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Easy Home Made Pizza in 30 Minutes

Saturday is our local farmer’s market day and it is a very exciting day at our house. Usually after our day of shopping we prep a big meal with lots of our local veggies. Tonight’s dinner turned into an impromptu attempt at fresh homemade pizza. I had never made pizza from scratch but we decided that worse case scenario it would be edible. Making pizza sounds like a bigger hassle than calling for delivery but start to finish it only took about 30 minutes and it was really filling. 
The dough: 
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
Mix together well, then place on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is a good consistency. Roll out into a thin crust and place on a baking sheet. 

We brushed on a little olive oil before we added the sauce and toppings, and we didn’t make our sauce. We used Classico brand because its about as simple as store bought sauce can be.
Top with all your favorite toppings and bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes. Voila!

In case you were wondering, we just topped it with what 
we had on hand which ended up being:
  • Cheese
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Onions
  • Assorted olives
  • JalapeƱos

Overall we liked it. The crust was a little thicker than we liked and we will use more sauce next time but those are just our preferences. It was a quick easy recipe and could be adapted to whatever ingredients on hand as long as you have the sauce. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pass the Water, Please

Today I sit writing to you, drinking a cup of one of my favorite organic chamomile teas. I enjoy tea and sometimes drink 4 or 5 cups a day. Tea has many health benefits and since most herbal teas contain no caffeine, I contribute them to my daily water consumption. I’ve always preferred plain water over any other beverage but our local water has an annoying sulfuric smell and taste. When I moved here I stopped drinking water because it tasted so bad. I bought bottled water because I felt it was the only way I could deal with it but I hate the waste of bottled water. I’d go through a minimum of 3 bottles a day! We rent an apartment so we’re not investing in any fancy water system so I attached a faucet filter and during the day I flavor some of my water with an array of herbal tea. 
What sparked my thoughts on water was a conversation we had at dinner tonight with some friends. My husband and I each ordered a glass of water to have with dinner, while a friend of ours ordered beer. The friend asked why my husband ordered a water and he said it was because he was thirsty. The friend replied jokingly that the beer would quench his thirst just as well. My husband said, “I drink a lot of water, it’s good for you.” His friend replied that he doesn’t ever drink water. He drinks beer, and soda. I kept my mouth closed because it’s rude to lecture - er, educate - your friends at dinner, but NO water!? I love my water! So this post (and probably several to follow) is dedicated to: our good friend, H2O.

It is pretty common knowledge that your body is almost 70% water. My bathroom scale even measures my hydration level. Water is the base of nutrition for all living things. To function, your body needs water to regulate everything from temperature to nourishing your organs, removing waste and protecting your joints ( 
Your body loses water naturally so throughout the day you must consume water to replenish it. Some substances such as caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you further so you need to drink more water to make up for it. 
The average person should drink roughly half their body weight (pounds) in water (ounces). This contradicts the old saying of eight (8 oz) glasses per day. According to the weight rule, this would only be enough if you were around 130 lbs. Some of the water we use comes from food we eat - primarily fruits and vegetables. No, you can’t count your fast food apple turnover as a serving of fruit. Other elements such as sodium  are hydrophilic and retain water. This causes instant bloating and weight gain from the extra water. How do you get rid of water weight? Drink more water!
Illnesses and Cures
Dehydration comes in many forms. Mild dehydration can cause cramps, bloating, headache, joint or muscle pain and fatigue. Severe dehydration can accompany many other illnesses or cause other symptoms. Consuming enough water will help your body function at its best and prevent common ailments such as arthritis, back pain, heartburn,  migraines, colitis, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol (WaterCure). Millions of people are on prescription medication for these conditions - many of these are side effects of prescription medications! If you knew you could prevent them or reverse them, wouldn’t you? It seems like many of the conditions that plague us today are affects of the highly processed, sugar and sodium laden, nutritionally void foods that are sold to us. It’s an easy fix, we just need to 1. Care, and 2. Educate ourselves to improve our health for future generations, it’s simple. We can start by drinking water
So this is my challenge to all the water haters out there to incorporate more H2O into your diet. You could start small, maybe replacing some of the soda you drink with water, or just add an extra glass or two in when you wake up or before bed. You’ll be doing yourself a favor with immediate results and lasting benefits. Maybe you’ll learn to like it! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Find of the Day: Makeup That is Good for You??

Day two!
I’d like to let you all know that one of my passions in life is beautyBeing in the cosmetics industry for the past four years and just being very girly - I like to get ready! I like to do my hair and makeup and nothing beats good products. My biggest challenge is finding products that work well, but aren’t killing you in the process. Some of my old favorites (I won’t name names) contain ingredients that are very foreign to your body and some all-natural versions just don’t work. Thats why I get really excited about products that combine health and beauty. 
My new treasures I bought today are by a company I had never heard of before called tarte; which after a little research I found out prides itself on being a green beauty company. YAY!  I purchased two staples: an oil-free tinted moisturizer and a cheek stain. I’m trying to stop using foundation day-to-day but I don’t like how uneven my skintone is so I’ve been on the hunt for a tinted moisturizer with decent coverage. I only bought them today so I haven’t *really* tried them out yet. I’m still wearing the application from sephora. 
So far I really like them both. The moisturizer is smooth and lightweight with enough coverage to even things out a little but still look natural. It contains: 
  • Chamomile extract
  • Vitamins A, C & E
  • Mineral pigments
  • Sodium hyaluronate 
  • SPF 20
I like to know my products (ask my husband - I’m an AVID label reader!) So I looked up Sodium Hyaluronate because it sounded scary. According to this article on Sodium Hyaluronate is basically a form of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) which is a naturally occurring acid in the body that helps the skin retain moisture. As we age, the amount of HA the body produces decreases, leaving the skin dry. HA is the third component of youthful, vibrant skin along with the well-known elsatin and collagen. Applying it topically helps the skin retain moisture. Okay, not so scary. 

What attracted me to the product more than what it does contain, is what it doesn’t contain. All of tarte’s products
  • Are made in the USA
  • Paraben free
  • Phthalate free
  • Sulfate free
  • Synthetic fragrance free
  • Use recyclable and post-consumer recycled packaging
  • Cruelty free (no animal testing)
My moisturizer also contains no:
  • Petro-chemicals
  • Gluten
  • Dye
  • Talc
  • GMOs
Besides all those wonderful things, my cream cheek stain contains what tarte calls their “ T-5 super fruit complex” which is a blend of antioxidant rich extract blend to help fight aging. It contains acai, acerola, goji berry, passionflower and pomegranate. 
I’m hoping I can give a better review after a week or so of wearing it but right now I’m just so excited!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Welcome to both of us! I am Meg. I recently quit my job as a hairdresser to go back to school full time; and to keep my husband from complaining about the fact that I work "all the time." I got married last year to a navy submariner and when he's home it's great. When he's not home I hang out with our very loyal but very hyper soft-coated wheaten terrier named Oswald. I love nutrition and cooking but I don't necessarily want to be a nutritionist or a cook, so I am here to write about it. Sometimes I drive my husband crazy about what he's eating and its nutritional content (or lack thereof) and when I started cooking for him I had to wait until after he had finished the meal before I disclosed what it contained; tofu, eggplant, mashed cauliflower, etc. Every day is an adventure and I'm hoping to share - and learn - some of it with everyone.