Friday, August 16, 2013

Foodie Friday: Healthy Eating Recipes!

Let's be honest: You're here for the recipes, right? ;D I understand. Let's cover the food first, then if you're curious how I'm eating/exercising, that'll be below the "Read More" link!

Here are some of my favorite recipes that are low-calorie, and easily served alongside some veggies (if they don't incorporate veggies already)!

The one pictured above is my own mish-mash that I like to call "Asian Goulash" (even though it has nothing in common with actual goulash). I love Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang's, but it's an awfully expensive option. ;) I found this recipe from YumSugar years ago, and basically mish-mashed the recipe into my own combination of them. If I don't feel like scooping it into lettuce, I'll serve it over rice instead with a little extra sauce. This recipe doubles easily if you have more people to feed; I designed it for one large serving each for 2 people (The Hubs and myself).

Asian "Goulash"

1/2 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
1/2 of an 8oz can of water chestnuts, chopped into bite-size pieces
2-3 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
1 Tbsp minced garlic (or less, if you're not as into garlic as I am - I loooove garlic)
1 tsp minced fresh ginger OR 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, split
1 Tbsp hoisin or oyster sauce (whatever you prefer), split
1 tsp corn starch, split
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
dash of sesame oil (optional)
minced green onions (optional)
lettuce leaves (I love butter lettuce for this) or cooked rice

  1. Chop your veggies and aromatics first! Sprinkle 1/2 a tsp of cornstarch over the ground turkey and mix it up. (The cornstarch will help give the sauce something to adhere to later.)
  2. Mix 1.5 Tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 a Tbsp of hoisin/oyster (whichever you chose). Go ahead and mix the remaining soy and hoisin, 1/2 a tsp of cornstarch, pepper flakes, and  sesame oil (if including); it'll be your sauce for pouring over the meat and rice. We're prepping all this stuff ahead because the cooking process will go FAST.
  3. Spray a little cooking spray on your skillet. Throw in the garlic and ginger, and stir around a little, about 1 minute. Add the cornstarched-mixed meat, and cook until meat is cooked through. 
  4. Add in the celery and water chestnuts. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring around. 
  5. Pour the soy/hoisin-only mixture over the meat and veggies, and stir around to make sure everything's covered. You're done!
  6. Serve over rice or in washed lettuce leaves, pouring the sauce over it if you desire. (If you don't think you'll want sauce, use it during the cooking process. The Hubs likes having extra sauce so I save half for serving.) Enjoy!
Served over rice, each serving is 352 calories, 9.4g fat, 37.3g carbs (4g of fiber!), and 28g of protein! SUPER-filling.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

I actually typed the recipe up over on SparkRecipes already. But it's mine! I modified it from a vegan recipe on because I like cheese too much to substitute the fake stuff. ;p

Other healthy recipes I like that I didn't create:
Sausage and Brown Rice casserole (I sub in carrots and cauliflower for the bell pepper)
Slow-Cooker Teriyaki Pork  (I serve it over brown rice and steamed broccoli!)
Fagioli Soup - pasta fagioli soup without the pasta
Cheeseburger Soup - Low carb and deeee-lish!

What's great about all of these recipes is that they HAPPEN to be healthy while also being super-tasty! The Hubs does NOT complain when we eat these, and I don't feel like all I'm eating is lettuce.

If you'd like to know what my general eating and exercise practices are, click on "Read More"!
The healthy eating thing has been hit or miss ever since I realized it was a problem; it's HARD to change years of bad habits and give up foods that have been your go-to comfort food. It is legitimately like an addiction when you're used to eating mostly the bad-for-you stuff because it sets off those pleasure centers in your brain! But when the bad-for-you stuff makes you physically ill (as it has for the last few years), after a while you get sick of feeling, well, sick! After a particularly nasty period of eating the deliciously bad-for-you food, I sensed a desire to change. (Seriously, when you start craving a salad, you know your eating is a mess!) So I seized the moment, and I've been fairly successful for over a month now! This time feels different, like it's going to stick - plus it feels different in that I feel a gajillion times better. It's nice to not feel sick and gross all the time!

My overall "diet" (as in how I eat, not a fad diet) is this: I'm not counting calories, but I am trying to eat "clean". "Clean eating" for me means high protein with some carbs at every meal (complex over simple; the only simple I'll typically allow is potatoes, and even then it's limited to, like, half a potato); as little processed foods, alcohol (*sob*), white flour, and white sugar as possible; 3 meals a day and only a snack if I'm genuinely hungry; trying to keep the simple carbs to mainly breakfast and lunch (which is when I'm more likely to burn them off); and eat veggies with my meals at least twice a day. I'll start counting calories if I really don't see a change, but so far I feel a big difference in how I feel overall; more energy, and the "sick" I used to feel is almost non-existent! Not to mention I eat more fiber and protein this way, so I tend to be fuller longer anyway. If I eat the processed/white flour/white sugar, I feel "sick" unless I only eat a bite or two with lots of other good-for-me food, so it's just easier to avoid it. For example, I can still have a mini ice cream sandwich or mini ice cream bar at the end of the day after a healthy dinner, because it's not enough sugar to feel gross with all that protein and veggies in my tummy already - plus I feel a little indulged and not deprived. Plus it's usually the only "bad" thing I'm eating that day.

The carbs that I'm avoiding are breads/baked goods/pastries, white rice,  and pasta... most of the time. I'm human, I'll eat them on occasion, but I've noticed that I feel MUCH better when I avoid them, especially the breads/baked goods. I'm used to brown rice now, and like it much better - but I still keep the serving reasonable. Pasta is mostly avoided, but I occasionally eat Dreamfields pasta or small amounts of Pasta-Roni. I've made homemade pasta-roni to avoid unnecessary processed chemicals - quite tasty, and makes a TON. Most of the time it's 1-3 times a week at the MOST, depending on what's going on, and usually much less frequent than that. Potatoes are also limited, and I eat both kinds (white and sweet) in small amounts. While they are delicious, I know the more I eat them, the worse my body feels. Sadly, bread is almost completely out of the question. Every once in a while in small amounts is ok, but it's a "trigger" food in that I will eat more than I need to if it's available (esp. warm loaves of French bread and garlic bread, mmmm) AND it sends my blood sugars up FAST, leading to feeling sick.

I mentioned before my trying to break my diet soda habit. It was still pretty much all I drank. What made me accustomed to drinking water was to start putting in a few squirts of lemon or lime juice in it! I use those fruit-shaped bottles of juice; yeah, probably better to use fresh fruit, but it works for me. I squeeze it in the glass before I pour the water, and it makes it palatable. Better hydration works out nicely for me, too - I used to have constantly chapped lips when I drank mainly diet soda, but I rarely have to use lip balm now!

As for the exercise, that's been more of a struggle. The idea of working out JUST to work out is BOR-RING to me. However, if my purpose is to have fun, and exercise is a coincidental side-effect, then it will happen and I won't even mind. I slowly warmed myself up over the last year by joining a sports league (volleyball, then softball; I'm going back to volleyball at the end of the month). Now I'm trying to incorporate exercise in small spurts during the day; a short morning workout, and a short afternoon/evening workout. For now, I'm keeping it to 15 minutes at a time (30 minutes total) because I'm VERY out of shape, but as I feel stronger, I'll work up to 30 minutes each. Variety also works for me - I've found several YouTube workout videos and workout instructions from SparkPeople, beginner yoga videos on YouTube, and sometimes I'll just throw on some good tunes and dance my booty off while getting my chores done! As long as I'm having fun and it doesn't feel tedious, I'll be able to keep it up. Right now, keeping the sessions short keeps the tedium at bay.

So far, these all work really well for me and they're manageable, which means I have no reason to NOT do them.  Plus as long as I keep feeling good, I'll stick with it!

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