Fitness Crazed Foodie
Lover of all things food and fitness related
Having a salad for dinner everyday can be just plain old boring. And instead of adding flavorful full-fat dressings and loading it with sugary or fatty toppings to make it less boring, I have a new and healthier idea for you-- a Grilled Romaine Salad! Yes, I said you should grill your lettuce. And yes lettuce tastes even better warm and charred! This past week I added grilled romaine to meals and tried it out two different ways: on a sauté pan and on the grill. The grill added more of a charred flavor, but they were both great!
This idea is as simple as it sounds. All you have to do is cut the head of Romaine into the serving sizes that you want, drizzle a little bit of olive oil on each, top with salt and pepper, and grill it for only a minute or two until the charred grill lines show up!
You can finish it off with your choice of salad toppings and dressing, but personally I don't think it needs much because the olive oil, seasoning, and grilling already gives it a ton of flavor. The lettuce will no longer have a dull taste, and it is a perfectly tasteful side to any dinner dish. In the picture to the left, we barbecued chicken breasts and had the grilled lettuce and a sweet potato as sides. But, if you want to make a salad for your meal and not just as a side, I have a great recipe for you.
For one serving:
Grilled romaine (amount is up to you)
1/4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. grilled chicken breast
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp feta cheese
2 tbsp candied walnuts (from Trader Joe's)
1 serving: 390 Calories
This salad brings together a ton of different elements that create a filling and flavorful meal without costing you the calories! It has healthy fats from the olive oil and walnuts, and satiating protein from the chicken. Rethink your negative associations with salads, and get that lettuce on the grill to have a delicious side to any meal, or to create a salad concoction of your own!
Just because I'm calling this a fiesta does not mean that there has to be a reason to celebrate! I just love Mexican food and am always trying to make healthier versions of the large and greasy portioned meals you get at restaurants. Last night I made chicken and vegetable fajitas, without the tortillas, and topped the meal off with some homemade guacamole. There is no such thing as a Mexican meal without guacamole!
I started off by sautéing some red and orange peppers and red onions with a little bit of olive oil in a sauté pan. I love the color that these vegetables add to the dish! I then just cut some left over chicken I had from a different night into strips and heated it up in a pan with some water and fajita seasoning.
Those two dishes were very simple and just took a few minutes each! I then started making my guacamole, which is one of my specialities that I have been making for years.
I smashed up an avocado, added chopped tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. And waahhlaa you have an amazingly tasty addition to the meal that everyone will love. I know that avocados have a lot of calories and fat, but it is the fat that you should be eating! So let yourself splurge on the guacamole, but hold off on the tortilla chips. I like to eat my guac with cucumbers and carrots, or just on top of my chicken. Once you open that bag of tortilla chips there is no going back, so I just don't even bring them out of the pantry.
The whole meal consisted of the seasoned chicken strips with peppers and onions, and topped it off with some salsa and guacamole on the side. There are a couple reasons this meal is a lot healthier than restaurant version fajitas: low-carb with no tortillas and a low-fat with no cheese or sour cream. Although cheese and sour cream are very popular toppings on Mexican meals, there are already so many flavor components to this meal that you hardly taste them when everything is added together. Therefore, you can substitute the high fat toppings with lower calorie options. I love trying different types of salsas that can really add something extra to the dish. If you want some spice, add a medium or hot salsa, or if you want some sweetness you can top it with mango, peach, or other fruity salsas!
Mexican food has a lot of flavor and spice, and there are many ways you can enjoy the authentic food in a healthy way! When there are tortillas or taco shells involved, try it without them and use lettuce as a base instead! When there are fatty toppings like sour cream and cheese, try it without them and use different flavored salsas and chopped veggies instead! When there is guacamole, try it with vegetables or on top of the chicken instead of tortilla chips! These changes will allow you to enjoy a lot of the flavor without the guilt.
What's better than the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly? Peanut butter and jelly AND chocolate. This snack puts a healthier twist on a Reese's cup that we all know and love. With no added sugar and just three ingredients, these cups are a simple and delicious snack or dessert!
You can make one cup, or you can make a whole batch at one time. All you need is: dark chocolate chips, reduced sugar jelly (whatever kind you want), and reduced fat peanut butter.
Line mini muffin tins with paper liners. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and stir until smooth. Spoon out about a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the tins and make sure the chocolate is around the sides of the tin to make a cup. Put in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden. Then put a teaspoon of peanut butter and a teaspoon of jelly into each cup. Melt the same amount of chocolate chips used previously, and stir until smooth. Spoon some chocolate on top of the jelly to close up the cup. Put in the refrigerator until it is all hardened, and they are ready to eat! Keep them in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn't get messy and the cups will keep their shape.
Each cup is about 100 calories and with the reduced sugar jelly and reduced fat peanut butter, it is a lot healthier than a classic candy bar that has a ton of added sugar and oils. You can experience with this recipe by adding different ingredients into the middle of the chocolate cups, like substituting the jelly with honey or nuts! Depending on who you are making them for, you can switch around the ingredients on the inside to cater to what they prefer. Regardless of how you prefer your cups, they are easy to make and are a healthier chocolate snack choice you should definitely try.
I've probably tried every granola bar, fiber bar, protein bar, etc that are out in stores, but I have never made them myself. Granola bars are a great snack, especially if they are filled with some protein to actually fill you up. I began looking up recipes on Pinterest to get ideas for how I wanted to make my own. I knew that peanut butter and dried fruit were two ingredients I wanted in my bars, but besides that I needed some inspiration. Based on recipes from Pinterest and what I've had in my favorite bars, I came up with my own recipe for what I call "You're Driving Me Nuts Bars". I came up with this name because I was making these bars with my mom and we wanted to come up with a name that describes something about our relationship. And since the bar has nuts and peanut butter in it, I decided to put a little funny pun into the title!
1/2 cup unsalted almonds
2/3 cup unsalted cashews
1 1/2 cups 100% natural whole grain Quaker Oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup low-sugar Craisins
1/3 cup flax seed meal
1/3 cup light Agave Nectar
1 cup almond butter
Makes 20 servings/bars. About 190 calories each.
All you do is mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and spread it along a baking pan. I used a 13'' x 9'' pan to create medium thickness bars. As you can see from the picture, I put parchment paper down in between the bars and the pan just so I didn't have a problem with it sticking to the pan.
I put the pan in the refrigerator for an hour and once everything felt set, I cut them into 20 bars. You can cut smaller or larger bars, but I calculated the calories with the bars cut into 20 servings.
I had a little problem with the bars falling apart, so I might make a few changes the next time I try to make them. One idea to change to recipe is to add some chocolate to it. The bars would hold together a lot better with a thin layer of dark chocolate on the bottom. I think each bar would be perfect with just a half of tablespoon of melted dark chocolate chips added to the bottom, and this would only add about 35 calories per bar, and it would satisfy a chocolate craving you might have!
You can also substitute out the type of nuts I used with any of your favorite nuts. I was thinking of using pistachios or macadamias for the next homemade bars I try! I also want to try to add protein powder to the next batch. These bars are already pretty healthy, but adding protein would give an extra nutritional benefit and would help fill you up with eating less. Another idea I had is to bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes to make it crunchier and break it up into pieces to put in greek yogurt as a topping!
It was really fun to come up with my own creation and I'm excited to keep tweaking the recipe to find the perfect granola bar recipe. Let me know if you have any other healthy and yummy ingredients you would add!
I've recently seen a lot of attention being brought to zucchini noodles (a.k.a zoodles), so I decided to try it out myself and see what all the hype was about. I've tried spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta before, but it wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be. So my search for the perfect pasta substitute continued and I began looking through many different Pinterest and blog recipes to figure out the best and most simple way to make this zucchini noodles. Most recipes called for a spiralizer to make the noodles, but since I don't have this at home, I found alternative recipes to make them. Some recommended using a peeler to make thin, long noodles, and others recommended using a cheese grater. I decided to go with the cheese grater to make more spaghetti-like noodles.
I was only making this dish for myself, so I used one medium zucchini. I peeled off some of the skin and chopped off the ends. Then, just like I would grate a block of cheese, I grated the zucchini length-wise right into the sauté pan that was heating up with a 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the whole zucchini was grated into the pan, it only needed to sauté for about 3-5 minutes and the zoodles were ready to go!
I added some homemade marinara sauce on top, and as you can see from the picture it turned out to be a deliciously colorful dish! Because the zucchinis are not filled with carbs like pasta, I knew I needed some protein on the side to fill me up. So to finish off the dish I added three 2-ounce homemade turkey meatballs (93% lean meat).
The zoodles lived up to the hype and were a perfect substitute for pasta. They had a little crunch to them and could not be more simple to make! If you have the right mindset about eating healthy, switching out pasta for a vegetable like zucchini or spaghetti squash will be an easy alteration to your diet.
About this Section
This section is here to share my experiences in the kitchen and to give you inspiration to try out healthy and fun recipes!