Thursday, November 29, 2012

A NYC Home-Made Green Machine Smoothie


Have you ever tried any of the Naked Drinks?

I love them mostly because they are 100% juice. My favorite is the green machine. Funny how my friends see me drinking it and get somewhat disgusted because of the color, not really knowing what it is or the benefits of drinking such a healthy drink. I have one every now and then but never thought about making my own green drink until this morning. Read more about the green machine drink here: http://www.nakedjuice.com/our-products/juice/green-machine 

I love the taste but the problem is the cost.  An average Naked drink in NYC costs about $4.00 and that can be a little steep after a while when you can use that same money to get you a bus ride from one end of the city to the other, to buy postage for bills you rather pay via snail mail, to buy two days worth of New York Times newspapers to read up on the current issues, to take a yoga or zumba class that has a pay by donation without a set price, to park my car for 80 minutes in Manhattan where parking is 50 cents for ten minutes, or something else important. I thought about getting one of those green machines this morning and then I decided to make my own green drink to save my $4.00 for that very reason.  

The idea for experimenting is always there. The issue that comes with the idea is trying to decide what ingredients to use. It is always common to add a few fruits and get a nice drink. But my goal was to get my drink to be as green as the green machine.

Recently, a friend of mine noticed my love for collard greens and recommended kale telling me that it has a similar taste.  I tried raw kale and it was great and lately I have been on this kale kick using it as a substitute for lettuce or spinach in raw salads or lightly steaming it. I decided to try kale in my smoothie.

Also in the mix, I added 1 banana, 1 Fuji apple, 1/3 cup orange juice and ¼ cup water. That smoothie is a true meal in a 20 oz bottle or large cup. The Naked drink has a few more ingredients than mine as they include brocolli, kiwi, garlic, wheatgrass and many other items that give it a darker green appearance, but for a homemade concoction, I decided to keep it simple and it was still a great drink with a light green color and a good taste.

Not only that. My homemade concoction only cost about $1.50 to make with the ingredients I used. With the rest of my $2.50, I can still take a train ride from the Bronx to Queens on the A train if I wanted to and get a quarter back. Not Bad!!!
Tasted better than I expected; I was satisfied! :))
 
Disclosure:  This is an opinion based blogpost. I am not, nor never have been an employee of the NakedJuice company. I am simply a consumer with opinions and also a woman with an agenda to eat better, to lose weight, to maintain, and while doing all that save a little bit of money and share my story with people who might find interest.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Poem: Happy Thanksgiving

 
 
A change of pace
for the day God has made
to gather and celebrate
and to give him thanks.
 
Eat, drink and dance
regardless of the size of your pants
and the strict demands
you place for your diet at hand.
 
For it comes only once a year
this day of thankfulness and cheer
so today, eat the prepared meals without fear
and instead of calorie counting, enjoy with those near.
 
Never forgetting to be thankful
because some were not privileged with that plateful
of blessings that in your life fall
Happy thanksgiving to each and to all!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meal Idea: Grilled Tofu and Vegetables In Orange Sauce With Garlic Mashed Cauliflower


I was doubtful about trying to cook with tofu not really sure how to prepare it or what to prepare it with, but I wanted to try it; especially since I'd been seeking a different and healthy protein idea other than fish, seafood, beans or almonds. 

I had never cooked using tofu before and was not even sure which one would be a good one to choose.  Maybe I am a little naïve when it comes to grocery shopping, especially since I have found myself picking up more food items in my local organic food store than any other market place. But, my decision of which tofu to choose was made based on the inscription on the packaging that said “low fat.” Nonetheless, the product was purchased and I was on my way to experimenting with tofu.

I did not expect it to be as firm as it was. I mean, I have seen it in dishes but for some reason, it did not occur to me that it would be packaged just that way in some form or another. I wanted to try a dish using tofu and vegetables with a side of Mashed Cauliflower and here is how I made it.

Grilled Tofu and Vegetables in Orange Sauce


Serving Size 3

Cooking time about an hour

Calories per serving  141

 

Ingredients

3 Oz Organic Soft Tofu

1 Oz Baby Bella Organic Mushroom

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Oz Raw Radish and Clover Sprouts

¼ Cup Fresh  Basil Leaves

½ Cup Organic Grape Tomatoes

1 Slice Red Onion

1/3 cup Orange Juice

1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/3 Cup Water

1/4 Summer Squash

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

¼ Tsp Everyday Seasoning


Instructions

1.    Put Water, Orange juice and vinegar into a sauce pan, place over a medium fire and bring it to a boil.

2.    While the liquids are on the fire, put grape tomatoes into a plate and smash them until you see a nice amount of the juice from the tomatoes.

3.    When liquid mixhas boiled, add 1 tbsp olive oil, smashed tomatoes and its juices, garlic powder and everyday seasoning. Stir and then allow to stay on the fire for another five minutes and then remove from fire.

4.    In a plate, slice squash, mushroom and onion. Also, take the tofu and cut the portion into small cubes.

5.    In a frying pan, add 1tbsp of olive oil and let heat for one minute over a medium fire.

6.    Add your squash, tofu, mushroom, onion, radish sprouts, and basil and stir for about a minute or two to make sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

7.    Allow vegetables to get brown. Should take about ten minutes or so. Once browned, take orange juice mixture from other pan and pour it over the tofu and vegetables.

8.    Leave on fire until liquid mix dissolves. Let cool for about five minutes and then it is ready to serve.

 The sauce gives the tofu and vegetables a really nice flavor.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower


Serving Size 3

Cooking time 25 minutes

Calories per serving 51

 

Ingredients
1 Medium Head of Cauliflower
1 Garlic Clove
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
¼ Cup Soy Milk
1 Tsp Salt

 

Instructions

1.    Take Cauliflower, cut it up and place it in a medium pot with about a ½ cup of water and allow it to cook and get soft.

2.    Dice garlic clove and add to cauliflower.

3.    Once cauliflower is soft, take it off fire and with a cooking utensil, mash it up.

4.    Add milk, butter and salt and continue to beat and mix cauliflower until texture is so fine, it looks like mashed potatoes.

5.    Place it back over a small fire and allow mixture to thicken a bit. (Optional: Take a slice of green pepper and one of red pepper and dice in fine small pieces and add)

6.    Remove from fire, let cool and then it is ready to serve.
 
If you want to try something a little different, this meal idea will be perfect for you. It does take a good amount of time to complete, but well worth the wait because not only is the tofu and veggies good but so is the mashed cauliflower. Actually, mashed cauliflower has become a favorite. This is a delicious meal that is also lean and good for you.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Some Dieting Tips


 
How often do you read the labels on the foods that you buy?

I know what you are thinking. Calorie counting used to be one of those things that were unimportant to me also but, when I began my weight loss journey, it became important because I began trying to stick to a certain caloric allowance a day. I stay under more than over, but there are days that I go over.

Those labels can be tricky sometimes because not everything is written in clear terms. Sometimes you have to actually do some math when you are reading these labels to make sure you are sticking to the plan, depending on if you have a certain goal or not.

Also, there are some things you can try to stick to your goals that you may not have thought of. I had to change my whole lifestyle in order to make things work in my favor, and it did. Here are some ideas that might be helpful to you if you are.

Fat From Calories

When shopping, people tend to look at the amount of calories in the food that they are buying. If they see it contains a lot of calories in it and are striving to eat better, they might decide to put the item back on the shelf. But, what are the calories from fat against the calories in the content? 

If you are striving to lose weight, perhaps that should matter.  If the item you are purchasing has more than 30 percent of calories from fat in it, it has too much fat in it. Of course some of your healthy items like almonds, peanut butter or pumpkin seeds might have a lot of calories from fat, but these are healthy fats. I am talking about other foods like potato chips, drinks and some of those protein bars.  Try to stick to a diet that is low in unhealthy fats (unsaturated and monounsaturated).

Sodium

Also, do no neglect to look at the sodium count. A lot of those TV dinners might seem healthy because they have the name Smart Ones or Healthy Choice on it, but one meal with over 800 grams of salt is a lot of salt. Maybe you should prepare your own lunches. Cold cuts also have a lot of sodium in it. Your best bet would be to pack your own lunches from the food you cooked.  Canned soups have an extreme amount of sodium in it also.

I have become a chef in my own right, cooking almost on a daily basis to try to balance the things I eat.  If I cook at night after a long day of work, it is because I want to make sure to bring my lunch with me to work for tomorrow. When you prepare your own food, you probably will not add as much salt to your own cooking. Bake, sautee, boil and pack in a microwaveable bowl for the next day.

 

Calories Per Serving
 

So you are looking at that delicious bottle of Naked Drink or Power 50 and you are thinking that looks really refreshing. Sure it does because when you are thirsty, your body deserves to be quenched with a refreshing drink. But did you know that most of those bottles are made for more than one serving. Don’t let the calories mislead you. 

Sure it says the bottle has 175 calories in it, but if the serving size of that bottle is 2 servings double the caloric intake by two because you just had two servings instead of one.  This becomes important if you are leading a low calorie lifestyle and are trying to stay below a certain daily caloric intake. In this case, you do not only double the calories, but also the sodium, sugar and everything else in the product.
 
 

This does not only apply to juices but to our everyday foods. For instance, when you look at the box of cereal in the morning and are deciding to fill up your bowl, look at the label. One serving might say 2/3 cups.   If you are trying to lose weight, pull out a measuring cup and measure it.  If 2/3 cups equates to one serving, that is the calories they are speaking of.  Also, one bowl of cereal does not need to be floating in a whole bunch of milk. For one serving of cereal, add a ½ cup of low fat or skim milk. The index listed on the box can actually be helpful to you if you are really trying to lose weight.
 
 

Another thing to consider is that when you are cooking and a recipe calls for oil to fry or sautee,   one tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories in it.  Frying can be fattening but there are other ways to make a food look like it has been fried even if it was not. How about coating your meats with spices, putting it in the oven and allowing it to bake? People will think it was fried without it having even been in oil. But, if you must use oil, be conscious of how much you are using.

The Sweeter the Better


I used to drink about three cups of coffee a day at one point. I actually thought it was because I was adding sweet creamers and sweetener on top of it. So in spirit of that, during the 40 days of lent a few years back, I gave up sugar. Yet, the coffee habit remained and the sugar habit was kicked. I never went back to adding sugar to my coffee or tea because it became too sweet for me.

I noticed that when I was adding sugar though, one or two teaspoons or packets of sugar, was never enough. I could add at least six or seven and would still not be satisfied. But then if I used a sweetener like equal or splenda, I could add one or two packets and be okay.

Perhaps that is the answer.  Maybe we should opt for the sweetener or brown sugar instead.  If you are adding less and it seems like more, do it because it is better for you.

Or maybe you could go with something else like agave.  All you need is one tablespoon and your tea is sweet. But here is another idea. With all the masking that sugars and sweeteners does, do you actually know what that nicely brewed tea or coffee actually tastes like?  Tastes pretty good without sugar! Why not try it today?

 

Willpower

Just because you are dieting or trying a new lifestyle out does not mean you cannot be social. If your friends invite you out, go. But just because you are out with friends does not mean you have to have everything that they are having or that you are used to having. Change it up.

Alcohol packs on a lot of calories. Opt for a non-alcoholic beverage. Remember, if you are trying to achieve a goal, stick to the plan and do what is right for you. Just hold on to your willpower and never let it go. Just because they want fried chicken does not mean you have to have it. Get something else like a salad, something grilled or a veggie platter. Your goals are yours and no one else’s and the only way to achieve them is to make sure you stay on course. So don’t give up and whatever your goal is will be met.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stuffed Green Peppers With Creamed Spinach


It is so funny how when you choose not to eat certain things, how much of a limit is placed on the things you eat, unless you try to experiment and come up with new ways of preparing meals that you liked before, but just without the same old ingredients that no longer fit into your lifestyle.

For instance, I love rice and every now and then used to make rice with creamed spinach. But now, I do not really eat rice anymore. Perhaps if I do, I consume it once a week or even less than that.

Since most of my food consumption is vegetables, it can become an issue because eating the same thing every day can tend to be a little boring. But then an idea hits that was never tried before and that is how I came up with using the same creamed spinach but instead of adding it to rice, stuffing it in a green pepper. And here is the recipe.

Stuffed Green Peppers with Creamed Spinach
 
 

Serving Size 2

Preparation Time 20 minutes

Calories Per Serving 304 calories

Ingredients

2 Large Green Peppers

1 10 Oz Package Frozen Spinach

3 Sundried Tomatoes

3 Oz of Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

2 Chopped Slices of Onion

3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

 

Instructions

1.      In a medium pot filled with 1 Cup of water, add spinach, tomatoes, onion and cheddar cheese and place it over a medium fire.

2.      Allow to cook until spinach is tender, water has dissolved and cheese has melted.

3.      Sprinkle parmesan cheese over spinach, stir it into spinach mix, leave on fire for another five minutes and then allow spinach to cool.

4.      Take Green pepper, cut in a circular motion along top, pull off top and gut out the seeds from the inside.

5.      Take spinach mix and stuff each pepper with it.  Once peppers are stuffed completely to the top, it is ready to be served.

This is a quick and easy meal to make. This meal is not meant to be eaten with fork. Eat the pepper with the spinach by biting into it like you would an apple and guess what; pretty tasty.

Great meal idea for non-meat eating people because the cheese gives it the protein that the body often craves.  Also could be a nice starter or side dish for a dinner party. Will go great with a nice glass of water with lemon in it;
 
 
the perfect drink for any food table.
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sesame Ginger Quinoa with Shrimp


Another day brings another moment to try new food ideas and recipes.

Quinoa is the thing we have been trying the most, adding new things to it and testing out different ways of cooking it, just to see how it might ignite the taste buds. One thing I found with quinoa is that I don’t ever run for seconds with it. One serving is enough and satiates the hunger which is a good thing. It satisfies hunger and you do not have to overeat to get the same results of satiety. Who would have thought that a grain could do that?

Today, I decided to try it with shrimp and to add fresh ginger and soy sauce to it. I am avoiding adding salt because I believe that there are more clever ways to flavor up food like using spices and herbs to make a food delicious; especially since high blood pressure is such a hot topic in health news.  Perhaps trying to lessen salt intake is not such a bad thing. I mean when you think about it, no matter what it is that we eat, whether it is a salty food or not, it has sodium in it.  Next time you decide to have a sweet food item, look at the label and you might be surprised. 

For the meal I decided to make, Shrimp has natural salt from the sea and soy sauce has salt in it. So my sodium was covered. I also added some fresh garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper, and tomato to it and what we got was a delicious meal to have that did not require much work or time to prepare.  

Sesame Ginger Quinoa with Shrimp
 
 

Serving Size 1

Preparation time 45 minutes

Calories per serving 453

 

Ingredients

1/3 Cup Organic Whole Grain Quinoa

1 Tbsp Organic Soy Ginger Sauce

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Fresh Ginger Root Grated

2/3 Cup or About Eight White Cooked Shrimps – peeled, Deveined

½ Cup Fresh Red Pepper

1 Garlic Clove

2 Tomato Slices

1 Tsp Organic Sesame Seeds
 

Instructions

1.    Place shrimp in a small bowl with water and allow to sit for about five minutes to defrost

2.    Take a medium sized pot and fill it up with 1 1/2 cups of water. Add olive oil and soy sauce to water and place it over a medium fire.

3.    Remove water from shrimp, pull off tails and place shrimp in the pot of heating water along with ginger, garlic, tomato, red pepper and sesame seeds.

4.    Bring water to a boil and add quinoa and let it cook until water dries out and quinoa is soft.

5.    Take from the fire and allow to cool for about five minutes.

 

This recipe should take approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Pairs well with a cup of green or herbal tea.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Strawberry Mint and Mussel Salad


Every now and then, a nice salad at home is not a bad thing to have for lunch or for dinner. How about getting a little fancy with it?

You do not have to add a whole bunch of things to your salad for it to be a delicious one. Perhaps it would not be bad to just spice it up to make it exotic. Here is a salad idea to try at home. The idea came to me especially this week when I saw that Mussels were on sale at Shop Rite for under $3.00. Sale items at a supermarket are always a plus when determining what my next meal is going to be. What a perfect time to purchase and cook a food that is truly enjoyable.

The following recipe is for Strawberry Mint and Mussel Salad.
 
 

Serving Size 1

Preparation Time 15 minutes

Calories 451

Ingredients

1 Cup Organic Baby Spinach

2 Basil leaves

1 slice of Avocado

3 Strawberries

1 Box Pier 33 Gourmet Mussels in Tomato and Garlic Sauce

1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Instructions

1.    Take half the box of Mussels and place in a pot to heat for about twelve minutes

2.    Add one cup of spinach in large dinner plate.

3.    Add 2 basil leaves

4.    Cut up slice of avocado and add to salad.

5.    Take strawberries and cut them into smaller pieces and add.

6.    Sprinkle vinegar and olive oil over salad

7.    Take mussels from fire and add to salad.  Your meal is ready to eat. Pairs well with white wine.
This meal idea would be nice for a solo dinner, for a date where you are the one cooking or even for a dinner party. This meal would definitely appeal to seafood lovers. It is quick to make and delicious.

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Heart Healthy Breakfast: Oatmeal

The morning is the moment in your day when you prepare yourself to start on the path for greatness. It is no surprise that in that same time frame, we shower ourselves awake for a busy day of multitasking, and start by eating the most important meal of the day; breakfast.
 

Well here is a breakfast idea.  How about some good old fashion oatmeal? If that idea itself leaves a smile that feels forced on your face, let me help this healthy breakfast option grow with love and intuition in your heart.
 

When health failed to matter, eating healthy never seemed to leave a heavy footprint in our minds. The thoughts about healthier options were short lived and it was never of importance to be up to speed on the issue of our own health.
 

But then when health become a matter of the world, it almost seems as if to talk about eating healthy was like being fluent in love’s fine and beautiful linguistics. Perhaps it is because health should matter.


If we do not care about our own bodies, we alone will absorb the impact of not caring. We always have a choice in life to either be ready to take action and do what is right to live a long, healthy life or to fall away from the punch, not care and create a heart full of pain for our family and friends around us watching us bask in misery for not trying to make the difference in our own lives.


Perhaps you are not the type who will have a cup full of raspberry green tea in the morning. Or maybe you never thought about pushing the limit a little bit by working out and doing something that your body deserves. There is nothing wrong with being content with just who you are if you are okay with sitting back and allowing fatty, unhealthy foods to have control of your life. I mean, who wants to be on constant alert of what we are eating because of doctor’s orders. But then again, there is nothing wrong with having an iota of understanding to be more cautious of what we put into our bodies.


From the point of contact of the morning star and while you are getting ready to experience the world, say, “I love you madly” to your body with a nice bowl of oatmeal. Making it on the stove is not so bad, but neither is the instant kind. Quaker instant oatmeal has so many different flavors to choose from; more than you would even imagine from cinnamon swirl to raisin, dates and almonds.


 

 
If oatmeal seems a little boring to you, why not add your favorite fruits to it.  How about a high in fiber banana? Or maybe you can cut a slice of pineapple and add it. Or how about some berries?
 


Adding blueberries and raspberries might not be so bad.  The berries will not only give the cholesterol-lowering food flavor, but the anti-oxidants will also free radicals from your body. And, oatmeal is very filling and will keep you full longer than that meat lover’s omelet and home fries platter that you are dying to have.
 

The truth is hidden in plain sight of what the better meal to have is. Why not go with oatmeal?


Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been employed by or am being compensated for including the Quaker brand into my blogpost.This is a post based on opinion with some facts included in it. I am however, someone who has been able to get a grasp on this whole eating thing, who knows how to eat healthy, live a balanced life and also knows how to lose weight. This blogpost was written based on my own life experiences with hopes that perhaps I can help to benefit someone else's life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinner Idea: Greek Inspired Breadless Pizza

A few weeks ago, I had a craving for pizza but decided against it because of this crazy new lifestyle that I had recently started.

Since August, I have not had any bread. Pizza is made with bread which is not so bad to have if I wanted since it is not an everyday thing. Browsing through Pinterest, I came across an idea to have breadless pizza.  As a substitute for the bread, they used zucchini. Sounded delicious to me.

I am so into vegetables nowadays and have been shopping at the organic store a lot lately. So I got a zucchini from my local organic store and decided to try it but with a Grecian twist.

Greek Inspired Breadless Pizza
 

Serving Size 2

Preparation time 30 minutes

Calories per serving 122

 

Ingredients

1 large Zucchini

1 large Tomato

4 tbsp Black Pearl jalapeno Slice Ripe olives

½ cup canned sliced mushrooms

¼ cup of Athenos Basil and dried tomato Feta Cheese

 

Instructions

1.    Take the zucchini, cut off both edges and then cut the zucchini in half, long ways and place it in a medium baking pan.

2.    Slice the tomato and layer the slices across each half of the zucchini.

3.    Add a layer of the olives on top of the tomatoes and then add another layer of mushrooms.

4.    Sprinkle on a top layer of feta cheese.

5.    Place the content of the baking pan into the oven at 425 degrees and allow to get hot which can equate to about 15/20 minutes

6.    Take out of the oven and allow it to cool.

This is a quick and easy meal to make. Has a nice taste and is a low calrie dish. A bowl of salad would be a nice side to go with it. Pairs well with a glass of wine.

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