Blueberry Protein Muffins

Not feeling summer ready yet?  I am sure the recent long weekend full of drinking beer and BBQ hopping did not Blueberry Protein Muffinshelp.  I definitely took a couple of steps back this weekend but I find that having food prepared ahead of time allows me to get back on track quickly.  Otherwise I will fall into the “I am still hungover from the weekend and too tired to cook food so I’ll just get a bagel, oh and since I got a bagel this morning I might as well get takeout for lunch because I already started my day off on the wrong foot” routine.  Anyways, my point is that muffins are easy to take on the go and I have a new “healthified” recipe so I am sharing it.  I have been on a blueberry kick lately and am thrilled that I finally figured out how to bake healthy muffins that don’t taste dry!  These are only 60 calories per muffin and super low in fat.  Exact nutrition per muffin includes 1g Fat, 8g Carbs, 5g Protein.  So a couple of these are a perfect snack on the go…because I can’t just eat one 😉

You will need:

1/2 banana

1 egg, 2 whites

3/4 cup oat flour (blend oats until they are flour consistency)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (I use Dannon Light&Fit)

Dash of baking soda

Dash of cinnamon

1/2 cup blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven 350F

Blend wet ingredients then mix with dry to make batter– don’t add blueberries yet

Spray muffin pan and fill each slot 2/3

Add blueberries on top

Bake for 12 mins

The batch makes 11 muffins.  And no I don’t like that it makes an odd number either.

Enjoy!

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Black Bean Chocolate Protein Brownies

When I posted this photo of these brownies a couple of months ago I got a lot of requests for the recipe and have been meaning to share.  Anyways, two months later here it is!  I have tried a lot of different “black bean brownie” recipes and it seriously took me months to finally get it right.  Believe it or not these are just as good, if not better, after being refrigerated for several hours!  These actually have the consistency of brownies and a true chocolatey flavor!  This also uses minimal ingredients which is always ideal for me.  If a recipe has too many components I am bound to mess it up 🙂  These may be a fun weekend experiment if you are trying to stay on track through the Easter holidays and want to still get your chocolate fix without devouring 50 cadbury eggs!  Here is what you need:

1 can black beans

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

3 tbs dark chocolate chips

2 tbs Peanutbutter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams

3 packets Stevia

Directions:

Preheat oven 350F

Drain beans and fill can halfway with water then blend

Pour mixture in mixing bowl and add protein powder, chocolate chips, and stevia

Mix well and pour into small baking pan

Bake for 20-25 minutes

Cool for 5 minutes and then top with Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanutbutter as frosting.

Also make sure to refrigerate for at least a few hours after making them so that the flavors blend.  While you can barely tastes the beans to begin with, the longer they refrigerate the less beany/more chocolately they taste!  I usually will refrigerate overnight.

This makes 8 servings

Nutrition per serving: 115 calories, 3.6g fat/ 14.5g carbohydrates/ 8g protein.

Enjoy!

Bikini Competition Prep, What I Have Learned So Far.

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So as a lot of you may know at this point, I have decided to compete in a bodybuilding show.  No, I am not trying to transform myself into Hulk Hogan.  I am competing in the bikini division.  Give “bikini competitor” a Google if you don’t know what that means.  I have always been focused on being healthy and took the next step to change my lifestyle about a year ago.  As I started to really change my diet and pick up those heavy weights, I noticed a big difference in how I looked and felt.  I decided I really wanted a challenge and to see just how far I could push myself.  I made the decision last summer that I wanted to compete.  And after several months of building muscle, here I am, half way through my contest prep diet.  So, here are a few things I have learned throughout this whole process:

1. It is a lot easier said than done to have a balanced social life while on contest prep.

It just is.  I can’t drink and it is really difficult to go out to dinner if the restaurant does not provide nutritional information.  Even if the restaurant does provide nutritional information, there is a good chance that the information is not 100% accurate.  I am sorry but if I am spending thousands of dollars (yes thousands) to bring my best package to the stage there is a good chance that I am going to do everything that I can to make sure my diet is on point.  Yes, there is the possibility of me taking my tupperware container to the restaurant but I have to admit I feel slightly rude doing that.  And let’s backtrack to the part when I said I can’t drink.  This is probably the most difficult part of prep for me.  And I say that in full confidence that I am not an alcoholic.  I am however, a 25 year old woman who enjoys a night out with her friends in the city every once and a while, or a wine night here and there.  But can’t I still have fun going out to the bar and not drinking? Yes, sometimes, but when you workout at 5am everyday it’s hard to put on your “turnt up” face on a Saturday night as you wait for last call.  I will say, if I ever decide to compete again, this is an area that I certainly need to work on.

2.  Not everyone will understand what you’re doing, or why you are doing it, and that is perfectly okay.

I try to avoid explaining why I am not drinking or why I am avoiding the cookies in the office as much as I can but I am truly bad at lying.  So I have had to explain to a lot of people that I am on a contest prep blah blah blah and there are two common reactions I have received. First, “wow that’s awesome good luck”.  Second , “so, you can’t just have one cookie? one drink?”.  I used to get super frustrated with response number two.  I quickly realized that they aren’t trying to bring me down and that they probably just realize that I do in fact want that glass of wine and they just really wish I could have one with them.  I am still learning all the ins and out of prepping for a bikini competition, so why should I expect that others understand what I am even doing?  I have received a ton of positive feedback throughout this entire journey from family and friends and I know they want nothing but the best for me.  I’ve concluded that my lower carb intake bitch is just taking over from time to time and it will eventually pass. 🙂

3.  It is important to engage with other competitors or people within the industry.

A lot of competitors will work with a local coach, be a part of a local team and have teammates by their side throughout their entire prep journey.  I on the other hand am working with an online coach who is located out of the state.  Now, I wouldn’t change my coach for anything but I realized quickly that this meant I would really have to go the extra mile to do a little extra research in finding out what the right show was for me and getting additional in person posing help.  More importantly, I feel like having people that you can connect with about the process is really important.  This really goes back to my first and second points listed above.  Not everyone is going to fully understand what you are going through, and that is okay.  In fact, even your fellow competitors will most likely have a totally different prep journey than you.  However, despite the slight differences in your diet and exercise leading up to the show, you’re all reaching for similar goals and will most likely all be spending more Saturday nights in chugging BCAAs and protein shakes.  At least if you choose to spend most of your weekends in you’re going to want someone to bond with over your mutual grandma-ness.  It is also important to point out that this prep feels like a second full time job (a very expensive second job), so I can’t help but talk about it more than I would like.  I am sure people are sick of hearing me talk about food and the gym which is why having others in the same boat to vent to that can directly relate makes things a little easier.  This is actually part of the reason that I started to blog, so that I had a platform where I could share all of my thoughts throughout my fitness journey and whoever wanted to read it can and those who don’t care don’t have to read it!  My last point here is that you may actually learn something from speaking to someone else.  There are A LOT of opinions out there when it comes to bodybuilding, dieting, what to eat, what not to eat, and you may not agree with everyone but you can gain some valuable knowledge by talking to people that have either competed in the past or are involved with the industry somehow.

Now, if you’re still reading this then I am thoroughly impressed.  I’ll be sure to follow up after my show in 5 weeks to give a full reflection of the experience.  My opinions that I stated above may even completely change by the end of this week 🙂  That’s just what this prep has done to my brain!

5 “Healthified” Superbowl Sunday Appetizers

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Will you be attending a Superbowl party February 1st?  If so, you are most likely going to encounter a lot of yummy snacks and drinks.  Wings, chips, nachos, pizza, beer, you name it.  I bet these foods aren’t a part of your New Year’s resolution diet.  With that said, if you are feeling like you are finally getting on track after the holidays and don’t want to destroy your progress in one day, don’t panic.  There are many ways to create healthier versions of your favorite football snacks to avoid “inflating” that waistline.  Below I have shared 5 healthy recipes for my favorite football appetizers.

1. Baked Buffalo Tenders

Ingredients:

Boneless skinless chicken breast(1-2 breasts cut into tenders)

Whole wheat bread crumbs

4 Egg whites

Franks buffalo sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven at 350F

Cut chicken into thin slices

Dip tenders into egg whites and then coat in breadcrumbs

Place tenders in nonstick baking pan/sheet

Coat tenders with Franks Buffalo Sauce

Bake tenders for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

I like to enjoy with a side of Bolthouse Blue Cheese Yogurt dressing!

2. Zucchini Nachos

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini

2/3 cup fat free shredded mozzarella

1/ cup black beans

2 tbs salsa

1/2 avocadoFullSizeRender (1)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400

Cut zucchini into very thin wheels

Spray cooking sheet with non stick and spread zucchini evenly

Bake zucchini in over for 10 minutes

Remove tray, flip zucchini, add cheese, and place back in over for 10 minutes, add cheese for the last few minutes

Add beans, salsa, and avocado

3. Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use shredded chicken)

8 oz low fat cream cheese

1/2 cup Bolthouse ranch dressing

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot buffalo sauce (or Texas Pete hot sauce)

1/2 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese

BuffChickDip

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix all of the ingredients into medium baking dish

Bake for 20 minutes

I like to serve with celery or Blue Corn Chips!

 4. Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato

1 tbs olive oil

Garlic powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 415F

Peel and slice potato into 1/2 inch strips

Toss potato in salad bowl with olive oil and garlic powder (add salt and pepper if wanted)

Spread potato evenly onto baking sheet

Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping fries 1/2 way through.

5. Turkey Chili

Ingredients:FullSizeRender

Extra lean ground turkey (1lb)

Red Kidney Beans (1 can)

Chili Mix (I use Old El Paso or McCormicks)

Diced tomatoes (I use 1 can Del Monte with zesty green chiles)

Dash of chopped onion and jalapenos

Tomato paste (1/2 small can)

Directions:

Cook ground turkey in large skillet

Once cooked, drain skillet and add 1/2 cup water

Add chili mix and stir

Add beans, diced tomatoes, chopped onion and jalapenos, and tomato paste

Mix and let sit on low for 5-10 minutes

This makes about 5-6 servings!

Wishing you all a happy Superbowl Sunday and let’s go Patriots!

5 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is the Most Challenging Holiday for People Working Towards Fitness Goals

Okay so as I was brainstorming things to write about that relate to this upcoming holiday I initially thought I would post several healthy appetizer recipes.  I realized quickly that I have never actually contributed to Thanksgiving cooking.  My parents have always hosted and my mom has it covered, and she has it well covered.  There is no reason for me to mess with her system.  Instead I thought I would reflect on why this holiday is so challenging for those trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

 

1. The Obvious

The whole purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks and the way we celebrate is by EATING.  Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, casserole, desserts galore.  You are surrounded by delicious food all day.  Some of us are required to partake in multiple Thanksgiving dinners in order to make sure you celebrate with the extension of your family.  If this is the case, well you can’t be rude and not eat at location number two, right?  Now, you can plan ahead here so that you don’t go overboard with the food, however, that rarely seems to work out.

 

2. Booze, Part 1

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving is not only celebrated with food, but also with booze.  Lots of booze.  If you are a young adult, you are most likely getting a head start with the drinking on Thanksgiving eve.  You will get together with your hometown friends, catch up, drink, potentially run into people you have not seen since last Thanksgiving eve, and end up drinking more than you initially planned because you are just too awkward to have a mature conversation with your peers without some liquid confidence.  So those 2-3 beers turned into 7-8 and you are already off track before the holiday begins.

 

 

3. Booze, Part 2

Okay so things got a little out of hand last night, it’s Thanksgiving day and it’s a new day.  No big deal you have a fresh start to the day.  You quickly come to the realization that you are no longer 20 years old and hangovers are no joke.  The only thing that could possibly nurse this hangover is a large plate of food, or more booze.  If you were a responsible adult last night then you still have a chance.  You just need to dodge challenge #1 with some portion control, then you are in good shape!  That is, until you remember “that relative” or “those in-laws” that you have to entertain and if only you had a bottle of wine to get you through.  If you don’t have “that relative” or “those in-laws”, but simply a family that likes to celebrate hard, well, you can’t not live up to the family name right?  Okay so maybe you do stay in on Thanksgiving eve, wake up feeling great and get through Thanksgiving day without eating yourself into a food coma.  You are in the clear.  That is, until you remember that your favorite NFL team is playing a big game tonight and you don’t have work tomorrow.  Sure, you can watch the game cozied up on the couch with your tea (which is totally something I would do), or you can respond to your friends text with a “yes I will come over for the Pats game and help you finish your leftover food and drinks”.  After all, aren’t we all thankful for the existence of football?  So realistically, this challenge could easily be broken out to booze part 3 and 4 to round out my 5 reasons.

 

 

So how does one stay on track through this celebratory holiday full of food and drinks?  That is up to you.  It is definitely possible with a little portion control and taking it easy or avoiding booze all together. Perhaps get a workout in that morning, or later that night depending on your gym’s holiday hours.  For me, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I am choosing to enjoy the festivities and all that it entails without putting myself into a food coma.  I’ll give portion control a shot and not really stress about it.  It is one day out of 365 days in a year and I am sure that those potatoes will be great fuel for my Friday squats.  Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, so enjoy the things that make you thankful!  However you choose to express thanks, just do simply that, and do it well.

Stuffed Eggplant Boats

Stuffed eggplant boats= life changing.  Personally, you could probably put cheese and tomatoes on anything and I would love it.  These were super delicious and extremely filling (like most of my meals).  One boat is a meal on its own.  This also did not take long to prep.  Admittedly, I thought it would take forever which is why I have avoided trying to make these for so long.  It probably took me about 10-15 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to cook!

Stuffed Eggplant

 

Ingredients:

1 eggplant

1/2 bell pepper

1 cup mushrooms

4 oz chicken (raw)

1 cup diced tomato

1/2 cup fat free mozzarella

1 tbs garlic

 

Directions:

Half and hallow eggplant

Preheat oven 400F

Cut chicken into 1 or 1/2 inch cubes

Place skillet on medium-high and toss chicken so that it partially cooks

Spread garlic on insides of eggplant

Dice peppers

Place chicken, peppers, mushrooms, tomato, and cheese inside halves

Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until eggplant is soft

 

Other options are to use the extra eggplant with the veggies.  I just decided to mix things up and save the eggplant for a side the next day!

 

Total calories for entire eggplant= 345 calories

2g Fat

36 Carbohydrates

51 Protein

 

Enjoy!

 

Setting Goals and Sticking to Them

October Goals

It is really easy to say that you are going to finish something, or start something, but actually following through with it?  Now that can be the hard part.  I can’t tell you how many times over the past year that I have said  “I need to read more books” yet I have not completed one single book since last summer.  I decided this month that I was going to write down a few of my goals somewhere instead of just talking about them.  Perhaps this approach will keep me more accountable.  We are one week into the month and so far I think this approach has worked for me.  I took my first lunch break out of the office yesterday in probably a month, maybe two.  My food expenses have gone down.  I have spent more of my free time reading (and writing) than staring at a TV screen.  Most importantly, I haven’t been afraid to say “yes”.  I am guilty of being a creature of habit and have fallen into a routine that I would like to break out of a bit.  I may not be able to complete all of these goals this month, but I now have this reminder in my phone to give me that extra push.

 

Whether your goals are short-term, long-term, fitness related or not, I challenge you to write your goals down somewhere.  Even if you have just one small goal, write it down.  If you already have a system that works for you, I challenge you to share it with me!  I would love to hear how others are conquering their goals 🙂