Eggplant Rollatini with Sausage

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It’s tough eating healthy during the holidays. I know that I for one had 3 Thanksgiving dinners over the course of the past weekend alone and more wine than I care to remember. But we all slip up, and we should during the holidays. It’s not a time to stress out over food and weight, it’s a time to enjoy spending time with people that you care about. But if you don’t want to completely fall off track, I’ll be sharing some of the recipes that I’ll be cooking up to stay healthy during the week.

For one, there won’t be any salads. It’s cold in Boston and the last thing I want to eat is a cold salad. That’s just doesn’t appeal to me, sometimes even during the summer months it doesn’t either. I’m just not a salad person. So last night’s meal was cheesy, and full of vegetables and protein!
Eggplant rollatini with sausage
Serves 4
Per serving:
Calories: 344
Carbs: 27
Protein: 21
Fat: 19
Ingredients:
1 16oz container of Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
2 Eggplants thinly sliced the long way
1 egg
1/2 pound of Sweet Italian Sausage (can also use chicken sausage for a low fat version)
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Parsley
10 oz of Partly Skim Mozzarella Cheese
2 cups Hearty Marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 tbsp garlic
Directions:
Cook sausage until all the way browned and set aside.
Pre-heat over to 400 degrees
Grease cookie sheet and lay out sliced eggplant, once oven is preheated, bake Eggplant for 10 minutes or until softened.
Grease baking dish and coat bottom with 1 cup of the marinara sauce.
While the eggplant is in the oven mix together the ricotta cheese, 8 oz of the mozzarella, basil, parsley, egg and cooked sausage.
Remove eggplant, once it’s cool enough to touch, add 1.5 tbsp of the ricotta mixture to middle of eggplant and roll up the short side, place in baking dish. Top with the rest of marinara and mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 15 minutes.
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The Whole 30 Week 1

With week one under my belt I can definitely tell that my stomach has been so much better (aka less burps) . It’s hard to say energy wise how I’m doing since I just added a second job on top of a full time job and training for a marathon. But I have no cravings for any of the off limit foods and I think it’s because I’ve had good meals to look forward to.

Week 1 meal plan was the following:

Breakfast- Spaghetti squash quiche

Lunch- Chicken tenders with roasted potatoes and broccoli

Dinner- Sweet potato chili

 

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This was probably my favorite of the week. I didn’t even miss the cheese that I would usually put in an egg-y dish!

1 spaghetti squash

6 whole eggs

Mixings of your choosing: I used 5 slices of bacon, mushrooms and spinach

Bake spaghetti squash at 350 for 40 min, remove and leg cool. Once cooled use fork to remove the squash from shell. Take a 9 in greased pie pan and smoosh the squash to the sides of the pan so it creates a “crust.” Place chopped mixings into the crust

In a separate bowl whisk together the 6 eggs. Pour over the mixings in the crust and then bake for about 40 min or until egg has settled.

About 5 servings

 

Chicken tenders

These were super tasty, but I think next time I’ll pan fry them and then stick them in the oven for a little bit too.

IMG_19941 lb chicken tenders

1 egg

1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk or other nondairy milk of your choosing

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

 

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together the egg and unsweetened coconut milk.

In a second bowl combine the coconut flour, garlic powder and salt.

Dredge the chicken in the egg mixture and coat with the coconut flour mixture. Lightly fry in a pan with coconut oil until cooked all the way through.

 

Sweet Potato Chili

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I was skeptical of this meal because I’m so used to traditional bean chili topped with cheese. But this was delicious all on its own. When shopping for the ingredients for this recipe though, make sure you’re reading labels to make sure you’re not buying anything with added sugar to it.

1 onion (chopped)

1 15oz can tomato sauce IMG_1992

1 15 oz can diced tomato

1 can water

1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 lb ground beef

1 1/2 tbsp cocao powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in crock pot, breaking up beef before putting it in. Cook and low for 8-10 hours. Enjoy!

The Whole 30

Last year I tried the Isagenix 30 day cleanse and that helped me shed a lot of weight and get me back on track in 2015 when it came to my health and fitness goals. I mananged to lose and keep off 15 pounds, run two 5ks, a 10k, 3 half marathons and 2 sprint distance triathlons. But my body hasn’t completely healed from the hell I put it through when I decided to participate in a bikini competition 3 years ago and fell back down the rabbit hole of eating disorders.

in 2014 I landed in the emergency room with horrible stomach pains and vomiting blood. Turns out at the rip old age of 26 I had a stomach ulcer, which is not unheard of, but not very common apparently for someone my age. My stomach has never been the same. When I eat certain things like the fake sugar alcohols found in a lot of protein bars, or when I get incredibly stressed out I get these horrible, sounds like I’m going to throw up burps.
I knew that I had to do something about this if I really wanted to ever be in my best health. So this year, without having to go through a battery of tests, I decided to cut all the things that might be irritating my stomach. That’s where the Whole 30 comes in.
The Whole 30 isn’t a cleanse or a diet. It’s basically a stripping of your normal diet in order to reset your metabolism and negative effects certain foods have on your system. You don’t eat small amounts of feed, there are no shakes, it’s simply cutting things out. In short, no grains (bread, pasta, rice, quinoa etc.), no dairy, sugar and no legumes. After the 30 days of cutting these foods out, I am going to slowly add them back in to see what effects my stomach. Starting with dairy, because I really don’t want to live the rest of my life without cheese!!!!
So what am I eating to keep my energy up while training for a marathon? Lots of potatoes and squash. Before I even decided to commit to this I did a lot of research and planned out my 30 days of meals. I’m a creature of habit so I can eat the same things throughout the week without getting sick of it as long as I change it up the next week and on the weekends getting creative with eating out yet still sticking to the Whole 30.
Here’s what it looks like:
Week 1:

Breakfast: Spaghetti Squash Quiche
Lunch: Slow cooker Sweet Potato Chili
Dinner: Chicken tenders, roasted potatoes and broccoli
Week 2: 
 
Breakfast:  Southwest Breakfast Casserole
Lunch: Spaghetti Squash and meatballs (slow cooker)
Dinner: Chicken stir fry
Week 3: 
Breakfast: Sausage and sweet potato hash
Lunch: Slow cooker BBQ chicken on a bake potato
Dinner:  Butternut squash soup, burger and green vegetable
Week 4: 
 
Breakfast: Sausage and egg breakfast bites
Lunch: Paleo Meat Loaf, roasted potatoes and veg
Dinner: Slow cooker chicken fajitas with avocado
Snacks: Fruits like apples, celmentines, and bananas. Different nuts and almond butter!
Stay tuned for some of these recipes coming up in the next few weeks!

Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup

I have been dying to get a crock pot for almost a year, just never got around to picking one up while I’m at the store. I won’t lie, I’m disappointed with myself, that I didn’t get one sooner!! My dad finally gave me one for Christmas and I have been having a blast cooking things up! Last week I made chicken enchilada soup and it was not only delicious, but super easy! Cut my meal prep time in half!!!

This soup is perfect for those cold winter days that are finally starting to come around to warm you up and stay healthy!!!

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Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

1.5 cups vegetable broth

1 14oz can of diced tomatos

1 14oz can of red enchilada sauce

1 can corn

1 can of drained, rinsed black beans

Optional toppings: tortilla chips, cheese, avocado

  1. Place all ingredients in crock pot and set on low for 8 hours
  2. Use spoon to break up chicken breast (mine was so tender it just shredded itself  when I stirred it)
  3. Serve and add any additional toppings.

 

Told you that was super easy!!!! If you want to it to be gluten free, find gluten free tortilla chips and make sure you find a gluten free enchilada sauce! Enjoy!!

What is IIFYM?!

Let’s talk food and what you eat. In my last post we talked about Meal Prepping and how to make it simple and more beneficial for your life style. But how do you choose WHAT to eat? That’s probably the biggest question I get from clients.

I’m a believer in the If It Fits Your Macros school of thought. No, this is not all about eating doughnuts and junk all the time and saying “This is good for you!” I like to eat healthy foods, but not ones that are plain and boring. So I often mix it up to keep myself from getting bored and off track, it’s also a great way to keep with your goals and still live your life.

So first, WHAT are macros?

Macros is short for macronutrients, our major nutrients found in foods. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

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One gram of carbs contains 4 calories

One gram of protein contains 4 calories

One gram of fat contains 9 calories

Why are these so important?

Each macronutrient plays a different role in our bodies which is why it’s SO important to make sure you get a balanced diet and you don’t leave one out.

Carbohydrates. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs.

Proteins are essential for growth and development. They help build lean muscle mass, and are the energy source when you do not intake carbohydrates. In short, if you cut out carbohydrates, you must use protein for energy which means breaking down your muscles and essentially slowing down your metabolism.

Fats help protect our vital organs, help us absorb fat soluble vitamins and provide us with a high density energy source. There are three types of fats (saturated, unsaturated and trans fat). No trans fat does not equal weight loss. It just simply has been shown that unsaturated fat decreases the risk for heart disease.

How do I figure how much of each I should consume?macronutrients

It’s all about trial and error. Every body is different based on how often they work out, if they have a damaged metabolism from long bouts of dieting, and personal goals such as putting on muscle or losing weight. You can figure out your numbers through an online calculator but those are not going to take these types of things into account.

Having an actual HUMAN help guide you and adjust your macros accordingly as
your body changes is going to be better than any calculator you find online. Once, the numbers are figured out then you can use a food calculator to track your foods and make sure you’re hitting your numbers.

So you’re saying I can eat whatever I want as long as I hit my numbers?

Yes. And no. I will never tell anyone to eat crap all day and say it’s okay. There are still essential vitamins and minerals that you get from whole foods and not from processed foods. But under IIFYM, you can treat your self occasionally and not feel guilty. There is also a difference between having high glycemic index carbs (processed foods) and low glycemic index carbs (whole foods like brown rice, quinoa and potatoes). But that’s another post in itself.

What does this mean?

It’s possible to not have to “diet” to get the body you want. You don’t have to starve, deprive or go crazy trying to slim down.

If you want more help figure all this out, check out my different work out and nutrition plans  I offer.

How running helped me overcome my eating disorder

Eating disorders are a subject that people often dance around, too afraid to talk about. I used to be one of those people, because I was always too afraid to admit that I was sick. I never thought that I had one because I was never “sick looking” enough. I never toed that dangerous line of extreme emaciation, but inside I was a complete mess.
 It’s no secret that eating disorders mostly effect women (but I know there are men image1out there that do struggle with them as well), but when it comes to athletes, the chances increase because so much is focused on our bodies and how they perform. More often than not that thoughts “If I just lose a few more pounds I’ll be faster, more agile, jump higher….” etc. I know I constantly had those thoughts as a competitive cheerleader and a dancer, where image was everything. As I got older, I decided to try out bikini competitions, another sport where everything focused on your image. I started working out harder to feed this disease that was eating at me from the inside out. I battled with anorexia and bulimia for 14 years before I decided enough was enough.
image2These past two years I have slowly overcome something I’ve battled with for half my life. I’ve stopped focusing on whats in the mirror and more on what my body can do. This past year I’ve really focused on training for a half marathon and sprint distance triathlons. Running, swimming and biking have given my life back to me. I’m no longer focusing on how little I can eat but what I can do, and if I don’t fuel properly I’m not going to do well.
 I remember one particularly bad run I had this past year, I didn’t eat enough the two days prior and I set out for a 9 mile long distance run. About mile 3, I hit a wall. My legs didn’t want to move anymore, my heart was racing and my eye sight became fuzzy. That’s when I realized I couldn’t let myself go down that path again. I suddenly had this hunger to do well, and not just burn off calories. I started to track my work outs as opposed to my food and focused on seeing those numbers improve while still eating over 1000 calories and not scrutinizing every little bite. I love seeing number average times on runs and swims decrease and my body adapt to my training.
I won’t say that I’m fully recovered. There are some days where I have to fight the urge to binge and purge or not eat at all to make up for a bad weekend. But everyday I’m fighting to nurture my body and gain my inner strength through my sport.

Ditching the scale!

IMG_0907For the most part of my life I have been a slave to the scale, it doesn’t help that I grew a dancer and a cheerleader where being tiny was praised and any extra ounce was frowned upon. Before I actually knew anything about fitness, I mostly controlled what I ate so that I wouldn’t gain any weight. Some times I would do some crunches and leg lifts in my room (seriously, I knew nothing about fitness in high school) or run around the block a couple times. I didn’t even really eat healthy, mostly just tried to keep my calories low, low, low to the point where I would black out during practice and would skip any family meals in order to avoid over eating. I definitely had a bad relationship with food, my body and the mirror.

unnamed (1)This past couple of months, I have decided to ditch the scale and my fitness pal and
focus on athletic abilities instead. Yes, I still want to feel good and look good and I still eat fairly healthy (with treats in moderation) but finding a sport I enjoy has made a huge difference. I feel better about my body and how I look because I know how hard I can push myself, how much I’ve improved over these months. Those numbers have become more important to me than the arbitrary number on the scale.
Keeping myself busy has also helped me not concentrate on the scale. I’ve filled my days with training, work and living life that doesn’t revolve around fitness like enjoying the city I live and and traveling without guilt. It’s really helped on the handling of my sanity. I can take a break from the plan do things like go to the zoo (I love all the animals!!!) or sleep in late my boyfriend.
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 I no longer weigh myself 50 times a day or worry about ever morsel I put into my mouth. I don’t have a goal weight that I’m aiming towards, I know that my body will eventually reflect that effort that I’m putting in. I’m also taking care of myself more, no more low calorie diets, I’m fueling my body for my work outs so that I can make it through them and do the best that I’m capable of.
So please join me in trashing the scale and loving your body for what it can do not what you see in the mirror!

True Life: I gave up pizza for a month

Normally, I detest the words, cleanse, detox and diet and don’t encourage my clients  or anyone for that matter  to do any of them. I have had bad enough experiences with them on my own to know, you know it’s just not for everyone and not always the best idea. As many of you know I went on a strict diet to prep for my bikini competition, which was almost 2 years ago and that left me in the hands of a horrible rebound where I went from about 110 lbs to 140 lbs. All of which I have struggled to take off in these past 2 years.

At one point in time I was talked into trying an un-named 24 day cleanse, which involved various shakes, powders and pills. In the second portion of the cleanse it involved taking a packet of about about 6 pills at each meal, and after all the damage I have done to my stomach, I couldn’t even finish the 24 days because the packets made me ill. A promoter tried to convince me to sell this product, but I can’t really back something that I can’t even take myself.
But after hibernating this past winter and adding on to the previous weight gain, I unnamedwas getting desperate. Rob had done the Isagenix 30 day (gasp) cleanse before, so decided that I would give it a try and we should go at it together. After doing some research on it, I learned that it involved taking 2 meal replacement shakes a day, having one healthy meal and only a couple of pills and supplements. For the first two weeks, two of those days are “Cleanse” days and you don’t eat, you take various vitamins and supplements to keep your energy up but that’s it. The idea behind it is, to get your body used to eating less calories (not ordering two large pizzas and downing them in one sitting…yes we did that). I looked into that was in the supplements and it didn’t seem that bad, no caffeine (which I can’t have because of my ulcer last year) and the ingredients were mostly natural and high quality. So I decided to give it shot even though it goes against what I usually believe in.
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We started on April 8th, and as you have guessed since I’m posting this on May 8th, I survived the 30 days without any cheats. No pizza, no wine, no sweets and I feel pretty darn good. Now the part I know you’re waiting for…how much did I lose? Yes, I lost weight, 12 pounds to be exact. But more importantly, I feel like this was a good kick start to get me back on that healthy path again that I used to be on. I started training MORE and didn’t slack off at all, I found healthy recipes to try to out and I want to continue with this, with a few cheat meals (not cheat DAY) here and there. Get ready for some of my creations!!
I know it might now be for everyone, but if you feel like you absolutely need SOMETHING, then I suggest trying this out. However, beware, while you might lose a lot of weight in those 30 days, you can’t go back to how you were and expect to keep that weight off. You need to have an exit plan and that’s exactly what I created for post cleanse. I am going to reverse diet, aka slowly increase my calorie intake so that I don’t gain weight again and my metabolism can readjust. I still would like to lose a little bit more weight, but I know it’s not realistic to stay so low calorie for so long and not go crazy!!!
PS. You better BELIEVE I am getting pizza as my first cheat meal. SO excited.

Body Weight Circuit

In my last post I talked about how to travel without disembarking from your fitness goals. Well, there are also some days you just don’t feel like working out and you need tell yourself that you will at least try to do 10 minutes. If you can’t make it to the gym or you’re on the road and don’t like running or hiking, try this quick 10 minute circuit that can be done anywhere:

Fat-Burning Circuit: Perform each exercise for 45 sec and rest for 15 sec in between each one. Repeat 2x
A1: Air Squats
A2: Push Ups
A3: Squat Jumps
A4: Plank
A5: Burpees
Now, wasn’t that fun?

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Traveling, fitness and nutrition

Traveling doesn’t mean that you have to lose sight of your fitness goals.

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I’ve run in a lot of really cool places, the beaches of Puerto Rico, the streets of London, wooded trails in North Carolina and many more. I’ve hiked and walked in some great places, too. As a matter of fact, when I travel – my workouts are always pretty interesting. Traveling does bring some challenges because it also forces you to make changes to your normal routine but those changes can actually be really great for your fitness goals. Why? Because it reminds you that fitness can be fun!

Fitness on the go doesn’t have to be stressful or as carefully planned during our every day lives. Plan your work outs into your vacation so that you can really SEE the place you’re in. It can be as easy at putting on your sneakers and exploring or it can take a bit of planning; here are some of ways to fit workouts into your vacation and make them fun:

  1. Check a map before you go. Know where you’re going to be so that you can plan your walks or workouts ahead. It will also help you plan your day, knowing how long your walk/run will be.
  2. Check your location for studios – I love hopping into a local yoga class while I’m away
  3. Ask the concierge. There’s always a fitness-buff on staff, they’ll point you in his/her direction
  4. Check out the hotel gym, come up with a creative circuit of exercises that are certain to make you sweat. Do it twice.
  5. If you’re somewhere warm – SWIM.  Need I say more?
  6. Take advantage the landscape around you.  Run hills, hike in the woods, walk on the beach. Enjoy your surroundings with the person/people you’ve traveled with!

Nutrition might be a little bit trickier, you’re not always preparing your own food and vacation is generally a time to indulge! I’m not discouraging eating out or having a few drinks, but try not to binge every meal! Here are some tips to eating while traveling:

Plan:

-Research restaurants and grocery stores

-Use apps like “Healthy Out” to find healthy options

-Find a hotel room with a kitchenette to make simple meals

Pack Smart:

-Pack snacks like dried fruit, nuts, protein powder and homemade bars

-Pack supplements like vitamins and fish oil

-Pack work out clothes!

Drink Plenty of Water:

-This will help keep you full and curb your appetite