Low Calorie Snacks: My Current Favorites

I’m always on the lookout for new products that come on the grocery stores shelves. Some of these snacks are new and some have made a comeback. When I become obsessed with a new snack I usually eat it everyday until I get sick of it, but if it’s something good I will eventually start buying it again. I’m the type of person that loves to snack. I always make sure I have a variety of healthy snacks available both sweet and salty. I almost always have some sort of bar in my purse at all times. Let me know if you have any questions about the products below!

Veggie Straws: I was introduced to these at my friends bachelorette party in June. Apparently I was late to the game because these bad boys have been around for a long time. With 130 calories per serving (serving size: 38 straws) you’re allowed to sit on your couch with the bag in hand. When I’m craving salt, veggie straws are my go-to. I literally feel like I’m eating potato chips without the guilt. You can find them in your grocery’s chip aisle.

Dole Banana Dippers: These make a great desert! They come in pre-portioned individually wrapped packages with 3 banana slices per pack equaling to 100 calories. J and I love to eat them with a glass of red wine after dinner.

Kind Bars: They now come in a variety of new and awesome flavors such as dark chocolate cinnamon pecan, maple glazed pecan & sea salt, and dark chocolate, nuts & sea salt. I eat them as my mid-day snack before I hit the gym to give me some energy. I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING when I say, they taste SO good that I feel like I’m eating a candy bar. They are also made from all-natural ingredients and super filling.

Vita Tops: I love these for breakfast with my coffee or as a mid-day snack. They are filled with tons of fiber to fill you up and taste AMAZING. I’ve been really into the golden corn and apple crumb flavors. Honestly, all of the flavors are awesome AND they are only 100 calories per muffin top!

July Skinny Tips

Pick and choose your meals wisely- I get it, you like fries. So go ahead and order them, just not at every meal. For an example, if you know you’re going out for a friends birthday dinner (aka pig out) save your calories and order the fries at dinner.

Eat fruit for breakfast- It’s been working for me and I see a difference. I used to have an apple every morning but it’s not really apple season so I’ve switched to bananas. I think of eating fruit for breakfast this way; you’re not eating carbs (as in bread) and it’s zero weight watchers points (not that it matters but it makes me feel better knowing that).

Cut out the coffee creamer– this is something I would normally never give up until I fell in love with the iced americano with sugar free caramel. No need for cream. If you’re trying to lose those stubborn 5lbs try cutting it out, I bet you will see a difference.

Ice Cream Treat- As much as I love my fro-yo I like the save it for an occasional treat. I keep my freezer stocked with weight watchers ice cream bars and skinny cow ice cream cones. It’s perfectly portioned and in the comfort of my own home.

Bring your lunch- I ate out yesterday and I feel bloated and broke.

Zucchini Tots

This looks like a fairly difficult recipe, but trust me it’s not. I was pleasantly surprised with how easy this is to make and how delicious it is too. My friend Marnie found this recipe on Skinny Taste and had my try them. I was inspired to make these tots for my friends and they were a hit!

 Did I mention that my friends and I had breakfast for dinner on Monday night?

It was pretty awesome.

Zucchini Tots 

ingredients:

  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

directions:

Preheat oven to 400°.  Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel (you can also use a food processor).  Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. I made a mistake by adding too much seasoning to the mixture. Remember, you can always add more seasoning but you can’t take it out!

Fill each muffin section to the top, pushing down on the filling with your spoon so it’s nice and compacted so they don’t fall apart when you take them out of the tin.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden.

Use a plastic knife or rubber spatula around the edges of each tot to remove them from the muffin tin.

Enjoy!!

My First Summer BBQ & Easy Entertaining Tips

Last night I hosted my first BBQ this summer! It was so much fun to have my friends over and grill on my balcony. The way I entertain is to have food out and ready for my guests. I like it when they walk in the door and food is waiting for them. I also like to serve a variety of options especially since so many people have dietary restrictions. I can’t wait to have my friends over to BBQ again!

Appetizers:

Shrimp cocktail

chips & guac

hummus & pita chips

pigs in a blanket

For appetizers I like to have a variety of finger foods. I’m a big fan of dips and if you want something healthy make sure you have veggies for dipping.

I highly recommend buying at least one appetizer from Trader Joe’s. They always have something that my guests will enjoy. My rule is that at least one item must be homemade- who wants to eat all store bought appetizers!?

Main Course:

Turkey Burgers

Salmon

My main course is typically a protein of some sort. I ALWAYS get my meat from Whole Foods. Typically I choose what is the freshest or what’s on sale. I like to keep my main courses as simple as possible but with some thought involved. Since I made turkey burgers I made sure to have toppings (lettuce, tomato, & onion) along with a hot toasted bun. Since I don’t eat poultry I also made grilled salmon with a miso glaze.

Sides:

Salad (romaine, corn, pistachios, and dried cranberries)

Cornbread Casserole

Cole Slaw

Roasted Potatoes

Pasta Salad

Grilled Veggies

This is the best part of the entire dinner! My friends are incredible chefs and brought the side dishes below. I like to have at least one type of vegetable, a mixed green salad, a variety of starches (pasta salad & potatoes), and other delicious dishes that can please any crowd.

I absolutely LOVE entertaining and having my friends over for dinner. A lot of people tell me how they can’t cook or they don’t know how to entertain. The hardest part is balancing your time in the kitchen and entertaining your guests. Although it can be a lot of work, I have some tips to make entertaining easy and seamless.

Organize: If you need to search for recipes, do that a few days in advanced. Then make a grocery list of everything you need. That way your not running around trying to find everything last minute.

Prep ahead of time: If there are certain dishes you can make ahead, I highly recommend you do so. You can even make some of your dishes a week in advance and freeze them. For example, lasagna is a great dish to make in advance and freeze. If you are serving appetizers, make sure they are out and ready before your guests arrive- one less thing you have to do after they get there.

Use Shortcuts: Buy your veggies already cut up (it’s more expensive but a HUGE time saver). If you’re baking use boxed cake mix and add other ingredients to make it taste homemade. Choose recipes where you only need to assemble the ingredients for example hummus dip, six layer greek dip, or chili cheese dip.

Clean as you go: This is also a big time saver. When you notice the dishes piling in the sink, throw them in the dishwasher to prevent a giant mess.

 The key with entertaining is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Try not to stress yourself out. If it’s your first time entertaining, your friends will understand if things aren’t perfect. If all else fails, order in some pizzas… at least you tried and you guests will appreciate the effort!

 

My new favorite lunch combo

Happy happy friday! How awesome is the Chicago weather today!?

I’ve been enjoying my power protein smoothie almost every morning this week. I substituted banana instead of the frozen acai. Fantastic!

I want to share my new favorite lunch combo I’ve been bringing to work. I have always felt that bringing your lunch to work not only saves you money but calroies as well. I’ve been having a hard time finding good lunch options because I’ve become such a picky eater lately. I refuse to eat chicken especially from a restaurant and most recently I no longer have a desire to eat turkey- even boar’s head. I’ve really tried to incorporate more poultry in my diet but I just can’t do it.

Last week I put on my thinking hat and created a vegetarian healthy meal for weekday lunches.

Stir fry vegetables over quinoa

I know this sounds so simple, and it is! My question is why didn’t I think of this before?! I absolutely love stir fry and can eat it for any meal. It’s easy to prepare as well.

I like to purchase stir fry veggies in bulk at either trader joe’s or whole foods in the produce section. I love that the veggies are already cut up for me so I can throw them in my wok.

Stir fry sauce: 1-2 tbsp of lipton onion soup with 1 cup of low sodium soy sauce. I let the onion soup dissolve in the soy sauce before adding it to the stir fry.

I cook the veggies on medium to high heat in 1 tbsp of coconut oil.

While the veggies are cooking, I prepare the quinoa according to the directions on the package.

Once everything is finished cooking, I mix it all together and either enjoy or divide the stir fry into tupperware containers.

This stir fry lunch keeps me full and satisfied so I can be on my A game the rest of the day.

Have a great weekend! xo

New Trader Joe’s Finds

Howdy folks, Happy Tuesday! I’ve been doing my weekly grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. I find that I can get more items for less, superb service, and a variety of options. Here are my most recent purchases.

I love bringing this soup for lunch

awesome sauce with a homemade taste

great for dipping or to spice up any sandwich

these bars taste like cookie dough and are only 150 calories

don't even get me started

I always like to try new things especially so I can share them with you. I also get Trader Joe’s news letter so I can be up to speed on their new products- I’m such a TJ’s junkie.

Have you tried any of the products above? What’s your favorite?

Low calorie pizza, 4 different ways!

Who doesn’t love pizza?

Lately, I’ve been craving pizza but as you know it’s not exactly the healthiest option. I’ve been mixing up variations of low calorie pizza recipes and have been enjoying these awesome varieties that have really hit the spot. Instead of ordering in or going out for deep dish, try one of these four low calorie pizza options.

Pizza on a sandwich thin

One of my lazy and low cal favorites. Click here for the recipe.
Flat out pizza
This easy peasy pizza is crunchy and satisfying. 
This would make a great meal served with a side of veggies.
Zucchini Pizza Logs
I made these the other night with fresh mozzarella and basil from my garden.
Awesomeness. Click here for the recipe.

Dr. Praeger’s Pizza Bagels
110 calories for this filling and delicious treat. 
Pop them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes and you will have a quick and satisfying snack
I dipped my pizza bagel in some fat free ranch…soooo good!

What’s your favorite?
Have a great day!

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Good afternoon! Look what I bumped into on my way to work this morning….
 Sweet Miss Givings food truck!
They offer a variety of baked goods where 100% of the proceeds go to help the formerly homeless and HIV/AIDS- affected men, women, and children of Chicago House.
 I went with the carrot cake cupcake….yum!

On to today’s topic…lately I have been bringing my lunch to work instead of eating out with co-workers. Although it’s nice to be social, I got so sick of the same things over and over again. Not only does it get expensive, but I am never satisfied.
Here are some healthy lunch ideas that are easy to pack….
Salad:
I am not a fan of lettuce but arugula is a green I have become obsessed with. I could eat arugula plain because it has so much flavor. I love the spiciness of this green, it totally livens up my salads like this one below.

arugula salad with shaved turkey breast
This is a simple yet flavorful salad that is easy to make when you’re in a hurry. I usually pair this with a light vinaigrette or a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
I recently bought fit and fresh tupperware that comes with an ice pack to keep food cold all day.

Yesterday’s salad had arugula, shaved turkey breast, 1/2 avocado, and 1/4 cup of reduced fat feta.

Sandwiches:

I don’t pack just any old turkey sandwich
 Sandwiches can become extremely boring. I like to liven mine up with reduced fat swiss cheese and pesto. I ask for shaved turkey breast at the deli counter and put it on a sandwich or bagel thin. It really hits the spot and beats your normal everyday turkey sandwich. Today I added avocado on my sandwich…awesome!
Eating out…
Mixed greens in the Loop allows you to customize your own salad.
Healthy Tips: opt for no cheese, no tortilla crisps, and ask for dressing on the side.
Stay away from creamy dressings!
Freshii is an awesome hot spot that serves, wraps, salads, and bowls. Above is a customized bowl I created with spinach, sprouts, chicken, and quinoa.
Other eating out recommendations:
Do you like to pack your lunch or would you rather eat out?
Have a great day!

Healthy Kitchen Gadgets

Good morning, happy Friday! This post started out as a wish list but since most of these gadgets are on my wish list I figured I would post these healthy kitchen gadgets that I want or that I’m currently obsessed with.

 Knife Set

I really need a new knife set. I am not sure what brand I want but this set looks perfect for me.
Zoku Quick Pop Maker
make your own healthy popsicles in as little as 7 minutes! How pretty are these pops shown above?!
Herb Pot
I LOVE cooking with fresh herbs. This stoneware herb pot will keep your herbs fresh for up to 4 days.

Glass Storage Containers
I love cutting up fresh fruit and veggies and putting them in tupperware containers. I am more likely to snack on them since they are right in front of my face as soon as I open the fridge.

Vita-Mix Blender

I want one of these SO bad. Last week Whole Foods was doing a demo on this blender and it totally caught my attention. This is an expensive blender but worth the investment.

Slow Cooker

I am obsessed with my slow cooker, especially in the winter. I love to make soups, stews, and even slow cooked BBQ chicken.
 Which of these gadgets do you want for your kitchen?
Have a great weekend!

Enjoy your vacay without getting fat

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am currently blogging from 10,000 feet in the air on my way to Florida with my family. 
Wi-fi on the plane is ah-mazing!  3 thumbs up
Since I’m going to be in a bikini and mini dresses most of the time, I made a master plan on how to enjoy vacation without coming home and feeling like a fat tub of lard. Most of the time we think vacation equals “I can pig out.”

Sure, you can pig out but you also need to be mindful of the choices you make, it’s easier than you think!

The day of…
Airport food sucks. If you want to eat healthy try sticking with something simple like a turkey sandwich or salad. When it comes to airport or airplane food, the simpler the better. Don’t even think about getting in the line at McDonalds…vacay hasn’t started yet.

FYI skip the “healthy” airport kiosks Most of the time you are not getting fresh, quality foods and paying a hefty price for it. gross veggie sandwich from an airport kiosk that I threw in the garbage
Always have snacks on hand. Bring granola bars, almonds, dried fruit, or pop chips.
Side note: Jan had to bake homemade hamentashen and bring it with us to Florida. Thanks Mom, just what I need when I’m getting in a bikini.

While you’re on Vacay:

Pace yourself. How do you pass up nutella and banana crepes in Paris? YOU DON’T. Just pace yourself and try not to get out of control.

Hide the mini bar key.  Do you really want to splurge on over priced chips and m&m’s? Save your calories for something that’s worth it!

Walk. On the beach, while shopping, opt for the walking tour, etc. Not only will you be able to see more of the city your traveling in, you will burn calories. Duh

Eat Regularly. We all love sleeping in while on vacation and running around seeing sites. Don’t skip meals, you will find yourself STARVING later on and pigging out on something you will regret. 


Peace out Chi Town
We really need a tan

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